Monday, 27 June 2016

Weekend At Alex's

Sunday 19th June was a good day. A very good day indeed. To say it was very, very, incredibly, amazingly geeky would perhaps be an understatement of fairly epic proportions. After a bumper breakfast cooked by yours truly (BYOB; bring your own bib, £10 feed fee, chance of salmonella included in the cost), Alex escorted me back to his war vault (although I'm beginning to think of it more as a Keep of Geek) for a day of gargantuan gaming. Alex is a half-silent OB member, being a regular pundit on our podcast. You can peruse his blog here!

Starting with a couple of Euro 2016 inspired Guild Ball matches (Alex being the Turkey to my Spain, as well as just being a jive-turkey in general), we entered the often abstract realm of cardboard. Quentin Quilt the Pedantic Pawn was our guide through Patchwork, a two player game about making a quilt tetris-styles, before entering a very-familiar-but-not-unwelcome dystopian world of Specter Ops, a hidden movement game about stealing genetically modified ice cream (or rather activating 'objectives'. I wish they'd been more specific in the theme, but oh well). Our hard paper escapade finished in the sepia stained land of Stratego, bringing back memories to Alex from before the war. Which war? Why, all of them of course.

We ended our day back in the future, in the more tangible plain of Dropzone Commander. Secure the Flanks was the mission. I was using a 1500 point Shaltari army for the the first time in about 70 years, and Alex his 22 infantry base Resistance army. The same army that finished above Mike at Summer Invasion. I'll never get tired of hearing that.

Fun jump break fact: I blog on my phone so much that the word Shaltari is in my auto-correct!
After suffering from a fierce Scourge headache (before the delightfully wibbly new releases had broken free of their cocoons) I haven't actually played Dropzone for about a month! Now before you find and lynch me, Hawk had failed to keep my Scourge (that's right, my Scourge!) up to date enough to be any kind of competitive! Playing against PHR and Resistance felt like ramming my head against a brick wall, and it burnt me out. This in a way sparked the renaissance for my Shaltari, so it's not all bad I suppose.

Anyway, my point, and that's that I'm super rusty. Think Resistance junker rusty. This was meant to be a nice game to end a glorious day of gaming with. Spoiler alert; unfortunately for Alex, it turned into a rout. Here is my list:

I don't enjoy writing battle reports, but I'll make an brief exception for today:

Turn 1 - General StF deployment, but due to the Pungari's hoard horde rule I only needed to put these two squads in the building to get four objective rolls, and kept the Firstborns in reserve. The Totem deploys next to the building, and saves a shot against the structure (I'd never used a Totem before, so that was rather exciting). The Caiman and Yaris drove on, Kukri deployed from an Eden, and Gharial from the Firedrake. Alex spilled a Lifthawk's worth of Infantry into his building and deployed his army out from his quarter.

Turn 2 - We both find our objectives this turn. I win initiative and become the occupier in the central building with a Pungari squad, and redeploy the Totem to protect the building. Alex's Resi army is very unusual, in that it has very little demolition ability, but it was worth a small hop with the Totem to keep it 33% safe. A colossal melee formed in the central building after Alex pumped in some Fighters and Vets, and my Firstborns went also took the plunge in. Sixteen bases of Infantry were gearing up for the brutality of combat! My Firedrake shot some Gun wagons, killing one and wounding the other two but taking a couple of wounds back in reaction fire. It also Dragon Cannoned a wound of some Freeriders. The Kukris shot a Lifthawk a bit. As Alex's army was mostly Infantry, he didn't have much to respond with. His units moved in better positions, with his boss making for a Focal Point safetly in his Lifthawk. His Vet's Kraken moved toward the central building, but into open ground.

The mother of rucks
Turn 3 - Alex wins initiative, and fluffs his Gun Wagon rolls against my Firedrake who lives on with a single wound remaining. For their insolence he incinerates the squad in return and then hides. Next comes the turning point of the game; my Caiman rounds a corner, and speculatively takes a shot at the Kraken full of Vets. Rolls of one 5 and six 6's later, and all that's left is molten slag. This was huge in the context of the game, as they would have gotten in the building which may have changed the swing of the CQB. Talking about that combat, the Pungari take a beating but the presence of the Firstborns whittles Alex down by about four bases. I failed to find the objective. Alex gets one more base of fighters and Vets into the building. I make the very rusty decision to not deploy my Pungari into the central building, which ends up costing me the extraction of the objective. Oh, and my tarantulas deploy.

Turn 4 - I find the objective, more combat follows and I wipe mostly everyone out but lose a squad of Pungari. The other squad also jump into the building. Some other stuff happens, like killing Jacksons and a Lifthawk, but nothing major. I destroy a Kraken containing Gun Wagons but they all live.

Turn 5 - A bit of manoeuvring, nothing much else. I think I kill a Lifthawk, and Alex plinks a wound of my golden Caiman with Gun Wagons. I set up a move to gate jump my boss in turn 6 to the other side of the board, to cancel out the worth of his boss.

Turn 6 - I kill the remaining Gun Wagons, but get greedy and try to chain the objective of the board from the central building using Firstborns, a Haven, the Kukris and an Eden. It doesn't work out (stupid no pre-measuring rule) and it totally botches the plan to fling my boss, as the Kukris end up well out of position and I have to use the Ghariel to claim an empty focal point.

The game ended up being a 6-4 win to me, but if I had not been a nimrod on
...ends in complete annihilation...
two occasions it would have been 8-3. I also killed over 1000 points of Alex's army, and lost four bases of Infantry in return, so in a tournament setting we were looking at around a 15-5 instead of a potential 18-2 using the updated Kill Points scoring table deployed at Summer Invasion (making it harder to gain points for killing, a good move. You can thank Mikey B for that change!).

A speculative shot...
As for the army, although I fear it lacks anti-tank I thoroughly enjoyed all the shenanigans again! I had forgotten just how useful the Firedrake was, and having never used a Caiman before I had no idea it could do what it did! It was of course a situation of perfect dice, and I'm not sure I deserve for that to happen ever again, but it was an eye opener. I remember a time when I didn't rate the Caiman, but the meta has changed significantly since then, and I would much rather take one over a Jaguar these days. Reflecting on the AT again, I will have to be very selective as to what I target, and be careful with how I deploy units. Although it isn't sparse and pops up in unlikely places (like the Totem and Birdeaters micro-lasers), I only had such a free ride against Alex because he has little to no AT in his army!

Although not a good test for the list, I have a very decent level of AA in the list, perhaps too much
when including the Yaris. I have the option of downgrading the Kukris to Birdeaters if I need the points elsewhere, but as I'm already CV4 I'm not sure what I would take instead? Possibly an extra Eden, as I did miss having the third dedicated gate in the second turn.

I've never run duel units of Firstborns before and am currently using them in a pseudo-Scourge battlegroup, with two squads accompanying a Scout AA choice! I can see the set up becoming incredibly useful as it will commonly want to activate last, and I will very rarely need to activate the Yaris before any other squad in the army. As for the Pungari, wow. I mean, wow. Four dice in the first turn with only two squads? Can anyone see the Nerf-Bat swinging? They probably need something changing, like a points bump, but they will most likely still be worth taking if any changes are made. Oh, while I remember, they are dross in combat, total garbage. I think my Firstborns picked them up by their feet and used them as clubs, as they have no other use apart from being a meat shield (although the way they sponge dice is useful). I can't say I didn't miss Braves, as having a couple of E9 shots can be very useful. Maybe I can squeeze 70 odd points out of the list for a unit? Hmm. Reflections for another post I guess. That's it for now, be sure to pop back for more hog musing!

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