Saturday, October 11, 2014

Back in Black Ops

I've decided to give an older Warcaster a second chance:
-War Dog
Man-O-War Kovnik
Kell Bailoch

The general idea was to use the Juggernaut as a cheap jack bullet, and the Decimator to take shots earlier on then do work after the Juggernaut dies. I considered swapping out the Decimator but decided to stick with him for a little longer. I wanted a clam-jack to hold zones, but that was too many jacks for Strakhov to fuel, so it would have to be marshalled. I decided I wanted to bring out the MOW Kovnik, hoping to get a charge under Strakhov's feat, along with the Demolisher. The Nyss are there because they are still my only infantry unit. I had three points left, so I added the dog and a solo. I considered the mechanics, but decided Kell would probably do more good. I figured the dog would help if Strakhov had to get his hands dirty.

My opponent was running:
Makeda 1
-Basilisk Krea
-Aptimus Marketh
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Cataphract Cetrati

We rolled up Scenario 11 (in to the breach). I won the roll-off and chose the side with two forests (one of which was partly in the zone) because of Kell, the Nyss, and also because I thought it would give me a good place to set Strakhov if I wanted him in the zone.

I was hoping to take out his Gladiator early with my Juggernaut in order to deny him Pathfinder, but without any easy-to-kill infantry for triggering Overrun, it didn't seem likely. I didn't think the Nyss or Kell would be all that useful this game either, which left me without much of a plan other than to try to get the jump on his heavies. His army didn't have any shooting, so Occultation wasn't going to do much.

He set up in a big block in the center of his deployment zone.

I put the Demolisher in the center, with Strakhov and the dog behind it. The Decimator was on his right, ready to toe the zone, and the Juggernaut on his left, more-or-less facing the Bronzeback. The Nyss were on the far right where they could run through the forest into the zone. The Kovnik was next to the Juggernaut for reasons that shall soon become clear. Kell Advance Deployed into the forest on the right.

Turn 1:
He moved everything up. His Cetrati moved 10 inches in Shield Wall, then he cycled Defenders Ward onto them thanks to Marketh, leaving them at Def 14 Arm 22.

One focus to the Decimator. I ran the Demolisher and Decimator up. Strakhov cast Superiority on the Juggernaut and Sentry on the Decimator (eh, why not, his cannon was one of my only weapons against the Cetrati). The Juggernaut, bereft of focus, walked forwards six inches. Then the Kovnik slammed it forwards another three inches (hits on 3s, and a damage roll of dice minus 11, and the Juggernaut can't be knocked down thanks to Superiority), helping to make up for the lack of a run move.

I decided that Kell needed to get around the Cetrati in order to do anything useful, so I ran him off to the far right. I figured even if he sent some Cetrati after him, that would at least draw them away and split his forces a bit. The Nyss ran up to toe the zone.

Turn 2:
Marketh misses Kell with a spell, so he casts Savagery on the Cetrati with Makeda sends two off to do the job instead. The rest toe the zone, and the Agonizer hides behind them. I consider taking the Sentry shot with the Decimator, but I don't think anything is in range. His other models shuffle around.

Because he activated Marketh before casting Savagery with Makeda, the Cetrati do not have Defender's Ward on them this turn. I guess that's worth the loss of Kell. Four Nyss charge the two Cetrati on the right, the rest flank. Very little damage is dealt. The Decimator takes his shots but doesn't manage to kill any Cetrati. Since it looks like the flag is going to be ignored this game, I put the Juggernaut where he can't be charged by the Bronzeback but can potentially charge towards the flag or into the zone, and the Demolisher runs up to protect it from the Gladiator. Strakhov moves up and tosses a cinder bomb, hoping the cloud will settle somewhere useful. The Kovnik runs up.

Turn 3:
So I forgot about Savagery. The Bronzeback walks nine inches to reach the Juggernaut. Luckily this meant he couldn't be Enraged or he wouldn't be able to walk around the obstruction, so he was only at P&S 17. He used the Bronzeback's animus to push the Juggernaut up to the Demolisher, so that he could use the chain attack to throw the Juggernaut into him and still be in range to keep swinging. While the Demolisher was knocked down, Superiority kept the Juggernaut on his feet. Thanks to some low rolling however, the Juggernaut was left with all his systems!

The Cetrati moved up to where one was engaging the Demolisher but was out of his melee range. The others killed three of the engaging Nyss. The baby elephant started to cry, but was only left with one fury on him. The Paingivers took some fury off the Bronzeback. Oh, Makeda had feated this turn, and at some point I took the Sentry shot with the Decimator. I think it missed.

The Juggernaut was too close to the Agonizer to receive focus, but luckily the Decimator was clear and was given three. Superiority was upkept. We couldn't remember if the Jack Marshal advantage could be used to shake, but we didn't think so, so the Demolisher stayed down. If I wanted to do anything with it this turn, and I did, I would need to kill the Cetrati engaging him. My best bet to do that would be to kill the unit leader, who was already damaged. So Strakhov aimed, rolled two shots on Rapid Fire, boosted the attack roll for the first and then boosted the damage roll to finish off the unit leader. The second shot hit the engaging Cetrati and did some damage. He also used the feat.

