Everblight 2014 – Part IX

I have received quite a few questions about my Vayl1 lists after my success with her at Templecon. I was really happy to bring her back into the spotlight. She used to be quite popular when Jake was playing her a lot but since then she has drifted out of conversation. One of my goals was to present another way to play her and how it works. With all of the questions that are popping up, I think it is time for a Vayl1 article.

Vayl, Disciple of Everblight

I want to talk briefly about the version of Vayl1 that is seen more commonly. It is an amazing list. The musings of Thunder_God and battle reports from JVM inspired me when I first started playing Legion. Vayl1 was the first Warlock that I learned to play more competitively and it was reading Jeremy Miller’s tournament report from Templecon 2011 that prompted me to try to play this game for the faction mastery. Here is the list that Jake plays:

Vayl1 +6
~Typhon 12
~Ravagore 10
~Scythean 9
~Seraph 8
~Shredder 2

Raptors 10
Forsaken 2
Forsaken 2
Spell Martyr 1

This is an extremely powerful list. It was great in 2011 and it is still just as good now. Jake has had success with this list whenever he gets it out of his bag. It is so good that other great players have made small tweaks to it and brought it to major events. The core of the list remains the same and it performs great across metas and countries. Here is an example:

Vayl1 +6
~Typhon 12
~Ravagore 10
~Scythean 9
~Seraph 8
~Shredder 2

Striders + UA 9
Strider Deathstalker 2
Forsaken 2
Spell Martyr 1
Shepherd 1

This list is JamieP’s variation when he was playing Legion. His list was tweaked to have a better match up with Circle. He played it in the UK Masters, WTC and the WMW Invitational in 2013. This list still plays very similarly to Jake’s list and JamieP had success with this version too. It is a great example of how the best players can take an already great design but add some changes to help the list fit their specific needs when they start a new faction.

Taking Another Look at Vayl1

Vayl1

My new concept for playing Vayl1 as a reactive Warlock was slowly developed for over a year. I started thinking about her in 2012 because of all the talk about Menoth gun lines being so strong because they could out-shoot an opponent but were still monsters in melee with the choir. I started crafting a Vayl1 list designed to do this with Legion except it would be Incite empowering my ranged heavies to higher melee potential. My first version looked like this:

Vayl1 +6
~Ravagore 10
~Ravagore 10
~Scythean 9
~Scythean 9
~Naga Nightlurker 5
~Succubus 2

Legionnaires 6
Spawning Vessel 3
Shepherd 1
Shepherd 1

The basic strategy of this list was to use the Ravagores to soften up my opponent and force them into my heavies. Legionnaires and the Vessel would contest zones and allow me to create the Shredder I want as well as send models to control flags. When my opponent would inevitably try to stop my shooting, the Legionnaires would Vengeance into position with Chiller, kill what they can and then the Scytheans would work on heavy targets with Incite. At this point the Ravagores are either freed up or they help the Scytheans and are quite reasonable with Chiller and Incite.  I can also use the feat to reposition the army for scenario or for denying the rebuttal.

I paired this list with Vayl2 and won the first tournament I brought it to. I played each list twice that day. My Vayl2 list used Typhon at this time. I played against Gunnbjorn, Doomy1 Tier 4, Maelok and Stryker2 that day. I played Vayl1 vs. Gunny and Stryker. This was one of my favorite tournament experiences for months.

Vayl 2013

I had the concept for this list in 2012, so why didn’t I play it in 2013? I sidelined my concept for Vayl1 because I was worried the list played too much like Vayl2 and I felt like I needed to pair Vayl2 with Saeryn to cover her issues with Incursion/Denny2 and other troublemakers. I also felt my 3rd list should be Lylyth2 to deal with the armor buffed Galleons and Stormwalls that Lylyth’s army would shoot down. I will admit that the release of the new Warspear UA left considering Thagrosh1 as my 4th option. All of that combined left very little table time for Vayl1.

