I did much, much more than I thought I did at Lock and Load.

I figured one post and it would be done. The truth was completely different. While I made it through Day -1, 0, 1 and into day 2, I still had a ton more games to play yet.

So, After the first 11 games , I took a brief nap (some 5 hours) and got back in line for the spelldraft tournament. It was going to be the last one of MKII, and likely the last one I would ever play in. Who did I bring? Of course, Deneghra 3, Who doesn’t want to spam 3 cost nukes all day?

This was my spell list:

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It is done!

Lock and Load 2016 has come and gone. I met up with some great people, played some awesome games, and saw people I only get to see a few times a year. True to advertisement, the 3rd edition of Warmachine has released, and with it a flurry of new activity surrounding the meta, the factions, the lists and the rules. But before I get into what happened after the release of 3e and going forward, and I want to look back on what I did while I was out there and how much fun I had.

And I came home with all this!

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Now, I am finally back and into the swing of things again, writing about warmachine on Tuesdays and Miscellaneous topics on Thursdays. This weeks Thursday post is going to be particularly packed, with the bevy of information coming out of E3 this week about a pile of my favorite video games.

Lock and Load

I had such an amazing time at Lock and Load! Every day of the convention was a blast, and I was able to meet up with old friends and get games in with people across the country and around the world. I was also lucky enough to hang out with a number of people that I only get to see at LnL, and it was a blast to catch up with all of them.

Thursday

The PG invitational was Thursday, and true to form, I broke out Rasheth with his Titans. However, I was pretty foolhardy and put him through the ringer: I jumped into a pod of Spelldrafters. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to play the game at 35 points, and I just wan’t prepared for the task.

My 35 point list that I played throughout the Con is as Follows.

Rasheth
-Cannoneer
-Bronzeback
-Bronzeback
-Gladiator
-Paingivers (x6)
-Agonizer
-Farrow Bone Grinders (x4)

This list ended up needing a ton of help in spelldraft, and I just didn’t get it. With animus and spells all going away, I had slow, pathfinderless Titans that were just as quick as Rasheth himself. Unable to lead from the rear, he was instead on the front lines. From there, he was quickly ejected by Abby 2, Severious 1 and Haley 2.

Abby 2 was a simple game of Shrednado, where he launched extremely long threat range Shredder at the Dominar to devour him on the top of turn 2.

Stupid 17″ Threat Shredders!

Severious 1 was a rough game of back and forth with me trying to get a bead on Blessing of Vengeance, and him raining Arcane bolts into Rasheths plentiful head until he dropped of exhaustion

See that forest on the Left. Blessing of Vengeance did…

Haley 2 is a game I really, really enjoyed. While the other two were extremely fun as well, this one gave me a taste of what it is going to be to have to face Haley 3, as I was constantly having to try and get rid of Storm Lances that were being revived. Though Both Bronzebacks survived rounds against the Stormwall, it just wasn’t enough and I ate three charged to the face from Stormlances, and called it a day.

I ended up playing one 50 pointer that day, against Judge Prime, Boots himself. He’d warned me the night before that he had a ton of fun killing Hordes ‘Casters with Thrown Grievous Wounds attacks from Madrak 2. As it turns out, there is no difference with the weapon that Madrak 1 has, and I should have seen it coming. A single Grievous Wounds  toss followed by Crusher, and Mulg was able to drop the Rasheth in a single swing.

For those keeping score, that is 0 wins over the course of the day. Its been a long, long time since that happened.

Friday

I pulled an idiot stunt and somehow managed to sign up to Judge both Masters events Friday, running from 10:00am to 12:00am. It was a brutal slog, though fun, that was extremely exhausting. Me being me, however, I compounded stupid on stupid and decided that yes, I wanted to do the Team Tournament right after the second masters ended. Another 35 point series of games that I really wasn’t prepared to play in, that I teamed up with some random people and decided to give it a go.

I did better in this one than I did in spelldraft, which is good, leading me to believe it was less that 35 points sucks, and more that Rasheth needs his whole toolkit to be good.

I played four games, and the tournament took just over 7 hours. I stuck it out to the bitter end and played Rasheth in all but the one game required of me, Taking games from Goreshade 3, Makeda 2 and Vyros 2, while loosing a giant uphill slog against Asphyxious 3.

I started out against Gorshade 3, who I initially thought was a terrible draw for me. However, my opponent hadn’t ever played him before, so I had the upper hand in what I assumed he would do. The game ended with a Bronzeback surviving a fully loaded Desecrator and 5 attacks from a charging Goreshade. Shaking off the Stationary and healing two points later, I was able to put the Eldritch in the dirt, again, with boxcars.

Goreshade 3 Just couldn’t get it done.

 

My next match was against Cryx, again, and I should have known better. When Asphyxious 3 is in the lineup, don’t go beast heavy. Sadly, I didn’t even think about it, being late as it was, and dropped into one of the worst matchups possible. With almost no feat and little to protect Rasheth from a post-feat Asphyxious, I was unable to stem the tide against an incursion win.

 

Next, I took on Alex Smith, an opponent and all around good man I had played against two years earlier in the Masters. Last time we both had Cryx on the board, this time we both had Skorne. And, much like last time, it was a damned slog. Makeda 2 with Karn isn’t the most comforting thing to see across the table. I tossed down Fist because I thought I could out-grind it, and I was mostly correct. Karn whittled the army down while staying safe and all I could do was push forward. In the end, it wasn’t enough, and with one box left after rolling damage, Karn forced for an extra damage die and took me out…. But! I’d forgotten about the feat! I had 7 hp, not 1! Neither of us had moved models, so we just continued playing, with Alex leading off. He rolled another attack with Karn, instead of boosting, and missed, leaving me with just enough. Somehow, I was able to claw my way back to victory, and beat Makeda to death after dealing with Karn and surviving another assassination run by Makeda herself.

