It's Not the List Challenge: First Game Results!
Hey everyone, I'm back from the holidays! Over the break I was able to get a game in for the It's Not the List challenge. My opponent was Michael, aka Barakiel on the Infinity forums. He is a fantastically accomplished player who I don't think I'd have much of a chance against in a normal game, but maybe if he has the handicap of a random army, I could have a chance.
First we set up the board like normal, due to the cold temperatures, we moved in from the garage on my portable folding board, so pardon the lack of gaming mat. I won the roll off, so I opted to go first, leaving Michael to deploy on the left side of the photo. We decided to play Annihilation as a fairly basic scenario, so I made a list for punching faces apart, while Michael was left to the whims of the gods!
Combined Army ──────────────────────────────────────────────────
Group 1 10 0 1 CHARONTID Lieutenant (Multispectral Visor L3) HMG, Nanopulser / Heavy Pistol, Knife. (2 | 79) Q-DRONE HMG / Electric Pulse. (1 | 26) MED-TECH OBSIDON MEDCHANOID Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (23) SLAVE DRONE Electric Pulse. (3) SLAVE DRONE Electric Pulse. (3) UNIDRON (Forward Observer) Plasma Carbine / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (15) UNIDRON (Forward Observer) Plasma Carbine / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (15) UNIDRON (Forward Observer) Plasma Carbine / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (15) MORAT Hacker (EI Hacking Device) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 22) YAOGAT Spitfire / Pistol, CCW. (1.5 | 32) DĀTURAZI Chain Rifle, Grenades, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, AP CCW. (14) SPECULO KILLER Boarding Shotgun, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Monofilament CCW, Knife. (1 | 34)
Group 2 2 0 1 DĀTURAZI Chain Rifle, Grenades, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, AP CCW. (14) ÍMETRON Electric Pulse. (4)
6 SWC | 299 Points
Yu Jing ──────────────────────────────────────────────────
Group 1 10 0 0 TIGER SOLDIER Lieutenant Combi Rifle + Light Flamethrower / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 27) GŬILÁNG MULTI Sniper Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 33) GŬILÁNG (Minelayer) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 26) IMPERIAL AGENT Hacker (Hacking Device) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Monofilament CCW. (0.5 | 34) KEISOTSU Paramedic (MediKit) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (11) MECH-ENGINEER Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (15) NINJA Hacker (Assault Hacking Device) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Shock CCW, Knife. (0.5 | 40) PANGGULING (Minesweeper) Electric Pulse. (8) SÙ-JIÀN Spitfire, Light Flamethrower, Panzerfaust / Pistol, CCW. (2 | 55) ZÚYǑNG (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle / 2 Breaker Pistols, Knife. (28)
Group 2 0 2 2 SHAOLIN Combi Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, DA CCW. (12) SHAOLIN Combi Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Shock CCW. (11)
6 SWC | 300 Points
Combined Army Turn 1
With Yu Jing stealing two Orders, CA rolled out strong with some Coordinated Orders. Since Yu Jing was almost entirely hunkered, CA had the ability to freemove with their Impetuous and opening Orders. The Total Reaction Bot dashed up one flank, stopping just short of the Pheasant's Hacking Zone of Control and receiving Marksmanship Level 2 from the Morat Vanguard Hacker who followed closely behind, scanning the Yu Jing HVT for an easy Classified. The TR Bot rolled a burst at the Su Jian at the other end of the Deployment Zone, beating the Panzerfaust, forcing a Wound and causing the Su Jian to duck into cover. The TR bot proceeded to blow away the Combi Shao Lin who failed his smoke toss, and set up to pin everyone down. A Plasma Carbine FO and the Charontid moved up the opposite flank, stopping in the midfield to blow away the other Shao Lin if it made its Impetuous move.
The Speculo started out by going after some easy targets, maneuvering through the Yu Jing DZ to line up a Boarding Shotgun blast on the Agent and the Engineer. Burst 2 dropped the ball though, rolling low and letting both the Yu Jing units survive the initial Surprise Shot. The Speculo couldn't find his dice, eventually going down to an ARO from the Pheasant. A rough opening for the Combined Army!
