Monday, February 24, 2014

Harkevich: Quahog Special

I've had a Harkevich list burning a hole in my mind ever since I heard about it:

Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf (*5pts)
   * Black Ivan (9pts)
   * Demolisher (8pts)
   * Demolisher (8pts)
   * Demolisher (8pts)
   * Demolisher (8pts)
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew (Leader and 2 Grunts) (2pts)
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew (Leader and 2 Grunts) (2pts)
Winter Guard Infantry (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
   * Winter Guard Infantry Officer & Standard (2pts)
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich (2pts)

Full tier 4 of Harkevich's theme list. I heard about this list from a friend of mine online and though it's apparently been posted up on PP's boards I haven't found the original creator of this list (though I have read people mentioning it.) So for the record: this isn't something I came up with on my own. If anyone knows who came up with this, let me know; I'd love to give them the credit.

I dismissed this list out of hand when I first heard it. Four Demolishers sounded cute, but it's a list with mediocre damage output in a world where colossals with ARM buffs roam the wilds. 

But the more I thought about this list, the more I liked it. The virtues of this particular configuration in no specific order: 
  • Even though Broadsides isn't usually the right answer, this list makes it about as good of an idea as you can. Each casting of Broadsides nets you 5 templates worth of offensive output and the templates are big enough and high enough POW that they're worth tossing out there.
  • It's a crazy ARM skew, which is exactly what I want to run with Harkevich. Other 'casters in Khador can give you speed, accuracy, or hitting power. I feel like Harkevich is the guy you turn to when you want to put a list on the table that your opponent is going to have a legit hard time chewing through. Because Harkevich doesn't have any inherent damage buffs, I feel like it's difficult to trade heavies with him (even when trying to spam Juggernauts to keep the ratio in your favor.) Outlasting and scenario shenanigans may end up being his best bet at competitive relevancy.
  • The list has remarkable scenario presence. With that many clamjacks, you can easily afford to spread out and cover all relevant scenario zones, and your opponent has a limited set of options for dealing with them (very high damage output, pushes, slams, and throws.) You have enough clamjacks that you can have some scenario redundancy, which makes it even harder for your opponent to push you out of zones once you get entrenched.
  • Against armies that have a colossal, you still have a very strong scenario game (it still takes a buffed colossal to chew through a Demolisher quicky in most cases) and you have the possibility of getting everything in place fast enough to wedge them out of the scenario zone(s). Plus, Demolishers are mobile and tough enough that you can potentially engineer angles to get to their support or the warcaster hiding behind the colossal making it possible to either dogpile the colossal down after that, or just win the game outright. Its not a match up I'd love, but I do think it's possible to play that fight out and have a fair shot.
  • The list also has flexibility in ways that it can engineer scoring CPs. Bulldoze is an obvious, free way to bump stuff out of zones, and with Harkevich your warjacks are mobile enough to make very good use of it. Everything in the list can throw, and four models can double handed throw, so you have that tool available to you for getting a heavy out of a zone. Slams are also an option, and thanks to the recent errata you don't have to open up to perform a slam, so its a win-win.
  • You also have a good spread of anti-infantry measures in the list - tons of high POW blasts (not Menoth levels, but about as good as you can get conventionally) backed up by the always-awesome WGI + UA + Joe sprays (with the added bonus of being to toss Fortune on them, to all but guarantee you connect with the sprays.)
  • Fun factor: it's a list with 5 warjacks in it, with access to (and emphasis on) power attacks, big 'ol gun shots, and mobility. It's a list you can't really find or run anywhere else in Khador, and it looked like a blast to play (har har.)
This list is absolutely not without it's weaknesses: I don't love it against anything that can punch through high ARM (Cryx or Skorne leap to mind,) I'm not sure what it would do against the "better" 'casters in the game (especially Haley2/Directrix with Domination,) and super specifically I have zero idea what you'd do against Tiberion. 

But I feel like even in those situations I'd be much more comfortable playing this list than most of the other Harkevich lists I've tried (which always feel like dancing on the razor's edge and praying my feat lets me live long enough to maybe do something in melee.) I've been more excited to try this list out than anything else I've seen with Harkevich, and it's one of the more exciting lists I've stumbled across in recent memory.

