Faction Overview: Solos of the Protectorate

Recently on 

Druid's Dice

, Jaden went over the entirety of Circle on a model by model basis, reviewing each piece as it stands in the current environment, going over its power level, and detailing what changes could be possible to fix things up a little. I thought, after some suggestion from fans, that doing the same here might prove interesting.

Protectorate is blessed (hah?) with a relatively deep model pool compared to... almost any other faction, really. We have our duds, certainly, but truthfully I can find a place (an interesting one!) for almost every model in our arsenal... emphasis on almost, of course. Some things are beyond even Menoth's ability to save.

Today we're going to start from the bottom of things with Protectorate's interesting solo options. These are the guys you use to fill out your list, and we've got a varied set with some interesting roles... although some certainly have a stronger role in an army than others.

Every piece is just going to get a letter grade (I'm a simple creature). A plus or minus acts as a half-grade in the interest of having some granularity.

A

is a serious powerhouse of the faction. These are the pieces that will appear in most, if not all, lists, and whose effect on the games in which they're played will be massive.

B

is made up of very strong, very solid options. These are the core workhorses of the Protectorate, but aren't going to shock anyone with their extreme power.

C

is average (this isn't necessarily a bad thing.) These pieces pretty much do what you'd expect at their point cost, maybe fulfill too niche a role but still perform it well, or are more likely to be a choice for a very particular kind of build designed around them.

D

is a bit under average. These pieces are a hard sell, but not beyond saving. They may have a place if you really dig for it, but really seeing these pieces is likely to cause an eyebrow raise more than anything.

F

is bad. There are few truly terrible pieces in the Protectorate but... they exist, and there's really just nothing reasonable that can be done to get them into lists without reworking them in some way.

Well there's my long worded intro... shall we dive in?

Allegiant of the Order of the Fist - B+

Is that Saitama under there?!?

I suppose as far as my letter grade descriptions go you could call this guy an A-, because he can certainly shock people, but... I don't think he's quite there due to some inherent weaknesses.

The Allegiant is a terror. For a ridiculous cheap price, you get an insanely fast, fairly accurate solo with ok defensive stats but some incredible rules. Stacking up DEF to a somewhat absurd DEF 18 with Steady and a full advance when an enemy misses, these guys require some serious thought to hit and kill, making them possibly the best zone-holder in the Protectorate. Further, once you're in melee with an enemy unit and already in Stance, you can maintain that extremely high DEF and bounce around with Side Step, cutting through troops a couple guys at a time and jamming up others. In a pinch, he's also a charging weapon master and can seriously dent up a heavy if he really needs to get in there.

The weaknesses mostly come from his reliance on DEF, not ARM, to keep him alive. Electro leaps will just kill him, boosted blasted damage works more often than not, and he'll also die to just a random high attack roll. That said, with Tough and Steady, even that isn't really a sure thing. The only reason we're not seeing these guys way more is the rise of theme forces, which so far don't feature an Allegiant.

The Covenant of Menoth - C+

The controversy starts! The Book, as it is more often known, is an interesting piece with a lot of great utility. A big part of its power back in the day was stacking a bubble of no knock down with tough, defenders ward, and whatever on Knight Errants. That bubble is considerably smaller now, but its ability to stop spells within 10" now works on Animi.

My issue with the book is since the no KD bubble can't be relied upon as much as a primary tool, you're mostly trying to get value out of the anti-spell bubble, as the ability to give a unit continuous fire on weapons is sort of ok at best. Lawgiver's Creed is absolutely back breaking into some lists, but completely useless into others. In the end, I think we have a piece that's a little stronger than your average, but is unfortunately a bit matchup-dependent. Amazing specialist if you're playing Active Duty Roster, though.

