Wednesday, February 1, 2017

USAriadna Goes to Cancon 2017

Its time to defend that constitution.
Having whelped this 300 point army, it was time to take it to the big leagues (for me!).

I paid for a ticket and travelled to Canberra for CanCon 2017, Australia's "Nationals" for Infinity and what looked like a tonne of other game systems out there.

By this stage I had played seven games with USA... eight if you count that battle report from 2015... but I was dead keen to enter the beauty pageant!

And if getting punished in 5 games over two days against the best in the country is what it takes to get there then by Jove that's what I'll do....

Tournament Organization

So some facts- it was a 300 point no spec-ops 2 list tournament.  5 games over 2 days with oodles of mini-achievements to try and get along the way.  And there was a beauty pageant....

(Some of the TOs).. The Hero the people needed but didn't deserve...
Overall, fantastic organization and effort from the organizers.  It almost didn't go ahead... yes the nationals were almost cancelled... because no one wanted to TO.  Finally, a hero that we needed but didn't deserve sacrificed himself to run one of the best tourneys I've ever attended.  May he forever roll crits!!!

The players packs were out early (months ahead of time) and importantly so were the missions!

For the uber competitive amongst you I'll list the missions:

1. Supplies
2. Frontline
3. Firefight
4. Antenna Field
5. Supremacy

A lot of thought went into the selection of the missions, with the organisers going for a reasonably balanced set of missions that gave most armies a good chance of achieving the objectives.  I'm not going to get into a discussion about some ITS missions that were deliberately excluded as I'm distinctly not qualified to comment as I'm such an infrequent gamer.

Not saying it was Tohaa... but it was Tohaa!

There was even fluff that went into tying it all together... something about deliberately poisoned Spice (sorry... Silk) and a nefarious plot to distribute it about the Human Sphere.

Prize support...

This TO... having taken responsibility, built a team to make it happen and somehow convinced every company under the sun to dive in and provide incredible prize support...

Prize support intensifies...
I'm going to list them here and thank them for their generous support for CanCon 2017:

Jackal Designs (http://www.jackal-designs.com/)
Toy Soldier Imports (http://www.toysoldierimports.com/)
Game Knight (https://www.gameknight.com.au/)
Custom Meeple (http://www.customeeple.com/)
Secret Weapon Miniatures (https://secretweaponminiatures.com/)
Corvus Belli (http://infinitythegame.com/)
Game Mat(http://www.gamemat.eu/)
LOS Block (http://losblock.com/)
Micro Arts Studio (http://www.microartstudio.com/)
Miniature Scenery (https://www.miniaturescenery.com/)
Battle Tokens (https://battletokens.online/)
Knights of Dice (https://www.knightsofdice.com)
Direct Action Games (https://www.directactiongames.com.au)
Powered Play (http://www.poweredplay.net) 

I would encourage all of you to check these companies out.

I aint nothing but a basic betch.
Moar stuff!



And it didn't end there....

Artist: Tommy Black

Talented commission painters from all over Australia (and beyond) painted a HVT for every single faction... to be awarded to the highest ranking player of their faction.

Artist: Sam Benson (p.s. support his Patreon)

You impressed yet?


One List To Rule Them All... Or To Bury Me In Hubris!

I took one list.  Why?  I was sick of painting camouflage....

... and with limited preparation time I didn't have time to figure things out by trial and error.  I needed a single solid list to learn well as possible (over 5 games) and then throw my hat into the ring.

Task Force- BRUISER.
So for the beginners amongst you- the list has two groups.  And as a simple man, I like it a lot.

USAriadna- "Critler's 300"

The first group consists of the specialists (mostly).  There are two inferior infiltrating Grunts because one usually fails their roll... but when they do stick they are a big pain in the bottom for the enemy.

The second group consists of combat units.  The Desperadoes exist to alpha strike.  They typically have a very short life expectancy but they cannot be ignored.  The Grunt HMG link team of 5 (max bonuses) is there to clean up chaff and the Blackjack AP HMG (proxied by the Gecko) is there to carefully crack the hard to break nuts a Grunt can't deal with.

