Friday, 14 October 2016

A Time Walk in the Park

Greetings and salutations, Cygnar lovers!


1. Introduction
2. The List
3. The Haley Unit
4. Win Conditions
5. Bad Match Ups
6. Alternate Builds
7. Conclusion

As I'm sure you've noticed if you've read more of my blog (why would you have done that, though), Haley3 is my favourite warcaster. She's the BOMB. Back in Mk 2 I played a rather unusual variant forgoing the Trenchers for Boomhowlers, though still utilising waves of revived Stormblades and Storm Lances to do most of the work in the army. In mark 3 I guess there is no standard list just yet so I guess mine is as reasonable as anyone's.

I'll preface this by saying I'm not an exceptional player. Haley3 is MY best warcaster by far, but that's not saying I'm the best Haley3 player (or even close to it). She's also good enough a warcaster that there are a multitude of ways to play her with many different viable builds. In my eyes, she's at the time of writing absolutely a top 5 warcaster choice in the game, losing the top 1 position she had in mk 2. Her incredible attrition power combined with a surprisingly hard to assassinate Prime Haley and the Echoes ability to stall out scenario makes her power almost unparalleled. 

I'm going to talk about my preferred style of play with my list. Many of you will likely have lots of objections and different experiences, which I'd love to hear about (unless you're a shithead saying Haley3 is bad in which case fuck off).

Furthermore, this piece will refer to Mk 2 a fair bit. If the post for some reason is read a while into mk 3 this will feel completely unnecessary. Really, some people will likely think so already, but it helps me frame my thoughts, and I hope it will be helpful to highlight things changed between the editions, things I feel a Haley3 player need to realise changed to be successful.


First of all I'll show you the list I'm running with Haley3. I think starting off with it helps frame my thoughts and make what I'm saying about the echoes for instance more understandable later. 

This is the list I've been running since a few weeks into Mk 3, including taking it to the WTC. It was born in a discussion amongst friends when Mk 3 was released and has since then been developed cooperatively by me and a good friend, Olov Winroth. 

Major Prime Victoria Haley [+25]
 - Grenadier [9]
 - Grenadier [9]
 - Ironclad [12]
 - Thorn [13]
Storm Lances (max) [20]
Trencher Infantry (max) [16]
Journeyman Warcaster [4]
 - Charger [9]
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord [4]
Ragman [4]

Some choices in the list are obvious. Trenchers are very good on their own and become an incredible choice with a caster who can give them Tactical Supremacy. Their Dig In ability synergises with Temporal Distortion beautifully as well. Storm Lances are equally obvious; competing for (and maybe winning) the title of the best unit in the game there's almost no Cygnar lists where they aren't a great choice. Their innate DEF 13 combine nicely with Temporal Distortion, and being high-value models means they're good targets for Revive.

Actually Storm Lances are worth expanding on anyway - positioning them is something I've had some troubles with. On the one hand you want to keep them behind the smoke to keep them safe and deliver them, especially considering you won't have Arcane Shield on them for longer than a turn. On the other hand, being stuck behind Trenchers and other models who all need to be behind the clouds, you can't make the best use out of them. What I've found works decently in most games is a combination of the two: I keep 2 storm lances up beside the cloudwall, roughly 5-8'' laterally, a third one 8-9'' behind them, a bit towards the clouds, and the last 2 behind the smokewall. This way you support two of the main workhorses of the list: the two aggressive ones can help the grenadiers and charger kill something at a distance, the two behind the clouds can help Past Haley deliver the beatdown to anything which advanced into or close to the cloudwall, and the last one ties them together CMD wise. The two hidden ones also serve as Revive anchors should your opponent have good enough shooting to punish the three ones you've left visible.

Since I quite recently started taking pictures of my games, I couldn't find a great picture to illustrate the what I'm trying to say with the Storm Lances. This is the best I can find. Two Storm Lances are protected by the clouds, and two are placed aggressively to the flank. The huge terrain piece limits where how far I can get them up though.

The battlegroup is the part of the army most people aren't sure on until they've tried it. The grenadier is an amazing warjack, only it never works out well on the table in my experience. The exception is with Haley3 - she can fuel the little focus hogs easily turn after turn, they synergise well with Temporal Distortion considering their higher DEF stat (14 compared to the typical 13 on Cygnar lights) and Dig In and you're already running Trenchers after all. The only thing getting them in trouble is order of activations if you want to maintain the cloudwall whilst getting work done out of your army. Simply put, you have to play a turn ahead when positioning the Grenadiers. I sometimes make the mistake of aiming turn 2, and keep Dig In, where I probably needed to advance so that turn 3 was less of a puzzle. A tip worth remembering is that you can somewhat alleviate the order of activation issue by Reviving a Trencher base-to-base with a grenadier. It's an expensive trick, but early-mid game you can often afford to and have Past Haley allocate.

