Archive for January, 2014

Things have been pretty busy for me lately but I managed to get in a quick game against Todd the other night. It won’t be my usual detail level for the game due to the aforementioned dearth of free time, but there are some pretty pictures – aside from the ones at the end of the game that I forgot to take…
 
Continuing the Year of the Beard theme I brought another Harkevich tier 4 theme force. Also, sr2014 is out so this is the last incursion for a while. I think am starting to get a pretty good handle on the strengths and weaknesses of his theme and will likely drop back to him out of theme in the near future. For today, however, my list was:
 
 Kommander Harkevich, The Iron Wolf – WJ: +5
– War Dog
– Black Ivan – PC: 9*
– Spriggan – PC: 9*
– Demolisher – PC: 8*
– Decimator – PC: 8*
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich – PC: 2
Widowmaker Marksman – PC: 2
Battle Mechaniks – Leader & 3 Grunts: 2
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew – Leader & 2 Grunts: 2
Winter Guard Mortar Crew – Leader & 1 Grunt: 3
Winter Guard Infantry – Leader & 9 Grunts: 6
– 1 1 Rocketeer’s: 1
– Winter Guard Officer & Standard – Winter Guard Officer & Standard 2
 
Todd is a fairly new Warmachine player but has a ton of experience with Warhammer 40k. As a Space Wolves player (read as: fanatic) there could never really be any doubt as to which faction he would choose – Circle Orboros.
 
 Kromac the Ravenous – WB: +4
– Feral Warpwolf – PC: 9
– Ghetorix – PC: 11
– Pureblood Warpwolf – PC: 9
– Warpwolf Stalker – PC: 10

Tharn Ravager White Mane – PC: 3

Tharn Blood Pack – Leader & 5 Grunts: 10
Shifting Stones – Leader & 2 Grunts: 2

 
I won the roll to go first (yay for +1) and picked my side and placed my wreck markers. 
 
Todd set up his stuff fairly centrally to give himself options to juke toward whichever flag stayed but he did put his Tharn bloodpack out on my extreme left set up to go around an obstacle and toward my back lines if that flag vanished.
 
As for me, I did the same, mostly central with my jacks, with Ivan heading toward a wreck marker that had good field of fire at the center and left flag but wouldn’t be too bad of a shift if he had to move over to the right. Also, my two light artillery pieces set up on the right where there was pretty wide open field of fire. Harkevich had Escort and I put Fortune on the widowmaker marksman.
 
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The game:
 
Kromac put up Warpath, puts wild aggression on Ghettorex and advanced. Everything else mostly ran forward. My turn was pretty much the same. I handed out some focus and ran most stuff up. I had the WGI bob and weave which was a mistake because they ended up blocking my jacks up a bit, but it wasn’t terrible. Joe gave them tough. The widowmaker marksman took a shot at a stone and hit it, but only did a point or two. Flag on the right disappeared.
 
Warbeasts advance again and the stones teleport into position to be annoying. Pureblood sprays and kills my poor widowmaker marksman and then warpaths back. Ghettorex warps for hyper aggressive and I promptly forget about that. Oops.
 
I want to do some big juicy WGI CRAs and those stones are kind of annoying me. The range is only 8 so I need to kill that 1 stone otherwise I will be engaging it (I know it can’t engage me, but I can still engage it as far as I know) and unable to shoot.
 
Annoying stones:
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This is one of the non-damaged ones. I fire the mortar over at it, figuring that will probably do it. I miss. Yes, def 5 and I freaking missed. Sigh, that’s okay, Ivan can take care of it. Or not. He only does 3. The field gun doesn’t have LOS to it. The decimator is out of range so advances on the pureblood and shoots it, boosts the hit, buys an extra attack, and boosts the hit. I do decent damage to it but don’t take out any systems. Harkevich has to shoot the damn stone with a boosted hand cannon to finally remove the freaking thing. So yeah, basically my entire army had to blow a turn of shooting on one single non-stealthed stone. The WGI advances and does a decent 4 man CRA into Ghettorex and trigger hyper aggressive (as I said above, oops). Those of you with math skills know that if he was in range to be shot, he is now in melee and thus free from further CRAs. Also, most everything else is out of range but they destroy another stone and put some damage on the pureblood. Pro play here. Joe calls tough on the WGI and then backs up from the ensuing carnage. The demolisher runs toward the flag on the left but is just short of basing up to it.
 
Pre-carnage
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Next turn, carnage ensues. Ghettorex warps snacking, kills two WGI and gulps them down healing all but 1 and then warpaths back, Kromac casts inviolable resolve on Ghettorex and moves wild aggression onto the stalker who uses his animus, warps for berserk and kills 3 WGI and then warpaths over and kills another couple before sprinting away. The tharn consider shooting the demolisher and then realize that even on boxcars they do no damage. Instead they move over toward the center flag and create a bubble of protection. The tharn solo bumps up to the center flag and gets a control point. The feral warps strength and charges the spriggan but doesn’t do much.
 
Ouch. Oh well, it is time to see how the decimator performs in melee. I give him 3 focus just to kind of see. I also am planning on popping feat this turn. I know I can easily destroy the pureblood, but I am curious to see how well I do against Ghettorex. I also gave 1 to ivan and 1 to the spriggan, up keeping only escort. Decimator charges in and boosts the hit just to make sure and get the chainsaw rolling. I then roll a 5 on the charge dice for damage. Ugh. I buy an attack which auto hits and do 2 or 3, then buy the last and do another 2 or 3. Super not impressed.
 
Ivan shoots kromac and does a few which Todd just takes (another lousy dice roll), and the spriggan charges the feral he is engaged with (1″ charge achievement unlocked!) and does some damage, but not a ton. At least he is pretty well locked in between the spriggan and the obstacle. Also I was unable to get within 4″ of his flag due to the tharn so he gets a 2nd control point. The demolisher bases up to the left flag and I get my first one.
 
