Thursday, December 15, 2011

List Building: Fiona the Black (50 points)

One of my other factions that I play is Mercenaries.  Specifically, I play the privateer mercenaries, and I started with Broadsides Bart.  There is one warcaster who has always piqued my interest and that is Fiona the Black.  She's a badass goth pirate chick that's not Skarre.  I love her artwork in the Mercenaries book and I love the idea of a manipulative denial warcaster, but I have struggled for a long time to figure out how does she win?  I have not played her yet because I have not felt confident in a list yet.  Her tier is kinda "meh" and I don't think it takes advantage of the many tools she has available, and the benefits from her tier list don't make up for that, in my opinion.  Last night I had a revelation, and I began building based upon my other list building articles, and I think I have a list that makes me feel a bit more confident.

Fiona the Black (Highborn Covenant, 50 points)
Fiona (+6) 
- Freebooter (6)
- Sylys Wyshnalyrr (2)
Press Gangers (Max, 6)
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages (6)
- Gun Mage Officer (2)
   - Mariner (8)

Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Max, 10)
Dirty Meg (2)
- Buccaneer (3)
Doc Killingsworth (2)
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution (3)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2)

Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile (2)
Ragman (2)

The first thing that you should note is a crazy amount of solos, but that's par for Mercenaries at this rate.  Each of the character solos has a very specific purpose in this list and I feel pretty good about playing this list in the future.  The catch?  I don't own many of the models, but this list inspires me to finally start playing Fiona, so let's break it down.

I LOVE this guy!
First, how will I deal with heavy armor?  I always seem to come back to this when designing Fiona lists and I think this one finally addresses the problem of heavy armor while remaining flexible.  First, while Fiona doesn't offer much (see: any) spell support for dealing with heavies, she has access to up to 8 focus a turn (if her cultists are still alive) so that she can load-up the Freebooter for trashing (see what I did there?) some heavies, but the problem is that they need to be knocked down first.  
This is where Dirty Meg and the Buccaneer come in!  Meg lets the Buccaneer assault for free and the Buccaneer can take his 'jack marshall boost to hit so he should be able to knock most heavies down, as they will usually have low DEF to start.  If it's a Warjack with DEF 13+, then Meg can use her Junker to try to help out too, in a pinch.  This will allow the Freebooter to trash it.  The Freebooter has the potential to wreck a knocked-down heavy with 3 focus (5 attacks at average POW 24 mean about 30 points of damage on ARM 18).  For particularly high ARM targets, Ragman can move up to make sure their armor is reduced by 2, making the Freebooter's job that much easier (especially against Khador 'jacks).  If there are too many heavies to deal with on one turn, Gorman is available for some Black Oil love, as it will completely cripple any heavy from hitting you back.  I hate Gorman every time I see him, because of this exact reason.

Fiona's choice cultists

Fiona has no problem dealing with infantry, so that shouldn't be a problem for this list.  Between the Gun Mages, Press Gangers, her spells Soulfire and Influence, she should be capable of clearing infantry out of charge lanes and delivering blows where she needs them.  She can deal with Shield Walled or high-ARM infantry too with her spell Affliction, but admittedly it will be pretty situational.  The Nyss Hunters can also clear infantry out in a pinch, but they will be more useful for the win-condition.  The Press Gangers will be a fantastic and cheap front-line.  
No!  I'm fine!
With Doc nearby they are tough on a 4+, they are fearless since they're cultists, and with Roth's Mercy on them, you can seriously deny your opponent the satisfaction of clearing out specific models.  Ask any Menoth player how awesome self-sacrifice is on Errants, and you'll see how great it is that Press Gangers will benefit from it (with 4+ tough).  Additionally, with Ragman nearby, these guys will even be able to threaten heavy infantry and light 'jacks/'beasts with an effective POW 13.  Granted, there are a lot of moving parts for this to work, but it gives you lots of flexibility, and I think that's key with Fiona.

So we know how to deal with infantry and heavies, how do we win?  There are a lot of solos, a lot of characters, and a lot of moving parts.  Fortunately, having Doc Killingsworth around means that he can walk around healing those solos who need it, or even Fiona (since she can be vulnerable to blasts).  So how will Fiona win?  She'll survive long enough and manipulate your army to keep shooting your warcaster/warlock to death.  From turn 1, she will want to make sure that she has a target for Telgesh Mark (probably the Buccaneer or Freebooter due to their potential maneuverability) and - most importantly - she needs to put Nonokrion Brand on the Mariner.  
This guy is how you win
Fiona will be the Mariner's best friend, loading his gun while she benefits from Lash and with the Gun Mage Officer's magic ammo, the Mariner can sit back and shoot the opposing warcaster/warlock from 19" away with a magical ship gun that also ignores intervening models when making attacks.  That means that the Mariner can start hitting the enemy from turn 1 or 2.  Dougal McNaile is there to boost that range to 21" with his mini-feat, but he will consistently make sure that the Mariner will get +2 to its attack rolls thanks to artillerist, meaning that the Mariner will be an effective RAT 9 aiming (which it will do with ease due to ignoring models and long-range from its marshal) with his POW 14 cannon.  Oh and he can still boost to hit or damage thanks to his marshal too.  

You could also benefit from Thunderbolt or
Critical Brutal Damage when you're comfortably
in range of your target

This means that you can ping away at the enemy caster and her feat will keep her army alive on the turn that you're expecting your enemy to alpha strike.  This means that she can buy her time pinging the enemy warlock/warcaster and Fiona can even cycle Nonokrion Brand onto the Nyss Hunters or Gun Mages if they can draw a good bead with those units on the enemy caster.  She will make sure that her key models will be on the board long enough that she can keep hitting you with that magical Mariner - that also prevents her from being knocked-down (which is huge for a high-DEF caster).  While lots of armor will be difficult for her, she should be able to just buy her time long enough to shoot the enemy to death.  Additionally, you might think that transferring damage will shut her force down, but traditionally warlocks are lower ARM than their transfer targets, so you will in fact just finish off their beasts sooner, as well as ensuring that your opponent spends less fury on their turn than they might otherwise.  If you desperately need to finish them off, you still have eEiryss.

I'll need to get lots of models to build this list, but the ones I need can be useful in other lists anyway (eEiryss, Dirty Meg, Nyss Hunters, Gun Mages, Ragman), so it's not so bad.  What do you think?
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