Whilst trying to write up my 35 point Retribution of Scyrah army lists, it struck me exactly how important Focus allocation is in Warmachine, even before an dice are thrown. Any experienced players can probably move on at this point…
At its core, Warmachine is about resource management. Each warcaster generates a certain amount of Focus every time that can be used to cast spells, and make they jacks do stuff (or do stuff better). This is pretty and has some obvious implications when designing a Warmachine army list.
The big appeal of Warmachine is the jacks. They are big and shiny, and lets face it, very cool in a big robot way. And of course it would be very tempting to fill every army list with them.
However, to get the most out of your warjacks, you need Focus. And the amount of focus required very much depends on what you want them to do. For example, a Cygnar Charger can shot is dual cannon twice, and has the powerful attack rule, and really needs three Focus points every turn it is going to shoot to operate at peak efficiency.
Whilst my Centurion will want to use his polarity shield most turns while slowly walking up the board. This means that this jack needs no Focus until getting into melee, at which point it wants as much as possible.
So when and where know warjacks need Focus has to be considered when building a list.
Its all MINE!
The other factor determining how much Focus will be available is the warcaster. However this isn’t as simple as just looking at the Focus stat on the card.
After looking at the Focus stat, you also need to consider the caster’s spells and how you want to use them. No point in having lots of jacks, when your caster will be throwing lots of spells around instead. Particular casters are more selfish than other in this regards.
Warcasters also can ‘buy’ extra armour, attacks and heal themselves using focus so that has to be factored in.
Kaelyssa for example is very much a support caster. She’s very squishy so getting too close is a very bad idea. However, she has a good amount of Focus so she can run a fair few jacks. Garryth on the hand is all amount assassinating his opposite number. To do that, he will need to camp focus (too boost his armour) to get to his target, and then use his Focus to buy lots of attacks when he gets there. In turn, this means a lot less Focus for warjacks.
Bringing This Together, and Putting On Pointy Ears
So how does this random rambling apply to my current project, my Retribution? Well, at the moment I have two heavy jacks, a Hydra and a Phoenix.
To operate at peak efficiency the Hydra needs three focus. This increases its Force Canon’s range and power to 15. Very respectable. As a ‘shooty’ jack, I want to make the most of this one shot weapon. That requires two focus points, one to boost the attack roll and one to boost damage. Thankfully the Hydra’s Focus Battery and Kinetic Capacitor give it some options to keep and gain focus without input from my warcaster so it should require only one or two focus points after the first turn.
The Phoenix on the other hand is a heavy hitter. It does not require much support until the turn it hits the opponents lines. At that point, it will need to be fully loaded with three focus.
And then we have Kaelyssa. She has a few upkeep spells that I will want to cast at the beginning of the game, including Phantom Hunter, and then she has her runebolt canon which she really wants to be shooting three times every turn (so that’s at least three focus points gone). On the plus side, the runebolt canon can nick Focus or Fury so that can help.
As you can see, Kaelyssa is rapidly using her 7 focus points at this stage so at 35 points I am adding the Mercenary warcaster attachment Sylys Wyshnalyrr as he can upkeep one of Kaelyssa’s spells for free.
The next trick will be bringing this all together and relating it to the different stages of the game. The key thing is you never have enough focus so you have to prioritise how you use it.
We’ll see how that works work as I play more games with these guys.