Kovnik Andrei Malakov – Khador Character Solo


Malakov is one of the journeyman warcasters released as part of the WARMACHINE: Tactics videogame kickstarter.
Malakov is a young rising star in the ranks of the Khadoran military.

Statistics

Malakov has a very average statline, with a very low RAT. He slightly favors DEF over ARM, but neither is high enough to be a problem.

Weapons and Attacks

  • Hand Cannon - Your typical bog-standard ranged weapon.
  • Mechanikal Blade

Special Abilities

  • Fearless
  • Journeyman Warcaster
  • Sucker! - When Malakov is hit by a ranged attack, he can pawn off the damage on a nearby warrior model (with some other restrictions on your choice of nearby model). This is not optional, so watch that you don't put other important support models nearby.

Spells

  • Razor Wind - A powerful mid-range spell that is commonly used against Incorporeal models.
  • Redline - An upkeep spell that grants target battlegroup warjack a SPD and STR buff. It also allows the 'jack to charge, run, or perform slams or tramples without spending focus. At the end of its activation, the warjack takes d3 points of damage. When paired with a mechanic, this spell can provide excellent efficiency.

Thoughts on Kovnik Malakov

Malakov provides some much needed focus efficiency for Khador. Whether he will make our current Jack Marshals (namely the Man-O-War Kovnik and the Koldun Lord) obsolete remains to be seen.

It's nearly always a good idea to take at least a minimum unit of Battle Mechaniks with Malakov, as you're nearly always running enough Jacks to warrant it. Furthermore, the small amounts of damage from Redline can add up over time, and the last thing you want is an unlucky roll crippling your jack.

Synergies

With the ability to give full focus to any jack, and an excellent upkeep, the potential for Malakov is set only by one's imagination. Redline does provide a slight incentive to take a melee orientated jack, however.

Berserker
With full focus, and Redline active, expect the Berserker to wreck nearly anything your throw it at... then explode. The increased Strength from Redline takes the P+S to very high levels, which can be very formidable, without even allocating focus to it. It's definitely worthwhile to consider this, if you like your 'zerkers to stick around. If you are fighting something you really want knocked down, full focus will boost every attack roll you need to make, which makes its Chain Attack go off very easily. Furthermore, this particular combination is incredibly focus efficient, costing less than most other Khador 'jacks.

Grolar
With just about any type of attack you could want, the Grolar will make excellent use of any focus you give to it. Having it's own personal caster can make this even better. Combine Redline and Fleet for a free 11" charge, and then unload three initial attacks on it. With two focus leftover, feel free to spend it on boosting, buying power attacks, or unloading 4 shots from the Autocannon onto a knocked down target.

Juggernaut
An awesome 'jack becomes awesomer. The Juggernaut is maybe one of our most versatile jacks, and attaching it to Malakov makes a (relatively) cheap pair that can fulfill just about any battlefield role. They can function as anything from a Fire-and-Forget missile that you can send after Colossals, to charge lane clearers, to assassination models, to a tarpit if you really wanted. Upkeeping Redline makes the Ice Axe purely monstrous whilst also adding a good deal of mobility to our SPD 4 jack.

Juggernaut+Destroyer combo
One of the greatest risks of taking Andrei is that if he gets neutered his jacks go inert, which can mean a lot of points going to waste. For this reason, the Juggernaut can function like a fireship, with Redline up. Load it up on the big turn, move Andrei to the back field, then send the Juggernaut barreling into the enemy. He'll probably end up scrapped in retailiation, so you don't need to worry about being able to allocate to it next turn. If it survives, he can wreck face without additional focus, Redline already paying for his charge/slam/trample/run needs.
In the meantime, Andrei can safely get behind the Destroyer, who will very much appreciate the 3 focus he can get on the following turns. Since the battle is already joined at this point, the Destroyer's formidable range will allow it to forfeit movement to aim, reliably hitting up to DEF17 while boosting, and Andrei can move as far as 8" behind him, keeping him out of trouble.

Meditations on Sucker!
Keeping Andrei safe while close to the front involves the generous use of his ability Sucker! For this to work, he needs valid targets. Keep in mind that the little brat will always pawn off shots to nearby warrior models, even if that means killing your caster. Sucker is NOT optional.
There are a couple ways this can be approached:
For cheap fodder you can use battle mechanics hanging around to fix up the damage wrought on his jack by Redline, but they are also vulnerable to AOEs, so a crafty opponent will get rid of them first.
Alongside Butcher3, he can sucker off shots to the War Arguses, triggering a Vengeance move for next turn.
Vlad2 may also benefit from catching the bullet for Andrei, if he wants to get a couple Blood Tokens, and Blood Trials bonuses from soaking up low-POW shots. But only do this if you're confident that Vlad won't end up dead as a result.
With the help of the Iron Fang Kovnik, the Man-O-War Shocktroopers can finally keep up with him, even while in shield wall. The generally low-medium POW shots that would fly towards Andrei won't bother them while in shield wall. Excellent Sucker! targets. Alternatively, Iron Fang pikemen can also stand around to catch bullets for him, but expect losses. Boomhowler & Co grunts while under Howl of Defiance are also great.

Sucker! is great and all, but the best defence is if he doesn't get hit at all. Being far away and being screened are the way to go. Steady and tough Iron Fangs while in Irusk2's CMD will greatly help with the screening issues. Hiding behind a Gun Carriage is also way safer, but don't forget that Ashes to Ashes, Erruption of Spines, and electroleaps are still a danger to Andrei, even if he is screened, and especially if he's surrounded by models who otherwise would catch a bullet for him.