Warmachine – Champions Season 9 Overview
by Micah Walker · Published · Updated
Tonight I’d like to do a quick flyby of the Champions roster for Season 9 for Warmachine and Hordes. I’m going to try to keep it brief because it concerns all 14 factions. My goal is to provide a brief description of what to expect from each faction’s roster.
I am doing this in conjunction with running a Champions event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the next few months. The Champions format is a format that I believe more organizers should start using. The Warmachine is definitely in need of more limited and/or transitional formats to help keep the game accessible, especially to brand new or returning MK2 players.
Here is a brief overview of the format for the uninitiated. Champions has just a few additional requirements beyond those of the standard (Masters) format.
- Each warcaster or warlock must be selected from the “Active Duty” roster for that Season (including MK3 battlebox warcasters/warlocks).
- Each list must be from one of the two theme also listed on the “Active Duty” roster for that season.
- A second list is optional, but it must use a different warcaster or warlock and theme from your first list.
For more information visit the official Champions page.
I feel bad starting with bad news. Unfortunately, Cygnar’s roster for the season reflects the faction’s awkward position between bland and janky. I would expect to see Maddox or Siege2 with Gravediggers. The other three warcasters should take Heavy Metal and lots of warjacks.
Considering those predictions, Gravediggers is going to push the needle more to the hard hitting melee infantry with these two casters. The theme will still bring a reasonable shooting element. The Heavy Metal lists will either be straight up warjack gunlines or rather unorthodox builds.
Protectorate of Menoth
Protectorate of Menoth has a solid though predictable roster. I would not expect to see Malekus or Severius2 on the table. All three of the remaining warcasters can run either theme reasonably well, though Kreoss2 leans heavily toward Exemplar Interdiction.
Protectorate will be defined by durable weaponmaster infantry this season. They have three warcasters that excel at delivering infantry, and they have their two best infantry themes. Both themes provide a lot of flexibility in terms of list design as well. Expect Protectorate players to be well prepared this season.
Khador fields all their new shinies this season. Both themes are infantry based and received massive updates during 2018. Wolves of Winter is a bit of a wildcard right now as it has not officially been updated yet.
That said, all five available warcasters bring something uniquely different that can make either theme obnoxious. I expect to see a lot of Vlad2 and Old Witch2 lists in either theme. Irusk2 and Sorcha3 favor Armored Corps.
While Khador doesn’t reflect the wide array of infantry options Protectorate fields this season, I would say they double down on the durability and hitting power. Considering there are even more beefy infantry themes to discuss, Champions pairings absolutely require a solution to resilient infantry builds this season. Armored Corp might come in as the tankiest medium infantry build, depending on the caster.
Slaughter Fleet Raiders puts even more medium based infantry into the mix. While not as tanky or varied as some other medium based builds, the theme still benefits from the vast toolbox that Cryx warcasters usually bring. I expect to see Skarre3 at the helm, but with Denegrah1 and Scaverous available, all bets are off.
Black Industries appears near the top of any “most meta defining” theme list. Cryx’ heavy warjack theme absolutely punishes gunline armies. Skarre3 should not be running this theme, but any of the other casters are fair game. Slayers might be out in large numbers, but without Asphyxious3, that is less likely.
Expect fast moving and medium to high armored targets from Cryx this season. Their warcaster diversity rates pretty highly as well, with Skarre3 and Denegrah1 at the top of the list.
Retribution of Scyrah
Retribution brings all of their heavy hitters to the table this season. It is fair to say three, maybe four, of their strongest warcasters are present this time around. Rahn, Vyros2, and Ossyan are certifiably dangerous.
As far as expectations go, Rahn and Helynna will usually be in Forges of War. Because of theme restrictions, Ossyan will only appear in Legions of Dawn. Vyros2 will be in either theme and bring a significant number of light warjacks. Ravyn will also appear in either theme and favor guns.
Retribution deviates a little from the tanky meta and returns to a more balanced, combined arms feel. While still applying sturdy melee options, Retribution’s ranged and spell options provide a substantial amount of their solutions. As such, their pairings will bring a modest amount of variety back by deadly warcasters.
Convergence of Cyrus
If you see Iron Mother in a list pairing this season, she should be running Destruction Initiative. I think it is more likely that you will see Lucant and Orion as a pairing, though.
As is common with limited factions, you can expect to see virtually anything from the Convergence catalogue on the table. For Lucant, expect a tanky list from either theme with an emphasis on melee. Iron Mother loves to take gunlines, usually multiple colossals, and has a “feat or bust” approach to the game. If you survive her feat turn, you usually win. Orion’s tool kit boasts Cryxian levels of flexibility. I would expect to see him with a build to cover the gaps of the Mother or Father list he is paired with.
The new kids in town also get to bring their whole range of options. As such, let’s focus on the casters a little more than themes.
Syvestro prefers infantry because of the “Revive” spell, so I would put him in Magnum Opus. His feat cranks the damage output of his army, and his spell kit has more solutions than the other two casters.
Locke runs jacks like none other. She benefits greatly from the double shield guard bonus from Prima Materia, and her lists tend to be resilient sledgehammers as a result.
Gearhart provides a bit of an anti-gun gunline approach. Equally good with either list, he delivers the ranged attack debuffs the faction is built around effectively.
I should note that both Crucible Guard themes can be very resistant to guns. The heavy infantry has carapace and the Vanguard can shield guard twince in Prima Materia.
Mercenaries no longer have access to the most diverse array of options that they have been known for. Season 9 reigned the faction by removing the catch all “Irregulars” theme. Additionally, the roster accentuates the subfactions of Mercenaries better than any other roster has to date.
