When I decided to start playing Cygnar I had lots of time on my hands to read up on "what works". I prefer starting with the tried and tested and work my way towards more unique lists when I have a thorough grasp on this game. Thus it was that my first models were Haley2, a Stormwall, Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers etc. I immediately started playing at 50 points. The first few games took forever and in hindsight I should possibly have done a few 15- and 35-point games.
Regardless I quickly found that I really enjoyed Haley2's playstyle. Contrary to popular belief she is not that noob friendly: There are so many options, so many angles and choices with her. This costs you a lot of time and you can often find yourself in a state of paralysis by analysis as a beginner. Furthermore her feat is easily miss-timed which can cost you the game: 16/14 with 15 boxes is fairly squishy, after all. I believe Haley2 to be one of the most rewarding casters in the game to play and my opinion thus far is that her skill-cap is virtually non-existant.
What Haley does, in a nutshell, is help you dictate when and where the fight occurs. Playing to her strengths allows you to play a proactive rather than reactive game in most cases. Time Bomb, Domination and Telekinesis brings a lot of control and Arcane Bolt + Time Bomb allows you to nuke down a portion of the map fairly quickly. I see Thorn as a must with her and his passive abilities (notably reaction drive and affinity to Haley) really complement this.
For all her strengths though I find that Haley struggles with a few lists out there. This is where the 2-list format of Warmahordes really shines. The lists that keep giving me problems inevitably come from Legion and Retribution, in addition to some tricky ARM-skews with Bradigus being the number 1 example. Again, no point in trying to reinvent the wheel given my lack of experience so I went with the Stryker1 2x Stormwall build. I find that this build holds its own and gives me game against Haley's worst counters. List chicken is still an issue in pairing but at least I have a fighting chance.
Stryker1 has proved to be more challenging to play than I thought. Choosing what upkeeps to have requires thinking ahead because his focus is really stretched thin (seeing as you often want to allocate as much to the Stormwalls as possible), finding angles for Earthquake can be hard and last but not least, moving around 2 Colossals while keeping him safe and giving them good angles is way harder than it looks like.
I've also played a fair bit with Siege and Caine2. Siege is a caster I really enjoy: He does a ton of things for the army and Foxhole + Ground Pounder are incredible spells. Thus far he has ironically been more of a frustration than anything else: I am unable to build him in such a way that he counters the lists that Haley doesn't want to meet. Having found the Stryker1 2x Stormwall build Siege has temporarily been relegated to the shelves. I intend to bring him out again in the future and experiment more with him. I believe the "perfect list" might be out there and he does bring a few things to the table that the other casters are hard pressed to match. Caine2 on the other hand has been a blast to play but he inherently cannot play into Bradigus. I also doubt his abilities to face Lylyth2, which is very popular around here (and will likely be even more so with ADR). For these reasons, I view Caine2 as impossible to pair with Haley2. Caine2 is also a ton of fun to play and has a few nasty tricks up his sleeve: Charge a friendly model, Arcane Bolt something far away and gatecrash to safety before you make your charge attack roll for example.
Based on my experience with these casters, Cygnar thrives when you dominate the ranged game. We need lots of utility choices to make this happen. Eiryss2, Acosta and Alexia2 have continuously impressed me thus far and often downright win games on their own for example. More often than not I find that we need some melee-deterrent as well. The Stormwall is an obvious choice here but it's also a huge points-sink in certain matchups (e.g. trying to make Siege + Stormwall work vs Lylyth2). An interesting fact is that the more I play, the less I points I seem to need to spend on counter-attackers. When I started playing Haley2 I quickly bought Sword Knights to have a jamming anti-jam unit to keep my ATGM + B13th safe. Now I manage quite well without them. I wonder how much melee-oriented choices we really need: The more we can dominate the ranged game the more we can control the game. Some armies will always be impossible to shoot down (e.g. Bradigus) for us, but it's an interesting thought-experiment.
My list and gaming focus for the time being is on the Norwegian Masters in January. Due to real life commitments I don't have time to radically change my lists (see this link) so it will be minor changes, if any at all. The lists are obviously heavily inspired by Trevy's success (see this link for his blog) but I've tried variants of them and concluded that these are the best choices given the meta I play in and my experience at this point in time.
After NM is over I hope to explore other casters more. With Season 3 our ADR is shaping up nicely as well and I have a long list of things I want to try: Kara Sloan all-out shooting, Haley3, Caine2-Haley1 pairing, Kraye 2x Stormwall, Siege, Stryker2, Stryker3... So many options!
For the time being though I really love playing Haley2 and I imagine she'll stay my favourite caster for a long time, perhaps forever.