Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Fundamentals - Part 2 Power Attacks

We simply just forget how many tools are available to us while playing Warmachine/Hordes. When new players try to get into the game I try and insist they stick with the battle box for at least a few games for many reasons but one of the main ones is to find  shenanigans with basic models. Power attacks give players a very large tool box, especially if they have an open fist. Lets start with breaking down each power attack, then discuss when they are viable to use and round it off with fun tricks.

Power Attacks - I would definitely recommend players read this section of the rulebook as my exact wording isn't the official ruling. To simply give a brief description power attacks are a special attack that sacrifices all of your initial attacks, requires a focus or fury to activate and grants the attack a special rule. Also hordes models need to be forced which requires the warlock or some sort of control extension to use. All power attacks have 1/2" melee range. There currently aren't any models in the game that offer the exception. The Krueger1 reach extension spell and the animus coming from the Swamp Horror will allow you to extend your power attack ranges.

Summary - If you know power attacks already skip this section.

Throw - This is a very basic attack. You roll to hit followed by a strength test. Once you hit the model is tossed in a direction of your choosing, though it requires to come from your front arc the distance of half your strength. Once you land the model takes a hit equal to the model that has thrown's strength. The model that lands also scatters a d3 inches upon impact of its location.

Two-handed Throw - This is the same as above with two huge exceptions. The first strength test the attack gains 2d6 vs the opponents 1d6. Second you can aim the throw at a specific model. This throw attack now has to hit the target thrown at or it'll scatter a d3 inches. One common confusion point about this is the throw attack goes off the Warnoun's MAT not his RAT.

Slam - This is a combination of movement and attack. It's very similar to a charge attack. If you slam a model larger then you it is at a minus 2 to hit. Also you must charge to the middle of the enemy model. Center point to center point, making slam angles much harder to achieve then charge angles. Once hit the enemy model is knocked back a d6 inches. Any smaller base models it comes into contact with are knocked down. If it ends on top of them they are moved out of the way. You will stop prematurely if you are knocked into a same or large based model. All models contact in this way take a damage hit equal to the models strength. The model targeted by the slam is the only 1 who can be boosted against. Also if the slammed model hits a same or large sized model an additional damage dice is added to the roll.

Headbutt - This is a very simple power attack. You roll too hit if you do the enemy model is knocked down and suffers a damage roll equal to the models strength.

Trample - This attack is also a very simple and powerful attack. Your must be a large based model to do trample attacks. You can only trample over small based models. Remember artillery pieces and the book of Menoth are considered small based models. You pick a location and declare how far your going to trample. You measure to see if you can reach there and if any models are in your way. All models you travel over you get to take an attack vs. Any models hit suffer a damage roll equal to the models strength.

Weapon locks - I never use these. Though they can be used well. You roll to hit the model with an open fist. If it hits the system is locked and every turn afterward the enemy model can do a strength test to break the lock.

Push -This attack automatically hits. The enemy model is pushed one inch backwards and you can follow up one inch.

When to use power attacks.

Most power attacks have a triggering event for me. I'm going to give a few examples of when I commonly used power attacks. To hopefully inspire the use of more in your games. I'm sure there are plenty of great ways that I haven't used power attacks yet. Please respond with some of your own favorites!
  • My warbeast/warjack is jammed by tons of infantry. - Whenever this happens you should consider doing a trample. It is commonly the best way to clear lots of infantry and trample gives you the best way to generate a lot of attacks on large groups.
  • Objective is jammed with lots of infantry. - This is also another situation where trampling can be very beneficial
  • Enemy Warcaster/Warlock is sitting behind only small based models. - This typically screams for a trample assassination run. I love it when I can trample over some models buy a boosted attack and smash enemy warcaster/warlock. This is mostly typical with 5 fury beasts since you can trample, buy an attack, boost to hit, buy an attack and boost to hit spending all 5 fury. Otherwise you'll only get one attack which usually won't win you the game.
  • A big model is sitting in front of their warnoun. - This is screaming for a slam. You knock the large model into the enemy warcaster/warlock causing both to fall over. The key here is the model has to be larger then the warcaster/warlock, otherwise they just get knocked down. Sometimes this is enough for an assassination run, especially with shooting factions like Cygnar. This can open up a lot of potential assassinations. This amplifies in greatness if the model who slams has follow up. You can effectively move up onto the knocked down warcaster/warlock and buy attacks that auto hit.
  • Your warjack is crippled - Whenever I find a warjack having his cortex intact but all his weapon systems damaged I am a lot more prone to buy slams and headbutt power attacks. These attacks don't need your weapons.
  • Enemy warcaster/warlock is in charge range but has really high defense - I often find the best solution is to use a slam/two-handed throw/throw to knockdown the model before you commit to an assassination run. If the knockdown attempt fails, might be best to not sacrifice the models. Remember you only need to throw a same sized model at the warcaster/warlock to knock it over. Don't be afraid to use your own models.
  • Enemy Warnoun is near a forest/pool of water - I really enjoy knocking non pathfinder models into forests/water. You can do this with throws or slams. If you get a good travel distance you can knock a model out of the game for a turn. This is generally only something I would do with models that get bonus slam distance. A couple examples would be Titan Gladiators and Shadowhorn Satyrs.
Tricks - Every faction has great tricks to take advantage of power attacks. You should re look at your animuses and warcaster/warlock spells again in relation to power attacks. See if you can come up with some tricks on your own! Here are a few of the one's I like to use.

Shadowhorn Satyr Throw yo-yo - This is a trick I've fallen in love with. I wasn't sure if this would be a valid strategy until I committed to trying it for a few games. Both games it surprised my opponents and got me a heavy for no trading. This list requires a Shadowhorn Satyr and Kaya1. You maneuver with your Shadowhorn next to an enemy heavy, which is fairly easy with jump and 6 base movement. Cast virility and buy a 2handed throw. Throw the enemy heavy toward your army, hopefully into a waiting net of shifting stones and heavies. Your heavies proceed to tear them apart and get teleported back with shifting stones. Denying your opponent any retaliation. The final key move is Kaya teleporting the Shadowhorn next to her.

Gnarlhorn goes infantry bowling - This trick requires a Gnarlhorn and Warpborn skinwalker. You position your medium based infantry model in front of the enemies small based infantry. Then slam the rear of the Warpborn skinwalker through the enemy infantry. I also use this for assassination runs on enemy warcaster/warlocks. With follow up you just buy attacks on the knocked down model.

Denying fury - One of the biggest weaknesses that aren't exploited is the game currently is fury. If you can pull, drag, throw and slam enemy models away from the warlock it can be better then killing it. If the enemy can't pull fury from the beast it causes two impacts on the game. One the enemy has to cut himself to get full fury and second the beast will frenzy. Obviously the best positioning would be to have him frenzy on an enemy model. Short of that make sure you sacrifice something to the warbeast that would cause him to face away from your army so he can't charge the following turn. *Note - Nicole, my wife, has taken special use of this one vs. me in our last journeyman league. It is brutal especially when the warbeast being tossed around is slow.


Power attacks are can be game changers. A lot of the knockdown options have grown weaker in Mark II since you can shake the effects off, but the ability to auto hit in melee or significantly lower a models defense can drastically reduce the longevity of the model. Models that wouldn't normally hit high defense models can become very scary after a good headbutt. It also can create hysterical endings where choir charge the knocked down warlock to finish him off. Have fun trying to find your own ways to use power attacks!

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