The Retribution of Neil
Bonjour and welcome to what I hope will become a weekly fixture. I’m 27 (nearly 28), and currently studying a Masters at UCD. I’ve been obsessed with model soldiers for AGES, but only ever played the various flavours of Warhammer until quite recently. Warmachine always looked pretty kewl; but it wasn’t until the advent of mk-II in 2010 that I finally took the plunge. Three continents later (I got the bug half-way through a Working Holiday in Australia, and my dudes have since battled in British Columbia as well as my hometown of Edinburgh), and I’ve never looked back!
As far as models go, I have *most* of the Retribution of Scyrah, a fair chunk of Protectorate of Menoth and some Thornfall Alliance. All of it is painted using the rather fabulous Army Painter products (in fact, my Protectorate and Retribution armies look practically identical; both are primed with “Skeleton Bone”), and transported in two rather nifty Battlefoam cases. Alas, I could only bring one case to Dublin on the plane, so after much hand-wringing I elected to bring just my Angry Elves. Maybe I’ll swap them out when I next go home.
For those of you that don’t already know what “Warma-hordes” is (Hordes is a separate, but wholly compatible game published by the same company), I’m afraid you’re about to be subjected to some seriously spurious analogies as I try to explain the mechanics of the game and its setting within the Iron Kingdoms. If you’re already a convert, then please skip down to this week’s battle report.
Depending upon who you ask, there are between 9 and 11 factions across the two games; but while each one has *general* defining characteristics, it is more appropriate to say there are over 100 different “Warcasters” and “Warlocks” to choose from (about 10 per faction). These guys are all unique characters with their own back-stories and spells, and are the starting point for every army-list. A game of Warmachine is probably best described as a “what if?” scenario, fought between two such mighty personalities of Western Immoren during the current climate of Serious Sh!t Going Down.
Although there are usually specific objectives to complete in each game, you can always win by “assassinating” your opponent’s Warcaster or Warlock. In this regard, he/she is a bit like a King in chess, if a little more proactive! In Warmachine, you get so many FOCUS points every turn which you can either “allocate” to your giant steam-powered robots (the Warjacks) to make them even more badass, cast your own spells, or “camp” to buff your armour for a turn. The FURY system in Hordes is similar; but rather than automatically receiving the points each turn, they have to be generated by poking the hopped-up monsters under your Warlock’s control (that’ll be the Warbeasts, then…), and then “reeving” their latent energy. In addition, all Warcasters and Warlocks have an individual “Feat” – a once-per-game ability that can turn the tide of battle if timed well.
A player-turn consists of activating each model/unit in any order that you wish, and performing a “move” and then an “action” with them. Models fight individually, and combat is worked out by adding 2D6 to the relevant statistic of the attacking model’s card (such as “MAT” for melee attacks), and comparing the result to the corresponding statistic on the recipient’s (such as “DEF” for defence). The game is all about pulling off dirty combinations, but the rules are so tightly written that you can rest assured the designers expect nothing less of their players!
But enough of my rambling – it’s time I got on with this week’s battle report. If you’d like to know more, I strongly recommend you visit the Privateer Press Website and check out the Warmachine and Hordes galleries. The nice folks also provide free basic rules for both games here and here (scroll to the bottom of each page).
The format for these will probably change every week until I settle on something I like. At the moment, my current feelings are that narrative battle-reports are silly, and that detailed blow-by-blow accounts are tedious (I’ve written both in my time). Edited highlights are the way to go, and illustrative photographs are Full Of Win. Feel free to send me your suggestions – just don’t be offended if I ignore them…
I decided to base my first “Irish” list off a Garryth list I’ve had reasonable tournament success with… but with a different Warcaster that a) I needed practice with, and b) ought to be a better fit for the list anyway. I also swapped some things around to fit in a second Warjack. Bizarrely, I ended up supplying my opponent’s list too, because I hadn’t actually organised a game, just turned up at Gamers World with a hopeful expression on my face. Paul took pity on me and consented to a quick game – but not until he’d rather spectacularly ripped apart Pearse’s Blood Angels with his brutal Necron army (bless ‘im).
Battle Mage unit with Soulless Escort
I didn’t really have much of a plan, except to run up into Paul’s face and use my Feat to neutralize his potential retaliation, before beating the snot out of his (mine!) magicky Elfs with my superior melee units. Also, I wanted to cast “Banishing Ward” on something, and remember to take advantage of Kaelyssa’s “Witch Hound” ability
- My Phoenix went on a misguided *flanking manoeuvre*
- My Sentinels got “Banishing Ward” woot!