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I also forgot to take any other pictures, sorry.
 
Ghettorex does some damage to the decimator but feat keeps him up and functional, the pureblood sprays and kills one of the last three WGI and the stalker warpaths over to get a charge angle on Ivan. Kromac moves up in order to make sure that the stalker is in his control area when does charge. Todd estimates how much fury he is going to have the next turn and drops most of it because he doesn’t want to frenzy and lose the game. Due to the angle he has to charge at, the only weapon in range to Ivan is the reach one. He hits the charge attack and does a several points of damage to the bearclaw, the second attack rips it off, but then misses the third attack even with the free boost from wild aggression. Ivan dodges away and out of melee range. He gets a third control point and I get my second.
 
Things are looking sort of bad for me, but not terrible. The WGI are all but decimated, though I still have Joe and the mortar. I don’t think I can handle Ghettorex, though I could probably kill both the feral and stalker this turn. I spend quite a bit of my time looking at the table. I don’t fancy my odds in a protracted game but I think I might be able to kill Kromac if everything goes (mostly) right.
 
I should have dropped escort because this is do or die time, but I foolishly kept it up and gave a focus to Ivan, holding on to 4 with the thought of maybe getting a broadside assassination.
 
Spriggan bumps out of melee with the feral and fired his two crap cannons but didn’t do anything to kromac. The mortar fired at one of the tharn that kromac was hiding behind and got a hit doing some damage but importantly got a pretty bonkers blast damage roll. Kromac transferred after considering hulking out and Todd starts wishing he had camped more fury.
 
Black Ivan got a direct hit on Kromac and knocked him down to 3 (arcing fire ftw). Joe shoots the tharn out of the way and Harkevich advanced and fired his hand cannon, boosting the roll and leaving me on 3 focus. I REALLY wish I would have dropped escort. I had a choice here, I was only at dice –2 with 3 wounds left which meant that I could could boost and quite likely kill him. If I crapped out though, it would be game over. The other option was to use the 3 for broadside, likely get the hit with Ivan and the straight dice roll would probably kill him. In the end I decided to risk it with Harkevich in order to put another in the mechanoham and got a 7 on 3 dice, winning the game.
 
Whew.
 
After Action Review:
Basically I got super lucky here that Todd was new. We talked about it after the game and if he had either camped all of his focus and just let stuff frenzy he possibly would have won on scenario. Had he done that I would have run Harkevich to dominate the flag and bullied my way into contesting with the spriggan so might have stolen it from him that way, though. He probably could have just waited out my feat turn rather than trying to power through the armor and then been able to not worry about losing activations from frenzy the following turn. 
 
I am not great on placing the wreck markers yet, but I am getting better. An interesting thing to note is that the inability to put it within 3″ of another piece of terrain sometimes has me put them in less than ideal places which I then feel obligated to use because I placed them. 
 
I made exactly 1 tough check all game, which hurt a bit, but didn’t really affect the game that much. The decimator was a huge disappointment. I fed the pig full focus twice, and neither time did all that much. I certainly could have used it better elsewhere. I was really hoping to be won over to this little-used model, but in reality I am more down on it than I was prior to use. I really wished I had the juggernaut instead.
 
Once more it was Harkevich taking a hand in the victory, which is something most Khador casters are expected to do, and something that I didn’t do much prior to this. I never cast broadside this game, but there wasn’t really a good chance until the end and I considered it just to get the elusive broadside assassination, but went with the more likely scenario. I guess I could have tried my broadside hand cannon first just for the twofer, but oh well. 
 
All in all, it was a really bad matchup for me, but a super fun game. This same matchup played in 2 months against Todd will likely have a very different result, which gives me some food for thought. 
 
Thanks for reading!
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So I played hark last night vs. a pthags tier list with lots of ogrun. It was practice for a tourney so we used relaxed death clock with 70 minutes per player.

My list was a tier 4 Wolf Pack theme force:

58 / 55 (50+5) Warcaster(s) : 1/1 Warjack(s) : 4 Battle Engines : 0 Solos : 1 Units : 4

Kommander Harkevich, The Iron Wolf – WJ: +5
– War Dog
– Black Ivan – PC: 10
– Spriggan – PC: 10
– Demolisher – PC: 9
– Devastator – PC: 9

Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich – PC: 2

Battle Mechaniks – Leader & 3 Grunts: 2
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew – Leader & 2 Grunts: 2
Winter Guard Mortar Crew – Leader & 1 Grunt: 3
Winter Guard Infantry – Leader & 9 Grunts: 6
– 2 1 Rocketeer’s: 2
– Winter Guard Officer & Standard – Winter Guard Officer & Standard 2

Facing me was Jaime and his new Legion of Everblight with a tier 2 Thagrosh1 Army of Annihilation:

Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight – WB: +5
– Carnivean – PC: 11
– Raek – PC: 4
– Ravagore – PC: 10
– Scythean – PC: 9

Warmonger War Chief – PC: 3
Warmonger War Chief – PC: 3
The Forsaken – PC: 2
The Forsaken – PC: 2

Blighted Ogrun Warmongers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 5
Blighted Ogrun Warspears – Leader & 4 Grunts: 8

I won the starting roll and chose table sides:

Sorry about the crap pictures, still no new phone.

I was a bit worried when I saw all that beef over there. The clam jacks are fairly pillow fisted and Thagrosh having Fog of War meant that my light artillery would be even less effective than usual.

I tried to deploy mostly off the center so I could shift either way depending on which flag disappeared. You can see our deployments below as well as the placement of 3 of my 4 wreck markers. The 4th was on the other side of the forest on my left.

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his turn 1 he runs everything except thags, puts up spiny on self and fog of war and the ravagore shoots off a random shot that drifts backwards.

my turn 1 I just advance and do some shooting killing a warmonger and do some blast damage to a couple of others and the winterguard infantry run and spread out and Joe calls tough and fearless. He does that every turn due to basically everything on his side of the table causing terror. I won’t mention it again, just assume that I do. Also the flag on my right side is the one that disappears.

