Saturday, June 6, 2015

Warmachine: Reckoning review - completely baseless first impressions

I started writing this for my colleagues in the Slovenian Warmachine scene on a message board, then it got so huge that I figured I may as well post it here to reflect on how wrong I am about everything a year down the line. I decided to post here rather than on Rot 'n' Roll since it is Warmachine related.


In my opinion, the way to think about the Berserker chassis is to expect it to explode and play it that way. Think of "they may blow up" as a good thing. They are shit jacks with shit stats - you just give them 3 focus for one turn to run in and hopefully put a big hole in the enemy army (because POW 14 8" AoE is pretty big). Otherwise, just get a Juggernaut.

Mad Dog is great at doing the Berserker thing (better than the regular Berserker) because it is cheap and has an in-built SPD buff and can kill a bunch of stuff trampling in, or trampling around if it's still alive with its movement (all it needs). I'm sure there's some decent tiers that allow you to take them for 4pts - 2 or 3 of these can get chaotic and really mess things up with the explosions.
The problem of course is that it is a 50/50 at best and most (competitive) players aren't going to take that chance and certainly not build a strategy around it because if they never explode they are, as we say, pretty shit. But the more yolo players will, and it's a hell of a lot more fun than gambling on Tough. This model is for them - it'd be for me if the odds were slightly better with full focus (66% rather than 50%).

The Rager I don't get so much in that train of thought however.... I guess if it doesn't blow up post charge then it can tank better? I dunno, it's an in-faction Shield Guard in a faction that crutches super hard on Mercs and takes Bokurs anyway. I guess it looks cool, everyone loves tiny Gladiator swords. Apart from the Shield Guard, I don't see why a humble Juggernaut isn't better almost all the time (which I guess is the reason to take it when you want to spend as little on jacks as possible). I guess the reason they put this on a Zerker chassis is so it doesn't get to ARM 22 or cost 9pts.

Zerkova2 seems good. Not really interesting or full of tricks but good. Spellcast spam is something different for Khador, maybe she'll have better synergy down the line than just Greylords on foot and horses. There might be some sweet Special Actions in Khador I'm not aware of that this feat synergizes fantastically with though so she might be more impactful than I think.

Victor is nice overall (naturally though he is Harkevich's best friend). I don't think he's a fantastic Colossal but I think he is better than Conquest most of the time in the context of a list other than the sniping potential.
Conquest was the exception to Khador gun laws: LOW POW = Accurate and HIGH POW = Innacurate (or tiny range). Conquest has both (with boosting) but little else other than the big physical stats. Victor has the same beefy stats, but more generally useful weaponry. 2d3 POW 12s is generally better than Conquest's shitty blast damage AoEs (even at a bad RAT), and his mortar is good support in almost every situation.
In terms of Mortar comparisons, POW 15 and POW 16 have the same blast damage anyway and I don't see it directly hitting too often so that is irrelevant.
Plus he techs hard against Grotesques, which as we know are bending the meta right now.

The one thing Khador actually needs to be made interesting is for the focus rules to be rewritten, at least for their jacks. Their troops are ok - maybe a good MoW support solo and a good AK support solo would open things up there some more.

Favourite release: Mad Dog (Ruin is the best though - basically a really good solo that can also be fed focus, which is how the really good jacks are designed now)


Hayley3 is really wierd as we all know. Too different to really tell. I think she'll be good - really good. And not the 100% negative play experience the previous 2 Haleys are. She brings back the Trencher smoke wall which itself is pretty bonkers, and her tier is like PLEASE BUY TRENCHERS. Apart from that, who knows.

I like the idea of Ace. However it is pretty expensive at 7pts and probably not ever going to be played outside Caine unless the infiltrate things turns out to be super legit with Stryker3 or whatever.

Hurricane is neat. It's no Stormwall but his pushback is going to be total AIDS with Haley1+2. What a crock of shit. Also more anti Legion tech!

I dunno what to think about the Trench Buster. I haven't seen Trenchers since Mk1. I guess he is ok. His main strength is being resilient and having a pretty sweet gun that can douche your opponent. I think Flank is just a bonus, the main thing is just getting good cinder bombs.

Favourite release: Haley3


Durst seems really, really sweet. I like the idea of bricking up in Protectorate and they have gotten away from that a lot in the new releases. He is a beast personally to boot.
I also really like how his Wall of Steel spell is almost a straight up better version of Karchev's Sidearms. Poor Khador.
I am surprised his tier doesn't include Cinerators - missed opportunity I guess.

