Thursday, October 23, 2014

PP hates melee infantry

Over the course of the last six books (Wrath, Colossals, Vengeance, Domination, Gargantuans, and Exigence) PP has demonstrated a desire to move away from melee infantry.  Medium based multi-wound infantry is popular...but without this shift against small based models the preference still leans away from them.

The changes to anti-infantry start with the shift against infantry swarms by enhancing warbeasts and warjacks (warnouns). Infantry swarms are more cost efficient and deliver their force over a larger area than a warnoun.  Infantry does not depend on a caster's fury/focus. Infantry's special abilities are always available.

The first development to rein in the infantry swarm was in moving from MKI to MKII and the introduction of trample.  An excellent start and an awesome new manner to rein in infantry swarms.
This expanded into more guns and spells with AOE, Strafe, Combined Range Attack, and ROF of 2+.  Regrettably this also included an arms race of higher POW which began to spell the end.  We have to remember that POW12 , while weak against warnouns , threatens casters and is almost universally deadly to small based infantry.  The heaviest armored infantry can reach 20 ARM - approximately 41% likely to survive a POW 12 gun.  The scarcity of ARM 20 infantry is something well appreciated outside feat turns and stacked buffs.

In Wrath the Battle Engines were introduced.  The game demonstrated the reason Jacks were popular - Batle Engines were large, had their own tactical limitations, and tactically easier to adapt to.  Cygnar brought a good POW, Range (as they are wont to do), and a sound ROF that proved capable of removing 2d3+2 infantry (averaging 5) reliably.  Khador brought range, large AOE, and board control.  The Protectorate got range, their ever-present fire, and a push ability.  The Retribution has a good rate of fire and relative resistance to infantry. Cryx, the infantry heavy faction, got a model with good board control that proved counterbalanced by its size and the number of infantry on the field.  Warjacks brought Thresher, AOE, and Spray templates to bear while infantry introduced Assault and Acrobatic.  Domination brought more beasts with anti infantry abilities in sprays, Electro Leap, and anti-magic abilities...the Skorne got Skornergy (I prefer Skonenfreunde to describe the gameplay dissonance but it never stuck.)  More AOE, trample, Electro Leap, continuous Corrosion AOE, and the Animantrax...Apparently PP doesn't like Skorne.

Colossals and Gargantuans took a risk in the huge based models that would become centerpieces of armies...or could. That's more a rant for the hobby side.  Casters got further enhancements to their ability to get out of swarms of infantry with things like Warpath, Flashing Blade, and Carnage.  The Colossals/Gargantuans came into play - with a super-thresher of Sweep (Which the Kraken won with 4" reach), Covering Fire, AOE, Creeping Barrage, Rapid Fire, and more Sprays these titans presented a new and interesting turn against infantry.  More multi wound infantry came into play and caster feats got a new lease on life.  As the saying goes "Those that have, get."

Vengeance and Exigence...well, Damn.  The new Minion battle engines are designed to remove swathes of infantry.  The new casters all reinforce the weaknesses of small based infantry. PP did the one thing they promised - release more awesome models.

The issue at hand is this also obliviates the function of small based melee infantry.  I specify this because there are several strong small based ranged units with the ability to stay relevant.  Small based melee infantry like the Manhunter, Kyazy, Knights Exemplar or Errant, and Sam MacHorne's Devil Dogs are on the decline.

Where does this go from here? One faction lives and dies on its melee infantry while others are bolstered by it.  With the increase in anti-infantry there is less need to field infantry to counter infantry.  Infantry is harder on game balance, but what to do with the infantry-centric factions?
One postulation is that a complete rebalance is in order - modify stats slightly and start anew.  I don't like that position. I'd love to see things turned on their ear.  The infantry swarm armies get solos to bring new traits to units - UA to create immunity to certain effects at a premium.

Then again I would like to see less of the same Haley/Asphyxious/Severious/Butcher/Makeda/Vayl/Kruger hit the table.



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