Saturday, July 13, 2013

Journeyman 2013 Battle Report: Terror!

Different terror, but worth your time.
Painting for this year's Journeyman league has been underway for about a month now, but this week dice joined brushes and the battles began.  Since I'm still easing back into Khador, and Warmahordes in general, so the Journeyman league is a good opportunity to paint some of the many stragglers and get back in the Khadoran groove.  At the FLGS Thursday night (Warmahordes night) I heard the call for a Journeyman game, and with the need for practice in the back of my mind I snapped up the gauntlet.  Scant moments later I realized what I had gotten myself into, namely a game with Chris (pg_verlos) and his notoriously hot dice.  It would really be more accurate to say he has a notoriously hot dice rolling hand as his powers function regardless of what dice he's using.  When you add in that he's a very good player you know that you're facing a tough fight when you see him across the table.

With a potent challenge awaiting me I was sure to take all of five seconds picking a list I had ready to go on my phone.  The first week's games have a suggested level of 15 points, which is what we went with.  Apparently the games were supposed to be Highlander as well, just like the tournament tomorrow, so it was fortunate that the list I picked fit the format.  The list was: pButcher, a Kodiak, a Juggernaut, Widowmakers, and the Manhuntress.  Chris fielded Garryth, a Phoenix, Mage Hunter Infiltratos, and a Mage Hunter Assassin.  While we were setting up there was much chuckling over how what was supposed to be a thrown together Ret list was actually pretty good and boned my army hard with all the Stealth and Arcane Assassins.  At least I had more jacks (2 to 1) and more Weapon Masters (I think, though perhaps Garryth is one).  It would also be a learning experience as I'd never seen Garryth or Infiltrators and had no real idea what a Phoenix did.  Our scenario was Chemical Reaction.


Setup was pretty simple with so few models.  I put Orsus between the jacks with the Widowmakers in front and the Manhuntress off to the side.  Chris deployed in much the same way except that his unit didn't Advance Deploy and his solo was on the opposite side from mine.  I didn't get a picture of the setup so you'll have to wait for the next one and use your imagination to move my models back.

Turn One

A little more than 24 hours after the game I'm no longer sure who won the roll to go first.  My guess is Chris did because it involved rolling high and I tend to go second.  However it happened, I got the action started.  Fury went on the Kodiak and everything moved up.

Khador turn 1
Chris took much the same approach, namely moving things forward.  He did shoot down one of my Widowmakers with the Phoenix.

One less Widowmaker.
In this end of turn shot you can see the Manhuntress way out on the flank.  I wanted to use her to contest/control zones and provide some backfield pressure, so I sent her far to the side to hopefully avoid getting picked off by the MHI who would have to stay in command.

Ret turn 1
Turn Two

I had quite the choice in my second turn: shoot the objective or shoot the jack.  I went with the jack and plinked three points off its shield.

Better than nothing?
That was all the deciding I had to do.  My jacks were well out of charge range, as was the Butcher, and I wasn't close enough to lob spells or take a blunderbuss shot.  I did toe both zones with my jacks and tried to spread them out enough to make it hard for the MHI to engage both while staying in formation but not spread so far that they were out of the Butcher's control area.

Khador turn 2
When the elves went again I lost another Widowmaker.  I think it was Garryth who did the deed this time.  To add insult to injury, the Phoenix (and maybe all Ret jacks) regenerates damage to its shield in the maintenance phase.  It only got back two of the three points my Widowmakers did though, so it could have been worse.

Another one bites the dust.
Then I lost the rest of the Widowmakers to a MHI charge.  Chris was cunning enough to stay out of Terror range.  He also ran one Infiltrator over to engage the Kodiak.

Infiltrating, but not like this.
The rest of the Infiltrators hung back, as did the Assassin and Phoenix.  The scenario went live but nobody scored.

Ret turn 2

Turn Three

My options weren't looking so hot at this point.  Outside of a silly Butcher advance and Obliteration I had no way to damage the objective, let alone destroy it.  I could have taken an equally silly swing at clearing the right zone with a Manhuntress charge on the rear Infiltrator, but she was well out of range.  A Kodiak trample over the engaging Infiltrator wouldn't have gotten it far enough to swing on the one at the back of the zone and would have left it over-extended.  There was also the small matter of all those Infiltrators waiting to murder Orsus, plus the Assassin looking to do the same, to say nothing of Garryth or the Phoenix.

