So far we've been going over meat and potatoes support options, but let's interlude over to something a bit more fun for a minute: the Paladins of the Wall.
The Paladin is a fairly simple and straightforward Protectorate combat solo. On its own, a Paladin brings an extremely high MAT, decent threat range, very high P+S weapon master attack and a single defensive ability to get it up the table. In conjunction with High Paladin Dartan Vilmon and his Elite Cadre, the solo gains a new dimension of options and flexibility. So... how do we Paladin?
The Paladin of the Order of the Wall has a pretty basic card without a lot of bells and whistles; they have a purpose and they do it. At SPD 6, Paladins tend to surprise people since they definitely look like SPD 5 models. DEF 13 will also throw people off a little, expecting our fairly usual 12 associated with armored pieces. MAT 8 is well into the elite category for MAT, meaning they hit most things fairly easily, and ARM 16 is ok but comes in conjunction with things on the back of their card and we will get to that. Paladins are equipped with the renowned Firebrand sword, a magical weapon master blade with critical fire and a P+S of 13. They have five wounds and cost an easy four points.
On the back of a Paladin's card we have one rule: Stone-and-Mortar Stance. Paladins can forfeit either their movement or their action to gain +5 ARM and immunity to knockdown. This lasts a single round.
High Paladin Dartan Vilmon is essentially just a beefed up Paladin with a couple extra toys. His statline is the same aside from his MAT of 9, which ties for the highest base MAT value in the game with The Butcher and Acosta. His sword, Censure, loses the Firebrand's critical fire effect but has one extra point of damage, bringing it to 14. He bumps up to a respectable 8 wounds to chew through, but costs a considerable 6 points.
The back of Vilmon's card is much more full than a regular Paladins, and he also fills their card up a bit more himself! He brings Righteous Vengeance to the field, giving him a 3" advance and an attack during your maintenance phase if an enemy destroyed a friendly warrior within 5" of him with an attack, and has an Elite Cadre for Paladins of the Order of the Wall, giving them Righteous Vengeance as well. This also effects Champions of the Order of the Wall, but we will talk about them on their own later. Further, he has Shield Guard which is a little bit random but fits the "protector" role of the Paladins and is a great tool to have on a fairly resilient model. He, of course, also has Stone-and-Mortar Stance, allowing him to sit at the same ARM of 21 that the other Paladins do at the cost of his movement or action.
That's the basics... so what do they actually do?
Role In Your Army
Truthfully, Paladins do a little bit more than just hit hard, but that is definitely at the core of their function. In many respects a Paladin can be thought of as a slow moving torpedo that is pretty consistent about delivering itself and will eventually charge in to rip a chunk out of something.
They have a bit more to them than that, though; one thing Paladins do extremely well is tie down scenario elements. They aren't fast, or at least not if they're using their Stance to get up the table and not die, but when they get into zones or onto flags, they can be quite difficult to remove for their point value. ARM 21 with five or eight wounds typically will require a good roll, a handful of troops, a weapon master or two, or a very high value boostable gun or two to actually take down. Even fairly high damage shots like a Defender, Reckoner, or most main guns from Colossals are looking at about a 50/50 to kill a Paladin, and worse to kill Vilmon, and due to DEF 13 they often have to boost to hit which is focus that can't go elsewhere.
Where I find they really shine is when used as a full boat, running max FA Paladins of the Wall with Vilmon and a pair of Champions of the Wall. When used in a group, you can spread Righteous Vengeance across your entire army, creating a situation where nothing can really die without triggering it on 1+ Paladins, giving you a bit of a boost to make up for your guy dying. When this effect is handled in groups, and you're fairly consistently getting Righteous Vengeance on almost every model it's available to, the options that become available become huge. Their threat range gets very considerable, they even start being able to slowly mulch infantry if you can get them into melee with things and have Stance up, starting a process of Righteous Vengeance, kill a model, activate, Stance, kill a model, repeat over and over. 2-4 Paladins all focusing into a single heavy can often just outright kill it, or at least seriously cripple it, and because they're solos, if one rolls hot and cripples or destroys something, the others can decide to do other things.
Paladins also tend to sit alongside armies of very squishy troops, so they create a threat diversification issue; they just aren't killed by the same things that fight the rest of your army well, which is typically high volume but low POW attacks, and when stacked with a high threat saturation of models like Idrians, Zealots, etc, they just can't ever really be a priority and will get delivered to a fight more often than not. They solo hunt extremely well, tie up scenario elements, and just scare your opponents with extremely high damage swords to the face if they aren't super careful. Plus, you'll occasionally kill a heavy in your maintenance phase. Feels pretty good.
Themes, Themes, Themes
Paladins of the Wall have only one theme force available to them, but luckily it's a good one and they fit extremely well into it. Paladin models count towards your free point totals in The Faithful Masses, meaning they're extremely easy to slot in since they add up towards your free Idrian CA's or Sunburst Crews or whatever else you want. They can also be taken for free, and Vilmon often is since he is quite pricey, but note that if you take a Paladin for free, it no longer counts towards your free model total.
Most Faithful Masses builds tend to run quite troop heavy, in my experience, and Paladins just love that list style. If you're running more of a combined arms, half 'jacks half troops type build, you'll be hard pressed to get enough bodies onto the table to totally justify the full Paladin boat, and you may look to cutting out the three regular paladins, then Vilmon, then Champions of the Wall if they just don't fit well into the list style you're going for. However, if you are running more troop heavy like a double Idrian or mixed 2-3 units of zealots/deliverers/idrians, whatever it is, thinking of adding some Paladins is a very reasonable choice. In my experience they just perform far better on the table than they may seem to on paper, and it gives you a ton of solos to work with; a full Paladin boat + two Allegiants of the Fist is an enormous number of aggressive, forward moving solos that can swarm scenarios, snag flags, and give you a lot of activation choice as far as how you want to apply your resources.
Paladins are simple in concept but have proven to be really interesting and full of choices when it comes to actual gameplay. They're remarkably tough; some will complain that they do just die when effort is put into them, but the goal is making the effort put there be attacks that just have to go somewhere else, or are inefficient. At their low price point and counting towards free models in their theme, they fit into an army very easily and will give you some surprising options. Just avoid weapon masters or unusually high POW infantry like Mechanithralls, who all represent one of the most efficient ways to deal with a model like this. At DEF 13, ARM 21, though, I have had them face tank heavies like Wrastlers and come out the other side in good shape and still swinging; it's not likely, but their point on the dice curve just puts them in that realm where dice can fail the opponent even when they do put the unusually high amount of resources needed into killing one.
Thanks menites, and we'll see you next time.