The first Truth & Consequence post written directly on the new site! Apologies I've been a bit off for a few days, some other projects kept me away but... here we are: part 1 of Warcaster overviews.
My grading rubric as before:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plus or minus grades represent a half step in either direction just to give it some granularity. Let's get this started!
Anson Durst, Rock of the Faith - C+
Anson Durst, Paladin Warcaster. Durst is the definitive "armor brick" caster of the faction, and he does it pretty damn well, frankly. Durst brings a few things that are extremely valuable to the Protectorate, featuring a very tough (though low DEF, but that's fixed on his spell card) statline, great MAT, very solid personal damage output if he wishes, and lots of great defensive abilities. This is a hard caster to kill, he's unlikely to randomly die, and that's a serious weakness for the faction on many of our casters. Further, he takes our heavies and makes them extremely difficult to remove, brings Boundless Charge which is a huge boon for the faction, and outside of some specific designs his army is damn near unshootable. He's going to make you come into melee, and your melee isn't going to be as effective as you'd like.
That said, he has his downsides. Anson doesn't bring a MAT buff, which is one of my biggest issues with him. With a lot of MAT 6 on the table with our 'jacks, it can be a little tough to hit your targets consistently. He has no innate out for enemy spells, but we've got this in faction in spades. Really his biggest sin, frankly, is just not being very proactive. That said, that doesn't mean he can't field an extremely strong army; you're just building with the design intention to plod forward in a ball, take a nasty hit and weather it with his quite good feat, then counterpunch from there.
Some stand out pieces with him include any 'jack with a Shield that can be in a battlegroup. Eye of Truth is a monster here, but you can't play in theme if you use him so he can be a hard sell. Still, EoT may well be worth it for how maddeningly vicious to kill he is here. Non character stand outs to me are the Templar and Indictor, both of which are quite slow but get to ridiculous armor values under his feat. I've played with some builds running double templar, double indictor as a core and it's a hard rock to chew through. Indictors also shore up his weakness for accuracy and enemy spell effects, with MAT 7 and blessed weapons. Amazing 'jack for him. I love this caster, his style is right up my alley.
Feora, Priestess of the Flame - D+
Our girl Feora's first incarnation has been a bit maligned for a long time. On paper she's pretty good, honestly; two decent sprays, a very solid defensive statline, actually kind of crazy personal output if she puts the resources into it, she's got some neat stuff she can do. At the end of the day, though, she's got some somewhat dead spells on her card, has way too enormous of a spell list in the first place that she relies on to be decent but can't use because she's too focus strapped, and her feat is way too random in its effectiveness to be consistently relied upon. Watching an enemy with 20+ fire tokens on their side after feat roll over half of them out, then save armor on six more, is just depressing. It should be devastating, but it just doesn't seem to play out that way somehow... and honestly, even when the averages play out exactly as they should, it takes pretty specific types of enemy builds to work well.
She's got kind of a confused kit between infantry clearing and armor cracking, but without the tools to deliver either to the table efficiently, and not enough of an extreme on either side to make the tough delivery worth it most of the time. With no speed buffs for her army, defensive buffs, accuracy buffs, help for guns, tricks, or really just anything like that on her card, she relies on the enemy to come to her, fight on even terms, and then doesn't do enough to swing things one way or another. If you want to fight a bit of an infantry skew while also having some tools to crack hard targets, she certainly tries her hardest but there's just so much better options out there.
Feora, Protector of the Flame - C-
Really she's getting a C- because I'm sure she's better than her first incarnation, frankly.
Feora2, how the mighty hath fallen. Once upon a time she was one of the most played casters in the faction, and it took some minor changes to take her out of the game. She maintained Escort, which is a great spell. Firestarter is too clunky to get a ton of use out of, and really just makes you take pieces that are already pretty good at killing infantry anyway. She does bring a very solid statline, especially with Escort bumping her up to ARM 19, and has some good personal efficacy with her quite decent spray and decent melee mixed with Fire Step, but... she's got an infantry clearing lean in a world where that isn't that necessary, and really stacks up quite poorly when you compare her to other in faction options these days.
Feora, The Conquering Flame - C+
I'm the weirdo on this caster; most people seem to love her, but I'm not a huge fan. That said... she does a thing, and she does it pretty well.
Feora represents the most over the top potential output the Protectorate can reach with any caster. Incite is an extremely good buff, and is wonderful on a caster as far as she is with a decent command range. Her spray is extremely relevant with Incite and with being Cavalry, her potential threat distance with Fire Step and Assault is a bit ridiculous to say the least, and she has a pretty solid defensive body at a 14/18 statline with immunity to fire.
Bring Feora if you want everything you have to be ridiculously over the top, at the cost of your caster sometimes being in a bit compromising positions. That's really where my problems with her start; as soon as an enemy has the tools to threaten her that she can't just trivially kill with Incite, Incite is basically off the table. She doesn't speed her army up beyond her Redline targets (which will basically be her whole battlegroup since she has zero focus to spare to run warjacks), doesn't have defensive tech to deliver them really (besides the situational Banishing Ward, I suppose), and is forced to put herself in danger to really do anything. Her feat helps, making her more focus efficient on the turn it matters most. Honestly though, it bugs me that she isn't even really on all that great odds to kill a heavy on her own on her feat turn, but... I guess that's what Kreoss3 is for.
