Sunday, 15 September 2013

Warmachine Battle Report: 26 point Merc on Merc action

Luke and I played another game tonight. I was eager to try out my Ashlynn conversion and my newly arrived Gun Mages along with some re-painted miniatures from seven years ago. Luke was eager to try out his newly arrived Rhulic army (the whole lot arrived on Saturday and he managed to assemble, clean, base and undercoat the lot in time for today's game). 

This is only my third game of Warmachine since 2006, the last two having been played last week. So expect some stupid mistakes on my part.

So that Luke could fit in as much of the new stuff he wanted to try out as possible, we elected to play a 26 point game, rather than the more common 25pts. 

My Army (Highborn Covenant):
Ashlynn and the Highborn Covenant

Ashlynn (+6 Jack Points)
*Nomad 6pts
Arcane Gun Mages with UA 8pts
*Mule marshalled by UA 8pts.
Min Highshields 5pts
Gorman 2pts
Reinholdt 1pt

I knew this was not a balanced force, but it essentially consists of all the miniatures I had painted (except a Talon) plus a little extra. Because we were planning on doing a battle-report, I elected not to proxie and therefore ended up with a very ranged-heavy army. Normally, I'd have used Steelhead's instead of the Highshields and used the extra point to swap out Reinholdt for Rupert.

Luke's Army (Seaforge Commission):

General Awesome
*2 Groundback Gunners
*1 Groundback Blaster
Tactical Arcanist Corp
Max Forgeguard
Herne & Johnne.

Scenario and Deployment:
A Scenario victory called for each player to capture and hold two 10" diameter control boxes. Any player who controlled both boxes after the second players turn 2 would win the game. We didn't have 10" diameter circles (bad planning on my part) so we used the lids of two kid's shoe-boxes instead and decided to count them as hills.
Side View of the table prior to deployment.
I won the dice roll and elected to go second. Luke deployed his miniatures centrally to threaten both control zones. 

Seaforge Deployment

I deployed in a concentrated brick on the right of the table, making it appear as though I was ignoring the control zone on my left completely.

Highborn Covenant Deployment
My plan was to move the Highshields forward in shieldwall, use Ashlynn and Gorman to place cloud effects in front of them, and fire the Gun Mages through the Highshields and Clouds thanks to Ranked Fire from the Highshields and Tactics from the Gun Mage Unit Attachment. At some point I hoped to make a fast break for the left control zone with Gorman under Stealth and the Quicken spell and use the Mule and Gun Mages to knock Luke's miniatures out of the right hand control zone. As usual, the plan did not survive contact with the enemy...

Turn One:
Both sides do the Turn One run except for the Casters, Herne and John, and the Mule. General Awesome put's snipe on a the middle Gunner and gives Herne and John Fire for Effect. Tactical Arcanist Corps fail their rolls to drop smoke. Gorman drops smoke but Ashlynn is out of position to drop a Cloud effect (via the Tempest spell) next to Gorman's smoke due to range issues. She cast's Quicken on the Highshields and moves more centrally, but ends up fairly far behind her lines. Finally, she cast's Admonition on herself. Herne and John fire, but scatter uselessly. The Mule fires back, and also scatters uselessly.

A quick note: I know that casting Quicken (+2 Def) on a 10 Def unit is a typical example of reinforcing weakness, but since this was my first game with my own mini's for seven years I wanted to experiment a bit. My normal instinct would have been to cast it on the Gun Mages to make them Def 17. 

Turn Two:
On his turn, Luke casts Energise to give all the 'Jacks in his battle group a 3" move prior to their activation. After that, he walks a Blaster with a point of Focus forward and  uses it to kill Gorman, hiding out in the edge of his smoke cloud. I laughed my head off because I'd got my miniature recognition completely wrong and hadn't realised that Gorman was threatened. I thought I'd been looking at a Gunner, not a Blaster... The Nomad is in range of the spray, and loses a box in column one.
Bye Bye Gorman, we hardly knew thee....
Herne and Johnne (with Fire for Effect upkept) move forward into one of the ruins and rain fiery death of the Highshields, killing three (despite Shield Wall making them Arm19) and killing a Gun Mage behind them. The rest of his army moves up, with the Forgeguard entering the control zone on my right. The Tactical Arcanist Corp manages to get a single smoke spell off this turn.

