Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Beginning the Campaign

              This Sunday I will be playing in my FLGS’s first session of the Narrative campaign.  We got a late start due to only “doing warmachine” once a month and the need to encourage players to join up with the journeyman league.


              Alternate worlds is not what I would call a highly competitive venue.  Most of us only get to play when the store runs its events.  For my particular limitations, this works well since I am not holding anyone back.  Unfortunately, to keep people playing, the store runs at very low points values.  This first section will be at 15 points—which is just short of a full unit of Man-o-War shock troopers or Malakov and a juggernaut.

              I find myself preparing for games more than I used to.  I reread the core rules, check discussions and tacticas for my models, and review the scenarios.  That last is important since your choice of team (reapers or sewers) gives you different bonus point potential and victory conditions.  I chose reaper since I have a newly painted Zerkova 1—which by store standards should put me in for one bonus point.  Rorsh and Brine will be my 15-point army along with a decimator and juggernaut.  This is…less than ideal but has the virtue of letting me play some new models while putting a lot of threat on the board for such a small force.

              I have never played a caster like Z1 before.  Kozlov was about as straight forward as they come.  Zerkova has lots of tools between cloud walls, boosted sprays, and hex blast.  I do not know how useful rod of whispers is going to be in this small a points range but even without grave door she seems to have a strong assassination potential.

              My concern is that facing Josh’s protectorate wedge of sadness again ™ or any list with three heavies leaves me at a distinct disadvantage.  R&B, for all their mobility, are not especially durable.  It feels like my best bet is to ignore the scenario and go straight for assassination unless my opponent brings a decent clump of infantry.  Meh, I am going to have to read up on throws and the like again.  At least Rorsh comes with a boostable gun.  Widowmaker marksman he is not but against mid-level infantry he should hold his own.  Also, in the messenger scenario, he’ll be my only solo which may end up killing Brine but could win me the game.

              Regardless, this is my list.  I shall take to the mountains for Empress and country.  I shall unleash freezing death upon my enemies.  Woe to those who dare face lady Z’s wrath for they shall learn the truth of the age-old question of how the world ends—in ice, lots of ice.

Considering Kozlov

Rounding out my review of Khador’s new battle box, we shall consider Kozlov, friendliest of the Northern warcasters.  As usual, any mistakes are my own.



              Kozlov is a beefed-up iron fang Kovnik.  Tuff, defense 15, and Arm 17 render him bullet resistant.  MAT 7, precision strike, and P+S 12 weapon master on his axe give him enough punch to threaten all but the most durable heavies.  Sidestep and SPD 6 leave him surprisingly mobile.  His feat gives friendly faction models within his control range +2 move and unyielding.  He features average focus and warjack points.


·       Avalanche—gives AOE attack with critical knockdown.

·       Raiser wind—standard Pow 12 magical zap.

·       Fury—Upkeep that gives +3 melee damage and -1 defense to a friendly faction model or unit.

·       Tactical supremacy—Upkeep that gives reposition to a friendly faction model or unit.

·       Chosen ground—Upkeep that gives Kozlov’s battlegroup pathfinder and steady.



              Kozlov is a tempo caster.  He tunes up a couple quality units with fury and tactical supremacy.  At the critical moment, his feat sends his army sprinting into battle where unyielding helps them weather counterattacks from whatever survives his charge.  While Lord Goat can get his hands dirty, he prefers to work the mid field—enabling the rest of his army rather than personally leading the charge. 



            When Kozlov was first announced a lot of us compared him to Butcher 1.  It made sense—weapon master, durable stat line, big freaking axe, fury, feat that turns his army up to 11.  So, when I started building old goat lists for my journeyman league, my first reaction was to make a face wrecking train of doom.  It turns out Kozlov is a far better support caster than front line combatant.  Once he has 2 upkeeps running and one of his jacks loaded for bear, he does not have the resources to take on heavies single-handed.  So getting him to work well required a change in perspective.

            The key to getting the most out of Kozlov is understanding that everything revolves around his feat.  All of his abilities are geared toward powering up models/units/his battlegroup in order to maximize his list’s output when he goes all in.  The optimal play is to charge everything forward end of turn 2 and remove 25-50% of the enemy force outright.  If your opponent has anything left to threaten you after that, unyielding should throw the attrition game even further in your favor.  If the alpha is out of reach, your army can always run forward and jam—setting up for a turn 3 assassination.



            I like everything on a caster’s card to have a purpose.  Unfortunately, a third to a half of Kozlov’s spell list is dead weight.  Avalanche is too expensive on a caster that will always be upkeeping at least 2 spells and loading a jack—especially since hitting and fishing for crits requires him to boost to hit.  Raiser wind and avalanche are two redundant “I can do magical damage” spells on a caster who ends up farming out most of his stack each turn.  Chosen ground—his signature spell—should be amazing.  In practice I found it to be useful but far from game warping.  Do not get me wrong, battlegroup wide pathfinder is nothing to sneeze at.  The catch is that it only came into play 2 out of 8 games.  Steady looks good on paper but did not do anything for me.  Unless I wanted to set up a throw chain, even if I had steady active, I still had to sacrifice a movement or action if hit by a knock down affect.  It does not help that pathfinder and steady are natively available on the Kodiak and devastator chassis.  For a signature spell, chosen ground left me unimpressed.  Replacing steady with sturdy would make Kozlov into a scenario monster but sadly such is not the case.

