Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kaya the Wildborne

Kaya and I
Kaya the Wildborne was the first caster I purchased and the one I have played the most. Compared to my battle comrades, I've probably played her as a warcaster the most exclusively (except the one guy who only had a single caster...)  She is still my preferred caster as she makes my favourite aspect of Hordes look that much more awesome...WARBEASTS!

How I Play Kaya
I play Kaya the Wildborne as a strike force commander or a warbeasts' super-ultra-cooling device. Both play styles focus on enhancing warbeasts, just in different manners. 

Strike Force
When pairing Kaya with mobile, armour cracking warbeasts, no heavy or huge based model is safe. I usually choose a high P+S heavy, an alternative heavy and two support warbeasts for this style. The goal is to pick off a high priority target at a time before drilling into the enemy warcaster.

Tarpit or offense enhancing support models make up the non-battlegroup component of the army. I use them to tie up the unimportant targets while the battlegroup hones in on high priority target.

I read someone describe this style as wielding a sword. Dance around your opponent until they trip, strike, and then retreat. Kaya's short control range and squishiness require a careful dance. Use Circle's mobility and Occultation to reach your opponents' vulnerable heavies. Make the best of Pack Hunter and your heavies' abilities to kill (not just dent) the opponent. Finally, retreat your offense and Kaya to a safe distance with Spirit Door.

Super-Ultra-Cooling Device
When I want warbeasts....LOTS of warbeasts, I use Kaya as a mid-line support. I focus on living warbeasts for this strategy to make the most of Soothing Song and Pack Hunters. I also like to add some extra fury management in the form of a Wilder or Shifting Stones. I like to bring one form of damage soakers for the non-battlegroup part.

The strategy behind this play style focuses on the Warbeasts, so I'll leave the offensive and defensive details for their own write ups. Being supportive still requires some explanation. The idea is to use Soothing Song and Wild Mastery for fury management and position yourself to allow warbeasts to be forced and utilize Pack Hunters. Essentially, this is about keeping Kaya safe and central. At the start of a match I a pathway where Kaya can be covered or concealed every turn. In dire cases, I rely on Occultation or swamp gobbers. Hang back, stay safe, and let your puppies do the work.

Kaya's Blessings
Kaya's passive stats offer little in personal offense or defense, but plenty in support.

Use Kaya's superb speed and reach (12') to attack unexpecting models. Her speed helps compensate for her low defensive stats by making cover and concealment that much more attainable. It also increases the mobility of her limited control area.

Without boosting, most units will have difficulty hitting Kaya. Place her behind cover or concealment and ranged units that can't boost won't be able to hit her.

Kaya's MAT and Splinter's P+S are poor, but that does not make Splinter useless. Boost her attack to increase the chance of a Critical Knockdown. Now that melee hits are guaranteed, follow up on the knocked down opponent with the warbeasts. Critical Knockdown can also be used to prevent an opponent's on-trigger movement effect (ex. Mulg).

Pack Hunter
As a new player, I dismissed this perk as 'okay'. I was wrong. Pack Hunter is awesome. It turns warbeasts into reliable hitters, which makes executing plans smoother. It also acts as secondary fury management since warbeasts won't be required to boost attack rolls as often. 

Spells and Feat
Wild Mastery
Kaya's feat isn't powerful on its own, but it is flexible. Use it to manage fury, relocate a small battlegroup, swing Splinter a whole bunch or stock up for any Fury related task. Take care to leave enough fury on your warbeasts for leeching next turn.

My favourite last ditch tactic is to send a fast warbeast (16' with a Feral) towards the enemy caster and then warp in Kaya and two more warbeasts with Spirit Door and Wild Mastery. You can also drop one warbeast and warp out Kaya instead. The distance and quantity of warbeasts that can be relocated like this has even surprised some verteran players (although they still smote me down...).

One of my struggles has been knowing when to use Wild Mastery. Unlike many other feats, it isn't based around the alpha strike. It's flexibility also means I'm worried I'll miss an opportunity during a following turn by using it too early. The only guaranteed good time to use it, is when you're going to be warbeastless on the next turn.

