Thursday, May 31, 2007

Grim Angus and the Unkillable Paladin

Once again, another super fun battle against Zugbart. This time we both fielded different casters. After a long stretch with Amon, I've decided it's time to start learning how to use the Harbinger.

The List:
Building a 500pt list with the Harbinger was rough. Add in my relative inexperience with using her (maybe 2 previous battles total), and I had a really hard time. This first list I decided to leverage my list experience with Amon and go jack and solo heavy. I've also been theorizing about building a "brick" style army, so this was a good opportunity to try both. First was the obligatory Devout, which I decided I'd just accept as necessary. Next, I wanted 2 heavy jacks, so I selected the Castigator and the Crusader, primarily due to cost and flexibility on power attacks. Next up was a chior. The theory here was that the 2 heavies would march side-by-side up the field, blocking LOS to the Harbinger, while the chior chanted no-shoot on the jacks. At this point I was sorely short on remaining points, but had enough to throw in Vilmon, one paladin, one seneschal, and 2 wracks. A core piece of my strategy was to keep Vilmon and the paladin in base-to-base so that when the Harbinger Martyred to keep them alive, they wouldn't be knocked down. The seneschal was mostly meant as a backup to hang out with the brick and provide a specific strike capacity.

The Game:
I gotta say, the brick worked well for me. I felt like a giant steamroller able to just roll up the battlefield methodically (with the exception of Grim's feat stalling me for a round). The brick made it really hard for the trolls to pick out anything in particular to kill. Martyrdom was completely crazy, allowing Vilmon and the paladin to stay alive and by themselves, take out an entire squad of champs. The Harbinger's 20" control area was also completely ridiculous for guestimating ranges to things. Although the Castigator did little more than screen the Harbinger most of the game, the Crusader got to deliver a massive beatdown on a Blitzer. All I got to say there is that Crusader + Infuse + 3 focus for extra attacks = rockin damage output. I spent alot of the game taking down 1 warbeast at a time until finally Grim was at a point he needed to cut himself to get to full fury.

The End Game:
In the end, Zugbart very nearly pulled off a No Quarter Challenge style maneuver on me and came dangerously close to killing the Harbinger. Hats off to Zubbart for pulling out a very clever maneuver in a rather desperate situation. I think the odds were in his favor, but a missed attack roll let the Harbinger live at the very end. At that point it was down to Grim, an Impaler, and Alten, who was tied up in melee with a last chior member.

The Luck:
Zugbart was definately having a bad dice day. There were a number of times when his dice failed him at critical points. I think the game would have been much closer if he'd had average luck. I on the other hand had fairly good rolling, which I am attributing to using my vegas dice more than anything else. Also bad luck was my list was heavily effective at netralizing Zugbart's army. He had primarily a shooty army and I had a ranged-impervious brick. By the time he was able to maneuver and pick off my chior leader, the brick had already deployed.

Star Performers:
The brick definately creates a different dynamic for star performers. Without Martyrdom, the paladin would have been dead 6 times over at least, but as a result he and Vilmon were shockingly effective. The chior also was of key importance in the brick. Overall I'm pretty happy with the Harbinger's performance. Her Martyrdom, Purification, and Word of Law spells were all very useful in this battle, as well as her feat being fairly useful. I think a key to using her is keeping her well back, screened and camping half her focus at all times unless there's a pivotal round to unload with. I'm looking forward to better luck for Zugbart in the next game hopefully.

Damage Report:
The Harbinger model unfortunately had a minor amount of damage due to transport only. Basically her flag arm came off, along with the shoulder armor. It was an easy fix, but I definately need to find a better way to transport her safely.

Very fun, and I am looking forward to trying the Harbinger with other list types in order to get a better feel for her. A number of her features seemed to not come into play at all during this game. I had this same issue with Amon, but by the last couple games I was at a point where I was utilizing 50+% of his features/spells every game. I'm sure the Harbinger will be the same way once I can get more refined with her.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why I dislike tournament formats...

