Surprise Terrain!

So I’ve been chewing on some ideas for modular terrain for quite some time now and I’ve finally started prototyping some of the concepts for actual table play (these are the things that keep me up at night). I’m not quite ready to share the designs or the tech behind them (they’re still prototypes, I’ve got a growing list of annoyances and things that need fixing), but this terrain makes it super easy to create an elevated battlefield to fight on. Small based models (barring the super tall ones with back banners) can pass under the bridges with little issue. I’m super excited to get a game or three done and see what I can add/fiddle with to make it even better.

Here’s some fairly awful pictures with a mock game set up (I’m really super excited about this!).

My IK:RPG Backup Characters

I’m on something of an IK:RPG (Iron Kingdoms RPG) kick currently. I got invited to a group and we’ve been having fun hunting down a necromancer. My first character is something of an abomination, an Iosian Field Mechanik/Ice Sorcerer that runs around with an effective defense of 19. As I’m wont to do, I’m starting to prep back up characters with the player experience I’m gaining for how the game plays and flows. Couple things that I’ve noticed (and thus are guiding my character design):

  • Magic shouldn’t be used for combat purposes early on. 2d6 + 2 or 3 (ARC) is just miserable. Magical buffs on the other hand…
  • Taking damage is not fun. Going down is horrendous (changes recovery time from hours to weeks).
  • DEF skewing is probably the best plan when combined with blast damage ignoring.

So on to the characters! I’ve been digging into some of the supplementary material that PP has produced and scattered around for IK:RPG and come to the conclusion that whoever is planning these books and releases needs to have a serious rethink about layouts and deployment plans (#grumble). The first character I’m toying with is a Stormcaller/Investigator.

Stan Topher – Human (Cygnaran) Stormcaller (KNG 89)/Investigator (IK:RPG 132)

The stormcaller career is based around zapping people with giant lightning bolts from on high using the power of SCIENCE instead of magical voodoo powers. This is done via an occupational skill instead of a military skill and that’s where things start to go a bit pear shaped. The Stormsmithing skill is based on perception and has some interesting utility built in (AoE concealment, weather control, AoE knockdown) in addition to the tasering. As written, all of these abilities require the character to make a PER + Stormsmithing roll which makes this roll both a perception roll and a stormsmithing roll (lack of playtesting, huzzah!). Coupled with Hyper Perception from the Intelligence archetype (granted through Investigator), this makes all of the Stormsmithing rolls boosted (so I’m rolling 3d6 + 1 (skill) + 5 (PER)) right out of the gates to land lightning bolts on people which is pretty good. It gets better when coupled with the Astute ability (also granted by investigator) which allows this character to reroll failed PER rolls. Because Hyper Perception is granted through Investigator, I’m free to pick another another Archetype. I went with Gifted, grabbing Fast Caster for the future class expansion. Since Stormsmithing strikes are full round actions, this would allow me to also toss out buffs to my party mates and make enemies regret their lack of electricity immunity.

Stats PHY 5| SPD 6| STR 4| ALG 4| PRW 4| POI 4| INT 4| ARC 3| PER 5|
Abilities Astute, Language (any), Specilization (Stormcaller and Lightning Rod), Weatherman, Weather Vane
Archtype Gifted (Fast Caster), Hyper Perception
Connections Cygnaran Military
Military Skills Great Weapon 1, Pistol 1
Occupational Skills Detection 1, Forensic Science 1, Interrogation 1, Law 1, Mechanikal Engineering 1, Medicine 1, Stormsmithing 1, Sneak 1
Starting Gear Stormsmith Armor, Stormcaller and Lightning Rod, 100gc


Flint Stonespray
– Dwarf (Rhulic) Artillerist (KNG 304)/Rhulic Field Mechanik (NQ_49 63)

