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Hey all, this is a (now slightly belated) write-up for the team event at the Bokur Brawl – an East Coast regional team event hosted each fall in New Jersey (scheduled for the first weekend of October next year and an experience that I can’t recommend more highly, so if you have the chance I’d heavily, heavily encourage rounding up a team and making the trip – look for more information here).

The DMV (District, Maryland, and Virginia) area put together two teams for the event this year – Mollywhopper Teams Roosevelt and Lincoln.  I was on the latter, which had a lineup that looked like this:

  1. (Captain) Mark Male – Minions – Rask & Maelok
  2. Robert Male – Circle Orboros – Una 2 & Krueger 2
  3. Chris Dumm – Protectorate – High Reclaimer 1 & Harbinger
  4. Bruno Del Alamo – Trollbloods – Kolgrimma & Gunnbjorn
  5. Myself (Jeremy Posner) – Mercenaries – Ossrum & Magnus 2

A full rundown of the list sets for every team (including my own) is available here.

I was fairly happy with my preparation going into the event, particularly in doing as much as I could to get up to speed on a warcaster that I have relatively little experience with in Magnus II (whether I should have been taking a warcaster I wasn’t very fluent with to a team event is another thing entirely).  As befits a Mercenary pair I didn’t have any matchups that I felt were pure dodges – lists that I could not let my team ask me to play into and have any kind of ability to provide a useful performance – but I generally wanted to avoid Cryx as much as I could, and then didn’t relish playing into a few other things (Judicators for one) but then nobody really wanted some of those games and I had no better reason than anyone else to want to avoid them.

Round One – CID’s Nuts – Circle Orboros

Feeling comfortable with my lists and broadly with my ability to deal with a lot of common problems in the field immediately paid off as I ended up being dealt a Circle Pair in Round One (Krueger II/Bradigus) that I didn’t relish playing into but which I felt comfortable navigating.  Ossrum v. Bradigus is a very slow, careful game on both sides and one that is very much about value – Ossrum needs just about everything in his list to have at least one really high value activation before it’s traded off and because the game is likely to be in the 5-7 round range the immediacy of that payout is much less important.  I ended up going first in this one – something which isn’t necessarily that easy to capitalize on in the matchup because Ossrum can’t really crowd Bradigus well even with his feat up, but which let me prevent the opposite from happening.

Turn One – I did cross my fingers that I might mise my way into taking a Sentry Stone on the top of one, and so tried to leave my lanes with Kell as open as I could, but Steve used a central building to keep them safe, and given that they’d be prowling from the Bottom of One onward I just backed Kell and Eiryss off to keep my 9 points of damage around over the long haul to facilitate trades – my experience has been that any value that you think you’re getting by playing the two aggressively in the matchup is less than you get being able to produce ~54 damage on priority targets over a full game (unless you’re either pushing for a win or staving off a loss on scenario).

Turn Two – After Steve similarly had relatively little to do on his first turn I was provided a potential vector to get one Driller into a Guardian on my second turn, but with relatively little support.  I would also be able to put my Bashers into Wold Watchers.  This kind of initial offensive line is firmly below the value threshold that I tend to hold out for in the Bradigus matchup.  What would likely happen in this scenario is that I wouldn’t kill any of the Beasts I went into (or might kill one Watcher that I could leverage my damage support to push on) and then would likely lose the Driller and multiple Bashers in return without actually really forcing a feat from Brad (or might let him take a second Driller by Feating if I tried to push the rest of the battlegroup up to have follow-ups for my trades).  This is a line that probably runs me out of gas on attrition by turn Four or Five, which wasn’t the place that I wanted to be.  So, I instead went for the slower developmental turn and tried to make sure that (1) I wasn’t going to lose any Drillers (2) that I had good lines to play back-to-front if Steve played into me aggressively and gave me Watchers or Guardians in my face and (3) that he couldn’t make major scenario inroads to punish my passivity.  Eiryss and Kell did their things on the turn and my two units of Eliminators postured on hills on each side of the table while one Basher tried to set up one of his Watchers for a future trade while also getting into his zone.  Things roughly played out as I’d hoped they would – I did end up losing an Eliminator to a charging Wight on my left side, and the Basher I’d sent in was summarily  crushed by a Guardian, though it at least drew that Guardian out of stones and into a position that made it harder to leverage ideally going forward.  Steve ended up scoring the far flag and his own zone, ending the turn 0-2.


