WM MkIV Rules_Beta



Mk IV Cards


MKIV rules feature a number of changes intended to streamline, simplify, and speed up play in WARMACHINE. These range from changes to how units move and function to simplifications for stats, power attacks, and terrain. We have also added a number of exciting new elements, like warjack customization, Command Cards, and warcaster Rack options.

Many of these changes may be familiar to you from other products we have released. We had already begun discussions on MKIV even while wrapping Mk III, and a lot of our forward-reaching ideas informed the design of our games since then. As you read the list of changes below, a number of similarities will be obvious. The removal of facing, smaller-unit sizes with more manageable movement rules, the streamlining of AOE attacks and sprays, and the simplification of the terrain rules were all evolutions we have previously integrated in other games, but they grew out of our discussions on the future development of WARMACHINE.

Changes from WARMACHINE MkIII to MKIV include:

  • Removal of Facing: One of the biggest changes in MKIV is the removal of facing and all the fiddly model positioning that go with it. The removal of facing has greatly reduced the cognitive load required for the careful placement of models. Models now see in 360 degrees. It also eases the ability to achieve proper placement and base contact with even the most dynamic of sculpts.
  • Removal of Free Strikes: Along with the removal of model facing, we also removed free strikes from the game. Rather than pausing the active player’s turn for an attack resolution when an engaged model leaves an enemy model’s melee range, now the moving model must simply forfeit its Combat Action that activation. It also prevents some of the fiddly measurements during movement as you attempt to skirt threat ranges, as with the new rule; if you didn’t start your movement engaged, you will be unaffected by the rule.

Furthermore, we not only removed free strikes from the game but also most of the capacity to attack out of turn. While some out-of-turn attacks remain, more complex special rules allowing for slams or charges have been removed completely. This enabled us to further speed up play by omitting clunky rules interactions while allowing us to greatly simplify some aspects of the rules.

  • Simplification of Unit Rules: Obviously, one of our goals with MKIV was to speed up the overall play of the game. We have long seen unit activations, with their independently measured movement of each individual model, be a drag on the pace of play. To that end, we reduced the size of units and streamlined their internal interactions. We removed command ranges, unit leaders, and formation completely. When a unit activates in MKIV, during its Normal Movement, you choose one model to advance and the other models in the unit are placed within 2 ̋ of that model after the movement is completed. When a unit charges, you move just one model, then the other models in the unit are placed within 2 ̋ of that model and charge attacks are based on which models the initial charging model is engaging.

Although the reduced unit sizes somewhat affected the damage output and capability of those models, the changes to their movement and rules interactions have given units a very different role in the game. Units now move like quicksilver; they are hard to pin down and make great use of their numerical superiority.

  • AOEs and Spray Attacks Have Been Simplified: Both AOE and spray attacks have been made simpler and faster to resolve. This is one of the places where we pioneered new rules for other games while looking ahead to MKIV. We had long found WARMACHINE’s reliance on templates to be inexact and cumbersome. Templates slow play, and their precise positioning can give even the most careful eye and steady hands fits. With that in mind, we have sought to eliminate the use of templates from the game wherever possible, especially in attack resolution.

Neither sprays nor AOEs now rely on templates for their resolution. As with Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika, a spray attack is now a simple straight line drawn from the attacking model out to the full range of the attack. An attack roll is made to determine if each model touched by the spray is hit.

Each AOE attack has a value that determines on a direct hit how many models in addition to the target will be hit and suffer blast damage. This number also determines the maximum range in inches models can be away from the target and still suffer blast damage. On a miss, the target alone automatically suffers blast damage but no other effects from the AOE. The rules no longer require the randomized placement of deviating templates on a missed attack.

Additionally, rather than halving the damage value of the attack to determine blast damage, a secondary parenthetical number is provided that indicates the power of the blast damage.

  • Warjack and Warbeast Customization: We have introduced warjack and warbeast customization to the game. This has enabled us to produce smaller numbers of warjack chassis but with head and weapon options that allow for a broad array of tailoring and specialization for your preferred army and tactics. Each option has a cost associated with it, giving players broad flexibility to fit these models into their armies.
  • Racked Spells: New MKIV warcasters have both assigned spells and Rack options. The spells assigned to these warcasters can be thought of as their “signature spells” that no other warcasters in their army will have access to. Rack spells are selected from options available to every warcaster in the army, and every new army has ten Rack spell options available to it. Rack options further allow a player to tailor their warcaster to their tactics and the force they wish to play. These spells are chosen before the start of a game but after seeing what you are facing. This gives the new ’casters amazing flexibility at minimizing the impact of poor planning or bad matchups.
  • Command Cards: Command Cards are a new mechanic that has been added to MKIV. As part of army creation, each player selects a hand of five Command Cards. These cards are one-use only, and each player can play up to two per turn. Each Command Card details when it can be played, and each model/unit can have up to one Command Card played on it each turn.

Command Cards have relatively minor effects that are intended to help mitigate bad matchups and gotcha moments. For example, they include cards that grant a model/unit Pathfinder for an activation or give a model’s weapons the Damage Type: Magical quality for one turn.

While most Command Cards are free, some have a point cost associated with them like models. In the future, we will be introducing Command Cards tailored to specific Factions, armies, and possibly events.

