The Road to WTC (Part X): Locked….and Loaded (Part 1)17

Huzzah!

OH MY GOD THEY HAD SPELLDRAFT??! THAT’S THE TOURNAMENT TO WIN!

So again I have decided to change my plan1 and instead of the planned series of articles I’m going to try and report on my Lock and Load experience.
Specifically my four games in the Iron Gauntlet.

I really would like to do something a little different with my battle reports, so I’ll be looking for feedback on them afterwards. 9
The majority of battle reports focus on getting a more accurate, more precise report of the game played, to allow the reader to “play along” in their head.4.

My aim is to distil my battle reports down into something that gives the reader the same benefits that I gained from playing the game, focusing on the thinking and planning rather than delivering a complete play by play.

So first I’ll give you the background and an apology. I didn’t end up playing double circle, as was my stated intent. I succumbed to the lure of playing eLich and eMorvhana in the same tournament and it was amazing.

How could I have ever thought I wouldn't do this?

How could I have ever thought I wouldn’t do this?

I did this primarily because it was the only time I was ever going to get to (they are changing the format) and secondly because eLich covers eMorvhana’s bad matchups (primarily cryx) very well, if you build him for that purpose.

So I set about making an eLich list that could be depended on to play the mirror, knowing that it was very likely that if I ran into the mirror it would be a much more experienced Lich player on the other side and that I would need every edge I could find.

The list I settled on was:

-6 Lich Lord Asphyxious3.
4 Nightwretch
4 Nightwretch
1 Necrotech and Scrap Thrall22.
10 Max Bane Knights
9 Max Blackbanes Ghost Raiders
5 Min Bane Thralls
5 Min Bile Thralls
1 Skarlock Commander
5 The Withershadow Combine
4 Bane Lord Tartarus
2 Captain Rengrave
2 Gorman
2 Saxon
2 Warwitch Siren

Specialists:
4 Min Satyxis Blood Witches
2 Hag
4 Darragh Wraithe

So this list contains only three living models, no satyxis in the main list. The three that do exist are all stealth and can hang back easily. That makes it almost impossible for an enemy eGaspy to get an excarnate off.

But still, he’s probably going to have bile thralls, which really just makes it a stand-off. Worse than a stand-off if the other gaspy has Darragh Wraithe in his main list…if only there were something that didnt care about purge…

Purges tickle!

Purges tickles!

Enter the Blackbanes!
Incorporeal means that my front-line can be further up than his front-line….because mine is purge-immune!

Fortunately blackbanes are also one of my favourite Cryx units and they turn back the clock on the Lich’s feat, restoring unto him the glory that was incorporeal models from his feat.15

Unfortunately the blackbanes struggle to hit the side of a barn with their flaming scimitars10 so that brings in Captain Rengrave.

Guys, over there. No seriously...Oh for Toruk's sake somebody just kill me.

Guys, over there. No seriously…Oh for Toruk’s sake somebody just kill me.

His Veteran Leader ability is solid as long as you can find a hill for him to stand on and keep him alive13 until your feat turn.

This list pairs well with my eMorvhana list since the Lich is perfectly solid against ARM bricks of any sort and built to be good in the mirror. My eMorvhana list is my generally preferred list so it takes almost every other opposing list that I can run into:

-5 Morvhana the DawnShadow

10 Warpwolf Stalker
4 Gorax
8 Max Tharn Bloodtrackers
2 Nuala the Huntress
10 Max Tharn Bloodpack
8 Max Warpborn Skinwalkers
3 Warpborn Alpha
2 Shifting Stones
1 Stone Keeper
2 Gallows Grove x 2
2 Viktor Pendrake
3 Witch Doctor Croc

Which I’ve written about on the Privateer Press boards a few times and spoken to countless people about through either PM or in person. It’s a list I really like to play and it matches up very well against a lot of things. If you happen to want to know how it works or to try it out, you can buy it from the Discount games store as a bundle….or at least you will be able to soon.

So I entered the tournament with one list for a specific matchup and one list for all the others.

I also entered with a base-coated skarlock commander and no front arcs on a bunch of my models….I’d bought it all with me (paints and brushes and stuff) with the intent of getting it done on either Friday or Saturday…but then I got dragged into Spell Draft and Who’s the Boss and….well I forgot.

So I’m sitting, with a half hour to the event start, painting stuff. That didnt particularly impress Mr. Hungerford, but fortunately some random guy named Watt, who’s apparently pretty handy with a paint brush took pity on me and speed painted the hell out of my Skarlock Commander! He deserves a massive shoutout.

Paint's like a boss, play's like a champ.

Paint’s like a boss, play’s like a champ.

I was able to finish up the bases (I finished the last ones at the table before the game….

Anyone want to guess what my first matchup was??

So I sat down against Jordan, who had eLich and pKreoss as his two lists. He’s a Cryx player who I’ve met in a few tournaments before, we always have good games and I was in a good mood so I was looking forward to another.

Playing eMorv/eLich into eLich/pKreoss I had to drop Lich since pKreoss is probably one of morvhana’s least favourite protectorate matchups18 and Lich is definately one of her least favourite matches in the game.

