The attentive among you will already know how this battle ends... in fire, in ash, in tears of rage and futility wept by a man full grown.
Well, maybe without the tears. But you get the idea.
The battle starts with the vile elven forces of the Retribution of Scyrah lined up against the mighty, though battered, forces of Cygnar. The Retribution forces, led by Kassem, were as follows:
Full unit of Mage Hunter Strike Force with UA
Full unit of Invictors with UA
Kassem set up Hyperion right in the middle of his deployment zone with Ravyn and the arcanist behind it and the Invictors to either side. He then waited for my setup before deploying his thrice-cursed MHSF.
I had recently finished painting Kara Sloan, and was eager to test her mettle against the Retribution's metal, and so chose her to lead my forces. My list was as follows:
Reinholdt, Goblin Speculator
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages with UA,
Charger marsheled to ATGM Officer,
Stormblade Infantry with 1 WA
Sure, the Hyperion was a little scary, but I figured that I could use the power of the Defender and Kara to whittle it down from a distance, and with any luck a charge by the Stormblades to put on some serious hurt. I was cautiously optimistic about how the battle might go.
I set Kara on a hill in my deployment zone with the Avenger to her left and the Defender to her right. The ATGMs went to the far left flank with their Charger and Arlan right behind to grant that precious, precious free Focus, and the Stormblade Infantry took up positions on the right flank.
And, of course, the MHSF set up behind a forest on the right flank, as far as humanly possible from my ATGMs and right across from my suddenly very useless-looking Stormblades. Ten POW10 attacks against seven Stormblade ARM15 would very likely result in 7 very dead Stormblades without a scratch on his MHSF. History has taught me this much, at least.
Ah well! No plan ever survives exposure to the enemy, and so I figured I would make up stuff on the fly! Onwards!
Kassem took his first turn, camping all 6 focus on Ravyn. The MHSF ran into the forest, but the majority of them still behind 3" of forest (since they don't need LoS anyway). The Invictors moved up in their neat little 3-unit squads. Rayvn cast Snipe on them and moved closer to the MHSF, and the Hyperion ponderously moved slightly towards the left flank.
My turn. Kara assigned 1 focus to the Defender and camped the rest. The Defender ran forward behind a fence, waiting to bring it's big guns to bear on the Hyperion (or anything else that wandered too close). The Avenger sauntered up lazily and lobbed a shot towards the MHSF, well out of range, which then scattered even further out of range (landing only 5" from the Avenger itself. Just embarrassing). Arlan assigned the Charger a focus and moved up, the ATGMs took up positions in front of and on top of the hill, and the Charger fired a Snipe shot at the closest Invictors, managing to ping one into non-existance by spending the focus for boosted hit and damage. The second shot (from Marshaling) failed to connect, falling short of target. The ATGMs fired snipe shots, also landing a few inches short. The Stormblade Infantry ran up towards the MHSF, hoping to distract them from firing on my Defender... another lesson I've learned is that no matter how thick you think your warjack's armour may be, the MHSF doesn't really care and will wreck it anyway.
Lastly, Kara cast the "Fire and Move" spell on herself, and "Fire back when hit" spells on both the Avenger and Defender. Because why not?
With that done, I passed the tapemeasure to Kassem and prepared to weather the first round of Retribution attacks. How bad could it possibly be?
You'd think I'd learn by now to stop thinking that. You'd think.
Anyway, Kassem activated, keeping all the Focus for Rayvn again. First the Invictors used their mini-Feat, giving them another 4" range. They happily paired up their CRAs and vapourized 4 of my 7 ATGMs. The rest passed their command checks. Ravyn then cycled the Snipe spell on the MHSF and continued to move towards them. The MHSF proceeded to hit my Defender twice but only scratched it (2 points of Damage thanks to particularly bad damage rolls), and the rest took out 6 of my 7 Stormblades. The leader passed his command check... which I suppose is something. The Hyperion moved up and fired it's big gun towards my surviving ATGMs but it scattered harmlessly away.
And then it was my turn.
Wow. One turn of shooting at extreme range and approximately 1/3rd of my army was now listed as casualities. Not an auspicious start, since I was STILL out of range with just about everything. Plus, those MHSF have a 16" shot with a 6" move (with pathfinder) and Ravyn still hadn't popped her Feat... that meant that Kara could not get any closer than about 22" from those bastards. Even with her 2" boosted range spell and the "Fire and Move" 6" follow up, that would put her JUST at the extreme edge of death-by-Firing-Elf. Too risky. Of course, the alternative was to head closer to the Hyperion (even if slightly), but its weapons were a more reasonable 10" and 12" range, so I figured I could handle that a bit better.