Crosse and Ashlynn can only be taken in Llaelese Resistance. I expect to see Ashlynn with Cygnar reinforcements more than anything else, but it is important to remember that you could see infantry from Crucible Guard, Protectorate of Menoth, or Cygnar with this theme.
Madhammer and Grundback are the second string Rhulic casters, but the Rhulic lists are just as annoying as ever. Expect some combination of recurring weaponmasters, battle engines, and lots and lots of gunbunnies.
If I had to pick the most underrated subfaction in the game, I would choose Cephalyx. While Cyphon focuses more on Monstrosities, the infantry spam Operating Theatre allows for can be tilting for the uninitiated. Expect droves of single wound, tough infantry, and some very hard hitting heavies.
Considering most Masters pairings seem to be double Storm of the North, this one is an easy one to call. I would be downright shocked to see a paring without Kolgrima or Borka2 in Storm of the North. The theme brings the traditional Trollkin heartiness along with some very defensive counterplay when either of those two are in charge.
As far as Band of Heroes goes, expect it to look like and off-list. While both themes do tend to be more melee oriented, Storm of the North can put down a lot of sprays. Both themes do well into the medium based infantry meta, but both can also be susceptible to solutions for tanky infantry. As such, I believe warlock selection is going to be the most defining part of the Trollkin pairing this season.
Circle Orboros feels a bit too dialed in this season. Iona takes Devourer Host every time, and Circle players have basically no reason not to bring her. After that, I expect either Kreuger2 or Wurmwood to be brought with Secret Masters. Morvahna could possible be taken in Devourer’s Host, but she feels like a budget version of Iona.
Devourer’s Host is the anti medium based infantry theme. In terms of infantry builds in Champions, I believe this theme is the apex predator. All other factions need to keep Devourer’s Host in mind when making a list pairing, especially factions with double infantry pairs.
Secret Masters takes us back to more old school Circle jank. I don’t think I need to say anything more than that.
Primal Terrors ranks a close second to Devourer’s Host in terms of lists to prepare for. The Blighted Ogrun theme has some of the most interesting internal synergies yet released. While Anamag is unavailable in this season’s roster, Kallus fills the gap reasonably well. Even Kryssa can do some interesting things with this theme. As has been the theme, expect sturdy infantry with a strong melee presence.
Children of the Dragon represents the complete opposite of Primal Terrors. Of themes I have listed so far, this theme only comes in second to Heavy Metal in terms of disappointment. Fortunately, Legion warlocks and their character warbeasts make up the difference better than Cygnar can. I would expect a list built to cover Primal Terror’s weaknesses, and I would expect that list to be warbeast heavy with several character warbeasts.
Skorne’s theme selection feels rather bland but by no means awful this season. Although the choice seems to be between Titan bricks and endless ranks of Immortals, Skorne players should be reasonably pleased with their warlock options (besides Xekaar).
Makeda3 plays a solid game into the medium based meta. She can crack the armor she needs to as well as provide the Grievous Wounds to counter the toughness that Tharn, Doom Reavers, Ogrun, and Trollkin bring to the table. I would definitely expect to see her.
Zaal2 might not be the prefered Exalted caster, but he does a damn good job. Expect to see him with some of the new battle engines as well as Immortals. Hexeris2 does a decent job of filling the off-list of the pairing with Imperial Warhost. Morghoul1 provides an anti-battlegroup build and also prefers Imperial Warhost.
I think everyone can be happy that the Dreamer did not join the roster this season. I expect to see Heretic with Bump in the Night and The Child with Dark Menagerie. The Heretic plays a Menoth-adjacent control game while the The Child runs beast bricks like Skorne does.
If you do happen to see the Wanderer on the table, you are in for a rare treat. He could play in either theme, and his kit favors a defensively skewed list. He should be very interesting with the Clockatrice when that warbeast comes out.
Getting the easy one out of the way first, Blindwater can only take Rask or Barnabas1. Gatorman Posse spam does not fit the playstyle of either caster that much. Rask probably does better in Will Work For Food, but he can run Posse adequately with “Rage” and his feat. Barnabas1 probably brings Croaks and Vaults to take advantage of his knockdown feat.
Arkadius and Rask run Will Work For Food the best even outside of Champions. They are masters of non-linear threats and assassinations. Both require practice to play and to play into. Sturm & Drang is the least likely warlock to appear on the table, but like the Wanderer, they are a unique experience.
Heavy infantry define Season 9 Champions. Anti-healing will be more important than remove from play effects in most situations. Several casters still bring recursion mechanics, notably Thagrosh1, Morvahna1, and Sylvestro. However, most medium or large based infantry builds rely more on decent to superb armor values, health regeneration, and tough. Look into how your faction can bring Grievous Wounds or Entropic Force to the table.
Gunlines ride the line between passable and awful. Casters like Iona, Kreuger2, Old Witch2, and Borka2 create substantial difficulties for non-spray ranged lists. Kolgrimma, Rask, and Vlad2 can shut down the ranged game entirely. On top of that, there are a reasonable amount of cloud walls available to several factions. If you play to bring a gunline, look for your options that have True Sight or Eyeless Sight and prioritize sprays.
Magic Ability users stand out in this meta. Greylords, Blackclads, Cephalyx Overlords, and Northkin Shamans bring those high value magical sprays. Typically, magic sprays are best into single wound infantry spam, and there honestly is not much of that out there besides Cephalyx and Immortals, possibly Rhulic or Grymkin. With all the stealth, range reduction for guns, and Carapace out there, magic sprays represent the most reliable ranged attack in the game at present.
Thank you all for reading! Let’s keep those dice rolling!
Wargamer, miniature painter, and now blogger for Midwest Wargaming. I love crunching numbers, and I can nearly guarantee that my articles will be the most boring, but you will learn something, damn it!
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