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WARMACHINE: Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks – 5 Common Missteps

5 Minute Read
Aug 11 2010

Heya! Today, I’d like to dispel five of the most common misconceptions about Mk II. These are either hold over habits from Warmachmine Mk I, things that changed between the Mk II Field Test and the final release of Mk II, or just popular myths.

5.) Knockdown/Stationary Effects aren’t useless due to Shake Effects:

I hear many players bemoan the “uselessness” of knockdown/stationary effects, particularly those with wide areas of effect (e.g. – Kreoss1 and Sorcha1’s feats), because “shake effects make them moot”.

There are several things to consider here – Shake Effects do mitigate these effects against Warcasters/Warlocks and their battlegroups in terms of activation denial; you’re still more than able to take advantage of a model’s lowered DEF the turn you make them stationary. “Pop’n’drop” is still a perfectly effective technique, albeit one that’s considered a bit old hat.

Some other considerations: Not every model has access to Shake Effects. Infantry models and marshalled warjacks still have ineffectual turns after either KD’ed or made stationary. Moreover, models taking advantage of Shake Effects still need to spend Focus/Fury to use Shake Effects.

While KD/Stationary may not be the tools of assassination AND denial they once were, I feel their stock is severely undervalued in the current meta-game.

4.) Rough Terrain doesn’t stop a Charge/Slam; Linear Obstacles do:

Perhaps this is a problem specific to my meta-game, but remember: all models can charge/slam across rough terrain but suffer the half-movement rate penalty. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone look at a charge and say “Oh crap, he’s in terrain and I don’t have Pathfinder” despite clearly having the charge distance necessary to get into melee. Don’t let this happen to you!

Likewise, I’ve often heard people say “Charging over linear obstacles costs you an inch of your charge”. Incorrect, per Warmachine: Prime p.87 – unless you have Pathfinder (or appropriate other special rule), you cannot charge over obstacles.

If you find yourself bored with having just forests/hills in your Warmachine/Hordes games, try mixing in some walls greater than 1″ in height (the Warhammer Fantasy Fence/Wall kit works exceptionally well for this purpose). Aside from granting cover, I’ve found its added an extra layer of tacticality to my games (as well as a new-found appreciation of the terrain rules).

3.) AOEs aren’t especially effective at killing infantry hordes:

Gone are the days of the auto-include Mortars; in are the days of auto-include Nyss Hunters (or other unit with Combined Ranged Attack). The reason for this are two fold:

a.) The new unit formation rules allow models to spread out far enough to severely limit the effectiveness of even 4″ AOEs (you can nigh guarantee an AOE will only catch one model).

b.) The elimination of the Screening bonus and reduction of special rules that prevent shooting (e.g. – Invisibility) make direct shooting much more attractive.

Given that direct shooting units typically have RATs in the range of 5-6 and average warrior models range in DEF from 12-14; having range attacking models reliably (I guage this as needing a total of 5 on 2D6) hit enemy models typically requires 2 man CRAs. For instance, 2 man (well… elf in this instance) Nyss Hunter CRAs are effectively RAT 8 POW 12 sans the aiming bonus. This will kill troopers in Shield Wall a good percentage of the time and reliably destroy swathes of infantry (or forces them to deploy in a manner than minimizes their melee effectiveness).

Add in the versatility of CRAs to be used against targets with either extremely high ARM or DEF and its hard not to include a unit or two with CRA.

2.) Sprays are amazing:

Since Stealth is now one of the better (and most common) defensive mechanics in the game, having models that can mitigate this advantage are of special utility. Enter spray attacks.

Not only do sprays ignore stealth, cover, and concealment, they also ignore the -4 penalty for shooting a model engaged in melee. On top of that, by their very nature, sprays can target multiple enemy models at the same time. This gives great versatility to these models, letting them either play a role in infantry clearance or attacking models taking advantage of terrain-granted defensive bonuses.

When looking for a model with sprays, look for an attack score of 7 or higher, a unit with sprays and a low cost (e.g. – Protectorate Cleansers or Winter Guard + UA), or boostable sprays (e.g – Legion of Everblight Warbeast, Grundback Blasters). Also, keep their desired role in mind: Stealth hunting (best served by solos with strong defensive mechanics or warjacks/warbeasts), infantry clearance (best served by models/units with large number of sprays), or a hybrid.

(He probably has Line of Sight to you. Also: the munchies)

1.) Attacking models in based entirely on Line-of-Sight:

One of the most commonly confused rules changes from the Mk I to Mk II split has to be the shift from a 2D game with 3D models to a truly 3D game.

Line-of-Sight (LoS henceforth) is now based entirely on a model’s volume – if you can draw a line from any portion of Model A’s volume (in its volume’s front arc) to any portion of Model’s B volume (without passing over terrain, a model of equal or greater base size to Model B, or an LoS blocking feature such as cloud effects) – then Model A can see Model B.

In plain english: If a straight line can be drawn from any part of the front arc of you model’s base to any portion of another model’s base without going through LoS blocking terrain, cloud effects, or a model of equal or less size – you can attack assuming you meet the range requirements of the attack.

This leads to odd siutations. For instance, its intuitive to assume a model with Reach must be able to draw a 2″ line from its base to its another models, without crossing the base of another model, in order to attack it in melee (i.e. – you have to have a “unobstructed line of attack”, as a local player calls it). To give a specific example:


Let’s assume a group of Mechanithralls have all but surrounded your Templar warjack. The Mechanithralls’ commanding warcaster is within 2″ of the Templar, but the only portion of its base within 2″ of the Templar can’t have a line drawn to it from the Templar without crossing a McThrall’s base. That said, a line can be drawn from the side of the Templar’s base to the back of the warcaster’s base without crossing a Mcthrall’s base. The question is: Can the Templar attack the warcaster or does it need to kill some Mechanithralls first?
In Mk I, the answer would be the latter; however, in Mk II, its the former. The only requirements for making melee attacks are having the target within range (in the above example: check) and having LoS (in the above example: check). See pg. 50 in Warmachine: Prime, paragraph 6 in the left column.

How many of these have you been guilty of, even after 6 months under Mk II? What other hold overs from Mk I do you see in your group? People still lining troops up in perfect lines for Shield Wall? Forgetting about Shake Effects? Let’s hear it!

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