Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vlad2 vs. Cassius - Three Trees in The Desert

This past Monday was the grand opening of a new local game store: Bel Air Games. My friend and I headed over to check it out, and maybe get a game in if they had a table open.

Quick review of the store: its excellent. Lots of space, open area, and light; three things that most game stores severely lack. The staff (or all of the staff I met at least) were very friendly, and they seemed knowledgeable about the products in the store. The store has plenty of space for hobbying and gaming of all sorts (with tables for miniature wargaming, painting, and card games, as well as a room for P&P gaming.) It's definitely got a great base to work off of, and I'm looking forward to going there more in the future, especially for Warmachine events (which are rather lean in the half of the state I live in.)

Since we got there early, my friend and I were able to secure a table and get a game in. Report, picture (yes, singular,) and thoughts after the break.

My list:

Vladimir Tzepesci, the Dark Champion (*5pts)
   * Demolisher (9pts)
   * Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Iron Fang Uhlans (Leader and 4 Grunts) (11pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
   * Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Tactical Arcanist Corps (4pts)
   * Koldun Kapitan Valachev (2pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution (3pts)
Kovnik Markov (4pts)
Man-o-war Drakhun (without dismount) (4pts)
Saxon Orrik (2pts)

Very similar list to what I've run recently. The main change was swapping out Drago for the Demolisher to give me a better scenario presence. Otherwise it's a pretty straightforward Vlad2 list.

My friend's list:

Cassius the Oathkeeper (*6pts)
   * Gorax (4pts)
   * Megalith (11pts)
   * Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)
Farrow Bone Grinders (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
   * Stone keeper (1pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pts)
Tharn Bloodweavers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Tharn Ravagers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (9pts)
   * Tharn Ravager Chieftain (2pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)

This is a Cassius list he's run in the past, and it's a very solid one. Plenty of threat projection, plenty of models to take advantage of his feat for maximum irritation, and a surprising amount of hitting power (Ravagers + Curse of Shadows = more damage than you think!)

Now, onto the game:

Scenario: SR2014 Incursion (since we were playing abroad, "Three Flags" was our best option.)

Deployment and Terrain:
Vlad won the roll for deployment and opted to go first. Here's where I get to drop my one picture!

I've been hesitant to take pictures of my games because it feels kind of smug/self-important, but I need to get over that. I'd like to try and take more pictures (with my opponent's permission, of course) because it does add a lot to the reports. I've typed up a fair number of battle reports at this point (between Warmachine and Malifaux,) and I always feel like everything gets kind of "mushy" around the middle because there's only so many ways to describe things. I'm hoping pictures will help alleviate that feeling, while also allowing me to focus more on the "big hits" of each turn instead of trying to describe everything.

You'll notice a few things in this picture:

  1. There were no natural forests on this table. I didn't have a lot of guns to take advantage of that fact (and there was a good bit of Cover available,) but it was definitely not an ideal set up for Circle. My friend did an excellent job of managing it during the game, however.
  2. This angle kind of sucks for being able to see the models. I was debating between this type of shot and a "from my perspective" shot, and I think the latter would be better. It seems to be harder to get a clear shot of everything from this angle.
  3. The bottled water at this store is very reasonably priced.
Because this game was played a little while ago and it was quite a slobberknocker, I'm going to summarize the turns and try to hit the high notes.

Round 1:
Almost everything runs/tramples/advances, relevant upkeeps go out (Hand of Fate [HoF] on Widowmakers, Transference on Vlad, Assail on Demolisher.)

Round 2:
Left flag disappears. 

Widowmakers go for early shots on the Ravagers and the leftmost Gallows Grove. Gallows Grove takes a few points of damage, while one Ravager dies and another is wounded. Kayazy run towards the right flag, Demolisher moves towards the center flag.

Cassius retorts by eating 3 Widowmakers with a Hellmouth (that also catches a Uhlan for a couple damage,) and popping feat. Everything else moves up under cover of forest.

Round 3:
Markov charges the left Gallows Grove, killing it but doing no damage to anything nearby. Everything else in the center re-positions. Kayazy space out near the right flag, Demolisher holds near the center.

The Bloodweavers charge into the Kayazy and kill 3 between direct stabs and blood explosions, though one gets picked by the Drakun's counter-charge. A Hellmouth keyed off of one of the Gobbers pulls the Drakun into Megalith's charge range, and Megalith smites him. The remaining Gobber flees.

Druids shove the Demolisher away from the center flag and put up clouds, while the Shifting Stones teleport up to control the flag. The Tharn kill Markov and the remaining Widowmaker.

Cassius scores 1 CP for controlling the center flag.

Round 4:
Vlad gives the Demolisher 1 to shake KD, feats and catches 4 Uhlans and 2 Kayazy, puts HoF on the Kayazy, and moves towards the right flag. The Uhlans charge into the center, killing one Stone and two Druids. The Kayazy charge into the Bloodweavers, killing 3 and causing them to flee, while also controlling the right flag. Eiryss strips Megalith's animus which allows the Demolisher to slam Megalith 8" back. Saxon Orrik and one of the TAC team up to kill the right Gallows Grove with ranged/magic attacks.

Vlad scores 1 CP for controlling the right flag.

Druids continue to shove the Demolisher around. Ravagers charge into the Uhlans, doing damage but failing to kill any (mostly due to feat bonuses.) The Stalker kills two Uhlans and sprints back to control the center flag. Megalith moves over to contest the right flag, and serves as a beacon for a Hellmouth that kills 2 more Kayazy and Saxon. The Bloodweavers rally, but the Gobber continues to flee.

