Monday, February 25, 2013

Knee-jerk: Sedition Wars and the Reflex Phase

Okay, so, after playing a few games of Sedition Wars, I've started to feel I have a grasp of strategy, at least, at a small scale (having only played small games, so far). Until I get more experience, I'll only be commenting on the models I have at least some experience with. I've also avoided a few models like Hurley because their rules aren't quite clear yet.

So, here goes some starting strategy. I'll be discussing ways of preparing for Reflexes, both your own and your opponent's.

This is a fairly new article, definitely looking for feedback etc., to improve this.

Vanguard Reflex Phase (or, being shot to death... again)
First off, the vast majority of Vanguard reflexes involve shooting you, a lot. This is the bad news.

Since it's during the Vanguard reflex phase, you've already moved and used your nano, so your dead Revenants (mostly) won't be of use until next turn.

However, this is also the good news, as, while they're doing the damage, you're calling where and when you take the damage.

There are two approaches I've found work:

1- Overwhelming numbers. No, don't just flood in there. Your techno-zombies will keep falling down, which isn't good for their organic tissue.

Lead with your least valuable and best protected models. The ideal situation is for a newly spawned Revenant to use its one action to move around a corner and, with its first visible move, engage one or more model in melee, while visible to as many other Vanguard as possible, even better if the others are engaged in their own melees.

The model it enters melee with will be firing at -3 to hit (close range), while the other models can be at as much of a penalty as -(d6+4) from firing out of one melee and into another.

It isn't often you can get this to line up, but, at least as we're learning the game, it happens from time to time in tight passages. Stepping in to a room at a less efficient angle or sacrificing a focused melee strike to shuffle around a model can be be worth some lost time: the more inaccurate the shot, the more Vanguard are wasting their actions. I've had one Revenant take 3-4 Reflex shots before going down.

This has the added benefit of the model, if it somehow survives to reach melee, of adding to your Horde bonus (though, be sure to leave space for models who can attack).

Note: the less elegant approach is to simply run a newly spawned Revenant around behind Cover, which works decently well...

2- Deer in the Headlights. Unlike deer, however, your Revenants won't get run over when they freeze.

If you're in a situation where you think that, if your Strain will get mown down if they try to move, and they aren't spearheading something bigger (as above), and especially if your opponent has bought Frosty for his Samaritans, just don't move your guys.

In the case of Revenants, this is doubly important: if you lose them in your turn, their Nano clouds are useless to you at the moment. If you force your opponent to kill them in their Active turn, they've not only needed to use an action to do so, but you're also going to be able to move that Nano at the beginning of your turn, with less chance of it being vulnerable.

Remember: Reactions are as much a resource as Actions. If your opponent doesn't get them, you're already wasting part of their turn.

Strain Reflex Phase - "Gooble Gobble! Gooble Gobble!"

This is all about positioning: where is it most going to be a problem when your opponent acts?

First, Quasimoto reflexes. This is pretty straightforward. Pick the most defensible spot with the best arcs of fire and least cover. This is what Vanguard are generally trying to do, too. You don't get Frosty, so bottlenecks may be better than better fields of fire.

Revenants are going to be a decent part of any force. However, most of the time, they won't get their reflexes, because, if they've been hit, likely, any additional hit will kill them. This is part of why it's important to force your opponent to shoot them, instead of using Reflex attacks. If you're in the lucky position of having a Revenant close to your opponent but undamaged, what you want to do is get them within 4 squares of your opponent, or where your opponent will need to attack them from. You'll either force them to use their movement or at least give your revenants a little better chance at survival, with the defense bonus.

The other part of this is positioning your models so the Vanguard can't get a clean shot. As mentioned in Overwhelming numbers above, it's great if you position your minis so Vanguard have terrible shots to take. While Sedition wars is incredibly lenient about melee penalties, so Vanguard can simply walk out of melee, you've got a lot at your disposal.

