Much ado has been made lately about the “Protectorate Gun Line.” According to the internet, Protectorate players are gravitating away from old standbys like the Avatar of Menoth and using models with guns! What makes those guns so special that they’re worth giving up 11 points of ARM21, spell-immune, self-powered, flame-bursting armor-cracking awesomeness? Well as it turns out, the Protectorate decided that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice melee power for ranged power – at least as long as you’re willing to bring along a couple of dudes with robes and oversized scrolls. Getting shot at by giant flame cannons sucks – it sucks even worse when you can’t shoot back, and it’s irritating when those “ranged” warjacks swing their melee weapons harder and more accurately than your “melee” warjacks.
Dedicating tons of time and resources to preventing the enemy army from shooting your own to bits only to have them beat your arse in melee is infuriating to play against – and anytime you can describe a playstyle as “infuriating,” you know it must be good.
So how might one go about assembling such an omnipotent, versatile, and “infuriating” army? Well, in the Protectorate, the key is Warjacks and their support. Sure, there’s plenty of infantry with ranged attacks in the faction, but the ones with the truly good ranged attacks are pretty pathetic in melee, and none of them are potentially MAT8, RAT7, immune to spells, immune to non-magical ranged attacks, capable of making out-of-activation attacks or movement, boostable, auto-fire, and… you get the picture.
The best part about this is that the battlegroup is actually fairly independent of the Warcaster. Obviously there’s a focus investment required to make this work, but the Warjacks + support will happily do their thing without having to worry about their Warcaster enabling them. Plus, in all honesty, a huge majority of Protectorate warcasters are far better off dumping their focus into warjacks than hoarding it or casting spells. Immolation and Cleansing Fire are cute, but Reckoner and Redeemer guns just get far more done.
Here’s the models you should be looking at if you too want to be the envy of every Cygnar battlegroup in the Iron Kingdoms.
Well. What can’t be said about the Reckoner? People will tell you it’s the best 8 points you can spend on a Warjack, and there’s no reason to disagree. It feels like the Reckoner beat up the other Protectorate warjacks and stole all their special rules, because it’s got about four times as many as the rest of them.
Let’s start with just the basic chassis – it’s SPD5, MAT6, RAT5, and carries a P+S17 Consecrator with Reach, as well as a RNG12, POW 13 gun with Critical Fire. Adding a Choir’s Battle hymn bumps that up to MAT8, RAT7, and P+S19/POW 15. This chassis has the best melee threat range (10”) available to a Protectorate warjack, the second-best shooting threat range (17”), and still packs the same punch as “dedicated” melee options like the Templar while being faster than nearly all of them. It’s already looking like a great value for 8 points.
But wait, there’s more! If you order now, we’ll include the very special rule Assault, which bumps the shooting threat range of this model up to an incredible 20”, as well as maintaining the equivalent of a second initial attack on turns it charges into melee. We guarantee you will enjoy the clever wording of Assault, which allows you to pick off models in melee with no penalty.
Buy within the next 15 minutes and we’ll even throw in Ashen Veil, bumping the effective DEF of this model up to 12 against most ranged attacks, as well as making life unpleasant for any living models within 2”. Finally, as a thanks for your purchase, we’ll even throw in a DEF debuff on the Condemnor cannon, which is unique in-faction and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any Redeemer or Judicator within range.
So, to summarize, the Reckoner has the best melee threat range, the second-best shooting threat range, the best defense, and the only DEF debuff in faction. If you’re not including at least one of these machines in your battlegroup, you better have a really good reason.
Not everyone can be the rockstar that is the Reckoner, but the Vanquisher certainly gives it a run for its money. For all its strengths, the Reckoner simply doesn’t pack a 4” template of fire-causing, sphincter-tightening power. The Vanquisher doesn’t mess around with lots of fancy special rules, it moves into range and puts a boosted POW14+2 shot into your noggin, which incidentally lights your noggin on fire. Despite the lackluster P+S16 on its primary melee weapon, it makes up for that with the often-useful Chain Weapon, as well as the convenient Thresher. Where the Reckoner is exceptional in taking down single targets, the Vanquisher is your go-to warjack for thinning out hordes of infantry or putting a column-sized dent into something across the field. If you need a warjack that’s hot, likes chains, and is up for anything, the Vanquisher is your ‘jack.
