Early this week Matt Wilson,CCO of Privateer, Tweeted that he was going to be going to the Main office in Seattle, and would try to send out some spoiler pics. He sent three over the course of two days (and may even send more today.) Typical of Wilson and Privateer, they are all half obscured, upside down, or some other form of difficult.

 

The first pic was this one:

Stryker

It originally comes upside down and backwards, but that’s OK. Its obviously Stryker 3, mounted Cyngar Warcaster. The connection point for this super awkward model is fortunately huge wall. You can see other bits on the table underneath, including the horses head, Strykers head, and either a cloak or cape. This could be a really cool model, and with my small Cygnar army, if the rules are right I could definitely see adding him. Oh the awesome!

The next Picture came the following day:

Cephalyx

This hulking monstrosity has a few details that have been noticed by a couple forum goers. The first was that the back models base is un-slotted. Currently, the PP line only has 50mm unslotted models. that means that this model is on a large base unless PP has some kind of in-house unslotted smaller bases. The other part is that the plastic (perhaps?) models have different heads and joins in the army. The current theory is that they are a Large-based Plastic Warbeast kit.

If the cephalyx are an army of their own, I’m going to be selling my Merc army for them. I really enjoy the style and feel of the models, and would be thrilled to field a whole army of them!

Goreshade

 

Shortly thereafter, Came this picture. Its at a strange angle, but I’m pretty sure, from the Deathwalker in the back, the long, black hair, and the Spike-rack smokestacks that that is an Alt. Goreshade.
Nothing has made me want to play Goreshade the Bastard. Until I saw this. If the second half of the model is 1/3 as good as what I can see here, I’m going to have to use him. He seems to capture the power of a stationary model, and the malice of a moving one.

Reznik

 

and then, Thursday, he posts this puppy. Resin horses, the body of Reznik, Wrath of Ages, his spear and other assorted bits. this model is going to be enormous and insane, and I know a friend who really enjoys dropping Reznik on the table, so I hope his rules are solid enough to get the job done.

 

I think Matt’s splurge of Pics is done for now, he is heading home before going to templecon next week, where I am sure we will see all sorts of goodies. I hope its more revealing than last years L&L Keynote. I’ll be in person at L&L again this year, so we will see how that goes!

 

Edit: Simply moments before posting this, Chain Attack‘s facebook page posted a full stryker three!!

Its been quite some time since I’ve painted a model for me to use, I do believe. I remember painting up Jerek of Jhord for the IKRPG game, but I can’t think of anything in my warmachine or hordes or Malifaux models that I’ve painted for me. Instead, I spent the last year Painting models for my Gator Exchange. I paint something for them, They paint something for me. It was cool, but It didn’t really motivate me to paint a ton. I do have some outstanding ones yet, but I’m working on it. One day I’ll have an Internationally painted army. While it was great, I wouldn’t really do it again, I have to work on my own stuff!

I’ve painted: a Gallant that went to Ireland

A Magister and Artificer that went to Iowa

A Totem Hunter that went to Utah

A Vassal to Georgia

Karchev and a hrullg to Massachusetts

Seige to texas

Blood of Martyrs to Maryland

and Anyssa Rusaal to Utah.

(not pictured) A Dougal McNaille to both Kamloomps BC and Tennessee, Rhadiem to Colorado, and a Helldiver to Iceland

I also participated in a generic Excange, and painted a model for someone else in payment:

Reclaimer, for a recent Exchange

Sylas, in payment for Siege above.

and finally, I started and finished my PG Gorman di “Sea” Wulfe:

 

So, with the first model I’ve painted for myself in just about a year, I’m ready to get rocking and rolling again. and I am really, really jacked to get  back into my Cryx and finish the models that I have left: Crabjack-Chassis, Scavenger, Asphyxious the Hellbringer and Vociferon, Revenenat Pirate Crew Riflemen x3, Erebus and Iron Lich Overseer. I also have some duplicates as well: Scavenger Helldiver, Deathrippers x2, Slayer, Warwitch Denegra and a Necrotech. We will see how all of that pans out in the year to come. I’m just really looking forward to painting some models for myself, and not for others!

 

 

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1, part 2, part 3, , part 4, and part 5 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion
This’ll be the last Post for my Classic-Normal Playthrough! You can look through the Best Of Screenshots I took from the whole campaign here!

This is where we fight.
This is where they die!

The end is here. I can taste it. I have plasma, MECS, and the Hyperwave Decoder. With the building of the Hyperwave decoder relay, I am now able to see what type of ship each UFO is, alongside what type and how many of the aliens are on board.My next mission is simple: Intercept and assault the Overseers Ship. Sadly, the Overseer’s ship is fairly anti-climactic. I’ve fought Sectopods and Muton Elites before, and nothing in this wreck scares me all to much. I would go so far as to say that I might have completely crushed out this mission.

It turns out that the overseer has The (an?) Ethereal Device on his ship. Vahlen has some interest in it, so take it home and she starts some tests on it. Turns out, its some sort of Mind-globe that needs a super-psionic solider to access it.We also have to build a specific room for the damned thing, so I start on that immediately. Unfortunately, I don’t have any psionically powerful soldiers with which to use the Gallop Chamber.
Matter of fact, I don’t even have a single Psionic solider. Probably should fix that. As I work up to it, thought, I get sent on a unique council mission to France.

The setup is simple: It is a re-skinned bomb disarm, but with a longer timer. My team is making it across a bridge that the aliens have damaged, all the while releasing water valves to stop the whole thing from collapsing. they give you a more than generous time limit, and each valve gives you 2 more turns.

I was never worried.

I am racing to find the “bomb,” in this instance a convoy truck with a secret weapon inside. Aliens keep beaming down to try and stop me, but they have no chance. Moving and overwatching forward every turn allows me to really put a cramp in their style.

The Yellow Circles are overwatch shots. Poor bastard.

I get to the end of the mission, and out from this container jumps this psychic warrior woman who tries to run, but we calm her down via threats to her life, and she agrees to come back to base with us: With XCOM, she’d get a chance to kill aliens.

I finally get the Psionic Labs done and start testing test her up, along with Undercover, who has the greatest Will stat in the army, and thus a high likelihood of having Psionic potential.

