Monday, August 20, 2018

Journeymen Warcasters Grow Up So Fast...

After finding Harkevich a little boring to play, I decided to try someone more interesting: Kommander Andrei Malakov. It seems like only yesterday that he was but a junior, doesn't it? I tried not to make too many changes to my previous list, but I did take out Aiyanna & Holt so I could fit some Eliminators. This allowed me to swap Valachev over to the Nyss Hunters; overall the changes gave me some good targets for Andrei's battle plans.
Malakov 2
- Beast 09
- Decimator
- Wardog
Widowmaker Marksman
Kayazy Eliminators
Alexia & the Risen
Nyss Hunters
- Valachev

This was Blondie's second game with Stryker 2; this time he brought his Gunmages:
Stryker 2
- Old Rowdy
- Defender
Journeyman Warcaster
- Defender
Gunmage Captain Adept
Arcane Tempest Rifleman
Harrison Gibbs

We picked a 2017 scenario with... a whole lot of scoring real-estate. I won the roll and chose to go second, picking the side of the table with a forest in the middle.

Blondie put his Gunmages on my right, and his battlegroups a little to my left. I decided to focus my forces on his weak flank, so I deployed almost everything on my right, with only the Eliminators facing the left zone and the Widowmaker on the left side, in the forest.

Round 1:
Blondie activated the Journeman and cast Arcane Shield on Old Rowdy... then forgot to advance the solo. His battlegroup clustered around the trench. The Gunmages ran forwards.

I got a little careless here and advanced the Nyss Hunters too far up. They clustered around so that Andrei could drop a cloud over them. I also gave them Reposition, while Andrei put up Escort. The warjacks moved up and formed a wall with most of my models behind them. The Eliminators stood on a hill. The Marksman pinged one of the Defenders for three boxes.

Round 2:
Since I had walked my Nyss within 14" of the Gunmages, Blondie was able to aim and kill 4 grunts. His Defenders put some damage on the Decimator, but since the Journeman's defender started the turn out of control he didn't get focus to boost damage with so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. The GMCA killed my Widowmaker. Rowdy ran into a position to contest two zones.

I made sure all my Nyss Hunters were in the right zone; they killed a few Gunmages but rolled quite cold and didn't do as much as they could have. The Decimator walked into the square zone and Bulldozed Rowdy out. Beast 09 moved up the right flank, threatening the Gunmages (I didn't really know what I wanted to do with him, but I figured drawing a bit of fire away from the Nyss Hunters might not be a bad idea). Andrei put a cloud in front of the Decimator, meaning it would be a little bit inconvenient for the Defenders to shoot at him. Some Risen walked up to shield the Nyss Hunters, while Alexia created a Thrall who ran up to engage some Gunmages. The Eliminators both toed the zone - I figured this way he would only be able to kill one of them with the GMCA. At the end of the turn I scored two points.

Round 3:
The GMCA did kill one Eliminator. Stryker feated (did you know his feat was a pulse?), cast Positive Charge on a Defender, then went over and killed the other Eliminator using Velocity. The jacks started running up. The Gunmages killed the Thrall and pushed the Decimator but couldn't get him out of the zone. The Rifleman pinged Beast 09; I took advantage of this to move him farther away from Blondie's jacks. Because of this he wasn't able to get two of them into Beast with the Feat moves and had to put two into the Decimator instead, making sure that the arcane-shielded Rowdy was touching both zones. The Decimator lost his movement and left arm. I think Beast 09 had only one cortex box left but didn't loose any systems. Blondie scored a point for the left zone.

After a great deal of deliberation, I decided on a plan. Andrei let all his upkeeps slip and filled up both jacks. Beast 09 walked around to be engaging both the Defender and Rowdy; after his initial Thresher he bought attacks into Rowdy. Because Blondie had unnecessarily turned Rowdy to face the Decimator directly, he wasn't able to make a Retaliatory Strike. Before I rolled every attack I prayed for a crit; on the second to last attack my prayers were answered.

