Thursday, May 7, 2015

Warmachine: Reckoning - What We Know

We are fast approaching my favorite time of year as a wargamer: a new book release! Rarely is the game as exciting or interesting as the week or so before, during, and after a new book release. Speculations run wild, then are confirmed or shot down horribly. Spoilers start to flood out, only to be updated, confirmed, denied, revised, and decried as the apocalypse (either due to power or terribleness), usually all in the same forum thread. And no other time is as rich in creativity and discussion as when all of us average-joes get our first look at new models for our faction(s).

The next big book release for Warmachine/Hordes - Warmachine: Reckoning - is scheduled to arrive on retail store shelves on June 17, 2015 (based on various online retailer pre-order lists). However, there is a big event happening right before that: Privateer Press's annual Lock & Load convention, scheduled to take place June 5-7. Not only is that the biggest Privateer Press event of the year, but it's also an event that commonly gives us some nice pre-releases of upcoming things.

Considering the fact that the retail release of Warmachine: Reckoning is only 10 days away from the end of Lock & Load, I think it's very reasonable to assume that copies of that book will be available for purchase at the convention (this may have been confirmed already; my finger is not on the pulse of the forums at the moment). That means we're at best only a month away from knowing all of the details for the next big Warmachine book; a month and a week or so at worst.

With that in mind, lets go over what we know/suspect will be in the next book for each faction. Lists after the break.

A few rules regarding expectations for each faction:

1) Release sets are smaller than they were in the glory days of the early books. Recent books have been trending towards 6 releases at maximum per faction.

2) Not all factions get the same number of releases. That may be doubly true this cycle if Convergence ends up being part of this book's releases, but even excusing that possibility, previous books have had some factions getting more or less than others. Basing speculation on 5-6 releases per faction seems to be safe (based on the last few books).

3) "Faction parity" is mostly dead. This has been the case for awhile now in Mk. 2, but it was very common in Mk. 1 for everyone to receive the same number and types of releases (ex. 1 epic warcaster, 2 units, 1 solo, 1 warjack). That was a useful tool in guessing at what you could expect from a release cycle; not anymore. Aside from significant, landmark releases (eg. battle engines, colossals) there is no guarantee anymore that all factions are going to be getting the same types of releases.

With that out of the way, lets get to the factions!

1. Warcaster: Major Prime Victoria Haley (Epic Warcaster Unit) - Model spoiled.
2. Warjack: Dynamo (Character Heavy Warjack) - Full rules released.
3. Warjack: Hurricane (Colossal Warjack) - Name and art spoiled, teaser rules.
4. ???
5. ???
6?. ???

Speculation/Conjecture: Cygnar is likely to get 6 releases this cycle, if anyone does. For whatever reason, they usually end up on the higher end of releases. Of course, that can always change - they could get the smallest number of releases for all I know - but based on previous release cycles I'd expect them to maintain a solid 6.

Cygnar is one of the few factions where we have the name, art, and model(s) for their new warcaster. Likewise, their character warjack is already available and has been for some time. That puts us at knowing half of their releases so far.

The other half is tricky to speculate on. What will be a common theme for my guesses is that I think every faction is going to get a new light warjack in this book, most likely based on their second light warjack chassis (so the Hunter/Minuteman chassis for Cygnar). Its been awhile since PP has released any new light warjacks for most of the Warmachine factions and I think we're due for another round of the little guys. What will be interesting is seeing what PP comes up with, and how it fits into the current state of the game (if at all).

Another consistent thing across all my speculation is going to be that the last one or two entries are total wildcards. The best guess anyone has right now is that each faction will be getting at least one new solo (based on the sales blurb for Reckoning), probably leaning towards support/buffing some under performing/undesired models.

That's already crowded real estate in Cygnar, who have a few "support" solos already, some of which ended up priced...inaccurately for the support they bring to the table (Finn, Runewood). However, models like the Iron Fang Kovnik, the Houseguard Thane, and even Cygnar's own Stormblade Captain give me a lot more faith that PP can produce a useful, decently applicable support solo that doesn't end up overcosted.

What would be really interesting is if PP could come up with something that would allow Cygnar to more reliably and effectively run their own faction's melee infantry. That may run counter to the Mercenary friendly nature of the faction, but it would also be a nice boon to everyone who has piles of Stormnouns, Precursor Knights, and Sword Knights sitting around.

