Sunday, July 3, 2011

Moonlight with Mercs: Cygnar

After a brief diversion, we're back to discussing merc builds with a side of faction.  Cygnar's one of the merc-friendlier factions, when you get down to it.  Note that there's some overlap between Cygnar and the Highborne Covenant, and it means you might own some Cygnarian units for an otherwise merc army.

Unit of Note: Arcane Tempest Gun Mages & UA
These guys get a special mention for two reasons: 1) They're available to the Highborne Covenant (albeit only one unit) and 2) they're nasty jack marshals for shooty jacks.  Frankly, someone like Ashlynn d'Elyse loves these guys, because they're good for hunting criticals with her feat, and they can run a Mule with Snipe and a pseudo-focus, which is really all the Mule seems to want/need.  RAT7 and a 16" range with Aim is pretty nasty.  As Cygnar has plenty of ranged jacks and some selfish casters, they'll pull fine double-duty in their parent faction.

Ranking Officer: Captain Jonas Murdoch
Drop two points, and one merc unit becomes a faction unit.  Honestly, being a Faction unit for Cygnar isn't always a huge buff; lots of casters aren't picky about who they buff.  On the flip side, you get a few fun things out of him: Assault and Go to Ground.  Assault is an orde that lets your guys take shots on the way in, and Go to Ground is a once-a-game "Look, Ma, a Trench!"  Your guys learn to hit the dirt, gain cover, and not block LOS.  Also, Murdoch's Tough, so if he's hanging with Boomhowler, you can get a lovely 4+ tough going.

The Casters
Major Markus 'Siege' Brisbane - This guy is 100% compatible with mercs.  His spells are either 'to whom it may concern' or battlegroup-only.  Explosivo lets anyone have some AoE fun, and magical weapon.  Force hammer...probably won't get a lot of use, since it's so bloody expensive.  Foxhole and Mage Sight are the real money-makers for most, along with his feat.  You really can't hide from this guy, since he can see stealth AND drop units out of LOS.  His feat, too, triggers when anyone damages something in his control area, so you're good.

Lietenant Allister Caine - Cain's army support and infantry removal.  His buffs aren't picky about faction, and favor a ranged game.  He has the standard-issue Snipe, and Deadeye is nasty on units.  Blur helps shelter you from direct fire, and Teleport is his 'get out of jail free' card.  Given a pair of upkeeps and his buffs (and guns), you can probably get away with one or two jacks in the battlegroup, provided they aren't too focus hungry.

Captain Allister Caine - Like his prime version, eCaine is fine with a minimal faction army.  The only thing that wants a faction model is his Magic Bullet spell, and frankly, bringing a long-ranged jack or two means you get all you want out of this spell: free POW12s on annoying solos sitting behind stuff.  He's also a one-man assassination run, so you really want self-sufficient stuff in his army.  The only buff he has for a faction unit is Elite Cadre[Gun mages] which is sick, since it lets them shoot in melee.

Captain E. Dominic Darius & Halfjacks - He's all about the battlegroup.  There's zero support for the army, and he wants heavy jacks to take advantage of his feat.  Honestly, this guy's not what you're looking for in the context of this post.

Captain Victoria Haley - While Haley's buffs suggest she's merc-friendly, the feat suggests otherwise.  She's a ranged game by and large, but the feat, Blitz, requires models to be Faction models in order to get the extra attack.  Basically, if you go merc-heavy you're losing out on her feat.

Major Victoria Haley - Apparently getting an arm hacked off makes you merc-friendly.  She is 100% merc compatible.  Her buffs are indiscriminate, and her feat is all about making the person across from you offer vocabulary lessons.

Captain Jeremiah Kraye - Remember Captain Darius?  The same more or less applies.  No support for infantry, lots for the battlegroup...the only difference is that Kraye plays a more mobile game.  Leave him at home for this exercise.