My final Game was against a gentleman playing Vyros 2, who, thanks to two local guys, I am very familiar with. I picked up Rasheth again and was able to put Vyros in awkward positions with Bronzebacks counter-charging feat-move Griffons and other nasty shenanigans. I was able to make some cool moves in one zone to try and clear it with a trample, Slam and Throw, but the Titan Cannoneer missed the boosted slam into Imperatus and called it a day.  In the end, however, I was able to maneuver a Bronzeback into Vyros, because he had to commit to a zone, and punching him down to size.

We didn’t come in last place, and played to the bitter end, so I take that a win. Our team name, Friends, was completely unoriginal, but we were too tired to actually get anything useful. However, our first opponent was “Off Constantly” so I had to report to the judges that “Friends Beat Off Constantly.”

Saturday

After a quick nap from 7:00 – 12:00 I was back up and at it! I was determined to play more 50 pointers, and I got off to a good start. I was discussing the desire to play 50 point games with another PG, and the guy behind me stopped and asked if I wanted to get a game in.

Of course I did! So, we picked a table and threw down! He brought out Ossrum, Earthbreaker and Company, playing a Searforge list, and I dropped… 6 titans. This game was something I thought I would be able to do a good job in, but I somehow forgot that an earthbreaker and just a little support can bring down a bronzeback in a single go. After running two bronzebacks pel-mel at the damned thing, he straight up removed one from the board on the top of turn 2. Seeing what folly it would be if I were to maintain the course, I switched over to scenario and ran my Bronzeback fully across the board to join my army again.

Formation AFTER running stupidly at the Earthbreaker

I was able to slow-grind him out, feeding the Earthbreaker his choice of Titans each turn, but otherwise keeping him occupied. I managed to get a Bronzeback into his Forgeguard, blowing most of them away, and a nicely placed BoC popped about 6 Highshields. Between the two, I was able to turn the game in my favor and forced a Bronzeback onto Ossrum for the MAT 9 Carnivore Kill. Victory #1 of the day!

after the first game, there was someone camping one of the scenario tables, the one from NQ 60 with the water tower and the Cactus Patches. He had a sign up for a game, and I dropped down to play him.

This guy was pumped to play this game!

The Scenario was a defenders-game, and he was on the attackers side. Rasheth and his 6 Titans has to hold the line. If, by the end of the 7th turn he had not assassinated me or made me flee from the Water Tower, I won. I had to survive 7 rounds against whatever he had hidden in his bag. Axis, Tier 4. The waves of Recursion against the wall of Titanflesh! It was an epic battle, with waves of infantry crashing into my lines, killing titans while I retaliated with as much death as possible. I did, however, make judicious attacks whenever possible, fueling only what foundries I was forced to and not making extra attacks just because I could. It was a knifes edge to tread, but I did it well enough and long enough to make the end 7 rounds with only Rasheth and a Bronzeback left when the Skorne Reinforcements showed up and secured my victory!

After those two games and some dinner, I played the final game of the night against a pair of friends from out here in Baltimore that have moved to Seattle. We played a 35 point Team Mosh pit and it was completely insane. His TEP Put a hurting on Her Circle, and I put a hurt on his Convergence. My Titans got beat up by the circle. In the end, being around 3:00am, she finished him off, and I was able to take her out of the zone and win the game. 3-0 for the day wasn’t to shabby!

Sunday

So, Sunday was a lazy day of me getting games in and then heading out to an awesome local PG’s house to crash and head home Monday, the first of which was against a fellow who was trying out Goreshade 3. He plopped down a very dangerous list, with the Kraken, Soulhunters and Blackbanes leading the charge for Goreshade 3. Sadly, at the top of turn 2 in a killbox game, he had to go for it, as he realized that he was never going to be able to push through all of the titans and get to Rasheth safely.

This was the board state when I knew something went wrong.

 

Instead he put it all on the line, and with Goreshade simply inches from a pile of frozen titans, piled it all into Rasheth. He survived the volley of Siphon Bolts only to be dropped in short order by the Krakens Main Gun, the last possible weapon in the army that could fire, with the smaller gun on the Colossal about an inch out. First loss of the day.

 

My second Loss of this tragic day was handed to my by the new Ret Caster, Thyron. With Hyperion and Imperatus, I just had to much beef to chew through, but on his terms. He was faster, more aggressive and had the upper hand with reach weapon masters. I wasn’t able to, after a number of tries with a number of Titans, to take down either Hyperion OR Imperatus, and it was just the end of the game once he got Hyperion to Rasheth.

This is right before I lost three titans: Bronzeback, Sentry and Gladiator

 

The final game of the day, of the weekend, and of the con, for me, was by far my favorite. I had the privilege and honor to have my ass kicked by Michael Plummer using the brand spanking new Haley 3, on the Livestream for all to see. It was Glorious!  However, instead of regaling you with the tales, I can let you go watch yourself. It was a close and fantastic game, and I loved being able to end the convention and the day on such a high note!

I love Lock and Load, and I cannot wait to go back again!

 

 

 

 

 

On the Horizon

Every year, I head out to Lock and Load, where I hope to hang out with some of the staff and Warmachine personalities from around the globe. I’ve been every year except the first, and I intend on going as many years as is possible.

