Author Topic: Vlachold vs Monsters & Mercs: Breaking Point  (Read 517 times)

Hannibal

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Vlachold vs Monsters & Mercs: Breaking Point
« on: July 06, 2014, 01:47:05 AM »
Last week, I sat down with Scott (opimius) to discuss some concerns I had about some of the changes we made to Vlachold.  Chief among them was that Halberdiers only getting +1 Pow when Holding vs charging Large/Cavalry weakened them too much. 

He explained his primary objection being this:  Halbers get +1 Pow because they're two handed pole-axes.  And while they can be braced against a charging enemy, when they do so, they have no appreciable gain from wielding the weapon with two hands.  In essence, when braced, they're just spears.  I could see that, but I had concerns and so we agreed to try them out against Monsters & Mercs, where there'd be a relatively high chance that Scott would take a T4 unit.

We ended up playing Breaking Point on Map 1B.  Full disclosure on this session report:  My cell phone died and I couldn't take pictures, so I recreated them when I got home.  The motions are right, but I may have forgotten to mark a damage box here or there between pictures.

Monster & Mercs:  2 Half-Orc Spearmen, 2 Ogres, 1 Earth Elemental, 1 Giant

Vlachold:  1 Voynik Spearmen, 1 Voynik Swordsmen, 1 Voynik Hillfolk, 1 Curteni Halberdiers, 2 Voynik Thralls, 1 Tepes Lords, 1 Kraynik Lancers, 1 Warriors in the Mist.

Vlachold units for reference:

Voynik Swordsmen - Core - 195 pts
O:(5)5/5  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  3G/5Y/2R

Voynik Spearmen - Core - 217 pts
O:(6*)5*/5*  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  3G/5Y/2R
O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.

Voynik Hillfolk - Core - 222 pts
O:(5)5/6  D:1*/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 5"  3G/5Y/2R
D:+1/+0 vs ranged attacks.

Curteni Halberdiers - Core - 222 pts
O:(6*)5*/6*  D:1*/3  Rge:-  Cge: 11  Mv: 2.5"  4G/4Y/2R
O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+1 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  D:+1/+0 vs ranged attacks.

Tepes Lords - Standard - 304 pts
O:(5)6/6  D:2/3  Rge:-  Cge: 11  Mv: 3.5"  4G/3Y/3R
Red Harvest.  Drain:  3.5" range.  May not Drain Voivode Knights.  Blood Powers:  Blood is Life, Inhuman Frenzy, Unholy Aura. (Note:  they have 2 Blood Point boxes.)

Voynik Thralls - Standard - 149 pts
O:(5)4/5  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12*  Mv: 3.5"  3G/2Y/5R
When you lose a damage box from Drain, mark a [sacrifice] box.  For every marked [sacrifice] box, gain +1 Cge.  (Note, the unit has 3 [sacrifice] boxes)

Kraynik Lancers - Standard - 242 pts
O:(6)5/5*  D:2*/2  Rge:-  Cge: 11  Mv: 7"  2G/2Y/2R
Cavalry.  O:(+0)+0/+2 and D:+1/+0 when charging.  Red Harvest. Drain:  7" range.  May not Drain Voivode Knights or Tepes Lords.  Blood Powers:  Blood is Life.  (Note: they have 1 Blood Point box)

Warriors in the Mist - Elite - 283 pts
O:(5)4/8  D:4/0  Rge:-  Cge:-  Mv: 3.5"  4G/4Y/4R
Terrifying.  Always has the "Close" Standing Order and may not be given a Standing Order Modifier or be directly controlled. Passes all Courage Checks. You may not play Command Cards on this unit.  No Perserverance box.


Deployment


M&M (L->R):  Earth Elemental, Half Orcs, Ogres, Ogres, Half Orcs, Giant

Vlachold (L->R):  Hillfolk (in front of Kraynik Lancers), Swordsmen (in front of Warriors in the Mist), Tepes Lords, Thralls & Swordsmen (in front of Thralls), Curteni Haberdiers.

