Saturday, October 1, 2011

Intervention: Deathjack

Intervene: To come between disputing people. This series of articles will attempt to present a realistic picture, of the model/units we generally accept, as slightly overpowered win buttons.
Fifteen feet of kettle-black, greasy iron and a gut full of soul burning mechanika, the Deathjack is a steamjack sprung from the nightmares of a madman. - Viktor Pendrake
The Deathjack is a mightily powerful tool on the table, and when I first discovered this game I bought one. I put him on the table a couple of times, and then threw him in a pile of models to be used for parts at some later date. I didn't do it because he failed to perform on the table, but because he was in conflict with the concept of Water Theory. While the Deathjack is actually pretty decent at most things required by the Water Theory, he's simply to expensive, and loosing him is a major blow.

Assuming you still want to use him, this is something you will need to understand, in order to get the most out of your investment: The Deathjack is an obvious target, and he presents your opponent with an easy choice.
All warfare is based on deception.
- Sun Tzu
In this case you have a substantial amount of your army, tied up in a package that everyone knows they need to keep an eye on. The Deathjack is a model that will be scrutinized, noticed due to sheer size, and your opponent will be studying it's card before the game. This means that even with the impressive amount of tricks the thing can pull of, a competent opponent will see them coming because he's diverting a substantial amount of attention to what it does and why. This can be used as an advantage, in which you force your opponent to focus on the Deathjack, while another key piece goes unnoticed, but most players end up giving the thing as much attention as the opponent does.
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate.
- Sun Tzu
If your opponent knows where to look, you will loose the element of surprise. The Deathjack is such a powerful model that surprise may not even matter, but Warmachine is a game mistakes. When I spectate matches between great players, it usually comes down to that one crucial mistake: Who makes one first, and does the opponent notice. The Deathjack is anything but subtle, and if you make a mistake with him it will be noticed.
Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.
- Sun Tzu
Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.
- Sun Tzu 
I hope you get the concept by now, because it's the reason I think many people are struggling with getting the most out of the Deathjack. The Deathjack is an obvious threat, and it's so expensive that loosing it is a major blow to you, so while the Deathjack is a fantastic piece, and most likely a point to cheap for the abilities it brings, it makes your opponents job easier, and thats never a good thing.

It's a generally accepted fact, that if something needs to die it usually will, though it might cost your opponent a lot more resources than he would like. Again the price tag comes into play, since he can dedicate a lot of resources to solving the problem, and the Deathjack is often crucial to several dirty tricks as well, making it worth even more resources. This means that an opponent can easily dedicate a third of his army to taking it out, and I'm sad to announce, that it won't stand up to that kind of punishment without help.

The Deathjack also lacks reach, which means that is has some very real problems, with making the impact one would expect from such a machine. If it takes out the opponents caster, then points and resources are obviously of little consequence, but if you end up using it to trash a seven point Juggernaut, and loosing it, then your opponent is up five points and is ahead in resources. This is something you should keep in mind when evaluating the offensive capacity, because unless your opponent fails badly and puts two worthy targets close to each other, it's hard to make the Deathjack worth it in an attrition battle.

Finally there's the question of Rendering. This is often brought up in relation to the survivability of the Deathjack, but the effect this ability has is directly proportional to your opponents army and skill. I've seen people swamp the Deathjack in living infantry, but those opponents aren't the ones you need to worry about. In games between the people that scare me as opponents, the ability has a severely limited impact on the game, and rarely has the ability done anything in relations to the survivability of the Deathjack. What it does is a pseudo version of the Warbeasts ability to heal, since you can trample or gore a soul or two into existence, then repair your arms and go to town on an opponent.

In a final summery, the Deathjacks main problems are:
  • Being no more survivable than a standard Khador Heavy Warjack.
  • Being unable to apply it's massive potential without dying.
  • Being a hopelessly obvious threat on the table.
The Deathjack will continue to rampage through entire armies, and roundhouse kicking casters in the face, but remembering it's fragile nature (when compared to the cost), taking into account that everything it does will be scrutinized, and accepting that you need it to perform more tasks than simply destroying things (unless it's a caster), is the key to getting what you pay for.

1 comment:

  1. Yes I have to agree. I'm not a tournament player by any means but I do play competitive games with some rather aggressive players. I never like bringing DJ for the reasons you mention.

    I'm building a Goreshade list and it screams for the DJ but I think I'll take a reaper or nightmare instead. Less risk.