Backers! Mr. Black here, and finally convention season has drawn to an end. We here at CMoN do the full gambit of them and the last few have been the biggest (Namely GenCon and DragonCon). We had a lot of people stop by to chat Wrath of Kings at both conventions, and it was a good time meeting the backers and fans. Now that the season has winded down (only BoardGameGeekCon in November left!) I'm taking the time to do something I've been wanting to do for a bit, and give some tactical talks about the various factions and the units within.
As you know, I've been trying to keep you updated with this project in anyway I can- whether it be models, rules, production, logistics, etc etc, but my title is Lead Developer, and this area is where I'm happiest, so taking some time to just talk strategy is welcome :)
Today we're going to be looking at Hadross, which, I will admit, is my favorite faction ascetically. Play-style wise... Well I won't say who my favorite is, as every army has a certain appeal to me, but when it comes to looks Hadross wins for me (with Nasier coming in second). As with every faction, the first thing involved was creating the "faction identity"- basically what the central ideology of the faction is, which in turn will develop its play-style.
With Hadross the central theme is outlasting any and all threats to them, and punishing enemies for attacking them. The other mechanic unique to Hadross is "Resonating" enemies- basically the have several effects that will "Mark" a model with Resonate, and the units that do such each have different effects based on that fact- we'll get into those more with the specific unit discussions.
Overall these two factors combine to create an army that will make basically any play risky for the opponent- Hadross is already one of the "tankier" factions, but combine that with the Resonate mechanic and your opponent will never know just what is a good time to go "all in" and what isn't, A smart Hadross player will know what units are safe and when they can afford to throw them into harms way.
I have a feeling a lot of people are going to underestimate these guys. They aren't super flashy, they don't have any insane ability to deal damage, and compared to a lot of the stranger looking Hadross units these guys aren't visually terrifying.
And I think that will cause them to be sorely underestimated.
Deepmen Guardians are arguably the single hardest Infantry in the game to kill- their Defense Chart only has them being damaged 30% of the time (versus the standard 40%), and that 10% will make a difference in the end. Combine this with their "Mark" mechanic, which gives them Defensive Expertise(x) equal to the number of Resonated targets in contact (Defensive Expertise forcing attacks to be re-rolled) and you have a super hearty Infantry that will stress your opponent out trying to kill.
When playing these guys I would suggest using that tankiness to your advantage. A lot of players might want to play passively with the Guardians, but their natural ability to take a hit means you can afford to be a bit reckless with them- Use them to herd your opponent's forces, making them move around them to find better targets or engage them and hope they don't spend too much time trying to kill them. Remember, even though they don't have a huge damage output, their opponent will usually be a softer target than them, and thus will lose the prolonged fight.
Carrying much the same appeal as the Guardians, the Sevridan are the first of Hadross' Rank 2 Infantry. The big difference here is while the Deepmen Guardian's tankiness comes from their Mark mechanic the Gutter's comes from their own innate Resilience: 2.
While many will look at the two units and think they serve the same purpose (and they do, to an extent) I think if you look further you see the Sevridans form a much different function. As I said before, I dont feel bad throwing Deepmen into the fray- even if they go down, they're still Rank 1 Infantry and the most plentiful thing in my army. The Sevridan, on the other hand, are a bit more valuable, and should be treated as such.
The real purpose of the Sevridan, to me anyway, is battlefield control- The Deepmen can take a hit and thus can form a wall or obstacle around an area, giving my opponent some tough choices as how to deal with them, but with the Sevridan I'm taking that choice out of my opponent's hands. This is done via the Paralytic Presence ability of the Sevridan, which makes it so enemies cannot disengage, aka it roots them to the Sevridan. The Sevridan can then use their Gelatinous Shift ability to move around, pulling all those enemies with them-
This can be used to great effect if you manage to snare an enemy Leader, shifting them from Sevridan to Sevridan until they are incredibly displaced (or killed), thus breaking any nearby Infantry- Infantry that usually will not be able to harm Sevridan (remember, Resilience: 2) without a Leader nearby to issue a Combined Attack order.