This character is attempting to capitalize heavily on the light artillery weapons added in Kings, Nations and Gods (because the core book had none…at all) in a unique way. So most of the light artillery weapons that aren’t strange (such as shield guns) require a tripod to be deployed and a full round action to set up the gun. There are also comical penalties for lugging these things around (even though they aren’t heavy enough to threaten load capacities…). Normally I’d avoid this sort of weapon like the plague, they typically aren’t worth the action economy but I had a thought (and here’s one of the inconsistencies in the IK:RPG system, jack weapons are basically equivalent to artillery, they just incorporate integrated autoloaders and/or magazines), what if the artillery gun in question was mounted on a jack? This alleviates the action economy issues of having to deploy/undeploy the gun but still puts an action economy tax on the player character (the jack can’t make unassisted ranged attacks). When I tripped across the Rhulic Field Mechanik, I finally decided to put all of this down on paper (NOTE: This does require GM permissions because the rules don’t exist to allow this…yet). The basic idea is that the Grundback Runner has a foot platform at the rear and it’s head ranged weapon slot outfitted with a light artillery mount. The ‘Jack Marshal stands on the footplate and fire the artillery gun. I’m leaning towards a Slugger or Chain Gun since the single shot guns (Light Cannon, Deck Gun, etc) require reloading between each shot (which is a full action).

Stats PHY 8| SPD 4| STR 4| ALG 3| PRW 4| POI 4| INT 4| ARC -| PER 3|
Abilities ‘Jack Marshal, Battle Plan: Close Fire, Bodge, Hit the Deck, Load Bearing, Scorched Earth
Archtype Intellectual (Battlefield Coordination)
Connections Dwarf Clan
Military Skills Head Weapon 1, Heavy Artillery 1, Light Artillery 1, Pistol 1, Rifle 1
Occupational Skills Command 1, Craft (Metalworking) 1, Detection 1, Driving 1, Mechanikal Engineering 1
Starting Gear Deck Gun (10 ammo), Grundback Runner w/ Hailshot Cannon, Mechanik’s Tool Kit, 100gc


Nottia Jack
– Human Ironhead (NQ_52 33)/Knight (IK:RPG 134)

This is a fun character and probably my first “tank” character I’ve seriously considered. She is a late game character based around overwhelming enemies with a large number of attacks and leverages the Ironhead Armor to make those attacks hurt (for those unfamiliar, Ironhead armor is steam powered armor that is highly customizable, think Man-o-War armor and that will get you 90% of the way there). One of the big decision points I had to make with this character was what archetype to take, Mighty or Skilled. Mighty has most of the “tank” and “dps” benefits, namely Righteous Anger, Feat: Invulnerable, Feat: Vendetta and Feat: Revitalize. Coupled with the fact that might characters are weapon masters with all melee weapons, there’s a tremendous amount of damage potential to be had, but at lower accuracy and a low number of attacks (a huge hit every turn). Skilled on the other hand, seems to offer a large selection of utility to this character, an extra attack every turn, Virtuoso, Sidestep, Preternatural Awareness and Ambidextrous. Coupled with some of the career abilities I’m planning on and the power lended to the character from her Ironhead armor, I think that overall Skilled offers the better utility. Because this is a character that really needs some experience and gold to function correctly, I’m building her with 30 xp (this puts her online and ready to rumble).

Stats PHY 7| SPD 6| STR 6| ALG 3| PRW 5| POI 4| INT 3| ARC -| PER 5|
Abilities Cleave, Defender, Ironhead, Makeshift Engineering, Tinkerer
Archtype Skilled (Sidestep, Virtuoso (Great  Weapon))
Connections Mechaniks Association, Knightly Order
Military Skills Great Weapon 2, Light Artillery 1, Hand Weapon 1, Shield 2
Occupational Skills Climbing 2, Command 1, Craft (Metalworking) 2, Detection 2, Etiquette 1, Intimidation 2, Lore (knightly order) 1, Mechanikal Engineering 2, Streetwise 2
Gear Ironhead Armor, Adventuring Tack, Mechanik’s Kit, War Hammer, Combat Shield, Boot Dagger, Assault Commando Armor, Purifier, 15ft Collapsable Pole
Ironhead Armor SPD: -1, DEF: -3, ARM: +10, HP: 12. Can run or charge

