Insider 5-09-2011

Everyone at Privateer is stoked for the unveiling of Unbound, rules for large scale battles in the Iron Kingdoms this week with the release of No Quarter Magazine issue #36! To kick things off for this big occasion–which is just one part of the ongoing celebration of Privateer Press’ 10th Anniversary–we’ll be taking a look at Unbound all week long in the Privateer Insider.

I can distinctly remember the last time I was this excited about WARMACHINE, and that was when I picked up my first Khador Battlegroup Box in the winter of 2006. Paging through the final draft of the Unbound rules, I was inspired by the possibilities for cinematic and narrative gaming, a feeling that hit me like an Ice Axe to the face when I first saw that box containing Kommander Sorscha Kratikoff and her hulking red warjacks.

The alternating “you go, I go” activations of Unbound create a flow to the game that, in many ways, better realizes the feel of battle in the Iron Kingdoms and the incredible power of the warcaster. In Unbound, a complex series of interactions can still deal a powerful blow to your enemy, but the scope of the game, its use of scenario, and of course, the multiple warcasters in play mean that you’re unlikely to execute a game-winning assassination in short order. This forces each player to think more like a general.

I’ve found myself pondering questions that drip with dramatic consequences! Will deploying my troops to take out an enemy ‘caster leave me open to counter-assault? Will my opponent wait two turns and give me time to recover or will he see the opportunity to take control of a weakly defended territory (territories being areas on the board which provide bonuses on the roll to seize the initiative each round)? Can my opponent be tempted to over-extend himself for a juicy enough target? These questions can really make you feel like a bona fide commander, marshaling a whole battalion. No longer does a game of WARMACHINE represent a skirmishing force or the warcaster-led core at the heart of a much larger battle; when you play Unbound, you can roll up the enemy flank or dig in to weather a tremendous assault. There’s something cinematic and magical about looking down at a whole Cryxian shore party ready to fight the mustered strength of the Cygnaran Dead Line.

Further, the nature of the game’s alternating turns also serves to place different emphasis on the interaction between game and fiction. For example, as the round progresses, the last warcasters to activate are the ones who reap the greatest benefits of extra ARM for that round. In my head at least, this better exemplifies the arcane puissance of warcasters. It’s only for a few brief moments when they have exerted themselves casting spells or directing their battlegroup that they are vulnerable. It’s just this sort of small detail that’s changed in Unbound that makes me reconsider the way the game simulates the battles of the Iron Kingdoms.

Tomorrow, Development Manager, David “DC” Carl will give his two cents on the changes to select abilities in Unbound and how these changes offer new options and challenge experienced WARMACHINE and HORDES players to look at old models in brand new ways!