While they are both out of commission being tested for powers, another council mission pops up. Also in France. Annette Durrant, the rescuee from the last mission, has friends that the aliens got to first. Time to negotiate with the aliens for their release.

Once again, this is a moderately unique council mission we have to get to the ship as fast as possible, try and sneak in, and get the hostages out. Of course it never works that simple, and the aliens set up the ships self destruct. We have only turns to plow our way through the ship and set the prisoners free. Thankfully, our troops are up for the task and we bring the three friends home. The Three furies: Alecto, Magaera, and Tisiphone are the trapped soldiers. They voulenteer to assist in the XCOM project now that I’ve freed them. I betcha, if I test them, they’ll all be psionically adept, and they don’t fail me. All three tested positive for psionic abilities once they were ready. Durrant and even Undercover both ended up being gifted as well, and I now havr five squad members who were gifted. I need to get at least one of them up to max psionic level and wearing a psi-armor outfit in order to activate the Gallop Chamber. It worries me, taking them out on missions this close to the end. high level soldiers are valuable, but I have to get them trained up and ready to fight the alien ship that I know is coming afterward. I am careful in my missions and make sure that each one it taken slowly and methodically. I risk no one, but I still have to reload a couple times in order to get the team I want to take to the end game ready.

I am finally ready to use the Gallop Chamber. I send in Durrant, because she really, really wants to kill aliens.

Annette Accesses the Ethereal Device

A ship appears, in her mind.

and a Uber Ethereal shows himself.

It is time.
The Temple Ship awaits.

This is one of the parts of the game that makes me kinda sad. The Temple ship is a really cool fight. Sadly, though, its a set piece fight that does not change from playthrough to play through. While it was fun, it was less than challenging.

I grabbed my Greatest Team: Durrant, Big Red, Grinder, Bullet, Jaws and Undercover. Undercover and Durrant both have Mind Control. This one is going to be a good day.

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We get to the Temple ship, and I know its going to follow a very specific template. I am going to go straight through the ship while the Uber Ethereal tests me, summoning each different type of alien in turn. The first a Sectoids. They prove just about as problematic as you would expect them to, given the tech level I’d achieved. After them, a pair of cyberdisks with drones to repair them. They, too, drop like flies to Bullet, Big Red, and Grinder.

With each new alien species summoned, the Uber Ethereal tells me why they didn’t pass the tests that I seem to have. Secotids are cowards, Cyberdisks have no emotions. Floaters, who’s bodies failed to evolve enough, are next. They, too, are eliminated. As soon as I drop the last one, Cryssalids are summoned. Turns out they are completely incapable of being commaned, but they made damned good weapons. All three are easily overcome. A trio of Thin Men block my way for only a brief moment. Turns out that Thin Men just cannot have psionics. Interesting. Mutons are in the next room. Three Standard and a Beserker. This one takes some brief finagling, including the discovery that a standard grenade will set off a proximity mine. Resulting in 13 instant damage. Pretty useful to take away from this. The Mutons are incapable of independence, and are therefore also failures to the Uber Ethereal.

The next room is where the game has broken down for me completely. The first go round in Enemy Unknown, I stumbled into the two Sectopods. Since then, it has not happened. Its a unique shaped room that is easy to see coming. This run I have three stealth soldiers. Bullet, Undercover and Durrant all set up. Jaws, Grinder and Big Red Prepare to move forward to lay unrelenting fire upon them. Unfortunatly, I guessed wrong as to where Grinder could go, and I alerted the Sectopods to my position. One fires its beam cannon,thankfully missing Big Red, and the other wanders out of sight of the top platform.
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My turn comes and I Fire everthing I have from Grinder and Big Red into the one I can see. Its just not enough, so I have to send Jaws in. One down. The the squad on the lower level, the hidden ones, turn their attention to the remaining enemy. While they aren’t able to scrap it, they come close. I was moderately worried here, because Durrant, the Chosen One, was standing next to the Sectopod. Thankfully, it used its cluster-bomb ability on Undercover and Bullet. This bought me a turn to run out of the area of effect before I got hammered. The Secotopod never had a chance.

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At the end of the room with the Sectopods was a trio of Muton Elites. I took control of one, and killed the other two.
Again, we get to a position that is uniquely identifiable, and I set my squad up to end the game. With the Uber Ethereal lined to be lined in my sites shortly, I send in the ghost units.

2014-01-27_00054
Unfortunately, again, I screw up, and they detect on of the soldiers. The Ethereal moves before I can draw a bead on it. This’ll be the first time I actually fight the aliens in this room. 3 Muton Elites, 2 Ethereals and the Uber Ethereal. Fortunatly, I have a Muton of my own! I take control of another Muton Elite to balance the equation, and after a quick firefight, most of the enemies are down.

And that is when I realized I had a chance to do something awesome. I started running, with a bit of caution, Grinder towards the Uber Ethereal. Undercover gets mind controlled, but she can’t do enough damage in the time it takes me to free her – by killing the normal Ethereal in control of her – to change my plan. I sweep the rest of the room, putting down both standard Ethereals. Sadly, Jaws gets exploded towards the end, but thanks to her second heart, stays alive. I have only the Uber Ethereal left to kill.

Grinders got this.
I pop a few shots into him to soften him up for the inevitable end he’s going to meet: A giant Mecha-fist to the face.
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After that, its all over but the Exploding. I get everyone back to base and take a look at my final scores.

Well, that is it for my play through of Classic-Normal. I really enjoyed the new aspects of the game. The new enemies were challenging, but not overpowering, and the missions were a welcome break from the same ones employed in the first. I think I am finally ready for the Ironman run. I know its not going to be easy, but I am going to try it out!

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion

I literally could not stop cheering. Bradford put the gun to the traitorous soldiers head, and the mission starts.

I’ve two soldiers pinned down in the globe room. They have the assistance of a couple XCOM security Guardsman, but otherwise, they are on their own.

While they are trapped, equipped as they are with the best gear that XCOM can buy, the Security Force holds no such advantage. Body armor, frag grenades and assault rifles will hold nothing to the firepower that the aliens are about to bring.

Warmachine Launches rockets

Warmachine Launches rockets

And bring it they do. Bradford instructs that the two trapped soldiers will have to hold off as best they can until the power generator, cut off in the attacks, can be brought back up online. That could take some time.

