I am a bit late to this party, but summer has been crazy.
When Privateer Press announced the new Novice Warcasters as part of their recent Kickstarter, I was pretty excited. I always love new models, and new mechanics are always particularly exciting. I have long envied Cygnar’s Journeyman Warcaster, so the notion of getting similar effects in the factions I play (Protectorate, Cryx, and Mercenaries) had me salivating right off the bat. In addition, these models made perfect sense, as yet another step in PiP’s recent trend away from infantry swarms and towards advancing the investment in warjacks/warbeasts. Heavy armor is what got me into this game, so I am always ready for anything that helps make that paradigm more viable. So, do I think the Novice Warcasters will succeed in this department? Let’s take a look:
Most of the stats for the novices are pretty decent. Given the ability to boost, their MAT and RAT sure doesn’t surprise me. I do think one of the major problems with the novices is going to be their survivability. I would hope that warcasters-in-training wouldn’t pop like a balloon to a lucky deviation, but with an average ARM of 14 and only 5 health boxes, it is fully feasible for a healthy novice to wind up dead when a Judicator deviates onto its head. I think that will have a huge impact on if, and how, these models are run. I doubt anyone is going to want to attach melee jacks to their novice and run them into the fray with that level of mortality. I was really happy to see FOC 4 on these models; 1 more than the standard Cygnar Journeyman. That makes them much more likely to tap into multiple roles: upkeeping spells while feeding a battlegroup, running multiple jacks, etc. I do think the point cost is awesome. 2 pts would have been too cheap, anymore than 3 probably too expensive. PiP hit the sweet spot there. I think the range of spells, offensive options, and versatility make me want to run these models, but how did each faction fare? Here is my ranking of the six:
- Gastone Cross
- Andrei Malakov
- Allison Jakes
- Tristan Durant
Cross has a lot going for him. Moving Shadows and Fire Group are fabulous spells, and will make Cross want ranged jacks. That will keep him safer than having to go into melee. Getting Vanguards for 4 points is pretty crazy, especially when they can assault with RNG 10 shots. Think about the tactical options you get with Cross and a pair of vanguards, all for 11 points. Cross gets especially scary with a Galleon, if you are willing to take that chance. Also, the fact that he can be taken in Cygnar and the Protectorate gives him another bump. Finally, he has a gun with ROF 2, which gives him yet another dimension. i just see great combinations for this model. As a Merc player myself, I am looking forward to Cross, although I think I will need a 2nd Vanguard before he really shines.
Aiakos brings a great deal to the table: stealth, jump, and a drag harpoon all make him a dangerous solo in his own right. In fact, at first glance I found Aiakos to be good more for what he himself can do rather than what he does for warjacks. However, Escort is a superb spell, and also gets Aiakos’ ARM stat relatively high. All together, Aiakos can be a real pain himself. Deathbringers will also be really nice against Hordes armies, especially trolls. It is interesting to think about which ‘jacks to bring with Aiakos. I can see a pair of Scavengers to really make use of Escort, but I can also see a pait of Seethers. Since Seethers get effectively 2 free focus, you can have Aiakos upkeep Escort, put a focus on both Seethers, and camp 1. Then he is commanding two MAT 8, SPD 8 warjacks that are effectively able to spend a full 3 focus. That, especially for casters like Deneghra, could be mindblowing. As a Cryx player myself, I am very excited about Aiakos.
When Malakov appeared in a No Quarter scenario and brought Redline to the table, my Khador playing friend about wet himself. Being able to mitigate that SPD 4 on whichever warjack he wanted was a dream for a Khador player. I never thought the faction would see the spell proper, but it has happened. That alone makes Malakov good; he alone mitigates the single biggest weakness in Khador. His defensive stats are garbage, but he can also Sucker! all day long, which should help. Otherwise, Malakov is pretty meh. However, Redline-on-a-stick is just that good for Khador.
Jakes isn’t bad at all, but she isn’t as good as the above. In addition, she will always have the vanilla Cygnar Journeyman to be compared to, and Arcane Shield is good stuff. However, Sidekick is a tremendous spell, and will present some great challenges when you have 2 very high DEF parry models running around (Jakes and a Hunter, for example). Otherwise though, I don’t really see what Jakes brings. I suppose, as another source of focus for some ranged jacks, she is good, but that is why she is in fourth place…
Alright, the Novice Warcaster in the jack faction; unfortunately he is kind of underwhelming. Giving a warjack +2 ARM is certainly good, but that will require Durant stay near the front lines. He does bring True Sight, but with just a RNG 8 spell to make use of it, I doubt it is going to matter much. So effectively Durant is going to power up a melee jack’s ARM and try to stay alive. There are good combinations; an ARM 23 Templar smashing through the enemy lines is pretty hard to take down. Unlike Cross, Aiakos, etc – he lacks versatility. I think that is going to be his defining characteristic, and why I put him so low on the list. As a Protectorate player, I am still excited to have more jacks running around. And I may need a Templar to make use of that ARM…
Elara seems like she could have been good, but instead I think she missed the mark. She appears to want to be in melee, yet just doesn’t seem survivable enough. Thus, She defines the core Novice Warcaster conundrum. Battle Charged, Side Step, Extraction – all of things point Elara towards melee, and yet I think the investment in warjacks is going to be too high for her. If she was more of a personal threat like Aiakos (acrobatics, perhaps) I could see the lists where she would make the cut. As it is though, I am underwhelmed.
There ya go: some quick thoughts about these forthcoming models. What do you think? Are you picking any up? Are you excited? Disappointed? Let me know in the comments!