Battle Reports 94 and 95: Losing and Learning From It.

Prologue:

I haven't lost back-to-back games since the ATC in early March, and before that, I don't think I have lost back-to-back games in six months or so.

That all changed this last week with a pair of games, and instead of writing up typical battle reports, I thought I would take my usual process of chewing apart every single turn for more optimal plays and share it with you.

When I say taking apart every single turn, I literally mean every single turn. I still remember (and occasionally run through) a loss in the finals of a Steamroller last August (I think?) where Sorscha spiked some dice to take down Wurmwood.

On the drive home (it's 2.5 hours each way to Spokane), I came up with no less than six separate, superior plays for that situation, literally working the turn to death in my head.

I have also noticed that, as of late, I've started to get lazy with my placement again, and since the whole purpose of writing this blog was to help me analyze and improve my game play, I think it is high time that I address that with a seriously hard critique of my games.

Battle Report 94: Mohsar vs. Severius 2 (Creator's Wrath)

Prologue:

Because of my limited pool of local opponents, I occasionally am able to use the internet and Vassal to play games with buddies of mine from across the country.

On this occasion, I had paired up Mohsar with Wurmwood to try out against a Severius 2 and Amon pairing.

Upon realizing that Amon basically had no chance into Mohsar, we decided that Severius 2 into Mohsar would be the best game and off we went.

Mohsar
- Pureblood
- Pureblood
- Woldwyrd
- Woldwyrd
- Argus

Fulcrum

Bloodweavers
Wolves of Orboros
- CA

Gobber Chef

vs.

Severius 2
- Heirophant
- Reckoner x3
- Redeemer
- Revenger
- Blessing of Vengeance

Vassal x2
Covenant of Menoth
Wrack

Choir (max)
Rhoven and Co

I won the roll off and went first, unfortunately I forgot to take deployment screenshots of my stuff, but I got my opponent's just fine. We were playing Outlast.


I deployed pretty centrally with the Fulcrum skewed right. I didn't want to get it wedged between the obstruction in the left zone and the forest.

Circle turn 1:

Everything runs, Wolves on the right, Weavers on the left. I know the infantry is basically going to be useless this game so I don't think about where I am placing it too hard.

Mohsar puts Mirage on the Fulcrum and Sunhammer on himself.


Menoth turn 1:

Everything powers up and advances or runs. The Redeemer scatters into some Wolves, nearly killing the foremost two, but matching Armor on the second one.

The Revenger runs up and Sevy shoots a free Rebuke through it to catch my Wolves.

I apparently forgot to take a screenshot of this turn as well. Derp.



What I could have done better:

I didn't need to get my Wolves within 20 inches of his Revenger on that side. Sure, measuring 20 inches on Vassal is a bit messy, but it can be done and I should have just not done that. The forthcoming Rebuke really messed up the game for me.

I also screwed up my Fulcrum placement hard with the Wolves since it could only Apparate like..an inch forward? If that. I also think I should have committed my Purebloods both to one side since Scenario should have been my win condition here, but I was too caught up in the idea of gunning down a heavy a turn.

What did my opponent do really well:

He deployed an Arc node on either side, making my turn one angles for infantry really difficult without getting Rebuked. 

He also picked the correct side of the table, with excellent defensive terrain.


Circle turn 2:

Rebuke on my Wolves is basically the worst thing that could happen, and without it I could have swarmed him good this turn.

Instead, I move up and nearly kill his middle Reckoner with a combination of Woldwyrd and Pureblood shooting.

I put down some defensive Pillars of Salt and Feat, catching everything but the Redeemer and Revenger.

Bloodweavers run like crazy, engaging stuff and threatening Severius himself if he doesn't clear them out next turn.


Menoth turn 2:

Sevy allocates three focus to the right-hand Reckoner, two to the Redeemer, and stuff starts happening.

Sevy Feats, killing all of the Bloodweavers.

Jacks move around on the left, getting in the zone and preventing me from scoring.

The Right-Hand Reckoner charges my Pureblood and does about half damage. His Redeemer does about half the damage on the Fulcrum with its rockets.



What I could have done better:

I'm not totally sure why I moved that Pureblood up to be honest. I think I went for a cheeky spray into the Reckoner to start the damage train, and that was completely unnecessary.

This turn was actually not that bad. I kept Mohsar in the rubble, fairly safe from most spell assassinations.

I think I probably should have hung back with my Bloodweavers. He might have gone for my Wolves with his Feat then, and my Bloodweavers were much more useful without Rebuke on them.

What my opponent did really well:

He played nice and defensive, giving me one jack to play with but not letting me get at it with anything but a Pureblood and some Wolves of Orboros that couldn't charge.

He also capitalized on his Redeemer having a good target and went after it. There was little I could have done about that and it did make a big difference.


Circle turn 3:

I have delusions about clearing the right hand zone this turn that go something like this: Fulcrum kills the Revenger, Pureblood kills the Reckoner, Mohsar goes over there with Sands of Fate.

Unfortunately, none of these things happen, and instead I commit two Purebloods to the Reckoner, leaving it on about 6 boxes, leave the Revenger on two boxes, and use my Woldwyrds to shoot at his third Reckoner instead of shooting down the really damaged on in the middle of the table.

What I should have done is used both Purebloods to melee down the Reckoner instead of having the second one spray it, used the Woldwyrds to shoot down the Reckoner in the middle with approx. ten boxes on it, and then jammed the Revenger with Wolves after shooting it with the Fulcrum OR just running the Fulcrum away.


Menoth turn 3:

His Redeemer shoots down the Fulcrum with a spectacular damage roll.

His damaged Reckoner in the middle of the table charges my Pureblood in the back and between it and the first Reckoner and Rhoven and Co. kill it pretty dead.