Again, I feel people will initially use these guys as a wall- something for the enemy to just slam into (if they feel like it), but I think the Sevridan's battlefield control will truly shine in the hands of a learned player.
CARCHARIAN FRENZIESThe "offensive" branch of the Hadross army, the Carcharians are Rank 2 Infantry, fast, and deadly. The least "defensive" of the three base Hadross Infantry types, the Carcharians have given up a decent amount of survivability for raw killing power. Of the three types, they have the highest base damage output and speed- of course this comes at a cost. While they have the ability to heal if they kill a model, a savvy opponent will know to focus a Carcharian until it is fully dead- the issue will come in making sure to do so before the rest of the shark-swarm are upon you.
The other trade-off is one a lot of people probably wont consider. Right now, Hadross is the slow-grind: they will outlast you in a fight, and that's their key. The Carcharians go against that tactic by throwing large offense into the mix. While this can be a good tactical tool for a lot of players, it's also a trap as an overeager player may throw a large wave of Carcharians at a target in hopes of taking them down, all the while ignoring the setup of their defensive troops. Should the full offensive fall the player will find their main offensive punch dead and the rest of their army sorely out of position, making it easy disassembly for their opponent.
In the right hands the Carcharian can be a great tool to supplement the Hadross army, but they're a lot like having a rabid dog on a leash- you need to know the best time to let them loose and not just throw them at the first enemy in sight.
A solid support piece, the Deep Caller is one of the only sources of ranged Resonate in the entire Hadross army. He also packs a decent ranged punch in The Voice Demands. Overall I view him as harassment piece- He sets up the enemy with Resonate to allow the other elements of your army to make the best use of their own abilities. In addition he also packs natural board control via his Icy Depths ability. Run a few of these guys, spread out, and you'll have a wall of Rough terrain to slow the enemies advance, making up for the natural speed issues that Hadross tends to have.
A big walking crab. Must I say more?
Alright, fine. The Reaver is the tank of the Hadross specialists (and that is saying something). Being the only Rank 1 Specialist in the game to have 2 HP and Resilience 2. This guy is solid all around, he has a decent attack that only gets better when attacking Resonated targets, he is pretty beefy for his Rank, and best of all he makes the rest of the army faster.
I never like models that are "auto-include" in an army, and that sentiment carries over into Wrath of Kings. Sure, the Calith, with his Hitching a Ride ability allows you to make the rest of your army faster, something Hadross definitely has issues with, but it also makes your forces very predictable- Your opponent always knows that you're going to have guys clustering around the Calith Reaver, and that can be a bit problem in some cases.
Overall, I feel newer players will jump on this guy (JOKE! HAR HAR HAR!) immediately and take him every time, but I think after time you will see less and less of him- Not that he isn't worth it, by no means am I saying that, but the "trick" will have run its course and opponents will know how to counter it.
Of course, once again in the hands of a seasoned player, he will see more purpose- Don't limit him to being a giant mobile taxi- he is built for more than that. Nothing will surprise an opponent more than your Calith suddenly charging off after a target and throwing down a Rate Melee Attack with Sundering(2).
In short, feel free to treat him like a taxi early game, but remember that he can also randomly charge off at something and run it down... Sort of like a real taxi I suppose?
THE ORACLE OF ULLOTH
The first of our Rank 2 Character Specialists, the Oracle punishes opponents for being Resonated near him. This brings up another strategy that you'll see emerging amongst the Hadross- they have a surprisingly large amount of battlefield control across their units. This helps to mitigate the overall lack of speed in the army, With the Oracle he has Demands of the Voice, which causes a large AoE of damage against Resonated units (oh, and of course with Fear of the Deep he makes it easier for them to be wounded...So there's that).
The other main effect is that Hadross by and by have a lot of Will Attacks that do direct damage. This means that they can get past high Resilience armies with some ease (well... they have an easier time, anyway). The funny thing is that Hadross have a harder time against mass amounts of Rank 1 Infantry- where a bulk of attacks will get past their defense. Luckily, they have units like The Oracle to help that out.
I really don't know why I like shouting his name like that...
