Sunday, April 18, 2010

Highborn Tactics: Units

In this first installment of my thoughts on Highborn army construction, I'm going to focus on unit selection. Obviously there's importance in which caster you pick as well, but I'm going to sidestep that issue for the moment since caster choice has a lot to do with play style preference. I'll just highlight that my experience of playing Highborn spans the following casters: Fiona, Ashlynn, Madhammer, Gorten, and Bart. I have yet to play the other mercenary contracts. Also, for the purposes of discussing unit selection, I'm going to leave out some of the small character units, like Aiyana & Holt. For simplicity sake, anything that I've never personally fielded I've marked with a *, so know that any comments following them are strictly theory-machine.

Steelhead Halberdiers - What is there to say about these guys. They are sort of a basic trooper. Cheap, effective, mobile, and they have reach. Nothing spectacular, and nothing really terrible. I can't say I'm a huge fan of them though, mostly because the models seem like a pain in the butt to assemble and paint.

Steelhead Heavy Cavalry* - Out of all the Warmachine cavalry, these rank #2 in my book, right behind Cryx. They have a fair amount of damage dishing power. However I've typically stayed away from cavalry due to their being expensive.

Steelhead Riflemen* - Maybe I just don't get it. Why would I ever field these when I could get a unit of Long Gunners? These guys gain a reroll on CRA attacks and 1 point of SPD and 1 of POW, but lose so much in comparison. I'd rather spend the 1 extra point for the Long Gunners, provided I wasn't going to use my Cygnar unit slot for Gun Mages that is.

Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps* - I haven't fielded these guys yet, but my initial thoughts are pretty lukewarm. In shield wall, they are tougher than Forgeguard. Their ranged attacks are quite comparable to Steelhead Riflemen. They're pretty cheap. It's just the SPD 4 that makes them a hard sell. Perhaps under the Searforge contract I'll be more enticed.

Horgenhold Forge Guard - I've tried to love these guys. Under the right circumstances they have been awesome. However they tend to have far too many bad match ups. They're just so blasted slow and easy to hit, and in the new MK2 ranged meta, they just have a lot of trouble making it to the fray. Even at ARM 18, they are easy bait for most things. At SPD 4, they get out-threat ranged by almost everything else. Granted, with Ashlynn's Quicken and her feat, they can really wreck some havoc. However these guys are not first wave attack troopers.

Sea Dog Crew - These guys sort of underwhelm me in MK2. If you pile in enough of the pirate solos, they gain a fair amount of synergy. However the tipping point gets pretty expensive. Plus, I find that my Highborn lists have enough toolbox to them already that adding more stuff to coordinate gets complicated. I will note however that I am a huge fan of the Riflemen attachments.

Press Gangers* - I can't really speak to this unit. They seem interesting, and for so few points, I'd love to work them in. I just haven't mustered up the desire to try them out so no real opinion one way or the other on these guys yet.

Cygnar Mercs:
Long Gunner Infantry* - If I didn't make it clear above when talking about the Steelhead Riflemen, these guys are a good choice. They have been a Cygnar staple for years, and having them in a merc list is definitely useful.

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages - I can't say enough good things about these guys. They bring an element to the army that nothing else possesses. I should note that not including the UA is rather silly, since True Sight grants even more utility that the Highborn contract has trouble mustering. I'd classify these as a staple unit for Highborn contracts.

Precursor Knights* - In reviewing these guys, I'm suddenly wondering why I would ever field Forgeguard in place of these guys. They have better threat range, equal ARM in shield wall, and with the UA can hit even harder on a key round. The one key advantage of Forgeguard is that they are always that good, regardless of UAs and special rounds. On the flip side, these guys bring spell immunity to the table, which is an interesting feature.

Character Units:
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters - I love this unit. They have been worth their cost almost every battle I've fielded them. They're fast. They're accurate. They're remarkably potent in melee. And they are hard to hit!

Captain Sam Machorne & the Devil Dogs - I want to like these guys. Probably with a few more games I'll be more positive about them. With the right support (like Ashlynn's Quicken spell) they can bring something interesting to the table. Most of all, Sam has the Pronto jack marshal drive to use with non-Rhulic jack options, which is really useful. However this is a unit that clearly needs good synergy to help them out.

Greygore Boomhowler & Co.* - Again, another unit I haven't tried yet. On paper though, these guys seem great. I definitely feel like this is a unit that might perform quite well. They bring some of that classic troll toughness to the table, and with a good weapon selection to boot.

Wrap Up:
So where does this leave me? Well, there's definitely a couple units I want to try out still. However, there are also some staple units that take precedence. Nyss Hunters and Gun Mages are pretty much my go-to units because of their high defense. With Fiona or Ashlynn's feat up, they are pretty much unhittable. However, I'd love to hear other opinions out there. Combo suggestions, other synergies, etc.

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