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"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Warmachine: Rules Part 1: Go Big or Go Home!


So, quite a few people seemed interested in my experiences in Warmachine - thanks guys! I know some of you were not so keen on me bastardising this fine blog with non-GW content, but I think only the guest authors will be delving into it and you don't have to read it afterall. I'll try not to let this decrease the frequency of my 40k based articles (which are pretty infrequent, let's be honest).

First of all, my thoughts on the Rule Book. The softback version was just £20 and the hardback would have been £30. Compare this to GW's 40k rule book, which comes in at £35 and the new Fantasy book, coming in at £45. The quality of the book is excellent and I'd probably say slightly better than the 40k one (I have very little experience with the new Fantasy book, but know there have been several comments about the vast quantities on non-rule content)*. It's full colour, excellent quality paper and has great contents. There are rules for the 4 main factions and a couple of mercenary units. I'm not sure why they didn't include any Retribution of Scyrah stuff, but there we go. Yes, that's right, there are mini-codices in the back of each book. ALL of the rules for the models included in their battleforce box sets are in the book, so this is all you need to begin. Nice huh! Well, I think so anyway. For all you fluffy bunnies, there is more than enough fluff in the book to keep you entertained with 21 pages of introduction, 7 pages of fluff for each faction and some added fluff on each of the units included - 15 per faction.**

Turn to page 5. Apparently, this is a well-known part of the rule book, but I hadn't heard of it until I opened the book. It basically says, 'grow a pair, bring your A-game (no, not that A-game!!), and don't whine when you lose, it's a competition of generalship! Oh, and by the way, have some fun!' Now don't quote me on that, I may have misquoted them a little, but you get the point. This is refreshing in comparison to the 'Most Important Rule' imposed by GW, and note, I didn't say better, I said refreshing.

The game is based around a single model called a Warcaster, a sort of über-human that has the ability to control and 'sup-up' the models around him/her and cast spells. The other models in your army are either warjacks (steam-powered dreadnought-esqtue monsters) or non-warjacks (you or I, tooled with the finest equipment the Iron Kingdoms have to offer and occasionally a bit of magic thrown in for fun).

On to the rules. What can I say? I've read the basic rules twice and the more complicated parts just the once so far. At a first glance it doesn't seem as easy to learn as the basic 40k rules, but that may be partly due to my familiarity with GW from my younger years. The WM is certainly not laid out as well as the 40k book, but it is manageable.***

The most fundamental change from 40k is your interaction with models/units. Models and units are activated one at a time. Each 'activation' is broken down into movement and actions. Base movements range from 4 to 8" but this can be increased by a charge or run 'action'. Charging adds 3" to your movement and running doubles it. You may go into base-to-base combat with a run movement, but this does not bestow the benefits of 'charging' when making close combat attacks. Combat is similar to 40k in that you must roll to hit and roll to wound, but this takes a slightly different format as attack and wounding rolls can be 'boosted'. However, it is very different to 40k in that you can only attack in your activation phase, so you don't need to worry about your opponent pwning you before you attack.

The other forms of actions available are ranged attacks and magical attacks i.e. shooting. These again take a similar format to 40k in that you must roll to hit and wound, but again, these attacks may be 'boosted'.

Rather than armour saves (which I haven't come across yet), models have differing numbers of damage points. Non-warjacks models just die when their damage points have run-out, whereas war-jacks are slowly disabled as they lose theirs, losing limbs and movement before becoming a complete wreck. There are many other ways in which a unit can be affected, including being knocked-down, set alight, frozen etc. These can affect the models following activation or simply cause on-going damage to the model.

Line of sight and terrain are also different from what those of you who are making a transfer from 40k will be familiar with. Line of sight is not quite 'True-line-of-Sight', but does have 'get down and have a look' element to it. Models count as solid cylindrical objects that cannot be seen through, but are not of unlimited height and rules for looking over models are included. I would guess terrain has the potential to affect game play as much as it does in 40k, but instead of providing saving throws, negative modifiers are applied to attack rolls. I'll probably do an article on these particulars as they're a big part of game play and strategy. When I start to play more it'll be interesting to see how well they work out in comparison, as I think the majority of people play terrain incorrectly in 40k - everything providing a 4+ save is not RAW - but I'm one of those, so I shalln't harp on about it.

With this complicated sequence of activation, action, interaction and influence, list building and strategy seem to be extremely important. From some of the lists I've been throwing together (albeit at low points levels), you do not have the same ability to spam units like is commonplace in 'competitive' 40k and choice of models is incredibly dependant upon the Warcaster you chose and themes of the list.

I'll stop there for now, but will crack-on with part 2 for tomorrow, where we shall look at model characteristics and perhaps the beginnings of list building. If anybody is up for a quick game shoot me a reply and I'll see what I can do.

*NB: I'm not a GW poo-pooer. I generally think they release excellent stuff, but this is just a mark of the quality of the WM book.

