Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Finishing up crossroads of courage


              A couple weeks ago I finished the first season of Crossroads of courage.  This also concluded my test run of Zerkova I, she of the cold heart and dark secrets. 

 

My List:


·       Decimator

·       Decimator

·       Man-o-War Bombardiers

·       Man-o-War Kovnik

·       Holden Courage

 

I faced Pete and the master assassin.  This was a rematch from old times.  We have faced each other many times over the last year.

 

Pete’s list:

·       Lord Assassin Morghoul

·       Reptile Hounds

·       Archidon

·       Titan Gladiator

·       Paingiver Bloodrunners

·       Legends of Halaak


·       Extoller Soulward

·       Holden Courage

 

The battlefield featured a ruin to the left, a barrier in my near deployment zone, a high tower to the right, and a crater field in the middle.

 

1.     Pete won the roll and chose to go second.  I deployed Zerkova and a decimator to the left of the barrier.  The man-o-wars, Holden, and the other decimator went on the right.  Pete put Morghoul and his battle group dead center.  The legends went right.  The rest of the infantry went left.

2.       The Kovnik walked forward and put desperate pace on the bombardiers.  The bombardiers and the right hand decimator ran up and left in front of the obstacle.  The left decimator moved up to complete my standard defensive wall with a jack on either end of the mow’s line.  Zerkova cast watcher, dropped her cloud wall, and ran up behind the line.  Pete sent the legends to flank right, using the tower for a shield.  The runners and the extoller ran to flank left.  Morghoul’s battle group came straight down the middle.

3.       Ok, if he wants to play the pincer game I’m down with that.  I premeasured everyone’s threat range and made some notes.  The thing with Zerkova going first is that she has no range top of turn two.  Without objectives and kill box in play she is better off castling up—forcing the other guy to come to you.  I moved everyone up a couple inches, dropped the wall, and passed the turn.  Pete moved up, put his flankers ready to charge, and left his battle group staring down the man-o-war wall.

4.       Game time!  The decimators could not get into range (stupid SPD 4.)  Zerkova let watcher expire.  I took a second and worked out the order of activation.  The Kovnik walked right to intercept the legends and put desperate pace on the bombardiers.  I should have taken a shot but forgot he had a gun.  The right hand decimator killed one of the legends but missed the second shot.  Holden took a shot and missed.  The bombardiers walked up to the edge of 5 inches of Morghoul—tag.  The MOW went all-in on a CRA and hit Morghoul for 12 which was transferred to the gladiator.  The left decimator took a shot at the gladiator, hit, boosted damage, and rolled triple 6.  That effectively took the big guy out of the game.  Zerkova walked up, popped feat, and threw a boosted true sight hex blast at Morghoul.  The shot missed and scattered into no man’s land—crap.  I panicked, blood runners within walking distance of my caster’s back 180, and spent my remaining focus on a frost hammer.  Two runners died and the extoller powered up—double crap.  Zerkova’s feat limited what Pete could do but he did his best.  Morghoul moved up, popped feat, and killed off a bombardier.  The reptile hound walked up and damaged a trooper.  The archidon charged the right decimator doing significant damage.  The legends walked in, killed the kovnik, and did some more damage to the decimator.  The extoller took a shot at Zerkova and missed.  The blood runners walked up and did a couple points of damage to Zerkova (bad dice for the win.)  They repositioned out of combat.

5.       Zerkova allocated 2 focus to the decimator.  She shook blind, moved ahead, cast ghost walk on the MOW, and zapped the extoller into oblivion.  The decimator shook blind, charged Morghoul, boosted to hit, and missed—triple crap.  The bombardiers built a wall of meat between Morghoul and Zerkova.  They swung and missed due to blind.  The far decimator tried for the legends but missed.  Morghoul retreated from combat.  The hound killed a bombardier.  The legends and archidon finished off the right decimator.  The blood runners took a shot at Zerkova, again, but only caught air.  They repositioned out of combat, again.

6.       Zerkova allocated 1 to the decimator, walked up, hit Morghoul with a boosted frost hammer, left him stationary, and did major damage which got transferred to the hound—killing it and knocking the master assassin down a couple boxes.  I throughout a final frost hammer, auto hit, and killed Morghoul since the archidon was out of his control range.

