The Necrotechs Workshop LXIII: Lock and Load!

Each of the last 6 years, I’ve been to Lock and Load in Seattle, Privateer Press’s hometown convention, and one that showcases the work they are doing each year, and previews the year to come. This year, I stayed at home. This is the news coming out, and What I think of it going forward.

Missing Seattle

this year, as you can likely tell from my last article, I wasn’t really feeling like taking a trip across the country to participate in a game I wasn’t over the moon about, to put it lightly. This has been the first year that I have had to sit on the sidelines and absorb the information coming in just like everyone else. Let me tell you, though. I miss the people and playing games and doing all sorts of nonsense. It was fun, and I’ll definitely be returning in 2020, especially with all the rumors and information swirling about what is going to go in in the next 12 months. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Warmachine and Hordes

First things first, let’s see if I can cobble together all the information into one place so that I can make sure I hit it all.

  • Riot Quest will release ~30 figures, each of which will be playable models in Warmachine.
  • Oblivion will be pre-released at GenCon, in a box set including The Hermit of Henge Hold, The Oblivion book with all the new models, the Campaign Book and Campaign Cards, and a new, updated rules digest.
  • The Rules Digest will contain all of the errata, as well as a number of streamline changes, which will include a change to how Theme Forces work, as well as the removal of elevation
  • No New Faction for 2020.

First, before we begin breaking down what is going on, I want to say that I have not more than a little salt regarding the quantity of Cryx releases lately. After the initial purchase spree of 2018 following the Black Fleet CID – Which was Great, we have received very little in terms of models and updates. Elish, Rahera, the Hermit of Henge Hold and the Void Archon, as well as a dabbling of Talion and Steelhead Mercs, are about it. Even going with all that, it feels like Cryx – and I can imagine the Hordes players like Troolbloods and Legion, are really left out. That’s fine. We’ll get through it, but it is there, and it colors the perception of a few things out there.

Now, we can start gobbling up this delicious news!

First, let’s get to the really juicy and fun stuff. The Themes!

Mark 3.5

No matter what Privateer Press wants, this revamp is going to be looked at as a benchmark in the timeline of Warmachine and Hordes. It has the look and feel of the Mk I Prime: Remix, and it is a justifiable comparison. Remix added all the errata to date and streamlined a few things in the process. Sound familiar? What is coming, you say if you’ve lived under a rock or are simply tired?

The Oblivion Box set that comes out in September comes out with a Campaign Book (let’s compare this to MKI Escalation, shall we, as the early books were all campaign books), a Miniature (The Hermit of Henge Hold) the Campaign System, the Campaign Cards and a revised rules digest.

The Oblivion book is clearly the standout product, and it is what the whole box is named after. It is the response to the Infernal Invasion and the Claiming, where the infernals intend to gather up 2/3rds of the human souls of Immoren. That is pretty bad. It contains a number of mercenary models for every faction (the Archons) as well as Order of Illumination and a select few other models to fill out the ranks. It also contains, hopefully, a solid campaign.

What really grabs the Warmachine Worlds attention, though, is the revised rules digest. Not only does it contain all of the errata through the years (you can look at it here), which is currently a 9-page document, but it also contains some streamlining of the rules in pretty specific ways. They only touched on a couple.

  • Warbeast Packs are becoming Lesser Warbeasts that come in multiples.
  • Hills/Elevation is being removed
  • Themes are getting a makeover.

These all have varying impact on the game, but it’s not none. Warbeast packs have rules that simply don’t matter in the grand scheme of things while taking up a solid chunk of space. Now, with them being lesser warbeasts that come as a single choice, it can really allow a greater flexibility with how they are chosen and played. Hopefully, this helps them out, because they are underutilized and underloved. I think I lost one of mine, and never took notice.

Hills/Elevation going away is an interesting change. Arcing Fire is a powerful rule, as is an additional +2 defense for being on a hill, but the problems it caused (everyone having LOS to you, models tipping over, 2d terrain templates) makes one wonder if they are worth the price of admission. Honestly, I see both sides. There are very cool things you can do with hills and elevation, but there are also issues that cause headaches and problems for learning the game. As a Judge, I know its a pain no matter what, and has been since “toeing” hills back in MKI was a thing.

Hungerford has mentioned that they will address abilities which give you hills, elevation, and any other rule that is being removed and that they will not simply be losing an ability. This is something I would expect applies to any other changes they are making in the rulebook, though I’ve not heard of anything else being changed.

