Friday, October 14, 2011

Afternoon of the Wolf: Harkevich vs Siege

Feel the power.
Part of my painting zeal of earlier this week was the result of my desire to try out some of my new models.  A fully painted (except for a Dullcote) Harkevich was eager to see the table, while newly constructed non-proxy Black Ivan and some Bombardiers had cherries in need of popping.  I took a couple swings at a Harkevich list, probably a dozen or so before I was finally satisfied.  I toyed with Ivan and a Destroyer, but I didn't have enough Focus to Broadsides every turn.  Yet I had too much Focus to just shoot two boosted Bombards since Ivan boosts attacks for free while in control range of Harkevich.  Once I paired Ivan with a more focus hungry melee jack like a Juggernaut or Kodiak, things started looking better.  The Devestator also came to mind, but after Crippling Grasp shut it down last game I looked to the cheaper options.  When mixed with some Winter Guard and a smattering of solos I was pretty satisfied.  A little too satisfied in the end, or perhaps too little satisfied, as I ended up with three versions of the same list.  The choice of a tier list, a list with Greylords, and a list with a Koldun but no Ternion was too close to call, so I sought an unbiased opinion.  Before we got down to business I labeled the three lists and gave EV a choice of A, B, or C.  He picked A, the Koldun but no Ternion list, which is:

35+5 points, 22 models

Kommander Harkevich, The Iron Wolf  +5 points
* Black Ivan  10 points
* Juggernaut  7 points
* War Dog  1 point

Koldun Lord  2 points
3 Man-O-War Bombardiers  7 points
Man-O-War Kovnik  3 points
Manhunter  2 points
10 Winter Guard Infantry  6 points
* Winter Guard Officer & Standard  2 points

The idea here is to load the Juggy with as much Focus as it wants, have the Koldun give Ivan a Focus to boost his damage roll, upkeep Escort and Fortune (which goes on the Bombardiers).  Joe and the Winter Guard are autonomous and can either screen or go after objectives.  The Man-O-War Kovnik is there to Slam things to set up templates or to be a tough little Weapon Master, and the Manhuntress over the Widowmaker Marskman because I have enough shooting as it is.  With my failure to launch the last time we had the three objective scenario I did some planning while writing the list.  The WGI could hold one down and the jacks would hold the other two, with Hark and the Bombardiers between them.  Otherwise I would run the WGI in front and arc shots over them, then pop my feat and charge with the jacks once melee is joined.

My list was influenced by what I expected to see from EV, namely a Cryx horde list.  The two jacks were a bit much, but I figured all the templates should be able to cover for the lack of Doom Reavers.  Plus there's always Winter Guard sprays.  Imagine my surprise when I'm looking at the dirty swan across the table instead of a motley group of undead.  EV stole a march on me and fielded a shootyish Siege list of:

35+5 points, 21 models

Major Markus 'Siege' Brisbane  +5 points
* Defender  9 points
* Stormclad  10 points

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages  6 points
* Gun Mage Officer  2 points
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios  3 points
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator  1 point
Stormblades  5 points
* Stormblade Officer & Standard  3 points
Stormsmith Stormcaller  1 point

My first thought on seeing all the guns was the I wished I had brought the Ternion.  Their clouds would help cover the lack of Iron Flesh on the Winter Guard, at least against ranged attacks.  EV did bring a pair of heavies though, which is a bit unusual, which would give my own heavies plenty of damage boxes to tick.  The enemy jacks would be easier targets for the Bombardiers as well as a good recipient of a Kovnik Slam.  Eiryss is never a welcome sight but I figured I had enough templates that I would get her with blast damage soon enough.

We rolled for scenario before placing terrain this time and came up with...Killing Fields.  AKA the three objective scenario.  My preparations had paid off.  EV won the center forest roll and elected to not place a center forest.  After a few rounds of terrain placing I put down a forest (because you can't have a game of Warmachine without some trees), and we ended up with a sparse town setup.  EV also won the roll to go first.

