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So, it’s been a while huh?  In the spirit of just doing the damn thing and getting the ball rolling once more I’m endeavoring to put together a series about a summer league in which I’m participating – which means plenty of battle report fodder.  The gist of the league is that there are coins – eight of them, one for each of the original factions – distributed across a few states.  Player participants are to challenge a coin holder in order to win one and then do their best to hold onto it through their own challenges – a sort of a multipart king of the hill.  This will eventually culminate in a tournament and in the meantime provides an impetus for games as well as bragging rights for those who can manage particularly impressive runs with one of the coins.

I wound up getting my first shot at becoming a coin holder this past week – taking aim at the Trollblood coin (not one I particularly targeted, but the one I was in a position to play for).  The rules (and instructions for participation if you’re in the right general area and want to) are fully available here, but the essential details are that games are to be at 75 points in a two list SR format.  The game was played on Recon (the new SR 2018 iteration) and featured Shae on my end and Issyria on the part of my opponent.  More exactly he brought this:

[Issyria 1] Issyria, Sibyl of Dawn [+29]
– Banshee [18]
– Hemera [16]
Aelyth Vyr, Blade of Nyssor [0(5)]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Arcanist Mechanik [2]
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios [0(7)]
Fane Knight Skeryth Issyen [0(8)]
Ghost Sniper [3]
Ghost Sniper [3]
House Vyre Electromancers [8]
– Soulless Escort (1) [1]
Ryssovass Defenders (max) [16]
– Soulless Escort (1) [1]
Arcantrik Force Generator [17]
Arcantrik Force Generator [17]

and I brought this:

[Shae 1] Captain Phinneus Shae [+28]
– Freebooter [9]
– Nomad [11]
– Nomad [11]
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios [0(7)]
Lord Rockbottom [0(4)]
Rutger Shaw, Professional Adventurer [0(4)]
– Freebooter [9]
Savio Montero Acosta [0(6)]
Alexia Ciannor & the Risen [10]
Idrian Skirmishers (max) [15]
– Idrian Skirmisher Chieftain & Guide [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt [8]
The Commodore Cannon & Crew [7]
The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers [8]

Deployment and First Turn

He went first (them’s the breaks when you decide you don’t need to bring Stacy – which by the way you do) kept both AFG’s fairly central with the Defenders, combat solos, and Hemera pointed towards his right hand zone and close flag, with the Banshee and Electromancers going the other way.  I kept my deployment fairly neutral, but put the DSM and both units of Eliminators towards the left hand zone where they could fight into Ret infantry that their attacks were well suited for and the battlegroup models slightly right of center so that they could use a forest to avoid as much AFG fire as was possible on the way in.

On his first turn Issyria put Inviolable Resolve on the Defenders and Admonition on the Banshee, then cast Crusader’s Call to help the AFGs get up the table.  I responded on my first turn by putting Phantasm on the Idrians, Storm Rager on Acosta, and doing what I could to keep his really debilitating offensive tools from being effectively in play.  Alexia moved up to take advantage of whatever corpses would be generated and Acosta hid just behind a pillar on my side of the right zone, waiting to hopefully free up his charge lane with a Vengeance move.

Second Turn 

This turn largely bore out my positioning choices, as nothing really horrendous happened, but I didn’t do a particularly fantastic job playing around exposing some of the Idrians to electroleap shots from the Electromancers (they should have been pushed farther forward than they were and the ‘jacks should have been more closely packed to use their ARM and the flag to absorb bounces).  The Idrians paid for my shortcomings to the tune of five models.  One of the Freebooters also took a hit from his Banshee, though because of Lashed and DEF 12 the ancillary chaser missed, and as a result it wasn’t in bad shape by turn’s end.  I was doubly punished as Acosta wasn’t provided a Vengeance move because of the non-attack nature of electroleaps.  Alexia, at least, picked up all five corpses.

