Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Building Menoth from Scratch

This is a series of posts I made in the PPress Menoth forums about how to build a Menoth army from scratch.  Just putting them here in case people miss the forum.  (WARNING:  Incoming wall of text!!)

The Battlebox
One of the most common questions on this board is “I have the battlebox, what should I buy next?” I hope to answer that (and take you up to 35 points and beyond) in this post. I am going to be working under a few assumptions, however.

1) Cheaper is better, but flexible is better than cheaper - a unit you will use in one list that costs $10 is not as good as a unit you can use in 8 lists that costs $15. I'm going to try to maximize cost v. usability
2) Competitive is important - playing is fun, winning is more fun so we will be working with an eye towards being ‘competitive’ (well, an eye towards not losing all the time)

General Note2 - I won’t be going into tactics, the articles in the Canon of True Law do a great job breaking that down and I will be cross-linking once I get this done.

That being our starting idea, first a few comments on what you get with the battlebox. The box is great as it meets all of our criteria - it is cheap for the amount of models you get and provides a sturdy foundation to build off of.

The Box:

High Exemplar Kreoss (or pKreoss/Kreoss1 as opposed to the ‘epic’ version of the same caster, Grand Exemplar Kreoss [who is eKreoss/Kreoss2]) is a very strong caster, arguably in the top 4 casters from a competition standpoint, and is also fairly straightforward to play and do well with.
Crusader is a solid melee warjack. He lacks reach and is slow, but can hit hard and has an open fist for when you want to weapon lock/arm lock or throw something. He also only costs 6 points and is thus included as a cheap heavy hitter in some lists.
Revenger is our light arc node. Besides the revenger you only have two other options for an arc node (the character jack Blessing of Vengeance and the heavy Guardian) so the Revenger sees action when you don’t own the BoV yet or are playing a caster besides Severius.
Repenter is a cheap light warjack that has a spray. Sprays are great in that they ignore a lot of the defense against range bonuses that people can get, they can hit numerous targets, and they can hit things you don’t have LoS on as long as you get the angle right. Not going to be used in a lot of lists, but is a great 4 point filler.
Note about the Box - if you got the plastic version, it will be worth it to magnetize the Crusader. This will allow you, further down the line, to have two heavy warjack bodies in case you want to run a Vanquisher and Templar at the same time.

The Most Important Point: Don't feel like you have to jump up to 15, 25, or 35 points right away (although you will probably want to). Pace yourself so you can make educated decisions about what models you want to buy. This is simply a guide and you are welcome (and encouraged) to go outside of it, the guide is just giving a backbone army. If you want to get a different model/unit, do it! But if you haven't played the games, you won't know which models you want. The more you play (even simple battle box games) the more experience you get, the more you see what may fit your play style. With that knowledge you can go to the store and buy with confidence.

The Next Step

The next step for Menoth is universally agreed upon and is pointed out on the forums at least once a week: 
Buy a choir. Minimum unit to start (so one blister with the priest and one blister of two acolytes). They make your nice jacks from your starter that much more awesome. The choir provides jacks with +2 to Attack and Damage rolls or immunity to spells or immunity to non-magic ranged. For two points, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that and as a bonus, they are fairly inexpensive. You will field this with 90% of the lists you make. When making a list, if you don’t have a choir you should have a really good reason why you don’t.

My next recommendation (less universally agreed upon) is the Vassal of Menoth. Again, he is cheap both $$ and points wise. He has two great abilities that (like the choir) make our sweet jacks even sweeter. Some would say super sweet. You will field the Vassal in the majority of your lists.

If you follow my advice, you have also hit the first points milestone, you have 15 points worth of models. A recap:

pKreoss -5
-Crusader +6
-Repenter +4
-Revenger +6
Min. Choir of Menoth +2
Vassal +2

And there are your 15 points. Beyond simply hitting the 15 points, this will get you playing like a true Menite. You will be making the decisions that you will have to make in almost every battle from here on out: Which hymn is best in this situation? Should I enliven or ancillary attack?

So get out there and play some games - you will start getting a feel of the basics of the game (Line of Sight, control area, etc.) and 15 point games are still a lot of fun.

Your first unit OR How you learned to love the best tarpit in the game

The next step will be to buy your first offensively-oriented unit.

Menoth has no shortage of cool units - Knights Exemplar are weaponmasters who get stronger as their comrades die, Daughter’s of the Flame are dagger-wielding women of death, the Exemplar Bastions have giant axes and share a health pool, the Exemplar Cinerators set people on fire when they kill a nearby model, and the Holy Zealots are fanatics with fire bombs. Yeah, thats right - religious psycopaths with fire. Wait...that’s every follower of Menoth...okay, on to your purchase.

With all those sweet units - you aren’t going to buy any of them yet. What you want are the Knight Exemplar Errants (KEE) and their unit attachment. They are, arguably, the best tarpit in the game and will really benefit from pKreoss’ defender’s ward. Offensively they have blessed magical crossbows (they ignore spell buffs to arm/def and are able to hit the pesky incorporeal models) and weaponmaster swords. Pretty standard armor and defense, but they have an awesome ability called self sacrifice which lets you kill off another model within 3” instead of the one targetted. Why would you do this? Blocking charge lanes, preventing the culling of souls, and to be generally annoying. The KEE are hated/envied and for good reason. Their Def/Arm/Mat/Rat are all standard to lowish, but with the benefit of Def. Ward they are hard to dislodge and they can cause a fair amount of damage on a charge.

