Thursday, June 18, 2015

Taking the Ice Queen out for a spin

I figured I hadn't put Sorscha on the table in a while and decided to see what she could against Skorne. I decided to go old-school and pull out the battle box jacks:

Sorscha I
Alexia and the Risen
Koldun Lord

As it happened my opponent was running an infantry spam list:
Xersis I
-Basilisk Drake
-Basilisk Drake
-Basilisk Krea
Aptimus Marketh
Tyrant Commander
Ancestral Guardian
Ancestral Guardian

I was feeling lazy and left the photography to my opponent this time, as a result the photos are taken from his side of the table. Perhaps that's good for me; by seeing the table through his perspective I might learn something?

We rolled the mission with two flags contested by objectives. I chose Arcane Wonder, not because I had any upkeep spells, but so it would kill any of his infantry models that attacked it. I think he also chose Arcane Wonder, probably because Xersis is only Fury 5 and has some of the best upkeeps in the game.

He won the roll-off and chose to go first. I chose the side with the forests, reasoning that they might be good for my Nyss. He had plenty of Pathfinder after all.

He deployed Xersis in the middle, on infantry unit on each side, and the warbeasts scattered around. I'm not sure why he didn't spread his infantry more; perhaps he's just used to playing beast heavy? The Immortals got Defenders Ward, bringing them up to an impressive 14/19.

I put Sorscha and co in the middle. The Nyss went behind the forest, with Alexia on the other side.

Turn 1:
He started to spread out his forces.

I moved up, keeping Alexia a little bit farther back. She created a thrall who ran behind the house; the way I figured it my opponent would want to run or charge the Nihilators forward, so he would most likely just run one to engage it since he couldn't charge it.

Turn 2:
A Drake killed a couple of Nyss with boosted spray attacks. The rest of his army spread out a bit, with the outliers ahead of the flags. He put up Inhospitable Ground, and the Krea put out it's animus to protect Xersis. I should mention that Marketh was toeing the hill but Xersis was not.

OK, so his Nihilators are facing off against my Risen. I've seen how this goes before; the Risen are useless againt Berserk models. Meanwhile his Immortals are functionally immune to my Nyss's shooting at ARM 19, meaning I need to take it to them in melee. My warjacks don't really have any good targets, and all his infantry are P+S 13, but he can cast Fury twice and his feat gives him extra melee damage dice, meaning I'm staring at 20 potentially MAT 7 P+S 16 weaponmasters. Plus his lights can do decent damage under the feat, especially with Fury, and Xersis himself hits like a ton of bricks. In other words there's nothing valuable for my jacks to go after (other than Xersis himself) and everything in his army can kill them trivially.

I decide that I pretty much have to feat this turn. I then have two choices: try to grind it out, with Sorscha keeping one of the units on ice, or try to end it now with an assassination. Xersis is on 2 Fury and in Sorscha's range, but I'll need to spend 4 focus getting there. I figure that if I can get three decent damage rolls, he'll burn through his transfers and take a bit of damage. Then the Destroyer can land a boosted Bombard shot with Koldun Lord focus, and the Nyss can hit him with a few CRAs; it sounds like it could work.

I figure assassination is supposed to be Sorscha's game so I might as well go for it. She freezes everything including Xersis, uses Wind-Rush and Boundless Charge, and starts wailing on him.

For some reason, and I don't know why, I've been under the impression for a very long time now that Sorscha was P+S 14. I mean, she's got that big hammer, she's a warcaster assassin by nature, I dunno, that's the just the number I had in my head. Turns out she's P+S 13? Ugh. That's just weak. Anyway, I didn't realise that until some time after the game, so I was rolling dice minus 4 against Xersis. My first attack, with 3 dice, came up... 4. My next two attacks were 3s. So basically Sorscha failed to even scratch a frozen Xersis. Sigh. It was obvious at this point that the game was lost, but I went ahead and played it out.

So I might have forgotten about the Krea's animus when formulating my plans. At dice minus 6, the Destroyer did 2 damage. With 2 transfers left, I figured my only chance of killing Xersis was to take each Nyss shot separately and roll all sixes for damage. I did not roll all sixes. In fact I only put another couple of points of damage on him. At that point I just handed over the turn.

