Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cloudy with a chance of DEATH!

Hey, you try coming up with pithy post titles OK? Anyway, I played a 25 point game the other day against a new player. I think this was about his third game. He's playing with a friend's army, who put together a list for him:
High Reclaimer
-Dervish (funny guy)
Choir of Menoth
Daughters of the Flame
Exemplar Bastions
Darton Vilmon
3 Wracks

I threw together a Strakhov list on the spot. I was trying to use as many of my actual painted models as possible. Turns out I can't use all my painted models at the same time as the Wardog and Sylyss are mutually exclusive.
The Hoff
Alexia and the Risen
Koldun Lord
Kell Bailoch

I think this is the most painted models I've ever put on the table at one time before!

I went first. He chose the side with the forests (that's a forest in the center of the field). I put Strakhov in the middle, the Risen on my right, and the Dwarves - with their greater mobility (never thought I'd say that) - opposite the house as I figured they could hide behind it then flank around. Kell also lined up with the house. He deployed centrally, with the Wracks spread out a little and the Sisters leaning towards the Risen.

Turn 1:
I put Superiority on the Berseker and Sentry on Strakhov himself. Everything ran forwards.

He advanced and threw out a bunch of clouds. Strakhov missed his Sentry shot at a Sister.

Turn 2:
Strakhov laughs at your clouds! Strak walked up, missed two gun shots at the Sisters, then cast a Rift. It missed but the scatter was very fortunate and it killed three Sisters, allowing Strakhov to Overrun to safety. The Risen charged the Sisters and managed to kill one. The Blasters advanced, with one walking into a cloud and blasting the Bastions for reasonable damage, also killing a Choir member. The Berserker hid behind the Blaster.

His Basitons charged the Blaster and Berserker, killing the former and damaging the latter, which the Reckoner then finished off (with two focus to spare). The Sisters ignored the Risen and went right for Alexia, doing enough damage to wipe out the Risen and leave her with a single damage box. Finally he threw up some more clouds to protect his models.

Turn 3:
Alexia stepped away from one of the Daughters, dying to a freestrike, leaving one newly-minted Risen in one of the Sister's back arcs. He failed to kill her. Strakhov then killed the unengaged Sister with an aimed boosted shot that allowed the Juggernaut to Overrun partway into the forest, finally I popped the feat. The Juggernaut could now charge and "reck" the Reckoner. Luckily I got back-strike bonuses as I couldn't afford to cast Superiority again! The dog (who has Hunter but not Pathfinder?) took advantage of the feat to charge Vilmon. Sadly my opponent had not used any of the Paladin's stances and Vilmon bit the dust. Finally the Koldun Lord killed the last Sister (with the useless skeleton), and Kell ran around the forest (I didn't actually put him in the forest though).

He put (almost) everything he had left into the Juggernaut, finally managing to finish it off with his Warcaster.

Turn 4:
Strakhov put a bunch of damage on the Bastions but he shuffled it around so I couldn't use Overrun to move to safety. The rest of my models piled in and left his Bastions with a single damage box.

Using his feat, he brought back the four dead Bastions... in Strakhov's back arc! With four MAT 7 Weaponmasters in Strak's back arc, I don't think it would surprise anyone that Strakhov SURVIVED WITH TWO BOXES LEFT! Ouch! The Dervish killed Thor and the Dog but couldn't quite reach Strak, which bought me another turn. He also feated a Choir member onto Kell, but couldn't kill him.

Turn 5:
Strakhov pretty much couldn't move without dying, so all I did was put a double-boosted Battering Ram into his caster (who, in a wreck marker, was currently at DEF 18 ARM 21). It did about 4 damage and pushed him out of the wreck. I spent Strakhov's attacks putting small dents into the Dervish. Kell took a couple of damage from a free-strike in order to put a point of damage on the High Reclaimer, and finally the Koldun Lord charged in... and bounced off.

At last, the Dervish finally finished off the Hoff.

Well that was fun. The Blaster module was very useful this game. Strakhov himself got to contribute very early on. Overrun was huge this game. Superiority is just too expensive to re-cast, which is a problem when I do stupid things like putting it on cheap models so they can run up and start the piece trade. I need to learn how to use Alexia properly (and I need to learn to respect models with Acrobatics). He made great use of his feat, holding it until I had nothing left to deal with a unit of Bastions.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Does this count as "Forging The Narrative"?

