The tournament practice for our Dire States event continues! My humble opponent, the ever-gracious Bill (aka Infinity Grandpa) needed to see one of his lists hit the table in preparation for our preparation tournament in two weeks. As it is my duty living less than 1 mile from the game store, I came to meet him on the field of battle.
Humorously, he needed practice on any of the missions for any number of lists so we popped open ComLog and hit random-- getting Unmasking, an AZA mission, on the first pick. Awesome! I actually really like Unmasking and I haven't played it since that one year where EVERY TOURNAMENT HAD IT. A reunion of old friends-- PanOceania and WIP checks go together like peanut butter and mayonnaise.
Very weirdly I won initiative and chose deployment, picking the side of the board with the easiest and quickest access to a tower, intending on shuffling my link on top of it as soon as possible. I mostly wanted to deny Bill the center line of towers for his infiltrating specialists but he reminded me of the exclusion zone-- okay, there we go.
I prefer deployment in Unmasking as Varuna because of the myriad defensive options I have to make approaching the consoles difficult-- not to mention being able to play the shell game with my HVT in order to hide it as best as possible. I was very confident in my link's ability to deal with Speculos, choosing early to hold a Helot as my last model to surround the Impersonation marker in my DZ with decoys to prevent it moving.
With all that said, deployment began.
This list is one of my favorites-- or was, when I could include Patsy Garnett as the Kamau Haris model. I'm a character junkie-- I love sharing stories about specific characters, giving them attributes, as if we're telling stories about these legendary icons. No one cares when I tell them my Kamau HMG did well, it's faceless and personality-less. That's why I customize my guys so much with minute detail-- the Kamau HMG crit and killed Ajax with a knife, so he has an ALEPH colored boot knife. My Fusilier survived a hit from Yojimbo and followed up with critting and killing him with a knife (seems familiar...) so she has a kanji on her and a scar on her face.
Anyways, back to the list. The idea is the ZC KHD goes for one, the Croc Man goes for another and the Haris drags the Machinist to the last one. The ZC KHD often just gets two in this list and I play him very conservatively. The Sensor/Jammer is there to deploy in places I think a Speculo might drop, tight corners near my DZ's edge, and the Kamau HMG is there to put pressure on the points so that others can't get too close. Breaking my haris to go into a 3-person suppression fire with a coordinated order is something I think can be very valuable for gumming up the opponent to prevent them from making any headway.
Oh, and the Kamau sniper/ HRL / fusi fusi fusi link that you're going to see in every single list I run from this army for the rest of my life.
Bill is doing some interesting things here but personally I think this is a weird way to play this mission. He has a TON of hackers so he never has to roll without the second WIP check and the +3, and he has the Noctifier for ARO, Sheskiin for gunfighting and the two Speculos to assassinate-- that's it. It's a real "win or lose" kind of list and to add on to the interestingness of it-- he deploys all of his TO Camo models on the board, hiding approximately none of them in order to get their orders all on the first turn.
I know that his held is a Speculo because he's Shasvastii seriously you think his held is anything else? I make sure to make my deployment very, very difficult or extremely easy to get a good spot-- the idea being to bait them into being surrounded by guys with neurocinetics SMGs and to get him to shoot a Decoy or go into melee whereupon everyone riddles him with bullets and we move on.
He opts to not deploy in my DZ, which is a pain...
In the first photo here-- a ZC Sensor/Jammer and a "you can't kill my models, I'll kill my models" Helot SMG/LRL. The idea is to keep him from throwing smoke while pressuring Sheskiin to come free her-- I want Sheskiin to have to walk out to Discover this Helot so that my Sniper or HRL can see her and deal with her and we can move on. And if the Speculo reveals they're jammed and dead.
Bill places a second minelayer Speculo in front of my link, placing their mine right in blast radius of my HRL and my Sniper. So I put a second Helot in front of them, daring them to move and get neurocinetiksed (new word, someone call Webster's).
As far as our HVTs go, they're around. I put two of mine on the far, far away side of his board behind a building-- and behind a crate in his deployment zone. Remember, the HVT needs to be outside of 16" of YOUR deployment zone, it doesn't say anything about theirs! This is to stretch him too far, to get him to open up a gap I can use. Both of them aren't my Designated Target-- I make that the one on the far right, next to the WarCor, Jammer, the suicidal Helot, a Fugazi Dronbot... the idea is to mount the tower beside me and then I have LoF down there with the sniper at 40"+ range, making it hard as hell to go aggro on her.
The Speculo at the foot of that tower makes the plan way less viable.
I see what's up so I use a Command Token to prevent Bill from using more than one of them. He looks perplexed. I know I made the right choice.
One coordinated order brings all 3 Camo Tokens forward 8 inches. My sniper can see multiple of them, but I'm concerned-- doing anything has the mine go off. My goal is to get the mine to go off before it's contested by a FTF as well-- so I bide my time, declaring no ARO in order to make it less apparent what I'm trying to do next.
