Samstag, 13. April 2013

Khador 2013 - Part 10 "Zerkova revisited!"

In this article for Khador 2013, I'll revisit the khadoran battlefield reporter, Koldun Kommander Alexandra Zerkova. I know we've dealt with her early on in part 02 of this series, but that was from a wholesale theoretical point of view. Now that I've taken her to ClogCon, which turned out to be my best tournament performance yet, I've got some real experience to add to what I wrote before.

I'll first revisit a few statements I've made, then I'll give you a look at the lists that I took to ClogCon, how the Games went during the Con, and some post-Convention observations/considerations.


I wrote, regarding her playstyle strengths:
(...) her spells are tools, and might not be necessary all the time, so she should have the focus to keep her Warjacks running and doing stuff.
I can back that statement up. In most of the games I played, I cast only "Watcher" and "Razorwind". I had some prime "Influence" possibilities, but then decided to just camp focus because it wouldn't have been necessary (or I did not have the time, either). I had one good chance for Icy Grip, but then activated in the wrong order - and the two Ternions still wiped the floor with all those Blood Trackers. But yes, she does have the focus to keep her 'Jacks active, though they do suffer from being straight out slower than she is, especially when she uses Kayazy as accelerators.

I also wrote:
With a solid denial feat, she can also play the scenario game - to the extent her soft denial allows.
I never got the chance to use the feat that way - I mainly used it to hinder my opponent's alpha strike, i.e. to buy myself the time for my own first strike. Holding my feat back would've really hurt my play, I felt.

On the pro/contra Sylys question:
In the Blood, Sweat, and Tiers tournament, I had to go without him, in both the Doubles and the Steamroller tournament, she had him with her - I even went and changed to a non-Tier list for the Steamroller just to include him. The boni he provides are just too awesome, and you can get addicted to them quickly. Among my favourites is the +2" for spells. Lady Z made the dreaded Haley Xp run for the board edge after reaching out to her from outside her time warp area, and razor-winding half her health off. But I'll come back to that later on.

Next up, what lists did I take to ClogCon? Not counting the Hydra tournament, where I did not roll Zerkova, I only brought my two plunge 'Casters, Harkevich and Zerkova, to the convention.
For the 35 pts Blood, Sweat, and Tiers, I fielded:
Alexandra Zerkova + Spriggan, Marauder, Vanguard; Greylord Ternion, Kayazy Assassins (min) w/ Underboss, Kayazy Eliminators, Widowmakers, Koldun Lord, Gorman di Wulfe.
My part of our Doubles was:
Alexandra Zerkova + Spriggan, Kayazy Assassins (max) w/ Underboss, Kayazy Eliminators, Mortar, Sylys Wyshnallyr, Gorman di Wulfe, Reinholdt
For the 50 point Steamroller tournament on Sunday I brought this list for her:
Alexandra Zerkova  + Spriggan, Destroyer; Kayazy Assassins (max) w/ Underboss, Kayazy Eliminators x2, Greylord Ternion x2, Widowmakers; Widowmaker Marksman, Koldun Lord, Gorman di Wulfe, Sylys Wyshnallyr.

I'm liking the lists, though I do kinda miss the Vanguards as some very heavy infantry, so to speak, when not in Tier. Oh, and the +2" of deployment, which can make a real difference regarding the amount of your opponent's army you can touch with your feat.

So how went my games, after all? Quite well, I must say. I had a good war, if you permit a Harold Pinter reference.
During the first round of Blood, Sweat, and Tiers, I had to go up against Calandra Truthsayer and the Children of Dhunia. This game was sorta dominated by the timed turns constraints, aside from that, I was able to get myself the first strike by using my feat at the right time. And as it turns out, dygmies trigger Watcher quite often. Especially when they're fleeing, but can't go anywhere because they're amongst the enemy army. That essentially set Calandra up to get combo-smitten to death via Marauder.
Second round I had to go up against Skarre Xp's Merchants of Death that brought a Kraken and two max units of Satyxis Raiders with Seawitch. He did actually have me by the balls, when, after her feat turn, he moved epic Skarre just behind the Kraken. And I'm thinking: "I need a seventeen to kill her, even with four focus on". So Zerkova charges an Eliminator, a fires a ghost-stoned razorwind at Skarre, rolls triple sixes and takes her out.
Third round saw the Hunting Wolves up against the Fires from on high, the alternate Rahn theme force. I've been going on about how I basically lost because I forgot (after the MoD match, even) that Force Barrier did not protect against magic attacks - which meant that, after Zerkova's force, in a well concerted effort, clears out 75% of the Halberdiers between her and Rahn, the first Razorwind misses. The second reduces him to 6 health boxes, so I'm quite certain that the other Razor Wind would've taken him out. What hampered me most this game was... his Hyperion not advancing on the one turn I wanted it to. ;) Turns out, Polarity shield makes melee based anti-Colossal tech very unhappy.
In the fourth round, I faced Grand Exemplar Kreoss and the Crusaders of Imer (I think that's the name). It was blood-bath, I went second to maximize my feat. My widowmakers (and Gorman) made short-to-medium work of the Knights Exemplar, but his feat really brutalized my army even though I had taken out a LOT on the pre-feat turn. Props to my opponent for getting my Equilibrium reference within a split second. ;)

