Posts Tagged ‘steamroller’

Today we’ll be taking a look at the Incursion, aka disappearing flags, aka “the flag I want to stay always disappears” scenario.

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This is an “Invade” scenario. Near as I can tell the characteristics of this type of scenario are that the warcasters are intended to be active participants in the game and for that reason dominating is a bit more common than in some of the other scenarios.

This scenario is another standard scenario that you will see quite often at scenarios and seeing 3 flags across the middle of the table will let you start planning your win condition.

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There are no zones in this one, just the flags. Let’s do a quick refresher of what flags are in SR2013.

Flag (40 mm base): All flags are models with the following qualities: Incorporeal, stationary, immune to all game effects. They do not activate and cannot be targeted, damaged, moved, placed, or removed from play.

So, flags are incorporeal models. What that means in a nutshell is that you can move through it and see through it, you just can’t end your movement on top of it. You also can’t target it, which means you can’t scatter an AOE off of it or use a spell like Hellmouth targeting it. You can’t charge it for extra movement.

Okay so we know all the things we CAN’T do to/with it, how about seeing what we can?

Well, we can control a flag by having a model in base to base with it. If the model is a single thing (such as solo, warbeast, warjack, etc) as long as there are no contesting models it is controlled. If the controlling model is a part of a unit it must be at least 50% strong and every model must be within 4″ of the flag. The flag is “contested” if even a single enemy model is within 4″ of the flag unless that model happens to be the enemy warcaster/warlock.

We can also “dominate” a flag by having a warcaster/warlock base to base with the flag with no enemy models within 4″ of it.

That is pretty much it. Now that we have the generic rules for it down, let’s take a look at the conditions specific to Incursion.

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One of the first things we notice is that this scenario does not have the killbox artifice. This means if you want your caster to hug the back table edge all game, you can. You might not WANT to do that though, as the victory condition for this scenario (in addition to caster kill of course) is getting to 5 control points.

How are these control points gained? Well, you get 1 point for controlling a flag and 2 for dominating it. That means in a single turn you can get a max of 3 control points (2 for dominating one flag and 1 for controlling the other). Why only 3 you ask when it should be 4 since there are 3 flags?

Well because we don’t start getting control points until the end of the 2nd player’s second turn (remember that this is the rule with scoring in all SR2013 scenarios) and at the end of the 2nd player’s first turn one of those flags, generated randomly, will disappear.

And that, as they say, is that. The rules are really basic on this one and there is a legitimate scenario victory condition in this one which makes it very popular. This is also one of the scenarios that I recommend for generic games store pickup games. It is easy to set up with no zones required and there is no interaction with them beyond control/dominate unlike the objectives. All you need is 3 40mm (medium sized) bases and you are good to go.

Now we know what we are trying to do, so what is the best way to do it?

Well, this scenario is extremely “live”. This game can actually be won as early as the end of top of turn 3 with one caster getting 2-3 points at the end of round 2 and the remainder at the end of the first player’s activation on turn 3.

The uncertainty as to which flag will disappear means that in general you want to deploy much of your stuff centrally so you can slide left or right as necessary depending on which flag disappears. Fast moving models have an advantage here – I have seen some slower models/units spend 2-3 turns redeploying when one of the flanking flags that they were planning on claiming/contesting disappears.

This scenario is one of the big reasons that fast jam units are so valuable in SR2013. If you can run through the flags and put the back of your models’ bases about 4″ from the flags you can make it difficult for the opponent to contest these flags. You can then dominate or control and be done with the game super fast. Obviously this has it’s risks but there are times that you might be able to get a unit like the Boomhowlers to jam the enemy out of the flags and just walk the game in.

Casters with strong control elements to either their spell list or their feats are really good here – models like Haley2 and Kreuger2 can use telekinesis to push their enemy back and then feat to slow down or negate their ability to get back into control range so be aware of it. I personally have lost on turn3 to a Kreuger2 list by not paying attention and failing to saturate the area around the flags well enough and then got shoved out and jammed.

