Friday, September 30, 2011

Bringing a gun to a knife fight: pSorscha vs pDenny

Picture unrelated.  Awesome, but unrelated.
Last week EV asked me if I was ever going to run the Man o War Kovnik.  I told him I've run it before, but that was during my first steps into Warmachine in the dark days when I had not yet started taking pictures.  I remembered liking the Kovnik, especially when paired with a Kodiak, so I took his offhanded remark as a personal challenge to field the Kovnik once again.  This proved to be harder than I expected.

The Kovnik has to marshal a jack.  As a pure beatstick he's too expensive (3 points) for what he brings.  P+S 15 Weapon Master is nothing to sneeze at, but with no Reach, Backswing, or other multiple attack option he just doesn't measure up to the likes of a Manhunter (plus an extra point) or even Yuri the Axe.  Marshaling it is then, which means a Kodiak as the Kovnik's Drive ability dovetails so nicely with the Kodiak.  Of course the combo attack isn't boosted and that's a bit of a drag, but I have an answer for that: Koldun Lord.  After some close reading, I determined that I could use Drive and Power Booster at the same time, thus boosting the attack rolls of the initial fists and the ensuing throw.  Tasty.  Of course this little combo runs 13 points, but it will whack and toss something real good, at least in theory.  Since this happy bunch lives outside the battlegroup I wanted a caster that had a non-battlegroup feat that would work with jacks.  This eliminated pIrusk (too infantry focused) and pVlad (battlegroup), while the lack of varnish took out the otherwise good choice of pButcher along with not-so-hot choices in Harkevich and Strakhov.  This left Sorscha, both flavors.  After my pining in the last post, I went with pSorscha and came up with the following list:

35+5 points, 18 models

Kommander Sorscha  +5 points
* Black Ivan  10 points
* War Dog  1 point

Doom Reavers  6 points
* Greylord Escort  2 points
Koldun Lord  2 points
Man-O-War Kovnik  3 points
* Kodiak  8 points
Widowmaker Marksman  2 points
Winter Guard Mortar Crew  3 points
Winter Guard Mortar Crew  3 points

I did a bit of metagaming while assembling my army.  Since EV has settled in to a somewhat regular list over the past couple of games I took an infantry clearing setup, thus the pair of Mortars.  The Doomies do this too, but they're my current crush so I didn't need a reason to include them.  When I found that I couldn't use the bonus jack points on marshaled jacks my first thought was a Juggy since they're so cheap, but I just couldn't make the numbers work.  Despite my intention to not bring him this time around, when I plugged Black Ivan in I suddenly had room for the War Dog and everything else clicked into place.  A small group (again), but with lots of templates and cleaves.  My plan was to have Sorscha freeze or knock things down, making them easier to drop large caliber shells on.

EV threw me a small curve with his list.  Instead of eGaspy he brought pDenny.  He also dropped the Brute Thrall since Denny has one less jack point than Gaspy.  His list, since it's been a while since I posted it:

35+6 points, 36 models

Warwitch Deneghra  +5 points
* Cankerworm  5 points
* 2x Nightwretch  4 points each
* Skarlock Thrall  2 points

10 Bane Thralls  8 points
6 Bile Thralls  5 points
Bloat Thrall  2 points
10 Mechanithralls  5 points
Withershadow Combine  5 points

Outnumbered again, by a sizable margin again, but I knew that going in.  I lost the "will there be a central forest" roll.  EV mentioned scenario while placing said forest, so I rolled for it and came up with the three objective mission that I managed to lose a few games back.  EV won the roll to go first and chose to do so.

The wreck markers are objectives.

Pretty standard setup on his side: Banes on one flank, Mechs on the other, squishy bits in the middle.  I set my two Mortars up so they had enough distance between them to be able to shoot at each other (in support of course), then filled the middle with non-Advance Deploy stuff.  It took a few minutes of flip-flopping before I went with the same strategy as last time of sending the Doomies against the MechThralls.  The Kodiak went on the MechThrall side because Ivan could shoot at the Banes.  The Marksman went on the Bane flank as the first of many brain cramps.  The plan was simple: blast the crap out of the horde with all my templates and sweep up the remains with the Doomies and jacks.

Turn 1

The first turn might as well be called the running turn, because that's all you ever really do.  It's all EV did as Denny has no upkeeps, or the one she has wasn't called for at the time.

Cryx turn one.

Contrary to the above statement, I got some work done in the first turn.  The Koldun Lord gave Ivan a Focus, which he used to hit a distant bonejack.

Unusual orientation = sense of action.

The soot covered (but fully painted, really) Mortar followed along and blew up a Bane Thrall.

Distant kaboom.

Not to be outdone, the non-soot covered (and actually painted) Mortar also took a long-ranged shot and took out a trio of MechThralls.

Big badaboom.
Everything else (ha!) advanced.  Sorscha tried to get a good Tempest scatter but failed.  The Doomies approached the right objective, but kept back enough to not get swarmed by the MechThralls while also staying spread out enough to limit the damage the Fat Thrall could do.  The double Ks (Kovnik+Kodiak) started flanking, heading for the building ahead of them.

Khador turn one.