Yu Jing Turn 1
The Guilang Sniper on the far right skirmished with some Plasma Carbines at extreme range, pushing them into dogged with some Double Action hits. The Combination of Camo, MSV1 and the forest terrain let him make fun use of the terrain modifiers to help trim the CA Order pool down. The Pheasant belly crawled up within 8 inches and tried a couple of Orders to Immobilize the Total Reaction Bot, that the dice rolls weren't happening. Needing to dislodge that TR Bot before it ran amok in the Yu Jing DZ, the Ninja Sniper revealed and went for a combi rifle shot from 2 inches away. The Bot tanked a hit and failed guts, shifting out of the way so that the ninja was now visible to multiple AROs. With the Ninja pinned, the Guilang Minelayer repositioned to Surprise Shot the Total Reaction Bot, with both sides critting and failing to do any damage. The Guilang Sniper dropped a defensive mine and the turn wound down.
Adam - I was feeling pretty good this turn, despite not taking down a ton of his models, I thought I set up for a strong offensive, pushing the Yu Jing back and not giving them much of the board to control. I have never got my drone this close to the enemy, so the noob in me totally underestimated Michael's hacking, fortunately, luck was in my favor.
Michael - As much as I love going second, there's always a little bit of tension that you overlooked something or left a glaring gap in your defenses. This was doubly true using a list that was basically cobbled together by a random number generator, but thankfully the Minelayer Guilang and one of the Shaolins still gave me some decent templates for defense. The Total Reaction Bot with Marksmanship is not something you want to see covering your DZ, espcially when you can't zerg it with Chain Rifles, use Smoke + MSV2, or surprise shot it with a Heavy Infantry badass (all of my usual ways for tackling strong AROs.) Adam had enough troops up the field that I didn't have to move too far in order to start gunfighting, and the Guilang was a huge help in chopping down the Order pool. The TR Bot remained a pain though...
Combined Army Turn 2
One Daturazi greased the Ninja with his Chain Rifle after a failed dodge, though the other Daturazi found an antipersonnel mine and ate shrapnel. The Yaogat easily dropped the Minelayer Guilang, and suddenly the Yu Jing offensive resources were starting to evaporate. The Charontid was positioned for serious damage though, running up and positioning to murder the Su Jian and rampage through the Yu Jing backline. However, the Su Jian held off the Charontid with a Panzerfaust crit that resulted in 2 Wounds, prompting a Doctor attempt that failed and killed the Charontid. This was a major swing for Yu Jing.
Yu Jing Turn 2
This round saw the Pheasant finally Immobilize the TR Bot, letting the Tiger Lieutenant swing out and scrap it with his Combi Rifle. With the Charontid gone, the Su Jian pushed up, hoping to drop Doctor Worm before it could start repairing everything of value. He dropped the Yaogat on the way, followed by knocking a Unidron into Dogged. With One Order left he swung out to take on Doctor Worm, missing with every shot and letting Doctor Worm survive to cause trouble with some healing next turn.
Adam - That crit really hurt... I hadn't really thought about what would happen if I lost my Charontid this early in the game. Not having a cube on the Charontid really hurts, that Doctor is out to get me! Charontid down and Immobilized Q-drone had me worrying. Having Dr. Worm survive gave me a bit of hope though, I had one turn to heal as many models as possible, hopefully recovering some points before the game ended.
Michael - Ooh that crit! I thought I was already testing my luck there, but the failed Doctor roll and lack of cube was icing on the cake. With that pressure relieved, the Su Jian could rampage and I could afford to burn some orders hacking that troublesome TR bot and putting it down.
Combined Army Turn 3
The remaining Daturazi swung some serious points, killing the Guilang Sniper in CC and then Chain Rifling the Pheasant into Unconsciousness as he went down to an antipersonnel mine blast. Doc Worm brought the TR bot back to life via a Slave Drone, running for his life to stay away from the Su Jian, sending a Slave Drone charging into the Su Jian to lock it down with a potential electric pulse Immobilization.
