As Barrett and I are preparing to play in our first official MK II Escalation campaign, the subject of play experience comes to mind. During the next couple of months, we're both going to be using casters that we've never played with nor played against. The idea behind it is, to familiarize yourself with your army and your opponents by table top experience. By the end of the campaign, you should have a good idea of what your caster, units, and solos can do as well as your opponents.
The campaign is mere days away, and as far as I know, Barrett is taking Darius. The only thing I know about Darius is, he likes jacks and can create these little half jacks that look like they're sad. With the release of the MK II PDFs, I have the ability to find out exactly what Darius does and speculate what type of jacks he’ll bring. But do I really want to? If I were to look up what Darius' stats are, I think I'd be selling myself short the element of surprise and fun when playing against him. Plus, I think its better to learn by your mistakes rather than memorizing stats, it’s a more dramatic effect.
That's part of the fun of playing Warmachine and Hordes, facing off against the mass variety of warcasters and warlocks and not knowing what to expect. For instance, my first tourney I ever played in, my first match was against Cryx, with Goreshade being the caster. I asked the guy "what's his specialty?", and he answered "his feat brings a whole unit of Bane Thralls on the table". That was a pretty cool moment for me in gaming, the whole element of "uhhh ok what am I going to do now".
In the end, I think it comes down to play style, and for all intents and purposes I’m a casual gamer. I like to build my lists ahead of time, with the intent of playing the figs I want to play and see how they match up against my opponent. The best part of this is, not knowing what you’re going to face and having to make your army work the way you designed it. You’ll get plenty of surprise moments too, like Kaya2’s “Against All Odds” ability in MKI. I’ll never forget the first time I played against her, the beginning of the round two, I had Reznik surrounded by five choir guys, two jacks, and a vassal. Moments later, Kaya teleported in with the help of Laris, from what seemed to be 20” away, then Reznik disappeared.
If you decide to go this route, it might be a tough go in the beginning but it’ll definitely be fun, for you and/or your opponent.