If you’ve been following my Hordes posts recently you’ll probably have noticed that I’ve been favouring Madrak over my usual prefecence of warlock, ie. Doomshaper. My friend had just bought Calaban and we decided to play a 35 points game together to see if things would work out differently.
For this, I chose to field Doomshaper, having not played him in a while, and requiring a much different set up to my usual build I thought it might even the playing field a bit.
So we rolled to see who would decide to set up first. I won the roll, and decided I would.
(TURN ONE: DOOMSHAPER)
My army looked a bit like this:
This set up gave me the added bonus of having fury points already in the Krielstone from the start (one for each solo/unit of runeshapers) because of Doomshapers Tier 2. Given that the first turn almost always consists of running forward for me, this was kind of unnecessary, but gave me the opportunity to cast [bump] on pretty much everything. I also decided to give [fortune] to the Bouncer because of his low mat.
(TURN TWO: CALABAN)
My opponent’s list looked something like this:
His first turn vaguely resembled my own, though he was careful to hold back from allowing space for charges. A few spells were placed down, but none of much consequence as they were all gone by the next turn. One interesting thing to note was that he decided to use the Ironback Spitter and Calaban to attack from distance.
Both models have attacks that do aoe blast damage, but were out of range. My opponent knew this however, and was hoping the spell might deviate in his favour. This tactic would serve him well later on when it managed to cripple the Krielstone and damage Janissa, but for the time being it did nothing.
(TURN THREE: DOOMSHAPER)
Then it was back to me. Realising that I wouldn’t be able to charge without putting [rush] on my entire army (doable, but risky given that I could not then move into the space they opened up) I instead decided to hold out there, once more casting [bump] on everything, and waiting for the fight to come to me.
One thing I did do however was switch the positions of a few models. I managed to switch Mulg and the Axer so that both were nearer the targets they would favour. The Axer was aimed at infantry (ie. the Gatorman Posse) while Mulg was readying to destroy Calaban.
(TURN FOUR: CALABAN)
Then it was time for the melee to begin. My opponent took the initiative, charging the Axer with his Bone Swarm. I can’t remember exactly if it landed just out or was simply unable to land a blow, but either way no damage was done, and [bump] was not triggered.
Then came the Gatorman Posse, charging the Axer and Bouncer. I was surprised by how much damage they were capable of dealing even on the armour 21 Bouncer, in fact, enough so that I decided to spawn a whelp to bring it back to something more reasonable in my turn.
It was around this time that my Krielstone suffered, two of their number falling to the Bone Grinders. Those damned dirty pigs!
At this point my opponent decided to move a Snapjaw into my rear, rounding some terrain in a hopes to catch my largely undefended flank. This was a tricky move, and one I had not quite expected. My friend is very good at finding the weak spots in my army and it always encourages me to think creatively about how I defend it.
(TURN FIVE: DOOMSHAPER)
With melee started it was time for a bloodbath. I started with the bouncer who sliced through the Gatormen like… well… if I’m honest, like a plastic knife through concrete. He was able to “kill” one of them, but consistently successful tough rolls had me pulling my hair out. That’s MY trick damn it!
On to the Axer and it was time to take out the trash. Moving slightly forward he was able to [thresher] clear some of Posse, and then expended his fury killing off those that remained. The Bone Swarm took some damage, but nothing major. It was Mulg’s turn to follow up, crushing his way through those who remained and using Doomshaper’s goad to urge him onwards. I had planned to move him closer and closer to Calaban, but he was just too far and I was already on 4 fury.
One Gatorman taunted me as I failed again and again to kill it. I forgot about Mulg’s special ability. At the end of his activation, assuming you’re using Doomshaper as a warlock, he can make one normal attack against a model he has failed to kill. That would have seen the Gator squished, but in the grand scheme of things didn’t make a massive difference.
On to the Dire Troll Mauler who just about managed to get into melee with both the Bone Swarm and the surviving (for now) Gatorman. One smack and that survivor was a stain. Another smack and the Bone Swarm started to look a little less… swarmy? I decided not to expend all of the Mauler’s fury killing the Bone Swarm as all the other beasts were on full and it was pretty much inevitable that at least one would frenzy. With no other enemies in sight, that could have turned pretty ugly.
Next it was the Runebearer’s time to shine. He moved to use his once in a game ability to cast Doomshaper’s [rampager] ability, taking control of the Wrastler and having him turn around and hug Calaban. Sadly no damage was dealt, but at least he was locked out from charging.
Then Janissa moved, walking up to the Snapper coming in from the rear (steady…) and showing him that she’s far from defenceless. Her [armour-piercing] weapon made short work of the Snapper who was sitting on only three hit points in his spiral after that.
This was when things got truly ugly. Doomshaper moved, and popped his fear.
Doomshaper’s feat is particularly brutal to Hordes. I won’t go too deeply into what it does, you can look that up for yourself, but it can shut down your opponent for an entire turn if used effectively. Fortunately for me this was just one such occasion.
Before ending my turn I tried to have Doomshaper hit Calaban with [stranglehold] but to no avail. He was then sitting on no fury at all, in the open, waiting to be killed. And maybe that would have happened, had it not been for how the feat played out.
(TURN SIX: CALABAN)
You see, I’d put my opponent in a sticky situation. If he moved the Snapper round to attack me it would incur a free strike from Janissa which might just kill it outright. If it tried to attack her, it would likely need to boost its attack as it had lost both mind and body. That would probably kill it too.
Oh the other warbeasts could activate just fine and do their normal attacks, but none were positioned to do any real damage, and then my turn could well finish them off.
With little option left my opponent decided on the one last course of action. Using the same hole in terrain I’d exploited to try and cast [stranglehold] he attempted to attack Doomshaper with spells. He was able to hit him with a [parasite], but lost half his health in the attack.
Then there was a serious decision to make. Was it worth trying to kill Doomshaper, or would the attempt kill Calaban?
My opponent decided to be ballsy and give it a try. He cast a spell, and I rolled two sixes and a five.
It was a very fun game from start to finish and I definitely enjoyed using Doomshaper again. I love Mulg, but most of all I love the look of horror on other players’ faces when he joins the table. Those that know him, fear him. Those that don’t know him, soon learn to. Sadly he didn’t get to be used to full effect, but given his high damage output and refusal to take any damage himself it was likely he would have had some fun times ahead.
I will always love Doomshaper’s feat because it works on Hordes in such a great way. It isn’t as specific as Ironhide’s, nor is it as versatile in games against Warmachine factions where it is almost always wasted. After all, a warjack doesn’t need to expend that much focus, nor does a warcaster need to cast spells that desperately, and if they’re already at the back of the field they’re unlikely to be in range.
Janissa surprised me too, as she does on a regular basis now. I’m learning that she’s a very good solo, perhaps on her own more efficient than an entire unit of runeshapers. Given how she all but killed a light warbeast all on her lonesome, she was definitely my model of the game.
As for my opponent, he played well, and kept me on my toes. It is almost a shame it had to end so abruptly, though we examined the ending, trying to consider alternatives that might have swung favour in his direction. Inevitably it always came down to him casting a spell at Doomshaper and dying from the roll.
This was unfortunate because one good thing about Warmachine and Hordes is that even when all seems lost, or that victory is assured, there’s something that might turn the tides. For instance, had my rolls been low when he spent fury he might still have survived. Had he decided to ignore my beasts for that turn and instead move away he might have had another round at least, but it was anyone’s guess how the game would have gone from there.
If I had to say one model that stood out in his army it was the Witch Doctor solo. Giving tough to his Posse made my life very difficult. I finally appreciate what playing against trolls is like now. Not that I’d change it for the world.