That isn’t to say that the only way to win this one is with speed and going for that early game win. This scenario can also be won with solid attrition play just grinding out your opponent’s ability to contest it snatching 1 or 2 control points as they get chance.

Some of the more tanky casters are also good at this scenario with the ability to dominate. Butcher1 is good at this as is Terminus. They just hulk out as much as possible and then stand there dominating as they can. Typically they will kill their opponent’s models and only get the dominate on their own turn, but sometimes they can pick up a quick 4 points in rapid succession.

Remember that while you cannot contest with a caster, the tooltip informs us that when multiple warcasters dominate the same flag, only the active one scores. If you are desperate to stop a win and can’t get any other models over there you can at least stop them from winning on your turn. Granted, they will likely win on their own turn if you were doing that move out of desperation, but you can also get a sneaky win that way if you are at 3 points and they were planning on winning on your turn or something. It is edge case, but it is an important one.

My final point on this scenario is that it is a fun one, which is another reason I recommend it for pickup games. It tends to be very dynamic with a lot of strategic movement as well as just outright killing.

Scenario 4, aka Ammunition Run, is another fairly common scenario at tourneys so it pays to spend a bit of practice time with it. Let’s take a look at the this and plan our path to victory.

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This is another Assault Scenario which typically means a mashup in the middle. In fact, there is just a single rectangle zone that is 6″x12″ in the dead center of the table. There are also 3 objectives in this scenario –  a friendly objective to each player which is a bit off on the right flank and near the middle of the table (20″ from deployment table edge) as well as an objective in the middle of the table that is an enemy to both players.

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As the tactical tip so helpfully informs us this “enemy” objective in the zone means that neither player can control the zone until it has been destroyed. Since I brought it up, let’s take a look at the objectives next (all three are the same).

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I made the card big because there is a lot of text on this one and my eyes are old.

Like all objectives in sr2013 they are models on large (50mm) bases. The other generally shared characteristics of objectives, are immobile so it cannot be knocked down or moved, is automatically hit in melee, cannot be engaged nor can it engage, immune to continuous effects, and cannot be damaged or targeted until the 2nd players 2nd turn.  Again, those are not really unique to this scenario, just to all objectives so it is worth remembering.

As an ammo dump it is only fitting that if your caster dominates the objective (pop quiz: how close do we need the caster to be to the objective and how far must enemies be to dominate? *see below) that ranged weapons of friendly models within 2″ of the objective gain +1 RNG. I know that +1″ doesn’t seem like a huge boon but ranges tend to be so short in this game that it can often mean the difference between being in charge range of an enemy or not. You shouldn’t risk yourself going for it, but it can be a nice bonus and is certainly worth considering.

Speaking of risks, we note that this objective has the rule “Explosive”. When the objective is destroyed models within 2″ (the same distance as those who were getting the bonus range) suffer a POW 12 magical damage roll and the Fire continuous effect. For those of you fortunate enough never to have seen the horror of a model set on fire before, let me tell you from first hand experience that it kills casters dead. In a nutshell, you test during the maintenance phase but only after your have dumped your focus to 0 if you are warcaster (you knew that happened, right?) On a 1 or a 2 it goes out, if not you take a pow 12 damage roll. Don’t think you warlocks get off much better than casters – remember you don’t leach fury until your control phase so if your beasts are maxed out you can’t transfer to them and you still have to have a fury on yourself. It is a very high risk proposition and since in this particular scenario you can’t get control points by dominating the friendly objective, unless you really think that 1″ will make the difference in the game, I would suggest you not dominate the objective. Dying from fire in a game you are otherwise winning is very frustrating. You don’t even get control points for dominating the enemy objective so just destroy it (which is how you get the control points).

How hard is it to destroy you may ask? This particular objective is not too hard at all. It is armor 15 with 15 boxes. It will take some effort, but not a ton. Also, this is an objective you really want to destroy with ranged weapons since, with a few exceptions, the longest ranged melee weapons are reach weapons at 2″ which means that they take a pow 12 hit and get set on fire when destroying the objective. It might be worth it to sacrifice a model or two but make sure that decision is intentional, not an “oops, I just killed 5 of my own Iron Fang Pikemen” move.

