It's crunch time, with Warmachine Weekend only a month away (and a Wildcard Qualifier this weekend for me!), the list pair is more or less nailed down and it's time to start doing the reps.
Today I faced an opponent playing Trollbloods, who is practicing for the same wildcard qual. We each brought our pair: my opponent, a Horgle list and a Gunnbjorn list, both in Power of Dhunia. My own lists are Amon with five heavies (three with shields) and Thyra in Guardians of the Temple featuring two units of Temple Flameguard, Flame Bringers, and Eilish.
Both of his lists featured a gargantuan, with Horgle running a Mountain King and Gunny running a Glacier. I felt like Thyra was going to have some problems working through an armor buffed Mountain King if he dropped Horgle, and the enormous amount of spell hate I have built into my Amon list makes models like Runeshapers, which he had a couple units of with Horgle, fairly useless. Amon also would likely tough right through the heavy amount of shooting Gunnbjorn has, even with Explosivo, just by sheer amount of armor and boxes between the large number of heavies. I decided on Amon, and my opponent dropped Horgle. His thinking was also that Gunny wouldn't be able to crack Amon, so he needed to drop his armor cracker.
High Allegiant Amon Ad-Raza (Creator's Might)
The Covenant of Menoth
Vassal of Menoth
Vassal of Menoth
min Choir of Menoth
min Choir of Menoth
This is just an armor block meant to go with my Thyra build that relies more heavily on infantry, while featuring a ton of spell hate to avoid certain control casters like Haley. Also an armor cracker... because it's Amon.
Horgle, the Anvil
-Dire Troll Bomber
max Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes
-Stone Scribe Elder
Our scenario was The Pit II.
I won the roll off and opted to go first. My opponent chose a side that gave him a hill and a trench closer to his side, as well as a large pool of water his army largely ignores. On my side was a large pile of rubble sitting centrally, a wall a bit left of that, and a larger forest off to the right.
We both chose Stockpile as our objectives.
There's not a lot of complexity to deployment on this list. My Dervish took the far left, and going from left to right was a Reckoner, Templar, Amon, Indictor, the Covenant, the Devout, the second Templar, and the second Reckoner. The Choir interspersed between the whole army, the Hierophant stood behind Amon, and the Vassals stood out on each side. Nice and easy.
Horgle's battlegroup deployed a bit to my left, with Horgle, the Bomber, the Axer, and the Mountain King piling up near the water. The two Runeshaper units were more to my right, ready to contest some stuff. He deployed two of his whelps, one far out to either side. I'm at a relatively low volume of attacks here so they'll make decent contesting pieces.
All of our upkeeps start in play! Fortify started on my Indictor, and Synergy of course on Amon. My opponent chose the Mountain King for Inviolable Resolve, Horgle for Solid Ground, and the Bomber for Firestarter.
Protectorate Turn 1:
Not a lot to say here. I determine that if he wishes, my opponent could shoot at me if I run all out forward so I have the choir on the left sing Passage to my 'jacks on that side (although I derp it up and don't put it on the Dervish but... whatever.) The choir on the right since Shielding, since those 'jacks will be largely out of range of gunfire but will be running up near the Runeshapers. Amon casts Mobility and advances into the rubble. All of my 'jacks then just... run, basically straight forward. Amon walks just far enough out that the Reckoner on my right isn't in his control so he's not quite as quick as he should be but ah well. This is why we practice. The Vassals run to keep up and the Covenant runs up the center. Nothing fancy here.
Trollbloods Turn 1:
Not a whole lot fancy going on on his turn either. The far right Runeshapers walk up onto the hill and Dig In. The more central Runeshapers just run, one getting into the zone and the others hanging back a bit. The Bomber walks up and Far Strikes itself, throwing two bombs at my Dervish who is hanging out behind the wall on my left. He doesn't have range, but it just seeing what happens. First shot flies out into nowhere but the second lands on him, sets him on fire, and he boosts damage for a few points. Even if I had Passage on him, he could have targeted a Choir member behind the Dervish for the same effect... not a huge deal really.
