Sunday, March 9, 2014

Khador vs another game entirely

I played a couple of games against another player in my club. He was playing Legion, and to be honest I found the games rather frustrating. I'll talk about why after the actual battle reports, it's as much to do with my personal hang-ups as it is anything else I suppose, but I can't quite seem to shake it. Anyway, I brought a very slightly modified version of my previous Sorscha list:
Prime Sorscha
- Destroyer
- Black Ivan
- Sylys Wyshnalyrr
Man-O-War Kovnik
- Berserker
- Demolisher
Koldun Lord
- Juggernaut
Battle Mechanics (max)
- Battle Mechanic Officer (UA)

I decided to try the Demolisher instead of the Spriggan this time, and since that freed up a point I swapped the dog for Sylys in order to buff Sorscha's spells to help deal with infantry.

He was playing:
Thagrosh (the Messiah I guess)
- Carnivean
- Scythean
- Ravagore
- Angelius
Blighted Legionnaires
Spawning Vessel
two Forsaken

Game 1
I suggested we play the SR2014 scenario with the three flags, as I didn't want to play simple caster-kill and the flags seemed simple enough. We tied the initial roll-off, then I won the re-roll. After going first every time last few games, I wanted to go second this time.

He deployed centrally, with his infantry off to my right a little. Having a big chunk of rough terrain and three flags to worry about, I couldn't exactly deploy centrally, so I put the majority of my force opposite the heavies, and the Juggernaut and Koldun Lord on the other side so it looked like I was going to use them to tie up the infantry - in fact I was hoping for a chance to bring them back over to the center and hit him in the side. For some reason. I don't really know how that would help, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Kell went in the forest opposite the infantry.

Round 1
Dudes moved. I ran the Berseker forwards thinking that since he was certain to die soon anyway, he could at least do it drawing them out. The Juggernaut and Koldun ran up their side, and Kell moved to the edge of the forest (pointlessly since the Legionnaires don't have ranged attacks). The two Destroyers moved up onto the hill and shot (at the Angelius I believe), but I don't think they did much. I even shot with the Demolisher even though it only has an 8" range, on the off-chance the deviation did something - I figured, hey, why not? Yes, I know, some of now have a red mark on your forehead where you smacked your face with your palm. Finally we rolled and the flag on my left disappeared.
Everybody advanced. The flag on the left disappeared.

Round 2
He moved his warbeasts up to the flag. He might have done some healing on the Angelius. The Ravagore shot at my Demolisher and did something like 11 damage as it was open because I had taken that useless shot last turn. Ugh. I think he may have done a few points of damage to the Berserker, probably with the Carnivean.
I hate seeing four heavy Warbeasts walk forwards in a line.

I allocated two focus to each of the Destroyers, who I moved up and shot at the Shepherd. This first boosted attack missed. Black Ivan went next and hit; I think he killed it without needing a damage roll, so each Destroyer was left with a wasted point of Focus. For some reason that makes me sad.

I realised here that I could probably reach the warbeasts with the Berserker, but that would put it out of jack-marshall range of the Kovnik, and I had foolishly not left him enough room to get past the Mechanics, but I wanted to move the mechanics up to the Demolisher and Berserker to try to repair them before they activated, so I couldn't get them out of the way, and I couldn't get the Demolisher out of the way because I wanted to use the Kovnik's drive ability on him before he activated. After consulting with my opponent we decided that the Kovnik could Drive then run; I'm not too sure about this but he said it was legal, so I figured I could run behind the mechanics after moving them.

Sorscha cast Boundless Charge on the Berserker. I activated the mechanics and moved the officer (who repairs on a 9-) and another mechanic up to the Berserker, and two mechanics over to the Demolisher. Only one mechanic passed his repair roll, and it wasn't even the officer. Sigh. I think he repaired two points of damage. Anyway, the Kovnik used his Drive successfully on both warjacks, then ran around the mechanics. The Demolisher walked forwards and shot at the Ravagore. Both shots hit, but even with a boosted damage roll it did very little damage. The Berserker then charged the Scythean, did a little damage (not very much), knocking him down with his headbutt, but took some damage back from Spiny Growth.

