Friday, May 30, 2014

Vlad2 vs. Mohsar - Salt Mines

The Vlad2 game series continues, and apparently he's been doing a lot of skirmishing into Circle territory. This time he faces off against Mohsar, the Desertwalker on a table with many more trees than the previous game and markedly less desert. Someone in the Circle is trolling him and Cassius.

Salt fueled slugfest after the break.

My Vlad2 list is unchanged from the last game. Re-posting for reference:

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)

My friend's list (same person who ran the Cassius list in the previous game):

Mohsar the Desertwalker (*5pts)
   * Gorax (4pts)
   * Megalith (11pts)
   * Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
   * Stone Keeper (1pts)
Tharn Bloodtrackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Wolves of Orboros (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)
Wolflord Morraig (5pts)

This list is similar to one he's run in the past with Mohsar. It's got a little bit of everything: hitting power (bolstered by Curse of Shadows,) anti-infantry (directly and via using Wolves as Crevasse beacons,) control, and a bit of staying power (supplemented by Pillars.)

Quick image note: we were working with some lighting complications, so I apologize if the images are a little dark/shadowy. Also please ignore the masking tape along the interior of the table. Most of the gaming tables our group own need to double as Malifaux tables, so we have them taped off for 3' x 3' play if that's the game of the night.

Scenario: SR2014 Incursion

Terrain and Deployment:
Pretty straightforward deployment, and terrain is mostly self evident. 

Vlad won the roll off and took first turn. The Uhlans were declared as Prey for the Bloodtrackers.

Round 1:
Standard "upkeeps and running" turn. Vlad gets out Hand of Fate [HoF] on the Widowmakers, Transference on himself, and Assail on the Demolisher. 

Mohsar gets out Mirage on the Bloodtrackers (via Megalith,) Maltreats the Gorax (1 damage,) and puts up a wall of Pillars of Salt to cover his army's advance, and one in front of the Demolisher because it's cruel and hilarious. The Druids create a cloud wall in the center of the table while the leader puts up Counter Magic. 

Round 2:
Start of Round 2
The left flag disappears.

Vlad Turn 2:
Vlad upkeeps everything, with a freebie assist from Sylys. No focus allocated.

The Drakun does a ride-by attack and shoots out the middle Pillar, then scoots back. The Widowmakers do a combination of aiming and moving shots and manage to pick off 4 Wolves of Oroboros (WOO). The Kayazy get Pathfinder from Saxon then move through the forest to get within range of the flag. The Demolisher tramples to barely get in range of the center flag.

The Tactical Arcanist Corps [TAC] advance and then Zephyr. Two members toss Flame Blasts at Bloodtrackers near the right flag, with one scoring a kill. The remaining TAC puts down smoke next to the forest while Valachev lurks in the back.

Vlad moves over to the right behind the smoke cloud, pops his feat (5 targets, all the Uhlans) and cycles HoF onto the Uhlans. Eiryss2 advances and attempts to shoot one of the Bloodtrackers, but misses the shot.

Markov charges the only Bloodtracker he can (absolute furthest on the right) and the Uhlans charge/run into the Bloodtrackers, killing 3 more and bunkering up around the flag.

Mohsar Turn 2:
Mohsar does not upkeep Mirage on the Bloodtrackers.

Druids advance and toss around Force Bolts. The Demolisher is pushed out of contesting range of the flag, kill one Kayazy, then miss shots on the leftmost Uhlan. The leader again puts up Counter Magic.

The WOO charge/run into the Widowmakers and Kayazy. One WOO makes charge distance on a Widowmaker, but gets chopped by a Drakun Counter Charge. Everything after that runs as far as possible to engage.

Megalith uses it's animus, then walks into combat with one of the Uhlans. He punches it twice for no damage, then casts Curse of Shadows on it (successfully.) The Bloodtrackers activate, with one moving into combat with Eiryss2, one moving over to Markov, and the rest aiming. Several rolls later, two Uhlans are dead and Markov has taken 1 damage.

Mohsar activates and Maltreats the Gorax again (3 damage.) He advances, kills one Kayazy with a Crevasse (due to the restrictions on how you have to place the spray,) then puts up Pillars to block off models on the right flank. The Shifting Stones teleport Mohsar back to a safe spot.

