That being said, I'm looking at the new MkIII rules as an opportunity for a fresh start and to finally achieve a certain level of rules mastery over the system, since that is what it demands for a satisfying game. My Esteemed Opponent and I are going to make an effort to get in 1-2 games a month for the foreseeable future, and will be gradually escalating the size of our games each time.
My intention is to keep a bit of a journal of these games here as they progress so that I can refer back and look at what I learned, what I did well, and what I'd like to change in the future.
For this inaugural outing, we played a 0-point game.
Yes, it's an odd bit of terminology, and one that's new to MkIII. Just like in MkII, every warlock and warcaster gets a certain number of "freebie" points to take 'Jacks or Beasts, but these freebie points have been bumped up to the point that an introductory game can be played based on just that alone. Ergo, a 0-point game.
We're also going to be making an effort to use scenarios in all our games. I tend to view scenarios with a bit of a jaundiced eye, to be honest. I've watched a couple dozen actual-plays on YouTube and have played a couple scenario games myself, and I have yet to see a game won purely on the scenario's victory conditions; it always comes down to a caster getting killed first.
However, I've recently seen the argument made that, even if you don't win the game on points, scenarios still force you to play the game a little differently than if you were just forming up on the line of scrimmage and charging in. Also, certain casters and models are much more effective in scenario play. That was enough to convince me, so scenarios it is!
In keeping with the simple, introductory nature of this game, we went with the Annihilation scenario, which limits the game to six turns and awards points based on models slain. As it turned out (of course!), the game only lasted five turns, but hey.
Here's the setup:
I won the roll-off and chose to be the Second Player—in MkIII, the Second Player gets to deploy 3 inches further onto the board, and I've found that with Skorne getting out onto the table ASAP is desirable. My Esteemed Opponent chose the table edge on the right of the photo and we were off.
Here's what we fielded:
- Dominar Rasheth
- Titan Gladiator
- Titan Gladiator
- Commander Coleman Stryker
Due to the small size of our forces, there wasn't a lot of subtlety to our deployments. Stryker and his 'Jacks deployed on the road and I decided to follow suit.
- This may have been a mistake on my part; Gladiators have the Rush Animus, which gives them Pathfinder and 2 inches of extra movement. I could perhaps have deployed further to my right, using the river and copse of trees to cover my advance, moving swiftly up while the 'Jacks tried to negotiate the Rough Terrain.
With the two forces faced off across the board, there was nothing for it but to rush each other.
- What I'm finding is that, when it comes to Titans, it's all about careful maneuvering during the first couple turns. Titans are at their most effective when they can charge in and do a Slam Power Attack. The Rush Animus seems to be a key to executing this, as we'll see shortly.
Cygnar reached the bridge first due to the superior movement of the 'Jacks. Curse those steam-powered devils!
Even worse, I moved my Gladiator on the road too close and got charged!
- One of MkIII's most notable changes is that pre-measurement is now allowed. So I would've been completely within my rights to measure the Ironclad's charge range and then move up to just outside of it. With my Rush Animus, I could've probably then made a charge of my own the next turn.
In contrast to my poor maneuvering on the road, I managed to get the drop on the Stormclad as it attempted to negotiate the river. With Rush Animus giving me an extra 2 inches on top of my Charge bonus movement of 3 inches, plus Pathfinder, I was able to surge forward with my second Gladiator and execute a Slam against the Stormclad, knocking him back out of the riverbed. (Unfortunately, I only rolled a 2 for the Slam distance...)
My Esteemed Opponent dropped Stryker's feat at this point, giving all his guys a +5 ARM, which had a predictable effect on how much damage I was able to deal out.
Meanwhile, I did the best I could with Rasheth. Three out of his five spells are useless against a small, 'Jack-heavy force. Worse, I was stymied in my efforts to cast Breath of Corruption on Stryker and wasn't able to upkeep Blood Mark on the turn when it most mattered. On the other hand, I did make the most of Rasheth's new and much-improved Plague Wind feat. It was too little, too late, but I can foresee future games where it will come in most handy.
The picture above shows what was probably the game's turning point. If I had been able to knock that Stormclad back a few more inches, there's a good chance it wouldn't have been able to re-engage my Gladiator on its next turn. This would have left my Gladiator free to turn and charge Stryker (how that would've worked from a rules standpoint, with my Gladiator in the river and Stryker up on the bridge, is a, well, bridge we didn't have to cross...). With Blood Mark reducing Stryker's ARM by 2 plus Plague Wind reducing ARM by 2 more points along with DEF -2, I think my odds would've been good for a kill and a win.
Sadly, this was not to be. The Stormclad shook off its Knockdown and was able to get back into engagement range. Although my Gladiator subsequently tore off the Stormclad's left arm, the 'Jack gave more than it got. Ultimately, the Gladiator went down from a Disruptor Pistol shot from the bridge(!).
The battle on the road was even more one-sided thanks to some hot rolling on the part of the Ironclad. Rasheth went down the following turn and that was all she wrote.
- The Rush Animus is really key to effective play with Titan Gladiators. It allows me to use terrain to my advantage to get the drop on enemy forces and mitigates the Skorne's piss-poor Movement rate. The Gladiator that used Rush and terrain got off a very effective charge; the one that didn't got drop-kicked into oblivion.
- Rasheth isn't very good in small games—most of his abilities and spells are unusable. Hopefully I can get Makeda painted up before our next game...
- On a positive note, I've gotten a good feel at this point for the ebb and flow of Fury in the game: rile your Beasts, then pull the Fury off and use it to fuel spells and such from your caster. Good stuff!