So two-and-two, that was a first for me. With Zerkova, nonetheless. I'll not talk about the Doubles tourney in too much detail, because it was not pretty. Basically, our strategy of protecting Kayazy with Solid Ground did not work until the last game - but there it worked very well, indeed. Zerkova personally made Haley Xp run for the board edge (because w/ Sylys & Reinholdt, she can wait outside the prospective feat, then waltz in and reach out to touch Haley's health very uncorrectly) after razorwinding 50% off post-feat turn. But then, I died. The second game was even worse (because I was really, really tired). Last game Zerkova softened up Magnus with a Razorwind before he got stabbed by Kayazy, lived through Sorscha Xp's assassination, and almost hung on to her HP longer than Sorscha in the Barrage of sprays that came from the Winterguard Infantry.

On Sunday, I brought Zerkova and Harkevich. 
First game was Zerkova against Retribution with Rahn, who rolled so well to hit that my Kayazy could have had DEF 9 for all I cared. In the end, his attempt to assassinate Zerkova with some Sentinels a) fails and b) sets up my Spriggan's charge lane. He attempts to block it, but a bombard shot opens the path, and a razorwind softens him up enough that he ends on the Warlance.
Second game was Harkevich against Trollbloods and Borka. It almost was a win - I had Borka killed. But then the guy rolled tough. Tough Luck. The game went to dice down and the army points destroyed tiebreaker, which my opponent won (but not exactly clearly ahead of me). A number things I could've done differently would've probably even tilted things in my favour. At any rate, MoW Shocktroopers kept me safe from Mulg and the Mauler, so that was a good showing.
Third game I went up (or rather: down) against the Dutch Champion. It was Harkevich v. Cassius the Oathkeeper. And man, that feat is some kind of stupid. It may seem lacking as it's not bound to the control area, but putting down a forest this huge is huge. I went ahead, had some WGI bob and weave up to serve as targets for their comrade's spray to catch some Tharn, but only killed one Bloodtracker. Here I did wish I brought Joe, but only this one time. I then ran my jacks up closer and into his path, used broadsides to fire at nearly point- blank, and then feated defensively. I'm still sure that was the best way to go about it, and I'm amazed at myself for coming up with that. I did lose on the CP tiebreaker, and my opponent would've testified about witnessing my bad dice (seriously, Ivan, those Bonegrinders are only DEF 12, and you had two focus...). Another good showing of the Shocktroopers - while they did fall to the Stalker (what doesn't?), they hardly cared about the other threats in my grill. And they butchered the Feral Warpwolf when my opponent forgot he had not upkept Curse of Shadows.
Fourth game was again against Circle - Zerkova v. Kromac, a rematch from the second round of doubles. This one came down to three things: 1) him committing the Stalker deep into my lines with Sprint, which allowed me to stab him to death with Kayazy Assassins, 2) my dice turning static when my Greylords went and wiped out his unit of Bloodtrackers, always needing 7's to hit, 3) his dice flatlining when he attempts to assassinate Zerkova, leaving her on six health, and being in the middle of my army. After two Ice Cages and a frostbite, Zerkova simply razorwind's the game in her favour.

So, another two-and-two. I'm not sure it could've gone better than that, had Borka died, I'd have faced different opponents, which'd question my ability to grasp another victory. But if that is how this year is getting going, I might actually achieve some more!

Which brings me to my post-Con observations and considerations:
1) I'm really torn between my liking for Sylys (and the assassination focused build) and the Hunting Wolves Tier. The tier is just completely well rounded, I get Jacks that actually have a SPD score worth the mention - on the other hand, out of Tier I can build a list that both has Zerkova as an assassin, and can take care of things itself. I'll most likely make that dependent on the Harkevich list.
2) The Harkevich Theme Force deserves further testing. If I were to change anything at this point - I'd probably swap out the Field Gun for Joe. Which is not due to the FG's performance, but mainly has to do with other issues: Jacks and medium bases do seriously clog up it's line of sight to good targets.
3) I've fallen into a routine of running my light artillery up the board 8" from the edge of deployment turn one, and that put into precarious (i.e. very endangered) positions more than once. I also tended to use them as flank holders. I should probably go back and either deploy them behind the rest of the units in the centre, or advance more cautiously.
4) Shocktroopers do work, I feel, at least for Harkevich. Or, let's better say: I feel MoW work for Hark. Democorps might actually be better, following up behind the WGI and Jacks. Their MAT of 7 is really good and we don't need to talk about the P&S 14, and "Fortune" can ensure your hits. Dang, I need to try Democorps.

So, those were all I can remember right now. I hope you enjoyed reading this, I'll be taking my dynamic duo to another tournament this month, and we'll see how I do there.

Until then, farewell!