So since I’d only played Lich about 8 times prior to the tournament and I’d never played him against protectorate at all, I was really hoping he’d drop Lich. Fortunately he did.

The scenario was Balance of Power (One zone, control for 1, dominate for 2, two flags…dominate your own to reduce opponents score by 1 before they score, control the opponents flag for a point, dominate it for 2….I think.) which is commonly hailed as an ‘unwinnable’ scenario.

Fortunately the day before (during masters which I didnt get to play in14) I had spent a bit of time watching a couple of games on this scenario. Both of which were decided by scenario.

The critical element to winning this scenario is getting solos of your own to the opponents flag. In both the games I saw the player was able to score their opponents flag because their opponent had their caster there dominating it…but no other models within 4″. Since the caster does not contest, as soon as a solo gets there it becomes a point for controlling to the solo’s player.

Either Jordan won and went first or I won the roll and went second…either way, he led the game off.

The table looked something like this:

The tables have turned, Avatar!

The tables have turned, Avatar!

It also looked a little like this:

That really didn't work out as well as I hoped.

That really didn’t work out as well as I hoped.

He set up to throw some scrap thralls down the Chiriboga6 towards my flag and I sent my own scrap thrall down the opposite Chiriboga with my warwitch siren and one arc node to contest his.
He had to keep his satyxis out of the game completely to prevent purges, so he was essentially playing 8 points down. 5 That shaped his options and I think was a contributing factor to him wanting to kill off my guys early and shaped the first critical decision:

The first critical decision came on his turn two after we’d both essentially run. He chose to land a huge death knell for 7 dead banes (5 knights, 2 thralls) rather than cloud up. In my corresponding turn I instead went with clouds to restrict his access to the zone (I was playing purely for scenario and he was looking to wipe me out) and in the end that may have been a very big part of what decided the game.

I think the critical part here is that I was sure the scenario was live, while I think Jordan felt it was pretty much a non-issue. As a result he was setting up to dominate attrition while I was trying hard to setup a scenario advantage that I hoped to ride to victory.

In retaliation for his deathknell I took out his arc node with a series of purges (through my own blackbanes) and then a couple of blackbane charges. I cleaned up his three scrap thralls, removing his threat to my flag and then pushed up on the scenario, setting up clouds to restrict his ability to purge in return (two clouds block the bile thralls pretty effectively and the third cloud restricted access to the zone) I controlled the zone for one point at the end of turn two.

In his turn he set up to dominate his flag, reducing me to zero, while repositioning and purging out the few models (three or four blackbanes that had to make attacks the preceding turn to clear the arc node and a bane or two from the zone) he can reach. He gets a few knights into the zone.

My turn three I purged to clear the zone along with my remaining knights moving in to clear a couple of bits and bobs. My tartarus with a couple of banes as support and his evil2 twin, with a couple of banes for support duke it out for a couple of turns essentially fighting to a nil-all draw.
I decided to feat earlier than him, using it to clear his other arc node, tartarus and a couple of other dudes. I put five feat models into admonia and fail to hit her.
My scrap thrall runs up his Chiriboga to be within 12″ of the flag. I’m on zero at the start of this turn and the reduction happens before scoring, so there’s no point in contesting at this stage. I dominate to go to 2 points.

He dominated the flag to put me back down to one point and moved Darragh Wraithe into the very edge of the zone to hold my scoring down.

The hardest four points in the game to kill.

The hardest four points in the game to kill.

He was doing his best to finish off my bile thralls (he’d been trying all game) so that his witches could join the game….but the Skarlock Commander was behind a wall and proved completely impossible for him to kill. This was incredibly important going into the late game, keeping my purge options alive. Meanwhile he began to move the witches up since they had to join the game or he was going to struggle to maintain any presence, his bane thralls had been largely locked out of the game by clouds and were being whittled down by purges.

I got a purge off courtesy of the witches, but despite all my efforts (two withershadow shots, a skarlock commander shot, saxon, two purges) I couldnt kill Darragh. My scrap thrall finally realized his full potential, running to the flag and controlling it for one point, taking me back up to 2 points.

He feated in retaliation, missing 8 of his 10 feat attacks, 5 of which were on my Skarlock Commander (Yay for a DEF 14 Bile thrall!!)which left him in a very bad way. I was still able to threaten the excarnate-into-purge, which really left him with no way to stop me from clearing the zone over and over again.

They call ME commander. They call YOU purge-bait.

They call ME commander. They call YOU purge-bait.

The game sped up at this point and I continued to run models to as close to the flag as I could, while clearing the zone to keep my scoring.
It ended when his bloodwitches, having run into the zone, broke on a terror check and left me able to dominate to get to 5 points and close it out.

Overall I was very happy with the game and felt like it had vindicated my list construction.

