Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Praise of Highlander Format Tournaments

I had my very first game of Warmachine this week. I played the local press ganger (a dude who recruits for WM/H) who brought Trollbloods against my Mercenary army. I go to deploy and realize I have no idea what I'm doing, so I got beat in three turns because I played too far back and didn't rush into the center to challenge the objectives. Apparently, WM/H is like the battle of Pearl Harbor.

How to play Warmachine

They say you should expect to lose your first 20 games or so. Hoo boy! I find it amusing how the guns are supposed to be all killy, but have ranges lower than you could throw a baseball, so they can't be shooting at a very high velocity.

No matter. Judging from the number of comments WM/H posts get on other 40k blogs like 3++, most of you probably don't give a toss so let's talk about this weekend's tournament.

Blackmoor and I played in a highlander team tournament this past Saturday. The highlander format is essentially "there can be only one". So one Chapter Master (Calgar would count as a CM), one Librarian, one squad of Bikers, etc... There is an exception for troops in that you can field a second squad of a particular troop type if you have already take all available troops. So you could take a second squad of Boyz if you already had Boyz and Gretchin.

In this tournament, all teammates were allies of convenience, but were allowed to bring a CAD plus an allied detachment or formation if you could squeeze it in to 1250.

The highlander format cuts down a bit on the nastiness and adds a lot of variety. While I didn't know the missions going in, the TO hinted that first turn charges would be allowed and encouraged, and that there would be two objective missions, meaning one KP mission. With that in mind, here's what I brought:

Herald of Khorne, Greater, Lesser, Exalted Locus, Juggernaut
10 Daemonettes
12 Horrors
9 Screamers
20 Flesh Hounds


It's a rock list that is hard to remove, which would be good during the KP game, and since it scouts, I figured first turn charges would be easy if he allowed us to scout and charge. Invis on the Hounds, shrouding on the Screamers. Maybe summon in the late game for objective grabs, which I did.

Allan brought a Draigowing with Coteaz, a Storm Raven and Interceptors. We were not allowed to pool our dice. Instead we each got our own pool plus D6, and the opponent got the same, but couldn't combine dice to dispel anything.

The actual rules turned out to be that anyone could assault on the first turn even if they infiltrated or scouted, but the opponent got full BS overwatch. You could also do it after deep striking, so any Daemonettes I summoned got to charge immediately. There is a reason GW doesn't allow this, but everyone knew to expect first turn charges going in, so you'd better build accordingly. Also, there was a KP game, so I guessed correctly on all fronts.

All Lords of War were legal, and you could bring a Revenant Titan, theoretically. No one did, but we did have to kill a Stormsword with its big bad S10, AP1 ignores cover 10" blast. We also downed that one character Knight Titan from the WD (Be'lakor, Screamers, and Hounds with rending from Misfortune cast by Allan.). All super heavies were worth five bonus points if killed. Since we downed three over the course of the day, we had an absurd score at the end.

The second round was the championship round where we faced the only team that could have beaten us. They had Pask in a Punisher with an Executioner, a Stormsword, a Vendetta and some Infantry Squads, Obyron teleporting a bunch of Warriors around the board, and both kinds of Knights. Highlander doesn't completely cut out the nastiness.

The deployment was unusual with all of us in a 12x18" box in opposite corners from our partner. This worked to our advantage since the Knights wouldn't be able to support the IG. We lost the roll to go first and so I volunteered to set up across from the Stormsword. Allan rolled the warlord trait that gives him plus 1 to seize, and with Coteaz, a rerollable 5+ is a 56% chance to pull it off, so he told me to assume we would seize and scout my Hounds towards the IG tanks, daring the big guns. There wasn't much LOS blockage on the board anyway, so I did, and sure enough, the second roll to seize was a five and suddenly Pask is taking 20 invisible Flesh Hounds and a Khorne Herald to the face, the Screamers are shrouded and lined up on the board edge 2" apart, and Allan has rerollable reserves with thunder hammers and psycannons coming in on turn 2 who can charge legally when they get there. Despite all this, they put up a hell of a fight and it was not a total rout.

The Stormsword killed all of two Screamers and an Interceptor before our combined efforts brought it down. A psycannon to the rear armor got the killshot. Allan killed one Knight with Paladins charging off the deep strike, but the explosion scattered right on top of them and wiped them out too. Ah well.

I sent my invisible Screamers at the other Knight and got 5 HP off it before they died. Be'lakor was on his way to finish it off, but we ran out of time before the game ended with us up by a large amount with two dead super heavies, plus first blood, warlord, linebreaker and objective points.

Anyway, this format is quite a lot of fun. I recommend telling your local TO about it because it makes for some interesting games. I don't recommend allowing all lords of war or first turn charges, however.

PS- Invisible Flesh Hounds with Khorne Heralds is sick nasty. Be'lakor does get it done when all goes well. We'll expound on building around him later. Folks have been asking about 1500 point lists. I'll work on it.


