Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Game of Inches

The inches we need are everywhere around us.
Today the ground shook once more as two mighty armies clashed on the field of battle.  Or on plywood with sand glued on top.  Either way you look at it plenty of action went down.  Terrain was a bit sparser than it has been of late and saw the notable return of The Hill That Looks Nice But Is Really A Pain To Put Models On (And Is A Bit Warped Which I Just Noticed Today).  Making matters even better, said hill was the first bit of terrain EV put down.  Right in the middle of the board.  Making matters even more betterer we rolled up Mosh Pit, which meant it would see lots of action.  While looking at the specifics of the scenario I noticed that the text read 14" diameter for the Mosh Pit and the diagram was 16".  I pointed this out to EV and we decided, via the roll-a-d6 method, that the Pit would be a 14" diameter circle of pain.  This would come in to play later, but first the army lists.

Lists &Deployment

EV returned to a caster I love to hate: pGaspy.  His list was as follows:

Iron Lich Asphyxious  +6 points
* Cankerworm  5 points
* 2x Nightwretch  4 points each
* Seether  9 points
* Skarlock Thrall  2 points

2x Bloat Thrall  2 points each
10 Mechanithralls  5 points
10 Mechanithralls  5 points
Necrosurgeon & Stitch Thralls  2 points
Necrotech  1 point
1 Scrap Thrall

This list fit Gaspy's tier, though I'm not sure what level or exactly what all the benefits are.  The one that mattered, to me at least, was that the MechThralls gained Advanced Deployment.  I didn't think much about it at the time, but that extra 6" of "movement" jammed me up pretty good, as you'll see.  EV went a little heavy on the right flank, but mostly deployed towards the middle.

Joint deployment.

I ran the same list I used last time, but I'll cut and paste it to save you some clicking.

The Butcher of Khardov  +6 points
* Juggernaut 7 points
* Kodiak  8 points
* War Dog  1 point

Doom Reavers  6 points
* Greylord Escort  2 points
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich  2 points
Manhunter  2 points
Widowmakers  4 points
10 Winter Guard Infantry  6 points
* Winter Guard Officer & Standard  2 points
* Winter Guard Rocketeer  1 point

Unlike the last two games, I didn't have to use Sorscha as a proxy for any models that I forgot.  I was a little uneasy about this as I'd done well in the last two games, but I resolved to soldier on.  I've been using the WGI to hold the center of late, so before the game I had resolved to use them as a flanking force to try and misdirect EV's attention.  This resolution was forgotten well before I arrived for the game, hence the WGI in the center of my line.  Instead I planned to use the Manhuntress to hunt down a Bloat Thrall or other high-priority target while trying to roll up EV's flank with the Doom Reavers.  I stuck the Widowmakers on the right flank so they could cover the Mosh Pit hill, though this put them awful close to the MechThralls.

Turn 1

EV's first turn went as first turns do.  Upkeeps, advancing, done.  One squad of MechThralls went well wide, to a purpose that eluded me then and still does now.

Cryx turn 1.
My first turn had a little more action.  On the left my Doomies, or at least a couple of them, were just inside charge range.  While I could see the other waves of MechThralls waiting to pile in, not to mention the Bloat Thralls, in the end I decided that I could either charge them this turn or be charged by them in the next turn, so I decided to get the charge in.  One MechThrall died.

Form of: conga line.
That was it for the action.  Iron Flesh on the WGI, a bit of parking lot with the jacks and WGI, and turn 1 was in the books.

Khador turn 1.
 Turn 2

The counter-charge wasn't surprising, but it was effective.  First the Bloat Thralls opened up, killing a pair of Reavers.

Fatties open fire.
Then the MechThralls came in and took out another two Doomies.

Quantity has a quality all its own.
On the other flank the MechThralls also moved in.  Because of the relative positions of the Thralls and the Widowmakers, the Thralls couldn't charge.  What they could do was run around the woods into melee range, but not make any attacks.  An effective, if unconventional, attempt to take my snipers out of the game.

"I'm not touching you."
The rest of the Cryx forces moved up.  EV arced a pair of spells through his chickenjacks, a debuff on the Juggernaut and an aoe at the Manhuntress.  The second chicken is hiding behind the building on the back left corner.

Cryx turn 3.
Turn 3

Since I had stepped into the trap there was no good reason not to send in the Doomies to mop up some Thralls.  The Greylord Escort did a great job, killing every MechThrall his spray hit.  The Doomies...not so much.  They both missed instead of cutting down the Thralls in front of them.

UA: effective.  Unit: not effective.
I sent the Manhuntress in against a chickenjack, figuring that I had a decent shot at crippling it, and at the least I'd stop it from arcing for a turn or two.  Little did I know that I would initiate an epic slap fight that would last most of the game.

