One of the less popular Skorne units recently got re-released in plastic, making this a good opportunity to take a look at making a less popular unit work on the table.
If you’ve been following BoLS Warmachine articles you’ve probably seen my reviews on the other two Cataphract units (if you missed them, they’re Here and Here ). Now that the third and final Cataphract unit is out in plastic, I finally own a unit of each which has let me try out some interesting things that I never got around to before.
First lets talk about the models themselves. I actually liked the sculpts the first time I saw them when I built my Incindiarii. The detail wasn’t amazing, but the models have a cool look to them with all that armor plating. The flags are still as silly looking (or more) than they were in metal, but now at least they’re easy to leave off. But after building 3 full units of the same sculpt with different arms, I am sorry to say I’m tired of this sculpt. There is a lot of flash in unfortunate places, like sides of heads and on tiny edges of delicate armor patterns. The weapons bend at least as much as the metal versions, and they just don’t have the same level of detail.
|the new plastic sculpts|
That said, the models really aren’t terrible. They’re cool-looking models once you get them cleaned and built and painted. And a little less detail is most definitely worth the difference in price from the old metal models that had to be bought in multiple blisters to get a full unit. I’m just saying with all the other projects on my painting table, these guys won’t be getting much help in the near future.
OK, that said let’s take a look at what these models do on the table top. As far as stats go, they are exactly the same as their Incindiarii counter-parts (though the Arcuarii were released long before the incindiarii, so you might look at it the other way around). They’re pretty standard for medium-based infantry with average defense and armor but 8 boxes each. They have high MAT and decent RAT (which for Skorne is elite RAT). They don’t have much written on the back of their cards, with one decent ability on their weapons: drag.
|see a resemblance?|
Drag is what you think of when you think of Arcuarii. Cetrati have their shield wall and high armor, Incindiarri have fire, and Arcuarii have harpoons. if you hit something with their short range gun (and do damage) you can drag that model over to your Arcuarii and get a free attack. That attack is a weapon master hit, which is very nice. Two or more Arcuarii can even join together for a CRA to pull in something with higher defense or armor (just remember only the CRA leader will get a free melee hit). Drag is that ability that makes Galleon and the Prime Axiom some of the best Collosals out there.
OK, so if drag is so good, why don’t people play with Arcuarii? In fact have you ever seen someone using a unit of these guys? The problem is that drag is cool, but drag on medium base infantry isn’t quite as neat. Because they can only drag small and medium bases, there are limited targets that really work well. They can be a pain for trolls, dragging Champions out of their brick and out of the Kriel Stone aura, and they work well if your opponent happened to bring a bunch of light warjacks. They could also be useful against tough units, letting them hit and damage with the gun then drag the tough model in close forcing a second tough check. it’s situational but still decent.
In the handful of games I’ve gotten in with them I’ve noticed that they actually seem more effective if you don’t use them primarily for their harpoon guns. Think of them as reach weaponmasters first and lane-clearing ranged models second. They are fairly cheap for medium infantry, costing only a point and a half each. For that you get a MAT 7 POW 12 weaponmaster. The 8 boxes is also nice, sometimes letting them tie up a unit longer than you might expect them to. With a little bit of support, weaponmasters can do at least 9 points worth of work in a turn.
|he makes everything better|
There are three casters I would like to take Arcuarii with. The most obvious is Xerxis, just like both of my other Cataphract articles. He’s kind of designed to make these guys work well. The standard Xerxis brick can gain a lot with some Arcuarii in your second line. In one of my test games I managed to pull of the ideal combo with Xerxis feat turn. First Xerxis moves up and feats, putting press forward on the Cetrati (they do have Defenders ward upkept on them right?). The Cetrati shield wall and advance getting up to crazy levels of armor and still hitting with 4 dice of damage. Then Marketh puts Fury on the Incindiarii who charge through the shield wall each getting one pow 15 attack with 5 dice of damage. 4 Acruarii charged a Hyperion and left it on 4 boxes. With that combo, those 9 points can put out insane levels of damage, but it has to be part of your plan for that feat turn. The rest of the game they are still weaponmasters that can help clear up jamming infantry or drag to clear lanes. Now that the models are cheap enough, I like the idea of running all 3 Cataphract units with Xerxis. In fact his feat makes each unit cost 1 point less. Can’t complain about that.
|Yes, I still like the original sculpt better|
The second caster I wanted to try them with was pMorghoul. I ran a game with his Big Game Hunters tier list, which let the Arcuarii start on the AD line and further increased the deployment zone by 2″. In the game I played with them they really just acted as a screen for the Morghoul beast brick, running to tie up more models with those medium based and reach. They did very little damage in the game I played with that list, but they essentially shut down 2 ranged units for a few turns which was all I needed from them.
|useful with him until Despoiler starts competing for that point slot|
Finally, Mordikaar is one of the common casters to use Arcuarii. They make a great revive target and help make up for a general lack of hitting power in a Mordikaar list. Revive can drop some of them in good position to use a CRA and get the aiming bonus, sometimes catching a caster from an unexpected angle. I’ve mostly been playing Incindiarii in my Mordikaar list, but the Arcuarii make a good swap and might be worth using. They would be a great choice for a specialists tournament in any list that features Incindiarii if you go up against an opponent that doesn’t have much infantry to burn.
There aren’t too many other lists I would want to run Arcuarii with. Generally I like the Incindiarri better for the 9 point slot. Maybe with some more play in the lists I mentioned I’ll grow to like them more, but for now they don’t seem quite strong enough to become a core unit in most armies.
So what exactly are they missing? The ability to drag large bases would instantly make them not only usable but really really good. Maybe someday we’ll get some sort of UA that allows CRAs to drag larger models. I wouldn’t hold your breath but if one small change could make them into a strong unit, that would be it.
So what do you think? Are the Arcuarii worth picking up? Do you run them in your Skorne armies? what other casters ahve good synergy with Arcuarii that would make use of this less common unit?