fredag 29. april 2016

Mk. III: Cygnar Predictions

June 12th cannot get here fast enough if you ask me. The wait is unbearable and as those of you who follow this blog will likely have guessed, it's taken its toll on the motivation to play as well. While I am having a game tomorrow it's been a long time with no gaming by my standards now. Anyway, in this post I'll talk about what I think Cygnar will be like in Mk. III. I will also write a couple of things about what I do to prepare for the adaptation.

What does Mk. III have in store for Cygnar?

:: Known Cygnar Spoilers ::

Let's start with the obvious stuff: Things we know about Cygnar models. For Cygnar in particular, we know the Ironclad is getting a decent buff, the Trenchers are getting a bit of a buff as well (though to be honest it remains to be seen how they play in-game as we don't really know the rules for clouds/LoS 100% yet) and our cavalry are all moving to FA: 2 (at least) with Storm Lances receiving Reposition(3). Jacks all start with a focus each. Character choices are no longer 0-1 per list so, assuming the unit still exists, the Black 13th for example can be included in both lists in a typical tournament pair. So far, so good.

:: Other Known Spoilers ::

Let's move on to what we've seen overall. Cryx infantry took a nerf bat, but I think it's not as bad as it looks at first sight. Warriors picking up Ghostly and doubling their melee range might actually be a favourable trade-off whereas Knights still have roughly the same damage output on the charge. In total though it brings them down from over the top auto-include status, assuming the points aren't majorly shuffled around as well. Deneghra1 has lost some of her control elements but is otherwise nearly identical to her current, very powerful Mk. II variant. The Cryx Battle Engine got a significant buff as well: Incorporeal is a thing. The Protectorate has taken a few nerf hits, mostly to their Choir. Their gunlines were strong towards the end of Mk. II to the point where they could out-gun even most Cygnar lists. Legion's Archangel received a couple of big buffs.

:: What Does This Mean? ::

My take away from all of the above is that Privateer Press is trying to maintain the current powerlevel in Mk. 2 as a baseline. It seems they try and take the things that are over the top and reduce their power a bit, while buffing the weaker choices. They are also streamlining the rules and using the opportunity to eliminate loopholes, such as casters charging friendly models. This is a bit of a broken mechanic since casters like Haley2 and Krueger2 benefit a lot from it when they play their scenario game (I've won multiple games this way), whereas other(most?) casters hardly ever do it at all. So anyway, as I was saying I think they are trying to maintain the balance level. I also believe they will try to stay true to what works well now and keep building on that rather than turn everything around 180 degrees. Couple that with a stated intent (which I think the spoiled rules thus far reflect!) to bring each faction closer to their core traits and we have an interesting future ahead of us.

Let's take a step "back" to the status quo as of right now: End of Mk. II. What works well? Control shenanigans, speed, recursion, scenario denial seem to be the keywords in my experience. By controlling the alpha and/or ensuring there is enough recursion to hit back after you've been alpha'd, you are in a good spot for attrition. Typically I also see lists going for a slow scenario play rather than the all-out style which Haley2 for example can sometimes play.

How will Stryker1 be adjusted to Mk. III? Can he be aligned with core Cygnar traits?

So, with factions being brought back to their core traits, what does that really mean? I'll try and give a brief overview first of some of the more typical factions in the game and finish off with Cygnar. For Cryx we've seen a reduce in speed, shenanigans and control elements. Curse no longer grant bonus movement to Banes, models returned to play have to forfeit their actions and Deneghra's lost the ability to prevent charges and lower FOCUS for example. In my opinion Cryx are being brought back to a combined-arms melee force which relies on a mix of hard-hitting infantry, cheap-ish heavy jacks and strong casters to win the game. The Trollbloods have been stated to have more specialized units now. In my experience they've always been about durability and hitting power. The Warder nerf showed us that Privateer Press wanted to make their roles clearer and I am sure we will see more of this in Mk. III. The Protectorate lost some of its choir strength but I expect them to be even more focused on their synergy and anti-synergy tech. There is no "synergy" in Hymn of Battle in Mk. II, it's just a stupidly good ability (like our Journeyman's Arcane Shield). I expect them to have new and interesting ways of setting up angles that are hard to defend against and denying you the angles you are used to having. That is what the Protectorate is about in my opinion and if they pull this off I think it'll be a very rewarding faction to play.

