Beginners: Matchups to Watch For

This is the first in a planned series of two articles, aimed at those that are relatively new to the hobby and expecting to play in a tournament soon (or have played only in local tournaments).
My hope is to ease the transition into competitive play, since your first tournament can often feel a bit like the transition below….

This is what veteran tournament players see when you enter the room

The aim with these two articles is to identify the most common ‘problem’ lists that you’re likely to encounter in any given tournament. Lists that you really need to have some plan to deal with.

These are also (for the most part) lists that I expect most people lost to the first time they played against them, since each of them has a very distinctive style/capacity that will quite simply kill you dead if you don’t know it’s coming.
Some of them will still often kill you dead even when you DO know they’re coming.

This first article deals with just the Warmachine side of things, you’ll have to wait a week or so for the other half since I’m new to this blogging thing and it takes me forever to make one of these posts.

So without further ado, lets kick things off with everyone’s favourite….


Star Player: The Harbinger of Menoth

Aint nobody keeping her down….wait1

Most commonly seen with (at the moment) reckoner(s), redeemer(s), Battle engine and/or avatar. Generally with errants in front. Often with a variety of solos.

My recommendation: Don’t play circle.

What she’ll do:
-She has a bunch of abilities that, if you’re new to the game, will not seem fair. Dont worry, they dont get fairer once you gain experience. I wont list everything she does that is annoying, but the following is a short list of things to be aware of:
-Awe: If you are within 10″ of her and living, you get -2 to your attack rolls.
-Martyrdom: If you kill something (a warrior model) of hers within 10″ of her, she can take 1d3 damage in order to keep it alive. She can do this indefinately. So dont depend on killing any individual model within 10″ of her, if the game depends on it then it wont die.
-Purification: She has the spell of spells. It will remove all your upkeep spells and animi. It does not remove non-upkeeps like batten down the hatches, which is a small mercy.
-She cant be knocked down. Dont ask me why. I like to hum the chumbawumba song in my head when I think about it, that way I smile instead of crying.
-Feat: Her feat will completely and utterly lock down your single wound models. Be aware that, for scenario play, there will be a turn in which you simply cant move your infantry, plan for it.
-She will use martyrdom, plus other Menoth abilities6 to stop all of your favourite abilities from triggering. Sprint is the particular one that I fall for every time.

What you should do:
-If you can get her to martyrdom with cheap shots, do so. She is on a large base, so you can get line of sight to her surprisingly easily. Most of the games I’ve won against Harby have been by assassination after she martyr’d to 10 health or so and I got a couple of good ranged attacks on her.
-Bring something that can kill errants quickly and efficiently. they are only 12/16 with Harby, so anything that can put high volume of POW 10 fire into them will cut through them fast. If you can get the UA to start dying you might be able to provoke some martyrdoms out of Harby before she realises you’re just going to keep on killing it. Anything that gets extra shots WITHOUT having to kill a model to get them (self-sac stops those abilities, as does martyrdom) is great for this role.
-Bring something that is resilient to heavy shooting. Or stealth.


Star Player: Kommandant Irusk (pIrusk)

He looks a lot like a lot of other models. This can be a problem2

Most commonly seen with kayazy and nyss/winterguard plus one-two jacks. Although the 20 IFP list is a monster, it is thankfully not as common nationally (so far as I’ve seen). I run into this list or some variant of it in every single tournament.5

My recommendation: 2d3. Seriously.

What he’ll do:
-He will keep one model from the kayazy and one model from whichever other infantry he’s using back with pIrusk, a long way out of your threat ranges. He’ll then use those two models to buff their associated units from an infinite distance. This is called the Khador arc node. His feat will also work through this system.
-run defence 17 kayazy in front of you, then they’ll be defence 19 when they engage you the following turn. Additionally, they can move through your models on a turn of his choice, which will get your caster killed. They also have gang and backstab. Backstab isnt generally as much of a problem. MAT 9 is a serious problem.
-Cast battlelust on whatever the heck he wants to, turning it into instant weapon masters.
-Feat to make all of his infantry +2 mat, +2 rat, fearless and tough.
-Combine the above to make super troops for one round, some of which can run through models in order to hit you as weapon masters with extra mat.

