Tales from The Testing Cycle: “I don’t know… yet” is the best answer.

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I have been having a whole lot of fun with Warmachine recently. I’m deep in the testing cycle, playing lists I would never have looked twice at six months ago. Are any of that actually good? I don’t know yet. 

Some truth: I love to theorymachine off the wall lists, but I rarely commit to actually giving them the table time. In the past, I’ve been something of a chicken about it, especially when it comes to bringing the list to a tournament. After all, I know that bringing a swarm of mooks or a legion of banes is going to do me good. I know a Deneghra and a lot of guns is going to shake out into something powerful. So those lists have got most of my past testing time – mostly for the sake of 5-10 points worth of variance.

And that focus on things that I know to be good has been valuable – I won’t deny that. Most tournaments are two list affairs, and two list formats have a lot less room for a curveball. You need maximum matchup coverage, and two known quantities are more likely to acheive that. But at the moment, I’m all about the third list. There, there’s room for some weird.

And I have no idea what I’m doing with half of these lists. There’s theory behind them, sure. But they all involve playstyles I’ve never been heavily practiced with or that I’ve let fall by the wayside. They all involve Cryx models that I don’t often put on the table. They all involve heavy warjacks/ Collosals with four legs. One of them even had a Bloat Thrall in it for a while, and it didn’t suck (it didn’t make the cut either, but y’know).

And I love it.

I’ve talked plenty in the past about the value of deliberate practice and automaticity for developing expertise, but I haven’t really spoken about creativity and exploration.Perhaps this is my Next Level. My push for the past year has been towards failing as little as possible. Right now, I’m failing a whole lot – but I’m learning.

Learning from mistakes is an often misunderstood beast. It’s reified as teaching us “more” than success, but that’s not really accurate. You learn from everything. That’s how learning works. The focus shouldn’t be on the “mistake”, because that values all mistakes equally. Some mistakes are just the result of making bad decisions you should have known were bad decisions.  The focus should be on the fact that in order to make a “good mistake”, you had to be trying something that has not yet been proven to work.

The key component of successful creativity is a willingness to fail several times, while recognising that you are still being successful at the longer goal of creating/exploration. (Tangent: This is true of both Science and Art. Stop trying to make out that they’re opposed in some way, people who do that.) That is, you’ve got to actually try the thing you’ve thought of. If it’s just in your head, it hasn’t been created yet, and you have no information on it. Theorymachine is the start of the idea, but you’ve got to put it on the table a few times to to actually realise the idea.

And sometimes it’ll suck. And sometimes you’ll be surprised. And perhaps nothing you create will actually be all that awesome, ever (That novel sounds so much better in your head, doesn’t it. I know mine does.) Doesn’t mean the process can’t be fun as hell.

And to pull it all back around to Warmachine, here’s one of the non-standard Cryx lists I’ve been playing a lot recently.

Terminus (-4)
– Kraken (19)
Wrongeye & Snapjaw (9)
Min. Blood Witches + UA (6)
Min. Bile Thralls (5)
Withershadow Combine (5)
Daragh Wrathe (4)
Madelyn Corbeau (2)
Gorman Di Wulfe (2)
Ragman (2)

Man, even when I type it I start thinking that I’m completely detached from reality. Here’s the thought process:

Hypothesis #1: Terminus doesn’t really need a lot of sac pawns. The WSC and a few loose Biles should be able to eat the Eiryss shots and Blind Bombs, the rest can just go into his armour.

Tentative results: Hypothesis, so far, confirmed. But sample size way too small.

Hypothesis #2: Having two heavy targets that are difficult to shoot off the table in addition to Terminus allows you to aggressively piece trade and divert/murder the pieces that can legitimately threaten Terminus, leaving you in the powerful position of having Terminus be the lone big bully in the lategame.

Tentative results: I’m really bad at playing the sort of game the list is supposed to play. But I’m getting better. Problems emerge when the opposing caster can threaten Terminus. But most games I’ve tested in, Terminus has eventually personally downed the opposing heavy hitter (often a collossal) and gone on to bully to victory.

Hypothesis #3: People will go “huh?” when you put down this list.
Results: Hypothesis confirmed.

Hypothesis #4: This list will do well against people’s most common anti Cryx drops.
Results: Nowhere near enough data. Need some people to bring Harby and pHaley.

I_Avian

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