Solos: Are they worth it?

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks delving into Mercenaries in Mark III and one benefit of that is their access to a huge bevy of wonderful solos. With the removal of pacts/contracts it has really opened up the options. Two that have really stood out to me is being able to play Kell Bailoch and Orin Midwinter after mostly sticking to highborn covenant in Mark II. I’ve found list building to be extremely exciting because combinations of solos are so varied and can lead to so many neat synergies.

So to the point of the article. Although I’ve found it very fun to build lists with all these colorful characters in Mark III, the results on the table have not been what I expected. Solos are amazing models with some very fun abilities that can impact a game greatly but that also means that they have a huge target on their backs. No matter how much I try to block LOS or keep them behind walls or in forests to protect them, it seems that my opponents will find a way to kill them if at all possible and remove that pivotal piece. I’m going to talk about a few that have excited me and then provide some play experience that I’ve had with them in the past few months.

  1. Eiryss – I wanted to start with her and whether its her first or second incarnation, she brings some great utility to the table. She can get rid of upkeeps, strip focus, take out other key solos, and just be a general PITA. But for all these abilities she has a price tag putting her at the top of the spectrum for solos and even with her impressive defensive tech, your opponent will make it a priority to take her out. I figure there is two ways to play her. Sit back and shoot off upkeeps/focus and use her ranged abilities as much as possible.This seems to be a pretty viable tactic and usually keeps her alive longer but is she really living up to her price tag then? Plus if your opponent ignores stealth or has non-direct ways of getting to her, she still dies to a stiff breeze. The other option is to try to get her in there and press the issue. She has a greater chance of dying but her new melee prowess combined with assault and spell breaker make her viable especially if your opponent has an upkeep they really want to keep on an easy to hit model.
  2. Anastasia Di Bray – One of the more intriguing models in my opinion. Ambush is always a fun ability. The +1 to starting rolls is a big plus. But espionage is really her calling card. It seems like it should be fairly easy to ambush behind the enemy army and have her run in behind and trigger it but game after game I find her not really getting the chance. Sure she’s cheap and can be a nice distraction, cleaning up support or requiring the opponent to divert resources to take her out and for her price that might be enough but when you have a sweet rule like that you want to see her put it into play. I’ve talked to a couple other players that use her and they don’t even worry about espionage and just use her as a harrying force so maybe I just need to change my expectations or tactics.
  3. Taryn Di Rovissi – Two range 10 guns with some sweet abilities on a rat 7 model seem pretty good. She’s expensive but the utility is there. My problem is several games in that she just can’t get to the targets she seems meant for without exposing herself. In my last game she missed a ghost raider twice shooting into melee with black penny and the next turn she shot one bane rider off the table with brutal but flubbed the attack roll on the second needing a 3. Now that might just be bad luck but when you have a limited number of opportunities you want them to count.
  4. Harlan Versh – I really feel like he is one of the most improved models in Mark III. He is hard to kill from range directly and his gun got way better. His short comings lay in his less than stellar range/rat/pow unless you can use purgation. He’s been a real mixed bag. I’ve had one game where I was rolling for 4 shots and taking out 4 models a turn that had an upkeep or doing some non-insignificant damage to a heavy with one. In my last game he started out great by taking out Blackbane(with help from Radiance of Morrow which is a really cool interaction with Constance), then proceeded to do absolutely nothing the rest of the game.
  5. Rhupert Carvalo – This guy is still pretty good and because he is mostly a support solo, usually earns his points back. His problem is that Dirge of Mists took a pretty big hit in my opinion, as did tough. In several games that I’ve taken him he’s done absolutely nothing because the opponent had ways to ignore tough or didn’t have any shooting. Pathfinder probably got a bump in value though with the requirement of more terrain so that might be a wash overall.
  6. Alten Ashley – HIS GUN DOES WHAT?!!! OMG THAT IS SO AMAZING!!! Until you miss. When you are only going to get 4-5 shots a game if you are lucky, he really needs to be hitting 80% of them to get his points back. Him being a huge target and his defensive abilities relying on concealment are also negatives although his long range  and reposition can usually keep him safe if you position him well.
  7. Kell Bailoch – Your probably sensing a theme here. Ranged solos that have great guns but limited attacks that need to hit nearly every single time to get their points back. I’ve had several lengthy conversations with some very good opponents about not relying on “average” dice but when you have a limited amount of high value attacks you need them to have an impact. You can’t afford to have those snake eyes when you need a 5 to hit or a 7 when you are at dice minus 5 with 3 dice. Does this make volume attacks that are cheaper a better option? I don’t know if I would go that far but the conversation could definitely be had.
  8. Lanyssa Ryssyl – She is like the most amazing solo ever when you land Hunter’s Mark or are crit stationarying a model every turn. For a lot of armies, she is the only option for threat extension but a savvy opponent will know that and prioritize taking her out. Her spells require her to be somewhat far forward so it’s difficult to keep her safe.

So as mentioned above, the theme is: Can I get my points back without making myself an easy target? Is getting one or maybe two turns with meaningful impact enough? Maybe I feel the pinch with Mercs more because lists loaded with solos seems to be very easy to make. How many points is too many to put into solos? Are support solos that almost guarantee they will impact the game more efficient that boom or bust offensive ones? I would love to get a discussion going on the subject, what does everyone think? What solos do you find almost auto-includes and which do you think are unplayable and why?

Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

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