First games of our local Journeyman League were held on Monday. My opening match pitted my heavily proxied Xekaar battlegroup (Skorne,) against Ben’s slightly less proxied Beth Maddox battlegroup (Cygnar.) The other table ran 2 games in the time it took Ben and I to close out ours. Rick (Kozlov, Khador) vs Mike (Beth Maddox, Cygnar) followed by Rick (Kozlov, Khador) vs Richard (Beth Maddox, Cygnar) – going to be some interesting mirror matches next week it looks like. Sean was absent, who I believe will be representing with Helynna, Retribution in future weeks. There might be another player or two that will also be taking part despite being unable to attend the opening session, but I’m too new to this group of players to accurately recall who/what forces they will be playing with.
I’m trying out a slightly different approach to last time with this battle report, and have diagrammed the end of round board states instead of just a wall of text. I chose diagrams instead of photos as it allows me to more cleanly illustrate the board, especially when a photo or two might have later turned out to be a little out of focus thanks to having my finger slightly over my tablet camera lens, and in all our excitement both Ben and I completely forgot to photograph or notate any of the first 3 turns! There might be some small inaccuracies in the early account as they relate to exact spells and movement of Ben’s Cygnar, but I’m confident it’s at least a fair representation of the sequence of events.
I used a table-top simulator that has been around for a number of years called Vassal, and haven’t found it very difficult to pick up. Fiddly, yes, but not difficult. For anyone already familiar with Vassal, note that I’ve proxied in a Junior Warcaster for Beth, and a Master Tormentor for Xekaar while I wait for the latest module to be released that covers the new models in MkIII.
Skorne vs Cygnar, Journeyman League week 1
- 0 Points
- Starting Battlegroup Only
- Mangled Metal Scenario
Kill enemy caster, or wipe out their battlegroup to win? No control zones to worry about? I can do that. I think.
- Titan Gladiator
- Cyclops Savage
- Cyclops Raider
- Beth Maddox
Ben and I roll off, my dicing skill(?) proves to be superior this time, and I choose to go first. Ben picks the side with walls that penetrate a little closer to the center of the table, and we agree that the central terrain piece is impassable and blocks LOS (depicted by a large rock in this report.) Historically I’ve been a fan of impassable and LOS blocking terrain in other game systems, and this will be the first time playing Warmachine with one right in the middle of the table.
I deploy on the right behind one of “my” forests thinking I’ll Rush straight through towards the wall on the right. Gladiator and Savage flanking the Raider, Xekaar tucked in behind. Ben counter-deploys dead central, with his Ironclad in the middle, Lancer to his right, and Firefly to his left. Beth is positioned as if she has just finished stoking the Ironclad’s boiler. I immediately decide that the right side of the board is not where I want to be….
Turn 1 – Closing in
Putting plan “changed my mind before the first turn even begins” into action, Xekaar casts Rush on both the Cyclops’ and walks left and around the battlegroup, then discards down to a single fury. The Gladiator uses Rush on himself, runs into the cover of the forrest getting great use from having pathfinder. The Savage runs 14″ to the front-left near the wall, and the Raider runs 14″ to the front-left to be able to respond to either left or right push by Beth and co.
Beth doesn’t allocate any extra focus to any of her jacks, but with power-up they can all run anyway. Which they immediately start to do. The Ironclad runs forward, ensuring LOS to the Raider is blocked by the central rock, Firefly runs to the wall for a cover bonus, making sure it is out of the Raider’s 14″ threat so he can’t pick up the aim bonus on my next turn. The Lancer runs forward-right keeping out of Rush-Charge threat range of the Savage. Beth casts her upkeep Onslaught for 2, and moves in behind her battlegroup.
Turn 2 – The Skorne Shuffle
The Cygnar battlebox has no means to prevent me from healing (I mean, removing) damage from my warbeasts, and cannot do it themselves. My master strategy at this point is to out-attrition the Cygnar force leaning on my Raider and Xekaar’s Psycho Surgery. Skorne calms right down and barely moves at all – The Raider edges to be within 14″ of the Firefly, casts Far Strike then double boosts putting out 7 damage. The Savage just mills about, actually retreating slightly as even under Xekaar’s feat he’s not got the defense to have a chance of surviving the Ironclad. The Gladiator doesn’t bother with Rush, and the forest restricts him to a SPD of 2, which he uses to move left to the forest edge. Xekaar simply repositions and drops 3 fury.
