I’ve been playing Privateer Presses’ Warmachine off and on again since it first came out. It’s been collecting dust for a while as I got sucked into the whirlpool that is Dystopian Wars. Feeling guilty and knowing we have a very healthy Warmachine / Hordes community locally, it was time to low the dust off some figures and play a game.
For those who don’t know what Warmachine is (Where have you been hiding???), it’s a Steam-Punk fantasy war game based on the world of the Iron Kingdoms. Large Steam Powered robots called War Jacks, controlled by Warcasters (Warrior Mages) are the “Super-Weapons” of the era. While all armies have access to the “regular” Infantry and Cavalry (notice the quotes), everyone wants these horrific machines of war to win the battle for them! Warcasters know various spells and have “Focus” which limits how many spells they can cast AND how active their War Jacks are. Warcasters are also your army’s Leaders.
Basically, if you kill all the opponent’s Warcasters, the machines go inert and you win!
The really interesting thing about the game is ALL the army lists are “Broken” or Over-Powered. The game designers’ philosophy has been if Everything is broken, then the games are fair; it comes down to how brave you are and who play’s their “Broken” tricks, first! This attitude is notoriously stated on the rule book’s notorious Page 5:
Play Like You Got A Pair.
First, Graham and I decided to do a “Training Mission” as we haven’t been playing in a while. We selected 35 Points – a “smallish” starting game. Large enough to take 2-3 War Jacks and a couple of infantry and/or solos, but not so large as to be overwhelming.
Interestingly, to help balance the game, your choice of Warcaster grants you extra points to which to select your force which must be spent on War Jacks! The more powerful the caster, the fewer points (in theory).
Captain Haley (+5 Points – 40 total) with:
Lancer Light Warjack
Defender Heavy Warjack
Defender Heavy Warjack
Journeyman Warcaster with:
Hunter Light Warjack
Unit of 10 Sword Knights
Unit of 10 Long Gunners
Kommander Sorscha (+6 Points – 41 total) with:
Behemoth Heavy Warjack
Man-O-War Kovnik with:
Jack Marshalled Destroyer Heavy War Jack
Unit of 3 Men-O-War Bombardiers
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew
Winter Guard Mortar Crew
Kovnik Josef Grigorovich (Spent the game with the Mortar Crew)
So, we picked a 4 X 4 table in the local gaming store and decided to be lazy, play the terrain that was already setup. From Cygnar’s Left, we had a fence up to a “wood” (1 Palm Tree!) and a hill. Opposite was a building, a wall and another wood on the right.
I made Graham roll a mission in the Main Rule Book, and we rolled “Killing Field”.
3 Objective markers are setup on the table’s Center Line, one on each side, 8” in from the table edges and one “Dead-Center”. The Players “Hold Objectives” by moving over the markers, denying their opponent contact to the counter (in our case, due to the “rubble” table and the incorrect size and shape of the objectives, it was good enough just to touch the Objectives.). A player got 1 Control Point at the end of each turn if they controlled an objective.
The player won when they had 7 Control Points OR they were the last player with a Warcaster on the table!
Khador won the roll-off so chose that Cygnar would take 1st Player Turn and deploy 1st.
Behind the woods on the Left, there was the Lancer, the unit of Sword Knights in base-to-base contact, in 2 ranks and Haley behind the Sword Knights. The Defender setup behind the hill and the Long Gunners setup in a long row to the right of the hill. Finally, the Journeyman and Hunter setup on the far right.
After Cygnar deployed, Khador deployed their forces.
From the Cygnar left to right, The Man-O-War Kovnik hid behind his Destroyer beside the building. The Field Gun and Mortar crews deployed on the Deployment line (10”), some distance behind the wall. Sorscha and her War Dog set up behind the Behemoth, just to the right of the Wall. Finally, the Man-O-War Bombardiers ended the Khador Line on the far right.
Start of Game
Haley and the Journeyman gave each their ‘Jacks a focus each.