On my Turn Two I allocate three Focus to the Nomad, upkeep Quicken and Admonition and pop Ashlynn's feat. Almost everything moves forward. The Nomad charges to engage both the Blaster and the Basher behind it. He strips away all but five boxes on the Blaster, crippling it's movement and weapon and does heavy damage to the Basher as well.

The Highshields fire a combined ranged attack at Johnne and take off just one damage box.The Gun-Mages then move forward and using their Snipe Rune-Shots take pot-shots at Herne and Johnne as well, but although all hit Johnne is left alive with one health box. The Mule fires and, due to Ashlynn's feat Rollette (which allow's me to roll two extra dice for my attacks and pick the highest) achieves a critical knockdown. Six of the Forgeguard go flying backwards, but due to bad damage rolls only one dies. And even then only because the push and knock-down effects apply BEFORE the damage roll, meaning he was no longer able to benefit from Defensive Line before taking damage.

I love Critical Knockdown
Turn 3:
On his turn 3 Luke again upkeeps Snipe and Fire for Effect. General Awesome them activates and uses his Feat, granting every friendly model in his control area +2 Arm, +2 SPD and Pathfinder. He then also uses Energiser, allowing his Basher to escape combat with my Nomad and moving the Snipe-Gunner into range of my Gun Mage UA. The Gunner then manages to hit and kill the Gun Mage UA despite being under the effect of Roulette (in my opponents turn after I pop Roulette, he rolls two extra attack dice and I pick the two highest to discard). Thereafter Herne and John go to work again and kill two of the remaining three High-Shields (they pass their command check) and two more Gun Mages, leaving me with just three of them on the board. Alas, the Gun Mages fail their command check.

Luke consults the Prime book because neither of us are sure how slam attacks work with Admonition: After careful reading, we agree that my impression of how it works sounds about right: if the Basher clams Ashlynn then she moves 3" away as soon as the Basher finished it's movement, preventing it from slamming as the Slam attack happens after the Basher finishes it's movement. 

Since we're playing for fun, we allow Luke to make a Slam attempt against the Mule instead, but the Slam attack fails because the last High Shield is in the way. The Basher makes the dwarf pay for his temerity with a frag cannon blast that kills him.

Failed Slam
The Forgefathers then charge in but the Mule has obscene luck (thanks to Roulette) and not one manages to land a blow. 

At this point I'm still quite happy despite my losses because I can see a number of possible assassination's next turn and mention this to Luke. Who promptly smirks and reminds me I forgot to take a command test for the Gun Mages. Double 6's.. ah well.

He then decides to rub it in by walking one of the TAC to engage my Nomad (but not before using another to set it on fire). He then uses the third to kill the Gun Mage on the far left with another fiery AoE. The Gun Mage who would have had the clearest shot at General Awesome next turn. In fact, the other two would've had good shots as well (despite the General being in cover). Not that it matters because of those bloody box cars....

On my turn 3 I'm so rattled by the failure of that command check that I fail to register that the Nomad can easily survive a free strike from an immobile Blaster and a single TAC and move to threaten a charge against the General next turn. So I allocate it no focus and despite auto-hitting the stunty little jack with both my sword and my shield due to it being stalled, I only reduce it to four boxes!

On the right, Ashlynn upkeeps Admonition and charges the Forgeuard. Luke's eye's widen a bit as she effortlessly mows down three of them and inflicts heavy damage on the Basher. The Mule then wanders left a bit (taking a nasty hit from the surviving Forgeguard in the process) and smacks the Basher with it's Mace but it will....not...die. I have a minor bout of self-rage when I realise I should have walked out of melee and shot at Herne and Johne. I'd have had a very good chance of clipping or even killing the General that way. But at the moment I'm too focused on playing for time and getting a sure-fire assassination next turn.
The situation at the end of Turn 3
Turn 4:
Luke throws everything he can at my two surviving Gun Mages, only killing one of them. His Basher moves around a bit without triggering a free strike to clear charge lands to Ashlynn prior to it's attacking her but Ashlynn skips away to the left, using up Adminishment which now expires. The Basher then has a go at the Mule and does minor damage. Five of the surviving Forge Guard charge Ashlynn and manage to inflict a whole two hit points of damage on her. Luke grimaces and gnashes his teeth a bit and tells me that Ashlynn is, in fact, pretty awesome. I agree, observing that Ashlynn is really hard to pin down in melee and that boosted AoE's and Knockdowns are really her only weakness.

