Burning Insider 1 of 2: MkIII in the Protectorate

I started playing Warmachine with Gorten Grundback’s Mercenary battlebox. After a brief period, one of the locals decided to offload some Protectorate models, and, well, it was a quick conversion for me from there. This was back in the MkI days, and it led to many years of burninating the countryside for the glory of Menoth. It was a journey that taught me the joy of denial, the simple glee of forcing an opponent to completely rewrite their battle plan on the fly since “No, you can’tcast spells this turn” and “Actually, you’re all on fire” and the like. This was before I even ventured into the realm of theme forces, adopting Wanderers Of The Faith and teaching many folks that under the right circumstances (which can be manufactured a lot more easily than people expected), Allegiants of the Order of the Fist are fantastic denial tools, and Idrian Skirmishers will mess heretics up for days.

So now we come to MkIII, and Jason Soles has bandied about his little teasing Insider. Let’s take a meander through his ramblings and determine whether or not there’s a wrack in his future…

Flavour

The Protectorate of Menoth has always been a faction with a great deal of internal synergy. Many of its models were, in a vacuum, subpar for their points, but once you started layering in the support models, their value on the battlefield would skyrocket. The Vassal and Choir made warjacks spiffy, and playing against the faithful meant that your opponent’s main goals were often to take out the support models, and then hope they had enough oomph left afterwards to take out your front line beatsticks now that they were missing their buffs. While there’s been some tweaking and realigning, it looks like this is still largely the case.

In addition to retaining internal support mechanics, it looks like the Protectorate is regaining some of its individuality in the denial stakes. Several times now it’s been touted that Purification has been removed from all other factions. This is not to say that there won’t be denial elements elsewhere, but with the redefinition of Animi and other game-wide adjustments, the Protectorate becoming *the* anti-magic faction by intentional design makes me smile.

Before we go into the tweaks, I do want to point out that yes, a number of them do come across as nerfs, but with the global change to things like how Warjacks are fueled (read: Power Up) such changes are a necessary evil for the good of the game. I have no problem with this.

Reclaimer Gatekeeper

First off, new name. Huh. Second, the card shows damage tracks for two models – neat, since they’re FA 2. I’m not sure why they lost a point of MAT, but gaining Reach for what’s clearly a polearm is a good thing. The back of the card got a complete overhaul…

Gone are Communion and Soulstorm. No longer can a Reclaimer use Souls to fuel a Warjack, and now we no longer have a solo that is essentially immune in melee to being charged by single-wound non-reach models. I’m going to miss that one.

Gatekeeper has been replaced by Soul Keeper. The Reclaimer can no longer hold up to five soul tokens, and use them to boost attack and damage rolls. In exchange, though capped at a maximum of three soul tokens, the collection of souls is no longer limited to models dying from enemy attacks or continuous effects. Now a soul can be collected from a model dying from, say, a friendly whack in the back of the head, if you really need to fuel:

Soul Mastery. This is where the Reclaimer Gatekeeper needs to earn h is keep, since he’s no longer a self-boosting beatstick and bubble of auto-death.

Soul Mastery comes with the ability to grant Ashen Veil to a target model (which, it should be noted, the Gatekeeper has itself, meaning most of the time he’ll be DEF15 against enemy attacks). It also comes with Glimpse of Fate, granting Future Sight and making your boosting that much more efficient for your warcaster or warjacks. Third, Obscuring Haze puts a 3″ cloud effect on the Gatekeeper, so you can use him to further conceal your squishy things.

All in all it’s a complete rejiggering. As much as I miss Soulstorm, I like where it’s heading.

Warjacks

The Vigilant is now an Obstacle. I find thing hilarious, and much easier to take advantage of than Girded.

The Redeemer now shoots three skyhammer rockets without needing to spend focus. I know many loved the Redeemer in MkI and MkII but it was never a big  hit for me because of how focus hungry it was. Now? I may consider laughing manically.

 

The Reckoner has lost Assault, though the Condemner has gone up to POW14. And lo, I sadfaced. Assault on the Reckoner was one of my favourite things. That said, I can freely admit that the Reckoner has always seemed above the power curve for its point value; I can respect the need for the change.

Blood of Martyrs garnered special mention in the Insider due to the challenge involved in making him shine with Thyra’s cat and mouse game. Gaining a point of MAT for a warjack that’s nominally themed after an assassin warcaster is a good thing. Before? Parry, Hand of Vengeance, and an Affinity with Thyra that granted Sidestep. Now? Parry’s gone, but Sidestep is now an intrinsic ability, its blades have picked up Greivous Wounds, and when played with Thyra, Blood of Martyrs picks up Apparition for an extra 2″ movement every turn. Combined with what it can potentially achieve with Sidestep and the extra MAT, Blood of Martyrs may see more tabletime in the near future.

The Faithful Masses

The Choir lost +2 to Attack rolls on their Hymn of Battle, and the Holy Zealots followed suit, losing their +2 from Prayer of Fervor. I may or may not be concerned about the stripping of attack buffs from the Protectorate.

On the other side of the coin, the Zealots can now gain immunity to fire. Not only does this mean you can avoid accidentally blowing up your own little dudes, it also means you can use the Holy Zealots to screen models like Flameguard Cleansers, who can spray purifying flame through the Zealots and onto their attackers with impunity.

The Monolith Bearer got tweaked as well – rather than granting single turn immunity to all the things, which was fantastic if you could predict your opponent’s alpha strike correctly, you can now use Greater Destiny reactively, bringing back all models from the unit that were destroyed in your opponent’s last turn. They live, they die, they live again.

The assorted Exemplars were also upgraded, the Errants through their command attachment, losing Pathfinder and Quick Work with Assault. So that’s who stole it from the Reckoner! Their seneschal also now grants Unyielding. The Bastions and Cinerators are now each 5 wound models. The Bastions drop to POW11 weapon masters but gain Set Defense, while the Cinerators gain Immunity: Fire (finally!) and Vengeance. Wait… Vengeance?? A most excellent ability and an opportunity to set more heretics on fire, most assuredly! On a unit of 3-5 knights with multiple wounds it won’t trigger as often as it does on my Dawnguard Sentinels, but I’ll take it.

On the Flameguard side, Daughters drop to DEF14 and gain Stealth, which I think has been missing for far too long, the Cleansers can no longer Incinerate but thanks to Ashen Veil gain a little bit of survivability, and the Cleanser Officer became a lot meaner.

An extra point of STR, an extra MAT and an extra POW on the blade means he’s a more significant threat in melee. Melee on Cleansers? Why??? Wait, wait… he lost Bushwhack and the ability to create a wall of flame, but instead picked up Ashen Veil (as did all Cleansers), and… Assault! Dammit, that was on my Reckoner! With the ability to ramp up the Purifiers to Spray10, you’ve suddenly got a greatly increased threat range for the entire unit of Cleansers.

Continuing with the cleaning and streamlining, Deliverer Skyhammers now have true Combined Ranged Attack. Keep it simple. Alright.

Next time

I’m rapidly approaching 1500 words on this one, and I haven’t even touched on the Warcasters yet, so we’re breaking this one up into two part. That, and the need to adult is cutting into my blogging time; patience, grasshoppers, we’ll get there. Part two on Monday!