I played my first proper Battlegroup game! A lot of factors were working against it–some club dramatics, prevailing illness leaving folks ragged, fewer supplies than would be ideal (when my marker started to go out it was a dangerous time, because marking things). The relative newness of the rules isn’t on that list, though, because my opponent, Danny, is a champion dude and we always have excellent, brutal games. It’s very much an atmosphere of “fuck it dude, take it back and do it over,” which is probably an excellent way to learn WaH, since it doesn’t appear to be how people actually play the game.
S’anyway, my Blindwater Journeyman Battlegroup (Bloody Barnabas, Blackhide Wrastler, Ironback Spitter) went up against his Khador forces. He’d wanted to run the alternate box but one of his characters didn’t arrive–there are a lot of things from various orders not in yet, despite the Wednesday bonanza. He had more stuff he could have thrown in, even sans proper caster, but since my G-men aren’t in, and the only other Hordes stuff we have is from the Legion starter and thus all warbeasts, we did this bare bones. Probably for the best!
I won the roll for deploy and first go, and set up around the building; we’re using a table built for 40k games, and a lot of 40k terrain, but I’m hoping the club goes in a terrain-heavier direction than I understand most WaH games to be. I parked Barnabas directly behind my turtle, both to block charges and because the turtle prevents AoE damage.
Barnabas made it rain, spraying water templates all around which my boys hopped into. I ran the beasts, threw the Spitter’s animus on himself primarily to generate some fury, and riled my Wrastler to the same end.
my opponent moved up, mostly staying clear of the water. As it turned out, though, having Sorscha and her pathfinder-granting spell dramatically reduced the efficacy of my ponds. Knowing how good that spell is, I’d be sure to give myself a considerably larger buffer–I pressed up against his line figuring he’d have scarier guns than fists, since I know Khador is a high-armor faction and didn’t expect their offense to match.
I splashed some more agua around, pressing forward with the confidence that I’d foil up his charges and survive a few slaps thanks to my Armor 19 ‘gator and GIANT TURTLE. Aforementioned tetsudine rocked a vicious spittle blast, putting some corrosion and damage on the Juggernaut. This turn would have been a great one to throw some defensive magic on my Wrastler, but I opted to pour those points into a third puddle instead. Timing Barnabas’s Swamp Pits proves much more challenging than I expected it to be, primarily due to activation order. I want to have the spell down before I move anyone, but without pre-measuring I’m not confident in estimating where to lay the pits so that I can be assured of both making them with my movement and maximizing my progress down the board. Again, though, had I stayed a bit further back in this game I would have been much more successful. Similarly, having more living models on the board to eat with Barnabas’s axe would have generated a non-zero quantity of fury to spend.
This is where I began the process of getting wrecked, and my blood is on my own hands. As I’d said, this was a learning game, so I encouraged my opponent to carefully take note of the “feat” section of his caster card. Combined with the pathfinder spell, this meant he paralyzed my Wrassler, then charged with his Juggernaut unimpeded by the water. This meant that my failure to cast my defensive spell didn’t really matter—though I sure wished I had Parasite available—because Barnabas boosts the actual Def stat, and stationary makes that irrelevant. However, I forgot (during this assault and the next turn’s) that a ‘Jack can only have 3 Focus allocated to it; that meant I ate three damage-boosted attacks (1 on the charge, two purchased and auto-hitting) but was still standing…woozy, but standing…before the third one landed. Now, even unboosted I think that the third damage roll would have probably killed me, but with my armor matching his P+S it could have been a near thing. That’s no sour grapes, but fully the opposite: I love that things can get that close, and that if I’d had even one activation with my Blackhide I could have turned things around!
