I managed to get Joey to play- he has been interested in trying a miniatures game, and Warmachine/Hordes in particular appeals to him. Company of Iron keeps a lot of the same mechanics, and uses a limited amount of miniatures, so it seemed like a good way to introduce him to the game.
After explaining the rules for Warmachine and Hordes, and then the rules for Company of Iron, we settled down to play. This was my first time playing Company of Iron, so I just put together two lists to try to show a variety of forces, and gave Joey the choice.
Joey chose the Cygnar list:
Trencher Infantry (maximum unit) - 16
Rangers - 9
He gives the Trencher Leader the Master Strategist upgrade.
I took my Skorne list:
Praetorian Swordsman (maximum unit) - 13
Haakar the Destroyer - 7
Ancestral Guardian - 5
I give the Swordsman Leader the Frontline Officer upgrade.
We rolled for scenario, and generated Under Siege. In this, one player starts with his entire force in the center of the table, and the other player spreads out across the four table sides, with the goal of eliminating the entire defending force. This seems pretty challenging for each player- as the defender, you're surrounded, which is never a good feeling. The attacker, however, has to kill EVERY single defending model in order to win the game, which is a tall order. We rolled for positions, Joey won, and elected to be the defender.
Joey sets up first.
The early game focused on me advancing on the surrounded defenders, and the Cygnar troops focusing fire on Haakar, afraid of his wrath (and melee capabilities) should he get into combat. He also didn't want to shoot at Swordsmen, to avoid giving Haakar (or the Ancestral Guardian eventually) souls to enhance their capabilities. Joey had some decent luck shooting, and managed to get what he needed on Haakar several times, but a combination of good casualty rolls (Haakar stays standing instead of getting knocked down), several poor rolls by Joey attempting to break Haakar's ARM, and three Recover cards in my hand ensure that Haakar will eventually make it into combat.
|I begin my advance|
On the left, I run my Commander up, and use a card to finally get Haakar into combat, where he puts a lot of pressure on Joey's army.
|Right after Haakar gets into the action|
So, end of the turn, I've managed to get some models into combat, Joey has managed to spread out, and the game is about to get bloody.
|End of Turn 1|
Joey gets priority, and immediately plays Rapid Reload, giving him two shots per model if they forfeit their movement. Combined with how Combined Ranged Attack works, and how close I am (so he doesn't need to move to get into range), this has the potential to be a VERY bloody situation- I need to get guys into combat, pronto!
To start off on this turn, Joey shoots Haakar, even with a guy in combat with him. He hits. He breaks ARM. I roll a three for the casualty roll, putting Haakar on the ground (I don't have a Recover card in hand, alas). For my next activation, I debate activating Haakar, which would give me another roll on the casualty table (and could give me a chance to stand him back up, letting him live longer), but I don't have another model base-to-base with him, so it's only a 1/3 chance I get the model back, and figure I'm better off activating a Swordsmen to put B2B with him, which I do, and kill a Trencher.
However, Joey takes the opportunity to kill the Injured Haakar, since that's an automatic kill. We go back and forth, killing a bunch of models. Joey's double shots take a toll, killing three Swordsmen, but as my models get deeper and deeper into his lines, I'm able to kill three Rangers and three Trenchers, including his Commander. He gets a new Commander, of course, but the next one won't have the extra health, meaning I can abuse it some.
We end up calling the game early in this turn, as we got kind of a late start, the store was going to be closing, and we weren't going to finish in time. I did manage to get almost all of my models into melee, including the Ancestral Guardian (who Joey tried to kill with multiple Assault charges without success). I was in pretty good shape overall, as my Swordsmen were pretty good at dropping the Trenchers and Rangers in close combat- and with two melee attacks, each Swordsman in combat could handle a Cygnar model by dropping them with the first attack, and then dealing the fatal blow with the second attack, regardless of the result of the casualty roll. Joey still had plenty of models on the table to hit back with though, so it could've gone either way.
|A little bit before we called it- a few Trenchers are about to charge the Ancestral Guardian with Assault, but won't get it done. My Swordsmen will, against some of those Trenchers|
I quite enjoyed the game, overall- the scenarios and small scale, combined with the cards for various battlefield effects, could create some great narrative experiences. Feeling this game through the eyes of the poor Trenchers, you could just imagine their desperation as they shot again and again at the biggest threat they could see, Haakar, watched him stumble, but continue coming (with either great rolls or my Recover cards). The pressure the rest of the army felt knowing that those shots would've been valuable against the rest of my force was also, in my head, a fun narrative.
For this particular game, I feel like the particular forces were perhaps not very well thought out (my bad!). The mono-combat force is going to have a great advantage over the force that can shoot should the former get into melee range, but I hadn't given much thought into how frequent that might actually cause issues (ie, how common the melee force can get into combat quickly). In this scenario, that answer turned out to be VERY quickly, but that probably isn't always the case.
I wonder how the game would have gone had Joey decided to be the attacker. Moving then shooting, he had a chance to control the range between our forces and whittle me down while I tried to get things into position to respond. I don't know. It probably still would've been a challenge, given the short range of the Trencher guns, but forcing me to have to spread out may have ended up working in his advantage, with his numerical advantage to start.
The game played pretty fast once we got into it- I do wonder if the casualty rolls won't make the game fairly frustrating at times. Getting knocked down instead of killed isn't usually all that bad, and throwing attacks at something that gets knocked down (so you can't shoot it) could force melee forces to be far more valuable.
Of course, those are thoughts after only one game. We'll see how more experience changes my view.