Well, Dayton held its Store Championship tournament today at Epic Loot in Centerville. I wasn't expecting a big turnout, as my two friends who play were otherwise occupied today, and the store employee who was championing it couldn't coax the folks he used to play out of the woodwork. So it was just the two of us who showed. Weather might also have been a factor, as we had some freezing rain last night in Ohio.
Regardless, the two of us figured we could at least get a fun game in, and so we did. It was good to get to play again for both of us, and I think this proved to be a good motivator to try to get some regular store play started back up (take note, western Ohio folks).
List-wise, he was running Daqan with two 4-trays of cavalry (one with Moment of Inspiration and the other naked, I think), Hawthorne with Might of Daqan, and then a Spearstar with a Front-Line Rune Golem, Kari embedded, Raven Tabards, and a Rallying Cornicen for 200 points (I'm going off memory, so I might have screwed something up). He opted not to reconfigure his cavalry, noting that 4-wide is really awkward and he was worried about big terrain getting in the way.
I brought my Latari featuring Aliana with Ambush Predator; a 6-tray Deepwood Archer unit with Support Scion, Tempered Steel, Hunter's Guile, a Verdant Sorceress, and a Marching Starling; a 4-tray Deepwood Archer unit with a Greenwatch Herald, Tempered Steel, Hunter's Guile, and a Rallying Starling; 3 trays of Leonx with Column Tactics; and two units of singleton Aymhelin Scions, one of which had Vicious Roots, for 200 points.
We drew Standoff and Supply Raid as our scenario, and my opponent won the coin toss and opted to cede first player to me. We each brought ruined walls and drew both, and we also drew the fortification that comes with Hawthorne that he brought, so we had 3 2-tray capacity terrain with relatively large footprints but offering fortified 1. I placed the fortification right-of-center near my deployment to give me a lot of space to play with Hunter's Guile and Scion-shifting, while limiting his approaches to me. He placed one of the ruins on the far edge of the deployment zones to stake out a broad lane of approach. I then shoved the other ruin over on the same side as the off-center fortification, but tucked it back between his deployment zone and the edge so it wouldn't be in my way and with the plan to dump a couple objective tokens behind it since I wasn't going to count on my archers or scions picking up much. I put two objective tokens over on that flank, he lined up 3 in that easy approach lane and one on the opposite flank by my deployment zone's corner, and I put my other two behind the off-center terrain.
Coming to deployment, I had to deploy 3. I placed my Leonx looking like they wanted to pick up the token he stashed in my corner, and staked my two Scions out to stall whatever wanted to come down that wide lane. He deployed his Spears across from them, and I put my 6-tray behind the scions. He placed one cavalry on either flank, and I reacted with Aliana on the non-Leonx flank, attempting to set her up to pick up the other objective token he gave me on a turn 1 4-march/reform I wanted to use to swing around to outflank his cavalry, and I put my 4-tray Archers behind the central terrain facing towards that flank's Oathsworn, then he finished up with Hawthorne alongside the Spearstar. I dropped my Greenwatch overgrowth within my deployment zone, creating a nice triangular sweet spot to cover the slow retreat I knew I'd want my 6-tray unit to do back towards the 4-tray and Aliana side, hooking them back around the central fortification to face the late-game flanking maneuver from the cavalry on my left. I then used Aliana's setup ability to redeploy the Leonx to support my right flank along with her.
Hawthorne and the Spearstar advanced, trees threw things at each of them, immobilizing Hawthorne with Vicious Roots (but unable to touch his armor). I managed to whiff picking up the objective token I wanted Aliana to get. His cavalry on the Aliana flank seemed hesitant to engage, perhaps wanting to save themselves a turn of getting shot at. The lonely flank Oathsworn ran out to grab an objective on a sweeping turn, and I ran my Leonx short, expecting to block the Oathsworn and hold them in place for Aliana. When they drew up short, instead, I saw an opportunity to sneak past their charging path early on turn 2, and just *barely* missed picking up an objective with a march-shift on initiative 3 that was going to get me flank-charged, so I opted to shift forward instead. My opponent used a quick march on his Spearmen to trigger his Rallying Cornicen in time to free up Hawthorne, who charged my Scion. I was taken by surprise, so I had to chuck a ranged attack order on that Scion (who took two wounds to Hawthorne), but the other took a shot at the Spearmen and rolled pretty poorly. Aliana just barely missed her turning charge on the Oathsworn, ending up alongside their rear. My 6-tray archers were taking chunks out of the Spearstar, settling into a routine of triggering Tempered Steel, shifting with the Scion, sometimes shifting with their natural shift, and getting refreshed by the other archer unit's Rallying Starling. They were doing a pretty reliable 6-9 damage a turn, but that Turn 1's really solid 9 damage was absorbed by the moving Spearmen's defensive modifier. Turn 2 I hit a mortal strike, an accuracy, and a hit, so I took a wound off Kari while I had the chance. The 4-tray archers were shooting at the advancing Oathsworn.