Commander Adept Nemo - This guy only has one Faction-specific spell, Deflection: sadly, that's a pretty nice spell, good for +2ARM versus ranged/magic attacks.  Also, Chain Lightning is best used at range, since electro leap + merc = smaller paychecks to hand out at the end.  On the bright side, this guy's fine with a smaller battlegroup.  Overall, a so-so choice for merc-heavy; maybe add Murdoch to Boomhowler's and call it a nice, nasty, ARM18/4+ Tough screen that doesn't get trampled through.

General Adept Nemo - This guy's also about warjacks, but he likes a couple or three heavies.  He wouldn't mind a merc unit as a screen, though, with Polarity Shield: nothing like denying the charge.  He can also help out with Force Field, and say 'screw you' to blasts.  Otherwise, its all about the jack-buffing upkeeps.  On the downside, he pretty much requires an investment in a battlegroup to be worth it.

Captain Kara Sloan - Everyone loves a RAT8, POW12 weaponmaster sniper rifle, right?  Sure.  She's a bit faction-picky, though.  Fire Group is nice, but battlegroup-only.  Refuge and Return Fire are nice for some ranged superiority, but again, they require Faction models.  The feat is sick, but AGAIN, it's faction-specific for shooters.  If you bring mercs, I'd consider Boomhowler's at best, and maybe Murdoch: you have a screen that's durable, and you can use Go To Ground to unblock your LOS for a nasty feat turn.  All in all, though, she's not that ideal for this exercise.

Commander Coleman Stryker - He's a buff-bot that doesn't care if you're a faction model for his spell list.  He's got armor, range, and DEF buffs.  However, the feat is good for +5ARM...IF you are a faction model.  If you're a merc, friggin' hide, because the feat turn is when someone else picks you out and tries to make you dead, because you're going to be the easy target.

Lord Commander Coleman Stryker - I want to run this guy, I really do.  I just don't want to own the army it requies.  eStryker loves him some melee infantry.  He's got widespread buffs for their ARM and accuracy/damage, and his feat lets them either get into melee half a board away, or hit, then hit again.  This is NOT the guy you're looking for if you want to run merc-heavy.

The Labor Pool
Steelheads - They're self-sufficient, and can cover all your bases.  They may not be optimal, but you can get a fair amount of bodies for cheap, and getting Tactician is always a bonus.

Alexia & the Risen - not bad if you're running infantry-heavy (IE: Steelheads).  "That which does not kill us, knocks us down.  That which kills us makes us work for Alexia."

Blythe & Bull - If you need RFP in melee, this is where you get it.  Cygnar doesn't really have access to much RFP, Kara Sloan's Dust To Dust notwithstanding.  Not worth adding Murdoch here, honestly.

Boomhowler & Co - Call of Defiance meshes nicely with Murdoch's tough.  Honestly, if you want a nasty screen that will hold off melee and tramples, but still let you shoot through it when you need to, look no further than these guys and Murdoch.  Hell, if you buff their accuracy, Assault, and add Deadeye in, things might even die on the run up and shoot part of their turn.

Sam MacHorne & the Devil Dogs - They love knockdown, but outside of the upcoming Avenger, you don't have a lot of knockdown.  They are a jack-marshall unit, and you can always add a Buccaneer to the mix.  Or, you can run them as your merc unit + Murdoch with pStryker, and have some fun with Earthquake, +5ARM, and the 'Trash' ability on your guys.

Cylena & the Nyss Hunters - There are only a couple of downsides to this unit: 1) Murdoch could slow them down without pathfinder, 2) they're allergic to blast damage, but Murdoch can fix that, and 3) they're expensive.  Otherwise, they're nasty and versatile, and Murdoch can up their price and fix their allergy to blast damage.  Snipe or Deadeye make them that much nastier at range, too.

Anastasia di Bray - She would probably be workable if you're trying to melee the other guy.  On the flip side, your battlegroup probably wants to shoot the enemy, so make sure you activate accordingly.  If nothing else, she might funnel the enemy warcaster a bit...though you have a 15" range with Espionage right off the bat.

Madelyn Corbeau - She would probably be more useful if you were going with more melee stuff.  As it is, most of the merc-friendly casters are ranged types, and you don't have as many 'OH GOD KEEP THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!' melee solos as others might.

