Monday, October 6, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: The Harbinger of Menoth vs. Kommandant Irusk

I played in a friendly round robin tournament last week while vacationing with some friends. The structure of the tournament was a two list SR 2014 setup where we tried to play everyone else once over the course of the vacation. I think we each got in about three games. There were five of us:

Protectorate of Menoth (Harbinger/Reznik2)
Trollblood (Madrak1/Gunnbjorn)
Khador (Sorscha2/Irusk1)
Circle Orboros (Morvahnna2/Kreugar2)
Circle Orboros (Grayle/Baldur1)

I was most concerned with my Circle matchups (I never did get to face off against the Grayle theme list). I didn't know the caster matchups ahead of time, but I knew what factions were going to be there. So I built an anti-hordes Harbinger list and an everything else Reznik2 list.

- Hierophant
- Reckoner
Tristan Durant
- Redeemer
Exemplar Bastion Seneschal
- Dervish
Orin Midwinter
Madelyn Corbeau
Knights Exemplar Seneschal
Choir of Menoth (min)
Exemplar Bastions (max)
Exemplar Bastions (max)

- Hierophant
- Reckoner
Avatar of Menoth
Kell Bailoch
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution
The Covenant of Menoth
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord
Choir of Menoth (min)
Temple Flameguard (max)
- Temple Flameguard Officer & Standard
Idrian Skirmishers (max)
- Idrian Skirmisher Chieftain & Guide

This is the report from my Khador vs Menoth match. Here are the lists I was facing:

- Sylys
- Behemoth
Kovnik Joe
Iron Fang Kovnik
Great Bears of Gallowswood
Iron Fang Pikemen (max)
- Black Dragon UA
Aiyana & Holt

Irusk1 (Tier 4 of Advance Assault Force)
- Devastator
- Kodiak
Iron Fang Kovnik
Iron Fang Kovnik
Man-o-War Drakhun
Man-O-War Shocktroopers (min)
Man-O-War Shocktroopers (min)
Iron Fang Pikemen (max)
- Black Dragon UA
Iron Fang Pikemen (max)
- Black Dragon UA

Tier Benefits:
Devastators and Spriggans cost 1 less, +1 to starting roll, Man-O-War units get Advance Move, Deployment Zone is +2"


I had the Covenant in my lists to defend against Sorscha1 and an expected nasty Ocean's style Freezing Grip list. I … misread his lists and confused Sorscha2 for Sorscha1. So I expected him to drop Irusk1 … why would you walk into a matchup that could nullify your main attack route (Book vs Stationary). Thinking about Irusk1 and all that armor, I didn't feel like my Reznik2 list could crack it, so I dropped Harbinger. On his end of things, he had wanted to play his Irusk1 list against me for several weeks although Harbinger might be a rough match for him. The way I had been chatting implied that my Harbinger list was for my Hordes matches, which meant there was a good chance I was going to drop Reznik2. With all that in mind he dropped Irusk1.


The scenario was Outflank. I enjoy Outflank. I have played it a lot, especially with Harbinger + double Bastions. Menoth won initiative and I selected player 2 and the side of the board with a linear obstacle very near one of the zones. Khador deployed in a line with his Manowars on his right backed up by a unit of IFP and the Kodiak. On the left he deployed a unit of IFP and the Devastator. Irusk started central.

I offset Harbinger to my right, opposite the Devastator deployment and near the obstacle I wanted. The Bastions arrayed in a line, backed up by my jacks and support. The Dervish was deployed right in front of Harbinger. Nicia is 0" into the forest in the AD zone.


The Manowars completed their advance move and then shield walled and marched up the field in two three-man ranks. The silver IFP shield marched and formed some sort of parade column to usher the Devastator into the mix like a boxing champion. In prior games, I had seen this Devastator bunker in a zone and get left alone. I was not going to let that happen, plus it was headed for my caster. The black IFP shield marched into three-man units and backed up the Manowar Shocktroopers. The Kodiak and the Dragoon advanced. Irusk looked on impassively … like he does.


