Monday, 16 February 2015

The Occupiers of Atlantia

The crew on route to Invasion. I think this may have been taken whilst we were being given our hosts.
As is customary with all tournaments, and was noted in my last blog post, the three weeks before Invasion were spent mostly with me glued to my sofa painting tiny blocks of shaped resin. Normally for a gamer this would be a delight; to have a solid reason to chill out (or cotch as the street kids say) on your sofa, listen to podcasts and paint your hobby. However, it gets to a point when this stops being the case. In fact I'm going to let a selfie of myself from the day before Invasion highlight just how fed up with painting blue and pink I was:

As you can see, I couldn't be further from delight. Everything did get finished though (at 2:30am Saturday morning, with snow flock still drying, and to be up at 6:45am to catch a ride to Croydon) and to my delight it was all worth it! I managed to get my large grubby mits (still covered in snow flock and bright pink paint) on best painted army, and also managed to nick third place! Before the winners were announced it was already the most fun Invasion I had been too, and winning both of these places meant more to me than winning the last two years. As to why, we need to look a little closer at my army choice...

I knew before the tourney that I had no hope of retaining my champions belt. Why? Well, for a start Mike was going with Shaltari, and he had never lost with the hedgehog peoples (literally, never). Secondly, and most importantly, I was using Scourge. As much fun as the Scourge are (possibly the most 'fun' army in DzC) they are not tournament winners, because they flounder on focal points. Due to a lack of dedicated ground units who can take a pounding, and also the most useless commander of the all the races who cannot contend focal points, facing the wrong army on missions such as Take and Extract are an automatic loss. By wrong army I mean mainly Shaltari and Resistance, and PHR to some extent (A quick note to Shaltari players: if you get beaten by a Scourge list on a focal points mission, you have done something wrong.). To boil things down, I have marked the key points below:

Why Scourge can't, or shouldn't, win focal point missions:
  • No commander able to contribute 175+ points
  • Ground units worth little in value and/or vulnerable like a baby duck

Because of these points Scourge either have to:

1) Deploy all units in front of the enemy, in the hope that you win activation (no certain thing) and again hope that you destroy that nasty Hades/Caiman/squad of Gladius/Odins that are about to ruin your day.

This is not a viable tactic in a tournament as kill points count towards the total win. If you do not get activation and/or your dice rolls go poorly you will be pulling models of the table before your tears of sadness can hit the plywood. As such not only have you lost, but you have gifted your opponent (and denied yourself) three or four extra tournament points.

2) Try a sweeping attack on a vulnerable unit. If it works, you may get to attack something else, but if not withdraw and hide for the game to limit your loses.

Sadly this is what I had to do in two games. I won one, Bunker Assualt, against a PHR army by not
deploying my Despoiler's nine tanks until the last activation of turn 6 to steal a focal point. I lost the other however, as I was playing a Shaltari army at Take and Extract. Before the game started I new I had lost (as I could never win a focal point against two Caimans, two Jaguars, two Tarantulas, a Coyote with CV 4, four squads of infantry, a Warspire and a partridge in a pear tree. I literally didn't have that many points to deploy on the ground!) but the deciding factor was by how much. So I did a fleeting run in with some Prowlers and Reavers, who spectacularly failed to cause more than two points of damage over three turns of shooting (and those damage points were from two Intruder shots...). After losing two Reavers and an Intruder I called it a day and withdrew everything to my side of the table, to keep the loses to a minimum, and deployed the bare minimum necessary to contest the focal point on turn six.
Seem gamey to you? It does to me, and in a friendly game believe me, my Hunters would have deployed and been destroyed in their droves... I mean they would have spectacularly lit up the Jaguars and won me the day! This was a tournament though, and I was currently in first place with a tiny points gap to 2nd place. If I could reduce my deficit to a small amount, and the rest of the games played out to draws, I could still nick the tourney.

As it turned out it wasn't to be, but I didn't mind. Third place, in my opinion, is about as good as a Scourge player can hope to be in a large tournament (whilst being surrounded by Shaltari) and the fact that I had played so defensively did me a justice in the standings.