Instead, my Wrastler died without swinging, but with Sorscha’s feat expended there was hope I could push back. I used Barnabas to slip a Swamp Pit behind the Juggernaut and slammed it with the Spitter, throwing it into the water for an instant deactivation. I knew water was bad for ‘Jacks, but I’d somehow interpreted its badness as a full-on, instant death (which is true for deep water, but not shallow). Had I realized it wouldn’t completely put him down, I think I would have done more with my ‘caster. I could have moved Barnabas up to take a few shots at the Juggernaut, put a little damage on him, and then still had my Spitter in a position to block attacks on Barnabas during Danny’s turn. Instead I threw Ornery on the Spitter, along with Iron Flesh to boost his abysmal Def. The other key thing I wasn’t aware of here was that I couldn’t buy extra ranged attacks for my Spitter after the Slam. I’d been under the impression that Virtuoso’s and Gunfighter’s respective value was in letting you fire shots into melee. It did make the pair seem redundant, but there are so many minor variations in the game between similar-seeming rulesets that I’d just convinced myself Virtuoso was for people better at melee. I thought Gunfighter appealed to people whose RAT was markedly superior to their MAT, meaning you’d never want to alternate strikes; Virtuoso then served as the option for someone who had status effects or other qualities on both weapons and wanted to intersperse them. That’s not entirely untrue, but had I realized my Spitter wasn’t going to have a shot after the slam I probably would have also boosted some sort of attack with him behind just ensuring the hit.
Here’s where things broke far worse than I expected. His Destroyer stomped into me, pathfinding past my pond (which I had successfully positioned to muddy Sorscha’s movement). He was only barely able to reach me, but even with my boosted Def he landed enough fully-boosted swings to pulp me. Those axes are no joke! Again, this was a turn where I took hits from a 4-focus ‘Jack instead of a 3-focus ‘Jack, and it definitely came into play with his shots here. The end result, alongside a potshot from Sorscha, was a dead turtle.
While Reaving had me sem-set for fury this round, I knew Barnabas would be in a rough way if I couldn’t get down to a one-on-one (which I was confident I’d be able to win, given my melee-centric ‘caster). I cut for two fury, then used my feat to knock the Destroyer down before charging into him. I put some damage on the mech between base and additional hits (more later, when we realized I’d forgotten my other two initial attacks and added them in—like I said, we play a friendly game). Unfortunately, even though Barnabas is a dude of flashing blades, carving through Arm 20 was a time-consuming process. I once again craved the joys of Parasite.
I’d been able to damage the Destroyer badly enough that he was coming at me with a wrecked movement and crippled axe-arm. We actually thought that would prevent him from fighting at all, and he was planning to step away (inviting a brutal free strike that all but wrecked him); luckily, Majordomo Kyle cleared up the effect of the wrecked system. It kept him in combat with the terrifying axe, but this was also where we realized I’d missed out on a bite and tail strike, so there was a balance to things. Still, Barnabas lost another sizable chunk of health boxes.
I had no choice! Barnabas cut the ever-living…life…out of himself, because without that I wasn’t confident in my ability to break through his armor. After throwing a bucket of dice at the problem, the Destroyer was down! Things did not favor my ability to reach Sorscha in time to kill her, however. I did throw a Swamp Pit down between the ‘caster and the ‘Jack, which meant she couldn’t activate him and give herself Pathfinder to reach him in the same turn. I’m definitely looking forward to having my own little Swamp Pit templates to throw around, because trying to mentally mark 2.5″ out from the center of a 25mm base was inefficient (particularly as I was dropping them around a wall, and thus trying to balance the base atop the broken rebar jutting from the wall).
Sorscha woke the Juggernaut.
I managed to get up on Sorscha and chop into her a bit, but cutting for the fury to go all out left me on two boxes.
The Juggernaut then ate me.
It was a great game, and only whetted my appetite for more. Obviously a lot of things—on both sides—could have played out differently; we didn’t retroactively undo the 4-focus ‘Jack turns because that’s tricky bookkeeping. Danny also could have used Wind Rush to get Sorscha into and out of combat more (and he did use it, once, to boost his Def). Also—and I’m looking at the starter stuff as I type this, and boggling—Freezing Grip would basically have ended the game in Round 4. Khador are no joke, and I know that Blindwater has trouble with high armor, but I didn’t leave the game at all dissatisfied with my choice of faction or the game in general. Hopefully Saturday is a day of many games, and I dunk lots of ‘Jacks until the bubbles stop rising!