Staying Competitive with Faction ADD – Part Two

Hello All! Last week I started this series on Faction ADD and how to stay competitive while still enjoying jumping from faction to faction. This week, we’ll be looking into the negatives (and arguments against) playing multiple factions at a time. I’m sure that many of you have heard these arguments before, but it’s always good to start by identifying weaknesses before you can develop them into strengths.

1. The Time Expense

One of the first peieces of advice a Warmachine player will recieve is to simply get lots of games in. This is excellent advice, and stays true through a Warmachine players career. The argument here goes that if you are spending time switching between factions, you are drastically reducing the practice that you can get in with any particular caster/faction. This is absolutely true, and can cause you to learn a particular caster’s strengths and weaknesses more slowly than you would otherwise. As a fan of the finesse-style casters, I can tell you that I struggled a lot learning how to play some of the higher skill cap models in the game because I was switching so often. You also run the risk of setting incorrect precedence for yourself. 

An example of this from my own experience is that I used to absolutely hate playing into Legion. As a Cygnar player, I was playing the wrong casters into Legion, and I thought that they were overpowered (oh how foolish was I in my youth!) Once I made the switch to Circle, I went into every Legion match expecting to lose horribly. That attitude prevented me from making the right calls and plays during my games, which caused me to lose. Eventually, I realized that it was weakness in my understanding of both Legion and Circle. Once I reconciled that, I began playing into Legion using different tools more effecitvely.

2. Limited Mental Bandwidth

If you’re taking the time to learn all of your models, tricks, combos, and basic strategy, you’re probably not going to be keeping up with other factions. If you’re spending your time learning the same stuff for multiple factions at once, you’re almost definitely not keeping track of that information for your opponent’s factions. 

There is a lot of depth to this game, and a big part of that is how each faction has different plays and combos that  crank their models up to 11. Learning to play a set of these combos well is time intensive, but is the right place to start. After that, you can start learning what your oppoenents’ factions do. However, if you’re spending your time and mental energy learning completely new models, you’ll be on the back foot against opponents who know their   tricks and yours.   

Granted, if you are learning a faction that is heavily played in your meta, this can be a strength. We’ll discuss that more in the future.

3. Time and FInancial Costs

Let’s level for a second. Warmachine is expensive, both on your time and wallet. Models cost money. Assembley and painting can be extremely time consuming. Doing that for multiple factions just exacerbates those issues. Before taking upa new faction, ask yourself “Do I have the time and resources to buy, build, paint, and play a new faction?” If you can’t answer yes without some mental gymnastics and a lot of hesitation, then maybe you should reconsider. 

That just about covers the main issues with playing multiple factions at once. I know – it seems kind of overwhelming at this point, but hang in there til next week and I promise we’ll start talking about the benefits. 

Advertisements

Staying Competitive with Faction ADD – Part One

I have a confession to make. I love playing new factions. I love building out a collection, tirelessly researching the tricks, lists, and power plays to make it all work, and confusing my opponents by playing a different army than I did the week before.

My name is Andrew, and I have Faction ADD.

Faction ADD effects many Warmachine players. You might know this guy (or girl) in the shop – they’re constantly switching between two or more factions, switching allegiences at the drop of a hat. They finish off their first game of the night and you ask if they’re up for a second game. “Of course!” they say, already packing up their Siege list, “I’ve got this great Lucant list I’ve been dying to try.”

Some players are of the mind that specializing in one faction makes them a better player. For some players, this is absolutely true. For others, like myself, I actually find that with some patience, I can stay competitive in my store even with my crippling faction ADD.

For reference, I play Circle Orboros as my primary competitive faction. Cygnar is my secondary faction, with CoC, Mercs, and Minions sharing time for teaching games, goofy events, and casual play nights. I also just picked up Skorne, and look forward to dropping them on the table soon. In my career, I’ve also dabbled in Retribution and Khador.

For a while in the shop, some of the more seasoned players told me that my faction jumping would keep me from becoming a good enough player to compete well in the local events, let alone anything bigger that I aspired to. Granted, I game them additional ammunition with a pretty dismal performance in our big seasonal league my first year of play with a last minute switch from Cygnar to Circle. 

My experience with becoming a real contender in my local meta with Circle has inspired me to run a short series on the pros and cons of playing multiple factions, and how to leverage a liability (faction jumping) into a strength for competitive play. I’ll use my journey to illustrate the proper way to apply faction ADD into competitive play, and the pitfalls you may come across. 

Next article, I’ll focus on the cons of faction jumping while learning to play, and during your development from a novice to a steamrolling machine. After we get all that negativity out of th way, I’ll jump to the advantages during that same time period. We’ll conclude with some thoughts on bringing it all together as a developing player. Hopefully, you’ll learn something and I’ll be better able to identify my own shortcomings as a player.

Stay tuned!

-Jester

First Thoughts on eKromac

So, I’ve been playing a little bit of eKromac, thanks to Alucard splitting a Hordes 10th Anniversary box with me. I wanted to go ahead and add my thoughts to the pile of salty tears and overjoyed Circle players.

Full disclosure: I am not a big of Kromac in the fluff or on the table. At least, this was true of Kromac1. I wanted to love his shenanigans, sending beasts in and out and juking around. I wanted to see Kromac sail over a front line of infantry and apply ax to face on the enemy caster, But, whether due to my inexperience at the time or my meta’s understanding of Kromac’s tricks, it never really panned out.