What you should do:
-Bring blast damage, preferably blasts that you can saturate with in some way. 3-4 blast templates is ideal, though 2d3 is better, alternately any army that can bring one turn of focused blast damage (such as pKrueger) can generally get through.
-Bring anything that can ignore the defense of the models it hits
-Bring something that can negate tough
-Bring covering fire or similar spells (lightning storm, clouds of corrosion etc)
-Bring bile thralls.
-You don’t have a lot of options in this match, you simply have to cut through the infantry as quickly and efficiently as you can. If you manage it, you win. If you don’t manage it, you lose.

Star Player: Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova

They were overly optimistic when they identified her role

Most commonly not seen due to lack of any redeeming feature that might otherwise make her playable8

My recommendation: Pinch yourself and wake-up, he’s actually playing pIrusk.

What she’ll do:
-Panic, cry and continuously re-read her card in the hope that a useful spell and/or feat will materialise.
-It wont.

What you should do:
-Celebrate, crack open a tinnie and sit back
-Ask to read her card, read it, look at the player, read the card again, look at the player for a couple of minutes or until they say “What?” then respond with “nothing” and continue your game.
-Repeat the above at the start of each of your turns.


Star Player: Lich Lord Asphyxious (eGaspy)

Probably the only genuine “triple threat” caster. Three list all-gaspy 2013 ftw.

Most commonly seen with Banes10
(Both the Knight and Thrall versions), Biles and the rest is dependant on the player. Tartarus will be there. You’ll kill him. He’ll come back and kill you.

My recommendation: Be overconfident. You totally got this. Wait, has he feated yet? Oh.

What he’ll do:
-He will excarnate a model of yours, use it to make a bile thrall, walk said bile thrall up to the front of your army (which was carefully placed outside of walk and purge range for the existing bile thralls) and then make your army disappear.
-Wait until relatively late game when you’re feeling good since you’ve killed through most of his army. You feel like your heavy remaining can probably deal with gaspy himself. Then he’ll feat and you have your caster left (or your caster is dead) and you are up against Gaspy’s base statline with no heavies. Not a good place to be.
-Annoy you by moving up, casting annoying spells and then teleporting back.
-Upkeep hellbound all game, making it impossible to ever charge him, should you manage to manufacture a charge range and lane.
-Get to end game and camp like a boss as a 15/24. 15/23 if he upkeeps hellbound and you manage to stop him getting any souls.

What you should do:
-Anything that enables you to whittle away his banes without offering anything valuable of yours in return
-Kill his bile thralls. All of them. Once they are all dead he can’t excarnate to make another one. Of course most good players wont let you get them all, but treat them like pokemon.
-Dont let him get a chance to feat on your caster. He can walk 6″, drop banes within 3″ and then they can charge 10″ (with tartarus). It’s a very long threat range. To avoid it, keep things around your caster that are just difficult enough to kill that he cant easily clear a path for more than one or two banes to get to your caster.
-When doing the above, keep SOMETHING that can kill Gaspy safe. 15/24 is a nasty thing to face when you have no heavies, if you’re trying to bait the feat, dont do it with all of the things you have that are a threat to him.

Star Player: Lich Lord Terminus

He has wings. This is important to note. Despite their skeletal appearance, they are apparently fully functional.

Most commonly seen with a metric tonne of dudes and generally one jack.

My recommendation: Keep your caster away from the giant guy with wings.

What he’ll do:
-The jack kills whatever can kill Terminus, or baits out what can kill Terminus, Terminus then kills it and everything else.
-Somewhere during the game Terminus will feat and get 4+ souls. Then he’s unkillable for that turn. Then he gets those souls as focus, and is unkillable for another turn.
-From the moment he feats, he is after your caster.