Another possibility for the 5th/6th slot is a new UA. Cygnar already has lots of UAs, but a few of their units have UA "slots" open and could benefit from some UA buffs (Stormguard, Trencher Commandos). There is also the possibility of getting an alternate UA or two, a la the Black Dragon Iron Fang UA, as a way to salvage something like Longgunners, who have a pretty junk UA.

Protectorate of Menoth:
1. Warcaster: Anton Durst, Rock of the Faith (Warcaster) - Model spoiled.
2. Warjack: Revelator (Colossal Warjack) - Name and art spoiled, teaser rules.
3. Warjack: Hand of Judgment (Character Heavy? Warjack) - Art spoiled, no rules.
4. ???
5. ???
6?. ???

Speculation/Conjecture: Protectorate appear to be the faction breaking the warcaster mold this release cycle, being the only "old" faction that gets a non-epic warcaster. Practically, this doesn't make a difference (if nothing else, Bradigus proved that you don't need to be an epic 'caster/'lock to be a complete goddamn monster), but it is interesting because it represents the first new blood introduced into a warcaster pool since Warmachine: Wrath. It's also interesting to see how much PP embraced the design freedom brought on by working with a completely new character; Anton Durst is a much more interesting design than we probably would have gotten out of any epic.

The Revelator is one of the more exciting new colossals, mostly due to how niche the Judicator is (it's great with Feora2 and arguably Severius1, but otherwise it hasn't made much of an impact). The Hand of Judgment is also one of two character warjacks that have been confirmed visually, but are otherwise completely unspoiled (Cryx has the other one). The art - a large warjack with a mace and flamethrower - combined with reports of it's affiliated warcaster - Feora - are suitably terrifying, so I'm interested to see how the rules turn out for it.

As with Cygnar, I'm calling the 4th slot to be reserved for a new light warjack on the second chassis (Devout/Dervish). This has a fair bit of potential in Protectorate - Choir bonuses allow them to get great returns on warjacks with guns, particularly lights - but lights can also be a tough sell in a faction where you're often relying on heavies for mid/end game.

Although Protectorate has plenty of support solos, they still have a number of open, fairly obvious spots for solos that are associated with specific model types. Anything related to Flameguard would have a lot of applications (there are no fewer than four Flameguard units), something related to Deliverers could be interesting (though they're harder to redeem in the current meta), and there's always the possibility of something more targeted, such as a Cinerator solo that helps them out.

There are several possible interesting UA options as well - Deliverers, Daughters, Cinerators - and Protectorate is the only "main" faction without a WA (for what that's worth), so there's always the possibility that we could see one of those show up somewhere (on Idrians? Deliverers? Cleansers?)

1. Warcaster: Epic Zerkova - Art spoiled (book cover)
2. Warjack: Victor (Colossal Warjack) - Name and art spoiled, teaser rules.
3. Warjack: Ruin (Character Heavy Warjack) - Full rules spoiled.
4. Warjack: Mad Dog (Heavy Warjack) - Art spoiled, no rules.
5. ???
6?. ???

Khador is technically the faction with the most "known" entries in the book, though most of the time people forget about the Mad Dog warjack (art spoiled in the Lock & Load 2014 Reckoning preview trailer). I've mused about Zerkova2 elsewhere; suffice to say, she's a very interesting, exciting release. Of all the non-epic 'casters that could have received a second form in Khador, she's the one I was most excited for as she has the most potential to give Khador a really interesting new 'caster to work with. Zerkova2 also presents a chance for another significant mis-step (as with her previous version), but we just have to wait and see how that plays out.

Ruin is fully spoiled and will soon be available to the masses. Victor is very minor-ly spoiled - some general blurbs about what it's Siege Mortar gun can do, some random tidbits about it's secondary guns - and holds a lot of potential. Of the warjack trio, the new Mad Dog warjack (a "new" warjack on the Berserker chassis) seems to be fated to be the least impressive of them all, though in fairness it's up against some stiff competition. I've been racking my brain over the months to try and come up with something that would make the Mad Dog compelling, and I'm coming up short every time. Hopefully PP can circumvent my expectations and surprise me, but I expect the Mad Dog to be the "cute but not that great" entry for the book.