The Avenger took 2 Focus, the Defender took 1 (just in case), Kara syphoned one off the Squire, and I started considering my options. I could move up the Avenger and Defender, move Kara up closer, use Reinholdt to give her a 2nd shot, and then pop her Feat to direct all that fire on the MHSF... Kara would kill 3 herself, the Avenger could probably splatter at least 3 or 4 with it's AoE attacks, and the Defender could worry about hitting the Hyperion a few times, hopefully... oh, but wait. The MHSF has Stealth, and Kara only ignores stealth if she doesn't move. So much for that plan.
So, instead, I activated Reinholdt and gave Kara a 2nd shot, and then moved Kara towards the ATGM Officer (on a hill for that small +2DEF bonus) and fired at the Invictors, who were, of course, about an inch out of range. Waste of Reinholdt's bonus shot, but whatever. Kara cast the 2" bonus range spell and camped her remaining focus. The Squire rushed over to stay within 5" of his caster.
The Avenger moved up (ponderously... love the model so far, but LORDLY is it slow...) and managed to have the shell scatter into 3 MHSF. With 2 focus on the Avenger, I spent them to ensure that the 3 MHSF soldiers were thoroughly and satisfyingly pasted. The Defender moved up, but I could tell already that nothing was within range (aside from Stealth MHSF that were also more than 3" within the forest and therefore completely ineligible as targets). Goody.
The two remaining grunt ATGMs moved towards the Invictors... one fired a Thunderbolt round which, as I'm sure you guessed, was 0.5" out of range, and the other fired a Snipe shot that pinged off the thick Defensive Line armour of the unit. Great.
The Charger took his free Focus from Arlan (who activated, gave the focus, then stayed put), and then moved up. There was a narrow window of opportunity... Ravyn was in the open and within the Sniped range of the Charger! He spent his focus for boosted hit and damage rolls and managed to connect! Sadly, Ravyn was camping 3 Focus and the resulting damage roll was... disappointing. 4 points. Still, a bloody nose on his caster and a mark of pride for the Charger! He spent his Marshalling bonus on a 2nd shot that, predictably, missed.
The lone remaining Stormblade ran towards the MHSF, again hoping to tie a few up in their efforts to kill him, rather than attacking the Defender.
And then it was back to Kassem. Just to recap: His turn resulted in light damage to a warjack and 10 slaughtered Cygnarians. My turn resulted in a paper cut on Ravyn and 3 dead elves.
This... did not bode well.
Kassem assigned 3 focus to the Hyperion. Rayvn let Snipe expire, popped her Feat, cast Snipe on the Hyperion, and took cover.
The Invictors moved up and killed the 2 remaining ATGM grunts with concentrated fire. They also inflicted a few light wounds on my Charger. The MHSF thought about charging my Defender, but after I pointed out that Phantom Seeker doesn't allow you to ignore LoS for anything aside from Ranged attacks (and I let him mulligan the Charge Order), they instead focused on killing the remaining Stormblade Infantry.
To his credit, it took all 7 (SEVEN) of his remaining MHSF to kill the guy... Kassem needed a 4 to hit and missed 3 times, and 3 times he hit managed to ping off his armour. The last attack however ended his hopeless and suicidal charge.
For those of you keeping score at home: My Stormblade Infantry have been wiped out to a man 3 times, damaged down to 1 or 2 survivors twice, and have inflicted a grand total of 3 kills (all single-wound infantry). I think I need to spend some time figuring out what, exactly, I'm doing wrong with those poor guys. Anyway.
The Hyperion went next, moving up and firing it's Starburst Cannon at Kara. Thankfully, she was JUST out of range, but the shot scattered right behind her, hitting Kara for 10 (boosted) Damage and killing the ATGM Officer. The shot failed to wound the Squire or Arlan, thank heavens. It was all moot, however, as the Thresher Cannon got 2 attacks which were easily within range, and the first blasted Kara into nothing.
Game, set, match: Elves.
Well... that was... painful. My heavy-gun force was completely and utterly out-gunned. Out ranged, out powered, and outnumbered, with all my forces in exactly the wrong places... the Stormblade would have at least annoyed the Invictors, unlike being scythed like wheat before the MHSF, and the ATGMs would have been able to at least hit and hurt the MHSF! As for my 'jacks... the Defender didn't get to earn his strips, being out of range the whole game, and while the Avenger at least killed something (unlike most of my army), I feel that it wasn't a useful investment. Maybe a Centurion, with it's heavier ARM, would have been a better model to throw against the MHSF? But even then, they have CRAs and I doubt that ARM22 would hold up long against that... gah.
Anyway, a learning experience, for sure. Not sure what I should've done differently... but that's why I posted it here! Comment/flame/mock away, peers!