Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Target Priority; Why You Don't Need to Kill Everything to WIn


Target Prioritization is one of the hardest things to understand in Warmachine, and is one of the two remaining pinnacles of the three axioms I used to play by in Mark 2.

The reason target prioritization gives players so much difficulty is very simple - it changes based on every list, every scenario, and every board set up.

In some matchups, the one thing on your opponents side that gives his shooting model Eyeless Sight has to be a priority. In others, you need to focus down his colossal as quickly as possible. In a third, maybe the only thing that matters is killing your opponents' arc node.

It drastically differs depending on the tools available to you, the tools available to your opponent, and the table you are playing on.

Furthermore, there are going to be different parts of the board that you will need to target more strongly than others in every game. These might be places where

Rather than trying to generalize what is an extremely specific topic, I'm going to walk through several deployment and first turn pictures and go through my thought process in regards to what is important and what is not important given the matchup and the table.

Feel free to disagree with me; these are just opinions, and you might have a different take.

Table 1:



This is an interesting matchup because the lists are straight up identical, and so, theoretically, target priority should be identical. 

This is only partially true. 

Have a look at my opponent's deployment - he's skewed middle/right with only one Sentry Stone unit on the left side, and we are playing Incursion. 

Instantly, that unit becomes my priority. The first person to clear a flag and hold it in this Scenario is often the winner, and if all he contests with on that half of the table is one, moderately hardy unit, I will happily commit a heavy warbeast to kill it and then camp that flag with a solo. 

As long as I can apply pressure in the middle and right sides of the table (which I've deployed to do), I should force him into bad trades as he sends models to that side of the table in order to not lose on Scenario.

Here's what happened:

Sentry Stone goes into the left flag to contest

I kill off the left hand Sentry Stone and threaten Wrong Eye with my heavies if he decides to commit

Everything on the left half of the table dies and I build a massive wall of things to prevent my opponent from getting to Lanyssa, who is happily camping that flag.

Table 2:



Man this was a game. My opponent's list has basically three models in it - Raiders, Shamans, and Soulwards,

It's hard to target prioritize when your opponent spams - this is one of the inherent strengths of spamming.

Here, my opponent has four ways to ignore stealth, and so those things need to die as fast as possible.

Alternatively, I know my opponent isn't likely to come very far forward since that's how gunlines play, and since my list can run 14 inches, I can get into his shooting models very quickly.

Here, the priority is not a model, it is the Scenario. I don't need to kill anything unless it comes into the zone, I just need to jam it and engage it and annoy it until I score 5. To that effect, the objective is the first target, and anything else that comes into the zone becomes target number two.

If I try and get into a flat out attrition war with this list, I will probably lose it, so identifying my win condition very early is important.

Here's what happened:

The Cloud wall of doesn't matter against Shamans goes up.

He shoots a bunch of my stuff, but I run and engage as many things as possible.

I clear the zone and score three points, he still has a lot of models left.

He commits three models to the zone and I'm able to kill them all and dominate again. He still has plenty of dudes left over there though.

Table 3:



This is a very interesting table to look at. I'm playing Grayle, and have very few ways to crack armor reliably.

He's playing Reznik 1 and three heavy jacks, and right away I'm worried about killing them.

However, my opponent skewed his heavies very, very far right on Linebreaker with a forest separating half the map, which means that I really just need to clear his infantry on the left side of the table and run a Solo to hold down the left flag. If he abandons the right hand flag, I can take it over pretty easily since my list is capable of putting down one heavy no problem.

As a result, the most important target for me is the Flamebringers since they're the only targets mobile enough to contest turn after turn, and they are also the hardest to pin down (notice how my Reeves are on that side of the table).

Here's how that game progressed in a few snap shots.

Opponent commits his jacks right and I line up my Reeves to kill off his Flamebringers.

I take out the TFG and the majority of the Flamebringers. My Wolves of Orboros also roll like crazy and kill his Castigator (which I was not expecting to happen). 

