Warmachine – Apply Axe to Face

Yesterday was a great day; Ian made the journey from my old hometown down to the coast where I live now for a good old-fashioned day of gaming! Although we spent a substantial amount of time playing/enduring Gears of War: Judgment (awesome game, but goddamn it’s hard; Kantus and Mauler spam makes me sad and run out of ammo), we threw ourselves back into Warmachine, which we haven’t played for ages, and, as I mentioned a while ago, I recently got back into by buying the starter box, giving me a load of tasty Khador and Protectorate stuff.

I used to run Cygnar back in the day, but they’ve fallen out of favour with me; too squishy, and none of their warcasters really excite me. I’ve started to come round to the idea of having Khador as my main guys. And why wouldn’t I? They’re kickass Russian wizards, and their heavy warjacks are the toughest and strongest in the game.

Beast '09, a "special character" version of the standard Khador Juggernaut; for when you want your five-ton death-robot to be even more destructive.
Beast ’09, a “special character” version of the standard Khador Juggernaut; for when you want your five-ton death-robot to be even more destructive.

The Khador force out of the starter box comes to 20 points, which is a decent size for a small, exciting game. You get Kommander Sorcha, a Juggernaut, a Destroyer, and five Man-o’-War Shocktroopers (guys in steampunk power armour; Khador doesn’t see the point of making light warjacks). Ian drew from his sizable Cryx collection for our first game, fielding Asphyxious, Cankerworm, two Deathrippers, a Slayer, six Bane Thralls, and a Skarlock. Ian typically favours “glass-cannon” armies in tabletop games (he also runs Everblight in Hordes), so his favoured playstyle involves being fast, sneaky and debuffing enemy units. Cryx can dish out tons of damage, but will die if you so much as look at them funny; a very different playstyle to Khador, who love to steamroll up the field as an armoured wedge.

Our first game went slowly as we had to go back and remember old rules, and read up on new ones; neither of us have played since 1st edition, and 2nd edition has a few new bells and whistles. It was fun though; my Destroyer got scrapped by Bane Thralls, who in turn got frozen by Sorcha and then munched up by my Man-o’-Wars. Eventually, Ian won by sneaking a Deathripper round my flank, and blasting Sorcha with boosted Hellfires channelled through the ‘ripper’s arc node. Cheeky.

Here’s what I realised from that game; Sorcha is not a great warcaster for Khador, in my opinion. She’s way too fragile, her spell list is uninspiring, with only a few sub-par buffs and very expensive attack spells, and her feat (which was excellent in 1st edition) has taken a few nerfs in 2nd edition. She doesn’t suit the strategy I have in mind for playing Khador. So, after a quick trip to Battle College (which an absolutely excellent resource of information and tactics for Warmachine and Hordes), I thought I’d try everyone’s favourite psycho; Orsis Zoktavir, the Butcher of Khardov.

AKA  Steampunk Angron. Get this guy a Mark of Khorne, stat!
AKA Steampunk Angron. Get this guy a Mark of Khorne, stat!

So, what does the Butcher do differently from his comrade? Well, he hits things. He hits them hard. He’s a total beast of a fighter, with excellent armour, health, melee skill, and arguably one of the most powerful melee weapons in the whole game. If something is within 10 inches of the Butcher when his turn starts, it’s going to die. He only has four spells, but they’re all excellent, and, more importantly, cheap. Fury and Iron Flesh are upkeepable buffs that improve a model/unit’s melee damage and defence respectively; more melee damage is overkill with a lot of Khador stuff, but is always welcome, and the defence buff makes those big clumsy warjacks and Shocktroopers a little tougher to hit. Full Throttle is an utterly amazing spell, granting the Butcher’s ‘jacks the ability to run, charge, and power attack for no cost of focus, on top of giving them boosted melee attack rolls. Finally, Obliteration is an expensive, but very powerful AOE attack. Oh, and his feat, Blood Frenzy, is amazing in its simplicity; all friendly faction models gain an extra dice on all attack damage rolls. Disgusting.

Second game, and I ran a proxied Butcher instead of Sorcha, while Ian used the Menoth guys from the starter box. This game, I’m afraid to say, was embarrassingly quick; I overestimated the Butcher’s toughness, had him lead from the front, and quickly learned that no matter how good a warcaster is, they will still die like a bitch when set on fire, knocked down, and smashed by an enormous fiery mace. Ho hum. Lessons learned. But at least with the Butcher I felt I was able to take risks and use him in that way, rather than keep him hidden behind everything (looking at you, Sorcha).

So, the Butcher is going to be at the head of my glorious Khador force. All I need to do is buy his model… and then possibly a War Dog… and some Iron Fang Pikemen… oh man, Widowmakers look cool too… and there’s always a Kodiak to consider, or some of the character ‘jacks…

Pictured; the inevitable outcome of getting back into Warmachine.
Pictured; the inevitable outcome of getting back into Warmachine.

Gareth

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