Saturday, May 3, 2014

Undead Cheese

I just played my first game against Cryx. I was running a small modification of my previous list:
- Black Ivan
- Torch
- Demolisher
- Sylyss
Mechanics (min)
- Officer
Koldun Lord
Thor Steinhammer
- Blaster
- Blaster
Nyss Hunters (max)

I don't remember my opponent's exact list, but it was something like:
- Harrower
- Cankerworm
- one of those little TMNT mouser droid things, not sure which one
Bane Thralls (max)
- UA
Banelord Tartarus
Satyxis Raiders (max), and some sort of attachment or supporting solo
A fat mechanic thing, I think it makes bomb zombies or something
Scarlock thrall (I think)

I forgot to take pictures so I can't remember exactly what happened, but I'll give at least a summary. First of all, my list: I was meaning to try this list last week but forgot to bring the right bits. I had a theory that Harkevich would run Torch better than Strakhov; between fortune and Broadside the flamer could be very effective. Throw the feat into the mix and Torch could potentially get three shots with the template with rerolls on them all in a single turn, that could help a lot with my infantry problem. I needed an extra point in order to afford Torch, so I decided to drop the Spriggan (sob) and give the Demolisher another go. I've been reading a bit about him so I think I have a better idea of how to use him now, with potentially up to four 4" AOEs in a single turn he should give me some good anti-infantry firepower... well, more than I had before anyway. Yes, I have less armour cracking ability than before, but between Torch and the Nyss it will probably do.

Let's talk about the Bane Thralls. I was expecting my opponent to bring Cryx, so I decided to read the Cryx section of the main rulebook again as a bit of preparation. Last time I learned what a pain Stealth could be, and at this point I'm pretty much terrified of Weaponmasters. So guess what Bane Thralls do? That's right, it's a unit of Stealthed Weaponmasters. So you can't shoot them, then when they reach you, they put out a lot of damage. But wait, there's more! They also debuff your armour just by being close to you (Dark Shroud I think it's called), so not only do they deal more damage, all the rest of your opponent's army does too. Oh, and his unit are also tough and have a mini-feat thing that lets them stand back up once for free. Lovely. A few of his other models also have Stealth, including Cankerworm. Which also has an armour-piercing attack, so that's another one I need to watch out for.

Now that's OK, I know there's going to be ways to deal with them. Problem is I'm not sure if my list has any. Well, my best bet is probably the Nyss; they're faster and have ranged attacks, so with care I can get them withing 5 inches and whittle him down a bit with shooting, or get the charge, and they have high defense, so they won't be completely wiped out up close. Plus, my list now has a lot of templates (which have a chance of doing damage) and sprays (which ignore stealth), so that's something, even if they are close-range weapons.

The scenario is one with two rectangular zones. I win the roll-off and opt to go second. He deploys everything centrally, with his Bane Thralls on my right and the Satyxis behind them. I deploy my Demolisher, Nyss, and Torch opposite his infantry, Ivan on the other side with the Koldun Lord, and the Mechanics spread out behind the Jacks.

Round 1
He moves forwards and spreads out his Bane Thralls in the zone on my right so it's almost impossible to get more than one with an AOE. Harkevich puts up Escort and Fortune on Torch. I run my guys up, except Black Ivan who takes a shot at a Bane Thrall. It misses automatically and the deviation isn't helpful.

Round 2
He moves up further. The Harrower takes a shot at Harkevich and kills off Sylyss, who was in base contact (I need to keep that guy farther back). Tartarus runs up to my Nyss and forces them to take a leadership check. Boxcars. Great. I'm still not clear on how failing leadership checks works, so I opt to not move the Nyss in my turn. They successfully rally though. At this point I'm worried about the Harrower, which if I understand correctly can shoot me through anything (filthy Cryx). So I decide to charge it with Black Ivan, even though I'm not sure it's in range. So I move my other two jacks up to take shots at the Bane Thralls, then I feat with Harkevich, then cast Broadside for some more shots at the Thralls. Ivan then declares a charge at the Harrower, taking his free shot at the Cankerworm. Which I forgot had Stealth, so he misses and does nothing. The problem is I didn't give Black Ivan enough focus as I wanted to maintain the upkeeps but had lost Sylyss, and I wanted Broadside as the Bane Thralls were still my primary concern. As a result Black Ivan did some damage (I think he took down the Harrower's gun), but not enough to wreck it. One Blaster moved up to where it could fire at the Thralls, taking a few points of damage off the Officer (had I known he was the officer before rolling for damage I would have boosted the roll, but I hadn't realised it from across the table), the other (which had the benefit of Thor's Tune-Up) tried to move up to a position where it could catch both Asphyxius and another model with it's spray, but I didn't realize Aspyxious had Reach and ended up putting it too close so it couldn't shoot. Sigh.

