[WM/H] Death In The Thornwood: Now We Play The End Game

Going into the third turn, I could see I had the opportunity to do something a bit sexy this turn, possibly even repeating my evil deeds of the previous one.  The Reaper got three focus, the surviving Helldiver surfaced and received three more, and thanks to Arcane Extension, the Slayer took the last.

Mortenebra moved up behind the Reaper, which aimed at the Castigator and used Interface to spend Mortenebra’s focus point on boosting the damage from its harpoon.  Not much, but enough – another Menite ‘jack was tugged across the table, and the Reaper made a series of Sustained Attacks that took a goodly chunk of its damage grid apart.  The surviving Mechanithralls, who were now in the rear arc of the Castigator, took advantage of the back strike bonus to deliver some punishing combo strikes and finish the brute off.

On the other flank, the Bile Thralls Purged over most of the Cleansers (three dead) and the Repenter, and the Slayer charged, killed two Cleansers, and triggered Overrun, allowing the intact Helldiver to move into position for a charge on Severius.  All I had to do was clear the Vassal Mechanic out of the way and I could bag the focusless Grand Scrutator easily…

The Bloat Thrall aimed at the assorted Menites between Severius and my army, failing to kill either the Vassal or Vilmon – curses!  At least it put some damage on Severius in the process.  My last Scrap Thrall charged the Vassal and did one lousy point of damage – ultracurses!  My last Necrotech moved up, attempted to turn the former Blessing of Vengeance into more Scrap Thralls to clear out the attack route to Vilmon with, and failed, along with my ability to curse his failure.  Every damn time I try and do something good with Necrotechs, this happens.  One last go – the other Helldiver moved out of melee with the Templar and died to the heavy’s free strike.

Sulking, the Helldiver slammed the Vassal Mechanic at Severius – Severius was largely unbothered, but at least the Vassal carked it.  My Big Plan had failed, and furthermore, since my Reaper had dragged the Castigator out rather than, say, have Spectral Steel cast on it by Mortenebra and charge the Castigator itself, I’d left myself with only a few assorted Thralls in the Mosh Pit.

Neal had to kill five models to win it.  He upkept Eye of Menoth again, allocated one focus point to the Templar and two to the Repenter, and the Choir used Battle Hymn on both ‘jacks.  The Templar charged my last Necrotech and squished him – unfortunately, you can’t Beat Back a dead model, and so the Templar’s charge to glory stalled there.  The Exemplar Seneschal charged my Helldiver, neatly trashing it in two attacks, and the Repenter closed in to scorch both the Reaper and Mortenebra (dealing twelve damage points to the helljack and a mighty FOURTEEN to its controller).  Finally, Vilmon charged the last Mechanithrall and killed it, clearing the Mosh Pit and securing a win for the Menites.

So much death… so many wrecks… NO SCRAP THRALLS.

Severius would not, of course, permit himself a smile.  Such personal joy would doubtless offend Menoth – holy work was its own reward, and scourging this dark place of darker things was undoubtedly that.  Nonetheless, his heart had lifted at the sight of the Templar and his faithful Seneschal tearing that abomination asunder, and he knew not how his peers could have gainsaid the warjack for so long.  Truly Menoth smiled on the righteous union of man and machine!  See how his favour had graced the Cryxians’ vile commander with scourging flame – and having seen the creature rear up, its myriad limbs enveloped with cleansing fire, and fall back into the trees, Severius could not doubt that Menoth was pleased indeed this day.

Mortenebra sank back into the swamp, and if her dead mind had been capable of it, she might have felt relief.  The Menites held the forest road, and her forces were devastated; her own person had been seriously damaged, and while her soul’s extracted status prevented permanent destruction, losing a perfectly good body would have been something of a nuisance.  Losing the Deathjack would be nearly as bad; still, some mortal would construct another soon enough.  The construct rivalled Mortenebra herself for persistence, which was more than could be said for the broken Avatar of Menoth.  At least she had wrought enough destruction on the Menites to stay them from penetrating deeper into the Thornwood, and discover what lay beneath the marshes.  Fighting a full-blown siege at this early stage of the plan would be catastrophic.

Her iron skin hissed as it cooled, and her lips twitched in the semblance of a smile.  There would be another day.

So, my somewhat experimental list had provided us with a tense, fun game, had utterly trashed three Menite warjacks and badly worried at the support troops, even managing to put a little hurt on Severius himself.

Some cold dice – I’d never managed to deal more than one point of damage at a time to that stupid Vassal or to Vilmon – and some errors of positioning (not charging the Reaper forward into the Mosh Pit and making Neal kill something semi-tough for his win, and also arguably leaving the Slayer so far out on its own) had cost me the win, but I was pretty pleased with myself for not faffing up my game by doing too many things in the wrong order.  There were some hairy moments – thinking I could drag models which have a base to either side of them in any direction but straight forwards, nearly killing all the Cleansers before the Slayer activated – but nothing as stupid as forgetting that Terminal Velocity exists, which is the level I usually operate on with Mortenebra.

I reckon it’s basically a decent list.  I might be prevailed upon to trade out the Slayer, which didn’t really do much, for a Stalker, which could run around doing what the Slayer did (operate on the extreme flanks as an Overrun trigger) without needing Deryliss to follow it around (since it has an extended control range anyway).  That would leave me two points to sneak in either a Necrosurgeon and Stitch Thralls, to help out with the central chaffing, or a Warwitch Siren, to hand out extra focus and help with the crowd control.  It might even be sensible to swap out a Bloat Thrall for a second Siren and try the Tier Two rules, given that one of my Bloats didn’t really accomplish all that much (although, to be fair, having two of their big templates to lob around meant I could be more cavalier about missing with one of them).  A few changes to the cheap stuff, and some more aggressive play (dragging is fun, but placing yourself to win games is arguably more fun), and I think I’m set for good things.

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

You may now commence belching

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