Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Storm Striding, my experience with the new Cygnar battle engine.
I was lucky enough to attend Lock and Load this year and managed to pick up the Storm Strider a month or so early. I build the Strider at the show and then played five games with it at Lock and Load. Once I got back, I've averaged 3-4 game a week and I think out of those I've played two or three games with out the Strider. So I'm well over a dozen games with it and probably very close to 20. So after all those games, here is my assessment of the Storm Strider.
First I'll layout my overall feel for it and then drill into some of the details. I really like the Strider, it's a Firepower asset that really adds something to Cygnar that it's been lacking, a strong mobile firebase that's not a focus hog. It's Mobile with Pathfinder, long ranged, has several accuracy tricks to make it very versatile on how it spends it's firepower, and is a pain to kill for a lot of units/models. However it's fragile to powerful Melee units, Reach jack/Beasts, and can have problems dealing with Jacks, Beasts or Casters.
In most the Games I've played the Strider, it's great at sitting in the back field and blasting away. I've been very impressed with it's Lightning Generator's electro leaps and the weapons pow 15. I find I almost always have a good highly dependable play each turn, because it's combination of range, electro leaping, aiming and super conductor. When facing a combined arms force, I can usually target jacks or beasts while picking targets that can have beneficial electro leaps. When facing stealthed targets, it's not hard to run a model up close to shoot and have the electro leaps bounce into the stealthed models. Aiming and Super Conductor can give you a fairly reliable rat 8 and the occasional rat 10. Critical Disruption also adds to it's ranged shock potential. Two shots a turn allows for fairly reliable firepower and a very decent amount of anti infantry firepower.
The Weakness of this unit is also one of it's strengths. It don't use Focus. Battle engines bring an almost jack/beast like battle presence but with out requiring focus, However not being able to reliably boost attack or damage rolls really reins in it's potential against hard targets. The Strider like most the other battle Engines appears to be largely focused on anti infantry and table control. Battle Engines will rarely get a caster kill with out a ton of other support, as opposed to a similar priced heavy jack and 2-3 focus.
The Battle Engine has been very survivable in the majority of my games, having only had it destroyed 3, maybe 4 times, about of my dozen plus games. Once someone shoots it and you gain a power token, I've noticed people stop shooting it, unless they have overwhelming firepower. The repulsor field keeps non reach Solos and jacks/beast from dealing to much damage in an alpha, but does little against melee infantry. Jacks or Beasts with Reach will also almost ignore the repulsor field if they have enough movement to get base to base. Additionally clever placement of models can also anchor a model so it can't be pushed away.
Getting back to Melee Infantry, while they are the Strider biggest threat, they also it's preferred target. It's range and Pathfinder can usually allow it to pound and kite most medium to heavy infantry, while light infantry can be abused by clever use of elector leaps (and some good luck on the D3 rolls). Speaking of Pathfinder, it's one of the things I really value about the strider, as Cygnar is pathfinder deficient as a faction, it's almost invaluable to be able to stick a strider on a flack with heavy terrain and being able to just drive through it. The Strider loves to hang out in Rivers and inside forests that other Cygnar units typical have to maneuver around.
The Strider also offers one other form of table control, it's electro leap. Opponents will often try to control or negate the impact of the elector leap by spreading units out or huddling jacks together so the electro leaps bound among them if they are targeted. This adds a layer of complexity to there turns that can eat up time or cause other mistakes and game play errors. Units that are forced to spread out lose out on alpha striking potential. Huddled jacks allow you to try to outmaneuver or aoe wreak them with things like Black Oil, E-Eiyrss, and other small area debuffs.
Caster wise, I've played the Strider with Constance, E-Haley, E-Stryker, E-Nemo, Siege, P-Caine, and P-Haley. I liked it with Constance, as she tend to take a melee heavy list and the Ranged Support the Strider provides can really help disrupt your enemy and it's electro leaps can really help out with facing super high defense infantry like Kayazy or Iron fleshed Winterguard. With E-Stryker, I run a Stormblade Deathstar and they have some good synergies with the Strider, as the Strider can shoot them easily for Electro leap fun and they can get the +2 to hit on there ranged attack if they are attacking something with in 5" of the Strider. Both Haley's can give it a Third Attack and dead eye, while P-Haley has Temporal Barrier to defend against melee infantry and to make the strider more accurate. E-Nemo was the only caster I didn't like the Strider with, as he can power an amazing ranged offence and I'd rather have spent the points on more jacks or jack support. Siege's feat worked quite well with the Strider's guns if your clever with targeting and abusing the electro leaps. P-Caine can Sniper and Dead Eye it, but he's pretty heavy on the anti infantry himself, so outside large games it might make a P-Caine list over specialized at anti infantry. Overall I think it's getting pretty close to an auto include for me, unless the list really requires the points spent towards a theme/goal.
Overall I'm very pleased with the Strider and the other battle engines I've faced, the Arcantrik Force Generator and Gun Carriage. They all seem to be compelling models with a solid slant towards anti Infantry. While they have a cost similar to a warjack or warbeast, they are with out a doubt easier to kill and with out reliable boosting they lack the explosive damage or highly accurate attacks that Focus provides. The Menoth battle engine does allow for reliable boosts, so that engine probably plays stronger as an anti jack/caster unit.