Tournament Report I

This past weekend I had a chance to get out to a local event that served as a qualifier for a local invitational.  A great local organizer and player (and also writer – see the link to his blog below left) organizes the circuit and also a running commentary on it including periodic updates on faction representation.  Prior to this event he noted that there were only two factions that had not yet made an appearance at a qualifier (of which there had been three): Legion and Convergence.  I have no plans to play any Legion, but I’m not averse to Convergence, and I’d put in two weeks of play into the faction a few weeks ago (five games total) which was surely enough to show up and round out some statistics at an event if nothing else.  This entire set of events makes use of the Master’s packet as well, making limited factions and their invariably formidable ADR sets that much more appealing.

I ended up taking two lists fairly similar to those I’d built and used previously, though as much because I hadn’t played enough games to be sure of their shortcomings as any affirmative reason.

My list set was as follows:

Main List – Axis

(Axis 1) Axis, the Harmonic Enforcer [+30]

– Corollary [6]
– Diffuser [6]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Inverter [15]
– Inverter [15]
– Inverter [15]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Optifex Directive [4]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

Sideboard

Diffuser [6]
Inverter [15]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

Main List – Orion

(Orion 1) Eminent Configurator Orion [+28]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Corollary [6]
– Diffuser [6]
– Diffuser [6]
Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex [2]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

Sideboard

Diffuser [6]
Inverter [15]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

The event ended up being more well attended than I had expected it to be, given that it was happening concurrently with Captaincon (and a shout-out both to Charles Soong for his strong results there generally and to local Anthony Gibbs for a strong weekend as well).  There were 20 total players (19 and also the organizer as a pitch hitter) and slightly bizarrely 5 Retribution players, and resultantly a total of 9 Arcantrik Force Generators in evidence.  I haven’t been abreast of the cutting edge of Ret list technology, but apparently there was a memo circulated that never reached me, because there were a lot of fairly similar Rahn and Elara II builds about (naturally in Defender’s of Ios).  While my practice games hadn’t provided me a chance to play into Ret, I assumed that an AFG v. TEP fight would be miserable, and so hoped not to have to do that.

I did.

Round I – Pit II

Axis (plus TEP, Minus Three Galvanizers and Optifex Directive)

Vs.

(Rahn 1) Adeptis Rahn [+26]
– Chimera [8]
– Chimera [8]
– Discordia [18]
Aelyth Vyr, Blade of Nyssor [0(5)]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Priest of Nyssor [0(4)]
Priest of Nyssor [4]
Ryssovass Defenders (max) [16]
Stormfall Archers [9]
Arcantrik Force Generator [17]
Arcantrik Force Generator [17]

This was, as was a theme for the weekend and I have found is a theme for Convergence, a grind.  The the early game involved my trying to leverage Axis’ strong ability to build a strong attritional advantage in DI to push myself far enough ahead that I could coast.  I did pull ahead initially – particularly in removing the Chimeras quickly and making relatively short work of the Defender unit (which I’m not sure I totally understand the inclusion of – but Michael Ireland has endorsed as being sort of alright given the support available in this list to which I say “whatever”).  My opponent intelligently focused on putting himself in a position to be able to strip the TEPs of their defenses and to start to actually grind them down, lest they run away with the game against a somewhat ranged reliant force.  I eventually lost one on my right flank, but at the same point in the game that I collapsed his, and at the end of five turns we both took a moment to assess and recognized that the game itself was very close but that my ability to score absent any dramatic shifts likely would outpace his over the remaining two turns.  This compelled my opponent to commit Rahn himself to help to clear the central zone to shift equilibrium back his way, which left him in a position to threaten a scenario win, but also within 11” of both an Inverter and Diffusor.  The latter aimed and, with its Lucky reroll, pegged the Adeptis, resulting in an assassination win at the end of turn six (I had gone second).  This was a close game throughout, and the final breakdown reflected it – we had both scored 82 army points and I had a slim scenario lead at 7-6.

Having rolled that particular boulder up the hill once I hoped not to have to again, and did not at least immediately.  I was instead paired against another local player whom I know to be a very tough out and a fellow Mercenary player (though a more faithful one).  I was worried he might drop MacBain but he felt that my lists didn’t suit the offensive options available to him with MacBain, so instead he dropped Magnus II, while I dropped Axis again out of concern that Orion’s ranged focus would be too stifled by Countermeasures.

Round II – Breakdown

Axis (as in the first game)

Vs.

