The first Scenario in the Steamroller 2017, the Pit II gives us a nice chance to use most of the Scenario elements while also providing a really interesting balance of advantages between going first and going second.
This is the first in a series of six pieces designed to help give some insight into the advantages of going first vs. second and a general game plan for the first couple of turns. After two months.
In this Scenario, we have several elements that I'd just like to clarify.
Rectangular zones can be score by Warjacks, Warbeasts, and Battle Engines.
Circular zones can be scored by warrior model units that have the entire unit touching it.
Objectives are models that can be attacked and killed starting on player 2s second turn. They have 15 boxes, ARM 18, DEF 5, and are considered friendly faction models.
Warcasters and Warlocks can score any Scenario element.
Player 1 gets seven inches of deployment, player 2 gets ten. Some themes add to this.
And a couple more pieces of vocabulary:
Contest - to have a model or models in the zone so that your opponent does not score it.
Ambush - an ability some models have that lets them deploy three inches from any table edge (except your opponents deployment zone) starting on your second turn.
Alpha/Alpha'd - shorthand for "alpha strike", or a decisive first blow that one player makes to begin the part of the game where models actually attack each other.
If you haven't read my guide to Deployment, Terrain, and Reading the Game, I would stop here, click on the link on the line above, and read that first.
Should I go First or Second?
On this scenario, I like to go first if:
- I have a mostly melee army that needs to get up the table.
- My opponent has a very aggressive army with abilities like ambush where going first is their primary goal or if I have an ambush unit or upkeep spells that have to go out turn 1 while my caster is safe from enemy threats.
- I have a million guys and I can push my opponent out of the Scenario by weight of numbers.
I like to go second if:
- My opponent has an army that doesn't spread out very well and I can easily take a zone.
- I have far better ways to maneuver around terrain than my opponent does and I can make them have a bad side.
- I have absolutely no way to mitigate terrain and I need to take the side with favorable terrain.
- My opponent has a lot of guns and I don't want to get shot at turn 1 - I'll also take the side with the best terrain for defending against ranged attacks.
- I have a really good control feat that lets me get ahead on Scenario very quickly.
- I out threat my opponent by a significant margin with most of my army.
- I think the matchup is going to revolve into a grind that ends on turn 7, and I want to be able to score the last control points.
Game Plan for Going First:
The plan for going first is pretty simple - you run up turn 1 and get your upkeep spells out. It's very important to read what your opponents plan is. If they've got a large beast brick, you can expect them to commit to one side and send over contesting models as the game progresses.
If they have an endless wave of guys, they'll be pretty even, and you need to pick a spot to concentrate your attacks that will get you strong attrition and scenario leads.
Something to be very cognizant of in SR 2017 is that despite how easy it is to keep a game going on Scenario, getting down by 2 points or more can often lead to an instant loss.
In this Scenario in particular, it's pretty easy to kill an objective and take a pair of zones if you spend a feat, all of your attacks, etc. to do it.
Turn 2, you're going to want to do the SR 2017 dance, which is what I call the idea of contesting the zones with minimal resources that require potentially a lot of resources to remove, coupled with threatening the entire zone if he comes into it.
High DEF lights are good examples of this, as are cheap heavies like Marauders or Crusaders.
Behind that, the main force of your army should wait to crush in on whatever goes for your models.
VERY important - make sure that you have the ability to score on the scenario elements if your opponent doesn't want to wander into your threat ranges. Some factions are really good at this, with lesser warbeasts or cheap light warjacks to take the two rectangular zones and small units to take the central circle one.
If your opponent lets you or is forced to let you score on their turn 2, you're probably in good shape.
Let's have a look at a couple of games on this scenario from the perspective of the player who went first.
In this game, the bottom player opted to go first because it enabled them to get up the table with their large number of guys. With so many models, it's actually possible to force your opponent off the Scenario. Remember, even if you're not going to win by 5, the game only lasts seven turns now, so being ahead by 2-3 and contesting well can be an incredible incentive for your opponent to make poor plays to win the game.
Turn 1, the second player skewed their army to the left, so the first player responded by contesting the left zone with a moderately difficult to kill Gorehound and committed heavily to the right. The plan was pretty simple - no one ever gets the central zone, and the second player will run out of contesting models before the first player does.
Game Plan for Going Second:
If you're going second, you should have favorable defensive terrain and/or your opponent should have really crummy terrain on their side of the table. You will want to abuse this as much as possible here.
This includes things like using forests or obstructions to block Line of Sight to your models, forcing your opponent to come through rough terrain to charge or run at you, etc.
Turn 1 is going to be all about preparing for turn 2. You need to get your spells out, but you also need to keep your Warcaster/Warlock safe from the opposing army, so take advantage of terrain, use heavies to block Line of Sight, etc. This is, of course, not important if nothing in your opponents army can get to you. With premeasuring, you can often just make sure your Caster is never getting touched.
Another thing you need to do turn 1 is figure out what your opponent is going to contest with on turn two and how you are going to kill it. Many lists cannot commit very heavily to both sides of the table, so again, reading where your opponents models are going to go is key.
Once you figure out what they want to do, make sure you can do your best to stop it. Restrict and control their placement with your threat ranges.
Turn 2 is usually going to be a combination of things. You're going to try and clear a zone with unimportant models, and if you can kill their objective from range that's even better.
Taking the central zone is almost never going to happen on the second turn unless your opponent straight up leaves his models out of it, but it's possible to score three points in one turn.
You're also going to need to insulate yourself from their counter-attack. This scenario is a great incentive to brawl in the middle of the table. It's just live enough that ignoring it will end the game in two turns, but you can drag on the fight by scoring a point here and there and contesting with chaff.
That being said, if you can get up by killing their contesting models with pieces you don't care about that much and set up for a brutal counter-charge, that is almost always a great play.
A lot of the time, going second is also about weathering an Alpha and being able to respond, and as such placement is very key.
Here is a great example of a game where the second player just has to eat the Alpha and not lose on Scenario.
Deneghra 1 going first gets up the table, and so the Grymkin player has to insulate the Heretic from death by ringing the Warlock with heavies and the Death Knell in order to prevent Stalkers under Denny's feat getting to him.
On turn 2, the Grymkin player contests all zones and sets up to weather Deneghra's feat while hopefully keeping enough models alive and relevant to not instantly lose.
Notice how even though on the left only one Gremlin Swarm is contesting the zone on P2,T2, there is another one in range to apparate and walk there when the Deneghra player inevitably clears the first one.
This is probably the most balanced of the SR 2017 Scenarios, with all scoring elements easily accessible by both players and with the ability to score from both units and warjacks/warbeasts.
My personal preference in this matchup (usually) is to go first, since it means that you often get to dictate the pace of the game unless your opponent vastly out threats you.
This Scenario will usually go long, with both sides scoring many points until the game winds down on attrition - be prepared for a long game. I don't think I've had many games on this Scenario go shorter than five turns.
Next up: Spread the Net!