Seeing as I have a long term plan to go again and again, I have a goal of splitting my years evenly between Iron Arena and Tournaments. The first year was an Iron Arena year, where I brought my White and Orange Cygnar with me to try and meet some new people. The year after I tried a masters tournament and got kinda stomped. That meant I only had Lich 2, Terminus and Skarre 1 with me, so it wasn’t the best year to make friends. I did get a ton of games in, though, with the staff, which was awesome, and I got to play in the very first demo game of Level 7 [Escape]! Last year was a little insane, with my eardrum rupturing on the way out to Seattle kinda putting a damper on any and everything I did. I did get to see some of my favorite Seattalites, however, and That more than made up for it. I played in a single tournament, the inaugural Spelldraft, which was 6 rounds and took for freakin’ ever to finish. So, even though this year is supposed to be a tournament year, I lost last year to ear infections, blown eardrums and spelldraft. This year, I am going to be deep in Iron Arena the whole time. Well, Maybe not. I have to do one thing.

Flights out and Getting there. 

often, people tell me that its too expensive to fly out, and I get that, but I take as much as possible off the shelf in that regard as possible. I signed up for a Southwest credit card, and I use that for everything, and I mean everything. Each dollar I spend gets me a point, and its about 20,000 points to fly out. With the 6000 anniversary points, I don’t really have to spend a ton of money on the card – just my standard bills, gas, food. It all goes on the card, filling up my points total. At the end of the cycle, when it comes time to buy my Airfare (February, I’ll have racked up a huge total of points. There may be some deficits, but I’ll pay the 100 or so bucks to make up the difference: Paying 100 bucks for round trip tickets ain’t nothin’

I also make sure to get direct flights. They aren’t notably more expensive, but they are a hell of a lot swifter. Taking a 5 hour tris and ratcheting it up to 10 or more is just absurd. Layovers, strange flight patters and other flight weirdness makes me reticent to actually try any of it, though it might be fun to meet a friend at a local airport, sometime.

Because I’m a volunteer for the company, I get to add an extra day to the convention, with the PP invitational on Thursday. This means I want to arrive pretty early Wednesday and actually get settled in. This has, historically, been the hardest day to get a room on. My roomies, a bunch of awesome Canadians from BC, who I now plan on meeting up with every year that is possible, don’t get in until Thursday morning. But, They didn’t mind my random coming and goings, and gave me a place to sleep while also being exceedingly nice. What more can be asked of a host!

Its easy enough to bunk with them for the four days, and then try and find a room on Sunday Night. It seems that many of the participants leave Sunday night. I, however, cannot find a good flight out on Sunday after the awards ceremony and dinner but before my eyes bleed from being awake 20 hours a day. I take the day and sleep late, get on a plane, and roll out to be home by the end of the day. I’ve historically gone to work on Tuesday, but we’ll see how that works out in future years.

The Gameplan

Getting in on Wednesday gives me a little breathing room, and I’ll be up bright and early on Thursday. Do to me being a PG, Thursday I’ll play some games with some awesome PGs, Staff, and other volunteers at the PP Invitational. and then probably roll over to the Mox Boarding House for even more fun and games, including the first ever Mox Invitational, at least as a spectator.

Friday I’ve got planned a tournament, but for once I’ll not be playing in it. I am going to be adjudicating the morning Master Tournament which should be a ton of fun. Honestly, I’m nervous as shit. I know that there will be people who play this game competitively and seriously there, and I’m worried that, in my nervousness, I’ll make the wrong call. I know its dumb and will go away once I am there, but its one of those things that just sits in my gut. fortunately I’ll have someone I know with me adjudicating as well and that should cut down on the nerves. Afterward, I’ll be going to grab a dinner and then Heading back into the hall for the Team Tournament. Sadly, were on the waitlist, but the plan is to either play in it, or play a few games and call it a night. I’ll get about 4-5 hours of sleep, grab a shower and then hit the arena with Zeal.

To that end, I’ll be bringing with me, as I’ve mentioned, the Tier 2 Rasheth Chain Gang. This list has so many permutations and concepts that I really think playing it over and over again will be a ton of fun all weekend. With a fully painted T2 list, I should be making some awesome points to try and snag some sweet swag, whatever happens to be there.

Saturday night is a bit in flux. if I wasn’t able to play in the Team tournament, I want to play in Token Aggression. If I played in it, I want to make sure I get out and get some good food and sample a local place or two, then get a game or two in before crashing out.

Sunday has the same plan as Saturday, grinding out points and getting some cool goodies before the hall closes and calling it quits for the weekend.

If you plan on being at Lock and Load, let me know, and we’ll get some sort of game in! I’d love to meet some fellow gamers, get some games in, and maybe have a few beers while we are at it!

I’m really looking forward to Seattle and Lock and Load this year. Here is hoping that I don’t have to wear the Hoodie I’ll pack.

Like I have had to every other year.

In June!

 

See you at There!

During Lock and Load Whitemoon Dreams had a number of computers set up for people to demo up the versus mode of Warmachine: Tactics. The tables were packed until about 8 pm every night, but I was lucky enough to play the game twice, but I also got to spend a ton of time talking to Jay Koottarappallil, the CEO of the Whitemoon Dreams. He was a fantastic guy, taking feedback and suggestions all weekend, jotting them down and paying attention to what people said. It was really and amazing sight to see the top end of the company interacting with the exact target demographic like that. I work for a 20,000 employee global corporation, and I’ve never heard of the CEO talking to the professionals who use our products.

I enjoyed both experiences with the game,, but I know I am a least common denominator type of player. I like things to act reasonably well, I like the game to flow logically, and I don’t ask it to be 100% perfect. Tactics hit all those spots dead on. The effects have some small concerns, but Jay was already aware of them and is working on getting them cleaned up by launch.

