Saturday, June 30, 2018

One Does Not Simply Ignore Beast 09

After the last two games went on for too long, we decided to try playing at 50 points in order to speed things up a little. I had some difficulty settling on a 50 point list, especially since I didn't want to make too many changes - that's something that I'm trying to avoid right now. I ended up with this:
Strakhov 1
- Beast 09
- Decimator
Cylena & the Nyss Hunters 
Alexia & the Risen
Aiyana & the Holt
- Valachev
Widowmaker Marksman

Blondie also ran a similar loadout to last time:
Stryker 1
- Old Rowdy
- Defender
- Avenger
- Squire
Sword Knights (full)

This time we picked a scenario from the book with two flags. We used two light warjacks as proxies as we didn't have any blank bases (I keep forgetting to bring anything suitable). I feel like we might need to start playing Steamroller soon. Anyway, I (eventually) won the roll-off and chose to go first.

I put Strakhov behind the forest, closest to my flag. My infantry was positioned to contest his flag. The jacks were in the middle, with A&H behind them.

Blondie positioned his battlegroup centrally, with the Sword Knights split up to cover each side. For some reason he put his Gunmages behind the forest, which he came to regret later.

I put my marksman close to Strakhov and near the flag, facing off against Rowdy.

Round 1:
Sentry went on the Marksman, Superiority on the Decimator; both ran forwards to be in range to shoot next turn. I originally meant to put Occultation on A&H, but I forgot to arrange it from the start, so I couldn't before moving because Strakhov was facing the wrong way, and I couldn't after moving because he was too far away. Oh well, I just had them walk up and had Aiyana use her Stealth ability instead (I should probably mark that with a token in the future). The Risen ran forwards and formed a wall to block LOS to the Nyss Hunters. Alexia stood back in the trench for a little added protection from sniped Defender shots. The Nyss Hunters advanced behind the Risen.

Blondie likewise formed a wall with this Sword Knights. His Gunmages ran around the forest. Arcane Shield went on Rowdy, and the Avenger got Snipe. The shooting jacks set up a little bunker in the trench and starting focusing on my Decimator; the Defender rolled pretty hot and did 9 damage, then the Avenger rolled pretty cold and did 1. Still, the Decimator was already looking a bit worse for wear.

Round 2:
This turn I was torn between the desire to start killing his Sword Knights, and the desire to simply jam them but leave them in place to block line of sight. What made this even worse was that after I ran my Risen at them I realised that Alexia was blocked in by my Nyss Hunters and wouldn't be able to keep most of them in command. I probably should have just held her back seeing as most of them were going to die anyway, but instead I ran her around and left her in a crappy position where she was vulnerable. I tried to block LOS to her with Nyss Hunters, but I screwed up again and chose to walk them instead of running; I only took about two shots with them and killed maybe one model anyway, so I should have just run them.

Worried about the Decimator, I swapped Superiority with Occultation. The Marksman put 6 damage into Rowdy's column 4, moving a little to be just out of engagement range of the Sword Knights. The Decimator walked up to base the flag and spent three focus shooting at Rowdy; the first shot actually managed to do another 4 damage I believe to his column 5, leaving his cortex perilously exposed. I was careful to make sure the Decimator was close to the limit of his 10" range, and I pushed Rowdy back with the second shot, leaving him almost 11 inches away.

Beast 09 ran to the left to try to block LOS to Alexia. Aiyana and Holt advanced; Aiyana kept them stealthed and Holt whiffed hard against Sword Knights. Meanwhile Valachev just struck a cool pose on a nearby hill.

Seeing that Rowdy would lose his cortex next turn if he didn't do something about it, Blondie considered running Rowdy to engage the Decimator in order to give his Sword Knights flank, but due to the flag blocking the direct path he didn't have range, and so he elected to reposition away from the Marksman instead. Two Sword Knights charged the Decimator and another three ran to just gum up my flag; the others started on the business of killing Risen. Blondie elected to take the auto points of damage with the two charges, taking out two cortex boxes.

The Gunmages killed Alexia and some Risen and Nyss. The Defender shot at Beast 09, which allowed him to advance forwards; I was hoping to be able to engage the Sword Knights in order to make him harder to hit, but that would have involved walking into charge range of the Avenger, who hadn't activated yet, so I stopped short. Still, this at least took Beast 09 out of Avenger AOE range of the closest Nyss Hunters.

