Apologies About Posts

There has been some shakeup going on over here at Sustained Attack over the last few weeks.  We have had one of our writers in the middle of a move, another running out of time, and the others of us scrambling to keep up despite increased load in other areas of our lives.  We believe we have everything sorted out, and the quality posts (hah!) you have expected to come from us should resume here next week, Monday through Friday, as it was before.

Apologies about this – none of us were as prepared for this type of a problem as we thought.  We are currently discussing ways to make this better if this happens again.

Thanks for your patience.

Tips and Tricks for the New Warmachine & Hordes Player: Strategy 2

This weeks discussion will focus on movement of troops and how to analyze your game.  I found a weakness and I forced myself to play against it.

Aggressive play

I have mentioned before that I am a pretty conservative player.  I don’t always play like “I have a pair.”  This week I resolved to throw all caution to the wind and get into my opponents face as fast as I could.  The idea was if I know how the game feels when playing it safe, and I then learn how the game feels when I play aggressively I can find my happy middle.  Experienced players know their play style.  My play style is still malleable.

Having decided to just focus on that one goal above all else this week made the games so much fun.  It did not matter if I won or lost, as a matter of fact I may have giggled when the mage hunter strike forge took out my jacks.

Game 1  – DEATH VIA SUSTAINED CANNON ATTACK!

35pt Cryx v. Talion Charter
Bane Knights ran up to greet his infantry.  They did a great job of debuffing but I could have staggered them more.  Most of them died before they could do anything.  If I just held a rank of them back I could have counter charged and it would have been beautiful, sweet carnage.

Nightmare put prey up on the first thing he could reach and charged up the middle.  He chewed through the unit, but not without taking enough damage that he didn’t serve his full potential.  Next game I vowed to use nightmare to chew through some jacks.

Slayer and deathripper went to the right and took a cannon to the face knocking them down.  I need to give two focus to them then so they can stand up and keep running.  This was the one case where I could have been even more aggressive.

Game 2  – DEATH VIA ARC NODE CASTRATION!

35pt Cryx v. Retribution
I knew going in what the Mage Hunter Strike Force was going to do.  Regardless, the goal of the week was to push the movement of my models to their extremes.  Turn one, each jack got a focus to run and Nightmare used ghost walk to push through an obstruction.  My Retribution opponent went second and bam, jack after jack fell to his Strike Force.  It was spectacular and awesome to see how deadly they were to my jacks.  I am glad I did it though because it prepared me for game 3.

Nightmare, still pushing strong, went and ate through his three jacks in the next two turns.  I can’t wait to try out Death Jack!  The last two rounds all I had left were Deneghra, my Bane Thrall Officer and Nightmare without arms.  But don’t count me out yet, Denny went on the offensive and venom spammed two full units down to two models.  Eventually the game did go to him, but man was it a fun way to lose.

Game 3 – DEATH VIA MY OWN HAND!

35pt Cryx v. Skorne
This one was probably over before it began.  I was up against Baron McFats (Rasheth), two agonizers, 2 Gladiators, a full unit of Gatorman posse, Bronzeback Titan, a task master and a unit of Beast Handlers.  It was a tier 4 theme list.  So my Ret game prepared me for this because I once again could not use arc nodes.  Not because he destroyed them, but because Castigate + the agonizers just locked me down.

So, the jacks just went into the melee with the bane thralls, nightmare and everything else.  The goal was to kill the agonizers, but the gatorman posse and the gladiators did an excellent job screening and I could not kill them fast enough.  I knew at turn two that the game was over, so I pulled a hail mary.  I needed to move Dene or she was dead, but a full advance wasn’t going to cut it and a run would mean I could not feat leading to my destruction next turn.  So I did what any self respecting Cryx player would do and I charged into the back arc of my own deathripper (taking him from full to scrapped in one hit) and then feated.

Conclusion:  If you haven’t ever done it, take a few games and push your models as far as they will go.  Cheer on your opponents as they mow you down.  Be aggressive, next week now I know how far I can push to really make my opponents play on MY TERMS!

I have my notebook now so reviewing these games after the fact is so much easier.  Experienced and Novice players alike, try this out.  Play a few games just to push, not to win and record your results.  I was feeling pretty comfortable with this list and thought I knew most of it, but placing myself in these situations forced me to be creative, and to use abilities in new ways.

