Monday, December 22, 2014

Sorscha2 vs. Kreoss3 - Gentlemen's Agreement

With the 2015 Brawltimore Season kicking off soon, I've been wanting to get in as much practice as I can before going to my first event in January. That's been tricky with the end-of-year holidays throwing off our normal gaming schedules, but happily our group was able to get together one last time before 2014 closes out.

I paired up with my friend who plays Protectorate and threw Sorscha2 into the fight to get some more practice with her and her list. Join me after the break for the full game report.

My List:
Forward Kommander Sorscha (*6pts)
   * Conquest (19pts)
   * Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5pts)
Kayazy Eliminators (Leader and Grunt) (3pts)
Kayazy Eliminators (Leader and Grunt) (3pts)
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt (4pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Winter Guard Infantry (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
   * Winter Guard Infantry Officer & Standard (2pts)
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution (3pts)
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich (2pts)
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator (1pts)

Not a lot to say about this list that I haven't said already. This is the first run of this iteration, so lets see how it works out!

My Friend's List:
Intercessor Kreoss (*5pts)
   * Fire of Salvation (9pts)
   * Reckoner (8pts)
   * Vanquisher (8pts)
   * Hierophant (2pts)
Choir of Menoth (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Daughters of the Flame (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Exemplar Vengers (Leader and 4 Grunts) (11pts)
Knights Exemplar (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
The Wrack (3 wracks) (1pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)

This is the same Kreoss3 list my friend has been running for awhile and it's a solid one. Also a great thing to come back to, since we haven't played Warmachine in awhile.

Scenario: SR2014 Into The Breach - No Timer (we were both a little rusty)

Sorscha wins initiative and opts to take first turn. The crater counts as difficult terrain and cover, but it does not block LOS.

Also, it's worth pointing out that even after I explicitly pointed out how easy it is to set this scenario up backwards, I ended up setting up the scenario backwards anyways. The zone should be to my left, and the flag to my right. I don't think it has a big effect on the game - we pretty much playtested an alternate version of this scenario - but I wanted to mention it. Double check your zone deployment kids!

Round 1:
Sorscha Turn 1:
Fairly standard "everything runs" turn. The two things worth noting are that Conquest charges up with Boundless Charge (for the slight overall movement increase) and the WGI get Desperate Pace before they run, so they make it quite a ways up the table. No upkeeps go out.

Kreoss Turn 1:
Similar turn of running for Kreoss. Warpath goes up, and Holy Ward goes up on the Daughters, who then run forward to engage some of the WGI. The Choir sings Passage for the warjacks.

Round 2:
Start of Round 2
Sorscha Turn 2:
Sorscha allocates two Focus to Conquest. She activates first, gives the WGI Desperate Pace, and casts Iron Flesh on them.

Joe gives the WGI boosted attack rolls, then the WGI then activate and those that are in combat walk out under Bob & Weave. Two are killed by free strikes, but the remainder manage to kill 5 of the Daughters with CRAs (they pass their CMD check for casualties.)

Aiyana gives Magical Weapons to the Conquest, who then advances to toe into the zone and shoots the Reckoner with a boosted attack. The shot connects and criticals, throwing the Reckoner back into Kreoss. The Reckoner takes 12 damage from the shot (boost + same base size damage die) which blows out it's Cortex. Kreoss takes 1 damage from the collateral damage, and both models are knocked down. The Secondary Battery shots manage to kill one of the Knight Exemplar.

The Eliminators on the left flank charge into the Vengers, killing one (the other Eliminator misses her attack,) and positioning to invervene in charge lanes.

On the right flank, the Widowmakers advance and shoot down three of the Knights Exemplar. Everything else moves to reposition.

Kreoss Turn 2:
Note: We goofed up a bit here and forgot that the Reckoner's Cortex was out. Due to the way the turn played out, it doesn't matter much in hindsight, but that is why the early part of the turn may not make sense.

Kreoss upkeeps Warpath, drops Holy Ward, and allocates two Focus to the Reckoner, and one to Fire of Salvation. He and the Reckoner use a Focus to shake knockdown.