Bombs away!

The Ironclad is the latest change to the army, 12 points which used to be two Trench Busters. Much of the time the Ironclad winds up a sponge and/or anvil unto which you lure opposing heavies. It's the only great target for heavies and ARM crackers, so they often aim for it, though it sometimes survives sporting a sexy 14/18 defensive stat line. 

I really shouldn't have to explain why Thorn is part of the list. One of Cygnar's absolute best models, for only 13 points Thorn brings A LOT to the table. Disruption and cortex damage can punish and control warjacks beautifully, threatening arced spells and the amazing synergy between dodge, set defence and Temporal Distortion makes him an auto-inclusion. He often punches out of his weight class too.

Founding member of "I'm too good for my points"-club.

The solos are rather obvious, and there's not that much to say about them. Rhupert plays Dirge of Mists for the Haleys at least 90 % of the turns, pushing the survivability up that extra bit. Similarily the journeyman casts Arcane Shield on the Haleys by turn 2 at the latest in almost all my games. Ragman is a huge help, synergising incredibly well with Past Haley in particular, but with Ragman even the shooty lights can get punching stuff reliably. To some degree you could make a case for either of the 3 solos being MVP:s of the list. Rhupert and Journeyman turn the Echoes into literal nightmares, making the list so much more durable than it looks. Ragman fits so incredibly well into the list: he's hard to get to, with the mass of models and clouds in front of him, and he turns the list really on. Without Ragman I don't think the list is even close to as strong as it is. 

All in all the list is surprisingly difficult to kill, and does WAY more damage than you expect it to do. It's one-rounding colossals reliably as long as you can get any ARM buffs off it using Repudiate. The only real exception is a Hyperion with Discordia backing it up (not even counting the possibility of the Hyperion being under Deceleration or Inviolable Resolve as well), which you probably would have to work on over multiple turns. 

I've paired the list with a Haley2 Stormwall list most of the time. I wish I could say there's that much thought behind that choice - they're just the two best casters in Cygnar in my eyes, and both lists are incredibly strong generalists with some variance in what they prefer not to have to play against. I could see a case being made for a dedicated ARM cracker as a companion to Haley3, but honestly I don't know if there's one better suited in Cygnar than Haley2 for that task anyway. Lately I have been giving Stryker2 some thought.

The Haley Unit


I won't go through what Haley3 does, I assume if you're interested enough to read a post like this you're invested enough in Warmachine that you can look her rules up yourself. I'll try to briefly discuss how I generally use the Haleys. 

First things first, stack all the buffs on them. While losing an echo is far from game losing, they are very important pieces for the list. Stick Arcane Shield on them as soon as you believe there's even a remote risk someone wants to kill the echoes (let alone Prime), give them Dirge of Mists or Heroic Call unless you really need to get pathfinder out on another unit. Let the echoes become literal tanks.

12 focus, is that really fair?

Focus-wise, you typically want to allocate to your jacks from the echoes. Most turns you can easily allocate three from one of the echoes, and one focus from the other echo. This will let you fill up both the grenadiers. 9/10 turns you want to fill both grenadiers (unless they're wrecked or something). You simply have to decide which of the echoes want to keep its focus the most. This is often very easy early game: for instance, there are no enemies close for Past Haley to punch, she allocates and Future either Revives or shoots something. 

Come mid-game, the choices tend to be harder. There are generally something of at least medium value close enough for Past Haley to punch, so she needs her focus suddenly. On top of that, you're generally not far enough into the game that you want to drop Tactical Supremacy, and going down to 0 camp with Prime is very scary. For me this often results in the unpleasant experience of allocating almost solely from Future Haley, which robs me of her gun. This is a bit counter-intuitive considering how you want her to be shooting stuff here, but I've yet to find a better way to do it.

Late-game all rules go out of the window. You can sometimes allocate a focus or two from Prime Haley at this point, if you have eliminated enough threats to her person. At this point it's important to remember that you always have the possibility of going all in and charging both echoes into something heavy to bring it down. 

There's a pirate's rule (remember Pirates of the Caribbean and "more of a guideline..") for allocating from the echoes though, you never allocate down to zero. An echo with arcane shield, temporal distortion and 1 camp is seriously hard to kill without investing far too much into it, but camping 0 it becomes a lot easier. 


