Tho I do like those games, especially FFXIV, I’m time poor so no MMO’s for me at the moment. Warning: Long post ahead.
One of our local Cygnar players hosted a day of fantastic WMH gaming for those brave souls who would fare the Wellington weather forecast. A total of 5 of us attended the day, and leading up to it we decided to take the opportunity to partake in the CID program Privateer Press now has running. CID, for anyone who is not aware, is Privateer Press’s Community Integrated Development program, which is in a nutshell the public Beta Testing phase of rules development for the game. We took the opportunity to test both the Steam Roller 2017 packet, and the proposed Battle Engine profiles. Turned into the most fun I’ve had on a Sunday all year.
We had 5 attendees, and 2 tables. As we were aiming to stress-test the Steam Roller rules, we did away with deathclock, allowed take-backs and I-forgot-to-change-facing-earliers. In general anything that was a minor order of activation error, or movement/effect that could be corrected immediately without altering the outcome of anything else prior in the turn was let through. Controlling players discretion applied, sometimes honest misplays were made and they were lamented audibly, but let ride when appropriate. We felt that taking this very lenient approah gave us a better opportunity to interact with the scenario in the most meaningful way without play errors impacting too heavily upon the outcome or opinions of the scenario. Well, that was the intention. More on that later.
I was playing an odd-ball Makeda3 list, ostenstibly designed to be Anti-Infantry, and to try out the Siege Animantarax CID rules. My general plan for the day was to do my best to play to score on scenario and see how the SR2017 set influenced my ability to do so. I commonly look to be quite aggressive on scoring, and often find myself trading down in order to score more, and I’m worried these habits are going to put me back to square 1 in SR2017. Only one way to find out.
Steam Roller 2017 Objective: Stockpile
Makeda and the Exalted Court
– Titan Gladiator
– Molik Karn
– Cyclops Raider
– Cyclops Shaman
Swamp Gobber Chef
Max Praetorian Karax
– Command Attachment
Max Paingiver Beast Handlers
Round 1 – The Pit II and Standoff
The opening battles were for Scenarios 1 and 2 in the SR2017 packet.
Cygnar-Siege1-Heavy Metal vs Minions-Rask1-Blindwater Congregation
Standoff with Cluster terrain deployment
Skorne-Makeda3 vs Circle-Kromac2
The Pit II with Cluster terrain deployment
Table 1 results:
Siege settled in for the attrition game, looking to shoot the gators down. Things seemed to be going well, but a well timed feat from Rask pulled Siege a bit too close who then ended up paralyzed. Not squandering the opportunity, the Swamp Horror promptly hugged Siege to death in his tentacly embrace.
Cygnar felt that the centralised zones kept his gunline pulled slightly further forward than ideal for his guns, but the fact that the scenario needed a “score 6+ more than opponent” to win meant that he could sacrifice some things gradually to stop a shock-loss on scenario. This then buys more time for his attrition plan to play out, and counter-balances the need to push closer to the mid-line of the table to stop the scenario loss.
Combination of all elements here lead to an extended game that took longer to resolve than it would have under SR2016 rules, and favoured the list that could push up on attrition. Assassination was the counter play that this time worked due to good list design and play, and scenario elements keeping the armies together.
As an aside, there was a Sacral Vault being tested in the Rask list, which reportedly did nothing of note the entire game, and was ignored by Siege as unimportant.
Table 2 detailed report:
For the first game of the day, I got to play into a Circle Orboros Kromac2 list. NB: my objective marker had a painted Armory on it, but I am testing Stockpile this game.
Cluster terrain deployed:
The opposing Circle list:
Steam Roller 2017 Objective: Stockpile
Kromac, Champion of the Wurm
– Gnarlhorn Satyr
– Warpwolf Stalker
Lord of the Feast
Swamp Gobber Chef
Sentry Stone & Mannikins
Circle won the roll and chose to go first. I picked the side that had heftier forests planning to use Rush to move through them easily, and angles to cover zones with the Evil Eye or Siege Animantarax barrages.
Circle runs everything towards the battle lines, confidently limiting shooting options thanks to the large number of trees in the middle of the table. Kromac2 casts some upkeeps and gets a bit of extra movement thanks to being able to charge at the huge based Siege Animantarax even while it’s screened by a forest.