Cassius scores 1 CP for controlling the center flag.

Round 5:
Vlad casts an Arcane Secrets augmented, fully boosted Razor Wind into Megalith, then everything on the right side piles into it. An Eiryss shot, 3 TAC blasts, and a Kayazy charge later (with some Transference boosts on damage where necessary,) and Megalith goes down (with the last attack getting exactly the needed value.) Kayazy continue to control the right flag.

The Demolisher hangs out in the center and the Uhlans swat at Ravagers and Druids with their hooves and spears, killing a Druid, damaging some Ravagers, and finishing off one that was hurt previously.

Vlad scores 1 CP for controlling the right flag.

Druids shove the Demolisher again. The Stalker and Ravagers clean up the Uhlans. One Stone shifts over to contest the right flag and serves as a beacon for a Hellmouth that kills all but one of the remaining Kayazy. The Stoneward in the unit also kills a TAC. The Bloodweavers charge, with one making it to the remaining Kayazy (misses) and the other hiding behind rocks to contest.

Cassius scores 1 CP for controlling the center flag.

Round 6:
Eiryss and the TAC manage to kill the models contesting the right flag, then Vlad runs over to Dominate on full camp. The Demolisher dusts itself off yet again and moves back over to the center flag.

Vlad scores 2 CP for dominating the right flag.

Cassius goes all-in to try and kill Vlad: Hellmouth to move him into charge range of the Stalker, and debuff him with Curse of Shadows. The Stalker gets Primal from the Gorax, then charges Vlad past the Demolisher (who misses his free strike.) The Stalker hits the charge attack, doing 6 damage, then misses all follow up attacks.

Round 7:
Vlad goes all in on a reprisal assassination on Cassius, which (for the second time this game) succeeds exactly to the point, with the one remaining Kayazy doing the killing blow.

Result: Vlad wins via assassination!

Game Thoughts:
This was a helluva game. I didn't even realize until I typed it out how many rounds it went!

A big part of the game was both of us trying to manage the threat ranges of the other person's army. Cassius is loaded with all kinds of Hellmouth shenanigans (as well as just the flat out threat of Hellmouth,) and Vlad2 can kick out some crazy long threat ranges (and the Uhlans aren't too shabby on their own.) I think that's one of the reasons the game went on so long, as well as how well both of us managed to keep the other from scoring significant VPs for most of the game.

As is the case with most good Warmachine games (in my opinion) this one came down to a few lucky breaks. I got doubly lucky when the Gobber and the Bloodweavers fled, and it was very helpful that the Gobber never rallied (prevented smoke clouds later in the game and kept another Hellmouth beacon at bay.) Likewise, I had things work out for me when I managed to kill Megalith on the money, and then Cassius as well (though I had a more conservative option to clear the flag and win via CP, which probably had better odds overall.)

I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: my opponent handled Cassius very well this game, especially since the table didn't give him a lot of favorable terrain to work with. Cassius is a very powerful warlock, but you also have to deal with the vulnerability of having to protect two targets (one of which is stationary,) and he loves to spend his Fury. My opponent did a great job of keeping me spaced out all game, never giving me a good line on Cassius or the tree (until the very end when there wasn't much of an alternative) and still maintaining scenario pressure. He's planning on getting more practice in with Cassius, and I'm both excited and terrified to see him continue to improve and refine his game with the treeman.

List Thoughts:
This is my first time running this version of the list, and I liked it. I think I find a clamjack to be more useful in the context of a Vlad2 list than Drago is. Drago is an excellent warjack with Vlad2, but I find it hard to keep him safe and relevant most of the game due to his relative squishiness and the low impact Assail has on his threat. The Demolisher is much more low maintenance, and is perfect for tossing in a scenario zone for awhile (which ended up coming in very handy this game.) I don't know that it's the absolute best use of Vlad2's warjack points, but it feels like a pretty good one and its something I'm going to stick for the next few games.

The TAC and Valachev continue to be fun and surprisingly useful. The cloud wall is obviously nice, but still pretty remarkable; one of the problems I've always had with Vlad2 is finding a "safe" spot to put him, and that usually leaves him hiding behind infantry. That's all well and good until your opponent circumvents the infantry in the way (via KD, ignoring LOS, or just good 'ol fashioned killing,) and then Vlad2 ends up in a bad spot (since he can't really afford to camp until late game, if at all.) Additionally, blocking infantry in a Vlad2 list often will need to commit to be relevant, so there's always the possibility that you're forced to choose between keeping Vlad2 safe and maintaining offensive pressure. A smoke wall gets around all those problems (give or take LOS ignoring attacks/Eyeless sight,) and at 4 points its a pretty affordable solution.

However, the TAC themselves have ended up being pretty solid little troopers. Flame Blast is a very respectable magic attack, their Termo Maces are decently potent (if not beholden to terrible threat ranges,) and they're surprisingly durable against attacks most likely to come their way in the early/mid stages of the game. Valachev sweetens the deal considerably by adding another anti-infantry component, or almost doubling their mobility in a given turn. I kind of want to try the TAC without Valachev because I'd probably want him elsewhere in a character restricted environment, but it's hard to take him out of this list for how useful he is (plus I don't feel like I really "need" those 2 points for anything.)

I'm going to try and make this my go-to Vlad2 list for awhile, and get some reps in before making any major changes. Knowing myself, that'll probably be all of 3 games before another idea strikes me, or I feel the call of Harkevich again (even now I feel it in the back of my mind.) But until that happens, I'm looking forward to getting some more time in with Vlad2.

Until I roll a '1' on the feat turn, that is.

No comments:

Post a Comment