Everything else basically just runs, the King staying back out of my threat ranges and the Krielstone getting 6 fury and popping its aura. The whelps on either side run forward towards the corners of zones. He passes the turn. Unfortunately I miss a picture this turn, not sure how that happened.
Protectorate Turn 2:
Time to roll some dice! Unfortunately he gets the first damage roll of the game, as fire on my Dervish doesn't go out. Fire roll cranks pretty high and the Dervish takes a chunk of damage.
Amon upkeeps his two spells and allocates one to the Reckoner off to my right. He activates first and casts Mobility, opting to not really move. The Reckoner with two focus advances forward and puts a gunshot into one of the Runeshapers, boosting to hit and damage. He forces tough, but unfortunately that Runeshaper succeeds and sits on 1 hp (ALTHOUGH HE'S FLARED SO GG). My other Reckoner aims and shoots the Runeshaper who ran into the zone, boosting damage and killing him.
Otherwise my 'jacks mostly just jockey for position. The Reckoner on the left already has charge range on the King, but the Templar and Indictor fan out and move up to all get in charging range. The Templar, standing in the middle of the three, gets Enliven from the Vassal. The Dervish, Reckoner, and Templar on the left all get Passage. The Indictor doesn't get any Hymns this turn, and the Reckoner and Templar on the right get Shielding. The right side Templar runs up into the treeline, since Mobility is great.
The Covenant walks forward and casts Lawgiver's Creed, repositioning forward to push the aura out in front of my army.
The Dervish then makes a bold move: he runs right at the Mountain King. He doesn't quite engage the big guy, but he gets into a trench and is engaged so clearing him at range before the Mountain King activates will be basically impossible. At this angle the King doesn't really have a way past the Dervish, even with bulldoze, so I should have him held back for a turn.
Trollbloods Turn 2:
So the Book is kind of a pain, and he needs to deal with it before it gets any further up the table. Horgle drops Solid Ground, since it's just not very useful here, and upkeeps Firestarter and Inviolable Resolve. The King steps to the left, leaving himself in walk range of the Reckoner and charge range of the Templar, and sprays Amon, which clips the Templar. He does a bit of damage, and Enliven triggers, allowing the Templar to step closer. The Bomber then Far Strikes himself and throws a couple bombs at the Covenant. The first gets shield guarded to the Templar, doing a bit of damage. The second does, of course, 1 point of damage and now the Templar, Indictor, and Covenant are on fire. Two Runeshapers charge the book, each doing 1 and leaving it on 2 boxes.
Two Runeshapers on the right all put Rock Hammers into my objective, cranking the damage and leaving it on 3. The Whelp on that side runs into the zone and into the rubble, sitting just in the corner where he'll be difficult to deal with. Krielstone keeps the stone aura going and Horgle stays back out of threat range of things. The Axer goes in on the Dervish and, with a little help from Puppet Master, finishes it off cleanly.
Protectorate Turn 3:
Fire on the book sticks around and it is reduced to 1 wound.
So I have a couple avenues of approach here. I'm not really sure which is the best. One is that two of my heavies are in walk and swing range of the Mountain King, and have alright odds to kill it. The other is I can kill his objective, clear the whelp from my right zone, clear the center zone, and score 4 points in one turn. So... I figure I'll see how handling the whelp goes and go from there.
I opt to allocate nothing, as I'm going to use my feat to make sure I can do what needs to happen here. I also drop all upkeeps. The Reckoner on the right aims and boosts to hit a shot into the whelp, needing a 9 but missing entirely. So, alright, we're on to operation kill the Mountain King.
My Devout runs to where I want to put Amon in a forest. I then activate Amon and feat, recasting Synergy, putting Fortify back onto the Indictor, and casting Mobility (with the help of Harmonious Exaltation.) I then realize where I wanted to put Amon is dumb because it doesn't keep my heavies in control so... he just scoots forward a bit in the rubble to touch the zone. At this point my Reckoner on the left has 2, Templar has 3, Indictor has 3, and Templar in the forest has 2. The Templar walks over and clears the two Runeshapers out of the zone for me. At Synergy +1, Indictor charges the Axer and kills him. Unfortunately I have nothing else to get Synergy up with (the Devout should have done something else, or the Reckoner on the right should have gone and just attacked the Runeshapers over there or something, overall I needed to handle Synergy slightly better.) The Templar goes in, starting at Synergy +2, and does as much as he can to the King. The Reckoner then follows, and in the end the gargantuan is on 5 boxes. Fun fact, if the Templar had been on one higher Synergy, the King would have died exactly! So... yeah.
