A grind fest of a TempleCon game, but one of the ones I enjoyed the most. My opponent was playing a beautifully painted set of Mercs headed up by Ossrum and anchored by an Earthbreaker. This was my first time seeing an Earthbreaker across the table. I enjoyed listening to a recent podcast starring the colossal, but my secret fear was that it would give me nightmares like the OTHER. That is actual, for real, nightmares. I have had several starring Mercenary Colossals … they aren't great (the nightmares).
Here is what the Earthbreaker looked like:
I ran a Harbinger list I enjoy. I call it “Wristcutters, A Love Story”:
Avatar of Menoth
High Paladin Dartan Vilmon
Paladin of the Order of the Wall
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution
Covenant of Menoth
Vassal of Menoth
Exemplar Bastion Seneschal
Choir of Menoth (min)
I don't recall everything my opponent ran, but I will try to piece it together from a few scattered notes and some pictures. It was Ossrum, an Earthbreaker, Forgeguard (Hammer Dwarves), a cluster of spell casting guys, a jack I referred to in my notes as a “Bunny Jack”, and a couple other solos.
The match was on an open table, we rolled up a scenario and settled on Outflank. I have a special place in my heart for Outflank. It was the first scenario I ever played. And the first few times I played it, I did so badly. My strategy now is to jam up the center and disperse left and right, which seems to work well with my Menoth lists.
Harbinger wins initiative and elects to go first.
A well painted colossal is an intimidating thing to see across the table. A good model makes it even worse. Plus, the rest of his army was gorgeous in purple. He chose to deploy right of his center. There was a pile of rocks causing a bit of an issue on his center line.
Harbinger deployed centrally with a unit of Bastions on each side. The Avatar anchored the right flank and the Vanquisher anchored the left. The Book and the Seneschal joined Harbinger in the center and the Choir was stretched to the breaking point. A paladin took the left flank and Vilmon took the right. Eiryss deployed far right.
TURN 1: MENOTH
One of the largest challenges in this list is getting to the party. Bastions are slow and Harbinger does not do much to alleviate that problem. Yes, she can give them Crusader's Call and they can fail charges for 9” (one inch beyond their normal run), this also has the effect of taking them out of Martyrdom range … not that I am martyring Bastions at the bottom of 1, but I have been rocked by opponent's before and am wary. The Bastions settle in for a run to start getting them forward. The Choir sings Passage because there are guns on the other side of the table, but little to no magical weapons. This is one of those times when playing outside of your meta is a relief. The Avatar raises Gaze and runs. I like to raise Gaze even though I know it will not come into play. I have the focus to burn and I practice doing it enough that I am not likely to forget if my brain starts slipping (such as it tend to do after playing game after game for four days straight).
Since there is a dearth of magical weapons across the table, the Paladin and Vilmon advance and establish their Impervious Wall. The Book advances and bolsters everyone with No Knockdown/Stationary. Harbinger tucks forward eyeing the wall. The Vanquisher runs forward. It is going to be responsible for the left zone and the Avatar is going to anchor the right zone. The Bastions are going to split duty, all subject to change based on my opponent.
TURN 1: MERCS
The Mercs run forward, trying to cover as much ground as possible before Harbinger feats. The Colossal launches shots at the Bastions and manages to cover one of the units with rough terrain … that's not great. That is actually the worst thing ever. A Vassal takes some splash damage for two. The Bastions are only scratched a little, and the Seneschal will be able to patch them up. The Forgeguard (looks like Hammer Dwarves in the picture – so pretty – such a pita) move forward in their classic triangle formation. Some of the Merc forces head for the Avatar's zone, including a warjack. The threat range dance is about to begin.
TURN 2: MENOTH
The Harbinger has seen the range of the Earthbreaker and is less inclined to reach the wall. There is no Devout in this list, so she has to be more careful about getting shot. She also needs to keep Vilmon and the Paladin at the edges of her command range for martyring in case the Mercs can cough up some Magic. The Vanquisher gets a few focus and Harbinger camps the remainder. I screw up my order of activation a little here because the Vanquish activates and fires. It also gets an Ancillary from the Vassal. Between the two shots, two Dwarves dies and several are lit on fire. Unfortunately, Harbinger clears off the fire when she casts Purification. She advances to the point where she can hit a maximum range martyrdom on both the left and right zones and feats.
The Paladin advances into the left zone and again uses Impervious Wall. That Paladin no longer has any function but to double sac and stand in the zone like a jerk. Vilmon does the exact same thing to the right zone, effectively denying the possibility of a scenario win to my opponent. The Bastions on the right flank run into the zone in a group, putting pressure on the right side. The Bastions on the left flank sloooooowly crawl out of the rough terrain (Saxon, oh Saxon, wherefore art thou, Saxon?) and prepare to get bogged down again.
The Book advances to the wall … it loves having any sort of cover, and proclaims no knockdown. The Seneschal parks right beside the book. The Choir again signs the Hymn of Passage trying to deny my opponent as many vectors of attack as possible. The Avatar runs to the edge of the right zone. Eiryss advances to the edge of the terrain on the right. A piece of her base is just visible in the picture.