Instead the Avenger dropped his AOE on four Risen; he killed three but in retrospect it should have been four as he spent focus boosting the damage on the one who was directly hit; if we had remembered that it was at full power for him then Blondie would have spent the focus boosting damage on the one who actually survived instead. Anyway. Stryker killed another Risen with a gunshot, leaving only the one who cheated death basing the flag.

Round 3:
After a lot of measuring and planning, I finally settled upon a plan. Strakhov would cast Overrun on the Decimator and Superiority on Beast 09. He would then slide past the Sword Knight and along with the Marksman (and possibly Holt if neccessary) try to shoot the two Sword Knights blocking Beast's charge. Any shots left would go into trying to take out one Sword Knight from the group around the Decimator in order to leave one without the DEF bonus from being in base contact.

Beast 09 would then charge the Avenger; I wanted to charge at Stryker himself but that would force Beast to leave Old Rowdy in his back arc, who could then counter-charge him and possibly cripple a system. By charging the Avenger Rowdy would only be able to use Retaliatory Strike, doing less damage. Beast would then wail on Stryker, hoping to leave him Stationary (MAT 10 with three attack dice meant a pretty good shot of triggering the crit).

Now the Decimator would have two chances to trigger Overrun, allowing Beast 09 to shuffle to the side and open up line of sight to the stationary Stryker. This would allow the Nyss Hunters and possibly Holt to try to finish him off.

With the plan carefully thought out to avoid any order-of-activation mistakes and make sure I didn't do my usual nonsense and block my own lines, I began. The Marksman killed one of the blocking Sword Knights with his Sentry shot. I then let Sentry expire for the focus (we checked the rules and that is how it works). Strakhov loaded up Beast, snuck past the Sword Knight (not that a free strike would have been too big a deal really), cast Superiority, then rolled 3 shots. First I tossed his Cinder Bomb at the Decimator; it missed but still covered the two closest Sword Knights with the scatter. I only killed one; the perfect result as the Decimator would have the easiest time triggering Overrun now. His first gun shot killed the second Sword Knight in Beast's path, and the other two shots missed the one closest to the Marksman.

Beast 09 charged in, put a hurting on the three jacks and left Stryker stationary with his first attack, burning through Stryker's only point of Focus. The third attack killed him easily.

The forums always talk about how good an assassin the Grolar is with Strakhov, but I've always figured Beast 09 should be pretty good too thanks to Murderous, while bringing more anti-infantry game (especially with Overrun making it less risky). Blondie should not have simply ignored him when he got close; if he had popped his feat I would not have gone for the assassination. Blondie said later that he forgot that Beast had a 2" range on his axe, which is completely fair (and partly my fault) as I've been using my mini-Juggernaut as a proxy.

I probably should have used Strakhov's feat there for the free charge, as the extra attack would have significantly increased the chance of triggering the crit, but I'm not sure the Avenger was actually in Strakhov's control area; I had originally considered charging the Sword Knight in order to be able to Sprint closer, but with no Focus on Strakhov himself I would have been betting a lot on one attack against DEF 15. About the only thing I think is "wrong" with Strakhov now is that he's not good at triggering his own Sprint without Focus; since he often wants to trigger Overrun and Sprint, having Powerful Charge instead of Brutal Charge and/or some way of making more than one melee attack without spending Focus would be nice. I mean, a damage buff would be even nicer, but that's probably asking too much so I won't do it (although... Silence of Death... think about it PP!).

Aiyana & Holt & Valachev were 12 points that did LITERALLY NOTHING AT ALL that game. The original idea was that Aiyana would put Kiss on whichever jack the Decimator was shooting at then Zephyr back to safety in the early turns. Later I would Kiss whatever I wanted to charge, and possibly kill Valachev so I could Kiss things for Alexia or the Nyss to work on as well. But I didn't get her up far enough in the first couple of turns, and after that the game ended. I still think they have value, but I'm wondering if bringing a Rager for Shield Guard and another potential assassin could actually be more valuable. Although perhaps two 5 point shield guards would be even more valuable? The other module I've been thinking of spending those 12 points on is a Forge Seer with a Berserker, but I don't think it's worth it without a way of handing out free charges (which Strakhov's feat only does for his battlegroup). Maybe with a Sorscha.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Have You Ever Wished Your Own Warcaster Would Just Die Already?

