Played a 35 pointer against EV on Friday, pIrusk vs. eStryker. I knew a little bit about Stryker going in, and EV is very enthusiastic about him in general, so I figured I'd be in for a tough fight. I was trying out Irusk for the first time. He is a different sort of caster than I've used before, more of a lead from the rear type. While I run Sorscha like that, she poses a very real assassination threat that Irusk doesn't. I run Sorscha as a support caster because I can, whereas I ran Irusk as a support caster because I had to. What a support caster though. His feat is impressive, as is his spell list. I had been meaning to try him out for a while, but having finally gotten the mini earlier in the week, I figured it was time to see what he was about. Unfortunately I have yet to assemble this new addition, but fortunately EV has a pIrusk that I was able to use.
One of Irusk's spells, Superiority, threw a bit of a wrench in my list building. I wanted to take a Destroyer with Irusk, but most of Superiority would have been wasted on a ranged jack, so I went with a Juggernaut instead. WGI were a must, as they're the only "core" infantry unit I have. I had picked up another Rocketeer when I got Irusk, but didn't have that model assembled either, so I ran just the one Rocketeer. My basic idea was to sit the WGI in the middle, then have the Doomies on one flank and the Juggernaut on the other, with Mortars and Widowmakers for support. My list:
pIrusk + 6
Juggernaut - 7
War Dog - 1
Doom Reavers - 6
DR UA - 2
Widowmakers = 4
Full WGI - 6
WGI UA and Rocketeer - 3
2 Mortars - 6
Kovnik Joe - 2
Manhuntress - 2
Widowmaker Marksman - 2
From his discussion of eStryker, I had expected a full-on melee list from EV. While it was mostly melee, there was some shooting in it. He ran:
eStryker + 6
Centurion - 9
Lancer - 6
Squire - 2
Stormblade Infantry - 5
Full Sword Knights - 6
Full Trenchers - 10
3 Stormsmith Stormcallers - 3
This was a different situation, with EV running more jacks than I did. Normally he's the one running a single heavy, or maybe a couple lights, while I pack in 2-3 heavy jacks. For deployment, I stuck the Widowmakers and their solo in the central woods, backed up by the WGI and Irusk. The mortars sat on either side of the woods to try and cover as many shooting lanes as possible. The Juggy was going to go up my left flank and wrap into the Cygnar line. The Doomies and Manhuntress went on my right flank to try and advance under cover so that something survived to apply some axe to mouth.
EV set his Trenchers in the woods in his deployment zone, then massed the rest of his forces on my right flank. I wasn't happy that the Trenchers would completely ignore my mortars, but I did like how everything else was in a compact little group. Setup:
Since my Widowmakers couldn't see anything else, they started firing on the Trenchers. Between cover and being dug in, it took some doing to hit them, but I still managed to off a pair.
That was all the action in the first turn. I put Iron Flesh on the WGI and Superiority on the Juggernaut. I tried for a lucky deviation with the northern mortar into the cluster of Cygnarans, but no luck. As is usual for first turns, this one was about advancing more than action. My southern mortar ran to get a better field of fire, and my Doomies and Manhuntress advanced into the buildings on the northern flank. End of turn 1.
EV's Stormblades come a little too close to the Doomies, and get charged for their troubles. I wanted to charge further into their formation, and some of the Stormsmiths as well, but I couldn't make it work without taking a bunch of free strikes. The charge went well, and the Doomies took out 3 Stormblades.
In the middle, the Widowmakers continued to thin out the Trenchers, killing another off. My Juggernaut doesn't have anything else to do, so it starts to move over to the Trenchers.
That big block of Sword Knights taunts me, still out of range of my mortars. I decide my WGI are going to stay put in the woods until the Swans get a bit closer. This effectively strands the Doomies and Manhuntress on the flank, but such is life for them. End of turn 2.
The Stormblade counter-charge comes, and is less than effective. One DR would have died, but I passed the first of many Tough checks, so I lost no psychotic criminals.
In my turn, I send the Juggernaut Trampling through the Trenchers, to great effect. They put a CRA into the Juggy during their turn, and did some decent damage, but it's still a very effective killing machine.
The Widowmakers continue to work on the Trenchers, killing another.
