Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Since when does "fun" require so much brain power?

Soooooo many mistakes were made...

Game 1:

- Black Ivan
- Kodiak
- Juggernaut
- Valachev
Mechanics (min)
- UA

- Bronzeback
- Sentry
- Gladiator
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Paingiver task master
Swamp Gobber bellows crew

Seeing as I had just completed my new Black Ivan and Kodiak arms, I decided to take them for a spin. The Juggernaut was cheap muscle. I had four points left afterwards, so I decided to take the mechanics just to put some bodies on the table. If I recall his list was a tier list that give his gators extra speed on the first turn.

We rolled Scenario 12: Fire Support. He won the roll-off and chose to go first, so I chose the side of the table with the hill (for Black Ivan, for some reason).

He deployed centrally. I deployed the Nyss on the left, Ivan in the middle, and the rest on the right.

Round 1:
He ran stuff up.

I gave the Kodiak a point of focus for running, completely forgetting it runs for free. Superiority went on the Kodiak, Sentry on Ivan (I wanted to put as many shots into the Gators as possible since they persistently murder my Nyss). Strakhov then walked up and threw a cinder bomb (I was hoping it would land next to the forest to create a large "lee" where things could hide).

The Kodiak ran up to what I hoped was a safe position behind the forest while the Juggernaut lumbered forwards. The Mechanics ran up, stupidly getting in the Juggernaut's potential charge paths. Ivan walked up and took a shot which was out of range and scattered harmlessly. The Nyss walked up and put a number of CRA shots into the leading Gator, managing with their combined efforts to put him down. Valachev then Zephyred them away. I stupidly bunched them up since my opponent didn't have any shooting elements in his army.

Round 2:
The Gators reshuffled, allowing Black Ivan to take his sentry shot on them, but he missed. The Sentry was Rushed and ran to engage the Kodiak. Rasheth lumbered towards the flag and arced Breath of Corruption through a Gator and killed five tightly clustered Nyss in one go. He would have scored, but he made a mistake and left one Gator too far from the flag.

I gave the Juggernaut three focus. The remaining Nyss moved up the side of the board, taking out another Gator. Ivan killed another, so now I didn't have to worry about the Gators scoring, which bought me some time.

Strakhov moved up into the killbox and Feated, cast Overrun on the Juggernaut, and threw a cinder bomb towards the Gladiator in the off chance that the smoke did something useful. The Kodiak then charged sideways at the Sentry. He didn't do much damage with his initials, but they both landed, triggering the chain attack. I was considering locking his shield, but he had Set-Defense (which he forgot about on the Kodiak's charge attack, but I don't think it would have made any difference since I vaguely remember the roll was quite high) and I didn't want to miss with the Juggernaut's charge attack (well, I didn't want to miss with any of his attacks, but especially not the charge), so I decided he had to be knocked down. Thus I used a double-handed throw to toss him back towards the Juggernaut.

I needed the Sentry dead, both because it's a damned Skorne Warbeast and because I wanted to trigger Overrun. At ARM 21, it was far from a sure thing, so I charged it with some mechanics to try to chip away at it before charging with the Juggernaut. The Officer actually did do a few points of damage.

I did something stupid here: I froze the Sentry with the Juggernaut's ice axe. Since it was knocked down I wasn't rolling to hit, so my first dice were damage dice, and when I saw doubles I confused them for hit dice and declared that it was now Stationary as well. Never mind, it was dead by the end of the activation anyway.

I then used the overrun move to pull the Kodiak back to safety, which neatly netted me a heavy without leaving me exposed for retaliation.
Sprint and Overrun moves can make end-of-turn photos quite confusing.

Round 3:
The remaining Gators moved over the left and killed some Mechanics, while the Taskmaster stayed behind in order to control the flag. The Gobbers moved up and dropped a cloud to protect him. The Agonizer started crying and ran forwards, and some Paingivers positioned themselves to help protect him. The Titans and Warlock cautiously advanced. He scored a point.

