Monday, July 23, 2012

Steamroller 2012: 6 months in

Believe it or not, it's been about 6 months since we've had the Steamroller 2012 rules in-hand.  Okay, it's really been more like 7 months, but there were no major events using SR 2012 until the first week of February as everyone was adjusting to the new set of rules, so I figure I can still say it's been 6 months.  So what have we learned in 2012?  How are things different from SR 2011, if anyone can even remember that far back?  There have been some big changes, some of them controversial, but I think that all of them have been for the betterment of the game.  Today I will discuss some of the major changes and speculate on what kinds of changes we could see in SR 2013 based on what I've heard the community saying (no spoilers, though!).  Let's start looking at the 3 biggest changes and how it looks now.

1. Reinforcements
This was probably the biggest addition to SR 2012 - an entire suite of new scenarios and deployment types.  I remember the response to these new scenarios was fairly mixed.  Some were pessimistic and thought that it was some conspiracy for Privateer Press to get players to buy more models.  I mean, now I have to buy 7 more points of models for my 35 point army!?  Woe is me!  Others (such as myself, admittedly) were concerned about warjacks getting 3 free focus points when entering from reinforcements whereas warbeasts could only be forced outside of control.

The reality of these scenarios has been to open up options to players that were previously overlooked for their seeming lack of power.  Suddenly, cavalry models became much more viable with the addition of reinforcements.  Normally fairly expensive, being able to guarantee the arrival of some hard hitting models from the edge of the board from fairly far away (due to their high SPD).  Similarly, some models have had new tactical options opened up to them with the option of entering in from the board edges (the Minuteman, Shadowhorn Satyr).  The downside? 

Since character restriction also applies to these reinforcements, and the random nature of these scenarios being chosen, it sometimes means that having models as reinforcements might never see play if there's no reinforcement scenario chosen.  I've enjoyed a tournament with only reinforcement scenarios played and that was really fun, but I'd actually love to see reinforcements somehow included in more scenarios, or more consistently.  I also think that Outflank, Outfight, Outlast needs to be tweaked as a scenario so it's more like the other scenarios in the book so it's harder to win.

2. Character Restriction
I remember that this had so many people completely up-in-arms when it first was announced.  I remember reading more than a couple of angry blog posts from Cryx and Mercenary players about how this change completely "screwed" them.  In many of the tournaments I had participated, this had already existed as an optional piece, but making it standard for any SR 2012 tournament was a bit of a sore subject at first with many players, until they actually played it.

Here we are, 6 months later, Cryx is still popular at tournaments, Mercenaries are still seen (and can still win), and Khador seems to be alive and well without Kovnik Joe in every list.  Players are actually considering other options, Eiryss has become less ubiquitous, and people are still able to win their games.  I actually believe that character restriction has been one of the best changes for the game and people have actually considered more options and it has diversified tournament play so that you don't see Deathjack or Beast 09 in every Cryx or Khador list you see.  I don't see character restriction going anywhere - it's here to stay - and I think that's a good thing.

3. Accelerated Time Limits
This was admittedly a more minor change, and in my meta we were already playing with 'accelerated' time limits anyway.  This change didn't translate to much but I remember when I first started playing Warmachine/Hordes in tournaments I was really flustered by the time limits and made lots of errors.  I'm sure that some other players felt the same way with the change to these accelerated times as standard.  What has been the impact 6 months later?

People play faster.  Shocking, I know, but stepping up the time limits really did separate and differentiate between good players and great players.  I know, that sounds a bit douchy, but you can also consider that these time limits have also made tournament play move more smoothly and quickly, with Press Gangers able to run more rounds in an event than before - and that's always a good thing!

So here we are, I think the community largely approves of SR 2012, and the sky hasn't fallen.  I think SR 2013 will probably face the same reaction, but what kind of changes do I think we'll see?  I think the community will want to see an expansion of reinforcements - maybe options to add them to pre-existing scenarios?  I would like to see the Outflank, Outfight, Outlast scenario tweaked.  Perhaps we'll see a scenario where army points destroyed will count towards objectives?  What about an official return/update of Stamped and Mangled Metal/Tooth and Claw rules?  I've also seen some events featuring team play and with Privateer Press trying to push their large-scale Unbound games, perhaps we'll see rules for team scenarios?  I'm not talking about the NETT-style of team tournament, but 2v2 matches.  I know that there are easy ways to abuse certain pairings, but perhaps there could be rules that restrict the rules to same-faction pairings so we could see Saeryn + Rhyas on the same tournament table?

This is all speculation of course, but it's based on my own observations from other events and their reactions from the community.  Anything is possible but at the half-way mark of SR 2012 we can see that things have worked out well and probably by November we'll start to hear some rumors and more info about SR 2013.  Either way, I'm sure that Privateer Press will continue to have the best ruleset for tournaments in the world of miniatures gaming.
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