Wednesday, October 3, 2018

He'll Slit Your Throat From 'Ear To 'Ear...

For my second game with Andrei "MacGruber" Malakov I made only very minor alterations to my list:
Andy 2
- Beast 09
- Destroyer
- Sylyss
Alexia & the Risen
- Valachev
Cylena & the Nyss Hunters
Kayazy Eliminators
Widowmaker Marksman

Blondie had decided to revisit the original Stryker:
Stryker 1
- Old Rowdy
- Avenger
- Lancer
- Squire
Sword Knights x2
Archduke Alain Runewood

We went back to the rulebook for a basic two-zone "first to five points" scenario. I won the roll and chose the side with the forests.

Blondie deployed his two units of Sword Knights in waves, interspersed with his battlegroup. His forces were a little more concentrated on my right.

I decided to focus my forces on the right zone, so I deployed my infantry on my right. Andrei was pretty much in the center with his jacks to his left. The Eliminators faced the left zone, with the Marksman joining them in Advanced Deployment.

Round 1:
Blondie ran around the watery terrain to converge on the right zone. The front unit of Sword Knights got Blur and Rowdy got Arcane Shield. He originally intended to put Snipe on the Avenger but mixed up his activations and couldn't get it out.

My infantry spread out. Andrei cast Escort and advanced onto the hill. The Marksman got Reposition; coupled with Swift Hunter it allowed him to still move five inches into the rear of the left zone after popping a Sword Knight. Beast 09 ran in front of Andrei. The Destroyer took a shot at something and missed, scattering harmlessly. Alexia sent a Thrall running to engage the Lancer, to try to complicate his activations.

Round 2:
Blondie killed the Thrall and pushed his Sword Knights into the zone, then ran Rowdy right up to my lines, and feated. He also arced an Earthquake onto a Risen, knocking down Andy, Beast, Alexia, and some Risen.

An ARM 28 Rowdy right in front of my lines is a scary thing. I needed to create some space. So pretty much the first thing that I did was to slam Rowdy back with the Destroyer. He landed on top of four Sword Knights, displacing them out of base contact, which meant they could be knocked down. Two died to collateral damage. Beast 09 shook and ran into the left zone. The Marksman took three boxes off the Avenger and headed towards the far left of the left zone. The Eliminator flanked around the zone, heading to wards Blondie's back line. Andrei sacrificed his action, walked over to the left, feated, and dropped a Veil just touching Beast 09. The Nyss Hunters took two big CRAs: one killed a Sword Knight, the second - taken off  Cyelena - whiffed hard on damage and failed to kill a second Knight. Once again the Nyss Miss disappoints me! Risen just jammed forwards. Alexia sacrificed movement to kill a knocked down Sword Knight with her handcannon. I think I dropped Reposition this turn.

Round 3:
My (rather obvious) plan had been to bait the Avenger into swinging on Beast 09 so I could walk closer to Stryker, but of course that didn't work because the Avenger's sword causes warjacks to go Stationary. For some reason I was mis-remembering it as causing Distruption. Anyway, the Avenger crippled Beast 09's axe and left him on a handful of boxes.

Old Rowdy rolled snake-eyes on his charge attack on the Destroyer. He took ten boxes total by the end; I didn't advance away because he would get to counter-charge, instead I walked around him to try to get into his back arc while engaging him. Turns out 4 inches of movement isn't enough to do that though.

The Sword Knights and Lancer cleared the right zone, allowing Blondie to score a point. Blondie dropped Blur this turn, apparently figuring that he wouldn't need it now that the lines had met.

Andrei put Fighting Dirty on Alexia, charged and killed a Sword Knight in the left zone, then cast Reposition on himself and walked futher into the left zone. Sylyss chased after him to body-block. Beast 09 flailed helplessly at the the Avenger; I rolled very low and did pretty much nothing despite having a full focus load.

Alexia walked up to Old Rowdy and boosted the attack roll to be sure of knocking him down. Valachev himself walked up and took a long spray across Blondie's lines, killing something like four Sword Knights. Nyss shooting killed a few more.

This meant that the Destroyer would not take a free strike or be counter-charged when he walked up to attack the Avenger. Looking at the photos now I suspect that I might have forgotten that with Escort gone he could only walk 4 inches. Oh well, I think things would have turned out exactly the same if he had charged instead.

Out of four attacks, my Destroyer rolled crits on two! On the first crit he rolled a ten, for eight damage... which exactly took out columns six and one, so the crit was useless...

And on the second he rolled snake eyes... at dice minus two, meaning he didn't mark any damage on any columns, meaning the crit did nothing...

It's kind of amazing really. I don't believe I've EVER gotten any use out of a Destroyer's crit! Anyway, the Eliminators finished the Avenger off and the Marksman got started on Rowdy's cortex column. With the left zone cleared I scored a point.

