Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Coastal Assault - Back into the jelly mould

Excited by the release of the new Drop Zone Commander book, and especially, all the new toys introduced for the Scourge, I returned to Hawk's favourite squishy alien life form for the Drop Zone tournament, Coastal Assault, being held at the Dice Saloon, Brighton.

Above: Tournament in full swing.

Other, and better, blogs (you know who you are) have covered in depth (and at excessive length) the new releases. I had taken the opportunity to update my Scourge force with a Corruptor (a Reaver chassis firing Razor Worms), an Overseer (an extremely helpful HQ which not only increases the effectiveness of nearby friendly plasma weaponry, but has a brilliant AA gun) and Monitors (suicidally good).

My army list was as follows:

HQ - 295 points
Overseer (175)
Level five Overlord (120)

Vanguard - 429 points
Despoiler (72)
Twin Plasma Cannon (30)
6x Hunters (210)
3x Reapers (117)

Warrior Cabal - 188 points
Intruder A (40)
Warriors x2 (54)
Intruder A (40)
Warriors x2 (54)

Warrior Cabal - 268 points 
Intruder A (40)
Warriors x2 (54)
Corruptor (80)
Intruder A (40)
Warriors x2 (54)

Occupation Patrol - 196 points
Eviserators x2 (100)
Intruder A (40)
Minders x4 (32)
Intruder B (24)

Occupational Patrol - 112 points
Monitors x4 (32)
Intruder B (24)
Minders x4 (32)
Intruder B (24)

After using my Resistance army for sometime I began to appreciate the usefulness of boots on the ground. Based on this premise I have taken four units of Warriors and one of Eviserators. Adding to that, is the 'potential' of three worm bases from the Corruptor. My view on the Destroyers vs Eviserators debate has changed on a number of occasions. I appreciate that Destroyers have a number of boxes ticked, shooting, close combat, and charging violently into buildings, but, opponents will avoid entering a building because of Eviserators, which is a very useful aspect. 

The trick with the Oversee is to make sure it is within 9 inches of your plasma armed Hunters, Intruders and Warriors when they activate. I had used it in two games so far, and slowly I am getting the hang of it.  The double shot is excellent, tied into a Command Card (Agression), it can be devastating. But don't ignore the longer range option, it can catch some players of guard.

Monitors pose your opponent a real headache, if their infantry line a window, the Monitor's 36 inch range gun and four shots per model, hitting on fours, will easily remove a stand with their 16 shots. Also, that range is good for Resistance vehicles that lack counter measures (a fact I completely forgot during the day*. This is the kind of mistake that Mike and Dan throw their hands up in the air in frustration and reconsider my membership of OB).

Game 1 - Military Complex (5 objectives, hardened buildings) - Opponent: George with Resistance.

I have played George a couple of times in the past. He has some very very nicely painted ressie and he rightly won the painting competition at the end of the day. Here is my quick summary of the game - Turns one and two: I should win this. Turns three and four: This will be a draw. Turns five and six: How have lost this?

The game had a number of moments where things could have gone better:

1. Six Hunters, using the double shot option from the Overseer, approached two freshly landed Zukovs. I split the 12 dice, and had six shots against each. Needing 2s and then 5s, I could only manage a wound on each (doh!). In the next activation, the Zukovs only needed two shots to bring the Overseer down (double doh!).

Maths Mike will tell me if I was wrong to split the fire or to take the double shot with one less energy. A colleague from our club, Tim, who was also taking part with scourge, (Amit and Stephen had also joined us on the day) said I would have better off firing only three shots at energy eleven, and then, any sixes to wound would have doubled the Zukovs out. Or perhaps, even better, I should have shot all twelve at one Zukov and been almost certain of a kill. And this would have avoided the Overseer loss. 

Above: Before my Hunters struck the Zukovs.

Above: After my Hunters struck the Zukovs. 

2. Three Reapers, shooting in my activation, failed to bring down a Barrel Bomber (leaving it on one Dp), which then dropped a bomb killing two of the unfortunate skimmers.

Above: Two of the Reapers about the learn the error of their ways.

3. I managed to retrieve the objective from my home building, but a second, in the building behind it, just eluded me (Three searches with two units of Warriors, plus some Razor Worm couldn't help, and eventually the building came down, killing all concerned). I put the Eviserators in the middle building. They managed one unsuccessful search and scarpered before George brought that building down too.

George then found his home objective and began to shoot at the building behind it holding the next, and final, objective (after the game he admitted that this had been a mistake as he needed that objective if he was going to win outright). 

