Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Protectorate, here we are. The very first battle report to be posted to Truth & Consequence and it's.... certainly an interesting one.
The first game I've been able to get in for a little while, we met up at my place and set up on my home table. This was a test of both SR 2017 and our beautiful little battle engine, the Vessel of Judgement. We both had some lists we thought would be fun, and... well, let's see how it went.
I decided to avoid Severius today. Grand Scrutator Severius (Severius1) is my favorite caster in Protectorate by a long shot and, to me, an easy choice for where the Vessel of Judgement's current CID version belongs, but I felt like I didn't even want to test that really since... frankly, I liked the old Vessel at least somewhat with him, the new one is obviously going to be pretty strong. Therefore, it was time to bust out my old boy Kreoss. I piloted him to a degree of success at LVO this year, with a list heavily constructed to counter pre-errata Una2, so I've got some experience with him at least. He's definitely a favorite.
High Exemplar Kreoss
Vessel of Judgement
Nicia, Tear of Vengeance
Vassal Mechanik x3
Vassal of Menoth
Idrian Skirmishers + Chieftain and Guide
min Choir of Menoth
Visgoth Juviah Rhoven & Honour Guard
Admittedly this list has a lot of my pet models in it; I like putting my Judicator on the table because it's pretty, and Kreoss is an alright spot for it, and Nicia is just by her style one of my favorite models in the game. She has some funny synergy with Kreoss as well (on his feat turn, she can Quick Work off both of her melee attacks, which isn't something she can do in most situations.) The list would likely be better served with a different battlegroup layout and something else for those five points but... we'll talk about that later.
My opponent brought Adeptis Rahn, bringing out his Helios for a spin.
-Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker
Arcanist Mechanik x3
House Shyeel Artificer x2
House Shyeel Magister x2
House Shyeel Battle Mages
I believe that was all of it. He was running in theme.
Our scenario was Outlast from the Steamroller 2017 CID packet. He won the starting roll, and opted to choose sides.
I deployed my Judicator on the side with more space (the building in the center was shifted slightly to the right.) The Vessel took the side on the right with a bit less space, since it's using a gun and doesn't have any particular reason to get into melee... typically. Choir hung out in a group to the far left with the only piece they needed to follow, one Mechanik took the Judicator, two hung out with the Vessel. Rhoven & Honor Guard took center with Kreoss, and the Wracks spread out a bit. Idrians were central and slightly left.
My opponent clumped up tight around Helios, with his Battle Mages to my furthest left, then Discordia, the Helios, then the Phoenix. His solos spread out evenly. It was clear he was pushing hard for the zone on my left in a bid to take control of the scenario early, but I felt fairly confident the Idrians would hold long enough to not let me get behind. My Idrians pick his Phoenix as prey. The game begins!
Protectorate Turn 1:
Straightforward enough turn, my Idrians fanned out to the left and received Defender's Ward. Kreoss put Lamentation on himself, moving up a bit as well. The Judicator and Vessel both run straight forward, support all following. Gius and Cassian spread out in front of Kreoss, Rhoven hung a bit back near the Vessel (habit, there was no need for eyeless sight this game but I tend to have him follow around whatever he would typically want to buff.) Nicia ran way out to the left, as I instantly forgot about Discordia's spray, thinking stealth would save me from his threat ranges.
This battle really likes one side of the table...
Retribution Turn 1:
Discordia walks up and blasts Nicia down (poor girl.) He mostly hangs back this turn, Helios getting Polarity Field but, given that Kreoss has Purification, he can't really rely on that to save him. The Idrians show how good they are when not much threatens them; he can't move up much without losing a lot of battle mages to random shots, even with the increased defense from his Artificers. End of the turn, he's moved forward rather timidly.
Operation: Don't Shoot Me Too Much is achieved!
Protectorate Turn 2:
Time to show the world what the CID Vessel can do. I upkeep Defender's Ward on the Idrians, Lamentation on Kreoss. The Vessel scoots up a bit and blasts the Phoenix twice. One Admonisher bounce each time, but the first hits and kills a Magister sitting behind him. The Phoenix takes a massive chunk of damage, right through the shields and ripping into his main body. The Idrians move up and I get six within range. One flubs the damage roll really badly, but the other two take a decent chunk out of him, leaving the Phoenix on only four boxes. They minifeat to try and not die in retaliation, gumming up the zone pretty hard. The Judicator plonks forward and puts a couple shots with his rockets into the Helios, but with Inaccurate, Poltergeist, and the nearby Artificer I need a 13 to hit. Spoiler: I miss twice. He forces the deviations back into my army, but the Idrians are all dug in and don't take blast so it doesn't do anything. Kreoss and his two Shield Guards move up a bit closer, basically as close as I dare, and the Judicator gets Hymn of Shielding. Mechaniks repair the Vessel back to full (I rolled pretty low damage on my second shot.) I really hoped to kill the Phoenix this turn, but dice were probably about even in the long run; really I was hoping its movement would be out so the Judicator could shoot it effectively to finish it out, but all it had left was its Movement and Generator. Sad day.