EV looked to have a similar strategy to mine.  He put the Stormcaller alone on the right, put the Stormblades in the center with the Stormclad, and had the Gun Mages on the left.  Siege and the Defender sat between the two units.  My first impulse was the send the WGI to the woods where they could make short work of the Stormcaller and then hold the objective.  The left and center were where the action would happen, so I reconsidered the WGI and put them on the left opposite the Gun Mages.  Harkevich and the jacks took the center lane, and the Bombardiers were in the middle to help both sides, and the Manhuntress would hunt the Stormcaller and then camp on the objective.  When Eiryss landed a little right of center I was pleased.  She would either be in range of my templates or off on the flank away from my jacks and Harkevich.  I hoped the Manhuntress would be able to take care of her, but if she just held the elven hooker up for a few rounds I'd be happy enough.


Turn 1

Despite a discussion on whether or not EV could shoot me in my deployment zone on the first turn (it would have required a 5" scatter roll in the right direction), our first turns went as most do.  EV ran, while I ran and cast upkeeps.  Escort on Harkevich, Fortune on the Bombardiers.  I took a potshot at Eiryss with Ivan, but the scatter wasn't favorable.  Because I had deployed Hark behind the jacks and wanted to cast Escort before they moved, he ended up further back than I would have liked, but I used the opportunity to keep him well away from Eiryss and (hopefully) safe from being shot by her.  The WGI spread way out to minimize template damage while the center got a little crowded.

End of turn one.
Turn 2

EV kicked things off by moving Eiryss up and firing a Disruptor shot at Ivan.  No one likes a Disrupted jack, but since I had the Koldun with Power Booster to go with free boosted attack rolls from the affinity, things could have been much worse.

Eiryss pops her head out, sorta.

We discussed the Stormcaller before the game.  EV pointed out that all it could do was a particular ranged skill (not an attack), which I noted and promptly forgot about.  Fast-forward to now when that Stormcaller has advanced to the right objective, which is very close to my Manhuntress.  Then EV reminds me again, after I ask about Stealth, that the Stormcaller has a skill and not an attack, so he can try and zap the Manhuntress with a simple skill check instead of trying to hit her with an attack.  The skill check succeeds, but the damage roll is not so impressive and the Manhuntress escapes with a painful but not mortal shock.

With all that fur she's sure to be packing a big static charge now.
The Defender took a long shot, with Explosivo, at the Bombardiers, but didn't do any damage.

At least the Defender made sure the Bombardiers were awake.
Siege joined in with a Ground Pounder.  One Tough WGI got knocked down, but the other two escaped unharmed.

The ground, it is pounded.
In the center the Storm group advanced and took the middle objective.  With the Stormcaller on the right, EV scored a pair of points.  I caught a break when he activated Siege before Reinholdt, so I only got one template from him.  The Manhuntress was alive and ready to kill the Stormcaller, while Eiryss looked to be in range of quite a few templates.

Cygnar turn two.
Khador - 0  Cygnar - 2

I started with the most isolated action and charged the Manhuntress into the Stormcaller.  The Cygnaran went down quickly, leaving the Manhuntress alone on the right objective.

Man hunted.
In the middle I sent the template squad forward.  Ivan and a pair of Bombardiers shot at Eiryss and missed, though one scattered into the Stormblades and killed one.  The other Bombardier shot the Stormclad and did some damage, plus it killed another Stormblade.  No damage to Eiryss though.

I drop bombs like someone who has four AoE weapons at his command.
Hark valiantly led the Koldun Lord from the rear while the War Dog stood in front of its master.  I pushed the Kovnik up to block off more LoS to my caster and make it as hard as possible for Eiryss to get a shot at the bearded Iron Wolf.  The Winter Guard moved up to occupy the left objective and put a CRA into Siege.  The attack was disappointing as I'd forgotten to activate Joe before the Winter Guard.  It may have done a couple points of damage.  At least the Winter Guard would be Tough for the turn to come. Also I tied the score at two by securing the two flank objectives.

