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Tabletop Wargaming, Warmachine

Warmachine Battle Report A-2-06-2011: First 25, pStryker vs. Kaelyssa

This isn’t my first Warmachine game; in fact, that first battle seems so distant now. But this is my first game in the 25-point range, and just my third with Stryker. Talk about learning from the school of hard knocks with this Warcaster. I’ll make the general commentaries later.

I’m actually sleepy as I write this, and there seems to be some… slowness to the laptop, and we didn’t make records or pictures of the battle, so bear with me. I will try to give as accurate a report as I can.

For my first 25, I retained my 15-point squad from my second battle with pStryker, namely:

  • pStryker, as Warcaster
  • Rowdy
  • Stormblade Infantry Squad with Officer and Bannerman attachment
  • Black 13th

To complete the lineup, I added:

  • a Lancer (at Louie’s suggestion, so I could cast Earthquake from behind cover)
  • a Squire
  • Harlan Versh

John Benares was playing a Retribution of Scyrah force that had Kaelyssa as its Warcaster, two Heavy Myrmidons – a Manticore and a Phoenix – a Mage Hunter squad and what looks like a full force of Halberdiers, plus Officer UA.

I rolled lower, and since they know I prefer playing second, John B made me deploy first. As per our House Rules, I can choose and deploy one terrain, so I put a forest, again, in the middle between our armies. John B put the fenced house on my upper left , and I put a fence to the lower right of the forest.

I deployed Stryker with the two ‘Jacks on either side behind the forest, using it as a screen. To his right were the Stormblades, the Black 13th on his left. Versh was on the extreme left of the formation. John basically deployed his force blocked right behind the forest and to the right (of me).

Round 1

I ran all of my units forward. My plan was to pressure John B’s left flank with the Stormblades while the Black 13th and Versh would threaten his right. Rowdy was on my left, so it could support a right wheeling attack by Stryker to John’s right while the Lancer could help the Stormblades threaten John’s left, as well as give Stryker options to casting his spells on that side.

John B I think also ran his forces forward. Both of his Myrmidons were taking on my left flank, while his Halberdiers were his center. The Mage Hunters were largely screening Kaelyssa, facing my Stormblades.

Round 2

Louie came  over and wondered if there was something wrong with the Stormblades, asking me if I ran them. I said yes. When we measured, apparently I did something wrong and they were 2″ short of their full Run distance. Whoops.

What I could remember here was casting Arcane Shield on the Stormblades and Snipe on the Black 13. No action yet here, I think, on my end, although I think I moved the Stormblades further forward, with the Lancer close by, hiding behind the forest while Stryker was on one side, Rowdy in front of him (B2B), Squire beside Stryker

Meanwhile, John moved his army further forward and popped Feat, turning them all Stealthy and unchargeable. Bummer. Damned Elves.

Round 3

So, maintaining Snipe and Arcane Shield, I waded the Black 13 in, moving forward. Watts was in range of one of the Halberdiers, but because they were Stealthed, his attack misses. Wrong activation sequence, because it should have been Lynch, who I now had Flare sent to the Halberdiers. Now visible, I had Ryan Magestorm one of them, causing the demise of… 2-3 of them? I can’t remember.

Meanwhile, Versh was ready to round the bend of the house while I pulled back the Stormblades since I can’t charge them, daring John’s forces to come closer.

Instead, he moved his two ‘jacks to my left flank, using the Manticore’s ranged weapons to attack Rowdy. His attacks did 4 damage to Rowdy’s 3 column. And, oh, think John had Kaelyssa cast Backlash on Rowdy, so Stryker took a point of damage.

Round 4

I think I moved the Black 13th closer and Ryan’s Magestorm took out another 2-3 of the Halberdiers. Meanwhile, I pushed my Stormblades upward and the Lancer was now on the right side of the forest. Versh was making his merry way to the back of the Iosan formation, while Rowdy was on the left-side tip of the forest, daring any of the Myrmidons to come forward while he and the trees covered Stryker, who pops Feat.

I think it was here that John Charged his Manticore to the Black 13th, killing Ryan but missing on Lynch. Since the Myrmidon didn’t have reach, Watts was not engaged.

Then, he charged Rowdy with the Phoenix. He was planning on Charging through the forest, but lacked the SPD to do it. On contact, he used the Combustion Special Attack of the Phoenix but Rowdy’s base was too large, and Stryker was right behind his old buddy, for it to reach my Warcaster. And at ARM 25 due to Stryker’s Feat, the fire attack barely scratched Rowdy, although he was on fire.

John then moved his Mage Hunters to face Versh. Two of them managed to get into range to see him (Versh has Stealth), but they couldn’t hit or damage him. Two of the Mage Hunters also attacked Watts, but Stryker’s Feat saves him. Then, John moved Kaelyssa, putting Versh in her ranged weapons threat area. Because she has True Sight, Kaelyssa could see Versh from 12″ and managed to kill him off with one attack. Earlier, he put the Halberdiers B2B with the Forest.

Round 5

But, John’s movement left Kaelyssa exposed to my right wing forces, specifically the Lancer and the Stormblades. Recall that Stormblades have a Ranged attack, although the distance – base of 4″, +2″ with the Squad leader alive – is a bit laughable. But, Stormblades with an Officer UA get Assault, which allows me to resolve a Ranged attack before doing Melee and ignore the Engaged penalty. Also, the Stormblades bannerman has an additional utility: his banner has something that makes Stormblade ranged attacks become AOE 3″.