Heavy Boiler (free starter), Weight Compensators x2 (150 g), Ablative Armor x2 (250g), Hardened Case x2 (150g) (550g spent on upgrades)

Additional Career Cutthroat

 

Harby Build Log, Part 2 – The Initial Build

Boom! Wrecking my own plans! I had planned to take pictures of each step and…that didn’t happen. I’ve been quite busy and today I needed to blow off some steam and so I sat down and got my Harby assembled and ready to paint. This model has…5 pins in it, one for the waist-torso joint, one for each wing, one for the shield arm and one for the base-loincloth connection. I’m happy with the overall look (still dynamic and floaty looking but missing the the extra base bloat), some of the minute details need a bit of putty or greenstuff work to fill the gaps (her torso didn’t want to settle in a flush position) and the wings didn’t mate flushly with her hoodie. I might base coat the areas and see how noticeable the gaps still are. Anyways, pictures are worth all the words in this post.

Link to part 1.

One more (low quality) picture, size comparison next to heavy jacks and some other stuff.

20170217_031133-1

Hook City!

So there’s a new competitive Cryx podcast, Chasing the Dragonfather (link here), that’s focused around what in Cryx works, cool interactions and how Cryx isn’t such a burning dumpster fire. One of the things that they covered was Gaspy2 combo-ing with Reapers to project threat and rack up an attrition advantage (clouds + drag). I liked it enough to fiddle my own list together based around that interaction.

Hook City
Lich Lord Asphyxious – WJ: +28
–    Reaper – PC: 13 (Battlegroup Points Used: 13)
–    Reaper – PC: 13 (Battlegroup Points Used: 13)
–    Cankerworm – PC: 9 (Battlegroup Points Used: 2)
–    Nightwretch – PC: 7
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Warwitch Siren – PC: 4
Scrap Thrall – 3 Scrap Thrall: 2
Soul Trapper – PC: 1
Bane Warriors – Leader & 5 Grunts: 10
35 / 35 Army

Gaspy2 brings two main things to the table, a rolling cloud wall and Parasite. I’m not tremendously concerned about any other text on his card (it’d be cool if Excarnate could return Scrap Thralls but it doesn’t).

The Banes and Gorman stack with Parasite for a potential 7 ARM swing (which is big). Banes are also Weapon Masters that can clean up/off anything that the Reapers fail to finish off.

The Nightwretch is the token Arc Node (with a POW14 thud gun), Cankerworm is just a good model to have around (really hard to kill, occasionally you’ll get to mount a colossal gun on its tail, good times to be had!).

The Warwitch is around to ease the focus burden on Gaspy2 and the Soul Trapper is around just because I couldn’t buy another 3 Scrap Thralls.

The Scrap Thralls are kicking around as utility pieces. They can make a big hit against a hard target that the Reapers have drug in, can contest/control flanking objectives and threaten infantry (run 10” and jam, creates a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment). This does give rise to an interesting question, why pay 2 points for Scrap Thralls instead of 2 points for a Necrotech who can make a bunch of Scrap Thralls? The Necrotech relies on having jacks die to produce Scrap Thralls. I’m fairly certain that my jacks aren’t going to be dying and I’m not sure how often enemy jacks are going to be dying. I’d like to run this list a few times but until the theme force drops that has the benefit “Necrotechs start the game with a scrap token” or I have a better idea how often I actually get to drag in and kill enemy jacks, I’m going to start with the Scrap Thralls instead of the Necrotech (I suspect that the Necrotech will end up being the proper choice in the end).

Lastly, the Reapers. These guys are the main point of the list. They walk 6 inches, shoot and drag in a heavy, and kill it. Gaspy2 then drops a line of clouds in front of the Reapers, protecting them from any retailation.