(Magnus 2) Magnus the Warlord [+28]
– Buccaneer [6]
– Freebooter [9]
– Freebooter [9]
– Nomad [11]
– Nomad [11]
– Nomad [11]
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution [0(6)]
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist [0(4)]
Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor [0(5)]
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord [0(4)]
Kayazy Assassins (max) [15]
– Kayazy Assassin Underboss [4]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt [8]
The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers [8]

This time I was able to go first and leveraged that into a very strong early game again (as I am increasingly finding it is easy to achieve with Axis, but which I might want to eschew for a stronger long game given that Convergence doesn’t easily provide the tools for fast scenario wins.  I feated on my second turn (which I believe I did in each instance of playing Axis – I might also want to reconsider that habit because I wasn’t incredibly reliably gaining significant offensive value by using it this way) and largely via TEP attacks took both Freebooters and one Nomad effectively out of the fight before they could effectively engage (with some strong early damage rolls).  Magnus was more patient in using his own feat, and only did so on the fourth turn after having sent in his remaining models and putting both TEPs in danger of being removed with relatively little effort (both ended that turn on five boxes).  I wasn’t overly worried at this point – each TEP was still capable of swinging the game significantly, but became more concerned when neither accomplished a great deal on my next turn – one particularly flubbed its attacks such that of the Devil’s shadow, Eiryss, and two Eliminators it removed only two members of the DSM (I had chosen to make four attacks with three dice to hit on the turn, a configuration that did not prove as reliable as I had hoped).

Magnus took a chance on his turn to execute a scenario gambit and, removing both battle engines, pushed ahead enough that I was not necessarily likely to be able to equilibrate over the remaining turns.  I was left, however, with a shot at Magnus, both an Inverter and Diffusor were in range but engaged by his Buccaneer.  Axis solved that problem by advancing into the scrum and using Battering Ram to clear my lanes and the Diffusor/Inverter pair again ended the game.

Having survived two grinds with Axis I was hoping for a reprieve and possibly a round in which I felt happy with the prospect of Orion, because at this point we were guaranteed to play only four rounds and I was obliged to find a fit for him in the next two.  This did not exactly work out for me – I was dealt another very strong local player for round III (who was also already qualified and crushing dreams throughout the event) who was certainly going to drop his well practiced Kreoss III list.  I did not like the idea of playing Orion into that because it had the range and the mobility to present too many significant threats for Orion to address at once, and without any control effects and backstopped by (poor) Convergence defensive stats he would struggle to hold up.  Fortunately, however, I did think that Orion would be acceptable into either of the other undefeated players – who were playing either Madrak I and Kolgrimma as a pair or Kaelyssa and Ossyan – in the event that I made it through the round.  So I once again dropped Axis.

Round III – Standoff

 
Axis (as previous)

Vs.

(Kreoss 3) Intercessor Kreoss [+28]
– Reckoner [16]
– Redeemer [11]
High Exemplar Gravus [9]
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord [4]
Vassal Mechanik [1]
Vassal Mechanik [1]
Vassal of Menoth [0(3)]
Wrack [1]
Choir of Menoth (min) [4]
Exemplar Vengers (max) [20]
Exemplar Vengers (max) [20]
Idrian Skirmishers (max) [15]
– Idrian Skirmisher Chieftain & Guide [0(5)]

This was the least smooth early game of the event for me – my opponent did a good job of spreading his Vengers so that it was not easy for me to either pick up a dramatic attritional advantage over them or to control his engagement via Circumpotence entirely.  In retrospect this may be an instance in which I want to pair my TEPs so that I can more reliably make dramatic inroads in attrition against a single unit of Vengers and have access to Axis (aha) to feat on the other to help get me through the risk of taking huge chunks of damage at a time from even a couple of cavalry charges.

I also somewhat overestimated by ability to clear Vengers quickly with TEPs (and rolled a little poorly, but not dramatically so).  I consistently put one Servitor each into ROF, Hit and Damage dice and sort of assumed that needing slightly below average rolls in all instances entitled me to kill every Venger I shot at, which it did not and I did not.  While his Warjacks did not contribute to the fight to a huge extent (the Redeemer’s melee damage actually did more than anything else) this was actually a more even to slightly poor attritional fight for me, which prompted me to become more aggressive with my battlegroup towards the center of the table.  On my fifth turn I put one Inverter into his Reckoner – crippling but not destroying it (both its Mace and Cortex were out) and another into the midst of his remaining few Idrians.  Significantly both were potentially in range to threaten Kreoss on the next turn.