There's Haleys EVERYWHERE (or "How to Give a Half-Assed Explanation of Proper Positioning")

Upside down triangle. The Breach of the Walls of Sul was an inside job. Menoth's Fury can't melt steel beams.

This is obviously a difficult concept to write about. Basically, most of the times you form a triangle with the base towards your opponent's table edge, to maximise the coverage of Temporal Distortion. Ideally you get the echoes to a scenario element each and lock that shit down. This means pushing Prime a bit further up than comfortable, but any piece of terrain typically makes this decently safe. If there's nothing LoS-blocking in a suitable position, you often want to keep two Trenchers back there to cloud up in front of Prime (even after dropping Tactical Supremacy, the only important thing is to keep Prime safe). 

An example of the triangle. I did wind up losing on scenario here, so I should've pushed the echoes further up, but for attrition this is a great position.

A little trick worth remembering versus far-threatening melee armies is that while you can't free strike while incorporeal anymore, you can still block landing spots. Removing an echo at range is often difficult, so many assassinations relying on melee can be stopped by placing an echo in the spot a warbeast/warjack/whatever would need to stand to beat down Prime. You might be able to artificially reduce the threat range of many assassinations this way. 

The Feat

Honestly, it's not that impressive. You can keep it for an assassination, to get more Focus out and allow Past Haley to boost to hit a Force Hammer on something. I usually use it turn 3 to get a big attrition swing whilst staying a bit safer than usual: Past Haley can punch something really well, Future can allocate 4 and stay safe, and Prime can cast Temporal Distortion and often a second spell while maintaining camp. That's really all you need to aim for in my experience. Turns 3 and 4 are typically when you're most vulnerable, since at that time the armies have gotten close enough to each other for Prime to be in range of things, but you haven't yet managed to kill off enough things to make her safe again. Getting 2 extra focus to allow some focus camping at such an important time can often help push a game in your favour.

The way the feat gives you the big attrition swing is two-fold: firstly, the echoes become a bit more dangerous, or they can allocate a little extra. Secondly, it allows Prime Haley to cast a second spell. Since you always cast Temporal Distortion, and sometimes upkeep Tactical Supremacy, you can very rarely get another spell out. The feat lets her boost a Repudiate, cast a Domination or something similar. That's often a big, big deal. Preferably you know the turn before that you're going to feat, so you can set up for it. What this means is different depending on what you want to achieve, but often it is things like getting the Grenadiers to a place so they can aim to what you're going to want to kill, getting Thorn disentangled to let him run and arc early in the turn, swinging out a bit with the Storm Lances to give them charge lanes.

How do I win?

Haley3 and the Scenario Game

Lacking the cool control elements of her first two iterations, Haley3 isn't a scenario caster per se. Most of the games are won on the back of strong attrition play, resulting in (most often) a caster kill or (less often) a scenario win. My strongest scenarios are the slow ones in SR2016, like Line breaker, or the central ones like Recon. 

When fighting a very aggressive list and/or a control caster I often find myself giving up 2-3 early CP to preserve my army. While this plays into a control caster's game plan a bit, they usually have to offer up something to get the points. Typically Haley3 is very strong attrition wise, while control casters generally are less so. What this means is that if you give up scenario pressure early you are definitely going to win the long game, 

UNLESS you lose the scenario game, that is. As long as you stay on top of your game, you rarely will (and as a result, I lose the scenario game every now and then, haha). Your key pieces preventing the scenario loss are the Echoes without a doubt. They're abhorrently hard to kill, to such a degree that they might be the worst balanced part of Warmachine Mk 3 (nah I'm kidding, Throw Power Attacks still exist... ). To a lesser degree Thorn is a very important contesting piece - Temporal Distortion plus Dodge and Set Defence is a patently unfair combination. 

Assassination then?

Offensively, assassination is not a huge win condition for this list. In mk 2, it absolutely was. But losing Revive in the direction assassination game really did hurt her a lot here. Had I chosen Defenders rather than Grenadiers for this list I'm sure I might have had a different experience, but the short range of the Grenadiers, the fact that the Charger generally stay a bit back pulls her ability way down here. That being said, she's not exactly bad here, a caster with Domination, Force Hammer and good output herself (or rather the unit has good output) can never be bad at assassination.

Defensively, I feel many people think Haley3 is weak to assassination. I typically disagree on that point. With Temporal Distortion, Dirge of Mist, Arcane Shield and new focus camp rules, I think Prime Haley is very hard to assassinate. Typically you will have one or two trenchers who can smoke up infront of Prime mid and late game after you have dropped Tactical Supremacy from them as well. 

