Alexia & the Risen
Beanpole was running a list that seemed rather unfocussed to me, but it did have two of the things that scare me most in Skorne: Tiberion and Ashes to Ashes.
-Reptile hound (3)
Paingiver beast handlers
Two neutral zones. I won the roll and chose to go first. I randomly chose to put Sorscha on my left. The Decimator went in the middle so he could threaten either zone. Alexia was in the center for corpse collection, the Nyss went on the right, where they could potentially abuse the forest.
Beanpole put the reptile hounds on my left, while Tibbers and the Savage went on the right.
In my advanced deployment phase, I put the Doomreavers on my right; not only were they facing his harder targets, he couldn't target them with Ashes to Ashes, hopefully minimizing the threat of his arc node Savage. The Cutthroats then took the other side - I spread them out in the hope that would limit the number that could be killed by Ashes.
Beanpole put Orrick a little ahead of his Nihilators.
I advanced and spread out my forces. Iron Flesh went on the Cutthroats. One if the ideas I'd had before for dealing with Ashes to Ashes was to pad the front line with Risen to absorb the hits, but I'd forgotten about that and left all my Risen far in the rear. So instead I created a Thrall and ran him up. Which was stupid because he presented a low DEF target that, unlike the rest of my front-line infantry, didn't have Spell Ward or Stealth. Sigh.
Beanpole put Ashen Veil on the Nihilators and arced Ashes through the Savage, easily hitting the Thrall. He rolled for the number of additional models, and got... a 1. To add insult to injury he failed to break armour on the Thrall itself. Final death toll: 1 Cutthroat. Who donated his corpse to Alexia. Well, at least Saxon came through, gunning down a Doomreaver.
I considered going for the big freeze this turn, but the Nihilators looked less threatening than the Savage at this point, so I decided to focus on gunning it down. Using 4 focus, the Decimator put some decent damage on the beast (maybe 10 points?), then I charged three Doomreavers into it. The first one finished the Savage off with his first attack. Unsatisfied, he turned and cut down the unit leader with his Berserk attack. Well, that's something I'm going to have to learn to deal with. The third Doomreaver swung on the nearby Nihilator but missed, in part due to Ashen Veil.
The Nyss walked up a bit and tried to the CRA the offending Nihilator, but then Beanpole reminded me that you can't CRA into melee. Someday, in the distant future, I might learn to remember that rule and stop basing my battle plans around illegal CRAs. Anyway, not wanting to kill my Doomreaver and with no other targets in range, they just stood there trying to look cool (they didn't fool anyone).
Sorcha, the Cutthroats, and a couple of Thralls killed a couple of Nihilators and put some damage on the dog.
The Nihilators, Reptile Hounds, Saxon, and Tibbers killed some Cutthroats and most of the Doomreavers. The last Doomreaver survived thanks to a Nihilator Berserking onto the unit leader, with the promoted leader being too far and leaving the last Nihilator out of command range before his attack. It was an unlucky order of activation. I believe Hexeris cast Ashes to Ashes again this turn, but rolled another 1 for the number of extra hits, killing a Thrall and a Cutthroat. At least he cleared a path for one Nihilator to charge Alexia, but it missed.
Sorscha toed the zone, froze the Nihilators (despite being at -4 to land it due to Ashen Veil; thanks Reinholdt!), then gunned three of them down. The Cutthroats tried to clear the zone, but couldn't finish off the last Hound. The Decimator tried to finish it off, but without focus for boosting I decided that aiming and hoping I was in range was better than moving and missing. He was a quarter of an inch out.
The last Doomreaver (would be a great name for a band) killed a Nihilator then Berserked onto Tiberion, doing respectable damage. A Thrall joined him, rolling pretty high as well, knocking out Tibber's body aspect. I think the Nyss had done some damage with a CRA first?
The Paingivers, Hound, Drake, and Tiberion killed some more models. Sadly the Drake's spray missed everything that wasn't a Risen. With the Doomreavers and their magical weapons gone, the Void Spirit ran out to engage my Nyss.
Tiberion looked like he might be in charge range of the Decimator, but I wasn't sure and I didn't want to risk it, so I put 4 focus on the Decimator and used it to one-round the Drake with crazy damage rolls from the Dozer, using Beat-Back to move a bit further away from Tibbers. I then filled the space between the two with Risen.
However, being a genius, I placed one Risen grunt within 2" of Tiberion. So when I tried to put a 9 man CRA into him, I couldn't because he was engaged. Every. Damned. Time. The Nyss were left with no choice but to stand around and continue pretending that "they meant to do that".
Sorscha and the Cutthroats once again failed to clear the zone.
Hexeris himself finally came out to play, charging the Nyss and hitting them with Ashes to Ashes. This time he rolled a more reasonable 4, killing half the unit. Tibbers and the Void Spirit killed a few more, leaving only two who were outside the zone. Luckily for me they passed their command check. The last Nihilator then cleaned up, taking out 4 Risen by himself. Beanpole scored 2 for dominating the zone. Saxon, now enjoying Ashen Veil,
The pressure was on now. Neither the Decimator nor Alexia could charge Tiberion due to the well, so instead I spent three focus shooting Tibbers in the back, doing decent damage and using the Bulldoze moves to reposition for a potential charge next turn. A newborn Thrall poked him for a few more, while a shamble of Risen (that is the correct term for a group of undead, right?) took out the last Nihilator. One Nyss aimed and shot down the Void Spirit, while the other positioned himself somewhere easy for Tibbers to kill, instead of forcing him to chose whether to go for the Nyss or the Thrall. Because I'm smart.
