Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First Game of MkIII

Strakhov felt as though something was off. He didn't know when it had started, but the sensation had been growing stronger for several weeks now. It was hard to say for sure, but he was starting to suspect it was something to do with his magic. It just seemed... different somehow.

Pushing the persistent thoughts to the back of his mind, Strakhov focused himself on the task at hand. The Skorne scouting party he had been sent to intercept was coming into view, their Titans bellowing angrily at the sight of the bright red, highly visible warjacks the Khadoran master of stealth had brought with him. Well, looked like it was time to earn his paycheck.

This was my first game of MkIII. Needless to say I'm still hazy on what's different in the rules, so it's quite possible that I might have screwed stuff up. Anyway, I picked Strakhov, Torch, a Spriggan, my sniper-solos, and my usual Merc infantry. I had 12 points left after that, which I ended up spending on a Berserker and Sylyss; I debated some other combinations, but I though it might be interesting to try Berserk on a MAT 7 warjack with Overrun.
Nyss Hunters
Alexia & the Risen
Widowmaker Marksman

Beanpole was playing the new Battlebox caster:
Beast Handlers
Master Tormentor
Orin Midwinter

We rolled up a game with two flags and a zone, that looked quite easy to score your own flag. Beanpole won the roll and chose to go first. Out of habit I picked the side with more forests (I need to remember that Hunter doesn't work the same way anymore).

Beanpole had his warlock and battlegroup generally tending to my right, near his flag, with the infantry to my left.

I put Strakhov behind my flag on my left with my jacks lined up across the center. The Nyss Hunters went on the right to take advantage of the forest. The Risen were in the center behind everything.

The Bloodrunners went on my left, facing my caster.

Obviously I had to deploy the Cutthroats on my left to protect Strakhov. I wasn't sure what to do with my snipers so I put them together in the center to start.

Round 1:
Beanpole advanced everything. The Bloodrunners got Tough from the Willbreaker.

I put Superiority on the Berserker, Occultation on Strakhov, and Sentry on the Marksman. The Cutthroats spread out to jam a bit; I tried to use the wall to hold off the Bloodrunners by taking up most of the space behind it, which would also protect the Cutthroats from the Slingers. I decided I wanted the Snipers on the far right, so I ran them across. The Nyss Hunters spread out and tried to use the forest protectively. Alexia ran to my left as I realised I was probably going to lose a lot of Cutthroats.

Round 2
Xekaar debuffed the Nyss (-2 DEF and ARM). His infantry killed some Cutthroats. The Cannoneer fired at something and missed, but the deviation drifted over Cylena and the Widowmaker Marksman, killing them both. I was quite sad to lose the Marksman. The Agonizer used an ability that would debuff the STR of any of my models if they got close.

I was going to have a very hard time killing his Titans if that Agonizer was allowed to keep that up, so I decided to trade the Berserker for it. The Berserker got two and I gave out some focus to the other two jacks for boosting. Strakhov moved up to the flag, cast Overrun on the Bersker, threw a cinder bomb at it to kill the nearby Bloodrunner (I may have forgotten to give it the defensive bonus for being engaged), then killed a Slinger with his gun. Everything else worked on clearing infantry, except Kell who put some damage on the Agonizer.

The Berserker then charged a Slinger in order to trigger Overrun, but instead got counter-charged by the Bronzeback (who actually missed his charge attack). After killing the Slinger, I didn't think to trigger Overrun to escape or move something else closer or anything, and instead spent my focus putting a bit of damage on the Bronzeback. Fortunately the jack did not explode. At the end of the turn I scored a point for dominating my flag.

Round 3:
Beanpole was planning to kill the Berserker with the Gladiator and charge the Bronzeback into Torch. However, abysmal rolls mean the Berserker actually survived the attack (thinking back though, I don't remember when the movement system got crippled; it's possible he shouldn't have missed one attack - or maybe he would have, I distinctly remember a double-one for one of his attack rolls). Instead the Titan finished off the Berserker by throwing it at Torch. The rest of his  forces focussed on clearing the zone so Xekaar could move in, feat, and dominate for two. I scored one, tying our scores.

I wasn't going to be able to kill his Titans with a total of -5 STR this turn, so instead I jammed the zones with my Risen and toed the Spriggan into the zone in the forest for extra insurance. Torch got Superiority. I finished off most of his combat infantry, making damn sure to kill the Master Tormentor with a double-boosted Torch spray (I did not need to loose half my Risen to a single MAT 8 Reach Thresher). I scored again, putting me at 3.

