Warlord Wednesdays: Hear Me Out: Power Claws

Welcome back to Goonhammer’s series for aspiring Titan Principes. We here at Goonhammer’s own Collegia Titanica know that Adeptus Titanicus can seem intimidating to players unfamiliar with its particular quirks, but this series aims to equip you with everything you’ll need to play out epic clashes on the battlefields of the far future with your very own Titan Battlegroup. In this series, we’ll be walking you through how to build your battlegroup and command it to glory, including everything from which Titans to include and how to equip them, through to how to command them on the field of battle to secure ultimate victory.

Now that we’re out of Titan Legios to review (at least until Crucible of Retribution releases, anyway), we’re trying something a little different – we’re going to give you a glimpse into the way we test out various ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. This week, Condit’s going all-in with an effort to get as much mileage as possible out of one of the coolest weapons in the game: the Arioch Titan Power Claw.

Condit: Ah, the Arioch Titan Power Claw. That most majestic of weapons. Between its sleek and subtle curvature, its ornamental megabolter, and its frankly absurd damage output, it is, for my money, the single coolest weapon in all of Adeptus Titanicus. I’m not exaggerating here when I say that the prospect of using one of these magnificent things to tear my way through an enemy battlegroup was what finally convinced me to take the plunge and buy into AT.

Legio Xestobiax Warlord. Credit – Soggy

Unfortunately, the weapon usually winds up being somewhat underwhelming, and typically sees play as a budget counter-charge threat rather than the utterly dominant force of nature we all wish it could be. If you can make contact with it, it all but guarantees an engine kill. However, its Melee trait combines with the Warlord’s abysmal movement ratings to make it hard to leverage on offense.

Soggy: The “If” is doing a bit of heavy lifting there. The Arioch Power Claw is a rare sight for good reason – high opportunity cost for something that is unlikely to see action, acting mostly as a deterrent. You see the odd one but I feel taking more than one in a battlegroup is meme material.

And since Warlords typically find themselves in a mid-range “brawler” or long-range fire support role, you’re often better off taking another weapon that works at that range rather than spending your points on a weapon that you’ll probably never even get to attack with

However, I’m not one to be discouraged by such petty things as “effectiveness” or “reliability.” I’m going to build a list around the Arioch, and it is going to be glorious.

And so, without further ado: Zach, Soggy – Hear Me Out:

The List

Extergimus Battleline Maniple (1495 pts)

  • Warlord Battle Titan – 520 pts
      • Arioch Titan Power Claw (25 pts)
      • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator (45 pts)
      • Vulcan Megabolter Array (20 pts)
      • Disruption Emitters (30 pts)
      • Plasma Gargoyles (15 pts)
  • Warlord Battle Titan – 535 pts
      • Arioch Titan Power Claw (25 pts)
      • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator (45 pts)
      • Paired Turbo Laser Destructor (35 pts)
      • Disruption Emitters (30 pts)
      • Plasma Gargoyles (15 pts)
  • Warlord Battle Titan – 440 pts
      • Mori Quake Cannon (20 pts)
      • Mori Quake Cannon (20 pts)
      • Apocalypse Missile Launchers (15 pts)
      • Princeps Seniores: Dominant Strategist

Soggy:  The Extergimus already leaves little room for error, taking away two supercharged weapons in favour of claws does neuter it a bit. Most opponents should be wise to this and try to keep out of the 8” threat range and circle strafe you. Along with taking a Vox Blackout on the turn when things are likely to kick off to deny you some easy kills.

Bair: An Extergimus doesn’t add to the claw at all. It might be the only way to take 3 Warlords, sure, but is it the best way to take a claw lord? I think not. For just one Claw warlord a Mandatum would be far superior, giving Warhounds benefits to the Warlord which you’re already barreling down the middle of the board anyway. For 2 Warlords it would be a Fortis, easily, which allows the Engines to share shields, and if for some reason they stand still at any given point are far less susceptible to taking damage. 

Regardless of how you take it, Vulpa is the best Legio for a Clawlord (eh, Mortis first turn extra move is also nice) because once it IS actually in range to use it, the other guns are far less useless with the bonus to hit on it’s WS value. 

