Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We can Rebuild Him! Mercenary theme list league and painting blog. Part 6: 30 points Most Wanted, returning to a classic, with a little variation

Last week, I finally did(!) get back to an actual league game, rather than just playing Magnus's themes.
Since I've used them in almost every game I've played in this league, I decided it was time to finish retouching two of my staples. The Nomad was definitely my favorite Escalation model, and the first actually dynamic warjack, which PP has almost never repeated- just about the only cool poses from jacks after this guy were some of the characters in Legends.

While they've got about the wussiest little supposed poleaxes I've ever seen (no, those don't have the same reach as the Nomad's sword... they just don't.), I really like the models, and felt that, along with the other touch ups, the desert bases gave a lot of interest. Also, they hit like a truck, and I like them so much that I just traded for a second unit so Magnus can run with a full one or Damiano can run two minimum ones.

Game 7/League Game 5
The league was at thirty points, which I felt was a pretty interesting level, since at 25 you can expect a pretty bare-bones army and at 35 you're getting into a full-sized game: 30 is this strange middle ground that ended up giving me some tough choices. I first wanted a Galleon, but think it really only works with a backup heavy, and I couldn't figure out how to manage it without sacrificing too much, so I fell back on a much lighter list:

My list (T4)
-Renegade x2

SH Halberdiers (max)
SH Cav (min)

When I was playing Magnus quite some time ago, I would have run minimum Halberdiers and squeezed in a solo, but, this league, I've almost always favored units over solos. The Mariner would have usually been a Mule, but I had just gotten mine painted for the league, so it was time for it to earn its points (the difference between a win and loss was smaller than what I got for painting, so no risk was involved, and I wanted to try another of the models I don't have much love for).

I suppose I could have run two Nomads and a solo, but I really like always having at least one decent ranged threat (that doesn't have limited ammo).

My opponent (also Nick)'s list (T1)
-4(?) Shredders

My opponent decided to go first, so I picked the side with a hill and a pond, just to see if I could do anything cool with the Mariner, since I rarely play with water features. I ended up mostly placing my wrecks (T3 benefit) around the killbox border, mostly as a last line of defense, if I was on the retreat. ...Then I realized that his army almost entirely consisted of Pathfinder and/or Spray models, so that was mostly useless.

He set up with Typhon near a building on the left that he'd eventually be behind, and the rest abou 6" to the right as a light swarm heading towards the forest in front of the pond.

I put my heavies on my right flank opposite his army, my cav on the right, by the majority of the wrecks, and Magnus and his Renegades roughly in the middle... I think one may have been with the cav. My Halberdiers advance moved (T2 benefit) to the hill and where I thought the Mariner would need a loader.

Early game
He moved up and cast all manner of defensive and pathfinder abilities (which he did most of the game). I moved forward, cast Blur on my Halberdiers (the best answer to sprays, IMHO), conservatively advanced them so he couldn't get many, and he'd need to charge them (taking advantage of Set Defense).

I shot a Shredder with the Sniped (T4 bene) Mariner and almost killed it.

The second turn was almost identical to this one, except that I retreated my army in an arc away from the forest, sweeping from upper left (cav and halberdiers) through bottom left (most of my battlegroup) to bottom right (the Mariner and a loader I realized some time later was out of formation), and I think I killed a Shredder.

He charged my halberdiers with Shredders and I don't think killed any. Typhon, who had hid behind the building, burst out and sprayed with all three heads, but only killed one cav. The Carnivean failed a charge, but had Spiny Growth and Dragon's blood to put it at +4 ARM.

Without the cav over there and with smaller squishy targets, I decided that ignoring Typhon would be a stronger reaction than having a half-dozen cheap infantry try to deal with a character heavy. I variously repositioned the Halberdiers to pair up three charges and three engaged grunts to get three Charge CMA's on the three shredders, and pulled in the two out of formation grunts to be loaders and flankers since neither role required actions.  All of the CMA's hit and almost killed their targets.

I fired my Mariner at the Carnivean, and my opponent reminded me that he was in melee. Even with a boost, I missed, but at least it didn't scatter on my flanker (phew).

