Interview with Jaden Iwaasa, Founder of Druid's Dice, Host on LOSWarmachine, and so much more.
Tseung Tsu: We’re here with Jaden Iwaasa, founder of Druid’s Dice. host of the Line of Sight Podcast, blogger on LOSWarmachine.com, spammer of the Grymkin Facebook group, and recent 2nd place finisher at Attack X! Jaden how are you? Thanks so much for joining us.
Jaden Iwaasa: Man, when you pile all of that together it sounds a lot more impressive than I actually am! Glad to be here, always happen to talk about Warmachine. I think the “Spammer of the Grymkin Facebook Group” is probably the most accurate title for me in the world.
TT: It’s a mouthful thats for sure! When I joined the Grymkin Facebook page I was warned of your spamming! I was first introduced to your writing on Druid’s Dice. Can we take a minute to discuss Druid’s Dice? How has the move to LOSWarmachine been? What Prompted the move?
JI: Oh man, that’s quite the reputation I’ve developed! I can’t help it at this point, if I haven’t posted something new to a facebook group in the last four to eight hours, my brain starts itching.
Druid’s Dice was my flailing attempt to keep myself thinking about my games critically. I had just moved to a new meta with a fairly non-existent player base, so for the first little while I spent a lot of my games building up the other guys to 75 point games and then to tournaments.
I honestly expected, after writing the first battle report and realizing that they take a solid 40 minutes to write, that I would be unable to keep going for more than a few weeks. Crazily, here I am 13 months later still going strong!
The move to Line of Sight has been extremely interesting. Getting used to a new content editing format has been strange. Squarespace is in some ways far simpler and easier to use than blogger was, but it also randomly doesn’t do a lot of things that I want to do easily.
Honestly the move was prompted by a confluence of events. My good friend Chandler had started up a Protectorate blog and we were starting to spur each-other on to put out regular content. At the same time, the Leyline podcast was becoming more and more erratic in terms of the number of casts, and we felt like the time was right for a new, topic driven podcast along with a consistent stream of well-written content.
Our eventual goal is to bring on more writers, hobbyists, and members of the community with the intent of becoming the Channelfireball.com of Warmachine and Hordes over the next few years.
I’d like to give a huge shout out to Bret, without whom our cast would be a shadow of what it is, and to our Patreon Patrons who have allowed Chandler and I to afford going to cons, get models for our factions, and have also kept us very consistent in putting out content.
TT: Awesome job on the cast so far, I really have enjoyed it. What ever you do Bret keep it up! Do you feel like Muse is trying to become the “channelfireball” of Warmachine? What made you try to start your own?
JI: Glad you’ve been liking it! As for Muse (Museonminis.com for those of you who don’t know about it yet), while I really love their content and the diversity of the podcasts that they host, I don’t feel like the website puts out as much written content. Channelfireball.com puts out something like 4 pieces of content a day, and much of it is written. For those of us who can’t necessarily listen to a podcast or watch a video, that is invaluable for the five minute break during a meeting, the passing period between classes at school, etc. We’re a very new website, less than four months old at this point, but we’ve put out a lot of (hopefully) quality written content, and this is just the beginning!
TT: Well keep me in mind if you’re ever looking for mediocre writers! I know it’s a lot more work than it seems, but a lot of people seem to start and stop podcasts. Can you give any advice to people looking to break into the Podcasting or even Video Casting?
JI: Will do, although I think you sell your writing a little short there sir.
I’m still looking for advice myself on the Podcast and Video Cast front - this is really my first one aside from a few guest appearances on the Leyline. I think the most important thing is to have a serious commitment to consistency, and to have very few expectations for feedback or supporters for the first little bit. Even coming in with hundreds of Druid’s Dice and Truth and Consequence readers, Line of Sight has taken off slowly. Give it time, produce the best content you can, and be consistent.
TT: Privateer Press has made a lot of changes in 2017. CID, Annual Faction Announcement, Embracing Theme Machine. Do any of these really jump out to you?
JI: While those are all really important topics, I think that CID has stood out the most to me. For a lot of Mark II, people would complain about never getting to have input on balancing the game. I think that Privateer Press has done a fantastic job of letting people into their process, while also maintaining the integrity of the game by keeping the overall health at the forefront of everything they do.
Even more than that, I think that the increased social media presence of several of their employees has been a huge deal this year - it humanizes the company and makes it very obvious that they are listening to their community.
TT: Do you feel at all like CID has increased the communities desire to nerf problems rather than solve them? I know locally there are a lot more “that's imbalanced” talks than “how can I play around that”.
