I’ve said a lot about the Protectorate’s stable of shooting warjacks, but occasionally the best way to serve the Creator isn’t versatility, it’s raw melee hitting power. The Protectorate’s arsenal of melee warjacks is no less impressive than the shooting gallery – featuring the resilience of the Templar, the efficiency of the Sanctifier, the economy of the Crusader, or simply the incredible hitting power offered by the Avatar of Menoth.
I feel that there’s one warjack in particular that often goes overlooked when considering a melee heavy – Fire of Salvation. Eternally relegated to Grand Exemplar Kreoss’s theme forces and never given a second glance, he is the hidden gem in the Protectorate’s arsenal. His hitting power is second only to the Avatar, his accuracy is unmatched, and under the right circumstances, his threat range is absolutely unparalleled.
Sounds like a great deal, right? Let’s break him down, part by part, and see how we can use him to our advantage.
Our star of the day starts with the basic stats of a Crusader – including the Inferno Mace and Open Fist, with a couple of exceptions. His MAT is increased by 1, resulting in a healthy MAT9 when buffed by the Choir. His SPD is also higher by a point, which is key to getting up the field quickly. At a run, he will outpace a Crusader by 2″ per turn. His Mace, “Absolver,” absolves whatever it hits of being not on fire. This is rarely relevant, as most things that eat a P+S20 mace are usually in too many pieces to care about being on fire, but it’s a nice bonus if you fail to kill a Warcaster or Warlock, or fall short on a heavy by a point or two. The bottom line is that what Fire gets to, he will kill. With a standing threat range of 8.5″, getting him there would be an issue, if not for…
This ability comes first and foremost because it’s what makes Fire the best at what he does. You’ll rarely be able to make the bonus attack, but the 5″ move – in any direction you want – bumps Fire’s potential threat range up to 13.5″ – one of the longest in the game without outside assistance. It’s by far the longest in the Protectorate, beating out the 10″ of the Reckoner and Avatar. Start bumping this up, and things can become quite ridiculous fast. Feora’s Escort and Amon’s Mobility can increase it to 15.5″ with no effort. Intercessor Kreoss bumps it to 16.5″ if you can set off Warpath. Reznik, perhaps Fire’s best friend in the world, can hurtle Fire of Salvation a ludicrous 18.5″ thanks to Perdition. As we established before, what Fire gets to, he kills. With Righteous Vengeance, he gets what he wants.
Of course, it’s a bit disingenuous to say that he can do all this without outside help, as he does need a bit of help from an extremely fickle source – the heathen across the table. However, with an “anger” range of 5″, it’s fairly easy to keep the majority of a unit inside his bubble. Given the choice between eating an entire unit worth of attacks and potentially pissing off Fire, most opponents will (wisely) choose to attack the Infantry. You can also force your opponent to pick off Warrior models by putting them in key positions – between their Heavy and yours, inside a scenario zone, or simply in a threatening position. Generally, your opponent will oblige you and set off Vengeance. If not, make them pay with whatever they failed to kill.
Bottom line, there are ways to consistently inflict Vengeance, and Vengeance makes Fire of Salvation a stone cold killer.
Imprint: Holy Fervor
Just in case your opponents thought they’d be safe from the Lawbringer’s wrath by hiding behind high defense, Fire comes equipped with a way to show them the error of their ways. The first effect of Holy Fervor is boosting all his attack rolls – with a charge, this is the equivalent of spending 3 focus – 1 on the charge attack, one on a fist attack, and one on a bought mace attack. With Battle and Holy Fervor, Fire of Salvation will hit even Iron Flesh Kayazy on average dice – not to mention just about any warcaster or warlock in the game. The second half of the ability is basically Berserk – though with no Reach to speak of, his potential for extra attacks is fairly limited.
Generally, you’ll want to activate this when you’re going for an assassination – no Warcaster or Warlock is fond of boosted MAT9, P+S20 attacks. Get Fire within 0.5″ of any Warcaster, or any Warlock with one or fewer transfers, and he will make them regret ever failing to worship the Lawbringer. Hell, the second and third attacks are often superfluous after the charge attack reduces their heathen bodies to ash.
Affinity: Kreoss (Dispel)
There’s not much to say about this – it’s a nice bonus if you’re fielding Fire with Kreoss. Knocking Arcane Shield off of a Stormwall or Invioable Resolve off of Hyperion can really swing things in your favor, but this ability can be safely ignored when fielding Fire with Reznik, eFeora, or Amon. At P+S22 or higher, Fire rarely cares about any defensive buffs.
Addendum: On the Use and Abuse of Rightous Vengeance
I realized I said quite a bit about the potential of Righteous Vengeance, but not a lot about how to put it into practice. Getting the heathen to kill a model within 5″ of Fire is generally not difficult, but you must be sure that you do not accidentally limit your own range by careless positioning. The True Law reminds you that when running Fire of Salvation, you must always keep in mind:
1. The Choir – This is important because in his lust for burning vengeance, Fire will potentially Righteous Vengeance himself outside of your Battle range. Make sure you always keep a Choir member, or preferably two, within 4″ of Fire of Salvation (Choir buff “range” is 9″) to make sure you can buff him up to exact his wrath. MAT 7, P+S18 is still scary, but MAT9 P+S20 is what strikes the fear of Menoth into the unbelievers.
2. Lane of Advance – As you’ll probably be wanting to surround Fire with juicy Infantry, you need to be careful you don’t accidentally box him in. The ideal formation is to simply space out your infantry so that Fire always has a path to advance, at least if indirectly, like so:
As you can see, your opponent can’t safely kill any of the models in this formation without pissing off Fire, and he’s got a clear lane to advance both forward and sideways if need be.
3. Enliven – Having Fire come and tear the face off one of your Heavies sucks. Having to deal with him being Enlivened afterward can be a back-breaker. You should nearly always Enliven Fire of Salvation before sending him after a target – it will force the heathen to waste time and effort blocking him in to prevent him from continuing his rampage.
4. Target Selection – Generally, you will be able to deliver Fire to what you want – and it’s highly likely he will be scrapped afterward. So, what should you send him after? The answer is usually pretty simple – whatever’s scary. Colossals are obvious targets – while Fire probably won’t one-round a Colossal by himself, he will almost certainly take half or more of it with him. Other obvious targets are big names like Mulg, Bronzebacks, Deathjack, Discordia, the Avatar of Menoth (an impostor, naturally), or simply things like Polarity Fielded Centurions. Basically ask yourself, “what will be my biggest issue this game?” and send Fire after it – even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally send a Warjack to do, like killing Eiryss, Gorman, Tartarus, a Mage Hunter Assassin, or some other obnoxious solo. Even if it’s a bad trade, points-wise, the swing in the game state can often be worth the risk – and Fire is VERY consistent at eliminating those threats.
That was a whole lot of text for one simple ability, but given that it’s the core of what makes Fire of Salvation good, I hope the Lawgiver will forgive me for my wordiness.
Delivering the Lawgiver’s Wrath
In a meta increasingly featuring heavy armor in the form of Colossals and anti-colossal heavies, Fire could be your new best friend. Fire can and will bring the pain from way downtown, and he will do it with style. Prepare to unleash the Fire of Salvation on the enemies of Menoth!