Deliverer Arms Master - D

The Arms Master isn't *bad*, just ridiculously situational. I'd throw one in with Malekus if I were to run Sunburst Crews, because getting the most out of your feat turn shots is just way too valuable for him to pass up, but... we don't see Deliverer models often (Skyhammers are awful and the Sunburst crew is good, just not necessarily prevalent), and you'll see the Arms Master in only a subset of lists that are bringing Deliverers, so what you end up with is a model that is going to see play very, very rarely. If you really build with him in mind he's reasonably useful, and if we get a Theme Book or something in the future with some great Deliverer releases, or better targets for High-Andle Fire, he could definitely rise up the ratings a bit.

Exemplar Bastion Seneschal - C-

This guy probably would have been like a D+ before Exemplar Interdiction appeared and the Vessel of Judgement CID hit, but being able to get him for free and have him help out Bastions, who may have some alright places in a couple Interdiction builds with a Vessel, is pretty decent. He's not great, the fact is to get the most out of him you have to take kind of a substandard unit in Bastions and he's pricey for just a single, albeit effective, weapon master attack, but he's reasonably tough and makes a great forward-moving Jack Marshal. Throwing a Sanctifier on this guy is actually pretty decent, and his Drive is actually one of the better ones in the game... just limited somewhat by Jack Marshals in general being a bit suboptimal.

Bastion Seneschal is a decent piece, he's just bogged down a little by the unit he's supposed to support and some opportunity cost problems. Outside running Bastions, I'd really rather have a Knight Exemplar Seneschal for free just as a nasty beatstick.

Exemplar Errant Seneschal - D-

I really dislike this solo. Some people won't agree, I've seen him pop up in lists occasionally that are working Errants into Exemplar Interdiction, but I can't imagine choosing this guy over a Knight Exemplar Seneschal and... frankly, if you aren't running Interdiction, running Errants is a weird choice anyway and as mediocre as I think this guy is, he does even less without Errants on the field. For four points you basically get a slightly better Errant, who is a little harder to kill than a regular Errant sort of because of Call to Sacrifice but even then not really, and gives Errants Unyielding. Gives the slow, .5" melee unit Unyielding. Which gets them to ARM 18, therefore requiring another ARM buff from your caster to get to a value that really matters. You gain so, so little for taking this guy; if his Leadership changed to something actually useful (please, give Errants back Quick Work), then this solo alone could actually make Errants worth it over Idrians in non-Interdiction builds, but as he is he does... next to nothing.

High Exemplar Gravus - C

Menites are not big on turning their heads, ever, for any reason.

Gravus is kind of an interesting one. I don't think he's going to shock anyone with his absurdity, but at the end of the day, if you take him, he'll go in and do some work and be solid. He's fast, very accurate, and has the ability to buy and boost attacks. He's also reasonably tough at 12/17 with essentially 15 boxes (Dragoon boxes are deceptive, it often plays out like they have more than that). Throw Defenders Ward or something onto him and he's actually pretty tanky.

If you're taking a ton of Exemplars (almost like we have a theme force for that...) Gravus is inevitably going to be a solid choice. Once he's stacked up, throw a buff like Ignite on him and have him go to town on a heavy, it's going to seriously hurt. Further, Dispel on his weapon makes him a non-caster specific, almost completely assured form of upkeep removal, which is an extremely rare thing in Warmachine. Gravus isn't going to pop up in all your lists, but if you build a list with the stuff he likes in it, he's an easy choice. Solid, average piece.

High Paladin Dartan Vilmon - D+

I love me some Paladins, but... I'm not going to pretend they're the best thing in the world. I've built lists I've quite liked with him in mind (just see my 

Thyra, Flame of Sorrow List Showcase

), but at the end of the day he's a bit expensive, doesn't have as much output as you'd like on a 6 point piece, and really just has a hard time fitting into lists. Still, a Shield Guard that's reasonably durable is nice to have around. I'd just love to see him drop to 5 points or something. Maybe Paladins should gain Blessed weapons... I don't know. He just needs a tiny bit of something to quite get to where he'll see play much.

