With the upcoming release of all plastic battlegroups I thought it would be a good time to write up a basic guide to the Protectorate of Menoth battlegroup. I’m writing this guide primarily for players who are brand new to Warmachine and are only playing battlegroup games against other battlegroups. With that in mind, the strategies and comments here should be viewed in that vacuum, where you know exactly what armies you will be facing and have no choice as to your own army composition. I’m planning on doing other articles focusing on particular matchups (e.g. Protectorate vs Khador) but for now here is your introduction to the Protectorate of Menoth Battlegroup
Being the only heavy warjack in your battlegroup the Crusader is your heavy hitter. It is cheap, simple and brutal but a little slower than the rest of your army. If you give it a full 3 focus in an average turn you should have no problem crippling a light warjack (if not outright destroying it) or putting a serious dent in a heavy. Its main responsibility will be to engage your opponent’s heavy warjacks and tie up the enemy’s forces while your light jacks and Kreoss do their work. Don’t forget, the Crusader does have an open fist which allows it to make weapon locks and one handed throws. If you ever have a chance to load up your crusader and charge the enemy’s caster take it (unless of course doing so will obviously put your caster in mortal peril and you don’t think you can end the game that turn).
The Repenter is a bit of an oddity in the Battlegroup. It is a fantastic jack for clearing out infantry and it is a real bargain at 4 points. Unfortunately there is no infantry in battlegroup games and points don’t matter since all the battlegroups are predetermined. Even though the nature of battlegroup games don’t play to its strengths the Repenter can still serve a vital role in your game plan. Its flail is a pretty average melee weapon for a light warjack and it can be extra useful if it is engaged with a Lancer or Revenger as it ignores the extra 2 armor granted by their shields.
However, the spray weapon is the real meat of this jack. Sprays are very handy because they not only can hit everything under the temple but they also ignore bonuses from concealment, cover, stealth, being in melee and intervening models. So, what this means is you can target an opponent’s warjack and if their caster is standing behind it (even if you have no line of sight to the caster) they can still be hit by the spray.
Now the spray is not likely going to do any notable damage to warjacks as it is only pow 12, but whatever it hits it sets on fire possibly causing a few more pow 12 damage rolls through the course of the game. Every little bit helps but again a pow 12 isn’t going to do much, if anything, to a heavy warjack and only minimal damage to a light (an exception to this is Cryxian bonejacks but we’ll talk about that in the Protectorate vs Cryx article).
With all this in mind I’ve found the best use for the Repenter is as part of your assassination run on the feat turn. With its low RAT you’re going to have to be pretty lucky to hit anything other than a heavy jack with the Repenter (with an aiming bonus and a boosted attack roll you could have better luck hitting lights and casters but that is still unlikely and would be a waste of resources most of the time anyway) . Luckily a knocked down model’s defense against ranged attacks is reduced to 5 so once Kreoss has popped his feat you’ll be able to hit anything as long as you don’t roll double ones. So, give the Repenter 1 focus to boost damage and fire away at that knocked down caster. You should do a respectable amount of damage and best of all the enemy caster will be on fire providing you with a bit of insurance should your assassination run fail.
The Revenger is one of the best arc nodes in Warmachine and you are lucky enough to have it in your battlegroup. Arc nodes are generally coddled since they are little pricier than other light jacks and if the node is disabled then you’re missing out on the main reason you took it. The Revenger however is one sturdy little guy. With its shield and Defender’s Ward from Kreoss this light warjack can have armor that is one point higher than a Khador heavy and defense one point lower than a Cryxian bonejack. Which is to say that this node will be sticking around for a while.
If you keep the Revenger hidden away to protect its arc node you are not taking advantage of one of your most potent weapons. Your Crusader can’t do all the heavy hitting on his own and often relies on the Revenger to come in and finish off whatever jack it softened up. The Revenger’s halberd has reach and powerful charge, meaning this jack has the longest threat range of all the jacks in your force and you will most likely be able to hit whatever you are charging. The Revenger’s arc node can be a vital part of your assassination threat so you certainly don’t want to use it recklessly but it can handle being in combat with another light for a round or two and still keep its node intact.
Aside from its high defensive stats the Revenger’s shield provides another key to its survivability. When another model hits the Revenger if the shield is still intact after the damage is resolved the attacking model is pushed back an inch. This means that any model without reach is only going to get one hit on the Revenger before being pushed out of melee range. Models with reach to be aware of are the Lancer, Revenger, Kreoss, Sorscha and Deneghra.
