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Warmachine: Thoughts onThyra Flame of Sorrow

12 Minute Read
Feb 27 2012
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With the January release of Nicia, Tear of Vengeance I’ve finally got the last piece I needed to finish my Thyra army. And now that I’ve actually taken her out for a spin a few times, I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts.

Thyra is a member of what is perhaps the most interesting offshoot of the Protectorate’s Flameguard military branch: the Daughters of the Flame. This elite corps of nimble assassins is handpicked from the most agile and capable female Flameguard recruits. Many of these women are widows that have enlisted to seek vengeance on the foreign soldiers that killed their husbands. Their hatred of the Protectorate’s enemies is a weapon as deadly as the swords they wield. Thyra herself is perhaps the most extreme case. It was the sight of her husband and children killed before her eyes that caused her warcaster abilities to manifest in the first place. Now no amount of heathen blood can repay her for what she has lost.

These concepts of vengeance are what define her playstyle. Thyra is one of those warcasters who likes to end games up close and personal. She can easily put herself right in your opponent’s face to score you an assassination victory. But there’s more to her than just her speed and skill at arms. She also has spells and abilities that can help support a strong infantry force and give your battlegroup a little more mobility.

Thyra has a fairly strong stat-line. At SPD 7 she’s quite fast for a warcaster. This gives her an unassisted threat range of ten and a half inches. Her MAT score of 8 is also very impressive – that’s almost as high as it gets. And in a faction with a 2 point solo that grants immunity to knockdown, her DEF score of 17 might be the most notable thing about her. Thyra’s focus score of 6 is fairly average, but the nature of her playstyle and spells means you’ll often find yourself starved for more. Her two magical swords, Grief and Lament, grant her the Weapon Master advantage. But at only P+S 11, Thyra’s damage output is not quite high enough to guarantee she can kill any and every Warcaster. It will be up to you to set up the table to ensure that she strikes only when the odds are in her favor. Where Thyra is lacking is in the armor department. At only ARM 14 you’re going to have to camp focus often or be exceedingly careful with her.


Her three special abilities help her in her role as an assassin and also give a boost to her fellow Daughters of the Flame. Daughters taken in a Thyra army gain Vengeance. This can boost their already solid threat range up to 13 and a half inches and/or get you a free attack with them. Of course you’ll have to lose some of them in the process. For herself, Thyra gets Acrobatic and Overtake. If there’s a single ability that defines Thyra for me it’s Acrobatic. It lets her charge over any intervening models on her way to her target. None of those models will get to make free strikes and Thyra will also get to see through them for the purposes of declaring her charge. So as long as you have the range, she can charge whatever you want her to no matter how many models stand in the way. Overtake has the potential to help make her a more efficient infantry killer by letting her move an inch every time she kills a warrior model. You’ll have to be pretty lucky to get that much mileage out of this one. Even if you manage to get an opponent that will bunch up their infantry just the way you want you’ll have to make absolutely sure sending her in there is worth the risk. The ideal Overtake situation is one in which a couple of enemy warrior models are set up just right for you to make a couple of chain moves that will get Thyra into contact with an opposing caster. I’ve yet to find myself in this perfect situation but I watch for it every game. Now let’s move on to Thyra’s spells.

If you want to guarantee your melee attacks will hit, Thyra has Carnage to give every friendly faction models in her control area +2 to those rolls. But with a casting cost of three focus, make sure this non-upkeep spell doesn’t drain you of your resources. If you’re having trouble getting torn up by ranged attacks, Occultation is a 2 focus upkeep spell that will give a friendly faction model or unit Stealth. Silence of Death helps Thyra in her role as an assassin by giving a friendly model/unit’s melee attacks the Grievous Wounds ability. This will negate Tough and prevent healing, but perhaps most importantly it will prevent damage transfers. This makes Thyra especially dangerous against Warlocks. I often cast this spell on Thyra herself turn one so I can have it ready for when it’s time for Thyra to do her thing. Next up is Stranglehold. If you can hit, and damage an enemy model with this 2 focus spell, that model must forfeit either its movement or action during its next activation. This can give you some great board control, but with Thyra’s low focus score of 6 and the spell’s low POW of 11, it’s pretty risky to try to cast against anything with high DEF or ARM.

