Saturday, December 17, 2011

Steamroller 2012 - First Impressions

Today I participated in a 35 point Steamroller tournament using the 2012 Steamroller rules.  The organizer asked me not to share the actual rules on here, but I'm sure you can search somewhere on the internet to find the final beta of the rules.  Today's tournament focused on the "flanking" scenarios using reinforcements, so I figured I would weigh in on my impressions of the new steamroller rules.  Oh, and if anyone is wondering, I did not do too well today.

It was a two-list tournament, and if you were not aware, character restriction is now standard.  That means that any character models cannot be repeated between lists.  To be honest, this doesn't really ruin anything at the end of the day, and those of us who played didn't really feel any difference - and that includes a Minion and a Mercenary player.  All it really means is that the lists are more diverse.  What was interesting was the addition of reinforcements.  What this means is that you need to add extra points of models after your normal list is made, which will arrive via reinforcements on any turn (of your choice) after your first.  The kicker is that warbeasts that enter as reinforcements can be forced outside of their warlock's control area, and warjacks receive 3 free focus.  When they arrive via reinforcements, they are placed within 3" of your right board edge.  This sounds pretty game-breaking, but once I realized that the reinforcement line only extends 20" up your board edge on turn 2+, most of your models will be that far up the field anyway, so it's not a big deal.

I'll talk about this more at the end, but one of the big features of the new SR rules (in my mind) is that the time limits have been reduced further from before.  I struggled to complete games in the time limits before, and these new times are no exception.  What this meant is that I had a 37 minute death clock that ticked-down on my turn or whenever I was doing something with a model on the opponent's turn (like free strikes).

Here are the lists that I took:
pBaldur (+6)
- Megalith (10*)
- Woldwarden (8*)
- Woldwyrd (5)
Sentry Stone + Mannikins (3)
Shifting Stones (2)
Shifting Stones (2)
- Stone Keeper (1)
Druid Stoneward + Woldstalkers (5)
Druid Stoneward + Woldstalkers (5)

pKrueger (+5)
- Woldwarden (9)
- Woldwarden (9)
- Feral Warpwolf (9)
Druids of Orboros (7)
- Druid Overseer (2)
Shifting Stones (2)
Shifting Stones (2)

Reinforcements (both lists):
Druids of Orboros (7)

Vulnerable to lightning
First game I played a game against a local Menoth player, who I also played against at the NETT this summer (he played his Cryx).  He's a great player and with either list he brought I though that I'd have a solid chance with pKrueger with all of my chain-lightning spam.  He took Thyra with some Daughters and Knights Exemplar.  Sure enough, I was able to clear out swathes of his infantry and I wiped out most of his force, but I ran out of time in the end.  After the time ran out, we walked through what I needed to do and if I had 3 more minutes, I would have been able to finish him off after all.  DAMN!  So close!

The anti-Baldur

For the second game, I was matched-up against a Gator player.  I decided that my best bet was to take my pBaldur list because I could slow him down enough to make sure that I was the one to get the alpha strike, and with all non-living models, I could neutralize his gatormen a bit.  Unfortunately, he took Maelok, and the ridiculous ARM values of his gatormen proved too much, and his feat basically cancelled out mine (incorporeal trumps rough terrain).  He charged a full unit of gators into Baldur and while he survived, the following turn I had lined up an assassination against Maelok with a forest sitting right next to him, while Baldur was sitting in one himself.  Unfortunately, even with Stone Skin on him via Geomancy from a Woldwarden, the DEF on Maelok dropped thanks to nearby Megalith, no beasts for him to transfer to, and 5 fury to play with, I was unable to finish off an ARM 21 Maelok.  When the dust cleared, he was sitting on 5 life and was able to easily kill Baldur.  DAMN!  Again, so close!

Demoralized with my two close losses, I played against the Mercenary player (who is a playtester for PP and a great guy).  He decided to take McBain with lots of Kayazy and an all-star cast of solos.  I decided I had no choice but to go with pKrueger and hope my lightning would save me.  Unfortunately, I did not understand how awesome McBain's feat is with Kayazy, and I was pretty fried and continued my downward spiral.  I made some really noob mistakes and I ended up losing by scenario in the end.  This game was really lousy, and I think I was just so thrown by my previous two games that I just didn't have my head in the game and made some bad mistakes.  That said, I did learn a lot from that game, and am still in [somewhat] good spirits.

I think this guy will be a great flanker
So what do I think?  I think that the reinforcements are an interesting addition and I think that they are pretty balanced.  However, what I think is most difficult for me is the fact that I chose a unit for my reinforcements - and one that takes a lot of time to use (placing vortex templates, lots of rolling, etc.).  While it's neat to have an extra 7 points, it means I was essentially playing a 42 point game, but with less time than a 35 point game in SR 2011!  This means that time limits are going to be a huge barrier to play (in my opinion) and reinforces my opinion that Steamroller is not for new players.  I know that I lost my first game due to not enough time, and I know that I played way more aggressively my second game than I usually do because I was hyper-aware of the time.  I know that to prepare for the team tournament I will have to get lots more practice in because I think this will be the biggest change.  I think that this also means that we will be seeing more 'jacks/'beasts as reinforcements, because it means that they take less time to use, and I think that we will be seeing less infantry on the table in general at tournaments in 2012 because these time limits mean managing your time much better than before.

I don't even want to think about what Hardcore will be like...
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