Talking about Scourge's drawbacks wasn't really where I wanted to go with this post, but oh well. It's an interesting discussion point never the less. Hopefully with the introduction of the Oppressor I can sack off the Desolator and actually compete on the ground. Who knows. All I do know is that I had to be gamey to compete with the way the army currently works, which is a little sad considering the way the race is meant to be played.

As I had already lost the fifth game before we started playing, because I was up against Shaltari, do I think they are 'overpowered'?

Yes I do.

But I intend to discuss that another day, with spreadsheets to gather information, alchemy jars and Bunsen burners to melt down the models (Skeleton Jack Christmas style) and a little help from the rest of Team OB to explain why.

It is definitely worth adding that on objective missions Scourge are a huge threat, and I even beat a five infantry Shaltari army at Military Complex (that's right, four squads of Braves and one Firstborns)! Who says you have to be Shaltari to create shenanigans? To find out how I did it you'll have to have a listen to Podcast 5!

I'm going to end this unintentionally sombre post on an upbeat note.

Every game I played at Invasion was fun and taxing, even against the newer players of the game. I had the best time I have had at a tournament in ages (possibly because I wasn't using Shaltari?), and I am the most proud I have been of an army in my Scourge!

What will I be doing in the future? Well expect to see a review or two on a few unloved models; Tormentors, Slayers, and the Annihilator, as I continue my quest to have fun with the Scourge beast.

For picture based viewing pleasure for your eyes (don't stare too hard now), I present to you the Occupiers of Atlantia. Or if Skullsword's resistance are about, the Harassers of Snow Mountain.


  1. That's a brilliant Despoiler conversion! Nice write up.

    1. Definitely! Very nice. Well done on the 3rd place, BTW.

    2. Agreed, love that Despoiler conversion! I'll have to go back and read that post, where I think you talk about it (I remember a post about the Despoiler model, but never got around to reading it; will go back and check it out...)

      And I can see why you took Best Painted! Beautifully done paint job. And those Minders and Prowlers look absolutely ~disgusting~! Like little testicles knocking about! Talk about yer psychological warfare! LOL!

    3. OK, just read that Despoiler post. Brilliant! And I've got spare Marauders and an Invader, too, so I'll be able to give it a go. There are so few real conversion opportunities with DzC models, aside from some magnetization... They generally don't require it, or there's no spare bitz to work with, I've got a friend who also plays Scourge who is a professional artist and master converter; he's going to LOVE this idea!... 8^D

    4. Well to play Scourge you have to go balls out!

      I'm sure if you put some thought into it your Despoiler can be even more brutish. I kind of did this as I went along, and wasn't happy with the unprimered result (although paint hides all...).

      Also it is two invaders, one for the bottom and then the back engines from another. Just so you can make sure you have all the bits!

    5. Gotcha. Yeah, I've got three 2-Player Starter Sets worth, so plenty of Invaders... Too many, really... But, now I have a use for two of them, and three of the otherwise never-gonna-get-built-much-less-painted Marauders... 8^P

  2. Question: If the tournament rules dropped the kill-point thing (save determining a draw match by mach) and the only thing that got you tournament points was a win based on mission objectives would it rebalance the game so Scourge would not suffer?

    For example: win a game get points equivalent to how many mission victory point you have over the opponent +1 per game. So if he got 3 victory points and you got 5 you would score Tournament 3 points (2+1). If it came to a draw whoever won on killpoints got 1 point?

    And if there Are draws best sportsmen resolves the draw voted on after all games finished?

    Will anyone use the Desolator in a tournament setting when the Oppressor comes out?

    1. Using the points system you have described there, sadly not. The reason Scourge have such a hard time is because they don't have the ground forces to hold focal points, and the proposed system wouldn't change that. They would still lose, but possibly kill more or get more killed.I would definitely play less cagey, but armies like Shaltari can just pull everything back if they start to suffer loses and jump on a point turn 5 or 6.

      I like the tourney points as they are; I didn't have to play cagey, it was my choice, but I knew in those specific games I would do better to not risk it.

      In regards to the Oppressor, you'll probably see an even split of people who just like the Desolator and the way it plays. 50% of gamers aren't jaded fools like myself! However, you are likely to see Scourge using an Oppressor far higher up the standings table.

    2. The oppressor will die. A lot. Many times. It will either be held back to the end of the game (thus you are only paying points for it to hold focal points and sphere of influence). I think it will either be played defensively and thus you pay lots of points when you don't use it's weapons and ability to soak up fire. Or you will use it more and then it will die.

      A fun post to read!

  3. You say that, but I expect it to have more DP than the Alexander, and that doesn't die every game. To play Scourge effectively you have to present options for your opponent, and a bucket load of misdirection.

    For instance, in the above list I will use Prowlers as a first wave to draw reaction fire, and then follow up with the Reavers and take out the AA. It's all hypothetical at the moment, but the Oppressor will deploy with 6 Hunters/4 Slayers, so which do you shoot?

    Even if it turns out to be rubbish it's still going in the list. I'm sick to the teeth of how utterly useless the Desolator is!

  4. Less incentive for cagy is good but giving shaltari any more of an edge would make a lot of people unhappy.
    Im surprised the two walker choices don’t hold up being armour 10, never played them but my A10 Sabres have a bit of staying power.

    Re: the oppressor all really good points raised. Will be interesting, I hope the Desolator doesn’t become a unit no one wants.

    1. I had Mega 'maths' Mike run some numbers and the Stalkers are marginally more survivable than Hunters against everything bar E12 shots, so they are pretty useful. My issue with them is that although they stay about for longer they are worth very little in points, so struggle at taking focal points. Which is a shame!

      People will still take the Desolator, just less. It's always the way with new units!

  5. Thx 4 the report Sir. I feel your pain w/ the Scourge. Yet to play in a tourney, but any missions involving non-objectives playing vs friends/family, Scourge are 3rd,4th,last fiddle.....
    Just last night my Sons SHAMEtari trounced me 6-3 in "bridgehead (alternate 3 bridges)". I was the DEF which was also a set back. I find Scourge vs Shametari, it is a 50/50 chance to win in non focal point missions.

    1. Oohh to your son too, those kind of games are all about bragging rights! I have never actually played a attacker/defender game (I probably should give it a go), but I can't imagine Scourge being very good defenders.

      I'd have to agree with you with the 50/50 rating, but by always taking two units of Destroyers and being careful, you can always snatch a win!

    2. I always bring 2 Destroyers to the party (favors). I did get revenge tonight as I was the attacker (5-3)> He still gets bragging rights for over all 9-8 for the scenario.

  6. Nice post. But you need a cuddle from someone by the sound of it;)
    Awsome army! I can see why you won best painted!

    1. None of the OB team will hug me, I'm treated like a pariah sometimes!

      Cheers fella!

    2. There is good reason for the "no hug for Zombie" rule. You might try and eat our BRAAAAAAIIIINNNNNSSS

  7. My PHR just played one mission against Shaltari: Recon. I had maximum luck but got massacred. I had no chance to win that mission with slower dropships, no teleportation, and infantry who leave the table if they find an objective (not much fast.stuff to hand it over).

    Some missions simply favour or punish one faction; and that's part of the problem. Some are also way random in their current form. In my opinion, some of the missions need to be reworked. I plan to post a thread on it on the Hawk forum.

    There is also a play balance problem with the Shaltari. They are not paying for teleportation, they have a hyper efficient shared gate pool and some units are undercosted in my opinion. Combined with missions where their special abilities give them a big advantage, it's no wonder they are completely dominating competitive DZC play.

    I'll post thoughts on the missions on the Hawk forum. Between us all, I thought we post some polite discussion which will help Hawk iron out the issues.

    1. You're exactly right, not much I can add to that! I think we will be discussing both PHR and Shaltari in the next couple of podcasts.

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