On Sunday I was able to get about 1/3 of a game of Relic Knights in. While not ideal, this was the first chance I had had to be able to throw down and get a general feel of the game. We had to call it early, but it was extremely enlightening.

I think I am really going to enjoy the game, honestly, because it has the feel of a fast paced simple game, while also being simultaneously deep and complex. The rules were easy to understand we only went to the rulebook a few time, if at all. It was a Battlebox game, which cut down on the complexity, but it was still enjoyable.

The Esper Deck is the foundation of the game, in my opinion, and is the second greatest resource of the game that needs to be managed – the other being the queue. There are 6 colors represented in the Esper deck, with each card having a primary and secondary Esper color. The primary color is worth 2 Esper, and the secondary color is worth 1. Each Color has six cards on which it is a Primary Esper, and six cards on which it is Secondary. The Secondary Esper on each card is one of the Primary colors allies: Blue (primary) will have either Green or Purple as a secondary, and so forth. You can tell the allies and enemies when viewing the Relic Knights logo, much like MTG

images

See, ain’t that cute?

Each faction has a color: Shatters Sword Paladins – Blue, Black Diamond – Purple, N’oh – Red, Star Nebula Corsairs – Orange, Doctrine -Yellow, and Cerci Speed Circuit – Green. In turn, each of these colors represents a vague, overall concept of the universe: Law, Corruption, Anarchy, Entropy, Essence, and Creation, respectively.

Every model has actions, and upgrades to those actions, called presses, that take the actions to 11. Declaring an action costs Esper as does declaring a press. Each model also has a set of Melee, Ranged and Psychic stats that allow you to draw cards both when making and defending against an action after the action is declared.

Thus:
Declare Action and Target
Play cards with total Esper value equal to or greater than the Esper Cost of the Actions
Discard extra Esper
Draw cards equal to your offensive or defensive stat, as determined by the attack type and your model
Attacker declares all presses
Attacker plays cards with total Esper value equal to or greater than the Esper cost of the presses
Discard extra Esper
Defender  declares all presses
Defender plays cards with total Esper value equal to or greater than the Esper cost of the presses
Discard extra Esper.

Each Faction tends to have three colors they use for their actions: Their main color, and the colors next to it. This means that my Star Nebula Corsairs tend to use Orange, with Red and Yellow as additional resources. This means that there are four card types that are completely useless to me: B/G,B/P, P/B, G/B. There are only 12 varieties of cards in the deck, which puts a full 25% of the deck into a completely dead state for me. Squall and Iron Chef can mitigate that nearly completely as they have abilities that require blue (Squall) and green (Iron Chef). There will be no card, if I have them in my crew, that could not be used.

But, outside of that it means that it is vital to have the right Esper in your hand at the start of your activation, and without it, you could completely waste your turn. Refocus isn’t always bad, but its not the preferred method of using a unit.

These! Get Them in your hand!

This all comes to a head because in the game I played, we were using the deck moderately wrong, and created a much worse play experience for me, thinking back on it, than I remembered having during the beta.

The first error was when I refocused, I was pitching my whole hand and drawing back up to five. This is not correct! Drawing 5 more cards and discarding down to 5 afterward is superbly better than the version I used. don’t try it at home, it sucks.

The second one was when, at the end of the turn, I had less than 5 cards in hand as an Attacker, I would simply draw up to the 5 cards we needed instead of pitching any dead cards and drawing to 5. This created an effect where both the defensive portion of a turn and the following activation were completely screwed!

This may be why a compatriot of mine is convinced that things die to simply, and that I am convinced that models almost never die. I was just barely scraping by enough to do damage, and he was using everything to his advantage to pull together multiple powerful attacks. I’ll have to try it the right way!

The second resource you have to manage, and the one I find the most enjoyable, is the queue. This is the selection of models you’re going to have activate, and in what order, that you have to manage.

It can be a real bear to manage, as well. You have to factor in the board state, the cards in hand, the enemy queue, the enemy actions that the models in queue are likely to take, and even what you are planning on putting into the queue next. Its a ton to manage, and its the puzzle that I enjoy trying to solve. One interesting thing that I noticed as we were playing is that the queue makes the game enjoyably susceptible to surprise. If your active unit does something that the player is completely unprepared for, they may have to wait until their third activation to respond. By then it could be to late.

Example: In the game I was playing, I was expecting the Noh Berserkers to go after my central objective, and had models there to defend against the possible threat. Instead, when he activated them, he double-moved them out towards my far objective and my broadsides. He then immediately added the Berserkers back into the queue. With my Broadsides out of the queue when I started my turn, I we traded activations and then he was able to go with his Berzerkers, stealing a token from my objective before I could even attempt to shoot him, due to the broadsides acting after his second activation with the Berzerkers.

It was an extremely awesome revelation, and one I plan on trying to figure out how to both mitigate and exploit. we currently only have 2 models in the queue, as we are playing battlebox and 35 points, but I can only see this being exacerbated when we hit 50 points, though having an extra slot in the queue delays response time, but it also delays reactivation.

Finally, I want to talk about the objectives, because they are the central focus of the game. The starter boxes come with Objective tokens and a set of standard tokens, because you’ll need a thousand. I found that the placement of objectives can really set the tone of the game and is something that really needs to be taken seriously. Placing your objectives too far from the enemy will stymie your ability to get any of your objectives completed while you run across the board, and placing them too close will enable your opponent to overrun you and complete their objectives. I think its going to be a fun and difficult mini-game trying to figure out where your objectives need to be on the table.

When I get a full game in, I’ll post up the battle report, but I am still rocking the Cephalyx. I’ve gotten 7 models painted and have some 16 more to go, including three monstrosities. I should, provided all goes right, have another Cephalyx report on Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

Relic Knights is lucky that its game play seems to be fun, different and completely cool, because otherwise, I’d have just pitched the bunch of models I’ve assembled into the trash or to someone else, because I supremely disappointed.

Nearly every model I put together was either boring, stupid, flat or some combination of the three. The saving grace of the Corsairs line is Calico Kate and The Iron Chef. Every other model falls extremely short of my admittedly low expectations that I had for them.

Battle Box:
Harker: This model is the definition of sad. His art is cool and posed well, but his model is completely static and flat. I was originally really stoked to get him, but this really tempered my enthusiasm for him.
– Caesar – This model is actually not that bad, but its really hard to mess up a bird on a sword. I do believe that part of my disappointment was that they had planted the idea that it was going to be a dude holding the bird, but due to rules, Caesar has to be a separate model

Corsairs: Man, this is a trifecta of terrible, with each model worse than the last. Lola Bunny Ears honestly isn’t that bad of a model. She’s cylindrical even though she could have easily been made more dynamic by splaying her army just a little bit. Then, we have Scoliosis Boy.  His pose is so weird it just pulls me away. Finally we have Flatso. I’m just so rottenly disappointed by this model that it makes me angry. That they give you two in a box of Corsairs, and then foist two of the units on you is just icing on the crap cake.

Broadsides: Now, here is a model that doesn’t make me want to hurl chunks. Its about as average as you can get, but that seems to be the bar set for this lineup of models. What makes this thing aggravating is that is a huge pain in the ass to assemble!

Extra Models
Kenobo and Moffet: I don’t violently hate Kenobo, His sword is a bit large, and his nose is freakishly large, but I can get over both of those. Moffet is another story. I don’t think I like anything about her. Her face is mashed, her hand lost a ton of detail in plastic, and her sword is uninspiring.

Iron Chef and Squall. I like Iron Chef, I really do, which is great because he is one of the models I expected to like the least. I might change out his strange circular weapon for a blade, but that’d be it. Squall has a strange stance, but otherwise is a really cool model.

Blowhards: Man, am I disappointed. They look nothing like the art I wanted and are extremely static. Just not my cup of tea here.

Wildspace Gabe and Fleshreaper: These models look like they have to be painted to really get a good look at them. I originally thought that Gabe had an awful face, but I think its just sculpted weird to get the effect they needed. Fleshreaper is both tiny and not terrible.

