Sunday, August 22, 2010

From 40k to Warmachine: Scenarios

I'm going to assume that some of my readers are checking out this blog out of morbid curiosity. Even if that's not the case, I'm going to look for some personal benefit by sitting down and cataloging the differences between 40k and Warmachine as I transition between the two.

In fairness, there are a lot of differences between the two, so this will be one of a few articles.

So, we'll start with some of the basics: scenarios. What is your goal in the game?

A Basic Difference
In 40k, there are three types of scenario, and three deployment types making in total nine different games you can play. In comparison, Warmachine has a half-dozen scenarios that differ only in terms of objectives.

What's the big difference? Well, part of it's a scale thing, but 40k starts on a 4x6 table with deployment along the 6" edges, whereas Warmachine does a 4x4 setup. There are always two win-conditions for Warmachine/Hordes:

1) Kill the Opposing Caster
2) Control the Territory
-Break The line (divide the non-dz territory into six squares; control two on your side and one on opponent's)
-Killing Field (three points across the middile; gain a point when holding it at the end of a turn, score 7 to win)
-Mosh Pit (fight over a 16" wide circle in the middile)
-No Man's Land (8" strip across the middle)
-Throw Down (10" wide circles, one on either flank)

Mangled Metal/Fang and Claw are the exception; it requires a specialized build with a caster and beasts/jacks only; win condition is assassination or the destruction of all opposing beasts/casters.

Generally, the objectives don't matter until turn 3 (the Control Points in Killing Field start counting on turn 2).

Warhammer 40k
There are three scenarios:
1) Seize Ground
-place d3+2 objectives, cannot be w/in 12" of a table edge or each other
2) Capture and Control
-each player places an objective in their deployment zone
3) Annihilation
-kill the other guy. Book rule is KP; 1 unit/vehicle dead = 1 KP; this is the subject of much debate.
-Alternatively, add up Victory Points.

Now, an important note: in 40k, the 'objective' is loosely defined; it's just something both sides agree on. Personally, I've seen folks use a 40mm base as a marker, and you just have to have a Troop unit w/in 3" of it at the end of the game.

That aside, the objectives are fluid in the game, and so is the deployment zone: either it's table quarters with a limit on distance to the middle; a strip across either side, or the ever-wonky Dawn of War, which makes everyone reserves-heavy and makes people want to bring transports.

What Do the Differences Mean? Aggression
Well, in case you haven't read page 5 of the Warmachine book, the short version is 'crush thy opponent's trachea, for failing that he/she shall in turn surely crusheth yours." The objectives mean that you WILL clash in the middle, one way or the other. Flanks will either be the source of objectives, OR you will possibly sneak something in to smash your opponent on the flank.

40k matches with objectives often feature a 'home' objective, either because you deployed it deep in your deployment zone because you rolled Capture and Control, or because you're close enough to one in Seize Ground to just push forward a little and get it.

What's that mean? In 40k, part of your army si just fine with sitting on the objective, either by virtue of having some long-ranged contribution to the fight (IE: 20 Guardsmen with a pair of autocannons, or a squad of scout sniper marines) or being cheap enough to not CARE about sitting there (10 Termagants sitting there with Fleshborers are 50 points of 'eh' that can still win you the game by doing nothing more than sitting in range of a Synapse creature and going to ground...).

Either way, you're still going to likely scrum for objectives, EXCEPT in a pure 'kill the other guy' scenario. Now, both game systems have forces capable of slow, steady advances and rapid, more precise applications of force and so on and so forth. There's shooty and there's assaulty-oriented armies (though in fairness, Warmachine DOES tend to like brawling a bit more than shooting) and neglecting one aspect in favor of the other can still screw you over.

Still, from what I've seen Warmachine games are generally more aggressive and often end up in close quarters, excluding abject shooty armies that are fortunate enough to annhilate the enemy before they close (...because an enemy in melee can still be shot at, but +4 DEF is huge in that game...)

A Time Difference
One thing that's driven me towards Warmachine in lieu of 40k is that it's an admittedly quicker-playing game.

How so? Barring tabling your enemy (which CAN happen, but isn't a regular occurrence unless one person screws up royally), your win-condition in 40k is ending the game in possession of the objectives. Games end on turn 5, 6, or 7. 33% of games end on turn 5, 33% end on turn 6, and 33% end on turn 7. Your goal is to have the objectives at the appointed time, and some games are close enough to of course make that 'appointed time' very, very important.

But, on turns 1-4? You're fine without having bodies on the objective. Lots of players camp a unit on them, or near them (the aforementioned sniper squads or cheap troops) but it's just as possible to move troops BACK into position around turn 5 with judicious planning.

Bottom line? You've got a minimum play time set.

Warmachine ALSO has a minimum play time: 2 turns. Why? Unless you're really new or have a bad, bad brain fart against an enemy with long range, you probably won't get your HQ killed on turn one. However, it's possible to make/exploit an opening as soon as turn two and win via assassination, instead of objectives. Some armies can play for objectives, some plan for assassination, and some do both. The bottom line is that at a minimum, you have to play to not lose the objectives.

But, the time factor. Secure the objective or kill the caster? Instant end of the game.

Bright side? You're not stucking for an hour or two playing out a lopsided game that you've screwed up, and if you have bad dice then it ends sooner.

Down side? ...not as much forgiveness. Some mistakes you can come back from in time with 40k; some you can't. In Warmachine/Hordes, a few mistakes can help the opponent kill you or win the scenario out from under you. (I maaay be a little guilty of being on both sides of that).

But, you can also get back to another game. In the time it takes me to play a reasonably-social game of 40k at 2,000 points, I can get in 3 games of WarmaHordes at around a 35pt level (which is mid-range for a game; enough that you can start fleshing out support).

Another speed factor is simply army size:
Seriously, a 2,000-point Guard army probably has 60-80 infantry and 5-10 vehicles; even a 2,000 point mech-marine army has something like 3 APCs, 3 heavy tanks, 3 skimmers, and potentially 3 walkers and still another 30-40 infantry.

A large horde army in Warmachine might be 40-50 figures at 50 points (I think Terminus lists can pull this off, just because he loves cheap troops to eat bullets for him). On the low end while still being competitive, I can bring about 15 figures or so in a Mortenebra list (the equivalent of running tank-heavy, since the list is like 6-7 warjacks and a handful of support figures).

WarmaHordes scenarios encourage out-and-out brawling, and the games terminate immediately on completion of your objectives (either kill the enemy HQ* or hold the requisite territory). 40k games usually involve taking territory, but it's entirely possible to ignore the objectives for most of the game.

If you're coming to Warmachine from 40k, just be ready to go for the throat in a hurry, and know that you can win or lose the game in a turn.

*Ok, so some folks are probably asking 'why is killing the other general that big a deal?' In 40k, some armies can probably operate just fine without the specific HQ choice in the fluff; Tyranids have multiple links to the Hive Mind and most everyone else probably has this thing called a 'chain of command' that tells them what to do when Captain Space-Bob pulls his terminator helmet off and promptly eats a krak missile and dies.

In WarmaHordes, the warcasters/warlocks have an empathic connection with their heavyweight units to go along with spellcasting skill. On incapacitation, Warjacks tend to shutdown from psychic feedback/loss of fine direction, and the warbeasts under their control tend to go wild. Additionally, individuals with this talent don't grow on trees, so it's in their side's interest to recover them for treatment if at all possible. If you're Cryx, then you may yet want to recover the body and resurrect them, which has happened...ask Denegrha how it worked out.

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