            Kozlov “helps” lots of models.  What he does not do is offer much strategic flexibility.  His game is won or lost on feat turn.  Beyond that turn, all he has is fury and tactical supremacy.  This left me feeling as if I was a spell short or an extra ability shy of a full caster.  I have heard it said that Khador plays a fair game well.  Kozlov exemplifies this perception—and in my opinion this leaves him somewhat wanting in the larger competitive environment.


Notable strategies:

Warmachine is all about the signs and portents rule.  Everyone can benefit from signs and portents but there are some models that gain a lot more than others with S&P on the board. Put another way, warmachine is about magnifying great models, not papering over the weaknesses of lesser offerings.  So, Kozlov loves two types of models.  His feat adds movement and armor to engaged friendly faction models.  Movement benefits everyone but especially high threat range pieces.  armor tends to help higher armor models with multiple wounds.  So, we are looking for fast high armor multiple wound models—cavalry.  My preference would be for Uhlans and Drakhun but outriders certainly wouldn’t mind the help.  Malakov 1 with redline on a jack also benefits heavily—you have not lived till you have thrown a fully loaded juggernaut 11 inches on a free charge ending its turn with arm 22.  Eliminators? Heck yes!  I would even look at manhunters and Uri.

            Second, Kozlov loves some solid ranged support.  Widowmaker scouts and marksmen are the obvious choice but do not overlook mortars and field guns.  Since ranged options probably won’t be mixing it up in hand-to-hand, the usual mercenary shooters are also great additions.  Grab Behemoth or a gun carriage to cover both options.  Kozlov needs his targets taken down a peg to set up his charges and insure successful one-round-removals.  Anything that can threaten heavies and infantry turn 2 is worth consideration


Fury’s musings:

            Kozlov is one of the best battle box casters to learn the game with owing to his simple order of activations (turn 1 cast fury on the juggernaut and tactical supremacy on the decimator.  Run forward.  Turn 2 charge if going second, or wait just out of charge range to bate your opponent out if going first.)  Other than allocating focus and picking when to feat, you do not have to make many decisions.  This leaves fewer opportunities for strategic blunders than with other casters.  At high skill levels the game becomes more competitive—I would even say bad for Khador once Cryx learns to maximize the reaper and parasite for example.

As the game gets bigger and bigger Kozlov starts to look a little tattered around the edges.  The original prime casters have great feats that enable their strategies.  However, they all have strong toolboxes outside their feats too.  Kozlov has no such depth.  Even at 75 points he comes down to who is getting my 2 upkeeps and when will I pop feat?  This consistency is handy if you are just learning the game but if you have some experience under your belt I think his small toolbox holds him back.  He asks a single question—a great one mind—but just the one and he only gets to ask it once.

            As previously stated Kozlov also does not have a lot of juice to offer a large battlegroup.  Even at 50 points I was glad Malakov was there to pump up my third heavy.  The ease of turn movement kept my clock down but that was a result of his simple style, not my experience.  In a game that favors larger battlegroups Kozlov feels like he wants 2 quality jacks at most—probably Behemoth and a juggernaut or Kodiak.  That smaller battle group and straight forward approach is a feature in the beginning but started to feel like more of a bug the farther I got down the rabbit hole.

            As a relatively new player I love_playing_Kozlov.  Outside the field of honor, I keep comparing him to other casters.  He is not as aggressive as the butchers.  He does not have the flexibility of Malakov 2 and the Irusks.  His feat is not as ball-busting as Sorscha 1.  Unlike many of our casters, his fiction leaves me with a definite feeling of “meh.”  Whenever I read his back story I expect the author to include something to the effect of “and he is good with children too.”  I feel like he should swap out a little nice-guy for a little more bad-ass.  Lacking that, He falls firmly in my list of second tier choices.



            Kozlov is a solid stepping stone for new players.  He offers a strong simple game that easily expands beyond the battle box.  He does not challenge Khador’s design space much.  He works the fundamentals—and that is a good thing for new commandants.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Consider the juggernaut

Continuing my review of Khador’s MKIII battle box, today we shall consider big red’s archetypal melee jack, the juggernaut.

Standard disclosure…all mistakes are my own, comments welcome, bla bla bla.



The juggernaut comes with the usual Khadoran 10-20-34 for defense, armor, and boxes.  It looks like its factional equivalents the crusader and ironclad.  It has a single open fist and a capable melee weapon in the ice ax.  At MAT 7 it hits more accurately than some of our warcasters but at SPD 4 getting to the fight can prove challenging.  Critical freeze on the ice ax means that occasionally the juggernaut will render its victims stationary. 



The juggernaut is a basher, a smasher, a crusher of enemies.  The ice ax is one of the most powerful melee weapons in the game and the juggernaut is a capable delivery system.  Its P+S 15 open fist gives access to standard power attacks as well as making a decent backup melee enabler.  It is built to charge opposing pieces and remove them with extreme prejudice.  First turn, it runs.  Second turn, it charges or sets up to counter charge/contest.  Third turn, it continues pushing up the board.  You can use the big lug to block lines of sight, contest zones, and/or jam opposing pieces; however, it is at its best when applying the ice ax to your opponent’s biggest model.



The juggernaut is the standard against which all heavy warjacks are measured.  It hits hard, can take a punch, and still hit back decisively.  Its appeal is the value it provides for 12 points.  Assuming the juggernaut successfully charges with a full focus loadout, it will inflict 27.5 damage against armor 19.  Tack on support spells and that number skyrockets.  Add in a little pre-charge shooting from widowmakers and most heavies are toast.