Hand of Judgment is basically like "hey if you were planning to use a lot of Fire, then this guy is a pretty sweet beaststick for your list!". 10pts is quite a bit for a Protectorate jack but if you want Fire, he works with it and even without it, the Choir makes his stats get Avatar crazy. Flame Burst is also really legit against medium infantry due to his "+2 damage to fire roll" thing. Obviously combos with either Feora, even without the affinity.

EDIT: it has recently come to my attention that damage rolls from the Fire continuous effect are not actually Fire damage type. GG, PP.

Purifier - this guy is cute. More Fire basically, but could also be good with Amon since 2x P+S13 Chain Weapon is legit on top of his Fire explosion thingo (which double dips on Fire). Solid at killing Shield Wall infantry of all kinds.

Pyrrhus is like the rebirth of Mk1 Vilmon (alongside his kindred spirit Skyreth Issyth aka "Mk1 Vilmon on a horse"). Resilient, buffs stuff, good melee damage. Full package IF you want to play Temple Flameguard (that's the catch that keeps him balanced).

Finally we have the Revelator which teaches us that you can totally make up words like 'Feretory' and get away with it. All I can say is that it is good as long as it Feretorizes. Once it no longer has Feretory, it loses it's Feretoriness.

Good PoM releases as usual. However, I think these are a lot more exciting than the last few releases for them. I like more or less everything here whereas the only Mk2 PoM release I've really liked in is Kreoss3. I think these all have potential to shake up the Protectorate meta a bit.

Favourite release - Anson Durst


Denny3 we kinda know already. I like her mechanics, and her spell list is really nasty. Her feat is also like a straight up better version of Nemo2's feat, so much so that it is almost insulting given than she can give 3 focus to SEVEN warjacks AND/OR can also use the souls for support spell spam. The only catch is that she loses a lot of trickiness relative to her previous incarnations and relies heavily on soul collection to be really impactful (besides feat). I think a lot of her depth will come from her speed and mobility.
She also seems extremely vulnerable to accurate Purification shooting as her defensive tech is entirely based on camping/Grave Wind.
But PP is scratching the bottom of the jack barrel hard enough to make her take a couple of heavies I think - it solves the focus efficiency problem by shifting the traditional focus equation and filtering it through a unique take on souls as a resource. Bring your Leviathans, Harrowers and Krakens....
Her tier is also decent.

Barathrum is named after Spirit Breaker:

Like Spirit Breaker, he likes to charge stuff and pop up out of nowhere. He does look very Cryxian and sweet but 10pts is a lot for a jack without reach and ARM 17 (Dig In or not). If Drag Below worked with Counter Charge he would probably be considered a lot more powerful. I still like him though but dunno whether he will get played much.

Shrike seems like the Cryx version of the Razorwing Griffon. Identical rules, slightly different stats. Neat, I guess. Don't think it'll get played unless there's some sweet interaction with Mortenebra I'm not bothering to check but cute nevertheless. Now if this thing could blow up like a Berserker, we'd be talking.

The Sepulcher is a really big Necrosurgeon (a virulent form of cancer) combined with decent range and melee. I think a jack-focused Cryx ranged game is where Denny3 is at and this thing can be the backbone - it offers a different type of ranged than the Kraken which is good (RNG 13 Arcing Fire Paralysis is dumb), and Pull on Chain Strike is very good.

Finally is the Soul Trapper solo which is just stupid. It basically gives every Cryx warcaster a huge soul collection range for 1/2pt, more or less negating any reason for them to move up for the souls (which they didn't do before anyway) and giving them all the benefits they didn't get before. Not to mention putting souls on Pistol Wraiths and Soulhunters or whatever. Huge buff to the whole faction IMO. Fortunately they have garbage defensive stats, but unfortunately they are small bases so will hide behind the sea of OP dudes. Maybe one of the most powerful releases in the book.

TL;DR Cryx stuff is good as usual but Cryx players won't be happy.

Favourite release: Barathrum (def. not the best, that's the Soul Trapper)


Thyron is a beast. I think this is the first Ret caster that can shit on Gators pretty hard - Rahn had game but this guy probably has the advantage. He is personally very tanky and hits hard, has a great Field Marshall to deal with low-model count medium based armies in Cleave, has Onslaught to deal with the rough terrain and Spellpiercer to sweeten the deal. Only big downside is that like all Ret, he doesnt grind too well and if his alpha doesn't do the required damage, his lack of defensive support (outside Storm Rager) means his army will get shredded if there is enough stuff left to kill it. At least it comes down to a skill game rather than "Rask wins 95.4% of the time".
Tier is generic.

