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Field Guide: Kaelyssa, the Night’s Whisper


Welcome to my first Field Guide, a semi-regular series of tactics articles for Warmachine. Or it will be, if I write more than one.

As she’s my favourite angry elf at the moment Kaelyssa, the Night’s Whisper, is first up.  As I’m far from being an expert, this is also written as a checklist my myself.

For veterans out there, please note this my take of our Strike Force Commander, and may be coloured by the fact I do not own certain Retribution units yet, in particular Sentinels.

Anyway, read on more ill informed tactical advice…


Vital Stats

Looking at Kaelyssa’s stat line, and few things stand out. Firstly, she’s a 16/14 caster. While defence 16 is nice, armour 14 will not keep out a stiff breeze. This is unfortunate, because while Kaely wants to be fairly close to the frontlines to shoot beasties/support solos/warnouns, even power 10 electro leaps will quickly put her into the danger zone.

Running this elf is a balancing act.

Beyond survivability (or lack thereof), her stats are ok, but not great. RAT 7 and Focus 7 are the two key ones on her profile. You will be using these a lot. Her Command also requires a special mention, because is lower than any other Mage Hunter. I have no idea why, but Kaelyssa apparently isn’t very good at telling anyone what to do.

It is also worth mentioning she only moves 6, not 7. For some reason my opponents always think she’s faster than she actually is…

Beyond this, Kaelyssa has the Pathfinder, Witch Hound and True Sight abilities. While Pathfinder is a little ‘meh’ and is normally taken for granted, the other two very important to how she plays and what she can do.

Witch Hound allows anyone in her battlegroup (that includes Kaelyssa folks) to make a normal advance and attack if hit by a spell. Besides making Kaelyssa almost impossible to assassinate via magic attacks, it has the possibility to completely screw up your opponent’s turn. Kaelyssa can steal focus/fury, knock stuff over (Banshees are great with Kaelyssa), or engage/attack the enemy or even walk away from a dangerous situation, all in your opponent’s turn.

Witch Hound can be so potent that anyone who knows how it works will often avoid slinging offensive spells around your battlegroup to avoid triggering it.

The other ability, Kaelyssa’s True Sight, is one of only two abilities in Retribution which straight up ignores Stealth (the other one being Discordia’s spray). Combined with Phantom Hunter (more on than later), there is no hiding from this warcaster.

Wizard Hunting Kit


It’s a trap!

Kaelyssa has a sword and a runebolt cannon. Don’t worry about the sword, you will not use it. Ever. On paper, it looks good at P+S 12 and with energy siphon, but it’s a trap.

Kaelyssa should never be in combat unless something has gone very very wrong.

The runebolt cannon on the other hand should be standard issue for all Mage Hunters. Its great! OK, power 10 does not look too good; but continue reading… It has a 12″ range, shoots up to three times and it has the energy siphon rule…

Energy siphon is one of Kaelyssa’s signature abilities. Basically, it enables her to steal focus or fury from all warnoun. The chef use for this is to screw with focus and fury camping, the side bonus against hordes opponents is to mess with their fury management.

Spelling It Out

The magic hate continues in Kaelyssa’s spell list. She has both Arcane Reckoning and Banishing Ward to protect her units. Normally in my army, Arcane Reckoning goes on my Mage Hunters because they have Stealth (no stray magical AOEs for you sir) and Banishing Ward goes on the Invictors.

Her third upkeep, Phantom Hunter, normally goes on Kaelyssa herself so she can use that lovely gun with impunity and just annoy people with it. Of course, Phantom Hunter is also great on any heavy jack with a gun (that would be all of them) but in particular anything with high power and range; normally this makes Banshees and Hydras the best targets.

Against Warmachine opponents her final upkeep, Backlash, normally sets up any assassination run. Although Backlash itself never causes enough damage itself to finish a warcaster, it does soften them up enough for the rest of the army to finish the job.

Finally, her two offensive spells tend to be a little maligned but with the inclusion of a certain mercenary warcaster attachment (looking at you Mr Wyshnalyrr) both become very credible spells. Boosted by Arcane Secrets, Rift in particular will eat units.

And remember, True Sight and Phantom Hunter affect magic attacks also. This can setup attack vectors that your opponent literally won’t see coming.

Where Did She Go?

Strangely, Kaelyssa is also the only Mage Hunter without Stealth. However this is offset by her feat which gives Stealth to everything in her control area for one turn. And better still, those models also cannot be charged.

Its main use is to deliver our very offensive infantry in relative safety. This makes it one of the better defensive feats, but because it is purely defensive it can be very easy to forget. Basically, Kaelyssa should be popping her feat turn one or two every game.

Bringing It Together

So, that is Kaelyssa. She has a curious toolkit, is very flexible, and is the archetypal combined arms warcaster. In that, she exemplifies the Retribution of Scyrah as a whole.

Like our warjacks, she is very far from being a beat stick herself, but she will keep chipping away until she, or whatever remains of her army, can deliver the final deathblow.

And this why I like Kaelyssa. Even if she is not devastating against certain matchups like Ravyn, she does have an answer for most opponents.

Just don’t let her get caught, because she will die REALLY fast.

2 thoughts on “Field Guide: Kaelyssa, the Night’s Whisper

  1. Thanks a lot for the tips! I just got into Warmachine and I knew playing Retribution will be difficult for first time cause of the synergies, but still. Love the theme and look of the Mage Hunters haha I will be playing against Hordes and got a Banshee as well as Hydra. Thought Eiryss as a commander for my Mage Hunter Strike Force, she seems to be really cool with her Granted abilities. Anyways, I’m excited to play *.*

  2. Welcome to the cause! Strangely I’ve just returned to the Retribution after playing Cygnar for the last 12 months and Kaelyssa is probably my favourite caster in the faction. This said, I have been eying up Ravyn as well…

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