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Kommandant Irusk - Khador Warcaster
Irusk is a commander of men. A force built around Irusk can consist of a single warjack backed up by a fearless and hard to kill mass of warriors. Or no warjacks at all; just because he has the spell Superiority puts him under no obligation to use it.
Irusk is average to a bit above average on all characteristics. His abilities are respectable, but not good the way many of the other Khadoran warcaster's are, and he lacks spells or abilities that boost his statistics like most of them have. Irusk can do some decent damage with his sword cannon at range, and it does fairly impressive damage in melee. If Irusk does have to fight up close and personal he is good at it. His only weaknesses are his DEF and ARM, which while high, will not let you wade through a hail of enemy attacks the way the three Khador warcasters in Prime can.
Irusk's Feat - Undying Loyalty
This feat only works on warriors, but
and most of the Khadoran warcasters are warriors! For a single turn your warriors will not be destroyed half the time that they lose their last damage point, and are fearless. In addition, the bonus to hit is just enough to make average warriors elite and elite warriors superhuman. As always, don't look to the feat to patch over the weakness of models like RAT:4 Winterguard, but to enhance powerful models like the MAT:6 Iron Fangs.
It's not obvious, but the feat does not dictate any limitations on the +2 bonus to hit, so Irusk and most of the other warcasters (Karchev is a notable exception) and models like the Greylord Ternions will get the bonus to hit with their spells as well. This is one of several reasons that Irusk makes an exceptional second warcaster, but doesn't work real well with mercenaries.
This feat got a boost in Prime:Remix. It affects models/units in Irusk's control area, so that if even one member of a unit is in his control area the whole unit gets affected by the feat.
Weapon - Onslaught
If you're going to get Irusk into melee be sure he gets the charge. If he does he'll get a ranged attack on the charge, and then an additional ranged attack with the melee attack with Onslaught's Slaughter ability. Because it's a special attack the slaughter ability can only be used once per turn, but anything getting hit by two boostable POW 13 attacks and one or more POW 12 attacks will take a decent amount of damage.
The sword cannon has a POW 13 and a ROF 2, so you'll be almost as well off keeping Irusk out of melee and shooting. Especially if you take the mercenary gobber Reinholdt, who can let Irusk fire three times a turn for only one focus point. If you destroy the target of Irusk's charge with the Sword Cannon using the
ability Irusk loses the charge bonus to damage, but can still make his normal attacks.
You still need to roll to hit, and boosting the attack roll and damage roll to hurt warcasters or other tough models won't achieve much and will cost six focus. This spell is for destroying irritating solos like DiWolffe, Eiryss, and Pistol Wraiths. Airburst can also be used to snipe unit leaders or unit attachments like the Monolith Bearer. Again, Reinholdt is handy for Irusk because his
ability is a big help with this spell. Without any boosts this spell has a decent chance of taking down DEF:14 ARM:14 one wound models, and it's even more accurate when he uses his feat.
All that said, this spell costs a lot of focus points, and should not be the first tool to reach for by any stretch of the imagination.
If you're certain that you're going to be sinking all of his focus into melee attacks you can cast this spell on Irusk, and if he doesn't boost his attack rolls he can make five additional 12+3d6 damage attacks following the initial Assault and Slaughter attacks of 13+2d6 each. If you're going to be making less than four additional attacks there is no payoff.
Cast on any unit, even if the unit doesn't manage to charge, this spell will allow them to do a solid sum of damage. On the charge paired up Iron Fangs will be doing 15+4d6 damage. Again, as I said in the feat don't patch over weaknesses, enhance strengths. Make the melee elites even more elite, don't attempt to turn Khadoran Mechaniks into melee powerhouses. Its expecially effective on any warriors with multiple attacks. Taking two swings with the Demo Corp is expecially effective with Battle Lust on them. Of some note is that this spell lasts the round, so it will work for a Drakhun's countercharge attacks.
You'll want destroy unit leaders and commanders to make this spell certain of working. Taking Widowmakers or sniping with Airburst are easy ways to take down those unit leaders. This is a spell to use over and over with Inhospitable Ground to pin the enemy down so you can get your shooting in.
This spell works fine on fearless units, much to the dismay of those CMD:6/7 Cryx units. An interesting bit is that the -2 CMD still applies even if there is a commander nearby, so a unit with a CMD:9 warcaster nearby will have to roll a seven or less on two dice to not lose their activation.
