Monday, March 10, 2014

Harkevich - Continued Clam Adventures

This week marked another outing for my new favorite Harkevich list, the Quad Clam extravaganza. For reference, the list and my original thoughts about it can be found here.

One of my goals with this list is to throw it up against absolutely anything at least once. No matter how bad I feel a match up might be, I want to put this list on the table against it and play it out, because I feel like one of the strongest aspects to this list is that even in a bad match up it has some game. Not great game, mind, but I think you have enough staying power and shenanigans to make a game of almost any situation. That's the main theory I'm trying to put to the test and in the process I may discover that some things aren't as bad as I originally thought.

To that end, this week I threw the list up against this interesting Epic Reznik (Reznik2) build my friend came up with:

Servath Reznik, Wrath of Ages (*4pts)
   * Devout (5pts)
Choir of Menoth (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Idrian Skirmishers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
   * Idrian Skirmishers Chieftain & Guide (3pts)
Flame Bringers (Leader and 4 Grunts) (10pts)
Initiate Tristan Durant (3pts)
   * Judicator (18pts)
Vassal Mechanik (1pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)

I may be off by a point somewhere, but I'm pretty sure that was the list he ran (it totals up correctly.)

This game actually went by pretty quickly, despite the actual game still taking 4-5 turns to resolve. A quick report should suffice. The scenario was Rally Point from the SR2014 document. Terrain was a pretty even distribution of two hills, two walls, two ruined buildings (difficult terrain, Cover,) and a medium forest in the middle of the table between the two zones.

Turn 1:
Reznik goes first. Idrians Prey the WGI. Reznik advances and casts Death March on the Idrian Skirmishers, everything else runs forward with Idrians also using their minifeat (Go To Ground.)

Harkevich allocates to all warjacks, everything runs forward except the Winter Guard models. The two Field Guns take aim at the Flame Bringers who ran up super aggressively. Both shots connect with their targets, one with Critical Knockdown. The KD'd Flame Bringer survives with 1 health, the other shot kills a different Flame Bringer. The WGI Bob and Weave forward with Joe reminding them to be Tough and Fearless.

Turn 2:
Reznik camps. Tristan gives one or two focus to Judicator. The Idrians Assault and Battery into the WGI, killing 3 and engaging another two. Two of the Flame Bringers advance on the Field Guns, with the rest hunkering down behind cover.

Judicator advances and puts one rocket shot into the WGI, killing one after both scatters, but can't draw LOS for the second shot (the center of the table was a dogpile of models and the forest was in the way.) Reznik advances towards his scoring zone. Tristan puts Fortify on the Judicator.

Harkevich upkeeps both spells, allocates one focus to three different Demolishers, and camps the remaining 1. Harkevich starts off the turn by popping his feat and missing a shot at one of the Idrian Skirmishers. The right-most Demolisher slams the Flame Bringer in the enemy scoring zone, connecting with a boosted to-hit roll. The slam distance isn't enough to take her out of the zone (wreck marker halved the distance) but one of the Field Guns finishes her off. The other Field Gun manages to connect and finish off the wounded Flame Bringer.

The WGI combine with another Demolisher to clean up the majority of the Idrians; between sprays and Demolisher shots, only one or two survive the turn. The two remaining Demolishers run to block the Judicator's forward movement, and Black Ivan moves over to stand in front of Harkevich (as well as provide him the Escort ARM bonus.)

End of Turn: Harkevich scores 2 CP (Dominate friendly zone, control enemy zone)

CPs: Harkevich 2 - Reznik 0

Turn 3:
Reznik continues to camp. Tristan gives the Judicator one focus. The Judicator attempts to free itself from it's clam prison by Power Striking one of the Demolishers. The attack connects and slams it 5" away, but does no damage even with a boost (still closed up and +3 ARM from Harkevich's feat.) The Vassal uses Ancillary Attack to let the Judicator shoot at the WGI, killing two between the two templates.

The Flame Bringers move back into their scoring zone to prevent the Demolisher on that side from scoring, hiding behind a wall for cover. Reznik moves into that same scoring zone, advancing toward Harkevich's objective marker. The Devout moves around the side of the Judicator to try and wall off the Demolishers, while Tristan moves back to get out of their threat zone. Various models move into Harkevich's scoring zone to prevent him scoring on Reznik's turn.

Harkevich upkeeps both spells, allocates one focus to Black Ivan, one to the knocked down Demolisher, and one to the Demolisher in the center of the table. Harkevich aims, shoots a Choir member that had wandered into his scoring zone, then casts Jump Start to stand up the knocked down Demolisher.

Black Ivan advances and shoots at Tristan, ignoring the Judicator via Arcing Fire. The shot connects and Tristan dies to the boosted damage, rendering the Judicator inert. The formerly knocked down Demolisher slams a Choir member, knocking it into another Choir member and killing them both. The remaining Demolishers move to box Reznik in and make it hard (if not impossible) for him to reactivate Judicator next turn.

The Field Guns advance to threaten the Flame Bringers, and the WGI chip in sprays to clear Harkevich's scoring zone.

End of Turn: Harkevich scores 1 CP (dominate friendly zone)

CPs: Harkevich 3 - Reznik 0

Turn 4:
Reznik allocates one to the Devout. The Devout runs into Harkevich's scoring zone to prevent scoring this turn. Reznik is kind of boxed in so he can't do much this turn other than shuffle some things around.