I upkept Superiority and gave Ivan a couple of focus points as the other Jacks were too close to the Agonizer. Ivan then took a fully boosted shot at the Agonizer but rolled poorly and left it with three boxes, so Strakhov had to finish the job with his gun, using Overrun to get out of Gator range afterwards. The remaining Mechanics charged the Beast Handlers and did nothing.

The Nyss moved up to put a couple of CRAs into the Taskmaster, but one missed and the other only did 4 damage (we may have forgotten about the hunter rule and given him extra DEF?), then Zephyred in to contest the flag. I got careless here and only moved one close enough to contest though.

I made a(nother) huge mistake here and moved the Kodiak behind my objective, as I didn't want him getting charged by the Gladiator. The Juggernaut closed ranks to protect Strakhov.

Round 4:
His Gators finished off my mechanics, and the Gladiator took out the objective. The Taskmaster tried to kill the contesting Nyss, but missed, forcing him to move a Paingiver over and arc Breath of Corruption into the back of the Taskmaster, killing him and the Nyss. The rest of the Paingivers moved in to control my flag, and the Gobbers shuffled up to his. The Bronzeback moved a little closer to my jacks.

He scored three points, bringing his total up to four. He almost could have won the whole game this round, but it turned out that Rasheth was just out of run range of the flag, and he ended up needing to cast anyway when the Taskmaster failed to kill the Nyss, but it was a close thing.

I hadn't considered before that he could score up to four points in one round, and now I was in a really bad spot. I had to stop him from scoring any more points! I charged the last of the Nyss at his Gobbers and ran a couple to engage and block Rasheth, with Valachev attacking the objective from where he would still contest the flag but be fairly hard to kill. Black Ivan also ran up to contest, even though that put him well out of focus allocation range. In retrospect I moved him too close to the flag, which didn't turn out to be a factor but it could have.

The other jacks advanced into melee with the Gladiator. The Kodiak, still enjoying the benefits of Superiority, needed a 4 to hit with first attack. He rolled a 3. This was a big problem because I wanted it knocked down to ensure that the Juggernaut could kill it. His other attacks did very little. Luckily the Juggernaut rolled a double on his first attack and froze it, allowing him to finish it off. Strakhov moved in to a defended position behind the jacks, and did... nothing useful.

Round 5:
The Bronzeback moved over so he was in base contact with the flag and also in melee range of Ivan (I probably shouldn't have moved him to that exact spot) and used his chain-attack to throw Black Ivan away from the flag. The Gators killed the Nyss in front of Rasheth, who was able to weather a free strike and walk up to clear the flag of the Remaining Nyss and Valachev with offensive spells, allowing him to score the last point he needed to win.

...I forgot to take a photo. Sorry.

It was a fun game and I finally got to have some fun with Overrun. This was my first game with Valachev, who I added in the hopes of taking advantage of Strakhov's feat with the Nyss (which obviously didn't happen). He was interesting, turning the Nyss into a much more effective harrying force, but I'm still not happy with their delicate nature and low damage output, especially now that they cost a full 12 points. I mean, the whole unit together only just managed to take out a single heavy infantry model in each round.

I wasn't very happy with how little damage the Kodiak did to enemy Warbeasts, but the combo of his throw to set up the Sentry and Overrun to pull him back out of danger was a fun and effective move, and also probably the first time I managed to do something useful with Overrun. As much as I feel the need for jacks with Pathfinder, I'm not sure that he's worth it; three jacks and only one heavy hitter isn't a good ratio against Skorne. Also I was running him up as my "sacrificial" jack, to lure Warbeasts into range of the Juggernaut, but the problem with that is that he costs more than the Juggernaut - it doesn't really make sense for the more expensive jack to be the "disposable" one. I'm definitely going to have to pick up a Grolar when they come out.

At one point I was positioning my Mechanics to be sure that the Bronzeback wouldn't be able to charge the Juggernaut (I'm having a hard time judging threat ranges), but in retrospect that might just have meant that he could use Beatback to "walk" through them and reach my jacks! One more mistake to add to the list I suppose.

