Warmachine is in a weird place right now. With the errata looming over the heads of the congregated masses like a proverbial and infinitely less intimidating sword of Damocles, designing list pairings or practicing for next year's 4circuit is more difficult than ever. This period of uncertainty has lead many players (myself included!) to bury our heads so deep in the jank tank that we've forgotten what the sun looks like. In the downtime before we drown; let's play a little game and try to predict what the post-errata game will look like for the mighty nation of Cygnar!
First some ground rules; no kissing on the mouth and even if you get tagged on the arm it still counts. Let's pretend that the top 'casters in our Faction got bumped on the head so hard by the nerf bat that they can't remember their own first names. I think it's reasonable to expect that Haley2, Caine2 for getting arguably the most negative publicity out of any Cygnar 'caster, Kara and Haley3 might see some changes. I can't speculate on what those changes are or whether they're even going to happen but for this thought exercise we can make believe that they've left the realm of competitive viability and live in the squalor of Blaize's little hovel on the outskirts of things people care about.
Let's also pretend that big-game metabenders got whacked along the way; so no (or reduced) Tree, Karchev+Mad Dog spam, Reclaimer and Madrak2. I'd like to include Ossyan in that lot, but I'm fairly certain that Retribution is one of the designer's shiny new toys and they'll do they're best to make sure it doesn't get any dirt on it. With the impending Hellmouth nerf that has to happen, I doubt any Legion 'casters, even prevalent ones like Lylyth3 are uber enough to deserve a hit... and who even knows what Skorne is going to look like after its lobotomy?
So what starts to rise to the top after a healthy paradigm shift? The archetypes that are currently seen are still going to pop up; e.g. super heavy 'jack spams and hyper gunlines. Within the faction of Cygnar the Strykers immediately come to mind. Stryker1 can ARM buff to deliver his models through hails of bullets and both Stryker2 and 3 powder heavily armored bricks. One of the biggest arguments against an infantry-heavy approach is the possibility of hitting Wurmwood and having infantry stuck in a forest and scooped up by Hellmouths; but if that becomes less of an issue, infantry-centric builds with these 'casters could see a resurgence, perhaps bringing along previously unused units like Sword Knights. Other Warcasters that could see an uptick are Darius, who brings another answer to gunlines in heavy armor and repair as well as Nemo1, who can play a similar control game to Haley2 against Warjack bricks and pump his own 'jacks to very respectable threat ranges.
What will be our toughest opponent's if this fever dream of a future should come to pass!? Retribution will always be a tough counter, bringing lots of ranged superiority tech to the table. Circle's latest releases promise to be very strong; even without Tree on their side, Una2 and Kaya3 as well as old staples like Baldur2 ask questions that are difficult but not overpowering. Menoth and Khador Warjack bricks will also always be a contender and with less tough matchups for infantry like Tree, Caine2 or Karchev we could even see a resurgence in oldschool infantry swarms, going back to the Mk2 archetype of heavily armored troops like Dawnguard, Forge Guard and Iron Fangs.
This fantasy scenario seems pretty far fetched and I honestly don't think things will get shaken up to the extent that I'm painting here, but if these errata documents do end up being nearly as impactful as PP would have us believe, we'll have to be ready for a significant shift once or twice a year. One little PSA; let's keep our lids on about this whole thing and not go crazy ape-shit bonkers over the changes to our Faction. It's so easy to focus on sweet stuff that we don't get anymore to the point that we forget that other people don't get their sweet stuff anymore or that we still have sweet stuff.
I for one, am as excited for this document as a toddler on Christmas eve; I'm even filling my spare time jumping up and down in my reindeer onsie and forgetting to go to sleep. My fingers are crossed for some fun changes to our bottom tier 'casters but at the very least a brand new metagame to wake up to will be an exciting time. Now excuse me as a go put out milk and cookies for the overweight burglar about to break into my home.