Isabeau Durrant: I’m not upset with this model for anything other than her hair being a separate piece.  Unless paint can save it, its going to look like a whig. Not ok

Calico Kate: I’m over my 500 word count, but I didn’t want to leave without stating how pleased I am with this model, the one I was most dreading. With the bomb-and-Sword pose, I think she looks really cool, though I did have to re-position her sword. She’s got that Cheesecake flair, but it doesn’t look terrible on the model. Skully, however, is freaking TINY!

the more I look over the line, the more convinced I am that there ins’t a single faction that I’d enjoy every model from, or even most models, and thats a shame. Thankfully, the game plays pretty cool, and I like both resource management systems they have going. At least for now, those rules are a saving grace.

I’m also upping my word count to 750. Jesus is 500 small! so tiny! its Fun Size, not even Bite Sized

The problem with being a multifaceted nerd is that sometimes, your nerdings can outstrip your ability to write about them. Since Wednesday, this has been the case. I’ve progressed, played more Dark Souls II, I’ve finished assembling my Star Nebula Corsair Models and played a bit of my first Relic Knights game,  I’ve learned of the move of the Infinity Forums, and I’ve gotten two games in with the Cephalyx. I even Painted Thexus in a single sitting.

I’m really happy with these guys. You’ve probably seen this picture already.

The games with the Cephalyx were easily my favorite, though. Every time I play them, I learn something new and important to how the army functions, as each model has multiple functions and abilities, with making the right choice a difficult task.

The first game I played against a buddy of mine running Harkevich. I was terrified that this list was going to do all sort of bad things to me. He brought the following:

Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf+5
*Conquest19
*Juggernaut7
*Juggernaut7
Battle Mechanics3
Kayazy Eliminators3
Kayazy Eliminators3
Greygore Boomhowler (10)9
Harlan Versh2
Koldun Lord2
55

It lacked the guns I expected from a Harkevich list, and instead added the blasting power and movement shenanigans of the Conquest. I knew I could take down a colossal, given certain circumstances, but I figured that he’d never give me the chance. My army was going to get shelled all day, and if I ever needed to get real work out of any or multiple of my Monstrosities, I was done for. Tossing out Deceleration every turn is great for letting my army survive, but isn’t so great when it comes to getting work out of either my caster or my Monstrosities.

I brought the list I’ve been using the last few games.

Exulon Thexus+5
*Wrecker7
*Wrecker7
*Warden6
Mind Slaver and Drudges (10)6
Mind Bender and Drudges (10)6
Cephaly Overlords4
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Tactical Arcanist Corps4
*Cephalyx Dominator1
Pistol Wraith3
Pistol Wraith3
Machine Wraith1
Machine Wraith1
55

Its a very solid list that, with just minor tweaking, might be where Thexus stands.

Battle Report!
Scenario: Incoming!
First turn: Khador
Choice of Table Edge: Cephalyx for the Wall

Deployment and Terrain Setup:

Brown only is rocks, Brown and Green is forest, tan and Green is a hill. Walls are walls.

 

I got to coutner-deploy, but it didn’t seem to matter. Thexus in the center with Mind Slaver and Support to the right, Mind Benders and support to the left.

I’ve noticed that I tend to adopt a very symmetrical deployment, and I can’t really justify it: Drudge unit, Machine Wraith, Agitator, Pistol Wraith and Wrecker to either flank. Thexus, Warden, Agitator and (most times) overlords to the center. The Forest got in my way this game, and I fortuitisly deployed my Overlords across from the forest.

I constantly griped about my army not having access to pathfinder as a huge problem. I’ve learned that that is not completely true. I have 14 models that ignore terrain during their movement, and its no small benefit. Overlords, Agitators, Mind Slaver and Mind Bender, Thexus, Pistol Wraiths and Machine Wraiths all get to wander in and around most terrain.

Turn 1
Khador
Everything runs, with Harlan taking a slot in the woods, one Kayazy on a hill, and the other behind the ever-tarpit of Boomhowler. Conquest toed into the friendly Khador zone and make to stick around.

Cephalyx
Everything runs but the overlords, who simply shuffle their way forwards a bit. I’m a touch aggressive with my Incorporeal models, as they are threatened only by Harlen, the Koldun Lord, and Razor Wind from Harkevich. This is compounded by me having a small, durable smoke wall that I am able to hid them behind in the TAC.

End of Round 1

 

Turn 2
Khador
Conquest stays still and crits a shot, taking out a drudge and damaging a monstrosity, Its about this time, followed by the broadsides shot, that I realize how much Deceleration is helping me. By pushing up my armor to 17, and 19 on the drudges, its making the blast damage trivial, and even throws aren’t killing me. He positions the Kayazy, Boomhowlers and Juggernauts to counter attack if I try and dig to deep. I now have a 4+ tough unit in my zone, and no hope of ever removing them.

Cephalyx
Have I ever mentioned that I have good luck? Nothing proves it more than this single turn. Though it takes two Pistol Wraiths to do it thanks to an early snake eyes, I Death Chill the conquest, preventing any counter-charge. I move up and in with the Slavers to try and threaten the conquest next turn, disregarding the Creeping Barrage that was put down last turn, loosing no one, even with Deceleration not working to my advantage. The Thrown Wrecker moves into threatening range of Conquest, and the other Wrecker makes a go at some of the Boomhowlers, killing a few. The Overlords move up around the wall and one of them takes a pot shot with his Psychic Assault at the Kayazy on the hill. Def. 17 makes them exceedingly hard to hit, but I roll the hard 10 and her mind melts, removing her. I then activate the Mind Benders, move them into position and spray down a few more, leaving the unit at 6. With one of the Sprays, I manage to catch a member of the second Eliminator team. Though the Eliminator here is not on a hill, I am on less Magic Ability, but it doesn’t matter, I roll the hard 9 and take her down. Essentially taking out the threat of the combostriking, ganged Eliminators was extremely key to me living through the game. With straight dice on my caster, a single pair could take me out. I moved the TAC up, and for the first time created a smoke bunker past the second turn, trying to safeguard both my Machine Wraiths and Pistol Wraiths from Harm.

End of Round 2. There is a Kayazy off the left side of the board.

Round Three
Khador
Conquest shoots and gets his second critical tossing a Wrecker, a couple drudges and an Agitator around, killing only drudges.The Boomhowlers move deep into the zone, taking out, along with Harlan Versh, a ton of the Mind Benders drudges. The rightmost Kayazy charges the Mind Slaver unit leader and fails to kill. The left side runs into position to threaten Thexus. The Juggernauts each take down a Kayazy and a TAC member, leaving my center decidedly open. Harvevich takes out a Mind Slaver Drudge or two, and the turn passes over.

Cephalyx
I am able to capitalize on the armies small size by overrunning it, using the Wrecker, Mind Bender Drudges, and an Agitator to eliminate Boomhowler and his friends, taking the zone. I take over both Juggernauts with Machien Wraiths, and my last TAC member is able to pop the Koldun Lord. The Overlords manage to miraculusly take down the final right Eliminator in melee, rolling a hard 11 in order to remove her, making a new Mind Slaver Drudge. Those Drudges then flood the enemy zone, ready to assist the wrecker in taking out Conquest. I move Thexus into the friendly zone in order to Dominate and score a point, and move the Warden in to take shots against the Agitators, Thexus, and anything else that feels like being saved.

Round 4
Khador
Conquest shoots, again, critting, again (#3!), tossing two agitators and a Warden into Thexus and the Mind Bender. An Eliminator then charges out, and after a trip-ones fails to kill the knocked down mind bender. The Harkevich Ejects one Machine Wraith, while failing on the other. Harlan takes a swing at the newly ejected Machine wraith and misses. Faced with two possessed Juggernaughts, and Conquest Facing down an entire unit of Drudges, an Agitator and a Wrecker, the game ends.

The end of the game.

Though my list is solid, I really want to make a single change, but cannot find the points to do it. The Mind Benders, in almost every game, seem to be divided among giving out buffs to the Mind Slavers, or tossing out spells to assist with attrition. I really want to drop the max unit and take two minimum units. one to toss out attrition spells, and the other to buff the Mind Slavers, running behind them so as not to get outpaced. I’ve yet to figure out how to do it, though, and leave the army in tact enough that it actually works. It would involve either dropping the Overlords, with their fantastic spray attack, or a Pistol Wraith + Machine Wraith, loosing the efficiency of duplicates.

