Monday, July 7, 2014

Harkevich vs. Kreoss3 - Grolars In Dem Woods

After a few scheduling mishaps and a delay, I finally got a chance to put Harkevich on the table and test out a list I've had waiting for awhile (described here.)

I remembered to take pictures this time (with some helpful reminders from my friend) and I mostly took them at the right times. Mostly.

 Battle report, list thoughts, and more after the break.

My List:
Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf (*5pts)
  * Black Ivan (9pts)
  * Demolisher (8pts)
  * Demolisher (8pts)
  * Grolar (8pts)
  * Grolar (8pts)
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew (Leader and 2 Grunts) (2pts)
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew (Leader and 2 Grunts) (2pts)
Winter Guard Rifle Corps (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich (2pts)

Full T4 Theme List, mostly as described in the last post about it. This version subs out the WGI for the WGRC to test out if their longer ranges and Suppressig Fire are especially helpful in this list. The other big thing I've been excited to test out are the Grolars; I've used them a few times in the past but it's always been under odd circumstances. 

My Friend's List:
Intercessor Kreoss (*5pts)
* Fire of Salvation (9pts)
* Reckoner (8pts)
* Vanquisher (8pts)
* Hierophant (2pts)
Choir of Menoth (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Daughters of the Flame (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Exemplar Vengers (Leader and 4 Grunts) (11pts)
Knights Exemplar (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
The Wrack (3 wracks) (1pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)

A very balanced, solid Kreoss3 list. Covers plenty of different bases while also highlighting some of Kreoss3's strength's - good Ignite targets, at least one great Holy Ward target, and cav bonuses ahoy.

Scenario: SR2014 Rally Point - Deathclock Timing

Fairly straightforward deployment. Harkevich's battlegroup gets divvied up between the two zones, leaning slightly more towards the friendly zone. Field Guns are positioned in hopes of angling a shot on the objective later. Harkevich starts the game with Fortune on the WGRC and Escort on himself.

Proxy notes: Due to a small oversight on PP's part and the Grolar not actually being out, I had to proxy two models for the Grolars. One Grolar will be represented by my rarely used Kodiak, and the other is represented by the armless Juggernaut. Also, since I do not yet own a second Demolisher, a Devastator pretended to have guns on it's shoulders this game.

Kreoss' deployment is similarly spread: Exemplar towards the friendly zone, warjacks towards the enemy zone with Daughters as an additional rush factor.

Round 1:
Standard round one running. Everything runs forward, angling for the round two engagment. Harkevich upkeeps Fortune on the WGRC and Escort on himself. Kreoss puts Holy Ward on the Daughters and Warpath on himself.

Round 2:

End of Harkevich's Turn 2 (apologies for mis-timing!)
Harkevich Turn 2:
Harkevich upkeeps both spells, allocates one focus to everything but the left Demolisher. The right Demolisher runs into the enemy zone, one Grolar moves into the forest, and the rest of the warjacks advance/run into the friendly zone. 

Joe gives the WGRC boosted attack rolls and shoots at one of the Daughters, but misses. The WGRC shoot into the Daughters, killing 4. One of the Field Guns shoots and kills a Knight Exemplar.

Kreoss Turn 2:
Kreoss drops Holy Ward on the Daughters, upkeeps Warpath, allocates one each to the Reckoner and the Vanquisher.

Kreoss starts off the turn by pulling a Focus from a Wrack (no detonation) and with a little assistance from the Heirophant, casts a Force Hammer into the Demolisher, knocking it out of the zone. Kreoss toes into the zone.

The Knights Exemplar run up to eventually intercept the Demolisher. The Vengers charge and run into the Field Guns, killing two Field Gun crewmen.

The Reckoner shoots at Ivan, connecting for 4 damage. The Vanquisher lobs a shell towards the WGRC which comes up short and scatters onto the Demolisher and the Grolar.

One of the nearby Vassals allows the Vanquisher to shoot again, and this shot kills some of the WGRC. The other Vassal puts Enliven on the Reckoner. The Daughters move ito the WGRC and kill two.

End of turn, Kreoss scores 1 CP for dominating his friendly zone.

