On Multiple Factions

I get a good deal of good-natured ribbing from people for the amount of factions I am, and have, played.  I currently own three factions (Khador, Cryx, Protectorate of Menoth), and I have previously owned two others (Circle and Legion; I guess Hordes doesn’t suit me).  Whereas many of the other players I know will amass hundreds and hundreds of points in a single faction (and be able to run any tier list), I have found that having a smaler force in multiple factions suits me much more.  Not that I don’t see the appeal in owning a full FA of every model a faction has to offer, but I have preferred the ability to easily move among largely different mechanics by way of playing many.

For me, much of the appeal in the game originally were the warjacks.  Mistakenly, I thought Khador packed the best ‘jacks, and that is what originally drew me to the faction.  I now have around 220 points of Khador, but I rarely field more than 1 or 2 jacks, for reasons I am sure any seasoned player could tell you.  However, the real joy in playing Khador for me is in the infantry.  The sheer destructive power of Great Bears, the unique threat posed by Doom Reavers, the endless and varied threat that fully buffed Winterguard bring.  These and others (don’t even get me started on my love of Iron Fang Pikemen) are the real gems of Khador.  I love the faction, yet I will be the first to admit that, relatively speaking, it is a shallow faction.  I knew that I wouldn’t be happy playing the Motherland exclusively.  I still wanted to keep playing Khador, but my heart was already wandering…

Cryx was a good fit for me because they bring a bag of tricks very different from Khador, and that juxtaposition was very refreshing for me.  Immediately what I liked about the switch was obvious:  the speed of Cryxian warjacks (especially Bonejacks), the debuffing mechanic of their casters, and the stacking tricks you can pull off (Parasite on a model during Deneghra’s feat turn with a Bane Thrall standing near the model).  The game was new to me again, because I saw it through a very different set of eyes.  I once again had to relearn how to solve the myriad of problems my opponent could present because Cryx’s methodologies differ greatly from that of Khador.  Now a year after starting them, I have enough Cryx to plan an Unbound game if I wanted, and I regularly break out the faction.  However, one need was still unfulfilled :  where Khador rocked the elite infantry, and Cryx packed a great bag of assassination tricks with their warcasters, I still hadn’t had my original warjack itch properly scratched, and by now I knew where to turn.

The Protectorate of Menoth.  Early in my playing days, I didn’t understand how this was the ‘jack faction’.  I regularly played a Menoth player, but he was new to the game as well, and I couldn’t comprehend the power of speed 5 versus speed 4, and reach on a warjack, and a song of battle; I didn’t see the immense significance in those numbers.  About 3 months ago though, I knew I had finally learned enough and decided to dive into a new faction once more.  My early purchases were all those things I had seen used to great effect against me (Temple Flameguard, Vanquisher, Vassal, Daughters of the Flame, etc).  But the big reason I picked Protectorate were the Choir; I wanted my jacks to charge in at MAT 8 with an insane POW.  I quickly purchased a full unit of choir and some SPD 5 reach jacks.  In a recent game, I had Blessing of Vengeance, a Sanctifier, and a Reckoner all wreck face repeatedly with the help of their reclaimer, choir, and vassal friends.  This was the game I originally wanted to play years ago, and I finally was playing it.  Of course, my record hasn’t been as good, because once again I am having to learn the game anew.  Where I am used to throwing a full unit of Pikemen or a trio of Stygian Abyss’s, now I have to think about delivering a payload of warjack fun.

All of this isn’t to pitch these three factions in particular – I wanted to speak a bit about why having faction choices is so much fun.  Even though I am a jack fan, there are times when bringing 50 pts of infantry with Irusk is great fun, and I still love to trot out Bane Thralls on almost any opponent.  High defense, high armor, jack lists, infantry swarms, melee, ranged, magic – I can play it all, and I often do.  I feel that the game for me is so much more rewarding when I can, from a first person perspective, experience that  large a range of the possible play styles and mechanics.  Single-faction players miss out on that breadth.  Sure, they get a depth of the faction that I might not appreciate, but I guess that approach just isn’t for me.  So, if you are thinking that buying that 3rd unit of Doom Reavers to hit eButcher’s tier list seems wrong, then open yourself up to another faction and see what it can do for you.