I get a solo onto the far left flag and destroy the objective, and can now basically just run away from his armor the rest of the game. 

If I had tried to engage his army on his terms, I most certainly would have lost this game. Instead, I was able to prioritize the correct models and parts of the table to care about, and effectively played the game while ignoring his entire battlegroup.

Table 4:



This is an interesting game because I'm not really interested in killing his army here. All I really care about is blocking off his access to the friendly flag, and I know I'll win on Scenario eventually. I have lots and lots of models to contest with, and I can be very defensive with my beasts, as their job is basically to sit in the back of the zone and kill any enemy beasts that come into the zone looking to contest my flags.

I think it might even be possible to score on his turn 2 while preventing him from scoring with the threat of an assassination.

As such, I'm happy trading one for one in beasts, as that will eventually lead to a scenario win.

Check out how I've set up my models here - I have a wall of threats between the empty gap in the zone and my flag, and I also have a veritable flood of models to contest with on the right that I can send in one at a time. My opponent doesn't have a good way to get to my flag to contest, and as such I can sit back and wait for him to come to me, expending no resources in the process.

The game progresses and he's had to throw his army at me to not lose on Scenario, leaving both his caster exposed, and the vast majority of my resources intact.

I have plenty of attacks with which to kill everything left on the table, and at the end of this turn I score to 5 and kill Saeryn without even activating the Stalker or Wolf Riders.


There are too many things to say on this subject, it literally changes between every game.

The overarching points I would like to emphasize are as follows:

1) Figure out what your win condition is at deployment - this will tell you which models to prioritize, which to keep safe, and which to ignore.

2) Pay attention to the terrain and your opponents' deployment. There are games where you will literally not have to deal with 1/3 to 1/2 of your opponents' models just by playing with the terrain well.

3) There are parts of the table that should be prioritized just like there are models that should be prioritized, and these will change from game to game as well. Not threatening or defending these parts of the table can lose you the game just as quickly as not destroying the right models will.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hobby Time: Glowing Metal Tutorial

Over the last few weeks, I've been working steadily on a commission for a friend of mine, and he asked me to go all out on his Avatar of Menoth.

As a result, I've gotten to practice a lot of techniques that don't often come up when you're painting tabletop level commissions, such as True Metallic Metals, Glow Effects, and multiple multiple levels of Shading and Highlighting.

I decided to go nuts on the Avatar's Sword and make it look like a bar of superheated metal, and when I posted a picture of the first side of the blade done, I got quite a few questions about how I did it, resulting in this little tutorial. I hope it is useful!


Okay sorry, that one is a big deal and if you don't follow that rule, nothing that follows is going to work for you.

Step one:

Base coat the blade with a dull but very opaque yellow or tan. This is important because a very bright yellow color will take dozens of coats to cover black primer without showing the underlying black through the yellow.

For my own project, I used p3 Sulfur Yellow for the basecoat.

Take the time to put down a couple of thin layers (I think this was three layers here) to get a very smooth basecoat. Remember, you're showing trying to convey polished metal, even if it is super heated.

Step two:

Take your bright yellow, and put down a few thin layers over the entirety of the dull yellow. Again, smoothness is important here so a couple of thin coats is better than one thicker coat.

This is p3 Cygnus Yellow.

Step three:

It's time to start glazing in your oranges. The warm colors descend in brightness from yellow to orange to red, and in order to get a smooth transition you need to go through each one.

Unfortunately, getting a nice blend of warm colors is very difficult. I used GW Troll Slayer Orange for my orange tone, and I thinned it down until it was almost translucent before I started putting it on the sword.

You can barely see it on my fingernail, which is exactly where I want it to be.

Another quick note - before you put the brush to the model, make sure it's not overly saturated with liquid. If your glazes pool up, they won't look right as they dry if you shift the model even a little bit. Thin, translucent coats is what we are after here.

