Fair warning, this turned into a super long battle report so you should probably go to the restroom and/or brew up some tea.
So, continuing with my whirlwind tour of the casters of Khador I decided to give Strakhov an outing.
I kept OrsusSmash’s awesome writeup on caster capabilities and win conditions in mind as I was building the list and came up with a plan. I decided that I would forego the desperate alpha strike that Strakhov is known for and instead work an attrition style game by dominating the flanks early and keeping Strakhov back. Then once I was ready to redeploy and take the center for clean up. That was the plan anyway.
With that plan firmly in mind I built this list:
Kommander Strakhov - WJ: +6
- War Dog
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator
Great Bears of Gallowswood
Full Iron Fang Pikemen with standard UA
Full Kayazy Assassins with Underboss
Winterguard Mortar Crew
My opponent, Josh, also was playing Khador but his army was a Tier 4 Harkevich Wolf Pack list with:
- Black Ivan
- War Dog
Full Winterguard Infantry with UA
Full Battle Mechaniks
Winterguard Field Gun
We rolled up the scenario and ended up with Destruction (4 objectives plus zone in the middle of the table). I won the roll to pick sides despite his tier bonus of +1 and chose to go second and just like that, this training exercise in the Thornwood was under way.
Deployment and early game:
Josh deployed conquest centrally with Harkevich nearby. Black Ivan was to my right of conquest and the spriggan to his left. The winterguard was pretty central with the officer and joe hanging out behind a building, probably smoking some cheap cigarettes. His mortar and field gun were out on my left flank. Thanks to Hark’s theme bonuses fortune started on conquest and escort started on Harkevich.
For my deployment I put strakhov, behemoth, rienholdt and the wardog all pretty central and put the great bears and the spriggan on my right side across from Black Ivan. The ironfang pikemen went on the other side of a building to the left of center other than the arc node, aka standard bearer. The eliminators were behind that central building, my mortar was near some woods opposite of his light artillery and finally my kayazy were basically hugging the table edge on my extreme left.
Most of Josh’s first turn was just pushing things up the table a bit, conquest ran, black ivan advanced, the winterguard bobbed and weaved (wove?) up the table and joe told them to toughen up.
My turn saw the kayazy sprint up the table edge spreading out their formation. The iron fangs also ran up left of center in the table. The great bears ran to cover. Strakhov activated, put superiority on behemoth, occultation on the iron fangs and advanced. Behemoth ran up a bit in front of strakhov, the wardog ran next to him and reinholt behind. The spriggan just advanced as I had forgotten to give him a focus. The eliminators advanced middle-ish but still hung back.
Engagement and mid game
Hark upkept the spells and gave 1 to conquest. Conquest advanced and took a shot at behemoth. The def bonus from superiority meant that he missed, but with fortune he not only hit but he got crit devastate off. Oops. Strakhov, the war dog, and behemoth all were thrown back 1″ – Reinholdt was just out but he died to strakhov slamming into him. The wardog failed his tough and died. Behemoth took a couple of points of damage but strakhov was unharmed. Conquest then laid down some creeping barrage templates. Black Ivan got a direct hit on Kolsk and took him down to 1 life. The winterguard advanced again under a bob and weave order and the mortar had a bad drift and didn’t kill anything. Joe gave a tough speech again. Hark feated this turn as well.
On my turn I dropped superiority but upkept occultation and shook. I also forgot that Harkevich had feated and gave 3 to the spriggan. Since I knew I wanted to advance the mortar took a shot and ended up hitting one of the winterguard but he toughed and was just knocked down. I was faced with a wall of creeping barrage in front of the iron fangs. I spent a lot of time thinking about it. Those stupid templates are so low strength that it tempts you to move through it, but if the dice get hot it can be pretty devastating to a unit like the iron fangs. I eventually decided not to burn any more of my deathclock and just took the risk. The officer called his minifeat and gave a charge order. 2″ is way more than you think it is, by the way. I expected to fail several charges but in the end, the only model not benefitting from the order was a single guy who ran. I killed a couple of winterguard but failed miserably to even damage the monolith and then used the reform move to get into shield wall. I didn’t press in though as I was pretty much in control of the zone at this point save for a single guardsman that refused to die.
The assassins ran again and took shelter behind a building near the winterguard light artillery. Behemoth forfeited his movement to stand up and fired twice at the other monolith and did 6 points to it. The spriggan charged conquest and attacked over a wall doing a few points to him but not really much. The Great Bears charged black ivan. Hark’s feat saved him but I did disable everything but his movement. The Eliminators ran to engage conquest.
I was feeling pretty good about my position at this point…
Josh started shooting at the IFP but the combination of occultation and shield wall saved them from most of it. It also helped that he rolled something like seven 6s in a row. Black Ivan got a shot in on Volkov but he made the tough check. Conquest attacked the spriggan but thanks to the obstruction and superiority he missed.
My turn I had the ironfangs get a shield wall order again and advance and attack. They didn’t really have any hard targets other than conquest so didn’t really need the extra dice. They killed a couple more winterguard and the Kayazy ran to engage the field gun and some winterguardsmen. Black Ivan was scrapped by the great bears. One of them missed with and it was a scary moment for me but he couldn’t quite dodge out of all of their reach ranges. The eliminators charged through conquest and killed a mechanic and a winterguard and sidestepped to harkevich but didn’t really do anything. Behemoth walked around the objective and set up for either a double bombard on Hark or charge on conquest. He lobbed one bombard shot at the mechanics but didn’t do anything but point out to me that my eliminators were in dangerous drift location so I didn’t take the second shot. I got 4 iron fangs including the ua into a semicircle around the enemy spriggan at the long range of reach. I did a negligible damage but at least I had him fairly well locked in. Strakhov put occultation on himself just to be safe.
I was really starting to feel comfortable at this point.
And then Joe called boosted attacks…
Being the knucklehead I am, I had already started to shift the ironfangs toward the center and left some guardsmen in rear arcs. We all know that attacks originating in rear arcs don’t benefit from shield wall… Also, sprays ignore stealth and melee modifiers. The spriggan also killed 2 of them without the benefit of any focus. Funniest moment was when the field gun crewman punched a kayazy and hit on box cars but then rolled a 3 to wound! At the end of the his turn I had something like 2 kayazy left (they passed their command check) and the iron fangs also passed the command check they were forced to make. Conquest killed an eliminator and then behemoth was hit with a crit devastation from a broadside which threw him back 4″ into a building and knocked him down and did some damage. Harkevich took the free strikes from eliminators and took a shot at Strakhov with his handcannon. I was suddenly not feeling quite as confident.
This game had to end soon or I wouldn’t have any models left. Behemoth was knocked down and about a foot away from from conquest. I allocated 3 focus to the main cortex and had him shake the knockdown. I dropped all my upkeeps as well. I figured I may as well get things going. I had strakhov shift laterally to get conquest in his control area and popped his feat. I got a very favorable drift (1″ back directly toward himself) so had a pretty decent LOS blocker. Behemoth charged conquest from about 13″ away – I had hoped to get into melee with Harkevich as well but Josh had positioned his spriggan well so there wasn’t enough space for a back to get through. With a total of 4 attacks I managed to take out the left half entirely with a pretty good amount of bleed over to the other side. The spriggan poked for another couple. The great bears charged conquest and the wardog countercharged, killing Volkov. One of the great bears actually missed his charge attack with another snake eyes, but the 3 remaining attacks were enough to wreck it.
Josh didn’t have many options left at this point and loaded the spriggan up with 2 focus. Harkevich shot into melee trying to clear the iron fangs and killed the first one. He used broadsides to take an extra handcannon shot at the last one but missed. The surviving couple of winterguard trying to help out but also missed due to the def bonus for being in combat. With nothing else to do but try and one shot Strakhov (he would need 1 focus to charge, and 1 focus to try and hit with the spear as the range meant he would need reach) he risked the free strike.
Fortunately for me the last surviving iron fang pikeman rolled a double 4 and knocked the spriggan down, causing the charge to fail. Josh extended his had across the table at this point and conceded the game.
(the blast marker is the cinder bomb smoke)
After Action Review
First off, wow! What a fun game. We were both cheering for good dice rolls and moaning at bad ones for both players. It was a super fun game with a great opponent. The lists were fairly well matched in power as were the casters. I was a bit more attritiony in a melee sort of way and he was in a ranged sort of way and the game played out as it should have.
I am starting to get a hang for what to expect from my units and was pretty happy with most of my plays. I didn’t ask too much from my units, but what I did ask, they performed. I was happy to stick to my original plan of sweeping the flanks and saving the feat. It turned out that I absolutely needed it when I needed it.
Strakhov was an interesting caster this game. It didn’t seem like he did much all game but occultation on the Iron Fangs early, and himself at the end was kind of nice. It would have been nice to get some use out of sprint and his melee abilities, but Josh’s list was a pretty stand back and shoot kind of list so I didn’t have the opportunity. The big deal here for me was that I didn’t force it, as I have a tendency to sometimes do. I was talking with Inyoung from iWargame and he really suffers from bipolar abilities.
Thanks to crappy deployment on my part I never really had a target for sentry but bouncing superiority around was nice.
The eliminators continue to be rockstars. They haven’t really won me a game yet, but they can be such a huge distraction that their 3 points are well worth it. In fact, I am thinking of picking up a second unit.
The assassins did what I expect them to do, run, tie something up, die. They may or may not take something with them, but they harass with the best of them.
Iron fang pikemen were also great. Shield wall gets dissed fairly often on the forums for being so slow, but reform helps, and twice this game pathfinder on the charge was necessary. I want to try the black dragons at some point, but I think I will really miss both reform and relentless charge.
This was the first game that the great bears really punched above their weight. I think I will start using them more in the off to the side capacity rather than trying to use them as an anchor. I think that was probably my biggest mistake in playing them early was overestimating their survivability. Tough, steady and defensive line are nice, but at the end of the day they are just 3 13/14 models with 5 wounds each.
Anyway, it was a super fun and tight game, so thanks again to Josh for the training exercise – I look forward to the next one!