Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

  1. #1
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    This is the third Introduction Guide I'm writing for Warmachine/Hordes. The first was lost a long time ago when the website it was on vanished into the ether. The second may or may not be still around depending on how the PP forum revamp turns out, but the end of MK2 and the advent of MK3 made it obsolete to a certain point, and I've wanted to rewrite a bunch of things for a while anyway.

    So, what can you expect from this guide? I'll talk about a lot of things, from basic strategies to specific techniques like deciding when to boost and when to buy extra attacks instead. There is also a brief overview over the various factions, including starting points and essential models, that will be updated periodically. But for the most part, it's just things I think new players will find helpful.

    The first thing I want to talk about is game sizes and formats.


    Battlebox Games

    Battlebox games are widely seen as the best starting point into the game. Battleboxes are relatively cheap, come with a free rulebook, and are (more or less) balanced against each other. What's more, they were designed to teach you all sides of the game, coming (where possible) with a pure melee model, a ranged model and an arc node that helps you explore spell casting. Furthermore, the small game size ensures (relatively speaking) fast games (unless both players hold back infinitely, hesitating to commit their models to combat), while staying lean enough that players can better understand what the crucial, game-deciding moves were and learn from that. Believe me, things become a lot more clouded and murky as the point levels and army sizes go up.

    The downsides of battlebox games are that they are
    a) mostly about positioning, because things are mostly over when the models start hitting each other
    b) are only balanced to a certain degree (more about that in a minute) and
    c) are far from optimized, which means there are lots of different ways to combine abilities, but they are certainly not the kind of lean, clean, elegant "oiled machines" I personally enjoy playing...


    Basic Battlebox Strategies

    From what I've seen so far, there are two basic battlebox strategies: Go after the opposing heavy or go directly after the opposing caster.

    Going after the opposing heavy (which can be both a heavy warjack or a heavy warbeast) is an attrition strategy; not only are heavies the hardest models on the table, but they are also the hardest-hitting models on the table. The best and often only way to remove an opposing heavy (in a battlebox game) is with your own heavy. If you can kill the opposing heavy without losing your own in the process, you create a situation where your strongest model can run virtually unchecked, slowly moping up the reminder of the opposing battle force.

    This is also where the biggest imbalances of the current battleboxes come from. You see, most boxes come with a heavy and two lights, except for Khador with its two heavies and Trollbloods with their three lights; the Neraph in the Legion box, nominally a heavy, has similar problems.

    Going after the opposing "caster" (which is shorthand for both Warcasters and Warlocks) is called assassination, and it's often the only way to win a game you can't win on attrition. This is where the various lights come in, as most of them have guns that can penetrate past your opponent's front line, arc nodes that allow spell slinging deep into enemy lines, etc. Not that assassination is ever easy, and you nearly always risk massive casualties in retribution, should you fail.


    25 Points: Learning to Run

    I personally recommend 25 point games for new players that are sick of playing battleboxes. Pick your own caster, pick his or her battlegroup, add a unit and a solo or two, and go. The game will still be mostly about attrition of heavies and finding assassination opportunities, but hand picked armies add a whole new dynamic to the mix. As does infantry. So will scenarios, which you should definitely start using at this point.

    Personally I'm mostly familiar with the scenarios from the official WM/H Steamroller tournament pack ([a href="http://files.privateerpress.com/op/2016/SteamrollerRules2016.pdf"]free download available[/a] from [a href="http://privateerpress.com/organized-play/steamroller-tournaments"]the PP website[/a]), but the scenarios in the new core rulebook look fine to me. I recommend scenarios focusing on the center of the board, though, as you don't really want to split 25 points armies any further.


    50 Points: Casual Games

    In my experience, 50 points are perfect for casual games between somewhat experienced players. You start to get real armies, real battles, complex battle plans begin to form but things are still a bit less clustered than they are at 75. This is what I'm playing for the most part, when I'm not running smaller games with our new players.


    75 Points: Tournament Standard

    One of the basic truths of WMH seems to be that the game becomes more balanced as points go up. But the tables also get more clustered, the games take longer, and can appear more overwhelming. 75 points is the standard tournament size, but I wouldn't recommend it to a new or casual player. Not that you have to listen to me, of course...


    100 Points: Scaling Up

    I've recently heard rumblings that some people push for 100 points as the new standard, mostly because it would allow for the amounts of infantry we saw in MK2 to come back to the tables. Not sure how this will pan out, let's wait and see, I guess.


    On List Pairings

    This is something you will run into eventually: Matchups are a decisive factor in WMH, often getting a good or bad matchup matters more than whether your army is particularly strong or weak. To mitigate that to a certain degree, many events allow people to bring complimenting army lists, then before each game they look at the lists their opponents have, select one of their lists and both players simultaneously reveal their choices. Then the two chosen lists play against each other.

    The problem with list pairings is, in my experience, that they become more relevant the better the players are and the more they know about the game. If you don't know what your opponent's armies can do, and perhaps are still trying to figure out how your own army works, list pairings are mostly pointless; you basically end up choosing matchups at random. So until you reach a certain skill level, it's a further complication for little gain really.


    Playing Time

    Deathclocks are a common occurrence in WMH games, i.e. chess clocks with a certain amount of time for each player, and when your time runs out you lose by default. This allows tournaments to finish on time, and some people use deathclocks in their private matches to keep the games short and fast.

    However, I've found that new players often need a lot of time to clarify rules questions, think through their options, etc. Even the casual players I normally play with prefer untimed games (unless there are outside factors that require a game to be done by, say, the time the last train goes), because that allows for chatter and some witty banter without feeling stressed out.

    What I've found is that a good casual untimed game will usually run around 2.5 hours, assuming people play at point levels matching their skill level. Some games will be over after an hour, if an assassination opportunity presents itself early on, others will run for 3 hours or more, often turning into massive attrition wars. But 2 to 2.5 hours with deployment and perhaps some after-game analysis with your opponent feels about right, on average.

    ***

    That's it for today, more in future posts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.
    < This post has a report Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  2. #2
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about basic strategies, some of which builds on what I already said about battlebox games, some of which will be entirely new.


    The Attrition-Assassination-Scenario Triangle

    Looking at the possible win conditions of the game, there are three possible roads to victory:

    Scenario is winning the game by Control Points (scored by taking and holding dedicated zones and flags) while the opponent still has a relevant army on the table. This usually relies on two elements: Control and Jam. Control is everything that allows you to move enemy models, to restrict enemy movement, etc. Jam is the established term for blocking parts of the table off with some of your own models, usually employed early on with really fast models to lock the opponent out of the center of the table entirely.

    Assassination is winning the game by killing the opposing caster while your opponent still has a relevant army on the table and still contests the scenario game. Some armies are deliberately built towards assassination, which often means long-ranged firepower, highly mobile melee pieces, effects that knock the opposing caster down (to bring DEF down), reduce armor, take away their Focus/Fury, etc.

    Attrition is killing enough enemy models that your opponent can no longer defend the scenario and protect their caster. Obviously, attrition only works when you kill more of them than they kill of you...

    Now, most factions can play towards any style, but most factions are better at one of them than the others. This usually starts with the abilities the different casters bring to the table (a control caster has a different focus than a caster with ARM-buffs and attack buffs, obviously), but extends into regular troop selection. A unit that can pushes enemy models around fits a different style than a unit that outright kills the enemy.


    A Word on the Casters

    Now, I want to quickly point out one of the paradoxes of WMH: In chess terms, Warcasters and Warlocks are king and queen in one. They have the personal power of the queen, but losing your caster means instant defeat, so they also need to be protected. This means the best place for your caster is usually closely behind your lines, close enough to impact the battle, far enough back to stay save. Some casters can play further forward (we often call them "frontline casters") than the average "midfield caster", others play as far back as possible ("backfield casters"), usually fragile casters with huge areas of influence.

    But you also have to take your opponent's capabilities into consideration: A dedicated assassination list will reach a lot deeper behind your front lines than a defensively-minded attrition army.

