(Another interesting post made by Iktah of the PP Forums. The original can be found here – http://privateerpressforums.com/showthread.php?38430-Warcaster-synchronization)
The basics of your game:
There are so many things that are unique to this game and it has so much color and depth, especially compared to other games in the same scale as this one. But one thing that is truly unique is warcasters and how well they have transfered them from the fluff to the actuall game. Warjacks, warlocks and warbeasts and the balance which exists between them and synergy are all there from the fluff and it is really synergy that capitalize this game. This game is all about finding and exploiting synergy in the faction’s unit rooster.
In my opinion the warcaster or a warlock is the point of origin, the controlling circuitry from which all thought and motion derives from during battle. This game is fascinating since it portraits the essence of the story which is Warmachine at tabletop level.
The excellence of Warmachine lies in the thought that the warcaster when going to battle, by his will delivers punishment to whatever stands in his way. By his hand and the iron constructs that is the warmachines of the iron kingdoms. He is the point of origin from which the plan of attack originates. He is a conduit of mental thought. how operates as a unit can be transferred to tabletop level from the fluff and that is one of the strengths of this game.
But sadly it is one that synergy that should exist between a warcaster can sometimes be misunderstood. Some people see the warcaster as a unit in the field with focus, spells, abilities and a feat. They also notice when reading the rules that a warcaster has the option of augmenting himself with focus or augment a warjack with it instead making it more accurate when trying to land hits on the enemy or dealing damage.
More or less they see him as a separate unit from his warjacks; most players do, so this is not a new guy syndrome. I think this mental picture of them being separate comes from the fact that they don’t share the same activation. Consider that when you boost to hit or to damage that extra D6 of accuracy or damage actually originated from your warcaster. Here we can actually see the focus and its point of origin.
Understanding the warcaster/warlock role:
Consider how much impact your warcaster actually has. The warcaster affects your choice of warjacks, units and solos. They all are chosen to maximize usage of warcaster spells, abilities or feats. Yet again the warcaster has become the point of origin. By saying this which is to most senior players common knowledge I hope to address one thing and one thing only. The mental picture that a warcaster and the warjack he/she controls should be used to augment his/her strengths and compensate for her weaknesses and should be used as a singular source of force directed at the enemy.
Lessons form Hordes:
A Warlock works in the exact opposite way than a Warcaster. I have heard so many players, especially in my local meta when explaining to new players just entering the hobby that Warmachine is a system which works in this way and Hordes works in a different way not similar to warmachine and I have a preference for this over that etc. I say that it is actually wrong to separate them in that way since a warlock works in the exact opposite way than a warcaster.
A warlock depends upon warbeasts in two ways the first being that the warbeasts is her source of Fury. If you look at the way Fury is generated a warlock leaches fury of of her warbeasts so they become in a way the source of her power. The source of Fury is a warlock’s warbeasts. The example shows that Focus/fury in warmachine wanders from caster to warjack and is then put into effect. In hordes it doesn’t originate from the warlock but the warbeast making them opposites of a one. Since the effect of Focus and Fury is to charge an effect (boosting, activating abilities, spells, animi)
The Focus/Fury systems in two simple ways:
Warcaster (origin) -> Warjack (conduit) -> Effect (boosting, activating abilities, armor increase etc)
Warbeast (origin) -> Warlock (conduit)-> Effect (boosting, spells, animi, abilities, transfers etc)
The Warcaster and the Steamjack:
Everything that requires focus of your warjacks has its origins in the warcaster. A boost to damage is the warcaster dealing an extra D6 to damage during models activation, a spell to increase warjacks strength is also damage originating from the warcaster. The simple game mechanics says that a warcaster should be used in conjunction with warjacks to increase his abilities to inflict damage or cast spells. A good example of a warjack extending the threat range of a caster is an arcnode. Arcnodes illustrate the synergy which exists between a warcaster and his warjacks perfectly.
The Warlock and the Warbeast:
A warlock thrives on the accumulated fury of her warbeasts using them in a lich like fashion. When the warcaster gives the warlock takes. In the same way warjacks should since they are the exact opposites, lich of the warcasters abilities and spells when fighting the enemy. I always consider my warjacks as an extension of my warcaster and the warjacks should aspire to work under the same conditions as the caster and complement not the list as a whole but the caster. When she is dealing damage to a target whatever it is to help her do it or actually engage it, the warjack should be used as a tool for the warcaster to accomplish her goals. They should depend on each other to achieve success. By synchronizing your warlock to the rest of your list you balance your list.
Putting it all into practice and following the method of attack:
The warlock or warcaster dictates the theme of attack and how is your force going to fight the enemy (method of attack) the theme of attack is a way to describe how your warcaster synergizes with the rest of the list. To put it simple: it is how your list is supposed to fight the enemy to augment the abilities of your caster.
The way that your warlock and her battlegroup, units and solos behave during battle is based upon the fighting style of your caster or warlock. A quick way of figuring it out what your casters theme of attack is is to ask: is my caster a frontline warcaster or a rear warcaster? How will it affect my strategy? What do I need to keep him/her safe?
THEME OF ATTACK IN FIVE EASY STEPS:
– The warlock always dictates the theme of attack
– What do you do to keep him/her safe? What in yourc asters arsenal makes him/her durable?
– The warbeasts/warjacks/solos/units should add to the strength of caster and therefore adds to the theme
– By warbeast/warjack selection you can add to your strengths reducing weaknesses and add to complement the theme of attack
– The art of Complementing a loss of an element in your list is the theme of attack is factored to the success of your list since it is based upon ability to guard and complement the loss of units/solos/warbeasts etc
Understanding the balance between your warlock and his/her warbeast:
It is as said allot harder for Warmachine players to understand the synergy between a warcaster and a warjack since their rules work the other way around from hordes. And the nature of them working together in the field to achieve a theme of a attack is a hard idea to grasp.
But success comes from the perfect use of Warcaster/Warjack or Warlock/Warbeast synchronization to achieve a balance in your theme of attack, and the realization that a warcaster should aspire to be augment his warjacks and fight through them as a pair so you can play like you got a pair.
/Best Regards Iktah