The Phoenix is on life support. Not a bad start.
Retribution Turn 2:
My opponent contemplates an assassination for a little while, but decides not to go for it. The Idrians will just take a couple too many attacks to remove; it's likely he could snag Kreoss and bring him into a dangerous position, but the Helios itself would be blocking the rest of his army from really putting any attacks on him afterwards. He opts for an attrition play. The Phoenix gets a decent bit of repairs and moves behind the building to try and stay alive, with the Artificer hugging him for safety. Discordia sprays three Idrians to death, and I opt not to Doors of Judgement any of them because I'm fairly certain Gius or Cassian are going to get yanked in and killed and would like to do it on them. I believe Helios moved up to just outside my Judicator's charge threat, but not quite in the zone, and killed an Idrian or something. He shot at my Shield Guards, moving one out of command but missing a couple other shots. He puts up Poltergeist and... whatever it is that pushes me back when I hit him. Unfortunately he hasn't moved into that left zone, and I score my first point.
Artificer/Phoenix snuggle buddies up there.
Protectorate Turn 3:
Prepare for the most whatever Kreoss feat turn ever!
So there's a couple ways I can go about this turn. One, I don't feat and the Idrians work on the Phoenix, and try to jam up the Helios a bit. Hopefully the Phoenix dies. Then I just continue to chill for a turn. The other is I feat on two models that matter, which is the Phoenix and Artificer, and kill the Phoenix easily and then get a bunch of Idrian charges with Prey onto the Helios. I opt for the latter, dropping all my upkeeps. Kreoss gets Harmonious Exaltation and moves up, feating on the two models and Helios (which matters soooo much). He casts Purification to remove Polarity Field, then recasts Defenders Ward onto the Judicator. The Vessel fires two shots into the Phoenix, and killed the Artificer with boosted Admonisher shots (was actually just one, I rolled some absurd damage roll). The Phoenix is left on four boxes again, and I need him finished out for this plan to work. The Judicator moves up to where he can barely see the Phoenix around the building and is within 8", hitting him with a flamethrower and finishing him off. Sadly I can't flamethrower the Helios without hitting an Idrian and... I'd prefer the Idrian charge roll, frankly. I pump out a couple AOEs, one actually hitting the Helios with a boosted 13 and putting a few points of damage on him.
Now that the Prey is the Helios, I can charge in! In the end I get 6 Idrian charges onto it, including the Chieftain. A couple roll pretty low, a couple roll pretty high, but in the end it has taken a pretty serious pounding. Judicator had Battle on him, Mechanik sidles up behind him. Mechaniks move up behind the Vessel and repair it to... I believe 31, it had a point or two left on it after this one. I'm now controlling both zones, and I end my turn going to 3 points.
My Idrians nicely fanned out by the 1" push they got for hitting a Helios.
Retribution Turn 3:
Losing the Phoenix hurts, and was definitely a high priority from the start of the game for me so things are going as planned as far as I'm concerned. But... I'd forgotten one thing.... Discordia's damn spray. I don't know what it is, I never remember that damn thing. I could have easily Repositioned the Idrians to reduce the effectiveness of a spray on them but I didn't worry about it. Instead, Discordia swings around the side and sprays down most of the Idrians in between Helios and my Judicator. I activate Doors of Judgement on one, and use it to step around and kill a Mechanik, who unfortunately had already put some repairs on Helios.
Rahn feats and flings a couple chain blasts into the Vessel after moving in behind a wall, but rolls pretty poorly and doesn't do anything to it. His Battle Mages dig into the rest of the Idrians that are left, and after a solid shot from a Magister into melee, they all die. This leaves a Helios with Concentrated Power free to walk up and wail on my Judicator, who luckily has Defender's Ward. The box cars damage roll on the first attack doesn't do much for confidence. Overall the rolls go a bit high and leave the Judicator on 9 wounds, with his entire right side destroyed and his left arm out. Luckily he still has his Cortex. However, he's unable to contest the right side and this allows me to go up to 4 points.
Colossal Hug-Fight in the middle.
Protectorate Turn 4:
So this is a turn that... was more complicated than it needed to be, but aside from the obvious scenario play I take way too long to notice, I just want to go over the thought process a little.
The easy play is my Judicator attacks the Helios. It's already damaged pretty badly, the Judicator should finish him off with an attack or two to spare, especially since my Vessel can pump a couple of shots into him. However, Discordia easily cleans up the Judicator afterwards and the jack will be an uphill battle to handle. The Vessel can do some serious work, and Gius and Cassian are there to put out some damage, but... it's dicey. However, I have an angle to charge the Judicator into Discordia. I need 6s to hit which always makes me nervous, but at dice + 5 I should be in a good spot to finish her out and still have a swing on the Helios to spare. Between that one swing, Gius and Cassian, and the Vessel, I think I can finish out the colossal and his character heavy in one go. From there, the Judicator should be on 11-13 boxes and sitting on Defenders Ward... it's killable, but his remaining army doesn't hit terribly hard and it *might* even survive the counter attack. If it does, the game is outright over.
