Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Great Jack Marshal Debate

JACK Marshall, not Sarah Marshall!
I got into Warmachine with my awesome Khador Battlegroup (classic, not plastic) and playing it was a blast. I quickly got it painted and the feeling of coming back into the tabletop wargame scene is absolutely exhilarating. After a couple games under my belt, my mentor (Wayfarer of Wolf’s Games Shop) then mentioned that it is about time I graduated to a 15pt game. The best part about it all was that I got into the game when Prime Mk.II was just out. Everyone in the gaming group was still in its “learning stages”. How awesome it was to learn a game with other peers who are all at the developing stage!

My first solo bought to expand my battlegroup was a Koldun Lord. The powerboost ability is nice, but what is this ability on its card called "Jack Marshal"? After a brief rundown on the rules and a couple of games jack marshalling my destroyer comes one of the longest-standing debates in Warmachine. To Jack Marshall or Not To Jack Marshall?

Jack Marshall allows a warjack to run, charge, make an additional attack, gain one boosted attack or boosted damage as long as the warjack is within the Jack Marshal’s command range. This implies that you can technically run more warjacks in your army without burdening your warcaster's focus points to make the warjack effective. Your warjack can also move freely and not be bounded by your warcaster’s control area. Besides that, there are a few Jack Marshalls that gives different benefits to the Jack Marshalled warjack. Some of these benefits can potentially turn the tides of the battle. Best of all, a marshalled warjack does not suffer the effects of Disruption! Cortex busted? SO WHAT!

There are a few disadvantages to Jack Marshalling though. The jack marshalled warjack is not considered in your warcaster’s battlegroup. This means focus allocation to the warjack is not allowed (you can only allocate focus to warjacks in your battlegroup). Some of the best spells in the game only affects your warcaster’s battlegroup. Since the marshalled warjack isn’t in the warcaster’s battlegroup, the warjack cannot benefit from these spells. Also, if the Jack Marshall dies, the warjack in particular becomes autonomous. To make it “effective’ again, your warcaster needs to bring it into his/her battlegroup. Finally, your marshalled warjack cannot shake knockdown/stationary effects.

When deciding to Jack Marshall or not, you have to ask yourself whether does the benefits outweigh the disadvantages at hand when marshalling a warjack.

Let’s take a look at models with the Jack Marshall ability in the game. Models with * grant special abilities (listed in the brackets) to the jack they are marshalling. Models with # indicates having the Power Booster ability.

Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer *[Rune Shot]
Arlan Strangewayes #
Field Mechaniks
Stormblade Officer
Sword Knights Officer *[Drive: Pronto]
Trencher Officer
Alain Runewood

Battle Mechaniks
Koldun Lord #
Man-o-War Kovnik *[Drive: Boosted Attack]


Iron Lich Overseer *[Cloak of Darkness, Soul Matrix]

Dawnguard Invictors
Dawnguard Sentinels *[Drive: Pronto]
Dawnguard Scyir *[Drive: Reroll]

Dirty Meg *[Drive: Off Road]
Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps
Sam MacHorne *[Drive: Pronto]
Thor Steinhammer *[Drive: Pronto]
Rutger Shaw *[Drive: Reroll]

Some of the abilities granted to the warjack from being marshalled is amazing. A warjack with rune shot should pretty much be modelled wearing an arcane tempest gun mage’s hat. Pronto gives that warjack an extra distance to get into combat or simply some repositioning for that open charge lane. Cloak of Darkness makes a warjack becomes annoyingly stealthed. Power Booster pretty much says your marshalled warjack is granted 2 focus instead of one. This is quite useful to average-stat focus factions with expensive spells (i.e. Khador)

I would also like to point out that Power Booster is such a strong ability. It basically says you can jack marshall a warjack without actually jack marshalling it. I believe Power Booster is one of the strongest and underrated ability in the game. It deserves another column for further elaboration on it.

Lazy lancer prefers getting marshalled. (image from PP Forums)

Now comes the important question. Are those stated benefits worth the disadvantages that comes with marshalling a warjack? Keep in mind that unless you are running a gun-line, most Jack Marshalls will die in the heat of the battle. An autonomous warjack simply isn’t fun to play with. Due to this, it is likely that your marshalled warjack will be nearby your warcaster (should your jack marshall die, your warcaster can still bring the autonomous warjack into his/her battlegroup). A marshalled warjack also cannot benefit from battlegroup-based spells/feat. Imagine a Juggernaut not benefitting from Karchev’s Unearthly Rage or a Defender not benefitting from Kara Sloan’s feat, Firing Squad. Not pretty! In fact, some if not most, Jack Marshalls are much better on their own. Without the need to "babysit" a warjack, they can roam freely without worrying about the setbacks should their demise occur.

Due to some of the disadvantages stated above, it is wise to note that if you decide to marshall a warjack, the warjack’s role and its play style is different from a warjack in a battlegroup. Unsurprisngly, that statement isn’t as easy to implement as it sounds. I have seen some marshalled warjack working wonders, even when it is marshalled by some of the worst jack marshalls in the game. Think differently and out of the box. You will be rewarded!

Would you consider Jack Marshalling a warjack in your army? Why?



    The perks of Khadoran marshalling.

  2. I jack marshal, but only if the marshal has some sort of ability and generally only shooting jacks. ATGM, Rutger, Devil Dogs, Sword Knights all get jacks from time to time. I just doesn't really seem worth it to marshal to anything else. Being KD doesn't happen that much, but a melee jack that gets KD is worthless, a shooting jack can still shoot after it gets up.

  3. Menoth does not marshall..