My list is pretty stable right now because there's basically nothing that I'm willing to take out; I can't lose the Nyss, it's too early to take out the Doomreavers, I can't live without Alexia, and I like the Cutthroats. I've considered downgrading the Spriggan in order to add Sylyss and Reinholdt or Eliminators, but I'm afraid that without Reach a Juggernaut just won't have enough threat range.
Alexia & the Risen
Beanpole was trying a beast-heavy list:
Paingiver Beast Handlers (6)
Gobber bellows crew
We ended up with the classic two zones and two objectives, and we both picked Fuel Cache. He won the roll to go first and I picked the side with the forest and trenches (mainly so he couldn't have the trenches, but with Cutthroats and Nyss forests can be useful to me).
He deployed in a central brick. I put Sorscha a little on my right, so she could easily get to my zone. The Nyss went in the center. I put Alexia a little to the left, so she would be between the Nyss and where I wanted the Cutthroats. The Risen were scattered in the back where they wouldn't get in the way. I don't remember why I put the Spriggan where I did. Finally the Cutthroats went on the left, and the Doomreavers on the right.
After handing out all the speed buffs, his beasts got reasonably far up the board.
So I made my first mistake of the game when I deployed Sorscha too far from the Cutthroats, who I had been planning to give Iron Flesh. So I had to move her over to the left in order to get close enough. The Doomreavers ran and spread out, but it looked like the Cutthroats might be in range to shoot already, plus I didn't think they needed to be too far forwards yet since I wasn't planning on try to take his zone, only contest it, so they simply advanced and shot. I think they might have put a bit of damage on the Gladiator.
Using the Archidon's Sprint animus, Beanpole was able to kill a couple of Doomreavers and a Cutthroat and sprint back to safety. I think he was wary of my army crashing into him under Sorscha's feat. He made sure to toe his zone though to stop me from scoring.
Looking at the table here, I had an idea. It looked like I might be able to kill both the Gladiator and the Archidon this turn, though it would cost me my Spriggan. The thing was, with those two dead he would find it very hard to get across the big chunk of rough terrain in his zone, making it a very safe place for Sorscha to potentially dominate! So Sorscha filled up the Spriggan, gave him Boundless Charge, and feated to catch the two warbeasts. The Archidon went down to some ridiculous damage rolls from Croe and a Thrall. Meanwhile the Spriggan decided to roll tripple sixes on his charge; by the time he put it down he had enough focus left to buy a boosted attack and kill a Gobber. The other one survived though, denying me a point. Oh, and the Doomreavers moved up and whiffed.
Under Makeda's feat, the Bronzeback killed my Spriggan and the Savage took out most of my Doomreavers.
I noticed that the Bronzeback seemed to be in range of a Boundless Charge from Alexia. However, while setting it up he actually triggered Hyper-Aggressive off the Cutthroats and ended up close enough that I didn't need the Boundless Charge. So Alexia went in and burned all her Risen, but couldn't finish the job - I think the Bronzeback had about six boxes left by the end. Meanwhile the Doomreavers and Nyss Hunters charged the Savage and Krea, but missed most of their attacks. At this point the left zone didn't seem like such a good bet anymore, so I moved Sorscha over to my zone instead using Cyclone, and put Iron Flesh on the Nyss. I might have put a boosted shot into something (I wasn't too scared of hitting my own Nyss considering they were engaged and Iron Fleshed), but I guess she missed. Oh, and I think this was the turn that a Cutthroat killed the last Gobber, and Croe actually managed to tag Makeda with his Silencer... mwahahahahaaa! Ah, hem. Sorry.
Between the Bronzeback, Makeda and some Paingivers, I was knocked down to just Croe on the left. The Savage took out the last Doomreaver but no-one seemed to be able to hit the elusive Nyss. Some healing took place.
Croe charged the Bronzeback hoping for a super high damage roll to finish it off, but whiffed. The Nyss finally killed the Savage but couldn't kill the Krea. I'd dropped Iron Flesh in order to charge a couple of Nyss into the Bronzeback, but they both died to freestrikes from a Paingiver. Cylena tried to kill it but whiffed. One Nyss just ran to contest the enemy zone (which was kinda stupid since I didn't need to yet). Sorscha recast Iron Flesh on the Nyss, killed the Willbreaker with her quad-iron, and shuffled a little but further away from the Bronzeback. I finally scored a point.
Makeda cleared the zone. The Bronzeback charged Cylena but didn't make distance thanks to the Spriggan's wreckage. We both scored a point.
I was planning to put a CRA into the Bronzeback, but before that I moved one Nyss to engage a Paingiver in case I didn't need him to kill the Krea, but this allowed the Bronzeback to counter-charge and engage the Nyss, meaning I could no longer CRA him. Cylena whiffed again and the best that the rest could do was kill a Paingiver. Sorscha might have tried some shooting but I don't think anything came of it, so I moved her a bit farther back again. We both scored again.