Turn Three – I felt reasonably happy about how conceding early tempo to preserve longterm value had set me up for my third turn, as I had a pretty good route to getting my Forge Guard into a Watcher he’d put forward to contest my zone and stall me out and then looking to combine two Driller activations and potentially some chip damage from Eiryss and Kell to take out a Guardian with my feat up, hopefully then only giving up a single Driller in return and then being in a position to take out a second Guardian to get up and over an attrition threshold that would be enough to get through the rest of the game.  Things largely worked out, as Ragman and Gorman amped up my Forge Guard to chew through the forward Watcher, allowing the two Drillers to get forward and to take out his Guardian, while I did better than I should have in putting real chip damage on a couple of Watchers in the area with another Basher and my Eliminators, all of which also got into his zone.  I think I accidentally took the third Basher off of the table entirely at some point in this turn (just entirely removed it without its ever having taken damage), which led to some confusion going forward but was my own mistake, and so something we just shrugged off and played through.  Having cleared my own zone and contested his I scored back, 1-2.  His retaliation turn was somewhat stifled by his having to consider how best to work towards re-clearing his zone of models with a diverse set of difficult statlines (17-11 on the Eliminators, 10-22 on the Basher).  As a result he had to make some concessions that led to a less than ideally efficient offensive turn, and so left both of my committed Drillers alive (one without cortex but with and both arms, the other more or less intact though out of my control area anyway).  We both scored our zones at the end of this turn 2-3.

Turn Four –  Having weathered the early storm I endeavored to start building a scenario advantage.  On the turn I used a combination of the Forge Guard, battered Drillers, and the Third Driller trailing in their wake to take out a second Guardian as well as two previously damaged Watchers, leaving him with one of each as well as his Sentry Stones as the bulk of his remaining fighting force.  I put one Blaster as far toward the back of his zone as its speed would allow and sent Eiryss over to score the now clear far flag, tipping things my way 4-3.  Steve again had to somewhat divide his efforts in a way that cut into his ability to do damage, and ended up removing one Driller and  seriously damaging the previously undamaged one with his remaining Guardian, but leaving me with one entirely combat capable and another with at least a right arm to contribute going forward.  Not realizing that my light warjacks were Sturdy (no pushes) he did good damage but could not get the Blaster out of his zone shooting it with Bradigas, and further didn’t contest mine, ending his turn with me up 5-3 and in a position to win.

With one point secure from my own, uncontested zone I needed either to score one flag and remove his objective or to score two flags.  He’d managed to take down Eiryss with a Mannikan on his turn but had only contested that flag with that single model and was only contesting my friendly flag with three Mannikans from the other unit.  This left me to clear the four with a combination of Kell, Jonne, and Blasters, before running Ragman and Gorman to each flag for an 8-3 scenario win.

Takeaways – I can attribute a lot of this game to my having played this matchup a lot, possibly more than any other in MK III (much to the displeasure of Michael Stone, who had the same Circle Pair on the other Mollywopper team).  As a result I had a pretty good sense of the game and was sure from the outset Who the Beatdown was (neither list actually but more Brad than Ossrum if either) and so was able to make almost entirely value oriented decisions over the course of the game – trading a small initial scenario deficit and very little focus efficiency over my first two turns for very high leverage turns in the midgame.  My dice also cooperated, which is something that is more important in the Ossrum v. Brad game than in many, because Ossrum has the edge in cost efficiency but pays for it in often being able to set up ~70-80% plays for pieces that he can pay for dearly if he flubs.  I didn’t in this one and as a result pulled out a win.  My team did the same, getting through the round 4-1.

