Another game night past and two more defenses on the books. Let’s get to it.
Challenge V – Ossrum vs. Vyros II
We rolled up Standoff for the evening and, as tends to happen when you’re living clean and packing Stacy Di Bray I won the roll off and went first. For the week I was packing Ossrum and Damiano as my list pair – the former a slight variant on the very battlegroup heavy standard that’s served me well over time (partially to help with the list’s ability to get through durability skews) and the latter an Irregulars list that was put together to see how a Damiano list that was really built around Warpath held up. Warpath is a powerful and interesting spell, but one that was historically largely wasted on Mercenaries as a faction. MK III has helped to alleviate the biggest hurdle – the lack of focus to really maximize the mobility the spell provides a larger battlegroup – and while Damiano’s Kingmaker lists are strong they’re not especially dynamic – which can make for a slightly monotonous experience if you play the list heavily. The evening provided me with a good chance to give each a look – so let’s see if they held up under pressure.
The two list that I was set up to play into were Elara II in Shadows of the Retribution and Vyros II in Forges of War. The latter particularly is a fairly tough nut to crack, which seemed like a good litmus test for Ossrum, whom I put down. Conveniently, Vyros was the reverse drop, which set us up for a good, old fashioned grind.
Deployment and First Turn
I deployed fairly neutrally – leaving the option to get Snipe onto either Eiryss or Kell available as well as to put Fire for Effect on Eiryss or Jonne. After his deployment and my advanced moves I ended up deciding to get Snipe up on Kell to let him activate more or less however he wanted to on Turn Two and Fire for Effect on Jonne as more a default than anything else. Energizer & Bullet Dodger (probably on Eiryss) may in retrospect have been a more productive use of the same focus on the turn. My overarching plan in this one was to try to get Griffons off the table as quickly as possible and to generally try to pick fights on my side of the board rather than on his – so as to make it harder for his entire force to push damage at once while allowing me to do so. I didn’t expect to have realistic looks at an assassination except in the late game nor at taking out Imperatus until there wasn’t very much else to commit in his list – it’s too hard a target to reliably reach out and remove except by combining a Basher and Driller activation and one that I expected to be precious to my opponent, and so protected if he could afford it. My opponent spent his first turn moving up as well, not making attacks except for a missed Disrupter Bolt by his Eiryss targeting a Driller in a Trench (funny but not actually important – it didn’t use its focus on the following turn). Vyros started with Synergy up because of the Forges theme benefit and cast Deceleration during his activation.
Still not inclined to pick a fight in his friendly zone I was fairly conservative on my second turn – keeping my Drillers mostly out of harm’s way (the far left Driller was left out of 11″ but within 13″ of one Griffon on its side to invite a high resource and hopefully low output activation to prompt an eventual two for one trade on that side and to push Vyros to make a hard positioning decision to extend Synergy so far to toward the board edge. Ossrum upkept nothing and allocated two focus to the vanguarding Basher. On his activation he moved up to put Snipe on Gorman (who’s just on the other side of that watch tower in the image above) and to cast Energizer. He held his feat on this turn – the Perfect Plan had yet to come together. Gorman moved up around the Gazebo in the middle of the table and popped the most forward Griffon with Rust. A few shots from Eiryss, Kell, Holt and two Blasters were put into it (the latter partially to get the lights forward to make it harder for Griffons and Imperatus to dig into my lines) which pushed a little damage and a shield guard from both Imperatus and another Griffon. The Basher then did its part – slamming the Rusted Griffon back into Imperatus and then following it up and finishing the job with bought attacks – getting the trade train started and getting another lower value model in the way for the following turn.
Things mostly went as I expected on the next turn. Imperatus was given a hot cup of coffee and then rolled pretty poorly, only just killing the Basher (this happened a couple of times – Imperatus didn’t show especially well on the game and rolled tepidly but was saved by having such strong profiles into its targets that it nevertheless generally got the job done). Vyros himself moved up to contribute a little damage on one of the Blasters before moving back and feating. Eiryss managed to roll a four and so did disrupt the Driller hanging out in the left zone and a few Griffons were pulled in between the left and right contingents to take care of the two Blasters that would otherwise have made hash of his support models. The most forward Griffon used fleet and dove deep to take out Eiryss and Kell, who I’d left too close to each other, and to contest my zone. He scored one point at the end of the turn for his friendly zone – ending the round 0-1.