So, how do we actually get control points and win this one (without fiery death of a caster)? Let’s look at the rules.

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You only get control points based on the objectives being destroyed if they are enemy objectives. The practical application of this is that generally you should try and take out the middle one first. You can always get the far enemy objective later and that gives you a control point that they can’t make up by destroying yours. The exception to this is if their warlock/warcaster (or some other low or medium armor high value target)  is within 2″ of the objective it might be worth it to try and blow it up to set them on fire (assuming they aren’t immune).

The other two ways to get control points, of course, are by either controlling or dominating the zone. Remember you can’t do this while the objective is there, so don’t forget that, but also remember that it is fairly fragile and your opponent might waste an infantry model or two wrecking it and then dominating the zone, so don’t count on it to be your linebacker.

You get 1 control point for controlling the zone and 2 control points for dominating the zone. Remember, the first to 5 control points wins. That means there can be an incredible 4 points gained on a single turn – destroy both enemy objectives and dominate the zone. That 4 point swing could put you up so far that your opponent has to scramble just to not lose immediately.

*Answer to the pop quiz “an objective is dominated if there is a warcaster/warlock within 2″ of an objective that an opponent does not contest (any enemy models within 2” of an objective contest it). But you knew that, of course. Give yourself a gold star.

Today in the SR2013 Primer Series we’ll be going over Scenario 2: Supply and Demand.

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You’ll notice that this a Guard Scenario. That doesn’t really mean anything for all practical purposes other than the bucket that the scenario is in.

Usually when you belly up to table the first thing that will stand out to you in the table setup, which is why I have chosen to cover the layout first. You can often get your first hint as to what scenario you are playing by taking a look at what is set up on the table.

In the case of Supply and Demand you will notice (in addition to the terrain) a circular zone and 2 objectives.

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So looking at the table lets us know that we will be able to score control points in three different ways; controlling the zone, dominating the zone, and destroying the enemy objective. In a multi-list environment before you have even seen the specific scenario being played, just taking a look at the table can give you hints for which caster to choose as well as whether you will want to go first or second. Going second gives you the option of choosing table side and while it is common to just choose the side you are at, this is a great opportunity to really look at what the table terrain offers you. Is there a piece of terrain on one side that will give you an opportunity to dominate with your caster from the relative safety of a wall or hill? Are there any LOS issues or places you can hide a solo completely yet still impact the game by digging in and contesting the zone? Are there any choke points that will affect your ability to bring your forces to bear?

A single zone is often more difficult to get control points out of than multiple zones and this is especially true with the large circular zone. It won’t tell you which to go for, but it can help inform your choices. It can also give you a bit of insight into how your opponent will want to win.

Now that we have taken in the table layout, let’s take a look at the special rules for Supply and Demand.

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The first thing we notice in the rule box is that this scenario has the Kill Box artifice. What this means is that if, starting at the end of the first player’s second turn, your caster is completely within 14″ of any table edge your opponent immediately scores 2 control points. Kill box combined with the single circular zone typically means that there will be quite a scrum near the middle of the table. The fact that your caster must be within 10″ of the center of the table also means that you must usually take additional precautions to protect your caster.

The active ways to get control points are to control the zone (1), dominate the zone (2), destroy the enemy objective (1), or dominate the enemy objective (2).

Let’s review the specific requirements:

The first player to get to at least 5 control points wins the game. To control a zone we need to have at least one model in the zone with no enemy non-caster models. Additionally, if that model is part of a unit it must be at least 50% in strength and all of the models must be in that zone.

To dominate the zone the caster must be in the zone with no enemy non-caster models.

Destroying an objective is fairly straight forward – starting with the second players second turn you can attack the objective like any other model. A card is included with the scenario because the objectives are slightly different in each one. The one below is the stat card for the Supply and Demand objective, (aka Supply Cache).