The Lancer spent its focus to Run into the woods with the Sword Knights. Haley walked behind the woods and cast “Arcane Shielding” (add +3 Armour) on the Sword Knights. On the far right, the Hunter ran forward, towards the Objective and woods on the right table side. The Journeyman walked behind and cast Arcane Shielding on his Warjack as well. The Long Gunners also ran forward, keeping more to the left of the woods. Finally, the Defender stayed back behind the hill, waiting to see what the Behemoth would do.
End of Cygnar's 1st Turn
Khador suffered the same issue as Cygnar for the 1st turn – nothing in range of their ranged weapons. The Destroyer and the Behmoth both walked forward and fired their big guns, hoping for Deviation to land their shells on the Cygnar forces, but all missed their targets. (All the Khador Jacks weapons had “Area of Effect” (AOE) and as such, had to scatter. Cygnar weapons didn’t have AOE so couldn’t scatter.)
The Man-O-War Kovnik followed the Destroyer. The Field Gun moved forward to the wall, preparing to shoot next turn. The Mortar stayed where it was and fired at the Cygnar forces but also scattered out of harm’s way. Sorscha and the War Dog followed the Behemoth, with Sorscha casting “Fog of War”, which cast concealment over everything in her control area, adding +2 to hit her troops with Magic or Ranged Attacks.
End of Khador's 1st Turn
End of Turn:
As neither side had reached an Objective, there were no Control Points earned on either side.
Haley and Journeyman both recovered their spent focus, then spent 1 focus each to upkeep their Arcane Shield spells. The Journeyman allocated his remaining 2 Focus to his Hunter while Haley assigned 2 focus to the Defender and another to the Lancer.
On the right, the Hunter managed to move far enough around the woods to draw Line-Of-Sight on a Bombardier. The Hunter took the shot, spending 1 Focus to boost the Attack Dice (3 instead of 2) and hit the Bombardier. Using its last focus, the Hunter boosted its Damage roll while the gun’s special abilities cut the Bombardier’s armour in half – killing the Bombardier outright with 1 shot! First Blood for Cygnar!
The Defender climbed over the hill and shot at another Bombardier, but in spite of the boosted Attack roll, missed the bombardier and was stuck with an extra Focus it couldn’t use. The Long Gunners moved to the left and formed 2 ranks, then fired at another Bombardier using Combined Fire (The Chance of hitting and amount of damage are each boosted by 1 for every EXTRA gunner that shot at the same target), badly wounded a second Bombardier.
On the left, the Lancer moved out of and around the woods, onto the leftmost Objective. Sword Knights ran forward through the woods, maintaining their Defensive Line on the edge of the woods – ready to leap out next turn. Haley followed the Sword Knights into the woods and the Journeyman moved forward towards the objective on the right.
End of Cygnar Turn 2
Sorscha recovered her spent focus, then spent 1 to upkeep “Fog of War” and allocated some focus (I didn’t record how many) to the Behemoth.
The Remaining Bombardiers moved towards the woods on the Right, but only one could draw Line-Of-Sight to the Hunter. The Bombardier fired and managed to damage the Hunter. The other Bombardier drew Line-Of-Sight to the Long Gunners and shot at them, but his shot deviated onto the Defender. Sadly, the explosion couldn’t pierce the Defender’s Heavy Armour.
In the Center, the Field Gun crew shot at the Lancer, but missed. The Mortar fired on the Sword Knights at the edge of the woods, but again, the shot deviated, this time catching Haley in the blast. Again, the shell failed to cause any damage. Finally, the Man-O-War Kovnik passed a command test to order the Destroyer to take a shot at the Lancer with a Boosted Attack roll. The Destroyer is then able to use the “Jack Marshalled” ability to boost the damage. The shot hits and damages the Lancer, but not significantly.
Sorscha and the War Dog moved up behind the Behemoth.
End of Khador Turn 2
End of turn:
The Lancer, controlling one of the Objective Markers, claims a Control Point for Cygnar!
Haley & Journeyman both paid to Upkeep their Arcane Shields. Journeyman allocated both focus once more on the Hunter, while Haley gave 2 Focus to the Defender once more.
The Journeyman managed to make it to the Objective on the right, but was unable to draw Line-Of-Sight through the woods to shoot at a Bombardier. The Hunter stood still and with boosted Attack and Damage rolls, shot and killed a Bombardier. The Survivor passed its Panic Test, only to be shot at and killed by the Defender!
