[Musings] Thyra & the Black Widows

Ok so not the Black Widow we'll be talking about today, but I don't see anyone complaining...
Ok so not the Black Widow we’ll be talking about today, but I don’t see anyone complaining…

Lately I was able to try my first theme force in Warmachine and as per usual for me, it’s probably not one of the easier ones to play.  I’m talking about Thyra, Flame of Sorrow and her Black Widows theme force for Protectorate of Menoth.  It’s basically all Daughters of the Flame.  Which is okay with me, as I love all the Daughters models.

Here’s what I ran with at 35 points.  The only proxy was the Sanctifier, as it hasn’t been released yet.

Faction: Thyra – Black Widows
Points: 35/35
Tiers: 4
Thyra, Flame of Sorrow (*6pts)
* Blood of Martyrs (9pts)
* Reckoner (8pts)
* Sanctifier (9pts)
Choir of Menoth (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Daughters of the Flame (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Daughters of the Flame (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Nicia, Tear of Vengeance (3pts)

So how is it?  What is it?  Read on, all will be explained! [warning: this is going to be a wall of text]

Thyra, Flame of Sorrow
Thyra, Flame of Sorrow

Well in case we need a refresher, I guess we should talk a bit about the main lady herself.  Thyra is an assassination geared warcaster as befitting a leader of the Daughters of the Flame and a duel blade wielding weapon master.  Her DEF is very high for even a warcaster, but in exchange her ARM is pretty low for one.  As for her other stats, she’s very fast and with a very good MAT (-1 compared to Vilmon).  She’s a tricky one that likes to be played a lot more forward than other warcasters in order to get the most use out of her (particularly Menite ones).

At FOC 6, she can be extremely focus starved at times when left to power her battlegroup by herself.  If she casts Carnage each turn (which she will most turns), she’s basically a FOC 3 caster, so she could use some support in that area.  Luckily, she’s a Menoth caster, so focus and warjack support is not something they are starving for.

Spell wise, she can buff her army’s melee attacks and she has some board control type spells, but no really DMG or warjack buffs to speak of, which is unfortunate.   Her feat is positioning based (granting basically a 2″ teleport at the start of a model’s activation) and I think requires a bit more finesse compared to some others.

Now to her theme force because that’s what this article is about.

Theme Force:

I hope you like them, because you'll need a lot of them.
I hope you like them, because you’ll need a lot of them.

Her theme list may be one of the most restrictive ones I’ve seen.  Here’s what you can take and then let’s break ’em down:

>> SPD 5+ Non-character Warjacks, Blood of Martyrs, Choir of Menoth, Daughters of the Flame, Flame Bringers, Nicia

Warjacks:

Basically you can take all of the Menite Light Warjacks.  The Devout can be good for shielding her, the Repenter is a great, cheap jack with good focus effiency (great for Thyra) and a good spray.  But it’s the Revenger that you’ll want to take out of the lot if you could have one.  Thyra’s board control/manipulation spells practically scream for an arc node so you can tag those key models

Out of the Heavies, it’s the second Menite chassis warjacks (Reckoner, Sactifier, Castigator) and her character warjack, Blood of Martys.  The Blood of Martys is an auto-incude as it’s needed for a tier,  but it’s awesome with Thyra anyway so why wouldn’t you take it with her.  A possible +4 to attack and damage rolls on a SPD 5, side-stepping, free strike immune heavy.  Yeah.

The Santifier gets a special mention since it could theoretically power itself, great for Thyra.  Run it behind a unit of Daughters and you can usually expect about 2 turns of souls turned focus for it, taking that load off of Thyra.  I don’t really need to say much about the Reckoner, I’m sure by now it’s pretty infamous out there.

Units:

I hope you like Daughters of the Flame, because you’ll need at least two units of them for the tier 2 bonus and you don’t have any other choices for offensive units at this time.  With Thyra, Daughters gain Vengeance (not great on a MAT 6 6 trooper unit, but I never down on anything that’s a free move and attack) and with Carnage, are now MAT 8 and shouldn’t need to CMA as much to hit, thus being able to spread more anatomically precise attacks around.

It’s awesome she can take the Choir of Menoth in her theme because they’re just great.  They are the jack support other factions wish they had.  They take her jacks and make them more accurate and hit harder (or immune to shooting or magic).  Then Thyra can go and make them even more accurate.  Blood of Martys could reach MAT 12 (+2 choir, +2 Hand of Vengeance, +2 Carnage) which is just all kinds of LOLWUT.