A big stand out, though, are Cleansers. Flameguard Cleansers with her are madness, you can put an insane amount of fire into one target and, if you run Hand of Judgement (who you definitely brought with her) into range, they'll just explode whatever they want. Overall, if you want everything you have to be insanely accurate and hit way harder than it has any right to, Feora3 will do that for you.
Grand Exemplar Kreoss - D
So... this is likely to get a bit controversial. Kreoss2 has sort of a cult following, I swear, but I'll never really understand it. This is, as far as I'm concerned, the most boring caster in the Protectorate to play, and just... isn't that good. The question with him is 1) is Castigate great in this matchup and 2) does his feat just win you the game against the enemy's list style. The rest of his spell list and kit varies between acceptable to outright mediocre. He's got some tools that, in some factions, would be great... but they're like all half-step worse versions of what other casters are bringing to the table.
One meta note though... this guy does terrible things to Fyanna2, and that alone may be enough that he pops up in some heavily targeted list pairs. As far as melee goes, he negates her feat completely and absolutely and will absolutely shred through anything she tries to do to him. She's not the only one, too; Kreoss2 has some random really ridiculously good matchups, but it's basically only if they're taking *extreme* defense skews, usually around some kind of feat. The problem is Protectorate fights defense skews pretty well most of the time, it's only when they go to kind of a wild extreme that they're problematic.
Grand Scrutator Severius - B-
My boy! You'd think I'd rate him higher, right? Well, he's hardly perfect.
Severius is where you go if you want to play basically anything and have it be reasonably effective, or even a bit over the top. Already strong pieces become stronger. In many ways he defines everything about what the Protectorate wants in a caster; he has the defensive buffs our stats are designed around, a denial based feat, and some sweet offensive spellcasting. Coupled with Blessing of Vengeance, Severius is an offensive spellcaster to be reckoned with, capable of clearing small groups of infantry or ripping chunks out of heavies.
Where are Sevvy's weaknesses? Well, he's squishy. Sacred Ward goes a long way towards keeping him alive in some matchups, but he defines old man stats. If someone gets a bead on Severius with some attacks, he will die, and lose you the game. Positioning him for max effectiveness while also remaining alive is key, and is the razors edge you walk in any game with the caster. Further, his feat is good, but a little bit situational in its effectiveness sometimes. Often times you'll just use it to try and force a frenzy from enemy warbeasts or to slightly reduce a caster's focus pool to stretch him thin for a turn... but sometimes, it will outright win you games. Still, if you want to push an army beyond its regular limits, Severius is your man.
The Harbinger of Menoth - C
The Harbinger had a pretty rough rap at the start of Mk. 3 but... she's popped up a little bit more over time and really has proven to have some interesting game to her. She's hardly the powerhouse she once was, but I've enjoyed the time I spent playing her; she just has to play a little differently.
At her core, the Harbinger is an attrition caster. You need to leverage every tool she has as much as possible for her to really shine, but when you do, she can be quite effective. Flame Bringers have become nearly an autoinclude for me with her, as side step and reposition 5" mean they stay in her CMD of 10 really easily, Awe gets them to great defensive levels against living enemy melee, and Crusader's Call makes the unit threat a mile. Also, Guided Hand on Flame Bringers is a pretty good way to nearly assure a crit against a target you're focusing on. Rebuke has a ton of power, especially as units become slightly more common. Purification has always been one of the best spells in the game, and that's still the case here. The only spell I think is relatively dead for her is Cataclysm, which is actually a really terrifying spell if she's super close to you, trying to fire it out any kind of distance makes it effectively useless.
Harbinger has two serious weaknesses: she's one of the easiest to kill warcasters in the game, being on a large base, having very poor defensive stats, and often being at extremely low health pools. Often a chunk of her list design has to go into just keeping her alive; it's not uncommon to bring some Vengers to just park themselves base to base in front of her to block line of sight until the extreme late game when she's safer as things are dying and her health pool bumps back up. My typical three shield guard policy bumps up to four or five (I've definitely run Rhoven n Co, Dartan, Devout, Templar with her a time or two) as she is just so easy to kill. A devout for spell immunity is huge. If you can keep her alive consistently, she'll do seriously well, but that's a hard order to fill. Next, her feat is.... terrible. This is barely a feat. I've had it do good stuff for me, especially with units like Flame Bringers that have parry and can reposition out of melee, you can often protect them from retaliation for a turn, but when you're fighting any kind of sizeable battlegroup or an infantry army that threatens her enough to keep her back, it's just nearly useless.
That's part one of our three part Warcaster overview for the Protectorate! Warcasters are probably going to be the most controversial to talk about power levels for in any faction, and that's just fine. We all play differently, and some people find success with casters others might find surprising, and I think this is more the case with Protectorate than it is many other factions. We're very much designed around how our casters synergize with the already quite solid pieces that we bring, and those synergies take many shapes and forms and can be used in a lot of different ways; we have few casters shocking anyone with their absurd power, it's mostly about having an all around solid force with a good plan and the right tools for the job.
See you all next time for Part 2!