onsdag 5. september 2012

Steamroller tactics with Cygnar

I know I'm not the most experienced player around, but I've got a few tournaments under my belt now and I thought I should just write down my thoughts on how I build and pay a Cygnar army.

Before I start, I'm not going to be writing about Haley. She is amazingly good, but I don't play her a lot, since I don't find her all that fun to play with.

Victory conditions

First off, there are three ways to win. Attrition, Scenario and Assassination. My take on this is usually to play for attrition first. It's fine to play for scenario win or assassination as well, and if I see an opening, well, then why not go for it. The problem is that a cunning opponent with an intact army can almost always deny the scenario or assassination win. So, to land the scenario win or secure the assassination, I prefer to focus on removing the enemy army first.

Denying the opponent

To to win on attrition, I have to deny the opponent the assassination or scenario win.

The best way of denying an assassination win is simply staying out of range. If his assassination threat range is 19", and I'm 20" away, that's it. He just can't do it. I play Nemo2 a lot, and I rarely have him assassinated, unless I have already lost the attrition game.

The best way of denying a scenario win is to have something hard to destroy to contest the scenario. My personal favourite is Centurion with Fail Safe or Arcane Shield. It has survived both double Vanquishers and a Madrak2 and Mulg tag team. Yes, there are ways to take it out, but quite often I find that the opponent don't have them - especially if I take out Eyriss2 or enemy debuffers. The other option is tarpits. I don't have Boomhowlers yet, though having met them a few times I can say they rock. Just keep Greygore back so he doesn't get killed. Sword Knights with Rhupert are pretty good option... 13/19 with Arcane Shield and Tough is hard to shoot away, throw in Alexia and the Risen as well and I have 30+ bodies for a measly 13 points, enough for a really long grind.

Improving the attrition

Cygnar is very much a combined arms faction. Use this to pressure the opponent. Hunters, Defenders and Black 13 / Gun Mages are great for pressuring the opponent by taking out things at range. I try to position troops so that he can't engage everything, and if possible back up my melee units so that he has to run to engage or suffer extra rounds of shooting. I usually try to move sideways or circle to stop the enemy melee army from engaging me with everything he has. I cannot stay away forever in scenario play, but this can buy extra turns of shooting this way. I usually try to pivot in such a way that I'm standing with my tarpit on wherever the opponent needs to be to win, and circle with my ranged troops behind them.

Staggering the formation is a really good way to attrition better. I fail to do this all the time, it's often so tempting to try to deal the maximum amount of damage each turn. But, I find that I invariably get screwed by double-attack feats, additional die feats or charging Weapon Masters or things to that effect when I do it. Reach infantry is the best for this, but Cygnar does not have a lot of cheap reach infantry. But just putting some models in his charge range and more further back out of his charge range will force me opponent to choose between not charging (and eating more bullets) or charging (and eating the countercharge).

I always consider bringing Rhupert, he's the #1 attrition piece in the game. Tough gives in effect 50% more models, and his other abilities are really good too. Alexia and the Risen is also a very good attrition unit, if I can keep her alive.

If I can, I kill his support. Support is expensive, and it is there to improve army efficiency. Removing it does a lot more damage than removing troops.

Army composition

First off, Cygnar needs mercs. Playing pure Cygnar is fluffy and fun, but if I want to win I need to have the best tools. A lot of those tools are mercs. Use them.

I try to not bring more jacks than I can support. Most jacks have awful damage output unless they have Focus. Even if I'm playing a Jack caster which does nothing for infantry, like Nemo2, it's usually a good idea to bring some self-sufficient units to tarpit the enemy, block charge lanes and gum up his army while I get into position. If I'm playing a non-Jack caster then I will often just bring one jack. Rowdy, Defender, Stormclad and Centurion are good overall choices. I don't bring an Arc Node unless I really have spells I need to arc. I can 'arc' Chain Lighting or AOE abilities by hitting my own troops, so I just run in a Risen or Sword Knight or whatever and shoot him in the back. It's much, much cheaper than 6 points for a Lancer, and he was probably a Protectorate spy anyway.

