The third taste that we got of Privateer Press's Community Integrated Development (CID for short) behind Grymkin and Steamroller 2017 was when the company boldly announced that, as most of us knew, Battle Engines needed a serious look.
Thus began a four week long process of the huge based, non-colossal pieces getting played with a frequency that, would you have described it to me a year ago, would have gotten me laughing at you hard enough that I couldn't talk.
("Please stop, I can't, I can't, the laughing" laughing fit "you're telling me that in a year I'll be playing" laughter! "TWO Celestial Fulcrums?! I don't even own ONE!")
On Monday, (June 26), that CID cycle finally went live, and we got to see all of the fruits of both our input and the Privateer Press team taking a month and doing some more internal playtesting.
This article will go through the changes that each Engine went through, and at the end I will put up my totally biased opinion on their approximate rank compared to eachother. If I don't mention a rule that was already on the card, it means that it stayed. I will make note of any new rules or deleted rules.
The reviews will happen in the order that they show up in War Room, so there's nothing to my order of reviewing - Let's go!
IMPORTANT: The Screenshots are pre-errata cards!
The front of the Storm Strider's card barely changed, it gained six hit boxes and that was it.
That back of the card, however, saw a radical facelifts.
Kinetic Accumulator got swapped for a rule called Build Up Power, which says that when the Strider advances, it gains d3 power tokens. It can hold up to three of them at a time and can use them to boost attack and damage rolls.
It also gained the Conductor ability, which allows Stormsmith Stormcallers to count the Strider as a friendly Stormcaller when using Surge or Triangulation. This is a much more niche ability than Build Up Power, but it's a nice thematic thing to add since the maniacs driving the Strider are Stormcallers.
So what we have here is a model that must move around in order to be most effective, has a very strong, long range gun with two shots, and is also a reasonable threat in melee against light warjacks and solos.
It makes electrical attacks more accurate within ten inches of it, and with the prevalence of Fireflies and Storm Division, this is an incredible boon.
With an effective potential range of 22 inches (8 inch charge plus 14 inch gun), this model can impact the entire battlefield and likely survive anything but a seriously dedicated melee retaliation thanks to Repulsor Field and now having 28 boxes at ARM 19.
Vessel of Judgment
The front of the Vessels card change in three significant ways.
First of all, it gained 8 boxes to a total of 32. It also lost two inches of range on its weapon. This is compensated for by gaining Reload  on the back of its card. Admonisher, the d3 bounces on the ranged weapon, also lost the ability to be boosted.
The interesting change that this model experienced is part of the new version of Cleansing Aura, called Bonds of Faith.
In the new version, the Vessel takes d3 damage to perform the miracle, just as always, and then friendly faction models in its command range heal d3 damage each, rolled individually. In addition, enemy upkeep spells and animi affecting models/units in the Vessels command range expire, with the option for the enemy spellcaster to keep their upkeep spells in play by taking d3 damage per spell.
This has some interesting applications. The obvious spot to consider it with is Harbinger, as she is often playing multi-wound infantry and Martyrdoming them on a turn by turn basis. The Vessel heals them, and also heals Harbinger, all the while providing her list with a very powerful ranged option that it would otherwise lack.
Another one that has come up a few times is taking the Vessel with jack spam, as it provides an easy way to repair the Warjacks while still, again, providing a solid ranged presence.
Overall I think this is an extremely strong change, as Menoth does not have an 18 point option for such a powerful gun, and this is a piece that, while still performing an infantry clearing option, has an extremely strong ranged output and does a lot to support some interesting new builds.
Winter Guard Gun Carriage
The "Fun" Carriage got a pretty drastic overhaul. It went from 18 points to 17 points, lost two inches of range on its guns, and gained a whopping 14 health boxes to a total of 38.
In addition, it got a ton of new rules (but lost the ability to trample sadly). Let's have a look!
Right off the bat, the Carriage gained an ability called Crushing Weight, which also shows up on the Trollbloods battle engine. Essentially what this ability does is allows the Gun Carriage to make impact attacks without having to move at least 3 inches as per usual. It also allows the Gun Carriage to make impact attacks multiple times - but only once per model per turn.
The wording here is a little confusing so let me clarify. If the Carriage charges a model and stops to make impact attacks after one inch, this is perfectly legal. If it kills all of the models in its way EXCEPT the model that it triggered impact attacks off of and that model dodges away, the Gun Carriage cannot make a new set of impact attacks by hitting that model again.
Conversely, if you miss an impact attack to the side of the Gun Carriage and keep going and trigger a new set of impact attacks with a new model, you can make another attempt at killing the missed model with a new round of impact attacks.
Phew, yeah that's complicated. Pagani had to help me sort through it.
This rule is bonkers good on a speed 8 model, and it allows the Gun Carriage to do some really nasty things since...
Momentum is replaced with a rule called Ton of Bricks. This is a similar idea, but it allows the Carriage to slam any model that it hits with a non-impact mount attack (so a charge attack with the mount) d3 inches away, even if it is a large based model.
