Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pulling defeat from the jaws of victory from the maw of defeat: a Warmachine battle report

Thursday my valiant Khadorans engaged EV and the vileness known only as eGaspy.  You could also call him Lich Lord Asphyxious, but who does that?  Going into the game I knew I'd be facing eGaspy, but that meant little as I've never played against him before.  The interwebs consensus is that he's a top-tier Cryx caster though so I decided to bring my A-game: full-on WGI Deathstar, Iron Flesh caster, geared to the teeth for attrition.

Then I changed my mind and went with a small assassination list.

I wanted a list that could cut straight through a horde to open a lane to the caster, eGaspy here.  I also wanted to run jack heavy, even more so than usual.  I came up with the following list:

35+5 points, 14 models

Vladimir, The Dark Prince  +5 points
* Black Ivan  10 points
* Devastator  9 points
* Kodiak  8 points
* War Dog  1 point

Doom Reavers  6 points
* Greylord Escort  2 points
Koldun Lord  2 points
Manhunter  2 points

The jacks all have forced movement capabilities, whether Bulldoze or Chain Attack: Chuck Them Bastards.  The Doomies are there so I have some sort of infantry, and they're very effective at clearing out intervening models on their own.  Everything else is nice, but basically point filler.  My whole plan was the get in quick and cut a bloody path to eGaspy and victory.

EV's list was such:

35+6 points, 36 models

Lich Lord Asphyxious  +6 points
* Cankerworm  5 points
* 2x Nightwretch  4 points each
* Skarlock Thrall  2 points

10 Bane Thralls  8 points
6 Bile Thralls  5 points
Bloat Thrall  2 points
10 Mechanithralls  5 points
* 1 Brute Thrall  1 point
Withershadow Combine  5 points

Another game where I was heavily out-numbered.  I was surprised at the lack of DJ, but he is an expensive piece.  I was more surprised at the lack of Bane Thrall UA and Tartarus.  EV has only fielded Bane Thralls once which I find surprising considering how much the internets love Bane Thralls.  He later explained that the first encounter I had with them had left him so soured on the unit that it sat on the shelf until Thursday, though Tartarus didn't make the cut this time.  Lack of UA is easily explained: EV doesn't have them.  The rest is pretty easy to account for: lots of bodies, some arc nodes, Withershadow to deal with the Iron Flesh I decided against bringing, Bloat and Bile Thralls to clear the infantry I left in the case.  I wasn't too worried about any individual piece, beyond Gaspy, but the sheer number of foes was troubling considering how few models I had.

We rolled up a new scenario whose name I forget and can't be bothered to get up and check on.  It was an objective mission with one objective dead center and the other two 8" away on the center line to either side.  As usual we forgot to roll the scenario before we started setting up terrain.  Also as usual, EV plopped a forest dead center.  Considering how much trouble those central forests have given him in the past, I'm always surprised when he goes back for more.  I missed the deployment picture, but the nature of the scenario dictated a central deployment for both of us.

I also missed the beginning of the game.  I'd won the roll to go first when we started placing terrain, and after all the setup was done I went back to the book to read the scenario again.  I found out we played to seven points and that you started scoring in turn two at the end of your turn.  Wily Cryx player that he is, EV stole the initiative on me and started moving while I was reading.  By the time I looked up he was better than halfway through his turn.  When I called him on it he was ready to move things back so we could start over, but considering how far he'd gone I said let's just keep going.  Some times your opponent gets an extra march in on you.  After the game I thought about it a bit more and realized that beyond the deployment advantage of setting up after seeing my deployment and then getting the first move, EV also got a big scoring advantage since points were accrued at the end of your own turn and not your opponents like our last game.  Had I grasped that at the time I would have still let it go but would have been more attentive to scoring and might have played a little differently.  The battlefield is chaotic, especially when you're not watching it.

Turn 1

Usual boring first turn.  We both advanced.  My plan was to take the center objective with the Doomies, the left with the jacks, and harass the right with the Manhuntress and perhaps some Doomie support.  The Kodiak went up the middle because it has baked-in Pathfinder.

End of turn one.
Khador - 0  Cryx - 0
Turn 2

EV started his second turn in disgusting fashion: Purging across a Doomie.  One succumbed, but another passed his Tough roll to fight on.  At least the Thrall got one of his own in the blast.

