Monday, October 5, 2015

Talking Tactics - Haley's Heroes 101

Haley2 is one of my favorite things to talk about, so I’ll never pass up an opportunity to wax philosophical about my main gal!

I get a lot of questions about the Haley2 list that I’ve been championing around the convention scene since ECR this March, so in the interest of saving time writing about it over and over I thought it’d be cool to put all my thoughts down in one place so I have one specific article to point folks too.  Someone (I don’t actually know who, but huge kudos to that guy) coined the name “Haley’s Heroes” for the list and the name caught on, which I think is super duper legit. 

Just a bit of a side note; I wrote this article initially a couple months ago and set it to release... the day before the August errata dropped.  Impecable timing.  Anways, I decided to hold off for a little while I decided what changes I'd be making to Haley's list and playing around with them!

I’ve spoken a little bit about the list in drips and drabs previously in tourney recaps and stuff so I’ll be re-hashing a bit, but I’d like to get all my thoughts in one place.  I’ll do my best to be moderately coherent, but no promises.  For those unfamiliar with the list; here it is in all its low model-count glory**:

Major Victoria Haley - WJ: +5
- Squire - PC: 2
- Stormwall - PC: 19
- Thorn - PC: 8

Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire - PC: 4
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution - PC: 3
Gastone Crosse - PC: 3
Tactical Arcanist Corps - PC: 4
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator - PC: 1

Black 13th Gun Mage Strike Team - PC: 4
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt - PC: 4

The original list came about as a Hardcore list that I was playing around with for ECR; since character restrictions aren’t an issue in Hardcore I decided to see what happens when I threw all of Haley’s favorite models in the pot all at once.  The result was what I narcissistically consider to be the bestest Haley2 list EVARRR!!!*  Since then it's been to three other WMW Invitational qualifiers; winning again at RiW's Michigan Qualifier, taking a third place at CaptainCon and winning a third qualifier in the NOVA Open Masters.  Shit's legit.

She never did expect to graduate the Strategic Academy only to shepherd a bunch of stupid mercs around...

So what’s the deal with this weird list!?  It’s just a bunch of solos and stuff, how does it get any work done?

So here’s the thing; everybody in the list has a super high-quality attack.  Whether it be RAT 8 Brutal shots from the B13, Hellfire from Alexia2 or boostable gunshots from Gastonne, every model can contribute to the fight regardless of the situation.  I.e. every model can pull double duty shooting down heavy armor with Kiss and boostable shots or just putting super highly accurate attacks into infantry models.  That makes all the “infantry” pretty self sustaining and lets Haley focus a little more on the battlegroup.

While all those wacky solos are running around shooting dudes, the battlegroup actually functions relatively independently.  The key is not to play overly aggressive with the Stormwall; with Thorn in the list there’s almost never a reason to.  While in a standard Haley2 list with just the bonded Stormwall, there will be matchups in which your opponent, usually via long threat ranges or control effects, forces Haley to commit the Stormwall early lest it get shut out of the game for too long.  Thorn allows Haley to also play that game; heavy hitters that get too close to the Stormwall get TK/Time Bombed and kept away until they can be dealt with.  While he does sometimes pull offensive duty holding down zones or getting spells into juicy targets, it’s most productive to consider Thorn as a defensive addition to the Stormwall.  Then, the Stormwall can get the maximum work done with its ranged attacks before moving in for the kill in later turns.

The last thing I’d like to touch on real quick about the list is its insane assassination potential.  While canny opponents can keep themselves safe via range or defensive terrain, any wrong move and Thorn can put them in a position in which all those high quality shots can do a ton of damage.  Lots of games with this list get ended on turn 2 or 3 when my opponent thought they were safe but overextended just a little too far.