CPs: Harkevich 0 - Kreoss 1

Round 3:
Start of Round 3
Harkevich Turn 3:
Harkevich upkeeps Escort and Fortune, allocates three focus to the center Grolar and one to the left Demolisher. The Fire persists on the Demolisher and the Grolar, doing no damage to the Demolisher but doing 3 damage to the Grolar.

Harkevich activates early, advances up a little, and pops his feat. The right Demolisher stands up and advances into the enemy zone, engaging a nearby Venger and Knight Exemplar.

Joe gives the WGRC boosted attack rolls again, then shoots at a Daughter, connecting and killing her. The WGRC advance (with one beig killed by the remaining Daughter's free strike,) and kill the remaining Daughter and all the Choir. 

Black Ivan shuffles over and shoots at one of the Vassals, but misses. The Demolisher in the friendly zone slams the Reckoner, Bulldozing it first to make sure it's out of the zone, then knocks it back 5".

The Grolar in the woods uses Fleet and advances up to Fire of Salvation. Several attacks later, Fire has taken light damage, but is knocked down.

The Field Guns advance up to engage the Vengers.

End of Turn, Harkevich scores 1 CP for dominating his friendly zone.

CPs: Harkevich 1 - Kreoss 1

Kreoss Turn 3:
Kreoss drops Warpath, upkeeps Ignite on the Vengers, and allocates three focus to the Fire of Salvation. Fire of Salvation spends a focus during the control phase to shake knockdown.

The Vengers charge/run, clearing out enough of the Field Gun crew to let one of the Vengers charge the enemy objective, doing 9 damage to it. Kreoss activates and cycles Ignite onto the Knights Exemplar who then charge the Demolisher, doing 14 or so damage.

Fire of Salvation attacks the Grolar who attacked him previously, doing a good chunk of damage and knocking out Movement. The Reckoner and Vanquisher both stand up, the Vanquisher moves back towards the zone, while the Reckoner takes a shot at Black Ivan. The Vassals giving them extra shots (the Vanquisher shot blows up a chunk of WGRC.)

Round 4:

Start of Round 4
Harkevich Turn 4:
Harkevich upkeeps Escort, lets Fortune drop. The center Grolar gets 3 Focus again, the Demolisher gets 2. The Fire continues to burn on the Demolisher and Grolar, doing no damage to either. One of the previously immolated WGRC burns.

The Grolar fighting Fire of Salvation lays into it, finishing it off after spending all it's Focus. The Demolisher two-handed throws the Vanquisher into the Reckoner, knocking both down and doing some damage to the Vanquisher.

The Grolar repositions to angle on the incoming Vengers, while Harkevich heads towards the leftmost wreck marker. The Demolisher in the enemy zone holds steady. Joe, the remaining WGRC, Harkevich, and Ivan pile shots into the Vassals, eliminating both.

End of turn, Harkevich scores 1 CP for dominating his friendly zone.

CPs: Harkevich 2 - Kreoss 1

Kreoss Turn 4:
Kreoss upkeeps Ignite, keeps the rest of his Focus.

The Knight Exemplar continue to chop at the Demolisher, doing some damage. Kreoss then pops his feat to cycle Ignite onto himself, pulls a Focus from a Wrack (detonates,) and wrecks the Demolisher using all of his Focus.

The Vengers charge/run, with some charging the enemy objective, destroying it (+1 CP)

The Vanquisher and Reckoner stand up and advance back into the zone.

End of turn, Kreoss scores 1 CP for dominating his friendly zone.

CPs: Harkevich 2 - Kreoss 3

Round 5:
Start of Round 5
Harkevich Turn 5:
Harkevich upkeeps Escort, allocates one to the nearest Grolar,  two to the center Grolar, one to the Demolisher, and one to Ivan.

Ivan advances, Bulldozes the Vanquisher out of the zone, then shoots at the enemy objective, doing 8-9 damage. The Demolisher double handed throws the Reckoner into the Vanquisher, doing damage to both and knocking them down.

The left Grolar runs to engage two of the Vengers. Joe yells to give himself and the WGRC Tough and Fearless, and they also run to interpose themselves between the zone and the Vengers.

The center Grolar uses Fleet and runs into the enemy zone (more on this gaff later.)

End of turn, Harkevich scores 1 CP for dominating his friendly zone.

