Friday, October 21, 2016

Tournament Battle Report – UCM vs PHR – Careful Advance

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a tournament this past Saturday, 15 October, 2016, at Imperial Outpost Games in Glendale, AZ.  I only got to play in Round 2, unfortunately, but it was a fun game of Careful Advance, pitting my unconventional UCM forces against Andrew Burke’s PHR army that contained a few surprises.

Not a Ferrum in sight...

Apollo-B's?  An Athena?  What shenanigans are these???

(Sorry for the lack of pictures, folks, but we were kinda busy... :)

As you can see, we both featured some Flame weapons in our lists, mine being the squad of Fireblades in a Condor, while Andrew had four Apollo-B’s attached to his Immortals.  Both of these squads would play a decisive role in our game!

And, we both had Fast Movers, which is something Andrew runs regularly, but it's been a while for your's truly...

Also, I had to proxy a few things in my army, specifically I used a PHR Poseidon to stand in for the Albatross, an Athena to take the place of the Retaliator, and two squads of Hazard Suits to represent the Flak Teams.  This game would help me determine whether or not I’d invest in an Albatross and a Retaliator; I believe I have a blister of Flak Teams, but need to double check my stash of unbuilt UCM.

In this mission we were using the Ecosystems: Sub-Zero Environmental Rule from Reconquest: Phase 2, so vehicles could not use exceptional ground and treated all roads as “normal”; all Units are +1 to find objectives, to a maximum of 6, which meant our Infantry would succeed on only a 6 in both their first and second turns of searching; and all Units count their armor as 1 higher than normal in CQB, up to a maximum of 4, taking into account their heavy cold weather gear.  It was my intention to avoid CQB as much as possible, but that was to be determined…


As both of us had Fast Movers, we rolled for them at the beginning of the turn.  Andrew’s Athena was busy refueling, as was my Retaliator, but my Archangel was on point and ready to turn up at the start of the game.

I dumped all of my Infantry into my home objective building, as did Andrew.  He deployed one squad of Phobos from their Neptune to the right of his home objective building, and the other to the left.  This gave them a commanding view of the entire board, and significantly restricted how and where I could move my Condors and Albatross.

I moved my Albatross with the Sabre brick and Rapiers down my left flank towards the Critical Location on that side of the board, taking care to go To The Deck behind a small structure to keep out of sight of Andrew’s Phobos that were on the right of his home objective building.  I sent my Gladii in their Condor towards the right CL and sent them To The Deck behind a rectangular normal building there.  

The placement of my Fireblades was a bit more of a challenge – I wanted to threaten his home objective building if I could, but didn’t think I could get that far in the Condor with the two squads of Phobos stationed on either side of it.  With Andrew’s Hera squad on my right flank ready to pummel any light armor that was foolish enough to disembark right in front of them, I decided to position the Fireblades so that I could threaten the central objective building as soon as possible, with the hopes of moving towards and possibly shooting at his home objective building the turn after, if his Infantry was still searching for his objective by then.  To do this, I maneuvered the Fireblades’ Condor around the left side of my large home objective building and then around in front of it towards the central objective building, hugging the cover provided by Andrew’s home objective building from his Phobos, which were just barely unable to see the Condor at this point.  I would have to activate these guys first next turn, unless I wanted them shot out of the sky.

Andrew moved his Apollo-B’s and his Hera squad up  on his left, towards my right flank.  I booked my Phoenix along my home board edge towards the CL to the right to help the Gladii control that CL from Andrew’s approaching Type-3 walkers.  It was close, but it looked like my Phoenix was out of range of the Phobos on my right, but I couldn’t be sure of that.  He brought his Apollo-A squad on along his board edge to his right, wary of my Flak Teams that were ready to take up a position on the walls of my home objective building in Turn 2.

My Archangel graced me with its presence, and I made a successful attack run on the Neptune that had brought on the Phobos to my left of Andrew’s home objective building.  I was hoping to deny his Phobos the ability to redeploy to the CL on my left in a later turn.  In perfect 20/20 hindsight the next turn, I realized I should’ve targeted the Neptune that had brought on his Immortals’ Junos – D’oh!  But the Archangel lived up to its reputation, and handily put two DPs on the Phobos’ Neptune before cruising off the table in complete safety.

So it was pretty clear what our intentions were when it came to the CLs – I was moving my Gladii and Phoenix over to the one on my right, while Andrew was indicating that his Hera squad and Apollo-B’s would be making the challenge over there; and my brick of 6 MBTs and 3 AATs were making their way to the CL on my left, with Andrew’s Apollo-A’s making a move to counter them.  The question in my mind was:  Who will score on which one in Turn 2, if at all?


