– By JD (JDAntoine)
The man with the hat. Irusk in both versions offers us something very akin to the Mk 2 days of Khador, where infantry made up the core of your army and Warjacks where only there to give some anchors to a list. While these days have massively changed for Khador in Mk 3, Irusk still holds onto his incredibly powerful regime, the Infantry choices of Khador. While I personally never played Mk 1 and cannot speak for Irusk’s efficiency in the initial edition, Mk 2 was a place where I did play Irusk from time to time. He did come with his drawbacks but in the previous edition his infantry game was also extremely potent in both versions. Battle Lust is the prime reason to why Irusk remained so potent over the years because it mend that every infantry force you brought could end up being a form of ‘Weapon Master spam’ this power is still there but interestingly enough both Irusk have become more potent for me this edition.
When players are drawn to the infantry choices of Khador there is very little Irusk cannot do for them. So in many cases he will form a very potent backbone to rely upon. By large because quantity is a quality of its own and for Infantry Irusk really confirms that.
What new players often see is average stats on him which can certainly be a drawback for him if you intend to play him upfront right into the face of the enemy. But the reality is that with this edition there is less reason to do so. Back in Mk 2 where ‘sitting on focus’ certainly could give a lot of Khador Warcasters an edge Mk 3 rewards careful play more consistently. Warcaster stats now require extremes to survive an incoming heavy so in that since Irusk shows really well why you likely do not want your Warcaster at the forefront of your forces. Those positions are largely reserved for Butcher 3 and Karchev 1 however even they should pick their battles carefully.
Both Irusk are support Warcasters to the extreme and really polish the great Khador infantry and cavalry choices to obscene levels of power. What sets both Irusk apart from all other Khador Warcasters are his backline positions and toolbox spells. For ranged support he brings you Airburst (which went up in AoE size this edition) and for melee support he brings you Battle Lust. In both cases his Battlegroup often only contains two or three Warjacks (sometimes even one) but certainly is supported by three or more Infantry choices. The reason to why this works so well for him is that most of his other spells and abilities work on (warrior) model/units, rewarding quantity the most for a competitive build.
Potent builds for either Irusk are very diverse and this is my prime attraction to him. He works well with Man-O-War Shocktroopers, Winter Guard Infantry, Winter Guard Rifle Corps, Kayazy Assassins, Kayazy Eliminators, Iron Fang Pikemen, Black Dragons and Iron Fang Uhlans. Basically every unit he brings can specialize his force even more which combined with his toolbox spell list allow you to prepared for almost any situation thrown at you.
Irusk 1 favors a hard question slightly more over the flexibility. The hard question he asks your opponent is if he has brought enough Pathfinder models to deal with Inhospitable Ground. While this spell is a serious drain on his Focus it allows us to alpha-strike more often as we’re used to with Khador, as it also allows us to essentially hand out Pathfinder to anyone within his 14” control range.
However there is more to him as Inhospitable Ground, as his Battle Plans allow you to either hand out Pathfinder to a unit, Stand up all Knocked down models (that weren’t knocked down that turn) or gives a unit Reposition . Making even the slowest Man-O-War units keep up with him.
Airburst and Battle Lust are the other rewards he comes with and generally will help you deal with both pesky solo’s and multi-boxed targets such as Warbeasts and Warjacks. Iron Flesh and Superiority are the Hammer and Sickle he also provides to your force. Because of that the previously mentioned Warrior models are immensely powerful with him. Iron Fang Uhlans can go up to ARM 21 with Iron Flesh, Man-O-War Shocktroopers can step that up even higher to ARM 23 which often means they can laugh off charges. Add in ranged support from a Behemoth, Conquest, Winter Guard Rifle Corps with Rocketeers and Jozef and usually you set yourself up for some serious options to un-jam your forces (Iron Flesh makes you immune to the blasts Behemoth or Conquest can put directly in front of your unit).
Irusk 1’s Feat combined with Inhospitable Ground is what makes your possible alpha-strike so back breaking. Not only are you almost guaranteed to hit your opponent you also receive Tough on top of whatever ridiculous ARM you decided to go for thanks to Iron Flesh.
Supreme Kommandant Irusk
Irusk 2 favors flexibility above all other options. He currently is my favorite Khador Warcaster because everything found within Khador synergies extremely well with him. The prime reason being Solid Ground and Artifice of Deviation. The latter being the only spell in Khador being somewhat akin to old Mk 2 Iron Flesh (which gave +3 DEF and -1 SPD). But the fact that Artifice of Deviation currently reads within and not completely within makes it so you can actually have a ton of models within that AoE 5. While Solid Ground essentially hands over the biggest in-faction advantage, immunity to blast damage within a 14” radius, as an upkeep.
