Battle Report: Zaal v. Asphyxious 2
I’d finally gotten my army back from Seattle, in pretty fantastic shape, if I do say so, and I’d been itching to throw down with some of my Skorne after getting pretty flustered with how Baranabus was treating me. I’d put the final coat of paint on Zaal just a few days before I left for Lock and Load, so he was on my mind. He’d not made the final cut into the foam for transport, either, so the whole time my army was in transit, he was sitting in front of my computer screen, mocking me. So hard did he mock me that I started thinking about how cool his list, Immortal Host, was and about how I have two units of Immortals, and how just flat out awesome it would be to put them on the board. The desire to do just that grew in me until it was bursting, and I knew I wanted to put him and his host of stone warriors on the board, and soon.
At the same time all of this is churning through my head, my recent experiences with Barnabas were at the forefront of my mind, reminding me that no matter how cool something looks, it could always look a lot worse. Compound that with my inner perception that I’m not very good at list silection – I’m more able to eke out advantage on the tabletop – and I wanted to start bringing two lists more often. It worked out for me against Legion, and simply talking out out helped me solidify the thoughts I had. I wanted to do that again, even If I knew I was going to play Zaal into the matchup.
I paired my Zaal list up with my most recent Mordikaar list, and called it a night.
He brought Skarre and Asphyxious 2, both with a massive pile of infantry. Skarre hits harder, so I want less valuable targets, and Asphyxious is a master of attrition, so I need to field more models than he can remove comfortably. The solution was obviously Mordikaar, but I wan’t prepared to take him out as I was so stoked to see what Zaal could do at 50 points.
Ancestral Guardian x3
Hakaar the Destroyer
Extoller Soulward x2
I figured that with the Shamans I could put some damage into the casters for any mistakes they make, forcing them into the backfield where they both can’t exert as much pressure. 20″ with Eyeless sight and Ghost shot means I can drop missiles from down town if I need to. The Immortals have Vengeance, so I am fairly certain I’m not going to take any random losses on the way in, and may very well be able to deliver the unit completely to the enemy, and if I took losses, I could likely avenge them, with each model getting a vengeance attack and a standard attack.
One of my flawed thoughts was that with Last Stand, I’m not worried about high defense or high armor, and that solos wouldn’t be a worry. While I don’t need to worry about high defense and high armor, it is for very different reasons than I thought, as I learned later.
Overall, I figured that Charging P+S 13’s would break Skarres feat if popped on the defense, if Popped on the offense I could try and weather the storm and come back with vengeance, and against Asphyxious, we were both going to just grind each others armies into the dust, and then pop our feats to blow the other one out. I was also going to completely deny souls to Asphyxious, and the same for Excarnate
I picked Zaal, safe in my conclusions, and when he revealed Asphyxious, I was pretty confident that this game was going to be a ton of fun.
We rolled off, He took first turn on Fire Support, and he started his deployment.
Bane Knights (max)
Bane Thralls (min)
-Officer and Standard
Cylena and Nyss Hunters (max)
Bile Thralls (min)
Bane Lord Tartarus
Gorman di Wolfe
This is another part of the game I feel I am lacking, so I tried to pick a plan that wasn’t “be in the center of the board” and work with it. There was a large hill to my left, a large building to my right along with a forest, and staring across at each other in the center of the board were a forest and a Hut. We both had Arcane Wonder for our objectives.
He deployed the Nyss to my left, Bane Thralls in the woods, and the Bane Knights on the right. Asphyxious took up the right-center with an arc node and the Withershadow Combine. Support to the Left included Tartarus, the Warwitch Siren a Nightwretch, and Saxon. Finally, he deployed his Biles thralls a bit behind his line and near Asphyxious, and Gorman out with the Knights.
I looked over the board and figured that I should make him work for it. Contest his flag with a token force (a unit of Immortals, a shaman, and an Ancestral Guardian) while pushing for an overwhelming force into the Nyss on my side with the Kovaas, two Ancestral Guardians, Zaal, a Shaman, a Raider, a full unit of Immortals, and all three Extoller solos. It was around this time I started to realize that I had a pretty solid answer to the Nyss. Inviolable Resolve + Krea Animus on Immortals makes them effectively Def 14 Arm 21 against ranged, and that’s just not going to go down to those puny POW 10’s. What I had completely forgot, was that both the shamans and Zaal can also put up bubbles, and sir,t hat is a wall of ranged defense I can’t really put words to.
Turn 1, on both sides, was fairly standard, with nearly everything running forward to take positions and get ready for the turn two punch counter-punch. The Bane Thralls made their way into position in the trees, and the Nyss took a hold of the hill.
The Kovass ran up, ready to engage and pick off some Nyss, and the Immortals ran, surrounding the Ancestral Guardians. The Extollers and Zaal filled almost all of the Ancestral Guardians up on souls. I’d not really used the Spirit Guide ability on the Extollers before, but it turns out thats a really awesome ability. I thought it was an action of some type, but they can just straight up hand out souls to as many AG’s as happen to be within command. Not a shabby deal.
Here, though, I made some positioning issues that caused me problems later on
- The Raider was on the far side of both of the shamans, instead of the center, making my distraction force shaman unable to cast Far Strike
- My immortals boxed in my AG’s in two places
- the Soul Wardens were trapped way in the back, and unable to move correctly to give enough souls to all the AG’s, leaving one abandoned.