Warmachine Tactic

The Demo is Cygnar v. Khador, and its a pretty fair fight. Khador is Lead by Sorcha with a Juggernaut and a Destroyer along with some 6 or so Winter Guard Infantry. Cygnar is lead by Stryker with a Lancer, Charger and Ironclad, along with an amount of Trenchers equal to the Winterguard. Deployment was minimal, but thats slated to be tweaked as well. Each turn starts with a Control Phase, fairly similar to Warmachine. You can allocate up to 3 focus to each ‘Jack, Upkeep Spells, and Shake Effects on Jacks and Casters. Your activation phase is just like you would expect if your familiar with the table top, with each model completing its action before moving onto the next. There is a small difference, though, in definition of a model. Each Winter Guard or Trencher is activated individually, and it not connected to any of the others. More importantly, spells (like Stryker’s Arcane Shield) do not flow over to all the models. I actually really like this. Especially in a video game like Tactics, putting the focus onto Warjacks will be paramount, and this one change will really make a difference. The return on investment that you normally get from unit buffs just won’t exist. Along with the change to solos, your Winter Guard and Trencher Infantry are extremely durable, potentially too much so. If I remember correctly, the Trenchers had 17 HP and the Winter Guard 16. This made the infantry survive attacks I’d not thought possible, including both attacks from assaulting Trencher Infantry, A Destroyer and a Juggernauts axe, and being shot in the face by a hand Cannon. Warjacks, too, are more Durable, with pounds of HP and, listen to this, no systems. I don’t know that I’m a fan of them not having systems, but it works well int he context of the games that I played. Effects like Disruption, Amputation, and the Shock Shield won’t be in the game in the way we remember from the tabletop. Disruption, for instance, simply prevents you from being able to allocate a single focus per instance to an affected Warjack, and can stack! Critical Amputation does a temporary (from what I remember) armor debuff, and the Shock Shield simply has the Disruption effect. I’m slightly concerned about the balance of the Cryx Bonejacks, because their DEF 15 is something that crippling the movement really helps alleviate. reducing a jacks movement to scrap, and therefore making it easier to hit, isn’t possible. This could have dire consequences.

Speaking of Stats: The game has been broken down into a star Rating for each stat, in the range of 1-5 stars. Fpr armor this roughly represents 4 points per star.  Other stats have each star vaguely representing 2 points each. When rolling dice, though,  this is translated directly, using a 2d6 system.  This can be disconcerting at first, like seeing that Sorcha under Wind Rush only has a 12 defense, but it all equals out, with winterguard only have a 2 or 3 for Melee attack.

The Warcaster plays exactly like you’d expect them too, with their entire spell list, weapons and feat available. You have your control area visible at all times on the field, and there is realistically nothing you can’t do that you’d expect to be able to do normally. Its a really interesting that they decided to translate so directly, because Warcasters are so vital to the tabletop experience, you’ve got to make them work. It feels, and I think this is the proper move from Whitemoon Dreams: Don’t fix whats not broke.

When I first sat down to play Tactics, Jay was there to walk me through the interface. I seem to remember him saying that it was a down and dirty, very simplified beta interface, which is fine because there are plenty of refinements to make to it, and I have every confidence that they will, based simply on feedback I gave then and there.

The game plays sleek and swift, and I didn’t notice any slowdown – now, its a dedicated box, so I expect that, but it still needs saying. The models looked great, but I’m not a judge of art, They looked true to their models on the tabletop, and that was fantastic. They even acted like it, with Trenchers having Bayonet Charge, the destroyers gun was horribly inaccurate, and the Charger even had Powerful Attack.

Models have indicators for where they can move, where they can run, and you even get LOS + range indicators from the spot you’d want to stop in.

Example – Your considering moving your Winter Guard, but you don’t know whether he should run or walk and attack, because you don’t know if he’d be in range. You move your mouse to the area indicated at the farthest he can move up, and thin yellow two lines appear – one to the Charger and one to a Trencher Infantry. You know that from that position, you’d be able to make an attack on either target. You move the cursor a single box to the left, and the Charger vanishes from LOS behind a ruin – and your yellow line is gone with it.

There are  differences with boosting that come off wrong at first, especially to one so used to playing the game, that just flow eventually into the game. First off, you choose your boosts before you make your attack – both to hit and to damage. Second, all damage is boosted from an attack, and that is VERY cool on the destroyer.

Each game ended exactly as I’d expect a standard Warmachine game to end, and the stories told about them will sound familiar. Game 1, Sorcha Wind Rushed and froze both Warjacks, but a shake and two lucky 10’s later, the Ironclad had pasted Sorcha. Game 2 I used my Quake Hammer to knock down both jacks shielding Sorcha, moved the now disengaged Lancer over and to her and headbutt her to the ground, and took Shots at her with two Trencher Infantry, Strykers Pistol, and an Arcane Bolt, all of which she survived. She then took a free strike after shaking the headbutt and died to the Lancers spear.

The stories are the same, but the game is different, and in the right ways given the medium that the IP is being expressed in. I don’t expect, and don’t really even want, a tabletop clone. What I want, and what they are giving me, is a new way to explore the same game.

I am not looking forward to this man.

I am not looking forward to this man.

Talking to Jay about the vision of how they want to explore the game was really inspiring as well. They have 3 casters for each of the four factions ready to go, along with a pile of characters and a release schedule that will continually add unit choices to the game. Again, he was super-receptive to feedback, jotting down things I said in passing as good ideas and further tweaks.

Closed beta starts here in just a few weeks, with open beta shortly thereafter and an on-time release of the game in August. I honestly won’t be playing a ton of Multiplayer, as I enjoy the tabletop so much, but I will definitely be playing through the campaign mode, and you can bet you’ll hear about it!

