Monday, August 20, 2012

Tournament Mode: Soft to the Core

A different kind of softcore. 
This will be lackluster when compared with my other tournament recaps.  Hardcore timing does not encourage in-game photography.

Yesterday there was a Softcore event at my FLGS.  Perhaps you've seen murmurings about it on this very blog?  There was a good turn out, 14 in all I think, with a decent spread of factions.  There was uncertainty as to the turn out, in terms of both numbers and geography.  There was only one non-regular contender. of whom I'll speak in a bit, with the rest being part of the cast you'd likely see on any given Thursday at Game Parlor.  While I always like playing against different people, in a way it was nice to face familiar opponents as it removed one variable from the equation while testing a new(ish) list and format.  The previous post is about the list I ran and my rationale behind it, so if you've stumbled across this post and want some context just hop back one.  This post will wait until you get back, it's patient.

Still not quite right.
My first opponent was another round in an ongoing series: Danny and his (somewhat inspired) eVayl list.  Danny has been playing this list for a while and I've faced it more than a few times.  Attentive readers will notice more than a few similarities between our forces and recall my musing on Legionnaires + Pot being more suited to Vayl than Saeryn.  This was a very tight game, unsurprising considering how familiar of a match-up it was.  Danny misjudged placement on an arc-node-to-be Shredder which hampered his feat turn assassination enough that I escaped largely unharmed.  In what would become a theme for the day I had a decent setup for a run of my own that I bungled by forgetting to pop Saeryn's feat until I had ended her activation.  I felt like I was winning on attrition, but the clock became a factor much earlier than expected.  With the minutes dwindling I had to play more aggressively than I normally would, but to no avail.  I deathclocked myself after a trading another couple (more tentative) swipes at casters.  Aside from forgetting to feat, my most sterling moment occurred in the shower that morning.  While considering my match-up against eVayl I had a flash of inspiration: Banishing Ward would stop her from targeting my caster with spells, which would neuter her usual assassination vector of arced spells.  What I forget to factor in was Purification, which is likely the first spell cast on eVayl's feat turn.  Whoops.

The queen of softcore?  Perhaps.
Round two brought Fred, a former patron of the now defunct Game Parlor in Woodbridge.  He was the only Cryx player, which was a pleasant surprise, playing a Mortenebra list with lost of Satyixisesesesses, the Deathjack, two more heavies, and a few other pieces.  My prior knowledge of Mortenebra was confined to when I read the Forces of Cryx book and a few disbelieving exclamations one Thursday night when another Legion player was on the receiving end.  My initial impression was that getting something like 6 fully boosted, auto-hitting (sustained attack) attacks out of multiple jacks was a bit much, to say nothing of her feat turn.  Fred jammed hard with his Satyixis which created more problems than anticipated.  This was a pretty one-sided match, with me on the bad end, for the vast majority of the game.  Creating a streak, I forgot to feat once or twice this game, and it cost me dearly.  All was not gloomy though.  Since I hadn't used my feat at an appropriate time I still had it kicking around in later turns, which allowed me to pull out a textbook (if under-manned) assassination run to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  Fred played well and while I didn't think to ask him at the time I imagine I'll see him again at the Nova Open.

