A little background: I play Warmachine to compete. When I play rock hard lists against the best my opponents can bring I enjoy the game the most. I do not suffer from SUSS, nor do I have a need to stick to one approach. My reason for moving away from the most popular/powerful choices in the first place is to seek out other viable approaches because they inherently carry some unique strengths. Case in question: How many people that do not play Cygnar knows Haley2's feat and spell list well? Pretty much everyone. They expect the Time Bombs and Telekinesis' being thrown out and they are just waiting for Temporal Shift. By contrast, how many people that do not play Cygnar even knows what Kraye's feat does? At the start of a given game I assume that my opponent will read up on what my various elements do, but this is not the same as having experience playing against it. Thus, I'm exploring our less popular options not only to learn how our casters play but also to see if I can find angles that are powerful and unknown to my opponents.
With Stryker2, that experiment has failed. While I haven't exhausted all options with him, Stryker2 boils down to 2 simple facts the way I see it: You have 2 abilities that help your army. These abilities are both great: Positive Charge and Rolling Thunder. Apart from that, Stryker does not help his army out at all. He is a monster on his own, which brings me to the second fact: Stryker2 is inherently unreliable when he has to get serious work done himself. I've found that even Caine2's reliance on dice is unreliable when he feats and he rolls a LOT more dice than Stryker. One poor roll from Overload and the game's over. It really is that simple. Averages don't matter as much with this ability because if you're using it, he is both exposed and in great need of doing some serious work. Thus it boils down to whether you will accept this risk and how much you can benefit from Positive Charge and Rolling Thunder. I tried to build my list around the Prontoclads (which truly are great by the way!) and Positive Charge, but I've found through a dozen games or so that it's inflexible and doesn't have sufficient resilience to get where it needs to be with the momentum it needs against its intended matchups. It's not that it can't have a game against certain opponents, but it fails to bring what I need it to when it comes to pairing. Essentially, I can't make the army play either ping-ping or ping-pon.
What I potentially could have done was to build Stryker2 as an all-comers list instead and have Haley3 tailored to anti-arm. The problem with that approach is that I see Stryker2 taking elements such as B13th, TAC and utility solos such as Alexia2 perhaps and Eiryss2. The question then is obviously, do I think he is better suited for this role than e.g. Caine2 or Haley2? Would I rather play Stryker2 with such a configuration into Retribution/Cygnar/Cryx etc? I see that as a massive, unnecessary drawback which is not outweighed by the surprise factor he brings to the table. Furthermore, building such a list fails to take advantage of Positive Charge, which is a downright amazing ability. As I noted above I haven't exhausted all builds I've considered with him, but there are real life constraints at play here as well such as model collection and miniatures I need to paint before my next tournament. I might revisit Stryker2 in the future. For now, I'm happy with the lessons I learned and will put Stryker2 on the shelf.
Instead of returning to the Haley2/Caine2 pairing I used at NM, which I strongly believe is our currently best combination (because I believe it has game into just about anything you can expect to face, at least outside of ADR), I will continue with Haley3. I've found my Haley3 lists to move more and more towards arm-skew because she runs our otherwise poor/mediocre choices so well. Stormblades and Storm Lances becomes freakishly strong with Revive and Temporal Flux for example. Their angles are just crazy. I also want to keep expanding my horizons so Haley3 will stick around, at least for now.
Switching Haley3 over to anti-arm means Haley2 loses the second Stormwall. Welcome back, Thorn! Doublewall Haley2 is, in a nutshell, an inferior build for her I believe. However it's a compromise I made to improve my pairings. It simply gives the pair Haley2/Caine2 more playable matchups. Now that I'm playing Haley3 with anti-arm I can take whatever I want with Haley2 to make her as strong a generalist as possible. Previously I've designed Haley2 lists to be scenario first, attrition second. While I've often won on attrition with her, my scenario game with her is my currently strongest card. I frequently find openings that are so brutal that games just end before my opponent has time to react. In the interest of expanding my horizons, I've now designed a Haley2 list which does the opposite: Attrition first, scenario second. That means leaving my beloved deadeye-ATGM at home in favour of high-quality shots. I also want to see how the list plays if I squeeze in as much shooting as I possibly can, which means Alexia2 is benched as well.
Enough talk, let's look at the lists:
:: Haley2 ::
Major Victoria Haley - WJ: +5:: Haley3 ::
- Stormwall - PC: 19
- Lightning Pod
- Thorn - PC: 8
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution - PC: 3
Gastone Crosse - PC: 3
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile - PC: 2
Lynus Wesselbaum & Edrea Lloryrr - Lynus & Edrea: 3
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt - Lady Aiyana & Master Holt: 4
Tactical Arcanist Corps - Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Black 13th Gun Mage Strike Team - Lynch, Ryan & Watts: 4
Major Prime Victoria Haley - WJ: +3Playtesting will begin soon, hopefully next week!
- Lancer - PC: 6
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Haley Future - PC: 0
Haley Past - PC: 0
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord - PC: 2
Captain Maxwell Finn - PC: 3
Ragman - PC: 2
Stormblade Captain - PC: 2
Stormsmith Stormcaller - PC: 1
Storm Lances - Leader & 4 Grunts: 11
Trencher Infantry - Leader & 5 Grunts: 6
Stormblade Infantry - Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
Horgenhold Forge Guard - Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
- Captain Jonas Murdoch - Murdoch 2