Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Blaize vs Magnus

A couple of weekends ago we did something a little different for our Warmachine game at the Greenhouse, namely we used proxies!  Lots and lots of proxies.  Well, not really lots but you get the idea.  Josh wanted to check out a list he had built around Constance Blaize, a Morrowan warcaster that can work for Cygnar.  Unfortunately it sounded like she might be somewhat specialized so Josh wanted to try them out before investing his money in them.  He was a little concerned about how they would hold up against a ranged faction so I decided to give the Steelhead Riflemen a try as well.

On Josh's side of the table, he had Constance Blaize (of course) backed up by Arlan Strangeways, her warjack the Galant, and a unit of Precursor Knights with a Captain and standard bearer.

The Proxy-palozza! The Trenchers are standing in for the Precursor Knights, the Chief Mechanic is the Captain of the unit, the gobber is the standard bearer of the unit, Haley is Constance, the journeyman is Strangeways, and the Stormclad is the Galant.
Meanwhile I decided to take a break from Cryx and dusted off Magnus the Traitor backed up by a Mangler, a Renegade, a unit of Steelhead Riflemen and Alten Ashley.  Not a list that I was familiar with but thought it would be fun to give them a try.

The Mercs. On my side not quite as my proxies.  The lucky extras working my side of the table are the bile thralls standing in for the Steelhead rifles and Eiryss standing in for Alten.

Having won the roll, I decided to let Josh be first player.  We quickly deployed our forces and Josh began his lightning advance across the board.


On my side of the board, I had Magnus cast snipe on the rifles to boost their range to 14" while putting iron aggression on the Mangler just because.  Then everybody moved forward and the action went back to Josh.

Josh began moving his knights but made the mistake of only moving half of them before moving on to the Galant.  I did the polite thing and pointed out that technically he had ended the activation of the knights by moving the Galant but told him I was cool with him going back to them.  Told me that it was his mistake and he was cool with leaving them as they were.   There wasn't really much more to do on his side except move up Blaize and Strangeways then it was back to the mercs.

I began shifting my forces forward to get into position for their assault next turn while the Renegade let loose its Obliterator, slamming into the knights on the right side of the board and ripping a number of them apart.  Alten moved up the center followed by the rifles, all of whom let loose a flurry of lead into the other group of knights.  Unfortunately their shield wall proved to be too difficult to penetrate and I was only able to fell one of them.

Josh began his turn charging Alten with precursor knights and quickly cutting him down.

Next he turned his attention to the Mangler on the right side of the board.  Unfortunately the iron aggression that I had hoped to use to charge next turn proved to be my undoing as the presence of spell let the Galant roll an extra die on its damage in addition to its boost.  A couple of attacks from its sword quickly reduced the Mangler to a mangled mess and left me with a quickly crumbling army. Finally, Josh moved Constance up behind the Galant and used her feat which left me in an even more tenuous situation.

With her feat Constance is effectively able to gain a focus point for each Morrowan that dies within her control area which made me more than a little hesitant to open fire on the remaining knights sitting in front of my Steelhead rifles.  While trying to decided what to do with this situation I loaded up the Renegade with focus and charged at Constance... only to fall short as it tromped through the forest.  Argh!!!

With my plan quickly falling apart around me, I had originally moved the rifles into contact with the knights just to act as a roadblock to protect Magnus but after a quick discussion about other possible tactics I decided to have them fall back into a defensive line in the hopes that I might have some survive the upcoming charge.

Even with no extra focus from his feat the previous turn, Josh was able to use the Galant to quickly demolish the Renegade that had attempted to attack Constance.

The assault of the precursor knights came next as they slaughtered two thirds of the rifles that had blocked their way.  To the credit of the Steelheads, the two remaining soldiers still managed to hold their ground in the wake of this carnage though at this point it would be of little help.

Almost out of options as well as troops, I tried to move one of the rifles onto the hill but he was cut down just like his companions leaving a lone rifle with Magnus (who was camping on a full load of focus) facing off against a mostly intact Morrowan army.  My only hope at this point was to hope that the Traitor might somehow survive the upcoming turn about would be able to get to Constance.

As the Precursors took down the last rifle, Constance, the Galant, and the rest of the knights surrounded Magnus and were able to end the battle... but just barely.  Between bad die rolls and all the extra armor Magnus had from his focus he actually almost survived the turn.  Just to satisfy my curiosity, Josh and I played out the next turn as if he had survived and unsurprisingly it would have been all he needed to kill Constance even with the rest of his army gone.

So the day ended with a pretty sound defeat which is not too surprising since I was running Magnus.  I love the miniature and his back story but I just can't get my head around how to play him.  I think that at least part of this is the ranged element that I tend to include with him.  Since my primary faction is Cryx which have a notable lack of any kind of ranged weapons other than sprays, judging distance isn't something that I have had enough practice with.  Still I can see fielding him again in the future, especially if I give him some trencher or long gunner support but that will have to wait for now.  As for Josh's thoughts on Constance... by the end of the day he picked up the actual models for the entire force he fielded so I know I'll be seeing them again in the future.

