Warmachine Battle Report: The Flailing of the Goldfish

I spent a good 5 hours goldfishing tonight (anyone who has played magic should be familiar with the term, its basically where you play against an opponent that doesn’t nothing to test the pacing/flow of your deck). I played one 41 point game of Warmachine against myself…and I learned a lot. My main force that I want to play in Warmachine is the Protectorate of Menoth (basically the religious faction that sets everything on fire!). It’s a faction that runs off of buffing its units to make them comically good and its still a faction I struggle to play and understand (as opposed to the Circle of Oroborous which I seem to intuitively understand how to finesse).

Lists

Menoth

Kreoss
Feora
Deliverers, 6 man unit
Exemplar Errents, 10 man unit
Vanquisher
Repenter
Crusader
Vassals, 2
Choir of Menoth, 4 man unit
Hierophant (attached to Kreoss)
Cinerators

Circle/Khador

Kaya
Feral Warpwolf
Winter Argus
Argus
Skinwalkers, 5 man unit
Sorcha
Man O War, 5 man unit
Destroyer
Juggernaut
War Dog

Set-Up

The mission was murder the opposing warnouns (locks/casters). The board had a row of chest high walls along one edge (cover), a blob of forest in the middle (difficult terrain and concealment), shallow water (difficult terrain), a building and a dice rolling box (both LOS-Blockers). Menoth won the roll and chose to go first (and thus deploy first).

Turn 1

Pretty typical turn 1 in Warmachine, Menoth did a lot of running (run run run run). The Errents moved into the forest. Kreoss dropped Defender’s Ward on the Errents. Feora buffed the Cinerators.

Khador and Circle did basically the same thing, the Skinwalkers moved to counter the Cinerators on the flank. The Man O Wars lined up in shield wall and marched forwards and the Circle Warbeasts took advantage of the lovely Man O War wall to hide behind.

Turn 2

Menoth took some pot shots and set some Man O Wars on fire. Eiryss ran back away from the Skinwalkers and the Errents spread out slightly in the forest. (I forgot to take a picture here).

Some light fire was shot back from the Man O Wars that didn’t really amount to anything. The Circle warbeats kept skittering around and the Khador jacks continued to PLOW at the Deliverers. All in all I believe that the only casualty was 1 Deliverer.

Turn 3

Apparently having a wall of ARM21 Man O Wars was just absolutely irritating and I popped Kreoss’ feat. This sat every enemy in a 14″ radius down (unfortunately, I learned that sitting people down doesn’t break them out of shield wall) and ended up catching almost everyone except the skinwalkers, Kaya, and one Argus. The Vanquisher broke the shield wall and the Errents charged in to clean up. The Repenter sneaks forward and manages to set the Warp Wolf and the Argus on fire and deals a whopping 15pts of damage between the two. The Deliverers moved forward to try and put some damage onto Sorcha, but did a piddling amount of scratch damage (2 boxes). On the contested chokepoint flank, Gorum di Wolfe manages to catch 3 of the skinwalkers with Black Oil before the Cinerators close the gap and start hacking things apart with their weapon master swords. Feora turns about with her Jack and sprints towards the main lines, away from the nonsensical chokepoint that had formed. What a great Menoth turn! Easily collected a good 10 points worth of models in deaths and set fire to the Warp Wolf (who burned for a couple bubbles).

Sorcha doled out her focus, the Juggernaut burned one immediately to shake off the Knock Down. The Warp Wolf did the same thing by getting angry. With the Man O Wars dead, the Circle beasts can finally get to work Yo-Yo-ing into the Menoth front lines. The Winter Argus manages to crit on a breath, making two Errents and the Repenter stationary AND killing the Repenter with damage. This opened the Repenter up for a devastating charge from the damaged Argus (13 damage in total). The Warp Wolf charged into the  end of the Errent line, covering for the exposed position that Sorcha had ended up in. Murdered two right off the bat and then flubbed all the damage rolls for a two handed throw on the last two (it turns out that ARM18 Errent Bricks just don’t take damage…). Sorcha stands up from Kreoss’ feat and scoots into range to toss Boundless Charge onto the Juggernaut. The Destroyer stands and lobs a shot onto the middle of the Deliverer unit and manages to kill all 5 (they were just in the perfect AoE formation) which opened a perfect charge lane into the back of the Vanquisher for the Juggernaut who took it. The first Ice Axe dealt 12 damage, the fist wiffed against the Vassal and the second axe connected for 8, a massive 20 damage in one charge. To add insult to injury, Sorcha’s Battle Dog tackled and killed an Errent. Kaya finally goes and Spirit doors her charging beasts home, feating to clear enough fury to avoid a frenzy. Dear lord! A fantastic power comeback! A good 15-25pts of the Menoth force was either eliminated or crippled in a massive countercharge!