This game was really rough for my opponent, and in hindsight I can see why. The Pistol Wraiths, Machine Wraiths, and TAC all form a very nice control bunker from which the Cephalyx army could emerge. I was unable to extend a piece of Terrain, which seems to be the normal use of the TAC, but I was able to keep everything I needed safe long enough to get a ton of great use out of it.

The second game I played was a bit different, though it was against Khador again. My friend brought along his Butcher III list, which I’d not fought against yet.

The Butcher Unleashed+4
*Juggernaut7
Andrei Makakov3
*Beast 0911
Iron Fang Pikemen (10)8
*Black Dragon UA2
Greylord Ternion4
Widowmakers4
Drakhun4
Iron Fang Kovnik2
Greylord Outriders9
54

I brought the same list as above.

I’ll not be doing a play by play of this one, as I don’t remember it as clearly. We ended up playing Fire Support, which was interesting, but the scenario didn’t end up playing a huge part in the game. Instead, I was funneled around a stand of trees until I could find a way to get to Butcher with a Wrecker, which promptly killed him and won the game.

End of my Turn, the Turn before Assassination

Board State After Assassination

Butcher III Has me terrified, and both the board and this list didn’t help. I ended up going second – I wanted the side of the board with a wall hopefully just outside of 14″ of the board edge because the game has killbox – and running everything like I normally do. It was an epic mistake, as I had forgotten that Greylord Outriders have pathfinder. Everything from Thexus to the leftmost flag was packed with models, and I lost 9 of them the first turn, including a pistol Wraith. Thankfully, I was able to follow that up with a Wrecker leaving him with only one Outrider. A Pistol Wraith was able to get a bead on Malakov’s Beast and forced it to chill out for a turn.  His turn 3 I was really worried about, as he pushed the Butcher deep into scenario presences. I was able, however, on my feat turn, to completely collapse my right flank. I used my feat to pull Ironfangs out of Shieldwall, to maneuver his dogs into position, and to get Beast 09 and Malavok into vulnerable positions. I put a concerted effort into killing the dogs, but was unable to kill either. Thankfully, he didn’t get Vengeance. I did, however, manage to sneak Malakov. I tossed two TAC Fire blasts and two Psychic Sprays at him, one from an Agitator and one from an Overlord, and finally took him out. Taking Beast from the fight at the same time was just money. With a collapsed flank, Butcher had no choice but to go get some work done himself. Between energizer, his base movement and Impending Doom, he was able to get one of my two Wreckers and chop it to bits. He also got a Machine Wraith for his efforts!

The final turn I was able to pour everything I had into getting the Butcher into the threat range of my second Wrecker. I had to use the two TAC, all three Overlords, and an Agitator to remove all the models, but in the end the Subduer moved forward and was within 8″ of Butcher. A boosted TK both turned him around and placed him in the woods, and a second TK put the Wrecker hopefully within charge range. After Measuring for sight through the forest, I determined the Wrecker could, just, see Butcher, and got a free charge off for the nearby Outrider. I forgot about two crucial rules here, as Monstrosities have Eyeless sight, and the Agitators need to act first to give the Agitation bonus. Regardless, I was able to get into him, and it took me down to my last focus, but the Wrecker was able to get the job done.

With this list, I think Khador is a really good matchup for me. I have enough oomph to take out armor and I have enough bodies to block the initial flood. Before these games, I’d never really used the TAC smoke bunker the way I think others do, and its truly amazing. While Trenchers can do the same for Cygnar, they are 6 points and extremely vulnerable. With arm 16, five wounds, and immunity to fire for 2 less points, you get a ton of utility for a tiny investment. I’d also completely forgotten about eyeless sight, which would have made the Butchers placement less worrisome. Reach is completely amazing when it comes to difficult terrain, because its never reduced. Trees and rocky landscapes matter not to a Spear or Flail, it seems.

Both games were extremely enjoyable and against friendly opponents. The Cephalyx will soon be in their third month, and after that I’ll be playing the fist of Halaak.  If you’re making it to the NOVA open August 28-31, be sure to look me up and have a chat. I’ll be running Warmachines all day! oh, and follow me on twitter, where I sometimes share the aggregate information of Nerddom

My brother introduced me to Kickstarter shortly about a year before Relic Knights, and a short time before the Double Fine Adventure. Since that day, I’ve backed Six successful projects. In order: Wasteland 2, Reaper Bones, Relic KnightsWild West Exodus, Warmachine Tactics and Reaper Bones II. I have had fairly good success with these, and even though some have not delivered on their goods, I only really get worked up about two of them.

The key, I think, is that I view a Kickstarter as a perpetual investment into a possible product that is beyond the scope and ken of the people creating it. I don’t look at these games as pre-orders or great deals on product. I don’t expect them to ship on time, or even close to on time. I am pleased if the product ever releases, as there are enough projects out there that never deliver to make me pleased just to receive product before I die. I am also not terribly hard on the creators of a Kickstarter project, as I expect them to be completely convinced that what they are promising is both feasible and possible, while in reality none of them are.

This brings me to the two Kickstarters I feel the most about. They follow parallel, if opposite courses of frustration and aggravation. To me, they are both failures, but not for the reasons I think people expect to be attributed to each of the games. The timeline is strange, but bear with me, as I take you down the path of disappointment provided by two different companies.

The Initial Sell
Main Image

 

Relic Knights was the first Kickstarter I really backed with a group of other people. It came up through a group email, and I was heavily on the fence. I’d hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should join in, and if it was worth it for me to play another game. In the end, with my friends all talking about it, and a number of people getting into it, I joined the fray. I split a 2 player set with a friend of mine, and added all of the possible models for my faction into the pledge. I’d decided on the Star Nebula Corsairs because their look was the most unique. Well, except for Noh, but everyone was getting Noh and I have compulsive originality syndrome, forcing me to the least represented faction.

Wild West Exodus (WWX) was a bit of a different beast. I managed to find it all on my own and fall in love with the Warrior Nation models. I advertised it out to friends and other miniatures gamers and got a very lukewarm response. The models weren’t everyone’s style, and it just never clicked. though a few people said that they were going to pledge, remember only a few actually buying into the game. I got in with two other people, and we split a huge bundle three ways. I was going to have opponents and a nascent group. I’d also had a chance to look over the beta rules, but they were extremely rough and were said to be in the midst of a rewrite in order to make them better. I just couldn’t get attached to the rules. They were, though, clunky and obtuse, with some very strange interactions that I just didn’t think worked out. I was optimistic that they would sort the issues out because there was enough chatter on the beta forums for them to have to take notice. It turns out, however, that for the first time in my life I had been overly optimistic.

What really set these experiences apart for me was the initial enthusiasm. I was able to latch onto the WWX product line in a manner that was surprising even to my self, and enabled me to look past some of the warning signs of the game. Relic Knights was simply a peer pressure purchase because all the cool kids, and most of my friends, were doin’ it.

The Post-Kickstarter Insanity

Once the Relic Knights Kickstarter finished, I was able to easily hand over my money and get the products I wanted on order. My friend set it all up, and all I had to do was wait. The early updates were positive and flush with thanks, grateful that we’d pledged to support a great game. I was having a different friend who’d pledged forward me the email updates to keep me in tune with what was happening at the Relic Knights home base. Soon afterwards, however, Cool Mini or Not, one of the companies involved immediately started in on another Kickstarter, for another miniatures game. I wasn’t pleased by the development because I was, and am, convinced that you should finish what you start before moving onto something else.

Wild-West-Exodus-badge

WWX was abysmal in terms of making sure that I got the models I wanted. Each update seemed to provide a new spreadsheet with new calculations in order to get each model, in addition to the spreadsheet seemingly built by an anachronistic scribe summoned from the 14th century. It felt like it took me days to understand what the wizards tome wished me to do to unlock the awesomeness of the Warrior Nation faction, and in the end my greater persistence overcame the terrors of the Outlaw Spreadsheet. I would now be receiving, in a few short months, an enormous package of beautiful miniatures. I was frustrated, exhausted and ground down, but I had done it.

