1. #1
    Never Knows Best's Avatar
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    Clinic: Building Competitive Shadow Caste

    Hi all. The Shadow Caste were just released and, of course the big question that comes to mind right away: Are they any good for tournaments? Well, the short answer is definitely 'yes' but since I'm going through and tweaking the sort of list I would take for them in a tournament, I figured it would make for a good discussion going into what to focus on with them and why.


    Building for the 2016 Tournament System

    The General Things to Look for
    While the tournament system tends to change year to year, us players can only do best with what we know. There are 6 unique scenarios and 30 Secondary objectives to prepare for and, while these tend to range wildly in what you need to do to score points, there are a few major themes I've noticed.

    Area control/Area denial: A LOT of what happens in the new scenarios, focuses on either being in the middle or controlling that area. For this models either need to have good survivability, have enough threat to 'push' opponents away, or otherwise cover an important area with range or tricks.

    Mobility: This is a huge new factor that was always important with Secondary objectives like "Patrol" or "Dead Drop" and has become increasingly important with Scenarios like "Seize Ground," "Reactivate the Tower" and "The Captive."

    I will make a personal note here that alternative deployment doesn't seem as important for objectives as it did in 2014/15; the focus isn't necessarily where you start but how well you move throughout the game.

    Ability to Remove models: Killing. Being able to trade effectively with your opponent. Half of the secondary deck deals with killing enemy models, Champion and Slaughtering Fields are all about how well you kill your opponent, and reducing the number of models he or she has limits their capacity of war. Killing Dark Age models, preventing your models from being killed will always be a necessary focus of tournament building.



    Strengths and Weaknesses of the Dragyri

    Main Weakness: Survivability
    This is a dead horse of mine that I like to beat: healing. Healing is important in Dark Age. It is possible to win without it; Dark Age Elites like Dave Moffit and Bobby Limoggio have won major tournaments without it and Jamie Wolfe's Immortal winning Outcast didn't include a Fixer (what?!). Still, every player should consider healing and how it changes no only the game, but also trading efficiency and the timing of point scoring.

    Here's the thing. The Dragyri don't have any (not really). The Shadow Caste has a few works arounds, most importantly Blind which should be a MAJOR focus. Toxic is another decent add. Otherwise, they will ultimately need to out field HP wise and outplay. They have some options there as well.


    Main Strength: Mobility
    6 Shadow Caste models have 4 AP, and additional 2 have a movement of 2" for a total of 8 models that can move 12" per activation. 3 models have Strider, 3 with vault, 1 with Ghostform, 1 with Shadewalk and with Shadewalk and Ghostform as Psychogenics along with opponent-slowing options like Ensnaring Webs and Call to Darkness the Shadow Caste can move! They can equally rival high movement factions like Core and Air Caste, if not surpass them by slowing them down in turn.



    Choosing for Point Size and Model Focus

    Tournament Size
    One thing to note with Dragyri and Shadow Caste specifically is in how much of an upswing of power there is as you climb in points. A lot of factions are more middle-heavy, if you will, with a lot of attractive and powerful options from 50-100 points. With Shadow caste, the power increase seems exponential, making it hard not to either try min-maxing or else including a wide range.

    500
    Here I feel the Dragyri might really struggle, unless... One of the big changes to the overall strategy 'meta' has always been whether or not to field that "one big model" or otherwise decline and increase the body count. For 500 points at least, I feel Shadow Caste has a no-brainer option and that is in taking something big.

    Dark Yovanka... sorry, I mean Amabilia and Huntress clearly belong in this category of models that can dominate enough to warrant their cost, with few reliable counters the opponent can field using an equal amount of points. The remaining fill ins then need to come from a health reliance on 25 and 50 point models with maybe 1 or 2 75s.

    750
    The big boy, my personal favorite point level. Here, I feel Shadow Caste have a few options. Same as the 500 point list, you could just add 250. Easy enough. Now you can splurge a little more on 75 and 100 point models you wouldn't otherwise field at 500, like Gatherer, Raaf, Shadowfinder Bot or Vespa. More importantly, you can mix in a couple big 150+ point models together.


    Model Selection
    Here, then is a real quick breakdown of models that seem to fit with a Have/Have-not type rating. Models that excel in the above mentioned and those that seem a bit lackluster.

    The "Haves"
    Huntress/Goliath: Both have above-average health for their point cost as well as additional survivability features.
    Any model that has "Spike Shower": Seriously, this is the single best ability they have, AOE blind. Get it!
    Havik/Spirit Lord: If you have a lot of enemy models with Blind, models with Retaliation receive a premium.
    Strega: He seems a high pick for some reason. Not only can Blind combine with Smoke, but SC may struggle against high-ranged lists as they don't have many options here. Smoke will provide useful cover.

    Honorable Mention:
    Ambilia: At 200 points, she will absolutely wreck stuff. The only reason she doesn't get a bump is that I feel you can pay the discount with some of the lower options and not lose a who lot. The rest of her faction is expensive, point wise, so know that if you take her you do so at a premium.


    The "Have Nots"
    Lesser Spiderling: Super-cool model and a must-buy, but unless you are going Toxic-heavy those Menials will out-perform.
    Naedrae: There are a lot of 75 point models and this is the lesser one. Blink is nice, but otherwise
    The 'Other' 100 models: The problem here is I really like Strega; I don't feel like you have the luxury of loading up 100s. Otherwise Keeper is the other one to keep an eye on.
    Panic or Toxic Lists: You have to focus on something and my pick is Blind/Retaliation. There are certainly fun combos to be had with Horrific Visage/Nightmare Aura or Venomous Gift/Toxic Lists and I look forward to seeing people try those out.



    Putting It All Together

    The Will of the Grand Arbiter
    I will make this easy, your 150 points are coming from Fire, specifically the Spirit Lord. Great Psycogenics to choose from and overall powerful but the main reason is that a Stream Fire weapon solves a LOT of problems. If I could take them, my sideboard would include Slyths and an Artificer too, but alas the Grand Arbiter's will is absolute.

    Sideboarding
    There are 3 main things I will think of when sideboarding.
    1. A higher/lower body count, swapping a big model for little models/
    2. Models specifically designed for a scenario, like a 'Champion' model or someone who can race the Reactivation quickest.
    3. Models that counter a specific threat an opponent might field.

    It is range, and specifically early template range that worries me with Shadow Caste. You don't need to be able to "see" to hit with a blast template. So my sideboard is likely to include models like Vespa or Hood that can deploy out and deal with a threat.

    The List: 750
    1 Huntress
    1 Spirit Lord of Fire
    1 Spirit Lord of Shadow
    1 Strega
    1 Havik
    1 Greater Spiderling
    2 Shadow Menial

    Sideboard:
    1 Vespa
    2 Shadow Menial

    Like the list? Don't like the list? Comments, questions? Post your own below.
    Last edited by Never Knows Best; 10-16-2016 at 07:10 AM.

  2. #2

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    Great take on army building!!

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