Every time I say “I’ve found my favorite front liner” [and it is my favored role] in Paladins, they surprise me, and come up with something I love even more. That’s not hyperbole, that’s fact. Ash, the War Machine is the current Front Liner for Paladins, and she’s an absolute beast. She’s clad in armor, has a cool flag attached, ala a Samurai, and she’s mean. She carries a heavy sort of cannon weapon, she has tons of crowd control, a mobile shield, and an ultimate that is reminiscent of Bellona except she becomes goddamn invincible! She reminds me of a more powerful, more aggressive Bellona. She even has survivability and defense that Bellona might lack. This is normally where I also have some kind of lore or backstory for them, but alas, that’s not in yet. I could always write them for you guys … Just some food for thought! Unlike Inara, that I thought was pretty weak or tame when she came out, Ash is the polar opposite. She’s delightfully strong. She has synergy with a lot of characters and can be used in several comps. Ash brings a lot to the table, and I’m very glad she was released. She’s just what I wanted: A bully.
- That’s Amore: Well, that’s Knockups. She has a knock-up, a knock-back, a potential stun [in the legendary card], she’s buff. Pair her with other CC heavy/shield heavy characters. Did you knock them up and they’re getting away? Makoa hook them back in! Pair Seris’ ult with hers [Legendary stun card again] to stun their whole team, which leads me to …
- SET PHASERS TO “WOMBO”: Oh my lord, where do I even begin? Stun them into place and have Torvald ult them into oblivion. Or Viktor using his POTG button, etc. End of the day, she can do ridiculous things, it’s all about that synergy. Thank you, for keeping this in mind.
- Engage/Disengage: She has a pretty decent engage/escape in her Shoulder Bash, except for the windup [see below]. It has a knockback to push that rude Maeve off the map, it can get you out of a pretty bad situation, and you can use a Legendary Card to move it even farther. It’s not perfect though …
- The Wind-Up: Speaking of Shoulder Bash, it has a decent wind-up/charge, and you don’t get too much control over moving left and right. Not to mention, once you’ve started, you go the whole distance, unless something stops you. That means you can dash right off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote.
- Dooooooodge: She has a shield that’s mobile, which is great because you can use it to walk forward or dash forward, applying pressure while still defending yourself. However, you can’t move it around like Nando or Makoa, so all a mobile team has to do… Is list lazily to the left or right.
- Flag on the Play: Ash’s ult is phenomenal. She does a little leap and lands. The area around her she’s invulnerable in for that space for 8 seconds. However, it feels pretty hard to gauge where she goes and it doesn’t appear to go very far. I feel like if it had a bit more range it might be far more useful. Conversely, it might be far too strong if she can just leap anywhere she likes.
Ash’s Legendaries are [again] pretty damn good. Personally, I’m torn between Battering Ram [CC Immune/90% DR while channeling Shoulder Bash] as a means of escape/engaging safely, and Fortress Breaker [Siege Shield moves 80% slower and has 3000 more health] for the sake of sieging. You can move in nice and slow behind it, firing safely for a lot longer than normally you would. I’m not so great at using the third one, so I’m not so sure I’ll use it. I tend to use the ult to keep people from engaging than simply jumping on their team, but you absolutely can use it in that particular manner. So I’ve really been thinking about what I want in her cards. I’ve become more and more of a fan Battering Ram as my go-to Legendary, cards that sync well with it are Vanguard [Damage Reduction for 2 seconds after Shoulder Bash] and Gatecrasher [Reduce the cooldown of Shoulderbash]. You want that CC immunity and DR as often as you can possibly get it, and shaving 4 seconds off of the top is very nice. I have a few builds I’ve been looking at though, which I’ll drop below:
- Fervor [I], War Machine [I], Gate Crasher [IV], Thrive [II], Vanguard [IV] As I said, this is absolutely built off of the idea that you want to Shoulder Bash everything and everyone in the face. Torvald about to wind up that stupid ult of his? Charge Shoulder Bash up to not get blasted to your death and show him what for. CDs drop by 10% per elimination, and as Ash, you’re involved in virtually every kill. A heal for when you Shoulder Bash, and that 32% extra DR for after the charge itself means you’re a bit safer.
- Furious Charge [II], Thrive [II], Brawl [II], Percussion [II], War Machine [IV] Conversely … War Machine IV offers 40% Cooldown Reduction per elimination. This is a more balanced build to me. It’s still mostly built around Shoulder Bash and Kinetic Burst, pushing people off and back. This one’s designed to keep people off of the point, provided you land the hits. That part is up to you. But with it you can Bash them all the time virtually, even , ore if you itemize for CDR.
As far as items go, Ash is likely going to be your secondary tank. As such, I’d build her for Morale Boost [Ult Charge], Blast Shield or Haven [Whichever you have to deal with more], Cauterize, and Kill to Heal. One of my weaknesses in game is not prioritizing the Healing items enough. As a tank, I’m hoping my healer’s going to be near me. This… this is not always the case. In casuals, it’s seldom the case, if ever. That’s where all that DR comes into play. With a LMB that has AOE and potential knockback with the RMB, a Knock Up, Knock Back, Invulnerability, she’s got a hugely powerful kit. Who would I pair her with? Someone with a beefier shield, or something that hits hard. She synergizes well with most of the tanks, but I suppose the top three would be Makoa, Fernando, and then Barik or Torvald. Who is the complete bane of his existence? Anyone really mobile. Maeve, Androxus, Barik, Pip, Willo, Ying. Anyone that can get out of the charge before it gets there. Anyone that is slow to move or react is going to get blasted by her gigantic cannon. Her and Torvald remain my favorite tanks though. She’s exactly what I want in a character: Bulky, aggressive, a bully. She hits hard, she leaps into the middle of the fray and does whatever the Hell she wants. I can’t wait to see the pro teams using her.