CPs: Harkevich 3 - Kreoss 3

Kreoss Turn 5:
Kreoss upkeeps Ignite on himself, keeps the rest of his focus. Again, with the help of the Heirophant and a Wrack focus, he Force Hammers the Grolar, knocking it out of the zone.

The Knight Exemplar move to the Grolar and chop at it, doing some damage. It is at this point that we realize the error: the Grolar had it's movement system disabled, so it could't have run to where it was in the zone.

The good news was, due to how the fight played out up to that point it was pretty easy to determine where the Grolar was, and where it could have gotten with a Fleet + advance. Still enough to get it into the zone, so we repositioned it, did the slam, then redid the Knight Exemplar activation.

From this new spot, two of the Exemplars could actually charge, which left the Grolar alive but with only one box of left arm remaining (as well as knocked down, outside the zone.)

The Vengers charge/run again. One tries to leave melee with the Grolar and gets killed by the free strike, but another Venger is able to run into the enemy zone. One Venger attempts to charge the WGRC behind Joe, but gets stops when it fails to kill Joe. Another Venger charges Joe and skewers him on his Lance, while the remaining Venger chops into the Grolar, doing no damage.

The Reckoner stands up and moves into the enemy zone, while the Vanqisher stands up and shoots at Harkevich. The shot misses, but deviates on him and sets him on fire.

End of turn, Kreoss scores 1 CP for dominating his friendly zone.

CPs: Harkevich 3 - Kreoss 4

Round 6
Start of Round 6
Harkevich Turn 6:
Harkevich upkeeps Escort, allocates one to Ivan, one to the Grolar engaging the Vengers, and keeps the rest. Fire goes out on everything (thankfully!)

Black Ivan shoots at the enemy objective, connecting and destroying it with boosted damage (+1 CP.) The Demolisher bumps the Reckoner out of the friendly zone.

The Grolar engaging the Vengers kills the northernmost Venger. The WGRC run towards the enemy zone, but don't make distance. The Grolar near the enemy zone attacks the Knights Exemplar, killing one. Harkevich charges in and clubs the contesting Venger to death.

End of turn, Harkevich and Kreoss both score for dominating their friendly zones.

Unfortunately for Harkevich, the way scoring works is that the winner is the first player to 5 CPs and have more than your opponent. Since the CP scores are tied, it goes to Kreoss' turn.

Kreoss Turn 6:
All Kreoss needs to do is score 1 CP while denying Harkevich. Models move into Harkevich's friendly zone while Kreoss hangs out, and he scores the final CP at the end of the turn.

Result: Kreoss wins via CPs!

Final CP Breakdown: Harkevich 5 - Kreoss 6

Post-Game Thoughts:
This was one of the smoothest games of Warmachine I've played in a long time. Aside from the Grolar Movement gaff - which we were thankfully able to easily resolve and reset - everything was pretty textbook. Though we used Deathclocks, we didn't need them; both us ended the game with 10+ minutes left on our clocks. This game could have gotten kind of drag-y so the clocks were a nice motivator.

My friend's Kreoss3 list was very solid. It's a very good mix of effective Warpath models, good Ignite targets, heavy hitters, and some potential jam models. With all of the buffs Kreoss3 can throw around the different components can shift roles as necessary. The Blessed weapons on the Vengers combine with Kreoss3's faux-Purificaton feat to give the list some nice "outs" against defensive upkeeps. 

And, as this fight showed, Kreoss3 has the virtue of being a damn solid beater himself, which is both awesome on it's own and surprisingly sparse across Protectorate 'casters. I've always been surprised by how infrequently Kreoss3 shows up in list sets; I understand he has some issues, but damn if he isn't solid, flexible, and personally capable. I think that's also the challenge with him though: he's capable of a lot of things, but not all at once, so you need to pick a couple of facets to focus a list on. Otherwise I can see his lists ending up too shallow/spread thin. This list did well by focusing on Kreoss3's ability to buff his infantry and Warpath his warjacks, though admittedly in this fight Warpath didn't come up (very few chances to trigger it.)

Normally I'd just ramble on about my thoughts as to how I did, but this time around I want to try and organize them a bit more. So, first up:

Things That Went Well:
Scenario play, for the most part, went very well. I was able to consistently score in my scenario zone. Any scenario that has a friendly scoring zone can be won via a slow drip of CPs, and that was my plan from the outset. It came together right about on time, so no complaints there.