Ok, I'm done. So what we have here is a Character Deep Caller, except that all his abilities have been TURBO-CHARGED! EPHRAMAKI has the same Calling of the Voice ability the Deep Callers have (albeit a higher Willpower) but also has Wall of Water, an improved version of the Deep Caller's area control in that this one creates Rough(2) terrain. Not only that, but he has a new ability, Crushing Waves, that can put some serious hurt on all models around him.
Not only this, but his basic attack has been replaced with Hydro Blast, which is basically a stream version of the basic Deep Caller attack. Overall, EPHRAMAKI is actually one of the easier to wound Hadross units- the main issue is that devoting the resources to damaging him can come back to bite your opponent as he likewise has some of the highest potential damage output of the entire Hadross army. Use him much like you would a Deep Caller- a board control model that dishes out Resonate to whatever targets you need dead. Should the opponent go after the kill I wouldn't worry too much, as EPHRAMAKI can hold his own against most threats.
.... .... .... EPHRAMAKIIIII!!!!!
Here we have a unique entry into the Hadross army. Of all the Rank 2 Character Specialists Ilva is the most unique addition to Hadross. Not particularly resilient, not particularly damaging, Ilva exists in a middle-ground where her abilities are the primary thing that makes her great.
Starting off she has Syren Wail, which in of itself is a decent, albeit short ranged attack. This is mainly a defensive ability and if you're having to use it it means that she has been clustered on by the enemy- not a place she wants to be. It can be effective, but it's by no means her primary skill.
Next up she has Syren Call, which is the first of her primary uses. Basically she works to control the movement of the enemy forces and, again, mitigate the lack of speed that most Hadross units have (I know, it's weird, it's like we're seeing a theme here or something). This attack can really surprise a careless opponent when they suddenly find their Leader model moving out in front of the rest of their troops by 9".
Lastly, she also has the Syren of the Deep ability, which basically lets her act as a control nod for your Leaders, extending their range by 6". This is particularly useful as (I know I keep saying it) Hadross has movement issues- Should you lose a Leader that was keeping a flank together it can cause some major disruptions in your forces. Ilva helps that problem in allowing you to more quickly fill in that gap with another Leader. Should your forces never lose a Leader she still allows you to spread everyone out a bit more with her ability, allowing for greater tactical maneuverability.
The last item we're talking about today are the Orsund Cavaliers, the big monster Rank 2 Specialist of Hadross. Ok, so these guys are big and nasty, but what makes them good?
Well, size is actually a thing here- being that big means they have a large footprint, and that means more space taken up by your own troops, and thus less for your opponent. Sure, they have a scary Rate Melee Attack in Rip and Tear, but for me the main benefit of these guys is their Tentacle Grab, which ca straight up move an enemy up to 8". Even if that attack deals no damage you're still pulling someone (Leader, or other juicy target) right into the thick of your troops.
Want to piss off an opponent? Have your Orsund Cavalier use Tentacle Grab to move someone into the middle of a swarm of Sevridan Gutters, then have those Gutters start using Gelatinous Shift to move the target even more. By the end you might have a flank completely devoid of Combined Actions as their Leader is now in the back of your line, far, far away from any Infantry to order and no real means of escape.
I hope you have a better understanding of Hadross now, both playing with them as well as preparing to play against them. Remember that, while Hadross is the lowest of all the factions, they make up for it in raw board control and resilience. If you let Hadross play their game they will end up beating you in the long run. The important thing to remember is not to allow them to bully you and take control of the battlefield. Focus on Motivations and Objectives when playing against them, as usually its going to require a frustratingly large amount of resources to remove their units from the battlefield.
Capitalize on their lack of speed, don't get caught playing their game (Smashing your head against a bunch of rocks in the hope you'll win eventually) and play to your Motivation. Do this and you should fair a good chance against Hadross... Hadross players? Well, after reading everything posted, you should now understand how scary you can be. Trap your opponent, force them into no-win situations, and dont be afraid to be a bully!
And that concludes our overview on Hadross, dear backers. We'll take a look at another faction next time, or perhaps some other bit of tactical talk on Motivations.