Thursday, July 7, 2011

pVlad vs pStryker, or how I learned to start worrying and hate Earthquake

The earth shook today in part because of the titanic clash between classic rivals Khador and Cygnar today, but the party most to blame for the vibrations was one Commander Coleman Stryker.  EV talks about Styker in the fervent tones of the convert, so when he wrote about never fielding pStryker earlier I was surprised.  After all, I have played a game with pStryker, even if it was an introductory demo-style game.  I expected pStryker to be an offensive caster like eStryker, but I found out he has a more defensive setup.   And Earthquake.  I found out everything about Earthquake...


My deployment.
We played at 35 points and rolled the same scenario as our last game, where you have to have a suitable piece in a strip 4" on either side of the center.  I ran the same list I ran in the last game, the pVlad Doomie Limo Rush, except that I traded the Destroyer for a Devastator.  EV's list is in the above linked post, but in short he ran a balanced pStryker list with Eiryss.  It was my first time facing the so-called Elven Hooker, so I kept an extra eye on her to avoid as many shenanigans as possible.  On reflection after the game I noticed that EV was a point under, but I forgot to put my Greylords on the table until a couple turns in so we were both handicapped in a way.  We alternated placing terrain and came up with a somewhat dense cluster of ruins in the center with other bits around the edges.  Winning the roll to go first also meant I deployed first.  This was unfortunate as I was going to use the Manhuntress, represented here by Sorscha since I forgot to pack the model, as my Eiryss death squad, but not knowing where she would setup meant I couldn't counter that deployment.  Instead I put the Manhuntress in the middle and bricked up a little left of center.

EV's deployment.
I was pleased when EV put his Long Gunners in the center as I could dodge around terrain to block their shots.  The Sword Knights on the flank could be unfortunate if they got into my jacks, but the Doomies should be out in front of everyone and carve a decent swathe through the unit.  With a pair of arc node-equipped Lancers, EV had plenty of opportunities for casting trickery.  One day I'll try out the Old Witch and use an arc node myself, but many games against Cryx have taught me to be wary of arc nodes so I wanted to watch them close.  Both of our lists were more straight-forward than usual, with only one UA between us (the Greylord Escort on the Doomies) and no marshaled jacks.  With set up finished, it was time for action.

Turn 1

My first turn was unremarkable, a simple advance.  Vlad cast Wind Wall, the jacks ran, everyone stayed close together.  The pVlad Limo is a pretty secure formation provided you don't keep something close to them to have AoEs scatter off of, a lesson I learned last time at the hands of a Bloat Thrall.  I considered it for a minute, but I concluded that EV couldn't cover enough ground to get anything off on the first turn, so I packed the bodies in tight.
Khador turn 1.
EV's first turn was also boring in the manner of first turns.  He put Arcane Shield on the Sword Knights and moved things forward.  He forgot to move Stryker, which is why he's hanging way in the back.
Cygnar turn 1.
Turn 2

My part of turn two looked a lot like turn one.  AoEs and Limo proximity fell under consideration again, but I figured I was safe for one more turn and kept things close.  The Manhuntress began stalking her prey, playing cat and mouse with Eiryss in the ruins.  Wind Wall went up again.

Khador turn 2.
EV's turn was a bit more eventful than mine.  Turns out I wasn't as safe from AoEs as I thought.  EV treated me to the first of many arced Earthquakes, sending most of my troops on their butts by targeting a jack and avoiding the Limo's protection.  To make things even better, he sent in a Lancer to Flank my troops and enhance the attacks of the charging Sword Knights.

I feel the earth move under my feet.
My Doomies held up pretty well though, thanks to Tough and many Sword Knights coming up short on the charge.  I lost a single Doomie to the charge attacks, leaving many Sword Knights well within Reach distance.  The rest of the Cygnaran force advanced and turn two was over.

