Monthly Archives: September 2012

Starting Warmachine and Hordes

The next Big Thing here at Chateau Argentbadger is Warmachine and Hordes, hereafter known as WarmaHordes. Of course, there are always reasons for choosing to buy into one game or another, and (for me at least) there has to be a good reason to spend my limited time, money and attention on a particular game. This goes double for a new game where we all have to learn new rules and buy new books and miniatures.  Since this is one of the few games I’ve bought into with even a modicum of thought beyond ‘looks cool’, I decided to show my workings.

This story started when I started using my Ogre Kingdoms in Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I am not an especially good player, but I have literally never lost with this army, and in almost all battles I felt that there wasn’t even much of a threat of that happening. The feeling of being unduly powerful was compounded by Furycat picking up Tomb Kings at the same time and going through the sort of process I expected – i.e. losing a lot until finally getting the hang of the army after significant practice. Worse, I proxied a single game of Lizardmen against the Tomb Kings and won crushingly despite playing terribly for the entire game. This contrasts with my experience with Beastmen, where I always feel that I have to either play well or get lucky (or both) to avoid defeat. To summarise, I felt that there were serious balance issues between the Warhammer Fantasy armies. This isn’t going to stop me from playing the game, as it’s still a lot of fun (especially with Beastmen), but I have been a bit frustrated by the feeling of choosing to play on ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ mode depending on which army I select.

The first part of what I needed was a game with tolerable balance between armies so that I wouldn’t feel like the army was playing itself without me, or that one side was facing a significant uphill struggle solely as a result of faction choice.  For clarity, I’m not thinking about army building here (which I see as a skill in wargaming) but rather selection of which faction to play.

Next, Mrs Argentbadger and I have decided to try a bit of wargaming together. She isn’t a natural geek like I am, so we’re going to take this slowly and see how this goes.  We have busy lives, so this was suggested as a possible way to dedicate an evening to sharing a hobby rather than watching television, or simply indulging our own separate forms of entertainment even when we’re in together.  The main criteria here for game selection are rules which are tight and reasonably simple (by which I mean that they can be followed with logic rather than interpreted) and low model count armies for speedy games.

So, in a slightly roundabout way, I found that I was looking for a wargame with good internal balance, with a simple set of core rules and a relatively small model count. A bit of looking around suggested WarmaHordes as that game.  Let us see if that turns out to be right.

A few tries with the free-to-download rules seemed to be fun enough to entice Mrs Argentbadger back for more tries. I imagine that I am going to need to give myself a bit of a handicap to begin with, but I think that if this proves to be fun then she could easily become strong enough at the game to beat me without assistance. She can defeat me at chess without difficulty, though admittedly that can be said of a lot of people.

In the interests of putting some pretty pictures into the post, I have selected Circle Orboros as my faction. Choosing a force in any wargame always begins with the miniatures for me, and I like the variety of styles in Circle Orboros, ranging from werewolves, stone monsters, druids and barbarians.

I’ve (somewhat arbitrarily) decided to use Morvahna the Autumnblade as my initial Warlock to learn how to play, since her rules look amusing.

Mrs Argentbadger has chosen the Retribution of Scyrah, a faction of angry Elves. After a bit of research they seem to be regarded as a ‘new’ faction with fewer unit choices compared to the others. This might turn out to be an advantage as it will be easier to focus on learning how to play the units that do exist well, rather than swapping out frequently (which I expect to do).

Furycat has, as expected, decided on Cygnar. He always seems to prefer to play the protagonists in any setting (Empire in Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Imperial Guard and/or Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000). We’re going to get in at the deep end and play larger games straight out of the gate as it looks like the test games we’ve had have been a bit imbalanced due to the low army size.

Finally (out of those who’ve expressed an interest in playing at all) Aramoro has looked at Cryx. They’re the evil undead faction, and seem to revolve around crippling the defence of their foes. Still, as he put it: “I don’t always select the annoying faction on purpose”. Here’s a random picture of a group of Cryx Warcasters that I think look cool.