    Here's something else to consider: Most warcasters benefit from a combination of high DEF, high ARM, sufficient hit boxes, transfers and other defensive abilities that allows them to casually shrug of the blows and bullets from random combatants, while their own Focus/Fury allows them to kill infantry in droves when they commit, some can even go after harder targets (depending primarily on the P&amp;S of their main weapon).

    However, a heavy warjack or a bunch of boosted POW 12 attacks will reliable kill most casters, especially if you can knock them down first, or otherwise reduce their DEF.

    This, by the way, is why we see so few dedicated melee casters on the table: They need to get into the enemy's face to do their thing, but that exposes them too much. The few melee casters that actually get played regularly either impact the battle early on with support abilities until the biggest threats to their own health are removed (Khador's Butcher and Vlad comes to mind), or aim directly for the melee assassination themselves (Cygnar's Stryker2 for instance).

    Shooty casters are played more often, since they can stay behind the lines and still do their thing, but the most common casters are without a doubt control casters and support casters that make their army stronger or the enemy weaker from the safety of the backfield.

    Well, actually, all of that primarily applies to regular sized games (50 points and up); with less models on the table, casters that can get work done themselves become a lot more valuable. In other words: Don't be confused if your experiences at 25 points contradict everything I just said...


    The DASH-Principle

    Now, let me briefly explain something I learned early on in my own Warmachine career, the DASH-principle:

    DASH stands for DEFense, ARMor, Stealth and pure numbers (as in "a horde of something").

    What these four have in common is that they keep your models alive, and each requires different counters: Accuracy, power, volume of attacks, etc. You could easily add magic weapons to counter Incorporeal, and I believe there are a handful more out there.

    The most basic application of the DASH-principle is checking if you can counter everything your opponent might throw at you. If not your army has a blind spot that can go unnoticed for a while if you never run into the particular thing, but when you do, you may find yourself in a hole before the game has even started.

    To give an example, my first army was Cygnar and I was particularly bad at anti-armor (which had always been Cygnar's biggest weakness, and I didn't bother to shore it up, either), so imagine my frustration when I first ran into Khador's Vlad1, a warcaster routinely sitting on ARM 22 or more, leading ARM 20 Khador jacks and ARM 21 Shocktroopers into battle...

    This, by the way, leads us to the concept of skew. Skew is building your whole army towards one particular defensive stat or mechanism, to overwhelm your opponent's capacity to kill that kind of model. ARM-skew is a common example for this, especially now that warjacks got playable in big numbers in the new edition. Which leads us to:


    The MK2 Triangle: Armor-Weaponmasters-Gunline

    At the heart of the game, through most of MK2, was a rock-paper-scissors triangle:
    Gunlines shoot weaponmaster swarms. Weaponmaster swarms wreck armor. Armor overruns gunlines.

    Now, one can debate whether a rock-paper-scissors triangle is healthy for a game or not, since it can easily create matchup problems at the army composition stage, leading to games where a player is already on the backfoot before models are even deployed.

    What's worse, in MK2 many armies could do one of those three particularly well. Case in Point: Cygnar excelled at gunlines, Cryx excelled at weaponmaster swarms, Trollbloods excelled at armor. So basically any game between these three factions was already favoring one player over the other by the time they had chosen their factions.

    (This is one of the reasons the multi-list format came into existence)

    There's still debate to what degree the old triangle survived into MK3, with several factors still unaccounted for: Bigger mandatory battlegroups and thus less infantry in the table; warjack-walls becoming more viable with Power Up; previously unseen anti-armor gunlines popping up; etc.

    How things shake out in the long run is anyone's guess at this point.


    Early Trends in MK3

    Meanwhile, new trends are showing up in early MK3:

    Armor Skew, different models, same concept

    Control, hailed by many as the new counter to armor

    Mighty Gunlines, often capable of killing both infantry and armor before they can engage

    LOS-Denial, cloud walls and forests appearing out of thin air to deny the opponent line-of-sight (LOS) to the approaching army

    Weaponmaster Swarms meanwhile seem dead on arrival in early MK3, at least according to general consensus; meanwhile individual players keep fielding select weaponmaster units with quite some success...

    ***

    Again, it's too early to conclusively say what the MK3 meta game will look like once things settle (again, early 2017 sounds like a reasonable date for that to me), but I've tried to give you a basic idea of where we currently stand and where things seem headed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  3. #3
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about the tempo of the game, the rhythm of war.


    Start Fast, Then Accelerate

    This is the most definitive feature of the game for me: Scenario forces us to engage in the center of the table by turn two. Then casualties start to pile up, holes open in both players' lines, we run out of expandable models to contest zones and flags with, pressure keeps mounting on both players, until one of us gets desperate enough to go all in with one last, decisive push that wins the game or kills the player through over-exposure.

    Not that there aren't variations. I once played a game between two assassination lists where one player felt compelled to strike first and went all in on the assassination at the top of round two, came short by a hair's width and died in the counter attack before the second round was over. And I've played games between attrition lists built to outlast the enemy that went into overtime, lasting seven rounds, eight rounds, once going into round nine.


    Game Phases - The Anatomy of a Game

    Please understand that this is a generalization, and individual games don't always play out this way, especially when we take assassination and scenario play into consideration, but as a general rule of thumb I find this quite useful:

    The Rush to the Center: In round one both armies usually run forward to get within contesting range of the central zones / flags. A few models with extreme threat ranges may already be taking pot shots at the opponent. If a model doesn't run forward, it should have a good reason, like a warcaster putting up the first upkeep spells. In fact warcasters are often the only models that don't run in turn one, which means they can easily fall behind their army. For that reason alone I've found it useful to deploy my warcaster up center by default, i.e. in the center of the table as far forward as possible. This may feel exposed, but by the time your opponent can reach your deployment zone, you'll have moved your whole army in front of your caster anyway.

    Full Engagement: Round two usually sees both armies engage in the center of the table. Depending on the armies this can be a full blown assault that cripples the opponent in one swift strike (known as an alpha strike) or dies to their retaliation, or it can be screens of expandable models trying to open charge lanes for the heavy hitters waiting in the second line. Or perhaps its two bricks clawing at each other for several rounds, neither getting through the other's defenses.

    The Wear Down: Eventually casualties will pile up, usually on both sides, but one side will often get ahead in attrition. This is where the pressure reaches a critical level and desperate plays start to look reasonable. This phase will often end with one player going all in on a last, desperate Hail Mary gamble that usually decides the game, one way or the other. Sometimes it will instead end with both players whittled down to their caster and a handful of other models. This is where melee casters really come into their own, as they can pretty much force the engagement now.


    The Timing of Feats

    I remember endlessly agonizing over when to trigger my feat. Was I too early? Was I too late? Will I need the feat more urgently down the road? Will this be the last chance to get tangible effects out of it? etc., etc.

    Now, how do we resolve this conundrum?

    First of all, we have to differentiate between different types of feats. At the most simple, there are two types, precise and diffuse.

    A precise feat has a specific purpose: Blow up an opposing heavy, set up an assassination, return a dead model, etc. Those are the kind of feats I tend to keep in reserve until I see a good application, until I get the shot at the assassination, until I know which heavy I want removed (and it comes into range), etc.

    And then there are the diffuse feats: army wide armor buffs, accuracy buffs, extra attacks, stuff like that. And as surprising as it may sound, but the best turn to use them is often the second. The rationale here is that you often want to tilt the balance in your favor in the full engagement phase of the game, so you get as far ahead as possible in attrition and board position early on.

    Control feats can be a bit of both, actually, but when in doubt, pull the trigger in round two. Worst case: You make a mistake and learn something for the future...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  4. #4
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about deployment and early game maneuvering.


    The Tight Brick

    While new players often scatter their models across their deployment zones, more experienced players tend to form tight block formations as close to the center of the table as possible. Why?

    Well, first of all, scenarios pretty much ensure that the battles are fought in the center of the table. Pretty short weapon ranges require models to be close to the action to have an impact on the game. And few models have the necessary movement to come in from the backfield and immediately make an impact.

    That means space close to the center becomes a commodity, especially for your slower models that need to find the shortest routes possible to the action. Consequently, the slowest models often form the spearhead of a deployment formation, with the faster models arrayed around and in rare cases behind them.