Irusk can only cast Grind twice a turn, but if you hit the right columns this spell can knock out a warjack's movement system in only a couple of attacks. Any warjack that doesn't have movement is out of the game unless it has a powerful ranged weapon and a high ARM. Because of its wording it can only be used on 'jacks. This really limits the usefulness of this spell but under the right circumstances can be very good.
On many turns you'll be casting this spell and one other, or upkeeping Iron Flesh and Superiority. Many models can now ignore difficult terrain, so be aware of what they are. Inhospitable Ground is virtually useless against many Hordes Circle armies. This spell will prevent Charges and Slams from any units or warjacks that cannot move across difficult ground. A useful ability! If you fight against an army with a lot of pathfinders and all terrain units you're going to find yourself in some serious difficulty, and will have to hope that casting Confusion instead will hold back the enemy advance.
Note that a unit that has Iron Flesh cast on it has its movement reduced, and therefore cannot charge, or slam if it's one of those few warrior models that can slam. It may be worth just casting this spell on Irusk himself so he'll be DEF:18. As you're about to charge with him you can just drop the spell by not paying the upkeep. With slower units like Man-O-Wars you can just cast and recast this spell on the unit each turn after the unit activates. This spell is GREAT on widowmakers making them DEF:23 with cover. Its also very nice on Greylords, they have a high enough defence then to really be effective with their spray attacks.
Apart from the Dark Prince's Signs and Portents this is one of the best spells available for enhancing warjacks. It doesn't matter WHAT warjack you cast it on, they all get an immense benefit from it. If this spell is cast on a Kodiak any time it vents steam it will be DEF 14 against most ranged attacks and spells. For a Khadoran warjack that's exceptional.
What's doubly entertaining is that you can have another of your warjacks throw the warjack that has superiority cast on it. It will land on it's feet and then be able to activate! In theory you could have a warjack throw another one up to nine inches away. The thrown warjack would land on it's feet thanks to superiority and be able to charge or slam another nine inches.
Over time, my opinion has become that Irusk needs warriors and lots of them. One warjack at 750 points MAYBE, and that's it for Irusk's warjack needs. The addition of Uhlans and Man-O-War Demolition Corps provides all the heaving hitting a Khador force needs.
Thoughts on Irusk
Warriors! It's all about having a large number of Khadoran warriors, and not just that but melee warriors. I'm also starting to favor the idea of using the merc Alexia Ciannor. Irusk doesn't get on well with merc units, but the utility solos like Alexia, Eiryss, and DiWulfe are still useful. An Irusk army should, in my ever so humble opinion, start with Irusk, Reinholdt, and a full unit of Iron Fang Pikemen with the UA. I don't think a Khadoran army is complete without Widowmakers, but you could just as easily ignore them. You might also give the character Grigorovich and Winterguard some serious consideration in an Iron Rain theme army.
Irusk doesn't need a warjack, but if you do use one the Kodiak is probably one of the best. It can charge nine inches and vent steam to provide cloud cover for other models behind it. The Kodiak itself will be DEF:14 against ranged attacks and magic, and cannot be knocked down. The Spriggan's Charge-Trample with Superiority is fairly impressive.
With the addition of
in Legends, another option presents itself: the charges-for-free-over-any-terrain, starts-its-onslaught-of-attacks-with-MAT-7 can of assassination. This is a contender for a very early assassination run, but like many Drago tactics will need time to see if it can be borne out.
Irusk's most prominent weakness is offensive spellcasting. Grind only works against warjacks, which leaves him with Airburst as his only offensive spell. As mentioned previously, this spell often costs six focus when you take into account boosted attack and damage rolls. In late game situations when most of his troops are dead, Irusk is a neutered - though still difficult to kill - warcaster.
In two warcaster games you want to give the merc warcasters and Karchev a pass. Karchev is not a warrior, and the merc casters are not Khadorans, so none of them benefit from Irusk's feat. Imagine having a turn in which lethal blows against all your warcasters fail half the time, and they get a +2 to hit on everything. For a 1000 point game I can't think of a more deadly combo than the Epic Vladimir, because both casters boost melee warriors so effectively. Iron Fangs benefiting from both of their feats plus the spell Battle Lust will make two attacks each at 11+3d6 to hit and 16+4d6 to damage.
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