Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Camoflague is not neccesarily on the card: Harkevich vs eStryker

Peek-a-boo dog is playing with you.
Gaming got moved up a couple days to accommodate the arrival of a new furnace here on Thursday, so EV and I had a shorter gap than usual between matches.  I ran the same list as last time, except in this game I only fielded what was in my list and made sure to double check what I had on the table against what I had on my phone.  Because EV generally has his army, cards, dice, various ephemera, and the table ready to go when I arrive I don't get around to making a copy of his list for later use until he's taking his first turn.  Such was the case today, and it avoided another math issue when we found that he was a couple points over.  Fortunately a) we figured this out before the game was over, and b) it was during his first movement phase and thus easily corrected.  His list was as follows:

35+6 points, 22 models

Lord Commander Stryker  +6 points
* Lancer  6 points
* Stormclad  10 points
* Squire  2 points

Journeyman Warcaster  3 points

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages  6 points
* Gun Mage Officer  2 points
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios  3 points
Stormblades  5 points
* Stormblade Officer & Standard  3 points
Stormsmith Stormcaller  1 point

For the super-curious the extra points were Gorman and another Stormcaller.  This is basically the same list he ran last time, but with a new caster and some different solos.  I knew the Stormblades could be nasty and wanted to give them a wide berth.  My first game against eStryker left me unimpressed, but apparently pIrusk is his kryptonite so I don't think I got an accurate picture of what he does.  What I knew about him (before the game) was that EV has a huge man-crush on Stryker and that he can wreak face in melee, plus he has the resources to get into melee real quick.  Fortunately I had the trusty War Dog as a dedicated charge lane blocker and general best friend so I wasn't so concerned about getting surprised by a charge from way down town.

We rolled up the first scenario, Break the Line.  This is not No-Man's Land as I originally thought (and deployed for), but instead the scenario that has six zones to control.  Win conditions: kill the caster or hold two of your own zones, plus one enemy zone, at the end of your opponent's turn starting on turn three.  I won the terrain roll and opted for the Horrible Hill I Don't Like to take the center, mostly because I feel bad that we never use it.  I also won the roll to be the first player but deferred to EV with an eye towards setting up shots in turn one and charges in turn two.  EV stuck most of his stuff in the center, with units flanking jacks.  I opted for a strong center with the jacks and Bombardiers, with solos on the left and the Winter Guard on the right.  My plan was more or less the same as last game: let the Winter Guard do their thing, smash face with everything else.  The Manhuntress was on Eiryss hunting duty, while the Kovnik would try and Slam something.

Turn 1

First turns are predictabel: run, cast upkeeps.  EV did just that, putting Arcane Shield on the Stormblades (via Junior) and casting Deflection (I think) with Coleman.  I have a bad habit of not paying super close attention during these first turns, and my opponent's turn in general, while I figure out what I'm going to be doing.  Thus while EV told me about both of the spells (I'm familiar with Arcane Shield, not so much with Deflection), I didn't really register exactly what they would mean when stacked atop the base ARM 15 Stormblades.  I'd figure it out soon enough though.

Cygnar turn one.

While making up EV's list I wasn't watching where everything went, so when my turn began I scouted around for Eiryss.  I found her hiding in a building, snuggled up against a window.  The Manhuntress appeared to have a charge lane to her, but I wasn't sure if it would work or not.  At the end of my turn I figured I'd give it a shot and found that I did have a lane to exploit.  In goes the Manhuntress and...double whiff.  The slap fight, put on hold since the last game, had resumed.

Not-so-Mortal Kombat!!!!11!1!!!oneoneone!!
Not much other than that.  Escort on Harkevich, Fortune on the Bombardiers, run run run.  I shot at the Stormclad with Ivan but was perhaps an inch short on range and scattered off to nothingness.  Had I activated Harkevich before Ivan I would have had Escort up and Ivan would have had another 2" to move, which would have put him in range, but that's not how it happened. 

Khador turn one.
Turn 2

We started with the headliners in the second turn.  A pair of misses later, the pair of misses continued to slap away.

Swing and a miss.
Moving on to effective combatants, the Gun Mages moved up and blazed away at the Kovnik.  EV used the Brutal something-or-other shots with them and fired them all individually, doing a single point of damage.  After the fusillade he commented that he should have CRAd them.  I agreed, though I was glad he didn't.

It's super effective!
Stryker arced a stays-in-play AoE onto the Kovnik, but did no damage with it.  Fortunately it was in an area where I wouldn't have to worry about it during my turn.

The Kovnik still lives.
That was about it.  Deflection went back up as the Stormblades crested the hill.  I was worried about the Kovnik as he was facing a full unit and a light jack, but anticipated rolling up the Stormblades with a mixture of AoEs and CRAs, so it was more of a concern that he might not get to do anything again than a full-on worry about the outcome of the game, despite the potential loss of zone on my half of the table.

Cygnar turn two.
Where else to start but the fight to end all fights?  Another pair of misses.  The two elite fighters sure were sucking wind.