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The Supply Cache is armor 15 with 15 wounds making it the easiest to destroy. A warcaster dominating this objective (by being within 2″ with no enemy models within 2″) can have a warjack within 2″ charge or run for free. Of interesting note, you can dominate an objective starting on turn 1.

This objective also has a special rule with doesn’t allow a caster to dominate the zone if the enemy supply cache is in their control area which means you are probably going to want to destroy the enemy one. While there is the opportunity to score 2 control points by dominating the enemy objective this is unlikely unless you have a caster with a fairly crazy movement range and/or are willing to run to it – this will likely put you behind enemy lines but if you have a chance and are 2 control points from winning, it is worth remembering.

Conversely, if you think your opponent might try and pull this it can be worthwhile to destroy your own objective. Please note that this will give your opponent 1 control point, but if you feel that they can dominate that objective it might be better to give up that one control point than two.

In general with this scenario you can expect mass casualties. The combination of a single central zone, kill box, and single objective per player means that both players will be concentrating their forces and typically you are going to have to just grind out the win on scenario. It also means that there is a higher than average danger of your caster being threatened by an assassination. This also means if you have an assassination caster you might see some good opportunities.

It can be possible to “jam” your opponent out of the zone with particularly fast or possibly resilient pieces to score an early control point or two so be aware that is a possibility.

This is a good scenario for those  casters who like to move up and get stuff done in person anyway. Good candidates are the brick casters like Xerxis or Butcher or the ranged assassins like Ravyn or Lylyth2. Finally, since it is a single zone, some of the control casters can bounce enemy models out of the zone and win fairly quickly with a 6 point control point swing over 3 player turns which gives enough to win. Magnus2 and Kreuger2 both have feats to watch out for.

Remember that control points are tallied on each players turn and that both players can earn those points so if you can dominate the zone your opponent absolutely MUST either get a model into the zone at any cost (possibly even running and sacrificing an otherwise active piece’s activation opportunity).

Thanks for taking the time to read this and If you have any questions, tips, or want to point out something I screwed up please do!

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Welcome to the first installment of a series of articles introducing players to Steamroller 2013 (SR2013) play. I would like to start off with a bit of a disclaimer. I am a good player, but definitely not one of the greats. Since these are my thoughts at the time of writing they might be completely inaccurate. I also reserve the right to change my mind on any of these. This is just an overview primarily for the fairly young (playtime wise) meta at my FLGS, Emerald Knights in Burbank. The official Steamroller packet is at http://privateerpress.com/organized-play/steamroller-tournaments if you want to download them for yourself (which I highly recommend).

30 Second Wrap Up (aka tldr; give me the good stuff)

/begin 30 second wrap up

This is a really basic intro to SR2013. Tourneys can be very fun and the more prepared you are the more fun you will have.

Terrain is important, put some thought into it. The tables should be fair but not symmetrical. Make it a real choice between going first or choosing table side. Good terrain makes the game more fun.

Use some form of clock. Timed turns and chess clock are the most common forms of clock. There are pros and cons to both, but both can really improve the game experience

“Thou shalt remember the mission objective and keep it holy.” Scenarios give you an extra win (or lose) condition. Control the zone or flag or destroy objectives and then control the zone or flag. You can’t score any CPs until the second players second turn. Win the game, have fun. It is an extra tactical dimension and can open up new play styles and casters. Read the scenario before every game.

Play the game. Have fun.

/end 30 second wrap up

By the way, I am stealing the idea of a 30 second wrap up from Mike Shea over at mikeshea.net – let me know what you think of it.

I absolutely reject the idea that competitive or tourney play sucks all the life out of the game. It is a great opportunity to exercise your brain with some tactical problems as well as stretch that social leg and meet new people plus you get to play several games in a relatively short amount of time. The vast majority of people at a tournament are going to be hobbyists and gamers like you. Most of them are cool and the games will be a fun challenge. That being said, don’t be a “win at all costs” dick. These players are far fewer and further between than the internet would have you believe. They exist, but I have gone to many many events and have only seen one or two of those people. Embrace the soul of Page 5 which I basically like to paraphrase as “play hard, try your best to win, but above all else make sure and have fun”. You can maximize that fun by being familiar enough with the scenarios that you don’t have to think too much about learning them, you can just work on achieving them.