What you should do:
-Try not to sacrifice the things you have that can kill Terminus. Try very hard.
-attempt to wear away his army and dont offer him more than 4-5 living things he can kill each turn. This is important. If you see the oppurtunity to just smash away his Mcthralls or banes with (for example) a full unit of halberdiers or something….DONT TAKE IT. Yes you kill 10 guys, maybe you kill 20. Then he kills 10 halbs and goes to armour 32 or so and flies after your caster. Then he’s armour 32 AGAIN and unless you’re very lucky he kills your caster.
-wear down his army, kill his jack with something you can afford to lose (or tie it up) and bide your time. If you can get him to feat for 4 souls or so while you still have something capable of POW 20+, then he has to at least be a little bit careful and if you DO manage to make it through his feat, you can often get him the turn after the turn after his feat….
-The turn after his feat, get out of dodge. You want to be far enough away that not only can he not hit you, he also cant kill you with spells. Find a wall, set up a small fire behind it and break out the marshmallows.
-Remember that free strikes are not auto-kill. They are not even “possible-kill” if the target has ARM 30+, having a line of dudes, even weapon masters, between you and Terminus is no guarantee of safety.
-Remember that flying allows you to ignore line of sight for charging.


Star Player: Major Victoria Haley (eHaley)

Lost an arm, gained the best feat in the game. Fair Trade.11

Most commonly seen with (generally) a stormwall, gun mages and (currently) boomhowlers unless they’re in the opponent’s other list.

My recommendation: Take the blue pill.

What she’ll do:
-eHaley’s feat is absolutely game breaking under SR2012. No one can tell you how bad the feat is, you have to experience it for yourself.
-Understand that for one turn you will be able to do precisely nothing of real use. You wont be able to run, you wont be able to charge, you wont be able to attack (unless he lets you by putting something in range) and most importantly you will struggle to get in range to contest objectives.
-Her stormwall is a monster and has a threat range (charging) of 14″….with four focus and an extra attack from temporal acceleration.
-Deadeye makes gunmages horribly effective. Remember that they can see through stealth.
-She has telekinesis. combined with her feat she is a complete scenario monster.

What you should do:
-Win the roll to go first.
-Make sure she cant lock you out of the game with her feat and win on scenario. This is incredibly important.
-Run. Towards the objective. Screaming if it so takes your fancy. Do NOT end a turn with no models in range to WALK into the scenario zone.
-Tie up her gun mages with whatever you can get to them. Kill the rangers when you get the chance.
-Generally if you can get through her feat and get into melee with her army (plus still have something left that can kill the stormwall) you are a very good chance to win.
-She’s squishy. Watch for the chance to assassinate. Some casters have ways around the feat and some models also have ways to still be useful under it. Ask your best local players for any exceptions they know of that still do things under her feat from your faction. (the stonekeeper for circle can still teleport and throw a rockhammer under her feat for example)

Star Player: Captain Allister Caine

Unlike most ‘casters, his guns are not just for show.

Pretty popular at the moment since some guy won some stuff with him. Generally I’ve seen him with a bunch of different builds, they tend to be based around infantry with about 20 points worth of jacks. He has the gobber to reload him and a squire to give him an additional focus.

My recommendation: You don’t feel lucky. Punk.

What he’ll do:
-Get value out of his warcaster.
-Wait for a chance to either assassinate you (probably his first preference) or kill two heavies, or kill all your infantry.
On his feat turn he can put out up to 10 shots at rat 9, with each successive hit gaining a pow. anything killed will become center of an AOE that will kill infantry. He can clear infantry, he can clear heavies, he can kill casters.
-Use magic bullet to kill all your favourite solos.
-Use true shot to cut through your stealth models (beasts/jacks included if he feats)

What you should do:
-Never drop below 3 fury if you are within 20″ of him. Camp as much focus as you can afford to if you are within 20″ of him, or get yourself to defensive stats that make it very unlikely he can assassinate you. Be aware that if you are able to be knocked down, then your defence may not matter. Be further aware that even camping 3 as a warlock will not make you safe unless he’s missing a lot of shots. You are safer completely out of LOS and even safer if you are simply too far away from him to take the shots.
-He’s pretty squishy. So if you can get him in range for you to drop some blasts on him, while keeping him just close enough to your caster to make him think he’s got an assassination coming soon (so he doesnt feat), without actually being close enough to give him the assassination….you can burn some points off him which will make your serious assassination run a lot more likely.
-Throw something at him. Preferably something that belongs to him. Caine behind a wall is troubling. Caine lying down behind a wall is less problematic. People forget (often) that throws dont care about walls, dont care about blur etc. Once he’s lying down a LOT of stuff will kill him pretty comfortably.
-If he instead has heightened reflexes up, dont throw things at him.
-Kill his support solos. Reiholdt, the squire and junior in particular. Without those three he’s a lot less scary and a LOT easier to kill (arcane shield puts him up to respectable ARM)

Special note: If you are playing mercs, consider pMagnus and the hacksaw trick of deliberately knocking your own caster down each turn. That will make your Caine opponent quite sad.


