Long live the king!
In light of High Reclaimer find his way untouched through the newest errata, I decided it was time to start inflicting his madness on my local meta. I'd been holding off because I figured he was seeing a nerf, but apparently he's totally balanced so whatever!
In all seriousness, HR has a lot of counterplay; while he's a strong piece, he has some definitely rough matchups and counters, but he's definitely something most factions need to be wary of when coming up with list pairs. I threw together my list fairly quickly, mainly just running a defensive package with a lot of strong units that I like. Can't really go too wrong with that for him.
The High Reclaimer
Vassal of Menoth
min Choir of Menoth
High Paladin Dartan Vilmon
Idrians Skirmishers w/ Chieftain and Guide
Knights Exemplar w/Officer x2
Just a solid, hard hitting attrition brick. Primary change I would make is dropping one unit of Knights and probably Dartan in favor of Exemplar Vengers, which are absurd with the Reclaimer but unfortunately I don't yet own Vengers. Still, being "stuck" using Knights Exemplar is a pretty cool place to be.
My opponent was running Retribution today (he's got a few factions to choose from, but since I'm painting his Idrians, his Protectorate is useless to him. USELESS. Also we typically avoid the mirror match, but yeah.) He's practicing for an event I'll be running in January, so we brought a tournament pair, and between Thyron and Helynna he opted to drop the latter.
-Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker
Arcanist Mechanik x3
House Shyeel Magister x2
Mage Hunter Assassin
House Shyeel Artificer x2
House Shyeel Battle Mages
I think that was it. Hopefully. Most Helynna builds I'd played against were running double Sentinel nonsense, so more of a warjack brick should be interesting to play into, especially given the covering fire templates dropped by Manticores.
We played on a pretty vicious bunch of terrain, and rolled Extraction. He rolled a five on his start of the game roll and asked me which side of the table I'd like; I smugly rolled a six and told him I was going first. Of course, he then got to give me the nasty side of the terrain so... joke was on me I guess.
|Water, water, wall, forest, forest.... great. |
Glad I have *something* with Pathfinder.
I deployed the Reclaimer centrally and slightly to the right, basically sort of avoiding the water. Both 'jacks were set to head into the pool in the middle; with HR's extremely attrition-oriented style, the 'jacks wouldn't be hitting the fight for a long time anyway so... whatever. Knights took either side, support more or less centered, and the wracks positioned with HR's slightly right-oriented position in mind. Idrians were slightly to the left, mostly just to get around the objective.
My opponent basically bricked up in the center, Battle Mages behind a wall of Manticores and Griffons. Assassin set up over on my right, Chimera much more to the left. My prey choice was the Manticore on my left.
Protectorate Turn 1:
Well, time to start weaving through this bloody terrain. The Hierophant stepped up a bit and cast Harmonious Exaltation on the Reclaimer, who then put Hand of Fate on my Idrians before charging one of his Griffons, putting him up pretty close to the objective. My Idrians ran full out, taking up some space in the center of the table so I could decide what to do with them on the next turn. Both 'jacks also ran, the Reckoner getting a bit into the water, the Templar not even quite getting there. Choir sang Hymn of Shielding onto the 'jacks. In my experience, 'jack heavy Ret lists leave you basically never doing Passage since all their guns are magical anyway. Just have to keep those Battle Mages off my 'jacks and I should be fine.
My Knights all ran, the left side unit cramping up a bit in the space between the two pools. The right side ones were just behind the wall. Dartan Vilmon (who deployed on the right a bit) ran up to snuggle in with that unit. My Vassal ran up to snuggle with the Templar, and I passed the turn.
|Go! Kill! After you get through all this damn rough terrain!|
Retribution Turn 1:
Helynna's battlegroup can get *really* far up the table if he wants... we determine that's probably a bad idea, given how absurdly hard I hit. Luckily, barring me killing a bunch of my own stuff and feating, I've got fairly predictable threat ranges (part of why I want the Vengers in there, get that threat range muscle confusion going.) The Griffons all cruise up the table, staying a bit outside my threat ranges. His Assassin stays put essentially. His Chimera, of course apparitioning forward at the start of the turn, runs up onto the hill super close to my Idrians. The Artificers put up their bubbles, keeping most of the army close enough to gain the +2 DEF bonus against range.
Sylys gives Helynna Arcane Secrets. She moves up to cover her army and casts Obliteration into my Idrian Guide standing in the back of the unit. He opts not to boost, relying on Arcane Secrets, and proceeds to roll three 1's. This was the beginning of a long string of incredibly poor dice for both of us, I'm not sure I've ever seen more double or triple 1's in a single game. Anyway, it deviates and kills two Idrians, one Knight Exemplar, and puts 3 damage on the Guide. She casts Deceleration and Rhythm of War. The Manticores move up and drop covering fire templates in front of the Chimera so it doesn't get charged by a million Idrians, everything else runs and settles in around Helynna to prep for the next turn. Rhythm of War lets him do some minor repositioning of the 'jacks.
|The walls with the red marks are covering fire,|
we figured I wasn't going to land on them anyway so wasn't too obnoxious.
