The store where the Fail Gamers club plays in Frederick is called Hobby Town USA and it is quite frankly massive. The front part of the store must be 150x150 feet easily. It's about 10 times the size of most GW stores I've been in. It's not just wargames though as there are every kind of hobby option in there. In the back of the huge store is a seperate area with workbenches for radio controlled car fiddling (based on how many people were workign on it) then there is a huge (100x50) track for racing those cars on. Next to that is a long room where they have half a dozen tables set up for wargaming. There is a goodly stack of terrain that the club owns and it was cool to see it looming over us from the shelves.
I found two Warmachine players who were good enough to not only give me a starter game, but one of them sat out so I could use his models. He basically gave me free reign over his collection so I could play a small game with the other guy. What a nice gesture.
Our game was at 15pts, which is the starting level for most WM games and represents a small skirmish (units generally go in cost from 4 to 10 points, warjacks are 4-12, solos 1-5, just to give an idea of the game level). The only model that is free is your warcaster, who represents your general and is critical not only for their power, but because you lose the game if they die.
I was given control of the Protectorate of Menoth, a group of religious folks who would be very happy if everybody worshipped Menoth. If everybody won't worship him, the protectorate would be happy to set everybody on fire. There is a strong theme of faith and fire in this army. My opponent had Cyngar, who specialise in ranged combat and lightning.
My army was (all pics from Privateer Press):
High Exemplar Kreoss is quite well rounded as warcasters go. His combat ability is strong, but not excessive, he has good spells but can't win solely through them and his feat (a once-per-game spell each warcaster has) knocks down everyone in his control area, making them easy for your other troops to hit and forcing them to waste their turn standing up.
Crusader Heavy Warjack. This is a pretty basic heavy jack that hits people with a flaming mace, or can smack them with its open hand (or throw them, headlock, armlock etc.). It's a basic, but well regarded beatstick.
The Castigator brings two open fists (now we can two-handed throw models) that also sport flame throwers. As a special ability it can set everything around it on fire, then wade in with fists swinging.
Holy Zealots bring the power of the massed faithful to Menoth's cause. They are armed with maces, but mostly go into battle to throw their hand grenades. They are a cheap unit that can bring a lot of pain if you let them get too close. Definitely a tough one to face as you either spend precious time/firepower/attacks dealing with them (leaving the other foes alone) or you risk getting grenaded to pieces.
The Paladins of the Order of the Wall are holy warriors who believe in redeeming the populace and can be at odds to the rest of the priesthood who favour inquisitors and cleansing fire. In battle though they bring magical weapons that hit very hard as they are weapon masters (meaning +1D6 damage on each attack).
This army pointed up as:
Kreoss: -5 pts
Crusader: 6 pts
Castigator: 8 pts
6 Zealots: 4 pts
Paladin: 2 pts
Now there was a big change when Warmachine Mk2 came out to make warjacks more useful. In the first edition they became overshadowed by infantry for effectiveness and the game was often called Infantrymachine. No longer though. The revamp to the entire game let the developers up the abilities of warjacks and make them more important. One method was by making warcasters cost nothing and giving them a number of warjack points. These essentially are free points that can only be spent on warjacks. So my 20 point army above is actually 15, as I can use Kreoss to save me 5 points on one of the warjacks. A good idea and it can make playing different casters intersting as they have different points (generally 5-7 jack points though).
My opponent's army was much less melee oriented and his plan was to bring me down at range.
Lt Allistair Caine - think a warcaster who stars in a John Woo Wild West movie. Two pistols, lots of speed and a feat that murders infantry (he gets one free shot at everything within 12", regardless of other models in the way)
Defender Heavy Warjack - A heavy jack with a nasty hammer (burns out jack cortex controls) and the biggest cannon in the game.
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages - Tricksy pistol wielding folks who have access to special ammunition. Like a squishier version of Sternguard veterans.
Arcane Tempest Officer - Leader for the gun mages who also can be a jack marshal, giving him control over a warjack.
Hunter Light Warjack - A very Tau-like jack that isn't so tough but wields a nasty armour piercing cannon designed to take on big jacks and do damage to them. This jack was marshalled by the AT officer, meaning he could fire the same special shots as the mages. Imagine a dread who can fire special sternguard-type ammo....yep, nasty.
