Sunday, 22 September 2013

War Machine: Ashlynn vs Kara Battle Report *No Photographs this time*

Played another two games of Warmachine last Monday. Our plan to drum up interest in Warmahordes within the local community seems to be working. No sooner had we set up our game than we attracted a crowd of fellow gamers to watch the game. Most eventually drifted off to play their own games, but one stayed to watch the whole thing. Eventually, this led to my second game of the evening with a pair of starter boxes.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. 

The first game we played was 30 points. No photographs this time. We were playing in the basement of a pub. The upside is that game's nights have a great, convivial atmosphere. The downside is that taking decent photographs is next to impossible. Decent photographs or playing in a pub that serves real ale from local breweries? No contest really.

Game One: Ashlynn High Born Covenant vs Kara Sloan
No Man's Land

My List:
Gun Mages and UA
Max Forgeguard

His List:
-2x Hunters
Black 13th
Arcane Gun Mages and UA
Gun Mage Captain Adept

Scenario and Set-Up:
We decide to play a Prime mkII scenario and roll up No Man's Land. My eye's practically pop out of my head. Kara's list is all shooting and no melee. So I immediately abandon the plan I came up with when creating my Ashlynn list and decide to go for a scenario win instead. I win the dice-off and, erroneously believing that the objective can be controlled from the end of the second players turn two, I elect to go second and pick the table edge with the most cover.

Turn One:

On turn one, Kara's army moves up. My turn one I put one Focus on the Vanguard and one of the Nomad. Ashlynn gives the Vanguard quicken and, cackling like a maniac, I gleefully run the Vanguard 14" up the board to engage one of Kara's two hunters (completely forgetting that Hunter's have parry). I then run the Nomad up. I smile happily at Luke, who is practically bouncing in excitement. He just can't wait for my turn to end so he can pop his feat.

Turn Two:

Kara pops the feet and blasts the hell out of my sacrificial Jacks. She kills the Vanguard and Nomad but it takes everything her battle group has to do it. The Gun Mage Captain adept even has to finish off the Vanguard, which was sitting on one box. Luke seem's very pleased with himself, but I smile back gently and thank him for accepting the bait, I tell him I think he just wasted his feat killing two Jacks that have no command stat and therefore can't win the scenario for me. With the feat gone I'm pretty confident that Kara's army will now need at least two turns of shooting to kill Ashlynn with ranged attacks. This free's me up to play Ashlynn more aggressively than I could if he'd held the feat back for a bit.

Nearing the the end of his turn two, Luke has no models with a command score inside No Man's Land. I warn him that I can win the game next turn. BUT he still has the the Black 13th to activate. Although he doesn't yet advance into the zone, Ryan's AoE takes out FOUR of my Forgeguard, including the Leader. I sigh. Now three of my guys will have to run laterally towards the other group of three with the new leader. I think for a bit, turn back to look and say, "I can probably still kill your caster or win the scenario in two turns."

As it turned out, not being able to move the Forgeguard into No Man's Land in my turn two wouldn't matter. In No Man's Land controlling the zone only becomes important in turn 3. Ah well. 

Note to self: Read the darn scenario, stupid!

In my turn two, I kill Strangewayes with my Gun Mages and feel quite smug. I'm under the impression that Strangeways is actually marshaling the Minuteman (wrong again). I move the Forgeguard and Reinholdt forward a bit to block LoS from Kara to Ashlynn and the charge lane from the minuteman. My Mule kills a couple of Gun Mages and badly damages the Minuteman. I feel confident that I can basically ignore the Hunters, given that my Mule is at the opposite side of the table from them. The only Jack in Kara's list I need to worry about is the Minuteman, and with Admonition up he's not going to present too much of a threat to Ashlynn.

Turn Three:

Kara camps almost all her focus apart from one that she gives to the Minuteman. After the Gun Mage Captain clears up a LoS block by killing Reinhold, Kara shoots at Ashlynn with everything she has. Even the Hunter's and the Black 13th join in the fun. Ashlynn is Def 19 due to her base just barely touching a hill and despite having no focus takes just seven damage. 

Next the Miuteman walks up to her. So using Admonition Ashlynn walks round to the side of the Jack furthest away from Kara. This leaves her in melee range but out of base to base contact with the Jack. Frag Cannon's do nothing. With one focus on his Minuteman, Luke considers trying a two handed throw for a laugh "YES! Throw me towards Kara!", I reply and we have a bit of a chuckle about what a bad idea that would be. Instead he thinks about throwing me at a building. Realizing he would need elevens without a boost on the throw attack (only one focus to spend), Luke goes for a boosted fist attack and a normal fist attack. He misses with both.

I'm quite happy that the game is in the bag at this point. Luke has advanced his fragile Gun-Line into the No-Mans Land, but I'm about to charge the Black 13th, Gun Mages and Gun Mage Captain with the Forgeguard and Ashlynn. The plan thereafter being to blow away his remaining Gun Mages with my own.

Once again I announce that I can win in my next turn (not because I want to be a d**k, but because we're treating these games as a learning exercise. Sharing the reasons why we are about to do something or think a move is a good/bad idea is a good way to improve our skills). Luke therafter performs his usual act of jamminess and manages to kill another three Forgeguard with a Combined Range Attack from five Gun Mages. This forces a command check which I FAIL! 

Unbelievable. No charge from the Forgeguard this turn either! This is why I lost our last game. Because of failed command checks! 

