Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Church League Round 2

With EvilFuzzyDoom

These posts document the NEW CHURCH LEAGUE (named after our regular gaming venue, affectionately nicknamed "the Church"). The NCL has ten participants, and will take place over nine two-week, Round Robin rounds with elimination finals for the top four players. Each player picks two casters for the duration of the League, unless they only own one caster, in which case they can pick their second caster at some point before the 5th Round. The match-ups, scenarios and any special rules are posted at the outset. Scenarios are from the PP Official Steamroller 2011 Rules. We should be wrapping by about mid-march.

My Warlocks for the League are pMadrak & pGrissel.

Round Two of the New Church League

This round took place between 5 and 18 November.

For the Second round, we are playing Close Quarters, one caster, 15 points, Mangled Metal/Tooth & Claw (Armies may not include any solos or units).


I'm playing against a good friend of mine who runs 'Jack-heavy Khador anyway, so I'm expecting something of an uphill battle. It's a safe bet I'll be facing Harkevich, who has some tanky tricks up his sleeve but is the master of barrage fire, so I need something that will survive at least one round of shooting. I play it safe, and bring my brutal 15-pointer of choice:

Chief Madrak Ironhide (*6pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)

As expected, (and who could blame him?!) my opponent goes with Harkevitch. What I don't realise is that he can actually run T2, which he promptly does. I have a feeling that the Tier bonuses will balance the fact that he's playing a point down:

Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf (*5pts)
* Black Ivan (10pts)
* Demolisher (9pts)

Battle Report:

I won the roll-off barely, which really set the tone for the night. Lots of really, really close moments which just happened to all fall my way. Both of us brought our A-lists, which set up a pretty epic battle (and it was, don't get me wrong); I'm not sure either of us brought our A-game though. We came out of it a little frustrated and probably not particularly satisfied with the ending. But Battle report first, angsty Debrief later.

I took second deployment, hoping to use the extra 2" deployment to my advantage. Khador Deployed in a lump facing his objective, and I set up in a line at the very front of my deployment zone. Khador put up Escort on Harkevich & Fortune on Black Ivan with his Tier bonus, then lumbered up. I popped Surefoot on Madrak, deliberately failed a charge, then riled & ran Mulg & Mauler to sit in front of him. This put me about 9" from Khador.

Khador had his massive barrage fire turn. Black Ivan's first shot hurt Maddy with blast damage, which I used to trigger Protective Fit and try a charge. I didn't quite reach, even with +2 SPD from getting hurt. Then Khador used his feat and shot Mulg lots. Then there were some charges; but Mulg survived, taking almost no damage to his Spirit track but lots to Body & Mind.

I decided I'd take out Black Ivan. I realised I'd screwed up a little when I missed a Rathrok throw and Black Ivan hopped out of combat with Mulg. Mauler didn't have a proper charge lane on Ivan due to a forest being in the way, so I figured I wouldn't get my axe-to-face off properly. I switched gears to the Demolisher, popping a Regeneration, shuffling around to the side and trying my luck at a 1-hand throw. It worked, and he deviated into the Mauler's charge arcs. Sweet! The Mauler charged the knocked-down Demolisher, got off a 2-handed throw for his Chain Attack and lobbed the Demolisher a whole 0.5" at Black Ivan. The turn ended with Mulg just outside of my Objective, but I looked like I was in a good spot to finish off the Demolisher before Mulg keeled over.

Mulg living wasn't so much the issue, when Harkevich cast Energizer (well played, sir!) and stood up both Jacks. The Demolisher sidled around my Mauler, bringing the pain somewhat. Black Ivan charged Madrak, doing quite a lot of damage but not enough that I felt the need to transfer or use my Scroll. This of course brought Mulg in with another trigger for Protective Fit, which did some hefty damage. I was happy to have healed his body track the turn before!

Between Madrak, Mulg and the Mauler, I almost destroyed Black Ivan. My last damage roll with Mulg was two points short. There may have been a little weeping! I left both beasts with 4 Fury, and 1 Fury on Madrak.

Khador then went for the grand finale. By this point we'd somehow gathered a handful of spectators, both of us were pretty tense and I think I may have shouted at someone. Too many backseat wargamers had me on edge. Khador Walked the Demolisher around my Mauler (taking a reasonable but not disabling amount of damage) to hit Madrak. Madrak was on 2 hit points, one Fury and still had the Scroll. Harkevich tried to get into melee but found the same problem I did last round; the gap between my Mauler and the Demolisher must have been half a millimetre too small to fit through. It wasn't my proudest moment, but I did point that out by trying to slide him through the gap and bumping both 50mm models out of the way.

