Battle Report: Stryker II v. Thexus

This weeks Battle report is brought to you by No Pictures. Because I completely forgot, so bear with me. It is also really long, but that’s because the game was long.

As I do most Thursday evenings, I took a trip to a friends house and got a game of Warmachine in. A few of us have recently decided to turn the dial up a bit, and I got to run against a pretty nasty Stryker II force.

Stryker II+5
*Ol' Rowdy9
*Lancer
6
*Squire2
Storm Tower2
Journeyman Warcaster3
Stormcaller1
Archduke Alain Runewood3
*Cyclone9
Horgenhold Forgeguard (10)8
*Jonas Murdoch2
Storm Lances (5)11
56

I brought my typical Thexus List

Exulon Thexus+5
*Wrecker7
*Wrecker7
*Warden6
Mind Slaver and Drudges (10)6
Mind Bender and Drudges (10)6
Cephaly Overlords4
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Tactical Arcanist Corps4
*Cephalyx Dominator1
Pistol Wraith3
Pistol Wraith3
Machine Wraith1
Machine Wraith1
55

I was concerned because he had the Storm Lances in the list, and they can kill around 5 infantry models a model a turn, given perfect circumstances, and I just wasn’t ready to have that happen to me. Ol’ Rowdy’s Guard Dog ability made me worry about hitting Stryker with my Wreckers, as Def 18 is no slouch. The Stormtower will always give me fits, as anything that chains damage into my Cephalyx models causes me no end of fits. Stryker himself is also a problem as he has 17″ of threat, but I have a 16″ control area to make sure I keep him at arms length. The final problem comes from the Cyclone, a model that tends to give me no end of grief, as its 7″ of area denial is pretty massive.

The table is set up with a building on the far left center-line,  a rocky forest on the far right center-line, walls to the center-left of each players board, with a hill on my center right inches from my deployment zone, and a forest dead center and about an inch out of his. We rolled up Two Fronts as our scenario, and I won the dice off, choosing first turn.

I really think that first turn is crucial to the Cephalyx Army, and I will give up slightly advantageous board position to get it. All of the models that will need to do work have trouble with Terrain and have been given a gentleman’s speed 5. To me, this means that I need to get out and into the board as quickly as possible in order to even threaten scenario. Seeing as Thexus is a pretty miserable scenario caster (more on that later) First turn, to me, is a huge boon.

He keeps the side he is sitting at, and we get moving.

Deployment:
Cephalyx
I go for the strong center, because its my default setup. I’ve become pretty solid at deploying my forces to take and hold the center while scaring off any jack-based flanking forces. Thexus to the center, with the Mind bender to my left, and the mind slaver to the right. I then interweave the drudges from both units in ranks two deep, alternating units. The fourth spot in each front line is dedicated to Agitators. At the edge of each line, terrain permitting, is a Wrecker, and beyond that I have the Pistol and Machine Wraiths. This deployment is mirrored, so both sides have the same threats. In the center behind Thexus is the Warden and another Agitator. The overlords take up positions behind Thexus and one in the center, behind each wing.

Cygnar
He goes for a strong central presences, as both the scenario zones are between pieces of terrain that make the zones hard to flank. Stryker, Ol’ Rowdy, Squire, Runewood, Journeyman and the Cyclone are in the center. To each flank is a full unit, with the Cavalry taking the left, and Jonas and his Horgenhold the right with the lone Stormsmith.

 

Advanced Deployment
With no AD for the Swans, Thexus tossed the Dominator and the TAC in the center, as was his desire. A first turn run, followed by smoke on the second turn tend to be my opening moves.

This guy was comin' for me!

This guy was comin’ for me!

Turn 1
The first turn is simple, with each of us running forward and jockeying for position on the scenario zones. Both my Wreckers angle center-ward, as his big models seemed clustered there, with my agitators following behind. The Drudges ran forward to screen the monstrosities from the worst of it. I tried to keep my Cephalyx from being to close to anything, but its extremely hard with 30+ models. Both Wraith pairs flanked wide.His entire army rolled forward, and the Cav were going to get into the game soon, what with running 16″. Strykery was a bit cautious and ended his turn behind a wall, but the rest of the moved inwards, looking to create a place where Stryker would be safe and still threaten Thexus due to velocity.

