søndag 15. januar 2017

Internal Affairs Mk. VII Game 1 (#396): Stryker3 vs Vlad2

:: Prologue ::

New year, new events! Norwegian Masters is coming up in two weeks, so as a warm-up we held a club tournament yesterday. Way back in July/August I accepted a challenge to bring Stryker3 to NM. I've not gotten quite as many games with him as I should have, but I have found a list which I believe at the very least plays to his strengths.

The first game of the tournament was against a Vlad2/Irusk2 pairing. My own pairing was Stryker3/Nemo3, with the latter taking the Storm Division theme force. I'm confident Nemo's solid into these casters, but I want to drop Stryker as soon as possible to avoid being list-locked. After all, this Khador pairing is far from the worst he could face. We were also playing The Pit and I find that Stryker can often force the issue from a scenario point of view with his dudes spamming the table. The Pit is an excellent situation for this so I took the risk early on and went from there.

:: Lists ::

(Stryker 3) Lord General Coleman Stryker [+28]
 - Thorn [13]
 - Gallant [17]
 - Squire [5]
Storm Lances (max) [20]
Storm Lances (min) [12]
Trencher Infantry (max) [16]
Trencher Infantry (max) [16]
Archduke Alain Runewood, Lord of Fharin [4]
(Vladimir 2) Vladimir Tzepesci, The Dark Champion [+27]
 - Conquest [37]
Iron Fang Uhlans (min) [12]
Iron Fang Uhlans (min) [12]
Winter Guard Rifle Corps (max) [13]
 - Winter Guard Rocketeer (3) [6]
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich [4]
Man-O-War Drakhun [9]
Man-O-War Drakhun [9]

:: Pre-Battle Thoughts & Deployment ::

Receiving Vlad2 in return was no surprise. I got to start the game and Stryker had a fairly solid position to take the flag from, receiving cover from a nearby rock. I wanted to keep Khador from trying to strong-arm me away from the flag so I deployed big Lances and both jacks on my left flank. This worked well as the rifles went behind Vlad's own flag in a fairly defensive position.

:: Game ::

Alain gives big Lances pathfinder. They run up as far as they can get. I want to discourage the Khadorans there from pushing hard against my flag. The rest advance somewhat more cautiously. I ran Trenchers to get a few models far up.

Conquest gets a lucky scatter and kills a few Trenchers. That's the price you pay for not digging in but I think it could be worse. There are still plenty to go around! The rest of Khador's movements are defensive.

Seeing as I started the game I have to bide my time now and simply wait until scoring starts. I initially plan for a somewhat aggressive smoke-wall but then I remember Wind Blast (luckily!). I cancel my plans and decide to dig in a ton instead, use clouds sparsely so that Wind Blast will be hard to get a lot of value out of and position just about my entire army in position to counter-charge any would-be contest models. I also Chain Blast a couple of Rifles. Beauty of having Thorn and Squire!

Vlad2 feats! He gets it on the max amount of models and the cavalry move in. A few Trenchers die, but the Conquest misses. It's go time!

The Conquest is in a terrible position: It does not contest, yet it's within Gallant's threat range. I decide to upkeep Iron Aggresion on Gallant since I need Fury on Trenchers to clear cav. Getting Gallant into Conquest relies on Stryker killing an Uhlan. He fails to do so and I abort the plan after giving it some consideration. My goal here is to win on scenario. Given that I can wipe out the central zone, the biggest threat to my game plan is not the Conquest but the Drakhun on the left flank. I send 3 Trenchers into him but somehow they manage to only de-horse him. Oh well, that's a start!

The center is cleared up easily. My feat is amazing here and I chew through Vlad's feated models as if they were butter.

2-1. Bring it.

It turns out that the Conquest is very, very close to being within range of Gallant. We have to find some precision measuring tools etc, however in the process of measuring this I nudge Gallant. My mistake, I take the consequences and let him have the charge. PS23 is a ton and Gallant goes down. Nevertheless my opponent found no way to contest me so I move to 3CP.

If I can clear out the zone it's game over. I load up Thorn on full focus and upkeep fury. Trenchers begin with a charge on the Conquest. Not a single soul rolls above average dice. Ok. The Lance unit with 2 boys left charges in. Again dice aren't great. I activate Stryker, put Fury on the 3 Lances and boost a shot on Conquest. Little damage. The Lances charge in but it's still not enough. Because of this Thorn has to clean-up duty and he kills the 2 remaining Uhlan to again prevent contests. The Conquest is so thoroughly jammed up now that it's not going to be able to contest. 4-1.

Do you know what's awesome with a colossal that's jammed? Sweep! The Conquest kills a ton of my models and from an attrition point of view this is horrible. However this is all about scenario now and the only thing Khador can run in to contest is the de-horsed Drakhun on the left flank. He does do so, but will he prevail?

The Conquest's right side weapon system is destroyed so I exit my models on this side, making free strikes rather bad. This lets me get a ton of damage onto the Drakhun and he dies before Stryker even gets to activate.

Victory to the Swans!

:: Evaluation ::

A very interesting and tense first game! Stryker pulled through, how can that be? This Vlad2 list is terrifying, yet he was unable to bring its strengths to bear on me.

I think the reason is a phenomenon I like to call "playing on autopilot". In The Pit, many players default to sending their caster towards the flag with deterrent units nearby. Ironically this is exactly what I did. However, I made a conscious decision to play on scenario here because I don't think I can out-attrition Vlad2 with Wind Blast and all his shooting.

What Vlad instead should have done in my opinion was to send Vlad on the left flank (with the idea being to camp behind the house) together with all the Rifles and some of the cav. The Conquest would be left as a deterrent for Vlad's own flag to prevent me from scoring here and the cav would threaten the center. The thing is that Rifles with Joe and Hand of Fate will destroy basically anything I have. That is a problem, but only if you can make their presence felt. In this game they ended up not being able to do so. Indeed even the early chain blast killing a couple really helped.

A great start to the tournament, Stryker's outside of the list-lock danger zone and I am 1-0.

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