Slap fighters, take your places.
In the center the Juggy moved at the Nightwretch in an attempt to throw it.  As one of my many mental errors I changed my plan for the Juggy halfway, which meant it went in to throw with a single focus.  Said focus was consumed in the power attack, leaving no focus to boost the attack roll.  The result was inevitable: a missed throw.  This was extra bad as I had spotted the Seether and Cankerworm waiting to hop on anything that took the chicken bait, but had planned of launching the chicken into one of them.  Instead I just stepped into another trap while doing little damage.
On the right flank I got into the fiddly work of extracting my Widowmakers from the MechThralls' grasp.  The Kodiak charged one, the Butcher took out two more, and one spray and one blunderbuss sent the unit packing.  That taken care of, I looked to CRAs.  I set up two groups, one each for the Nightwretch and the Cankerworm.  Unfortunately the Cankerworm has Stealth and I had blocked up the LoS to the chicken with the Juggernaut, so the majority of the WGI sat around and looked stupid.

Winter Guard: both effective and ineffective.
The newly-liberated Widowmakers took some shots at the chicken, since they couldn't see the Cankerworm to shoot at, and did a little damage.  I was in a bad position at this point, with my flanking force of Doomies all but a loss, my Juggy hung out to dry, and my other jack stuck behind my snipers.  The good news was that I had cleared out most of the MechThralls, had both arc nodes in melee, and had a pretty strong setup (jack movement issues aside) on the right flank.

Khador turn 2.
Turn 3

EV started his turn like I expected: sending in the jacks to crush my poor Juggernaut.  The Seether delivered the killing blow, which came a bit early for EV judging by his mild cursing as my jack was torn to bits.

The remains of the stoppable Juggernaut.
The fatties shot up the WGI a bit, killing three of them.  I lost the standard in the barrage thanks to my less-than-complete grasp on the Take Up rules.  While there were two Winter Guard close enough to lift the banner, one was the UA officer while the other was the unit leader.  A third Guardsman, who could have picked up the banner, watched from just outside 1" as the flag fell to the ground.

A 17 DEF doesn't do much against blast damage.
On the flank I didn't want to think about, the MechThralls finished the lazy Doomies, leaving just the UA alive.

I feel bad saying it, but the Reavers deserved it for their piss-poor performance.
The slap fight continued behind the building while the Cryx brain trust watched the action unfold.  I had a bit of a scare here as the Most Pit condition kicked in and all I had in the zone was the Greylord.  Only one model, but one was all it took for the game to continue.
Cryx turn 3.
With a feeling of loyalty undiminished by lackluster performance, the Greylord Escort attempted to take vengeance for his recently slain mates.  His spray was less effective than it had been, but he still managed to kill a Thrall.  Tallies for those of you keeping score:  UA=4, unit=1. 

At least one member of the unit can do his job.
In the center I had a lot of work to do.  The Greylord would be dead before my next turn, so I needed bodies in the zone.  I also needed to do something about the trio of jacks holding the hill and the first tool I'd pick for the task, the Kodiak, was stuck behind the Widowmakers and also well out of charge range.  With her machines unable to act, the Motherland had naught to defend her but her sons.  The Butcher got things started by popping his feat and then popping the Nightwretch with a boosted Hand Cannon shot.  From there the WGI split up into pairs and poured CRAs into the jacks, then the Widowmakers followed up with their dubious aim.  When the smoke cleared, only the chickenjack remained atop the hill.  One of the Bloat Thralls was also popped by a Widowmaker.  

Operation Retake the Hill is mostly successful.
Just like that I was back in the game, and in a real good position too.  One arc node was tied up with the Manhuntress, while the other one would run for the hills if it had any self-preservation instincts.  Granted the Doomies were toast, the Manhuntress wasn't doing much other than dancing, and the Widowmakers couldn't hit a barn from three paces, but I had a lot of bodies in the Most Pit and an undamaged Kodiak looking to join the fun.  EV was almost out of MechThralls, and after them there'd be nothing but support pieces to take out.  Was I a bit overconfident?  Perhaps...

Khador turn 3.
Turn 4

EV kicked off his turn in true Cryx fashion: by arcing dirty spells into undeserving targets.  The spell du jour was, I believe, Breath of Corruption, a 3" AoE that stuck around for a turn after being cast.  What this meant for the poor defenders of the Motherland was that not only did seven brave sons of Khador die, but the survivors would have to contend with the clouds in the turn to come.  Adding insult to injury, EV charged the MechThralls into a lone Winter Guardsman.  Fortunately his sky-high DEF kept him safe.

Ouch.  Just ouch.
On the left flank the Greylord went down as expected while the Manhuntress and Nightwretch continued to swap cookie recipes instead of fighting.

Cryx turn 4.
In my half of the turn the Winter Guard came to the rescue of their squad-mate, killing the three Thralls accosting said trooper.  I took an exploratory rocket shot at the Necrosurgeon, but it got shunted off onto a Stitch Thrall who died a messy death.  The Kodiak was just out of charge range, so it ran up into melee range of the chickenjack to keep it from arcing by menacing looks and veiled threats.  Not wanting to tempt fate by balancing it on the hill, I used a die to mark its place.