Initiate Tristan Durant - B-

Tristan is a bit of an odd one. You pretty much take him to fuel something more effectively (often two Redeemers), and frankly his rules are largely ignored. He has a Blessed Magic Weapon which is neat, except he's MAT 5. He has Fortify, which is a good spell to boost up the ARM on a 'jack, but can't really move forward with a tough 'jack like that without being in danger. True Sight is next to useless on him. That said, he's still a junior that can fuel a couple of really good 'jacks, and in places like Kreoss1 is worth his weight in gold so... overall, a good piece, just wish he did something a little more unique for his battlegroup.

Knights Exemplar Seneschal - B-

You'd think with how much I brought this guy up earlier I'd rate him super high. The only reason he's getting as high a ranking as he is is I think he's a premier choice for free points in Exemplar Interdiction. He probably ties with Knight Exemplar Officer's for best use of those free points in most situations. Five points is possibly a little steep for him typically, but that theme force is going to lead to him seeing quite a bit of play. A free solo capable of crushing a light warjack, or seriously messing up a heavy if he wishes. Roll hot and/or throw a damage buff on him, and you'll just do absurd damage. The Baseball Bat Swinger of the Protectorate will smash enemy hard targets around, and he's very satisfying while doing it.

Further, his defensive ability, Inhuman Resolve, is probably a little better than many realize. You have to position with it in mind but you can jam him into stuff and force enemies to try and kill him first, and it makes enemy order of activations extremely awkward. He does end up knocked down afterwards, but if you're able to use it, you've still got this guy running around being a pain, and that's pretty solid.

Nicia, Tear of Vengeance - C-

Can never go without using this image for too long.

Nicia is one of the models that made me want to play Protectorate (the Daughters of the Flame as a "sub faction" of sorts are among my favorite parts of the Protectorate). That said... she skirts right around the D+ range and it's possible I bumped her up just because I love her so.

Nicia is fast, very hard to pin down, and can do a ton of work. However, she dies to damn near any boostable blast, reasonably accurate spray, or just anything that randomly hits DEF 15. You can get a ton done with her, and I think trying to play a bit cagey with her until the late game when some of the threats are gone is really the way to do it rather than throwing her out there super fast, but frankly she's disappointed me fairly often. However... I've definitely had her rampage through a game, she's got some options. Really the main thing that bugs me about her is MAT 7 at her cost and a reliance on Sprint to survive. Her hit rolls feel like they get diced super often, so anything you can do to help her hit a little bit (Thyra, Severius, Feora3, Kreoss) help out a ton. Special mention to Kreoss, since she can charge a knocked down unit and actually kill a target and fire Quick Work shots twice, which is typically quite difficult.

Paladin of the Order of the Wall - D

Not a piece you're going to see often, they don't even have Vilmon's utility of being a shield guard. They're kind of an odd piece as a combat solo in that you could take three of them for 12 points, or six Knights Exemplar for 9, with their Officer for 14, and have ridiculously more input at the cost of only a little survivability. They have a single attack, and it hits hard, and they can threaten pretty far when you bring Vilmon (which I think you always do) as well as get a bit more in the way of attacks through Righteous Vengeance once they're already dug in. Unfortunately, once they charge, they're basically dead as their defensive statline is not nearly enough to save them without Stone and Mortar Stance. I take them with Thyra, but... they're a hard sell in most places.

Pyrrhus, Flameguard Hero - C+

Captain Menoth! There's no sculpt I would more willingly follow into battle, the way this guy is bounding forward, you know he's got your back!

Pyrrhus is honestly a pretty solid little solo. His buff for Temple Flameguard is phenomenal, giving us a pathfinder out. With TFG on the field he's actually very difficult to fight effectively without the right tools, but even with those tools he's just an awkward target to try and take down, sitting at 15/16 from the front, 17/16 against charges. Guy has a really good defensive statline.

