I just got back from our regular club night, where I had an excellent game of Warmachine against Dean's Retribution. We were warming up for the 50pt Dragon Slayers' Big Bash (which takes place this Saturday), so we both had lists that shared Field Allowance with other lists in our repertoire. This meant no Wracks or Hierophant for me, and no Mage Hunter Assassins for Dean, along with a few other oddities. Here's what our lists looked like:
- Revenger (Bonded)
Temple Flameguard (max)
Exemplar Bastions (max)
Exemplar Errants (min)
Vassal of Menoth
Ravyn, Eternal Light (Tier 4)
Mage Hunter Strike Force (max) + UA
Mage Hunter Strike Force (min) + UA
Mage Hunter Strike Force (min) + UA
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution
Fane Knight Skeryth Issyen
Narn, Mage Hunter of Ios
Holy cow. What a lot of Mage Hunters! With my choice of three squish Protectorate 'casters (Amon, Testament, and eSeverius), this is pretty much my worst possible matchup. Worse still, the scenario was Revelation, and Dean won the first turn. Not good. This meant that I'd have to run at into his crossbow fire in the first turn to have any hope of keeping him off the flags.
Dean set up what little non-advance-deployed stuff he had in the centre, and I decided to gamble and weight my forces toward my left flank leaving only the Flameguard to take the right-hand flag if it was the first one in play, intending to use the Errants to support them if needed. Dean spread his Mage Hunters across the whole width of the board, so I set my Errants up centrally to take either flag as needed. Luckily for me, it was the left flag that started off in play.
Dean's first turn was largely uneventful, using Snipe on the largest unit of Mage Hunters, who then killed off a couple of Errants. Everything else wandered forwards and tried to take a few more, but without success. I was already worried about the assassination threat (20" threat crossbows with boosted attack rolls, Phantom Seeker, and Arcane Assassin? Nasty.), so shuffled Severius back a little, opened up with three shots from my Redeemer, hit 5 Mage Hunters with scattering rockets, and killed one. Just one. Severius had more success, killing two (including an Officer) with a channelled Hex Blast. The Errants ran up towards the centreline to stall the Mage Hunters' advance on my left, whilst the Flameguard did the same on my right. Everything else just wandered closer, and the Choir used a (very necessary) Prayer of Passage to keep my 'jacks safe for a round.
Dean's second turn was painful. Withering fire from lots of crossbows took out all of my Flameguard (he didn't miss once!), Narn took out one Errant, another couple died to crossbows, and the Phoenix Cannons dealt with the rest. Skeryth charged my Revenger, but only did about 5 damage. Dean had forgotten that I had Enliven up on it, so it deftly stepped out of melee, ready to threaten new targets next turn.
Ouch. 13pts of mine lost, and only one of Dean's Mage Hunters lay dead. I was going to have to work hard to redress the balance this turn. I decided to take the risk and Infuse my 'jacks (after the Redeemer's poor performance last turn, this seemed necessary). One Repenter managed to get a cheeky shot off against eEiryss, ending her quickly. Severius managed to hit Skeryth with Reign of Fire, and nailed a couple of Mage Hunters lurking behind him with Admonisher. The Redeemer, well, redeemed itself by taking out three of four elves with its rockets, and the Bastions and Revenger moved to cover as much of the centre of the board with melee range as their could. The idea was that Dean would be able to get a few Mage Hunters into range to shoot Severius, but hopefully not enough to kill him. If I could keep whittling him down, I could take the bite out of Ravyn's feat.
Next turn, Dean used the Griffon, Narn, a Phoenix, and a few Mage Hunters to try to put the hurt on my Bastions, but their Bond of Brotherhood kept the important three alive, so the Mage Hunters had to content themselves with shooting at my Redeemer. They must have been satisfied by that, because five shots was all it took to total the thing! The Revenger was wrecked by the other Phoenix.
Despite feeling the loss of my Redeemer and Revenger, I felt that this was a good turn for me. All three of Dean's 'jacks were in striking distance of my Reckoner and surviving Bastions, and Narn was in range of a Repenter. One blast of flame later, and that was the end of him. The Bastions failed to do anything of note to the front Phoenix (one missed, annoyingly), meaning that the Reckoner couldn't quite seal the deal. It needed another of my Repenters to shoot my Reckoner in the back to finish off the damaged Phoenix. It also happened to catch a Mage Hunter Officer lurking behind. Ooops ... :D Feeling vulnerable, Severius charged a Choir acolyte to get onto a hill, hoping that the +2DEF would help him to survive the surely inevitable feat that was due next turn.
Ravyn didn't feat next turn, as it turns out. I was expecting Dean to move Snipe onto the third, largely intact Mage Hunter unit, and then to use them to finish the job, but he didn't want to risk the 10+ needed to hit the elevated Hierarch, even on three dice. Instead, he turned attention to the nearest Repenter, leaving it on one damage box (amusingly, this was its left arm - the flamethrower!). The remaining Phoenix tried to find a way to hurt the Reckoner, but couldn't deal with Enliven, so it got away with only a light scratch. The Griffon was by now engaged with a Bastion and missing its spear arm, so couldn't contribute much. By the end of this turn, I felt that Dean had missed his chance, and that I had a good chance of cleaning up his remaining resources next turn.
From here, the game went quickly. Severius feated, took over four Mage Hunters, and tried to use them to hurt the Phoenix. It didn't really work well - I don't have Dean's luck with damage rolls. No matter, I just tasked my Repenters with hitting them in the back arc instead, and sent in the Reckoner to sort out the Phoenix, which it did quite handily. At this point, my Reclaimer, who had been quietly collecting souls all game, charged into the midst of the remaining Mage Hunters, meaning that they either had to walk out of melee and take a free strike, kill him in melee, or die to Soulstorm. As it turned out, two of them combined efforts to kill him, and the other two took cheeky shots at Severius, putting about four points of damage on him. Next turn, I cleaned up and left Dean with only Ravyn and a single Mage Hunter to play with, and between them they couldn't deal enough damage to Severius, who was now camping five focus. Severius finally ended things by casting Creator's Wrath and letting his staff do the talking.
Overall, a cracking game. Looking at Dean's force at the start, and watching my army crumble in the opening turns, I had no idea how I could possibly pull out a win, but I managed to keep my head and place my models carefully enough to deny him an easy assassination, while gradually whittling down his supply of Mage Hunters. That was always my plan, and it worked, more or less.
We agreed afterwards that he'd made some silly mistakes by getting Eiryss, Narn and Skeryth killed, and that he'd wasted his last squad of Mage Hunters when he could have run behind my lines to be left with an easy shot as Severius next turn. I'm sure he won't do that again. Still, a great game, and a good lesson in knowing that even the worst matchups aren't impossible to overcome, as long as you keep a cool head and think carefully about positioning.