I took part in my first Warmachine Competition, this is what happened.

Warmachine Vengeance tournament

Last week I took part in my first Warmachine tournament. Warmachine Vengeance was being held at Titan Games in Stourbridge and a friend dragged me into the competitive environment. I’ve been playing games in one form or another for over 20 years but this was my first experience of a competitive event and in every sense of the word it was a learning experience.

The first thing I have to say is a big thank you to the staff at Titan Games, the Press Gangers running the event and all the players who took part. Everyone was extremely welcoming and very understanding of a player like me who doesn’t quite know all the rules off by heart.

The event was a 35 point game, which was lucky as that is about the limit of what I can currently muster with my army, it also meant that I was playing my Menoth forces as this was a Warmachine only event and that is my largest force (unfortunately my favourite faction, the Legion of Everblight had to stay at home).

Warmachine Vengeance tournament Menoth army
My army gets ready for it's first battle.
For those interested here is the list I brought:

Warcaster
  •     High Exemplar Kreoss
Warjacks
  •     Crusader
  •     Repenter
  •     Revenger
  •     Vanquisher
Units and Solos
  •     Choir of Menoth (6)
  •     Exemplar Cinerators (5)
  •     Vassal of Menoth
  •     High Paladin Dartan Vilmon

Warmachine players amongst you will already recognise this is a pretty vanilla Menoth list and includes the contents of the two player battle box as well as a couple of additions (both of which are the ones I mention in my expanding Warmachine article). It’s not a particularly strong list and has one gaping weakness that everyone pointed out to me, 8 points are being gobbled up by the Exemplar Cinerators, a group of slow plodding expensive troops that many thought I should keep at home. This was quite literally a trial by fire and I didn’t have the opportunity to swap them out so we went ahead.

My first game was against the clockwork armies of Convergence of Cyriss. This is the first time I’d seen many of the models up close never mind played against them. The day was split into a random assortment of objective based games and the aim of this game was to capture two objectives on the table. Surprising my lack of experience this first game went well, my revenger practically paid for himself, taking out a squad of Clockwork Angels via a combination of melee attacks and using the arc node for offensive attacks. My Cinerators actually faired rather well, after taking a battering from a countless number of spray attacks from a squad of Reductors, a couple of strikes hit home and the Cinerators flame bursts starting knocking out troops. I thought the time had come to pop Kreoss’s feat and take down my foes only to be told that Cyriss Vectors can’t be knocked down, bugger! It was all looking pretty tight and evenly matched until my opponent noticed a small gap in my defences and charged a pair Perforaters into Kreoss, on their own they wouldn’t have lasted but Aurora’s transfer spell meant that suddenly these buggers could boost, bye bye Kreoss.

Warmachine Vengeance tournament Menoth vs Cyriss
Apparently Vectors can't be knocked down, it kind of spoils Kreoss's feat.
My second and third games where complete disasters and unfortunately exemplified everything I thought I would hate about playing competitive environment. I played against a Cygnar war host fronted by Captain Allister Caine. Everything about this list was built for tournament, I’m not going to say this was a really cheesy list, it just covered some very specific bases, and those bases where get Caine into shooting range of the enemy warcaster and let rip. You see Caine’s feat gives him a cumulative bonus to ranged attacks, every consecutive attack gets a bonus to damage and since Caine has an infinite rate of fire the only thing to limit this hail of bullets is how much focus Caine has in his possession. I got killed by this devastating gunfire not once but twice. The first time I left the smallest of gaps which meant that Caine had a clear line of sight to my warcaster, the second time Caine used a spell to teleport across the table and into melee range. Did I forget to mention that Caine also has gunfighter ability that means he can use his ranged weapons in melee combat? The result; one very dead Kreoss on the second turn.

My problem with both of these games was I felt there was nothing I could have done to stop either of these untimely deaths. Without having knowledge of Caine’s ridiculous threat range I don’t see how I could have stopped the attack. If I had left a few more focus on Kreoss then maybe his force field would have soaked up the damage. An unlucky dice roll and maybe I could have survived the round and then Kreoss could knock Caine to the ground and even the odds. What makes me bitterer, and let’s be fair I am just being bitter here, is that my opponent was using the Warmachine app on a tablet, so I couldn’t just reach across the table and take a sneak peek at his cards.

Warmachine Vengeance tournament Menoth vs Cygnar
Can you spot the clear line of sight between Caine and Kreoss? I didn't.
My fourth and final game was much more even; my opponent who was fielding yet another Convergence of Cyriss army. He was of a similar skill level to myself and had a similar balance of Warjacks to troops. It is worth noting that both previous opponents had very few warjacks in their army, and some players on other tables where only just using Warjacks to cover their free warjack points. This final game felt like a real war of attrition, right from the start we where fighting for every inch of advantage; charging, counter charging and using our spells and skills to boost and bolster our attacks. The whole game seemed to be very tit for tat and each box of damage was answered by another box except for one minor problem, his robots where repairing themselves. A combination of the caster’s ability and a nippy little repair robot meant that for every four points of damage I committed one got put back on. Slowly but surely I was losing ground and then the Perforators charged in. Their ability means that they can make a short movement after each attack; every time they hit they had the opportunity to side-step my jacks to get hits directly onto my choir and vassal, the two things giving me an advantage.

Everything was looking grim until those slow lumbering Cinerators got into charge range. All of a sudden I was hitting the Perforators and Vectors with four dice of damage and the tables started to turn. Having lost three previous games to assassination I was being extra cautious with Kreoss keeping him at the back but now was the time to start going on the offensive. It didn’t take long before Kreoss could charge the opposing Warcaster and it was game over from there.

At the end of the day I managed to win only one of four matches and every single game ended in assassination. So what did I learn? First and foremost protect your caster; the easiest way for your opponent to win is to take down your caster. Leaving a few focus points on your army’s main model to boost their defence is not a bad plan as is making doubly sure you’ve not left any open charge lanes. It actually gave me an idea of how best to use the Cinerators; as a bodyguard unit, surrounding my Warcaster and then able to charge in towards the latter stages of the game and let those three dice of damage hit home.

Warmachine Vengeance tournament Menoth vs Cyriss
Eventually the Cinerators will get there.
The second lesson is to do a bit of homework. My most embarrassing defeat was at the hands of Caine and I had zero knowledge about his abilities before playing. Admittedly a lot of the knowledge will come from playing against real opponents but a bit of swatting up on Battle College won’t do any harm.

The weirdest lesson I learnt is that considering the game is called Warmachine, they’re actually one of the worst kind of units to bring to the game. In every game I watched and played units and solos outmatched the warjacks point for point. As already mentioned, some players only brought one or two light warjacks into a 35 point game. So the real question is what units do I need to add to my Menoth list? Daughters of the Flame and Exemplar Errants both look like possible next steps

On the plus side I did manage to win the Menoth coin, as the best Menoth player at the event. The fact that I was the only Menoth player there...

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