The Elusive Prey (Part 1)

She did not read this article.

She did not read this article6.

So I figured it might be fun to do a series that coincides with another author’s series, that compliments4 it through discussion of similar material, from a different perspective.

This will be a series, I’m hoping to split it into relatively small articles in order to enable me to ease back into writing since my time is a little limited at present.

I suspect that for a lot of players most of what comes up in this series will be common sense, but hey, I’ve spent a lot of time trying not to die in games, so I feel the need to restate the things I’ve learnt1

I guess the first step to me is knowing what types of assassination exist. Loosely I classify them into three categories:

1. Ranged (Examples include Lylyth 2 and Caine 2)

INFINITE BULLETS

INFINITE BULLETS

2. Spell (Examples include Morvhana 2 and Vayl 2)

Her balls don't shrink when it's cold.

Her balls don’t shrink when it’s cold.

3. Melee (Examples include Makeda and Doomshaper)

Wait...wrong picture, one second.

Wait…wrong picture, one second.

Fixt that for you

Fixt that for you

The examples above identify(Mostly) casters that are heavily involved in the assassination personally.
That’s done mostly because I needed examples, not because the caster necessarily defines the assassination.
It’s entirely possible (In fact possibly more common) to build an assassination based list where the caster does not make any attacks on the victim at all. In fact for the melee based assassins, that’s pretty much the vast majority of cases.

Note also that (as I’m sure the Patient Hunter series will cover) many assassination lists include elements of at least two of the three.

I would say that most often an assassination list has a primary vector out of the three listed above and the rest of their list serves to enhance/enable that primary vector, using elements of all kinds.

An example would be using melee attacks to clear line of sight (or ranged attacks to clear a charge lane), or spells to move models out of line of sight/charge lanes. At heart there is a primary vector, but around it are a swathe of enablers.

One hell of an enabler

One hell of an enabler

Often the enablers can also be used to cobble together an assassination run even if you manage to shut down the primary vector….but that’s a problem for future you, and seriously screw that guy. 7

So step one in being the elusive prey is identifying your opponents primary assassination vector.

In this context I personally think of TWO types of “assassination lists”:
1. Those that are caster-centric
2. Those that are not

Caster-centric lists get a LOT of their assassination potential specifically from their warlock or warcaster. For most of these casters their feat is a massive portion of their assassination threat. A simple example here is Caine. His personal assassination threat is the primary assassination vector for his list. If you are able to ensure that he personally cannot shoot your caster, the odds are very low that his list will assassinate you without his contribution.

Lists that are not caster-centric generally feature a caster/lock that is a serious enabler of the primary vector. An example here is General Ossrum with an Earthbreaker (and Thor)3. Ossrum himself does not do much other than hand out focus and the snipe spell. Yet the list has an enormous assassination potential at a surprisingly long range. Working to shut Ossrum himself out of the game will NOT contribute to saving you from assassination. The lists primary vector is obviously the Earthbreaker.

Once you have identified the primary vector (Try to make sure you get this right, it’s embarassing when you dont)11 the next step is to attempt to identify the “key” to their assassination run.

This is a tricky concept in the sense that it requires you to know a reasonable amount about your opponents list and how it functions. This is an area that comes mostly from experience and time spent thinking.

Most assassins have a relatively simple key to their assassination. Vayl2 needs to get an arc of some type to your caster12. Grayle needs a target for the Lord of the Feast to hit with a bird (and preferably other bodies around you to become corpse tokens), Morvhana 2 prefers to be able to drop a grove, Rhyas needs a model for her charge to hit to flip behind, Goreshade has to get a model to you to freeze with his feat.
If you can identify the key steps in their assassination threat, then each of those key actions/requirements is also a potential weakspot.

Enabler, key, weak spot?

Enabler, key, weak spot?

For a lot of casters their Feat is the key to their assassination run. In these cases you have a surprising amount of power as the other player.
Often people will feel like the player with the assassination feat has the power, since as long as it stays available, their opponent must play with a lot of care.
The flip-side to that is the knowledge that they can’t afford to use their feat for any other purpose if they wish to keep the threat available.

A common example would be Lylyth 2. She has a feat that can either be very powerful in attrition, or very powerful in assassination. If you are facing her with a scenario or attrition-based force, you can play extremely aggressively (in fact you have to) and put her in a difficult position. If she holds her feat, in order to keep the assassination threat on the table, then she gets rapidly pushed out of scenario, or will be forced to give up pieces to stay in scenario (thus losing attrition). However if she uses the feat early for attrition advantage, she loses her assassination threat which is her primary way of restricting/controlling the opposing warnoun.

In an attempt to keep these short, I’m going to end this one right here.
Next installment will continue where I’ve left off (probably, I mean that’s the logical spot to continue…12)

I’m not sure whether to make a thread on the forums separately for these posts, or to try and hijack the patient hunter thread. I might do that just to annoy him.

That’s a freebie, knock any assassin off kilter and maybe she’ll try something stupid.


1. Learnt is possibly the wrong spelling and definitely the wrong application. Lets go with “things I’ve learned several times and continue to relearn”…..where learned actually means “done wrong” and relearn means “still do wrong”.
2. Also, she had a terrible caster attachment. Although that attachment did go on to become a junior warcaster and then I guess technically went epic. Useless spell list and a pretty average feat really spelt the end of her in competitive play though.9
3. and maybe with a junior warcaster running a goddam galleon. Just for example. Dammit David.
4. Or does whatever the opposite of compliments is in this particular usage of compliments. The antonym that jumps to mind is insults…which doesnt work. GOGO internets!
5. This one didnt get used. Well, I mean now it has been. So … yeah.
6. To be fair, her death pre-dated the article’s publication by a little while.2
7. I generally try to use gender-neutral language or to alternate male/female or even use exclusively female when writing, more as a personal experiment in writing than out of any strong feelings on what people should do. However I did just discover that if you substitute girl into the sentence “and seriously screw that guy” it changes the interpretation (at least in my mind). I found that interesting.13
8. “Author” in this case being used with a degree of poetic1 licence
9. Becoming prince of the forest is a pretty decent epic incarnation, though still having the name bambi probably detracts somewhat. As far as I can tell Bambi’s feat involved scaring off enemy solos and his spell list was essentially seduction. Though it’s hard to be sure whether he had that spell or Faline did. I guess technically he might have had the spell fire-starter, though that would cast an entirely different light on the storyline.
10. “Poetic” in this case also being used….though without licence.
11. “Hah! Totally blew Typhon off the table! Jackpot!” was recently followed by “Wait…how far did you say Rhyas’ threat was?”
12. I said it was easy to identify, not stop.
13. One of the benefits of being a self-indulgent, non-paid, narcissistic author8 is that I really dont have to concern myself with whether it’s interesting to you.

Author: bobliness

I'm an Australian living in Houston, Texas, I started playing Warmachine/Hordes in March 2012 and I consider myself to be on a continuous learning curve that I'm not sure will ever end. I play for strategy and combinations, I am in no way a qualified hobbyist or painter though I admire those that are. No, I dont know Chunky, but the other five people that live in Australia tell me he's really swell.

Share This Post On