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This is a neater way of storing my playtests for my customs that I want other people to be able to see. I mostly intend on posting about units that I'd like to submit to the SoV.
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Yokai vs. Heavy Gruts

Posted January 30th, 2021 at 06:04 PM by Astroking112
The Kirin-led Yokai just lost to Sacred Band, so obviously the next step is to test them against a probably A-tier army of Heavy Gruts, Nerak, Grimnak, and Marro Warriors. Surprisingly, they did better than against the Sacred Band.

DEADLOCK by Dignan
500 Points
Heavy Snow and Normal Ice
Glyphs: Ulaniva and Wannok
Captain Stupendous: Abe no Seimei, Kincho, Masha Shingai, Kirin, Nure Onna
Astro: Heavy Gruts x4, Nerak the Glacian Swog Rider, Grimnak, Marro Warriors

SURVIVING UNITS:
3x Heavy Gruts, 4x Marro Warriors, Grimnak (unwounded), Nerak (unwounded)
~270 Points Left

VERSION OF THE KIRIN USED:
Spoiler Alert!

VERSION OF NURE ONNA USED:
Spoiler Alert!

GAME SUMMARY:
Capt. S won initiative and then began developing towards Wannok a little bit with Nure Onna's 7 move. Meanwhile, I was expecting a Kirin blast coming later that round, so I used OM1 and 2 on the Marro Warriors, pinging at Nure Onna and then the Kirin as it was shifted in and Nure Onna moved towards Ulaniva. Only 1 wound was dealt to Nure Onna in these initial attacks, but Capt. S' OM3 on the Kirin was largely ineffective since the Marro Warriors were spread out and nothing else had a revealed OM on it (it was only able to kill a single MW with its normal attack). I then took my own OM3 developing the Heavies and Nerak a bit, moving towards Wannok to meet the Kirin with boosted defense.

Kincho teleported in next to the Kirin, then transformed into Masha after Capt. S used Divination to reveal that my X was on the MW for Round 2, revealing that all of my OMs would be on the Heavies this time (I didn't want to let a starting zone bomb happen, and leading with the MW would've opened them up to counterattacks throughout the whole round). Masha and the Kirin perched on the eastern edge of the map, right in front of Wannok, as I struggled to break through their defenses with the constant Terror of the Honorless active. I ended up circling around Masha with Nerak to get on even-level snow, though, and after grabbing Ulaniva, this brought him up to 5 attack which was able to take out a few chunks from Masha and wound the Kirin. They continued brawling like this for a bit, with the Kirin occasionally taking a SA against 2 or 3 Heavies (I generally was advancing another one on the West instead of risking four deaths) and always rolling 2 or 3 skulls. However, the 4 defense of the Heavies (with Nerak) held out quite often; in the entire game, the Kirin only killed 2 figures in a single turn once. Capt. S also often had to rely on the normal attack as he kept winning initiative, throwing 5 attack against 5 defense (since the Kirin boosted the Heavies' defense on OM1) quite often.

Meanwhile, I began advancing Grimnak down the bridge and ran out a Grut to claim height on Kincho. The Grut managed to deal 2 wounds and finish off Kincho, preventing Capt. S from easily developing more positions as I could comfortably slowly circle his units with Disengage and keep the Kirin as tied down as possible. Soon, Masha went down to 4 wounds, and I was able to finish him off soon thereafter the next round after an initiative switch. I claimed Wannok and began distributing wounds to Seimei.

The Kirin had whiffed a couple of times by now, getting up to 2 wounds with an increasing number of Orcs (some in the river were even backed up by Grimnak, so they were at 5 base defense or 6 when attacked by the Kirin). I forded the river in the west as well, getting within striking distance of Abe no Seimei, and more importantly to me, Nure Onna (she had taken one of the Wannok wounds while Seimei took 3, so she had 1 life left; I wanted to finish her off to prevent any defense shenanigans). Capt. S surprised me by swapping Seimei into the center of my Heavies, running the Kirin up and killing 2 Gruts with the SA to clear up the western bank at the end of the round. Seimei's 4 defense held out against the Gruts, though, so he was safe.

I switched over to the Marro Warriors for the next round, spreading out as much as possible and drastically limiting the Kirin's activations. This is where Peaceful Protector really began to hurt the Kirin; there were enough Orcs spread out across the map that reaching them was difficult. It took another 2 wounds and swapped back with Seimei again to strike a Marro Warrior from behind. I backed the remaining two up into water and cloned one back, letting the Kirin swap back to the west bank with Seimei near a now-empty Wannok. I then took my OM3 on the Heavies, moving Grimnak onto Wannok and attempting to Chomp Seimei outright. The roll was a success, and then one Heavy Grut came into reach of the Kirin and got lucky to deal 2 wounds, bringing it up to 4 damage. Cue Wannok dealing a wound, and Capt. S placed it on Nure Onna to finish her off rather than bring the Kirin down to 1 life.

