Tick Tock, tick tock!
Tick tock goes the clock, and as the wheels of your mind slowly grind into action before reaching the penultimate whirring of a plan – you look across only to see that you are now five minutes into your time, and with a thump like a shotgun your heart pounds into action as your each down with a clarity and force of action to move that first piece – the first domino that will unravel your opponent for good!
Last weekend I played in my first ever death clock event, I was looking really excited to this for a number of reasons not least of which being that I haven’t been able to play in anything organised for the last three or so months. Due to the long lapse between events I was actually rather torn as to what to take in. There were a number of competing forces within me, do I take RET and take the high road, drop a gear and zoom ahead with Skorne and even then which casters to take – what did I think the field would be like, who would play well into the death clock format. In the end, what it came down to was that I overslept on the morning and instead of having time to put my raider and Nihlators together I quickly grabbed my RET bag, jumped out the door and called in my apologies at the first set of lights. So, I had half an hour to come up with a pair of lists – in the end I just went with the two I had been dabbling with on my phone the night before and that turned out to be enough to do the job.
The lists I ended up taking are a bit left of centre and not necessarily what I would normally take, looking back on them the Ossyan list in particular lacks polish or any of the fail safes that I would normally like (Aiyana and Holt specifically – /Passage). The Rahn list was designed as an all comers list and is something that I’ve been working on for quite a while, it just seems to project an elegance and clarity of function that can sometimes be lost with attempts to be too tricksy, I don’t want to appear vain here but I feel that despite its apparent shortcomings it is fact a particularly good list, and certainly performed admirably. The Ossyan list was also a bit different to what I would normally take – although that being said I generally like to use him in a more tactical function than a dedicated gun line and that suits me well. I find the later can sometimes lead to an over reliance upon his feat which is in essence a trap. Before going too much further here they are:
March of the battle mages (Tier 3)
Adeptis Rahn (+6)
House Shyeel Magister 2
House Shyeel Magister 2
House Shyeel Magister 2
House Shyeel Battle mages 5
House Shyeel Battle mages 5
House guard Halberdiers (max) 7
Halberdier O&S 2
House guard Riflemen (max) 8
Riflemen O&S 2
Lord Arcanist Ossyan (+6)
Sylas Wyshnallyr 2
Eiryss, AoR 3
Dawnguard Sentinels (max) 9
Sentinel O&S 2
Mage hunter Strike force (max) 8
Mage hunter Commander 2
Nyss Hunters (max) 10
So those are my two lists. I was keenly aware there would probably be a Stormwall on the field at some point (there were a couple there) which is pretty much why I opted for Ossyan as my second list over someone a bit more balanced (probably Kaelyssa – who also likes Colossals :p). The Rahn list gets the benefit of advance move on all the mages, and I found this to be worth its weight in gold, being able to surge with them up the field is an extreme help to their otherwise lowish range and lets them run up on turn one to be in a very threatening position on turn two. The Halbs provide a very good core infantry unit and are quite capable of hitting above their weight class as well as dealing with high def targets. Even though they are oft maligned I found that the riflemen actually did a Stirling job in the list and really complete the magic/melee/ranged trifecta really nicely allowing the list to be effective in all fields which is a huge bonus because one of the traditional foils to Rahn is anti-magic so having a way to be effective at range that wasn’t shut down by that proved highly effective and they were pretty good the whole dayJ.
I only used the Ossyan list in one game (against Cygnar) and it proved effective despite, the defensive capabilities of Stormwall, and I’ll go into that in more detail when I recap the game.
There was a bit of a mix up with the pairings and in round three I pooled down, and I spent the day on table three and four – but that was ok, because it meant I never really had to move :p, getting into it then – Round 1.
Round 1: Jonathon Voigt, Trollbloods – EMadrak, Process of elimination
I’m always a bit wary facing Trolls because Tough gives me the absolute annoyances and I feel that they generally get a really easy ride of things. This game had a pretty basic table and I elected to use Rahn, mostly because I was running late and that’s where my head space was at the time – and polarity shield stops long rider slams and Dire troll charges (other list was Edoomshaper). The ubiquitous Janissa as always would be making trouble with her walls and so that had to be accounted for. Also both lists had a bomber – so I thought Force field would be a good investment there too for my otherwise squishy troops.