The Covenant sings No KD, and the pillar body blocking my Wyrds get shot off the board, followed by a charging Blessing who kills one of them.


What could I have done better:

Well...I could have finished off his Jacks for one thing. I could have kept my Pureblood out of charge range of Rhoven and Co. 

Thing is, up until this turn, I was feeling pretty good. He had two heavies with 11 boxes between them, a Revenger with 2 boxes left, and a Reckoner way off to the side. If I'd just had better target priority, I could have made it so that he didn't have either of his intact heavies, and also prevented the two Weaponmaster charges into the Pureblood. 

This actually leaves me with a ridiculous assassination threat on the table at that point as both Purebloods can trample up or move and spray once Mohsar goes in to apply Doppler Bark. 

This is really the turn where things fell apart for me, and it was simply because I got distracted and didn't finish the job. Dead heavies don't kill you stuff back, crippled heavies can. 

What my opponent did really well:

He used all of his resources, and I mean all of them. The Reckoner in the middle only had movement and Cortex left before it charged in, and he managed to connect with my Pureblood and bash the snot out of it. 

I had not considered Rhoven and Co. as an offensive piece yet because I felt like Sevy would be too vulnerable without his Shield Guards, but by eliminating my Pureblood there, he didn't really need them anymore. 

Circle turn 4:

Desperation time. Mohsar drops everything. 

Pureblood goes Ghostly and moves around the Reckoner, but stays within 2 because....no reason really, and so becomes rat 3, missing Sevy by 2. 

Wolves move in, kill choir, and Reposition forward. Mohsar maltreats the Pureblood, Sands of Fates to the Wolf, casts Doppler Bark, but cannot seal the deal, not doing any damage with his first three attacks. 

I call it at this point. 


What could I have done better:

Well...I could have maybe tried to play for attrition. 

The Reckoners have about 8 boxes between them thanks to Sunhammer (remember they had like 11 between them before they charged in), so I could used the Pureblood to potentially move around them and spray both of them down from inside the zone, or at least spray the one in the zone and also Rhoven. 

I have four Wolves of Orboros left and the Revenger has two boxes. They could go in on it, and then if they fail, Mohsar could Sands to one of them and the Sands to the Standard Bearer behind the wall to potentially not die from a charging Sevy. 

At that point I go 2-0 with an intact Pureblood who would be out of charge range of all of his models thanks to the forest, and my opponent has to start throwing things away to contest. 

Ah Hindsight. 

I could also have done the same thing, but moved the Pureblood more than two inches away from the Reckoner, meaning my spray from him would have hit. I could have also done that last, after Sevy had had his defense reduced to 5 so it wouldn't matter. 

Post Game Thoughts:

Lots of things I could have changed, lots of ways I could have mitigated dice. 

It's pretty incredible how a series of small misplays can just spiral the game out of control. It's actually one of the mantras I used to recite to myself before tennis games - unforced errors are not how you win games. 

Warmachine is an extremely complicated, tactically dense game, and it's always important to look back at the games you play and check yourself to see how you can do better than you did, whether you won or lost. 

This next report hammers home a different, arguably more important general idea rather than looking specifically at the things I could have done better. Only one of them mattered. 


Battle Report 95: Vindictus (Exemplar Interdiction) vs. Rasheth

Prologue:

Vindictus
- Reckoner
- Reckoner

Knights Exemplar Seneschal x2 (Free!)
Wrack
Gravus

Vengers Max
Vengers Max
Knights Exemplar
Knights Exemplar

Vs.

Rasheth
- Hydra
- Despoiler
- Gladiator

Soulward
Paingiver Master Tormentor x2

Tyrant Commander and Standard
Beast Handlers
Bloodrunners


I unfortunately lost the roll off, meaning that I had to go second. This is a problem for this list since my threat ranges are so massive (15 inch threat on Vengers is amazing) that I really want to take up the table space and not let him have any of it.

There's nothing I could have done about this here, so onto my deployment.



My game plan here is to use the Vengers to set the line of skirmish firmly on his half of the table. He simply doesn't have enough attacks to really clear everything I throw at him, and I am going to feat turn one in order to insure the alpha strike.

After that, and probably after his Feat, I get to charge in with two units of Knights Exemplar (who actually threaten 11 inches in this list) and their Seneschals, not to mention two Reckoners which, thanks to the new Fuel Cache objective, can go in through the forest to finish off the Hydra should it survive.

I think my Deployment here is fine for that game plan. Vengers will get up the table very quickly, limiting where his Bloodrunners can go. A turn 1 feat means that his Master Tormenters will have to walk up to combat with the Vengers, likely not killing any with thresher and then sitting there waiting to die.



Skorne turn 1:

My opponent moves everything up the table as far as it can go, with the exception of the Master Tormenters and the Bloodrunners.

Already I am giving him headaches with the threat ranges on the Vengers, and he spends about 5 minutes on the right hand Tormentor to make sure it cannot be charged this early.

I notice Rasheth shifting to the left, and I think this is going to be a strong Scenario game for me based off of that. He cannot protect all of the zones well enough, and I might actually be able to score three on my second turn.


Menoth turn 1:

I set up my army pretty well here. The Vengers in the left zone will come into the Hydra from where I put them and anything else that ventures into there will simply get slaughtered.

I've put my Reckoner just outside of Hydra walk range, so if he wants to get at it he needs to trample. That being said, the Hydra is in charge range of the Reckoner, so he needs to either move back or (probably) die next turn to charging Cavalry and a charging, Battled heavy.

My critical mistake here? Not checking one crucial distance.

I make sure that Vindictus will be outside of the Hydra's trample range, but I fail to consider the sprays. I also fail to consider the Despoiler, and running 12 inches to apply Dark Shroud.

Let's do some math here.