The list composition felt good, for the most part (expanded thoughts on this later) and worked well as a whole. The solo Demolisher in the enemy zone did a fine job of holding up CP scoring in the early game, and did so against a pretty respectable amount of punishment. The WGRC did a fair job of picking off the Daughters early on (I feel like they should have hit more they did with boosted attacks and re-rolls, even needing 12's, but I'm not complaining,) and they transitioned beautifully into what I find they excel at: erasing support models. Once the Choir went down I felt significantly better about my ability to hold my friendly zone, and the bonkers threat range the WGRC offered was crucial to that happening.

Harkevich ended the game in pristine (if slightly singed) condition, which makes me feel that I did a good job of positioning him during the game, and that I did a good job of positioning the Wreck Markers at the outset of the game to give him spots to leapfrog to during the game.

Although the Field Guns died without making an attack, I think they did about as good a job as they were going to this game: they managed to body block the Vengers a bit, which slowed their flanking somewhat.

I also feel like I did a good job of not making bad attack choices. Most specifically: I didn't attack with the Demolisher in the right zone (not surprising as I needed it to stand there as long as possible,) and I didn't attack the Vengers until it was absolutely necessary. It was very, very tempting to throw speculative Field Gun shots into the Vengers early game, but I didn't want to power them up to then have them charge the Demolisher (P+S 18 with effective S&P on the dice means they'll take a big bite out of even ARM 25.)

Things That Did Not Go Well:
Field Gun infantry are shockingly bad "jam" models. Who knew?

This was a game where I really felt the small footprint of the list. Rally Point is a scenario that encourages a lot of spreading out: you need to guard your zone (possibly dominate it,) threaten your opponent's zone, block attacks at your objective, and threaten your opponent's objective. That's a lot to do, and I just didn't have the models to do it.

Taking it down another level, I really didn't have a great way to deal with the Vengers in this situation. My best bet was to keep them "low powered" as long as possible, then try and jam them up with warjacks at some point. I had a hard time devoting resources to them until late game, and by then it was too late: they had destroyed my objective, which is one of the things that forced the CP tie that pushed Kreoss over to the win.

The other thing I didn't do well was allocate warjacks. Part of it was me over-estimating how much punishment one Demolisher could take (though in the end he absorbed about as much attention as I expected,) and part of it was me over-reacting to seeing three Protectorate heavies + support angled at my zone. More on this in a follow up section, but this is also where another big swing happens: sending in just the one Demolisher allowed Kreoss3 to Force Hammer it out of his zone on the bottom of round 2 (needing a little bit of luck on the slam distance, but nothing unreasonable,) which gave him an early CP. Take that away and I can squeak out the CP win before he can catch up.

I also felt very clumsy with the Grolars. As mentioned previously I've only a Grolar a couple of times before with Harkevich and in those games it mostly just ran around, holding territory. They're weight lifters in this list, but I don't really have experience with positioning and making best use of the Grolar's abilities. I feel like the Grolar that hung out in my friendly zone was largely wasted and the Grolar that ended up mid-table was out of position leading into it's key turn of attacking.

Finally, I made some positioning decisions that ended up being the wrong call, and at least one attack decision that cost me the game. But more on that...

Key Mistakes/Things To Do Differently:

The biggest mistake I made was right at the end of the game: I allocated two focus to the Grolar engaging the Vengers to have it hammer one or two of them out of the way, to clear the road for one of the WGRC to run into Kreoss' zone and contest. Unfortunately for me, the WGRC came up well short of the zone, which meant I couldn't contest and thus couldn't win.

However, if I take those two focus and instead spend them on Fleet and running, the Grolar should be able to make distance to the enemy zone, stopping Kreoss from scoring and allowing for the win. The only thing that could stop that is if the Vengers manage to knock out that Grolar's movement system with the freestrike. I'm not sure how likely that would have been - that Grolar was in pretty good shape overall, while the Vengers would be at 11 + 5d6, drop the lowest for damage - but so long as the movement system doesn't go out (and I'm right about the distance, which I think I am at a 12" run,) it's an assured contest.

