At some point, probably a year or two ago, the Warmachine and Hordes community really embraced social media. Lots of prominent players took to Twitter and Facebook as ways of directly communicating with each other and the rest of the player base.
While that is good-to-great for building a sense of community, it had an effect I never would have foreseen: almost all spoiler talk happens first on Twitter/Facebook, and then we're lucky to catch it on a forum somewhere (usually it's just something like "spoilers on Trevor from Chain Attack's Twitter?") As a social media Luddite, it makes me nostalgic for the good 'ol days of vague forum posts and blog info dumps.
In that spirit, I wanted to collect the set of spoiler-y tidbits and rumors that came out of SmogCon this past weekend, which you can find after the break. If you want to preserve the original means of delivery, only read it 140 characters at a time.
In no particular order, taken from various PP forum posts (bless the fine folks who shared that info with the rest of us):
- Play test starts on new Hordes Faction on the return from SmogCon
- Carver on boar chariot possibly in the future
- Theme force levelling/adjustment will happen in future
- Agathea is taller than deneghra, smaller than terminus
- Lich Lord Mortenebra may have been a typo (referring to her seemingly epic 'caster title in the most recent NQ)
- Hydra taught some hard lessons, these will payoff in future colossal releases (context indicates this relates to manufacturing delays, not rules or balance)
- Dracodile (Blindwater Gargantuan) has appeared on and dropped from the release schedule multiple times
- Allison Jakes is in current playtest in her full caster form. Will be akin to the game iteration, but not exact 1:1.
- Plan is in place for errata/card conflict
- There was a rumour circulating that House Vyre light warjacks had been developed, but were pulled from the Vengeance books in order to accommodate Imperatus. This was literally debunked as rubbish. There are no House Vyre lights.
- Jason was pleased that the company moved away from a policy of introducing new technology in each book.
- There are not any new Battle Engines on the horizon.
- It wasn't categorically stated, but was implied that the next Warmachine book will contain only one Warcaster per Faction.
- Caine3 exists and will work for a Faction <----- PP very cagey when discussing Caine3 and the next Warmachine book: "all will be revealed in the next 12-18 months"
- We are likely to see version 4s of Casters/solos in the future. There was a joke that Stryker8 was currently in development.
- Ron chose to resculpt the Gorax himself because the original model was horrible, then engineered an opportunity to produce it and shoehorn it into the release schedule.
- Several versions of epic Allison Jakes were written. The one chosen for Tactics might be different from the one currently in play-testing, but the character's overall theme will remain constant.
- At some point in the future, Fyanna will perform an act which attracts Everblight's attention and earns her an athanc shard. Her epic version will therefore be a full Warlock, making her Legion's equivalent of Allison Jakes.
Some of those points are very interesting. I personally love reading "behind the curtain" bits like the story behind the Gorax resculpt, though it doesn't technically have any bearing on the game itself.
The talk of 4th iterations of various 'casters isn't too surprising when you account for the fact that PP has a very long view of the game (I've heard they plan as far as 5 years out with releases), though here's hoping we get a few more 1's, 2's, and 3's before we get very many 4's.
The talk of Jakes going full warcaster isn't surprising - PP staffers mentioned way back when that they planned on "upgrading" all of the character Jrs. from Vengeance to full warcasters in the near future, and Jakes' is playable as a full warcaster in Warmchine: Tactics - but it is cool to see that those plans are progressing along and probably aren't too far off.
One of the most interesting things is the mention of the Dracodile as an honest-to-god release. We haven't seen much of it other than an IKRPG entry so hearing that it has made it far enough along in the development process to have come on and off the release schedule is rather exciting. I'm guessing they've been playing their cards close to their chest on this one due to production concerns (especially in lieu of what they said about the Hydra teaching them some hard lessons). It will be very interesting to see what a Minions gargantuan looks like. Who knows when we will see rules or a model, but it will be a giant crocodile-thing so it should be pretty impressive looking, if nothing else.
Carver on a boar chariot is generally neat news. I feel like warlocks fare better on Huge bases than their 'caster brethren; the flexibility of animi and the ability to flat transfer off damage gives them a much better chance of being able to actually do things during a game and survive. Denny3 shows the lengths you need to go to have that kind of success in WM, and frankly I'm not sure how many other warcasters will have comparable mechanics that help them not melt once they spend some focus.
Plus there is every chance that the boar chariot will be as entertaining and interesting a model as the Meat Thresher. With the added bonus of having Carver on top.
The stand out bullet point is the one concerning theme forces, and the balancing thereof.
Theme forces have grown to be sort of a bugbear for PP over the course of Mk. 2: they started off being largely throw away, semi-fluffy army lists that had a few stand outs which survived based on shenanigans (Butcher2 theme force being a great example). As time went on, PP became better at creating theme forces, and started to produce special ones via NQ. Those theme forces, and some of the ones associated with 'casters that came a little later in the Mk. 2 cycle, have ended up being big balance problems when taken to extremes (along with the few standouts from ye old "Forces of" books).
Based on posts from folks who sound like they were actually there for the Q&A session (such as this post from PP forum user mercury), PP isn't necessarily looking to do a big, sweeping revision of theme forces as we know it. They want to preserve the validity of everyone's purchases (a mantra they've had for some time) and honestly probably do not have the resources to thoroughly revise and re-balance 200+ theme forces.
One theory that has been kicking around for awhile now, and may regain some traction, is the thought that theme forces will be restricted out of normal Steamroller play (possibly also in Masters and Iron Gauntlet as well, though those formats can technically be totally different if PP chooses). That would effectively kill theme forces as a meta concern - the meta revolves around what is legal under the Masters packet, give or take - and possibly as a general gaming concern (since PP's competitive play does so much to influence regular play). Theme forces would be allowed in Steamroller variants and user-created formats, but the "core" of WM/H competitive play will be Theme-less. Purchases will still be valid, though much like the Evolutionary Elementalism theme force change some players will probably end up with models they won't field very often.
I have zero idea how likely that solution is (or one similar to it). But I do remember a similar situation, that ended in a similar way: the concern over character models way back near the dawn of Mk. 2.
Players had similar concerns - characters models were too powerful, too prevalent, stifled list building choices, invalidated other army options - and PP was faced with the same general problem - practically impossible to fix on a case-by-case basis, need a solution that works as future releases add to the pool of models, need a solution that is well communicated.
Their solution, which was initially disliked (and still has it's friction moments) but has held strong since then was to introduce character restrictions to all competitive play formats. Character models are still just as strong as they ever were (with plenty of new strong ones coming out in various release cycles) but keeping them from being in every tournament list was apparently just enough to keep the issue in check. Meanwhile, there is nothing stopping you from playing casual games with every character known to man and living it up.
It will be interesting to see where a lot of those tidbits and rumors lead in the coming months. PP seems to be keeping everything relatively tight lipped for now, with (I'm assuming) the intent of blowing the doors off with a few big reveals at Lock & Load this year. That would make a lot of sense, as PP has been trying to place more emphasis on that convention but in prior years early year announcements sort of stole any thunder they may have normally saved for L&L. Now that TempleCon (the con where PP used to do their big reveals) has shifted to later in the year, L&L can finally become the "con to watch" for WM/H news.
Hopefully we'll see some more nuggets of info between now and then, though release list is filling out quickly - sites such as The War Store already have release lists out through May - so we may not get many surprises before L&L. It certainly seems like that is going to be the con to watch this year.
For all of us who still look to the hoary 'ol web for spoilers/rumors/tidbits, I'll keep posting 'em as I find 'em. Until next time, thanks very much for reading!