These are all my opinions. They’re worth what you paid for them.
I generally play convention style tourneys and the format is usualy 50 pt.
When going to a big tournament you need to be prepared. In a multiple list format you will need to pick warlocks that work together to help prevent bad matchups. In this article I am going to go over the three I used for Gencon 2011 and why I picked them based on possible matchups. By the end of the article you will understand how important it is to pick warlocks who cover each other‘s weaknesses. I thought this article was appropriate as the Steam Roller Tournaments are going to move towards the three list format in the future. My Trio of ladies Lylyth2, Saeryn, and Vayl1 are very strong when taken together.
I generally place my warlocks into 3 categories which are:
Aggression – Vayl1, Lylyth1, Thagrosh2, Bethayne, Rhyas
Attrition – Lylyth2, Kallus, Thagrosh1, Vayl2, Absylonia
Denial – Saeryn
There are some warlocks here that overlap into other categories a little but for the sake of simplicity I will keep them as above until a later article. I view this much like a color wheel where you have complimentary and contrasting colors and different shades depending on how you play each warlock. Before you blow a gasket about Lylyth2 being in Attrition category just remember this is where I place her and how I play her. Any of these warlocks can play attrition just by hitting from a distance and keeping your army safe or forcing uneven trades etc. Vayl1 is in the Aggression category because while she can keep safe with her feat, she generally powers her army through with incite and chiller to help push the damage output into the stratosphere. Let’s move into the meat of this article
Denial — Saeryn
I rank Saeryn as a solid A due to the amount of denial she brings to the game. She has her feat which prevents her battle group from being targeted by melee for a round. Breath Stealer gives a DEF and more importantly a SPD debuff to a model/unit (remember SPD debuffs prevent charging). Blight Bringer provides infantry removal and blocks charge lanes. Her Death Spurs even prevent transfers. On top of all that she gets +2 DEF against ranged attacks which regularly gets her up to DEF 19 with Tenacity.
Saeryn should be one of your 2-3 lists (format dependent) in the convention scene because she is our best answer to Cryx. If you have been paying any attention you’ll have noticed that there are a high number of Cryx players in each tournament. Cryx has some ball busting casters which are very hard to play against. Some of the most popular you will see are Gaspy2, Denny2, Skarre2 and Denny1. There are some others that are really good as well but these are the ones I see the most.
With Saeryn I always bring two Scytheans which provide a great way to deal with Tough Bane Thralls. They also RFP, so Gaspy2’s feat is less potent. You then double up with her feat to give your army an extra turn of protection while you go in and RFP as much of his army as you can so he can’t bring them back. Now this plan isn’t fool proof. A Gaspy2 player who is threatened by his army being RFPed could kill his own models to power his feat. If this happens, at least you got some of these initial models out of the way before they hit you to begin with. With Blight Bringer you can stop the Bane Thralls from charging a heavy beast as non-reach troops can’t avoid the AoE.
Denny1 and Denny2
When playing against Denny2 and her Prime counterpart it becomes a game of trying to get the opponent to use their feat before you do. In any type of denial based matchup, the person who uses the feat first loses. Denny2 is a nightmare in control the geometry scenarios. It is very hard to try and get her to pop feat first as she can go incorporeal. There isn’t much we can do about it if she rushes us and we have Saeryn. In most of my games Denny2 has ran at me incorporeal at full focus to get me to pop my feat first and it typically works. We still have Breath Stealer and Blight Bringer to do our best at preventing the bane knight from charging and keeping bane thralls off of important targets. The only issue then is scenario loss which can easily happen if you are not positioning properly. Most games against Denny2 I give up a scenario point due to feating first and having to run a sacrificial Shredder where it is needed to prevent scenario loss or even an Angelius or another heavy with respawn on it. Hopefully the scenario is a non scenario life Capture the Flag or Gauntlet etc. From there if you are caught in the counter feat you just have to do you best by keeping a Spell Martyr far enough back to run into position to stop bane Knights from charging and Blight Bringer something to prevent Bane Thralls from getting where they need to be. Once you get through the feat you can begin to push back. If you played it right Denny2 will soon be forced to retreat as you begin to tear apart her army.
Against Denny1 it is a little different. I’ve noticed that a few players like Muse On Mini’s own sepher32 run pirates with Denny. This is a huge issue as they bring ranged shots to the fight and they will be effective POW 18 with all buffs applied on whatever they are shooting under Denny’s feat turn. If you are lucky and you don’t have to play against a ranged Denny army you just make them feat defensively first and counter feat to keep yourself around and after the feat turn begin to push into the army the same way as you would Denny2. The good thing about this matchup is we have banishing ward which helps prevent those annoying debuffs from sticking on our important models. If you aren’t lucky and you do go against the ranged version of her list then you need to prioritize the targets and try your best to jam the pirates or kill as many as possible before she feats and shoots you. This is easier said than done.