    Terrain also plays into this; walking around a forest or rock takes time, so I often end up splitting my forces if there is an inconvenient piece of terrain in my way, so they can walk around it on both sides and meet on the other side.

    The only other reason to split your forces in deployment (that I'm aware of) is a "wide" scenario with zones and flags scattered across the width of the table. There's nothing to be gained by deploying your whole army in a tight brick in the center when they can't reach the scenario in time.


    Crossing Lanes

    There is another benefit to a compact central deployment: It's easy to shift models right or left by a few inches on their way forward, so from a central deployment you can match up your own models with favorable enemy mode on the approach. What you can't do is rush a model deployed on the far left flank across the table towards the right flank if that is where you think their best spot is.


    Unpacking Your Army

    There is one danger in a tight brick formation, though: Models can easily get into each other's way; I know that some competitive players go as far as practicing their unpack moves on otherwise empty boards (except for a bit of terrain perhaps, as far as that terrain matters for the turn one movements).

    It's also pretty common to fan out during your unpacking moves, to create the kind of space where AOEs can't wipe out whole sways of your own infantry. Again, open space becomes a commodity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  5. #5
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    I want to discuss some basic math of the game. But let's talk about something else first:


    Alpha Strikes and Piece Trades

    Alpha Strike is short hand for attacking first, in a way that cripples the opponent and prevents him from fighting back. If you have fought a few battle box games by now, you probably know what I'm talking about: One heavy charges in, kills the other heavy, and the opponent has nothing left on the table to effectively fight back. That is the alpha strike in a nutshell.

    At higher point levels, alpha strikes can be mitigated a bit, by screening infantry, by denial abilities, by a second line of heavy hitters taking out the alpha striking attacker, which leads to piece trades (as in Chess): Send in a model to take out an enemy model, knowing it will die in retaliation; a sacrifice. Piece trades are pretty common in lists with multiple heavies on both sides, the goal is usually to end up with the last heavy on the table.

    Being able to dictate the terms of piece trades is a huge advantage, and the deciding factor here are often threat ranges.


    Threat Ranges

    The threat range is the range at which a model can attack. It's usually speed + weapon range for ranged attacks and speed + weapon range + 3" charge bonus for melee attacks. One of the core skills of the game is the ability to quickly judge where a model's threat range ends, both for your own and your enemy's models.

    Knowing the threat ranges of your own models seems trivial, you don't want to attack something just to find out you're an inch short.

    Knowing the threat ranges of your opponent's models tells you where your own models will be save and where not, where they will live and where they will die.

    To give a simple example, I once played a low points game against a new player (perhaps old battleboxes, perhaps 25 points, I can't remember), and I was raking my brain to find a way to kill his heavy with mine when he had both the longer threat range and a bunch of control abilities on his caster. In the end he walked his heavy right into my threat range and left him there, for me to just walk up and punch it into pulp...

    ***

    That's it for today, next time we'll continue some basic math with dice probabilities; when to boost, when to buy another attack, and when combined attacks are useful and when they are not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  6. #6
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    As promised last time, I'll talk a bit about basic dice math today:


    To Boost or Not to Boost?

    Now, this is a pretty simple and straightforward question: When is a good time to spend focus or force a warbeast to boost a roll, and when is it a waste of precious resources? The answer, sadly, is not as simple and straightforward. First of all, it depends on the situation, and even when you know what the situation is, you'll still need to do a few quick calculations in your head.

    Luckily, there are a few shortcuts you can take, and I want to talk about these here. Let's start with a simple chart, which is not mathematically correct, but close enough for 99% of all the calculations we make in this game:


    Necessary Roll on 2 dice Necessary Roll on 3 dice Chance of Success
    11 15 10%
    10 14 15%
    9 13 25%
    8 12 40%
    - 11 50%
    7 10 60%
    6 9 75%
    5 8 85%
    4 7 90%


    Too complicated?

    Well, let's simplify further:


    Necessary Roll on 2 dice Necessary Roll on 3 dice Chance of Success
    10 or above 14 or above extreme long shot
    9 13 unlikely (25%)
    7-8 10-12 even odds (~50%)
    6 9 likely (75%)
    5 or below 8 or below near guaranteed


    Again, these are not mathematically correct, I rounded a lot of numbers up or down to the closest decimal to make the chart as simple and memorable as possible. If a situation comes up repeatedly, it might be worth figuring out the correct number once and then just file that away in your mind for the future.

    Here's one such number I have filed away: 8

    That is the point where buying extra attacks and boosting attack rolls evens out. If you need to roll less, buying extra attacks is more efficient, if you need to roll higher, boosting is more efficient.

    The math behind that is basically this:

    A boosted attack roll will hit an 8 in 83.8% of all rolls.
    If you roll 10 boosted attacks, you end up with ~8.4 hits.

    An unboosted attack roll will hit an 8 in 41.7% of all rolls.
    If you roll 10 unboosted attacks, you end up with ~4.2 hits.
    And consequently, if you roll 20 unboosted attacks, you end up with the same ~8.4 hits as before.

    Now, of course, these numbers don't line up with the chart above; that's the price we pay for rounding up and down, we lose a bit of accuracy. But then again, we're talking rough and fast calculations, in the heat of a game you rarely need more than a rough estimate. And we're still talking dice here; we can play the odds, but the dice can still turn up all-ones at the most inconvenient moment possible.

    Also, circumstances matter. I'm not going to explain the math behind it, but in a situation where you just need a single successful roll of 8 or more, boosting is actually a lot better than buying.


    Damage Rolls

    Now, on to damage rolls. When should we boost them, when should we buy extra attacks?

    Well, personally I go with expected net damage: If my P&amp;S 18 attack hits your ARM 20 model, how much damage can I expect?

    The average result on 2 dice is 7, the average result on 3 dice is 10.5; with P&amp;S 18 and ARM 20 we're at dice minus 2, so an unboosted attack roll will do 5 damage on average and a boosted attack roll will do 8.5 on average. Now, 2 times 5 damage seems a tad better than 8.5 damage once, right?

    Except, my first attack has already connected (otherwise we wouldn't be thinking about boosting damage at all), whereas the second attack I can still buy has not. Let's say I have a 50% hit chance, just for simplicity's sake. Now I'm comparing 8.5 damage on a boosted roll to 5 unboosted damage plus perhaps another 5 damage. The expected damage for the unboosted roll is more or less 5 + (50% of 5) = 5 + 2.5 = 7.5; so in this case, I can expect a slightly better return on a boost. But the numbers are close, and the final decision again depends on specific battlefield conditions. If I'm desperate to get the maximum damage in, I'll probably take the second attack and hope for spiked dice on all my rolls...


    But What About Infantry?

    Of course, if you don't need to pile up damage, things work out differently. I can think of very few situations where you would ever consider boosting damage rolls against single-wound models, but knowing the math is still useful. It tells you how many casualties your infantry will inflict against your opponent's infantry, for instance.

    Now to the math, we will treat both rolls here as having a chance of success. And we can simply multiply the chances of success for both rolls with each other: Need a 6 to hit and 7 to kill? That's a 75% for the 6 times a 60% for the 7; 75% of 60% is 45%, so on average about half your attacks should be kills.

    We can now start to play around with the numbers, apply damage buffs, calculate whether combined attacks (CMAs, CRAs) are worth it, etc.

    Let's do combined attacks quickly:

    So, your infantry is attacking another unit of infantry, you hit on 6s and kill on 7s (or the other way round, doesn't matter) and we want to know if we should use combined attacks: That's two attacks with a 45% success rate (as we already established) for every combined attack which hits on 4s and kills on 5s. That's 90% * 85% = ~75%.

    10 attacks with a 75% success rate comes down to ~7.5 kills
    20 attacks with a 45% success rate comes down to ~9 kills

    May not seem like a big difference, but those combined attacks are doing just 80% of the work done by the regular attacks.


    A Word on Combined Attacks (CMAs and CRAs)

    Generally speaking, combined attacks are only worth bothering with when one of the two rolls needs an 8 or more.