My Retaliator decided not to show up Turn 2, but fortunately for me so did Andrew’s Athena.  Andrew Field Repaired his damaged Neptune, and after quite a bit of contemplation I put an Underground Monorail between my home objective building and the central objective building.  With Valkyries in Andrew’s home objective building having an easy jump to the central structure, this was quite a gamble, but I was hoping it would pay off.

I won Initiative, and after a moment’s thought of getting right to searching for my objective with my Flak Teams, I realized that I needed to get my Fireblades on the ground and out of their Condor before Andrew could activate his Phobos that were just out of sight of the medium dropship!  This meant I had to activate my Gladii, too, which I did first.  I flew their Condor towards the CL and disembarked the two big tanks so that they were within 3” of it, but hidden behind a large, rectangular building that would block line of sight to them from Andrew’s Hera squad, completely for one of them and at least partially for the other.  I then activated my Fireblades, and although he had  a sliver of a line to their Condor from at least one of his Phobos, Andrew opted not to reaction fire.  I put the Fireblades down in a conga line right up against the tall, large building in the center of the table, on my side of the building.  From there they were a definite threat to the central building, and it looked to me like at least two of them would be able to move out and shoot at Andrew’s home objective building the next turn, if his Infantry were still there – the Fireblades were definitely at risk of being in line of sight to his Hera and her Apollo-A’s this turn, and I was hoping that the conga line would save them.

Andrew searched for his home objective with his two Immortal squads, and managed to roll a 6.  Drat.  That’s when I realized that my Archangel should have shot at the Immortal’s Neptune, but it didn’t matter, as I didn’t manage to kill the other Neptune in Turn 1, and Andrew just took the objective, Immortal squad and all, off the board.  His other Immortals squad boarded their Juno, eager to put some distance between them and the Fireblades that were lurking at the center of the table.

Before they had a chance to go to the windows to spot for my FMs, Andrew jumped his Apollo-B’s out and almost completely destroyed my squad of Legionnaires who were acting as my Forward Air Controllers!  He put 4 DPs on one base and 2 DPs on the other with those nasty Manslayer guns.  Wow!  I’ve never been a fan of the B variant of Type-3 walkers, but when you take four of them, they can really put the hurt on a squad!

My Legionnaires failed to find the objective, but declined to go to the walls for fear of more shooting by Andrew’s army – without FACs to spot for them, my FMs would just have to find their own way to the fight.

My Flak Teams were more successful searching, finding my home objective this turn, but decided to hand it off to the severly damaged Legionnaires squad that had already activated.  Rather than man the walls here, I opted to have the Flak Teams embark onto their Bears and Condor and head towards the tall, large building that was within scoring distance of the CL to my left.  With any luck, they’d get there in time to make some sort of contribution to controlling that CL, and might even get to take a shot in anger at something airborne, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

Andrew moved his Apollo-A’s along his board edge towards the CL to my left, but without a dropship and having walked onto the board in Turn 1, they were not going to make it there to try to control it th is turn.  They did, however, shoot at my home objective building, and managed to put another 2 DPs on my FAC squad, finishing off the one base and leaving me with one base with 2 DPs on it, limping along with the found objective.  Hopefully I could extract these guys at the start of Turn 3, but my backup plan to that was the other, full-strength Legionnaires squad that was in the same battlegroup that were still in that building.

Andrew’s Hera squad moved up towards the CL on my right, but had the same problem as his 4-man Apollo-A squad, and couldn’t get within scoring range.  They tried to shoot at the hull down Gladius, but failed to damage it.   

Meanwhile, I disembarked the Sabres and Rapiers from the Albatross, but due to the heavy dropship’s ponderous movement, they were not going to score on the CL on my left that turn.  Andrew moved his Phobos forward, extending their air dominance of the board, while I moved my Phoenix its full distance to the safety of the shadow of the large building that the Gladii were hiding behind.  The Phoenix’s flight path was clever, but not clever enough, and Andrew’s Phobos on that side managed to take two DPs off of it with reaction fire.  No worries, I had a Field Repairs in my hand – hopefully Andrew wouldn’t get an Espionage before I wanted to use it at the start of Turn 3!

My Archangel flew on and avoided the reaction fire of the other two Phobos, but failed to finish off the Neptune it had targeted in Turn 1, taking off the DP that Andrew had repaired at the start of this turn.

Which left Andrew’s Valkyries to activate.  They no longer needed to be in their home objective building, and could easily jump to the central objective building.  However, with 3 Fireblades hugging the base of that structure, the Girls were more than a little reluctant to try to occupy that juicy target.  They opted to split up, heading to either flank, presumably with the intention of trying to score on the CLs in a future turn.

My Gladii ended up controlling the CL on my right, and no one controlled the CL on my left at the end of this turn.  Andrew had gotten his home objective off  the board, and my badly injured Legionnaires still held onto my home objective in their building.