Overall, I think that this is a fun list that has some good potential. Currently it won’t fair tremendously well into infantry blobs, nothing in the list has enough output to clean up 30 or 40 bodies quickly (more scrap thralls?). Pushing the list to 50 points, I’d look into beefing up its ability to handle infantry.

Homebrew Sentinel Characters

I got it in my head at some point today that there are some interesting potential rule interactions that exist inside the rules of Warmachine (currently, I can’t think of any widely available options for these interactions but a couple of these can be forced within the game). I started to craft together a jack or two that had some of these interactions and it dawned on me, I could just make these character sentinels! It’s cleaner, I don’t need to muck around deciding what 1 point of defense is and it’s easier for other people to understand if the rule interactions are mounted on something familiar. So onto the rule interactions themselves!

All of these started with the same thought, Shield Guard is a cool rule. What sort of nonsense could models with Shield Guard get into if they had a second rule to synergize with it?

The first one is obvious (and easy to do in Skorne), Carapace. Shield Guard forces the model to suck the hit. If the model has to take the hit, it either should be immune to the hit (which PP tried to head off at the pass) or comically tanky against the hit (so you can shield guard multiple hits). Carapace is a great rule to have with Shield Guard.

This led to another rule that has interesting interactions with arbitrary ranged attacks, Quick Draw. While not worded exactly like it needs to be, it does look like something could be really cool for a model with low armor. Ultimately, I think it would be better served as an individual rule separate from Shield Guard (call it “Interception”, Once per round, when a friendly model within X inches of this model would be hit by an enemy ranged attack, this model may make a ranged attack roll. If the result is higher than the enemy hit roll, that attack is considered to be a miss.). So this is cool alternative to Shield Guard that rewards high RAT instead of high ARM but not fantastically applicable to this project.

As I was chewing on the previous two concepts, another cool idea for a character Sentinel occurred to me. Cygnar has an expensive solo (both in points and dollars) called a “Trench Buster”. Not the most Skornegistic model ever to exist, but a fairly shiny example nonetheless, the Trench Buster blows himself up if he uses Assault (#AoE Guns with Assault). My idea was to apply the “Trench Buster” concept onto a Sentinel. Create a light jack that is focused around making that initial charge into the enemy and perhaps surviving the turn.

Now I had originally planned to create three character Sentinels, one for each thing I mentioned previously…but Interception is just cleaner without a additional rules interaction muddling the water. So without any further rambling on my part, I humbly present Rampage and Vigor (a PDF will be at the bottom of the post for any interested parties). Having said that, it turns out that WordPress hates my formatting so I’ll have to describe them (they have identical hard stats to regular sentinels).

First Rampage. He is bonded to Sturgis! I wanted to have a bond and rather than leave it blank, I picked the most aggressive Cygnar caster without a character jack. Rampage costs 10 points, has Assault, Relentless Charge and Unyielding. Its bond grants Uncontrollable Rage (that special rule Cryx Seethers have that forces them to run or charge for free all the time). The interesting part of Rampage is its weapon loadout. Taking a page from Khador, its shield has a 6”, POW10 spray with the Anatomical precision special rule. This allows Rampage to clear out shield-walled troops while still leaving his spray on the low end of the POW spectrum. Its other weapon is a “Piston Spike” (again, stealing from Khador’s design aesthetic). It is a P+S 13 melee weapon with Critical: Brutal Damage. I wanted to spice this up, make it armor piercing or sustain attack coupled with critical shred…but that’s starting to clutter the card with special rules (and Rampage’s card is already fairly full). That’s about all she wrote for Rampage, onto Vigor!

