Warmachine Retrospective: A Brief History of Waterfalling

Some of us have been around Warmachine for a very long time. Those of us who have both been around forever and who happen to have long memories can watch the cycle and see that certain ideas ebb and flow, popping their heads up anew years after they’ve come and gone.

A recent rules thread more or less revived an ancient idea that was originally known as “waterfalling”, or the idea that a models with multiple attacks in a unit can contribute non-charge attacks to a charging CMA but still get the charge bonus. I didn’t want to clog up that thread with a trip down memory lane, so I figured I’d put this post up just to serve as a historical reminder of where we came from. :slight_smile:

Let’s set the scene. Picture it: Sicily, 1922 the ancient Privateer Press forums, circa mid-2007. You logged on and got something that looked a lot like this, only much lower-rez because nobody had 1920 x 1080 resolution monitors:

(I see somebody I know. What about you, @Kapoteeni ? :stuck_out_tongue: )

Back in my day, we only had 800 x 600 and we loved it! Walked to school in the snow uphill both ways. Truman was president, we loved ol’ Harry we did …

The edition was very firmly what would later come to be known as MK I (pronounced “Mark One”), but back then, it was the only edition that had existed! Warmachine Prime: Remix had just released in January 2007, providing a mild refresh to an edition that had otherwise been in full swing for almost four years.

Then, a unit called the Idrian Skirmishers released in late summer/fall of the year. Idrian Skirmishers weren’t the first unit to have at least one model with two melee attacks per model – I’m pretty sure that went to the original Mechanithralls – but they were the first unit to have both CMA and multiple melee weapons****, and they had a really…uh…interesting rule on their card: the Intercept order.


“What’s a ‘Rhaz’?”
“Go away kid, you bother me.”

I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially: the whole unit got to charge during the opponent’s turn.

All well and good, except, of course, that one day, some bright soul (I’m pretty sure it was a Protectorate player) carefully read the charge rules, carefully read the Combined Melee Attack rules, and came to the rules forum and set the world on fire.

NOTE: The rules for both charges and Combined Melee Attacks were very different back then. I don’t have a digital copy of Prime: Remix (because PP wouldn’t start selling any digital copies of their books for another ≈5 years or so), so I’m not going to provide screenshots, and I’m sure as heck not going to start block quoting 18-year-old rules text. If you want to do that, be my guest! :rofl:

So I’m not going to completely dissect this, but I’ll give you the highlights of how this all came together. Back then, these two highlighted sentences didn’t exist:


Also, when performing a CMA, the model with the highest MAT in the attacking group was required to lead the charge attack. By default in the Skirmishers + UA unit, the Chieftan had the highest MAT, and he was also the only one with two attacks:


So the question – as I recall it – was simple, and along these lines:

“Hey, if the Chieftain leads two CMAs, and they’re both against the Chieftain’s charge target, and because he’s required to lead the attacks because he has the highest MAT, and I really want that Brutal Charge bonus on both, and if I have a somewhat twisted reading of the specific sentence governing this, are they both charge attacks?”

And that answer was “No”, because his second attack wasn’t the first attack against the charge target.

…But because these were Protectorate players we’re talking about, then somebody remembered the honorary Menite in the room: Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord. Again, no digital copies so no screenshots, but Rhupert could bagpipe his way into giving all the models in the unit an extra attack during their activation.

And that’s where it got really interesting.

Thanks to Rhupert, those Idrian Skirmishers effectively had two attacks, and every single one had Brutal Charge, and somebody realized (and with a ruling that said “Yeah, that’s okay, because those sentences Michael highlighted won’t exist for about three more years, nothing says otherwise”) you could get nuts and do what became known as waterfalling:

12 model unit with 13 attacks base (10 Skirmishers, 1 attack each, Guide, 1 attack, Chieftain, 2 attacks):

- Apply Rhupert. Now the unit has 25 base attacks.

- Give the Charge order or, if you really want to make life impossible for your opponent on their own turn, the Intercept order.

- Charge.

- Group your attacks as follows:

Attack #1: Trooper A combines his first attack (charge) with Trooper B’s second (Rhupert) attack. The attack goes from MAT 6 POW 10 to MAT 8 POW 14 thanks to +2/+2 from the CMA and Brutal Charge. And, it’s a charge, so it’s MAT 8 POW 14 3d6 damage.