I won the roll to go first. Kreoss gets seven focus points per turn and I gave one to each warjack as they need them to do anything other than move and attack. This means running, charging, special attacks, boosted attacks (more likely to hit/more powerful) and extra attacks all need focus. I knew I would have to close to stop getting shot to pieces so basically everyone ran forward this turn. Running doubles their speed at the cost of any other action. Kreoss didn't run until after he'd cast a defensive spell on the Crusader warjack. He and the Paladin also tucked in behind the warjacks so they couldn't be shot easily. I wasn't too worried at this stage as Kreoss had 3 focus left and each point added 1 to his armour. In my opponent's turn, he used the hunter's armour piercing gun (boosted by the jack marshal's special ammo) to cripple one arm from the Castigator (ouch) then used the gun mages special ammo to push it backwards. The defender killed a zealot and not much else happened.
My second turn I charged in again, getting as close as I could while still being protected. Nobody could reach anything at this point sadly though. In return, the gun mages pushed the castigator back, opening up the Paladin to be shot and he was duly taken to pieces. My zealots also lost two more of their number to Caine's deadly pistols. The defender managed a sniped (extended range) shot into the Castigator and cripplied its legs, meaning no running or charging, drat!
It was crunch time on turn 3 as I couldn't keep taking all this fire without doing anything. I moved Kreoss forwards so that all of my opponent's models were in my control area (a cirlce 2x the size of your focus stat, so 14" in my case) and popped my feat, knocking everyone down. My crippled Castigator waddled forwards, the zealots moved up to bomb the downed defender, crippling the gun arm and my crusader came out menacingly, ready to charge next turn. Kreoss was the star though as he dropped a flaming template spell that killed off four of the gun mages, including their officer. The marshalled Hunter warjack became inert and could only be recovered by Caine getting all the way over to it and spending a turn in B2B...not going to happen. My opponent had to spend his turn standing up but he moved the Defender into B2B with the Crusader, hoping to block off a charge against Caine. The warcaster used his focus and deadly gun skills to wipe out the zealots.
In my turn, I pumped focus into the crusader to give it multiple attacks and it happily smashed the defender into pieces. Knowing I had no way to get Caine this turn, I ducked Kreoss into cover behind the jack. My opponent then used his gun mages to push the crusader back, just far enough for Caine to get a shot. Caine went all out, popping his feat so he got a free shot at my three models, then buying as many shots as possible to try and gun down Kreoss. I took a lot of damage but hung on with 5 points left.
In my turn, the crusader and Kreoss both charged Caine and by using all of the focus we had, managed to land a hit on the tricksy warcaster (he's evasive but not tough) and defeat him. I also move the Castigator into combat with two of the remaining 3 AT gun mages, just in case we don't get Caine down this turn. Phew, close game!
Well I really enjoyed my first foray into Warmachine. I can definitely see this being a game I keep up with. Unlike 40k, where I like to stay at range for the most part, I found myself itching to get in close to hit things and make a mess in melee. The models are really fun and the way they play together is very interesting.
- Sequential models, not phases. Each model does its own thing before the next goes. This is a huge change from 40k where everybody moves, then shoots etc. It adds a whole different layer with the combinations that come up with it. This was a simple game but I figured out to activate Kreoss first when I did his feat so that everyone else could take advantage of the easy-to-hit knocked down foes. My opponent used his AT gun mages to open up lines of fire to my paladin and warcaster for other models to take advantage of. I think this will take a while to get used to as it is quite ingrained for me to consider my own models as cover that can't be removed unless they are totally destroyed.
- Damage grids. I love how the warjacks and warcasters have damage boxes that need to be filled out before they are destroyed. It gives a good challenge to hit them hard enough to bring them down, while still letting units contribute until they are completely destroyed. I don't like how a penetrating railgun round has the same chance to blow up a rhino as a Land Raider once it gets past the armour. Here you can tell the difference between a Cryx Bonejack with maybe 18-20 damage boxes and a Khador heavy jack with 34.
- Spells and funky abilities. Nearly every unit has some cool thing it can do that can work really well with other units. Combinations are a big part of the game and finding the best ways to use your units together is the difference between winning and losing.
- Feats. I love the way each warcaster gets a great big dollop of kick*ss once per game. It really gives you a way to turn things around and make the opponent pay but also adds a layer in that you need to be careful not to pop it too early, or too late.
Nothing much so far ;-)
- In the future though, I can see the frustration at playing against somebody who knows the models inside and out and pulls out a combination that I haven't even considered. I'll reflect on this after more games though.
- The expense. I know that I'm tempted by so many models and they can be relatively pricey ($20-45 per warjack). The good thing is that the game can be played from the lowest points levels upwards so there is no feeling of having to buy another $200 of models just to play (like I feel about my Tau).
So hopefully you enjoyed reading this far and I look forward to hearing any thoughts or questions.