    (I won't go into too many details here, but the best rule of thumb is probably "8-and-6, or 9 on either roll")

    Why, you ask? Well, combined attacks look great on paper, because you get a bonus on two different rolls, but you pay a steep price by giving up half your attacks. Essentially, the two boni combined have to make each attack twice as effective, just to break even. If they can't do that, they are a trap!

    ***

    That's it for today, see you soon!
    Last edited by RandomThoughts; 03-03-2017 at 20:28.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  7. #7
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about model evaluation for brand new players. What to look at when picking models when you have zero experience of your own. So yeah, most of you, feel free to skip this one!


    Speed, Strength, Endurance

    Let's start with the Warbeasts and Warjacks, which will be your primary combat models early on, especially if you followed my previous advice and went the route of low-points games. At 25 points you may have a single unit on the table, below that it's probably just your battlegroup and a solo or two. Which means your opponent will have the same, which means we can focus on defeating his battlegroup for now.

    So, two battlegroups meet, what happens? Well, usually one side will get the alpha, usually the side with the longer threat ranges, and they will do their best to cripple the opposing side so they can't retaliate.

    So threat range is obviously important. He who charges further charges first. So look at your threat ranges carefully: Speed; melee range; thread extenders, like extra movement.

    Then, whoever gets the alpha needs to deal a crushing blow. This is where raw damage output comes in: MAT to hit the target. High P&S to deal maximum damager on each attack. Number of melee weapons and Fury stat and free charges to get as many attacks in as possible. And of course all abilities that increase the damage output in other ways, like Warpwolves giving themselves +2 P&S with their strength warps.

    Still, a successful charge does not automatically make for a successful alpha. High DEF, high ARM, lots of hit boxes, defensive abilities like Set Defense, etc. can all blunt the alpha, and a failed alpha usually leaves the attacker in a quite vulnerable position.


    Internal Strength - External Strength

    Now, not all speed, strength and endurance has to come from within a model. A variety of support models increase all three: Protectorate Choir, Skorne Beasthandlers and Retribution Arcanists buff damage. Circle Blackclads increase charge ranges. Skorne Agonizers and the Trollblood Krielstone Bearers bolster their armies' ARM stats.

    And that's before we take Animi like "Primal" and "Rush" under consideration.

    Also, don't underestimate dice manipulation. A simple reroll in the right moment can be all you need to turn a failed attack into a successful alpha strike.


    Enter the Warcaster

    Of course, many Warcasters come with their own buffs, increasing threat ranges with spells like Boundless Charge, damage output with spells like Fury or survivability with spells like Arcane Shield. When you're brand new, look for those.

    Of course, buffing your own models and debuffing your opponent's models is often miai, equivalent. So an ARM debuff is worth just as much as a damage buff, assuming you can apply it.

    Also, don't forget to look at feats. A single turn of "add one dice, drop the lowest" can be the difference between a successful and a failed alpha.


    Control the Flow!

    Of course, not all warcasters have to directly increase or decrease speed or damage to swing a game around. Blocking LOS by creating smoke or a forest right between the threatening enemy jack and your own warbeast can deny your opponent a clean charge, for instance. And one of the sweetest denial abilities in battlegroup games is Admonition, which allows you to walk right out of your opponent's melee range after they already committed to the attack.


    Here come the Weaponmasters

    Of course, putting a unit of weaponmaster infantry down is always an option in small point games. They thrive on crushing armor, and it's not like your opponent will necessarily have a good counter to infantry ready at these point values.

    This is what we call playing into the meta, making educated guesses on what you will or will not face across the table, and prepare accordingly. Of course, if you see a lot of soft-hitting infantry, you can do the reverse and play full beast-heavy / jack-heavy skew, laughing as their POW 10 shots bounce off your heavy armor with little effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  8. #8
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about traps. No, not traps laid out for us by our opponent, and not traps we lay out for our opponents, either. I'm talking about common errors and miss-judgements, I'm talking about cases of:

    "No, don't do that, that's a trap!!"


    Reckless Caster Placement

    I am particularly wont to do this myself. Too many times I've been caught in a kind of tunnel vision, seeing nothing but the imminent victory, so I didn't pay enough attention to possible counter attacks. And *whoosh*, a few clever dice rolls later my caster was down and the game lost.

    Two games in particular stand out, both against the same opponent. I was winning the attrition in a landslide in both; once I got careless, leaving my Caine in a position where his Kraye could gun her down, the other time I moved my Caine deliberately out of his sight behind a rock - and into the extended melee threat of his Sturgis, extended by bouncing off another model intended to block his movement around said rock...

    (In my defense, it was an online game, I didn't have Sturgis's card in hand, and hadn't been able to do more than a vague glimpse on it beforehand...)

    At other times I simply underestimate my opponent's threat range and assassination threat in the early game. I've lost a number of games over the years exposing my Caines in turn 1, eager to get work done with those magnificent magelock pistols. I've been knocked down by a channeled spell and shot to death by 19" threat range Nyss. I've underestimated the range and power of Cygnar guns. But I've also had my fair share of round 1 wins as well, projecting firepower way further across the table than my opponents thought possible.

    A misplaced caster often is a lost caster.


    High Risk, Low Reward

    This is a game that allows players to set their own pace, to play conservatively when they feel in control and to play aggressively when they get desperate. But it also allows for reckless overplay, for high-risk moves that offer low rewards. Sending in a high-value solo to take out a grunt or two and die in retaliation is a classic example. Now, if that grunt or two absolutely had to die for you to accomplish something else (clear a zone to score, clear a charge lane for someone else), that's something else entirely. But sending in a 5 point solo to kill two points of infantry and die, not so much...

    Similar moves I've seen include sending in a heavy to its certain doom for an attack on an opposing heavy that had something like a 20% chance of success. (This is where the math from last time comes in handy, calculating the rough chance of success before commiting models)


    High Complexity, Low Reward

    This is somewhat similar, but a completely different issue: WMH is a highly complex game that allows for some very complicated schemes and combos. I've spent whole turns methodically setting up assassinations or scenario wins by carefully removing obstacles one by one, setting up synergies, "solving" the game state like a complex puzzle; and I've lost games because I forgot to execute tiny but crucial steps at the exact right moment. And if you watch high level tournament games, you will often see players spending half their available time just planning their one critcial, game winning turn, thinking it carefully through, contemplating every single factor.

    However, I've also seen new players try to emulate this behaviour, setting up complex schemes that involve multiple moving parts - but will accomplish less than just walking forward with their models and punching stuff.

    "Yes, you could grab that jack, throw it into the forest over there and take it out of the game for two turns - but you could also just wreck it outright, right?"

    Ultimately, we should employ complex schemes and combos when they can accomplish something that simple moves can not. Essentially, do not ask what you can do with your models, ask what you can accomplish with your models.


    Support Bloat

    Extending that line of thought into list building, support bload is the common term for lists that waste so many points on support models, they end up short on combat models to support. This should take attrition into account; you will often lose frontline combat models before you lose support models, so plan accordingly.

    The old mantra is that you should pause from time to time and try taking out all the support from a list, just to see which ones you're actually missing on the table and which ones were taking up valuable space for no gain.

    Of course, there are exceptions: Some models are there as an insurance, to counter a critical threat you may not encounter in a lot of of your games, but it's there when you really, really need it. Like that one model supplying the magical weapons when you face an incorporeal army, or that other model making your high-DEF, low-ARM caster immune to knockdown.

    And let's be honest, often enough the sole purpose of a model is to fill up the last few points you have left when you're done building the rest of your list, and what you're looking for is basically best return.

    Still, my point stands: Don't bring support you don't need, it eats into your budget for actual combat troops.

    ***

    Remember: "It's a Trap!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  9. #9
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    It's been a while, so today I want to talk about:


    Patience

    I've just connected the dots on something I've been seeing a lot lately:

    New players rushing forward with their caster around turn 3, smack into range of the opposing army, just to get a bunch of boosted POW 12s out. My usual response as the opponent is "do you really want to do that?", and if they insist, I will usually just kill their caster.

