Insider 05-04-2016

Due to our desire to keep warjacks and warbeasts at the cutting edge of military might in the Iron Kingdoms, we sometimes take a more conservative approach to the balance of other model types that could overshadow them. Along the way we have learned a lot of lessons and made changes accordingly, from suping up battle engines to increasing the threat posed by Weapon Crews. With a few notable exceptions, Weapon Crews have seemed largely underwhelming throughout Mk II. Well, I can say with a great degree of confidence that will not be the case with the new edition of the game.

In addition to increasing the raw power level of our Weapon Crews, we have also greatly simplified their rules. In fact, there is not even a specific model type entry for them in Prime or Primal. Instead, all of their rules are on their cards. The Weapon Crew designation itself really only exists now to act as a reference point in theme forces and in model special rules. That last bit is vitally important because to really bring the artillery to the fore, we have made sure that each Faction that depends on support from Weapon Crews will be gaining an artillerist, gunnery sergeant, master gunner, artillery kapitan, dakar, or arms master. These “artillerists” feature a host of special rules that will make your artillery batteries (descriptive term, not a game term) ever more effective and efficient.

The Weapon Crews themselves can now move (make a full advance) and fire, charge, or benefit from the aiming bonus, which is important because for the most part the old Range Finder ability is gone. Instead, the extra models in the unit exist to help move the light artillery piece around (most Weapon Crew Gunners gain +1˝ movement for each Grunt in their unit within 2˝ of the Gunner at the start of an advance during its Normal Movement), replace Gunners who fall in combat (via the Take Up rule, like Standard Bearers), or to provide additional fire support if they are armed with additional weapons. Of course with the bonus movement from the Grunts in their unit, most Weapon Crew Gunners are quite slow on their own with SPD stats of 2 or 3. They can move and fire, but they cannot move too far and fire.

To give you some somewhat more granular details, Cygnar’s Trencher Chain Gun went through a devastating metamorphosis into a true light machine gun. With Strafe retired to the dustbin of history, the weapon features an impressive d3+1 ROF. When coupled with the Grunt’s Ammo Feeder special action, which now boosts the Gunner’s ranged attack damage rolls against warrior models, it really makes that POW 10 count. With a +1 bump in Trencher RAT and having maintained Dig In, Covering Fire, and Advance Deployment , this unit is a steal for 5 points.

The Winter Guard Field Gun sacrificed a bit of RNG (now 14) for its added mobility, but went up to POW 15 and gained straight-up knockdown. The idea is for the Field Gun to set up hard targets for Khador’s less accurate firepower, knocking them down for the mortars and warjacks to finish off. Working in tandem, these weapons can be devastating.

What can we say? All the Retribution’s Heavy Rifle Team wanted was a higher POW (8) and the ability to move and fire. Done and done, all for the cost of 4 points.

Then there is the Horgenhold Artillery Crew, which picked up a bit of a punch.

The Trollblood Thumper went through similar changes as the Winter Guard Field Gun, sacrificing some RNG (now RNG 12) for mobility but picking up an ever more impressive punch (POW 16… With Momentum!).

Not to be outdone, the Skorne’s Catapult Crew gained a bit of POW and the Venator’s notorious Burst Fire rule. Coupled with the Venator Dakar’s Veteran Leader and Combat Coordination, even the Catapult’s inaccuracy is easily overcome.

And I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the Farrow Razorback Crew, the hit-and-run masters of light artillery. In addition to the Razorback picking up Brutal Damage, the unit itself gained Reposition [3˝], enabling it to advance up to 4˝, target an enemy within 14˝, blow it apart with a POW 14 rocket with an additional die of damage (if they can directly hit it of course, their RAT is still 4), before retreating another 3˝, hopefully to cover.