Hello! Jaden has demanded I write my perspective on the recent LoS Civil War Batrep
and so... here I am!
For those who haven't read that one (or just don't remember), Jaden was recently married, and I made my way up to his neck of the... mountains... to attend as his best man. We don't see each other often, and haven't played a game of Warmachine against each other since last Warmachine Weekend so we decided to do his last night as a single man in the best way a couple of absolute nerds know how: a throwdown between the forces of the Protectorate and the savage Northkin Trollbloods. I didn't have the breadth of my collection of weirdness with me and was still working out what I wanted to play for a Steamroller I was going to the next weekend, so I figured I'd go to an old standby: the Durst list I dropped in the Las Vegas Open masters. Jaden opted to throw down some Grim1, a warlock I've played against oddly often lately.
We randomly rolled Spread the Net because the universe hates me and he threw down some terrain for us.
Anson Durst - Faithful Masses
min Zealots w/CA x2
Champion of the Wall x2
Vassal Mechanik x2
Grim Angus - Storm of the North
Bear Handlers x2
Krielstone w/Northkin Elder
He won our starting roll and opted to go first, which is reasonable because he is fast and I am slow. He also doesn't really care about terrain that much so whichever side I pick is mostly just for my own convenience rather than trying to screw him over in any major way (typical Protectorate stuff.) I pretty much just took the side I was sitting on because it was sort of nice to have a hill I guess and... that was pretty much it, just didn't really want him to have the hill. Don't think there were any major terrain considerations for either of us here, I've got Boundless Charge if I need it and he can hand pathfinder around where necessary, and my approach to guns is less about DEF and more about just being really damned tanky. In hindsight I probably could have used the wall on his side and my own wall from theme to mess with the Sea King's potential landing zones but... hindsight, hindsight.
He deployed his King and Bomber to my left, Champs to the right. Bear handlers AD'd menacingly centrally and slightly spread out. My deployment is fairly symmetrical, with Champions and Zealots holding the sides, battlegroup and support bricked up in the center. Nothing too crazy here. My wall goes up on the right, mainly because there's just not a lot of terrain there so it gives my zealot CA something to hide behind on that side.
Trollbloods Turn 1
Stuff runs! The warrior models get their bonus speed from the Stone and the bears get up in my business super quick. Really they're at about the center line but... I need to move up as far as I can to be relevant on scenario so I'm getting in their threat ranges whatever I do. Generally speaking though stuff just ran forward.
Protectorate Turn 1
Not the first time I've been in this position. I always seem to fight super fast armies that threaten me bottom of 1 with this caster... the thing with Durst is that when you're in this position, it is extremely tempting to do a bottom of 1 feat. The trouble is, if you do that, in almost any circumstance, you have essentially conceded the game. You buy a little bit of board space but if the army is fast enough to be threatening you this early, they're fast enough to just back off for a turn and obliterate you with an alpha in the following round. Further, all that feating this early would do is give his Champs an extra round to reach my army. All of these things, however, are why the two min units of Zealots are here (well, and activating Hand of Vengeance.) This is a situation I'm extremely familiar with, as most of my formative months... years... playing Warmachine were spent trying to figure out how to survive Issyria Halberdier charges super early, and it's time to dig into that experience and make myself a bunker surrounded in crap I don't care about.
I don't do much besides run, but the specifics of placement are pretty important. The Choir sing Passage to at least make it a bit more annoying to start shooting at me. Deceleration, Bulwark, and Hallowed Avenger go up, with the latter going on the Templar to the right of my army. The right side Champion flanks way out to the right around the burning clouds, as his flag is going to be absolutely key to keeping me in this game. The left side one just runs around the forest and stares him down; he was a bit unnecessarily close, which I'll learn shortly.