For when you want to reach out and touch something. Yes, I know, inaccurate sucks. Please remember to emphasize to your opponent how much inaccurate sucks the next time you allocate one of these things three focus, tag your target with a Reckoner, and then blow two columns off their heavy from 16” away. Better yet, remember to complain how bad RAT1 is the next time you’re launching 3 AoEs a turn into their squishy stealth infantry from 21” away. Just don’t mention that firing all three AoEs at a target within range has a roughly 70% chance of hitting at least once with a scatter, making it an excellent way to deal with pesky Iosans and Alchemists.
Do well to remember that the Redeemer is also one of the few Protectorate guns able to damage targets immune to Fire, so consider it heavily if you find yourself extremely invested in fire-based attacks.
Four points of unrivaled glory. Sure, it has to get within spitting distance of the enemy to use its spray to full effect, but seriously – four points. Those four points buy you a likely RAT7, PS14 gun that ignores concealment, cover, melee, and stealth, as well as a MAT8, PS15 Chain Weapon. These poor little guys are often overlooked in favor of more flashy options like the Vanquisher, but I assure you that even one of these little gems will not disappoint you. Small, spunky, and deliciously cheap, Repenters are your best friends when an 8” spray worth of stuff needs to die.
The big guy. Jack of a dozen nicknames. The Judicator combines bits of the Vanquisher, Redeemer, Repenter, and Crusader in equal parts, while remaining unique in many ways as well. It’s the only Protectorate ‘jack smart enough to not trip over shrubs or knee-high obstacles, and it’s the only one with a cortex that the Mechaniks bothered to equip with a surge protector.
The jury is still out on what exactly what role Judy will fill in Protectorate armies, but I can tell you that it absolutely positively loves three things in the world: being bonded to its warcaster, Reckoners, and being bonded to its warcaster. Combine the two and suddenly the RNG14, POW14 guns with inaccurate go from death to infantry and nuisances to heavies to “wasn’t there a warbeast standing there a minute ago?” After applying Flare, Battle, and a boost to hit, the Judicator will hit a DEF12 target ~85% of the time with boostable POW16 shots. Having that fourth focus to fully boost both ranged attacks is a big deal, as is Flare. Overall the Judicator is a solid piece that will probably be finding its way to a battlegroup near you come November.
Okay, you caught me. The Vessel isn’t a Warjack and you probably shouldn’t try to put it in a battlegroup unless you want to be smacked upside the head by the nearest judge. I think he still belongs in this discussion because he’s probably stealing the points you’d normally use to field a Warjack. Sure, he doesn’t have a ball-busting melee attack like the other models in this discussion, but hear me out. This guy is a godsend if your warcaster likes the perks of being in a committed relationship with a warjack but just doesn’t want to put out – focus, that is. Well, baby, the Vessel is your hot new friend. Packing the same heat as a Reckoner but totally self-sufficient, the Vessel is ready and willing to sacrifice his bodily health to make sure you stay satisfied – and that your enemies die in droves.
The gun speaks for itself – RAT6 and POW15, but the boosts come cheap and easy, and the extra hits from Admonisher are great for clearing out support models or really anything unfortunate enough to be standing nearby. The Miracles are each fantastic in and of themselves – and probably deserve an article all their own. Perhaps best of all, though, the Vessel is a safe haven for warcasters like Harbinger or pKreoss, who really want to be close to the action but forgot to put their armor on that morning. The Immunity: Fire seems like a throwaway until you play against Protectorate or Legion and watch them blow a gasket when they realize they have literally no good ways to deal with the thing from range. In any case, if you want some focus-independent shooting that’s boostable all day and is great at keeping your warcaster from catching stray bullets, the Vessel is your man… thing… vehicle… whatever.
So, now you’re in the know. The Protectorate’s stable of boostable guns is a clear path to victory, and carefully arranging your battlegroup can provide a solid backbone to support the rest of your army. In my next article I’ll cover the support and spells that make put this playstyle into overdrive, but for now consider your next Warjack/Battle Engine choices – more guns may be the answer to the issues you’ve been facing.