Unfortunately I didn't have time to write this game up for a few weeks so my memory of the details is pretty hazy. Also I was very tired from work when we played so I think I made even more mistakes than usual.

I ran the same list as my previous game, however due to the CID changes to the costs of Beast 09 and Berserkers I had 4 more points to spend on a Widowmaker Marksman:
Strakhov 1
- Beast 09
- Black Ivan
- Berserker
- Sylyss
Andrei 1
- Kodiak
Cylena & the Nyss Hunters
Alexia & the Risen
- Valachev
Widowmaker Marksman

Blondie played:
Stryker 1
- Old Rowdy
- Defender
- Avenger
- Squire
Journeyman Warcaster
- Hunter
- UA
Sword Knights (min) x2

We picked the rulebook scenario with a simple central zone. Terrain was placed with some degree of randomness by throwing the pieces vaguely towards empty spaces on the table, resulting in the overlapping forests (which we were treating as two separate forests even though that was bit confusing). Blondie won the roll and chose to go second, picking the side of the table with forests.

I positioned Strakhov to head for the protection of the forest on the left. Andrei went on the other side. The jacks were all pretty central. The Nyss Hunters joined Strakhov in aiming for the forest. The Risen clustered around the jacks.

Blondie spaced out his jacks and sword knights. The Gunmages faced off against the Nyss. He kept his casters well back.

Finally I put the Marksman near Strakhov in order to receive Sentry.

Round 1:
Superiority on the Berserker, Sentry on the Marksman, Occultation on the Risen. I held my Nyss mostly behind the forest, Strakhov hid in the shallow water, while the Marksman moved up to be able to take shots next turn. Andrei made sure to keep some ablative wounds - I mean Risen - in Sucker range.

The Sword Knights moved up and formed a wall. Stryker and the Journeman again stayed as far back as possible, while the Gunmages advanced (and whiffed the few shots they had LOS for). The Hunter ran up ahead. Rowdy faced off against the Kodiak. I think the Journeman's Arcane Shield went on the Avenger while Stryker's went on Rowdy. I think he put Snipe onto the Defender.

Round 2:
First of all, the Marksman took his Sentry shot against the Defender. He needed a four to hit.

Sigh. Alexia sent a Thrall into the Hunter (which I'm not sure she should have been able to do as she should have been out of formation... oops), which missed his attack. The Nyss Hunters killed some Gunmages, a few Risen moved up to contest the zone, and the Berserker overextended. Because I'm stupid.

Rowdy killed the Berserker. The Sword Knights ran up to jam my lines. The Hunter moved up and tried to melee stuff. Stryker popped feat.

Round 3:
I put another Thrall into the Hunter; this one managed to connect, but...

I was very stupid here and neglected to put Superiority on Beast; instead I had him Thresher to kill a bunch of Sword Knights then Overrun backwards, but he didn't exactly get that far back. Black Ivan killed Lanyssa I believe. The Kodiak did nothing. The rest of my models just killed a few Sword Knights and Gunmages.

Rowdy charged in and killed Beast 09 (with the help of the Defender I believe). The Hunter, Sword Knights and remaining Gunmages killed a few Nyss Hunters. Stryker switched Snipe onto himself and disrupted Black Ivan.

Round 4:
With Stryker on 0 camp and the Feat over I thought it might be a good time to go for an assassination now. I came up with a plan that involved the Kodiak throwing the Avenger at Stryker (in retrospect I think throwing at the Defender would have had the desired effect with less chance of failure as I would have been rolling against DEF 12 instead of DEF 16) and then putting some shooting and a Thrall into him. After some thought I decided that I needed one focus to boost the throw against Stryker, and then one to boost the damage, so I with only one focus to boost attacks rolls against the Defender I would boost the chain attack - that way if either initial missed and I didn't get the chain attack I could switch to just buying more attacks to do damage with. Well, the initials landed but when I went to boost the chain attack...

So that was it, plan over. The Kodiak did what he could to the Avenger. I tried to put some damage onto Rowdy with Alexia (who need to roll high to do anything, which she didn't seem inclined to do) and a Nyss Hunter or two, even going so far as to feat just so that Black Ivan could reach him. Luckily Ivan rolled hot on the charge attack so it wasn't a complete waste.