Cygnar turn 2.
Turn 3

Normally being knocked down would limit the damage an engaged unit could do, but the front rank of Doomies wasn't knocked down and could move around to engage, while the back rank was withing Reach distance and able to chip in.  Four Sword Knights fell to their fel blades, and the unit was still able to screen Vlad at least partially, so when he put up Wind Wall again the Limo was still in limited effect.  I had intended to use Signs and Portents, but had already activated the Doomies before I thought about it so I opted for the defense instead of the limited boost to offense.  The Kodiak charged a Lancer and did some decent damage, though it took a tick of cortex damage for having the temerity to attack the Cygnar light and its electro-shield.  I also tried out Bulldoze, pushing the other Lancer back a bit to start getting used to the mechanic.  

Khador turn 3.
EV came after my Kodiak with the Ironclad in his turn, and the two Cygnaran jacks did quite a number on my poor jack.  The Motherland builds her armor thick though, so the Kodiak lived to fight another day.  Or turn in this case.

Battered, but unbroken.
The Sword Knight part of the melee went better, for EV, than the previous turn.  He killed a pair of the maniacs, an outcome that shook me almost as much as the camera.

Shakeycam is the hallmark of action.
Eiryss and the Long Gunners advanced and so EV's turn ended.

Cygnar turn 3.
Turn 4

Turn four began with the Doom Reavers slaughtering more Sword Knights.  P+S 13 with Weapon Master made a mockery of the lofty ARM 19 of the buffed Sword Knights and when the frenzy was over only a single Cygnaran stood.

Reaving some Doom.

 Not wanting to short out the cortex, I turned the Kodiak on the Ironclad and went to town.  I took straight attack rolls and boosted the damage rolls which was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off when I landed both fists.  For the free power attack I chose the two-handed throw and decided to boost the roll.  I needed a 7 to hit the Lancer and had just hit a pair of 7s on the Ironclad, so I thought my luck might be running a bit thin and I wanted to make sure I hit.  I would have liked to throw the jack at Eiryss, but she was too far away.  With my three dice I rolled a total of 5 and initiated a bit of a clusterfuck.  The Ironclad deviated off the Lancer and into the Kodiak.  I wasn't so sure that I could throw the Ironclad at the Lancer in the first place, but we didn't find anything to contradict it.  The deviation rules said to follow the least disturbance rules in one model landed on top of the other, so we decided that everyone would get hit and be knocked down.  No one died except the clock as it took a while to get things sorted out.

Worst throw ever.

The rest of the turn was the Devastator again Bulldozing the Lancer and remaining Sword Knight.  I didn't cast Signs and Portents again because I wanted to get Vlad into combat and kill someone, like a Sword Knight, so he could get Wind Wall off for free.  Instead I did too much damage with the Doomies and didn't leave a victim for Vlad, so I skipped Signs and Portents and just put Wind Wall up again.  I also sent the Manhuntress in against the Ironclad to take advantage of the post-throw knockdown.  I did my math wrong in making my decision and did 4-5 damage instead of the 12-13 I had expected, and as a result the Ironclad lived on.  I wanted to do something with the Juggy, but it was a bit wedged into my rear.  At least it was still untouched.

Khador turn four.
You can probably guess what came next from EV.  Another arced Earthquake sent much of my force to the ground.  While Earthquake itself wasn't doing any damage, it was costing me focus and mobility in standing up jacks turn after turn, which prevented me from getting Wind Wall and S&P/Blood of Kings off in the same turn.  Somewhere around here I did a quick comparison of Earthquake and pSorscha's AoE knockdown.  I'll get into a more thorough examination later, but the short version is Earthquake sucks.
Seriously, screw Earthquake and arc nodes.

Back in the center the Long Gunners join the fight, combing forces to shoot real hard into the Kodiak.  The result was one dead jack.  It took lots of damage though and made the Motherland's armorers proud.

I missed a shot at the end of the turn here.  EV swung at the Manhuntress with the Ironclad but didn't finish her off.  Eiryss shot something, either the Kodiak or the Manhuntress, and the Lancer on the flank couldn't do much of anything to the Devastator.

