Welcome to the the first of a series of Warmachine Units & Tactica articles, today's subject; the Khador Spriggan.
Based on the Devastator chassis, the Spriggan is a unusual Heavy warjack sporting a unique array of weapons. With most Khador warjacks we expect the huge amount of hit boxes, heavy armour, brutal weapons, expensive and a very low speed across the board. The Spriggan however shoe boxes into the following: slow and expensive.
On a raw level, the most obvious characteristic change is armour. It has 19 rather than the expected 20 however to 'counter' this, it is equipped with a shield which boasts +2 armour (21) and a additional melee attack which is enough to annoy most light to medium infantry and possibly the odd light warjack. While the shield also gives an armour boost, it must be noted that arm locking or destruction of the left arm will remove the shield bonus, which in the case of melee makes a big difference in the Spriggans survivability.
Grenade Launchers x2
The Spriggan has a very interesting set of weapons. It sports two grenade launchers, which allow for two shots a turn that ignore los (line of sight) due to arching fire. However the low power of the attack will make this a very situational attack which may not always provide the desired result and is not to be relied on as a effective source of ranged offense. HOWEVER the grenade launchers have a secondary fire option which more than makes up for the unreliability of the damage, in the form of flares. Each launcher can fire a flare which removes defensive bonus's and stealth, and this is where the utility of the Spriggan maximises, as the synergy of this stacks very nicely with firing for effect with blast weapons.
For melee the Spriggan is blessed with the only non-character warjack weapon with reach, in the form of a lance. The lance is a very accurate weapon given bonus's to hit on the charge so it can be relied on to hit most targets. From a damage point of view it is enough to cause reliable damage to non-Khador Heavy warjacks or even the lone exposed warcaster on a boosted roll. But when combined with the weaknesses of losing it's shield capabilities do not expect the Spriggan to out damage a dedicated assault Warjack. As a rule of thumb, try as best as possible to always stay in reach range, not just for the sake of hitting and not being hit, but also to avoid any possibility of your shield being locked and denying you the extra armour.
The Spriggan also has the rule "Bulldoze" which essentially allows the warjack to move into a unit and push it backwards up to 2 inches. This provide fantastic utility for creating charge lanes and blocking los, with this element in-mind it becomes clear that the Spriggan differs massively from the standard Khador warjack philosophy.
Tactics & uses
*Area denial & ground control
The Spriggan is the perfect deterrent for advance parties, and will form the perfect anchor for any Khador wedge. Deploy on one side of the board and use the Spriggan on the exposed edge to flare out advance parties/stealth ed, units so that your artillery can pick those units off early on, this tactic will also work with the Spriggan when set up centre, given the 10" launch radius of the flares. Given the reach of the melee weapon, the Spriggan will have the advantage in most situations to charge rather than be charged, but remember to stay out of your opponents melee range, a given but you will be surprised how many gamers forget about this distinct advantage in the heat of battle.
*Charge Lane provider & Block Los
Using the bulldoze ability, you can move enemies out of position, which is great against combined bonus units and also a perfect way to set up a assassination. I tend to keep Yuri or some Manhunters around due to the smaller base sizes, although remember not to fire your flares to close! By pushing your enemy forward, you are guaranteeing your enemy combat in his next round, so be selective about who you decide to target. As much as possible I try to avoid assault specialist warjacks or anything of equal base size with open fists. For me this tactic has worked great with eButchers feat; allowing me to bulldoze a unit, flare out my the enemy caster and then go for the kill. Bulldoze can also be used to block charge lanes acting as a very heavily armoured guard. Worth considering and with the extra shield armour, you can guarantee that the Spriggan will shrug off most of the enemy counter attack, allowing you to formalise your own counter attack!
*Jack of all trades
This really does sum up the Spriggan, it was designed to control the area, not necessarily through force but through sheer utility. It can hit hard and accurately, but don't expect huge damage out put when compared to say a 7 point Juggernaut. The Spriggan can be used to lead a charge, fill in gaps in the attack or control an area, a true "Jack of all trades".
The strength and potential of the Spriggan is really coming to the fore with Warmachine MKII, with so many special rules being applied to armies through unit attachment and Tier bonuses. The ability to remove stealth, concealment, cloud effects or to create charge lanes/block los is worth it's weight in gold, which is why I never leave home without at least one Spriggan in the list. There are some basic warcaster synergies such as giving it the 'Thresher' ability with eButcher, but throwing this warjack straight into combat with infantry, in my opinion is not making the most of the Spriggan and let us be honest, at 10 points players really need to maximise it's uses on the field to justify cost. But still the uses of the Spriggan are abundant and it is really down to the player to get the most out of this warjack, as stated I always take one in my list and even if it does not box anything in the game, I know (as long as I have used it well) that it's presence alone has changed the flow of the game. It truly is a unique warjack and when used in a non linear way will dictate the game into your favour.
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Thanks for reading,