Ranking the top three Mercenary Warcasters in Warmachine and Hordes.
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, continuing my series of articles on Warmachine and Hordes that examines the “Best of the Best” attributes across all models and factions. We’ll examine the top Feats, Spells, Abilities, Weapons, Stat Lines, Damage Grids, and anything else that appears on model entries in the game. All to give you a sense for which models are among the best on those categories.
This Week we sift through the huge variety of options to detail the best of the best Mercenary Warcasters. Mercenaries are a complicated and disparate group due to the different units. From pirates to Rhulic models to Cephalyx units, different Warcasters in Mercs get widely different army options. This affects their abilities a fair amount, so it makes them a bit harder to separate a good Warcaster from a good army. Spamming Nomads can be pretty viable with many of the Warcasters just thanks to their innate power-for-points. That said, this is a look at my ranking of the top three Warcasters in the faction.
So let’s get right to it! The following are my list of the top three Mercenary Warcasters in Warmachine and Hordes. At the end is a bonus “Dishonorable Mention” for the one Warcaster that isn’t worth the coin to hire them.
Number Three: General Ossrum
Ossrum getting the number three slot means that there are two other very good Mercenary Warcasters that get left off the list. One, the obvious exclusion, is Exulon Thexus–who can be really solid even if there are some hard-counter forces for him out there. The other is Phinneus Shae, as I think there are some overlooked Privateers lists out there that can run crazy fast infantry (Steamroller 2017 may be a great spot for them).
But Ossrum edges both of those Warcasters out in my opinion. Not only is he a solid Warcaster, but he can run a variety of builds. It starts with his Feat. +3 Speed and +3 ARM are great, and with Pathfinder on top of it he can get his force to exactly where he wants them. Stack Unstoppable Force on top of that, and you’ll see why he’s nasty. Solid, effective light Rhulic Jacks come cheap, and can cascade the 2″ pushes. It makes them unable to be jammed except by 2″ reach infantry, and can produce some very surprising scenario play.
Then there’s the assassination potential. With Snipe and Fire for Effect, plus speed on Feat, the Rhulic shooting gets extremely nasty. Avalanchers providing a ranged knockdown at up to 16″, backed up by bunny guns and artillery can end a whole lot of enemy casters. Then there’s the Periscope rule on the Siege Crawler. (We affectionately call it “Dad Bod the tank in our meta”). Even Stealth cannot save a model from this long-range threat. A Warcaster able to keep assassination always on the table while dominating scenario play? That’s a great Warcaster.
Number Two: Captain Damiano
There should be a note with Damiano that the Kingmaker theme is what really makes him shine. Whether that makes him a top Merc caster or the theme just a top theme is certainly open to consider. But if we agree that good models become great with the right Warcaster supporting them, Damiano seems to really fit the bill of “right” for Mercenaries.
He runs infantry particularly well, and Kingmaker gives him access to great Cygnar infantry. Why does he run them well? Cycling buffs. Deadeye lets them shoot extremely well. Death March can let them melee well, and provides Vengeance. But toughest of all, Sure Foot gives +2 DEF and immunity to knockdown. That makes Tenchers DEF 17 in their clouds or 19 if dug in, and no-knockdown turns up the power of Tough considerably.
But he’s not only Trenchers–that just forms the front line. With his Feat, almost any infantry can hit pretty hard in melee (and the ARM boost and limit on enemies moving his models doesn’t hurt). With Money Shot on Steelhead Riflemen or Reposition 5″ for the infantry, they get quite nasty as well. And Road to War means that the couple of cheap-but-deadly Mercenary Warjacks that accompany him get to the right place at the right time. Damiano puts together a great all-comers list with high volume of attacks, strong infantry presence, and ability to hit hard. That’s a great combination.
Number One: Magnus the Warlord
I could have easily swapped Magnus2 and Damiano, and in many ways I think Damiano may have a strong advantage. Yet I tend to find that control Warcasters have a bit more of an edge than just general buff Warcasters overall. Steamroller 2017 may well change that (Damiano’s stock may rise even more). But Magnus’ ability to strike, prevent retaliation, then strike again can be backbreaking to an enemy force.
Most of this ability comes from his Feat, though Escort helps a great deal in getting high speed Warjacks into the right place. Magnus2’s Feat seems simple: choose two board edges. Enemy models in his control range cannot advance toward those edges for one round. First, the downside: he’s got to get pretty close to the foe to do this. Now the upside: pick the front and back table edges, and see what happens. The front line of the opponent’s force can only move sideways. Some pieces that area further back from his control might be able to move up. Most get stuck behind their front line. It can completely block a foe from scenario presence.
Most importantly, it lets the cheap Mercenary Warjacks that hit quite hard with 2″ reach have a field day. They charge up and stay at max range and beat up your stuff. If you’re unlucky, and don’t have 2″ reach in your front line as well, there’s (almost) nothing you can do during the Feat round. Telekinesis, Apparition, or some other ability to move without advancing can help. But many forces find themselves locked down and taking two rounds cheap of POW 18 Nomads smacking away at your force. Once he has the attrition advantage, Magnus2 starts backing up while leveraging his advantage. Sprinkle in some Renegades to keep opponents honest at range, and you’ve got a nasty force that asks one very hard question to many opponents.
So I already named Constance Blaize the dishonorable mention for Cygnar, so I’m not going to spend too much time on her here. But she manages to be somehow worse in Mercenaries. The Mercenary options for units still don’t fix her fundamental problem of needing “just so” infantry. They’ve got to die, but not quite die in droves. With people expecting a bit more infantry presence in Steamroller 2017, that means that most players will have one list that’s actually good at clearing infantry. Which puts Constance in an even worse spot than before unless you play her way up to be an assassin after Feat–but that’s pretty telegraphed and likely would lead to her simply being killed. Just underwhelming, in a faction with some great options.
~ Does this ranking fit your thoughts? Did we miss a critical attribute? Was a great model overlooked, or a powerful interaction missed? Is Number One really that good? Do you think the “Dishonorable Mention” is not so dishonorable after all? Let us know in the comments below!
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