"Empty your mind...Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle, you put water into a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." - Bruce Lee
My wife and I are big fans of celebrity chef Alton Brown. In his books and TV shows, he hates using what he calls "unitaskers," that is kitchen utensils that serve a single purpose. These are specialized kitchen implements that can only be used one way and are really a waste of space and money. He advocates buying (or sometimes making) multipurpose utensils that can be used for the specialized purpose you need at the time, but can also be used for other purposes later.
The Artificer Tactica by ucfan34 got me thinking. What if we applied the same idea to Warmachine? The Artificer is definitely multipurpose. In fact, it becomes pretty obvious that most of our models could be considered multipurpose. We can flow, like water...
So which of our models are the most flexible, and how do they benefit us? (I?ve included a couple of our Merc options.)
Strong Multipurpose: those models that do multiple things and do them well
Artificer ? Obviously, as he was the inspiration for this post.
Most of our Myrmidons ? Manticore, Phoenix, Aspis, Discordia, Banshee, and Hypnos are all very flexible and adaptable. You will rarely have a turn where they can?t meaningfully contribute.
Invictors ? Very strong shooting mixed with good melee on their own. Their melee goes from good to great with Flank.
Halberdiers ? One of the best tarpits in the game, they can tie up the midfield and contest control points, or provide a screening defensive line. Their strong charge can also be used offensively, especially with the UA's mini-feat.
Stormfalls ? Their different shot types let them do more than "just shoot." They can clear swathes of infantry (even shield walls) or pound a single heavy target. They are also more mobile than other artillery, both in faction and out.
Magister ? He can push stuff around at range, he can push stuff around in melee, he can knock stuff down in melee (or at range on a crit), and he can let other models move out of activation. One of our best solos.
Eiryss (both versions) ? She does a lot. I don?t feel like listing everything she does.
Nyss Hunters ? They?re mostly a shooting unit, but with Weapon Master they can do good damage in melee, too. With their high DEF, they make a good tarpit against anything that can?t boost to hit.
Weak Multipurpose: those models that do one thing very well but can also be used for other things
Sentinels ? Their strongest use is crushing high ARM models (?jacks, ?beasts, heavy infantry). Vengeance lets them tarpit or contest control points, because if the enemy doesn?t kill them all at once they?ll regret it.
Destor Thane ? He makes a great skirmisher with ride-by-attack and multi-shot, but also does very well in melee. He has a powerful lance charge (plus Impact attacks) and with Unyielding can also tie up low P+S infantry.
Skeryth Issyen ? Though he lacks a ranged attack, he can still be flexible. Like the Destor Thane he has a very strong charge and can tie up infantry. He's good at wrecking medium ARM targets like light 'jacks and can finish off a damaged heavy. His large base and the fact he can't die to one single attack (thanks to being a dragoon) makes him good at screening smaller models.
MHSF ? You take them for the ability to shoot through things. But when push comes to shove they can still do well in melee with CMA and high DEF. When charging a ?jack, they can put down pretty good damage.
Griffon, Daemon, Sphinx ? They?re not as flexible as some of our other myrmidons, but still pretty adaptable and definitely worth taking.
Chimera, Gorgon ? These two were originally ranked as unitaskers, but with two Open Fists and Combo Strike they can do more than just arc spells or lock stuff in melee.
HSBM ? They can push stuff around at range, push stuff around in melee, and knock down on a crit, but not as flexible or useful as the Magister.
Mage Hunter Assassin ? You take this little girl for Decapitation and the chance to do insanely high damage (dice gods willing). You keep her for her psychological effect on the opponent and that she can basically run-to-engage and lock stuff down (no one dares take a free strike from her). She also complements a shooting army, since she can put some damage on a big target then let the shooters finish it off without the target-in-melee penalty.
Narn ? With Acrobatics and two Weapon Master swords, he mainly does one thing: kill support solos hiding in the back lines. He can also put some damage on a warcaster, or finish off an injured one, but that?s less common. While he is VERY GOOD at that job, his other abilities also give him some flexibility. His crossbow lets him still contribute on turns where he doesn't have a good charge target, and Sprint lets him pull various shenanigans.
Arcanist ? Let?s face it, he only does one thing: he makes our ?dons better. But the myriad of ways he can accomplish that task make him far more flexible. Compare him to the mechanics in other factions, who are usually unitaskers.
Aiyanna & Holt ? You take them for Kiss of Lyliss, but Touch of Lurynsar and Holt?s handcannons will usually find a use.
AFG ? It only does one thing: shoot. However, its different shot types make it more adaptable so it should always find a way to contribute. Its biggest draw-back is its lack of mobility.
Sylys ? By himself he doesn?t do anything, but he?s very good at making our Warcasters better. He?s almost a unitasker in the sense that he?ll be doing the same thing turn-after-turn, but instead of him being flexible he makes our Warcasters more adaptable.
Confused Multipurpose: those models that can do multiple things, but might not do them well
Destors ? They look like they should be skirmishers, but you can?t use double-shot and ride-by-attack at the same time. You could charge them in, but even with Unyielding they usually die quickly.
Scyir ? His Order of Activation issues are his biggest weakness. His Drive is good so you want to use him to Marshal, but it?s hard to use Flank and his marshal ability unless you have other myrmidons around for him to Flank with.
Unitaskers: those models that really only do one thing, even if they do it well
Riflemen ? They?re just a plain, boring shooting unit and get overshadowed by our other shooting units that can do more.
Hydra ? The poor Hydra is our least-regarded myrmidon. It has a big gun but sadly doesn?t do much else. It might be good in melee if its Chain Attack hit more reliably, despite its low P+S.
Ghost Sniper ? A fairly one-dimensional shooting model. Singly they take out troopers okay and can cripple systems on a damaged ?jack. In pairs they easily kill 5 point models. But over-all, they?re pretty inflexible and don't contribute a lot.
Heavy Rifle Team ?With low POW and armor piercing, they are only good against big targets, and yet most of the time they don?t do enough damage against said targets to be worth taking. The fact that they can?t move and shoot makes them very inflexible (a problem with all Light Artillery units).
So one thing I immediately noticed here is that the models under Confused Multipurpose and Unitaskers seem like they are used on the table less than the more adaptable models. (*I am basing this observation on what I have seen players at my FLGS take, what I see on the list-building board here, and what I prefer to take myself.) So what does that mean for us? If we take the multipurpose models because they?re better than the Unitaskers, are they better BECAUSE of that flexibility, or are they better REGARDLESS of that flexibility?
We can ask the same question in regards to other factions. Everyone here brags about how good our units and solos are. Are they good because of that flexibility, or are they just plain good regardless of their flexibility? I don?t have much experience with anyone other than Cygnar, but it appears that most factions are less flexible than Retribution. They have more Unitaskers and fewer Multipurpose models. These other factions consider Nyss Hunters one of the best units in the game. Is it because the Nyss are so flexible?
So it seems that our adaptability as a faction is really a great strength. What can we do to make the most of this flexibility?
I appreciate the feedback so far. Are there any of the above models where you disagree with where I've ranked them? Are there some multipurpose models that you believe are less flexible than I rated them, and conversely are there any that I've marked unitaskers that you think can do more?
And above all, what can we do as a faction to make the most of our flexibility? What does it mean, in terms of the table top game, to "Be water?"