Currently there are no such things as Flame Bringers so sadly that isn’t an option.  You’ll have to make due with Daughters of the Flame as your only offensive unit.  Speculation is that they are going to be light cavalry, which would fit since this is a very fast army to begin with.  Maybe Daughters with guns on horses?  Although there are some that think they will be Idrian based light cavalry.

Solos:

Nicia.  That’s the only solo you can take here BUT:  Weapon master, reach, rapid strike, quick work, sprint, stealth, acrobatics. Yup, one of my favorite models rules-wise and look-wise.

Let’s talk tiers now.

Tier 1: Only includes those models >> Unlocks: FA:U Daughters.

Kinda necessary, otherwise this theme force wouldn’t be getting anywhere past 25 or 35 point games with just the usual FA:2 that Daughters have.

Tier 2: 2 units of Daughters >> Unlocks: Advance move for one warjack per unit of Daughters taken.

I’m a big fan of anything that gives warjacks that extra little bit of movement.  It’s almost as good as AD jacks.  Almost.

Tier 3: Includes Nicia >> Unlocks: Stealth for the first turn.

Another pretty good benefit here.  With the speed of this army (average SPD 7) and a lot of it getting AD or Advance Move, this could help with not getting mowed down before getting to do anything.

Tier 4: Includes Blood of Martys >> Unlocks:  Each warjack is allocated 1 focus first control phase.

This is a weird one for me.  Again, free focus is great focus, but this time it doesn’t seem to be really saving you anything with Thyra first turn as she doesn’t really have many upkeeps you’ll be throwing into play that would prevent you fro doing this in the first place.  Maybe the idea is to charge her ARM for the first turn?

Pros/Cons

Pros:  Extremely fast force, Acrobatics all around, very accurate, can take Choir, Anatomical Precision on a bulk of the army. High DEF all around.  Can have some great synergies between Daughters and Blood of Martys and Sanctifier warjacks.

Cons: Low ARM on bulk of force (including caster), focus starved caster.  Low number of unit choices.  Warjacks will have to deal with other warjacks as high ARM will be a problem (except on living models).  Undead, incorporeal (a Sanctifier can help this however), or constructs will also be an issue.

My Experience with the Black Widows:

You really want at least 3 units of the Daughters.  Going into the fight you are going to lose a couple to a few in each with the many ways of dealing with high DEF these days.  That’s okay though, because it pumped up my Blood of Martys and kept my Sanctifier fueled (I’ve seriously never given it any focus off of Thyra in any of the games I’ve used it). You also get Vengeance that will let you continue to pressure the field.  Which brings me to another point: Pressuring the field.  This is obviously not an army you play defensively.  It seems the only defensive with this army is more offense.

Now, here’s some quick math for you.  Warmachine is played on a 48″ X 48″ board, so let’s say you each side gets the normal 10″ deployment area.

  • On the first turn of the game, the Daughters can be 30″ (10″ deployment + 6″ AD + 14″ run) up the table, 32″ if you popped Thyra’s feat first thing.  With 32″ you are right at your opponent’s AD line!
  • Warjacks can be 25″ (10″deployment + 5″ advance move + 10″ run) or 27″ with feat, up the table.  That’s over half way! On turn 1!
  • Thyra would be 24″ (10″ deployment + 14″ run) or 26″ with feat added up the field.  Half way!  Maybe that’s why they give a focus to each jack at the beginning?  So Thyra can camp her 6 focus if you did that?

Overall I really enjoy playing this army, mostly because I love the models it uses so, so much, but also because it’s fast and brutal.  With SPD 7 acrobatics charging around all of the place, the field is my plaything!

I do want to get a third unit of Daughters (eventually) and hopefully the Flame Bringers, whenever they come, are priced like the Legion Raptors at 6 & 10 points, because that would easily take me to 50 points, which I think is becoming the norm in my meta these days.

As far as this army being competitive…I’m not sure.  It doesn’t seem like it, but then again, I’m not the best competitive player so I’ll leave others to decide that.  I am thinking about taking this army however to the Tier Tournament during the NOVA Open however, so we may find out!  If anything, I’m sure the other players won’t see it coming!

—————————————————–

I hope you enjoyed my first big theorymachine-ish post.  I admit I’m not great at communicating this stuff.  So if there are any recommendations or critiques you have to improve these in the future, please let me know!
Ok, just one more...
Ok, just one more…
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