Friday, December 23, 2011

Warmachine the Way I See It: Warcasters

[This article is part of the Warmachine the Way I See It series.]

Well, here goes nothing.  This will be the first real article of my Warmachine the Way I See It series.  I'm diving into the world of Warmachine and taking a noob's look at the rules and strategy of Warmachine.  First, let me preface that a lot of the frame of reference I will view things from comes from the fact that I am starting a Protectorate of Menoth army.  This may mean that, in addition to my inexperience, my frame of reference might be fairly narrow.  Sorry for that in advance. Remember, this series of articles is from the perspective of an extremely new player and learner of the game.  I am using the blog as my sounding board and relying on the comments of readers to help me out by lending their sagely advice when I hit the wall or have a misunderstanding.  Hopefully, by the end of this, we will have organically create a pretty neat intro to Warmachine for those looking to get into the hobby.

So, I've decided to begin my journey of understanding with warcasters, or casters for short.  From my perspective, casters are the core mechanic of the game. In most cases, if you lose your caster, you are done.  In larger games, you can take multiple casters, but ultimately, if you lose them, your army becomes severely hampered if not completely crippled.  Aside from our 'jacks' need of a warcaster to operate in most cases, casters provide focus. So, in the end, though winning requires bashing the brains of your opponents' armies out with steam powered engines of death, the purpose of casters and the unique and powerful dynamic aspect that Warmachine brings to tabletop gaming is focus.

Focus is your caster's ability to control warjacks and cast and upkeep spells.  It can be used to enhance your warjacks' abilities whether in how they attack, how much they attack, or how hard they attack. **I do have a question. If you have a jack with a single attack on one arm, can you expend more than one point of focus to give it additional attacks past 1 additional attack?  I know that ranged weapons can only fire up to their ROF in a single activation, but what about melee attacks?  Could I give a jack a full 3 points of focus to give him 4 attacks on a single arm?  Let me know.**

You caster also has spells that affect your army and your opponents'.  They can be defensive or offensive buffs, damage dealing spells, or debuffs. 

All this said, focus is ultimately resource management which in turn means that the main purpose of a warcaster is to bring resources to your army so that, if it's managed properly, can allow you to dominate your opponent and bring you victory.  The main challenge of focus is how to best utilize the focus to aid your army overcome a wide array of challenges.  This also means that it is wise to build armies that synergize well so that using focus is easier and lends itself to a more balanced overall strategy for your army.  Just like 40k, you want an army that can take on all comers, so list building is quite a big deal.  In turn, the warcaster you choose to lead your army will have a huge bearing on how you play your army and thus achieve victory.  It's all pretty important and affects how an army works.  A pKreoss army plays differently than a Harbinger army even though they are from the same faction. 

That said, I am reasonably certain that an army can play and win without using any focus, but it would be remarkably hard and would require an amazing amount of strategic savvy-ness that I don't possess.  So, focus makes the world go 'round, thus your caster is a hugely important part of your army and should be treated as such.  You have to know how your caster works and how to implement them.  You have to know when to strike out with them and when to protect them.  This makes me think that Warmachine has quite a strong relationship to chess as your caster is your king and you can't lose him/her for any reason. 

Focus aids your army and having focus to dole out is great, but quantity isn't always the most important piece of the puzzle.  Sure it gives your caster a greater control area for your jacks and allows them to cast/upkeep more spells, but again, it's all about resource management.  You could have a focus of 10 like the Harbinger, but play it poorly and lose.  It is all about quality management.

*pKreoss image courtesy of Battle College.

Other Warmachine articles:
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1 comment:

Bryce963 said...

In response to your question, yes you can buy as many attacks as you have focus that are in melee.

ROF limits the additional attacks that you can make with a ranged weapon. Additional melee attacks can be purchased until you run out of focus, after your initial attacks, or charge attack.

The only limit is focus.

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