Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Smoke And Butchers

After some discussion I decided I wanted to see if I could make use of Strakhov's smoke to block charge lanes, so I pulled him out one more time and added the cheapest infantry I have - mechanics - to act as easy smoke targets. BTW I tried to stop jumping between past and present tenses when writing this time.

Game 1:
-Beast 09
-War dog
Nyss (max)
Mechanics (max)
Widowmaker Marksman
Kell Bailoch

Morghoul I
-Cyclops Brute
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Paingiver Beast Handlers

I proxied a Juggernaut as Beast 09 because: a) free running, which Strakhov needs if he wants two jacks, and b) Thresher - 'nuff said, amirite? The snipers and dog were there to fill points. We rolled up Scenario 5: Close Quarters. I won the roll-off and chose the side of the table with the wall.

He deployed centrally. I positioned the Nyss on the far left, to circle round the house. Strakhov with the Mechanics stood in the center. The two snipers went on the far right.

Round 1:
He ran his army forwards. Of course he put some spells and animi out, including Admonition on the Bronzeback.

I put Superiority on Beast and Sentry on Strakhov (I was planning to use it to drop more smoke). Strakhov tried to lob a cinder bomb where the cloud might conceivably block line-of-sight and prevent charges, and a lucky scatter positioned it quite nicely (my original plan was to throw it at mechanics, but then I remembered they had speed 5 and I had put them behind my battlegroup, so that didn't happen). The Spriggan ran up to where I hoped he was safe behind the cloud. I ran the Nyss behind the house, the snipers as far forwards as possible, and Beast to where I jugded him to be out of range - and even if he wasn't the flag would interfere with charges and keep him safe.

Round 2:
The Drake was able to spray down three Nyss with boosted attack rolls. The rest of his army moved up, with Morghoul realizing he would be unable to base the flag this turn. I didn't trigger Sentry because I wasn't sure if I would want to charge in my turn so I couldn't decide if I needed smoke or not.

I came up with a plan: to use Mechanics and the threat of Beast to dominate my flag, hopefully scoring on every turn, and contest his flag by feeding him the Nyss one by one so he could only score on his turns. In retrospect it wasn't really a very good plan, but I didn't exactly fancy my chances in a straight fight.

Anyway, in the middle of this I see a chance to take out the Bronzeback, and by God I take it. So I dropped my upkeeps and gave the the Spriggan three focus. The Mechanics and Beast shuffled around the flag to make room for Strakhov, who put Superiority on the Spriggan, feat, them moved up to dominate and score a point. I considered trying to lob a cinder bomb at the Cyclops, but I'm afraid it will scatter back to my Nyss, giving him a clear path to Strakhov, so I just shot at him for no damage instead. The Nyss spread out, with only one charging the Drake (I haven't had good luck with them in melee in the past, so the idea is just to tie him up, forgetting that he's maxed out his fury and therefore not much of a threat this turn); amazingly that one lone Nyss knocked out half his boxes. The snipers killed a Beast Handler.

Finally the Spriggan charged the Bronzeback. Who Admonitioned away. Doh. I was trying to come up with plans for dealing with Admonition earlier, then just forgot about it. The Spriggan was a couple of millimeters out of range from the next nearest model too, so he just sat there looking stupid. Fortuitously, the Admonition move also brought the Bronzeback into charge range of Beast. Actually, "fortuitous" might not be the word I'm looking for.

Round 3:
Morghoul feated. The Cyclops cleared a couple of Mechanics, then an Enraged, Abused, Rushed Bronzeback Beat-Back through another in order to reach Beast. At P&S 21, it was a short fight. Then the Abused, Enraged P&S 20 Gladiator murdered the poor Spriggan. Oh, and a Nyss died to a Frenzy attack.

I saw two possibilities: Strakhov could move out of Morghoul's control area in order to cast spells, then use Battering Ram twice in order to try to clear the flag, then use Overrun and kill a Beast Handler in order to move back up to the flag, scoring me a second point. Then die next turn. My second option was to try to use Battering Ram twice to push the Bronzeback up to Morghoul and hope he Frenzied and one-shotted him.

Neither one seemed likely, so I chose option three, and conceded. Hey, time is always an issue these days, so I wanted to get straight to the next game.

It was an interesting game; I was paying a lot of attention to positioning and distances to try to outmaneuver him, and it was going quite well... up until I made the stupid mistake of charging the Admonition-ed Bronzeback, and that just plain cost me the game. I kinda felt that I was at a disadvantage going in though; it was a very heavy hitting list with a fair bit of speed (the Archidon is SPD 7 before you even add Rush), Morghoul is basically immune to Nyss shooting, and he had enough Paingivers that the snipers weren't going to be able to work through them in time (especially not with him Shield-Guarding shots with the Cyclops).

Meanwhile my list isn't very optimized. I don't really know what direction I want to go with it I guess, and my model selection is still somewhat limited, so I'm mainly just swapping jacks around to see what works.