There are two primary ways to defeat Harbinger. One is to exploit her use of Martyrdom - get her into the red zone and then get a clean shot on her and she falls. The Bastion package and the Hierophant should be enough to minimize that angle. The second avenue is to capitalize on her low defense. The question I ask myself with this list is: can I play 4 points down to keep her in cover the entire time?

My opening gambit is to run my Dervish forward towards the linear obstacle. Then one group of Bastions gets a charge/run. They keep the lane clear for Harbinger while three of them trash the Dervish from behind. Wreck marker established, I activate the Hierophant and Exultate. Harbinger Feats, casts Crusader's Call, pulls off the Wrack, and charges the enemy line. Without Pathfinder she stops once she hits the wreck. Good enough for this turn.

The other Bastions charge. The choir sings Hymn of Battle on the Redeemer and Reckoner. The Reckoner Assaults a Manowar, boosting to hit and damage, and removes him from the table. The Redeemer advances and shoots another Manowar (this time not benefiting from Shield Wall), boost to hit, boost damage and a second Shocktrooper falls. Tristan drops Fortify, Orin slides forward and says No Spells, and Madelyn runs base to base with Harbinger ... now rocking an 11" Awe and Martyrdom.


(pictures are going to be scarce, I'll diagram where necessary)

With Harbinger on Feat turn, Khador isn't going to go very far. The Devastator advances into the zone, some things move in the far background and everything shield walls again. Irusk puts up inhospitable ground, blunting any thoughts of a Bastion charge. Turn passes back to Menoth.

My goal this turn is to engage as best I can, limit access to Harbinger, and clear out more Shocktroopers before they can really slam into my line. Plus I want to keep the Zones occupied. The feat bought me a little time before the arrival of endless IFP spearman.

Tristan allocations three to the Redeemer, Harbinger allocates three to the Reckoner. Hierophant exultates Harbinger. Harbinger forgets to cast Purification (to clear Iron Flesh). Instead she pulls off the Wrack and puts Fear of God into the Devastator … I don't want to get hit with the crazy Rain of Death. Harbinger puts out Crusader's Call and camps the rest.

The Bastions charge the Manowars! And don't get very far before Inhospitable Ground stops them cold. The other Bastions charge the Devastator. And do some damage! Only two get charges, unfortunately. The rest garbage up the charge and trample lanes, impeding access to Harbinger. At this point, my main strategy is to tie everything down while my weapon masters slowly dismantle the enemy. I am focused on denying access to Harbinger while at the same time keeping both zones contested. Between them Reckoner and the Redeemer take out a few more Manowars, leaving one gray and two red on the table. Nicia bides her time touching the forest. When the IFP arrive, she will be ready. Meanwhile, the KES switches field. I need to make sure that if my Bastions meet a sticky end, I can contest the zone for a turn. There is an awesome spot about 25 mm across where a small base can toe both the mountain and the zone. Orin heads that way too, because Irusk is the only source of spell activity on the other side of the field and he is camping out in the forest behind Zone 1.



Irusk keeps Iron Flesh going, but is too far away to allocate to the Devastator. Instead he hands out Battle Lust and Feats. The Silver IFP charge in on the Bastions, the Black IFP Shield March up the field. The Shock Troopers charge their Bastion counterparts. There are a flurry of blow and a number of misses. Awe is in effect and a few Manowars are even being double dipped because of Ashen Veil. Harbinger martyrs down to four and in the end only allows one Bastion to fall.

On Menoth's turn, the Hierophant needs to heal Harbinger and Harby herself is considering how much of her stack she can spend to recover boxes. The Bastions are engaged but there is another line of IFP heading in. Harbinger drops Fear of God from the Devastator, it needs to go on the black IFP. Nicia gets an intrigue move from Madelyn and lines up an attack. Harbinger sinks the Fear of God into the IFP and throws out a few Guided Hands. She heals and is camping very lightly.

Nicia kills a Silver IFP and sprints away. It took both swings because of tough, which the silver IFP got because of clever placement of one model. The red Bastions smash the Devastator hard and take out one more silver IFP. The gold Bastions and the Reckoner clear up the front line, taking out all three remaining Shocktroopers and a pair of black IFP that made it to the fight. When the red Bastions moved to attack, the Dragoon counter-charged. It failed to take out the Bastion. In reply, the Redeemer focused the Dragoon down and it failed to make a tough check. Orin pushed into range of Irusk with no spells and the KES made a very daring run for the edge of the forest.