Turn 5

I dealt a serious blow to EV's compliment of jacks in this turn, starting with the Lancer pinned against the side of the board.  It succumbed to a combination of two jacks and a Doomie.

Reprisal the first.

Towards the middle, the Manhuntress swung back at the Ironclad.  I thought about charging Eiryss, but there was a decent(ish) chance that the free strike from leaving the Ironclad's melee range would connect and kill her.  I wanted to finish Eiryss off, but a dead Manhuntress does no damage.  A live Manhuntress can do enough damage to take out a damaged Ironclad though, even without the charge.

Reprisal the second.

Once again I missed Signs and Portents, following that gaffe up with a Wind Wall.  The Doomies spread out, some heading south to put Eiryss in melee range,  I couldn't attack with them since they had been knocked down at the start of the turn, but I could pin the Hooker in place and threaten her with a pair of P+S 13 Weapon Master free strikes.  I figured that would be enough to take her out of the game.
Khador turn five.

EV was determined to kill the Manhuntress, enough so to send in his remaining Lancer and use the Long Gunners.  They got the job done.

The Manhuntress died having more than made her points back.
Earthquake knocked a bunch of stuff down again and Eiryss failed to kill either Doom Reaver.  Thus ended the fifth turn.

Cygnar turn five.
Turn 6

The clustered Long Gunners were just begging for a spray, so the Greylord Escort went in to oblige them.  He cleared out some room for the other Gunners so they wouldn't be so crowded.  Everyone likes elbow room.
Magic shotgun, the aftermath.
The Doomies took a pair of swings at Eiryss but managed to miss.  Once again I didn't cast Signs and Portents, and the remainder of the turn was spent regrouping and preparing to launch an assault in the turns to come.  I made sure to keep someone in the zone so I didn't repeat the mistake that cost me the last game.
Khador turn six.
I guess EV had reached his Doom Reaver limit because he sent in plenty of resources to finish them off.  Eiryss was the first to figure out the pointy end.  Armed with that knowledge she killed the two babysitters blocking her path.  A CRA finished off the Greylord Escort, and a Lancer mopped up the rest.
Doomies get reaved.
At this point I was a little concerned.  My lone infantry unit was dead, as was the Manhuntress, and the Kodiak was destroyed.  I still had Vlad, a Koldun Lord, and a pair of relatively unharmed jacks.  EV had Stryker, Eiryss, a dinged jack, and half a unit of Long Gunners.  While I was fairly sure the Devastator could take a double volley from the remaining Long Gunners and still be functional, I wasn't as sure about the Juggernaut, and the two infantry models would both be either dead or close to it.  Eiryss is always a threat, and Stryker has a big sword.  My two jacks should account for all the infantry, and perhaps the Lancer, but Eiryss would still be loose and a threat to Vlad.

Cygnar turn six.
Turn 7

Turn seven was, like so many others, uneventful.  I thought I would have just enough range to charge the Devastator into EV's block of infantry, and I would have if I could have charged around a corner.  Of course you have to charge in a straight line, as I was reminded of, so that didn't work out.  Wind Wall went up again, along with some slight maneuvering, and my turn was finished.

Khador turn seven.
I tried to keep Vlad and the Koldun behind cover in hopes that EV would miss with the inevitable Earthquake.  My hopes were dashed though and the two foot sloggers were on their butts again.  The Long Gunners took some shots at the Devastator but did no damage.

Cygnar turn seven.
Turn 8
During EV's turn I realized that I would have had enough range to get the Devastator into combat if I had popped my feat, so that's what I did in this turn.  The hefty jack barreled into the Long Gunners, Bulldozing some back and bunching them up nicely.  Daylight appeared between the armored arms and the Devastator opened up to begin the attack.  The Gunners became a fine red mist while Stryker and the Squire both took damage.  I had a single point of focus on the Devastator to boost the damage against Stryker, but only did two points to him.