  • Assassination & Execution Modes: Along with all the other changes we have introduced in MKIV, we are also introducing a new mode of play. While Assassination Mode can be thought of as “standard WARMACHINE,” in which the game ends when either the requirements of the scenario have been met or one player loses their warcaster or warlock, in Execution Mode, the rules are a little different.

When playing in Execution Mode, only a warcaster or warlock can destroy another warcaster or warlock model. When a warcaster or warlock model would be destroyed as a result of damage suffered from any source other than an attack made by an enemy warcaster or warlock model, instead of being destroyed, it becomes Vulnerable. If it is destroyed by damage inflicted by an attack made by an enemy warcaster or warlock model, instead of becoming Vulnerable, it is destroyed.

When a warcaster or warlock model becomes Vulnerable, its upkeep spells immediately expire, but it remains in play with 0 damage boxes. A Vulnerable model cannot suffer damage from any source other than from an attack made by an enemy warcaster or warlock model. If a Vulnerable model suffers any additional damage from an attack made by an enemy warcaster or warlock model, it is immediately destroyed.  While Vulnerable, a warcaster or warlock model cannot have damage removed from it and cannot make attacks. At the start of the Vulnerable model’s controller’s next turn, remove 1 damage point from the Vulnerable model and it ceases to be Vulnerable.

Additionally, while playing Execution Mode, when a warcaster or warlock model spends one or more focus or fury points during its activation to remove damage from itself, such as a result of a warcaster’s Power Field special rule or a warlock’s Healing special rule, instead of just removing 1 damage point for each focus or fury point spent, the warcaster or warlock model can remove up to 5 damage points. Rapid Healing only affects damage removed from the warcaster or warlock model and does not, for instance, affect warbeasts healed by a warlock during its activation.

  • Removal of Theme Forces: We have removed theme forces from the game in MKIV. As defining as theme forces were in the previous version of the game, MKIV’s focus on armies removed the necessity for this complex building block.
  • Models Can Only Attack Enemy Models: We have generally removed the ability for friendly models to target other friendly models with attacks. There are some exceptions, of course, including warbeast frenzies and models with the Berserk special rule, but for the most part, you are no longer allowed to target your own models with attacks. This not only removed what we have long felt was a potentially awkward exploit in the rules but also allowed us to further streamline rules writing and interactions.
  • Integration of HORDES into WARMACHINE: We have integrated the rules of HORDES directly into WARMACHINE. This not only allowed us to streamline the rules shared by the two games but also the language surrounding warcasters and warlocks, now collectively known as Commander models.
  • More Powerful Warjacks and Warbeasts: In addition to being able to tailor warjacks and warbeasts directly to your army through customization, these models have also gained the ability to attack with all their weapons, whether melee or ranged, in the same activation. Generally, all warjacks and warbeasts now have the Dual Attack advantage, which grants this capability.
  • Streamlining of Stats: We streamlined the presentation of stats in the game. We completely removed the Strength (STR) stat from the game and gave melee weapons a flat POW like ranged weapons. The damage for power attacks is now based on the relative base size of the attacking and target models.

We also replaced the FOCUS (FOC) and FURY stats on warcasters and warlocks with an ARCANE (ARC) stat that sets those models’ focus and fury point caps. Furthermore, we added new Control Range and Arcane Attack stats. Those capabilities are no longer based on the FOC and FURY stats of those models and are instead variable, tailored to the intended capabilities of each model.

  • Running Standardization: Instead of a running model advancing at double their SPD in inches, a running model now advances at SPD +5 ̋. This change both adds a hard limit to how far a model can advance while running but also enables us to simplify the language involved in writing movement rules. No longer do we have to separate “SPD” and “movement” modifiers to limit how far a model can run.
  • Increased Melee Ranges: We have increased the default melee range in the game from .5 ̋ to 1 ̋ to further deemphasize model placement and to account for base overhang. Coupled with the removal of facing, the placement of models has never been easier.
  • Models Are Allowed to Make Ranged Attacks While Engaged: The rules now allow for a model in melee to make ranged attacks, albeit with a –4 attack roll penalty unless the model is attacking with a weapon with the Pistol quality.
  • More Crits: We have also sought to infuse MKIV with a little more spontaneity and excitement. To that end, we have increased the number of critical effects in the game. This has led to a somewhat more varied and rousing play experience.
  • Rough Terrain: Models now suffer a flat –2 movement penalty when they begin an advance within rough terrain or would advance into rough terrain. This is in lieu of moving at half-rate through rough terrain, which could be both complex and counterintuitive to resolve.
  • Return of Elevation: We have returned elevation to the game in hopes of seeing some more interesting varieties of terrain on the tabletop
  • Simplified Power Attacks: Power attack interactions have been largely streamlined and simplified. Thrown models, for example, no longer deviate or target other models when they are moved. Collateral damage is now based on the base size of the attacking model relative to the model suffering the collateral damage.
  • Simplification of Model Rules: We have also taken steps to reduce the sheer bulk of rules on each model in the game. This goal has been applied case-by-case with care taken to maintain each model/unit’s role and unique capabilities while also trimming some fat and reducing the cognitive load required to play with and against certain models. The capabilities and point costs of every model/unit in the game are being carefully weighed and rebalanced to ensure their place within each army.
  • Key Words: Several key words have been modified or removed, often due to interactions with the new rules set. These will continue to be updated as models with these key words roll into the new game.

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