Hydra gets five sprays, and under Rasheth Feat he needs 7s to hit and is dice -2. He has no other attacks since Vindictus popped his Feat, so no spells, no charges into Vindictus, nothing.

Vindictus is camping 3, and my opponent will (next turn) boost hit and damage on the first two sprays, leaving the last three to chance.

Oddsmachine puts this at a 22% assassination run.

With Dark Shroud, that number goes up to 56%.

This is all well and good, but had I chosen to place Vindictus a quarter inch farther from Despoiler, it would not have mattered (dice went funny).

Other options I have include:

Put my Reckoner farther up to make my opponent need 9s to hit Vindictus.

Build a Reckoner wall in front of Vindictus 4.1 inches (I think this is probably a bad idea since my opponent can reasonably trample up to and cripple one of them with the Hydra and possibly charge the other with Despoiler).

Cast Defenders Ward on Vindictus instead of True Path and camp 4 (Ultimately wouldn't have mattered with my opponents dice, but it takes the assassination run down to a 3.29% assassination WITH Dark Shroud and a 0.17% chance without it. Actually even with my opponents dice, that would have made enough of a difference to prevent the first two boosted sprays from killing Vindictus)

What I should have done instead of all of those options is prevented my opponent from rolling any dice by keeping Vindictus three quarters of an inch farther away from the Hydra and not letting him even have the chance.

This is the biggest lesson, I believe, of risk mitigation in Warmachine. The less dice you allow your opponent to roll, the better your game will be. Vindictus did NOT need to be that extra smidgen of movement closer to my opponent's Hydra. Take that off the table and my opponent has no good options.

He can't get to my Vengers on the left with anything but Hydra Sprays, and he's going to kill the two he is in range of, trigger Battle Driven, trigger Righteous Vengeance on the Seneschal next to him, and then he will take three boosted PS 14 lances, 2 PS 11 Weaponmaster attacks, one a charge, a few PS 9 Weaponmaster charges, and a Reckoner charging him with Battle up.

Even under Rasheth's Feat, I think that Hydra is dead.

On the right side, his prospects are even worse, as to get the Vengers under Rasheth's feat, Rasheth has to be incredibly exposed. I probably lose one horse at worst, and then sweep that flank.

I am in a very good position here EXCEPT....

I've left Vindictus in a place where my opponent gets to roll dice against him.

Now, it still takes a good player to realize that all of this is an option - I sure didn't see it until it was happening. Many people would have just let me sit there and set up to take the Alpha - props to my opponent for taking the opening.




Skorne turn 2:

The Despoiler Runs, Rasheth Feats, and my opponent rolls very well, killing Vindictus in two sprays.




Post-Game Thoughts:

I had all the information, I had all of the tools, I just got lazy and didn't consider the Hydra Sprays a legitimate threat. I got lazy, I got complacent.

I got too caught up in how freaking incredible my turn 2 was going to be, and didn't consider how vulnerable I had left myself. I could have done many things differently to make the dice math worse for my opponent, but again, I could have just not let him roll dice at things that mattered.

This is one of those games that you don't ever forget, and they usually jump start you to play better the next time you set your models up. In the game I played today with Harbinger for example (see battle report 93), I tripled checked the threats he could get onto Harbinger every. Single. Turn.


Conclusion:

Every loss is an opportunity for growth. One of my favorite movies as a kid was "Chittie Chittie Bang Bang", and my favorite song from that film is called "From the Ashes".

The line in particular is "From the Ashes of disaster grow the Roses of Success".

It's a rousing little tune, and it's really fun to watch a bunch of old guys bluster about. That being said, they have a point - learn from your mistakes, be honest with yourself, and don't begrudge your opponents their wins.

The object of the game is to win, the point of the game is to have fun. Actually the object of the game is to win, the point of the game is for both players to have fun, and that's something that I, personally, need to work on.

Circle List Building for SR 2017

Prologue:

SR 2017 represents a huge shift in the way Warmachine and Hordes will be played. Attrition is going to be the most important aspect of an army, shortly followed by Assassination.

Scenario is going to be a relatively minor consideration from now on, as you have to score max points on nearly every Scenario for two turns without losing more than one or two points in order to win quickly. Games are designed to last until turn 7, with a "mercy" rule allowing opponents who are seriously cleaning house to win earlier if they get ahead by six control points.

Also, certain Scenario elements are uncontrollable by various models. Circular Zones can only be controlled by Warrior models, Rectangular Zones only count for Warbeasts/Warjacks, and the Warcaster/Warlock models can control both, as well as flags, while still not contesting.

One of the things that I really miss about the middle years of mark II was the feeling of the game - yes, there were strong things, but instead of complaining about them the idea was to figure out how to beat them. In that spirit, I present my thoughts on how to play and win with Circle in SR 2017.


Advantages:




There are a couple more changes to the SR packet that greatly benefit Circle players.

The first of these - immobile models can control again - makes our Gallows Groves, Shifting Stones, and Sentry Stones viable scoring threats for low point values.

The second of these - that units no longer have to be at 50% or greater strength to control - means that we actually get a great deal of flexibility out of our units when we do clear zones.

A lone Shifting Stone can score on a Circular Zone if it is the last one in the unit. That's a big deal, since late game they tend to not do a whole lot, and when the game ends on turn limit, the person with the most points wins.

Overall advantages:

Mobility: 

Most of our (non - warbeast) models have Pathfinder, which is going to be handier than ever with the new terrain rules.

(For those of you who haven't seen them, central terrain is now required, and there are recommended amounts of LOS blocking terrain etc).

This means we will have an easier time engaging certain armies by having better threat ranges (Menoth, Melee Cygnar, some Mercs) through rough terrain.

We will also have an easier time contesting with our terrain indifferent models.

Jank Angles:

If the premeasurement restrictions in the packet stay, and your TO/Meta actually enforces them, Circle can perhaps get back to our roots of really odd threat ranges in completely non-linear ways.

