2024 look ahead

New Releases

Other than Exiles, many of the other teasers are from first half of 2023. More recently we’ve heard there will be more work on Warcaster and possible releases by end 2024. Looking at the pace of War Machine releases, it looks like it is slowing down from the frantic pace of 2023, showing some shift in focus back to Warcaster. We know War Budgies has been doing some development through 2023 to get the factions and league ready.

Both Exiles and Lost Legion will release together, and I expect this will coincide with the “Ghost Ship” league and possibly other campaign or scenario packs.

Omens Image

Exiles

Full summary below, but tldr here. We don’t know much other than a name and some references in the thousand worlds book.

  1. “Those Exiled Will Return” is printed in the footer of Omens page, which hints at an ancient enemy of the Empyreans. There are other mysterious references to an unknown darkness at the fringes of the Marcher Worlds, likely also linked to Exiles.
  2. 2 Former Empyrean Aeons (Corebus and Nix), now criminals are both referred to as “Exiled”. It is possible this could mean there are Aeons as part of the Exiles, maybe the Exiles are a coalition of former enemies of the Empyreans.

The main guideline is the ‘Omens’ page, although it is so vague that you can read it however you want. I have heard everything from Dragons to bug aliens to infernals, but I am thinking a coalition of previously unseen races chased away by Empyrean’s genocidal expansion across the galaxy. This may include former Aeons and possibly even the remnants of the Mechanist Assembly who fled from humanity after a few centuries of atrocities. The fact that they are ancient means their background might not reflect their current forms regardless.

Lost Legion

Below is the best summary on Lost Legion. We have concept art and some ideas of gameplay, so a bit more than we’ve heard about the exiles. Basically they are Robots designed by the Marchers and lost a few hundred years ago. They carry weapons similar to Marchers but suitably older. Their key gameplay features are

  • Battle Network gives them benefits for being near each other. They will make a powerful ‘deathball’ in one spot, but might struggle to move between objectives.
  • They don’t have standard Weavers, instead they use Light Warjacks to arc furies.

Scenarios & Campaigns

As noted in the above post, there is also a “Ghost Ship” league in the works, a narrative campaign through 6 scenarios. The Ghost Ship sounds like it could fit what we know of Exiles and Lost Legion, so may be a themed campaign about their arrival in the galaxy.

There is also a (now quite old) announcement of a campaign book and neutral monster concept art. I think the Gen Con Void Wraith campaign was a prototype for this – including some campaign rules and the Void Wraith ‘monsters’. However they also seemed a little cruder than I would have expected. If they were prototypes for the campaign pack, it at least shows they are still in the works.

Source for Neutral Monsters and campaign book

Status of Warcaster

Warcaster is a game with huge potential – a unique recursion mechanic that keeps the game going to the end and makes it act like an Real Time Strategy game, and an extremely simple ruleset that nonetheless allows deep decisions. However, it also had the worst possible luck with release timing – with COVID forcing widespread lockdowns during the kickstarter leading to plenty pulling their orders, and a year-two of rolling infections to stop people playing. It lost the opportunity to get momentum in it’s vital first 2 years, and was put on hold last year to focus on War Machine’s ambitious rerelease. All the issues seem to be behind us (fingers crossed), and PP now have some more time for Warcaster. We know things are in progress, hopefully some behind the scenes stuff is happening over first half of 2024 to get it ready for a second half rerelease.

With a bit more focus from PP, and some new releases, the game can really draw the crowd it deserves

What I’d like to see

If I could choose how PP’s limited hours were spent, here’s what I’d like from them in order

#1 Reprint the existing line of models

Many core models have gone out of stock over the last year, and PP have made metal & resin molds ‘legacy’. Until the existing models are re-engineered and restocked, it is difficult to expand the game to new players. PP noted they would make resin-printed Warcaster models, however no clear timing. To me this is priority #1. The models were all designed in digital formats, although need some rework to get them printable efficiently.

The War Machine Mk4 resin printed models are phenomenal quality, especially the Warjacks with pre-drilled magnet holes and lighter weapons. There is such a satisfying click when you swap weapons 🙂 Warcaster in printed resin would be a big upgrade from the metal weapons we have now, and I expect many veterans will be rebuying their warjacks. This would also be a great opportunity to promote the line and give the game a ‘soft rerelease’ for those who missed out the first time.