So he was forced to put two units of Fighters in the final damaged building, which by now, was looking less than stable. I threw everything I had in range at the building in the following turn (including the Despoiler, but I could only get it down to 27 Dps). The two Resistance units had failed their first search, but managed a roll of five on dice on their second search, and escaped with only the flock wallpaper holding the structure up.

Above: All the middle buildings gone. Scourge frantically trying to seek some form of vengeance

*4. My Monitors, travelling in an Intruder B went searching for the Thunderwagons. ('Alex, did they use their 36 inch range guns?' No. They decided to fly over and stand right next to them and attempt their kamikaze at a time). This admission will get me drummed out of OB. Maybe I should take up fly fishing?

These series of events left me chasing kill points. I did eventually kill George's Thunderstorm, which due to the terrain layout, really struggled to manoeuvre and get involved. [Footnote: This table had woods! Yes, woods!! - This table was probably not suitable for tournaments, but how refreshing was it not to have a series of boxy buildings to fight around. Well done Michael (TO) for attempting to buck the trend. Quite appropriate considering my previous post].

Above: Woods! I told you so.

By the end of the game I was left with not very much. George had scored 4 points to my 2, but had thrashed me 1420 kill points to 413. Ouch.

Above: What returned to planet Scourge after game one.

Game 2 - Surging Strike (5 focal points, only scoring at the end of turn six) - Opponent: Tom with Resistance

I won't deny that after the first game I was a little deflated. Tom, was playing Resistance, and was still learning the rules, so perhaps I had a chance here? [SPOILER ALERT: I didn't win].

This mission can be very tricky. You need to balance between killing stuff, but being conscious that it is only at the end of turn six, that victory points are scored.

Tom struggled with his deployment zone, and the tight spaces around the buildings on his side caused difficulties for the large and ungainly Thunderstorm. Not to worry, I quickly threw my Hunters to their deaths with an ill conceived attack on the massive craft. And for the rest of the game I struggled to deal with, or avoid, his Zukovs (I am beginning to feel a theme here).

Above: Traffic jam. Perhaps one of those helicopters is giving a traffic report to a local radio station? If so, it is not doing a very good job. 
I tried to keep my army alive long enough so they could contest focal points at the end of the game. The result - I had killed very little, but had escaped with a draw.

Above: Resistance style formation flying.

Above: Oh dear. Scourge very thin on the table. Again.

Game 3 - Careful Advance (3 objectives and two critical locations (CLs). The CLs were scoring at the end of each turn, apart from turn one) - Opponent: Oz with PHR

Oz had a very fluffy army, lots of light walkers and two massive Njords. I liked his list a lot. He explained that he had had a practice game during the week and it had been this mission he played.........and, more worryingly, he had a plan.......and [SPOILER ALERT] it worked perfectly.

Oz cleared the first CL of my presence (20 point building down with the loss of my Eviserators) and moved, with a hop, skip and a jump, over to the other CL taking down a considerable amount of my army.

The most annoying point during this was when Oz parked a Njord directly over his Hera's unit. Despite the attention of eight Minders and my Oversee, I could not drop the massive craft onto the walkers below. Drat. Before long it was all over. Again, like game won, it was a fairly narrow loss, but the kill point difference sway the final score massively In OZ's favour.

All three of my games had reminded me just how fragile the Scourge can be, and whereas the Hunters can bring about considerable destruction with the help of the Overseer, they have a nasty habit of being shot out of the sky afterwards. If you want to use them, and keep them, some caution has to be employed. 

However, the real problem with the army is the lack of ground units to contest focal points and critical locations, during, and at the end, of the game. Keeping Hunters, Reapers or the Overseer on station is difficult, and a late game dash by troops in light drop ships, flying through considerable AA cover, is no picnic either. 

Above: Point and shoot, PHR style. Building gone in very short order.

Above: And your tournament winner is........well done Tim.

(I won the best sportsman award and received a jolly nice Darkops tower building, which I have promised Mike I will make specifically for Drop Zone. I was pleased to win best sports, but I was a little embarrassed. I have done this a few times now in tournaments and I asked the TO, Michael, how this happened. Apparently, four players tied on best sportsman points, and Michael's tie-breaker is to give it to the player who scored the least victory points - makes you so proud doesn't it?).

My next task is to decide if the list needs any tweaking before Invasion. I note the contents of Dan's very good post on the most effective number of infantry units (on Orbital Bombardment). Some amendments to the list I suspect. 

As always, happy wargaming to you all.



  1. Thanks for the write up. I was gutted not to be able to make this in the end, especially as I can't come to Invasion either.

    Looks like it was a lot of fun, despite the dying!

    1. Thank you. Yes. I had a good time. Purchases from the shop helped me threw the losses.