Part 2 of my catching up on reports from last week. We're nearing the end of the list of casters, and it seems like most of the casters that I have been playing the most are at the bottom of the stack. This report is using Supreme Aptimus Zaal, who has quickly become one of my favorite casters. I didn't start him right away, once again due to listening too much to rankings on the forums. you only really hear about Zaal as a counter to Terminus (which he's fine at) or as a way for people to dust of Ancestral Guardians and Immortals (which he supports better than anyone).
I finally got around to playing him and was (pleasantly) surprised by him. not only is he incredibly powerful, but he's a blast to play. I've never played a caster that actually WANTS you to kill all his dudes. I throw infantry at my opponent and just smile and start handing out soul tokens when they die. then I started getting good at the Kovass. probably 80-90% of my Zaal games have ended with a Last Stand Kovass eating a caster. Zaal quickly found a spot in my tournament lists as a second caster to eMakeda. Heading in to the 2013 'con season, he's moving on to become my go-to caster.
I'm not entirely sure how to view Zaal with the Mammoth. at first glance, he honestly doesn't do anything spectacular. the Mammoth doesn't need the feat to kill almost anything, and last stand seems like a bad idea on 20 points of raw overkill. Zaal does offer a nice Armor buff, or the ability to load my mammoth up and still use counter-blast via awakened spirit. But is an infantry-based caster going to actually want a 20-point beatstick beast?
I ran him a bit different than my other mammoth games. Zaal doesn't want too many beasts, and he really doesn't come into his own without a few Ancestral Guardians. So I decided to try out the ranged Mammoth package again, dropping the Gladiator for a Raider and soulward. I then used the last 10 points for 2 Ancestral Guardians (AGs) and Hakaar.
My opponent brought an interesting Scaverous list:
* Skarlock Thrall
Gorman di Wulfe
Bane Thralls + UA
min Bile Thralls
min Croe's Cutthroats
The WitherShadow Combine
I honestly haven't played against Scaverous much in the past. the list is fairly standard Cryx aside from the Wraith Engine and the Cutthroats. Croe's are supposed to be good against beasts with Scaverous with poison and backstrike along with cheap TK. The Wraith Engine is the only other slightly different choice but I think he just got it recently and wanted to test it out. the guy I played for this match is pretty new to our store, and up until this I've only seen him playing Terminus, eDenny and eGaspy.
We kept things simple and played with the same scenario as my last round, which was just Outflank. this time there was a small forest right in the middle of the table, a wall on each of our near left sides and a hill on the left side of the board. I had the first turn and pre-deployed the Mammoth a little to the right. He pre-deployed the wraith engine only slightly more central.
My main deployment had an AG on either flank, Hakaar in the middle surrounded by Nihilators, the krea and mammoth on the right, Zaal central, the raider to the left and support piled in behind. He deployed almost everything in front of the zone on my right (I was deployed more heavily on that side). he layered his infantry with the cutthroats advanced deployed up front, followed by banes, followed by biles. Gorman and the pistol wraith went to my left looking to hug the central forest. the skarlock was hiding behind the wraith engine, and the withershadow was in the back a bit. arc nodes took the flanks.
Things ran forward. the raider and soulward went a bit to the left, hoping to snipe out some of the support that was more heavily deployed on that side. Inviolable resolve went on the mammoth of course, and everything else just moved up.
He moved everything up as well. Croe's cutthroats moved up a bit and tried some shots, but were just out of range with the one guy that tried to shoot a nihilator. everything else just piled in, causing a little bit of a bottleneck with all the infantry pinched between his wall and the forest. Scaverous used TK to move the one cutthroat that had fired back a bit out of charge range of the nihilator he had shot at.
the nihilators jammed hard, getting in on the cutthroats and the arc nodes. one Nihilator actually charged but missed the arc node on the left side. Zaal gave souls to all the AGs and put snipe on the Raider and the Krea animus on himself. the agonizer did his thing and made sure Zaal would be more or less safe from arcing. the Mammoth toed the right zone and did counterblast. the willbreaker and soulward moved up, both cheering on the Raider with their abilities. The Raider walked up behind the forest (which it could now see through) and drew a bead on Gorman (who was blocked in my 2 other models from most angles, but not through the forest!) a fully boosted shot killed that annoying little merc.
His turn started and he went into a long series of events to get some biles into play. the Skarlock put Ghost Walk on Croe's unit who ran out of the way towards the left zone. the Bane thralls advanced, mostly just moving out of the way. one attacked a nihilator who toughed, one attacked Hakaar but missed. the rest didn't really do anything. the wraith engine moved up and killed 3 nihilators (one was out of my control area and gave up a soul). Scaverous TK'ed 2 biles up. He was going to throw something towards my stuff, but his arc node that wasn't engaged was in the Agonizer bubble. Next, a purge caught 4 nihilators, a bane thrall and his right arc node. he did 3 or 4 damage to his 'jack, killed the Bane, and all 4 Nihilators toughed it out. a second bile shot down 2 nihilators with his spray. the pistol wraith got death chill on the Mammoth. Unfortunately for him, with all his focus on trying to clear the zone on my right he didn't end the turn with anything in the left zone, getting me a CP.