Khador turn 4.
Turn 5

What came next was one of the oddest sequences I've been part of while playing Warmachine. The Necrotech moved to a wreck marker, then created four Scrap Thralls.  These were placed within 3" of said Necrotech, which was enough room to put them in base-to-base with my remaining Winter Guard troopers.  I was somewhat relieved to find out that they couldn't activate this turn.  My relief was short-lived though thanks to EV rolling up his remaining Bloat Thrall and blasting one of the Scrap Thralls in the back.  This set off a chain of explosions that I can only compare to some of the Magazine Explosions hyjinx we had in Uncharted Seas.  When the red mist cleared, only a single Scrap Thrall remained.  

So many templates...
Other than that EV's turn was unremarkable.  Other than reducing me to a total of seven remaining models.  The slap fight?  It raged on.  There was also the small matter of the chickenjack stepping away from the Kodiak, who didn't connect on its free strike, and Gaspy arcing a handful of spells into the Butcher, taking him too close to death for comfort.

Cryx turn 5.
How does one reply to a turn like that?  By sending in the dog to eat a Thrall while the Butcher heroically protects some barrels.

I wonder if zombie tastes good.
On the hill I hoped to chuck the chickenjack into something squishy, but the Kodiak is simply incapable of pulling its punches.  The first fist finished off the Cryx jack, leaving the Kodiak to admire the scenery.  

Too strong for its own good.
I took a couple more potshots, but nothing of note or effect.  The board was pretty empty, but still the Pit was contested.

Khador turn 5.
Turn 6

EV started off by sniping the Rocketeer with his Fattie Thrall.  

I hate to imagine what kind of ammo this thing fires.
Next he brought the big man himself in to shoot some spells into Kovnik Joe and the Wardog.  In true dirty Cryx fashion, Gaspy Teleported away from good, honest combat to cower behind the hill.

What remains of the Kovink.
In an unexpected development, the remaining chickenjack won the slap fight after only eight rounds of combat.

Weapon master my ass.
Down to four models, things were looking grim for me.  I had a sliver of hope though.  Gaspy looked to be a little far away from the center of the table, and a quick application of the tape measure showed he was just outside the 7" mark (7" radius = 14" diameter for you math majors).  That meant if I could take out the fattie on the hill, plus the Stitch Thrall hiding in a crevice, I would pull out the victory.  A tall order, but workable.

Cryx turn 5.
I sent the Kodiak into the Stitch Thrall, since it couldn't reach the Bloat Thrall.  It smushed the tiny thrall real good, leaving the infantry to deal with the big pile of ick.  The Widowmaker took the first shot, followed by the last Winter Guard, but both failed to seal the deal.  All that remained was for the Butcher to do it himself, so he left the vital barrels unprotected to saunter up, plug the Bloat Thrall with his Hand Cannon, and bring the victory home to the Motherland.

Want it done right?  Do it yourself.
This wasn't the resounding victory I expected at the end of turn three, but I'll take it.  EV got the size of the zone mixed up over the course of the game so he didn't realize he was taking his caster out of the Mosh Pit.  Considering I did the exact same thing with Vlad a while back, I can sympathize with one hand while also grabbing the win with the other.  This was a pretty ugly game for me, from dice to tactics, so I'm just glad I could capitalize on an opportunity when it appeared.  I brought this list again because some elements (I'm looking at you, Widowmakers) didn't perform as well as I wanted last time.  This game I had even more misfires (Doomies, Manhuntress, those Widowmakers again), so I don't know that I'll tempt fate a third time.  At the same time it's hard to really get away from the Winter Guard, especially with an Iron Flesh caster, and once you start on that unit it kinda dictates the rest of your list.  These musings are neither new nor especially relevant to this post, so considering the late hour I'm going to call this one finished.

Next morning addendum:  Forgot this last night, but we played on to caster kill after the not entirely satisfying scenario conclusion.  I knew I'd have an uphill battle since most of my army was dead, but I thought if I could get into the woods I'd have a chance.  I managed to do just that, while also getting Orsus back to full health, so I got to dictate the battlefield.  It didn't matter though, as Gaspy strolled into the woods and hit once, which was all it took for his chainsaw on a stick to keep on cutting.  It was a little close, enough that if there wasn't the debuff on the Butcher (Crippling Grasp?) it might have made the difference, but in the end it didn't matter.  We did manage a truly remarkable feat though: a literal win-win game.


  1. Just an FYI, the Cryx list looks like it was 1 point over.The list above came in at 42 total points - 6 for pGaspy = 36. Great write up though. Good game.


  2. Having access to neither the Cryx book nor a Cryx deck I can't check for sure, but iBodger and Forward Kommander both say it comes to 35. If the list is a point over it wouldn't be the first time we've played a game with unequal points without realizing it at the time. The important thing is that we had fun, which is something you can't put a point value on. Glad you enjoyed the report.

  3. I re-checked the army list with Army Builder as well as a good old fashioned calculator and the cards, and the points values are kosher. Maybe there was an accidental addition of 1 point for the Scrap Thrall? It's easy to forget that one comes for free with the Necrotech.

  4. Ah ya, the way it's written it looked like he purchased 1 additional scrap thrall. They can be picked up separately for 1 point.