Bill runs back with a Camo Token, then runs forward with a TO Camo token, both out of my LoF. He hits the button easily, revealing a Malignos EI KHD. Is it the HVT in my DZ? No.
Then he moves, going prone with the second TO Camo Token. This one my sniper can see, so it's time for a pro gamer move. I delay. With great consternation, Bill needs the orders and he reveals a second Malignos EI KHD and goes to hit the button. Awesome!! I declare Dodge to clear out the mine.
I bungle the PH roll completely. Not Awesome!!
But then I make ARM! GREAT!
But then I fail Guts and go prone... NO!
A rollercoaster of emotions that ends with no one able to keep a solid sight line down the corridor that Sheskiin is about to use to approach...
Bill makes the WIP with +3 and two rolls and after a fair bit of thinking (and me sending psychic images of the wrong HVT at him in case he can read minds) he picks the wrong HVT on the far side, proving I should have gotten an invitation to Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters after all.
Without the sniper on overwatch, his last Camo token hits their console revealing a Shrouded KHD, making WIP and revealing that the last HVT is in fact the real Designated Target.
So, Sheskiin is his datatracker. I'm now a little worried as he has 5 orders remaining. He uses one of those orders on his Speculo within LoF of my kamikaze Helot to throw smoke away from them to protect Sheskiin's advance versus the Kamau HRL. I call his bluff in two ways-- my helot Neurocinetics him with his SMG in Shock and my ZC Sensor/Jammer jams her. She dies to an SMG shot, but the smoke lands, and Sheskiin now has a great path towards victory!
Sheskiin moves, cautious moves and moves to the base of the building beside the HVT. Confirming that the HRL could not see her if he climbed, Sheskiin climbs!
We discover two things here-- the WarCor can see Sheskiin just barely when she climbs, so the WarCor flash pulses her, and I reveal a Croc Man FO in Sheskiin's LoF who shoots her with a Combi. Sheskiin is hit by both, takes a wound, and even worse... Sheskiin is blinded!
Looking to go back to safety, Bill tries to think about climbing down-- but I remind him you can't declare Climb if you're prone, so Sheskiin would have to remain standing, and her second Climb would be in LoF of the Croc Man and the WarCor again. With no good answers, Sheskiin uses her Lieutenant order to position herself in relative safety versus the two hidden gems of Varuna!
With 2 orders remaining, the Camo token in the back of Bill's DZ goes for my Decoy. He rounds the corner and surprise shots the poor Decoy who chooses to Dodge Engage.
The Decoy makes it on a 6, engaging the Shrouded.
Thinking forward, he places his Shrouded KHD on the console into Suppression Fire while he can-- what with the smoke grenade inbetween the Croc Man and them and all.
With no orders left, Bill passes the round to me...
Things go by QUICK. Tigerfish and Scarface, my Kamau MSV2 Sniper and Kamau HRL are out for blood. I stand up the sniper and get a bead on the first Malignos KHD-- we successfully bounce rolls on a 10 and on a 7 before I hit him on a 13 and he drops to two ARM failures. Swiftly moving, my Kamau finds a bead on the second Malignos and drops him with a well-placed shot.
In relative safety to act versus the Shrouded in Suppression and the Noctifier ML (oh, btw, there's a Noctifier over there-- a TO Camo token on top of a building-- one guess what that is), my ZC Sensor/Jammer re-Camos, stands up, the Suppression Shrouded delays, I burn the rest of the order. I declare Surprise Shot Triangulated Fire with my Assault Pistol and the Shrouded is waylaid, shooting back on 3s versus my flat 10s. With all 3 point-takers done I can start acting on the point. But first-- Sheskiin.
The Kamau haris rushes across the board with the remainder of the group's orders, crawling prone on top of a building into Cover before the HMG can act, opening fire on Sheskiin. She's shooting back on good numbers with her Red Fury, but 5 HMG shots on 10 is enough to drop her in the first salvo, letting the Haris slink back into safety below the building.
I run a Helot in his Camo marker state into near-melee with the Speculo now that I know his lieutenant is dead and the Speculo might suicide rush my Kamau nest.
Otherwise... I don't have much to do. I move a Camo token across the space here-- a Helot-- to try to catch the 'droids if they start moving. I don't want to have to deal with flamethrowers with flash pulses rushing my TO Camo specialist.
Bill is in Loss of Lieutenant due to the death of Sheskiin. We calculate VP and Bill is outside of Retreat by 2... before Baggage, but after Baggage, same thing. If he was in retreat I would have lost, and he would've gotten a major!
GOOD THING I PLANNED THAT HAHAHA HA HA ha.
He starts the round by knifing my Decoy in melee with him with his Shrouded and getting the points there. Would've been awesome if I could've dodged away, opening a shot for my repositioned Sniper, but here we are...
