Well, that was a little underwhelming.
Part of that was the hype machine though. I was hoping for something big, some announcement that would be a real shocker. Instead, we get a presentation going over the upcoming Hordes book release (sweet!) and the fact that Cephalyx will be released as a Merc sub-faction, similar to what happened with Pirates of the Broken Coast in Mk. 1. Those two things are cool (especially for Cephalyx fans, who are over the moon right now,) but not so exciting for someone looking for something new (i.e. a new Hordes faction to maybe invest in.)
Still, the stuff they showed was very impressive. The designs for the new Hordes models continue to impress, and the new large models they're coming out with (two Minion Battle Engines and a Battle Engine warlock via Xerxis2) really showcase how well they're making use of digital sculpting. I also like the concepts we've seen for the new character lesser warlocks (particularly that they have specific synergy with a sub-set of beasts, possibly making some more desirable to put on the table again,) and I love the idea of lesser warbeast units. That, to me, is where Hordes really should be growing; the feral counterpart to the much more traditionally industrial Warmachine.
The new Cephalyx sub-faction looks fantastic if you like the Cephalyx aesthetic (which I do,) and it's a great addition to the game if you were looking for a small addition to your Warmachine collection (which I was not.) I'm sure they'll have some cool mechanics, and since it's a very limited release (if it's like the pirates release, we're probably looking at 3-4 heavies, 3 warlocks, and a smattering of units and solos,) it's a nice little side project both for PP and anyone looking to collect them. I'm going to pass, since I was hoping for something in Hordes, but I like that PP decided to pull the trigger and flesh out the Cephalyx.
There's also a new IKRPG book coming out that seems to be the Hordes parallel to the main IKRPG book, and a new release for Level 7, but I don't care to much about either of those games. Likewise, I only bought into the Warmachine: Tactics Kickstarter for the early access models, so I totally tuned out during that part of the keynote.
Overall, there were some cool things shown, and if those things hit the right notes with you as a player (pretty much every Hordes player, Cephalyx fans,) it's pretty exciting. I was kind of underwhelmed, but I went in with a pretty specific hope, so I'm not too surprised.
I'm now in an interesting position: since nothing was announced regarding a new Hordes faction, do I wait until they finally reveal something (someone apparently asked about it during the Q+A session and PP said there is something coming,) or do I hop back into Hordes via one of the existing factions?
The upside of holding out is that I get to wait for something completely new. New models, new theme, new rules; all of that is pretty exciting, and it's also fair to say that a new faction will probably have a more cohesive, comprehensive set of rules (look at how polished Convergence of Cyriss is compared to the older Warmachine factions.) Plus, I started in on a Retribution army, so that would give me lots of time to flesh that army out and experiment with it.
The downside to holding out is that I'm not sure anything new coming out for Hordes is really going to be all that interesting. I've had that problem with Hordes since it first came out: none of the factions really jump out at me, so I didn't really get attached to anything in terms of looks or design. I can't really say that anything they come out with as a new faction is going to grab me, especially if it's the rumored bug-creature/people of Zu (though that is a super neat idea.) So I may end up waiting and realize that the new faction isn't really anything I want to buy into.
The other tricky thing is that I'm not sure how much further I want to go with Retribution. Don't get me wrong: I really like the faction. It offers up different tactical options than Khador does, the models mostly are cool (especially if you think up your own paint scheme,) and I feel like the faction has a greater portion of good models over bad models, which makes it fun to expand on.
The issue I'm running into is that, because I like a fair portion of what's available in the faction and because it builds similarly to Khador (an emphasis on infantry, so 2+ units in every list, though I think Ret more easily fits heavies into their list than Khador does,) I feel like I'm going to end up collecting Khador 2.0. Another big collection of models that is mostly trooper models, with a cadre of warjacks that I really like but don't always get to use (I have a bizarre love of the Hydra and the Daemon, both of which are pretty wonky.)
I'd kind of like my secondary faction to be an inverse of Khador: owning a number of heavies/lights, with a few units. Painting units in Warmachine has become one of the most painful things for me - especially after painting entire Malifaux crews in the same amount of time - so I don't really relish the idea of buying a bunch of new units and having to paint them. Retribution is in a state now where all of it's 10 model units are good/useful, so I'd want to eventually get them all. That's 6 different units to buy and paint up, almost all of which have an accompanying UA. Granted, I've already painted up two of those units (MHSF and Dawnguard Sentinels,) but painting up 4 more units along with the various mini-units Retribution has kind of makes my eye twitch. They'll look damn cool painted up (I really like the paint scheme I came up with,) but just the thought of it...ugh.
Contrast that with starting up a Hordes army and focusing primarily on battlegroup models, with just a couple of units that I'd rotate throughout my lists. Much less to paint, very different approach to the game than Khador, and it'd give me an army on the opposite side of the release schedule, so I'd have something to look forward to again all year (I used to own Legion, but ended up selling them as I didn't like the stigma attached to the army, and I knew I'd never actually want to paint them.)
Out of the Hordes factions, three of them fit that bill: Legion, Skorne, and Circle. Trollbloods and Minions both run decently infantry heavy, so those are right out. I used to own Legion, and I don't dig anything in the army enough to buy back into it, so that one is off the table. And I really don't like anything in Circle, so those guys get cut too.
Which leaves me with just Skorne as an option that fits my needs. They kind of work out, because they're capable of running pretty sizable battlegroups and doing it pretty well thanks to Paingiver Beast Handlers. But at the same time, they also kind of don't work out, because half of their warlocks like to run a fair share of infantry, and that's exactly the problem I'm trying to avoid. Plus, I don't really like the look of a lot of the Skorne models (or at least, not enough to get excited about painting anything for that faction,) so I don't know how well that would work out in the end.
All things considered, I'm not really sure where I'm going to go with expanding my WM/H collection in 2014. I'm still going to keep on plugging away at Khador, but I already own pretty much everything for that, so now it's just a matter of getting the Vengeance releases (provided the one or two remaining ones don't suck,) and painting those up along with some backlogged models. I also have lots of other models either in hand or on the way (damn Kickstarter,) so I'm not exactly hurting for things to hobby with. For now, I'm going to sit tight and focus on the upcoming Khador releases. We'll see what inspires me from there.