Saturday, April 20, 2024
Battle Reports

Tunguska vs. Vanilla Combined

  • Mindwip
  • Lt roll: V Combined
  • First turn: V Combined

Background

Returning to Maplewood for another NJ tourney, this time with big (Lobo) and familiar (Jon) players out, it’s a mostly new New Jersey crew. Run by Kyle (toasty) from NYC, we’re prepping for a three rounder with one custom missions and two generally good ITS ones.

A few days prior, Kony and the rest of the Carlos Belli team decide to drop a reinforcements update that has added profiles to army. Also fortuitously, Lobo posted a Szally plus Grenzer list which I tweaked and played against Jon in a practice game of Mindwipe earlier in the week. I decided to sub out the Zondnaut for a Rounder Hacker to leverage that NCO and a smaller base (plus fireteam option) to hide in my DZ.

It’s a weird feeling using a net list. I don’t like it, but… the tools are familiar to me, Szally, Grenzer and Interventor featured Securitate team, Denma and Zellenkriegers. All regular features in my own lists, but remixed in a way that is better than I would have come up on my own, frankly. I switched a few things around to grab the marksmanship Grenzer and the aforementioned Rounder and decide that I am going to take one and only one list to the shop. I could have strategized more but my wife is pregnant and I am too distracted to theory craft. So I’m going to live and die by this list, come what may.

My opponent, Michael, is coming up from South Jersey along with his friends Angel (who works at the local FLGS) and AJ (a former paramedic). He’s playing Vanilla Combined. Once he says WIP 16, I figure it’s an Anathematic, but it turns out to be an interesting formation around a Charontid Lt with a Sogarat AP HMG as an NCO Kriza. There are some familiar staples, such as Bit and Kiss and a Q-Drone, but others that I wouldn’t expect, such as the lone Morat ML and the Fraacta hacker. There are enough points off the board that I think it might be Annie, not the Malignos.

(Imetron should be in group 2, recreating other people’s lists is hard)

I succeed on the Lt roll with a 1 but Michael succeeds better with a 9 so he chooses first turn and I have him deploy first.

Deployment

As is tradition with game 1, this will be the best documented game and I have pictures for just about every big move. Considering the high LT WIP I am expecting just about every CA hitter up to and including the Avatar (not realizing the Avatar is WIP 17). Considering all I don’t know about the list and do know from V CA’s reputation, I am expecting a rough hacking game and hoping my Rounder and Interventor can do the work they need to do. Michael’s deployment reveals some of the expected profiles for Vanilla CA–Bit and Kiss with a ML Q-Drone, flash pulse T-Drone, an Imetron, and some Ikadrons. This is reinforcing my fear of an Anathematic powered repeater network. Then the Charontid goes down and I am not quite dissuaded of this notion but I do at least realize it can also be the Lt and I have a mnemonica situation. I ask for loadout and it’s a plasma rifle and I know that even though it’s not high DAM, the saves on ARM+BTS with a template mode to ignore cover will be pretty rough for me. I ask if he’s paying a command token to hold back two models and Michael says he’s not, which given the points I can see on the board makes me even more nervous about what might be in hidden deployment, especially with two orders in group 2 for an Imetron and T-Drone.

Since I have a storm to weather, I decide to deploy the flash pulse profiles standing and overlooking the consoles. I need to blunt this advance. With the way his orders are displayed, I think I can handle this between the Grenzer and Szally looking over some short- to mid-range fire lanes. With the rooftops covered in flash, I decide to put Denma and the Zellenkriegers up towards the front of the DZ to hold off the advance of whatever comes, especially another warband (even if he’s not showing it), keeping the G2 Zellen prone on a rooftop so I have a DA CCW option to survive turn one. In my practice game with Jon earlier in the week, I had forgotten that you can’t kill servers on turn 1 and sent my Zellenkriegers too far up to die worthless deaths. I would play a little more cagey this time around.

The rest of my deployment is a bit of a hem and haw about where the link team should cover and where the TAG should cover. I figure since plasma is bad on 1W links including my Lt, the Grenzer will go down opposite side standing. He has a good view of both consoles and will make any attempt to touch the console contested. I do put the Rounder next to him which feels risky. With two MLs and a Plasma Rifle showing, that’s potentially giving up two models to a bad template, but there isn’t a ton of scatter to keep my Uberhacker otherwise hidden. The puppets go down to support the Szally’s future deployment with short firelanes and the Heckler forward deploys where it can apply jammer to anything willing to barrel through my left flank defenses towards Szally. I pass for reserves.

Michael’s reserve suprises me–it’s a Sogarat with AP HMG. With +1 Dam in some ways it’s what the Kriza wants to be (and now maybe both want to Silverstar Primes), though missing the burst bonus. The AP does raise the stocks on an HMG as does NCO and NWI compared to the burst bonus and mimetism on a Kriza. An interesting solo piece. Not what I would pick, not what I think the list best supports, but with a DA CCW and +1 Dam on CC and effectively 3 wounds it’s got a great toolkit to force my head down and smash a console as Plan A. I drop the Szally as my reserve and rather than strip orders decide to put it in suppressive fire looking towards the midfield approach of the Charontid, who can also solo. I figure having B3 is more likely to keep threats from moving forward than trying to strip the orders off a couple of orders that can be replaced via NCO. I pull Telemetry as one of my classifieds and there’s really nothing better for me so I take it. Denma rolls TI + Dogged, the G2 Zellen gets Mov 8-4, and the G1 Zellen gets something else good (I think also TI+Dogged) but won’t live long enough to care about it. Rounder is my Uberhacker and the Zerat is Michael’s.

One note on the table is that we play the buildings as taller than S7 to keep TAGs from marching down the field with impunity by vaulting all scenery, with the ladders still working as normal.

Top of Turn 1 – V Combined

As expected, the Sogarat goes to work, first downing my middle Transductor in the NCO order. From there, Denma is next as he can’t beat the B4 HMG with his smoke throw. 

Michael switches to try and take on the other Transductor with his Charontid and the fight ends up being ineffectual. This is probably a mistake on his part as it will expose his Charontid to me later, but deciding not to sink orders at bad range even with burst advantage is a good idea. 

The Sogarat takes out the G1 Zellenkrieger and then tries to take down the Warcor who ends up losing a couple face to face rolls but manages to tank saves and sap orders. He decides to move on the Grenzer who is at zero range, taking the free flash pulse off the Warcor who of course hits and drops the stun, ending the run in any event. Worse than that, the Grenzer drops a crit and Michael fails all three saves, going straight to dead. 

With the attack stopped, Michael tries to tap the console but the Grenzer prevents the Zerat from succeeding, though I can’t land a wound on her. Bit and Kiss try to put out some repeaters but they don’t go where it counts. With his group two orders, he moves the T-Drone up so its repeater will cover the console that the Zerat does not contest.

Bottom of Turn 1 – Tunguska

I cancel the remaining impetuous because the way forward is too exposed for my last Zellenkrieger. I flip the Szalamandra to group 1 with a command token due to the lack of orders in group 2. When in doubt, apply Szally. She breaks suppression, moves up to a rooftop and drops absolute rocks on the Charontid.

+3 range, -3 for cover, Szally applies B5 on 14s to the Charontid and drops… four crits. The Charontid shoots back and cancels the fifth hit and proceeds to take eight armor saves passing six and going into NWI. Not quite the production I expected, but I walk back with Szally and the next burst deletes the Charontid and passes the Lt to the Zerat, who can use the WIP bonus to touch a console. 

My plan was to drop bombs on the Zerat anyway, so the Heckler moves forward and deploys fast panda. The Interventor throws her mind bullets at the very, very resilient Zerat until it finally flatlines, transferring control to Bit. I then move the Rounder up to hit the console and Michael revealed the Malignos KHD at the end of my second move. 

I think I should have had an ARO here as the Malignos could have declared an ARO after the first check, but I just deleted his LT and then his other LT and we’re getting long in the tooth, so the Rounder eats an SMG shot and dies. I then push the remaining Zellenkrieger up with the group two orders into not a great position, hoping that its templates can menace anyone trying for the Zerat’s console.

Top of Turn 2 – V Combined

At this point, Kyle is hovering and letting us know that we’re playing into our lunch hour and we should get a move on. At this point, we know it’s going to be a two round game which will make things tight. We also realize that the datapacks from the Uberhackers can be picked up by new hackers, so killing consoles is still in reach for us.

Michael’s first move is to shift his Ikadron up to get the Zellenkrieger in repeater range to target + GML. He’s able to secure position and I dodge into position to put a template down over the Zerat if anyone comes for her, but not into line of fire of its flamethrower. He then drops a Fraacta hacker on, which is another surprise. I’m pretty pleased to see a Fraacta, I think they’re cool, though a four hacker CA list without Annie feels over invested in redundancy. The Fraacta gets the spotlight off on my Zellenkrieger. I don’t quite remember how it happens, but the Zellenkrieger will die in a couple of orders by failing a dodge or a smoke, I think to Bit maybe? And he downs Kiss in exchange? I can’t recall the exchange but my zoomy little Zellenkrieger joins the rest of MetaChemical Romance in space heaven.

His other moves were to get Bit over to the Zerat and to grab the uberhacker order. I tried to drop her with ARO mind bullets from the Interventor but she tanked the save, and even won some face to face hacking that I saved as well. Then, after walking through some of the risks, he had the Malignos touch the console and grab a point for Combined, revealing my console C (I think) as the server. 

I am pretty sure but not certain I downed the Malignos as a result. The Q-Drone also tried its hand at missiling my Transductor Zond so it could try and shoot the Heckler and/or the fast panda to remove my repeater coverage. Unfortunately B1 shots even at good range for both of us did not pay off. With his moves limited and orders expended, Michael passed the turn.

Bottom of Turn 2 – Tunguska

So at this point, the game will end 3-4 if I don’t make moves. I expend whatever command tokens I have left to power up group 1 and sink them into the puppets. It’s possible that I use my group 2 orders here to drop the Fraacta with my Heckler, leaning into cover plus mim to get her out of cover on B3 to B1 combis. Then the FO puppet moves up to tap the console and spends the rest of his orders forward observing her corpse to score me telemetry, taking it to a tight 5-4 Tunguska victory!

Post Game Analysis

I have to say that the game felt pretty good all things told. I feel like I did really well with deployment. Only thing I think I could have done better was position Denma and the G1 Zellenkrieger more defensively so they didn’t just eat lead in a single order a piece. That said, Michael was playing his Sogarat very aggro and effectively, so expecting an 8 or 12 point warband to endure withering fire from an AP HMG is probably not reasonable. Letting them die to strip him of an order and four inches of movement might have been good enough. I also missed the regular order that the Rounder generated due to the error in Army, so whoops. Definitely would have liked another group 1 order in turn one for something, even if it was revenge killing the Malignos with the Grenzer.

This was the first of three games where I spent a command token to shift Szally to group one. I don’t know how I feel about that. I think on the one hand, I like to let my TAG orders be limited so I don’t overcommit and lose it. On the other hand, Szally just shoots so good and in a shooting game it’s nice to have her powered up to remove threats. So I think more tinkering may be necessary between groups, but then what is group 2 doing?

In terms of playing the mission, I think a third turn sees me move into potential 10-1 territory. I have deleted most of Michael’s threats but Bit and I have a shot to take the Interventor to grab the package and run it forward. If not her then the Szally pilot is plan C. I might be overestimating what I can accomplish here since Bit will have a B3 Trinity at my Interventor. I fancy the Interventor in this exchange–she’ll be shooting on 18s with BTS 9 against 16s on BTS 6. It’s probably dicier than I credit and this game has proved both the limit and power of burst value a couple of times. That said, having Szally walking into turn 3 feels pretty advantageous. But for the Q-drone and Vanguard ML there aren’t really effective tools to remove it unless Bit wants to sink orders to grab pitchers out of baggage, get an angle, and try to carbonite, all the while unpicking some traps with the repeater, the jammer, and the puppets. Possible but that’s probably a whole turn in which case I still win without doing anything. But dice and luck matter a lot in this game, so I’m more than happy to walk away at turn 2 with a W and not press my luck to see how it otherwise could have turned.

Due to timing, we didn’t get to debrief much as we hustled for lunch. Michael apologized for being a slow player but I don’t really think that’s his fault. If he wasn’t slow, I’d be slow so at worst we were both slow. I did mention that I think it might have been a good idea to try and fight the Grenzer with the Vanguard. Sure, the Morat probably dies but clipping the Rounder with a template would have been devastating and if he gets a lucky crit that entire flank collapses. As it was, the Grenzer ended up being oppressive with lines of sight over the two consoles and marksmanship to take everything basically on 12s or better and B2 or better so a high risk/high reward play to at least get my head down felt worth it, especially before the Sogarat fight. Even just getting a repeater on my team to threaten GML is a worthy play.

Also, you can’t fight luck. A crit with the Grenzer and four with Szally really spelled doom for whatever was on the other side of the exchange. When you roll 20s to shoot at 1s to save, there’s not much to argue with. That said, it might have made sense to tinker with the list and lean into the Annie archetype–Bit throws out repeaters, Annie crushes with Trinity. I think that would have been pretty scary for me. I also think his list was missing a Taigha. Something disposable with a chain rife to chuck up the field and kill the Grenzer would again have shifted the game. But all in all, it was a fun list with some less than normally seen tools. The Zerat is a good Uberhacker with mim-6 and the pocket Fraacta meant that he was never truly out of tools until it hit the board. A Dartok or Greif might have been a better sub but it was a cool list and great opponent to play against and I look forward to our next game.

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