Round 4:
Xekaar debuffed the Spriggan, then the Bronzeback got Rush and simply walked through the woods to annihilate it. One Slinger ran to contest my flag. The rest of his army managed to take out all the Risen, allowing him to score two points, bringing him up to four.

Well, I pretty much had no chance of winning by scenario now, so it was time for a last-ditch assassination attempt. A Thrall I had from last turn charged the Bronzeback to stop any counter-charge nonsense. Kell and the Cutthroats shot down the Agonizer, Alexia managed to land an aimed double-boosted handcannon shot on Xekaar, doing a pretty impressive 11 damage which was obviously transferred, leaving the warlock with 2 Fury. Strakhov filled up Torch, cast Overrun on himself, walked up to catch Xekaar in his feat, and just managed to kill the contesting Slinger to walk Torch close enough to Xekaar to get the charge. The assault spray missed but the initials hit. I rolled abysmally for damage; on the five damage dice for the first two attacks I rolled four 1s and a 2. It didn't really matter though, because he only had two transfers left and I had three attacks, which was just enough to finish it.

Xekaar's magical defenses finally failed under Torch's spinning sawblade. He fell back, bleeding heavily, but before Torch could follow up for the kill he sensed his master's mind rapidly growing more distant. Abandoning the Skorne warlock, he ran to keep up with his warcaster.

Kell yelled at Strakhov as he ran past.
"Boss! Where are you going?"
"Isn't it obvious you fool? I'm running away, like we always do!"
"But boss! We won!"

Strakhov came to an abrupt halt.
"I said we won! Look!"
Strakhov turned to see the remaining Skorne forces hastily carrying their injured warlock to safety. He scratched his head, confused by this unfamiliar feeling.
"Huh. Well, that's new."

As nice as it is to be able to say that I won my first game of MkIII, it was a very narrow and lucky win, and if Beanpole had thought to reave the Fury from the Agonizer, I would have lost.

Which is a little bit of an annoying thought; a fully-loaded up Torch, with a buff and a free charge, and a bit of help from Alexia, would not have been able to kill the most fragile caster in all of Skorne if my opponent hadn't made a mistake. Basically, the big assassination move that Strakhov is partly built around is just not very useful against Hordes.

If course Strakhov isn't just an assassination caster, and he's probably better at general attrition than he was in MkII. Plus it's not like I didn't make plenty of mistakes myself.

Actually, I felt very rusty going in. I must have spent at least 10 minutes at the start of each turn, if not much more on some turns, just staring at the board trying to figure out what to do. I basically did nothing at all with my Nyss and very little with my snipers for most of the game.

I forgot about the Bronzeback's counter-charge again, then after he used it I just left Torch in his threat range when I could have moved him away (I think I had already activated the Spriggan, though I could have repositioned him with the Overrun move from killing the Slinger if I had thought to), leaving both my main heavies in it's threat range, but just out from contesting the zone - in fact I almost completely forgot about the zone, any models contesting it were there by chance.

I'm wondering if I could have reached Xekaar without killing the Agonizer. Of course, if Torch had Bulldoze then that wouldn't have been a problem. It honestly feels as if the kit that Strakhov wants in his main warjack is split between Torch and the Spriggan: he loves Bulldoze and 2" reach to make sure the jack can get to the target, but he wants the better MAT and Sustained Attack so he's not at the mercy of the dice against high-DEF warnouns (which is pretty much all of them). I would have loved it if they gave Torch Bulldoze; I reckon he needs it far more than Black Ivan does.

Playing Strakhov is so much less painful now that he doesn't constantly find himself lacking the focus he needs to do even simple things. The fact that he can get all his upkeeps out on turn one feels amazing (which is kinda sad; it really shouldn't be that big a deal). Being able to fully load up a warjack and cast Superiority and Overrun on it is so liberating. I love it. To be clear he doesn't feel like he has more focus than he can use or anything, but in this game at least he felt to me like he had exactly enough; every turn I seemed to have the exact amount of focus needed to do what I wanted.

While I missed Poison on the Cutthroats, I do like that they're cheaper and reposition is nice on them; it actual works as a pseudo accuracy buff, as I can afford to aim more often with it. I really wish Croe still had 2" reach on his sword though, it made him much better at jamming.

Man, P+S 18 does not feel like enough when you've got the Agonizer debuffing your STR. I really should have gone after it more aggressively with the Nyss Hunters, as I basically couldn't touch his Titans as long as it was alive. Heh, it's stuff like this that keeps pushing me to build for shooting against Skorne.