Skorne’s turn one sees the big turtle whipped and healed by the Paingiver Beast Handlers to get his 3 rage tokens, but doing so leaves the PGBH unit stuck in it’s starting position on the first turn. The tortoise then tramples into range of the Gnarlhorn, generates an average 3 shots and after missing all of them, repositions back to a safer distance. The Shaman is able to advance, put Far Strike on himself and winks a fully boosted Evil Eye at a Standing Stone on the opposite side of the forest, melting it into slag. Everything else advances forwards in the center and towards the friendly objective on the right, nothing runs. Makeda decides to put Hand of Death on Molik Karn and Vortex of Destruction on herself.
The Sentry Stone leaps (well, teleports) into action, popping up its own personal forest and sending a Mannequin forward to spray the Karax, but the spray cannot penetrate their armour in shield wall. The rest of the Circle force advances to control both the rectangle zones, and threaten my objective next turn, being careful to stay out of a Rush-walk threat from Molik through the forest on the right.
Having no LOS through the forest on the right side made it impossible to safely engage the Stalker and its Gnarlhorn counter-slamming protector with a charge attack. I decided to take the risky move to offer up the objective as bait to get a a better position for next turn as I couldn’t clear the zone to score on it because of the forest. Molik moved into b2b with the objective to get the heal if he was attacked but it was not, and the Gladiator got ready to support next turn. Animantarax and Raider both aim and chip out the Gnarlhorn’s Mind. Karax advance to contest the center zone and Exalted guardian block charge lanes. Shaman tries his luck again this time against the Sentry Stone who hadn’t generated a forest to stealth in this turn, but only gets 5 damage, leaving it standing. Circle scores for only their home rectangle zone on the left thanks to Skorne’s contesting objective.
Score 1-0 to Circle
I receive an education on Blackclad Wayfarers. They have a spray too. A powerful one. 3 Karax die, and while 1 Karax toughed thanks to supporting play from the Willbreaker, this wasn’t enough as the flanking Lord of the Feast got into the Karax back arcs with his teleport move and easily cleared the back of the zone. Kromac gets his Bloodlust on and feats for both offense and defense. The Gnarlhorn takes care of the blocking Exalted completely clearing the center zone, the Stalker has a go at Molik but only manages to knock out Body and Mind thanks to some unlucky attack dice even under Carnage. Circle scores on center and left zones, the right zone is still contested by my objective.
Score 3-0 to Circle
Stockpile special rule kicks in but only gives 1 box back to Molik, restoring his Mind. After a lot of careful thinking, Makeda decides it’s time to feat, expecting to get a couple of fury points this turn, and burns some fury to restore Molik to full working order. The Soulward double boosts a shot into the Gnarlhorn doing dice+1 damage thanks to Kromac’s feat, severely hurting it, and the Animantarax generates 3 chippy hits for a handful of damage, repositioning slightly afterwards. The Gladiator is tasked with taking out the Stalker and decides the best way to do this at MAT6 vs DEF14 is with a headbutt in the backside. Taking a feat-empowered freestrike from the Stalker on his way there, he loses a chunk of 11 boxes that leaves all his aspects intact. A boosted headbutt hits, and knocks the Stalker down, letting him cripple it to almost dead. Molik is then clear to charge into the back-arc of the Gnarlhorn avoiding the counter slam, and kills it, using sidestep and overtake to get back in range of the Stalker via the Sentry Stone. After then overtaking the Stone and the Stalker, a Fate Walker cast later and he’s positioned safely at the back of the right zone. Makeda clears the Mannequins around her, and the Raider on the hill aims to ignore the Blackclad’s prowl and then smote him motily. Karax move their remaining members into the center zone and activate Iron Zeal hoping it will help with long term contesting. We both score on the rectangle zones.
Score 4-1 to Circle
Loki and Ghetorix finally leave the left zone they’ve been camping and combo up a charge for Ghetorix. Loki drags the Raider in across the hill til it is stopped by the Shaman. Ghetorix can then charge and kill it handily, putting the last hits he can into the Shaman. More (un)lucky attack rolls leaves the Shaman with 11 boxes left, but no Body. One of the Death Wolves and the Lord clean up the Karax despite Iron Zeal, collecting some corpses for posterity. The other Death Wolf with 1 corpse, and the last Standing Stone move to block charge lanes from Molik. Circle scores left and center, Skorne scores on the right.