For this blade, I glazed the "connecting" edges of the tip of the blade, and then also where the black center bumped into the yellow, leaving the edges alone and also one side of each segment of the tip.

Here is what the blade looks like after one glaze.

You can barely tell I've done anything to the sword right? That's okay. The next few repetitions will cement in the orange color. Take care to use another brush to blend out any really obvious edges where the orange ends and the yellow begins. This is less necessary the thinner your paint is.

Here is the sword after three glazes with the Troll Slayer Orange.

Starting to look much more orange-y and much less yellow-y. You can see where I've left the different edges of the tip alone, and also that I haven't touched the cutting edges of the sword.

Time for the next step!

Step four:

Step four is very similar to Step three, except you substitute the orange with a bright red and paint in less of the surface area.

I used p3 Khador Red Base for this, and just continued putting color in the same spots as I did with the orange, just with a smaller surface area.

Here we are after one glaze:

The Red is a lot stronger of a color than the orange was, and you'll need to feather the edges where you want a smooth blend more than you will with the orange.

All it took was two layers of glaze with the red until I was happy with where it was.

Here is where a lot of beginning painters would probably call it done - it's got all the right colors, and the blending is nice and smooth.

The last step, though, is the most critical to selling this look.

Step five:

Step five requires a pure white, in my case just Vallejo Model White.

Thin it down, but not quite as much as you have the other glazes. We're going to place the white at the points where the metal would be thinnest and most hot. This is the blade edges, and in the yellow bits of the point.

This picture did not turn out quite as well as I thought it had last night, but you get the general idea - the white serves to ramp up the contrast and really make the division in colors in the tip pop.

I also used it on the edges of the blade, coming in a tiny bit where the belly of the sword widens.

If you place highlights that are too large, the effect will be spoiled. Luckily, there's a very easy fix! Take a very thin layer of the bright yellow and go over all of the white area but the extreme highlights and it will work just fine.


I hope this has been helpful! Blending with the warm trio of colors is always tricky, but with patience (seriously, let the paint dry completely between each layer of glaze, highlight, basecoat, you name it) and practice, it can be stunning.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Battle Report 56: Morvahna 2 Tier vs. Saeryn

Ahh Morvahna 2, the scourge of Mark 2. How you have fallen.

Due to limited internet access, I've skipped over a couple of games to get to the one that most of you were hoping for - the Theme force batrep. What you are missing out on (for now) is a game with Una 2 and a Raptor vs. Kryssa which I won on Scenario after blasting Warspears and Warmongers off the table with Woldwyrds and Stormy, and a game with Kromac 2 and two Raptors into Zaadesh which I lost 5-4 on Scenario after it became apparent that a Storm Raptor under Kromac feat can barely kill a Titan Sentry.

The new Circle tier came out last week, and it was clearly meant to be played with ALL the infantry (even though it's probably best to take mostly beasts), and who plays infantry better than Morvahna?

The answer? Grayle, if they were Wolf Sworn, but they are not, so here we go!

- Brennos
- Stalker
- Gorax

Tharn Ravager White Mane (FREE!)
Tharn Ravager Shaman (FREE!)
Bloodweaver Night Witch x2
Tharn Wolfrider Champion

Tharn Wolfriders
Tharn Bloodtrackers
Wolf Sworn Death Wolves (wait what??)


Saeryn, the Omen of Everblight
- Succubus
- Carnivean
- Carnivean
- Nephilim Protector
- Shredder x4

Spell Martyr x3
Shepherd x2
Forsaken x2

Blighted Nyss Raptors

I won the roll off and opted to go first. My opponent took the side with the hill.

My opponent wisely counter-deployed by putting his Cavalry (twenty-one inch threat) opposite my Cavalry (19 inch threat with assault). As a result, I deployed my Bloodtrackers (fourteen inch threat) across from his Raptors (fourteen inch threat against Stealth) in the hopes that I could use terrain to protect my girls and kill off all his raptors pretty quickly

I put two corpse tokens on each Death Wolf but Kaleb, and I put one on the Ravager White Mane from the tier benefit.