The Stalker and the Gallows Grove, with the Stalker putting it's animus on Morraig. Morraig charges a Kayazy, kills it, then moves in B2B with the center flag.

Mohsar scores 1 CP for controlling the center flag.

CPs: Vlad 0 - Mohsar 1

Round 3:
Start of Round 3
Vlad Turn 3:
Vlad upkeeps everything, allocates nothing.

The Drakun uses Ride-by Attack to pick off the two closest WOO, then advances slightly towards the center. Widowmakers move out and pick off a Druid. The TAC advance and Valachev Zephyrs, which allows one TAC to get into melee with the Bloodtracker engaging Eiryss. That TAC whiffs (despite a Transference attack boost,) and the other TAC toss Flame Bursts at Pillars, destroying one (the blue one in the picture above.)

The Uhlans charge into the nearby Bloodtrackers and Druid, killing them. Markov kills the Bloodtracker near him via a Ride-by Attack, then moves into position to charge Megalith next turn. Saxon gives the Kayazy Pathfinder while Vlad moves over behind cover and cycles HoF onto them. 

The Kayazy charge out, killing the remaining Bloodtracker, 2 Druids, 1 WOO, and doing 9 damage to Morraig. The Demolisher Tramples to get near the center flag again.

Mohsar Turn 3:
Mohsar upkeeps Curse of Shadows on the Uhlans.

Megalith puts up his animus, punches a nearby Uhlan to death, then tags one of the TAC with Crevasse, doing 4 damage to it. The Gorax fills up on Fury swinging at a Kayazy, connecting with the last attack, killing it.

Mohsar shoots Eiryss with his gun but leaves her alive. He then kills a Kayazy with Crevasse and manages to kill her with the resulting spray. Mohsar casts the Stalker's animus on it, then the Stones teleport him back to safety.

The remaining Druid Force Bolts the Demolisher, but doesn't manage to push it far enough away from the center flag. Morraig and the Stalker attack the Kayazy, killing two between all the attacks (with the Stalker Sprinting back afterwards.)

Round 4:
Start of Round 4
Vlad Turn 4:
Vlad upkeeps everything, allocates nothing.

The Uhlans (barely out of Megalith's melee range) move away to reposition for a charge. Markov charges into Megalith, doing scratch damage. Saxon gives the TAC Pathfinder and they charge into Megalith and take a big chunk out of him.

The Widowmakers pick off the remaining Druid while the Drakun charges a Shifting Stone and kills it. The Kayazy finish off the WOO and dismount Morraig. The Demolisher shuffles around the center. Vlad wanders closer to the right flag and into position to possibly charge Megalith.

Mohsar Turn 4:
Mohsar upkeeps Curse of Shadows on the Uhlans. The Gorax frenzies and punches the nearby Shifting Stone, but doesn't destroy it.

Megalith leads off the turn by punching all three TAC to death, which causes Valachev to flee in terror, but Megalith misses Markov. The Gallows Grove shifts up and the Stalker riles and runs towards the right flag.

Mohsar Maltreats the Stalker (2 damage) and arcs a Crevasse through the Gallows Grove at the Widowmakers, but misses. He moves towards the right flag, and puts two Pillars out to block Vlad and the Uhlans. The Stone Keeper blasts the Drakun with a Rock Hammer, doing 1 damage. Morraig swings at the Kayazy but can't connect.

Round 5:
Start of Round 5
Vlad Turn 5:
Vlad lets Assail drop, upkeeps HoF and Transference.

Sylys gives Vlad Arcane Secrets, then Vlad moves and clears out the Pillar in front of the Uhlans with a Razor Wind. The Uhlans and Markov pile into Megalith, killing it. Saxon runs over to get near the right flag. The Kayazy finish off Morraig.


At this point, we stop the game. It's getting late in the evening, and my friend is feeling kind of behind the 8 ball in terms of table position, so we agree to clean up.

Game Thoughts:
First off: this game was rough. Both of us were trying to play using something resembling timed turns in an effort to step our game up a bit, and I think that resulted in some rushed play. And it didn't even really work out in the end - I discovered that, at least with Android, the War Room in-app timer pauses when the device goes to sleep which makes it kind of useless. I didn't even get an accurate reading as to how slow I am.