    Now, I may be wrong, but I think that ties into another phenomen I've seen: Many new players seem to underestimate the time it takes to play a full game. Casual games without clocks tend to run 2-3 hours, especially with new players that are still thinking about all the rules and game mechanics that have become second nature to long-time players like me. However, starting around the one-hour mark I've seen people go into "endgame" mindset, trying to force a conclussion while the opponent is still jockeying for position, looking for an opening, for an opportunity for a brutal alpha strike. The results are usually predictable...

    Now, the advice "Read the flow of your games!" is both totally accurate and totally useless. So let me try something better:

    Dig in for the long haul, most games will last longer than you expected (unforseen assassination losses notwithstanding), so don't get impatient, resist the urge to force a conclusion, unless a clear path appears before your eyes - if you see an assassination opportunity, feel free to go for it; either you succeed, or you learn something for the future! But resist the urge to rush in and force a conclusion just because the game is taking so goram-long. The player that blinks first loses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  10. #10
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    I've put it off to talk about specific factions and models so far, because I wanted to wait and see how the meta shakes out first. I think it's time to start addressing these issues, and I've decided to do this in a format that keeps this thread here clean of lengthy discussions of little value to someone looking for focused, straightforward and well compiled information:

    So, if you disagree with anything written here, please PM me, do not post suggestions or corrections here in this thread. Thank you

    ***


    FACTION IDENTITIES


    CYGNAR - THUNDER & LIGHTNING
    Last update: 2016-12

    Cygnar is the best shooting faction in the game. They bring incredible guns, backed up by powerful stall and control abilities, to buy extra time for more shots. They also excel at scalpeling out enemy key models, including casters. They have a few very durable pieces, but in general Cygnar does not stand up well to attrition. As an elite faction, Cygnar armies are often outnumbered.


    KHADOR - KHADOR SMASH!
    Last update: 2016-12

    Khador is raw power. Khador models are tough, fast and hit like a freight train. Khador doesn't do fancy, doesn't rely on complicated tricks, doesn't bring much support, doesn't build fancy combos or device complex continguencies. Khador just hits the enemy until it breaks.


    PROTECTORATE - BASTION OF FAITH
    Last update: 2016-12

    The Protectorate has always been a slow army with great defenses, partially in stats, but mostly in special rules and abilities. Spell denial, various kinds of invulnerabilities, recursion (reviving dead models), etc. This seems a bit toned down in MK3, so I'm not sure how much the old M.O. of "Take a hit to the face and hit back harder" still applies.

    (I've recently also heard that "new Protectorate" is a strategically flexible faction that can emulate any playstyle in the game, just not as good as the factions specialized in each style.)


    CRYX - THE UNDEAD HORDE
    Last update: 2016-12

    Cryx has always been the Zerg-rush factions, a swarm of expandable cheap, fast, hard-hitting melee models, traversing terrain with ease, backed up by powerful debuffs, recursion (reviving dead models) and a number of "dirty" tricks.

    Like other melee-centric armies they currently seem to struggle to get their army across the table, which leads to a small pool of models that actually get played, so buy with caution!


    RETRIBUTION - TECHNOMAGE ELVES
    Last update: 2016-12

    A dedicated alpha strike faction with extreme threat ranges, high damage output, but low staying power. Very powerful assassination threats. A combined arms faction that will often run a good mix or jacks and infantry, of ranged and melee models. A high tech faction with exotic secondary effects on many of their guns, flexible multi-purpose jacks, and for the most part expensive elite models rather than cheap chaff.


    TROLLBLOODS - THE MIGHTY GLACIER
    Last update: 2016-12

    Trollbloods are the classic Mighty Glacier, slow but relentless, unstoppable, and when they get there, they will hit so hard that the earth trembles. Trollbloods seldom get the alpha strike, but they retaliate all the harder. Their staying power is mostly tied to their incredible ARM stats, which results from a combination of high base stats and various ways to buff ARM further. Like other similar factions, Trollbloods excel in atrition, and will mostly win by wearing their opponents down.


    CIRCLE - MASTERS OF THE FOREST
    Last update: 2016-12

    Circle are masters of mobility, the only faction with relevant terrain generation abilities, and the only primarily melee-based finesse army in the game. Their control and stall abilities resemble Cygnar, but their melee nature forces them to play hit &amp; run rather than stall &amp; shoot.


    LEGION - DRAGON SPAWN
    Last update: 2016-12

    Legion is an alpha-strike-dependant, beast-heavy glass cannon. They have some of the best threat ranges in the game, high mobility with flying and pathfinding beasts, good fury management on various support models. Assassination is always on the table, Attrition less so, because Legion crumbles quickly to dedicated attacks.


    SKORNE - MILITARY MIGHT
    Last update: 2016-12

    The Skorne are a the relentless barbaric invaders, unstoppable, taking the hit, then hitting back harder. They are the most organized of the Hordes factions, valueing military discipline above all else. I've recently heard them described in the same terms as Khador is often described: Playing hard but fair. But they also have a bit of "If you hit me, I will become stronger".
    Last edited by RandomThoughts; 03-03-2017 at 20:23.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  11. #11
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Following up on the previous post, I want to also provide a brief list of models a new player should look at when expanding past the battlebox. That doesn't mean those models are mandatory, but many of them are key pieces that will give you a solid base to build upon.


    Please note that I relied on the faction communities to compile these lists, as my own knowledge is somewhat limited.

    Also note that this list will change over time as the meta develops, both in response to new releases and future errata.


    ***



    MODEL RECOMMENDATIONS PAST THE BATTLE BOXES


    CYGNAR
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Caine1, Caine2, Haley2; possibly also Stryker1, Haley1 or Nemo3

    Jacks
    Heavy Beatsticks: Stormclad, Centurion (magnetize!), Dynamo; possibly also a Defender
    Shooting &amp; Utility: Hunter, Charger, Thorn

    Units
    Stormlances with Katherine Laddermore are the strongest unit Cygnar has right now, but they are expansive and not exactly easy to use; alternatives are regular Trencher Infantry and possibly Rangers

    Solos
    Squire, Journeyman Warcaster, Arlan Strangeways, Gunmage Captain Adepts, Arcane Tempest Riflemen

    Mercenaries
    Reinholdt, Sylys, the Piper of Ord, Lanyssa, Alten Ashley


    KHADOR
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Vlad1, Vlad2, Irusk1, Irusk2, Butcher1

    Jacks
    1-2 Kodiaks, a second Juggernaut, Ruin, Behemoth

    Units
    Melee: MOW Shocktroopers &amp; CA and MOW Kovnik, Uhlans, Kayazi Eliminators (two units); possibly Pikemen
    Shooting: Winter Guard Rifle Corps with Rockets and Kovnik Grigorovich, Widowmakers and Marksman
    Support: Greylord Ternion, Mechanics

    Solos
    MOW Drakhun(s), Wardog

    Mercenaries
    any of these, really: Sylys, Reinholdt, Syxon Orrik, Kell Bailoch, Eiryss1, Eiryss2, Orin Midwinter, Alten Ashley, Ragman, Ogrun Bokur(s), Gobber Tinker(s)


    PROTECTORATE
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Severius1, Kreoss1; possibly the High Reclaimer, or even Amon if you want to go full warjack spam

    Jacks
    magnetized Crusader-kit, magnetized Reckoner-kit; Scourge of Heresy; Redeemer(s), Vigilant

    Units
    Above all else the Choir of Menoth; after that Idrians with CA, then Knights Exampler with CA

    Solos
    Hierophant, Wracks; probably still the Covenant, the Vassal, the Vassal Mechanic

    Mercenaries
    The Piper of Ord comes to mind, perhaps Orin Midwinter, probably a few more



    CRYX
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Deneghra1, Asphyxious1, Venethrax; possibly also Skarre1, Asphyxious3 or Goreshade1; later on The Witch Coven

    Jacks
    A second Deathripper, Stalkers; possibly Nightmare, Barathrum, Deathjack

    Units
    At the moment 2x Satyxis Raiders with CAs; Withershadow Combine; possibly Satyxis Gunslingers, Carrion Thralls