The big difference here was that I was able to pawn off all the pain of the pledge manager to another person. Without the burden of trying to sort through all the garbage that WWX made me go through in order to get their product, I was much happier at the direct outcome of the Kickstarter for Relic Knights than I was for WWX. I will say, as a side note, that I was exceedingly suspicious of the WWX backer numbers. See, the fluff has the game powered by a mysterious substance unique to the world, called RJ 1027. WWX had, exactly, 1027 backers. Some people might say that’s fluffy and funny, but I just call it unsavory.

The Beta Process

Relic Knights original beta test book was terrible. Awful even. There were problems with wording, phrasing and any number of other parts of the book that made the game nearly unplayable. Among the most egregious to me was that cover was ill defined and, as it is now, very powerful. Now, I will say that as an extremely avid Warmachine fan, I do expect a games rules to have a certain rigid fluidity to them. They say what they mean, and they mean what they say, and all is fair. This was exactly the opposite of the Relic Knights book. However, due to overwhelming beta testing from the backers and everyone who could get their hands on a downloaded copy, the game was hammered into something that is clear and concise, while still presenting the solid rules. I’ve been reading over the book since it delivered, and I can pretty much say I’ve not encountered any problems or contradictions. I am sure they are in the book, they just aren’t there at first glance, nor even at a heavy read. Soda Pop did it right by asking, receiving and even relishing in the criticism and assistance with making this game the best game as envisioned by the game designer and as it matched that vision with the consumer.

Geronimo

If you’re not familiar yet with the pattern here, I’ll just lay it out. Everything that Soda Pop did right, WWX did completely wrong. Their beta rules were a terrible pile of trash that was better served as toilet paper and scrap coding than the paper and files that contained it. The first update was exceedingly insulting, to boot! though there were changed affected by the beta players and readers, they were mostly rules clarifications and spelling errors. Where balance was concerned, and where game play came into question, I felt we were being told, in only so many words, go STFU! The biggest portion of this came to the fore when it came to the overwhelming rule. With some models having tons of action points and a pile of attacks per action, there were models that could shred entire armies of weenie troops. However, the overwhelming rule stated that for every model beyond the first that you could make attacks against, your Strikes (attacks) were reduced by one. This served, many in the community claimed, to make only the good fighters worse while not affecting all the little guys, as attacks could never be reduced below 1. It seemed counter intuitive that the game, which reveled in the glory of its characters would make its characters suffer such humiliation at the hands of the hired help. Instead of trying something else or reworking the rule to make sense to the player base, they instead told the player base they were wrong in the most passive aggressive manner possible: A call out in the rules directly addressed their gripes, and told them to take a hike; that the rule was meant to reduce the effectiveness of a nasty model, and nothing more. It was just poorly done. The rules went through a few more changed, but at this point I was already frustrated with their lack of compassion for the customer and completely put off by their obstinate predilection to go forward with their vision, flawed or not.

Both Processes were frustrating, but I find that working with a company and fine tuning the rules for balance, fun and concept to be a fantastically enjoyable endeavor. When this works well, it creates a set of rules that many of the fans of the game enjoy. When done wrong, it will drive away players in droves and hordes.

The Long Wait

The wait for the Relic Knights Kickstarter was one of joyful nothingness. It was long, which is true, but each time I got a forwarded update, it seemed to be straight forward and honest. I know that there are many who would disagree, but I don’t remember getting offended by a single report from the front. Instead, I took the absence of the miniatures calmly, as I had nearly a thousand miniatures, of witch maybe 30% are painted and I’ve put just over 60% on the table. What Relic Knights did, as each successive shipment and delivery date was set and then broken, was assure me that they would have their own day. The Reaper Bones models delivered and had their day. The Wild West Exodus Miniatures came and were assembled in a flurry of activity. Even Warmachine Tactics miniatures came, and even one was painted. Still, I had not anything from Soda Pop. Finally, the wait started to end, slowly and viscously the tracking number slid into mailboxes with the urgency of molasses on a winters morning. Then, our turn came, and my friend alerted me, almost 18 months later, that Relic Knights was on the way.

WWX had a plan, and it showed. They were constantly updating their models, putting out their masters and showing us 3d renders prior to print. Some of those renders were so reviled that they were sent back to the artists and re sculpted to make their vision more in line with the actual sculpt as the backers saw it, though there was, to no ones surprise, a model that the community didn’t like that was explained instead of changed, which would normally be just fine, except the model is so ridiculously goofy looking that it defied reason that this model would be the one they would take a stand on. It was also, to amplify the problem, after a number of community demanded re sculpts that they had given in to, so the expectation was there. The plan that WWX had, however, completely collapsed under its own weight once they received the product. With a tiny number of staff, they were overwhelmed on the first day of shipping with the sheer scope of the project, and you could tell. For me, it was at this point that the Updates started turning belligerent, blaming the customer for the delays. Maybe it was just my sensitivity, but telling us that the flexibility you allowed us in your hellish spreadsheet is causing the problems with shipping doesn’t help anyone.

Though Relic Knights made me wait almost a year longer than WWX to receive my product, I really felt the wait of the WWX product much heavier. It was, I feel, Simply the communication methods that were used and how the backers were treated. In one case, they were treated like a burden, and in the other was just constant disappointment.

The Models
Relic Knights has delivered and I am, very shortly, going to be wrapping my head around the finer points of the rules. I am, however, exuberantly disappointed in the models that I have assembled so far. This is becoming extremely crushing to me as I wanted to paint these models, but with their sub par sculpts and their bland character, they are not inspiring me to pull out the paint and put aside my current project. Instead, as I slowly assemble each one, I get deeper and deeper into a mode of apathy with the models. What was once going to be an interesting painting project has now turned into a decision on which models will ever get paint.

SNC

When the WWX models showed up, I could not wait to put them together. Each model in turn was cooler and more grandiose than the next, and though they had their flaws in a number of the models, I was excited to start painting them. Some represented a great chance at practicing flesh and skin tones, while others were going to allow me to play around with OSL or furs. Some models, though, seemed like they were foisted on me without me fully knowing what I was getting, and stayed in the sprue throughout the process. Though the enthusiasm was tempered a bit by the completely abysmal treatment of a number of rules, I was still positive I could affect change and be part of a better game.

Both lines of models seemed to crop up with problems. The plastic used by RK is not the greatest, and the resin used by WWX echos that same quality. I was, however, pleased by the WWX plastics that were very similar to the Wyrd plastics that have received so much attention. Even though Relic Knights has less models, I definitely put together the WWX models faster.

Current Times

Relic Knights still have some models in the boxes as I struggle to get the desire to assemble the models. Each one has been a disappointment that built upon the failings of the second model I assembled. Thankfully, the concept of the rules, the variety of the game, and the coolness of the Relic Knights has kept me involved. I am anxious to try out the rules set, get a couple games in and pass a judgement on whether or not I’ll actually enjoy the game. All signs point, it seems, to yes. There is a nagging worry in the back of my head, though, that the game size is too small for me. While I like the concept of 8-10 models, it is extremely hard to break the core of those models up and try different things, especially when you might only get one game a week or so. Small Squads seem to be more to my liking, and I really look forward to trying to get my friends to play 70 points!.

Today, almost all of my models for WWX are in a box as well. However, that box is now in transit to Kansas and their new owner who will hopefully enjoy them more than I. The models were great and looked to be extremely fun to paint, but I’ll most likely never bother. The rules had holes in them as large as a bus, and it was extremely disappointing to me to see a game with so much potential waste itself. I mentioned, on now-deleted posts and a podcast interview that I enjoyed 97% of the rules, but the 3% that were terrible were so bad as to drive me off. A single line of text in the rules that stated that LOS was going to be True LOS is a small fraction of a set of game rules that interacts with every game and gamer, and there were a few of those that floated around the rule set. In addition, the scenarios were, and from everything I hear are still, not balanced. Even the competitive scenarios were built from too much story and not enough fairness. One does not always want fairness, but it should be obvious if and why and by the exact amount a scenario is unfair. It should also compensate for that unfairness somehow within the rules, and I never saw that WWX did. For my vocal criticism, I was tossed out of the community, my memory excised and my texts burned. There is no history of me except for those who know where to look by my absence.

