The new Active Duty Roster has been spoiled! Check it out on this
This next rotation's roster is High Exemplar Kreoss, Malekus the Burning Truth, Feora the Conquerer, and the Testament of Menoth.
This is actually pretty exciting for our next ADR season! Unfortunately the current season has been rather dead in the water, but this new season has some really interesting pairings available that I think can cover a lot of ground. What sort of pairings may be interesting to get that sweet Vanguard benefit?
What, at least three playable casters on an ADR? What is this?
I feel that Kreoss1 is the anchor of this roster. If you're going to use the new ADR, he will likely be one of the casters involved. The reasoning for that is really just that Feora and Malekus are both damage dealers above really anything else, and a pairing between the two will likely end in a few holes in matchups from a utility perspective. That's not to say those two can't pair, though! They will just likely be much more "answer" lists than "questions" necessarily, with Malekus likely more built towards single-target gunfire and cracking heavies at range, Feora running Cleansers and other anti-infantry tech with a damage dealing core.
Testament of Menoth has had a rough run in Mk. 3 and personally I don't see him as too much of a consideration. That said, with the new CID Vessel of Judgement there could be room for running Bastions or just an infantry heavy build designed to use Revive to just last out the game as long as possible. If you're able to get ahead on points and grind the game out past the SR 2017 round limit, maybe it could work but... it's a pretty narrow game plan that doesn't work if your opponent even just brings the right amount of attacks.
Why Kreoss as the main caster for this roster? Well, Kreoss has a really strong roster of potential matchups he can play into. He has fallen by the wayside of popularity for some time, but he has a wide variety of list build options and ways he can be utilized in many matchups, lots of great tools between his feat, Purification, and Lamentation, as well as the ever wonderful Defenders Ward. He can spellcast a bit if he needs to, has the focus pool to fuel some 'jacks if he wishes, and in a meta that may be shifting towards more balanced lists featuring infantry more prominently (to some degree, extreme battlegroups will still be common enough I think), his feat gains even more value. Between threatening assassination, attrition, or scenario, Kreoss isn't blowing anyone out of the water exactly but he's just a really solid rock to base your pairing on... which is a pretty common power level for casters in Protectorate.
I get knocked down! But I get up again!
I'm just going to go over a few pairings I think would be good and may be the direction I would take if building an ADR pairing for a Masters event in the next season.
Kreoss1 - Malekus
This is my personal favorite, but part of that is due to just not loving Feora3 in some respects. This Kreoss build would be built as an attrition/anti-infantry build that threatens assassination. Great pieces that could appear in that are the Vessel of Judgement, Redeemers, Repenters, Vanquishers, ideally pieces that have single-target potential while also maintaining anti-infantry output. Kreoss is able to kill infantry heavy builds a bit slower than others, not needing to hyper-dedicate to anti infantry as his feat can buy more time to just keep firing, which makes his matchup pretty flexible.
You can take that build either down Creator's Might, running a Vessel (maybe even two!) and a larger battlegroup, using Vanguard to shift around that battlegroup based on the matchup you're fighting (more damage vs. more infantry clear, basically), or go non-theme to gain the option of models like Idrians, Cleansers, or various characters like Hand of Judgement, whose spray is the perfect kind of weapon for this build style. Personally I think Creator's Might is probably a bit better but either way has great merits.
Malekus is more going to be about a shotgun-style shock and awe damage dealer, but that's typically how I like building him so specifics on that may vary. I like lists that can wait for the fight to start, then blast a heavy down from less than a foot away with him, so I tend to go really battlegroup heavy (likely Creator's Might, but losing Hand of Judgement in this list style hurts) and feature models like Repenters pretty heavily. That's just me though, there are a lot of ways to build this guy but the core is often the same: lots of nasty fire damage. You want a list that can blast 1-2 heavies down on his feat turn and then play up from that position. Malekus has a remarkable number of options with his toolkit, he'll surprise people. He also has the benefit of being able to play theme for free points and still take Eye of Truth, who is just a monster where you take him.
Malekus, reading his Feora/Kreoss fanfic to his adoring fans.
Kreoss1 - Feora3
This pairing has a lot of ways you can go. Feora can easily be built as a massive infantry clear option, but I think it's better off using her strengths as an armor cracker to just kill anything and everything she wants. An Exemplar Interdiction build with double Vengers and a bunch of Knights Exemplar is very attractive to me here, as I think her strength really is just shoving an army to the highest possibility of damage output in the Protectorate, may as well use it. Topped with Incite, her army should kill absolutely anything you come near, and models like Hand of Judgement will be able to help with middling amounts of infantry.
If you go that route (or one similar, oriented towards damage dealing), Kreoss can be constructed as more of an anti-infantry piece. You could even run Guardians of the Temple, although ADR doesn't play super well with infantry-oriented themes (same point above about Interdiction) unless they have tons of options. Double Cleansers with Kreoss will kill... frankly, any amount of infantry. Vanguard allows you to build either Feora or Kreoss with the ability to swap towards more armor crack or more infantry clear at will, and I think both these casters use those extra points beautifully.
Malekus - Feora3
Probably not the route I'd first think to go, but there's good potential here. Feora goes more of the infantry clear route in this pairing, Malekus maintaining that high damage gunline style that I think is where he works best. Again, though, ADR is going to let you flex them into more matchups. These two bring a decent amount of spell hate with both having Banishing Ward, and of course just... a lot of damage between the two. Anyone with a lot of fire immunity can be a little problematic, but Feora can be built with that in mind, just won't be able to use her spray as well. Malekus, sadly, can't really avoid it. I think, assuming you can make the themes work well within ADR, you run Malekus in Creator's Might and Feora in Guardians of the Temple here, but that's hardly set in stone.
I'm pretty excited about this next ADR! I'm always happy to get my boy Kreoss1 back on the table, I've used him quite a bit in the last handful of months and always like trying new builds with him. In many ways he's just shy of Severius1 for letting you sort of play anything you want and have it be reasonably effective, which is my favorite aspect of any caster. Personally I'll mainly be testing Kreoss1/Malekus pairings, as Malekus is another favorite of mine.
All this said, don't find yourselves constricted to anything I say, these are merely my ideas for how pairings in this ADR might go. It's possible there's a great Testament pairing in there, or an interesting way to build these casters outside my ideas or suggestions (with how complex the game is, I'd be surprised if there weren't!) What pairing would you take to an ADR event in the next season?