Friday, February 21, 2014

Templecon - Dropzone Commander!

Well writing this up has taken a lot longer than I'd intended! Between being sick (Damn You, McCloud!!) and work and Titanfall Beta, well...I just put it off!

But hey, at Templecon a few weeks back I was able to play in a 1500 point Dropzone Commander tournament hosted by Simon and Dave (the wizards of Hawk Games)!

Brendan and I both participated, he with his nicely painted Shaltari, and me with my almost but not quite completely unpainted UCM! I took the dreaded Double-Ferrum list:

Double Ferrum
Clash: 1493/1500 points
Standard Army
Standard Roster [1493/1500 pts]
Field Command [168 pts]
Kodiak: Kodiak(Lieutenant) [168 pts]
Armored Formation [328 pts]
Sabre Squad: 3x Sabre, Condor(+Missile Pods) [152 pts]
Rapier Squad: 3x Rapier, Condor(+Missile Pods) [176 pts]
Legionnaire Corps [219 pts]
Legionnaires: 3x Legionnaires, Condor, 2x Bear [141 pts]
^ Sharing ^ Legionnaires: 3x Legionnaires [78 pts]
Legionnaire Corps [160 pts]
Legionnaires: 2x Legionnaires, Raven A [80 pts]
Legionnaires: 2x Legionnaires, Raven A [80 pts]
Special Ordinance [309 pts]
Gladius Squad: 2x Gladius, Condor [149 pts]
Ferrum: Ferrum [160 pts]
Special Ordinance [309 pts]
Gladius Squad: 2x Gladius, Condor [149 pts]
Ferrum: Ferrum [160 pts]

I literally had never put this army on the table before, in fact had only played half of a practice game fudging it on Vassal-40k! I was going to meet other DZC people and get some 'trigger time' in...not a lot of other local players here!

So, trepidation weighing in a bit, I took out my mins as the other attendees stood by. I am sad to say I was the only one with an unpainted army, which made me feel bad. Too many video games took away my time to paint! Many groaned at the double Ferrums, but hey...what can I say? I liked the idea of how it would work!

Now it's been a few weeks, and while I took a few pictures, none of them really captured much of the action and are effectively worthless, so please forgive lack of details and errors of memory!

My first opponent was Joe from the DC Area with his terrifying Scourge list:
Two Desolators
2 squads of Destroyers
3 squads of Prowlers
2 squads of Reapers
a squad of Hunters
a squad of Tormentors
and, as I recall, three squads of Warriors (but maybe just two...bad memory!)

The mission was one I wasn't familiar with, moreover Simon made some tweaks to how it would be scored. He was very clear in his description, but it didn't absorb in to my head. The mission was called Focal Points, where there are basically 5 'objective' areas that you get points for having a unit within 6" of. In addition, you get bonus points for having more points near a Focal Point than your opponent does. I understood this part, but what I didn't get my brain around (until well after the game) was that I only have to do this on the last turn of the messed up.

I knew his Tormentors would fry any Infantry out of any building I went in to. I also knew his Destroyers would absolutely wreck any Infantry they CQB'd (hell one squad could probably beat all of mine at the same time!). His Desolators would clear out vast swathes of guys if I clumped up too much...and they'd drop buildings I was in as well.

So with more of a Grab Objectives gamestyle, I zipped infantry in to FP buildings near my edge, and went mid-table with my big Infantry Condor. I then had to spend three turns clearing out all the Prowlers, and chased down the Tormentors with my Drones. While that was going on, he'd driven his Tormentors over to the building I'd dropped two big squads of infantry in and was having a nice human-barbeque. I couldn't get good shots at the Tormentors, despite my 'tank advantage', and sadly I grossly underestimated the killiness of the Plasma Hoses on all his dropships...which killed both my Ferrums while my Rapiers were horribly misplaced. Other than dropping the Desolators that would have tabled me if I'd let them, the only other good play I made was with my small infantry squads, when attacked by the Destroyers, I simply activated later that same turn, got back in dropships, and left, and went to another FP.

Those stupid little Walkers are such a pain!

Prowlers are gone, and Legionnaires run from the Destroyers!

Destroyers hold the FP on my side of the table, while I have guys near the others, but only hold the middle.

The game was a loss for me, but not a horrible one...I believe somewhere in the area of 13-7, something like that. Thanks for the game, Joe!

Game 2 was against Scott (piperider361 on DZC Forum)...also from the DC area. He was a fellow UCM player, using:
6 Sabers & 3 Rapiers in an Albatross
2 Gladii in a Condor
a squad of Snipers
a squad of Praetorians
2 squads of infantry
and a squad of 2 Archangels!

This was the mission I was prepped for...5 buildings with Objectives to be found and carried off the table. I felt like I had the stronger list...if I could avoid getting beaten piecemeal in CQB by the Praetorians, and if I could drop the Ferrum quickly enough, I'd have an advantage in the 'tank battle' and my Drones could focus on dropships.

But, as they say, no plan survives contact with the enemy. I went first, zipping some small infantry squads up, he then countered with his Archangels that blew one of their dropships up, leaving them stranded where they didn't want to be.

We then began stacking tank resources all in one long street that ran from one side of the table all the way across...a perfect long wide street for our tanks to have at each other. We both dropped Condors in front of our tanks, but things swung my way due to having more battlegroups available to play with (one of his was tied up with the Fast Movers), so I got to kill his blocking Condor and get unblocked shots at his tanks before he could shoot at mine. I focused on Rapiers first (to allow unrestricted Drone love) and sent one batch of Drones after his Ferrum (which died around turn 3) while another shot down the Praetorians' Raven, killing one of the stands. I then threw 6 bases of infantry in to his one Preatorian, killing him off for minimal loss!

But then again, while I'm busy killing off Rapiers and Ferrums and Condors, he was finding objectives like a boss. His snipers found one, and hightailed it off the table before I could touch them. His other infantry found theres, and I had no good way to stop them either. Near the end of turn 5, I had a spot of luck, and two infantry squads found the last two objectives, and I had unpurposefully (is that a word?!) left the Bears and Condor in great position so all the infantry could transfer to the Bears, and the Bears loaded on the Condor, and I was about 10" from the table problem!

So at the start of 6, he very calmly activated his Archangels (which I'd forgotten about). If my Condor makes it off the table, I have one stranded infantry unit with an objective left on, and 2 objectives off; to his 2 objectives off, for a 5-4 win...since I'd forgotten about his Archangels, I was pretty happy, thinking I had it in the bag! I would love to have had a picture of my face when he activated the Fast Movers and rolled for their attack run...

...and I'd also love to have a picture of his face when he rolled a 1 and they didn't show up, and I flew off the table!

I'd killed a pretty fair chunk of his army and I'd been left pretty unscathed, so I got a lot of bonus points (I'm not clear on how this metric worked...but from what I understand the winner got bonus points for killing more than his opponent did, but not vice versa). Yeah! My first win!

The UCM Armored Forces square off against each other!

Unpainted Drones go Ferrum hunting!

Winning the tank fight, but where are those damned objectives?!

Then my final match was against Quinn, of the Fight in the Shade blog! He's DZC Zealot on the Hawk Forums. He was using a very squirmy Shaltari list that I had a really hard time getting my head around:
2 Jaguars
2 Firedrakes (!)
2 squads of Braves
2 squads of Firstborn
a Tomahawk Squad
a Kukri Squad
a small Yari squad
and a million gates (I couldn't keep track!)

This was another FP mission, but the regular buildings were replaced with Bunkers...basically buildings that could not be targeted/destroyed in any way, and infantry inside could not shoot out.

The matchup was worrisome to me. My only test game was against a lot of Jaguars, so I knew the AA was mroe than enough to rip apart my Drones. I know the Firstborn are about as mean as things get in CQB, so I didn't want to go there either. The Firedrakes I had a healthy respect for due to their long range and area effect. This was not a matchup I felt great about!

So, I played reserved and cagey. Having learned my lesson on Focal Point missions, I did not commit my infantry early at all. I kept them in their dropships and well away from his AA. I used Drone and Gladii positioning to keep him from pushing in to the center of the table (which was relatively wide open). We killed very little of each other's armies...I lost a Ferrum early due to careless stupidity...I was hiding it behind a building. I knew there was some rule that bad things happened if a building collapsed while you were near it, but I didn't know it was YOUR SHIT IS DESTROYED. Moreover, I assumed it was a 20 damage point building, but instead it was a 10. This cost me a Ferrum. Boo. Lesson learned there.

As it evolved, we both played extremely cagely. He did not drop down the Firstborn until the 6th turn. I had the middle objective locked up. We both had the objectives in our deployment zones locked up. The objectives in the corners were  a toss up, so in turn 6 he did Shaltari gate tricks to drop his last Jaguar and the Firstborn near one (giving him a very large point lead there), while he shuffled his Kukri to the other, putting him up by just a handful of points. I did some math (annoying everyone that was waiting for us to finish so we could go eat!) and realized that if I killed one Kukri, I'd have that FP (giving me control of 3 to his 2). I asked others to confirm this, so out came the smartphone calculators, and it was confirmed, but Q didn't see the Hail Mary I was about to attempt...

His Braves hunker in that middle bunker, but my Gladii outscore them. The rest of his stuff hides. Note the Ravens at right, with infantry to threaten two objectives.
...I moved 4 surviving Drones to have LOS to the Kukri (without getting close enough to get shot!), and my mighty Kodiak...the 1 rolling machine of death and cable TV, took his shot. I needed a 5 to hit (2+, target moved for 3+, skimmer for 5+), but I had an Assisted Targeting the odds weren't that bad. Regardless, my Commander found the mark on his first shot, and somehow managed to not roll a 1 for the damage roll, and that was it! Another win!

I thought I had this objective locked up....until that Gate brought a giant Walker over and stole it from me!

I have to say, that last game vs. Quinn was one of the most tense, cerebral, and exciting table-top wargames I've ever played. We only killed a small fraction of each other's armies (I think I killed like 290 he killed 280? something like that!), but the maneuver and counter-maneuver we did was awesome, and that Hail Mary at the end coming that was a blast! No game of 40k has made me feel like that game did!

After the game we helped clean up, and all of us went to drinks and food with Simon and Dave and picked their brains about all kinds of things: the politics in the UK driving the Scotland Independence vote; game balance and designing for sustainable growth; and of course bashing Games Workshop!

This day playing DZC was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me. I really enjoyed the game, and had an amazing time talking with Simon and Dave throughout the day, and I kept going back to chat with them thru the weekend when I got a chance between 40k games!

Simon and Dave, thanks for a great game, a great tournament, and a great weekend! I look forward to seeing you guys again at NOVA! And thanks to Joe, Scott, and Quinn! I hope to see you guys at NOVA too!

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