Lastly, before we get to the themes, There is a solid rumor going around that there is going to be a fairly large dynamic update in the near future that is going to include a wide swath of point changes as well as typical dynamic updates. One of the rumors – fed by Hungerford on the Iron Gauntlet Stream – is that Iona is going to get a little tap by removing Phantasm and replacing it with something else. Also, the Lord of the Feast, the rumor mill says, is receiving a reduction in either melee range (1″) or Raven range (8″) either one of those is fine, but he probably doesn’t need both.

With all of that pre-amble out of the way, let’s take a look at the Big Deal

Theme Lists Revisited

This is a big one. Huge. I do not want to understate how massive I think this is going to be. It is damned revolutionary, to be honest.

There are a few changes coming to theme lists in the new rulebook.
Themes will no longer need a specific threshold of points to get Free Models
You will get free models based on the Points Size of the game being played.
Many bonuses that affect initial engagement are rumored to be removed
Some Themes are being combined into a new, and different theme.

Let’s break them down.

Before we get into the changes, I do want to address something that Will said in the keynote. First, your models will still be playable in their themes. I don’t know how that works with merging themes, but I’ll take him at his word. If two themes merge, the models from both will be viable in the new theme. The second thing he stated is that most theme bonuses will remain. However, as there are on average 4 themes per faction, and there are ~14 factions. so 56 themes (give or take, as I am just doing quick math.) if only 10% of those change, we’re looking at 5-6 themes changing or losing benefits, which will feel pretty hefty.

The theme changes are as follows:

Instead of each theme list dictating a specific set of models that need to be taken in specific intervals to achieve free models, armies will receive requisition points based on the size of the game they are playing. under 25 points, with each full 25 points of game size up to 75 points getting you 1 requisition point. we do not know about larger than 75 point games.

You would expect that Requisition points are analogous to the free models you receive, and you would be mostly correct, but there are some differences. The example that floated across the screen was this:

The requisition points are spent on:
One Circle Command Attachment
Two Blackclad Stone Shaper Solos
Three Gallows Grove Solos
One other small or medium based solo without the lesser warlock special rule.

This is a robust selection of models. The Blackclad Solos are each worth 3 points, the Gallows grove is each worth 2. Command attachments range from 2 to 5 points, and solos range from 2 to 8 points. This seems like it’s trying to encourage specific solos/choices as better per points, while still allowing enough flexibility for choice. I think this is a great thing. If this is also what happens to other choices, like Necrotechs and Soul Trappers, I would be very excited to see where this goes.

Requisition points are replacing free stuff, which is great in and of its own as it seems to be streamlining free model selection overall, but it also has the added benefit of freeing up a splendid quantity of list building options. Before (Currently?) there are three taxes in place on your models, limiting your choices. Theme Tax: Where you are limited to only the models in your theme when building an army. This is the basic tax we all have come to accept, if not embrace, as the cost of playing the game. Your list of models allowed in each theme is rarely large. Then we pay the Qualifying Model Tax: Where certain models contribute to the possible free cards in the list, enabling the strongest theme benefits to come to bear in simply allowing more points onto the board. Finally, we have the Tier Tax: Where the total of the Qualifying models is calculated and the quantity of free models is determined by how many points you spent on Qualifying models.

It’s not a perfect system, and it sounds much more complex than it actually is, and it seemed fine at the time it was implemented. However, it leads every list build to chase the most free points possible, which then lead to an extreme restriction on list building. Instead of starting off with your army list and seeing how many free cards you received for it, you would build your army in reverse. The first calculation one would make with a list would be how many free cards you could mathematically receive. Then you would work your list to create that specific number of qualified models, and whatever was left over was your wiggle room. Sometimes this was maddening because you have a fantastic combination that was 14 points, but the room in the list for non-qualifying points was limited to 13. Dropping a card and losing another 3-7 point is likely not worth the fantastic combination, so it would never see the light of day.

This worked doubly in the face of mercenaries, who could rarely qualify for free cards and would often cost you one when you took them. Now, you can take your full allotment of mercenary models, or even a battle engine, if it suits you, and not feel the sting of removing cards from your list. The Opportunity cost was simply never worth it. Go ahead, Take that 16 point unit, that 17 point battle engine and that 6 point solo. It’s not going to cost you anything! Lastly, there were many high points cost models that suffered from this, with a number of colossals being the primary offenders. If I wanted to run a Kraken with Deneghra 1, it was going to cost me at least one card, if not two, and that was really sad. Now, Large cost models and mercenaries are not going to eat into your free cards, allowing a revolution in list building.