In late 2013 I was wracking my brain on which Warlocks I should bring to the Warmachine Weekend Iron Gauntlet event. After my 3rd place finish with Vayl2 and Lylyth2 I felt like I was capable of winning an Iron Gauntlet and I wanted to lock myself into a spot in the finals at Lock n Load 2014. I was very concerned that Lylyth2 wasn’t the right 2nd list. She has quite a few great match ups but I found it awkward to find a time to play her at Lock n Load. My next thought was that Saeryn seemed like the obvious choice but I had concerns that she would be too difficult to drop in a format where people can play lists from 2 different factions. Everyone that plays lists that are weak vs Saeryn are well aware that their second list would need to bring a ranged oriented list to punish Saeryn or another counter.

The question kept bothering me. What do I play as my second list with Vayl2 that doesn’t get me into horrible games of list chicken? The Iron Gauntlet format just has too many options for me to actually create two lists and not find myself in the distinct possibility of Rock/Paper/Scissors list chicken. I wanted to figure out a way to avoid it all together. I had this short day-dream about making two different Vayl2 lists and then the idea hit me. I could make a Vayl1 very close to my Vayl2 list. This would cause my opponent to have a more obvious list to play against me and hopefully I could also recognize which list that would be. The benefit of knowing what my opponent would pick is that I could then decide which list of mine is better vs. their obvious best choice. Do I want Purification and Admonition or do I want Incite and Dark Sentinel? Plus I have specialists to work with and that is a huge advantage to my play style because I constantly shift 10 points of my lists anyway. So I made the list:

Vayl1 +6
~Angelius 9
~Angelius 9
~Scythean 9
~Ravagore 10
~Ravagore 10
~Naga Nightlurker 5
~Shredder 2

Shepherd 1
Shepherd 1

Specialists:

Raek 4
Raek 4
Spell Martyr 1
Feralgiest 1

I was really pumped about playing this list at the WMW Iron Gauntlet event. I didn’t think it was right for the Last Chance Qualifier because of timed turns and the increased presence of jam lists in that type of format. So I chose Saeryn for that event. Unfortunately I didn’t end up playing in Iron Gauntlet because I was in the top 10 of the LCQ. Which was pushed out to the following day and overlapped with the Iron Gauntlet event. So I kept the idea in reserve.

Vayl 2014

vaylart

Templecon finally rolled around and I had two Vayl lists planned. I was going to play her in Iron Gauntlet and in the Team Tournament. This was partially because I wanted to see videos besides just Saeryn and Vayl2. I still wanted to do well but I felt like I could without Saeryn. I thought it would be excellent for the community to see Vayl1 on video doing great things.  Here are the lists that I decided to run:

Vayl1 +6
~Angelius 9
~Angelius 9
~Scythean 9
~Ravagore 10
~Naga Nightlurker 5
~Raek 4
~Raek 4
~Shredder 2
~Succubus 2

Shepherd 1
Shepherd 1

Specialists:
Thrullg 3
Strider Deathstalker 2
Strider Deathstalker 2
Forsaken 2
Feralgiest 1

I also brought a modified version of this list that meets the Tier 1 requirements. We had agreed to play all theme forces in the Team Tournament and I felt like I could use this as my primary list and I would be able to handle almost any match up. Additionally people wouldn’t know exactly how to deal with my version even if they have experience versus a more normal Vayl1 list.

Vayl1 +6
~Angelius 9
~Scythean 9
~Ravagore 10
~Ravagore 10
~Naga Nightlurker 5
~Raek 4
~Raek 4
~Shredder 2

Shepherd 1
Shepherd 1
Spell Martyr 1

I have received tons of questions about these lists and because I made some choices that are pretty uncommon for Vayl1. I am going to do my best now to answer all of those inquiries.

Why did I decide to play two Raeks?

Raeks are amazing with Vayl1. Chiller makes them extremely potent at removing infantry. It is quite easy to upkeep Chiller, activate the first Raek and then activate Vayl and cast Chiller on the other Raek so she doesn’t have to move up far enough for Incite. This often means she can delay the feat for a turn. Also, Tenacity on the Raeks makes them obnoxious to remove. At this point most opponents commit to try to remove the Raeks because they have already killed key solos or more troops than they expected to lose. This generally sets up for a nice feat turn. I kill whatever they commit to the Raeks, I will use an Angel to take out an objective if necessary and if the Ravagore isn’t needed in melee I will try to kill another key solo or try to set their caster on fire to put on more pressure. After resolving the feat I will set up my heavies within an inch of Vayl so if the opponent charges in anything, then I can benefit from Dark Sentinel to kill low box models or just back the heavy away and take a free strike as a pseudo-Enliven. The whole strategy is set up by how much work I can get out of the Raeks and how much it takes to remove them.

Have I tried Afflictors in place of the Raeks?

I tried this with Afflictors and it is pretty good. I have three fully painted Afflictors and Vayl1 is a great choice for running them. She can extend threat ranges, she can feat to allow them all to strike again including the Incubi they make. She can enhance their accuracy and how hard they hit. I play the Raeks because they are so much harder to remove. The base 15 Defense and 14 Armor with Stealth is so damn good. The 13 Defense and 15 Armor just isn’t enough to protect Afflictors. The Afflictors go crazy when you get the right match up but I find Raeks consistently perform above their point cost.

Why did I decide to play Angels with Vayl1?

As I mentioned before, they are great at removing an objective. They are extremely versatile at removing infantry or softening up heavies. They are perfect for sending at a Battle Engine. They also are the best heavy for getting into melee and then backing up with the feat for the same reasons we love to use Refuge on Angels. I also like two Angels for a wall in front of Vayl when I need to get her forward but I am facing a Warcaster with an extreme assassination potential like Kreoss1 or Caine2.

Which match ups are best for this list?

This list is designed to be playable in tons of match ups but not really specialize in any. I do not love the list vs. most Haley2 lists, or either Deneghra. Otherwise I would make small tweaks based on which match ups you want it to cover. Butcher3? I like two Angels, 2 Ravagores and Deathstalkers. Morvahna2? Up the Scytheans to 2. Runes of War? Typhon is a huge plus in this match up. But overall I felt like this list brings most of the tools I need to handle a wide variety of opponents.

Which lists/Warlocks would I suggest pairing Vayl1 with?

To be completely honest, I didn’t design this list to cover any specific match ups or to cover a gap in my other lists. Essentially this list is designed to make sure I can drop it at least once in 4 rounds to avoid being locked into anything. It turned out to be stronger than I expected. I very rarely found a match up where I didn’t think I could play this list. If you have a favorite list that you play against almost everybody and now you are going into a Divide and Conquer event, this list is really easy to find a round to play it.

Why didn’t I include a unit?

Legionnaires, Striders, Warspears, Raptors and Hex Hunters are all powerful choices with Vayl1. I did not include them in my version because the Raeks do what I would normally use a unit for. Contest a zone, Block a charge lane, kill opposing infantry etc. The advantage to the Raeks is that 8 points of Raeks are not as susceptible to anti-infantry options as most of our infantry. The idea is to allow me to remove an opponent’s tar pit, still be able to tar pit my opponent but it is done in a way that most lists are not designed to handle. And even if I run into a list that can deal with the Raeks I am still only losing 8 points which is less than some tar pit units.

Did the Naga do enough work to justify 5 points?

I played Vayl1 6 times at Templecon and I don’t think I used Wraithbane even a single time in any of those games. But don’t take that to mean I didn’t get great work out of the Naga. The Naga affects how your opponent picks lists. People also play important models more defensively just because they can’t depend on their Armor buffs. But I was getting amazing work out of the Naga gun in pretty much every game. I don’t think you need the Naga in the list but I generally found the utility that it brings to be quite valuable.

Why didn’t I include Typhon?