Khador - 2  Cygnar - 2

Khador turn two.
Turn 3

There was much muttering on EV's side of the table in the first two turns.  He would forget to allocate Focus, or activate Reinholdt at the wrong time, or forgetting to boost Ground Pounder attacks.  This form of entertainment ended in the third turn as he got his ducks all lined up at the same time.  Focus went out, Reinholdt got a rocket ready for Siege, who then popped his feat.  The Motherland plates the armor on thick as her primary means of defending her jacks, so anything that messes with that armor (like halving it against the first damage roll) is cause for concern.  I had to wait a bit for it to come into play though since it was rocket time.  When the smoke cleared Siege had killed three Winter Guard.

Keep pounding that ground.
Next the Stormclad charged the Kovnik and made short work of the Man-O-War.  I was looking forward to Slamming something, or at least getting off a nice swing of the axe, but all I got out of the Kovnik was a Shield Cannon shot that didn't do any damage.  Maybe next time, Kovnik.

Happy trails Kovnik.  You died too soon.
At last the real pain began.  The Kovnik was just out of Siege's feat zone, but the jacks were well in range.  EV shot the Gun Mages at Ivan but missed thanks to Reach on the Stormblade putting him in melee.  The miss allowed him to Dodge back a bit from the onrushing Stormblades.  He didn't get quite far enough though as a pair of the Cygnaran infantry made successful charges.  Between the feat, a CMA, and a bonus from being close to the Stormclad, the two chargers did 19 damage to Ivan in a single shot, wiping out his cortex but leaving his other systems intact.  The charge also caught a Bombardier who died like the Kovnik before him.

Quite the punch from two guys.
To round out the turn the Defender killed another Bombardier, leaving just one member of the squad alive.  There was good fortune for me amidst all the wreckage though.  EV had neglected to leave anyone on the objective in his zeal for destruction, so he didn't score any points.  I was ready for a feat-fueled counter Charge and would need to do some good damage after the licking I took in the middle.

Khador - 2  Cygnar - 2

Cygnar turn three.
I loaded the Juggernaut to the brim with Focus and let Fortune expire with the intent to recast it on Ivan.  Harkevich went first and popped his feat. then put himself away from Eiryss as best possible and didn't cast Fortune on Ivan.  What I thought would be a glorious counter-charge turned into a colossal bungle when the Juggernaut was too close to charge.  Instead he walked forward and took some big chunks out of the Stormclad.  I boosted and crit with the first attack, the poured two more axes in after that.  The Stormclad lost a couple systems but wasn't quite wrecked.  With no cortex to hold Focus on Ivan, the Koldun Lord was off Power Booster duty.  He stepped up and sprayed the Stormblades, killing three of them in an attempt to clear a lane for Ivan to charge the Stormclad.  Ivan couldn't route a charge through the Stormblades and into the Stormclad despite Bulldoze though, so he swung and missed at one of the troopers in front of him.  There was no reroll for Fortune since I forgot to cast it.

Ivan let me down, but the others made the best of the situation.
Next the lone remaining Bombardier charged a lone Stormblade and cut him down with his massive chainsaw.

Getting up close and personal.
Meanwhile, back on the left, the Winter Guard sent more bodies forward and pumped another CRA into Siege.  This time they did some decent damage (7), thanks in part to Joe activating before the unit and boosting their attacks.

Chipping away.
Out of frame on the right, the Manhuntress shifted on the objective to be buried in the middle of the woods to the best of her ability.  I didn't really get what I wanted to done in my feat turn.  The lack of the charges hurt because of no charge dice on any hits, but also because I didn't get the extra shot with Ivan because he was in combat (which I should have realized).  I'd still get the +3 ARM in the next turn, but I botched things pretty well.  The Stormblades were mostly done, but the Gun Mages and Defender were all-but untouched, while Siege himself and the Stormclad were dinged but alive.  Eiryss was still out there too.  I was ahead in the scoring though.  Things could have been better, but they could have been worse too.

Khador - 4  Cygnar - 2

Khador turn three.
Turn 4

Reinholdt and Siege kicked it off again with Ground Pounder.  The two attacks took out another three Winter Guard.  There's a huge difference on the table between DEF 14 and 17, despite how close the numbers are on paper.