Having reeled in a number of Griffons I resolved to take as big an attritional bite as I could – visions of a four or five Griffon turn danced in my head. The result fell a little short of that high end, but was still productive. Ossrum upkept nothing and allocated two focus to each of the two Central Drillers and to the remaining Basher on the left. He began activations for the turn by feating as well. Stacy embarrassed herself a little by hitting Eiryss with a charge in her back arc and then failing to kill her, but she at least tied her up for the turn cycle. The Driller on that side, disrupted, walked over to a Griffon and put in its initial attacks. Ragman went next and gave the Forge Guard the go code – moving over to use Death Field in a position to debuff the Griffon that had snagged my solos on the turn before. The Forge Guard then proceeded to push a fair amount of damage – killing the one Griffon easily and taking both arms off another, and dealing about half of the boxes on a third. This also left most of the Griffons that had been committed tied up, and so not in a position to save themselves with a feat move – that move went to a Magister on the far right instead. The Drillers then activated, taking out another of the left side Griffons and putting the second on its last legs. Imperatus took the resulting feat move, moving a little towards the left zone and out of range for either Driller to get any ideas. The Basher followed that up with a poor performance on the Griffon the Forge Guard had put two charges into – missing a couple of attacks and only further roughing it up (taking out movement and its shield I think but nothing else). The Eliminators capped the turn by capping the second left side Griffon. I ended up deciding to focus on attrition and so didn’t use an activation to contest on this turn, settling instead for scoring myself, ending the turn 1-2.
On his next turn Vyros took it on himself to take care of Gorman, moving up and shooting him as well as putting a damage roll on a Blaster. The armless Griffon contented itself just boosting to hit a Forge Guard but couldn’t hurt it (at more than -5 with only one damage dice) while the other managed to take three with a full activation’s worth of attacks. Imperatus then had another shaky activation into the second Basher – finishing it to the box. The Remaining left side Griffon then had a less productive activation into a Driller, scuffing paint but ultimately leaving it with all systems up after boosting and hitting one of the Eliminators. Eiryss and an Arcanist between them couldn’t land a shot on Stacy, though the Arcanist at least missed while in the zone. He scored his zone again on this turn but didn’t contest mine – as he was running out of low cost activations to enable him to do so. The turn ended then at 2-3.
The tide was turning, and so I resolved to translate that into moving forward toward a scenario win this turn. Each of two Drillers were Given two focus while Ossrum sat on two for an Energizer move. Ragman threw another lob up and the Forge Guard wrapped up their fight with the Griffons on that side. Stacy redeemed herself by taking care of Eiryss and the remaining Eliminator took care of the Arcanist currently in the zone. One of the fully loaded Drillers teamed up with the Driller which had only powered up to take care of the last Griffon on that side and the other Driller with full focus took out an Arcanist in his friendly zone and the objective. That left me with control of my own zone and the left circular zone, and poised to score his friendly zone as well if my remaining Blaster could just clean up the final Arcanist having a smoke in the back right (Vyros was in it as well but I wasn’t doing anything about him and of course I didn’t have to). The Blaster, however, had other ideas and missed its boosted seven. The Turn was a pretty good one despite that, and ended with me up 5-3.
On his turn he was faced with a rapidly diminishing set of resources, but Vyros still had himself, and wanted me to know it. He did, and killed five Forgeguard with his activation before backing away. Imperatus did its part as well, and took out the Driller that had popped his objective. In the right side zone a Magister ko’ed Herne as well. On the other side his Arcanists couldn’t do much but did get themselves in the zone. He scored his, and I scored mine, so the turn ended 6-4.
The end was in sight, as the side zones were rapidly opening up to scoring. The left side was a fairly sure thing, with plenty of attacks to deal with two Arcanists. The right side was less sure, as the Magister was likely dead with both remaining Forge Guard within 4″ to walk and swing in his back, but another Arcanist sat on a hill towards the back end, asking me to hit either DEF 17 with Holts guns or DEF 15 with a Boneshaker. The left side wrapped up without incident, as Stacy took out one Arcanist and Ossrum himself the other with a boosted gunshot. The right took a little more effort – as the Forgeguard didn’t impress. One missed the four to even hit the Magister and the other hit but didn’t actually kill. Fortunately Jonne, who moved to the side to leave room for a last ditch charge from Holt, finally did the deed, hitting the Magister with his axe. Holt then was more impressive, advancing and rolling the nine he needed immediately, taking care of the Arcanist far more smoothly. The Eliminator finished my activations by running around into his zone to contest, and the game ended 9-4 in a scenario win.