Andrew:  2 VPs
J.D.:  2 VPs


Both of our late FMs decided to turn up this turn, which was both very good and very bad for me.  Andrew had left a huge group of two squads of Type-3 walkers and one of his squads of Phobos very nicely clustered up together on my right, which was going to make for a very juicy target for the Retaliator’s Barrage weapon if I could get to it fast enough.

I believe I won Initiative again this turn, despite having a lower CV commander, but at any rate I was able to get my severely depeted Legionnaires squad with my home objective off the board before Andrew’s Athena could snipe out their Raven A.  The other squad of Troops boldly crossed the Underground Monorail and entered the central building in a bid for the objective that was just sitting there, asking to be found.  With Andrew’s Valkyries at least two turns away from jumping back into that building, I had a chance to find that objective and possibly keep it one step ahead of the Deadly Dames.

In the meantime, Andrew surprised me and sent his Athena on an attack run against the Flak Teams’ fully-loaded Condor.  The gall!  And of course, he shot it down.  In the process I lost one Bear, and subsequently one base of Flak troops, which took shelter behind a small structure right where the Condor dropped, intending to get into that building next turn; the other bear was placed back towards my home objective building, figuring they’d weather the inevitable onslaught by Andrew’s Apollo-B’s for the chance to pitch in and help the Legionnaires search for the central objective.  In the meantime, as Andrew flew right past my Rapier squad, I reaction fired with them one at a time, but none of them managed to even so much as put a scratch on the dastardly FM.  Quite a successful activation for Andrew, and I remembered how potent an Athena can be, much to my chagrin.

However, it was now my turn to exact some FM revenge, and my Retaliator obliged by turning up for an attack run.  Since all of Andrew’s Phobos were facing towards me, I brought the lumbering beast on from his side of the table to try and drop a large template right onto the big cluster of walkers that was just begging to be blasted.  The attack run was a huge success, and I managed to take out three Apollo-B’s, plus one Apollo-A from the Hera’s squad.  However, the dodgy Phobos that was caught under the template merely laughed off the shot, taking no damage, while the other Phobos team dispatched the noble Retaliator with precision reaction fire.  So ended my experiment with a Retaliator, but it was enough for me to know that I want to pick one up the next time I order some Dropzone Commander models!

Andrew jumped his Apollo-A’s over towards the CL on my left, and I moved my MBT blob forwards onto it, as well.  We exchanged shots, each losing a Unit, me a Sabre and him an Apollo, but in the end I had 3 Sabres on the CL to his one Apollo, so I would control that CL this turn, as his Valkyries were too far away to score on it, at least for now.

Meanwhile my Gladii poked their heads around the corner from their hiding spot and fired at one of the Phobos standing within range, taking off one damage point, but not able to kill it.  The two tanks were just in front of the CL on my right, still scoring on it, so I cheekily moved their Condor forward and landed it in front of them, thereby blocking off the remains of Andrew’s Hera’s squad from landing in that area.  Unless he had a Crazy Pilot card, he was not likely to get anywhere near that CL this turn, and probably not the next, at least with enough points’ worth of models to offset what I had over there, and planned to have there by the end of this turn.

With this battlegroup’s activation I then needed to decide what to do with the remaining Fireblades.  I had lost one of them to a lucky shot by the Phobos’ Neptune – not the Hera or the Apollos that could see them, oh,  no, a Neptune’s Stealth Missile.  Andrew continued to extend his history of lucky shots with his Neptunes! 

With the Valkyries on that flank poised to jump into the large building that my Gladii and Phoenix had hidden behind, which was in scoring distance to that CL, I decided to bunny-hop the two remaining Fireblades over towards that CL to keep the Girls from getting near it.  Andrew was holding his remaining Phobos’ shots for when my Phoenix was going to stick its neck out, so the Fireblades’ Condor went unmolested and deposited its charges within scoring distance to the CL, and also, within range of shooting at that large building next turn, if necessary.

With no other choice, really, the Valkyries from my right flank jumped back into their home objective building, with the clear intention of heading towards the central building the next turn to try to foil my plans to find and remove that objective.

My Phoenix then did pop itself around the corner, parked right on top of the CL, and managed to take out one of the two remaining Apollo-A’s from the Hera squad with its massive chainguns, leaving just the Hera and a lone Apollo-A to try to figure out how they were going to get onto that very well-protected CL.  Andrew’s Phobos managed to take 3 more DPs off of the Phoenix with reaction fire, leaving my commander with 5 DPs to see me through to the next turn.


Andrew:  2 VPs
J.D.:  5 VPs


The tank battle on my left flank resulted in me finishing off 2 Apollo-A’s, leaving just one, while Andrew’s Phobos’ Neptune on that side, in an obvious competition with the other Phobos’ Neptune pilot, managed to plink off one of my Sabres.  Shenanigans!  In the end, the Valkyries could get into a scoring position, but with 3 Rapiers and 3 Sabres left piled up around that CL, it was mine, and we were running out of time in the Round.