Yesterday I played 2 games against Zugbart and I have to say, once again, these were very fun games. We each walked away with a win. Before the battle highlights though, I want to comment about one specific reason these games are fun, and tournaments are not...

I recently had a number of discussions/forum readings where it became clear that if you aren't using your feat on round 2, you're wasting your feat. Now, in a 2-3 round game, that's definately true. Here's my experience of most 3 round tournament games: Round 1, everyone runs. Round 2, first waves crash against each other. Round 3, second waves crash and caster kill attempts are made. Sometimes the caster kill attempts even happen on round 2. Personally, I think this sort of battle is boring. The beauty of Warmachine is that it's like a game of chess. Setting up a combination, working out the timing, moving around tactically... these are the features that really showcase the game I feel. The games I play with Zugbart are always open-ended and as a result allow us to really bring out the deeper strategy of the game. It's not a strategy of ramming troops down your opponent's throat. It's a strategy of overloading your opponent's brain as they try to work out the combinations.
I love that aspect. Ok, rant over, on to the highlights...

Game 1: Madrak vs Amon
This was a close one. It literally game down to a tough roll, which Amon failed. We did the old NoQuarterChallenge after the failed tough roll to see how the rest of the game would play out and the odds seemed against Madrak, but I have to give hats off to Zugbart for a well timed and placed ricochet axe throw early in the game that really weakened Amon. Star performers this game were definately the Dervish, with his very cool Riposte attack, and the Daughters, who not only killed all the Krielstone scribes and almost the bearer too (stupid tough rolls!), but also after being reduced to half squad, nearly took down an Impaler by themselves! I'm very much in love with these little ladies. In the end though, Madrak's bouncing axe overloaded my planning brain (and Amon's toughness), and won the day for the Trolls.

Game 2: Doomshaper vs Amon
Another close game, I opted for a more troop-oriented list, bringing in Knights and Zealots. I also fielded Herne and Jonne for this list (since I'd painted them recently), and they actually got to do something this game. In the previous game they became champ food, but in the end it was Jonne that got the final killing shot on Doomshaper. Again though, Zugbart pulled a maneuver I wasn't prepared for and trampled a bunch of knights exemplar. It's important to note that when trampling zealots under Greater Destiny, they don't get free strikes if you hit them. The Blitzer under fortune is a pretty crazy trampling machine. Fortunately my Seneschal came to the rescue and a concentrated effort took down the blitzer. I'm also finding that trying to kill the Krielstones early on is an important tactic against the "Troll Brick". Star performers were, well, I hate to say it but my opponent's Blitzer and Mauler really stole the show in this game, despite him not winning. The Blitzer's trample was stunning, and the Mauler nearly leveled the Guardian in one round (sheesh!). On my side, the Seneschal was definately key in handling the Blitzer, and Amon did a stellar job of not getting killed for once. Sitting on 6 focus really makes Amon hard to hurt.

Whew, big evening for Warmachine. I'm looking forward to the next battle already. I've learned alot about Amon having played him so many battles in a row now. I'll write up my thoughts on Amon tactics in another post later. In the mean time, hats off to Zugbart again for 2 well fought battles!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

All dice are created equal?

I read an interesting posting about dice statistics. I have to admit, I'm one of those guys that brings the small dice with rounded corners, mostly because they take up less space and are less likely to hit models and cause damage. For the next few battles though, I'm going to bring my vegas-quality dice instead and see if I notice a difference.

Monday, May 21, 2007


So I managed to injure my back. Rather than explain how I did it, just insert a story about jumping in front of a car to save a baby, or wrestling a tiger, or something like that. The real story is not interesting. Anyway, it's majorly impacted my ability to sit and paint unfortunately. That combined with a ridiculous schedule of events the last couple weeks has caused a major slowdown in painting unfortunately. However, I did manage to finish off Herne this morning. He's pretty mediocre, but he'll look fine on a table.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Daughters of the Fraidycats!

