Rambles, stories and thoughts from a finnish wargamer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Preparation for the league and momentary silence

Like I have mentioned before, our slow grow league is going to start soon. We will start at 10 points and currently I have painted (with my new red scheme) min unit of cleansers, Crusader, Revenger, Repenter and one choir boy. I'll start with a list of pSeverius and the battlebox jacks. It's simple and effective enough. Absence of choir is annoying with this amount of jacks, but obviously fitting them in would be problem. Considered changing repenter to a paladin and choir, but I don't want to play a list with no flamethrowers. ;)

After I finish a second choirboy, pSeverius will be next. It will take a little while as I'll start a five day lan-gaming session with a friend this wednesday. Then I will travel to my sisters house to watch over all the animals (quite a lot of 'em) while she is away. I will bring my camera and painting equipment there, so you might see the first pics at this blog soon. ;) Actual painting might not happen much, as there is lot to do at that trip, but I'm determined to get at least something done!

I will also continue my Thoughts about Protectorate series with an article about either Repenter or Revenger. You will find my texts about pKreoss and Crusader earlier on this blog. They won't be hard to find as there are not that many entries.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Few games and thoughts of eGhaspy

Today few of my friends visited for some Warmachine madness. I played one game with Hannu who plays Cryx. We rolled throwdown for scenario and he won the roll for starting player. I'm going to tell what happened, as it got kinda weird. :)

When we deployed, I knew it was going to be a hard game. He had Bane Thrall bomb with tartarus, eGhaspy and one cheap melee warjack. I had pFeora, min unit of cleansers, min choir, Reckoner and Crusader. He set up with Ghaspy and his jack on one flank, Banethralls kind of in the middle with tartarus. I deployed cleansers on the left flank and everything else to the right flank. My plan was to run and grab one objective with everything else and keep the other with cleansers. I knew that he would not run Tartarus or Bane Thralls to take that objective as Cleansers have those nasty flame throwers and he would have only one target there to kill. In his first turn he ran everything closer to the objective on my right. That is when I knew that I have the left objective and my plan was to just commit everything to hold that other one in round three. I went closer, Feora did not run as she cast Fire Wall to hamper movement of the thralls. Next turn he ran closer to the objective and covered his forces with cloud effects.

I took position and used fire wall to stop his thralls from charging. I had to leave reckoner open to charge from his jack as I knew that objective was my biggest chance for winning. His next turn he ran everything close to the objective, charged and hurt my Reckoner really bad with his jack. Ghaspy threw clouds. After his movement I noticed that I calculated his movement wrong. He had enough Thralls close to objective and in such positions that killing them and his jack on the objective would be really difficult. That's when I came up with a crazy plan. My plan was to throw Feora with Crusader, get up with one focus, cast engine of destruction and unleash a can of whoop-ass on Ghaspy! I couldn't charge him because of his spell, but with 8 spd, I figured that I could reach him.

I then threw Feora. Rolled for scatter. Rolled straight back to Crusader! Dang, it was so close! But I did not throw the towel in. She has two flame throwers and I had some focus on me. Flamed on, hit him with first flamethrower. Rolled triple sixes for damage! Then I rolled the next flamethrower and sadly, missed. But he was still on fire. On the opponents turn, he rolled that the fire kept on burning. I rolled for damage. He was left with ONE box! I came so close! Obviously he would have been on trouble if I had reached close combat, but when you take a risk, it's no use to go "if....". He brutally murdered Feora on his turn, obviously.

It was a risky move, but it came so close. I could have just moved crusader in and cast Blazing Effigy on him to kill those banes. But then I would have had only two focus for Feora and Reckoner to kill that slayer. I could have also murdered slayer with my two jacks and flamed those thralls, but I don't think I had the chance to move to such a position that feora would have catched all contesting thralls with her flamers. I thought it would be tons more fun to try this and I think that plan had almost the same chance of success.

I could have left that objective and retreated, but I already made a huge investment to hold the other objective with cleansers and I knew that he would just murder me with thralls and then his feat on the other corner. Cleansers would have not been fast enough to reach combat anymore, especially when he could just cast his clouds to hamper their movement.

eGhaspy and thralls are really nasty, but I welcome the challenge. The hardest part of it is that I don't see any glaring weaknesses that I could focus on. Obviously he doesn't have much room for shooting, but with the clouds and stealth as a delivery system, he rarely needs any. One local player is getting little frustrated with them and even I kinda hope that Hannu does not use them in every game he plays in our slow grow-challenge. ;)

But like I said, it's a welcome challenge.

