Theme Forces Revisited – Hammerstrike

Hi. Have we talked about how much I like the dwarves of the Iron Kingdoms before?

When we were splitting up the Factions for Oblivion theme force spoilers, no one was surprised that I’d be doing Hammer Strike. I’ve been filling this space with my love of all things Rhulic for more than eight years now, so I was thrilled to be a part of the discussions about how to adjust the theme force and then tell you all what was coming up for this very specific flavor of Mercenaries.

First things first, as anyone familiar with the current version of this theme can see, the bonuses it gives were not adjusted. That might sound like a lack of news, but it isn’t quite. One of the things we identified as a problem in design space for new models was the availability of extra deployment range in many themes. Well, one of the things you rarely have to face when confronting a Rhulic force is that force getting across the table faster than you were expecting. So, when we removed deployment extension as a common bonus, we decided to leave it here.

We also took a look at the balance of the various Rhulic options, especially their points, and discussed what we could tweak. Hammer Strike has not had a CID, but the CID process has helped to refine our use of points across the entire game. With that added perspective on game balance, we slightly adjusted a number of things available to this theme.

Let’s take a look at the list and what it can do…

Mercenaries Army – 75/75 points
[Theme] Hammerstrike

Durgen Madhammer [+29]
– Ghordson Avalancher [15]
– Ghordson Avalancher [15]
– Ghordson Driller [10]
– Grundback Blaster [6]
– Grundback Gunner [6]
Hammerfall Siege Crawler [18]
Herne & Jonne [5]
Ogrun Assault Corps (max) [13]
Ogrun Assault Corps (max) [13]
Horgenhold Artillery Corps [FREE]
Horgenhold Artillery Corps [FREE]
Steelhead Gunner [3]
Harlowe Holdemhigh [FREE]

First off, building this list in the current version of War Room goes to 85 points, with only two free Horgenhold Artillery Corps units and no Harlow Holdemhigh at all. The Oblivion update includes reductions to the points of the Ogrun Assault Corps and the Ghordson Avalancher, which lets me squeeze in a few more things than are currently possible. The best thing about the new themes is how easy free models are to add because the new Requisition system only cares about how big the game is instead of which other specific models are in the army.

This list is something I’ve been playing a variation of ever since I picked up Madhammer. His feat makes AOE weapons shine, so I always try and pack a lot of them into the list. That means I usually start with two Avalanchers and at least one unit of Ogrun Assault Corps.

I’ve always liked these models, but they’ve felt a little too expensive compared to other options, so we addressed that issue. One of the biggest factors in our discussion about the ogrun was what other Factions were paying for their ogrun units. It isn’t a perfect comparison to look at units from different Factions due to synergies and other factors that aren’t comparable, but when the Black Ogrun Boarding Party in Cryx is a mere 7/11, the Assault Corps at 10/16 felt way too expensive. The Oblivion update drops them to 8/13, making them a great choice for what they offer this theme.

For the Avalancher, we considered its offensive output compared to the other Rhulic heavies, and 17 points was a bit too much to pay in comparison, so we dropped it slightly, keeping it the most expensive heavy because of its survivability and threat range.

My next choice when building a Madhammer list is usually how may Horgenhold Artillery Corps to add. With them on the Requisition list, I just added two, confident that I could fit things into the army without considering their points.

Next, I looked at the battle engine. The Hammerfall Siege Crawler brings more AOEs and a lot of survivability, for itself and small-based grunts in the army. The only question I had was, “Do I put in one or two?” I decided on just one to make room for some other stuff and because the army doesn’t include a lot of small-based grunts.

After settling on my core AOE bringers, I looked back to the battlegroup. My first addition was a Ghordson Driller for a bit of melee punch in the later game, but I considered including a Ghordson Earthbreaker since it’s seeing a point drop to 35 and getting a tiny speed buff. Going with the Driller, though, left me the room for a Grundback Blaster and a Grundback Gunner. The Earthbreaker is a big threat that would add a lot to the army, but I love the light Rhulic warjacks and think every Rhulic ’caster should have a couple.

At this point, I was getting close to 75 points and still had another free choice. Herne & Jonne are amongst my favorite things in all of WARMACHINE, and they also bring more AOEs to the list, so they were obvious. All I had to do now was look at what would fit into the last few points and what was free.

With two Artillery Corps in the army, it made perfect sense to use my last three points on a Steelhead Gunner. This model was a much-needed addition to the Hammer Strike theme that snuck in with the Steelhead CID and does great things for the Rhulic cannons.

So, that just left me with the decision of what to do with the last free choice, and there are a lot of options. An Ogrun Bokur is a great option for almost any army, especially to protect an important model like Herne. Thor Steinhammer adds a mechanic to the army and a spray when needed. The Tactical Arcanist Corps are a great addition for magical damage, and I considered them briefly for the Herne & Jonne slot because they are dropping to 5 points in the update. I also just got my hands on Balthazar Bamfist, a Rhulic model in the Riot Quest starter, who offers interesting magical support. However, there is a model coming in the near future that won out over all the other options. Harlow Holdemhigh adds something I never imagined I’d see in a Rhulic army: a gun mage. I’m not going to spoil everything that he can do here, but his Psychomorphic Destabilizer ammo will come in really handy when facing down an incorporeal model like the Wraith Engine, which most of my army has no way to deal with.

And there it is, an AOE gunline of sturdy models that may be slow but dishes out a lot of damage. The Oblivion update is just around the corner, so you’ll all be able to see every adjustment soon, and the book with all of the great fiction and campaign rules is almost here, too. I look forward to seeing what all of you Hammer Strike players will do with your list creation when you get it in your hands.

P.S.: Couldn’t go without one more tiny spoiler. We’re also dropping the points of the Hammerfall High Shields and their command attachment. The unit’s new price is 9/15, and the officer costs 4 points.