“So, you wanna play a game”

Since the is the first installment I am going to take the opportunity to start from the second floor up for this series. (I assume you already have your game size decided and your opponent picked out).

The first thing to do is to set up the table. I know that we don’t have the best terrain available (yet) but here is the guideline from the SR2013 pack.

“As a general rule, an average table should contain five to seven pieces of terrain placed close enough to eliminate large open areas without unduly constricting movement. The size of terrain pieces is also important. No piece should be insignificantly small or extremely large; terrain pieces that range from 4 ̋ to 7 ̋ in length and width are best.”

There are a couple of other guidelines beyond that – the big ones are no terrain in deployment zones, no terrain within 3″ of another piece of terrain, no impassible terrain within 2″ of objectives or 4″ of flags.

Also, we have had a tendency to set our terrain up pretty much in a symmetrical fashion. This has been fine for our games in the past since we were mostly playing some kind of caster kill and just getting our heads around the game. The problem with this in the longer term is that there is no real reason to consider taking a table side if you win the roll off to see who goes first. The terrain should be even (i.e. if there is a wall on one side of the table there should be something that provides cover somewhere on the other side which may or may not be a wall – it doesn’t have to be exact but it also shouldn’t be ridiculously one sided either).

Terrain adds extra dimensions both strategically and tactically and really enhances the game so I recommend people give this a shot. Also, terrain that sets up a story is always full of win in my book. It is possible to be both fluffy and balanced. Strive for that gaming Nirvana.

“The Final Countdown”
This next category is one certain to cause a fair amount of controversy. Yes, that’s right, I am talking about timed games. There are 2 basic kinds of timed games for SR2013 play and each have their advantages and disadvantages and I will talk a little bit about each of them. I am going to use 35 points as an example for both formats since that is a fairly common size at our game nights.

First up is Death Clock. It sounds intimidating, but really it just means that both players start the game with a “bucket” containing the same amount of time as determined by the size of game being played. This is basically like using chess clocks for those of you who have seen it. A 35 point game gives both players 42 minutes in total to use as they see fit. If a player runs out of time they lose the game immediately as if their caster had been assassinated. They are usually said to have “clocked themselves”. Interestingly, in an actual tournament, there is a round timer going as well which is set to the total of both players clocks (so 84 minutes in our example). This can come up if you have been pausing clocks a lot but it is rare. Deployment is done on the clock in Death Clock.

There are several benefits to the Death Clock format. You can bank up time on those early turns by keeping them quick. You can take your time on those long feat turns and don’t have to worry about running out of time (unless you are very near the end of your clock). The tournament organizer can predict very closely to how long the total tournament is going to run. A game will rarely end in a tie and you are far less likely to have to rely on tie-breakers to determine the winner. It allows list styles and casters which might be unfeasible under timed turns.

However, Death Clock is not without its drawbacks. If one player gets a significant time advantage they can start to play the clock by withdrawing and hoping to force their opponent to run out of time. A player can determine that they don’t feasibly have a chance for the scenario and the format discourages just trying to get an advantage on scenario points. Chess clocks can be expensive (although there are a lot of good free apps for smart phones).

Timed turns present their own set of benefits and drawbacks. For 35 point games each player gets 7 minutes to complete their turn with one optional extension of 3 minutes for a total game length of 70 minutes +/- d3 minutes x the extension duration (so the actual game round time is from 61-79 minutes). The variable is included to keep players from knowing exactly when the game is going to end and stalling on their turns as the game goes on if they are in a superior position for tiebreakers. If a player forgets to send the clock over their opponent when they are done with their turn it can have dire consequences.

Now, on to the benefits of this format. Your time management is forced but the hard deadline of the turn time. Your opponent has the exact same amount of time per turn as you. It keeps the game moving at a quick pace through the entire game. There is a very real reason to try and get up even just 1 or 2 control points and hold.

