søndag 22. november 2015

Battle Report #9 - Haley2 vs Krueger2 (50)

:: Prologue ::

Circle is one of the factions in the game that I find most challenging and rewarding to play against. Tons of tricks on both sides ensures that you get a tight game with lots of openings and frequent mistakes.

What I've learned from playing Circle is that most of the time it boils down to Cygnar playing for scenario. To do this effectively you have to control the pace of the game, which in turn means securing board control. My aim for this game was to do exactly that: Slow down Circle by establishing flank control and slowly chip away at his army from the sides while I end up ahead on scenario.

:: Lists ::

Major Victoria Haley - WJ: +5
- Squire
- Stormwall - PC: 19
- Lightning Pod
- Thorn - PC: 8
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution - PC: 3
Alexia2 - PC: 4
Black 13th Gun Mage Strike Team - Lynch, Ryan & Watts: 4
Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 6
- Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer - Officer 2
Tactical Arcanist Corp - Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Krueger the Stormlord - WB: +5
- Druid Wilder
- Ghetorix - PC: 11
- Gorax - PC: 4
- Warpwolf Stalker - PC: 10
Una the Falconer - PC: 3
- Rotterhorn Griffon - PC: 3
- Rotterhorn Griffon - PC: 3
Blackclad Wayfarer - PC: 2
Blackclad Wayfarer - PC: 2
Gallows Grove - PC: 1
Druids of Orboros - Leader & 5 Grunts: 7
Shifting Stones - Leader & 2 Grunts: 2
Tharn Bloodweavers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

We were playing Two Fronts and we both had Fuel Cache. An interesting setup since it allows the heavy hitters on both sides to really punch home hard. Anyway, I won the roll-off for T1 and deployed sort of similar to what I did vs Cryx in my last game: ATGM swarming around the Stormwall dead center, Thorn + Alexia on my "weak" flank and TAC + B13th next to Haley on my strong flank. All in all my deployment was tight. Circle responded by a similarly tight deployment. The lack of UA on the Druids meant they had to take up space in the normal zone and they got a dead center location, very tightly packed together.

:: Game ::

T1: I am 31" away from his deployment zone. His heavy hitters charge 11" with Hunter's Mark, have reach and Telekinesis basically available. That's a threat range of 15". With the Stormwall being able to run 14", I'm still safe. Stormwall runs up, Thorn runs up, Alexia run up and they all benefit from elevation. ATGM spread out heavily, Haley moves up behind her objective and casts Deceleration. Perhaps a bit over-cautious, TK-ing to get another 2" would probably have been better. B13th run wide and TAC... Well, I don't know if 8" can be called running but they do their best. Poor dwarfs.

Circle shifts a bit towards the right side of the map and keep most things on the hill. Krueger is very close to the Druids so that Storm Wall is hard for me to judge precisely (i.e. getting ATGM within range of Druids and outside of Krueger's control area). Overall though it's a defensive T1 from Circle.

Having last game's poor T2 overall planning and pre-mature feat fresh in mind, I quickly realize that there's no need for me to feat here. What I need to do is to establish the control I was talking about in the prologue to get a scenario lead. I can't put pressure on him at this point in time because it doesn't serve my overall goal of going for the scenario. Simply put, it's too risky.

What I do instead then is to Deadye the ATGM, put up Deceleration again and try and chip away Druids. I have 3 in range but with their elevation I need 9s to hit and only 1 druid goes down. Ryan Mage Storms just because clouds are always good to have and I put down some covering fire just to give Circle something to think about (I doubt they'll matter much). Notice how I pull my Stormwall back just to make it impossible for Circle to reach him and thus keep his power until I need it.

Circle reponds by clearing out the right zone. The ATGM there were a little tight so Acceleration-charging the pod allowed the TK'd Rotterhorn to kill off 2 gun mages (last dude was lucky to survive). I had dealt a lot of damage to it in the last turn so it was a fair trade but the lesson to be learned is that said Rotterhorn has a pretty big threat range and it doesn't need to be forced to take advantage of Acceleration.

Now this on the other hand is a good opportunity to feat. I can catch his entire army and the Stormwall can go in, take out the objective + Rotterhorn and threaten both Krueger and the beatsticks in my next turn. This puts me at 2-1 with a solid grip on the scenario-game and I'm not even sure Circle has anything that can contest. Alexia runs up to get some souls but I forget to Deadeye ATGM so they miss out and she only grabs 1 from the poor guy contesting my zone. I camp 3 focus with Haley which is a complete waste: I should either have deadeyed or cast deceleration. Furthermore I make a mistake by not putting Alexia behind the fence. Anyway, the rest goes well and I'm at 2-1 with Circle having quite a few issues to figure out.