That Ground Pounder sure is nasty.
Then the Defender joined in and killed another brave Khadoran soldier.  Things were getting thin in the Guard.  I was down to six bodies, one of which was the Standard, plus Joe.  The Officer was killed in one of the blasts from Siege.

Your sacrifice will be remembered by a delightful teddy bear.
Over on the right Eiryss charged the Manhuntress but missed her attack.  EV later figured out he would have been better off shooting than entering melee.

Strike one.
EV did some damage to my jacks this turn, but the extra feat armor softened the blow.  Ivan took some more damage, the Juggy lost his fist, but nothing major changed on either jack.  The Gun Mages had occupied the middle objective, but I still held the left one, while the right was the scene of the duel between the Manhuntress and Eiryss.

Khador - 4  Cygnar - 3

Cygnar turn four.
The slap fight continued on the right when the Manhuntress missed both swings on Eiryss.  Granted she needed an 8 to hit, but that's not too much to ask for out of two chances.  Instead the combat raged on, though Eiryss wasn't on the objective.

An epic girl fight in the making.
Siege had been standing more or less in the open for a couple turns now.  Though I'd popped a couple WGI CRAs into him, I hadn't made a concerted push against him yet.  After the Juggy finished off the Stormclad (it was down to 5 boxes), the guns turned towards the Cygnaran caster.  First a Bombardier landed a hit and did a bit of damage.  Then Ivan joined the party and hit with his Bombard, thanks in large part to the auto-boost from Harkevich.  He did six damage to Siege, leaving him a fruit ripe for the picking despite camping enough Focus to be ARM 20.

Black Ivan finally redeems himself after a lackluster game.
The Wolf himself took the final shot.  In this case the internets were right: boosted POW 12s kill casters.  Hark had plenty of Focus to boost the attack and damage rolls.  After the dice had settled, Siege was down and Khador had taken the day.

End of game.

Things went more or less to plan for me.  The Winter Guard locked down the left objective, the Manhuntress held the right objective (and drew Eiryss away from the main battle as well), and the heavy armor mucked it up in the center.  I made a pair of big gaffs this game.  The lesser was forgetting to recast Fortune in turn three.  The greater was botching my feat turn.  Part of it was being unfamiliar with the feat itself, but I also should have remembered I needed to move at least 3" to be able to Charge regardless of whether the Charge is a regular one or enabled by a feat.  The Bombardiers were underwhelming, though they did take out most of the Stormblades and contributed to Siege's demise.  I probably should have sent the Juggy up alone to eat the charges in the middle while Ivan and the Bombardiers stayed back to form a second wave.  Instead I clogged the middle for myself and got all my pieces in the way of each other.  The Winter Guard did what I wanted them to: draw lots of fire, put out some damage, and hold an objective, all without any attention from Harkevich or the rest of my army.  I probably came out on the high side of average in the dice, while EV probably came out on the low side.  It took him a few turns to get Siege and Reinholdt to play nice together, plus there was a curious lack of Foxholes throughout.  It was a close game despite that.  If another Stormblade or two got into Ivan he could have easily been wrecked, and the Juggy was dinged up as well.  The Gun Mages could have CRA'd either one off the table, not to mention the Defender or Siege himself.  Had Eiryss taken out the Manhuntress things could have gone very differently, though ultimately where Siege stood is what undid him.  I liked how Harkevich played with Ivan and a melee jack.  Focus was always sufficient, even with upkeeps and the occasional spell.  The Juggy was a solid performer, and Ivan really speaks for himself.  Despite losing his cortex, the affinity made sure his Bombard stayed accurate and a POW 14 on your head is going to hurt most anyone even without boosting.  I wish the Kovnik had gotten a Slam off, but there's always next game.

Get those Pens!

In unrelated news, the Caps beat the Penguins 3-2 in overtime.  It was their first meeting of the year.  It's early, but the Caps are undefeated after three games, two of which came against good teams in the Pens and Tampa Bay.  A good start to the season.

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