Attack #2: Trooper B combines his first attack (charge) with Trooper A’s second (Rhupert) attack. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the attack goes from MAT 6 POW 10 to MAT 8 POW 14 thanks to +2/+2 from the CMA and Brutal Charge. And, again, it’s a charge, so it’s MAT 8 POW 14 3d6 damage.

Trooper C combines with D, D combines with C, and so on, and so forth.

Long story short: two models get you two MAT 8 POW 14 3d6 charges.

“Oh, that doesn’t sound so bad,” I hear you say.

Did I mention this unit also had (what eventually came to be known as) Prey? :grin:

That’s right, kids! If you were charging your prey, each and every charge attack became effectively MAT 10 POW 16 3d6.

And this unit could perform twelve charge attacks like that, by themselves, and potentially in the middle of your opponent’s turn.

Now, if you were a real jerk*, you’d be sure to put your good pal Severius (or pServerius, not eSeverius, because this was before the days of character models officially having numerals!) there with Eye of Menoth for another passive +1/+1 to that, or sometimes just boring old pFeora with Ignite for a boring old twelve MAT 10 POW 18 3d6 attacks. (Plus, you know, ol’ Chieftain’s measly last-out-of-the-gate lone extra attack, which was a pitiful MAT 10 POW 12 base. What kind of loser is this guy, amirite?)

That’s right kids: for what would today be roughly 15 points, you’d get a dozen models that could put out a dozen as-good-as-or-better-than-warjack-quality out-of-turn attacks.

And, of course, when Warmachine MK II rolled around, these lovely sentences were added to the now-centralized Combined Melee Attack rules:


Those sentences sound familiar! :slight_smile: And that’s why waterfalling no longer exists, as one of the crazier and nuttier examples in a fun, beloved, but also very much of-its-time crazy and nutty rule set.

In Conclusion
That’s…uh…that’s pretty much how we got here. New rules were added to the game, which led to a situation that hadn’t been possible before (CMA with multiple weapons), somebody looked at something in a new light, something broke in an unexpected way, blah blah blah.

So. You know.


The end.

* And of course, this is the Protectorate we’re talking about, so… **

** Just kidding, Protectorate players! You know we love you! ***

*** But for real there’s a reason why the Protectorate is a ghost town now, yo.

**** “Now, wait,” I hear you say. “You’re a liar, Michael! MK I Satyxis Raiders had Combined Melee Attack! None of this is true! Everything we’ve been told to believe is nothing but a house of cards!”
Yes, it’s true that Satyxis Raiders had Combined Melee Attack from day 1, but they also had a “No Combined Melee Attacks With Horns” rule that prevented them from using their Horns in CMA attacks. So they could combine their whip attacks only, which meant they never were able to get into this situation. So there. :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, that’s one heck of a trip down the memory lane. Now I’d love to remember what I was saying yesterday in 2007, but memories get funny at my age. Four editions (and a remix) of Warmachine, five editions of Warhammer 40,000 (that’s from 1st to 5th, young ones), four of Warhammer Fantasy, five of D&D/AD&D and a cocktail that’s certainly not good for one’s health of other game systems, all bouncing around in a head otherwise filled with crushed hopes and dreams.

I still have a thick deck of those black and white Mk1 cards. I sometimes use them to support printed later-era cards so I can use regular print paper.

Those Idrian Skirmishers were a nasty bunch - but nothing compared to a mirror match of Khador with Iron Fleshed Kayazy Assassins. Those fellows had Riposte back then, so they needed double-sixes to hit each other, and on a miss triggered a Riposte attack, which on a miss triggered a Riposte attack, etc.

So, when one player finally rolled those double-sixes to hit, you moved onto the next model, went through the same process, and two days later, after finishing the unit’s activation, you called it a draw because neither player could remember whose turn it was.

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I’ll do you one better. :grin: MK I Assassins also had Ventilate. (When the assassin hit the target model, in addition to the damage roll, the target also suffered 1 extra point of damage for each other Kayazy Assassin in melee with the target.)

I heard tales from a local who ran a unit of Kayazy Assassins around a focus-camping ARM 24-ish Darius. Duelist and Iron Flesh made the Assassins DEF 19. Darius cast Full Throttle and made the mistake of attacking one assassin (“I only need 13’s to hit!”) and missing – at which point the unit Ventilated Darius to death during his own activation. :joy: