It's a civil war!
Prepare for a slog!
Hyped up from finishing Skull Island Expedition's "Godless", I scheduled up a game practicing my current tournament variation for Vindictus (there's not a lot of variation on this list either way, tbh, the points aren't really there.) My opponent has been a Skorne player as of late and I was hoping for some sweet, Godless style Menite vs. Skorne action... but Feora, in her bid for the Hierarchy, had other plans. Plans, it seems, Vindictus was in the way of.
Those of you who follow Druids Dice will definitely have seen a very similar rendition of this Vindictus build; the only tweak from Jadens is I'm running two Knight Exemplar Seneschals and one Knight Exemplar Officer, whereas he's got one Seneschal and two Officers. This is really a side grade, I think; the Seneschal gives a bit more activation flexibility while the Officer just directly increases the output of the list.
Vice Scrutator Vindictus
Exemplar Vengers x2
Knights Exemplar w/Officer
Knight Exemplar Seneschal x2
High Exemplar Gravus
min Choir of Menoth
Once you have the Venger package and two units of Knights Exemplar in, you really don't have much in the way of points... I picked a Wrack and not a Mechanik. Seems alright.
My opponent brought Feora, the Conquering Flame herself.
Feora, the Conquering Flame
-Hand of Judgement
-Eye of Truth
Vessel of Judgement
Idrian Skirmishers + Chieftain and Guide
min Choir of Menoth
Vassal of Menoth x2
Lady Aiyanna and Master Holt + Attendant
He was, of course, not playing in theme, but was playing ADR. I'm not sure what was in his specialists but Aiyanna and Holt were subbed in for the obvious reason of being able to hand out magical weapons. This is kind of an interesting debate point between ADR vs. Themes, in that many themes are actually quite awkward in ADR but the specialists give some options that may not be there typically.
In the end, I'm fighting a force with actually quite a bit in the way of magical weapons and with a massive amount of output... but without the kind of serious pain threat I can bring to the table.
Our scenario was Breakdown. I won our starting roll and opted to go first.
He decided to give me a side loaded with rough terrain but... not too worried about it. This list is just a massive line of troops. Most stuff doesn't really get put exactly where you'd like, but it's so fast it doesn't really matter. I put Vengers out on either side, Knights Exemplar just within the bookends of Vengers, Gravus and Vindictus central. The Reckoners were just behind Vindictus and on either side (they're meant for pretty late game on this one so being fast isn't that important) and the Choir hung out with the Reckoners.
At my far left is a Vassal, standing next to Hand of Judgement, who has A&H behind him. The Vessel sits centrally, then Feora to my right, her Hierophant, and Eye of Truth and Vassal taking the far right. Support is interspersed throughout, choir, mechanik, all that. Idrians deploy centrally on the AD line, choosing the Vengers on my right as prey.
Vindictus Turn 1:
Well, I run fast, but he's got the Idrians holding down some of the table. One thing I've found when fighting Feora3 is if you have the ability to spread out, do so, and I certainly have that ability. Vindictus casts Penitence onto the Vengers on the right, hoping the Idrians will fire into them and take a few with them. He casts True Path and advances forward, using the trees as a hiding place. Vengers swing out to the left and right, spreading out and threatening a few inches past the zones. Knights all run straight up the center, some hiding in the treeline. One Seneschal is in the center, the other on the right by the Vengers, and Gravus goes to hang out with the Vengers on the right side as well. I commit so much to the right because that's the side Eye of Truth is on, and I need the attacks to make sure I can finish him out. The Reckoners move basically straight forward, choir following.
Feora Turn 1:
His Idrians scoot up and kill one Venger, nearly killing another. A few of them die to Penitence, then they reposition back and spread out a little. Redline goes onto Eye of Truth, Hand of Judgement and Eye of Truth get Enliven, and otherwise his army just moves forward tentatively and spreads out.
Vindictus Turn 2:
My first mistake! It started with my opponents mistake. You'll notice on the image of the end of his turn that a lot of important pieces are awfully close to a Wrack. The proxy base in that last image is where I intend to charge a Venger in.
I upkeep Penitence and start with that charge... and make the mistake of doing impact attacks. This is *extremely* stupid because both of these Idrians are actually in the 5" AOE of the Wrack explosion, and will instantly die anyway, but... I did it anyway. Both die, and the Vessel of Judgement activates Doors of Judgement. That Idrian proceeds to roll a hard 9 on damage to kill the injured Venger, stopping me from killing the Wrack.
So... moving on to elsewhere. Basically I just need to kill some Idrians. Honestly, I probably could feat this turn but I wasn't confident in how many Idrians I could remove, and... well, my feat isn't that effective here. Vindictus pulls off the Wrack, which instantly explodes, and uses the focus to cast True Path and Defenders Ward, putting the latter on the left side Vengers.
