Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kill the Bronzeback, win the game

OK, so the title is supposed to be a Heroes reference, I suppose it's tenuous at best. Anyway. I posted some photos of Alexia and Solomon on a blog I frequent, and for some reason received very little feedback - only three comments in fact. I'm not sure why I didn't get more, but I have a theory: not very many people actually opened the thread. Some 600 people actually viewed the thread, of which three commented. I figure that less than 1% of viewers actually commenting is probably about normal. So why did so few people open it? Perhaps the title I used was boring ("Illuminated Alexia and Thrall" just doesn't capture the imagination I suppose), or perhaps it's because I posted in the middle of the week and not many visit the painting forum on workdays? I don't know, it's just slightly disappointing is all.

Anyway, I finally had a chance to get a game in. I chose my Butcher list with the tweaks I mentioned last time:
Butcher I
-Beast 09
Alexia and the Risen
Kayazy Eliminators

My opponent was trying a new Warlock, and took what I think is a slightly soft list:
Hexeris I
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Paingiver Bloodrunners
Mortithurge Willbreaker
Saxon Orrick

He has no Agonizer, which is good for me. No Ashes to Ashes is a weight off my mind as well. Nihilators don't scare me as much as the Gatormen (same number of attacks at the same P&S, but no re-rolls, and my Nyss can actually hurt them), and it means potentially more bodies for Alexia. His beasts still out-threat my jacks though, and he has plenty of infantry to screen them with. Also, his feat scares me since it will just erase the Risen, and I'm not in a hurry to expose my Nyss to it either.

We roll a 2015 Steamroller mission with a small rectangular zone and two objectives that contest. He wins the roll and chooses to go first. I pick the side of the table with a forest in the center, just outside the zone, and a house on the right. This was something of a mistake since I then spend the rest of the game wishing the forest wasn't there, and I pretty much had to run the Nyss around the house, which was a little awkward.

He picks the Arcane Wonder objective, and I pick the one that lets me sacrifice models to keep it alive.

He deploys in a central brick. I put Butcher a little to the left so the forest isn't in his way, and the rest of my stuff spreads out along the deployment line. Obviously I put my cheap throwaway Risen on the opposite side from my sacrifice-models-to-keep-it-alive objective. Obviously. Actually there was a reason for that; I didn't want to put my infantry too far forwards since the feat was so bad for them, but I figured I could hold the Risen back and throw Thralls at his objective. The Nyss go on the right where they can run around the house. I had no idea where to put the Eliminators so they end up behind the forest.

He then puts the Bloodrunners and Saxon a little ahead of his army.

Round 1:
He advances everything, with Saxon going into the forest and the Bloodrunners already in the zone. The Bloodrunners get Deathmarch, and Spell Slave goes on the Drake.

The Kodiak gets Fury and the Nyss get Iron Flesh. I run my Jacks forwards... for FREE! The Kodiak does what Torch never could, and runs unobstructed through the forest. For some reason I move Butcher behind the forest. No idea what I was thinking. The Risen shuffle forwards conservatively, I upgrade one to a Thrall who charges at and kills a Bloodrunner. The Nyss run around the house. For lack of any better ideas I run the Eliminators up behind Beast. I make sure not to stand them too close to him so they won't be vulnerable to Obliteration... and instead stand them next to a Risen, who's defense is just as low. Smart.

Round 2:
He charges the Nyss with the Bloodrunners but only one makes distance, and it misses. He also puts one into the Kodiak, but it doesn't break armour. Saxon remembers that the Nyss ignore forests, and backs up a bit. A Nihilator kills the Thrall. The Drake moves up and sprays a Risen, then he arcs Obliteration through it onto the Thrall standing next to Alexia and my Eliminators. Sigh. Fortunately he rolled low, and (even with Puppet Strings) Alexia and one Eliminator survived. I'm not entirely sure why, but he moves the Bronzeback over to my left. Unfortunately his Nihilators are in the way, and he has to trample over two of them to get there. Luckily one toughs.

I debate charging Beast at his beasts, but after discussing it we decide I'm just out. I can't afford to leave his drake alive, however, so I have to send beast at him. I realise that I'm never going to be able to force him to bring his heavies into my charge range, and he already has the zone, so I decide that I'm going to have to use the Kodiak as bait. I give each jack 2 focus and upkeep my spells. Beast charges the Drake, making sure to keep as far from the other warbeasts as possible, but misses his second attack and leaves it on two health. The surviving Eliminator manages to finish it off however, and uses her second attack to stab a Nihilitor. He toughs, but she ignores him and side-steps into a Beast Handler.

The Kodiak shuffles forwards to make sure he's in the Bronzeback's charge range ([ArnieVoice]I'm here! Come get me![/ArnieVoice]), and throws one Bloodrunner at another, killing both. Butcher walks back around the forest to be in a position to have the best chance of taking out anything that kills the Kodiak, and I think misses a Nihilator with his Blunderbuss.