The Zealots are the real key here. It's a little difficult to explain the positioning here but each one is where he is for a reason, trying to create complex angles for the bears to move through, requiring very choice attacks from Jaden to allow any to pass through. After the first Zealot dies, the unit bumps up to ARM 18 vs. guns which is extremely resilient, especially against things like the Bomber's blast damage. The Monoliths sit behind the 'jacks with LOS blocked as much as possible, because if they die then my future turns will have no screening and frankly I just won't have enough attacks to stay in the game.
Trollbloods Turn 2
Unfortunately, the only thing I haven't really accounted for here is the extreme threat and positioning advantage caused by the Sea King. I really just don't have the Zealots or even the outright speed to deal with that particular issue but... I've done my best.
Jaden spends a long time working out the best way through the Zealots, including debating a caster assassination attempt for a while. Durst is on zero but... I feel pretty good about him, he's DEF 15 and steady at the moment due to Bulwark, Retaliatory Strike has a... slim... chance to outright kill a Bear which would basically make his chances near-zero if it happened... I'm not too worried. Admittedly the feat can get his DEF a bit low. He also has to get through a lot of Zealots to make that happen and, after we both talk it through for a bit, he decides it's not a great call. Instead, he decides it's time to remove the Champion of the Wall on my left and get the Sea King into the left most Templar.
Part of the trick here, though, is the Zealots are actually pretty hard to shoot, and they're pretty resilient to blast damage after the first one is dead. I spread them out so no direct hit will kill one, and the Templars can even shield guard many of them, so he decides to have the Bomber stay just out of range of the center most zealot from the black unit and miss on purpose, deviating a bit wide. Between his two shots and some boosts, a few zealots are dead, but not really the ones he wanted. Still, some ground is cleared. He puts a shot into the left most Templar with Grim and I, not totally realizing what was going on, didn't do any shield guarding. The bears went in, doing some damage on my templar as well as speed bumping on some zealots, one putting the hurt down on my Champion. The Sea King went in, getting the extra charge distance on my Templar and between its massive chain attacks and other initial, both my Templar and the Champion are dead. Grim at this point has also feated on my army, which means my 'jacks are all SPD 1 and can't charge which is a bit awkward. Nothing like an Indictor threatening 2". The right side mostly just run around, he decided not to spend time killing Zealots because there wasn't much point, he'd rather just engage a few, and the Champs all piled in towards my zone. Fortunately for me he also didn't leave anything that could score in his own zone, so at least I don't have to worry too much about contesting that zone for a turn. The sea king, I should note, also flung a blob of goo over to the rest of my 'jacks, making them even slower if they wanted to get anything done. I think he may have killed a Zealot or something... I know I got Hallowed Avenger triggered but I'm not sure how.
Protectorate Turn 2:
Looks a bit dire but... is what it is. My right side 'jacks mostly sort of durdle around, there's not much to be done there. Zealots have a little more room to breath on the right side, and they spend some time chucking bombs into Champs, mostly just doing some chip damage, which is fine. My Champion over on the right does exactly what I brought him here to do: run around and contest his flag. The Templar on the left, with Hand of Vengeance and Battle, explodes two bears, and Durst.... flails ineffectually at a bear with basically his entire focus stack. I make like four or five attacks on him and do like... three damage or something. Durst parks base to base with the Templar as he does this and pops feat. The Zealots on the left minifeat just outside Grim's feat range and throw bombs at some stuff, plinking the Sea King for a few points but largely not doing much. Nothing super wild, we're basically in damage control mode and hoping the feat can hold us out for a while. Also of note, Vilmon charged the bear that I did basically no damage to, and proceeded to do like 2 damage to it. That bear.