Edit/ DarkLegacy corrected me on the rules for shaking knockdown, you can do it in the control phase only. That made the Feora assassination attempt an illegal move as I used a focus to shake her knockdown on her activation phase. I had misunderstood the rule. I'll remember that in the future, thank you for the correction!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thoughts about Protectorate: Crusader

Today I'm going to talk about a warjack that has bashed it's way straight to my heart. I've used this warjack in almost every game since I got the old metal version in a trade. I'm talking about the Crusader. Lets start with stats and equipment.

Most important thing first, the Inferno Mace. This mace is brutal. P+S 18 is awesome, choir will buff this to ridiculous! 20 is enough to threaten Khador jacks and well, anything. It also has Critical Fire that is not that useful as anything that cares about fire just dies when you hit it with this mace. It can be useful when the target is left just a few boxes, but in nine out of ten games it won't matter.

Open fist is also surprisingly potent with his high strength. With choir it is enough to put few boxes on a cygnar heavy. With it's heavy warjack status and open fist, Crusader has almost all power attacks available to it. This grants some versatility, even though it does not have any special abilities. His high strength compliments those throws and locks quite well.

Mat is good, but it really needs choir. With choir you can hit heavy targets reliably without boosting, so you can just keep buying attacks. Choir also brings high def targets to a level where you can hit them with boosting.  Any solo or warcaster you hit is in trouble. However, his poor speed and lack of reach means that you will rarely catch anything else than other heavies.

His def is pitiful, arm is good. With it and heavy warjacks damage boxes, you can take a hit. Choir can also stop opponent from shooting him, which is nice for getting him into combat. I can't stress this enough: like all menoth jacks, he really needs choir to shine.

He looks like a frontline Warjack, but he really is not. If you just run him in front, his lack of speed, reach and ranged weapons means that your opponent will get the first charge. Arm 19 is good, but it's not really enough to just throw him out there and expect to survive. I've used him as a second wave jack, who protects your warcaster and charges any enemies that dare to attack your front lines. If you give him two or three focus, he can destroy anything. ANYTHING. Even khador heavies have to think twice about moving into his charge range.

Crusader is really cheap. Six points for a heavy warjack is great. Don't be fooled by his cost, he is not an cheap copy of a heavy. He hits really hard, his cheapness comes from two things: lack of versatility, special abilities and speed. He specializes in killing one target in one turn. You can block infantry movement or trample them, but not much else. He can kill some infantry, but using him for that is not efficient use of points or focus, Repenter is made for that.  He is good for blocking los, as he is cheap and has a large base.

Who to get with him? He will do fine with just about any warcaster, but really benefits from any ability that grants him extra mobility. If you manage to boost his threat range to 10 or more inches, you create a rather large area around him that other heavies don't want to enter. Then you can use him as a frontline Warjack. He is kind in the middle with focus efficiency. He will most likely need one focus almost every turn to run/charge and 2-3 focus when he gets to melee. You can finish a damaged jack without focus, but when you want to scrap a undamaged heavy, give him 3. With three focus and choir, he will reliable destroy his target.

Lot of people will tell you the following sentence: invest two more point and buy a Reckoner. This is good advice. That's not because Crusader is a bad jack, that is because Reckoner is that awesome. However, if you are bored of the Reckoner or want a second heavy, Crusader is great for his points. If your list lacks punch to kill heavies, Crusader is a cheap solution. You just have to deal with his slow speed and pitiful threat range, as that is his biggest weakness.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Warmachine and 40k, differences and which is better for you?

This next text will be about 40k and Warmachine. However, it will NOT be a rant how much GW sucks or anything like that, it will be a text from a 40k veteran that has expanded to Warmachine. I will not talk about Games Workshop as a business, only about the games. I think it will be useful for people who are familiar with 40k and are thinking about trying Warmachine. I like 40k ,but Warmachine might be a better fit for me and I will discuss why.

First difference I would like to discuss is scale. In a typical 40k game you are going to have a LOT more models than in a typical Warmachine game. Only a rare few non-vehicle models work as individuals in 40k. Most of the time even those will join a unit! A unit of 10 models is not a large unit and especially in the newest edition, there will be a lot of vehicles on the board. But Warmachine is skirmish scale. There are units, but even in units every model will function as a individual. Every model can shoot at it's own target and hit's another model, not a unit. Every model will also roll it's attacks separately. There will be a lot of models that are purchased alone, which are called solos. Also, full units are quite pricy, so list with three full units of 10 models are quite rare in a normal sized game. It's possible and can work quite nicely too, but it's rare. Because every model is treated this way and every attack is rolled separately, Warmachine is not a good game for you if you want to see two huge armies clash together. But if you want more detailed rules for every model and like smaller scale games, it's perfect for you.

