Insider 1-25-2011

As other staff members have mentioned in recent blogs, Privateer Press holds a monthly event for its staffers called First Fridays. It’s a chance for all of us to enjoy the hobby we work hard to create. For me, it’s also something else: it’s a huge learning experience.

I must be honest. Though I have had plenty of experience with WARMACHINE since its birth with the four starter sets, the job I had before this one did not leave me with much time for hobbies. As such, my interactions with MKII were almost non-existent. I even had to sell most of my armies to make the trek out to Seattle for this great opportunity. So, when I started to muster my armies again after con season this year, I also had to pick up on the differences between MKI and MKII. Throw in HORDES and Retribution, and I had a LOT to learn. And learn I did, the hard way.

First lesson: NEVER underestimate the Shredder.

So there I am, my army spread out before me, and my opponent’s army looking small and puny across the table. (It wasn’t really; I just have to psyche myself up for the game. Visualize their destruction! Visualize their destruction!) Where was I? Yes, the puny army before me that has no chance at victory. Well that “puny” army had its fair share of Shredders. As a player relearning much of the game, I prioritize threats starting with the big guys. 1) Warlock - Lylyth is fast and has quite a threat range. 2) Heavies – Carnivean and Scythean are scary melee threats with a speed of 6! 3) Troops – Throw in some Legion ranged goodies and I have a lot to worry about. Now here’s my error: I completely ignored the nastiness of the Shredder. They are a lesser warbeasts for cripes sakes. Well, I am sure you can gather from my above warning that the little buggers did me in. My warcaster not only fell to rabid Shredders, but they snacked on his disabled body. Talk about adding insult to injury!

Second lesson: Devouts don’t save you from your own stupidity.

Back in the day, my favorite warcasters were those who did their thing from afar. Severius was my boy. We were inseparable. His spells were awesome, his control area immense, and add in a Revenger, and there is no safe place on the board. But I digress. This lesson isn’t about my infatuation with Severius; it’s about my stupidity. This time around, I wanted to try something new. I went with a completely different style of warcaster in Reznik. This guy can give you a beat down like few others in the game, but you need to be in the thick of things to do it. So I decided to bring along two Devouts to help keep him safe. The game is going swimmingly. My Cleansers are burning non-believers, my Avatar is slicing and dicing and looking cool doing it, and my Bastions are holding down an entire flank with Sanguine Bond…then my eyes really light up. There is a Carnivean within charging distance of Reznik. Now he can shine. Severius would hardly have a chance of singlehandedly bringing down a Carnivean, but not Reznik. I cast Engine of Destruction and away I went. With a focus from a Wrack he brings down six POW 18 hits and wracks the blighted melee monstrosity. (I know the rules do not support the wracking of a Carnivean, but I am visualizing here. It’s a recurring theme with me.) I then move my two Devouts up to flank Reznik, thinking this a failsafe protective move, and smile smugly at my opponent. Oddly enough, he was smiling smugly right back at me. Long story short, Devouts can only protect from threats in their front arcs. Fast, bounding, acrobatic warlocks with Weapon Master and Critical Decapitation aren’t intimidated by them. The Carnivean was the last model Reznik “wracked” on that day.

Third (and most important) lesson: you never have everything figured out, even if you think you do.

As soon as I ignore a minor threat, it kills me. When I feel proud of myself for my battlefield accomplishments, I stare in horror as my warcaster is hacked apart by a dainty elven femme fatale. I quickly learned from my various games since joining Privateer Press that every model can be deadly in one way or another. If I ever find myself discarding a model because I think it doesn’t have a use or is underpowered, I am quickly shown my error in a bloody and embarrassing way.

I try to keep every scenario in mind when playing and wind up giving myself a headache trying to keep it all straight. There are endless possibilities with this game and trying to figure them all out is half the fun. Playing as many battles as I can is really the only way to learn, and I found out that I learn a lot more from losing than I do from winning. My learning experiences are piling up faster than the pile of dead troops and casters at my command. The trick is not repeating the same mistake twice.

Freaking shredders…