TURN 2: MERCS
Not much movement under feat, however, the bunny jack on the right flank slams the Avatar 7 inches backwards into Eiryss, killing her in a sticky pile of gore and knocking the Avatar down. A few more shots in on the bastions with the Earth colossal
Under Harbinger's feat, my opponent does not plan on accomplishing much beyond range shots. However … the bunny jack on the Avatar's side concocts a cruel plan. As if my opponent plays a lot of pool, he lines up a slam that perfect launches the Avatar back 7 inches directly into Eiryss. Eiryss is squashed like a bug on a windshield. It's gruesome. Definitely a sticky pile of goo. And, of course, the Avatar is knocked down because it is very far away from the Book. The Earthbreaker continues to try to dump shots into the Bastions, but barely scratches them. Sanguine Bond is distributing everything around, and they have forty boxes as a unit. It does manage to drop even more rough terrain, however.
Harbinger's feat turn has done what it is supposed to do … the Bastion's will get another turn of movement to gain the center of the board. My opponent passes turn with both zones contented by both armies.
TURN 3: MENOTH
And this is where my brief notes after the match run out. I played 18 games at TempleCon. I took pictures for all of them. I remember three very clearly. Let's see if pictures can be turned into words.
The Avatar gets several focus and shakes off knockdown and bits of bone and blood from the late Eiryss. Harbinger allocates a focus to the Vanquisher and camps a pile. The Choir activates and advance as best they can. The Vanquisher is in range for Passage, but the Avatar is not. One of the boys toes into the zone because why not. The Vanquisher pumps a shot into the support ranks at the edge of the left zone and manages to light several things on fire. The Paladin double sacs and goes to 21 Arm and Impervious Wall. Vilmon, on the other side is concerned about getting slammed around so he advances into the zone and raises Impervious Wall. The Harbinger activates and pulls one off the wrack. The only way the Bastions are ever going to get to the show is if she helps them. Fortunately she has a ready-made tool for the occasion. Crusader's Call to the rescue. It's time for the Bastions to start working on the Earthbreaker. The left flank Bastions charge/run and a few stick the landing. The right flank Bastions charge/run and spread out. One lucky Bastion sticks the charge and the rest attempt to foil access to the support staff. With scenario on lock-down, the main concern is to clear off the most threatening pieces (#1 – the Earthbreaker) and to protect that back ranks. The Avatar raises gaze and charges the bunny jack. The Book advances and calls for No Knockdown. The rest of the Bastions need to make it to the show and spending another turn stumbling and bumbling will put a damper in that.
TURN 3: MERCS
Fire delivers some pain and more of the Merc support staff falls. The Earthbreaker smashes and bashes on the Bastions, but at the end of the day only one of the falls. The bunny jack tries to scratch the Avatar. The Book allowing spells means that some of the Mercs can sneak into the zone and try to blast Vilmon with spells. He lives, barely, and Menoth sets its sites on the next threat to the scenario lock down. The remains of the hammer dwarves try to smack some Bastions around, but come up short. The Mercs are having a hard time cracking through Sanguine Bond, although the Seneschal does start to come under fire. Fortunately he is protected by the Harbinger.
TURN 4: MENOTH
The Harbinger allocates to the Vanquisher and the Avatar gets a full load of focus. The Vanquisher lobs more fire without much effect. Bastions go to work on the Earthbreaker and also sink a few charges into the back ranks of support. A pair of Bastions murder the spell casters who attacked Vilmon. The Earthbreaker manages to live through the attention of the Bastions, requiring the Seneschal to finish the deed. The Paladin advances to tie up the enemy guns in the center of the zone. The Avatar smites the bunny jack into pieces. Vilmon turns around and walks over to the other caster in the zone and puts him down. The Book switches back to no spells, because the enemy caster is close. At this point the Merc army has a few dwarves and some support remaining. The armies of Menoth have lost one Bastion and a Wrack. The right zone is clear, and Menoth scores the first control point.
SCORE: MENOTH 1, MERCS 0
TURN 4: MERCS
With the Book in shutdown mode and protected by Harbinger, there isn't much that can be done on the spell casting side of things. The Bastions are smashed around some, and are starting to creek, but they still have boxes to spare. The Paladin gets slammed backwards but lives. Something deviates into the choir boy near the Vanquisher, wiping him out. The Mercs are unable to contest the right zone again. Nothing but the lone choir boy dies on the Menoth side of things and Menoth scores another control point.
SCORE: MENOTH 2, MERCS 0
TURN 5: MENOTH
The Harbinger allocates focus to the Vanquisher. The Choir leader advances and sings Battle. The Vanquisher charges into the zone and threshers. The Paladin charges an enemy and puts it into the dirt. The Bastions clear the remaining enemies out of the left zone and dirt nap most of the rest of the Mercs. Harbinger activates and runs into the right zone. Menoth controls the left and dominates the right for three points and the victory.
SCORE: MENOTH 5, MERCS 0
VICTORY FOR MENOTH!!
Thoughts on the battle:
This was a fun one. Both armies were fully painted and it looked stellar. This was the first time I had faced an Earthbreaker, and I was nervous. Once I realized that my opponent had very few outs against double sacc'd Paladins, I knew I could take my time with the game because I was dictating the scenario. I set myself up for the slam that killed Eiryss and I need to be better about seeing that sort of thing in the future. Harbinger plus the 19 point Bastion package is still one of my favorite things in the faction. Unless I am facing something like Banes or Satyxis Raiders, it takes a ton of energy to chew through them. My opponent was never able to sink a ton of damage into them, and as a result both units remained mostly intact the entire battle. You can see in the final picture that the gold trim unit still had a few boxes to spare. I lost three models the entire time, a Bastion who got Earthbroken and a Wrack that exploded as they do, and an unlucky choir boy. Outflank remains one of my favorite scenarios.
Thanks for reading.