So I activate the Vessel and put two shots into the Helios, which did ok. It activated Bonds of Faith, repairing two points on the Judicator and getting its arms working again. Mechaniks repaired it up a bit, leaving it with a few wounds on it. The Judicator gets Battle and a third focus from the Vassal, then charges Discordia.
Here's where this turn goes thoroughly off the rails. I miss the charge needing a six, rolling a five. I opt not to boost after the fact, as I need every attack I can get here. I proceed to snake eyes my second attack roll. I hit the third, rolling a very low damage roll and plinking the jack for some alright damage. At this point, the trade has gone wrong, so I need to get more damage onto Helios. My last attack goes into the colossal, connects, and I snake eyes the damage roll, doing a measly 6 points.
At least I have a couple weapon masters to charge the Helios, right? Gius and Cassian charge in, blood in their eyes! I snake eyes one attack roll, and at dice -8 on the other roll an 8 on four dice.
Unfortunately my plan has completely been destroyed by dice. So I start formulating a plan in which I go hunker down in the right zone that he hasn't contested and hope I can survive long enough to clinch out the scenario. This is the point where I realize his Helios is not contesting the flag right in front of me, and the current score is 4-0... Kreoss walks up to the flag and I end the game 6-0. That would have definitely made that unecessarily awful turn... a bit more unecessary. Learning these new scenarios is going to take time, it seems.
Much derping was had.
Post Game Thoughts
This was an interesting game, honestly. He wanted to go for an early scenario push, and in the end won out in attrition on the side he chose but... it was at a cost. My opponent said he just straight up didn't respect the Vessel nearly enough as a piece that could hang out over in that zone and do an insane amount of work. In the end, it pretty much killed a Phoenix (it needed help to finish it out, but only because of the Mechaniks), it killed a Magister and Artificer, and put a chunk of damage onto the Helios. The caveat to how strong that seems, though, is the game state allowed it to do whatever it wanted without ever really being in danger. My opponent's lack of commitment to the other zone, as well as the building in the center, gave the Vessel a whole half of the table that was almost inaccessible once we reached the late game. The trouble is the Helios would be the only model capable of going over there to deal with it, as the Phoenix took too much damage early and the Battle Mages just... can't fight it really.
My Idrians forced a situation where he had to advance and *action his defensive tech rather than running forward to push the scenario. He wasn't able to move up aggressively at all, which let me get ahead and dominate much of the table space. With better positioning on my Idrians, this would have been even nastier, but unfortunately I gave up a ton to a spray at the wrong time. Even a single Idrian randomly surviving in the right lane in front of his Helios changes the outcome of attrition drastically.
In the end, too much was placed on one side, and the Vessel was able to contribute enough at extreme range that I had a lot more ability to split up. Had dice worked with me a bit better... I'd have even won that attrition trade, but unfortunately I got one of the worse rounds of dice I've had in a long time.
Protectorate List Thoughts
This list has some issues. I run the Judicator because I have so much hope but... two Reckoners would have just been ridiculously better, and saved me points. Really this kind of build just won't work until the Revelator drops, as having a gun that can actually strike its target is sort of a big deal. If on that turn I'd have been able to fire a single Revelator shot into the Phoenix to finish it out, then two of its big guns and the remaining small gun shot into the Helios, boosting damage consistently, it would have been absurdly better. Can't wait to actually see that piece but.... for now, two heavies is going to beat out a Judicator in most situations. Just makes me sad, I love putting my Judicator on the table and I worked so hard on it... maybe CID someday? Eh? Eh?
Nicia lets me down a lot. That's not really news, frankly, her vulnerability to random blast damage is a little exhausting (gotta run that Guardians of the Temple theme, I guess?) and I think the points would have been better spent elsewhere. I think dropping the Judicator, Nicia, maybe a Wrack, and having like 42 points to fill out a more functional battlegroup would just be a ton more effective. That all said... this list was mainly to just play around with the Vessel, try out the new scenarios, and just all around have a good time.
Vessel of Judgement - CID Version
The current iteration of the Vessel is powerful, there's no doubt about it. This situation did allow it to shine, though, as it was able to hold a side of the table that was uncontested while still contributing to the fight effectively. I talked to my opponent for a while about it, and really a lot of what caused it to spiral out of control was not respecting the Vessel's newfound power, so how that plays out may change in the future. Its ranged output is definitely something to be feared, but this comes at the tradeoff of any kind of melee output that is standard for other models of its price point. For a Vassal and two Mechaniks, I get Eye of Truth, who is a monster in his own right.
Further, this is a model that is damaging itself. I was able to maintain a high health value with the two mechaniks when I was just shooting, but I only ever rolled one Admonisher jump on every shot I made, and had to have those two Mechaniks dedicated to it. That's a weak point, if they die to support removal, the Vessel will burn itself down over time. No other Battle Engine has this, and in addition to many other Engines having some kind of melee presence as well that can really put the hurt on things... the Vessel having a bit of a strong ranged output even compared to some (though not all) of the other Battle Engines seems appropriate. All in all, the piece felt great to use; it feels nice having the guns of the Protectorate be feared again.