The Sword Knights ran out of the woods and formed ranks and a Defensive Line over the Leftmost Objective while the Lancer moved to the end of the line. Haley moved out of the woods behind the Sword Knights.
End of Cygnar Turn 3
Sorscha once more paid to upkeep the Fog of War.
First, the Field Gun crew managed to kill a Sword Knight. First Kill for Khador! Then the Mortar fired at and managed a Direct Hit on the Sword Knights! The blast covered all but 2 Knights! Incredibly, due to Defensive Line & Arcane Shield, none of the remaining Sword Knights were injured!
The Man-O-War Kovnik passed it’s command test to order the Destroyer to boost its attack roll again. He then charged the Sword Knights, but failed his charge when he measured and fell short of his charge range! Worse, while his weapons were out-of reach of the Knights, he was within the reach of the Lancer – meaning he was engaged in combat, but unable to reach anyone with his weapons AND unable to shoot!
The Destroyer marched forward and fired at the Sword Knight Line, but in spite of the boosted attack roll, missed and the shot Deviated onto the combat between the Lancer and the Kovnik, as well as a single Sword Knight. Again, the deviated shot failed to pierce the armour of anyone.
The Behemoth Marched forward and took control of the Central Objective. The War Jack turned its guns on Long Gunners. One shot killed a solitary Long Gunner, the other deviated onto the Defender on the hill, but caused no damage.
Sorscha and her trusty Canine Companion moved to the right of the Behemoth. Sorsch cast Razor Wind on the Long Gunners and killed 1 Long Gunner, while her Hand Cannon killed a 2nd.
End of Turn.
Cygnar gained 2 more Control Points for a total of 3, while Khador got their 1st Control Point.
Haley and the Journeyman both paid to upkeep their Arcane Shields. Journeyman once more allocated remaining Focus to the Hunter while Haley assigned 2 Focus to the Defender.
(Remember I said earlier all Army lists are broken? Here’s where Cygnar plays “Nasty”!)
Haley moved forward into the woods and cast “Temporal Barrier” with her remaining Focus. Temporal Barrier causes all enemy troops in Haley’s Control Area (14”radius – I caught the ENTIRE Khador Army except for the Mortar Crew in the zone) to suffer -2 to their Defences and they are not able to charge or run! Finally, Haley cast her feat: BLITZ – ALL Friendly Faction Models make 1 Additional Attack this turn, regardless to normal Rate Of Fire limitations!
(Graham just groaned and cursed that he hadn’t cast his feat last turn.)
The Sword Knights Declare charges and attacked both the Man-O-War Kovnik and the Destroyer. The Sword Knights quickly overwhelmed and killed Kovnik, while the Sword Knights all used Piercing Attacks (Generate 1 Hit Point damage automatically rather than rolling damage) and inflicted 10HP damage on the Destroyer, seriously shaving off large amounts of armour!
With Kovnik dead, the Lancer was no longer engaged so it walked back onto the left Objective to hold it.
On the right, the Hunter peeked around the edge of the woods and took a boosted shot at Sorsch. Though the shot hit, it was unable to harm her, in spite of being boosted damage. In a questionable plan, the Long Gunners shifted to a line (ranks cannot fire through each other at a target the same size or smaller than themselves) so that all could see Sorscha and the War Dog. The first shot hit and killed the War Dog easily. In spite of her armour and defences, the second shot (due to Haley’s Feat) badly injured the Khador Warcaster!
With the War Dog gone, the Defender moved to the right to get Line-Of-Sight to Sorscha. In spite of two boosted to hit rolls, the Defender’s two shots both missed Sorscha.
Having been wounded, Sorscha put on a brave face and decided to face her imminent death with bravery and bluster! She Maintains the Fog of War Spell, then casts her Feat: Icy Gaze. Enemy Models in her Control Area that do not have immunity to cold are frozen and stationary for 1 turn! This affected all the Long Gunners, the Defender and the Sword Knights engaged in combat with the Destroyer!