High Exemplar Kreoss (often referred to as pkreoss) is one of the Protectorate’s strongest casters and is an excellent one to learn with. He provides defensive buffs and denial, is a potent spellcaster and is no slouch in melee either. Kreoss’s stat line is pretty respectable, he has the lowest defense and speed of all the battlegroup casters but should he find himself in melee he probably has the highest damage output of the lot. While Kreoss certainly can mix it up a bit he is primarily a spell slinger and support caster that should take advantage of his large focus pool and control range to hang back a bit. His spells can be put into 3 categories:
Cleansing Fire is by no means a bad spell. It has 2 higher POW than Immolation and is a 3” aoe, however it costs one more focus to cast. You will almost always (99.99% of the time) be better off casting Immolation in battlegroup games. The extra POW looks nice but for the same price you can cast a damage boosted Immolation which will net you more damage in the end. The AOE isn’t very useful either as jacks aren’t going to be taking much damage from POW 7 blast damage and you’re not going to catch more than 2 of them in the AOE anyway. For the sake of learning you can pretend this spell isn’t there to make things simpler.
Immolation is your bread and butter offensive spell. On your feat turn you’ll want to cast 2 of these and boost the damage. With average rolls you’ll probably be able to bring the enemy caster down to 25% of their health but there’s always the chance you’ll get lucky and kill them outright. If not hope you crit and set them on fire or better yet have that Repenter you gave 1 focus to standing by to seal the deal and set them on fire for sure.
Defender’s Ward is an amazing buff in any setting. Don’t bother casting it on the Repenter or Kreoss unless you have a serious need and your other jacks are dead. My preferred recipient for Defender’s Ward is the Revenger. It has solid defense and great armor already but with this buff it’s bumped up into the range of being really insane for a light jack. The Crusader also benefits from Defender’s Ward with the defense buff pushing it just above the range of being easily hit by other jacks to the zone where your opponent wonders whether or not to boost the roll to hit. The added armor is also great for the Crusader making it even more beefy than before.
Your opponent will hate you for Lamentation. It’s one of the ultimate denial spells and is a great example of the sort of things the Protectorate is known for. Kreoss has a larger than average control range and your opponent will probably find it difficult to stay out of the double spell cost zone. Lamentation seriously limits your opponents options and reduces the overall amount of buffs and debuffs you’ll be seeing used against you and also indirectly affecting how much focus is allocated. Cast Lamentation your first turn and upkeep it until you need all your focus for an assassination.
Purification can be a real pain for some opponents and with others you may never find yourself casting it. Keep in mind that the spell removes ALL continuous effects animi and upkeeps. That means friendly and enemy so don’t cast purification right after you cast all your buffs and set their caster on fire, it will all go away. You’ll probably be casting Purification a lot against Cryx to get rid of Crippling Grasp and Parasite and probably never against Khador. Casting Purification can cause some serious headaches for your opponent but having to cast your buffs again each turn eats up focus like no other.
While his spell list is certainly top notch the major punch Kreoss provides is his feat. With a larger control area it is pretty easy to catch the entire enemy army in his feat and knock them all down. Remember knocked down models are auto hit in melee and def 5 against ranged, don’t count as engaged and don’t block line of sight. So, when should you pop your feat? Well let’s talk about win conditions.
In battlegroup games you probably aren’t playing scenarios so you’re left with two win conditions: attrition and assassination.
Attrition- Attrition is your secondary win condition and you are basically trying to outlast your opponent, whittle down their army until you outnumber and outgun them and then steamroll them. Your defensive buffs will probably keep your Revenger alive a lot longer than your opponent’s lights and your denial will limit your opponent’s efficiency letting you out spell them and have more focus at your disposal. Kreoss’s feat can also be used to get a solid round of autohitting in.
Assassination- While attrition is a viable option for you your primary win condition should be assassination. Kreoss’s feat is tailor made for an assassination run. Often times the two things protecting a caster are high defense and staying out of line of sight by hiding behind their warjacks. Kreoss’ feat removes both of these barriers so the only thing keeping your opponent’s caster alive is their armor.
If your opponent’s caster is in Kreoss’ control range and your Revenger and Repenter are within 13” then you should probably try for an assassination. I usually drop my upkeeps and allocate one focus to the repenter. I then move my Revenger up to be within 8” of the enemy caster. I then activate Kreoss and make sure the enemy caster is in my control range and pop my feat. I then use my 6 focus to cast two damage boosted Immolations at the enemy caster through the Revenger. If they are still alive (which they probably will be) I activate my Repenter, move it within 8”and hit the caster with a damage boosted spray. If the enemy is still alive they will be on fire and you stand a pretty good chance of getting another pow 12 damage roll against their base armor (continuous effects do damage before focus is replenished so there is no overboosting against fire rolls). As long as the caster wasn’t benefiting from a lot of armor buffs those 4 pow 12s should be enough to seal the deal.
So there you have it, a crash course in the Protectorate Battlegroup. If you are getting frustrated with your performance and think that the Protectorate is maybe a little underpowered take heart. The Battlegroup boxes are meant to teach you the game and give you a taste of your faction. If you think your jacks are a little underwhelming compared to other factions, that’s because you don’t have access to the Choir or vassals yet. The Protectorate box can be a little tricky and lacking in that extra punch but once you get the hang of the game and start growing your army you’ll find that with the right support pieces in place that jack that failed to impress can become a real nightmare for your opponent. And remember most importantly, play as much as you can and have fun!