- One AG was far enough to the left that he was never going to be involved in the game.
I did manage to pick off one of the Nyss hunters, but I knew that there was going to be a reckoning.
Turn 2 is generally when all the work gets done and you can see the fates casting their favor for one or the other. This game was much less convincing. He moved up and pelted a few models with CRA’s from the Nyss, but were unable to soundly connect. The Kovaas and a single Ancestral Guardian went down, thanks to a handy snake eyes, and he put out a Bane Knight Sacrifice right in front of my lines. everything else shuffled around to try and get better positioning for the next round.
I committed a number of resources when It came to my turn, intending to try and start cracking his back. I knew his army would come back to crush mine, but I wanted it to happen on my terms. The Immortals near the Nyss charged in, under last stand, and took out a few Nyss and the Arc Node that killed the Kovaas, with a little help from an Ancestral Guardian. This left me with the knowledge that half my unit was gone, but I had taken the Arc Node. A fair trade. The Shaman Managed to pop the standard, which was promptly picked up, of the Bane Knights, and the Raider missed Saxon. Zaal camped some 5, because he has little to do with Marketh upkeeping spells and the beasts all doing nearly nothing. I refused the Vengeance-off with the Bane Knights, and took a few wacks at the arc node on the other side of the board, hoping to break it, with no such luck.
Turn three went pretty well for Asphyxious, with a second set of snake-eyes on an excarnate setting up Asphyxious with no camp. The Bane Knights, being better at the Vengeance off than I, tore into my Immortals with abandon, though a handy set of under 6 rolls made it so I had a half unit left alive – more than enough to take apart Bane Knights. The last of my Ancestral Guardians was destroyed, leaving only Hakaar and a Kovaas on the board, and the Bane Thralls and remaining Nyss blew into the remaining immortals on the left, completely removing them from the board.
This didn’t look good for me, and I knew I had to break his back. Sadly, that meant that I was going to eat a feat next turn, for good or ill, and I was going to camp a pretty pile of fury come hell or high water. Thankfully, Vengeance from the Immortals took out a good chunk of the Bane Knights before the turn really got started. Once it came to the activation phase, though, I knew I had to get rid of Tartarus. The Shamans Evil Eye was able to power through and blow him off the board. The second Shaman on the other side of the board took a cue from his buddy and dropped 10 damage into the unprotected Asphyxious! I was over half way done with a pot shot! Throughout the rest of the turn I was able to whittle down the Bane Knights to only one or two, and the Bane Thralls were only left with a leader. Feeling pretty froggish, I moved up to the flag to score a point, strapped Inviolable Resolve on myself, and waited for the inevitable pounding that was comin’ my way.
But it never came. Instead, he methodically took apart the overextended parts of my army while making sure that he was going to be able to kill every model he used with bile thralls later int he turn. I took a Saxon Orrik Shot to the face early on, and on Asphyxious turn, I got an Excarnate straight to the chest and dropped to 1, sitting on 4 transfers. Asphyxious did pop his feat, though, and sent in a pile of banes to every warbeast I had left, though it wasn’t enough. Both Shamans went down, and a huge amount of damage was applied to the Raider, though he was unable to kill it. Unable to finish me off, and tying me up in combat, camping four, I knew I had to take him down.
It all came down to this. I was laying it all on the line for a game of Good Dice – Bad Dice. First, though, I had to pull the three fury off the Raider, leaving the Krea with 3, ready to frenzy next to an extremely vulnerable Raider. Thankfully, the good dice showed their smiling faces, and I was able to start the turn. I only had to do 8 damage. I started by moving Zaal around to get the 10″ so he could Hex Blast into Asphyxious, and succeeded. at Dice -7, I managed to roll some two damage. Bah. This was not going as planned. I tried a hail Mary with my Ghost shot eye, but the dice – 12 roll just wasn’t strong enough to take it down. However, I had a second shot. The Raider stood tall, aimed and put a shot into him. Dice -7 again thanks to spiker, and the dice comes up with three damage. Bah. Three points shy. I had one more trick, and It was going to be a doozy. Marketh has a single soul on him, and can cast Hex Blast. the Pow 13 could do some damage, and the Magic Attack of 7 could score a hit, but he’d need to be lucky. I opted to roll for the hard 8 on the to hit, saving the boost for damage. unfortuneatly, I didn’t come up with the 8 I wanted, and it all was over at that point, ending within 9″ of Asphyxious 2, with him on 7 focus and me on a single wound.
Overall, it was a fantastic game, and I had a ton of fun. Learning a caster over again is hard, but fun, and I’d not used Zaal in forever. I will say that I Love his Tier list, especially for thematics, but I think it just might be better to run out of theme. I won’t, though, because its just too cool.
Honestly, I made so many mistakes, not to discredit my opponent – he took me down to the wire – that I cannot help but to think that if I keep using Zaal, I’ll get pretty good with him. He has a toolbox that seems to never end, and can make anything a formidable force. Small things like remembering to use souls to buy attacks, judging when to make a Kovaas and when to let the AG just die, and making a wall of unstopable Krea Auras are just a few of the tasks I just need to get flat out better at. Tonight, I should be getting in another game, though I am not sure with whom, as I’ve not really had an opportunity to play around with pairings.
Maybe I’ll have a chance to discuss and think about pairings a little more tonight.