I'm not normally a particularly big fan of the "narrative battle reports" that people sometimes do, largely I think because the demands of describing what happened on the table tend to get in the way of writing a good story, but I figured I'd give it a try. I am however going to switch between telling the story and talking about the game; hopefully that way I can get a bit of the best of both worlds. Fair warning before I start: I generally don't take the fluff too seriously in this game.

Prelude: In Which The Players Assemble
Kell Bailoch walked into the tent, lighting a cigarette with his trusty ZippoTM. A junior Winter Guard officer coughed pointedly, jerking his head towards the "No Smoking" sign. Kell pretended not to notice.

"We got intruders boss. Ugly ones too; and that means somethin' comin' from me!"

With a bestial grunt Orus Zoktavir rose from the table where he had been busy devouring a large plate of raw meat and reached eagerly for his precious Lola, his left eye twitching disturbingly. Kell swallowed nervously and started to back out of the tent.

I was running the same Butcher list as before, only I dropped Beast down to a regular Juggernaut in order to be able to afford to run my new Drakhun:
The Butcher Of Khardov
Bob's Nyss Hunters
Alexia and the Risen
Kayazy Eliminators
Kell Bailoch
Drakhun (no dismount)

Makeda crested the rise and stopped to scan her surroundings. Still no sign of her favourite pet baby elephant. The Beast Handler who had carelessly allowed it to escape had already been severely punished in the most horrible way possible for a Paingiver; with a gentle massage set to a background of soothing music. His screams of agony still rang in her ears. She continued the search, her retinue close behind.

My opponent was running:
Makeda I
-Molik Kharne
-Gladiator Titan
-Aptimus Marketh
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Gobber Bellows Crew

Chapter The First: In Which The Armies Meet
Makeda stepped out of the trees and into a clearing, her forces clustered around her. She sighed as she saw what waited her at the opposite tree line. Clearly this was not going to be as easy as she'd hoped.

"There they are boss! Just like I told you!" Kell indicated the distant force. Zoktavir growled intelligibly and grinned, a thin line of drool running down his chin. He started forwards, his army spreading out around him.

My opponent won the roll and opted to go first, deploying centrally. I put the Nyss on the left, planning to flank around the house (one lone hunter ended up far from his buddies, positioned to receive Iron Flesh). I put Butcher in line with my flag, his jacks around him. The Risen and Drakhun went in the center.

Chapter The Second: In Which Many People Run
The two armies rushed towards each other, each side eager to see the colour of the other's blood. The opposing spellweavers muttered (or in Butcher's case belched) words of power, enchanting their forces to empower them in the battle ahead. Already ahead of the main force, Kell fired his enchanted rifle, claiming first blood for the humans. The blood was red; Kell was slightly disappointed about that.

He advances, with Defender's Ward going on the Nihilators.

I put Iron Flesh on the Nyss, Fury on the Kodiak. I try not to over-extend myself. I want to put the Drakhun somewhere that he'll be ready to counter-charge so I put him a little forwards, but don't want Molik to kill him and fate-walk away, so I put some Risen in front of him. Smart, huh?

Chapter The Third: In Which The Dying Starts
Filling their lungs with blood and thunder, the Nihilators surged forwards to strike down the unholy abominations that shambled forth before them. Effortlessly they struck down the pitiful creatures, clearing a path to the Khadoran commander. Kell and the Nyss responded with a barrage of bullets and arrows, claiming more of the foreign devils. Using foul magics the likes of which man should not meddle, Alexia summons a powerful warrior from the lands of the dead. With a mute cry he charges forwards, striking Makeda's enslaved cyclops a terrible blow.

He only manages to get a few Nihilators into the Risen, but it turns trying to jam high MAT reach models with Berserk using Risen is not a good plan.

I'm being very cagey here; I'm don't want to underestimate Molik Karn's threat range and I don't want to throw the Drakhun away for nothing. Speaking of which, I can't get impact attacks because he's too close, so I just advance and attack a Nihilator, missing with both attacks. MAT 8 FTW, right?

Alexia crafts a thrall who charges Molik Karn and rolls hot for damage. I advance my jacks close enough that he can get to the Kodiak or even the Juggernaut with the Gladiator; let the heavy-trading begin! Butcher moves up to the flag and scores a point.

