So, some initial thoughts time. Keep in mind the information we have is not the whole picture. We don’t know all the rules of Mk3 yet and the information we have is clearly not everything. Whether the cards are early playtest versions, second to last versions, etc. so the below is based on that information. That information may change very quickly once the official rules drop so take the below with a grain of salt and for discussion purposes only.
I’ll start with the Warcasters.
Rahn – Effectively the same with some minor tweaks here and there including DEF and passive abilities. Gains as does everyone with the Power Up mechanic but this really lets him utilise his strong spell list. His Feat is still geared towards magic users which is a little annoying but he is still a great toolbox. With some other improvements such as Sphinx increasing magic RNG, AFG increasing RNG in general, Artificer being cheaper, Discordia being a boss I’d say Rahn has improved slightly but this is more to do with the units which interact well with him. Cheaper Chimeras are also nothing to sneeze at although the Phoenix is still a solid workhorse. He still has a great toolbox though his Feat is pretty one-dimensional.
Issyria – Also effectively the same although two minor tweaks. Inviolable Resolve is just that little bit better and Blinding Light is not restricted to just units anymore. The MHSF is not as potent as before which were one of her great units to throw damage around and threat assassinations but the rest of the units available are still solid and with access to Nyss this was an expected balancing with an unexpected bonus. She will still be as good as ever and gains some ground with those minor tweaks along with the general changes to Power Up.
Kaelyssa – Significant changes here, significant. We’ve had her card for a while and I think she’s going to be one of the casters you can go a few ways with. First off, her Feat is better – still the same but rules out some of the silly little things that could be done to circumvent it (along with rules changes in that regard). She has more ammo types and importantly is one of the few dispel options available for Retribution, still messes with Focus and Fury and now can shoot to make Warjacks stationary (rather than using a spell). Refuge is a great mobility spell and cycling it around can get a lot of out of activation movements rolling including for Kae herself, Blur can make some very annoying unit formations (looking at that new and improved Dawnguard) and Phantom Hunter is effectively the same but now a spell so easier application across the Battlegroup. All in all, she’s definitely different and I think only time will tell if she’s better but I personally think she’s gone up just a little bit. She has a high demand on her focus for spells (cycling) and shooting though so the addition of Power Up and improvement to Arcanists are really important here. Sylys for everyone is nice as well.
Ossyan – Okay he’s improved. Next!
Seriously though, Deadeye solves one of his major issues (namely being able to hit with all the ranged attacks), you still have a deadly assassination vector with MHSF though there are a lot of other shinies there that might make this combination less seen (i.e. Nyss Hunters). His gun still reduces DEF and now has a SPD reduction rather than run / charge restriction. Still decent RNG and POW. Future Sight Field Marshal further helps with hitting for his Warjacks and with Power Up, is able to run a much larger battlegroup without issues. His spell list is otherwise identical with him trading Chronomancer for Deadeye and his Feat remains the same.
So some really simple changes and I think he has jumped a long way. Changes from other models such as the AFG, Hypnos, Banshee, Nyss Hunters, etc. (even if it’s just points reduction) lead to a very deadly shooting list. Throw in some jammers or annoying melee units like Halberds / Sentinels and you’ve got yourself a buffer as well.
Ravyn – Blaster is better but she’s otherwise the same. Ravyn was my first love for Scyrah and is the only way to access Snipe for anything. She will likely still see play with Hyperion for this fact alone though the significant changes to theme forces and MHSF will see her on the table less I imagine. She still has the odd mix of combat and ranged spells without much to keep her safe / strong statline if she’s playing up front. That being said, the general loss of Pathfinder across other armies seems like her rough terrain templates may mean that little bit more… I imagine through changes to everyone else and theme forces, Ravyn simply moves down the list of casters to reach for.
pVyros – Changes to Birds Eye are a positive change IMO as no longer can models shoot by you and stay in your arcs to avoid free strikes. It will remain to be seen what further changes this may have with the full rules. For now though, I’m happier with this. Spell list and stats are otherwise the same, the main change for pVyros is his Feat which is now much better – Flank [faction warrior model] is really easy to trigger and gives a damage and hit bonus to all Warjacks. This does limit the list design space somewhat as you want enough models to take advantage of this but pVyros still has Mobility to improve his Battlegroups speed and Hallowed Avenger for some extra mobility / attacks. He still helps an infantry unit with the improved Inviolable Resolve but not much else and nothing like eVryos’ +1 to hit for all Dawnguard.
