Friday, June 29, 2012

Wargamescon: Hardcore Tourney Report

stick 'em with the pointy end!

This last weekend I played three days straight of warmachine at Wargamescon. This was the first year I played Warmachine at WGC, having played 40k the last few years. The highlight of the weekend (for me) was the Old School Hardcore tournament. It was a 50-point, single list event. There was no scenario, just caster kill with Killbox in effect. we had 7 minute turns with no extension, and if the round time was called before a caster died, both players got a loss for the round.

Having never played in this sort of format before, I decided to try something totally different. I went back and forth on caster choices leading up to the event. Skorne likes to play the attrition game in general, with few casters that are good at going for the quick kill. I considered going with eMakeda and trying to use the Molik Missile, but I found I had a lot of trouble getting everything done in 7 minutes with her, especially with Vengeance on the swordsmen. also, with no time extension the feat turn took too long to be effective.

Not having a real good answer, I decided I was just going to have some fun. I've been messing around with eMorghoul lately, and have found him to be very fun to play. For a caster that is generally considered "bottom tier", he is a fun caster. in fact, I was 5-0 with him going in to this event. to top it all off, he is one of the coolest models in-faction.

I ran the following list (which is very similar to my list here):

    Basilisk Krea
    Cyclops Brute
    Molik Karn
    Razor Worm
    Titan Gladiator
Aptimus Marketh
Master tormentor
Orin Midwinter
4 Paingivers
10 Praetorian Swordsmen + UA

Round 1 was against a Mortenebra Tier 4 list (lists are all to the best of my memory, if any models are wrong, they didn't end up having much of an effect on the game)

About as creepy as Cryx come...

    3X Slayer
    2X Stalker
3 Scrap Thralls
2 warwitch sirens

He gets the first turn and deploys everything pretty centrally, with a Stalker on each flank, and a wall of heavies in front of Morty. I set up with a screen of swordsmen in front of my heavies, with Morghoul and his triangle of defensive beasts slightly off to the right. he puts Deathjack in front of my caster, and I drop my master tormentor off to the left.

Turn 1 we both move up, with most of our stuff running. Deathjack puts Spectral Steel on himself, and Morty ends up on a hill with a wall of heavies in front of her. on my turn most of my stuff runs, except for Morghoul who puts up the Krea's animus on himself, and the master tormentor who charges and kills a scrap thrall (and survives on one box when it explodes.) she sprinted over to engage a Stalker on the left flank.

And here was my first mistake of the day. I felt like Morghoul was pretty safe sitting on 3 transfers and hiding behind 2 swordsmen and 3 defensive beasts and a solid building. I ended up running him way too far forward for having the second turn. I blame it on not playing vs Morty very much. He spent a good amount of time on his turn 2 thinking about how to make it all work. he had one of his jacks shoot a swordsman that was in the way, one killed my krea, then he had Morty cast terminal velocity, overrun on DJ and feat. Deathjack charged my razor worm (through the building that was in the way... dang Spectral Steel). it took him 2 attacks to kill the worm, and then DJ overran into Morghoul. He had enough focus to burn through my transfers and did enough damage to knock Morghoul down to 3 boxes. He still had 1 or 2 focus on DJ, and.... time! Saved by the bell. his turn was up before he could finish the deed, and no extensions meant there was nothing to do about it.

I was a bit taken back by having come so close to losing my first hardcore round on turn 2, and did my best to avoid going another round with DJ right there on my caster. Morghoul cast flashing blade, blinding DJ, walked away and feated. I moved some other models to defend Morghoul and shift my whole line to the left a bit for a try on his caster next turn. Swordsmen ran and gummed up his line of Jacks, and Orin did no spells. At the end of my turn kind of as an after-thought, I charged Morty with my Master tormentor (elite cadre let me avoid any free strikes on the way in). she just cranked it, hitting Morty and hot for damage, doing 10 boxes!

On his turn 3, he cast terminal velocity again, and sent one of his jacks at Morghoul again this turn, but didn't get through his transfers without the feat re-rolls and with Morghoul sitting at def 19. he killed the Master Tormentor and moved the warwitches in to protect Morty (since they couldn't cast their magic sprays to clear swordsmen. thanks Midwinter!). Nothing else really happened this turn

On my turn, I saw my chance at the kill. Morghoul healed up my Archidon, who had lost an aspect due to a transfer earlier. my swordsmen managed to kill off on of the Warwitches in front of Morty, opening a landing zone. Marketh put Ghost Walk on the Archidon, the paingivers enraged him, and the Gladiator Rushed him. One fully boosted attack later and Morty was toast.

It was a close win, and I got a bit lucky when DJ ran out of time trying to kill my caster.

My second game was against another local player who was using Terminus. Going in to it, we both knew it would be a rough matchup for eMorghoul. And trying to clear out all of those banes and McThralls was going to be terrible with 7 minute turns.