Alexia uses the Eliminator's corpse to spawn a Risen next to the Kodiak, then turns him into a Thrall. Her Risen just shuffle around aimlessly. The Thrall charges and kills a Bloodrunner thanks to the backstrike bonus. The Nyss then move around, getting the aiming bonus where possible, and finish off the Bloodrunners with ranged attacks. I make sure to put as many models as I can near my objective, as I don't have anything in the zone and I think I'm going to have to try to keep it alive next turn.

Round 3:
He puts two Beast Handlers into the Eliminator but can't kill her. The Nihilators get Deathmarch and Pathfinder from Orrick, and charge my Nyss, killing a couple (and the Thrall). The Bronzeback ignores my delicious looking Kodiak and charges the objective, killing it easily and using beat-back to move a bit farther away. I don't sacrifice any Nyss to keep it alive; I would run out models long before he runs out of attacks. He scores a point for the objective and a point for controlling the zone.

It occurs to me that I might be able to kill his Beast Handlers this turn, and his Bronzeback looks to be in range of the Kodiak, so I decide to go for it. The Kodiak gets three focus, Beast gets one, the rest goes to upkeeps. The Eliminator runs through everything and charges one of the rear Beast Handlers. She kills it and side-steps into the other, but misses. Well, so much for that idea; it's not worth putting too much effort into the other three anymore, so Beast just walks up and kills another with a boosted attack - I'm not sure if whether he's in walking range of the Gladiator or not, but since he can't charge with the objective in the way I decide to take my chances. The surviving Beast Handlers then fail their command check! Ouch, unlucky for him.

The Nyss all stand still and Zephyr, then proceed to shoot most of his Nihilators to death. Butcher feats and misses a Nihilator again. The Kodiak, he path now clear, charges the Bronzeback. Two initials and a headbutt later and the mighty Titan is toppled.
I just realised that I forgot to pay for the charge. Oh well, turns out I had focus to spare.

After the Nyss has completed their activations my Opponent realised that he could have used Counter Charge to move his Bronzeback to a safer location. It would have been a very different game if he had! Anyway, the Risen shuffle around and I end my turn.

Round 4:
So my opponent has very little infantry left and his Beast Handlers can't do anything this turn. I have two untouched jacks and most of my Nyss, and an Eliminator running amuck in his back line. He might be able to kill a jack with the Gladiator, but at only P&S 16 it's far from a sure thing. He could slam or Beat-back the Kodiak out of the zone, kill the only contesting Risen, and dominate up to 4, but the next turn he loses what's left of his infantry and probably his Warlock. So after some discussion, he decides that his only realistic chance of winning is to kill Butcher.

The Nihilators use their Vengeance move to get in range. He advances Hexeris and boosts an Obliteration into the Butcher; I also convince him to feat, so the Risen that he kills can turn around and attack Butcher before they die. One hits; but at dice-11 damage it does nothing. Somehow Alexia actually survives the blast! The remaining Nihilators then charge and leave Butcher on 4 health, at which point he concedes. My opponent, not the Butcher.

That's my first win in a while! I got lucky though; I had some good dice and my opponent made some mistakes - if he had thought to charge the Bronzeback to safety it would have been a completely different game. Seriously, that model is crazy; Beat-back and Counter Charge give it so much threat, and now I realise that it can use counter-charge for hit-and-run tactics as well! I'll have to keep an eye out for that in the future.

My opponent seemed to have a lot of respect for the Eliminators; so much so that he lost the Drake just trying to get it close enough to arc a spell through it. To be honest I think that if he had done things differently he probably could have killed them with a boosted spray instead. I got lucky there; I just couldn't seem to figure out where to put them, not until the battle lines closed anyway. I'll need to practice more with them, but I think they solve a lot of problems for me; taking out troublesome support models, blocking movement shenanigans like Admonition, etc. Still, I rather miss having the MOW Kovnik there. I think he'll see play time when I get around to trying Butcher 2 though.

So yeah, I'm liking this list. I think it covers a lot of bases. I still have to be very careful with it since my jacks have such short threat range and Iron Flesh Nyss can be killed en-masse by the right tech, but with Alexia is good for screening them and if I lose them then she can potentially take out a heavy herself, as can the Butcher, so I'm not completely dependent on my heavies. Valachev actually gives the Nyss a great accuracy buff, and also a damage buff via the Butcher's feat. The Eliminators solve problems; along with spontaneous back-striking Thralls they give my list a mobile threat that can deal with troublesome models. And Butcher himself survived an assassination attempt there that not many casters would have.

So every time I play a game I think back afterwards to what I could have done better, but I still find myself at a complete loss as to what to do in the opening moves. Once the lines have closed a bit and I know that my models are in range I actually find it easier to make decisions (I'm not saying I make good ones...), it's just those early turns when I'm not sure which models can get where and what forces I should commit to what enemy models.

I really need to play more games; I'm not going to get better in a hurry playing once a month. Hopefully I'll be able to play more regularly in the future.


  1. Replies

    2. The Butcher's new character Warjack!

    3. Damn, for 10 points no-one is ever going to take a Spriggan over this guy! And MAT 8? That's pretty crazy!