All in all the change for his Feat is a welcome one and he still has a nice array of support spells and with the addition of Power Up / changes to Arcanists (how many times is that going to be said!?), he now has more Focus availability to utilise these more. I feel though that his epic incarnation will still see a lot more playtime and he is outshined by other toolbox support casters like Issyria / Rahn.
eVyros – feat improved slightly, particularly given the field is unlikely to be all Warjacks now (outside of the old Tier). You can now move models multiple times but it’s a smaller distance – off the cusp I feel this is slightly better but shall remain to be seen; potentially just a move laterally. We still don’t know what Helios does but most of those models have been changed only slightly so Power Up + Broadcast is going to be crazy good. Synergy cap means the Griffon bullets aren’t going to be as silly as they were but still cheap, sturdy and powerful. I imagine we’ll see more heavies thrown in (hey Sphinx) in light of this. Oh ya, and Dawnguard. Invictors / Sentinels both have improved quite a bit just in their standard units and with an effective +1 MAT/RAT (so 8/7 for Invictors and 8/5 for Sentinels), they are very accurate when around Mr Vyros (who can still move forward and back during an activation). Throw in Deceleration and they are a lot sturdier than before which now also impacts the Warjacks – Griffons are still likely the go to spammable and cheap Warjack though by staying the same cost they are effectively worse (given all other Warjacks have really decreased in effective points). The Dawnguard also have access to Pathfinder through Easy Rider via Mr Vyros which is more able to see use with Power Up + Arcanist changes. With 3 Arcanists he can fully load four Warjacks and have a Focus to spare – that’s a lot more power than he had before and doesn’t even take into account Sylys. Again, this means more options to use his other spells such as Easy Rider, Twister to protect key units / locations on the board or even throw around a Lock the Target (though I don’t think Arc Nodes are going to be the first models reached for in his lists). I expect to see a lot of Imperatus, Aspis, handful of Griffons + some heavier Warjacks and then Dawnguard + solos to taste. You can totally fit all of that into one list…
Thyron – basically didn’t change – there are some general changes (such as Storm Rager costing 3, wording on some of the spells and Side Step not ignoring Free Strikes) but his stats, spells and abilities are all the same so in general he is still in the same place – a solid combined arms caster. I know the common theme for everyone appears to be Thyron is a not a good caster and is missing a unit or two (i.e. his houses medium based unit) to get the full picture but other than a change to MHI, he’s still a solid all-round caster. Power Up / Arcanists help him use his Field Marshal ability more efficiently and the general improvement in the Dawnguard help the infantry spells he has (though Sentinels have less need of Onslaught). Storm Rager still has plenty of good targets in Scyrah though the Fain Knight In general, I think he remains where he is – a good combined arms caster but probably slips down due to the increases if some of the other casters such as Ossyan, Issyria, eVyros, etc.
Garryth – I never played Garryth in Mk2 so don’t have much play experience to fall back on but his feat is obviously much improved and now impacts both Hordes and Warmachine. Add in Acrobatics and he can actually do what he’s supposed to – put the scare into enemy Warcasters/Warlocks. Significantly. He still lacks anything of a threat extender for himself (though there are still options within the army such as Battle Mages, Artificer, etc.) and has no escape means unlike say Thyra (how cool is Gates of Death) or Grayle (Sprint). He lost Death Sentence which is unfortunate as could really assist in those distribution curves and ensuring a hard to hit target was hit but replaced it with Heightened Reflexes and Sentry. Heightened Reflexes will be useful in keeping units where they want to be but I highly doubt Scyrah is ever getting a Tough option that would combine really well with this. Sentry opens up a lot of possibilities that make Garryth want a strong shooting battlegroup – Hyperion is the obvious choice, maybe with a AFG babysitter to give a range boost, though double shooting Hydras, Banshees, Phoenixes, etc. are also not a bad option. The lose of Arcane Assassin does drop his personal assassination vector down a little bit but Acrobatics keeps the pressure on opponents nonetheless, particularly with that new and improved Feat. Overall though, while much improved, I still don’t see him taking the field much unless Reflexes pairs with something else (Healer…?) really well.
Heylnna – The new warcaster and I am super excited about her (and Tanith). Runs Warjacks really, really well with a pretty simple spell list. Damage / to hit buff for Warjacks, Arm buff for everything, two nukes and a reposition upkeep for Warjacks. FEAT is all about upping ARM and making Warjacks function at their highest capacity for a turn regardless of damage taken. Also replenishes Shyeel shields. I’m loathe to call this part of the FEAT a trap but have seen a lot of people avoiding Vyre Warjacks hard because of this. While I’m not endorsing flipping it and take all Vyre Warjacks, a Sphinx and / or Banshee can do a lot for her lists in terms of being a strong beatstick (potentially a cheap one, too) or the gun effects. +3 RNG for Magic adds a lot of threat to Helynna herself while everyone knows the joys of slams, correct? I foresee her running a lot of movement infuriating (Gorgon, Banshee, Manticore, etc.) and ARM skews with her with high levels of Warjacks, maybe one unit, smattering of solos to up the Warjacks (3 Arcanists). Either way, looks good on paper, easily one of the better Battlebox casters and I think will be a good player into Mk3 depending on how the meta unfolds.
I feel that each of Scyrah’s casters improved although I was a bit disappointed with the change to MHSF that their feats were not opened up as much (though Heylnna’s new Feat is not just an extra die + ability which is nice). This may change with new caster releases but that being said, I don’t feel like any of the casters got worse. There were general improvements across the board simply from the changes in how the game mechanics are applied and changes in units / solos. Other than Kaelyssa who was completely reworked, most casters got a few minor adjustments that made them better at what they were intended or covered some of their weaknesses. It’s far too early to say which casters are going to be the best, we still need the whole picture, but I expect to see Issyria, eVyros, Helynna and Ossyan the most with honorable mentions to Kaelyssa and Rahn.