Meanwhile, the Cutthroats totally failed to do anything. Sorscha spent three focus on trying to put down Saxon, but left him on one box. At least the Thrall finally killed the last Reptile Hound.
Saxon killed a couple of Cutthroats. Hexeris walked up and Threshered 5 Risen in one go, while Tiberion killed the Thrall and Nyss hunter who were contesting. Tiberion and Hexeris both put up Bump, and Beanpole scored two more points. Well, at least my last Nyss passed his command check.
I needed to contest the right zone this turn. However, to contest with anything that had any chance of survival, I would need to kill Tiberion. Despite my chipping away at him all game, Beanpole had kept healing him with Paingivers and Hexeris passive battlegroup healing ability, meaning he still had maybe around half his health left (maybe a little less). Also he had Bump up. So Sorscha gave the Decimator 4 focus, walked over to catch Tiberion with her feat, cast Boundless Charge on the Decimator, and missed a shot at a Paingiver. The last Nyss charged Tiberion in the back, managing to land a single point of damage on him (which of course was doubled); this was enough to trigger Bump, meaning I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. Then Alexia went in. Thanks to the feat and decent damage rolls, she took the big guy down!
Sadly the Decimator wasn't going to be able to do much with his focus since I needed him to run or charge to get into the zone, and I couldn't reach Hexeris on account of having put my Risen in the way (probably a good thing as he had Bump on him, which might have pushed the Decimator out of the zone; I could probably have killed him if I'd planned it by positioning Risen to stop the push from Bump, but I didn't think that far ahead; last time Alexia went for Tiberion she'd done like 2 damage total). So instead the Decimator just killed a Paingiver.
The rest of the Cutthroats and the Thrall in my left zone all completely whiffed on Saxon again.
Hexeris cut for fury. I realised at this point that I had gotten too focused on getting into the zone and left Sorscha completely open and vulnerable on 0 camp. Apparently however Beanpole thought scoring the last point he needed to win in the left zone was the safer bet, so he charged the Thrall with Hexeris and cast Ashes to Ashes. He only rolled a two though, killing two Cutthroats and failing to break the Thrall's ARM. The charge attack finished off the Thrall, but this left Saxon with the job of killing Croe and Reinholdt.
Did you know Reinholdt has DEF 16? I don't think I ever noticed that before. Hexeris threw a boosted Black Spot at him to try to drop his DEF, but missed. Then Saxon sidled around Croe and... missed Reinholdt with both attacks. Ouch.
Even from behind, the Decimator and last Nyss Hunter missed their shots at Hexeris, so Sorscha went in and just managed to kill him with her last attack. Then everyone hoisted Reinholdt on their shoulders and carried him off the field in triumph as the crowd went wild.
OH MY GOD! Reinholdt won me the game! Reinholdt! How crazy is that? Well, to be fair, what really won me the game was Beanpole's abysmal dice. Seriously, he really should have won that, but his dice completely let him down with terrible Ashes rolls, I think he passed one Tough roll the whole game, and of course he completely whiffed on the plucky little gobber at the end. Meanwhile my damage rolls were pretty consistently great; the Decimator even one-rounded the Drake with his gun! Hell, my Doomreavers hit so hard they killed the Savage too quickly and had to turn on each other.
I feel as if Beanpole should have killed the Thrall first then cast Ashes into a Cutthroat in his final push, but I guess he was afraid of missing (kinda understandable given his dice) and decided to play it safe by targeting the DEF 11 Thrall with the backstrike bonus. Well, I guess if he realized Reinholdt's DEF was as high as Sorscha's (higher with the hill), he probably would have just gone for her instead; pretty sure that would have won him the game.
I'm kinda sad I missed the opportunity to put the Decimator into Hexeris, but I didn't even consider Alexia finishing off Tibbers on her own, and just didn't plan that far ahead. Plus of course I just left Sorscha open there too. I feel like being able to see those opportunities without the kind of tunnel vision I get is the level of skill I'd like to learn. Something to think about.
Well, Saxon did good work that game. He pretty much killed at least one of my models every turn except the last. Since my infantry are mostly 1 point each, he paid for himself pretty quickly. Then he just stood there and tanked everything I could get to him. I need to get me one of those!
I really did not get much done with the Nyss this game. I had been saving them for contesting and late-game stabbing, there wasn't much infantry on that side for them to shoot at and I kept losing out on chances to CRA. I probably should have spread them out farther through the zone, but I think I was subconsciously keeping them back out of fear of Ashes.
Going in, I had wanted to focus on playing a "sharper" game than usual; I need to start remembering to check charge distances and so on. I think I did better than I have been recently. I still made plenty of mistakes, but they were more "honest" ones (poor target priority, playing too defensively at times, that sort of thing), rather than being down to carelessness or forgetting rules. Well, except for my continual attempts to shoot into melee that is.
So did the Decimator work out as well as/better than the Spriggan? Well, having Reinholdt WON ME THE DAMNED GAME, so there is that. If I had the Spriggan I probably would have commit him to combat sooner, which may have worked out to my advantage in this game as Tiberion was about the only thing that could take down jack by that point, but I'm not really sure. On the flip side, the temptation to pour focus into the Decimator's gun did limit Sorscha's own actions at times, which might have contributed to my inability to clear her zone. I suppose more playtesting is needed.
*Said to be what Napoleon asked of his new generals.