Insider 05-26-2016

Khador values strength, loyalty, and ingenuity above all else. To its enemies, Khador is the wolf at the gates, a nation characterized by its armies of grim-faced patriots, hardened by the endless winter and dedicated to the dream of a restored empire. Behind them are the proletariat masses that spend their lives in the vast factories, expending their blood and labor to keep the Motherland’s great war machine moving. Where Khador’s armies march, the pride of countless generations follows.

Khador hungers for conquest.

On the tabletop, Khador is personified by its heavy warjacks, great armored hulks that lumber ponderously across the battlefield, dealing damage as well as they can take it. Slow-moving but steady, Khador’s warjacks are like the tide, and anything that stands against them will be washed away. Backing these engines of war are Khador’s legions of professional soldiers, well-trained specialists, and gifted arcanists. Though Khador is a fully industrialized nation, if any of its methods or technologies seem antiquated, it is only because they are supported by a tradition of pragmatic efficiency and brutal effectiveness.

One of the first things we did in the new edition was to wean the Faction off its high-DEF stats that threatened to undermine Khador’s flavor. While there is certainly a place for assassins and snipers in the ranks of the Motherland’s armies, something had gone astray. We looked good and hard at spells like Iron Flesh and decided that we needed to initiate some changes. Iron Flesh would now add to ARM and not DEF. Though we tried a direct stat change, this ultimately proved a bit unbalanced, so we settled on the following wording, “Target friendly Faction warrior model/unit gains +2 ARM and does not suffer blast damage. Models are not affected while out of formation.”

We also reconsidered the relative place of heavy infantry in the game. As we have already discussed elsewhere, for the most part we reduced the damage boxes of medium-based heavy infantry models from 8 to 5. We wanted Khador’s Man-O-War to be the gold standard of heavy infantry in the game, however, so we left them at 8. We additionally planned to make other significant changes to the Man-O-War to bring them further to the fore of the infantry options available to Khador, but we slowly saw that all they really needed was some slight modifications and a point rebalancing. Consider that in a game in which we reduced the overall hardiness of medium-based infantry across the board, a Man-O-War Shocktrooper model in Shield Wall benefitting from the new Iron Flesh spell has an effective ARM of 23 in the front arc and 8 damage boxes. Now sitting at a cost of 10/16, that is a solid change to their place in the Faction.

We did also reduce the DEF of the Man-O-War to 10 to further set apart the slow-moving men of iron from the ranks of the infantry in the Faction. It only seemed appropriate, and other heavy infantry throughout the Factions went through similar DEF reductions (Cataphracts, I’m looking at you).

But what you really want to know about are the warjacks, so let’s start with the venerable Berserker. Age before beauty. The change to Power Up pretty much mandated an update to the Unstable special rule. which also made Aggressive feel dated. So, we made a few minor changes . . .

The Juggernaut chassis also got a bump in the form of MAT 7. These ’jacks may not be harder to hit than the broadside of a barn, but they can deliver a blow with increasing accuracy. As for the Destroyer, we also increased its AOE to 4˝ and rewrote Critical Amputation so it is effective against warbeasts as well as warjacks. The special rule now reads, “On a critical hit on a warjack or warbeast, fill in the unmarked damage boxes or circles on the last column or branch damaged.”

I have seen a bit of anxiety on the forums with regards to the Grolar’s new ROF. I can confirm the warjack’s Auto Cannon can make d3 +2 attacks per turn and can still make ranged attacks and melee attacks in the same activation. Its Heavy Boiler also now gives it +2˝ of movement when running.

The Behemoth was vastly simplified with a rewrite of the Sub-Cortex rule, which now grants the warjack Powerful Attack with its Bombards as long as its S systems are not crippled. It can no longer make melee and ranged attacks in the same activation, but we managed to pull a full-length essay off the card. It still packs a pair of POW 12 armor-piercing fists that now have a 1˝ melee range.

Returning to Khador’s units, we focused in a little more narrowly on the Iron Fangs, who we have always seen as an elite infantry unit. To reflect this, the Pikemen and the Uhlans both went up to MAT 7. They also lost a point of DEF since their battlefield tactics and heavy armor do not generally lend themselves to evasion.

We also split off the Black Dragons from the standard Iron Fang Pikemen and made them their own unit.

While we were reviewing the role of the other Iron Fangs, we also took a look at the Great Bears of the Gallowswood and decided they were just a little stronger than we wanted them to be. Ultimately, they lost a point of POW but kept a 2˝ melee range and traded Weapon Master for Flank [another model in this unit]. They also kept their DEF 13.