Turn 2. 
Cephalyx
I got into the tank, and I am not ashamed of it. Stryker’s feat is coming next turn, and I am going to have to eat it on the chin. Figuring out who get smashed is a big conundrum, and it takes me a few to sort it out in my head. Eventually, I settle into an acceptance, and start to move forward. The first to move are the TAC. There was once a time I thought that using them to protect the shooting elements of my army would be valuable, after a few games of trying to figure it out in my head, its just  not. I do, however, gladly pay their price for a single turn of clouds followed by bonus whatever happens next. The TAC drop clouds and brace for impact. I know that they are going to be charged by the Storm Lances, and that its going to hurt, a lot. I want to make sure I feed as few enemy models to the initial charge as I can, while also trying to deny him a deep-push feat. I can’t give him the 6″ between my troops that I would like for them to play safe, but I also can’t just hand him a complete target selection. I decide to layer my Mind Slaver drudges to eat as many of the electroleaps, feat attacks and other ancillary garbage as I can, leaving many of my models a touch farther behind. The Wrecker on my left, sensing no threats, touches into the zone with the Machine Wraith and the Pistol wraith, wary of Jr and Runewoods threat range. The Mind Bender drudges move up and take central positions with Agitators and overlords, with the second Pistol Wraith taking shots at the lancer, missing his first and failing to death chill. The machine wraith worked his way around to try and threaten the Lancer next turn from advancing for fear of being possessed. The wrecker, fearing a charge from anything in the world and needing to clean up if necessary, shuffled just a few inches and maintained presence threat on the zone. With my feat and TK, I could threaten to the other end of the zone and more.

Cygnar
My opponent when into the tank for a few minutes, but came out quicker than I did, and started moving on his plan. The Lancer, unhindered by last turns flub on the part of the Pistol Wraith. The Forgeguard, with Runewoods aid, charged the Pistol Wraith as well as a set of drudges, clearing them all from the board. The Storm Lances went in next, blowing up all three of the TAC as well as a number of Drudges behind them. The Cyclone moved up and dropped covering fire near the Lances to protect them from the infantry to my right.The Storm Tower was out of range, and the Stormsmith didn’t roll enough damage to kill. Ol’ Rowdy positioned himself slightly off center of the battle lines. Strkyer moved forward and dropped Rebuke on the Mind Benders through the Lancer. I thought it was much more devastating than it was, as both the Concussion Pulse and the Adrenal Flood are * actions, not * attacks. He then popped his feat. Once everything was finished, he started on his feat actions. He moved a pair of the Storm Lances forward, killing more drudges with both the melee attacks and the Electroleaps. Some Forgeguard moved forward to attack hapless drudges while the rest maneuvered into position for the next turn.

Thexus!

Thexus!

Turn 3
Cephalyx
I had taken it on the chin, and I’d lost a bit more of the drudges than I wanted, but I felt I was doing ok. It was feat time, and I was rearing to go. After a minute of thought, I dropped three focus on to the leftmost wrecker and kept the rest for myself. Thexus lead the charge himself, moving to get the most models into his control area while also maintaining no closer than 15″ from Stryker. I then activated my feat, and started going to town. He’d moved the Storm Smith in my way the last turn, and I moved him backwards, enabling me to move the Lancer to the left towards my Machine Wraith, now positively within 8″. I drug the majority of the forgeguard forward and out of defensive line, making them easier to kill, and the Storm Lances were clumped together, one of them even taking damage from a covering fire template I moved him through. Everyone else just moved around to make it a bit more difficult for my opponent next turn. My feat finished, I TK‘d myself outside of Strykers threat range, and TK‘d the left Wrecker within charge range of the closest Storm Lance. I activated the left most Agitator to give the mind bender drudges the Incite buff, and then those very same drudges went to town, leaving not a single frontline Forgeguard alive and using a single Adrenal Flood on the final Mind Slaver Drudge. There was going to be retaliation from the 5 in the rear, but I could deal with that. The Adrenal Flooded Drudge moved in for an attack, dealing 4 to the unfortunate Cavalry model. The Wrecker, all cleared and ready to go, charged in for free due to aggressive reaction. I made my first attack roll and cringed, I’d forgotten to activate the Agitator first. Sticking with it, I kept going. Thankfully, attack after attack hit and killed, leaving only a single, undamaged Storm Lance left. Needing 7’s to hit and 8’s to kill, it was a lucky streak. With most of his front line dead, I moved my support pieces into place so that I could continue pressuring him next turn, with the pistol wraith aggressively moving into the backfield, and the Machine Wraith gunning for Runewoods cyclone on the left flank, and taking over the Lancer on the right. The right flank wrecker and subduer moved forward into more threatening and active positions.

Cygnar
The turn started off pulling one from the Squire and keeping the 7 for himself. Stryker was going to need to get his hands dirty. With the left flank wrecker within easy charge range of Stryker, and already damaged from channeling TK, it wasn’t going to be easy, but it needed to be done. Stryker overcharged for a single die, gaining +4 STR, while also taking 2 damage: a fantastic exchange. He then charged the Wrecker. Needing 3’s to hit and doing straight dice damage, the Wrecker was in the dirt after 5 attacks, leaving 3 focus on Stryker. Ol’ Rowdy ran over to Stryker to give him +2 DEF to melee attacks, and the Cyclone moved in to cover Stryker as well, moving down the last Mind Bender Drudge. Taking that mat 11 pow 19 attack off the board was vital for Stryker’s survival. Jr moved over and cast Arcane Shield on the Forgeguard, who then charged forward, eliminating the entire line of Mind Bender Drudges that had killed their compatriots the turn before, as well as slamming an Overlord, though the attack failed to kill him. The final Storm lance, now free, charges into an overlord, the Mind Slaver Leader and a Mind Bender Drudge, leaving only the drudge alive.  Runewood move forward, and the Storm tower fired into the drudges,killing another pair. The Stormsmith summoned lighting to blow away an Agitator, while the rest of the army consolidated.

