I could be painting tonight, or redesigning my Clash of Clans village, pining for miniatures for factions or games that I don’t yet own, or stalking Kickstarter for updates on the projects I’ve backed. Instead, I’m sitting here at the keyboard pouring out musings because the trumpet was sounded and I have heard its call.
Someone, somewhere, told a tweeter that I was the Amon Ad Raza guru.
Now, I’ll preface this post with the response I gave the enquirer: I don’t think I’m an *anything* guru – I don’t tend to win tournaments, I don’t put lists through an established gauntlet to determine competitive level, I screw up card interactions and can never bloody remember the exact wording of feat X – but I’m very familiar, and very comfortable, with Amon’s theme force, so I’m happy to share my thoughts on the Wanderers of the Faith. Lord knows I’ve babbled enough about it on the podcast 😉
Let’s start by looking at what’s allowed in the theme.
- Non-character Warjacks
- Holy Zealots
- Idrian Units
- Allegiants of the Order of the Fist
- Idrian Solos
- Vassal Solos
Of course, there’s one glaring absence for everyone who’s used to considering Amon as a ‘jack caster: No Choir.
This is the crucible in which the Wanderers are forged… but it’s also the manner in which they are set free. More than anything else the Wanderers are a high mobility army, and the Choir – Menoth bless ’em – are little more than an anchor around the neck of an army that wants to spend every turn after the second on your opponent’s half of the board. As with a number of other theme forces, the key to making this one work is to forget how conventional wisdom says your warcaster should be played. You need to move your thinking out of the box.
As much as Amon is built to run a swarm of light warjacks, he is also what can be colloquially referred to as a Super Solo. He’s squishy – ARM14 doesn’t go a long wat – but a MAT8 P+S14 Reach Chain Weapon with the option to Smite or Thresh, especially when potentially boosted by Synergy and/or Flagellation? Our boy can wreck house. Yes, he’s only DEF16, so keeping him alive is something that needs to be on our minds, but Groundwork and Perfect Balance also go a long way towards helping. The Super Solo role is largely what he’s here for.
Tier by Tier
- Tier 1: –
- Tier 1: Idrian Skirmishers are FA U, and the FA of Allegiants goes up per unit (any) in your list
This is your first clue as to where the list is going. Idrian Skirmishers and Allegiants are going to be key to the success of your army. Idrian Skirmishers are already FA 2, but the Allegiants?
With almost any solo in the game:
1 of them can prove a distraction
2 can be a mild annoyance for your opponent
3 or more? Now we’re talking about messing with their heads.
Tier three is where this is really going to kick in, so it’ll make more sense when we get there, but if you’re playing this theme force and you’re NOT running at least three Allegiants, you’re not doing it right.
- Tier 2: 2+ Units of Skirmishers
- Tier 2: Add a free Idrian Skirmisher UA, ignoring FA
Idrian Skirmishers are one of the most maligned units in the Protectorate of Menoth, in large part because of their cost. A full boat – 10 Skirmishers and the Unit Attachment – costs you 13pts normally, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow when we’ve got things like Errants and Temple Flameguard out there.
The thing is, the UA takes an okay combined arms unit, and makes them freaking nasty. They already had high mobility with Pathfinder and Advanced Deployment, and could do some damage with CRA’s… but add the Chieftain and Guide and the unit gains another two rifles, another two swords, CMA, Prey, Assault and Battery and a minifeat that can almost guarantee you’ll be delivering them.
With one of them being free as a tier benefit? The full boat of Idrians goes from being 13 pts, to two squads at 11.5 pts each. That’s not a bad price for a unit that can stack its effects to potentially unleash a RAT20 POW25 ranged attack.
More on that in a minute.
- Tier 3: 3+ Allegiants
- Tier 3: Allegiants gain Advanced Deployment
Ah, my favourite tier. See, here’s the thing with Allegiants: They’re normally forced into the second wave. Under normal circumstances, on the first turn you have the option of either running them into the middle of the board where they want to be to be effective, OR walking them up and putting them in their defensive stance. At that point they’ve got their DEF17 rocking, but they’re only about 1/3 of the way over the board.
In the theme force, however, they start an extra 6″ up the board. At that point, on the first turn you can walk them into the middle of the board and activate Shifting Sands stance.
This is important because it’s the Allegiants that enable the rest of your army to get into position. You move them up to engage shooters. You move them up to stand in charge lanes. The average Allegiant can’t be relied upon to hit on a charge, but on a free strike, those P+S9 Weapon Master fists are a serious threat to all but the hardiest of targets, and can’t be ignored.
Your opponent can’t afford to ignore them because if he does, they will move into better positions each turn – including ignoring free strikes to saunter into the back arc of that Nightwretch they were really hoping to arc through next turn. At the same time, their in-stance DEF of 17 means that *almost universally* your opponent is required to roll above average to hit. If they do hit, you’re looking at a Tough roll that – if it works – means your Monk is now knocked down, but is *still* DEF17 and will stand up for free on your next turn. If they miss? Your monk just got a free 7″ move to reposition to annoy something else… and they’re *still* in stance.
