Hello loyal reader for another installment of ´What I did last summer’! Can you handle the excitement?
The last week and a half have been rather quiet on the gaming front, as I was kept buys by other things, including for one buying up another collection of 40k and Warhammer armies and getting them ready to be sold off. This time I got a really excellent price, but the downside was that he had put the five armies into a pile of boxes witout separating them or looking at what goes where, so I spent most of an afternoon just trying to make sense of what goes with what army and sorting sprues to match to models and so forth. What made it worse was that there were 3 Marine armies in the mix, so even more sprues to go around. Well, I have now sorted it all out and sold off all the non-Marine armies, so now I jst have to find a Blood Angels and a Dark Angels player and I have sold off everything except for a Codex Marine army I can convert into the Iron Hands Drop Pod army I have been mulling around over. Of course, it might just end up being a brainfart like most of my armies and get flogged off as well, only that this time it was essentially a free army.
I have also tried to get some painting done, but I am currently finding it difficult to muster the enthusiasm to paint large (10 models) units. So I did manage to paint Thorn, Major Victoria Haley’s personal Lancer, as well as two Mercenary solos, Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist and Eiryss, Angel of the Retribution. The dominant opinion on the Internet is that both Gorman and Eiryss should be included in most collections as they are amongst the most easy to use and efficient solos there are.
Gorman, in addition to doing a great plague doctor (or Hamburglar) impression with his long black coat, hat and mask, is the Iron Kingdom’s premiere provider of gas-related mayhem. He has a decent DEF and Stealth to avoid most aimed shots, thought any blast template might give him something to worry about, but his prime defense is his Smoke Bombs action that lets him place a 3-inch cloud effect on himself each turn. Cloud effects give a DEF bonus to models within them and block LoS to things on the other side. This means that he can make himself even more difficult to hit and make the models behind him, such as your Warcaster or a fragile solo essentially invisible to armies without Eyeless Sight or other rules that can ignore LoS. Should he survive to get within 6 inches of the enemy, he can then start lobbing grenades instead. He has three types of grenades, all three of which are annoying: Acid Bombs can chew through infantry by dealing a decent strength hit and causing the Corrosion continuous effect that deals further damage in future rounds. Rust grenades reduce the armour of Warjacks for a round and Black Oil blinds a model, rendering it more or less useless for a round. In one of my previous articles, I described how Black Oil nearly ended up costing me my Stormwall. So all in all, a great model for two points.
Eiryss is actually slightly more expensive than Gorman, but just as powerful on the field. In the fluff, Eiryss was dispatched by the Retribution of Scyrah to learn more about human spellcasters and especially how to kill them. As such, she can be hired by just about any Warmachine faction and happily plies her trade of spying on one side’s warcasters whilst killing the other side’s. In fact, she is so popular that she often ends up encountering herself on the field, being fielded by both armies. Her range of abilities let her interfere with enemy warjacks by being near her, redirect spells targetting her on the caster and choose the damage column when hitting a Warjack or Warbeast. The principal reason to buy her is her Arcane Interference rule that causes a model hit by her ranged or melee attacks (and hit is much better as a trigger than wounded) to lose all its focus and cancel all spells on it. So you can either use it on your own models if they are hit by an enemy spell, perhaps killing one in exchange for cancelling a damaging spell ( sometimes someone has to take one for the team) or use it to take buff spells off an enemy unit before charging in with your main units. Last, but by no means least, hitting a Warcaster with her attacks will cause them to lose not only their buff spells, but also the focus they still have to overboost their power field and thereby reduce their ARM to its base value. Especially melee casters like the Butcher or Stryker like to keep focus on the model to get ARM values above 20, making them extremely difficult to assassinate, so simply pinging them will drop their pants and make them easier to kill off. She is quite quick, having the same SPD as Allister Caine despite having to drag a chimney around all the time and her DEF combined with Stealth make her difficult to kill. Finally, she matches Caine for the highest RAT in the game, hitting DEF 16 on average dice or 18 if she aims.
Both will definitely find a home in some of my armies. But now to something completely different… the games I played.
