Tactica Time: Sentry Stones

Sometimes I swear that studio painters are Gods - how the crap do you blend wood veins like that?

Prologue:


Ah Sentry Stones, what a rough ride you've had. Originally trash, then brought to prominence by Bradigus' theme force, then elevated to absurdity and now....balanced? 

Hopefully. 

This unit is one of the main reasons that Circle exists as a competitive faction. They allow you to clear infantry, deny LOS, contest zones, kill support models, snipe out solos, finish off battered heavies (charging Mannikins will do some work), and to top it all off, you're very hard to kill. 

Who wants to play Sentry Stones:


Simply put, every warlock in the faction wants Sentry Stones in their list if it's not in theme. They create a mobile bunker of safety for your Warlock. They clear off your heavies from jamming models. They provide excellent targets for things like Hellmouth and auto KD punches from the Woldwrath.

Quick note about those two things:

The Woldwrath can center a 4 inch AOE on any model that it hits (including friendly models). With it's two inch reach, it can extend that AOE to almost 5 inches away from it, catching high DEF enemy models for your other guys to destroy. By putting your Mannikin at exactly 2" from the Woldwrath, you can make massive swathes of guys fall over.

Hellmouth is a spell that Wurmwood has, and it can also trigger its effect (which drags things within 3 inches 3 inches towards the target and puts down a POW 12 AOE 3). I've had opponents spend 10 minutes carefully premeasuring their unit placement so that things were 3.1 inches away from eachother, only to have me run a Mannikin up into the middle of their unit and kill most of it by targeting the Mannikin.

BE AWARE that you CANNOT target friendly models with spells of ANY kind if they are out of formation. Premeasure carefully. 

Their utility is nearly limitless. 

I will go more into general strategies in a few moments, but for now let's go over exactly how their rules work, since this is often misunderstood. 

How to not cheat when playing Sentry Stones:





A couple of very important timing and rules related points:

1) You place a Mannikin during Maintenance Phase if you have less than three of them. This Mannikin can be placed anywhere in command, which is a six inch distance from the edge of the Sentry Stone's base.

Remember, since it's not completely inside command, you can extend out this placement very far.

This allows you to get into models' back arcs or aim or both, leading to essentially RAT 8 sprays.

The horror stories of Sentry Mannikins shredding units usually comes from this kind of placement, as they're not accurate enough to hit high DEF models without boosting otherwise.

2) At the same time, you roll a d3 to add to their fury pool if the Stone has less than three fury on it. This is actually a fantastic time for this to happen.

Since these are simultaneously timed, you can choose the order in which they happen. ALWAYS roll for Fury first. This will let you make a plan for your turn before you place your Mannikin. If you only roll one Fury for example, maybe your guys are charging that turn instead of spraying.

3) You can pay a fury to place a 3 inch forest on the Stone at ANY point during the Sentry Stone's activation. This means that you can have them run, place the forest, and then Weird Growth the Sentry Stone up if you want to leave a nice little concealment patch for a Stalker or other prowl solo.

You can also do it the opposite way, where you run/charge the unit, port the Stone up, and then make the forest.

4) You cannot move the Stone AT ALL except by it's own weird growth. Nothing can slam it, nothing can pull it, nothing can drag it, nothing can place it.

This is an amazing defensive ability since it means your opponent can't TK it closer to them, move it out of the forest, or slam it out of a zone.

It also means that you can't teleport it with Shifting Stones. Make sure to plan out your placement for these guys at the beginning of your turn, since you can't change it once you've committed.


Alright, what are they good for:





I typically think of my Sentry Stones as having one of several different "modes", depending on the game.

1) Infantry Shredders/Jam Removers

Sentry Stones are really good at killing infantry IF they only need to boost the hit OR the damage roll.

If they have to boost both to reliably kill, then they will not be very successful in killing massive amounts of infantry.

Thanks to their ability to place in back arcs and aim, Mannikins are better at spraying down High DEF infantry than they are at killing High ARM infantry.

In the early game, I use the Mannikins to pick off the closest infantry models. Typically I only get about a turn of this before the lines are engaged. The second turn, I place a Mannikin to spray as many of the enemy infantry clogging my lines as possible and use them to unjam my heavies.

2) Solo hunters

Thanks to their ability to boost multiple times, there are no better models for removing annoying solos in the entire faction.

Need Orin gone? Boost boost.

Need Kell to not be alive? Or Alten or Saxon or Pendrake?

Same answer.

If you get to place the Mannikin on your turn, you can hit models that are just over 20 inches away from the nearest edge of the Sentry Stone.