 

Thoughts:

1.       I made a lot of mistakes this game.  I need to learn to push Zerkova farther forward against armies with no ability to penetrate clouds.  I forgot the shield on the Kovnik and did not take a shot with him when I had the chance.  He could have done damage and might have otherwise survived.  I should not have left her on 0 camp so often.

2.       I am really beginning to dislike decimators.  They did a great job for me in my journeyman league but here in a wide open format they just do not have the range to get the job done.  Zerkova wants her team to reduce the enemy at range before making contact—god knows she is not winning any awards for speed—so I am beginning to think I would be better served with destroyers.

3.       We played caster kill—again—because it was what most of the players could handle.  That being said, I think we have reached the limits of that scenario.  Assassination is all well and good but it provides for little strategic variety.  I am looking forward to the new CID steamroller rules if for no other reason than it will give a nice change.

4.       I love MOW.  Base armor 16 and 8 wounds is just enough to give people problems.  The offensive output is nice.  The challenge all that metal clad meat provides is the best.  Over and over again they have held up the opposing advance until the rest of my forces can get the job done.

5.       I am becoming increasingly sure that MK III is all about the threat range.  I mean…not like that is any different than before but I keep getting pulled to models specifically due to their ability to reach out and touch the other side.  I want to make the decimator work and against a conventional force it is fine.  The catch is that “fine” is not enough with the prevalence of high armor and heavy shooting lists.

6.       I cannot figure out what Zerkova “wants to do.  It is not a question of making her work—more of purpose and synergy.  Casters like Butcher I are obvious generalists.  Casters like Irusk are specialists.  Zerkova does not seem to fall into either of those categories.  Other than hiding behind the cloud bunker she does not have a clear purpose.

 

Season I is done.  Counting victories I took first.  Counting fate points I tied with Cheryl.  That’s the end of the campaign for me.  The group has fallen apart and I do not have the time or contacts to raise a new community sadly.  I am going to keep playing with friends until I can find another store.  Next up, reviews of Zerkova and demolition corps.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Crossroads of Courage, Round 4


A couple weeks ago I ran my store’s third week warmachine narrative campaign.  One of my friends came off a three-year hiatus to play Cygnar.  Much was learned—painfully in some cases.

 

My list or going full defense:

·       Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova

·       Decimator

·       Decimator

·       Man-o-War Shocktroopers (Full)

·       Man-o-War Kovnik

 

I do not tech against specific players.  I do customize my lists to the mission.  I knew I would need to escort a messenger, so I went with the iron wall of shock troopers and some ranged punch with the decimators.  I hoped the Kovnik could speed things up and act as a backup messenger should Holden fall.

 

Most of my crew are very new to MKIII and warmachine in general.  I chose to face my friend’s list so as to get in some quality teaching.  I suspected it would be an up-hill fight and I was right.

 

Cheryl’s list, Melee? Where we’re going we don’t need melee:


·       Arcane Tempest Gun Mages



(all in the sons of the tempest theme)

 

       My initial reaction was “Gee, the first two turns are going to suck but after that I should be in melee.”  This was mission 3 in season 1 for crossroads of courage.  I had to Shepard a messenger around the board till he came within 6 inches of the drop off point…which Cheryl picked in advance but I did not know about beforehand.  The major terrain elements were a large hedge and wall in my zone slightly behind and to the right of a huge central forest.  Farther back in Cheryl’s zone was a large hill section.

 

1.       Cheryl won the role off and chose to go first.  The firefly, gun mages, and cyclone took the right while the black 13th, Sloan, and the hunter split left.  I refused flank to the right with my jacks bracketing the shock trooper wall just in front of Zerkova and my kovnik.  I figured that with speed 4, I was not going to get to much terrain so assassination was my only real option.

2.       Team long shot ran forward after it was determined that even Sloan could not shoot my list on turn one through a forest, obstacles, and cover—let alone in my deployment zone—though she came darned close.  Zerkova cast ghost walk on the shock troopers and ran forward.  The Kovnik gave shockies desperate pace and walked around the hedge.  The Shockies ran 10 inches straight forward ignoring the hedge (ghost walk is the nutz!)  Both jacks ran around the hedge.

