Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Debriefing: 25 point "Ambush" (part 2)

On Sunday I participated in a 25 point "Ambush" style tournament, where each scenario played used the Reinforcements artifice.  In part 1 I shared the lists that I brought to the tournament and shared the general results from my first two games.  After both of those games I was feeling pretty good, but I felt like I still had room to improve and I had to keep on my game.  I had made some big errors with my first game with Sloan and I was determined to make sure I did not repeat those errors.  Similarly, I needed to make sure that I kept the scenario in mind, as I had yet to earn any control points and those could be huge in future games.  Boy, was I right!

Match 3
Scenario: Outflank, Outfight, Outlast
Opponent’s List:
eStryker (+6)
- Stormclad (10)
- Centurion (9)
Sword Knights (full, 6)
Archduke Runewood (3)
eEiryss (3)
Black 13th (4)
Stormsmith (1)
This was an embarrassingly short game.  This match was against Mike – apparently the best player by reputation at The Battle Standard.  We both took the game seriously and he played the game brilliantly.  His other list was a Sloan list that looked similar to the one I brought but with a Stormclad and Hunter instead of the Stormwall.  I figured that he would not try to out-shoot me since I was rocking a Colossal in both of my lists, so I figured I’d have better luck bringing the pStryker list out to play.

I made a huge mistake on my first turn.  I had never played this scenario before and anyone who hasn’t played it really should, because it’s very different than the other scenarios.  I should have run the Colossal first turn to get into the left-most zone, but I had hoped that with Snipe that I’d be able to throw my Covering Fire templates further out to prevent him from getting into the zone.   That was my first mistake.  By not getting into that zone, my opponent was able to clog up the Colossal and by moving Eiryss within 5” of the Colossal it meant I couldn’t allocate any focus to move.  I had committed heavily to the right side while leaving the Colossal only slightly on the left when I should have felt more confident with it (since my opponent’s reinforcements weren’t going to do anything to the Stormwall anyway).

So, what happened was that I didn’t have enough of what I needed to clear out room for the Colossal and I activated it prematurely and then realized that I had no models to contest the zone.  My opponent had scored a point on his second turn for that left-most zone and without me having anything to contest it, he was easily going to win by control points.  I had to concede with little game time elapsed.  It was embarrassing but I realized that I don’t like that scenario.  While I certainly had the tools to deal with it and I can only blame myself, I shudder to think how mean that scenario is to Hordes players – especially those with low Fury because it basically requires you to stick to the middle to barely control both zones.  In 25 points this is exaggerated even more and the scenario really favors infantry-heavy armies and that automatically limits most Hordes players from being able to do much of anything (Trollbloods excluded).  I really hope that Privateer Press changes that scenario in SR 2013 because right now I think it’s overly punishing to small armies and any PG should make sure that the scenario doesn’t get played in anything less than 35 points or else Hordes players will complain quite loudly.

Match 4:
Scenario: A Flag Too Far
Opponent’s List:
pMadrak (+6)
- Mauler (9)
Kriel Stone Bearer (full, 4)
- Stone Scribe Elder (1)
Kriel Warriors (min, 4)
- 2 Caber Throwers (2)
- Piper and Standard (2)
Kriel Warriors (min, 4)
- 2 Caber Throwers (2)
- Piper and Standard (2)
Fennblades (min, 5)

Going into my last match I was 2-1 and I was able to relax a bit.  My last opponent was Dave – one of the first players I’ve ever played against when I started playing Warmahordes.  Dave is a great guy and he’s a model player - slowly building up and painting his Trolls over the years.  He loves his Trolls and it really shows.  We always have good games and I was glad that I got to play against him for my last game.

His other list was very similar but with Borka instead, so I figured regardless of the list he chose, Sloan was going to be my best bet since I couldn’t rely on Trample to clear out all of that infantry.  My only hope was that I could use Covering Fire to slow the Trolls down and hope that they don’t pass many of their Tough checks and maybe I’d get lucky by killing off the Mauler early to just go for the kill against Madrak.  Things didn’t exactly go to plan.
Too. Many. Trolls.