Raining death.
A little south of that the Juggernaut charged the Lancer.  The Juggy was loaded up with focus to get the job done.  I needed either a 6 or a 7 to hit the Lancer, which is expected value on two dice, so I didn't boost the attack rolls.  Being a Khador jack the Juggy had plenty of power, so I didn't boost damage either, and instead went with volume of attacks to finish the Cygnar light.  Things went according to plan right up to the end.  The Lancer was down to a single box with one attack to go, which the Juggy missed, leaving the Lancer crippled but alive.  I kept Vlad well back, while still being in the 4" strip in the center, to avoid Eiryss while the jacks went to work.

Khador turn eight.
Down to four pieces now, EV's turn went quicker than mine did.  He charged the now open Devastator with Stryker after shooting it with a Disruptor bolt from the Hooker.  While I wasn't too pleased with this, I wasn't worried either.  After all, I had brought along a Koldun Lord who has Power Booster, designed in part to remove Disruption from jacks.  Further inspection of the ability showed that it's not as useful as I had hoped, since Disruption prevents focus from being allocated to the jack and said Disruption can't be removed until the Koldun activates, which is after focus is allocated.  I hope I'm missing something here, otherwise it seems like a nice thought, but ultimately useless.  Stryker thrashed around and did a respectable amount of damage, but nowhere near enough to kill the Devastator.  I had been concerned about his melee potential, and was keeping Vlad back as a result, but seeing him do his worst and come up well short I was no longer concerned.  The Lancer swung at the Juggernaut to no effect.

Cygnar turn eight.
Turn 9

Determined to end the Elven menace this turn, I sent the Devastator into the lone remaining Long Gunner in a effort to do enough damage to clear out the rest of EV's pieces.  I didn't expect to kill Stryker, but the Squire was down to one box and Eiryss is squishy once you get past the high DEF.  The Long Gunner died as expected, but everyone else survived.  Eiryss lived with two boxes remaining, a problem I could have solved by boosting the damage roll on her.  Disruption stopped that plan before it started and the Hooker lived for another turn.  The Juggernaut polished off the Lancer and Vlad took a potshot at Stryker with a Razor Wind, but otherwise held back a turn to set up the assassination run.
Khador turn nine.
That run was never to materialize though.  EV loaded up Stryker and sent him headlong into Vlad.  After his lackluster performance against the Devastator I wasn't concerned, but that soon changed.  It came down to the last roll, but Stryker managed to finish off Vlad and win EV the game.  

Death comes for all, even Princes of Umbria.
The Razor Wind was what put it over the top in retrospect, but you never know these things ahead of time.  Regardless of the outcome and how it happened, this was the most entertaining game I've played in quite a while.  Fortunes went back and forth throughout the game, we both made mistakes and had both good and bad fortune.  There wasn't a single moment or roll that I can point to that swung the game for either of us.  Things probably would have gone differently if I'd remembered to take the Ternion out of the case, but if EV had realized he was a point under that might have changed things as well.  In the end we played with what we had and got a fine result from it.


  1. Very nice Bat Rep. I love watching Khador and Cygnar clash.

    ... Did Stryker pop his feat this game?

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. Stryker did pop his feat on the last turn, right before heading in to get Vlad. Expecting to survive the attack, I was figuring if I should BoK or just sit on 7 focus for the coming turn. Then I was dead and it didn't matter.

  3. Not a bad report, I use a similar cygnar army with stryker, so I especially liked seeing how EV chose to use it. On a rules point, the lancers were both hit enough times that focus should never have been landing on your jacks in the last few turns. Sounds like you guys had fun, and that's the point.

  4. We were both very aware of the Lancers and their thrice-damned shields. My jacks took some cortex damage, but I managed to rip one shield off in short order and the other came up just short of crippling a cortex or two. It seems to me that if any faction should have technology that hurts the attacker when they strike it should be the Motherland, not the filthy swans...