For some reason I ran the Juggernaut over as well; I guess I figured I needed him if I was to have a chance of dealing with that bunch of heavies, and figured I would just have to hope he could survive a charge from the Ravagore without taking too much damage. Besides, I figured if he moved the Ravagore at him I might be able to charge him with the Demolisher later. For lack of anything better to do I killed a couple of Legionnaires with Kell - I wasn't too sure what to expect from the Spawning Vessel, but I decided I could afford to kill just two since it needs three tokens to spawn something.
It has begun!

Round 3
The Carnivian finished off the Berserker, freeing up the Ravagore to shoot at the Juggernaut. The Legionnaires charged at the Juggernaut and Koldun Lord, and a couple that couldn't reach charged their own teammates. They killed the Koldun and a couple of their own peeps, giving the Spawning Vessel an extra token. It activated, moved forwards, and spawned a Shredder. Turns out the Shredder can activate that same turn, which it did, charging and killing Kell. Damn, I need to learn how to keep that guy alive.

Thagrosh then used his feat, before charging the Juggernaut. He was careful to position Thagrosh where he could use reach to hit the Juggernaut, but the Juggernaut could not reach him - even if I walked it around the Legionnaire it would probably die from free strikes. Assuming of course that it survived the attack. Which it did not.

The Carnivean and/or Angelius then destroyed the Demolisher. I guess it also killed some mechanics. After he was done, he used the free move and attack from the feat to reposition some models; bringing the Shredder back over to the flag, the Scythean closer to Sorscha, and possibly kill a mechanic with the Carnivean. With his turn over, he scored two control points for the flags.
All my models die in one turn. The empty base is the Angelius.

At this point I didn't have much left to do but go down swinging, so I gave three focus to each Destroyer and moved Sorscha forwards to use her feat, freezing the three nearby warbeasts. Sylys moved up to shield her. The Kovnik then charged the Angelius, doing something like 17 damage and killing it. The Destroyer charged the Scythean and ran out of focus with the damned thing on a single hit box left. I had been hoping to kill it so I could charge Black Ivan into the Carnivean, but I didn't think he could kill it so my choice was between having two fully functional heavy warbeasts left next turn or just the one. Sigh. So I charged the Scythean and finished it off. The mechanics then charged the Carnivean, doing no damage but at least getting in it's way.

Then I discovered that my opponent also scores points for controlling flags in my turn as well as his own. Unbelievable as it sounds, I didn't know that, and just assumed that each player scored in his turn. Which meant that he now had four points, and the only way for him to not win the next turn was to deliberately move his models away from the flags. So yeah, we stopped there.
Game over man, game over!

Game 2
After the last game I decided to try swapping around my jacks a little to try to give me more punch. He suggested I run the Destroyer with the Koldun Lord, which I decided to try. I swapped Black Ivan for a Decimator and put it in Sorscha's battlegroup with the Juggernaut, leaving the Kovnik with the Demolisher and Berserker again.

We swapped table sides and rolled off. It was a draw (again), then I won the re-roll (again). I chose to go second again.

He deployed exactly the same way again. This time I split my force a little more evenly as I now understood I couldn't afford to ignore a flag. The heavy hitters went opposite his warbeasts, the Kovnik's group were on the other side of the hill, and the Destroyer went directly opposite the infantry with the hopes of shooting at his Spawning Vessel before it could start vomiting gribblies. The mechanics were split between the groups with the Officer in the middle to hold them together. I put Kell on my left this time, hoping he would ignore him in order to focus his heavies on more dangerous models.

Round 1
Dudes ran. Kell banked hard left in the hopes of getting past his warbeasts or drawing one off a little in the off chance that would delay it getting back in to the fight. Sorscha cast Fog of War.
This time I decide to pay attention to the flags.

Round 2
He moved his stuff forwards. The Angelius moved off a little and killed Kell with a ranged attack that I don't think I knew it had. I had careless moved the Kovnik up too far and not hidden him properly, so he took a shot with the Ravagore. It ignored Fog of War because he has eyeless sight. Sigh. Why did I bother with that spell again? Luckily for me the shot only did 4 damage, although it did also kill a mechanic.

I moved up the Destroyer and took a shot at the Spawning Vessel. I did a respectable amount of damage, but not enough to kill it. I did however kill all but one with the blast damage - some lucky rolling there. It was of course ready to spawn now, but it's collection range and mobility were severely cut down so it was less of a threat.
I may have forgotten to allocate focus at the start of my turn...