The possibilities that new solos bring to Khador are so exciting that it almost makes me dizzy to think about them. One of the bigger upsides to having a faction that is rooted in using infantry is that solos have a lot of potential to shake things up/reinvigorate old choices. Just look at what the Iron Fang Kovnik did for the faction in general, and that model is, ultimately, pretty lean on rules. A more robust support solo could turn the faction on it's head.

If we are really lucky and get a set of 6 releases, a new UA would be most welcome (assuming decent rules of course). Shocktroopers are honestly only one great UA away from being a rock solid unit (it's remarkable how much of a difference Shield March makes for them), and Assault Kommandos could move up from a niche option to a very legit mainstay unit with a proper UA; their WAs are already pretty great.

1. Warcaster: (Epic) Epic Denegrha - Art spoiled (book cover)
2. Warjack: Sepulcher (Colossal Warjack) - Name and model spoiled, teaser rules.
3. Warjack: "Shovel Hands McGee" (Character Helljack) - Unnamed warjack, art spoiled.
4. ???
5. ???
6?. ???

Cryx joins Protectorate as the other faction that doesn't have any concrete details about their character warjack, other than some art (and Cryx doesn't even have a name for theirs at this point, so far as I know). It's a very cool looking warjack - it's concept art was spoiled around the same time as Ruin's concept art showed up - but its hard to say much more about it. Denegrha3 is in good company with Zerkova2, though she's obviously of a higher pedigree: there's a lot of potential for greatness here (Deneghra is two for two on "amazing 'caster incarnations") but also a lot of potential for disappointment (it's almost impossible for her to be as good as her previous two versions, and she may be a battle engine warcaster which hasn't been a boon so far).

The Sepulcher could be a very interesting colossal. All we know about it so far is that it can collect bodies and spit out McThralls. That's not something Cryx has a problem doing already, so a lot of the Sepulcher's value will come down to how easily and effectively it can do that, and what else it brings to the table other than more body churn.

Cryx has a lot of interesting design space for a potential new light warjack. They have the most wildly varied stable of lights in all of the factions, and it's perfectly possible for them to get another "weirdo" light warjack - eg. Helldiver, Stalker - that gives them something interesting to do with their light battlegroups. Warjacks in general are a hard sell in a faction that: a) wants to use their WJP on arc nodes, and b) has astoundingly effective infantry, but another bonejack that can fill an interesting niche should see at least some play.

Cryx is similar to Cygnar, in that it already has a number of support solos that pair up with existing units (though theirs are better on average) and a surprising number of UAs. That's not to say that there is no room for new entries - a non-character Bane solo could be interesting, as would a *hurk* Bane Knight UA - but it's also not quite as obvious where PP would go with it. Cryx also has quite a bit of design space open with the various archetypes that make up Cryx, so there are a ton of different ways they could go when trying to come up with a new solo/UA/whatever. Of all the solo/UA possibilities in the book, this is the one I feel like I have the least idea of what to expect from.

1. Warcaster: ???
2. Unit: The Devil's Shadow Mutineers (Character Unit) - Full rules spoiled.
3. Battle Engine: Siege Crawler - Name and art spoiled, no rules.
4. ???
5. ???
6?. ???

I didn't really realize it before typing this up, but Mercenaries are in probably the weirdest spot in terms of known/spoiled releases, second only to Convergence. Of all the things we know are coming out for them, one is actually fully released and the other is concept art. I thought we knew more than that, but I think that feeling came from so many High Command cards positing possible Mercenary releases (which, based on my understanding, doesn't confirm anything coming out on the WM side of things).

That leaves Mercenaries with a lot of question marks. Add to that the fact that Mercenaries usually don't adhere to "normal" release logic (since many of their releases serve as supplemental additions to the "main" factions), and there are probably some very interesting surprises left in the Mercenary release list.

Their new 'caster could be literally anything, though I think it's a safe bet that it will be an epic form of an existing 'caster. I also think it's very likely that this epic 'caster will be from the "original" set of Mercenary warcasters - Magnus, Gorten, or Ashlynn - as they feel the most deserving and fan demanded. Mercenary players have been waiting on epic Gorten for approximately forever, and an epic form of Ashlynn could update her approach to the game in a way that is more palatable to the way it has grown over the years. Magnus3 would also feel well deserved; even though having a double-epic in a faction where there are no other epic 'casters feels like a waste, Magnus is also the Mercenary 'caster who is doing the most in the story.

