A new age us upon us!
2015, even though we are just barely 2 months in, has brought with it some major changes to both warmachine and hordes. While the latest errata came and changed how Shifting Stones will be used for the rest of eternity and SR 2015 has come down the pipe with new, useable objectives and changes to a number of scenarios.
First, and to me the least relevant, is the Shifting Stones Errata. I don’t know that there is a lot I can say on the topic that already hasn’t been hashed out on the forums, the local stores and on Podcasts. What I will say is that I know the feeling. When Apshyxious 2 was nerfed for the final time, to eliminate Officers, Solos and Unit attachments, I took it a bit hard. I didn’t think the amount of nerf was needed, nor that it made sense. I get it. But eventually I just didn’t care. I’ll play Asphyxious 2 anytime I want and feel alright about it, but my opponent on the other side won’t feel terrible about it, so I am now OK with how it all works out. I was listening to Epic Flail a few days back, and they had a comment by Will and Ed that one of the goals of Warmachine is to enable the player (on both sides) to be able to act. One of the things that struck them about the double-teleport was that it took away the ability to act from one player, and if they were off even 1/2″, then the game would end right there on the spot. I know, I’ve had it done. To Asphyxious 2. This is crippling to an opponents ability to play the game and enjoy themselves, and as much as people embrace the game for its ruthlessness and brutality, there is also that aspect that players have to have fun. Malifaux didn’t change editions because its rules were balanced and everyone was having fun, wanting to force their players through the tumultous times that are those changes. Instead, they decided to make a game that was a little more on the fun side and a little less on the crazy. I think it worked.
All that said, though, and it will have very little affect on me. I play against circle fairly often, but many of those opponents that I have played were not double-teleporting. It was either because I killed a stone and they weren’t able too, or I played cautious enough that I wasn’t in range. Its a huge change for circle, but I think some of their opponents are overstating the effect that it will bring on the game as a while. When it happened, it was devastating, but it wasn’t happening enough that all players will feel it equally. It took a lot of practice to be able to exactly judge that 1/8″ that you walked forward too much and take you down.
There were other interesting clarifications and changes, but nothing else that changes the way the games power level. I thought it was interesting, and I look forward to playing Bradigus and Wake of Destruction one day without feeling bad.
SR2015 has continued the scenario shrink down to 8. As a tournament organizer, I appreciate that, as it creates a slightly more simplistic setup and breakdown of a tournament table. However. as a player I am a touch disappointed. There isn’t that much variation between scenarios, and they all feel a bit more central than last year. I get it, though. Its much easier all around to have this type of breakdown. 5 have objectives, 4 are killbox, 3 use no zones, and four use Rectangle Zones. I am actually extremely bothered that only one scenario uses circular zones, and that it uses two. I have to cut, carry and lug around two 12″ circles just for this! Its almost not worth it.
Though the scenarios are mostly a wash in my mindset, the objectives are more contentious. I have strong feelings in both directions on this, and I don’t know what I really think about this new element, how it changes the game, and the ramifications that it will have down the line.
The objections that I have to the objectives are simple balance questions. If the game is balanced, without the objectives, why would you introduce them and unbalance the game? It doesn’t make any sense to me. When it was part of the scenario, I understood, because it was hard to take advantage of them, and when you did, you should be rewarded. Now, however, you can build lists around your objective and gain significant advantages, or you can take a list that has a little bit of a weakness and shore it up a bit.
On the other hand, the objectives are cool, and I like that they have an impact on the game now. Where once you could have easily just ignored that they ever exist, you now have another choice in your list building phase, one that can very easily move your whole list in an unexpected direction. I think both views have merit, and I have both at once. I love and hate them, and I don’t know where I’ll eventually fall on them, If I am completely honest.
ADR though, Is one of the best things I think has ever come around. Its something that shakes up the game without really changing the rules and enables lesser casters, if implemented right, to be given new life. I love specialist, and I really think its how the game needs to go if it is going to move forward. Its just that set of rules and circumstances that allows a good game to become a great game. What specialists allows is a player to be able to play into a better game than he would have otherwise have had when faced with something his list is only moderately prepared to do, because it is more adept at that facet of the game 70% of the time. ADR takes that one step further by allowing a select set of casters – those on the ADR, or Active Duty Roster, to take 20 points of specialists, but only if both of your casters in the pair are from the ADR. Each Faction has 4 casters on the ADR. One is solid, two seem to be OK, and one is clearly a bottom-rung. This allows these casters, those that would normally be left on the shelf when it comes time to write up lists to have an intriguing dynamic that might force you to take a second look at them.
When everyone has specialists, there is a certain amount of swapping out that every army is going to have, with each trying to gain on each other in order to make a better game. I think that this is an improvement overall, as I predict that this will skew the game more toward the center, with each list trying to out-list the other. With ADR, however, either both lists are going to have the ability to massivly change direction, or one list will. Both armies equals out just fine, but one list having over 40% of a second list waiting in the wings is extremely powerful. Showing a Colossal and then when they play their anti-armor list subbing in 20 points of Infantry is the easiest and most obvious, as goes for the inverse. However, there are many ways of making this work. Vorkesh is my favorite Specialist, as are models with Anatomical Precision. Cryx has many soul collection abilities, but sometimes run afoul of lists with no souls in them.
There are so many ways that you can change your list up for certain caster match ups, certain scenarios and certain troop lists that the possibilities are endless. Now, to qualify for one of those elusive Masters tournaments I keep hearing about.