mandag 14. desember 2015

Battle Report #34 - Stryker1 vs Vayl1 (50)

:: Prologue ::

I expect games vs Legion to be short, thus I was hoping for 2 games today. No such luck however as Stryker1 and Vayl1 came to blows in a game where our clocks were both down to single digit minutes. The introduction of Vayl1/Lylyth2 ADR is pretty crazy and certainly helps Legion bring some really nasty stuff against Cygnar. Can Stryker the Patriot deal with this?

:: Lists ::

Commander Coleman Stryker - WJ: +6
- Squire
- Stormwall - PC: 19
- Lightning Pod
- Stormwall - PC: 19
- Lightning Pod
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Stormsmith Stormcaller - PC: 1
Stormsmith Stormcaller - PC: 1
Storm Lances - Leader & 4 Grunts: 11
Vayl, Disciple of Everblight - WB: +6
- Scythean - PC: 9
- Scythean - PC: 9
- Typhon - PC: 12
- Seraph - PC: 8
- Ravagore - PC: 10
Blighted Nyss Shepherd - PC: 1
Blighted Nyss Shepherd - PC: 1
Blackfrost Shard - Sevryn, Rhylyss, and Vysarr: 5
Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew - Leader & 1 Grunt: 1

:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

The big difference between Vayl1 and Vayl2 from my list's point of view is the lack of purification. I experienced only yesterday against the Protectorate of Menoth how devastating it is to be without Arcane Shield when it matters. As such, going into this I was expecting to slow-roll and hopefully get a scenario lead. I won the dice-off and chose sides, taking the one with a central hill. I deployed my Storm Lances defensively, intending to use them to sweep my zone T2.

:: Game :: 

Legion advance immediately and Leash goes up on the Typhon.

This is a turn I want to discuss in some detail, though the majority of it will be under the evaluation. Just keep the picture of Legion T1 and this T1 in mind when reading that.

Ok so what I wanted to accomplish here was to start putting some hurt on the Legion beasts. My opponent had taken care not to maximise their advance so that I couldn't start shooting him straight away. That is, before you factor in Snipe (which it's practically impossible to defend against unless you want to give up the entire field). So I allocated 2 focus to the left Stormwall, intending to start with the Scytheans. The Ravagore was fairly far behind while Typhon's +2 DEF relative to the other heavies inherently makes it a less lucrative target. At least that's what I thought initially (again, see the evaluation). The problem with putting Snipe and Arcane Shield up T1 already though as well as giving the Stormwall focus is that there's not enough focus left to get up Blur on Stryker, a spell I initially thought would be a big deal here because of some of the crazier threat ranges his list has.

Anyway, the left Stormwall blew off ~15 boxes or so with 2 big gun hits. The Storm Lances kept their defensive position and Junior finished off with Arcane Shield to override Snipe.

My opponent felt the pressure from my big gun hits and, being player 1, he couldn't do anything to start scoring either. The big question then was what to do? On one side he could keep tanking hits and maybe allow me to score or he could go for a more drastic move and try to take the game right here and now. Being a Legion player he went for the latter, using Slipstream and Leash to move Typhon as far towards Stryker as possible. In the end he ended up just being in range and with the Ravagore's animus as well this could be nasty.

Cool Patriot Coleman Stryker weathered the storm quite well. By quite well, I mean he had 3 boxes left and was lit on fire. In my ensuing turn, the fire did not run out but my opponent rolled low. I was left on 1 box.

While surviving was of course beneficial, this turn of events meant that junior had to put Arcane on Stryker. If not, he'd be way too exposed. Stryker upkept Arcane on the right Stormwall and spent the remainder of his focus to heal up as much as possible. The right Stormwall charged Typhon for free because of Fuel Cache and nearly killed him. The Storm Lances finished the job as well as putting one into the Ravagore. The last Stormwall ran up to contest his zone. Suffice is to say even with my feat up this is kind of iffy seeing as he can boost his strength by 4 from the combined efforts of Kiss and Vayl.

I used my feat of course.

After deliberating what to do for a bit the choice ended up being going for the left Stormwall. The Ravagore killed off its engaged Storm Lance. The Seraph tried to put the hurt on another Storm Lance but fell just shy of its mark while charging. The Scytheans took out all boxes but 1 (dice -3 with 7 attacks each) and I was left with the right weapon system intact. Nothing else bothered to try getting the last box off the Stormwall so at least it contested. Still, losing all boxes but 1 on feat turn is usually a sign of "you're doing it wrong". Vayl feated and spent the effort drawing her army away from me - apart from the Seraph which was sent into Stryker's melee range to give me a headache to deal with.

