Monday, 27 August 2012

Privateer Press: Journeyman League

Big catch up blog alert!

5 weeks ago or so I signed up to a local Journeyman league.  There's quite a few local players of Privateer Press's Warmachine and Hordes games and this league is designed to introduce new players, encourage players to start new forces, play games and paint.

Its a standard format that Privateer support, not sure if there's any prizes, but we do get little icons and stars and stuff as we achieve various goals throughout the league.  I'm only a week away from the end now but thought I'd show some minis and reflect on how things have gone (plus I have a different blog post in mind for next week).

My Wrastler - first PP mini I built and painted

The first thing I had to do was decide which of the many forces in the game I wanted to play.  Warmachine and Hordes are set in the same world and share a set of common rules.  Warmachine deals largely with human factions of Warcasters and their Warjacks (magical steampunk mechs).  Hordes deals with a more varied set of races focused around Warlocks and their Warbeasts (giant animals and monsters).  I had a long and hard look at at everything both games had to offer and narrowed the choice down to about 3.  I may come back to these other close run forces in future, but for now I went with the Hordes based Minions faction.

My Ironback Spitter, a grumpy old turtle
Minions are an interesting choice.  They are largely ally units that other Horde (and to a more limited degree Warmachine) forces can draw upon to increase the variety in their units.  Within the book however is the option to base a force entirely on Minion units, with certain limitations, and go to war in their own right.  The two flavours of Minions are Gators and Pigs - and generally never the two shall mix.  I loved the look of the Gators and, PP claim you should play the figures you like, so my choice was made.

The Tango-ghost!  My feralgeist isn't the typical green colour...
So having made a choice I needed to understand how to play, what I needed to buy to join the league and how things would progress.  For most forces in the game there is a starter battle box, a nice £30ish get you up and running set made of plastic.  Typically this contains a Warcaster or Warlock and 2-3 Warjacks or Warbeasts.  There's 3 forces in the game that this isn't an option for, I picked one of them, typical!

My Gatorman Posse, possibly the best thing in my force

So talking to my local store owner Rob and looking over the league rules, despite there not being a box, there was a recommended starting force I should pick up.  This consists of Bloody Barnabas a fairly solid melee Warlock, a Wrastler (Mexican luchador inspired giant alligator) and an Ironback Spitter (giant spitting turtle).  A bit of online research on PP's own forums confirmed this was a good start so off I went.

The terrible trio
Now the plan with the league is that as the weeks progress so does the size of your force.  To start with things are a little unbalanced as the battle boxes aren't 100% the same points value or balanced, but they are pretty close (certainly better than a few other companies I could think of).  It also means that the core of your force is likely to be with you the entire length of the league unless you've already got a large selection of stuff sitting at home (in which case the league isn't really for you some would say).  For minions especially the battle box is a very solid start, there's a good chance at least 2 out of the 3 figures would be in any game I ever play.

With my little warband I played my first two games, a loss and a win in short order.  Very quickly it became apparent that Warmachine forces could not be dealt with on equal terms, my minions would have to use all of the dirty fighting tricks I could 'wrastle' up.

15 points of meanness
So after week 1 we moved to 15 points.  My battlebox came in at 11 points (each warlock and warcaster grants bonus points that can only be spent on warbeasts and warjacks to encourage more big nasties on the field) so I had 4 extra points of stuff to find.  Again internet research tempted by local experts (Mark, Pat and Bryan) suggested that a Bullsnapper (another alligator yay) was a good choice having a key ability that would improve my force.  Sadly 5 weeks in my Bullsnapper model still hasn't arrived so I am using my Bushido dragon (its the right base size) to fill in for now.

This left me with enough room to squeeze something small in.  I went for a feralgeist, it can bring my dead warbeasts back to unlife briefly to give something a good kick and has one or two other possible uses as well.  I only managed one game at this points level and it was a convincing defeat - again warmachine forces proving a real challenge to me.

25 points, even more gators
The next level of escalation was 25 points and this would last 2 weeks.  The second week would allow you to swap more things around should I wish to, but I was happy to stick with what I had to try and get to grips with it more.  I added a Gatorman Posse to my force, a really hard hitting infantry unit.  I dropped the feralgeist (yes he snuck in the photo but I didn't use him) and took a Croak Hunter too (little frog dude fits in nicely with all the other swampy creatures I feel).  At this level I had more success, beating both a hordes and a warmachine player.  In both cases the Gatormen were really stars and I am pleased they work so well, are nice models and one of the key reasons I chose Minions.

The whole gang at 35 points
The final level of the league is 35 points so to round things off I added Wrong Eye and Snapjaw.  This pair are a mini warlock and his pet warbeast and great figures to boot.  I also get to sneak the feralgeist back into the force legally now!  My first game at this level didn't go great, some mistakes with Snapjaw and once again the fires of Pat's Menoth causing me no end of trouble.  I have one more game to go so I'll see if I can put in a decent final performance.

I hate these things
Overall I feel I am very much still learning the game.  Like Malifaux there's a huge amount of active decisions in any turn and the warlocks and warcasters each player brings really changes how an otherwise identical force plays.  This can mean there's a lot of questions at the start of a game - I've seen a few cases of "I didn't know that was even possible" followed by horrible losses so I prefer to know what's coming even if I can't figure out how to get around it yet!

The end of the league means I get time to finish painting what I have and think about how I might expand my choices further.  I haven't actually finished any bases yet (I'm playing with swampy effects) and have only used Barnabas, there's 2 other legal warlocks I could use without really needing to change the rest of my force so they would be easy ways to get a lot more variety into my games without having to paint or pay for lots more.

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