Montag, 18. März 2013

Khador 2013 - Part 09 "Jamming & Stuff"

It is brutal, but this /is/ how it feels.
This article of Khador 2013 - which is probably going to be my most tactical/strategic one to date -  I'll dedicate to the topic of TarpittingJamming, Pinning, and what I call Declogging - and how to best do it and counteract it in Khador.

   With the new Steamroller 2013 scenarios, a lot of action happens in the middle of the board. To score from objectives, flags or zones, you either have to clear them out, or try to keep the enemy too far away from them in the first place. The middle-of-the-board-factor gives a renewed strength to the first two strategies, since you now do not necessarily have to be ultra-fast to do it properly. Other than that, these strategies have existed before, too.

    Being a linguist, however, I cannot help but point out that there are subtle differences (to me, at least), which mainly manifest in the ability (and necessity) for the unit to not die. In that regard: Tarpitting > Jamming > Pinning.

- Pinning aims at engaging the enemy models while they are still too far away to score, giving you the critical one/two turns of scoring to strengthen your hold on the scenario. For that purpose, it does not matter whether the applied models live through the next turn, only their job does.
- Jamming is more concerned about keeping the enemy in place for a time while you get things organized, with the added intention of also taking enemy models off the table.
- Tarpitting is about applying the unit to enemy models, and keeping them there / away from your more important models until the end of the game. Destruction of the enemy is not necessary, but survival of your unit is.

Having made clear how I will use the terms in this article, let's talk about Pinning...
   The perceived pinnacle (Hah! See that!?) of this technique are the Cryxian Satyxis Raiders. The base unit has Advanced Deployment and a SPD stat of 7. The unit attachment provides them with "Pathfinder", and the Raider Captain Solo with +2" of Movement. Which means: if the Cryx player goes first, they'll be (7+6+(7*2)+2) = 29" up the board, with few things to stop them, engaging your models an additional 2" out because of reach. And all that without factoring in the 'Caster. Seeing as you're sitting at the 38" line for him, he'll be engaging your AD models most likely, taking them out of the game.
   This scenario, though, is not as bad as the other option, him going second. The Satyxis will be in your face, where he wants. Just because: if you do not move up, you're mostly giving up on the scenario there and then. And let us not forget that Satyxis Raiders are FA: 2. (The only way to top that off is if you run into a "Merchants of Death" Tier 4 list, which makes Satyxis FA: U, increases Captain FA, grants a free UA, gives them all "Stealth", and extends the deployment zone by 2". *shudder*)
   I spend the time to check for other, similarly ridiculous ranges, and found Tharn Bloodtrackers (w/ Nuala), Nyss Hex Hunters (w/ Bayal), ... having a very similar set of abilities, at the least, four common core ones: Advanced Deployment, SPD 7, Pathfinder, and a point cost of 5/8. Close thirds are the Daughters of the Flame, and surprisingly, Sea Dogs with Mr. Walls. I did, however, not go and look into all the theme forces to see who can also get AD, or +2 SPD. Because complaining is not the focus of this article.
   What does Khador have that could most closely replicate these abilities? First of all, we do not have a Solo with Desperate Pace adding in to all that, currently only Cryx has that. Doom Reavers are only SPD 6, and more costly at 6 points - unless you play "Mad Dogs of War", but then again, you are going down that route, and this article might not be as much for you. The Kayazy Eliminators have neither Pathfinder nor AD, and they're only two gals. Our main infantry is all SPD 6, with Winterguard being able to get Desperate Pace from Sorscha Xp, and Iron Fang Pikemen having reach weapons. With Pinning emphasising pure speed, there are a few Tier lists that provide serious boni in that direction:
 - War Host (Vladimir Tzepesci, Tier 2) provides Iron Fang Pikemen with +2 SPD during Turn 1, which means that they can run 16" turn one, and on Turn 2 charge/advance and use Defensive Formation to easily engage the enemy.
 - Advance Assault Force (Gurvaldt Irusk, Tier 4) grants +2" of Deployment. That is not exactly a great buff until you consider that you do have Irusk's feat to protect your pinning unit. I actually used that once myself, and it did mostly work out.
 - Art of War (Gurvaldt Irusk Xp, Tier 3) grants Advanced Move to all Kayazy models/units, and the Tier can also have unlimited numbers of Assassins. While this does not equal AD in terms of deployment abilities, it is a free 6" advance, and "Stealth" will keep the Kayazy mostly safe after they run Turn 1. Advanced Move gets extra interesting on Eliminators, though. Too bad you're already burdened with two WGI and two KA units to get there.
 - Black Operations (Oleg Strakhov, Tier 1). Ok, this is strange, I did not see that until I did. The Tier grants Advanced Deployment to Assault Kommandos. Strakhov's Elite Cadre grants them Pathfinder, and he also has Occultation for Stealth. Which means that, barring SPD 7, Assault Kommandos in this Tier are the closest thing Khador has for a prime pinning unit - their mediocre combat abilities don't even work out against them if their only job is to stand in the way (and the theme force also has access to Assassins and Widowmakers that can take care of the rest)... WHAT THE F***!?!

