13 Nov 2012

Tuesday Table Top Fun - The Defender

Now I’m trying to master the various ‘jacks and other units of the Cygnar faction and one stands out as escaping me far too frequently. As I write this ‘Theory Machine’ post, please note I’m not the expert. I am simply putting down my thoughts and observations as I try to become a better player with this particular tool. Their is a bevi of other sources of information on this topic.

Without further ado.

There is a saying ‘The best defence in a good offense’.

The chassis designers at the Cygnarian Armory must have that in mind when they put together the 6.5 ton Warjack named the Defender, standing tall at just over a dozen feet. Running for a full 45 mins of combat time before needing a new load of 655 pounds of coal this ‘jack is the epitome of Cygnar versatility in combat.

Fluff aside when you look across the board at the Defender’s stat line there is nothing special against the rest of the Iron Clad series chassis ‘jacks. It’s moving faster then most SPD 4 heavy ‘jacks and its ARM is nothing to write home about unless you go on about the average, but the DEF is one higher when you look at other ‘jacks that have the same ARM value.

I hate writing ‘Theory machine’ posts, plus Battle College and the Privateer Press forums have plenty to say about the Defender but I feel they focus too much on its range game and downplay the melee potential of the Defender.

Most people will look at the Heavy Barrel as the weapon of choice that the Defender brings to the table. With top-of-class long range, and hitting most ‘jacks with a damage of dice -3, the Defender’s Heavy Barrel is a dream being able to punch holes in heavy targets at a distance. With snipe cast on the Defender and setting it up on the 7”/10” start line, you’re looking at reaching over the center line when picking your targets. Few other weapons can pull that off every turn. When the Defender is taking aim, it’s looking at a RAT that matches the Black Thirteenth. Without boosting the Defender will hit a DEF 15 target, 50% of the time.

Of course this leads to a lot of players just sitting the Defender on the back line, shooting at targets far away, picking off solos, adding its heavy hitting gun to a damaged or soon to be damaged target. With the Shock Hammer it sports, it can defend most ‘casters when someone gets too close. Yet this is a waste of nine points.

The Shock Hammer allows the Defender to get mixed up into melee as a second hitter on heavy targets or a primary hitter on light ‘jacks/’beasts. With the P+S of the hammer the Defender is doing dice -2 for damage on the average heavy and dice +1 on the average light. When you add in the Cortex Damage it causes on a hit, remember a hit: before you roll damage, the Defender can do some real damage to any ‘jack it runs into.

Charging in close on a ‘jack with a full load of Focus; the Defender with its solid MAT will hit most heavy ‘jacks and leave it with no working Cortex by the end of the melee. Add in some regular damage, there is a good chance the Defender will leave an impression. Even without a charge, the Defender is still looking at a dealing few good knocks. When you look at the Colossals and the number of Cortex boxes, the Defender can do some real damage under the skin. This of course is overlooked to often by many Cygnar players.

With the support from our ‘casters and ‘jack marshals, the Defender can be a great boon to any army list. There is not a single Cygnar ‘caster that is unable to use a Defender’s strengths in their Battlegroup. Any ‘jack marshal would be more then happy to get issued one. Examples include when I smoked the Cortex on two Khador ‘jacks with pNemo. pStriker loves to get that versatility in a place to threaten his opponent without fear of reprisal on feat turn. Sloan and Seige love the heavy hitting range game on their feat turn before throwing it down as a second wave hitter. Seeing Kraye launch the Defender at full throttle on an opponents flank, sacking the arc node before setting up shop to sit around and pick off targets was encouraging. Arcane Tempest Gun Mage officers, the Haileys’, Darius, the list goes on. No one hates the Defender’s versatility when they know what it can do for them.

Going back to the normal tendencies to hold it back to simply shoot, I’ve been trying to get more table time with the Defender and force myself to step out of the safe ‘range game’ and play it more in the middle. By letting it shot at targets early in the game before launching into a critical scrum I expect to get the most out of my Defender. I have to stop every time and decide weather it’s time to get stuck in or if a shot from the Heavy Barrel is more useful at that moment.

By playing it more in the middle area, I found it within range of almost every enemy model by the second turn. More targets is a dangerous trap when you forget that you initially decided it would back up the Iron Clad of other ‘hitter’ that activation. I also frequently to the advantage of my opponent forget the Cortex Damage the hammer causes.

My recent games have really been a benefit and I’m finding first/second round shots with the following round getting mixed up in the melee. When the Defender has survived the brutality I’m rewarded with a late game charge/melee, or a shot to exploit.

Recently I played a game where I moved up, shot and did some solid damage to a heavy ‘jack before my Iron Clad engaged it the following turn. On turn two, I hit up a light ‘jack wrecking it and freeing me up to join the Iron Clad with its second target on turn three. When it was turn four the Defender was freed up to pick off a solo getting to close to my ‘caster, taking a shot at my opponents ‘caster or following the Iron Clad into another melee hoping to prolong the battle into a late game fifth turn. I lost the game due to a ‘caster kill, I didn’t see the play coming and I picked the wrong choice of target for the Defender but I kept the pressure on my opponent. They commented that the Defender was a big jerk and was surprised by the amount of trouble it caused seeing it farther forward.

Now I’m still working to break out of playing the Defender safe, and sometimes I make the wrong choice between another shot or jumping into the fray but at least I’m trying. Ignoring page 5 and ‘playing like I got a pair’, I’ve scene too many times Defenders being played in the back when it has got one of the best anti ‘jack weapons in the game or it could simply be better used when you remember its moderate melee weapon.