Welcome to the latest in an ongoing series funded by our Patreon community! In order to help us fund stuff like site upgrades and an IRL streaming setup, we’ll be taking article requests from Tier 4 backers, to be posted in addition to our regular schedule. This article was requested by Max Bassiouni – thanks, Max! 🙂
Hey! We’re back with another Patreon article, this time on Ashlynn2! I’ll start by looking at her card and rules, go on to talk about possible synergies and list-building theories, talk about which theme to pick and then dive into a few lists I’ve prepared.
Whee, one step closer to our image hosting limit! -Ed.
Ashlynn2 has a pretty good defensive profile – DEF17 is nice, ARM15 is not awful. She also gets a decent weapon, a POW12 Weapon Master at MAT8, and a RAT7 Hand Cannon.
Groundwork makes this actually incredibly good and renders her tough to assassinate. She has a theoretically nice ability, giving her troops +2 to attack rolls if she kills something in melee, but for reasons we’ll get to later she won’t want to spend much time actually hitting things.
Which is a shame, because I really wanted a melee monster Ashlynn and not this support caster, but hey ho. She has Tactician, which is a generally good rule, but it’s only for Llaelese models, which is very situational.
Her spell list has two absolute bangers – Hand of Fate and True Path. Artifice of Deviation is a situational spell that is really good when it’s good, and Perdition is gonna be hard to use but has big upside if we’re bringing heavies.
Blood of Liberty is nice on paper but we’re going to be tight on focus, and only working on Llaelese is again very situational.
Her feat returns 3 solos – this is one of those feats that is kinda throwaway for me – it has some potential for returning Hermit, and you can certainly bring some high value solos and play around it, but I think that building for this feat is probably a trap, and that it’ll be better to treat it as something that it’ll be nice to get value out of but not build a game around.
The reason for this the solos having to sacrifice either movement or action – either you’re feating gun solos who get to do something immediately, you’re feating in melee so something can hit ( Boss MacHorne is the prime target for this) or you’re just doing it and they’re trying to hide – none of these is awful but none of them is gamebreaking, and with her low WJP of 22 it’ll be hard to fit these luxury solos in without losing something important.
My recommendation is that you just plan to feat to bring the Hermit back somewhere annoying, and use it to be slightly more aggressive with what solos you have, provided your enemy doesn’t have scary Remove from Play effects.
🎵 Spooky Scary Skeletons🎵
She also comes with two friends! Vayne Di Brasco gives her unit Reposition (3”) which it really needs, and he also has a pretty decent gun. The other one , whose name I refuse to check, is pointless.
Right off the bat, I have some takes. Based on this card, I see two things that really stand out as stuff we can build around, and two that are probably traps. Let’s deal with those first:
The Feat. This Feat is fine, but as I said above I think that building a list around it is a mistake. The sort of solos that are exciting for the feat are expensive, and often all they achieve in a game is hitting one thing then dying. This way they get to maybe hit two things (Assuming you either feat them into melee or they live) but that isn’t remarkable.
Alternatively, you bring shooting solos, which, like, I guess? But the gun solos in Mercenaries have fallen out of favour of late with a reason – in a meta with this much stuff on the table, paying 4-5 points to kill 1-2 dudes a turn isn’t that attractive. This will depend a bit on theme – if we’re in Flame in the Darkness, it’s probably a mistake to go deep on Acosta / Glyn Cormier to play around the feat, but if we’re in Irregulars, we can bring solos that are really good anyway, like Scythe or Boss Machorne, and just get to be more aggressive with them.
I wouldn’t exactly call this building around the feat though, because I’d definitely start cutting luxury solos if points were looking tight, but when you have the points left at the end (or requisition slots) then thinking about solos for the feat is a decent idea.
I also think the Llaelese abilities are a trap. Look, I love Llael, but the theme is very flawed. There are a few attractive options for her – the medium base Protectorate units, especially Cinerators , and also the heavy cavalry units, especially Vengers .
