-Ed (Tacitus Damnatio)
OK, so you’ve chosen to play the racist pointy eared denizens of Ios who, in the words of PP Forum’s Kallas: “when life gives you lemons, kill all humans”… So where do you start and what is it that makes Retribution of Scyrah (Ret) strong, weak, quirky, unique, appealing and what have you. Here, I will more provide what Ret can do, with less by way of individual model’s special rules, as there would be a lot to get through!
To start off with, a quick beginner buyer’s guide. The best starting point is, naturally, the new Mk3 battlebox. Helynna is a solid caster with an easy to learn gameplay style, but also some more challenging tools that vets are still getting used to. The Myrmidons are a mixed but flexible bunch that, while not necessarily exceeding the sum of their parts in the battlebox, will find a great deal of use elsewhere. Also, magnetise the heavy if you can, makes things much easier to deal with further down the line. My recommendation is to magnetise the elbows and wrists and don’t glue the vents in (that go in between the shoulders).
So, what to get next. Bigger battlegroup? A second House Shyeel heavy is always helpful, magnetise again, only this time go for the Hydra and Phoenix pair (it takes quite a bit of fiddling about to be able to make all three) and you’ll be able to field any combination of two different HS Myrmidons. After that, there’s only one priority buy (or rather, three) and that’s the lowly Arcanist Mechanik (times three). At 75pts, it will be quite rare to see a Ret list with fewer than two of these coffee swillers and most list building starts with setting aside six points for as many as you can get in! After that come the units and other solos. Here, its really up to you. Personal recommendation would be a House Vyre chassis, Sylys Wyshnalyrr, an Eiryss (1 is my favoured at the moment) and Dawnguard Sentinels. (If you can find one, get the Ret all in one, great value for money and has stuff you’ll use a lot, plus one of our strongest casters in Issyria.)
Generally though: what do you like the look of? What sort of game do you like to play? What sort of budget do you have? Let’s go through some of the broader options (don’t worry, you’ll end up like me sooner or later… with everything the faction offers and more… >.>).
In terms of aesthetic, Dawnguard is sleeker, Houseguard is more rugged, while for the more (not outright, however) tree-hugger (never say that to their faces, though!) go for the Mage Hunters and House Shyeel is known for big gloves that facilitates chucking magic about. Myrmidon-wise, the House Shyeel Myrmidons have a greater sense of the arcane than their House Vyre counterparts, I mean… where’s the gun?! But then you look at the House Vyre chassis and think… that’s a gun?! Iosan arcanika is nothing if not out of the box!
Our heavy Myrmidons can be tailored to handle a lot of situations and this is exemplified in the Manticore: Covering Fire for crowd control; d3 hand cannon shots for general plinking; or Force Generator for hard ARM cracking. Our jacks veer one way or the other in terms of specialty, but are, unlike their counterparts in oyhrr factions, all capable irrespective of the situation they find themselves in. A gun and two mêlée initials shared by all our heavy Myrmidons that heavies from other factories can only look at jealously! Apart from the Griffon, though, our lights tend to exclusively fill support roles and their inclusion depends on what you need in your list and the reasons typically pop out quite obviously, especially the Chimera, and to a lesser extent the Aspis.
Most of our solos and units are capable of filling a dual role, but for the most part, their specialty is clear, even if different casters might tweak said specialty. And naturally, different casters support or prefer the support of different units, but you’d be surprised as to how many of our casters can make a wide variety of units shine. Kaelyssa, Issyria, Garryth, and to a lesser extent Thyron and Vyros1 can operate well with a broad scope in terms of lists. Honestly… pick a unit, pick a caster and there will be something one does for the other. At the moment, though, our stand out unit is the Dawnguard Sentinels with their Command Attachment. Anything that doesn’t involve them shooting, they can do and do well. High impact charge? Yep. Pathfinder when it counts? Gotcha covered. In built threat extension? Easily forgotten! Way to improve staying ability? Awww yeah!
Their weakness is not much of a weakness in the context of Retribution units since it is shared throughout our whole faction. As single wound models, they can die quite easily, but so can the rest of our units (except the cavalry, the Destors… which are expensive in points and money and have rules with interactions that can only be summarised in thesis form, so it is better to consider them as an advanced acquisition). As with all things, intelligent placement and picking the right fight for your army elements mitigates each component’s weaknesses and having a variety of defensive measures can make life difficult…
But bringing the fight to your opponent is what this game is about. All factions have a few ways of fighting their fights, but most have underlying themes. Ret’s is the alpha, hitting first and hitting hard and minimising the effect of the enemy’s counterattack. Sure, we can do attrition, but it isn’t our premier strength and an attrition list can only be built for a handful of our casters. But every caster has the means to deliver a stonking alpha strike matched only really (heretically) by Legion. This is helped by the high natural SPD of a lot within the faction. For us SPD 5 is slow! And then come the threat extenders and protection that a lot of casters can give. Issyria and Elara can put the accelerator on for their whole army, Vyros1 for his battlegroup, Rahn can protect a key piece and nudge another (or the same) key piece closer to the action, while Kaelyssa can ensure she isn’t alpha’d (with a few exceptions of course, regrettably!) allowing her to deliver the charge reliably, and Vyros2 can keep the pressure up on your opponent in readiness for the next turn.
The Houseguard Halberdiers are our poster boy unit for alpha striking. With the Houseguard Thane, they can consistently threaten up to 13″ and many casters (or all of them if you bring along Lanyssa Ryssyl) can extend that threat to 15″ or even 17″. That’s more than some models’ walk and ranged attack threat range, amusingly!
But a game isn’t all about hitting far, fast and hard, even if that’s what we do best. We have one of the best scenario casters in the game, depending on his list build. Rahn’s suite of spells plus his cousins the Battle Mages makes him able to clear out zones to control or dominate with consummate ease, while Kaelyssa’s feat with a well placed army can leave your opponent with an intolerable choice. But scenario strength isn’t just with casters. The Manticore (or rather two or three) can dictate the flow of the game by denying units or solos the ability to control or contest using Covering Fire, the Phoenix can do the same with its Combust ability, while the Gorgon can, in a pinch, be a roadblock to a contesting solo or enemy battlegroup piece. The Gorgon’s gun can be a control tool with its SPD debuff, and the Mitten squad all have Beatback on their mêlée weapons (of limited use, unfortunately) and Force Bolt, a glorious push-pull spell with far fewer limitations.
Thing is, Rahn is also one of Warmachine’s best assassination casters, and the back pocket assassination is that aspect of Ret that garners a great deal of gratitude. Late game, any caster, provided a heavy myrmidon is about, is capable of pulling off an assassination. Whether it’s ranged or in close combat, our heavies are perfectly capable of doing it! Kaelyssa, Garryth and now Elara also provide a great deal of assassination potential with diverse combinations of enabling spells and personal prowess.
As for attrition… Ret as a faction doesn’t do it well, but in Helynna and Vyros (both versions, now in Mk3), we have that option of taking large battlegroups capable of taking a beating and giving one back. It is best not to overestimate their staying power however as a heavy Myrmidon still dies like normal, but we have the tools to mitigate their frailty (perceived and actual) compared to counterpart jacks and beasts.
So, Ret can bring a lot of variety to the table, and is not without its flaws. By the same count, we have some strengths that other factions can only dream of, and hopefully this little read has helped indicate where they lie and ways to hide our strength when it needs to be hidden and show it when our weakness needs to be hidden. This, fellow knife ears is but the beginning of mage killing, however, and you’ll soon learn to master your own art of round ear slaying!