Maybe the Manhuntress will do better when I glue her arm back on.
The Kovnik though, he did me proud.  I just had range to charge the Charger, so in ran the Kovnik and smacked that jack good.  17 points worth of good.  Charging POW 15 Weapon Masters hurt.  A lot.

The Kovnik finally does something.
In the center I dropped the hammer on the Stormblades.  Four CRAs, two Bombardier shots (the third went to the Stormclad), and Ivan's Bombard went into the unit.  I killed two of them (via CRAs).  Turns out the Stormblades are ARM 20(!) with Arcane Shield and Deflection, plus they get a DEF boost from being on a hill.  While I hit with all the template weapons my dice decided to roll damage equal to, but not in excess of, their ARM.  The blast damage was meaningless as I couldn't scratch ARM 20 with POW 7 damage.  So instead of sweeping the hill clear, or at least thinning the herd considerably, I was faced with a lot of pissed off Stormblades well within charge range of my Winter Guard.  Not cool.

Khador turn two.
Turn 3

For reasons I didn't understand then, and don't understand now either, EV decided to move Eiryss out of combat.  The +2 bonus for a free strike was enough for the Manhuntress to finally land a blow.  The four dice for damage was enough to slay the elf, which I believe is my first time killing her.  Hopefully it won't be the last.

Finally, a winner is decided.
After his charge, I had written the Kovnik off.  He didn't get to Slam anything, but he did do a big whack of damage.  I expected the blow to fall from the Charger, but instead EV sent in the Stormclad and finished off the Kovnik easily.

At least he lived long enough to swing his axe.  Once.
(Fair warning, I stopped writing at this point to go to a hockey game.  The Caps won their fifth straight to remain undefeated this year.  As a result I'm a little amped up and there may be more than the usual amount of hyperbole/sass/whathaveyou from here on.  You have been warned.)

Around this time EV started cursing up a storm and declaring the game over.  He forgot to shoot with his Gun Mages, who should have killed the Manhuntress, which he said ruined his entire plan and probably the universe as well.  I suggested we keep playing anyway, so he charged the Charger in and killed the Manhuntress.  Universe: saved.

She made her points back, and then some, before she went.
Back in the middle, Stryker unleashed his feat and all hell broke loose.  Silly me had looked at Stryker's stats and spells, but neglected his feat entirely.  The preceding turn I had bunched my WGI up for ease of CRAing since I didn't have to worry about getting the ole pie plate.  Turns out I should have been worried about a crazy charge/move/attack again combo which made a pretty mess of my Winter Guard.  To make matters worse I forgot to send the dog in when the opportunity presented itself, though it would have taken a super-canine effort to get past ARM 20.

Ouch.  Just ouch.
And just like that I'm in the hole.  With that one charge from the Stormblades I went from feeling good about my position to wondering what just hit me.  Not only did I lose a bunch of troops on my right, which really wouldn't have been so bad on it's own considering the amount of stuff I had to retaliate with, I was also in a precarious position.  EV held one of his zones with Stryker and the Squire, another with Junior, and one of my zones with the Gun Mages.  If this persisted through the end of my turn the game would be over.  Obviously this couldn't stand.  I singled Junior out for punishment as the softest, closest target and started planning my miraculous comeback.

Cygnar turn three.
I learned a valuable lesson in my part of this turn: Winter Guard sprays don't do much against ARM 18 when they hit, and they hit at a much slower rate without Joe backing them up.  Thus the single Winter Guard that I sent to spray down the line of Stormblades didn't clear them out as expected, but instead failed to do anything to them.  Fortunately the CRA took out Junior, saving the day temporarily.

At least the CRAs still work like I think they should.
In the rest of my turn I set about doing as much damage as possible.  Having seen the Bombardiers fail to dent the Stormclad I had them shoot the Stormblades instead.  This did cause a regrettable loss of Khadoran life, but all sons and daughters of the Motherland are born so that they may give their life for the Empire should the need arise.  Ivan blew some Gun Mages up good, including the officer.  Not fully realizing that I had blown the legs off the Charger and what that meant for it's DEF, I had the Koldun Ice Cage the light jack.  While this had the laughable effect of reducing its mighty DEF 7 to a more manageable DEF 4, there wasn't a lot of good that the Bad Santa would have done elsewhere.  Harkevich capitalized on the easier to hit jack by shooting it with his Hand Cannon and hitting it with a Razor Wind(!) in the hopes of finishing off it's few remaining columns, but in the end it still stood with two unmarked boxes.

Khador turn three.

Turn 4

EV started off by telling me the game was over.

Wait, what?  How does that work?  I killed Junior, so he didn't hold two of his zones.  That was when he pointed out the Stormcaller.  Did you notice him?  Take a closer look.