 

When I took off from Baltimore on Wednesday, I was more excited for Lock and Load than I’d been last two years. That doesn’t mean a whole lot because I’m not one to get terribly excited in general. The excitement came from a number of related factors:  I was going to see my friends Sarah and Jonathan who I’d not seen in almost a year, I was going to attend the invitational and then Lock and Load itself,  I was going to hang with John DeMaris, a stellar fellow I met three years ago, I was going to  get games in with Aeryn Rudel, Lyle Lowrey, and Doug Hamilton, and, I discovered at the last minute, meet another set of friends I’d not seen in quite some time. I was also rooming with a bunch of Canadians, only one of which I’d ever met.

Not everything turned out as I expected, both for good and Ill, but it was a splendid time all around. What did I do you say?

Flying in Wednesday, I managed to have dinner with my friends from Maryland, now Seattle, and it was awesome just seeing them again. They gave me a room to crash in – The only bed I’d sleep in all weekend, good food and good company. Sadly, it was cut short by my stupid east coast brain. I took the train in super-early to get over to the Seattle Westin on Thursday to check in before the Invitational, and from there, met John for breakfast with the Canadians. Check in for the Invitational was super swift, and we got Lock and Load dice, too! Well, the ones I got were “miss printed” with a dark purple on black, but I love ’em, with the color scheme of the Ravens and my Cryx being the same. They are Q workshop dice, but I think they are much easier to read than the standard ones. I’m pleased.

Zaal's Immortal Host v. Barnabus

Zaal’s Immortal Host v. Barnabus

My first opponent of the day is Aeryn, who I’d played last year, but he’d been given the wrong warlock by Will Schick, so it wasn’t really a fair game. This year, however, he brought a tier 4 Immortal Host list painted by Charles Foster III, and it was a beautiful army. I was Playing my Exchange Gators, and had finally gotten my Swamptopus from Devilsquid and my Wrong Eye from Endgame. I put down my typical Barnabus list, and we set off on a caster kill. I don’t remember much from this game, other than realizing that the Witch Doc Croc can control the Kovass, and never making the roll. I’m sure the game ended with Zaal in the dirt, and I’m fairly sure it was my Maryland Terrapin that did him in, but hell if I could validate any of that. 1-0 on the weekend so far!

Barnabus V. Kreoss 3

Barnabus V. Kreoss 3

The next game was against Kreoss III, who brought along an Indictor, which I’d not seen proxied before. He used the avatar, and that made me very pleased, because who doesn’t want the Avatar to not be the Avatar! I ended up changing the list up (and for the rest of the con, really) by swapping out the Ironback for the Swamptopus. It was a fantastic move that made for some really cool games later on. This one, specifically, I managed to drag Fires of Salvation from engaging two Gators, allowing them to break out and take down some Exemplar Vengers. The Swamptopus, though, Nearly cleaned out fires all by himself, which was pretty epic, getting a 4 point Critical Catastrophic Damage off, making the total 15 points of damage! in the end, Kreoss took three turns of beatings by a Blackhide Wrastler before being put in the ground, but it was finished! 2-0 baby!

During the invitational, there was a raffle of sorts, and I was lucky enough to win all the Standard Sculpt Juniors and Lessers, which is a pretty big deal to me. I Have Cygnar, Mercs, Skorne and Cryx, which is just shy of half of them. But now I have to find out reasons to make a Trollblood, Ret, Khador, Protectorate and Circle lists that have them in it. Like I needed more factions.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to get in any more games during the invitational, but it was a blast playing Aeryn, which I am going to make a tradition, and my Kreoss Opponent was a great guy. I passed out early, knowing that I had Spelldraft the next day.

Well, I Spelldrafted Friday, Which I’ve already wrote about, so I won’t go over it again, but suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I also got to see the keynote/Staff Panel, which was pretty OK. I like the information on Level 7 and Warmachine: Tactics, and the Monsternomicon stuff was just off the hook, I just couldn’t help but be disappointed in the lack of Warmachine and Tactics stuff. There were four slides:

starting off with a non-character Beserker Chassis Jack called the Mad Dog, ripped straight from High Command:

Khadoran Mad Dog

Then, a picture of some unknown Protectorate jack, with a mace, flamethrower, and what seems to be an arc node.

Protectorate Jack

Next, Concept art for a Ret Character Warjack. They mentioned if you want to see who’s character jack it is, pay attention to the weapons – looks like Garryth to me.

Garreth JackAnd finally, they showed this still, which could be either Pirates or Cryx.

Pirate Unit

While this slide was up, they mentioned that they were doing characters in Reckoning like they had done before in Apotheosis, supposedly to that type of power level. Its only fair, seeing as Imperatus just released, to keep Ret one step behind! They’d also mentioned that we were going to see some character units, if I remember correctly, and that’s something I’d really love to see. While the Withershadow Combine are freaking amazing, I think Cryx needs another bite at the Black 13th apple!

I was exhausted Friday, but I wanted to get my Cephalyx assembled, so I got up fairly early and started on them after a brief breakfast. I took some shots as I was assembling them:

monstrosity bits

monstrosity bits

Pre-Magnetized Monstrosities

Pre-Magnetized Monstrosities

Dominator

Cephalyx Dominator

Cephalyx Agitators

Cephalyx Agitators

Mind bender

Mind Bender and Drudges Unit


Sadly, the only model I didn’t get a picture of as I was doing all this was the enormous Thexus himself.

But lets get to that now!

Thexus v. Borka 2

Thexus v. Borka 2

The first game of the day was against Borka II, who had been assembled at the same table while I was assembling my Cephalyx. He is not a nice man. We were both, however, playing the caster for the first time, and neither of us really knew what to expect. I managed to win on scenario, but mostly because I could spray everything of his off the board. Overlords, Agitators, Mind Benders and Mind Slavers all have spray attacks that are extremely good. What I couldn’t spray, I could TK, and the feat was just Icing on top. I will say, someones going to figure out something insane with Borka II, and I’m just not gonna like it. 8-1 (yes, I am counting Spelldraft games!)