Both groups are reasonably balanced in terms of order count and both have access to an AD trooper who can mix up a flank (or rear!) should the opportunity present.

I can't take credit for dreaming up this list- my USAriadna mentor aka "Critler" is the mastermind who took a failing neophyte under his wing and gave me a few tips!  As an aside, I find the community very supportive- and more often than not someone will come along who'll help you out!  (And you should be prepared to do the same for others... that should go without saying).

So that's all the theory done!  Tried out over five games... time to get a bit more (brutal) experience....


TOURNAMENT BEGINS....

1. SUPPLIES- vs. Onyx Contact Force "SPHINX and Unidron Link team"


That Anathematic is a Sphinx proxy.  
The Sphinx was the main weapon of this force.  It was backed up with the full Unidron link with missile launcher and plasma sniper- clearly to be the ARO pieces of the army.

Doctor worm, the E-drone and two flamer baggage bots rounded out the list. Finally a Fractaa sat in its own combat group.

Terrain


The Table.
I won the Lt. roll off and elected to determine turn order (I chose to go first).

My opponent elected for me to deploy first and to deploy on the far side.

Game

Perhaps not my best choice to go first... but heck... crates are there to be plundered!

Anyways, I was off to a bad start when both my grunts failed their infiltration rolls.  I had originally planned for them to be hanging around the dropship landing pad two storeys above ground and be annoying but sadly they were going to hanging around my back line all day.

One of my Desperadoes found themselves on the receiving end of a Unidron missile launcher and plasma sniper link team (up around that damn landing pad) and was pasted despite their best efforts to smoke.

The other Desperado did manage to flank the link team and lay down a chain rifle... but clever placing of the figures along the inset stairs and up several levels meant he died a pitiful death only ever knocking out one Unidron.

When the dice just hate you...
I had one foxtrot make it to a box and then burn 5 orders... yes 5 orders... to open a crate on WIP 13.  He did finally do it though and scarpered back to my back line in total cover.

My Blackjack attempted to slice the pie on the Unidron link team and fluffed his rolls.  He took a missile (or was it a plasma sniper?) shot to the face and ended up a battle ravaged....

With my turn being such a pitiful achievement... I think I rendered one Unidron unconscious... Onyx punished me.  A Sphinx materialised and wandered up casually to the roof of the centre building and went on suppression.  And to add insult to injury, it finished off my Blackjack too!

Nothing I had was going to shift that thing.  My Grunt link team tried and got critted for its troubles.  I even revived the HMG only to have him blasted to bits again.

Van Zant (helped by the Airborne Ranger) tried to gut the enemy order pool by going specialist hunting but sadly they fluffed the rolls they needed and the Unidron link team put them to death.

The Sphinx then spent the rest of the game AROing me to death in my turn and then allowing his own swift moving specialists to grab objectives unmolested.

CRUSHING LOSS!
(0-10)


2. FRONTLINE vs. PanOceania "JOTUM"

PanO....
I'm going to pause for a moment to say this was one of the most beautifully painted armies I have seen.

That Jotum!
The list was centred around the Jotum.  Two infiltrating Crocmen provided midfield coverage and a team of Fusiliers and specialists provided the orders to drive the Jotum.

I have a distinct fear of TAGs... especially the Jotum!

Terrain


Lots of hiding spots!
I won the Lt. roll off and chose the right side for deployment and hoping PanO would choose to go first (they did elect to go first).  The right side had the most scatter to hide my troops as I was terrified of the Jotum.  I deployed hiding almost all of my models to minimize casualties.  Even my infiltrators I put up high and out of sight and scattered all over the place.

My grunts and the Blackjack found themselves cowering in fear on the only two storey structure in my deployment zone (the loading dock building in the top right of the photo).

Prone is how we roll!
Can I emphasize that my Grunts were cowering... prone!  (Except for that Blackjack which was tucked in total cover).


Game

It started off well!

One of my inferior infiltrating grunts made his roll!  Hooray... and was hefting his heavy flamer in the direction of a Nisse HMG.  He was also within good shot gun range of the Jotum should the Jotum walk around the corner.

