Warmachine: Unbound- Further Lessons
If you remember my first Unbound article, I discussed some of the ideas Bigred and I took from the game regarding the format and room for expansion. In the last month I’ve played a second big game, this time against AdamHarry’s Khador. Here are further lessons from the table.
This was another round of Khador versus Legion. 150 points, using the basic Unbound scenario. AdamHarry took Bigred’s spot commanding the red army….err Khadoran forces. We’ll likely do a batrep of the game in the Lounge if there’s interest, but for now, I’ll stick to more of our findings from the game.
Building upon my first experience with Unbound, we took a few steps to speed up the process. One good one was using painters tape to mark out the control zones. This made them easy to spot, and removed any chance of small marker tokens getting moved around during the game. Yes, it also made ranges a little easier to estimate, but I honestly don’t remember ever doing that and I don’t think Adam did either. I’ll also go so far to say that if you’re the type who would try to use that to your advantage, maybe Unbound isn’t the right game format for you.
Another step I took was to take a few minutes pre-game of how I might deploy and move my army in the first two turns. There can be so many models running around that it’s tough to deploy everything if you don’t have some sort of plan. My plan was to determine where I wanted each of my battlegroups, the important models I’d need to support my battlegroups (ex: Leaving room for my Nyss Sorceress on Hellion near my flying beasts), and then fill in the infantry based upon which Warlock I wanted them to work with and how flexible they were in terms of battlefield role. It also meant that when it came time for me to activate a battlegroup, I was ‘quicker on the draw’ than I otherwise might have been, simply because I already had a basic idea of where I wanted my units to be, what spells I wanted cast on each unit, and what I wanted my beasts and units to be killing. Obviously, plans will change during the game, but having that rough outline was quite helpful. Lastly, I was also much more careful this time about arranging my stat cards to roughly correspond to the side of the table the model was on. This made finding them much, much easier when it came time to track damage and look up stats and effects. If you look at some of the pic’s, you’ll see that AdamHarry’s cards were much more jumbled, and it often took him a minute or so to find the one he needed.
This was my second game of Unbound and Adam’s first, and I could tell the difference that one game of experience made. I was already much more used to the activation sequence and how that sequence impacts your tactical choices. For instance, I was much more mentally prepared on how to utilize solos and small disruption units to maximum effect. Adam caught on quickly, though! There was one point where Epic Thagrosh and his battlegroup had finished activating, and then had to suffer through two rounds of Harkevich’s three Destroyers plus Black Ivan shooting at them before I was able to activate again. That many POW 14’s hurts! I was able to use a small 5 point unit of Bog Trog Ambushers to come in and tie up about 14 points on Adams left flank. They came in right behind those Iron Fang Pikemen and Greylords you see in the bottom left corner of the preceding photo. Not only that, but they contested that control zone, helping me gain the initiative in the next game round. Next time he plays, I’m betting Adam will have some Kossite Woodsmen and use them to similar effect.
After the game we chatted about our thoughts. Yet again, what made the most impact on us was the scale of the game. There is simply so much on the table to keep track of. It’s a bit of a mental challenge to keep everything straight in your head. We came to rely on simpler, more straightforward combo’s simply because those are the only ones we could remember! We both came back to the idea that Unbound works very well as a multi-player game, simply because each person only needs to really keep track of their own little 50pt or 75pt chunk of the battle, instead of the whole 150+ point army. One thing we’re considering is applying the alternating activation sequence to even 2v2 team games. We’ve tried it once so far with pretty good results. We’ll let you know how further testing goes.
When and how you Feat is important, but in a different way than a standard 1-caster game. In a single-caster match, you often expect a Feat to turn the tide of the game, if not win it for you outright. With 3 (or more!) casters per side, it’s very unlikely that the Feat’s will have such a dramatic battlefield impact. At most, you may solidify your hold over a portion of the battlefield, but there will still be a lot more opposing units to come after you. At worst, you may take out a significant chunk of the opposing army, only to realize you’ve left your own caster ripe for a counter-assassination, putting you right back even. I felt like I was able to use my Feats to better effect than Adam.
The standard Unbound scenario is very much an attrition-style of game. It took nearly everything on my left flank for Epic Thagrosh to assassinate Harkevich. I went in with three heavy Warbeasts, a full unit of Legionnaires, two lesser Warbeasts, and several support solos. I came out with only Epic Thagrosh and a beat up Carnivean, but I did control that flank. The ability to focus attacks and effort from multiple battlegroups onto a few targets makes the battlefield much deadlier than a normal 50 point game. The lesson: things will die. Get over it. Adam was very surprised at how easily I was able to kill his Winterguard deathstar. It wasn’t as easy as it looked, but in a game that big, each side should have the tools to deal with most anything. Getting those tools to the right place at the right time is the tough part… In our game, Two Ravagore’s and Bethayne casting Eruption of Spines made the difference.
The most recent issue of No Quarter magazine was released just a week or two after our game. Lo and behold, PP gifted us with 10 new Unbound scenarios to try. I haven’t gotten to those yet, but several of them look quite entertaining. As the No Quarter article suggests, I would select the scenario before you make your army lists. Someone who shows up with a ranged-heavy Cygnar army won’t be amused when you roll the “Battle in the Wilderness” scenario and start loading up the table with tree’s.
That’s all for now. My appetite for Unbound hasn’t been sated. I’d really like to finish painting up my Warspears, Grotesques, and second Warchief and field a fully painted “blighted” army. We’ll see!