The main drawbacks: a player in a superior position could start to “slow play” toward the end of the round and use the full 7 minutes hoping for the game to end. It can be difficult to run some casters who have long feats and some list styles don’t work as well like mass infantry or heavy shooting for example simply because those tend to take a little longer to resolve. A player can play “keep away” a bit more effectively and prevent a solid engagement. A game can end in a tie.

My personal preference is Death Clock. I like being able to take a long turn or two if needed and a draw to me is always less than satisfying. I would rather a clean loss than a draw. That being said, some people prefer timed turns and a lot of the time when you are playing in a tournament it will largely depend on what timing devices the store has available. As an organizer Death Clock is preferable as well for the aforementioned reasons.

Either way I highly recommend putting some kind of clock on the game. I find that regardless of the result, playing a 4 hour 35 point game feels like a loss to both players. If you are intimidated use casual or relaxed timing – say 10 minutes per turn for a 35 point game just to get used to playing with a clock.

“Why are we doing this again?”

There are 3 core concepts for victory conditions in the SR2013 scenarios. These concepts are Zones, Flags, and Objectives. I’ll talk a little bit about those below. These concepts are what allow you to score control points and win games by scenario. Control points are also an important tie breaker for both the game round and the tournament as a whole so I would recommend you try and get them while keeping your opponent from doing the same.

There are only 2 kinds of zones. Rectangles that are 6″x12″ and a 12″ circle. Regardless of the shape they have the same basic rules for scoring. You have to have a friendly model in the zone and there can be no enemy models in the zone to control it. Additionally, if the models you are trying to control a zone with are part of a unit, the unit must be at least at 50% of its starting strength with all members of the unit in the zone. Jacks, beasts, and solos as long as they are functional can control it even if just down to a single box. Contesting a zone does not have the at requirement, just a single model in the zone will contest but it cannot be fleeing or a beast or jack without a controller.

Casters cannot contest a zone. Nor do they control a zone. Instead, they “dominate” a zone which typically gives you an extra control point. You cannot both control and dominate a zone.

Flags are “models” that are on 40mm bases. They are incorporeal which means that you can move through them as long as you can get completely past their base. They can’t be targeted or affected in any way. You can also draw line of site through them. The way you score a flag is by having one or move models in base to base with the flag and no enemy models within 4″ of the flag. Like with zones, there is no additional requirement for solos, beasts, or jacks. For a unit the entire unit must be within 4″ of it and the unit must still be at or above 50% of its starting strength.

The dominate rules are the same as above with the exception that the caster has to be base to base with the flag.

The final scoring concept is the objective. This is a 50mm model and each scenario contains a card with the stats of the objective for the scenario. Whereas flags are, for the most part, static and not “interactable” objectives can be targeted and destroyed (often for points) and many of them do stuff. There is also the idea of friendly and enemy objectives. An enemy objective counts as a an enemy model for all practical purposes including contesting zones.

Typically objectives can only be dominated by the caster and the caster must be within 2″ and no enemy models within 2″.

There is a wider variety of scenario specifics for objectives than for flags so I will just refer you to the specific scenario for the rules governing that objective. As I am doing scenario overviews I will also cover them more in depth.

Whether dealing with zones, flags, or objectives you cannot score control points until the end of the second player’s second turn. Objectives can be neither targeted nor damaged until the second player’s second turn and only one objective can be damaged per turn (thus only one can be destroyed per turn).

Scenarios are great because there are some casters who really just do not compete in caster kill only games but shine in a scenario game. Maybe that caster you may have loved the background or the model for but could never quite make work will be able to show you the good stuff.

The point of this series and the recommended scenario at Emerald Knights is not to force people to play a game they don’t want to play. It is totally optional but highly recommend because it can really open the game up in new ways. At the end of the day though, this is a hobby and a pastime – so please enjoy it!

I have rambled on this longer than I expected to and God forbid I edit so instead I am just going to wrap this up here.

The next article will be on Scenario 2: Supply and Demand (since my group has already done our game night focus on Scenario 1. I will get back to it eventually though.