Score 6-2 to Circle
Stockpile now restores another 1 this time to the Gladiator, but as he had no missing aspects this had no real impact. Seeing the writing on the wall, the Beast Handlers get out of dodge and start running to the right to take part in the end game. The Soulward shifts across and puts a chunk of damage into Loki. The Siege Animantarax generates only 2 shots and aims at the Death Wolf but misses with both, proving to be of no help to Molik, and I fail to reposition correctly not backing far enough away from the oncoming heavies, but instead just a touch towards the zones. Molik goes on his final mission to clear the center zone, but it takes all his fury to do that and Fate Walk back towards Makeda. Taking a page out of Kromac’s book, Makeda moves to toe both center and right hand zones. Circle scores on the left, and Skorne scores center and right zones.
Score 7-4 to Circle
Circle continues to push for the removal of as much of Skorne as possible. The last Death Wolf retreats to guard Kromac and contest the center. Lord of the Feast teleports to the far side of the Animantarax and eliminates the Willbreaker. Ghetorix takes a feeble freestrike from the Shaman and charges into the Siege Animantarax. After one P+S16 initial and 4 axe attacks at P+S19 the Siege Animantarax has 4 boxes left, dying to the 5th and final axe blow from Ghetorix. Kromac pumps a Primal Shock through Loki into the Soulward evaporating him into mist, then Loki impales Molik with his harpoon and chops his weakened form apart with fury to spare. Circle scores on left and center zones, Skorne scores on the right.
Score 9-5 to Circle
The Beast Handlers continue through the forest and into contest/control opportunity positions. Makeda isn’t shy about getting involved, charges Ghetorix and Vortexes away his life, casting Ground Zero using Blood Boon which kills the Lord of the Feast. The Shaman moves to block Loki from getting to Makeda. I make two crucial mistakes, forgetting to measure Loki’s drag range for the Gladiator’s positioning, and I forget the Death Wolf has pathfinder so I advance the Beast Handler far too far into the center zone.
Score 10-6 to Circle
The Death Wolf skips merrily through the forest and lops the Beast Handler’s head from his shoulders with ease. Loki then steps forward, and drags the Gladiator to his doom. With none of Skorne’s models contesting the center zone or scoring on the right, Circle ends their turn and scores of the left and in the center.
Score 12-6 to Circle
What a game. Circle had Kromac, Skoll, and Loki left. Skorne had Makeda, a Shaman, and 4 Beast Handlers, and both objectives were unharmed. I thought I was on track to have a Makeda vs Kromac showdown on turn 7, but it was not to be. Circle proved that the forests were their home and no invading Skorne would be enslaving anyone under their watch today.
Round 2 – Spread the Net and Breakdown
Moving on to Scenarios 3 and 4 for SR2017
Skorne-Zaal1 vs Minions-Rask1-Blindwater Congregation
Breakdown with unchanged terrain
Skorne-Makeda3 vs Cygnar-Siege1-Heavy Metal
Spread the Net with Scatter terrain deployment
Table 1 results:
A pure attrition-at-the-expense-of-scenario game on table 1 occurred, with both players mostly ignoring the scenario scoring elements all game long focusing on the slug-fest. Quite an even match played out for some time, with Zaal ultimately winning out with a ranged assassination victory.
This match flavour swung a lot towards the Skorne list thanks to the soul mechanics fully under Zaal’s control all game, and the limited number of living models on offer for the gators to munch on. Both players felt the scenario was rather redundant, and while they fought around and in the zones all game, neither was compelled to take risks to try and score more than they did.
This game saw an overall result similar to games seen in SR2016. A heavy attrition game that the dominating player closed out with an assassination, with a final scenario score of 3-2 in Skorne’s favour. This game was played in a similar timeframe to a comparable one under SR2016
As an aside, this was the same Minions list with the Sacral Vault being tested, which again reportedly did nothing of note the entire game, and was ignored by Zaal as unimportant.
