Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hordes: Exigence Review - Wrap Up

The faction reviews for Hordes: Exigence are complete! For ease of reference, here are the links to each faction's review:
With all of those reviews complete, there are a few last things I wanted to touch on.

First: a longtime reader contacted me recently and grilled me a bit over the lack of correlation between the ratings I gave the models for each category, and the overall rating each faction received based on how I felt their releases turned out. Apparently they deal with statistical studies very frequently in their line of work, and the lack of mathematical coupling between the scores and the final total drove them a little crazy.

In the interest of completeness, here are all of the aggregated scores for each faction (rounded to the closest 0.5 increment):

Trollbloods: 3.5

Circle Orboros: 3.5

Legion of Everblight: 3.0

Skorne: 4.0

Minions: 4.0

So if you absolutely, positively needed to have tight mathematical coupling between the model scores and the overall scores, there you go! 

I'm surprised at how close most of the aggregated scores are considering that the overall score I gave for each faction was just a "from the gut" number. The only one that is massively off is the Trollblood rating (which I probably over rated based on my initial enthusiasm for the good things in that faction); most of the others are within 0.5 or so of the arbitrary number I came up with.


Second: there is a phenomenon which is starting to become tightly coupled with Privateer Press releases cycles - the knowledge that certain models, particularly new heavy kits or Battle Engines, are likely to be significantly delayed - and it's kind of a bummer.

PP has had issues over the past several years with some of their releases, from what I'm assuming are production issues associated with trying to move more towards plastic models. Some of these delays were unfortunate but not overly detrimental - most players didn't really care about when the Bombardiers or Destors would show up, for example - but when important or exciting models get hit with those delays it hurts.

Warmachine players have felt this recently with the long MIA period for the warjacks released in Vengeance (assumed to be part of a new multi-warjack kit that has yet to manifest.) Moreover, Covergence players are still waiting for any news about the model for their Battle Engine (the Transfinite Emergence Projector); updates have been scarce since a render was spotted some time ago. Counting from the release of the Forces of Warmachine: Convergence of Cyriss book (July 2013) we're up to 17 months with no sign of it (since the release list is known out through December 2014.) 

With any luck, the Vengeance warjack kits will come out before the next Warmachine book is released. They won't make it out before the next book's release cycle starts (the first release, Dynamo, comes out in December,) but as PP stages their releases to roll out over a period of time that isn't too surprising. There is some speculation that those kits are being held back because the next Warmachine book will include a third warjack that will fill out the kit, but I think it's just good 'ol fashioned production delays. The Seraph/Neraph combo box shows that PP is willing to do a box containing only two heavies if they feel it's appropriate, and I think that was probably the plan with the Vengeance warjacks before something monkey wrenched them.

Circling back to Hordes, they are not new to the "delay game" either. The Satyr warbeast kit was significantly delayed (so much so that it pretty much killed any enthusiasm for the excellent Riphorn Satyr,) and the Nephalim Bloodseer came out so long after Hordes: Gargantuans that I legitimately forgot it existed (and I don't think I was the only one.)

With Hordes: Exigence, players may be looking at another set of significant delays between knowing the model's rules and actually having something in hand to use. The new Skorne Aradus warbeasts seem like they will be in a similar two-heavy kit to the Seraph/Neraph and the Vengeance warjacks. That doesn't mean anything in and of itself (the Seraph/Neraph kit is scheduled to release soon,) but it may not bode well when considering how many issues the Vengeance warjack kits have run into. The Aradus may run into further issues when you consider how non-standard their bodies are (based on their artwork) and how they may fit together. Any additional complexity may make them that much more difficult to cast/produce consistently, which is worrying.

Along with the Aradus there are two Battle Engines in this release cycle, both of which have very elaborate (and awesome) designs. That, combined with their rules, is very exciting, but it is also possibly a point of concern; the last Battle Engine with cool artwork that PP showed rules for has yet to even show up in preview images. It is possible that the issues PP has had getting the T.E.P. out the factory door have taught them valuable lessons that will make producing the Meat Thresher and Sacral Vault that much easier, but I think it's still very likely that these models won't be showing up for awhile (though I'd love to be wrong.)

This history of delays with some models makes it almost necessary to put an asterisk next to several models in any release cycle. "This model is good/bad/exciting, but we can't be sure when we'll actually see it so don't get too wrapped up either way." That is disappointing, and while I'm sure PP is working to resolve whatever issues keep monkey-wrenching them, it's something that is going to cast a bit of a pall over any release cycle from now until it feels like PP has those issues sorted out.

In fairness to PP: their production issues are very sparse, all things considered. They're putting out a lot of product, with a fairly aggressive and consistent release schedule. It's inevitable that some items will run into issues and be delayed/show up later than expected. The thing that is most frustrating, for them and their customers in equal measure I'm sure, is that those whammies keep coming up on models that are eagerly anticipated.


Finally: I'm willing to call this another successful release cycle for PP. There are some definite highs and lows, some of the highs may be a touch too high (Sacral Vault) and some of the lows may be too low (Blight Wasps, Brennos,) but overall it feels like a really successful set of releases.

All of the warlocks are at least interesting, if not solid. Every faction got at least one or two interesting new elements that may shake up how they can/will run their lists in the future; whether those will be ignored or indefinitely delayed remains to be seen. And a large portion of the models have been pretty great. No Warmachine: Legends shenanigans where the Allied units show up with jaw-droppingly amazing rules coupled with ugly, low quality sculpts.

I feel like PP has finally hit it's stride in terms of consistently coming up with good, interesting models in the context of Mk. 2. Many of their early attempts - the Forces book models, Wrath, Domination - suffer from being very boring, rules wise. Even the most potent models that came out of this era were mostly a combination of potent rules instead of being anything particularly nuanced or, heaven forbid, based on a new idea. There are absolutely some good things that came out of that era, but the overall feeling I get is one of "I guess that's alright."

Starting around Colossals and Gargantuans, PP became willing to take more risks with their rules design, and by the time you hit Vengeance they're clearly very comfortable coming up with entirely new concepts. You can also lump the Convergence and Cephalyx model line releases in with those success stories.

I'm not sure how much longer PP can keep this up, but I'm way more excited to see them try interesting things that fail (Blight Wasps) or are kind of crazy (Sacral Vault) than I am to ever see another set of releases like what we got in early Mk. 2.

The Exigence releases do, for the most part, exactly what a new set of releases should: slightly change the landscape in some ways, while offering some factions help against things they may have been struggling with before (Aradus in Skorne.) Along with that you have a number of interesting new list options, while also not overwhelming you with chaff (6 releases per faction makes it very easy to digest everything that came out.)

I would hope that, regardless of faction, Hordes players are excited by what they received in Exigence. I'm very interested in seeing lots those models on the table in the near (and probably far) future. And of course the quality of this release helps to keep me excited for the next Warmachine book, whenever that comes out.


  1. Breaking news: TEP is in the upcoming releases. Cue the next round of COC/Mecha-Dong jokes!

    1. I was surprised to see PP post that up the same day this article went up. I guess someone over there wanted to troll me very slightly. :)

      The TEP is somewhat....unfortunately shaped, but we all kind of knew that would be case based on the artwork. The detail on the model is pretty fantastic, and I'm sure dedicated Convergence players are very excited (I'm still mostly just flirting with the faction.)

      Hopefully this is a good sign that PP has managed to iron out any kinks they were having with their production processes, and we'll see Vengeance warjacks, Minion BEs, and Skorne bugs soon!