Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pod Tournament Report Game 1: Beast Master Xekaar vs. Tyrant Xerxis (75pts)

This past Thursday, I played the first game of the multi-week pod tournament that spans the Twin Cities meta.  Since I put myself down as being able to play at any store, I was used to make up the numbers at Fantasy Flight Game Center.  It's not my closest FLGS, but it's a great place, and the local meta includes a bunch of people I've seen around in various places.

I was running Beast Master Xekaar, Master Ascetic Naaresh, and Void Seer Mordikaar.  My opponent, Jeff, was also running Skorne, with Tyrant Xerxis, Supreme Archdomina Makeda, and one other (I forget who).  I picked Xekaar because the Xerxis list looked melee focused enough that I'd be able to grind it down with shooting, and out-attrition it, and I wanted Mortality in the game to stop Stay Death shenanigans from Mak2.  Jeff went with Xerxis because that list had the armor cracking to deal with my bricks, and plenty of its own armor to shrug off Mordikaar.

My full Xekaar list is:

Beast Master Xekaar (*31pts) - Winds of Death Theme
*Titan Cannoneer (17pts)
*Aradus Sentinel (16pts)
*Aradus Sentinel (16pts)
*Titan Gladiator (15pts)
*Basilisk Krea (7pts)
*Agonizer (6pts)
*Aptimus Marketh (5pts)

Mortitheurge Willbreaker (4pts)

Venator Slingers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (13pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)

Objective: Effigy of Valor

Siege Animantrax (17pts)
Mortitheurge Willbreaker (4pts)
Extoller Soulward (3pts)
Extoller Soulward (3pts)
Venator Reivers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (9pts)
Venator Reivers Officer and Standard Bearer (4pts)
Venator Flayer Cannon Crew (0pts - theme benefit if I include the Reivers in the main list)

This is basically a shooty brick.  It wants to deal a lot of damage at medium range, Feat when the enemy gets too close, and counter with melee.  It's weaker into armies that can ignore its ranged game, and it suffers from Xekaar's general flimsiness.  Of all my lists, it's the one I'm least sure about, and this will be my first game with Xekaar besides 2 battlebox games I got toward the beginning of MkIII.  For this game, I decided to swap out the Krea for the two Extollers, because Skorne runs living beasts and infantry, and I wanted to vaporize them with eyelasers.

Jeff went with:

Tyrant Xerxis (*28pts)
*Bronzeback Titan (18pts)
*Titan Gladiator (15pts)
*Basilisk Krea (7pts)
*Agonizer (6pts)

Siege Animantrax (17pts)

Extoller Soulward (3pts)

Cataphract Cetrati (Leader and 5 Grunts) (18pts)
*Command Attachment (Tyrant Vorkesh) (6pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)
Tyrant Commander and Standard Bearer (6pts)

Objective: Effigy of Valor

Brick vs. Brick.  This list is dangerous at close quarters, and very hard to remove.  Apart from the Animantrax, it's pretty slow.  Also, while its attacks are all high quality, it doesn't have many of them.  Time to see what happens.

Scenario and Deployment

We played Scenario 5: Extraction.  Each player has one objective in the middle of their side of the table, and there are 2 flags on the center line.  Control or dominate a flag, or destroy your opponent's objective for 1pt.  Kill Box is in effect.

I won the roll, and chose to go first.  Jeff chose the table side he was on, which looked a little clogged by terrain, but perhaps he had a plan.

I put my Theme Force wall on my left side, since I was planning to grab that flag (Jeff was sort-of blocked off from it by a forest), and the wall would be a good place to stash solos and/or Xekaar if the fighting became too contested over there.  I put the regular deployment Beasts where they could get through terrain, and the Beast Handlers nearby.  The Extollers went in the middle-ish, and Marketh and the Willbreaker went more toward the right.

Jeff deployed in a solid brick, with the Gladiator on the right, the Animantrax on the left, and everything else in the middle.  The Paingivers deployed near the Animantrax to whip it up on turn 1.

I Advance Deployed my Aradi right behind a forest on my center-left the other beasts would have trouble with, and put the Slingers behind my free wall on the right.

Xekaar Turn 1

Mostly I ran into position with plenty of Rush peppered in to get those slow-moving bugs where I needed them to go.  The Paingivers wound up walking to get some Fury management in.