Shifting Stones combined with Hellmouth or Telekinesis sounds like a good place to start.

Ambushing Wolves or Orboros are great in the Wild Hunt theme, and I'm actually starting to look at Bradigus and Kromac 1 again, since a 5" and 3" threat extension are both really excellent.

We also have Loki, and this might be the most important thing Circle has gotten for SR 2017. This guy is an absolute monster for Attrition fights, as he can regularly pull in an enemy heavy, smack it a few times, and then have a Stalker charge in, kill it, and Sprint out. If you combine him with a unit of Shifting Stones, Telekinesis, or Hellmouth, Kaya 2's Feat, Kaya 1's Spirit Door, Warpath, Grayle's Feat, Baldur 1's Feat (or Wild Growth to block LOS to him), Admonition, etc. he can do this turn after turn after turn.

Alternatively, you can soften his target up for him with Circle's wyrdly strong gun options and have him finish the job by himself.

Expect to see Loki a lot more in SR 2017.

Control Feats:

We have access to a couple of really excellent time-walk type feats in Circle. Kaya 2 lets you go in and really mess your opponent up multiple times in a row.

Baldur 1 can let you get 2-3 rounds of shooting off before the ranks close, as can Wurmwood.

Morvahna 2 might see some play again, as the ability to cycle through your army twice in one game is pretty good where attrition is concerned.

If the meta shifts to nothing but massive battlegroups, Mohsar's Pillars of Salt can control those kinds of armies fairly easily. (I know they're not a feat, but you get the idea).

Tankiness?

Baldur 2, I'm looking at you right now. Woldwrath plus Fulcrum plus Woldwyrds is likely to be one of Circle's staple lists in the coming months as the Fulcrum CID becomes canon. It's a really nasty gunline that also happens to be pretty good in close combat thanks to Woldwrath Auto Knockdown fists, Steady Wyrds, and Gunfighter everywhere.

Meta Shift:

The theme forces coming down the pipe really encourage units to hit the table, and literally everything in Circle doubles as an infantry blender. Our heavies have great anti infantry tech, our units are all fantastic at killing dudes, most of our spell casters have good infantry killing spells.

If the meta shifts to more units, especially because units are better able to contest for long periods of time than heavies are, I can see Circle really getting potent. Anyone wanna see my 4 point Bloodweaver Night Witch with maybe Affliction or Curse of Shadows take out an entire Shield Wall unit? I know I do.


Disadvantages:




We die Horatio, we die:

Circle models cannot take a hit. Outside of a couple select models (Woldwrath, new Fulcrum, Megalith, etc.), our Beasts tend to be ARM 17 with 27-30 boxes. That's not holding up to boosted POW 12s nevermind punches from Heavy Jacks.

High Defense is great, but there are lots of Knockdown effects, DEF lowering spells, Stationary effects, and accurate guns/models out there. I've lost two Warpwolves in a round to a unit of Brigands before.

We die easily.

This is a problem because the game no longer ends very fast, and our models tend to not attrition well. I expect to see Circle really struggle to adapt for the first few months of SR 2017 as our stable of current powerhouses get taken down a peg.

Our most powerful option (currently), Wurmwood cannot hold an attrition fight for more than 4-5 rounds. Much of his attrition value comes from forcing opponents to come to him in a mad rush in order not to lose on Scenario.

Lists based on Warpwolves in general are going to have a rough time. I think Ferals are going to hardly see the table in favor of Stalkers with their built in "get away" trick and Purebloods with the ability to spray from a distance. Loki I think will be in most Circle lists because he does the best Attrition tricks against heavies that Circle has. Ghetorix might also see some play with Kaya 2 (pathfinder), Krueger 2 (highest base damage output), and the Kromacs.

Casters that I think can mitigate this problem:

Kaya 2 (double alpha = good for attrition)
Kromac 2 (His beasts tend to live through the retaliation)
Baldur 1/2 (Control Feat and ARM skew)
Morvahna 2 (Kill everything twice)
Tanith (Admonition and Affliction)

Casters that I think might be able to based on meta choices:

Krueger 2 (Control feat is great, Rebuke on a unit can keep it out of the game, assassination potential is high)
Krueger 1 (Good into some gunlines, kills infantry no problem)
Mohsar (Controls battlegroups very well, high Assassination potential between Sands of Fate and Doppler Bark plus guns)
Wurmwood (Good board control for a few rounds, might be enough)
Kromac 1 (Very high threat ranges)
Kaya 3 (Good DEF buff on her Feat, kills the world with Synergy)
Kaya 1 (Spirit Door might just be amazing)
Una 2 (trading 9 point Griffons for heavies is okay still)
Grayle (Good threat range extender, Stealth from feat is nice)

Casters that I think will not see much play:

Bradigus (I hope I am wrong about this. I'm painting mine up this week to see if he is viable)
Morvahna 1 (She is basically garbage folks)


Our Infantry is Bad:

Circle gets by playing with about 3 units right now. Reeves, Sentry Stones, and Wolves of Orboros in the Wild Hunt. We also occasionally see Bloodtrackers with Baldur 1.

These models are all good at killing other infantry, and can also put a dent in heavies. They're faster than average dudes (speed six is nice) and they all have pathfinder.

Most of the rest of our options hardly see play.

Here are a few that I think will get some attention with the SR 2017 changes.


Druids - these guys plus Krueger 2 = lots of assassination potential. Telekinesis plus Pulse of the Earth or whatever it's called means that if an enemy parks a heavy within about 5 inches of their caster, you have an easy KD on their caster, followed up by shots from Wyrds/Loki/Fulcrum/whatever.

Their ability to push enemy heavies out of zones might also allow Circle to play a Scenario game unlike most other factions AND simultaneously keep our heavies safe by moving enemy models out of striking distance. I suspect this unit will see more play in the coming months.