   Wow. I certainly did not see AK's actually come out on top, due to Strakhov adding "Stealth" into their mix. But as it does not work outside the theme force, I guess we're stuck with Doom Reavers as our fastest pinning unit. I'd say that, if they're just around to pin and intimidate the enemy, I'd skip the UA to save points. But let us ponder on them a little longer, for they do also provide us with good Anti-Pinning tech. Their AD can (and should) be used to position them where they can shield your important troops from being jammed or pinned early, since the enemy will have to take a CMD check if he still runs over there, so he's quite likely go somewhere else. And if he gets stuck in, "Berserk" should get the Doomies out again.

With the model-ability-wise hilarities of pinning dealt with, let's talk about Jamming...
   Most importantly, anyone can jam in a pinch (Ha! See that?!), especially in Khador, assuming you run an Iron Flesh Caster. Aside from the madness that spell is (or rather: was), WGI with Bob and Weave are plausible Jammers (especially when aided by Grigorovich's "Heroic Call"), but my favourites for that job are Kayazy Assassins with Underboss. It's just hard to say no to DEF 16 against melee and "Stealth" against ranged attacks, and retaliating with a likely P&S 12 and MAT 9. For every time that I cursed the Assassins for dying so fast, there is that time when they jammed both a unit of Fennblades AND a unit of Long Riders for two/three turns straight, slowly picking away at the enemy's models - all without Iron Flesh backup. Pikemen aren't that great at receiving the charge without Iron Flesh, but if they do, those P&S 13 blasting pikes and CMA really help out in the attrition game. That having been said, adding in the Ragman can tilt that to your favour any time of the day.
   It may seem as if I do not have to say a lot about Jamming, but let us face it: Extreme Pinning is a corner-case situation with clearly defined Parameters, and those make an empirical analysis possible. With most units being able to Jam, though, the possibilities are too numerous to meaningfully explore. In turn, it is hard to helpfully state what is best against jamming besides saying "attritioning the potential Jammers" - though it should be noted that Kayazy models currently are the least bothered by jamming due to their defensive abilities, and can get out of every fit.

And that leaves us with Tarpitting...
   Being another borderline case with clearer parameters, let's figure out what makes a really good tarpit. If the key stat to Pinning were SPD, and to Jamming DEF, then for Tarpitting it'd probably be ARM/boxes. Yes, 'Jacks would make for good Tarpits, if they could just hold up entire units. SHUT UP, AVATAR OF MENOTH - I'M TRYING TO WRITE AN ARTICLE HERE!!! Ehem. Yes, Gaze of Menoth makes the Avatar an effin' Tarpit, but then again, is that really what you'd want him for?
   If we're assigning key abilities to the respective jobs (and frankly, yes we are), then Pinning needs "Pathfinder", Jamming needs "whatever", and Tarpitting needs the best inherent "Tough" it can find. This means that WGI can both Jam and Tarpit with Joe. Man-o-War Shocktroopers are an awesome yet very slow Tarpit, at ARM 21/8 Boxes, they take their time dying (especially with a Mechanic Officer), and they are accurate&strong enough with their reach weapons that you want everything but a freestrike. But Khador's best option are Greygore Boomhowler and Company, for two reasons: a) They're 4+ tough whenever they choose too, b) they have medium bases, which stops tramples. Theoretically, on Irusk's feat turn (when attaching Valachev), they could be DEF 15 (w/ Iron Flesh), 4+ Tough with no knockdown, and -2 to enemy 'Jack's/'Beast's attack rolls from Rage Howler. A lot of eggs in a single basket, but that is one hell of a basket.

   And now, onto the last part of the program - Declogging. This happens when you enact countermeasures after getting pinned/jammed/tarpitted. Obviously, some are better at this than others. El Nemo can easily fry engaging models with lightning, keeping his own, immune, dudes perfectly safe. Under solid ground, Herne& Jonne's Scattershot can unclog Gorten's troops hardcore. Cygnar can do it with the Master Gunner's Close fire. But what can we do?
   When I think about declogging, I tend to first think about the Greylord Ternion. They have magical sprays with a great Magic Stat, which means they get to use it even if they themselves are engaged - which is unlikely because the Old Men tend to hang around the back. In case of high DEF engagers, we can give them some accuracy boosts to help them out even further. If your enemy had to engage Kayazy Assassins, they can just walk away / charge straight on with the minifeat, leaving the enemy unit unengaged and open to be fired or charged at/jammed/tarpitted. Sorscha can go ahead and just freezing grip the enemy, although you'd likely want boosts for her in that case. An aiming unit of Winterguard Rifle Corps boosted by Joe can also go a long way to shoot enemy models off of your own (preferably Kayazy, due to Stealth, but as said, those have no problem in the first place). Eliminators could also easily remove key models and then free the way thanks to Sidestep.
   The real thing about Declogging here is: if you divert to many resources to do it, your enemy very likely gained the upper hand by deterring you far enough from your actual plan. In many cases, I thusly find that wiping a unit out in one turn, unless really necessary, is not. Crippling and therefore minimizing their further impact should do fine enough, then move on to the rest of the opponent's army. If we only had more access to Terror, that'd also be a way to neuter an enemy unit.

Soo... I guess that concludes this article. I do hope it has been helpful in any way, even though our options certainly appear more limited than those of the others - I'm not really sold that they are. I'm feeling new-found feelings for Doom Reavers and Kayazy in all this. They can keep the enemy busy while the Pikemen kill the hard stuff.

Until next time, comments and additions are appreciated, farewell. :)