Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Steamroller & Masters 2015

On to the the way the game is going to be played in the future. Steamroller 2015 has just come out and as is traditional everybody is talking about the changes and what it means. Last year I looked at the scenarios and tried to give hints to win them. Lets do the same again.

Before the scenarios comes a couple of changes, the first is to where you can have terrain. Privateer Press have defined terrain into two different types; Unrestricted & Restricted terrain. Restricted terrain is obstructions (buildings, rocks, etc.) and linear obstacles. These can be no closer than 5" to other restricted terrain, flags or objectives and never inside zones. Everything else is Unrestricted and has to be at least 2" away from other terrain pieces.

As rumours flew about 2015 people were say that this is a nerf to Doomshaper1's theme list, Runes of War. However, PP have ensured that this doesn't apply to terrain that comes from theme force benefits or placed by models (i,e, Rock Wall).

The second major change is that you choose which objective your armies bring along with them. Each of your armies brings its own along and that could be the same one or different ones. They are still large bases and DEF 5, ARM 18 with 15 boxes. They also all are unable to be chosen as a prey target, unlike some of the ones in 2014. The six types are as follows:

  • Arcane Wonder - When within 4" you can cast an upkeep spell for one less cost. Doesn't have to be non-offensive though, so watch out for those casters with debuffs (I'm looking at Cryx here.) It also causes a POW 10 electrical damage roll to those who hit it, so it's fairly safe from infantry and lightly armoured models. Unless they want to make that ultimate sacrifice that is.
  • Armoury - It's pretty much the destruction objective as it takes it's last damage box, you can choose to remove a friendly model instead. If you have plenty of cheap troops, then this is a decent choice, or if you have light artillery as they gain boosted damage rolls when within 4".
  • Bunker - This one protects against blast damage with the rule girded. It's also very hard to damage at range as your opponent drops a damage dice after hitting it with a ranged attack. Against those shooting lists its a great choice.
  • Effigy of Valour - It protects the things close to it as it grants "cover as if it was an obstruction". Nice way to get some help against Legion there. The important part is the stopping of things running away with some Fearless being given away.
  • Fuel Cache - With those jack and beast heavy armies out there, this is a good one to get some focus/fury efficiency as they run/charge for free when within 4". If it's hit with a melee attack it is also able to fight back by setting them on fire. Yes, this is like the archangel animus and doesn't harm them till the next turn, but it's got to make your opponent think at the very least.
  • Stockpile - No idea what is being stockpiled here as it stands you up for free and if in base-to-base you can't be knocked down in the first place. Pogo sticks maybe? I don't foresee this one being on the table that much in tournaments but it'll be handy against Kreoss1 and Barnabus at the very least.
I like this idea to bring a more reliable way to improve your army along to the battlefield. Plus you can get a few different players using the same list in distinct ways ]

DEATH CLOCK - I haven't heard about this change anywhere but PP have added something rather important to the rules here, "Players must use at least 15 seconds per turn." Stops those silly moments as players hit the clock back and forth as fast as they can. There is an exception later on though "When scenario victory conditions are verified by both players, a player can immediately end his turn. He can do this even if fewer than 15 seconds have been used on the turn." So if you (or your opponent) are going to win via scenario you can tap that clock pretty quickly and claim victory.

Onto the scenarios themselves, which has become easier this time around with only eight in this years packet. All of which can be used in Masters or Iron Gauntlet:

1: Destruction

This one hasn't changed from the last year. You have the 6" x 12" zone in the center of the table and whichever objective you chose in the closest left corner. 1 CP for getting rid of the enemy objective, 1 for control of the zone and 2 for domination.

To win you have to put yourself in harms way and say that you will not be moved. Or push your opponent out and not let them back in, Tarpits of all types work in this scenario and if you can concentrate your forces in the center then you stand a good chance of winning. But it is still a difficult thing to do. If you are winning on scenario then you either have one of the top notch scenario casters (Deneghra2, Krueger2, etc.) or you are winning the attrition match. Not many sneaky plays abound in this scenario.

2: Two Fronts

The objectives have changed position to be within the upright rectangular zones this time around, but everything else is in the same positions. 1 CP for saying bye-bye to the enemy objective, 1 for control of the enemy zone, 2 for dominating that zone and 1 for dominating the friendly zone. With only 14" between the center of the objectives I don't imagine that they will be around for long so try to protect yours as best you can.