A Knight Exemplar charges, using Overtake and Cleave to clean up two Idrians. My Reckoner on the left uses its Power Up focus to boost to hit the Idrian Guide, which would remove Prey from the unit... but rolls double 1s damage, which is exactly the damage roll required to fail to kill an Idrian with 5 wounds with a non-battled Reckoner.
The Vengers now with Defenders Ward spread out in the zone a bit but don't move forward. That zone is mine, he doesn't have the presence to actually move up and do anything about it, so there's not really any reason to move up. My Seneschals push further right, sitting just in Gravus' command range to remain standing if Inhuman Resolve is activated.
The Knights all spread out centrally, prepared to take some serious gunfire and really just hoping a few survive to get some work done. I want to note this is really the turn where 'spread out' against Feora is a thing; she has a hard time getting Incite on much while staying in a safe position, so keeping really far apart means she really has to decide what is in there and what isn't.
Feora Turn 2:
He's got to start getting some serious work done. His output is, obviously, incredible due to it being Feora, but the ability to apply it effectively is rough here. Feora has to get a bit aggressive.
I don't remember the specifics here but between various fire sprays and the Vessel, every Knight Exemplar dies. Idrians remove another Venger and spread out again, with the Guide in the zone. Eye of Truth receives Enliven and charges my Seneschal more central to the table, disabling him to die next turn. Feora stands in an aggressive position, having sprayed down a handful of Knights. Between Eye of Truths position and a couple of Idrians, I'll have a bit of a time getting to Feora but... I can at least do some serious damage. She feated this turn to maximize her output while keeping focus, and is camping three. I get a point in the left zone.
Vindictus Turn 3:
Time to see what I can get into Feora! With the forest slightly in my path, my Reckoner won't get there, but he can at least mess up Eye of Truth. He gets fully loaded up, and I drop Penitence, upkeep Defenders Ward.
The remaining Seneschal charges Eye of Truth with Righteous Fury active, putting 5 points into him and forcing Enliven, which he uses Oracular Vision to ignore. Enliven stands him directly in front of Feora.
Basically everything goes in this turn. Between charges and impact attacks, the two remaining Idrians die, but Eye of Truth gets a damage arm free strike on one Venger, and Doors of Judgement activates on an Idrian to kill the other, finishing out that unit of Idrians on my turn. The free strike was to reposition so my other models could get in there.
The Reckoner digs in to Eye of Truth, finishing him off. The other Reckoner shoots her, boosting to hit, and doing no damage due to her fire immunity but activating Flare, reducing her DEF. Gravus uses the empty space to charge Feora, about half killing her through her focus.
The Vengers on the left charge in, putting some damage onto Hand of Judgement. The rest spread out close to the fight, ready to come in and mess people up.
His Doors of Judgement attacks have been insane; I've lost two Vengers now that basically had no business dying, which is a pretty nasty loss. However, Feora is pretty boxed in now with quite a bit of damage on her. I score a point on the center zone.
Feora Turn 3:
The great attacks out of Doors of Judgement have really kept him in this. Still, Feora is in a dangerous position and doesn't really have a great way to get out of it just yet.
Feora kills Gravus and activates Inhuman Resolve on my Seneschal, then reposition/fire steps back to safety.
The Vessel shoots at some Vengers, killing two.
Aiyana and Holt and the two Idrians near Hand of Judgement attempt to clear off the 'jack, but fail to kill either of them. Hand charges, taking free strikes from the two Vengers from their little swords, taking a few points of damage on the way in. He ends up leaving my Reckoner on just a few boxes, but conveniently the only systems remaining are the cortex and the melee arm.
His support just repositions around.
Unfortunately I miss taking a picture at the end of this turn, apparently.
I believe this is the turn where my opponent's death clock times out. In a tournament setting this would go down as a win for me, but we press on to see how it would have played out.
Vindictus Turn 4:
I have a play this turn that would immediately end the game. He is not contesting the right or left zones in any way, and the only models in the center zone are Hand of Judgement and an Idrian or two. If I can kill Hand of Judgement and the Idrians, I can get models into both the left and right zone to score three, which would put the score 5-0 and win me the game.
I give one focus to one Reckoner and two to the other. I need the third focus to True Path, because my choir are the ones taking the right zone and need to get there. However, I figure the two Reckoners, without Battle, should be able to finish off the Hand of Judgement, who has some damage on him already.
Spoiler: they do not do so.
Both 'jacks dig into Feora's personal 'jack and leave him on four boxes, and of course, like my own Reckoner, all he kept was his cortex and melee arm. The Vengers activate and charge, finishing off Hand of Judgement (literally rolling exactly the 4 damage I needed). Another Venger kills Holt, and the other Venger flails at an Idrian and doesn't connect.
