So, recently (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA -a very behind-schedule Ed) I put a poll up on the Convergence of Cyriss Facebook page asking which Warcaster in the faction people would like to hear my take on next. Overwhelmingly, because apparently I’ve done something to upset you people, you voted for Syntherion1. That meant I had to buckle up and try to find a way to make this maligned, forgotten Warcaster interesting.
So let’s begin this article with an overview and rundown of the card. First, the good. Pathfinder is a really nice rule to have on your Warcaster, as it makes a lot of your activations and plays much simpler to execute and will allow you to make use of defensible terrain, without worrying about it causing you problems in later turns. Secondly, ARM18 is a very solid stat for a Warcaster, and means he can shrug off most low POW, or unboosted moderate POW hits without really breaking a sweat. Finally, his melee potential is surprisingly potent. Two POW14 initials is a great starting point, then when we apply Synergy, which we’ll cover later, he can really put out some punishment in melee late game. Unfortunately that’s about it for the good. His gun is just a bad Hand Cannon; it is Electrical damage so can be buffed, but that forces your list creation in certain directions. Even with both of the buffs we have for Electrical attacks he still caps out at RAT7, POW13 which is decidedly meh for having invested two separate buffs. MAT6 is distinctly average, although he does have fixes for this which we’ll cover later. RAT5 however, is monumentally awful for the kinds of lists that he ideally wants to field. DEF13 is also on the low end, with the standard ‘Chassis’ tending to be DEF14/ARM18 as can be seen on the likes of Butcher1, Omodamos1, Kreoss3, and Borka2 . There are some that deviate from this, such as Durst1, but these often have other ways to increase their survivability, which unfortunately Syntherion1 lacks. Last but certainly not least is his worst in faction FOC stat of 6. Yes I know it’s tied worst with Axis1, but it’s also shit on him too. I can’t fully explain how much I hate FOC6 on a Warcaster. Even with the Corollary to manage allocation and help with CTRL it is still a massive pain, particularly as Forge Master Syntherion is very reliant on his control range, and has a very potent offensive spell that FOC6 severely limits.
Luckily, the back of his card is much better than the front! Let’s start with his Field Marshal. Now this is both a blessing and a curse. First the good news; this lets Syntherion1's lists operate almost like a Hordes faction in that if you don’t fully kill something, it will likely be back to full functionality (or at least full for what it needs to do that turn) since usually there will only be 1 - 2 systems that are vital for a turn each turn. It also helps you stay alive into a moderate amount of spread out guns by healing up chip damage from the approach. Unfortunately, this rule is not optional, and as such, clock can become a problem. Since Syntherion1 wants a decent sized Battlegroup, this rule can eat up minutes of your clock over the course of a game. Now that might not sound like much but if you get to turn 7 with 1 minute on your clock instead of 4 you will REALLY feel it. Empower is admittedly much more potent than it looks at first glance and does allow Syntherion1 to run a rather unique set up in Convergence, in that he can run two “pockets” of Induction. The Corollary can sort one and then with this rule and allocation he can have another set running independently, which can add some flexibility to Convergence Battlegroups. Resourceful is one of those rules that is a bit of a sleeper but is often one of the best rules on the card of the Warcaster who has it. Particularly in Syntherion1's case where you have 3 very potent upkeep spells that you want out in basically all of your games. Considering his other spells are a nuke and an offensive upkeep, most of the time he doesn’t really have anything else to do with his Focus so allocating 2 and Empowering a Warjack can really help the list tick.
Now onto the spell list and Syntherion1's has some real corkers! Firstly, Magnetic Hold, which is one of the most awesome, yet frustrating spells on his card. On paper, this spell is fucking bonkers. A powerful control effect, a hit fix AND a threat extender all in one package. The issue is that it’s COST3 on a FOC6 caster. This means that not only is it unreliable against high DEF targets, but most of the time you’ll need to boost which means if you fail to hit you physically can’t try again, and while you can have 2 chances at a hard cast camping 0 is real concerning for a DEF13/ARM18 caster. The other issue is the Faction’s inflexible Channelers. SPD5 with no Pathfinder and a pretty flimsy statline means they are often walking a tight rope between death and irrelevance. Furthermore with how popular Rebuke users are right now (Harbinger1, Krueger2, and Stryker2 all being very prevalent) as well as Dreamer1 with Enfeeble and Deneghra1 with Crippling Grasp, there is a real need for people to bringing upkeep outs, and unfortunately Magnetic Hold kind of gets caught in the crossfire. That being said, when it works, it’s mighty fine.
Next up, probably the biggest spell on his card, Synergy. It is one of, if not the best damage multiplying spells in the game, certainly for the Battlegroup, and since it isn’t tied to Warjacks, Syntherion1 can also make use of this, although I’d keep it to the late game since he’s not exactly front line material! That said, coming in at MAT9, P&S17 (or 19 with Dark Shroud) and two initials means he can really help in the trading game. There is however a big issue with this spell in Convergence in that you need to Induct to make the army efficient, but sometimes a model just spikes too hard and kills an enemy too fast (a nice problem to have, I know). This results in Focus being stuck on a model that can’t then Induct it elsewhere which can completely ruin your entire turn. Luckily the Feat does help with this which we’ll get onto later, but it is still worth noting.
