A friend of mine, who I shall for the purpose of this post call Blondie, played what was probably his fifth game today. I put together a quick 20 point list for him:
He played against my usual opponent, who I shall refer to as Beanpole. His list looked something like:
Paingiver Beast Handlers
I was drafted into setting up the table, and did so in a completely uninspired way. They both picked the Arcane Wonder objective. Blondie won the roll and chose to go first.
Blondie spread his jacks out a bit and scattered his Nyss around them. Beanpole formed a line with his beasts and Incendiarii, with the Paingivers behind them.
Bondie ran everything up, going for the zones. Iron Flesh went on the Nyss, and Fury on a Juggernaut.
Beanpole also pushed for the zones. Expecting a deluge of Nyss arrows this turn, he feated and cast Defender's Ward on the Incendiarii to try to keep them alive.
Rather than shoot at Beanpole's infantry, Blondie concentrated his fire into the light warbeasts, doing some damage. He put his jacks into the zones.
The Gladiator charged the nearby Juggernaut, but left it on a single cortex box. The Incendiarii moved close enough to the Nyss to ensure that their shots couldn't scatter off target and killed a few, also succeeding in setting Valachev, the Butcher, and the objective on fire. The Drake missed three boosted shots on the Nyss with his spray. Beanpole swapped Defenders Ward to the Gladiator.
Butcher feated and took out the Gladiator after the Nyss softened him up a bit.
The Juggernaut finally went down to an Incendiarii shot, of all things. The Cyclops, under Carnage, took Butcher down to just three boxes, but at that point Beanpole was out of activations. Beanpole did manage to clear the rest of the models in his zone however, meaning he could dominate for 1 point.
The Butcher kept all his Focus and cast Iron Flesh on himself, then moved over to dominate his zone, camping 4 focus. The Cyclops missed his free strike and took some damage from Cylena. The Juggernaut walked up to the Drake and killed it with just his initial axe attack. At the end of this turn both players scored a point.
Makeda killed Cylena, allowing the Cyclops to charge the Butcher and finally finish him off.
I tried not to give much advice in this game and let Blondie play it himself, which was probably a good thing since when I did give advice it wasn't always very good. For example, I told him to cast Iron Flesh on Butcher then run to his zone. Which of course is illegal. I'm surprised Beanpole didn't notice, he probably wasn't paying attention. Also I suggested he keep Fury on the Juggernaut; if he hadn't the Gladiator would have missed one of his attacks, probably leaving the Juggernaut in a position to kill or at least severely weaken it without Butcher's interference. Even after that I still recommended that he upkeep Fury (thinking he was going to give the Juggernaut Focus, which he didn't); as a result Butcher took more damage from the Cyclops (not that it would have changed the outcome of the game, but still).
So with Casey Jones finally ready for the tabletop again I wanted to try a Butcher gunline I had been planning. I also wanted to try out Maddie, who could help overcome the Butcher's limited threat range or make Alexia even more annoying. This gave me an excuse to bring the Kovnik back, since he might actually be able to pull off a charge with Maddie's help.
Alexia & the Risen
Beanpole brought out the big guy, and the other big guy:
Paingiver Beast Handlers
We left the table as it was. He won the roll and opted to go second. We both settled for the Arcane Wonder objective.
He pre-deployed the Mammoth centrally, just a little closer to my zone.
I deployed Butcher pretty much centrally, with a jack on each side, along with the solos. The Nyss were on the right, with Alexia right behind them but the Risen farther back, out of the way - I decided that this game they would stay back and pretty much just serve as focus.
Lacking pathfinder, Beanpole put the rest of his army on the side of the Mammoth that wasn't behind a forest.
Everything ran forwards, even Alexia forgoing her usual turn 1 Thrall in order to stay in collection range of the Nyss. Butcher put Iron Flesh on the Nyss and Fury on a Destroyer.
He advanced the Mammoth (I think he used Assault for the extra distance) and fired some shots. A lucky deviation on the first shot took out Cylena, robbing me of CRAs for the rest of the game.
Butcher handed out two focus to each jack, moved up and feated. The Nyss and the jacks shot at the Mammoth, doing respectable damage, which was topped off by a Thrallpedo.