Great.

I am fortunate, however. The three soldiers trapped are Jaws, Bullet and Warmachine. With incredible accuracy on Jaws, a strong sniper in Bullet, and a vast array of explosives on Warmachine, I should be able to hold off the few aliens that the game throws at me the first turn. It even gives me a turn to prepare. I got this.
I could not have been more wrong. The game pans out Starts showing aliens dropping into the base just off screen.
A Mechtoid drops into the center of the room.
then a second.
Two Chryssalids.
A Muton Elite, a Muton, a beserker.
A second Muton Elite.
Jesus! Thankfully, Bradford is able to send in the Cavalry, and I get Big Red.

2013-12-22_00116

With the substantial amount of firepower I bring to bear, I am able to take out the first wave, but its not easy. I focus on the heavy hitters first: Mechtoids and Muton Elites. I know that they both can just wreak havoc on my position, as vulnerable as I am. But I’d also assumed something that I didn’t double check until much later in the mission: The aliens in this mission, unlike every other one, don’t drop in on overwatch. You can run all you like across the map to get to good position, and rightly so. The mission was very, very hard for me because I was under the impression that they were following the rules for the rest of the game, when clearly, they are not.

Once the power-crew is removed from the board, I deal with the lone Muton, and am able to reposition the one or two Security defense that have not acted. I pull back from the door that I know has Chryssalids and a Muton Berserker lurking just beyond my field of view, and put who I can on overwatch. That turn, the three aliens advance into the room, into what I thought would be a withering barrage of gunfire that, just, never emerges. However, I am able to remove all three from existence before the start of the next turn. I assume the aliens are going to bring more threats, so I try to take as much cover as possible. Whatever comes through that door, We will stand and fight.

And come through the door they did. Three Cyberdisks, three drones, two heavy floaters and a normal floater.
Whoo boy.

It was only turn four. While I slowly crush through the armor of the Cyberdisks, my forces keep coming through the door, every few turns. Grinder shows up shortly after Big Red, adding, literately, punch to my squad. A few turns later, Breaker shows up, and I learn a sad, sad lesson. My reinforcements come with whatever gear they had loaded last, which in Breakers case was a standard issue sniper rifle and body armor. We’ve come a long way since those times were good times, and he’s not going to live through anything, So I take care with placing him.

Unfortunately, he’s my last reinforcement. I’ve got a few Security guards, but they are quickly being overwhelmed, and I start using them as grenade lobbers, and not much else.

Just as Breakers strides in, Bradford alerts me that I’ve secured the globe room, but that their are more signals coming from the MEC Bay, conveniently located right next door.
Fantastic.
2013-12-22_00242
More Mechtoids, Sectoid Commanders and Sectoids later, I’ve cleared out the MEC Bay.

Now, there is one more wave. I get informed that the back entrance is now full of bad guys, and I’ve got to go clear THAT bay out.

Sectoid Commanders, Mechtoids, Cyberdisks, Drones and a Sectopod.
Have I told you how much I hate Sectopods?

I have a story.
In Enemy Unknown, there is a spot where you find two Sectopods, standing side by side, ready to rain death on your poor, unsuspecting heads. Its a brilliant trap that lost me a solider to its whiles in Classic/Normal. In C/I I was prepared though. Heavy Weapons Trooper with both Mayhem and Heat Ammo did the trick. Because I’d played the game before I knew where they’d be, Used Ghost armor to spot them and Blew the living tar out of them. Poor bastards only had a single HP left after that, and my squadsight sniper took care of that. No Problems.

Now, In Enemy Within, they’ve scaled back heat ammo. That is fine. Oh, and they gave Sectopods 50% damage reduction. Great. Just Great. not only is my best weapon gone, the giant turds are more durable. Just what I wanted. Now, they are difficult to take down in the best of situations.

Right. Back to Base defense.
I get to the final area, and there is a Mechtoid and a Sectoid Commander. The Mechtoids a threat, but the sectoid commander just can’t live. I drop him as soon as I can and drive into the final area. Unfortunately, there is a Sectopod hanging out right around the corner. UGH. So I shoot it with my sniper.
1 damage.
1 Damage.
Seriously!
Well, fine. I’ve got a Heavy Weapon.
1 Damage!
There is no way! None!
And then I realize: I must have damage roulette on. It explains the strange swingyness I’d seen earlier, but wrote off as rebalancing.
There, There… There’s no way. After pulling open the Second Wave options,though, there it is, staring me in the face. Damage Roulette.
*&*(^&$%&^$@#@@~!!!!!

The sectopod, thankfully, is also subject to Damage Roulette, and does 1 damage with his giant pulse cannon to my Sniper. The Mechtoid and the Cyberdisk don’t pose a challenge, but the Mechtoid gets what it had coming.

Finish Him!

Finish Him!


The mission ends, and I get a good rating.
I killed 43 aliens, it tells me. 43. I cannot remember a mission in which I got even close to that. The final mission of my first runthrough was close, I seem to remember, but not 43.

The base defense mission is the highlight of Enemy Within, for me. I don’t even care what comes after this.

I have one more after this: from after the base defense to the endgame. After that, I might do an Ironman runthrough, but it won’t be as detailed as this.

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1, part 2 and part 3 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion

While I was busy with Exalt, the aliens were not letting up. Their assaults escalated quickly as the months when by with Secotids and Thin Men gave way to Heavy Floaters and Mutons, who eventually make room for Sectopods and Elite Mutons. The dangers of each mission grow as each enemy gets harder to kill with more HP, higher defenses, and greater consequences for failing to finish them off.

Outside of Exalt, the game progresses as I expect. I put off capturing a live alien as long as I can to get both the Gene Mod lab and the Cybernetics lab online, and while I lost all of Europe early, I lose only Mexico as the game progresses. Research remains slow and I am convinced that I am going to be overwhelmed at any moment by the ravening hordes of aliens come to conquer Earth. Abductions continue to cause panic across the globe, with Exalt continuing to fan the flames. Once I hit lasers, though, I feel I have reached the point of success. Even though the aliens might push me back here and there, I have the technology to take them down. I’m on the warpath.