Lich Lord Terminus

that is one big dude...
    arc node of some kind
10 Bane Knights
10 Bane Thralls + UA
6 Biles
Darragh Wrathe
Madelyn Corbeau
10 Mechanthralls + 3 Brutes
Saxon Orrik
Withershadow Combine

I won the roll-off and went first. Turn 1 was as simple as it gets, everything ran. His stuff ran. I think temrinus put Malediction on himself turn 1. he basically had a wall of McThralls and Banes in front of me at this point.

I considered popping feat on turn 2, but decided to hold off on it for one more turn, assuming my swordsmen were toast anyways. I charged swordsmen into the central block of Mechanthralls, killing a number of them and trying to clog up his lines a little bit (a game Terminus is much much better at). I hid Morghoul in "the pocket" (Krea, Brute, Razor Worm in a triangle in front of him). My beasts hung back a bit, trying not to get in range of Banes with my heavies.

On his turn 2, he ended up getting a bit overconfident and went for it. I think he was trying to get to Morghoul before the feat was up, since it is a good bit easier to hit Def 17 than def 19. Madelyn Corbeau and Darragh Wrathe did their thing, moving Terminus up the field a bit. banes killed some swordsmen and one of my lights, leaving space for Terminus to charge Morghoul. Morghoul still had 3 transfers on him, and didn't go down. He spent the rest of his 7 minutes killing some swordsmen, getting Terminus up to ARM 25 (and it's Arm from a feat, so Morghoul doesn't ignore it).

Turn 3 I started with my paingivers whipping all of my beasts. the krea and brute got out of the way. Molik Karn charged Terminus, and got him down to about 7 or 8 boxes. Morghoul tried next, but had trouble doing much. He did a few points of damage over the course of 3 attacks, and blinded Terminus. The Gladiator then slammed Terminus, smashing him into a wall and boosting damage. 4 dice on damage with a pow 17 was enough to remove the last few points of damage on terminus.

Had he hung back for one more turn and feated, I don't think I would have survived the next turn. I would have feated and camped a full 5 Fury knowing the assassination was coming. even with all that, I would have had trouble weathering that many attacks.

Round 3 was against one of the Texas Renegades guys running Siege Brisbane:
good old-fashioned gunline

Gun Mages with UA
Gun Mages
Black 13th

(I'm missing 4 points in there somewhere, but that was basically what he had. For some reason I am having a lot of trouble remembering what was in this list)

I won the roll of again and of course went first. Most of my stuff ran, Morghoul put up the Krea animus and hid in the pocket. His turn 1 he managed to kill 8 of my swordsmen, after running 2 rangers way out of formation to get the hit bonuses against my guys. he did some damage here and there to a couple beasts, but nothing major (one hunter tried to get some damage on Molik, but missed, the other just killed a swordsman because of range).

On my turn 2, I ran the last few swordsmen and the master tormentor to engage a few shooting models. everything else got set for my feat turn. my Archidon and Molik ran on to a hill in the center of the table, morghoul moved up the field in the pocket (this time with everything active - Morghoul was BtB with the Worm, who cast bomb shelter, the krea popped her animus and the Brute put safeguard on Morghoul and stood ready with shield guard). Morghoul feated and held 3 fury. I felt pretty confident I would survive another turn, and if siege didn't book it, he was in range of my beasts next turn.

He decided to try for the kill anyways, as Morghoul was in range for most of his army to get the aiming bonus. Siege feated and shot a rocket at Morghoul, which hit but was transferred to the gladiator. everything else opened up on my stuff, but between bad rolls, Def 21 vs shooting, and one shield guard intercept Morghoul was left mostly healthy with one transfer left. He ran out of time with a couple of models left to shoot, but we rolled it out after the game was over and it still wouldn't have been enough. his dice were rolling a bit low, but I would have been surprised if I had died that turn. The defensive beasts aren't all that impressive individually, but stacking all of that defensive tech is almost foolproof against ranged assassinations.

On my next turn, Siege was just way too close to my lines. Morghoul killed off a couple of rangers to clear a lane, Marketh put Ghost Walk on the Archidon and the paingivers enraged beasts. The Archidon tried first, but rolled low and only hit with one attack, not doing enough damage. Molik charge and sidestepped over to siege and finished him off with 1 bought attack.

Had my opponent moved siege back, he would have probably had one more assassination attempt on me, but he would have had to do it with less models (and Morghoul would camp a full 5 if I didn't have a good shot at Siege). If his dice had been better he might have had a shot at it, but it just didn't pan out.

With that, I was in to the finals. I hadn't expected to do nearly this well in the event, so I was pretty happy to have even made it in to the finals. My last opponent was another Houston player running eKreoss tier 4. He was playing on the table next to me in round 3, and I was somewhat intimidated by the army. it would be very difficult to clear that many Exemplars with such short time limits, and his feat is a very hard counter to a caster with 17/14 defensive stats.
too many weaponmasters!

Grand Exemplar Kreoss
    Fire of Salvation
2X Daughters of the Flame
Errant Seneschal
2X Knight Exemplar Seneschal
max Errants with UA
2X Knights Exemplar
High Exemplar Gravus
min Vengers

Turn 1 was pretty standard. he moved up, I moved up.

