Phonan vs. Claytonious
Match I: Phonan Attacks, Claytonius Defends
This game seemed far too easy from the start. Key words: from the start.
Part I: Idiocy
I began with a massive shelling mighty enough to split the world in two. Luckily it was focused on the unbreakable bridge. I knew Clay would have a huge number of tricks up his sleeve, so I was going to be careful and follow up with a huge ion barrage from one of the ion tower outposts. I also ordered a fire mission on what appeared to be an outpost he'd set up in the north. Of course, I never anticipated what a trickiful trick Clay's would be. My brave light attack force arrived to probe the bridge and found... nothing. Absolutely nothing. I wandered with my Apollo onto the bridge, feeling like a complete moron, only to find myself the target of about three ion beams. I then proceeded to spin like an idiot, and eventually run for cover while my aforementionedly brave yet also mentally-challenged bot allies stayed on the bridge. I silently thanked them for their sacrifice as I ran screaming away from what was now to be called The Bridge Of Death.
Part II: Advance!
Having wasted a huge amount of both ammo and CPU power with my initial artillery strike, I changed plans and moved my heavy Thors onto (and under) the bridge. Surely they would bear up under Claytonious's ion beams for a long time. Meanwhile, Clay had parked himself on a nearby ridge and was now lobbing HEAT rounds at my men. I moved out with another tank accompanying me to strike at both of these threats, while my allies held the bridge. I tried stunning Clay and placing a 76mm Turret behind him, as had worked so well on a previous match when Stonewall killed me, but to no avail. In choosing between the entire firebase and Clay in a single tank, I aimed for some absurd reason to destroy the latter. I crept up the hill in my Apollo and with my customary stealth and ease dispatched his Thor, suffering only a complete shutdown of my engine and major damage to my turret on my own part. Meanwhile, I had placed a huge detachment of turrets to the northeast to occupy his ion firebase. This was to be the next of my biggest problems.
Part III: Firebase
I was absolutely shocked when Claytonious's ion brigade actually destroyed my forward tank! Destroyed it! A Thor! It was time to do something about this firebase. As had been mentioned in the manual (which I somehow still remember reading) a detachment of Thor IC's can be nearly impossible to kill, while also being a terrible, and in this case, absolutely lethal nuisance. My Thor MBTs could do nothing to the hull-down ion cannons. They were also protected by two Hermes. This would be a very tough nut to crack. Luckily, I'd managed to slip a Sensor Jammer into my set of 90 mm Turrets, which were by now doing me no good either. I dropped in a Rifle Squad, hoping to wreak havoc on Clay's firebase. I jetted up the slope, still under cover of the Jammer (luckily, his Paladin IC was too busy blasting my AT Turrets to notice my approach.) Once I was outside the Jammer's comforting radius, though, it was time to be careful. I crept up the hill now, and came almost face to face with a Thor IC. I was, of course, sure that ion troops were the only ones here, other than a Hermes somewhere. I grinned, like a wolf among sheep. I popped off a few ATGs, crippling two of Clay's tanks, only to run straight into a vengeful Claytonius in an MBT! I tried to escape, but just then noticed his two Hermes in an artfully blasted crater that I was jetting over. Finally, I proceeded to die. Quickly, I made ready for another attack at that firebase. I was sure my Thors were about to give it up. As luck would have it, I didn't have to strike. Claytonious graciously came to me.
Part IV: Finale
I was fairly sure I knew what was happening when I saw a horde of Dropships rising into the air. I devoutly wished the AA Turret I'd placed near the firebase was still alive. In an odd twist of fate, I was now the defender, while Clay took the offensive. This gave me at least one small advantage, in that unlike most defenders, I only needed one unit on the objective to keep it. Surely Clay couldn't drive everything off in the short amount of time he had left. I wisely placed a fire mission in the southwest, which was the only likely place for Clay to strike. Of course, I was wrong and Clay attacked again from the north, but this time with all the heavy weapons he'd been saving. I quickly changed tack and dropped an EMP mission on his position (I deftly figured it out from the cloud of his Dropships in the region.) I then used more of my amazing command abilities to waste all of our remaining turrets to stall his advance. Luckily, this worked for a while. With this, Clay had precious little time left. We threw everything we had into the attack. I started counting down the seconds and noticed that I had started counting down the seconds. This meant that as Clay till hadn't won, I'd made it! I praised my foolhardy yet outstandingly brave troops (but Collins* was to have a difficult time explaining why he was "Inactive" through the entire fight.)