Without focus Rowdy couldn't do too much damage, but apparently he could do enough to kill Alexia. The Avenger wailed on the Kodiak and knocked him down, then Stryker and the Defender castled up around him. I think the Hunter melee-ed some more Nyss.

Round 5:
There was some confusion when it came to Rowdy; initially I thought I had crippled his buckler and was doing one extra damage, but I keep forgetting he's a lefty so I might actually have crippled his hammer? Anyway, at the end of the day I managed to take him down. I think that's about all I did this turn.

Blondie finished off the Kodiak and started focusing down Black Ivan. Even the Journeyman Warcaster decided to leave his trench and pitch in:

For some reason I decided to use Black Ivan's Evasive ability to move up with each shot he took.

Round 6:
The Marksman landed his Sentry shot into the hunter and I decided to roll damage, which turned out to be a good decision:

Not sure why I rolled the column dice as the Widowmaker can choose. I could have crippled it's movement if I chose the right column, but decided to bet on crippling the cortex or left arm with the following Nyss charges instead. Both charges missed because of it's high DEF, leaving the Hunter fully operational. If I hadn't been so stupid I probably would have destroyed it this turn. I focussed Strakhov, Ivan, Andrei, and the Marksman's shooting into Stryker himself, landing a few good shots and knocking him down to about four boxes left.

The Avenger (and maybe some other shooting) finished Ivan, knocking down Strakhov as well. The Defender went in on Strakhov but I don't think he'd allocated it much focus; I don't really remember, but the point is Strakhov survived. Stryker switched Arcane Shield to himself.

Round 7:
I'm pretty sure I conceded this turn (or maybe it was last turn), but Blondie said we might as well play it out - we both figured it wouldn't be much longer anyway. Anyway, I think I put some more shooting into Stryker, with Strakhov ramming the Defender away in order to aim and take some more shots, but clearly it wasn't enough.

Again, I think I screwed up the stats here for some reason; I'm pretty sure I said the jacks hit on 10s when in fact they hit on 9s, which I think is the only reason Strakhov survived on one box when the jacks went in.

Oh, the Hunter and Hunters continued their slapfight, and Stryker ran back to the trench.

Round 8:
I tried again to put some shooting into Stryker but with the trench, Arcane Shield and focus I did nothing at all. Strakhov tried to Ram the jacks away but whiffed (even with help from Sylyss) and decided to camp his focus. I did kill the Squire though, which left the Cygnar jacks out of control.

Without focus the jacks couldn't hit Strakhov.

Round 9:
I finally manged to ram the jacks away, then put some shooting into the Defender, doing some damage. I killed the Journeyman at last, taking away Arcane Shield. I think Andrei aimed and tried to shoot Stryker, to no avail.

I believe it was the Avenger who finally managed to roll a 9 and finish off Strakhov.

The game went on FOREVER! Partly because we chose to play it out, and I'm pretty sure partly because I kept getting stats mixed up meaning Strakhov survived far longer than he should have.

The Avenger made an excellent bodyguard for Stryker because he the Stationary effect on his 2" melee weapon would shut down any Overrun assassination attempt cold. I mean, it's not Crit Stationary, it's JUST Stationary. And it's not limited to his activation the way the Grolar's Knockdown is.

I made really poor use of my upkeeps; I never recast Superiority after the Berserker died, and at one point I let Sentry drop, only to recast it later.

I basically gave the Berserker away for free. No excuse for that.

If I had been more focused with the Marksman's shooting he could have done a lot more work that game.

As much as I love Alexia, I'm not getting much done with her lately. She doesn't crack Arcane Shielded armour (not without Valachev and a Butcher), her Risen haven't done any work lately, and even her Thralls did almost nothing this game. Sigh; I miss MkII Alexia and Madelyne Corbeau. I think I should drop Valachev and just user her as a 10 point tarpit; force the opponent to spend attacks on Risen rather than Nyss Hunters. Either that or go Morrowan.

In retrospect I should have sent Andrei in to attack Stryker in melee, but I didn't expect things to last long enough for him to reach and I was trying to aim instead.

I actually think I could have won the game if the Kodiak hadn't whiffed his attack roll; although the fact that I was planning to aim the Avenger at Stryker meant it was still far from guaranteed. I was a little hazy on the throw rules; having re-read them since then I believe that I could have aimed at the Defender and still knocked Stryker down, which would have been far more reliable.