            In my testing, the juggernaut was the most effective way to convert one activation and 3 focus into a dead enemy jack/beast.  It hacked most of the way through a gargantuan on its own.  With a little help from the decimator it cleared out 2 Protectorate heavies in one turn.  I found that on average it killed off most of one heavy but with a little support—fury, redline, preliminary bombardment—there was no job too big for the juggy.  It helps that even if you do not get the charge in, the juggernaut can survive a surprising amount of damage and remain combat effective.



            I just spent a couple paragraphs praising the juggernaut to the heavens—and rightly so.  I want to temper that enthusiasm with some experience lest other players expect too much of the mighty juggy.  First, Sir juggernaut is kind of a resource hog.  On average dice he almost kills most heavies—almost.  He can absolutely wipe anything short of a colossal or clamjack on mildly warm dice but only at the cost of a third of your caster’s stack.  If you want to insure his victory, you will need to soften up the target first.  This functionally limits the number of juggernauts most casters can support.  More than 2 and most warnouns are going to have to make some difficult choices.

            Second, the juggernaut is slow.  In order to employ its prowess, it has to make it to battle.  This leaves it in the unenviable position of hoping to go second against overextended targets or use movement enhancers like redline to give it that extra push.  This can leave players having to choose between hoping to bate out/catch opposing pieces and contesting/challenging objectives.  The Juggernaut is not alone in its need for speed, it is however more inconvenienced than most without it.


Notable strategies:

Every caster can make use of the juggernaut.  At base, give it 2 focus and let it go-to-town.  There are a couple stand outs however that really let it shine.  Malakov 1 gives it redline which—pound for pound—is just amazing.  A free charge enabling  a P+S 17 attack, a boosted P+S 21 attack, and 3 P+S 21 attacks is off the charts.  Malakov II gives the juggernaut extra movement with escort, tactical supremacy, and feat.  Harkevich’s feat and reposition let the juggy play outside its comfort zone.  Irusk 1 can boost a juggernaut with superiority, though in most cases he will want behemoth or a colossal.  Karchev turns all jacks up to 11 and the juggernaut especially so with feat, battle charged, and road to war.  Strakhov is a straight up speed buff if you combine superiority and feat.  Vlad 1 has a variety of ways to buff his jacks between his feat, signs and portents, and boundless charge.  Vlad 2’s assail gives the juggy a nice boost though many players will probably look for a character jack in his place.  Vlad 3 is perfectly capable of supporting the juggernaut with infernal machine, feat, and dash.  Kozlov does good things for the juggy with feat turn and fury allowing him to reach and remove targets that would otherwise be out of range.




            It is easy to read this battle report or that tournament list and get the impression that the juggernaut is 16 points of awesome in a 12 point chassis.  I get the feeling that people assume that pointing a fully loaded ice ax at an opposing model is as good as guarantying its removal.  To be fair, it is one of the most efficient killers in the faction—especially when you contrast it with models like Grolar and Behemoth which cost 50 and 100% more respectively.

My experience says the juggernaut is the cheapest way to administer a decisive SmackDown in Khador’s 18 jack stable.  That being said, it is not the be-all and end-all that the hype suggests.  It is difficult to get the juggernaut to combat in prime condition against anyone counting threat ranges.  Its minimal threat range means that without buffs, it is a sub-par player in the scoring and alpha games.  Average damage rolls leave most heavies near-but-not-completely trashed—meaning that if a juggernaut removes a threat, like as not it did so with the help of decimators, widowmakers, and such.  Big red has plenty of buffs to compensate for these deficiencies—Kozlov’s feat turn on top of redline from Malakov 1 is my favorite so far.  So, it is amazing in the value-to-investment sense—strategic versatility and independence—not so much.

            Building battle groups, I keep running into the Behemoth question.  In anything over a 15-point game, why not take behemoth over say 2 juggernauts?  Casters like Irusk, Zerkova, and Sorscha 1 to a lesser extent seem to prefer a single quality jack such as conquest but for everybody else behemoth starts to cramp my list design space.  After behemoth hits the table, all I care about are Kodiaks, juggernauts, and devastators.  From that perspective, the juggernaut seems perfectly executed regarding value, effectiveness, and intent.  Unfortunately, the more I play with the Juggernaut, the more I realize just how over-costed most of our non-character 16 and above jacks really are.

            It is not a question of value, it is a question of what do the decimator, grolar, demolisher, destroyer, and spriggan do that other jacks do not accomplish at a better price point or with less cumbersome rules?  The juggernaut asks a simple question.  If you get within 8 inches of me, can you stop me from removing your piece next turn?  If not, then that piece is probably toast.  That is a compelling question.  It is the question we want all of our jacks to ask to one degree or another.  By that standard, every jack gets compared to the juggernaut.  Frankly, point-for-point, the juggernaut comes out ahead in most of those comparisons.  



            The juggernaut is a reliable attrition piece at an excellent price.  It is the best value removal specialist available to Khador short of a character or huge base due to MAT 7 and P+S 19 on its primary melee weapon.  SPD 4 and a 1 inch melee range somewhat limit its impact but at 12 points you can afford to take 2 or 3 to swing piece trade totals in your favor.  With the standard Khadoran armor/grid even a fully loaded enemy alpha may not remove the juggernaut.  It hits the sweet spot between minimal price and maximum output.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Considering Khador's Decimator

              Today we shall consider that double barreled thumper, that chainsaw wielding powerhouse, that much-maligned giant of the battle field, the Khadoran decimator.  As with all things, these are my opinions based on personal preference and experience.  Salt to taste.  Any errors are my own—please correct me if required.