He surprised me by hitting the Mauler with the Minister, using Beat Back (well played again, sir!) to put himself in the new gap and engage Madrak. Boosted attack no 1 hit, and got transferred to Mulg, leaving him alive. Boosted attack no 2 hit, and got scrolled. Boosted attack no 3 hit, and got transferred... no wait. What? In all the action, I'd forgotten to remove the fury when I transferred the first time. Then people started talking and I got confused, trying to claim that I hadn't used the scroll. Then we established that this was not possible, since there had been three hits on Madrak and I'd used up all my aces. My opponent offered his hand while one opponent asked "How did you ignore that last hit?" Knowing I'd probably lost, but wanting to go through the motions, I replied "I rolled Tough" and threw the die across the table. I rolled a 5 and we all sort of winced. I'd upkept Surefoot so he wasn't going down, although Karkevich had managed a crit with the Minister robbing me of my initial attack.

Then I turned Harkevich into red paste with the 10 or so Fury I could run up between Mauler and Madrak. I took my fourth victory with Trolls and my 2 league points for the caster kill. We packed up and left promptly, spending the drive back to my place discussing how weird the game was, and the spoilers for Domination.


So yes. Weirdly intense game with an awful lot of endgame. The first half was made of distraction, the second half was made of interjection. I think it took an hour and a half to play five rounds with only six models on the table. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it because so much of it came down to the dice, which were consistently close but in my favour. From the starting roll to the 1-hand throw Mulg pulled off (both of us rolled a 5; Mulg had one extra STR), to my one and only Tough roll, the dice gods decided they'd mess with my head but keep with it in the end. My opponent was not favoured, not failing any crucial rolls, just not pulling off anything spectacular. I really think we both brought our best, which meant that it really did come down to those rolls.

That being said, there were a few things I'm glad I did right. I put some thought into my deployment and could have easily lost on the first turn if I'd done something stupid like deploy Madrak behind my beasts. Activating him first, dropping my all-game Upkeep and then failing a charge so I could run Mulg & the Mauler in front of him was the first really good decision I made.

I learned only recently that I can spend Warlock Fury to heal beasts (facepalm!), which came in super-handy through the game. Between healing and regeneration, I re-opened about five damage tracks between my beasts. Only once did I have to make an attack without all the dice available to me, and that was a Mulg Frenzy charge against Black Ivan on the last turn I think. This was a very, very important thing for me to learn and is probably the reason I wasn't turned into blue jelly on Turn 3 or so.

I did run my beasts fairly hot, which is different for me. I reckon I made more Frenzy checks (two or three?) this game than I have in the last three or four months. At one point I had four Fury on both Mulg & the Mauler, but this wasn't a problem in the end because I set it up so that if Mulg had finished Black Ivan, I would have left Fury on the Mauler to hit the Demolisher if he Frenzied.

My second caster-kill victory puts me on 4 League points at the end of the first round.

Next round, I am facing Cygnar (Sloan or Constance Blaize), playing Capture the Flag, one caster, 15 points, Highlander. Any advice on facing this lot would be really appreciated, since I've never played against either!Army Selection for Round 3:

Capture the Flag is another potential "ships in the night" scenario. Unlike Close Quarters though, each player's objective is just outside the opponent's deployment zone and slightly offset. I have really got no expectations for what I'm going up against this time; I've played against Cyngar before but not this player and certainly not against Sloan or Blaize. The Highlander format is throwing off my selection a bit, too.

So, I think I'll go with something I'm either familiar with or which will be simple fun. Although I've picked a few things up recently, I'm not sure that now is the best time to try and learn how to use them!

List one is made of nails; hard to damage and not fun to tread on.
Chief Madrak Ironhide (*6pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 2 Grunts) (6pts)
* Skaldi Bonehammer (3pts)
Trollkin Champion Hero (3pts)

The Mauler is always reliable and Madrak has served me well, and the champions... well, they're exactly the right amount of points to fill out the list. They're also very surviveable which has already served me well once against Cygnar - and when they arrive, they mit like Mack trucks. Mack trucks with two Mat 9 P+S 11 attacks, a Thresher attack and Skaldi, all of which I can buff fairly easily with Rage.

List two is a bit more complicated.
Grissel Bloodsong (*5pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)

It's missing the direct buffs which fill out the Madrak list, but it has Calamity and Heroic Ballad, and Cacophony can only be beneficial when facing spell-heavy Warcasters. It's also got a fair bit of speed; between the Fenns, Hoof It and Transmute, it would not be a big ask to get most of my force up to my target flag and fight on my terms.

Of course, I've just finished putting together some Kriel Warriors and I'll need them for the Tiers-only round later...

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