Notice Eiryss in the lower-right corner. She camped those woods the entire game and her shots count!
Stones activated and lo and behold: They were just in range to be able to contest. It was literally down to millimetres. Ok, that's a bummer for me but not impossible to handle. One stone also blocked the Stormwall. Krueger feated but he got greedy and started shooting Alexia. With somewhat poor dice, he couldn't kill her -and- he was left with too little fury to both TK away from the Stormwall and cast Storm Wall. He decided to cast Storm Wall, camping only a single Fury...

Ok, so this is a pretty good spot for Assassination: Put 4 focus on the Stormwall, Temporal Acceleration, hit Krueger with 3 boosted to hit rolls and boost damage for one of them. Dice +5 should be plenty. The problem is that I'm hitting on 9s. Having all 3 attacks hit then is actually unlikely. With only 2 attacks hitting, he can transfer damage from one of them and the other is unlikely to kill him outright. Basically, it's just too dicey and with the Stone blocking me from getting 3 points in his turn, I think it's game over for me if Krueger survives because in return he'll kill the Stormwall easily and I won't get to 5 points.

What I do instead is to slow the game down again. Establish control, back off, keep a tight position and let the scenario points do their job. I ran basically everything backwards on the flanks and kept my center defensive.

Alexia was placed next to Thorn to prevent Force Bolts from taking him away. Guess what I forgot? Negating force bolts on Thorn. The Druids pulled him out significantly which allowed the Warpwolf to kill him off. The right zone was cleared out and it was thus 3-2.

I didn't want to commit the Stormwall yet unless I had to because it would be too exposed and I still had 2 points to grab. I reckoned I had enough ranged firepower to deal with the Stalker without charging in. I put 2 focus on the Stormwall to shoot it if needed and started with ATGM who blast down some Druids. One died to the Free Strike of the Stalker but this meant it was no longer engaged. Haley Time Bombed it and rolled a lot of damage. Dwarfs followed with a fire bomb and Junior put a boosted round in it. B13th finished the job with Brutals which left the Stormwall to deal with stones. The Blackclad was also taken out by ATGM (I had Eiryss ready to shoot him as well, she killed another guy instead).


Circle has to jam my zone heavily. With Thorn gone I am lacking a lot of flexibility but then again: Last turn I had to spend my magic on taking out the Stalker which was in range anyway and this time around he had to move so close so that Haley could target him anyway. As such, the loss was less significant than I'd feared.

So Circle jams up the zone by running in with a couple of beasts and the tree.

Haley puts 4 focus on the Stormwall. I TK Ghetorix with his back towards my Stormwall, shoot the grove to death. The remaining ATGM Thunderbolts out Gorax and my opponent concedes with B13th, Junior, Alexia and TAC remaining to kill Ghetorix in addition to the Stormwall which is sitting on full focus.

Victory to the Swans!

:: Evaluation ::

Game plan was executed well. A few mistakes here and there but overall I'm happy with how I played. I managed to control both flanks and continuously chip away at the Circle forces. I got off to a slow start with regards to the Druids, which was largely because I packed my models too tight behind my objective. Getting Haley, TAC and ATGM all in optimal positions was something I didn't spend enough time to think about and they ended up jamming eachother up a bit. Add to that a couple of 9+ rolls that easily could've hit instead of missed and the start would've been better. Anyway, the lesson to remember from this is that Haley's immediate vicinity can often be jammed up and I have to think a turn ahead to properly set up lanes etc. 

I wonder how getting the first turn affects this matchup. I was able to push up heavily and take control of large parts of the table but I was also unable to score points after my 2nd turn (had to wait until my third). I have found a deployment pattern I think works really well when I go first, now I need to work on the deployment + early game when I go last. 

Haley2 vs Krueger2 is a matchup I'm fairly comfortable with now. I believe Haley in general holds a slight edge because her feat + Stormwall combined are more flexible than Krueger's feat + beatsticks combined. Furthermore I often experience winning the flanks, which allows me to set up a crescent shaped battle line. This is vital for multiple reasons: Krueger typically is at the center and with my models threatening him from so many angles (in this game B13th on one extreme flank and Eiryss on the other) it's nearly impossible for Storm Wall to provide full effect. Furthermore if he wants to push out and take control of one of these areas he has to commit a significant amount of forces to do so and in addition to that he'll frequently experience those elements being isolated and in turn taken out. The Warpwolf and Druids taking out Thorn is a fairly good example. Lastly the crescent shape allows me to contest easily and cheaply. 

One thing I managed this game was to keep Junior in some really sweet positions: I shot with his hand cannon 3 or 4 times I believe, which is almost unheard of for him. All of these positions were safe so I didn't risk anything by doing so, but an extra POW12 boosted is of course important. 

Lastly, I must remember Arcane Vortex. His Druids would've felt pretty stupid by moving up and accomplishing nothing.

EDIT: See this link for an indepth evaluation of a possible assassination angle T4. 

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