Today we have another post from Evil Homer. He sent this to me once before, and the first post didn't really say anything you couldn't read on the Wrath of Kings website. So, he graciously offered to re-write it. Hopefully this can be helpful to you.
This is the second time I’ve written this article. The blog owner and editor believes in actually publishing articles that actually SAY something instead of the trite BS spewing. Good for him, there is enough of that on the interwebs as it is.
So Shael Han. The first thing you have to realize is your main models are not amazing, certainly not in the same way as the models from the other factions are. Your legionnaires are ok, the Wraths are maybe a little better, the Iron Lotuses are average, and you get the idea. What makes your chosen faction tick is the concept of Insights.
Insights are always on, area of effect bonuses divided into offensive and defensive abilities. Every Shael Han model has at least Enlightenment (1) which means you get to pick one offensive insight when you activate to use during the turn. Defensive insights are chosen after results are generated every time you are attacked. Insights are 6” aura and you can pick from any one you are in range of. Insight use is important to get the most from your models.
Offensive insights are pretty simple to understand. You activate, choose the insight you want to use and then proceed. Unlike Inspire abilities they are not tied to a model type. So your Wrath activates, checks distance and sees he is in range of both a Big Sister and The Warchild. You are intending to engage multiple models so you are eligible to pick either one. One of the models you intend to engage has a resilience of 2 so you pick The Warchild’s insight so you have the extra die to attempt to penetrate the enemy’s toughness. There are a variety of offensive insights to choose from and each can enhance your troops. Some more than others and depending on what you are using for troops you will choose specials and character to either enhance your abilities or may help to mitigate deficiencies in your troops.
Defensive insight are awesome. Plain and simple. They trigger from various results on the damage chart but since they trigger after results are generated you can pick the one you want to use after seeing what the enemy has done. For instance the Shield of Taelfon (hereafter known as the Teflon Don) provides a defensive insight that triggers when a magic result is generated (it generates a backlash). On your basic troops (Wrath, Legionnaire, and Lotuses) that means 20-30% of the results generated. When the result triggers the attacking models makes a Will attack against themselves. If successful they suffer the results of the Will attack. The Don himself has magic results on 50% of his card and three wounds. I’ve stuck him in and managed to kill more enemies from the backlash than from my attacks. The nicest thing about the Teflon Don is how well his ability synergizes with other results that trigger on the Magic results, for instance potential placement shenanigans from the Dragon Legion Keeper’s training ability. Or the knockback attack from The Winterhawk’s training.
Defensive insights require you to really pay attention to what’s best because it changes depending on the results being generated. You may be thinking the Don’s ability to generate a backlash is what your looking for but then your opponent rolls a ‘7’. You have to remember the Legion Keeper’s insight is also available which turns the ‘7’ on the chart into a parry rather than the strike it is as printed allowing you to negate the roll, or they may roll an overpower and you have The Winterhawk, which allows you to make a will check. If successful all enemies within 2” suffer a hit. That’s a straight up hit, no chart shenanigans involved (not as good as direct damage but hey, we can’t all be Hadross).
As you can see (or not) being mindful of defensive insights is key to making the most of your models, since you will likely be utilizing the defensive insights many more times than the offensive ones. Enlightenment is designed to be the leveling mechanism for Shael Han. As such the smaller the game size, the more individual model strength becomes important. As the game size decreases your ability to stack multiple insight options on the table becomes compromised. This, in part, is why I’m not crying about the sky is falling concerning Hadross (yet).
Motivations are how you win the game. Seriously, it’s that simple. Even with all the cool insights you aren’t going to match up with the individual superiority of Nassier or Hadross. You really have to play attrition until you can get to win conditions you have decided on. In my opinion Hadross and Nassier have to worry less about completing motivations but Shael Han has to guard against allowing the enemy to achieve their motivation while positioning themselves to achieve their own. Hadross and Nassier have an insane amount of damage at their disposal. They can simply whittle your morale down without having to concentrate on the motivations. If they achieve their motivation it just goes fast. It’s a kind of race. Can you hold them long enough to complete your own motivation. You likely aren’t going to straight up kill enough of them to win the morale attrition. You need to concentrate on the motivation to move things along.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Shael Han. I personally feel they are on the bottom of the power spectrum but my view is compromised by having played nothing larger than an Intro game. I can see where enlightment flexibility from larger games will help offset some of the advantages other armies enjoy.
Next you have some amazing specialist models. The Deathbloom, Red Willow and Hong Yao all have some amazing tricks up their sleeves and bring insights that will help even line troops pull some unsuspecting things.
Finally, larger games are going to play into the chart probabilities and your defensive insights are going to that much better. You can’t really outnumber someone by much in this game. What Shael Han can do is make their equivalent numbers work in our favor, or convert their extra dice into extra defensive insight opportunities for us so be mindful of those opportunities and utilize them.
As always the views expressed in this article are mine and not the blog owner’s. Feel free to disagree in the comments.