I picked up Drake MacBain the week after his release date. After reviewing his stat cards, I can attest that he filled with awesome. His stats are average looking for a warcaster, but he shines with added abilities such as Tough, Grievous Wounds, Reach, his ARM boost while he is Engaging enemies, and Gang Fighter.
His spell list is about half jack boosting. Energizer will get him and his Nomads or Manglers into combat quickly or set up that charge or slam. Jackhammer allows him to have high power jack beat down opponents out of their normal activation. Finally, Failsafe will keep that key jack breathing down your opponent’s neck. The ability to ignore disabled systems is huge in MKII.
The other spells are built for troop support. Countermeasures seems especially geared toward Croe’s Cutthroats. It should help them not worry about ranged attacks and focus on either beast assassination or setting up for that all important caster kill. Rift is a board control spell that punishes. It does damage and leaves a 4″ AoE of rough terrain in its wake. Finally, Fortune is filled with making the mediocre awesome. Rerolling failed attack rolls will help Steelhead Halberdier and Riflemen units stand and deliver. Undoubtedly Alexia, Blythe & Bull, or even Orin Midwinter to more reliably take out models to clear the way for more hard hitting troops and jacks.
I discussed a pirate-based list on the Iron Agenda (episode 94) but didn’t really dig too deeply into his themed force. His Themed Force is a who’s who of the game. He has access to a ton of great characters from the IK world. Lets have a look at his Themed Force:
Soldiers of Fortune, MacBain’s Themed Force grants him access to non-character Mercenary warjacks, Steelhead units of all kinds, Alexia and her Risen, Sam MacHorne, Croe’s band of unfriendly ne’erdowells, and Dannon Blythe & Bull. Additionally, Alten Ashley, Goman, Kell Bailoch, Orin Midwinter, Rhupernt, Rutger Shaw & his Frenchy little tramp, Stannis Brocker, and Thor. That’s a lot of goodness! The only thing that I think fits here that isn’t listed is Boomhowler. Gregor has a great deal of potential in a MacBain list and him missing from the Themed Force is almost painful.
Just by sticking with this selective group of cutthroats and bastards, you can deduct a point from any of the Character units. The discount make Alexia especially attractive. Blythe & Bull are lots more likely to join a force at 3 points.