This difference in scale means two additional things that are not directly connected to the rules. It's far cheaper to buy a 'normal' sized army for Warmachine.  It's also good news to slow painters. It's actually possible for me to get my army fully painted. The downside is that you won't get to play with huge armies. Privateer Press has published rules addition called "Unbound" which let's you play larger armies more effectively. However, it's not a real expansion like Apocalypse for 40k and you still won't reach even near to the scale of Apocalypse. I like the skirmish scale a lot, but it's up to you to decide whether you like it.

The way the lists are build are completely different too. In 40k, you decide your army and build an army from a codex. Every unit is categorized and every category has a limit of how many units of that type you can get. Also, you have to get two troops and one HQ. In Warmachine, you decide a 'caster. Then you can get any unit/solo/warjack of that casters faction and any mercenary unit that works for that faction. You have to take a Warcaster and that Warcaster grants a certain amount of Warjack points that you can only use on Warjacks. You won't actually pay for a Warcaster, but stronger 'casters will provide less warjack points. Every model has a FA, which determines how many of that unit you can take. There is a lot more freedom for list building in Warmachine. Only thing you MUST buy is a Warcaster and only the faction and FA limit your choices. There are faction books which include most stats and background for your faction, but these are not the same as codexes of 40k. You don't actually have to buy this, as the stats and special rules for a model comes with the miniature. New units get revealed all the time, for all of the factions and you can add them to your list immediately.

This has the good side, that new solos, units, warjacks and even warcasters arrive on a steady pace. You also have a huge amount of options for list building. But it has a downside too. Rules for the models are updated very slowly. When the game changed from mk1 to mk2 every unit got new mk2 rules. But since then, rules for the old mk2 models have stayed the same. It's going to be a long time before they publish mk3, so you are stuck with the same rules on a model for a significant time. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that (at least in my opinion) Privateer Press has done a better job at balancing the rules. There are few units that are considered very powerful, (banethrall bomb, eGaspy and Reckoner comes to mind) but there are far less models that plain suck. Most models have at least one Warcaster or solo that makes them work.

That brings me to the next difference, Warcasters. These are way different from your HQ models from 40k. In 40k, you need to bring one and they are powerful, but losing your leader is not catastrophic. Warmachine games are won by either scenario objective or 'caster kill. It's literally a lost game when you lose your Warcaster. Warcasters are not only leaders of your army, they are controllers of Warjacks. Warjacks are steampowered robots that are controlled by accessing their magical cortexes. This is where the Warcasters come in, they are people with magical skills who can control these metal beasts. If you assume they are all stereotypical DnD mages, look at the Butcher from Khador and think again.

You have to base your army around the warcaster. It would be silly to pick only shooting models for a warcaster that boosts melee efficiency of your army.

Warjacks are big part of the game. Like I said before, your warcaster has rules for controlling Warjacks. They can also be controlled by jack marshalls, less powerful models who can also control them. Every Warcaster has a limited amount of Focus, which is used for controlling Warjacks and casting spells. So if you plan to field many Warjacks, it's a good idea to bring some jack marshalls to lighten your Warcasters burden.

If you don't like steampunk theme and playing with huge steampowered robots led by a powerful hero this is not a game for you. However, if you find that idea totally rocking, this is perfect for you!

There is one more difference that has caught my eye. There are LOT more special rules, weapons and spells for models in Warmachine than in 40k. This means that your models are really going to feel unique and there is great difference between units. This also means that it's going to take a longer time to really learn to use your models. It also means that sometimes it's hard to remember all of your opponents special rules, especially when playing against certain army for a first time. Luckily the cards make checking units a lot faster than going through a book.

The way your turn flows is different. In 40k, you have phases in which every unit will do one part of their turn. In the shooting phase, everyone will shoot and then you move in to a assault phase, where everyone will melee etc. In Warmachine, there is a maintenance phase in which you allocate focus to Warjacks and other smaller stuff happens. Then in activation phase, you will activate your units/models one by one. Every model will do their WHOLE activation before you move on the to next one. So for example, you can charge a model with a warjack and destroy him, opening line of sight for other units who can then shoot his Warcaster. The way this game works not only makes huge amount of combos and synergies possible, it makes them necessary for a win.

This is all I had to say for tonight, if you think there is another major difference I did not talk about, drop a comment below!