Last time we looked at some of the core Retribution models and units. For the next three articles I’ll be going through my Masters lists in detail, discussing why I chose certain models, how those choices played out for me in practice before the Irish Masters, how they performed during the tournament, and what changes I am looking at making based on my competitive expeience with the lists. On to list number 1!
Rahn was my first real Retribution caster, and so was a bit of a crutch through my first couple tournaments and probably has seen the most use in casual play with my local group as well. This made him an automatic pick for me when deciding on which casters to take to the Masters, and as a caster I am comfortable with he got a nice, general purpose list:
Adeptis Rahn, 6 warjack points
– Phoenix, 10 points
– Banshee, 10 points
Dawnguard Sentinels, full unit, 9 points
-Sentinels unit attachment, 2 points
-Soulless Escort, 1 point
Dawnguard Invictors, full unit, 10 points
-Invictors unit attachment, 2 points
-Soulless Escort, 1 point
Battle Mages, 5 points
Mage Hunter Assassin, x2, 2 points each
Arcanist, x2, 1 point each
Rahn is a very strong control caster, with a bit of a sideline in assassination potential, so he needs an Arc Node to get his magic slams and telekinesis shenanigans going. One of the nice things Ret gets is heavy ‘jacks with Arc Nodes, so the Phoenix is pretty much an auto-include. A lot of lists run a second node, either with an additional Phoenix or one mounted on a light ‘jack, but I opted to take a Banshee instead. The Banshee provides control options without Rahn investing focus in them, while a second arc node still requires Rahn to do the lifting himself.
I only took one unit of House Shyeel Battle Mages, informally known as the mitten mages. A lot of players take a pile of mittens with Rahn, as they benefit from his feat, but I feel this is a big mistake. A single unit of mitten mages gives you solid control options as they shoot out incorporeal things, push/pull enemy heavies out of position, and hit very reliably and fairly hard on Rahn’s feat turn. The problem with taking multiple units of mitten mages is they are pillow-fisted on anything but Rahn’s feat turn, almost completely unable to kill enemy heavies or multi-wound infantry. If you look at the basic numbers, the mittens are a Rng 10, Pow 10 shooting unit in a faction with Rng 10, Pow 12 or Rng 12, Pow 10 Arcane Assassin shooting units of the same or higher accuracy. And those units will out-range or out-damage the mittens on every turn other than the feat. In defense of the mittens, they are actually pretty good in close combat and do remarkably well as a second line against enemy infantry with low-ish Def such as banes or trolls.
Full Sentinels and Invictors instead provide the infantry backbone of the army, and each unit gets its own Soulless Escort. The Escorts were a fairly late addition to the list, after a couple of disastrous practice matches against Cryx and Legion. Before the Soulless Escorts made it in to the list I got absolutely destroyed by eruption of spines and excarnate, after their inclusion I was able to anti-magic past another excarnate and two crippling grasps. Considering the Dawnguard are only Spd 5, keeping those grasps off means the unit actually stays relevant and has a threat range.
Anything that makes eGaspy sad is a good thing
Finally, two Mage Hunter Assassins fill out the last few points of the list. While I like the assassins a lot, I find that they tend to perform more as precision removal of enemy solos and UAs rather than as caster killers. They also occasionally spike with decapitation on enemy heavies and deal a horrific amount of damage for their point cost. They synergize well with Rahn’s telekinesis as he gives them that little bit of extra threat range or sneaks them in to a charge lane your opponent thought was closed off. They underperformed a bit during the Masters, but as inherently swingy models that didn’t especially turn me off of them for use in future lists.
Rahn is a very strong scenario ‘caster, and this list almost always wants to go second. Deploying second lets you line up your Sentinels and Invictors across from their primary targets: your opponents heavies and infantry respectively. The Banshee sets up where it can support the Sentinels, using its knockdown gun to ensure auto-hitting weapon master charges. Mittens deploy to counter Shield Wall/Defensive Line units or to counter enemy incorporeal or immune to non-magical shooting models. Deploying the Phoenix for maximum effectiveness takes bit more thought, but in general you can get away with sticking it near the middle and running it to where it needs to be on your first turn anyway. Finally, your Mage Hunter Assassins deploy last. While I used to like the Assassins as a direct threat to the enemy caster, lately I have found them more useful for sniping out high value, lowish-Def solos and UAs. Bypassing Tough makes them extra good at removing some real high priority targets like Janissa and the Bane Thrall standard bearer. Last but not least, by deploying second you also get to start scoring scenario points first.
