On the 30th of last month, I broke out some Warmachine, and more specifically, broke out some Venethrax, who I had recently assembled, and had been interested in playing.
So, I enlisted Mr. Rob to play some games, breaking out his Khador.
The list I took for both games was this:
Lich Lord Venethrax
Bane Knights (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Bane Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Bane Lord Tartarus
General Gerlak Slaughterborn
Admittedly, this isn't a terrible original list compared to the list I take with ANY caster, but I promise- I'm working on getting some new Cryx stuff up and running.
Rob's list for game one was a Tier 4 Full Assault list:
Forward Kommander Sorscha
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Winter Guard Infantry (Leader and 9 Grunts)
* Winter Guard Infantry Officer & Standard
* 3 Winter Guard Infantry Rocketeers
Winter Guard Mortar Crew (Leader and Grunt)
Winter Guard Mortar Crew (Leader and Grunt)
This looked pretty impressive on the table, with the Colossal and the Battle Engine.
We decided to play a Steamroller 2013 scenario, and ended up rolling Outflank. Basically, two circles around the middle of the table, and you need 5 Victory Points to win. You score one for controlling a circle, and two for dominating it (meaning your warcaster is in it, and it's not contested by your opponent).
Rob won the roll to go first, we set up our forces, and were off.
Rob started the game off by running his large unit of Winter Guard central to the table, with a two in the zone to my right.
I had set up my caster on the right, after all, and at the very least, Rob wanted to make sure I was forced to engage him to dominate the zone.
With the Theme Force, Rob's mortars received a free pre-game move, meaning they were in position to try for acting from the first turn. He attempted to take a long range shot at the Deathjack, missed, but the deviation stayed on the Deathjack, still doing no damage.
Sorscha cast Boundless charge on a bunch of Rob's models, moved towards the center, and was joined by the rest of Rob's forces.
I start my turn by running my entire army forward aside from Venethrax and the Deathjack. No sense in risking the jack so early, I thought, and decided that Venethrax needed to set the town early. He walked forward a little, and used the Deathripper to arc a Blood Rain into the Winter Guard, which hit and killed four. Pretty good start to the game, from my perspective.
Rob starts working to soften me up by shooting. His mortars take shots at my Bane Knights, and manage to kill one. The Winter Guard follow up by hoping over the fence, getting into position, and spray into my Banes, killing 2 Bane Thralls and a Bane Knight. Unfortunately, Rob forgets to give his guys the Bob & Weave order (for the extra defense).
The Winter Guard who didn't spray down my Banes take a CRA shot at my Deathripper, and at 'Dice plus 5' roll snake eyes, dealing a total of 7 damage (and to add even more insult, he rolls a column that ends up disabling none of my systems).
The Conquest tries to get into the action, walks forward, and begins shooting. He ends up killing Gerlak and drops four more damage onto the Deathripper, which I believe disabled the movement? I can't remember.
Rob followed this up by advancing his other big model, the Gun Carriage into the zone, and shooting as well, but only managed to kill a single Bane Knight.
His turn ends with him advancing Sorscha up to cast Iron Flesh on the Winter Guard. With Bob and Weave, that would have been incredible, but yeah, as mentioned above, it's just not fully there, sadly.
At this point, I've actually taken quite a bit of casualties from shooting, but I see that I've got a lot of space on my right to take over the zone, and scoring early will set me up for a good chance to win.
I start out by activating Venethrax, who moves into the zone, and casts a Blood Rain through the Deathripper into the Winter Guard, killing 3. I follow with Bane Lord Tartarus charging into them, killing another one, and finish with charging by Bane Thralls and a Bane Knight into them, killing yet another one. The poor Winter Guard decide they've had enough, and even with the Standard Bearer, fail their command check. At this point, I'm guaranteed to Dominate the zone on my right.
The other two Bane Knights charge into the Gun Carriage and between them and the Pistol Wraith (who activated earlier) manage to deal 14 damage to it, not enough to kill it.
The Deathjack ends the turn by killing another two Winter Guard, grabbing me two more souls to use for getting into the action next turn. I gain two control points, for dominating the right zone.
Rob decides his chances are perfect for an assassination, and goes for it. He starts with Sorscha activating, and popping her feat. She then tries to shoot at my Deathripper, misses, and casts Iron Flesh on herself.
Rob activates the Conquest, aims, boosts, and takes a shot from the main gun into Venethrax, who I think had no focus on him (oops!). He needs a 9 to hit, but rolls an 8, which scatters to no effect. With his best shot to end me gone, he has the Conquest use his other shots to kill a Bane Knight, a Bane Thrall, and put 6 damage onto Bane Lord Tartarus, as well as kills one of my Pistol Wraiths.
The Gun Carriage activates, and kills a Bane Knight in combat with it.
Rob hasn't given up on his assassination though. The Mortars both take shots again Venethrax, both miss, and Rob is forced to concede (he can't stop me from scoring enough control points to win).
So, first game over, and I still don't feel like I have any feel for Venethrax. Plus, I really screwed up my setup. My Mechanithralls spent the entire game behind my army, unable to find a way to get out and into the action. We had decided to play another game, and I was determined to not make that mistake for this one.
I took the same list as before. Rob chose to run:
Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss
Pretty heavy list. I won the roll to go first this time.