Both Battle Lust and Airburst are once again also found on Irusk 2, which should fit all your needs. This time around Airburst is even better because of the Solid Ground Synergy and the same can be said for the Winter Guard Rocketeer blasts and Behemoth blasts.
Other flexible support comes in the form of Energizer and Fire for Effect. It’s important to see that both these spells should only be cast in specific situations. I usually take two Warjacks with Irusk 2 and a Winter Guard Mortar Crew so I have a reason for these spells but don’t always cast them. By large because sometimes you’re dealing with forces who will reach your warrior wall faster as you anyway or other times because your opponent is so incredibly hard to hit directly (or partially immune to blast damage) so Fire for Effect on the Mortar Crew can easily become wasted focus.
Currently the biggest reasons to why Irusk 2 is so popular within the competitive meta has to do with abilities and Feat. Tactician allows you to move through your own models and because of Solid Ground clustering up isn’t often an issue which in turn allows you to get a lot out of Total Obedience as well. My favorite combination currently is running Iron Fang Uhlans (max) with him in practically every list, because with Solid Ground, Wall of Steel and sometimes Artifice of Deviation the Iron Fang Uhlans become close to impossible to remove with ranged attacks, cover Irusk 2 and can simply charge through any friendly model in front of them thanks to Tactician only to Reposition back so they cannot be jammed the following turn.
Then aside from all the fantastic abilities and Spells he has he also has one of the most relevant Feats in the metagame right now. Usually preventing an alpha but also allowing you to be virtually immume to Feats like Kreoss 1’s or Wurmwood 1’s. Being able to ignore cloud effects, forests (and often your own models) in terms of LoS is huge for every model. The effect of that really doesn’t stop at ranged units either because you do still require LoS in order to charge.
Strengths & Weaknesses in the competitive scene
Currently out of both Irusks Irusk 2 is very competitive and has been ran with different lists extremely well (he currently holds a place in most Khadoran tournament victories and most of the time if Khador is on the winning spot Irusk 2 can be found in that pairing). The current advantages Irusk 1 has over 2 however is that Irusk 1 actually loves bringing Man-O-War Shocktroopers and is one of the best Warcasters to run a Conquest with. If you favour using those models Irusk 1 synergizes with them better as Irusk 2 does.
The main strengths of Irusk can be found in our powerful infantry. The competitive advantage gained here are a lot of attacks and a lot of models. Which increases your changes on winning by destroying too many opposing models (often thanks to Battle Lust and Airburst in the turns before that) backed up by a powerful attrition game because of the quantity you bring. The secondary strength of Irusks can be found in our powerful ranged blasts attacks. Behemoth is a very potent model that has one of the best ranged offenses in the faction and when opposing models can take out pieces that deal with Behemoth well (usually opposing heavies) Behemoth can be the backbreaking second wave.
The main weakness of Irusk is also found in his infantry synergy. You want infantry which means dedicated anti-infantry gunlines are favoured against you. Even with the multitude of defenses found in Iron Flesh, Solid Ground, Artifice of Deviation and our (super) Tough turns you generally will lose models quickly if the opponent brought as much infantry as you did with POW 10-12 ranged attacks.
Meaning Cygnar and Retribution in particular are hard match ups but otherwise both Irusks do not mind facing any other army save from the dedicated anti-infantry gunline.
The synergies found in both Irusks rotate around your infantry quantity, ranged blast damage and big anchor unit. In most cases the template I use for him include:
– 2 Warjacks, one of which usually is Behemoth but remember Rain of Death from the Devastator is blast damage aswell.
– 3 Infantry units, starting with Winter Guard Rifle Corps Death Star (which are 3 Rocketeers and Kovnik Jozef on top of your regular Rifle Corps) either Iron Fang Uhlans or Man-O-War Shocktroopers and either Iron Fang Pikemen/Black Dragons or Kayazy Assassins.
– 1 or 2 Support units, in the form of either a single Winter Guard Mortar Crew or double Kayazy Eliminator units. The latter choice can mean you’re forced to running one Warjack.
Irusk is all about Khadoran warrior models and if you love them you’ll be certain a large sum of them will wreck face in melee with the powerful ranged blast support the Motherland provides.