Thursday, 25 September 2014

Invasion September 2014 – Zombiestates Account

The tribe moves in!
Hello friendly people of our niche corner of the internet! Actually, it never ceases to amaze me just how lovely Dropzoners are... I've digressed already:

Hello once more!

This post will begin with two apologies. The first is due to the length of time this post has taken to get up. Invasion was exhausting on body, mind and soul, and then lumping near 50 hour weeks on top has taken a monumental chunk out of my able-minded time. I have however found a moment of clarity, so quit your whining!

Invasion was a straight up hoot (and that's not a word I use lightly). Getting to play the game I love all weekend, while chilling with the bros and hanging with Team Hawk never gets old! I returned with my Shaltari once more (click here to see my list), and was incredibly happy to retain my title. This leads me onto my second apology. I had stated the intention to bring Scourge this time around; well, have you ever seen the one about the couple whose bank account comes under a sustained assault from a giant food and dress shaped monster? It's called the Wedding. Don't worry, I'll be one of the 50% with a happy ending. The Circus Of Legs will be arriving in Invasion 2015, promise! Hell, I've promised Hawk Dave and I got one of those “Really? 24 Prowlers? Is that really necessary?” looks, and it'd be a shame to not get the follow up “That mad bastard actually did it!” face.

This post will not be a series of battle reports. I don't enjoy writing or reading them to be honest (I always lose momentum halfway through), so rather I will be giving a synopsis on the game, doing my best to remember the lists I played, and giving my opinions on them.

The following lists are from memory, so if I have something wrong let me know!

Game 1: Military Complex - Shaltari - 9-11 Loss

This was a weird one. I was tired from the week of work, and achey from the previous nights footy, and then presented with an army not to dissimilar to mine. When I say that, I mean it was a Shaltari list with about 200 points of different units, and it was also bright yellow. The table was so bright, looking at it was like staring into the sun!

This was the one game I lost on the weekend. I won't be blaming this on the dice, but rather my mind. When I first arrived I thought it was my body that was failing me (I hadn't played five a side for the best part of a year), but it turned out to be my brain too. I made mistakes with gate deployment in turn two which cost me the ability to port Braves all over the board. On top of this, one squad of Braves lined the walls and were promptly shot at and wiped out (I'm still not sure if he rolled above average, the maths is beyond me), letting my adversary become the occupier. All in all it was a little frustrating, but a result that I will learn from (“Why do we fall Bruce...”).

The army was similar to mine as mentioned. The trade was the Firstborns, Yari's and two extra Tarantulas for a Dreamsnare and three Tomahawks. His heavy walkers made a solid fist which was hard to penetrate, but by picking off the softer peripheral units I was able to make sure I had more kill points than him (kill points earn the victor more tourney points in the Hawk tourney pack). I liked the army, as it had a bit more too it than most which pack a Dreamsnare, but I still think the Snare is restricting. It tempts you to clump units in one area which limits your width, which although didn't have a big affect in this game will in others.

Game 2: Ground Control - UCM - 17-3 Win

Ground Control is a mission that I had not practised, but was against an opponent who I have shared many a happy hour bludgeoning, and being bludgeoned by on a Blood Bowl pitch. My good friend Folly is fairly new to the game, and is the most aggressive UCM player I have played against! The mission was to completely control a quarter, and it wasn't until the last turn of the game that we both realised that you could not contest them like a normal focal point. As such, Folly (very cleverly) saturated my quarter with redundant dropships, forcing me to expend my AA on them. I played a bit of a waiting game, and got myself into a position to outflank him on turn 3. The game got brutal quickly; my Firedrake blew most of a Sabre squad to pieces before being ripped up by Rapiers, his Praetorians were incinerated in their Raven, and one of my Jags met a nasty end to a couple of Gladius. Come the end of the game and working out the scores, I was re-reading the mission and had to clarify with a ref that you could not contest quarters. This shifted a 13-7 win to a 14-6 for me (I owned three quarters to his two), and with KP's added on it came out to a 17-3. Possibly not what the game reflected, but once I had taken out his Longbows I had free reign of the board.

This was another army I liked. It had all the trademark UCM features; robust tanks, good AA spread, and plentiful troops, but it also had four Longbows which I think are an excellent addition to any UCM army. When I eventually get around to playing the Uckem (they will be last, as they interest me the least, but one day I am sure I will get down with the Humans!) I will absolutely be taking four Longbows. The only thing that let Folly down was his lack of experience in the game. There is always the chance that you will meet someone who knows their army a little better than yours in a toruney, and this just happened to be the case in this game.

Game 3: Take and Extract - UCM - 20-0 Win

You know those games where you do everything right, and then feel like you are taking advantage of your opponent? This was one of those. Before the the game had started my opponent had let me know that he hadn't really played many games, he was using Dave's army deal, and that he wasn't sure how he was in the upper mid-tables. I told him not to think that way (sincerely of course), before the coffees consumed during game 2 kicked in and I completed the transformation into MEGA-BASTARD (Destroyer Of Dreams and Jenga Towers) by kicking him all over the table. The first turn I set my Spirits up to storm one of the buildings on his board edge, hoping for him to not find the objective and not get his Archangels on. Luck went my way and neither happened, and my Firstborns and Braves tore apart his Praetorians the following turn. He positioned a Condor laden with two Gladius a bit in the open, which was shot down by my Jags, destroying both heavy tanks. To add insult to injury, I blew up a Bear in the open which was set to ferry a squad of Legionnaires of the board once the objective once found. The following turns were the motion of turning the knife, and I ended up with 6 VP's to his 0 (I happened to get hold of both his objectives, and failed to find an objective in my medium sized building, rolling with two squads on 2+ on the final turn. Snake eyes. It, luckily, didn't matter in the end).