Irusk manages to back out of Orin's null magic zone and drop an Air Burst on the KES. Alas. I should have pushed Orin deeper and been a little less zany with the KES. He doesn't even contest the zone nor is he in range to get healed by anything, poor play on my part all the way around. The black IFP advance under Battle Lust, sad that they can't get any orders because of Fear of God. Under Awe they manage to force some more Martyrdom and I choose to let one of my Bastions on the end of the line go. I probably should have kept it in play since they are a very limited resource and are starting to creak under the Khador attack line. However, I needed the lane clear for my next turn and was a little tired of hitting the danger zone with Harbinger every turn.

The remaining silver IFP pushed in and tried to cause a ruckus. The Devastator applied some damage to the red Bastions who were almost all hanging by a thread when he finished. The Kodiak steps between the line of battle and Irusk and puts up a cloud. Prior to that the Redeemer could see him, but the cloud shut down the only sub 3" line into the forest. Hoping the Bastions will only get one more turn before the back ranks are open and available, Khador passes turn.

Harbinger needs to get some work done this turn. She had to martyr and is hovering just above the danger zone. Next turn the chips might just lay where they lay. There are still a ton of IFP on the board, even though half of them are ensorcelled. Fear of God gets upkept, the KES meets his creator. Nicia gets another intrigue move and lines up directly behind an IFP. Harbinger loads up the Reckoner, Tristan loads up the Redeemer. Orin cracks his knuckles.

Harbinger cataclysms out a chunk of IFP with some good dice. The red Bastions slash and chop at the Devastator but leave it on a few boxes. Big Brother makes an appearance and finishes off the jack. The Redeemer takes shots at the remaining silver IFP because the black IFP are spread out. He drops one and puts boxes on the officer. Then Nica gets her points. She charges in and cuts down a pair of IFP and shoots the officer dead. Then she sprints for safety, ready to do it again next turn.

The gold Bastions clear out enough of the front line to give the Reckoner his lane. The Reckoner assaults the Kodiak. The assault damage isn't much … then I say those accursed fateful words on the charge attack: "Anything but snakes…" … and roll snakes. Well, averages were bound to come knocking eventually. I had certainly been rolling above average on my Bastion vs. Devastator damage swings (what is a "3"? I have heard of them, but I can't seem to roll lower than the very occasional "4"). I spend the rest of my focus swinging and smashing in a bit of a gloomy spin, worried. I am about to lose my only heavy and my Bastions are cracking. But in the end, I crack the cortex and leave it on a pittance of boxes. Both arms are functional, however, and it has smash and grab. WIth that in mind, I still manage to place Orin in the dumbest place possible. Obviously at this point, my brain had fled the building.

As it stands now, the Devastator is gone. Nicia is shredding IFP at will. The both Bastion groups are starting to crack. Harbinger is about to stop any Martyrdoms from leaving the station. The KES was thrown away. Orin is forcing Irusk to advance to the rear to cast. The Kodiak is -right there- but has no cortex. The Reckoner is threatening, but is out in the breeze just a bit. The second group of IFP are under Fear of God, but there are still about half of the unit left. It is looking dicey for Khador. If I can keep anything from reaching through to Harbinger and keep the zones contested, I should be able to clear everything up in a turn or two. In the pic below, there are two blue medium bases representing Bastions. It turns out Bastion halberds and IFP pikes do not get along.

TURN 5 (no pictures, sorry)

The remains of the silver IFP charge in against the Bastions. Between Awe, Sanguine Bond, and my last pre-danger zone Martyrdom, there are just enough damage boxes to keep everything on the table. The black IFP, still unable to charge, advance and do poorly against the significantly healthier Bastions on their side of the field. The Kodiak manages to hit the Reckoner twice and then throws it with Chain Attack Smash and Grab. I thought my opponent was going to throw the thing at Orin and create a light blue smear of a dead mage. Instead he throws it out of the zone. It lands about 20" from Harbinger and then deviates another inch away, leaving it just out of allocation range, slightly behind a forest, and basically out of the fight. Irusk backs up and drops an air burst on top of Orin … but only hits him for 4 boxes. On the other side, the Kovnik advanced, but did not enter the zone. Despondent, my opponent passes turn.