Tharn Ravagers - if (and this is a BIG if) the meta shifts to crazy infantry spam, these guys will be kings. The unit can single handedly chew through multiple other units, and they're fast reach models that see through forests.


Here are my picks for models that will see more play than they currently do, but will still be niche:


Mist Riders - the Fulcrum making them Magic 7 is a HUGE deal. The bump between MAT/RAT/Magic 6 and 7 is an extremely significant change in their likelihood of hitting. Between that and a potential shift to infantry heavy lists, these guys could see some play.


Warpborn Skinwalkers - Man I wish they still had two attacks. That being said, these guys are ARM 18 against melee attacks with 8 boxes, and with a few casters (Kromac 1 and Baldur 1 specifically), they go to ARM 20. This means that a charge from a pow 12 infantryman is going to do about 3 damage, and a charge from a pow 12 weaponmaster is going to do 6 ish. What does that mean? Well it means that it takes more than one guy to finish off one Skinwalker, and for attrition purposes, that can be big.

They also have Hyper-Regen, so if they don't get killed in one turn, they're probably not dying the next, and with Relentless Charge, they will not mind the prevalence of terrain that will become the new norm.

Death Wolves (in the Tharn Theme) - with a corpse token, these guys are actually fairly likely to get across the table, and when they do, the enemy units will melt.


Units that I doubt will see play still?

Woldstalkers - Take Reeves.

Blood Pack - Take Woldstalkers. Then when you are still lacking, take Reeves. This unit is seriously awful.


We struggle to kill 8-10 ARM 20 heavies:

Khador is going to likely be our worst matchup in SR 2017. We do not have the firepower to take them on headfirst, we do not outthreat them in melee with about half of their casters (Karchev with Road to War, Harkevich with Mobility and a Kodiak Kloud Wall, etc), and their jacks are mostly Mat 7, so our higher DEF value does very little.

This is a big part of the reason why I think Loki is going to be such a big deal in SR 2017. Contesting with random dudes and pulling in a heavy a turn to kill it with Loki plus guns or Loki plus a Stalker seems to me to be one of the few ways we can hope to win that attrition fight, and even THAT doesn't work if they bring the right Clamjacks.

This is one of the biggest reasons I am considering Mohsar as a serious contender for SR 2017 - Sunhammer chips away at their boxes every turn (Seven turns times 8 jacks times approximately 2 damage per jack is 112 damage, with a range of 56 to 168 depending on your dice - not insignificant), and his feat makes their caster very vulnerable without any focus camp if they want to fuel the heavies.

I personally do not have an answer to this question yet outside of praying for assassinations, but I think this is going to be a constant issue for a while.


Sample Lists:

Here are a couple of lists that I am personally thinking will be good starting points for SR 2017:

Krueger 2
- Loki
- Megalith
- Woldwyrd x2

Fulcrum
Blackclad Stoneshaper
Gobber Chef
Druids of Orboros
- CA
Shifting Stone x2

The list has awesome assassination potential, decent control, and can kill a heavy a turn consistently with Fulcrum shooting, Wyrds, and Loki hooks. Loki and the Fulcrum both have incredible threat ranges in this list thanks to Telekinesis, and can also be kept fairly safe with Druid pushes and KDs and Telekinesis on either enemy models or themselves.

The Druid CA and Gobber Chef are five points that I really haven't a clue what to do with, and the Stoneshaper might not be necessary either, for 8 points of....something else. Options include Gallows Grove and Hutchuk, Blackclad Wayfarers, Night Witches, or a Sentry Stone unit.


Kaya 2
- Laris
- Ghetorix
- Loki
- Warpwolf Stalker
- Pureblood
- Gorax

Gallows Grove
Swamp Gobber Chef
Shifting Stones
Sentry Stones x2

This is my basic beast brick, and I actually like it just fine with Kromac 1 as well. With Kaya, I've seen a couple of builds I really like in the Wild Hunt where the Wolves of Orboros tie things up between the Alpha Strikes.

I think the Gobber Chef is a pretty important piece here, as he allows you to go bananas with your fury on feat turn and then have a bunch of Mannikins for beasts to eat the next turn.


Baldur 2 Bones of Orboros
- Woldwrath
- Megalith

Fulcrum x2
Stoneshaper x3 (free)
Sentry Stone x2

High powered gunline with an absurd amount of Tankiness? Yes please. I really think this list can be terribly potent, and I am even considering dropping the Sentry Stones for two units of Shifting Stones and a Blackclad simply to teleport and heal the Fulcrums.



I am sure there are many other builds out there, but this is my first iteration of several lists that seem potent and interesting.

Conclusion:

I believe Circle is in for a rough couple of months here. We have some pretty cool tools, but a lot of our potency is going to stem directly from what other people decide to play, and that is not the most fun place to be.

That being said, we also have some really cool stuff to experiment with, and I think the last six months of 2017 are going to see some of the most interesting and innovative Circle lists to date surface.

Please feel free to throw your own thoughts on board here, this is just one players opinion and is almost certainly going to be proven wrong ^.^

Thanks for reading!


Target Priority; Why You Don't Need to Kill Everything to WIn



Prologue:

Target Prioritization is one of the hardest things to understand in Warmachine, and is one of the two remaining pinnacles of the three axioms I used to play by in Mark 2.

The reason target prioritization gives players so much difficulty is very simple - it changes based on every list, every scenario, and every board set up.

In some matchups, the one thing on your opponents side that gives his shooting model Eyeless Sight has to be a priority. In others, you need to focus down his colossal as quickly as possible. In a third, maybe the only thing that matters is killing your opponents' arc node.

It drastically differs depending on the tools available to you, the tools available to your opponent, and the table you are playing on.