This is more or less what the table looked like during my turn.

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Jaime’s turn 2 he assaults and kills some winterguard andI make my one and only successful tough check this game. My dice were really rolling hot and cold – I got a lot of way above averages and also a bunch of way below averages. His raek moves over to claim the outlying flag and forcing me to respond or give up a control point on my turn and his scythean ran to engage the devastator.

His ravagore got a nuts drift that hit and killed 2 of the 3 crewman of the field gun as well as covering 2 WGI dudes. He had forgotten to use his animus so they weren’t set on fire and he rolled crap so they both lived.

For my turn 2 I debate for WAY too long – like seriously close to 10 minutes before I even allocate focus or pay upkeeps. I have a pretty solid idea of the things I would like to accomplish but have a little bit of an order of activation puzzle. Eventually I get moving. I finally decide just go for it.

I decide to upkeep only escort and hang on to my focus since I am planning on using the feat to get some slams and charges. That is what was making it difficult because I would have liked to have done some slamming and then broadside, but I couldn’t do the slam without the feat. I made the best of it and started off with the WGI who did a couple of fat CRAs into some war chiefs killing both of them and one of the beasts.

Black Ivan advanced to prevent the forsaken on my left from getting cover and got a direct hit and killing it.

Anyway I finally do activate Harkevich and pop feat and use broadside. I take the broadside shot at an ogrun and use my last focus to boost the damage, reasoning that camping one focus isn’t all that hot anyway.

The devastator slammed one of the ogrun into the one behind it and didn’t do much damage to either thanks to death shroud knocking 2 off the devs strength. It was nice taking a free strike from a scythean with impunity. Armor 28 is seriously legit.

The demolisher did a slam at the raek in order to contest the flag (he was out of range to hit thanks to being on the other side of the flag).

The spriggan took its pre-charge shot but, needing a 10, missed and the blast was too weak to hit anything. He did skewer a warmonger and positioned nicely for next turn – in fact, most of what I did was positioning for next turn. The field gun shoots at the carnivean and gets a double 4 not only hitting the carnivean but knocking it down. Suddenly I found myself wishing I hadn’t shot at the forsaken earlier in the turn with my mortar (it missed and drifted 6 in a harmless direction). This is how it looked at the end of my turn.

The mechanics run to “defend hark from trample” formation.

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His turn 3 starts off with the carnivean shaking the knockdown. Thagrosh advanced under fog of war again to take up position on the hill. The ravagore advances a bit and takes a shot at hark but it drifts and kills a mechanic. The scythean uses his animus and moves up behind the armor 28 devastator and hits it twice triggering the chain attack which gives him an extra 3 winterguard in the bloodbath. He boosts to hit on all of them and they all die.

The carnivean charges Joe and kills him and he fails his tough.

My turn 3 I upkeep escort because I have plan and need the extra movement. I hand out all  remaining focus – 3 to the spriggan, 1 to ivan, 1 to dev. I start off with Ivan who advances and bulldozes his way up to Thagrosh (who is sitting on 3) and get a hit but not crit and do 5 points of damage which he transfers. Next up the devastator bullies his way up behind Thagrosh blocking his way to hark and then open up in a rain of death. I get pow 18 on an ogrun and on Thags and rolls pretty well at straight dice and he has to transfer 13 to the carnivean which takes out its spirit. Next up the spriggan moves up and hits with the shield first (which I was not expecting) and then did 2-3 which Thags took (that is why I did shield first – I was hoping to take out that last fury) I then spend 2 boosting both hit and damage with the spear for about 10 which get sent over to the sythean and takes out its mind. I guy one more spear attack and miss. Damn.

Well, the demolisher has 2 shots let’s go for a hail mary. The demolisher moves away from the flag and gets into range of Thagrosh and has LOS through the flag. I need a 12 (well, 13 actually) but think maybe I can do some more damage with blast. I got box cars! Sadly I had no focus to boost the damage but still ended up rolling like an 11 for damage which got like 9 through. The last shot was not so fortunate and at -10 didn’t do anything for the blast. After I had thrown everything at him including the kitchen sink he still had 3 boxes left or something like that.

The mechanics ran over and I was able to get 2 to contest the flag.

I also forgot to take a picture for a while.

By this time Jaime was pretty much out of time so started his turn and then clocked out. The game was so awesome that we decided to play it out. We talked through a lot this turn to figure out if he had a way to get to Hark. Harkevich was not in the carnivean’s LOS so he couldn’t be charged/assaulted. There were a couple of warspears who had shots and took them but missed. The scythean may have been able to trample over to him but would lose his initials and then need to boost his bought attacks thanks to the war dog giving me a 17 def to melee.

Finally he thought he had it, he activated the ravagore and forced it to double handed throw the devastator out of the way to give Thags a bit of room to maneuver. That was when I remembered to take a picture.

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Thagrosh advanced to get a Winterguard (who also looked to be within 2″ of Harkevich) into range of a mutagenesis and boosted the hit. He got that off and replaced the loyal son of the motherland. By this time he had 3 fury left I believe? He boosted his initial attack and missed thanks to the war dog. He bought and boosted and this time did some damage – enough to knock me down to 4 thanks to dark shroud dropping my armor down by 2 points. He bought a last attack and missed. Whew, looks like I might have it. But wait! The carnivean could turn to get facing and spray! That is what he did and he needed an 11 on 2d6 (no forcing because of spirit being out) and he got it! He only needed to roll a 6 to take out the last 4 boxes and that is exactly what he rolled. Again due to dark shroud. About this time we realized that we were doing the wrong shroud – he just had the -2 str one, not both the -2 str and -2 armor. Jaime never said that, I just misremembered and when I asked one of the guys watching had the same misremembrance.