3.       Sloan cast fire group and guided fire while moving up to take a shot at one of my jacks.  Cheryl split her fire (am I the only person stunned that gun mages can get 14 inches on their guns?)  The firefly and hunter got a shock trooper down to 1 box.  The damaged decimator blew the gun off the firefly.  The Kovnik gave the man-o-war desperate pace.  The shockies moved forward in shield wall.  Zerkova dropped some clouds to block off the gun mages line of sight (stupid true sight jacks.)

4.       Cheryl moved up her infantry to support her forces with the black 13th up front, the cyclone and hunter running interference, and the gun mages camping out with Sloan on the hill.  I lost a shock trooper and took significant damage to a decimator.  I ran everything forward and popped feat.  I pushed as far forward as I could manage knowing that Fire group put Sloan and the hunter outside her control range and thus in assassination territory if I was careless.

5.       This is where the game fell apart—what-the-fuck?!?!  Fire group means that all those jacks have 2 inches longer range.  Cloud wall is useless since true sight cuts through it like butta.  If I put Zerkova forward enough to cover her army at maximum range, she gets assassinated.  If I held her back then everything (even the gun mages can get up to range 14 on their own) can walk into range of something while holding outside her feat.  Sloan popped feat, casts guided fire, and fire group.  With the hunter’s help, she took down one of the decimators.  The rest of her army unloaded.  I ended up with another trooper dead, one more on one box, my other decimator damaged, and seriously demoralized.  I tried to counter with an all-out run into combat/a long shot decimator assassination but the range was not there.  I killed what was left of the firefly but by the end of Cheryl’s next turn I was left with some of a jack, my Kovnik, Holden (dead once already), and Zerkova.  I conceded because Sloan and reasons.  Victory to Swans…and Cheryl…and Sloan…frigging Sloan.

Thoughts:

1.       My challenge with Sloan is not her lethality or that of her battle group (which is considerable.)  A basic two-inch range extension on jacks that shoot farther than me, more accurately, and come stock with longer base movement is difficult to counter without dedicated list shenanigans.  The hunter has a combined thread of 22 inches under Sloan (14 gun plus 2 for fire group plus 6-inch base move.)  The cyclone (arguably one of Cygnar’s worst value heavies) makes it up to 19 inches.  Sloan aint just whistling Dixie at 22 inches herself either—and that’s before we count in refuge.  The destroyer has a maximum threat range of 18 inches including a nice walk.  The decimator caps out at a measly 14 inches.  Sure, I can buy up to a colossal or a gun carriage but at a certain point the investment hits diminishing returns.  I can’t repel firepower of that range increment.

2.       The gun mages thunder slamming my shock troopers out of shield wall was…how shall I delicately put this…frigging rude.  That extra four-point unit attachment would have made a big difference.  It probably would not have won me the game but it would have made the shock troopers a legitimate obstacle—something else to get painted.

3.       I am withholding judgment on the MOW Kovnik.  Maybe with something worth advancing my opinion will change.  He did not make much of a difference in this game but then I cannot think of anything I could have spent his 5 points on that would have swung the tide.

4.       It feels like Cygnar is objectively better value than big red.  This is not a complaint as much as a design observation.  Sloan’s combination of tools and and abilities kicks most balanced lists out of the ball park.  I have no hill to stand on (I have been hiding behind my impenetrable cloud wall for most of this season.)  It is the difference between Zerkova capping out at focus 8 instead of 7.  One counters basic shooting.  The other locks down all but the biggest guns and fastest platforms on Z1’s feat turn. Sloan does exactly what she was intended to do and has a great toolbox to pick from.  By comparison, I feel Zerkova comes up a little short.  I suppose the grass is always bloodier on the other side.

5.       Lest my bitching give the wrong impression, this was a great game. I learn best by getting my teeth kicked in and I have not had to concede a game in three years—ah the sweet pain of knowledge.  Warmachine is a game of rock-paper-scissors.  My rock got covered by the paper shell casings of Cheryl’s barrage.  You learn to deal with reality or you rage quit—and I am not a quitter.  This is why tournaments allow multiple lists and specialists.

6.       I honestly do not know what I am going to field for Sunday’s end of season game.  I really do not like 25 points—just enough room to make you feel like you have some flexibility but not enough room to really take some options.

