With an awesome new sculpt for Imorren’s most notorious Thamarite, it’s a great time to re-examine this Mercenary Warcaster.
Fiona the Black is kind of a tricky one. Damiano can buff MAT and Strength to ensure his opponents are crushed while Ossrum can Snipe an Earthbreaker to rain death on the enemy turn after turn. Fiona’s tricks are a little more insidious.
Her nastiest single ability might be Nonokrian Brand, which allows a model or unit to ignore Intervening models when making ranged attacks. As an upkeep spell, you can cycle it between two units/ models each turn to make sure no one’s safe. This can make Fiona a very potent caster killer – especially in scenarios with Kill Box where trying to stay out of range will give away victory points. Unfortunately intervening models are the only thing this ability will let you ignore, so if there’s a decent terrain piece for your opponent’s caster to hide behind you can kiss any dreams of assassination goodbye. But even if this ends up being the case, Nonokrian Brand can still be useful against UAs and support pieces. And a caster hiding behind terrain shouldn’t be dominating any zones. The spell also makes its targets weapons magical so it offers help against incorporeal models, the Choir’s Hymn of Passage, and plenty of other things too.
Affliction is also very useful – especially with all the Black Dragon IFP you an expect to find running around these days. This offensive upkeep spell will allow any direct hit against the spell’s target to cause a point of damage even if the roll didn’t break armor. While this spell will be the most useful against high ARM single wounders, you can put it on a heavy or even a colossal in a pinch. At a single point of damage a piece, 10 Sea Dog pistol shots might be enough to finish off an Arcane Shielded Stormwall that just refused to die any other way.
Since Mercs have no Arc Nodes (well most mercs) Fiona might have some problems putting Affliction where you want it. Fortunately she has Telgesh Mark, an upkeep spell that will turn any friendly model into an Arc Node. This will also make it that much easier to cast Soulfire and Influence. I’m assuming you’ll be familiar enough with those last two, that I won’t need to devote a whole paragraph to them. Instead I’ll just point out that Soulfire is an “RFP” spell. Don’t ever forget this since it can be so important in certain situations. On the other hand, I don’t usually bother with Influence, since it requires two successful attack rolls to do you any good. Occasionally you may think you’ve found an ideal situation to cast it; maybe an opponent’s heavy or caster is standing in melee range of one of their Weapon Masters. But in my experience you’ll quickly realize you’ve cast it four or five times with little or no effect and wish you’d spent the focus elsewhere.
That just leaves us with one last spell: Roth’s Mercy. This is also a very important one. Do you hate how those dirty Exemplar Errants can pull casualties from anywhere within 3″ rather than having to pull the model you just killed? Well Roth’s Mercy is like that but with no range. You can pull a casualty from anywhere in the unit. Great for keeping UAs alive but perhaps even more importantly, it can drastically reduce a unit’s losses in melee as you shunt the damage to models engaged with enemies that haven’t made their attacks yet.
Fiona also has an incredibly powerful feat. When you use Dark Omens, all enemy models in Fiona’s control area roll one less die on Attack and Damage rolls. This amounts to near invulnerability against many armies, although you’ll obviously need to be wary of things that don’t require rolls to hit or damage. Bile Thralls are the first things that spring to mind, although there are many others.
It’s tricky to know the right army to run with Fiona, but after a lot of thought I ended up with this.
Mercenaries – Highborn Covenant – Fiona
56 / 56 (50+6) Warcaster(s) : 1/1 Warjack(s) : 1 Battle Engines : 0 Solos : 4 Units : 4
Fiona the Black – WJ: +6
– Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker
– Galleon – PC: 18
Lord Rockbottom – PC: 2
Anastasia di Bray – PC: 2
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile – PC: 2
Gobber Tinker – PC: 1
Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers – Leader & 5 Grunts: 6
– Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer – Officer 2
Press Gangers – Lass & 9 Grunts: 6
Sea Dog Boarding Crew – Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
– Mr. Walls, the Quartermaster – Mr. Walls 2
Horgenhold Forge Guard – Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
The two Sea Dog units will use their Advance Deployment to start dicing it up early. I like them with Fiona because with Gang they are pretty self sufficient and can perform well without buff spells. Rockbottom will get to AD as well so he’ll have no problem staying in range to give the Boarding Crew Tough, which along with Roth’s Mercy will make them an especially nasty tarpit. Anastasia will AD rather than Ambush since she is going to be the Telgesh Mark Target. With Fiona’s Feat she may actually even get Espionage off every now and then. Ideally I’ll cycle Nonokrian Brand between the Galleon and the Gun Mages. The Gun Mages can be great with Affliction. They can usually be relied on to hit successfully. With Affliction they’ll be able to damage reliably as well. Since the Galleon can’t do all the work on by itself, I’ve also added min Horgenhold for some heavy lifting. They’ll be a second wave which is good because I find they always get themselves killed otherwise. The overall strategy here is to have the galleon keep the pressure on the enemy caster while the two AD tarpits keep my opponent from scoring. With a Galleon to hide behind, Fiona will hopefully grab some points from dominating flags/zones while my opponent risks being assassinated if they try to do the same. Obviously this list won’t work against everything, but that’s why you get to have a second list.
~With such an unusual play style, it can be tough trying to pin down the right list for Fiona. How do you guys feel about this one? Does it look anything like what you’d run?