Adam - This was my last attempt to cause as much damage as possible, while minimizing damage received. The Daturazi did not disappoint, earning me a lot of points on the final turn, while recovering my hardest hitting model that could hopefully minimize any further damage received. Sending in the Slave Drone was possibly a stroke of accidental genius, I just needed the Su Jain to have some sort of threat.
Yu Jing Turn 3
With the Su Jian locked down, the Zuyong Forward Observer hunted for Doc Worm and eventually took him down, planting himself next to the Combined Army HVT. With the Total Reaction REM still alive and planted next to the Yu Jing HVT, neither of us were scoring our second Classifieds this game. Not wanting to challenge the TR bot with any of their remaining troops, the Yu Jing left some Orders unspent and we called it a game.
Adam - Unfortunately while healing, I couldn't get Dr Worm into a safe spot, so his loss only just about broke even recovering the Q-drone.
Michael - The Combined Army remained scrappy right to the end, especially getting that TR bot back in play. Scoring Classifieds is such a critical part of scoring well in Annihilation, so missing out on the chance to Data Scan or Secure HVT definitely hurt. On the whole though, this was a very rewarding challenge.
Final Score: Yu Jing 6 - Combined Army 4
Adam - I expected to lose, so I wasn't surprised by the results. Something I've come to realize following the game, is that while it's good to have a plan, it's better to have a back up plan! My Charontid super trooper blasting across the field through smoke is really fun when it works, but after losing the Charontid, my offensive potential and strategy really took a kick to the groin. It was a fun game though, and I was really surprised how well Michael used all the tools at his random disposal, even using unpopular units like Pheasant Hackers and a Tiger Soldier Lieutenant, to the best of his ability.
Michael - I thoroughly enjoyed this game. It remained tense and nail-biting throughout. I normally try to solidify my gameplan enough that one or two swingy dice rolls won't change the outcome, but I definitely was never able to get that comfortable at any point in this matchup. Thankfully the dice swung my way in a couple of key moments that let me hold on, and from there it was just a matter of seeing what tools I had in my toolbox and applying them wherever I could. The Guilang Sniper clipped some cheerleaders, the Pheasant Hacker harassed the TR REM, and I had a few solid profiles like the Su Jian and Zuyong to press when the advantage came.
I definitely felt the handicaps though... I want to love the Pheasant, and I would have happily put him into Close Combat against the Total Reaction REM, but lack of smoke or Camo meant that was not happening. The Lieutenant Profile for the Tiger was hilariously bad, which was beautifully ironic since I have been meaning to play around with Tigers for my "real" army lists. The Shaolin Combi Rifle was also quite a laugh to put on the table. Missing out on staples like multiple Chain Rifles, a Heavy Infantry HMG wielder or two, and diverse Classified Objective coverage were all things I definitely missed. Overall though, I hope to continue to use this exercise to help newer players see diverse units and help even the odds as they learn their armies. It's also a great exercise for veteran players to lay their skill on the line and try to use a truly random toolbox to the best of their ability.
After Michael and I played, Obadiah and our friend Eliot gave it a shot! Eliot brought a random army of Nomads, which included 5 hackers and 3 repeaters, against Obi's army with little in the way of Hackable units. It was a bloody game of Supremacy, but the Tohaa reigned supreme. Though Eliot admitted he made a few mistakes, with a list that had a lot of wasted points on hackers, we couldn't help but think maybe it was the list after all.
The Verdict: List 1 - You 1
So with 2 games done in this super-scientific experiment, we have one game where skill and planning clearly won the day, and another where the list failed the player. This was really fun to do, so we will continuously keep track of which side is ahead. If you want to try this yourself, the random list generator is here, while it's still in beta, you definitely need to double check lists to make sure all the dependencies are met, but after a few clicks, you should end up with a legal list.