    Solos
    Warwitch Sirens, Necrotechs, Machine Wraiths, possibly Pistol Wraiths

    Mercenaries
    Cylena's Nyss Hunters, Wrongeye and Snapjaw, possibly Orin Midwinter, possibly an Ogrun Bokur


    RETRIBUTION
    Last update: 2017-03

    Good Starting Casters
    probably Kaelyssa, Rahn, and Vyros1

    Jacks
    Discordia, both heavy warjack kits (magnetize!), possibly also Imperatus, possibly a Chimera and/or Griffons

    Units
    Sentinels with CA, Halberdiers with CA and Houseguard Thane, Magehunter Strike Force with CA; double Battle Mages for Rahn; Souless Escort(s)

    Solos
    1-3 Arcanists, Mage Hunter Assassins, Sylys, Eiryss1

    Mercenaries
    Lanyssa Ryssyl


    TROLLBLOODS
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Doomshaper2, Grim1, Gunnbjorn

    Beasts
    1-2 Maulers, Mulg, Rök; Pyre Trolls if you also get Fire Eaters; possibly a Bomber

    Units
    Definitely Krielstone with CA; Highwaymen, (double) Fire Eaters

    Solos
    Runebearer, Whelps, Fell Caller Hero (if running melee Infantry)

    Minions
    Gobber Chef, Lanyssa, possibly an Ogrun Bokur


    CIRCLE
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Probably Kaya2, Baldur1 or one of the Kromacs; and Wurmwood once you have a solid grasp on the basics

    Beasts
    1-2 magnetized Warp Wolf Kits, Ghetorix, Megalith, Scarfell Griffons

    Units
    2x Sentry Stones, Reeves with CA, Shifting Stones (without CA)

    Solos
    Druid Wilder, Blackclad Wayfarer

    Minions
    Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew, Wrongeye and Snapjaw, possibly an Ogrun Bokur


    LEGION
    Last update: 2016-12

    Good Starting Casters
    Thagrosh1; possibly Vayl2, Absylonia2, one of the Lylyths

    Beasts
    2-3 magnetized Dragonspawn kits (Carnivean / Scythean / Ravagore), Angelius, possibly Typhon; Naga Nightlurker

    Units
    Hellmouth(s), Swordsmen, possibly Scouts

    Solos
    Deathstalkers, Shepherds &amp; Forsaken (as Fury management), Succubus

    Minions
    Possibly Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew, Feralgeist(s), Gremlins and an Ogrun Bokur


    SKORNE
    Last update: 2017-01

    Good Starting Casters
    Infantry-heavy: Xerxis1, Makeda2
    Beast-heavy: Naaresh, possibly Morghoul1

    Beasts
    Tiberion, 1-2 magnetized Titan kits; possibly 1-2 Aradus kits, possibly Despoiler; Basilisk Krea, Agonizer, possibly Cyclops Brute(s)

    Units
    Definitely Beast Handlers; after that Karax, Ferox, Bloodrunners, Swordsmen with CA or the Legends of Halaak

    Solos
    Rhadeim if you have Ferox, Master Tormentor, Willbreaker(s)

    Minions
    Orin Midwinter, possibly Wrongeye & Snapjaw, possibly an Ogrun Bokur, possibly one or more Feralgeist, possibly Saxon Orrik - but none of them are really urgent

    ***

    Also, the old MK2 battle boxes are often great deals, if you can still track one down. As well as the two-player boxes, the old All-In-One Boxes, etc. and if you definitely want to run a model not on this list ... go ahead! I've done the same in the past, against all better advice!

    ***

    On a final note, in order to keep this thread clean for future readers, please let me repeat:

    If you disagree with anything written here, please PM me, do not post suggestions or corrections here in this thread. Thank you
    Last edited by RandomThoughts; 16-03-2017 at 01:13.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  12. #12
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about list building.


    The Omelet Metaphor

    A good list is like a good omelet. Now, most of you probably expect this metaphor to be about breaking eggs, but I mean something else entirely:

    A good omelet starts with milk, floor, sugar, salt, eggs, and you add the personal flavor on top on that solid base. List building in WMH is similar in that you also need to follow certain guidelines, if you just pour milk and chocolate sauce and cranberries into your frying pan, you won't get a delicious chocolate cranberry omelet. You'll have a sticky chocolate-milk-cranberry soup.

    I previously explained the DASH principle, and that is one of the first "gear checks" you can do. Can my list crack armor? How does my list deal with high DEF? Do I have enough attacks to deal with a swarm of cheap infantry? etc.

    This is important, because holes in what your list can deal with are one of the biggest sources of one-sided matchups in low level and casual play. Sure, there are a number of high-powered lists that give even strong tournament players trouble, but most of the list you'll see on the table have well known counters, and if you get steamrolled on the army list level, it's on you to find out what those counters are and bring them next time!


    Real Life Examples

    Short anecdote: I originally started out with Cygnar, when Cygnar struggled really, really hard with armor. I got crushed by high armor lists repeatedly over the years, and it took me a while to find the counters available to my faction: Melee beatstick jacks, Stormblades and Forgeguard. And since those were not the models I was thrilled to play, I kept cutting corners in the anti-ARM department every time I didn't have to face high ARM for a few games in a row. Then bam, Khador armor spam, and my desperately needed Stormclads and Stormblades and Forceguard had all retired back to the shelf...

    Of course, sometimes it's whole models that are the liability. I've tried to get Nemo1 to work throughout MK2, and the list never clicked... Too many points tied up in mandatory support, spells that were just not good enough, too many hoops to jump through to make the jacks sing, etc., etc. Towards the end of MK2 I just shelved my precious custom-built Nemo1 and never looked back...

    I'm bringing that up because I want to stress the importance of a well-built list, even in casual play. Don't get me wrong, a good list will never replace actuall skill, and over the years I've seen players playing the most powerful casters in the game beaten by stronger players with their own homebrew jank lists.

    But what I'm saying, essentially, is that list matters, and knowing how lists work and what their strengths and vulnerabilities are matters just as much. You could play the strongest armor spam list in the world, but if you opponent has the exact right combination of control and weaponmaster infantry, you'll still get blown off the table.

    Of course, not every game was really as one-sided as it appeared after the fact. For instance, I once watched a game between two of our newer players which, from list compositions, matchup, etc. was always going to be about the alpha strike. Both sides had huge damage outputs and limited staying power, and whoever got the first strike would dominate the game. Now, knowing this, a more experienced player would have played the game by denying his opponent a powerful first strike while angling to set up his own. This is what Go players call Reading the Direction of Play, i.e. recognizing what a game will be about and what the essential strategic key points will be. Of course, neither of my new players grasped the importance of the first strike at the time (and neither did I, until I analyzed the game in review later), so one side thoughtlessly gave the other the alpha, and after that things quickly became horribly one-sided. Because the winning move, unbeknown to both players, had already been played.


    Tiers

    So, having said all that, let me say a few words about tiers, i.e. rankings, of models within factions, of armies, sometimes of whole factions. Yes, there are big differences in power, and power translates into tools that help you win games.

    But power alone is not everything - power, skill, matchup and luck together determine the outcomes of games. Of course, there is nothing we can do about our luck, without violating the idea of sportsmanship, and matchups are outside our own hands for the most part as well, but list power and skill are both in our own hands. Skill takes time to develop, of course, so powerful lists are an obvious road towards early success.

    What's more, many of the best lists in the game also skew the matchups in their favor, because they dominate a wide field while direct counters are rare. These are the kind of lists that are often considered "unfun" to play against, and which are often frowned upon in casual play.

    However, a few factions are currently (as of late 2016) in a bad spot where they have a very small pool of these really dominant lists and then a wide gap followed by lots of mediocre lists. They literally can't bring strong but fair lists, because most of their models are underperforming, while a handful of models cheat so hard that the mediocricy of the rest of their faction doesn't matter anymore. This is not a good state, of course, but this is why all my hopes are on:


    Balance Errata

    PP is now making regular adjustments to their game to improve the overall balance. This may seem like a daunting, terrifying prospect to new players, having to catch up on the existing changes, never knowing for sure if a model they buy today will still function the same way tomorrow, etc.