If Rampage is all about busting trenches and putting the fear of Jacks into shield wall troops, Vigor is all taking Shield Guard shots to the chin and continuing to function. I’m not tremendously happy with the current collection of rules on his card, it achieves my purpose (Carapace on a Shield Guard model) but doesn’t feel that “flavorful”. Anyways, you lot need a summary not rambles so Vigor features Carapace, Shield Guard and Steady. Its weapons are a shield named “Barrier” (P+S:12 and Repel) and the “Boom Tube” a 12”, AoE3, POW12 gun with High Explosive(12). I’m left feeling rather underwhelmed with how Vigor turned out, it works but it isn’t a elegant solution. I’ll probably revisit Vigor at a later date (probably scrapping Carapace in favor of something a little more clever and dynamic). Hopefully I’ll be able to con some poor sole into giving them a spin.

Aforementioned PDF link: (sentinel-character-variants-rampage-and-vigor).

Pop n Drop!

I’m thinking about heading to NoVA Open this year (contingent on a number of factors and probably not going to happen, but I’m staying positive), and if I do I need to start practicing now. I’m starting with the basics, back to my start in Warmachine. I’m starting with one of my favorite casters, Kreoss1.

Pop-n-Drop 2017
High Exemplar Kreoss – WJ: +29
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Crusader – PC: 10 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Allegiant of the Order of the Fist – PC: 3
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Temple Flameguard – Leader & 9 Grunts: 11
Choir of Menoth – Leader & 3 Grunts: 4
35 / 35

Nothing like a classic! For the uninitiated, this list is based around aggressively winning the attrition to leave the opponent without an army to play the game. It has one “big turn” where Kreoss1 POPs his feat and then the rest of the army DROPs all the enemies (hence the name). There are roughly 3 pods at work within this list, the anti-armor pod, the anti-infantry pod and the scenario pod.

Anti-Armor Pod
This pod consists of Redeemers, Gorman, and the Choir. Gorman and the Choir represent a potential 4 ARM swing while each Redeemer can put 3 boosted POW12’s into heavy targets.

Anti-Infantry Pod
The only official presence here are the Sunbursts. While POW15 can threaten hard targets, the continuous fire and large AoE is much scarier to throw at clusters of infantry. I wish these had a bit more game or mechanics, something area-denial or scather template-y but they do work almost every turn without any support.

Scenario Pod
This is the domain of the lonesome Punch Monk and the TFG. The TFG pull double duty, screening the army from fast vanguard assaults and enemy screening units while also acting as a jamming force (14” run to engage range, 15/15 with Defender’s Ward, it’s not bad). The Punch Monk is purely for camping flags and zones. DEF18 unassisted (pushed to 20 with Defender’s Ward after enough of the TFG have died), he’s something that the opponent can’t ignore but is also tremendously difficult to remove from the table. He’ll buy me at least a turn of scenario to give the rest of the list time to kill the opponent.

I’ve already put this list on the table and it was…gross. My opponent was aware of what Kreoss1’s only game plan and she disrespected the threat. I loaded the Redeemers, walked Kreoss into feat range of almost the entirety of her army (I missed the warcaster + 2 models) and destroyed roughly 80% of her army (her warcaster, a heavy and a light were the only models left on her side of the table). While 35 point games are not really representative of 75pt games, the follow up I had (TFG ran to engage everything that was remaining alive) felt sufficient to fight another 20-30 points without any changes.

There are two 50 points versions of this list that I’m planning on taking to my next game night, one serious and one more tongue-in-cheek.

Pop n Drop 2017 v2
High Exemplar Kreoss – WJ: +29
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Crusader – PC: 10 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Allegiant of the Order of the Fist – PC: 3
Kell Bailoch – PC: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Temple Flameguard – Leader & 9 Grunts: 11
Choir of Menoth – Leader & 3 Grunts: 4
Daughters of the Flame – Leader & 5 Grunts: 10
50 / 50 Army

With only 15 more points to play with, I settled on adding a unit of Daughters and Kell Bailoch. The Daughters bring several useful tools to this list. They don’t need buffs to survive while the armies close. They’re fast. They can threaten and kill high armor infantry (which is one of the issues this list has, blast damage resistance or immunity). One of the special aspects about Kreoss1 is that non-faction models still benefit from his feat. Kell is a fantastic sniper model that I’ve had success with in the past. He can soften or neuter entire heavies all by his lonesome and threatens 6 damage at 14”.