The new Kromac differentiates himself from his past by giving up on helping his army hit and run quite as effectively in exchange for additional personal prowess, a more supportive feat, and a deeper spell list. It seems, when you first look at him, that we finally have a dedicated armor cracker in Circle, especially if you aren’t a fan of Bradigus.

eKromac’s first big asset is his statline. His base defensive stats add up to 32, which experienced players will notice breaks the average defensive statline pretty handily. His defense is high enough that most troopers are going to balk at hitting him and his armor is high enough that even a beast or jack is going to blunt a tooth trying to chew through him. His MAT his higher than his prime incarnation, and he hits as hard as a circle beast thanks to new two-handed ax, Rathrok. Once you add in Carnage and Heart Eater, both he and his whole army can consistently do work and hit even high defense models with minimal issues. Primal Howl, eKromac’s signature spell, allows him some situational  scenario pressure, and allows him to increase his defense, and the defense of his close front line, for some unexpected defense shenanigans.

His feat requires some finesse to utilize well. Granted, it seems straightforward – auto-hitting charges for models in his control area, and increased STR and ARM for him and his living beasts. However, Circle typically doesn’t alpha with the charge, but with shifting stones. However, it does make him a fantastic armor cracker, and he counters high defense spam well.

So far, I’ve been impressed by eKromac’s ability to close out a game, and his ability to get through armor. My list with him lately has looked like this:

eKromac

-Druid Wilder

– Winter Argus

-Warpworld Stalker

– Riphorn Satyr

Blackclad Wayfarer x 2

Shifting Stones x 2

Warpborn Skinwalkers (Full)

-Warpborn Alpha

Druids of Orboros

-Druid of Oroboros Overseer

The druid clouds cover the army on the way up, and the Winter Argus allows eKromac to hit ARM 20 on feat turn with his animus, which feels powerful and can bait a great assassination attempt. Very rarely will I bait with my caster, but eKromac is a big boy. He can handle it. In addition, the wilder and eKromac’s spell list can help with getting animi out without fury, which the Stalker appreciates everyday.

Another interesting note – eKromac may have game with the Satyrs, since his feat helps to offset their pillow fists. I also played a game running him with a Scarsfell Griffon. Remember those? Yeah, a feated Scarsfell Griffon gets work done in unexpected places.

eKromac is good. I don’t know if he quite fits my personal playstyle, but I think I just need to unlock his potential with the utility beasts and trust my infantry to help crack the armor. I think we’ll see a lot from eKromac moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see if he works better for armor cracking, which fits the current meta better, or making utility beasts shine by letting their all important charge get things done. I’ll be trying him in this second role, so look forward to additional feedback.

First Thoughts on Haley3

Hello All! For my first post, I thought it would be worth going back to my roots as a Cygnar player to give the new Haley3 a try. First off, many thanks to my shadow buyer at Lock and Load so that I didn’t have to have two more months to give her a shot. I honestly hadn’t been keeping up too closely with release news and previews, so I didn’t have many expectations going into her.

For my first game, I wanted to squeeze in a game with a close friend of mine who is moving on to a bigger and brighter meta. He’s a Legion player who likes to play against the grain, so it was not a huge surprise when he played his Kallus into Haley3.

My list was made up of only Cygnar (I’m a bit of purist, most of the time).

Haley3 (+3)

-Thorn (8)

-Dynamo (10)

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages w/ UA (8)

Full Storm Lances (11)

Full Sword Knights w/ UA (8)

Journeyman Warcaster (3)

Black 13th (4)

Stormsmith Stormcaller (1)

My opponent played:

Kallus (+5)

-Shredder (2)

-Afflictor x 2 (8)

– Succubus (2)

Full Blighted Nyss Swordsmen + UA (11)

Full Spawning Vessel (3)

Full Blighted Nyss Legionnaires + Frailor (9)

Blackfrost Shard (5)

Full Warspears + UA (10)

Blighted Ogrun Warchief (3)

Blighted Nyss Deathstalker (2)

The scenario was Recon, and we both picked the Effigy of Valor as our objectives. Kallus won the roll to go first and decided to go second to deny the Haleys a trench. That’s fine with me, though – Haley Future and Past wouldn’t want to spend their whole visit to the present sitting in a trench anyway.

I neglected to take pictures, so there will not be a battle report. The battle went well into 6 rounds due to Kallus’s fantastic grinding capability and overall well-played game on my opponents’ behalf. The game ended on a draw (assassination of Kallus likely) due to time constraints. The game was extremely grindy, and I can see the significant attrition and scenario power Haley3 brings to the table. Her assassination game is a little weak, however.

In the end, I had an overall favorable impression of Haley3. Fitting with her theme, I get the impression that she is a caster that rewards (and requires) foresight to be an effective caster. She wants to get work done, and most certainly can, but you have to be aware of your opponent in a unique way. Not only do you have to plan many of your moves on round in advance in order to have the right spells available, but you need to consider your opponent’s moves as well to make sure that the right tool is in the right place.

Can players find marginal success using her as a Repudiate and Temporal Flux bot? Sure. Will they find greater success by leveraging her wide variety of spells and abilities through careful estimation and preplanning? Most certainly.

One thing I found frustrating was that Haley has no damaging nuke available until Haley Past has entered and cast, and between the two spells, she lacks a viable spell damage threat. Haley Past herself is an amazing contributor to the fight, though, with boosted blast damage on Chain Blast all game long. Haley Future is probably the most situational, as sometimes Ghost Walk and Revive don’t help you in a meaningful way.
In the end, I think Haley3 is a solid caster who could see competitive play given enough practice given her deep toolbox. However, given the other, more defined gameplans available in Cygnaran Caster, I think that, at least for this Swan, she fits squarely in 3rd list status. Expect to see a more interesting report soon.