The arrow shows the movement of the tree.
When I was confused as to how I had lost, EV moved a tree to reveal the cheeky bastard having a picnic in the woods.  I saw him during deployment but must have lost track of him while I was fiddling with my phone making up EV's list.  While a bit of a tricksy play, there was nothing underhanded at work here.  I came around the table a couple times to look at cards and didn't notice the model, nor did I not it's lack of activation during EV's turns.  Just like back in the good old days of Necromunda and multi-leveled terrain, a crafty opponent hid a model and I promptly forgot about it.

Even without the Stormcaller I was probably boned.  I would have had to race at least one of Harkevich, Ivan, and/or the Wardog into my left zone to contest it against the Gun Mages, which would have left the door wide open for a glorious Stryker charge and coup de grace.  I had a stranglehold on the right half of the table, but little on the left half.  In the post-game thinking, it was my approach that did me in.  I simply didn't get up the field fast enough.  Part of that was due to me passing first player on to EV, but mostly it was just not moving with a sense of urgency.  I also neglected the left zones entirely, aside from the Kovnik and Manhuntress who were never going to hold the zone by themselves against a full unit, a pair of jacks, and a caster.  While I was left with my mouth flopping about like a fish out of water at the time, looking at it from a more removed position shows me that EV played this one well.  He exploited a weakness on my left with an eye towards the scenario and took the victory as a result.  I got a bit carried away with smashing things, or lining up things to smash, and lost sight of the finish line.

Like all good losses, or bad depending on your perspective, I learned a number of things from this game.  Foremost was to keep the scenario in mind at all times, but just slightly behind was that ARM 20 infantry sucks to play against.  While I can lay plenty of that frustration down to failing to kill a single model with three POW 14 shots, I also should have realized exactly what I was up against while EV was layering up the spells.  Fortunately this has also spurred me on to build up some Shock Troopers tomorrow.  If I hated flailing ineffectually at ARM 20 infantry, I can only imagine how bad it will be to see ARM 21 infantry with 8 boxes across the table.  With the Butcher behind them.

Second was to read cards completely.  I neglected Stryker's feat and it took a big chunk out of my army when I learned about it the hard way.  I also glazed over Deflection and didn't realize how tough it would make things when combined with Arcane Shield.  This is extra galling coming after the near miss I had last game with the Stormsmith nearly frying my Manhuntress after EV pointed out how it worked.  If I ever want to play in tournaments and not embarrass myself, which I do, then I need to pay attention to details like this.

Lots of other numbers.  I need to get the Doomies back into action sooner rather than later.  They would have been the perfect unit to run run run into EV's half of the table and probably would have made a mess of the Stormblades, ARM 20 or not.  Though the Manhuntress hasn't done a great job of killing Eiryss these past two games, all it takes is one good whack to take her out.  The key is getting an attack to hit.  There's no good reason to take WGI without Joe.  If/when I run this list again, I'll make two points worth of room for the good Kovnik Joe.  Speaking of Kovniks, the Man-O-War Kovnik is a nice idea, but not so practical.  At 3 points he's an expensive beatstick with a single attack, though when that attack hits on the charge it is spectacular.  In retrospect I would have rather upgraded the Juggernaut to a Kodiak and taken Joe.

I seem to have run out of steam here, so let's call it a night.


  1. Well, the reason I was so pissed at myself was because I had forgotten a whole slew of things to lock you out of your area that I was trying to control. Stryker was supposed to pop his feat earlier in the turn allowing the Stormclad to mosey over and tie down Black Ivan, the lancer was supposed to help block movement lanes, and the Gun Mages were supposed to blast that Manhunter off the board. Had you known about the Stormsmith in the woods, and I thought you did the way you were advancing your Winterguard toward him, you would have been able to go after my units holding your left flank and roll me from there. My last turn was an all-or-nothing gamble that paid off. Had you seen through that turn, I would have been left with my you-know-what hanging out waiting to get it chopped off.

    In the end, I honestly got lucky.

  2. Oh, by the way, the light jack's a Lancer, not a Charger. Though with eStryker's lack of arcable spells, it probably ought to be something else. (like a Hunter for Jr.).

  3. I don't think that solos can control zones unless they are worth 2-3+ points. I'd have to double-check the rules but I think that a 1 pt solo cannot control a zone.

  4. A model must have a command greater than 1 to control a zone. I couldn't find any reference to point cost any where.

  5. Beat to it on my own blog. I guess that's what happens when you get breakfast before getting your internet on.

    As for tracking down the Stormsmith if I'd seen him, I probably would have. Though the WGI were my best performers of the game (which is kinda sad considering), I'd be loathe to send the whole unit after a single solo. On further examination of the end of game shot, I'd like my chances there. Your light was all but dead and the Gun Mages lost a large chunk of the unit. Granted you still had Stryker and a relatively untouched Stormclad, but against that I had a full (if slightly dinged) Bombardier unit, a clean Ivan, and a scratched Juggy. Plus Harkevich himself. Either of my jacks would have made short work of your light (regardless of what it's called), while a spray from the Koldun might well have finished the Gun Mages. The big problem for me is Stryker, who was getting pretty close to Harkevich and certainly capable of taking him out. We'll never know how things might have gone, but it can be entertaining to speculate.

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