So Thagrosh was left in melee on no fury with Harkevich who was about to get his full stack back – the store was starting to close up so that was the game, but I am fairly confident that I could get those last 3 points off of Thagrosh in my turn so another victory for Harkevich and another notch in the ham-bat. It wasn’t pretty, but there it was.

Some thoughts –
I really missed the juggernaut’s melee weapon. A crit stationary would have really helped out vs. Thags. Lacking that, I shouldn’t have fished for the crit brutal with Black Ivan and just done a head butt to knock him down. That would have let me buy 3 additional attacks with the spriggan and I could have bought an extra ps16 from the devastator rather than boosting the roll at straight dice.

In general, I am not sure about running double clam jacks. Sure, they are great at contesting, but I am really concerned about how low their PS is in melee as well as how much their armor drops when they attack – I know the idea is to keep them closed up, but that is a lot of points tied up in basically something that will get 1 attack per turn (slam or possibly broadside) and just bulldoze most of the time.

I am not writing them off yet – and 1 is certainly in my list. The spriggan shooting is pathetic and if there is no stealth at all the utility of the flare is worthless and he more or less becomes a beat-bot. Reach is nice in that regard though, no denying that – so I think that there is definitely room for 1 in the list. Maybe 2 since if I can knock something down and don’t need to boost to hit that I can get some solid damage with his pointy stick.

Black Ivan is obviously solid on the shooting. His melee is pretty laughable though and his crit effect feels like a trap to fish for. On feat turn it might be worth it to shoot something and charge something on a small base but I should probably just keep him back and consider him +2 armor for hark – this is the 2nd game in a row that I ended up being out of escort armor buff range for him. Though honestly, with khador, the +2 movement is probably enough to keep it up often anyway.

The winterguard infantry did pretty well – they got in my way a bit though. That was due mostly to me trying to spread them out to protect them from ravagore death templates. The mortar was pretty good – even putting some damage on ogruns – his particular list didn’t have many soft targets and even so it got some work done. Especially after the slam when I knocked something down – though it turned out I still needed a freaking 8 to hit because it was on the hill and in fog of war.

The field gun got a couple of hits over the course of the game and did some damage but unboosted pow 14 isn’t terribly exciting. I did get a crit knockdown though, so that was pretty sweet. I think I will use that more in support of the jacks in the future rather than off on a flank.

Hark continued to do some good work on his own – shooting down 2 wounded ogrun in turn 2 thanks to broadsides – I actually ended up not handing out any focus that turn since I knew I was going to feat and would kill anything I got close to, or was just slamming to keep closed up. I am constantly amazed that his attrition game is so much better than it seems like it would be given the fact that I am running multiple khador jacks and skimping on the infantry. Also, the bearded one can take a punch, even on 0 focus. Obviously you don’t want to get too cocky, but he is pretty solid.

Okay I have probably rambled on long enough, if you made it through this, thanks!

I got in a game last night with Harkevich. The list is a bit unorthodox but basically, I got some new models built and wanted to try them out (Alexia2, the AKs and I still only have a couple of games in with the Gun Carriage). 
 
Kommander Harkevich, The Iron Wolf – WJ: +5
– Black Ivan – PC: 10
– Juggernaut – PC: 7
– Spriggan – PC: 10
Gun Carriage – PC: 9
Iron Fang Kovnik – PC: 2
Koldun Lord – PC: 2
Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire – PC: 4
Assault Kommandos – Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
– 3 1 Kommando’s: 3
 
So, just because it is unorthodox, doesn’t mean I just threw them in without having any kind of plan. I am looking at making Harkevich my pair with Vlad3 for the year and I have been thinking to skew it as my hordes matchup. As I envision it, the assault kommandos are there to use their gas grenades to either provide protection for the warjacks giving them a –2 mat to models engaging them or a +2 rat for ranged shots (particularly a broadsides shot if I choose to use it), or a +2 mat for when the jacks charge (probably on feat turn) where they can possibly also get a def bonus the following turn.
 
Alexia is there because she is new, but also to provide some protection from crippling grasp or other magical armor debuffs as well as another pow 14 that can be used at range and boosted. The thralls are nice disruption pieces and also have some scenario ability.
 
The gun carriage can play slightly different in the Harkevich list in that it can be more up the middle thanks to his Field Marshal [Pathfinder] ability so I can use it almost like a poor man’s Inhospitable Ground as well as doing some nice damage with those high POW aoes. 
 
The rest of the list is pretty standard stuff aside from running 3 jacks in Khador. 
 
Kyle was also trying out some new stuff – namely Zaal and some arcuarii. I’ve played against Zaal exactly once so this should be fun. Aside from the fact that he will steal all of the souls out from under Alexia2 in his control area. Suck for my new toy but pretty cool. At least Alexia2 provided me an option for dealing with the Kovaas.

Supreme Aptimus Zaal – WB: +5
– Kovaas
– Basilisk Drake – PC: 4
– Titan Sentry – PC: 9
– Titan Gladiator – PC: 8
Extoller Soulward – PC: 2
Hakaar the Destroyer – PC: 4
Ancestral Guardian – PC: 3
Ancestral Guardian – PC: 3
Cataphract Arcuarii – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9
Nihilators – Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
Paingiver Beast Handlers – Leader & 3 Grunts: 2
Tyrant Commander & Standard Bearer – Tyrant and Standard: 3

 
I was a bit worried about my armor standing up to all of his weapon masters, last stand, and Zaal’s feat giving boosts to hit and damage and letting his beasts use their fury to buy attacks.
 
I won the roll and chose the table side and we were off to the races. Sorry again about the crappy pics. It’s an old phone and I can’t get a new one right now.
 
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We were playing SR2014 Incursion again mostly because it is the only one I know and I am lazy. So, yeah, Kyle set up first and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to line my AKs across from his arcuarii and drake. I put the gun carriage central and the jacks, hark, the koldun lord and Alexia on my left side. 
 