 

My new job limits my writing time so the next update may take a while.  Be assured I shall chronicle the end of season one as well as my thoughts on several models/units.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Crossroads of courage Round III


              Sunday I returned to my LGS to run our third entry in the season 1 of crossroads of courage campaign.  Since last month I ran straight up caster kill, this time we went for the second scenario in the pack.  The players wanted to play 1 2x2 game rather than 2 1x1 games.  I figured it would be a good learning session for the newer members so I gave the people what they wanted.

 

              I knew going into this mess that I had a problem.  I needed to remain relevant and I did not have many options at 15 points.  Zerkova is not a strong all jack caster—plenty of focus but 0 straight up support.  Short of throwing down a bunch of solos, my options were widowmakers, demolition corps, or Rorsh & Brine.  Widowmakers were right out owing to the preponderance of dwarven casters.  R&B give a nice assassination threat but are pants against heavy armor—which is most of what you’ll see at 15 points.  Demolition corps are super slow but ruin anything they manage to engage.  (cue jeopardy music.)  Once I figured out that the other players were 2 dwarves and C.O.C it was a no brainer.  The demolition corps hit the field again.

 

My list:


·       Decimator

·       Juggernaut

·       Man-o-War Demolition Corps (Full)

·       Holden Courage

 

My friend Mike wanted to pair up with me…and the other 2 guys were bringing stunties so I was all for it.  Mike is a newer player who I hope we are teaching well.

 

Mike’s list Convergence, once more with feeling!

·       Forge Master Syntherion

·       Corollary

·       Galvanizer

·       Cipher

·       Modulator

·       Attunement Servitors

·       Holden Courage

 

I have to hand it to Mike.  He has gotten kicked around a lot in this league.  He keeps coming back a little wiser each time.  He seems to really enjoy the experience.  I’ll be working with him later to get him up to 25 points (suggestions are appreciated.)

 

Our opponents brought some serious firepower.  I have grown to hate facing dwarves.  Ranged knockdown is just flat out annoying.  Ranged knockdown that sets you on fire is terrifying.

 

Pete’s list, bringing the noise with style:


·       Rockram

·       Tactical Arcanist Corps


·       Holden Courage

 

Jayson’s list, or I’m coming for you “Puff Puff”:



·       Holden Courage

 

Since Mike was a sewer and the rest of us are reapers, we diced off.  Mike and I ended up as the defenders for scenario purposes.  This was sub-optimal from my perspective.  One of the reaper special goals is to kill off the old mining guy we had to escort to the opposing deployment zone.  The dwarves had friendly faction synergies all over the place and could brick up around that objective knowing that we had to come to them.  Couple that with a ton of boostable AOE shooting and I had concerns.  Playing Zerkova into this kind of opposition poses some interesting challenges.  On the one hand, none of the enemy can see through your cloud wall.  Dropping 7 focus lets lady Z place 12 inches of LOS blocking cloud.  On the other hand, that’s her entire stack.  If you want to do anything else, you are going to have to come out of your misty bunker to play.  Mike and I ran through our options (limited.)  We decided the best plan would be for Zerkova to cover our advance as long as possible.  I would escort the old guy into the zone.  Mike would delay and confound as much as possible.  I have no idea what the other side’s plan was but we had a strategy and by Menoth we were going to give it our best shot—frigging double avalanchers.

 

       We won the roll and decided to go first.  We put the scoring objective dead center at the front of the opposing zone.  For purposes of this fight the only important terrain was one of those long green felt hills with rocks on either end (you know the one that goes on the green felt 4x4 with the road running diagonally across, the same one every gaming store has.)  The hill was the only obstacle in our way which was handy what with our lack of pathfinder.  The rocks were going to give us trouble but I was more worried about the fact that the straight line approach put us in several fields of overlapping fire.  My plan was to hide behind the clouds as long as possible and then ram my giant steam-powered brick down their throat, hopefully giving me enough room for the old guy to score.  It was a pretty good plan if Mike could keep some of the pressure off me and if I could protect him long enough to get stuck in.