Unwilling to risk a heavy flamer to either of these figures, a lone Fusilier tried to dislodge the Grunt from his spot.  Many failed face to face rolls and successful ARM saves later the Grunt finally gargled his last breath...

.... but it had taken 5 or so orders to achieve!  (I couldn't believe my dice!)

The Jotum started to drive forward but found itself order starved and without cover.

Seeing the Jotum heading my way, I edged the Blackjack into cover and started trading fire with the monster.  AP HMG rounds chipped away at the beast and eventually the Jotum found itself moving into cover but luck wasn't with it and the Jotum dropped into unconscious.

With the Jotum KO'd (for now....) my Grunt HMG stood up and blazed away at the Nisse HMG and took it out.  On a roll now, the Grunt HMG hosed any exposed enemy snipers claiming another scalp.

With that done, Van Zant made his way onto the board- getting blinded in the process by a distant Warcor (damn those things) and all my specialists moved into zones.  My Airborne ranger was not so excited about facing any AROs and came on midfield to secure the middle zone.

The Crocmen did reveal and moved around, taking out my revealed figures who thought they were safe from the Jotum.  But being order starved, PanO wasn't able to capitalise and inflict a crippling hit.

The PanO engineer made a desperate move to try and repair the Jotum... and was successful- but was shot down in the process by the overwatching Blackjack.  With the Jotum back on one wound, it threatened as an ARO monster.

No one was going near the enemy zone with that thing around!

Blackjack takes a wound moving towards the enemy zone.
My Blackjack had his blood up though and finished the Jotum off before stomping into the end zone.

Attack of the crocs...
The Blackjack then found itself set up by some very angry Crocmen who blazed away at close range.  Luckily I was able to tank a few hits (the blardy chest mines did nothing) and finally I critted with the heavy pistol!

With that I had won a hefty victory 10-0.


3. FIREFIGHT- vs. Military Orders "The Magister Pain Train"

Magister Knight link team... pepper your angus...
The list was centred on a Magister Knight link team with a Hospitaller Doctor and a Hospitaller HMG.

A Fusilier hacker and three Order Sergeants (all with TO and one with a sniper rifle!) rounded out the list.

Heavy infantry pain trains... who dodge on 17s.  Jeez....

Terrain

Old New Hengshou.
I won the Lt. roll off and picked to go first.

I was then made to deploy first on the near side.  The 16" deployment zone was boon for me as it meant I could hide my grunt link on the roof tops and my Desperadoes well in total cover....

Pay attention to that building just north of the landing pad connected by a walkway- the Magisters parked themselves there with the missile launcher and HMG staring down the approaches and everyone else (including that Doctor) prone.

Remember that, it will be important....

Game

Magister missiles hit on 17s base B2 in a link of 5.  Hospitaller HMGs hit on 20s base B2 in a link of 5.  The also dodge on 17s with sixth sense level 2.

My Desperadoes learned all of this as they were annihilated in their headlong rush towards the enemy.

With that grim demonstration, I looked for a hero... an infiltrating Grunt who had actually made his roll!  The Grunt angled close to the Magister with missile launcher and managed to fire off his shotgun catching the Knight (and standing Hospitaller behind him) in the shotgun blast.  It even managed to wound the Hospitaller!

Excited about this new tactic, I tried it again and was promptly critted in the face by a Magister pistol.

Mulling over my options, and unwilling to risk my Grunt link team, I slid out a Foxtrot FO and managed to Observe the Magister missile launcher.  With that done, I began raining Katyusha templates down on the link team (though really I only managed to catch the Magister Missile launcher and the Hospitaller Doctor who was prone beside him).

It was order intensive (especially with that hacking U-Turn nonsense flying around) and by the end of that set of orders only one wound had been dealt to the missile launcher AND the Hospitaller doctor.  I was a bit disappointed but unsurprised- the pain train is hard to stop!

At least with a single wound on the Magister missile launcher it made the consequences of success better and finally my Grunt HMG stood up and hosed the Knight in puny lead.  Luckily one of the rounds went through on the first face to face and the Magister dropped unconscious!