Round 3
Guess what? Bane Lord Tartarus has Reach, Weaponmaster, and Thresher. Oh, and he can curse a unit to drop their defense (in the same activation that he attacks it seems), so my Nyss' high defense didn't save them from losing half their number -including Cylena - to a single swing. But wait, there's more! I didn't just lose five Nyss, he also gained five more Bane Thralls that could activate in the same turn. Ugh, filthy Cryx. So the Bane Thralls are almost back up to full strength now (actually they might have been above full strength at this point). Luckily a few were knocked down and I was able to kill the guy who lets them stand back up, so they didn't all get to swing at me. Anyway, he did plenty of damage to Torch and the Demolisher but luckily they survived in working order thanks to Harkevich's feat (I think I had not opened the Demolisher at this point, just taking the shots from Broadside then closing him back up in his activation). He tried to cast a spell at Black Ivan but missed as he was engaged; I took the opportunity to use Dodge and move into base-to-base contact with Asphyxious. This was a mistake on my part; I was hoping for the chance to get a free strike on him, or possibly even to survive the turn so I could actually attack him. Unfortunately I moved before he had activated Asphyxious, the Harrower, or Cankerworm, so he devoted all three to try to kill Black Ivan, which he managed to do (the fact that he was able to use multiple armour debuffs didn't hurt his chances). Had I waited until later, I might have been able to move away after one or more of them had activated, and ideally during the Harrower's activation to rob it of some attacks, which might have been enough to survive and put him in a bad position, but oh well. Oh, and the Nyss failed their leadership roll for losing half their unit. Sigh.

I finally ask what's giving the Bane Thralls Tough. Turns out it's the Standard Bearer. So I hatch a plan to get rid of him; I wasn't sure this was legal but we discussed it and decided it was OK, and I've looked it up online since then and the consensus seems to be that it's fine. After Harkevich casts Broadside to help Torch clear some Thralls, Torch tramples up towards the Standard Bearer. He kills a couple of Thralls along the way and avoids any free strikes as any Thralls in range were knocked down from making Tough rolls. After trampling you can buy additional melee attacks, but Torch has Virtuoso, meaning he can make ranged and melee attacks in the same activation. I figured he couldn't make an initial ranged attack since you can make either initial attacks or a power move, but that didn't mean he couldn't buy additional ranged attacks. So he bought an attack and sprayed the Standard Bearer, finally ridding me of those annoying Tough rolls. The Demolisher tried to kill Tartarus and failed. The Nyss stood still then rallied again.

Round 4
Tartarus kills two more Nyss and a mechanic, generating three more Bane Thralls. The Thralls activate and kill off my Jacks. At this point I'm down to just Harkevich and a few machanics, so when his turn ends he scores a bunch of victory points and wins the game.

Post-game thoughts
So basically by the end of the game he had killed off almost my entire army and was only down most (but not all) of a unit of Bane Thralls? I know I'm not a very good player, but that was ridiculous. Of course between his good Tough rolls and respawning the damned things, I pretty much had to kill each one about three or four times.

The Nyss did NOTHING. I had a couple of unlucky rolls with them, and that was all it took. If I had known what Tartarus could do (and if I'd thought about it properly), I would have moved most of them away but left just one engaged with him, so he either killed just the one or took a free strike in order to try to reach more. Had the Nyss not frozen in fear, thing would have been very different as they were pretty much my best bet for dealing with the Thralls.

Thor and the Blasters didn't do very much. I know that they can be useful, but they aren't working for me so far; Thor tends to die early on and the Blasters keep getting engaged, at which point they suck.I really with they had Gunfighter.

Torch was pretty good in the game; Fortune really helped his spray, and getting two of them proved to be pretty much the most effective thing I had against the Bane Thralls, especially since even if they survived their tough rolls, they would still be on fire giving me one last chance to kill them.

The stat my Jacks have that's rather nice is their armour, but what good does that do when Cryx can drop my armour just by standing next to me, then can layer on two or three armour debuff on top of that?

Overall that was quite a painful match; I must say I'm not feeling an abundance of affection for the Cryx right now. Stealthed Tough regenerating Weaponmaster infantry who debuff you just by standing next to you? Yeah, nice going there PP.

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