The tycom put pathfinder on the arcuarii and they ran through the woods, with inviolable resolve landing on them at some point (it would be there most of the game). The gladiator got the free animus spell and everything else mostly advanced.
 
My turn I put fortune on the AKs, escort on Hark, and advanced most everything else – the AKs advanced in shield wall. The gun carriage trampled forward and dropped a couple of rough terrain templates.
 
We rolled for the flag that vanished and of course, the one we both wanted to disappear (the one right behind the tower) remained. Clearly that was a watchtower which the Skorne invaders needed to occupy in order to press forward into the Khadoran homeland and Harkevich vowed by his beard not to let that happen.
 
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On the Skorne side the arcuarii advanced again and took some shots at the AKs and killed a couple. The nihilators swarmed around the remaining flank flag (backed up by Hakkar) and an ancestral guardian claimed the flag in the middle along with some elephant support.
 
For my turn I had to contest both flags or I would give up a lot of control points fast. I dropped fortune from the AKs so I could give the spriggan a couple of focus and I held on to escort. I wasn’t quite sure if one of the advancing nihilators had engaged Alexia2 and I wanted to get her a couple of souls while Zaal was still back far enough that I could since I wanted to have her available to destroy the kovaas with Hellfire. I debated long and hard about feating this turn but with where the templates were I figured there wouldn’t be much that could threaten me yet so I decided to save it for next turn.
 
The spriggan charged in such a way that he would end up contesting the left flag. I didn’t think I would need both focus on him to kill a couple of nihilators but I did figure I would need it for them to stay dead thanks to tough. Turned out I was right, 2 focus=2 dead nihilators=2 souls on Alexia.  Alexia was not engaged now for sure (the spriggan had killed that model) so she did a ride by attack with Hellfire and made sure that she got her third soul and then returned to the relative safety of the building.
 
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The assault commandos ended up getting the Assault and Battery order and I foolishly shot with their pow10s at the arcuarii and a couple of models didn’t shoot at all due to range. I did send a couple of gas grenades forward on to the arcuarii but I should have done more sooner. For their movement those who could charge did and a couple of others ran. Notably one of the brave flamethrowers ran up base to base with the elephant that Zaal was cowering behind. The ancestral guardian next to the elephant hit it with a defensive strike and he set both elephants, a couple of arcuarii, and zaal aflame. He probably shouldn’t have taken that defensive strike, but it was irrelevant because I had planned on shooting my gun carriage at him from behind anyway. And Black Ivan if necessary. A couple of other ones ran just to the area to contest the center flag. The AKs managed to kill 2 of the arcuarii and hurt 2 others. 
 
The koldun lord gave Ivan a focus again and his shot drifted just a bit and hit two guys, one was killed but the soulward was closer than Alexia was so snatched that soul up.
 
The gun carriage advanced and fired both shots at the low def ancestral guardian who was sitting on armor 20 or 21 at this point. I did some damage and put a few points on Zaal from blast damage as well as putting a couple of points on one of the arcuarii. The rough terrain templates also caught both elephants, Zaal and the ancestral guardian who, wasn’t going anywhere thanks to his low speed. The gun carriage then dropped back thanks to ride-by attack.
 
I think that pretty much wrapped up that turn.
 
The fire went out on one of the elephants but everything else continued to burn. Zaal transferred his damage over to the damaged ancestral guardian to bring the kovaas into play. He wouldn’t be able to activate this turn, but he was in a good central position. Also, Zaal doesn’t like taking fire damage at dice –2.
 
The extoller soulward made the spriggan hit itself and he did for like 8 points of damage.  Zaal shifted a bit over to my left and put last stand on the nihilators who then charged the spriggan. Only 4 of them could get on the warjack but that was enough to knock out everything but his movement. Ouch.
 
The gladiator trampled over the three assault kommandos that were contesting the zone. Oops, I guess I hadn’t actually spread them out that well. The arcuarii killed a couple of the AKs. The drake advanced through the forest and sprayed killing a few more but they passed their leadership test. He did end up scoring a control point.
 
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For my turn, Hark upkept escort and started to shift a bit to the left. I cast broadside and killed a couple of nihilators as well as finishing off the beast handlers. The spriggan killed off one or two of the nihilators. The 4 remaining assault kommandos killed off another arcuarii and prepared to sell their lives to hold things up a bit more. The gun carriage moved forward in a ride by attack, fired a couple more shots and killed the last of the beast handlers. I was trying to be cute and knock down the elephant with a melee attack but rolled snake eyes and so ended up stuck in melee with the gladiator. At least he was contesting the middle flag (or no one was claiming it).
 
Zaal burned some more and transferred a pretty hefty about of damage – 8 I think – over to the drake. He popped his feat stayed in his bunker. Hakkar charged the spriggan and destroyed it. The gladiator destroyed the gun carriage. The kovaas charged and then threshered a couple of the AKs and somehow missed the arcuarii caught in the arc. We played it slightly wrong here in that we had the AK explode in a cloud (which is what the picture shows) but that was his other ability. New models, but it was cool and cinematic. Ultimately it only screwed him because one of the arcuarii only had one box left and couldn’t move through it. The drake dropped back a bit. 
 
 
It was go time for Harkevich’s feat. I gave 2 focus to the juggernaut, 2 to black ivan, and kept escort. He shifted a bit to the left and fired a shot from his hand cannon at max range and put down another nihilator who failed his tough. The juggernaut charged the gladiator and left him with 3 boxes in his spirit, but did make him stationary. Ivan charged Hakkar and killed him. 
 