On his turn 2, he moved most of his stuff up again, hiding Kreoss way in the back behind the Vengers. the errants started shooting through my swordsmen, killing 4 or 5 of them. one unit of Daughters ran up my right flank to try to tie down my lights. everything else just advanced in one big wall of high-arm weapon masters. 

On my turn 2, I tried to clear out as much as I could (which wasn't much). the Swordsmen used their mini-feat and cleared out a few Errants and about half a unit of Knights Exemplar. My master tormentor killed another 2 Knights and knocked a few boxes off of a Seneschal. His unit of Daughters was doing a good job of tying stuff down, so I charged into them with my Krea, Razor worm and some paingivers. I got lucky on the rolls, and knocked that unit down to 2 daughters (this ended up being pretty big). Molik Karn moved up behind a wall near the center of the table, behind the remaining swordsmen. Morghoul moved up behind the wall with Molik and put Sprint on the Archidon. He then popped feat. The Archidon hopped over some models to attack a group of errants. he killed 2 or 3 errants, but then I ran out of time before I could use his sprint move.

Using my feat on turn 2 did exactly what I had hoped it would. the best way to counter enhanced defense is to use a feat that makes everyone hit automatically. by feating early, I got him to feat early, using his feat to clear out part of my army instead of saving it for a serious assassination run on Morghoul. Kreoss moved up and feated, the errants and knights cleared all but 2 of my swordsmen and my krea. a seneschal took down the razor worm, I think something killed my brute. the last two daughters in their original unit charged Morghoul. I got really lucky in killing 4 of those daughters on my turn. even 2 of them with auto-hitting attacks and 3 attacks a piece chewed through my transfers and all but 5 boxes of my health. any more daughters in the unit and it would have been game right there. He then had his Vengers declare a cavalry charge on Molik. the first one had to make an impact attack against the last remaining swordsman, who happened to be the officer. he didn't roll high enough, and only did 2 or 3 boxes to the officer, failing his charge. that Venger was then in the way of the other 2, who just ran to block off Kreoss.

Now that the big danger (the feat) was out of the way, I took a deep breathe and got to work. my paingivers rolled well again, killing one daughter with a back strike the rest of the unit put Enrage on Molik and the Archidon. the gladiator killed the other one with a boosted attack roll, then put Rush on Molik. Marketh put Ghost Walk on the Archidon. Morghoul moved up past midfield so I could force my beasts. the Archidon flew right over the exemplars and Vengers in the way and attacked Kreoss. he missed his charge attack even with a boost, and followed it up with one fully boosted attack that hit and did a bit of damage.

Next I moved in Molik Karn. he charged an errant and killed it, using side-step to get to one of the Vengers. he killed that one too, but had to spend a fury to boost the attack after missing. he then side-stepped up to Kreoss, and bought some more attacks. after he was finished, Kreoss had 2 boxes left! to make things worse, he had regained those 2 boxes when Molik killed the Errant and the venger. if I had done Molik first, the Archidon would have finished the game. Now I had Morghoul way out in front (with only 5 boxes), and had missed my assassination run.

On his turn, Kreoss used his Smite special attack to get Molik out of the way. Fire of Salvation moved over and started smacking Molik, not quite killing him. all of the remaining Exemplars charged Morghoul, but his def 17 was just too high for them to hit. he took 2 or 3 hits, but transferred them all to the gladiator. There wasn't much else he could do, since everything had charged at Morghoul.

I had way too much fury out on the table, since I had been going all out to try to finish off Kreoss. I took all the fury from the Archidon, and let the others make their frenzy checks. the gladiator passed his check, but Molik went crazy, doing one attack at Fire of Salvation. Morghoul used apparition to move around the models that had rushed him. the judge paused the time and measured it out real carefully. there was one spot where Morghoul could make it out. the way the models had charged in had left a space between one of them and the wall. normally Morghoul wouldn't be able to teleport over another small base, but this time it worked out because of that gap. The Archidon tried again on Kreoss, but couldn't hit to save his life. Morghoul was just in range of Kreoss, and walked into combat. One hit from Mercy was enough to end the game, and the tournament!

And the winner is....

This last game was an intense one. there were quite a few turning points and 2 failed assassination attempts. to make things more exciting, we had several judges watching every little move, and a dozen spectators watching by the end of the game. I had never played in a game at that level before, and I had no idea how much that could change the feel of the game. All in all it was a great event, and I had a blast with all of my opponents.

A few months ago I picked up eMorghoul, wanting to find some way to make him work. he gets a ton of flak from the Skorne community, but he has one of my favorite models in the range. I was determined to find a way to make eMorghoul work. Granted, I played him in a fairly unique list that was tooled up to work well in this specific format (quick turns, kill-box, caster kill only). Turns out the "Lord Assassin" is pretty good in Assassination-only games. While I won't argue that eMorghoul is one of our best casters, I don't think he deserves all of the bad press he gets.

Thanks for reading this long post! it's a lot of text, but if you're at all like me, you like reading any battle reports you can get your hands on, especially from tournaments. If you liked these reports, be sure to leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. You got lucky but you had a solid plan. I gained a lot of respect for eMorg from reading this.