Rounding out the Iron Fang offerings are the Iron Fang Kovnik and Uhlan Kovnik Markov. The Iron Fang Kovnik traded Shield March and ’Jack Marshal for No Sleeping on the Job [Iron Fang] and a Leadership special rule that grants Precision Strike (yep, the Black Dragons already have it, but the Pikemen and Uhlans love it). Ultimately, we decided that Shield March was just a bit too much and wanted to see something a little different out of the Kovnik.

As for Markov, he traded his now-outdated Inspiration special rule for Tactician [Iron Fang], which reads, “While in this model’s command range, friendly Iron Fang models ignore other friendly Iron Fang models when determining LOS. Friendly Iron Fang models can advance through other friendly Iron Fang models in this model’s command range if they have enough movement to move completely past them.” Can you envision the lines of Iron Fang Pikemen neatly opening up at Markov’s command to allow the Uhlans to sweep past them and into the enemy lines before once more closing back up into a shield wall?

The Winter Guard Infantry changed little, though the Rifle Corps traded Suppressing Fire for Combined Ranged Attack . We also drastically increased the effectiveness of the Winter Guard Rocketeer weapon attachment by giving it Brutal Damage. We also changed its Attachment rule to Attachment [Winter Guard Infantry or Winter Guard Rifle Corps] and made it FA U. That’s right: you can add up to three of these models to Winter Guard Infantry or Winter Guard Rifle Corps. That is three RNG 14 attacks that hit at POW 12 with three dice of damage on a direct hit. That is a bit of game changer, especially when paired with the Field Gun, which is now RNG 14, POW 15 with plain Knockdown (not Critical Knockdown). The weapon’s RNG was slightly toned when it gained the ability to move and fire.

The Doom Reaver Swordsmen, as they are now known, traded the blessing/curse known as Abomination for Tough . They also retained Weapon Master and a 2˝ melee range, but lost a point of POW. Finally, they became Field Allowance U, so you can still field your bloodthirsty horde.

Wilder than ever, Fenris is now clearly labeled a Doom Reaver but has lost Silence completely. Instead of being a calming influence (let’s be honest, that never really made sense), he now conveys Relentless Charge to Doom Reavers. Instead, the Greylord Escort grants Silence to its Faction, which makes a lot more sense to us. A small but thematic change was that all the Greylord models picked up Immunity: Cold . And now I switch gears to warcasters.

First, I want to honestly say I do not remember a time when Kommandant Irusk did not have Battle Plans. I mean, I am looking at the Mk II Forces of WARMACHINE: Khador book, and it is really weird not to see it there. How did you guys live before Irusk had Battle Plans? Doesn’t that just feel natural? Irusk is also the only model in the game that still has the Inhospitable Ground spell. We decided out of all the warcasters and ’locks in the game, this was the guy who would always choose his battlefield.

Yeah . . . I realize I didn’t tell you what those Battle Plans were, but don’t you just at least feel happier knowing they are there? A little more spring in your step?

We also significantly reworked Karchev, and this one is bound to be met with some grumbles. Yes, he is different, and those of us that remember his Mk I incarnation will certainly bemoan some of the change in flavor. I do, too. That said, I think we have achieved a brutally effective man-in-the-machine. This version of Karchev is a steamroller. Yes, his power slide is gone, and honestly we got sick of seeing him turn his back on the enemy or huddle up with warjacks until he had the DEF of a ballet dancer. This Karchev kills—every blasted thing in his path.

The problem with talking about Khador’s warcasters is that I want to say something about all of them. Each is so distinct in its character and capabilities that even the ones that remain little changed are still noteworthy. In fact, I just deleted a paragraph about the Old Witch, like, three times . . .
But Zerkova, now she changed for real. It just did not seem like we had done justice to a weapon called the Rod of Whispers—there just had to be more to it than that. So we gave it Grave Door, which temporarily turns enemy models she kills with her ranged attack into arc nodes. She also pretty much traded out her old spell list for one with even more of a spooky ice-witch focus. I won’t spoil it all just yet, but I will say Khador has some solid uses for Ghost Walk.

There is one more you had to know was going to change. Kommander Zoktavir, the Butcher Unleashed needed Tough . And we gave it to him. Actually we gave it to all three incarnations of the Butcher. We also apparently decided he was not killy enough and changed Silence of Death so that it now conveys +2 STR and Take Down. Certainly that feat needed to change. What is a “command check” anymore? Well, now in addition to his free focus, Butcher 3 cannot be charged by living enemy models for a round—a fine translation of terror in the modern world.