Last week, I played two games of Warmachine on Monday, both with the Stryker list I outlined in my last article. The first game was against Alex, a really nice chap (heck, all the guys I have played so far are really nice, so maybe playing a cut-throat tournament-oriented game does not automatically make you a dick) I had not played before, with Menoth, an army I had not played since picking up the game again this summer. He ran the High Reclaimer as his Warcaster. In the fluff, the High Reclaimer is the head of the Reclaimer order (who would have guessed?) and they are the ones who reclaim the souls of the fallen to send them to the afterlife. As such, he has a bit of pull with the people on the other side of the veil and his feat lets him return between 4 and 6 models to the game, provided their units were not wiped out beforehand. He also gains a soul token for every model dying in his control area and converts those tokens into focus during his next turn, so he can generate huge amounts of focus in some turns, then use that focus to cast spells or just whale on people with his burning stick. He was joined by 4 different units of Exemplars, all of which have Weapon Master and some ability or other that triggers on models dying, be it becoming faster and stronger, stronger and tougher, being able to deflect the wound to another model in the unit to keep blocking that charge lane or plain simply redistributing every damage point between unit members for the Exemplar Bastions who have 8 damage boxes each and each heal a point of damage per round if a Bastion Seneshal solo is in the army, yikes! To round the army up, he had Eiryss 2, Lady Aiyanna and Master Holt and a unit of Holy Zealots with a Monolith bearer. Zealots are Menoth’s cannon fodder, but if they include the monolit, they can activate it once per game to become immune to all attacks apart from feats and spells, whilst their unit leader can pray each round to either make them untargetable by spells or boost their melee prowess. Notice how those two combine to make a unit that can only be harmed by feats or blast spells (as long as there is someone else to target nearby, they can still be affected by spells) for a turn?
I took a couple of pictures of the first few turns, so here you are:
In turn 3, the High Reclaimer sat on 10 Focus after I managed to drop a few Knights despite them being shielded by the Zealots, mostly thanks to Stryker using his blast spell to drop lightning templates into a pile of Exemplars. As I had used my feat and put Stryker forward, he guessed that he could just pull off an assassination run with the High Reclaimer by charging Ol’ Rowdy, then using the Reach on his burning staff to buy up to 10 additional attacks and prod Stryker to death. Unfortunately for him, his charge attack on Ol’ Rowdy hit, triggering Rowdy’s Grudge ability to let him make a retaliatory attack on which he promptly rolled a double, knocking the High Reclaimer on his behind. Turns out that being on the floor next to Ol’ Rowdy and Lord Commander Coleman Stryker is not a good battle plan as they proceeded to poke him to death even with his ARM of 25 due to having all that Focus left. It was a lucky hit, granted, but in hindsight, the High Reclaimer’s chances to assassinate Stryker were rather slim, as he needed 12s to hit Stryker who was ARM 19 at the time and still had all his damage boxes. So he would have had to boost his attack rolls (reducing his attacks from 10 to 5) and then still roll above average, then roll again above average on the damage roll (requiring more Focus, so yet again reducing the potential number of attacks). I think I would personally have chosen the second option Alex had considered, which was to use the focus to cast Ashes to Ashes and murder my infantry. He still had his 5 Bastions on full health and a decent number of surviving Knights Exemplars and Exemplar Errants, so he could have hidden behind those and simply attritioned me out of the game or forced me to try and break through the Bastions, which would have exposed Stryker and make it easier for him to gang charge Stryker and kill him with all those Weapon Master attacks.
In the second game, I continued the trend of having Stryker survive an improbable amount of attacks, playing against Geoffrey’s Khador list. He ran Harkevich the Iron Wolf, Khador’s warjack caster with a Destroyer, a Heavy Warjack with an axe and a bombard, a Spriggan, a Heavy with a Lance and the ability to shoot blasts or flares, and Behemoth, a character Heavy with double bombards and double fists with a special rule allowing him to receive up to 6 Focus divided between the sub-cortex running the cannons and the normal cortex running the rest, as well as being able to fight in melee and shoot at the same time, something not even Colossals can do. He also had some Iron Fang Pikemen, two Eliminators (a duo of Assassins getting bonuses if they fight the same guy) and the Great Bears, three hard-as-nails Iron Fangs with 5 damage boxes and Weapon Master axes. The scenario revolved around two circular control zones and two objectives located in the centre of the two zones. Destroying an objective gives one point, controlling a zone one and if your Warcaster dominates a zone, you get two. First to 5 wins as usual.