Next the Kovnik used his Drive successfully, and charged the Bronzeback. Finally, a chance to get off that epic P&S 15 Weaponmaster charge! I had been looking forward to this for a long time! At Mat 8, the attack hit. I eagerly picked up the full complement of damage dice and sent them spinning across the table.
(Re-enactment of actual events)

Sigh. Oh well, I forgive him, it happens to the best of us after all. Luckily the Decimator put on a better show, finally felling the mighty beast with his last attack. The Juggernaut the walked over and killed a couple of Cetrati, freeing the Demolisher to stand up and take a couple of boosted shots. Fantastic rolls on the first took out the Agonizer, while the second did some respectable damage to the Krea.

The Nyss engaging the Cetrati did nothing. Four of the others took a CRA on Marketh but rolled poorly against his soul-fueled armour, leaving him with two or three boxes. If only I'd activated them first. The last two combined their efforts against a Cetrati, also doing nothing at all.

Turn 4:
Thanks to Makeda's feat, the dead Cetrati were restored. Combining their efforts, they... did not manage to finish off the Juggernaut! Sadly the Krea did. The Gladiator meanwhile murdered the poor defenseless Arm 17 Demolisher. The Nyss mostly died to some Cetrati and Makeda, the rest broke.

The Demolisher's wreck marker was a problem; I would need to cast Superiority just to reach the Gladiator. I allocated three focus to the Decimator, then Strakhov cast Superiority on it before moving to the relative safety of the forest. He rolled three shots, two missed needing sixes, but the other killed off a returned Cetrati. Looking at the photos now, I'm not sure that he was close enough to the edge of the forest to take those shots - for some reason I keep thinking he can see through forests. Oh well. The dog charged another and actually did some damage before returning to the forest.

I didn't think the Kovnik was in range to charge or even take an aimed shot at anything, so I moved him up to the wall and shot at the Gladiator. He missed. Sigh. The Decimator charged in but with only three attacks, was unable to finish it off. I hate having to pay to charge. The Nyss failed to rally.

Turn 5:
More poor dice saw the Decimator survive the Gladiator and even the Krea, but not the Cetrati. Who then went on to kill the dog. I conceded.

After revisiting Strakhov in this game, I feel that Harkevich is a lot more forgiving. Pathfinder and Escort makes the positioning of his battlegroup much less critical. Jump-start helps you recover from bad situations. TheArm buff means you don't have to perfectly judge threat ranges, you can just walk up and let them take their best shot. His feat gives you extra attacks in addition to the free charge. If you really need a specific solo dead, or to apply more force in a specific area, Broadsides can help. And while Fortune isn't the most powerful offensive buff, it's reasonably versatile.

In contrast Strakhov's only offensive buff is Superiority. It's a great spell, but that's just one jack, and the high casting cost further limits it's use. Occultation is nice but situational, and Sentry is hard to get much use out of (even if you have a model worth casting it on, you end up needing to stay close in order to keep re-casting it). Strakhov brings a lot of mobility to his army, but you have to be good at positioning and judging distances to really take advantage of it.

In other words Harkevich can help you recover from mistakes, which is useful if you're going to make a lot of them, while Strakhov can help you to out-maneuver your opponent... if you know what you're doing. I still don't.

It was an interesting and enjoyable game with some great moments, such as the the Juggernaut surviving a Bronzeback attack. Some thoughts:

I got very lucky with my opponent forgetting to put Fury on the Agonizer.

The Nyss didn't do very much more than serve as a distraction; in this game I'm not sure if that was really my fault though.

I kinda threw Kell away early; I really need to stop doing that.

I didn't have clear charge lanes at first, and after that it was too late to get an alpha charge off of Strakhov's feat. I don't see too many times where I could have done much with Overrun either.

Marshalled jacks are very vulnerable to Knockdown and Stationary.

I missed having a Destroyer. I really want the Decimator's shooting to be worth it, but it just isn't happening. He still hit's pretty hard, but he just gets so few attacks that perhaps it's worth investing in Torch instead - plus he can get Pathfinder. Or Behemoth.

If the Decimator had managed to kill the Gladiator I actually would have been in a good place.


  1. I think your analysis of Strakhov is solid - his spells, abilities and feats demand a very certain army build to take advantage of their fullest effects, which is not very intuitive, EG. as you say he doesn't have the resources to stack focus on multiple warjacks, and he doesn't boost the damage output of infantry very much. Its best bonus is the pathfinder and speed boost (which needs to be friendly faction, so necessitating Valachev for a mercenary unit). Pathfinder is obviously wasted on Nyss, though.

    I know I keep suggesting alternative Warcasters (which is a crying shame, as I think Strakhov is incredibly stylish), but instead I would suggest Butcher of Khardov as a good second for Harkevich who can increase all the strengths of your existing models without much outlay. Full throttle to increase Warjack outpout, Iron Flesh to introduce Khadors legendary high-defence infantry, and Fury to invoke enormous hitting power. Both of these are friendly model only, not friendly faction, so will work on the Nyss and enormously emphasize their strengths (P+S 12 Weapon Master charges then cycled Defence 18 Nyss are no joke). Butchers Feat of +1 dice damage also effects ranged attacks and magic attacks, which makes it seriously flexible, although this *is* friendly faction only, so the Nyss will need Valachev. Finally, the psychotic cherry on top is the butcher himself, Arm 18, Mat 9, Reach P+S 16 Weaponmaster gold standard of melee violence in the game. Try him, you might like him. ;-)

    1. OK, you've convinced me, next game I'll give him a try.