Table 2 detailed report:
For the final pairs of the day, I got to face my anti-infantry list against Cygnar Heavy Metal on Spread the Net.
Scatter terrain deployed:
The opposing Cygnar list:
Theme – Heavy Metal
Major Markus ‘Siege’ Brisbane
– Squire [free]
Captain Arlan Strangewayes [free]
Journeyman Warcaster [free]
Lieutenant Allison Jakes [free]
Cygnar won the roll and chose the side with the wall so I got to go first.
Skorne buffs Animantarax to full range and heals it back with a single PGBH activation, leaving them stuck on the start line as before. Turtle runs to threaten flag/back of circle zone. Molik and Gladiator run towards the left zone while everything else advanced up the middle behind the forest. As there’s no infantry and Stormwall is not subject to grievous wounds Makeda decides to Vortex of Destruction herself and forego Hand of Death to keep more fury for personal use.
Cygnar advances the Hunter slightly and takes 10 boxes off of Molik. Stormwall gets its Arcane Shield and advances, while Siege and most of his jacks bunch up behind the cover of the wall.
If I close with both Molik and Glad again, then Molik dies and Gladiator ‘might’ but probably cannot kill the hunter in return my following turn. 2 Heavies for a Hunter is not worth even an attempt. So I start to move centrally with the idea to heal Molik back up and then use the forest mid- table to get right on-top of the walled up jacks. A Puppet Mastered Shaman advances to where it can Evil Eye the Squire through the forest, and spikes damage onto the shield-guarding Triumph doing 6 damage. Skorne shuffle of the Karax due to a brain melt thinking they’d be more useful contesting zones than jamming jacks and guns…
Before the turn begins proper, Triumph hits the Gladiator for 4 with its out of activation shot as he has a sliver of LOS past the edge of the forest. Cygnar moves a tiny bit – Seemed to be about half SPD on most of the jacks, then opens fire on the Gladiator. Hunter knocks out its spirit, Stormwall hits the Gladiator but kills the Exalted Guardian shield guard and drops a storm pod to contest middle zone, Triumph does the same killing the other shield guard, and after a couple more shots chipping away at the Gladiator he finally dies to the Journeyman’s hand cannon. We both score home rectangle zones each.
One opportunity to get a few scenario points so I give it a go. Karax and Shaman shuffle to make room for the Siege Animantarax who runs across the table to shield Makeda while she scores the flag. Molik uses Side Step and Fate Walker to clear out the storm pod and still get to safety behind the forest, and the Raider runs to control the right zone under the Willbreaker’s watchful eye. Soulward moves into a blind spot on the circle zone so it can be scored because there’s no where near enough infantry in the zone… Skorne get Flag, Mid and Right zones, Cygnar gets the Left.
Score 2-4 to Skorne
Hunters can move at a fair clip, so does so and gets 7 damage into Makeda. Siege feats and the Tortoise takes a tear-inducing 18 damage from Brisbane himself, and the Stormwall charges in to finish it off bouncing an electro leap harmlessly off of Makeda, and doing no damage with a storm pod in her back. Shooting on the other side of the board takes Raider from full to 0, then a Firefly runs and toes the right zone.
Score 4-5 to Skorne
Beast Handlers heal Molik to full and enrage him. Makeda runs center of the board and camps 5. Molik charges for free into the Firefly, killing it with both initials and side-stepping as far away from the Cygnar guns as he can. After the brain melts with infantry placement, they finally make their way through the forest without pathfinder and get into their zone far, far too late to make it to jamming positions in time. We both score home rectangle zones each.
Score 5-6 to Skorne
Cygnar asks what else worthwhile is there to shoot but Molik? And proceeds to do so. After a gentle soak in Cygnar regular guns, Molik dies to the first of the Stormwall’s shots, who then puts another 6 damage into the Shaman and the final storm pod has a go at killing Karax, but their high armour and tough only sees a couple of them die. Cygnar scores their home zone.
Shaman runs to toe Skorne’s home zone on the right, and the Beast Handlers surround him, medicating back to full. The writing is on the wall well and truly here and instead of a constant retreat under a Shaman transfer battery (not likely to last even with 6 medicates a turn) Makeda takes a glorious last stand and walks up to the Stormwall and teach it what-for! On the off-chance some bad rolls were coming Cygnar’s way, I saved 1 transfer, and managed to reduce the Stormwall’s right side to only 4 boxes left in the process.
