In Zaal We Trust.
So. Game 2.
This past week, I got to play a game against a friend of mine who, awesomely, also plays Skorne. Sadly, I don’t get a lot of practice against it, so its good to throw down against someone who I think has a solid grasp of the game and can beat the snot out of me if I mess up. Now, I’d prefer this match up with my Cryx, again, I don’t get to play against Skorne, but playing against it is playing against it, no matter the faction.
This friend of mine and I differ in an extremely significant way, when it comes to playing Warmachine. I’ve mentioned before how much I love watching and participating in the unfolding of the game state, and figuring out how the puzzle, each time unravels. I love mastering the interactions and formulating a plan to burn through every game state, and I especially love pulling out a game I didn’t think I could take. I’m never one to count myself out.
My friend also will never count himself out, but he goes about it in a very different way. While I am not good at, and tend to dislike, list construction, he revels in it. He will brew, stew and tweak a list every time he gets a chance trying to find that unlocked master list that he can use on the table to maximum effect.
While we both have the goal of winning in a fun and effective way, I come at it from tabletop, then list, and he comes at it from list then tabletop. Its a very interesting dynamic, and one that is superbly interesting to recognize, and then take advantage of when you both talk about lists, games and other aspects of the hobby.
That said, I brought my lists from last week again, because I was to stupid to try and write up new ones. I think I am going to bring a bizarre and crazy list tomorrow to pair with the Zaal list, but we will see. It was no surprise, though, to see him bring two lists from left field. Well, left field for most Skorne players. if you’d have given me two guesses, I would have gotten them both right. He brought the Clown Car of Characters with X2 and Morghoul 2’s new theme force: Hit Squad.
I have mentioned prior that I’ve started taking and discussing list pairs with my opponent before the game in order to get better at my list selections and overall concept of how to pick them.
Last week was the game against Asphyxious 2 or Skarre 1, and I thought I could attrition them both down with Zaal. This week, against a pile of Heavies in both lists (Tiberion, Molik Karn, Despoiler with X2 and Gladiator, Archidon x2 in Morghoul), I felt that My Zaal list was just going to have to be the choice. Mordikaar just does not have enough hard hitters to chew through that amount of meat before it gets overrun. Keltarii, Incindiarii and even Tiberion are good, but they will not withstand the onslaught of 3 heavies. Instead, I needed something that could sustain hard hitting attacks for a time, and then give one big push at the end. I opted, as I am sure you all know, for Zaal.
He, opting for what is his new favorite, broke out Hit Squad. We were playing Two Fronts.
For a refresher on my list:
Zaal (tier 4)
Ancestral Guardian (x3)
Extoller Soulward (x2)
Hakaar the Destryer
Morghoul 2 (tier 4)
Paingiver Bloodrunner Master Tormenter (x2)
Gatorman Posse (max)
Croak Raiders (Max)
Small spoilers, but a picture of the board:
I won the roll off, and decided to go first, leaving him side of choice. He chose the side without the forest and building in the way, with the notion that I’d be bothered by them.
I deployed first, and denied the Tier bonus to advance deploy my Ancestral Guardians by Hit Squads Tier bonus, I was fully deployed. Again, much like last time, I deployed with a strategy. Take my zone, control it for 1 for 3-5 turns, and force him into a position where he was behind on CP and needed to commit to kill me. On the left side of the board, I deployed 2 AG’s, a unit of Immortals, the Kovaas, a Shaman and the Raider. Hakaar was as close to the house as you could be. Behind it was the Krea, a Shaman and Marketh. To the right of the house was a single AG and a Unit of Immortals.
He deployed his entire army, with a fair chunk in Advanced Deploy. To my left was the Gatorman Posse, an Archidon, and the gladiator. To my right was a unit of Bloodrunners and an Archidon. in the center was Morghoul and the Shaman, with both Bloodrunner Master Tormentors. Behind it all were the paingivers. In front of everything were the Croak Raiders.
My turn 1 is a bizzare and time consuming affair, and I don’t like it. I need to find a good way of deploying and getting all my models out and ready before actually go, and its not been easy. The Immortals both ran, and then I tried to Animus and Trample with both the Shamans. Turns out thats not allowed with Lights. The AG’s moved into position while I tried to get the Shamans good lines. Zaal went and gave the one unit facing the Raiders directly Inviolable Resolve, and one shaman Awakend Spirit. The Shamans ended up getting into place alright, but causing me a ton of headache in the process. Zaal and the Extollers teamed up to give the AG’s Souls, and took positions in the back. Hakaar pondered up the middle, trying to be threatening. I ate a massive amoung of the clock setting everything up for when I was assaulted by the raiders, though at arm 21/19/17 I wasn’t too worried.