The one mingling with his infantry was dealt with by Kreoss himself, who ended the turn on two focus.  The other was left entirely functional but a little scuffed and engaged by his semi-functional Reckoner, a Venger, and the Redeemer, which had done the damage to it in melee.  Not happy with my future prospects I put together a plan to clear that Inverter for a shot at Kreoss, though I did not have a neat way to entirely unengaged it (and Kreoss was at an angle that wouldn’t allow the use of Unstoppable Force to avoid any free strikes).  The Venger was dealt with easily enough via a charging Galvanizer, and I hoped to clear the Redeemer with a boosted Battering Ram from Axis himself.  I carelessly failed to note the scatter of a Flare Servitor early in the turn, however, (it had moved up to point blank to improve my odds of hitting the Venger, which was very nearly base to base with the Redeemer) and missed the boosted roll by one (which was entirely my own fault, we had agreed to just note Flare on the Venger without rolling a deviation at my request).  Instead I was faced with a Free Strike from both of the Warjacks.  It is actually fairly hard to cripple systems on Vectors because they have strange, spread out grids, but I was only working with around 18 hit points at this point and enough damage to the right column was liable to remove the Meteor Hammer, without which I certainly wasn’t assassinating anyone.  After setting things up by Flaring Kreoss and hitting him with the Diffusor I hoped for the best and got very lucky – after both free strikes and relatively poor damage rolls I was left on 13 boxes, but with all systems on the Inverter, which dropped Kreoss with its final attack.

I was a little chagrined to have to get to the finals that way, my opponent played the game very well, but there wasn’t anything to do but to drop Orion and hope for the best.  My luck continued as it turned out to be Retribution I’d face, and a pair not particularly well equipped to handle the fairly unique set of problems he poses.

Round IV – Outlast

 
Orion (Plus a TEP and Inverter, minus two Assimilators and the ADO).

Vs.

(Kaelyssa 1) Kaelyssa, the Night’s Whisper [+29]
– Banshee [18]
– Banshee [18]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Dawnguard Sentinel Scyir [0(4)]
– Hydra [15]
Lanyssa Ryssyl, Nyss Sorceress [0(4)]
Dawnguard Sentinels (max) [18]
– Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard [4]
– Soulless Escort (2) [2]
Dawnguard Sentinels (max) [18]
– Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard [4]
– Soulless Escort (1) [1]

Far from facing my just desserts for locking myself into Orion for the final, I was given a game in which he was pretty dramatically advantaged.  Taking the first turn I moved my TEPs and battlegroup into position to threaten through both zones and prepared to sandpaper, looking also to take the Sentinel units one at a time if I could to punish them for their mediocre threat ranges absent Vengeance.  He both Feated and mini-feated in order to help to get himself through the prospect of a very hard engage as best he could but was also conscious that he couldn’t simply throw the Sentinels forward because not even their relatively formidable armor would reliably hold up against the TEPs.

It did not, though because he was cautious in playing around my TEP kill zones I focused on chewing through about half of one of the two units and doing damage to his Hydra and Scyir on my next turn, semi-consciously ceding one TEP to force his forces closer.  That TEP did go down in response, clearing a zone and allowing him to build an early scenario lead but the remainder of his infantry was exposed as a result, and the second TEP combined with Ground Pounder shots to remove most of it and further damage the Hydra as well as chip the paint on one Banshee, and I scored in retaliation to leave him up at this point 2-1.  He started to move his battlegroup models into the fight at this point, and removed my Inverter, which had committed to help remove the last of the Sentinels.  He did not score, however, and I did, leveling us at 2-2.

Both a Banshee and the Hydra ended his turn with focus on them, which prompted me to feat, and I moved to start pushing for a scenario win via attrition, leaving him with a scuffed Banshee (it had taken something like 8-10 damage) as well as two Sentinels with weapons, a Soulless, the Standard for the surviving Sentinels, and Lanyssa, who had been hiding in one zone behind a forest.  I scored both flags at he end of the turn to put myself ahead 4-2.

There was relatively little he could do to alter the inevitable tide of attrition at this point, but I did not have an enormous amount of time left (about four minutes) so he committed his Banshee to doing damage to one of my two Assimilators, both of which were in the zone occupied by the Myrmidon and behind which Kaelyssa was camping out behind a wall.  The other models mostly moved into range to contest both flags.

Starting the turn up two I needed to score three to win outright, and thought I could, needing only to clear two models contesting my flags and to finish the Banshee to be able to move Orion into that zone.  It took a little longer to do the latter than I expected, but six focus worth of attacks from my Assimilators (Orion had activated earlier and moved into that zone to shift to MAT 6 which, combined with a Flare, made melee a less dicey proposition) eventually did it in, and the flags were cleared without issue, allowing me to end the game with about 30-40 seconds on my clock.

Had things really gone south I would hopefully have had the win on his next turn – as Orion was fairly safe from Kaelyssa (he had two Shield Guards and was camping four) and none of his remaining models would have been able to reach the zone Orion occupied to prevent my scoring it.

All in all I was at least as lucky as good throughout the day, but was very happy to have a chance to roughly double my experience with Convergence in a trial by fire.  I’m not so sure I’ll be so fortunate if I run into either of my last two opponents in the invitational (top three in each qualifier receive invites) but I look forward to finding out.

Thanks for reading!