Agathon Survival Guide 2
Okay, so you’ve read last week’s guide to avoiding Agathon’s notorious spell assassination. You strut back to the table, confident that this week, your ‘caster is certain to survive to the endgame, and put a hammer/steam train/sword that’s unconvincingly named ‘Axe’ into whatever passes for the spindly fucker’s skull. You’re positioned perfectly, their Foreboders are useless, and you cackle while quietly wondering why someone would name a sword ‘Axe’.
Seriously, wtf Jarl ?
“Oh, by the way… what’s the threat range on those heavies?”
“20 inches mate 😊”
And thus you come to me, looking for how to survive this latest threat!
The good news is that while this one is a lot more killy than ‘mere’ POW12s, it’s also a fair bit more linear, and the ways that we can defend against it are broadly similar to the ones that we explored in Part 1.
Basically, this assassination consists of sending either a Tormentor or a Soul Stalker into your ‘caster – while the same tools work for any of the horrors in the Infernal arsenal (fear the Foreboder ! -Ed), these two are realistically the best at doing it.
A terrifying engine of consumption, devouring the being of anything it gets to… and on the left, a
The reason for this is that both of their cards have a way of making it easier to hit your ‘caster – either with the Soul Stalker ’s Coil, or the Tormentor ’s Grab and Smash using a Headbutt power attack to knock you down. The way that this is usually accomplished is via a combination of the Infernal Gate ’s Gate of Worlds ability to place the horror 2” further forward, Agathon ’s unique spell Tether to move it 3” directly towards Agathon , and two Hellmouths to push the heavy 3” closer to your ‘caster each time, for a total of 11” of threat extension altogether. For the Tormentor , this puts us to a mighty 20” melee threat range, and the Soul Stalker to an even more respectable 22” of threat – and unlike the big number threat ranges that people can sometimes quote to you in an attempt to scare you, neglecting to mention the Rube Goldberg-esque shenanigans required to enable them, Agathon’s threat extension game is worryingly consistent to execute if they set it up right, making it a threat to be respected.
On top of these strong basic numbers, we have the usual Infernals consistency-boosters. Besides rerolls from Orin2 ’s Knowledge of the Damned and Eilish ’s Puppet Master, we now have to contend with Runewood2 ’s Curse ability. The tricky part about this one is that it has quite a respectable threat range (16” base, with a 6” walk and 10” application, with the potential to be extended by Gate of Worlds and Hellmouth – the latter of which, which, while a risky gambit, can be made less deadly by Feating with Agathon and dropping the highest dice of damage, as well as upping Runewood ’s armour with Regna ’s Deceleration prior to going in for the play). Interestingly, Runewood doesn’t need line of sight to the target of this ability, and can charge before applying it, making for some pretty impressive applicability when you start to consider where your other models are in relation to your ‘caster.
Somewhat ironically, this man makes it much easier for Infernals to hit, while being incapable of getting things to hit him.
So, how do we deal with it? Well, some of the usual approaches to dealing with heavies don’t work as well. While free strikes have ended the hopes of many a would-be assassin by crippling a key system or aspect, Infernal horrors, unless they’ve taken some prior damage, don’t hugely care about tanking one or two big hits on the way in, especially when they have access to Orin in case of really large dice spikes. Likewise, simply putting things in the way doesn’t work as well, between Agathon ’s Dark Banishment and Regna ’s (as well as Agathon ’s) Dark Seduction. And, as mentioned previously, this isn’t the kind of threat range that we can just avoid or ignore on the basis of difficulty.
However, that doesn’t leave us entirely defenceless. Firstly, the common elements of both heavies is that they have a 1” melee range – a weakness specifically designed into Infernals, that pretty much all of the models in the faction share. This makes them very vulnerable to walls, and oftentimes putting your ‘caster just behind one is enough to make this vector of assassination very difficult (however, one should always be wary of being Hellmouthed away from the wall, if our anti- Foreboder defences aren’t as strong as they should be). Even if it doesn’t shut the run off entirely, every little extra bit of DEF helps – even just having to expend rerolls on hitting rather than on damage ups our survivability a little bit. Secondly, neither heavy hits incredibly hard – while the Tormentor ’s POW17 is respectable for sure, a high-ARM ‘caster with a few focus or fury camped can often present a respectable challenge for the heavy to overcome, especially with a piece like Hermit in the mix to cancel the charge attack. While Infernals can create a very respectable armour swing, it again requires more resources that they may struggle to apply (the Desolator may not have range to Assault and spray, the Hermit may not be able to apply Whispers at the Gate, and Agathon may lack the spare Essence to apply Curse of Shadows after using all of the threat extension spells).
The heavy horrors also do not have any way to bypass obstructions in this list, lacking the access to Ghostly common in the rest of the faction, so simply hiding behind a building in a bunker with some disposable models surrounding you can often present a thorny geometric problem for an Agathon player to solve. Finally, getting Agathon and all of the other models into the correct position to apply all of the threat extensions is somewhat difficult – if playing on a clock, resolving the assassination in a timely manner without accidentally blocking your own lane, especially in the later stages of a game, can be very difficult.
Me attempting to manoeuvre around a building in my most recent Agathon game, 2020, colourised
The common melee assassin heavies also have some weaknesses unique to each of them. For example, the Tormentor , while a very strong melee heavy in its class, has no access to Pathfinder in an Agathon list outside of the Fuel Cache objective, so any rough terrain on the board or made by terrain creation effects can make it very difficult to get it to your ‘caster if it isn’t in objective range or you manage to kill the Fuel Cache early. Furthermore, Infernal players will often forget to put the Tormentor within 0.5” to apply Headbutt (which yours truly has never ever forgotten to do, ever), which I encourage you to reward by pointing and laughing whenever they forget to do so, because we deserve it. More seriously, if being in threat range is unavoidable, staying out of Headbutt range can add just a little bit more risk and potentially put the Agathon player off the run.
Meanwhile, the Soul Stalker , while having baseline Pathfinder and a much simpler way to boost its own accuracy with Coil, is a very limp heavy in terms of damage output, being more equivalent to a slightly buffed light. As such, it struggles quite heavily with any major armour, so the ‘more camp’ solution is even more relevant. It’s also much more vulnerable to free strikes, due to its lower armour and boxes, so the prospect of knocking out its outer and central rings in just a few hits is a much more concerning one.
I should mention the Lamenter , because it technically exists, and while my games have given me little respect for it as a piece, it does have the distinctions as a ‘caster-killer of Flight and Critical Paralysis, giving it a way to get around buildings as well as a conditional accuracy buff. However, its even lower hitting power and fragility make it a very niche piece – treating it the same as the other ‘caster killer heavies in this article will likely keep you more than safe.
Massive pincers, itty bitty melee range
That’s it for this part! I’m hoping to finish with the final article on Thursday, covering the famed Dark Banishment assassination, with some closing thoughts on the article series as a whole. Thanks for reading, and as always…