This was a really great match. Clay must have been laughing his head off as he saw wave after wave of artillery pound the undefended bridge. Meanwhile, he had time to set up a brilliant attack, which happened to be nearly exactly what I'd planned for this round. Somehow, he ended up on the offensive and I was stuck guarding the bridge. So much for my brilliant ion strike! I was saved for two reasons. My Thors held up far longer against the ions than Clay could spare to attack them. Also, and possibly due to my Thors' resilience, Clay's attack was delayed long enough for me to be able to hold on to the end. I readied myself for the next battle, with Clay on the attack. Somehow, this was the one that worried me most, even though I'd already defended once successfully. Perhaps it was that I'd actually have to create a well-planned defense for his all-out attack, something I'd only glimpsed in the last match. Now he'd have plenty of time to throw his worst at me. I tried not to let my troops see my fear as I gave my orders and prepared to face the mighty Claytonious again in battle.
Match II: Claytonious Attacks, Phonan Defends
This match did not seem "too easy" from the start. I was scared silly from the start. However, I wasn't prepared for Clay's stealthy tactics.
Part I: Rallying the Troops
The deployment phase was the shortest five minutes of my life. I frantically issued orders, at the same time knowing fully that the defense I had created was not nearly enough to stop a full-on siege. I stationed only two tanks on the bridge itself. I stationed a Bacchus in each corner of the map uncovered by an AA Tower, these being the northwest and southeast. I placed an infantry squad right on the side of the gulch on either end of the bridge. In the end, this is probably what saved me the game. I hid a Mercury in the far southeast corner of the map for command and control. Despite Clay trying to distract me with side conversation, I bravely persevered to the end of my frantic Deployment Phase. The game began!
Part II: Where the Heck are They?
As I saw no enemy activity save for some sporadic fire towards the southwest, I decided to take a look there first in my favorite vehicle save for the Viper, a Shrike. I saw nothing but a Cutter climbing the hill towards my western Ion Tower outpost. I fired off an ATGM, then lost sight of it. I went back... nothing. At this point the wise course would have been to scout more in the area. Instead, I took the time to place some AA near my poorly guarded bridge. I then decided to "drop in" on the Ion Tower post with a Rifle Squad to make sure the Cutter wasn't endangering my operation. To my surprise, it was already capturing! I jumped into the Ion Tower for protection, only to discover that my ATGs were blocked by the building the Cutter was capturing. I got out, snuck around, and fired several ATGs into the Cutter's side. All was well for now. I spent several minutes after extracting doing more fruitless hunting for Claytonious's troops, but couldn't find them. Then... hey! There were more troops by the base! I sent in my Apollo to stop another Cutter. I waltzed through the doorway and straight into the barrel of Clay's Thor. I'd been had for what seemed like the millionth time. I was getting really tired of this. At least now I knew where they were.
Part III: (Attempted) Destruction of a Beachhead
I threw infantry, more Apollos, and everything else I could think of at the base. There was a Hermes covering it, along with another Thor however. I just couldn't make it in. Finally, I crept up the hill in an Apollo and saw Clay extract. Yes! I thought. Now I can slip in! This was my chance. I ran to the doorway he'd been defending, only to find him there again. This was getting very tiring. "I took over a bot" he remarked after blasting me into oblivion for the umpteenth time. Apparently whoever made more kills or some such would win a tie of two games. I knew that by now Clay would definitely win a tie, so I couldn't let the game end up like that. Unfortunately, that seemed how it was destined to be. Because my forces were so spread out, I couldn't spare a full assault on Clay's position without leaving my bridge sorely (or completely) undefended. As I'd been trying to excise Claytonious's forces from my outpost, he had taken over both that and my southwest AA Tower. I now realized with great sadness two things. One, I couldn't defend the objective with my Viper anymore. Two, this meant Clay would likely strike soon. There was far too much time left for me to hold on. You can easily tell which brought me more sadness.
