Hey Brushheads…Here is something I wrote for http://www.losthemisphere.com.  Cross posted by permission of the great and powerful Gdaybloke… Hope you enjoy…

From Good to Great

By MenothJohn

Its been a really long time since I have sat down at a laptop to pen something for Lost Hemisphere. Back in the day, before the podcast, I was a simple blogger going by the name of CerealJohn when Chris asked me to come write for him. It lasted a while but during that time, a friendship grew, and I am honored to be penning my thoughts on the new Protectorate themes. I’m not a competitive player but I am opinionated and I suppose that makes me qualified to rant.

Initial Thoughts on the Mark 3 Version of Themes…

I will be blunt and up front…I am honestly mystified by what Privateer is doing with these themes. Mark 3, at least in part, came about because list diversity had become a thing of the past. We all remember how some factions had become nothing but two or three lists. The theme lists of certain factions and casters had become recognized by some as optimal. That perception led to sterility at the game store. Lists like Vayl2, or Elemental Evolution came to signify entire factions. Privateer recognized that, and together with mounting pressure from other games and the resurgence of Games Workshop, moved Mk 3 forward.

As I look at the theme lists we know about today…I’m not sure how you go to the table without one. Right now, we know of two themes for Trolls and two for Protectorate. I will get to my thoughts on the Protectorate themes shortly, but my list dojo has become exercises in theme list development. I’m not sure that’s what they intended.

Theme the First…The Creator’s Might

This theme is all about Jacks and support for Jacks. Infantry choices are very restrictive in this list. Choir, Rhoven & Honor Guard, Covenant, Vassal solos / units, wracks, and the Hierophant all point toward a build that is centered on heavy metal (or resin or plastic or whatever that soft stuff is that isn’t hard plastic). The theme gives you everything you want to support jacks. Need to ignore stealth… Rhoven. Don’t want to fall down… looking at you, Book. Need fixing or focus… Vassals… plus… the ever useful Choir. In this theme you will be taking Jacks all day because that is what it allows you to do.

The benefits are quite amazing. For every 25 pts of Jacks or battle engines…you can add 3 wracks or a solo for free. You also get Reposition [3”] on Choir and solos. As if that wasn’t enough…you get your upkeeps for free on the first turn. These are crazy good.

This theme is a huge win for the head kicky monk, Amon ad Raza. The Mk3 version of Amon BEFORE the theme was among the best in the faction…this theme turns him up to 11. When Mad Dog hate was at its best, I decided to experiment with a version of Mad Dogs for Amon. The result was a battle group with two Vanquishers, a Templar, a Vigilant, and four Dervish. It had a couple of small Choir along with two vassals. But now, in theme, you get so much more! For free you get The Book, three Wracks, and those two vassals. The list as I play it now plays 10 pts over 75 if you didn’t have the discount.

The list presents a classic wound spam while presenting your opponent with difficult choices. Against gun lines, you can sing for no-shooty and unless it’s Retribution, chances are they don’t have enough magic guns to hurt you significantly. The list is crazy fast and doesn’t care a thing about rough terrain. The Jacks can’t be knocked down because of a book that moves 8” per turn! (Also getting that anti-magic bubble up the table is reasonably trivial now). Oh by the way…all those Jacks have Parry thanks to Amon’s field marshal. Here is the list…

Vanquisher x2
Dervish x4
Vassal x2
Choir(4) x 3

Simple and effective and Amon is a threat from 13” away…with Trip as a special attack. The time of the kicky monk has arrived.

Burn Baby, Burn…

The second theme list focuses on Flameguard… this? This is my shocked face. 0_0

In this one, Flameguard model / units, Choir, Vassals, Reclaimers, and Wracks are your non-Jack choices. Seems to be restrictive until you realize what a diverse group the Flameguard bring to the table. Flameguard include: Cleansers, Daughters, Flame Bringers, and good old TFG. Now the reward is for bringing infantry. For every 20 pts of Flameguard you get a command attachment (UA) or a small based solo for free.

You know…like Pyrrhus…or a Reclaimer….or Nicia…those are EACH 5 pt solos….

And for your trouble your Jacks get girded so no blast damage for those daughters…and one of those units of Daughters (you do own two units right? Better get another if you don’t!) gets to Ambush. Jebus Crispy Bacon. Spd 7 acrobats coming in from the backfield? The stuff of nightmares

So for me, Thyra really takes advantage of this theme. Thyra wants an army that can magnify her feat and spells… that was flipping profound. I would assume you could say that about most casters… but Thyra cranks it up. What’s the worst part about Daughters? Lots of times you have to CMA to get them to hit. Not any more, due to Carnage. What about those Flame Bringers…PS 9 weapon master too weak? How about PS 11 with Silence of Death or Stealth with Occultation?

When you take this theme and add in all the pieces, you end up with a FAST list with a lot of attacks. You can cover a ton of space on the table allowing you to focus on split zone scenarios without giving away a flank. And when the battle gets critical…you can bring in a fresh set of Daughters to attack from the rear making them effective MAT 8.

My current build plays 13 pts over, and here it is…

Dervish x2
Vassal x 2Z
Pyrrhus (free)
Flame Bringers (5)
Daughters x2
Choir (4)
Temple Flameguard (10) + UA (free)
Flameguard Cleansers (10) + UA (free)

Its fast and has a ton of attacks…Lots of built in stealth to boot.

Final thoughts on Protectorate Themes

I love the Protectorate themes for what they do for me. I hate the Protectorate themes for how they make my opponent feel. That being said, given the advent of the Khador Rocketeer Spam that we ARE going to see, it’s an exercise in mutually assured destruction. I fear that the only path many of us will have is to play in theme lest we end up playing 10-13 pts down with extra abilities that super charge already overpointed lists.

I trust in Pagani… and I trust that if there is someone watching for our best interests, it’s Will. I am genuinely worried about the path forward, but one thing is certain…

Theme lists won’t change how I paint my models…so at least I have that. J