The Matchup against Skarre2 is a lot easier than the other ones. Other than perdition, legion will generally out threat a Skarre2 list and shouldn’t have any issue forcing the Skarre2 players to feat first. If the Skarre2 player uses perdition and gets into your heavy they generally will feat unless they don’t mind trading heavies and coming out behind. I see both Nightmare and Death Jack in her lists and can say that trading a 9 pt scythean is well worth any of those in my book. For those of you who don’t know my Saeryn list it runs 4 heavies piece trading heavies is to my advantage.
Saeryn is my Cryx matchup warlock. This doesn’t mean she is limited to just Cryx as she is good against many other factions as well. I will now list some matchups that I find to be her weak points.
Bad Matchups for Saeryn
Butcher1 – If he is running Winterguard Deathstar or a majority of a ranged army his feat will destroy Saeryn’s army without much effort. This means trying to get into proper position before going in is key. Nothing much will save you otherwise.
Sorsha2 and Sorscha1 – One can run the Deathstar and can do double damage over armor while the other version can make you stationary for her army to shoot you.
Kara Sloan – Super Ranged armies really do a number on her unless she can run to engage them before they go off.
Grim Angus – His feat drops defense and allows for models like the Bomber to focus fire on heavies and kill them. It also prevents Saeryn’s models from charging which makes for a rough fight.
Ossyan – takes a ranged army and really brings the hurt with an additional die on ranged damage rolls and his gun which can make an angelius or other high defense targets easy to hit.
You should see a trend with Saeryn’s weakness. Ranged heavy forces that out threat you and can deal heavy damage from afar.
Attrition – Lylyth2
Lylyth2 should be most players’ second or third list in a competitive environment. She brings a heavy ranged game to the table topped with huge safety from most ranged attacks in Shadow Pack. Those two things alone make her a nightmare to deal with for a lot of different factions. I use Lylyth2 as an attrition warlock trying to use my supreme range to destroy as much of the opponent’s army that I can before it gets to me. This doesn’t mean she can’t be an aggression warlock and go for the throat if the opponent gives it to you on a platter. Let me give you some matchups where I feel Lylyth2 has an edge.
If you go to any forum with Retribution their number one warlock they hate playing against is Lylyth2. Retribution doesn’t bring much that can ignore stealth and they rely on a combined arms approach of softening you up at range and finishing you off in melee. Now you put them up against a warlock whose battle group cannot be shot, who out threat ranges their army and who can easily hit their pitiful defense of 12-13 on most of their army and you see why all they do is whine.
I know Haley2 is a horrid matchup for most factions in general but I always reach for Lylyth2 if she’s available to play against her. Haley2 is one of the top warcasters in the game so she has some answers to Lylyth2 in Deceleration but we have our own defense in shadow pack. Haley2’s general ranged unit is Gun Mages with UA and they always marshal the Defender. With Shadow Pack we are able to ignore the defender for most of the game as he doesn’t get the ability to ignore stealth like the Gun Mages do. If any of you have played against a temporal accelerated, dead eyed defender you know how much of a pain in this ass it is to deal with. Arlen gives it a free focus, if it gets lucky and gets both crits he boosts both damage rolls one from a focus from Arlen and the other from the jack marshal boost. POW 15 at 4 dice of damage can take out heavies in two turns.
While we now have defense against the Defender we then focus on the incoming Storm clad that is bonded. The Stormclad becomes SPD 7 due to the bond and has reach and access to TK as well. So the threat range on the Stormclad is pretty ball busting for a jack hitting at POW 19. Lylyth2 can try and put a ton of ranged shots into it or can wait till it closes in and try to take it down with melee from your back up heavy hitter. You can do this by utilizing pursuit on the target if they don’t have Eyriss2. This means you are able to move away a heavy and take a free strike but still have the heavy sitting around in order to retaliate next turn. If by chance you are unable to kill the Journeyman who has Arcane Shield on the Stormclad, you can always two handed throw the Stormclad with a Ravagore and get him out of Haley2’s control area as she never likes being forward against Lylyth2. I did this to great effect in multiple games this year.
As for Kara Sloan, her army which is super accurate on feat turn wont be able to shoot you unless she plops down Mage Sight or the B13 lob the anti stealth template on you. There really isn’t much else to say about Kara.
Lylyth2 typically is the bane of most legion lists. She out threat ranges them, is accurate enough on feat turn to hit most legion higher defenses, ignores legions stealthed troopers and brings enough power to down beasts and bring you out ahead before they have a chance to strike you. Obviously this might change if the matchup is Lylyth2 vs. Lylyth2 though.
So as you can see from the above matchups she excels against ranged factions who can’t get around stealth or factions like Legion that can ignore stealth but bring paper armor on heavies high defense heavies and that you can out threat range them to bring them down fast. Lylyth2 has her bad matchups as well and here are a few of them
Bad Matchups for Lylyth2
Menoth – Currently without the Naga we have an issue against Jack wall Menoth and an even harder time if we are facing any of the Feora incarnations since she has fire immunity. We do have Nephalim Bolt Throwers and Lylyth2 without a typed damage but unless the opposing player just leaves her open; you’ll have a pretty rough time.