The lone Daughter attempts to move over and attack one of the Elminators, but comes up short. The Vengers then charge into the WGI. One Venger gets stuck on an Eliminator (missed Impact Attack,) one charges an Eliminator, and two charge into the WGI. The attack on the Elminator misses, but several of the WGI are killed.

The Vanquisher advances and fires a shot at the Elminators, but it scatters wide of anything. The nearby Vassal uses Ancillary Attack to let the Vanquisher shoot again, and this shot lands on an Eliminator, doing 4 damage to her and settig her on fire. The remaining Exemplars run into the zone.

The Choir advance and sing Passage again. Fire of Salvation runs into position, and the nearby Vassal puts Enliven on him. The Reckoner advances and fires a boosted shot at one of the Great Bears (here's the gaff) but misses (and that's what makes it not matter.)

Round 3:
Start of Round 3
Sorscha Turn 3:
During the Maintenance Phase, the Eliminator that is on fire burns and dies (the remaining one passes her command check.)

Sorscha upkeeps Iron Flesh for free, gives two Focus to Conquest, and keeps the rest. Reinholdt starts off the turn by allowing her to measure the distance between the rear Great Bear and the Reckoner (it's just over 13" away.) Sorscha then activates, gives Desperate Pace to the WGI, and moves to allow herself to cast Boundless Charge on the front two Great Bears.

Joe activates and gives the WGI Tough and Fearless, then shoots a Venger and kills it (!!!). The WGI activate and kill a Choir member and the other nearby Venger. The front two Great Bears charge into the Reckoner, scrapping it and doing 2 damage to the enemy objective with the last Backswing attack. The third Great Bear hangs back.

The remaiing Eliminator on the right flank charge the Vanquisher, doing 6 or so damage with her combo strike, then Side Steps to engage it and the Vassal from behind. Aiyana gives Conquest Magical Weapons again, while Holt advances and shoots down one of Choir.

Conquest advances and puts a boosted shot into Fire of Salvation, which hits (no crit) and does around 9 damage. Fire of Salvation uses Enliven to advance forward. The Secondary Battery shots do nothing. The Widowmakers follow up and finish off the Knights Exemplar and one Choir member, which causes the remaining one to flee.

The Elminators on the left flank charge into Kreoss and Fire of Salvation. Both attacks connect, doing 3 damage to Kreoss and another 6 or so to Fire. Eiryss runs up to deny Focus allocation to Fire of Salvation.

End of turn, Sorscha scores 1 CP for controlling the zone.

CPs: Sorscha 1 - Kreoss 0

Kreoss Turn 3:
During the Maintenance Phase, Fire of Salvation's Righteous Vengeance ability resolves, and he advances and swings at Eiryss, but misses.

Kreoss upkeeps Warpath, allocates one Focus to the Vanquisher, and keeps the rest. The Vengers lead off by charging the Eliminators, killing both of them and triggering Warpath moves for Fire of Salvation and the Vanquisher. Both models advance up, with the Vanquisher taking minor damage from the Eliminator's free strike.

The Heirophant uses Harmonious Exaltation on Kreoss. Kreoss activates, kills a WGI with a Ride-By melee attack, then casts Crevasse at the WGI Officer with a boosted attack roll. It connects and kills, and the resulting spray kills another WGI. Fire of Salvation swings and Eiryss and a WGI during it's activation, but misses both attacks.

The Vassal on the right flank uses Ancillary Attack to make the Vanquisher shoot at the Widowmakers, but the shot misses and scatters wide. The Vanquisher then advances and attacks one of the Great Bears, boosting the attack and killing him.

Another Note: we realized that the Vanquisher could have used it's (rarely applied) Thresher attack here, and upon rolling it out the attacks would have killed both Great Bears. The picture doesn't reflect that, but that's how we played it going into Round 4.

End of turn, Kreoss didn't manage to move anything into the zone, so Sorscha scores 1 CP.

CPs: Sorscha 2 - Kreoss 0

Round 4:
Start of Round 4
Sorscha Turn 4:
Because nothing is in the zone, all Sorscha needs to do is destroy the objective and Dominate the zone in order to win. Conquest gets a full focus load to destroy the objective (which he does) and Sorscha runs into the zone to Dominate for the remaining 2 CPs.