Combine the relief in list building strangulation with the news (rumor?) that many of the engagement influencing abilities (+1 to go first, +2″ to deployment zone, advanced move for models) are being cut, and you no longer have a need to shoehorn yourself into lists that get the “best” bonuses and engage faster than anyone else. It’ll be nice to add a turn to the game.

This brings us to the known changes, and they are few and far between. I’ve only heard rumors, which I’ve gathered here:

Winds of Death and Masters of War combine (Skorne)
Disciples of Agony opened up to all casters (Skorne)
OR – Disciples of Agony and Imperial War Host are being combined.
– Blood Runners get native Ambush
Black Industries and Infernal Machines Combine (Cryx)
– carapace changing to work only on ranged attacks.
Two Themes for Legion combining into one
– Changes to Hellmouths rumored as well.

Honestly, its a lot to take in, and I’m sure more will come out in the days to come. I’m extremely excited about the new world of list building (NWLB) that is coming, and what it will bring to factions. I’ve already looked and it is possible that there are 13 points of flex in Ghost fleet that never existed, and even more in lists like Black Industries/Infernal Machines and Slaughter Fleet. Scaverous with Croe’s is going to be great again, as I can also take Wrong Eye and Snap Jaw in the same list.

It feels like they are taking steps to kill theme lists without absolutely mercing them. The lists are now defined by their models, their bonuses, and their free options, which feels right. they aren’t defined by how many X you can cram into a Y numbered hole. I do hope they take the time and take some sandpaper to a few of the themes as well, addressing logical inconsistencies as well as other burrs that let you know that the system was added during the late stages of the creation of this edition. Anyway, Enough actual Warmachine. Let’s talk Absurdoquest! er, Riotquest.

Riotquest

While I am extremely grateful that the company is very self-aware that the announcement of Riot Quest did not go over well last year, I still don’t care about this game at all. Not one Iota. In my mind, it’s a dubious side game at best set in an alternate reality that doesn’t appeal to me and its got more whimsey than I can handle. If I’m being honest about the whimsey, though, I can’t handle pretty much any. I hate it. It’s not me. Warmachine getting 30 new solos is pretty cool, though. Its a good design decision from a balance point of view, and introduces new and cool things into the meta without, hopefully, completely kicking it in the teeth.

All of that, though, pushes me forward to the previews. Let’s take a look at what we got (courtesy of Qualigeeks)

First, we have the Terrorizer, an Agonizer wielding a Scattergun, Morghuls claw, a Katana, and a blunderbuss. This has way, way too much whimsy for me, at least conceptually. Maybe the sculpt of the model will blow me away, but this certainly doesn’t.

Let’s go from one extreme to the other, shall we? This model is bad ass. I love the concept, and I love that it’s still a devil dog. She’s given up the idea of leading a team and is now wearing some kick ass Man O War suit. I’ve never been one to reach out and get a Sam McHorne of my own, but hell, this is one I will very likely pick up. It fits in the world, its rad as hell, and I hope it works for Cryx!

Sweet! back to ridicules things. I’m sure there are people out there who love a Pyg in a Tank. I am not one. This stupid thing grinds my gears in the same manner as the Terrorizer.

We are just see-sawing here, aren’t we? I like this model, though it does run a bit clothes-light. It fits in the game world, it fits in the concept of the Iron Kingdoms, and I think it would make a cool addition to the game. Welcome aboard… Nyss Sniper.

Oh man. Finally! A Cryx Model. To bad its idiotic. I mean, maybe the sculpt blows me away, but it doesn’t look like it. I think It’d be ok if I got to see it better and get a feel for how much “riding” he is doing, as opposed to building a custom built Deathripper to convey him along. I’m not a fan, and it’s a Cryx model, and I’m pissed about it.

Oh, Cool, we get to back to back more ideas I find bad. I get it, I do. There is a sizeable chunk of people who eat this up. I’m just not one of them. It’s a cool idea, in a vacuum, but it’s not something I really wanted in the Iron Kingdoms.

Three! Three in a row. That’s fine, though. I hope there are more that I like further along. This, admittedly, is a cool concept. When I saw the name Gremlin Slingshotter, I took it metaphorically. Turns out, I’m a fool, and this bitch is using a literal slingshot to shoot literal gremlins. Cool enough, I guess. I just don’t like it too much.

