Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Order of Activation is Important: pThagrosh vs pHaley

Not a bad song, even if you don't go in for light pop (I usually don't).
Having used it for all of three games (one of which hardly counts), I've been very happy with how my pLylyth list has worked.  The logical move for today's game (see usual caveat re: when this gets posted), then, is to change things up.  As such my lovely blind archer lady stepped aside for the big...thing that is pThagrosh.  My first choice to switch things up would have been the first lady of freeky deeky, Absylonia, and the tier 4 list I have concocted for her.  One small problem though: she's still in a blister (which is still inside a box).  It's been a little slow on the construction front around here.  With that avenue blocked off, I went in for the above-mentioned pThagrosh (the p stands for pimp, though that newcomer Kallus is messing up the sausage to bun ratio).  I figured I'd go ahead and bring out the Swordsmen while I was at it since they hadn't seen any table time either, and ended up with the following list:

35+5 points, 13 models

Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight  +5 points
* 2x Carnivean  11 points each
* Seraph  8 points

6 Blighted Swordsmen  5 points
Shepherd  1 point
2x The Forsaken  2 points each

If it looks similar to the pLylyth list, it's because I don't have much in the way of beasts to choose from just yet.  The basic idea is the same: have the beasts punch things in the face while the infantry runs around and tries to not get underfoot.  I was forced into the horror that is proxying because I had an extraneous point to fill and no single-point models to fill it with, so I used a stunt Shepherd.  The Seraph was also proxied due to my not remembering to bring it along.  It won't fit in my bag, so I carry it around by hand in lieu of a better solution.  This will change when inspiration finally strikes, but I digress.

Random old timey boxers because why not?
EV threw me a curve ball today in the form of pHaley.  I played against her for the first time last week at the FLGS, so I had an inkling of what to look out for this time (I was completely blindsided by both her feat and Temporal Barrier previously).  Further curve: there were three jacks in the list.  While this is not unusual by strict numbers (EV's standard Cryx list includes the Cankerworm and three arc nodes), it is highly unusual in that the jacks would have to do the heavy lifting.  Our very local meta (read: games played at EV's place) are full-on Infantrymachine, so this was a doubly unexpected move.  I'm sure you're all ruining your keyboards/handheld devices salivating over this mysterious list, so in the interest of limiting the destruction as much as possible, the list:

35+5 points, 20 models

Captain Victoria Haley  +5 points
* Centurion  9 points
* Lancer  6 points
* Squire  2 points

Journeyman Warcaster  3 points
* Hunter  6 points

10 Long Gunners  10 points
* Long Gunner Officer & Standard  2 points
2x Stormsmith Stormcaller  1 point each

Only one unit, a new record.  The Long Gunners are unfortunate, both because of the damage they can pump out and because I get a headache trying to keep track of who has fired.  (Who thought RoF 2 and CRA was a good idea?  Sack them immediately, if not sooner.)  Haley herself is a piece of work, and Junior is no slouch either, but overall I didn't feel like I was climbing uphill immediately like I do against the usual Cryx infantry spam list.  Plus I might get to make use of all those Terror/Abomination models I have, to say nothing of all the "against living models" effects.

We rolled No Man's Land (8" strip down the middle, keep something inside it) scenario.  For a change we had no forests on the table, though I did plop a swamp/pond in the center to keep the tradition alive.  EV won the roll to go first and did, deploying mostly in the center.  Can you guess what my deployment was like?  Hint: it stars with "R" and ends with "efused flank."  I went heavy on the right to try and keep some cover between my troops and the Long Gunners for as long as possible.  My plan was pretty simple: get to the middle and smash things.  EV got to moving while I was still fishing out counters, so no setup picture.  Use your imagination.

Turn 1

EV ran most of his stuff forward and dropped a couple Arcane Shields around.  Did you know that a Centurion with Arcane Shield is ARM 24?  I responded by walking most of my troops forward, putting Draconic Blessing (+2 STR and Terror) on the Swordsmen, casting Fog of War, and finishing things off with a few Spiny Growths.

