LOTS - Power Attack Tactics

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This article is part of Warmachine University's Learn Objectives, Tactics, & Strategy (LOTS) series, which is "Advanced Training" aimed at players who understand the rules, and now want to improve their gameplay.
(See also Basic Training and Intermediate Training.)
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As of 2020.12 the LOTS articles are a WIP. If you have a question that isn't answered, or a topic you'd like to see added, we'd like to hear about it. Post your thoughts on the Talk:Learning to Play the Game (LPG) page.


Power Attacks are normally restricted to just warjacks and warbeasts, but occasionally other models get a special rule that lets them do it (for example the Ogrun Bokur can do a Power Attack Slam).

Power Attacks can be very useful if done in the correct circumstance, but come with enough disadvantages that you want to make sure it is the right circumstance. Essentially they're a way of doing something unusual, rather than a way of doing moar damage. The disadvantages are:

  • You have to spend a focus/fury to do the Power Attack.
  • You can't do them on the same turn you charge.
  • You lose all your initial attacks.
  • You don't get to add the POW of your weapons.
  • Put it all together, and you might be looking at something like "instead of making two POW=17 initial melee attacks for free, you get to spend a focus to make one POW=12 power attack".

There is an article set up for each type of Power Attack, where I've tried to do a quick recap of how the rules work (if you need to look it up in the middle of a game) plus a more detailed explanation of how to do each step.

This article, on the other hand, is more about when you want to use them.

Head-Butt

Even without a real head, the Woldwyrd is ready to Head-Butt you.

A head-butt knocks the target down.

The situations where head-butt can be useful are more limited than some of the other power attacks. Examples are:

  • Your target has an ability that lets it move after it is hit (like Enliven), or if it missed (like Dodge). You want to knock it down to lock it in place.
  • Your target has high DEF and you want to make it easier for your army to hit.
This has the conundrum that the head-butter has to be able to hit high DEF, so you want to be in the back arc or buff the head-butter's accuracy etc.
  • The target is engaging something critical, and you don't want to eat a free strike. You could try killing it, but if it's too tough then knocking it down at least clears you to move.
  • You want to shoot the target and have it in melee range (have your cake and eat it too). For instance, you want to apply the Dark Shroud debuff.
If it is standing and in melee, it has its base DEF + 4 DEF vs shooting. If it is knocked down it has DEF = 5.

Power Strike

Power Strikes can only be performed by colossals and gargantuans. It's like a slam, but you don't need to a run up.

Most of the situations given for head butts are applicable here, with the added advantage of slamming the target back as well as knocking it down. On the other hand, given the raw damage output of a colossal/gargantuan, sometimes it's easier to just kill the target.

Here's a few more scenarios where a power strike is handy:

  • You Strike model A into model B, making model B get knocked down.
    Note that, since Power Strikes cause a 2" + d6" slam movement, you're guaranteed to knock model B down if it is within 3" of model A.
  • Your damage output is limited this turn, you're not confident on your ability to outright kill the target, and you'd rather just punt it out of the way for now. Maybe because one of your melee weapons is crippled, or you don't have much focus/fury to buy attacks to kill the target this turn.
  • You need to get the target out of a scenario zone, and you aren't sure you can kill it in one round.
    As above, if you only need to move it 3" to get it clear of the zone, then you're guaranteed to clear the zone.

Slam

The Gnarlhorn Satyr is great at slamming with Grand Slam, Follow Up, Hard Head, and lastly Counterslam.

A Slam is when your model rushes directly towards the enemy, shoves them backwards, and knocks them down.

Because you need to move directly towards the enemy model, the usefulness of this Power Attack is somewhat dependent on how your opponent positioned their models. That aside, slamming is one of the most useful power attacks. Some examples of how to best use it:

  • Much of what was said above for a Power Strike still holds true (knocking models down, clearing zones, etc). However while Colossals/Gargantuans are so powerful they'd often rather make attacks than make a Power Strike, this is not true of Lights and Heavies - so Slams are more useful than Power Strikes.
  • If you have a cheap and/or weak warjack/warbeast, sometimes making a Slam attack is more useful than making normal attacks. Especially if your warjack/warbeast has had its main weapon crippled, or you can't target the enemy with ranged attacks, or etc.
  • If your opponent has hidden their warcaster/warlock behind some troops, then simply slam the frontline of troops into him. (Doesn't work if the warcaster/warlock is on a larger base than the screeners, though)
  • If your opponent has left a model standing in front of a wall, or larger model, simply slam it into the wall and you'll get a damage roll equal to your STR +2d6 +1d6 (from the wall) +1d6 (if you boost).

Other tips:

  • Don't rely on getting any collateral damage on secondary targets, unless you can slam the model into a large, tight-packed group of enemies.
  • However, you should definitely slam the enemy if they're standing in front of a convenient wall/building/larger-based model, so you get bonus damage vs the main target.

Sweep

The Kraken cannot use the extra range of its infamous "noodle arms" for Power Attacks.

Sweeps can only be performed by colossals and gargantuans. You get to make one melee attack vs every model in one arc (left or right Field of Fire).

When to use this is simple: If you have 4+ models in one arc, especially if you don't need to boost. If you have 3 enemies you're better off to make your two initial attacks for free then spend the focus to buy one more attack. It's better because you can then trigger any and all special rules on the weapon.

Throw

Throwing is a moderately useful power attack. Good times to use it are:

  • Throws are very useful for setting models up for the kill, as the thrown model is knocked down and become easy targets for a turn.
    • In case of a non-aimed throw you can calculate the distance based on your STR, which is a nice tool for helping assassinations.
  • Aimed Throws are great for knocking down other models and setting them up for a kill. Use model "A" to throw "B" at "C", then proceed to kill "C".
  • They're a great way of getting yourself out of melee combat with something that you can't hurt.
  • They're a decent way of clearing a scenario zone.
  • There are a couple of abilities and spells (Fortify, Magnetic Field, etc.) which counters pushes and slams - but there are much fewer that restricts throws.

Drawbacks:

  • Throw requires a strength check that you cannot boost or modify in any way. That's an extra step where your power attack may fail altogether.
    • Knocked-down or stationary models can still resist your throws.
  • A Slam is better if you want to deal raw damage, as it has a better chance of hitting multiple models (whereas a thrown model will go sailing over their heads).
    • But slam moves are very constrained (you have to move directly at the target)
    • Also throws can be aimed (and slams can't) which is a plus in their favour.

Other tips:

  • Don't rely on getting any collateral damage unless you throw the model into a large, tight-packed group of enemies.
  • However, you should definitely throw the enemy at any nearby obstructions you can find (if you have the chance).
  • If both you and the other model are standing directly next to a large wall, throwing them into it is officially mean.

Trample

Placeholder

Power Attack (Edit)
Head-Butt
Power Strike Category: Colossals & Category:Gargantuans only
Slam Category: Slam
Sweep Category: Colossals & Category:Gargantuans only
Throw Category: Throw
Trample Category: Trample