Throw Occultation on key vulnerable pieces as you move up the board. I know that's broad advice, but I've never had a consistent target for it. Do not put it on pieces that you plan to use as screens, since stealthed models do not block LOS. After engagement, this spell has some use on models that dash in and retreat to protect them from enemy caster debuffs.

If you're playing a supportive Kaya or the terrain does not provide sufficient hiding spots, the best target for this spell is probably Kaya herself. 

Soothing Song
I usually use Soothing Song as basic fury management. This requires Kaya to activate last, which can be a problem if you need to move her farther up for Forcing.

Soothing Song can be used to remove a fury from topped up warbeasts in order for them to be available for transfers.

A tactic that I have not tried is using Soothing Song to counter knockdown and stationary. Force your warbeasts to shake the effects and then use Soothing Song so they can activate with all their anger management available.

Spirit Door
Spirit Door is what makes Kaya unique. I primarily use it as a defensive ability, but it can be used to set up offense for the next turn.

I use this extensively with the Strike Force strategy. Send a big mean wolf in, kill something and then Spirit Door him to safety. Most warmahorders refers to this as 'Yo-yo'.

If Kaya is out of position, Spirit Door her to a safe place.

Since Kaya will be repositioning anyway when Spirit Dooring herself, try and sneak in an attack with Splinter before casting it. Just be careful not to charge yourself into an anti-spell bubble (ex. Bansheet Wail).

You can leap frog a warbeast or Kaya. Spirit Door Kaya 2" away from the warbeast. Then Spirit Door the warbeast 2" away from Kaya on the other side of where the warbeast started. Use this to bring your beasts within threat range of a warlock or ranged model for the next turn. When doing this with Kaya on a large based model, she can be repositioned a decent distance. Use this in conjunction with Wild Mastery to bring in an extra warbeast or Spirit Door Kaya to safety.

Mess with the your opponent's plan by Spiritting away that heavy you left sitting in the open just before you finish your turn. This isn't a true in-game tactic, but it sure is gratifying seeing your friend's disappointed face when his big juicy target is repositioned and has to rethink his plans.

Spirit Fang
I've truthfully made very little use of this spell. The debuff only applies once Kaya has made a successful attack roll at 6 and a successful damage roll at 12. This means your target has to be poor to average in both defenses unless you want to spend 3+ fury for a chance at applying the debuff. The targets I want to place this on are often big slow beasts and jacks, but they usually have high armour to compensate, making it difficult to apply this spell.

While I haven't done so myself, I can see this spell being useful against low-armour, knocked down targets that you want to take out from a safe distance.

Kaya's Banes
Deviation Blasts, Auto-jumps, Collateral Damage and Other Defense Bypasses
Since Kaya's armour is negligible, she relies on her high defense to avoid damage. Since blast templates and auto-jumps bypass the defense roll, they bypass the biggest hurdle to damaging her. These damage rolls may be low POWs, but 13 armour means she is likely to take some damage. Let's not even talk about Magestorm...actually lets...but later.

Be aware where you place Kaya if your opponent has blast templates or critical slam abilities. If they have blast templates or auto-jumps, keep some distance from Stones or low defense models. If they have special slam abilities (especially ranged), avoid being directly behind low defense models.

Collateral damage is doubly dangerous since Kaya will be knocked down, allowing other models to bypass her high defense.

Spell Inhibitors
The nature of Spirit Door and Kaya's low control range often require you to move close to your opponent's army before casting or after placing. This makes spell blocking bubbles that are centred on key opponent pieces particularly troublesome. Spells that increase casting cost are effectively the same since Kaya has a mere 6 fury. Even her feat won't make much room for Spirit Door shenanigans while suffering from lamentation. 