I finish the Gene labs first, and start sending my soldiers under the knife as quickly as I can afoard. It takes the soldier out three days per mod, but its worth it. Thankfully, at the same time, I complete my satellite coverage of South America and get the “We Have Ways” perk which makes autopsies instant – relevant because most autopsies give me new gene mods.

I many games, I find I enjoy passive bonuses, and these gene mods are no exception. The ability to natively regenerate heath, get better aim and damage for higher ground, and having super jump are some of the coolest abilities. and not needing new buttons or activities to trigger them? Gorgeous.
The best, however, is Mimetic Skin.
Pulled from the autopsy of the new Seekers, Mimetic Skin allows you to go completely invisible if you end your movement in full cover. The concealment starts when you start your move, so you’ll be completely immune to overwatch shots, and won’t trigger aliens if you move into their view.. This can be a great boon to Assault troopers, who can get close and personal quicker, and to Snipers, who can move to position without getting shot in the head. Once its deactivated though (from shooting while in cover, or moving if aliens can see your position) it won’t reactivate until you’re in a new position. If you manage to get Low Profile, which makes all cover count as full, you can really make some crazy moves.
A close runner up, though, is Second Heart. A simple addition of another heart makes the affected soldier become critically wounded instead of die, removes the permanent Will penalty from becoming critically wounded, and adds two turns to the bleed out timer.
For a vanguard unit like Jaws, Its perfect. She’s been shot in the face so many times I can’t even describe, and now she doesn’t even care.

While I started with the Gene Labs, I was most impressed by the Cybernetics Lab. While my brothers style of play involves a fast-attack plan that involves massive use of Snapfire Snipers, Assault troopers, and combat Support, mine has always been a fire base plan of attack. The MECs fit this plan perfectly. Their guns do massive damage, and all of the upgrades that the MECs gets are useful. I think I have used each upgrade to save my squad one time or another.
Especially the flame thrower.
Oh man.

Big Red Lights 2 Elite Mutons and an Ethereal on fire, Panicking all three

Big Red Lights 2 Elite Mutons and an Ethereal on fire, Panicking all three

If the MEC’s weren’t so expensive, both in the valuable Meld and in actual credits, I’d consider a whole squad of them. They are durable, powerful, and versatile. Its everything I want in my troops.

The MEC troopers are their own class, but you choose who to volunteer for the procedures from your current roster of troops. That trooper will then undergo a few days of cybernetic augmentation in order to be fir to the MEC suits. Each soldiers former class brings along a special ability to the MEC class from their former life, and they keep their stats and level, unlocking the MEC tree to the point they had made in their prior class.
With Hidden Potential and Not Created Equally in play, you can, as I do, have two stunningly accurate MEC troopers.
Which is nothing but a boon. Their guns can do some massive damage, and having them be extremely accurate is just fantastic.

With laser weapons, I feel I catch a breather. I work through the storyline of the game a bit, capturing a live Thinman, and then a live outsider. All the while, managing absurd levels of panic, dealing with Terror Sites and Abductions, and until I take out the Exalt HQ I deal with their shenanigans as well.

Then comes one of my favorite parts of the XCOM franchise: The Base Assault Mission. In the prior version, it could be used as a soft pause button. Until you attacked the base and finished the mission, some of the stronger aliens: Muton Elites, Sectopods, and Ethereals, would not show up. That seems fixed in the expansion, because I encountered Muton Elites well before I was ready to.

I used to wait until I was all tricked out with Titan Armor, and Plasma weaponry before assaulting the base, but with Mutons and Sectopods breathing down my neck, I just can’t wait. I have a few Plasma weapons, and I take advantage of the troopers who can use them, and I put Breaker, Grinder, Big Red, Undercover, Jaws and Mountie into the skyranger.

I seem to remember the base assault being harder than this. The biggest problem alien is the beserker, and thats only because the base twists and turns it hard to gain LOS. But then you just have to plan what order to shoot him in to get good LOS.

I waltz through.
Between the power houses that are Grinder and Big Red, the accuracy of Jaws and Undercover, and the volume of fire that Mountie and Grinder can pour out, the mission just wasn’t a problem. This is one of the few problems with the game. This is a set-piece fight that just doesn’t hold through replays. Now that I’ve been through it three times, it holds nothing on me. You know, maybe that’s the point. Maybe the Base Assault is supposed to be done earlier than I’ve done it. Its a great map, with a good setup. You know what, I’m going in as soon as I can in the Ironman run. New resolution!.

The biggest reward, as it is every time, for taking down the alien base is the Hyperwave Beacon,

The key to the future of the XCOM project

The key to the future of the XCOM project

but I also come home with a huge pile of loot. I’ve got enough alloys, fragments and other pieces to fund research for the rest of the game. Again, this could have been a boon early on – Yet another reason to do this early. I start putting it all to work, starting important research, getting the ball rolling on critical Foundry projects, and building key weapons, armor and facilities for my own base. I am feeling really good about my progress, at this point. Both Alien and Exalt bases are taken care of, and I have all the critical projects ready to move.

But, shortly after the alien base as attacked and destroyed, I get a surprising cut scene

Did we catch you at a bad time?

Did we catch you at a bad time?

I could not stop cheering.

Sometimes, your hands get just a little dirty

Sometimes, your hands get just a little dirty

As each screen ticked by, I knew I was closer and closer to the single coolest part of any XCOM game, and I knew that what happened next would be epic.
I had to defend my base, my home turf, my HOUSE against the aliens.
They were not going to know what hit them.

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1 and part 2 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion

While the aliens continued their assault unabated, certain members of humanity have sided with the aliens. They are out to grab all the tech they can and stop XCOM.

This cannot be tolerated.

The current mission is to send one of my soldiers to infiltrate an Exalt cell. I assume that there was a chance everything could go south and the covert operative could be lost if they were not good enough, so I send in my leveled support – Daria “Jaws” Jaworski. Once I send her out, she is gone for 6 days, unavailable to use on missions of any type. Of Course, During those six days I have to deal with a terror mission and a set of abductions, making the choice to send one of my more senior soldiers into the compound very, very troublesome.
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The missions attempted while my point-man and combat veteran are indisposed are a pain, but I make it through them without her. I even level an assault for my troubles.

