March 2012

Scenario play in Warmahordes is not just a tournament standard. In fact, I would advice anyone already over the game rules learning hill with a decent (25 points?) collection to play scenarios from the get go. Here’s why.

Caster kill games get old very fast. More so, there are bad matchups and there are worse. Caster kill exaggerates these matchups in a very clear way. The rock-paper-scissors aspect of the game comes to the forefront in such a way that when a bad matchup is set one player will just have no fun at all. It is great to learn, specially to learn what your models can do and when, but after a while it will be about the best list.

Let me give you an example of this. You have anti-X model on the table. It will be deployed straight ahead of your opponent’s X models. Every single time. Now, depending on the scenario, your anti-X model might seem to work better someplace else due to some of its other rules and abilities. So now you have to make a choice based on scenario. Choice is good.

It gives you something to fight for. Alright, I admit it, Steamroller scenarios are as abstract as they get. You could add some fluff and spice to any of them, but I’m sure not everyone will. And in the end, it’s still about controlling the flags or occupying the marked area. But still, they add something other than utter destruction, something to think about other than shooting and hitting.

Makes scenery important. There are factions that can ignore almost all the terrain on the board with the proper list (Legion, Circle). They make caster kill games an unfair proposition. One player has to deal with the forest and the walls while the other one ignores them all and focuses on grinding the opponent getting ready for caster kill. Trust me, I’ve played a ton of those and it is not fun at all. Sure, on a scenario things are the same for both players (one ignoring everything) but that player has to be active about stuff, and not just reactive from safety. You can hide all you want, but when I score that 3rd point I win no matter what you have done and how with your spiffy rules.

Makes movement crucial. In a game where movement already is a beast of a factor (unlike many other wargames) the scenarios make planning your movement specially tricky. You want to be where you want when you want, and you need to avoid the enemy doing that as well. It’s no longer a matter of staying out of threat ranges. It’s going where you have to, considering the risks that threat ranges pose, and thinking how to deal with that.

Makes you a better player. Ok, I can only speak for myself about this, but I really think I do a lot more brainwork playing scenarios than plain bashing. And the best part is I don’t get burned so easily. After a couple of games of caster kill remembering every threat range and trick the enemy model’s can pull on me I get exhausted. But I can play 4 or 5 straight scenario games where both my opponent and myself are thinking above the abilities of the models, and it somehow makes me worry more about tactics and movement and crazy tricks with what I have there and then, than just thinking about the initial deployment for the rock-paper-scissors kind of game. I can honestly say this kind of play has made me a better player.

You might think that Steamroller scenarios are only for the hypercompetitive game. And you’d be wrong. Take away the time limits and just play the scenarios at any point level with any composition. Make a story out of the abstract win conditions, make new scenery elements to represent objectives and zones. It’s all about playing with something else in mind than just bashing your opponent. It rewards smart play and not only good model stats memory. It creates a better looking playing board (most of the time).

Now, about that last point, it is true that most scenario boards seem boring. When playing competitively people try to make the board as fair as possible, and this usually means drawing an imaginary line along the board and placing mirrored scenery on each side. This is good for tournaments, but it shouldn’t for your regular scenario play. Set up the board before choosing (or rolling for) the scenario. Make the basic adjustments to place the objectives or the areas and then roll for sides. Suddenly it’s not just a matter of thinking if you wanna go first, but now choosing the board side might be just as useful.

And this is why I like to play scenarios.

This last saturday I went into my 3rd Warmahordes tournament ever. It was a kickass 15pts tourney with one list and no restrictions. Needless to say there was so much crazy stuff and combos it was pure fun.

There were 10 players, and the armies were 2 Khador (one was me), 2 Cygnar (both with eHaley… go figure), 1 Troll, 1 Merc, 1 Minion (Gators), 1 Circle, 1 Retribution, and for the love of God I cannot recall the last player.

Three rounds, each with a SR12 scenario. I was a bit bummed that the first one was caster kill + killbox. Funny thing is one of the best (if not THE best) players, possibly in the whole country, lost due to getting his caster out of the killbox… volutarily!!!

I brought pIrusk with a Kodiak, War dog, min Demo Corps and Doom Reavers. I played against the kickass Gator list first round. We had played before a few times and that list is REALLY good. Sorry I cannot list it cause I know shit about gators, but it was warlock (feat knocked everything down) with a heavy and a light, plus a unit of gator warriors with spears in medium bases. Was a Tier list too so he had a few swamps on the table before the game!! I lost that one even when my feat nullified his. I just moved those Demo Corps half an inch too far on the 2nd turn.


Second round was destruction and up against one of the eHailey lists. The player is really good and a great guy I’ve played against many times. He had with her a Stormclad and a Charger, and the B13. He had to kill my whole army before getting to my caster but I still hate that caster so freaking much.

Third round I was up against the Merc player running McBain with Cylenna Raefill’s unit (sp?) and two heavies. The army was beautifully painted by the Gator player who has talent to spare. Probably the prettiest army, close to the ever gorgeous Ret army that you see on all my tourney reports.

Scenario was incursion, one I love and know how to play. Left flag went away, and my Reavers were controlling the right one but he did good on dealing with them. I feated simply to kill one of his contesting infantry guys with a Demo Corp and running the other two, plus the few remaining Reavers up the field and sit there with super tough and no knockdown. The Kodiak advanced and killed a couple of infantry guys as well. He pushed forward as much as he could. He tried, honestly, but the very few super tough rolls I made (I made VERY few during the whole tourney) were the ones that counted. He finished his turn feating, making his infantry immortal, with one of them contesting a flag. I already had 1 point from last turn.

I thought a few mins and basically told him what I was gonna do, but it was game over without doing it. I would give the Kodiak 1 focus to make a simple push. Even if I rolled a 1 and he rolled a 6 on the STR check, the immortal infantry guy was gonna be pushed 1 inch away, no longer contesting the flag. Then my 2 remaining Demo Corps would score on one flag and Irusk would just run btb with the other one to score the 3rd remaining point. I love playing tactical scenarios and specially incursion, so I was glad with the victory.

In the end I finished 6th of 10, where I usually end up O.o

The Gator player won the tourney beating the other Khador player in the last round. The winner was gonna be champion, which was pretty amazing since the other Khador player (running Strakhov) is pretty new to the game.

My girlfriend and another friend went to check it out, but they both brought 15 points of models. I played a few rounds with my friend during the tourneys lunch break to show him the strings. He enjoyed it and loved the tourney, specially the fun environment all around, which is completely normal for Warmachine events compared to other games. My gf got there to see my last battle and after that the Cryx player offered to play a lil game against her “battlebox” 15 points (see pink Khador army in the gallery). Of course it was over in 2 rounds even with a scenario. The Cryx list was insane (for tourney of course) with eSkarre, Deathjack, Bane Thralls and some crazy ass solo. But the point was that she got to play with someone who isn’t me, and got her ass kicked by hated Cryx (and a great player… and a crazy ass list… and…) so I was a lot of fun either way.

As usual, great fun, great armies, and great ass kicking all over the place. Next tourney is couples, 25pts each player tournament. And the couples are matched randomly before the first round. Hope I can play that, sounds like a blast.

How does so many people keep playing a game with a ruleset like this?