My eyes got a bit big as I realized I could potentially score 2 CPs this turn. All I had to do was clear an arc node, 2 banes and the wraith engine from the right zone. It would take good rolls, but it looked doable. Hakaar started with his righteous vengeance and tried to take down the Pistol Wraith. he whiffed and left it on 1 box. Nihilators went next, the ones that weren't knocked down charged (only 3). one charged the wraith engine and did a few points. one charged the pistol wraith and finished it. one charged the two banes and did perfectly, killing both (he failed both tough rolls). the banes were going to be the hardest to reach, so it was looking good for me.
Hakaar charged the wraith engine and did a combo strike followed by a boosted damage attack. unfortunately it was left on 2 or 3 boxes. the Mammoth couldn't do much so it sacrificed movement and put a fully boosted cannon shell into the Wraith engine, finishing it then put up counterblast. Zaal put a few more into the agonizer, filled up some more souls on Guardians and put last stand on the guardian in the right zone. the willbreaker put puppet master on the same AG. the Raider tried to snipe out Admonia, but missed a boosted attack roll. the last standed Guardian charged the bone chicken in the zone and hit with last stand. he rolled damage and did very little, so I re-rolled with puppet master, resulting in enough damage to kill the chicken!
At the end of my turn I scored 2 more CPs, bringing me up to 3. the AG died and was replaced by a Kovaas with 3 souls.
on his turn he had to jam hard to keep from losing to scenario. on the left side he ran the cutthroats into the left zone, along with the remaining bone chicken. on the other side, the skarlock put ghostwalk on the banes. the banes charged and ran their way into the zone. they killed all but one of the nihilators that were remaining, killed Hakaar, and 2 charged the Mammoth (who missed his counterblast) and did a little bit of damage. biles ran into the zone as well, not having very good lanes for purges, or very good targets now that the infantry was mostly gone. the warwitch siren threw a spray at the kovass but didn't kill him. I honestly don't remember what scaverous did. I think he just Tk'd some things around
the Mammoth got eyeless sight and fired some shots into the cluster of banes and biles. his first shot killed one bane and a bile and toughed the banner. the second shot killed the banner and the one guy next to him, removing tough (but using up my fury on the boosted blast damage I had been doing). Zaal moved up and put last stand on the Kovass. the willbreaker put up Puppet Master. the Kovass charged Scaverous. the thresher on the charge rolled badly on Scaverous, but got re-rolled into another massive damage roll, getting him down to 4 boxes. the thresher also took out a bile and 2 members of the withershadow combine. I spent the first soul on the Kovass for another attack and finished off Scaverous.
Once again, Zaal and the Kovass show off why I love them so much. Last stand is an amazing spell on almost anything, but getting it on a Kovass is huge. A lot of times I use the feat as well for the assassination run, but as seen in this game that would just be overkill against a standard stat-line throw in a willbreaker and it goes from killing the caster ALMOST every time to being almost foolproof. Getting the Kovass out there is the hard part. in this game it had to survive a turn on the table against spells from Scaverous and a warwitch. had he actually thrown more from scaverous at it instead of focusing on using TK to maximize his presence in the zone I would have lost the Kovass.
This game went in my favor largely due to my opponent not pushing on scenario early enough. the forest in the middle of the board threw him off and he ended up deployed too heavily towards the zone with my Mammoth. if you're the second player, you HAVE to get in and contest, or you give up 2 points (one on his turn, one on mine since nothing has changed). if he had sent either the cutthroats or the Banes into the left zone, I would have had more trouble taking it, and he wouldn't have bottle-necked himself. when I scored 3 points, he wasn't able to use his army aggressively and had to devote his entire turn to just not losing. in doing that he left himself open for a Kovass assassination which could have been avoided.
Thoughts on the Mammoth
The Mammoth didn't do a ton in this game. against Cryx he has a rough time due to pistol wraiths, gorman, banes, etc. Generally Cryx does well vs huge bases. I got lucky and popped gorman off early, which was a huge help for the Mammoth, but I still got death chilled. luckily having a gun makes the Mammoth a little better when he has to sacrifice something.
Even with a bad matchup in mind, the Mammoth managed to make himself known. he finished off a wounded wraith engine with a lucky hit, and killed off the bane standard and a number of banes and biles. He didn't really win the game for me, but if I hadn't gone for the Kovass kill I would have been using the feat and mammoth to clear the zone and try to win on CPs.
I honestly don't think I'll be using the Mammoth with Zaal much. I missed having more infantry on the table to fuel my soul collectors and my feat. Zaal doesn't need a huge beatstick in his list since he makes anything into a heavy hitter. I think sticking to a normal Zaal list would work out better in most cases, especially since I use Zaal as a Cryx matchup in a lot of cases. dropping the Mammoth for a Bronzeback, a second full unit of infantry and a solo of some kind seems like a better build. Inviolable resolve on the Mammoth was nice, but probably not worth messing with the builds I'm comfortable with.
I also didn't have an opportunity where putting last stand on the mammoth would have been good. I want to do that once. just once.
That's all for this week. We're down to the final 3 casters (plus Makeda3, who will have a lot of testing coming up). Gargantuans comes out this week, so I don't know if I'll be carrying on with the planned test schedule or taking a week to play Makeda and some other new releases. either way, expect more battle reports next week as we wrap up the series! the next report will either be eMakeda if I continue on, or Makeda3 if I bring her out tonight.