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On Temple Flameguard, a Protectorate Novice’s Perspective

Protectorate of Menoth is my newest faction, and it is currently my third (I have owned and sold off both Circle  & Legion).  In my limited time in service to the God of Man, I have grown intensely fond of the Temple Flameguard.  They were one of the first units I wanted to pick up, having seen them used to great effect against me in previous games.  And already, it is hard for me not to include them in every list I make.  They have earned their keep in every game I have run them, and I wanted to share what I think makes them such a great option.

Let’s start by taking a look at the raw stats:  TFG have a good SPD which, along with their reach weapons, gives them a great threat range of 11 inches.  They have average MAT (offset by their Combined Melee Attack), pointless RAT, and slightly lackluster STR.  Their CMD is decent, but nothing to write home about.  Overall POW on their melee weapons barely breaks double digits, although it too is somewhat offset by CMA.  From a stats perspective, what I really appreciate the most about TFG is their DEF (one higher than that of Protectorate light jacks).  Along with many of their abilities and combos (more on that later), these guys can be extremely difficult to hit.  Their ARM equals their DEF, and can reach insane levels with still more tricks.

As far as abilities go, there is the aforementioned Combined Melee Attack, which can help them produce a decent damage output when necessary.  Flameguard also pack two very good defensive abilities:  Set Defense and Shield Wall.  Both of these defensive buffing abilities really make them survive.  When in Shield wall, enemies will want to be charging them to get enough damage to take them out, but thanks to Set Defense that gets much harder.  And while 1 pt of DEF may not seem like much, DEF 15 against the charge really shines.

It is worth noting now that I never field Temple Flameguard without their Unit Attachment.  For 2 extra points, you really make out in my opinion.  the UA brings yet another reach model with a higher MAT to bring to those CMA attacks, along with three extra strong abilities.  Ranked Attacks makes the unit a superb front line, escorting Daughters of the Flame, Deliverers, or any other offensive weapon down field.  Iron Zeal acts as another layer of shield wall.  The synergy between it, Set Defense, and Shield Wall give you a turn where it attempting to kill a Flameguard model seems like a suicide run.  And to add insult to injury, Menoth’s Howl means that whatever the unit doesn’t kill will be left aflame.  That is more value than most UAs bring; all for 2 additional points.  A full-on 12 man unit brings quite a toolbox for an 8 point investment.

In a faction of synergies, the Temple Flameguard are right at home.  For my money, it doesn’t get better than hooking them up with a Warcaster with Defender’s Ward; those being pSeverius, pKreoss, and Vindictus.  The defensive number stacking gets pretty ridiculous, but in the best case, TFG can reach 17/23 with this spell (against the charge, in Shield Wall, with Defender’s Ward and Iron Zeal).  That is a turn of defensive godliness.  But even if they ran, the base DEF that Defender’s Ward (or Holy Ward) give them can be pretty hard to hit. Backed by a Reclaimer, TFG are the gift that keep on giving for the savvy Menite.

In addition to what they can borrow from their peers, I value these guys for what they contribute.  For me, that primarily comes in two forms:  as one of the game’s best tarpit units, and as an escort for a more fragile and valuable offensive payload.

I alluded to their tarpitting abilities above, but Temple Flameguard have everything an elite tarpit needs:

  • a decent command range to spread out
  • reach to be more threatening with free strikes and engaging
  • suitable speed to keep up with their army
  • excellent defensive abilities/survivability

I know Manatee has plans to go into tarpitting as a strategy in its own post, but suffice to say that TFG are a pain for an opponent to eat through.  Between all of the above, I have seen many an opponent pour resources into trying to get them off the board.  Again, all from a very affordable unit.

And finally, this unit excels are delivering a potent offensive payload.  Between their great survivability and  Ranked attacks, there are many options here, but I would like to list my favorites:

  • Screening a full units of Deliverers with pKreoss; waiting for that critical feat turn
  • Escorting either Daughters of the Flame or Knights Exemplar towards their respective favorite victims; single wound infantry and heavy warnouns
  • Keeping Holy Zealots alive long enough to save their own mini-feat for late game (when a well timed Greater Destiny can be crippling)
  • Blocking access to Protectorate’s wide array of dangerous warjacks until said ‘jacks can get the alpha strike

The list goes on, but you can see just how versatile this unit is.

