Warmachine is a game where if you play carelessly with your warcaster, you can lose the game immediately. When I read battle reports from other players, I shake my head every time I read the dreaded “do or die” scenario. What does this scenario mean? It means that if you don’t do something big this turn, you will lose the game. It’s literally do or die. This is exactly the type of scenario that you should avoid.
Recently, I read a battle report where someone got himself in close proximity to pButcher. He was trying to pull off a kill on pButcher but when all things failed, he figured his warcaster should go try! Now I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t fathom why you would ever get anywhere near a MAT9 Reach POW16 Weapon Master. To make matters worse, you’re not running eEiryss and the Butcher is camping focus with Iron Flesh on himself. For those of you that are not familiar with Warmachine, pButcher is a slaughterhouse on two legs. He’s the size of most armies’ light ‘jacks and his melee swings as strong as most heavies. Under no circumstance you should ever be near him unless you’re prepared. If you’re running a melee beast warcaster yourself, you still might want to invest in another strategy since going up against Butcher with camped focus and buffs is going to be tough. If you’re ranged or a spellcaster and you’re going for it, you’re doing it wrong.
Another example that I’ll throw out is running your caster in the front line when you’re playing against eCaine. I don’t understand how players think it’s OK to play frontline against one of the premiere assassination casters in the game. You should only approach Caine if you’re loaded with Focus, eEiryss isn’t anywhere near threatening and you’re buffed with DEF/ARM spells; preferably all three. The epic version of Caine has a 19″ kill zone where he can have up to 10 shots with RAT9 (11 with Rangers) and each shot he hits with, he gets an accumulative +1 damage to his ROF Infinity POW12 guns. Simply put, if you’re exposing yourself to an assassination-class warcaster, then you’re doing something terribly wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to pull off one of your combos; you have to realize that if your tactic fails, you will die next turn. It’s exactly these types of “trades” that should be avoided in the first place: You never want to be in a position where you have to gamble your chances of winning.
Now I know it’s quite ridiculous to talk about gambling in the game based around dice. I understand that. But dice, regardless of what scenario you use them in, has mathematical probability. In this article, I want to train your mind to think about the risks you take and whether or not they’re worth it. Generally, if the strategy you want to employ carries the burden of losing next turn, you probably want another strategy. Sometimes you’ll be faced with a situation where there’s no way out. In situations like those, you can go ahead and gamble with your do or die strategy since you already know the game’s ending next turn anyway. Then again, if you’re in a scenario that you have no way out, you probably got outplayed. The same scenario happens in chess; it’s called checkmate.
You see, there’s always a better way to do things. If your strategy relies on killing pButcher in caster assassination, understand that there are tons of ways to go about doing this. At the same time, you also have to understand that the best ones optimize your chances of a next round. What does that mean? Don’t get near him unless you’re absolutely certain that he can’t just turn around and chop off your head next turn. Now we all can’t help rolling double 1s four times in a row, and besides burning your dice after the game, there’s nothing more that can be done. What you can do is optimize your strategy to deliver a damaging turn with little or no possible retaliation from your enemy. That’s pretty much how I play this game every time I come to the table. The best plays are when you severely crippled your opponent’s army and there’s nothing he can do about it next turn.
So how do we go about maximizing your turns while avoiding do or die scenarios? Here are 3 quick tips.
Knowledge is Power
I can’t stress this enough. Know what units in your opponents’ army have Reach, have Weapon Master, have Stealth, or can deliver serious damage from range. You have the right to ask your opponent what each and every one of his units do in a game. If he won’t tell you, you probably shouldn’t be playing with him anyway. Do what I do and research other armies other than your own. It goes without saying that you should know each and every of your own units like the back for your hand, but it’ll help you immensely if you also know your enemy. Everyone has a metagame and a bunch of guys that they play with. Every time you play them, you should analyze your mistakes, which units caused the most trouble and how you can deal with them next time. Know that every single army list have certain win conditions: pButcher wins by chopping people in the neck or delivering a hard hitting unit to you on Feat turn. eHaley wins by double-tapping you with her Defender or bullet jacking a Stormclad in your face. Once you know what your opponent’s win conditions are, you can dismantle their plans piece by piece.
Delivering the “Big Turn”
This takes place after you have assessed your opponent’s army and you’re determined to make something happen. It could be the fact that your opponent is going to run his army down your throat next turn or you’re the one delivering the coup de grâce, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you need to make something happen this turn: This one turn. Here is where your knowledge of the game comes into play. You know what his units do and you know what your units do. By knowing what to expect ahead of time, you can deliver some satisfying results by interrupting your opponent’s game plan. Target priority is very important in this phase because the order of your activations can make or break the turn. Killing eVlad’s infantry before he can activate his Feat turn will severely limit his ability to deliver his big turn. Destroying eHaley’s Stormclad will take away her ability to jack bullet. Your turn can be so awesome; you’ll find a way to kill his warcaster outright! A lot of things can happen this turn, but you must always keep yourself safe from retaliation just in case. Always remember: Completely destroying something in your opponent’s army erases it from his game plan. The less options he has, the better.
Keeping yourself safe
Before each and every activation, you should scan your battlefield and utilize the terrain to your advantage. Linear obstacles are great ways to prevent your opponent from charging you. The same applies to rough terrain.. so it’s important you know which one of his spells can give him Pathfinder or extend his threat range. Guess ranging skills work really well in this circumstance, but know that you can always measure your warcaster’s control range to give you a better idea where your units are. Once you have pin-pointed how to safely execute activations with your units, execute in a way that’ll keep you safe. Keep your ranged units behind terrain as they issue their shots. Kill your intended targets and keep your warcasters safe. A rookie mistake made by newer players is that their warcasters die all the time. If you’re playing with infantry, form a “soft wall” around your warcaster and form a body count barrier so your opponents have to chew through them to get to him. If your opponent is more shooty, hug some cover and throw on some defensive buffs and utilize line of sight. Greed, for me, is not an option. I don’t care if the Butcher is left with 1 damage box; as long as I have the advantage, I’m keeping it. Playing like you got a pair is completely different than playing stupid.
That’s all I got for today guys. If you guys want to see some big plays, come over to my gaming blog and read some of my battle reports. I started playing Warmachine in April and I’m still learning through my own mistakes. Everything that I’ve said here today is based on my personal experiences or from someone else’s. Feel free to leave me any feedback here or on my personal blog.