One foe and one ally killed.  Not the best ratio.
The rest of his turn was less eventful.  The McThralls swarmed the right objective and Gaspy dropped some nasty clouds on all three.  A single bonejack came around the far left flank.

Cryx turn two.

Khador - 0  Cryx - 1

My turn started poorly.  The bile-coated Doomie was killed in the pre-turn maintenance phase.

He never had a chance.  Other than the roll to expire the effect that is.

After that things got better. I had planned on attacking the left-most bonejack while EV was engaged in his turn.  When he moved it to the left it put a wrinkle in my plans as I wouldn't be able to drop a bombard on it and possibly scatter into the Bile Thralls.  Nonetheless I decided to kill the thing.  The first step in the process: Ice Cage.

Ice Caged.

Step two: send Ivan in with a full load of focus.  The result was inevitable: one wrecked bonejack.  I also moved the Devastator onto the left objective, taking a point of damage from Gaspy's cloud in the process.
One ex-arc node.

On the right, the Kodiak claimed the center objective at the cost of a damage box.  The Doomies that could see enemies charged and slayed them, while their mates ran alongside.

Infantry clearing at its finest.  And messiest.

Not to be left out, the Manhuntress killed the McThrall that had run up to her as if begging to be killed.
Manhuntress: "I'm helping!"

Vlad and his dog went left with the jacks to keep them in range for a potential feat turn, and that was it for the second turn.
Khador turn two.

Khador - 2  Cryx - 1

Turn 3

One of the things I've learned about playing Warmachine is to trust in the Motherland's armor.  She slaps it on thick and plentiful, and it will see you through a lot of bad situations.  Being charged by two McThralls and a Brute Thrall doesn't normally rank as a bad situation for me, but this time around it went about as bad as I could imagine.  My poor Kodiak got hammered by the undead conglomerations for a surprising amount of damage, but still limped along.
Way too much damage for three models.

The limping didn't last too long though as the Cankerworm came in to finish the job.  I got a slight twinge of enjoyment when I found out that the Kodiak's POW 4 open fist was a worse weapon than whatever the Cankerworm would be replacing. 
Poor Kodiak did about as well as the Manhuntress normally does.

Things turned around soon enough.  EV advanced his Bile Thralls to spray all over Vlad and the Koldun Lord.  I had thought to hide them behind the Devastator to block LoS, and therefore block the Purge, but then I found out that only terrain blocks LoS in that way.  All was not lost though as the Wardog leapt in cut down the lead Thrall.
Go dog go!

EV was a bit downcast after finding out about that the Wardog got to retreat after charging, keeping it safe from biley retribution.  It must have affected him as the following Purge killed more of his models (two) than my own (none, though the Devastator was Corroded).  The bile, it cuts both ways.
Best Purge Ever.

While charging the Kodiak, the McThralls also took out a Doomie but failed to get the Manhuntress.  EV did take the center objective though and bagged a pair of points as a result.  He also forgot to drop any of Gaspy's templates.
Cryx turn 3.

Khador - 2  Cryx - 3

With all the bodies packed in by the Doom Reavers, you just knew that body parts would go flying.  Sure enough they did and when the bloody fog cleared the Doomies were left in sole possesion of the center objective.  The Manhuntress got into the act as well, skirting around one Thrall to also engage the last member of its squad and kill both.
No more McThralls.

That was about it for my turn.  The Devastator stayed on the left objective and Black Ivan moved up in support.  Vlad moved away from the Thralls and their future Purges.
Khador turn 3.

Khador - 5  Cryx - 3

Turn 4

EV must have learned his lesson about Purging last turn because his next attempt was more successful.  He took the Doomies down to a single lunatic and didn't kill any of his own models.  Aside from the Thrall that Purged of course, plus Corroding his remaining bonejack.
Better for EV, worse for me.

Then Gaspy popped up and finished off the remaining Reaver, plus the Manhuntress, while also taking the center objective.
Being and Lich Lord doesn't excuse you from getting your hands dirty.

On the left the Bane Thralls charged the Devastator, but didn't make much of an impression.  They did some good damage, but didn't take out any systems, probably because only two of them made it into attack range.  The Withershadow Combine moved up to take the right objective, bringing EV within a single point of victory.
Cryx turn four.