Round Two – The Team with No Name – Circle Orboros

Round Three – The Influentials – Mercenaries 

Round Four – Mollywhoppers Team Roosevelt – Cygnar

In round four we had the bad luck of being paired up against the team we’d traveled up and prepped with, though bad luck only insofar as it meant we were going to be playing a lot of games we’d played before – we knew going in the quality of competition was going to be more than we could have asked for.  We lost the initial roll (which provided the winning team the choice to either choose three of five matchups total or to choose the tables each matchup would be played on) and were given choice to tables, but less say in who we’d be playing into.  Having played each player on Roosevelt at least once (and most significantly more) and having the benefit of having discussed matchups for their pairs prior to the event (though of course they had the same from me) I was fairly sure of who they thought had the better games into my pair and who would, in an ideal world, want to dodge me.  I had expected, if the other team wanted to line up an even or better matchup into me, to be given a game either with Donnie Gallitz’ Legion pair (and probably Kallus I in Primal Terrors, though he felt comfortable with Fyanna 2 as an option in that scenario as well) or Ryan Babcock’s Skorne pair and specifically his Zaadesh II list.  Both Donnie and Ryan are very strong players, and I didn’t think either was particularly wrong about having a pretty even game into the lists I’d brought, but I didn’t think either game was much worse than even, so felt comfortable being a flex option throughout the process.

Team Roosevelt’s internal assessments, however, had led them to prefer their matchups holistically in a scenario that left me driving the bus, so instead I was given a game with Anthony Gibbs, seller of a great many Minutemen, generally in sets of five.  Anthony was (I think) captain of Team Roosevelt, so personally maneuvered things so as to have this game, though it was one that he had rated as at least a soft dodge going into the event (based partially on our last Ossrum v. Sloan game which went very well until Ossrum declined to remain in cover for no clear reason in retrospect).  So, we ended up playing that game again, though because I had both Anastasia and had been able to pick tables he had the treat of having to go first on a board that gave me a very convenient wall to feat and push tempo with.

Turn One – Compelled to go first, Anthony moved up with an eye towards making sure I wasn’t going to be able to feat and run to engage his Hunters.  He crucially forgot, however, about my ability to Snipe Eiryss, and so left me with an angle to take a titanic tempo lead on my own first turn.  I did, Sniping Eiyrss and disrupting Sloan while putting Bullet Dodger on Ossrum and walking up to camp on two behind that flag, screened by layers of Dorf Armor and sure that without the ability to put up Guided Fire even a desperate assassination line just didn’t have any teeth.  Otherwise everything ran screaming up the board – this is a 100% tempo oriented matchup for Ossrum – he can get through Sloan’s list much faster than the reverse if he can force it to largely fight up in a pocket, and going second he can compel that by threatening to entirely swamp any central zones.

Turn Two – Anthony did his best to do what he could with a rough table state, making strong targeting decisions and getting through one Blaster and a number of Forge Guard while also taking Eiryss off of the table – though her damage was already done.  He did his best to make Sloan as safe as possible by using a patch of rubble to zone my battlegroup to a degree and moved her as far away as he reasonably could (as far as he could without killboxing himself, which would probably resulted in an immediate scenario loss given how strongly I had asserted control over the middle and left hand zones).

Every tight play in the world wasn’t enough given how much the matchup allowed me to control the pace of the game and how hard being disrupted had shut down Sloan’s ability to do more than make me have it – force me to execute a one turn win either by taking apart his army so completely that he’d never have a viable assassination threat again or by executing an assassination of my own.  I felt I had strong lines to manage the latter without entirely conceding my ability to bail in the worst case, and so went through a fairly strong run – first throwing a Hunter diagonally at another Hunter slightly behind Sloan to put it less than 1″ in front of her and then Slamming it through her with a Basher to follow up, Flak Field, and buy attacks to end the game.

Unfortunately for my team, setting me up with such a strong matchup ultimately paid off, as we lost the round 2-3 with the last game going down to the wire.  All in all it was a great round and a fitting way to close out the event, though one that left us in the unfortunate position of having to go home without local bragging rights.  Team Roosevelt’s efforts scored them 3rd Place in the event, while we managed a respectable 6th, first out of the 2-2 finishers based on our strength of schedule.

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!