Sorscha then charged the Long Gunners (a mistake – she was still suffering from Temporal Barrier, but I forgot!). Sorscha then killed 4 Long Gunners in Close Combat, but more importantly, her weapon left her “engaged” to both the Defender AND the Long Gunners! Neither could take a shot while engaged in Combat! Worse, they couldn’t reach Sorscha with their shorter ranged Combat weapons!
The Destroyer, facing frozen Knights, swung its axe and killed one of the Knights.
(In hind sight, it technically wasn’t engaged in combat as the Knights in Base contact were frozen. It could have walked away, but we didn’t realize it at the time.)
The Behemoth, seeing Haley just inside the woods, fired both its guns at her, but missed, as did the Field Gun and Mortar. Haley was a popular but difficult target to hit!
End of Khador Turn 4
End of turn:
Cygnar gained another 2 Control Points for a total of 5 while the Behemoth grabbed another for Khador for a total or 2 Control Points.
Haley and the Journeyman both pay the upkeep for Arcane Shield once more.
Haley, suffering hatred for Sorscha and “Target Fixation” at her wounded opponent, marches through the woods and, in a very Un-Cygnar or Haley moment, cast Chain Lightning on the closest Long Gunner. Chain Lightning if it hits, lets the Lightning arc through the target through up to D6 other “victims”, working closest through the next target, etc.
The Lightning hit the hapless Long Gunner (Die for the Glory of CYGNAR!) and, to my dismay, rolled 6 more attacks! The next closest Target was Sorscha and , as anticipated, the lightning hit Sorsch and Haley boosted the damage, then rolled something like 4 – didn’t even discolour Sorscha’s Armour! The Lightning then arced over and killed all the remaining Long Gunners (DANG!).
The Sword Knights that could, moved into base contact with the Destroyer. Confusing rules of Stationary with Knockdown, continued to grind away the armour of the Destroyer (only 2 or 3 Knights could have attacked and damaged the Destroyer.
Sword Knights Swarm The Destroyer
Finally, the hunter moved forward and shot the Behemoth for something to do, causing minor damage.
Sorscha upkept Fog of War (though it wouldn’t be necessary).
Sorscha maneuvered around the back of the Defender to do a Back-Strike (in error – rules state if an attack starts in the front arc, it cannot do a backstrike). The swing did a Critical Hit and froze the Defender once more. Swinging a second time, Sorscha knocked the Defender down to only 6HP left, disabling both arms and movement – leaving just the Cortex (brain) operational.
The Destroyer took another swing at a Sword Knight, but missed.
The Field Gun crew managed to kill another Sword Knight that wasn’t able to make it into Close Combat.
The Behemoth fired twice at Haley, and managed to hurt her finally.
Everything else missed.
End of turn:
Cygnar captured another 2 Control Points, for a total of 7, while Khador managed to grab 1 more for a total of 3.
End of Game!
Good Game for Cygnar! Not so good for Khador.
As I stated earlier and throughout the report, we hadn’t played for a while and we did make some mistakes. Mostly due to bad memory and “Heat-Of-The-Moment” excitement.
I insisted in a Random mission because if we just went for ‘Caster Kill, it becomes very stale, very quickly. Not to mention trying to pound through all that Khador Armour is always a pain.
We didn’t use the Steamroller missions because
- I forgot about them.
- Graham didn’t have access to them before hand
- We’re “restarting” – need to do things as basic as possible(As it was, we both screwed up on some very basic points.)
As to army choices, I think Khador really suffered in this game. While having 2 Weapons Crews may have increased the “shootiness” and long-distance damage capability for Khador, it was very inaccurate and it did restrict the potential to capture objectives. Khador was limited to capturing objectives with the Behemoth, Sorscha and the War Dog, The Man-O-War Kovnik & Destroyer (they had to stay close to each other to work) and the Bombardiers. All of which were “small” and vulnerable units. The Bombardiers as a 3-man unit were taken out very quickly. The Destroyer and Man-O-War Kovnik were both easily tied up with a unit of Sword Knights. The only thing that really had a chance to capture anything was the Behemoth. It’s so big a nasty, I don’t WANT to go near it!
On the other hand, if we had rolled Mangled Metal (otherwise known as ‘Caster Kill), Cygnar would have had a harder time as it would have taken so long to grind through Sorscha’s forces to get to her.