You may have noticed throughout my previous article that I nebulously alluded to the support that makes the Protectorate Gunline function. Support is truly where it’s at – it’s what makes the gunline so fearsome and so versatile. Protectorate battlegroups rely on these models, spells, and abilities in order to maintain their deadly efficacy. Without further ado, let me introduce you to…
Say hello to your new best friends. Protectorate Warjacks without the Choir make the baby creator cry. The choir is going in your list. Period. End of story. Prepare to get intimately familiar with the ins and outs of these choirboys, because they make it all come together.
The two tunes you will use the majority of the time are Passage and Battle. Shielding has its place, but it is far more situational than the other two. I don’t think I need to cover Battle very much – it’s obviously bonkers good and you should use it any time you can get away with it. It’s what empowers the versatility of Protectorate Warjacks and makes them the terrors they are at all stages of the game.
However, I want to talk to you about Passage and encourage you to truly think about the difference between Passage and Battle on each and every one of your turns. As a general rule, you should Battle anytime you have the upper hand in shooting and Passage anytime you don’t. Passage may severely diminish your damage output, but when used properly it will induce table-flipping levels of anger. Getting shot by piddly guns is annoying; getting shot by piddly guns that you can’t shoot back at is downright rage-worthy – especially when those piddly guns are capable of beating you to a pulp when you finally close the gap.
There are entire lists that simply cannot deal with Passage-d warjacks. Your battlegroup will nearly always be better than the other guy’s at either shooting or melee – choose your Hymn appropriately.
As a general rule I’d include a minimum unit of these guys for up to 3 warjacks, and bump up to a max unit when you hit 4 or more. The spares come in more handy than you may realize. People are getting wise to this whole Choir thing and they will try to pick off the hapless boys wherever they can. Keep them secret, keep them safe, and they’ll introduce your opponent to worlds of pain.
Your local bondage afficionados are your other new best friends. These guys (or girls, whatever you’re into) are pretty straightforward at first glance. Ancillary = more attacks = more good. Enliven = more move = more good. The key, though, is that all of this happens in an out-of-activation manner. I’m too lazy to type the words out-of-activation-attack a dozen more times in this section, so I want you to imagine out-of-activation-attacks as a really sexy girl/boy named Sam.
Sam has immense benefits that you may not even realize at first. Using Ancillary attack to give a model Sam effectively gives that model virtuoso. Using Sam lets you pre-measure charge ranges – you’re allowed to measure how far away your target is, which is really nice when you’re unsure whether that warjack is 10” or 10.2” away. Sam lets you shoot and then safely back out of charge range – the Protectorate’s equivalent of Sprint. On Reckoners, Sam lets you apply Flare to targets you don’t necessarily want to Assault or commit to shooting, or simply to reduce the DEF of a target before you charge it anyway. Sam allows you to free yourself from melee so that you can keep shooting – or simply pop off a shot once you are done beating someone down in melee. More than anything, despite being unboostable, Sam effectively doubles your Rate of Fire. Two 4” Auto-fire templates or 8” sprays or 12” crit fire shots a turn sucks. Four of them is downright mean.
Sam, of course, is only half of what Vassals let you do. Enliven is Samantha’s hot sister/brother, Alex.
Alex lets you be incredibly aggressive without having to submit to piece-trading. Plopping a juicy Reckoner within charge range of a warbeast and then giving it Alex will put them in a tenuous position – one where they MUST counter Enliven before they can eat your Warjack. Alex also means that your opponent must be careful with his order of activations – pinging an Alex’d warjack too late in a turn will let you move it up the field and into charge range of something good. Alex has plenty of counters, but over time you will learn to counter Alex counters, making it all the more frustrating to deal with.
Given that you’re probably going with the gunline approach, expect to be using Sam quite a bit more often than you use Alex. Sam is a huge firepower booster and gives your warjacks a lot of flexibility in their activations. Any turn you commit to shooting, plan on using Sam liberally. On turns you engage in melee, use Alex to potentially avoid having to piece trade.
Vassals of Menoth are unfortunately limited by being FA:2 – just field as many of them as you feel comfortable with. I generally include one if I have two warjacks and two if I have any more than that.
Reclaimers are the best kept secret of the Protectorate. It’s hard to tell under all those robes, but these dudes are absolutely jacked. Which is to say, they’re difficult to use properly at first – protecting a 13/13 solo takes quite a bit of practice – but oh boy will you feel good about yourself once you get one of these babies purring. Just think of them like Jack Marshals (except they’re actually good) and protect them appropriately. Running a Warjack “for free” in addition to force multipliers like the Choir and Vassals is practically cheating.