I was surprised by how much damage that single Nyss charge did to the Drake. If I had charged in one or two more I might even have been able to kill it. The Nyss don't normally do much for me in melee (or that much at range either, but melee is worse), so I've kinda given up on that front; they just can't be relied on for damage.

I think smoke can be useful against Skorne because even if they have range to walk through it, they can't charge, which means they can't Enrage their warbeasts, but just randomly lobbing cinder bombs with Strakhov is not the way to go. Of course there's models available that can create smoke clouds more reliably, but the idea was to try to learn how to use Strakhov's abilities. In retrospect I had more opportunities to use smoke - in fact I might have been able to save Beast 09 from the Bronzeback if I'd used a cinder bomb on the Cyclops like I'd originally planned, so perhaps more practice is needed. I'm working on Alexia right now, so I'm thinking about using Risen as cheap reliable cinder bomb targets, but I'll probably also want Reinholdt before I make that part of my game plan.

Game 2:

Butcher I
MOW Kovnik
Kell Bailoch

Xerxis I
-Basilisk Krea
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
Gatormen Posse
Paingiver Task Master
Aptimus Marketh

I'd had enough of Strakhov for the time being so I brought out the Butcher, throwing together a quick list on the spot. I took a couple of Juggernauts since without any speed buffs I knew I wouldn't be getting the alpha. The MOW Kovnik was there in the hope that I could get a charge off under Butcher's feat. We played scenario 10: Outflank. I won the roll-off and decided to go first.

I positioned the Butcher and his jacks a little to the right, intending to focus on that zone. The Nyss spread out on the left, aiming for the other zone. I made sure one was close enough to Butcher to get Iron Flesh. He deployed his Gators opposite my Nyss, and the rest of his army centrally. During Advanced Deployment, I put Kell on the far left (I was hoping to get a shot at the Task Master).

Round 1:
I ran everything up. Butcher put Iron Flesh on the Nyss and fail-charged, which it turns out means he's moving exactly the same distance as his jacks. That works out quite well actually. A couple of Nyss toed the zone; even though they didn't need to yet, it seemed worth it to force him to walk into their threat range.

He moved everything up. Tibbers took point; with Defenders Ward, standing in the Gobbers cloud, while in range of the Krea's Paralytic Aura, he's at something crazy like DEF 15 ARM 25 to shooting.

Round 2:
Just for fun I put Fury on the Kovnik. Between movement and Zephyr I positioned the Nyss so several are contesting the zone while being quite spread out. They all took CRA's and every shot hit, but I roll quite poorly for damage and barely manage to take out a single Gator. The Juggernauts stood around in the zone. The Destroyer took a shot at Xerxis. I didn't boost the attack roll since I wasn't expecting to hit him; rather I was hoping to scatter onto the Gobbers or some Paingivers. I was lucky and managed to kill one Gobber with a boosted damage roll. Kell showed us his "Forest Gump" imitation and just kept running straight ahead.

The Gators attacked the Nyss. They needed 11s to hit and only managed it once. Tiberium toed the right zone, then Xerxis cast Inhospitable Ground.

Round 3:
OK, with Inhospitable Ground there's nothing I can do but let Tiberion get the charge and hope to kill him afterwards, and to do that I need my Juggernauts close enough that there's no way for him to kill one while staying out of range of the other. So I shuffled them into base contact, made sure Butcher was safely behind them, and waited for the storm to hit.

Meanwhile the Nyss used Zephyr to get out of melee range of the Gators and used more CRA's, failing to kill a single one. I think the Destroyer also took a shot at a Gator but failed to kill it. Kell moved up to the wall and took a shot at Marketh; he hit but only rolled a 5 for damage, leaving him on two boxes. I was just getting terrible damage rolls that round. So the Kovnik showed everyone how it's done; at P&S 18 with four damage dice the only real question was whether the Gator would pass it's tough roll. The answer was "no".

The Gators dropped Dirge of SomethingOrOther for WeGetRerolls (I think those were the names of their abilities...), but still only managed to take out a single Nyss and a few boxes from the Kovnik.

Meanwhile Xerxis, with help from Marketh, cast a bunch of spells and animi and used his feat. Then Tibbers charged the Juggernauts. At P&S 23 with extra damage dice, he scrapped them both with fury to spare.

Interesting fact: did you know that Warcasters can't contest zones? Somehow I managed to miss that one. My opponent got two points for dominating the zone.

Round 4:
Well, things were not looking good. At this point one simple fact stood out to me: Tiberion had to die. Luckily Xerxis hadn't had the fury to cast Inhospitable Ground last turn. So Butcher cast Fury on himself, feat, and charged. You would thing that a Furied Butcher under feat would have no trouble killing a single Warbeast, right? Well double-ones and poor damage rolls said otherwise, and it took all my Focus to finally put him in the dirt.

The Kovnik finished off another Gator, and the Nyss only just managed to finish off the last two (who were already wounded). The Destroyer and Kell killed the Task Master and a Beast Handler who was in the zone, allowing me to score my first point.

