Thursday, July 9, 2015

Warmachine: Reckoning Review - Protectorate of Menoth

Last time, I went over the new Cygnar models in Warmachine: Reckoning. Next on the list is the Protectorate of Menoth and its new shinies. Some of which are incredibly shiny, as they seem to be on fire.

Review starts after the break!

Anson Durst, Rock of the Faith:

Efficacy: 4/5

Anson Durst is a fascinating design, because he allows Protectorate to do two things it had various issues with before: get its warjacks across difficult terrain and run a proper brick. Protectorate has had a warjack solution to difficult terrain with Amon and Mobility, but Amon's competitive difficulties have left their warjacks wanting when they come across shrubs and rocks. Durst has Boundless Charge to fix that issue, and unlike Amon, Durst is much less likely to fall over dead. Durst also allows Protectorate to run a really solid brick of warjacks and warrior models - something it could do before, but not to the degree that he is going to facilitate with his feat and spells. Finally, Durst himself is a tough sonofabitch, boasting the highest native ARM of any warcaster in the faction, and he is easily the most melee capable (only being one MAT and P+S below the Butcher in terms of hitting power, which is damn fine company to be in). The only thing keeping me from rating Durst higher is that his play style leans towards bricking up/putting models into B2B for defensive bonuses, which can be very tricky to do and maintain the tabletop (especially depending on the scenario).

Meta Bending: 4/5

See much of the previous section. Durst facilitates running Protectorate in a way that it sort-of ran as before, and dials it up several notches, while also solving one of their biggest battlegroup issues. Durst's feat is also a huge swing in terms of durability and survival for his army (Durst himself is going to be near invincible on feat turn and his warjacks will be very difficult to significantly damage) which may be a breath of fresh air in a meta that seems to be running high on ways to smash heavies off the table. Time will tell with Durst, but I'm hoping his introduction into the faction will help to shake up the list sets we're all used to seeing or playing in Protectorate.

Coolness: 4/5

I have no great love for Protectorate models or fluff. But Anson Durst has a pretty damn cool set of rules, and an excellent model on top of it. I really appreciate how PP was able to distinguish him from other Protectorate 'casters while still feeling unique (in spite of how easy it would be to make his kit get lost in the sea of "defensive, denial" stuff already in the faction), and being willing to make him a personal badass on top of all that.


Revelator Artwork
Efficacy: 4/5

The Revelator is, in many ways, what I think everyone expected out of a Protectorate colossal when the Judicator showed up: lots of big, scary guns that are only going to get bigger and scarier when back up by Choir/Vassals/'caster buffs. The Revelator focuses more on direct shooting than carpet bombing, with the added bonus of leaving firey templates in play that are sure to give infantry fits (considering that they do damage and set you on fire when you enter or end within them). The biggest thing that the Revelator brings to the table is that it personally ignores Stealth, Concealment, and Camouflage, and it's Light Bringer secondary guns remove Concealment and Stealth from models hit. This is a massive boost to the previously waning Protectorate gunline - Stealth heavies, solos, and 'casters are now just as vulnerable as anything else. That would be scary in general, but with the potency of Protectorate battlegroup shooting, it is every more terrifying. Invest in Shield Guards kids.

Meta Bending: 4/5

I may be wrong as hell here, but the Revelator feels like an open door invitation from the devs for the return of the Protectorate gunline. It won't be as effective as it was in days of yore - mainly due to changes in scenarios forcing more aggressive, central play and punishing retreat in a lot of cases - but it will remove some of the biggest match up obstacles that seemed to cause that style of Protectorate list to fall off. The Revelator also seems to grant a second lease on life to Severius2, and it in general feels more applicable than the Judicator across 'casters in the faction (as its easier to maximize 4 direct shots vs. 4 scattering templates). I'm still not sure how much Protectorate battlegroups want a colossal - they're sort of stuck in a mid-ground between Warmachine and Hordes with how it interacts with their style of play - but it definitely seems like a more consistent, enabling, and potent option than the Judicator was. I think the release of the Revelator will lead to more Protectorate based colossal lists showing up, and it just may bring some new 'casters into the competitive mix as well.