The Berserker ran up to contest the flag, the Kovnik moved out of the caustic AOV, used his Drive, and shot at a Legionnaire - the Spawning Vessel was already full after all. The mechanics moved up to fix him up to full health (which they can do thanks to the Officer attachment), which unfortunately meant I had to move the rest of the unit to the right as well, but oh well. I also moved Sylys over, thinking he was one of the mechanics for a moment. This is what happens when you don't paint your figures.

The Demolisher got as far behind the fence as he could and shot his grenades. I considered shooting at Thagrosh instead, reasoning that when he passed on the damage it would end up hurting more wherever it ended up as his armour was lower than any of the warbeasts near me, especially as they has spiny growth up. I decided against it in the end as his defense was higher, I wasn't sure he was in range, and my opponent told me about an ability where he can spawn things if he takes damage himself. Instead I targeted the Carnivean and did... not very much.

The Decimator flanked left and shot at something - I don't remember what, it probably missed as it only had one focus on it; I had given three to the Juggernaut and cast Boundless Charge on him.

So here's my moment. For some reason he has let me get close enough to get the charge. I know the Juggernaut won't survive charging three heavy warbeasts, but this is the best chance I'm going to get to kill something like the Scythean - if he can reach, the Juggernaut is the heaviest hitter in Khador short of the Behemoth or Beast. So yeah, I load him up with focus and cast Boundless Charge so he can make the distance and charge for free. I don't feat as I'd rather save it and he shouldn't need it, plus I don't want to move Sorscha too far forwards - the Carnivean, Ravagore, and Angelius all have pretty decent threat range.

So I charge the Juggernaut. He makes the distance - it's almost exactly 9 inches, and I'm pretty pleased with myself at this point for judging the range so well, something that I'm normally pretty crap at. The Scythean had def 11, so I'm hitting on fives, which are pretty damned good odds. I miss the charge attack.
The Juggernaut charges in for the kill...

Sigh. I jokingly claim that I hadn't said which arm I was attacking with, but it's just a joke of course, I roll the second attack with the fist. It connects and does a little damage, but I take almost as much back from Spiny Growth. I buy three more axe attacks, but only two hit. So here's where I am right now:
... and embarrasses all of Khador. Seriously, that's not right.

My big charge with my heaviest hitter, using a total of five focus - almost all I have - does a grand total of twelve damage. And I take six damage back. In my own turn, from my own charge. Sigh.

Now I need to stop here for a moment to try to describe just how upset this made me. If my heaviest hitter, with all the advantages I can give him, using all my resources, could barely manage to scratch just one of his four heavies on the charge, and took half as much damage in return, then what hope did I ever have in this game in the first place? Why was I even here? Why had I spent all this time (which I don't have a lot of right now) and money (which I don't have a lot of right now) and effort (which... well, I'm pretty lazy) for this?

I very nearly just conceded right there, and said as much to my opponent, but that's not in keeping with the spirit of the game, so I tried to just move on and keep playing, making jokes and so on as we went, but the fun had gone out of it for me at that point and I think it showed.

Round 3
I don't remember specifically what killed what here, but he killed the Juggernaut, the Demolisher, and both Men-O-War. The pot spawned something that had reach (he wouldn't have been able to hit the Berserker without it) which charged the Berserker. I think the Angelius took a shot at Sorscha and missed or didn't do much damage. He probably scored a control point as well.
My stuff starts dying again.

I used Sorscha's feat here as I figured it was now or never - all it did was help the Decimator kill the Angelius as it has a very high defense, although he has Sustained Attack so I probably could have managed without it really. Or maybe not, the way things were going. The Koldun Lord used power booster on the Destroyer, who put a bit of hurt on the Carnivean (I think he took out one aspect, which of course means nothing at all), but didn't bother to move as I didn't see the point. The Mechanics jammed up the Scythean and the Ravagore to stop them from getting to Sorscha and the Decimator. Again he scored off the central flag.
Well, at least I killed the Angelius.

He finally finished off the mechanics, Berserker, and Destroyer, though he used all his Legionnaires to do it, meaning the Koldun Lord was spared. He also moved a couple of models over to the flag, so this turn he scored two points, meaning he was up to four.
There go the Berserker and Destroyer.