The last Forgefather cheers him up a bit when it rolls triple box cars for damage and wrecks my mule.

At this point, he decides enough is enough and Ashlynn must die. Herne and Johnne (still under Fire for Effect) target the Forgeguard next to Ashlynn in the back and ends up killing two Forgeguard to take just three more health boxes off Ashlynn, leaving her on nine health.

My turn four looks like this:

It's looking pretty desperate but if I can last until turn 6 I stand a good chance of winning. I allocate two Focus to the Nomad and keep four for Ashlynn.

Despite auto-hitting with a POW 14 shield and a POW 17 sword the Nomad fails to kill the Blaster with it;s initial attacks, leaving it with one box. Sighing, and knowing that my back-up plan is certainly not going to work now, I spend a point of focus to kill the thing with another attack. I then use the last point of Focus to hopefully kill one of two Tactical Arcanist Corp engaged with the Nomad and wouldn't you know it, the little bugger survives with one health box!

Ashlynn massacres the two ForgeGuard she's base to base with using Flashing Blade for one focus but then I double check the charge lane before announcing a charge directly ahead and curse. That last Forgeguard (just in front of the Mule) is in my line. I have Parry, but can't afford to go base to base with him. So instead, I have to walk forward instead, going about half an inch out of my way to avoid his base. I move up the hill (which makes me happily Def 19) and shoot General Awesome with my Handcannon. He's well in range so we don't bothering measuring. Then I cast gallows, measure the range and f**k me if he isn't 1/2" out of range! The same 1/2" I had to use up to move around that blood Forgeguard! Luke manages not to laugh his head-off and commiserates instead. Gallows would have pulled Awesome out of cover and given the Gun Mage a direct shot instead of a shot at a focus camping dwarf in cover. Why I didn't try to use Gallow's first and then make the Hand Cannon shot at a target that would (ideally) have been out of +4 Def cover, I do not know.

So near...yet so far....
Speaking of which, I forgot something didn't I? I move the Gun Mage into range of a Brutal Takedown shot and then realise I forgot something else! The Command check comes up box-cars. This time Luke does laugh (which is okay because I'm laughing too). I move him to engage the Gunner just in front of him. After running Reinholdt up to engage the Basher (and prevent it from slamming Ashlynn next turn) I challenge Luke to do his worst next turn....

Turn 5:
And I think he mis-understood what I mean't. Everything. I mean everything in Luke's army shoots at or swings at the Def 19 Caster without any focus on top of the hill and even after all that she's still alive. Down to three health boxes, mind, but still alive. My luck in Luke's turn isn't that great when it comes to hitting things either. The Gun Mage gets a free back strike against a Gunner as it leaves melee to shoot Ashlynn and does nothing.

Annoyingly however, General Awesome manages to cast Stranglehold on Ashlynn, meaning she can either move or take an action next turn, but not both. Not that I need both, mind you, cos Luke actually moved him a bit closer to me....

But wait.... Luke still has the Basher. He obviously paid attention when I told him that Ashlynn hates AoE's because it walks up to her and pops the frag cannons. He does four points of damage to Ashlynn to Ashlynn, one more than she has, and I tip her over. Good game. I'd like to say well-played, but we both made so many stupid mistakes I'd be lying through my teeth if I did. But we both enjoyed it and that's all that matters,

Lessons Learned:
  • Herne and Johnne + Fire for Effect = Bad News
  • Blaster's have the circular magazine on their back. Gunner's don't.
  • Knockback before damage rolls is very useful against Defensive Lines and Shieldwalls.
  • Measure your control range before trying to cast Gallows
  • Use Gallows to drag someone out of cover THEN shoot them.
Looking Ahead:
We're playing another game at the local club tomorrow night, trying to drum up some interest. Because of the lighting conditions, we won't be taking photographs so there's no reason not to use Proxies. WEell be playing 30 points this time.I have a bunch of Crowe's cut-throats who will be standing in for Steel-Heads and I'm debating whether or not to swap out the High Shields for a Vanguard. Also, I'll be saying bye to Reinhardt for a while and replacing him with the Piper to bring my force up to 30 points. I have no idea what I'll be playing tomorrow. Luke's new Minuteman arrived yesterday as well, so I'm betting that I'll be facing either Kraye or Kara. I'll let you know how I get on.

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