Then, to my surprise, the mission gets complicated. Exalt is onto Daria, and I need to extract her ass from the compound. Time to load up my best soldiers and bring her home.

As I start the mission, I get some curious instructions from Bradford: turns out that Daria isn’t quite yet finished her task. I have to cover for her while she gets the deed done, and she is lightly armed and completely vulnerable, aaaand on the other side of the map. She was almost done hacking a set of communication consoles, and the last two that she needs to hack are here, on this map.

These enemies in this mission are different. Instead of aliens human soldiers are attacking. They are snappy dressers, though: slacks, button-up shirts, suspenders, wielding standard ballistic weaponry, and working together. They have decent HP but are only slightly tougher than my soldiers, which is alright. I manage to beat them back, and though they take some shots at the Jaws, She lives. Linking up with the group makes the rest of the mission easy as I cover for her. She hacks both the Com towers, and then runs to the extraction point, at which point Bradford give me an option: Clean up the Exalt, or roll out. I see my Soldiers as my most valuable resource, so I bail, feeling victorious

The after-combat report, as always, lists how well you did. It tells me I did “poor” because I didn’t kill enough Exalt.
What!
I thought the whole point was a hit and run mission, an extraction. I thought that being prudent would be the better mode. Turns out, that its just better to murder all the Exalt. Who’da thought. I’ll know better next time.

So My first encounter with Exalt was a good one. I got in, struck hard and got out. The mission was also a little different than what I’d been used to, which was refreshing. I Look forward to tangling with them in the future. A worthy foe.

Exalt continues to cause serious problems for me over the course of the next few months. I always play with a very delicate panic balance, trying not to loose my countries and trying to keep those that exist calm. Exalt throws an enormous wrench into that formula, causing extra panic to accumulate in their active country. That extra panic does, however, give me a way to see where Exalt exists. I was never sabotaged, though the Tip Screen warned me that it could be devastating. The only thing exalt ever did was push panic higher and higher in whichever country they exist in. While you can wait, every time a cell would show up, I’d send in a covert operative, they’d muck up, and I’d send in an extraction crew.

Exalt composes their forces much like XCOM, and they have Heavies, Medics and Snipers. They seem to work as a semi-unified team, but they seem to enjoy reloading, throwing smoke and tossing frag grenades, none which are extremely threatening tactics. I keep loosing operatives on the first try of a map because I don’t understand the layout.
Exalt_standard
Once XCOM locates a cell, they ask you to send an operative, and each time it goes the same: 6 days later, they get interrupted, and you have to go on an extraction mission to save them and the vital information they hold.

There are two types of extraction missions: King of the Hill and Communication Disruption. These seem to have their own unique maps, as I didn’t encounter them anywhere else throughout the play through. I enjoyed the King of the hill missions much more. Its a simple, if challenging, setup in which you have to race to the designated area and then prevent the Exalt forces from holding it. If they hold it for 3 turns, then you have to fall back on a second designated area and hold that area. If they force you back from there, you loose the mission. You win the mission when they give up on sending soldiers in, and you kill the last wave. The the first time it gave me fits because I had no idea what was going on. I did, however, bring two heavies, both with rockets galore as I’d realized that the Exalt forces don’t have weapon fragments, so I didn’t need to worry about abusing explosives and loosing access to research materials, so I was able to post up in the first area and just shell everything that came close. Originally, I thought that you had to hold the designated area for a specific amount of time, and that was not the case. It got a number of my men killed, and I reloaded because the explanation was rather bare. Once I understand the mission parameters, though, it was a mission I looked forward to every extraction. It definitely changes the pace, positing you as an aggressive defender. You’ve got a ton of waves to fight through, but you have very little leeway in positioning. If you are too aggressive, you’ll get flanked and overrun, but if your too slow, Exalt will jump into the Zone (which counts as turn 1) and then you only have one turn to push them out or you have to fall back. I never suffered that particular humility, but came close.

The second mission is Communication Disruption. This is the one I did first, with two objectives on the field that the operative needs to get in contact with, and then hack to acquire data about Exalts HQ location. Once the Information is acquired, you then need to extract the operative through the landing zone. Most of the time your covert operative starts on the far side of the map, with fog of war between them, and the squad. Sometimes they’ll be near one of the two comm towers but its not a given. Oftentimes, moving your squad forward is going to triger enemies between your operative and the squad, and perhaps even the objectives. If your operative does not have mimetic skin, it can be a real problem getting your operative through the enemies alive. Most times, I try to link my operative up with the rest of my squad, and then have them escort her to each objective, and then back to the extraction point. These ones were the most straightforward missions, and once you know the maps they get much easier. I even tended to bring enough heavy weapons that was very little left of the Exalt forces once I extract the operative, having only to eliminate one or two to end the mission. This mission specifically seems like its going to be a big challenge in Ironman.

Eventually,after a few missions, Exalt ups their game. Their soliders get more HP, access to some gene mods, and improving their accuracy while also arming themselves with laser weapons.

Exalt_upgrade

The laser weapons are lethal to unarmored soldiers, I learn that one quickly, and leave a trail of poor covert operatives dead in their wake. Until I reload to figure out whats going on.

Each mission brings me closer to my ultimate goal: The end of Exalt. With each successful extraction I squeeze out just a little more information on where the base is, slowly homing in on the harboring country. These little morsels tend to be eliminitory: They don’t tell you where the HQ is, they let you know where it is not.
* Exalt HQ is not located in a country that is within the Arctic Circle
* Exalt HQ is not located in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Ect, ect.

Thankfully, the game put simple icons on the countries that you have eliminated from harboring Exalt on the map in the situation room. If your bad at geography, you won’t have to worry about decoding the clues correctly. Eventually enough covert operatives finish the mission and gather the information on Exalt, and you find out where the HQ is. After three missions you can guess and just go all in, but be careful if you decide to guess. If you choose wrong, the country leaves the council!

Now, with the HQ exposed and all other countries eliminated from contention, its time to tear down Exalt! I for one waited and made sure there was no chance of losing a country. I know where the HQ is, no guessing. I kit my squad out for maximum Carnage, I’m not looking to be accurate, just looking to burn it to the ground. Exalts lowish health and their tendency to hide even more than aliens makes me pack heat: Two heavies, a MEC, an assault with deep pockets, Jaws, and Bullet, my main Sniper. I pack everyone full of alien grenades and send them out.

