Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m coming to realize that I don’t like playing Legion. Gasp! Lies, calumny, slander! Eh, not really.
What it comes down to is play style. I enjoy having lots of options, being able to play assassination, attrition, or scenario, and being able to survive past turn three if I have to. Legion, at least within the bounds of the Journeyman League, doesn’t offer me that. I missed out on creating a custom battle box, and that might have changed things (like eight points of Shredders), but I still think I would have burned out eventually. My problem is how dependent I am on my heavy warbeasts; if I lose even one of them it makes the game exponentially harder, and if I lose both I need a miracle. I grant you that miracles have happened and do happen, but I’d rather the game come down to my skill rather than my dice. So what I did last night was play one game with my Legion force and then two games where I had a fun little thought experiment: How would the League have gone if I had played Protectorate instead of Legion?
Game 1: Legion (pLylyth) vs. Cygnar (pStryker)
Plan: Form two strike groups of a heavy warbeast and two Shredders and send them to counter the two heavy warjacks Sarah brought, then use the Forsaken, full unit of Blighted Nyss Archers, and Lylyth (along with whatever warbeasts survived) to pull off an assassination against Stryker in the middle.
Results: Less than spectacular. The Carnivean I sent after Sarah’s Ironclad and Lancer died after doing some respectable damage, and the Shredders attached to him managed to stick around for several turns, but the Field Mechaniks she had swarming behind the ‘jacks nullified anything I managed to accomplish. Meanwhile the Ravagore strike group did little more than take out the Black 13th before succumbing to a full unit of Arcane Tempest Gun Mages rolling marvelously with Critical: Brutal Damage ammunition. Lylyth was left without Fury, without warbeasts, and ultimately without a chance.
Result: Cygnar win by assassination
At this point I decided to mix things up with the aforementioned thought experiment. I started with, “what battle box would I have built had I stuck with Protectorate and known about the custom boxes?” The answer I came up with was Thyra and three light warjacks (Dervish, Revenger, Vigilant). For yesterday’s 35-point iteration I added Blood of Martyrs; two units of Daughters of the Flame; a minimum Choir of Menoth; Nicia, Tear of Vengeance; a Vassal of Menoth; and a Vassal Mechanik.
Game 2: Protectorate (Thyra) vs. Minions (Calaban)
I’ve played Jon and his Calaban army before at much lower point levels, and I’ve been able to manage it with my Legion army, so I was excited to see how Thyra would fare. This ended up meaning “How many shenanigans can I pull off?” and I was happy for it. Some of the highlights included a fully-focus-loaded Blood of Martyrs using Side Step to walk down a rank of Gatormen Posse, picking each one off as he passed and Nicia getting so far into the backfield that Calaban spent two turns facing his own deployment zone so she couldn’t get off a back-arc charge. By the end of the game he had managed to kill off just about all of my ‘jacks save the Vigilant, who was out of position, and had a Blackhide Wrastler in Thyra’s face while Calaban sat in a brick. Then the Wrastler missed its attacks on Thyra and Jon realized I had Acrobatics (Ignores intervening models for charges and movement, immune to free strikes). Thyra proceeded to take her six focus, charge Calaban through the Wrastler, and unleash eight Weapon Master stabs of fury.
Result: Protectorate win by assassination
Game 3: Protectorate (Thyra) vs. Retribution (Ravyn)
Remember Jeremy? Well, he’s learned his lesson: Don’t rely on dice to win. Apparently he also learned the main lesson Legion has to teach, and that’s “throw out the rulebook.” Ravyn was backed up by a full unit of Mage Hunters with unit attachment, a Mage Hunter Assassin, two Ghost Snipers, epic Eiryss, and Narn. None of these models give a rat’s buttocks about cover, concealment, or line of sight. So even though there was a marvelous terrain piece blocking line of sight and covering Thyra, along with a ‘jack brick, Thyra took something like sixteen shots to the face. It was one of my fastest losses to date.
Result: Retribution win by assassination
Along the way I realized that I had more fun losing with the Protectorate than I’ve had winning with Legion, and that struck me powerfully. So after this League’s over next Sunday, I’m going back to Protectorate, and while I might dally now and again with Legion for a little variety, religious zealotry is where it’s at for me.
And now for something completely different!
I got started gaming with Dungeons & Dragons, edition 3.5. I tried 4th Edition but it didn’t satisfy; I’ve tried Hackmaster and had my mind numbed by the hours of dice rolling — and that was character creation. I’ve even crossed over to tabletop wargaming, and while I enjoy that greatly it’s just not quite the same. So I came home. I picked up Pathfinder.
I haven’t played Pathfinder yet, so I can’t give any indication of how I enjoy it, but reading the rulebook makes me very, very confident. It’s everything I loved about D&D 3.5 with just the slightest tweaks to make it so much better. Prestige classes are actually in the player’s books, for one thing. Different spellcasting classes, and even different schools of magic, have real and immediate impacts on building the character. Skills are simplified, but not to the extreme degree that 4th Edition attempted and failed. Combat is simplified, but retains the essential role-playing quality that 4th Edition lost with its emphasis on powers. Multi-classing has been made more straightforward, but you don’t feel the need to take several classes just to get a particular set of abilities. And that’s just the Core Rulebook — that’s just the stuff that Wizards of the Coast had already published! The Advanced Player’s Guide shows Paizo’s real creative skill with new classes, new variants for the core classes, new spells, new feats, and all the rest. What struck me, though, is that none of it seems to have fallen victim to either the power creep or the ridiculous recycling that D&D fell victim to in its later books; I can’t imagine, for example, that Paizo will publish anything so out of character as Magic of Incarnum, nor do I feel that a Summoner or Inquisitor is any more powerful than a Sorcerer or Paladin.
Since this game system has so caught my attention, I’m trying to get a game started. If you live in or around Glen Burnie, MD, I’m going to start advertising at Games & Stuff for a campaign I’m writing, Keepers of the Peace. A quick synopsis and a growing Wiki of background information is available at the campaign’s Obsidian Portal page. If you are interested, please feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Obsidian Portal campaign and ask me there.