A note on models: the Shredder is the stunt Shepherd, while the Devastator plays the Seraph.  I picked the Devastator not for the hilarity of a big, slow jack subbing in for a light, fast beast, but because it was a compact model that didn't hang over its base too much.

Turn one.

Turn 2

The Hunter did the only noteworthy thing in EV's turn, hitting the painted Carnivean for a decent bit of damage.

Shoot it before it eats us all!

That was about it.  You can see what I assume was EV's plan shaping up: send the jacks up the middle (the redefined middle created by my eschewing the left side of the board that is) while the shooty bits hang back and shoot.  Of note, Temporal Barrier was cast.

Cygnar turn two.

Normally I'd be reluctant to slingshot my pieces forward for fear of over-extending them.  Today I was seized by a certain devil-may-case attitude.  Was it because pThaggy's feat brings a dead warbeast back to life, allowing me to catapult a Carnivean into EV's lines to eat stuff, die, and return to eat more stuff?  Was it because I drank most of my morning coffee as we were setting up?  Was it a precursor of a more aggressive, go-for-the-throat approach?  Who can say.  Whatever the reason, I decided to Slipstream a Carnivean up the field to let it munch on things.  First step: use the Seraph.  Four Strafe shots later, the Lancer had taken some decent damage.  Oh, and there was a Carnivean waiting to start eating.

Let's all pretend the Carnivean is about 6" back and that the Lancer is still on the table.

Next, the big guy stepped up.  Due to Temporal Barrier I couldn't charge it in, which meant no spray (Charges only), which meant my saucy route to the side of the ruins, engineered for maximum spray coverage, was for naught.  Still, it got the job done with aplomb.  Note that the Carni is perched atop the wall.  Obviously the model wouldn't stay there, so it got backed up a bit to actually stay on the table instead of toppling over and breaking into a thousand pieces.

Om nom nom nom.

In the center, things got real interesting.  Because I couldn't charge (love that Temporal Barrier), I decided to employ some of those Power Attacks I never use because I'm too busy charging.  Thagrosh started the fun by Slipstreaming the painted Carni up the field some and failing to spray the Stormsmith.  I kept a Fury on him to Transfer with since he was more exposed than I would have liked, then I got into the meat of it with the Carnivean.  As with the other Carni, the model wouldn't fit where it was on the table (it's really on the other side of the wall).  I picked such an odd spot to be sure that I could throw the Centurion and still attack the Hunter.  The two-handed throw and I are old friends thanks to the Kodiak, and this time I got a pleasant surprise: things worked out better than expected.  The grab went fine, I won the STR check easily, launched the Centurion at Haley (24 ARM doesn't help if you're getting chucked around), missed Haley, and deviated into the edge of the Long Gunners.  At first I thought I clipped Haley and three Gunners, but closer inspection (and EV telling me I was wrong) showed that I got only two Gunners, but also tagged Junior.  The Long Gunners were squashed with no need for dice, Haley took a point, and Junior ate enough damage to die as well.

All was not rosy though.  The Hunter that I had so carefully positioned my Carni to be in range of?  Inert when Junior died.

Carniveans: taking out the trash since around noon today.

The Swordsmen ran up to screen Thagrosh against charges and tie up the Stormsmith.  The turn had also started with the Shepherd healing the painted Carnivean.  Finally I ran the Forsaken around eating some Fury, though I'd still have one left floating after Leeching in the turn to come.  Riverboat gambling all the way.

Legion turn two.
Turn 3

To his credit, EV did not fold up the tent.  With one jack destroyed, another inert, and a third laying on top of his caster, it would have been easy to do so.  He seemed to have a plan though, moving Haley around behind the building (while casting Temporal Barrier of course), then sending in the Centurion.  After a bunch of uninspired rolls, I think Spiny Growth did more damage than the jack did.  Then, realization.  Slightly afterward, disaster.

