Game 4 vs Mat playing Skorne – Zaal
You know you’re playing members of a different meta when you set your army down and their reaction is unexpected. For a little while I was the only player playing Protectorate in Dublin, and I am not one to strike fear into my opponents’ hearts. So when I put them down and Mat’s reaction is “Oh great, Menoth!” it’s a bit of an eye-opener. We haven’t met before so we have a little talk. Mat is from the North, and plays Skorne and Protectorate, and is thinking of playing Convergence. Today, though, it’s Skorne, which is not a faction I have much experience against since all our local Skorne players keep selling off the faction wholesale to each other every three months.
I’ve been hearing about Mat’s Rasheth list all day, which has five or six Titans and sounds like tons of fun (hah). He puts down Zaal however. Looking over his Zaal list, it has Nihilators, Incendiarii, Tiberion, Hakaar, Ancestral Guardians, an Extoller Soulward, a Basilisk Something-or-other and the Bog Trog Shamblers. I haven’t played against Zaal, the Incendiarii or the Shamblers before, but the green book comes out and it says that Kreoss3 will answer all my worries!
The scenario is Fire Support. In this round, Mike hands out special objective markers, matching the two players’ faction, which he made himself specially for this tournament. As well as being really cool, these have the added benefit of making it clear which objective is friendly and which is your enemy.
The middle of this table is open, with a vertical (i.e. the ends of it point at me and Mat) hill beside his objective, a forest to the left of my objective, and a wall halfway up his side of the table on the left. I win the roll and pick the side I’m on, unwilling to leave the chair I’ve scavenged from another table, and thinking that I can nuke the objective and score early with this table setup.
Mat goes first, and he runs his Nihilators up to range across the middle ground between the objectives. Everything else moves up more slowly behind these guys, apart from the Incendiarii who move up onto the long hill in preparation for advancing and firing on me in subsequent turns.
The new routine with this list is to put Holy Ward on the Vengers and run them up. Def 14 is surprisingly more survivable than Def 12. They run up onto the hill across from the Incendiarii to prepare to charge them next turn and generally muck things up. The Flameguard run up, using their Iron Zeal ability to achieve some level of survivability before dying horribly to the Nihilators. The Reclaimer feels a bit surplus to requirements in this game thanks to Zaal’s soul-hogging, but he moves up into the fray anyway. The three warjacks move up the middle, and the Choir sings the song of Warding on them. After putting Holy Ward on the Vengers, Kreoss moves up a bit behind the wall of warjacks and regrets forgetting to cast Warpath.
This is the turn that the Nihilators find out how annoying Temple Flameguard can be. Yes, they get the charge off, but Def 15 versus charges means they need above-average rolls to get the hit in, which unfortunately Mat wasn’t seeing. Of course any of the Nihilators who did get to hit made short work of their victims, still had to cope with the ARM 17. Still, they killed two or three of them, enraging the Fire of Salvation. The Incendiarii fire off their guns at the Vengers, killing one of them and making the rest more or less impervious to more shooting. The Ancestral Guardians charge a Flameguard each, one of them gets the kill and as a result gets another kill. The other misses his charge attack because Mat’s casino dice are fickle. The Shamblers spread out behind the Nihilators, ready to overwhelm my lines in another turn or two. Tiberion moves up to my left, ready to charge my objective next turn perhaps.
In my Maintenance Phase, the fervid Fire of Salvation moves and smacks a Nihilator. It is still a hair in Kreoss’ control area, so he gets 3 focus and will hopefully go hog wild. The Vengers charge, two of them charge the Incendiarii while the other two charge the objective, and between Divine Inspiration and Battle-Driven they destroy it. Kreoss moves up and sits on the objective…and forgets to cast any of his spells or feat. I blame tiredness. So the Fire of Salvation does attack and destroy the Ancestral Guardian, but can’t do anything else because he doesn’t have Warpath. Also he can’t do anything against the resulting Kovaas with no magic weapon, because as I say, “Fire of Salvation has virtually none of the abilities people think he should”. The Flameguard activate, get into Shield Wall, and do a few CMAs to clear the Nihilators in front of them. As I go to move the other warjacks, I realise that each of them has a Flameguard in front of them, both are too far away from the unit leader to do anything next turn. This is due to me sitting down. Be warned, nothing good ever comes from sitting down! Anyway they move up to be useful next turn, the Reckoner in the middle of the Nihilators, and the Templar on the right across from an Ancestral Guardian, and I have scored 3 points this turn.
