The Alchemical Guardian, Vol. 2: The Flying Men and SR

This year, I’m going to try picking up another faction in Warmachine, I’ve wanted to play Crucible Guard for a while now and it seems like my falling out of love with Cryx is an excellent opportunity to try them out!

The Tournament

The two lists I talked bout last month were, with but little inconsequential changes, the lists I took to the tournament. 15 people showed up, and we were in for 4 rounds. This was great, as I’d get to see how the list stacked up over the course of a number of games.

I knew that I was going to only use one list (Flying High!) the whole time, but having the other list there was a solid comfort in case something happened where I felt that I wasn’t going to be able to play them at all, but that never occurred, and I played the McKay list all three times – spoiler warning – because I did so bad that I got the final bye.

I’m not going to do a round by round – I don’t think that’d do anyone including myself any real good, but I still want to talk about my overall experience with CG, first, and then SR as a whole – Which will likely overflow into Aprils article.

On Crucible Guard

I’ve become That Guy, and I do feel a little bad about it. There were a number of times where I was able to simply blast off entire, or near entire units, without much reprisal. It not only felt dirty, but I could see it affecting my opponents, too. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable. However, the work that the Rockemen were able to do was astounding to me, and I think with a bit more practice, I could easily find myself doing well with them.

Similarly, the Railless were able to lay down a simply immense amount of ranged firepower, and both jacks I had in the list were, after a few times getting them wrecked, contribute in significant ways. The list felt much, much better than a simple meme list I thought it was, and though it has a lot of holes, I do think that the right list to pair it with will make it a force to be reckoned with.

The Faction, with the little interactions I got with it, feels extremely fun. There were choices to be made every turn, and though it ate up the clock, I felt good making these types of complicated, detailed choices. It is one of the things I like about turn-based games, as they allow me to react immediately to a failed plan, as opposed to watching my opponent capitalize on it without any chance for me to recover. These choices with the CG were all about covering each other model, making sure that the foundations were there prior to moving forward, and making sure that the right abilities are activated in the right order. it was super rewarding when it worked, but also a bit of a bummer when it failed because then my plan would crumble before my eyes.

For McKay, she is a super-active caster that gets to lob shells every round, participate in clearing the lines, and has a hell of a toolkit simply on her model. That says nothing of me using her too aggressively, as she was killed in two of the three games, and the only reason she wasn’t in the third was that the terrain and scenario pieces were such that I couldn’t get her through the center of the board. I clearly was too aggressive with her, but there is a certain charm to having the tank clear the way.

I played against Skorne, Cephalyx, and Circle, and had a good time with all three games. I expect this more as I surf to the bottom than I would if I was climbing the ranks. Games tend to get more contentious the further up the ladder you go.

Overall, CG was a blast to play, and I really liked the list and how it performed. Each loss helped me understand better what the list was capable of, and where its deficiencies are. The whole tournament was a great time with some great people. That said, there are problems that I noticed as I was playing that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I lost the first and second games to Assassination, which was rough as hell because I thought my caster was durable, which wasn’t the case as much as I thought, and I lost the last one on clock, which was mildly frustrating because I felt I was playing a solid, paced game that was achieving its goal. Turns out that wasn’t true. However, I do have to say …

SR Sucks

I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons I don’t like modern Warmachine is the SR packet. It’s the driving force behind the Warmachine scene and even casual nights are dominated by its overbearing prevalence. Coming up in the game, and growing and evolving with it, I enjoyed the hell out of steamroller games for quite some time. However, its recent iterations have been irritating in a number of ways, and each of them builds on the other to make the entire packet an overbearing and onerous cancer that spoils my enjoyment of the game.

While playing yesterday, there was very little overall attention paid to the scenario in any of my games, and this was something I was conscious of, especially after the first game, where it became obvious that the game was better for both of us because the scenario was ignored.

I am definitely going to have to break down my loathing of the SR packet in another post, but here is my fairly brief tirade.

Steamroller being the only regularly supported and playable everyday format warps the nature of the game. While there are other formats, they don’t have the ubiquity and power of the SR rules, as well as the community surrounding it. Reading the Warmachine rules gives you an idea of how the game is played that is unrealistic given the current systems in place. This often means that many of the lessons and skills that a casual, basement player obtains during their time playing the game before showing up at game night or to a tournament are of relatively low use.

I agree that all the changes made to steamroller make sense at the time, and further the enjoyment of the game for a significant amount of people, and is the driving and sustaining force behind an immensely popular competitive tournament scene that continues to thrive. I do not think that SR is the devil, and should be struck down without recourse. I do think that it has warped the game to a point that I no longer either enjoy playing the format or have enjoyable thoughts about playing the game outside of being in the moment of actually playing the game. MKIII has not gone beyond one of my initial criticisms: MKIII Is a hell of a lot of fun to play, but miserable to think about.

One of the things that I think my Glory Days of Warmachine had was the grinding obsession about what to play, how to play, and what to do to be better. The constant awareness, when I wasn’t actively involved in a game, that there was a game on the horizon I could look forward to a play with zeal. Now, between a lack of time to simply grind out reps and an inability to process the simply unfathomable number of interactions within the game currently, I find the added layer of complexity that is SR to be an onerous and weighty addition I simply no longer need to enjoy the game.

To that end, though, I do think that I will be giving some of my headspaces to creating a casual format for that plenty of us disaffected, who I know personally and have heard are out there from multiple outlets, and new players a place to either start with, or step down to, as needed. I’ll lay out my philosophies, my decisions, and many of the options I have to achieve this.

This isn’t a completely watertight argument against SR, I know that and I’m not going to spend the time here defending all my dislikes, I’ll make sure to do that in another post.

Until next time,