So my plan was to tie up his army with mine and go for an assassination as Harkevich is weaker than Stryker. I deployed the Stormblades on the left with Ol’Rowdy next to them, then the solos, the Stormclad and Stryker, then the Sword Knights on the other flank with the Lancer to give them Flank bonuses. He deployed his ‘jacks opposite me, with Harkevich and Eiryss 2 (see, there she was again) behind them and the Bears and Assassins opposite the Stormblades and the Iron Fangs opposite the Sword Knights. We both advance and I manage to shrug off most of his fire as his ‘jacks have the typical low RAT of Khador warjacks and therefore only hit models after scattering (thus at half POW as only models directly hit take a full POW hit), which is not enough to harm my high ARM troops under Arcane Shield and Deflection. I use my feat in turn two, hoping to wipe out the Pikemen with the Sword Knights and the Lancer whilst Ol’ Rowdy is tying up the left control zone and my Stormblades charge into Eiryss and the Destroyer. Unfortunately, I fail to wipe out all of the Pikemen despite my Sword Knights having a MAT of 10 and POW12 with Weapon Master and my Stormblade only kill Sylyss Wyshnarr (the Elf solo giving Warcasters a free upkeep, basically the Squire for non-Cygnaran armies) and do some damage on the Destroyer, given that he had also feated, giving each Warjack a significant ARM bonus on top of being Khadoran Warjacks in the first place. Meanwhile Ol’ Rowdy did not scare the Great Bears and they engaged him and blew up the objective next to him. Luckily they fail to completely wreck him and he managed to stick around. The Eliminators murder the Journeyman and try to hurt Stryker, but fail to do much damage. On the other flank, his Behemoth, Spriggan, Harkevich and last Pikemen maul the Sword Knights, but their ARM and the fact that Rhupert made them Tough kept them going.
I was tempted to try an assassination run at this juncture, but I would have had to first kill two Pikemen in the way and then at least try to hurt the Behemoth a bit to avoid the worst of the free strike he would get. However, I couldn’t move the Pikemen with the Lancer and therefore I couldn’t even start my run. So I had to rethink. That was when I noticed that I still had four Stormblades in the left zone with Rowdy, who had crippled arms and thus would only run one die to hit or wound, but would hit knocked down models automatically and autokilled them with his POW 19 versus ARM14, even on one die. So the Stormblades charged in, dropping the Bears, then Rowdy wadded in to punch the ones that passed their Tough rolls until they stopped moving. Then Stryker charged the two Eliminators near the control zone and killed one. thus emptying the control zone and dominating it for two with hardly anyone able to reach him to stop him from doing the same in Geoffrey’s next turn and then again in my turn to win the game there and then. The other Stormblades kept whaling on the Destroyer, now doing more damage as its ARM was more civilised this turn. My Sword Knights failed to do much, but got in people’s way to keep them away from Stryker.
So he had to try and kill Stryker with the only two models that were in range, the second Eliminator and Behemoth. First he freed up Behemoth by killing the Sword Knights engaging him, then the Assassin went in first as it had a better MAT and thus better chances to hit him. However, this triggered Ol’Rowdy’s Counter-Charge and even though he missed the Eliminator, he managed to get within base-to-base of Stryker to give him DEF18, so the Assassin had to roll a 9 and missed. Then Behemoth charged in, boosting his attack roll and needing a 12 to hit. He rolled an 11. He bought another boosted attack and rolled….a 10. Stryker lived! However, he had models in my control zone and was getting closer to cleaning the other one to dominate that one with Harkevich to give me a run for the control victory. In my turn, Stryker had to use Overload to get a POW bonus, going to POW21 but taking 10 damage. He managed to kill the Eliminator with two boosted attacks (hitting was the problem, one hit and it evaporated), then spend his last 4 focus to turn the Behemoth into so much scrap metal. I held my zone and got another two points, but Stryker was out of focus and still exposed to another countercharge. In fact, the Spriggan was exactly in range thanks to the reach on its lance and it had two boosted attacks to kill Stryker, who was on his last three wounds and having less ARM than the Spriggan’s POW, so just hitting would automatically hit him. Luckily, Khadoran Warjacks have crappy MAT and the Spriggan also needed 12s to hit, so Stryker managed to barely dodge being stabbed to death, then proceeded to beat up the Spriggan with the help of Rowdy.
So those were the two first games and I managed to win them. However, the rest of the week was not as good.