:: Cygnar Predictions ::

So let's take a look at Cygnar. What are Cygnar's core traits? First of all we are a ranged faction, without a doubt. We are not the shootiest one, that probably goes to Legion, nor are we as numerous or specialized in our shooting as Retribution. However the ranged aspects alone do not define Cygnar. Casters like Haley3 and Stryker2 still 'feel' very Cygnar. How is this? I believe Cygnar's most significant trait is quite simply to ensure that you get the alpha first. Whether it's Caine2, any of the Haleys or even Kraye, we usually get the alpha unless you're doing something wrong. This fits well with Privateer Press' stated intent to have Cygnar be even more focused on hi-tech weaponry and gadgets and an "unhealthy obsession with thunder and lightning". We don't have the anti-synergy tech of the Protectorate but between electro leaps, lightning pods and similar support-ruining abilities, a successful Cygnar army employs the alpha to ensure the lead in attrition while the fragile but powerful hi-tech toys have to take out the vital enemy supports to ensure that the retaliation won't cripple us. Let's get down and dirty to specifics: What does all of this mean? I hope it means that we lose some of our speed, our recursion and our downright blistering firepower in favor of focusing the faction around control and shenanigans. That is what I love about playing Cygnar. The angles. They are always there! An infinite skill-cap but oh-so rewarding when you manage to pull it off. For casters and units it is of course hard to talk about specifics, especially since it's been hinted at that multiple Cygnar units will be completely reworked. I'll give it a go anyway: I expect B13th to receive a heavy nerf, Storm Lances and Gun Mages to either be nerfed or reworked, Haley2 will lose some of her power (but it's hard to say how much since many of the implicit changes like Time Bomb no longer stopping charges hurt her), Haley1 will almost guaranteed lose Temporal Barrier, Strykers will be buffed and hopefully Siege will be reworked (he is too static for my taste and although foxhole
and mage sight combined have a lot of shenanigan potential, it's situational).

Haley1, a possibly very interesting caster in Mk. III judging by her twin's recent stat-cards spoiler.
I have hopes for the Nemos, Kraye and Sloan to be playable but they are all very delicate casters to balance: Nemo's inherent jack-potential is amplified in Mk. III, Kraye's speed can quickly turn into ridiculous alphas that cannot be defended against nor recovered from and Sloan needs control elements as her shooting isn't mobile nor powerful enough to compare with Caine for example. I also hope we'll see more of Long Gunners, who I believe might be an interesting unit in a jack/beast-heavy world if they keep CRA. If one of our Storm Knight infantry units get buffed as well that would be wonderful. Conceptually I love them but in their current Mk. II state they simply aren't the best way we can spend our points. I fully expect our crutch mercs to drop significantly in popularity, from Boomhowlers to Aiyana + Holt and Eiryss2 to Gastone. This reduces our ability to mess with our enemies' synergies, which I think is just fine as that's not one of our core traits (it rather belongs to the Protectorate). Last but not least I am very interested to see what they'll do to our jacks. I think the warjack changes and the way these play with our casters will by and large determine, make or break if you will, how well they manage to pull off Cygnar being Cygnar. Obviously the colossal rules is a huge X-factor still that can swing both ways. I do expect the Stormwall to drop in power though but if Privateer Press reduce our ability to buff its SPD it will perhaps get the nerf it needs just "out of the box".

So TL;DR - My predictions for Cygnar:
+ More control elements
+ More hi-tech gadgets which help us remove troublesome elements
+ More core troops and jacks
- Less speed buffs
- Less anti-synergy tech (think Eiryss2 Arcane Interference and Upkeep Removal)
- Less ranged firepower

Unit-and-model-wise I'll make a bit of a wild guess.

Biggest winners:
+ Defender
+ Reliant
+ Long Gunners
+ Storm Guard

Biggest losers:
- Haley2
- Black13th
- Journeyman Warcaster

Go Cygnar infantry!

In preparation for Mk. III there are a few things to do. I keep following the spoilers on a day-to-day basis and try and evaluate how each little tidbit will shape the way the game plays. Thus far I think that Trollbloods (Doomshaper with 3 heavies) and Protectorate (Feora2 with 2 heavies + Redeemer) in Mk. II represent quite well what Mk. III will be like for most factions: Multiple jacks/beasts but with significant support and troop elements, with an overall army feel and focus close to their faction traits. However as we can't possibly know exactly what units, casters, jacks etc Privateer Press will buff and what they'll leave behind (so to speak), I have decided to buy up the remaining Warcasters I lack at the moment. If time permits I'll have them all assembled in time as well. With a little luck a lot of them will be viable. In Mk. II we see both Skorne, Cryx and Retribution (to an extent) have a handful or more competitively viable casters. I hope and believe Privateer Press can find that golden balance for Cygnar as well in Mk. III.

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