With the Knight link dropped down to 4 members, the Blackjack squared up against the Hospitaller HMG and took his final wound.  Dropping them down to 3....

The Blackjack finds his perch decimating the Knights... on the left, the dead Grunt that tried.
With momentum on my side the Blackjack made his way up the stairs- the AP HMG wrecking havoc amongst the remaining members of the Knights- even risking moving out of cover to shoot down onto the prone Hospitaller doctor and also taking him out of action.

The MO counter attack came back hard- a TO sniper dropped out of hiding and KO'd my Grunt HMG that was still congratulating himself about surviving a face to face with a Magister missile launcher.

The Blackfriar multi-rifle came out around a corner and put a wound on the Blackjack and forcing him back into cover.  Still- PH 12 whilst battle ravaged and ARM 4 in cover is reasonable though and the Blackjack luckily survived the onslaught.

My second turn finished off the Military Orders- with Van Zant coming on and killing the remaining Magister (who was facing the wrong way) and the Airborne Ranger slaying a Machinist who was also looking the wrong way.

The Blackfriar was looking the right way though and critted the Ranger... but it wasn't enough to halt the carnage across the field.

The Blackjack finished off the Blackfriar and Van Zant switched to pistols as he cleaned out the Order Sergeant sniper from his nest and then assassinated the PanO Fusilier Lieutenant.

A single infiltrating Order Sergeant FO appeared and FO'd the Blackjack (he was hiding on the landing pad the entire time) for a Classified.  In return, the Blackjack chest mined him and scattered his body parts over the streets below.

9-1 Victory!


4. ANTENNA FIELD vs. PanOceania "TAG Double-Team"


Double TAGs to ruin your day.

If the JOTUM was enough to give me the willies- the infamous Jotum/ Seraph double team was enough to drive me into panic mode.

They were supported by an ODD spitfire Bulleteer, a Machinist, an FO bot, an order monkey bot and two conspicuous Fusiliers.

This list regularly gets through games without losing a single model.

You know why?  Because a JOTUM in cover is ARM13 and when in suppression will wreck your day with a B3 AP/Shock or go for a single Multi-HMG EXP round.  And this then allows for a super-jumping Seraph to just run amok amongst the squishy infantry who think they are safe prone on a roof....

Terrain


Roof tops!  Just what I needed!
And fire lanes- just what the TAGs needed!

I won the Lt. roll off and elected to go first.  It wasn't an easy choice- but the crowd said go first- so I went first.

I ended up deploying first on the right hand side of the board- almost everyone crammed onto the roof of the central two storey building.  My specialists were up against antennas, ready to seize and it was time to try and play a smart game of objectives.... cos I wasn't going to be able to kill squat....

Game

My Blackjack managed to spy the Seraph at distance and valiantly attacked it.  Only to see multiple orders (five... yes, FIVE) bounce off that sodding thing.  And after getting wounded in the process- I retired my Blackjack into total cover.

So much for that!

Van Zant marched onto an unguarded area and killed a 5point order bot but found the entire enemy deployment area locked down with overlapping AROs.  He stopped in his tracks not wanting to suicide himself for nothing!

With that option used up... I pondered what else to do...

Supposing that I should at least deter squishy specialists from seizing an unguarded antenna, my Hardcase moved forward to the edge of a building and incurred an ARO from a prone Fusilier and the Seraph who had gloriously withstood my Blackjack's AP HMG.

Heck, I couldn't hurt the Seraph but I could do some damage to the order pool at least... right?  The Hardcase landed a single surprise shot burst onto the Fusilier and knocked her unconscious.

The look on my opponent's face said it all.... By pure luck I had killed his lieutenant.

You bet I did!!
The PanO counter attack killed Van Zant (Jotum'ed) and the Seraph (even with limited orders) shot every single one of my specialists in the midfield off their antennas.  However, bringing it forward meant I could suicide charge one of my Desperadoes into it- and this time the dual assault pistols paid dividends- knocking the Seraph out cold!