This past weekend I met up with a buddy of mine to play some Warmachine. He wanted to try out a Deneghra1 list that we kind of talked through - he's finally finished painting up his Revenant Crew Riflemen, and he wanted to put the oft-maligned zombie pirates on the table. The idea is that since the Revenant Crew are roughly equivalent to Sea Dogs (very roughly,) he could run a variant of the "Denny Pirates" list and get some work out of the Revenant Crew. Here's what he came up with:

Warwitch Deneghra (*5pts)
   * Defiler (5pts)
   * Defiler (5pts)
   * Nightmare (10pts)
   * Skarlock Thrall (2pts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) (5pts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) (5pts)
Necrosurgeon & 3 Stitch Thralls (2pts)
Necrosurgeon & 3 Stitch Thralls (2pts)
Revenant Cannon Crew (3pts)
Revenant Crew (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
   * 3 Revenant Crew Crew Riflemen (3pts)
Captain Rengrave (2pts)
Warwitch Siren (2pts)

All things considered, I don't think it's a bad list. The Revenant Crew are kind of a mess of a unit - native recursion, but it's very easy to kill them and almost too easy to stop the recursion - but in this list they bring some ranged presence and with Denny1's debuffs it actually ends up being pretty respectable. You have Denny1's feat and spell list backing it up, so you at least have a strong 'caster at the helm. And it has recursion/replenishment out the wazoo, so it has remarkable staying power for such a low ARM list.

I didn't know the specifics of what he'd be playing, but I did know he'd be playing Denny1 and that the list would have the Revenant Crew in it. Since we're talking Denny1 and Cryx, I was nervous about dropping Harkevich against it; even though it'd be a really high ARM list, Cryx can chop even ARM 25 down to size, and I have to open some of the clamjacks up at one point or another.

In the end, I resolved myself to test the four clamjack list out against anything and everything I can, to see just how good it is. So step one of that would be tossing it up against Denny1 in Cryx and seeing how it goes.

As one may expect, it ended up being one helluva grind; I think the game went 7 turns or so. The game ended when a Winter Guard spray caught Denny1 and finished her off - she was at 0 camp and Black Ivan had punched her the turn before for a good chunk of her health. It was a very close, back and forth game all the way with both of us fighting pretty ferociously for our chosen zone (we were playing Close Quarters, so we each picked a zone and tried to clear it while stalling scoring on the other one.) I was also in a pretty good position on CPs when the game ended. It would have been 4 CP - 2 CP, since I was going to Dominate my zone on that turn. 

The way CPs ended up convinced me that this list has a lot of scenario potential, but it also convinced me that there is a strong learning curve to using this list well. You're relying very heavily on your ability to score CPs - either score them faster than your opponent, or outlast them and capitalize at the end - and if you're trying to score quickly (which I was in this game) then you need to make sure every scoring situation works out in your favor. 

I had two turns that I could have dominated my zone, but I made some serious play errors and didn't score because Rengrave was just hanging out at the edge of my zone. The first time I could have scored I made the mistake of shooting Gorman with Black Ivan instead of Rengrave; it would have been tricky to hit him (he was in a forest and Black Ivan was shaking off Denny1's feat,) but I could have probably taken out Gorman with the WGI, and if I had gotten a little lucky with the shot it would have dropped Rengrave and let me score that turn. 

The second time was a focus mis-allocation: I gave Black Ivan 3 focus and sent him charging at Deneghra, but that was a waste. After charging and boosting his attack, the other focus didn't do anything (even with Fortune for a re-roll) and wasn't likely to do anything. It would have been much better to keep that focus on Harkevich and use it to boost his melee attack against Rengrave that turn. If that connects, at minimum it probably pushes him out of the zone thanks to Beat Back, and its very likely to just kill him outright.

If I would have scored on either of those turns, I could have just coasted to victory via CP, and my opponent would have had to try to stall me out, which would have been hard to do with how depleted both of our armies were (but I was still working with Demolishers and a handful of WGI, so I had volume of damage rolls on my side.)

I will very happily admit that this fight would have gone differently if my opponent wasn't so set on running the Revenant Crew and had instead brought the more traditional Bane Thralls + UA + Tartarus. That right there is the extra ARM cracking I was so worried about in the first place, and I think if models like that had been on the table my hiccups in scoring would have very likely cost me the game (due to running out of warjacks too fast.) But, I also think it's a fight I could try and play through (careful positioning, maximizing the impact of the WGI on the Bane Thralls, feat timing, etc,) and that's way, way better than any other Harkevich list I've used in the past (which typically melt in the face of Bane Thralls in general, let alone Bane Thralls + ARM debuffs.)

Overall, the game I played did a lot to convince me that this Harkevich list has a lot of potential. It has a remarkable amount of flexibility and depth to it that makes it more interesting than it is at first glance ("so much ARM 25 lol".) Its not an easy list to use and I think it'll run into it's fair share of ugly match ups, but this is the most fun I've had playing Harkevich, which also makes it the most fun I've had running Khador in awhile (since Vlad3's theme list, really.)

I'm now very, very tempted to buy 3 more Demolishers to put this list together for real (I have one painted up, one metal Devastator, and then I proxied the other two warjacks.) I'm still holding out to see the spoilers on the new Khador warjack in Vengeance in case that warjack ends up having some kind of super-sick synergy with Harkevich, but it would need to have a pretty awesome gimmick to make it worth breaking up the ARM brick that this list provides.

No comments:

Post a Comment