The Siege Crawler is also interesting in that it is a battle engine which, similar to the Sacral Vault and Meat Thresher, has the potential to have a greater impact in the other factions that can take it. Prior to the Sacral Vault/Meat Thresher I would have guessed that the Siege Crawler would be limited to Mercenaries, but now I can totally see it being available to Cygnar and either Khador or Protectorate (probably Khador). The million dollar question is if/how the Siege Crawler can be relevant in a game system where colossals have eclipsed the niche that the better battle engines originally filled. The most recent battle engines certainly speak to PP knowing how to step up battle engine rules to make them more palpable/relevant, so I'm interested in seeing what exactly the Siege Crawler does, and who can use it.

And I also have to retract something I just said: Mercenaries (not Cryx) is the faction I have the least clue of what will go in those remaining slots. At least with Cryx I feel like I could make some educated guesses that could always be blown out of the water by crazy new ideas; Mercenary solos tend to be so characterful and unique that I wouldn't even know where to start guessing. It does make them potentially the most exciting of all the factions to keep an eye on though, especially since those releases will likely benefit one or two other factions as well.

1. Warcaster: ???
2. Warjack: Helios (Colossal) - Name and art spoiled, rules teased.
3. Warjack: Moros (Character Light Myrmidon) - Full rules spoiled.
4. ???
5. ???
6?. ???

Although I listed the Retribution warcaster as "???", I think it is extremely likely (based on feat spoiled by the last league) that Retribution will be getting epic Garryth as their next 'caster. Moros being released this cycle seems to also hint at that, though it's no guarantee (Dynamo and Ruin are both affiliated with 'casters not featured in this book), and although the spoiled feat heavily implies Garryth2, it could technically belong to anyone; maybe Ravyn2 is a melee monster? Garryth2 is one of the more compelling epic possibilities though, for the same reason Zerkova2 is: his current form is interesting but flawed, so another take on it (with better/tighter design) could be really interesting.

Helios is one of the most interesting of the new colossals, based on the few rules for it PP spoiled during their "colossals wave 2 " presentation earlier this year. Colossals typically earn their keep through a combination of gunfire and powerful melee attacks; Helios supposedly does not have a damaging ranged attack. Instead it has a tractor beam that allows it to push models around, and a bunch of other secondary effects it generate. Combine that with it's affiliation to House Shyeel (Camp Battle Mage) and there is a lot of potential for Helios to be a monstrously powerful control piece. However, there is a relatively thin line between "powerful control piece" and "ineffective waste of space", and where a model falls on that spectrum comes down to a bunch of small factors. It will be very, very interesting to see if Helios can provide enough control and support to make up for its (reported) lack of ranged damage.

Moros is, at least by my reading, an excellent character light warjack that slots well into Retribution overall. It represents the ideal of character warjacks: useful in general (so you're not buying a model for just one list) while also having strong enough synergy with it's affiliated warcaster to push you to include it with them (Apparition is a big deal on that little guy). Continuing my prediction for everyone to get new light warjacks (or myrmidons in this case) I think Moros will be getting a cohort or two in this book.

I've read/heard rumors over the years that the Aspis was actually part of a second set of light warjacks for Retribution that PP just hasn't had the chance to roll out yet, so I could see them sneaking another one or two lights into this book. Retribution can make decent use of lights with their preponderance of 'Jack Marshals and ready access to Power Booster; the million dollar question is if those lights can be worth taking. Based on my limited experience with Retribution, I actually found the lights they have mostly useful - the Gorgon is the only one I couldn't bring myself to put on the table - so getting more options in that realm could be very interesting. Especially if they're as useful as the Aspis.

I could see Retribution actually getting more than one new light warjack, if PP wanted to fill out their options that way. Retribution doesn't have a great need for UAs - they have a lot already and most of the ones they have are good, if not great - though there is still plenty of room for more solos. The Houseguard Thane proved what a difference just one little 2 point solo can make for an entire faction. I don't see them getting something that game changing again (assuming it's even possible for something new to have that same level of impact) but I wouldn't be surprised to see another general support solo or two. Dawnguard, for example, don't have a proper associated solo; the Scyir is a pretty cool model, but dreadfully flaccid in terms of rules and impact. I could see a more general Dawnguard solo coming out, especially since that could be another way to try and prop up the (rightly, in my eyes) maligned Destors.