  1. Sounds like fun! And I also agree on large unit of Hounds with Herald when there's special comp around. It's a very solid unit by itself and can be boosted all kinds of ways... I like to back them up with a large squad of Daemonettes as well, they're fast enough to arrive one turn later and mop up whatever the Hounds left. One-two-punch style.

    1. I agree! I've had 20 khorne dogs (no herald) charge or be charged by terminators (6 or 7 TH/SS with a chaplin in term armor) and daemonettes help clean up. First time i charged, killed 2 or 3 and stuck in after attack backs, second round i rolled double 1s (first time ever lol) and daemonettes showed up and wiped... 2nd time i was charged and i killed something like 5 and on my turn daemonettes cleaned it up.

      I love flesh hounds!

  2. Sounds like good fun, I'm hoping to convince our local TO to hold a highlander event.

    What was the reason behind the decision to allow first turn/deep strike charges? Seems a strange choice but certain shakes up the meta.

    1. Yeah, TO's often like to make up unusual rules or scenarios to attract players with fresh types of games.

  3. Daemons + GK sounds like a nasty team comp. Definitely sounds like a fun time and I'd like to try a highlander game/tournament myself, I've never played one before. Side question, were you allowed to summon the same unit multiple times if you wanted or did you have to summon something you didn't have?

    1. Rules are you can only take one of each in your list. If there was a restriction against summoning more of the same kind, I didn't ask about it. Certainly I summoned more than one unit of Daemonettes in a game. Also, this TO ruled summoned units have OS, which was nice.

  4. Inivsible/Grimored Flesh Hounds with Herald support is super nasty.

  5. I hope you enjoyed your Warmachine game. I've been playing it fairly regularly longer than I've been doing 40k, and am happy with both systems. My discontent for 40k typically has nothing to do with the system itself, so the each have their perks. Being a game based around balance, however, Warmachine may serve a competitive gamer a bit better (that's not to say it doesn't have it's unbalancing aspects).

    My first few Warmachine games, and these were my first wargames as well, were against a "Retired" pressganger in my area. Unfortunately his playstyle was very much in a "play it to win it" sort of way, and that's never fun for new players to encounter regardless of their experience level in gaming.

    I've switched armies multiple times, and each time it's almost like you need to relearn an army. Even switching casters can be a harsh learning curve, but it's all about knowing what your opponent's army can do just as much as what yours can. Hopefully you stick with it and supply updates, even small, for those of us that play both and aren't falling into a stigma that one is directly better than the other.

    From what I can tell, your list seems solid. Is your caster the one with Quicken? Because Horgenhold Forge Guard with that spell get pretty nuts really quickly. A mule tagged onto the Gun Mages is extremely solid. I see the picture is missing Holt, unless I just missed him - hopefully you fielded him alongside Aiyana. Your guns have some of the largest ranges in the game (the mule gets nuts with his ability tagged off of the Gun Mages), but you can definitely see that even ranged characters are typically "exposed" - and that's the beauty of the game. It doesn't favor ranged over assault or vice versa, and both are tools towards victory.

    Good luck in your future Warmachine games! Now I need to scroll back up to read the 40k portion of your post. :P

    1. Holt is still in the to be painted box. He's next after I finish my second Vanguard. I played:

      Ashlynn (+6)
      Mule 8
      Arcane Tempest Gun Mages +UA 8
      Vanguard 5
      Max Forge Guard 8
      Rhupert Carvolo 2


      Quicken and tough on the Forge Guard, but I wasn't aggressive enough with them and didn't run them very far on the first turn. Nor did I get the Mule far enough upfield to make use of its powerful yet super short ranged blast. Nor did I use the Gun Mages correctly as apparently you're supposed to snipe with them until you need to use their other abilities.

    2. I've slowly been making the switch to Warmahordes myself, largely because I trust PP more than I trust GW. It's been a frustrating learning process and there's at least one blog reader here who'd be interested to see how you go with it and what you learn.

      I have to say, judging aggression has been my biggest problem so far as well. Getting the Alpha Strike in seems to be huge, but getting it not so easy, so I'm probably going to switch to some sort of list that makes getting it pretty easy.

  6. What gifts did your khorne herald take? Hopefully you took the decapitating axe of khorne in this highlander format. You should get VPs for taking heads in that format :)

    1. Always took the axe. I kept whatever I rolled on the greater, but it turned out that it would have been better as a Blade of Blood or Greater Etherblade in all three games. I was hoping for the armourbane one against the IG/Knights combo. I wouldn't normally take both, but I had like 30 points with nothing to do with them and figured that would be better than three more Daemonettes.

  7. Excited to see a list around be'lakor, but I'm curious how the competitive CSM list you made a few posts back performs as well.

  8. Don't give up on WM/H Kevin! I switched from my Daemons to Khador 4months ago and never looked back, it's a great game especially for competitive sake imo, the armies are very well balanced and the games are pretty much always uncertain till the last turn. Also the 20games loss at start is a bit an exageration imo, unless you just play against long time tournament players that's it!


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