Artist's rendition, which I assure you is quite accurate.
For round three I drew my nightmare scenario: Gary with a Xerxis brick.  I listed high armor as one of Saeryn's shortcomings in the last post, so seeing Xerxis with Cetrati, two shield guards (Tiberion and a Brute), plus the usual other mitigating factors (Agonizer and Krea) was just about as bad as possible.  Gary plays in a sort of relentless, measured, Terminator-esque style that fits the list well.  At first I was hopeful that I could at least set all his mens on fire and hope for decent damage rolls with Shield Wall and other effects expired at the beginning of a turn, but a combination of an uncanny ability to come up with a fire-ending roll on his part and high enough innate armor to overcome my less than hoped for damage rolls meant my BBQ approach was ineffective.  The majority of my beasts were splattered when I forgot to feat, then I missed out on a long shot response assassination when I forgot to feat again.  Eventually Gary made a little feat token for me which was a nice touch even if the moment had passed (twice).  I punched a hole in the Cetrati wall once or twice to open a lane for Ravagores and Saeryn, but each time the dual Shield Guards and transfers were enough to stop any threat.  When I finally remembered my feat Gary responded by mobbing my 3-4 remaining pieces, ringing them in bodies to disallow any counter-punch.  I thought I had a shot anyway but couldn't quite wiggle Saeryn out of melee after casting the Angel's animus with her to spread out her assailants.  I clocked myself before I could finish the final, longer-than-long shot attempt.  After the round was over I was explaining to a couple other contestants that Gray is akin to my own kryptonite.  He's a good player whose pace is just slow enough to give me fits as if I were a hitter sitting on a 95 mph fastball that just can't lay off the 65 mpg slider in the dirt.  It also doesn't help that he always seems to have the list perfectly suited to counter mine (Xerxis here, pKreuger when I run Khador high DEF infantry).  One day I'll figure out this match-up, but that day is not yet here.

Now the beard is on the other foot.  Still accurate.
For the last round I got Hawk, who minutes before pairings were announced told me that me : him : : gary : me (you never thought you'd see that sort of setup outside the SATs, eh?).  He has a point as I've historically unsettled his game in the same way Gary does for me, which is to say effortlessly and completely.  Hawk was taking advantage of the option to bring two lists, one pMadrak and the other pDoomshaper.  He asked which list I'd rather face and I replied that I figured he'd play the Doomie list since it seemed like a better match-up to me, having a heavy ranged element (Bomber, Impaler, Pyre, Doomie himself along with Trollses) as opposed to the more melee-centric Madrak list.  Hawk thought the Madrak list would work out better, which is something I should have followed up on, but played the Doomshaper list all the same.  In addition to the above it also featured Viktor Pendrake, Alten Ashley, Bushwhackers, Bone Grinders, Champions, and maybe another piece or two.  This was another closely contested, if somewhat sloppy, game that followed the usual trajectory that our games do.  We both forgot to feat early which turned things into a meat grinder.  Hawk was careful to not kill my Legionnaires, denying them a Vengeance move, while I eventually worked out how to use the Legionnaires to (somewhat) account for Tough when using CMAs.  I managed to put some decent damage on Doomie while Hawk succeeded in killing many of my beasts.  I ended up camping a lot of Fury and drawing Saeryn away from the front lines when I was way ahead on time, with the predictable result that Hawk ran out of clock well before I did.  Not the most glorious path to victory, but when you're scrapping to get to .500 you take any advantage you can get.

Not as awesome as this Dethklok.
I ended up 2-2 for the day with one game decided by caster kill and the rest by the clock, which feels like a pretty accurate record.  While it's impossible to say for sure, and knowing that the presence of the clock affects how you play, I think I had a good shot against Danny if time hadn't been a factor and my game against Hawk would have turned against me quickly if we'd kept playing.  The clock itself was the biggest surprise on the day.  This was not my first time with the format and time had rarely been a factor before, though admittedly I'd played perhaps 5 games with the Hardcore rules previously.  My experience was not unique with most folks (anecdotally) having most games decided by the clock.

McKayla is skeptical.  Expect this to get a lot of use.
Less surprising was how my list, and myself, performed.  Going in to the tournament I felt like my list required too much of my opponent, namely them bringing their caster far enough forward to be in range of the Angels (ideally while my line still held).  Legionnaires are great at dying and feeding the pot, but beyond that they're not too effective.  I knew this going in and hoped that they would perform well, but the reality left something to be desired.  During an extensive post-event debriefing session I got some good feedback on alternate list items and different approaches to Saeryn's feat (beyond remembering to use it) which generated a spat of list iteration.  I'm inclined to document the process of refining my list on the road to the Nova Open, so much so that I've started assembling a piece or three on Legionnaires, their place (or lack thereof) in said list, and what (if anything) I'll replace them with.  Of course I have plenty of my painting and assembling plate which will make doing a series of in-depth(ish) posts a challenge, but we'll see how that goes. 

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