Since I didn't position things quite right, I needed to lead the charge with my Iron Aggression-ed Nomad (from T4), which, it turns out, didn't matter much, regarding order, and did a pretty poor amount of damage, and realized too late that boosting damage would have been better than buying more attacks, because Spiny Growth triggers on each hit.

The Cavalry arrived, and just barely (two damage less would have left it at one health) killed the Carnivean (this is why leading with the cav wouldn't have saved the Nomad any damage).

One of his shredders freaked out and killed a halberdier, one was properly vented by Thagrosh, and one sat there looking angry and missing his brain. Typhon also had his fury taken.

Typhon moved up and may have killed some halberdiers with breath attacks. Either way, the left Steelhead flank crumpled under beasts, from the attacks and then feat additional attacks. Thagrosh took out a Cav with his breath, and the last one went down to a Stinger.

By the end of it, I was left with three scared Halberdiers (failed their check after shark dragons ate all of their friends) and a mostly undamaged battlegroup, which I was basically okay with. One Shredder had engaged my Renegade and a Halberdier, and the other was attacking my Nomad, I think forcing a trample if I wanted to get at Thagrosh, but I think he was about a quarter inch outside of my charge range, and didn't want to throw away a heavy and three focus to a misjudged distance.

Late Game
My Renegade got two focus and so did the Mariner. I don't remember the exact order that followed, but I attempted to do serious damage to Thagrosh, who only had one Fury on him, but just didn't have quite enough ranged damage to do it without using both my Renegades, which still wouldn't have gotten the job done. I think I did seven and he pooped out his free shredder, who was hiding behind a wall.

I think because it was in the wrong position, I needed a Shredder dead, and my Renegade missed and my Halberdier was too scared, so Magnus needed to get up off his grumpy ass and actually fight something. The fist missed, so I needed to blow one of the two focus I was saving for Blur on Magnus to Powerful Attack and splatter the Shredder, and feated everything but those three sad Halberdiers over to around the right forest and pond, getting as far away as I could from needing to deal with two beat sticks in one turn.

I got a few breath attacks to the face, just shy of Magnus but lightly damaging my blocking Renegade and Mariner, and he ran an angry shredder through various threat ranges to get it killed for transfer fury... fine by me: less to transfer to. He also put Typhon's heal-when-you're-hit animus on both of them.

My remaining Obliterator sailed over the Mariner and hit Thagrosh in the face, popping his Shredder by proxy, but, more importantly, knocking down Thagrosh. My Mariner charged, and my Nomad did too, leading with his shield because I didn't want any easy choices for transferring nor any chance that he'd take less damage than he healed.

With that volume of auto-hitting attacks, it got Thagrosh down to 6(?) health and killed Typhon. Magnus cast Blur. In hindsight, I should have just given the Mariner more focus which would have gotten the kill then and there, but I'd never fought eThagrosh before, so wasn't sure if he'd have any tricks to bounce out of melee and blast Magnus to death.

Thagrosh cut for fury, kind of terrifyingly killed both heavies from nearly full health, and left me with two (still) scared Halberdiers, two Renegades, and Magnus.

I did the only thing I thought could work and loaded up my nearest renegade with Iron Aggression and three focus, and walked him into melee with the beast. Turns out it could.

First, the game was a slaughter like I've rarely seen recently: 4(5 if you count thagrosh) heavies, 2 units,  6 lessers went down, leaving only two lights and a caster.

Other than the turn where I mucked up charge lanes a little, I felt this was one of the best positioning games I've ever played. It's stuff like this, though, that makes me wish I ran Stannis more, since I wouldn't need to ponder and sacrifice to figure out the perfect positioning, but I think playing without him has made my positioning game stronger.

The Mariner did well, but is definitely no Mule. The lower damage on his gun and lower ARM means he's got a very different role. I think he works much better hunting things from about the size of a Light on down, and Snipe gives him a really long threat range, so you don't even need to think about it.

Late game, it switched pretty smoothly to a second-line melee heavy, with better power though worse threat range and armor than a Mule.

All in all, I found it pretty solid, though it doesn't fit the same role as a Mule, since it has neither the great AOE to mess with infantry nor the strong Crit to go after heavies, but with the shift towards larger pieces, that might not be a huge sacrifice. Also, I never had trouble with setting up a loader, which I had been worried about.