The main thing to be wary of are Throw Power Attacks. This is one of the reasons the Ironclad was included in the list, being a large base he can body block many Throw assassinations. If you successfully eliminate that path of attack Haley3 rarely dies.

"Don't let them throw anything at me!"

So attrition

Yeah this is where Haley3 REALLY shines. So far I have only lost the grind once in Mk 3. Admittedly, this is partly since I haven't dropped her into very many lists that have the rare combination of traits to beat her in the long game. Versus the lists where cloud effects block LoS, keep calm and smoke up. If you have to choose between a half-bad attrition turn and just pressing two or three inches extra and getting a great turn after that, definitely go for alternative two (unless you're way behind on scenario, I guess). 

One of the reasons you do so well attrition-wise is simply that there are literally 4 points in the list which do nothing for attrition, Rhupert. He's there to keep Haley alive. Everything else is just geared to slowly (actually quite quickly) grind whatever it is you are facing to dust. List damage output is great versus heavy armour, it's great versus infantry (I guess if someone came with a Mk 2 style spam I'd have a tough time), and it's very strong defensively. Jarle of Courage of Caspia-fame (link here but honestly if you've found my blog you've know of his already) put it well: 

It baffles me how well haley3 can "receive" an alpha sometimes. I say receive and not tank because she doesn't really tank it. It feels like my opponent is punching the air. Sure he might strafe something here and there but the alpha rarely connects.
After first picking up the list, I realised the grenadiers were the work horses of the list and I was afraid to lose them. Upon actually losing both quite early, I quickly found it barely mattered. The same thing happens if your opponent somehow can shut down your echoes well a game, except for making allocating to your Grenadiers a bit more difficult, you still have enough to get shit done. Same goes for the Storm Lances, if you face someone who can get them shot off the table reliably, just focus on getting work done with the rest of your army. Whatever dies, you've got something to pick up the lost output. 

Part of the amazing attrition game is great focus redundancy - if you can't punch something with Past Haley, just allocate instead. If you can't allocate, shoot with Future and throw a Chain Blast. If you can't do that, Revive a Storm Lance or a Trencher. If you can't do that, go back to the beginning or come up with something else. You're almost never out of options. 

A drawback with a great attrition game is that you have to play long games. Six or seven turns per player isn't very uncommon for me. This leads to 2 problems in particular: 1) you get tired as fuck and the last game of the day often sucks, and more importantly, 2) Haley3 can avoid losing on scenario and assassination as long as you play well. If you're playing a 6 turn game, you have to position correctly for both scenario and assassination 6 times. If you fuck up once you typically lose, assuming a player of equal skill.

Be more aggressive than you feel comfortable with!

At least I think you should. This is probably the point I need to improve on the most myself. It sort of ties into the play style I described versus control casters with giving up scenario and board pressure for attritional advantages. Versus most lists you can probably afford to sacrifice parts of your attrition game to reduce the risk of you losing on scenario quickly. A couple of my latest losses with Haley3 came partly because I made the mistake of being too cautious.

Don't give them names, they're there to die.

The list's inherent survivability combined with some recursion and personal output from the warcaster choice means you can be most aggressive with your list than you think. Losing Trenchers doesn't hurt very much, neither does losing Storm Lances, for instance. I mean, of course, ideally you want to lose nothing, but you can afford it.

Admittedly, this principle might lead to me losing more games to assassination. There's no great counter-point to this argument, except to tell myself to position better I suppose. 

Bad match ups

Bad match ups for Haley3 would typically be lists with a high volume of very accurate attacks. On top of that, it probably needs to come together with a way to punish the army through a LoS-blocking smokewall. Contrary to some opinions, choosing a list which can reliably kill an echo per turn does not do enough to give you an advantage unless you can do it VERY trivially. Losing an echo IS a big tempo loss but the echo is coming back and whatever was spent to kill it typically won't. 

I'll try to go into some detail about some of the worse match ups for Haley3. Honestly even the bad match ups typically aren't bad per se, but maybe a bit worse than 50-50.


My experience with the Lylyth3 game is that how good a match up this is for Haley3 correlates almost perfectly with how bad you can make her assassination run. The game WILL come down to Lylyth going for the kill, and sometimes she will get it. You have to build a Fort in front of Prime Haley using Storm Lances and the Ironclad. The exact formation is up to taste and availability of terrain, but at the very least you can place two large bases base-to-base, push Haley3 into the crevice created behind them to stop the Bolt Thrower from pushing anything, and maybe stick a second Storm Lance in front of that. 

