Last week at Gencon, we had the special edition release of the newest Cryx Caster, Captain Aiakos. The second version of the Jr Warcaster released with the Kickstarter a couple years back. At the same time the released his counterparts Limited Editions – Jakes, Tristian, Elara and Malakov. There seem to be a concept of a clear winners and losers, with Jakes and Elara getting huge buzz and the rest filling in the lesser status below the vaunted top tier casters. Today, I want to look at Aiakos, hopefully in a pretty standard light, and see how he shakes out in concept.
Its easiest to tackle his simple and easy to digest stat line first. Its got basic and pretty standard stats all around –
-Nothing Special here, honestly. MAT 7 is the very baseline when it comes to taking out other casters, who generally start at DEF 14 and only get better. Def and Arm 15 seem fine, until you remember Skarre (16/15) and Asphyxious (15/16) both exist in the same faction.
He does have 17 boxes, which is pretty hardy, and 29 Warjack points, which is good.
He maintained his Harpoon – RNG 6 POW 12 with ROF 1, but his Melee weapon went up a point in POW, now at 13, and gained .5″ of reach to total out to a full 1″. Both are Magical Damage typed.
He has only one special Quality – Tough, an ability I hate on a Warcaster and even more on one that once had stealth. Loosing stealth, or trading it for Tough, is a big deal, and not a good one for the Captain.
The big blow, though, is his Focus stat. at a paltry 6, he is starting on pretty weak ground as Cryx ‘casters go. Only three casters sit on a base focus of 6 in the faction; Terminus, who makes up for it with massive melee potential, sacrificial pawn, and 18 armor, Skarre 1, who makes up for it with a completely over the top spell list and a fantastic feat, and Sturgis 2, who, despite being clearly the worst caster in the faction in MK II received no love in the transition to 3rd and sits well below everyone radar due to being overshadowed by every other caster in the faction. It is not an auspicious start for our hero.
Lets move to the back of the card.
Fortunately he kept two of his best rules – Leap and Drag, enabling some extremely versatile movement strategies that will often mess with the opponents positioning and enable angles of attack that have a hard time being predicted. He also added Grevious wounds as an always on ability or Reaver, his melee weapon. This hearkens back to his ability Death Bringers in his original incarnation, though grievous wounds is but a shadow of its former self. The only real benefit he gets from it is that an opponents model cannot make a tough check. Being unable to heal is solid on most other models, but without a way to disengage from his target, I don’t really see a use to leaving him in combat, as confident as you may be at the time that he will not die, with a creature that you need grievous wounds on. Loosing the ability to affect transfers without gaining anything really hurt the ability. I look upon it with much less enthusiasm than I have before.
Spells and Feat
Here is where we are supposed to get to the bread and butter of the caster. When one has as little on the front as it seems he does, you look to the spells to make up the difference. Lets see what he’s got:
Huh. When they said that each caster would get a unique spell, they didn’t always mean one that defines the character.
Here we have a number of inexpensive spells with a variety of uses. Assail adds threat range to a ‘Jack as well as allows it a bit of Focus efficiency. Scything Touch adds to the damage output of both the army and the single model. Sadly, no jacks can benefit from both, and have to choose. I know, a sad state to be in. Carnage is great conceptually, but on a 12″ control range it really sucks, especially with a caster to vulnerable to dying as the 15/15 Aiakos. Stranglehold is amazing, I am not going to lie, but with only a 6 to hit and a POW 12 really struggles against the targets you want to contain. Either they have high armor or high defense, making it really chancy to cast the spell.
White Squall is the unique spell that Aiakos was granted, and it seems pretty interesting.
“Instead of suffering a normal damage roll, A non-Incorporeal model hit by White Squall is thrown d6″ directly away from the spell’s point of origin and suffers a POW 12 damage roll. The model Thrown does not deviate. Collateral damage from the throw is POW 12.”
