I have a problem. Whenever I start a new faction I tell myself that I'll "only" play a particular warcaster/warlock... then maybe just a couple... then I end up owning most of the faction. This happened with Cygnar, this happened with Circle, and now it's happening with Mercenaries. Please, can someone take my Legion off of my hands so I don't get tempted to do it again? I originally just got my Mercenaries to play with the pirates, in particular: Broadsides Bart. It's a fun list but I just never really got it to a point where I was really happy with it, you know? Then I expanded a bit and decided to try Fiona the Black. She's an underdog and faces a lot of criticism, so I decided to try her out to prove people wrong. After a lot of tweaking and playtesting, I've found a good list for her that I like. Now, after some list building with a fan of the blog, I broke down and decided to try out Gorten Grundback. Before you get all excited about Rhulic dwarves, I'm sadly not going to be playing with the Searforge Commission (yet), but rather sticking with the Highborn Covenant. It makes sense, after all, since I play Fiona with the same contract and I already own lots of Cygnar models, so I might as well, right? Well here's the list that I've put together:
Highborn Covenant 35 points
Gorten Grundback (+7)
- Basher (7)
Alexia and Risen (5)
Forge Guard (full, 8)
Gun Mages (6)
- Officer (2)
- Mule (8)
Not a lot of moving parts in this list but I like it. I'll need to play around with it to decide what I want to tweak, but so far I really like it. This list brings a bunch of bodies onto the field and some cleverly disguised hard-hitting. My favorite part, though, is the shooting potential of the list. While the meta is changing, shooting is still very effective if you have the right tools. While Gorten doesn't inherently offer much synergy to shooting armies, I think this list will take advantage of what Gorten does have to offer rather well.
The first thing to note is the number of bodies hitting the field. Forge Guard are some great high-ARM troops which pack a serious punch but can die easily to weapon masters or charging infantry. Having a nice and squishy screen of risen in front of them, however, will mean that my opponent will have a hard time getting to the forge guard, allowing me to deliver their counter-punch most effectively. Even if my opponent does kill some forge guard, they'll just add to Alexia's number of risen, so it's a great cycle of annoyance. Rhupert, of course, is there to give out Pathfinder as needed, but also to make the risen Tough, which can take a normally annoying unit to hilarious levels of being annoying. Even if my opponent wants to remove Alexia directly, the Tough rolls on the risen can be used on her "transfers" so she'll be even more difficult to remove.
Toss in Ragman and Gorman for some improved damage, and we have ourselves a party! Gorman will be sitting fairly safe behind all of the risen and can naturally Black Oil those pesky Colossals/Gargantuans or Rust Bomb a warjack if I'm worried about it. Ragman, of course, will turn those risen into a slightly greater threat (especially if I'm shooting them while they're engaged) and he turns the forge guard into serious damage potential. If I can tag a warjack with a Rust Bomb and get Ragman in range with his Death Field, even a Khador heavy at ARM 20 will crumble to merely 4 charging forge guard!
So what does Gorten bring to this party, anyway? I think I can sum it up with two things: his feat and Solid Ground. Gorten has an amazing feat that is well known for it's tournament winning potential. While he has a small control area, the rest of this list and his naturally high armor mean that he'll be quite comfortable sitting pretty close to the front lines anyway. His feat not only pushes models back up to 8", but it also offers a very useful SPD, DEF, and RAT debuff (although the RAT debuff is rarely important). This means that even if my opponent decides to just run in and engage my models, I can simply pop feat and push them all back while my ranged attacks shoot them down. The DEF debuff means they'll be much easier to hit and even if they try to come at me again, the SPD debuff will make it difficult for them to even run to get close again. In essence, Gorten does support a ranged force by allowing them the opportunity to get basically 2 extra shooting 'phases'.
The second (arguably most important) piece of support Gorten offers is his spell Solid Ground. Don't get me wrong, Rock Wall is pretty awesome too, but for such a low-FOC 'caster, Solid Ground will provide more benefits for upkeeping it (I'd even be willing to pay the double focus to upkeep it if someone makes me do that). The spell offers two important benefits for this list: no blast damage and friendly models can't be knocked down. Those are huge benefits! Sure, small control area again, but keeping everyone standing is great for Tough, thanks to Rhupert as well as keeping Gorten alive longer since DEF 13 is hardly unimpressive as it is. I think the immunity to blast damage is probably the most important, however. With the exception of the forge guard, the rest of the warrior models in this list are fairly low in ARM values and are very susceptible to blast damage. Gun Mages are only ARM 11 so even some of the weakest blast weapons are able to clear them out with ease. Suddenly with Solid Ground, not only does the opponent have to get through a wall of forge guard, but they can't even hope that blast damage will remove some of those gun mages.
Just thinking about all of this makes me giddy and eager to try this list out! I've also noted that there are no FA:C models in this list that I'd want to use with my Fiona list. Could this mean that I have some tournament potential here??? We shall see!