Friday, July 25, 2014

Harkevich vs Exulon Thexus - Giving Up Ham

I played a game yesterday against a buddy of mine using Cephalyx. It was a decent game, albeit a bit one sided after the mid point. This game ended up being a tipping point for me, but more about that after the break.

This game was pretty quick and very straightforward, so I'm going to cut to the chase:

My List:
Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf (*5pts)
   * Conquest (19pts)
   * Juggernaut (7pts)
   * Juggernaut (7pts)
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 5 Grunts) (3pts)
Greygore Boomhowler & Co. (Boomhowler and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
Kayazy Eliminators (Leader and Grunt) (3pts)
Kayazy Eliminators (Leader and Grunt) (3pts)
Harlan Versh (2pts)
Koldun Lord (2pts)

My Friend's List:
Exulon Thexus (*5pts)
   * Wrecker (7pts)
   * Wrecker (7pts)
   * Warden (6 pts)
Cephalyx Mind Bender and Drudges (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Cephalyx Mind Slaver and Drudges (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Cephalyx Overlords (4pts)
Cephalyx Dominator (2pts)
   * Tactical Arcanist Corps (4pts)
Machine Wraith (1pts)
Machine Wraith (1pts)
Pistol Wraith (3pts)
Pistol Wraith (3pts)
Cephalyx Agitator (2pts)
Cephalyx Agitator (2pts)
Cephalyx Agitator (2pts)

Scenario: SR2014 Incursion

Round 1:
Start of Round 1
Harkevich gets first turn. Everything runs forward, relevant upkeeps go up.

Round 2:
Start of Round 2
More of Harkevich's army runs up, some shots are fired (Critical Devastation #1!) but little damage is done.

The Cephalyx continue to press up the table, killing one Eliminator from each unit along the way and thinning out the Boomhowlers. The Pistol Wraiths lock down Conquest but shank the other chance to Death Chill.

Round 3:
Start of Round 3
Left Eliminator charges the Mind Slaver, but fails to kill. Harkevich pops feat. Juggernauts each charge in and kill one TAC and a Pistol Wraith. Boomhowlers push into the zone and kill a brain-Drudge. Versh shoots some more brain-Drudges. Conquest gets another Critical (#2!) but nothing significant comes out of it.

On Thexus' turn, Machine Wraiths possess both Juggernauts, everything on the right clears the friendly zone allowing Thexus to move up and score. The Overlords stab the Eliminator to death, adding one to the punch-Drudges. The punch-Drudges run to flood Harkevich's friendly zone. The remaining TAC kills the Koldun Lord. Thexus scores 1 CP.

Round 4:
After staring at the table for a bit, I can't come up with a plan to make any reasonable headway. The Machine Wraiths can keep the Juggernauts on lockdown effectively indefinitely (even if I shake them out, I can't kill them as he gets to place them anywhere within 3" of the warjack,) and I can't get anything into his zone to contest it that won't be killed/TK'd + feated out, nevermind that I still need to deal with possible control of my friendly zone.

I make some attacks for the fun of it, including Conquest's 3rd Critical, but even that doesn't make any difference as none of the attacks kill anything. I opt to self terminate by letting the clock run out (10 minutes of Deathclock left, which my friend and I spend chatting about the game, the lists, etc.)

Result: Thexus wins by scenario/Deathclock!

Post Game Thoughts:
This game was straight up ugly. My opponent commented afterwards that he didn't think it was going to go that badly for me, and I can kind of understand that: Conquest is big and scary, and the Juggernauts can both do some lifting. It's plenty of armor, so it can seem intimidating, and his list has a ton of bodies so the AOEs are going to catch plenty of dudes.

However, I had some suspicions leading up to this game, and unfortunately pretty much all of them panned out. Deceleration absolutely guts any ranged output this list may have had; Conquest's main gun is effectively direct fire (the blasts need 10's to kill) and the Secondary Batterys are hilariously useless. The Pistol Wraiths and Machine Wraiths give him an excellent set of lockdown tools for my battlegroup, and the TAC give him a great spot to hide them (in fairness, I didn't think about this beforehand, and he didn't even realize it until things took shape around turn 2.)

What that amounts to is that it's very, very hard for Harkevich's battlegroup to do much of anything in this match up, a problem that is compounded by the fact that if Wreckers can get to the heavies on anything other than Harkevich's feat turn (not too hard with their natural threat and TK) there's a very good chance that heavy will be critically crippled or possibly outright destroyed. That leaves the rest of the list to pick up the slack, and when the rest of the list is all of 19 points worth of "working" models (Mechaniks aren't known for their prowess,) that's very rough.

There are a few things I want to acknowledge:

 - My opponent played his list well. He did pretty much everything he needed to in order to mitigate my heavies, and keep the press on his defensive scoring zone. This would be a tough fight regardless (I can see why people say Incoming is an easy scenario to lose quickly,) and he played it very appropriately.

