“How far forward did you run those sentinels?”
“The full ten inches.”
“Excellent, I run this arc node up then activate Lich. He’s going to cast excarnate on the nearest one.”
“Measure range please.”
“It’s definitely in ten”.
“But is it in… FIVE!?”
The Retribution of Scyrah are a primarily ranged faction, still haunted by a legacy of being new. The depth of their options isn’t huge. That makes list building against the Lich difficult. Not to say there aren’t lists you could play for an advantage, there are. They just don’t involve much careful model selection to tailor a matchup, because you just don’t have the breadth of options.
Tools of the Trade
Weirdly I’m going to start my recommendations by saying that, no, mage hunter strike force shouldn’t be in every list. It’s a shooting unit with Stealth, which is very good. It ignores buffs which is often excellent. They are, however, Rat 6 and Pow 10 with no CRA. They have some nasty tricks with a few casters, especially if you have a Banshee, but they are not the be all and end all of Retribution units.
They are really solid against Lich2 though! There is very little with high Def in the typical Lich army. They ignore LoS so the clouds are useless and they can always gotcha the bile thralls that are in any way forward. If you take Aiyana and Holt, and you should in a Cryx matchup, they have the ability to kill everything except bane thralls. Though of course that’s unlikely, they will do a lot of work before meeting an end.
Pink is the stealthiest hair color!
The house guard halberdiers aren’t bad, as set defence makes banes very sad. Though they really don’t want anything to do with the blood witches or Tartarus, and it’s hard to keep excarnate off them. In general, excarnate is very hard to stop in Retribution. It is a faction with the unique opportunity to always hunt the biles back to extreme range, don’t be afraid to risk the mage hunters even, if the biles go away the whole rest of your army suddenly turns on.
The real star of the infantry section of the Retribution is the soulless escort. He’s one point, with an often useful magical weapon, the ability to remove upkeeps on his unit, though this is still weak against speed debuffs, and the all-important mage static ability which reduces the range of spells targeting his unit by five inches. This wins games because it is constantly forgotten, though this could well be the foreign elements syndrome of Retribution in general.
More like sweet-less esc-Oh-Yeah!… It’s been a long week.
The Arcanatrik Force Generator can be interesting. It’s a big un-chargeable block that can toe into zones, and it makes your jacks have longer range on their guns. It also, as is so common among the elves, has a magical ranged attack. So it’s good at putting the hurt on the incorporeal units while contesting but not getting excarnated.
As for the Hyperion, he does have a sweet 5” magical AoE, but he’s a collosal against Lich. You probably only gets one round to use that consume gun before he is wrecked, and even then it’s at best a 40% chance of RFPing around 4 banes. That is not impressive, unless you can protect him somehow.
We are definitely all about what your casters can add to the matchup this week. You need counters to Lich’s tricks, and hopefully these ‘casters will provide you with some of your own. The truth of this section is that you are still probably taking Ossyan and Rahn, and in their more usual layout. And those aren’t bad in the matchup, just because they are both excellent.
Equines of the Night
There is currently a video of Keith Christianson playing Lich against Kaelyssa and it goes… poorly for the Retribution player. That said, I think she has some interesting tools in the matchup. Banishing ward is obviously potent in the Cryx match. I kind of like it on mage hunter strike force because it lets you know they aren’t getting excarnated, so they can focus a bit more on keeping the biles back, or killing them early on, especially if you have an AFG toeing the zone. Phantom hunter is good on both her and a Banshee, but the mage hunters won’t kill even a knocked down Lich, and you still can’t ignore Tartarus’s Stealth with your myrmidon’s gun. So don’t get greedy, establish a kill-zone in front of the AFG and try to keep it clear.
I always like to imagine when elves get stealth they get pink hair. So I find Kaelyssa’s feat HILARIOUS.
True sight lets her kill bane thralls, though this will usually be in the late game after the feat has gone off, it’s a good use of the RoF 3 True Sight gun! Most importantly of all, her feat which is really good, as it stops charges against her models and gives everything stealth. So you have one turn where you can open out and move up hard, and you really need to capitalise on it because you can expect the counter feat after wards. Don’t do it early. Try and get a round, maybe two of chipping away and make sure everything in your army can attack, while Kaelyssa can back up next turn. Make sure the bane knights all die so that his walking threat is very short. It’s your big shot to turn the game back on the Lich.
Witch hunter can be very funny, if Lich parasites your ‘jack or Kaelyssa, they get to move, and can go from a risky position to a safe one, while Lich has to teleport home, tail between his legs, excarnate not cast for another round. It’s controlled by your opponent though, so never, ever try and rope-a-dope them, because it doesn’t really expose Lich and will just get you killed.
EDIT: Credit where credit is due! Mastershake took my loose fit ideas about Kaelyssa and wrote a more in-depth analysis of the matchup. If people keep providing me with these this series will get pretty easy to write! 😀
Ravyn can have some game, with sniped mage hunters hunting the biles while veil of mists Blocks LoS, but you have to very conspicuously contest the zone. Ravyn armies don’t often have a way to do that consistently against Lich. If you include an AFG though, I think it becomes interesting, or at very least playable, which is nice against the big bad!
The Usual Suspects
Our usual suspects this week are about as usual as you get. Ossyan and Rahn are probably the two best casters in the faction, and I often see them as a pair in Steamroller.
Rahn is the one caster who makes the Hyperion a viable option against Lich. Throw polarity shield and it can do what I’ve been suggesting the AFG for in most lists, but far more convincingly. If you have both it’s normally a hilariously un-chargeable wall, but I don’t think it makes enough attacks, and the lack of movement control (read: covering fire) doesn’t help. Beyond that, you want an arc node, some battle mages aren’t bad, and the strike force are good against Lich but I don’t especially like them with Rahn. The trick to Rahn, is that Rahn is just incredible! It’s on the table that you will make your plays, and decide the course of the game.
Everybody Rahn, Rahn!
Ossyan however, is probably your best bet. He often takes and wants mage hunter strike force, he can let them get deeper with quicken, and most importantly of all: he has shatter storm. If you start shatter storming bane knights, it’s one of the few sources of rfp that’s prevalent and fast enough to worry the Lich. Admonition is also a very effective defence against both the feat and charges in general. You have to time it carefully so that he puts in enough banes to threaten Ossyan, then you admonition on the last one so the guys who have already charged block charge lanes. It’s a very tight-ropey betting game, if he stops earlier than you were betting it can be disastrous, but if you move too early it might end up not saving you at all.
That’s it for that week! Though I feel like I’m missing some incredible hidden Lich counter, but maybe as a religious list builder I just find Retribution’s breadth shallow. Note that that’s not a disparagement on the faction’s power, Ossyan and Rahn are ball-busting, but it doesn’t have the options of a fully-fledged faction.
Next week, we go full dragon and consider the Legion of Everblight, and one of my favourite warlocks ever!
P.S. There are no lists this week, because I feel like the best options aren’t particularly inventive on my part. This is largely because I’d probably just give you Ethan’s lists. He is currently writing about his experiences with Retribution at the Irish Masters and it goes into far more detail than I do here about Soulless Escorts and Banshees!