Exalt Basejpg

The HQ is on the top of an office building in the middle of a city, but it seems that XCOM just doesn’t care anymore. We land the skyranger on the roof, my squad disembarks and I charge the base. Exalt forces respond, but I’m ready for them. Each group of Exalt is met with a fusillade of missiles, grenades and accurate sniper-fire. Anything left standing is swept up by ‘Mountie.” As I scorch their Headquarters room by room, the sirens blare around me. There is not nearly as much resistance ad I had feared, and though they had laser weapons and missiles and alien grenades, I was able to shrug off what they tossed at me. The flamethrower on the MEC was invaluable, as twice I was unable to kill everyone I could see, and both times I was able to light them on fire and make them panic. Controlling the flow of the battle really matters. After an intense, if both short and one sided, firefight, I sauntered back to the skyranger and flew off into the darkness, leaving only a smoldering ruin in my wake.

I assume That there would be more to the Exalt story line, but as I kept playing, it seems that I have accomplished exactly what was advertised. I sought Exalt out in their den, cut the head off the snake, and killed the beast once and for all.

Now, about these Aliens causing havoc in my world…

Read Game 1 Here!

After I got done getting the snot pounded out of me in the first game of the day, I got ready to throw down again.

I brought the same list to the Khador players table. He dropped this on my head:


The Butcher of Khardov (*6pts)
* Conquest (19pts)
* Juggernaut (7pts)
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 5 Grunts) (3pts)
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Manhunter (2pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)
Yuri the Axe (3pts)

This time, He takes first turn, and trundles up the board. His conquest was dead center supported by Kayazy and battle mechanics, with Doomreavers on my left and Widowmakers supported by Yuri and a Manhunter. I dropped the Banes front and center with the Kraken behind them, put the arcnodes wide to each flank with a Warwitch Siren to support them, and the Scarlock and Withershadow to the rear.
I ran everything into position across from him, trying to get good leverage on his units. I shot at the Kayazy with the Kraken, scattered onto only the Underboss, boosted damage, and he toughed it out.
I could tell it was going to be that type of game.
Turn 2 was more of the same. He toes Conquest into the zone, drops the Butcher behind him, and runs the Doomreavers nearly into my deployment zone. The Widowmakers run in to engage the arc node over on their flank, with Yuri and the Manhunter moving into position to threaten the Coven.
killbox is a nasty, nasty game.
This next turn I go all in. I Veil of Mists over the screening Kayazy, enabling a charge for the nearly full unit of bane knights into the Conquest. I activate the arc node, Ghost Walk it and run it over within 8″ of the Conquest to allow me to arc Curse of Shadows. I Activate the second Coven member, and toss curse out, easily hitting.
Charge in the banes!
I grab the first one and measure out the charge. The one closest to Conquest is only just in. The rest run and charge, but I only get four to actually get attacks on Conquest. I fan out and try to engage as much as possible of the Kayazy unit, but its a loosing prospect. I don’t hit a single Kayazy, and I do some significant damage to Conquest, but its not going to come off the table yet. I’m worried, but not that worried. I have a Kraken with Infernal Machine right behind the banes. With a full boat of focus, 5 attacks, I should be able to wreck the Conquest.I would even be able to sweep and catch some Kayazy!


Except, when I moved up, I was too short of being able to sweep. I managed to catch the Conquest in my 4″ reach, but that 2″ sweep would deny me two full attacks on Conquest, instead of just one. I was not going to kill Conquest this turn. . I kill a bunch of Kayazy, including the Underbooss on the sweep, and the three attacks from the Kraken into the Conquest left it with three boxes, but my 10 Bane Knights and a Kraken were just fed it to the center of the Butchers army. I move Tartarus out to my left, swinging at two Doomreavers to turn them into banes to pad my ranks.
except I am, again, 1/4″ short of one of them. Thats gonna bite me in the ass.
I move Gorman forward to drop an acid bomb on Yuri’s head. I only need a 7+ to kill.
And, 4 pips come up on two dice.
Sighs.
Anyway! I activate the last Coven member, pop my feat, and call it a day.
The turn passes over to Butcher, and I am about to GET it. He heals the Conquest a bit from his Mechanics, moves the Butcher up, Casts Full Throttle, and pops feat. He then moves conquest forward. With his cortex crippled he’s only got two attacks, but its enough. Between Fury and Butchers feat, I was going down. Again, my opponents rolls low, and I get away clean: Conquest only breaks the entire left side at 3d6+6. The Juggernaut, however, finishes the job, in addition taking out the arc node. I’d done some poor positioning. The Doomreavers move in again and threaten the Coven from the left, while Yuri Comes at me from the right.
I have one shot at this. After vengeance (which fails to kill Conquest) I toss Ghostwalk on the last remaining arc node, and send it loping off to find the butcher. I’ve got just enough to cause him a little bit of problems. I hope its enough to stop him in his tracks. I shoot a pair of Stygian Abyss‘s at him, and leave him with 12 HP. I move forward the Scarlock and try again. I hit Butcher, and do another 6 damage to him. He’s got 6 left, but its more than enough. My last Bane charges the Conquest and finally takes him down. Its a shallow victory, but I’ll take it.

The end of the game is here, though. Yuri charges into a pair of witches, threshing them both and doing massive damage. The Manhunter who’d been left alive also charges one of the witches who is miraculously alive, and cuts her down to size, leaving me with two. The Kayazy, who have pretty much just run amok through my army, charge the Egregore and kill the last of the Coven.

Killbox is a hellofathing.

At the end of the day, my opponent played a great game, keeping Butcher back and safe, driving Kayazy with Iron Flesh on them into my throat, and encircling me with Doomreavers and Manhunters. While I was rusty at judging distances and placement of models, I don’t think the list I brought would have cut it. I need, in hindsight, more models to cover the advance of the arcnodes and deliver the Kraken. I think, in my haste to play with my new Bane Knights, I didn’t really give enough consideration to the rest of the army.

I think I want to pull out the Banes and Tartarus, and replace with 2 full Mechanithrall units and 2 Necrosurgeons. With the feat and Occultation, I could really get them stuck in there.

