I had the full intention of reviewing the four casters I set as my season 4 active duty roster but after spending six months figuring out the new pace and structure of the game, I figure I should share my thoughts on the state of the game as I see them. I’m a Cygnar player and I play at a semi-competitive level. All my opinions are seen through that lens.
The Jack/Beast Meta
Warmahordes iconic image has always been around big stompy monsters and big stompy robots. I’m glad to see they are front and center now. The addition of more jack/beast points, the Power Up and Spirit Bond rules, and generally making jacks/beasts more efficient has made the game more focused on the iconic aspect of the game. I agree with this change wholeheartedly. The game had become so infantry heavy, especially medium based multi wound infantry, to the point that jacks and beasts were just filler.
There are downsides to the new jack/beast focus. Infantry becomes less common so infantry to counter infantry becomes less useful. As a Cygnar player I find my pow 10 infantry staying in the foam as I build a list. No need to take a counter to a non-existent threat or a threat that is easily countered by the jacks I’m already going to take. Single wound low damage infantry has almost no place competitively.
A lot of abilities either became more prevalent or very scarce. Tough showed up on many units. This gives units more survivability. Or it would have if Grievous Wounds and similar abilities hadn’t become so prevalent along with the change to Tough. It is almost as if those don’t have Tough at all. On the other side, Stealth became less naturally common but so did much of the anti stealth abilities. Since stealth is still available as a spell and some units retained stealth, anti stealth abilities value inflated making the solos and caster that can see stealth models a “must take.”
With the release of Mark III the new Journeyman League rules dropped. These rule immediately confused me. I was fine with no alternate battle boxes. It is a new release so it might be a little while before alternate battle boxes are finalized. The weird point scaling? Strict army lists? Best painted? Best sport? I thought Journeymen Leagues were to get new players into the game and teach them not for experienced players to just crush the new players. If Privateer Press was trying to write rules to introduce new players into the system, they utterly failed.
The army restriction rule is especially egregious for favoring the experienced players. Someone who has been playing Mark II and has an understanding of the synergies can easily plan out a list all the way to 75 points. A new player has no idea if their new unit, solo, or warcaster works with their list or even if it is something they’d like to play. Then telling them they are stuck with their choice for the rest of the league. Restricting the list building puts new players on the back foot and doesn’t allow them to adapt.
The rule would work well for a slow growth league aimed at more experienced players. Add a few alternate battle boxes fix the point scaling and you’d have a great start to a league.
The Skorne Issue
I think this is probably the most telling problem from Mark III release. We had a few rules with unclear wording and some models with broken abilities. That is expected from any major release. Some things won’t be caught before they hit a wider audience. The fact that an entire faction need a major rework speaks volumes on the rush that Mark III was released. Internally Privateer Press might felt they were ready for the release but externally, form the point of view a customer and a player, it felt rushed, poorly tested, and released too early.