Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Warmachine - Steamroller 2011 First Impressions
The 2011 Steamroller draft has been floating around for a while now, and we've been playing some test games with it for the past couple weeks. There will probably be some changes before it hits the streets officially, but until then it's what we've got so here's a quick rundown of what to expect on the Steamroller battlefields of the next year.
First and foremost, this is a much longer document than the 2010 packet, which was primarily scenarios. A lot of concepts have been codified into their own sections and the rules governing them fleshed out. For example, the 'Dice Down' concept in 2010 was a boldface term under the general heading "the Clock"; in the 2011 document it has its own section with more detailed rules.
One notable change in the main rules is that it is now assumed that control zones, if any, will be marked with an appropriately-sized template, or, if this isn't possible, then the zone should be marked by its corners or center, and players may measure the zone at any time to check scenario conditions. In my experience, I've found that control zones are rarely an issue, I always declare my intention that a model is in zone, since it's all too common for models to get jostled around and end up slightly off from their positions. And you can always ask your opponent what his intention is when there's a question about whether a model is in a zone or not. I do know that there has been some discussion about this; whether clearly marking control zones was a good thing or a bad thing. I've heard both sides; that marking the zone makes it too easy to play for it and removes skill from the equation; and, on the other hand, that unmarked zones are a detriment to less-experienced players. I'm in the latter camp; a player's skill should manifest in their tactics, maneuvers, and use of their army, not in gaming a greater ability with spacial relationships, so I'm all for this change.
There are now sixteen scenarios, compared to last year's ten, broken into four categories of four scenarios each: Center, Dual, Distant, and Radial. Further, the 2011 rules packet recommends that no scenario be repeated in a tournament, where it was previously the T.O.'s discretion. Finally, assuming a four-round event, expect to see a spread of scenarios, one from each of the four new categories. This sounds very cool; I like the idea of seeing a variety of objectives over the course of the day. I think it will also diminish the power of casters like eDeneghra, eKrueger, and Gorten Grundback to have more to do in the scenarios than the usual 'control the geometric shape in the center' goal.
All of the mission special rules and rules for controlling zones, flags, objectives, etc., have all been organized into a single section. In essence, these are now 'generic special rules' that apply to any scenario that uses them. Rules for tiebreakers have been similarly codified, though they are are basically the same.
In my local tournaments we had been using a staggered deployment zone concept that saw the player taking the first turn getting a deployment zone of 8", and the player taking the second turn getting 12". In 2011, all the scenarios (except the Radial ones) have 8" for the first player, and 10" for the second player.
Scoring of control points has also been moved back. Points can be scored starting on the second player's second turn now, instead of the second player's first turn. Control points can still be scored on both player's turns, as before.
The four new categories of missions include both old and new concepts. The 'Center' scenarios include, as you may expect, control zones in the center of the battlefield. These operate much like they did in 2010. This category also includes Killbox, which has been reduced in size to 12" from the table edge (sorry, focus/FURY 5 casters!); and a new one that has three zones, a player scores by holding the center or their opponent's zone, and cannot score if their opponent contests their zone.
The 'Dual' scenarios all include two objectives or control zones along the centerline and include classics like Process of Elimination, and a couple new ones using flags instead of control zones. Pretty straightforward stuff here.
The 'Distant' scenarios have some new things to try out, including a scenario where players must move objectives into a control zone to score points; a destruction-style scenario where the second objective only appears after the first has been destroyed; and even the Gauntlet, a holdover from 2010. As can be inferred from the category title, a player's objectives in these missions are near his opponent's side of the board.
Finally, the big curveball (literally) (ish) of the new season are the 'Radial' scenarios. All of these scenarios feature round, table-corner deployment zones that extend quite far onto the battlefield. In some cases, AD elements of an army could be close to 16" away from each other before anyone takes their turn. These all have control points as the primary objective, but to score points in one zone, a player has to be contesting another zone somewhere else! These look to be very difficult and very interesting. One of these also includes a very rare instance of the scenario applying a game effect!
I'm very much looking forward to more test games of SR2011, and getting a chance to test them for real on the tournament tables later this month. I hope this has been informative, and that it has piqued your interest in what this year's tournament scene has in store!
Corners deployment!? Grind-style missions!? The sky must be falling somewhere! What do you guys think of the new stuff? Will you be hitting the tournament scene more this year? Less? For the first time? Let's hear it!