A couple weeks ago I ran my store’s third week warmachine narrative campaign. One of my friends came off a three-year hiatus to play Cygnar. Much was learned—painfully in some cases.
My list or going full defense:
· Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova
· Man-o-War Shocktroopers (Full)
I do not tech against specific players. I do customize my lists to the mission. I knew I would need to escort a messenger, so I went with the iron wall of shock troopers and some ranged punch with the decimators. I hoped the Kovnik could speed things up and act as a backup messenger should Holden fall.
Most of my crew are very new to MKIII and warmachine in general. I chose to face my friend’s list so as to get in some quality teaching. I suspected it would be an up-hill fight and I was right.
Cheryl’s list, Melee? Where we’re going we don’t need melee:
(all in the sons of the tempest theme)
My initial reaction was “Gee, the first two turns are going to suck but after that I should be in melee.” This was mission 3 in season 1 for crossroads of courage. I had to Shepard a messenger around the board till he came within 6 inches of the drop off point…which Cheryl picked in advance but I did not know about beforehand. The major terrain elements were a large hedge and wall in my zone slightly behind and to the right of a huge central forest. Farther back in Cheryl’s zone was a large hill section.
1. Cheryl won the role off and chose to go first. The firefly, gun mages, and cyclone took the right while the black 13th, Sloan, and the hunter split left. I refused flank to the right with my jacks bracketing the shock trooper wall just in front of Zerkova and my kovnik. I figured that with speed 4, I was not going to get to much terrain so assassination was my only real option.
2. Team long shot ran forward after it was determined that even Sloan could not shoot my list on turn one through a forest, obstacles, and cover—let alone in my deployment zone—though she came darned close. Zerkova cast ghost walk on the shock troopers and ran forward. The Kovnik gave shockies desperate pace and walked around the hedge. The Shockies ran 10 inches straight forward ignoring the hedge (ghost walk is the nutz!) Both jacks ran around the hedge.
3. Sloan cast fire group and guided fire while moving up to take a shot at one of my jacks. Cheryl split her fire (am I the only person stunned that gun mages can get 14 inches on their guns?) The firefly and hunter got a shock trooper down to 1 box. The damaged decimator blew the gun off the firefly. The Kovnik gave the man-o-war desperate pace. The shockies moved forward in shield wall. Zerkova dropped some clouds to block off the gun mages line of sight (stupid true sight jacks.)
4. Cheryl moved up her infantry to support her forces with the black 13th up front, the cyclone and hunter running interference, and the gun mages camping out with Sloan on the hill. I lost a shock trooper and took significant damage to a decimator. I ran everything forward and popped feat. I pushed as far forward as I could manage knowing that Fire group put Sloan and the hunter outside her control range and thus in assassination territory if I was careless.
5. This is where the game fell apart—what-the-fuck?!?! Fire group means that all those jacks have 2 inches longer range. Cloud wall is useless since true sight cuts through it like butta. If I put Zerkova forward enough to cover her army at maximum range, she gets assassinated. If I held her back then everything (even the gun mages can get up to range 14 on their own) can walk into range of something while holding outside her feat. Sloan popped feat, casts guided fire, and fire group. With the hunter’s help, she took down one of the decimators. The rest of her army unloaded. I ended up with another trooper dead, one more on one box, my other decimator damaged, and seriously demoralized. I tried to counter with an all-out run into combat/a long shot decimator assassination but the range was not there. I killed what was left of the firefly but by the end of Cheryl’s next turn I was left with some of a jack, my Kovnik, Holden (dead once already), and Zerkova. I conceded because Sloan and reasons. Victory to Swans…and Cheryl…and Sloan…frigging Sloan.
1. My challenge with Sloan is not her lethality or that of her battle group (which is considerable.) A basic two-inch range extension on jacks that shoot farther than me, more accurately, and come stock with longer base movement is difficult to counter without dedicated list shenanigans. The hunter has a combined thread of 22 inches under Sloan (14 gun plus 2 for fire group plus 6-inch base move.) The cyclone (arguably one of Cygnar’s worst value heavies) makes it up to 19 inches. Sloan aint just whistling Dixie at 22 inches herself either—and that’s before we count in refuge. The destroyer has a maximum threat range of 18 inches including a nice walk. The decimator caps out at a measly 14 inches. Sure, I can buy up to a colossal or a gun carriage but at a certain point the investment hits diminishing returns. I can’t repel firepower of that range increment.
2. The gun mages thunder slamming my shock troopers out of shield wall was…how shall I delicately put this…frigging rude. That extra four-point unit attachment would have made a big difference. It probably would not have won me the game but it would have made the shock troopers a legitimate obstacle—something else to get painted.
3. I am withholding judgment on the MOW Kovnik. Maybe with something worth advancing my opinion will change. He did not make much of a difference in this game but then I cannot think of anything I could have spent his 5 points on that would have swung the tide.
4. It feels like Cygnar is objectively better value than big red. This is not a complaint as much as a design observation. Sloan’s combination of tools and and abilities kicks most balanced lists out of the ball park. I have no hill to stand on (I have been hiding behind my impenetrable cloud wall for most of this season.) It is the difference between Zerkova capping out at focus 8 instead of 7. One counters basic shooting. The other locks down all but the biggest guns and fastest platforms on Z1’s feat turn. Sloan does exactly what she was intended to do and has a great toolbox to pick from. By comparison, I feel Zerkova comes up a little short. I suppose the grass is always bloodier on the other side.
5. Lest my bitching give the wrong impression, this was a great game. I learn best by getting my teeth kicked in and I have not had to concede a game in three years—ah the sweet pain of knowledge. Warmachine is a game of rock-paper-scissors. My rock got covered by the paper shell casings of Cheryl’s barrage. You learn to deal with reality or you rage quit—and I am not a quitter. This is why tournaments allow multiple lists and specialists.
6. I honestly do not know what I am going to field for Sunday’s end of season game. I really do not like 25 points—just enough room to make you feel like you have some flexibility but not enough room to really take some options.
My new job limits my writing time so the next update may take a while. Be assured I shall chronicle the end of season one as well as my thoughts on several models/units.