Ahh, Vindictus. Few warcasters are subject to such intensely divided opinions as the man in the (egg) suit. When I first looked at Vindictus, I was puzzled how anyone could hate a caster that can turn a Throne of Everblight into a Zealot. Yes, his feat is heavily matchup-dependent. Yes, he’s not exactly the best “closer” in with his wimpy non-reach P+S12 weapons. But seriously, Vindictus is so bad-ass he can convince a 50-foot tall tentacle horror to bow down and throw bombs in the name of the Lawgiver. Oh, and he’s got possibly the best defensive buff in the game, Defender’s Ward, and possibly the best infantry mobility buff in the game, True Path. He’s also got two feats, though the second one is a little subtle but highly relevant (more on that later). What else could you possibly need?
Well, if we’re being honest and truthful (and anything else is punishable by wracking, immolation, or both), Vindictus lacks any accuracy buffs or damage buffs. He also doesn’t do very much for non-warrior models, namely Warjacks. Fortunately, we have ample opportunities to fix that. What follows is a list of things that I find indispensable in virtually every Vindictus list I construct. They are the core of the engine that makes him work as a competitive warcaster.
You’re taking a unit of Zealots with a Monolith Bearer. No, I don’t care if the event is Mangled Metal/Tooth and Claw, just promise your TO that Monolith Bearers are actually Light Warjacks (don’t actually do this – see my earlier note on truthfulness and wracking).
Got a unit in your list? Good, now let’s talk about why that was a fantastic decision. You see, the second feat I alluded to earlier directly involves these guys. The feat may as well read, “For one round, Vindictus cannot be damaged by ranged attacks.” You can accomplish this feat fairly simply by leaving one or two Zealots within 3″ of Vindictus with Greater Destiny active. I usually use the Monolith Bearer just because he’s usually lagging behind the others, but any member will do. Anytime your enemy is foolish enough to directly hit Vindictus with a ranged attack, Sacrifical Pawn the attack off to the Zealot, who will take no damage. Then chuckle to yourself heartily and say four prayers to Menoth as thanks for His protection.
That’s basically the sum of what Zealots do for Vindictus, but don’t worry, he also does a lot for them. You see, in the Protectorate there is one and only one buff to the effective range of Zealot bombs – True Path. Zealots directly threaten models 13″ away under True Path, and can threaten further with fortunate scatters. They can also mini-feat and run an impressive 14″ in order to screw with your opponents’ plans. They can also advance straight through Forests, Rough Terrain, Shallow Water, and anything else that might give them trouble – allowing them to get the jump on otherwise faster units.
They’re also dangerous to just about anything, especially if buffed in any manner (see below). High Defense infantry generally do not like POW8 blasts that cannot deviate far enough to miss. High Armor infantry generally do not like being directly hit by POW14 bombs with crit fire. Finally, nobody but nobody likes infantry that can be virtually invincible for a turn.
Truly, Zealots and Vindictus were made for each other. If your list doesn’t at least include a minimum unit of these fantastic little… zealots, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Aiyana & Holt
You may find it strange that the second unit on this list is a one that can’t benefit from True Path or Defender’s Ward, but Aiyana & Holt are a staple of a successful Vindictus list. You see, what Vindictus truly enables are stupid fast weaponmaster infantry. Bastions, Cinerators, Knights Exemplar, Errants, and even Forge Guard with proper supervision attain ludicrous speed and mobility under True Path. This is something you won’t find anywhere else in the Protectorate – heavy-cracking hitting power that is fast and packs Pathfinder.
However, there are limitations to all the infantry listed above. They generally don’t push past P+S12, with Knights getting slightly higher as more of their unit is whittled away. Enter Aiyana and her Kiss of Lylyss, which will pump those little infantrymen from fairy damaging to critically damaging. P+S14 Blessed Halberds from Bastions will kill heavies dead. P+S up to 18 on Knights Exemplar is silly. Kiss of Lylyss even bumps Zealot bombs to a terrifying P+S16 direct or P+S10 blast damage. This pair will save you from having to bring extra Warjacks to get the job done – with a simple kiss, you’ll be wrecking heavy targets left and right with a paltry investment of points. The pair directly alleviates Vindictus’s potential issues with heavy armor by providing the damage buff he lacks.
Oh, and Holt’s a Quick-Drawing RAT8 dual Hand Cannon-having monster of a ranged piece. I guess he can come along too.
