For the first article in this series, I'll try to understandably write down the realisations and thoughts which came from my games at ClogCon in Decembre. These will revolve around Zerkova, control, threat, and why it's a good idea to have a backup plan in case your opponent just ... backs up.
That, and guns. Lots of guns.
More after the break.
There is a specific match which stands at the beginning of this train of thought - my ninth game at ClogCon 2015, in a 35pts scrambler. Lady pZ (Conquest, IFP, YOLO Bears, Support train) versus Kromac2 (Double Stalker, Gorax, Ghetorix, Pureblood). We play Outflank.
Aside from the fact that I made an absolut fool's play when I shot a Stalker under Aggravator as the last thing that happened on that flank (and thusly cost me 2/3 of the Bears), I felt both good (he had no guns, and I could use the CTRL measurement to gauge his threat) and bad (though I had the guns, he had Aggravator, and that would've been even worse). I used my feat to catch most of his army, positioning myself out of his Walk-threat (because SPD 6 Warbeasts with Reach and Prowl... yeah).
And then... my opponent just backed off. And I felt boned, because he essentially timewalked my timewalk. See, aside from playing pZ into Circle being a bad idea most of the time, this shouldn't happen, I realised. Your opponent, while having the option to back off, should never be able to do so without remorse. Worst thing in that game was that he didn't even come under scenario pressure, because Outflank is Outflank, and those zones are BIG.
Lady pZ - and Old Witch, too, certainly - needs something that can threaten... let's say nine inches at least. Keeping in mind what was sad, and that Lady pZ has no threat extenders, what does that leave us with? Right: Guns. Preferably cost-efficient, boostable ones. What immediately comes to mind is:
Riflecorps & Joe:
I've had these in my other list, and they've been performing quite well. Sure, Joe only boosts the attack rolls, but if it's more sensible to shoot Pow 10s at Gatormen Posse than anything else, the same should also hold true to ARM 16/17 warbeasts (or Jacks) by the same math that makes the Mage Hunter Strike Force so good. It's only two dice instead of three, sure, so a lot less spiking potential, but then again, if the WGRC is about 12"-14" away from their target of choice, they should get another round of shooting. It's also worth keeping in mind that there will be other shooting around.
These are another serious consideration, especially since they both provide guns (which aren't boostable per se, but there's CRA which is kinda equivalent) and Weapon Master melee. If the models weren't so hideous, I'd have them in a heartbeat, because they are just so well suited to perform in the current state of the meta.
This one was kind of an epiphany. Although it can't boost - it still has guns that will punish the opponent for backing up, even if it doesn't hit, and that's thanks to the rough terrain they leave. Assuming they don't deviate to utterly crap locations, and you're not playing against Circle (Pathfinder everywhere) or Legion (Pathfinder on the models that see play), the opponent will have issues with recommitting his models to the fray. It is also highly mobile (SPD 7 Cavalry), can trample and knockdown, which are all added benefits.
I technically should mention the Destroyer/Black Ivan here, too, but for what it's worth, they're not as cost-efficient as the Behemoth. The Conquest, technically, is there, too, but I feel I need the points somewhere else, and my theory of him saving pZ's ass 33% of the time was... inaccurate. Bombards are the only boostable guns with a suitable long range from the stable of Jacks Lady pZ would choose from, generally, and the Behemoth comes with two of them, and AP fists to back it all up. And he's easier to get up the field than the big guy.
These can't boost in any way, shape, or form, but they are AD and RAT 7 and Snipers, so they have more chances to aim, hit pretty well, and can straight-up ignore ARM when necessary.
Special shoutout for our maligned Hillbillies and the new Ogrun. Sure, Kossites aren't much too write home about, but ignoring them has always proven bad, and they could clog up or kill something really important if the opponent stays back. Hutchuck, though, is a very different beast. His Quake and Rust grenade(as well as wild shot and a P&S 14 mace) seem really helpful (Quake making recommittment more problematic, Rust helping with the damage from the guns), and he certainly has no problems in taking out valuable backfield models.
Currently, these are all I can think of as plausible options - if you have any others, feel free to comment - but it's important to still have other straightforward choices that create as much of a Damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situation as possible. Nyss play very well into this, as does the Behemoth. Pikemen are still very good. Also, on the note of IFP: I love the regular UA's minifeat. The mobility provided is great.
Letting all that simmer for a bit, this is an adapted version of my pZ list from ClogCon:
Koldun Kommander Zerkova -6
Nyss Hunters (max) 11
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) 8
w/ Officer & Standard 2
WM Marksman 2
War Dog 1
Gun Carriage 9
I'll probably have to explain a bunch of additional choices.
1) Sylys and Reinholdt left the list in favour of the other list, which, in addition, will take the ARM cracker role. Same goes for the YOLO Bears of Gallowswood. You can read about that in the second article of this series, "When a wolf drops dead in the forest...".
2) Eiryss2's synergy with pZ's feat against WM, and Jack-heavy lists in general, cannot be understated. Ever.
3) The IFP UA can be either of the two.
4) Gorman is just too slow for the way I play pZ. ;) And that's only half in jest.
5) As far as objective goes, I guess I'll stick with the Effigy of Valour.
And that's everything for today! Hope you enjoyed reading it, maybe even found something you could learn, and I you'll be around next time as well.
But until then,