JI: You know, I actually have noticed that trend come and then slowly die off. The “spirit” of Warmachine has always been the idea that everything is strong, so play something strong and go beat the tar out of it. The beginning of CID really lent itself to the idea of “please nerf” over that, but as time has gone on, people have readjusted and I think we are slowly coming back to the idea that the player is more important than the models again.
TT: I know you were a Press Ganger, I was a ganger ages ago. How do you think the game will continue to grow since the gang has been dissolved?
JI: This is a really hard one. I think it’s going to be more important than ever to foster positive communities. People are going to have to befriend other players and draw people into the game. Warmachine is hardly ever going to win out on models looks, the way our tables look, or even necessarily our narrative compared to other companies, but what we do have is a fantastic community of welcoming, helpful, excited people.
Leveraging that enthusiasm is, I think, going to be key for the game going forward.
TT: As a Grymkin player you’ve dealt with a lot of new models recently. What are your thoughts on the “resin” from Privateer Press? You mention we’re never going to win on model looks. Why is that?
JI: Most of the Grymkin line was absolutely delightful for me, with the notable exception of the Dreadrots. True resin kits from Privateer Press tend to be extremely nice, but their restic plastic is very hit or miss.
As for model looks, I feel that has two parts. First of all, Warmachine is a much newer game than Warhammer, which means that the best painters typically focus on Warhammer models since that’s what they started with. Further, Games Workshop has repeatedly hammered (ha!) on the idea that they are a model company first, and their models are amazing.
Compounding on that, the steampunk look isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine.
Privateer Press has come out with a ton of amazing sculpts over the years, but Games Workshop has many more total and their top-line kits are jaw dropping.
TT: I know Grymkin aren’t getting any new toys, but what are your thoughts on the 12 factions of Christmas?
JI: I absolutely love the concept. With the way that releases have shifted from a yearly thing for each faction to a dedicated release every 14 ish months with a lot of content, having something guaranteed every year coming out for your faction is a great feeling. It’s also a fantastic way to include things in CID that might not make it in for months otherwise. I’m super excited for all of those models to come out.
TT: It will be a welcome change not to have to wait a year plus for new toys! So what made you leave the grassy knolls of Circle for Grymkin?
JI: Man that’s a tough question. I’ve already given my thoughts on the state of Circle in many other places, but I’ll leave it at this: I don’t feel like Circle plays anything like the faction was advertised. To clarify, I grew very tired of looking at my vast Circle collection and realizing that the best way to utilize them was to play a gunline. It’s fun for a while, but it’s not what I wanted to play, and so when Grymkin got closer and closer to coming out I started looking at them.
TT: Was there a model in Grymkin that just called out to you? Or was it something rules based?
JI: In a word, Arcana. I love, love, love being able to tailor my list to never have a seriously horrible matchup (except maybe Abby 2). I think they make Grymkin the highest skill-cap faction in the game, which is something that I really enjoy. None of the models really stood out to me until I saw them in person and realized that, for example, the Skin and Moans is a massive model. At that point, I was pretty sold.
TT: I have LOVED the arcana system so far. Coupled with ADR I feel like Grymkin have an incredible flexibility going into any match. I know you played out of ADR for Attack X. What are your thoughts of Grymkin and ADR?
JI: I absolutely love playing Grymkin on ADR, and the vast majority of the time I think it is correct to do so. Being able to tailor your beast or solo load out given a specific matchup in addition to picking your Arcana means that you will almost never feel disadvantaged in a game, which is a pretty exceptional feeling.
The main reason I played outside of ADR for Attack X was simply wanting to play some games with the Wanderer into a lot of different matchups. While I certainly don’t regret playing him, I think in the future I’ll probably stick to an ADR pairing, preferably one that I’ve played at least a few times!
TT: How are you selecting Arcana? Obviously the game is very different based on Arcana selections. If you’re not playing a list you’re prepared for what goes through your mind?
JI: I kind of have a mental checklist when thinking about Arcana. There are a couple that I don’t think I will ever pick outside of some very specific cases (such as Accursed), and then I kind of group them into what they’re good into.
Shroud and Sacrifice are amazing into gunlines, Pandemonium and Desolation are my go to's for Infantry Swarms. Fortunes Path is excellent if you don’t really have a damage or accuracy buff, and Ill Omens can make your ARM skew basically impossible to crack. Ruin will almost always be in my pair against casters with strong spell lists or lots of upkeeps, and it is also quite excellent into Hordes lists that rely on their animi (I’ve Ruined Far Strike on a Titan Cannoneer and purified off three upkeeps at the same time for example).