His turn was remakably different in that everything moved into range, and gathered into position. The Archidons took up behind the zones, the Gladiator, Shaman and Morghoul in the center, and the raiders just piled in nothing was specifically in danger, though, and I was safe for a bit from their froggish ways. the Bloodrunners and their tormentors sprinted their way across the field to get ready to stab some stone people until they… expired? Chipped to death? I don’t know exactly what they expect to do to stone men.
I processed this turn a bit more than I wanted to, as well, and took even more time off the clock. I charged in the Kovaas to the Croaks, threshing three of the undead and tough… No, no they weren’t undead. I was so used to playing Gatormen I forgot that he didn’t bring the Witch Doc Croc until just as I was writing this. I was robbed two souls and an extra attack! Boo for being dumb!
So, right. I charged in the Immortals, as well, tagging two more, and killing one, triggering Vitriol on the other (and on the Kovaas, prior.) From the other side I charged in with the Immortals as well, getting one of them in range to make a charge attack on the knocked down croak. Who Toughed again. I moved up the AG’s and Hakaar to support, and put the Shamans on gun duty, which they performed atrociously. The first one missed, and the second one I forgot to activate the Extoller first, so I couldn’t shoot the Master Tormentor. Dumb. Zaal gave out some souls, drained a few fury, and ran into the smallest and toeist part of the zone. My opponent would have to commit to the zone if he wanted to stop me from starting to rack up the points, and there is nothing AG’s and Immortals like better than nearby enemies. Finally, the Krea and Marketh moved up, and Marketh put up Last Stand on the Jade Guardians.
His second turn was The Push. First things first, he took his Croak Raiders and applied them to my objective. Nothing burns like frog oil, and just a few attacks left it with three health. Then, in order to get rid of the last few points, he charged in with the Gatormen. One accidentally took a blow from the Kovaas, killing him, but the other one got through to the objective, but only managed to get there with the non-charge attack, and left the objective on one. The Gatormen did succeed in devouring the Kovaas, now corporeal, and an Immortal. Following all of that, the Bloodrunners moved in to try and clear some of the Green Immortals from the Zone. This is when I learned that free strikes are also Last Standable, and my guys would die on that turn. No thank you. One of the stone men dropped. He then tossed in He then committed the BRMT’s, and one got off a Shadow Whip Snap or whatever its called, on a nearby Archidon, putting it in a better position to dig deep into my lines and remove the last few offending models from the zone.The Shaman takes one down, making it an even easier prospect. The Archidon then swoops into finish clearing out the sone. Having done that, Morghoul pulls over into the zone, toes in, prepares to score a point. The support staff move up and give out tough to the croaks and cleans up fury where neccesary. Finally, the second Archidon, careful to keep in Morghouls Control area, swoops into my zone and bites the last point off of the objective. Morghoul 2 goes up 2-0
Oh man. I really felt like I was on the backfoot, here. With him up 2-0, it would take only a small shift in fortune, or clearing out both zones, before I was smoked out of the game. I had to push back, hard, now. But, I didn’t have enough tokens for my feat to be worth it. There also was this tipping point with my Immortals on the right with Last Stand up. If I make a Vengeance attack, which every one of them could make, I would loose them to last stand. This meant that I had to only commit to Vengeance those I would loose later in the turn to attacks anyway. This ate a pile off my clock as I went through the various machinations to try and figure out what I needed to do through the course of the turn. Finally, I made my attacks with 5 of the 6 remaining models, removing a number of Bloodrunners and sinking some significant damage into the Archidon. On the other side of the board, I did a similar thing, but without fear of reprisal from last stand. I bludgeoned a number of Gators and a Croak or two into paste, but overall was less effective at starting the process of clearing the zone than I wanted to be.