Thexus v. Goreshade III

Thexus v. Goreshade III

The second game was against Goreshade III, playing a massive, very cool, Tier list. He’d also decided to go for Cephalyx, and wanted to see how they play out on the tabletop. He’d played his Goreshade III list some 60+ times, and man, did it show. While I gave him a run for his money, I just didn’t know my list as well as he did his. The Wrecker, though, did his job and walked through 6 or 7 bane riders in a single activation, momentarily swinging the game. He had, however, picked off both my Dominator and my Mind Bender with magic attacks, and Croe’s never rallied. Playing 11 points down just wasn’t going to help my cause. I could have tied up or even killed the arc node had they been around, but it just wasn’t in the cards. It takes a total of two Siphon bolts onto Thexus and the game ends. 8-2

Me and Doug v. Martin and Max

Me and Doug v. Martin and Max

The third game I played was a team game with Doug Hamilton against Team France. They brought Skorne and Cryx, with Doug and I bringing Cephalyx and Convergence. It was a brutal game, and I rolled my fair share of hard 8’s to bring down most of the Satyxis with the Mind benders. The Drudge unit didn’t last long to the reprisal, and the Warden, when given a chance on Skarre failed to complete the job. Thankfully, He did it on a free strike that saved Thexus’ bacon, allowing us to call the game there up one caster to 0. I even got to use Doug’s Hulk Monstrosities because mine were.. well.. criticized for not being recognizable. I will say, though, that using the feat to clump up all the Venetor Slingers into a nice 5″ aoe bubble and then having the stupid Bloat Thrall miss his shot and sail 6″ right was a real bummer. 9-2!

Thexus 4

Cygnar and Cephlyx v. Cryx and Trolls

The last game of the day was again a team game against a couple of friends who were standing behind me in line reporting games. It was starting to get late, and I was getting loopy, and the scenario table didn’t help. We played Hold the Gates, with 25 points each of Thexus  and Cygnar v. 50 points each of Cryx and Trolls. It was BRUTAL. We held the gates, with Stormwall taking down Deathjack, and a million tough rolls on both Boomhowler and the Mind Bender Drudges holding down the fort long enough to eek out a win. 10-2

Barnabus v. Grissel 2

Barnabus v. Grissel 2

Sunday was not so kind to me. I got up early, and grabbed my first opponent about 7am after just about 4 hours of sleep. He slapped down the Mini Meat Mountain – 35 points of Pure Pain. I was playing gators, so I had no idea were this was going. Turns out, It went about as good as it could. Toward the end of the game, the Swamptopus got over to Grissel II and flailed about at her right good, but even with 8 attacks he couldn’t put the finishing touch on her. One of my Gatormen, eager to finish the fight, took a free strike from a warder, survived, and smacked the knocked down Warlock in the face. I needed High rolls, at ARM 19, but dice -3 isn’t terrible. But, as they always do, my dice pulled the law of averages on my face and rolled snake eyes, sealing the game, as Barnabas was beat to a pulp, just barely, by Mulg. 10-3

Barnabus v. Harbinger

Barnabus v. Harbinger

My next game was not something I was thrilled about once I saw what Frka had dropped on the table. Harbinger. I wasn’t sure what I’d do about it, but it wasn’t going to be OK. I lost my feat due to the book, and was really struggling from then on out. I made a decent play for it, with Barnabus forcing Harbinger to Martyr down to 4 hp, but in the end, I couldn’t clear the flag, and ended up loosing on control points. I probably sacrificed my Two big beasts a touch early, but I didn’t think it could be helped. Submerge being purified off is just rotten. 10-4

Sadly, my last game of the day I didn’t get a picture of, though it would have been epic. A friend I’ve known for a while but never got a game in against was also at Lock and Load, so we threw down. In the vein of all my Sunday Matchups, he tosses out a legit caster – Saeryn, with a pretty brutal list including a Scythian and two Angels. Standard fare, I’ve been told. Barnabus is good, But I don’t think he’s good enough to tangle with the big boys. Thankfully, I’m able to weather the storm, and make it through the feat turn by blocking LOS to Barnabus with big models in a swamp pit. I’m finally able to pop my feat, use Croak Hunter thrown spears to trigger Warpath, and get the Swamptopus on Searyn. Turns out, no girl likes being stuffed into the mouth of Pink Octopus. 11-4!

I really enjoyed getting a ton of games in. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. The food was good, the people were awesome, and the staff was a blast to play against.

But there’s more!

In addition to the games, there was also a Privateer hobby area where the Concept artist, Digital and Traditional Sculptors, Painters and Terrain builders were all hanging out. They had concept art of the Sacral Vault and the actual model for Helga, which I tragically didn’t get pictures for. But they did also have Trollkin bandits

Painting Bandits Trollkin Bandits

and also the model, albeit primed, for Jaga Jaga.

Jaga Jaga

Finally, they also had someone sculpting the Swamp Gobber River pirates, with concept art there as well:

River Pirates

 

I had a blast at Lock and Load, and look forward to making the trip out next year. Maybe this time, I can somehow magic my way into an Iron Gauntlet and get beat by the best int he business!

 

Man, what a format! Spelldraft lived up to my lofty expectations, and I really enjoyed the whole 63 man tournament. I will say that I liked the format better than Who’s the Boss, specifically because I don’t have to be terrified of breaking someone else’s models.

Every opponent I had was a top-notch guy, and I’d play any of them again in a standard tournament, though I’d likely not do as well.