Zaal continued to burn and sent it over to the drake leaving it almost dead. The gladiator shook the stationary effect and the sentry moved to claim the center flag.  Zaal was starting to get a bit desperate and moved out of his bunker to get range on the last few nihilators and put last stand on them again – he also popped his feat and spent 2 fury healing the gladiator. He then tried to make Ivan hit himself but missed and Ivan dodged forward base up to the flag and try and minimize the places that chargers could stand. It ultimately didn’t matter, because all three survivors were able to get the charge onto Ivan. Even at dice –11 the combination of last stand and charge dice put close to 15 points on Ivan but luckily for me he rolled different columns for everything.
 
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With Zaal’s feat he was able to use all the fury to buy attacks but the combination of  Harkevich’s feat and having to blow a fury to shake saved the juggernaut. He wrecked the left arm but that was it.
 
Whew. It looked tight, but I Zaal was only at 3 fury or so and I thought I might be able to get off a broadsides ranged assassination if everything went just right. Hark dropped escort – there was neither need for the extra movement for the jacks nor one close enough for armor.  The koldun lord stepped up and tried to lock Zaal in an ice cage and… missed. I should have called it off when that failed, but once I set a course I foolishly stick with it. Black Ivan shifted around to where he had line of sight to Zaal and took a shot. He missed and the drift did nothing. Harkevich put fortune on himself and moved to get Zaal into range. I cast broadsides and thanks to the reroll got the 9 I needed to hit. Here I forgot to boost the damage with that 1 focus I had left over. Oops. Oh well. Then I rolled a 2. Kyle obviously marked that on Zaal’s card. Black Ivan’s shot hit Zaal and did enough damage that it had to be transferred to the sentry. Harkevich then fired his regular shot and missed with the reroll. It was definitely time for a bit of damage control to hopefully survive. 
 
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I moved Alexia up to engage the titan sentry and keep him from being able to get to Harkevich and the juggernaut finished off the gladiator. Alexia dropped off 2 thralls in the sentry’s back arc and they both charged Zaal and missed. Man that ice cage was clutch!
 
Damage control was about the best I could hope for.
 
Zaal continued to burn (yay!) and the damage was transferred to the sentry. The tyrant commander (who had been advancing suspiciously) pressed himself forward and charged Alexia! D’oh! I absolutely did not see that coming AT ALL. He was just in range and managed to one shot the witch. The arcuarii charged the juggernaut and did some damage but again spread it out enough to not take out any systems though I only had about 10 boxes left. The sentry had to pay for the charge on Harkevich and missed Harkevich with the boost on the initial attack. He boosted a hit with the shield and did 8 or 9 boxes and then missed with the tusks. Having to boost and pay for the charge meant that Harkevich survived, still having 10 boxes. The soulward made Ivan hit himself again and he lost the bear claw. 
 
Whew. I lived. I spent a long time looking at the table and then thought, you know, they give Hark a 7 MAT and a PS 14 for a reason. I measured my control area carefully and made sure I have the charge and there was a line that could get me past the Tycom without taking a free strike from him. I decided Page 5 and kept fortune up. I started with the surviving thrall who actually got a hit and did a few points of damage which were transferred to the sentry. I had hoped to take out a spiral, but no luck. Next up Ivan aimed and shot the thrall in the back (he had a lower defense). The thrall was pasted and I did 1 to Zaal. Mostly I wanted to get the thrall out of melee so that the koldun lord could redeem himself and ice cage Zaal. He missed again. D’oh! 
 
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Zerkova would be hearing about his failures.
 
Zaal was sitting on 4 fury and I had 5 focus. It was most definitely go time. Harkevich declared a charge on the old skorne. I needed 8s to hit with a reroll. He had 2 beasts left and something like 10 boxes but I would be rolling straight dice. My charge attack not only hit, but got a crit meaning he was staggered and lost his initials next turn! A cool side effect, but largely irrelevant. I also beat him back with every attack that hit just to make sure I was out of tycom range for the next turn. I rolled 10 for damage which was enough to kill the sentry exactly. I missed the 2nd attack. I hit the 3rd attack for 6 points, which he took. The 4th attacks both missed! That stupid koldun lord! The 5th attack missed. The reroll, however, came down a hit. I rolled a 7 for damage which was just enough to splash back and take out the ancient warlock. It had been costly but the invasion had been repelled.
 
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Man that was a FUN game. Exactly what Warmachine is about to me. Two forces setting up and beating the hell out of each other with the generals finally mixing it up and finishing things off. A super fun game that taught me a lot about Harkevich. 
 
He can do some work on his own, and I think he should probably be doing work all game long. His theme list is pretty solid and I get why so many people love it, but it is just a fact of life that our jacks are mat 6. That isn’t good. It means you need to boost to hit def 12 reliably. Or find a way to drop that. The theory behind the Hark lists I am testing are all about looking for ways to cheat that. Assault kommandos do that vs. living. Ice cages do that against everything, assuming you can hit. And they can both stack pretty easily. I am not writing off his theme force, I have seen some really intriguing lists and I will definitely be trying them. 
 
Anyway, thanks for reading this novella 😉 I’ll likely write more, but I am out of time.
Happy 2014 – I hope you all have a great year! As I mentioned  a couple of posts back I had planned on sticking with Harkevich and Strakhov for the first couple of months this year and while that was my intent, I have to change course a bit. It isn’t because I think that those casters suck or are weak – quite the contrary, it is just that I have had some pretty exciting professional opportunities come up that have pretty harsh deadlines and a whole lot of work. That means my gaming time will be cut way down for the next 6 months or so but it is a joyful sacrifice.
 
I am still planning on going to Kingdomcon in April (so if you are there, come say hi!) and am going to play in the Warmachine Weekend qualifier as well as a couple of other events. My competitive nature ensures that I want to compete at my best despite the limited time. The best answer I have come up with to that conundrum is to play casters and lists with which I am extremely familiar. A quick peek at my spreadsheet from last year reveals that my most often played caster by a pretty fair amount is Vlad3. Unsurprisingly he is also my favorite and the one that is the most fun for me to play. For that reason, he will be my go-to guy for the next several months. Now that he is picked out I will focus on painting his main list because I want to only take fully painted models to Kingdomcon which will be quite a challenge given my lack of free time. However, I make no guarantees as to the quality of this fully painted.
 
