Company of Iron: 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps

Lately, it seems like more and more miniatures companies are moving into the skirmish game market, that is, games that require a lot fewer models than army-scale battles. With not everyone having the time and disposable income for army-scale gaming, reducing the barrier to entry in tabletop wargaming by having fewer models makes sense. Privateer Press is no exception, having released Company of Iron several weeks ago.

CoI is basically Warmachine/Hordes scaled down to the skirmish level. With no warcasters or large based models, the game focuses on solos and units, the grunts of the Iron Kingdoms who make up the majority of the armies, even if the warcasters and warlocks get all the glory. The game uses alternating activations rather than the I Go, You Go system in Warmachine and some of the rules have been tweaked in accordance with the smaller scale and alternating activations, but people who have played Warmachine will be able to pick it up in no time.

Anyways, I haven’t played it enough yet to write a detailed review, however I did manage to get a company painted up.  So, without further ado, I will introduce the 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps…

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28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps

 

Commander:  Kovnik Aleksandra Volkov – Man-O-War Kovnik
Upgrade:  Ironhead Scrapper

Other Models:
Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova – Greylord Forge Seer
Sgt. Ilena Filippova & Pvts. Antonovich, Kotov, Petrova, and Yegorov – MoW Bombardiers

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Inside the dark interrogation chamber, Aleksandra Volkov clutched her side in pain. Her injuries were still raw, and though she had gotten a few bandages to stop the bleeding, she had been quickly arrested and whisked away by armed winter guards and thrown into the brig.

“Ms. Volkov, I grow weary of your protestations,” said the kommissar responsible for interrogations. “Perhaps if you cooperate, we may show some mercy…”

“Do your worst,” replied Aleksandra, still clutching her likely cracked rib.

The impatient kommissar raised his hand to strike, but before he could, he felt a powerful grip on his arm. “You are dismissed,” said the grizzled old voice, one that made Aleksandra look up in shock. She could see little more than the silhouette, but the heavy armour, bushy beard, and powerful voice could only belong to one man: Kommander Izak Harkevich, the Iron Wolf.

As soon as Harkevich released his grip, the kommissar scampered away, knowing his place.

“Ms. Volkov, I must admit, I’m surprised to find you here so soon after your repairs to Black Ivan,” mused Harkevich. Coming closer, the Iron Wolf leaned over and offered Alex a canteen of water, one the parched woman quickly accepted. “Now, why don’t you tell me what happened out there…”

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Kovnik Alexandra Volkov, after trading her wrench for an axe

Aleksandra “Alex” Volkov grew up around warjacks and other heavy machinery.  Her father was a member of the Khadoran mechanics assembly, and Alex would often sneak into his shop after school.  From a very young age, he had her gradually progress from an assistant handing her tools to an apprentice mechanic in her own right.  Following her father into the mechanics assembly, she found herself attracted to the maintenance and repair of warjacks.  Eager to prove herself in the male-dominated world of the mechaniks assembly, she donned a steamsuit and volunteered for the heaviest and most difficult work available – that of a heavy wrecker.

 

Soon, she was assigned to Llael, the frontlines of the battles to defend Khadoran territorial integrity and protect the new Llaelese provinces.  She was sent to a maintenance and repair facility near the fron, working with other mechaniks to keep the mighty steel machines of the empire running.  It was here that she first felt a connection to the mighty warjacks that she would marshal around the repair yard.

Llael was rough.  Though she was not often in the front lines, she had seen komrades come back from the battlefield, wounded and dying. However, in spite of the grisly backdrop, she also found love during the occupation.  It was Oksana Fyodorova, a sniper with dozens of kills to her name. For months, they grew closer, becoming each other’s one point of light in the grim darkness of war.

One day, she had the opportunity to repair a unique black destroyer, equipped with a claw, some additional spikes, and a few other accoutrements, which had taken hits from Cygnaran gunfire.  As she made her repairs to its boiler and stacks, she felt a special connection to the unique warjack, and after a few days work, she had it up and walking around the yard again before it was returned to service. Through her repair of Black Ivan, her abilities soon came to the attention of Kommander Harkevich, the supreme commander of all Khadoran forces in the region.

