Monday, November 11, 2013

First Warmachine Battle

I finally got to play my first real Warmachine battle today. My opponent was a very nice guy who made a real effort to make sure I understood everything that was happening and every rule that came up, and to make the game educational by discussing strategies and giving me possibilities and options.

I had a 20 point list based on the old Kador starter box, which I picked up at my local hobby store. Right now I feel like I don't want to bother with infantry or high model counts, so I'm going for a jack-heavy list. Since Sorscha can support two jacks at best, I decided my next jack had to be able to run around on his own. That meant a Berserker or a Kodiak, and since the Berserker is cheaper and can also charge for free, I picked him. Then I stumbled onto the Man-O-War Kovnik. He can marshal up to two warjacks and can boost all their initial attack rolls. I figured if I put him in charge of both the Berserker and the Juggernaut, I could get the equivalent of up to 6 focus points out of him, and I could walk my heavy melee hitters up the board without putting Sorscha at risk - plus she'd have enough focus to actually cast spells. Thus my list ended up as:

- Destroyer (Fluffy)
Man-O-War Kovnik
- Juggernaut (Jughead)
- Berserker (The Abomination)

My opponent had just finished a larger game where he had been running Haley and a Stormwall, and he actually didn't have any other jacks with him, so instead he threw together a Cryx army on the spot using proxies and picking units from the main rule book (that I would have some familiarity with) based mainly on their points costs. I suspect he may have avoided picking too much infantry (going for a somewhat redundant second arc node instead) as he saw that I had very little anti-infantry in my list. For simplicity he picked identical light and heavy warjacks, and actually played a point down as well. His list was:

- Slayer
- Slayer
- Deathripper
- Deathripper
Max Mechanithralls

We played a simple caster-kill game. I won the roll-off and elected to go second. He placed his jacks in the middle of his zone and his thralls off to his right. I deployed Sorscha and the Destroyer opposite his thralls on my left, planning to hit them with AOEs, and the rest a little to my right, planning to charge his jacks.

Round 1

He gave his jacks a focus point each and ran everything forwards, moving one of the Deathrippers to stand with the thralls on my left.

I kept all Sorscha's focus for herself, then moved her forwards with Fluffy towards the thralls. Despite being out of range, she cast Tempest on the nearest thrall, but it deviated in the wrong direction. She then cast wind-rush to move back away. Fluffy scored first blood by killing two thralls with a bombard. I knew it would get me charged, but I ran the other three towards his jacks since I had to get them into the the fight or else he'd just move everything towards Sorscha.

Round 2

Next turn he distributed focus, then popped Asphyxious' feat to give him seven focus again. He cast Parasite on the Juggernaut to drop it's armour to 17, and hit my Kovnik with Hellfire (he may have boosted the damage), but luckily for me he rolled and 8 and my Kovnik only lost half his health. Then his Slayers charged my two warjacks. By the time he was done rolling, I had exactly column 6 left on both their damage grids.
Proxies abound, with two empty bases beating the snot out of Jughead and the Abomination.

The game had just started and he already left my heavy hitters with a single functioning arm each. Things did not look good. While discussing my strategy, he suggested that now would be a good time to use Sorscha's feat. Hmm, good thing he brought that up, I had completely forgotten about it. One feat later (and a quick wind-rush backwards later) and the only models in his entire army that weren't frozen were Asphyxious and a single thrall.
Sorscha's feat: she froze EVERYONE! Using a variety of different markers.
After some explanations about how trampling worked, I decided the most important thing to do on my left flank was to kill the Deathripper, so I used a focus-laden Fluffy the Destroyer to do just that. Meanwhile, my two invalids warjacks, with a single functioning axe-clutching arm each, beat his Slayers to near-death. My Kovnik followed this up by precisely delivering the exact amount of damage necessary to finish one off.

Round 3

With his heavy warjacks almost completely eliminated, and Sorscha (seemingly) safe behind a straw hut, things were looking up for me. But I was still to learn just how fast those evil little Cryxian arc nodes are. Moving Asphyxious up, he paid a focus point to get the Deathripper on my right moving and ran it down to where he had an angle on Sorcha. She was at defence 18, but I hadn't payed any attention to her facing after moving her so she had her back to the little mouser, He cast Hellfire and  boosted the attack and damage rolls to knock nine points of damage off her.
Having spent two focus on the Deathripper and five on the spell, he didn't have any left for his Slayer, and the rest of his army was left frozen.

I had a bit of a problem now. I wasn't going to be able to hide Sorscha from his Deathripper, leaving me with little choice but to try to kill it. I put three focus on the Destroyer, then spun Sorscha around and moved her into melee with the wretched little thing. Three focus points weren't enough to kill it, but they were enough to knock out it's movement, cortex, and arc node, rendering it harmless.
This freed up Fluffy to walk forwards and, ignoring a paltry four damage from a free strike, make a boosted attack roll to... completely miss Asphyxious. In retrospect I should have planned that better and not allocated Fluffy so much focus, as he was now left with two focus points he couldn't use. Oh well. The Abomination destroyed the last remaining Slayer with a single blow, and Jughead ran over the the first one's corpse towards the tantalizingly-close Asphyxious. The Kovnik, on the other hand, politely picked his way around it, then used his axe to shoot Asphyxious (as you do) for a little damage.
Revenge is a dish best served green!

Round 4

At this point I figured I had already won. He had nothing between his caster and my heavy hitters, and his thralls were too far away to pose a threat to mine. But there was a problem. In moving Sorscha towards his Deathripper earlier, I had given Asphyxious a line of sight. Moving forwards, he put all his focus into a single boosted Hellfire. Result? One roasted ice queen.
"Asphyxious" wins! Fatality!

I really enjoyed the game, and it cleared up some huge misconceptions I had about the rules. Again, my opponent was a great guy who was clearly focused on making this game fun and useful for me. I was a little miffed I hardly got to use my Kovnik's "Drive" ability despite it being the basis of my entire list, but coming back from the dead to wreck his Slayers more than made up for it. Thinking back, I don't remember if he counted the "firing into melee" penalty on that last shot. We played the "what-if" game anyway, in which Asphyxious was instantly killed by a rampaging Abomination, so I don't feel as if it made any different either way to my enjoyment of the game.

I forgot to ask what points levels people in this club normally play at, but my current plan is to bring my army up to 30 or 35 points in the next few weeks. I know Khador's strength is their infantry, but screw it, I'd rather just add another warjack. Although, after the beating my jacks took in this game, some mechanics sound like a good idea. And maybe a dog to watch Sorscha's back.

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