What makes that mistake particularly frustrating is that I had all the time in the world to consider that option; although we were playing Deathclock I had plenty of time left, and going into that turn I knew it'd be the last one of the game, win or lose. I kind of tunnel visioned with the WGRC running it in and didn't even consider the Grolar doing it, which in hindsight is probably the first thing that should have come to mind (even at the time I was thinking the WGRC running in was going to be super shaky.

I also think it was probably a mistake to send the one Demolisher in by itself. Sending both Demolishers into the enemy zone would have done a few good things for me: 1) it would have significantly increased the amount of resources my opponent would have needed to expend in order to kill both warjacks, 2) it may have made it more feasible to blockade the Vengers in and slow them down a bit more, and 3) possibly most importantly it would have given me an easy model to "backstop" the lead Demolisher with. Worse comes to worse, both get knocked down; then I just stand them up and keep walking, which is what I was going to do anyway (and Jump Start gets both of them up for 1 focus if you wanted to do something more proactive with them.)

Which leads to my next thought: I think I was too enamored with the idea of controlling the Protectorate warjacks, so I let myself go that route when I may have been better off trying to eliminate them. The Demolisher on that side did a great job of playing volleyball with them - the lack of Covenant of Menoth/the warjacks being outside of Kreoss' control area made the knockdown a very effective bit of control - but I was also constantly devoting resources to keeping them out of my zone. I think it may have been better in the long run to instead commit to scrapping those warjacks, which I can probably do between the two Grolars and Ivan. They wouldn't be able to fight back too well without Choir or focus support, and the Grolar's Piston Hammer circumvents Enliven. Once those warjacks are dead, Kreoss is in the same position I'm in at the end of the game (i.e. nothing that can easily contest,) and if I can get there fast enough it's another way to get to 5 CP before he does.

I'm also not sure if going first was the right call. I wanted to try and establish board position before the cavalry got up the table (bearing in mind that includes Kreoss3 in this case.) However, being able to counter deploy would have been a huge boon, and by making it so I had first chance to score I might have been able to push the CP accumulation in my favor. Then again, trying to get into position after everything runs the first turn may have been too much of a pain after all.

Another interesting thought: what if I swap commitment to the zones? Put both Demolishers in my friendly zone, then attack the enemy zone with everything I have. I'm not sure if that would have gone better or worse, but it certainly would have made for a different kind of fight.

My positioning of the central Grolar was also pretty bad. I had a number of different ideas as to what to do with it - keep it near the right Demolisher as back up, commit it to my friendly zone to help the fight there, intercept Fire of Salvation - and instead of picking one of those and positioning for it I sort of stuck him in a nebulous middle area that made it more costly to commit to any one of those (i.e. I'd need to spend for Fleet in order to make distance on anything.) I managed to snakes the initial attack it got that round with it's Piston Hammer, but assuming smarter positioning it could have done some very good damage that round; if it charges the Reckoner from out of the forest, that'd be one unhappy Reckoner.

Which goes back to me needing more practice with positioning the Grolars for maximum effect. There's an interesting dual band you get with them, especially with Harkevich's feat: they have the usual 9.5" threat that warjacks do with him on the charge, but you also have an 8.5" walking threat and a possible 11.5" charging threat (which can be mitigated somewhat by the feat.) I didn't originally think that having those different options would complicate positioning as much as it does, but it definitely changes a bit where you want to put the Grolar when, and why.

Overall, there was at least one thing I should have done differently, and although I'm irked I missed it at the time it's good to be able to look back and identify a very solid play that I missed, versus just being stuck in a bad situation with no good way out. I definitely need more practice with the Grolars, I need to be more mindful of warjack zone allocation, and I need to have more confidence in killing enemy heavies now that I'm not running a bunch of P+S 16 models.

Noteworthy Model Thoughts:
Winter Guard Rifle Corps: They did pretty much exactly what I thought they would - they shot light infantry, then picked off the support. I'm still torn on how I feel about them in comparison to the Winter Guard Infantry for a spot in this list. That long range is wonderful (in a lot of battlegroup v. battlegroup fights, it can bring things back to "even" after picking off support) and Suppressing Fire will be situationally brilliant.

The WGI have a lot going for them though. Chief of which is their flexbility; I can shoot pretty much anything with them (at a much reduced range of course) and they can do a half decent job in melee if it comes down to it. Plus they're a little harder to pick off with Bob and Weave.