The UA gives them pathfinder and quick work - two abilities that make them even better in a faction that doesn’t have all that much pathfinder going on.

They are Menoth’s best unit choice, in my opinion, and you will quickly learn to love them. They are fairly expensive money wise, but you will field them so often that they will be more than worth it in the long run.

I would probably buy a minimum unit with UA before buying the maximum unit (if you are budgeting), but pump them up to a maximum unit as fast as possible since, because of self-sacrifice, they become better running at full numbers.

So where does that put us points-wise?

pKreoss -5
-Crusader +6
-Repenter +4
-Revenger +6
Min. Choir of Menoth +2
Vassal +2
Max Errants + UA +10

25 points total. You have graduated to the next point bracket, and have a pretty solid list.

Bring in the Big Boys - Branching out with more warjack choices
Now you have the basics of it all - some support, a solid unit, and a solid caster. What to buy now? Let’s beef up our jack selection. After the choir buffs them, we have some incredible jacks. Not quite as durable as Khador’s, but with Choir buffs you can pretty reliably deliver them to the enemy and rarely have to worry about hitting anything but Legion/a caster (thank you choir for your delicious +2 Mat).

There are two jacks that are mentioned over and over on the forums and for good reason. For 8 points it is hard to beat either the Reckoneror the Vanquisher.

The Reckoner has a fairly nasty reach weapon, a solid single-shot non-AoE gun that debuffs the enemy, and is fast for Menoth Jacks. TheVanquisher has an AoE 4 gun that sets anything it hits (directly or blast) on fire and a chain weapon. I would say that 90% of the lists you see will contain either one or both of these jacks. And for good reason.

The Reckoner shares a chassis with the Castigator and, as such, is not part of the heavy warjack plastic kit. You have to buy it separately, but its a good purchase and the Castigator chassis is faster than the Crusader chassis.

The Vanquisher is part of the heavy warjack box. If you did as I advised and magnetized your Crusader from the battlebox, you now have two heavy warjack bodies to share 2x Crusader arms, a set of Vanquisher arms, or a set of Templar arms. The Templar is a heavy hitter with reach on his flail, a shield, and beatback and is a solid choice for melee warjack.

Given the opportunities that having the 2x Crusader chassis opens up, you would think that I would recommend that you buy the heavy warjack box first, but I just can’t. The Reckoner is that awesome. He would definitely be my first heavy purchase. But if you end up with the Vanquisher instead - you haven’t hurt yourself much and, again, the heavy warjack kit is more flexible than the Reckoner (three jacks for the price of one!). You can’t go wrong with either one, and you will want to pick both up eventually.

Now you own:

pKreoss -5
-Crusader +6
-Repenter +4
-Revenger +6
-Reckoner +8
-Vanquisher/Templar +8
Min. Choir of Menoth +2
Vassal +2
Max Errants + UA +10

41 points total. Which puts you well over the 35 point mark (which, in my meta, is the most commonly played game). You have hit a milestone, you now have to make a decision about what to field. I would drop the Crusader to hit your 35 points, which would still leave the Revenger to channel spells on the feat turn, but the thing to remember is that you now have options so try different things out.

Where to now?
This provides a solid list and you can buy some other casters for variety. Grand Scrutator Severius (pSeverius) is another super-competitive Menoth caster who is a blast to play and will work well with the models listed above. Get the Harbinger if you want the floating little girl of doom, Reznik if you want to put the people you kill on a wrack, Feora Protector of the Flame (eFeora) if you want to set people on fire - things are really open at this point and all of your models work well with the casters above.

If you want to stick with pKreoss (or want to get eFeora), getting a Redeemer would be the next step - he has a RoF 3 gun that decimates pretty much anything on feat turn (or in eFeora’s case sets everything on fire when bonded to her).

If you want to focus on Severius, the Blessing of Vengeance becomes your go-to arc node, replacing the Revenger, and is almost a necessity - well worth the additional one point.

The Avatar of Menoth is always a solid jack choice as he generates his own focus (taking the stress off your caster) and is both survivable and hits like a truck - but he is expensive (monetarily and points wise [11 points]).

The Temple Flameguard are our generic 'guys with shield' tarpit unit or get one of those sweet units mentioned earlier.

The Covenant of Menoth is a support piece (we have a lot of support) that for 2 points can grant fire to your weapons, stop spell casting in a 20” circle, or stop knock downs in a 20” circle. Very handy and it is in most tournament-competitive lists. It is also one of my favorite models (I mean, its a walking book!).

The Wracks grant you an extra focus each turn one is in your control area (until it blows) and are only 1 point, so they help fill out a list when it you are just a point shy.

We also have a bunch of Mercs open to us that are really useful. Both flavors of Eiryss are really annoying and make people wary. Rhupert Carvolo can grant tough or more def to your already annoying KEE. Gorman Di’Wulfe can do a lot - smoke clouds to block LoS, blind on a warjack to take them out of the game (effectively) for a turn or two, or knock a couple of armor off of something (effectively giving you +2 to damage).

At this point you have the backbone - flesh it out to your playstyle

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