søndag 3. juli 2016

Battle Report #208: Sloan vs Caine2

:: Prologue ::

Mirror matchup time! Sloan vs Caine2 when Caine2 is running a Stormwall is something I've been hoping I get to try out sooner rather than later as I believe the Stormwall is Caine's best bet, battlegroup-wise. I ran the same list as yesterday.

:: Lists ::

Captain Kara Sloan - WJ: +28
- Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator - PC: 4
- Firefly - PC: 0
- Firefly - PC: 0
- Hunter - PC: 0
- Hunter - PC: 10
- Defender - PC: 16
- Defender - PC: 16
Alten Ashley - PC: 5
Storm Lances - Leader & 2 Grunts: 12
Storm Lances - Leader & 2 Grunts: 12
Captain Allister Caine - WJ: +27
-    Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator - PC: 4
-    Stormwall - PC: 12
-    Lightning Pod
Journeyman Warcaster - PC: 4
-    Charger - PC: 9
Captain Arlan Strangewayes - PC: 4
Lanyssa Ryssyl, Nyss Sorceress - PC: 3
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord - PC: 4
Ragman - PC: 4
Gobber Tinker - PC: 2
Rangers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 9
Storm Lances - Leader & 4 Grunts: 20

:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

The worst thing for a shooty list is to be outgunned. The second worst thing for a shooty list is to be pushed back, unable to deal enough damage in time. My fear going up against Caine2 and Stormwall was that I'd be facing the second: The ARM22-monster preventing me from getting up the field. Caine goes first and I deploy as symmetrically as possible, but with the Fireflies opposite a piece of obstruction so that I can threaten e-leap shenanigans for Caine2.

:: Game :: 

Caine runs up. Rangers are a bit aggressive but I'm not sure I can afford to punish them. The Lances on the left take care to stay outside of Defender threat ranges. Rhupert gives the Lances Dirge of Mists and Caine casts Bullet Dodger on himself.

What to do? Well, the problem with Bullet Dodger on Caine is that he can frankly just stay out in the open with Dirge from Rhupert and I'll be hard pressed to do much at all. Without power attacks available that can reliably knock him down (the best I can do is try and angle a slam which is dicey at best), Sloan herself is down to 50/50 on her feat shot (and way worse otherwise) with the rest of the list basically being worse and way worse. When he can move in addition it's just super, super dicey. At the same time I probably have to feat to clear out stuff in his T2 so yeah.

What I want to accomplish in T1 then is to set up for my T2 as best as I can. This involves getting some damage on the Stormwall (which I'm hoping to kill T3), killing the central Lance and start working on the Rangers, which I aim (no pun intended) to have dead by the end of my T2. I also want to threaten "Fort Caine". The left Lances move out to get angles inwards (no Pathfinder means the linear obstruction there is a bit of a pain), the Fireflies both move out to the left, Sloan takes care to stay outside of 19" from Caine2 (she pops Fire Group and kills 2 Rangers), the Defender nearby her misses a shot on the Lance in the center and is also outside of 19" while the last Defender moves within 19" but is outside of 4" from Sloan. Together with the Hunters it targets the Stormwall and I do a grand total of something like 6 or 7 boxes.

Not quite the start I'd had hoped for.

My opponent is eager to start neutralizing my shooters. The Rangers spread out with 1 moving in to provide the +2 RAT bonus. Caine2 decides to move out with concealment from the objective's cloud (honestly Fuel Cache is pretty retarded) and stay on DEF21. In my opinion this is a bit of an unnecessary move because I didn't do enough T1 but ok. One of the Hunters loses its long arm to Caine and the Defender suffers 10 boxes or so from the Stormwall. Caine is left on 1 focus.

With 1 Hunter already having lost its shooting weapon and a Defender likely to go down soon-ish, I decide it's better to simply try for Caine2 than try to play this as a game of attrition, doubly so because his Stormwall can probably clear out my zone next turn and start pressuring me on scenario as well.

The idea is to run up a Firefly to get within 5" of Caine (4" was impossible), Press Forward with the Lances (the closest running to within 4" of Caine and the others assaulting it) and have the second Firefly shoot the Lance. Sloan would then feat and I'd get 2 more Firefly bounces. If he was still alive by then I was hoping Sloan's RAT10 feat shot would be enough.

The Lances both missed (!) their brother. The Firefly bounce dealt 8 damage, so 3 boxes after Caine's 1 focus camp was gone. That left 12 boxes, which is more or less 50-50 as I'll get 2 shots on dice minus 1 before we look at Sloan. The Hunter with the crippled long arm killed the Ranger on the hill in melee so that the Defenders could move up: I wanted as many chances as possible in case Sloan missed. They killed the objective and the last Hunter ran up to get the best possible angle for Caine2 for my feat.

Sloan feated and I never got to shoot with anything but the Fireflies as the electro-leaps took him out.

Victory to the Swans!

:: Evaluation ::

The Caine2 Stormwall combination might not look that much different from Titan Sentries, Mercenary Galleon with Fail Safe or whatever, but against Sloan it really is a completely different deal. The thing is that the Stormwall does so much more work early on. Sure the Galleon drag is scary but it's RNG10 and one model. The Stormwall quite reliably kills 1-2 Storm Lances with a threat range of 19" or it can seriously put the hurt on my jacks. The added threat range and power means it's that much more dangerous. Furthermore Caine2 does a lot of work at a distance himself as well, which cannot be said for MacBain or Skorne casters. What I'm faced with then is a list that shoots back and slowly whittles me down and/or takes a big lead in scenario. 

In terms of actually killing the Stormwall my shooty jacks are at dice minus 7. That means that a "pair" deals 7 damage per turn, assuming all shots hit. Sloan adds another 8 so if I can dedicate all my serious firepower to it we're looking at 22 boxes per turn, which means it's highly unlikely I'll kill it in 2 turns even with Sloan's feat shot. It's close but I'm looking at spikes to make it happen. It also means committing Ashley to keep the Tinker from repairing it. If I go all in it could also be disastrous because of how Caine can set up for retaliation (the most dangerous part quite obviously being Sloan herself going down). If you compare this to the Galleon with Fail Safe every single shot deals 1 more box, which really does add up. In 2 turns that's 12 more boxes, which is the difference between "probably does not go down" and "probably -does- go down", especially factoring in Sloan's feat shots. A big part of the problem here is obviously the fact that my Storm Lances can't zone it properly. If they could have done so the math is different but anywhere I put them to zone the Stormwall is a place where Caine can threaten them. 

In my first turn this game I could have gone for all the Rangers. The problem is that I have 6 shots and there are 6 Rangers so a single miss means they still live. With 3 of them having concealment that's unlikely. I think I made the right call going for the Stormwall. The problem was obviously how hard he hurt me in return. If I had tried another round at the Stormwall I would probably have lost another light and a heavy and at that point in time killing the Stormwall at all becomes dicey. 

I really have a lot of respect for the Caine2 Stormwall approach. Caine2 was one of my favourite casters in Mk. 2 and the main reason I haven't played him a whole lot in Mk. 3 is that Sloan just looks so incredibly strong (and feels that way too!). Immediately after today's civil war I started dojoing Caine2 again and perhaps I'll field him again before long.

EDIT: It was brought to my attention by an observant reader that assaulting friendly models is illegal in Mk. 3. I know well that Haley's charge-TK shenanigans are illegal for example but for some reason it didn't cross my mind that this also goes for assaulting lightning immune models (e.g. lightning pod) to get a threat range extender. Of course it does and my Lances thus performed an illegal move. Luckily it didn't impact the game as they both missed anyway and I would've ran them up to get a model within 4" of Caine regardless. 

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