It was time for a rematch this week, as once again I faced against the might of the Engineers. I must say I find their team very unsporting. Who brings a crossbow to a football match?
I am still experimenting with the format, this time trying to make it clearer when I am describing character plays, and I have gone into more depth regarding team selection. If you have any comments and suggestions, please give them.
Like before, and always, the game was played using real white metal models just like your mum used to make. I have simulated the game in Vassal so you aren’t subjected to shaky, poorly lit iPhone photos.
After my last pasting by the Engineers, I decided to make some changes to the team I was deploying. My opponent was the same one as last time, and I was certain he wouldn’t hesitate to turn my team into a set of pin cushions.
My team was…
Why did you take this team?
I have yet to play a game without Mallet. I find I have been using him as a general purpose beater, as well as his ability to push models around. I also like his ability to land a Singled Out on a target. Also, at a pinch, Football Legend is great too. I have never used Smashed Shins, but I guess it could be useful. Probably not much use against Engineers though.
Following my game against the Morticians last week, I wanted to give Tower another go. Seeing as Ballista can really control the battlefield if he gets to go first, knocking key pieces down with impunity, I was hoping that an early Shutout would help tie up the Engineers captain.
This was my first Masons game without Flint. Ever. I feel pretty bad for ignoring the boy toy, but against the Engineers his low health and (effective) defence of 4+ felt too much like a liability. Mist has a comparable threat range, and a slightly worse kick, but the defence of 5+ felt like a big boost against the hail of character plays I would be facing.
I have dabbled a little with the sneaky winger when I tried out Alchemists. Clone seems like a good way of bouncing some of the firepower coming my way. Whilst I am not convinced how much she will actually do in the game, I planned to use her as a distraction and a way of lowering the dice pools of come character plays by getting in the way.
My opponent took the following…
Hopefully I am not taking liberties by talking about why my opponent took these models for him. Ratchet is a superb control piece with Blasted Earth, and with Tooled Up from Rage (or even without to be honest) he can kick out a lot of damage. Compound is a great model, Counter Charge is great with a gun line-style team as it effectively defends your pieces. Also he a very resilient mobile wall with 2″ reach and Glutinous Mass. My opponent (as far as I know) hasn’t taken Salvo before, but he seems to act like a mini Ballista. And as for Rage, well, he is a highly offensive piece. He can dish out up to 4 attacks for the low low cost of 1 influence, or give out a handy Tooled Up on a model nearby who wants to do more character play damage.
Much to my surprise, I won the roll off, and elected to receive. My opponent deployed in a huddle in the centre of the pitch. I deployed fairly spread out, with more than 3″ between my models to reduce the effect of any cheeky early turn Blasted Earths. Mist, mallet and Snakeskin deployed touching some fast terrain, with Tower taking the opposite flank.
This shows the state of play just after kick-off, with Ballista kicking the ball. Even after a successful kick, and a re-roll of the scatter, the ball fell near Tower.
I loaded up Honour with influence, and spread most of my influence around the rest of the team.
Remembering how I spent too much time dancing around with Snakeskin in the last game I played, I activated her first. Giving herself Clone, with the benefit of Shadow like and the fast terrain she was able to hurtle forward and engage Ballista. My aim was to tie up (or at least make less accurate) his character plays, and I was sure that with Clone and her defence of 5+ she would be hard to shift.
This was proved immediately incorrect when up came Salvo. His first Kick Bolt hit a 5+ on one die, removing Clone. He was 4″ away, so Snakeskin was unable to get our of range for his second shot. A second, pumped up, Floored Bolt knocked the poor girl over. Finally, a Kick Bolt hurt her more and pushed her away. A good start.
Tower moved up and threw a Shutout at Ballista, hitting him, and ensuring he would activate last this turn. Feeling feisty, Rage charged into the knocked down Snakeskin. She played Don’t Touch the Hair!, to take the first damaging hit, then crawling away to (relative) safety.
Honour was called up to go next. She used Superior Strategy on herself to get herself further up the field. She dodged left to collect the ball, before moving slightly further up and passing it to Mallet.
This over enthusiastic ball handling got her too close to Tower. My opponent, who has eyes like a hawk for any potential 3″ aoe attacks at any time, used Ratchet immediately to punish me for my stupidity, lobbing one Blasted Earth attacks at the duo, and another to protect Ratchet from any potential attacks from Honour’s second activation.
Mallet, who I really should have given more than one influence to so he could actually pass and run up the pitch, passed the ball to Mist and moved upfield.