I took the following Points from it (This is the TLDR summary of what to learn):
1. Balance of Power IS a live scenario. The key to winning it is the opponents flag.
2. The Gaspy2 mirror is decided (often) by who has the least living models, moreso than who is actually the better player of Gaspy.
3. The Skarlock Commander is 100% worth it with Gaspy2 as a bile thrall UA.
4. Theorymachine and building for specific matchups is definately worth doing. It doesnt pay-off every tournament, but it can give you a really good head-start when it does.
5 Captain Rengrave is definately worth it if you’re playing Blackbanes. There are a lot of hills in games, getting good at finding ways to gain the effects of Veteran Leader from all over the board is 100% worth the effort.

Please, as usual, let me know what you thought of this, and all the other, articles in the forum thread:

 

Also:
I’m doing these articles as part of the effort to raise awareness/participation in the WTC teams. If, when we get to the fund-raising section of things, you enjoyed these articles, please find a few dollars. These bloody things take a lot more effort to put together and post than you’d think.

Certainly a lot more than I thought anyway. Maybe you think I have to code it from the ground up, in which case you’re probably quite amazed I can get out more than one a year. You are correct. Please contribute accordingly.


1 I’m not 100% great at planning…or following the plan.7
2 Evil…er? I guess?
3 Because Lich needs 6 warjack points. You know it makes sense, it balances him against things like, say, Mohsar who gets 5. I mean 6 would be OP.
4 Which is really good when it works well and is kind of like listening to a four year old relate a long story about their day when it’s done badly.
5 The mark of a great player is the ability to win games when you’re 8 points up from the very beginning…honest.
6 You’ll have to work that out for yourself. From hence forth (whenever I remember) I’m using Chiriboga in place of another English word that gets used a fair bit in Warmachine. It’s going to get a LOT more use now.
7 This was evident in game three of the iron gauntlet when I looked at a model and went “who’s that” (Answer: Anastacia) which I then spent a good few minutes saying “Ok, gotta make sure espionage doesnt happen. That’s goal number one.” No points for guessing what happened on turn three. Plan. Executed.
8 Can you lose your deposit on the pipe? I mean if you ding it up or some bastard scratches it when you’ve parked it in the parking lot at the local walmart do you have to bring it back and say “Hey, I’m sorry man but this guy just wasnt looking and he totalled my pipe. Can I rent another?”
Is there insurance you can take out??
9 Plus, in case none of you know, there’s a “friendly” competition among the article writers for comments. By friendly I mean we deliberately log in and edit each others arti….COLIN IS A BIG FAT STUPID HEAD AND YOU HATE HIS ARTICLES MATH ARTICLES ARE MUCH BETTER YOU SHOULD READ TONY’S ARTICLES….THAT GUY IS AWESOME. HE ALSO HAS BETTER FOOTNOTES.
10 I mean when they DO hit it they set it on fire, which is pretty handy if you’re objective is destroying barns. Though to be honest if I were setting out to destroy barns I’m not sure I’d go with incorporeal ghost pirates with flaming swords. I guess you go with what you’ve got though and it’s certainly better than trying to break the barn yourself with a spoon.12
11 I’m completely unclear on what constitutes a tractor in this country. Seriously you guys are completely inconsistent on whether it’s a tractor, an excavator, a bulldozer….we have all these different names for a reason, yet you just call them all tractor. It’s maddening. I bet if I did have a tractor rental there’d be hundreds of disappointed customers out front going “he doesnt even have tractors, can you believe it? I mean he’s got tractors…but what the hell do I want with a tractor? I mean I need a serious tractor, you know what I’m saying?
12 But then again, why are you using a spoon? I mean for a modest outlay of probably around $500 you could get yourself some kind of excavator from your local “bob’s tractor rental” 16 which will get the job done far more effectively AND you get to drive a tractor11
13 Or at least no more dead than he is at the start of the game. Dammit zombies make idiom confusing.
14 I mean everyone else who didnt get to play in spelldraft played in it. Once spell draft filled up there was a total rush to fill up masters.
15 Seriously, how did anyone ever think that was fair? I mean if you try playing that feat as it used to be it’s practically impossible to envisage a world where you lose…oh wait, pHaley.
16 I mean you’re in an area with a barn, chances are there’s a tractor rental place around. I am always amazed by the kind of stuff you can rent when you’re in rural areas. I drove past a billboard advertising specifically the ability to rent 8″ diameter aluminium pipe. I mean honestly, that’s pretty specific for a billboard right? Do they even have other sizes? Is there a company that JUST rents (not sells…rents!) 8″ Aluminium (no steel for you!) pipe? If so, how do you even get into that business? Is there a qualification for an 8″ aluminium pipe rental specialist?8
17 These titles are getting a little confusing. I’m going to start using sub-headers I think.
18 Unless you bring sentry stones. No, seriously that’s actually what you need to bring if you want to play her against pKreoss.
21 DANGER ZONE! Am I right? Really I could have just written “Banes” on the whole damn table and it would have communicated the general idea. I might have had to add (black) in front of an instance or two. Also congratulations, you even found that one!
22 The necrotech is a floating point. In a non-specialist environment he could easily be an upgrade to one of the arc nodes (to a defiler for example), but in general I really like having one for the ability to repair an arc node when some random POW 10 shot blows it off your chicken. Also, the scrap thrall is 100% useful every game. Scenarios really make scrap thralls under-costed…especially when they are free!

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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