My problem was that the two Myrmidons kept Stryker bottled up. With Versh gone, I only had my right wing force that could threaten Kaelyssa, but I wasn’t sure the range would be enough. But then, I saw Watts, and the fact that the center of John’s formation was clear, and that there was an LOS to Kaelyssa there, between the Mage Hunters. And because the Manticore didn’t have reach, there would be no Free Strikes on Watts.

After some precise measuring, I decided to do the following:

  1. Move the Lancer 6″. If I gauged the distances right, Kaelyssa would be within 10″ of the Warjack’s Arc Node. If I put him on the right spot, he’d still be in Stryker’s Squire-modified 14″ Control Area.
  2. Move Stryker B2B with the Forest on his right and cast Earthquake on Kaelyssa. Drawing one Focus from the two the Squire had left, and choosing not to maintain Arcane Shield (on the Stormblades) and Snipe (on the Black 13th; they were close enough) should give me enough Focus to add an Arcane Bolt to the mix.
  3. Move Watts for the finisher.

Louie suggested I Assault the Stormblades, but I complained that they weren’t close enough until I noticed that Kaelyssa was beside one of the Mage Hunters. So, the poor Elf became the target. The Assault’s melee component would fail – not enough SPD to connect – but we could resolve a Ranged attack before the Melee attack.

So: I moved the Lancer. Then, I moved Stryker and, sure enough, it was in CA (and just right to not be engaged by the Reach-capable Halberdiers). I cast Earthquake on the Mage Hunter beside Kaelyssa – the same guy my Stormblades would target – and down goes every Elf within 5″ of him, including the Warcaster. Her DEF now down to 7 for Ranged Attacks and Spells, and being within 10″ of the Lancer, I hit Kaelyssa with a Damage-boosted Arcane Bolt for 10 points of Damage that went in.

Then, I ordered the Stormblades to Assault the poor Mage Hunter beside Kaelyssa, who took one “bzzt.” The POW 8 AOE managed to bring Kaelyssa to around 2-3 life. The second Stormblade who was in range of the downed Mage Hunter also connected with his “bzzt” and killed Kaelyssa.

I lost around 2-4 Stormblades due to the Halberdier’s Free Strikes, but they died for King and Country to give the victory to Cygnar.

After-action analysis

In the car on the way home, Louie and I realized that the first ranged attach probably would have killed the Mage Hunter. It had DEF 14 [now 7 due to being prone] and ARM 11. The Stormblades’ Storm Glaive Blast was a base POW 12, with a +2 due to the Officer’s effects. I didn’t even need to roll, as that’s THREE in. So the second “bzzt” should have been negated.

So Kaelyssa should have survived that Round?

No. Because, right after, I showed Louie and Eric that Watts would have slipped past the No-Reach Manticore and threaded past the scattered Mage Hunters to be in Range of a prone Kaelyssa. If the RAT 5 Stormblades could hit a DEF 7 model, how much more a RAT 8 Black 13th member? And with 3D6 due to Brutal Damage on a POW 10 attack, Kaelyssa’s ARM 14 wouldn’t have kept her alive, unless I rolled really, really, bad.

I’m still rather lacking in aggression with the Stormblades, and not abusing Stryker’s Feat enough to wade them into the thick of the fighting, trusting in their Feat-enhanced, Arcane Shielded-ARM to survive a beating. More battles, then, maybe 15s to give me the same level of confidence and familiarity I had when I was playing pHaley with Thorn and ATGMs.

I still haven’t been able to use Versh to “maximum effect,” but at least he managed to act as a threat enough for my first flanking maneuver to work. He forced John to “turn” his Mage Hunters and Kaelyssa to meet his threat, leaving the Warcaster exposed to my right wing force.

Also, putting a Squire on Stryker and that Lancer made the difference. I think I’ve found my 25-point force.

Good game to John B. It was an awesome learning experience.

Also, 3-0 now with pStryker. That’s scary.

I need to lose.

Edit:

I forgot something here. I don’t remember if it was in Round 3 or 4, but I moved the Lancer to the right side (my view) of the forest. From there, I cast an Earthquake on the Halberdiers, making all of them go down, and I think taking the Phoenix with them, too, since the spell deviated (I think I missed?) and hit the Warjack.

My intent there was to break up any offensive ability of the Halberdiers next turn. Knocked down, they had to forfeit action or movement; either way, I minimized their offensive threat. If I was right that the Phoenix also took a fall, that would have forced John to do the same with the Myrmidon OR, what I was hoping, allocate Focus. That’s one less Focus Point for camping.

I’m finding Earthquake to be a very… versatile spell. Louie did tell me that pStryker had the ability to “break momentum,” although he was referring to the Warcaster’s Feat. But I think I’ll experiment on Earthquake more this way, to add to Stryker’s “momentum break” ability. I can’t be as offensively aggressive with him as I was with pHaley, after all; that girl tends to kill a LOT OF PEOPLE with a single Chain Lightning, and Thorn has, to my memory, two Warcaster kills already.

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