First, those Trolls were REALLY fast and just barreled down at me and Covering Fire wasn’t enough since the units of Kriel Warriors advanced in “conga line” formations.  The Gun Mages had their work cut out for them and with Fennblades coming in from reserves, I had killed fewer Trolls than I needed but I saw my opportunity to go after Madrak.  This time, I made sure that I didn’t forget about my Firing Squad shots and brought in the Minuteman to go after the warlock.  I managed to bring him down to 1 box after the dust cleared and then I realized – OMG I FORGOT TO BOOST DAMAGE!  Sloan fired 2 shots into Madrak (including Firing Squad), the Stormwall had fired 3 shots at POW 15 and missed two of them (needed 10s to hit with boosted attack rolls since Madrak had Sure Foot on him) and the Minuteman was able to do minimal damage.  I had forgotten to allocate 2 focus to the Stormwall to boost two of its damage rolls and I had also forgotten to spend 2 focus on Sloan herself to boost her ranged shots and I should have killed Madrak then.  I panicked at that point.  Kriel warriors were in my face, my Gun Mages were about to be charged, Sloan was open for the killing and I was scared out of my mind.

Clever jerks.
The Trolls tried a neat trick – charging a gun mage with a Kriel Warrior and then charging a Caber Tosser into the Kriel Warrior to slam him at Sloan and knock her down!  He rolled the slam distance and the Kriel Warrior only moved 3” – just an 1/8” away from hitting Sloan!  PHEW!  After some extra swings and attempts at killing her, she survived!!!  O.M.G.  Time to try this again.  I had to be super careful here and pretty lucky.  I used the Stormwall to clear out some Kriel Warriors engaging Sloan – leaving one there.  Using a nearby Stormpod, the Stormsmith was finally able to remove any engaging models from Sloan with a close Triangulation and failed Tough rolls.  The 2 surviving Gun Mages were able to target and kill a Kriel Warrior which was blocking Madrak and VIOLA!  I had a clear LOS for Sloan to Madrak.  Well this time I also allocated 3 focus to the Minuteman and since he was untouched, I was able to jump him behind Madrak and fire his two slug guns into Madrak just in case, and was able to do enough damage to disable him, he failed his Tough roll and I managed to win with some sheer luck after making a huge blunder.  The lesson here?

Control your excitement and don’t forget to allocate focus and boost damage where you need it.

At the end of the day, I managed 4th place thanks to Strength of Schedule.  My one loss was against the guy who ended up taking 1st place, but the 2 players ahead of me had actually scored control points so they were able to squeak ahead since I was not able to get 1 control point the whole day.  What can I say?  I love casterkill!  I’m pleased since I got a $20 gift card and I paid $15 to enter.  Not bad for my first time with each list, and I was just hoping to get some games in so I’m quite pleased with my performance.

Oh, and I LOVE the Stormwall!  While some people might cry "broken", I want to point out that I was not the only guy who brought the Stormwall, but I was the only one who placed - and I didn't get 1st place.  Having fewer models on the table is a huge disadvantage in scenarios and while I could have easily fixed that problem, I still think my opponent would have had an easier time removing a couple of models out of the zones.

What are the strengths of the Stormwall?  Well the Lightning Pods are great but a bit trickier to use in earlier turns than you might expect.  I tended to drop my first pod closer to the rest of my forces to make sure that I could reliably Triangulate later and I found that it worked really well.  Covering Fire is an amazing ability that is totally overrated.  It allows you to deal with higher-ARM infantry with Stealth (like Bane Thralls) and can change the entire flow of the game.  With Stryker I was able to use it to out-maneuver my opponent and divide and conquer his forces.  With Sloan, I was able to use Covering Fire to keep fire lanes open for her so that she could shoot down her primary target(s).  Also, having a model that can shoot out of melee is huge for Sloan since most opponents will think that running to engage and tie you up is a good idea.  While there is certainly a benefit as demonstrated in my 3rd match, still being able to shoot is hugely important and something that Sloan didn't have before.  This model offers so much to the faction in a compact and efficient package and until people start realizing that they need to bring more warjacks/warbeasts (a good change, in my opinion!) then the Colossals will be stomping around all over the place.

Oh, and I love playing with Sloan!

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