              The decimator comes with the standard 34 boxes at arm 20, irrelevant defense, MAT 7, and RAT 4—seasoned with the usual lackluster Khadoran speed.  At 16 points, it features one melee component and a single ranged weapon.  The dozer features two shots that range 2 inches beyond the decimator’s run distance, 1 more strength than the destroyer’s bombards, and the beat back special rule.  The rip saw has 2 less strength than the juggernaut’s ax and the sustained attack rule. 



              The decimator’s high strength ranged weapon, low RAT, and moderately high strength melee capacity make it a swiss army jack with a preference toward hitting heavy targets with defense 11 or less.  Turn 1 it runs toward the center.  Turn 2 it gets allocated 1 or 2 focus and dents a heavy, smashes a light, or takes out a couple heavy infantry.  Turn three it jams, uses dozer to reduce targets for other models, or charges in to finish off targets of opportunity.  It spends most of the game blocking line of sight to mid field casters, setting up other models’ targets, and cleaning up after messy charges.  Occasionally it uses beat back to kick heavies out of scoring zones, clear out charge lanes, or open up lines of sight.



Let’s get the obvious out of the way.  The decimator is no juggernaut.  Its 4-point increase over that worthy coupled with 2 fewer P+S on its melee weapon leaves little D looking over priced by comparison.  Sustained attack is only useful on very high defense models which means you will probably be boosting to hit.  So, after you pay 1 to charge and 1 to boost to hit, you only have one auto-hitting attack worth of focus remaining.  Factoring in the decimator’s single initial attack Vs. the juggernaut’s 2 and little D starts looking like a genuinely bad list pick.

              In testing, however, I found several mitigating factors.  First, on turn 2 most games found the dozer cannon one of the only elements able to threaten enemy heavies.  If you add up both deployment zones (10 and 7 inches respectively), the likely first turn 8 inch run from friendly and opposing heavies (16 inches total), and the dozer’s threat range including a 4-inch walk, you get 47 inches.  This means the decimator is almost always in range of something starting on your second turn.  Further, since most players have already cast their upkeeps the first turn, and many melee jacks will be out of charge range in the second, the decimator ended up being the only jack capable of putting a full focus load to use.  So, on turn two I ended up firing off 2 mostly boosted shots at something—usually my enemies biggest baddest model.

              Second, I do not think it is fair to compare the decimator’s damage output to the juggernaut’s one round melee potential.  The juggernaut has to get all of its work done in one turn.  The decimator often got off 2 boosted power 15 shots in prior turns when the juggernaut was stuck twiddling its thumbs.  The juggernaut’s real world combined second and third turn damage output was about even with the decimator.  The decimator also usually took off enough damage that even if it did not follow up its shots with rip saw to the face, the juggernaut was guaranteed a clean kill on that target regardless of whether or not the dice went cold.  Past turn 3 the juggernaut took the lead but since most of my games did not get past the third turn, I found them equally useful.

              Third, while one decimator is kind of equal to a juggernaut early on, a juggernaut and a decimator working together gave me options.  Beat back let me kick pieces off zones, push them out of next-turn charge range, and cripple support pieces that were not worth the juggernaut’s time.  I could set up the juggernaut for a clean kill or go on the offensive and set up the decimator for its own kill in the following turn.  The ability to take two shots at separate targets at full non-blast damage strength gave the decimator a surprisingly versatile ranged output—especially compared to my experience with its battle box predecessor.

              Many players will find that lackluster profile, 4 point ranged jack tax, and clunky rules off-putting.  In a faction full of competitively priced melee heavies the decimator is a fair value.  Whether “fair” is good enough to get little D off the bench is probably going to depend on how big a game you are playing and whether big B is around.



              I feel as if PP looked at the decimator, taxed him for his ranged capacity, and balanced his output so as not to over-shadow the juggernaut.  This leaves him as a nice assistant heavy in a faction that has plenty of better priced heavies able to get work done.  Little D falls in that unfortunate zone of always having something to do but frequently leaving you wishing you picked something a tad more specialized.

In games between 0 and 25 points his deficiencies are less notable.  Beyond 25 points though you start running into economies of scale.  At 50 points, I started asking if I wanted 2 decimators or 3 juggernauts.  Put that way the decimator lost out every time.

              I also feel sustained attack is a trap.  Critical shred would have been more interesting and flavorful.  The truth is that If after boosting to hit and charging I have not killed a defense 16+ model, my follow up attack automatically hitting is such a rare circumstance as to render the ability largely pointless.

              While the sustained attack scornergy is annoying, beat back has a similar issue in that it is possible to push models out of range of your second shot if you are not paying attention.  This is a corner case issue but one that forced me to double check ranges—adding time to my turns.  It also made me acutely aware of the decimator’s anemic shooting threat range.  Even though I usually had range to something, I often found that 2 more inches would have opened up better opportunities.

              Finally, the decimator suffers from a lack of focus capacity.  On turn 2 most people want to boost to-hit and damage.  Unfortunately, a fully loaded dozer only has enough focus to boost 3 of the 4 rolls generated from its two shots.  I usually boosted to-hit on both rolls and hoped my second shot broke armor.  With powerful blast, I feel the decimator would be a reasonable buy.  Without that upgrade it often feels as if it is stretching to reach its full potential.