Anyway, the 'jacks on the right have Shielding again, the stuff on the left of course got Battle. The Book walks forward and again activates Lawgiver's Creed, then repositions up into the trench. My favorite part of this turn, though, is an activation I should have done way earlier. The Vassal on my right activates and has very little to do, but he can get range on the whelp in cover in the zone. He walks over and I figure hey, why not, and just roll the hard 10 I need to kill the whelp. Had that happened earlier, I probably could have gone for the scenario play instead. But... ah well.
Trollbloods Turn 3:
So... this looks not great for me, but it's not nearly as bad as you would think. It takes us a while to sort of determine how bad the situation is. His plan, ideally, is to finish off the Book, throw Rage onto the Bomber and Mountain King, feat, get the Templar on fire, and just do as much damage as possible to the three heavies in his face. The trouble is, the book has pushed its aura so far back, Horgle has absolutely nowhere to go and still be able to cast spells. He tries to get some angles with other models, but just can't make it work. In the end, his only option is for Horgle himself to charge the book and finish it off.
He does this easily... and realizes he was now within 5" of the Indictor, and thus unable to cast spells again. The anti magic bubble is set up in such a way that it just isn't really clearable. Thus, his pieces can not get Rage (aside from the Mountain King casting it himself, which is a serious decrease to his number of attacks. The Bomber could go into the Indictor, and with feat will do some damage, but at ARM 23 and dice -7, it's just not enough. The Mountain King can swing at the Templar and Reckoner, but without the fire there he's just not going to do even nearly enough, even healing 11d3 this turn from whelps and the objective. The Runeshapers basically just can't do anything. In the end, he has basically no options.
So, the Bomber far strikes himself, walks into range of Amon, and flings two shots into him. My misplacement on the Devout puts me in a rough spot here, but... I'm in Rubble and sitting at DEF 20 here. The Bomber has Puppet Master, boosts his hit, misses, rerolls, and connects. Amon is on fire and takes 10 damage. The second shot misses and deviates wildly. Note, he needed a 15 here so even with puppet master this was not a likely shot.
He doesn't really do anything else since it's largely a waste of time and we just need to see if the fire kills. The fire doesn't go out, and my opponent needs a hard 9 on two dice to kill. He rolls a hard 9, forcing Tough... and I roll a 5, keeping Amon alive.
Oh, Amon. This was a bit of an unfortunate situation in that my list design sort of happened to be really problematic for what his list wanted to do. Really all the spell hate is here to screw with Haley2, but that by its nature catches some other matchups and this was definitely one of them. He also typically wants to force a situation where two heavies charge the King, but two of my heavies actually have the math they need to kill one if I play it right (and if the Indictor is one of the two, it gets even better with Blessed). Enliven is also very problematic with Amon's field marshal. It's just hard to trade into.
In the end, the scenario play actually probably was the better one. I also needed to handle Synergy a bit better. That said, aside from the Devout running off when he shouldn't have, my positioning felt good and the double-whammy of the Indictor and the Book performed very well for just shutting down spellcasting. The Indictor is one of my favorite models to armor buff up and just slam into people's faces. I had really wanted to get range on Horgle to force him to drop his upkeeps as well, but I couldn't do that and still kill the Axer which felt pretty necessary so I made the decision to do that instead. Amon's feat was also quite impactful, as I had no idea how to get enough focus on the table that turn and remembered he had a feat (I'm bad at remembering his feat for some reason), and it helped me get a crazy amount done. He's considered the best caster in Protectorate for a reason, and boy is he a beast. I just need to remember he's the serious weak link here and make sure he's as far back as he needs to be, with whatever protection is possible to keep him on the table.
Overall, solid game, we both learned a ton about our lists, and I'm excited to keep getting the practice in!