Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Playing Kraye, Cygnar's cowboy

   I've got 2 batreps against Circle to get posted, including one 2 caster 75pt game in preparation for a friend taking his Circle to WMW in St. Louis.  That's a lot of pics though, and it's been a week or so since the last post.  Life, you know?  So let's hit a topic real quick.  I see a lot of posts on PPforums where someone decides they want to try Kraye.  General consensus is that he's a decent caster (E.G., better than Kara and Darius, but not as good as Siege), but doesn't do anything for infantry, and really struggles in the SR2013 format.  Let's look into him a bit, shall we?

  When I climbed out of 40k and dropped into the World of Warmachine, I watched some batreps, scrolled through the forums, realized I thought that Legion looked ugly as sin, and Khador are the badguys.  Cygnar looked pretty cool though, and rolling through their caster page on PrivateerPress, I saw this awesome looking guy riding a horse.

  Enter Captain Jeremiah Kraye.  The model sold me.  When I got into this game, I ordered a 2 Player Battle Box (the 2player kit with Games Workshop was always a good idea, I assumed it would be here too as well), the Cygnar Battlebox, because that's the faction I wanted, and Captain Jeremiah Kraye.  And a Squire.  Idk why I got a squire.  Someone said it was a good idea.  It was, but anyways.

  Kraye looked like fun.  He looked awesome, as a model, and I thoroughly enjoyed painting him.  In fact, I'm sorely temped to buy him again and apply new painting/modding/basing skills and paint him again.  As it is, I modded him with my first foray into greenstuff, and modeled him a wide flat-brimmed Australian Outback hat, and it turned out reasonably well.  The paintjob is dated, but I'm still proud of the hat.

  The first thing we'll notice is that he's one of Cygnar's large based casters, something we don't have many of.  This makes him really hard to hide.  Your first impulse is to bring a 4pt Sentinel to hide him behind for Shield Guard.  Try it, but generally, at ARM17 with 18 boxes, I find that Kraye weathers most ranged assassination attempts.  He's my go-to caster against eLylyth, in fact, though his ability to launch jackbullets into her early game assassination setups helps too.

  His stats are otherwise fairly normal outside of his SPD8.  He's fast for a caster, but he's riding a horse.  That's to be expected.  More on that in a minute.  RAT6 isn't amazing, MAT isn't inspiring either, DEF14 isn't bad for a large base, but against anyone determined to hit you at range, it's not going to convince them otherwise.  On a horse though, this gives him a lot of neat options.  Ride-by attacks.  Move up 4'', cast spells, get behind the wall.  SPD8 gets him where he needs to be pretty quick with some room.

  Pathfinder is neat too, helps him out.  Parry is fantastic.  When that melee assassination fails, you can walk away.  His gun's a POW11 ROF2, which is handy, and his sword is a PS13.  At MAT6, SPD8, he can get 11'' across the board on a charge, so in a pinch he can do some work, but you're going to want his Jacks to do that really.  

  His abilities are where it gets nice though.  It also makes using him a convoluted mess.  For one, it gives all light jacks light cav rules.  This gives them impact attacks and a 5'' move after their activation.  This is as handy as I'll get out.  Using hunters?  Hop the barricade, shoot, get back.  Easy peasy.  

  Heavy Jacks get heavy cav rules.  Now we're talking Ride Bys with Stormclads, impact attacks with Centurions, Tall in the Saddle (Melee attacks ignore intervening models.  Hello screened caster), and +2 to charge attacks because Heavy Cav has brutal charge.  MAT9 Stormclad with PS21 on the charge?  Yes, please.

  Feat turn is terrifying.  All Jacks stand up, can turn, charge for free, gain and extra 2+ SPD on the charge and all melee attacks are boosted.  This is incredible.  A fully loaded Stormclad can make 5 boosted-to-hit attacks, not including tramples, or impacts.  Factor this in with Full Tilt (Kraye's signature spell) which gives 2X base spd, we can put a Stormclad 15'' up the board with 2'' of Reach for a total of 17''.  This has caught a great deal of my opponents off guard.  

  Speaking of spells.  Full Tilt, we just touched on.  I like to cast it on a minuteman, turn 1.  It's an upkeep too, so keep that in mind.  I like to go second with Kraye usually, because my opponent will take the chance to run his infantry as far upfield as he can turn one.  A full tilted minuteman with a focus will go 17'', including the jump, and flakfield.  This puts a light jack in the middle of a group of infantry, and kills a good chunk of them.  Can't handle those Nyss?  Worried about that tarpit coming your way?  Autohitting POW12 handles a lot of that.  Light cav for another 5'' and you're 22'' farther on turn one than when you started.  Your opponent has to deal with your jack now, and that ties him up.

