It's finally here! Yesterday, Jaden gave us a quick first look at the newly spoiled Active Duty roster for the first season of 2018. This changeover will be happening as of the first of January, and will give everyone new lineups for Masters or Champions events!
As my faction of choice, I want to take some time on the Protectorate one specifically, in part because it's a viciously strong lineup and I'd like to go into a little bit of why. We're going to touch on it caster by caster, then talk a little bit about likely pairings based on this roster you might see. I'll be saving the best for last!
High Executioner Servath Reznik
The only one of the four I'm not exactly thrilled about, truthfully. Reznik has had a bit of love recently with the Revelator dropping, but in my experience list builds with him have felt really awkward, either not nearly capitalizing on his kit enough to be worth using him, or going so hard into using his kit that his list feels really inefficient and swingy. This largely comes down on his reliance on an expensive offensive upkeep to do anything useful, which also doesn't have the range, nor him the defensive stats, to cast it safely without an arc node, which tends to bloat the point costs of his list builds.
That said, some have really taken a liking to this particular warcaster and I'm sure some will use him, but as far as setting up a pairing with competition in mind, I'm not sure Reznik is a consideration here. I'll experiment with him like I do with any caster but he's not really been a great choice for me in the past.
Malekus, the Burning Truth
Malekus has definitely got a bit of a boost lately, and in my eyes he was already right on the edge of being a pretty solid choice. While not necessarily the most well rounded caster, his pairing options here are very strong and the thing he does, he does pretty damn well. There are two schools of thought with this guy as far as how you might build him; one is more infantry or combined arms, usually relying on units like Cleansers if you run in Guardians or Zealots and Sunburst Crews if you go Faithful Masses. This creates a very fragile but high damage and high attack volume force capable of handling both armor and infantry. My personal preference, though, is to run Creator's Might with a very battlegroup-centric design, these days leaning on a Revelator with high efficiency models like Repenters. This creates a force that's rather slow, but packs a huge ranged punch for his feat turn and gives a huge number of options for Open Fire.
If you're going more infantry route, I expect he would pair well with Durst to create an extremely solid 'anvil' list to sit alongside Malekus' 'hammer.' With a battlegroup centric build, I would lean more on Thyra, who I typically run quite infantry heavy and is a great pair for him given how wide a field she can be built to fight, easily shoring up Malekus' narrow scope. Your primary purpose for using Malekus in your pair will be as the armor cracker.
Anson Durst, Rock of the Faith
I've been suspicious that Durst is a bit of a sleeper hit for the Protectorate right now. I always had two major issues with Durst: a lack of a hit buff, and a lack of a damage buff. Thankfully, we now have a fix for that on any caster thanks to the Faithful Masses theme force. The trick has been finding the right build, and I'm not sure I'm there yet but I believe it boils down to a minimal number of Zealots used to proc Hand of Vengeance as long into the game as possible and then a huge battlegroup. I'm leaning towards a 4 shield heavy, 1 sanctifier type setup at the moment but time will tell what the best route to take is.
Specialists gives him a bit of extra flexibility, mainly his 'jack loadout having some room to breath. Being able to swap in pieces like Indictors, Sanctifiers, or Templars to fit his needs is extremely useful, or even being able to pull out heavies in favor of more troop options. Durst will be the 'anvil' of any list, giving you an extremely solid, nearly unbreakable force at the cost of a bit of scenario presence and speed. This pairs extremely well with infantry-centric builds or casters, giving him a great spot alongside Thyra.
Thyra, Flame of Sorrow
My favorite warcaster right now has entered the Active Duty Roster, and I couldn't be happier. Thyra is absolutely vicious, and as far as I'm concerned is one of the best warcasters in the faction so to see her enter the ADR is like Christmas come early... or a
little late, I suppose, given the actual release of the ADR...
Thyra brings nearly every tool you could want out of a caster to the table. One of the best offensive nukes in the game, a threat extension for her army in the form of her feat (also a great unjamming tool), a huge hit fixer, personal survivability, a damage buff, an RFP option, an out for Tough, ability to close out a game herself, Thyra just brings a ton of tools to the tabletop to get work done. Personally I've been leaning on a Faithful Masses build with her running double Idrians and a lot of Paladins, and for specialists I've got some ideas for swapping in a massive amount of infantry clear, pulling Paladins for things like Deliverers and Sunburst Crews, as well as a second Sanctifier to swap in in case it's necessary. She could also be built more as a Guardians style, with different combinations of Temple Flameguard and Flame Bringers depending on exactly what you're fighting. Overall, I couldn't have asked for a stronger choice on the ADR than Thyra.
Putting It All Together
In my opinion, Thyra is the basis caster for pairings in this roster, and your second choice will be based on what you think you need to cover from there. If Thyra is taken in Guardians of the Temple, you're likely to lean somewhat more on Malekus, since that gives you a higher armor crack option and something more ranged-centric to complement your melee-centric infantry army. If you're running Faithful Masses, I think Durst is the stronger choice, as Masses is overall a fairly fragile army and Durst gives you a really solid wall of a list to force list choice decisions from your opponent. Many builds that are designed to fight a list like Thyra's double Idrian builds will just crash against Durst's sheer resilience.
If you really want to go to Reznik, any place I have put a Malekus battlegroup-heavy army, Reznik will also fill. They both act as a warjack-centric armor cracker when used this way so can fill a similar role, I just feel Malekus does the job quite a bit better and has a lot more list variety. Reznik can get you wins off the back of the Scourge of Heresy assassination vector and/or opponents just not really knowing what he does, but I don't think will be terribly consistent.
Overall, the Protectorate Season 7 ADR is the strongest we've seen. Thyra/Durst was a pairing I was actually already working on, so seeing it show up in our ADR excites me immensely. But... only time will tell if this holds up!
Thanks for reading, see you all next time.