Chapter The Fourth: In Which Many, Many Mistakes Are Made
Overcome by the chaos of war, Makeda's control slips and her beasts lash out in a wild frenzy. Ducking under the Basilisk's clumsy swing, she clamps down on them with her will. In her moment of distraction however, she ordered the Titan to attack the wrong target; realizing her error, she reached out with her magicks to protect it from the inevitable retaliation.

My opponent forgot to take the fury off the Krea, which frenzies and attacks Makeda herself. Even with the backstrike bonus it misses. Karn was similarly neglected; he rolls boxcars and frenzies too, killing the Thrall. The Gladiator charges at the Drakhun rather than a jack; poor thing dies without claiming a single kill. I guess my opponent was worried about it's mobility making it a threat to Makeda? The Nihilators kill off my Risen and take a swing at Alexia but miss; one attacks the Butcher and does nothing. He feats, puts Defenders Ward on the Gladiator, and scores a point.

So now his Gladiator is in range of both my warjacks. I don't want to put them both into it however as that leaves nothing between an empty Butcher and a bunch of Nihilators. Besides, I shouldn't need them both if I use the feat. So I pay for Iron Flesh, drop Fury, and give the Juggernaut two focus. I wanted to put another thrall missle into Karn, but I need to clear the Nihilators or else his feat will bring them back, so I put three Risen into the farthest Nihilator's back arc.

Butcher feats, casts Full Throttle, and smacks the Nihilator in front of him, but it Toughs. The Risen manage to kill their target with a CMA, then Alexia burns one to kill another Nihilator. The Kodiak lumbers forwards and vents steam, killing one Nihilator, but the other one toughs. For some reason I pushed him up to the wall then turned his back to it; I had some idea of buying more attacks if any survived, but since I had no focus that clearly made no sense. Kell finishes off the Risen in front of butcher, and puts shot into the last one, but it toughs again. One Nyss Hunter is in range and takes a shot (which only broke armour thanks to the feat...), but it toughs a third time and there's nothing left that I can put into it. The rest of the Nyss CRA into Karn, doing a little damage.

The Juggernaut charges the Gladiator. Because of Defenders Ward I need eights to hit, but that's OK, I'm getting boosted attacks thanks to Full Throttle. The charge attack misses, as does another of the axe attacks, and damage rolls on the attacks that do hit aren't particularly hot, leaving it very much alive.

I made a big mistake and downright forgot to contest his flag, allowing him to score easily. Meanwhile his last Nihilator was too close to my flag.

Jughead had been feeling left out. His massive metal body was too slow to keep up with all the smaller, faster squishies, who were having all the fun. But finally his chance had arrived! He charged forwards, empowered by his master's will. He repeatedly struck his target, his axe biting deep into it's flesh. But the enemy's magic protected it, and he was unable to kill the four-armed beast.

Meanwhile, Timmy was trying to get back to his feet. A blast of heated steam had knocked him down and scalded his skin, leaving him in agony. Not that agony was anything new to him. Looking around, he realised that he was the last of his brothers still standing. Even as he tried to rise, a bullet struck him in the abdomen, followed a heart-beat later by an arrow to the knee. Gasping, Timmy sank back down, his vision starting to turn black.

In that moment, Timmy's life flashed before his eyes. He saw his father, training him in the ways of the blade. His mother, who first taught him how to snap a neck. His friends who had fought beside him so many times. And in that moment, he decided: he would not fail them. For all their sakes he would fight! He would make his house proud, he would distinguish himself in battle, and he would carry the memory of his fallen comrades forever as a stone Immortal! Running on nothing but pure willpower, Timmy forced his eyes open and once more started to rise.

Chapter The Fifth: In Which The Balance Starts To Tip
A Timmy rose to his feet, he saw him comrades also start to stir. They had survived after all, protected by Makeda's magic. They wasted no time in moving to attack, striking at the hulking warjack in their midst. With his brothers beside him, Timmy swung with new-found strength. The Kodiak stumbled as his blade severed a bundle of pipes in it's leg.

A Beast Handler sidled up to Molik Karn and whispered in his ear:
"That robot said you have no depth perception!"

Enraged beyond all reason, Karn charged forward to lend his strength to the Titan. Bringing his blades down on the machine's shoulders, he severed vital conduits that controlled it's arms. Between the two of them they finally managed to put the crippled Juggernaut down. Alexia, her focus on the Nihilators, suddenly found herself in reach of the Titan's armoured gauntlets. She tried to dodge back, but a lucky blow clipped her head and sent her reeling into the dirt.