Most players will try to get their caster into the friendly zone and just dominate their way to victory. It's a good plan and will often work, just ensure that you can't be caught out by fast flanking models and you can survive inside the enemy zone to ensure they don't do the same to you. Aggressive casters/players will subvert this and go up the center to give themselves options and more control other the battlefield.

3: Close Quarters

This scenario hasn't changed for the past couple of years and for good reason. The two central flags force engagement but still allow for clever scoring from a canny player.

Generally you will see the caster be deployed slightly to the right so they can start defensively scoring the flag as soon as possible. The slightly more vulnerable casters may hang back slightly further but not too far as there is a killbox in play. This often leads to the battle-lines being drawn on a diagonal as players push for right hand space to ensure their caster is safe as possible. If you move up too much on the left to be aggressive and you'll open your flag up for an easy score or two so be wary.

4: Fire Support

Woo hoo! They have fixed it.

No longer can you score 4 CPs in one turn as there is now a friendly and enemy flag on the board. Same flag rules as Close Quarters with the added fun of an objective to destroy before you can score the enemy flag.

Those flags are pretty far up though, 23", so if you are scoring them your caster is heavily involved in the battle. You've got to be able to project force far across the table to keep yourself safe if you want to score defensively. As with Close Quarters you will find this battle being fought on a diagonal just the opposite way this time around.

5: Incoming

The traditional two rectangular zones with the two objectives scenario. Usual scoring rules apply as well.

The zones are a bit easier to contest than the flags from the previous scenarios so this is a little harder to win on scenario. Because this is less of a central scenario you will often find the offensive parts of the army heading to the enemy zone and the defensive going to the friendly. Make sure you can defeat their attacking forces or overwhelm the enemies defense faster than they can to yours and you'll be in good stead to win on scenario. This will take a while though and recursion armies will start to have an advantage in the long run.

6: Incursion

Booo! They ruined it.

I've loved Incursion for the past few years as the disappearing flag adds in a different challenge to the other scenarios. This time around the flags are back closer together but they won't go away this time. No matter what you do you can only score 1 CP with control/dominate off each flag.

For this scenario you have to be able to spread your forces. Where as before I advocated sending two waves up between each side of the flags this time that won't work as well. I foresee infantry heavy armies having the advantage as they can spread out further, outside the caster's control area. Playing something that's FOCUS/FURY 5 is really not a great idea. When you create your army acknowledge if you can spread that thinly and if not, your other list better be able to. Other than that terrain and where your opponent move to is going to play a huge part in the game so push hard to hold the upper hand or be able to react fast.

7: Outflank

No change to the layout. Two circles that are 8" apart in the center of the board. 1 CP if you control and 2 if you dominate.

Easy to understand this scenario but it's not that easy to clear the zones. Again you have to spread out if you want to defend but it is a decent option to just go full hog attack and occupy a zone to get the win. Score faster (i.e. go second) and you can force the match in your favour pretty well.

8: Recon

A new one!

A single rectangular zone vertical in the middle of the table with each players objectives in the middle of the short edges. Two flags are also on the middle line, 12" from the board edges. The zone gives the normal control for 1 CP and dominate for 2, if you destroy the objective then another CP comes your way and finally you can dominate a flag for 1 CP.

At first glance this seems like a fight in the center, especially when the flags can only be dominated to score. However, if you get too occupied in the center, a sneaky opponent can force you off the flag and easily defend it to a scenario win. Think of it like Into the Breach from last year, most times you fight in the zone, till somebody opens up the flag and suddenly you can be fighting in the wrong place.

Ensure that you can survive the center battle firstly, then watch out for that push towards one of the sides, be that your or your opponents attack.

Masters 2015

Some big changes happening for Masters this year. No longer is Masters three lists, two is the new format. That takes out a few options. Before this news people could have a list with a specific plan, now you have to ensure that your two lists cover everything. Ouch. Death clock is still the standard timing method for Masters events though and each list has to be played at least once, so that stays the same at least.

PP has restricted people's caster, and therefore list, choices. However, they have added a little wrinkle to the proceedings, Active Duty Roster. Each faction gets four casters, if you use two of these casters then you can have 20 points of specialists in each of your lists. Now you don't have to use those four casters but it does give a certain edge to the player that does bring them.

I won't go through the factions cause this post is getting far too long as is. But the ADR choices for Cryx and Skorne are making me think long and hard about what I want to play this year. Wonder if this is doing the same for some of the big guys in the Warmachine world.

I think I've caught all the changes. Most of which wasn't unexpected but this Active Duty Roster came from the blue. Lets have fun with it.

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