After my turn was done the Mammoth looked like this:
I had deliberately kept the Kovnik back from the wall so the Nihilators couldn't attack him over it, and without pathfinder they wouldn't be able to charge over to the other side. However, this meant that he didn't get the cover bonus when the Raider shot him. A nice boosted damage roll took him out, leaving the path open for a Nihilator to walk up and kill Maddie. Sigh. More Nyss died to AOEs, including Valachev (who is pretty much an honorary Nyss at this point).
With Nyss and Risen I killed a number of his Nihilators. The Destroyers sent more Bombards into the Mammoth, but one missed. Another Thrallpedo was fired. For some reason I dropped Fury this turn.
Yet more Nyss died (and Risen too, but who cares). He put Blood Mark on the Destroyer on the right, putting some damage on it with ranged attacks. The Fat Man finally got his (or rather his bearer's) toes into the zone, earning a point.
So I pretty much ignored the scenario and allowed him to start scoring. This was not good. I decided to try to force him to commit his Mammoth by splitting my jacks and putting them into the zones. Looking back, I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking, as I didn't exactly cover my pieces with overlapping threats. Oh well.
I wanted to charge a Destroyer into the Cyclops Savage, but there was a problem: the objective was blocking Butcher's line of sight, so I couldn't cast Fury, which I had just dropped last turn. Also, one Nihilator who was blocking my charge lane. I wasn't able to kill him with Nyss shots as he was engaging the Destroyer, and a Thrallpedo missed it's attack, forcing me to trample over him and lose my initial attack. Two bought attacks did not do the job.
The other Destroyer walked into the zone and put another Bombard into the Mammoth. Butcher ran into the zone, and various other models ran around to try to block Mammoth landing zones. I scored a point for dominating my zone.
The Mammoth charged in and took out the Destroyer, allowing him to start scoring again. The last of the Nihilators contested my zone, failing to kill the dog in the process.
The dog charged a Nihilator but missed, and died to a free strike when he tried to return. Which at least got him out of the way, allowing Butcher to walk in and finished off the unit. Fury went on the Nyss. The remaining Destroyer walked forwards and put another Bombard into the Mammoth, which was followed by a Thrallpedo to the back. Finally the remaining Nyss charged, just managing to finish off the big beast at last. However I had not contested his zone, allowing him to score again.
Between Breath of Corruption and a lucky Paingiver, Beanpole finished off the Nyss. He positioned the Paingivers and Savage to get freestrikes on anyone making a run for the zone, and ended his turn, bringing his score to 4.
There was no way Risen were surviving free strikes, and nothing else was in range to contest except the blood-marked Destroyer, who ran into the zone. I finished off all but one of his Paingivers, who passed the leadership check. I scored a point, bringing my score to 3.
Between the Savage, a really good boosted damage roll with the Raider, and spells with Rasheth, he was able to take out the Destroyer and score his fifth point.
The gunline put a decent amount of damage on the Mammoth, if he had brought regular heavies I should have been able to take one off the board - at least if he hadn't killed Cylena I should have, I think two-man CRAs are likely to do a bit more damage than single shots overall. As it was the Mamoth was too tough to crack in one round, and in later rounds he started healing it with Fury and Paingivers, erasing most of the damage I was doing. I think I was being too cagey; I should have moved the jacks up agressively and forced a trade with the weakened Mammoth after that first round of shooting - Alexia with Fury probably could have finished it off without Butcher's help. Or hell, I should have just charged it with the Nyss earlier. Not sure why I didn't really; Perhaps losing Cylena, Maddy and the Kovnik so easily make me more cautious? More likely I was just set in a gun-line mentality at that point.
Keeping the Risen back worked out much better than pushing them forwards did in the last game, but I'm not sure if there was something better I could have been doing with them. I could probably have sent the Risen into his zone early to at least distract him a bit, but I don't think there would have been much point since he could have spared a couple of Nihilators to take them out, plus the savage and Rasheth himself, neither of whom did very much for most of the game.
Even without the Risen gumming up the works, I still had issues with positioning; for some reason I couldn't seem to picture distances this game, and I think that was partly why, in retrospect, I played too sloppily - not in terms of my actions, but in terms of taking liberties with nudging models around without measuring accurately, forgetting to allocate and asking to do it later, that sort of thing. I need to pay more attention to make sure I play a "tighter" game in the future. Also I need to play faster, I might need to start timing my turns then slowly trying to speed up.