Compound, Marbles and Mainspring ran forward. As it happens, I only moved marbles his Jog distance, so the influence he has been allocated would have been better served on Mallet. Lesson learned. Well, hopefully.
Mist ran up the far right flank, eyes on the goal for next turn.
Ballista finally activated, removing Snakeskin from the table. I used Miraculous Recovery and Second Wind to give her a better start next turn. Honour, looking at my opponent’s mighty momentum stack and (almost certainly) winning the initiative next turn, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and decided to stay slightly further back than intended, further hampered by the difficult terrain created by Blasted Earth.
Predictably, my opponent won initiative. He allocated a ton to Ballista, Ratchet and Salvo, and 1 to Rage, as any more would be cheating.
I allocated a big stack to mallet and Honour, 1 to Tower and (crucially) only 2 to Mist. marbles getting a single point with the hope of using a Tooled Up.
Salvo went first, moving so he was at maximum 6″range from both Honour and mallet, and promptly knocked both of them down.
Here I was stuck with a dilemma. I really wanted to score a goal, but I did not have any momentum yet. I was concerned about Ballista going first and knocking over Mist. At the same time, Honour was within charge range of Rage, and I wasn’t sure she would survive contact with the Union Captain Elect.
Deciding that victory points were the better part of, well, victory, Mist charged Ballista, managing to get off a momentous double dodge. One kick later and it was a goal to the Masons! My opponent used Who are Ya? to ensure sweet vengeance on Mist later.
The ball was kicked wide to the left flank, and play continued.
Rage used Tooled up on Ratchet, then charging into the knocked-down Masons captain, unable to use her Responsive Play when flat on her back. When the smoke cleared, much to everyone’s surprise Honour was still alive, albeit teetering on a one health. Aware that if any other Engineers got to act before she did a take-out would be guaranteed, she stood up, used Topping Out! to give herself and Tower an extra influence, and landed several good attacks on Rage, using some momentum to heal herself. It was to no avail though, and she was removed by two Blasted Earth attacks from Ratchet.
Tower went up next, using a momentum to glide through the rough ground created by the Engineers character play, landing a momentous damage into Rage, before using the momentum point to throw a Shutout at Ballista. In some ways it felt like it was late into the turn, but I wanted to try and remove Rage with Mallet, and if Ballista went first he could easily push Mallet out of threat range.
Compound ran forward to help crowd out any attack onto Rage. marbled moved laterally and Tooled up Mallet. Mainspring moved up to engage Mist. Mallet charged into Rage and took him out, making the current score 6-4 to the Masons.
Ballista moved up, using a Deadbolt and a Flurry on Tower to soften him up. Finally, Snakeskin moved up the field. As I was (as normal against the Engineers) down on momentum, she used some to heal herself up to full.
I always find the later turns hard against the Engineers. Admittedly, we are closer to them now, and able to engage them in the honorable sport of fisticuffs, but I always find that we are still momentum starved, due to the pushes and knockdowns, and our health starts to run low at the same time. To make it worse, Ballista had not yet used his legendary play Minefield, meaning more damage was to come. We could stay still and avoid most of it, but that never really feels like a good option.
Rage came back onto the field within charge range of Mist. On the off chance he survived, I allocated him 1 influence. I gave a decent amount to Mallet, a couple to Snakeskin, a couple to Tower, and a good stack to Honour, who came on relatively near the ball.
Ballista activated first, immediately activating Minefield. With a Deadbolt, and a Flurry on Tower, in addition to the extra damage from the push effects in the Minefield, the Masons’ Rookie was easily taken out. Ballista then moved up to engage Mallet, striking him for a double push, causing even more damage from Minefield.
I with only 1 influence on Mist, he was not able to move out of threat range of everyone, so I elected to leave him to the wolves (well, rage) and elected to activate Mallet next. He struck Ballista twice, pushing him back, to move his Minefield off the ball. Rage could no longer be restrained, and he charged in to the Union Striker, removing his one influence point with a Concussion and weakening him significantly.
I really wanted to get the ball with Honour, but was aware that if Ratchet flung out some Blasted Earth attacks she would be unable to, so I made her go next. She used Quick Time, followed by Superior Strategy on herself, and ran to collect the ball. This was a huge mistake, but I will leave analysis until the end.
Salvo, not breaking a sweat, moved up and knocked her down with a Floored Bolt. Snakeskin ran up to Ballista, gaining me some momentum. Marbles and Mainspring sauntered around and tried to avoid making eye contact. Tired of this football charade, Honour used the momentum gained from Snakeskin’s earlier flurry to get herself up, charging at Salvo, doing some damage to that pesky pistolier.