I didn't put enough thought into the scenario, and used the objective to shield the Kodiak when I really, really should have done the exact opposite - in this scenario the objective contests the flag, so saving it would have denied him three points. The problem is that I tried to work it out (very, very roughly) once and figured that I had a slightly better than average chance of one-rounding a Skorne Warbeast with a fully loaded Superiority-ed Juggernaut. "Slightly better than average" is not good enough, not when they can't be permanently crippled and can get so many attacks. Seriously, against a Warjack I'll take my chances, but a Warbeast with 3 initials and 5 fury? Stupid Hordes.

Game 2

MOW Kovnik

Makeda I
-Molik Karn
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Tyrant Commander & Standard Bearer
Aptimus Marketh

I'm just going to start off by saying that my brain pretty much wasn't working at this point - not enough sleep - so I played a terrible game. I didn't think the Kodiak was doing enough, and I figured I was better off with a Destroyer on the Kovnik than Ivan in the battlegroup. Plus, it's been too long since I've run the Spriggan.

We rolled up Scenario 2: Supply and Demand. I won the roll-off and decided to go first for a change.

I didn't think the Nyss were going to do much against the shield-wall, so I positioned them off to the far right, to try to run behind his forces. The rest went in the center.

He... wait for it... deployed centrally.

Round 1:
Superiority on the Spriggan, Sentry on the Destroyer. Everyone but the Spriggan (and of course Strakhov) ran forwards.

The Cetrati walked forwards 12 inches in Shield Wall (... the hell?), and the rest of his army followed.

Round 2:
I repositioned to try to use the wall defensively and continued running the Nyss forwards. I made damn sure he didn't have any AOEs this time. I think I put something like 5 damage on a Karn with a boosted Bombard (even after being forced to re-roll the attack roll).

He Shield Wall-ed the Cetrati forwards again, but not far enough to lock me out of the zone. I interrupted his movement with Sentry to try to put some damage on one before it could get into ARM 22 shield-wall, but missed (RAT 4 against DEF 14, no surprise). The Agnonizer ran up behind them and started crying. The Gladiator headed towards the objective. Then Molik Karn walked up to the Nyss, killed a couple (missed the third and decided not to re-roll) and sprinted back to safety. Oh, and he used his feat. He also scored a point since my Juggernaut was not actually touching the zone, but I had careless left it a few millimeters out (never even occurred to me, I was really playing like a zombie).

Round 3:
So I was right in his face with no focus, and any infantry I killed would just magically spring back to life thanks to the Feat. I did have one chance though; if I could kill all the Paingivers in this round with the Nyss, he wouldn't be able to bring them back. So I advanced the Nyss, using Zephyr to make range, and took something like four CRAs and a regular shot. All my shooting missed. Seriously, I don't think I rolled higher than a four. Cylena killed the nearest Paingiver with a melee attack, for what that was worth (which is exactly nothing).

After the last game I had it in my mind that letting him destroy the objective would be a Bad ThingTM, so I decided to send my Juggernaut at his Gladiator, not really stopping to think I would basically be sending it to it's death (zombieeeee). So I moved up Strakhov and Feated to give the Juggernaut the range. Overrun went on the Spriggan for... some reason? I tried to soften up a critical Cetrati -the one that stood between the Spriggan and the Agonizer- with Strakhov's shooting and a Rift, but missed. I think I put a couple of points of damage on the Agonizer with the drifting Rift though.

The Juggernaut took a surprisingly large amount of damage from free strikes, then slapped the Gladiator for a few boxes. The Kovnik used his drive... and rolled 11. Sigh. He tried to shoot at the offending Cetrati and missed. The Destroyer charged the Cetrati and missed.

It turned out I wouldn't be able to bulldoze a hole for the Spriggan to reach the Agonizer because of how the Cetrati were arrayed in a crescent, so I considered trying to kill the intervening Cetrati with the Spriggan's shield then hit the Agonizer with the lance, but I knew that wasn't going to happen (would have needed an 8 followed by 16 on three dice) and I wanted to use Overrun to reposition Strakhov, so I gave up on the idea of reaching the Agonizer this turn and just focused on the Cetrati. Of course the Spriggan missed the Powerful Charge attack, then missed with his shield for good measure.