Circle turn 1:

This game happened nearly a week ago now, so some pertinent details might be a little fuzzy.

Morvahna went first and cast Carnivore on the Stalker, Fog of War on herself, and then walked 8 inches up and repositioned into the zone. Boom. Fast lady on a Goat.

My Death Wolves and other Solos on the right ran up the table.

My Wolf Riders and Champion made a beeline for the right side of the table to get away from his Raptors.

The Bloodtrackers ran up and spread out.

Legion turn 1:

The Shredders all ran at me.

Carniveans advanced, cast Spiny Growth and riled for two each, letting the Forsaken come and take a bunch of fury.

Saeryn moved up and cast....something? Spiny Growth on herself I think, and then Respawn on one Carnivean. Yes that's right.

The Raptors ran across the table to get into my Wolf Riders' business again.

Circle turn 2:

This turn started off innocently enough.

I upkept both spells, and then sent the Nightwitch into the closest far-right Shredder. Which she killed and moved into the next Shredder back and did approximately ten damage to.

The Death Wolves charged the other three Shredders and, despite massive amounts of whiffing, did about half their boxes or more each.

Then....The White Mane got in on the fun.

He charged a Shredder, killed it, moved an inch, bought on another Shredder, killed it, moved an inch, hit a Shredder, killed it, moved to the last Shredder, bought, killed it, moved to the first Shepherd, bought, killed it, moved to the next Shepherd, bought, killed it, moved to the first Spell Martyr, bought, killed it, moved to the next Spell Martyr, bought, and killed it before ending up in front of the first Raptor with two corpse tokens.

Now at MAT 8, dice -2, I was having dreams of killing all the Raptors as well, but the White Mane choked up and missed his first attack and only did 3 damage with his second attack. Ah well.

He still killed 20 points of models and tied up 2 Raptors. He's getting a special paint job once I'm done with my commissions.

After that the rest of the turn felt lackluster.

Brennos moved up and blasted the Protector for a decent chunk of damage. I needlessly ran my other Nightwitch into the zone.

Morvahna moved back to the flag, and everything else advanced cautiously.


Legion turn 2:

My opponent spent about five minutes swearing at my White Mane and then got to work.

Between all of the Raptors, the White Mane died.

The Carnivean assaulted Kaleb, killed him, and forced Skoll to use a corpse to reduce damage to 1. He also killed the Nightwitch and cast Spiny Growth. 

Saeryn moved up and popped feat before shooting Skoll down.

The other Carnivean assaulted the Nightwitch in the zone and killed her.

I scored a point!

Score 1-0
Advantage Circle

Circle turn 3:

Alright, we have a game plan. Sit on this flag for days.

Brennos got Primaled and went in on the Carnivean. Even ignoring Spiny Growth, he was at dice off 3, and re-rolls only go so far. The Carnivean was left on five boxes.

If I'd been smart and kept my Nightwitch alive, I could have applied Grievous Wounds and not worried about him, but alas.

Bloodtrackers murdered the Forsaken that was waiting to explode on Brennos.

Tala charged the Raptor by the Forsaken, killed it, bought into the Forsaken, and then failed to kill it because it's ARM 17 under Saeryn's feat.

Wolf Riders took pot shots at the Raptors and missed all of them before Repositioning back, carefully staying more than an inch behind the far side of the wall.

I scored a second point.

Score 2-0
Advantage Circle

Legion turn 3:

The Raptors came up and shot things to death, leaving me with three Wolf Riders.

The Protector killed Tala, and Saeryn came to cap the flag, healing the Carnivean.

The busted Carnivean killed Brennos easily, and the other assaulted and killed one Wolf Rider (but missed the Champion!)

We both scored a point.

Score 3-1
Advantage Circle

Circle turn 4:

I'm in a pretty good spot here, I just need to kill a few things to make contesting impossible.

