Another #ScenicSteamroller, this time the might Trollblood Runeshaper, Ragnor, encounters the Crucible Guard alchemist Syvestro skulking about the edges of a kriel’s territory. The runeshaper warlock has no patience for the strangers and their warjacks. They’ll have to find another way to wherever they’re headed.
This battle report deals a lot with terrain and Scenic Steamroller at the beginning. For those who want to skip all that and get to the battle, just skip down to the game.
Scenic Steamroller Terrain Placement
Regular Steamroller doesn’t have enough terrain, or does it?
Did you know our game’s most popular format, Steamroller, suggests eight pieces, ranging in nine to thirty-six square inches in size? This means a table could have between 72 to 288 square inches of terrain. A 4-foot by 4-foot table has 2304 square inches. A Steamroller game could have between 3% and 13% coverage! That doesn’t feel like a lot, especially at lower point values.
Is it really? How much terrain is right? Some games have clear recommendations, like 25% to 30% of the table. Other games have layouts baked into their rulebook, so scenarios include certain buildings and rivers, bridges, as play elements. Mel, the Terrain Tutor, in his book, Terrain Essentials, says terrain density is partially dependent on what type of game is being played. Games that need large, clear spaces need 10% to 20% density, squad games need between 25% to 35%, and skirmish games need around 40% to 50% density.
Scenic Steamroller Terrain Density
What that means to me is that the density and composition of terrain in Warmachine hasn’t been fully explored. I’m using Scenic Steamroller to figure out what really works, and what doesn’t. In Scenic Steamroller, since the terrain serves as scoring elements, more terrain is needed to delay entry to those scoring pieces, and to add choices for selection of scoring elements.
For this game, I’m using roughly a 10% density to see how it feels. That’s roughly a 15-inch by 15-inch square.
About a third of this is made of obstructions. I’m ignoring craters being restricted terrain. Someone needs to explain that ruling to me before I’ll accept it. Three walls make up obstacles. I might have too much restricted terrain here, in terms of obstacles and obstructions. It’s under a half of the terrain composition, but not by much.
Terrain spacing, ring around the rosey
The regular steamroller document recommends that terrain should be spaced out so restricted pieces aren’t too close together. Unrestricted pieces can get a little closer. For this game, I’m dropping a medium sized piece (5-inch x 5-inch) in the middle, and spacing other pieces around it using a 6-inch stick as a gap tool. This is a random-ish method, so I alternate between restricted and unrestricted as I place the elements.
There are some gaps, mainly in deployment zones. Maybe this needs to change. If I increase to 20%, it will definitely force some terrain into the deployment zones. Also, I know the big 6-inch by 8-inch building is big for warmachine, but I like it. I like the idea of 33% of the terrain composition being restricted. That ends up being roughly a 16-inch by 16-inch square of unrestricted terrain, with a 12-inch by 12-inch square of restricted terrain. I’ll demo something like this next game. For now, let’s get into the Ragnor vs Syvestro battle.
The roll-off gave me the initiative, and I wanted to go first, playing trolls and all. Dessa tagged the wall for a solo, and I grabbed a forest for a unit, planning to walk my Krielstone through it. Dessa grabbed the cloud for her jacks, and that was it. We rolled low for how many terrain pieces were scoring elements.
A low roll for terrain means limited scoring elements. The game forces my trolls to engage Dessa’s Crucible Guard as soon as possible to prevent them from winning by scenario. If we just stand around shooting at each other, she’ll win. The trolls need to contest early.
Trolls deploy close together, but ready to split around the central obstruction. Easy access to Pathfinder nullifies the negative effects of the forests. The Crucible lines up near the center of the board, with Syvestro prepared to take advantage of a wall, and one of the Vindicators ready to rush the cloud.
Trolls move quickly. Rush gets thrown about by the Axer and Madrak0, propelling Maulers up-field. The stone takes on all the fury it can, then moves extra due to Boomhowler yelling at them. Crucible Guard also runs in, taking care to avoid too many of the trolls’ threat ranges.
The trolls push out even further, with the Impaler taking a shot, and getting lucky with a slam. The Toro flew back into the psycho in the straitjacket, killing her.
The chemists advance, firing all they could at the trolls. They kill two Runeshapers and set one ablaze, but the trolls manage to survive most of the attacks, thanks to the Dhunian archons. The turn ends, CG 2 to Trolls 1.
A Mauler walks up to the Suppressor, rages, and after severely damaging the warjack, throws it an amazing eight inches into its master. Although Prospero is knocked down, he remains “living.” The Impaler hits the Toro again. Ragnor throws Pulverizer on one of the other Maulers, and then he feats. Madrak rushes the Mauler, who charges the Toro, ripping it apart. With nothing left to do, it stares down Syvestro. Amazingly, the Runeshapers manage to take out a number of Rocketmen. One rocks the ground, knocking guys over, then the others hammer them once they’re on the ground. Trolls end their turn contesting the wall, and each army gains a point.
Crucible Guard can’t do much to the trolls when they have to drop a die of damage, even if they gain an extra two to their effective POW with the Vindicators. Outside of the Vindicator shots, the guard can’t get much done, so they attempt to block for their warcaster, trying to avoid assassination. Syvestro, for his part, slinks behind his Vindicator, thinking he would be safe from the Mauler.
What Dessa failed to realize, however, was the deep threat of the Impaler, due to Rush, and the high POW of its spear, due to the Krielstone and Ragnor’s Pulverizer. Runeshapers cleared a path. The Mauler ate Gorman. Boomhowler shouted Dinner Time, Madrak placed Rush on the Impaler, and Ragnor put Pulverizer back on the Impaler. The Impaler charged, but couldn’t manage to hit Syvestro.
Syvestro feated, and turned the Vindicator to deal with the Mauler, and put Transmutaton on himself to avoid getting hit again. The Vindicator didn’t have enough output to handle the Mauler.
Runeshapers save the day. They manage to get close, and shake the ground, knocking Syvestro down. With the Krielstone, Pulverizer, Rage pumping the Impaler up to a P&S 19, it doesn’t even need to activate. Madrak Jackhammers it twice, killing Syvestro.
With so many options available, assassination was the only outcome possible for this match. I could have shifted a Mauler over to the Vindicator at the cloud, but the Rocketmen proved a weak defense for their warcaster. All in all, I really enjoy running the Maulers, throwing things eight inches away, and reducing their speed by three. I’m considering adding another Mauler, but then I’d have to take out either Runeshapers or part of the Madrak package. I like both the shapers for their knockdown ability and advanced deployment, and I also appreciate both the Axer and Impaler on the battlefield.
I do think the Ragnor list is superior to the Borka 1 list I played earlier. In a tournament, this might very well be one leg of the pairing.