‘Tis been over near a year since the first firewalkers guide hit, so I figured it was time for a revisit of what I’ve learned of the race. The Firewalkers, aka Empyrea, are a race decending, literally, from the sun of Esfah and delight in the game that is the war between Nature and Death. At first glance they are jacks of all trades. This is evident from each die other than magic units have at least one of each action type. This is however a deceptive placing of faces though as their Fire/Red racial primes the race for mass Melee combat. While I praise my Firewalker article on how well it describes the race and their main tactics I’ve learned much more about the game than when the article first came out. This is one of the reasons for the revisiting of this prominent race and also a time to rectify some of the previous tactics I suggest in the original version of the guide.
To begin it is difficult to compare the large heavy melee to the light melee. Both the Sentenel and Expeditioner have a 33% chance of saving against damage. Both of them have the same chance of contribution to Melee results. However what is different is the SAIs they have. Smite vs Counter. SAI results are always better than their normal variants, but this is an interesting competition. The Smite SAI forces your opponent to kill 4 health worth of units before they roll a die for defense. Useful if you are on the attack. However counter is a defensive SAI that does count toward melee results, but also saves and reflects damage back at the melee attack army. In a perfect world if you wanted to pursue this avenue of combat then you would want one of each. This is even before conversion is taken into account as conversion happens after all methods of math have applied other than multiplication.
Where conversion is concerned the Sentinel stands on top. He can convert 3 saves into melee results. These will contribute after any spells are considered and just give flat damage to the opposing army. This also has the cost of the army being in Red terrain and also the attacker, but if you are playing firewalkers you want that anyway.
From what I’ve seen in my play and testing with the Empyrea the missile units are surprisingly effective at giving results in both missile and Melee combat. They have the ability to convert shields to melee when attacking on Firey/red terrain, which gives them a 50% contribution rate. With seven firemasters at a terrain they can control the number of units at any terrain with in missile range.
Magic is a hot topic with me as far as Fire/Red Magic is concerned. The cantrip, Ash Storm, is deceivingly tricky to get a handle on the timing, which is something I learned the hard way. Much like Flashfire the spell is too slow to save the army if they are on the defensive of a melee or ranged strike. However it can hinder the army on their saves rolls, should a save roll be required, or any action further in that terrain during the next turn. On the attack Ash Storm may still be used as I explained in my previous Firewalkers guide, it will affect the rolls both armies results.
Another spell that slipped through the cracks is that of Dancing Lights. This is the equivalent of 6 saves from just 2 Ashbringers most of the time. This will allow you to not worry too much about a counter attack till the beginning our your next turn. With 4 ashbringers the attrition can really stack with 2 castings for a -12 penalty when they attempt to roll for Melee results.
Fiery weapon is no match for a well placed dancing lights when in melee. At ranged though, it can really put the pressure on the target army for save production. This spell is situational at best and you will usually cast dancing lights or Ash Storm more than Fiery weapons.
The thing to remember about hailstorm is that it can target reserve areas. The reserve army is an army and magic has the widest range without an 8th face in the game. If you have the cantrips and don’t know what to do with them, hit your opponents reserve. You’d be surprised how effective the tactic can be.
Wind walk should be used defensively to keep your terrain at a range your opponent isn’t suted for. Whether it’s melee or ranged Wind Walk will help get you there.
Mirage can be used in several ways. It doesn’t just work on your opponents units but also yours. With clever planning you can execute a “Mirage Step” and move an entire army at the end of your turn to harry another, and perhaps, more vulnerable, target.
I don’t use lighting strike often. It’s save intensive and I’ve have only about a 50/50 chance of it actually killing something. Id prefer to enhance my army’s chances of survival where it counts than kill a certain unit. On the other hand, when something needs to be dealt with there is no better spell. Use it wisely because it’s costly.
When choosing dice for your Force I suggest 12 health-worth of Magic units, Ashbringers if you have them for their magic support. The main reason you want to bring Ashbringers is the health to result ratios. Because they are 3 health dice they will be harder to deal with when a melee army gets close enough to attempt to deal with them. After that I suggest a couple monsters, Phoenix and Fireshadows come to mind for their saves and combat capability on the attack. Don’t neglect the other monsters, gorgons are a powerful force when on the maneuver rolls to race an opponent. Genies are magical toolboxes for your armies and firewalking can save the genie and one or 2 other units. For the basis of troops I suggest a combination of missile and heavy melee. Of course if you have a sentinel and infiltrator then use them. They make a great team. For small and medium dice though I suggest Firemasters and Firestarters. They will be rather slow on the maneuverability department but that can be fixed by the static 12+ magic results you attain from your mage army.
Dragon mounts and dragon scouts will work well for dragonkin choices for your firewalkers, they will add static saves to full army rolls, provided they don’t roll belly up (which can be flashfired out of if cast before the roll). This will also begin to whittle away at any melee forces that try to attack from a strategic position from a minor terrain placement. Build your defenses then strike hard and fast!
This army will benefit from items as well as Eldarim units in many ways. Want to specialize in missile combat? Add some Eyebiter arrows. Wish to have your Firemasters produce more consistently in the melee? Add in some Dawnblades. The coloration of the item matters little so long as it’s blue or red because you are using only one race. Also choose medium items due to their less random nature from the single point or 2 point items. You can bring 2 medium items for the cost of an artifact and they will serve well.
The Eldarim can add a few men when it comes to what you would like to specialize in as well as increase the survivablility in your mage units, put a shield barer unit and a melee unit to give a bit more save consistency and then follow up with the raising of a dragonkin army. It’s quite impressive and durable. Don’t forget that the Eldurim will also contribute to their coloration in magic on an ID result unless you bring some of their magic users, at which point they will produce their one color of magic.
Non-Mage firewalkers want to be where the fight is. Keep the heavy hitters moving from terrain to terrain to coax your opponent into a fight and keep them debuffed as much as possible with dancing lights. Use your Air Flight often to bypass the reserve area when you can, for a few moments you may want to break up your missile based army for your monsters and heavy hitters to go support another terrain, this is fine so long as you can back them up with magical support.