It is an extremely simple spell. Target model is thrown (if successful) and takes a pow 12.
It intrigues me. I think a lot of my hate for the caster comes from the FOC 6. White Squall is COST 3, and boosting to hit means your forfeiting any ability you have to survive retaliation or forfiting all ability to actually have your caster influence the game after that point. Having to choose between giving up Scything Touch and Assail and even contemplating casting White Squall is terrible. Unless you are already up on your opponent, winning without needing three (he cannot safely cast Carnage that turn, either) spells from your repertoire, Squall seems simply right out, which is really disappointing for a signature spell. I feel I will rarely cast it in a good game, and will instead cast it only in games I am ahead.
Maybe I am undervaluing the spell. It is true that Haley 3, Kreoss 3 and even Rhan are all running off of some awesome knockdown shenanigans that allow for some pretty awesome assassinations. That said, they almost all have ways of making it worth it, where as Aiakos just feels like he does not. White Squall feels like a wasted spell, especially due to throws not affecting models along the path that are smaller, on a caster that can ill afford it. \
Finally, we get to the Feat.
Man. I was really excited about this one for a few minutes. Its a simple, two sentence feat: Battlegroup models currently in his control range gain Assault and +3 Speed. Feat lasts for a turn. The thought of Malice or a Reaper yanking something in from miles away to beat it to death left me with some really cool goosebumps. Alas, it was not to be, as an Assault move that finishes out of melee range of its target is a failed charge. I am allowed to make the one ranged attack, and then possibly the one melee attack, but that is it. No need to load a jack on focus.
Here is the interesting, and for me, terrifying, part of Aiakos – List building.First off some initial thoughts, and then what is likely to be my first list.
Defiler – This seems like a perfect model for his feat, one of the few out there. Charge of 13″ + 8″ Spray seems excellent. Playing 3+ of them could really give infantry a run for its money, as well as an extremely solid assassination vector.
Harrower – The Harrower both has an awesome gun and an awesome charge, and seems like the perfect pairing for Aiakos, but I expect this is actually a significant amount of negative synergy. A Harrower wants to assault a group of Multiple models, what with its AOE 3 and Thresher rules, but one is likey to nullify the other. When/if the Mortifier hits, it will likely kill many of the targets for the Perisher. I will be using the Harrower a few times, but I think it is going to be a real downer in practice.
Reaper/Malice – We’ve gone over the problem with his assault and drag, but I think that this tactic is still very solid. Malice or a reaper with Scything Touch assaulting into someone from 20 inches away and pulling them in for the kill by the rest of the army seems like a good idea. With Carnage and scything touch stacking together and giving every model in the army +2 to hit and damage I can see some real damage coming in.
Desecrator – Assaulting with an AOE 4 could is really good, but the range is really suffocated.
Kraken – This one seems to have it all – Huge threat range with Assail, extra MAT with Carnage, and a great gun to assault with.
Satyxis – Both seem pretty solidly inclined here. With the ability for a single Satyxis to grant Dark shroud, hit at MAT 10, and grant the whole unit P+S 13, it seems pretty solid. The same can be said for the blessed weapons and Gang tactics of the Blood Witches.
Blackbanes – Mat 8 Blackbanes sounds sweet. Mat 10 in the back arc sound even more awesome. Honestly, with the decline of Aiyanna and Holt, I really feel that these little bastards are increasing in stock.
Soulhunters – I always think that soulhunters need more MAT. even 6+ 3d6 isn’t enough for me, most days. A solid 8 would be amazing.
Banes – Of course, the final Unit is Banes. Bane Knights Dark Shroud, and bringing them up to MAT 8 against most everything, with a solid MAT 10 against a single target model/unit, I think Bane Knights have solid potential with him.
Slaugherborn – What can I say here that isn’t immediately obvious. Mat 10? P+S 15? Yes please, give me that dude to eat infantry all day every day.
This is what I am thinking:
Bane Knights x10
We will see where it goes!