Nicia charges and kills an IFP, shoots another one dead. The Bastions and the Redeemer clear the zone and the remaining silver IFP and the Kovnik. Harbinger advances to dominate for 2 points. On the other side, the remaining Bastions slice up a few of the last black IFP. Harbinger is camping at 16 DEF to melee and 24 ARM (one Wrack just kept giving and giving). The Reckoner gets up and begins slowly advancing back to the party. Menoth passes turn and scores two points.

With the writing on the wall, unable to contest effectively in Zone 2, very low on models, and with no cortex on his remaining jack, my Khador opponent concedes. In the pic below, my opponent had already cleaned up his models (except his Kodiak), and I forgot to replace my two base-proxied Bastions.


Thoughts on the match:

This game was a slog. We did not play on the clock because it was a friendly, "play when you can", round-robin tournament that spanned the better part of a week (there was a lot of other stuff going on, so one tournament game a day was the expected average). As a result, we didn't play as quickly as we should have and the game dragged on. That aside, we tried to play a tight and proper game and I think we succeeded.

The matchup was probably in Menoth's favor, especially with no clock pressure. I am very familiar with my list and I love Outflank. I also got exactly what I wanted in terms of table edge. The superstars for me this game were Awe and Nicia. This is probably the most productive I have ever been with her with the only other contender being a particularly slice-stab-shoot-sprint Vindictus game in January. The point of the list is to abuse awe and ashen veil against living models (particularly Hordes) while managing one of Harbinger's greatest weak points - her DEF stat. I felt like Fear of God, Crusader's Call, and Guided Hand all played their part. The only spell I did not cast on Harbinger's card was Purification. My jacks spent the first 2/3s of the game focusing down targets, often times spending their stack to boost both to hit and damage. The double Bastion plus Big Brother package is one of my favorites in faction. I love medium bases to protect against tramples as well as Awe and Ashen Veil to fix their garbage DEF. Madelyn pushing both Awe and Martydom to 11" was significant, as was the 12" null magic zone from Orin. The Book was with Reznik, but Orin filled in great. Sadly, the KES literally fell down on the job, but that was my fault for being a touch too pushy with him.

On the other side, my opponent told me that he felt the counter charge with the dragoon was a mistake. Beyond that he played a good game and had some dice not go his way. If he had found a way to prioritize Nicia and the Seneschal, that would have probably caused more issues with me. Either by pushing me into the danger zone with Martyrdom faster, or by allowing the damage on the Bastions to send them off the table sooner. I had committed to playing forward with Harbinger to keep everyone covered, but he wasn't able to exploit that effectively. He couldn't easily risk his caster because of the ranged threats from the Reckoner and the Redeemer, but he couldn't really get any guns to bear on his problems.

As for the rest of my games, sadly this is the only one where we took any pictures. But in short it went like this:
Against Circle (Morvahna2/Kruegar2) he dropped Kruegar and I dropped this Harbinger list. The game see-sawed back and forth, but he made two late game mistakes and I capitalized to win. We discovered later that night that he was waaaaaay drunker than either of us realized at the time. We still had fun but it took a while to play.
Against Trolls (Gunnbjorn/Madrak1) he dropped Madrak and I … again … dropped this Harbinger list. That game took too long to play, but we both had a great time. I went up on the heavy trade by taking out his Earthborn and his Mauler. I couldn't -quite- get the Axer the same turn because I -had- to get a Fellcaller Hero dead. But it turns out taking two heavies off the board for very little in trade gives you a significant advantage. (I lost the Reckoner two turns later because of a sub-optimal play). I eventually closed out the game with a pair of Cataclysms after getting Madrak to read his magic scroll.

The upside to all of this is that all my friends want to play on the clock now for all our games. This is a good thing.

This was a long one. Much like the game itself. Thanks for reading!

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