His Speculo uses her irregular to place a mine down in melee with my Helot. The Helot does what Helots do and shoots her 3 times with his SMG, landing only one shot-- because it's a free shot, of course, what horrible creature in this universe could roll 3 dice under 14 all at the same time? That's an enormous chance of failure-- only a 70% chance per die! What madness, absolute folly, grumble grumble grumble. The Speculo still dies, but only barely-- BARELY-- getting a 13 total for her ARM after Cover.
Spending two command tokens to make an order regular and then act on that with a Coordinated Order, Bill pushes his Noctifier ML up to see my ZC Sensor/Jammer and my Croc Man. The ZC dodges, and the Croc Man goes all-in with her Combi shot!! He shoots his ML and barely misses me, and I pass the Dodge, sliding back to safety. I miss the free shot, of course. The Noctifier turns his attention to the Croc Man now and fires on a 6, missing, and the Croc Man misses him on her 3 too. Ninja fight!
Now threatened from multiple angles, I see my path laid out for me-- and it's time. Bill can play hyper recklessly with all of his units because a single casualty that stops me up can win him the game, so I need to pull that trigger for him to work without that threat. Time to force him into retreat and make this a 2-round game.
I count my orders. I've really lost like no one. Like at all. The entire game. Just helots. I'm still at peak performance here, so I have a lot of orders.
First Order sees the Kamau MSV2 Sniper stand up in the Shrouded who killed my Decoy's LOF and pop him with the first reliable roll of the day, forcing 6 ARM rolls and killing him. The mine goes off of course, clipping my Kamau HRL, but I don't need him for the rest of the game if things go my way, so-- he gets hit and passes ARM, proving that ARM is an overvalued stat as long as you're mad lucky. The Helot gets blasted though. Eat it, shock, we're shock immune, we don't die to mines so we can clog up your order pools!
With the fuse lit now, I enact my plan-- I recamo with my ZC Sensor/Jammer, stand up in the Noctifier's LoF-- he holds-- and I Surprise Shot him with my Combi. Where we are now, we're exactly in 24"-- THE EXACT RANGE OF MY ASSAULT PISTOL FOR TRIANGULATED FIRE, YES! He shoots back on a 3 and misses, and I hit him, dealing 1 wound. So he goes Dogged. I'm not worried-- I still have 4 orders to drop him!
Triangulated Fire number 1 of 2 regular and 2 irregular orders. He gets hit once, cancelling my other 2 rolls, and rolls an 18 for ARM.
Triangulated Fire number 2 of 2 regular and 2 irregular orders. He gets hit once, cancelling my other 2 rolls, and rolls an 18 for ARM.
I spend a command token to declare Triangulated Fire number 3 of 2 regular and 2 irregular orders. He gets hit twice, missing entirely, and rolls TWO 18's for ARM.
I spend my last command token to declare Triangulated Fire number 5 of 3 regular and 2 irregular orders. He gets hit once, cancelling my other 2 rolls, aND ROLLS AN 18 FOR ARMORRRRRRRR
Now I'm down to the 10 orders in my first group having done NOTHING with 6 orders somehow like WHAT IS THIS EVEN.
My Kamau HMG steps up to the plate, rolls 5 on 10s versus the Noctifier's shot on a 9 and gets hit and surprisingly goes unconscious. Uhhh...
I have my ZC KHD in his Camo state slide out of cover, and the Noctifier just throws a discover at him at 30 inches, all casually, and gets him on a 6.
OKAY HERE GOES
I have my ZC just run at the console, into the shadow of it's S5 self, and rolls Dodge. The Noctifier missiles at him and hits on a 2-- but I pass the Dodge on an 8!! I run up to the console, safe, and roll WIP, taking it back from Bill. I ask if the Decoy nearest my Croc Man is the real one-- it's not, but that's fine! I have 4 orders to tie the game!
I spend 2 orders maneuvering prone with the ZC KHD to stay out of LoF before spending a 3rd standing up and sprinting to the final console. I hit it, choosing the HVT in my ZC's LoF. Is that the real one? What, the one guarded by Sheskiin, a Noctifier ML and two flamethrower bots is the real one, really, no wayyyyyy
The last order of the game is my Croc Man lunging off her perch and rushing a revealed Decoy with her Combi Rifle. She puts 3 shots into the Decoy's failed dodge as the Noctifier hits her with his missile on a 2, killing her instantly-- and the unlucky Helot next to her!
Bill rolls absolute fire for his Decoy's ARM-- a 16, a 19 and ... a 9. They're dead, and that brings me one more OP for a final count of 4 to 1 in my favor!
Bill's last turn is in retreat-- and the Noctifier dies to his Dogged. With only 2 irregulars, even with G: Remote Presence granting Courage, he has no command tokens to come closer than 8 inches towards me and nothing to score. The game ends in my favor! The Combined Army is beaten back! PanO scrapes out a win, just barely! Exactly like the simulations!
Hopefully this helped Bill make some more list choices for the upcoming tournament-- I know it helped me practice hyperventilating and having high blood pressure after FIVE 18s in a ROW for ARMOR
Anyways, that's all folks! See you next time, space cowboys.