Furthermore, there are going to be different parts of the board that you will need to target more strongly than others in every game. These might be places where

Rather than trying to generalize what is an extremely specific topic, I'm going to walk through several deployment and first turn pictures and go through my thought process in regards to what is important and what is not important given the matchup and the table.

Feel free to disagree with me; these are just opinions, and you might have a different take.


Table 1:




Me



Opponent


This is an interesting matchup because the lists are straight up identical, and so, theoretically, target priority should be identical. 

This is only partially true. 

Have a look at my opponent's deployment - he's skewed middle/right with only one Sentry Stone unit on the left side, and we are playing Incursion. 

Instantly, that unit becomes my priority. The first person to clear a flag and hold it in this Scenario is often the winner, and if all he contests with on that half of the table is one, moderately hardy unit, I will happily commit a heavy warbeast to kill it and then camp that flag with a solo. 

As long as I can apply pressure in the middle and right sides of the table (which I've deployed to do), I should force him into bad trades as he sends models to that side of the table in order to not lose on Scenario.

Here's what happened:


Sentry Stone goes into the left flag to contest


I kill off the left hand Sentry Stone and threaten Wrong Eye with my heavies if he decides to commit


Everything on the left half of the table dies and I build a massive wall of things to prevent my opponent from getting to Lanyssa, who is happily camping that flag.


Table 2:


Opponent


Me

Man this was a game. My opponent's list has basically three models in it - Raiders, Shamans, and Soulwards,

It's hard to target prioritize when your opponent spams - this is one of the inherent strengths of spamming.

Here, my opponent has four ways to ignore stealth, and so those things need to die as fast as possible.

Alternatively, I know my opponent isn't likely to come very far forward since that's how gunlines play, and since my list can run 14 inches, I can get into his shooting models very quickly.

Here, the priority is not a model, it is the Scenario. I don't need to kill anything unless it comes into the zone, I just need to jam it and engage it and annoy it until I score 5. To that effect, the objective is the first target, and anything else that comes into the zone becomes target number two.

If I try and get into a flat out attrition war with this list, I will probably lose it, so identifying my win condition very early is important.

Here's what happened:


The Cloud wall of doesn't matter against Shamans goes up.


He shoots a bunch of my stuff, but I run and engage as many things as possible.


I clear the zone and score three points, he still has a lot of models left.


He commits three models to the zone and I'm able to kill them all and dominate again. He still has plenty of dudes left over there though.



Table 3:



Opponent


Me

This is a very interesting table to look at. I'm playing Grayle, and have very few ways to crack armor reliably.

He's playing Reznik 1 and three heavy jacks, and right away I'm worried about killing them.

However, my opponent skewed his heavies very, very far right on Linebreaker with a forest separating half the map, which means that I really just need to clear his infantry on the left side of the table and run a Solo to hold down the left flag. If he abandons the right hand flag, I can take it over pretty easily since my list is capable of putting down one heavy no problem.

As a result, the most important target for me is the Flamebringers since they're the only targets mobile enough to contest turn after turn, and they are also the hardest to pin down (notice how my Reeves are on that side of the table).

Here's how that game progressed in a few snap shots.


Opponent commits his jacks right and I line up my Reeves to kill off his Flamebringers.


I take out the TFG and the majority of the Flamebringers. My Wolves of Orboros also roll like crazy and kill his Castigator (which I was not expecting to happen). 


I get a solo onto the far left flag and destroy the objective, and can now basically just run away from his armor the rest of the game. 

If I had tried to engage his army on his terms, I most certainly would have lost this game. Instead, I was able to prioritize the correct models and parts of the table to care about, and effectively played the game while ignoring his entire battlegroup.

Table 4:

Me

Him

This is an interesting game because I'm not really interested in killing his army here. All I really care about is blocking off his access to the friendly flag, and I know I'll win on Scenario eventually. I have lots and lots of models to contest with, and I can be very defensive with my beasts, as their job is basically to sit in the back of the zone and kill any enemy beasts that come into the zone looking to contest my flags.

I think it might even be possible to score on his turn 2 while preventing him from scoring with the threat of an assassination.

As such, I'm happy trading one for one in beasts, as that will eventually lead to a scenario win.


Check out how I've set up my models here - I have a wall of threats between the empty gap in the zone and my flag, and I also have a veritable flood of models to contest with on the right that I can send in one at a time. My opponent doesn't have a good way to get to my flag to contest, and as such I can sit back and wait for him to come to me, expending no resources in the process.

The game progresses and he's had to throw his army at me to not lose on Scenario, leaving both his caster exposed, and the vast majority of my resources intact.


I have plenty of attacks with which to kill everything left on the table, and at the end of this turn I score to 5 and kill Saeryn without even activating the Stalker or Wolf Riders.


Conclusion:

There are too many things to say on this subject, it literally changes between every game.

The overarching points I would like to emphasize are as follows:

1) Figure out what your win condition is at deployment - this will tell you which models to prioritize, which to keep safe, and which to ignore.

2) Pay attention to the terrain and your opponents' deployment. There are games where you will literally not have to deal with 1/3 to 1/2 of your opponents' models just by playing with the terrain well.

3) There are parts of the table that should be prioritized just like there are models that should be prioritized, and these will change from game to game as well. Not threatening or defending these parts of the table can lose you the game just as quickly as not destroying the right models will.

Thanks for reading!

Scenario 3: Take and Hold



The sequel to Line Breaker, and a much more boring Scenario in my opinion. The only way to make this Scenario particularly live is to have a ton of LOS blocking terrain between the two flags, and even that isn't going to help much since the line between the center of both flags is only 13.4 inches.

Going first on this Scenario is almost always the correct play, with notable exceptions being the ever present Haley 2 and Wurmwood, who can actually camp that flag turn 2 and expect to hold it for 3 control points in a row fairly easily thanks to their feats. 

