Casters in Mark III

Post I made about General Mark III changes

So we’re a ways into Mark III and I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts about casters that I’ve played and have played against so far. I feel some of the changes have really shaken up the meta and brought some new casters to the fore while also making some old mainstays very interesting.

I’ll start with Trollbloods as they are my mainstay faction and I’ve played nearly all of them in the new addition. I’m not going to go over them all. Just the ones I’m really excited about or feel have changed the most.

Continue reading

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. 

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.

Twins Basil, Twins!

Figured it was time to do a write-up on the Epic Rhyas and Saeryn unit now that I’ve had some table time with them.  Where to start?  My initial impression was an underwhelming one, middle of the road stat line, solid spell list, only 1 beast point, and the loss of some signature abilities.   More of a huh reaction than a OMFG! reaction.  That being said, these ladies add up to much more than just the sum of their parts.  They are like good old down home country cooking, basic ingredients, but mix it all together and what comes out is finger licking good!

First things first, this unit is NOT pRhyas and pSaeryn clumped together.  Comparing the two to one another model to  model is a complete waste of time and will result in only disappointment and a completely skewed view of their potential.  They are a unit, and as such are made to compliment and facilitate one another.  They do this beautifully if viewed and played in this way.

Initially their defensive stats gave me pause.  At def 16, arm 14, with 8 hp, the first thing that comes to mind is victim stats.  On the table though I have found them to be surprisingly resilient.  Tenacity really helps, I won’t go as far as to say a shredder is a must with them, but I would highly recommend one. Probably their best defensive stat is the spd 7.  Being that fast really allows them to leverage terrain and positioning.  This is crucial for them as I have found I keep Occultation out on another unit most of the time, or at least until the battle is well under way.

So what do they bring to the table?  Board control.  This is not the board control of say Haley2, Denny2, or Krueger2.  They don’t bring the hard control of the aforementioned casters through spells and feats, theirs is a soft control, that of implied threat.   End with your caster within 12″ and Rhyas can charge you, to a max of 15″ with certain builds.  Boosted pow 12’s kill casters, so pow 12 weaponmasters with crit decap need to be taken seriously.  Scenario has to be looked at differently against these ladies as well.  Their feat, in combination with the fact that both have to be dead to win by caster kill, allows them to play a very aggressive scenario game.  Being able to bring one back means I can hang one out in the wind, usually Rhyas since she is the muscle, in a way I wouldn’t with a single caster to clear a scenario and steal points.  Under commit to a zone or flag and I can safely clear it and take points, over commit and you just opened up another section of the board for me to leverage.  Being able to switch places with the feat also makes for some hard to account for threat vectors against both casters and key pieces.

Their actual threat ranges and ability to aggressively pursue scenario aren’t the only way I have found they offer board control.  Their spell list does this in spades as well.  Occultation, Banishing Ward, Psychic Vampire, and Onslaught, each of these can and do allow a Twins player to dictate when and were an engagement begins.  Obviously each has its time and place, the Twins are not win button casters, far from it!  But what their spell list gives is options and leveraged properly allows a savvy general to dictate the flow of the game.  If you can do that, if you can dictate what you opponent is or isn’t doing, then as the man with tiger blood in his veins once said,”Winning!”

Lastly, positioning is everything with these ladies.  They have very low hp and they are on an 8″ tether.  At first this may seem like a deal breaker, but if you are cognizant of that and pay attention to positioning they are hugely rewarding.  In the vein of soft board control and implied threat, how you position them in regards to one another is important.  When camping 7+ fury I have found it effective to keep them close to each other.  Plenty of fury to transfer off any aoe’s, and with Tenacity up a melee attack is a risky proposition.  Miss Rhyas and she is going to hit you with a weaponmaster riposte and the potential to decap, miss Saeryn and she is going to hit you with a dispel riposte knocking off any buffs.  Are they killable in a melee run, absolutely, but it is risky enough that opponents have to think twice about it.  Less than 7 fury camped and I tend to spread them out enough that it is difficult to get on both.  That way should one go down I’m still in the game and can potentially feat her back.  Like many things in life, remember location, location, location!

Obviously this is just a quick, general overview of the Epic Twins and many more games will be needed to get a solid bead on their place in the hierarchy.  Are they S tier? I can’t say yet.  Are they high-end? Undeniably.  Overall I have found them to be an extremely fun and rewarding drop.  In my opinion they offer the perfect blend of options, power, and finesse.

The list I have been running with them

Epic Twins +1

Zuriel-10

Scythean-9

Naga Nightlurker-5

Shredder-2

Swordsman-Max + UA-11

Raptors-Max-10

Anyssa Ryvaal-4

A Few Thoughts on Sportsmanship, part 2

So last week I touched upon dice and being a pleasant opponent.  This week lets take a look at a few aspects of sportsmanship that aren’t so glaringly obvious.

This year I had the pleasure of attending Lock n Load 2015, it was a fantastically fun experience, but after three days of non stop gaming I came to truly value what I feel is an under appreciated aspect of good sportsmanship, namely clean play.  I have had the privilege of gaming in an LGS these last couple years that puts a great deal of value on clean play and I must say it truly does make a game much more enjoyable!