Categories: Hordes, Warmachine | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beastmen vs Tomb Kings (2000 points); 11Sep12

After a lengthy period on the shelf, my trusty Beastmen are back for another shot at glory, this time against Furycat‘s Tomb Kings.  After a shaky start, Furycat recently got his first win with the army against Forkbanger‘s Warriors of Chaos and was keen to push on with the dusty ones.  My army consisted of as much painted stuff as I could manage, including a herd of 20 Gors lifted from the painting table (photos to follow once I get them finished).  I didn’t want to pick an ‘anti Tomb King’ army anyway, so I went for tried and trusty methods; most of these choices will be familiar to readers of this blog.

Great Bray Shaman, level 4, Steel Claws, Jagged Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Shadow (GBS)

Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Beast Banner, heavy armour, shield (BSB)

Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, extra hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)

39 Gors, extra hand weapon, full command (G1)

20 Gors, extra hand weapon, full command (G2)

40 Ungors, full command (U1)

6 and 5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2 respectively)

5 Harpies, scouts (H)

Tuskgor Chariot (TC)

27 Bestigors, full command, Standard of Discipline (B1)

As for Furycat’s list, it transpired that the majority was essentially a delivery mechanism for the Golden Death Mask of Kharnut.  However, I didn’t know that at the time as we play with closed lists as a rule.  He was also looking forward to ramming a Khemrian Warsphinx down my goaty throat since in almost every other game it’s been cannoned off the table (Skaven), tied up endlessly with ethereal units (Vampire Counts) or found that everything is immune to its special sauce (Ogre Kingdoms).  Beastmen have none of that good stuff so there was a certain amount of anticipation for the big stone cat.

Tomb King, Armour of Fortune, Dragonbane Gem, Golden Death Mask of Kharnut, great weapon (TK)

Liche High Priest, level 4, Lore of Nehekhara (Hierophant) (LHP)

The Herald Nekaph (N)

Liche Priest, level 2, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Light (LP)

58 Skeleton Warriors, musician, standard bearer (SW)

20 and 16 Skeleton Archers, musician, standard bearer (SA1 and SA2, respectively)

Khemrian Warsphinx, Fiery Roar (KW)

3 Necropolis Knights, champion, standard bearer (NK)

Casket of Souls (CoS)

Necrolith Colossus (NC)

As usual we randomised terrain and mission, getting Dawn Attack and 10 pieces of terrain.  Also as usual, we forgot about most of the special rules during the game.  Anyway, a Wyrding Well went into the North West corner to make it unappealing to the Khemrian Warsphinx, a Temple of Skulls in the centre and an Idol of Gork in the South.  There are four normal buildings and a Haunted Mansion (the one that looks like a castle in the East) and the fences are Blazing Barricades.  Finally the river turns out to be a Boiling Flood, though I don’t find that out until it’s too late.  The Liche High Priest takes Desert Wind, Cursed Blades, Righteous Smiting and Dessication and the Liche Priest has Shem’s Burning Gaze (swapped from Light of Battle, of course) and Speed of Light.  Over on my side of the table, the Great Bray Shaman takes Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe, Pit of Shades and Okkam’s Mindrazor; I swapped out Penumbral Pendulum as there are just too many chances for it to do nothing even against a low initiative army like Tomb Kings.  The Bray Shaman takes Wyssan’s Wildform and Amber Spear.  Tomb Kings set up and go first, though with the random deployment of Dawn Attack there’s not much thought that can be put into it; of note is that the Gor herd end up in the Boiling Flood and won’t be able to get out until a few of them are cooked.  The small herd of Gors is ambushing, mainly because I haven’t done so for ages.

The Hierophant’s Skeleton Archers get off to a great start by failing their swift reform check and stay stubbornly out of range of those pesky Raiders, but there’s no such luck for the Harpies who are surely getting a face full of arrows.  With 5,4 magic dice rolled (plus a load from the Casket of Souls) Righteous Smiting on the Archers in the East is let through.  Shem’s Burning Gaze (on the Harpies) is dispelled because it was such a low roll that it made sense to use some dice on it rather than because I think it’ll save the Harpies.  Light of Death fails to cast and Desert Wind is dispelled leaving the Archers with Righteous Smiting out of range of anything to smite.  To my amazement the Archers only take down a single Harpy, but the river gets started on the death toll early by boiling 4 Gors.

