Lesson 7: Meta
So what is Metagame other than a long and pretentious sounding word? To put it simply, metagame refers to your local environment. And what models are good in the game depends on what people play locally - and this changes over time as well as by gaming club. No one knows the entire metagame. Or all the tricks available. What is good varies from place to place, why ? You can apply all the points from lesson 1 here, but also take into consideration that your lists will have a local flavor. Often you want to skew your defenses one way or the other. If everyone is hard to hit then only the enemy's accurate attacks matter - anything they've put into hard hitting attacks is wasted. If everyone is hard to hurt then the light and accurate attacks are wasted. And if you have enough bodies on the field ... Area of Effect attcks are the way to go. And with limited points you can only specialise in one type of attack. (Area of effect attacks tend to deal with high Def models that orthodox attacks are going to miss anyway). Further there's a feedback loop; high DEF, low ARM models tend to have accurate attacks that don't do a whole lot of damage (see Gun Mage Pistoleers or Kayazy Eliminators for good examples). On the other hand it takes large warjacks/warbeasts to kill large warjacks/warbeasts.
As a rule of thumb:
- The answers to high DEF targets are high MAT/RAT attackers (most of whom are high DEF), buffs/debuffs, and AoE Blast damage.
- The answers to high ARM targets are Warjacks/Warbeasts, damage buffs and charging weapon masters
- The answers to infantry spam are AoE Blast Damage, Sprays, Berserk, Corrosion/Fire
Depending on what your friends play, which factions they like or what trends or theories are prevalent, the meta is usually very local, and quite varied. Sometimes new stuff is released that changes the dynamics of the game. For example: There was a huge change in the metagame quite some years back. Way back Warmachine games generally had a lot of infantry with high DEF and specialised in killing each other. Most of the factions had access to single wound weaponmaster infantry that on the charge was able to wreck just about any warjack. And heavy warjacks weren't really needed to hunt each other because there was all the good infantry. This was a problem. So what did Privateer Press do? Nerfing would be the obvious. Instead they introduced Colossals. Every Colossal in the game is (a) able to wreck heavy warjacks and (b) cut through a lot of infantry by dropping AoEs all over them. They are also all very easy to hit and very well armoured. Which means that the Kazazy (a) can barely scratch the paintwork of a Colossal, (b) have found that the AoEs that can destroy them are much more common, and (c) not only are they endangered and less useful thanks to people using colossals - so are their favourite targets. Because their favourite targets die to the same things that kill them. Which means that rather than almost ubiquitous in Khadoran armies, they have returned to a much more niche position. Almost all models have their place. But to work out what their place is you need to know the local metagame. And if you always play the same lists, you'll find that no matter what your list is it's weak to to some things and you'll end up meeting those things more and more frequently.
As mentioned before, the usual stage for competitive WarmaHording is tournaments, and the normal format for that is 75 point games using Steamroller missions. If you have great experience with this and feel like sharing, write us a few tips here :)
On Matchups and List Pairings
As mentioned in previous sections, some lists can end up having problems facing other certain lists that are equipped to deal with it. Often, tournaments allow you to bring two lists (or three) with different Casters. You can then look at your opponents lists and see what they consist of, and your opponent will study your lists too. You then silently choose your list, and your opponent does the same. This allows you some flexibility in the rock-paper-scissors environment that sometimes happen when you explore your meta.