Part IV: Oh, THERE they are!
With about twelve minutes left, I knew Clay could take the objective without some quick thinking on my part. Unfortunately, I had none to offer. I simply drew upon my absolutely pitiful reserves, telling my men to defend the bridge with their lives and prepare for the worst. I, on the other hand, took a flanking position in the south with a Thor. I managed to cripple a couple of his attacking Apollos with long distance HEAT rounds. I also managed to track a Thor turret and blow it up. This decreased his attack force by three tanks, but they immediately dropped back in. My biggest disadvantage was that my bridge was pitifully undefended in terms of AA. Once my Hermes died, all I had was a Sensor Jammer to cover my drops in. This was a truly tricky idea of Clay's. He now had air superiority. The fact that I couldn't use my Viper saddened me beyond measure. I settled in for a slugging match. Unfortunately, as I picked off his tanks, Clay appeared on my flank in his own Thor. A couple HEAT rounds and he disappeared. How silly I was to think he'd just leave! Suddenly, Clay popped up perfectly hull down on my flank again. I had to keep his troops off my base, but to hit them, I had to expose the side of my turret to his tender HEAT rounds. I spent a while fencing with him until I made the fatal mistake of rotating for one more shot. That shot was my last as Claytonious placed a 120mm AP round in the side of my tank. I knew I couldn't spend more time dueling him, as his troops quickly advanced on the bridge.
Part V: Ace in the Hole
My troops had done outstandingly well to hold off Clay's massive assault for this long. I took over an Apollo and blasted more of his troops, but to no avail. My allied Thor and I fought with the desperation of those who know they are dead men, but even our combined strength soon failed. Clay's Apollo paraded past to take my objective. I had nothing left but the infantry who had so kindly waited in the Gulch until now. Thanking them for their determination in waiting unprotected by anything but stealth for so long, I took over the infantry. I jetted up and quickly placed a few Anti Tank Grenades in the side of Clay's Apollo. I then flew to blast his other light tank, and found his Thor waiting. My Infantry blasted at him, but Claytonious's armor was too thick. Soon, my brave and courageous squad was dead, but they had bought me the time I needed. Clay had none left, and though I was moving to stop his flanking maneuver from the north with my other contingency squad, time ran out. Due to the brave sacrifices of my men, we survived and held the objective.
Though this was a win for me, I'm sure Clay would have won given a few more minutes. I was at the end of the line, and the infantry were the last trick I had left. The final battle was truly hectic and amazing. Clay was truly a worthy opponent and I'm really amazed at how close both matches were. Perhaps even sixty seconds more on the last battle and Clay could be taking home the win.
Finally, I took both matches, with final scores of:
First Match: Phonan 1044 to Clay 91
Second Match: Phonan 813 to Clay 293.
In both matches, Claytonious's team made far more kills than mine, likely due to Clay's shooting skill and bot-wrangling ability. These were some of the first games in which I really even took marginal control of the bots, and I really needed that to make it through the matches. Very, very nice games, Clay. I hope to face you again sometime!
As to the tournament in general, it appears I will be up against Jung, as Redcon faces Nexus. I apologize for not doing even the most rudimentary of screen-captures; if not for Clay's shots, I'd have no idea what even the exact scores were! I'll be sure to capture some pictures next time, though. If I can find some free software that also doesn't slow down everything to a crawl, I'll grab video too, but that's a rather tall order.
In conclusion: Jung, I'll see you on House to House. And thank you very much for the spectacular games today, Claytonious!