Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WarmaHordes Battle Report - Encounter at Swamp Bridge

Major Markus "Siege" Brisbane pored over a map of eastern Cygnar, his brow furrowed. Reports had been coming in from the merchants and scouts that plied the routes along the boundary with the Bloodstone Marches of tracks of elephantine Titans, caravansaries found burned and ruined, and strange disappearances. Major Brisbane suspected Skorne activity, but had no solid evidence as of yet.

A knock at the door. "Come."

Captain Kara Sloane entered, heavy duster sweeping behind her. She saluted and Brisbane peremptorily returned the gesture before considering the map again. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Captain Sloan?"

"Report in from the Marchfells, Major. My contact Reinholdt -"

"That gobber speculator?" spat Major Brisbane.

"He may be a bit...dodgy. But he's never led me astray..."

From behind Captain Sloane's duster emerged a squat little gobber wearing a bowler hat and a duster of his own.

"I was on my way to see my coz, sir," said the gobber in his thick bayou accent. "Wagonload o' trade goods for the swamp-folk, you see. And then, outta nowhere, they come upon me. Big as a house if they was a thumb's height."

Major Brisbane took his eyes of the map and looked at the gobber, his brow arched. "Go on."

"Tusks like so!" said the gobber, adding to the effect with hand gestures.

Brisbane and Sloane looked at each other. "Titans," said the Major. 

Sloane nodded. "The Skorne are in the Marchfells. Reinholdt here can guide me back to the point of the ambush."

"Yes, do go and see what you can find. Be careful, though - it's likely the Skorne have been bolstering their numbers with Gatormen and Farrow mercenaries."

"Oh, don't worry about me," said Captain Sloane, smiling. "I know a few gun mages who still owe me a favor..."

Another game of Warmachine/Hordes is in the can. We played 50 points, and just went with a straight-up skirmish this time. We'll try doing a scenario again soon, I'm sure...

After the dissatisfaction I'd been experiencing with my terrain tiles, I did a bunch of research and settled on terrain mats as my preferred approach. They feel like a nice compromise between the eye candy of 3-D terrain and the ease-of-use that comes with just laying out a blanket to cover the table. I ordered some F.A.T. Mats from Frontline Gaming and I was not disappointed. We used the "Swamp" mat for this battle. I also debuted some latex roads from Early War Miniatures that I'd bought a long time ago but have just gotten around to painting up, as well as some giant mangrove roots that I got through a discount pet supply site - they're meant for aquariums, but certainly look the business on the table! Didn't need painting or anything. (Debating whether to base them up, though.)

We agreed that the dark areas of brackish water on the mat would count as difficult terrain (half movement) except where they were crossed by the roads or bridge. I also couldn't resist putting an outhouse on the board, because why not?

(The wagon would be Reinholdt's, although that particular connection didn't occur to me until after the game, when I was putting the "fluff" part of the game together in my head. Recovering the wagon could've made for an interesting scenario, though. I'll have to remember that in the future.)

I won the initial dice roll and decided to let My Esteemed Opponent set up first. He had brought his trusty Cygnar along, this time led by Captain Kara Sloane. In contrast to last time, this was a distinctly "shooty" army to oppose my melee-focused force. Thus, I wanted to see where he was putting his firing lines so that I could deploy accordingly.

That Defender 'jack would prove a most meddlesome opponent.
Seeing Kara Sloane over on the left, with a squishy shield of puny hoo-mans between her and my Titans, I went with a heavily-weighted flank deployment. Hey, who says you have to set up your W/H armies in a Blood Bowl-style scrimmage line every time?

Battle about to be joined!
A Hunter 'jack trundles off into the woods in the center. This was another one that gave me trouble.
Due to my deployment, the battle quickly turned into one of two halves. Over on my right, my Gatormen surged forward. Despite losing my Paingiver Taskmaster early on, the gators managed to get stuck in against the Cygnar gun mages, whose magelock pistols proved largely ineffective as I closed for the charge. (This was due more to My Esteemed Opponent suffering some atrocious dice-rolling all night than any inherent imbalance in the matchup.)

Seriously, once the Gatormen got stuck in, it was not pretty.
The main show was over on my left, however. I discovered that a Bronzeback Titan facing a shooty army is actually even more effective, since he automatically advances every time someone shoots him. He zigged and zagged his way across the board for two turns before contacting the line of riflemen that stood between him and Kara Sloane.

Going after the Hunter 'jack that took a pot shot at him...

Before turning the face the riflemen who unloaded a fusilade.

I took a shot at winning the game by having my Bronzeback pick up and hurl one of the hapless riflemen straight at Kara Sloane (who is fairly squishy by Warcaster standards), but unfortunately the toss deviated and she was unscathed. However, I still had two other Titans moving up, getting set to crash through the screen of men, plus my Bronzeback, although close to death, was probably going to be able to execute a Trample attack and make a beeline for Sloane on the following turn. I was anticipating the very real possibility of actually winning.

And then My Esteemed Opponent's dice luck, which had been betraying him all night, finally snapped back into place. Kara Sloan activated her Feat, which allowed the Defender and Hunter 'jacks to unload a shedload of lead into Dominar's rubbery flesh. In one turn, he was knocked from full health all the way down to zero! And that was the game.

So I'm 0-3, but it was a damn close-run thing this time. We were both sweating it out right up until the end, which is always my gold standard for a fun game. And this was the first time playing Warmachine/Hordes where I felt like I had a handle on the rules in general and how to best use my forces specifically. My one slip-up was that I thought Rasheth was out of LoS while inside the cloud of fog generated by my Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew, but I should have actually had him deployed behind the cloud. Lesson learned. (This balanced with the fact that My Esteemed Opponent probably could've taken my Bronzeback down earlier with a Combined Ranged Attack, but didn't apply the rules correctly, to his detriment.)

This was also my first time deploying my unit of Farrow Bone Grinders, and they didn't do a whole hell of a lot. I'll probably set them aside in the future in favor of more proactive units like my Nihilators; they'd be a good fit in larger games, or perhaps for a particular scenario, but they didn't have much to do this time out.

And so the Skorne incursion on the borders of Cygnar has been checked for now. But for how much longer can they be held at bay...?

Rasheth snarled at the agonizer at his side, its arm buried elbow deep in his blubbery flesh. "Dig deeper, you idiot! The ball is in there somewhere." He took a deep pull on his hookah, its soporific vapors overcoming the exquisite pain of the bullet extraction process. The fire had gotten too hot back there in the swamp, but he'd be back. His raiding force had tasted blood, and wanted more. Even now, he could hear the reptilian laughter of the Gatormen outside his tent as they played footbal with the head of one of the Cygnar gun mages that had fallen to their snapping jaws and giant pole-axes. 

A mewling cry of triumph announced that the agonizer had located the final ball. With a splurging gush, the lead projectile was removed, covered in blood and bile. Rasheth took it and popped it in his mouth, savoring the taste of his own fluids. He closed his eyes and smiled.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh...That's what always keeps me on my toes with the Skorne and Cygnar. The blue swan has to keep winning else their first failure has the potential to become a full-on rout, but Rasheth only has to win once, and he gets a foothold.


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