Getting pounded by big meat, or: How much ARM do you have???

So, last time we left my exploration of Warmachine, we ended on a down note because my army had been unable to punch through heavy-armoured targets like the Mountain King. Apparently high ARM armies are a big thing these days, so I really wanted to get more practice against such armies. Fortunately, Christian wanted to test his Miserable Meat Mountain list to prepare for the next couple of tournaments and armies don’t get much tougher than Miserable Meat Mountain.

It runs 2 5-strong units of Wardens, each having 8 damage boxes and higher ARM than all my guys. If that wasn’t enough, they also gain more ARM, STR and Pathfinder for a turn as soon as one in the unit is hit by an enemy attack, meaning most of my shooting needs 9s to do even one wound after the first one is harmed. Even if I should manage to put one down, it is Tough like all Trollkin, so will heal back to one wound on a 5+. The next unit is a unit of Champions with Skaldi, their UA, another 6 models with 8 damage boxes and high ARM, more so when they stand next to each other. So that is a cool 128 damage boxes with ARM values of 17 and more. That should be feasible, right? Well, the next unit is the Krielstone with Stone Bearers and Elders, a support unit that can be given Fury by the army’s Warlock and then use that Fury to create a +2 ARM aura for everyone in a decent area. So now they are all ARM 19 or better. Great, so now I need 10s or better to wound. The final piece of the puzzle is the Warlock, Grissel, whose feat gives them another ARM bonus if engaged in melee, in addition to having the Dash spell to compensate for the slow SPD of those heavy unit. The army also runs a couple of support solos and one or two Warbeasts, though they are mainly just extensions of the heavy armour theme.

I wanted to test two lists against MMM, but we only got round to playing two games with one list as I got delayed on my way to the FLGS. Ironically, I choose the one that is probably less equipped against MMM, my current Haley2 list. It consists of:

Major Victoria Haley

– Squire

– Thorn

10 Horgenhold Forge Guard

Alexia and the Risen

Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers with Gun Mage Adept

Stormblade Infantry with Unit Attachment and 2 Storm Gunners

Journeyman Warcaster

Ragman

Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord

Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist

Eiryss, Angel of the Retribution

Stormblade Captain

The basic theory was to use Ragman to give an ARM penalty to each enemy model in melee range of a friendly model in 3 inches of him. As the Horgenhold Forgeguard has Reach, this creates an effective bubble of over 6 inches (3 inch bubble, base size of 30mm, so more than an inch, plus 2 inch reach). Add to this the third damage die for having Weapon Master and they can actually dent even Trollkin, or so I hoped. Meanwhile, the Stormblades and Captain would do the same on the other flank, using Assault to fire POW14 shots before getting stuck in with P+S13 on their Glaives. Alexia would gum up the middle and the Gun Mages would try to ping away or use Thunderbolts to push models away or even knock them down. Haley could use Time Bomb and her feat to slow down the already slow Trollkin horde. I would not be able to grind them down, but if I could selectively take out models in one control zone or keep them out of the zone, I could make a strong play for scenario or try to use Telekinesis to get Grissel in the open to shoot her in the back and assassinate them.

So how did it go? Well, to quote Clausewitz: ‘Shit got real.’ [quotation needed]

In game 1, I misdeployed the gun mages on a flank and never to use Deadeye on them. Rollling 3d6 on my shooting attacks would have allowed me to score more critical hits and thus more knockdowns to slow down the Champions opposite them. However, popping Haley’s feat on my first turn let me slow them out of the control zones, which in addition to killing an objective meant I got a 3 point lead on scenario to put pressure on Chris. Unfortunately, I misplayed again and put Haley next to a Risen and Grissel promptly shot his DEF11 ass with an AOE causing knockdown to all models below it and three shots later, Haley was down. Ouch! I could of course have put Arcane Shield on her and Deceleration or even some additional Focus and thus keep her alive. And just not be a muppet who leaves Haley next to a low DEF model where Grissel can knock her down and then shoot her.

In game 2, I managed to keep Haley alive for longer, but I ended up being drawn into a war of attrition where my models just could not break his armour often enough to pull through. I did manage to put more pressure on the Krielstone, but failed to kill it entirely, although this was compounded by my inability to roll an 8 on 2d6 to take out more than one Stonebearer per turn. I tried to kill Grissel twice, but rolled too below average to put real damage on her. Furthermore, my Stormblade Captain had another game where every Troll he killed passed their Tough roll, thus denying him the chance to use his ranged blast as his Quick Work ability only triggers if they actually die, not tough it out. Another high POW shot could have put her down. Sadly, the second assassination run exposed Haley again and she ended up dead again.

Next time, I will try Stryker to see if he has better odds cracking ARM.

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