I didn't get a shot of it, but the Doomies massacred the Stormblades in the north. Despite my best efforts, EV managed to snipe my Manhuntress while she was deep in a building with one of his Stormsmiths. One day a Manhunter will do something other than die. In looking at this shot, I also not a distinct lack of Sword Knights. EV had moved them to where the lone survivor is in the shot below, and would have moved them further upfield, but he ran into Inhospitable Ground, which is just amazing. My mortars finally got their chance and cleared out most of the squad, as well as putting a bit of damage on the Lancer. At the end of turn 3 I already feel like I have things sewn up. My flanking force has taken out a squad and drawn Stryker away from where he was going so that he could deal with them. The Trenchers are basically finished, as are the Sword Knights. I've cleared out most of EV's infantry, and I may have lost a single DR in return, though it may have been just the Manhuntress. My heavy hitters, the Juggy and WGI, are more or less untouched and just waiting for targets to come into range. Things look real good. End of turn 3.
Action shots disappear after this, so I'm down to end of turn shots. There really isn't much going on. My Juggy trampled some more Trenchers, the Widowmakers and mortars put some small damage on the Cygnar jacks, and Stryker attempts to deal with the Doomies in the north. I manage to pass 4-5 Tough checks in a row to keep the squad alive, and Stryker pinned down for another turn. I still haven't taken many casualties, maybe 3 DRs and the Manhuntress. End of turn 4.
Here in turn 5 Stryker finishes off the DRs and what's left of the Cygnar force heads towards my still pristine WGI. The southern mortar runs again to cover the corridor between the northern terrain. My Juggernaut gets hit by some disruption effect, so it walks away from the remaining Trencher to finally engage with something of its own size. I've shuffled the WGI to the edge of the woods and opened lanes for them to exit through when the time comes. Throughout all this, Irusk just watches. He maintains his two upkeeps, and the "upkeep" on Inhospitable Ground, but does little other than that. End of turn 5.
Turn 6 is a lot like turn 1. It features plenty of movement, but not a lot of action. Stryker begins to move towards the Khadoran center, as do the Cygnar jacks. I start dropping mortars on the heavy, which I can reliably hit even with the mortar's RAT of 3, which is awfully nice. The damage is starting to add up on the Cygnaran jacks. I position my Juggernaut so that it can charge when the Cygnar jacks break cover. End of turn 6.
Here the Cygnar jacks break cover, and get mown down for their troubles. I forget exactly what finished the heavy, though I think it was a WGI CRA. Despite trying to hide my Juggernaut from those damnable Stormsmiths, I still get disrupted and am unable to charge again. End of turn 7.
Stryker joins the party, at long last. I keep hearing about his super armor and how he can wreck shop, but EV decides against it when he charges my Juggernaut. As such, I don't lose the jack as I had anticipated. This also means Stryker is hanging around with his ass in the wind, so my boys (and girls) move in for the kill. The Widowmakers shuffle out to make way for the WGI, and put a few points on Stryker in the process. Then the WGI comes out and puts another CRA into Stryker and that's the game. Endgame:
This one was really over in the second or third turn. When my DRs carved up the Stormblades, then the Sword Knights got hammered by mortars, that put EV in a huge hole. After that it was a waiting game for me. I plunked away with my mortars and Widowmakers, while the Juggernaut literally ran rough-shod over the Trenchers, all the while killing time until the Cygnaran big boys made their way to my woods. This was a much easier game than I had expected, coming into it with a new caster that I wasn't terribly familiar with and a list that I didn't work on as much as I normally would have. eStryker is arguably EV's favorite caster, or at least the one he talks about the most, so I was expecting to have my ass handed to me. But then the dice kicked in, as they so often do, and the tables turned quickly.
EV has been getting hammered a lot lately, and there seems to be little I can do about it. I don't let people win, and I don't handicap myself to give them an overwhelming advantage either. In this game I took a caster I had never used and built a list that wasn't as sharp as I normally would have made, but I still ended up winning by a mile. I've entertained thoughts of using Zerkova, who is reportedly Khador's worst caster, but that falls under "excessive handicap." It may be as simple as me having hot dice while EV has ice cold dice, but there's nothing I can do about that either. I hate to be party to ruining a friend's fun, especially when I'm not trying to. EV has been talking about Malifaux a lot lately, which I don't think uses dice at all, so maybe we'll give that a go, though I'm not thrilled about system hopping through the wargaming landscape. Maybe we'll come to some resolution that works for everyone.