It has been very difficult to get consistent work out of Typhon with how I have been playing the list. When I am shooting, I am often shooting from further than Typhon can spray. And the next turn a Scythean can melee as well or better than Typhon in many situations. I also feel like Typhon needs a Seraph to perform at the right level of synergy and that would change the list too much. My list is designed to be difficult to dismantle. When Typhon is in the list, it hurts a ton if you lose Typhon.

Is my list better than the Typhon version?

I fully admit that my version may not be better than the “standard” Vayl1 list but I wouldn’t really compare them. They are designed to be played very differently. My version is meant to be more reactive and less aggressive. They both have merit and it will be up to you to decide which version is better suited to handle your meta. I will also admit that my meta is skewed by a very small amount of Hordes.  I see Hordes in probably 1/10 of my games. Most of those are Legion or Circle. I think the normal version of Vayl1 is much better in metas where you face Trolls, Minions and Skorne on a more regular basis. I just wanted to show people that Vayl1 is more versatile than the community has really given her credit for. This is another way to play, not necessarily better.

Did I learn anything about the list after Templecon and would I make any changes?

The answer is yes to both questions. My lists constantly evolve and shift even if it is just in minor ways. The Succubus was hit or miss when I was playing it. To my surprise, I found that I really love the Spell Martyr in the list. I see more and more players making really aggressive plays and in early turns the Spell Martyr threatens Rampager or the critical Hoarfrost. On that note, I should cast Hoarfrost more often. In one game I used Hoarfrost through a Spell Martyr on Butcher3 and I didn’t get the crit. So I just boosted damage, hit him for a few points and let the rest of my army attrition. Next turn I used the Oraculus to try again and got the crit which made him very easy to kill.  Two rounds later I killed Ossyan on the top of turn 2 with a Spell Martyr, Hoarfrost, and a Ravagore shot when Ossyan was camping 3 and only 3 inches out of his deployment zone. I think Vayl2 has made me realize how it good it is to just throw out a nuke when the situation is warranted. I cast Malice and Hoarfrost at Templecon more than I have ever used those spells before.

I also realized just how versatile this list is. Any time I would try and auto-pilot the list, it was a mistake. This list can assassinate, attrition, or take the scenario but it isn’t so good at any of those that you should be defaulting to one or another. It may still lean attrition but not by much. It is important to stay vigilant and recognize when to switch strategies based on which plan your opponent is working the most to defend against. This applies to all lists but more so to this one because of its reactive design. To get the most out of this list you need to be ready to switch directions even half-way through a turn. The list adapts to situations and you really have to be ready to play it that way. Other lists can follow a set rehearsed plan in 70% or more of your games but this one relies on flexibility to win games. I found this list being very close to 1/3 assassination, 1/3 scenario and 1/3 attrition which I think is pretty abnormal for most US lists right now. I didn’t realize at first but the more I played the list the more important it became.

Conclusion

I hope this article did an accurate job of explaining all the different thoughts that went in to my choices and I hope it inspires you to take another look at Vayl1. She is an amazing Warlock and deserves more play than she gets!

~Omnus

Authors

Related posts

2 Comments

  1. Justin Pierce said:

    Amazing article man!
    I’m in love with Vayl 1 ( well both Vayls actually) and have been playing the traditional list. I’m a big fan of it myself, but I’m really glad that you have explored other sides with her. It makes me realize that Vayl1 is much more dynamic than I previously thought. If nothing else, this list has also given me some good ideas on how to play around with the more common list. I’m now really interested in trying the typical JVM heavy package but maybe taking 2 afflictors or 2 Raek (or 1 and1?) instead of Raptors. Do you have any thoughts on this?
    Anyway thanks for the article. I really do love this hearing your thoughts on the blight.

  2. omnus said:

    After writing a majority of this article I played Vayl1 at IMC #5. One of my 3 lists was Vayl1 essentially replacing raptors for Raeks. Worked well but I need to play it more.

Comments are closed.

Top