Rhupert Carvolo - Ok, who doesn't love fearless/tough, pathfinder, or +1DEF/Terror?  Your opponent, that's who.  Rhupert is, of course, solid support for the army.

The Eyriss' - Since you probably won't have a huge battlegroup, their disadvantages aren't going to be as pronounced.  Also, hey.  they're solid support.  We all knew this already, and people can't afford to let her live.

Reinholdt - This guy gets honorable mention, because most of the merc-friendly casters have guns they wouldn't mind firing one more time for one more point.

Taryn di la Rovissi - Frankly, you have a unit of gun mages, and unless you brought merc shooters, she's not going to do much for you.  However, Steelhead Riflemen + Deadeye + Snipe + Shadow Fire could very well be a surprise assassination vector.

Rutger Shaw - Melee jack marshal.  If you really want a merc jack and you don't want to bring Sam and friends, maybe.  Maybe.  I'm still not fond of this guy as a marshal, and while he helps out Taryn a bit, I've not yet had the urge to acquire him.

Harlan Versh - He's a bit of upkeep hate in a faction that doesn't erally have much.  His form of 'hate' comes in a four-pack of fully boosted POW10s, though.

Gorman di Wulfe - Known quantity.  Solid support.

The Privateer Module - Potentially cheaper than the Steelhead one, it is a bit more focused on melee, whereas the steelheads can bring some ranged game (especially with Snipe).  If you have it, Cygnar can use it.

Ayana & Holt - It's pretty much the only damage buff Cygnar has access to.  Also, if you don't have gun mages, the 'magic weapon' spell could be useful in some situations.

Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps - You'd lose Shield Wall with Murdoch, and that's kind of their standout quality.  Similarly, you'd lose double-time with the UA, so these guys really don't want Murdoch around.  They're also slow and short-ranged, but you can fix the range with Snipe.  Ranked attacks would be cooler if you had more shooting mercs behind them, but you probably don't.  Overall, they're so-so for anything other than a screen with Cygnar.

Horgenhold Forge Guard - Hey, you get a weaponmaster counter-charge!  You lose on ranked attacks, and Cygnar doesn't really have melee buffs.  On the other hand, Cygnar does have Arcane Shield, and ARM19 (21 in Defensive Line) shrugs off gunfire less than defender-sized.  The SPD4 might not be as much of an issue, given that you are hopefully bringing guns to this match.

Herne & Jonne - probably not worth buffing just two models.  However, Cygnar's a bit low on AoEs, so you might actually get some use out of these guys if you want to fill in that gap.

Ogrun Assault Corps - They certainly won't mind Snipe or an ARM buff.  I'd suggest a melee buff, but you probably won't get that if you can get Snipe from a caster.

Ogrun Bokur - No one likes getting shot.  However, he's got competition: the Sentinel is one more point for something that's got a lot more boxes, and it's not that focus-hungry.  At best, it'll eat one focus for trying to keep up with Caine as he flits around the field.

Thor Steinhammer - If you want to bring Rhulic jacks, this is the guy.  Honestly, between his relative frailty and your access to Gun Mages as marshals, I'm not sure about him.  However, he's still an option, and a Basher with Pronto is a wonderful slam-bot.

The Ragman - This is pretty much the only damage buff Cygnar gets in melee.  Honestly, I could see this guy alongside the Ogrun Assault Corps; add Snipe for ranged shenanigans, and when the enemy closes, you're MAT6, effective PS14.  The OAC can hide the Ragman and/or absorb bullets for him.  What's not to love about this guy?

Cygnar has several shoe-ins for merc-heavy armies: Siege, eHaley, and both of the Caines.  pNemo and pStryker could make it work with Murdoch.  Sloan is highly situational; maybe Murdoch + OAC or Boomhowler's, but that's about it.  The others either lose a lot by going merc-heavy, or are battlegroup buddies.

All things considered, I think you can make merc-heavy work with Cygnar, and you've got a wealth of options.  Also, Reinholdt, for when you need one more bullet.

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