The third expansion for the High Command Faith and Fortune brings some new and interesting options to a canny general’s arsenal.
Ultimate Combat serves as your standard expansion for High Command with a new warcaster and four new, unique detachment-based cards. Every faction receives both a colossal card and a new card with the Mechanical Mastery ability, which is specifically designed to help make the rather prohibitive costs of both colossals and battle engines a bit easier to palate.
Retribution of Scyrah’s new warcaster in Ultimate Weapons is Rahn, Paragon of House Shyeel. This card follows the epic pattern of warcasters at 5 CMD to-rush, has decent hitting strength at 4 Power, and has a very interesting special ability with Force Mastery, allowing you to move any number of cards from their location to other locations. It is important to note that Force Mastery is not limited to any specific location, and consequently it can be used to draw cards off of locations that might otherwise be difficult to crack like Gates of Sul or give you a means to deny captures by thinning out a highly fortified location. Overall, the Paragon of House Shyeel is a pretty powerful option that will require proper timing and application.
The House Nyarr Invictors are a welcome sight in the blue and red detachments with their fantastic rush margin, great resource value of 2 CMD or 2 WAR, the scoring potential they bring with their single victory point, and damage ramping ability via Concentrated Fire, making the Invictors a great card to try to combo with cheap rushing cards like Mage Hunters. I suspect that this card will be quite popular moving forward, especially with the advent of the Kingmaker Showdown format, which will only serve to make those non-scoring combo cards more prevalent.
The Mage Hunter Infiltration Force is an aggressive card with a strong rush margin and a damage ramping ability making it stronger for each other Mage Hunter card present at its location. As this is not a scoring card, its value will largely be determined by the mileage that you can get out of Gang, making the Infiltration Force decidedly more niche than the House Nyarr Invictors, often best included in decks with high concentrations of Mage Hunters like Eiryss, the Angel of Retribution or the Mage Hunter Strike Force.
The Retribution’s colossal card in Ultimate Weapons is naturally the Hyperion. I have mixed feelings about the Hyperion given its cost and the fact that it only scores a single victory point, but it has a very respectable stat block, solid resource values, and a fair ability with Critical Consume. Try your best to pair the Hyperion with cheap-to-rush warcasters, particularly Elara, Tyro of the Third Chamber who rushes at no cost.
Arcanist Savant Emyliss Shyeel is the Retribution’s final card in Ultimate Weapons, and is the faction’s bearer of the Mechanical Mastery ability, which allows colossal and battle engines to be purchased, deployed, or rushed for CMD, WAR, or a combination of the two, effectively granting said cards the Legion of Everblight’s ubiquitous Blight Gifted rule. It should be noted that the application of Mechanical Mastery is not limited by location, as colossal and battle engines can benefit from it regardless of whether or not they are being deployed or rushed to her location. Emyliss has a rush cost that gives me serious pause considering the value of her ability, middling stats, and lack of victory points. Getting mileage out of Emyliss will be tough, since rushing both her and a battle engine or colossal will be quite difficult, consequently leaving you with the most likely option being to rush her on one turn and then your battle engine or colossal on the following turn. This will naturally telegraph your play, but regardless seems like the most viable application of the card. My initial impressions of this card, and all other cards with the Mechanical Mastery ability has been less-than-stellar, but more play time might sway my opinion if I can get these cards to hum.
Directrix makes her return to the field in a new form, The Resonant of Cyriss, and she is certainly a reason for Convergence players to get excited. While she does boast the normal high rush cost for all epic-styled warcaster cards, her damage output and special ability are top notch. Given the generally high resource value of Convergence warjack cards, getting a positive net-outcome out of this new iteration of Directrix will be a forgone conclusion unless you are trying to play a slim deck with aggressive cycling. I fully expect for her to be a first-choice card for either of her detachments.
The Reductors Complement is a serious shot in the arm to recursive strategies around the Enigma Foundry given their excellent cost, fair resource value, and respectable damage ramping ability, particularly in the orange and purple detachments. The green detachment, however, might be a hard sell given the collection of most-excellent scoring cards available there, like Clockwork Angels, Modulators, and the Transverse Enumerator Core.
The Steelsoul Protector is a card that seems strangely difficult to reap dividends from given its low resource values, difficult rush margin, and lack of victory points. However, its purchase cost is low enough that you can take advantage of it with Enigma Foundries. Doing this, however, will prove challenging considering the lack of like detachment options, since neither of them share any. All these concerns aside, if you can take advantage of the Steelsoul’s bargain purchase/deploy cost, it can net you a fairly durable piece for holding locations.
The Prime Axiom is among the strongest cards in this expansion. It has really strong stats, scores two victory points, and has a fantastic special ability if you have built your detachments accordingly. While Launch Servitor may not seem like much to write home about, it can, under the right circumstances, provide any number of buffs that you might need to best deal with a given situation. If you need more health, launch an Accretion Servitor Array. Need to clear out a zone? Drop an Attunement or Elimination Servitor Array. While its purchase cost is rather high, its rush margin is not that bad, particularly given how strong the Convergence’s ability is to pull cards from your discard pile for big resource gains.
There is not much to say about the Optifex Directive that has not already been said about Emyliss. Its detachment spread is fair, but it leaves me wishing that there was more detachment interplay between the Transfinite Emergence Projector, which is only in the orange and blue detachments, and the Prime Axiom. I do appreciate the solid resource values and great rush margin, however, making it a bit easier to rush both it and either a colossal or battle engine in the same turn, particularly given the right build design.
Closing Thoughts –
Overall, I’m generally liking this expansion for Retribution and Convergence, as both factions receive some great new options where they really need it, but I am still having trouble getting what I feel is a net-profit out of the Mechanical Mastery cards, particularly given the ease of application that we have out of the 3 CMD/3 WAR resource cards in the Warmachine and Hordes sets. Perhaps more playtesting and further releases will change this, but as of the moment, I am still on the fence about them.
Stay tuned for a review of the new cards for Highborn Covenant and Four Star Syndicate.