Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Adventures of Fiona the Black

So I've been trying to get as many games as possible in with Fiona now that I have some models to work with.  Each game has been very close but even those where I've lost, I've had a really good chance at the win, I just forgot about a particular rule (beware a satyxis captain keeping Skarre from getting knocked down!).  Today I want to share the list that I've been using and reflect on what I've learned about Fiona the Black - the least liked of the privateer warcasters.

All of my games so far have been at 35 points and I'm starting to believe that this is the most optimal level for Fiona, as there is a good balance of targets for her but I think that she could easily be overwhelmed with too many heavy targets or too many light ones.  At any rate, here's the list I've been using:

Highborn Covenant 35 points
Fiona (+6)
- Freebooter (6)
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages (6)
- Officer (2)
  - Mariner (8)
Press Gangers (full, 6)
Ragman (2)
Doc Killingsworth (2)
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile (2)
Rutger Shaw (2)
- Buccaneer (3)
Taryn di la Rovissi (2)

I've already written a debrief of my first game but I've wanted to stick with this list to give it a fair chance against a variety of opponents before changing things, making sure that I'm not just making snap judgements.  After a couple of games I do have some observations to make.

1) Dark Omen (feat) is absolutely amazing!
Fiona's feat looks relatively uninspiring when you first look at it, but as denial feats go, it's the best.  By removing one die to attack and damage rolls, you are heavily limiting what your opponent is capable of doing, and timing it right can blunt the most brutal of assaults.  Recently I had a unit of Satyxis Raiders charge a Mariner and use their Power Swell mini-feat and despite all of their combined attacks, the Mariner survived, only losing out on the use of its anchor!  Similarly, Tartarus completely missed some Press Gangers with Thresher, and so on.  Dark Omen is as solid of a feat as they come, and considering that the meta currently favors melee over ranged attacks (for which the latter is admittedly a problem with Fiona), this feat is a great boon.
Haters gonna hate

2) The Mariner and Freebooter are worth it!
In every game I've played so far, the fact that the Mariner, Freebooter, and any models in B2B can't be knocked down has come into play.  At first, you might think that a Mariner should be replaced with a Mule, and the Freebooter with a Nomad, but I'm not willing to replace them yet since keeping Fiona at DEF 16 consistently is more important to me.  Knock-down effects are very common in the game (example: the Satyxis assault mentioned above), especially with power attacks from warjacks and being knocked down can end the game.  In fact, I would have won against pSkarre if I had remembered that the captain doesn't let her get knocked down.  Also, the higher DEF on the two warjacks is great on my feat turn, as it's much more difficult to hit DEF 12 when you're rolling one less die, than if I were DEF 10.  No, these guys are here to stay.  On top of that, I'm really getting a huge kick out of being able to fire a cannon shot with the Mariner at a target 21" away, as I've been able to shoot the warcaster consistently on turn 2 each game.

3) Ragman is not as bad as I thought.

In my first game, Ragman got killed early and I wasn't convinced he would be worth it.  After some games, however, I've discovered that his DEF 14 is incredibly annoying when I use my feat and his Death Field is great for warcasters and targets that like their higher ARM.  He's a pseudo-attachment for the Press Gangers (along with Doc) and even allows them to threaten my opponents, but I actually find that Ragman is more useful in dropping the ARM of higher-priority targets as they get close, or ensuring that I finish off models with annoying ARM levels (like Exemplars or solos like Tartarus).

4) Rutger Shaw and Taryn di la Rovissi are awesome!
This duo is awesome.  I love their fluff and they work amazingly well with Fiona!  Shaw's drive makes the Buccaneer scary good and he is pretty awesome in melee himself (especially when Ragman is nearby and/or flanking with the Buccaneer!).  Keeping him near Taryn is also pretty great so they can both dodge any attacks sent their way (even more amusing with Dark Omen) and tough on Taryn makes her a little more difficult to deal with, or at least discourages the opponent from trying.  Lastly, Taryn's shots on her pistols are amazing.  With Ragman nearby, Iron Rot can put some hurt onto a warjack and Black Penny is ridiculously useful for keeping Gun Mages alive and useful.  I haven't used her Shadow Fire shot yet, but I've certainly considered it several times.  If I could have two of her, I'd take another copy in a heartbeat.

5) Dougal MacNaile is a pro!
I love my crazy pirate obsessed with things that go BOOM!  This guy makes this list amazing.  His Double Powder Rations give a great functional boost to the range of Gun Mages, Taryn, and the Mariner which make them far more threatening and gives me, essentially, an extra turn of shooting with them.  Also, Artillerist allows my Mariner to effectively get to RAT 9 with it's cannon, allowing me to boost damage rolls more often, increasing it's damage output significantly.  In my most recent game, however, I've also found that he's useful because of his weapons too!  Throwing a grenade into a combat can be hilarious when there are high-DEF low-ARM models trying to engage you, and in a pinch he can even clear out some enemies himself with his multi-fire quad iron!  For 2 points, this guy is a real pro!

6) "The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts"
This list with Fiona really exemplifies this statement, often the best definition of the word 'synergy'.  Each individual piece of the force above does not seem all that impressive, but with the support that Fiona offers it all, she makes everything work beautifully.  I'm actually leaning away from swapping in Sylys Wyshnalyrr because I often find that Fiona has plenty of focus to do what she needs to do.  I need to get better at planning my turns and allocating focus is difficult for someone who's used to playing Hordes, but Fiona often has enough focus points that she can camp or even swing with a couple of attacks if she's close enough.  Essentially, the rest of her army does most of the work and her feat and spells (Roth's Mercy, Nonokrion Brand, in particular) allow the rest of her force to do what it does best, while still allowing herself options to achieve victory (Influence, Soulfire).
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