Thursday, February 6, 2014

TempleCon - Pre-PP Keynote Thoughts

I'm not much of a traveler for wargaming, so I don't make it out to conventions. Which is a bit of a shame, because there's almost always something interesting going on at the bigger ones. For instance: TempleCon (which started today) is a staple in the PP convention rotation. Its the first major convention of the year ("major" seems to be defined as "people come from damn near everywhere in the country to check it out,") that features PP events, and PP has also stepped up the pedigree of the convention by hosting a keynote presentation the past few years.

These keynote presentations have consistently been a source of facemeltingly awesome news. Its the cannon shot PP fires at the start of the year to generate excitement from their fanbase, and they've done a pretty damn good job of hitting the mark these past few years.

Two years ago they dropped a gigantic bomb on the community and announced the impending release of colossals. They followed up on that with a more in-depth trailer that ended with a teaser of the Mountain King, which drove players into a frenzy. Even though not all of the models delivered on their promises of hype and fun, it was an incredibly exciting announcement.

Last year was a little more tame, with the big bomb being the release of Convergence of Cyriss. I'm probably a little biased, however: I wasn't really in the market for a new faction at the time, and I wasn't really interested in Convergence as a concept (though the final rules are a thing of beauty.) However, it was extremely exciting for many fans who have been waiting for that faction to jump from fluff to the tabletop, and a new faction promised to shake up the general competitive scene of the game. Plus, PP did their general Warmachine player base a solid by previewing a few things from their next anthology release, Warmachine: Vengeance, that got players generally excited. I remember being super pumped after seeing the Greylord light cavalry models (eventually released as the excellent Greylord Outriders) and the concept art for an Iron Fang solo (released as the super solid Iron Fang Kovnik.) So even when a keynote doesn't speak directly to something you want, there's usually something in it to get excited about.

No one's really sure what the keynote presentation will be about this year, though there are clues abound. Matt Wilson (head honcho at PP) tweeted a picture of some new models along with a reminder about the keynote presentation. The models in question have garnered a lot of attention, because of the possibilities: these models are large, humanoid creatures that have been modified by the Cephalyx (based on information gleaned from recent fiction offerings and the previous league reveals.) They could be something that fits into Cryx as another Cephalyx option. They could be something that fits into Mercs as part of a new Cephalyx based contract. Or they could be something akin to a curve ball, and be a new Hordes army that is the twisted mirror of the Convergence of Cyriss. Or they could just be some random models that don't have a huge impact anywhere, and Matt Wilson just wanted to whip everyone into a frenzy. No one can say right now (except the folks at PP of course.)

For my money, I think it's very likely that we'll see something Hordes related in this keynote. Warmachine is getting a new book released in March, so they're kind of at the end of their hype cycle (though it wouldn't surprise me if the keynote had a mention or two of Warmachine things on the horizon.) Meanwhile Hordes has been chewing on the last book, Hordes: Gargantuans, for quite some time now, and it really feels like its time for them to have something new before they hit marrow. There have already been new warbeasts posted up on the PP main page, so there's clearly a new release cycle in the works for Hordes; the question is going to be how it'll be framed, and what we can expect out of it. Since Warmachine has been expanded by two new factions in the past few years, it feels likely that a new Hordes faction could be incoming.

And then there's the "x-factor": something that no one predicts that will blow the doors off the game for another year. I remember hearing rumblings towards the latter half of last year that PP's TempleCon announcement was something that people who heard it couldn't believe. Of course, there's a healthy portion of marketing hype in there, but there's probably also a grain or two of truth. PP has been successful because, on top of maintaining their properties well and expanding their games consistently, they've done a very good job of coming up with something new every year that shakes the player base up. It's what keeps the game feeling relatively fresh even though its 10 years old, and people are playing with models that are from the very first book released.

I have zero speculation about what that announcement could be; where do you even start with that? Maybe they double down with Hordes and announce two new factions - one "full" faction to parallel Retribution of Scryah, and one "bounded" faction to parallel Convergence of Cyriss. That would certainly shake up Hordes quite a bit, and by proxy it could change a lot of Warmachine list building ideals as well.

Maybe the Cephalyx faction will use either Focus or Fury, or some mix of both? Maybe a third new Warmachine faction???? Or it could be something completely out of left field, like the Battle Engines and Colossals were.

Whatever it is, I'm extremely excited to see what this year has to offer. I'm already very pleased with everything that's come out of Warmachine: Vengeance (the newly revealed Stryker3 spoilers give me a lot of faith that PP is trying to release quality over quantity nowadays,) so whatever is coming down the pike has a lot of potential to be fun and cool.

I'll post up impressions of the keynote after it airs tomorrow. We'll see just how right the internets were!

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