a.k.a. School of JVM
I think we can all agree that Gatorman Posse are by far the most powerful thing in Minions outside the casters.
The beasts, with the exception of the 3pt Bull Snapper, are rather mediocre for their points, the solos are designed to be used in other factions as much as this one (easy to see when you see 2pt Witch Doctors in Maelok's theme force - the very Gator caster where Witch Doctors are most powerful). Slaughterhousers are pretty good too, but not near Posse-good.
You can also see this in the recently released World Team Championship lists, where both Minion players are taking Blindwater in both their lists, both players have chosen a Rask/Maelok pairing, and both players are taking 3 full units of Gatorman Posse in each of their lists. Despite the similarity, the lists are not identical and worth checking out for their minor yet important differences.
There are two lessons to be learned from here:
1) Min/Maxing list building involves taking as much of the best stuff as you can:This approach to list building is very visible when looking at the JVM School of Legion, where you take multiples of the same awesome thing that does one thing awesomely well - double Ravagore, double Angelius, double Scythean, double Deathstalker, double Forsaken, double Shepherds... and fill in with a few excellent support pieces like Spawning Vessels, Shredders or Spell Martyrs. You can even see his lists for the event here.
|The man has his own t-shirt. I mean, what the hell.|
- Rask + 3 Posse + 3 Heavies + Snapper + Feralgeist
- Maelok + 3 Posse + 3 Witch Doctors + 3 Bull Snappers + WE/Snapjaw + Pendrake
The Rask list deals with any amount of ARM short of multiple Devastators, and will likely get the alpha-strike because of the feat. You have 3 heavies (2 Horrors and a Wrastler) with lots of initial attacks who maximize Fury well, and 3 Posse with Fury will blow up anything. No Bog Trogs means Rask is at some risk of assassination, but he will probably be camping a fury or two at all times since every time a heavy charges, it is probably dead next turn (next level fury management). And it is hard to shoot anything with 15 Gatormans in your face, jamming you out of scenario. Plus he has Admonition if things get hairy.
|Stuff blows up.|
The Maelok list can outgrind almost anything with tons of natural ARM, tough and Spiny Growths on the table, and deals well with defense otherwise (esp. against Hordes with Pendrake - Gatorman Posse with Beast Lore can pretty much kill anything in Circle/Legion without any trouble). It is prone to getting shot by monster gunlines, but that's why you have the Rask list. Clearly, in this list Maelok is just a buff bot who stays back protected by Spiny Growth, upkeeping Death Pact, and Revive a Gator or two a turn while his Snappers run hot on Fury. Why take a chance?
Barnabas, while being a really strong caster, is not as good as Rask and does not offer the same level of skew as Maelok. I think as an all-around tournament choice, he is probably more reliable than Maelok in dealing with Rask's bad matchups, but in a team event you want to skew like a boss, and Reviving ARM 20/22 Gators allows you to do that much better than Iron Flesh and Swamp Pits.
2) Team events encourage skewing lists more than solo eventsBecause of the way matchups are determined (on a team level rather than a tournament level), you have more incentive to skew your lists (emphasis strengths AND weaknesses) since your team captain can pair you up against a faction where you are especially strong and doesn't generally have a good silver bullet for your weaknesses.
For example, given the option, you would put the Gator player against Ret since Rask + 3 Posse will absolutely demolish any Ret list (Maelok will do fine against anything but Ossyan), and try not to put him against Cryx weaponmaster swarm where possible, because Banes > Gatormans.
You can kind of see this by looking at Khador's most popular caster for the event, Butcher2. Anyone who know anything about Butcher2 knows that his random focus mechanic is basically the death of him in top-notch competitive events, but his theme force is the biggest BS skew list this side of Skewville and Skewzakistan.