The Road to WTC (Part X+3): Locked….and Loaded (Part 4)

Huzzah!

Changing pictures is for chumps.

Alright this MUST be the last Lock ‘n’ Load one right?

Game 4, with the pressure removed due to losing game three (That was lucky!!) I feel that I perhaps played this game a little looser than I could have.

Fortunately it was against a friendly fellow that most know as “big deno”. An Australian no less!

He was playing Vlad 3, who I have played against once before….and that was before the release of the Russian murder-ponies. Which turned out to be important.

I asked which list he’d rather play against and he didn’t have a particular preference (neither of us were locked in), so I decided to play eMorv on the basis that I’d learn whether or not she matched up well against Vlad 3. Gotta learn somehow right?

Horses are so last year, gotta get yourself a bear, goat or chariot.

Horses are so last year, gotta get yourself a bear, goat or chariot.

So this became what I normally refer to (at least internally) as a “learning game”.

Generally I run into at least one learning game per tournament, any game where I’ve never played that specific matchup before, or where the list I’m facing contains elements that I’ve never seen used in/with it before….the game becomes about not dying and learning.

If you learn fast enough, you win the game. If you don’t learn fast enough…then hopefully you win it the next time around.1

I guess some people hold to the belief that the top players have everything in the game memorized and have played a thousand games, seen every matchup and know how each scenario will affect the game before it starts.
Perhaps some of the players, better than I3, do have that sort of level of knowledge. Personally I get by on:
1. Knowing my own army as well as I can, including as many little random tricks and tools as possible. Even if they only come up one in every hundred games.
2. Knowing the general rules of the game as well as I can, including the rules that are only on a few models (arcane vortex for example)
3. Trying to remember to read the card of my opponents warcaster/warlock at the start of each match.
4. Having a general plan for each of my lists in each of the scenarios4

The rest is pretty much made up on the spot as the game progresses, with varying success. As I play more games, I notice more patterns in the way games play out from various positions and I can more rapidly choose which options are likely to result in a win.

In learning games I generally burn a lot of clock. Unlike in other games where I merely burn a lot of clock. You can probably guess where this is going to end.

He was playing Vlad 3 with armoured ponies and freezing ponies.6 He also had full normal IFP and the…well I was going to call him lord of the ponies but:
A) He’s not that great, as Cavalry solos go.7
B) Vlad is quite literally the horselord….which really takes it out of the options.

Baron Pony
So…Baron Pony?8

I believe there were some solos in there, widowmakers and a Juggernaught, you should probably go chase down his battle reports and his Video-blog-diary thing which was both musing, and amusing.

Anywho, he went first, the scenario was out-chirboga (also known as mosh-balls) and he setup with IFP central left (from my perspective), Uhlans just to the left of them riding the Chiriboga and cold-ponies just to the right. Vlad himself and his jack were central, perhaps slightly left.

I setup with my bloodpack opposite the cold-ponies, my skinwalkers slightly biased towards the side of the armour-ponies and my bloodtrackers front and center. Fairly standard setup that varies mostly based on terrain (where there’s a forest for the bloodpack) and what I think I most want the bloodpack shooting at. In this case I wanted them shooting at the cold-ponies (ARM 14!) even though they’d need very high rolls to hit them, because I figured I’d be able to hit maybe one or two with shooting and then if they ever came close enough I’d be able to charge a couple.

I have to admit to forgetting about the true effectiveness of hand of fate.

I went second and came too far forward (that’s learning number one) opposite the cold-ponies. The rest of my movement was ok, his army out-threats mine melee-wise, not a lot I could do about that, but I figured I could let the IFP come into me, then kill a bunch of them, lose a bunch more stuff to the Uhlans behind them, then get to kill some Uhlans and feat back enough stuff to make it very hard for him to re-clear my army.

I’m not 100% clear on the turn-ordering at this point so I’m going to do away with it and recall the game as best I can in terms of what happened…not so much when.

Essentially the game broke into two hemispheres5:
On the left he had IFP, Uhlans, solos, Vlad and Jack threatening (and taking) that zone, against which I had the Skinwalkers and most of the bloodtrackers.
On the right he had the cold-ponies, widowmakers and a solo or two against which I had the bloodpack and the remaining trackers. My stalker and Morvhana herself were in reserve and able to get to either side (one because of her movement and arc nodes, the other because of stones).

So the right hand side saw the cold-ponies do a number on my bloodpack and bloodtrackers. Hand of fate skewed the dice (He did roll *fairly* well) and a bunch of stuff died that I wasnt really expecting.