Ratchet finally went, using Blasted Earth to remove Mist. At the end of the turn, the score was 8 – 6 to the Engineers.
My opponent won initiative and, as always, gave his three ranged characters the lions’ share of Influence. I allocated a couple to Tower, 1 to Marbles and the rest to the trip of Mallet, Snakeskin and Honour.
Fearing the melee threat of Honour, Salvo went first, knocking her down with a Floored Bolt, before dodging back and wounding her further with a Kick Bolt. Finally, Salvo knocked mallet over with a Kick Bolt as well. Needing the momentum, Snakeskin went next, striking Ballista and generating a Clone for herself.
Rage ran upfield hitting her so hard on the first attack it almost caused a double wrap, braking her clone and knocking her down. His second two attacks took her down to a few points of health.
Deciding to go for takeouts and abandon all hope of goal scoring, Marbled moved up and used a Tooled Up on Mallet. Ballista, fearing a mallet charge (can’t blame him to be honest), almost casually took out Snakeskin with a Deadbolt, before moving up to engage Mallet.
His charge denied, and my eyes on the fact that Ballista has Tough Hide, making a nickle- and-dime approach to combat seem pointless, decided to move past Ballista and Compound, using his 3″ melee range to strike at Ratchet. The first hit was lessened by crowding outs, but it was enough to trigger a Singled Out to aid Honour later in the turn. He was able to land two more blows , weakening him further.
At this point it was worth mentioning that I was playing to a 45 minute deathclock, and I was rushing through my turn. As such, I didn’t notice how close Tower was to the fight. My opponent did not, and used Blasted Earth to remove Tower again. The score was now 10-6.
At this point I believed my opponent’s victory was assured, and I was playing to earn more VP. Honour charged into Ratchet, who declared a counter attack. She struck him hard, but he rolled well (requiring all 5 dice to hit) and was able to get a double push on Honour, pushing her out of Melee. She was able to use Quick Time to move back into combat, but with the reduced influence pool she was only able to reduce Ratchet to a couple of health.
The rest of the pitch was low on influence, so they all watched the fight with indifferent interest.
My opponent won initiative, meaning it was all over, I allocated all I could to Mallet and Honour. Rage charged into Mallet, taking him out and scoring the final take out.
Results: 12-6 (Engineers Victory!)
- The Good
I think taking Mist was a good idea. He is almost as good as Flint, and his defence of 5+ helped him survive the initial violence against Rage. This meant Ratchet had to finish him off, rather than lobbing more bombs at the rest of my team
- The Bad
My resource allocation was all over the place. A point more on Mist could have feasibly helped him survive by using Where Did They Go? to get out of trouble. Also, whilst it felt like it was worth it at the time, all Superior Strategy did for Honour was to bring her nearer to Rage. It would have been better off on Mallet or Mist, or just not used at all, and the influence spread out more.
The same goes for Honour when she came back onto the pitch. I should have seen the way the wind was blowing, and given up on ball possession and just charged into the combat with more influence.
I need to be able to assess the pitch more. Masons seem strapped for influence (which is making me seriously consider taking Minx again) and even a point or two incorrectly allocated can be bad for the turn.
- The Ugly
Don’t have your people 3″ apart or less near Ratchet! Later in the game it is harder, but I surrendered a few easy double hits. Also, Tower had no business being that far up the pitch later in the game, and effectively gave 2 free VP to my opponent.
Also, whilst I need to be up the pitch fast against the Engineers, I need a plan for Rage. I was aware that the chances were I was going to have to take a charge off him, but I could have (in theory) moved up further to engage him and deny a few free charges. Whilst I am not sure about taking him against the Engineers, I am considering taking Brick for this purpose. Also, even if he gets knocked down (likely), if he stands up again soon after he has the threat of a counter charge. This can, at least partially, help mitigate his lost movement earlier in the turn.
I am not sure about Tower in this match up. Shutout does not seem anywhere near as useful against the Engineers as it does against the Morticians, where it can really upset Obulus. It is good against Ballista on his legendary play turn, but that’s about it.
Also, Snakeskin, what did you do this game? Not much. Admittedly, it was kinda bad luck in the first turn, but you need a lot of influence to keep running. I might go for Minx instead. She is almost free to run, and I need the influence. It’s not me, it’s you.
I think that’s it for now. Thanks for reading. See you next week. Please, if you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to yell them at me.