That sounds even less like something you’d actually want to read. Perhaps the secret to my lack of success has been discovered…
So, the peanut gallery spoke and I took Mortenebra down to Chimera in Brierley Hill for a bash around. Before we start, can I just say that Chimera’s rather a lovely little venue? It’s in a repurposed old-fashioned pub, and the Hardcore tournament was played in the old lounge bar, lending everything a snug, well-matured and gentlemanly air, fresh with the delicate scent of tea and the sounds of endless, ceaseless, merciless Jimmy-baiting.
Anyway. Event report. Read on.
I drew Robbie D and his Khador wall for the first round. In fact, ‘wall’ is doing Robbie a disservice; there are in fact two walls, one behind the other, as his Journeyman League experiences convinced him Man-o-War Shocktroopers aren’t quite that tough and that having something to hide them behind wouldn’t go entirely amiss.
This was a pretty textbook game for me; as Robbie’s ‘jacks advanced past that ruin you can see in the photo, the Deathjack bunged an opportunistic Void Gate down that prevented Sorscha allocating them any focus in her second turn. They waddled forward regardless, using grenades and the Rain of Death to clear out my Bile Thrall chaff for Sorscha to Wind Rush, charg… no, wait, she was too far back behind those Men-O-War, she’ll have to Boundless Charge herself, which left her with two focus to try and down Mortenebra with.
She did get Critical Freeze off, and the Icy Gaze to boot, but Mortenebra shook it off, cast Terminal Velocity and had the Deathjack charge, all Spectral and Steely as it was, across the ruin into the space so nicely cleared by a few Purges killing Robbie’s War Dog and the stationary Bile Thralls that were in its way. With Sorscha on no focus and the Deathjack receiving free boosts even DEF18 couldn’t save her and the Deathjack ate her soul. Turn two kill, second fastest in the first round.
Game two was Chris and Cygnar. I wasn’t looking forward to this. A board with no LoS-blocking terrain, I have a medium-based ‘caster, and he’s running Sloan and a Hunter. Joy, rapture, and bliss which cannot be counted upon one’s fingers. He’d picked sides so I knew I’d be going first, and so I figured this was going to go one of two ways. Either he’d kill me in turn one – very possible given how hard it was going to be to hide Mortenebra from the Hunter – or he wouldn’t and I’d have one turn to nobble Sloan before the inevitable turn two kill-shot came in.
He didn’t kill Mortenebra on turn one. Since I’d camped most of her focus she ended the turn on five health boxes, and the Hunter’s balls were hanging out in the path of two Helldivers. All I had to do was Purge on the Hunter a few times to whittle it down so a Helldiver could nobble it in one; that would trigger Overrun, which I could use to move the Nightmare to a position where it could realistically go Ghostly and charge Sloane.
I spent a whole minute lining up those ruddy Bile Thralls to get three good Purges on the Hunter, then something distracted me, possibly the prospect of an unclaimed bacon sandwich. When I turned back I started layering up the Power Boosts and Overruns on the Helldiver and… oh, crud. I was so cross that I forgot the Combine had ranged attacks and could have maybe blasted a few bits off the Hunter, enough for two Helldivers to potentially do the job (they couldn’t charge, too many un-Purged Thralls in the way). I ran Deathjack into Chris’ heavies and Nightmare (using the move bonus from having Prey on the Hunter) into Sloan, but I managed to miss the free strike and she capped Mortenebra with her second shot of the game.
Frankly, that was embarrassing; I basically brainfarted that game away and Chris has been waiting for a bash with me for about six months now, too. I’ll have to give him a rematch next time I’m in Ross, ’cause that just wasn’t good enough for either of us. I’ll also have to rip off his practice of jotting down DEF and ARM values of everything he wants to kill during the free minute of thinking time at the start of the turn, ’cause that’ll help with situations like the one that came up next…
Game three was Dave Peyton and his… other Cryx.
Damn. I’ve spent nine months dodging Dave P, he’s a scary man with several Best In Faction and top three finishes for his Menoth and now he’s managed to lose a game (it must happen sometimes, I suppose) so he’s in my bracket and he’s running the same ‘caster as me.
We both had the feeling this was either going to be very boring or very quick, as most of our Mortenebras’ abilities wouldn’t be triggering on anything but the three Sirens on the board. Dave was courteous enough to point out that he had Stealth on everything, and so I ran most of my army sideways on turn one, trying to get out of the way of that wall of Slayers so I wouldn’t have to fight all of them. He had to run in three ‘jacks to scrap the Nightmare and his central Slayers and Reaper were spread out in optimum Purge position – dice -5 on all those rolls? I’ll risk it for a biscuit.
Unfortunately I dropped my brain again (it’s possible that I wasn’t really trying with this one, given that Dave and I are pretty much at opposite ends of the skill ladder) and didn’t either Recalibrate or strip Spectral Steel off Dave’s Deathjack, so nothing was significantly damaged. Worse, I’d have needed to activate my entire army to have a realistic chance of stopping his and that just wasn’t going to happen even with the extension. As it was I timed out before I could immobilise his Deathjack or Death Chill anything and that was all she wrote, as his Deathjack wandered over to Mortenebra and slapped her upside the face.
I’m still not convinced by Mortenebra’s Tier 3 or 4 (I like chaff and Pistol Wraiths and the Combine too much), but I do feel like I’ve gleaned some knowledge about Hardcore. A good Hardcore list is one that doesn’t need to activate everything to win – it has one turn to get into position and get the defences up, and then it can rely on having so many potential threats that the opponent simply doesn’t have time to stop everything. I still think ten Slayers is a silly gimmick but I see the underlying principle behind the build now.
That said, I don’t think my list was all that bad, really. The second game was a failure of tactics (player) rather than strategy (list), and the third might have been marginally improved had I just considered the order of doing things a bit better (perhaps it should have gone feat > mass Purge with rerolls > charge Combine into his Deathjack to try and make a Seether instead of blocking them off with Helldivers like an eejit > see what happens?). I doubt I’d have had time to do all that though, so the principle still stands – the list is good until it’s forced to time out.