Tips and Tricks for the New Warmachine & Hordes Player: Strategy 1

Last week went well for games.  So I decided to try something different and play with a new Warcaster.  I had been warned that Skarre2 was a huge jump from Deneghra1.  I had learned my other Warcaster pretty quickly as well as the cards so I figured what did I have to lose.

I set up a practice game this week so I could learn her at my own pace.  I was up against our local Press Ganger who was trying Protectorate of Menoth for the first time.  My opponent was my Cryx coach while another friend of ours was his Protectorate coach.  This was an interesting way to do it, and ended up being like three people playing a successful two person game.

I had studied the cards before hand and sat down with another person going over all of Skarre’s abilities.  When I sat down though to actually play the game I was overwhelmed pretty quickly.  That being said with notes in hand I learned a few things.

Jacks are like Kitties – They don’t like water baths

I have been trying to keep my jacks a little bit away from water.  Each army has different things for threat and how far they will be able to throw your Jack.  For now my focus has been to not make it obvious that they have that option.  I know with experienced players that won’t always work but the last thing I want to find is my Slayer in the pool without his water wings.

Jacks are like Sumo Wrestlers – Don’t be behind them when they fall.

My Skorne buddy taught me this one.  He slammed me with his Titan Gladiator.  This pushed my guy into my Warcaster and ended up causing my assassination.  I am sure in larger games it is harder to avoid this, but in these starting point games it is something I have learned to watch for, and for me to use to my advantage.

The Best Units Use Protection – The AOE Protection Bubble:

This is a technique I was shown this week to protect my Satyxis Raiders from AOE splash damage.  Forgive the artwork but I felt it would be best to draw out how it works as I explain it.

Viveka vs. DbSmash
Cryx vs. Protectorate of Menoth (25 pts)

So I ran my raiders up there as fast as I could, and created the placement bubble.  I call it a bubble because if you look at one of the center raiders you can see the other raiders are circled around her.  Protectorate has a LOT of fire, and they certainly aren’t the only ones with AOEs.  His Vanquisher for example has a four inch AOE.  There is just slightly more than four inches between each of my raiders.  This means that the AOE template will never go over more than one person.  If it deviates it again will only hit one model!

The other benefit comes from Free Strikes.  Lets say smash wanted to run his Repenter through my Raiders to get to something later on.  Since my Raiders have Reach there is no safe place for him to run.  I am also in good position for counter charges if things happen to my front line, and they are still close enough to support each other.

Get up in their face, The Game Rewards it:

This was my first week playing where I really felt this.  In this match I may have hedged around a pond too much; it meant that my Slayer didn’t see any action for an extra two turns.  I am not saying always use your max movement, but don’t do what I did and hedge stuff so much that you can’t do anything.  There is a difference between playing it safe and playing it smart.  Playing aggressively with my Raiders almost won me that match.  Had I chosen to be as aggressive with my Jacks I could have won.

Learn the Proper Play Etiquette and Terminology:

This helps to keep all of your actions organized in your mind as you learn your army.  By calling everything out, your opponent will be happier because they understand what you are doing as well.  This means they can also correct any terminology mistakes up front, because specific wording is important in Warmachine.  Not everything is a unit, and a slam is very different than a charge.  By stating it clearly and consistently, you are helping yourself learn the rules faster.  The following are wording fixes that were recommended to me this last week.  It has helped already.

Example – I am activating Denegra, she is going to target this arcnode here (points) and cast venom through it at THIS target.  (Remove focus for declared cast)

Example – I am activating my Bane Thralls and issuing a charge/run order.

Change out your dice out through out the game.  I pour my dice cube out on the left and as I roll, I move them over to the right.  Players have already mentioned to me that they like it because they know I won’t be using “the dice that roll well”.  It also helps eliminate any feeling that you won or lost a game on rolls, when it is pretty much always strategy that decides the outcome.   This keeps the focus on the game not the dice.

Cycling your Upkeep Spells:

While you can choose to upkeep spells at the beginning of your turn, nothing says you can’t change where they are mid turn.