This was basically the end of the game at this point; as it was almost certain that the Kirin could not get past Nerak and break Grimnak off of Wannok before succumbing to the Marro Warriors. It ended up lasting another two turns (killing another Heavy with its normal attack in the process), but it still fell to the ranged volley of the Marro Warriors.

FIGURE USAGE:
Divination was used fairly often to reveal the X on Masha and guarantee that Capt. S would have Terror active. Coupled with the Kirin and a good perch on height, Masha and the Kirin were a significant roadblock on the eastern part of the map (until I remember the orcs are known for disengage, and just took Wannok anyway, at least ).

Shapeshift was used almost every turn. One usage of particular note was when I was getting close to ambushing Nure Onna and Seimei, which would've trapped the Kirin. Capt. S surprised me by shifting the Kirin with Seimei (who was losing his value fairly quickly already) and then running out to kill both advancing Orcs, freeing up his options for another turn or two. This really exemplifies how much the Yokai can subvert normal expectations, I think: there are some really creative plays that you wouldn't expect them to do, but in hindsight, they're really smart and were a vital play to their success. Much like how I learned that Kincho probably has more uses for his own OMs than I thought, I think that the Yokai have a ton of strategic and tactical depth and are a very highly skill-based army, even if they're susceptible to sheer numbers.

Seimei also continues to have good value with his own defensive stats. I think that swapping him out for the Kirin was an exceptional play; leaving him alive until the end like Kato is tempting, but 6R/3A is often not going to win you the endgame. Being able to switch him in as an extra blocker once the Yokai have fallen apart is a very good utility.

Kirin's Judgment wasn't nearly as impactful as expected. Capt. S once had the opportunity to blast 5 Orcs in Round 2 (4 in my starting zone), but my placement ensured that he would take 3 LEAs to do so, and he would be in a potentially compromising position afterward. In general, he played the Kirin much more defensively than I often did (although I guess that's a bit misleading since my only test with its tanky 5D saw it take 5 wounds in one turn).

Almost all of the Yokai's turns were on the Kirin. Round 1 saw 2 OMs on Nure Onna for development, and Masha saw two OM1s to take a strike at Heavies (he only killed 1 of them). So the Kirin got all other kills for the army and was the last figure standing, which is pretty respectable for its position as more or less the "center" of this build.

Masha proved that he is actually a very respectable part of this build, at least against melee. The difference between 3 and 2 attack is painful, and coupled with the Kirin being able to nuke everything, they were quite effective. Not effective enough to beat out pure Heavies (not even backed up by Grimnak), but effective. I think that in the last game, if I had prioritized killing Marcus to keep the Sacred Band at 2 attack, they would've held together much better.

Capt. S chose to not activate Tanuki Trickery one round (intentionally keeping 2 OMs on the Kirin) to ensure that Kincho got the Peaceful Protector bonus. He ended up whiffing and dying anyway the next turn, but I thought that it was interesting that he forwent the ability to get more durability and movement with Kincho.

Total Damage Dealt:
Masha: ~20 Points (1 Heavy)
Kirin: 235 Points (2x MW, 12x Heavies)

Note: Most of the Kirin's damage came from single attacks (only one turn saw it kill two figures). This was a pretty slow game as a result, especially with Heavy Snow also in the mix. The damage dealt is pretty respectable considering that it got 90% of the turns and was the main damage dealer of the build, like Ibaraki-doji generally is.

THOUGHTS:
Overall, I think that the Kirin is in a surprisingly good place. There are some key things that I want to continue to explore, especially with its recent buffs, but it's much less problematic than I originally anticipated. It's more effective when played conservatively to maximize its usefulness; although it's tempting to throw Kincho into a starting zone and go to town, being able to smartly limit your opponents' options has a lot of value, and by taking things more slowly, you're able to ease out the variance of only rolling 4 dice and having fewer figures. Overall, the Kirin is a lot like a melee Zelrig: scary, but match-up dependent and inferior to several other options.

I thought that Peaceful Protector was very interesting in how often it actually hurt Capt. S. He noted that he wished he had taken more turns with Masha to bypass it, but he often had no choice but to attack units he was boosting since I had the easy option to switch over to Marro Warriors for a few Order Markers and still get a lot of value. I did forget that Ulaniva boosts them for about 2 rounds (they would've been much deadlier otherwise), though. In general, the Kirin is still very exploitable by armies with OM flexibility. I'd still like to see more melee bread and butter tests with its shiny new 5 defense, but it should also be tested against more armies like controllers, agents, Varkaanans, and Samurai that really have the potential to ruin its day.

I will also note that so far, many of the Kirin's games have involved Heavy Snow, which disproportionately benefits it by making it harder for figures to spread out without slowing the Kirin's movement. Just some more food for thought; in general, the Yokai really struggle against armies that can develop a lot of figures at once; 9-move SB and 5 activations per OM for Orcs were both very rough for them to handle once I broke through the central river chokepoints.
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