He suggested that the Koldun Lord's spray attack had enough range and was powerful enough to do some damage to Thagrosh, and with the Decimator it might be enough to kill him, even with two fury for transfers. Seeing as he only needed one more point to win it was obvious that there wasn't much else I could do. But just for the hell of it, I moved up and killed a Legionnaire first with the Koldun Lord and used his Battle Wizard ability to cast the spell. I was sure I was going to fail to kill the Legionnaire, but I didn't see as it would make any difference really. I may also have gotten the range of Frostbite (8 inches) mixed with the range of Ice Cage (10 inches), I'm not sure. It doesn't matter since it did a whole 1 point of damage to Thagrosh.

I could either boost one attack and one damage roll or both attack rolls with the Decimator. In retrospect with power 15 against armor 17 (and with him using fury to transfer) I should have boosted both attack rolls, but I wasn't exactly in the mood to do the math just then and I boosted the first damage roll. The second attack missed obviously.

At this point I realized that Sorscha might just be in charge range. Had I considered the option ahead of time I probably would have positioned the Decimator out of her charge path, but it didn't occur to me at the time, and she only just made the charge going around him. Of course she had to use Wind Rush and was left with only one focus, which wasn't enough. With my turn over he scored the last point and won the game.
Oh well, at least I have one warjack left.

Post game thoughts
I did not realise he could score in my turn, which is partly why I completely ignored his infantry first match - I didn't think he would make that many points off it, so I thought I could sacrifice those points in order to have a chance at dealing with his warbeasts. My mistake.

He missed something like three attacks in total over the course of both games, thanks to Signs and Portents. That hurts.

I wonder if it would have been better to leave all the focus on Sorscha for the charge? At least she would have had a chance of freezing him then not needing to boost attack rolls. Whatever, I doubt it would have been enough the way my dice were rolling.

It wasn't that I rolled really badly on the juggernaut, in fact rolling all ones might have been funny. No, I just rolled a little below average, and that was it. My best chance of doing any damage at all to his warbeasts was scuppered by a couple of below average rolls. That's what makes it so depressing: it just feels like I never had a chance to begin with. It's not that my opponent was trying to club baby seals or anything, his list was just much more powerful than mine I guess. Obviously he's a much better player as well.

And now for the rant
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I understand that I'm still new to the game, I lack experience and I still don't fully understand the rules. I know that the synergy is a big part of the game, and that clever use of support units and abilities can create very powerful combinations that will always feel "overpowered" when compared to normal units that aren't being used to their full potential, and that the point is to find the right combinations to boost your own army's power levels or counter theirs, and I just don't know enough to do that yet, so of course it will feel like I don't have a chance. So this rant isn't a criticism of the game, I guess this is just me venting about how frustrating it feels to a beginner when he get steamrolled.

Having got all that out of the way, lets talk again about the difference between Warmachine and Hordes. I've said some of this before, but let's not worry about that and start again as I've had more experience against Hordes since then.

First of all, Fury. Unlike Focus, Fury is essentially used twice: one by the Warbeast being forced, and once by the Warlock to cast spells and buy attacks and boost and heal. In other words, Hordes armies fundamentally have twice as much resources as Warmachine armies. In a single turn a Fury six Warlock can spend six Fury AND his Warbeasts can be forced six times, while a Focus 6 Warcaster can either spend six Focus OR give it to his Warjacks to use.

But that's not actually true; in a single turn the Warlock could spend six Fury and his Warbeasts can also generate much more than six fury. Yes, there will be consequences next turn, but he has that option, while Warmachine armies don't.

In these two games my opponent had three other models in his army that could take focus from his Warbeasts, and I think he could have included at least one more Nyss Shepherd. I don't know how much Fury the Forsaken can take, but I know the Shepherds can take three, so that's another six plus Fury the army can make use of without issue. Yes, Warmachine armies have some ways of generating a little more Focus, but nothing nearly as powerful: models with Power Booster (which you can only take only one of in Cygnar or Khador) can only give one Focus to a Warjack that doesn't already have any, Jack Marshals give the equivalent of a Focus point (almost, you can't use it to trigger special abilities some Warjacks have that specifically use Focus) and can sometimes give them other advantages, etc. But the problem is all these just allow you to run most jacks at about half their full potential. OK, Cygnar has a Journeyman Warcaster, and other armies are as we speak getting their own equivalents, but those are still only one per army at best, and Legion can get two Shepherds plus the Forsaken.