Ok, so I was given the first turn, and used it to run for board position, being wary of the long ranging elements of his list, I gave the Halbs polarity shield and sent them up the middle flanked by mages with the rifles bringing up the rear. On Johns turn he advanced up well, and left a no man’s land in the middle taking a couple of sniped bomber shots that killed a pair of Halberdiers (I forgot to cast Force field :p). On my turn I shot the fen blades with the rifles and right mages leaving a couple of them, and on the left did some very ineffectual pulling but managed to get the mauler out of stone range and into halb charge range – who went in and mini-feated to drop it then reformed to spread out against retribution from Madraks feat. The phoenixes were also just waiting in the wings. On Johns turn the remaining fen blades charged my right phoenix with blood fury half killing it and a mage as well. The long riders had to advance in from PS, and Madrak also advanced to feat and kill some of the Halbs with a wall in front of himself. On my next turn I feated and used the right mages to clear the right zone with the gunners help and the left was still highly contested but with some lucky damage I managed to drop the impaler and most of the long riders leaving Madrak and a KD bomber there. It was mostly clean up from this point with Rahn being well protected and having the luxury of time. In my next turn a magister slammed the bomber into Madrak and then the riflemen Cra’d to finish him.
It was a good first game and left me feeling a lot happier. There were some dice issues, but that happens everywhere – Jonathon was a great sport too which is always a pleasure especially since no one wants to lose round 1. I found the clock wasn’t a problem this round and I certainly appreciated having the liberty of taking more time on critical or complex turns to fully execute my plan without having to worry about the turn timer.
Round 2: Michael Weir, Cygnar – Kraye, Envelopment
So I get to play Michael a lot and he is one of those blessed Renaissance men that can play really well and paint ridiculously good to boot. I enjoy playing against him though, and this match was going to be fun because both lists had Stormwalls in them (the other T4 EHaley – with two striders L). He had played Haley in round one and was trying to clear both lists, which is good because the Haley list would have decimated me. I picked Ossyan primarily to see if I could crack the Stormwall in a round and also to unlock him. This map was also going to be a pain for Michael since there were about 8 walls cunningly obscuring the centre of the map (another reason he didn’t play Haley), on the flip side it would be hard for my Sentinels to get meaningful charges but with Vengeance they should be able to manage it and the cover would be a huge boon vs. Cygnar!
I think I went second and ran up the field spreading out as much as I could, I made a couple of unforced errors, like driving my daemon then going onto move it without running the sentinels turn one *face palm*. Michaels second turn he brought on his reinforcements (Gm’s +GCMA) and cautiously advances with his jack line taking shots at Disco with the SW and putting 4 covering fire templates down (SW, Stormclad, Cyclone). On my turn I advanced Ossyan up to behind a wall, feated and started tearing into the Stormclad. Experience has taught me to prioritize them and just because there was a Stormwall around this was no different. I dropped the Stormclad and took off a bit over a third of the Stormwalls health as well as void locking it. The game degenerated into trench warfare at this point with me making creeping advances and able to keep my troops out of the majority of harm’s way. The sentinel melee threat kept covering fire going when perhaps the multi shot would have been more effective by killing them (especially with guided fire). At the end Michael was down to a minute having played his last two turns in a minute each whereas I had about thirty on the clock still. Under pressure he forgot to launch a pod and covering fire, and that was the turn the sentinels charged the Stormwall and brought it down. I finished the game with a pair of CRA’s into Kraye from the Nyss.
This game more than any other demonstrated the lethality of Death clock and when it started getting really low how that in itself put an amazing amount of pressure on the opponent because they either need to kill you or die trying, eventually I got the job done but could have, if I felt so inclined taken a much more relaxed approach and just take advantage of my time to just clock out Michael – even though that would be an ass thing to do!