Round 4:
With his forces suddenly depleted, things weren't looking too good for Blondie. He sent Old Rowdy into the Destroyer, scrapping it, and even taking out an Eliminator while he was at it. Blondie made sure to have Rowdy toe the zone so I couldn't score. Meanwhile Runewood, the Lancer, and the rest of his Sword Knights tried to take out Alexia and Valachev, but thanks to a succession of poor dice rolls they both survived with minimal damage!

I had an opportunity here: in order to both take out the Destroyer and contest the zone, Rowdy had turned his back to me. This gave me an idea. Andrei put Throat Cutter on the Eliminator before charging Runewood and a Sword Knight who were engaging Alexia. It took four focus, but eventually he killed them. I used his remaining focus to cast Open Fire on Beast, swinging with his axe (I believe he was too far away to use his fist). I needed a 2 on one die and rolled a 1. Sigh. Finally Andrei repositioned slightly to be a bit safer.

Beast 09 then activated and used a one-handed throw to chuck Rowdy out of the zone. This made it easy for the Marksman to put another shot into his column four. Finally the Eliminator charged Rowdy in the back, delivering a four-dice Combo Smite and cranking the damage roll to do a full ten damage:

As fun as that was, it still didn't cripple any systems. Oh well, at this point one more Widowmaker shot would be enough to cripple his cortex. But more importantly, this turn Alexia had been able to return seven Risen to the table. After the Nyss Hunters cleared the way and took out the last of the Sword Knights, Alexia was able to walk into the Lancer's back arc and start swinging away. By the time I was down to two Risen left, the Lancer was on his last box. For some stupid reason I left the last two Risen and instead took a swing with Valachev. Luckily he landed the hit and cranked the damage roll, taking out the Lancer and triggering Battle Wizard. This allowed me to Zephyr into a more defensive position. At the end of the turn I scored both zones, bringing me to three points.

Round 5:
Stryker killed the front Risen with an Arcane Blast, then charged in and killed Alexia and Valachev himself. Oldy Rowdy and the Squire ran up to cover him. Since my Nyss Hunters had been hanging back all game I didn't have anything else contesting and Blondie scored a point, bringing him to two. Meanwhile I scored a point for the left zone, bringing me to four.

I simply ended my turn to win the game 5-3.

Honestly, if Blondie hadn't dropped Blur it would have been a different game, seeing as I killed most of his Sword Knights using ranged and magic attacks. Plus the dice really went my way on the last couple of turns, with Alexia surviving a ton of attacks and rolling consistently average-to-high against the Lancer.

We both had a lot of trouble with facing this game. I guess that's because of the way that the lines met and merged, with models getting into each other's back arcs and so on.

Discussing things afterwards, Blondie was saying that he should have split his Sword Knights into left and right groups and sent one to each zone rather than having two lines that headed to the same zone. He's probably right; they didn't get to do too much work, at least partly because they were jamming each other up. We also figured that two units were too much in a 50 point game; Sword Knights take buffs well, but you can only really buff one unit at a time. Plus I reckon at the end of the day they are mostly just there to keep your opponent busy while the rest of your army does the real work.

I think Blondie made better use of Stryker in some ways this game than before; the way he used his feat was good, and might even have been better if he jammed me clean out of the zone (he didn't advance as far as he could have because he was worried about moving Stryker too far forwards; probably a legacy of playing against Strakhov so much). Plus engaging Nyss Hunters would have put them at a big disadvantage due to Sword Knights good DEF when in melee under Defensive Line, and of course their MAT is higher under Runewood than the Nyss Hunters'.

Blondie was experimenting with Arcing spells this game, but unfortunately he was also trying to use his Lancer to support his Sword Knights by giving them Flank. Which means getting his Lancer engaged. Which prevents it from Arcing...

I always have trouble dealing with Rowdy with Arcane Shield. This game I focused on controlling him with knockdown, slams and throws - I didn't really know what else to do. In retrospect I've realised that I could have put Alexia with Throat Cutter into Rowdy instead of the Lancer. That probably would have let me finished him, though it would have been at the cost of me scoring in the other zone. Alternately I could have just charged Andrei himself into Rowdy and Repo'ed away afterwards even if I didn't finish him since I was in his back arc anyway (and Beast could have still thrown him afterwards). Ah well, I didn't think of it at the time and things worked out in the end; hindsight and all that.

I do feel like Throat Cutter is an important piece of kit of Andy, but it's not at all easy to use. Alexia with Valachev might be one of the best units for leveraging it though: Zephyr makes it easier for her to get into back arcs than it is for most models, she can stack it with boosted attack rolls even without charging, she can place Risen directly into back arcs (possibly even far enough to charge in for boosted damage as well). Plus of course cheap Sucker! targets.

Anyway, it was a fun and educational game for us both. I'm enjoying Andrei, but he is a bit of strange caster by Khador standards, not bringing much in the way of straight stat buffs. I like that he has abilities that benefit both jacks and infantry, and his own survivability is actually pretty good if you make an effort to keep him safe, I just feel like I can't quite figure out how to make the most out of his abilities. Perhaps running more jacks to leverage Escort and the Feat would work better, or maybe I should take multi-wound infantry (which I don't really have) to get more benefit from his feat?

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