This Models Kill Count: Butcher 3, Reznik 2.

This Models Kill Count: Butcher 3, Reznik 2.

Turn 4
Cephalyx
I could smell blood, but it wasn’t going to be easy. Along my path to victory were 4 Forgeguard, and I had to to still kill Stryker at the end of it all, no easy task at def 18 arm 19. I allocated 1 to the Subduer, 3 to the Wrecker, and kept 4 for Thexus. I started the turn running the Subduer, wary that I only had 2″ of play between counter charge from Ol’ Rowdy and the range of TK, to within TK range of Stryker, ending up .5″ out of counter charge range.I use the Lancer to go tie up the Storm Tower, hoping to hit but failing.  I then activate Thexus and go to TK Stryker, picking up my 2″ mover before I am reminded that I need to hit. I am at a crossroads here. If I boost to hit, I cannot TK my Wrecker, who I think needs the distance to get the charge off. If I can hit unboosted, I get the charge on Stryker, and I can probably win. Without it, its a lot harder, but Stryker will definitely be TK‘d. I boost, hit and TK him, backwards, in front of the Wrecker, while also making the mistake to keep him in base with Ol’ Rowdy. Sitting on my final focus, I also forget to move backwards, keeping me about 15″ from Stryker. I move the Machine Wraith up and take over the Cyclone, and I use the Pistol Wraith to kill Jr, and then use his soul to kill Runewood, Stripping of Arcane Shield from the Forgeguard. In order to clear the lane, I grab my overlords and start spraying down the line of Forgeguard, and manage to take all but one out on the first spray, needing 8’s to kill. The second overlord, who’d wanted to spray off the squire, has to turn his attention to the remaining dwarf, and melts his brain, killing him and clearing the path for the Wrecker. I move an Agitator up, trying to keep myself out of a counter charge lane, and start instigating. The Wrecker takes up his chains, and prepares to finish off the enemy ‘Caster, but judging the distance turns out to be finicky, and I don’t think its 10″ between the two models. Instead, I charge the Squire, for free again thanks to Aggressive Reaction. With a MAT of 7, I need 7’s to kill it and move on to Stryker, who was just out of 10″. I miss. My second bought attack hits, killing it, and I move up, engaging Stryker and Ol’ Rowdy. My first attack connects, after a boosted to hit, and I beat him out of base with Rowdy, lowering his defense to 14 and also doing 4 damage. The final attack also connects and the dice come up 6, leaving Stryker on 5. As a final last ditch effort, my final Agitator sprays Stryker, but leaves him alive.

This guy was almost the death of me!

This guy was almost the death of me!

Cygnar
Now, the blood is in my opponents nose. He activates Rowdy, moves forward and uses Tremor to free up Stryker from the Wrecker, who is now knocked down. Only a single model stands between Stryker and Thexus now, and Murdoch is happy to oblige his officer by shooting the Cephalyx in the face, killing it. Stryker then uses 3 points on a velocity to get the charge angle and charges Thexus. He has three focus, four attacks, and is doing straight dice damage. I have resigned myself to my fate, as the floating atrophied body can’t take a whole lot of punishment and has no real way to protect itself. 14/14 with 15 wounds just isn’t the way I need to be. Strykers charge attack misses. Undaunted, he swings again, connecting for 7, and again, connecting for 5, leaving Thexus with three. The final swing comes down, and misses, leaving Stryker out of focus in front of Thexus, but Thexus only has three HP. The last Storm Lance eats a free strike on his way to try and finish Thexus off, but the Mind Bender Drudges free strike manages to kill the Cavalry model by 1 extra point, saving Thexus from certain death.

Turn 5
Cephalyx
I am staring down a madman with a sword, and my worthless atrophied ass can’t do a damned thing about it. Stryker is Def 16, ARM 16 innately, and I have MAT 5 POW 9 weapons. Even with 8 focus, its just not realistic to expect 5 damage. After my first attack, it would take 3 focus to do 4 damage, with a huge possibility of failure. I mull it over for a few seconds before my buddy mentions Hex Blast as I reach for Warroom. Its an AOE, so I have to move back, but its a POW 13 with MA 8, a sight higher chance of killing. I mull over the choices and decide that I’ll just flat out boost it all around, and it works. Stryker, after a long, awesome game, is in the dirt, and Thexus gets to float away, barely, to live another day.