Coolness: 3.5/5

The Revelator is a colossal - cool enough to begin with - and it hurls around big fireballs that scorch the earth itself while also lighting up targets to allow other members of the battlegroup to contribute to the fire fight. That sounds pretty damn cool to me.


Like this, but with arms, legs, and flails.

Efficacy: 3/5

Melee lights of any stripe have it rough in the modern meta, and melee light warjacks are (at base) kind of useless. It takes some serious shenanigans to pull them up to snuff - Synergy being the most common candidate - and when you're talking warjacks, it is difficult to not just invest in a heavy and save yourself the effort. The Purifier brings a few things to the table to make a solid case for itself. It causes fire on contact, which may be useful for trying to remove some solos, and combos nicely with it having Overtake. It has access to Combust after charging (though only if you can engineer the Chain Attack somehow), making it one of the best sources of that anti-infantry ability in the game. And finally, it comes equipped with two P+S 13 Chain Weapon melee weapons, which gives it respectable hitting power for a light with Choir, and conditional excellent hitting power against heavies with Shields (simulating the effects of being P+S 17 against the same target). Not too shabby.

Meta Bending: 2/5

"Not too shabby" for a melee light warjack is still, ironically, not likely to set the world on fire. There is still only ever so much focus to go around, though thankfully the Purifier doesn't need a lot to do even a base level of work. There are at least two places that jump out as interesting for the Purifier: 1) Feora2 because "duh, fire", and 2) Amon ad Raza. Amon is more of a gut feeling than anything concrete; he seems to want to run multiple warjacks, and can theoretically bolster them up with Synergy, so having lights with two solid initial attacks that can also do some anti-infantry work seems alright. But being interesting with Amon ad Raza doesn't count for a lot, and I'm not even sure if that idea bears much merit in the long run.

Coolness: 3/5

How can the Purifier be cool when it is so damn hot!? Dumb jokes aside, the Purifier suffers heavily from being a melee light warjack in a game that has sort of left that design space behind. It is helped tremendously, however, by being loaded down with special rules (relative to most melee lights) and given a very clear, fun purpose: beat your opponent's models to death with flaming flails, and set everything that lives on fire. Its hard to not get at least a little excited about something like that.

Hand of Judgment:

Take this, make it a heavy, and teach it to love fire
but hate everything else.

Efficacy: 4.5/5 (with everyone)

The Hand of Judgment (hereafter HoJ) is what everyone pictures in their mind when they think of a Protectorate heavy warjack: it is firey, beaty, and does way too much damage. HoJ is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Ace. Whereas that model was good with it's owning warcaster and unimpressive most everywhere else, HoJ is fantastic with just about anyone, and extra fantastic with Feora2. HoJ brings awesome melee damage output (made all the better by Choir), a very potent gun, and a damage buff to the most common typed damage Protectorate can produce. The only thing keeping HoJ from a full 5/5 is that its spray is "only" SP8 (thank all that is good and just with the world for that) and that its fire damage buffing aura isn't "enemy" only, so it may work against the Protectorate player sometimes. Those things aside, HoJ is one of the best character heavies to come along in a long, long time (especially for Protectorate players).

Meta Bending: 3/5

For as amazing as HoJ is, I'm not sure how much of an effect it is going to have on Protectorate builds. I'm sure it will show up in plenty of lists - it is more than worth bringing for its abilities, let alone the fire damage synergy - but its SP8 makes it a weird fit for a gunline, and its fire damage buffing aura isn't especially useful for a melee list. It is a testament to how great the backbone warjacks are in Protectorate that I don't imagine lists fighting tooth and nail for this character, but I'm sure it will see plenty of use. One interesting thing about HoJ is its fire immunity, making it yet another thing that Protectorate can throw at Legion from this book.