Turn 3, he went to charge me with his Spearmen and came up a quarter inch short, but I had expected him to make it, too, so that Scion swung at nothing Hawthorne slaughtered the other Scion, who had done his job and stalled him (and landed a stun token) long enough for my Leonx to flank him to do two more damage. Aliana snuck her 1-turning charge in before the Oathsworn could escape her, and ripped them a new one while they suffered a pretty poor roll for their returning attack. Turn 5, she was able to pick up the objective they'd collected. Meanwhile, the 4-tray archers turned their attention to Hawthorne, managing to put another wound on him as he couldn't quite finish off the Leonx in two turns of combat (thanks in large part to the stun token blunting his first attack). The 6-tray archers got to lay into the Spearstar while continuing to scoot to make it more complicated to pursue them after they chewed up the blocking Scion on turn 4. The Leonx continued their attack to pin the Spearstar, now down to 5 trays or so, and the flanking Oathsworn finally became relevant around turn 5 or 6 as they picked up an objective, hit the edge, and rallied to face the 6-tray of archers from two feet away. I took one last shot with the Archers at the mess of Spears, the spears fought back at the Leonx, killing them and chucking some of Kari's knives at the 4-tray to clear a full tray. I had intended to get clever with Aliana, shift-shifting her back towards my back edge in an L pattern to let her counter-charge the Oathsworn, but I screwed up my ordering and got the 4-tray in the way in the process. (Speaking of misplays, I missed an opportunity to finish off Kari with the Leonx's charge on the Spears when they rolled an accuracy). Instead, I shifted Aliana in to enter the fortification, and was able to hit the Spears with a charge on turn 7.
Turn 7 and 8 came down to me losing a full rank of the 6-tray archers to the cavalry charge, Aliana holding out by a wound against the Spearstar while getting the accuracy to finish Kari off with her mortal strike, and taking the Spearstar down to one rank, as well. Tempered Steel in melee, along with supporting attacks from my former 4-tray, managed to finish off the cavalry on turn 8.
Final score came down to 202 (Latari) vs. 148 (Daqan). I was unable to collect the objective his cavalry dropped on turn 8, but retained the two Aliana had picked up, and his Spearstar held onto the three gimmes he set himself up for. Had we had opponents for a second round of Swiss, I would have walked away with a 7-4 tournament point game, which I felt was pretty representative of the way the game went; it was a challenging game, but by the end the outcome wasn't in question the way you'd expect from a 6-5 finish. Had I not missed one of the two objectives with Aliana and the Leonx early on, that would have stretched it to an 8-3, which I would have felt pretty happy with in a multi-round setting.
This was my first time out with singleton Scions (previous lists I've run have used two Support Scions and two 3-tray Leonx units, so I hadn't gotten around to getting and assembling an expansion box yet to replace a unit of Leonx), and I was also quite pleased with the Rallying Starling boosting the 6-tray archers' Tempered Steel. This further solidifies my anticipation of the Darnati, who would fulfill the 4-tray archers' role so much better. In retrospect, I was able to do enough positioning with the 6-tray via shifting that I had no need to march with them, so if I take this list in the future I'm going to drop the Marching Starling for either a 2-point initiative bid. I'm on the fence about Ambush Predator vs. another Vicious Roots. Roots certainly did their job, here, and performed brilliantly. But Aliana can be so good as an objective grabbing unit that building up some lethal while she does that work is a good value, too. (I didn't focus her in that capacity this game because I was faced with cavalry units on both flanks, but with deployments like Careful Approach or on the Anvil side of Hammer and Anvil, I'd have been happy against many lists to send her off on her own before rejoining the battle late-game.)