However, a few weeks later, tragedy struck.  In a tactical retreat, Oksana was left behind and reported missing in action and presumed dead or captured in the face of an overwhelming Protectorate assault force.  In response, Aleksandra suited up and headed towards the front lines to find her, stealing some weapons from the armoury on the way out.

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Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova provides arcane support

 

In the dead of night, Aleksandra frantically charged through the Llaelese countryside, looking for any sign of her lost lover. Oksana had been reported missing in action when her position was overrun. Alex knew that as a Widowmaker, one who dealt death from afar to the enemies of the empire, that if Oksana was taken alive, she would have had the worst punishments the Menites could deliver inflicted upon her.

But as she rounded a small outcropping, she heard a bloodcurdling scream of pain. It was what she had feared the most; there, up ahead, was a wrack with a female figure chained to it. As she got closer, her fears were confirmed; Oksana had been captured and wracked. Panicked, Aleksandra dashed towards her, desperate to get her down.

“Oksana!” she called out, the figure attempting to look down at the source of the shouting. “It’s going to be okay, I’m here…”

All Oksana could respond with was a scream of pain and a rattling of her chains.

“I’ll get you down, I’ll…”

“Halt!” On the crest of the hill stood a Protectorate commander, along with a couple cavalry and a dozen infantry. “Lay down your arms.”

Aleksandra looked up at Oksana, writhing in pain. Knowing there was no way to get her down, she offered her lover one last gift. Pulling out a blunderbuss, she took careful aim, closed her eyes, and pulled the trigger, releasing Oksana from her pain. As she dropped the weapon, Aleksandra looked back around at the charging Protectorate warriors. With fire in her eyes, she picked up her axe, promising herself she wouldn’t let them take her alive…

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Eventually, she did find her lover, chained to a wrack. She tried to save her, but with a Protectorate ambush force closing in, she did the only thing she could to ease the pain, and ended Oksana’s life with a well-placed shot from a hand cannon. In the ensuing brawl, she tore through wave after wave of Protectorate troops, until she finally collapsed near the Khadoran front lines and was dragged back to camp.

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Sgt. Ilena Filippova.  Yes, that’s a grenade launcher with a chainsaw for a bayonet. Any questions?

For several minutes, Harkevich listened to Alexandra’s tale. Everything she said was corroborated by the few scouts and sentries who had seen parts of her rampage; the fanciful speculations of the kommissar notwithstanding.

 

“You have been charged with a number of military offenses,” stated Harkevich matter-of-factly. “Stealing military equipment, insubordination, unauthorized interactions with the enemy…” he paused for a moment. “Normally, you would be court martialled for these offenses and sentenced to hard labour, but one of my Lieutenants had witnessed you tearing through an entire unit of Protectorate troops single-handedly and nominated you for a medal. So…”

Harkevich slowly stood up from the chair across from Alex. He knew that revenge was a good motivator, and anyone who was crazy enough to take on an entire company of enemy troops single-handedly, and a skilled enough combatant to live to tell the tale, would be a good soldier. “…it’s either a court martial, or a new assignment as an officer in the Armoured Korps. Your choice.”

Alex looked up at the Kommander, surprised at the offer. “Sir, I’d like to become a Man-O-War…”

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Given the option of court martial for insubordination (among other things) or being impressed into service in a Man-O-War suit, she chose the latter. Under the watchful eye of Kommander Harkevich, she came to command the 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps, a unit consisting of herself, Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova providing arcane support, and five Man-O-Wars equipped with Bombardier grenade launchers:  Sgt. Ilena Filippova, and Pvts. Anonovich, Kotov, Petrova, and Yegorov.

No Quarter Prime #1 — A quick review

Last week, I picked up the much-awaited first issue of No Quarter Prime, Privateer Press‘ reboot of their long-running No Quarter magazine. For about $10 CAD, you get 112 pages of ad-free content and artwork, as well as a free bonus miniature.