**NB: The quickstart rules are available for free (yep, that's right, FREE) here.

*** note to Privateer Press - next time include a basic version of your Appendix A at the front of your book and some of your 'Rules Basics' are really not 'basics' at all.

Minis by Lobster from Cool Mini or Not

12 pinkments:

DFM said...

"There are rules for the 4 main factions and a couple of mercenary units. I'm not sure why they didn't include any Retribution of Scyrah stuff, but there we go. Yes, that's right, there are mini-codices in the back of each book. ALL of the rules for the models included in their battleforce box sets are in the book, so this is all you need to begin."

quick question. whats with the cards and I would assume that other units rules are in the faction book. Looking to get into the game myself, but don't want to buy anything without knowing it's use. I've made myself a pledge of no more buying stuff just because it looks awesome, I'd have to use it more than just once. Just afraid of rules for things not included(why? I don't know it doesn't make sense to me either) until I actually buy it and find out.

yay for toy soldier paranoia!

Gx1080 said...

Page 5 IS better.

You forgot that the regular models are divided between units, which are your standard squads and solos, which are your one-man wonders.

Activation is different, but is easy to get used to it. You pick an unit, that unit moves and attacks. Pick another, rinse, repeat.

The whole point in regular battles is opening a way so an unit can move and kill the Warcaster.

Of course, not all Warcasters hide behind their troops all the time, some are powerfull melee powerhouses on their own right.

Gx1080 said...

@DFM

The cards are included with the models (or bought apart in a faction deck) and are basically post-it notes with the stats and abilities of your models. You know, so you don't have to shuffle a rulebook all the time(why do you think that GW is releasing cards with the Lores of Magic, huh?).

The quickstart rules (back) on the Privateer Press website shows some examples of this.

The faction rulebooks (think codexes) includes exactly the same units as the quickstart rules + plenty more (So you don't get bored).

Do proxy everything and have a solid list before you buy anything, of course.

Brother Loring said...

Well Gx1080 beat me to it. Yeah, with every box-set or model you buy, you get the stats card within. Many of the boxes contain the old cards, but all retailers have been issued new cards to replace these when sets/blisters are sold. The main rule book does contain rules for many units for the 4 main faction (Cygnar, Khador, Cryx and Menoth) and also has a few mercenary units in. Each faction has a rule book (a la codex) which contains all of the units available and also has more intricate rules, like the tier system to lists - which I think is a nice way to provide bonus' for going with 'fluffy' lists. Don't get scared by that, there are many different Warcasters, so you can pretty much chose your own fluff and they seem to work well together too which is nice.

There is also a faction deck which is available, but I don't really see the point in it - you get the cards with the models and they do not have all of the information the faction book has. Maybe it's more for proxying.

In game play, the cards are usually placed in clear sleeves and as wounds are lost, they are marked off, which is pretty useful. They do contain all of the information relevant to the model too - stats, weapons, skills magic etc. But you could just photocopy the page from the faction book (sshhhh!).

I agree that activation should be easy to get used to, but it really adds a different aspect to the game and requires a different type of tactical play.

First full game tomorrow. I'll try to post a list tomorrow.

Gx1080 said...

I like tier lists because most of them look awesome on the board.

Although they need to let you have a balanced list.

PS: Menoth rules.

Kuolema said...

I've actually been looking into war machine and hordes lately so i would actually enjoy more of those articles.

Do have a question thou, would you guys consider the battleboxes/warpacks a good start to the game??
Are they actually balanced against each other? Like if I buy a legion warpack and a skorne warpack would that be a good place to start?

Also how well do the models from the starting packs hold up when you move up to more competitive games? Would kind of suck to buy bunch of models to learn the game and then never use them in a competitive game.

Also how long could I get away with only buying the main rulebook and not the army books?? Since you really need the codex in 40k as soon as you start an army.
But since they have unit rules in the rule book could I get away with collecting a small army before actually buying the army book?

Also is having a balance between units, beasts/jacks and solos a good idea? And how important is redundancy, in competitive games? Do I need to spam units like in 40k or if having multiple different units better?

Brother Loring said...

I'll look at most of those points in my next post Kuolema. Keep an eye-out for it!

Kuolema said...

Awesome =]
I've poked around the net, found few answers to some of my questions but it's always nice to see other peoples opinions.
The official PP forums seem a lot better than places like warseer/dakka/bols, but forums are still forums.

LostIsland said...

I'm loving these articles BroLo, they're helping draw me and my friends further into Warmachine. Keep up the good work!

Kuolema said...

>=[ You never got around to writing up another article brolo
But oh well, internet is a big place and i did end up finding all the answers to my questions.

Thou finding a place that puts out WM/hordes content that is as good as 3++ 40k content is turning out to be rather hard >.<

Weee comment-mancy, wonder if old comment system still works o.O

Kirby said...

Email him and whine lol.

Brother Loring said...

*mumbles... so many articles to write, not enough time.

I've got my 35 point list ready to rock'n'roll, so hopefully the articles should soon be making another appearance.

Thanks for caring! ;)

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