So, after Gdaybloke posted his “Thoughts on Theorymachine” I figured I might as well post what he suggested to me. Now, after some thoughts I decided to go with Pirates, the Talion Charter, for my Merc Mk2 Warmachine faction. At least to start of course. I eventually want to get a Magnus force, a Searforge Force, and even a 4 Star and Highborn force. Thankfully I can buy models that work with multiple contracts. But enough of that. This post is all about the 3 Talion Charter Casters: Capt Bartolo, Capt Shae, and Fiona the Black.
Captain Bartolo Montador:
This is my caster of choice. When I think Warmachine I think Warjacks. Unlike alot of players who still prefer to only take 1 or 2 jacks and then stuff their lists with Infantry (at least in my Meta), I like Jacks. Much as the same that I like beasts (but find them harder to stuff into lists). Bart here is the pirates “Jack Caster”, with spells that boost his jacks in a couple of ways. Now wait, you say! What do you mean? Well I am talking about his spells Broadside and Batten Down the Hatches. Now most people seem to focus only on Broadside, because its part of his nickname, Broadside Bart. Broadside lets each of your Jacks with a ranged attack fire, ignoring their ROF. This lets you get an extra shot with your jacks, and alot of people focus on this spell. However, ignoring his OTHER Jack Buff is just silly. Batten Down the Hatches gives each member of his battlegroup (so him and his jacks) +3 ARM at the cost of -2 DEF. Given that most pirate heavies are DEF 12 / ARM 17, this is a huge boost, putting them up to Khador ARM levels. I mean, a change from DEF 12 to 10 is nothing major, most things now a days can hit a 12 (I play Trolls, trust me I know this) but ARM 20 is darn hard to crack. Especially given how many boxes a heavy jack has.
Next up is Bart himself. He is a melee caster. He has a ranged weapon, which is a spray at POW 12, but you really want to get into melee with the man. He has a good MAT and solid defensive scores (DEF 15 / ARM 16) which under Batten Down the Hatches becomes DEF 13 / ARM 19 so if you know he is gonna get hit by something you might as well use this. His sword is a solid PS 14, and with his Blood Quenched special he can get really strong really fast if he can kill a few targets, and with Overtake you know he can bounce around killing people. Finally he is Tough, which I like (Troll player!) and has roughly 17 damage boxes, with 5 Warjack Points.
Finally, the feat. Bart’s feat is just straight up good. Any enemy that ENDS their advance inside his CTRL area is knocked down, and all attacks made by enemies in his CTRL area suffer -3 to their rolls. I did some asking on the forums, and apparently the knock down happens BEFORE a charge attack, so if you use his feat you can prevent a charge, as they would get the movement and then at the end of the advance get knocked on their rears. With a 12in CTRL area that gonna effect alot of stuff, and since its an Aura and not a Pulse it will follow him. Good for defense, or offense (You can use it and cover part of the enemy, forcing them to move out or stand still.
So what do you want to take with Bart? Well a Mariner is an obvious choice if you are staying in the pirate theme. You can get a few shots off (2 a turn) at RNG 15 POW 14 AOE 3, which is nothing to sneeze at, and then when its time get that bad boy into melee and watch as his tear things apart with his POW 17 Thresher Anchor. You could also take a Freebooter or two, giving you a couple of jacks that in Melee are DEF 10 ARM 20, with 2 attacks each at POW 14. A Buccaneer if you have the points is not bad either, as you can get 2 shots off with his Net Gun, possibly knocking down 2 models. Beyond that, any infantry support is fine, and the usual pirate ones should be taken (Sea Dogs, Hawk, ect)
All in all Bart is my favorite caster right now by looks, and hopefully once I get him into practice I will be happy with him as well.
Captain Phinneaus Shae:
Ah Shae. There is one main reason to take Shae: The Commodore Cannon. Actually there are plenty of reasons to use Shae but that is one of the big ones hehe. Shae appears to me at first blush to be a combined arms caster. He brings a bit of buffs to both Jacks and Infantry. The Talion Charters middle of the road caster. Now the big thing here is that Shae can ONLY be used with the Talion charter. Whereas Fiona and Bart can be used for a few contracts. Shae is a pirate plain and simple. Lets start with Shae’s feat this time. Its called Godspeed, and its very straightforward. It lets every model in his CTRL area move 3 inches ignoring free strikes. Once again, this is offensive OR Defensive. What do I mean? Well lets say last turn you charged with your Sea Dogs and did some damage, and they survived the retaliation. Well, you feat, move them back 3 inches, and then when you activate them you charge AGAIN and BAM, 3 inches moved, charge bonus granted. See? Or you can just use it to jump 3 more inches across the battlefield, or use it to bounce around a target to get at something squishier behind it. With something like Hawk for example, she can charge 10 inches, and if you give her 3 more inches to work with in a turn that’s a crazy threat range.
Couple more fun things about Shae. He is a melee caster again, and he does it well. Firstly, if Shae is knocked down you do NOT get bonuses against him. You still have the beat his DEF thanks to Groundwork. Also, he has Swashbuckler, which lets him attack each enemy in his melee range in a 360 degree arc. This means if he gets surrounded you can beat the tar out of each target. His sword has Beatback, meaning if he hits someone he can move them an inch and move an inch as well, allowing him to bounce around like a crazy person. He has 6 Warjack points, and DEF 17 with ARM 14. He is a bit harder to hit (really hard if you think about it) but if you do hit him its gonna hurt. This can be mitigated by using his own spell Storm Rager on him, which would give him +2 ARM (Along with +2 MAT and STR).