Turn 3:
He used the Krea's animus to lower Sorscha's def to a mere 16. Then Xersis used a double-boosted combo smite to smack her into an Immortal for the extra damage dice. At 4 dice plus 6, he did 20 damage and killed her with a single attack.

I kinda felt bad about how short the game was; you know, when you put all the effort into setting up the table and pulling out your models and everything, the the game ends without you actually doing anything, it feels a bit of a waste. On the other hand I was actually quite tired and had somewhere to be a little later, so perhaps it's better that the game didn't go on for too long.

I might have been able to grind that game out with copious use of Freezing Grip. Maybe. The Nyss should have been able to deal with frozen Immortals over a couple of rounds or so (although without Freezing Grip against Defenders Ward, the Immortals clearly win; Immortals have better threat range, the same chance of hitting, but they insta-kill Nyss while Nyss have to roll 11s (on 3 or 4 dice of course) to kill an Immortal), though I would have had to put two or three into the Drake or else lose that number every round to sprays. My other flank would have completely collapsed however, as the Risen won't last two seconds against Nihilators; the only other thing I had was warjacks, and as I've mentioned he would have had no trouble wrecking them with Fury and his feat. I guess if had managed to hold them off for a couple of round then Sorscha would be free to start freezing them instead; since they're Tough that might actually have been easier for her. Of course I'd have to stay clear of Xersis himself through all that; he may not be very fast, but he does have beat-back.

I dunno, perhaps I could have won it if I'd played smart. I've been wondering if Sorscha is a good caster against Skorne. I don't think that many of her tools really help; the assassination is unlikely so Wind Rush and Tempest aren't that useful, Fog of War does nothing, the feat and Freezing Grip are good for infantry but won't be as useful against warbeasts. Boundless Charge is still good, but Skorne warbeasts can match or exceed that threat range so it only levels the playing field at best. Still, with a hard-hitting army her ability to take one infantry unit out of the equation or make sure all my attacks hit for one round shouldn't be bad. I just need to get some heavier hitters. Perhaps Epic Sorscha would be a more suitable choice?

After thinking about this for a while longer (like two weeks...), here's what I think I could have done:
-Sorscha feats on the two units, freezing most of the Immortals, then casts Freezing Grip on a frozen Nihilator to freeze the whole unit. She uses the last of her focus to kill a Nihilator with a Razor Wind before walking to safety behind the forest, where she kills another with a hand cannon shot.
-The Destroyer puts a bombard into the Drake on my right (the one that just killed a couple of Nyss). I believe he was frozen, meaning I could use the Koldun Lord focus to boost damage.
-Three Nyss go into the damaged Drake to make sure to kill it. The other five, along with Valachev, try to kill as many Immortals as possible.
-The Eliminators try to kill some more Immortals. I figure that along with the Nyss, I can probably kill half the unit.
-The Risen try to kill the frozen Nihilators. I guess I should be able to kill around 4 or 5; along with Sorscha's two that's 6 or 7 dead or knocked down. Maybe I create a thrall and put it into the remaining Drake.
-The Juggernaut positions so it's safe from Xersis but he needs to be careful not to get too aggressive.

Next turn his two infantry units are still frozen. I expect Xersis and his solos would kill a bunch of Nyss and perhaps the Eliminators, and the remaining Drake kills a bunch of Risen with a spray, although he would end up killing some Nihilators as well. He might even be able to hurt/kill Alexia and even put some damage on Sorscha, but unless he rolls three sixes on a damage roll he won't kill her (maybe I shouldn't use that last Razor Wind).

At this point assuming decent dice he's lost a lot of his infantry and one Drake, my jacks are untouched, and Alexia is sitting on 4 or 5 corpse tokens. My Nyss are probably mostly gone and may even be fleeing, and he's probably killed my Eliminators. I can freeze another one of his units and probably finish it off. If I can somehow take out the other Drake with Alexia / thralls / bombards, I have an advantage. He still has the potential to single-handedly take out both my jacks with Xersis (between fury and his feat); if he manages that he's basically invincible, otherwise I'm in a good place. So unless I'm way off now, I was probably in a better position that I thought at the time.

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