Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mid-terms suck

Mid-terms suck.  That is all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

I played a game over the weekend against BK in which pHaley and pSeverius were pitted against one another in a 35pt Caster Kill game. The battle report is going to follow a play-by-play format; however I may miss small details as I had to recall the entire game from memory later that evening. I took pictures but I was inconsistent in doing so. We made a number of technical mistakes with the rules so I will try to note these as I go along. Additionally, I will provide some commentary on where I felt I went wrong strategically, but I am not going analyzing how that could have affected the game as that just leads down a spiral of what-if scenarios.

My List:
Captain Haley
Sword Knights (max)
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator
Harlan Phineas Versh, Illuminated One

BK's List:
Grand Scrutator Severius
Avatar of Menoth
Blessing of Vengeance
Exemplar Errants Unit (Min, Exemplar Errants Officer and Standard Bearer)
Choir of Menoth (Min)
Vassal of Menoth
Covenant of Menoth
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord

I'll skip ahead to the end of my turn two. We deployed basically as far as possible from one another. I think I should have deployed the Gun Mages more towards the center. You will notice in the images they are furthest from the one target on the board I really would have preferred having them for (the Errants).

From pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

On Menoth's next turn, the Errants advance and take down 2 Sword Knights with ranged attacks. I made an error in forgetting that the Errants crossbows are blessed and an Arcane Shield I had on the Sword Knights was effectively useless. The other Menoth units advance with support units using appropriate abilities. One thing of note is that most of the front line was immune to being targeted by my magic for a large portion of the early game. Additionally, the piper was providing tough to the Errants.

I reposition and continue my advance towards his line. I activate Temporal Barrier to prevent chargers making a critical error in my focus management though. I neglected to camp even one focus on pHaley for using Arcane Vortex.

From pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

From pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

Menoth continues on the advance. This turn the Errants fail to pick anything off (with I think completing fluffing a few attacks on the Ironclad since he was the only target in range). The major event of this turn was the arc node getting in to position to hit one of the front Sword Knights with Ashes-to-ashes, rolling a 6 for the additional hits. We made two mistakes here. The first is that Ashes-to-ashes, like Chain Lightning, has specific rules about how to select the targets (i.e., closest) which was ignored. The second is that I have had it in my head for whatever reason that spells cannot be boosted. I have no idea how I had that notion stuck in my head; however, that comes to affect me later as well so its hard to say how this one event going differently would have affected the remainder of the game. Sword Knights come out mostly unscathed losing only one model; however, the spell also drops Eiryss, a Gun Mage, and hits Haley for 5 boxes.

On my turn 4, I decide that I am in range for charges, so I activate Haley first. My plan is to kill the Vassal and hopefully some choir behind two of the Menoth jacks by targeting the Reckoner who can finally be targeted by magic attacks this turn. Arc Lightning hits but then I roll 1 for the additional hits. Damage fluffs on the heavy jack and damages the Vassal for 4. Despite the Vassal's continued presence, I continue my plan to charge in to melee with other models so I activate my feat to hopefully take advantage of as many models getting in melee this turn. Tragically the Centurion comes up short on the charge against the Blessing (by somewhere between half an inch and inch I think). Ironclad makes his charge on the Reckoner though. Four Sword Knights make it in to melee as well. The Reckoner survives against the charge attacks from the Ironclad and two Sword Knights (who are rolling 4d6 on their first melee damage roll) and the additional attacks from the feat. On other matters, the Gun Mages continue their long walk around the board (at some point earlier they did make it in range to Snipe but only against jacks and no damage was done). Harlan advances and unloads a full 4 shots at the Errants. I think 2 or 3 do enough damage to kill but Tough rolls save all but 1.

From pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

Avatar obliterates the Ironclad. Blessing kills a few guys and backs off using Bushwack. Errants advance and unload a few shots do nothing.

Gun Mages advance and kill off the Menoth support units (Vassal and all of the Choir). Centurion charges Reckoner and manages to get Blessing engaged. Remaining Sword Knights charge in at Reckoner. Reckoner was taken down by Centurion and one Sword Knight. Haley tries to take down the piper with Chain Lightning, but fails to do a enough damage. Lightning arcs to the 4 Errants but only 1 dies due to lower damage rolls and 1 or 2 successful Tough rolls. Lancer moves around to interpose himself between Haley and any other models. This was quite likely a mistake. Additionally, we made a technical error in relation to charges (which we actually had been making all game). We did not realize that the charger needs to be turned to directly face the target after moving. I just mistakenly thought that models were not suppose to turn at all during charges. Analyzing the results of this creates to many what-ifs as I probably would have just charged differently given our understanding of the rules now for instance.

From pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

Errants charge at Lancer and Haley. One gets by Lancer to Haley and is actually killed by a free strike but sacrifice lets another die instead. He fluffs his attack on Haley anyway  though. Avatar moves around a Sword Knight and engages Lancer who he then destroys. Avatar uses an ability that makes everyone only move at him next turn (with 8 inches and in LOS). Severius stays at the back and Blessing falls back to towards him.

We made a technical mistake here as we did not own any flat markers to indicate the rough terrain from destroyed jacks. The Avatar would have been pretty much walking over rough terrain the whole turn.

From pHaley v pSeverius 35pt

On my turn, Haley finishes off the Errants. Reinholdt moves to block Avatar's movement towards Haley next turn. But then this is the end of the game. We ran out of time and I truly believe it is a draw at this point. There is a lot of what if scenarios we could consider but it is effectively a race between Avatar killing Haley or the Centurion having time to either get to Severius or to fall back and help out Haley. Blessing was backed up all the way to Severius minimizing the impact Severius would have on the following turn and the Gun Mages are still 5 strong and 2 or 3 Sword Knights remain at this point as well.

And thats where I will have to leave this. Sorry for the anticlimactic ending but we had to quickly pack up and return the terrain and 4x4 board to the FLGS and take off as we had already gone past our deadline for leaving at this point.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Well, I hope you're happy.

In the past month or so I have purchased:

and maybe something else.

Starter Pack

and it's all your fault.

Furthermore, contrary to Asmo's comments I have never taken bribes to play a game, AND will be looking for games in the nearish future.

So look out.

Haley Tier 2: Gunline?

As I stated previously, I purchased a number of models recently in order to start  focusing on a Haley theme list. For starters, I went with Tier 2 at 25 points.  I like the tier at this point total since I effectively am fielding a 29 point list with the Tier 2 bonuses.

  • Captain Victoria Haley
    • Lancer
    • Hunter
    • Charger
  • Long Gunner Infantry (min)
  • Long Gunner Infantry (min)
  • Long Gunner UA
  • Sword Knights (min)
I have some ideas on alternative 25 point lists; however, this is what I own at the moment and will hopefully have assembled to play relatively soon.  In the mean time, I have begun thinking about deployment strategy and the first few turns of a game.  Below is a screen shot I took (using Vassal) of my initial take on deployment.

I admit to not being entirely happy with this deployment but it is about the third basic setup that I considered (with small tweaks on each of those considered as well).  The idea is to deploy either in the left as shown or mirrored in the right.  Given the large bulk that is the Long Gunners I decided to stack them in what will effectively be the center-left or center-right of the table using Haley for support and to use TB to block charges.  I find it essential that she be so integrated with them otherwise they end up on the outer reach of her control area and susceptible to charges.  The front rank of LGs has Ranked Attacks from the UA.  The intended strategy is to play to the lists current strengths by emphasizing ranged attacks with the option to back up and let the Sword Knights swoop in to melee against enemies affected by TB.

The other options concerning the list I have considered basically involve removing both the Lancer and Hunter.  Without having played I am hesitant to remove the Lancer but it is possible that at this point total the arc node just is not worth it. The same can be said for the Hunter. It could just be too many points devoted to the role of anti-medium/large bases.  The change I have considered emphasize supporting the melee component of the list as well as bolstering the ranged by using these 12 points to raise the SKs to max models and to add two Firefly jacks (yes I know I previously decided I was against using these jacks over Lancers but I feel I will be using them for exactly the reason I said they seemed perfect for).  I would have to rethink deployment entirely to handle the larger mass of sword knights but the additional model with Reach makes the defensive "swoop" that much more dangerous.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So as a short teaser for next week.  My order for starting a Haley theme list was delivered only 2 days after I ordered it (Completely unexpected, but very happy about it).  Yay for 16 Long Gunners + UA!

No way I am going to get it all put together, but I do plan to consider strategy over the weekend.

Here's my initial list.  The intent is Tier 2 since I do not see as much value in Tier 3 until I have a huge unit of Swords Knights to advance deploy.  I'll make an extended post about it next week.