Packed full of content, the table of contents shows long sections on Company of Iron, Trenchers, an IKRPG module, and the story of first battles in the liberation of East Khador (or, as the despicable swans and ungrateful eastern bandits call it, the “occupation” of Llael)

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All right, but apart from public order, infrastructure, protection from the Menites, jobs in the warjack repair depots, and removal of the corrupt nobles, what have the Khadorans ever given us?

The section on the opening stages of war is a great read.  Privateer Press has decided, since Warmachine has massively increased in popularity and experienced a lot of churn since it was first launched, to retell the story of how the Iron Kingdoms got to be in the situation they are in Mk.III.  I think this is a great idea; it gives newer players an accessible way to get caught up on the fluff behind the game.

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Much of the story is written from the perspective of the Khadoran warcasters who led the invasion, and as a Khador player, I think they did a good job of offering a balanced portrayal of the motherland, rather than falling on tropes of Cygnar as the good guys and Khador as the evil Russkies.  And the fact that they had a teamup of my two favourite characters in the Iron Kingdoms (Harkevich and Sorscha) was a particular highlight for me.

Another long section is on Company of Iron, which is their new skirmish-level version of Warmachine.  It comes with a couple pages of fluff about Agata & Lt. Gwen Keller, some inspiration for alternate colour schemes, three scenarios, and a writeup on strategies to use with the models in the Company of Iron box.  With CoI releasing in three weeks, I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but the scenarios do look like the sort of interesting, narratively-based scenarios that I think Warmachine could use more of, rather than “stand in this big circle to get points to win.”

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Here.  Now there is no excuse to play unpainted.

There is a brief section on the Tower Judgement, a massive Protectorate fortification, temple, and torture chamber, which features prominently in a custom four-player scenario that includes custom terrain features and guides on how to make them.  A long section on an IKRPG module I mostly skipped over, just because when it comes to RPGs, I’m not a huge fan of the ’90s style D&D 3.5e inspired tomes with tons of tables to roll on and hyper-detailed rules governing things as simple as climbing up a rope.  Give me the freeform nature of the Savage Worlds system any day…

But back to the magazine, there are guides on how to paint warjacks and warbeasts from every faction using simple five-step processes, which means that while it may not be a top quality paint job, new players can easily get something that kind of resembles the box art.

A large portion of the issue is devoted to trenchers, both a review of the CID process and a long section on Trencher lore, equipment, etc.  The lore section is packed with detail about these tough bastards, and as a fan of steampunk guns, the artwork included there really jumps out at me.  Details on alternate colour schemes are also included, as well as three scenarios.  My only criticism here is that they included a couple pages with pictures of all the new cards, which was nice, but I think it would have been better if they had the new cards all on a couple pages at the back and formatted in such a way that you could cut them out, sleeve them, and use them in play.

Overall, NQP has some great content.  Aside from the tiny issue with the cards, the only other thing I would have liked to have seen is perhaps a little hobby content on how to make some trenchworks or other terrain pieces relating to the trencher theme.  But with all the content crammed into only 112 pages, I can see why it might not have fit.  I think my favourite part, aside from all the Khador parts, was the alternate colour scheme ideas.

IMG_2089.JPGAnd did I mention the free miniature? You get Eilish Garrity, who comes on a resin sprue with the base. There is some flash and mold lines to clean up, but apart from that, there is plenty of nice, crisp detail that is going to be good for painting. Eilish is a mercenary who will work for any faction, and he provides upkeep removal, which given how much Denny1 is stomping the meta right now, means that you will see him hit the table just to get rid of Crippling Grasp. Puppet Master is also great, and I can definitely see him getting a lot of play in Khador because for five points, he gives us two things which are not easily available in-faction, and inability to remove enemy upkeeps from our models (aside from beating it off with Ruin’s mace) is one of our weaknesses in a Denny1 world.  I suspect that people could buy NQP just to get the miniature, tosss out the magazine, and still not be disappointed.

In conclusion, NQP #1 is a must-buy for anyone interested in Privateer Press products. With a boatload of content and a free miniature, how could you go wrong?