The Highborn Covenant is financed by Llaelese nobles who were exiled from their homeland when the Khadoran army invaded. The ruling Elite of Llael now reside with their allies, the Cygnarans, so it is no surprise that the choice of mercenaries in a Highborn Covenant force is restricted to those who will work for Cygnar. Like many mercenary forces, they typically have an emphasis on speed and offense over defense and staying power. They do however, have access to certain resilient troops that other contracts may not. Their forces can include the hard hitting heavily armored dwarven Forge Guard, as well as allied Precursor Knights who can use the shield wall rules. Ashlynn D’Elyse, the defacto leader of the Llaelese resistance is the only mercenary warcaster who will work exclusively for the highborn covenant. She possesses one of the few infantry speed buffs left in MkII Warmachine, which, when combined with access to fast troops like the Nyss Hunters lets her play a strong first strike game. The spell Gallows also gives her strong assassination capability, as she can drag unsuspecting warcasters towards her, cutting them down with her skill as a peerless fencer. In addition to Ashlynn, a Highborn Covenant army can field any Mercenary Warcaster with the exception of Magnus the Traitor and of course Phinneas Shae.
So its easy to see why Mercenary armies are the most difficult to pin down, and why its pretty much impossible to generalize a Mercenary playstyle. What can be said for sure is that mercenaries have some of the most colorful troops, warjacks, and characters in the game. A mercenary force can represent most of the major races of Imorren, including Humans, Elves, Ogrun, Trollkin, and Gobbers. Mercenary warjacks also tend to be some of the most traditionally steam-punk looking with lots of great wierd clunky looking pipes, rivets, and plates. The army is also full of character solos each with their own unique rules and back story. There’s a certain joy to be gained from seeing a group of rag tags combine all their special skills to make something truly fantastic happen. Its like something out of the A-Team or The Magnificent 7. And there’s a similar thrill in watching those same sell-swords trample the pristine banners of the most powerful nations in their world underneath their filthy boots.
~ And that’s mercenaries at… well lets call it a glance and a half. If you’d rather swear your loyalty to coin than any pompous king, Mercenaries are the army for you. Since there’s still lots more to learn, check out the usual places: www.privateerpress.com and battlecollege.wikispaces.com.