-By: Matt (Blighted_Brethren)
The earth shook, the dust settled, alone and outnumbered Saeryn faced the untouched army of Circle. Charging the nearest Warpwolf, Saeryn clashed drawing on all the fury she could to at least take one of the enemies with her. After a frenetic battle the Warpwolf still remained, wounded yet alive. The enemy charged surrounding Saeryn, tearing the last of the life from her, slumping, dead.
This was my first introduction to a MKII, 50 point game. I was overwhelmed, not only by my opponent’s ability but my own lack of experience in managing armies larger than a two player battlebox. It was this moment that made me want to learn how to synergize my own Legion faction the way my opponent synergized his Circle. For the last six months I have been playing regularly on a Friday night and fitting games in between university classes to improve my game. At times I have been frustrated and downtrodden by the punishment I have received from my local Meta; however I also take this as a testament to the progress I have made. They no longer go easy on me and regard me as a solid player.
My introduction into the world of miniature combat came while living in Melbourne, a friend of mine introduced me to two games; At-43 and Blood Bowl. After playing a few games of Blood Bowl I was hooked, although I never touched another miniature game for a few years, yet deep inside there was a hobbyist brewing. After moving to Ballarat to pursue further education I found a local store that stocked miniatures and purchased Blood Bowl and shortly after the Hordes MKII two player battlebox. The armies included were Legion of Everblight and Circle Orboros. With anticipation of a child on Christmas morning I busied myself clipping, filing and gluing models together until every model stood ready for battle. What followed was a painful experience of fumbling through rules with another beginner player. Watching introductory videos on YouTube just exacerbated the confusion, however once I played a few games some of the rules slowly started to sink in. So don’t be disheartened as a new player when you can’t remember shit about rules, I know players who have been playing for years and still occasionally forget a rule. I still forget quite a few and there are still things I haven’t even attempted yet, for instance I only recently engaged in my first trample power attack, with mixed results. Approaching my local gaming store I found that every Sunday they hosted a free-play miniature wargaming day. I headed down and as luck would have it a mate who I played Gridiron with, yes we have a local Gridiron league that follows college rules, playing some wargaming. I was invited to come along to the Eureka Wargaming Association gaming night on Friday, where I engaged in my first competitive game of Hordes.
I took my Legion of Everblight down, consisting of Lylyth Herald of Everblight, Carnivean, four Shredders and a unit of Ogrun Warspears. I played against Circle Orboros which consisted of, Kaya the Wildborne, Wild Argus, Winter Argus, Feral Warpwolf and a unit of Warpborn Skinwalkers. On this night I was victorious and walked away with the spoils. The last spoils for a long streak of “getting flogged” was about to take me to dark places. I played a few more games of battlebox size then progressed to a full MKII 50 point game where Saeryn was the only model left and I didn’t take one model of my oppositions from the table. Learning experience, there is no losing in WarmaHordes only learning. The reason for the jump was to get some experience in playing a max point’s game before the local games store held a “goodbye MKII” day, a week before the new rule set dropped.
Attending the “goodbye MKII” day was a good experience; I played two games which were both Legion armies as Legion seemed to be the flavor of the day. In both games I lost on points, and didn’t get assassinated, which I took as a small victory. Then MKIII dropped along with the new battleboxes. Here comes the darkness, crushing me under its weight, Kryssa’s weight.
Excited like a fat kid in a candy store I made my way home with my new toys, a few tasty additions to my collection (Neraph and Nephilim Bolt Thrower) and a new warlock. I read the cards and saw how the models could work in a game and with vigour I attended our local Journeyman League with my Legion Battlebox. The first night was a blast, three games in total I played. Lost all of them, but put up a good fight and was pleasantly surprised by the battlebox. There were a range of factions present, Trollbloods, Circle, Retribution and Legion, my best games coming against Circle and Trolls. The next week saw the inclusion of 10 points worth of models, can’t recall exactly what I went with, thinking Teraph. Much the same happened, two games both losses, but they were close. Went away feeling quite happy with how things were turning out and I was enjoying the game. Then, bam, like a fist to the testies it all fell apart and I went down hard, real hard. In hindsight I should have tried to wash the stench of failure off me after week three, because it only kept on piling on and on until I was under a mountain of stench. Three things attributed to this happening; first, the lack of models at my disposal; second, my lack of experience of putting a list together; third, Kryssa didn’t suit my style.