I also try to not bring more support than I really need. Support usually has really bad damage output per point put into it, and the more support the less there is for the support to, well, support. In larger games damage (or defense) multipliers get better. Gorman, Rhupert, Journeyman, Rheinholdt and Eyriss2 are very good pieces there. In smaller games I would consider trying to get by with little or no support, and just go for the large body count.

Gun Mages are really that good. I bring the UA, even if I don't marshal anything to him. The ability to pick off stealth solos, whittle down high def / stealth infantry, or push things out of range or away from objectives is invaluable in scenario play. I try to spread them out and stagger them so I don't get them all engaged or killed in one go... having a couple left to push things out of zones can mean a lot in the end game.

I try to have something against everything. Cygnar is good at building toolboxes, maybe more so that any other faction, and this is a strength I think I should play to. In multi-list formats, it's OK to have weaknesses as long as the other lists can compensate. Otherwise, I aim to have the following:

- A way to deal with high defense (17+). Some examples are Electroleaps, Black 13, Thunderhead with movement tricks, Gun Mages + Rangers, Stormcallers.
- A way to deak with high armor (20+). Some examples are double Hunters, Melee Jacks with threat manipulation, debuffers like Ragman, Aiyana, Gorman, and Eyriss2.
- A tarpit, or I will be Steamrolled. Boomhowler is the best, but Sword Knights and Alexia are also good. I hear Forge Guard are a good pick as well, but I've never tried them.

General advice

I try to play a lot of games with my army. I try to replace one unit at a time, if I feel that something is weak. I'm too busy to get lots of games every week, but I usually try to get into a few extra games before a tournament, so that I have everything fresh in mind when playing.

Oh, and Caine2 is awesome. Seriously, if you haven't tried him, you must. He's shoots like a ten point unit, he is a blast to play, and attritions well. He's also completely broken in low point games. I try to keep him as far forward as I can without getting him killed (Gorman helps a lot with this). This gives the opponent major headaches with his caster placement.

Also, feel free to ignore anything I wrote. Theorymachine and reading strategy advice is no substitute for experience, and it's clear to me that there are many other ways to win in this game than the way I prefer to play.

DM 2012 - Painting competition

The pictures of the armies and entries in the Danish Masters 2012 painting competition have been posted on the Battlegroup.dk forums. There is some really good stuff here!

Pia won the individual warrior model competition with this amazing Widowmaker:

Fantastic shading on that one!

Roar won the Warjack / Warbeast competition:

Also a beautiful piece, with a very nice color scheme.

Roar even made a picture of each army. Here's the picture of my Cygnar:

I see the closeups are of my all time MVP models, Centurion, Caine2 and Thunderhead. How did he know? :D

All Danish Masters 2012 posts:

mandag 3. september 2012

DM 2012 - Wrap up

This was a fantastic weekend.

First off, a big thank you to Stephan Garmark for inviting me to stay at his place. Stephan is an awesome guy, we went out for beers every evening and talked about life in general, and Warmachine in particular. Enjoy the rest of the Aquavit, and I hope you can come crash at my place for the Norwegian championship! :D

Second, the chef at the venue was amazing. Lots of really tasty food, and plenty of it. I hear you just do it for fun... Thank you!

Third, Bo! The tournament was really well organized. Good terrain, booklets with the scenarios, plenty of time to play the games with food breaks between every game. Everything went silky smooth. Well done!

Fourth, the Danish Warmachine players. The Danes are just so relaxed and friendly, even in a  Masters game they were generally very nice, pointing out if you really intended to not activate a model, and let you take back minor mistakes. It was clear that people were there for a nice weekend and not just for the game. I'd love to come back and play more games with you guys (and one gal) in the future, and I look forward to seeing some of you in January!

I also have to comment on the quality of the painting, most of the armies were pretty good, and some were extremely well painted. Especially those Menoth in the last game. Damn, I wish I could paint that well!

Here are the Danish Masters 2012 Results on Battlegroup.dk.

All Danish Masters 2012 posts:

DM 2012 - Game 5 - Nemo2 vs Feora2

I was rather worried about taking Caine2 and all his expensive solos against Feora2. Jacks burn a whole lot slower than Gun Mages! So, Nemo2 it is.