Going first allows you to keep your opponent off their flag pretty easily by presenting some significant threats across from it (heavies, big guns, etc) and also to wait out the second players second turn, and then clear off models from your flag and start dominating it. 

BE CAREFUL NOT TO KILLBOX YOURSELF! 

If you've not played with the killbox rule much, here it is in a nutshell - if, on your second turn or later, your warlock/warcaster doesn't have at least part of their base farther than 14 inches from any table edge, your opponent gets two control points. If you do this, you will usually loose as the other player can afford to sacrifice massive amounts of their army to take over flags and grind out the other three points they need to win.

Fortunately, the front of your warcaster's or warlock's base just needs to be 14.01 inches away from the back of the board, so getting out of the killbox is pretty easy. 

Be aware that this advice isn't going to work against a Warcaster like Sloan, who can happily sit back and shoot your army to death. If you're playing against Sloan, be ready to sacrifice models in order to win on Scenario.

Going First or Second:

Going first in Take and Hold is a good idea if:
- There isn't a central, Line of Sight blocking terrain feature making it difficult to contest one of the flags.
- You have a fast list that can swarm the flags and prevent your opponent from contesting yours by sheer weight of bodies. 

Going second in Take and Hold is a good idea if:
- There is a central, Line of Sight blocking terrain feature that you can use to make a scenario play. 
- Your list needs to counter-deploy against theirs in order to not horrendously lose the piece trade war. 
- You're playing a caster like Wurmwood or Haley 2 and can take your flag and protect it for many turns in a row. 

Game Plan for Going First:

I'd deploy some fairly dangerous models across from your opponents' flag, and your warcaster/warlock across from your flag. Your plan is to force your opponents' army away from their flag while giving yourself the option to score if they only contest lightly. Warcasters like Butcher 3 and Warlocks like Kromac 2 are fantastic for this Scenario since they can afford to sit out on their flag fairly unprotected and expect to survive. 

Turn 1, run your models up and get your spells up. You can play fairly aggressively here since you don't want your opponent moving too far up on their turn 1.

Turn 2, threaten the opponents flag, and make sure your Warcaster/warlock can walk to your flag on the following turn if the opportunity arises. 

If you have expendable dudes, contest your opponents flag at max range (4 inches from the flag) to force him to commit if he wants to dominate it. Behind those models, I would also recommend having your heavy hitters waiting to prey on their Warcaster if they try and move up to dominate. This will force their Warcaster/Warlock back, central, or both, giving you the tempo advantage. If they move too far away from their flag, look for ways to control it on turn 3. 

On turn 3, there are probably opportunities for you to cripple the majority of your opponents' list, dominate your flag, control your opponents' flag, or some combination of the three. First player determines the pace of this game most of the time, so take advantage of that. 


Game Plan for Going Second:

You get to see how your opponent deployed, which is one of the saving graces of going second on this Scenario. If there's a good piece of central terrain for you to abuse, and they don't deploy to aggressively threaten your flag, then playing for  Scenario is probably the best early-game plan you can have. 

If they deploy aggressively on your flag, consider deploying aggressively opposite theirs. If you have good threat ranges on your models, whether by having a lot of guns or a lot of threat extenders/fast models, this can be a very viable strategy. This will, as always, really depend on your opponents' list and your list, and I'm not going to cover all the intricacies of list choice in this article.

Turn 1, they've already probably screamed up the field. If you have a good way to deny LOS or slow down your opponents' army, this is the turn to use it to get up the field as far as you can. I would consider popping feats that prevent your opponent from moving much or attacking you, but it's almost always going to be better to wait until turn 2.

If you have really fast, AD jamming units like Daughters of the Flame, you could also consider sacrificing them to blunt your opponents' momentum.

Turn 1 boils down to blunting your opponents' turn 2 momentum as much as possible, while still preserving your own models.

Turn 2, if they have not contested/prepared a good counterpunch, or you have a way to negate such a counter-attack, I would highly recommend going for the dominate. The Witch Coven of Gharlghast's or Rask's Feat will protect most of your list from incoming charges and attacks, as will something like a cloud wall from Trenchers or Druids.

If you do not have such a tool, see if your opponent has overextended and try to capitalize on that. Maybe they didn't realize that you have access to a threat extender, and have positioned one of their heavies where you can get at it without too much fear of counter-attack.

I would still consider whether or not dominating your flag is worth the risk. High ARM feats like Stryker 1 or Lucant are perfect for that since forcing your opponent to commit to you on Feat turn is exactly what you want, and if they don't, you get free Scenario points!

Going second is a lot harder in this Scenario, and it forces you to react to your opponent much more than going first does.


Sample Table:



Ignore the deployed models, I'm just going to talk about the terrain and the flags' relative placement to them. 

This board actually could come down to a Scenario game with certain casters (Haley 2, Wurmwood, etc.) that can stall out the opponents' ability to contest easily thanks to spells and the forest in the center of the table. Both sides are going to have a fairly hard time getting to the others' flag, barring mass pathfinder, and as such the game is likely to be more interesting than a typical Take and Hold table will be. 

That being said, the flags are still ridiculously close together, and contesting will still be a lot easier than it would be on most Scenarios given that table layout. 

The only pieces of terrain that really matter on the table are the two forests and the trench in front of the close flag. The two forests prevent easy flanking and easy charges from the center, and the trench gives incoming models a safe place to hide for a turn before charging in to contest/attack. Even though the board is very terrain dense, the rest of the terrain won't have hardly any impact on the game, and that, I think, is why I don't like this Scenario as much as I enjoy others in the packet. 

Conclusion:

This is, in my opinion, the most dead Scenario in the book as usually the game will come down to attrition or a surprise assassination, and rarely will a player be able to win on scenario without already having destroyed 90% of the opponents' list.