I’ve saved Pursuit, her cool tricky spell, for last. It’s another offensive spell. If you hit an enemy model with it, and that enemy model advances during its activation, any model in Thyra’s battlegroup can immediately make a full advance. Obviously in a faction with speed limitations like the Protectorate’s, a free advance can be huge. It’s also a way for Thyra to potentially get herself out of trouble given how far upfield she wants to play. But you absolutely cannot just see this spell as a free move. There’s so much give and take here. If your opponent chooses to move the target of Pursuit first, your free advance might just put one of your models in charge range. I’ll be honest – I’ve yet to cast this spell in any of my Thyra games. With its range of 8 and cost of 2 (which will probably become 3 when you boost to hit), it seems like a lot of risk for unsure reward. But without Pursuit, Thyra can be a little predictable. If I want to be able to keep winning with her I’m going to have to start using this spell. Without the free move she can get from it she’s a bit predictable. And there’s another point I’m probably missing here. A lot of the Protectorate’s abilities function more by throwing your opponent off balance than by giving you a cut and dry reward. Having your opponent puzzling over what your reactive Pursuit move might be will definitely leave them scratching their head. Maybe enough for them make a mistake you can capitalize on. Combine this with the fact that the Enliven ability from the Vassal of Menoth can give a warjack yet another out of activation move, and you’ve got an army that’s going to have people pulling their hair out.

Finally there’s her feat. Shadows of Urcaen allows you to place Thyra anywhere within 2″ of her current location, then do the same for the rest of the models in her control area as they activate. This feat is probably best reserved for when Thyra is ready to move in for the kill. Even just an extra 2″ between her and her target can make the difference between victory or defeat. Since this feat specifies “place” rather than move, you can also use it to get key parts of your army out of melee. If your models are positioned just right, you might even be able to get them behind the enemies they are engaging. Just remember that 2″ is not enough to move one small base directly over another.

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So what goes well in a Thyra army? Here’s the one I’ve been trying out so far:

Thyra, Flame of Sorrow  +6 points
* Blood of Martyrs 9 points
* Dervish 4 points
* Repenter 4 points
4 Choir of Menoth 2 points
Daughters of the Flame 5 points
Daughters of the Flame 5 points
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan 2 points
Nicia, Tear of Vengeance 3 points
Saxon Orrik 2 points
The Covenant of Menoth 2 points
Vassal of Menoth 2 points
3 Wracks 1 point

I feel like this is a pretty standard Thyra list. It has plenty of Daughters to help take advantage of the cool Elite Cadre rule they get. And of course Nicia is there to be a general pest or mop up any stubborn Warcaster or Warlock Thyra couldn’t finish off herself. Blood of Martyrs is the perfect choice to fill the much needed role of heavy hitter. And the Repenter and Dervish are there just because I think they are completely amazing for their low cost of 4 points each.

With just the things I’ve mentioned so far I could actually use Thyra’s tier list. And her Tier is actually fairly good. For one thing it makes units of Daughters FA U. And a list maxed out with them is a pretty nasty prospect. If you save some points for warjacks, you can give one of them an Advanced Move for each unit of Daughters you take. And since Daughters already have Advance Deployment that means most of your army will begin the game a lot further upfield, giving you a great scenario game. Thyra’s tier even lets you take the Choir.

But for me Thyra’s tier list has a few big big restrictions I just can’t deal with. For one it won’t let you take The Covenant. When I play Thyra I want her way upfield since I’m going to be trying to win by assassination. That means I can’t let her get knocked down or it’s very easily game over. The Covenant can also give her attacks the Fire continuous effect for when I finally spring the trap. Her tier list also won’t allow Wracks or a Hierophant. And with Thyra being the focus hog she is any way to get her more of it is going to be essential.

And since I’m not planning on running a tier with her I can take another very useful ally: Madelyn Corbeau. The Ordic Courtesan is a very important addition to any list where your warcaster is going to be the primary threat vector. This is because of the extra 3″ of movement she can get them with her Intrigue special ability. And now that I have one mercenary, I might as well take another. Saxon Orrick is getting thrown in to make sure Thyra can cover any rough terrain that might be in between her and her target.


If you want to bring this list up to a 50 pointer, one easy way to start would be to add a Vessel of Judgement. It works quite well in a Thyra list for several reasons. Her feat is one of the few ways to get the piece moving faster. The Vessel can’t charge, so being able to move more than 5″ and use one of its miracles is very helpful. It also gives a bit of ranged support. It can be a huge line of sight blocker if you’re worried about Thyra getting shot. And if Thyra’s initial assassination run fails, the Doors of Judgement miracle can let her make one last advance and attack if she gets killed. This could let you finish off an enemy caster the very second before Thyra herself dies. Although could is the operative word here since the odds of this winning a game for you in actual play are pretty slim. If you do decide to take a Vessel, you’ll still have 6 more points left. A Vigilant would be a good next choice, since it can protect a unit of Daughters, a squishy solo, or even Thyra herself from blast damage. That would leave you with 2 to invest in another helpful solo. I like Anastasia DiBray. If you can make it work right, her Espionage ability will give Thyra and hopefully a lot of other models an extra move and attack. That will give you even more insurance towards an assassination victory. Alternatively, a Hierophant might be a better choice. He can help with focus management and give Thyra’s spells more range. That could help a lot in making sure you get Pursuit off.

