Saturday, 12 December 2015

Derailed - Improvement Works may Delay this Journey

Out of all the base strategies, Reconnoiter is my absolute favorite to play.
Turf War is a rush to the 6" outskirts to then do the old west shoot-out, Reckoning is dull when killing dudes was what folks were planning on doing anyway, Stake a Claim comes up very rarely and when it does it turns into Insanity Breakthrough and Squatter's Rights? Actually I really enjoy Squatter's Rights as well, I'm just not very good at it.

Reconnoiter simply excels at giving me everything I want in a game. Model positioning, being aware of every model in the game and thinking about what actions to take based on the enemies own movements. Reckoning and Turf War? It's a clash in the middle whilst scheme runners are praying no one takes heed of them whilst Squatters, despite my enjoyment of it regardless, is much the same: Run the center line, split some wigs.
Recon on the other hand turns the game into a tense battle of wits as melee and ranged attack actions carry very real weight when it comes to turn end to tally up table quarters. It's a great kind of tension when you think you've got it all worked out then realized all too late you've got yourself a model standing on a quarter line or the dead zone with nothing to show for it. Rasputina is a straight-up cold-hearted killer in Recon and Ironsides is a Super Massive Black Hole of split lips and bruised bones that no-one can escape. If I had a choice, Recon Corner deployment every time.

Mei Feng, when it comes down to it, is pretty much a good all-rounder in either Ten Thunders or Arcanists when it comes to strategies. She has decent killing potential and given correct positioning can really lay on the death of a thousand fists when required. She's also mobile enough to be where you need her to be. In Quarters Control she can move to different zones with ease and ensure that each zone is taken care of.

That is until summoners start playing ball in her court.

In West Philadelphia, Undead I raised...

I've never gotten on with Summoners. Perhaps it just isn't my style of play but having a group of models hired solely to bring other models into play seems backwards when you can  hire those very same models at the start and avoid all the faff. That said I have seen first hand what well played summoners can do to a game state, be it weight of numbers or having the right tool for the job for the price of a card (and possibly a Stone). Being able to out-activate an opponent early or mid-game is something no-one should ever dismiss as an advantage, having that same advantage pop up where you really don't need a model popping up, blocking charge lanes and LOS, is the reason why I respect Summoners but also loathe to play against them or with them. I have enough experience using cards effectively in a normal crew but adding in the typically high cost of summoning and spending 2-3 model's activations to do it, I could see myself with 2 great models on board but with no control hand to keep them alive.

Having models bamf in where ever their master wants is obviously a hugely effective tool to have in Recon, in the past, the golden olden days, back in my time, back when I was your age in the yesteryear, before your time, this didn't pose as much as a problem as it does in my modern malifaux, ya gosh-darn young people. Playing blast masters or masters that can lure/change positions of other models means that so long as the death count remains high, I was staying level with each play without going on the backpedal too often. A summoner would summon and I would either kill them dead or place them in a zone that wouldn't score any additional points.

Arcanist Mei Feng cannot do this.

Oh she can get to neighboring zones and layth down the smackth-down, which is fine against non-summoners in Reconnoiter games but the moment the bodies that hit the floor rebound back up like Sir Edwardo Mole-De-Whack, she can't keep up the pace. This isn't so much a weakness in Mei Feng being able to drop models, she can, it's the way she goes about it. Yes I'm throwing out 3x the Ap but that's 3x the amount of chances to get a bad flip I need to cheat or begging the black joker to rear it's head. When Feng zeros in on a model that needs to fly heavenward, she does so by Kensiro's Hundred Crack Fist rather than One Punch Man's...err, Punch. When the dust settles and that beating is replied with "I summon in a new dude" Mei Feng is sent back to square one with less cards and less soulstones. At this juncture she's regulated to Enforcer status for all the good her combination attacks do for the game as a whole and her crew has to do what they were doing anyway, but without a master.

As I've repeated many times, focusing on a single master will result in these things happening, I wouldn't bring Yan Lo to a game against Armor or pushes, I wouldn't bring Mei Feng to a summoning Recon unless they are the only master in my box and I'm knuckling down and rolling with the wave.

I had a grudge match against Mollusq earlier this week. He too has been focusing on one master: Collodi; if you check out his youtube channel you will see a similar story of making mistakes, experimenting with models and upgrades and generally becoming better through those trials and errors. Right now, he is a BEAST with Collodi and if at any point you happen to have a match against him, he will give you an amazing game with the sportsmanship and laughs you expect from a tabletop gamer. He and I first met in a hardcore henchman event and have fought once before when I was playing Yan Lo. Our match this time was:

Reconnoiter w/
A Line in the Sand (Myself, declared)
Protect Territory (Both, declared)
Distract (Mollusq)
Murder Protege

Full report here

My list was:
Mei Feng w/ Seismic Claws, Arcane Reservoir and Imbued Energies
In retrospect, I should have taken Thunderous Smash over Imbued Energies but at the time there was only one main marker based scheme. Looking back, being able to delete those scrap markers Collodi was summoning from would have been a boon. I live and learn.