What's more, Jack Marshals and Journeymen Warcasters can only help Warjacks in their own battlegroups, which means you don't get the advantages of being in the Warcaster's battlegroup (many spells and feats affect specifically models in their battlegroup). Of course if the Marshal or Journeyman dies, the jacks are practically crippled. I'm not sure about this, but it seemed as if the Shepherds and Forsaken were taking Fury from models that were still in the Warlock's battlegroup, meaning that they still had all the advantages of being in a single battlegroup, and if the Shepherds died then the Warlock could still manage those Warbeasts.

As I've mentioned before, the fact that Hordes armies don't have to allocate at the start of the turn the way Warmachine armies do means they are less likely to waste Fury; when allocating Focus to Warjacks you need to judge how much they need at the start of the turn, and if you misjudge (remember dice rolls make a huge difference in what you achieve; it might take two attacks to kill something or it might take five), while Warbeasts can just keep being forced until they achieve what you needed them to, then you move on, so nothing is wasted. Plus some heavy Warbeasts can be forced up to four or even five times, while Warjacks can only be allocated three Focus.

When a Warlock camps Fury he can use it to transfer a lot of damage for a single Fury point - I think in my first game against Legion the Warlock transferred something like fifteen points of damage from a single attack for a single Fury point. Warcasters just get an armour boost, so two or three points of camped Focus does rather little for their survivability, while it makes a Warlock practically unkillable, short of charging him with an entire unit. Plus of course they can afford to camp Fury better than a Warcaster can. An additional benefit of this is that they can much more easily move up the board and be in range to use their Fury where it's needed.

What this all means is that WARLOCKS HAVE AT LEAST TWICE AS MUCH RESOURCE AS WARCASTERS, AND THEY USE IT MORE EFFICIENTLY, AND WITH LESS RESTRICTIONS AND DISADVANTAGES. Yes I know they can suffer a lack of Fury if they run low on warbeasts, but even then they are not without options.

The fact that Warlocks can more easily move up the field without dying not only puts them in a better position to use their Fury, it also puts them in a better position to dominate objectives and zones, meaning it gives them an advantage when playing a scenario. Of course the fact that they are harder to kill means they have an advantage in non-scenario games. In other words WARLOCK HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL ADVANTAGE FOR SCORING AND WINNING IN ALL TYPES OF GAME.

So it turns out Warbeasts have something called an "Animus", which is a spell they can cast. However, it seems that the Warlock can also cast the spell as if he had it. This means that you're not limited to only the spells your Warlock has on his card, you can also pick specific spells you want by including the appropriate Warbeast in your army. A few Warjacks have special abilities that can be compared to an Animus in that they use Focus, but these aren't added to a Warcaster's arsenal. Plus, those ablities cost the Warjacks focus, taking it out of the limited amount you can allocate to them, but the fact that a Warlock can cast an Animus can sometimes allow you to cast it on a Warbeast without "costing" the Warbeast itself Fury, so it can still use all it's Fury for combat.

Warlocks can heal Warbeasts from a distance using Fury. To heal a Warjack you normally need Mechanics, who have to be in base contact and pass a skill check. While it doesn't cost Fury, and typically has the potential to repair a lot more damage in a turn, it costs points to buy the mechanics, and it's harder than it sounds to actually pull off as a Warjack will often charge ahead, but mechanics need to move then use their action to repair so they can't move as far as a charging Warjack. Plus they die easily, and can sometimes get in the way when you're trying so hard to keep them near your Warjacks. In all my games with mechanics I've almost never had them make any difference. In the first game I failed three out of four repair checks, in the second game I think I failed one out of two. Plus Shepherds can do some healing too, so Hordes armies also have ways to increase their healing abilities. Overall Hordes armies ALWAYS have healing potential, and it's easier and more reliable for them, while Warmachine armies have to buy it and can loose it and can fail to do it.

