Friday, 19 February 2016

Fast Dragon, Slow Grow Week the Final - Betrayal at the Summit

The final week of GrowFaux. Can Misaki find victory against this last opponent after her defeat at the hands of the Star Theater production? Game four is against the traitorous McCabe who finds himself between a Rock and a Dragon Place.

This game unfortunately gives full on example of why the base rule book schemes and strategies needed improving. This being a standard 50ss scheme pool meant that the easy options are revealed Breakthrough and revealed Protect Territory. You could attempt the all-or-nothing Take Prisoner, you could lay down 3 scheme markers and attempt to lure out the master into them; but lets face it, having one or two scheme runners run back field and lay down 4 markers during a game is so much easier in the long run.

Flank Deployment
A Line in the Sand
Spring the Trap
Protect Territory
Take Prisoner

I'm facing a master who simply speaking, makes his whole crew better. Being able to hand off armor,  nimble, regen +2 and a sword which ignores most common defenses; all of that on top of nasty reactivates and 4" pushes with a master who can slow and paralyze pretty much at will. Facing down a master like this will be hard work, facing down McCabe who gets what is practically an extra life when you "kill" him is just work. Like most masters out there, unless you spend all game doing so, McCabe isn't worth taking down unless you have some heavy firepower, which I do not unfortunately.
Being that I'm playing Flank Deployment with Reconnoiter and going with game standards Breakthough + Protect Territory revealed, I can play a more cagey game and select targets who have strayed too far. My opponent though can do exactly the same, this is a game that planning can only do so much in.

Misaki this time has Disguised. Stalking Bisento is great for more aggressive games but after last week, running up to the middle of the board without a plan made for a tasty Misaki Paste. I didn't need to use Disguised but being able to prevent charges on a master does limit sacrificial tar-pitting minion's threat ranges. With that I ran Untouchable as to not feel forced to down all of her soulstones in one go. To that I've added Hidden Agenda to get some extended use out of my Oiran. Loyal retainer Shang returns giving a nod of approval to the sheer amount of Last Blossoms in play but giving nothing else but an extra card in the draw step and a friendly smile. 
Misaki is joined by Old Lady Yamaziko holding the Last Blossom's Smoke and Shadows, two Torakages, two Oiran, two Komainu and a Shadow Effigy for luck. That's a count of 10 activations in a Reconnoiter game, even if it ends up being an awful idea having so many minions it'll be a great send off to have Misaki run with her thematic crew.

My opponent played a strong list of McCabe with Glowing SaberBadge of SpeedPromises. Theme standards Luna and two Wastrels joined Chiaki, a Dawn Serpent and Ototo with Recalled Training and Hidden Agenda (For the sole purpose of always having an upgrade on him for Promises Buff). So a four person team for scheme running and two heavy hitters to sweep up my 10 model advantage.

First turn I got initiative and gave the first turn to my opponent who activated McCabe, gave Dawn Serpent Reactivate, the Badge of Speed and Glowing Saber pushing him towards Yamaziko, and an Oiran. For some reason unknown to even me, I activated Shang and passed the turn...
My opponent seeing Yamaziko without Brace decided to charge in and killed her with two swings evening up the activation order. The Oiran responding by hitting the Dawn Serpent for 1 damage and a single poison setting up Unbeknownst effectively tar-pitting the Serpent. The Serpent activates again and with little else to do takes 2Ap walking out of combat and sets fire to a Komainu and dealing 1 damage to the nearby Shadow Effigy with Breathe Fire.
The Effigy used to under-utilized ability all models possess to take away the one burning from the Komainu then failed to make the stone dog Remember the Mission. The Komainu charged the Dawn Serpent dealing two lots of weak damage and Slow. Everybody else in the turn walked up to their future destinations whilst Misaki triple walked up the board ready for a 2nd turn kill.

Yeah, a lot happened turn one. Two fast masters will do this in Flank Deployment.

Second turn and my opponent gets the inititive ordering McCabe to give the Badge of Speed to Ototo and charging the Torakage placing him on 1 wound. The Torakage responding by running 12" the hell out of dodge via Agile. He then activated the slowed Dawn Serpent doing absolutely nothing to the Komainu who responded by dealing Severe damage and weak to kill the Dragon before it got the chance to reactivated. 
A Wastrel seeing his opportunity for glory focus fired his Pocket Handgun at the Torakage missing completely. Misaki activates and takes down the very same Wastrel making sure not to be within Ototo's walk and melee range. Ototo activates, discards Recalled TrainingNimbles (!) towards Misaki and discards a card for Flurry... 