Another super fun battle against Zugbart tonight. We used the week 3 dispatch for the Warmachine league, playing the Protectorate vs Khador scenario. Basically it came down to a rumble on the hill, with both of us throwing aside attempts to win the scenario in order to deliver righteous smackdown.

The lists were similar to previous weeks. Zugbart had Doomshaper, Mauler, Blitzer, Fell Caller, Axer, Impaler, and Krielstones. I had Amon, Guardian, Repenter, Daughters, Gorman, Vilmon, 2 Paladins, Seneschal, Chior and 1 Wrack. Despite being outnumbered 2 to 1, the trolls once again turned in a victory.

The key point of the game was a big learning experience around two-handed throws. On round 2, the Blitzer threw the Guardian into Amon, wounding him enough and knocking him down so that a couple shots from the Pyg Ace could finish him off.... or so we thought! After reviewing the situation, we discovered a few things we did wrong, and promptly rewound the situation. First, throwing a model at another model requires a ranged attack roll. Second, range of the throw is base on STR, not POW. In the end, Amon got to live for a few more rounds before eventually being speared down by an Impaler. If only I'd succeeded in the tough roll!

Overall this was a very pitched game I felt. There were a number of times where each of us missed critical attack rolls that could have swung the balance in someone's favor. I actually felt I was executing better later in the game when I had fewer models on the table. The poor Daughters were unfortunately pretty useless in this battle, but it was fun to field the little ladies. Next time they will need a little more careful usage. I was pretty suprised how easily the krielstones were able to hit the daughters. Stupid trolls! Amon once again was the star of the show, using his whip's slam ability repeatedly on the Mauler to send it flying into other trolls. Overall though, this was an impressive display of fortitude by the trolls to finally drive home victory.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Daughters of the Flame

Finished these little ladies yesterday. They are, tiny, and thin, and were somewhat hard to paint. However, I just went for tabletop quality and they are halfway decent. Nothing really special to say about the paint job, but the assembly was sort of an issue. I really like the look of a couple of the models, but the studio assembly ends up with 2 poses paired. So, to break it up a bit I switched around arms. The lunging ones are still sort of uncool to me, but the rest of them are groovy. Anyway, enough blabbering...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Vilmon Repaired

Well, I took care of the repairs to Vilmon a couple days ago. For the most part, it's not readily apparent that there was any damage, but upon close inspection the pinning job is apparent. It basically looks like I painted it in pieces and then assembled it. I did go ahead and seal him with a coat of Testors Glosscoat and then a light coat of Testors Dullcoat. I did this against my gut instincts for 2 reasons. First, Vilmon goes on the table pretty much every time I field protectorate now, which means he's going to get more wear than pretty much any other miniature I have. Second, since he was already damaged, I figured that I might as well use him as a test subject for how much the coating shifts the look of one of my better painted figures (despite the lower CMON rating). Despite my fears, the coating hasn't really shifted the look of the paint overall. It's a little bit more shiny, but not dramatically so. Perhaps the damage Vilmon had to incur was just the kick in the pants I needed in order to start coating the rest of my models.

I must say, the Testors Glosscoat followed by Testors Dullcoat was great advice that I picked up from the Privateer forums.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Protectorate and Trolls Win the Day!

I played my first 2-on-2 game tonight. Barring the stuff in the previous post, this was a very amusing game to play. It was combined 1000pts, with myself and Zugbart teamed up against Circle and Legion. In an accidental twist, the Circle player had miscounted his army's points and was short 100pts unfortunately, but it still made for a good game. It was a fast 3 rounds, with the Legion warcaster (Thagrosh) being assassinated by myself, and the Circle player forfeiting after failing to assasinate Madrak at the end of round 3. Alot happened, so I won't try to recount the battle itself, but here's some highlights:

  • Kruger's feat is crazy. It's definately less effective against Warmachine than Hordes, but it's still crazy. It killed Vilmon in the first round.
  • Warlocks with no focus, are just bait waiting to be ground up.
  • Tharn Ravagers with 4" reach are naughty.
  • Circle continues to amaze me for it's ability to move dangerous things around the table with so much freedom.

