Monday, 28 September 2015

Flight of the UCM: Day 1

I love Invasion
The pinnacle of the Dropzone tournament calendar. It has been getting bigger and better each year. Lots of familiar faces to give man-hugs to and lots of new faces, which is tremendous to see, it means that there is still a large pull for Dropzone. Dropzone is certainly growing.

So how did I do, well 4th. Which is my lowest placement in a Dropzone tournament since my first one (where I was 5th). But I'm not as disappointed as you may think. There were a hell of a lot of good players with challenges from Sweden, Holland, Scotland and Germany, not to mention all the other English clubs too. Add to the fact the recent errata updates and new units released and what you have is a very balanced field.

Game 1

Andrew Page
Targets of Opportunity
UCM uber-demo list

Andrew is a long time tournament opponent, I have played against his PHR, Scourge and Shaltari, this is the first time I have faced his UCM.
There is no way I should have won this game, no way. After seeing Andrew's list my heart sank. Targets against a demo list containing Katanas, 2 Eagles, 4 Gladius, 2 Seraphim and a Phoenix. The only AA he had was 2 Archangels, that was a plus, but still, I needed an early break.
I knew from his list that going into my home building was a no go, so I needed a plan, that plan was to be the occupier in all 3 central buildings on turn 2.

Turn 1 rolls around I do significant damage on his building, meaning he has to win activation and bail on turn 2 or lose all his troops. As predicted, my home building is destroyed - trivially. No Seraphims. Turn 2, no Seraphims, bonus. I didn't win activation (we both had a CV4 commander). Andrew activates his troops, doesn't find any objectives (he had 3 rolls, needing a 6.....phew) and as predicted, bails. Unfortunately for him, he placed his ravens behind the large building meaning that he couldn't make any of the centre ones. I finished off his building as I didn't want any last minute embarkations into it later in the game. 1 of his archangels got reaction fired to death. I pinged an eagle with mine (down to 1 dp left) but lost one to intercepting.
I had to lead Andrew into destroying buildings that I wanted him to, rather than the ones I didn't want him to, for this reason I placed a squad of Legionnaires in the left-hand centre objective building. Once Andrew started shooting this building, I placed my second unit of Legionnaires into the centre building. Andrew destroyed the left-hand building with 1 mangled squad of Legionnaires and started work on the centre one.
Finally as my last activation my 2 Hazard suits teams went into the right hand centre building.

Turn 3 I won activation and had a search with my Legionnaires, failed. I kept them in, leaving Andrew with a difficult decision. Andrew chose to go for that centre building until it was destroyed (which it was in due course through the turn). My Hazard teams had 2 searches in their building and failed both. Seraphims were on, did a fair amount to the final objective building but nowhere near enough. I finished off the Eagle, got the second one, a couple of Katanas and a Gladius. With no AA cover my Falcons, Phoenix and drones were rampant.

Turn 4 and I really need activation, I don't get it. The Seraphims come on for another bombing run, one misses, so the damage is not that bad. I activate my Hazard teams, 2 rolls needing 5+........ I roll a 5 and a 6, then I get the fuck out of dodge. I can't escape just yet, but I'm not far off. I also position wolverines and Rapiers around my escaping Raven.... you know just in case his last Archangel tries something on. The rest of the turn I spend removing Katana and Gladius, also his troops were being taken out. Turn 5 I get the objective off and remove his last archangel. We play out the rest of the turns with Andrew and I attempting to get as many kill points as possible.

What the table looked like at the end!

The game ends with a 2-0 victory, I also received a 3 point kill point bonus (798-381) making a 15-5 win.

Game 2

Alex Barton
Ground Control +

You might think that Ground Control would be easy for me with my Air Supremacy list.......think again. I'm already at a 134 point disadvantage due to having fast movers and my infantry stands are worth less (and regarding Legionnaires, worthless!), so if they occupy buildings at the end of the game (worth double points) my troops are not worth as much as the Shaltari ones.
Alex rocked up with his lovely Shaltari (I say lovely, I mean beautifully painted. Shaltari can burn in hedgehog hell as far as I'm concerned!)

Ground Control is always a cagey mission. What I mean by this, is that all the action tends to happen in turns 5 and 6. The first few turns are normally feeling out the opposition and seeing if you can get the jump on them. I thought I saw just such and opportunity. A lone Caimen had been dropped off by an Eden, with some Kukri reasonably close. I jumped my Hazard suits into 2 large buildings to engage on turn 2. Even with a higher level boss, I lost the activation roll. Alex used his Kukri's, straight away I was happy, until my turn. Quick Thinking was played on the Caimen. My Hazard Suits activated but were abysmal. 1 squad could't see anymore and the other only got 1 hit out of 6!
Eventually I did take out the Caimen, but it took and inordinate amount of firepower and turns! Goddamn passive saves!!
The whole game was very tit for tat. I'd kill something of his, he'd kill something of mine.
I seem to have real trouble taking out Kukri, not just in this game, but in general.