Stormwall swings twice. First hit sees transfer of 11 damage to the Shaman, second hit kills Makeda.
So that happened. There was opportunity to do a lot better, but I was flustered by the matchup with unfavourable terrain, on an unfavourable scenario. Cygnar secret psychological warfare by playing their fagnambled Heavy Metal through loud speakers at the refined classical music loving Skorne found good purchase here. Upon reflection I would have far preferred going second, let alone choosing the table side, but in the end I feel it was the overall lack of central terrain that flustered me the most.
The Trouble with Terrain, but not Tribbles.
Only 2 methods were tried. Cluster, and Scatter. Scatter ended with a similar board to the ad-hoc terrain setups I’ve been seeing under SR2016 already, but worse. Cluster made for a new and fascinating board on my table at least, that caused a number of interesting game moments both to my advantage and chagrin. Observations and feelings:
One person misread the rules and thought the LOS blocking terrain had to be placed touching the center line, not the center point. This meant table 1 had the main cluster further to one side than table 2 did, where the terrain was placed as per the rules.
The results created a fascinating table that neither I nor my opponent had seen before, and we were both very excited to play on a table with 2 forests that interfered with the scenario zones. During play they both interfered with game-plans, and were integral to them for both players on different turns.
Overall, this created a very exciting table to play on, where abilities like pathfinder etc were very relevant but not strictly necessary. Care needed to be taken to ensure the first central piece of terrain was not exactly in the middle, allowing for the 2nd cluster to actually fit in an interesting way on the board so that it would have a chance of coming in to play. It didn’t for us, but with ambushing units it would have. If the first cluster had been right in the middle of the table, the 2nd cluster would have been at great risk of being forced to be irrelevant. This would be dependent on the types of terrain pieces used in each cluster.
There was no ‘rule’ for direction to place the scatter template. We elected for the “direction” to be towards the centre point of the table, then rolled mostly 4’s for the scatter directions resulting in most pieces moving further to the outside edges.The result was a very good table for a gunline despite the central forest, and whoever won the roll would get not a decent, but significant advantage over the other player.
The table looked fairly bland and evenly spaced, and there were huge empty areas of table in the battlefield that were uninteresting areas to stand in or move through.
Overall, I strongly dislike Scatter as written. It is possible a better table could be generated if we had placed the 4 pieces that were touching center of each quadrant such that the were all as far towards the actual center of the table as possible before scattering. Placing them more-or-less centered on the quadrant-centers created an uninspired table.
Scenario Scrapyards and Gamified Graveyards.
Some of these are really interesting, but more than anything the terrain layout as mentioned above impacts the most on how enjoyable these are to interact with.
The Pit II:
Great scenario that really mixed things up from the traditional formations of beasts middle, infantry flanks. Was a fun puzzle to mentally address having the zones split as they were. The layout encouraged getting things on the left/right sides of the circle to control/contest 2 zones at once, giving definitive goal locations for the lategame which both Kromac and Makeda achieved.
The objectives however felt fairly irrelevant all game. I had 1 opportunity to use Stockpile and in the heat of the moment I forgot to (inconsequential) so in this situation either of the objectives that have a buff-bubble (the 4″ area) would have been far preferrable. In that situation a piece standing on the zone edge so could potentially have been used the objective more than once. The selected objectives in this scenario proved uninteresting (both of us took Stockpile) and both remained intact the entire game, not something I have seen happen before under SR2016.
The terrain layout played a big part in this scenario and ultimately Circle won on scenario 12 points to 6 thanks to me completely forgetting to check infantry walking, and Loki drag threat ranges. 12-6 was reached after an almost 4 hour social game, on the first player’s 6th turn. Even if we were playing faster, that game would still have ended on clock with a Circle victory thanks to scenario score. If I had played smarter, it’s possible we could have played down to a Makeda3 vs Kromac2 punch up on turn 7, as that’s probably all that would have been left on the table!
