This article will - as the first of a few - deal with the new Steamroller 2013 paket. As I currently have no playing experience with it, my statements are based on the old 2012 "worldview" - so you'll have to bear with me. That aside, I'm glad it is finally here. So these are my preliminary observations and conclusions:
Things I noticed at first glance:
- Dice down now doesn't simply end the game midrolls and whatever, you get to finish the movement you were making, and in case you were making an attack, and it hit, you get to finish it, too. Also, end-of-turn effects are resolved. (I don't know whether it was dealt with the same way beforehand, but this is the first time I'm seeing it. Regarding the latter, I thought there was no final scoring since the game was already over)
- Objectives are now contested when within 2", instead of last year's 4". Now that's a big one in my book, but I'll have to play the scenarios to figure out the details. Also, they can only be dominated, not controlled (which isn't that big of a fact, since you had to have your caster close in enough to an uncontested objective in 2012 to use it, which is essentially the same situation).
- The already known fact that 'Casters/'Locks can no longer contest/camp the objective to deny a scenario win. I've never had that happen to me, but I can see the possible ridiculousness that's finally avoided.
- The 3rd Tiebreaker now concerns all models, not only those within the zones (their points are doubled - but nonetheless). That would've invalidate some Tiebreak-victories I saw last year.
- Apparently, they ousted that fleeing models would count towards victory points. Good, that was nonsense. Too bad they stuck with hamstringing 'Jack/'Beast heavy armies through the free giveaway points from inert jacks/wild beasts. I know it's not as severe as that, but this one still has me crying for justice.
The particular scenarios:
- Destruction: Well hello there - do we know each other? That is not the Destruction I used to know. I like the added factor of the control zone, and having all those monoliths so close together really helps melee armies. And the "inexorable" rule keeps you from ousting both in the same turn. And there's a lot of stuff to dominate.
- Supply and Demand: A-ha, they changed the radius of the effect to 2" as well. And it denies dominating the zone, so you're enticed to wreck it. Interestingly enough, though, it is not really necessary - the 12" diameter zone should allow any 6 (or less) FOC warlock to dominate the zone even with it around. (I'm wondering if any pDenny player will lose a game due to feating, and allowing his opponent to dominate) This one looks a lot better than before.
- Close Quarters: Looks pretty much the same, AFAIR the centres of the old zones were at the same spots. The fact that you contest while within 4", however, is a boost to Gorten in my eyes, who can push four 8", and then kill the last remaining dudes to dominate.
- Ammunition Run: So the explosive potential of objectives dropped to POW 12 - nice, and sensible. The RNG increase is... interesting, to say the least, but so far not exactly something to write home about. I guess it'll matter the most on models that already have a long range. What's most interesting is the zone/objective set-up in this case.
- Incursion: Curse you for staying the same! Ok, actually, that's not such a bad thing. But I find TOs to be "defaulting" to this scenario, so I was hoping for some shake-ups.
- Chemical Reaction: Interesting name (will make for a few puns), and we have a wholly new objective - which lets me notice, first of all, that the different objectives now also have differing ARM values - this one has 18 (the Ammo Run one has 15(!)) and makes your Warcaster/Lock immune to continous effects. Certain casters will hate that thing. It's also one of those scenarios (like the old Incoming) were you can easily score first by controlling something on your side.
- Outflank: Appears they decide to ventilate good ol' triple-O so only "Outflank" is left. Maybe it's just me, but it appears they drew the zone apart a little further, but I'd have to doublecheck that.
- Incoming: Speak of the devil... well, the objective at least is a lot more sensible than its last incarnation - and with its placement on the board, light artillery could even reach it on Turn 1 (by running). However, due to the same fact, you won't be going after both the boosted artillery and the easy points, since both trigger off dominating (at the end of the second player's second turn).
- Into the Breach: Stylish name, simple game! You'll be scoring two CP max in this scenario (while playing with one caster, of course) per turn, and it doesn't matter whether you're dominating the zone or just holding it and dominating the flag. This is as close to a non-scenario as it gets, I think.
- Rally Point: Ha, so this is how Guidons ended up. That is, by far, the toughest objective around, it turns your models into casters for scoring purposes, and can be relocated (even though less easily than before) - that opens up a can of dominations. I think that, once this gets going, there will be less assassinations here than anywhere else.
- Process of Elimination: I don't know who of you watched the latest M&tM, but I had the idea of enemy objectives in scoring zones before I saw this. It's the old PoE - it's just that you're not going to score unless you knock over the monoliths (in addition to the enemy models). I do think that the zones shrunk, too, AFAIR they were 14" long before.
- Fire Support: Another Artillery Emplacement scenario - but in this one... I'm not seeing much artillery benefits unless you like running for two turns (or play Sorscha Xp's alternate Tier - now that could really hurt!). I'm not seeing much difference to Incoming! yet.
- Character restrictions got tighter - they now also affect epic characters. So no having pEiryss in one and Eiryss Xp in the other list. Not that it affects me, but that is kinda severe.
- Death Clock and Chess Clock got meshed together - probably because people kept misusing the term. Now, when playing the Chess Clock, you're playing till the bitter end. And deployment now also counts against your time - and that's massive. And ONLY judges can pause chess clocks now. So you better be down with the rules!
- The Reinforcements artifice now automatically comes with the flank deployment!
My first impressions are as follows: I like the packet, and it gives me some incentive to pick up gaming again. The scenarios, especially the troublesome ones from before, got better - safe for the bore-out that is Incursion. It'll bee interesting to see which casters work best in this environment - those that can play upfield can get to dominate, but they might fall prey to casters that can assassinate very well. Then again, all the new power that is given to jamming (i.e. running sth up to the enemy to keep him in place) gives strength to control casters on both sides, especially the usual suspects: Harbinger, Old Witch, Deneghra Xp, Haley Xp.
My main question is: Outside of Sorscha Xp and desperate pacing WGI, and certain Tier Lists, how do I get something equally as jammy? Kossites might work, but they only arrive on Turn 2, and Eliminators are only two. Doom Reavers (esp. under Vlad Xp2) are an option, but they die easily. Still, those guys could provide me with all the answers I want.
Besides that conundrum, I reckon that both Zerkova and Harkevich are suitable choices for SR '13, being able (or required) to play far forward, and staying safe there (at least for a while). I'd give extra props to Lady Z here since she combines that fact with a denial feat.
Any statements beyond those made above are pure speculation, what I need next is raw data/experience. Time to pack the bag, and get ready to roll. 2013 is finally upon us, and what will also come in this series is a more in-depth look at the scenarios (after I get to play them).
Until then, farewell.