Defense VI – Captain Damiano v. Aurum Adeptus Syvestro
The Crucible Guard pair that was presented for the second challenge of the evening was one that looked like a good test for Damiano – a Toro-heavy list with Locke and a more infantry heavy list with Syvestro. Neither seemed to be outside of his range – the one presenting a reasonable amount of armor but not so much that a little +3 Strength couldn’t make headway and the other the prospect of super high DEF Rocketmen – but then Damiano is about as capable as they come of dealing with DEF skews. Syvestro ended up being the drop, and as has become a tradition my +1 to go first was the less effective of the two.
Deployment and First Turn
My opponent deployed his battlegroup centrally with his Assault Troopers and Artillery paired to my right and his Rocketmen and Forge Guard to the left, somewhat behind a forest just out of his deployment zone. These pairings helped me line up my fights fairly well for the early game – the Idrians were set up to move to skirmish with the Rocketmen (who were declared their Prey) and to follow up into the Forge Guard if things went well. The Eliminators also were deployed toward the left – both because those two targets were where they’d be best used and because that allowed me to keep them away from the Rockets and so safe in the early game. The Battlegroup kept mostly central but was shifted slightly to the right, ready to fight against their counterpart warjacks and against the heavy infantry. Kell and Eiryss also went that way, happy to have easy to hit targets with Carapace but only five wounds to pick on. On his first tun Syvestro moved up and put Transmutation on the Rocketmen and Admonition on the Suppressor. The Piper put Dirge of Mists on the Rocketmen and they ran – trusting in DEF 18 and needing to get forward both to begin to operate as a relatively short offensive unit and the best bet for early contesting pieces in the Crucible Guard list.
That didn’t quite suffice, as at RAT 7 with Prey and with the help of Deadeye from Damiano (who also cast Road to War) the Idrians were able to take individual shots at the Rocketmen which they could draw a bead on and were a coin flip to hit. The unit also used its minifeat to Go to Ground and took out five Rocketmen in total (those which they could see). The Eliminators moved up behind them, making sure not to give up backstrikes if Hutchuk wanted to try to charge one after ambushing in, and the warjacks, Forge Guard and Alexia started establishing themselves on the right side. Kell moved up to threaten through the right circular zone while keeping out of 11″ of the board edge and with rough terrain to hold off Hutchuk and Eiryss moved into a forest (and too close to one Idrian) to Disrupt the Suppressor.
The Vindicator punished the misplacement of Eiryss by taking her off the table with blast damage after aiming and boosting to hit the nearby Idrian. The Suppressor moved up and managed to take care of two more Idrians with its sprays as well as doing a couple of damage to the Freebooter and lighting it on fire. Rhupert mixed things up by pipping tough onto the Rocketmen, and then Syvestro Revived a couple and they mostly just moved up to establish a presence in the left zone and in my defensive zone while using Defensive Action to keep up their DEF 18. The Alchemists directly hit another Idrian and corroded another. The rest of his list just ran to continue to set up for future turns. Hutchuk, without a juicy target, simply ran into the right zone to screen my Nomad from his Assault Troopers.