Out-of-control-phase-allocation has a ridiculous number of advantages. First and foremost, it’s obviously less strain on your warcaster’s focus supply, freeing them to do other overpowered stuff like cast Purification or Force Hammer. Beyond that, you can get around things like eEiryss, Blight Field, or other stuff that prevents allocation during the Control Phase. Being able to remove the offending effect and then power up the warjack anyway will catch a lot of people off guard – and let you deliver unto them the beatdown they so richly deserve. Even less expected is the Reclaimer going to work himself – he’s actually plenty capable at MAT6, Reach, and the ability to boost – not to mention his melee attacks light stuff on fire, and he’s basically immune to single-wound infantry!
If you’re on the fence about trying one of these guys, go out and buy one and force yourself to play him. They take getting used to, but once you get the hang of them you will hardly know what to do with your newfound power.
Holt sports an attractive set of Hand Cannons at an impressive RAT 8 – but he’s not really the point here. Aiyana is the chick you want. Kiss of Lylyss is basically the only damage buff available to the Protectorate that enhances Ranged attacks. Lyransur’s Touch is nice when it comes up, but really only comes into its own in mirror matches or against warcasters with Wind Wall – either way your objective should be to get Kiss onto something heavy and put it into the dirt with your guns.
If your warcaster has a way to deal with defensive tech like Shadow Pack, then Aiyana & Holt should be your support of choice.
Yet again, you get a set of bodyguards who are basically a sideshow to the man himself. Rhoven is the only source of direct anti-stealth and the only way to ignore Cloud effects. Protectorate’s ranged game relies quite a bit on Blast damage to take care of solos/units with Stealth, but if you find your list light on that particular tool, bring Rhoven along so you can at least reach out and touch things with Stealth.
If your warcaster is of the non-Purification variety, you should probably include Rhoven & Honor Guard to get rid of defensive barriers.
This spell gets its own section because it’s basically the only buff to ranged attacks in the faction. Better than that, it makes you even better at melee. Reckoners at MAT8, P+S19 with a RAT7, POW15 gun are mean. Reckoners at MAT9, P+S20 with a RAT8, POW16 gun are dumb. Dumb good. Vanquishers, Repenters, Redeemers, whatever you use with Eye of Menoth, it gets straight silly quick. While the warcaster it comes on doesn’t have a lot of answers to shooting defenses the way Purification casters do, he makes you good at everything.
Purification is a defense fixer. I’m not even going to say much about it, instead I will simply present you with a list of effects that this spell is capable of removing that directly impede ranged attacks.
Fail Safe, Blur, Fortify, Arcane Shield, Force Field, Foxhole, Inviolable Resolve, Defender’s Ward, Holy Ward, Occultation, Ashen Veil, Iron Flesh, Sidearms, Superiority, Fog of War, Escort, Weald Secrets, Hellbound, Dragon Slayer, Death Ward, Spectral Steel, Quicken, Sure Foot, Phantasm, Storm Rager, Countermeasure, Bullet Dodger, Rock Wall, Solid Ground, Temper Metal, Bomb Shelter, Transmute, Flaming Fists, Swarm, Rapid Growth, Stone Skin, Shadow Pack, Forced Evolution, Restoration, Winter Coat, Flesh of Clay, Wild Growth, Dragon’s Blood, Spiny Growth, Excessive Healing, Hollow, Paralytic Aura, Death Pact, and Vision.
I’ll just let that wall of text speak for itself. Purification is good, mmkay?
Knockdown is very straightforward in the ways it benefits shooting. First and most obvious, knocked-down models are easy to hit at DEF 5. More importantly, though, knocked-down models do not block LoS, nor do they count as engaged or engaging. This means you get maximum mileage out of Errants, Zealots, Redeemers, and Judicators against knocked-down targets.
Obviously the most convenient source of Knockdown is pKreoss’s feat, but don’t discount things like the Knight Exemplar Seneschal, Slams, Throws, or spells like Force Hammer when considering your options. Knocking down a couple key models and filling them with Redeemer rockets makes for a bad day.
And yes, I’m aware pKreoss is featured as an image twice here. It’s quite intentional – the dude’s a boss.
Before you get excited, I know Ignite is a Melee damage buff. However, what Ignite affords you is zero loss in hitting power on your Vanquishers, Redeemers, and Repenters. POW20 Vanquishers are plenty capable of one-rounding other heavies in ways that POW18 Vanquishers dont. POW17 Lights are just dirty good. Ignite lets you run more Vanquishers and more Lights without having to worry about your hitting power.
So there you have the support pieces that will let you dominate the ranged game any day of the week. The Choir is like the delicious center of the protectorate cake, with the Vassals, support units, and spells being the icing and sprinkles on top. Bring an appropriate amount of each and you’ll find very few things will stop your shooting barrage.
In my next article we’ll look at bringing everything together to assemble some lists using the ludicrous, amazing options we’ve explored in these articles.