With a combination of Molik Karn, the Titan, the Nihilators, and the Tyrant Commander, he finished off the Juggernaut and Alexia and crippled the the Kodiak's movement. The Gobbers and Paingivers came forwards to jam my last warjack.

So this wasn't good. At the start of my last turn it had looked like I was going to be able to get ahead in attrition by killing his Gladiator and Nihilators, but now the Gladiator was still alive, his Nihilators were back (well, half the unit anyway), and my Juggernaut was dead. The Kodiak was tied up, so it fell to Butcher to get me back in the game.

I upkept Iron Flesh but didn't hand out any focus. Butcher charged the Gladiator, which annoyingly still had Defender's Ward. It took two focus to kill it, leaving Butcher on three. Seeing a chance, I put Fury on the Nyss and camped one. I was able to charge four Nyss into Molik Karn (Valachev didn't have line of sight, but he ran in to block the path to Butcher). After a couple of misses (damned re-rolls!), my last Nyss connected and needed to do just a few points of damage to finish him. At four dice minus six, he rolled... six.

Yay. The rest of  the Nyss put some damage on the Krea. The Kodiak vented steam again, between that and Kell I killed the Tyrant's standard bearer and two or three Nihilators.

The Butcher let out a roar of pure rage - they were breaking his toys! Charging forwards, he swung his axe at the bipedal elephant creature. Overwhelmed by his ferocity, the creature fell at last.

The Kodiak, suddenly finding itself surrounded by enemies, vented scalding hot steam once again. It proved to much for the already-injured Timmy, and this time when he fell, his eyes did not open again.

Meanwhile the Nyss, infected by the Butcher's fury, surrounded the Cyclops. Despite their numbers he somehow managed to evade most of their blows, but a few landed, and those few exacted a heavy toll. It was ultimately only due to the incompetence of Craig, Cylena's second cousin who she didn't want to bring to the fight but her mother insisted, that Karn survived their onslaught. Valachev himself could perhaps have finished the job, but he didn't want any icky blood on his nice shiny hand-engraved blade, never mind his expensive Ermine-trimmed cloak. But hey, at least he gave them some moral support.

Chapter The Sixth: In Which The Death Toll Mounts
In the middle of the flashing melee, Molik Karn caught sight of the Gladiator fall.
"Spartacus! Noooooooooooo!" he cried out in anguish. The memories hit him in a flood; Spartacus stepping in front of the Paingiver's barbed whips to spare him the blow. Spartacus tackling a charging Scythean to protect his flank. Spartacus dragging him from the battlefield after a pair of heavily armoured dwarves had crushed his knees with their hammers. A single manly tear rolled down from his single manly eye.

Knocking the Nyss out of his way, Karn charged the big Khadoran. Time and time again his blades found their mark, cutting through steel and flesh.

My opponent cleared some Nyss with Makeda to try to spare Molik some freestrikes, cast Carnage, and trampled an Enraged Karn over the remaining Nyss to reach Butcher. His dice were having none of it however, and Butcher was left with a single damage box. He put everything that could reach into finishing the job, including a boosted Muzzle cast by Marketh, but everything pretty much just missed or bounced off. Oh, I think the Krea died to free strikes (I believe he was trying to walk out of melee in order to paralyze Butcher?).

Caught by surprise, Zoktavir almost fell to the rampaging Cyclops. It was only luck that spared him the worst of the attack. Gathering himself, he delivered a mighty blow in return. Already wounded, it proved too much, and Karn lost consciousness, to fall at the Butcher's feet.

The Kodiak was starting to get annoyed. These damned squishies just kept getting up! Again he blasted steam around him to try to get rid of the ugly things.

Kell Bailoch, frustrated by the Nihilators refusal to fall to his bullets, spotted a huge warrior bearing down on his employer. Swinging his rifle around, he tried to stop the warrior before it could threaten his meal ticket, but it's armour proved too strong, deflecting the shot.

I left Fury on the Nyss. Butcher killed Karn with a single hit and camped the rest of his focus. The Nyss charged Makeda, who was out of transfer targets, but only three had her in sight and one fell to a free-strike from the Tyrant Commander and another missed. The last one did a few boxes of damage. Kell tried to shoot the Tyrant but couldn't break armour.