Mega-guns That Ignore Stealth, Concealment, Cover, and Obstructions
Warleaders and huge-basers shooting rule ignoring guns have a good chance of doing serious damage to Kaya. She relies on being close to the fight, but in some form of safety, so being targetable even while screened and in terrain is scary stuff. Fortunately, few armies carry terrain ignoring and stealth ignoring abilities at the same time. If they ignore terrain but have problems with stealth, Kaya should be the target for Occultation. Likewise, if you can't rely on stealth or obstructions, spend extra effort to remain behind safe terrain.

Pairing Tactics
Send the Argus on a 14" run to the enemy warleader's flank, then Spirit Door Kaya and 3 other beasts in.

Kaya requires terrain for safety, but many warbeasts do not have pathfinder and struggle to stay ahead. On early turns, cast Tracker on your slower heavies so they can stay close to Kaya. The argus' speed allows him to catch up within a turn.

Druid Wilder
With all the warbeasts escorting Kaya, the Wilder has plenty of animii to cast. You might think the fury management is overkill...and it probably is, but the Wilder fills in some of Kaya's shortcomings.

Since two of Kaya's main spells work best when she activates after her warbeasts, she often misses the opportunity to cast an animus on a warbeast before they activate. This uses up precious fury that is better spent on buying attacks and boosting and requires your beasts to be in the right position to cast their animus on fellow beasts. The Wilder can cast Spirit Tap to allow a warbeast to receive a free animus, go where they please and still be returned to safety with Spirit Door.

Herding extends Kaya's relatively small control range. Move the Wilder up if you plan on charging a long distance with a beast. Don't rely on her survival though. She is squishy and her death will leave the beast out of forcing and leeching range for your next turn.

Feral Warpwolf
Warp for speed and send the Feral on a 16" run to set up some serious Spirit Door repositioning. This is not usually the best use for a Feral, but on desperate turns you can move your battlegroup almost halfway across the board.

A warbeast with Primal and Pack Hunter will have an easy time hitting anything. Unfortunately, having a beast guaranteed to frenzy is not a good target for Spirit Door.

Scarsfell Griffon
The Scarsfell Griffon often makes only a single power attack on his turn (maybe even a match), so Pack Hunter is particularly useful for him to guarantee execution.

Long Leash and Spirit Door allow for some flashy escapes or repositioning. Spirit Door Kaya to a warbeast behind the enemy line, place 2 more beasts nearby and then place Kaya 24" away! Be careful when using Spirit Door for the full distance as your other beasts will likely be outside of her control area.

Sentry Stones
While the Sentry Stones are used for teleportation shenanigans in most lists, their other abilities are more useful for Kaya. They can provide fury management overkill. While difficult to position, the healing provided by the stones can allow a warbeast to regain an aspect without forfeiting Kaya's ability to Spirit Door or Soothing Song the beast.

The trouble with stones in Kaya's list is that they tend to lag behind on big repositions and get in the way of the otherwise mobile warbeasts.

Shadowhorn Satyr
Make a Bounding Leap in to the thick of enemies, break a key target and then have Kaya Spirit Door the Shadowhorn to safety. Since the Shadowhorn can access tough spots without forfeiting his combat action, he makes a good target for Spirit Dooring Kaya and friends to on her feat turn.

Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew
The Swamp Gobbers provide a moving concealment package for Kaya. Since you'll be pulling warbeasts back frequently, they can make use of the cloud effect too. They can allow a support style Kaya to take routes across the field that would otherwise be too dangerous.

Warpwolf Stalker
Use Spirit Door as a fail safe for Lightning Strikes. Sometimes poor rolling (or good tough rolling on the enemy's part) prevent a model from making use of Lightning Strikes to retreat to safety. Spirit Door prevents your poor offense from transferring into poor defense.

Winter Argus
Winter Coat won't do much for Kaya against direct attacks, but will provide decent defense against deviations. The +2 ARM puts her past the peak of distribution against POW 7s. If you have 2 fury to burn on a turn before engagement, cast Winter Coat on Kaya. Once engaged, save the fury for transfers.