Pulling up my socks, I went about exercising the few options available to me.  I let Fury drop and gave the Juggernaut two Focus, then used that Juggernaut to slam one Infiltrator into another and take them both out.  The Kodiak used Vent Steam to clear out the Infiltrator standing in front of it.  Orsus took a step forward and cut down the remaining MHI on the hill.  Then I did something I never do, something I instruct anyone in ear shot to never do, something I made double sure to tell Ron not to do when he started playing pButcher, something I further made sure to call Ron's attention to when I did it: I cast Obliteration with the Butcher.

This is a bad idea on many levels.  Obliteration costs 2/3 of the Butcher's available six Focus, and if you actually want to hit with it you'll probably need to boost the attack roll as well.  In this case I wasn't worried about wasting all the Focus I could otherwise be camping since (nearly) the entire Ret army ignores camped Focus.  Since I was chucking the spell at Stealthed models I wasn't worried about hitting, so I could skip the boost.  I got a decent deviation and killed a pair of Infiltrators with the blast.  As a final trick I started bringing the Manhuntress back to the center of the table as she didn't have to worry about drawing attention from the Infiltrators anymore.

In the end I had Orsus hanging out by himself staring down a half dozen angry elves.  This is not a great situation to be in, but I had cleared out as much as I could and had nothing left but to hope for the best.  The final ace up my sleeve was Terror.  I've won more than a few games by throwing an Abomination model, typically a Forsaken, into a vital enemy unit and hoping for a failed command check.  It's a real long shot, but when grasping at straws you don't discard some just because they're flimsy.

Khador turn 3.  The Juggy is on the hill but wouldn't stand there.
The Ret turn began with Garryth moving up and casting Gallows on Orsus.  I had hoped a DEF 16 Butcher (elevation being my only real defense) would keep the spell from landing, but that didn't work out.  I got fortunate when Chris only rolled a 1 for pull distance though.

Orsus got Gallowsed, but there was no pole involved.
Next came the MHI charge.  Fingers were crossed for the command check...which was a typical hot dice roll and thus a fail.  Undeterred, Chris soldiered on and sent in the Phoenix.  It missed its swings.  There was still another bullet to dodge in the form of a Mage Hunter Assassin.  At first I thought it couldn't make it into melee range, but then I remembered the 4" reach it has.  The lack of Fearless on the Assassin was surprising, but nowhere near as much as the second failed command check.

Somehow Orsus had stared Ceratin Death in the face and gotten Death to blink first.  When Chris was distraught I could understand as the events that had just unfolded were unlikely at the very least.  Then he started talking about having just blown the game by scenario.  It took me a minute to figure it out, but I saw he was right.  I scored in his turn for controlling the zones and could do nothing in my turn, score again, and take the win.

I won?  No, Terror won.  I was just there.
I'd love dearly to take credit for this win, but I just can't do it.  While I had the idea of Terror in mind, it's nothing to bank on.  Chris does have a red hot dice hand, which worked against him in this case, but I can't claim to have engineered a situation where his natural talents would work against him quite like they did here.
I also didn't realize just how certain the Butcher's death would have been if not for those failed checks.  Turns out the Infiltrators and Assassin are effectively Weapon Masters when hitting spell casters.  I thought I had a reasonable, if small, chance of surviving a MHI charge since Orsus has respectable base stats and plenty of boxes, but that was before I found out about the extra die against casters.

In the end this wasn't a game that I won, it was a game that Chris lost.  I'm not sure what I could have done better considering the matchup.  My Widowmakers were effectively useless.  With everything except the jack having Stealth the only option they had was to get up close and shoot, which would lead to a quick and messy death the following turn.  The MHI were spread out enough that I would be unlikely to get a good Trample off, especially with Chris being savvy enough to avoid putting himself in that situation.  The usual Butcher defensive tactics of Iron Flesh and (nearly) full camp won't work against all the Arcane Assassins, and there was no real way to hide him with the medium base and all the Acrobatic elves looking to do murder.  I suppose I could have used the Manhuntress more effectively, which is to say at all, but she too was outclassed by the opposing field who all had longer threat ranges and potentially 4" reach as well.

Despite all that, a win is a win and I'll take this one even if I did back into it.  It was also very satisfying to see Chris's dice work against him for once.  I may have discovered an effective tactic against him.  Now the trick will be to make sure he doesn't sniff out any future command check traps I might lay.


  1. Thanks a lot for that instructive-introduction level batrep, i am new to warmachine and 50pt batreps seem to overwhelming to me.I enjoy reading yours

    1. Glad you enjoyed this little report. 50 point games look intimidating until you get stuck in with them. Once I played a couple I got a taste for them. Now 35 seems too tight, and anything under that is an exercise in cutting far too deep. Now I'm looking at 75 points the way I used to eye 50. If 75 feels good and makes 50 feel constrictive then trying to make 15 or 25 work will be a nightmare, though an entertaining one.