Every war starts somewhere…
The chanting was what annoyed him the most. Let them worship however they choose, but the incessant murmur was what grated on him. The Menites were numerous as they approached this small Khadoran hamlet. It was typical of southern Khador, a homestead with fields of wheat. Irusk wondered how much of it would be left when he expelled these pious invaders.
There were at least two enemy ‘casters guiding the army and there were several ‘jacks. This was no expeditionary force. This was a crusade meant to do in Khador what they had done in Llael. Kommander Sorscha Kratikoff had been sent to protect his right flank. The mighty Maxkrad river offered effective protection to his left.
The delirious chant intensified as a small part of the enemy force broke towards a farm house on high ground. If they held it they would have a commanding vantage point over the entire battlefield. Irusk summoned the Devastator from his army and yelled at some Shocktroopers and Widowmakers to join him. He looked forward to spilling Menite blood on his beloved home soil. They will feel the might of the Khadoran empire.
Okay, enough talking about the campaign. Time to get stuck in. Peter and I are going to play out the ANNIHILATION campaign exactly as described in the PDF. Peter assembled a 100pt Protectorate of Menoth army lead by Epic Severius and the High Reclaimer. My army had Irusk and Sorscha leading from the front. Tonight Peter and I played out the first two games and already the losses are starting to hurt. Before I get into the battle reports let’s look at the full armies. Peter’s army is made up of –
|Warcasters||Hierarch Severius, High Reclaimer|
|Warjacks||Dervish, Blessing of Vengeance, Templar, Castigator, Redeemer, Revenger, Crusader|
|Units||Exemplar Bastions (Leader and 4 Grunts), Exemplar Bastions (Leader and 4 Grunts), Choir (Leader and 5 Grunts), Choir (Leader and 5 Grunts), Zealots (Leader and 9 Grunts), Zealots (Leader and 9 Grunts), Monolith Bearer, Monolith Bearer, Vassal, Temple Flameguard (Leader and 9 Grunts), TFG Officer and Standard, Vilmon, Paladin, Paladin|
My army comprises –
|Warcasters||Kommandant Irusk, Kommander Sorscha|
|Warjacks||Destroyer, Destroyer, Devastator, Juggernaut, Marauder|
|Units||War dog, War dog, Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 3 Grunts), Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 3 Grunts), Great Bears of Gallowswood, Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts), Iron Fang Pikemen (Leader and 5 Grunts), Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard, Iron Fang Pikemen (Leader and 9 Grunts), Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard, Man-o-war Shocktroopers (Leader and 2 Grunts), Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts), Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts), Koldun Lord, Man-o-war Drakhun (with dismount), Man-o-war Drakhun (without dismount), Manhunter|
It’s really tough composing the complete army while trying to anticipate loss. You want to have spares, but you don’t want redundancy. The ‘jacks are potentially quite durable (in campaign terms) as they have to be completely destroyed to be taken out of action. That said destroying them is necessary in MkII games as even a heavily damaged ‘jack can be dangerous.
The other factor in choosing a force is what scenarios will be fought. I’ve generally found Khador to be a good scenario faction as their ‘jacks and units can be difficult to budge from objectives.
Game 1: 15pt / Mosh Pit Scenario
Peter’s force for the opening battle of the campaign was led by Epic Severius and comprised a unit of Bastions, Zealots and the Blessing of Vengeance. My army was commanded by Irusk and contained a Devastator, some Man-o-War Shocktroopers (min unit), a unit of Widowmakers and a Manhunter.
Mosh pit forces the armies to draw together and the Menite force moved into the centre quickly. As the Khadorans advanced Severius moved the Blessing of Vengeance up to arc some disruption with two Shocktroopers falling to friendly blades. The Bastions advanced up behind it and the Zealots swarmed towards the Mosh Pit.
Devastator advanced into the Blessing of Vengeance and used a double handed throw to hurl it towards the nearby Bastions.The It’s throw overshot them leaving the Devastator very exposed to a counter charge. The lone Man-o-War moved into the Mosh Pit and the Widowmakers chanced a few shots at Severius, but missed (he was behind cover). Irusk cast airburst at the Zealots killing four and shot his Sword Cannon to drop a fifth. They held steady.
With the Devastators armour wide open he was very vulnerable. The Zealots threw their bombs at it causing minor damage. When the Bastions charged however they totalled it. This only left the Man-o-War in the Mosh Pit. Severius moved up and feated. He moved the Man-o-War out of the pit and proceeded to attempt to get the Widowmakers to shoot their komrades, but only killed one. The Mosh Pit was in Menite hands. Game over.
Owen: Ouch! That really hurt. Not only did I lose the scenario, but I also lost my only Devastator. The double-handed throw was the wrong option. Rain of Death into the Bastions would have been a better. I could have (coulda, shoulda, woulda!) contacted three of them with Bulldoze and boosted 2/3 of the POW 18s. Even with their wound sharing shenanigans I could have taken out a couple of them. The loss of the two Shocktroopers effectively makes that unit unfieldable as I’ll need to pay the min points just to field the single remaining Man-o-War. That’s make him a very expensive solo. Between these losses and the loss of a Widowmaker I’m down about 16pts. I only killed 6pts of Zealots! That could really hurt later in the campaign.
