Digging deeper into HC: Faith & Fortune

I’m sure many of you will be aware – especially if you follow my Twitter feed – that I frequently participate in lunchtime gaming shenanigans. I’m blessed in that  my FLGS is less than 10 minutes drive from the office, so it’s easy to duck over, hang out for 45 minutes or so, and then drive back while on my lunch hour. Of course, since it is  only an hour, any gaming shenanigans that are embarked upon must fit into that 45 minute time slot. Joy of joys, a game of High Command fits in nicely.

My most recent LunchCommand game had me pulling out two Faith & Fortune decks. On the one hand, Convergence of Cyriss, thrown together almost on a whim and with no real idea where I was going, since it’s not a faction I’m even remotely familiar with on the tabletop beyond the occasional bout of theorymachine. On the other, Searforge. Okay, it’s a Highborn Covenant deck, but the asture observer will notice that if you separate out the Highborn divisions, three of them are what you’d typically expect in an army leads by Ashlynn, and the other three are all Searforge-legal models. Thus, while it flew a purple flag in the corner, it was a Searforge deck.

My opponent was pal Anthony, who took the Searforge deck, so I was able to look at things through clockwork eyes. The decks were as follows:

Convergence of Cyriss

Axis, the Harmonic Enforcer
Iron Mother Directrix
Iron Father Lucant

Core deck: Divine Equations (4), Clockwork Vessels (4), Vector Forge (4)
Purple Resource: Army of Gears (1), Transfiguration (1), Pervasive Attendants (2), The Great Work (1)
Purple CMD: Transverse Enumerator Core (2), Enigma Foundry Core (1), Attunement Servitor Array (3)
Purple WAR: Corollary (1)
Orange Resource: Army of Gears (1), Transfiguration (1)
Orange CMD: Transverse Enumerator Core (1), Enigma Foundry Core (1), Reciprocators Complement (1), Obstructors Complement (2)
Orange WAR: Assimilator (1), Galvanizer (2), Modulator (2)
Blue Resource: Army of Gears (1), Transfiguration (1)
Blue CMD: Clockwork Angel Squadron (1), Eradicators Complement(2)
Blue WAR: Corollary (2), Diffuser (2), Cypher (1), Inverter (2)

Searforge (Highborn Covenant)

General Ossrum
Gorten Grundback
Durgen Madhammer

Core deck: Supply Yard (4), Safe Haven (4), Llaelese Resistance (4)
Red Resource: Arms Dealer (1), Rhulic Alliance (1), Offensive Push (1)
Red CMD: Ogrun Bodyguard (2), Hammerfall High Shields (2)
Red WAR: Wroughthammer Rockram (3), Ghordson Driller (2)
Blue Resource: Rhulic Alliance (1), Offensive Push (1)
Blue CMD: Hammerfall High Shields (2), Hammerfall War Marshal (3)
Blue WAR: Ghordson Driller (3), Ghordson Basher (2)
Yellow Resource: Rhulic Alliance (1), Offensive Push (1)
Yellow CMD: Orgun Bodyguard (3), Ogrun Assault Corps (2), Hammerfall War Marshal (2)
Yellow WAR: Wroughthammer Rockram (2), Grundback Gunner (1)

The astute among you will have noticed that I’ve already breached the deckbuilding strictures I spelled out in my recent article on starting out with decks, but I’m nothing if not whimsical.

We played our game using the Faith & Fortune location and Winds decks, and after the game was done I pondered how it was a different experience to the other Winds decks et al that I’ve become used to.

Observations on Winds of War:

The most immediate thought is hey! No more inclement weather! Lord knows that’s the most irksome card in the core Winds decks – it always turns up at the worst possible time and says “Hey, you can’t retaliate against your opponent! Muhahaha!”. We do have two Redirections in here, which scupper your plans to rush cards, but you can still at least deploy from hand, so while they’re still impactful they don’t completely mook you if you hadn’t banked cards on the previous turn.

The other major note is that F&F’s game ender, Final Reckoning, works differently to the same card from the core Warmachine or Hordes set. Instead of granting a location capture to anyone who could potentially do so, all players game 2 VP’s for every card they currently have deployed at any location. This can easily mean the difference between victory and defeat, especially if you’re not the first player in a turn and you’d just spammed out light infantry in the hopes of swarming a location. You could theoretically earn a lot more VP’s from this than you would have if you’d captured the location, but at the same time your opponent’s getting a bump as well. I like it.

Observations on the Locations:

The Location deck is largely similar to the core Warmachine Location deck, but there’s a couple of new twists in the mix, most notably Berck, Calbeck, Rhydden and the Gate of Mists. We know a conscious decision was made when the original core sets were designed to have the Locations provide an immediate reward of some sort upon capture, and for Invasion of Sul and Castle of the Keys this was changed to instead impact the battles that were actually taking place at those locations.

Faith & Fortune’s Location deck brings these four locations that instead, reward you for their capture at the end of the game. Rhydden grants you bonus VPs is you’ve managed to get at least three resource and three warrior cards into your Occupying Forces. Berck rewards you for having extra warjack cards in your Reserves at the end of the game. Gate of Mists grants you bonus VPs based on how many warcasters or warlocks one of your opponents used during the game, and Calbeck gives you an extra VP for every other location you manage to capture.

These tie in thematically with the thinking behind the new Day of Reckoning, and can make it a little more difficult for any player to predict how the game will end until you’re much closer to the end of at least the Mid War phase.

Observations on Searforge:

Tough. It may have just been that I was playing Convergence, but I was constantly wondering “Okay, how am I going to put enough Power on the table to kill that thing?”. As I wasn’t playing them I don’t have a huge insight into them, but Durgen’s feat is potentially hilarious, and Gorten’s can cause a huge swing.

With 3 Rhulic Alliance’s in the deck I should have a slightly higher Warjack presence in the deck, but instead the deck is skewed slightly more towards Warriors. That’s entirely on me, but I expect it’ll change as more expansions become available. For now, I like having all the Bokurs in there. Also, there’s only one light warjack in the mix, but we have the capacity to pay for the heavies thanks to Rhulic Alliances. I think I’ll need to sneak in some more low-cost alternatives down the line though.

Observations on Convergence:

I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier time keeping cards in hand. The synergy in these cards is bananas, and rightfully so. Every turn my Corollaries and Enigma Foundries were putting more cards into my hand or back into play on the board, and the Diffuser letting me rush cards from the discard pile just opened up my options every turn, especially as I was drawing down to the bottom of my deck. I  had my four cards in Reserves, I had at least 7 cards in hand every turn, and then I also had access to rushing from discards? Yikes. Maintaining a board presence, even though my squishier things were being terminated with prejudice all over the place, was not difficult at all.

I do need to slot more 3-cost infantry into the deck to maximise the potential of the Enigma Foundry Cores, and more servitors for Pervasive Attendants. As always, these are often the kind of realisations that occur when you play a game and wonder why you were starved for options for one specific combo that hadn’t necessarily occurred to you when  you were deckbuilding.

I’m still somewhat in awe of how fluid my hand was every turn, how open my options were, especially with the Transverse Enumerators making it even cheaper to rush and deploy cards to their locations. Heck, all of those 1-cost Servitors are now free to deploy if you have Enumerators in place.

There’s a lot more depth to be discovered in both of these factions, especially considering the Searforge deck is quite literally ignoring half of the options available to players of the Highborn Covenant, and then there’s more waiting in the Four Star Syndicate and, of course, the Retribution of Scyrah. I’m very much looking forward to the next Faith & Fortune expansion, Engines of Destruction. Bring on my Hyperion! Bring on my Magisters! Bring on Garryth…