Who’s The Boss has been an entertaining format for, well, since the days when I first starter playing Warmachine and Hordes. You build your list, but you have no idea who your warcaster or warlock is going to be. It could yield some truly horrendous pairings, but it’s fun. Thunderdome brings three warlocks/warcasters together, with no warjacks, warbeasts or infantry, and you have an 8-player smashfest. Again, some utterly borked combinations, but it’s fun. Alternate formats like these aren’t meant to provide a well-balanced competitive arena, they’re actively mean to be silly and full of shenanigans. That, dear reader, is why when Privateer posted that ‘Caster Draft decks were available through DriveThruRPG, I hit the checkout button.
After a short period of time, a box manifested itself on my doorstep, and my mind percolated over the idea of a four player mini-tournament in the Gdaycave. The only question was… what sort of warcaster would I make? The default faction choice is obviously Protectorate, but considering that I think a generally balanced list is the way to go since we don’t know in advance where our warcaster’s talents are going to lie, the choice of whether to try to draft someone who’s shooty, stabby or zappy is a thing. Are we building a super solo or a support ‘caster? Offensive or defensive? Time for a test draft!
The deck comes with eight 10-card draft packs. The idea is that each player will take two of the eight packs, and choose which one they will use first, and which second. Once you’ve drafted six cards from the first, the remaining four are discarded, and you draw a second six from the the second pack. The full rules are available here – Link!.
- Every spell or ability you draft, you get.
- Every stat you draft, you get cumulatively.
- You can have a maximum of two weapons, be they ranged or melee, in any combination.
- You can have one feat. Don’t be greedy.
Your starting ‘caster has a pretty basic stat line, a sword, a pistol. You get Arcane Bolt as a basic zot spell, and Cast Iron for one round of +3 ARM as a feat. Beyond that, it’s in the cards…
Now, I didn’t have three of my gamer buds handy, so I decided to try a draft solo. With the packs face-down I could remove a card at random from each pack each round to represent cards picked by other players. It’s not a perfect system since there’s no coherent thought going into the picks, but it’ll do for fudging. Mmm fudge…
I separated out the packs and considered my first choice. I had an array of options, but it occurred to me that grabbing a good stat boost would be critical. Having all the spells in the world, the best gun, the best sword – if you can’t effectively use them, then the utility is questionable. I’ve always been fond of magic in Warmachine, and lord knows a decent Focus stat is key to running warjacks and to reducing damage via your power field, so a +1 FOC/FUR card was my first choice. From there it seemed like I was somehow aiming to give the Protectorate a dedicated sniper warcaster…
SPD 6 :: STR 6 :: MAT 6 :: RAT 10 :: DEF 15 :: ARM 16 :: CMD 8 :: FOC 8
Two +2 RATs, two +1 FOCs, and a single +1 ARM. If we get caught in melee, I’m toast, but if I can draft a decent ranged weapon… at RAT 10 even the basic boostable POW 12 pistol can be a thing, but thankfully I was able to draft something with a bit more oomph.
SWORD – RNG 0.5, POW 3, P+S 9
SPITFIRE – RNG 14, ROF 1, POW 12, Magical Weapon, Weapon Master
So my warcaster is spit useless in melee, but at range? Boostable POW 12 Weaponmaster shot being aimed with RAT 10? That’s a heck of a boomstick. Of course, there’s always the potential for an enemy model to simple hide behind Stealth or Smoke, except…
TRUE SIGHT – Ignores cloud effects and stealth
RESOURCEFUL – Upkeep spells on the battlegroup without spending Focus
As my sniper was building, I knew I’d need True Sight, so I snaffled it the moment I saw the opportunity. It was a no-brainer. Resourceful was an early pick, and to be honest, I didn’t score multiple battlegroup-friendly Upkeeps, so I may have opted for something else if I did it again. Stealth/Parry was one of the very last cards I saw, and I knew it would be essential for keeping me safe from ranged attacks, and for backing out of any melee situations that I somehow managed to survive the initial contact from.
ARCANE BOLT – COST 2 RNG 12 POW 11
DARK GUIDANCE – COST 4 RNG Self AOE Ctrl – While in the caster’s control area, friendlies roll an additional dice on melee attacks
IRON FLESH – COST 2 RNG 6 Upkeep – Target friendly model/unit gets +2 ARM and ignores blast damage
We all start with Arcane Bolt, it’s a generic zot. Dark Guidance will boost the melee potential of everything within 16″ thanks to the increased control area, and Iron Flesh… is the only upkeep spell I ended up with. It’s solid, and will take advantage of Resourceful, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be cast on my Warcaster and then just upkept for the remainder of the game. I feel very squishy.
FEAT: THE VANISHING – Friendlies in my control area gain Stealth and cannot be charged or slammed for one round.
This is one of my favourite feats in the game. Kaelyssa normally carries it. Used properly it can completely blunt either a ranged or melee assault for one round, letting you reposition or giving you one extra round of shooting to whittle the edge off of your opponent’s line. It forces your opponent to put their plans on hold for a turn while you get extra CP’s, run into position, or just generally interfere with their messing up your hair.
In the end I think the mock draft made for a a pretty idealized warcaster, with the exception of possibly switching Resourceful for something else. with FOC 8 I can afford to upkeep Iron Flesh, and the offensive bonus of that much Focus in term of giving me a more accurate magic attack is somewhat undercut by the only offensive spell being Arcane Bolt. Defensive abilities support the unboosted DEF/ARM (well, ARM got +1…), and as long as I’m willing to play cautiously with my Warcaster behind the lines, sniping through the legs of its warjacks, I think I’d do okay with this.
And yes, I acknowledge that my “Protectorate” Warcaster has a Cygnaran or Iosan feel… I mean, I do own models for those factions…