Monday, December 9, 2013

+8 Arm does not a happy Harrower make

Last Saturday I played a game of Warmachine with a new player who has been starting out. And what a game it was...

I knew that he'd be playing Cygnar.

Looking at my excel spreadsheets, I saw that Venethrax had never played against Cygnar. For sure he isn't the best choice against Cygnar, but I thought that it'd even the gap in experience a little, and it'd be good practice for me too.

So, my 25 point list was:

Lich Lord Venethrax
- Harrower
- Defiler
- Nightwretch

Maximum unit of Mechanithralls + 2x Brute Thralls
Necrosurgeon & Stitch Thralls
Necrotech & Scrap Thrall

Opponent was playing with:

- Ironclad

Journeyman Warcaster
- Charger

Minimum unit of Long Gunners + Unit Attachment
Minimum unit of Storm Lances

And that really was something I wouldn't have expected.

Game was a crazy grindfest, and it continued for many, many turns. Two Arcane Shields and Stryker's feat really brings some survivability to Cygnar, and of course I was playing the Cryxian warcaster who had no defense or armor debuffs.

A word about proxies in pictures: Caine is the Long Gunner officer, Nemo is the standard bearer, a gobber is the Squire, and Stormsmith is the Journeyman Warcaster.

Well, anyway. Cryx got to start the game. First picture is actually taken from the end of Cygnaran second turn. What has happened so far is that Long Gunners who had Snipe on them devastated much of Mechanithrall unit. One Storm Lance had died to spray from Defiler and a fully boosted Hellfire from Scaverous. Because Scaverous was sitting focusless, I thought I might just as well use his feat and screen my army a little by killing two Mechanithralls by myself.

Venethrax chose Lamentation as his upkeep of choice. Cygnar had no arc nodes, so I thought that at least Venethrax would be safe from any Earthquakes and whatnot.

I think I really messed up my start of the game by not bringing Mechanithralls to right and Harrower to left. Stryker has his +5 arm feat going on in the picture. For some reason I decide to just run & charge Mechanithralls to engage Long Gunners, and charge to Ironclad with Harrower. I thought that if I only could do at least some damage (not much, but with good rolls maybe 5-6 points in?) with Harrower against Arm 26 Ironclad, and then Ironclad wouldn't kill Harrower in a single round, it'd be a good trade.

Harrower did one damage in with two damage boosted attacks, and Ironclad one-rounded it. Uh oh. And as an insult to injury, none of the four attacks I could do with Mechanithralls against Long Gunners hit their target.

And then, as a decapitation to injury, MAT 4 P+S 7 Long Gunners go all kinds of crazy in melee, and kill three out of four engaging Mechanithralls with melee attacks. Rest of the gunners shoot even more Mechanithralls, and then Storm Lances come and attempt to finish the unit for good. Only two thralls remain, and situation starts to look a bit grim for Cryx.

I decided to bring Venethrax to the front. He charged Ironclad and took a couple of swings at it. He camped four focus, but still I kind of expected him to die, since nothing of consequence broke down in that charge. Stryker and Journeyman Warcaster were, however, well within Lamentation range.

Mechanithralls multiply by hard efforts from Necrosurgeon, and then they charge. All attacks against Long Gunners miss, as do most other attacks too, except for one good combo-strike by one of the thralls against Storm Lances. So after all I did manage to kill one model during that turn.

I have skipped one turn in pictures here, because the pictures looked rather similar. Anyway, what happened during Cygnar's turn was:

Long Gunners beat up Mechanithralls in melee again. Ranged attacks were made against Necrosurgeon, who lucked out - last combined ranged attack targetted against her missed with double 1's, when she had no longer sacrificial pawn models close by.

Ironclad fumbles its activation and brings Venethrax only down to 11 hit boxes remaining. I don't remember what the Storm Lance was up to.

Defiler and Charger had been duking it out on the right for some time now, and if I remember correctly, Defiler was hammered so badly that only its Movement system was still functional.

On my turn I thought that wrecking Ironclad would now be a piece of cake. First attack by Venethrax against it was very succesful indeed and broke down its hammer. I decided to speed up the game a little, and started buying attacks with Venethrax. Success for any of the bought attacks was nowhere close to the first... and at the end of my turn, Venethrax was sitting focusless right next to Ironclad who had its fist and cortex still operational. Well, crap.

Mechanithralls manage to kill the last Storm Lance, and one of them even scored a hit in melee against Long Gunners!

Well, then. I was quite sure Venethrax would die again now, but Ironclad managed to score only one decent hit against Venethrax that brought him down to 3 boxes. Second bought attack hit, but did no damage thanks to abysmal damage roll.

Long Gunners and Stryker himself are unlucky, too. One of the Mechanithralls defy all attempts to kill it, and so does Necrosurgeon. If I remember correctly, Necrosurgeon survived with one box remaining.

Then it's Cryxian turn again.

This time Venethrax manages to wreck the Ironclad, and even scores a hit with a fully boosted Hellfire against Stryker. Damage roll was rather disappointing, though, when the POW 14 +3d6 bolt dealt something like 5 points in against Arm 16 Stryker.

Necrosurgeon brings even more Mechanithralls on board, and finally they actually did something. They killed enough Long Gunners to provoke a Command check, which was failed.

And then Cygnarans got to activate.

Long Gunners failing their check was immense help, but still I was nowhere safe. Charger loaded up with 3 Focus came and took two shots at Venethrax. Venethrax was camping 1 Focus and he was behind wrecks, so he was effectively Def 19 Arm 17. So if Charger rolled once 13+ on three dice and then 8+ with three dice, Venethrax would be dead. Luckily for me, both attacks missed.

Stryker casts Arcane Shield on himself and charges Nightwretch. I don't remember the damage done, but the bonejack was engaged now, and disrupted anyway. Stryker had Arcane Shield and enough focus to bring him to Arm 19.

And then it was my turn.

I was pretty confident I would win now if Necrotech managed to remove Ironclad's wreck marker. The roll was success, and Venethrax had clear charge lane to Stryker. So I charged to end the game that had lasted for about three rounds too long already thanks to critical dice failures made by both players.

Charge attack missed.

Second attack missed.

Then Venethrax hits, but does next to no damage. Then he missed again, and with last possible attack he does enough damage to bring Stryker down to 1 hit box remaining.

No way. Just... no way.

I still hadn't activated Mechanithralls or Necrosurgeon. They were my last chance.

Necrosurgeon creates two thralls into Stryker's back arc, and one to his front. Nobody even got a charge bonus.

The two Mechanihralls on the back needed 9+ to hit, and the one in front needed 11+ to hit. Not good chances by any means, but first thrall who made its combo-strike rolled exactly 9, and enough damage to kill the poster boy.

So. It was pretty amazing game. In all honesty, I think Venethrax should've died when he charged the Ironclad. But for some reason the dice decided against it. In matter of fact it felt like the dice wanted for the game to go on and on, never to end.

If I do my math right 15-18 new Mechanithralls were created during this game. And that was again thanks to the dice 1) making Mechanithralls die in troves and 2) not killing Necrosurgeon, no matter the odds.

But I go to sleep now.

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