#2 Balance Update

For a “first edition” game, Warcaster came out remarkably well balanced. The 4 factions are pretty much at parity, and within each faction most models are compelling. However, there are a few gaps in internal balance, especially from the first waves. It feels like they really hit their stride with the model rules in Cadres and 3rd wave, putting some really ‘out there’ ideas together. However some of the earlier models feel a bit flat by comparison. There are also a couple of cadre models that could do with a power nudge. Suggestions

  • Antecessor Eternals are the one that feels well above the curve, and do everything a bit too well. They can fly a long way, hit with high mat / rat and pow, 3 attacks, move again, reactivate at will, and have multiple HP, with higher DC being the only real downside (equivalent to any other squad with a UA). All this is aided by some of the highest stats and best special rules available to a squad. If I were building an Empyrean list, I’d have trouble not taking Antecessors for every squad (other than some paragons to enable cadre), and that feels like it could do with a few tweaks.
  • Divine Tempest: A great model, strong but mostly balanced by some downsides. However, Recurrent Apotheosis gets around the summoning restrictions a bit too well. It also feels a bit much to summon a DT at will and immediately activate it. I’d suggest Recurrent Apotheosis change to only summon a small or medium solo, or specifically exclude DT.
  • Vassal Witch Hunters: Probably the least loved squad in the game: have the downsides of a heavy weapon squad, but carry a weapon with battle rifle stats, and their role as riflemen is covered by Raiders. Knocking Cyphers off is rarely something needed by AC, and covered by a Scourge gun. I’d like to see a more exciting weapon, possibly something that makes them more powerful against models with arc (extra power dice for each arc on the target), or multi-shots (spray, strafe, blast).
  • All Vassals & Sabers: the charges and spikes could be unique between them, as both feel a little ‘unfinished’ and eclipsed by the cadres. Currently they are the same troops carrying different weapons, and unique abilities could give a clearer role to each. Rangers and Paladins also feel a little less developed than later squads, but less so than Vassals and Sabers (which may also reflect how great the AC and Empyrean cadres are).
  • Paladin Commander: feels like he should be stronger in combat, as command interface alone isn’t enough to make the experienced warrior’s presence felt. Could be Arm4 and weapon expert (with a different Charge).
  • Storm Vulture: a little behind the curve compared to the other champions, and relatively vulnerable. His niche seems to be a strong gun, flight and great maneuvers, however the whole faction is strong guns and maneuverability so doesn’t really stand out. An extra rule on the Howitzer might help, Stun Module (Suppressing Fire?) or lockdown would be interesting to add to Marchers.
  • Vehicles in general: They have a role and are exciting, but most feel a bit too vulnerable with a big base and no cover. A little more def or hp could help here, or more specialty terrain / scenarios to encourage them.

This is a relatively short list that most people would support minor tweaks to. They are less about hitting the power between factions and more about giving all models in each faction a role and place to shine. It sounds like this is on PP’s radar, which is positive, and may come at the same time as Exiles and Lost Legion release.

#3 Minor releases for existing factions

Personally I’m happy if the current factions are ‘finished’, without expecting any major releases of the size of the first few waves. Having said that, I think some new heroes would be fun to keep things fresh. Even some new hero warjacks, or wild card squads to mix things up.

I would also love to see the original squads (Paladins, Rangers, Vassals, Sabers) have Champions release to convert them into Cadres. Each has 3 squads and a support solo (if you pretend the Paladin Weaver and Siegebreaker do not say Paladin on them), and this would encourage us to take the whole range instead of focussing on a few favourites. This would be a great opportunity to have centrepiece models – eg an 80mm warjack cross temple hacked together in secret by the mad vassals. Some big based (50mm) hero champions could also be interesting.

So there is a lot to look forward to, and also a lot of potential for Warcaster to come. What are you most looking forward to? What else would you like to see?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Bob Munsil

    I think Warcaster needs an app like Warmachine got with fourth edition.

  2. Dustin

    I sure hope things actually come out this year. They have said “next year” for the past 2 years with nothing to show for it. I know Wamachine is the priority but they could throw Warcaster a bone.

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