Result: Sorscha wins via scenario!

Post-Game Thoughts:
Aside from the two rules hiccups during the game (the scenario set up and the forgotten broken cortex) it ran well. Neither of us have played much Warmachine in the past month or two, and I think that showed with some of the tactical goofs we made, but it was very good to knock the rust off and get into the flow of the game again.

One interesting that that didn't happen this game: neither of us popped our 'caster's feat during the course of the game. Part of that was somewhat overcaution - I think both of us were waiting for that "perfect" time to pop our respective feats - but I think the other reason we ended up holding back is because there wasn't ever a big need for either of them. Both of those feats could have been used for excellent assassination runs, so I think they would have been used for that if the game had gone on much longer.

Things That Went Well:
How about that critical? I have more to say about that later, but Conquest criticals at key moments can yield fantastic results. Not something you can bank on, but it is worth picking targets with that possibility in mind.

The WGI did a great job of gumming up wth works and doing some solid work over the course of the game, and this if the first game in awhile I haven't felt like I've been tripping over the unit while I'm activating it.

Another note about Conquest, this one less based on random luck, is that I managed to keep him relevant all game without putting him in significant danger. The early crit helped a lot with that, but allocation of the infantry I had available also kept most of the bigger threats to him tied up until they were crippled (or the game was over.) That left Conquest in a very strong position at the end of the game, and that gave me a really solid foothold to close out the game.

Things That Did Not Go Well:
The one whiffed Eliminator charge wasn't ideal; I really wanted to get two Vengers off the table that turn, or at least kill one and seriously damage another.

Other than hiccup, there weren't many things that didn't go particularly well.  That said, this game was in no way without

Key Mistakes/Things To Do Differently:
I feel like I didn't use the Great Bears particularly well, but in all honesty I never feel like I do (which is why I haven't used them often in the past.) I feel like I either put them forward too aggressively (this is something I do most often, and the habit I most seriously need to break,) or I don't put them in a useful spot (something I do less often, but another habit I need to break.)

It worked out this game due to the Reckoner missing, but it just as easily could have not (especially if the Vanquisher would have shot at them instead.) I really need to work on placing them in relevant positions that are still reasonably safe. They're very effective counter-punchers, and I need to make sure I position and use them that way.

I also need to get better about getting Sorscha2's upkeeps out more intelligently. I knew that I didn't want to get Iron Flesh out early due to the possibility of Kreoss3's feat and Blessed weapons all over the place, but I should have either put it on them just for the hell of it (which is what I ended up doing anyways) or put Shatterstorm on them (on the off chance it would have helped against the Daughters.)

Speaking of the WGI, I got way too excited in running them forward. I'm rusty on doing "safe line" math so I didn't realize how far I could afford to move the WGI without being tied up with running Daughters. That was a simple mistake and it cost me a few WGI and a un-jamming headache that I didn't really need to be exposed to. I know that even if you can run fast models up the table hella fast, it's not always prudent to do so; this was a good reminder.

Noteworthy Model Thoughts:
Conquest is a model that drives me crazy, because it feels like a big portion of its value comes out of how many Critical Devastation shots you can get off with it. Games where he manages to score those one or two crucial critical shots, he feels like a great investment. Games where he misses those shots or doesn't critical are ones where he feels like he's nowhere near worth his cost. The Secondary Battery guns are an adorable thing to have, and his it's melee damage output is wonderful, but the driving line of what makes for a great colossal is how well it handles the ranged game and the melee game. Conquest does well in one, but feels super random in the other.

I still love Eliminators. They're great flanking models, or models to throw into flanking models to give them something tricky to deal with. And on top of all that they hit damn hard for their cost with their Combo Strikes. They rarely let me down, and this game was no different.

Great Bears are great. I've used that line before, but it's so wonderfully true. They're an absolute steal for how hard they hit, and if I can ever line up one of their charges with Sorscha2's feat against a juicy target they'll pay for themselves many times over. I just need to learn to use the damn things more effectively.