While it might not be obvious at first, these two games have followed very parallel lines of delivery with exciting Kickstarters, perilous delivery, rough rules sets, and problems with models. However, the way that each now sits in my life is extremely divergent. One could be said to have a chance, and potential excitement. The other’s excitement was slain brutally with but a glimmer of a hope still in its infant eyes.

 

Till next week’s Monday battle report, or maybe even 2!

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I have been playing my Cephalyx at every chance I get, and am very pleased with their performance. I currently sit at a very comfortable 5-3-1, with the one draw coming to time. I’ve played 25, 35, and 50, and have used every model at their disposal. With the switch back to Cryx looming on the horizon for September and October, I felt it was time to go back and evaluate what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been learning, and what I like or dislike about the Minifaction of Cephalyx.

cephalyx_heavy_kit

Monstrosities
The Monstrosities stand out to me as the flagships of the army. If you have no desire to play them, there is no real reason for you to play the faction as a whole, its just not going to be worth your time. All three monstrosities are exceedingly good.

  • The Wrecker is all it says its supposed to be and more. TK and the feat gives it up at a very achievable 14″ threat range, and at MAT 7 it easily threatens whatever is around to pummel. I do not think, however, that you can count on TKing your target closer to you for extended threat range. Fueling one of these for a rampage takes over 30% of your focus, and if you want to TK the Wrecker, its over 50%. With the TK of the target model, you’re going to need to be close enough to charge already and want to burn nearly 90% of your focus. The Focus expenditure is a choice, but being close enough anyway make it a pretty terrible choice most times. The times its not is when you simply cannot afford a miss. If the target is defense 14+, I’d consider it to get the backstrike bonus. Overall, the Wrecker is even better than I’d originally assumed, and I thought the world of him. I do feel that two is mandatory, though, and that’s kinda lame. Being able to piece trade up with him in the early game, and then swing in to clear a zone or take out a second threat is just essential for being able to put pressure on your opponent.
  • The Warden is a fairly good, standard Monstrosity. He has the oomph to take down enough targets that I don’t feel he is wasted being in the back line, and he has the rules to back up his placement as a second wave. Until recently, I’d not realized how trivial it can be to set up a slam, between the feat and TK. This might just turn into a Gladiator style assassin. He also has the potential to clear out zones both with huge slams and two-handed throws, both of which can be invaluable.
  • The Subduer is something I am not as thrilled with as I was initially. It’s got a unique shtick in the army that enabled it to perform some great tasks while I was using it, but he just does not have the piece trade potential that the Wrecker does, he just looses out on too many attacks, an additional point of POW, and his tricks don’t work on Colossals and Gargantuans. Piled onto that, his drag is easily thwarted by positioning, which I would have to pop my feat to undo. Sometimes, its worth it, but most times it is not.He very much seems like a model designed to fit into a three-model-kit heavy as the third model. While he has some good potential, I just keep subbing him out for a Wrecker.

Overall, I am really trying to figure out a way to keep everything and add a fourth Monstrosity. I don’t see how I can do it without causing my list to crumble, bit I think its possible. I could go Double Warden Double Wrecker, but it is most likely to be a Subduer. Those 36 boxes are much hardier than any of my opponents thought, and it almost always required the expenditure of more force than 6 or 7 points warrants.

Solos are the next most potent addition to the way the Cephalyx play this game, even there is really only one, I’ll cover the Dominator here as well as the Cryx Solos.

  • The Agitators are amazing, but surprisingly hard to use. Their Instigation bubble being a Special Action as well as their generally strong desire to be in the second line can sometimes lead to complicated turns with confusing order of operations. TK can help them get into place, but you have to know where you want to place them, as that’s 25% of your focus spent getting +2 to hit and +2 to damage where you want it. Their Sacrificial Pawn comes up rarely other than to be mentioned and then never used, either because the opponent waits until they are far enough away, or just kills them with melee. The 36 boxes just ins’t worth it.
  • The Dominator is a fantastic icing on the Cephalyx Cake. He’s able to take a number of models as his unit, and I really like the skills he is able to bring to the table. I categorically do not like Croes with him, and I swear by both the Tactical Arcanist Corps and the potential of the Nyss Hunters. Nyss provide a much needed two pronged asset coverage with both ranged attacks and pathfinder. Add in Deceleration, and you get a 19/13 model with ranged 12 bows! sounds great to me! The TAC provide the same reach with spells, and a bunker of smoke with smoke grenades.
  • Bloat thralls are, sadly, the same model they have always been. While I don’t think they will never be good, I just can’t find a good way to press whatever advantages they have. Their short range combined with slow speed means that they suffer an inordinate chance of hitting their own troopers with a powerful blast that will in all likelihood, kill them. Failing that, I have to keep any useful troopers outside of 2″ of him, in case the enemy decides to blow him off the board, which they will.
  • Pistol Wraiths, are, thankfully, the same model they have always been. Their ability to shut down heavies and do damage to infantry is fantastic in an army that has very few ways to neutralize something it can’t get to. The pistol wraith, weather singularly or in pairs, has yet to fail me in a game. They might get killed before they do anything, but that is one other model alive with which to cause problems.
  • Machine Wraiths are my surprise of the solo class. I’ve played them in a number of games, and have enjoyed them in almost every aspect. Even when there are no warjacks to take over, there will always be zones to hold an flags to contest. The ability of these little workhorses to do so much for a simple 1 point cost has been a great boon. I highly recommend picking up one or two for every Cephalyx force.

Overall, I think the solo selection is really fantastic. I had hoped that the feat and TK would help out the bloat thrall, but it simply highlighted its inaccuracy and its ability to destroy my own troops.

Units are a pretty simple thing to go over. Thankfully, I’ve been able to use them all extensively.

  • The Mind Slaver and Drudges unit is the main body of work for the army. Not only is it a single power higher, than the Mind Bender Drudges, the unit can charge and still be effective. They are almost always the second unit to activate, with the Mind Benders handing out Adrenal Flood to the foremost Drudges to get awesome charges off, or handing it to the back to get more into range. I keep unnecessarily worrying about their staying power, because MAT 7 P+S 15 is really, really good for a 4/6 unit, and I shouldn’t complain.
  • The Mind Bender and Drudges unit is the engine of the army. They enable clearing of troops, clearing of Jacks, and a ton of other work besides. As I have stated, the ability to get into the way, make attacks, and then be channeled out of the way right afterward is extremely helpful. Their need to put forth spells almost every turn means that this unit will go first and will burn itself up fairly quickly I am very curious to see if two units, and a potential for 6 Adrenal Flood/Psychic Assault/Detonations is worth it for the two more points. I get two more models in the exchange which will equate to two more spells over the course of the game. Extremely curious.
  • Overlords are one of the hate them or love em units in the army. They have been my saving grace, but also my weakness in the list. With the ability to cover almost any situation, they have a ton of capacity to be worth inserting them into every list. The times they become useless, though, they feel like a weight around your neck. I can see how, in areas and metas where Meat Mountain, Fist of Halaak, Runes of War and other multi-wound nastiness, the overlords are not loved. I had them tied up against a unit of Man o War for about an eternity because they just couldn’t break free. I still love them for their potential, but I completely get the strikes against them.

The units are the backbone, where the solos are the ligaments and the Monstrosities the Muscles. I am still tweaking how and what proportion of units I run, and am very solidly considering running 2 mins of each unit for flexibility. It might be terrible, but I am going to have to try it.

Cephalyx 2

Finally, the Brain of the Operation, in both form and function. Exulon Thexus, the Warcaster himself.