Sadly you cannot just keep Haley3 far enough back to stay safe. The reason is two-fold, firstly Lylyth3 can reach you anyway, and secondly, if you do you might actually lose out on the long game. If you keep Prime back far enough, you definitely can't get the Echoes to cover anything worthwhile with Temporal Distortion. Why? Because you'll have to take your gunline and fuck the dragons up in melee. Surprisingly, this works.

Retribution of Scyrah

The problem presented by an army with Deadeye and an ability to ignore cloudwalls for a turn makes Ossyan a strong drop versus Haley3. If Ossyan runs one unit of MHSF you might be able to play it, since he has to choose between killing the Trenchers and killing the Grenadiers the turn he minifeats. If he runs two units with UA, I don't know what you'll do. Without trying it, I think the only shot you get is hoping Ossyan moves up to feat or whatever the same turn so you can kill him in return.

Still the strongest caster in Ret.

Other than Ossyan, Kaelyssa and Issyria can be problematic for Haley3, though not to the same degree. This is assuming they run Discordia and a Hyperion, if they don't I think the edge goes back to Haley3. The combination of a colossal with tons of boxes and Disco bubble (and the ability to protect said Hyperion with feat or Inviolable Resolve plus Arcane Vortex), plus the ability to attack through the cloudwall hurts our favourite Haley. 

Kara Sloan

Surprisingly not as bad as it seems. Dig In does a lot to keep your army alive and deliverable, and this is probably one of the few match ups where you want to push for a speedy scenario win. Way worse if Sloan runs Storm Lances who can run up and remove Dig In from the front ranks. For her personal safety, Haley can push her defense so high even Kara Sloan is unlikely to kill her. Somewhat similar to the Lylyth3 match up, I feel.


I think this is a playable match up, but I have trouble pulling it off. You have to get within 10'' to get damage onto his army, and if you do that you're pushing up close to Madrak2 with a large number of living models. This isn't great. Even so, I do think it's playable, but I have chosen to play Haley2 into Madrak2 instead.

Karchev Mad Dog Spam

This list doesn't really full-fill the same criteria as the other ones on this list. This list is simply an abomination with too quick, too cheap, too many boxes backed up by a very hard to kill warcaster. Maybe there's a game here, considering the Mad Dogs aren't great at killing high-defense targets, but they could just slam their buddies and then get work done. A better player than I might pull this off.

Topical picture.

Alternate builds

This is far from my strong suit, I'm the type of player who finds a list they like and then play the fuck out of that list (or switch factions, but I'm bad at exploring different lists for the same caster). I've seen variants with Defenders in the battle group which I think could work well; the longer range obviously helps the assassination game a fair bit. 

A more dude spam list utilising perhaps Sword Knights, with or without Trenchers could maybe work decently and take advantage of how many lists tend to skimp a bit on anti-infantry in the early days of Mk 3. 

Maaaaybe viable?

Early on I did consider changing the entire battle group out for cheap heavies, something like running 4 Ironclads or 2 Stormclads plus an Ironclad or something like that. The Ironclads in particular utilise Temporal Distortion very well, 14/18 with 30 boxes are great value for their points. Similarly to the Grenadier build that would be a rather focus heavy list, which Haley3 can pull off. I never tested the list for two reasons: I think it would be too slow, and more importantly, the grenadier build is so strong. 


Haley3 is the fucking bomb. If you want an incredible attrition caster with surprising durability both regarding scenario play and surviving assassinations, look no further. There are likely many more strong builds for Haley3, but this is the one I'm playing. I hope this post has given you, the reader, something worth the time investment. I'd love comments, questions and further discussion on anything Haley3, either here, a forum or privately. I'll leave you with the immortal words of Olov Winroth, fellow Swedish Cygnar player:
1. Play Haley3.
2. Summon echoes.
3. ????
4. Profit.  


  1. Excellent writeup, thanks! I guess I have to finish painting Haley3 now, and give it a spin... :D

    1. You definitely should! Haley3 is strong and fun :) Admittedly, my unit has been merely basecoated for a long while now... I'm going to finish them properly this week :)

  2. Haley3 is really good, and sometimes you can even make a mistake or two and not loose she is that forgiving :) Thanks for the write up, I play a bit different list, but the basic idea is the same :D
    1. Play Haley3.
    2. Summon echoes.
    3. ????
    4. Profit.
    One important thing you mentioned I keep on forgetting, is to switch Arcane Shield to Haley after round 1. I just very often upkeep AS, becouse I always do it with other casters...

    1. Haha I had the same problem earlier, I always wanted to switch a turn too late. Learned my lesson after getting Haley2 assassinated while in a commanding position too often!

      What kind of list are you playing? :)