A couple of years ago, the Council of Thirteen foisted the Drop Bears upon me, thus forcing me to play the one faction I (at least publicly) despised – the filthy Morrowans that dwell within the borders of Cygnar. At Templecon 2014, after two years of planning and coordination, my dear friend and podcast co-host Northblade suddenly found himself the owner of a specially selected group of Menites, assembled under the name of Project: Clock Spider.
What’s this got to do with anything? I guess you could say it was my…
That’s right, Losties, it’s time for a whole new book full of shenanigans and mayhem. We’ve had models sneaking out of its pages for a while now, but we’re finally getting our hands on the latest supplement for our favourite tabletop miniatures wargame.
Warmachine: Vengeance picks up after the events of Warmachine: Colossals and Hordes: Gargantuans. With Point Bourne in ruins, Cygnar and Khador have formed an uneasy alliance to deal with the Cryxian horde that has exploded from underneath the Thornwood; The Skorne are beseiging Ios, while Everblight’s legions and the druids of the Circle Orboros are hot in pursuit of an Athanc being smuggled across borders on its way to Toruk. Dire thingdss are happening all over the Iron Kingdoms, and innocents are being caught in the crossfire. I’m going to try *really hard* not to spoil anything from the fiction, but I make no promises…
What do you do when you’re assaulted by an enormous, flying Lich Lord?
You pony the heck up.
Following the usual expansion format from Privateer Press, Warmachine: Vengeance comes with new toys for each of the core factions in Warmachine. New warcasters stride forth for Cygnar, Protectorate, Khador, Cryx and Retribution. New warjacks and units for every faction, including new warjacks of renown, Imperatus, the Ghordson Earthbreaker and Tactical Arcanist Corps for the Rhulfolk, and the novice warcasters that were originally revealed as part of the Warmachine: Tactics Kickstarter. These new solos, each capable of controlling their own battlegroup in a manner previously only available to Cygnar with their Journeymen, bring a whole new dimension to what players will be able to achieve with their warjacks.
Possibly the most significant changes will be wrought by the new warcasters themselves.
- Lord General Coleman Stryker‘s alpha strike potential is almost unparalleled, as befitting Cygnar’s champion mounted on steed with electric barding. Seriously, it has glowy bits.
- Servath Reznik, Wrath of Ages, is only the second Warcaster/Warlock in the game on a huge base, and brings fiery doom on a huge (hah!)scale the enemies of the Protectorate.
- Kommander Zoktavir, The Butcher Unleashed, is the first Warmachine Warcaster unit. Ignore the fact that his unit is made up of creatures normally seen as Warbeasts, instead consider that this is a violent monstrosity of a man, recognized as one of the most dangerous models in the game, and now consider that he has Vengeance.
- Goreshade, Lord of Ruin, may be rivaling Sorscha Kratikoff with his potential to turn opposing lines into frozen troopsicles. Mastering the sword of the Iosan Winter god Nyssor has amplified Goreshade’s abilities, and now he rides out on a twisted steed, a nightmare incarnate. That’s speaking from personal experience – Will Schick thwomped be with him at Templecon 2014 😉
- To suggest that I’m excited about Issyria, Sibyl of Dawn, is something of an understatement. No, she’s not on a horse, or a chariot, and she doesn’t come with any pet warbeasts… rather, she’s the very first 100% support warcaster in the game. Even Dominar Rasheth has damage potential through offensive spells; Issyria has quite literally nothing in her arsenal that can harm an opposing model… instead, she has a suite of abilities that push the boundaries of what her warjacks and infantry can do beyond anything previously experienced by Retribution players. Hide yo’ daughters of the flame, Hide yo’ … actually, don’t bother. She can find you, no matter where you hide…
Wait, what if you’re a fluff junky like me? What if the main appeal isn’t new rules, but rather, new backstory? First, let me remind you that a lot of balls were left in the air at the end of Colossals. Second, let me just hit a few quick reminder points and a couple of teasers for you:
- Strakhov abandoned his troops to dive into the Cryxian cave network in search of Karchev. But the Cryxians didn’t make those caves in the first place, did they…
- The Butcher has in his possession a badly wounded Marcus Brisbane, and wants answers about this supposed Khador/Cygnar alliance. Also, didn’t Sorscha leave him for dead?
- While everyone was having a big party in the Thornwood, Venethrax, Terminus and Malathrax were sneaking around with the purloined Athanc. Wonder how far they can get without being spotted…
- Goreshade’s goals have long been to bring about the deaths of the Iosan pantheon. Is Nyssor’s recovery by the Retribution of Scyrah truly a setback, or is it playing into his hands? Ever wonder who helped Goreshade become Eldritch in the first place?
- And all this time, I wonder just what’s happening with Asheth Magnus and the bastard son of the deposed Cygnaran monarch, Vinter Raelthorne?
We wouldn’t be fluff junkies if we werent’ also excited by the prospect of five new theme forces in Warmachine: Vengeance either! Each of the new warcasters brings with them a new set of tiers to challenge, guide, and generally help us make thematic armies. For the purposes of today’s review, a quick gander at Lord General Coleman Stryker’s Riders on the Storm.
This theme force emphasizes speed. Every allowed warjack is SPD5 or higher, every allowed unit is SPD8 or more. The only allowable models not mounted or a machine are the Stormblade Captain and the Gun Mage Captain Adept, and I suspect those allowances are only there to provide potential future room for a Tempest Blazer solo, or another mounted Storm Knight beyond the ever-awesome Major Katherine Laddermore.
To reach tier 4 in this theme is ridiculously easy – Kathy, 2+ Warjacks, and 2+ units of Cavalry – and suddenly you’ve got first turn pathfinder, all of your warjacks are SPD 7 or 8 on the first turn (inc. that Stormwall) and all of the cavalry units have a reduced point cost.
Given that Stryker’s feat is very conducive to obliterating infantry by means of cavalry charges, the payoffs for adhering to the theme are significant, and there’s a fair to middling chance I’ll be testing it out with the Drop Bears…
Speaking of all the ponies, what if you’re not a fluff bunny, not a rules nut, but your interest in the game is as a hobbyist? Aside from enjoying all of the new models available in Vengeance, is there anything in the book for you? You bet yer bippy. … … What the heck is a bippy, anyway?
While in the past I’ve often somewhat glossed over the painting guide section of an expansion, I was very impressed by Vengeance – not only for the the quality of the models therein, but also for the detail and model selection.
- There are no less than 30 (!) step-by-step close-ups to assist in your painting of Issyria, Sibyl of Dawn, covering every aspect of the model over three and a half pages of detailed tutorial.
- The Ghordson Earthbreaker focuses on the application of weathering effects annd battle damage that aren’t representative of rust and corrosion. Rhulfolk take care of their machinery, remember.
- This sealed the deal for me – not only do we have rundowns specific to painting horse eyes and wet blending their fur, we actually have – possibly for the first time, and hence appealing to the fluff bunny in me – a distinctive guide to the visual differences between horse breeds of Khador, Cygnar and the Protectorate. This isn’t to say that you won’t find them mixed and matched, and we’ve always known that Uhlans ride enormous destriers and the like, but to have it simply codified for painting purposes (and again, I’ll note that painting outside of studio schemes is par for the course) makes me a happy fluff bunny.
Warmachine: Vengeance collects the rules for a number if model releases over the past several months in one volume, provides five new theme forces to test your listbuilding abilities, and contains fiction advancing the major story points of the Warmachine universe. Also, it leaves you wondering exactly how to pronounce “Grolar”. It releases this month on March 19th, and will be available in Menoth-fearing FLGS’s worldwide. You want it on your bookshelf.