  • Exulon is, actually, a lot more passive than I had originally thought. Without an upkeep spell, and without any real answer to guns, he has very little options open to him when it comes to spending focus. Instead of casting a ton of cool spells every turn, I find myself casing Deceleration, fueling one Monstrosity, and either camping the final two, or casting a single TK. I have yet to actually, successfully, cast Influence, but I think that is just a pipe dream anyway. While the option is there, a range 10 spell that requires 3 rolls to succeed and does d3+1 damage to my Monstrosities just doesn’t seem worth it. I will instead just fuel one of said monstrosities up and let them have a go at the same targets, with less dice needing to be rolled. His feat is also coming up surprisingly useless. Maybe its the armies I am fighting or my piss poor timing of the feat, but I’ve not been able to catch a ton of models in the feat that enables me to actually call down the wrath of my army. I’ve got until September to try and get the perfect storm happening. Finally, Rampager has been somewhat of a disappointment, though it could be because I rarely think to use it because of the amount of Warmachine that I end up playing against. If I can ever get a Warpwolf Stalker backwards in front of my army, that’ll be the best day!

The army overall is fairly close to what I expected after reading the spoilers, but has some aspects I didn’t see coming. The Subduer just isn’t pulling its weight, and Thexus, for one, seems to be much less involved in the games I’ve played. I didn’t consider a Hex Blast Assassination as a thing until I did the math, but there are times when it’ll be very good to drop a pile of damage on their caster, provoking a flight or flight. The Warden seems to be the perfect arc node substitute, at 6 points, but his large base size and slow movement are really hampering him from being a good stand in.

I cannot wait for the next caster, and the final reveal of Thexus Theme list. I’m not sold on ambushing Drudges, but I’ll try them a time or two before I put them aside forever and ever. I’m also very likely going to end up picking up another Agitator and two more boxes of Drudges. I do not look forward to painting them, though they will likely be easier now that I have my palate pretty much picked out

If you come down to NOVA, make sure to hunt me down and get a game against the Cephalyx, who will hopefully be fully painted by then. finishing off the Overlords and Agitators sometime this week! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter for random tidbits and updates.

 

This day has finally come.

I knew that it would, one day, happen. I would get the call from a friend and they would let me know that our Relic Knights had delivered, and that I was to come get them. That day was last week, and I have finally gotten around to writing up something on them.

Back in 2012, when the Relic Knights Kickstarter was going on, I wasn’t as versed in Tabletop Games. I’d played 40k and Fantasy and those days were behind me. I was playing Warmachine – a game you undoubtedly know I play still, and had abandoned Malifaux to the hells of 1st/1.5 edition. Infinity had just started to sink its teeth into me, but hadn’t really gotten fully there. I was young and naive, and had some extra money to burn. A friend linked me the kickstarter and I took a look. I wasn’t impressed by the cheesecake style of the models, Its just not a thing I go for. There is a large portion of the player base that is ok with fun models, ones that are carrying a pig, or have their ass in the air or something equally as ridiculous, sexy, strange or funny. I just can’t. I’m exceedingly conservative when it comes to my miniatures, with most of the customization and model choices based on how bad ass they’ll look. This game, I kept looking, was most likely not for me.

But I kept looking, kept coming back, and eventually, I decided I’d have to get something. The concepts were pretty good and a pile of my friends were getting into it. I broke it down to Noh, Doctrine, and the Corsairs. Sadly, Noh was very popular, so they were off the table. Though they were the least cheesecakey and would fit my style of badass model, they would rub against my thoughts of not doubling up factions. Doctrine were the opposite. They were so cheesecakey, so over the top sexual that I just couldn’t justify getting them to myself. The Star Nebula Corsairs were it. They had some pretty solid models with just a little less T&A than some factions.

Once I’d decided on factions, I knew I was going to go all in. I watched the Kickstarters progress creep up and up and up, nearly hitting the million dollar mark, and as it steadily increased, the add-on and stretch goals kept being broken through. Many of the Stretch Goal add-ons were completely worthless to me, and it saddened me to see Super Dungeon Explorer models be added to this game I barely wanted and had tossed money at hoping to see models unlocked.

When the kickstarter finally ended, I tallied up my prize money, sent the check to a friend, and called it a day, waiting patiently for the models to come in. Thankfully, I am a patient man. This kickstarter was the poster child for mismanagement. many people were upset it took so long, but I was ok with it. My money was gone, and I figured I’d get product one day. It was a long wait and now that I have them, I am really happy with them.

So, What did I end up with?

Well.
Star Nebula Corsairs Starter Box, Containing
Harker
Ceaser
Corsairs x5
Broadsides Weapon

Calico Kate
Skully
Wildspace Gabe
Fleshreaper

Corsairs x5B
Blowhards x2
Moffet
Iron Chef
Kenbo
Squall
Darkspace Isabeau
Broadsides Weapon

It was a pretty solid haul for what I put in, and I think it’ll lend itself to a variety of games.

The first thing I tackled was the Relic Knight herself, Calico Kate. I really enjoyed putting the model together, and look forward to painting her up one day. The mold lines were annoying, but no more so than any other model I’ve put together on a larger than 40mm base. I did do one small tweak to the model. I didn’t particularly like the sword over the head, so I brought it down a bit and emphasized the tossing of the grenade.  I even found a use for her alternate pose that I wasn’t going to use at all.

Calico Kate

Calico Kate

Alt pose, but standing on a Slayer head

Alt pose, but standing on a Slayer head

The starter box is the Second thing I put together, and it was fairly simple. The models are the same strange resin/Plastic hybrid that I’ve had to deal with in Privateer models, but were good regardless. I have base inserts for all the models, and keep putting them on the models to make basing them harder and painting the model more tedious, because I’m just no good at this.

Harker is an enormous disappointment, and makes me sad I got the model at all. I hate being so extremely critical over a model that someone put so much time into making, but he is just so uninspired. As a person who enjoys even the Seige and Irusk poses that are static as hell, this one is just not ok. Just not an inspiring model, especially when his art was kinda good.

Capt. Disappointing.

Capt. Disappointing.

The Corsairs are a mess too, honestly, though in a different function. They are duplicate models in a 5 man unit, with two of those models being in stupid poses and/or exceedingly flat, and the other having bunny ears I’ll deal with them, as they are the common foot solider of the force, but I won’t be happy with it. having the second unit just makes me sad. The mold lines on these models weren’t excessive, again, but they are in strange places and make the models somewhat hard to clean.

The Corsair Poses

The Corsair Poses

Broadsides is an infuriating model. Unlike the rest of the models, this one comes with an extraneous stand that seems to be nothing more than a giant test of will, which I failed. The support on the model is so poorly labeled, places and instructed on how to be used that it might as well not even exist. He’s together now, but by no small feat of wonder.

The Broadsides Gun

The Broadsides Gun

I’m overall pleased, but the amount and type of mold lines is bothersome. Its just not as clean as I’d like. I’ve tolerated the PP plastics for a while now because the company has a great name behind it. Soda Pop has not built up such a good bank of will that they can spend it so frivolously at the start. We will see how the rest of the line and the models in the future make it out of production.

 

I look forward to trying these out, but not until September, after the NOVA open and I’ve finished playing my Cephalyx for a bit.

 

 

 

I’ve been playing a ton of Warmachine lately, but its not all I’ve been doing. Its been too hard to keep up with all my hobbies, but I still get in what I can, when I can. I’ve left a bunch of quick events unwritten, and I’d figure I’d try to put them in quick, Wednesday, digest I’m going to call Bitesize Nerd. I’m going to try to keep them under 500 words, just for brevitys sake and for my sanity. I am having trouble finding the time talking about everything I want to as it is – the last thing I need is to spend another few hours a week trying to write more long articles.

So, First off! Conspiracy!

The summer set of magic is generally one that is lighthearted and fun, something that is not tournament legal yet still has an impact on the players through reprints or some other expansion of the non-standard game. They do a similar thing in the fall, and I’ve really enjoyed them, in theory. A few weeks ago I was able to experience this event as I think it was always intended to be.