Third is Reconstruct. This is a spell that starts a little mediocre but the later in the game it goes, the more potent this spell becomes as the opponent will start to run out of attacks to clean up the model it’s applied to after it is triggered meaning you can cheat trades, or have a model become borderline invincible in the later turns.
Fourthly, there’s Hot Shot. There are a few targets that take this very well. First, and most obviously, are the Primes (Axiom and Conflux). They have lots of guns and only 3 Focus so having damage taken care of really helps them dish out the pain. Second is the Assimilator, which can be tricky to keep alive, but off-brand Fire for Effect-esque effect on a Ground Pounder is big value. Third is the Tesselator, which is much less Focus-hungry with its damage boosts covered. Finally, honourable mention goes to the Monitor (Paul being hyped about the Monitor? I’m shocked -Ed), as Hot Shot allows two fully boosted shots for 2 Focus.
His final spell is Convection. It’s a 2 cost nuke. Not much to say, it is POW12 with an added effect so it’s on the higher end of nukes, but it’s still just a nuke at the end of the day.
Okay, we're doing this; one of my favourite spells has come up and I want it to get the appreciation it's due. Convection is low-key really good, friends. The numbers are in the higher end of the offensive spell bracket, and it's very aggressively costed. If we compare it to other generic spells in the same class, there's a lot to love, and the fact that it randomly has an added effect that helps us out with our Induction chain here is just icing. Paul was pretty concerned about how trashy the gun was, but when you have some spare Focus and a node that's not busy, sometimes you just take one or two of your opponent's bois off for a few turns with your nuke spell instead, and the attrition swing relative to the resources that you're investing is often respectable. Short version, never underestimate a decent nuke spell; sometimes the extra work they do will make or break a game.
And now, onto the Feat! And his Feat is… a strange one. Now admittedly I never even played him with the old version so can’t comment on how they compare, but what I will say is the Focus goes a long way towards mitigating the problem I spoke of when discussing Synergy in that sometimes models die too fast. Having everything only need 2 Inductions to be fully functional is really handy for planning the turn out. That being said, an extra attack by not having to pay for the charge would increase the output of the list in a notable way so the change is very much a side grade, and is in most likelihood, a little weaker. Both our Colossals and our gun Heavies can make great use of Dual Attack, though. It can really help to finish off those last few boxes if you want to buy attacks on something else, and it’s very powerful at letting you scalpel out backline support. Being able to charge in (possibly with Bloodthirst and Magnetic Hold for even longer charges) means you can often get angles your opponent hasn’t considered, and having your Heavy pick up Alexia3 at the same time as Gallant for example can be huge. It does also let you Trample and shoot which most people don’t respect, as they don’t expect you to Feat just for that. If they offer you something good then the option is certainly there though, so don’t discount it!
Before I mention the lists I tried and discuss the best direction to go here are a few notable models that Syntherion1 likes in his lists, in no particular order:
Both of the Primes (Dealers choice), The Tesselator and Negator, the Monitor, the Cipher, the Assimilator, Asphyxious4, and the Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex.
The best list for him was the combined arms style with Heavy Warjacks that have guns and melee potential, and then a handful of the Flight lights; something along these lines:
This allows you good use of every tool that Syntherion1 has, but there are problems. This style of list relies on shooting and melee, and Syntherion1's Battlegroup just isn’t good enough at shooting. I honestly think that Syntherion1's biggest problem is simply that he is RAT5. RAT5 makes all of his guns very unreliable, and on the big Feat turn you don’t want to be spending Focus to boost your ranged attack rolls as at that point. I think on the whole, early Convergence balance is very safe, and a lot of the Warcasters have MAT and RAT stats that are much worse than they could, or perhaps even should be, with Syntherion1 being one of the biggest victims of it. Seriously, RAT6 would make him a much, much more compelling option. The obvious follow up question then is “what if we stop being greedy?” The answer is that then he just simply doesn’t do enough. Are you taking him just for Synergy? You’d probably be better off with Lucant1. Yes you lose out on the extra +1/+1 with Positive Charge instead of Synergy, but it requires way less setup, and to make up for it you get all of the rest of Lucant1’s kit. Are we taking him to make a really aggro gunline by abusing the Feat and hot swapping Hot Shot around? Well then why aren’t we playing Orion1 who has RAT7, defensive terrain and Stealth outs, Magic Weapons and Blessed, Magic Bullet and Reposition [3"] en masse in addition to a great Feat? Syntherion1 is caught between two playstyles without being good enough at either. I’m sorry it’s not better news as I know many of you were excited to see some ideas on how to make him work, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I think the problem is with him, and not with you.