I don't get to play Khador a whole lot unfortunately so when the opportunity arose today to face Butcher3 in the hands of a very capable player I was very eager to play a game. Previously I have never had problems with the Butcher apart from when I mess up. Would this be different? Read on!
:: Lists ::
Major Victoria Haley - WJ: +5Opponent:
- 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
Kommander Zoktavir, The Butcher Unleashed - WJ: +4
- War Argus
- War Dog
- Conquest - PC: 19
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution - PC: 3
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan - PC: 2
Ogrun Bokur - PC: 3
Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor - PC: 2
Saxon Orrik - PC: 2
Kayazy Eliminators - Leader & Grunt: 3
Greylord Ternion - Leader & 2 Grunts: 4
Widowmakers - Leader & 3 Grunts: 4
Alexia Ciannor & the Risen - Alexia & 9 Risen Grunts: 5
- Thrall Warrior - PC: 0
Greygore Boomhowler & Co. - Boomhowler and 5 Grunts: 6
:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::
A Conquest is an interesting choice with Butcher because I couldn't immediately see how I would handle it. Normal setups with heavy jacks are trivial to deal with but I knew at once that a huge base model is something else entirely.
The scenario was Outflank and I went first. The basic game plan was to out-attrition Khador and basically force him to commit to unfavourable trades by having scenario angles, strategic depth and holding my feat. I deployed ATGM on my expected weak flank and B13th + Haley on my expected strong flank. The rest went in-between and Eiryss went on the assumed strong flank. Khador put Boomies and Alexia1 opposite ATGM and Widowmakers + Eliminators across Haley.
:: Game ::
The idea was to use Thorn + B13th + Eiryss to take control on the right flank and ATGM to push-back and threaten the left with A+H and Gastone in reserve in the middle. Haley put up Decel (for Widowmakers) and charged towards the Conquest. Stormwall ran up 14" and Thorn followed suit.
Widowmakers take 2 boxes off of Thorn. Butcher advances behind the Conquest and I learn why the Ternion is in his list as they cloud up the dogs. Wow. Ok, so clouds -and- a huge base. True, I can remove the clouds but to do so means killing DEF14 ARM14 8 box things which also provide B3 with Vengeance if they die. Did I mention they had concealment?
Given his "weakish" presence on the right side and Madelyn being so aggressive I decided to make a play for scenario: By threatening both zones I could possibly score 1 or 2 points by controlling T3 and then feat to 3-0 T4. I started clearing stuff out with B13th with Deadeye and Eiryss but I couldn't get as many as I wanted as I rolled poorly. Boomies made a lot of tough rolls, including mr Boomy himself who passed 2. Not an ideal position from which to continue with my plan if Khador played it correctly -but- it could have been worse I suppose. Going up against high defense on one flank and tough on the other isn't exactly a sure thing, either. At least Madelyn died (boosted Arcane Bolt).
Alexia1 flexes her muscles: The dead Boomies provide souls with which to summon stuff. Said summons run up next to Eiryss and Conquest follows up with a boosted shot to kill her. Ok, that complicates things. However in doing this the Conquest isn't in the left zone and I see that my intended opening is still very much alive.
So the idea is to Time Bomb Butcher with Thorn, reaction drive back, arcane bolt the guy on the hill and have the B13th clear up the rest of the zone. This all goes well until Ryan and Lynch decide not to hit more than 1 guy, leaving 2 alive. Bleh. On the left zone I struggle with Boomies as ridiculous amounts of tough rolls are made. In the end, there is one guy left who blocks me from scoring a point. Not what I wanted.
I lose Ryan to a Widowmaker and Lynch fails his CMD test. ATGM are jammed somewhat, Eiryss runs up to block focus allocation on Stormwall and Thorn is charged by dogs + Eliminator, losing 10 boxes.
At this point I really don't know what to do. I see no angles apart from playing the clock. It's a complex game for sure and we've both spent tons of time. I contemplate feating but end up not doing it: If I can force some hard decisions then I can probably win by feating next turn and locking him down.
So the idea is to put as much damage on the Conquest as possible. I also want to ensure that he can't get a scenario angle. I thus Time Bomb Butcher again (who is seen by Thorn), TK Thorn out and move him as far away as I can while keeping in Haley's control area. The Stormwall without allocation wants to force Butcher out if he wants to do anything fancy to spend his focus. ATGM take out Eiryss with Arcane Inferno (first time I've used that order!), Aiyana kisses the Conquest and I follow up with shooting apart one of its sides, 30-35 boxes or so in total (Stormwall hit it twice).
Butcher goes for the opening! This is very interesting as it's an undamaged Stormwall -with- Arcane Shield. He puts 3 focus on the Conquest which pummels me at dice damage for quite a few boxes. Alexia1 follows up after having gotten pathfinder from Saxon and this allows Butcher to go in and finish the job, although he's camping only 2 focus...
Given my perceived desperate position from earlier I could not have asked for more. It's worth noting that despite the game not evolving as I'd hoped for, I haven't lost *that* much punch. Butcher with 2 focus should be doable.
Because of Orin being in the middle of things I have to take him out first. ATGM get the job and he's taken out. The rest Arcane Inferno (look, it's there again!!) on Butcher but it's shield guarded as he knows the TK is incoming.
I can't afford to miss kiss so Haley moves first. I forget Reinholdt for Lucky charm. I look for an opening to kill the Eliminator jamming lynch but I cannot both do that -and- ensure I get in range to TK Butcher. I opt for the latter because -2 DEF can be huge here. So Time Bomb boosted does nothing but at least I hit him and follow up with TK around. I shoot but miss with snake eyes. Aiyana + Holt follow up with kiss + some boxes, Gastone boosts 2 POW14s with aim for some more boxes. Junior aims and fires, boosting damage. He then throws arcane bolt but in the end Butcher has 3 boxes left. Lynch tries to escape but a free strike spells his doom and I have nothing left. As Haley is in the middle of nowhere with no focus the game is over and I concede.
:: Evaluation ::
Very interesting game! I really enjoyed it: Lots of new things to deal with, ranging from Conquest to Ternion. We both made a lot of mistakes, ranging from strategical (such as ATGM role) to technical (like activating Reinholdt before Haley...) and although I felt the game was turning against me it wasn't -that- bad. In fact I probably could've created a mess by feating before the Stormwall died. In doing so and casting Temporal on the Stormwall I could've taken out the Conquest's right side, forcing him to hit me with his crippled side. If the Butcher goes for the Stormwall he is super exposed. Anyway!
Let's start at the beginning. Lining up ATGM against Boomies and Alexia1 is an absolutely -terrible- idea in a war of attrition when there are so many tricks going on on the opposite flank. Basically the Boomies do not matter for attrition purposes. Covering Fire and pod/metal storm rapid fire should deal with them to the point where I don't need to worry anymore. Having ATGM with Deadeye on the right however would force some tough decisions on Khador because they can quickly create a scenario opening. The deployment itself was fine enough, I simply should've ran them over to the right side from get-go.
Losing Eiryss was due to never having seen the trick before. She should've camped behind the impassable and waited stuff out. This forces Butcher to be somewhat wary of TK angles midgame despite the clouded dogs (because the clouds disappear if they die). I also probably prioritized Madelyn too much, too early. It took 4 focus to take her out and this could easily have been well spent elsewhere, for example on Arcane Bolts to thin out the right flank. Madelyn has to keep being close to do damage and even a boosted blast from Time Bomb is risky for her to say the least.
I still think my T3 move to try and clear out at least one zone was the right thing to do. However I'm not sure the execution was the best one: I should probably have prioritized Deadeye over Arcane Bolt to ensure that Ryan and Lynch would actually hit their targets. I didn't realize how bad it would be if they didn't.
Finally, when this didn't pan out I considered trying to go for the right zone and feat regardless, but at 0 points this is futile because I have to score in -2- more turns to win on scenario. I should have feated out the Conquest though, much like I did to Issyria's Hyperion in a recent game. Although Eiryss blocked my focus allocation, kiss and temporal should've done the job. True, Butcher could've gone for me but that would be extremely risky without help from Alexia1 or the more focus efficient hits from the Conquest. Focus would have been a bit of an issue here as I would've wanted both Time Bomb and to keep Thorn alive (realistically he needed to TK + reaction drive out to get away and keep his arc node intact). However Time Bomb boosted (as Butcher had cover), TK and Temporal adds up to 10 focus points which is impossible without Lynus. I think the correct play given this situation is to forget Time Bomb and spend 5 focus on TK + Temporal, doing as much damage as possible with the rest (killing dogs is fine because Vengeance doesn't matter with Conquest blocking Butcher out).
In the end though I wasn't the only one making mistakes. I calculated my assassination chance on Butcher and it was roughly a coin toss, which is fitting given the close game. This Khador list was full of tricks and surprises, which is unusual in my experience, and it creates a hyper complex game with too many angles to consider on both sides. Mistakes are inevitable but I learned a lot and I'm confident my list has the tools to deal with it. I'll be back for Zoktavir later!