Last years Modern Masters showed that people love to draft one off and strange sets designed exactly for that purpose. This year, Conspiracy turned that concept on its head, bringing a set that messed with the drafting mechanic itself. My brother bought a box and quickly drafted it, but then he started constructing a cube out of the drafted box. A cube is a self made set of cards that is meant to be quickly drafted and played, and maintained by its owner. Cubes started out as a way to get the most powerful, absurd combos and cards into play that normally would not see play in a draft, and has blossomed and exploded since then.

The Conspiracube had input from friends, and we all kind of built the card list together. Its a non-standard cube in that it is not singleton, with only one of each card, but is a standard booster style draft with commons, uncommons and rares. When we finally sat down to draft, we had what we thought would be a pretty awesome set, and we weren’t to far off.

The first draft I ended up going with a Red – Blue burn/tempo deck that just wasn’t able to get off. All I needed was 5 mana, and I’d be able to drop a 6/6 Lurking Automaton, backed up by Secret Summoning. Alas, my deck only provided me 4 mana, and I was unable to contest with a pile of Ally tokens and my brothers giant wall of cards.

The second time, I was able to draft a pretty solid blue – something deck, but the other color never got on a roll. I ended up dropping 4  Marchesa’s Emissary on the board with three Muzzio’s Preparations, but was unable to get past that state and one of the guys came over to top to end me, first out of the game!

Whats really cool about Conspiracy, especially in cube, is that unlike normal drafts, it works extremely well when playing with just about any number of players. They mentioned in one of their articles that it works best with 4-5 players per game, which means that a drafting group of 3,4,5,6 and 8 all work extremely well. 7 is strange, but that’s OK – don’t have 6 other friends.

After the first test run of the draft, there was a ton of conversation and dissection of the cube into what was good, bad and terrible. I’;m really excited to play again with the new version we’ve all thrown in to create, and its likely to end up one of the most fun games, let alone cubes I ever play, and man has it got me excited to build my own Ravnica Cube.

Follow me on Twitter, @seethingginger, for even more nerdings and happening!

This weekend I was lucky enough not only to get two games in against people I’d never played before, but also to run my first tournament in nearly a year.

I’m running the events at the NOVA open this year, and that includes a first ever Iron Gauntlet (non-qualifying) event. In order to both drum up interest and to get some practice for the tournament, I set up a tournament in a similar style at my local store, Titan Games and Hobbies. I was only able to get about 3 weeks notice on the event, but I still felt that it was worth running.

That morning, 8 gentlemen slowly trickled into the store at 10am to do battle. We had a varying assortment of Factions, with only one being duplicated.

Retribution of Scyrah
Cygnar
Khador
Convergance
Trollbloods
Mercenaries
Protectorate x2

with only 8 players, we decided to go with 2 50 point rounds and a 75 pointer for the finale. This allowed the feelling of a small Iron Gauntlet without having enough players. It was a simple affair, but the guys had a ton of fun.

Round 1
Borka Family Reunion v. High Reclaimer
Constance Blaize v. Feora 2
Stryker 2 v. Father Lucant
Vlad v. Vyros

Trollbloods, Protectorate, Cyngar and Khador advanced

Round 2
McBain v. Kreoss 3
Aurora v. Kaeylssa
Jarl v. Severius
Seige v Irusk 2

Mercenaries, Convergence, Protectorate and Cygnar each registered wins, with a final round pairing of Cygnar v. Protectorate in the works.

The 75 point round was a huge success, and I could really see this type of format continuing. It allows a much greater breadth of models and tactics than is normally available, but it also has a strange warping effect on the casters. As I’ve heard on a number of podcasts, the casters that are good at 50 don’t always transfer over to 75 well.

In the end, the Protectorate player ended up taking down Stryker 2 with a giant, flame-belching Feora 2 list. It was a treat to run the show for these guys, as it always is, and I look forward to seeing many of the same guys down at NOVA at the end of the month.

While all of that was going on, though, I was able to get a quick 35 point game in against my Co-TO. I was using Cephalx, of course, and he brought along trolls. 35 is always hard for me, as I feel that 50 is the most balanced and feels much more rounded. You have answers, and your opponent has answers, and you have, for the most part, to outplay your opponent in order to win. There are some heavy skews, I will admit. For the most part, however, it feels more like a game and less like Rock-Paper-Scissors.

He brought

Grim Angus+6
*Dire Troll Mauler9
*Troll Axer6
*Troll Impaler5
Sluggers (3)5
Champions (3)6
Bushwackers (6)5
Raluk Moorclaw2
*Buccanneer3
41 points

And I made the following.

Exulon Thexus+5
*Wrecker7
*Wrecker7
*Warden6
Mind Benders (10)6
Mind Slavers (10)6
Pistol Wraith3
Machine Wraith1
Agitator2
Agitator2
40 points

At 35, I feel really vulnerable. I have to drop out most of my support and it feels really bad. Pistol Wraith, Agitator, TAC, a Machine Wraith and the Overlords mean that I have to rely on my Monstrosities to pull the majority of the workload. While they are good at that, it means I am very much on dimensional and extrememly subject to bad matchups.

Thankfully, I was able to send my wrecker into his mauler on the top of turn 2 and make a giant pile of quivering meat of him. That really enabled me to be able to take the game into my hands and force trades in my favor. It took forever, but I ended up chewing through the extremely dense army until I was able to force a victory. I don’t remember exactly what happened at the end there, but I remember reducing the Troll army down to the Impaler, Grim, and a single Champion. Thexus was able to take away the win, but only just barely.

The next game I played was after the tournament ended. A nice young kid is getting into protectorate and the game, and wanted to play a quick game. I obliged, because hey, teaching new people is fun! He ended up having 26 points of models he was able to toss together, So I just matched the total.

His models: 

Feora II+6
*Vanqisher8
*Crusader6
*Repenter4
*Revenger6
Choir of Menoth (6)3
26 points

and mine: 

Exulon Thexus+5
*Wrecker7
*Wrecker7
*Warden6
Mind Slavers (10)6
26 points

I wasn’t extremely confident in my list, but I was very confident that I was gonna club this baby seal. I was intent on teaching him a few things about the game along the way, as well, but I was pretty confident I’d carry home his head.

We started with a simple explanation of the game mechanics, with him taking his first turn to look over his spells, discover Escort, and send his warjacks on their merry way. As we were doing all this we slowly gathered a few players who were also watching and gave helpful hints to him along the way. I knew I was doomed at that point, as playing against committee is just a doomed endeavor.

We took the first two turns to get into position so that we could get a good bead on each other and get to clobberin’ time. He learned about the awesomeness of Telekinesis, the usefulness of judging distances, and the great role that the leader possess in a unit. He got first blood, sending a Battled Repenter into my Slaver drudges, targeting a guy beyond the 8″ reach, and burned a whole set of em. I was able, however, to get the second blow in. I charged with my Drudges into the Crusader and the Repenter, doing a bit of damage, and then Feated. Thexus pulled the Crusader into range of the Subduer,  the Vanquisher and the Revenger were likewise pulled into range of the Wrecker.

Sadly, though, the Subduer, after a netgun and three pow 18 attacks, came up short on the Crusader, leaving it with an Ignited mace and its Cortex as its only remaining boxes (2). The Wrecker, my next best option, managed to roll a pair of snake Eyes while agitated to leave the Vanquisher at pretty decent health. With the Warden in reserve, and the rest of my models ready to be totaled in retaliation, I knew it was going to be an uphill climb. The Crusader easily handled the Subduer, and the Vanquisher dispatched the Wrecker, with a little help from the Revenger.

But I was still in the game! His vanquisher was in line with his caster, and I had a warden. I used Telekinesis on the Warden and the reveneger to get them into place, and set up the slam.  Slamming for free with the Warder is an awesome benefit, and I used it to my advantage. With a fully loaded head of steam, I needed anything but 1 on the distance, due to Grand Slam, and I’d be able to unload on a knocked down Feora.

The dice are rolled, and again they come up snake eyes. All I can do is laugh at this point, as the Vanquisher beats my Warden to death, and then Epic Feora move + fire steps up to catch Thexus in a flamethrower range, setting him on fire and doing 6 damage to him. I then cook for another 5 the next round, leaving me with 4 HP away from death. I Have a last ditch effort, tossing 2 Hex Blasts into her face, boosting the damage, but I leave her at 4 HP and she takes me out the next turn.