So yeah, basically I flubbed almost every dice roll this turn. I didn't even manage to put a single box of damage on the Cetrati.

In his turn he brought back the only model I had actually managed to kill so far using his Feat. The Gladiator charged around the Juggernaut and wrecked it before putting some damage on the objective. The Cetrati flailed ineffectually at my jacks. Molik Karn killed some more Nyss.

Round 4:
The Kovnik charged in and actually managed to hit a Cetrati, but failed to kill it. My combined efforts finally managed to kill one, however, allowing the Spriggan to skewer the Agonizer at last. The Nyss destroyed the objective and earned me a point, making the scores even.

While planning his moves my opponent joked that I had left a "Karn-shaped hole" in the middle of my Nyss. He didn't get to use it, however, as his Cetrati and Gladiator failed to kill the Spriggan so he moved Karn in to finish the job. Marketh moved up to stand between the Nyss and Makeda. At least my Kovnik survived a three-man CMA, which I thought was impressive.

At this point it was late and we had to pack up, so I conceded as my only hope was that a handful of Nyss could Zephyr past Marketh and kill Makeda, who was on two Fury. It didn't seem likely.


God damn it, those Cetrati are tough! And a 12 inch move with Shield Wall? And they have reach, so that's Weaponmaster heavy infantry with a 14 inch threat range that isn't dependent on charges and has multiple ways of getting pathfinder. Geez. I put most of my army into them and didn't even scratch them! OK, my dice completely failed me that turn -plus, you know, Agonizer- but even if I had killed any they would have come back thanks to the Feat. Might have to go back to Butcher after all - even Sorscha 2 won't help if you don't break armour to begin with!

It was an interesting game though, I just wasn't thinking very clearly and made some stupid mistakes. That and a lot of really bad dice rolls. I really should learn to roll dice better. Seriously though, it's interesting to try and think what I could have done differently.

The best thing I can come up with is that I should have slammed the Cetrati in front of the Agonizer with the Destroyer - or even the Kovnik, with Strakhov's feat he would have had range - then swapped Superiority to the Spriggan and charged the Agonizer over the knocked-down Cetrati.

Charging the Gladiator was stupid; I should have known it was just throwing my Juggernaut away. I spent the feat to do that too. On the other hand, it kept him from scoring a point; had I been paying attention and moved the Juggernaut a single millimeter forwards on the previous turn, I would technically have been up on points at the end there. For what that's worth.

General thoughts:
Like I said, a LOT of mistakes were made. Mostly by me (I may have been forgetting about Hunter to ignore cover bonus in both games), but my opponent mentioned he'd made a few mistakes as well, like forgetting to counter-charge Black Ivan with the Bronzeback. Just one of those days I guess. On the subject, I've noticed that my measuring is getting quite careless - I often place the measuring tape a few inches to the side of the model but then move the model up to the tip of the tape, meaning I can get more or less than the desired distance (depending on how I'm lining everything up). I need to stop being so sloppy.

What's more, I've just realised that I've been playing Strakhov's Feat wrong. It only gives free charges to Warjacks in his battlegroup; there's a couple of times when I charged marshaled jacks "for free" on his Feat turn (so that time when the Destroyer and Kovnik killed the Bronzeback? Yeah, that shouldn't have happened).

I don't really mind the Cetrati, I actually like the base unit - in fact on their own they don't hit hard enough (even with CMA, which actually seems kinda out-of-place on the unit to me). It's all the buffs that make them silly, but even that doesn't really bother me. I guess what bothers me is the feat that just brings them back - they take so much effort and commitment to remove that being able to just bring them back is insane. Having Karn able to dance around behind them and strike you through the gaps or over their heads and then run back to safety is a problem too, but it's the fact that they are so well suited to protecting the Agonizer that was the biggest issue for me.