  • Captain Victoria Haley
    • Lancer
    • Hunter
    • Charger
  • Long Gunner Infantry (min)
  • Long Gunner Infantry (min)
  • Long Gunner UA
  • Sword Knights (min)

Feel free to provide suggestions.  Also, I'd like input on what jacks should be marshalled to Sword Knights going forward.  Should I wait until 50 points to move to Tier 3 (and Tier 4) or is a lower point total appropriate?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I was able to play another game with Minute last week (I won this time, but we had a few errors in rules that we realized after the fact).  I do not really intend to focus very much on the content of that game.  What I do want to talk about is strategy.  Our 25-pt game took an embarrassingly long amount of time (measured in hours).   A number of factors could have contributed to this (I was not feeling well that day and had not eaten in many hours), but the greatest factor I feel was my lack of strategy.

As a quick aside, I would like to (re)define strategy and tactics in the context of a game of Warmachine.  In the traditional military sense, the actions taken during a game of Warmachine is likely to be considered entirely tactical; however, that is not to say that the game is without strategy.  Strategy is what you thought about when deciding what elements to include in your army and how you generally intend to utilize them.  Tactics is then the turn-by-turn choices you make.

To me, every turn of Warmachine is an optimization problem where the variables are all of the possible actions my models can take with a goal to maximize my expectation of causing hurt to my opponent (while minimizing the risk of me losing the game on the following turn).  The problem with this is that many-variable optimization is prohibitively expensive to solve absolutely so is usually solved efficiently by heuristics.  For me, this is where strategy comes in to play.  Strategy is the types of scenarios I have considered previously and planned for.  Thinking about and preparing a strategy for my army should be a critical component in creating my army list.  My strategic plan should be my heuristic for deciding what actions to take and in what order to achieve my goal: To lay a serious beating down on my opponent (as Asmo might say).

Now this is where I return to talking about the small game that took a very long time.  I lacked strategy.  For instance, I had to think for too long about my deployment (something that should be relatively automatic for someone comfortable with their army list), but that was the smallest of my problems.  While I felt I was relatively familiar with the abilities on all of my models, I was woefully under prepared to make decisions quickly about how to apply those abilities.  If my opponent had not been so generous in letting me spend quantities of time making up my mind throughout the game, the outcome would have likely been different.

So where does this leave me.  First, I feel I need to reread the rules for the whole game system now having finally played 3 games.  Second, I need to become better acquainted with the abilities of the models I own and definitely be very comfortable with the ones I intend to include in an army list.  And lastly, I need to make it a requirement of myself that whenever I make an army list that I also devise (and write down) a strategy for playing that army to include deployment, potential weaknesses (specific to particular models once I have more experience playing), notes on any tricky or difficult to remember rules concerning abilities, and lastly a plan concerning under what conditions I am willing to take particular actions during a game.  What I mean by this last point is that I need to consider the statistical analysis concerning particular actions prior to playing the game.  For example, the full range of DEF and ARM values I can expect to encounter is actually relatively small, so I need to decide a priori what DEF/ARM values I am unwilling to waste shots firing at for a given model so that I can make better snap decisions.  Doing all of these things (in addition to just playing more often), I hope to significantly speed up the rate at which I play a game of Warmachine.

To anyone reading, feel free to provide suggestions to speeding up game play or if you completely disagree with my assessment of strategy in the context of Warmachine, I suggest you provide alternatives so that we can grow a discussion on the issue.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Busy Busy

Going to have to be a short one again.  I failed to ever get around to taking photos of the assembled models; however, I did manage to have time to play a game with Minute.  It was nice to finally get in another game a Warmachine (he won, but was a fun time all around).  It's now a goal of mine to play again some time in the next two weeks and continue playing with some reasonable level of frequency.  With WFB I never really believed that I could play games at the rapid pace usually expected at tournaments; however, with Warmachine I really see that as I play more I will get significantly faster at playing.

Additional short term goals:
  • I really need a set of 4 and 5 inch templates.  Siege has a ton of abilities that leave persistent effects with a diameter of these sizes.  I am thinking some kind of template that will hold its shape but is otherwise just a ring of the desired size so that models don't have to be picked up to set it down on the table.
  • Assemble Arcane Tempest Gun Mages.  These guys are laughably easy.  I did not realize it until I peeked in the box on the hobby holiday last week, but they are seriously just a matter of cleaning up and gluing to bases.  
  • Continue to work on Bretonnia project.  I primed the remaining Men-at-Arms recently so I really should start to put a green base coat on them.  The only real decision to make is whether I need to find a grey paint to use for base coating before white or if I am happy with how the first five models turned out.