 

1.       I deployed with the demolition corps in line abreast on my shiny new movement tray.  The juggernaut was to their left and the decimator was to their right anchoring the steel wall.  Zerkova and old objective guy held back a couple of inches so as to not get clipped by blasts.  Holden deployed up and right, attached to the MOW within their command range.  Mike worked around my deployment getting ready to duck behind Zerkova’s mobile cover when we started moving.  The other guys deployed their forces as far forward as possible with Pete’s group covering left and Jayson’s covering right.  Pete’s Holden and the TAC swung left while Jayson’s Holden and Eiryss moved right to flank.

2.       The wall activated and ran forward.  I did not bother with watcher since by the time it got activated either I would be doing the charging or I would need that upkeep focus for other things.  Zerkova placed 4 cloud templates using the metal ring idea I cribbed from Pete last time (so simple.)  Zerkova and her little buddy ran up staying behind the center of my line.  Using the 8 inch adjustable measuring stick and the movement tray my turn took no time at all.  Mike crammed in behind me and put hotshot on the modulator.  The other team advanced their flankers and jockeyed for best placement for when we came into range.

3.       Our block ran forward and kept up the cloud wall (it’s amazing how fast your turn goes when all you have to do is drop 4 templates.  No dice rolling is pretty sweet.  Eiryss and Holden managed to swing wide enough to get a shot at my battle group.  They disrupted and pinged the decimator for one point.  Pete’s Avalancher hit a bank shot onto one of Mike’s vectors but since most of them were immune to knockdown nothing spectacular happened.

4.       Top of turn three, I knew the elf had to go down.  If I did not get rid of her I would spend the rest of the game disrupted or without focus which was pretty much an auto-loss.  I told Mike I was coming out of the bunker.  The demolition corps took a hard right turn and ran with the farthest right trooper engaging Jayson’s holden on the diagonal.  They had a reasonable line of sight around the hill for next turn shenanigans.  The decimator walked right to bookend the left most MOW.  The juggernaut did not have any valid charge targets so he moved up in line with the decimator.  Zerkova walked up, drew a bead on Eiryss, popped feat, and used her true sight artifact to lob a boosted hex blast right into the elf’s face (first blood, Khador!)  As a bonus, Jayson’s Holden was caught in the blast.  Boosted damage put him down for the first time—though because of his special rule he would get back up again next turn.  My Holden ran up to within 5 inches of the engaged Holden and set up shop.  Mining guy took up station beside Zerkova.  Mike took down Pete’s Holden for the first time and Moved to take best advantage of Zerkova’s no shooty bubble.  The dwarves were not prepared for the lateral move and so had to scramble.  Both of my jacks were hit multiple times, knocked down, and set on fire but remained fully operational.  My left most demolition corps took some damage, was set on fire, and knocked down.  Because of Zerkova’s feat, the gun bunnies could not shoot so moved up for some next round fun with the demolition corps.  Jayson’s Holden swung at his MOW and missed.

5.       This is where I would have been in trouble with most casters.  Fire did some damage to the left most demolition corps.  My jacks were allocated a focus in addition to their power up.  The jacks spent one to stand up and another to run up and over the hill standing on the down slope with the rocks to either side.  Zerkova activated, cast ghost walk on the MOW, dropped two clouds to block off where the demolition corps would be moving, and ran past the line to hug the right side of the hill.  The two farthest left MOW charged out of combat with Holden and into combat with the gun bunnies.  The others ran except for the left most one who walked after standing up.  The two demolition corps crushed the gun off one jack and broke the movement on the other.  My Holden looked down the barrel of his service weapon and mortally double tapped his alter ego.  Mike repaired a lot of stuff, did a little bit of damage, and set up for charges next turn.  Had I been playing the dwarves, I would have retreated to fortify the objective marker—obliterating anything that came into range next turn.  They chose to counter assault—throwing their kitchen sink at my advance.  Mike’s vectors took some more damage to little affect—it’s amazing how little damage bothers you when you know your entire army is going to self-repair next turn.  Pete blew the movement and gun off my decimator.  The juggernaut ate a safe cracker shot and got hit with powder keg losing his initial attacks next turn.  The gun bunnies bashed their opponents for minimal damage.  The basher moved up and further scratched the decimator’s paint job.  I placed my force in such a way that there was really no good option for Gorten to feat.  If he moved me back, the jacks would go back behind the hill but the MOW would get stopped by the rocks.  If he moved me forward, I would end up closer to the objective.  Moving me left would just jam my demolition corps farther down his throat.  Moving me right would push the MOW farther away but leave my jacks standing on the hill against the rocks on the far side.  Jayson is a standup guy.  He forgot that obstacles and intervening models stopped the move.  He chose to go right which hit my entire army except for Zerkova and objective guy.  Critically, the rocks stopped my jacks in melee range of Gorten with 0 camp—oops.  I gave him the chance to take it back but he chose too take the lesson on the nose.