Fortunately, his feat only affects Faction models, and he had some 17 points of models I could attack without worrying about +2 Def. The main culprits, though, where going to be those Archidons. Under the feat they are a massive Def. 16, and needing 10’s on 3d6 wasn’t my favorite prospect at dice -4. However, as I contemplated the table state I saw the answer staring me in the face. The Krea. Both Shamans were in position to pop her animus, and then move into combat with their respective Archidons. This would reduce their defense down to a much more manageable 14. From there, I had some 4 Ancestral Guardians, each with three souls, who would be able to sink a pile of damage into the beasts. Mat 8 and a Krea’s Aura brings them up to an effective Mat 10, and that is no joke, sir, even to Def. 16. After a Shamans Aura and a Charge with three souls from the Ancestral Guardian, I was able to bring the Archidon in his zone close enough to dead that Hakaar charged in and smote it, with a single hit. The other Shaman, another Krea Aura, and two more charging Ancestral Guardians, and I was able to put down the other.
At this point, I’d managed to clear a lane for three of my Jade Immortals to charge Morghoul, under last stand, and I couldn’t see a reason not to. In they went, three of em, with the other four going after the Bloodrunners, including killing the BRMT’s Only one connected with Morghoul 2, but it did enough damage to Beverly wound the Titan Gladiator, giving me a little boost. Straight dice on 4 is pretty wicked. the rest of my activations were pretty useless, but Marketh did sacrifice himself well, running into the zone to make it just a touch harder to clear out.
At this point, I felt that I’d just not done enough. His warlock was safe in teh back, and I was down to only one model left in the Jade Immortals. Gators, Croaks, a Gladiator and Morghoul himself were staring me down. My opponent, though, felt a bit like I did. He was on the ropes, with only Morghoul, a Gladiator, and two units of minions to stare me down. With his Minions, he committed further to the zone, knocking out a few more of my Immortals. The Gladiator hung back a bit, preparing for a countertrstrike, if needed. The Shaman and Morghoul committed to clearing the zone in front of them, with Morghoul flying into my end of the zone and starting to do work. First down was Marketh, then the Ancestral Guardian. However, the AG, being durable as hell, took three Weaponmaster 12’s to take down. Leaving me to firmly spawn the Kovaas in his face. Thus, with the his activations done, the zone uncleared due to the kovaas spawning and Morghoul wanting to sit on two transfers, He passed the turn.
For me, There was no better time. I had to pop feat and try to kill him. I was way down on time, and if I didn’t blow him up now, I don’t think I ever would – He was easily within 15 of Zaal. I moved Zaal up and used his Staff to kill the Agonizer that was in one of the shamans ways, and cast Last Stand on Hakaar. Finally, I popped my feat. The shaman went next, and wandered over to Morghoul and put up the Krea animus, reducing his defense by 2 and bringing him down to a reasonable 14. I took a stab at him, and got in a few damage. Hakaar activated next, If I remember correctly, and Charged. His charge attack, rolling 4 dice to hit and 5 to damage (we did this wrong, actually. its “only” 4 dice to damage) This initial Charge attack connected (additional die from last stand and boosted from the Feat), and did 22 damage, exploding the Shaman. His second Initial Attack, with another 4 dice to damage, connected and did more than enough to kill Morghoul, forcing a transfer. 4 dice straight damage is pretty brutal on a caster who has 14 HP and has already taken damage. The first, bought attack, killed Morghoul where he stood. The Kovaas had yet to go.
Can I just tell you how much I am in love with MAT 8 Immortals? Its beyond fantastic. With the Krea and Shamans, because the Shamans have reach you can always make sure that you have the opponent in your aura, and then get attacks on them while leaving plenty of room for small and medium based troops to get work done. Combined with the Raider for the ability to Snipe when needed, and this package of four beasts is awesome.
Ancestral Guardians really proved their worth here, as well. With their higher Mat, their ability to boost, and the simplicty of giving them souls, I can’t really see anything bad with them. They even are ensured to get an attempt on their points whenever anything melee based comes around, as their defensive strike is very solid. I don’t think I lost to much from loosing AD, and actually think it might have allowed me to stay in the game because I was leading with the models with Vengeance or that were free (Kovaas)
I’m really in love with this list, and I was going to change it around a little, take out the Krea for something else, but I just think its too much a part of this casters thing. Not to mention a range 12 Hexblast might need to happen, sometimes. Or Magic Spears, or any number of other things that that dude does very well.
Well, thanks for reading, lemme know if there are any problems with the game or with the battle, and I’ll see you next time.