tirsdag 9. februar 2016

Battle Report #86: Stryker2 vs Thagrosh1

:: Prologue ::

List changes and I'm good to go with Stryker2 again! Originally when I designed the Stryker2 list I imagined having 3 beatsticks would be important. Now, Rowdy has his weaknesses without a doubt, most notably his lack of reach and high cost, but he's still a nasty beatstick you have to account for. The idea was to have him in the second wave, post-feat. How would I fare playing without him? Read on!

:: Lists ::

Lord Commander Stryker - WJ: +6
- Squire
- Lancer - PC: 6
Archduke Alain Runewood, Lord of Fharin - PC: 3
Captain Arlan Strangewayes - PC: 2
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 3
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan - PC: 2
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator - PC: 1
Stormblade Infantry - Leader & 5 Grunts: 5
Sword Knights - Leader & 9 Grunts: 6
- Sword Knight Officer & Standard - PC: 2
- Stormclad - PC: 10
- Stormclad - PC: 10
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt - Lady Aiyana & Master Holt: 4
Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight - WB: +5
- Blightbringer - PC: 18
- Shredder - PC: 2
- Naga Nightlurker - PC: 5
Spell Martyrs - PC: 1
Blighted Nyss Shepherd - PC: 1
Feralgeist - PC: 1
Blighted Ogrun Warspears - Leader & 2 Grunts: 5
- Warspear Chieftan - PC: 2
Blighted Ogrun Warspears - Leader & 2 Grunts: 5
- Warspear Chieftan - PC: 2
Blighted Nyss Raptors - Leader & 4 Grunts: 10
Spawning Vessel - Vessel & 6 Grunts: 3

:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

We were playing Incursion and my opponent chose a side. I was left having to deal with an open middle and an obstruction blocking me. I chose to put the majority of my army down centrally with Aiyana + Holt and the Lancer on what I guessed would be my weak flank. He responded with the fast cav opposite these units and had the majority directly across from my center.

:: Game ::

The biggest threat range here is Blightbringer with SPD4 and 14" range for a total of 18". I ran stuff up with my foremost models being 12" from my deployment, thus outside of this (barring a scatter) and scattered the infantry out behind with the support even further back. Lancer and A+H took the hill on my right flank. Stryker received Arcane Shield.

Legion advances and keeps their distance. The left Stormclad is preyed by the left Warspears and the Stormblades are preyed by the other Warspears.

I'm at a loss for how to proceed. He has a lot of shooting that hurts very much and I can't make a push for attrition (too far away, even with feat) or scenario. I thus have to re-arrange the ranks, bide my time and hope I get an opening. I clump together 5 Sword Knights on the left of the forest, in that way I threaten all 3 flags if he leaves them too passively. I hope they're over 18" away from the Blightbringer. The Lancer camps the central flag, I cast Rebuke on the left Warspears but I forget to boost on the right ones (they were in a trench). More precisely I didn't realize they were in the trench. Oh well. A+H use stealth and a Stormclad moves right as well.

Unfortunately the Blightbringer is within 18" of the Sword Knights on the left flank and he kills them all. With them gone I can't realistically threaten the left flag. Truth be told they shouldn't have clumped together but scattered out with wide spacing. Anyway. On the right flank the Raptors target my infantry and kill a few before using their light cav move to take the nearby flag. The spawning vessel messes up as it tries for Aiyana but the warbeast cannot be forced and thus it's just all a big fail.

In the center the 2 Warspear units combine to take on the Lancer. I hoped DEF13 and Set Defense would be enough here given their RAT5, MAT7 and no buffs (prey were on other targets). They hit like gods though, only failing 2 rolls out of 7, bringing it down. Luckily the final charge didn't get them B2B with the flag so no points are scored there.

Well, I have to get a lot of work done now and I know it. Since I've already lost significant amounts of models I can't take on the Blightbringer: Thagrosh' feat ensures that if I do that I'll lose on attrition. Instead I'm hoping I can clear out middle + right and score 2, creating a fort Stryker on the Lancer Wreck Marker.

