Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thinking about warmahordes

Warmachine has been on my mind. Thursday we went to a friend’s home to play the warmachine RPG. I’m running a paladin of the order of the wall/warcaster. The game is much closer to the wargame of the same name than the last edition. Privateer Press’s first RPG was based around the D&D 3.0/3.5 open game license. It featured lush hardcovers full of setting material and artwork. I bought all of those books, even though I never got to actually play because, well at the time I bought everything warmachine related I could find. In retrospect, the mechanics of the game represented an imperfect fit for D&D’s engine even with the 3.5 update. A conversion to pathfinder would likely remedy some of those shortcomings. In particular, the in-game cost of Arcane Tec, steam/mechanical equipment, and firearms was much more than their prevalence would suggest. The use and creation of said items was very resource intensive, often requiring multiple feets and high skill ratings before a character achieved proficiency. For those who loved the setting it was a beautiful world with a functional but limited mechanical interface. The new game features a unique 2d6 mechanic, custom careers, game play that mirrors the wargame, and a balanced advancement system. I really like character development—probably because characters retain the skills, spells, and special abilities of their wargame counterparts. Advancement is incremental with each 2-3 experience points netting a stat increase, skill bump, or special ability. Characters can only specialize so much before stat and skill maximums push them into advancing other abilities. Maximums increase every 50 experience points or so—allowing for specialization but keeping lesser characters from truly out-classing their betters. The net result is a game that favors complex multi layered characters with multiple skill sets. I don’t want to buy another game, but this one is starting to look like a keeper. My warmachine project is trundling along. Finances limit the speed of development—though with the dearth of games lately that’s not such a bad thing. Corc, Cherylkat, the brunette, and I get together regularly with the intent of playing—it just never seems to work out. We end up talking about “stuff.” Before it seems possible the night is over and no games are played. I’m giving serious thought to setting specific days for trips to Titan just so we can get our game on in a dedicated environment. Actually, WMTrainguy and I need to do that for FOW as we haven’t played in months. Of course the holidays are fast approaching—usually putting the axe to such plans. My goal is to ship out my old Khador army this week for fun and credit at BTP. I have all the models left to complete the army save a war dog and a Conquest. The conquest will have to get done in a different batch, but I’d like to be done with this army by the end of the year so I can start playing larger games. The conquest would just be nice to have around…maybe I can talk Corc into painting him. Actually, I wasn’t keen on the war dog until Butcher III came out at gencon featuring two hounds in toe. Now I feel fictionally obligated to have the little guy around. One of my recent obsessions has been legion of everblight. Despite the fact that I’ve never actually played a game of hordes, I love the faction. The more I read, the more I crunch numbers, the more I like how legion operates. A lot of that has to do with the ooo shiny factor of theoryhammering lists—a process that R and I used to go through for months at a time. I want to get a hordes list on the table. Corc kindly traded me his older metal legion starter box assembled and painted for a unit of man-o-war shocktroopers. The box caster isn’t a perfect match for me, but she’ll be good learning fodder. The real question is whether I want to start legion in March or see if lady Deathquaker would rather paint up my remaining early war French. On the one hand, the French are assembled and ready to go. Buying all that legion product would be expensive and that doesn’t even take into account the cost of having her assemble and paint them. There’s a strong financial argument against starting legion. On the other hand I really want to play hordes. It’s definitely what warmachine should have been—colorful, direct, all about the action, first world gamer problems I know. Fortunately I have plenty of time to think about it. In the mean time I’ve been reviewing the scope of a potential legion project. The nice thing about hordes is that each faction’s warlocks have their own flavor beyond mechanical theme. It’s easy, especially if you look at theme lists, to get an idea of the preferred play style for each warlock. Also, I’m interested in a limited number of support pieces, a focused set of infantry, and a targeted list of flying warbeasts. That makes it easier to review each of my potential choices. Reviewing the warlocks: • Absylonia, Terror of Everblight is a straight up beast caster who goes for the kill at warp 9. Her theme list focuses around heavy beasts supported by forsaken, shepards, and at least three lesser beasts—probably shreaders. Her simple and direct play style is appealing, but lacks tactical sophistication and flexibility. I’m pro-simple but anti-one-dementional when it comes to warlocks. • Bethayne, Voice of Everblight & Belphagor is a truly fantastic warlock. She has offense and defense. She can meld with her pet warbeast to amp up her combat stats or sit back and use him as a mobile spell channeler. She has strong attrition and senereo elements as well as a passable assassination game. She’s fun, something I highly value in a warlock. Her theme list is just plane beautiful—focusing on hexhunters, flying beasts, sorceresses—basically fast moving removal elements. • Kallus, Wrath of Everblight is a caster that I love fictionally and really have no use for in play. He’s a construct warlock who has several group-buffing abilities. He’s a bit of a beet-stick himself—durible but with decent damage output especially against massed infantry. His theme list starts with at least 40 models at tier four. The models I’d want to play him with, blighted warmongers and warspears, aren’t in his themed list. So we’ve got a caster who has all the abilities I want, but who requires all the units I don’t want with none of the ones that I prefer. He’s a no-go sadly. • Lylyth I, II, and III I want to like. Her play style meshes well for me. She hits hard. She’s a fast moving general. Unfortunately her theme lists are model heavy. She’s a strong backup caster choice. Heck, I’m even considering fleshing out her prime version with two groups of raptors, but she’s on the back burner for now. • Rhyas, Sigil of Everblight, much like Callus, looks great on paper, but requires more infantry than I want to deal with. She’s a dedicated assassination warlock lacking the tactical flexibility I prefer. I want my armies to be able to handle two of assassination, attrition, or objective based missions. • Saeryn, Omen of Everblight is one of the best warlocks in hordes and maybe the best warcaster/warlock in the game. She has game with all three of the mission types. Her spell list is second to none. Her theme list is simply beautiful. She’s up there with Bethayne for the top slot. The only issue I have with her is that fictionally, she’s tied to Rhyas, which obligates me to take one of the ninja twins if I take the other. That’s just how my mind works. • Thagrosh I and II are that rarest of cases, casters that I don’t like paired with theme lists that I do. He doesn’t jell for me. Maybe it’s because I run the butcher already and I don’t want to run another big caster. I’m not a fan of his epic version. Of course he has Typhon—probably one of the best beasts in the game. It’s sad, since I don’t like running character beasts/jacks with warlocks/warcasters that they aren’t fictionally bound to. He breaks with the beautiful and deadly esthetic that I want for legion. • Vayl I and II are beautiful on so many levels. They have complimentary styles using similar model choices. Their theme lists work well with Bethayne’s force. They have the whole winter theme going—which I love. Vayl I is an upfront spellslinger while version I is more defensive—leading to two related but distinct play styles. My only real objection is that they don’t have their own character warbeast. Based on that breakdown, I’m looking at Bethayne and both versions of Vayl as my warlocks. I’m still trying to figure out how many support units, how many centerpiece models, and how many infantry units are required for a playable force…but that’s an article for another time.

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