Well hello there! I’m Josh, the sometime editor here at PartyFoul, and I’m here with what I hope will become a new article series. As you can probably guess from the title of the series it’s going to be all about fixing some of the disregarded aspects of Warmachine and Hordes. I am by no means an expert, heck I wouldn’t even call myself all that much of a player. Rather I’m treating this series as something of a thought experiment. With the impending arrival of the Community Integrated Development (CID) from Privateer Press (PP) my hope is to bring some oversights to the attention of the community in hopes of seeing them rectified, or at least to get an explanation from PP about why things were done.

I don’t want to bore you with too much background, but as I’m not the most prevalent poster here at PartyFoul getting to know me might be helpful in understanding my mindset. I’ve played Warmachine and Hordes since Mk 1, and I’ve played just about every faction PP has produced. I play, or attempt to play in the Mississauga/Burlington (Southern Ontario) meta, and am currently on the Mercenary train that always seems to come around. I’m probably not a very good player compared to a lot of others, but I spend a fair bit of time thinking about the game, and I consume a fair bit of media focused on it. So, I certainly believe my opinions aren’t uninformed they might just lack the necessary play experience to be grounded. Again, this is all just a thought experiment.

Anyway, moving on from the boring stuff, let’s get into the meat of the article. This opening salvo of Tune Up is going to be focused on ‘Jack Marshals the somewhat lacklustre models that aren’t Warcasters but can control Warjacks (probably to the detriment of the Warjacks, spoilers). Well, what is a ‘jack marshal I hear you asking, it’s probably mostly Hordes players asking, because I mean they don’t get a lot of the toys that Warmachine players do.

Well, here’s what PP has to say about ‘jack marshals: “’Jack marshals are models with the ’Jack Marshal advantage. They are specialists who command their warjacks through a combination of gestures and commands shouted across the battlefield. Though not as efficient or as powerful as a warcaster’s, a ’jack marshal’s skills can guide a warjack to perform maneuvers it normally would not be able to manage on its own. ’Jack marshals can begin the game controlling warjacks. These warjacks are not part of any warcaster’s battlegroup. A ’jack marshal can control up to one Faction warjack at a time.” That’s the gist of it. They can control a warjack, it’s purchased during army building, and it’s not part of the warcaster’s battle group.

Currently in the game of Warmachine there are 20 models with the ‘jack marshal advantage. (They created an icon for limited to 20 models… more on this later.)

(They even made a pin of it… :-/)

Now, before I jump on PP and start complaining about this rule. There are some benefits for a warjack being controlled by a ‘jack marshal:

“Once during each of its activations while in its controller’s command range, a warjack controlled by a ’jack marshal can gain one of the following benefits:

Crush! – The warjack can make one additional melee attack during its activation this turn. Additionally, it gains +2 on all melee damage rolls during its activation this turn.

Hurry! – The warjack can run, charge, or make a power attack without spending focus during its activation this turn. Additionally, it gains +2 on charge attack rolls and slam attack rolls during its activation this turn.

Strike True! – The warjack gains +2 on all attack rolls during its activation this turn.

Take Aim! – The warjack must forfeit its Normal Movement to aim during its activation this turn. Additionally, it gains +2 on all ranged damage rolls during its activation this turn.

A warjack cannot gain one of these benefits while its cortex is crippled or its controlling ’ jack marshal is knocked down or stationary.”

These are the benefits, there are also some points about reactivating inert warjacks, but let’s be honest, most of the times that a warjack would become inert the game is over. So, we’re just going to discount that section of the ability for now. All in all, the four abilities are pretty cool. They add some additional functionality to the marshalled warjacks but are generally more limited than having access to focus.

But wait, what about “Drives” I hear some of you ‘jack marshal fans clamouring. Well, that’s what comes next. Some ‘jack marshals, but not all, have abilities called Drives. Drives function when a warjack controlled by a model with the ‘jack marshal advantage is in that model’s Command Range.

Besides the bonuses from the ‘jack marshal advantage, and the Drives, there are some other pseudo-jack related abilities, and while these abilities are not limited to models with ‘jack marshal, they do appear on ‘jack marshals. These rules include: Iron Sentinel, Flank, Tune Up, and certain Magic Abilities, such as Empower.

Okay, let’s dig a little deeper and sort through the models currently with the ‘jack marshal rule (advantage, PP has some weird terminology by the way, just saying). So, as I mentioned above there are currently 19 models with ‘jack marshal. Those are broken down by faction as such: Cygnar [7], Khador [2], PoM [2], Cryx [1], Retribution [2], Mercenaries [6]. Obviously Cygnar being the favourite faction means they end up with the most, but that’s fine they are supposed to be advanced warjack faction, right?

Discounting the disparity (PP obviously doesn’t want everyone to be the same) the real question is which of the models with ‘jack marshal see play, and of those which of them end up being given a warjack?

I’m looking just at the Ontario Team Championship (OTC), hosted by PartyFoul’s own Scott, as the majority of the lists have been published and it gives a reasonable sample size I feel for what I am trying to illustrate.

From a little bit of analysis there is a distribution of the models throughout the lists, with Arlan Strangeways [21], The House Shyeel Artificer [11], and Man-O-War Kovnik [10] all in double digits throughout the lists. However, none of the models with ‘jack marshal are controlling any warjacks.

I think the community might feel there is something wrong with ‘jack marshal. Should we investigate? I think we should!

