Love him? Hate him? Think he’s busted? Think he’s fine?
Doesn’t matter, he is here and I would be massively surprised if he is going anywhere soon. He, of course, being the Lord of the Feast.
With the amount of hyperbole surrounding this model across most Warmachine Social Media lately (seriously Discord, there ARE other things to talk about other than this for almost 4 days straight and counting), you might come to the mistaken impression that the mere presence of this model on the table is enough to pack up your toys and grab a bite to eat. This is not the case.
While an incredibly potent combat piece, the Lord of the Feast does have some counterplay, and this article is aimed at addressing some of the simplest ways in which you can prevent yourself from getting caught out by this vicious solo.
What does he do?
Lord of the Feast has several very relevant abilities, and I am going to tackle them in the order of their importance.
Corpse Stuff: This model gets corpse tokens, can have up to three of them, gets +1 STR and ARM for each, and can use them to buy and boost melee attack and damage rolls. This makes him MAT 8 PS 16 with three corpses and ARM 19 with 8 boxes, which is reasonably tanky.
Shifter: is an ability on his range 10 ranged attack which allows him to be placed base to base with any model hit by the weapon. This doesn’t mean in the front, this doesn’t even mean facing the model you hit with him, it just means part of his base has to be touching part of that models’ base.
This can lead to some very unexpected interactions, such as hiding your Journeyman caster behind a colossal thinking they are safe and suddenly having Lord of the Feast pop up next to them and eviscerate them.
Dual Attack: This lets him attack and fire his bird in the same activation. In fact, it allows him to charge, then use his bird, THEN make his initial melee attack which is relevant because…
Blood Reaper: When he makes his first initial attack, Lord of the Feast must make an attack against every model in his 2” melee range. Important to note: If he boosts attack or damage on any of these, the PS of the weapon immediately drops, and he does not get corpses from any of the attacks until the attacks are all finished resolving since they are simultaneous attacks.
Grievous Wounds: Ignores tough, prevents crippled warjacks/warbeasts from having damage removed for a turn.
Stealth/Pathfinder: Dude is hard to shoot at, dude can walk through trees.
Important Supporting Models/Theme:
Very, very importantly, Lord of the Feast is much less intimidating outside of Devourer’s Host and/or when the Boilmaster and Spirit Cauldron are not around.
The Devourer’s Host theme lets Lord of the Feast start with a corpse on him.
The Boilmaster and Spirit Cauldron can hand him more corpses and also give him the very relevant Puppetmaster - missing his bird usually means he does absolutely nothing and then dies.
Finally, the Tharn Blood Shaman can sacrifice a model to give him Divine Inspiration, which lets him get an additional dice on melee attack and damage rolls and drop the lowest one.
Honorable Mention: Grayle has Storm Rager, a spell that gives a single target +2 STR, ARM, and MAT. This version of the Lord of the Feast is by far the deadliest.
Playing against the Lord of the Feast
First thing you have to accept - barring dice, you are going to lose something to this fella. The support machine of Boilmaster and Blood Shaman make him incredibly accurate and hard hitting.
Importantly, there are a few ways you can mitigate what this guy does.
1) Learn to use your shield guards in new ways. You only need one shield guard to keep your caster/important light warjack/whatever you’re trying to keep safe. If you bubble off the areas that you do not want Lord of the Feast to land when he uses Shifter, either he does not get placed at all OR you can control where he goes.
In this example, the entire Shield Guard is bubble wrapped and everything near the important model (the Warcaster) is within 3 inches of the Shield Guard. If Lord of the Feast were to throw his Raven at any of them, he would get Shield Guarded and then be unable to place base to base and revert back to where he is now.
Note - you do not have to keep your Caster as part of the bubble wrap, there are a lot of ways to set this up.
Like in this example for instance, where the Warcaster is within 3 of the Shield Guard, and the side of the Shield Guard where Lord of the Feast could conceivably be placed has only two models blocking off all relevant landing zones for his teleport.
The blank bases with the foot on them are all proxy bases showing that Lord of the Feast cannot be placed legally (the middle one is clearly overlapping two other models) and still be in melee of whatever it is he is going after.
Obviously this is very game dependent, as your opponent having relevant guns or options to remove your blocking pieces with spells will change the way you approach this, but for now at least the Bloodpack are relatively rarely seen and Bloodtrackers do not threat very far and you can set this up outside of their threat range.
If you have two Shield Guards, you do not need to wrap either one of them, just happily chain shield guard his shot into the back field somewhere where he cannot hurt anything you care about.
For the truly shield guard rich - looking at you Forges of War, Destruction Initiative, and Crabbits - you can chain him wherever you want him pretty easily.
2) Learn this magic number - 3.2 inches. Lord of the Feast, when placed base to base with something, threatens just under 3.2 inches from that base to anything else. This means that if you want to quickly make sure he cannot bird to something and murder something else that is important, just grab your three inch widget and leave a little more space at the end of it. If you practice this for even a couple of minutes, you can start to do it fairly quickly - especially if you only really are careful on the meaningful models in your list.
The white proxy bases here represent possible Lord of the Feast positions, and the Yellow bases are positioned such that you can only get to one of them no matter where you go.
For example - don’t leave anything that close to your caster. Don’t put anything valuable close to your objective. Don’t crowd your super important command attachment up behind your unit.
This is good practice for playing against Devourer’s Host in general, as overtake typically doesn’t like to be trying to bridge gaps bigger than three inches anyway.
3) Spread out across the table (if you can). Lord of the Feast and the entire Devourer’s Host list really hate having to spread out wide, they much prefer to jump on you when you’re clumped up. If they have Bloodweavers ambushing this gets harder, but honestly bloodweavers do not hit nearly so hard as many people think they do.
4) Use terrain that provides cover to make hitting the bird hard. Lord of the Feast is RAT 7, which is pretty good, but there are no ways in faction to boost that shot or increase the accuracy outside of Hand of Fate on Una 2 or the Argus Moonhound which has Mark Target (and is somewhat rare outside of specific builds).
Lord of the Feast is a very strong model. He is going to force you to play the game on different terms than you are used to.
Most Circle players - most players in general - are not patient creatures though, and if you stymie their typical game plan, they are likely to start making mistakes since they have not practiced playing into good counter play.
A huge thank you shout out to JP for getting me the screenshots needed for this piece - thanks a ton man! Wouldn’t have been doable without you.
Hopefully this little primer has been helpful and informative - please feel free to share it with friends/meta groups, and as always, thanks for reading.