Just losing three of the Forgeguard isn't have been a disaster in itself because with Roulette up next turn I'm sure I can gun down all Kara's Gun Mages with my own. But not being able to move the Forgeguard forward means that I'll have to try to kill the Black 13th AND the Gun Mage Captain with Ashlynn. A little harder, but it shouldn't be too difficult even with fairly average dice.

I study the board for a bit, humm and haw and say. "I'm still probably going to win next turn".

So on my turn, I pop my feat and charge the Black 13th with Ashlynn. I kill Ryan on the charge. I then Flashing Blade and kill a second Black 13th. BUT I spend all but one of my remaining focus trying to kill the last one. Why? Because despite the fact I announced I was popping my feet just thirty seconds before the charge I completely forget about the extra attack dice from Roulette!!!!! When I finally kill the last of the Black 13th, I've got just one focus left and no way to kill the Gun Captain Adept a mere inch away.

At this point, I realize I've lost the game. Kara will finish me off with her shooting next turn.

But I don't give up. I shoot with the Mule hoping for a deviation that will kill the Gun Mage Captain. I kill two Gun Mages instead because I actually hit when I was hoping to miss. Once again, I forget about Roulette. Then I kill all but two of Kara's Gun Mages with my own, missing only two (which I would have auto-killed with POW 10) because I forgot about Roulette!.

At the end of my turn, there are two Gun Mages and the Gun Mage Captain in No-Mans Land. So near but so far....

Turn Four:
Kara camps six focus for the second turn in a row. I forget about Roulette (AGAIN!). Ashlynn dies.


Talk about being your own worst enemy. Let's look at the things I did wrong right up until my Roulette turn:

1: I forgot Hunter's have Parry
2: I mis-read the Scenario and thought I could win it in turn two.
3: I killed Strangeways at the start of my second turn and proceeded to act under the incorrect assumption that the Minuteman had been marshalled to him, effectively cutting it's potential threat in half. Wrong!

Even after all the muck-ups, I still found myself in a position to win the game after popping my feat in turn 3. So what do I do? Not thirty seconds after popping my feat, I forget I've popped it.

Why? Well, honestly, it might have had something to do with my wife coming into the pub, kissing me on the cheek, saying hello to the guys and handing me some extra beer money. By the time I returned to the game, kisses and cash had put all thoughts of Roulette straight out of my mind! Not that I'm complaining though. I'll take a kiss and beer money from my wife over winning a game of Warmachine any day!

I asked Luke after the game if, now that he knew what my game plan had been, he regretted using his feat-turn to kill two non-scoring Jacks. He still thinks it was the right move and, true enough, he did win the game in the end. He also pointed out that he didn't want two enemy melee 'jacks clogging up No Man's Land. Even so I can't help but think that he would have lost the game had I not made that huge error with my feat turn at the end of my turn three. If he'd popped his feat at the start of his turn 3, Ashlynn would have been toast. He'd have won the game there and then without giving me the chance to secure a victory for myself my turn 3.

Anyway, with that out of the way, we set-up the board for a Starter Box game between myself and Troy, who'd been watching us battle it out for the last couple of hours.

Game Two: pStryker vs pSorcha Battle Boxes.

Troy elected to take Stryker by the simple expedient of rolling a dice that came up odds. Luke elected to assist Troy by explaining his options (but, to Luke's credit, not spoiling Troy's fun by telling him what to do).

I took Sorcha, and tried repeatedly to warn Troy about Sorcha's Wind-Rush assassination run, but Luke kept shushing me every-time I tried. He made the valid point that the best way for Troy to learn what Sorcha can do is to see it happen rather than be told what to watch out for.

Troy kept Blur on the Ironclad, Snipe on the Charger and Arcane Shield on the Lancer for most of the match. Early on, he cannily charged my Devestator with the (now Arm21) Lancer and, after taking out one cortex box with the spear, boxed the other two cortex slots with shield bashes. His Charger also made good use of focus points through-out the early game to put dents in my Juggernaut.

I eventually unleashed the classic Sorcha Feat-Wind-Rush-Tempest Assassination run against Stryker, knocking him down and taking him down to six health via Tempest and Razor Winds. I wasn't able to complete the classic combo of shooting him while he was down because the Devastator was still tied up in combat with the Lancer (which had been protected from Sorcha's feat due to being out of Los).

Troy let out a huge sigh of relief, then decided it was time to get his own back. Stryker threw everything he had against Sorcha. First with Eathquake (aimed at his own Charger, then still engaged with my Juggernaut) and then in melee. But at the end of all this she still had two boxes left! Two! So Stryker popped his feat for the extra +5 armour before ending his activation.

Sorcha stood up and gave back everything she could. But at the end of her activation Stryker still had one health left. Fortunately, Troy had disengaged his Lancer from combat with my Devastator (taking a nasty back strike that disabled his shield) to take out my knocked-down Juggernaut. Alas, the back-strike took out the Lancer's shield. This freed the Devestator to move forward on my turn and, in an act of desperation, shoot at Stryker. Yes, the same Styker in melee with Sorcha. I was hoping that a direct hit would kill him and that Sorcha could survive the blast. At worst, I thought we'd both be killed and force the draw. But, when we added up the sums, a hit was impossible and I managed to kill myself with the deviation!

After we all picked ourselves up off the floor, we had a chat about the game. I hope we've made a convert out of Troy. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself so, fingers crossed, I might have a second local opponent to play against.

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