Now Shae has a few different spells, and they are all solid. Coup de Main lets everyone in his CTRL area gain +2in Movement and can charge for free. For 3 FOC this is expensive but its something you can use to close the distance faster and save FOC for boosting attack and damage rolls as needed. Blow the Man Down is a POW 15 attack spell with a cost of 3 FOC, and if the model is HIT, not damage, its knocked down. You can use that to setup some decent assassinations but its cost is a bit high. Storm Rager is an Upkeep and one from the look of it that you should be casting turn 1 and keeping up on a target, as it grants +2 STR / MAT / ARM and makes the target immune to CRA / CMA. That’s an crazy boost and you could even cast it on Shae himself to make him even more of a monster. I would probably use it on someone like Hawk or Braddigan though to make them more dangerous. Phantasm is another Upkeep that makes RNG attacks targeting the unit/model to suffer -5 RNG which helps keep them alive. Finally Veil of Mists is another fun spell, but once again with a cost of 3 FOC. It lets you put a 4 inch AOE anywhere completely within Shae’s CTRL area (which is 12). This AOE is a cloud effect that does not block LOS for friendly models, and if they move into it they gain Pathfinder and can move thru obstructions and other models if they have enough movement to pass them. You can use this to setup tricky charges and whatnot and get through rough terrain quickly as well. My big issue here is with all these awesome spells and only 6 FOC (and 2 upkeeps that you WILL want up) how are you going to manage his focus? I mean you cast both upkeeps turn 1 for a total of 4 FOC, and then each turn after that you will only have 4 FOC to work with. That’s one of his other spells, or you can allocate some to his Jacks.
Now, if I was taking Shae I would probably take 2 jacks (because of the FOC issue), and then infantry. I would also take the Commodore Cannon. That single cannon is amazing and should not be skipped when taking Shae. Plain and simple.
Fiona the Black:
Finally we have Fiona the Black, the only female Pirate Caster, and what I consider to be the closest to an infantry caster that the pirates have. She is also the primary Spellcaster, as you do not want to get this girl into melee. She is DEF 16 ARM 15, FOC 7 and 15 boxes. She also has 6 War Jack points. We are going to start with her feat, which is a pretty solid feat. All enemies in her CTRL area roll 1 less attack and damage die for 1 whole round. This, coupled with her 14in CTRL area makes you have 1 turn of hard to kill models. At first glance Fiona looks like a support caster, best used in 2 caster games, and in some cases I think that’s true. But I also think that she can stand on her own as well, it just takes proper management of her spell list, which is where her power lies. Before I get into that let me talk about her 2 special abilities. One is Cultists, where you designate a single unit of Sea Dogs (and apparently anything marked as a Sea Dog unit applies) and if she starts her turn within 1 inch of someone in that unit she gets an extra FOC, giving her 8 that turn. That’s huge. My suggestion? Sea Dog Deck Gun. It doesn’t have to move, and its ranged, letting her stand back near her cultists. Second is Whiplash. Miss her with a spell attack and the attacker gets automatically hit, and if its an AOE its centered on the attacker. With a DEF 16 she can cause some issues.
Ok, so her spell list, what makes her unique and dangerous. We are gonna start at the top with her spell Affliction. This spell makes every unit who attacks the target model or unit Anatomical Precision against it. Put this on a high armor target and you are gonna be assured to do at least 1 point of damage per attack against it. Its an upkeep as well. The RNG is short (RNG 8) but her other spells make up for it. Next up is Influence, which lets her take control of a enemy model and have it make a normal attack against someone in range. You can use this to have her smack infantry with each other. Now what makes Influence useful is the cost – 1 FOC. You can basically spam this spell and have a unit of infantry, if you are lucky, chew itself up. After Influence you have Nonokrion Brand, which allows the unit or model its cast on ignore intervening models when making ranged attacks. It also makes its weapon a magic attack. How is this useful? Put it on a Mariner, which is RNG 15. You can now fire straight down the line and if the enemy caster is within 15in its no longer safe. And you KNOW that 14in is your CTRL area. See how that works? All of a sudden you can have a wall of protection with Fiona and a ranged unit or model and still get shots off.
Up next you have her spell Roth’s Mercy. Now this is one of the spells in the game that kinda confuses me. I mean, I get it, I think. With the rules for field promoting the only use I can see of this spell is protecting UA / WA of a unit, as they become part of the unit. What Roth’s Mercy does is let YOU decide which model is destroyed in a unit when a model is destroyed. I can also see a use of this on multiwound infantry. For example: You have a full health model and one with 1 box left. The Full one gets hit and would be destroyed, you then just sacrifice the one that only has one box left, thus making all the extra damage dealt useless. After Roth’s Mercy comes her primary attack spell, Soulfire. Its cost is 2 FOC, but if you kill something with it you get a FOC back. Its only POW 12 though, so yet again its an infantry clearer. You can use this and Influence to clear out infantry pretty handily. Finally you have her spell Telgesh mark, and this is what makes all her spells come together. Telgesh Mark makes the target act as an Arc Node. Now its not a full arc node but the wording of the spell makes the target follow the RULES of an Arc Node. So now you can use her 14in CTRL area and really get those spells out there.
Overall, Fiona really favors a mix of stuff, but most of her spells work kind of strange. I am still not sure exactly how she works, but reading about her makes me think she needs protection and a ranged option or two for the Nonokrion Brand spell.
So there you have it. The three Privateer Casters. I hope this post has shed some light on my thoughts and feelings of each of them. You can blame Gday for this post as well! I am also taking suggestions all the time for what I should post or what you would like to see, so if you got something please let me know.