    But let me give you my take: First of all, the changes are not at random times, but always in January and June, after a while you start to take that rhythm for granted. Secondly, if a model you already struggled with gets nerfed further it may seem like a kick in the *****, but this probably means that the model has depth you haven't discovered yet, and there's at least one new application, combo or matchup for that model out there still waiting for you.

    Finally, and this is the big benefit why PP are doing this in the first place: If there are lists that not only you struggle with, but everyone struggles with, that dominate the international tournament scene, lists that don't have clear counters and which you can't defeat just by getting better at the game; if these lists pop up, they will get toned down through the errata process.

    At the same time, underperforming models will slowly get tweaked until they become viable. That Nemo1 is finally shelved after many frustrations in MK2, models like him will not stay bad indefinitely in MK3. At least that is what we're all hoping for.

    And in my humble opinion, these prospects are worth all the concerns and inconveniences that come with the balance errata process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  13. #13
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Today I want to talk about Lines in the Sand




    The Invisible Chess Board

    I think most of you are familiar with a chess board, something like this:


    The grid clearly defines where each figure is, where it can move, what it threatens and what it protects. But what if the grid was invisible? What if a chess board looked like this:




    The Invisible WM/H Grid

    Now, what I'm trying to tell you is that WMH has this exact kind of invisible grid, as the following picture hopefully illustrates:

    https://scontent-fra3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...6f&oe=594E4603

    Now, these lines are obviously just a few important ones, threat ranges of key models, and in the case of Imperatus it takes the terrain into account, with the shed blocking off part of the board. Key lines that are missing are the threat ranges of the Khador cavalry and the Kayazi, but this is supposed to illustrate the principle, not confuse you with dozens of overlapping lines.

    In case you wonder, the picture is from a real game, and I was tempted to take the sidestep assassination via the Grolar on the right, but instead I sent Imperatus into the Khador heavy on the left, knowing it would be safe from retaliation there, while getting a big step closer to Vlad for the following turns.

    Which worked perfectly, but the right side of the board got very messy very quickly. And I should have known that going in, had I bothered to mentally paint the Uhlan threat area onto the board at the time...

    ***

    Anyway, hope that helps at least some of you get a better understanding of the game, even if this is a very basic example. See you next time!
    Last edited by RandomThoughts; 01-04-2017 at 20:04.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  14. #14
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    With the prospect of a spring clean on these forums, which means a lot of old discussion threads might be gone for good, I've decided to salvage the parts of my old guide that I haven't brought to the new guide so far, and then make backups of this thread here, so it can't ge lost in the coming forum overhaul. That's why I will talk about a few things seemingly at random today.
    Lets start with a sentence I used in the introduction to the MK2 guide:

    "Warmachine/Hordes is designed as a fast-paced, aggressive, pivotal, skill-based strategy game."

    Now let's pick that apart:


    Fast-Paced

    I've already talked about speed and the rhytm of the game, about starting fast and accelerating, and part of that is the sudden death nature of assassination and scenario wins.


    Aggressive

    This is tied to fast-paced, but it's also about the balance of offense and defense. Models die in this game, they die fast in most cases, and whoever hits first usually hits hardest. See alpha strikes, among others. Also, scenario ties into this again, which forces the engagement, and which denies people the option to completely back off and regroup.


    Pivotal

    This is another crucial part of WMH: Whole games will revolve around a single successful charge, a single cleared charge lane, a key model dying or surviving at the exact right time. Many feats by design have the potential to turn a whole game around on their own. Scoring control points can be a pivotal moment in many games, and the biggest pivotal moments of all is the desperate hail may assassination push, that have ended many of my games, one way or the other.


    Skill-Based

    Now, this part should be obvious, but it's also why I love this game. Luck plays a role, lists frame games, but the victory usually still goes to the player that makes better strategic and tactical decisions, that reads the flow of the game better, that sees his opportunities and takes them.


    Strategy

    When we talk about strategy in this game, we mean two different things:

    The obvious one is sitting down before the game, looking at the table, comparing the lists in your head, and identifying the key points of the coming game. This can be as simple as counting how many heavies one side can realistically kill before they run out of steam, with piece trades and all. Or you might compare lists, see huge assassination potential on both sides, and realize that the first player to start his assassination run will likely win. Or you might conclude that it's about two time-walk feats and whoever can force the other to feat first gets the advantage. Or you might just take a stock of your favorite and less favorite model-to-model and unit-to-unit matchups on the table, and devise a strategy around forcing your favorable matchups on the opponent.

    The other kind of strategy, of course, is already set by the time you hit the table, because it is baked right into your lists. The correct military term, I believe, is Grand Strategy, and it's basically about setting the terms of your engagements before an actual war has broken out. What I mean is the list or the list pairing, and everything that goes into it. A friend of mine currently runs a Man-o-War and Jack wall, where the caster is the only model with an ARM below 20, together with a Winter Guard and Sniper gunline. The ARM skew is powerful enough, that it forces our hands in list building, or else we're shut out before the game has even started. But the second list is where things get nasty, because the kind of weapon master swarm we want to run into a pure ARM skew will get gunned down on the way in.

    So we've reached a point where we have to choose a strategy building our lists, think hard about our choices during list selection, and then form a concrete strategy once our armies are ready to hit the table, taking terrain and everything else into account.


    Game

    Then again, it's important to remember that WMH is a game, something we do for our enjoyment.

    Some of us enjoy hardcore competition, and they want to throw down as hard as they can against the strongest opponents possible. This is the competitive approach, and it is totally valid. This is what the tournament scene is for.

    However, some of us just want a few friendly game with our mates, running models they like, without getting steamrolled. That's also a viable approach, and if you find that this is what you want, you'd be best of gathering other players with a similar mindset, create a group where it's perfectly fine to say "I hate playing against your ARM skew, can you drop something else, please?"

    Although, personally, I don't like the strict divide into competitive and casual players, because there is a whole spectrum. Take me, for instance: I spend hours upon hours thinking about the game, studying tournament lists, watching the last rounds of most major tournaments, just to see how the games actually play out. But I'll still build armies around casters and themes I like, rather than copying successful tournament lists, because that's what is important to me. And I care more about getting interesting, close games that end with a spectacular hail mary attempt than I care about winning. And what's important to me is that everyone in my group gets good games, even the new players, and if that means toning down the lists of the veteran players, so be it.

    After all, this is a game, something we do to have fun, and while fun is subjective, I believe the drive to build a strong community of happy players should be universal.

    ***

    The other things I have discussed at length in my old guide and barely touched upon here are the ideas of power vs. finesse and question vs. answer.


    Question and Answer

    In the last segment I talked about my friends ARM skew list, with ARM 20 jacks and ARM 21 MOWs, backed up by feat that gives the whole army unyeilding for a turn. (+2 ARM while engaged)

    This is pretty much the definition of a "question list", because it asks the other player if he has an answer to so much armor. If the answer is no, then it will be a pretty one-sided game. We also call these situations a "gear check", because you need the right gear, and if you didn't bring it, good luck...
    The other extreme is an "answer list", which in its purest form says: I have no preferred strategy or win condition of my own, but let me see your list, because I can counter all your strengths and exploit all your weaknesses. These kinds of lists are often referred to as balanced lists, and in the rare cases where it works all-comers lists. Key figures are often a mix of different specialists, or the rare unit that can play equally well into anything, backed up by versatile casters, often with a control bend.

    In reality, true all-comers lists don't exist in this game, and when they do, it's often the result of a few outlier models hitting way above their weight class, which should be corrected through errata. This is why we have the list-paring as a concept, and this is also why casual play, especially with just one list per player, works best when people refrain from playing hard-core question lists.


    Power and Finesse

    Somewhat related is the concept of power and finesse. We usually have the choice between a model or unit that does one straightforward thing extremely well, or one that does a few complicated things and has a few tricks up its sleeve, but doesn't hold up in a fair right.

