Against the odds

In his eyes I see the glory of our house reborn. He will carve a path by blade’s edge to our proper destiny.
— Consul Caelcyr Nyarr

Retribution cover by Andrea Uderzo

Do not displease the Dawnlord.

Dawnlord Vyros Nyarr was displeased with his scouts. A small Cryxian force lay in his path, thus slowing his advance. The news in and of itself wasn’t troubling; the fact his scouts had failed to accurately report the amount of filth accompanying that Warwitch Deneghra drew his ire. But Vyros had no time to discipline the Mage Hunter Strike Force. He had to act while initiative was his. The Strike Force was sent back to Ravyn, shamed without knowing why.

The Dawnlord ordered the Houseguard Halberdiers to take the front rank; they were closely followed by Dawnguard Invictors — a mainstay in any force Vyros led. With the red-tailed hawk Jyren on his arm, Vyros took his place behind the Invictors. He prodded Hylos, his Phoenix, to stand ready on his right. A Mage Hunter Assassin named Pryn covered the right flank.

Quickly, Vyros expanded his perspective through his hawk’s eyes. He saw the Warwitch at the rear of her battlegroup. Mechanithralls spread out in front of Deneghra, three bonejacks interspersed through their ranks. Bloated sacks on legs — bile thralls — waddled just outside of a wooded glen. A Seether Helljack was lined up opposite his heavy myrmidon. A shimmer on the left and right flanks alerted him to the presence of incorporeal beings. Pistol Wraiths, he thought.

Vyros smiled grimly. “These foul beings will not forestall our advance. Talons of Dawn, stand ready!”

•••

It’s been several months since I’ve played with Dawnlord Vyros. I played him once after trying out Kaelyssa, then went back to Kaelyssa. Once I got my fill of Little Miss Phantom Hunter, it was off to learn Ravyn with a brief flirtation with Rahn.

I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on Ravyn despite being on a wicked losing streak, thanks to regular sparring partner, Dangerfish. There’s definitely something to be said about learning from your mistakes. In this case, I think it was a matter of me playing the same caster for well over a month and he got wise to my tricks.

Thursday night marked my return to Vyros, leader of the Dawnguard and the dude who went toe-to-toe with Goreshade when he went all Eldritch on his elven brethren.

Much like Kaelyssa, Vyros has some tricks that make his battle group shoot just about anything in range. Of course, I took one ’jack in tonight’s game since we were playing 25 points. At least I ran 25 points.

Here’s what I ran:

Army Name: Vryos
Retribution of Scyrah
31/31 points, 25 models
Dawnlord Vyros 6 points
* Phoenix 10 points
10 Dawnguard Invictors 10 points
* Invictor Officer & Standard 2 points
10 Houseguard Halberdiers 7 points
Mage Hunter Assassin 2 points

Dangerfish is not a cheater. iBodger proved to be his foil Thursday night; he named his list “Denny 25”. Only thing is, the 35-point army was selected when he made his list. No biggie; just helps my respect for Vyros and the Dawnguard grow that much more.

Mike ended up running:

40/40 points, 24 models
Warwitch Deneghra 5 points
* Deathripper 4 points
* Defiler 5 points
* Nightwretch 4 points
* Seether 9 points
* Skarlock Thrall 2 points
6 Bile Thralls 5 points
10 Mechanithralls 5 points
2x Pistol Wraith 3 points each

Oh, and did I mention the Cryx was fully painted and gorgeous and that this was his first time running the army? Yeah.

Back when I first started playing Warmachine nearly 5 years ago, I played a lot of games against Cryx. Not so much in recent years — as much of an aversion toward some of the folks who ran the undead as the cheeky shenanigans they could pull off. But having faced Denny enough in the past, I knew the arc nodes had to die, and die fast.

After advancing the entire army, the Invictors popped Extended Fire to give them RNG 14. Two groups unleashed combined range attacks — a 6-man CRA (POW 18) knocked out all but movement and the arc node on one of the bonejacks. A 5-man CRA put a decent amount of damage on another bonejack.

Then there was all kinds of Cryx in my face. A Ghost Walked Seether charged Hylos, but very little damage got past the force field. Mechanithralls punched holes in the Halberdiers’ shield wall and the Bile Thralls trundled through the forest. Pistol Wraiths advanced and harassed things.

Concept art by Chris Walton

There was a delicious charge lane for Vyros to hammer the Seether. It was too good to pass up; didn’t want The Dawnlord angry. MAT 8 means he isn’t missing much — though I forgot about the +2 to hit from flank. I didn’t forget about the extra die and rolled POW14 + 4d6 on the charge. The was without movement and I think an arm after the first swing. I paid for another attack and rolled triple 6s to box the Helljack.

Still, at this point, I had no idea I was playing behind points wise. I just knew I didn’t need a Seether tromping through my lines.

Long story short, I lost the game. I didn’t shut down the arc nodes and I didn’t engage the Bile Thralls to keep them from purging. A 35-point incarnation of this list geared toward fighting Cryx would have added a full unit of Dawnguard Sentinels, Soulless and the Phoenix would’ve been swapped for a Manticore. As it stands, I think the list would have been solid against Cygnar.

Vyros is easily the Retribution’s best ’jack caster. Bird’s Eye affords everything in his battlegroup 360° front arcs; on top of that, when determining LOS, models ignore cloud effects, forest terrain and intervening models. Neat.

His feat, Perfect Execution, rewards the player who brings ’jacks to play: “While in Vyros’ control area this turn, when a friendly Faction model destroys an enemy model with an attack, allocate 1 focus point to a warjack in Vyros’ battlegroup in his control area.” Keyword here kids is allocate. You can’t exceed a ’jack’s focus stat from the feat. It’s still nifty if you want Vyros to hang onto his focus for some reason.

The Dawnlord has a short spell list, but it’s go decent support for ’jacks and troops.

  • Inviolable Resolve — Straight out of eKreoss’ playbook, this spell is awesome on shield wall units like the Houseguard Halberdiers. ARM 20 plus Fearless is nice, especially facing Cryx.
  • Mobility — Loved this spell with Amon, I need to cast it early and upkeep it. The +2 SPD it gives SPD 5 Vyros increases his thread range from 10″ on the charge to 12″ and gives models in his battlegroup Pathfinder. That means Hylos would’ve had an effective threat range of 14″ on the charge. Not bad for a heavy.
  • Hallowed Avenger — Yes, another PoM spell. I put it on the Phoenix for a turn but didn’t charge after a Halberdier was destroyed within 5″; he was engaged and I couldn’t remember if I’d have to incur a freestrike or not. Besides, he was where I needed him to be.
  • Eliminator — This is a brutal spell that bears some testing. “Immediately after this attack is resolved, this model can advance up to 2″ for each enemy destroyed by the attack.” It’s POW 13, AOE 3… I think it could have been useful at thinning out some of the Mechanithralls. Proper use can get Vyros set up for an assassination run in Turn 3, methinks…

Overall, my impressions of Vyros are favorable. I’m really getting excited about Dawnguard again — they’re just solid. They’re the elite of the Retribution and they play like it. I’ve been on a kick with the Halberdiers since I picked them up and now I want to put Sentinels back on the table. I’m also entertaining thoughts of a second Phoenix.

Hey, I’ve got a birthday coming up. 😉

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