So what is clean play? Simply put, it is precise measurements and clearly marked effects.  Bending the tape or moving without measuring, even when you are certain the range is under the models speed are a few examples.  Not huge breaches of etiquette, but all it takes is one or two instances of gaining an advantage that you shouldn’t have and the “sloppy” label comes out.  That is not a descriptor that any of us want attached to our names!  As for effects, its pretty simple.  Clearly mark all animi, upkeeps, or triggered effects in play and place them were the opponent can see them.  Personally I have a bad habit of not marking triggered effects as I tend to track everything in my head.  This has caused a few tense discussions when an important play is on the line!  Yes, the things I am talking about are small, but they can have a tremendous impact on the game and result in a death of enjoyment by a thousand cuts.  Spend a turn setting up an assassination run only to charge and have the war-noun admonition away because the token was hidden behind the base and you will know exactly what I mean!

Another aspect is game flow when playing under a clock.  This really connects back the social aspect I mentioned in the previous post.  We play to have fun, not nickel and dime each other with petty crap.  If you have effects that require die rolls during the opponents turn have them ready to go as soon as the effect triggers, tough, continuous fire, etc.  If you or your opponent are using aoe or spray attacks have the templates ready to go, be ready to mark and measure drifts.  Simple, subtle things yes, but they have a serious impact on the flow of the game and your shared enjoyment.  Things like this are similar to a job well done, do it right and few people consciously notice, but win or lose the game has a better feel.  Do it wrong or get petty and don’t be surprised if your opponent wants to turn your dangley bits into a speed bag.

Lastly, win or lose, do what you do with dignity and graciousness.  Remember, your opponent has sunk a great deal of time and money into this shared interest, they chose to spend time playing a game with you.  The least we can do is not belittle a fellow player simply because we lost or they got the short end of the stick.

Well that should just about cover it for now.  Agree, disagree, or feel I missed something, let me know.

Cheers,

Alycard

A Few Thoughts on Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is one of those topics that is seldom touched upon, but the effects of which are keenly felt throughout an LGS or meta.  It strikes me as a tricky thing to fully define as much of what makes for “good” sportsmanship is very subjective, with that in mind ill try to stick to general themes.

What is it that makes some players a very enjoyable game, while others an exercise in self-control?  There have been games were I was taken to the cleaners and walked away from the table smiling, while others I have tabled an opponent and gone home livid.  Why? Simply put, the opponents sportsmanship.  It is the one quality a player possesses that I have seen ignore skill level while making or breaking a reputation.  So, what is good sportsmanship?

For myself I never gave it much thought until the 2014 Fall IMC.  I had picked the game up a little over a year before, I learned quick and was enjoying moderate success in the LGS, so when the chance to play in larger tournament came around I jumped on it.  I’d had no illusions of winning the whole thing, but I had been fairly confident of doing well.  Suffice to say I drove 6 hrs to suffer the wrath of the dice gods.  My first game I was outplayed handily, the next 2 I set up perfect assassination runs with Bethayne and Belphagor and proceeded to roll trip 1s three times straight followed by 4 on 3d6 needing 8 to hit, 4 times.  I did not react well to put in mildly, dropped, and went to downtown Ogden to wallow in self-pity.  On the ride home it hit me that I had been a colossal ass and those games probably hadn’t been enjoyable in any way for my opponent.  That was when I decided to do a little self-examination and kick some bad gamer habits.

I love page 5 of the rule book, but for me it is entirely to long-winded.  It can be easily summed up in one sentence, Don’t be a bitch! Rule 1 of DBAB, and yes this is a rule, do not complain about dice. Rule 2 of DBAB, for the love of the Devourer Worm you are a grown ass person, stop complaining about your dice!! This will ruin a game faster than anything I can think of, both for yourself and for your opponent.  Full disclosure, when I started playing Warmachine/Hordes I was poster child for dice rage, I can say from experience that putting the kibosh on that habit has made my gaming experience exponentially more enjoyable.  A solution to this is put the money together and buy precision dice.  Seems simple, but the mental question marks it removes will grant a surprising peace of mind for both yourself and those you play against.

Probably the simplest aspect of good sportsmanship is be pleasant, win or lose.  Easy to say, not always so easy to do in the heat of the moment.  In my personal experience this has done wonders for both my enjoyment of the game, and how I react to adversity during a match.  Lets face it, when we play we tend to feed off one another’s enthusiasm or negativity, therefore winning or losing DBAB!  Two things I have noticed since I’ve started implementing this into my play, one I find I simply have more fun playing.  Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm and it is infectious.  Two, when things aren’t going my way and I don’t allow myself to get frustrated, (I still do occasionally, sadly I’m still human), my play doesn’t suffer.  When I do allow myself to react poorly I’ve noticed I tend to make more mistakes and small setbacks seem to loom larger, subsequently my play suffers.  Besides those things, and probably the most important thing to keep in mind, Warmachine/Hordes is a social game.  No one wants to hang out with an asshole.  We get together to let our inner 12-year-old play with toy soldiers, hang out with friends, and have a good time.

Ill touch on more in my next post, till then let me know what you think makes for good sportsmanship.

Cheers, Alycard