    Even whole factions are skewed towards one or the other. Khador is pretty much the epitome of power, while Circle is pretty much the definition of Finesse.
    That's why we talk about Circle being perhaps the most powerful faction in the game, but certainly the hardest to master and the most unforgiving. While Khador is pretty much the opposite, high floor, low ceiling. Sledge Hammer vs. Fencing Sword. This has one pretty obvious implication for casual play which we should probably talk about, especially those of you who want to develop just enough skill to have good casual games with your mates:

    The balance between power and finesse shifts as your skill levels grow. At a beginner level, the raw power of Khador will dominate, because it doesn't require fancy tricks you may not know yet. But as you become stronger players, the balance will reverse, because Khador also lacks the tools to do all the fancy tricks you start to see. It's a bit like this:

    Circle player: I have a knive!
    Khador player: I have a huge axe, die!

    and then later:

    Circle player: Look at this knive, if I press this botton it starts to glow, and if I wave it around in this fashion it starts to project energy beams, and if I do that...
    Khador player: I still have a huge axe, die!

    Of course, Khador is not the only power faction in the game, nor is Circle the only Finesse army. I'm pretty sure, from all I heard, that Trollbloods are pretty close to Khador in that respect. I can't confidently talk about the other end of the spectrum, as the game is still in flux and people are still figuring out the higher echelons of finesse play. But you get the basic idea, I hope!

    ***

    That's it for today! Hope you find something of wisdom in these words, and I'm confident more posts will follow eventually, when I think of something more to say.
    Last edited by RandomThoughts; 07-03-2017 at 16:47.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  15. #15
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    Just a few brief words on something I've forgotten to mention so far:


    Build on Strength, don't shore up Weaknesses

    If you have an ability that increases DEF, apply it to a model or unit that has a high DEF to start with. If you have a spell that increases ARM, find a target with a high native ARM.

    Why, you ask? Well, this is a direct function of the bell-curve you get when you roll two or more dice. The difference between a 9+ and a 10+ is mich bigger than between a 6+ and a 7+, and both are bigger than the difference between a 3+ and a 4+.

    Nothing wrong with staking buffs, either. +2 DEF on a DEF 14 model with an extra add one dice, drop highest is even stronger than just the combined DEF of 16.


    But ... there are exceptions, right?

    Yes, there are, of course. I once played a game against Stryker1 where my opponent would have done me in hard if he had cast Arcane Shield on his low-armor Long Gunners when he triggered his feat. But those exceptions are rare - so unless you have a good reason to go against the principle, don't.

    ***

    That's it for today! Expect a few smaller segments with concrete, practical advice going forward, a I've run out of big topics to cover, for now at least. And a few edits to previous posts, where it makes sense. See you soon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

  16. #16
    Chapter Master RandomThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Munich, Germany
    Posts
    2,694

    Re: RandomThoughts' Intro Guide for New Players - MK3

    I've recently been asked about building list-pairings, and while I personally believe that list-pairings is an advanced topic that requires a solid understanding of many aspects of the game to tackle properly, I'll nevertheless share my thoughts - even if many of you can't really do anything with this information yet, you might find it useful as you progress deeper into the game.


    The Basics

    I think I already covered this before, but to my knowledge List Pairings go back to MK1 when certain combos and abilities turned certain matchups completely lop-sided. Caine1 and High Reclaimer1 was brought up as an example when the concept was first explained to me - a caster relying entirely on ranged attacks and a caster completely shutting down ranged combat (at the time; that was when clouds were still a focus apiece).

    Still, that's not our concern right now. Our concern right now is that you're heading into your first tournament, you're allowed, perhaps even required to bring two lists, and you have no idea what you're supposed to do.

    First of all I want to be clear about one thing: Having two lists to choose from means flexibility, which in itself is a tactical advantage. But like all tactical advantages, its worth depends entirely on how well you utilite it. Just like fortunate terrain, or a weakness in your opponent's formation.

    So how do we use list pairings too our advantage? The most basic approach is:


    The Two-Fold Question

    This approach is something a friend of mine exploits very well with his Khador; a question is normally a hard list that requires specific answers, and puts everyone without the appropriate answers into a bad spot; said friend of mine loves heavy armor, so when MK3 dropped he naturally gravitated towards jack- and Man-O-War heavy lists. His current double Shocktroopers list is undefeated in our small meta, as far as I know, and I've noticed a certain reluctance playing into it.

    But here is the beauty: To compliment the list, my friend has come up with an infantry gunline, mostly Winterguard, some Widowmakers, which present a completely different challenge and require completely different tools. I've not had the chance to play into him in a serious two-lists game yet, but given the chance, I'll probably play my weaponmaster swarm and brace for a hard game into a gunline.

    So armor brick and infantry gunline, or depending on what your faction had to offer, you could also come in with a zerg-rush infantry swarm and a beast brick, or an incorporeal army and a jack gunline, etc., as long as you present two widely different targets.


    One List to Rule Them All

    Now, there's a bit more going on in that example than just the two divergent faces presented by two different lists.

    My friend's MOW brick is really dominant in our meta, so even without a second list, he could drop it with confidence into whatever his opponent has cooked up for him. So is my Issyria weaponmaster swarm. I don't think I've lost a game with it yet, and for every close game I've had a quite dominant one.

    In a situation like this, if you have such a dominent list you have full confidence in, the right approach is usually to run that one list heavily, figure out what it's weaknesses, counters and blind spots are, and then cook up a second list that specifically cover those. Except ... it's not always that easy...

    Back before MK2 came to the close, I had found a really dominant Caine2 mobile gunline. To this day I don't know if the list was really that powerful, or if it just mashed really, really well with my own strengths and instincts. Either way, I kept telling myself that I'll build a second list that covers its weaknesses as soon as someone handily defeats my Caine2. And then I just kept winning, game after game after game. I never found a weakness that my not-yet-conceived second list could cover...


    Specialists

    Of course, this kind of situation is rare, especially when other people start to tailor their own list pairings, making sure they have answers for your trailblazer list. So let's look at a few other ways to build a pair:

    Back when I first took up Retribution, I soon realized that a bunch of great abilities only worked against Warmachine armies, so I started to look for a second list that played well into Hordes in general. I was still figuring out Retribution at the time, so I don't know how well it would have worked eventually, but it should be viable approach.

    Other approaches I've heard about focus on different strategies, with one list geared towards assassination and the other towards attrition, for instance. This kind of approach requires a keen knowledge of the game, though. You have to be able to determien what both of your opponent's lists do on a quick glance, to determine which of your own lists is the better fit.

    Then of course there's the generalist all-comers list and the specialist / dark horse / boogeyman extreme-question list, which intends to force your opponent's hand while keeping all options open for yourself.

    Something else I've heard discussed is the double skew, which is similar to the Two-Fold-Question, escept both lists ask the exact same hard question. That would be two different armor skew lists, for instance. The rationale here is that your opponent will have only one can opener, while you have two cans to choose from, so you always pick the one which plays better into whatever his answer is. Like, say, a jack-heavy gunline and a swarm of cheap melee jacks. Or perhaps two quite similar lists, once with a caster that speeds them up and increases their own damage output and another time with a caster that shields them from enemy spells and debuffs. I've never seen this played in the wild, and personally I'd hesitate to go down that route myself, but it is out there.

    Then, of course, we have the list pairings where one whole list is dedicated to countering one specific boogeyman. This used to be common practice for a while back in MK2 when Bradigus was at the top of his power and people brought their normal list and their Brad-counter.

    And last but not least, some list pairings are simple the sum of its parts, where two lists work well enough on their own that you can pair them up and get a decent result, even without a deeper strategy. And to be honest, you might accidentially stumble upon a deeper synergy that you won't even be aware of until another player points it out to you...


    Conclussion

    So, as you see, there are a number of ways to build up a pairing, and different strategies require different levels of knowledge and insight. Some of them require very little finesse (combining an arm-skew list with a dedicated infantry list for instance), others come naturally over time (discovering what your problem matchups are), while others may elude you for years to come.

    Still, these are the basics, and I hope you found something useful in this segment, as always!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wishing View Post
    (in Warmachine) Each model is part of a puzzle, which together makes a weapon that you use to break apart your opponent's puzzle.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •