mandag 28. mars 2016

Battle at Lund: Swedish Masters #4 (#124): Haley2 vs Grissel1

:: Prologue ::

For my forth game I met my first non-Swede of the day: Robin from Germany with Trollbloods. Going from Legion to Trollbloods felt great, I believe they are one of Cygnar's best - if not the very best - matchup. However, round 4 of a tournament like this typically sees some very tough opponents on the other side of the table. Robin indeed fit the bill! Let's get to the game:

:: 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
Gastone Crosse - PC: 3
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator - PC: 1
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt - Lady Aiyana & Master Holt: 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
Grissel Bloodsong, Fell Caller - WB: +5
- Mulg the Ancient - PC: 12
- Earthborn Dire Troll - PC: 10
- Pyre Troll - PC: 5
- Storm Troll - PC: 5
Janissa Stonetide - PC: 3
Horthol, Long Rider Hero - PC: 5
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes - Leader & 3 Grunts: 3
- Stone Scribe Elder - Elder 1
Northkin Fire Eaters - Leader, Grunt, and Pyg Buddy: 4
Northkin Fire Eaters - Leader, Grunt, and Pyg Buddy: 4
Dhunian Knot - Leader & 2 Grunts: 3

:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

I'm not sure what his second list was, if memory serves it was Madrak2. Regardless I am dropping Haley2 into this all day, every day because she deals with Trolls exceptionally well in my experience.

The scenario was Incoming and the Trolls took the initiative. Often I'd be happy with this with Haley2 as it means an early lead on scenario but with this list I'd rather go first because my game plan here is to win on attrition by shooting him down, one model at a time. He deployed fairly symmetrically and I dropped ATGM across his zone with Haley nearby for a feigned turn 2 push and Thorn + B13th on my right.

Robin wanted to get in on the picture and this smile perfectly reflects his attitude and the atmosphere in the game. A perfect sportsman!

:: Game ::

So the Trolls move out, Grissel puts up Hallowed Avenger on the Earthborn and the Northkin fan out.

I measure with Haley and guesstimate that Gastone is just within range of the left-most Northkin. He goes for it but is just out of range. Having cast Moving Shadows he's a little exposed. Eiryss moves up on the flank, DEF16 is good, right? On the right side the B13th take cover behind the fence with A+H nearby. ATGM fan out defensively as I'm wary of sprays. The Stormwall tries to put some boxes on Mulg but with sub-par rolls it's quite irrelevant.

Robin is more than happy to show me the error of my ways and I get to see some Trollblood tricks I've never seen before. Puppet Master goes up on multiple Northkin. He starts spraying himself and I'm all "wtf" until the second unit activates and assault Eiryss + Gastone with boosted attack -and- damage rolls. I lose both. Oh-oh. It's not much better on the right side as Horthol runs up only to have the Storm Troll shoot him in the back, arc and kill Watts + Lynch.

So here I am trying to shoot Troll and I lost 4 key models top of 2. I knew this was going to be a challenge.

Ok, so now I know for a fact what all his tricks are and I can plan accordingly. This is not going to be a blitz game where I can out-scenario him, unless he makes a big mistake. Instead I will try and force him to commit to the right flank and use my speed + control to slowly get ahead. To do this the left flank needs to clear. First of all I need to buy time so I feat. Stormwall tries to pound Mulg but again I roll miserably. On the right side I take down Horthol with A+H, junior and Ryan. ATGM move up to threaten a thunderbolt-assisted zone control next turn.

Robin is content to keep his position in his own zone so Janissa simply puts up her wall again.

It's time to shift right and try and score on the left. An ATGM model is charged following Hallowed Avenger I believe. I use the rest of the ATGM to start pushing stuff out of the zone, including the Earthborn. Unfortunately I can't hit Mulg (of all things) and he ends up contesting. Haley Time Bombs a central model, hitting Mulg and moves back behind my objective. Stormwall moves to my zone and kills the Storm Troll with the help of A+H and Ryan.

The Trolls realize it's time to start pushing up. The central impassable piece of terrain is a bit of a pain. Following my Thunderbolt bonanza last turn the Earthborn is knocked down. He shakes it and moves over to start pounding the Stormwall. However he ends up in such a position so that the impassable gets between part of our bases, meaning he's -2 to hit. Robin rolls horribly and misses on something crazy like 3 or 4 attacks and the net result is ~10 boxes I believe. Mulg runs up to engage me.