If Splinter and Pack Hunter are not enough to guarantee your warbeasts' consistent hitting throughout a match, 2 stationary sprays will. Your other warbeasts will rarely face hard to hit targets and can spend their fury on damage boosting and extra attacks.

Versus Tactics

Bile Thrall
Don't let Kaya be in a chain of POW 12 auto-hit blast rolls. Her low armour will leave her taking a serious beating.

Lamentation can shut down Spirit Door spam. It has a range of 14", compared to Kaya's 12". This leaves a limited operation margin for Spirit Door tactics. Stay back and focus on keeping beasts out of his warbeast murdering hands.

Since Kaya usually has plenty of warbeasts, be careful not to let Venethrax have a light warbeast killing party. Dragon Slayer and Dismember make him a formidable light warbeast murderer. If he starts murdering your models, his focus and armour will start shooting up, letting him survive and continue rampaging.

Wraith Witch Deneghra
When Deneghra casts Web of Shadow and prevents movement for your mostly melee army, don't forget you can Spirit Door for a bit of defensive positioning.

Black 13th Gun Mage Strike Team
I mentioned Kaya's weakness to deviations earlier, but this squad requires extra special attention. Ryan's Mage Storm is a POW 12 deviation. That's almost flat dice against Kaya! Kill Ryan ASAP.

Don't rely on Occultation when Lynch is on the field. His 5" fire beacon will leave any models relying solely on stealth completely vulnerable.

Major Victoria Haley
Temporal Shift really messes up your fury management and Spirit Door tactics. If Kaya is forced to activate before your warbeasts, focus on buffing or consider just pulling your beasts back to safety, especially if they are not within reach of a target.

Try to bait out Haley's feat on an inconsequential turn. This will requiring sacrificing some units or maybe a warbeast. Once she pops her feat, press on her hard. Her other abilities have little impact on Kaya.

Mind the Lightning Pods dropping in for an unavoidable damage roll. Be mindful of staying at least 10" away from the Stormwall and the positioning of Stormcallers.

Kayazy Assassins
Watch out for the Underboss' Kill Stroke mini feat. Kaya's wall of beasts will not stop them from reaching her since they ignore models and free strikes. When they do reach Kaya, Gang gives them a high enough MAT to reliably hit her.

If the Assassins receive a defense bonus on top of Duelist, even beasts with Pack Hunter will have to boost to hit. Plan to use extra fury.

Kommander Sorscha
On the turn after Sorscha's Icy Gaze you can shake stationary from your beasts, activate Kaya early and dissipate all the fury with Soothing Song. You won't be able to Spirit Door your beasts back to safety, but they will have a full pool of fury to wreck havoc.

Retribution of Scyrah
Kaelyssa, Night's Whisper
True Sight, Phantom Hunter and Witch Hound mean that Kaya can't be anywhere near Kaelyssa. Kaya can not hide, can not use terrain defenses and can not transfer (much) damage.

Dance around and pick off targets while biding time for Kaelyssa to expose herself. Once your warbeasts reach her, Pack Hunter and Splinter should be enough to beat her 16 defense.

Mage Hunter Assassin
Even though Kaya's high defense provides okay protection against Assassins, they are still a threat. The high speed and 4" threat range allows them to reach Kaya without worrying about concealment or stealth. Weapon mastery and decapitation have a good chance of killing Kaya in one shot. 

Mulg the Ancient
If a model other than Kaya is about to attack the Trollblood warlock, boost Splinter to trip Mulg. He won't be able to trigger Protective fit.

Keep Kaya a decent distance from Mulg until necessary. Runebreaker and the collateral damage from his Rune Club's smite will cause her problems.

That's My Kaya
I hope you picked up new ideas for playing with or against Kaya the Wildborne. I'll be updating this list as I gain more experience with Kaya. If you play Kaya differently, I'd love to hear about your style. If you have questions, I'd love to ponder them. If you have doubts about my advice, I'd love to ponder those too. Thank you for reading and may your fields be red...or full of bones...or green...or purple...or on fire. 

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