An ok first turn.  The real question was: how much was Jeff going to let me shoot?

Xerxis Turn 1

The Gladiator Rushed and Trampled through the forest.  Xerxis put Defender's Ward on the Cetrati, and Tactical Supremacy on the Bronzeback, and walked forward.  The Cetrati advanced in Shield Wall.  The Bronzeback walked and repositioned forward to keep pace.  The Paingivers whipped up the Animantrax, which got a bit ahead of the rest of the force, still well short of its top speed.  The Krea went up behind the Cetrati with Force Aura up.

Due to terrain, Jeff's advance was indeed a little staggered.  His lead models would also be in range of my guns.  A fistfight with Xerxis is a bad idea, so it was time to soften him up at range.

Xekaar Turn 2

The Slingers wandered into the way of the Cetrati, and put Flare on the Gladiator.  Then Marketh got Mortality on the Gladiator, then the 3 gun beasts shot it down.  The Agonizer used Gnawing Pain, and everybody else stayed mostly put, except Xekaar, who walked into the Kill Box.

A simple second turn, but a successful one.  I'd taken out a heavy, and taken Rush out of the equation.  Nothing critical was exposed.  The Cetrati could reach my Slingers, but the only other model in threat range was the Animantrax, which could get to one Aradus.

Xerxis Turn 2

Xerxis upkept his spells.

The Tyrant Commander sped up the Cetrati, who continued to advance in Shield Wall, and killed a couple Slingers.  The Animantrax charged the Aradus it could reach, but failed to kill the bug.  It remained engaging me though.  The Bronzeback moved and repositioned up near the Cetrati, and Xerxis Lurched it a little further forward.  The Paingivers and Extoller ran to keep up with the Animantrax.  The Krea and the Agonizer stayed behind the Cetrati and Bronzeback, and used their respective auras.

The Bronzeback was very close, a ploy to tempt me into melee?  I was still in a good position to shoot, however, especially with so many Slingers still alive.

Xekaar Turn 3

Very little motion on the battle line.  Marketh Mortality'd the Bronzeback, while the Cannoneer and Extollers took it out.  Xekaar did some healing, and Mortality'd the Animantrax, which was taken out by the other two bugs.  The Slingers continued their pivotal stand-in-the-way-of-the-Cetrati maneuver with Tough from the Mortitheurge.  The Agonizer continued to do wail Gnawing Pain.

Another very successful turn.  All I'd need to do now was deal with the Cetrati, and I'd be set.  The Slingers were still blocking them pretty effectively, and my heavies were right behind them, ready to get into melee.

Xerxis Turn 3

Xerxis upkept Defender's Ward.  The Paingivers ran to support the battle line and surround (but not score due to one or two who were out of position) the right flag.  The Tyrant Commander advanced.  Xerxis made the Cetrati more powerful with Stir the Blood.  The Cetrati advanced further, and killed some more Slingers.  The Krea and Agonizer advanced, and used their respective auras.

Xerxis' Feat hadn't done much damage, but it was giving the Cetrati an Armor bonus.  The main problem for me was that right flag.  Jeff's models were out of position to score it this turn, but I'd really need t  I'd need to get rid of the Cetrati but still go after it.

Xekaar Turn 4

Because I'd been sloppy last turn, the Cannoneer frenzied into the Aradus next to it for moderate damage.

The right Aradus killed the Agonizer and 2 Paingivers.  The left Aradus advanced, and killed the lead Cetratus in melee.  It also used its Animus to debuff any Cetrati who could get to it.  The last of the Slingers advanced into position in front of the other Cetrati.  Xekaar popped his Feat, cast Psycho-Surgery, and did some healing.  The Agonizer continued to use Gnawing Pain.

Jeff was going to be at -5 to a lot of attack and damage rolls coming up due to my stacked debuffs.  The real question was - would it be enough to make him pop his Feat?  I was pretty confident about the remaining Cetrati not having enough damage output through my defensive tech to be much of a problem, but Xerxis' Feat has a defensive side that could keep them in the game longer than I'd like.

Xerxis Turn 4

Xerxis upkept Defender's Ward.  The Tyrant Commander charged and damaged the right Aradus.  The Paingivers gathered round the right flag to claim it.  The Cetrati whiffed their attacks against the remaining Slingers.  The Krea continued to put up her aura.

