Rocky Mountain Rumble Round 1: Zaal2 Exalted vs. Grissel2 Band of Heroes

Hello all!

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Rocky Mountain Rumble in Denver, Colorado. This is one of my favorite events, and I’m very excited I was able to make it for a second year in a row. While I did recently pick up all the wonderful Infernals pre-releases at Lock and Load, unfortunately none of them are tournament legal yet so I took this event as an excuse to give Skorne one last big sendoff… for now.

Jaden and I had spent a number of weeks prior to Lock and Load working out Skorne pairings, and I didn’t see much reason not to just continue on with the one he had used. I’ll admit I was also very convinced by the fact that the pair let me use my Mammoth that I’m very proud of in both of my lists.

20190629_111856.jpg

I actually had very little experience with the pair; I’ve played plenty of Exalted of course but it has usually been triple Immortal versions, and I’ve played the Rasheth list a couple times but not a ton. I felt pretty confident I could run the lists well though, and the pair itself has vicious teeth and very few bad matchups.

Round 1 I found myself paired up with Chris G. Chris is a player I’ve seen around a bit, and we played each other at Warmachine Weekend a couple years ago in some event or another. He’s been going strong with Trollbloods for a long time, it seems, and he brought the kriels to the battlefield in full force!

20190629_120125.jpg

Warlock Selection

So what I’m looking at here is a Kolgrimma Storm of the North, which is going to perform very well against guns in particular, and Grissel2 Band of Heroes, which (annoyingly) would mean my Zaal list isn’t getting many souls all game. That said, I felt like dropping Rasheth into Kolgrimma would be kind of annoying. Playable, but annoying. Zaal2 would be fairly happy with that matchup, and Grissel felt very playable, even if the RFP he brings is a thing. I ended up choosing Zaal, and he went with Grissel. Our scenario was Spread the Net, which I’m comfortable playing either of my lists into. We rolled off for turns and he won, opting to go first. I went ahead and gave him the side with a forest, water, and wall on it because it looked really annoying, and also avoided giving him the trench to hide in, where my Mammoth has a harder time hitting.

Deployment

From left to right, he places Horthol wait out on his own, the Bomber closer to the center, Grissel, his Bouncer, Champs, and much of his support more or less central, and the Fennblades to my right, with the long riders taking the far right.

This Zaal list deploys pretty much symmetrically. The Immortals took the inside, Supreme Guardians on the outside, Ancestral Guardian set up in the center to start close enough to both Immortal units to speed them up.

The unpainted SG I borrowed came apart. You can see his upper half chilling out by the other SG. ;P

The unpainted SG I borrowed came apart. You can see his upper half chilling out by the other SG. ;P

Trollbloods Turn 1

His army is fairly quick; Grissel casts Dash and moves upfield. Everything else just runs, pretty much as far as it can. The Fennblades almost threaten me already at this point, so I’m going to take some losses, trick is just positioning to make sure those losses are minimal. Not much else to say really, everything ran at me.

20190629_122406.jpg

Skorne Turn 1

I can’t move up a ton, but I don’t have to be too scared. Zaal casts Aura of Power on himself, Vision on the Supreme Guardian to the right, and moves up a little. Everything else basically just runs; I position so there are 4-5 Immortals in his charge ranges, and my SG on the right is in charge distance of two Long Riders and a couple Fenns (with Vision and Defensive strike, I feel pretty safe). Mammoth opts to just run instead of trying to pick off a couple Fenns, mainly to not allow them Vengeance. The two Novitiates get into spots to cover most of the Immortals. My hope this turn is that he just really wants to use that speed of his for an alpha, and takes the bait on the handful of Immortals I put forward.

20190629_122902.jpg

Trollbloods Turn 2

He opts to go for it. Grissel moves up, casts Dash and Earth’s Blessing. She then fires three AOE’s, I believe killing an Immortal and otherwise just leaving some blast templates around. She also feats. The Fennblades mini-feat to get +2 SPD and Pathfinder, and charge into my front line of immortals. All of those Immortals die pretty easily. The Bomber walks up, casts Far Strike, and puts a bit of damage into my left side Supreme Guardian. Horthol hangs back for the most part. Champs all move up in a tight formation just in front of the wall in the zone, and the Krielstone moves up and pops its anti-incorporeal aura. Long Riders just fan out in front of my SG. Sadly I missed a picture of this turn.