Remember, Sprays ignore cover, concealment, Stealth and LOS (as long as it's not blocked by an obstruction or 3 inches or more of forest), so many defensive abilities are useless against them.

3) Finishers

I cannot count the number of times I've sent a Stalker or Megalith or some other heavy into an opponents Heavy/Warcaster/Objective/random infantry dude and failed to kill it by a point or two of damage.

At MAT 5 and PS 11, the humble Mannikins actually put out a fair amount of damage on the charge or when boosting damage.

Against a DEF 12 ARM 19 target with two boxes left, a charging Mannikin that boosts to hit has a very good chance of taking it down.

Don't be afraid to charge or make melee attacks with these guys, they're very good late game finishing pieces since they can be fairly accurate and do a few points of damage.

4) Contesting/Controlling Scenario Elements

In SR 2016, there are couple of important points about how these guys interact with Scenario pieces.

The first of these is a new addition to the rule set, and we can probably blame the Stormwall and it's pods for this - immobile models cannot control zones or flags.

The second of them is that 50% of a unit must be alive to control a zone or flag.

And an honorary mention that all models in a unit controlling a flag have to be within 4 inches of said flag or inside of said zone.

This means that the Sentry Stone itself cannot control a flag. DO NOT place the Stone base to base with it. You MUST place a Mannikin in contact with the flag in order to control it.

The great thing about Sentry Stones is how easy it is for them to have 50% of their unit alive (one Mannikin plus the Stone is all you need) and within four inches of the flag or inside the zone.

Late game, it's often very hard to kill an ARM 18 model with 8 wounds, and so I've found that sitting the stone in front of the Mannikin and building a forest every turn while the Mannikin camps the flag or zone can be an effective way to get points.

5) Piece Trade Openers

Guys, other people hate Sentry Stones with a passion, and many factions have exactly one effective way of dealing with them - sending in a warjack or warbeast.

Be ready for this to happen, and if possible be ready to counter-attack with your own Warbeasts.

I've traded a Sentry Stone for Ruin, Titan Gladiator, Titan Sentry, Tiberion, Reckoner, Scourge of Heresy, and many, many other models worth 3-4 times its point value.

Don't throw them away, but if you see an opportunity to place the Stone in such a way that it will be impactful and require an opponent to invest a heavy into killing it, do it! Just be ready to kill that heavy afterwards.

6) Mobile Forest Safety Wall

Circle Warlocks can be among the safest in the game and still be fairly close to the fighting thanks to the mobile forest wall these guys provide. You can't kill what you can't target, and with two forests hiding your squishy Warlock, your opponent is going to have a hard time doing that.

7) Fury Management with the Gobber Chef

The quick and dirty - The Gobber Chef gives every friendly warrior model (living, undead, construct) within 3 inches of it Comfort Food, which allows a Warbeast that is a Friendly Faction Warbeast to "eat" the Warrior model to remove any number of fury points during Control Phase.

The Warrior model has to be within one inch of the Warbeast. The Warbeast can be living, undead, or construct and so can the Warrior model. Every single Warrior model within 3 inches of the Gobber Chef gains this ability, so you can use it on multiple Warbeasts at the cost of eating multiple Warriors.

The timing here is the important part - the Mannikins from the Sentry Stone get placed during Maintenance (before Control Phase), which allows you to place the Mannikins next to the Warbeast and in the Gobbers command to clear off Fury. I've used and seen this trick used to stop Frenzies that the opponent is planning on happening. It's always fun when an enemy heavy is parked in charge range of your Feral because they think it's going to frenzy next turn.



Random Stuff that will Come Up:





Mannikins are constructs, which means about half the feats in the game don't work on them (Sevy 2 for example), and they don't generate corpses or souls for your opponents when they die.

They are immune to anatomical precision because it only hits living or undead models.

They don't care about RFP effects because every time you place one it's a "new" model, not a returned model.

They don't allow your opponent to snack on them. They're immune to Fertilizer (super niche Circle keyword for the non-Circle people out there).

Basically just make sure that what your opponent is doing affects all enemy models, not just living or undead ones.

Their sprays are magical weapons, so go ahead and blast incorporeal models and Menoth jacks to your hearts' content.

The forest stays even if the Sentry Stone dies.

Conclusion:


These things are the absolute bomb. Their (terrible) stats will make you wonder on first glance why they're so popular, but boosting, placeable aiming sprays will straight up murder light infantry. The LOS denial they create is immensely powerful.

The skill ceiling on this unit is sky high, so don't be discouraged if they don't do much work for you the first handful of times you play with them. They're the real deal - put in the practice, and they'll become your opponents' least favorite models in the game.

Thanks for reading!