Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika

Last year, Privateer Press – makers of one of our favorite games, Level 7: Escape – teased us about their impending foray into sci-fi miniature wargaming. Set in the far-flung future of the world we know and love from Warmachine and Hordes, Warcaster unveils the future of a humanity that fled to the stars, found new homes, argued with the locals, and then remembered that warjacks were a super cool concept but now they could go zappity-pew-pew as well as bangity-bang-boom.

You can check out the official page here, and PP Honcho Matt Wilson tossed out some answers to immediate questions in a Privateer Insider, but I thought we could collate some info here for your reading ease/pleasure. I’m totally expecting Matt to show up next GenCon wearing a short that just says “Honcho”, btw. Special tip o’ the hat to Lonelymonk for his compilation assistance.

  • 2 players, 35mm scale, 60-90 minutes per game on a 4’x4′ table.
  • Warcasters are not models on the table, the player is the Warcaster commanding battles from orbit.
  • Players will build a ‘rack’ of cards at the beginning of the game which will consist of the cyphers (spells) they use during the game.
  • ‘Units’ is a term used for any model in a game. A Unit can be a warjack, a solo, or a squad (usually of 3)
  • Each turn you will be moving Arc around the board; assigning it to units or using it to cast ciphers
  • An example benefit was on the Marcher Worlds sniper solo, which gains increased range and damage when it has Arc on it
  • Ciphers are channeled through solos that act as the point of origin
  • Uses the MonPoc/Riot Quest dice (some sort of modifier mechanic has been implied)
  • You can’t win on attrition; units can be teleported back in to the field over the course of the game
  • 20-30 models for an army, but it sounds like half of that (or less) will be on the field at a time, the rest act as a bench to pull from when you want to teleport units into play
  • Warjacks can be customized. Most will have hardpoints for each arm, each shoulder, and their cortex (represented by different heads).
  • Jack kits will come with parts for all possible configurations (magnets for the win)
  • Terrain is greatly simplified from Warmahordes, with broader categories of terrain so players can decide what each piece on their board counts as
  • The game uses alternating activations
  • 3 factions on Kickstarter launch; Iron Star Alliance, Marcher Worlds, and a third faction to be revealed during the Kickstarter.
  • Focusing on human factions first, ‘weirder’ alien factions are planned for later.
  • There will be models that work for multiple factions ala Mercenaries but no Mercenaries faction
  • Kickstarter will launch within the next month with delivery of some models planned for June 2020.

So the game is looking to be well within our comfort zone as Warmachine players, same table size is the same, model count and play time are about the same. Scale’s a little larger, which opens up all sorts of painting opportunities depending on the models. I’m curious for clarification on base sizes, I may need to reach out to Dragonforge once we know what ranges we’re looking at.

I’m torn on the card thing, though I freely acknowledge that I’m not a huge fan of having to build a customized hand/deck of cards with miniature games. It’s a huge part of why I never got fully into Warhammer: Underworlds, and my least favorite aspect of Marvel: Crisis Protocol, which I otherwise love. Oddly enough, I’m all over the custom loot deck for Riot Quest, so I’m clearly a complicated individual. I’ll be curious how big a “rack” is built – half a dozen cards like a Warcaster’s spell list? Or a 30 card deck sort of thing? Time will tell.

The use of the strike dice, which we’re familiar with from Monsterpocalypse and Riot Quest, isn’t a huge surprise, but an interesting choice for Privateer. We’ve seen proprietary dice work beautifully with a number of tabletop miniature games, but it indicates a different approach to determining success/failure than Warmachine’s 2d6+stat system. Whether or not it will be sufficiently granular will depend on the overall ruleset.

Customizable hardpoints for the warjack kits is a very interested feature, and a natural step from the warjacks we know in Warmachine, given that a number of them are essentially different loadouts on the exact same chassis. This does mean I’ll potentially be looking to up my modeling game to include magnets.

The biggest thing for me, personally, will be seeing the additional factions. Three factions at launch (two in the starter, third announced through the Kickstarter) is curious. I would have expected four to attempt to hit a wider array of aesthetic/conceptual preferences, but I get the pressures of marketing and production, especially given that we’re looking at having all three factions available at Lock & Load in June.

We know very little about the two factions announced thus far – the Marcher Worlds and the Iron Star Alliance – aside from the look of some of their models. I’m curious to see more of their ranges, to find out about their backstories, and to see what else we can expect in terms of other factions in Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika.

We’ll find out more in the lead-up to Lock & Load, especially with the Kickstarter set to launch in the next month or so, but suffice to say that Warcaster is generating some significant anticipatory discussion on the interwebs.

Are you aboard the hype train? Are you looking forward to the Marchers or Iron Stars? There’s Privateer Press flavored pew-pew on the horizon, thrillseekers…