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As to whom I will pair him with… that is still up for debate. My #2 caster is Butcher1 and the #3 is, surprisingly even to me, tie between Irusk2 and Butcher3 so it will be one of those three. Zerkova was just one behind so she is still in the running as well…
 
Speaking of which and knowing my innate inner crow who is distracted by anything shiny, I have decided to keep it interesting for me that rather than switching casters as I have done in the past, I will instead run Vlad3 with every model/unit available to him to get some experience with them and see how they rate. Obviously not all in the same list 😉 but I will eventually get to the Manowar Bombardiers or Croe’s Cutthroats even if just for a game or two. Clearly many of the will be subpar in a Vlad3 but I am sure it will be interesting and educational nonetheless. I may even stumble upon a jewel in the rough or two.
 
For those who are curious, my breakdown for 2013 ended up being something like this: 49/44/2 which isn’t too bad considering I just started them at the start of 2013 more or less. For the casters I am considering, the breakdown was like this: Vlad3-11/8, Butcher1-5/10, Butcher3-5/4, Irusk2-7/1/1, Zerkova1-5/1/1 and I have to admit that was a bit surprising to me when I broke it down. 
 
If I get time I will do a more detailed breakdown but I just don’t have the time right now.
 
So that is the plan for 2014 for me, do you have any plans for the year gaming wise?

I was able to get in a game a bit before Christmas but only now have the time to write it up. As I have mentioned before on Facebook and the PP forums I have decided to stick with just Strakhov and Harkevich until TempleCon. I am calling this my “Hammer and Anvil” sessions with Strakhov being the “glass hammer” and Harkevich being the anvil.

Anyway, I was able to make good on this threat against Shawn’s Vyros1 list. My current working theory is that Strakhov is far more than the “Heaven Piercing Spear” tactic he is best known for and I am keeping that in mind as I plan and play my turns. I visualize him, and thus try to play him, as very patient and calculating but when it is go time, he is ready to go. As an aside, my local group and I have talked before about how cool it is that PP does a great job of making many of the pieces work better when you keep the fluff in mind and use that to inform your game decisions. Obviously that isn’t a license to be an idiot, it is just an interesting observation that has proven itself in the past.

I have also recently finished assembling my gun carriage, so you knew that would show up.

My list:
Strakhov
Black Ivan,
Max AKs with 2 flamethrowers
Min Battle Mechaniks
Min Kossite Woodsmen
Gun Carriage
Iron Fang Kovnik
Koldun Lord
Widowmaker Marksman
Manhunter
Yuri the Axe

They would be facing off against:
Vyros1
2 Manticores
2 Griffins
2 Arcanists
Houseguard Thane
Max Rifleman with UA
Max Halbardiers with UA
Max Sentinels probably with UA

We were playing the early beta version of Incursion where the center flag always stays. He chose to go first and I picked sides. The first thing I noticed after he set up is that he had about a billion dudes. Like seriously, all of Ios was there. My own list felt a bit undermanned, not least of all, I am sure, due to me keeping the Kossites in reserve. The plan with them was to staunch any bleeding of CPs if I was out of position when the flag disappeared. Also, if they had a chance to kill those lousy mechaniks they would.

Shawn deployed most of his stuff as centrally as possible, but again, with a billion angry elves he blotted out his table edge.

I forgot to take a pictures he started moving but it should be good enough to give you an idea. That thing in the middle is a hill, btw, and the white templates there are covering fire. Also, sorry for the crappy pics, I have an old iPhone4.

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So the Iosans advanced, the manticores laid down covering fire templates, the halbardiers got inviolable resolve and shield walled with desperate pace from the thane on top of the hill in the middle. The light warjack headed out to the flanks and the sentinels moved toward the flag on my left. The rifleman advanced in a fairly wide line behind the halbardiers.

This is what my deployment looked like:

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That is Yuri on the left and both the WMM and the manhunter on the right. I thought that I was being clever with my deployment but then I ended up having a few issues – namely I needed to activate my IFK before I activated the assault kommandos to give them shield march. I needed to get them out of the way so I could get Strakhov over to put sentry on the gun carriage, but I also needed to have the gun carriage go first to protect myself from any silly errant drifts backward and I wanted to make sure and use ride by attack so I could drop some templates and then fall back a bit. So yeah, moral of the story here is to plan your first turn moves and actions before you deploy. Anyway, I made it work (also putting superiority on the spriggan which I upkept for the rest of the game) and then more or less and even had some spot on drifts with the gun carriage. The carnage would have been amazing had the halbardiers not been sitting at armor freaking 20. As it was, I had some fantastic rough templates dropped down and managed to end with sentry on the gun carriage after all. Also, as a bonus, the widowmaker markman advanced up and shot one of the mechanics and then dropped back a bit and my manhunter ran over to the flag on the right. I figured if it stayed I would be in good position and if it disappeared I could continue running to the other side of that forest the next turn just to threaten and be a pain.

Turned out that flag stayed.

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Turn 2 we would see just how big of a pain those rough terrain templates would be on the elves. As you can see in the picture above the halberdiers were almost completely covered by the templates. Shawn considered running them but instead just sucked it up and moved forward in shield wall slowly. I triggered sentry to try and give them another bit of rough terrain to deal with, but it scatter back to cover the wall. The thane gave the riflemen firing solution and my poor widowmaker marksman became the first casualty of the new solo’s ability to deny stealth. The light jack on my right advanced on the manhunter and boosted the hit roll but somehow missed with the reach weapon and was out of range for the shield. The manticore then dropped a covering fire template over the middle of the light jack to prevent the manhunter from being able to attack it at all. The sentinels had to scramble for relevance and began shifting laterally to my right after their flag disappeared. I also forgot to take a picture at the end of Shawn’s turn. Vyros ended up moving onto the hill and striking a pose and looking pretty boss.