Oh, so that's what those guys do. Learning.

Oh, so that’s what those guys do. Learning.

Mostly the dead bloodtrackers were the unpleasant surprise. My bloodpack have been star performers in plan take it in the face for so long that I’m used to seeing some of them die early…in fact it’s kind of handy given their use on the feat.
In retaliation the bloodpack killed a couple of ponies and tied up the rest (assault and battery has that effect) and eventually cleared them all. By the end of the game that side of the table had seen all the widowmakers die along with the solos and all the ponies. I dominated this zone later in the game.

On the left side things went considerably worse for me. The IFP came crashing in since I’d misjudged their threat range (thanks dash!) and they claimed a skin walker on the front line, mini-feated to reform further forward and effectively jammed the hell out of me. Dash plus charge plus mini-feat puts those guys a LONG way up the board and in shield wall. Not ideal.
Behind them were of course the Uhlans.
Courtesy of the damage done early by the cold-ponies, I was short on bloodtrackers for my retaliation and though I killed a lot of the IFP and put some damage elsewhere, I wasnt able to clear them, leaving a couple alive in very unpleasant places.
He’d also gained very early control of the zone on that side of the table, allowing him to get early scenario points.
Critically in the following turn he managed to use Uhlans to clear the path and then got IFP into my final remaining skinwalker, clearing the unit before my feat2:. That’s not something that happens particularly often, but when it does it can be game-changing.

We'll be back!! Oh.

We’ll be back!! Oh.

As a result of the absence of skinwalkers(And the scenario pressure with not much available to really contest) I was forced to commit the stalker and jam the zone with bloodtrackers.
He feated to clear the zone and went to three points.

In response I feated back everything that I could into the zone, cleared the other zone and scored two points.

I believe he cleared the zone, getting to four points and leaving me with no option but to assassinate.

Unfortunately (or fortunately from his perspective) I was down to two bloodtrackers and five or so bloodpack available to try and kill Vlad in a forest camping 1.

I fell short, but in the middle of doing so my clock expired, surprising both of us.

So, it was a learning game….what did I learn?

1. I have to play my Morv2 list aggressively against lists that have a method for clearing infantry fast….even though it feels awful to push up into that kind of death. If I dont, then I end up under extreme scenario pressure later in the game.
2. Too many games where the threat of losing an entire unit was not present has left me potentially complacent when that threat rears it’s ugly head. I didn’t see it coming in this match and it cost me dearly.
3. Vlad three is a solid caster and I need to seek a few more games against him to get used to his play. I needed to be prepared for hand of fate on the cold-ponies and I wasnt. That also cost me.
4. The clock continues to be an issue. In this case I was going to lose the game one way or the other, getting there faster would not have given me time to dig my way out, I used that time trying to dig my way out and it failed. That said, I really do need to work on not running my clock down in the middle stages of every game.
5. Mosh-balls is a live scenario. I’ve played it a lot of times and the scenario continues to be a large factor, despite the fact that it’s not possible to score 3 points in a turn. I need to be more conscious of this scenario when setting up for it.


1 Or plan shovel bails you out at the last minute.
2 He may or may not have also yelled “How you like me now?” at this point. Which is fair since I’d been saying “morvhana heals a point, she’s full” for about half an hour at that stage.
3 And it has to be said that “better than I” accounts for a distressingly large portion of the player base.
4 I really do mean “general” plan. Can it credibly win this scenario. If yes….try to do that. If no….ummm.
5 Not at all accurate since there are no spheres or hemispheres involved, but rather than change the wording into, say, two regions, or zones or something…I’m just going to instead put this note here to say yes, I’m aware it’s the wrong word for this application and no, I’m not going to change it…and yes I’m instead going to spend all this time writing a paragraph long footnote about it. You’re welcome.
6 I’m beginning to think that My Little Pony references are only just over the horizon. There’s no flying cavalry in the game yet, so that rules out the one that flies around and is irritating. I dont think there’s any female cavalry in the ga…wait, daughters on ponies exist. Hmmmm.
7 He’s actually not even the best Cavalry solo IN FACTION. Which is odd…but not as odd as the fact that he may not even be the second best. Seriously, what kind of faction needs three cavalry solos?10
8 He’s red at least, which works with Baron.
9 Dammit I need to report on a game against someone running fenris. Crazy-horse is a wicked nickname for that guy.
10 Answer: One with a Horselord I guess, I mean he’d look kind of stupid in a faction without horses. 9

 

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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