Judging by his reaction, EV had intended to light up the Carnivean with a couple CRAs from the Long Gunners.  There were a couple problems with this.  First, the Carni was behind cover (DEF 11 becomes DEF 15).  Next, the Carni was in melee (DEF 15 becomes DEF 19, plus chance of hitting your own stuff).  Finally, you can't CRA into a melee.  This is when the tent folding occurred, though the Stormsmiths did try to fry the Carni before the turn ended.  I also moved the Carnivean up closer to its actual spot since the Centurion wasn't hogging all the ground anymore.

Cygnar turn three.

If Blood Bowl taught me anything (debatable, considering how bad I was at that game), it's that you should start with the sure things first before moving on to the riskier propositions.  As such, the Swordsmen walked calmly (no Charging thanks to Temporal Barrier) and started chopping up the Stormsmith.  The first one missed, the second connected, one less lightning dude.

MAT 7, P+S 13 Weapon Masters are scary.
While pondering my next move (maybe chuck the Centurion again), I realized that all EV had in the center strip was an inert warjack and part of a unit.  Without really meaning to, I had won.

This one wasn't entirely satisfying since the game hinged on EV getting in his own way and then (I assume) moving stuff out of the zone without thinking about scenario conditions.  That said, I think I had him over a barrel.  He was down to one jack (staring down a pissed-off Carnivean) and his caster had a beast waiting for a snack on either side of her.  The Long Gunners were almost at full strength, yes, and were perfectly capable of finishing off the (slightly) damaged Carnivean (or at least putting a big dent into it), but I also had Thagrosh's feat waiting to bring it back.  EV had lost two jacks, Junior, and some Gunners, while I had taken some damage on one of the Carniveans and nothing else.  Thus while I won in a less-than-satisfying manner I don't think it would have been too hard to have sealed the deal in the usual way.  The worst part of it all was that the game had gone just long enough to preclude another.

In the end I did learn a little from this game.  Top of the list: Slipstreaming with your caster is great fun.  I was considering a second Seraph to fling things around, but since my caster can do that I can get by with one.  For now.  (Seraphs are great).  I also learned that Thagrosh is a bad man...ogrun...thing.  Fury 7, nice stats, a spray, one free animus, recycle-a-beast, decent spells, what more can you ask for?  The medium base does mean he's a bit exposed, but he has a big enough control area to hang back a bit, and with Mutagenesis he can close the gap quickly.  At least on paper he can.

Report done the same day I played the game?  Madness.


  1. Yeah, I kind of lost it after flubbing up that activation in my last turn. Having my Piston Spear do roughly squat to that Carnivean didn't help the situation. I admit that I sort of ragequit the game- Well, I don't think I quite quit, but I was really on tilt.

    I honestly didn't see the Slipstream shenanigans coming. That was a learning experience to be sure. I also was educated as to keeping my eyes on the objective...


    Oh, well. Time to get to writing up a new list. I don't think that Lancer quite works in a charge/movement denial army- or maybe a denial army isn't such a hot idea to begin with.

  2. Denial is a great strategy, but one that seems a bit more suited to Steamroller scenarios. The ones in the book are pretty basic, but tournament scenarios start throwing in multiple zones and objectives, so keeping your opponent from moving, or only going where you want them too, works better. I also think playing jack heavy requires a different mindset and approach to the game, an approach I think I like more than the swarm of infantry style. Somehow threat vectors and chains of effects are more apparent, and easier to pull off, when I have 15 models to worry about instead of 35.

    Your dice did like me when your Centurion attacked (though you did get that crit on the first attack for free hits afterward), but these things happen. Considering the events of the last report I can't say I never lose focus during a game. Everyone hits bumps in the road, the trick is rolling with them and making the best of whatever situation you're in.