Peter: Well, I don’t think I could have asked for a better scenario for Epic Sevvy, everyone needs to get into the middle of the board, well within his control area, and with the limited number of models available at 15 points it was always going to be relatively easy to clear out the Mosh Pit with Sevvy’s feat. Being able to use the Shock Troopers to kill each other was great too.
I’m not sure Owen could have done much more damage to me by using Rain of Death on the Bastions, as I would have only lost a single trooper at most, and if the Blessing of Vengence hadn’t been thrown he could have charged in with four dice on the charge and three for any extra shots.
Sadly I couldn’t take out any extra Widowmakers, they always seem much better shots when they aren’t on my side. I’ll take the win though, and be grateful that I only lost a few zealots.
Game 2: 25pt / No Man’s Land Scenario
For the second game Peter decided to mix things up and go with the High Reclaimer instead. Here’s his list – a full unit of Temple Flame Guard, Vilmon, a Castigator, a full unit Bastions and a Revenger. I decided (after Irusk’s disgraceful defeat) to use my alternative ‘caster, Sorscha. My list had two Destroyers, a unit of Widowmakers, the Great Bears of Gallowswood, a War dog and a Man Hunter.
No Man’s Land would force the two armies into close proximity, but on a broader front than the previous scenario. Peter automatically ‘won’ the starting roll as he won the first game, but he decided to give me the first turn. I pushed my ‘jacks forward in the middle, advanced the Manhunter and Great Bears rapidly up the left flank and moved the Widowmakers forward in a wood.
On Peter’s turn he moved the whole army up and cast Burning Ash to screen them. The Castigator moved towards the Great Bears on Peter’s right. The Temple Flame Guard were in the centre of the advance followed by the Bastions and the High Reclaimer. Vilmon moved up into a wood to guard against the flanking Manhunter and the Revenger followed up alongside its ‘caster.
On my second turn I moved the ‘jacks up into No Man’s Land and followed up with Sorscha and the War Dog. The Great Bears spread out in the hope that the High Reclaimer would struggle to protect the Castigator with Burning Ash clouds. The Manhunter pushed up into the far end of the wood Vilmon was in and the Widowmakers were left with only him to shoot at, but they missed.
The Castigator launched itself towards a Great Bear, but failed to hit with its attacks. In the middle the Temple Flame Guard charged the Destroyers, slightly damaging one of them. The Bastions pressed forward to the edge of No Man’s Land and the Revenger followed up. The High Reclaimer cast a few Burning Ash clouds. Peter forgot to activate Vilmon (which would prove costly).
My turn three would be the last action of the game. I gave each ‘jack a focus and started proceedings with Sorscha. She moved up between them and feated, freezing almost all of Peter’s army. She struck down a TFG and cast Razor Wind at the High Reclaimer doing a few damage. The ‘jacks activated next and trampled across the TFG killing all bar one. The Widowmakers moved up and took out the final one. That was the scenario win, but since I still had a couple of units to activate it I decided to try to do some more damage. The Great Bears charged the Castigator and totalled it and the Manhunter advanced into Vilmon. I got lucky with his damage rolls and took out Vilmon.
Peter: Wow, what a difference 3 focus makes. I went with the High Reclaimer for this match and I think I panicked into keeping everything inside his control area. This meant I only managed to get a unit of TFG into the scenario area in turn 2, and they were depressingly easy to despatch once Sorscha had made them all stationary. Losing them also means I won’t be able to use their attachment in any upcoming games, wasting a couple of points in my full army list.
My original plan for the game had been to set up on one side of the table, run everything into the middle and then work my way along the zone keeping smoke up for cover. I think this would have been far better as a plan, and I honestly don’t know why I changed my mind at the last minute.
The mistake with Vilmon is the most upsetting thing, since he would have been incredibly useful for holding points in the next couple of scenarios, and also losing the Castigator limits my crowd control options in the same way as Owen losing his Devastator. Who knows what effect that will have when trying to clear the larger zones in the final game.
The biggest worry now is making it through the next game without suffering too many losses, I’m getting low on infantry at this point and the next scenario looks fairly punishing if it drags out.
Owen: I almost felt bad dishing out the damage at the end of that battle. The game was won, but I still went after all of the targets I could. This is where the campaign makes you think a little differently. The Devastator was a big loss from the first game and it was nice to see the Great Bears repay the favour. Peter was unlucky to lose Vilmon as had he activated him he’d surely have been impervious to the non-magical attacks of the Manhunter. The Tramples from the Destroyers were a thing of beauty.
The campaign is really hotting up and it is starting to live up to it’s name. With over 85 points still to field (excluding ‘jack points) in the remaining two scenarios we may struggle to field whole armies in the final game!
Two down and two to go. I’m barely ahead in the campaign and we’ve both suffered significant losses.
Update Game 3 can be found here.