While there are certainly some things TFG should watch out for (ongoing effects are particularly nasty; avoiding both their respectable DEF and their Shield Wall order), their price, versatility, and defensive staying power are something no Protectorate player should overlook.  If you have passed on TFG before for their lack of offensive output, I suggest you leave that role to the experts (Knights Exemplar, any Protectorate Jack) and deliver that payload with the always-effective Temple Flameguard!

As always, thanks for reading!

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

Burninating The Countryside : Feora, Priestess of the Flame

Feora, Priestess of the Flame (aka pFeora and Feora1, hereafter referred to as Feora1) is an interesting warcaster for Protectorate of Menoth.  Traditionally shunned as a second rate ‘caster, she is starting to see some additional play more recently.  I have fallen in love with her play style, and thought I would discuss some of it here.

Basic Information

You can find all of Feora1’s basic information (spells, feat description, basic stat descriptions) at her battle college page.  That said, I want to step through them, as they will be referenced later on in the article.

Stats

Feora1 has pretty good stats for a Protectorate ‘caster.  She has some of the best combined defensive stats for any of our ‘casters (Mage Hunter Strike Force need 9’s to hit her when not aiming, and are at dice – 7 for damage).  Her MAT is somewhat mediocre, but that is offset by her spells (specifically, Engine of Destruction, as discussed later), and her RAT is the same as a Cleanser’s.  She does get 2 initial attacks, either ranged SP8 attacks, or two non-reach attacks.  Her focus is average, one higher than the High Reclaimer’s and one lower than any of the versions of Kreoss’.  This can limit the effectiveness of her feat and some of her spells at times.

Special Abilities

She is immune to fire, which is good – she is the priestess of fire, after all.  She also makes it so Flameguard always rally in her control area and never flee.  This second one is really important, and can make or break some situations.  Anyone who has run Daughters of the Flame and watched them break time and again DESPITE being CMD 8 will appreciate this.

Feat

Feora1’s feat is very simple – it is a pulse effect that sets all enemy models in her control area on fire.  This can be extremely powerful against the right army.  If you have a lot of single wound infantry against you, or a lot of low-armor solos, or a low-armor Warlock or Warcaster, this can be a game changer.  On average, you will kill off about 2/3rds of their army (in practice, probably closer to 1/2 or so due to bad damage rolls, lucky continuous effect rolls, and the like).  This means that all those high-def infantry that your opponent is running will all of a sudden be making command tests to start your opponent’s turn.

That said, it can be an erratic feat.  Your opponent could get lucky rolls on their tests to check if the fire goes out, or they could have all armor or beasts, or all multi-wound heavy armor models.  With her smallish control area, you will have to play somewhat aggressively with her to get the most bang for your buck.  This is another place where her heavy defensive stats really start to shine.

Spells

Her spell list is surprisingly varied and large given her small focus.  She has spells that are offensive in nature (Blazing Effigy and Immolation), that buff either herself (Engine of Destruction) or someone else (Ignite), and denial spells, either through board control (Wall of Fire) or spell denial (Hex Hammer).

Blazing Effigy

This is a signature spell of hers, and I believe it is unique to her spell list (if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know!)  It allows her to damage all enemy models within reach range of a friendly faction Warjack – not necessarily in her battlegroup!  The damage is considerate as well, being the same as the damage from the Harbinger of Menoth’s feat turn.  This can be great for clearing out high-def troopers, as there is no to-hit roll.  It is an expensive spell, so using a Heirophant is a good idea.

Engine of Destruction

This is the same spell that High Executioner Servath Reznik has.  It greatly boosts the ‘caster’s STR and MAT, and adds a moderate buff to their SPD.  This means that she goes from being OKish in melee to being a complete beatstick.  And it isn’t very expensive – a wrack and heirophant make her effectively cast it for free.  It is not an upkeep, but that is OK – it means you can have Ignite or Hex Hammer up on her at the same time.  The former helps to get the assassination done, while the latter helps to stop counter attacks from spells.