I'm seeing some really interesting plays with this model, as it can easily charge a heavy screened by a unit, kill the unit off with impact attacks thanks to Line Breaker giving it three dice to hit, and then slam the heavy into another heavy before shooting twice with rough terrain producing POW 16 guns, then reposition back three inches and be safe from most pathfinder-less heavies.
Having just bought into Khador, this is a model that I seriously want to try out with all of the Vlads (Hand of Fate and Signs and Portents seem REALLY good here), with Butcher 3, with Zerkova 1 and 2, with Butcher 1....really there are a lot of places for this model and I'm excited (and a little scared) to see it on the table.
The Wraith Engine got less of a crazy overhaul than most of the Battle Engines did. It did gain six boxes, for a total of 26, and it also went down a point, making it the cheapest Battle Engine at 15.
The first change on the back of the card is a replacement of Cleave with Rapid Strike. This is a big deal. This is a tremendously important increase to this models' damage output against single, hard targets. Rapid Strike allows you to make an additional melee attack every combat action, meaning that the Wraith Engine no longer needs to kill something in order to make a third attack.
Unhallowed also got a face lift, giving ALL undead models in its command range +2 ARM against ranged and magic attacks, rather than just incorporeal models. It also does not allow them to ignore blast damage anymore. This is a huge deal for both Ghost Fleets Revenant Crew and the upcoming Bane theme.
Being able to put all of those attacks into a single heavy (or Colossal or Battle Engine) is a big deal, and combined with its new, lower point cost, increased survivability, and the prevalence of Ghost Fleet, I expect we will see more and more of this guy (or two of them!) on the table.
Arcantrik Force Generator
The front of the AFG's card only change by three numbers. It gained a second shot as it went to ROF 2, and it also went up a point and lost a point of ARM.
On the back of the card, it gained a good rule , had a rule changed for the better, and lost a bad one.
The bad rule in question is Dual Shot, forcing it to aim to get its second attack. This was an important change because the AFG could be neutralized fairly easily by running a random dude up to engage it and make it unable to aim, cutting its damage output in half.
The good rule is Carapace, which gives the AFG +4 ARM against free strikes and ranged attacks. When combined with Polarity Field, this model is one of the toughest Battle Engines to remove in the game. You can't shoot it down easily at ARM 22 against shooting, you can't charge it, and if you run to engage with some random POW 12 dude, it'll be dice off ten to free strike it with.
The final change to the AFG comes in the change from Range Booster to Focused Power. The essentially do the same thing, but the new rule also gives the AFG +2 to ranged damage rolls if it aims now, making it a RAT 9 POW 16 ROF 2 gun that can choose to be an AOE 4 of rough terrain, boosted for damage (a change from +2 to damage), or KD/Slam - pretty solid!
This thing seems like a definite monster now, I wouldn't be surprised to see some Ossyan and Issyria builds with it pop up in the near future.
Transfinite Emergence Projector
I almost didn't include this here, since it received nothing but a single small buff. The TEP was the best Battle Engine by a landslide pre-CID, and there's a strong argument that it still is the best of them.
All it needed was one additional box to give it a prime number of hit boxes (23 now) and it was perfect.
Hammerfall Siege Crawler
Ah the Siege Crawler, somehow the Rhulic folk designed a speed 5 model that wasn't a Gun Bunny!
All that changed on the front of the card was the obligatory increase on boxes to a total of forty and a point reduction to 18 points.
On the back, however, we have some interesting things to talk about.
First of all, the Crawler lost Roadblock, replacing that rule with Girded - this makes it and friendly models base to base with it immune to blast damage (note: friendly, not friendly faction).
Secondly, it gained the Periscope rule that we know and hate Reinholdt for. This model can now choose a model that it can see and remove Stealth from it for one turn.
This ability might be good enough for Khador players to consider breaking theme and playing with it, as a second periscope can really make rocket spam lists deadly.
Additionally, it gained a new rule - Reinforcements [Rhulic], which allows it to return d3 small based destroyed Rhulic grunts to play anywhere completeiy in the Crawlers' ten inch command range and completely within 3 inches of a model in the grunts unit. Those models must forfeit their combat actions this turn.
Of note, it doesn't restrict you to a single unit, so you can bring back Forgeguard for two different units at once.
I kind of want to see someone try out a Trencher Blockhouse with a Siege Crawler and just put out massive recursion every turn, possibly coupled with Alexia and the Risen to really clog the board with guys.
Finally, the big ranged weapons on the Crawler gained Siege Weapon, making them weaponmasters against huge-based models. In a world where Battle Engines will hit the table a lot more, this is invaluable, as boosted POW 15s scare every one of them (except the TEP).
Man this is an exciting batch of models. Every single one has been upgraded in some way, and I think that they all have a legitimate place in their factions now. Many of them open up new list designs (Vessel of Judgment, Carriage, and Crawler all do I feel), and they all feel distinct and unique.
If this is the kind of quality that CID cycles will produce, I say bring them on. These models are fun, powerful, and seem well-balanced.
Tomorrow, I will go over the changes to the Hordes Battle Engines. Until then, how do you feel the new engines will impact your list building? Can you see yourself designing new lists with them in mind? How do you feel the CID did in making them playable, fun models?
Thanks for reading!