Round 3: Trent Dennison, Cryx – EDeneghra, Demolition
Trent is always good value, and I think he was having a bad day of it, but for whatever reason he was late to the round and the TO had ‘deployed’ him to keep pace. Was pretty reasonable though so I don’t think it impacted on him too much. Trent’s got definite game though and EDenny is always a problem. I won the roll to go first and knew that whatever else happened I needed to strongly contest all the zones and objectives to just not auto lose. So advanced moved deep, and ran everything right up the guts turn one – keeping Rahn behind a wall though and polarity shielding the central Halbs, with the rifles defending my zone. Trent ran up to greet me and on my next turn I did something that I wouldn’t normally do but I charged into the fray with both mage units (one on each flank) and shield walled through the middle. The right mages against the banes managed to fluff about half their swings but were still there, while on the left against Snapjaw they took his mind out and some other damage. The rifles also got a POW 20 CRA on an arm 21 Denny, but double 1’d the damage. A very lucky chain blast took out a pair of biles, Gorman and Blackbane. Unfortunately on my next turn the biles came up and a pair of them wiped out the left mages and half the right mages and some Halbs. Denny had advanced and feated (gone Incorporeal) and the DJ killed my front Phoenix. On my turn I didn’t have much to do so the rifles picked off the scarlock and I got a 1” slam on the DJ and a couple of other minor effects – I managed to kill one pistol wraith though and a couple of other incidentals. The only thing keeping me in it was the shield walled polarity shielded Halbs. On Trent’s next turn the Banes charged and forgetting polarity shield one ran to tie up some Halbs and the rest either ran or charged riflemen killing 2. The DJ scrapped my second phoenix and the remaining biles purged my lines again but failed to dislodge the Halbs (also taking out Snap jaws mind again – after wrong eye had healed it). A couple of parasites later to try and dislodge the Halbs left three alive and no atom bomb to kill off the remaining rifles. On my turn I knew I was in trouble. Fortunately the halb officer on 1 health shook off his corrosion, and Rahn advanced up and chain blasted out the Blackbanes clogging the line to EDenny and used his stick on a couple more then lastly tk’ed out the halb from melee with EDenny. I used the rifles to CRA her (she was behind a wall, so rat 13 just got her) doing seven damage, then the Halbs finally charged in and mini-feated to three man CMA her to deathJ.
So that was great, because anytime you beat EDenny is a cause for celebration, and especially in the hands of a competent driver doubly so. I had a moment of concern after the round though because re-reading the scenario rules I thought I might have lost (due to my doc saying you need a Caster to contest objectives). Turns out that any model can contest so I was in the clear again but it was a definite dip in my mood for that couple of minutes considering that it makes Denny just stupidly good for that scenario.
Round 4: Ben Dwyer, Menoth – Thyra, Diversion.
This is a scenario that I’ve played a lot on Vassal in the past months and I was really happy to See Ben in the final round because he’s on the up and coming train. Ossyan without Aiyana and Holt vs. Menoth is a recipe for disaster, but generally so is Rahn – knowing that Ben would know that I picked Rahn anyway going for the scenario.
This game had a bit of too and fro and the double daughters certainly caused me some headaches but for a lot of it was (from my perspective) pretty academic. I was able to combust Eiryss into my first point while defending the other flag with my second phoenix and a magister (who got carved up from Nicia). Next turn Ben continued to advance and feated for some ground, but I’d been getting really lucky dicing his daughters in melee with my mages, as well as CRA’ing off his TFG so he was running out of bodies for effect. BoM, charged my point killing the phoenix there, but on my turn I was able to TK it out of the 4” flag zone, Force blast the daughters out of my circle and then run a mage into his zone to win on control points. I certainly got a bit lucky meleeing the daughters; even though the Halbs with mini-feat should be able to two man them pretty effectively, so it wasn’t too crazy since I had the options there anyway.
I ended up winning all of my games but got pipped for first by Ben Hayes (on SoS – even though I had more CP :p) It was a good day and I really enjoyed the format (death clock). I’d have to say that my mki hard-core training certainly came out again and I found planning in the opponents turn became even more critical. Having their first turn to get all your bits sorted out is also a good thing .
Love death clock – it’s great and will happily play it again, and I love the tension it creates with the clock counting down. I was a little worried initially taking in high model count armies – at least the Rahn list has ~40 guys in it – with hindsight though I never felt under the pump and ended all my games with about twenty or so minutes to spare.
Grats to Ben for the win, and thanks to Allen for putting it on as well as all the great opponents!