After our game I just hung out and watch the others play for a bit until I was invited to hop into a Chain of Command game on the other side of the Greenhouse.  Josh's Germans had just defeated Chris' Americans by blasting apart his Sherman tank with a panzerfaust.

Now I have to admit that I thought this game had two strikes against it right off the bat.  1) It is a historical game which is not normally my thing by any stretch of the imagination. 2) It's by TooFatLardies, the creators of Sharp Practice (this is the system that was used for the horrendously bad Big Hunt game I talked about here).  Even so, I found myself intrigued so I decided to give it a try and I have to say that I'm glad I did.

My America troops moving onto the board from the right edge of the board.
We were not able to get in a full game but what we did play I really enjoyed.  The command system used in the game along with the Patrol phase which is used to determine your deployment points were a really interesting to see in action and I can see it offering a lot more depth than you typical miniature wargame.

Chris' Germans on the left side of the board getting pinned by my troops.
In fact I enjoyed this game so much that I've decided to look into picking up some Wargames Factory Soviets in the near future but more on this later.  Until next time...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Game Review: King of Tokyo Power Up! Expansion

So a few weeks ago I was raving about how great King of Tokyo by iello Games is and its gotta make you wonder what could they possibly do to make it better?  Maybe add something to make the monsters play a little bit differently to add a little flavor to the whole thing?  That my friends is just what Power Up! does.

What's In The Box?
Since Power Up! is just an expansion it comes in a small box of its own.  Cracking it open you'll find the rules (inside the box this time) and a new monster, giving players yet another option in the game (It should be noted that the game still caps out at six players but having a little variety is always a good thing). Even so, the best part of Power Up! is still in the box; the evolution cards... but more on them soon.  Rounding things out are some handy tokens to track a few new special rules and of course a tray liner to keep it all nice and neat.

How Does This Change The Game?
The basic game of King of Tokyo gives you control of a giant monster seeking to dominate Tokyo which is awesome.  The only thing missing is a little bit of pizzazz to make the monsters more individual which is where the evolution cards come into play.

Each of the monsters in the game (including the newly added Pandakai) is given their own set of eight evolution cards in this expansion.  What makes these really cool is all of them are different but each are really in keeping with the individual monster's theme.  For example, the King has the cards Alpha Male and Simian Scamper while Gigazaur has Tail Sweep and Heat Vision.  These all give you minor tweaks to how your monster plays but really adds a nice flavor to each monster.  Sure Cyber Bunny is cool by himself but add on a Lupine Power Blade and an Electric Carrot and he just gets that much better!

To balance things out, the monsters don't start with all their evolution cards.  Instead players need to earn them by rolling at least three hearts on their turn.  These hearts don't need to be used to heal so you can even evolve while you are in Tokyo which is a nice little feature.  Drawing a card also doesn't replace healing so you don't have to agonize about whether you should keep yourself in the game or try to get a little stronger.

There are also a few variants listed in the rules; active evolution (which lets players start with a random evolution from their deck), controlled evolution (which lets players draw two and keep one as they evolve), and evolution draft (which adds a random drafting element to the evolutions). Our personal favorite is to shuffle all the evolutions together, deal out eight to each player and then everyone starts with the top evolution.  This does reduce the amount of theme that the cards bring to the specific monsters but it adds a really fun mechanic to the game and really helps keep it fresh every time we play

How Does It Measure Up?
Personally I think that this expansion really is a must have addition.  King of Tokyo by itself is a lot of fun but adding in the Evolution cards just takes the game to a new level and also might be part of the reason we play it so much. Using the Evolutions keeps the game fresh as it gives all the monsters enough of a tweak to really keep you on your toes and the amount of replay that it adds to the basic considering its cost makes this expansion invaluable.  Then there is the Halloween expansion... but more on that later.  Until next time...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Issyria vs. Deneghra

Another Sunday and another game of Warmachine!  Sweet!  This time I paired off against Keith with his purple candy Retribution of Scyrah against the original warwitch herself, Denegra!  On Keith's side of the table he had Issyria in the lead backed up by a Hydra (which is being proxied by the Convergence Cipher), a Phoenix, and a ghost sniper.  Meanwhile I decided to switch things up and dig deep into my Army Transport, unearthing a Seether, a Deathripper, a small unit of bane thralls, and of course a pet Skarlock for Denny.  We decided from the beginning to keep it a friendly game as both of us were trying to get the feel for our units (I've actually only played my banes a couple of times and I've never used them since the switch to Mark II) and even allow pre-measuring!  How's that for living on the edge!!!

