Ok, so! its time! I’ve finished up Sturgis 2, so I’m ready to dive into how I felt about him, post games. Ready? Lets do this!
My original plan was a stealth skew list for Sturgis. The first time I took him out, it was into a legion list,and I didn’t fare so well. It was both Legion and Ravens of war, so both AD and the Stealth were both pretty useless. Even so, I was convinced that both aspects weren’t particularly going to work anyway, so, I set about making a different list with a bunch of different options that… also failed. After that, having been shot to pieces, I looked at Sturgis and asked myself what type of anti-shooting I can put into this list. I’ve complained about being shot a whole bunch, and needed to at least try out our tech to make sure that we don’t get shot in the face a hundred-hundred times.
What I ended up coming up with was a pretty bog-standard, typical list that would gum up as much shooting as it could. It had stealth, clouds, and shield guards. It was tailor made to be able to at least wade through some gunfire.
Well. How did it go?
In a word, poorly.
The problems with Sturgis are many and varied, and I don’t think that any given list will be able to overcome these problems.
First, and foremost, his feat is generally worthless. This is often the selling point of many casters, and should be the pivotal portion of any given game. Its use, or threat of use, should dictate the pace and the flow of the game. Sturgis, sadly, lacks that pressure. I played five games with him, and only used the feat twice. The first time was simply to use the feat. I managed to clear a little bit of LOS, but I had enough activations to have removed them all anyway. The second game was the last one I played, a huge swath of infantry, seemed to be the perfect target for the feat. Sadly, it was not. I caught 6 troopers close enough to take the POW 12. They were tough and half of them passed the check. This did give me three focus to allocate to my battlegroup which could have been great if they all didn’t need to go first to make Sturgis survive.
These two examples show that the feat is bad when approached at a number of different angles. First, it’s a short ranged, single-time effect that depends on other models positioning. It does not hinder or affect the opponent much, outside of that brief time where I get to eat my clock pulling them all closer so that I can then extend their threat range. Time and again, the targets of the feat would be ranged models and jacks that I’d not even be able to reach with an extra 3”, let alone the 1.5” or 2” that you likely get from the feat all being directly toward Sturgis. I don’t remember a single time where my opponent mentioned my feat in a way that wasn’t simply giggling at how bad it was.
Second, his feat forced him into dire peril. Unlike many casters who are going to be affecting portions of their models or portions of the board for a long period of time, the feat is an instant affect that is over and done, and then leaves piles – or at least whatever he tried to affect, at least within 9” of him. Amusingly, this is the exact charge distance of almost every speed 6 and many speed 5 models. This means he needs to save his focus for a teleport out, and that isn’t always the most efficient use of that precious resource. It also means that he could not upkeep occultation, cast any spell, and then teleport out. Possibly, that’s the point. You don’t want casters to do all of their abilities every turn, but this seems like a fairly important aspect of the character. Running in, pulling everyone towards him and then simply standing there feels very, very bad.
Third, as mentioned above, due to Sturgis’ uncanny fragility, desire for one arc node – those sweet FOC 6 Parasites! – And trying to use the desecrator for Feat shenanigans, his whole battlegroup often has to activate before he does. This renders at least 20% of the feat into further garbage. The utility of the feat is so moderately worthless. It would be much better as simply a worse Gortens feat, with damage added.
Finally, his feat isn’t a good threat extender in any way I’ve seen. While you can pull 1 to 3 models pretty close and try to get range you didn’t have on them, it is often much less of an extension than one would expect with more than that. It is especially hard to gauge what that extension is going to be, as well, without putting a whole pile of proxies and extra bases out. Judging the ability to pull in and remove as many enemies as possible is critical, and often, it just didn’t seem feasible to use the feat to yank models forward to not kill them, or simply to engage the front line and be shot up by the rest.
So, outside of his feat? Well.
His Focus is so, so low. Many times, in other factions with other casters, a FOC 6 caster is specialized in passive buffs, upkeeps and strong spells that allow the caster to work within the limitations of the Focus stat that they are saddled with, with effects that buff or hinder the opponent on their feats, making them feel more powerful than their FOC would indicate. Sturgis, does not. He has three offensive spells, one of which is extremely critical to utilize in order to apply the pressure that Cryx needs to be able to turn the tide, and they are almost universally expensive. FOC 6 is just too little to have so many dependencies on it.
Combine that limited focus with expensive spells, and need to boost for both hit and damage because of the spells poor accuracy and power, add his lackluster MAT, Def and Armor, and you’ve just got a recipe for disaster. Where MAT 7 is great for a trooper, it isn’t particularly impressive on a ‘Caster who seems to be completely focused on getting it done himself. The problem, compounding that and indicated above, is that 15/16 isn’t particularly tanky. 15/17 is solid, if he can spend the focus to get out parasite. Sadly, this often means that it is better for him to cast it on his own model(s) in order to benefit. As an Aside, I will say that 15/19 v. Shooting and Magic seems pretty solid with the Wraith Engine, and the Wraith Engine benefiting from Parasite and being a huge body to block distance to Sturgis seems good. Maybe, if I ever take him out again, I could build a list around him.
Thus far, we have a model who is strapped on focus with expensive spells that need boosts to be effective, with mediocre defensive stats and a lackluster MAT. Unfortunately that is capped out with a pretty shoddy offensive output. He has a massive quantity of personal rules. He’s got good speed (6) and Reach on his weapon, but he has no solid way to increase his personal threat because he can’t pull casters with his feat. He has a reasonable melee damage output, which is pretty good. P+S 13 with Chain Attack- Dark Shroud and Parasite seems good at first glance, but it is really hampered by his lackluster MAT, especially combined with the Snap Strike rule because each boosted to-hit roll is two lost attacks. To get up to POW 18 on his attacks – a respectable level – requires both initial attacks to hit (boost those, right?) and then a 4 focus spell (3 to cast and then one to boost to hit) and all of the sudden he doesn’t have any attacks any more. And, to further exacerbate the issue, he can’t teleport away because he’s still out of focus.
What makes me so sad about Sturgis was that he feels like he is half a step behind the whole game. He’s got an average control range, with an average spell list, and blandly average stats. His feat is average at best, and his offensive output requires so much intense work that it is either not existent or not worth it. Nothing makes me desire to play Sturgis, and that is a shame. I believe that being average is fine for most entries into the game, but being average for a ‘caster is a complete death knell. Snowflakes won’t flock to you because you’re not so bad that they have to prove you’re good, and the players looking for strong casters won’t look at you because you have a hard time competing. Instead, they end up stuck in the middle with their thumbs firmly implanted in their rectum, hoping for an errata.
So, Sturgis was a mess. Following in the footsteps of Scaverous might not have done him any favors as that was the most fun that I was able to have with Cryx in all of MK II. He has his Supporters, and they have found ways to use him that I just cannot get to work, but have found success with him. While I cannot endorse anyone actually playing this guy, I will say that there are people out there who can give some assistance to you, it just isn’t me. He’s painted, based and ready to sit in my case forever, once I get one.
Until next time,