Kreoss1 – He is Lylyth2’s worst matchup. He brings everything she doesn’t want to see, an auto knockdown feat, good buffs and the worst part, purification. Purification and a knockdown feat means if he’s running a ranged army there will be little you can do to save Lylyth from a pop and drop besides sitting her behind a piece of terrain that they cant draw LOS through. Is this is the case, the opponent will just range down your beasts instead and leave you without much to might back with.
Troll Bricks – Troll bricks can get warrior models up to armor 20 and be immune to continuous effects. Their beasts with the help of Janissa and the Earthborn’s animus can get up to an ARM number which Lylyth2’s shooting can do little against.
Terminus – A durable caster and even harder to stop due to sac pawn and tough. There is nothing else really needed to be said except avoid this matchup.
Central point scenarios – Lylyth2’s army doesn’t want to be the first army up the field and into the middle. This helps close distance between your army and their army and the opponent will engage you faster. While she isn’t an auto lose in central point scenarios, I have intentionally given up scenario points by just having 1 model contest for a turn in order for me to power through and come back to win. I would avoid these scenarios if you have the chance.
I feel Lylyth2 brings a strong ranged game into a trio of Warlocks and helps against those ranged matchups. Knowing her role when picking your warlocks will help you immensely.
Aggression – Vayl1
Vayl1 was the final warlock I chose in my trio of warlocks because I am the most comfortable with her. She brings a highly offensive play style to the table which can power through most armies due Incite and Chiller. In a character restricted format Vayl will always get Typhon. His presence on the board will make your opponent cringe that he might be the eventual target of a Dark Sentinel crit pitch. He will also make him worry that your Leash + Slipstream Gunfighter charge will kill their caster before they know it. Having this type of psychological advantage really is beneficial. So onto what I would take Vayl1 against.
Vayl has a pretty good time against most hordes armies. She not only out threat ranges all models in the Hordes Universe with Leash and SS but she also has Rampager which is a spell that Hordes players all despise. Being able to control opponents non character beasts forces them to play cautiously and gives you an advantage going into matchups.
Bricks, High armor targets, higher Defense models and slower armies
Vayl1 brings incredible accuracy and hitting power to the table. With that combination she has almost no issues with high armor bricks. She has a very potent alpha strike with a Scythean and Typhon. She has her feat to pull you back and protect you and Dark Sentinel to help keep a beast from being charged and killed if by chance it is too close to the front lines after moving away. Vayl has no issues with bringing down a single hard armored target barring a Devastator or possibly the Behemoth. On average against a charging Scythean the Behemoth will be left alive with 3 boxes left. Against Bricks Vayl1 brings the speed, hitting power and safety in her feat to move where you need to be to give you a double strike.
Against higher defense models she can give a + 4 swing in your favor by stacking Incite and Chiller. Those pesky Warp Wolf Stalkers are now effective DEF 12 against your mat 8, those Iron Fleshed Kayazy are now down to a normal level and hitting them on boosts isn’t an issue. We have no other warlock in our faction that I feel can power us through like Vayl1 can by just brute force alone.
Problem matchups for Vayl1
Haley2 – extreme denial and the ability to shoot your heavies with a defender while closing is a huge issue.
Lylyth2 – is generally a despised matchup by legion but even more so with Vayl1 as she has abysmal defensive stats.
Denny2 – locking Vayl1 down for a turn and getting into position for the charge is very hard on her. Anything that can prevent her from moving around will cause her to dwindle pretty fast.
Skarre2 – her feat can protect 5 models or stop our models from doing much of anything. Vayl1 lists have limited models as it is so her feat is very powerful against her.
Grim Angus –Grim Angus is a bad matchup as it drops our beasts defense, prevents charging and he can focus fire our models down or even get a bead on Vayl1 if we position poorly
Ossyan – Strong ranged focus can take down our few heavies quick. This game would come down to being able to hit their army before they hit us.
An opponent that can prevent us from attacking or focus strongly on denial and ranged will give Vayl1 fits.
In closing it is important when picking warlocks that you try your best to cover weak points in order to prevent poor matchups. There are plenty of other combinations that would work well together and it’s not limited to the three above. I would never take Kallus and Thagrosh1 as two warlocks to a tourney together as I feel that the attrition style they both bring will not help me if I play against a poor matchup for that style of warlock. Similarly I wouldn’t take Kallus and Saeryn together as they both seem to want to use their feats and jam control points or hit the opposing army and sit there. In the end, it really is up to what you feel comfortable and player skill. The above grouping of warlocks is just how I perceive them and grouping them as such helps me a lot when trying to cover my bases in tournaments.