What do you think?

On Saturday the 28th, I had a bunch of friends over to play Warmachine/Hordes. This is a semi-regular event that a couple friends and I have had for maybe 5 years now. We rotate between half of us going northward to play at one of those houses, and half of them venturing southward to play at one of the houses down here closer to the city. The group is fairly diverse, and we cover almost every faction among the 5 of us. We try to set up a few tables, get breakfast at a local spot, and then get to gaming. We brought in a 6th this time around, just to make sure we were all up to evens.

My Gator buddy pairs up against one of my Khador friends, The Rhulic and Protectorate player square off, and I sit down across the table from my friend playing Retribution. Its his first time out with his fully painted 50 point force, expanded from the battlebox, and its my fourth full game in three weeks. I normally like to stick with one caster, but after the pounding at Critical Hits I figured I’d Switch it up. I have this spreadsheet I keep about all my fights, and its got a ton of information on it. I figured it was time I took the casters on the bottom and tried to get more games in with them. Who was on the bottom of this list? Witch Coven.

Casters Played
Number of Games%
Epic Haley239.70%
Naaresh198.02%
Xerxis198.02%
Epic Asphyxious187.59%
Epic Skarre166.75%
Barnabus156.33%
Epic Goreshade156.33%
Asphyxious 3125.06%
Scaverous125.06%
Skarre114.64%
Epic Hexeris104.22%
Terminus104.22%
Epic Magnus83.38%
Rasheth72.95%
Mortenebra62.53%
Magnus62.53%
Venethrax52.11%
Hexeris41.69%
Mordikaar41.69%
Asphyxious31.27%
Haley31.27%
Maelok20.84%
Bart10.42%
Epic Deneghra10.42%
Zaal10.42%
Morghul10.42%
Epic Morghul10.42%
Fiona10.42%

So I spun up a Quick list:
The Witch Coven of Garlghast (*5pts)
* Nightwretch (4pts)
* Nightwretch (4pts)
* Kraken (19pts)
* Skarlock Thrall (2pts)
Bane Knights (Leader and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
The Withershadow Combine (5pts)
Bane Lord Tartarus (4pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Necrotech & 1 Scrap Thrall (1pts)
Warwitch Siren (2pts)
Warwitch Siren (2pts)

The concept is simple:
I wanted to use the Kraken, my newly converted Bane Knights, and my brand new Gorman. I also though that making the coven as focus efficient as possible would be a blast. That is about as far as the list construction went, and It was really obvious as the day went on. My opponent, as I had mentioned, decided to take his now fully painted Retribution army for a spin.

Kaelyssa, Night’s Whisper (*7pts)
* Chimera (6pts)
* Banshee (10pts)
* Manticore (8pts)
* Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Dawnguard Sentinels (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard (2pts)
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt (4pts)
Mage Hunter Strikeforce (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Mage Hunter Commander (2pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)

I end up going first, and rolling the whole board forward. The Coven stay back a bit, Infernal Machine went on the Kraken, Granting him MAT 8 and Speed 7, and occultation went on the Bane Knights.
Turned out, He was just going to shell the Kraken with Backlash. He moved his Chimera up, tossed backlash on my Kraken, dropped harm in for good measure with A&H, and went to town with the mage hunters. He took out a decent chunk of the Kraken, enough to total any other Cryx jack, and landed 8 on the Coven through backlash. He rolled a bit on the low side. He popped his feat to protect his army, maneuvered his ‘jacks into position and called it a turn.
I upkeep infernal machine, and drove the Kraken into his guts, hoping to get at least someone to fail the check. Mage hunters, Sentinels, and A&H, however, defy my plan and all pass. The Kraken strikes out, killing Aiyana and a number of magehunters from both his claws and his Killshot. I sent the banes running pell-mell into the sentinels hoping to buy some time with Tartarus as backup in a safe position towards the center of the board. Both my arc nodes flanked out wide to provide threats for the next turn. With stealth on the Mage hunters and Banishing Ward on the Sentinels, I wasn’t getting a lot done that turn. I’d done some damage, but all of the Sentinels were still alive, as was the entire battlegroup and more. I popped my feat to hopefully mitigating some of the damage, and spent 6 focus to heal and prevent a backlash kill, if possible.

The Banshee, which I had failed to have any impact on, walked up to the Kraken and finished it off in three quick hits. Backlash had, thankfully, been left to expire. The mage hunters on the left flank piled in around Gorman and an arcnode, though unable to drop any real damage into them. The sentinels went, and killed the majority of my bane knights. I was confident that I’d reap back rewards with Tartarus. Then, using Kaelyssa, the manticore, and Holt, he cleared a couple more bane Knights to make an unexpected lane for the Mage Hunter Assassin to get a charge on Tartarus.
He causes terror. (rolls 8, passes)
He is Defense 13 (rolls 8, needing 8, passes)
Arm 17 w/ 8 wounds. (rolls 21 damage, needing exactly 21 to kill him)
Down went Tartarus, my only hope of salvaging the game, as a set of Sentinels had run to engage the other arc node when they’d charged the bane knights. He pushed the turn over to me.
Right. This one gets tricky.
Warwitch siren with puppet strings rolled over to spray the 5 mage hunters engaging Gorman and the Arc node. Managed to hit and kill all, without re-rolls. Amazing. That frees the arc node to then run (he had a broken cortex from the mage hunters, which we both forgot about. I would have had the Necrotech go fix him, but still) down the side of the army, with Ghost walk, in range of a Stygian Abyss to Kaelyssa. My friend reminded me of witch hound, but what am I to do at this point? I’m all in. His Banshee is in walking range, and Kaelyssa will just walk out of range if I spell her and don’t crit. So, I send in the banes to try and break the Banshee and fail, though I leave him with three wounds and its just as good. its good enough at this point. I activate my third coven member, and tossed Stygian abyss. boosted 9’s needed a 7 to hit, and prayed for a crit. The hit shows up, but the crit does not. I roll and do some damage, leaving her with 7. She moves up to engage me, negating my arcnode.
With little left but maneuvering and placing a Veil of Mists in to block charges from the Sentinels, I pass turn.
He Continued to take apart my army, killing one arcnode. He leaves the other with only movement and arcnode, and we remember the cortex this time. Everything but the Coven, one arcnode, and two of three Withershadow. Butt its all I got. Veil of mists, Ghost walk, boosted Stygian Abyss with a puppet strings into Kaelyssa. I need an 11 to hit her, but with the boost, I’m not afraid. Hit, but no crit. I need to roll a 9 at dice -2 for damage, to make her dead. Boost damage, and toss dice.
8.
4/3/1
A groan and a sigh of relief at the same time arose.
But! Puppet strings, I cried!
I will reroll the one, I declare!
I toss the die into the air, it lands with a clatter on the tabletop.
There is only one result that it ever could have been.