List Changes/Tweaks:
None. I'm very happy with where the list is now, and I want to get as many games in as I can stand before I change it significantly (so, based on my history, like 5.) I have some possible tweaks in mind - depending on what I do with Behemoth in Irusk2's list, I could swap Conquest out for him to get similar output and pick up points to spend on other niceties - but I'm filing those away for now. The list is good, and works, so for once I'm not looking to tinker or futz with it too much.

Closing Thoughts:
Playing Sorscha2 and Irusk2 after playing Harkevich for the better part of the year (and Strakov a lot prior to that) has been nearly a religious experience (Butcher3 is a religious experience.) Such a huge difference in capability, potency, and flexibility; it's wonderful. Now I just need to not be so damn clumsy when working with infantry. I really miss 8 model + UA units from the Mk. 1 days.

The first Brawltimore event I plan on attending is on 1/10/15 and I'd love to get in more practice before then. It's a 35 point event so I wouldn't be using my practiced list pair but, barring an unusual format, I'd be running a form of Sorscha2 (more on this later in the week) so more practice at 50 points would be welcome. I have plans to get together with some friends over the coming weekend and get some more games in, which may be the last bit of practice I get before I have to throw down proper.

Hopefully I'll have some games to post up afterwards, and some lessons learned I can carry into the new year. Until then, thanks very much for reading!


  1. Nice BR as usual. Your comment about Conquest struggling to be relevant in some games resonates with my experiences, and I'd go a step further and say that it's true for all Khador warjacks and most lists using more than one. Khador 'jacks are expensive and fairly un-flexible, and the limited support we have for them (which goes down if we get more than one unless it's name is Drago), combined with their Focus-greedy nature, gives us a fairly unique style (especially for a game called "Warmachine"). That's probably my biggest frustration with Khador in general (besides MoWs); we lean so hard on our (non MoW) infantry compared to the ability of other factions to elevate their 'jacks beyond piece-trading or bullet/lightning/fire/acid magnets. Even our 'jack caster, Karchev, needs a fair amount of infantry to be relevant in a competitive game. (Although I've been wanting to experiment with a B2 'jack list lately...)

    1. Yeah man, I totally understand. I'd actually go a step further and say that almost all of Warmachine suffers from that problem. If you look across most of the competitive Warmachine lists, the only ones that run more than one warjack or just a colossal are very specialized 'casters.

      Protectorate is commonly cited as a "warjack" faction, but even they only get away with it by taking very specific battlegroup combinations. The only faction that I think can really, legitimately run interesting battlegroup lists (in terms of composition and diversity) is Convergence, and they were explicitly designed for it.

      Its why the topic comes up so much, so often. Few players get into Warmachine expecting to run so much infantry (which usually translates to "more than one unit",) but its very difficult to do so without extensive game knowledge (and even then it isn't particularly easy.) By the time players have figured that out, they're usually heavily invested.

      But that's a topic for another time. :-) Butcher2 can actually run a decent sized battlegroup (2-3 warjacks) fairly well, it's just that most players stick with the theme. I've had a lot of fun running him out of theme in the past (I'll never own that many Doom Reavers) and I'm willing to bet he's only going to get better at it when Ruin and/or the Grolar become available.

    2. I forgot to put this in my initial comment, but what's your second list going to be? Vlad 2 is pretty awesome at 35, but with B3 you'll run into fewer things that can tech against him (I think).

    3. I have a post similar to my 50 point pair breakdown coming for 35 points; that one should be going up tomorrow. :)

      To spoil it a bit: barring any shifts I'll probably just run the same lists I ran during the last 35 point event (Vlad2 and Sorscha2.) That pair does a decent job of covering the field, while still letting me play a 'caster I really enjoy putting on the table.

      And that's really the main motivation behind using Vlad2. He's strongest at 35 points and I really like what he does (Vlad2 runs an "infantry" list the way I want to run it,) so I want to use him while I can. Butcher3 is certainly very strong at 35 points (he's strong at all points short of 75, and he's probably still very good at that level,) and I'm keeping him on deck in case I just want to smash everything.

      But I want to run Vlad2 in as many 35 point events as possible so I can live the dream of watching feated, HoF'd Uhlans gut an enemy army by themselves. :)