Speaking of, Molik Karn doesn't just have nonsensical threat range, he also walks back halfway across the field when he's done (up to 15 inches!). I wish I could do that. That's part of why I like (or at least want to like) Strakhov, but it costs him more to get a jack to hit and run, and of course they have much less range. Then again, he can use Overrun for a lot more than just duplicating Sprint.

So how to take on Cetrati with an Agonizer in the future? Eiryss perhaps, backed up by Aiyana and Holt, softening them up for Pikemen, Great Bears, or Demo Corps? All models I don't have (and for the most part don't want). A Mangler under Rutger is sounding interesting right about now. Actually, that I might do.

I've read some talk about tactics for Strakhov, but one thing I somehow missed was moving up with him to feat then, after everything important has charged, triggering Overrun to move him back to safety. I tried using Overrun defensively several times these two games, but it can be hard to trigger, at least against some lists. I'm not making the most of his feat either.

I'm having trouble deciding on lists for Strakhov; he definitely can't run too many jacks, though I still like the idea of one that's disposable followed by a heavy hitter. Also I need something for spot removal; perhaps I need a mortar with Joe instead, although I'm leaning towards Eliminators; the models are nice enough to me that, while I don't feel the need for them, I wouldn't feel bad about paying for them (which is more than I can say about most Khador infantry).

The truth is I just don't feel that Strakhov has much game against Skorne; it might just be my lists, but even with infantry, what does he bring against a fast, tough, accurate, melee-centric army with lots of pathfinder? Occultation? Hah. The Heaven Piercing Spear? I'm rarely in a position to try to assassinate their Warlock, thanks in part to fury camping and the Agonizer. Using overrun for movement tricks is tough (even if I was less focus strapped) against lists that have so little light infantry to use as the trigger. Using the feat for the alpha might work with different infantry, but I haven't found myself benefiting from the extra movement for more than one or two models at a time. Rift is expensive, short range, and he has so much pathfinder. Using Cinder Bombs to drop clouds for concealment doesn't help against Skorne shooting since he doesn't have any, and trying to block charges with them requires me to either be VERY close, or get very lucky scatters, and he can often get enough movement buffs to walk right through them. It might be useful for stopping my opponent from Enraging since he can't do that then choose to walk, but that would either require sacrificial infantry (hmm, oh mechanics...) or something immune to fire, and it would still be severely limited by the short range. Situational at best. Overall I'm wondering Butcher with Juggernauts and bubble-wrapping Iron-Fleshed infantry, slowly walking up the field, isn't a better bet.

Beast Handlers! It's a two point unit of four models that can remove up to 5 fury each? And can add 2 to damage rolls and give free charges! And they can heal Warbeasts! Also Reach and Anatomical Precision! Seriously? I know I shouldn't, but... compare them to Battle Mechanics: they are the same price, but the only thing Mechanics can do is repair jacks, while the Beast Handlers can do much, MUCH more, don't have to roll to heal/fix (at least I don't think they do; d3 without rolling instead of d6 on a 7 or less averages out to be similar for two Mechanics compared to two Beast Handlers, but is much more reliable - I don't think they need to be in base contact either), and MUCH better in melee. I think they have better DEF and SPD too. Dammit Hordes! I still hate Choir more though; at least Beast Handler don't say "Nope" (more on that later).

I've been reading some Warlock spells. So Warpath is like Overrun but can be used multiple times per turn and is much easier to trigger? In armies that already aren't nearly as focus/fury strapped as mine? Oh, and Warbeasts don't lose the Shield bonus for losing systems! Goddamn it! Yet another slap in the face of Warmachine. I'm even more of the opinion now that the Spriggan needs to be base ARM 20 (the shield can be downgraded to a buckler if needed). I hate Hordes so, so much right now - that will probably change if I ever get around to starting Circle like I'm considering doing, but that's "future-me". I hate him too, as evidenced by how poor my diet is.