Turn 4

After maintaining upkeeps and spreading a bit of focus around, the choir scoots up and sings the murder song for the tremendously crippled Menoth jacks (the Repenter had no arms and the Vanquisher was missing its Cortex and Flail). The Repenter moved forward and attempted to set both the Warp Wolf and Kaya on fire, but manages to miss both (roll 1 dice sucks, kay?). Feora advances up through the forest and starts spraying around with her flamers, catching the Winter Argus (and with 4 focus misses on a boosted attack roll and deals 5 damage on a boosted damage roll…) and setting in on Fire. She then feats and sets Kaya on fire for good measure. Kreoss also advances and drops a Cleansing Fire down onto the Warp Wolf, dealing another 7 damage to it. The Errents, scoot around avoiding getting engaged by the Destroyer and start shooting at Sorcha and her dog. Two shots on the dog kill it, nothing on Sorcha. The Vanquisher flails about with its poor crippled flail, but fails to do anything meaningful. Menoth ends the turn after setting all 4 of the nearby circle units on fire. (The Battle of Bottleneck Gorge was progressing very…very….slowly).

4 “Shits on Fire yo!” rolls. 2, 2, 1, 1. All out. Argus wanders up to the Repenter and fails to do anything. The Warp Wolf then walks up, sneezes and massively overkills it. The Winter Argus tries to lock either caster down with its sprays and fails to roll any crits. The Juggernaut cleans up both the Vanquisher and the Vassal. Sorcha and the Destroyer continue scooting about, managing to pop one Errent.

Turn 5

This was just the turn of massive wiffs. After the previous turn of fire just going out, I was rather impassioned about doing well. First, the Cinerators finally finished off the Skinwalkers, clearing a path for Gormun di Wulfe to start putting pressure on Kaya by sprinting up the flank. Kreoss scoots forward and drops Cleaning Fire twice onto the Warp Wolf for a grand total of 7 damage…Feora also moves up and drops her flamer templates, managing to squeak out 8 points of damage between the two Arguses (seriously. These were two casters with boosted damage rolls…this should’ve been a turn of mopping up crispy-squishy warbeast insides…). The Chior moves around and attempts to screen more important targets with their old man fighting sticks. The Errents quit chasing Sorcha around and charge the Arguses, killing one and missing the other by 4 bubbles (I couldn’t roll damage to save my life). Eiryss drops a disruptor bolt into the Juggernaut and the Crusader snuggles just outside of charge range for the next turn.

Wow oh wow, did this turn out gloriously for Khador/Circle. Sorcha drops 2 focus on the Destory. Kaya leeches 4 fury from her beasts. Sorcha then casts Wind Rush, jumps into the middle of the table and maneuvers to catch both Menoth casters and all of their screen choir members in her feat (it was an 11″ move total). Kaya activates and passes Pathfinder to both of her beats (via an animus). Then runs through them and murders the choir member that is protecting the perfect charge location (i.e. engaging both Menoth warcasters) with Spirit Fang. The Warp Wolf then charges in and shreds both Warcasters into bits.

What did I learn in 5 hours of playing with myself?

  • How better to use Gorum Di Wulfe. He’s not a front liner, but he should be snuggled in with the heavy troops to up their survivability. Black Oil is comically good and in tight formations can effectively neuter my target.
  • Warcasters should never ever EVER stand within charge range of a heavy Warnoun. Just no. On top of that mistake, I put both of my casters within 2″ of one another WITHIN CHARGE RANGE OF A HEAVY. I’m dense sometimes.
  • I’m far too trigger happy with Kreoss. I really need to sit on the feat and wait until the perfect opportunity to actually shut down and open up my opponent. If I had waited to kill the Man O Wars, I could’ve pushed through and flanked them with the Cinerators for easy kills. Instead, I pretty much wasted my feat to open up the middle of the board without anything to take advantage of it.
  • I put Eiryss on the wrong side of the board. She may be highly mobile, but she spent a good 3 or 4 turns not doing anything effective. She really needs to be hovering just out of range of the enemy warcaster ready to jump in and drop the disruptor bolt (seriously, she has a 19″ threat bubble and RUINS warjacks. She should just hang out with my main force really…).
  • Errents and Defender’s Ward go hand in hand. Having a frontline unit that is DEF16 (vs ranged due to those forests) and ARM18 is just a beautiful brick.
  • When Menoth attempted to push up the bottleneck flank, a single 8pt unit stalled them, effectively negating ~20pts of my force. Eight of those points (the Crusader and a Vassal) never made a single attack roll.
  • I really want the Deliverers to be massively impressive and I ended up not thinking about them properly. Against this opponent, I really needed to use them as a mobile screen to keep my casters and jacks alive and unengaged.
  • The Menoth side suffered from some spectacularly bad turns of rolling (there should not have been a Warp Wolf alive to charge me effectively. He weathered 3 boosted Power 14 shots from Kreoss and walked away with 8 damage…SERIOUSLY WTF DICE. By averages he should’ve taken 25 damage!). Even in a game where I’m playing both sides, the Dice Gods are cruel.

Final Thoughts

Goldfishing, as usual, was quite helpful. This also helps in preparation for tournaments (one of the Tourney standards for warmachine is 50pt games that take at most 2 hours…). I found myself quite surprised by the degree of mobility that Sorcha has. She was able to jump precisely to where she needed to drop my two casters without any issues at all. If I had managed to keep pressure on her (via Deliverers, Eiryss or the Errents), that pop n drop would’ve been much, much riskier. While Warmahordes likes to sport a “Play Like You’ve Got a Pair”-attitude (it really does, its in the rulebook!). I really think that I would benefit more from taking a breath and thinking more about macro strategy then micro strategy (such as saving Kreoss’ feat to lock down more valuable targets or clear LOS to warcasters). I’ve got a lot to learn before I’m Tournament ready.

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