Turn 2

Remember when I spread out my Doomies to avoid the Bloat Thrall's template?  Turns out that formation isn't as effective against sprays.  My first few games of Warmachine (battlebox games all) were all about learning how to LoS arc nodes and avoid lining up for sprays.  It's a lesson I've mostly learned, but somehow I didn't foresee the arc node spraying my Doomies.  Twice even.

First of two sprays.
In other news, EV swarmed over the objectives.  It was at this point I realized I had a problem.  Can you guess what it is?

Cryx turn two.

My half of turn two started off right.  In the upkeep/maintenance/whatever phase, my two Corroded Doomies bit the big one.

The deadliest phase is the one at the beginning of your own turn.
The rest of the squad got real mad.  Like, crazy mad.  Almost like they're really bad dudes who were given a huge sword that would make them even badder and crazier.  Wait, that's what Doom Reavers are?  That explains how two of them damn near wrecked a chickenjack.

The third guy was a slacker and missed.
Elsewhere Sorscha knocked down a couple Banes and the Mortars probably blew up some various Thralls.  Why is the Greylord UA way out in the middle of nowhere?  I wanted to avoid losing the entire squad to a single Purge, so I sent him out on his own.  More on this in a bit.  I reconsidered the "flanking action" the Ks were on and brought them back towards the middle, which was approximately where they would have been last turn if I'd just sent them forward instead of being cute about it.

Khador turn two.
I realized I was boned after EV was done this turn.  He'd taken all three objectives.  I had a shot at the right one with the Doomies and...well, that was about it.  When the Doomies didn't finish the bonejack, and therefore didn't secure the objective, I was looking at being down 5-0 at best, and probably 6-0 when the inevitable Purge and charges cleared out the Doomies.  To make things better, I had no real way to even contest the center point.  If the Greylord Escort survived the Bane Thrall charge I managed to not see while placing him, he could perhaps run on to the objective.  If the Cankerworm wasn't in the way.  Giving up before the end is a pet peeve of mine, but I was already going through the motions.

Khador - 0  Cryx - 3

Turn 3

EV injected some mystery into the inevitable Purge by putting Ghostwalk on the Bile Thralls.  This caught me by surprise even though I had read the spell on the card and commented on it before the game started.  The Purge got one of the Doomies and the MechThrall charge cleaned up the other two.  At least the Kodiak was out of range.

Purge: it's ok to hate it.
Next came my moment of sparkly goodness.  I had dropped a die in the previous turn and was looking around for it while EV got going.  I looked up when he started to arc a spell at Sorscha.  Disaster or opportunity?  His mostly wrecked bonejack that narrowly escaped the Doomies had come into Counter-charge range of my War Dog.  Result?  Another notch on the dog collar.

I've been spending too much time at the Chive of late.
That was about it for EV, other than swarming the left objective with Bane Thralls.  And scoring another three points, bringing him within one of winning.  To my zero points.  Other than that, not much happened.

Cryx turn three.

Doing what I can, and trying to do the impossible, I started with the artillery barrage.  The right side Mortar took out a MechThrall.

Imagine the Ks further back, about where they were after turn two.
Then the Ks charged in to try and clear the objective.  They came up well short, a surprise to no one.

They followed the shell in.  I don't fire on my own troops.  Often.
On the left side the Greylord was counting his blessings after surviving the Bane Thrall charge.  He did some praying and then some spraying.  The result was pleasant: two (re)dead Banes.

Sprays can turn frowns upside down.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with Ivan.  He could fire at, and auto-miss, some of the Banes.  (This would have been the option if the Banes had all charged in and bunched up like I thought they should have.  Instead EV "ran" most of them about an inch while a single Bane actually charged an actual target.  I was under the impression you moved your full distance whether you were charging or running, hence my Greylord being on the left side of the board instead of dropping back an inch or two to avoid the Purge.  Like Bulldoze, charging has been ill-understood and the source of confusion.  At least for me.  We'll get it ironed out eventually).  Or he could seize glory by the balls and charge a lone Bane.  I chose the latter.  Fortunately Ivan hit (and splattered) the Bane as I didn't factor in spending the single point of Focus from the Koldun on the charge itself, leaving him unable to boost the attack roll.

Ivan smash!
In a last second bid to avoid a shutout, Sorscha barreled into the cluster of Banes, popping off a Tempest on the way.  Forgot to fire off her feat though, so she was all sorts of sunk in the turn to come.
Sorscha plays til the whistle.
That was it, we called the game at the end of the turn. 

Endgame/Finger of Doom.
Final score: Khador - 1  Cryx 6

This was the worst sort of loss for me, the kind that I learn absolutely nothing from.  That's not true really.  I learned that if you take a list with minimal infantry against a horde list in a take and hold style scenario, you're gonna get boned.  My deployment didn't help matters, leaning away from the left as I was.  Had I run my jacks at the objectives I might have prolonged matters, but in the end I think I lost this one in the list writing phase.  I knew more or less what I'd be facing and made a list to counter it (to a limited degree) without wondering if it would work in missions.

The worst part is that since gaming is a necessarily social activity, I had not only torpedoed a game for myself but for EV as well.  It's always nice to win, but I imagine EV was as satisfied with his win as I was with my loss.  Our past few games have been tense affairs in direct contrast to this suckfest.  Even worser yet still was that while this was a quick game, it still took long enough to preclude another thanks to various work schedules.  It'll be another week before I can wash this bad taste from my gaming mouth.

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