Monday, September 5, 2011

Spotlight: Pistol Wraiths


The Pistol Wraiths initially escaped my attention. I quickly wrote them of as overpriced, and when comparing one to a Warwitch Siren, it IS a tad expensive. I brought one a couple of times, and it always ended poorly, so I stuck them on the shelf and ignored them.

Pew pew!

Then six months later I got into an argument with a fellow at the club, and I took another look at them. I tried them out a couple of times in pairs, with the advice I had received, and boy was I wrong in (most of) my initial assumptions.
  • Body Count: means, that we are dealing with an incredibly accurate gunman. If we assume it has the ability to aim, and a nice weak target within 10", it can use the first shot to grab a soul, and the second shot to nail a defense 19 solo on average dice. That's something most armies can't manage, and loosing a key solo, behind cover, can be devastating for an opponent.
  • Death Chill: cannot be shaken, so you can remove an action from almost any heavy in the game, simply by hitting it twice. Remember that the Pistol Wraiths have magical guns, so Menoth jacks will be taken by surprise (point and laugh at the gimped Avatar). Since Death Chill won't stack with itself, you can bring Gorman to render almost anything completely useless for a round. Death Chill can also apply to casters, and even eButcher isn't doing much if he's chilled (point and laugh at the camping immortal melee caster, when he's limping around and doing nothing the following round).
  • Gunfighter: means the ability to hide in melee and inflict free strikes. I know it sounds strange, but occasionally it's worth remembering, and I've hidden inside a unit of Nyss Hunters with great success. Even corporeal this can be an advantage, as many ranged units can combine on them with ease, but will fail the odd attack against defense fourteen in melee.
  • Incorporeal: is the big one, allowing you to set up some amazing shots, and ignore a solid part of your opponents army until you strike. Incorporeal also means that he becomes vulnerable when shooting, so try your best to get into position behind cover. A defense 18 solo takes effort to nail, and with a bit of luck an opponent will either fail, or spend so many resources on it, that he might as well pack up and leave. Be careful around units with combined range attacks, as they will ruin your day.
If you're unfamiliar with shifting your troops, go watch this video first. It's essential to understand the concept if you run Pistol Wraiths, so watch it from around 5 minutes in.

The first thing we need to know about Pistol Wraiths, is that they only come in pairs. Bringing one Pistol Wraith removes most of their survival potential, and severely limits their offensive potential as well. Pistol Wraiths are fast, able to cross any obstacle or obstruction, and that makes them excellent shifters as described in Gearjocks video, but they need to be two in order to reliably survive.
  • The main problem with Pistol Wraiths, is getting them to survive the round they fire, so here's what we can do. We can run them in pairs, as four shots will reliably take down three single wound medium infantry. This is important, because if you kill those three models from odd angles, the rest of the unit will usually be outside charge range. 
  • If you're hitting ranged units, you need to be behind cover, and if it's a unit with combined range attack you need to redeploy, or get creative very quickly. In a tight spot, go hide in melee, because even if you die, you still made a unit somewhat stationary for a round.
  • You can load up the Wraiths with a few kills/souls, and then engage any threat to them with another unit. Pistol Wraiths are dangerous, but Pistol Wraiths with two souls, are avatars of death, come to claim your opponent, and sometimes it's worth loosing an entire unit to power them up.
  • Finally you can choose their deaths, and kamikaze something so vitally important to your opponent, that loosing six points worth of ranged assassins is acceptable.
Deploy both Wraiths near each other, shift to the flank, and begin picking of melee units, solos, slowing down jacks/beasts, or being a general pain in the butt wherever you can, but make sure you don't loose them. Abuse terrain, get that cover or concealment, and make sure you run away, if he shifts resources to handle them.

It's hard to reliably harass in Warmachine, as most games are simply to short to actually make it happen. Usually a pair of Pistol Wraiths will get one round of shooting, and then either die or participate in a grand assassination attempt with their stolen souls, but in one of my games they had three full rounds of shooting, so prepare for the possibility if you can.

Casters are very important to Pistol Wraiths, because while they can work well without any support at all, they can be rockstars with just a little bone thrown their way. The king is (as always) defense or armor debuffs, because a little boost goes a very long way with Pistol Wraiths. Warwitch Deneghra and Epic Skarre are the prime candidates, but a LOT of casters can do at least one type of debuff.
  • pDenny: has both Crippling Grasp and Withering, turning the Pistol Wraiths into caster killing avatars, doing two RAT 11, POW 16, and potentially boosted, shots each. She can also do ye old pop and drop stunt. Feat + Scourge + Parasite + Boosted damage, means that almost any caster is going down hard (with two souls, the Pistol Wraiths will hit on 3+, and inflict 27 damage with each shot).
  • eSkarre: has Black Spot, which allows two Pistol Wraiths to annihilate minimum sized units in one round of shooting, and should they survive they'll have a full stash of souls, and destroy anything but heavies the following round.
  • eDenny: (added by ResurrectioN ) Marked for Death will be excellent for them, and you get to kill something on the turn you feat (I always feat on my turn 2, and my melee can't get there so fast to engage or attack). Benefits of her feat are obvious and will enable shooting over 2 turns.
    (Unless you're facing ranged threats, Lamoron)
Any caster with access to defense or armor debuffs, will find the Pistol Wraiths a worthy investment, as long as you keep in mind that they need to be cuddled, cared for, pulled out of dangerous situations, and applied surgically to the exact right spot. If you can manage that, the team will not only impress you, but cause actual physical terror in opponents.


  1. I suggest trying them with eDenny.
    Marked for Death will be excellent for them and you get to kill something on turn you feat (I always feat on my turn 2 and my melee can't get there so fast to engage or attack)

    Benefits of her feat are obvious and will enable shooting over 2 turns.


  2. I actually don't own eDenny. I know she's the bomb, but I find her to be to much of a one round wonder. Usually that one round is all she needs, but when it fails you're up the creek.

    I faced an eDenny list in the Masters, and while it did horrible things to my army, to be stuck for a round, and more or less automatically hit, it did nothing to Terminus, and he did plenty to eDenny in return.

    I like pDenny a lot, and Pistol Wraiths do get to kill things during feat round, and quite often that thing is a caster :D

  3. I added your suggestion. I shouldn't discount good advice, just because I don't like the caster in question :)

  4. eDenny should not have problems when facing Terminus. No idea what or how your opponent played, though.

    (Ranged armies are bad for eDenny. That goes without saying.)


  5. Grind scenario... worst scenario in the game.

  6. That was me xD xD Totally fucked up with deployment and some other stuff, making me use up all of my time and forget important stuff (like activating my caster in my last turn :D). The game was very nice and relaxed, and quite funny also :)