This is getting long-winded. Oops. But I have a lot of opinions. The carapace weapons on the Clawlords are basically useless for what it’s trying to do, so just go ahead and take paired gatling blasters. Just do it. They strip shields, have a better useful range at anything other than Warlord, and Ordnance is just always good to have when you’re Condit and your dice might as well have 5 1’s and a 2 on them considering that’s all you roll anyways. 

The Tactics 

Obviously, the biggest downside of the power claw is how hard it is to get into melee with it – with its lumbering movement of 4”/6” and frankly horrendous 1/2 manoeuvre value, getting a Warlord Titan within 2” of its target is usually much easier said than done. However, between how powerful the power claw is, Vulpa’s improved accuracy in close, and the multiple options available to traitor Legios to close that gap, getting two or three charges off over the course of the game isn’t out of the question. 

Legio Infernus Warlord. Credit – @arch_reductor_antigonos (IG)

Soggy: If anyone is going to get mileage out of claws, it’s this pairing. Traitors have all the tools to sling them into position and Vulpa ensures it will be felt. At 1500 points, this list could be quite terrifying to pick apart with no obvious targets, all equipped with the strongest voids and armour available.

Bair: Agree with Soggy here. Loyalists just can’t compete when it comes to delivery systems for a Clawlord with stratagems often being more defensive or counter-active in nature than the Traitor’s forward onslaught and general preference for close quarters attacks; and Vulpa takes this to an extreme. 

To that end, I’ve got two Arioch-equipped Titans ready to go. Both also pack Sunfury Plasma Annihilators, which, when combined with the Extergimus maniple trait, can output strength 14 shots to follow up on the power claw. The carapace weapons are a megabolter array and paired turbo-laser destructors – the first should help knock down shields, while the second effectively gives me a second Sunfury with the Extergimus trait.

One thing you’ll note is that I’ve taken both of Legio Vulpa’s legio-specific wargear options on each of my claw Warlords. Disruption Emitters may seem like overkill at first, but strength 14 means that any result other than a 1 will be a Critical Hit against anything other than a Warlord’s legs or the head of a Warlord or Warbringer. And even then, a 3+ will get me that sweet, sweet critical damage. This wargear makes sure that every strike is as potent as possible and will give me a not-insignificant chance of scoring a kill in the Movement phase on an undamaged engine, freeing me up to shoot again in the Combat phase.

Bair: I gotta cut in here and say I think at least one of these if not both would be better suited with a Macro Gatling Cannon instead. Sure, it means you’re running your Warlords HOT HOT HOT if you take the extra strength from the maniple (still the wrong choice but we’re going with it?) but 6 targeted shots within 2” after the claw hits with Ordnance is FAR more likely to finish a target. Remember, even as Vulpa a Warlord is only hitting within 2” at 4+, 5+ targeted and the gatling gives a +1 modifier to hit within short range that the plasma just doesn’t get. 

Soggy: Agreed, the Macro Gatling with the option to push is far more flexible than the Sunfury although has a lesser chance of coring out an engine in one volley. Possibly you could take one of each.

Normally, I don’t take Plasma Gargoyles, and would prefer putting another set of DEs on my fire-support Warlord just in case the opportunity to charge something presents itself. However, between my aggressive game plan that will see me pushing both Clawlords’ reactors at least once per round, the extra heat from the Extergimus maniple trait, and the Warlord’s large reactor track and pool of repair dice, I’m presented with the possibility of picking up a few extra mid-strength hits over the course of the game. This is probably one of the better applications for this wargear, and my dual-Mori Warlord will just have to make do with strength 11 smashes. Oh well.

Soggy: Plasma Gargoyles huh? We’re going full meme I see.

Bair: Look at this guy with TWO Legio upgrades, and TAKING BOTH? Who does that?? 