I ended up playing against,  in order:

Rhan with Ashes to ashes
Kromack with Rage, Fury, and Defenders Ward
Epic Skarre with Savagery and Iron Flesh
Epic Haley with Signs and Portents
Epic Morvanna with Arcane Bolt
Epic Skarre with Ashes to Ashes

The format is not balanced against the rest of Warmachine, but it is internally balanced with itself. It has a pre-selected set of 64 cards, organized into  8 pre-sorted card pools that are all crafted to create choice within the packs. In the pack I opened there were both Signs and Portents and Boneshaker. It was a tough choice to make, but I went with Bone Shaker.  I didn’t think that the capacity to remove up to 18 models in a turn was going to come around again, and I could spam it more than Signs and Portents. I also  didn’t know what was in the rest of the packs, and was hoping for another global buff. In the end, I don’t think I did so bad, though I didn’t end up with a single CTRL buff.

Spell draft Cards

I had focused on making the most out of the random spells, but some players went with straight up high focus casters, some had no-frills casters who worked without spells, and other still focused on the feat with spells to enable it. While there was a huge variety, I was legitimately surprised at the lack of Harbingers and Kreoss 3’s, maybe that is just me. My biggest fear, though, was assuaged when they defaulted to Deathclock. I was a very happy camper seeing the chess clocks on the tables instead of timers. I was convinced that if we used timed turns, they would be the death of me.

Every games, as I mentioned, was a blast, so let me run down the highlights, for those of you who weren’t on my twitter.

Game 1: Austin brings a fairly standard Rhan list, with two units of Battle Mages, Sentinels, and a Phoenix. Thankfully, I got lucky Chain lighting rolls and erased his Battle Mages on the top of turn 2 before I could get engaged. Rhan ends up Spirit Fanged to death Turn 3.

Game 2: James Brings a brutal list of Kromack, twin stalkers, Ghetorix, and double shifting stones. Thankfully, last Masters I saw this terrible thing, and ended up nullifying one set of stones early on. I’d also dropped a ton of damage, but not enough to kill, into Kromack on turn 2, forcing him to play cautious. Though I hate to win this way, he ran out of time while making attacks on the Egregore with Ghetorix. He’d have won, no doubt, given infinite time.

Game 3: A very exuberant cryx player, who I forget the poor dudes name, brings an Epic Skarre list, with Satyxis, Bane Knights, Deathjack and Tartarus. He starts out debasing himself and how terrible he is, but I jovially call him out on his tactic, and we get along for the rest of the game. He forgets to feat at the only time he needed it, and I Spirit Fang Skarre off the board, again getting me out of the game on luck.

Not all those Banes make it.

Not all those Banes make it.

Game 4 was against a terrifying Epic Haley list run by Adam with a Stormwall and Blazers. Thanks to Quagmire, the Satyxis were able to tie up the Blazers for the majority of the game, making them less relevant, but still potent. What really swung the game, though, was my 5 Primed Bane Thralls miraculously dropping the Stormwall, freeing me to go for scenario.

Game 5 was an epic debacle against Colin Hill, and his Epic Morvanna list. He ended up killing his own Gallows Grove, Feating for it, and dropping it next to the Coven. Two shots and a re-roll later, he’s killed two of the coven and a focus 3 caster just can’t get it done.If I’d have been better prepared for it, I had crevasse, and could have forced a longer game, though I did get to see the Staff Panel, so it wasn’t all bad.

Game 6 was against Craig, another Epic Skarre player who had full units of Thralls and Knights, along with Tartarus and Deathjack. I took Tartarus off the board with Bone Shakered Bane Knights, and then I was able to get the terrible Bone Shaker train to go off. I took almost the entire Bane Knight unit off at once. . At the end of the day, Spirit Fang shots into Skarre ended the match, after I survived her feat.

Ultimately, I think it was both spell selection and the list that made the Army hum. I was familiar with the Scenario, I had practiced using the caster, and though I had fiddled with the list a bit, I kept the basic parts strong and enabled my arcnodes to get into place to deliver the tons of POW 12’s to the casters face.

Arm 14 – 45 damage.
Arm 15 – 36 damage
Arm 16 – 27 damage
Arm 17 – 18 damage
Arm 18 – 9 Damage ( 17  if boosting damage)

The three arc nodes, though I’d been cautioned against it,  meant I could easily sacrifice one to take out all his troops, one to drop damage into the caster, and have a third ready to finish the game.  Biles kept troops and casters out of zones, with MAT 8/pow 13 Bane Thralls keeping heavies in check.

It was an amazing, insane tournament that lasted for almost 12 hours, and I look forward to the PDF and rules coming out post-gencon. While the Static set of 64 spells could possibly get old, I spoke with both D.C. and Hungerford, who both mentioned that there are plans to change up the lists every year. I think that’ll do wonders to keeping the format fresh, though I can’t see the staples being replaced anytime soon, but thats the same with every format, Masters and Iron Gauntlet Included. There has also been talk of limiting or banning casters, and I can see why. The top four were: Witch Coven, Witch Coven, Epic Skarre, and Morvanna 2. Seems like there might be a bit of an unbalance there, With the Witch Coven represented well, Cryx represented well, and only the eventual winner with Epic Morvanna to break up the monotony. I look forward to it next year!

Recently, if it has not been clear, I’ve been playing the Witch Coven, trying to get a handle on them as I intend to play them at the Spell Draft event at lock and load. There isn’t much practice on can really do to prepare, other than make sure that you know the caster inside and out, allowing you to make do with a new spell list.

I managed to get 8 games in before the trip out to Seattle, Going 6-2 in that time. Granted, its 50 point games instead of 35, but the core of the list is staying very much the same.