Chapter The Seventh: In Which The Battle Is Concluded
With a disturbing sound that could have been a growl or could have been a chuckle, Orsus Zoktavir raised his axe above the falled Cyclops, prepared to deliver the final blow. Suddenly there was a flash of movement in his peripheral vision. His eyes darted to the right just in time for him to see the Tyrant Commander's halberd swinging towards him. The tremendous power of the blow penetrated his power field and struck his badly damaged chest plate. The force of the attack knocked him back, where he fell to the ground, unconscious at last.

Seeing their commander fall, the Nyss Hunters disengaged from their individual battles and converged towards him, intent on carrying him to safety. As Makeda debated whether to try to finish him off, she caught sight of something at the edge of the treeline. It was the Agonizer! Calling what was left of her forces to follow her, she ran towards the rapidly disappearing figure.

As the Nyss warriors struggled to drag the Butcher's massive frame back to camp, a pair of slender masked figures stepped into the clearing before them.

"Are we, like, late or something? Oops, sorry about that!"
"Yeah, you totally would not believe the traffic on the way here!"
"Plus these forests are, like, so confusing!"
"Totally! Why don't they, like, post some signs or something?"
"Yeah, how's anyone supposed to find out where they're supposed to be fighting and stuff?"

So... yeah, I forgot to put the Eliminators on the table. Oops. I don't know what would have happened if I had remembered them, but I will say there were times when it would have been nice to have them. Still, that was a great game; it swung back and forth several times and there were some really tense moments at the end, great fun.

To be fair we both made a lot of mistakes. I seem to get tunnel vision, and focus on things like getting one model to charge another while forgetting to pay attention the the fact that it's currently engaged and will take a free strike. Part of that might be that I tend to underestimate Reach; for example I put Alexia far enough forwards that Nihilators were able to attack her past the the Risen, there was really no reason for that.

I didn't think things through on the turn that I swapped Fury to the Nyss; had I not upkept Iron Flesh (only to knock it off myself with Fury right after) Butcher would have had some four more damage boxes at the end, which I think might have been just enough to survive that last blow.

We both had some bad dice at crucial times, I wouldn't say either of us was luckier overall than the other. His tough rolls on that last Nihilator on Makeda's feat turn stopped him from losing that unit and kept my Kodiak tied up for the rest of the game. His unfortunate Threshold checks took two of his warbeasts out of the game for a whole turn. I kept rolling low when trying to put down his warbeasts, but Butcher killed stuff real good and refused to be killed back.

I'm not sure what I should have done differently. Clearly I didn't make much use of the Drakhun, although losing it to bring the Gladiator into range of my heavy hitters was a win for me (or should have been). Perhaps if I had put both jacks into the Gladiator? Seems I underestimated the effect Defenders Ward would have. Funnily enough I kept rolling sevens instead of the eights I needed (on three dice btw), meaning Beast would have done a much better job there thanks to his single extra point of MAT. Funny how that works.

I clearly didn't make good use of the Nyss; had I been able to put them into the Nihilators they probably would have done better, but I'm not sure how I should have done that, or what Molik Karn would have been doing in the meantime if I had. Alexia's unit just evaporated under Berserk, but still they held them up for a while, so it wasn't such a big waste I guess.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Strak's Back!

I didn't realise until after I had finished, but Strakhov is actually the first warcaster I've painted. So to commemorate the occasion, I benched the Butcher and gave Strak-Hoff another go. And damn, did he look good on that table!

The Hoff
-Little Beast
-Sir Spriggan
Bob's Nyss Hunters (Cylena's been demoted)
Alexia & her fleshless friends
The ninja twins
A widowed Widowmaker

This was just a list I just threw together at the last minute as a modification of my previous Butcher list. The Kodiak doesn't hit hard enough under the Hoffster, so I subbed in the Spriggan. I traded Valachev for the Marksman to see if it was worth putting Sentry on him.

My opponent was trying something interesting with lots of light beasts:
Xersis I
-Cyclops Savage
-Basilisk Drake x2
-Reptile Hound x3
Incindiarii (min)
Paingiver Beast Handlers x2
Optimus Marketh

Without any front-line light infantry my Risen were going to be even more useless on the attack than usual, and I wasn't going to be picking up too many corpses, although Alexia should be able to hurt a light. Between Fury, Enrage, and his feat any one of those light warbeasts could deal a lot of damage. And Incindiarii scare my Nyss. On the plus side, no Bronzeback or Agonizer, and with only Rush I actually out-threat his beasts quite significantly.

