Lesson 6: Steamroller
The Steamroller Objectives
Most players use the "Steamroller" format, a set of scenarios that are updated and tweaked annually by Privateer Press. Most tournaments and a great many casual games too use these rules, and you can find links to them on the Useful External Links page. In this format; if you are the only one to control a flag or a zone, you earn control points. If you destroy the opponents Steamroller Objective, you earn control points, and the first player to reach 5 control points is the winner. Often, all flags/objectives will be constantly contested/protected by both players until an opening occurs, and the game ends by assassination.
With symmetrical deployments zone the first player will usually be at an advantage, despite the second player choosing the table edge. The steamroller format alleviates this in two ways. Firstly the first player has a deployment zone that's 3" shorter; 7" as opposed to 10" by default (which cascades to the Advance Deployment line being 13" rather than 16"). The second is that most scenarios start scoring control points on the second player's second turn so although the first player normally gets the first shots in at the enemy the second player gets to start winning by scenario first. So choosing to go first or second is not that easy.
Steamroller Objectives, Zones and Flags
Almost all Steamroller scenarios have a system of control points, with the first player to five control points winning (although Caster Assassination also counts). There are three methods for winning control points, and they are assessed at the end of each player's turn starting with the end of the second player's second turn. Zones come in two shapes and sizes - a 6" x 12" rectangle and a 12" diameter circle. Flags are incorporeal, stationary, indestructible 40mm bases. Some scenarios promotes aggressive play by forcing the warcasaters forward, into a squared area of the board, called a Kill Box. If you don't bring your Warcaster/Warlock into the middle 20" by 20" of the battlefield you get penalized. This means you have to play carefully and not just e.g. camp the Harbinger of Menoth right at the back, taking advantage of her 20" control area to keep her safe. Not all missions have the Kill Box rule, but most share these standards.
- Destroying the enemy objective scores you 1 point.
- Controlling one of the game's zones scores you 1 point.
- Solos, units and warbeasts/jacks may control zones or flags
- They must be in the zone, uncontested by other solos, units and warbeasts/jacks.'
- Or they must be within 4" of a flag, uncontested by other solos, units and warbeasts/jacks.
- Dominating a flag or a zone scores you 2 points.
- Warlocks and warcasters may dominate a flag.
- Warlocks and warcasters can't contest anything !
- He/she must be in the zone, uncontested by other solos, units and warbeasts/jacks.'
- Or he/she must be within 4" of a flag, uncontested by other solos, units and warbeasts/jacks.
- If both Warlocks/Warcasters are trying to dominate the same point and there are no other models to contest the active player gets the domination points. So a great many points can be dished out quickly with Domination. The Domination rules encourage people to play forward with their warlocks and warcasters, making assassinations more likely.
The Steamroller Objectives adds to the game in a different way than the race for points. The Bunker Objective for example can help against blast damage or the Armory Objective improves the ammo of nearby models. In this format, you choose what objective you want on your side of the table, so you should choose something that synergizes with your army. Naturally, your objectives can affect your army composition, but keep in mind that not all Steamroller Missions have Steamroller Objectives, some merely have flags or zones. So you can't rely on your Objective to have any supporting role in your army, but if it is there, you want to get the best use out of it. The valid Objectives are tweaked yearly every time a new Steamroller is released. They are found in the Steamroller document . The 2016 Steamroller Objectives are:
- It is pulsating with arcane energy, so it zaps enemies who attacks it in melee. Useful against squishy targets who might be able to destroy it, such as weaponmaster infantry with one wound.
- It emits a Null Zone bubble, shortening enemies spell range against models standing near it. So positioning your caster and some support solos behind it might be a good idea if you are doing ranged magic duels or worried your squishy spellslinger might be assassinated.
- Is reinforced, so does not suffer any damage from low pow weapons.
- May grant magical ammunition to nearby models. Some models with large quantities of weapons love this.
- Dugout. Its really, really durable unless you get up close.
- It also makes your nearby guys more durable by making them immune to blasts. An excellent objective for a ranged infantry army.
Effigy of Valor
- Its huge, so it provides cover.
- Its also awesome to behold, so knocked down models get their act together faster. Models with Tough likes this.
- Its burning, and you may place smoke to cover a useful spot with a cloud effect. Neat.
- Its burning, so it hurts to get near.
- It can be used to repair or heal your battlegroup. Really useful for your ranged beasts and jacks who are not interested in going near the enemy.
- Also, your guys can be used to take the hits it suffers, keeping it alive longer.
Allright, so 75 points Steamroller is the default tournament standard. There are other formats besides this though.
- Classic - the missions from the rulebook, obviously.
- Rumble 3'x3' - variants in the Steamroller document requiring faster play, smaller table.
- Journeyman Leagues - Designed to encourage new players to begin learning the game with their battle box and then expand their collection over the course of games played over several weeks.
Besides these, formatting your warmachine games can happen lots of weird ways. Often it won't, as the event organizer often simply uses Steamroller rules. Its up to the local meta to demand variety. During some events (such as the annual Lock&Load fest) there are plenty of rules variants that come and go. Most formats are implemented and tried and disappears afterwards. Some are used again. Some not. This is always up to the event organizers to get creative and make something that fits with event size. Either way, the point is that you might as well get creative when you make events - Playing Steamroller games is awesome. Playing non-Steamroller games is also awesome. Here are some of the sample madness formats previously released by PP. They usually lean on modified Steamroller rules:
- Spell Draft - Warwitch Deneghra with Purification? Iron Mother Directrix with Signs and Portents? Draft your spells from a random stack.
- Who's the Boss - Stryker leading Khador? Morghoul leading Trollbloods? Pair your army with a random pick from the wheel of ‘casters.
- Token Aggression - Draw three tokens from the pile of aggression tokens. Different colored tokens give you different benefits.
- Blood, Sweat and tiers - The theme force tournaments encourages players to showcase the specialized forces of the Iron Kingdoms.
- Speed Machine - Lightning fast play is the name of the game in Speedmachine. Beating the clock will be just as tough as beating your opponent. 25 pt. army list, Battlegroup Only, deathclock 16 minutes pr player !