Right away I made a major mistake in overloading my right flank too much.  Either the Warriors in the Mist or the Kraynik Lancers needed to go on the other flank.  I tried to adjust this by giving the Hillfolk and objective that would put them in front of the Swordsmen, but this still meant I'd have a unit lost in the back ranks.  The Kraynik Lancers got an objective that would carry them around the flank.  Elsewhere, I gave the Tepes Lords a Close order while the Thralls and Curteni on the far right got Hold with objectives. 

Scott was fairly complicated for him:  giving Close with objectives for both his Ogres and the Half Orc Spearmen.


Vlachold Redeploy


Having spent fewer points, I opted to go second to gain the CAs in what was Glaring Mistake #2.  See, the Ogres moved 3.5" up the hill, so the side that went first would be able to capture the high ground.  Essentially, I just gave that high ground away to the Ogres in the center. 

This right here is my case for why doing away with the wonky First turn was good.  Now, the player who goes first has the ability to grab terrain while the other person gets more CAs.  Before, one player would get both more CAs and move first, with no trade off at all.

During this maneuver, the Tepes Lords drained 2 boxes from the Thralls, both to boost their Courage but also to gain the blood points.


Closing In


Continuing the example of why it was a bad idea to move second:  if I had gone first, those Warriors in the Mist would be 3.5" forward and ready to flank the Earth Elemental on the left.  Instead, the Hillfolk (who I DC'd to not go charging in this turn) would have to endure 3 turns of beating from the Earth Elemental instead of just 1.  This would have freed up those Swordsmen to start moving right up the hill to bolster my line.  Also, I would have captured the high ground with my Tepes Lords this turn.


Manueverin' Monsters and Mercenaries


On his turn, Scott DC'd the central Ogres to grab the high ground while the other moved forward to get into range of the Thralls.  The Half Orcs on the left side of the hill had their Standing Order changed to threaten the flank of the Tepes Lords if I charged.

The Earth Elemental slammed home, putting the Hillfolk into the Yellow, but they passed their check.  On the other side of the hill, the Half Orcs and the Giant charged, with neither unit doing much damage at all.  The Voynik Swordsmen actually put 2 wounds on the Half Orcs and the Holding Curteni Halberdiers put 2 pts on the Giant.


Curteni Rout


On my turn, I hold back the Tepes Lords to keep from getting pinched but this was actually a mistake:  the Half Orcs would never get there before my Kraynik Lancers rear charged them.  Scott had gotten me to dance and waste CAs foolishly.

On the left, the Warriors in the Mist moved up.  Now it didn't matter whether or not the Hillfolk held.  Worst case for me, the Earth Elemental would rout them and the Swordsmen but still get flanked. Best case, the Earth Elemental got pinched.

On the right, disaster struck.  The Curtenti Halberdiers, despite having +2 Cge from Dogged Toughness and Perserverance marked (which could functionally grant +1 Courage), failed a Yellow check.  Yeah, basically I failed a Cge 14 Yellow check.  The Curteni were destroyed in Free Attacks. 

Also on that flank, the Voynik Swordsmen were put into the Yellow but they passed their check.  Ironically, it would have been better if they'd failed.  It was unlikely the Half Orcs could do enough damage to force a Red check and it would have pulled the Hill Giant out of position to charge a fleeing unit.


Giant in the Playground


The Giant pinched the Voynik Spearmen, who not only pass their pinch check, but pass their rout check with a single box left!  (Basically a 1-in-5 chance of passing that sequence of checks).  On the hill, one unit of Ogres holds back while the other charges the Thralls.  Scott is more than willing to let my Tepes Lords stand there.  Time only favors him.

The Ogres put the Thralls into the red, but they pass their check with a functional Cge 14.

On the left side, the Half Orcs reform to face the Kraynik Lancers while the Earth Elemental whiffs against the Hillfolk.


Warriors!  Come out to plaaaaay...


