A Menite's Concerns: End of CID Week 1 Reaction

Here we are, Menites and heathens, in the throes of another CID and the inevitable combination of excitement, anticipation, confusion, and disappointment, all characteristic of any of these testing processes, sets in. 

What better time, then, to use my little platform to talk about the issues the Protectorate faces, in the light of the context of the first week or so of Community Integrated Development on the Exemplar theme force. Where are the problem children, what is the cause and root of the disappointments (though few) that there are? Here I want to go through, model by model, the pieces relevant to the current CID that we are looking at longingly on our shelves with wonder about whether this chance to see them bettered will pass us by, or if maybe we'll get to give them a fresh paint job and watch some heretics burn. 

The Vanquisher

The mighty Vanquisher. In the light of the upcoming CID, and partly because they are bundled in with the two player starter set that is the easiest way to get your hands on Cinerators, I ended up with two of these bad boys before CID started. There was no way, not in a thousand years, that the Vanquisher would be ignored in this CID, given that they had been more than willing to bring in various Warjacks to these processes and the Vanquisher may well be the absolute least played model in the entire Protectorate arsenal. 

You can imagine my surprise. Let's go over a little bit about what the Vanquisher does, why it is so maligned, and why I think it receiving love would be a huge deal. 

The Vanquisher sits on the Crusader chassis, the weaker of our two chassis by a margin. At SPD 4, MAT 6, RAT 5, DEF 10, and ARM 19 it boasts no particular stat that is terribly exciting, but... that's Protectorate 'jacks in general, our flavor comes not from our stats, but our special rules, of which the Vanquisher features exactly.... one. 

Its weapons are the Flame Belcher and Blazing Star. The Flame Belcher makes it one of our 'premier' shooting heavies, alongside the Reckoner. This is a RNG 10, ROF 1, AOE 4, POW 14 gun which is fire typed and causes continuous fire. Its Blazing Star is a RNG 2 melee weapon, PS 16, with the Chain Weapon trait. The Blazing Star also has the Thresher special attack; between Thresher and an AOE 4 gun at a decent pow and automatic continuous fire, this is an anti-infantry focused 'jack, though we'll talk about that as we go. 

Lastly, the Vanquisher is 17 points. This puts him at the highest point cost available to any heavy warjack in the Protecorate arsenal besides The Avatar, Eye of Truth, and Hand of Judgement, while also being one of the least efficient and effective 'jacks we have. 

Thresher is largely a wasted rule here, given that it has a tiny melee threat of 9", much less one that is digging into troops in any kind of large numbers, and sits at a top end of MAT 6, meaning it's having a hard time consistently hitting most basic troops. The weapon barely carries a dual role as an armor cracker, though, given that it has the lowest potential melee output of any heavy warjack in the Protectorate, with only a single base PS 16 attack. The gun is where the money may be for the 'jack, but it has an extremely short range overall, with a cap of 14" of threat without outside help, and putting it well into the range of most dangerous infantry when it is firing, leaving you hoping the attack works out or you're at a high chance to just lose this viciously expensive piece for not much gain. To reach the kind of threat saturation you need to make the gun properly effective, you end up needing either a ton of other anti infantry support, at which point why are you taking the Vanquisher, or taking multiple Vanquishers, which is prohibitively expensive. 

The reason the Vanquisher would be a big deal for the Protectorate is its effectiveness against some very specific matchups; alongside another out for cloud walls, for example, it can act as an answer to things like Gravediggers lists, which have a tendency to like clustering up to get their work done and the AOE 4's causing fire means that Dig In isn't the same degree of protection it normally would be. Further, our anti-infantry pieces in Creator's Might are highly expensive, meaning any of them being more effective would be extremely helpful for that theme... but the Vanquishers extremely slow SPD exacerbates the scenario issues already inherent in the theme, while also not threatening enough to make it worth it. Overall, you lose an insane amount vs. other 'jacks in exchange for an AOE 4 continuous fire gun, which is pretty decent, and a really bad thresher, but at a higher point cost than anything else available. The Vanquisher desperately needs help. 

Exemplar Vengers

Vengers are a weird creature. At SPD 8 they're reasonably quick for Exemplar, and boast the MAT 7 common across all Exemplar models. At 12/17 their statline isn't impressive, but it's... functional. They are of course cavalry with a P+S 14 Blessed Magical Lance and a 0.5" sword, P+S 9 weapon master with the Close Combat rule, not allowing this sword to be used on a turn the model charged. They have a POW 12 mount, and are 20 points, 12 points for a min unit. 

