Man, tonights game was...bizarre. Kind of grindy, and also full of weird dice rolls (and of course my traditional moment of rampant stupidity...)
I faced the Alchemists tonight, in the form of Smoke, Flask, Calculus, Mercury, Compound and vKatalyst. Managed to win the roll off and elected to receive.
So I took (without any real plan) Scalpel and Dirge, Bonesaw, Cosset, Graves and Brainpan/Memory.
The opening was pretty much the flag for the whole game - ball way out on my left flank, out of everyone's comfortable range except Smoke (who'd kicked off). Eventually I had Scalpel sprint and second wind, so she could reach it and get partway back. Snagged it off her using I'm Open off Brainpan, who dropped it next to Dirge to get the passing chain going. That did leave me out of position for any goal runs though, so I took a risk and used Bonesaw's spare inf to dervish back and forth with Graves twice to build momentum.
Turn two went strangely. I lost initiative, so the onslaught of AoEs began in earnest and vKatalyst came piling in. Scalpel's response was to Use Voodoo Strings to yank him closer, bounce off him, and then charge Mercury for a nice early takeout and getting into position to support Bonesaw's efforts. Which he promptly fluffed, giving the ball to Scalpel on an intercept and killing the goal run. He later died to an angry vKatalyst, leaving the score 2-2 and Scalpel and Dirge loitering about with Compound. More condition hammering also occurred, leaving me with a lot of fragile people.
I thought I'd be clever on turn 3, and have Scalpel run round Compound, hit him for momentum and to dodge away, then shoot. @Secondbreky even said "are you sure?" as I positioned her 1" away and I still didn't think to check what would happen. Which of course was gluttonous mass, followed by the counterattack tackling her and shoving her away, leaving 5 inf on an isolated model. Fortunately, I could second wind her and Wake the Dead Cosset, who was not looking healthy, so I only really wasted 1 Inf. That also let me tuck back in to annoy Compound some more, in case anything useful happened. Graves poked away at smoke, doing a bit more damage, and the general drain on all sides continued.
At the end of turn 3 though, after some serious beatings and a fair bit of AoE abuse by Smoke, Scalpel Cosset Graves and Bonesaw ended up either dead or succumbing to poison... eight points in one turn, four from condition damage. At 10-2, it wasn't looking good for the Morticians.
Luckily, my next gameplan was +1/+1 move, which combined with a handy patch of fast ground at the end of their returning jogs allowed the three damage dealers to reappear in a cluster and be able to reach a huge area of the field. Bonesaw showed up on the other side, planning to try and pincer whoever went for the goal (hopefully without them scoring). A great play from @Secondbreky put flask squarely in front of my three key players, with a smoke cloud stopping any of them seeing Smoke and forcing me to completely rethink things. So instead, I had Bonesaw (with support from Memory) throw Katalyst in the way of an easy pass from Calculus to Smoke, Dirge move up to block Smoke from Unpredictable Movement-ing further away from the trio, then eventually ran Scalpel up to park right next to Smoke. Memory worked Katalyst over, leaving him on 2 health and poisoned (from one of his own team's AoEs), Smoke ran towards the goal ready for a snap shot only to be charged down by Cosset, and Graves decided since he couldn't get to anyone else, he'd use his 4 Inf to leave Flask on 1 health with Bleed, generate a load of momentum, and then run off before the explosion.
Turn 4 started with the score 10-7 to the Alchemists, and Scalpel once again walking round Compound. Only this time, she didn't attack him (see, I do learn eventually ). She went right round to reach Calculus, the ball holder, and with Memory again providing the Crowd Out she repeatedly hit her, generating some momentum, doing a bit of damage, tackling the ball and dodging away. I bonus timed the tap in, and rolled :1 :1 :1 :4 - because the best bonus time is one you really did need
That put the game at 11-10 to the Morticians, at which point Katalyst decided enough was enough and hammered Scalpel into the floor to win the game.
So... there was a lot of chip damage and denial going on in this game. I had expected to face a footballing team with a side of takeouts and took something designed to do a mix, but what ended up happening was an 8 VP swing one way followed by a 9 VP swing the other, bringing the game close despite wildly veering one way at first. The whole game was an exercise in doing things to mess the other side up (and one or two really high quality mistakes ) that meant it was real work to get any VP scored. I have no idea what I'd do differently next time beyond remember Gluttonous Mass and plan for it, if I'd thought to park myself in base contact I would've been able to carry on swinging, get the ball back, and probably score much earlier. But then, the chances are it would've meant a goal on both sides, and that would mean the game ending before I could claw back from the mass casualties.
In interesting notes, Memory did a lot more crowding out than usual and even some attacks, because converting 2inf to 4mom was pretty handy in securing that crucial turn and setting up a takeout. Brainpan for once didn't get killed, which is also a win! Graves finally did some proper attacks and made a noticeable dent in Smoke (and Flask, despite the 2ARM), so he performed better this game. Didn't actually use Tooled Up on any attacks though, as I preferred to have the Inf spent poking someone for Bleed. I'm not totally convinced by him, as there's vHemlocke or Pelage that can (probably) do similar work to what he's doing in my games. Cosset, sadly, still does a 2VP for 2VP trade usually. She's effective at securing a takeout and maybe assisting a second (provided I give her Reanimate), but she's not winning me games yet. Scalpel is doing more work for me now, though I can't really say why I'm using her differently. She's putting down damage for sure, but her mobility, ball retrieval, and ability to get in the way (and often hijack an opportune ball) seem to be working more for me. That may just be the change to facing Alchemists though. DIrge still just floats about with no Inf, serving to trigger Memory's dodge and add a crowd out/parting blow. He's often not near Cosset's target though, so I don't seem to get much from the damage assist.