Helios is interesting. I think he is good at 17pts if you take him into consideration when building your list - he's certainly not a token "Colossal" that you drop in because you want a Colossal to do Colossal things. Respectable defensive potential, focus multiplication and Triple Tractor Beams (+ virtuoso) make him pretty scary in the right context.

Electromancers are doing the Iron Maiden triple guitar pose. That is sweet. Pretty much a "generic" Cygnar lightning unit with a Retribution twist, which is great in something like ADR when you know you're playing against Warmachine (a few jacks, light infantry and power solos). RAT 6, RNG 10 POW 12 is solid regardless of the special abilities.

Soulless Voidtracer is a really, really good 1pt filler. Not only does it protect your units from enemy spell caster units (Greylords, Druids, Mittens, Hex Hunters, etc) but it also damages enemy casters when they buff their OWN stuff that's within 5" of him (or Focus Booster or whatever). Good at all stages of the game against most opponents (outstanding ADR selection).

All up, another solid round of Ret releases that grow the faction.

Favourite release - Voidtracer 


No jack previewed. trolololol. But really, CoC players should expect nothing. I only play factions that don't get releases.


Cognifex Cyphon basically has a better version of Naaresh's feat, and a Cryxian version of Caine's Spell Amplifier (neat design). As expected, he has a pretty strong spell list with two new spells - one of which is probably best thought of a neat variant on Hellmouth, the other is the resurrection of Mk1 Inviolable Resolve. Seems cool, and hopefully has a giant bubble head and a tiny crab body. I am guessing he will run mostly cheap Monstrosities whose lives are expendable.
Then again, I have zero Cephalyx experience so my opinion is not super relevant.

The Rhulic Battle Engine, Hammerfall Siege Crawler, seems pretty decent to me. It's like a very manly version of the Sacral Vault - no flash, all brawn. Bulldoze is one of the best rules in the game IMO, and coupled with a couple of meaty guns and base RAT 6, I think this can do a decent amount of work. It's not super impressive or tricky, but that's Rhul for you.

Finally we have the Gobber Raider pirates, who are more 'fun' than good but my optimistic take on them is here.

Overall, "traditional" Merc players didn't get much out of this book and should feel mad.

Favourite release: Probably the Gobber Raiders, since I can take them in Blindwater

EDIT: Apparently the entirety of the Cephalyx ebook was reprinted here as the Merc section (that's Exulon, 3 heavies and the mind control UA dudes). That means Mercs get a sizable release.

Who "won the book"?

aka. who gained the most in terms of interesting or competitive options

1st - PoM / Retribution
I feel these two factions got the most out of the book. PoM has been in a bit of a creative rut recently. They have quite a lot of options in game and some really competitive list but a lot of the new releases just haven't "clicked". Here I think most of the releases are interesting and open up new types of lists, and Durst looks really good.
Retribution also got a lot of depth with Thyron for a more melee-centric force, and I think Helios is incredible for a ranged assassination or scenario game. Excellent 1pt filler in the Voidtracer too.

2nd - Cryx
The biggest thing by far here is the Soul Trapper solo. Holy crap is that thing dumb. The addition of Denny3 and Sepulcher also makes Cryx jack lists a lot more appealing. I am skeptical whether this will dislodge the S-tier casters in competitive Cryx, b

3rd - Cygnar
I'm not quite sure about this one, mainly because Haley3 is so different from the usual stuff. The Hurricane too. Dynamo is also sweet (lest we forget). I think this book will be as good for Cygnar as Vengeance was for Khador.

4th - Mercs/ Khador
Mercs got Cephalyx. Technically, that opens up a massive area for new play options but since it is very limited at present, I think many Merc players will feel disappointed with this release and won't want to buy into Cephalyx heavily yet. The Dwarf battle engine is pretty neat for those who like Rhulic stuff though.

For Khador, the outcome hinges on whether Zerkova2 will be sweet to play, but I don't think we are there yet. Ruin will almost certainly go in every Khador list pair simply on his statistical superiority. Victor is also a viable alternative Colossal to Conquest since he does more or less everything Conquest was taken for (big meaty jack). And while I like the idea of Berserker jacks, I dunno whether they will catch on. People only have so much disposable income!

Overall I wish PP would release more anti-Undead tech rather than anti-Flight tech. There has to be SOME disadvantage to being Undead other than eVlad doing more damage to you in melee? Right? RIGHT?

This is a good book with some very interesting releases but again I really feel like the focus mechanic has to be addressed in order to really revitalize Warmachine list building.


  1. I see the whinging about no releases for your new faction has begun. You must feel right at home

    1. Like I said, I only play faction that don't get releases. Except Gators, which got two this month... for some reason.