Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steamroller 2012 - Predictions

Having spent some time with the new Steamroller 2012 rules (in their final beta), I have developed some thoughts about what we will see in the tournament scene in 2012.  As usual, Templecon will be the major testbed for these new scenarios and rules, and will be expected to be the biggest Warmachine/Hordes tournament in the country, with Lock and Load being the only exception.  Additionally, I've heard rumors of Steamroller coming to the Penny Arcade Expo in Boston (PAX East) in the near future.  So what can we expect to see on the tables, and what do I predict we will see?

1) Warjacks/Warbeasts
With time being crunched even more in 2012 and with the destructible interactive objectives, I predict that we will see fewer infantry and more warjacks/warbeasts on the table.  While Mk II has really encouraged people to take more Warjacks/Warbeasts anyway, what we have seen a lot of on the tables are infantry spammy lists, like the Goreshade v. Butcher showdown with Bane Thrall and Doom Reaver spam, respectively.  Since character restriction won't prevent lists like this from happening, perhaps the shortened turns shall.  With only 37 minutes on a 35 point deathclock, that means that having so many infantry models on the table becomes a liability.  You had better hope that you can move all of those bodies quickly or win the game quickly or else you'll be running out of time.  Consequently, I think that we will be seeing many more warjack/warbeast heavy forces on the table with less infantry spam.  I would expect to see lots of Legion, Cryx (Mortenebra), and probably Cygnar on the tables.  Cygnar typically takes lots of infantry, but ranged armies like Cygnar will have more of an advantage then usual because they can aim and spend less time moving models.  Expect to see others, too, but I think those three will see lots of play.

2) Battle Engines Similar to the reason above and because they will soon all see release, I think that Battle Engines will start to see some play in SR 2012.  The various Battle Engines have trickled onto the tables in the past few months since the first ones were released this last spring/summer.  Since then, we have not seen them much on the tournament tables for various reasons, but I think we will start seeing them on the tournament tables in 2012.  Again, since time will become more important, these pieces provide a large footprint like a full infantry unit, but can't be trampled and are often quite efficient at what they do.  Consequently, I think that we will be seeing them more and more on the tables.  In particular, I think that the Cygnar and Khador battle engines will see a lot of play for their efficiency and simplicity, and the Retribution battle engine will likely see some play because of it's awesome fire support.  For Hordes, we likely won't see any of the battle engines in top tournaments for some time, as they are slowly being released and need some more practice.  Additionally, it's a tough call for Hordes because warlocks need beasts to fuel their magic, and battle engines are lots of points that are not being spent on warbeasts.  I would expect to see the Legion battle engine see some play since it's just that good, but I still think that it's a tough call for them.  You can be guaranteed to see some Trollkin battle engines on the table, as they are a faction with typically low-fury warlocks with high-fury warbeasts, so they don't have to worry so much about fury generation from their

3) Warcaster/Warlock Variety
Maybe we'll see Rhyas more on the table?
With character restriction standard, you can expect to see some (but not a lot) more variety from the Warmachine factions, as they have more characters than in Hordes.  This doesn't mean that we'll be seeing Zerkova on the table all of the time, but it does mean that the Winter Guard Death Star will only appear in one list, and Beast 09 won't be seen with every warcaster.  Similarly, this means that Darragh Wraith or Bane Lord Tartarus won't be seen in every list, and it actually forces players to make choices about where these models are needed most.  We are bound to see some variety in the selection of warcasters/warlocks in these tournaments because of character restriction, but I think because of the time limits too.  Perhaps I'm exaggerating the time limit issue, but I seriously think that denial/attrition casters will see more play in 2012 in tournaments because they will force their opponents to spend more time thinking about their turns and adjusting their plans, while you spend less time on your turn.  While you are technically required to run your deathclock whenever you are rolling, most players don't force you to do so if you are making tough roll (although they should).  Even if they do catch that, you are still forcing them to change their plans if you get a particularly fortunate tough roll... yeah, we've all been there.

4) Trolls
Perhaps I'm being biased here, since I am starting this faction, but I really think that Trolls will see much more play in 2012.  Combining all of my predictions above, you should come to this obvious conclusion.  With shorter time limits and Trolls being such an attrition-based army, I can see them climbing up in the tournament ranks.  Like I just mentioned, being tough means that your opponent has to constantly re-evaluate what they're doing, chewing up valuable time.  Trolls also typically have fewer models on the table and some really hearty beasts to outlast the opponent as well as hitting very hard.  Similarly, their synergy is fairly simple to use with their support models, requiring fewer rolls and their brick-y nature allows them to be in range of their desired abilities almost constantly.  Trolls will be able to navigate the warjack/warbeast-heavy environment that I predict in 2012 while still having lots of infantry.  Granted, this is contingent on the meta that develops in 2012 but the writing that I see on the wall suggests that Trolls might start to creep up in the rankings.  Will they win a Masters title?  Probably not.  I do think that they will do better than they did in 2011, however.

Granted, these are just my personal predictions, so don't read them as gospel.  They are based on what limited experience I have had with SR2012 and there's still a full year of new releases to consider into the equation as well.  I am probably also overstating the time issue and I think that shortly after Templecon, everyone will have adjusted to the new limits in time for 2013 to shorten it even more.  I guess that's what is so exciting about the Steamroller format, though, and we'll see how the meta develops!

Also, I will have some exciting news to share in the next couple of days, so be sure to stay tuned!
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