Ben seems to be feeling a little at a loss for what play to make into a retreating Skorne force, commenting about not knowing what to do without jamming infantry. He decides to take the initiative with aggression. No allocation happens and Onslaught is dropped. The Ironclad closes in by walking to the back edge of the rock, still concealed from the Raider. After a few minutes of pre-measuring and proxy base placements, Cygnar tries to get up on attrition – The lancer moves forward to toe the 8″ line from the Savage, Beth casts Snipe on the Firefly, moves right into the edge of the forest, then arcs an Electrical Blast through the Lancer into the Savage who takes 8 damage and looses his Mind. The Firefly activates last, takes aim and snipes at the Raider, but dice fail the Warjack and he misses. Ben then checks his control range, and swears a little when he finds his Firefly is too far out.
Turn 3 – An Alpha Each
With the use of the Lancer as an Arc Node, and how spread out the rest of the Cygnar group is, I decide to capitalise on the split force and start the trade game. I mind-ball the maths and figure that my Gladiator should be able to survive the Ironclad because the Firefly can’t do much to support without any focus next turn. I borrow a proxy base and start planning my move with pre-measures as I need to ensure the Gladiator is far enough under Xekaar’s feat bubble that the Ironclad will suffer the -3 STR and -3 MAT from it. All set, and Skorne switches to the offensive. The Raider moves front-right, out of the path the Gladiator wishes to take to get to the rock, then casts Far Strike and double boosts another shot into the Firefly for 5 damage, which looses its movement boxes as a result. The Gladiator casts Rush on himself, and runs to the opposite side of the rock from where the Ironclad is and faces the Firefly. Xekaar Enrages the Savage, moves to the cover of the nearby wall, casts Psycho Surgery restoring the Savage’s lost mind, casts a boosted Mortality onto the Lancer, and activates his feat. This leaves Xekaar on 0 transfers. The enraged Savage charges the Lancer, buys an attack and wipes it out easily with a fury still spare. Seeing that I have 8 fury on the table, I’m going to be taking a Threshold check next turn and I decide I want the Savage to frenzy because the new frenzy rules will mean he goes for closest model in LOS. The only model in his LOS is Beth, so I finish the Savage’s activation by riling him to full fury. Plan is working so far, I’ve removed the Lancer and my Savage is blocking the approach to the Gladiator’s rear. But will it be enough?
The piece trade is well underway and Cygnar is now well down on attrition. Only the Ironclad gets to power up, and Beth allocates the expected 2 extra focus to the Ironclad. A fairly odd move is made with the Firefly walking to its left out of cover and further away from Beth. Beth then activates, and moves out of the forest to the left herself, slowed down slightly by the lack of pathfinder and fails to get the Firefly back in power up range. Beth then casts Assail on the Ironclad and camps 2 (3 in pic below is in error). First rules error is made, and the Ironclad charges the Gladiator that he has no vision to. Ironclad boosts to hit, and scores a Critical Knockdown on the Gladiator, but doesn’t do a lot of damage thanks to Xekaar’s feat. The Ironclad buys another couple of attacks, dealing several points of damage that is spread around and ultimately leaves the Gladiator with a destroyed Mind.
Turn 4 – Counter Attacks
My feat turn worked out as I planned, so it was time to get on with my counter attack. During the control phase, I leech fury from the Gladiator and Raider and the Savage frenzies as I wanted. Due to the rock, the Savage charges at Beth as only model in his LOS. He falls well short, and I debate the pros and cons of leaving him with full fury. As Beth could easily move out of his LOS on her turn, let alone likely kill him, I needed the opportunity of at least basic control of the Savage and dropped all the fury from him at the end of his frenzy. Xekaar moves to the back right of the Gladiator and Enrages him. I ask about whether the Gladiator being knocked down meant I suffer the -4 RAT when shooting into melee, and general decision from the group was that it doesn’t apply. I’m not quite sure on this, so will look into this rule interaction further before my next game. Given this information however, Xekaar finishes up his activation by casting Rush onto the Raider and Mortality onto the Ironclad. The Raider advances front right, casts Far Strike intending to shoot the Firefly who is just out of 10″ range. However I change my mind at the last moment as I really want to get that Ironclad down, so I double boost causing 6 damage to the Ironclad. The Gladiator then shakes off his Knockdown and the 2nd rules misplay occurs. I had mistaken the M on my damage track to mean movement due to the number of times we’d discussed the Firefly’s sorry state, so I rolled 1 too many die on my attack rolls. After all initials, and bought fist attacks, the Gladiator had only spent two fury and the Ironclad was no more.