Wolf Riders Assault and kill two Raptors, and Reposition back. The Champion assaults the third one, kills it, quick works into the last and misses. Darn!

The Bloodtrackers activate and start shooting at the Carnivean. The first one does a few damage, and then the rest don't do any, until the last one misses while in range to re-roll the attack. She does so, and then cranks damage to put the beast down. 

Morvahna decides to feat to bring back the three Wolf Riders, nice and spread out. 

We both score another point. 

Score 4-2
Advantage Circle

Legion turn 4:

In a play of desperation, the last raptor tries to kill the Wolf Rider between the Carnivean and the flag.

Missing, Saeryn moves up and casts Hellfire at it, charbroiling it.

The Carnivean runs up and contests the flag, and the rest of Saeryn's things move into the zone with her.

Score 4-2
Advantage Circle

Circle turn 5:

My plan here is simple, Morv has to kill the Carnivean because the Stalker is too far away to walk up to him.

I drop all my upkeeps, and Morvahna charges the dragon. After many, many pain inflicted weaponmaster attacks and re-rolls, the beast dies, and Morvahna repositions to the flag.

My opponent graciously lets me see how much I can kill, so the next thing to happen is the Champion jumps to back arc on the remaining Raptor and kills it.

Prey switches to the Protector.

The Bloodtrackers move up and kill the Protecter in four throws. Prey goes to the Forsaken, which dies to one spear, then the Succubus, which likewise dies in one spear. I have four back arc attacks into Saeryn, three of which connect and put her down.

I also score 2 points, just to be cheeky.

Victory for the Druids!

Post-Game Thoughts:

The Theme list is probably not competitive, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun! Playing a bunch of dudes, and giving things free corpse tokens is a blast, and the White Mane still does his thing very well when he has the opportunity.

I like this list a lot for casual play, and once ATC is over, I will probably experiment with it some more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Battle Report 55: Una 2 vs. Sloan

Even though we couldn't technically play against each-other for the League, I asked my friend if he'd be willing to stress test Sloan into my Una list for me, since I see Sloan and Haley 3 being a popular pair and I really want to get my head around the Cygnar matchup.

My list is pretty stock:

Una 2
- Wilder
- Scarsfell x7
- Gorax
- Pureblood


Shifting Stones x2
Sentry Stones x2


Captain Kara Sloan
- Reinholdt
- Hunter x5

Gun Mage Captain Adept
Arlan Strangeways

Alexia and the Risen

We rolled up Outlast as our Scenario, and had another person place terrain for us to simulate a tournament table.

My opponent won the roll off and elected to go second, wanting to deny my a large forest and also wanting to be able to shoot at me turn 1.

I deployed pretty centrally.

And my opponent skewed Sloan herself to my left.

This was going to be significant due to the placement of the forest, but I wasn't going to realize it until slightly too late on my first turn.

Circle turn 1:

Well I've got decent terrain over here, I can get my griffons to DEF 17 and 19 vs. shooting pretty easily.

That being said, my game-plan here is bunkering down with Windwall and keeping as many models alive as physically possible.

I move up the left Sentry Stone, intending to charge Una into my Shifting Stones and port her up to the hill with Windwall up.

Unfortunately, I wussy out on this plan (I think, in hindsight, it might have been a better play) and Una casts Windwall and Hand of Fate and charges a Hunter, bonking into one of my Mannekins and ending in the Shifting Stones, who port her up and right.

I run a boatload of stuff to be in that Windwall bubble.

I put one griffon in the rubble to the left, and hide the other two behind the house.

Then I realize I forgot to deploy my Wilder and do a massive facepalm before putting her on top of my tape measure so I don't forget to deploy her during my maintenance phase.

Look at the blob of scaredness
Cygnar turn 1:

My opponent starts things off by running the Ranger leader up to mark my griffon, and Reinhardt reloads Sloan.