I think the race is too close to call right now. I'm going to keep using the Rifle Corps and see how future games go with them. At worst they're probably even choices, and at that point it'll just come down to whichever I like better (my kidney for Specialists to make it into core rules!)

Grolar: This game was the first one where the Grolar(s) got a chance to actually get out there and do some work, and I was impressed. It really feels like an excellent package for a warjack: solid melee output, a gun for when you want it (that can kick out a lot of shots,) additional movement on tap, and Pathfinder for non-Harkevich lists. I think I'd like this warjack quite a bit in many lists.

In the context of Harkevich, I think it's a fantastic warjack. Escort combines with Fleet to give you access to a heavy warjack that can really book it across the table, which comes in extremely handy (as evidenced by the end of this game, and getting use out of Fleet in a few places.) Ram on the Piston Hammer is a big deal; it's another push effect which compliments Bulldoze, and the knockdown effect takes a lot of uncertainty out of hitting (so long as you can make that first attack connect.) Considering all of the other high POW guns you can fit in a Harkevich list (such as Bombards, Mortars, and the Demolisher's Shoulder Cannons,) you can set up some damaging follow ups.

As mentioned earlier, Fleet gives the Grolar an interesting flexibility with movement. Normally a Fleet + Charge activation isn't ideal (you're essentially spending 2 focus just to get into combat which makes the payoff less than ideal) but when you can combine that with a free charge it makes the whole transaction more palatable. And an 11" charge is damn threatening.

I really like a Grolar or two with Harkevich. I'm actually tempted to make it 3 Grolars, though I think that may be overkill and I'm hesitant to give up the other Demolisher for that. My biggest complaint about the Grolar is that it's no where to be found on PP's release list, so I have no idea when I'll be able to get my hands on the actual model.

Field Gun Crew: I give these guys total credit for body blocking the Vengers for a turn or so. But other than that, the Field Guns are almost always useless. They can have wonderful moments (especially with critical knockdown) and you can always use them to fire at enemy objectives, but truth be told I'm desperately seeking a way to scare up the two points I need to replace these guys with Mortars again.

Mortars have a lot of significant advantages, least of which is putting another set of good POW AoEs on the table that I can toss at infantry to help stem the tide. For as often as they can be random and frustrating, Mortars feel way more dangerous and consistent than Field Guns do, at least in the context of this Harkevich list.

Possible List Changes/Tweaks:
First off: I'm not going to change anything after one game. Changing your list around after one game can be more of a reaction than an informed decision; are you changing something because it didn't work this one game, or because it hasn't been working in general? Constant changes make it very hard to nail down the former, so I'm trying to stick to playing the same list for at least 2-3 games (probably all I can muster) before making any significant changes to it.

That does not mean that you can't start identifying what you would change. Point of fact, I think that may be a good exercise: keep that change in mind for future games, and ask yourself "how would that change have affected me here?"

To that end, there are a few things I would seriously consider changing:

 - Beg, borrow, or steal the 2 points I need to get rid of the Field Guns. At this point I'm desperate enough to consider making the WGRC a minimum unit and use two of those points for better light artillery. That leaves me with one point, which I might use to...

 - Upgrade one of the Demolishers to a Spriggan. The first impression I got from this list is that it's simultaneously more aggressive and more capable of damage than the Quad Clam configuration. Duh, right? I'm also starting to question how many Demolishers one needs in a Harkevich theme list. I think one is a no brainer, and frankly necessary to give you something to base a scenario game on.

When it comes to the second Demolisher though, I think you have a lot more wiggle room. That second Demolisher has it's virtues - crazy ARM redundancy, great slam/trample bot, two more big AoEs to toss around - but it's also kind of lacking in the melee output area. In this specific game I would have probably been better served to have that Demolisher be any other kind of warjack (so I could focus attacks on chopping through the enemy battlegroup,) and it would have had the side benefit of giving me more AoEs to toss at the Daughters to try and get rid of them faster.

The Spriggan still has Bulldoze, is ARM 21 (until the left arm pops off) and brings Reach to the table, which is great. I'm not sure if that then makes the list a little too vulnerable to shooting, but it's one of the warjack swaps I'd be willing to consider.