My favourite story of this sort of thing was against some Khadorans. I did my first turn. The Allegiants were in the middle of the board and in-stance. My opponent began his turn.
- Winter Guard Rifles shot at the Allegiant, missed. It moved.
- More of the same unit shot, missed. It moved, engaged some of the Winter Guard that hadn’t yet shot.
- They swung in melee, missed. It moved to engage a Destroyer.
- The warjack swung, missed. The monk moved – it’s fourth free move that turn – and engaged a Mortar that hadn’t yet fired that turn, and now had a charge lane on Sorscha.
That 2pt solo had effectively absorbed the activations of over 20pts of opposing models, was denying the Mortar the chance to shell my Idrians, and had a line for a back-arc charge on the opposing warcaster.
If my opponent hadn’t taken all those shots at the Allegiant, I still would have been able to walk it into the warjack and negate it, or stand in something else’s charge lane.
More on that in a minute, but yeah – there’s a reason Allegiants are my favourite solo.
- Tier 4: Light warjacks only
- Tier 4: Each ‘jack is automatically allocated 1 FOC at the start of the first Control phase
When I was at my first Templecon, I spoke with David “DC” Carl, and he imparted on me some theme force wisdom that’s stuck with me over the years.
You don’t have to play to tier 4.
If you like an earlier tier, if you don’t like the restrictions of a higher tier, that’s all fine and dandy – stop where you’re happy. Me, I never played it at tier 4. My model collection doesn’t include 10 Dervishes, so the idea of running the Light Swarm was never high on my list. Instead, I stopped at tier 3, took a pair of heavies, and looked to the Idrian Skirmishers to do the dirty work.
Putting It All Together
There are two principles on which the Wanderers of the Faith operates.
1. Threat Vectors
Threat Vectors is a concept especially familiar to Retribution players, who will often design lists that spread out individual models that can – any 0f them – potentially end the game with an assassination. This playstyle relies heavily on your models having high mobility, and you can do that with the theme thanks to the Idrian’s inherent speed w/ Pathfinder and Prey Bonus, the Allegiants being SPD7, and Amon and his battlegroup having Mobility on the table.
Since there’s very little in terms of Control Area effects, there’s nothing stopping you spreading your list out across the board. If you spread your Idrians to run down each flank, your opponent has a choice: They either mobilize toward one side at which point the other flanking unit can run into position to assault their back lines, or they divide to cover both flanks at which point their central line is weakened, and you’ve got potential to punch through with monks and warjacks.
That’s the rub.
- Each unit of Idrians is a potential assassination threat thanks to CRA, CMA, Prey, Assault & Battery.
- Allegiants may not be a huge assassination thread, but dice spikes happen. You *are* rolling 4d6 on the charge damage roll, after all.
- You’ve got a 22″ threat range with an assaulting Reckoner with potential for Crit Fire, but more importanly a DEF debuff to make the target that much more vulnerable. Feel free to bring a Vassal of Menoth to get a second shot while you’re at it.
- You’ve got a minimum 11″ threat range from a charging Templar, who can then Beat Back to get deeper into lines
- Oh, and then there’s Amon himself, with a 13″ threat range that can ignore defensive spell buffs and Tough (Flagellation). Oh, and Synergy’s still on the table if you’re into that sort of thing.
2. Forcing Dice Spikes
Amon’s DEF 16. Allegiants are DEF17 in-stance. Idrians are DEF19 under their mini-feat. Your Warjacks have access to Enliven, and under Amon’s feat they ignore free strikes too, just to be rude.
When it barrels down to it, the percentage of models in the game that *can* boost their attack rolls is much lower than those that *can’t*. Accordingly, against most targets your opponent is looking for dice to spike on their attack rolls. Even a large portion of the models that *can* boost their attack rolls will be looking for 11+ on 3d6 to hit.
Almost across the board, your opponent needs his attack dice to spike to hit you. It *will* happen, you *will* lose models, but the law of averages mean that more often than not they’re going to miss, and their activations will have been for naught as your monks move through their lines, get in their way, and deliver five toes of justice to the face of the heretics.
As with any theme force, there are good matchups and there are bad matchups. You will learn over time which these are, but I found more often than not I was largely comfortable against most lists. Saeryn’s Flying Circus? I took the fight to it and the entire game happened within 4″ of her deployment zone. Goreshade Bane Spam? I took out every damn Bane Thrall on the board and still had active survivors in both Idrian units.
I said I don’t tend to win tournaments, but this theme force has put me on the top table more than once. It is capable, and since internet wisdom will tell you that Amon lists without Choir are all trash, it’s a fair bet that your opponents won’t have prepared for it at your local Steamroller, and you can rogue the snot out of those cocky sods. MUHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA
So there you have it, my general thoughts on Wanderers of the Faith. I do suggest giving it a try – if you’re not careful, you might just have fun.