6.       I allocated max focus to the jacks.  Fire happened with much sound and fury signifying nothing.  The demolition corps and Holden Ran back left to their previous line.  The decimator powered up its saw and cut into Gorten missing its initial, boosting and hitting with its first bought attack, and auto hitting with the third attack thanks to sustained attack.  The juggernaut bought three attacks and finished off the dwarf rendering the rest of Jayson’s army inoperable.  Zerkova and her elderly friend moved up and left behind the MOW.  She dropped two smoke clouds fully screening her from Pete’s jacks.  Mike repaired again, killed Pete’s Holden, and took the shield off the avalancher.  Pete did not have a lot of options.  Mike was about to engage his entire front, I still had a fully operational juggernaut coming down the center line, and those beautiful demolition corps were about to roll up his flank.  He decided that the best plan was to set everything on fire and hope for the best—a typically Madhammer choice.  Madhammer’s jacks lobbed templates all over Mike’s forces.  The corollary survived on one box.  Madhammer dropped a ground pounder shot into my right-most MOW leaving him on fire and at one box.  There was a bunch more scattering which left another trooper down to 3 boxes.

7.       Mike furiously began repairing.  I looked at the board and double checked Corbeau’s rules.  Fine.  Fire continued without affect.  The juggernaut was allocated 1 focus.  The Juggy used one focus to stand up and ran into melee range with Pete’s warcaster attachment—she was just out of range of the charge.  Zerkova activated, cast ghost walk on the demolition corps, and climbed two thirds of the way up the hill.  Using the five inch range extender, she hex blasted the juggernaut in the back and killed Corbeau with boosted blast damage.  Three of the demolition corps charged into combat with Madhammer on four camp—the rest of the unit piled in behind.  The first MOW swung for 31 netting 9 points after powerfield.  The second swung for 27 netting 6 points and freezing Madhammer.  The third swung for 24 netting the final 2 points required to assassinate the dwarf.  Victory via team assassination.

 

This was the first fight in a long time where I felt like I honestly had a handle on the game.  Part of that came from shortening my turns and part came from having done my homework.  Having an actual scenario made for a dynamic and interesting game—even if it did come down to assassination in the end.

 

Thoughts:

1.       Zerkova has a lot of tools.  It took me a while to see past her spell list to see how it combines with her artifacts to give her a variety of options.  Granted, she does not have a lot of strategic depth but she has more at her fingertips than it first appears.

2.       I never thought I would say this but I am beginning to like demolition corps.  With some protection going in they are quite nice once you get them rolling.  I have to try shock troopers to see how they compare but as of now they have done a lot of work for me.  This leads me to wonder if the issue in the previous journeyman league might have been Kozlov and not the hammer boys.

3.       I took first place in this session so Jayson (my painter) got my earnings, 2 marauders, Butcher I, and a rager kit to paint up.  After that it’s conquest time.  I so want range 15 critical devastation.

4.       March’s session goes up to 25 points and will focus on 1x1 games.  I am really hoping to convince Deathquaker to finish my shock trooper unit attachment before that happens.  The full shock boat plus kovnik is exactly 25 points.  Barring that I may have to get creative.

5.       The more I watch Mike learning convergence the more impressed I am with the faction’s versatility—and the more I am convinced I would be a terrible convergence player.

6.       I am really beginning to dislike blast deviation.  It clogs up turns so much.  Scatter here, check the distance, agree on the direction…it just makes it hard to keep the mental momentum going during my opponent’s turn.

 

That’s it for now.  Our next game is 3/25.  Mike has already put in his order for his additional models and I am furiously thinking about the mission requirements.  Zerkova is growing on me with every game.  I wonder what other subpar models I can have fun with.