3ss incorporeal scheme runner, basically as a body who could run up to the center line and take more than one hit.

2x Coryphee
Speed and killing potential against a crew that doesn't have anti-armor was my idea here.

2x Fire Garmin
Wk5 and a good shooting action giving me some range and burning if needed

2X Metal Garmin
I knew I was facing constructs and against those same automatons, Metal Garmin are golden. They may have been nurfed but Magnetism cannot be ignored when your facing 4Wd puppets.

2x Mole Men
With my choice of schemes, I decided that littering the field with markers would help. Looking back now, the terrain wasn't on my side and the Mole Train is better suited for Plant Evidence and Breakthrough rather than Pro-Terri and LITS.

I was going for weight of numbers. In hindsight, with the speed of the Coryphee and long range magnetism of the Metal Garmin, I should have taken Murder Protege and taken out his own Coryphee with ease scoring full points by as early as turn 2 and as you see from Mollusq's bat rep, Distract would have been at the very least Zero sum had I taken it. At that point I could have focused on either a draw game or at least walking models into scoring zones and going defensive.
The thing is, my game plan in Recon (and one I now know is losing me more games than it's winning) is to be more defensive and force my opponent to over-extend to deal with my models, thus why I chose two schemes that didn't force me to interact with the enemy or go much past the center line. Which was a super massive mistake that leads to, at best draw games, or at worst, allowing my opponent to focus on a mere percentage of my crew rather than all of it.

Onto the game, I'll allow my opponents Bat rep to speak for the highlights but as for why I was doing what I was doing, well:

* The Coryphee were supposed to make a break for the center and drop a scheme marker then pair up and cause general mayhem, what actually happened was one getting too close to the Collodi fire and, not wanting to lose the capacity to obtain the duet, made me panic and pair them up earlier than intended. I then wasted all potential they had by hiding some more, getting distracted, removing it and then running to the hills. 3 turns of doing nothing with a 14ss model! It's lucky I'm not getting paid to be this dumb. Fear is the mind-killer ladies and gents. Had I had more faith in their survival due to high armor and auto-focus defensive I would have played them better, OR had them never pair up at all and do what they needed to individually. I've played the Coryphee about 5 times by this point and I seriously need to learn to use them properly.

*The Molemen ideally would have jumped from the spot they were shown to be stuck in and leap-frogged across the centerline. Even now, this was a terrible idea, the terrain sucked for this and doubly stupid of me since I was the one who set up the terrain prior to this game! Instead they were stuck in place and spent the game attacking (why?) then running away much too late to be of any use basically giving away distract points as they stood there removing it and getting re-distracted...

*Mei Feng herself, quite frankly did not have a plan for Mei Feng. With Mollusq placing models with keen-eyed perfection I couldn't get any decent combos off and pretty much spent the whole game with Feng trying in vain to swat away at high wound models that weren't interacting with my models. Had I taken Assassinate and more than two Metal Garmin, I could have at least focused on Collodi and stopped the summoning machine but even with getting him down to 2 Wds by end game, it was hard work. Had I been more conservative with Mei Feng I could have leaded a hand in removing the Effigies from the Molemen, freeing them up to do what I intended them to do or at the very least ignored Distract and entered each turn with full Ap.

Distract was the main Faux-Pas this game for me and a massive lesson in what it does. Mollusq played it was ease knowing that his numerous, hard to take out in one hit puppets (with Fast) would be in, or get into, combat to hand it out. It shut down two TWO 3Ap models because I was desperately trying to win both LITS and remain competitive in table quarters but alas the plate balancing fell to the ground with an audible shatter. Taking it myself would have lead to either himself doing what I did (spending 2ap taking it off) or ignoring it resulting in Zero Sum allowing me to focus on the other 7Vp.

Line in the Sand I've learned from now on to not be so hasty to take just because it's there. It's been a critical reason for defeat in both of my games with Mollusq and a massive drain on resources when I have won it. 2ap max if un-revealed with FOUR markers down in a very narrow space, 1ap if revealed and I happen to only have two markers. It takes a lot of work and unless I have Wk6 standard across 4 models and they are hardy enough to kill whatever comes near (essentially removing them from the game), it's all too easy end game for an opposing model to stroll over and pick ONE up to take away 2vp. Let's assume the Mole Train had delivered it's scheme marker cargo across the centerline for example. How hard would it have been for a Marionette to walk over and pick exactly one undefended scheme marker up? Not very hard at all really. Thus spending a whole game to earn 1Vp. I have to ban myself from ever choosing it again at this rate, Killing a master is easier!

I digress, it was a great game as so long as I learn from these silly mistakes and make my game better from it, I will benefit greatly from these crushing defeats and come back stronger so long as I remember these lessons. 

Time to get this train back on the tracks and repair those dud rails. Have fun out there. 

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