Notable strategies:

              The decimator takes the spotlight turn2.  This puts your opponent on a clock. they can exchange pot shots with your big stompy robot or move in to threaten the zone while risking alpha charges from your melee elements.  This strategy requires you to use premeasuring and movement shenanigans like tactical supremacy to keep just out of next turn charge range—often while retaining your aiming bonus.

              Vlad 1 and Sorscha 1 help the decimator like most models through signs and portents, freezing grip, tempest, and icy gaze.  Strakhov’s spell sentry lets a decimator get even more out of its gun.  Harkevich’s reposition and broadsides mean that 2 decimators can get 3 shots per round, benefit from the aiming bonus, and advance a little.  Up to 6 inches of beat back on tap would be a serious scoring hindrance in smaller games.  The Man-o-War Kovnik is a decent master for the decimator.  Take aim gives it an effective RAT 8 and assault gives it a little extra punch.  Anything with knockdown—field gun, gun carriage, marauder combo strike, basically anything that makes up for its piss poor RAT—sets up little D for some decent shooting.  I have not come up with an exclusively decimator centered strategy but the model does lend itself to a variety of plans.


Fury’s musings:

              I started out hating the decimator—especially when I compared it to the charger.  The lack of powerful blast really bothered me.  Then I played the model and it grew on me like a cancer.  I played it some more and we are friends…sort of.  Little D is the best value of all our non-character shooting jacks.  Granted, that is a low bar but I will stick by my assessment.

              My principal objection to models like the decimator is that they are pointed at a premium for doing something that the faction is not supposed to do well.  So, we pay through the nose for ranged jack capacity and still have to make do with RAT 4.  Beat back and sustained attack are useful in one-off situations but do not come into play enough to figure as significant benefits.  With range 12, powerful blast, critical knockdown, or a choice of ammunition types the dozer would be a great gun.  With strength 16 and shred I would love the rip saw.  As I have discussed, the decimator’s 2-turn damage output is about the same as the juggernaut’s—less in some cases since dozer cannot benefit from fury or redline and the juggernaut gets a to-hit stat of 7 on all its attacks while the decimator has to make do with a 4 for its turn 2 shooting.  So, I would happily pay 13 points for a decimator.  For 14 points, it would still be an attractive option.  At 15 points, it starts looking a little tarnished.  At 16 points, it shows up on my island of misfit models.

              I often look at my red-jack collection and shake my head at my two decimators.  In smaller engagements it is one of the best ranged heavies in the game.  That boils down to most factions having problems dealing with 2 Khador heavies.  In battle box games those 2 power 15 shots make a huge difference.  Tactical supremacy lets you shoot with an aiming bonus and end your turn moving out of your target’s charge range.  As the points increase though those shots become less and less dominant.  So, by the time I have the points to take 2 or more decimators I rarely have the desire to do so.  I could take 2 decimators or 2 juggernauts and a berserker.  I could take two decimators or one decimator and a juggernaut under Malakov 1.  The grass is always bloodier on the other side of that equation.



              The decimator is a solid jack for a slightly inflated price.  It stays relevant by tilting the attrition war in your favor and backing up the rest of your army in melee.  The model is solid—I love warjack sized chainsaws.  That being said, it is a second-tier choice. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the store

              I spend a lot of time on public transportation, waiting at bus stops, walking around my neighborhood, and hiking through my local suburban jungle.  When you cannot drive, yee-old foot power becomes the default transportation.  Because of this, I often encounter “interesting” people.


              Recently, I was walking through a parking lot on my way to the grocery store.  I was just off a mentally punishing day at work so my brain was operating on vigilant standby—observant to threats and objectives but otherwise in power saver mode.  I am used to complete strangers walking up to ask questions.  Sometimes they want to make sure that I am ok.  Sometimes—especially in bad weather—they want to offer me a ride.  I have had people pull over on a busy street just to offer me their umbrella.  On three occasions people have stopped to do faith healing including the demons out routine.  Maybe it is my cane, maybe it is my face, maybe it is just simple human kindness but I seem to attract attention.

              This time I was crossing between two parked cars on my way to a sidewalk so I could get to the crossing point I use as a reference for the main shopping center.  As I turned my back on the lot, a woman said something to me about living nearby and being on her way home.  Southern hospitality compelled me to turn and respond cordially.  I said—assuming that she had offered me a ride home— “Thank you but I am on my way to the grocery store.”

“” Yes, I only live four blocks from here.”

“That is very kind but I have several errands to run.  Thank you for the offer.”

“but it will only take a couple minutes.”

“Mam, I will be here for at least 45 minutes.  I appreciate the offer but there is no need.”


              At this point I put a bit of polite firmness into my tone.  Some people are just too well intentioned for their own good.


“It will only take a couple minutes.  Look, I’ll give you 20 bucks to drive me.”

“Mam, I am confused.  Are you asking me to drive you home?”

“Yes, you’re driving.”


              The day’s stress and my mental auto pilot conspired to short circuit my logic functions for a minute.  This was so far outside the realms of probability that my half functioning brain could not believe it.  I was standing there—clearly holding a white cane—and…the…I mean…umm…


“Mam, I am blind.  I cannot drive.”

“But that’s your car.”  (I assume she was looking at one of the vehicles I had stepped between while making my way to the side walk.  I brought my cane up—it is five feet long with alternating reflective red and white tape—in front of me so there-was-no-way-she-could mistake it.


