søndag 17. januar 2016

Norwegian Masters 2016 Game 5: Caine2 vs Rahn

:: Prologue ::

After 4 games, day 1 was over. When day 2 started, I thought we were 4 undefeated players of which 2 played Retribution. It turned out we were only 3 because one Retribution player lost his last game the day before. Regardless, I drew Retribution again and this time I was yet again up versus Rahn/Issyria ADR. I put out Caine and was surprised to get Rahn in return. How would this go? Read on to find out how the closest game of the tournament and the craziest game of Warmahordes I've had thus far unfolded!

:: Lists ::

Captain Allister Caine - WJ: +5 (Effigy of Valor)
- Squire
- Ace - PC: 7 (bonded)
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire - PC: 4
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution - PC: 3
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator - PC: 1
Stormsmith Stormcaller - PC: 1
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt - Lady Aiyanna & Master Holt: 4
Tactical Arcanist Corps - Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Greygore Boomhowler & Co. - Boomhowler and 9 Grunts: 9
Rangers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
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
Adeptis Rahn - WJ: +6
- Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker
- Chimera - PC: 6
House Shyeel Magister - PC: 2
Fane Knight Skeryth Issyen - PC: 5
Houseguard Halberdiers - Leader & 9 Grunts: 7
- Halberdier Officer & Standard - PC: 2
House Shyeel Battle Mages - Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
Stormfall Archers - Leader & 3 Grunts: 5
Mage Hunter Strike Force - Leader & 9 Grunts: 8
- Strike Force Commander - Commander 2
Mage Hunter Strike Force - Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
- Eiryss, Mage Hunter Commander - PC: 3
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt - Lady Aiyanna & Master Holt: 4

:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

We were playing Recon and unfortunately I lost the roll-off: Retribution took T1. The good news was that I got a solid hill on my side which allows Caine to get a truly terrifiying position. I put Caine out skewed right, ATGM center, Boomies left and Alexia + B13th on the right flank. Retribution AD-ed the Eiryss3 MHSF centrally and the other unit to the left.

 :: Game ::

Everything runs and the left-most Strike Force received Polarity Shield.

I put a focus on Ace, Magic Bullet as well, Blur on myself and move up behind clouds. Ace hits this time (I sacrificed a ranger just to make sure) and takes out 3 MHSF with trick shot + magic bullet, one of which was Eiryss. Boomies and ATGM took a defensive position because I saw no reason to push them up, yet. Too much damage, I need to draw him closer.

Skeryth is TK'd and charges Ace. He rolls miserably and I lose nothing of value. Chimera runs up and Rhan force hammers Alexia into Ryan, who dies. Alexia loses a few boxes. MHSF try for Boomies but only get 1 due to 4+ tough rolls.

I pretty much have him where I want him, but there's one big problem and that's Skeryth. I have nothing that can effectively deal with him. By effectively I mean putting in an "appropriate amount of models" to deal with what's essentially a 5-point solo having spent its one trick. The problem is that if I don't deal with it, Skeryth will become an increasingly bigger pain. There is one solution and that solution is Caine. Caine gets reload but to deal with Skeryth which has both cover and is engaged I need to aim to reliably take him out. I really wanted Caine a further 5" ahead or so to threaten Rahn in particular and the board in general but no such luck then. The worst part is that Skeryth doesn't even die when Caine's all spent. Watts finish him off. A + H kiss and focus on Halberdiers alongside the rest of my models on the right flank but without Caine it's kind of hard. I don't take out enough to keep Alexia safe and it's now down to dice whether she'll make an impact or not.

To make matters even worse I completely fluff on the left side of the table as well. I miss a ton of shots with Rangers + ATGM on MHSF despite the +2 bonus. This is not looking good.

Rahn feats and the spells being thrown around deal massive damage. Halberdiers mini-feat and I'm lucky to have Alexia survive on 2 boxes. I've lost a lot though and Caine -really- has to start doing useful stuff if I am to have any chance in this game.

I did consider going for Rahn here. He measured control almost exactly towards Caine and it was very close to being within 22" or not (I made a mental note of where his 16" ended and measured 6" to it from Caine before I started my turn). As he had moved to 2-0 I had to take back the table. I decided not to go for assassination. Instead I moved Caine over to Ace's wreck marker (see the proxy base which I had used for Caine basically all game) and starting shooting Halberdiers which were kissed. Alexia helped out with 3 Thralls and toed the zone in a TAC cloud to gain another 3 souls. Boomies ran into the zone to prevent him from scoring further. Eiryss kept disrupting the Chimera which gave me some relief from Rahn.

In return he put the Chimera behind his Effigy, shot out all (!) TAC with MHSF, took out Thralls and a couple of other minor "details".

