Insider 9-11-13

DC: As more and more players crack open their copies of WARMACHINE High Command and take the new deck-building game for a whirl, debates have begun to arise around the Internet. Some players prefer a very aggressive strategy of taking as many locations as they can as quickly as possible. Others try to fight only when necessary while building up victory points purchased from their reserves. Some use their warcasters early and often while others save them up for a final push toward victory.

It should come as no surprise that the same is true around the office. Even among Privateer Press staff members, we each have our own preferred approaches to each High Command faction. Today, we’ll take a look at a few ways to approach Cygnar.

In general, Cygnar is a very well-rounded faction with diverse detachments, so they’re really not locked into playing for either the long game or the short game. A Cygnar player has a lot of options and numerous offensive warcasters for dealing with an opponent’s power cards.

Will: As Cygnar was my first WARMACHINE faction, it has always held a special place in my heart. So it’s likely no surprise Cygnar is possibly my favorite faction in WARMACHINE High Command. Though every warcaster brings some awesome to the table, I prefer to play around Cygnar’s long game with an emphasis on heavy ’jacks and elite infantry over faster and cheaper elements like trenchers, light ’jacks, and long gunners. This means my current favorite build is red, blue, purple, which really emphasizes Cygnar’s elite heavy hitters.

As such, Commander Coleman Stryker is a top warcaster choice, given his blue and red detachment colors, both of which are chock full of Ironclads, Defenders, and Stormblades. His Invincibility ability is also great for the long game, making your high-health troops even tougher. But don’t discount this when playing the short game either, as +2 Health does amazing things for the staying power of Minutemen and long gunners.

My other honorable mentions for top warcaster choices when playing the long game are Commander Adept Sebastian Nemo, who helps clear out opponents relying on their own heavily armed heavy warjacks or warbeasts to carry the day; and launch-event promo warcaster Jeremiah Kraye, who helps turn Cygnar’s long game into a short game through smart use of Horsepower. Don’t be afraid to rush Kraye early if you have the chance to get a couple VP warjacks like Lancers or Ironclads on the board. Not only will you likely wipe out any enemy opposition, you’ll also have a multiple victory point swing set up with both a location in danger of capture in addition to the VPs granted by the warjacks themselves.

DC: Whichever warcasters and detachment colors I choose in a given game, I really like to set up powerful, synergistic card pairs in Cygnar. For example, a good pair to deploy to take a location is the Cyclone with a Trencher Sharpshooter Team. It has sufficient Power to defeat the vast majority of cards in the game and requires a hefty 7 Power on the opposing side to destroy any Cygnar cards. When looking to oust an enemy rather than take a location, a Journeyman Warcaster with a Charger is good for 5 (or even 6) Power at a cost of just 3 CMD and 3 WAR.

Will: Since I prefer to play the long game, for me it’s all about grabbing the right resource cards as early as possible. With four Caspian Orders in the reinforcement deck and two Rail Shipments, you should always find yourself with some solid resource cards to purchase in your first couple of turns. Use lower-cost cards like Journeymen Warcaster and Lancers to slow down your opponents’ attempt to capture locations early while you build up your army deck. And remember that even your heavy warjack cards make great resources with their 2 WAR resource values, allowing you to really build up an iron-and-steam blitzkrieg machine! By the time the Mid-war cards start showing up in the Winds of War deck, you should have no problem dropping a ’jack or two a turn on a location.

DC: And, of course, no discussion of Cygnar would be complete without mentioning Battle-Hardened. Defensive measures like Covering Fire, Superior Range, and Invincibility are great for blunting enemy attacks, but Battle-Hardened allows you to negate an attack entirely. Whether it allows a powerful Stormblade Platoon to continue the fight or simply resurrects a Squire to prevent an opponent from capturing a location, Battle-Hardened can really turn the tide at key moments in the game.

To maximize the powerful card pairs I mentioned earlier and to take a full complement of Battle-Hardened cards, I’m going to give a nod to the orange-yellow-purple detachment combination with Sloan-Siege-Nemo as the warcasters. All three of these warcasters should be swooping in for at least 6 Power alongside one of my low-cost warjack cards. If that location also happens to have a Trencher card or a Journeyman card to create one of my power pairs, the Cygnaran forces can oust any opposition. Keep up the pressure to grab a location or two early in the game, though, as this color combination doesn’t have quite as strong a long game as Will’s combination.

Will: DC said it first, but I’ll echo it here: Battle-Hardened is a high commander’s best friend. The applications for this card are really endless. My favorite ploy is to drop a Stormblade Platoon on a location where my opponent has three cards with at least one of 3 Health or less. Thanks to Battle-Hardened, even in a situation where my Stormblade Platoon might be destroyed, leaving my opponent with enough cards to still capture the location on his turn, playing Battle-Hardened puts them right back in the action and blocks him from capturing to boot!

Finally, don’t be afraid to use Cygnar’s flexibility to your advantage when constructing your reinforcement deck. Even the faster detachments boast two or more of Cygnar’s amazing heavy warjacks in addition to great rushing options like trenchers or long gunners, allowing you to craft a strong midgame deck that can keep up with rush-centric early-game decks like Circle Orboros or Cryx, keeping them from getting the critical lead early before grinding them to dust with your more durable elites in the mid- to endgame.