Let’s look at another list that’s a little more versatile and also lets you try some other tricks.

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Thyra, Flame of Sorrow  +6 points
* Fire of Salvation 9 points
* Repenter 4 points
* Scourge of Heresy 9 points
* Hierophant 2 points
Daughters of the Flame 5 points
Exemplar Errant Seneschal 2 points
10 Exemplar Errants 8 points
* Exemplar Errant Officer & Standard 2 points
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan 2 points
Nicia, Tear of Vengeance 3 points
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord 2 points
Saxon Orrik 2 points
The Covenant of Menoth 2 points
Vassal Mechanik 1 point
Vassal of Menoth 2 points
3 Wracks 1 point

This list has a big unit of Errants since they’re more of a well-rounded choice than Daughters. And with Carvolo, they’ll make a great tarpit to position Thyra behind. Fire of Salvation is included since it’s possible to combine its Righteous Vengeance ability with Pursuit to get two out of activation moves at Fire’s respectable (for the Protectorate) SPD 5. Scourge of Heresy is thrown in for its Arcane Vortex ability. Offensive spells are one of the biggest threats to Thyra. A caster with a high focus stat can hit even her high def of 17, and Arc Nodes can help ensure she’s targetable even when she has Occultation cast on her self. Between her Feat and Pursuit, Thyra also offers Scourge some help with his biggest weakness: low SPD.

 
I've got one last list to throw in.  This one is very unusual, but I think it has a lot of potential.

Thyra, Flame of Sorrow +6 points

* Scourge of Heresy 9 points

* Vanquisher 8 points
* Hierophant 2 points
4 Choir of Menoth 2 points
Doc Killingsworth 2 points
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios 3 points
Lord Rockbottom 2 points

Anastasia DiBray
2 points
First Mate Hawk 2 Points
10 Press Gangers 6 points*
Attendant Priest 2 points
Reclaimer 2 points
6 Sea Dogs 5 points
* Attendant Priest 2 points
* 2 Sea Dog Riflemen 2 points
The Covenant of Menoth 2 points
Vassal of Menoth 2 points
3 Wracks 1 point


Sea Dogs make very interesting choices for the inclusion of Ranking Officers. This is because so many of their cool synergies relate to descriptors like “Sea Dog” or “Privateer” rather than “Mercenary.” This means they get to use Thyra’s spells and feat in addition to the 4+ Tough rolls, boosted melee attacks, and other shenanigans they’re already known for. In this list they make a fantastic tarpit for Thyra to hide behind while offering some incredibly accurate melee attacks thanks to Carnage. And if I can use Thyra’s feat to slip just a few of these Privateers into position to charge an enemy caster, First Mate Hawk’s Object of Desire ability will let them dish out enough damage to ensure they’ll finish off all but the sturdiest opponents. With Scourge, the Choir, and the attendant Priests, this army has a ton of anti-magic abilities. And to ensure that there is enough focus for Scourge to use Arcane Vortex, a Reclaimer has been included to gather the souls of all these Menite pirates. Since there is so much anti-magic in this list, I’ve opted to use Eiryss, Mage Hunter rather than the more commonly seen Eiryss, Angel of Retribution. Either Eiryss can help Thyra a lot by stripping focus off of enemy warcasters. Finally I included DiBray in this list, rather than Corbeau. Since I’m more interested in the army as a whole here than I am in Thyra herself, DiBray seems like the logical choice.

So as you can see, I think it’s very important to have a list with options when playing Thyra. While she may excel at killing enemy casters, she’s pretty transparent about that goal. Most opponents won’t make it easy for you to get the drop on them. At least not after the first time. And her low Arm makes it dangerous for her to get where she needs to be. Def 17 is high, but even a rat 6 model will hit her half the time if the atttack is boosted. Many factions also have ways to counter Stealth. If you want her to win the game for you, you’ll need to have a balanced plan in mind or your opponent will just check their control area whenever they can to make sure she’s far enough away to not be a threat. You’ve also got to make sure you have an army that can fight on its own in case you encounter an opponent with a caster that has high enough defensive stats to weather Thyra’s attacks.

~As always I’d like to hear your thoughts. Has anyone else come up with a great Thyra list of their own… or had to fight against someone else’s?

Ben Williams
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