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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Warmachine? Hordes? What's the difference? Part 1

Alright well war machine and hordes are like two sides of the same coin, they use the same core rules as each other and are fully compatible with each other. So if you have a hordes army and your friend has a war machine army you can play against each other, if you both have hordes armies you can play against each other and if you both have war machine armies you can still play against each other. But now what is the difference between the two? Well when choosing an army the biggest difference is giant robots or massive beasts but because this is mostly a competitive blog lets look at the rule differences and how they affect list building.

So first up the model leading your army, in war machine you get a war caster and in hordes your beasts are controlled by a warlock. They are largely identical to each other, both vary a lot, both can cast spells, both have a feat and both have a battle group. The big difference between the two is war casters use focus while warlocks use fury, this is a huge difference and really changes how you build a list. Let us look at focus first now my guinea pig for this will be pStryker the cygnar war caster you get in the battle group, all war casters have a focus stat shown on their card. pStryker has a focus of 6 which means at the start of each of his turns he loses any focus on him and then gains 6 focus, there are 4 things stryker may use his focus for which are casting spells, fueling war jacks, increasing his combat power or camping to increase his ARM. Let's take a look at each of them in detail.

Fueling war jacks is one of the most important uses for focus, see because they are giant robots controlled by a war caster they require focus to run at their peak performance. While other models can run or charge whenever they want, war jacks require focus to do either of these but they can also spend focus to buy more attacks, preform power attacks or boost rolls but we will look at war jacks in more detail later. So guinea pig boy has 6 focus and we decide to give 2 focus to our defender and keep the rest for ourselves, the defender would then use the focus to boost his to hit roll with his gun and his damage roll. You can give as much of your focus or as little of your focus to your jacks as you want, it's a balancing act. The more focus you give to your jacks the less focus you have for yourself and the more focus you keep the less effective your jacks will be.

Spells are simple, all war casters have a list of spells on their cards so guinea pig boy has arcane blast, arcane bolt, arcane shield, blur, earthquake and snipe. Now we are sitting on 4 focus since we gave 2 to our defender earlier and we decide we want to cast snipe on our long gunner unit to increase their range and snipe costs 2 focus to cast which leaves us with 2 focus remaining. You may spend as much or as little focus on spells as you like you don't have to spend your focus if there are better options to use your focus on.
Next up your war caster can use his or her focus to fuel their combat powers by buying additional attacks and boosting attack or damage rolls the same way as a war jack. Guinea pig boy isn't the best at melee, he has an ok sword but he would much rather support his army with his spells but luckily for me he does have a decent pistol worth looking at. Now RNG10 Pow10 and ROF1 is very meh the useful part is the two special rules which are magic weapon and disruption. Magic weapon allows guinea pig boy to damage incorporeal models which is situational but very useful, all war casters and warlocks have magic weapons. The second special rule is mostly only on cygnar models and is called disruption which means when you hit an enemy war jack with the pistol the war jack loses any focus on it and cannot be allocated focus or channel spells for one round. We said earlier how warjacks require focus to run at their peak performance so denying a warjack access to focus can really cripple it for a turn.

Now guinea pig boy will shoot an opponents jack and use one focus to boost his to hit roll leaving him with one focus left and a disrupted jack that can't get focus, yay! lol

The last use for focus is camping, which simply means not spending your focus because every focus point on a warcaster increases their ARM by +1. So in our example guinea pig boy has 1 focus left over and a base ARM of 15 which means he is sitting at 16 ARM in his opponents turn. Now the +1 ARM is kinda wasted in this example but some casters can become very difficult to kill by camping most of their focus for example the harbinger of menoth has base ARM of 14 but also has 10 focus meaning she can sit at ARM24 if she wants to. When building a list you have to make sure you are capable of dropping casters like terminus/butcher if they decide to camp focus otherwise you are going to struggle.

In one turn guinea pig boy gave two focus to a jack, spent 2 focus to cast snipe, one focus to boost his to hit roll with his pistol and camped his last focus for +1 ARM. At the start of his next turn you remove the 1 focus remaining on him and then he generates 6 more focus which he may then allocate to jacks or use to cast spells and so on.

Let's take a closer look at war jacks and why focus is so important to them, we mentioned earlier that because war jacks are robots and not living beings they require focus from their controlling war caster to run at their peak. All war jacks can be allocated up to 3 focus at the start of your turn, some war jacks break this rule and can have more than 3 but in most cases you may only give a war jack 3 focus. We also mentioned war jacks may spend focus to run, charge, make power attacks, boost rolls and buy additional attacks which makes a focus fueled jack a very dangerous foe but a focus starved war jack is much less of a threat.

For this example I'll use an ironclad the heavy in the cygnar battle group, this little ironclad has a SPD of 5 which means if he gets no focus he is only moving 5" a turn. But if we where to give him just one focus he could run up to 10" or charge up to 8", charging also grants an additional damage dice on your first attack.
An ironclad with no focus can make two attacks, one with it's hammer and one with it's right fist but an iron clad with 3 focus could make 5 attacks, 4 with it's hammer and one with it's fist.

As you can see focus can greatly increase a war jacks performance but not all war jacks require 3 focus, arc nodes for example are normally fine with 0-1 focus as they like to avoid combat so you may cast spells out of them. Ranged war jacks with only one shot don't need more than 2 focus since since you may not shoot more times than you have ROF so depending on the target one focus to boost your attack roll then one focus to boost damage and your ranged jack is happy.

What all this means is focus is one of the most important stats when building a war machine army because if you take too many jacks you won't be able to fuel all of them or you will not have enough focus to cast the spells you want to. All factions have some models that can help out your war caster by granting jacks focus, these support solos all have their own advantages and disadvantages that must be considered.

As different war casters have different focus stats and different war jacks want different amounts of focus at different times of the game there is no rule of x number of jacks at 35 points and y number of jacks at 50 points. A melee jack will only want one focus for the first turns of the game to let it run but will want more focus when it gets into combat, a ranged jack like a hunter is pretty accurate and only has one shot so they are happy with one focus all the time. You have to sit down and look at the caster you want to take as well as the jacks you want to take with them and ask your self if you have enough focus to run all the jacks and still have enough left over for your caster? If you do not you either drop some jacks or add jack marshals/models with the power booster ability/anything that can grant your war caster additional focus as these allow you to take more jacks while still casting spells and being awesome. Be careful with jack marshals as they take the war jack out of your war casters battle group with means your war caster may not give that war jack focus and any spells that only affect your war casters battle group will not work on a marshaled war jack.

With war machine if you don't want to take lots of jacks you don't have too, you can only run one jack and the rest units and solos if you want too and still do well.

Next article will look at the hordes side of things and will compare fury to focus as well as war jacks to war beasts.

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