Warbeasts have a life spiral and Warjacks have a damage grid. One of the differences between them is that Warbeasts have three "aspects", of which at most two can be crippled (by the time the third aspect is crippled it's dead), while Warjacks typically have at least four systems and sometimes have more, and it is possible to lose all the systems before being destroyed (some models have abilities that target specific systems). This alone is not exactly a disadvantage; a warjack is often less concerned about losing a single arm than a Warbeast is about losing it's Body aspect. However, it never takes more than a two Fury to heal a Warbeast back to full function, but a Warjack will often need more boxes to be repaired in order to go back to full function. Also, the way the system boxes are arranged and thanks to some special abilities like Critical Amputation, it's actually kinda easier to take out a system than an aspect. OK, these aren't big deals, but combined with how easily a Warlock can heal his Warbeasts, it feels like it can make a difference.


These conclusions refer to the base rules of the two games, and mainly concern Warlocks/Warcasters and Warbeasts/Warjacks. I'm not aware of any differences between the rules for infantry and solos, so unless there are inherent advantages to infantry in Warmachine, then the two rule sets do not seem balanced and Hordes seems to be more powerful.

This conclusion is based only on the main rules and not on specific instances. It is still possible for the two games to be balanced based on the individual rules and abilities of the specific models in the various armies. I don't know if that is really the case, I have been told that it is and I am willing to believe it, but so far it just doesn't feel that way to me.

So let's talk infantry. There's two things to consider: the quality of infantry in the different armies, and the ability of the Warcaster/Warlock to support that infantry. First of all, the only Hordes infantry I've seen were not very impressive, but we're only talking about two or three different units and they were cheap and did some work, so I can't really say either way.

Second, I don't know how about the prevalence of infantry support spells in Hordes, but I do know that Signs and Portents was brutal in those two games. It buffs the entire army, making them all hit reliably and hard, so as far as I know you can have a Hordes army that supports it's infantry well. I know the spell is available in Warmachine armies, but I believe it's one of the best support spells around, and Hordes has it. Also, and this is a big deal, Warlocks can better afford to cast these spells because, as discussed, they have more resources. Signs and Portents costs the Kador warcaster Vladimir four Focus, leaving him with just three to spend on his Warjacks, while Thagrosh can cast it, have all his Warbeasts go all out, and still camp three Fury.

Now that we've starting talking about specifics, let me talk about Legion. So I guess all, or at least most of, their Warbeasts have Pathfinder? Eyeless Sight seems to be quite prevalent as well. So they just ignore all the difficulties and and defensive abilities other armies have to deal with? A slight exaggeration of course, but my Warjacks have speed 4, so difficult terrain is really crippling  so much of the time, and they're all RAT 4 so even a little bit of added defense means I'm almost guaranteed to miss. Legion doesn't give a damn.

Speaking of, all his heavy Warbeasts were speed 6. Except for the Angelius, which was speed 7. Yes, most Kador warcasters have some way of giving at least one Warjack a speed boost and/or pathfinder under some circumstances (usually when charging), but it's generally expensive, situational, and not guaranteed. More mobility is a massive advantage, and most of his Warbeasts' other stats were also equal or higher, and they all got more attacks - additional and sometimes even initial (the Carnivean gets three initials melee attacks AND an assault spray attack, and they could all buy up to four extra melee attacks). The only thing my Warjacks had on them was resilience (armour and perhaps damage boxes), and of course he had Spiny Growth for that.

Now I need to talk about Spiny Growth. First of all, I get the impression that most factions have a way to buff their Warjacks/Warbeasts in whatever area they are weakest, and rarely in whatever area they are strongest. So ironically Khador Warjacks, which are supposed to about the most resilient around, almost never get armour buffs (I think Harkevich's feat is the only thing I know that can do it), while other factions with lower armour stats can buff their armour to exceed that of Khador Warjacks. I guess it's fair, it's not like it's free after all, althoug it just feels annoying sometimes - at least it can feel like your Warjacks are not performing as promised by the fluff. And Spiny Growth isn't the biggest armour boost around. But! Spiny Growth doesn't just buff armour.

No, Spiny Growth does more than that. When you hit a model that has Spiny Growth up, you take D3 damage.