Coolness: 4/5

C&P the hot and cool joke from the Purifier. HoJ doesn't excite or impress me in concept - again, no personal affinity for the faction - but damn if the raw efficacy of this model doesn't make up for that in spades. HoJ brings melee output commensurate with the Avatar of Menoth (it's only a little behind in the key areas) while also providing a damage buff, self focus efficiency (if you can get fire on the target), and a crazy strong spray (unbuffed, its POW 16 against anything 2.1-5" away). Why, if Khador ever got a character warjack this good, I'd be ecstatic!

Pyrrhus, Flameguard Hero:

Efficacy: 4.5/5

Ye gods, is that a nasty combat solo. For some wonderfully crazy reason, PP saw fit to give Pyrrhus great defensive stats for a solo, plus two conditional defensive stat buffs, plus a way to make himself immune to non-magical melee and ranged attacks. On the offense, he has three attacks base, along with the flexibility of making either two Reach attacks, or two Beat Back attacks (so he can be shoving around heavies). And on top of all that he brings Relentless Charge for himself and nearby Temple Flameguard. The only thing keeping him from a 5/5 is that his melee output isn't bonkers (merely "really good") and that 3 point combat solos are a tough fit in most lists.

Meta Bending: 2.5/5

That last point is the sticky one: 3 points is a tricky number to free up for most things, let alone a (mostly) combat solo in a faction already bringing plenty of melee beef. Pyrrhus also sort of wants to have Temple Flameguard around to help ferry him into melee (he's not exactly vulnerable with his stats, but he's also beefy and expensive enough to try to pick off early), so he's likely going to be slotting into lists that already have Temple Flameguard (and bring along some extra hitting power/Pathfinder) or lists that can otherwise protect him (Harbinger, Durst). I don't see Pyrrhus revolutionizing any Protectorate lists, but I do see him being effective and useful when he does show up. Just like most of the combat solos out there.

Coolness: 5/5

I am legitimately extremely impressed with Pyrrhus. PP managed a hat trick: its a model from out of nowhere (i.e. no spoilers/teasers/inklings), with really good stats and abilities for its role, that also has a cool design/theory behind it. The only thing that can thwart Pyrrhus at this point is if his model ends up being bad, and even that would only dock him down to having great rules attached to a not-so-great model (not at all uncommon across WM/H).

Protectorate of Menoth Overall Release Rating: 3.5

Averages are funny, huh? Protectorate had some highs, but also some dips (though nothing universally low), which maths out to being around a 3.5. Practically, I think the faction ended up somewhere closer to a 4, but I didn't allow for 3.75 so here we are.

Totally arbitrary numbers aside, I think this was a great book for Protectorate players (especially after the wet noodle that was Vengeance for them). Durst brings to the faction a legitimate rock of a 'caster that also happens to hit like a truck (basically Lawful Good Butcher) who brings a stronger take on a playstyle that, a) Protectorate is naturally set up for, and b) is desirable in the current meta. Hand of Judgment is a fantastic character heavy that will be useful with any 'caster and just so happens to sync up well with one of the best 'casters in the faction. Pyrrhus is an absolute beast that adds a heavy punch element to Temple Flameguard, or just a really good character solo in general.

The Revelator and the Purifier are the entries which seem to be the most "wait and see" in terms of how they will play out. From the outside looking in, the Revelator seems terrifyingly effective and fits much more effectively into the Protectorate battlegroup than "scatter and pray" Judicator, but I'm no authority on the subject. The biggest issue that the Revelator faces is that Protectorate, like many Hordes armies, seems to get more out of several heavies than consolidating their points into a single target (especially since colossals can't benefit from Enliven, arguably the backbone of Protectorate battlegroup survival).

The Purifier is...a melee light. Which may not be the best place to start, but at least it is trying super hard to be useful and compelling.

Overall, I think Protectorate came out of Reckoning with several models that will enhance their playstyle, including the possibly amazing things that the Revelator can do for the return of the Protectorate shooting battlegroup. None of what anything does in this book is strictly new, but it does reinforce how Protectorate plays in interesting, potentially very effective ways (this, by the by, seems to be a theme for this book overall).


Next up: the new releases that will be wandering the frozen lands of Khador (and presumably anywhere they decide to invade). Until then, thanks for reading!

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