Not much to talk about army-wise, it was Dave's army deal. Although not awful, it certainly doesn't give you an optimised list. Investment in 2 more Ravens, and maybe some Katanas would be a welcome addition.

This was the end of the day, and I felt wrecked. It's what seven and a half hours of gaming will do to you. By the time I got home from a comedy gig that night (Jason Manford for a tenner; Cashback!) the world was spinning!

Game 4: Recon - Shaltari - 16-4 Win

I was a bubbly glass of refreshed on Sunday morning! A lovely sleep had done me the world of good. On the way to the town in which every ugly person in London goes to die (seriously, walking the streets of Croydon is like being in a zombie apocalypse), we were exchanging in low-brow mirrored floor banter (don't ask) and were having a jolly good time. Until I saw the mission. Bloody Wanky Recon. I have issues with this mission, and this game highlighted most of them. Hawk have written a very good tournament pack with a plethora, nay, a smorgasbord of missions to choose from, and they pick the stinky cheese no-one really wants. As a stand alone friends-and-beer mission it's a laugh. At a tournament where geek pride is on the line, not so much. It is a mission where two or three rolls of a six or a one will win or lose a game.

Out of a possible eleven buildings on the board, six were booby trapped. My poor opponent rolled four (yes, four!) and I rolled two. He levelled the seventh building before I got to roll a dice for it, and all buildings on my board-half were A-ok. On looking at the armies, this is a mission that I should have (had I been playing with my head attached) won easily. Quite simply I out sped and manoeuvred his army in every way, but because he rolled ones I wasn't able to get into his buildings and search for more intel.

In my four I found one objective and three pieces of intel, and due to a mistake in troop gating allowed my adversary to shenanigan into my buildings and claim two intel points. Would could have been an interesting game was somewhat out shadowed by appalling luck. Yes, six rolls of a one out of eleven is outrageous odds, but this proves it happens, and it was on table two meaning two gamers with a good chance of winning the tourney could have been punished through no fault of their own.

On to the army. Oh yes, the army. This was the meatiest, beastly army I had ever played in Dropzone. He had brought eight warstriders. Yes, EIGHT. You try killing a Coyote, a Dreamsnare, two Ocelots and four Jaguars. You simply can't! I got one Jag, but the rest were bubbled so tightly I couldn't risk go near them. After the tourney he told me that the most points he had lost in one game was just over 600 (to Edchopp's UCM I will add), which is basically nothing. The blew the grav-vanes of boys! Having said this, he only had three units of Braves, one Spirit and two Havens. This is why I knew I fared a better chance than him. I used my Firstborns to engage and destroy a Braves unit, and the other squads simply didn't have the means to jet about quickly. You will beat 70% of opponents with his list, but the experienced 30% will simply ignore the Strider bubble and get on with the mission.

I will note that despite rolling four booby traps, he stayed in good mirth, and that in itself earned a sportsman award. I would have been throwing my toys out of the pram!

Game 5: Secure The Flanks – Scourge - 10-10 Draw

The grudge match was on. Mega Mike and myself, last game, table one again, I was leading the tourney by a meagre five points. I knew that this was going to be a toughy! Mike was using Scourge, and has shown that through a calculated mix of cunning and sheer aggressiveness you can play competitively with Scourge. This was immediately apparent when his army massed to my right flank, and I lost both Jaguars by turn 4 to Prowlers... His Minders provided an AA bubble around the middle building, but I was lucky enough to play an Underground Monorail between my building and the central one. We had a CQB running consistently from turn 2 in this building! By the end of turn three I had thought the game was beyond me, and started to turn my thoughts to damage control, but with a few cheeky manoeuvres managed to pull myself back to a draw. In the end had I moved a single Eden in the opposite direction in turn five, I would have won the game! In the end though I think a draw was a fair result, and it was the hardest and most enjoyable game I played all weekend (no slight to my other opponents of course).

MM's army is a bit a beast when it gets into motion, and I was lucky enough to bring down his two Reavers almost immediately. He has a very good knack of knowing where to place his units to be the biggest nuisance, especially the Destroyers, and with the speed in which he can deploy it often happens before his opponent gets a chance to react.

Tensions were high and faces were silly
As the game drew to an end, and word of tough, even battles all along the top four tables spread I realised that I had lucked out a little and managed to clinch the event by a slim 2 points. Had MM won the game by one point, resulting in an 11-9, Edchopp would have won on kill points (only one of two people to beat me on them I might add!).

I had a great weekend and would like to thank each of my opponents for excellent games. You really couldn't ask for a better group. Roll on Invasion 2015; hope to see you there!

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