They all like True Path to go further, and they all like unyielding to survive in melee a little better. Bastions are interesting too, with cat food man (in Bennish, this means Harrison Gibbs -Ed.) to heal them back up after some Sanguine Bond damage, but Ashlynn is only FOC6, and from that she has to cast True Path, upkeep or maybe even swap Hand of Fate, fuel her battlegroup, and cast Blood of Liberty to give Unyielding.
That’s a lot, and the benefits are marginal – there’s no standout cheap unit in theme, and this couples with her WJP to make it difficult to get Archons in – and if we did, the best Vayne Di Brasco in theme is the one we can’t have because of Animosity. Llaelese Ashlynn is definitely valid, but the theme is too limited (Protectorate solos when?) to really compete with the others for her in my opinion.
This is absolutely the mental image I got when Ben specified Llaelese Ashlynn -Ed.
Onto the good stuff: Hand of Fate is a top tier upkeep. It’s really, really good, and definitely something we can build a list around. It’s at its best in a list with guns – preferably a single, large gun platform. Probably a colossal or a battle engine. It also goes great on big gun units, and we have access to some of those too. We’ll discuss that in more detail later, but I’ll say for now that every list I build in this article is built around Hand of Fate.
True Path is also a really good spell. It lets units that already have a lot of board presence push further, and units that threat a long way to melee get to ridiculous numbers – this means units with Advance Deployment, units with Vengeance and good Cavalry units. We can write lists with all of these.
Let’s talk themes!
Soldiers of Fortune is a theme I really like, but I think has been somewhat made redundant in the tournament meta by Flame in the Darkness. Sure, Steelhead Heavy Cavalry hit really hard, but so do Legion of Lost Souls, Resolutes, etc.
Bulldoze is nice but we don’t have any other tools for that sort of control list, and Halberdiers have somewhat insipid output compared to Precursors or Legion of Lost Souls.
Llaelese Resistance, as I said above, is flawed in my opinion. I actually tried to build a list in Llaelese for this article but couldn’t find anything I really liked – I think that the core is probably a Galleon, some Vengers, a smattering of solos and maybe either Cinerators or Bastions, if you want to give it a go for yourselves. Irregulars and Flame in the Darkness are the two standout themes, and we’ll do them in a bit more detail.
Flame in the Darkness is the new hotness, and for good reason. It gives all its units Vengeance, which couples with True Path to make them threat really far. I’m a big fan of building Flames lists from the centre out, and seeing as we’re building around Hand of Fate anyway, that makes sense here.
The first thing to grab is a Hand of Fate target – there’s no Battle Engines, and while we have some solid gun units none are really good enough to warrant being our primary target.
Let’s get a colossal.
There are 6 in theme. I’ll discount the Conquest, and the Hurricane. I also don’t like the Blockader here – I think that it’s not that great when we can’t either make it threaten further or protect it after it commits, and we don’t do either.
The Hurricane is for my money the best colossal here, and the removal of Flight from our Archons is something we can play around, but I’m still going to plump for the Galleon – It has more long range guns, and even at the Hurricane's range I feel uncomfortable without a big infantry screen, which our low WJP won’t let us have. I’ll forego the second jack because of the aforementioned WJP, although it makes me nervous.
The struggle is real ok
With the Galleon in place we can grab our other core models – two Thamarite Archons , because to me they’re the best model into the wider metagame in the theme. One Morrowan Archon , for Veteran Leader, but only one, because I think that they have diminishing returns on the second. Throne and Hermit get slammed in without a thought. Now we need some boys.
I reached this loadout by playing with the points, basically. Legion of Lost Souls would be good here too, as they take Hand of Fate decently well due to being able to attack in some fashion with most if not all of the unit every turn, but with a maximum unit, 3 priests and Alexia3 you can only get one unit of Vigilants after, and that list felt worse than this one – we have more Shield Guards, and with True Path our Legion may well outpace Alexia3.
We will also produce a lot of Thrall Warriors , meaning we can feat some back if we have to. Also, I like the symmetry of these Precursor units (he’s not joking, the complaints that I get when I post something asymmetrical make *me* feel allistic by comparison -Ed.).