One of my favorite aspects of this list is that it can take all comers comfortably and has the tools to play its way out of just about every situation imaginable.  Fortunately for game balance***, it can't realistically solve every matchup ever (sigh).  Cygnar's biggest bugbears; multi-wound ARM skews like Fist of Halaak, Meat Mountain or Bradigus give it a hard time, although they're not unplayable.  As long as she's paired with a list that can kill those enemies or (at the very least) scare them off, Haley can play in the sprinkler like a hyperactive four-year-old.

Before I wrap this shindig up I’ll cover some of the most common questions folks ask me about specific pieces in the list.  It’s FAQ time!

  • Why no Anastasia di Bray?

That was a consideration when I first built the list, and there’s no doubt that she’s a powerful piece but she’s far more effective in a Haley2 list that includes infantry for her Espionage to trigger off of.  Catching a few solos in an Espionage can be useful (especially when those solos are Eiryss or Gorman), but she’s fighting for space with lots of strong options.

  • There are no ‘jacks on Gastonne, what does he do?

I get this question a lot and it’s pretty interesting to me; I was super excited when Gastonne was released, not for the ability to take Merc ‘jacks in Cygnar lists but for the RoF 2 boostable hand cannon the dude with Gun & Run carries around.  This enables Gastonne to both ding up heavies at a decent range away (2 boosted POW 14s if Kiss is in the mix) or boost two gun shots into infantry models and then run away.  He’s almost impossible to catch and can keep doing work all game; generally he does far more work than his 3 measly points.

  • Isn’t Stormwall+Thorn too expensive for not enough work?

Yes and no; Thorn doesn’t usually pull his weight in raw points, but what he adds is utility.  Haley doesn’t have the resources to both fully fuel the Stormwall and cast all of her sweet spells in the same turn, but Thorn gives her the option to use the offensive part of her spell list when the situation arises.  He can run up to get Arcane Bolts onto important support models, TK things into threat range or Time Bomb super scary stuff.  He also enables tons of assassinations that would be difficult or impossible without him.  In matchups where Haley needs to stay far back, he can follow around the Stormwall and arc support spells so she doesn’t need to endager herself.  Don’t forget that the little dude is tough to kill too, especially with Arcane Shield/Decel/Disengage in the mix; he can hold down a zone on his own for a little while.

  • Are you going to change anything about the list?

Before the errata changed the face of reality, I was excited to play Acosta in the list; he was meant to replace Ragman and Reinholdt but those points went into Arcanist Corps when the changes hit, but I might still try it in place of the wizard dwarves.  The synergy is obvious; with TKs the guy has a ludicrous threat range and can put the finishing points of damage on a heavy that get shot to death.  Jakes is another option in that spot; she’s a little tougher to kill and has another boostable gun, but her damage output isn’t quite as high.

Anyhoo, I hope that answers a lot of questions people have about the (admittedly super weird looking) list!  If you have any more hit me up in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

*obviously not entirely true; there are lists designed to fight certain matchups that will be situationally more effective, but as an all-comers main list, I’ve yet to see or find a more powerful one.

**The August 2015 errata shook up Cygnar's matchups a little bit, so the current list (above) is slightly different from the original version that saw play at RiW and CaptainCon.  Initially Ragman and Gorman were in there, but since post-errata Haley is bit of a bad girl and likes to live a lot more dangerously the TAC took their place.  

***unfortunately for me, though.  Sadface. :(


  1. Like this list. Pairing it with pStryker with Jakes running a Stormwall. I need the B13 in his list to help answer eLylyth, what do you think about swapping them out for a Vanguard on Gastonne? Not as much offensive output, but it gives me a shield guard and a potentially POW 17 jack that is a tick to remove. Better use of 4 points out there?

    1. The B13 are pretty important if you're looking to drop this list into infantry-heavy matchups. Personally, I wouldn't drop them but if you must, consider axing one of the other 4pt pieces (Alexia is the most obvious IMO) to put in Pistoleers. You lose some area denial, armor cracking and a little assassination potential, but you can still kill lots of duders.
      Alternatively a couple 2-pt 'gunner' solos could work. Taryn, Alten, GMCA etc. all could work. Hope that helps!