Round 1 will see them both taking Full Stride orders, likely while under the effect of the War Lust stratagem. This gives them an impressive 16” of movement, getting me into the middle of the board and ready to threaten charges out of the gate. Once I’m there, round 2 is about fishing for a kill or two to remove a piece from the board and set up for a devastating charge. The goal will be to activate the mega bolter-equipped Warlord first to knock down shields, then follow up with the turbo-laser Warlord to put a whole pile of strength 10-12 shots into something and hopefully score an engine kill. Depending on how the board looks, I might even issue Split Fire once or twice. The next phase of my plan is charges, probably with the Bloodthirst stratagem. The goal here is to set up two charges in a single turn to run down two models at once with strength 14 power claws, strength 13 smash attacks, and strength 10 Sunfuries (strength 12 if I’ve got the room on the reactor track, which I honestly doubt I will at this point).

True Messengers Warlord Titan. Credit – Patrick Robins

Soggy: Most battlegroups at this point limit will need to avoid direct confrontation and go for chip damage whilst weaving between cover to avoid the Fire Support Warlord. That said, the objectives on the day may be kind – I’m going to laugh when Condit gets Vital Cargo or Retrieval with this list.

The dual-mori Warlord is on dedicated fire-support duty, pounding down shields with its AMLs and dropping two templates with the Quake keyword on anything whose shields drop to slow it down and put some damage in that the other Titans can target with called shots as they close.

The real keys to this list are three-fold though: first, the Traitor faction ability, Unbridled Hatred, which gives a model +2” to its movement speed and an extra dice on all melee weapons for a turn. This gives me a little more room to play with on a charge that I’m not sure I can make, and adds at least one dice to the claw’s attack – possibly a second if it opens up a >6” charge. 

The second trick is the traitor-specific Warp Displacement stratagem, which will let me just toss one of these Warlords 2d6” up the board when it counts. I’ll want to save this for later in the game to arc-dodge or shorten the distance to guarantee a charge. It could even come in handy to play objectives if I wind up rolling one of those.

Finally, my Princeps’ personal trait: Dominant Strategist. One of the downsides of a melee list is that, more often than not, the turn where you’re finally set up for that awesome charge you’ve been waiting for all game will start with you losing the roll for first player, letting your opponent move backwards just far enough to stop you from getting in close. Dominant Strategist lets me avoid this buy just taking the Opus at the top of the movement phase when I’m ready to charge.

The real issue here is going to be defense: I need to secure an early kill to keep from getting surrounded and cut down on their ability to damage me. It’s entirely possible that I lose an engine early on, and I need to avoid that at all costs. Managing my reactor to be able to move up the board at speed while still saving room for a crucial Voids to Full! is going to be tough.

The Test

To find out whether this list had any legs, Soggy was kind enough to play a game against me. Here’s the list he ran:

Soggy’s Warp Runners List:

Corsair Battleline Maniple – 1500 pts

  • Reaver Titan – 295 pts 

Vulcan Megabolter
Chainfist
Gatling Blaster

  • Reaver Titan – 295 pts 

Vulcan Megabolter
Chainfist
Gatling Blaster

  • Reaver Titan – 300 pts 

Apocalypse Missile Launcher
Gatling Blaster
Laser Blaster

  • Reaver Titan – 300 pts 

Apocalypse Missile Launcher
Gatling Blaster
Volcano Cannon

  • Reaver Titan – 310 pts 

Princeps Senioris – Dominant Strategist
Vulcan Megabolter
Gatling Blaster
Melta Cannon

Soggy: Keeping it brief, this list has some serious board presence with a mix of melee and ranged threats. It has excellent void breaking potential with only two weapons really capable of piercing Warlord armour plating at range, which could be tough. The Corsair Fighting Withdrawal trait gives me the ability to slip into the flanks of the approaching Warlords or pull back if needed.

Does my small squad of elite Warlords have what it takes to grind these tiny Reavers under its collective heels? Let’s find out!

The Mission

We used the standard matched play scenario in the Core Rules. Both of us landed on Glory and Honour – Soggy rolled double 4s, while I rolled a 4 and a 6 and figured killing a Reaver would be easier than getting a Warlord off the other board edge – and moved forward to stratagem choice. My choices were somewhat predictable:

  • War Lust (2SP)
  • Bloodthirst (1SP)
  • Warp Displacement (2SP)

The deployment chosen was Lines of Battle. I deferred first deployment to Soggy, then deployed my maniple on the right side of my deployment zone, with the two clawlords pointing up the side of the board and the dual-Mori Warlord aimed towards one of his engines he deployed in the center. He deployed mostly across from me, with his melta/gatling Reaver – my Glory and Honour target – deployed further toward the other side of the board.