So with set up covered, now we look in to execution. Rahn himself is going to be doing two important things virtually every turn he is on the field. The first of those things is casting Force Hammer. Don’t be afraid to run your Phoenix up on turn one, toss a Polarity Shield on it, and then Force Hammer whatever the biggest threat on the table is. Knocking their heavy hitter out of position, potentially doing some damage, and if you are lucky collateral damaging their support off the table is almost always worth it. With the range on Force Hammer and the Polarity Shield up you should be able to keep the Phoenix out of danger for the next turn. Just remember that heavies can still trample at your Phoenix to bypass the Polarity Shield so position yourself appropriately. Occasionally people will then run infantry to engage your Phoenix. Reward this behavior by having the Phoenix auto-hit them all with POW 12s plus the Fire Continuous Effect on your next turn.
You should be casting this all the time
The second thing Rahn does is be greedy. Save that focus for yourself. Let the Arcanists power your ‘jacks. Your Phoenix rarely does more than run, act as a node, and occasionally turns enemy infantry in to little screaming balls of fire. The Banshee gets a free Power Booster focus each turn and uses that to boost his knock down gun’s attack roll. Your heavies are there to act as support pieces for Rahn and your infantry units and solos. Keeping them safe means you have a very tough second line that threatens opposing ‘casters once your Sentinels and Assassins run out of steam. If the Sentinels and Assassins have cleared out all the enemy heavy hitters before going down you can then start handing out focus to mop up using your ‘jacks, or more likely just dominate the scenario flags or zones for a win.
Finally, the new Killbox is your bext friend. The Steamroller 2013 version of Killbox turns this list in to an assassination monster. The extra 2” forward your opponent has to put their caster means that you can start Force Hammering their own models through their caster on turn 2 most of the time. Accurate high-POW shooting from Arcanist fueled heavies and the Invictors means that any line of sight on the enemy warnoun is potentially fatal. And while the Killbox no longer ends the game immediately, giving Rahn a 2-point lead in scoring to try and dodge the assassination often allows him to clear a zone or flag and push in to dominate it himself, scoring the last points needed to win all at once.
And now for the TL;DR version of the article, some bullet points on basic tactics as well as basic criteria for when to use this list and when to absolutely avoid using this list.
- The Killbox is your friend, let it force your opponent out to where you can slam him around the place.
- Cast Force Hammer liberally. It takes some practice to know exactly how to get the most out of it, but the spell rarely disappoints.
- Rahn should be spending Rahn’s focus. Arcanist’s should be powering your ‘jacks. Your ‘jacks should be shooting and avoiding melee when at all possible, unless it is to win the game.
- With this list, Rahn can play for attrition, assassination, or scenario. In general, longer games favor the control ‘caster as long as you aren’t too outnumbered.
- Rahn is very good at Dominating. Pay attention to scenario scoring and you can often score multiple points a turn, or force your opponent to choose between handing you the assassination win or the scenario win.
When you want to take this list:
- Against melee focused beast/’jack lists
- Against magic heavy lists, such as pDeneghra or Bethayne and the Hex Hunters
- Any Killbox scenario where you are unsure about your opponents likely list choice but don’t see any of the lists that you should never face.
When you never take this list:
- If your opponent has a Shadow Pack ‘caster as one of their three lists.
- If your opponent has lists with significant numbers of immune to knockdown and place effect models, such as eHaley double Stormwalls, or if Tiberion and a Mammoth/Mammoths becomes a thing.
- If your opponent has multiple lists with Colossals/Gargantuans.
Well, hope everyone found that useful and feel free to leave any advice or questions in the comments. Next time we’ll take a look at my Ravyn list, including a couple new bits of tech. There might even be diagrams!