This is kind of a big deal. You see, Warmachine has two basic systems that protect you from damage. Defense and Armour. Some models rely on a high defense but have low armour, while others rely on their armour and have low defense, and of course most are somewhere in between. The point is there's a sort of rock-paper-scissors system for choosing the right weapon for the right job, and the right strategy to keep your models alive; some units or models are good at punching through armour but likely to miss high defense models, some units or models have high accuracy or put out a large volume of shots and so have a good chance of hitting even high defense models, but aren't powerful enough to have much chance of killing high armour models. And so on.

And yes, there's a few special abilities and weapons that can completely bypass one or the other. Electro-leap and blast damage hit automatically (sort of). Snipe and Anatomical Precision can ignore armour. However, things like Electro-leap and blast damage usually have low power and aren't very good against high armour targets. Things like Snipe and Anatomical Precision still have to hit, and they only do one damage point so most tough targets aren't too scared.

The point is, all these ignore only one of the two defensive systems, I don't know of anything in the entire game that ignores both defense and armour... EXCEPT SPINY GROWTH! It doesn't matter if my movement system is crippled and I'm DEF 7 or if I'm at DEF 24 (for example Nyss Hunters with Iron Flesh attacking from behind a low wall), or if I'm at ARM 10 or ARM 28 (for example the Centurion with Arcane Shield and Stryker's feat), it does exactly the same amount of damage. D3.

Again, that might not sound like much, but think about it. If I hit him five times with a Warjack - and in my experience an ARM 20 heavy usually takes at least four or five hits to kill - that does an average of 10 damage to my Warjack. That's about a third of the damage of an average heavy Warjack, and it can be up to 15 damage, which is around half. That's really bad, especially when you consider that it could cripple the Warjack's weapon halfway through the attack. But it's even worse against infantry. If I charge this guy with normal infantry, they will all die. Period. Well, except the ones that miss of course, scant conciliation that is. Bear in mind that I'm unlikely to kill him with infantry shooting as it's typically not very high power, meaning it's almost impossible to kill him with infantry without outright sacrificing the unit.

And remember, this isn't a Warlock spell, but a Warbeast spell, meaning that any Legion army can have it. I'm sorry, but in my book that's just plain overpowered!


Even assuming that the games are balanced overall - which I'm having a hard time with myself - I just can't get away from the fact that Hordes is much better at running large numbers of heavies. I guess that's why it's called Warmachine and not Warmachines: you're only supposed to use one. And I guess "Hordes" refers not to hordes of little gribblies, but hordes of massive monsters?

The problem is I wanted to play Jack-heavy, at least at first. Part of what drew me to the game was the idea of having a few focal models with a range of abilities that rely on an interesting resource management system that makes the game unique, rather than having tons of small limited models that play almost exactly the same as in other tabletop wargames. I mean, if I'm only playing infantry, what's the difference between that and Warhammer? Yes I know the rules are different but not enough that the game doesn't feel somewhat similar without the focus mechanic - the focus is what makes it something other than the same game with a different set of stats and slightly different order of activation. Hell, the introduction game I played when I was still just thinking about starting was just Warcasters and Warjacks, no infantry at all! I call that false advertising!

But I guess I need to get over it. Warmachine is a competitive game by nature - it's in the rules, while Warhammer is a friendly, narrative game by nature - it's in the rules. And it seems perhaps I'm just not a competitive gamer. Truth is I don't even particularly want to win, I'm very happy to keep losing. What I don't like is feeling like my models are not doing what they are supposed to, feeling like my models (not my army, my models) are inferior. I'm happy to lose the game after my warjacks wreck face, but to have them hobble forwards, slap ineffectually at the enemy, then get beat down without the enemy breaking a sweat... what's the point of playing the game? Yes I know this is partly a result of army building, but one reason (not the only reason) I picked warjacks was to have models that could feel powerful, even if I end up losing because they are expensive and get swarmed by large numbers of cheaper models. Hell, maybe it was just bad luck recently, but it didn't feel like it.

Anyway, all whining aside, I haven't given up on the game quite yet (although I am thinking perhaps I should be looking at something more like Infinity...), but I am going to have to give up on my Warjacks. I'll probably want to pick up some Cygnar eventually seeing as I really like the look of their infantry models (not so much their Warjacks... dammit!), but in the short term I'm thinking of getting some Mercenary infantry that I can, in the long run, use in either army.

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