Don’t call it a comeback. The man who wen to Urcaen and back and emerged with a shiny new axe (strangely at the exact same POW as his torch – Menoth works in mysterious ways) has seen a surge in popularity recently – and to hear it from a lot of top players, it’s surprising it took so long. Maybe it’s because he didn’t speak up when we were asking what we should do about the colossal meta. Maybe it’s his crippling fear of models that lack eyes. Maybe we just forgot how utterly tilting denial of LoS can be in a meta that’s evolved to heavily favor ranged attacks.
Well, our days of forgetting are over. Let’s go over some basic assertions about the High Reclaimer and then go into why they combine to make him one heck of a warcaster.
- High Reclaimer’s weakness to Legion, and cloud ignoring effects in general, is heavily overblown.
- High Reclaimer is extremely effective against lists that rely on Colossals to get their work done.
- High Reclaimer is one of a tiny minority of warcasters that can meaningfully protect Objectives from harm.
- High Reclaimer is so much more than Burning Ash
- High Reclaimer is one of the most difficult casters in the game to keep “safe.”
High Reclaimer’s weakness to Legion, and cloud ignoring effects in general, is heavily overblown.
Let’s start our exploration of Menoth’s mobile grave marker by addressing the reason he’s often dismissed out-of-hand when considering “competitive” casters. We’re going to expend quite a bit of sacred text on this because it’s one of the primary complaints leveled at the poor guy. “He can’t beat Legion!” cry those weak of faith. “Eyeless sight makes him useless!” yell the unbelievers. “<insert ability here> ignores cloud effects and totally screws him!” shout the heathen before they are summarily wracked. Well, they’re not entirely wrong (despite being entirely wracked) – a High Reclaimer list that relies on Burning Ash to win is going to suffer when facing large amounts of Eyeless Sight and Phantom Seeker.
Let’s first address the point that Legion and Ret will just flat-out beat High Reclaimer every time. Those factions still employ a lot of models that do not ignore clouds – the list of models that ignore clouds is extremely small and largely confined to a single faction. Arguing that High Reclaimer is noncompetitive because Legion exists is much like arguing that Eiryss is unplayable because Legion exists or Gorman is unplayable because Cygnar exists. These models’ abilities are so game-bendingly good that it’s worth the risk that they won’t get any work done.
I think this sentence is the crux of the issue – a High Reclaimer list that relies on Burning Ash to win is going to suffer when facing large amounts of Eyeless Sight and Phantom Seeker. It’s a mantra about list-building and list-running with the High Reclaimer that causes much of the perception that he’s non-competitive. It’s easy to get into the mindset of, “I could run 18 Knights Exemplar and 20 Cleansers with High Reclaimer and there won’t be anything my opponent can do! Well, unless I face Legion or Ret or Skorne, in which case I’m screwed…” When making a list for High Reclaimer, it’s extremely important to ask yourself (or Menoth) what your list will do when you can’t cast Burning Ash.
There’s plenty of reasons this might happen. Having Orin Midwinter all up in your business, getting High Reclaimer shot by pEiryss, being under pSevvy’s Feat (he’s not the real Severius!), or or simply needing to allocate focus or lay down an Ashes to Ashes are all great reasons you can’t/won’t put down 6 clouds a turn. So what does your army do when it can’t hide? If your answer is along the lines of, “it just continues to smash face,” you’ve got yourself a strong army. Having an army that is capable of completely blowing out a game when Burning Ash is effective is nice, but think of it this way – an army capable of winning a game without Burning Ash can be greatly enhanced by Burning Ash. Essentially,if you look at Burning Ash as a disabling effect (I can prevent enemy shooting and charges) rather than an enabling effect (I can run tons of units with poor defensive stats), you’ll be on your way to making far more effective lists. It’s like Eiryss or Gorman – some games Eyeless Sight/True Shot will make those models useless, other times Black Oil/Disruptor Bolt/Burning Ash will outright win you the game. As long as your entire strategy doesn’t revolve around one of those things, your list will do just fine.
High Reclaimer is extremely effective against lists that rely on colossals to get their work done.
Colossals and gargantuans are among the biggest defining characteristics of the current meta. Nobody likes the Stormwall, except maybe those extra-heretical eHaley lovers. Wouldn’t you like a reason to make the eHaley player sweat and nervously look at their other list, wondering aloud if they can deal with getting zero shots in the entire game? Try not to get a big head over the huge crowd of fans you’ll accrue who have sat down to watch the Stormwall do nothing useful all game. This doesn’t just apply to Stormwall either (though he’s definitely the colossal you’ll see the most), no colossal is worth its points without its guns. Colossals hit hard in melee, but nowhere near their points costs (Stormwall only barely hits harder than a Stormclad, and at MAT6 to boot), and they have to open themselves to massive counterattack when they get into melee. Perhaps worst of all their fat-ass bases are terrible at fighting anywhere near walls or obstructions.