The Iron Regent. Credit – Zach

Round 1

The first round was fairly straightforward and nothing that unusual happened. Most of Soggy’s maniple used the Astorum War March trait to close faster, giving his Reavers an 11” boosted move at the expense of some extra heat generation. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to issue orders to everyone he wanted to due to a failed roll. 

Soggy: Naturally the machine spirit said “No.” on my closest melee Reaver. If anything this probably resulted in them staying alive longer.

On my side of the table, both of my clawlords took Full Stride orders under War Lust and moved a cool 16” up the board to meet him, while my fire-support Warlord brought its weapons to bear on my Glory and Honour target, which wasn’t able to dodge the Warlord’s firing arcs. 

Unfortunately, nothing much happened in my Combat phase here – two of my Titans couldn’t fire, and both of our void save rolls were on fire. Things were going about as I expected, though not quite as well as I’d hoped – ideally I would have at least pushed his Reaver’s voids down to 4+.

Round 2

In round 2, I held off on stratagems and was met by an Obscuration Barrage from Soggy that cut off my fire-support Titan’s ability to shoot at his melta Reaver, which had moved to take the center of the board. While I probably could have marched through it and fired at it anyway, it would have brought me within 24” range, which would have made my mori quake cannons that much less accurate. Instead, I rotated and sidestepped to come to bear on a volcano cannon-equipped Reaver that was sitting in his backfield, figuring I could pile on the firepower from my entire battlegroup to try and take it out.

This didn’t work out as planned. The fire support’s AMLs rolled a handful of 1s, and Soggy managed to save most of the rest. One of the Moris went wide, and the other plinked off his voids ineffectually. There wasn’t much more to be had from the other Titans’ plasma annihilators, and it wound up being out of corridor of my turbo-lasers and out of range of my megabolters. Shit.

In exchange, Soggy piled onto my most expensive Warlord with all the firepower he could bring to bear, and managed to collapse its voids. He then hit it with a volcano cannon, resulting in a direct hit to the legs. Not great, but manageable.

The end of round 2 wasn’t looking incredible, if I’m honest. I hadn’t managed any significant damage yet, and his battlegroup was slowly tightening a net around mine and threatened to outflank me. However, I was getting closer to being in charge range with the power claws, and was optimistic that I’d be able to do some serious damage if they could connect. However, unless I could either pull off a miracle or bait Soggy into making a mistake, it wouldn’t be until round 4. Luckily, I had just the stratagem in my back pocket to make something happen.

Round 3

Round 3 started with a bit of a gambit – I knew I wouldn’t be able to make a charge with the board state as it stood, so I did the only thing that made sense: issue charge orders to my forward clawlord.

OK, you’re probably scratching your head at this, and I don’t really blame you. However, I had a few things going for me here. First, while I was more than 8” away from my targets, I still had the Traitor allegiance ability and Warp Displacement left to use. Second, one of Soggy’s chainfist Reavers was somewhere between 10” and 12” away from his Glory and Honour Target, and I figured since he still had 5 models on the board he’d get antsy and try to charge it, which would set me up for a countercharge whether he connected or not. And third, I just really wanted to make a claw charge already, dammit.

Soggy: It’s a bit amusing we both wanted to charge each other but ideally wanted the other to get closer first.

I then issued first fire orders to my fire support Titan, and followed that up by rolling a 1 while trying to issue emergency repairs to the other clawlord. Great.

I opened the movement phase by using Warp Displacement on my forward Warlord, rolling a 9 and pushing it over a building, closer to his volcano cannon Reaver. However, it wasn’t close enough to where I thought I could make the charge, so I pushed up to about 4” out and dared him to try to eyeball 2.5”. He declined, and backed off to create space, then pushed his other Reavers in to continue to pound on my now-damaged Warlord. My fire-support Titan was able to get through voids on the volcano cannon Reaver and drop a template on it, which did some respectable damage and pushed it back even further. Finally, my other Warlord managed to get all three of its weapons stripped off and eat a couple of minor detonations to the body.