Coven v. Kaelyssa – Loss: Assassination – List v. 1
Coven v. Butcher – Loss: Assassination  – List v. 2
Coven v. Iron Mother – Win: Scenario – List v. 3
Coven v. Reznik 2 – Win: Assassination – List v. 4
Coven v. Sturgis – Win: Scenario – List v. 3.1
Coven v. Morvanna 2 – Win: Scenario – List v. 3.2
Coven v. Kreoss 3 – Win: Scenario – List v. 3.3
Coven v. Rhan – Win: Assassination – List v. 3.3

The list that I’ve settled on looks like this:

The Witch Coven of Gharlghast+5
-Egregore-
-Deathripper4
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
Bane Thralls (10)8
-Bane Thrall Officer3
Satyxis Raiders (10)8
-Satyxis Sea Witch2
Bile Thralls (6)5
Warwitch Siren2
35

That is the core of list 3. I’ve messed around with some of the support staff, and at 50 I add a second Warwitch Siren, A Scarlock, and a full unit of Bane Riders. I really like this list. It can handle massed infantry, heavy armor and High Defense. Its durable against shooting and has some peculiar scalpel elements. I think its as close to a take on all comers list that I can write.

Now, with my list down, I’ve started to look at all the casters and see what spells they have and what would be nice to see get passed to me. There are some very nice ones out there, and while I still have some questions as to what spells are in the packs, I have some really cool plans. They did, however, say that they’ve removes spells that would “break the game. ” That is a bit of an opinion statement though, as I know plenty of people that feel that Purification breaks the game even now. That said there are some particular spell categories that I will be looking to grab:
Army Support – ex: Carnage,Signs and Portents,Transference, Mockery of Life. Arcane Shield
These are spells that will allow my normally average stat troopers to step up a notch. An 18″ control area really pushes spells like Signs and Portents and Carnage through the roof, while the Focus 9 will really give transference a boost.

Speed Buff – ex: Road to War,Dash,Superiority,Killing Ground, Crusaders Call, Coup de Main, True Path, Tactical Supremacy, Unstoppable Force, Quickening
These spells either give a single unit or my whole army a speed boost. Superiority is a specifically desired spell, as having a def 17, speed 9 Arc node would be magnificent. I really think that the scenario is ripe for Jamming, and I want to exploit that if at all possible. Besides, Satyxis with a +4 movement would be glorious, right?

Defense- ex:Fog of War, Temporal Barrier, Storm Wall, Star Crossed, Solid Ground, Caustic Mist, Rapid Growth, Pillars of Salt, Ashen Cloud, Deflection, Deceleration, Castigate, Lamentation, Bestial
These allow the Coven to capitalize on their main game: Army delivery. I’m fairly sure that this is going to be critical to getting a good Spell list. Fortunately, there are a ton to choose from. My personal favorite would be the 9 1cost Caustic Mists, but I’ll take pretty much everything on this list, and I could even double up. Star crossed + Ashen Cloud? Fog of War + Pillars of Salt?

Chain Lighting

Nuke- ex: Soulfire, Siphon Bolt, Razor Wind, Bone Shaker (probably the best 2 cost Nuke I could grab, netting me up to 18 dead models a turn), Chain Lighting, Sunder Spirit, Convection, Excarnate
This is the bread and butter of my concept. If I can grab just one 2 point nuke, I can eliminate units a a time. I’d need only 8’s to hit DEF 17, and at cost 1, boosting is easy. Most of them are POW 12 allowing great flexibility in the targets that it can kill.

Defense or Speed Debuffs – ex: Crippling Grasp, Quagmire (Imagine, if you will, Satyxis), Inhospitable Ground, Freezing Grasp, Black Spot.
With a pile of Banes and Satyxis, I could use a bit of help against some of the higher defense models. Yes, I have Biles, but I landing an extra shot or two on some of the Iron Fleshed Gunmages, Daughters of the Flame or other problematic models would be pretty useful.

Other- ex: Telekinesis, Ritual Sacrifice
There isn’t a ton to say here, really. I want both of these spells.

While looking through the spells, there were many that I really wouldn’t want, and while that will make the first few picks a lot of fun, it can make some of the later spells that no one else wants very damning. I’ve drafted a lot of M:TG, and the last few picks are whatever everyone rejected from the pool. I know I can end up with a pretty dead slot of I have Unearthly Rage or Positive Charge, but I can make do. There are very few spells I don’t want at all, or couldn’t use, especially at -1 cost. I’d really like to get as close as I can to keeping the Delivery Caster mentality, with some extra “pop” that would make the Coven really hum.

What I am really excited about is that I can use multiple Self-Upkeep spells in a round, due to the multiple activations that the coven has. The thought of starting the turn off with Signs and Portents, pushing the middle of the pack up with Road to War and then ending with Both Deflection and Fog of War really makes me giddy.

evayl

While I have all these grand plans, I expect there to be a ton of Vayle 2, Kreoss 3, Harbinger, Haley 2 and Coven. Each of them has a ton of focus and a back breaking feat. I even expect there to be a few Rogue casters looking to get one in – Casters that run Jacks well and will pick all the jack spells to make themselves super-powered: Absylonia, Darius and Magnus come to mind right away. While each of these casters can cause a massive amount of damage on their own, what I am really worries about is Timed Turns. I’m not particularly good at them, and prefer the deathclock variant overall, so I am worries that I’ll end up busting my turns by waiting to get that last move in.

No matter what happens, I expect Friday to be a ton of fun. Its an exceptionally long tournament with 6 rounds and the draft itself taking us all the way to the Staff Panel. I will have almost no time to play Iron Arena games that day, but I’m OK giving that up to play in the first Sanctioned Spell Draft Event.

I’ll be trying to update via facebook and twitter the coolest things I see at Lock and Load, so find me and follow!

Coven Art By Dan Roman