I run everything forward, but have Venethrax cast Dragon Slayer on himself and advance.
Rob basically does the same thing. Everything runs up but Vlad, who casts Hand of Fate on the Conquest.
I am still out of range to do anything, and again basically run everything forward. I can't score points this turn, so choose to get as far forward as I can to put pressure on Rob.
Rob responds by upkeeping Hand of Fate on Conquest, and getting to work. The Conquest aims his Main Gun at the Deathripper, and hits, dealing 12 damage to my poor little jack, disabling the Arc Node. His other shots manage to kill a Bane Thrall and a Bane Knight. He also throws down two templates in front of my Bane Knights, to try to limit my movement.
The Berserker attempts to charge my Stalker (off far to my right), but is a few inches out of range.
Drago walks forward and kills my lead Mechanithrall (I had sent the unit into the left zone to try to keep Rob back in his zone). Vlad joins in the fun, pops his feat, and charges a Mechanithrall, killing it. His side steps kill another two, and his Sprints back to safety. Rob's goal was to get forward to kill one of my Pistol Wraiths, but failing to do so, chose to get back to where he wasn't in danger.
The Kayazy activate and charge into the Mechanithralls as well, killing another two. They were a little too far out to get at the rest of them, unfortunately.
Rob ends the turn by advancing his Devastator, attempting to threaten my right zone some.
I decide that the Kayazy are probably my biggest concern at this point. With some luck, they could get through all of my infantry, and if Rob managed to successfully contest my right zone, I'd have a hard time getting enough to the left to fight him. So I go all in, trying to kill them.
The Bane Knights, Bane Lord Tartarus, Mechanithralls, and a Pistol Wraith are thrown at them, and I manage to kill 5 of the Assassins, plus the Underboss. The Mechanithralls were of particular note, because with the 4 remaining, I manage to drag down two Assassins, needing elevens to hit.
The Deathjack charges and kills the Berserker, clearing out my zone for the moment. The Pistol Wraith on my far left Death Chills Drago, saving my poor infantry from being horribly annihilated. Whew!
With nothing in my right zone, and Venethrax right in the middle, I again dominate it, and gain 2 control points.
Rob has two objectives this turn. First, he needs to contest my right zone well enough to stop me from winning soon, and he needs to score some control points himself. He probably considers assassination at some point here (I don't actually know, I'm not a mind reader), but I'm camping some of my focus and have Dragon Slayer upkept by the Withershadow Combine, so I'm around armor 23.
Rob starts on clearing the left zone. His Kayazy go off to my left more, and kill a Pistol Wraith and a Mechanithrall.
The Conquest follows up by advancing towards the middle of the table (and doesn't contest my zone, importantly), and shoots into the large cluster of troops I have, killing, when it's all over with, 3 Bane Knights, 2 Bane Thralls, 2 Mechanithralls, a Pistol Wraith, and one of his Kayazy, as well as takes a point off of Gerlak. Not half bad!
Drago can't move and activate, so elects to move out of the way of Vlad, who charges Gerlak. Several crappy rolls by Rob later, Gerlak eventually dies, and Vlad kills the last Bane Knight in the zone, clearing it.
He ends the turn by moving the Devastator into my zone, contesting it, and scores two control points for dominating his zone, tying us at 2-2.
Unfortunately for Rob, he reminds me that I can throw models, and I happily do so, moving the Deathjack forward to throw the Devastator out of my zone (I sure wasn't going to kill it!). I run everything else up to block the far side of my zone so that the Battle Mechaniks and the Conquest can't get into it.
I charge Bane Lord Tartarus at Vlad, but sadly, he's out of range. The remaining two Bane Knights attempt to be heroes, but sadly, don't manage to hit Vlad. I end my turn, and go up 4-2.
Rob realizes that he can't contest my zone, and that scoring his doesn't help him, and decides he HAS to assassinate Venethrax. He uses Flashing Blade to try to clear the Bane Knights engaging him, but sadly only manages to kill one, meaning he has to Flashing Blade AGAIN to clear a charge path.
Vlad charges, but now, I have all my focus camped, and prove too difficult to kill. Casters don't count as contesting zones, and Rob can't stop me from scoring what I need to win.
Although winning is nice, I feel a little disappointed in that I didn't really get any use from Venethrax. I completely forgot about his feat (which isn't very good anyway), and other than a few castings of Blood Rain, pretty much didn't need to use his spells.
Rob's had a difficult time with Cryx, and as he pointed out, it doesn't matter what caster I take in the end, it's my army itself that is causing him issues. We may end up trying to switch it up just so that I can see how I would do against Cryx. In the meantime, I'll probably switch to Skorne for a while, just to keep my friends ;).
The Conquest didn't feel like it made much of an impact on either game, sadly. Sure, it killed some infantry with its shooting, but I never bothered trying to put damage on it (meaning the Mechaniks did nothing through both games). I suspect Rob needs to focus on getting the Conquest into a zone to contest it, and force me to deal with him. With this particular Cryx list, it might actually be a problem, especially if enough of my Bane Thralls die before getting there. The Deathjack can certainly hurt it, but I don't think I can kill it (especially with Mechaniks repairing it) before I'm crushed.
One day, I'll get Venethrax on the table again, hopefully against a Hordes opponent, and see how much mileage I get out of him in a matchup he's designed to be more useful for.