The Bronzeback charged into my zone and killed a Nyss Hunter. Makeda left her zone to kill Cylena for some reason. No points this turn.
By now the Bronzeback had healed back up to something like 12 boxes. I wasn't sure if I could kill him without committing Sorscha, but doing that would put my in range of Makeda. So I hatched a desperate plan: Sorscha used Cyclone then charged a Paingiver in the enemy zone, only just making distance (I didn't want to use Boundless Charge because I needed the focus). A boosted attack roll killed the Paingiver, and Beanpole wisely opted not to keep him alive with Makeda as he figured I could easily kill it with another attack, but the other Paingiver would be harder for me to kill. I tried a boosted Razor Wind but missed.
So now it all came down to my few remaining Nyss. The unengaged ones couldn't see because of the Bronzeback, so I started to spread them out to get them line of sight. However, this allowed the Bronzeback to counter-charge, killing one (I had dropped Iron Flesh to give Sorscha as much focus as possible) and engaging another. With only three Nyss left, I had no choice but to risk multiple free strikes with the two engaged models. Luckily one was able to break free. I had two shots and they both needed to land... which they did, killing the last contesting model. I dominated for two points, bringing my up to the five needed to win.
We rolled a new scenario with two simple flags. This time I finally won the roll to go first, and I took it. Beanpole chose the side with the trenches.
Sorscha went directly behind my flag. The Spriggan was to her right. The Nyss and Alexia were in the center again.
Beanpole deployed a little to the left, closer to his flag.
I then advanced-deployed the Cutthroats in a line, ready to run in front of my flag. The Doomreavers then deployed on the far, far left; I was planning to use them to contest his flag one model at a time.
The Cutthroats ran forwards as planned. Sorscha followed, giving them Iron Flesh. Because of the wall I ended up moving the Spriggan over to the left. The Nyss and Risen moved up cautiously, and the Doom Reavers advanced a little but spread out as far as they could.
Beanpole moved his forces up.
I sent a Cutthroat towards the Bronzeback just to be annoying, while the advanced slightly and spread out, killing the Paingiver behind the trench. A Doomreaver charged a Paingiver, hoping to Berserk onto the Savage, but Makeda kept the Paingiver alive, halting the Berserk. A Thrall charged directly towards the Savage, doing a few boxes. Some Nyss moved up and put a 5-man CRA into the Paingiver that was in the trench, killing him easily. Sorscha based the flag, and the Spriggan joined her.
The Archidon and Bronzeback killed the two nearest Cutthroats and the Sentry killed the Doomreaver and Thrall. I scored my first point.
While the plan had been to play super-cagey, after how much trouble it had caused last game I decided that I had to take the chance to try to kill the Bronzeback. I dropped Iron Flesh, then the very first move was to engage the Bronzeback with Croe to make sure Counter-Charge wasn't going to foil my plans somehow. One Cutthroat engaged the Gladiator, one charged alongside Croe, and the rest just wandered around aimlessly. Croe and his buddy failed to put any damage on the beast before the Spriggan went in with four focus and Boundless Charge. Unfortunately the Titan survived with four damage boxes. A Thrallpedo took out three more, but now I had nothing left to try to knock off the last box.
I had made a mistake last turn and put a Nyss Hunter in front of the Spriggan, meaning I had to activate them before the Spriggan could charge. This left a big hole that I feared the Archidon could possibly use to reach Sorscha, so I moved Alexia to block and hoped that would be enough. Another Doomreaver was fed to the Sentry and I scored another point.
So here's where things got... interesting. The Bronzeback had been left with one Fury on it because I had killed the two Paingivers who might have been able to whip it off. Rolling 11 on the frenzy check, it immediately lashed out against Croe. However, because of it's crippled aspects, it missed the attack. We checked the rules here and it seems that a frenzy is an activation, meaning it was then frozen due to Sorscha's bond. However, frenzies happen before shaking, so he was able to immediately shake the effect.
Now Beanpole needed to kill two Cutthroats in order to clear a charge lane to the Spriggan if he wanted to be able to Enrage the Gladiator, but he needed to do it without blocking charge lanes himself. Makeda was able to kill one and sprint back, while the Mortithurge used Ancilliary Attack on the (now healed) Bronzeback to kill the other.
Finally the Gladiator, enraged and with the Bronzeback's animus, charged the Spriggan... and promptly rolled snake-eyes on his attack dice. More poor rolls saw the Spriggan survive with all his systems. I didn't help that Beanpole had tried to kill another Cutthroat in order to create a landing zone for the Archidon so it could chip in, but missed that attack, then promptly rolled another snake eyes on his final attack roll, leaving it frozen.