 - Downgrade one of the Demolishers to a Juggernaut. Similar to the Spriggan swap, but this time freeing up a point instead of making use of a phantom point I scare up somewhere. The Juggernaut has less going for it in terms of general utility and durability, but it brings a solid melee weapon to the table and I think it'd make a good follow up for the Grolar charge.

 - This game reminded me of a truism of Warmachine: if you're not an android, the focus mechanic can really suck sometimes. Harkevich runs smack into this wall all of the time: you're going to most often be able to fully load up one warjack, with an extra focus if you're lucky (two if you're desperate/not upkeeping Fortune.) For that reason, I'd absolutely love to get some extra attacks into the list, especially if they have some kick to them.

Unfortunately, the theme list doesn't leave a lot of options for that. It allows for MoW and Winter Guard units, which is like a choice between a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, and two pieces of bread covered in septic glass.

Even with that lovely analogy, I still come back to the idea of MoW in the list sometimes. Shocktroopers would be cute, but are the least applicable. If Bombardiers weren't so grossly, disgustingly overcosted they would actually be kind of okay; more AoEs to throw around that are a good POW, with fair melee to back it up and mediocre durability. Demo Corps are the MoW I'd most like to get into the list: they hit hard and they can still have a volume of attacks so they're fair against infantry (if you somehow miracle that charge up.)

But if I'm having trouble finding 2 points for Mortars, then finding 6/9 points (or *vomit* 7/11 points) to fit MoW into the list is impossible. The only way I can make that work is to either: a) drop a warjack (seems bad,) or b) drop whatever "support" infantry squad I'm bringing along, in this case the WGRC (again, seems bad.) Maybe one of these days I'll go nuts and give it a shot, but outside of my "wild hair" moments I think it's more beneficial overall to just tweak the battlegroup to get the hitting power I want, rather than cram MoW into the list that will probably do what they have previously (get spaced then get bodied.)

Closing Thoughts:
Not much left to say ("After all that? You don't say!") other than it was a fantastic game, an excellent learning experience, and a very insightful game with Harkevich. I'm looking forward to playing the list more, and I'll be keeping those possible tweaks in mind as I play future games.

There is another bug in my brain: every release cycle gives Harkevich another possibility of a new lease on life. He's a pretty good warjack support 'caster that is mainly lacking the warjacks or the support to do anything amazing with a Khador battlegroup. All it takes is one warjack, one solo, one support unit, and he could be a real monster. I think the Grolar was a big help for him in that regard, and I'm not greedy; I don't expect anything terribly relevant for Harkevich in Warmachine: Reckoning. But you never know.

And we won't, for awhile. I'm sure we'll see preview models from that book before too long (based on previous release cycles,) but all we know for sure Khador is getting is a new type of warjack called the Mad Dog, which will probably have the Crusher rule (Trample for free, Trample attack rolls boosted.) Neat, but of course more detail is needed. Until we get more concrete info, all that's left is whimsical speculation.

Whimsical speculation, and more games with what we have (or in this case, have rules for.) I'll post up my next game whenever that happens. Until next time, thanks very much for reading!


  1. I've considered dropping the Destroyer from my 5-'Jack lineup to a) get me a min unit of DemoCorps as a second wave b) get me a Wardog, and dismount for the Drakhun.

    It's the flexibility of the DemoCorps (volume of attacks, damage, or a choice of one with a flavour of the other) that makes them really enticing.

  2. That seems like a pretty good swap, considering what you get out of it. Dismount for the Drakun helps if he needs to go tie something up, and a Wardog can be really useful in Hark's Theme because it gives you a cheap, fast, Tough solo that you can run into a zone/base with a flag to score (flag being the harder situation.)

    And I agree, the flexibility is what keeps me coming back to the Demo Corps. They have a number of issues, but none are related to their offensive capabilities. And with Fortune on them, they'd do a fantastic job of clearing out infantry with MAT 7, P+S 14, and Backswing.

    The hope is that having a wall of 4 warjacks ahead of them helps to mitigate casualties, and gives them a chance to actually charge something. I'll probably try it out at some point soon just to get it out of my system, but I remember the last time I tried it I wasn't super pleased with how it worked out.

    I do think they pair up oddly well with clamjacks. Clamjacks can hold zones and move forward so the DC don't have to be in as much danger, and the clamjacks can 2-handed throw heavies back into your lines for the DC to charge. It's gimmicky, but it seems alright and fun.