“I assure you mam, I am blind.  This is my cane.  There must be a misunderstanding.  I cannot drive.”

“Yes that’s your cane.  You’re driving with the cane.”


I did not know what was going on.  I felt like I was on the wrong end of a modern who’s on first joke.  I was not sure whether to laugh, ready my pepper spray, or get some help for the woman.


“Mam blind people do not drive cars.”

“Oh driving with…the…cane…”

Silence…then she walked off mumbling in shock.

              To this day I have no idea what happened.  I mean, I know I look capable but driving?  Seriously?  Clearly I need to start wearing sunglasses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Concluding the warmachine journeyman league

Note: This is the final report for my LGS’s 50-point journeyman league.  See previous entries for the dirty details regarding how I got here.


              I spent the preceding month reading up on rules and ordering adjustable measuring sticks from:


I hoped that the sticks would cut my turns down since I would not be counting notches on the red plastic any more.  Thanks to JDAntoine for the suggestion.  I was as ready as I was going to be without additional playtime.

              This was the day.  I got to put on my big commandant pants and play a 50-point list.  After the last session, I knew I needed some hitting power.  Malakov running a juggernaut was my answer to Josh’s hope breaker ™ formation.  Two axe wielding robots, one of which would benefit from red line, would deal with just about anything (or so I hoped.)  The angel of retribution was sitting on my unpainted pile.  I figured this was as good a time as any to put her on the table; so, I had my painting guy (he insists on being called a painting goddess after my pet name for my other painter got out) prepare the epic mage hunter and Malakov.  The widowmaker marksman needs no introduction.  He is the bringer of most precise ranged damage, the breaker of cortexes, the bane of tough-guys everywhere.  I figured the sniper boat could disable jacks, beasts, and infantry.  Eiryss is disruption on a stick.  I like her ability to counter magic and spell defense.  Malakov is focus efficiency and threat extension all in one.


My list, Kozlov gets some competent help:

·       Kovnik Andrei Malakov

·       Juggernaut

·       Man-o-War Demolition Corps (Full)

·       Widowmaker Scouts

·       Widowmaker Marksman


As with the previous session, the tournament organizer let me camp on one table to minimize movement issues.  We played the same scenario both games.  Each player placed an objective on the center line of their deployment zone 10 inches out.  Each objective counted as a large base, had 5/18 defense/armor, and massed 30 boxes.  We won by caster kill or taking out the opposing objective.

       I played the same table side both games.  From that perspective, there was an 8 inch high building on my left within easy reach of my advance deployers first turn.  A small hedge sat a couple inches forward of the building making a decent charge-stopper.  There was a hill with scattered rocks on my right that funneled me down the center line.  The center of the board featured a large forest which blocked line of sight from both our deployment zones unless I climbed to the top of that building.  If I swung a little to the right of the forest, there was a section of clear terrain that lead straight to the opposing objective. 


My first challenger was Josh, he of last month’s Menoth fame. 

Josh’s list, the hope breaker MKII or a persuasive argument for fire insurance:

·       Repenter

·       Repenter

·       Castigator

·       Crusader

·       Initiate Tristan Durant

·       Vanquisher

·       Choir of Menoth

·       Exemplar Cinerators (Full)

·       Vassal Mechanik


Josh and I were the only participants to embraced the new all-heavies-all-the-time environment.  His repenters and vanquisher gave him a better ranged presence but my three heavies out-classed him in terms of raw melee output.  I think he had a more challenging task building up to 50 points than I did.  Kozlov is a bare bones caster—pick a unit, add buff, apply to enemy’s dome.  Malekus forces you to pick between fire generating ranged models and utility brawlers like the crusader.  If you fall too far on the ranged side, you will have problems dealing with a dedicated armor cracking list.  If you go too far on the melee side, you will not have enough models to take full advantage of Malekus’s feat. 

              I won the roll-off and picked second.  I set up with Malakov behind his juggernaut anchoring my right flank.  The decimator took up station behind the objective to malakov’s left with Kozlov behind the second juggernaut bracketing the decimator.  The demolition corps crammed in to the gap between Kozlov’s juggernaut and the base of the elevated building—anchoring my left flank with a couple tons of red steel.  I debated putting the snipers and mage hunter off on a far flank to sweep in and/or bate some of the protectorate away from their objective.  Then I remembered we were playing a 50-point game and we would be lucky to get 4 turns.  I decided to dump them in the building where they could give my crimson wedge some covering fire.

              I think Josh had a similar plan which is to say charge the field, try and overwhelm the defenders with positive piece trading, pick off an assassination or objective win, but aim to win on points.  From my right to left, he deployed the crusader, vanquisher, castigator, repenter, cinerators, and the second repenter.  The choir, mechanic, and casters set up behind his iron wall.

1.       We do the standard bum’s rush toward the opposing side.  Tristan fortifies his vanquisher.  Malekus ignites the castigator.  The choir sang something irrelevant to my plans.  The left hand repenter breaks formation to get a shot on my left flank next turn.  Malakov redlines his juggernaut and advances to keep his jack in his puny control range.  Kozlov puts fury on the demolition corps, reposition on the decimator, and walks up and a little to the left to catch some cover while keeping his force in control range.  The snipers take up overwatch on the top of the building covering the entire left midfield.  Eiryss zips through the building like a boss and tags the recently ignited castigator with a disruption bolt.  Josh opts to keep the upkeep so the mage hunter draws first blood with one point on Malekus and a couple points on the castigator.  Eiryss repositions back into the building to grab some cover but cannot completely make it out of sight of the repenter.