He starts his turn, and charges/walks his sentinels into combat with the poor Egregore.
5 weaponmasters.
And three fail, one at a time. The other two wail on the Egregore, but the damage is only enough to leave each witch with a HP or two left over. The rest of his army kills everything else I have. Now, at the end of their days, the coven is left to fight the Dawnguard Sentinels with only their knives.
And they are terrible at it.

It was a great game. Dice spiked and floored all over the place. There was more than enough craziness on both sides to make both opponents really enjoy themselves. In Hindsight, Kaelyssa might not be the best match up for the Coven, with Witch Hound, Banishing Ward, and Arcane Reckoning all in her arsenal. I’d try it again with a different list, same caster, I think. I’ll have to mull on it.

Read my second Battle Report Tomorrow!

Saturday before last I took a trip to the local store and played in a little three round tournament. I am the normal PG for the store, but as I’d recently had a baby, I hadn’t had a lot of time to play Warmachine, so I was determined to play.

It had been a while since I’d played, and I thought that the I’d built some decent lists. I was going in without Epic Asphyxious because I was sure people would be teching against him, and I thought my chances without him were greater than with him.

I brought the Following lists:

Faction: Cryx Faction: Cryx
Tier 3Tier 0
Goreshade the Cursed +5Pirate Queen Skarre +6
* Kraken19Leviathan9
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) 8Skarlock Thrall 2
* Bane Thrall Officer & Standard0Bane Knights (Leader and 9 Grunts) 10
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)8Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)8
* Bane Thrall Officer & Standard3* Bane Thrall Officer & Standard 3
The Withershadow Combine 5Blackbane's Ghost Raiders (Leader and 9 Grunts) 9
Bane Lord Tartarus4Necrosurgeon & 3 Stitch Thralls 2
Necrotech & 1 Scrap Thrall1Satyxis Raiders (Leader and 5 Grunts) 5
Necrotech & 1 Scrap Thrall1* Satyxis Raider Sea Witch2
Pistol Wraith 3Pistol Wraith3
3 Scrap Thrall1Pistol Wraith3
3 Scrap Thrall1
3 Scrap Thrall1

I’d been 11-1 with Epic Goreshade, and Skarre was bringing along Incorporeal to make peoples lives miserable.  The goal was to jam scenarios and flood the field with bodies, making making every choice of the opponent a painful one. Goreshade brought the Kraken for extra phantom hunter goodness, and I was ready to rock and roll.

The field was a tough crowd. There was only 9 of us, but we were all good. Locals Chris, Anthony and Phil had all won tournaments both locally and at nearby conventions. I’d tangled with Jason, Andy and Ryan both before and neither of them were pushovers. I knew that Curtis was a newcomer to the Area, but he’d been playing since the days of yore. The only person that I’d not played against or knew was a fellow I just referred to as Beard.

The Field was thus:
Phil and Me: Cryx
Anthony: Cygnar
Ryan: Mercs
Chris: Protectorate of Menoth
Andy, Curtis, Jason and Beard: Khador.

I knew it was going to be a long day. I’d been fighting Khador a long time, and its not my favorite fight.

I get paired up against Khador in the first round (surprise!) and Its Beard! Turns out his name is Paul. This is cool to me because I like playing against different people, as they tend to have different theories and ways of playing the game. I was stoked, and he had only one list. I figured I’d take Epic Goreshade on his first tour, as I was familiar and confident. Sadly, I’d just picked poorly, as he was playing Vlad. This allowed him to wind wall away my only shooting threat and make me one dimensional, as I’d forgotten to pack an arc node into the list. He also got to choose sides, and due to table setup one of these was in the way of the center of my deployment zone:

Gale Force 9 Badlands Plateau

It was massive, and blocked my everything, but, I felt it was part of the deal with playing the game, so I worked around it. I ended up loosing in part because of it, in part because I forgot how the game worked, and in part because I hate Khador. I did have him kill some 40 Bane thralls, but at the end of the day, the Greylord Outriders he had were more than up for the task. both the Kraken and Goreshade ended up not committing until very late, and that caused me to not gain points nearly fast enough. we were scoring at the same rate until he was able to stop me from scoring on his turn, and he won the game, fare and square.

I entered the losers bracket, and was ok with that. I was fighting for second with about 3 other people. I had take out 47 Army points, and scored 5 control points in the last game so my tiebreakers were awesome.

Instead, Jason crushed my soul at the top of turn 2. I got one turn in and BAM, Sorcha’d.

See, Sorcha ran turn 1 into a defensive position, and I had moved Scarre prematurely up 7 inches from her deployment zone. Turns out, one wind rush + charge + feat later, Skarre was Frozen in place. Eiryss followed, doing what she does, and stripped my 5 FOC camp, and did a damage or two. Winterguard Rocketeers then slid up, bobbing and weaving, and did their job, lobbing rocket into a frozen Skarre until she was little more than quivering flesh chunks. It was significantly disappointing, as I’d not only gotten rolled, I didn’t kill a single model on his side.

I started doing the math about who was playing who, and I realize that unless Curtis loses his match, I was going to get the bye with the worst record in the tournament. So guess what happens? Curtis Wins. I get the bye, and Don’t even end up with the worst record and get my tournament fee back so I can play a later tournament (a bye counts as a win! Yay!)

At the end of the day, I enjoyed getting out and seeing some good friends. I didn’t put up a good show, but I expected that. I have to knock the rust off of 6+ months of not playing competitive Warmachine. Fortunatly, I had friends coming over on the 28th.

Sadly, as you’ll soon read, that didn’t end well for me either!