Protectorate Turn 2:
Well, time to position to eat it for a turn. His army threatens quite a bit further than mine, but my counter punch is going to be absurd. I'm fairly sure I can even hold off through his feat for an extra turn due to how extreme the terrain is for both of us.
I have a couple of souls from the Obliteration so... that's something. I upkeep Hand of Fate on the Idrians and hand a focus to my Reckoner, which was unnecessary but I forgot I had a Vassal. Not a huge deal though. The Choir sings Hymn of Battle onto my 'jacks so the Reckoner can scoot forward and boost an attack and damage roll into his Chimera, taking out the shields. The Templar runs up a bit, well dug in to the pool by my objective. My priority this turn is doing as much damage to the arc node as possible, since Hellyna loses a lot of personal effectiveness if she can't arc nukes out like that. The Idrians all start putting shots into the Chimera in two man CRAs. They didn't aim (in hindsight they should have) and instead swung out to the left in a bit of a flanking maneuver. Even with hand of fate a lot of the shots miss, but I do put another chunk of damage onto the light. Sadly the Arc Node remains intact, but at least I softened it up because I'll likely be having to finish it out on his feat turn. The Idrians mini feat, digging in to survive another turn.
The Knights on either side run. The right side Knights move two of their members up very aggressively, basically trying to bait attacks onto them to proc Battle Driven. If he doesn't kill them, they're in prime position to charge stuff and do some pretty alright damage, so win/win. The left side ones don't have that luxury, still wading through some water a bit... although luckily he did proc Battle Driven on them last turn, giving them a bit more freedom. My objective has a cloud out, and HR opts to walk over to the water instead of off to the right to keep him in good range of soul collection. With Harmonious Exaltation on him, he's able to get out three clouds, blocking LOS to most of my right side, and be camping two focus. The Devout snuggles up with him lovingly. Vilmon nestles in with the right side Knights, hoping to get a Righteous Vengeance from one of them dying, and uses Stone and Mortar Stance. Behind a wall with stance up, he's very difficult to handle.
|Walk this glorious tightrope.|
Retribution Turn 2:
Continuing a tightrope walk. You'll see very little difference between last turns picture and the next. The Chimera apparates back a bit. His Assassin runs to the flag, which I have failed to contest at all (I figured I would likely concede a couple control points this game.) Helynna gets Arcane Secrets from Sylys and attempts to cast Hand of Destruction onto my Idrians. He misses, attempts a second one and boosts. He misses again. Dice did strange things this game. He basically shrugs it off and keeps going.
Battle Mages move up on the left, shooting at some dug in Idrians and failing to hit anything, one hitting a Knight Exemplar and failing to kill him. His Manticores got some focus from the Arcanists and spun up the guns; one rolled two shots, the other merely one. They put some shots into my Knights Exemplar, killing one I believe. His Griffons all positioned around on the right defensively, relying on the feat and my largely poor threat ranges to stay alive. No knights on the right die, he uses Rhythm of War to reposition his 'jacks a little, and he ends his turn to score a point.
|This slow dance of death...|
Alright. I have to just hold on one more turn. Sweating a little positioning around this game, it's a bit of a game of just inching forward and using the terrain to what advantage I can while not letting it screw me. I got very little in the ways of souls that turn, I believe only two. I upkeep Hand of Fate and don't hand out any focus.
My Choir again sings Battle for my 'jacks. The Reckoner scoots up a bit and puts a shot into the Chimera, taking the shields back out again and doing a bit of extra damage. My Idrians scoot out further to the left and a 4-man CRA leaves the Chimera on 4 boxes, with only a cortex and an arc node. A couple more CRAs end with a dead Battle Mage and a dead Magister. Still no attacks into my Prey, but oh well. They then Reposition back towards my army; I have a bad habit of trying to spread out my units a lot, which is normally fine but HR really wants his army quite close and I need to remember that. It's really easy to flank Idrians out so far that he can't even feat more of them back, much less ever get souls from them.
This is really another turn of just positioning. My Knights on the right do a get a charge order, just so one can charge his Griffon up behind the wall and roll double 1's to hit. The rest stay back quite a bit and just position for another round of attacks, the Officer hiding behind the wall. Vilmon moves right up to the wall, staying within 5" of almost every member of the unit. High Reclaimer again gets Harmonious Exaltation, pulls focus from a Wrack, and drops three clouds down to block up LOS. My Templar scoots forward a little, Devout adjusts to stay B2B with the Reclaimer, and the Knights on the left move forward and spread out. The Officer settles in between my Templar and Reckoner, with a Knight just ahead of her. This is so in a moments notice I can have either 'jack kill her and use the feat to catapult the unit about a mile forward, but it's also a pretty safe spot in case I want her to still be alive.