On the left, the Warriors in the Mist hit with every attack and one-shot the Earth Elemental (with an assist from the Hillfolk).  However, the Earth Elemental puts the Hillfolk into the red and they Disrupt.  The Kraynik Lancers opt not to final rush Holding spearmen, and instead work to maneuver.

On the hill, the Tepes Lords charge the uphill Ogres, with both sides now needing 3s and 3s.  I erase a blood point to activate Unholy Aura to make myself Terrifying.  So instead of taking a Fear check, the Ogres have to take one.  But the Ogres pass.

The Thralls are beat up pretty good by the Ogres, but they pass their second rout check.

On the right, Voynik Swordsmen are destroyed and the Thralls step into the pinch.


Beating on the Thralls


The Hill Giant and Half Orcs combine to put the Thralls into the red, but they pass a Cge 12 check on their own.  On the hill, the Ogres finish off the Thralls while the Tepes Lords put the Ogres into the Yellow.  The Ogres, however, pass their check.

On the left side of the hill, the Half Orcs stand fast against the coming pinch.  You may wonder why Scott didn't try to maneuver.  The reason is because between the Kraynik Lancers and the Hillfolk, there were no way he could maneuver and keep all three units out of his flank.  So he opted instead of take the card and use it elsewhere.


Last Chance for Vlachold


The Warriors in the Mist flank charge the Half Orcs, putting them into the Yellow.  The Half Orcs pass their check.  I DC the Kraynik Lancers to sidestep, so I can flank the the Ogres rather than charge into the face of Holding Spearmen.

On the hill, I know the Tepes Lords are going to get flanked.  I play my best Red card on them to maybe run off the Ogres and only have the tepes Lords be flanked.  Unfortunately, the Ogres pass their red check, meaning I'm getting pinched.  But at least, I move my Voynik Swordsmen sideways so that they can flank the flankers.

On the right the Voynik Thralls are cut down by the pinching Half Orcs and Hill Giant.


Pinched


The Ogres flank pinch the Tepes Lords, but I pass the pre-combat rout check (remember Vlachold has no green courage bailouts; they're all part of Blue cards) and with the assistance of Dogged Toughness pass the red check.  The Tepes Lords put a point on the Ogres, but they pass.  Again.

We noted an interesting use of Unholy Aura here.  The rule reads:  "During the Pre-Combat Courage phase, erase 1 Blood Point to become Terrifying this turn.  Engaged units must take Terrifying check as if they were charged."

Meaning that I could use it on the charging Ogres to not only not have to take a Fear check, but the flanking-pinching Ogres would have to take a Terrifying check.  We were okay with the former (i.e. not taking the Fear check) but not the latter.  That just felt wrong.


On the left, the Warriors in the Mist do a measly 2 points and the Half Orcs pass their check.

This may not look it but this is an utter disaster for me.  See, the Half Orcs are position such that I don't have a 2.5" corridor between the centerpoint of my Kraynik Lancers and the Ogres on the hill.  Meaning, I have no Open Path.  Meaning, I can't final rush the Ogres.  Meaning, no pinch on them.  If I had, I would've likely been able to flank the other Ogre and salvage a draw out of this.

Gaaaah!   >:(

(I have no one to blame but myself.  Sloppy maneuvering on my part).


Flank Charges


With nothing else to charge, the Kraynik Lancers slammed into the flank of the Half Orc Spearmen.  They failed their first rout check in what was the M&M's first failed Rout Check.  Seriously, by the end of the game Scott was discarding Ordered Retreat cards for Roll with the Blow.  Predictably, the Half Orcs were wiped out.

On the hill, the Swordsmen flanked the Ogres, putting them into the Yellow.  They passed their check.  The Tepes Lords failed to do any damage (damn Roll with the Blow) and were destroyed.

At this point I could've conceded, as I was about 150pts away from breaking and the Hill Giant was in the flank of a 197pt Voynik Swordsmen unit.


