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One of the things that first got me into Warmachine back in the day was the section about power attacks. The mental imagery of a warjack head butting its opponent and then just ruthlessly hammering away on the immobilized victim sold me hard on the game. My first faction being Cygnar though, I ended up mostly applying generator blade to face in the more traditional way with the occasional slam mixed in. When I took the plunge and started playing Minions the power attacks got new life breathed into them mostly because of the Wrastler’s animus Rise. As I got more and more games under my belt (and after rereading the rules section about double-handed throws more times than can be considered healthy) I started to notice some sneaky stuff that wasn’t really obvious at first glance and which I will share.
This isn’t intended just for the Minions though. If you’ve got open fists, it’s time to add some tricks to your arsenal! What I won’t go through are tricks that uses throws to extend the threat range of your own models. First of all they’re pretty straight forward (see Rise, eIrusk’s feat, Darius’ Crane and so on) and secondly they are very specific to models or factions. I want to keep it more general and prefer to share my love equally between everyone who has two open fists.
But all my guys are holding swords and guns. What about a standard throw?
There is a single mechanic that makes the double-handed throw outshine its older but inferior brother: the possibility to aim at a target. This gives a level of control that you can’t achieve with a single open fist and opens up for several more tricks. The standard throw is not entirely useless, but it does become much more situational and clunky to get it to work as intended when compared to the double-handed throw. If you know how to use the latter you can start looking for ways to use the former, but we use double-handed throws as our starting point and these are what I refer to later on when I simply mention throws. Don’t be sad though, swords and guns are useful in the Iron Kingdoms too!
Yeah, they inflict damage. Why use a double-handed throw instead of just killing stuff?
Let’s face it, throws are expensive and pretty situational. A power attack makes you give up all your initial attacks (denying any chain attack in the process) and costs a focus/fury in addition. That’s without any boosting. There are, however, several benefits to a good toss:
- Getting automatic hits and collateral damage on untargetable or hard to hit targets.
- Knocking down and debuffing high DEF targets for future attacks.
- Gaining access to pseudo ranged attacks on otherwise pure melee models.
- Gimping a model’s next activation by knocking it down.
- Repositioning of models.
These points are usually connected and meld together. For example, a Wind Rushed Sorscha in concealment with a War Dog close by is DEF 20 against both ranged and melee. A well executed throw allows you to get an automatic hit on her frail body with the added effect of knocking her down and making later attacks so more much likely to connect. There are certainly many more things you can accomplish (otherwise this would be a very short and not at all helpful article) and I’ll go through some applications in the next section while we have a closer look at the rules for a throw.
I won’t bore you with repeating the basic stuff you can read for yourself in the rulebook. Instead, I’ll highlight some of the specific parts and how you can use them to your advantage. There are many steps to go through before that Bronzeback goes soaring through the air and I’d rather use your attention span for stuff that’ll help win you games. If you’re totally unfamiliar with throws but are ready to be down with power attacks, skim them over quickly. In order to keep the length of the article down I’ll also assume stuff like everything is range, attacks against my own guys hit and so on.
To help visualize some of the concepts, I’ve recruited some assistants:
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Well, their abstract Vassal counterparts at least.
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The 44 Percent
The first part will be about getting the knock down and collateral on those key models. Let’s start with the vanilla version and try to knock Sorscha over. She’s chilling in the forest with her pooch after a hard day of Wind Rushing, looking a little curiously at the ambusher that just ran up within 7″ of her. In her meta, knock down only happens through feats and slams.
The Wrastler comes up behind him and we go through all the steps up to and including the point where we’ve won the strength check. We’re hoping for the required 14 we need to roll to rain on her DEF parade and give an opening for our Croak horde to do their thing. If we get it everything is peachy, but that’s not very likely at only 16%.
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Let’s say we miss. What happens now is that the point of impact will deviate d3″ from the center of the target’s base. Due to the dimensions of small bases a distance of one inch (a roll of one or two) will still contact, a one-in-three chance of getting the knock down and some juicy collateral damage, no matter the difference in MAT versus DEF.
That’s pretty neat in and of itself but there’s more! Let’s see what the rule book has to say in the ‘Being thrown’ section:
A thrown model moves over models with smaller bases during this movement without contacting them. Unlike when a model is slammed, rough terrain and obstacles do not affect this movement, but the thrown model still stops if it contacts an obstruction or a model with an equal or larger-sized base.
In the future I’ll refer to this as the “flying rule”. We’ll also need a little bit from the “Collateral Damage” section:
If a thrown model contacts a model with an equal or smaller-sized base, that model is knocked down and suffers damage.
What this means is that even if we deviate more than one inch you’re still guaranteed to get the contact on a roll of 1 on the direction. This boosts the probability from a little over 33% to a little over 44%, pretty close to a coin flip*.
* There are some specific (and very situational) cases where you will have an even better chance to deviate on your target. Since the model doesn’t really scatter in the traditional AOE sense but is instead moved from its original position to the deviation point, you still have a chance to tag the target with a sliver of your base if you roll for example a distance of 2″ in any forward direction while standing close enough to your target. I almost broke out my old trig books to find exactly where the breaking point was but then I got the urge to play some more Dark Souls. This exercise is left to the student.
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This is your first tool. Just by having a model with an equal sized base as your target within range you have a good chance of getting the knocked down plus collateral. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited! Be ready to face a little whining if it connects and you suddenly pull off your desperate assassination run. Your standard reply should be something in the vein of “Dude, my big ass subdued elephant just threw his stunted smaller brother into your boss and then another one wearing a cannon and a smile finished the job. Now that is page 5! :).”
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But we’ve got better chances than a measly coin flip. Lets crank that forty-four percent up to one hundred! That’s for next time though where things only get better. We’ll go through the bread and butter throwing applications as well as some off-center tactics. Hope to see you then