If there’s one thing that Shae encourages its a reach that exceeds one’s grasp – he provides enough threat on top of the strange vectors the list already has that it always seems like he’s poised for a knockout punch that you may or may not see soon enough to throw it.  In this case I had aspirations of an assassination because Issyria was only around 17″ from the marshaled Freebooter, and there’s often a way to make up a little distance via least disturbance.  My fundamentals saved me from myself, because while I didn’t actually manage that (I did knock her down) I did manage to have a productive turn towards the victory conditions that were more realistic.  Shae gave two to his Freebooter and then went fairly early in the actual turn sequence, moving up, feating and casting Coup de Main.  A Godspeed move provided me with a way to get Admonition out of the way early in the turn, and five Idrians got into the Objective to clean it up.  Another ran into melee with the Banshee to set up Gang for the marshaled Freebooter now that I knew where the Myrmidon was going to be for the turn.  The Eliminators got into the Defenders, killing six total and sidestepping their way up the field – one getting into contesting range of his flag and another getting into a trench in melee with Eyriss.  The DSM trailed after, and Moreland used a Payday coin to clean up two more Defenders while the others set up in a trench to continue the grind on my next turn.  The Marshaled Freebooter then went in (Crush!) and did about twenty damage to the Banshee before throwing it onto Issyria (this was the point at which I should have recognized that I didn’t have and didn’t need that kind of hail mary play on the turn and used a headbutt and my final attack to likely wreck the heavy instead) while the other Freebooter took care of the remaining Electromancers.

All in all it was an effective turn with a couple of missteps (the Cannon didn’t fire) which nevertheless put me in a position to put on serious scenario pressure – I took my zone and flag and with the objective went to 3-0 before passing the turn back.

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The game as it was at the end of my second turn – the scenario heat has been turned up.

Third Turn

On my opponent’s third turn Issyria counterfeated and the Ret army hit back pretty hard.  Issyan, the remaining Defenders, and Aelyth cleared off the Ret. flag and Eyriss, and she then shot but did not kill Moreland.  The AFGs and the Banshee (much the worse for wear but still hitting with a busted 2″ sword) managed to take down both Freebooters between them, and Hemera took out three more of the Idrians.  A ghost sniper got another on the right side to use its Swift Hunter move to get into my zone to contest, but nothing got in on my flag, and so scoring remained even on the turn 1-1 to put me up 4-1 when he passed back to me.

Needing only to kill the Ghost Sniper I moved in Acosta (MAT 11 ya’ll) and then Moreland ran in to block scoring on his flag and, that accomplished, I ended the game to win at 6-1 and take hold of the Trollblood coin.

Post Mortem

So a fairly effective outing despite a muddied plan.  Mercenaries are a fairly strong faction on scenario and while they don’t always have incredible tools to actually kill AFGs (then again who does?) they do have ways to pressure lists with them to punish their relatively static threat.  I don’t think I made perfect use of my resources in this one, but I did, at least, keep my eyes on the prize in making sure I was making efficient scenario plays on each turn, and that was ultimately a plan I was better equipped to pursue to a successful end to the game.

The quality of Shae as a warcaster is a somewhat divisive issue among Mercenary players.  I’ve been positively impressed so far – I both enjoy playing him because he lends himself to divisive lists full of microsynergies and dynamic activations and while he hasn’t quite been Ossrum so far he hasn’t seemed obviously inferior to Ashlynn, who I view as the quintessential respectable but not intimidating Mercenary warcaster.  He has the ability to generate a lot of assassination pressure, however, which is fairly unique in Mercenaries as a natural result of balanced list building (you can design for it but the faction doesn’t exactly encourage you to) and that combined with his mobility and very Mercenary ability to generate impressive trades with spare parts (something like a Thrall warrior, a hand cannon shot and a Freebooter for a Cadillac heavy) adds up to a Warcaster that I think deserves consideration as a legitimate competitive option.

This should be the first in a series of posts about Coin League games – about my defenses for the short term, and perhaps about challenges for other coins in future.  Thanks for reading and I hope you’re back for more!