2.       Josh adopts his patented wedge of sadness™.  The vanquisher walks forward with the crusader behind and right while the castigator goes left into the forest for an angle on the objective.  The left hand repenter moves up and attempts to fry the angel of retribution but her high defense saves her in spite of a boosted roll.  The vanquisher’s flame belcher hits the Men-o-War dead center, killing 1 and wounding 2—plus setting stuff on fire.  The other repenter sets one of my jacks on fire and does trivial damage.  Malekus—clearly unsatisfied with the amount of fire present—moves up and casts open fire on the left repenter—missing Eiryss again.  He does something else and scratches my jacks.  The choir sings no-shooty on the castigator.  The vassal continues to be unremarkable.

I check Kozlov’s control range, and several charge distances.  These measuring sticks are amazing—they cut at least ten minutes off my turns.  Fire continues on all counts but does no damage.  Redline does 1 to Malakov’s juggernaut.  Lord goat upkeeps fury and gives 2 focus to the decimator.  Malakov upkeeps redline and gives 2 to his juggernaut.  Kozlov pops feat catching the entire army.  He moves up in anticipation of battlegroup advancement and casts chosen ground putting him on 0 camp.  The sniper corps hit every shot and rip the flame thrower off the left repenter.  Eiryss hits the repenter with a disruptor bolt just to be careful.  The decimator checks range, keeps the aiming bonus, and does 12ish damage to the vanquisher.  Malakov’s juggy makes an easy charge to the crusader while ending in base with the vanquisher as well.  What is this 12-inch threat range?  It feels like Christmas.  The juggy uses his initials and 2 of his focus to remove the crusader.  His final focus buys an attack on the vanquisher.  The demolition corps charge forward and finish off the vanquisher.  Kozlov’s juggernaut runs into the forest and engages the castigator.

3.       We are running short on time.  I talk through order of activation re-Malekus.  The cinerators charge Malakov’s juggernaut doing decent damage but leaving him mostly functional.  The castigator does an ok job on the second juggernaut but cannot get through that armor 22 to finish him off.  Malekus and the fully functional repenter cut loose, popping feat and killing off the demolition corps while spreading more fire around.  During this activation Josh gets half way through damaging one of the juggernauts before I remember the +2 armor from Kozlov’s feat.  We agree to take one box off the systems he has damaged as a compromise rather than reworking the entire turn.  Saving the best for last, it turns out that I was a little too aggressive with Kozlov’s movement.  He is just in range for Malekus to light him up.  The roll is boosted and Kozlov barely escapes thanks to his defense.  We do the math and call the game as I have him on points and my final turn would just be making the situation worse.  Kozlov takes protectorate concession.


This was my favorite game of the league.  I faced Josh every-single-time.  He was a great sport playing hard while not taking setbacks and serendipity too seriously.  It turns out I accidentally trolled the poor guy.  I grabbed a shirt at random that morning.  It said “inflammable? Challenge accepted.”  Regardless of the outcome, I wish every game played like this.


Game II, Khador faces Skorn—Fight!


Peter’s list, the elephant in the room:

·       Lord Assassin Morghoul

·       Agonizer

·       Archidon

·       Mammoth

·       Cataphract Incindiarii (Full)

·       Paingiver Bloodrunners


Peter is convinced his list is broken.  I am convinced it isn’t.  I suppose the best way to test our theories is to fight it out.  Peter wins the roll and opts to go second.  I deploy exactly the same as before except a little farther back due to the 7-inch starting zone.  Peter puts the mammoth just behind the objective, drops the blood runners ahead and to the left, drops the incindiarii opposite the forest, and leaves the archidon to anchor his left flank.  Morghoul and the agonizer back up the assassins.

1.       I send everyone forward.  Kozlov puts fury on the demolition corps and tactical supremacy on the widowmaker scouts.  He holds a little left to keep everyone in control range.  Malakov redlines on his juggernaut and moves up in anticipation of an upcoming charge target.  I feel like rubbing my hands together in gleeful expectation.  The sniper corps runs further into the building.  Half of them make it to the elevation, the other half are stuck climbing next turn.  Eiryss sets up to bate Peter’s left flank.  Peter rushes everything forward.

2.        Redline does 1 to Malakov’s juggernaut.  Despite half the scouts not qualifying for the aiming bonus, the sniper corps snipes out the archidon’s spirit—that thing that keeps them from forcing.  Eiryss hits an incindiarii for 4 points and retreats to the board edge.  Peter moves up, shoots Malakov’s juggernaut for nontrivial damage but leaves all systems functional.  The wounded incindiarii hits Eiryss with its spray attack leaving her on one box and on fire.  Morghoul takes one look at my three heavies and waves the mammoth forward.  The agonizer drops Kozlov’s juggernaut’s axe by 2 p+s.  Blood runners charge the demolition corps, killing the leader and injuring two more.