For my turn I was pretty happy with the table state and decided to hold the Kossites for another turn. I didn’t really need the bonus from shield march since I wasn’t planning on going the full distance forward so he just moved up a bit. The assault kommandos were next since I wanted to give the gun carriage a change to hit. They advanced in shield wall against and started firing gas grenades at the riflemen on the hill. I got a couple of hits despite needing something like a 9 to hit the one not on the hill, this gave me a couple of other targets and I fired the rifles of some of the guys once I was happy with the gassing. I also gassed a couple of my own guys in the back to give them some protection from the halberds the following turn. I still had a couple of rifle shots left so through them up in hope of getting lucky but couldn’t get through armor 20.

The gun carriage went next and with a ride by attack launched 2 more templates. One of them got a direct hit on one of the guys on the hill thanks to the gas and killed him and the one in front who wasn’t benefitting from shield wall since the damage originated in his rear arc. The rifleman on top of the gun carriage finished off the cluster of 3 since the remaining member was alone and no longer in shield wall.

I advanced the spriggan up behind the AKs, pretty much center of the table and ready to respond to whatever came up and fired his grenades but they did nothing. Strakhov fired a smoke grenade into the back of one of the assault kommandos to give a true smoke template to block LOS back to himself and put sentry on the gun carriage again and occultation on himself just because those manticores were starting to give me the willies.  Meanwhile, the koldun lord powerboosted ivan who used the focus to boost his to hit roll on another of the halberdiers and killed him. When all was said and done I think I killed 5 or 6 of the halberds, doing much better than I thought I would. The rough terrain templates below are the brass rings, btw, and at the end of my turn the one under the wall went away but the template was hard to get to so we just left it there.

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Shawn spent a bit of time thinking about what to do this turn and finally decided to page 5 it. He gave a focus to the light jack on my left and then found out that the other one was out of Vyros’s control area. He also kept inviolable resolve on the halberds. Yuri ended up not as fortunate as the manhunter and he was cut down with a single blow. The riflemen tried a 4 man CRA on the gun carriage but only did a point or two. The other rifles tried to draw line on Strakhov but was stymied by the cloud so instead they had to slake their bloodthirst on the Iron Fang Kovnik.

The halberds decided to forego shieldwall in order to try and punch the AKs armor and charged. They also popped minifeat just because it was getting a bit late and the store only had about 40 minutes left til close. The gas templates caused him a bit of consternation and he ended up not crowding in quite as much as he might otherwise have liked. He killed a couple of the AKs. Vyros moved over to the forest on the left setting up to maybe dominate the right flag on the next turn. He also moved the manticore more or less between Strakhov and Vyros. Since Strakhov had stealth he ended up covering the middle flag with a covering fire template.

I spent a bit of time looking at the table. Vyros looked a long way off, but he looked like he was about 20″ away from the spriggan so I gave him 3 just in case. I know that I have said that “heaven piercing spear” is not my preferred plan with Strakhov but it is still a tool in the toolbox. Also, the store was closing soon so I figured it was a good time to practice it out – win or lose the game was over soon. My plan of putting the spriggan in the center of the table was decent, but I was pretty well jammed by my own AKs so there was a bit of an order of activation issue that I had to get right. I also decided to bring in the Kossites this turn behind that forest and see if I couldn’t put a few points of damage on Vyros just to make it easier. That didn’t work out (I did get a couple of hits, but couldn’t crack his 19 armor), but they did manage to kill a couple of sentinels so I was still happy with them. The koldun lord sprayed away some halberds to give the AKs a bit of room to get out of the spriggan’s way.

I had the assault kommandos use assault and battery to take some shots and then charge in to kill a few halberds – I had hoped to hit the center halberdier with gas to make it easier for Strakhov to hit when it came up. I made sure and left one halberd that was center of the table with the plan of using him to springboard the feat. Things were set up, so may as well go for it. Strakhov feated to get range to charge the halberd, moving through the covering fire template and taking a couple of points of damage. At the end of my charge I cast overrun with my last 2 focus and had to raw dog the 8 to hit – I had forgotten that they have set defense! Fortunately for me, he pulled it off and easily killed the elf thanks to the ps15 on the charge. I triggered overrun on the spriggan and moved over and set up the lane and used my sprint move to get Vyros in feat range. The spriggan charged and bulldozed the manticore out of the way. The charge ended up being closer than I thought it would be and I only got in range of the reach weapon. I was effectively rat 10 on the charge and I agonized over whether to boost the hit or not but eventually decided to (I am still not sure if that was the right choice). Spriggan got the hit and had a slightly above average damage roll (12 I think). I bought an attack and boosted the to hit with my last focus, got the hit and then got enough to put him in the dirt.

I can’t claim particularly genius tactics this one, but a win is a win and I will take it. I was actually really happy with how the list worked and I was in great position to play a bit of attrition. Had I had more time the plan would have been to use the spriggan to kill the manticore and then overrun back to safety and let the AKs and ivan kill off halberds and start working on scenario.

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After action review: I am really happy with how everything worked together this game. This is a list inspired by my conversations with Shwan  (not to be confused with Shawn, my opponent) and against this type of troop spam list worked really well aside from my positioning errors both at deployment and a couple of times that I didn’t mention above (an example was moving the koldun lord to get the spray but blocking in ivan – it didn’t matter in this game, but it could have been a big problem in a longer game. Strakhov seems to reward patience and the longer you can keep your feat as a threat the better off you are – Shawn tried to pull Vyros back and the threat of the feat I think made him more cagey than he would otherwise have been. The rough terrain from the gun carriage was clutch but against something with a lot of access to pathfinder wouldn’t have been as dominant (although three 4″ AOEs is pretty legit against most infantry).

All things considered, I will definitely be giving this list some more table time and soon!