The scenario (while huge fun and being very relevant all game) slowed the game down chronically while I kept nudging up my score to buy time to carve out an attrition advantage. On the clock in a tournament much more aggressive play would have been needed.
I like The Pit II, more please.
Spread the Net:
So… sadly I went into this scenario with a fairly average Makeda3 list designed against infantry and to shut down healing with grievous wounds. I ended up playing against Heavy Metal mostly behind a wall, and a Stormwall.
I know the matchup was a huge factor in this game, but the scenario I still felt was terrible. The rectangle zones were so far back that the ranged list of Cygnar just stood a few inches out of deployment scoring and shooting, while contesting the middle zone. This is all the Cygnar list needed as it was an extremely safe way to keep a narrow gap on the score-board and buy time for the guns to do their work.
While I completely misplayed my list adding to the match-skew, I still tried have a game over his back zone, and get Makeda onto the flag. The zone was so far back that running Molik and a Gladiator straight at it was exposing me to 2 full turns of shooting from most of the Cygnar list before I could guarantee the charge. After Cygnar killed my unharmed Gladiator and both shield guards in a single turn of shooting it was clearly just too big a distance to be able to push through against the guns without a lot more than a single LOS blocking piece near the midfield.
Facing death-by-metal I tried to find a way to push for a scenario win, and managed to go up to 3-1 early. As the game wore down, we passed the point where I could have won under SR2016 rules (score was 5-4 to Skorne at end of Cygnar turn 3) and ended with Makeda dying to assassination with 7-7 points on the board. I could have dragged out the game by constantly retreating Makeda along the zones to my right, but as I was destined to lose anyway Makeda went solo vs Stormwall and it was game over next turn.
This was a faster game than the first one, but much less of a game. The rectangle zones are too far back, and the flags might be in the right place for late-game use but were horribly exposed to the enemy rectangle zones to really be a meaningful element without terrain nearby to make them interesting.
I don’t want to play that Spread the Net ever again.
Blue Blistering Battle Engines!
Ahhh the War Tortoise aka Siege Animantarax. This is a really fun model to field. It is an imposing model, and the rule set it comes with gives Skorne something they have no where else – a rapidly mobile gun platform that can crank it for a turn in melee. Well, in theory. It’s clearly not supposed to be a shooty battle engine, but one that just happens to have a decent gun for the early game. Perhaps to its detriment, the gun is too good, and I could not help but put a lot of focus on trying to use the gun and its melee capability was a distant 2nd in my mind.
Two games make for a hard bow to draw on definitive statements but my observations and feelings on using the CID version:
- Unwieldy as a stand-alone add, but still can be usable. Base size means that unless list designed to support it, normal model placement interferes with its ability to leverage its speed 8 for uses other than charge distance, or first turn position.
- Easy to overextend with a 16″ Run first turn, but number of boxes mitigates the risk. 35 boxes, with unbuffed arm of 19 took a full activation of a buffed Ghetorix under Kromac2 to kill. Math of averages suggests that with +2 ARM spell or an Agonizer bubble he would survive the same charge. This feels about right.
- Volume Fire rule giving the +1 to attack as well as damage makes it great using it against heavies, especially the Circle ones. But it is odd that it is harder to use against infantry which normally have higher defense than large bases.
- ROF d3+1 is frustrating. Why should one activation be twice as good as another? Makes it extremely difficult to use both strategically and tactically. A fixed ROF# please.
- When the field is just right, being able to switch sides of the table could be fun and powerful. I tried this in the wrong situation, but it looks like one of the most fun things about it being SPD 8.
- Reposition works just right to protect from incoming charges, however it is hard to reposition correctly if surrounded by friendlies due to the base size.
- Meaningful threat on the charge is 12″ for the Club Tail which is an ok place to be, despite the fact I was facing 13-16+” threats most of the day (Circle charges, Cygnar guns) and failed to engineer a charge myself. This could stay as a 12″ threat, but I would prefer 2″ on the tail to match the spears so that it moves to an even more cavalry-like 13″ threat (matching the Ferox on the charge).
- The 2″ spears interfere with it being able to take any meaningful free strike. I’m not sure this will come up very often, but for an engine that should be focused towards melee, this is another feature that prompts trying to use it as a ranged piece.