On my second turn I decided that I should feat – more to help myself weather what was going to be his highest leverage offensive turn than for offensive benefit (something that proved more true than I’d expected based on later activations). Damiano allocated one to the Toro and two to the far right Nomad, keeping two to Deadeye the Idrians. He did, and then feated on his own activation. The Idrians continued to impress, aiming almost across the board and just hammering the Rocketmen, missing only a single attack on the turn. Orin, stupidly, activated before them, however, and so missed a boosted 11 to Chain Lightning rather than waiting to clean up a model that made a tough check and was knocked down. The Eliminator units moved in to clean up some of the models that did tough, and to start working towards his friendly zone and to control his ability to contest on the left. The Buccaneer (the Vanguard model – I didn’t quite pack right) contributed as well, getting behind a Rocketman in my zone and boosting to spear it. The Freebooter, as is often true, was fungible enough that it went in on the Suppressor to take care of its Admonition move and to get into the far zone. Alexia then set up the Toro for a second charge on the Suppressor by gunning down an Alchemist and it went in and missed all of its attacks – the only attacks that would have meaningfully benefitted from the offensive part of Conquest on the turn (though because the Idrians were absolutely lights out all game I don’t have much complaint equity on the whole). Kell set up Anastasia with two shots into Hutchuk and she finished the job with a charge on the other side. This would have allowed my Nomad to walk in on two of the Assault Troopers, but would also have taken it out of my control area and so out of range to be protected by Conquest, so I instead sat on its focus. The other Nomad, however, punched another Alchemist to get into position to back up the Toro. I scored at the end of the turn 1-0.
Syvestro did feat in response and used the Suppressor to put Rust on both the Freebooter and the Toro. The Suppressor then punched but did very little actual damage to the Toro – it was still swinging at -7 on its damage rolls. The Rocketmen, aided by two more Revives (Syvestro also swapped Transmutation onto the Forge Guard using his free cast) put their Slug Guns into the Freebooter, doing much better damage, and moved up one last time to contest my zone. The Vindicator also blasted the Freebooter, putting it in dire straits. The Forge Guard were somewhat screened by the forest on the left, but both finished off the Freebooter and took out one Eliminator in each unit. Morely used Revivifier as well. The Assault Troopers went in on my heavies on the right – and despite the help of the feat did only okay damage – because of Conquest they were rolling uphill. The two rocket batteries gunned down Stacy – neither hitting but the two managing to kill her between them (I think the first probably should have because it didn’t declare a shot type and then left her on two boxes – which would have been lethal had it used Withering Humor). With the Toro still in his zone no scoring occurred, leaving us at 1-0.
On my third turn Damiano dropped Road to War and just dished out four focus – two each to the Toro (which was largely fine but had lost its shield arm) and to the central Nomad (which was entirely functional). Alexia took out one Assault Trooper on a charge, and the Nomad took down three more. The Toro took out the remaining one and put two swings into the Suppressor – making reasonable inroads. Kell deprived one of the rockets of its two crewmen and the two remaining eliminators cleaned up four Forge Guard between them. Damiano then had a play of the game moment by aiming and using Blaster to hit five Forge Guard with POW 12s (they weren’t benefitting from Wall of Steel at the time) and improbably all five failed their 4+ tough rolls. Orin redeemed himself by taking aim at and boosting to hit the remaining Forge Guard, rolling three leaps and taking out three Rocketmen, though the Forge Guard survived via tough (tough rolls were few and far between this turn). The Buccaneer took out another Rocketman as it had the first and the Idrians cleaned up – taking out the remaining Rocketmen with aimed shots before swapping Prey to the Forge Guard and popping both the one downed member of the unit and Morely, finally swapping Prey to the Objective for one shot and a few damage. That left me with the left zone firmly won and two more points at the end of my turn for a 3-0 lead.
In a bad way on scenario and with his resources running low my opponent decided to concede. After the game we talked about how this game was a good illustration of the value of the idea of pairing pieces – which can be especially important as the first player. In a given matchup some element of a list can be the clear target of something in the list opposing – like the Rocketmen as (in multiple ways) the prey of the Idrians in this case or the Forge Guard as especially vulnerable to the Eliminators. When this is true, and especially when the element of the list isn’t especially mobile and so can’t easily redeploy (again Forge Guard are a good example) one can try to make the best of things by pairing that vulnerable piece with the list elements that most effectively threaten the bullying piece – the artillery pieces in this case. This idea worked out fairly well for me in an earlier tournament game with Connie B into Lich III. There I backed up my Idrians with Gallant. When my opponent buffered the Preyed Slayer with Cloak of Ash I was able to make the most of my paired modules by unleashing Gallant to paste the first Slayer with Purgation and then make inroads into another while also setting up the Idrians to swap Prey to another Slayer for a big damage burst into another durability skew. This buddy system approach can help cover holes and make the most out of the lemons in a given matchup.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!