Endgame


And here's us going through the motions.  The Hill Giant flank-pinches and the Voynik Swordsmen are destroyed after passing their pinch check.

A solid 4-2 victory for Monsters & Mercs with Scott sacrificing 600pts to cause 1200pts of damage.


Analysis:  Ain't no turning this cow pie into apple cobbler:  I was wretched this game.  I deployed poorly, then compounded it by choosing to go second, and then made mental lapses in this game that wasted turns and CAs.  Scott played a very tight, focused game and beat me soundly despite having 6 units to my 9.  And half of his units were either Stupid or auto-Close.


Vlachold Thoughts:  after this game we discussed several things, which will lead to some changes.

--Halberdiers:  I'm comfortable putting this one to bed that this unit is fine at +1 Pow when Holding vs charging Large/Cavalry.  This means that while on Hold, Voynik Spearmen & Halberdiers will have the same damage output.  I'm actually okay with this because one thing we noted was that we didn't use Voynik Spearmen much.  Which says to me that the Halberdiers were probably too good.  My experience is that usually when you have two different units with similar roles, one is usually just better at it.

What we noticed is that this change actually makes the two units operate differently.  Halberdiers, being D:1/3, are actually vulnerable to Large units because they'll usually be hit on 4s.  And although Halberdiers will be Pow 7 when Holding against the Large, they'll wound better in subsequent turns.  In other words, they are more of an offensive unit against Large guys.

Voynik Spearmen by contrast will be more of a defensive unit, because they have a better Courage and they are D:2/2.  The Def Skill 2 means that with a Parry they can hold off Large units for longer.

Both units have Courage issues (Halberdiers are Cge 11 with 4 Green boxes vs Voynik Spearmen with Cge 12 but only 3 Green boxes).  Both units will likely need Courage bailouts, but you'll drop red cards on the Halberdiers whereas you'll use Blue cards on the Spearmen.  They actually end up with different roles.

In this game, the Halberdiers blew a functional Cge 14, but we worked out the damage they'd inflict on the Hill Giant.  Had the Halberdiers gotten 2 more turns of combat (statistically what they should), they'd put the Hill Giant in the Yellow.  Not bad for a 220pt unit fighting a 500pt unit.  So, Halberdiers stay at +1 Pow when Holding.


--Thralls:  I'm very happy with this unit right now.  The Cge 12 with the 3 [Sacrifice] boxes is just right.  You can get them to Cge 15, but then the unit becomes a 0G/2Y/5R box unit.  I really like the dynamic of them having a bunch of Red boxes and so they take a lot of checks. 


--Unholy Aura:  the issue we discovered here is exactly why you playtest.  This is a simple fix so that only units engaged on the front of the vampire unit has to take a Terrifying check.  It's a simple case of adding one clause to the rule:  "During the Pre-Combat Courage phase, erase 1 Blood Point to become Terrifying this turn.  Enemy units engaged on the front of this unit must take Terrifying check as if they were charged."


--Punish their Mistake:  this command card has got to go.  I've played two games with it now and both times it sat in my hand.  That is troubling, so we decided to change it.

In talking about replacing it, one of the things we discussed was what we thought of the faction now that we'd made the changes we did in the Sixth Draft.  Both of us agree that the faction feels noticeably weaker.  And not in a "its was too good, now its right" kind of way.  The changes we made were more akin to "the faction is balanced, but there's aspects that can be unfun to play against."  And several of the changes we made were outright nerfs, so despite being less unfun to play against, the faction could be unfun to actually play.

With that in mind, we wanted to give the faction a little boost.  So we decided to replace Punish their Mistake with a Green Courage boost card.  Our current thinking is this:

Quote
Strength of Will:  Play during the Movement & Command Phase.  This unit rerolls any failed Courage checks this turn.  Mark the unit's Perserverance box (if unmarked).


We have a few other tweaks, but those can be found in the Sixth Draft thread.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 02:12:59 AM by Hannibal »