Harkevich upkeeps both spells, allocates two focus to one Demolisher and one focus to another. The two Demolishers with focus shoot at Reznik's objective, killing it between all the boosted damage rolls. Black Ivan Bulldozes the Devout out of Harkevich's scoring zone, allowing him to score the 5th CP at the end of the turn and end the game.

End of Turn: Harkevich scores 2 CP (dominate friendly zone, destroy enemy objective)

Final Outcome: Harkevich wins via scenario!

Post-game thoughts:

The Harkevich Quad Clam list is, based on my limited experience, very scenario focused. It's primary bid at winning is pushing/slamming/throwing enemy models out of the zone, then body blocking them from getting back in. Failing that, you have the secondary win condition of grinding your opponent down to where their 'caster is vulnerable or has to commit, then you win via pocket assassination (probably by way of other shenanigans.)

That becomes much, much harder against models that can't be moved which of course includes Huge based models. This list also doesn't really have the punch to get through a colossal with any sort of efficiency, so my main hope in that match up is to body block the colossal out of zones. If that fails, I need to either just keep throwing warjacks at the colossal until it falls over dead (not likely or idea, but may be necessary in some fights,) or more likely circumvent the colossal and get to the 'caster somehow.

Unfortunately, that's way harder to do against a 'caster like Reznik2. Sure, he's only DEF 13, but he can camp up to very respectable ARM levels pretty easily, and more to the point he's immune to all of the shenanigans I'd use to make a pocket assassination feasible (two handed throw, headbutt, slam, etc.) I got lucky in this fight because Tristan ended up being a weak link I could exploit, but I'd have had a much harder time trying to weasel out a scenario win if the Judicator had run into my zone and Reznik was the one controlling it. Not unwinnable, but definitely harder and I'd have to take some bigger risks.

On the other side of the match up coin: this list gets around what Reznik2 is best at - making many infantry models evaporate on his feat turn - and honestly I'd be really nervous fighting Reznik2 with a common Khador build. There isn't much you can put in a list against him that isn't going to melt to those POW 12 blasts under the feat, so the normal Khador infantry blockade would be kind of dicey to run. This Harkevich list gets around that to a good degree by not having much infantry at all, and so long as they do their job before they die I can afford to lose them at some point (which is what was happening this game.)

Overall, I was really happy to have a chance to play against a list like this. Colossals and Huge based 'casters provide an interesting challenge for this Harkevich list. I don't think it's insurmountable, but its definitely one of the trickier things to try and deal with. Even my Specialists idea for this list (drop the WGI + Joe for full Demo Corps + Wardog to use against super beefy, heavy lists) wouldn't really work well against colossals because Demo Corps will have a helluva time getting there. Killing one of those things would be very resource intensive in the absolute best case (against something like the Judicator I'd need to trade away two Demolishers just to have the third one possibly kill it,) and quickly becomes impossible if an ARM buff comes into the equation.

So this list has to play around a colossal, which is an interesting proposition. The good news is that even with their hitting power most colossals can't efficiently get through a clamjack, so you can body block them pretty effectively when you have four models to throw in their way. Colossals tend to make up a lot of their value by shooting early game then punching late game, so the earlier you force them into melee, the less effective their colossal is going to be overall. The backup plan then becomes winning via scenario if you're lucky enough to box them out completely (requires going first, or your opponent not being careful,) or trying to get a 'caster kill (the less desirable possibility, but doable.) I'd like to play this sort of match up more and see how it continues to work out.

Even with that potentially sticky wicket for this list, I still really like the Quad Clam list a lot. It's a very strong scenario list with lots of redundancy, and the configuration of the battlegroup allows you to focus more on oddball shenanigans that you normally do or can with a Warmachine army. This list encourages me to focus a lot more on things like double handed throws, slams, and tramples than I ever have in the past, and that's extremely fun. Couple that with the rush of running such a hearty battlegroup (four ARM 25 warjacks is still very beefy, even in the current meta) and the option of throwing templates around, and you get a list that is really fun to play while still having legitimacy in at least semi-serious play.

I look forward to many more games with this list in the future, and it's looking more and more likely that I'll have three more Demolishers to paint up at some point.


  1. Nice game! Also +1 to your opponent using a Power Strike (which should really be named "Elbow Rocket", but that's already taken ;-)).

    Do you think the advent of the Juniors will raise the value of arcing fire closer to a point it becomes an ability worth paying for?

  2. Whenever anyone uses a Power Strike power attack (which is sadly very rarely) I like to remember Sentinel's Rocket Punch special attack from the Marvel vs. Capcom series. :)

    I do think Juniors (and models like them) make Arcing Fire more valuable. On it's face, Arcing Fire is a very good ability; what I've found holds it back are a lack of good targets for it (outside of warcasters/warlocks) and the crap RAT of Khador warjacks (which is highlighted when shooting at something like a warcaster/warlock.)

    As the field becomes more populated with high value solos (not just the Jr.s; Vengeance brought a new high value solo/UA or two to almost every faction) Arcing Fire definitely becomes more relevant. RAT 4 is less terrible against your average solo/UA stats, and most of them are squishy enough to be done in with a POW 14 (or even boosted 7 blast damage if you spike.)

    Semi-related: I think the Jr.s also give the Widowmaker Marksman some new life (not that I ever stopped liking him.) They're all almost perfectly stated for him to threaten, and he's very capable of keeping a bead on them.