While I'm on the topic of Hordes-envy, I've been thinking: choosing Warbeasts has a bigger effect on a Hordes list than a Warmachine one thanks to the animus; in contrast choosing a Warjack tends to be more of an exercise in deciding what flavour of beat-stick you prefer. Actually, I think that's a disadvantage for Hordes, since it almosts forces them to take certain models. Having said that, army-wide access to the Rush animus doesn't sound like such a disadvantage, so at the end of the day it's all in the execution.

And Now The Rant:
Yeah, I know, I'm like a stuck record. Sorry about that. Feel free to skip this part; you've probably read it all before anyway.

OK, there's just something I don't get. Let's talk about wargames. In a basic wargame, models can move and attack. Terrain provides modifiers. If you want to go into detail, there's usually a balance between ranged and close combat that drives some of the tactical decisions. Multiple models can be grouped together in units. There can be specific rules for vehicles and buildings, etc.

So that's a basic wargame. Warhammer Fantasy and 40K are somewhat basic in that there's no single mechanic that makes them stand out from the pack - although since they are (to my knowledge) some of the first non-historic wargames around it can be argued that they are "basic" because they set the standard to begin with. Also, it can  be argued that they are still somewhat unique in that they are designed to work at a scale that not many other popular wargames operate at.

The point is that games need to differentiate themselves somehow in order to survive. Infinity has it's "reaction" system (at least I don't know of any other game that uses it), Malifaux uses cards instead of dice which makes the game less random and in some ways more strategic, and Warmahordes has it's Focus/Fury mechanic.

The way I see it, the Focus/Fury mechanic (i.e. the managing of resources between allocation/forcing and spellcasting) is what makes this game different from others. It's the USP (Unique Selling Point). It's the first thing you learn when you're introduced to the game. The thing that stands out. I wouldn't hesitate to say that it's the heart of the game.

Which is why it makes no sense to me that they seem to be working so hard to undermine that whole system. I mean, the Agonizer is what, two points? And he completely shuts down Forcing and Allocation. Eiryss for three points knocks off all your Focus and stops you from getting any next turn. There's multiple ways of disrupting jacks and just plain shutting down spellcasting, and more are being added to the game all the time.

Note that many of these don't even require a roll at all. The guy just says "Nope" and that's it, you can't do, well, things that the whole game is built on your being able to do. It's like if there was a model in Warhammer that just stopped your opponent from rolling dice. If it made it harder to do stuff rather than preventing you altogether then that wouldn't be so bad; say for example that instead of not being able to allocate, you could allocate one less Focus, or you had to pass a roll-off in order to cast a spell. That would be interesting and tactical while still, well, being part of the game, rather than breaking it (both on a gameplay and on an intellectual level - how the hell is it that Orin Midwinter can stop ANY NUMBER of mages, no matter how powerful they are, from doing ANYTHING AT ALL? Wouldn't he have to be more powerful than them all combined to do that? As far as I can tell he's arguably the most powerful being on the face of the planet).

Part of the problem is that it means one model or ability can stop your whole army dead in it's tracks. The work-around for this is taking multiple lists and playing list-chicken. Personally that idea doesn't appeal to me; it takes a lot more work and you can still get screwed before the game even begins, it's mainly only really feasible (in my mind at least) in tournaments and the like.

As a result probably the most reliable thing you can do is just take lots of self-sufficient infantry - yes, they can be killed very easily at times, but there's very little that just says "Nope" to multiple units without even a single die-roll. They actually had to add a mechanic to the game to FORCE you to take Warjacks! I hear many people talk about taking the cheapest jack they can just to spend their Warjack points; given the choice, in many lists they wouldn't take jacks at all.

Well, as I keep saying, I didn't get into Warmachine for the infantry. Khador is probably one of the worst factions for running lots of jacks, but I'm not convinced any other Warmachine faction (at least any other faction who's aesthetics appeal to me) would be that much better. I suppose I could try Hordes, but I kinda don't want to right now. Plus there's not much in that model range that I particularly like.

No comments:

Post a Comment