We rolled a two-zone two-objective mission with no killbox. We both chose the Arcane Wonder; I was primarily interested in trying to keep casting Sentry, and he was probably planning to swap Fury around a lot. He won the roll and chose to go first. The table was pretty symmetrical so I chose the side of  the table that didn't require me to stand up.

He deploys centrally with the Incindiarii on my right. So I put my Nyss on the other side, which also has the advantage of some cover just outside the zone. The Eliminators are next to them, behind the house where they will be safe until I can decide where they need to go. Hoffmeister stands in the middle where he can get close to the objective for cheap casting and also has a house an wall for cover. The Spriggan stands next to him, ready to go charging down the middle. Beast has to go a little farther on account of a patch of rough terrain. Alexia goes really far away where I can run her around the house or something stupid like that. My Marksman then stands a bit forwards of Strakhov so he can receive Sentry.

Round 1:
He advances, trying to to shift his Incendiarii to my left so they can face off against the Nyss, but has trouble getting through his tightly packed brick.

I put Watcher on the Marksman and Superiority on the Spriggan, then chuck a cinder bomb that doesn't deviate much. The Spriggan runs up behind the smoke cloud where the Cyclops can't see him. Beast runs around the rough terrain. The Nyss spread out. I decide to start accumulating Thralls rather than running, so the Risen just advance 6 inches, then I forget to actually activate the new Thrall. I pull the Eliminators to the right for some reason; probably to keep them away from the Incendiarii. I figure that the Marksman is in range of the lizard-mutt and decide not to advance (I don't want it engaging him next turn), but it turns out I was wrong and he's just out, wasting a perfectly good shot.

Round 2:
He advances cautiously. The gecko-poodle advances into the zone, taking a fair bit of damage from the Marksman's sentry shot. The Incendiarii kill a Nyss. One of the Drakes gets Defender's Ward and toes the zone.

I dunno if he misjudged the distance or forgot that Strak's feat gives Pathfinder or just figured it was worth the trade, but his only heavy is in range of the Spriggan. I debate using Overrun to reach him and saving the feat, but I decide the feat is more reliable (and I get an extra dice of damage thanks to the free charge this way), so Strakhoff gives three to the Spriggan and two to Beast, then moves up and feats. I think tried to put some damage on the Titan with the riot gun but failed.

The Spriggan only just manages to put down the Gladiator. Beast charges the Drake and whiffs most of his attack rolls, only managing to connect with the fist. Alexia drops another Thrall, who moves over to try to shield Strakhoff. The Marksman also moves in front of Strak, finishing off the gila-terrior. The Eliminators charge the Drake, putting in some damage, though I waste one attack trying to side-step over to the Cyclops and not quite making melee range. I run the Nyss to try to engage the Incendiarii, but I only manage to reach one, so I hold the rest back.

Round 3:
Xersis feats, casts Fury on himself, and takes out the left half of the Spriggan's damage grid - no more, no less - with a single combo-smite. This slams the Spriggan into an Eliminator, who survives but is knocked down. The Cyclops then gets Fury and is Enraged, finishing off the Spriggan with the help of a Reptile-Hound, while the first Drake puts a respectable amount of damage on Beast and the second takes out the knocked down Eliminator and my two Thralls (he misses the other Eliminator even with boosting). The other scaly dog kills a Nyss, and the Incendiarii kill two more.
Ignore the AOE template and knockdown token.

At P+S 18, that Cyclops is a real threat, one that I want dead. So I fill Beast with focus and swap Superiority onto him. First I want to take out the near-dead Drake standing in the way. My opponent had let Defenders Ward drop (I don't remember if he wanted it somewhere else or just wanted the fury), and the Last Eliminator ("...would be a great name for a band") killed it with a single non-combo-smite damage roll thanks to a set of cars... box cars that is!

So Beast moves up and just about manages to take out the Cyclops (which is getting two extra armour thanks to Xersis feat), putting a bit of damage on the other Drake and killing a Beast-Handler with his Thresher. The Risen move up and Alexia creates another Thrall, who fails to kill an Incendiarii. The Nyss and Marskman put out a bit of damage, killing a dog-lizard.

Strakhov is toeing the zone, so I score a point for dominating my zone.

Round 4:
Xersis kills Beast. He opted to camp fury rather than try to kill the Last Eliminator. The Drake kills Alexia. The reptilian canine failed to kill the Marksman. He doesn't have very much luck against the Nyss either. I score another point for dominating.