To top if off, he has a decent offensive statline, with two 2" melee weapon master swings with his spear (which have crit fire, always nice to remember) and his shield, with which he is a weapon master (!) and has beat back. Guy is obnoxious to kill, hits pretty reasonably hard, buffs the unit you bring him with... what's not to love?

Well, the issue with him is largely meta-dependent. Temple Flameguard don't have a strong place in the world right now, given that they're a screening unit meant to screen stuff that's as cheap as they are... just bring another heavy. That said, in builds where you *do* go with TFG (cheap souls, Guardians of the Temple, or possibly SR 2017s shifts towards holding zones and having more bodies on the table), he's almost auto include for me unless I'm seriously just trying to bring the TFG to be cheap chaff. He's not amazing, but he's good with the unit he's meant to buff, he's got decent output, and overall he's just a decent investment. Just... hard to fit into lists, unfortunately.

Reclaimer Gatekeeper - D+

The Reclaimer is a ridiculously cheap 'jack marshal with some alright support abilities. His support abilities require souls, so that has to be kept in mind. Ashen Veil at will is quite decent, Future Sight is a great ability, and for ranged 'jack marshal targets like a Redeemer, he's a solid pick. That said... 'jack marshals aren't really in demand, as often at this point you're better off running Tristan and fueling the 'jacks normally for only a point more. His support abilities are painfully short range so Ashen Veil isn't really making it onto your front line very easily without him being in considerable danger. Future Sight is consistently solid for many casters but... at the end of the day, the Gatekeeper represents support bloat at its finest, an issue we struggle with in list building really easily, and is the first three points cut out of any list that starts getting too tight if you've worked him in.

Vassal Mechanik - B-

It's a mechanik, it's a single point, if you need one, take one. His repair is good at d3+1, and he has absolutely no other bells and whistles. Just costs very little and keeps your stuff working, nothing flashy but does his job at a good cost. See play all the time, especially if you're taking a battle engine.

Vassal of Menoth - B-

His hair gets me every time. Swoosh!

The Vassal has always been a pretty core support piece for the Protectorate, although he's not quite as ridiculous as the old days. Enliven is a decent ability when used in the right situations (Severius2 or Amon are great choices), Arcane Bolt is randomly neat, has good range and middling accuracy, if the Vassal has absolutely nothing else to do or if it's late game and you need to kill an extra infantry model to score a zone, he's got the option. Really what you put him in the list for is Empower, giving you a bit of an out for Disruption and some extra free focus that our Warcasters so love. For three points, extra focus on your warjack... he's a fairly easy sell. They come after Wracks to me (1 point for 1 focus vs 3 points for 1 focus) but even then it's not bad to grab one just to help with issues with Disruption, particularly if you have an important arc node or something.

Wrack - B 

One of my favorite models in the Protectorate. I love huge focus pools on casters when possible and, with some Wracks, all of our casters have lots to work with. For a single point, you get a wrack, up to three. Your caster can take a focus off one Wrack per turn, which does allow them to go above their maximum focus if you wish. Then you roll a d6, on a 1 or 2, the Wrack explodes in a huge fireball. Cheap, but the extra focus is great. Even though you can only use one per turn, it's good to have the redundancy of multiple (I usually take two these days) since they do explode. Only thing you can't really use the focus for is upkeeping and allocation, but as long as you've got one on the field and in your caster's control area, you can count an extra focus for all your spellcasting, shooting, or melee attacks. Really good, other factions wish they had these.

Conclusion!

That's our solos! We lean a lot into the average range (something you'll see a lot in this faction) which is fine, we have a lot of options, some more niche than others, but I don't think any of our solos are truly unplayable. Some just take a list with what they're bringing to the table in mind to work well, or are just only usable if certain other specific things are on the table so won't see a ton of use, but truly I've found a spot I think every single solo in the Protectorate has good, competitive use... it's just often a bit niche.

See you all tomorrow!