I get this turn off to a heroic start by completely forgetting to try and bring on my ambushers, though of course I don’t realise this until partway through.  The Raiders in the East huddle up behind the building in the hope of staying out of sight of those nasty Archers and the Gors get out of the bath river.  Otherwise it’s a cagey start as I have no idea what to do about the Colossus and Warsphinx in front of my army.  We get 6,1 magic dice, and start off with Miasma (movement only) being dispelled on the Warsphinx.  The low version of Amber Spear is let through on the Colossus but fails to wound.  The turn ends on a bright note as Pit of Shades gets through on the Warsphinx, doesn’t deviate and then sucks the big chap out of reality.  It’s a bit of a relief for me, though I did feel a bit sorry for Furycat as he’s had a pretty unlucky run with it overall.

The Skeleton Warriors try to charge the Ungors, but the hapless goats fail their terror check despite the presence of the general and BSB and head for the hills.  Not to be out done, the Tuskgor Chariot also fails a terror check from the Colossus (only once though as it was a bit further from the BSB) and zooms off the table.  Suddenly, things are looking a bit less good.  We get a 1,1 magic phase but thanks to the Casket that’s actually pretty good news for the Liche High Priest who puts Righteous Smiting on his Archer bodyguard.  I do manage to dispel Shem’s Burning Gaze.  Amazingly, one of the Raiders lives through the barrage of arrows coming at them, though the Harpies’ luck doesn’t last and they’re wiped out.

The Gors make a slightly generous charge into the Necropolis Knights, comfortable that the mix of killyness and static combat resolution will be enough to swing the day.  The Bestigors move up to make the Skeleton Warriors roll above average on the charge, and then I stupidly bring the lost, hapless, ambushing Gors on directly behind them.  I’m not sure what I was thinking there.  Meanwhile, the Ungors pull themselves together and the Bray Shaman leaves the last Raider to his fate, which is to be trampled flat by the Colossus.  Making up for the low roll in the previous turn we get 6,6 magic dice to play with.  A boosted Amber Spear is let through on the Colossus but only causes 2 wounds, while Miasma on the Skeleton Warriors is dispelled.  To my great irritation, the Pit of Shades gets through (failed dispel) on the Colossus but the blighter makes his initiative test to stay in the game.  Finally, I put Wildform on the Bestigors to make a charge from the Skeleton Warriors even less appealing.  The Necropolis Knights roll armour saves like heroes and only one of them is brought down by the Gors.

My poor Raider is charged by the Colossus, fails his terror check and is run over unceremoniously.  Still, it’s good for the herd as it keep the monster out of the way for another turn.  The Skeleton Warriors make their charge into the Bestigors, and everyone else just shuffles for firing position.  With 6,1 magic dice, I have to let through the Speed of Light on the Necropolis Knights (there’s not many of them so it shouldn’t make a difference).  Dessication on the Bestigors is Dispel Scrolled, mainly because I don’t think that I’m likely to have many more goes with the Bray Shaman carrying it before he’s turned into a pin cushion, and Desert Wind and Righteous Smiting are likewise dispelled.  In combat, the Gors get into their groove and finish off the Necropolis Knights, reforming to face both the Skeleton Archers and the Skeleton Warriors.  Nekaph issues a challenge and smacks the Gouge Horn mercilessly, and otherwise there’s not a lot of action in the central melee.  The lack of BSB re-roll (thanks to the Golden Death Mask of Kharnut) costs the Bestigors their Primal Fury and without it their low number of attacks is quite pitiful.