The Decimator focused on the Destroyer, doing a lot of damage but not managing to finish him off. Andrei then cast Open Fire, allowing Beast 09 to put one more attack into Rowdy, and put Throat Cutter on the Nyss Hunters. The Risen shuffled around while Alexia sent a Thrall to contest the far zone. Finally the Nyss Hunters charged Rowdy. At one point Rowdy had one box left so I tried to finish him off with Valachev (this would have triggered Battle Wizard and allowed me to cast Zephyr), but he just failed to break ARM. Overall I was rolling hot though and they killed Rowdy with attacks to spare.

However I had moved the Nyss out of the zone and not thought to move Andrei into it, so I did not score (I don't remember if solos scored the round zones so I don't know if I should have scored a point with the Wardog).

Round 4:
Stryker killed the Thrall and cast Deflection. A Defender and/or the Rifleman finished off Beast's cortex. Gibbs killed a couple of Nyss Hunters with a grenade. Gunmages killed more Nyss Hunters and pushed both my jacks out of the square zone, knocking down Beast 09. However even the GMCA was not able to kill the one Nyss Hunter who was engaged by the Defender, so Blondie only scored one point for the left zone.

I was planning on standing Beast up and walking up to enage the Defender so Andrei could cast Open Fire for one attack, but I screwed up my order of activations. Instead Beast just walked around to try to engage the Gunmages along with the Defender. Andrei cast Reposition on the Decimator, walked into the zone, and whiffed a boosted shot at something. The Decimator finished off the other Defender and repositioned as far away from Stryker as he could while still toeing the zone. Valachev tried to kill the Journeyman with a spray which also touched two Gunmages; his failed to roll all three 7s. Cylena then also failed to roll a seven. The last Nyss Hunter aimed and finally managed to kill a Gunmage. Alexia positioned herself to potentially be in Stryker's back arc if he tried to charge the Decimator, and sent a Thrall at Stryker himself. I scored two points this turn.

Round 5:
Stryker killed the Thrall and toed both zones. The Gunmages pushed the Decimator out of the square zone, knocking him down, and killed all the contesting infantry. The Defender killed Beast 09 and toed the right zone. Blondie scored two points. We where now both at 4.

After some consideration, Andrei cast Veil on some Risen in his path, charged the Defender and knocked him down with a boosted Fighting Dirty charge attack. This allowed the Decimator to stand up and land a boosted shot from his crippled cannon, pushing the Defender out of the zone and allowing me to score my fifth point for the win.

That was a fun game. Both of us were playing a little differently from usual. Blondie's gamble with the feat did not pay off, although it might not have been a bad idea seeing as Beast 09 out-threats his jacks. Running his jacks out of his control range was a mistake. To be fair though he was a little distracted during the game. Also, we were both a little vague on the exact rules for Steamroller 2017 as we've only played 2016 before (even though SR 2018 has been out for ages).

I had some positioning and order of activation errors. I gave away a bunch of Nyss for no reason at the start. I didn't get to use my feat either; I probably should have played my jacks more agressively using the feat to keep them alive (although now that I come to think about it Stryker's feat counters mine to some extent: he can get two attacks in with each jack if we both feat, and with Positive Charge and damage boosts that can mean a fair bit of damage.

Neither of us contested as aggressively as we should have; I think a lot less points would have been scored if we had.

The Decimator was surprisingly useful this game, but he wouldn't have been as effective if Blondie had thought to block the pushes. I'm thinking of swapping him for a Destroyer or Kodiak.

I thought the Wardog would be cool for charging in to deliver Fighting Dirty then Return again, but I was too scared of him getting shot to death and ended up saving him for late game. As a result he basically didn't do anything all game. Still, due to the target limitations on Andrei's battle plans it doesn't hurt to have a fast FF warrior model hanging around for when you need him.

The GMCA and Arcane Tempest Rifleman did quite a lot of work this game. I should probably try to prioritize killing them, but for some reason it tends to feel difficult because of their long range.

Andrei is interesting. He feels very focus starved. His battle plans are cool but the short range and target restrictions are a bit of an issue. Throat Cutter seems rather hard to use effectively. Fighting Dirty is nice, especially as he can use it on himself. I want to like Open Fire, but it's just very situational unless you build for it (i.e. Victor), plus it's expensive to cast and there's order of activation issues. Veil seems very powerful, but I think it's going to take a lot of skill to make the most of it.