Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Return of the Spriggan

I got to play another couple of games against the same guy who trampled me with Legion last time. Now that he knew my army (and that I was crap), he was considerate enough to bring a couple of lists that were more evenly matched. In fact I would even go so far as to say that he brought lists that were made for me to fight (not beat, fight, as in have a fun fight against). Needless to say, I found the game more entertaining, and I think he probably enjoyed it more than he did steamrolling me with Legion (despite the frustration he must have been feeling at knowing that his army should be better).

This time I played Harkevich, who finally arrived in the mail. I've heard that he's not that great a caster, but on paper he almost looks unfair to me. His whole battlegroup gets Pathfinder just like that? And he has an upkeep spell that gives them all +2 movement? So he gets for free (with Sylys at least) pretty much what Sorscha has to pay 2 focus for PER MODEL, and it's all the time, not just when charging? Plus he can spend one focus to make everyone shake? That solves so many problems! Plus it allows them to change facing before their movement? No more not being able to get the charge because I'm looking the wrong way! He has a spell that lets a model reroll attack rolls? That's great considering the low MAT and RAT problem Khador has, and would help a lot with the Berserker! And his feat lets his battlegroup charge for free (which is a big deal for me) AND gives them an armour boost (I think it's the only armour boost in Khador) AND lets them get off a free shot, which doesn't have to be at the model they charge (so they can take out a few infantry models with AOEs at the same time as wrecking a heavy)? I don't know if he's a great warcaster or not - he mainly supports Jacks and not Infantry - but he helps with a lot of the problems I've been having to be sure!

I did make a mistake in these two games in that I thought Escort gave my Jacks +2 speed instead of +2 movement, so I was running 12" instead of 10". I don't know how big a difference it actually made, but oh well.

Game 1

I put the two heavy hitters with Harkevich to make the most out of the focus and mobility boost (Black Ivan mainly only needs one Focus around Harkevich, which he can get from the Koldun Lord's power booster, leaving me with enough to run the other two). The Destroyer does pretty well with just the Kovnik, and of course he runs the Berserker better than a Warcaster does.

- Juggernaut
- Spriggan
- Black Ivan
- Sylys
Man-O-War Kovnik
- Destroyer
- Berserker
Koldun Lord
Mechanics (max) with Man-O-War attachment.

He was running prime Stryker:
- Old Rowdy
- Defender
- Stormclad
- Squire
Journeyman Warcaster
- Defender
Thor Steinhammer
- Rockram
Arlan Strangeways

He won the roll-off and decided to go first. Neither of us had the Steamroller scenario book so we decided to just stick to the three flags thing.

He deployed his army centrally, with Thor on my right and the Journeyman on my left. I put Harkevich, Sylys, the Koldun Lord, and the mechanics behind Harkevich's battlegroup in the center, and the Kovnik just right of them.
Let's get ready to rumble!

Round 1
Striker pulled a point of focus off the Squire, cast Blur on himself, Snipe on the Stormclad, and Arcane Shield (I think?) on the Defender, then advanced. The Journeyman cast Arcane Shield on herself and advanced. Arlan used power booster on the defender and advanced. Striker's battlegroup ran forwards. He hadn't had any focus left for the other Defender, so it could only walk forwards. Thor used his drive to advance the Rockram four inches, then it ran another eight. I have to say I was rather intimidated by how well it could cover ground with Thor running it.
He spent so much casting spells that one jack got left behind.

As usual I had started with my Caster too far from a Jack that I wanted to cast a buff on, in this case Fortune and the Berserker, so I cast it on the Destroyer instead. For some stupid reason that makes no sense. Anyway, Harkevich also cast Escort and stood still. The Koldun Lord used Power Booster on the Spriggan (who missed out on allocation) and stood still. Spriggan and Black Ivan ran towards the central flag, but stayed out of charge range. The Juggernaut ran farther forwards; the idea was that if he didn't charge I would, if he did it would put him in range of retaliation. The Berserker ran his measly 8 inches. The Kovnik walked forwards and used his Drive on the Destroyer... which failed and left him unable to use the Jack Marshal advantage. The Destroyer walked up and took a shot at the Rockram, hitting but only doing something like 3 damage as he couldn't boost damage. The mechanics hid behind the Spriggan and Black Ivan.

We rolled and the flag on my right disappeared.

Round 2
He basically moved all his Jacks up a little and started shooting at mine, doing a fair bit of damage - I think the Juggernaut was left with about 15 damage boxes - but not knocking out any systems. I was actually impressed by how much damage you can potentially do with some boosted shooting, but I lucked out and didn't suffer too badly.
Harkevich bravely stands as far back as he can.