 - This is, in general, not the kind of match up that Harkevich would want to be dropped against. Cephalyx play very Cryx-ish, and that is exactly the type of match up that he wants to avoid like the plague. Thexus is worse in some ways because Deceleration and Sacrifical Pawn all over the place cripple how Harkevich's battlegroup usually gets extra work done (i.e. via ranged.) I was kind of stubborn and played this match up because I wanted to play Harkevich this week, but in any sane circumstance this is where you slap down your anti-Cryx list.

 - Dice were all over the curve this game, and in very painful places. No attack made against an Eliminator missed, even though the three attacks needed: 11, 9, 11. Conquest couldn't not Critical with his Main Guns (and thank god for it; I'd hate to see the board state if he didn't toss everything around.) The one remaining Eliminator charged a knocked down agitator (out of spite) and not only didn't kill, but didn't do any damage across two attacks, one a charge attack. Not blaming this game on dice - I think it would have gone the same way regardless - but damn was it bizarre.

 - I could have potentially done some things differently to better my position. In a "so crazy it might work" moment, I may have been better off just running Conquest at the opposing zone and hoping for the best; he'll probably be locked down and killed, but even if so its better than it getting locked down and me slowly losing. That would have allowed me to have the two Juggernauts holding down the fort at my defensive zone for awhile, which also may have kept the Machine Wraiths out of them for another round.

 - I underestimated how much of a pain the TAC cloud wall would be. Being able to AD then advance or run them Turn 1 lets them set that cloud wall way the hell up the table. That gives him ample room to hide pretty much anything he wants behind it; in this game it was ghosts to avoid a random early death, but it just as easily could have been Agitators, heavies, or even Thexus himself. I should have put more effort into removing the TAC early, to flush those elements out into the open. This will definitely be mentioned in my Fighting Cephalyx ProTips.

I also definitely should have been taking more direct shots with the Secondary Batterys - even though the shot kind of sucks (and definitely sucks under Deceleration) killing one or two models a turn is better than putting down Creeping Barrages. In hindsight, I really don't know why I did that.

I guess I hoped that it'd limit the Drudges' movement more, but no one really cares about it when it needs 10s to kill. I'll blame the pre-game bourbon for this decision.

All told, I ended this game pretty frustrated. Not due to my friend or his list - he was perfectly jovial the whole time, and I think Cephalyx are pretty interesting and balanced - but due to how helpless I felt during the game. Aside from a handful of attacks there wasn't much I did of note all game, and that was how things were likely to play out from the start. Though again, there were a few things I could have done that would have been at least more aggressive and active, which would have been better than the slow, passive death I ended up with.

My frustration was mostly due to Harkevich's limitations, which is why he and I have agreed to see other lists for the time being.

That said, this game was an excellent chance to see how the Cephalyx play, and I'm glad my friend gave me a chance to square off against them. I think the overall impressions of that contract (or at least, how it is as run by Thexus currently) are best laid out in another post, but here's the short version: it's like Convergence and Cryx had a baby, then sold it to Mercs.

Very interesting, complex army that I'll hopefully be elaborating more on soon. In the meantime, you can read about my friend's exploits with the shiny new slimy Merc contract over at his blog. He'll hopefully be giving his perspective on the game played above sometime in the near future, which will hopefully be more illustrative than my account ("I came, I saw, I died outside the zones.")

One last thing I experienced this game that's worth sharing: I had heard from various podcasts how easy Incoming can be to win via scenario. I've barely played it, so I didn't quite understand what they meant, so this game I was keeping my eye on the scenario to see what they were talking about.

After this game, I can definitely see how easy this scenario could be for some 'casters. The defensive zone can be easy to wall off depending on how fast of a force you're playing, and so then the game becomes about throwing resources at your opponent's zone to stop them from scoring. The destructible objective adds another "swing" element to the game: if your opponent ever gets to 3 CP, you're in real danger of losing the game the next turn via friendly zone dominate + destroy the enemy objective.

Even worse, it's possible for very aggressive, strong scenario lists to potentially grab 2/3 CPs early: a fast enough force (especially combined with a strong scenario feat) could kick you out of your friendly zone to score there, dominate their friendly zone, and destroy the objective. Then they could either dominate the enemy zone for a win, or retreat to their friendly zone and bunker up for those last 2 CPs.

It seems to me that the most dangerous things about this scenario are how far up the objectives are (making them pretty easy to get to,) and how far away the enemy zone is. Some lists are going to have a difficult time spreading out enough to cover both zones and when that happens one army is going to be in a great position to score defensively. If you can do that three times, you can all but guarantee a win (assuming you have enough stuff left to clear your zone one last time while also killing their objective, which may or may not be an issue by that point.)

This is definitely a scenario to be very wary of, as it seems like it could get out of hand very quickly if you don't watch what's going on. That kind of happened to me this game, and I was even somewhat forewarned! Something else to keep that in mind during SR prep/actual games.

And with that, I think this game is about covered. Until next time, thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment