Friday, September 25, 2015

State of My Game

Most appropriate image I could think of
Greetings Gentlereaders,

It's been a while, but grad school has me doing enough reading and writing on my computer that I don't always get in a game, much less write about anything I don't have to.  Far from abandoning the blog, I've been trying to deepen my understanding of WM/H and playing Cygnar been doing a lot to help with that.  I'll be trying to give an impression of my experiences with each of my armies and the systems they exist within.  I'm still somewhat a journeyman with regards to both, but I'm learning more and thought it best to share that experience with you all.  Maybe there's something you hadn't considered that it will bring to light, maybe there's something I haven't seen that you can point out to me.  But enough talk, have at you!

When I started the game about a year ago, I was playing skorne exclusively and only had one caster to use.  I've been trying to stick to models I own so that if I wanted to go to a tournament I would be practiced with the lists I could bring.  I've been primarily playing two lists with a third in the background for when I get bored with the other two: pMorghoul, eHexeris, with pMakeda as third fiddle.

Each of them has been a bit lackluster for me in their own way, though this may be due to inexperience and model constraints I've placed on myself.  My pMorghoul list is almost entirely battlegroup with three heavies on Morghoul and Zaadesh running two cyclopses, while my eHexy list is focused around buffing two sentinels and two drakes to rain "bullets" on my opponent.  pMakeada is a bit more of a troop focused list with Molik, Marketh, a unit of cetrati and nihilators.  Each of these casters makes me think a bit differently and ask myself different questions as I play.  Morghoul makes me think about how to keep him alive and what pieces can I trade this turn, especially heavies.  Hexeris makes me worry about fury management and how hot can I run my beasts to clear infantry as well as dealing with non-living armor (e.g. Jacks).  Makeada is trying to make her feat more effective (I keep running into Ocean's) and how to get Molik onto the enemy caster.  Somehow, I haven't been able to get him an assassination with any caster yet.

After the WTC, I'm wondering just how much of an impact Skorne can have on competitive play.  The faction wasn't represented very well at the tournament, especially when compared to the top factions like Cryx and Trolls.  From my information, the worst caster of ours, Xerxis2, went 1-11, while our best performing, Xerxis, went 9-10. This is a game where focusing on one faction and a few casters can bring good results, as you know your strengths and weaknesses, but right now I'm in a situation where I don't have a great selection of models for skorne and it's reasonably hard to add more models to my collection at the moment.  So I'm not feeling to great about the prospects about expanding my collection of Skorne models at the moment.

Thankfully, I've got a backup army, Cygnar, and they are quite different from Skorne, both in playstyle and model availability.  I've got a pile of jacks and about four good units that will form the core of my purist armies going forward.  Some of the best Cygnar units are mercenaries, so I'm a bit short on the hot solos and jam units but for the most part I'm alright.  And I have a lot of casters.  I've only been playing two or three of them, but when I've dipped into others, they've been fun also.

For the Swans, I've been playing three casters: eHaley, eCaine and Seige.  Right now, each of them are asking me "how can I go for the assassination this turn" and "how much do I need to camp/what do I spend my available focus on."  Each of these three has very different ways of providing support to their armies and trying to go for assassinations.  With eHaley, I've gotten an assassination on pHaley through walking a unit of long gunners around the two colossals she was hiding behind.  With eCaine, I haven't actually gotten an assassination, but my opponent and I rolled out an attempt I didn't go for and I would have left Damiano at only one or two boxes under his feat, on a hill, and, I believe, under Sure Foot.  With Seige, I was able to slam one of my own models over pHaley and then have a pair of storm gunners fry her afterwards.

The biggest change in my mentality from playing Skorne to playing Cygnar is that I'm focusing more on finding ways to assassinate my opponent more than how to piece trade.  I tend to play safe with my warlocks and be more defensive.  When I'm playing a warcaster I've got a wider spell selection and I'm not concerned with being able to soak up fury from the beasts, but I know I can die more easily.  If I'm thinking about how my opponent can assassinate me, the ideas's already in my head, so I consider how I can assassinate them.

I've been enjoying Cygnar on the whole more and what's going to keep me there for a while is that I honestly feel like I enjoy the focus mechanic more than the fury mechanic.  I know that's heresy, and one of my PGs said I'm the first person he's ever heard say that, but I'm serious.  Fury is definitely strong and being able to shunt off damage is insanely powerful.  The thing is that warlocks, or at least the ones I have, are moderated a bit because of that.  Warcasters have better, if smaller, spell sheets and generally have higher focus stats.  If you're running multiple jacks this can mean you're running out of focus a lot faster, but if you don't you've got a much better spellslinger.  Additionally, Cygnar forces me to prepare a plan for what I'm going to need to do before I activate anything.  There's nothing like actually having to think about what you're doing to make you more aware of what you're doing.

Starting in Skorne, I've been playing long attrition-oriented games, and frankly losing beasts is worse than losing jacks in my experience.  Either way you lose a lot of damage output, but you lose a source of fury as opposed to losing a focus sink.  If it gets very late in the game, the warlock is cutting himself for fury while the warcaster is sitting pretty on a full stack.  Also, quite frankly, the casters I've been playing are fantastic turd polishers if the turd is the one holding the dice.  As are arc nodes, I love that rule more than should be allowed because it means my caster can sling spells from the front while being safe in the back.

So that's why I'm going to be playing Cygnar for the foreseeable future.  And saving up to get a new Stormwall to replace the one I foolishly sold.  It's going to take a while, but when I do I'll be more accustomed to focusing on how to make plans at the beginning of my turn rather than halfway through.  I'm hoping that by the time I get more models and then get tired of Cygnar, I'll have improved as a player enough that I can go back to playing Skorne and go looking for trouble.

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