I'm lying in wait, and next turn is when I have to pull the trigger. Better make it count.
|I made a melee attack this turn! Huzzah!|
Retribution Turn 3:
Well, his feat is gone, and his arc node is gone. He's got a scenario play going on over on the right, but it can't last really. Luckily he can finally start making attacks in earnest into my units.
Spells upkept, a few focus gets tossed around to the 'jacks. Helynna casts Hand of Destruction onto the Idrians, followed by an Obliteration which kills two. The Manticores and Battle Mages start putting shots into every Idrian and Knight in sight, killing most of my models over on the left side. His Chimera even gets in there, boosting with his derp arms to kill an Idrian. In the end, two Idrians are left alive and one of the Knights sticking out over there is dead. My two forward Knight son the right side are killed by Griffons, and the one behind the wall moves up to aggressively jam me, right in front of the Templar. His Assassin runs way into my back field, and two Griffons, the Magister, and the Artificer settle in around the flag to score another point. Lot of shots went out, but my units all have members left on the table.
|I seem to have a Griffon right in my face.|
Protectorate Turn 4:
Finally, I get to do stuff! I knew this was a patience game, but it's time to start making stuff happen. The Reclaimer is on 11 focus this turn, so I upkeep Hand of Fate pointlessly on my two Idrians. My Templar gets loaded up with focus to handle the Griffon in my face. Vilmon gets a Righteous Vengeance move, which he uses to walk over and plonk 8 damage into the jamming Griffon. My Templar and Reckoner get Hymn of Battle, allowing the Templar to easily remove the Griffon (I don't use Templars often and only realized when I was about to make attacks that he has Chain Weapon, ignoring the Griffon's shield. 3 focus was a bit overkill.)
Well, it's time to do the thing. High Reclaimer scoots up a bit and feats. I roll to get 7 models back, which is conveniently exactly the number of dead Knights Exemplar. I place a few over on the far right to go mess up the brick of models on the flag. I go to place the Knights on the left when I realize.... his caster is basically right in the middle of everything, and well within range of my Knights. He's also camping no focus. So, I drop four Knights in a line directly in front of her and cycle Hand of Fate to that unit. I camp six because... not sure what else to do with my focus anyway, clouds would just get in my way.
My Reckoner boosts a shot into his Chimera, finishing it out. My Knights on the right charge (I just want to see what they're capable of for the practice, so I don't go for the throat just yet.) Two of them kill one Griffon full to dead with mini feat, leaving the Officer with no target to attack. The Knight charging the other Griffon misses (like a 2, 2, 1 roll or something), and one Knight charged his Magister and kills him. Vilmon charges the Griffon I missed and like half kills it. What a beast.
Time to pull the final trigger. Four Knights under Hand of Fate and their minifeat charge Helynna. Two will be attacking over a wall, two will not. I opt to start with one of the ones attacking over the wall. He needs a 12 to hit, which is pretty easy when you get four dice dropping two lowest, and I roll 6,6,1,1 to hit her. That Knight then proceeds to do 17 damage in one swing, killing her in one shot.
Post Game Thoughts
So a lot of things about this game seem sort of awkward on the surface, but it was actually a ton of fun. We were both very away of how quickly that game would fall apart for either of us, but as long as I can keep at least one member of my units alive, he has to be very concerned. Overall I think this particular list build for Helynna has an extremely uphill fight into the Reclaimer, since all my job really is is to not die until I can pull the trigger and win. Both units of Knights at essentially full strength after the feat and under Battle Driven will kill his entire battlegroup instantly if he can't stop them. His Manticores likely should have been stuck to just dropping Covering Fire templates every turn to keep infantry away, but the Idrians will start to roll over the army if he doesn't get those attacks out.
High Reclaimer is a vicious creature if you aren't prepared for him. Typically you want him to try to get at least a bit of an alpha, lose a bunch of units, then counter punch again but even in this situation where I basically had to take it in the face for a few rounds, the threat of the feat was just too strong. I like this battlegroup package with him, with the Templar, Devout, and Dartan I don't feel like I'm getting shot to death any time soon, the Devout obviously keeps him very safe from spells, and then I just have my army in the way and clouds to prevent much in the way of a melee assassination. The biggest weak point of the list really is the Reclaimer but Protectorate has such a great suite of defensive models that are also great at doing work (the Devout, Templar, and Dartan are hardly just "support" pieces with how much output they can do).
Knights Exemplar are always a treat, too. The things I've had them do on the table is insane, and they impress me every single game I drop them in.
Great game, great opponent. As shall be my tradition, here's an overly filtered shot of one of my pieces for the game: the Reclaimer himself.
|He's so mysterious... and handsome...|