In my turn I killed Thor with the Destroyer, and charged the Rockram with the Berserker, but was just out of range. Some of the mechanics made a move for the other flag while a few tried to fix stuff, but I don't think they did very much. The Juggernaut charged Old Rowdy but was also out of range - I should have charged something closer, but I thought I could make it. Black Ivan moved up to the flag (I don't remember who he shot at but he didn't manage to kill anything). The Spriggan charged the Stormclad and wrecked it, taking out the last four boxes with his last attack. Harkevich and his entourage moved up and hid behind the mechanics.
One down...

I scored a point for controlling the flag. Then I realized that I hadn't paid the focus to charge with the Spriggan, meaning he shouldn't have been able to kill the Stormclad, so we put the it back on the table. Hey, in my defense, at least I remembered eventually.
...aaaand it's back up.

Round 3
The Defenders and the rest of his army wrecked the Juggernaut, allowing Old Rowdy to charge the Spriggan. He did some damage, even scoring a critical hit and knocking him down, but didn't manage to knock out any systems, no doubt thanks to the fact that the Stormclad's systems were all down bar the cortex. Striker disrupted Black Ivan and used his feat.
The Spriggan is knocked off his feet but still alive.

So I forgot how the Push attack worked and did a few things wrong because of that, luckily for me my opponent allowed me to take back a couple of moves and do them differently. Anyway, he had Rowdy and a Defender contesting the flag with +5 armour, so I had some work to do if I was going to keep scoring. I allocated three focus to the Spriggan and let Fortune drop. I considered moving Herkevich up to the flag, but since you can't dominate the central flag and it would have left him vulnerable, I decided try to get him and the mechanics to the left flag instead. I (retroactively) cast Jumpstart to get the Spriggan on his feet, used his feat, and moved Harkevich over to the left along with the Mechanics and the rest of his entourage. The Koldun Lord gave the Beserker a point of focus then joined them.

I slammed the Defender into Arlan Strangeways with Black Ivan thanks to the feat, it wasn't enough to kill Arlan but it did get the Defender away from the flag. The Kovnik used Drive on the Berserker, who moved up to the Rockram and landed both his initials but did no damage with them. Still, that triggered his headbutt attack, knocking the Rockram down. He then bought two more attacks, using the Jack Marshal advantage and the Koldun Lord's focus point, and finally did some damage. Unfortunately I forgot to roll to see if he blew up; in my defense I rarely give the Berserker any focus. The Spriggan activated and moved into base contact with Rowdy, using Bulldoze to push him away from the flag. He was still in 2" range of the Stormclad and Rockram (the Rockram probably would have gotten a free strike if it wasn't knocked down, lucky me), allowing him to finish them off in combat.

So now the flag was clear and all I needed was to get a model into base contact and I would score another point. I had left the Destroyer for that, but naturally he was too far away and didn't make it. Someday I'll learn to judge distances properly.
Old Rowdy wouldn't balance so we had to use an empty base, but he's still alive.

Round 4
He moved Striker up and used Earthquake to knock down my Mechanics and Harkevich. The Defenders then moved up and shot him down to his last few boxes, and the Journeyman finished him off. Thinking back, I don't remember if we took into account the armour boost from the feat, but it probably wouldn't have been enough to save him anyway.
We didn't bother with any markers, but trust me, Harkevich is knocked down.

Game 2
We shuffled our lists a bit then played a second game. I basically just swapped the Juggernaut with the Destroyer to see if Broadside was any good. He swapped Striker for Seige, and Thor and the Rockram for an Avenger and Reinholdt.

This time I won the roll-off and decided to go first. I deployed about the same as before, with my Warjacks in the center and everyone else tightly packed behind them. He deployed in a loose line opposite me.
The problem with starting first is you don't have enough room for your cards.

Round 1
Harkevich activated first and cast Escort on himself and Fortune on Black Ivan (for some reason), but didn't move anywhere. the Koldun Lord handed out his focus point and stood still. I ran Harkevich's battlegroup a full twelve inches forwards, under the vague logic that "since they only move twelve inches and his control area is twelve inches they'll still be in his control area", not realizing for some reason that only works if they all start in base contact. The Kovnik and his Jacks ran forwards as fast as they could, and the mechanics split up to chase both groups.
I wanted to get the firing squad into position early.

Seige cast Foxhole and charged Black Ivan for the extra distance, ending up in the foxhole. The rest of the army advanced as well, with Reinholdt chasing Seige into the foxhole.
Foxhole is actually pretty useful it turns out.