3.       Eiryss burns to death.  Redline does 2 to Malakov’s juggernaut.  Kozlov allocates 2 focus to the decimator and upkeeps his spells.  Malakov upkeeps redline and allocates 2 focus to his juggernaut.  The Men-o-War consolidate and kill 3 blood runners.  I could have probably killed another but the field promotion lost me a combat action.  Kozlov pops feat and moves up and to the right still wary of last game’s barely avoided assassination.  Malakov’s juggernaut charges the mammoth—mostly killing it.  The decimator shoots the mammoth twice leaving it with 8 boxes of body.  The other juggernaut picks his way ahead hoping for a shot at something juicy.  I think we both had lost track of time at this point.  There were a bunch of rules clarifications and strategic takebacks—especially as Peter realized that the agonizer was the only beast left he could use for fury.  The mammoth clubs Malakov’s juggernaut with his initials doing significant damage.  The archidon walks over and dings up the juggernaut a bit more leaving him with his axe and movement crippled.  The blood runners walk out and back into combat by virtue of apparition.  They kill one more Man-o-War.  Time is called and I lose on points since Eiryss is the only complete unit selection killed.  Next turn I am pretty sure I could have cleared out most of his board but the clock is an unforgiving mistress.


I left this game with mixed feelings.  There were a lot of miscommunications and false rules assumptions at play.  I checked battle college later and found that unless they have changed, incindiarii do not have 10 inch sprays.  Eiryss still might have died to blast damage but the incindiarii was definitely outside 5 inches when he took the deciding shot so who knows.  Mistakes were made on both sides so I’m going to call this one a wash.  The lesson I took from this match was learn your models.  I will be making a spread sheet with all my army stats and leaving it in drop box on my phone.  In spite of some rules-fuzzy-plays, I felt on solid ground with the rules for the first time since the end of MKI.  The portable PDF makes everything accessible for the first time in my PP experience.


General thoughts before I write up a review of Kozlov from battle box to killbox:

1.       Demolition corps just did not do it for me this league.  There was never a situation where I would have rather had them over shock troopers.  This is not to say they are useless but they offer nothing substantive besides a single point reduction over a full unit of shockies.  I’ll be playing shock troopers in the upcoming narrative league so maybe my opinion will change.  Until then though, hammer boys are firmly on the casual side of the bag.

2.       Malakov is an absolute monster under Kozlov’s feat.  Screw the d3 damage, the free charge leaves that third focus available to get serious work done.  Add 2 extra inches of threat on top of red line and very few heavies are going to survive or out-threat your alpha.  I felt like I was cheating—he was that good.

3.       This was my first time out with all the widowmakers.  With elevation and aiming bonus, there was not much my opponents could do.  They rendered multiple models combat ineffective.  I felt like they shined best when I gave my opponent bigger problems to deal with—letting them survive long enough to cripple key components.  They fit my play style well.  Reposition or tactical supremacy combines with premeasuring to make them a serious problem…if your opponent can spare enough resources to seriously threaten them.  In my testing, my heavy hitters are so attention getting that the snipers get a free hand. 

4.       Ok, so I was wrong about the decimator—I can admit it.  I used to think it was a pretty crappy jack for the points.  He got work done in every single game.  I don’t know if he did 16 points of work but those 2 pow 15 shots set up other models to decisively finish off other heavies.  His melee capacity is rubbish.  After you spend 1 focus to charge, he does not have enough juice to finish the job.  If he could fire his gun twice on the charge I would take him every game.  Still, he is a vast improvement over the destroyer.

5.       Juggernauts, juggernauts, say it with me, juggernauts.  Just so sweet.  They require resources to shine but man are they a great value for the points.  I am looking forward to playing my marauders and seeing how they stack up.  The difference between MKII juggernauts and MKIII is beyond words.

6.       Eiryss was a solid player for the points.  I like her toolbox more than version I even though it is less intimidating.  She always had a target.  I put her on the ground in front of the widow makers to split my opponent’s forces.  She succeeded in both games.  She pesters your opponent until they cannot help but send something to deal with her.  I am not sure I would take her at less than 50 points but at this level she did a great job.

7.       Kozlov is so close to being a really great caster.  Right now, he feels like a feat on legs.  He is durable, he just does not have the offensive capacity to spearhead attacks single-handed.  I just wanted him to be close enough to the rest of his army to feat and upkeep fury.  Everything else was situational.  Outside his feat, Malakov had a bigger impact than the “warcaster.”

8.       The marksman feels odd.  He unquestionably gets work done.  Still, his status as a solo feels “off.”  I wish they made him a command attachment that granted prowl and tactics swift hunter rather than the poor man’s Kell.  There is something about his entry that just feels unsymmetrical.

9.       Honorable mention goes to the Man-o-War Kovnik or sir not appearing in this battle report.  I gave serious thought to whether I wanted Malakov or the Kovnik—I had the points for one or the other, not both.  I figured desperate pace was useful for shock troopers in that it boosts their movement while they get to shield wall.  He makes them one inch short of a charge for their threat range while keeping their defenses at maximum.  Demolition corps have no such reason to avoid running/charging.  In fact, they have no special actions at all.  I ended up playing at least one point down both of the last 2 games.  Even if I took shock troopers, I think Malakov was the better choice between the two given the point restrictions.

10.   Next month we start the current narrative campaign at 15 points.  I am torn between fielding Kozlov for more data and Zerkova I to broaden my experience base.  Kozlov has the advantage of stupidly simple strategy.  However, I have wanted to try MKIII lady Z ever since I read her updated card.  Either way, Malakov is probably coming along for the ride—he is that good.


I took second overall for the league.  Josh took first place and best sport and rightfully so.  Lessons were learned, foes were vanquished, and fun was had by all.  Now to prepare for my starter box review and next month’s shenanigans.