The Blackjack instantly rounded the corner to finish off the TAG and even challenged the Jotum (in cover).  Needless to say, the rounds bounced off repeatedly and I finally gave up and moved the Blackjack back into total cover.  Finally, the ARM dice bombed for the Jotum and two wounds were inflicted!

My Hardcase, seemingly the man of the hour, ran forward and shot the PanO machinist off his antenna and all of a sudden I was in the lead.

Jotum's are hard to stop though and the TAG casually ambled his way across the board, killing more of my specialists who could only quiver in their boots.  He finally parked himself within striking distance of the antenna in my deployment zone and went on suppressive fire....

Well things were definitely tense now!  One of the TOs came by to heckle and was quickly chased away...

... Because my Airborne Ranger walked on behind the Jotum and blazed away with his AP SMG.  He missed with most of his shots (damn it!) and the one hit bounced off.  It was enough for the Jotum to turn and the Ranger closed his eyes- prayed- and squeezed the trigger.  One of the burst finally got through the armour and the Jotum dropped unconscious!

With the two TAGs finished off- my Grunt link team made its way over to the central antenna and finished off the remaining PanO bots.

Victory 5-1.


5. SUPREMACY vs. ALEPH "ODD Nightmare"

With three wins and a loss, I had somehow ended up in the third highest match up of the tournament.



I was in the running for a podium spot and paired with one of the best Infinity tournament players in the country.  This guy I knew by reputation....

I gulped hard... this was gonna hurt.

No Marut in the list I faced....
... just Post Human Proxies and ODD snipers (Daysus sniper and Post human sniper).

An Agema Missile Launcher rounded out the list with Machaon and a few other helpers.

Terrain


I went right, ALEPH got left.
And ALEPH chose to go second.

ALEPH side of the board.

Game

My Desperadoes raced forward and suddenly found themselves sniped from the roof of the big blue tower.  (The roof of the space ship was placed on top and we didn't realise it wasn't actually supposed to be there).  Anyways- two TO snipers had taken up position there- prone- and had a complete dominating fields of fire into my deployment zone.

Yes laddie, it's happening....
I was getting flash backs of playing my pitiful Morats... how could I have forgotten that this is what happens with ALEPH?!

I got lucky with my Grunt link team and took out the Agema with the missile launcher but luck failed me everywhere else.

TO Snipers are punishing....
The DA sniper rounds killed everything they touched... in MY turn... and my Grunt HMG was killed and everyone pinned in place.

My Blackjack tried to save the day- and indeed killed the Post Human Sniper- but the Daysus put the big boy down for its trouble.

Van Zant charged on and killed 2 netrods, a tacbot and a specialist- but he too was powerless to stop the effect of those snipers.  The Airborne Ranger snuck in and managed to assassinate Machaon but he had a hard time trying to shoot the ALEPH post humans out of their quadrants.

Triggering intensifies.....
The rolls I needed to go my way (ARM rolls with a shock SMG) just didn't go my way and ALEPH romped home with a crushing victory.

Defeat. 1-8.


WRAP UP- I ended up middle of the pack in a field of 56.

To my opponents.

I have to thank my opponents- Jason B,  Greg M, Luke B, Lockie C and Jordan L.  All of them were gentlemen and great players.  I was really lucky in my match ups that I played against excellent sports who were a pleasure to game with (even when the games were super tense!).

If you guys happen to end up reading this, you guys do the community proud with how you play the game and I can't wait to get to play with you guys again.


LESSONS LEARNED

General Tournament Stuff

Bringing a courtesy list makes a massive difference.  And so do laser pointers and laser line markers.  The see through silhouette markers are also mandatory in my opinion.  It cuts down the umm-awwing and provides clearer information so everyone can get on with the job of playing the game of little toy soldiers.

Just do it.

USAriadna- Discussion

FIX

1.  Dual list it.  That one list to rule them all?  It has to go.

MSV1

2. ODD.  I need to bring lists specifically to counter ODD factions (ALEPH and CA).  Mavericks and Marauders with MSV1 help tilt the balance back in USA's favour provided I can induce the annoying TO figures to come out of hiding.  Luckily- DAP Desperadoes do make them come out- because they are deadly if left alone!