Misaki dies... Like closed casket funeral dies... Like forensic scientists would have trouble identifying the corpse dies... It's a sad day for Misaki. I messed up.
Misaki's off the twig! She's kicked the bucket, she's shuffled off 'er mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!

At this point I maneuvered the rest of my crew in such a way as to at least achieve Reconnoiter whilst denying my opponent his. I also made sure to have the 1st Fast Oiran place down a scheme marker along the 2nd Komainu's marker whilst the second Oiran strode up and snatched the marker my opponent's Shadow Effigy laid down from under his nose. 

Turn three and the last turn bell rang (playing tournament standard time with 18+1 activations with Flank Deployment leads to slower turns, the more you know) The Oiran-Komainu tag team set up Protect Territory and Breakthrough whilst the remaining Torakage laid down the second Breakthrough marker guaranteeing my 7 points. My opponent re-maneuvers and kills the wounded Komainu and the center Oiran and puts down enough markers to score full Breakthrough and Protect Territory, leaving me with 4 models to his 6. Alas, the game was called and we ended a tie game 7-7.

What a fantastic way to end the Slow Grow, with such a tactical game being played out with quick murder and game turnarounds happening almost each activation it was hard to keep track of something as trivial as Reconnoiter. It was a rough game for Misaki proving that once again, when a real melee threat enters her zone, she falls down like a house of cards in a hurricane next to 10 excitable puppies.
Using Oiran for the first time and I'm really impressed by their scheme running abilities. Being able to tar-pit enemies by frankly telling them "Go somewhere else" on top of their upgrade giving them easy access to Fast (So long as the holder doesn't die second turn), being hard to hunt down with Defensive Stance and Disguised. They make fantastic scheme runners in the same vein as Firestarter. I really enjoyed using them this game.
The Komainu once again proving that they can dish out some real hurt with Wp attacking slow and burning triggers on their attacks. They sometimes wiff their defense rolls, Df4 being the worst thing about them but when they do a job right, they go above and beyond.

My opponent showed me why McCabe is just so fun to play with and against. Being able to selectively give benefits to pushed targets and Reactivating your favorite minion is hard but fair to face across the table and really gave the Dawn Serpent an extra reason to be a real threat on the table. It was great fun and a master I look forward to facing again.

So we close the book on the Slow Growth of Misaki. Quite frankly she is a ton of fun and really very deadly when she's given the opportunity to be. Alas my problem with her and Ten Thunders Masters in general is that my current collection of models within the Thunder's faction is lacking in ways to deal with some threats out there outside of avoiding it or having only the master being able to take care of priority targets. If I'm facing armor or pushers then I only have Kang (if they are Constructs) and the Guild Pathfinder to deal with them (If I get the trigger), whilst my options in Arcanist are a lot more pronounced.

The only downside to "Growfaux" was my first two games being landslide victories, not to fault my opponents of course but I never really got to see Misaki in a even game because everything was so much in Misaki's favor. Then my third week's game being a testament to my own illusion of Misaki's toughness had her mashed into paste. The final week was where I saw Misaki's true potential being a hunter of minion/enforcer models but even then my complete lack of positioning skill lead once again to her quick demise. I'm simply not used to fragile masters, Ironsides takes a whole crew to take down, Rasputina doesn't get into combat or murders those that do, Yan Lo is nigh un-killable in 5 turns and even Mei Feng takes a lot longer to take down if only due to her Leap Aside trigger. Misaki being basically dead in 3-5 decent attacks is a 180 of what I expect in a masters survivablity. And when I fear for my master's life to a 2/4/6 damage track on any given turn, I end up making either bad plays or ballsy plays hoping a defensive stance will be enough (It isn't).

I think for the time being, my Ten Thunders experience will have to be postponed until I find myself in the Ten Thunders mindset. That is, having models who won't last to a round of good ol' fashioned beating. TT have models that can do almost every role except stand still and tank hits and unfortunately, I'm currently in the mind set of assuming a model will be around for a turn and a half of non-master attacks. We all have a playstyle. Mine is having models that stay on the table unless I kill them myself.

Have a great game and have fun out there.

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