Runewood gives Stryker Path to Victory. Reinholdt gives him Lucky Charm. The Sword Knights get a Run/Charge order. The Officer charges the nearest Stormclad and deals 1 damage with Precision Strike to get in range to drive both. Stryker charges the nearby Warspears and gets off Positive Charge on both Stormclads. Junior boosts a shot on the Shredder, leaving it on 1 box. Aiyana + Holt go in, kiss the Raptors, finish Shredder in melee and shoot Raptors up a bit. Stormblades run up to give the driven Stormclads focus. The right one activates, moves over to the pod and starts hitting it. Pow21 is a thing! Electro Leaps also do damage to the Raptors because of Kiss. The last Stormclad charges into the middle and kills a Warspear or two.

I shuffle support and begin the feat moves. On the right flank the last attack clears out the 2 remaining Raptors and I am now in B2B with the objective and no-one is nearby. Stryker finishes the last Warspear near himself. Models nearby him are more than 2.5" away so Thagrosh can't teleport and kill me, the central Stormclad + Sword Knights hack apart more Warspears while also contesting the right flag and suddenly things don't look so grim any more.

Thagrosh moves behind the wall, afraid of Stryker's assassination run. Corbeau ran up offensively to force my opponent to care about her (realistically it was unlikely for me to use her at all basically because at this point in time I'm all about the scenario play). So anyway he clears out the middle a bit, leaving a couple of Sword Knights alive with Corbeau + Stormclad very dead. He contests right + middle and scores left. 2-3.

So my idea now is to clear out right completely and score right + center again. Arlan is out of useful things to do so he runs to contest the left flag. Stormblades clear out the 2 Warspears contesting. Alain kills the Shredder. That leaves no models contesting the middle flag. I run up the Stormclad which is then driven with Pronto to block the Blightbringer after Sword Knights charge in. Stryker moves outside of 9" from the Blightbringer, camping 7 focus + Arcane Shield right behind the wreck marker. I take the middle flag with Reinholdt and move to 4-3.

Given the state of the scenario there is nothing my opponent can do: He can't clear out all my contesting models in the middle -and- contest my right flag, which he would've needed to do to go to 5-4. As such his best case is 5-5 and even that is tricky because there are many contesting models in the middle fairly spread out. Besides, which model will even score for him?

What he is forced to do instead is to go for Stryker. It's an extreme longshot where I'm DEF16/ARM23 base and DEF20/ARM26 effectively against most of his threats. It boils down to Naga + Blight Bringer shots and a boosted Obliteration from Thagrosh and 2 shots from Warspears. When the dust settles there's unsurprisingly no damage done to mr. Patriot.

Victory to the Swans!

:: Evaluation ::

First things first: I really missed a third heavy hitter. Part of this is due to the second Stormclad going right, but then again nothing could've done what it did on my feat turn: Its damage output was absolutely essential in clearing this out. However I also really liked A+H as well, perhaps a solution can be to ditch Corbeau + Reinholdt + Lancer for Ol' Rowdy (or even Gallant!) again?

Finding the defensive balance with Stryker is hard. Having to upkeep Arcane Shield on him means my beatsticks go down unnecessarily fast. I'm contemplating trying to free up points for Gorman. Blind is also useful against a lot of arm-skew lists and he's quite strong against Fist of Halaak for example.

When I rushed forward T1 I didn't take the time to visualize what situation I'd be in and what I'd want to do from there -after- Legion had moved. That cost me dearly T2, both in terms of time (I spent 8 minutes thinking before I moved a single model) and in terms of potential lost. I wasted infantry both on the right flank to the Raptors and on the left flank to the Blightbringer. Some losses are unavoidable but I'm sure this could've been handled better. The thing is that while Sword Knights are cheap, they also really hurt when they get flank + positive charge. Keeping them alive until I can alpha is thus pretty important. Were it not for the model requirements I'd seriously consider doubling up on this unit.

I won this game because I saw an opening and managed to pull off an intricate plan involving tons of inter-tangled activations and setups on my feat turn. I'm positive that this is something I've learned from playing Haley2 (which always ends up in situations like this) and I'm glad I was able to utilize that knowledge with Stryker as well. I really love getting work done on his feat. I believe the key to making him works largely lies in setting up properly for the feat and using it to the best of its potential. Thus far I've improved a lot on when and how to use the feat and in the games to come I'll try and focus on setting up for it properly, which is very much about visualizing and preparing for what your opponent is going to do. I hate being outgunned but I'm sure there are ways around it. 

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