Skorne Turn 2

Well, he took the bait, and I can get into his army pretty heavily. My Immortals and Hakaar all Vengeance forward, knocking down two Fennblades who succeeded tough checks. The Mammoth aims and shoots his Full Battery Fire, targeting a Champion in the middle of the formation and more than 3” from his Bouncer. It hits, and throws 4 Champions and Skaldi 2”. None of them move due to the wall and all being base to base, but they’re all tossed into each other. I boost every damage roll I can and do enormous damage to the unit, but he toughs a ton of them. In the end, all of them except the one Champion I didn’t hit are on 1-2 boxes, but alive. Zaal activates, moves a little, and feats. The Supreme Guardian on the right charges into his Long Riders, swinging a wide Thresher through the whole unit and a couple Fennblades. The Fenns in his melee die, one Long Rider dies, but the other survive with tough checks (if you hadn’t realized already, he makes a TON of tough checks this turn.) The Immortals activate, becoming incorporeal for the turn to avoid jam and charging into Champions and Fennblades. I boost to hit a lot on the Champions with Zaal’s fury, but even with 7 or so Immortals charging the almost dead unit, only a single one dies (tough… checks… good lord…) There are also a handful of Fenns which survive and are knocked down, and one Fenn gets lit on fire by a Supreme Guardian drift from the left side Guardian. Hakaar cleans up a couple of knocked down Fennblades. Overall, WAY less things dead than I hoped due to the massive mess of tough checks, but… my feat is up and he can’t charge very many things, so I’m feeling alright. I score my zone up to 1, an Immortal contests his zone, and my Gobber Chef scores my flag while his Mist Speaker scores his, making the score 2-1.

20190629_130423.jpg

Trollbloods Turn 3

I missed the picture after this turn too! I swear I did a better job in later rounds! I hope anyway!

It’s hard for him to do much, but he has a lot left alive than I like. Grissel casts Dash again and does some sprays, killing a couple Immortals. His Bomber aims, casts Far Strike, and shoots at my Supreme Guardian, doing a few points of damage. Trouble is, he’s now within 11” of it when he ends his turn. Horthol just runs to contest my flag way off to my left. His Fel Caller uses Reveille to stand everybody up, and the Long Riders and Fenns largely just ineffectually smack things. The Champs are where he’s hoping to really make up his losses. They get +1 STR from the Krielstone, then proceed to fail to roll above a 9 on damage… an absolute ton of times. In the end only a few Immortals die to the full force of the unit.

He scores his zone and his flag, I score my zone, making it 3-3.

Skorne Turn 3

At this point I could charge his Warlock with all sorts of stuff but…. I frankly can’t lose an attrition war at this point. I upkeep Vision on the Supreme Guardian on the right, Aura of Power on Zaal. A bunch of stuff moves up with Vengeance, but doesn’t get much done. The Mammoth aims and fires another Full Battery Fire shot, this time at Horthol. It connects, dismounting him and throwing him 4” away, getting him off my flag so I can score it again. Between a Supreme Guardian thresher and a whole lot of charges, his Champions, his Mist Speaker, and remaining Fennblades are removed from the table. The Supreme Guardian on the left charges his Bomber, killing it and taking over his zone. Zaal runs to my zone. When I end my turn I score my flag, his zone, and my zone, making it 6-3.

At this point, the game is basically over. Grissel charges my Supreme Guardian and takes a pretty good chunk of damage from the defensive strike, but even after Vision she does a remarkable amount of damage to it (just cranks those rolls!) Horthol contests my flag again, this time standing in the trench, and his Krielstone charges into some things. His Bouncer does some damage to my left side Supreme Guardian. I go a bit for tiebreakers here, so the Mammoth aims, rolls 4 shots, and shoots Horthol out of the trench by my flag. The left side Supreme Guardian, with help from an Ancestral Guardian, kills his Bouncer, then the other Supreme Guardian and Hakaar drop Grissel herself.

Conclusions

Chris is a great opponent, we had a good time chatting throughout. Overall, I think he should have held back on round 2 and basically conceded some table space instead of trying to force it forward; if he wants to, he can alpha me pretty hard whether I like it or not, so he’s better off waiting until I feat so he can charge and still expect to do some damage, rather than me getting in to really close melee and forcing a lot of non-charge attacks on Immortals. That said, I feel pretty good about this matchup for myself; Fennblades can do a lot of work, but if they want to Cleave they have to let me get a soul, which gives me other advantages, meaning he either has a reduced volume of attacks, or I’m getting a ton of souls. Further, I don’t really see attrition ending at a point where he can still handle the Mammoth; my main takeaway across this whole event and a good dozen or so other times playing the Mammoth is that it is a ridiculous model if you wait to commit it until round 5 or so, just doing work every turn then coming in when nothing can kill it.

Was a long… EXTREMELY sweaty adventure through the Rumble (venue was absolutely boiling…), I’ll be getting up the rest of the batreps throughout the week!

Until then, be good to each other, and I’ll see you around!