The game was opening up and as I got rid of the Halberdiers I was starting to see an opening again. I sent Alexia into the trench, summoned 3 Thralls and kept shooting left, right and center with Caine. Eiryss missed Chimera because of the cover bonus. Oh darn.

Wasting no time in taking the opportunity, the Chimera walked into the trench and Alexia was finally killed by Rahn. MHSF took out a couple of my remaining models and it was now rather lonely for Caine. He went up to 3 points here since the only model I had in the zone at this point in time was Caine.

So my idea this turn was to feat, kill Chimera (which had lost 9 boxes), kill the objective (which had lost 11 boxes) and cast True Shot to hurt whatever MHSF I could. I aimed because my position was perfect, elevation, cover, zone. In-between crappy rolls, including snake eyes to hit and nothing above 4 for damage, I spent every last focus I had barring 1 on taking out the Chimera and the objective. No true shot, no MHSF damage dealt. At least I scored 3 points.

Now, at this point in time we had played a -lot- of turns. I had 10 minutes left on my clock, he had 3-4. Because of this I stopped taking pictures. What happened next was that he moved the MHSF into the zone (all of them), 2 of which took cover in the trench on top of the Chimera remains. They killed off Reinholdt and junior but failed to nail the Squire.

When he clocked me over he had 1 minute and 7 seconds left. Compared to that, my 10 minutes was a year. My problem was that I didn't have true shot and without focus to pull off the squire or Reinholdt to reload me that would be a tough thing to get around. Now, I only had Eiryss2 and the Squire on a couple of boxes left. I didn't know how I were supposed to keep one of them alive to prevent him from scoring the zone one final time (Rahn had walked up to the fence). The remaining Boomie was too far away. Caine had 2 options: Try and shoot as many MHSF as I could (and somehow survive Rahn) or kill as many as I could down to 3 focus and gate crash to the flag. Because of Rahn's threat (move Aiyana up, force hammer her into caine, mhsf assassinate me for example) I chose the latter. I took out quite a few models with Caine before I gatecrashed out.

This picture was taken by the tournament organizer and shows the middle of my last turn. The yellow proxy base marks Caine's starting point and this picture is taken right before he starts shooting up MHSF and gatecrashes out to the flag. 

He charged the Squire with MHSF and combined with everyone. The poor thing died. Aiyana ran to contest my flag Eiryss, in the other corner of the zone, was then charged by a Rahn who TK-ed himself and finished the game with a force blast, pushing me out of the zone and giving him his last point with 30 seconds left on the clock.

So close.

:: Evaluation ::

What a game. What. A. Game. When we were done he had 5 MHSF, Ayiana and Rahn left. I had Caine, Eiryss2 and a Boomie. 10 models on the table. It was complete carnage and 5-4 on scenario to boot. While the game was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I couldn't help feel that I should've won. So where did I go wrong?

It all boils down to a T1 decision when I didn't move Ace further away from Skeryth. I could have moved him out to the right (I infiltrated anyway) and still accomplished what I needed him to. Having Ace in a safer spot here would've helped me more with the game. Skeryth was a problem largely because he accomplished so much with a simple charge. Had he jammed a Ranger I would've simply walked him out and died to a free strike after which he'd be on DEF17 which is more than manageable for Caine, enabling me to focus on Halberdiers as well. In a game of attrition like this, these things trickle down in the following turns and cause big effects. In this particular game, losing Ace and dedicating a turn to taking down Skeryth with Caine + Watts meant I spent longer to clear the middle, which in turn meant that Caine could never start working on the MHSF which was the unit that eventually tipped the scales in his favour (by first taking out Reinholdt + Junior and then the Squire).

Let's look at a couple of other, crucial moments in this game: The Boomies moving after the MHSF to jam them prevented me from properly jamming the zone T3. It's true that he has a lot of AoE damage and with Kiss their armour drops so low that even blast damage is scary. Perhaps cluttering them together would've allowed me to prevent him from scoring then, perhaps not. It's impossible to say. It is a mistake though to take them that far out left, I have no doubt about the fact that they should've been positioned more centrally.

In the same turn in which the Boomies did this, my Rangers and ATGM rolled quite poorly for MHSF, needing 6s and 5s respectively to hi. I missed on at least 5 shots of the 9 or 10 I had available and with 3-4 more hits here the MHSF would've been seriously reduced. Again, this trickles down with devastating effects.

Lastly, if I had 2 focus left on my feat turn instead of 1 I could've cast True Shot. In this case I could've aimed and picked out MHSF left, right and center towards the end. In that scenario Caine has cover, thus DEF21, and there are few/no models left to follow up even if Rahn can get off a force hammer combo on him.

A truly great game! I'll keep practicing and improve my Caine game. Hopefully next time I'll make Retribution suffer.

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