Hex Hammer

Hex Hammer is possibly one of the best denial spells in the game.  It does d3 damage to anyone who casts a spell or uses an animus while in her control area.  This means that anyone using a Magic[*] ability (i.e. Lady Aiyana or Greylords), using their animus, or a Warcaster or Warlock just take the damage if they cast a spell.  Single wound models that cast spells as their main schtick – such as Druids of Orboros – pretty much become worthless while within her control area.  And it can plink away at Warbeasts, Warcasters and Warlocks too.  Nothing quite like watching your opponent use an animus, and then taking out an aspect because they used the animus.  Even if it doesn’t do significant harm, this game can be about small amounts of damage adding up.  Adding in a d3 damage here and there can turn the tide, and make your opponent decide if they REALLY need that animus or not.  Legion Lessers can really be hurt by this as well, given their small life pool.

Ignite

Ignite is a pretty standard spell, giving a moderate bonus to melee damage rolls, and giving the melee weapons critical fire.  This is best used on a unit, or in a pinch on a heavy ‘Jack or Feora herself if she is going for the assassination.  On Knights Exemplar, it brings their STR up to rediculous levels as they die, and even before that it brings their STR up to Khador weapon master levels.  On Exemplar Vengers, it makes their impact attacks dangerous, and gives them extra kick if they get stuck-in in melee.  All in all, a phenomenal spell that really increases damage output substantially.

Immolation

This is a standard attack spell that adds ongoing fire on Critical hit.  I have never used this spell when running her, because she has so many better options usually.  If there is an incoporeal model you need taken out, you can use this in a pinch.  Otherwise, I would recommend going for almost anything else.

Wall of Fire

This is a situational spell that doesn’t come up often, but when it does it can win games.  Putting a wall template down that does fire damage to people entering it or ending their activation, and then provides concealment, can close up choke points, stop charges, and really force your opponent to think closely about what they are doing around it.  Many times, it doesn’t come in to play, but when it does it can completely shut down your opponent.

Playing the Priestess

Feora’s prime incarnation has a very forward, aggressive play style.  She can get the job done on her own and often likes to get in the opponent’s face.  Using Engine of Destruction, she has a good chance of killing almost any Warcaster or Warlock if she can get close.

She also has some elements of denial.  With Hex Hammer as spell denial, she can make her opponent question casting spells or animi.  When a Warcaster or Warlock wants to use a spell or an animus, it is very likely that they will get burned by this, or have to be careful when they cast spells.

Priestess Support

Feora likes to finish the job herself.  While she can support her army a little bit, she really wants to finish the job up close and personal with Engine of Destruction.

With this in mind, it is often a good idea to bring Saxon Orrik with her, as not having pathfinder can be a difficult thing to work around.  She also likes jamming units, such as the Temple Flameguard, to help tie up the enemy while she positions for the kill.

She doesn’t need much troop clearing, as her feat and flame throwers will clear out most of the troops of the enemy.  She also doesn’t want a lot of ‘jacks, since she just doesn’t have the support for them.  Running Errants with ignite makes them a credible threat in melee, while allowing them to be a soft screening force. With the UA, they are an effective deterrent for enemy spells, and pathfinder makes them very mobile.

In general, I tend to view her troops as auxillary, and as being there to help deliver her.  She is an assassination Warcaster who happens to have some attrition abilities (and an attrition feat).

Other thoughts?  Comments?  Other ways you use her?  Do people use specific strategies against her?  Let me know in the comments.

Painting To The People – Vessel of Judgement Finished

The Vessel of Judgement is finished finally.  3 and a half weeks later.  I actually finished it up early Wednesday morning before heading into work, putting the chains on to the Zealot, and did a final sealing that evening before heading up to Rook’s.  I am really happy with how this came out, and I wanted this post to be the finished vessel – hence why it is so late.

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Welcome to Sustained Attack!

So, welcome to our new endeavor here to talk about our experiences in the world of Warmachine and Hordes; a fabulous game and world built by Privateer Press.  We are a group of players based in Bozeman, Montana.  We primarily play in our great local shop; Rooks Comics & Games.  We hope to discuss strategy, modeling, painting, fluff – really the entirety of our fascination with the Iron Kingdoms.  So please stop back and check us out as new content goes up!

Thanks, and play like you’ve got a pair!