The Focus Camper’s Bible 3: Camping with Cygnar
by Walter Langendorf
The time has come to abandon generalities and get specific. For no particular reason I’ve decided to start off the camping roll call with everyone’s favorite Swans.
Overall: Cygnar may be the very best faction to be a camper in, solely in terms of how much the army can contribute to your camp. It’s frankly staggering. That said, however, they are one of the least likely factions to see camping attempted with, as their army positively screams for the caster’s direct attention. That said, they have a couple of impressive campers, including one of the game’s all time camping greats.
Army Contribution to Camp:
The Journeyman can fill the caster’s upkeep slot with Cygnar’s trademark defensive buff…Arcane Shield. Not only is this the highest armor buff in the game, it is upkept by a solo, so it doesn’t even reduce the caster’s armor by 1 to upkeep it. The Journeyman adds 3 to any Cygnaran caster’s camp.
Squire: The squire can, for 3 turns, add another point to the caster’s camp. 3 turns is essentially the whole game, it’s very rare to see a Squire run dry.
Shield Guards: Cygnar has access to both the Bokur and their very own shield guard, the Sentinel. Bokurs aren’t the world’s best shield guards (they can be killed by shooting), but the sentinel is both cheap (4 points), and impressively capable of dealing damage while remaining near the caster. (Strafing infantry gives it something to do).
The 3 Gate System:
This was actually supposed to go into the last post, but I have 3 gates that I consider when I think about camping casters. The best casters make it through all 3. If a caster doesn’t make it through 2 you should consider whether your camping strategy would be better executed with another caster. The gates are:
#1: Threat that is position based and almost impossible to ignore. That is, when the caster goes up and camps in the enemy’s face, is there a reason they can’t just disregard him.
#2: Can the caster impact the game while camping. On the way forward, while you are in danger of assassination pieces but not the whole world, can you continue to help out your army?
#3: Can the caster camp? This is a function of stats. The Basic Bob example I keep bringing up shows how easy this is to satisfy. The only ones who really fail at this are folks whose def/arm balance is hugely weighted towards def who can’t get steady somehow, and aren’t in a faction that supports camping very well.
0 gate casters: Cygnar supports casters so hard that they don’t have any zero gate casters. Everyone can pass the first gate. Even the frail old Nemos have arms of 25 when you put all the pieces together. If we took Basic Bob (def 15, arm 16, 6 focus 15 hp) and put him in Cygnar we might have to start calling him Bobathrax, as he soared to 15/26 with the Journey upkeeping Arcane Shield and him taking a focus off a squire.
1 gate casters: The vast majority of Cygnar is composed of 1 gate casters. They have the stats to camp fairly substantial attempts. The Nightmare, preying on your caster and given 3 focus, (basically 5 27’s on damage) will fail to kill most everyone in Cygnar at full camp while they are laying down.
Stryker1 is a perfect example of this crew. He rolls out at a manly 16/25, which is some stout stats. Rowdy brings him up to a frankly absurd 18 25, arguably better than Cryx’s infamous Lich Lord campers…but then what?
In terms of threat, if you disregard him he threatens to…charge a very short distance and start buying mat 7 pow 13’s? He can’t kill a heavy, much less another camper. His feat is defensive, and he doesn’t need to be forward to use it.
In terms of doing things while camping, he can disrupt a jack every turn, 2 if a certain gobber speculator is hanging out with him. That’s cool, certainly, but you are missing out on 3 great upkeeps for this.
The Haley’s, the Nemos…this category is very full. Everyone I don’t mention by name in Cygnar falls into here. I don’t usually camp with these poor souls. They can, but there’s no reason to.
2 Gate casters:
Now we’re talking! The 2 gate crew generally lack threat, but they can influence the game while camping, and that’s enough to make it a viable strategy. After all, an invincible caster moving forward is always a threat to wipe an infantry unit off a scenario point. Let’s talk specific casters:
Darius is the classic member of this crew. First off, his camp is utterly ridiculous. He can hit a 13/28, with a staggering 22 boxes backing it up. That’s ludicrous. The Avatar can be battle hymned, get 4 focus, and get an ancillary attack at him and it won’t kill him unless its dice go ballistic. As long as his camp isn’t negated he’s borderline invincible.
