Warjacks & Warbeasts Ho!

So today at work, Red Manatee and I took our lunch break for a spirited debate on which faction packs the most power in the form of their Warjack/Warbeast options (including auto-include support).  So the candidate list looks something like this (in no order):

  • Khador
  • Cygnar
  • Cryx
  • Retribution
  • Protectorate w/Choir
  • Mercs
  • Legion w/Forsaken, Sheperds
  • Skorne w/ Beasthandlers
  • Circle
  • Trolls w/ Whelps
  • Minions

While you can argue that the other factions have solos that can help out their Warnouns (Koldun Lords, Mechanics, Arcanists, etc), I think the four factions with support above always run those support if they are serious about running a battlegroup-heavy list.  The question then is, how would you rank the power of the warbeast/warjack choices in each faction?  Assume here that you aren’t taking into account synergies with units, warcasters, warlocks, or other models – just a straight comparison of the relative power of the warjacks, warbeasts, and auto-include support.  Here is what I came up with (in order):

  1. Protectorate of Menoth
  2. Legion
  3. Skorne
  4. Retribution
  5. Cryx
  6. Trolls
  7. Cygnar
  8. Circle
  9. Khador
  10. Minions
  11. Mercs

Obviously, those factions with powerful support rise to the top; for me PoM, Legion, and Skorne were easily the top 3 when you take this in account.  Minions and Mercs suffer their usual dearth of options, Khador is just too slow most of the time, Circle cannot run fury heavy, Cygnar relies heavily on their Warcasters for their jacks to really shine.  Trolls start to do pretty good if they are packing sufficient whelps.  Cryx and Retribution is a virtual tie for me:  the utility of the Ret jacks evens out with the high DEF and MAT of most Cryx jacks.

So what about you?  If you were building a brand new faction and didn’t have any warcasters/warlocks yet, and you could choose the warjacks/warbeasts from one existing faction, what would you pick?  Do you agree that Choir put Protectorate over the top, or do you have another thought?

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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

Warjack Anxiety

So, preparing for Lock & Load has required me to be far more analytical about my lists than usual, and I have played many practice games and tweaked various aspects of the lists. When I wasn’t sure how to tune my lists any further, I took them to the Privateer Press Forums for advice. One of the things that was quickly pointed out was that I was carrying two Helljacks (in addition to 2 Bonejacks) in my Deneghra list.

Many people rightly pointed out that Deneghra craves her focus, and has little to give to one, let alone two, heavy warjacks. And while this advice was sound, it really got me thinking; why do I always take at least two heavy warjacks in a list above 35 pts? I think there are a variety of reasons, and I thought it would be worth throwing them out there:

  • I started out as a Khador player, and Warjacks are the epitome of what it means to be Khadoran

Even though I often rock me some Cryx or Legion; Khador was, and will always be, my first faction.  I started with the Reds, and many of my personal habits in this game are clearly defined by that beginning.  When you are first learning the game – ARM 20, 34 wound models seem neigh unstoppable, and in fact my Warjacks often ran rampant in my early days; we just didn’t quite know how to handle them.  Of course, once we masted power attacks and other subtle options, we learned how easy it is to shut down those giant slow hunks of metal.  And as a Khador player, where armor defines everything, there is a certain pride in running as much armor as you can find.  The look on an opponent’s face the first time they ask to see Devastator’s card is priceless.  So I suppose it is natural, that I always think first about heavy Warjacks when I am building a list.

  • Warjacks are what drew me to the game in the first place

Steampunk as a genre is something I really enjoy, even if I don’t get as involved as I would like.  And the flavor in the Iron Kingdoms was perfect; steam power coupled with magic.  The cortex as a concept is outstanding, and I really enjoy conjecture on how/why they work the way they do.  The evolution from Steamjacks into Warjacks has always made a lot of sense, and PiP has built a series of great story points to tie into this.  From the Rhulic faction and their clearly converted working jacks to the feelings in the Protectorate about how unholy Warjacks are, the Iron Kingdoms has always been written with Warjacks in the fore.  I didn’t play Warmachine in Mark 1, but I understand the frustration PiP had with players who didn’t field ‘Jacks at all; the world was always meant to have them involved.

  • I really want Warjacks to be integral to the game

It always makes me sad to see a successful list that includes little or no Warjack prowess in it.  I understand the power of infantry, but I really like it when Warjacks are core to the list.  If you think about the raw size, power, and investment in these machines, how could they not dominate the battlefield?  In reality, were something like a Warjack even conceivable, it would be next to impossible for sword-wielding minions to stop them.  Sure, the game itself has to support that possibility, but it never made sense to me.

So, with regards to my Deneghra list at the start of this post; I understand that ole Denny needs her arcnodes and nothing else, but I would rather handicap my list somewhat if it means more Warjacks find their way onto my side of the table.  Nightmare is powered by her own blood, Slayers have wild animal horns bolted on, Reapers and Malice have freaking harpoon arms, the crabjacks can walk under the seas and are waterproof!  That is just too cool, and having too many Warjacks is a problem I will probably always have.