My friend really felt the few mistakes he made with Mohsar, and that was compounded by some ugly dice swings during the game. He's a very difficult warlock to use because (like a lot of things in Circle) there isn't a lot of room for error - if you activate something out of order, misplace Pillars, or gaff up something else, it may cost you dearly. And then there's the pain of barely having a feat (or not having one at all against Warmachine.) There were a lot of things that he could have done differently in hindsight that would have made my life a lot harder and I think a rematch would go very differently.

I made some serious mistakes myself. The second turn feat with the Uhlans ended up working out, but it still hurt to lose my feat so early and without gaining a lot. I was kind of thinking about re-deploying the Uhlans and the Kayazy early in the game to try and mitigate Prey (and let me save my feat for longer,) but that ended up being near impossible due to terrain, bad positioning on my part, and clumsy initial deployment (the Drakun on the flank kinda sorta did stuff, but it was largely a waste of him for the game.)

I also failed to capitalize on the few scoring opportunities I had. If I had thought more about it I could have potentially walled Megalith out of being able to make it near the right flag on Turn 2, which would have given me a chance to score Turn 3. Likewise, even after killing Megalith at the end of the game I didn't have anything in a position to get to the flag and score (largely due to being greedy with trying to get an impact attack with Markov on the previous charge,) so I ended the game at 0 CP. 

It was also a big mistake to drop Assail on the Demolisher; I wanted to have another Focus to camp since I was moving Vlad into a vulnerable spot, but Assail would have let me easily get in contesting range of the right flag if I needed to reposition the Demolisher to help me hold that one down.

Finally, looking back on it I don't know that I was in that great of a spot. I had managed to take out a lot of Mohsar's resources, but I was also running perilously low on things that could get rid of Pillars, and I still had the Stalker to deal with. I'm not really sure what I would have done to finish out the game.

A big part of it depends on how much the Stalker is able to kill during it's activation next turn, and where it ends up. The smartest play seems to be to run (or Trample, if I don't drop Assail like a goon) the Demolisher over to the right flag and get Vlad back to the center to try and pressure the fight there. It's a way slower CP gain there, but Mohsar was also quickly running out of things that could contest it, and if I can get into a position to score during my turn and his turn, I can win before any shenanigans happen. 

Another key factor is trying to kill the Gorax in that final scramble. If I can get Primal off the table it becomes much harder for the Stalker to try and kill the Demolisher, and it also makes it harder for the Stalker to kill Vlad if it comes down to that showdown.

The other option is to keep Vlad on the right flank and try to have him kill the Stalker after it goes into the Uhlans and Markov. The Stalker would pretty trivially kill the Uhlans (Curse of Shadows and back arc,) but maybe Markov could get lucky and survive? At that point it comes down if/where the Stalker ends up positioned and what Pillars I have to deal with. It feels like that comes down to Vlad trying to kill the Stalker himself, but I think he'd have to take a round on the chin before then (Mohsar can protect the Stalker with Pillars leading up to that.) In that scenario Primal and potential Curse of Shadows make that prospect extremely scary, let alone whatever softening damage Mohsar can chip in.

This was another crazy grindfest game, which are the exact opposite of the type of game I figured I'd be playing with Vlad2. My thought was always that the list would either win quickly or lose quickly, without a lot of wiggle room in between. Although these past two games probably aren't indicative of "norms" (especially when playing against Circle) I'm glad to see that the list doesn't fold up as quickly as I worried it might. A big part of that is of course due to adding the Demolisher to the list (in this game and last game Drago would have died unceremoniously, or sat well away from the fight all game doing nothing,) which makes me very inclined to keep it in this configuration, even if it does cost me the Drakun's dismounted version.

No list thoughts as the list hasn't changed, and overall I'm still happy with it. The biggest thing is continuing to tighten up my play with the list; I'm still not happy with my deployments with this army and I feel like my movement of the units could be better during games. I'll blame that on so many games with Harkevich and his comparatively tiny model count.

Until next time, thanks very much for reading!

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