Honestly with Arcana, there are very few lists that I feel unprepared for. I think Grymkin have about 50% games into most everything out there, with player skill and dice mitigation being the deciding factors, and I like playing the game on those terms.
TT: Heading into a large SteamRoller2017 event like Attack X what were your thoughts? I read on your blog, you hadn’t even practiced the lists!?!
JI: So...honestly my thoughts were “What am I going to play?? What am I going to play??”. I’m a school teacher, and the school year started a week and a half before Attack-X, which means that I hadn’t been able to play a practice game in nearly three weeks by the time Attack-X rolled around.
I ultimately decided to play Patrick Dunfords WTC Heretic list because I really, really like the idea of Frightmares plus Reckoning, and I also love playing a caster that’s more or less unkillable.
Pairing with that, I decided that there was no better time to get some practice with the Wanderer than in a big event.
I did get one game with each of them before the Masters event started, but I went in pretty dry. My advice? Don’t do that. I was fighting the lack of muscle memory all day, and I definitely think my inexperience with my lists was a contributor to my loss in the final.
TT: You played against the legendary Tim Banky ghost fleet, with a very unpracticed (for you) Heretic list. Would you mind talking a bit about how Grymkin can play into Ghost Fleet, and Cryx in general?
JI: Playing against Tim was a surreal experience. The guy is so incredibly nice, but I still felt a massive amount of pressure since he is also an incredible player. We had a 20-30 person audience the entire game, which was a bit of a new experience for me.
The reason that I think Grymkin can play so well into most of Cryx right now (this will change once their new Black Industries theme force drops) are three-fold. First of all, their Warlocks are (generally) extremely hard to kill, which removes some of the Ghost Fleet win condition right there. Also, the two heavy warbeasts under a Death Knell are still ARM 19 when Denny feats, which is a pretty high number for pow 10-13 shooting to chew through. In addition to that, the heavy warbeasts RFP on each attack, which completely guts the recursion element of both Dark Host and Ghost Fleet.
That was actually my first time playing into Ghost Fleet as my local group doesn’t have a Cryx player. I did a lot of battle report watching and reading the night before the game, and that definitely helped.
TT: For more detailed information be sure to check out the Attack X articles on LOSwarmachine. You said something very interesting after Attack X and earlier in this interview. It was something along the lines of, “God I hate ABBY2 why does she exist?” Could you expand on what makes her a problem for us, and the steps we can take to combat her.
JI: I don’t know if I went THAT extreme, but yes, Absylonia 2 is a bit of a problem for Grymkin as a faction. Her army out threats, outhits, and out accuracies Grymkin heavies, and Blight Wasps are a big problem for the infantry lists.
JVM (Jake Van Meter) thinks that the Wanderer and infantry (or just infantry) in general is the best thing we have into Abby 2, and I’m definitely planning on playtesting a bunch into that matchup before Warmachine Weekend because if I make it through the LCQ, he’ll be one of the players I’ll have to compete with.
TT: Do you have an internet group you dojo with? Or does someone in your position end up talking shop nonstop on social media?
JI: I have some local guys that like to bounce lists off of me, and I talk with the other Line of Sight hosts a lot since we all have similar understandings of the meta. Lately, with the exposure I’ve gotten through my blog and podcast, I’ve been able to approach incredible players like Tim Banky, Jake Van Meter, Patrick Dunford, etc. and get their take on things as well, which has been an incredible resource and I cannot thank them enough.
TT: It seems like 2017 has been a great year for you and Warmachine. What are you looking forward to for the foreseeable future?
JI: I agree, 2017 has been my breakout year, making day 2 at a few big events and introducing myself to a lot of really amazing Warmachine players in the process.
I actually have a fairly packed schedule for Warmachine over the next six months. I’m planning on attending Jeffcon, which is an Iron Gauntlet Qualifier, in Seattle in a couple of weeks, and then the i5 Team Championship event at the end of October. Warmachine Weekend is in November, ATC is in January, and then the Las Vegas Open in February. I’m very excited to keep playing a whole bunch, and I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to as much as I have.
TT: As we wrap this up do you have any advice for the aspiring “national” level player out there? I know a lot of people are doing well locally but just haven’t made the jump yet.
JI: Play in as many events as you can, and learn from as many excellent players as possible. Don’t be unwilling to take advice. Also, the best Warmachine players are the nicest, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a coincidence.
TT: Well Jaden thank you again for taking the time! Been great to get to know you a little bit more and look forward to doing this again sometime! You guys can keep up with Jaden at LOSWarmachine.com and if you want to support Jaden and the rest of the gang be sure to check out their Patreon.