Further, with his crane and his mines, he can actually impact the game while camping. Just craning around the tHead to disengage it or increase it’s threat range can be a fine contribution for a caster. Craning Gorman or Anastasia is always hilarious.
His big problem is that he doesn’t really have much of a threat. He can do some work with his hammer, but not enough to really eliminate an enemy that counter-camped, and his feat, of course, doesn’t really require that he be forward to work it. Still, pow 16 is a fine pow, and KD from his special attack is not to be underestimated.
Constance is more or less the other half of the 2 Gate caster continuum. She passes the first gate with the typical Cygnaran style, but backs it up by using a feat that can actually add to her armor value. She also has Gallant for her Shield Guard needs, and can thus avoid purchasing a Sentinel.
She actually has an excellent threat, which is rare in a Cygnaran caster. Reach with speed 6, a +2 speed buff and a blessed weapon. On top of that, she can flank, and with Gallant, the unit of Precursors and Harlan there are a lot of vectors this can come from. Flashing blade is also a fairly useful thing on a caster who plays forward.
Her problem is that, while she camps her way forward, she can’t actually do anything. In particular, she can’t use transference without dropping her arcane shield. Her feat also requires the enemy to kill her warrior models in order to get the good effects from it.
Kraye is the last member of the 2 Gate club I’d like to mention. His camp isn’t substantially lower than Darius’, and he has nearly as many hit points. He’s also Steady, which is actually a very big deal for a camper. He only semi-camps, usually, keeping his Full Tilt spell on a jack.
Kraye, while camping, still gives all of his jacks his Iron Horse rules. Sentinels, in particular, benefit from fast cav movement, as do Hunters. Heavies love the +2 to hit on charges and Ride By Attacks.
His problem, of course, is the lack of threat. Kraye is simply unimposing, and if they disregard his threat he can’t really make them pay for it. He can’t do much up close that he can’t do far away.
3 Gate caster:
There is one Cygnar caster who deserves an entry into the circle of legendary casters who pass all 3 gates. That caster, of course, is Epic Stryker.
Stryker2 as befits a Cygnar caster, has a fantastic camp. With a base of 16/16 and 6 focus he camps a sterling 16/26 with an Arcane shield and a point from the Squire. But he adds his own touch onto this Cygnaran treat with Old Rowdy’s unique ability to keep him standing and add +2 to his defense against melee attacks.
Steady and an 18/26 is about as good as it gets. If the enemy can’t get Rowdy away, and can’t get an Eiryss bolt onto him, he’s essentially invincible. Boosted 7’s will only hit half the time, as will mat 11’s. It’s hard to see what can take him out in one activation. I guess Molik Karn with Last Stand and Zaal’s feat active. Short of that, there isn’t much. Even boosting hit’s he’ll be missed half the time, and even boosted damage on a pow 18 will take 5 or 6 swings to drop him. It’s ludicrous.
Then there’s his threat. eStryker’s primary threat is as simple and powerful as it gets. If you ignore him when he comes forward, he’ll get himself to you with Velocity and crush you with his overboosted strength value. He threatens 17 inches unassisted, and it’s easy to image Rowdy pushing him, or Madelyn giving him that 3″ intrigue move. It’s a threat that has to be respected.
He also has a secondary threat, that he can throw out his feat and positive charge to massively buff his army, and velocity back and use the feat movement to escape retribution. This secondary threat is also compelling, so even hiding your caster out of reach doesn’t necessarily save you from Stryker if you don’t get him when he comes forward.
His only weakness is that he hast trouble doing anything while camping. He really gets the 3 gates by going through the threat gate twice, but he can just sit medium forward and toss out a positive charge every round to do his part. With Arcane Shield he’s still mostly camping, and Rowdy keeps him as hard to kill semi-camping as most are at their full.
So that’s Cygnar’s camping roster. Next entry I’ll talk about Khador.