3. General play.  Before attacking always say "IDLE- first short skill".  Make those TO buggers work for it.  Don't give them a free shot because they are the type of models that thrive on unopposed kills.

VZ gets all the orders... and the girls.
4. General play.  Pick ONE line of operation as your MAIN EFFORT per combat group.   That means if I'm going to VZ... he gets all the orders.  Not a bit of dithering here and there with a Grunt or a Foxtrot.  That last game, despite everything, VZ could have reduced ALEPH to four orders instead of 6 remaining... yes... despite the end score, it was that close.


SUSTAIN

Hit it with a big stick.

1.  Attritional play.  Perhaps it's just my playstyle- but I find USAriadna is exceptional for attrition.  I could find, fix and destroy big, killy targets.  It wasn't easy, but the games demonstrated that against armies that focus on hitting things with a big stick (like TAGs or HI link teams), they had a vulnerability with my two groups being able out maneuver them and chip away at them before landing the hammer blow.

Certainly against HI link teams- the template attack is the way to go.  The grunt with a shotgun is too much of a weak attack in active turn.  I should have left him purely as an ARO piece and Foxtrot the link and drop DA templates on them 5-6 times.

The Desperadoes didn't get to do much most games- but the dual assault pistols proved their worth against the Seraph.  I don't know if I'd run two in future- but considering how easily they die- perhaps I should.  They are also good bait (see first point in Fix).

2. High ARM targets.  The AP HMG is so useful.  I like it on a Blackjack (being able to survive that one unlucky round of fire is fantastic)- but at a pinch having it on a Minuteman should do the job.


Pin the damn models!

3.  Uragan vs. Katyusha.  I know it's a tough call between the two but I'm leaning towards the DA template (Katyusha).  Why?  It's role is to target HI link teams.  The template mode of attack negates the bonuses for cover- and since most HI are ARM 4- I would rather two rolls versus halving the armour.  (I believe the magic number for AP to be worthwhile is when the target is ARM 6 or greater).  The AP HMG should be used to try and crack those targets.

It's true you know...

3.  The top ranking players have played their lists and factions extensively (I mean for YEARS) for some of them.  I won't be walking away from USA now I've managed to get a bit of hard won experience!

4. Van Zant and his Airborne Ranger buddy.  So good.   In my last game I should have FO'd the remaining TO sniper with the Airborne Ranger.  It probably would have failed- but a WIP 13 roll (pre modifiers) is better than BS 11 or 12 (pre modifiers)!

IMPROVE

Expendable but also useful!

1. Inferior infiltrating grunts.  In future I won't be utilizing them as active attack pieces.  They are fragile and worth more alive and just being annoying versus dead.  The damage they can inflict on active turn is not as fantastic as I had hoped and I should leave the orders for FO'ing Foxtrots and the Uragan.  I would also place them to deny areas of observation and cover.  I failed to do this in my last game and it cost me dearly!!!  To think what that heavy flamer could have done....

Next time!!!!
So hopefully any budding USA players out there can learn from my bruising experience with it as a tournament faction.


GENERAL TOURNAMENT PHOTOS

With all the serious stuff out of the way... time for some lovely photos!

Tables


Wow
I trucked my own table down there for players to try out.
Interesting....
Glass houses....
New Bourak- modified.

Inside the space ship!
He doesn't know what to do with the Three Seashells!





Armies on Parade


Conversions everywhere.
BB8
Nomads.
Second placed Army.
ISS
Zero to painted in 5 days.  Wow!
PanO
Geckos!!!
Shock Army

More Jotum!
Those Tohaa!

AND ONE LAST THING...

TF- Bruiser, CJFLCC- Paradiso...
... My army won the beauty pageant!  

Whoah!
To win amongst a field of such beautiful armies was really something and I was chuffed and humbled at the same time.  

The Expendables.

The beat stick.

The specialists.
The HVT.



And you know, I was going to give USA a miss in future, but after this tournament... I've realized I have only just begun.

Lol.
Until next time!














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