Chapter One: The Relics of Saint Malathric
Part Five: It’s Strong, And It’s Sudden, And It’s Cruel Sometimes…
“The field guns thundered, and the Menite camp was sundered by concussive blasts. The gun crews paused as their officer sighted down a telescope. There were still pavilions left standing, even as others were consumed in flames. He raised a hand, and the gun crews went about their work, priming the huge cannons and loading them, soon ready to fire again. He dropped his hand, and the volley roared forth. To the west of the artillery in the foothills that surrounded Tighrael there was a rustle of undergrowth and the sound of boots moving quickly. This strikeforce of Exemplars, led by High Exemplar Gavram Kreoss, had left their camp under cover of darkness, leaving most of the tents still standing but empty as a prime target for the enemy guns.
“High Exemplar Kreoss called a halt once the blazing mouths of the field guns were visible over the next rise, and considered his forces. A trio of Knights Venger led by the bombastic Brother Federico, who was as likely to throw away the lives of his men in a foolhardy charge as do anything of real use. They might be useful for clearing the artillery crews off. The rest of his force were stalwart Knights Exemplar, ready to die at his command. His trusty Crusader jack The Fire of Salvation (he had coined the name first, before that *other* Kreoss), and his Vanquisher ‘jack Mutilator of Perdition trudged along slowly behind, their boilers kept low to stop any smoke attracting the enemy’s notice. They would do. It worried him that he had still not heard from Severius since his superior’s original scouting mission, but that had to wait for the moment. The Cygnarans guns had to be silenced, so that their stranglehold on Tighrael could end.”
Here we were at the second game of the campaign. I had a bit of ground to cover since Duggy had won the first one, but if I gained a victory here I would have 2.5 points to Duggy’s 1.5 and take the lead. Since Grand Scrutator Severius had his unfortunate accident in the first game I had to take High Exemplar Kreoss, who showed up to the battlefield with his force of Exemplars. I made the list using the Interdiction Strike Force theme force, which gives a point cost reduction to Vengers (I had just bought them the week before and was eager to try them out, hence the unpainted models!). Since the last game had seen so little shooting from Duggy I was hoping to get a bit of an advantage using the Vanquisher. In retrospect of course the theme force isn’t the best option, but I wasn’t as sure in those days as I am now that every Protectorate warcaster essentially comes with four fewer ‘jack points and minimum Choir and a Vassal of Menoth as standard.
High Exemplar Kreoss (*5pts)
* Fire of Salvation (9pts)
* Vanquisher (8pts)
Choir of Menoth (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Exemplar Vengers (Leader and 2 Grunts) (6pts)
Knights Exemplar (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Meanwhile, Duggy’s list was another melee-centred force, with the Precursor Knights making a return appearance. Since his warcaster had survived our previous engagement, he was able to flaunt her heretical ways at me once again. The presence of the Lancer in the list gives Constance a little bit more leeway in terms of board presence, letting her force spread out a bit and control the board better. Since he had won the first game he would get +1 to his dice roll to go first in the second, so it was likely he would be able to get the charge off.
Constance Blaize, Knight of the Prophet (*6pts)
* Lancer (6pts)
* Gallant (9pts)
* Squire (2pts)
Precursor Knights (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
* Precursor Knight Officer & Standard (2pts)
Stormblade Infantry (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Gun Mage Captain Adept (2pts)
The scenario was Incoming, and this game took place in August 2012.
Turn One: With his advantage as the incumbent victor, Duggy won the dice roll to go first, but he chose the side of the board that wasn’t split by that pernicious clocktower, so I went first. I envisioned the Vengers as a ranging unit, there to draw firepower and pack a punch when they did sweep in, so I placed them on my right flank, with the rest of my force deploying to the left. On my first turn I ran the Vengers forward, hoping to be ready to get the first charge off the next turn, while the rest of my army also ran. Duggy meanwhile appraised the situation with the Vengers and moved his army more conservatively, wary of the Vanquisher’s cannon and the Vengers’ charge. The objective was safe for another turn, and if I moved my army too aggressively he could dismantle it.