Interesting fact: did you know that your opponent can score in your turn? And that Warcasters can't contest zones? I did, but completely forgot for some reason. So at this point my opponent scored another two points, and all he needed to do to score two more and win the game next turn was nothing at all. But he killed Butcher with Xerxis anyway, just to see how hard it would be. Not very was the answer.

Damn, I've never seen two Khador heavies get one-rounded by a single enemy before. That's it, it's settled, I'm buying Aiana and Holt! I'd pick up Ragman too, but I'm not particularly fond of the model (while I've wanted both Aiana and Holt since before I started playing the game).

Well that was an... educational game. I don't like playing Butcher because his jacks are slow, but Inhospitable Ground was just murder. I suddenly understand what makes Torch useful; if I'd had him or a Kodiak the game would have been very different. Not saying I would have won, it just would have been different. I'm definitely going to be using him more from now on. Actually I'm suddenly tempted to try to convert up a Grolar...

I had fun hopping around with the Nyss in that game. With Iron Flesh they dance like a butterfly and sting like a butterfly. Seriously, my 3-point Kovnik was doing more damage per round than the entire 12-point Nyss module. Still, Zephyr helps them a lot; being able to step out of combat without taking freestrikes then take aimed shots seems useful sometimes.

Once again my opponent failed every Tough roll. That's three or four games in a row against me that he just hasn't passed a Tough roll. Oh well, doesn't look like he needs them anyway.

I'm still trying to figure out if there's anywhere I could have put the second Juggernaut so that he couldn't attack them both with Tibbers, but that I would be able to reach him through Inhospitable Ground next turn. My threat range was 4 inches: if I put one Juggernaut behind the other, so that he was more than two inches from the front of the leading jack, Tibbers could position attack from two inches away, making him more than four inches from the second Juggernaut, and if I put him less or equal than two inches away, Tibbers could run up to base contact with the leading Juggernaut and be within reach range of the second. So I guess not?

I guess the smart play then was to pull one Juggernaut farther back and rely on Butcher to retaliate against Tiberion (six inch threat range through rough terrain). Of course I would have needed to use the Juggernaut or Destroyer to then shield him from Xerxis, which a) I don't think I would have had enough movement to do through Inhospitable Ground, and b) would have cost focus, and the way it turned out in the actual game, that would have stopped Butcher from finishing off Tiberion - but that was just bad dice, it doesn't invalidate the concept.

Yeah, I completely forgot to try to stop him from scoring at the end. In my defense I'd just gotten a phone call from work saying they needed me to come in and try to fix something, so I was trying to finish up quickly. Had I moved the Destroyer in to contest the zone, then... he still would have won by killing Butcher. I guess I should have moved it to contest earlier, then it might have been close enough to shield him from Xerxis. Ah, shoulda woulda coulda; truth is I wasn't expecting him to kill both Juggernauts.

I think it's fair to say that my list was at a disadvantage against his in that game. I'm trying to think how I could have won it, and the only thing I can think off is using the Iron-Fleshed Nyss to screen my Jacks as I very slowly walked up the middle of the table through Inhospitable Ground, while using Kell, the Kovnik, and perhaps even the Destroyer to contest one or both of the zones. I dunno, I just can't see it.

So I'm not sure what to run in future. I'm thinking about proxying Sorscha II: she has Iron Flesh for the Nyss, and Boundless Charge for the speed and Pathfinder issues (and the free charge, which I place great value on). I haven't played with Sorcha I in a long time, but I'm not sure if she would be so useful against Skorne. Actually I'm tempted (after what happened in this last game at least) to go back to Harkevich for a bit. For Pathfinder. Oh well, we'll see.


  1. Unfortunately, pButcher supports a primarily infantry force, and one which can offer strong shooting as his feat buffs both melee and ranged attacks. A key competent would be successfully juggling the Iron Flesh and Fury spells on the Nyss Hunters to give them the right balance between offence and defence - even Mat 7 Gatorman Posse with re-rolls due to cold blood should struggle to hit Defence 18 Nyss in melee, needing 11's without boosted attack rolls. Juggle Fury onto them in your turn, and they become P&S 12 Weaponmasters, which is nearly the same as the Cryx Bane-thralls you have gone up against when you factor in the thrall's Dark Shroud. Time it with the feat, and thats P&S 12 Weaponmasters which roll an extra dice of damage.

    Ideally, you would re-arrange the Jacks so there is one Jack on the Butcher (Behemoth is a good choice), and use the remaining points for more infantry, probably the full Winter Guard Death Star with Kovnik Joe backing them up to give them tough or boosted attack rolls. However, as you don't much like the models, I can see that not being an option you would like to consider.

    1. But... I thought you said Butcher was a good choice as a jack caster...

      Anyway, the plan right now is to run Butcher with a Kodiak and/or Torch for pathfinder (Kodiak with Fury and Full Throttle should work). I don't normally have good luck in melee with Nyss, but if I see a chance I might try to attack using Fury. Might need to try to find a way to increase their accuracy though - Ternions maybe?