3 focus on Stormwall, 3 on Stryker. The left Stormwall didn't have its cortex intact, a little fluke from the Scytheans and it would've been a real pain at this point in time. Alas it was not to be. Regardless, it had the right system intact and one of the Scytheans was heavily wounded from my T1 shooting. Furthermore I had 2 Storm Lances in range. The problem was doing all of this all the while the Seraph was being dealt with. I believe my remaining Stormwall could have engaged his Ravagore (with Stryker sat right behind this is quite easy to measure), indeed charging for free as well due to Fuel Cache. However I couldn't risk the Seraph running wild behind my lines, next to Stryker none the less! I contemplated casting Earthquake but ... serpentine. An elegant solution would be to Earthquake a Stormcaller (which I did vs Menoth yesterday even!). Anyway, the plan was to take out the wounded Scythean, have the Stormwall kill the Seraph and assault the Ravagore again with a Storm Lance.

So the left Stormwall fails its 5+ to hit the Scythean. The 2 Storm Lances assaulting it both missed their shots and rolled horribly for damage. Lastly the Ravagore took minimal damage and I just barely managed to kill off the Seraph. All in all this goes to show that when you are in a situation where you have to rely on even average dice it can quickly turn to shit.

Scytheans clear out their zone and the Ravagore kills the Storm Lance.

I try to kill off the Ravagore by trampling my way over there but I'm just outside of reach.

With 3 heavies left and all in range of the Stormwall, Arcane Shield will not be enough. However my opponent had 24 seconds left (I had 9 minutes) and thus I won by him clocking out. Deciding to go for and setting up Typhon's run towards Stryker T2 cost my opponent a lot of time and while I got headaches of my own that cost me dearly as well I was never as short on time as he was. With more time he'd easily take this game, but there is something to be said about what got him here in the first place and that is the lack of experience and familiarity with the matchup, which is the very same reason why I didn't take care to position Stryker more defensively (or simply cast Blur). So, a win is a win, even if it's the clock...

Victory to the Swans!

:: Evaluation ::

While a game like this is interesting to see how bad things can get when they're not supposed to, it is inherently flawed because it is based on a premise that shouldn't happen. Let's take a look at how I ended up in such dire straits in the first place, because this is by far the most interesting part to consider in my opinion.

Often times when I find myself facing something new I struggle to have a complete overview of my opponent's threat projections. As such I often revert to instinctive behavior when it comes to caster protection in general and placement in particular. In this game then, instead of actually analyzing his various possible angles (this isn't Vayl2 after all) I sent Stryker up behind a Stormwall where I thought he'd struggle to get in range or even draw LoS. Leash + Slipstream and SPD6 combined with a template attack however disregards all of these issues. Indeed, placing Stryker a mere inch further behind would've kept him safe as Typhon was just barely in range. Casting Blur would've saved me the trouble completely as well, there's nothing in his list that can effectively deal with my upkeeps.

The problem then is the T1 shooting greed. There are multiple ways to assess the best course of action: While Typhon is a harder target it is also a more difficult target to deal with for me for example. The problem, regardless, is not prioritizing getting Blur up. I think Arcane Shield is needed on both 'walls because I need to be able to fill up both with 3 focus and have Arcane on both of them, which in turn means that Stryker can't rely on casting Arcane in the ensuing turn. That also dictates my activation order, which I'm not a fan of.

The solution is to cast Snipe on one 'wall, Blur on Stryker himself and Arcane Shield on the second 'wall. Pulling a focus off of the Squire is optional but probably worth it to boost that one damage roll. Putting the pressure on Legion has a lot of positive effects and most of the time the early turns will shape the game so much that even an average +3.5boxes can be worth it.

Apart from this I felt the game largely played itself. Based on the Scytheans taking the Stormwall down with their combined strength despite Invincibility yet again highlights the importance of Arcane Shield - and the struggle for those that cannot effectively deal with it. Assuming the Stormwalls are in a danger hot spot, Arcane Shield is an absolute priority. If the left Stormwall had Arcane Shield up in this case then the Scytheans would be dice -6 during feat which is something else entirely.

Evaluation TL;DR - Analyze threat projects towards caster and take appropriate defensive measures. Don't go by instinct but actually consciously go through the various possible angles to him. Furthermore, Arcane Shield is the virtue by which this list lives and dies. 

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