Warmachine Tournaments are played using the Steamroller Scenario packet, a set of 8 different Scenarios using zones, flags, and objectives to give an alternative win condition to assassination.
This is the first of an 8 part series exploring each Scenario, with some ideas about going first vs. second, deployment, and whether or not winning on Scenario is a viable option, as well as a general opening turn and game plan for the first couple of turns.
Hopefully it is helpful and informative!
Going First or Second:
This is what is known as a live Scenario, meaning that it is very possible to win or lose on nothing other than the merits of the Scenario itself.
Going first on entrenched is a good idea if:
- Your army is fast and very capable of splitting itself to fight on two fronts.
- There isn't a central piece of terrain that cuts off one zone from the rest of the table. If there is, choose second and pick the better side.
- Your opponent has an army that is primarily melee.
Going second on Entrenched is a good idea if:
- You have some way to control the second turn of the game to ensure you score at least one point.
- You have a central piece of terrain, such as a forest or a building, that cuts off one zone from the rest of the table.
- Your opponent has an army that is primarily ranged.
I've used this as an example before, but this is a very dynamic board. Here the clear choice for me is to go second, almost no matter what my opponent is playing, in order to take the bottom table edge.
If he's playing a fast melee list, he's going to funnel his army between the forest and rough terrain on the left, and the forest and the pond on the right, meaning that he'll only be able to contest with a few models per turn and I can kill them easily.
It also gives me fantastic access to the enemy zone. There's a handy trench to run to on turn 1, and then a clear path to taking out that objective turn 2 and maybe even clearing his zone.
An aggressive play on both fronts will force my opponent to keep his warcaster/warlock back, probably behind that wall up there, and that will prevent him/her from really being able to influence the game.
Game Plan for Going First:
There's probably some awesome terrain piece on the board that your opponent wanted if you're going first OR you have a list that's going to get up in his face as fast as possible.
There are two game plans for this Scenario. Either skew your deployment absurdly hard to your left so that you can overwhelm his zone and dominate/control it after turn 2, or deploy very central so that you can easily swing back and forth between the two of them.
Obviously, there are going to be some boards where each of these will be a better strategy.
Turn 1 you should just be running to get in position for turn 2. If they have a lot of guns, use terrain to mitigate your losses if possible by hiding behind forests/walls or in trenches.
Turn 2 I would be contesting their zone with a few pieces, backed up by many more, much scarier pieces so if they commit to killing the contestors in order to dominate, you have a great counter-punch. This is not going to work against Wurmwood, Haley 2, or Kreoss 1 etc. Warcasters/Warlocks that can clear the zone and then use feat, spell, or both to prevent you from counter-punching will gain a nearly unstoppable lead from that play.
Wurmwood will kill your guys and either build a forest through his feat or through spell/Sentry Stones to stop you from getting back in, Haley 2 will prevent you from taking half your turn, Kreoss will KD your entire army etc. In that case, I would consider flooding their zone with as much stuff as possible, again, depending on their army build.
Don't just give away models.
On turn 2, you should also have your Warcaster in your zone if it is AT ALL safe. The possibility of them forgetting to contest is very real, and getting a free point on their turn can be game breaking.
Game Plan for Going Second:
If you're going second, barring your list being absurdly assassination focused, you need to score on your second turn and even more importantly, you need to prevent your opponent from scoring on your second turn.
Turn 1: If they're a ranged list, it's actually okay to dance out of their threat ranges turn 1 here, since turn 2 is the important turn anyway. If they don't come up far enough, you can take turn 2 decisively.
If they're a melee list, they've run up the table and are probably halfway up the board. You need to be ready for them to contest your zone and counter-punch there after you clear it.
If you have a cheap unit or jack that can empty out the zone and then bait in a good piece trade, here is where you do that. This would be something like a unit of Daughters of the Flame, Sentry Stones, a cheap jack with 2" reach etc. that can easily kill a few models and then threaten more next turn, forcing your opponent to commit models to kill them that are worth more to them than they are to you.
At the same time, you need to have something resilient or scary enough to frighten the opposing warcaster/lock out of their zone.
Going second is way harder in many cases because the choices you make will be the ones that affect the game most. Your opponent will be reacting to you after turn 2, and it's much easier to mess up as the second player. That being said, it's also the more powerful position to be in on this Scenario.
Turn 2: You need to dominate your zone if at all possible, and if you can put some damage on their objective, do so. I don't actually advocate for killing their objective turn 2 unless you're also going to control their zone. Being able to swing the game by an extra control point after this turn is a powerful tool, and just being ahead on Scenario by one point here is a strong position to be in,
This is a strong Scenario for control casters and armies with a lot of dudes in them. There's no killbox, so Assassination is largely going to be off the table, and that means that Attrition and Scenario are the two main ways in which this will be decided.
If you're playing a control caster, look to turn 2 when you can score and make sure you've got a way to keep your opponent from getting a real alpha strike on you.
If you went first, see if you can distract your opponent into giving you a point for free on their turn, sometimes it happens.
Druid's Dice Seal of Approval for Entrenched? Yes