The principle drawback for jack marshals is the loss of Power Up! from the warjack no longer being a part of the warcaster’s battlegroup. While the jacks being controlled by jack marshals gain the benefits of the jack marshal abilities, and any Drives those models might have a fair amount of work is often required to bring the jack up snuff when compared to the same chassis included in a battlegroup. That’s not to say there aren’t some advantages. Warjacks which have focus-efficient abilities, or abilities that navigate around needing focus make the jack marshal package a little more appealing. Things like the Sanctifier’s Soul Collection, or free charges from the Mangler, or Seether. These are all advantages that when combined with the jack marshal benefits. Josh Maxson from the Muse on Minis maincast talked about a Mangler run by Rutger Shaw in episode #305 and on the surface the package sounds very appealing. Free charges, a thresher at MAT 8 (thanks to Strike True!) jack with a POW 18 weapon is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s even got Shield Guard just in case you need an extra shield guard.

So, perhaps we look at the current bright side of the jack marshal game before proposing some ideas on how to make jack marshals feel a little more inclusive. What I’m going to do is make a package from each of the factions and hopefully get people chiming in about them.

Cygnar: This is the easy one. Cygnar has access to not only some of the best warjacks in the game but with models like Strangeways they can still be relatively focus-efficient. For Cygnar the most obvious package to start with is the Stormblade Captain w/ a Stormclad. Pretty simple, right? The Stormclad gets a free focus from Accumulator, as well as the jack marshal benefit. Add in Haley 2 for Temporal Acceleration, Strangeways for Empower and you’ve got a pretty lethal jack that kill ‘casters if needed.

(Just add Stormclad, and season with a little Haley 2 to taste. Apply to caster for Assassination victory.)

Menoth: For Menoth things get a little trickier. Their two options aren’t great, the Reclaimer Gatekeeper really doesn’t do anything for his warjack so we’ll opt for the Exemplar Bastion Seneschal… because you know he’s a tournament mainstay right? There are a couple of routes to go with the Seneschal for choice of warjack. The package I’ve focused on is the Sanctifier, another tournament mainstay. Now, now, hear me out. The Drive from the Seneschal makes the Sanctifier immune to enemy spells, and it does not suffer the effects of crippled systems… So, it gets a free Choir pray AND half of the Fail Safe spell… for just being within 10” of the Seneschal… What? Couple that with Enliven, maybe some Empowers, and the fact that he collects Souls. He could potentially wade into combat with 3 Focus, +2 Damage from Battle (POW 18/16), and Crush! (POW 20/18), ain’t all that bad. Oh, and it has a Magic Weapon, and causes models within 10” to lose Incorporeal for when that’s relevant. 😉

(OH THE MAGNIFICENCE!)

Khador: When I started this article Khador only had one jack marshal, the Man-O-War Kovnik, and he has Drive: Assault, which with something like a Grolar is just too cute… however, it’s not as great because the +2 to attack rolls only applies to Charge Attacks, and he only gets one attack with his awesome gun on the charge. So, we opt out to the Greylord Forge Seer. This guy on the other hand seems like a prime candidate for having a jack marshal. He has Empower as an ability and his Drive gives his warjack Magical Weapons and Blessed… Seems pretty good. The package I would opt for is something simple… Black Ivan (or Behemoth if you’re Scott). BI’s got a great gun which benefits from Strike True! (RAT 7), Take Aim! (POW 9 Blast Damage Blessed/Magical damage) and it has the added benefit of being able to shoot in Combat with Point-Blank. Now, it’s a fairly expensive package (23 points).

(… And my axe…)

Cryx: I recently made the switch to Cryx and have been toying around with this little package. With access to Empower from the Warwitch Sirens and access to a fairly gruesome melee warjack you end up with an Iron Lich Overseer running a Seether, which can potentially max out with 2 Focus, free charges, an effective MAT 10, or POW 19/19/14 with Dark Shroud if you really need to hit something heavy. The issue is that the majority of the beneficial warjack upkeeps require the model to be in the warcasters battlegroup. Still, it’s a good package if someone expensive, 26 points for the entirety of it.

(Quintessons anyone?)

Retribution: Retribution has a pretty awesome little package that plays well into the House Shyeel theme force. A House Shyeel Artificer running a Hydra. With some many Arcanists running around, and the potential to collect Focus from stray Shield Guard saves it isn’t unreasonable to expect the Hydra to putting some work in at range with a potential RNG 15 POW 17 shot that can still boost when necesasry. Not bad at all.

(Not quite sure why they call him Mega Mittens… ;-] )

Mercenaries: The last of our factions with jack marshals. I’ve decided to veer away from the package suggested by Josh Maxson, but only in choice of warcaster. I think Rutger Shaw running a Mangler with Magnus 1 is a pretty stellar choice. For the invest of 1 Focus a turn (post casting Iron Aggression), you have a free charging, boosted melee attacks monster that can put in a lot of work if you need it to. Oh, and it’s still a shield guard. The other option, which is might be slightly cuter is Raluk Moorclaw running a Rover. With Iron Aggression, Raluk’s Drive: Assault, and Crush! You end up with the Rover charging for free with 1 assault shot (I don’t believe you get to make two, as the Rover has Point-Blank), but if he did you would end up with 1 Assault Shot (or 1 Point-Blank Shot at POW 16), 2 Battle Axe attacks (POW 19), and one Shield attack (POW 15)… all of those fully-boosted… Oh, and it just happens to be an ARM 20 Shield Guard as well with a RNG 10 gun.

(I honestly just love this model…)

So, PFers, what does everyone think? I know it’s a pretty long-winded article, but I wanted to try and get people thinking more about jack marshals. If I were given the chance to add something to CID, I would make this suggestion.

I believe that a jack marshal should be able to apply their Drives, and 1 of the jack marshal benefits to a friendly Faction non-colossal Warjack in its Command Range.

Does that sound reasonable? Or would it be too much?

Let me know what you think.

So long Reluctant Readers!

Josh