Soggy: I had really forgotten how tough Warlord armour was – going for weapons on 6’s was my only real choice with my Gatling Blasters and Vulcan Megabolters. As it turned out this was the correct play, leaving a third of his battlegroup impotent in the combat phase.

At the end of the round, one of my Warlords had a guaranteed charge, another had a decent shot at it depending on Soggy’s play, and the fire support Warlord had its choice of targets. At this point, I was fairly sure that round 4 was going to decide the game. If only I’d known how right I was.

Round 4

This one was interesting – both of us issued a whole pile of charge orders, some speculative and some all but guaranteed. Soggy opened up by playing Great Crusade Titans and using his Dominant Strategist to steal the Opus in the movement phase, then with some clever rotation to stick his base out a little was able to pick up the fraction of an inch he needed to close to within chainfist range of my nearly totally disabled Warlord. I was staring down the barrel of 8 chainfist attacks, hitting on 2+ at strength 8. He got 5 hits, which he then rolled to show…four 1s and a 6. The extra d3 from the rending pushed it up to a crit on the body, but considering this was the first point of critical damage that engine had taken, I definitely got off easy.

Soggy: There was an attempt.

I responded by charging with my forward Warlord, using Unbridled Hatred to pick up an extra 2” movement and push the claw to 4 dice. Making the full 8” charge gave me 6 attacks with a strength 14 power claw, which I used to…deal 3 critical hits to an undamaged Reaver’s body. Better than Soggy’s “attempt,” but still not what I was hoping for. 

After some more movement by Soggy to take advantage of my flanks, I counter-charged with my now more severely wounded Titan to put a few smash attacks into the Titan that had had the audacity to charge me. Two crits, which was fine. The fire-support Warlord shot its guns some more, and maybe they did something? Who knows. 

The Damage Control phase turned out pretty well for me this round, as my crippled Warlord rolled a 4, two 5s, and a 6. I used the 6 and a 5 to relight voids and take another point, then repaired my Sunfury and power claw. I was taking a risk here – the Titan was already orange-lining, and had already taken a crit to the body. However, I was hopeful that those points of voids would be enough to keep it up. 

I opened the Combat Phase by stealing the Opus back, then swiped with my power claw to destroy the Reaver that was up in my face.

Soggy: The Reaver didn’t go down without a fight, managing to get a point blank Wild Fire in response. Dealing a couple of vital direct hits on the body, finally getting the damage track into modified results.

 Soggy then returned fire with his melta cannon, completely forgetting that I’d relit voids, but managed to drop them back down anyways. He then shifted gears and started pouring called shots into my weapons, correctly figuring that the only way he was likely to take it down was forcing repeated detonations and hoping for the best.

Well, it worked. It turns out that if you roll an arbitrary number of effective strength 5-6 dice at the same armor 11 location, eventually you’ll rack up enough damage to kill whatever it’s pointed at. My Warlord stumbled backwards, then fell – directly into the rear of my other claw-equipped Warlord. It dealt 6 strength 10 hits to that Titan’s body, killing it instantly. It spun around, did nothing, and then fell over itself.

Soggy:  I love this game.

Having somehow survived to the fourth battle round only to lose fully two-thirds of my list to a fucking megabolter, I was now pretty goddamn mad. The situation was dire, though possibly recoverable if I had a perfect set of rolls in round 5.

I bet you’ll never guess what happened next.

Round 5

Actually, this worked out alright given the circumstances. Soggy pushed forward with his three remaining Titans. One flew a little too close to the sun, so I charged it and killed it with smash attacks. Then, the other two killed it. Oh well.

Post-Mortem

Much as it pains me to admit this, Zach was right – I should have taken the macro-gatlings. I love the Sunfury in an Extergimus, since if it gets a shot at an unshielded Titan it’s got a really good chance of just killing it outright. However, given that I can’t really use that if I’m unable to strip those voids in the first place, I might as well go for the macro-gatling, which is very nearly as good of a finisher, with a few more shots and a lower cost to boot.