Jeff scored one point for controlling the right flag.  I'd need to contest it if I wanted to stay in the game, and I didn't have a lot over on that flank.  My other pressing concern was the clock, which was starting to run a little low.

Xekaar Turn 5

The last 3 Slingers gloriously died to free strikes running out of the way.  I intended to do maximum damage to the Cetrati, so the Cannoneer, Gladiator, and central Aradus charged in.  I killed two more (tough rolls and that 13/24 defense profile nipped that in the bud), but wasn't able to claim the left flag.  The right Aradus contested the right flag and killed a Paingiver.  Xekaar spent a lot of his Fury healing the battlegroup again.

I hadn't done as much as I wanted to, but time was really running short.  I'd have to hope I could accomplish enough next turn.  I was seriously starting to run short on time too.  What I really needed was to get myself into a position where I could take 30s turns and still win on scenario, but I still had work to do to get there.

Xerxis Turn 5

Xerxis dropped Defender's Ward.  The Cetrati hacked at my heavies a bit, but didn't do much.  Xerxis put Tactical Supremacy on himself, and charged the Aradus contesting the right flag.  He combo-smited it out of the way, and retreated.  The TyCom stabbed at my Agonizer, but missed.

Jeff's turns were getting short, but he was now up 2-0, and I was running out of time.  I'd really have to make this turn count.

Xekaar Turn 6

Between Frenzy attacks and good old-fashioned face mashing, the heavies managed to finish off the Cetrati.  My left Extoller moved to claim the left flag.  My Aradus advanced to contest the right flag, and killed enough Paingivers that they couldn't control it any more.  Xekaar did a lot of healing, and the Agonizer used Gnawing Pain.

The left flag was clear.  Now I just had to keep it that way, and I could start to win on scenario.  The problem: I was down to 2 minutes on my death clock.

Xerxis Turn 6

Xerxis slammed the right Aradus again, although he didn't send it quite far enough to stop it contesting.  The Krea advanced, and attacked the other Aradus, but was just out of range to contest my flag.  A little more flailing from the TyCom and StanBear in the middle, and that was Jeff's turn.

It was now 2-2, but I was running very short on time.

Xekaar Turn 7

The middle Aradus killed the Krea, and the right Aradus threw Xerxis.  The Cannoneer ran to block contesting.

However, I had just one second left.  I passed the turn to Jeff, he passed the turn to me, and won on Deathclock.

Victory to Xerxis!


I played a very strong game against a very good matchup for my list.  I just played it a lot slower than I needed to.  I'm pretty rusty - I think the last tournament I was in was Adepticon last year, and the fact that I didn't know Xekaar all that well didn't help.  I ended up making most of the right moves, though, which is great for my first time out with Xekaar in a big game.  One other thing I forgot was Scather.  I'm really not sure that it would have mattered, but maybe?  Without knowing where the templates were falling it's hard to tell.  There were certainly some Cetrati wandering around with 1 hit box at one point.

The list is very interesting.  The spare wall ended up being too close to my table edge to make much of a difference, and I didn't use Swift Hunter on the beasts very much at all.  However, the models I fielded all worked very well together, especially the Extollers, who just about melted a Bronzeback off the table (with a little help from Mortality and a Cannoneer, but still).  The unexpected MVP's were definitely the Slingers, who held the Cetrati off fantastically well while I focused on the heavies.

Jeff played pretty well into a very rough matchup, although I do think he should have been less aggressive with his beasts, and more aggressive on scenario.  He should have focused on starting to score the right flag on his second turn to force my beasts forward where they'd be more vulnerable.  The two Titans got out ahead of the infantry, and I was able to shoot them off the table for it.  The Animantrax also committed a little too soon.  This is the piece I was afraid Jeff would use to force me into his spears by claiming the right flag.

Jeff's list is a strong brick, and I'd love to see a list like that play into one of its preferred matchups instead of a list like mine.  I'm not sure which of Jeff's lists would have handled Xekaar better, and Xerxis was definitely the best drop against Naaresh though.

Overall, super fun.  I'm out of the running for the finals, but I fully intend to play my next batch of games and, if I can, play in the companion steamroller (Saturdays don't usually work for me).

Actual picture of me going for my clock.

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