Star Player: Ravyn, Eternal Light

That’s a mighty pokey stick you have there4

The “Snipe feat go” option is still pretty common and you need to at least play against it and see it done. The list (like almost every ret list) will have mage hunter strike force. God only knows how their military rank system works, perhaps you go from Eternal Light to Infinite Light, I think “Light-bringer” is probably taken.

My recommendation: Don’t activate her trap card

What she’ll do:
-If you give her the chance to snipe feat go, she will do so and kill your caster. If you deny her the chance to kill your caster, she can still use it to kill multiple jacks (the strike force does that pretty well with ‘jack hunter) though if you get her to do that, you’re probably in an ok position.12
-Bring a lot of ranged threats.
-Shoot you and everything you hold dear to pieces

What you should do:
-Ignore the following elements of her card: Vortex of destruction, locomotion, eliminator, veil of mists, quick work, virtuoso, thresher
-Do not ignore: Snipe, FEAT, the ‘g’ in gunfighter and the ‘o’ in quick work.
-Get a local retribution player to show you how snipe, feat, go works and give you a feel for it’s true threat range. Then get them to do it again.13

-Stealth makes the entire faction cry.
-Get blast damage into the mage hunter strike force(s), if you can cut them down by 4-5 members, you’re a good portion of the way to winning since her feat is less likely to kill you.
-Find a hill to stand on. Elevation is about the only thing that the Mage Hunters dont ignore (they ignore focus camp, they ignore spell bonuses and they ignore cover/concealment/camoflague) so it’s about all that can save you. They are RAT 6 with boosted attacks under her feat, so they’ll hit def 17 about half the time. If you can get to def 18 (base 16 plus a hill) you’re probably safe. If you are 15-16 you are probably dead.
-Engage her army as quickly as you can (while sprinkling aoe’s into her MHSF)
-Essentially if the gimmick doesnt get you, you should be able to win the game14 or at the very least be in it with a fighting chance. At the very minimum you’ll make the experienced Ravyn tournament player annoyed that he/she had to play all the way to turn three in order to beat you.

Alright, well that’s all I’ve got for you today, stay tuned for the Hordes section next week. Hope you enjoyed the read and it makes your first tournaments less shattering than my own!

1. The phrase “No means no” was first coined by Protectorate of Menoth players when asked repeatedly by their opponents whether they could shoot, blind, knock-down, cast spells or otherwise attack and/or harm the Protectorate player’s models.
2. Pro-tip: before launching an assassination on pIrusk, be sure the model you are about to attack is, in fact, pIrusk. If there is a dog standing next to a random infantry guy somewhere else on the table, you’re going to have a bad time.3
3. This can also apply to several other casters. In general, I’d recommend ensuring that your target is actually a warcaster before you commit your whole force to killing it, unless it’s Gorman….or Alexia.
4. It’s a trap
5. In large part due to one person who I’m apparently destined to play in every tournament that we attend. Since he switched to ret my incidence of “died to pIrusk” has reduced dramatically.7
6. The abilities of Menoth are apparently many and varied. Most of them involve saying No.
7. It is still significantly non-zero. Depressingly so.
8. Possibly not entirely fair9
9. It is entirely fair.
10. Unlike other Cryx casters…
11. Struck down and became more powerful than….wait a minute.
12. *probably* in this context implies that you are not in as bad a situation as, say, if your caster was dead.
13. Then feel bad when you walk right into a top of turn two assassination at your first major tournament…
14. Good Ravyn players are generally building their list to win the game without snipe,feat,go. It’s annoying to ‘beat’ the snipe feat go trap and realise that instead you fell directly into the fake-out and now you have no heavies….sigh.

Author: bobliness

I'm an Australian living in Houston, Texas, I started playing Warmachine/Hordes in March 2012 and I consider myself to be on a continuous learning curve that I'm not sure will ever end. I play for strategy and combinations, I am in no way a qualified hobbyist or painter though I admire those that are. No, I dont know Chunky, but the other five people that live in Australia tell me he's really swell.

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