What I did manage to do successfully was remove and tie-up battlegroups. For Ground Control it is essential to get ahead on activations. This means that you get to dictate where your forces need to be deployed in turn 6.
I had also managed to box in the Shaltari as much as I could, but still could not prevent Alex from contesting all quarters. In turn 6 Alex only had 3 activations to my 6. This meant that when he over-committed to his starting quarter, I could make sure I could win the other 3 and leave a token model in his quarter. This game me a 7-5 win in victory points, I didn't get a kill point bonus (597-621), so it ended as a 12-8 in tournament points.

Game 3

Jens Bäckman
Secure the Flanks

Game 3 is always a struggle. It's a long day, and concentrating for long periods takes it's toll. I don't know if it's that I played 2 Shaltari lists in a row or the magical win juice (red bull) masking my memories but I am having real trouble remembering this game.
For the life of me I have no clue how the objectives were won or lost. What I can say is that this was my most enjoyable game during the weekend. Jens is an absolutely top bloke. He is part of team Sweden and has a simply magnificent beard! Maybe that is why I can't remember a thing......

I will detail what I can, and I'm sure Jens will be doing a write up of his own on the Swedish blog, I hope he can remember more than I can......

I remember early on thinking that Jens made a mistake. He has a Totem, so he would be protecting his objective building, which he did successfully. This meant he didn't have to worry about losing the building to demolition. The mistake I think he made, or where I would have played it differently was the use of his Dreamsnare. Jens opted to place his Jaguar instead of his Dreamsnare on turn 1 and left the Dreamsnare on the mother-ship. The Dreamsnare plus totem protecting his building could have been a real bonus for him.
I'm pretty sure we both found our home objectives. I made my way into the centre building and took some damage on Legionnaires whilst in. I had the central building sewn up tighter than a drag-queens corset. I wasn't allowing any gates to even come close. But that doesn't matter to a Shaltari General. Jens played Scout gate's global as well, he doesn't even have to be within SoI....seriously!
Firstborns magically arrived in the building. The remaining Legionnaires needed a new change of combat pants.
The CQB was short and sweet, the Firstborns denying the Legionnaires any sort of attack and redecorating the inside of the tower with human blood and gore.
I had activated my Legionnaires early as the building was low on dp, this gave me the rest of turn 3 to destroy the centre building, which I duly did. No more Firstborns.

Edit 19/10/2015: Jens kindly reminded me what happened to the Firstborns. I spent the rest of the turn demo-ing the building with the Firstborns in. I got it down to 1 dp left and had nothing else to shoot with. I really needed to win activation. But Jens had a CV5 boss and he won activation. To my delight and surprise, I drew partisan strike. Jens had no Espionage and I destroyed the building, and the First Borns died in the rubble. Epic! 

From now on I was taking out gates where I could, to stop the shenanigans on turn 6. I was also playing a game of spread out the drones so Jens couldn't stop gates within 4". These naughty tactics worked very well for me. Jens couldn't get his CV5 Coyote anywhere near a focal point by the end. I had positioned my Phoenix right in the middle on turn 5, over the graves of the Firstborns, this meant I could go to either focal point on turn 6. I had removed both Birdeaters and the Yari are completely ineffectual against the amount of airpower I have.
Jens' passives were rolling pretty hot too, I think I attract good passive saves everywhere I go.

I didn't manage to keep Jens from contesting any Focal Points, but I stopped him owning any. This lead me to a 6-4 victory point win. This was a relatively clean game, not too much killing (423-488) I didn't get a kill point bonus so another 12-8 score leaving me with 39 tournament points at the end of day 1.

Come back soon for my day 2


  1. Some very intense games there! Fun to read! I must say that I'm very impressed that you get so good with so little infantry! Was it hard to decided what to do with the Hazards? Like shoot or search..?

    1. No, never. They are for searching only. The only time they shot was when they couldn't search.
      The only way to win the game is to find objectives, so I used their shooting ability as a bonus. Their real ability is in that they can soak falling masonry hits like a boss.
      In games like Ground Control and Bunker Assault, I wouldn't normally put any infantry on the board until turn 5, again this is where the Hazard suits are useful as they can come on and shoot from a large building somewhere.

    2. Need to try them out when I pick up my UCM again. :)

  2. nice read! I hoped you'd do something like thiss as i was very interested which opponents you faced and how that all went... the game vs. Lorn is online somewhere on the hawkbaords from his POV...

  3. Thx 4 the Day 1 report. Can't wait to read about Day 2


    1. Same. Thank you for taking the time

    2. Thanks both, Day 2 will be either Friday or Monday

  4. Great write up, Mike. Looking forward to Day 2!

  5. I know what you mean. By game 3 I was broken aswell. Good luck rembering day 2!

    Cheers, Thunder

  6. @Mike: The Scout Gate Drone card is global in order to be able and deploy from the Mothership but uses SoI for deploying them on the board. I am most certain that I with my 22" command distance could deploy into the middle building. But I did not check the distance because, if I remember correctly, had my Yaris up on my left together with my Birdeaters. I moved them forward to have SoI.

    1. Ohh, and nice writeup :) you can read my account later tonight on DzC Sweden.