She moves up and casually blasts him off the table. Side-bar: When a DEF 19 stealth model isn't safe from guns, that's a little goofy.

A Hunter pops off the exposed Sentry Stone, and he makes a cloud wall.

Alexia runs to make landing amongst his Hunters impossible.

Circle turn 2:

I'm starting to get a feel for the way this is likely to pan out.

The Sentry Stone keeps Hand of Fate and I deploy my Wilder.

Sentry Mannikins under Hand of Fate do quite a bit of work, and what they don't clear from the zone, the Griffons do. Unfortunately, I did another dumb here and didn't port the Sentry Stone up to where Una was going to be.

Una moves up, casts Windwall again, and camps a few.

Everything runs to the protective bubble.

I contest with the leader of the grey Shifting Stone unit in the left zone.

Cygnar turn 2:

My opponent makes a wall of clouds between me and his army, and contests the zone.

Something kills the Shifting Stone.

A Hunter moves up, but whiffs damage on the Sentry Stone.

Sloan gets reloaded, casts Refuge on herself, kills the Sentry Stone, and moves back behind the wall.

Critically here, my opponent decided to walk the Risen up so he could craft a Thrall, leaving them a little more bunched up than necessary.

Other Hunters shuffle around the edge of the zone.

Cygnar scores 2 points.

Score 0-2
Advantage Cygnar

Circle turn 3:

I see an opening here, and I'm definitely going to try and take it.

If the Pureblood assaults in on the farthest trencher, he can clear a few dudes and also put some damage on Alexia to clear some more dudes. The Blackclad can spray the Risen in front of the closest Hunter, and that means that I can run one of the back Griffons to engage it and charge it with one of the Griffons in my zone through the forest (yay tracker!).

First things first - Una aims, chooses Black Penny, and blows the Trencher in the zone up. She casts Hand of Fate on the Pureblood and Windwall. She Feats.

The Pureblood warps Ghostly, assaults in, and clears quite a few guys.

The Blackclad clears some more, and I run my back Griffon up.

The closest Griffon in my zone charges Alexia (ignoring forest due to tracker and models due to flight) and kills her after a couple attacks of murdering risen. Somehow, I'm not able to kill the Hunter.

After that, it's all in, and Griffons fly all over the place engaging Hunters.

I make a wall of Gorax and Shifting Stones in front of Una and pass the turn, scoring 2 points.

Score 2-2

Cygnar turn 3:

My opponent hands out focus and the fun starts. 

Sloan aims, casts Guided Fire, and kills an engaged Griffon. 

Hunters take free strikes, and kill two more griffons, leaving a third on basically dead. 

A Ranger contests my zone.

Score 2-2

Circle turn 4:

I'm getting down on time (it feels) and we're both almost out of models.

I pull fury from everything except the nearly crippled Griffon, who frenzies into the Hunter.

Una moves up and kills two rangers with Black Penny and Snipe. The Pureblood assaults the closest Hunter, and Hand of Fate allows me to do significant damage to the back Hunter, kill Arlan, kill the Hunter in front of me with melee attacks, and then kill the GMCA with a bought attack.

I block in the remaining Ranger with Shifting Stones, so if he wants to contest he's running a Hunter at me.

Before I do anything else, I chuck a Blackclad spray at Sloan, which hits but doesn't KD, and does about 5 damage.

Then I realize she's on no camp, and decide to try and end the game. I've only got one landing spot for a Griffon, but at dice -3 I figure it's worth a try.

I walk a Griffon over, boost hit and damage, boost a second hit, and Sloan goes down as I score two more points.

Victory for the Druids!

Post Game Thoughts:

This is an icky, awful matchup that neither list really wants to see.

Ultimately though, I think the burden is on the Sloan player to not screw up their placement, or else the birds can come in and swarm the Hunters.

Once again, this game really came down to the forest in the center of the table. I feel like without a central LOS blocking something, gunlines are insanely dominant at the moment. Something like a forest in the middle of the table really evens things out.