I won the roll off and decided to let Keith be first player.  With such small forces and being a casual game it didn't really matter but I still like to see just what I'm facing before I have to deploy.  With that done, we quickly headed into the game!

Most of the Retribution force advanced up the center while the ghost slunk off to the right side of the table and Issyria cast some buffing spells onto her Phoenix (I believe that one of them was Admonition which buffed its armor to 20).

My own troops advanced along the center as well in response though I did have my Seether and Skarlock start sliding over to the right in case I needed to deal with the ghost.  I've never faced one before but usually letting a sniper run around on the flank is a bad idea so I wanted to be ready to deal with him.  I also sent my Deathchicken out in front so I could try to make use of its arc node before it was turned into a 4 point piece of scrap metal (I'm not a fan of its cost in Mark II in case you hadn't guessed). 

Channeling through the node, I was able to hit the Hydra with a corrosive stream of venom which I followed up with crippling grasp (yeah, still gotta work on my timing).  Hmmm... maybe the Chickens are worth it after all...

While this was happening, I moved my Skarlock over to try to cast venom onto the ghost but the dice would have nothing to do with it.  Worried that I'd loose my little pet too early, I decided to give the ghost something else to worry about and run in with the Seether.  I wasn't able to get him into melee but at least it gave him something else to worry about in the meantime.

Next turn, the Retribution continued their steady advance in the center toward my main force and both the Hydra and Phoenix opened fire on the Deathchicken but completely missed it! (Definitely reconsidering my opinion of the Chickens now... Need to try fielding them again soon.)  While this was happening, the ghost quickly fell back to rejoin the rest of the battle group and get away from my heavy 'jack that was looming over him.  As he fled, he let loose a shot at the Seether, causing some structural damage but thankfully nothing else.

As played turn over to me and with his troops nicely positioned, it was time to try to hit his heavies as hard as I could.  Deneghra moved forward slightly and then channeled venom through the Deathchicken again.  This time the stream was able to catch both 'jacks and Issyria in one shot which I followed up with a second venom just for good measure.

Next, the bane thralls charged forward and cleaved their axes into the Phoenix and Hydra.  I was hoping that their dark shroud would lower the 'jacks armor enough that I could do some substantial damage but I was only able to damage their shields.  The Seether went next and followed up on that annoying ghost, squashing him into the dirt!  All in all not a bad turn but I had really been hoping to do a little more damage to the heavies.
On his turn Issyria was quickly moved away from the combat while Keith inched his heavies forward and attacked the closest bane thralls, quickly dispatching their ghostly forms before hacking into the Deathchicken with his Phoenix.  Even with its high defense, the onslaught proved to be too much this time and the Deathripper was reduced to scrap.
Having lost half of my Banes and my Deathripper, I decided to take a chance and commit Deneghra herself to the fray.  I unleashed the withering on the two heavy 'jacks then charged her forward onto the debris of the Deathripper.  She lashed out at the Phoenix in the hopes of taking advantage of its current state with the remaining Banes following her lead but even with this combined assault I wasn't able to finish off the Phoenix (Quick note here... I actually should have killed it but I forgot to take the Dark Shroud armor reduction into account.  Just too many modifiers to keep track of this time).  With both of the Phoenix's arm systems and its cortex still remaining, I bracing myself for the worst and waited for the killing blow to land...
...which amazingly enough didn't happen.  Between average dice rolls, the lingering effect of the withering and Deneghra's high defense, Keith wasn't able to land a single hit on her (Another quick note... Keith had used Issyria's feat this turn but this time it was his turn to forget.  Guess it worked out in the end) though the Hydra did dispatch the two Banes that were harassing it.
On my turn, I took full advantage of my ridiculous luck from the previous turn.  The Seether took advantage of its position behind the fray in the center of the field and charged the Phoenix, ripping into the back of the myrmidon and finally destroying it.

With the Phoenix gone, I moved Deneghra around the side of the Seether and hit Issyria with venom but was only able to wound her.  The Skarlock then followed her lead as he moved in and did the same but at the end of the turn she was still alive.

With his forces rapidly disappearing, Keith tried to attack the Seether his Hydra but between damage it had sustained earlier and the crippling grasp that had been in place from the beginning of the game it wasn't able to damage it.

With the end in sight, the Seether tore into the Hydra and was able to finally destroy it which left Issyria open for Deneghra to land the killing blows.

Definitely a good game even with the mistakes that Keith and I made but it was meant to be a friendly game.  We talked some afterward about his force selection since this was his first time fielding the Retribution and we both saw some potential directions to move in for expanding his force.  In particular Issyria's feat gives her entire army truesight and lets them all roll and extra die on their attacks, choosing the best to use.  With its current build there's not a lot that can benefit from this but if he added in some of the riflemen that feat would become quite a bit more devastating.  It will definitely be interesting to see how it develops in the future and it was also a learning game for me as well.  Maybe the Deathrippers really are worth four points after all...  Until next time...