Meanwhile my Archangel took out that pesky, damaged Neptune that had sniped the Sabre, but was ruthlessly cut down with reaction fire by the Phobos over there.

My Legionnaires failed to find that objective in the central building, needing a 6, and the Valkyries on my right did jump into that building, but with time running out, it didn’t look like there was going to be a CQB there, and even if there was, my full Flak Team was making its way over, and my Fireblades could still swing back around and flame that building should it have been necessary.

On my right the Gladii’s Condor took flight, and the big tanks managed to take out both of Andrew’s Phobos on the other side of his home objective building, while the Legionnaires in the central building managed to remove one of the two Phobos on my right side of his home objective building with their Phoenix missiles (it had been damaged in a previous turn).  I still could’ve lost my Phoenix, but we ran out of time, and with so much armor surrounding the CL on my right, and no Crazy Pilot in sight, there was no way Andrew would be able to score on it, ever.

At this point, we had to call the game as we were out of time in the Round.

Final Score:

Andrew:  2 VPs
J.D.:  7 VPs

Being a 5 VP difference, this awarded me a 15-5 TPs tournament score for the Round.  Andrew had just a wee bit more Kill Points than I’d managed to nick, so no KP bonus for me, and the score stood at 15-5 VPs.


I think Flame has really come of age with the kinds of missions that were released in Reconquest: Phase 2.  Clearly four Apollo-B’s are a threat to almost any non-suited Infantry, and if it hadn’t been for the brave sacrifice of my Seraphim Retaliator, they would have wreaked much more carnage on my Troops than they managed to (which was quite enough, thank you!).

It’s also clear to me that APCs in a medium dropship still suck, being too slow and too expensive vis-à-vis light dropships to get Infantry where they need to go.  A Juno A2 is fine for bringing Valyries a bit further onto the table than they’d be able to walk on, but isn’t suited to carrying Immortals to contribute much more than removing a home objective and then basically doing nothing for the rest of the game, which is what happened to Andrew’s Immortals squads.

It’s also pretty clear that, despite my distaste for it, if you’re going to bring that many Apollos, some of them need to be in Neptunes (or a Njord!) in order to get to the CLs in the cross-quarters and start to score on them as quickly as possible.  Type-3’s walking on just can’t get where they need to get to in time to score before something bigger and badder can drop in and camp on those crucial Critical Locations.

In the end it was the only game I would get to play in that tournament, but it was a fun game, and I appreciate Andrew for being the amazing opponent that he always is.  The game was fun, and it was a great experiment with my non-Ferrum, non-AirCav, non-CQB UCM.  I really like the Retaliator, and will pick one up as soon as I make another DzC order, and I’m also going to be getting me an Albatross in that order, because, despite it being slow as hell, the payload it can carry can make a helluva difference in a game!

It was great to play Sabres and Gladii again, too.  I’d like to see both of them come down a few points, and there have also been calls for Condors to automatically get the missile pod upgrades for their existing points, which would be helpful, but at the same time might make them a bit too good.  Not sure on that one, now that I think about it – I was going to say, “Yeah, they need that!”, but at E8 and SC those missile pods are a bit more of a threat than PHR Stealth Missiles.  I’d hate to see the humble Condor go up in points, so more thought (and playtesting) needs to be applied to that idea.

I would like to see the missile pods for the Albatross come down in price considerably, however.  That bloated beast did absolutely nothing after it dropped off the MBT brick.  With cheaper missile pods it could at least have taken pot shots at the Apollo-A’s that were taking up position on the CL on my left and contributed a bit more to the game.  (Still going to get one, because MBT brick!)

I hope you enjoyed this battle report.  Thanks for taking the time to read it; I know I can be long-winded most of the time, so I appreciate you seeing this post thru to the end.  Please leave a comment below (something, anything!), and check back later for more adventures on the road to Valhalla!


  1. Nice report, shame you didn't get to finish the game.
    Critical Locations really change the game. People that take a lot of walk-on units will really suffer, and normally the game will be beyond them by turn 3.
    Did you release the missions before the tournament or were they a surprise for all who attended?

    1. No, I released the scenarios a week before the event. However, Andrew stated that he'd just thrown the list together the night before, as he'd been too swamped with work to really think about it (he and Robert hadn't played a game of Dropzone since early August, they both had crazy late summer schedule demands, and our former FLGS shut down unexpectedly late August/early September, can't recall for certain now). He said he just wanted to play a bunch of newer models that he hadn't had a chance to use yet, like the Apollo-B's and the Hera. I think the B's were a bit of a happy accident for him in that regard!