Firefly is only half an inch out of control range, but it’s enough to prevent power up for a second time. Things are looking very grim for Cygnar, but there’s a few plays left available, so Ben pushes on. Beth finally feats, and steps forward to wipe out the Savage, which she does with a double boosted charge and bought attack, leaving her camping 2 focus. The Firefly moves back behind its original wall and takes a shot at the Gladiator. This hits, but fails to damage. However, Xekaar is within 4″ of the Gladiator, so the Firefly’s Lightning Generator activates and arcs to him, dealing 4 damage which Xekaar does not transfer.
Turn 5 – End of the Line
Xekaar casts Psycho Surgery for 3 health, restoring 1 point of the Gladiator’s mind and 2 of his Body, then also casts Rush onto the Gladiator and moves right, camping 2 transfers. The Raider continues his stellar run, moving forward-right to the wall casting Far Strike, and double boosts yet another shot into the Firefly for a further 6 damage – this destroys the Left arm with the gun. The Gladiator runs to the end of the wall as is unable to charge such that he either clears the wall to engage the Firefly, or can reach over it to engage him in cover. I feel confident I am set up to close out the game on my next turn.
Ben is so far down on attrition now he decides going all-in on an assassination attempt is the only option left. He assigns 2 focus to the one-armed Firefly. Beth activates and moves directly towards Xekaar then measures distance for the Storm Strike. To both of us it looked like it was either 10″ + 0.5mm or 10″ – 0.5mm. Not one to quibble over these things I’m happy to let the dice decide, so offer him a 4+ roll to have the distance go his way. He rolls a success so we agree that Xekaar is in range of Beth’s ranged attack. Beth double boosts, and spikes a very impressive 13 damage on a 3d6-4 roll. Considering Xekaar already is down 4 and only has 12 boxes left, he transfers the damage to the Gladiator, destroying its body and most of its spirit. Firefly then activates and advances to try a final attack run to kill Xekaar. Gladiator lands his free strike, I forget his body is blown in the heat of the moment, so roll damage on 3 dice instead of 2 and wipe the Firefly out.
Skorne wins on scenario on Cygnar’s turn.
Thoughts and Observations
The last mistake about the body dropping a damage die was realised before we picked any models up. It was possible to kill the Firefly as he only had 8 boxes left at that point, and the Gladiator was rolling straight dice in damage, so despite having already called the game we re-roll the assassination attempt. Gladiator rolls a paltry 4 damage and fails to knock out either the cortex or melee arm. Ben rolls out the assassination attempt, but misses the first boosted attack, Xekaar would have been able to transfer a 2nd if spiked so we were both happy our original called result would come about in the final turn, as Xekaar would simply heal the Gladiators aspects and the Firefly would not have survived the following onslaught even on well under average rolls.
We discussed some of the other mistakes and upon reflection I need to be much more astute about the damage of my beasts aspects. I was far too complacent about their impact and while we ‘retconned’ our result at the end, the earlier issue with the Gladiator not dropping a die on attack rolls should never have happened. If I was a better player, I would have substituted Pyscho Surgery in for the Mortality I cast on the Ironclad as per my original game plan. Lesson learnt, will focus on getting aspect damage rules correct for my next match.
Removing damage really is fantastic, and Psycho Surgery ensures that Xekaar can run his beast at 100% fighting power on every Skorne turn. That is pretty powerful as it doesn’t need a B2B beast handler like the other Skorne warlocks will need to use. I spent a lot more time working on my beast positioning for attrition, while looking to both create and take advantage of board positioning this match – instead of using the Savage as bait, I used the hardier Gladiator and relied upon the strength of Xekaar’s feat to see him through. If Beth had counter-feated then and there, with the dice as rolled the Gladiator would still have survived that turn, but would not have survived the 13 damage transfer later in the match, drastically changing the moves made to close the game out. I’m confident that the severely damaged Firefly would not have survived the ranged war with the Raider and Xekaar’s Psycho Surgery, so while the result would have looked even closer, I think it will have still been a Skorne victory.
In the end, my Gladiator had 9 boxes left, and the Raider was untouched.