Attentive readers may have noticed the lack of any reference to a particular item throughout the entire battle report: yes, as it turns out, Plasma Gargoyles are still bad, and I never should have taken them. I could have dropped them and just put a third set of Disruption Emitters on the fire support Warlord for when I inevitably get antsy and charge with it. I know I’m going to, so I might as well lean in.

Soggy: Yeah, Disruption Emitters on a fire support Warlord are a bit of a puzzle. Normally you want to get in close to deny carapace weapons or the Mori Quake Cannon but the threat of S11 Smash attacks is no joke.

Honestly, I don’t think the game went that poorly until Titanicus Things happened in the middle of Round 4. I did get 3 kills, 2 of which were with claws, although I did wind up trading roughly 1000 points in Warlords for those 600 points in Reavers, with the third Reaver being killed in close by my fire-support engine before it fell over itself.

Soggy: Things definitely could have gone either way as I was pretty unable to take you head on and had to opt for called shots in the flanks, as you whittled me down that was getting harder to achieve. Thankfully the Omnissiah came through for the Loyalists.

Unfortunately, the necessity to get in close if you want to actually use the claws only serves to exacerbate the primary weakness of the Extergimus maniple – you’re always going to be outnumbered and outmaneuvered, and by giving up multiple ranged weapons to take claws, you run the risk of being outgunned in the first few rounds, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever be saying about a triple-Warlord list.

Clawing Back Some Dignity

Does this mean I’m going to give up on the power claw? Hell no. However, I do think I’m going to recalibrate how I use the thing. Zach’s recommendation of a Mandatum isn’t a bad one – you want to be within 12” of a target with your Warlord anyway so you can get the +1 to hit with your Warhounds, so closing to claw range isn’t much of a stretch. You’re not likely to get the charge off here, though – the claw serves its more traditional role of discouraging opponents from trying to get in under your carapace guns, since doing so risks a charge that will remove nearly any piece from the board with contemptuous ease.

I’m not looking for counter-charge threat, though: I want to reach out and touch them. There are a couple of options that are interesting here. First, switching legions could work – a Gryphonicus Reckless Maverick or Praesagius Crusader can each double-move and still attack, greatly increasing their threat range. On the traitorous side, Legio Magna’s stratagems would allow me to trade Vulpa’s reliability over multiple rounds for a single devastating round of charges, assuming I can get more than one of them set up.

Soggy: Traitors are definitely easier to get the lumbering Warlord into range with Unbridled Hatred and Warp Displacement, although on the loyalist side I think the Warp Runners War March could be worth looking at – 12” in one turn with Full Stride and pushing both times is nothing to sneeze at. I do feel Gryphonicus with their Vows and Reckless Maverick is their best contender so far.

I’m sticking with the Death Stalkers, though. To that end, I think my next attempt will be with a Regia, swapping out both Sunfuries for macro-gatlings. Warhounds are always useful, and once I’ve expended their use as shield batteries, they’ll at least eat up another volley or two of shooting before they collapse. Plus, I should be able to shove two Warlords and two Warhounds into 1500 points, which would help take some of the edge off of the activation disadvantage, which I definitely felt in this game.

Soggy: I think an aggressive Regia is a good shout, the hounds can help cover your flanks, work on speedbumps like Knights and possibly go on void breaking duty. The activation advantage is nice – for as long as you keep them alive.

I’m also considering looking at switching up the stratagems. War Lust on its own was plenty of movement, and I honestly probably didn’t need it and Warp Displacement to get the job done. Similarly, while Bloodthirst is always nice, a charging power claw is usually going to be enough to at least cripple whatever I run into. 

Wrapping Up

Power claws are hard. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play them. What it does mean is that if you’re going to take one, you need to have a plan for how to get the most out of them. When they work out, they’re phenomenally effective. On the other hand, if you’re not able to get a hit in with them (or aren’t able to get enough hits in) you’ll find yourself falling behind quickly, since every power claw you take is a ranged weapon you’re not taking. On the other hand, they’re a ton of fun, and when they hit, they hit hard.

 

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