- I completely forgot to move Kaelyssa after I’d cast all her spells, but Paul very graciously let me move her up after I’d activated the Arcanist…
- The Halberdiers should have just run, instead of just walking in “Shieldwall”
Paul didn’t do anything terribly exciting in his first turn, except to run all of his Warjacks forward, cast “Polarity Shield” on the Manticore, and “Force Bolt” my silly flanking Phoenix backwards out of the Ork hutz on the left. I retaliated by:
- Upkeeping Banishing Ward on the Sentinels
- Taking the hint and running my Phoenix up behind the Sentinels instead
- Popping Kaelyssa’a Feat, and walking her behind shield-walling Halberdiers
- Running the Hydra into b2b with the Manticore (can you spot the *deliberate* mistake?)
It wasn’t until Paul’s second turn that I realised I’d forgotten to use Witch Hound when he zapped my Phoenix – GAH! Next time, next time… Anyway, Paul took my implicit invitation to manhandle the Hydra, and the Manticore used a Two-Handed-Throw to Knock-down the three retards standing in front of Kaelyssa as well as the Warcaster herself.
He then had to clear the route for his Phoenix to come burninate me to death, so he popped Rahn’s feat and went about Spell-ing the roadblocks out of the way… This took a couple of takes, actually, because I forgot until halfway through that the Sentinels were untarget-able by enemy magic; but the Magister solos were able to beat them to death instead, and leave the Halberdiers to the guys behind them.
Luckily, by the time the Telekenesed Phoenix had walked forward and Combusted in my face, Kaelyssa was still out of Reach from its bag-assed sword, so Paul wailed on my knocked-down Hydra instead, wrecking it. A bunch of other folks died to the fire too – including one of the Magister solos (Paul’s first casualty, I think…). It was looking grim!
It was time for some Payback:
- My Phoenix received 3 FOCUS, Kaelyssa stood up, and the Sentinels got them some “Vengeance” on the second Magister solo
- The Sentinels continued their mini-rampage during their activation, and hacked down two Battle Mages, and scratched the paint a little on the enemy Phoenix and Chimera
- My Phoenix failed to finish off Paul’s, despite “Concentrated Power” from the Arcanist
- Frustrated by Polarity Shield, the Halberdiers charged the other unit of Battle Mages and the Phoenix… then “Reformed” to be *slightly* in the way
- Kaelyssa cast Banishing Ward on herself and walked backwards!
Hmm… So Paul then magicked the Sentinels to death, splatted/burned the remaining Halberdiers, and SHOT Kaelyssa with an aiming Manticore (after Rahn had Telekenesed it). Scyrah was smiling on me though, and he missed two of his three shots. I was still in the game! Sort of…
I finally wrecked Paul’s Phoenix, but was unable (due to the Wreck Marker from the Hydra) to engage/wallop the Manticore as well, so I wasted 3 FOCUS that would have been better spent buffing Kaelyssa’s armour. Other than that, Special K herself shot two Battle Mages, and the Arcanist interposed himself between his beloved leader and the scary Warjack on the hill. Lanyssa tried to position herself so that the Manticore couldn’t easily move away from her and still have range to shoot.
Can you guess what happened next?
Yeah… Rahn Telekenesed the Manticore past Lanyssa, and it then walked over to the Phoenix and Two-Handed-Threw it onto the Arcanist, Knocking-down Kaelyssa too. All it took were two swipes from the remaining Magister Solo to finish her off after that.
Well, I was less rusty than I expected to be, but I still have a way to go before I’ll feel ready for Warpcon in three weeks. Things to remember for next time:
- Use Witch Hound!
- Co-ordinate Kaelyssa’s Feat better
- Keep Banishing Ward on the Sentinels all game
- Learn Power-Attacks
- Don’t use sloped hills EVER AGAIN – they’re a pain in the @ss
- Maybe annotate photos before adding them, and use numbered bullet points?
- Keep the whole thing under 1000 words…
- Pay for my table this time (thanks Paul!)
I hope y’all have enjoyed today’s nonsense, and will visit again next week. Thing is, I’m a work-dodging student, so having something like this will hopefully fill the void and keep me sane. Cheers!