And then there are the possibilities of more general support solos, or just weirdo solos. Retribution has sort of a Cryxian virtue in it's design, in that the Mage Hunter and Battle Mage archetypes allow for some very interesting designs because they're inherently broad and sort of strange. So there's always an x-factor of unpredictability with Retribution solos: they can take a fairly standard, predictable line (as they mostly have so far) or they can throw out some oddball stuff you never would have guessed at (such as the Mage Hunter Assassin and the House Shyeel Artificer).

1. Warcaster: ???
2. Warjack: Prime Conflux (Colossal Vector) - Name and art spoiled, rules teased.
3?. ???
4?. ???
5?. ???
6?. ???

Convergence is hard to speculate about. Of all the factions that will be getting new releases in Reckoning, they are the only one with a special stipulation: Convergence isn't supposed to be part of the primary book release cycle, so there's no telling how many releases they will be getting. The only reason we can say for sure that they're getting anything at all is that they were included in the "colossals wave 2" presentation. If not for that nugget, most players (myself included) would have assumed they wouldn't be getting any new releases this year at all.

The one guaranteed release for Convergence is the Prime Conflux, their new colossal. The Prime Conflux is up against some stiff competition; the Prime Axiom is one of the best designed colossals in the game, and fits into it's faction nearly perfectly (thanks to the fact that it was designed along side the entire initial first wave of the faction). The Prime Conflux needs to bring something different to the table to be compelling, and my hunch is that "something different" will be a larger compliment of damaging ranged weaponry. If the Prime Axiom has one flaw, it's that it doesn't have as much ranged damage potential as it's (also highly rated) counterparts; it has a high volume of attacks, but they're all either POW 11's or auto-1 point'ers. The Prime Conflux could give Convergence it's own "gun platform" colossal, which would be interesting with 'casters like Directrix, Syntherion, and even Aurora.

And then there is the possibility of a new 'caster. There are no guarantees, and lots of speculation: High Command has cards for a brand new warcaster (Orion) as well as an epic form of Directrix, both of which are feasible as new 'caster options for the faction. Of all the possibilities I'm leaning more towards a completely new 'caster over an epic at this point; the faction is still relatively young, so having more discrete design options is preferable over iterating on designs (which is usually the route that epics take, albeit extremely effectively in the best cases, and some epics are genuine weirdos).

Due to Convergence's "standalone release" status, it's hard to say if they'll be getting anything more than a new 'caster and a colossal in this book. I could certainly see the faction getting another one or two things - especially since it's pretty light on the Electricity damage type that the Prime Conflux is seeking to buff - but I'd be very surprised to see more than three or four releases total for the faction. I think PP wants to keep the faction moving forward - new releases are how factions most readily adapt to and/or dictate the meta - but at the same time I think they're hesitant to expand the faction too quickly. Convergence has the benefit of having a very tight, considered design; adding too much to the faction too quickly could dilute that feeling, and hurt one of the faction's biggest strengths (for little gain if the new additions don't do much to improve or diversify lists).

The number of Convergence releases is also, I think, a factor in how many releases each other faction will be getting. All the design and development time for these models has to come from somewhere, and PP is already producing a dizzying number of models across all the factions for this release cycle; assuming 5 releases per faction, that's 30 new entries without counting Convergence! The presence of Convergence at all in this release cycle leads me to think that the other factions will be getting, on average, 5 releases each. How many Convergence gets is anyone's guess. I could see just the two - 'caster and colossal - but I'd also not be surprised to see another one or two entries thrown in there to try to allow Convergence to keep up with everyone else's growth.


That is where we're at in terms of known releases for Warmachine: Reckoning, with a healthy dollop of speculation to go along with it. We're very likely less than a month away from knowing all the juicy details; just over a month away if the book (shockingly) doesn't show up at Lock & Load. Once the full set of releases are known, I'll definitely be sharing my in depth impressions of the Khador entries, and I'll probably go through and do a general overview of each faction's entries as well (similar to what I did with Hordes: Exigence).

As always, thanks very much for reading!

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