The thing that is strange about Vengers is how their stats sit alongside their primary rule, Battle Driven. Typically speaking, Battle Driven is designed a bit similarly to how our 'jacks do with Hymn of Battle; they tend to (though not always, Knights Exemplar being an example) hit a little less hard than you would hope, but should hit a little harder than you would expect with Battle Driven active. However... Vengers are in a weird place where, when compared to other similar cavalry, they hit considerably less hard while Battle Driven is not active, but.... just match other models when Battle Driven *is* active. A very interesting comparison is actually them alongside Iron Fang Uhlans. Now, I'm typically the first guy to say don't make direct cross-faction comparisons, but the one between Uhlans and Vengers is particularly interesting, especially given the similarities in unit support available to both the Protectorate and Khador. Uhlans have the same basic statline as Vengers across the top, and their lances are P+S 16, the same as a Venger with Battle Driven already active (I'll talk about Blessed in a minute.) They also have Relentless Charge, giving them Pathfinder access that, again, Vengers normally have to take a hit to gain. Wall of Steel gives them a very consistent +2 ARM bonus which is active from the very first attack made on them unless they are pulled apart somehow, again, a bonus the Vengers need to take a hit to gain. Then they have Steady, as well as Critical Knockdown on both the lance and the mount. 

The Vengers have one advantage here: Blessed. This is where Vengers are so weird; they underperform almost every other heavy cavalry unit (Sorry, Destors...) UNLESS the opponent has, quite specifically, a spell based ARM buff. Now yes, Blessed works on spell based DEF buffs as well, but MAT 7 charging cavalry needs to be fighting into a pretty sizeable DEF value before that matters too much. In the very specific instance of a spell based ARM buff, Vengers win out. However, in all other instances, the other unit is far more effective. The comparison gets sillier when you compare them to extremely strong units like Storm Lances. 

We end up with a unit that has a very difficult time feeling worth 20 points, given that they are basically forced to throw 2 members of their unit way forward as a sacrifice in the hopes they get attacked and, typically, killed before they can match the power of other, similar pieces. You could put one up there, sure, but you need to put up enough that it's a threat that needs to be dealt with in most cases. To further confuse the issue, Vengers under their primary caster, Intercessor Kreoss, become highly effective pieces, him fixing... most... of their problems just by existing, but that leaves them in an extremely narrow place for their point value. We've been told that Vengers are in a 'good place' but... very few people seem to feel that way. 

The Vessel of Judgement

This one isn't getting talked about a ton right now, but... that's part of the issue. In the Battle Engine CID, the Vessel hit a point of being very strong... only to be pulled back last minute in a pretty massive way. Losing a point of SPD and 2" of gun range acted as a near death sentence for the piece, on top of its fairly exorbitant cost. That said, the Vessel isn't a 'bad' model exactly; the gun is effective, especially in conjunction with other buffs, but at the end of the day it's hyper slow, requires two mechaniks absolutely dedicated to it at all times or it starts melting itself away, and overall just... doesn't have the output it needs to for how much of your army points it digs into. It makes the problems already inherent to Creator's Might far worse, doesn't support that list style in any real way besides being a gun and helping repair things on occasion, and compares... poorly... to other, similar pieces elsewhere. In Exemplar Interdiction this already high cost is made far worse by forcing out a free option by being used, making it an effectively 25-26 point investment overall if you want to use it. The Vessel could be a lot of help to our list designs if it was costed appropriately... but that's the issue that comes up with nearly every gun available to the faction, if it's designed around an anti infantry role. Unfortunately, this alongside the Vanquisher is a piece I just don't expect to see in this CID, and I have no idea when we will get another chance to take a look at it. 

Conclusion

My intention writing this wasn't about salt or anything, more to just... verbalize the concerns I've had in a more succinct way, and just get across that the concern here is off the back of us having no idea when we will get a chance to take a look at these pieces again. The CID cycle is an extremely long process before it reaches back around to a faction, this being the first look at rebalancing any real number of pieces in this faction in the nearly two years since Mk. 3 dropped outside a few tweaks here or there like the Battle Engine CID or some fixes to Deliverers and Zealots during the Themepocalypse. There are other things I could address; the Revelator and Judicator both probably needing to be cheaper to be competitive options, the Castigator just... in general, some weird support pieces like the Reclaimer Gatekeeper which are functional but almost never featured in lists due to their kind of generalized, unfocused rules, the Vassal who is seeing less and less play outside special cases like Amon as we realize how expensive of basically a 1 focus per turn bot he is... these are the same worries every faction has had in every CID, and every cycle has come out the other end with some disappointments as far as things getting changed or not, or things not getting changed enough. 

If none of these pieces see any real change in the CID... well, so be it. In the end nothing really changed for us, beyond an opportunity to make something exciting slipping by, and we got other new things to play with while the models continue to sit at home, waiting for their day. After a while, when the Exemplar CID is long behind us and we've gone through a rotation of all the factions, we can take a look at them again when the next iteration rolls around. Overall, the new stuff featured in the Exemplar CID is very exciting, and many of the legacy changes are quite good, and we still have another week or more of testing to get them into a great place. So remember we've got great stuff coming, and always always ALWAYS keep an eye out for a place where these pieces might have a home, even if they don't receive changes directly. You never know what bit of gold you might find. 

Thank you all for reading. I'll see you around!