Turn Two: The Vengers did indeed get their charge, plowing straight into the Lancer. Two of them succeeded in their charge…but failed to hit! As I glared at this less-than-useful part of my army, I moved the rest of my army up, hoping to emulate Duggy by evading the counter-charge. The Vanquisher opened fire and blew away a few Stormblades in a very satisfying fashion. Unfortunately I hadn’t placed my troops or warjacks far enough back, so Duggy did get to charge me. The Precursor Knights and the Knights Exemplar clashed, killing the five I had placed on the hill and leaving only two alive. Gallant and the other two Precursors smashed the Fire of Salvation to bits, giving it no chance to retaliate for the deaths of its human comrades next turn. Tragic really. The two Vengers who had tried to hit the Lancer in my turn were killed by Stormblades, leaving one alive.
Turn Three: The remaining Venger took a long look at the objective and decided to do the valiant if stupid thing and charge it. He hit, which was a bonus, and did quite a bit of damage, leaving it on four boxes. I was smarting a bit over the death of the Fire of Salvation so I decided to go gunning for Duggy’s own character warjack. The two remaining Knight Exemplar charged into it and did a big chunk of damage. The Vanquisher’s charge lane was blocked so I moved it up to deal with the remaining Precursor Knights, and in a fit of madness sent Kreoss to finish off the Gallant. He didn’t succeed, and I left him on only three focus. With Kreoss exposed, Duggy’s choice was clear. The surviving Precursor Knights and the lightly-damaged Gallant surrounded him and beat him down. The second game was over, and victory went to Constance and her cohorts once again.
“‘Heretic bastards!’ Kreoss bellowed as he plowed into the fray. All was soot and steam and flying shrapnel as his faithful warjack fell to its knees beneath the apostate warjack’s scything blows. The bloody thing even had their filthy book on its boiler plate! Kreoss swung his long-flail around in a scintillating arc, and flesh and bone were smashed in its wake. His path of carnage brought him finally toe-to-toe with the Cygnaran jack, and he tore into it, flinging divine wrath and landing powerful blows with his flail. The enemy warjack staggered back, leaving a good yard between its assailant and itself, and there was a moment where the battle whirled around him but not near him. He looked up through the haze, and saw an angel. There she stood directing her troops, her coppery hair shining in the morning sunlight. Her eyes met his, and he knew that this faithless-no, no! He could not think of this woman in those terms! He knew that this woman had stolen his heart, that had been shut to love ever since the first day of Exemplinarium. A strange haze hung around him, through which he could only see her. Even the foolhardy charge of Brother Federico straight into one of the huge Cygnaran field guns didn’t distract him. The stare between the two of them seemed to last a lifetime, even though it was but a few seconds. He felt as though he had been struck by an arrow from one of Menoth’s cherubim (the kind that the Lawgiver used to shoot arrows into the eyes of those who ate with their left hands). Right in the back of the head. The Morrowan warcaster’s mouth quirked in a smile then, and he started to collapse to his knees. As the world blacked out, the unfamiliar sensation of love receded, and the much better-known sensation of blunt force trauma asserted itself.”
In this game I committed the error in Warmachine which has taken me the longest to get a handle on: I exposed my warcaster in an attempt to kill enemy models. When my army starts to suffer in the attrition game and the armies converge, my temptation is always to go in swinging with the big fella, hoping to do some damage and go out in a blaze of glory. As my army’s on/off switch, my warcaster should obviously be better protected than he was in this game. Duggy played his in a conservative manner, waiting to draw me in before smashing me, and it paid off for him. Now I was 4 campaign points behind, and there were diminishing opportunities for me to make them back. I had lost the Fire of Salvation, five sixth of the Knights Exemplar (the bonus from the others dying wouldn’t carry over to other games, sadly!) and two out of three Vengers. The next game was 35 points, and again I would be forced into choosing my alternative warcaster. How would Grand Scrutator Severius make his return to the routed Menite forces and lead them to victory over the Morrowan scum? I suppose you’ll have to check back next Monday and Friday and find out!
Game Two Result: Duggy wins
Duggy’s Points: 4
Siskey’s Points: 0