In tight passages, or with enough models, you can make a web where there is never more than one square between a Strain and a wall, or two squares between a Strain and another Strain. If you position them correctly, you can make it so Vanguard are faced with the option of fighting at a penalty or moving more than 5 squares, making them lose their attack.

Stalkers and, to a lesser extent, Scythe-Witches, have the advantage of, if well positioned, completely avoiding a single attack. Unfortunately, Vanguard can use an unlikely shot to force the reflex early.

Strain Reflex Phase - "Stay frosty, and alert. We can't afford to let one of those bastards in here." 
The biggest thing you've got to worry about is Strain gumming up your vectors and getting in your face.

Revenants are still pretty easy to hit with close fire or firing in to melee, but things start getting trickier if  you're engaged and trying to shoot out of melee or at something more accurate.

You've got a few options with how to procede with your basic Samaritans:
1- back up, and take the shot. As long as you're not starting engaged, you'll be able to back up further than the Strain can advance. Remember: Strain getting all the way to adjacent doesn't just penalize you, but also gives them more flexibility in the following turn: They'll already benefit from Horde, and can either focus to get a more accurate attack, or attack then advance to a better position during their Active phase.

2- make a stand, and fire. This depends on probability. The number you need to remember is that, with open dice, your average is not 3.5 but 4.2. This is a moderately risky choice, but the most flexible: you can reposition if you need to, or, if the shot's successful, you can go Frosty

3- focus to guarantee the shot. This is pretty conservative, but most likely to succeed. This mostly depends on the situation. There are definitely times where there's nothing better to do, so the better chance of hitting with higher damage is worth it.

4- move and go Frosty. This is the most defensive of choices, and, as discussed in the Strain section, relies on the Strain actually moving. You've got to do this in an area where you're certain you're going to see a lot of movement and need those extra reactionary shots, or you're likely just wasting your Tactics.

Your other advantage is your Grenadiers, which actively cripples Reflex Triggers, and can prep against dangerous models that can move.

At least, from my experience, the most dangerous Reflexes you face will be the Quasimotos. The way Corrosion is worded, models that are hit who haven't activated yet will still suffer from Corrosion, this turn. This means that it's even more important that you don't cluster in sight, during your Active phase. You'll always want to move an isolated model in, over anything that can allow a Quasimoto to tag more than one. Again, because of how the wording on Status Effects, the activating model is actually safest from the Quasimoto, as you test for expiring Status effects before you can take any damage.

Vanguard Reflex phase - Micro-changes in Air Density
I've covered most of the Samaritans above, so won't go in to that much more, here. Basically, you're looking for the best firing lanes, and enough distance that you can get shots off before you're engaged. While Strain can exploit your reliance on movement by not moving, you can also use this to force their choice on moving and taking the hits. They can only sacrifice so many Revenants before they run out of fodder.

You should also be aware of how Strain can use Nano-- it might be more dangerous killing that moderately distant Revenant than letting it shamble your direction. (However, if you don't kill it, remember that it can force a lot of Reflexes, so it might be better to just take the shot before you're forced to waste too many.)

Barker and Kara are the two models which can counter well in melee, however, most Strain have Reach, so you're not likely to get much mileage from those-- the best use is to have them bottleneck a doorway, but they're more likely to be valuable than what they'd be guarding. Vade's is also highly situational, so not to be relied on.

Finally, Nama's reflex trigger is a slightly strange one. It's often practically guaranteed to hit, and has around a 50/50 chance of killing anything with 9 or less health. You can also easily make two shots, and possibly three with careful use of two security terminals. However, her long range becomes a  potential liability when firing as Reflex: a longer range will mean that her best shots are going to hit models further away, before most of your less accurate or powerful models can go. Because of this, having her around 4 squares behind the bulk of your models seems ideal, as it gives you the choice to use her sniping shots or take them with the front line. However, this position will limit her vectors slightly, so you'll need to find a balance between range and position.