Things are definitely more dire than they should be, buuut I've got a full health Reckoner on the table still. My Seneschal, who stayed alive due to a Venger dying near him the previous turn, stands and moves to be contesting both zones on the right. The Choir scoot around a bit, ready to move up if necessary. Vindictus uses the 3 focus he would have used for True Path to put Defenders Ward back on the Vengers, who I'd dropped it from in anticipation of winning the game.
Feora Turn 4:
Feora charges into my near-dead Reckoner, finishing it off and casting Incite before repositioning and fire stepping back again. She just barely keeps my full health Reckoner in range.
He then moves the vessel forward a bit and activates Eruption of Faith, shoving the Venger that killed Holt away and setting him on fire, leaving him on 1 box, and forgets that this also pushes the Reckoner, who gets shoved out of Incite range and into melee with an Idrian. He shoots anyway, needing a 10 to hit the engaged, concealed Reckoner, and connects. Then proceeds to cleanly blast the Reckoner's melee arm off.
This is the activation that basically puts the nail in the coffin. I've lost a few more Vengers than I should have to extreme dice spikes at perfect times, lost attacks due to very poor damage rolls in important locations... the dice haven't been *extreme* one way or another, but we both note that he's had lucky dice rolls just at the absolute best possible moments throughout the game. That said, it has been an enjoyable game so far!
His Vassal on the right side Arcane Bolts the Seneschal, and under Incite finishes him out pretty easily, and my opponent kills no models near him to get him back again so he's merely contesting for this turn. Another Idrian jams into my Venger in the center.
Vindictus Turn 5:
I am not in a good spot. Just a few more losses than I should have had and a broken 'jack have put me in a very precarious position.
The Reckoner is loaded up and boosts a bunch into his battle engine, who has seriously worked itself down and has only 10 boxes remaining. I get a good damage roll, and my Venger near it makes a super jank charge, not dying to the Attendant free strike (needed a 15), and finishes the Vessel out. The Venger jammed by Idrians kills one of them. The one that killed the Vessel repositions into a trench. Vindictus runs to the left zone, scoring me a point. Choir charge and the leader actually kills the remaining Idrian. Score goes to 4-0 as I also take the center zone.
Feora Turn 5:
Feora finishes off my Venger and Choir in the center zone, and keeps my last Venger in the trench in Incite range. His Vassal then proceeds to roll a hard 10 to hit the Defenders Warded Venger in a Trench, and a hard 9 to kill him. He finishes off my remaining choir with other attacks and Feora straddles the two zones. Aiyanna and the Attendant run into the left side zone. His Mechanik contests the center zone from my Reckoner, and Feora scores a point on the right zone, Aiyana and Holt on the left.
I didn't take a picture of this one either. The Venger was sort of the last of the just absurd rolls sniping out models who had no business dying. I'm unsure if I could have dug myself out from this position, but it's possible I could have contested long enough to remain ahead on points and wait out the turn 7 clock. Unfortunately that opportunity was not allowed to me.
I didn't take a picture of this round either, it seems.
Vindictus Turn 6:
The score is 4-2, and I have no chance of scoring 3. My Reckoner kills his mechanik, Vindictus casts True Path and charges Aiyana and the Attendant, killing both, casts Admonition on himself and I end my turn at 6 points to his 3, as he scores the right zone.
At this point, Feora kills the Reckoner (we do play this next turn out, but I'm summarizing) and scoots into the spot between both zones, his Vassal contests the zone Vindictus is in properly, and his unit on the right take that zone, bumping the score to 6-6. When round 7 rolls around the game ends, and it goes to tie breakers, at which point my opponent has definitely killed more stuff.
To be honest, dice aside, this was a really good game. I made mistakes, I'm not going to blame everything on those dice spikes, and I learned things I need to take into the next game. The list was actually more fun than I expected; it garners less fun from its caster and more from how tough and fast it is. With better play, I think this build is a serious terror. Truthfully I was very advantaged even though my opponent had tons of tech to deal with me, just through sheer speed and output. The dice just brought the matchup more in line and I ended up behind (although I take it as a victory, given the clock ;P).
I find denial and attrition slogs very attractive, they're my favorite type of game. I went for an assassination on Feora and reminded myself why I don't do that; having Gravus around later in the game rather than wasting attacks on his caster that in the long run did nothing would have been game ending in my favor, I believe, but I squandered him. I think the Seneschals may be one of the hardest models in the game to use well, requiring a very particular understanding of positioning to force them to be dealt with on their terms, and I didn't do that very well. More practice is needed, but that's what we get these games in for!
I think a big thing here actually would have been to keep the Vengers on the left back for... the entire game. They actually didn't do a whole lot when they went in, and if they'd been there holding that zone and getting me points, forcing eventually a hard target to come in, I likely would have won the game. Wrapping your head around the pacing of SR 2017 is definitely a bit different.
See you all next time!