Now we come to one I don’t know where I stand on. As a Gatorman Captain of a ship, I can get behind Crawtooth here. His weapons may be a bit strange – Swinging a giant hook is likely not the most efficient, but I like this one just fine. I can’t really tell you what makes this one, instead of Helga or the Necrotech acceptable, it just is. Sorry…

This model is the Destroctotron 3000, a Cyrissist robot I assume is sent to destroy everything in its way. This, it is a fine model. It fits within the established themes of the IK, and feels like something that the Cyrissists would build, and then have ultimately got away from them. This guy is a fine pick up for the game.

This guy, Dr. Stygius, is another one I am torn on. I absolutely love the idea of more Cephalyx models, especially with all of the new theme changes coming. That said, there are a few strange things about him, mostly that he is a medic to non-cephalyx, but I’m willing to overlook that rather small flaw for a cool, cephalyx solos. I dig this one. Supposedly, he has spell slave, as well, which could be excellent.

This big froggy here is, again, one I am on the fence with. A Treasure Toad with a Treasure Trove is fine with me, and I love the Croaks. If he’s just some goofy model with no real story, he’ll be on the outs for me, but if he fits into the overall sense of the models, I’ll be good playing him in my all frog army!

Those are all the ones from the Panel, so let’s go pick apart the Reveal Trailer.

Ugh. Another thing I just don’t want. To much whimsey, not enough… Warmachine.

This guy is Harlowe Holdemhigh, and I can’t really be upset at this guy. He looks like a Rhulic Gunmage, and that is badass. I hope he works for cryx because that’ll give me a reason to pick him up and get another gunmage in the Satyxis Force!

This, I expect, is the core box (5 heroes) with some extras. The first piece of art, I expect is the core hero box: Gubbins, Eiryss 3, Bamfist, Dez, and Sir… I don’t remember his name, honestly. A scrawny secondhand stormknight of some sort. Gorman 2, J.A.I.M.s and Boomhowler 2 are all added.

I love Gorman and Boomhowler. They are alternate versions of characters that have been around for a long time and represent different paths for them. I dig it. Eiryiss, Dez, J.A.I.M.s and Storm Knight guy are all fine, they make sense enough and fit, kinda, within the games current lines. Eiyriss has strange, new crossbows, though, which weirds me out. Bamfist is a Zu dude, so I don’t know enough about him to make a judgment, though I hate his fist. Gubbinz is an archetype I’m not really fond of, the model that is so in love with, and literally crazy for, explosives that he ends up exploding himself every battle. I just can’t really grab it.

The only new one here is Black Bella, who looks like a dark version of Ashlynn, with two mechanica dueling swords. If that is the case, I am all in. This is where I grabbed the names for a couple of models. The two blacked out silhouettes are, if I am correct, the Nyss Sniper and Sam MacHorne II.

The final Model we have revealed here is Widget, which I absolutely am not a fan of, surprising no one. She doesn’t fit within my idea of the IK, and she looks goofy and weird. Not a fan, as I said, though I ain’t gonna hold it against anyone who is.

Alright, that’s all the Panel and previews, but we still have a few more that we know of, from other places around the internet.

The Butcher 4, who is going to be a solo, and not a warcaster. This fits my idea of a broken and shattered Butcher, losing the rest of his remaining sanity and deciding the whispers of a Fell Blade were the last, best thing for him to do.

Lastly, we have the wolf with no name, a skinwalker bounty hunter. Again, this seems strange, but fits enough within my idea of the lore and the world that it works just fine. I think that this guy is neat.

The last model we know of is Feora 4, who is unmasked, and has been left behind after the rapture of the world. She is wielding a giant, flaming chainsaw, which is neat, but I want to see the model first.

Now, lets take stock here of what we have for Warmachine and hordes:

  • Feora 4
  • Butcher 4
  • The Wolf with no Name
  • Pyg Tank
  • Captain Crawtooth
  • Dr. Stygius
  • Treasure Toad
  • Terrorizer
  • Necrotech
  • Gremlin Slingshotter
  • Nyss Sniper
  • Helga on Wheels
  • Destructotron 3000
  • Sam MacHorn II
  • Chuck Dogwood
  • Black Bella
  • J.A.I.M.s
  • Harlowe Holdemhigh
  • Eiryss 4
  • Boomhowler II
  • Bamfist
  • Electronight Guy
  • Gubbinz
  • Dez
  • Gorman 2
  • Widget

This is 26 of the 30 – 35 they mentioned. That’s a pretty substantial number, to be honest. I like some, I really do not like others, and there are some (like Gorman and Boomhowler) that I am going to pick up right away if I’m allowed to use them. Its a little disappointing that we know this much that is coming, but I’ll take it over a compete blindness.

Next, lets take a look at the changes coming to Warmachine.