  Guided Fire.  All Jacks in the battle group gained boosted ranged attack rolls for a turn.  This is a neat spell, but doesn't mesh well with the rest of what Kraye can do.  At 6 focus, he doesn't have enough to smash things, AND shoot them.  It's one or the other.  If I'm running a Stormwall, Guided Fire happens a lot.  4-8 boosted POW12/15s?  Sure thing.  Otherwise, Guided fire doesn't see much use at 3 focus.

  Mage Sight.  2 focus to see 5'' of stealth, forest, whatever.  Neat, situational, and expensive.  It's nice to have, and I'm glad Kraye has it, but it's somewhat limited at Battlegroup only.

  Pursuit.  Situational, but handy.  Land it on a target warjack and a battlegroup model gets to move if the other model moves.  Kind of a poorman's admonition.  At RNG8 though, it doesn't see much use from me.  I wish eStryker had this spell though.  23'' threat range!  But no.  Maybe 3Stryker?

  Arcane Blast.  Bet you've never heard of this one.

  Easy Rider.  All friendly faction units in Kraye's control area gain Pathfinder for one turn.  Kinda neat, but most of what you bring with Kraye either doesn't care, or has it already.  And it's expensive.

  What we notice here is that Kraye likes his jacks.  General consensus is that he's Cygnar's best Warjack caster.  I don't doubt that.  Darius is probably the next best thing, but even then, I like Kraye.  The downside to all of this is that he has little to no support for infantry.  A case could be made for Easy Rider, but Cygnar already has plenty of options for getting Pathfinder to our troops if they don't have it already.

  This limits Kraye considerably as to what he can bring.  You'll never see me bring Stormblades with Kraye.  He just can't take care of them.  And they're slow.  Kraye's a fast moving battlegroup, and he needs his units to be two things.  A) Fast to keep up, and B) Self-sufficient.  If they can contribute, that's fantastic, but they need to be able to take care of themselves.

  Rangers and Kraye are a happy couple.  These guys will negate you ever needing to cast Guided Fire with their +2 RAT against targets within 5'' of them.  They have prowl (poorman's stealth), and on top of that, 5pts for a 6man unit with accurate POW11s is handy.  I'll take these guys toe to toe with MHSF any day.  

  ATGM.  They don't need his help, they're plenty accurate on their own, and if you brought Rangers, they're really happy. On top of that you have an excellent Jackmarshal in the ATGM UA.  *Gasp* no, JM in a Kraye list?  Well, sure.  Does Kraye have Snipe?  Gee, no he doesn't...  Wouldn't it be nice to have a shooting jack that has Snipe?  I like the Avenger with his Knockdown ability on the ATGM.  18'' threat range can get anything that the 17'' Stormclad can threaten.  Boosted melee attacks are great, but DEF17 hordes caster laying down on the ground at DEF5 are even better.

  The Tempest Blazers.  These guys have breathed new life into this caster, especially since they are in tier.  They keep up, they don't need help, they can handle infantry by themselves, and take down bigger stuff if needed with the brutals.  These are also my counter to stealth usually.  They're fast enough to get in and get out and survive it.

  That's really the only units I bring.  The Nyss and Boomhowlers both are fairly self-sufficient, and need little to no support, especially the Boomhowlers.  If you really feel like you need a tarpit, these guys will work for you.  Outside of that, Kraye makes his money with his Jacks.

  Centurion.  Generally one of the favorite Jacks to take on Kraye.  With Full-Tilt, he'll move 8'', and then drop Polarity shield, which is mean.  He's got a threat range of 15'' on feat turn, so that's nice too.

  Ironclad.  Cheap 7pt Heavy jack that hits hard and goes 15.5'' on feat turn.  Nice for piece trading early on, setting up a tremor, or just generally having along.  I don't usually get one into my lists, but they're a decent option.  Spamming them might be a thing.  That's one of those things I want to try, but not by buying six of them and deciding I don't like it.