Trollbloods Turn 3:
So he kind of has two options here. One is to try to keep digging in on my army, but this time under the feat, and the other is to back off a little, clear up what he can, and try and come back next turn. He does... a little bit of both. The Sea King backs off a little, flinging a corrosive AOE all over my blob of Templar, Durst, and Zealots. Between that and the Bomber the Zealots mostly die (I spaced how they sort of die to blast damage even if they're touching my 'jacks), but my battlegroup remains intact. Vilmon dies to bears. Poor bastard. The bears on the right work on zealots for the most part, mulching a handful of them, and the Champs are forced to split pretty wide, Skaldi and one other Champ getting charge range on my Champion of the Wall. The Champion retaliatory strikes the random champ that charged him for huge damage, killing him instantly, and Skaldi, in a combination of failing to hit and bad damage rolls, does basically nothing to the resilient paladin. He's doing his job up there. His repositioning does allow him to start scoring his own zone though, which is a concern, and when he ends his turn the score is 0-1, Trollbloods favor. The important part, though, is I took no seriously vital damage this turn.
Protectorate Turn 3:
I survived the post-alpha alpha! Welcome to the Protectorate, kids. Alright, so we need to shake knockdown on my Templar and get him into the Sea King. We need to get some work done in general...everywhere. Kill everything, that's a good plan.
My Champion of the Wall wails on Skaldi a bit, doing some damage which gets spread around a little. The Zealots on the right minifeat and are able to kill one wounded champ. Durst gets Boundless Charge onto the Templar and puts more attacks into the bear, who no joke takes like four more attacks from Durst and is barely even half dead. Dice were absolutely hating me against that thing. Luckily my Templar on the right has Hand of Vengeancea nd pretty trivially cleans up the two bears, and the Indictor charges the bear handler on the right and cleans him up. Zealots on the right run to just stand in the way of things, and the Templar cruises into the Sea King, staying a bit wide but doing some pretty good damage. Mainly I wanted to stay out of walk-and-throw range of the Bomber. I contested his zone with a zealot who would obviously die pretty quickly, and that was more or less what my turn had in store.
Trollbloods Turn 4:
So yeah, Kings have bulldoze. Things to remember.
Jaden is pretty sure he can kill me. What proceeds, however, is one of the most ill fated assassination runs I have ever been on either end of, and a good example of why I basically never assassinate people.
The logistics of why this goes so wrong were a little complicated and I don't remember all the parts, but the important things are we spend about a year proxy measuring his movement onto Durst. What we determine is he can reach Durst and remain in melee range with the Templar, but only if the Monolith Bearer is killed first. Further, he needs to Mantrap Durst to knock him down. The Mechanik died, but he shot the Monolith directly which sac pawned off to the zealot in front of him, killing that instead. Grim shot his second shot, but it bounces off the high armor of the Monolith. So... that guy lives. He attempts his man trap, boosting the first which misses and deviates way too far, and the second... misses, and also deviates way too far. I honestly don't even remember what the bomber did, but I'm sure it didn't work.
Quick sideline over to the Champs and my Champion. Skaldi and two more Champs go in on the Champion, who... lives. Yeah I dunno.
Anyway, back to the Sea King. At this point all he has left is the Sea King needs to just... go kill Durst, and he has to take a free strike to do it. He goes for it, and the damage roll cranks a bit, and goes straight into his spirit, knocking it out. At that point, game is basically over. Durst can clean up the Sea King pretty easily, he might be able to score a point or two on me for a second but... it's going to come collapsing down extremely quickly.
This was a weird game to really go over takeaways for. Part of the issue is Jaden is fairly new to Mk. 3 trollbloods, so there were some little mistakes throughout, be it order of activations things or just mistakes on what rules did (how DARE he knock over my Templar illegally!) To make it a bit stranger, dice were going ballistic in all directions, either spiking like mad at weird times or failing to do anything effective when things should be basically assured. Was a good reaffirmation of my usual mantra with Durst, which is essentially that if you feat bottom of 1, you have already lost the game, and positioning to eat an alpha like that without feating is one of the most important skills for a caster like this.
At the end of the day, though, was just a good time to go play a game with my friend who I see very rarely, and have a few laughs as things all went spiralling out of his control.
See y'all around!