So I have to do a lot of work: I have to keep both the heavies at bay, keep contesting the left (preferably for 2 turns if possible), score in the right and establish control on the right flank. Stormwall is assigned 2 focus and I activate it first. It uses its focus to Power Strike (boost to hit) the Earthborn, sending it in Mulg's direction. It stops just shy of Mulg, killing my ATGM officer. Haley Time Bombs the Earthborn and Thorn's reaction drive takes him into melee with Mulg. I then TK Mulg back. Haley then charges Holt who has moved 11.5" away and I get in my zone to score a point. Thorn activates and moves to safety and ATGM start harassing things again.

The last remaining Northkin assaults the Stormwall in an attempt to set Haley on fire. After all he has a backstrike bonus. It's a really close call considering he has to clear the piece of impassable terrain and a judge has to make the call. It goes in my favor: The ruling is that the template does not touch Haley. Robin's a great sport about it. Mulg and the Earthborn move towards my zone and Janissa + Grissel with Puppetmaster clear out the ATGM in the zone. I am contested by Krielstones. 1-1.

Thorn moves up towards the Earthborn. The Stormwall kills the Northkin and puts a pod next to Mulg. Haley activates, TKs the Earthborn towards Mulg and Time Bombs the pod. Thorn reaction drives to safety. ATGM move to contest. A+H and Ryan clear out Krielstones. 2-1.

Grissel + Janissa take out the last gun mages. Earthborn runs towards my objective whereas Mulg runs on the opposite side of the impassable to prevent another Time Bomb keeping them both at bay. The Puppetmaster unit moves to contest me.

Ryan Black Pennies the contesting Puppet Master guy and kills him. Second shot goes into Pyre Troll who is then taken out by Aiyana and Holt. Stormwall kills the Earthborn with 4 focus. Thorn moves up and Haley Time Bombs Mulg. A pod contests, 3-2 to me.

After this we are both really short on time so I have to stop taking pictures. This game has turned into an epic one and I know I'm up if I just play it right. For the first time I had to target Mulg directly with Time Bomb so he got +2 SPD. He uses this to run into my zone and engages the Stormwall. He kills the pod easily and it's 3-3. To get Mulg out of the zone reliably I have to throw him on a pod or something and in doing so I'm not sure I have what's needed to take out the objective to get to 5 points. Instead I take what I consider to be the safer approach: Kill Mulg. Krielstones are dead and there are no animii around to help him. I assign Thorn 1 focus and 4 to the Stormwall. Haley TKs Mulg around for lower defense in case the Stormwall wants to fluke. Aiyana moves B2B with Mulg and kisses him, after which the Stormwall easily kills him, hitting on 3s and doing dice +3 damage with 6 attacks.

Thorn runs into the enemy zone. I move to 4-3 and the only way my opponent can win is to kill Thorn and the objective while he contests me. This is theoretically impossible I believe so he goes for the objective instead to get a CP for tie breaker purposes. This means nothing contests my zone and I move to 5 control points.

Victory to the Swans!

:: Evaluation ::

Wow! What a game! Such a terrible start yet such a great comeback once I got things going. Obviously not knowing his tricks was huge. Losing Eiryss was a big blow as taking away the Earthborn ARM-animus on Mulg is big for offensive reasons if you play for attrition (which is what this list is supposed to do). Losing Gastone is big because I cannot keep pounding him with boosted POW12s and obviously losing Lynch and Watts makes it a lot harder to get through the light beasts and get to his Krielstone-boys. However the lesson has most certainly been learned: Northkin threaten longer than you think and with 2 units -and- puppetmaster assistance they can easily deal with high defense values and medium-to-high arm values. 

I used to play Haley2 mainly as a scenario-caster for a long time and that -really- helped out in this game because I had to switch once I lost my shooters. Knowing when to push, how to manipulate and getting those Time Bombs off is absolutely crucial and Mulg + Earthborn were useless for multiple turns in a row because of this. I also managed to use ATGM to contest and pick apart Northkin midgame, allowing me to pod even more models and partially weigh up for my dead shooters instead of having to use the pod to contest all the time (I also had to time bomb the pod now and then). Not scoring the first point post-feat was a bit of a bummer and I just had to take a deep breath and settle for the loooong game, which did indeed eventually pay off. 

The right flank was dealt with swiftly and effectively after Lynch and Watts died. Taking down Horthol was huge as it opened said flank up to me. Without any models to contest my ranged game there, Aiyana, Holt and Ryan proved absolutely devastating throughout the 7 or so rounds we played. 

This is the hardest game I've won in Warmahordes I believe. So many things to consider and such little room for error. Following technical errors in my previous games against Feora2 and Lylyth2 I executed this one near flawlessly from round 3 onwards. It feels good when everything comes together. 

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