The Archidon killed Croe and sprinted back a little. The Savage killed the Doomreaver in front of it, then the Gobbers put up a cloud to protect it from any more charges. I scored another point.
Sorscha feated, catching the three heavy warbeasts, and put Iron Flesh back on the Cutthroats, who put a respectable amount of damage on the Gladiator. The Spriggan then used Bulldoze to engage the Archidon before finishing off the two Titans; sadly several missed attacks meant that he didn't actually do anything to the Archidon. A couple of Nyss Hunters had a go, but had difficulty with it's high DEF, then a Thrall tried to charge in but couldn't make it through the gap. Meanwhile a Doomreaver charged the Krea and another just ran up to make a nuisance of itself, and the rest of my infantry moved over to better protect Sorscha. I scored my fourth point.
Makeda popped her feat and used Engine of Destruction to finish off the Spriggan. Thanks to the feat the Archidon was able to fly past my army without suffering any free strikes, allowing it to contest my flag and kill three Cutthroats with the free attack boosts. BUT THIS WAS ALL PART OF MY PLAN! This allowed me to swap Croe into Makeda's back arc! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA! Uh... ignore the maniacal laughter please. The Sentry killed another couple of Doomreavers and hid behind a cloud again.
I once dropped Iron Flesh and froze the Archidon with a boosted Freezing Grip, before putting my diabolical plan into action. Croe charged Makeda in the back! 5 damage dice baby! Except he wiffed his (effectively MAT 9) attack roll and did nothing. Meanwhile, another Cutthroat who obviously has his eye on Croe's position managed the hard 9 to hit and put six damage on her. Then Alexia killed the Archidon and I won.
The first game really came down to the wire! Despite gaining an early advantage by killing two of his beasts, I was surprised by the end to find myself left with just a few infantry models. That Bronzeback just wouldn't die, and it's ability to counter-charge was surprisingly useful just for re-positioning during my turn and screwing up my plans. Luckily for me the last few dice rolls came down in my favour, or else it would have been all over.
The second game was a lot more one-sided, which was partly down to the advantage going first gave me on that scenario and partly due to some terrible dice on Beanpole's side. When you think about it, the Bronzeback surviving then frenzying was the worst possible thing that could have happened: if it had died then he could have put the Archidon into the Spriggan, which would have been guaranteed to kill it. Of course if it hadn't frenzied then he would have been in a pretty advantageous position; killing just those two Paingivers just completely changed the outcome of the whole game. It really was an insanely lucky outcome for me.
I'm still very careless at times. What I realised this time was that I've gotten too used to not bothering to measure distances when it's dramatically obvious that an enemy is in my charge/shooting range, but this means I keep neglecting to check that I've made the minimum distance for a charge. If I was playing against myself I'd probably get pretty annoyed with me (if that makes sense). In my defense I'm already a really slow player, so it feels like speeding things up a bit where there's no cost (like not measuring things that you don't need to measure) sounds fair for these casual games, if only I could remember when it is and is not needed.
I guess I haven't been making the most of the Doomreavers, but they are doing well as an advanced-deployment jamming unit. Perhaps a cheaper unit would work too, but no-one wants to take a freestrike from a Doomreaver (plus of course they have Reach), which makes them better at holding the enemy off with just one or two models. Perhaps I would be able to make better use of them offensively if I used the fearless Risen to screen them? Might be something to consider in the right scenario.
I'm wondering if I spent Alexia too early in the first game. I should have paid more attention to how many Risen she had left, maybe even tried to do some quick maths to figure out her odds of actually taking down the Bronzeback before committing. The thing is though that I had counted on the Croes helping out a bit, but that was before I realised that the Bronzeback had Hyper-Agressive. Seriously, that guy has so many rules and movement tricks for a non-character model! Also I had been expecting to kill the two light beasts earlier, which would have allowed me to bring more force to bear on the Bronzeback even if she failed.
I might have been too cagey with Sorscha; I almost moved her too far from the enemy zone in the first game (although technically I still could have gone further with Boundless Charge, I just didn't want to spend the focus). It's partly because I can't seem to keep track of what a Skorne beast's threat range is; between multiple different sources of movement buffs (including Beat-Back) and different speeds and melee ranges, I tend to just give up and assume that they can reach me wherever I am.
I'm not sure, but I feel as if the Archidon could have reached Sorscha the turn that I sent the Spriggan in, at least if he'd given it Beat-Back and feated; he probably would have had to position Makeda a little far forwards to keep it in her control range though, but I suspect it would have been do-able. Even taking into account Alexia's ability to sac Risen to cost him an extra attack or two, I think it was his best shot of winning that game - OK, things would have been different if he had managed to kill the Spriggan before losing the Titans, but I still would have had enough infantry to hold him off for a bit, and Sorscha still had her feat at that point, so... I dunno.