This example was proposed for a game where I had two units of Satyxis Raiders.  Lets say a Deathripper had made a full advance and had been used as an arcnode to put Backlash up on the Repenter.  (Backlash means that any time I damage his Repenter now, his Warcaster takes one point of damage.)  The next turn I upkept the spell and use my first unit of Raiders to attack the Repenter, bringing that Jack down to one box.  I want to do as much damage as possible to his warcaster this turn, so then I choose to activate Skarre.  She now chooses to cast backlash on his Vanquisher which is undamaged. Leaving it on the Repenter would not make sense now; at most backlash can make his warcaster take one more point of damage, but if I move to the ‘jack with full health, I can get a point on him for EVERY attack that does damage!  Skarre’s turn is over and I then activate the second unit of Raiders and attack the Vanquisher.  This is a great example of how choosing to upkeep a spell, but then moving it mid turn can give you more damage or even an assassination.  It is a pretty sweet little trick!

Thanks again for reading! I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.
If you want to read any of the other Tips and Tricks articles just click my name at the top or below and it will take you to my archive.

Cheers – Viveka

Why Paint?

Something that I never understood when I first started playing wargames was why have painted models?  What benefit does it have?  I mean sure – it can look good, but I am such a terrible painter… etc. etc.  Others have had these thoughts as well – I have heard them expressed by many new players.

When preparing for Lock & Load this year, I really wanted to go with a fully painted army.  So I painted constantly for three months to get my Skorne finished in time.  I felt that if I was going to pay that much money (trip, hotel, and entrance costs), I should be playing with the best I can do.  So I painted – a lot.  And when I was finished, I realized that I really didn’t want to play with unpainted models anymore.  I had grown “addicted” to playing with painted models.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t want to play against others who don’t have painted models.  I really couldn’t care less – I enjoy the game for the game.  But I found a number of benefits from the painting process itself, as well as playing with painted models, that I really hadn’t anticipated.

Painting is Soothing

This may not be the case for everyone, but for me Painting is a soothing experience.  Once I stopped caring as much that my models were not perfect (something that took a lot of effort and growth on my part), I started to really enjoy the relaxation from the painting.  When I paint, I feel a calmness, and a focus on just the painting.  It is much like what other people describe meditation feeling like, and it is a nice feeling.

I know this is not the case for everyone – some people find it very stressful, some find it invigorating, some find it boring.  I know that I use music to help keep my brain occupied, but I often come away from painting feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Painted Models Look Good

This may seem obvious, but painted models look good on the table.  It makes the game more engaging, and onlookers find the game more interesting.  Given that games live or die based on bringing in new people (or “new blood”), this can be a huge factor.  It also makes the game more fun for me.

Painted Models Roll Better

OK, not really.  Seriously – not really.  But, they do cause a confirmation bias – people are more likely to think their models do better if they are painted.  Humans are silly that way,  It makes a loss easier to handle if your army looked awesome while doing it.

Painted Models are Easier to Identify

This is a big one.  As Viveka noted last week, it is easier to determine what a model is, and which ones are different, when they are painted.  This has several benefits:

  1. Your opponent doesn’t have to ask NEARLY as often “is that a Bronzeback or a Gladiator?”  Once they know which one is painted one way, it becomes easier for them to remember.  Humans are visual creatures, and we can make quick visual associations with little difficulty.
  2. It is easier for the player/owner of the models to pick out individual models in a unit.  I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to move a unit, to find that I had moved a solo accidentally with the unit, or forgot the standard bearer, or forgot one of the models off to the side, or…  I think most players have this experience.
  3. It is easier to determine which model belongs with which card.  If you are running multiples of the same model that has hit boxes (i.e. the same ‘jack or ‘beast, or the same solo with wounds), it can become confusing remembering which one belongs to which card.  If you mark the card with the arc color of the model that belongs to it, or some other distinctive feature, it can make that problematic question much easier to resolve.

Playing Fully Painted is Satisfying

There is something satisfying about playing with a fully painted army.  You feel like you have really put time into it, and it just looks and feels awesome.  Especially when you were the one doing the painting, having the models on the table, painted and ready to go, is just a great feeling.

Any other benefits people can think of?  Anything I am missing out on?  Do you disagree with my sentiments here?  Feel free to comment.