The list:

(From memory, and I don't know Menoth well...)

Feora (Martin K)
-bonded redeemer
10 errants + UA
6 zealots + UA
2x vassals
covenant of menoth

The game:

I had a forest in most of my deployment zone. This forced me to put my jacks on the left outside the forest, gun mages on the right. Rhupert and sword knights in the middle.
He put Zealots on the right, jacks and Feora in the middle, Errants in front.

I run up and cast Fail Safe on the Centurion and Force Field on myself.
He runs up.

I shoot away half of his Errants and put Polarity on Thunderhead and Lighting Shroud on the Ironclad.
He kills all my Stormcallers - I had forgotten about Hunter. Eyriss zaps the Ironclad.

I feat. Arlan boosts the Ironclad, which splats Eyriss. Thunderhead pulses away most of his remaining Errants. Centurion reaches one of his heavies, which enlivens away. Damn! Fortunately it enlivens in a bad direction, it could have gotten Thunderhead the next turn.

His two heavies fail to kill the Centurion, which was a bit of bad luck. He feats, but there are few things burning. it just kills a couple of Sword Knights.

Centurion wrecks a heavy. Ironclad puts some damage on the Reckoner. Thunderhead pulses away most of the remaining support.
He finally kills my Centurion.

I run with my Gun Mages and box in his jack so it cannot Enliven, I rust, and then wreck it with the Ironclad. Thunderhead pulses away more stuff. Triple Pulse! First time ever. Only Feora and a light left.

I run to capture a Control Point with Gorman, and the Gun Mages contest the far zone.
He kills my Gorman with Feora. I have less than a minute left!

The result:

I run out of time and lose. I think it's about turn 7 at this point. A sad loss, after having decisively crushed his army. Three more minutes and it would have been a sure win!

Lesson learnt: Agonize less and roll more dice! This loss could easily have been avoided if I had played a bit faster.

Total score for me: 2-3, and 3 control points.

Edit: I've been informed my opponent was Martin K.
Edit: And he has provided me with the correct army list. Thanks!

DM 2012 - Game 4 - Caine2 vs Stryker2

This is an interesting matchup. Two casters that want to get personal and do the job themselves, with similar very long threat ranges. I envision a lot of jockeying for position and trying to set up the assassination.

If I remember correctly, Lars' other list had Stormwall, which is no fun for Nemo2. So, I pick Caine.

The list: 

Stryker2 (Lars Kriegler)
- Rowdy
- Stormclad
- Squire
10 Stormguard
8 Stormblades + UA


The game:

I moved up, he moved up, I started shooting stuff.

He cleared out most of the Risen and two of the Gun Mages with his Stormblades.

I proceeded to clear the right zone.

On his feat I did manage to have most of my stuff far enough away to avoid getting hit twice. So, it did not do very much damage. He got Eyriss with his Stormclad, though, which is a bad. I really wanted to keep her alive for focus stripping.

I killed his clad and almost all his remaining infantry. At this point I was clearly winning the attrition war. So, my opponent decides to go for it. Unfortunately, he has boxed in Stryker too well, so he doesn't get all that much out of Corbeau.

The result:

But, just how far away is Caine from Stryker? It turns out, a bit too far away.
The game ends when Rowdy pushes Stryker, Stryker tries to charge one of his own models to get near Caine, but ends up 3 inches away after Velocity... One inch off! He waves his sword in the air. I move up a Ranger, shoot him with B13, blind him with Gorman, Harm him, feat, and he dies with 6 focus left on Caine... Hey, it's Overkill, but that's the way Caine rolls! :D

It was a good game, and my opponent was a really fun guy!

It's now 2-2. Am I above average or below average? Soon, we will know.

DM 2012 - Game 3 - Nemo2 vs Kreoss2

I have not played much against Protectorate, so I was very unsure about what to pick. I felt that I would have problems keeping him away with my shooty list, so I went for melee and hoped my longer threat ranges would work to my advantage. If I remember correctly the other list was Kreoss1, and auto knockdown is no fun against Gun Mages.