I know everyone outside the Protectorate is probably going to groan at this piece of advice, because they’ve been being worked over by these do-everything warjacks for a while now. But I promise, there is a very specific reason we want to bring one of these guys along: Flare.
Flare is the only DEF debuff available in the Protectorate short of knockdown. Fortunately it comes on a RNG12 often RAT7 boost-able gun that also happens to inflict a boostable POW15 on the unlucky recipient. For Vindictus, this bumps the effective MAT of those lovely Exemplar troopers from a 7 to a 9 on their target – a very handy bonus when going up against more dodgy targets like Warpwolves, the Deathjack, or Molik Karn. Not to mention it makes Zealots RAT8 with Fervor. The Reckoner is the second piece of enabling your infantry models to unleash utter hell on the opponent, and while it’s true that he’s generally only debuffing one target a round, putting 4-5 Bastions into that target after shooting it up means it will probably not be living long enough to criticize that fact.
Perhaps the most important point of your Reckoner is that he is your end-game. Vindictus can get it done personally versus a lot of warcasters, but your game plan in almost every matchup is to grind the opponent down until you have a Reckoner and they have nothing. And I’m told that a Reckoner beats nothing most days of the week. Lean heavily on your infantry to get things done – and keep your Reckoner safe whenever possible. He is going to win you the game.
Yes, he is going to suck 2-3 of Vindictus’s focus every turn, but you will love him for it, and he’s not hard to power when he’s your only heavy. More on that later.
Right now counts as later, right? Because say hello to your new Heavy Warjacks – your focus-independent, Pathfinding SPD6 Blessed Reach Heavy Warjacks. Bastions have other roles in other lists, but in Vindictus’s army, Bastions have one and only one job – cracking heavy armor. Unlike Knights Exemplar with their questionable defensive stats, Bastions are virtually impossible to take down before they make their 11″ charge straight into your opponent’s valuables. Unlike other Heavy Warjacks, they’re not nearly as vulnerable to shooting, losing systems, or being wrecked by other heavies, as even heavies with Reach will struggle to engage more than a couple if properly spaced.
Basically they are an inevitable “you will be taking POW12+ Weaponmaster hits” truck that chugs down the table behind your lighter infantry and kills or cripples any threats to your Reckoner. And unlike with other casters, they don’t lag behind the rest. With a 10″ Run and an 11″ charge threat range, they’re going to get there.
I have yet to experiment heavily with the Bastion Seneschal with Vindictus, but all indications would point toward him being a solid investment.
Hierophant and Wracks
loves needs focus help. On nearly every turn Vindictus’s plan is to upkeep Defender’s Ward and cast True Path. Without outside assistance, this leaves him with a paltry 2 focus left over – enough to power a Reckoner but not enough to truly satisfy it. Enter the Hierophant and Wracks. Though the Hierophant’s +2 RNG and Healing are often not used, Harmonious Exaltation alone is worth the 2-point investment. He just makes Vindictus sing. Wracks are fairly obvious in their implication, and I’m told Vindictus is on a strict Wrack-only diet these days (how else would you explain those legs?).
Now our piddly 2 focus left over has blossomed to 4 focus. Now we can fully run a Reckoner and one of his buddies without issue. We can even throw in Sacrificial Lamb for those turns when we need all our Repenters to have 1 focus, or when we simply want to camp the extra 3 and still spread the love around. My personal favorite is allocating one to a Reckoner, two to a Redeemer, and topping it off with Sacrifical Lamb on an extra choir boy. Half a turn later there is usually a very, very unhappy heretic heavy who just took a boosted Pow 15 and two boosted POW 14s (god help them if Aiyana was anywhere nearby). Not only that, but he’s facing the prospect of taking it all over again next turn if he can’t chew through 4 or 5 Greater Destiny Zealots, an entire unit of Bastions, and then deal with the Enliven I just threw on the Reckoner. All in all, no fun for anyone but the Lawbringer and his armies.
All of this is possible with the Hierophant and Wracks. They really enable Vindictus to step outside the Infantry-spam box and field a battlegroup that, while small, is capable of incredible damage. I prefer the Redeemer in addition to the mandatory Reckoner, but Vanquishers and Repenters also come highly recommended.
I hope this overview gave all you faithful a good idea on how to build for Vindictus and the things you can take to address his weaknesses. True Path, Defender’s Ward Infantry really are that good, and when you can give them even the smallest buff to their offensive output, they will blow up the heathen’s world from further away then they’re capable of dealing with.