The assassination of Thagrosh was a beautiful No Quarter challenge sort of item. Well, not entirely as complicated as a NQ challenge, but still beautiful. Here's the setup: The Revenger was at the very edge of Amon's control area, engaged with a Carnivean and a Shredder, and about 4" from Thagrosh, who has a second Carnivean right in front of him. The Devout and Castigator near Amon. Here's the chain of actions:

  1. Amon puts one focus on the Devout.
  2. Amon activates first, feats, and meditative stances, putting the 2 focus on the Castigator.
  3. Amon casts Mobility. 3 focus goes to the Revenger.
  4. Amon casts Synergy. 1 focus goes to the Castigator, one to the Devout.
  5. The Chior activates, moves forward, and catches the Devout and Castigator with Infuse.
  6. The Devout charges a Tharn Raveger, cutting it down and clearing the lane for the Castigator.
  7. The Castigator (using Amon's SPD 6 and Mobility) slams the Carnivean, barely scratching it, but slamming it into Thagrosh, knocking both of them down and doing a couple points to Thagrosh.
  8. The Revenger walks around the Carnivean, taking a free strike from the Shredder, taking enough damage to take out it's movement boxes, but no fear, Amon's feat overrides the reduction to the Revenger's SPD.
  9. The Revenger moves around into melee with Thagrosh, but still in the Carnivean's melee arc (this part was key).
  10. The Revenger, now at +2 to hit from Synergy, proceeds to take a pair of attacks on Thagrosh. After the first hit, it's at POW 16 with Synergy against Thagrosh's ARM 15. It only took two attacks to slay him.

The above... that's exactly why I love Warmachine and Hordes. It's brutal, unforgiving, and like a chess match on steroids. Timing and combinations are the core gameplay features of the game.

Pouty Players Suck

Ok, I'll admit, I've had more than one frustrating game of Warmachine where halfway through I want to smash something, but I always try my best to maintain my composure. Tonight I played a 2-on-2 game where 2 frustrating things happened.

1) One of the opposing players totally fouled my miniatures. We needed to slip a template underneath Vilmon and my 2 Paladins who were in a triangle formation. He did the old crane grab on them, mashing them together, in order to pick them up. In the process of doing that, he broke the glue join on Vilmon's arms. So, now I have more repair damage to deal with. I haven't inspected it closely yet (or the other models) but I think the damage is repairable.

2) The same dude, when I killed his warlock, seriously lost his cool. He swore (loud enough that everyone heard in the room), and acted like I had cheated. Now in all honesty, I did pull off a relatively intricate set of actions to bring alot of synergy to bear, and if I'd failed, would have probably be open to dying next round. And yes, it was only his second game of Hordes/Warmachine ever. And yes, it is frustrating when you get "cryx'd", which I somewhat did. And sure, he probably didn't know all the capabilities of my army, which is frustrating. All that aside, I did not cheat, and I was clear about everything I was doing as it rolled out. I'd be frustrated too (and definately have been in similar situations). But this dude was seriously pouty and fuming for probably 10 minutes, making comments that were borderline unsportsmanlike in my opinion.

Maybe my bar for being considerate and sportsmanlike is set higher than average, but based on all the other people I've played at this location before, I was definately caught off guard. Anyway, this entry is more of a rant than anything, so readers shouldn't take it too seriously. I'll post another entry later with the actual battle report. I just needed to get this out of my system. I hope that this game didn't leave a bad taste in this guy's mouth. I tried to be gracious and offer some perspective and advice on how to avoid it in the future.