Jam Theory – Warjacks

I have previously discussed the basics of Jam Theory, and then proceeded to talk about my  Infantry options just a few days ago. In keeping with that, I’m going to examine the remaining portions of a Warmachine list, breaking down why I take both the Solos and the Warjacks that I do. Its not a typical list, and its not going to appeal to everyone, I know.

First things first, as I mentioned in the original article, I don’t go the ‘Jack heavy route that others have gone.That rode is paved and well worn and its just something I don’t have the desire or capacity to buy, build, and paint. While lights are better in pairs, especially our combat versions, I’ve already got two magnetized Slayer chassis and I don’t use either. The list I run focuses purely on jamming the opponent and doesn’t run a single heavy, and I’ve never missed it. There was a brief time, after the first outing, when I realized that I had too much jam in the list and didn’t bring enough options, any really, to solve armor, that I considered a heavy of two. In the end it was ust more economical to add 12 Bane Thralls and Tartarus. I’ve even recently dropped Tartarus as well, not needing either his speed or his bonus to hit.

On the other edge of that sword, though, I’ve really been hedging my bets on the arcnodes. A friend of mine keeps telling me I take to many, and that 2 is going to be more than enough. What I’ve been running is a cheap trio of a ‘Nodes, featuring a pair of Nightwretches and a Deathripper. Again, I’ve been told that three is to many, but I feel that in this specific build you can never be to careful. Having the right spell in the right spot during the right witch activation in order to hand out Ghost Walk, Occultation, and Curse of Shadows wherever called for is a strong enough reason to have enough nodes to accomplish the task.


The Nightwretch, specifically, is my go to in this list. Focusing on Jam and scenario, there will be many, many times that you’re going to need to remove but a single model from the Zone to win, or your going to need a charge lane cleared or a spot for an arc node freed. The humble nightwretch does all of that and more in a single package. With a Rat 5 it can hit jacks reliably, boosting to damage with its pow 14 cannon. Conversely, that same Pow 14 will decimate nearly any infantry model it hits, needing only to boost.  The sirens, vital to the list, tag along beside him making sure he can run or kill his target, whatever is needed.

Second here is the Deathripper. With the same 4 pc as the Nightwretch, they bring a completely different threat to the board. Amped up with Infernal Machine, this little jack can do tons of work. P+S 15 v. Curse of Shadowed targets, MAT 8 and Speed 9 with a 12.5″ charge just gives it insane threat range. I cannot say enough good things about this little demon in this specific list. The debate over whether ranged or melee is better is endless, but I am firmly on the side of ranged. My arc nodes are never in combat, being that they can’t channel then, or they are dead and can’t channel anyway. Though they are slightly more survivable with her feat denying LOS and giving an essentially +2 def buff, its very rare that any node I get into combat lives.

The other two Arc nodes make honorable mention here as well, generally accomplishing the same task at a slightly higher price point.both have upside and I’ve considered the Ripjaw for its AP attack and its vice lock, one of which can apply significant damage, the other pinning a model in place for scenario pressure. I’ve also considered the Defiler for its spray attack that ignores many defenses, at a slightly higher range, but lower power. Upgrading them, however, will result in the loss of either a Scarlock or a Warwitch siren, neither of which I am ready to give up quite yet.

Infernal Machine, many will say, is a direct call for a heavy ‘Jack with them, and I can’t really disagree. Our ‘Jacks with speed 8, Mat 9+ and terror are literal nightmares, but with all the focus that I toss around casting spells and delivering units I can’t spare the resources that would be needed to take care even a single heavy ‘Jack. Instead, I give Infernal Machine to my Deathripper and set him loose. Speed 9 on an arcnode is bonkers-good, and mat 8 with sustained attack is extremely legit. The 40mm base size has gives him a bit of added mobility that I’d have not expected, allowing him to get in to places I would not have been able to fit a heavy. The arc nodes are also fast enough to keep up with the jam, and can either run flanks, or lope down the middle behind the army.

Though three arcnodes may be a touch to many for some, I find that the utility of having one of them a combat ‘Jack and other two having powerful ranged weapons makes it so that the points are not wasted if I am not arcing spells through them. With Sirens giving power booster out and the Scarlock delivering ghostly where needed all three can be extremely potent threats and powerful scenario pieces.

For the sake of argument, though, lets take a look at some of the better  ‘jacks for the Coven to take, keeping the Jam in mind. I don’t expect everyone anyone to be net decking my list, but anyone who happens across this may want to tweak things a bit.

-Harrower: Oh man, the good things about this jack are endless. Reach and Thresher on its P+S 16 melee weapon, a P+S 14 Ghost Shot AOE 3 gun, Soul Collector, Pathfinder, Steady, it just goes on. There are, however, a pair of bad things: Speed 5, and PC 10. In a Jam list, the Speed 5 is an extreme handicap, especially for the 10 points. However, with an investment of Infernal Machine, it becomes a speed 7, mat 7 reach thresher monster. If you’re not taking the Machine Minds list, I think its a very strong option. It also can make a hell of a self fueling powerhouse after the initial three focus investment, possibly killing every model it can get in its 2″ reach


-Deathjack: Really? Really, I’m going here. Yes, Deathjack is good with almost everyone, but its also exceedingly amazing with the Coven. With the ability to charge in, Curse of Shadows, and then take its attacks, or to give itself Ghost Walk, Infernal Machine or Occultation, its a nearly self sufficient death machine. While Deathjack begs for Occultation, there are just better targets in the list I have than good ol’ DJ. The threat of a MAT 10 speed 8 Deathjack is enough to make many soil their shorts right out, thought he terror is redundant. Finally, an extra boosted Stygian Abyss could be stellar. Personally,  I’d just rather use the 12 points on the backup Bane Thralls, who are both more durable by quantity and can hit more often while granting a debuff.

-Slayer: Its a simple, brutal instrument of death that can really push the boundaries of awesome when Infernal Machine is applied. MAT 9, Speed 8 and Terror are simply above and beyond what most heavies can reasonably accomplish. With the Coven able to feed him up to three focus easily, its a no brainier for its 6 point investment.

The light of note here is a Stalker. Sometimes its the simple things that win games, and an Arcane Assassin POW 12 Jack with Mat 7 and speed 7 can cause ample amount of terror without Infernal Machine. With Infernal Machine it goes up to SPD and MAT 9, causing terror and all the while being def 16 w/ stealth. Its one thing I feel might take the spot of the Deathripper, but I’m not yet convinced.

Next time, I’ll talk a bit about my Solo choices and a bit about how I’ve learned to play the game. I’m so very happy that I picked the coven back up again.

Oh, and Next week I’ll be at lock and load! I’ll probably be tweeting my journey through Spelldraft, my Iron Arena adventures, and any spoilers I get along the way. Follow me @Seethingginger for the dumb tweets! Don’t worry though, I’ll do a Lock and Load wrap up the Thursday after I get back.