Insider 5-13-2011

Yesterday, Ed talked a bit about his newfound love for Unbound and showed off some great pictures from the fully painted game we played during our monthly First Friday event. That was the second Unbound game I’ve played against Ed (the first was my Legion vs. his Cryx) and the very first time I had played Retribution since playtesting ended for them back in early 2009. It was, to say the least, an experience I won’t soon forget.

I’ll admit that I’m with Ed. If I’m ever going to play large scale WARMACHINE and HORDES from now on. it will be in the Unbound format. There are several reasons I really enjoy the format, but the biggest one has to be the way the alternating activation dramatically alters the strategy of the game. At one point during our epic battle to claim the war-torn town, someone commented on evaluating threats. Ed came back with the following line, “You can plan all you want, but because you never really know what your opponent is going to do next. Threats you never saw coming have a way of punching you right in the face.” Conveniently, this was right before he assassinated Ravyn with a move I never saw coming.

Unbound gives you a lot to think about as a player. Getting the first turn of a round is fantastic; every model you kill is one less thing your opponent can do during that round. However, you need to temper that excitement with the realization that everything that activates in the first turn has at least seven turns of waiting ahead of it. Seven turns of weathering retaliation and seven turns of potentially being in your opponent’s way at best and getting in your own way at worst.

In addition to having to think about how your early turns will affect your ability to execute later ones, Unbound also forces you to think about target priority in a whole new light. While it can be tempting to take out an opponent’s models that are exposed from their last activation, it is a much sounder strategy in most cases to target models that have yet to activate and thus prevent them from influencing the round. Of course, once done, it is now your models that may find themselves in a similarly exposed position.

The statement has been made in just about every blog concerning Unbound, but there is no question the system really captures the ebb and flow of battle. In my mind, it is about the closest any game has ever been to real-time strategy combat. Throw in a compelling scenario and two fully painted armies, and you get an experience like no other. As a player I encourage everyone to pick up No Quarter Magazine #36, muster your army and experience Unbound first hand.

I know that Ed and I will be talking about the ups and downs of this game for months to come. And I for one can't wait for the rematch!