It was a good game, and I am sure that a dude playing his second game got a ton of fun out of it. If only I’d have been able to teach the new guy about slams, Follow up, knockdown, and auto hitting attacks.

Ah well!

 

y, I was asked a simple question, mostly off the cuff, by a friend of mine.

“Random speculation time: Who do you think we’ll get for ‘casters in the next Warmachine book (since the Hordes one seems to be locked up)? I don’t feel like they’re going to pull the trigger on any new ‘casters, so I think it’s going to be more epics, but I’m having a hard time guessing who.”

This simple questions got my mind churning. What are the next casters, and how are they going to shape the game? What characters are the closest, in fluff terms, of being promoted to Epic?

Off the top of My head, I was able to go through this list

I really don’t want to see them go back to the well for epics, though it makes sense at this point. Supposedly, this is the “Legends” of MK II – The end and culmination of the stories leading so far. That leads me too completely insanely guess the following:
Cygnar: Haley 3 – She’s been poisoned and out of it for a while while Stryker and Nemo take the fore. With her final recovery, she heads back into combat, aware that Deneghra, now alive, is plotting.

I really think this is likely. With the amount of time that Privateer has spent on Haley, for her to be out of the story this long is ludicrous. She has to come back soon, and I can’t see a reason why it won’t be now. Her poisoning has only driven her desire to return to the battlefield.

Khador: Strakov 2 – He’s hunted down Karchev and has returned its hero to his country. Now, given greater leeway and force allocation, he’s able to drive deep into the enemy with complete abandon.

I think that this is a good time to try and bring Strakov, who the story writers seem to really enjoy, into the big time. Toting Karchev back to the motherland, alone and through the heart of the enemy territory should grant him a singular hero status. Strakov – Savior of the Motherland has a fantastic ring to it.

Only the Greatest heroes get parades like this!

Only the Greatest heroes get parades like this!

Protectorate:Feora 3: Taking control of the the whole of the flameguard and forcing the southern protectorate to declare her “Protector of the South” she sets of on a campaign of destruction against the Cygnaran south.

I think this is something that’s been building for a few books. Her interaction with Vinters minions and her open disdain for Severius has lead her down an irredeemable path. She sees herself as the Protector and Defender of the Protectorate itself, she will cause a huge schism with her hubris.

Cryx: Deneghra 3 – Culmination of plans enables her to achieve whatever status she’s been searching for, though her complete plans are thwarted by Haley somehow, because Haley

I think its past time for Deneghra to Level Up again, and it would be perfect to pair it with her sister. I’m terrible at guessing twists and turns in plot, so I expect it to be something cool, but I have no idea what it is. I do expect, however, that it will be thwarted. Its starting to be that time.

Ret: New Caster, enabling a form of gameplay that Ret neither likes nor wanted.

Man, I wish I had a better answer, but its almost exactly what I expect of the younger child. eventually you grow out of it (mercs) but the young ones always act weird to the old folks.

Mercs: Magnus 3. The Civil war for King Vinter starts again, thrusting Magnus and his mercenary army into the forefront of combat once again.

I cannot wait for this. It has to happen sometime. His story has been building, he is going around preparing for Vinters Return. My favorite Merc characters revolve around him as well, so I hope to see more of Saxon and Orin.

However, I am not convinced that they’ll go strictly on story. Sometimes, Epics have come out of nowhere, with Borka 2, Reznik 2, and Butcher 3 kinda coming out of nowhere. If we were to go with casters I’d be interested in seeing go epic, I vomited out these: Sloan 2, Sorcha 3, Thyra 2, Skarre 3, Garryth 2, Gorten 2. Each of those characters are compelling on their own, though not always great on the tabletop, and I’d like to see what type of design or character space they’d entail.

My friend responded with a number of affirmations, and some thoughts of his own:

Cygnar: Agreed. Dark horse potential for Constance, though I think that’s unlikely.

I’d not thought of Constance, and that would be extremely legit. I look forward to seeing her epic form, one day!

Khador: Agreed, kinda. My gut says “here comes Sorscha3 or Irusk3” because of course. Strakov’s got a good dark horse bid though.

I could stomach Sorscha 3, but Irusk going epic because of defeat would be way to much like his standard epic incarnation. I’d be sad to see them retread that ground.

Protectorate: Agreed, yet again. No dark horses stand out because Protectorate fluff is crazy limited in who gets screen time.

There is one standout, though, and we’ll get to that one later.

Cryx: Agreed. Dark horse potential for Skarre3, because 3 is “in” this year.

Its the same thing I felt when writing the initial go through. Skarre 3 would, I think, be a ton cooler, but Deneghra 3 seems more right.

Ret: Will be totally true until someone like Pagiani wins 3 Masters in a row with the new ‘caster, then everyone will C&P his list forever (even past when it’s really useful in the meta, thus proving them “right” in the long game.) I feel like any of the Forces ‘casters are very likely for an Epic, just because people seem to like Epics.

If its not Garryth, it better be Rhan. Epic Rhan will be amazing, I’d think, and I would have to pickup the whole faction. Crazytalk, that would be. Garyth’s jack gives me hope.

Garreth Jack

Maybe? Who knows.

Mercs: If this book doesn’t give us Magnus3 or at least Gorten2, I’m going to be fucking stunned. That pot has been on the burner for way, way too long now.

100 times yes. GIVE ME MAGNUS 3, DC! LOWREY, DO YOU HEAR ME!

In my heart of hearts, I want PP to corkscrew everyone and fill this book with Apotheosis epics: Darius2, Karchev2, Harby2, Termnius2. There’s no practical reason why they can’t do that anymore (‘caster power level isn’t a factor, alternate materials make it much more cost feasible,) and indeed they’ve written some mighty goddamn good fluff reasons as to why at least two of those all but have to happen at some point.

I cannot put enough Oomph behind this concept. Each of those casters has pleny of following and plenty of character within them to force Epic without missing a beat. Terminus has been defeated twice now in this body, and he can’t be too pleased about it. Darius had to abandon his armor and spend a ton of time crafting the Stormwall, give him screen time! Harbinger is now out and about int he world, moving and shaking it and creating a new vision of the Protectorate, A Queen not dark but beautiful and terrifying. Finally, Karchev has been torn out of his suit, tortured, drug across a continent and nearly killed, and he still has not given in. The powerful, unstoppable caster should be rewarded with a new set of armor and set on Khadors enemies like a storm of vengeance.

Karchev, Storm of Vengeance – Epic Khadoran Warcaster

SPD:6
STR:8
MAT:7
RAT:4
DEF:13
ARM:19
COM:9
FOCUS: 6
HP:22
Weapon: Greataxe – P+S 14 – Kockdown
Weapon: Greatshield – P+S 10
Field Marshal: Critical Brutal Damage
Warjack Bond: Bloody Spectacle: When a model bonded to Karchev boxes a model, remove it from play. If the model is part of the unit, that unit must immediately make a command check or flee
Rage of the Motherland – When this model is an offensive spells point of origin, that spells damage rolls are boosted.
Survivor – if this model is destroyed, this model instead heals a number of Health equal to any focus on the model, and then remove one focus from this model.

Spells:
Ground Zero
Death Knell
Iron Agression
Surefoot
Tyranny of Gears – Warjacks in this models battlegroup gain +2 speed and boosted melee attacks. Warjacks in this models battlegroup that charge, run, slam, trample or make a melee attack suffer d3 damage at the end of their activation.

Feat: Limitless Strength models in this models battlegroup currently in its control area gain +4 Strength and Follow Up. Models activating in this models control that declare a Powerstrike, Slam Revisited or Slam Power attacks gain +2 to the distance Slammed. A model that throws or slams a model may move directly towards that model the distances thrown or slammed after resolving the attack.

I’ve gotten my relic knights in, but an burning away at painting my Cephalyx for the Nova Open. I will do a complete unboxing and pictures and everything, soon enough!