Thursday, January 26, 2012

Warmachine the Way I See It: Warcaster Study, The Harbinger

[This article is part of the Warmachine the Way I See It series.]

My Harbinger is sitting on a shelf just begging to be painted.  It's really bothering me actually.  I am stoked about getting her painted, but know I need to get some other stuff painted first so I can start fielding a fully painted 35pt. army.  Thus, she waits. 

However, that won't stop me from talking about her.  The Harbinger is perhaps one of the coolest and most competitive warcasters we have in terms of gameplay.  While her basic stats aren't good (low ARM, DEF, MAT, RAT, STR), she has two very good stats, CMD and focus.  The reasons these two things matter the most is because they are what drive the Harbinger.  Everything she does well is wrapped up in these two stats.  Both CMD and focus are an amazing and respectable 10.  This means that both control areas, command and focus, are fairly large allowing you the ability to deny access to the Harbinger while allowing easy board control and the ability to affect her army in an efficient manner. 

The Harby's spell list is pretty sweet.  Cataclysm is easily one of the most devestating AoE spells out there.  If you are good enough to get the Harby close when she casts it, she can really cause some damage.  What's better is that you can't harm your own models with blast damage.  Crusader's Call is a game changing buff.  The ability to speed up our slow units and warjacks is awesome.  Considering the Harby's huge control area, you are essentially speeding up your whole army when they charge.  Fear of God is situational, but having the ability to prevent a unit from using a special order or attack is amazing. The issue is the proximity Harby has to get into to cast it.  Guided Hand is also situational, but a good fallback when you know you have to hit.  I see this being cast on that turn where you know you have to make an assassination run or you are toast in your opponent's turn.  Purification is just a pain in the butt for casters who rely on buffing their army.  Since the Harby has so much focus, she doesn't feel the loss of 3 focus like other casters do.

While some casters are all about their feat, or slinging spells, or even having a fairly nasty melee run, the Harby is all about focus.  In fact, most lists taking the Harby will center around creating as much focus efficiency as possible.  Even though she has 10 focus, she is a warjack caster. In my opinion, she is best when running a brick of heavies. However, this bears with it the obvious fact that she will be doling out the focus.  This is where intelligent list construction really comes in to play. 

First let's look at support.  The harby needs to maxmize focus.  The more she has, the better.  Three models come to mind when considering this.  1) Wracks.  The ability to harvest three focus is huge.  All for a single point.  This is an amazing unit, but is totally dice dependent.  If you roll low, bang!  No more wrack.  However, this can also be used to deny areas to your opponent.  No one wants to be stuck in a 5" POW 14 AoE. If you roll well, though, you get an extra focus a turn.  Again this is a bargain.  2) Reclaimer.  If you are going to run infantry, which most of us do, a reclaimer can really help out with the process of allocating focus to warjacks.  Especially in objective scenarios where both sides are dashing for the center of the board, infantry is going to get chopped up quickly.  In this case, the reclaimer bypasses the Harby's need to allocate focus, by taking souls and allocating them as focus to warjacks for her.  This is huge.  Again, he can get up to 5 soul tokens a turn, so that is a huge benefit when you are running a bunch of heavies that are hungry for focus.  The big problem is that infantry dies relatively easy, so a reclaimer can find himself out of the job quickly in especially bloody battles.  3) Hierophant.  This guy doesn't add focus, but he does make casting spells a lighter burden on Harby.  Being able to cast a spell per turn at -1 focus can be huge. 

With support options considered, we now need to consider warjacks.  The obvious first consideration is perhaps our best melee heavy, The Avatar.  If the Harby is all about her focus, the Avatar is an auto-include.  Not only is he awesome in combat.  Not only is he part of the Harby's tiered list (should you want to go there). He generates his own focus.  That is huge.  Every turn he generates D3 + 1 focus.  This means that you are able to allocate more than the normal amount of focus to him.  It also means that he will always have at least 2 focus. The important part for Harby is that this guy frees her focus pool to be used elsewhere. 

The rest of the jacks you select are going to be based on personal tastes, but some tend to want more focus than others.  A repenter, though not heavy, is a great jack because it is relatively focus efficient, normally only wanting a single focus to buff its flamethrower.  Vanquisher is the same way.  Their main purpose is setting stuff on fire.  On the other hand, your melee jacks are doing to want some more focus.  A Crusader will want the full three to make the most of his mace. 

From there, I find it best to pepper in units to taste.  Errants are a great choice.  So are Flameguard.  A Choir, Covenant, and a Vassal or two will also be well spent.  Since Harby likes warjacks, anthing that can buff them is definitely good.

I have recently worked on a list for the Harbinger at 50pt.  It uses a lot of what I have talked about here to maximize her focus pool.  Here it is:

Harbinger +5
- Crusader -6
- Reckoner -8
- Vanquisher -8
- Hierophant -2

Avatar -11
6 Choir of Menoth -3
Min Errants + UA -7
Knights Exemplar -5
Covenant -2
Vassal -2
3 Wracks -1

This gives us a possible 11 focus to play with and practically gives us a maximum of 17 if you consider the Avatar freeing up focus and getting its maximum allotment.  The Hierophant makes Crusader's Call or Catalcysm a bit easier to stomach when you need them and can help out should you need to use Martyrdom and need a bit of healing.  A Reclaimer would be a good addition to this army, but I felt the covenant was a better option for keeping my warjacks going.  This is definitely a heavy jack list.  The Errants are my tarpit with Exemplars as a counterattack element.  The Vassal, Covenant, and  Choir keep the warjacks running and dangerous. 

This is not a revolutionary list.  However, I think it does accentuate Harby's strengths in that she has a huge control and command area, she has tons of focus, so can easily hand it out to warjacks and still camp quite a bit or cast spells.  She can be played back quite a bit meaning you don't feel so threatened.  She is great at denying opponents the ability to make an assassination run while at the same time being able to run her jacks far forward with little trouble.  She can also keep infantry alive well with Martyrdom, if you used wisely. All of this combined make her a very competitive warcaster for the Protectorate.

Here are some other Warmachine articles:
Warmachine the Way I See It: Warcaster Study, pKreoss
The Harbinger of Menoth: Model Review
How Important is the Front Arc, Really?
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1 comment:

Bullockist Len said...

wracks only give you one focus a turn. A warcaster can only grab a free focus once a turn.

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