Khador - 5  Cryx - 6

I had a great plan all cooked up to win the game.  Pop Vlad's feat and kill Gaspy.  Unfortunately Gaspy has a spell that makes 5" of difficult terrain around him.  And it prevents him from being charged.  Vlad's feat also doesn't affect him(!), but being unable to charge Gaspy had pretty much shut down my plan already.  I still popped his feat though and charged the Devastator off (more on that in a second).  Ivan followed up and blasted some Bane Thralls to little bits while securing the left objective.
Boom goes the bombard.

I wanted to charge the Devastator into Gaspy, but with his spell of annoyance I couldn't do that.  Instead I looked around for something beyond Gaspy to charge, knowing that I'd fail my charge but hoping that I'd end up next to Gaspy and able to blast him with the Devastator's autohitting, boostable POW 18 Rain of Death.  That didn't quite work out.  I sent the Devastator after the distant Bile Thrall, Bulldozing the Cankerworm out of the way in the process.  I contacted Gaspy's base and would have stopped there if given the choice, free to blast away.  When EV wanted a free strike with the Cankerworm the books came out and we learned a couple things.  First, you can free strike when something leaves your front arc but not when you get Bulldozed away.  Second, that you must charge your full distance and if you fail to contact your target your activation is over.  This meant that my Devastator sailed off into the distance, unable to do anything to Gaspy.  This was the game in effect, as I ended with six points and no way to keep EV away from the single point he needed for victory.
Khador turn four.

Khador - 6  Cryx - 6

Turn 5

EV sent his Bane Thralls in against Ivan.  They did a number against him, but the jack still stood in the end.  Nothing else went anywhere, EV collected a pair of control points, and that was that.

End of game.
Khador - 6  Cryx - 7

Without taking anything away from EV, this was a game that I lost as much as one that he won.  As soon as the Devastator's failed charge was resolved, I saw that I didn't have to charge anything.  I could have just run straight into Gaspy and Bulldozed him off the objective.  In trying to stick to my plan of cutting a path to Gaspy, I lost sight of the other road to victory and ended up losing as a result.  After this initial encounter I can say the eGaspy is everything the internets say he is.  Mobile, versatile, a toolbox spell list, and a nasty feat that I didn't have to face.  Next time that I know I'll be facing him I'll bring a more considered list instead of a flight of fancy.

All that said, this was a very entertaining game.  EV despaired at least twice this game, when he forgot to put out Gaspy's array of templates and after one of the not entirely successful Purges, but he still pulled out the win.  The Withershadow Combine and Bloat Thrall never really entered the game, once again proving the effectiveness of Cryx infantry overload.  I was particularly disgusted by the havoc a pair of McThralls, and a Brute Thrall, wreaked on my Kodiak.  That's perhaps two points worth of models, probably less, that all but finished a Khadoran heavy that had a single box of damage on it.  That just seems wrong.  In the end it was a close fought game that came down to the wire.  Both sides had their ups and downs, but we also both had a good time, and that's the point of the exercise.


  1. Yeah, the botched dropping of Caustic Mist really annoyed me, the fluffed Bile Thrall purge is par for the course when I try to force the purge. my bad on both accounts.

    A note on the whole going first thing- I'm just so used to having to go first (I think it's happened just about every time we've played) that I went on autopilot. In my defense, I did offer to return everything to it's original position no less than five times- and with more than a few apologies!

    In the end it was a good game, and a nail biter right up to the end. I'm going to have to learn how to deal with that stupid bulldoze ability, for sure.

  2. No worries on the going first front, these things happen. As close as the game was I don't know that it mattered that much, and you were certainly ready to reset after I looked up. Bulldoze is a great toolbox sort of ability, not up to the Undead level of usefulness but it certainly has the potential to be a game-breaker. We're getting a handle on it collectively as the interactions can be complicated. I dread the day when I Bulldoze one model into another and we have to figure out what happens...

  3. great battle report. I have really enjoyed them so far!

    what were the conditions to hold an objective? I've never played this mission I think. is it just the closest model to the objective gets points? or base contact with the objective on your turn?

  4. This is mission #2 in Prime Mk.2, Killing Field. Bad name for the game type IMO. The objectives are the size of the large bases (50 mm),, which makes it handy to use said large bases as the markers like we did in our most recent game. At the end of your turn you score points for each objective that is occupied by just your troops (with the normal caveats about inert jacks, CMD 0 models, etc). First to seven wins, you start accruing points in turn two. Despite getting boned hard by it yesterday I really like this scenario. There's a bit more strategy to it than the killbox/no man's land sort of games.