I had a couple other thoughts for how to spend the 15 points. One consideration was upgrade the Crusader under Kreoss to a Redeemer and spend the 14 points on something else but I’m not comfortable running without a heavy in the list yet. Another thought was to run a junior with a light or two (be it Durant1 with another Redeemer or Gastone with Buccaneers). Each of these serve to either upgrade firepower of the list or enable the firepower currently in the list. I settled with the Daughters + Kell because it addresses something the list doesn’t handle well.

The troll version of this list is just stuffing it full of Redeemers.

Pop n Drop v2.b
High Exemplar Kreoss
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Initiate Tristan Durant – PC: 4
–    Redeemer – PC: 11
–    Redeemer – PC: 11
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Choir of Menoth – Leader & 5 Grunts: 6
50 / 50 Army

This list has…issues and I probably won’t be putting it on the table.

Hopefully I’ll have enough free time to actually make it to game night and get a game or two with the new version!

Meta-Benders

In contrast to my last post (which was a hybrid monstrosity of critiquing Privateer Press, reviewing Durant2 and redesigning Durant2), this post is going to be largely positive. Its also about Una2 (and meta-benders in general), so bear with me.

What is a “meta-bender”? Put simply, a meta-bender is a release that causes established meta to shift. A “meta” (actually M.E.T.A.) is “most effective tactic available”. Its slang that has grown to describe the common game environment in which we theory-machine/compete in.

Humans are extremely efficient problem solvers (read: lazy). Once we find a solution to a problem, we’re unlikely to change that solution unless something else changes. One of the desired results of playing and participating in a game is to win and because humans are lazy, we’ll gravitate to the path of least resistance. For a tabletop wargame, this results in the development of the “meta gamestate”. While a meta is not an inherently bad thing to have in a game, it is quite easy for a meta to become toxic and stale.

After the initial release frenzy had died down, mkIII Warmachine settled into a fairly stale meta with surprising speed. Competitive players brought two archetypes of lists to tournaments, gunlines and armor spam (there were a few outliers here, but the majority were gunlines or armor spam). The online communities, the groups of people looking for their meta solution to Warmachine (i.e. a win with the least possibility of loss), latched onto the competitive meta. In factions where the models no longer supported the meta, morale plummeted and positivity vanished (hi Cryx players!). It turns out that thinking is hard and complaining is easy (6 months in people are starting to discover that Cryx has some pretty potent game, but I digress). What was most shocking to me is exactly how quickly the meta crystallized. Any discussion with players basically got the same answers and nobody wanted to try new things. Partially this is on PP, as I’ve mentioned previously the first two waves of Warcasters were incredibly bland, timid in scope and uninspired (I understand their timidity and I’m not advocating that it was unreasonable, I’m just saying that the first 6 months of mkIII didn’t live up to the hype). Basically, by not releasing powerful, dynamic casters that force people to think about the meta, PP doomed the meta to its state of rapid stagnation.

Now we have Una the Skyhunter. A Circle warlock that does a fairly specific thing very well (which is running light warbeasts into an army and murdering everything dead) that is completely outside the scope of the current meta (gunlines and armor spam), she forces the meta to change (to gunlines, armor spam and Una2 counters). As players adjust their two list pairs, it causes new thoughts and ideas to occur. Because of these new thoughts and ideas, lists change even more and new strategies form. The meta warps irrevocably and we have a completely new environment to play in!

This is why I like Una2 and meta-benders in general. They represent new problems on the table, new puzzles to solve and new tactics to emerge. All of these things are signs of a healthy game (and it makes things far more interesting than any of the battle box casters or junior 2s have). So good on PP for releasing Una2, I look forward to more meta-benders and more puzzles in the future!

Afternote: I’m aware that Una2 is the last caster in the junior release cycle, she’s just so starkly different from the rest of them that she might as well be her own release cycle.