It looks like I forgot to take photos in this one... we were using my phone for the timer... :D

The list:

Kreoss2 (Michael Ottesen)
- Fire of Salvation
3x 6 Knights Exemplar
2x 5 Bastions
Exemplar Seneschal

The game:

He went first and ran.
I moved up and shot a few Exemplars.
He moved further up.
I shot some more guys and engaged him, so he could reach now most of my stuff. Not a good move! I also killed his jack with my Ironclad.
He feated and went medieval on my army, killing a lot.
By this time I was rapidly losing the attrition war. But, Kreoss was far forward.
We had one more turn, my Centurion was boxed in. Nemo was engaged in melee with Gravus. But... Kreoss was 7.5 inches away from Nemo, over a wall. Could I do it?

The result:

I used my Gun Mages to push Gravus away and open a line to Kreoss. I Energized for one, walked over the wall taking a free strike, but I missed twice! This left him at about 8 boxes. It was a long shot, but really it was my only option.

Then Nemo got hammered to pieces...

I have to start to remember to not present my entire army to opponents with crazy damage feats! I do this all the time, instead of staggering my formations.

It was a fun game, and my opponent was a friendly and relaxed guy.

I'm down 1-2... but there is always beer. :D

DM 2012 - Game 2 - Nemo2 vs Kraye

Long jack threat ranges and even longer jack threat ranges. Who will hit first?

The list:

Kraye (Michael Glerup)
- Cyclone
- Stormclad
- Rowdy
- Minuteman
- Squire.
3 Stormlances
Black 13

The game:

This game unfortunately went rather one-sided after my opponent thought too hard, messed up his turns with some bad moves, and had some bad luck as well. So I'll just give the highlights.

Gun mages got Terror, and the Storm lances failed their command check when charging them,  splitting the unit in two and essentially putting them out of the game.

Cyclone got Full Tilt and charged out of his lines into one of my jacks, doing little damage. He told me the plan was to throw my jack away... but that can't be done after a charge.

I proceeded to kill the Cyclone.

He had to move Rowdy up to contest, so I dismantled him too. Also I dismounted Laddermoore. At this point he had lost a lot and I had lost almost nothing. It was really all over.

The result:

The game ended with me moving up to Pulse at Kraye and Black 13, finishing Kraye off with boxcars on a Stormcall. I guess I should have grinded for control points, but well.

Michael was a really friendly guy, and I felt rather bad for him afterwards... I know how annoying it is to overthink and then mess up. I hope we can get a rematch some time!

DM 2012 - Game 1 - Caine2 vs Haley1

I chose my Caine2 list, since my Nemo2 list is pretty bad against Stormwalls. I was wondering if my strategy would work. Turns out, it didn't work all that well...

The list:

Haley1 (Søren Husum).
Storm Strider
2 Stormcaller
4 Mechanics
10 Precursor + UA

Reinforcements: Gorman, Hunter, Storm Tower. 

My opponent was a very skilled and gracious player, I really enjoyed the game even if I got my ass handed to me in short order.

The game:

He moved up.

I shot the Strider with the Hunter and killed the repair leader with Magic Bullet. Rangers got Blur.

Some of my stuff got zapped by the Strider. His reinforcements cleared out my Risen.

I killed the Storm Strider with Rowdy and moved my Sword Knights into the zone.
I killed most of his reinforcements.

He shot more of my stuff. Precursors were winning against the Sword Knights.

The time came to try to kill the Stormwall. Unfortunately, I forgot about Arcane Vortex. So, Harm failed, and Shield Guard meant I could not strip the Arcane Shield, which would give it too much armor. So, I shot away the Sentinel instead.
He responded by podding both Gorman and Aiyana, serves me right for putting them in a line... :D. By this time I had nothing to kill the Stormwall with.

The result:

I lost on running out of time, but the game was lost anyway.

Haley1 brick is hard to kill, dammit! Especially against such a good player. I wish I had brought Ragman instead of Arlan, I needed even more debuffs with all those defenses. Maybe I should have tried to flank around it, I don't know. It was a good game, even though I was crushed.

So, now I'm 0-1 and hungry for a victory!