The flag on my left then disappeared.

Round 2
I realized now that I was too far away to allocate focus to Black Ivan or the Destroyer, so I gave some to the Spriggan instead. I moved Harkevich up and cast Broadside. I was never going to hit Seige in the foxhole (and he doesn't even take blast damage), so I shot at the Warjacks instead. I activated the battlegroup and decided not to advance, but to wait and force him to get close, so I just aimed and fired again. The Kovnik's merry band ran for the other flag, and the Mechanics ran up after the Jacks.
I decided to hold my ground and keep shooting.

He dropped the foxhole and spread some focus around. He activated the Stormclad first, moving it up to the flag and taking a shot at the Spriggan, killing a mechanic with the electroleap. He then used Reinholdt to give Seige another shot. Next he activated Seige, moved up and used his feat, then took his two power 14 shots at my Warjacks, and followed it up with the rest of his army. The feat made his shooting brutal, at one point he did 21 damage with a single attack! By the time he was done all three Jacks were knocked down, the Spriggan and Black Ivan had lost their cortexes (cortices?) - as well as some other systems - and the Destroyer had lost his left arm. He also scored a point for controlling the flag.
That hurt.

Round 3
I like to call this "The Perfect Round". I spent a few moments figuring out the order in which I had to do everything, but I had a plan. I couldn't allocate focus to the Spriggan or Black Ivan, but I gave a point to the Destroyer just in case. Another focus went to upkeep fortune. I moved the mechanics up and carefully activated them to get the most important systems online first. They came through for me for once, and I was able to get most of my Warjack systems back up.

The Koldun Lord then moved up and gave the Spriggan a focus point now that his cortex was back. Harkevich moved up behind the Mechanics and used Jump Start to get the Jacks back on their feet, and Broadside just for the hell of it. Seige was at defense 18 in the foxhole, meaning Black Ivan needed a 13 to hit. I didn't think that Black Ivan got boosted attack rolls outside of his activation despite his affinity, but after some discussion everyone else reckoned he should, so I took the shot and rolled three dice. The shot missed. Then I remembered that he had Fortune on him, so I rolled again and got exactly 13, putting some damage on him. The rest of the Jacks did nothing of course. Then I used Harkevich's feat.

Thanks to Jump Start the Jacks could use both their movement and action, and could charge without needing focus, so I was able to charge Black Ivan into Seige. First I took his free shot, and missed. Then I rolled again thanks to Fortune and rolled exactly 13 again! Ivan made it into combat and took his attack, needing an 8 to hit. He missed. So I rolled again and got exactly 8! Seige was down to something like 3 damage boxes left. Next I charged him with the Spriggan. Thanks to Powerful Charge I needed a 6 to hit, but I decided to boost the attack roll rather than try to buy another attack later. It hit, and at three dice plus one damage there wasn't even any point in rolling.

Post Game
I really enjoyed both games because my army actually felt like it had a chance (unlike some games...). This is no doubt largely due to my opponent's deliberate tailoring of an army that played well against mine, but I think the mobility that Harkevich brings really helps as well. It just feels more comfortable, liberating even, to be able to cover distance with your models.

Obviously I enjoyed the second game more than the first, but I think that's less to do with my winning and more to do with how well everything worked out in the Perfect Round. Three times the dice came up with the exact right value on the reroll, all my support models worked together to get the Jacks running (the Mechanics repairing the cortexes allowing the Koldun Lord to allocate focus), and practically all of Harkevich's spells and abilities worked together, complementing each other, to take down Seige (without the free charge from the feat and Jump Start I wouldn't have been able to get the charge, without Fortune, Broadside and the free shot from the feat I wouldn't have dealt most of the damage). I don't expect that sort of turn to be the norm, but it was certainly nice.

The Spriggan was definitely the "man" of the match. Not only did he survive a turn of being surrounded by three heavy Warjacks and go on to scrap two in the first game, he murdered Siege to win the second. He is by far my favourite Warjack now, both for what he's done in my games and for being the best looking Warjack model (both versions in fact) in all Warmachine in my opinion. I wouldn't feel comfortable playing without him at this point.

I'm definitely sticking with Harkevich for a while. I've picked up some Nyss Hunters for my next game, so I'll finally have some infantry to die horribly next to my Warjacks. I'm not sure how I should use them; while they have nice stats and abilities their armour is so low that blast damage will murder them. Oh well, we'll see what happens. I will say one thing though: the more I look at them the more I hate the models. Sigh. I need to figure out a conversion that I can live with, but I don't have time right now.

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