High Reclaimer shuts their guns down, and he shuts them down hard. Cloud-ignoring tech usable by colossals tends to be extremely corner-case outside of Rhoven and the Old Witch of Khador. Ryan of the Black 13th can put down a Fire Beacon, but he has to catch an actual model in the AoE for the Stormwall to shoot. Galleon’s got nothing (as far as I know) – and the majority of lists that involve a Galleon go completely belly up when the Galleon has nothing to shoot at. Double Stormwall lists are similarly completely boned when fighting the High Reclaimer – those colossals just aren’t effective without their guns to do work.
Gargantuans are a bit of a different tale if only because most have higher quality melee attacks and more reason to get there (mostly FURY5). They don’t suffer nearly as much under High Reclaimer but not being able to charge does make them quite a bit less useful. Perhaps the best part about both gargantuans and colossals is that they’re extremely predictable in their movement (with the possible exception of eHaley’s bonded Stormwall), meaning that it’s fairly straightforward to keep them behind a cloud wall all game long. So the next time you’re sweating about beating an unbeatable colossal, just reach for HR.
High Reclaimer is one of a tiny minority of warcasters that can meaningfully protect Objectives from harm.
This is a relatively minor point but I feel it merits mentioning as one of High Reclaimer’s greatest strengths. There are really precious few ways to prevent a Steamroller 2013 from taking harm from range – Burning Ash is one of the very few. Getting a leg up in scenario can be pretty easy when you can spare a few clouds to protect an objective – fairly easy when your army is also contained behind the same cloud wall. Denying an objective kill early in the game (especially when it’s one of the ones that needs to be killed to score a zone!) is a powerful advantage.
High Reclaimer is so much more than Burning Ash
Sure, High Reclaimer’s spell list isn’t that extensive or impressive, but a lot of it is relevant. We’ve waxed eloquent for quite a long time about the merits of Burning Ash, but there’s plenty more to be discovered on this bad boy’s card. It’s difficult to go into specifics because many of them involve synergies with specific models, but Resurrection (praise the Lawgiver!) is an absolutely incredible feat that has amazing versatility and is a huge attrition advantage. Bringing back an entire unit of Bastions or Vengers or even Idrians is a massive advantage in the “having more dudes than the other guy” department and the placement restrictions on the feat are so lax that you can engineer assassinations with a small amount of planning. Ashes to Ashes also doesn’t get nearly as much love as it should – converting 4 of your dead models into 1d6 dead enemy models is a pretty sweet deal by any account, especially when the other guy’s god is too lazy to bring his soldiers back. Sacrifical Lamb is incredibly build dependent but it’s a decent focus aid when you have 2-3 warjacks tagging along. Finally, don’t rule out Immolation when you’re sitting on a huge stack of souls – it may have very generic stats but it’s decent for scalpeling out models.
High Reclaimer is one of the most difficult casters in the game to keep “safe.”
We’ve got nearly 1500 words on why High Reclaimer is so awesome, but we should probably discuss what makes him so difficult to play at times. Even when your plan is going well, you’re chilling with your army behind a sweet smoke wall, nothing in the world could ruin your day… except a Molik Karn who just advanced 11″ through clouds and sent your caster on an all-expense-paid tour of Urcaen (don’t worry, he’ll be fine). High Reclaimer wants to be forward and relevant throughout the game, and at 14/15 with usually very little focus left over (Burning Ash is exhausting!) he falls over like a wet sock to basically anything. Learning to balance your need to utterly block LoS to every model from everything ever is a huge task that will often get your caster killed, which is why we spent so much time talking about planning for your army to not have Burning Ash cover all game long. Sometimes the best thing to do is have High Reclaimer hang back, chill out, have a nice smoke or two (just for his own personal use) and contemplate the meaning of reclaiming over his stack of 5 focus. Learning to protect HR is a skill that may take years to master, but once you do, you’ll have nothing but infuriating burning death to rain down on your opponents.
I hope this guide to Menoth’s newest oldest all-star has caused you renewed faith in the Lawgiver’s benevolence. I certainly expect your opponents will quickly consider conversion to the True Faith after a round or two with Menoth’s favorite Reclaimer.