Week three: the start of my downfall and walk with the dark side. Lord Vader himself would have been proud of my anger and rage. The more experience players started to incorporate warlock and warcaster attachments, warrior models and solos into their lists. I used what I had, a full unit of Warspears and the Warchief solo. They did nothing in the first game against a Circle list. The Circle list pounded the life out of my Warspears using a range game. Before I could get into hit most of my unit was left in a bloody mess halfway across the battlefield. My next game was against a Retribution list, again long range focused and they tore my army to pieces before I could get into melee. It was at this moment I realized that it was going to be a long three weeks left of Journeyman.
Week Four: the love of the game was slowly dwindling, enthusiasm was sinking fast and the will to turn up be smacked around was almost non-existent. Yet I persisted, I added some armor cracking power and a UA for my Warspears plus fury management, Shepherd. Honestly can’t recall the game for that week, I went through the motions felt dejected and didn’t really want to play the game. One of the guys from the Meta got in contact and we discussed how I was finding the Journeyman league and put me on to writing, after a game, a brief summary of what went right and what went wrong. The idea is to critique your own game and that of your opponents, and hopefully come up with some strategies on getting a win. I took this on board and applied it to my fifth game.
Week Five: Another loss, yet I took this as an opportunity to work on paying attention to the game and learning from my opposition. I played my local presser rep in this week and we talked through ideas about what I was thinking, positioning and how I could come away with an assassination win, and although I did lose I learned some valuable playing tips. At the end of this entry I’ll write down some ideas on what I have learned during Journeyman.
Week Six: The final battles will take place, a victor shall be announced and my fling with Kryssa will be over and I’ll be free to start another battle affair with a worthy caster. Again, I took this week as an opportunity to assess what my opponent did and how I could counter their tactics and I was a lot more relaxed knowing that this would be my final week with the caster, whose name I shall no longer speak. I did receive the sportsman award for persistence with a very rag-tag army that was thrown together with a limited model selection, so there was a positive from the even. I learned that I hate the caster whose name I shall not speak. There I said it; I hate the caster whose name I shall not speak with a vengeance. Hopefully one day we will make up and I will take her out on a play date and find out that she wasn’t as bad a warlock as I thought she was. But that day is not today nor shall it be tomorrow. To be fair she doesn’t suit my style. People might ask why I persisted with her if I didn’t like playing her. I put a full six weeks into her as I felt this was a fair time limit to judge and assess whether or not she would work for me, which she didn’t.
What did I learn?
Positioning is paramount in this game. It allows you to dictate the terms of play, force your opponent into a position s/he doesn’t want to be in, can give you first strike in a combat exchange and can allow you to control the board. Work hard on positioning and watch how your opponent deploys and how they protect their valuable warbeats and learn from watching. Ask questions after a game and discuss why certain models were deployed where they were, and why they used certain positioning throughout the game. This will only help your game develop. It is something I tend to struggle with against more experienced opponents. They know their own armies so well they don’t have to think too hard on positioning.
Find a caster that works for you. Just because a warlock or warcaster doesn’t suit someone else, that doesn’t mean they won’t suit you. I love Vayl 1 and Saeryn 1, and I know people who despise using Saeryn 1 because of the changes from MKII to MKIII, yet having little experience with her in MKII I have no issues in running her. I am competitive with her and have come close on several occasions to having a win with her. She suits my style as does Vayl 1.
Understand how your warbeasts or units are meant to be used. It took me weeks to figure out that a Scythean is awesome against units, with murderous and thresher attack (which ignores tough). It was in a casual game against trolls, my Scythean was the closest to a unit of trolls, and I committed him to the charge with thresher. It was in this moment I realized exactly what he was meant to do, chew up and spit out infantry like they are going out of fashion.
Learn your cards! Simple. They tell you all the good shit you need to know and all the awesome stuff a model can do. I always thought the push mechanic of an Angelius was useless. I kept thinking, “When the hell would I ever use that”. See above point, that’s right I learned how it could be useful. Surrounded by trolls needing a charge lane on a caster I popped the Angelius’ animus and pushed the models away, outside of their melee range, thus ensuring a charge lane opened up to the caster.
These four points take time to learn and master and I look forward to playing more games with my new love, Vayl 1, and take my game to new heights.
Next entry will be; life after the caster whose name I shall not speak.