After a significant consideration, the Ungors charge into the Colossus.  They’re not likely to hurt it, though a poor roll on the thunderstomp could allow them to knock a few wounds off through combat resolution, but in any case I think that the alternative (i.e. getting charged) is going to be a lot worse.  It probably worth noting that (despite the picture) the unit remains within 6″ of the Tomb King and also that I didn’t realise at the time that the range on the Death Mask is 6″.  Still, even with that I am not sure that I would have made a different choice.  The Gors take the much easier decision to charge the Skeleton Archers.  We get 5,3 magic dice and a boosted Miasma (-2) is let through on the Skeleton Warriors.  Enfeebling Foe draws the Dispel Scroll and Wildform is dispelled with the remaining dice.  A swift and brutal showing from the Gors wipes out the Skeleton Archers and Liche Priest, though they can’t overrun into the Casket of Souls as the last couple fall to crumbling.  After that it’s all bad news as the Colossus annihilates a full quarter of the Ungors in one go and runs the rest down; steadfast on leadership 6 is pretty uninspiring.  It then gets even worse as the Bestigors fail both their fear test and primal fury check, lose heavily to the Skeleton Warriors and are run down.  The ambushing Gors take a surprise bus-load of over-running Skeletons to the flank.

Slightly to my surprise, the triumphant Colossus ignores the Bray Shaman and turn to head for the Gor herd.  There are 4,2 magic dice in play, and I use up my dispel dice to prevent one last Light of Death from killing on the Bray Shaman.  Righteous Smiting is then cast irresistably and the Magical Feedback wounds the Liche High Priest.  Needless to say, the Gors are soundly thrashed by the Skeleton Warriors and flee; the rampant Nehekharans reform to chase the other herd in the North.

The Gors predictably charge into the Casket of Souls, and the ambushers rally and then a few of them boil in the river.  With 6,4 magic dice, I put the maximum 6 into the Amber Spear but its dispelled.  Furycat optimistically asks if I’m going to send the Wargor in to the combat with the Casket Guard, but I decline; the Gors are more than up to the task on their own.

Everyone simply moves as quickly as they can (i.e. not very) toward the Gor herd.  Magic gives us 4,3 dice, and finally that’s all as the Casket of Souls is gone.  I fail to dispel Dessication, and with no more dispel dice available Desert Wind moves everyone a bit closer.  Then, for the second turn in a row, the Liche High Priest miscasts Righteous Smiting and takes another wound from Feedback.  Even with all that, Furycat rolls terribly and only a couple of Gors are killed by the Skeleton Archers.

The game is up now, but I have the Gors swift reform and run away from the incoming mass of Nehekharans.  An irresistable Amber Spear does another couple of wounds to the Colossus, but it’s getting healed by the Liche High Priest as quickly as I can damage it.  The miscast fails to wound the Bray Shaman.

Both the Colossus and the Skeleton Warriors try long charges at the Gors; neither make it and the Gors pass both terror checks (though just to rack up the tension I did need the BSB re-roll on both).  All the 2,1 magic dice are used to put Righteous Smiting on the Skeleton Archers but they can’t kill enough Gors to matter.

In one final attempt to gather some victory points, the Bray Shaman tries to kill the Colossus with another irresistable Amber Spear, but it’s not enough to put it down and the miscast doesn’t put the Beastman out of his misery.  We add up the scores; Tomb Kings: 1273, Beastmen: 876.  Victory to the Tomb Kings!

That was a very satisfying game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle with lots of swings over the first few turns.  Furycat played his units the way he needed to play them, and I wasn’t able to put enough in the way to stop them and get my own herds where I needed them.

I really misplayed the ambushing Gors.  Of course, I was hoping that they would arrive somewhere more useful than my own table edge but even so I should have put them on the far East and sent them up to threaten the Liche High Priest’s unit.  On the other hand, I am going to have to think of something to do about the Golden Death Mask of Kharnut.  The best way I have found so far to use the Beastmen is to keep them close together to get the maximum effect of the leadership benefits of the general and BSB.  The Death Mask stops the use of the General’s inspiring presence or the BSB re-roll within it’s range.  To compound this, Beastmen are uniquely vulnerable to leadership effects as they rely on it for Primal Fury as well as psychology effects.

Categories: Battle reports, Warhammer Fantasy Battle | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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