For me, Irregulars right now is defined by two models – Asphixious4 and Nemo4. It’s hard to get both in a list, especially with only 22WJP. It means we don’t get a big unit, and I really want a big unit. The question, then, is which do we take. I’ve written a list for both:
And you can see that the cores are very similar.
The list with Nemo4 works with the premise that he is our main Hand of Fate target. At this point we can bring Toros and not a Colossal, meaning we may get to leverage Perdition. I’ve brought Boss MacHorne because I think she’s good on her own, and very good with True Path. The feat is a bonus. Idrian Skirmishers are the perfect unit here – they take Hand of Fate well, being a big unit with guns, and hit above their paygrade in melee. True Path from Advance Deployment gives them a lot of presence, and Go To Ground with the rest of the army in an Artifice of Deviation makes a nice, high-DEF brick.
My general take on Nemo4, as I talked about on the podcast a few weeks back, is that if you give him a heavy you don’t get to use the gun without dying. If you want to do that, you have to camp a couple after shooting, so we ideally don’t want to plan on using Lightning Shroud or Locomotion too much. We can mitigate that a bit with Reposition (3”) from Boomhowler2 , but as this list wants to use the gun, I don’t think we can risk a heavy.
Chargers are great. They’re cheap and efficient. You could cut it for a Diffuser and get Anastasia to really leverage that turn 1 speed by making it very likely that you go first, and I don’t hate that at all. The Diffuser doesn’t power up though, so beware. You could also bring a Firefly to really commit to the gun, which might be better but I’m worried that it’s too much support for him when we’re already committing a spell and Boomhowler2. Not that Fireflies are bad, but they’re not Chargers. After these things are in, I just grabbed good models. We can be very aggressive with Scythe because she’s coming back, and Kayazy Eliminators are an excellent unit. Nemo4 can recur the Idrians too, which is hot. Throne helps them hit like absolute monsters, and Alexia2 is there to double dip the recursion with Thrall Warriors.
If you know, you know.
With Asphixious4 , things are a little different. He’s very good, and bring Bloodthirsty for Constructs, so you could consider a Blockader here. I still like the Galleon more for this list – it threats 12” against living models with Bloodthirsty, which is solid, and I like having a shooting Colossal behind boys. The core remains the same, if a bit more anaemic. I couldn’t get the Eliminators , but you could always lose Boss MacHorne .
I LOVE the Scavenger for Asphixious4 , as with Dark Shroud it has monstrous output for 7 points, and Sprint is good. Flight makes it so easy to use, too. I think it’s a great little jack. The Talon , too, is excellent for its low cost, and would certainly be a shout here. You could cut the Galleon for Toros , which go potentially very far with Perdition and Bloodthirsty, but it’s very situational and leaves only the Idrians as top tier Hand of Fate targets.
So, three lists. I’ll come right off the bat and say that I like the Irregulars lists better than the Flame in the Darkness lists. Not that it’s a bad list, but the former theme just hits different. It has all the perfect things for her kit, and even uses the feat better. I don’t feel as tight for points, either.
Of the two, I like the Nemo4 list better. Which is weird, because I think that Asphixious4 is a much better model overall than Nemo4 , who we have in the past described as very overrated. We have a lot of support for him here, though, and a game plan that doesn’t get distracted trying to use too much of his kit – we have Hand of Fate for the gun, and Reposition (3”) from Boomhowler2 . It also gives us the option of stacking Perdition and an Ironhead from Nemo4 to make our Toros go far, and using the Ironhead to make MacHorne threat a whopping 16″ with her big Combo Smite.
It gets a bit more stuff, too, because I didn’t feel the need to invest in a Galleon on Ashlynn . The recursion engine is potentially nutty, with D3 Idrians and 3 Thrall Warriors returning per turn, as well as Hermit , Scythe , and Boss MacHorne getting a second go each. I actually played a version on stream, albeit with a Blockader instead of the heavies, which I think are probably better. Overall, it just goes to show that even when we think a model is bad in general, there are often specific cases where it has the tools to really shine. (two articles in a row that mention Nemo4 without hating on him? Standards are falling… -Ed.)