Scenario 2: Line Breaker



Ah Line Breaker, the Scenario that gets the absolute most hate out of the entire packet for being boring, "dead" and an "auto-win" for gunlines.

If, by the time you have finished reading this post, you want to go out and give this maligned Scenario a try, I have done something right.

I should start this with a disclaimer - if you are not going to be using 8 pieces of centrally placed terrain, Line Breaker really will be a boring, nightmarish, not fun scenario.

If, on the other hand, you use plenty of LOS blocking terrain in the middle of the board as you should be, this can be one of the most dynamic, strange games you will ever play.


Going First or Second:

I will almost always choose to go second on this Scenario. It's actually a far more live Scenario than the forums would have you believe.

Reasons to go first:
- You get to move up the table first.
- You're playing against Haley 3 and want to deny her the opportunity to do anything meaningful until after your second turn.
- You're playing Haley 3 and you need to get Future and Past Haley out as fast as possible so you can actually do things turn 2.


Reasons to go second:
- You get to pick the table edge most protected by terrain
- You get to score first (this one is a big deal).
- You get to counter-deploy to your opponents' deployment (this one is also a big deal).



Game Plan for Going Second:


Yes I'm doing this out of order. Understanding what the second player needs to do is crucial for the first player, plus the second player gets to control the game on this Scenario so writing about it is more fun!

Deployment:

Look at where your opponent deploys, and then skew REALLY hard opposite them, preferably protected by a central forest, building, or other LOS blocking terrain element.

Turn 1:

Run at the flag opposite your deployment. You need to cover 20" of space in 2 turns starting from your deployment line or 14" starting from your AD line in order to get to that flag turn 2.

If you have guns, preferably boostable guns, you need them up the field as well. Their job is to get that objective dead turn 2.

It's not a bad idea to leave a cheap solo hanging out in the backfield, all by themselves. This would preferably be something with Stealth, Incorporeal, or some other way of not getting blown up from range very easily. They will have one job - contest the flags on your side once your opponent realizes what you're doing.

Turn 2:

You need to score this turn. It doesn't matter if you took an alpha from a warjack or warbeast, kill it with what you have available, run a unit or solo to the flag you've chosen, and do your best to destroy that objective. Generally speaking, if you've deployed correctly and your opponent hasn't read this article, you won't have to clear much off of the flag and will be able to destroy it pretty easily. If you can get your warcaster to within walking distance of the flag for next turn, that's even better.

Put some damage on that objective, even if you don't blow it up, and get ready to kill it next turn.

You should be at 1-0 at this point.

Turn 3:

Your opponent has done one of three things now.

1) They've started running their dudes over to contest your flag.
2) They've sat back and shot at you.
3) They've made a beeline for the flags on your half of the table.

And you should respond with:

1) Kill what they've contested with, kill the objective, dominate the flag, going to 4-0.

2) Kill their objective, make sure they can't assassinate you, dominate the flag if possible. If they're sitting back and shooting at you, you've already won the game barring assassination.

3) This is what you want them to do. You've already got a lead, you can contest with your solo(s) that you've left behind for a turn, and if they abandon their second flag, you can get 4 points the following turn to close out the game fairly easily.

I've played games on this Scenario where the second player has won on the top of 3 on Scenario.


Game Plan for Going First:

If you play this Scenario passively, you will lose if your opponent knows how to play this Scenario and they don't give you free opportunities to assassinate their warcaster/warlock.

They're going to laser beam the models around the flag they've chosen to death and then win on Scenario a couple of turns later.

I'll go over what to do about a player that knows their way around this scenario, and if you run into someone who doesn't, follow the advice I've given for player 2, just starting on your second turn.

Turn 1:

You need to immediately run the bulk of your army to the side they've skewed to. It doesn't matter at this point whether or not you're set up to kill a ton of their models turn 2 or not, but denying them the scenario play is the most important thing you can do here. Also consider sending a small, self-contained module of models to their opposite flag, it should be relatively free. Good examples of this would be a lesser warlock/warbeast, an elite unite like Daughters of the Flame or Bloodweavers, or a fast unit that can re-engage with the main part of the table quickly like cavalry models.

Turn 2:

Alright, they should have done one of two things after you skewed really hard to the side.

1) Backed off and started to go around the terrain to your other flag.
2) Charged ahead full bore.

If they do:

1) This is a good thing for you, but don't let yourself get complacent. You now have to fight a hard attrition game to get through their models that are in your face and you also need to be careful not to let a solo or small unit get over to the less protected flag and start scoring.

Keep contesting the flag they've chosen and send your little module of flanking dudes deep if they've left their flags undefended. You might be able to score on their turn if you're lucky.

Stay fluid at this point, you cannot commit too hard to a part of the table with all of your heavies, units, etc. without still getting trapped on a Scenario game.

2) You've been jammed with their chaff and a good player will have their more powerful pieces sitting right out of your threat ranges, waiting to prey on whatever you send at them. This is even more true if they are playing a control caster like Haley 2, Wurmwood, or Deneghra 1, all of whom can make your counter-attack really poor by using Feat and Spell to keep you at bay.

Use minimal resources to clear off their stuff, but remember, you want to keep them fighting right where they are. You have a small selection of models sneaking off to score on their flags, and if you can keep them occupied in your area without letting them score, you can start to pull ahead significantly on Scenario.


Conclusion:

Obviously, every game is going to play out differently depending on what the other person is playing, what you are playing, and how the terrain is set up. Remember, this Scenario can be boring beyond words or it can be one of the most dynamic, interesting Scenarios in the packet. The terrain and player choices will make the difference.

Don't play passively. If you play passively and your opponent does not, you lose. If they play passively and you do not, they lose. If you both play with an engaged pre-game strategy, things get interesting, and that's the best way to play this game.