So I have a choice now; I can try to kill Xersis with Strakhoff or I can try to start scoring. My instincts are telling me to CHARGE but my head is telling me to play for scenario. So I throw Strakhov at the Drake, killing it (only just; some bad dice were happening there) and Sprinting to safety. The remaining Risen run up to try to jam him out of the zone. I check the Marksman's stats and he's MAT 4 (in Khador? Oh, the shame!), so I tried to pull him away from the MAT 5 dog, but the freestrike killed him. Then I try to kill the mutt with a back-striking charge from Cylena (I probably should have done that first in retrospect); I need fours to hit, which I get, so I'm rolling four dice minus 4 for damage; expected damage is around 10. I do something like 3 or 4. Sigh. The rest of the Nyss kill an Incindiarii at last.

The turns ends and I score a third point for dominating my zone.

Round 5:
Xersis kills off the Risen and he runs some models into my zone, including the lizard-dog. He gets two points for dominating the zone, as Strakhov doesn't contest.

Strakhov kills Optimus Marketh with a boosted Battering Ram, then charges the Paingiver and kills it, pushing the hound out of the zone with another boosted Battering Ram (which again does very very little damage) before sprinting to safety. The Nyss also kill another Incendiarii. I score a fourth point (I think he doesn't score because I do contest on my turn?).

Round 6:
Xersis threat range is the same as his control area, 10 inches. Luckily Strakhov is just out. So instead he advances to a more central position (he has Defenders Ward and the dog still has five or six boxes to transfer to) and runs a bunch more Paingivers into the zone. The damned dog is enraged and charges Strakhov, doing about 9 damage despite it's crappy stats. He scores two more points.

His models are spread too far for me to be able to kill them all and even if I can I still don't win because you have to win by more than 1 point difference (I think), so all I can do is try to kill Xersis. He's at DEF 15 ARM 20 with about 14 boxes or so. I use Battering Ram to get the dog out of the way (and still don't kill it! Damned thing!) and charge Xersis. I roll well for attack rolls (needing 8s), but consistently roll crap for damage (even when boosting damage) and do a total of like 3 points.

This means he wins on his next turn.

It was a great game; Strakhov got to sprint around a bunch at the end which was fun. I don't think either of us had consistently bad dice, while I probably had better dice overall Strakhov refused to roll well for damage, and completely bounced off Xersis at the end. His list wasn't one of the stronger options available to Skorne, but mine wasn't exactly optimized either, I don't think he was at a disadvantage at any rate.

I pretty much wasted Alexia. I didn't get the most use out of the Nyss either, being too scared of the Incendiarii; I'm not sure how much difference Valachev would have made in that game. The Marksman did some damage to the reptile hounds but otherwise didn't contribute that much; I didn't get to cast Sentry as often as I'd hoped as even with the Arcane Wonder I usually needed my focus elsewhere.

Technically Beast did nothing that a normal Juggernaut couldn't, although in truth when rolling attack rolls against the Cyclops I rolled very low several times; I think the extra point of MAT made a big difference there. On the other hand, the Spriggan didn't end up doing anything that a Juggernaut couldn't have done better, but my main magnetised warjack is on the painting table right now, so I didn't have as many options as usual.

That reptile hound survived far longer than it should have; if I had been able to kill it earlier then I probably could have killed the rest of his contesting models and scored, though he was at four points by then which I think means it wouldn't have mattered anyway

I'm not sure if there's any single big thing I should have done differently. Perhaps I should have held back some risen to contest rather than trying to jam him out of the zone? I probably should have played the Nyss more aggressively, but I'm not actually sure that would have worked out that well (at least if he hadn't been having trouble positioning his Incendiarii), besides it didn't really turn out to be a factor in the end. Sending my Jacks after his Beasts still sounds like the right move, the problem is that with his buffs (and Marketh to stretch them even further) even his lights are major threats (and with SPD6, Reach, and Rush, they can have great threat ranges), and Xersis himself can just walk up and take out a heavy to even the odds, so I don't win that attrition battle, not with jacks I think.

Anyway, as fun as Strakhov is I don't think I can build a really good list with him for taking on Skorne, so I'm probably switching back to Butcher for a while. Still, it was surprisingly enjoyable just to look over and see some colour on my Warcaster for a change.