Now that he’s surmised this is a live scenario, Mat runs his Shamblers over to flood the 4” space around the flag. Once he has moved them, he realises the two closest are out of the bokor’s command, which seems like useful information! Tiberion charges the Fire of Salvation and totals him, getting a Crit Smite with his charge attack but wisely choosing not to take it and so just smacking the warjack apart with his tetsubo. So I’m one warjack down! The Nihilators keep grinding away at the Flameguard, who are more vulnerable now that they’re not charging. ARM 17 is still an issue but they manage to kill the unit Officer, and guess where the unit leader is. That’s right, he was one of those laggards stuck in front of my warjacks last turn. So yeah, he doesn’t need to worry about free strikes from the other six Flameguard anymore! Free from this worry, they move up and attack the Reckoner, but its Ashen Veil frustrates them. MAT 6 troops, who’d have ‘em?? Hakaar and the remaining Ancestral Guardian go to town on the other Flameguard, and I still can’t collect souls because of Zaal’s bubble. The Incendiarii attack the Vengers right in front of them but just do the damage to enrage them rather than destroy them.
Now it’s my task to get rid of these Shamblers. I give 2 focus to the Reckoner, who is in the middle of the Nihilator scrum, and 3 focus to the Templar. I finally remember to feat with Kreoss, who casts Warpath on himself, Ignite on the Vengers, Death Sentence on the Shamblers, and Holy Ward on the Templar because he has no other target. Then he rides up, smashes a Shambler to the ground and…it Toughs. Okay, that’s fine, Kreoss moves back to the objective still on 2 focus. Thus begins a hilarious sequence of events where I throw about 16 points of my army at trying to clear 4 of these Shamblers who are about…what, 2 ½ points? I finally seem to be out of options, there’s one Shambler left. He’s knocked down, he’s on fire, but he’s in command range of the bokor so he’s causing problems. I have a lightbulb moment and re-read the Assault rule on the back of the Reckoner, and grab Mike who is standing by so he can check. A Reckoner in melee can charge and Assault a model even if he doesn’t end up in melee with them and fails the charge. So the Reckoner, from the max range of 12” away, assaults this poor Shambler, boosting to hit just in case, kills him (which I’ve done about three times by now!) and Mat fails his Tough check. 5 points to me, and game.
A few lessons learned in this game! One, this probably isn’t the best list to be playing when I’m tired and/or hungover. The pivotal nature of Kreoss’ activation means that it needs all my attention, and I tend to get carried away when I feel like I’m doing well. Forgetting to feat is pretty unforgivable! The second lesson is that Bog Trog Shamblers are a bit of a nightmare. I’d definitely be targeting the Witch Doc Croc if we did this match-up again, that Tough is heinous.
Overall I think my list did extremely well in this game, the Temple Flameguard proved very survivable even without Holy Ward. I just need to remember where they all are! The Vengers with Holy Ward keep surprising me with how much longer they live. My best move in this game was realising that assassination was never going to be an option, something I’ve always focussed on too much in the past.
I’m pretty pleased! Two good victories under my belt, one very close defeat, and a game which if I played it again I’m convinced I could do better. Not bad at all. In this tournament I feel like I’ve finally gotten to grips with the Kreoss3 list, realising that almost everything is expendable because Kreoss can do so much by himself, and it’ll still take my opponent three or four turns to get through the army. I still have to work out the kinks with my Kreoss1 list, in particular the Vessel of Judgement requires more practice and finesse.
With this last victory, my record for the tournament is 2-2, my best result for 2014. I’ve upheld my resolution for 2014 at Nordicon at least! I’ve had a great time, and because both my armies are fully painted I get entered in the painting draw and win a Gastone Crosse. Score! Thanks to Mike for organising a great tournament (the largest ever in the North!), and to my opponents Stuart, VagrantPoet, Adam and Mat for some great games. Definitely looking forward to Nordicon next year.
The Voyage Home
It’s been a long day, it’s pushing 8 o’clock by the time all of our games finish and the closing ceremony is done and dusted. We take a while to get back on the right road to Dublin, mostly because in Belfast the motorway is a wily beast that appears only when you perform the proper devotions to the Road God.
On the way back down we have some great chat about Rask, mad plans for collecting other factions, and how the rest of the summer is shaking out for tournaments. A long day, and a great trip! Thanks to Noel for the lift, fingers crossed next time I’ll be able to drive myself and pass it forward.
Thanks for reading guys, see you next time.