  Stormclad.  My go-to melee jack on Kraye.  17'' threat range on feat turn.  Unless you've played Kraye before, you don't see this guy coming.  On top of that, he's got a RNG8 POW14 gun that I've fried more than one warspear with.  Don't forget the eLeaps either.  I generally have this guy and blazers in my army.  My favorite thing to do to armies with a Hi-DEF/Lo-ARM caster and a colossal is shoot it with eleaping blazers and jackbullet the Stormclad into it.  10 autohitting pow10s (assuming the caster is the closest model.) ends most lo-arm casters fairly easily.  Number 1 reason I love the Archangel, right here.  DEFbillion caster hangs out next to her favorite dragon, who proceeds to ground out through her left leg and fry everything involved.

  Hammersmith.  If you're going to bring him, Kraye's the one to bring him on.  He's only got 13'' threat range, but with his follow-up attacks and chain attack, he can get considerably farther.  Decent for infantry mulching.

  Nomad.  No, I'm kidding.  I wish.  SPD5 with Reach and PS19 for 6pts?  I'd spam these guys all day.  Foodmachine tournaments are expensive for me.  "Yes, I brought 800 cans so that I can field 6 Nomads on Kraye."

  Gallant.  The only other SPD 5 with Reach.  The upsides to this are that you can bring Harlan Versh, and get a focus every turn on this jack, which helps out Kraye's reserves considerably, on top of providing Shieldguard.  He's also a point cheaper than the Stormclad.  Downsides are no ranged attack, no electro leap, and PS17.  I tried it, don't much care for it, but it's a neat option.  And Harlan Versh will pull his weight on his own too.

  That's the main ones for the melee jacks.  As far as shooting goes, there's a few solid options.  I love the Avenger for KD.  Makes for a surefire way to shut down enemy hordes casters for the assassination.  On Kraye, he does ok, but generally, I bring ATGM and marshal the Avenger to them for an 18'' KD threat.  Otherwise, on Kraye, he's a SPD4 jack that can get up to 13.5'' on feat turn.  At PS18, that's not a bad thing, and don't forget the psuedo-disruption Stall blade the Avenger has.  Works on Colossals too.

  Cyclones are fun.  They can Full-Tilt, AND do their covering fire, but generally, I don't have enough room for these guys.

  Hunters.  I'm a hit or miss kinda guy with these dudes.  I hate them on Vassal, respect them on the table lately.  They're fast, get the light cav move with Kraye, don't need a whole lot a help, and generally cause the opponent all kinds of problems.  They work fairly decent in pairs, but that's a 12pt commitment and that's the selling point I'm not quite into.

  Chargers.  Way too much focus needed for these guys on Kraye.  Move along.

  Sentinel.  Not bad.  4pt Shieldguard if you need it.  Don't count on the Strafe though.

  Minuteman.  We reveled in his glory a minute ago.  Take this jack.

  Stormwall.  I don't use the big guy on Kraye often, unless I'm going to run a shooting game and do guided fire every turn.  Otherwise, he ties up too many points for melee or shooting, when with two jacks, I could do both.  He's got a 17'' threat range for charging on feat turn with Kraye, and that's kinda scary, but it's not very often that you're going to have a clear charge lane for a base the size of the deathstar.  On the plus side,  he fits in Tier.

  There's a few solos out there to think about as well.  Squire is generally a must unless you're running tier.  Sylys is an option, but I find that I cycle full-tilt too much.  Generally, if solos tag along, it's a Squire, maybe a Journeyman, Harlan Versh occasionally, and more often than not, a Trencher Master Gunner for Artillerist on the Avenger.  Arlan's not bad, but really only for powerbooster or evasive.  Otherwise, it's not very often that he gets to fix a jack that charged 15'' up the field.  I tried Lanyssa, and using Hunter's Mark, trying to get a few more inches out of my Stormclad, and that hasn't happened yet, so I'll probably stop.  It's not very often I need a Stormclad to go 19'' anyways.

  In summary, Kraye's a solid jack caster with nearly 0 support for infantry.  If you want to run Warjacks, he's your man.  He'll play a solid gunline until you need to apply a jack to your opponent's face a long ways away.  Some play him as a gunline only, some play him as melee only.  I struggle with using him as a scenario caster, simply because he has a hard time filling zones up and hanging on to them.  I play him for more aggressively as an army, and do better that way.  At the end of the day though, it depends on you.  I hope I've pointed you in a decent direction to begin with and pointed out some decent synergies.  Otherwise, ignore everything I said and play eHaley.

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