Sunday, 24 July 2011

When battle reports go wrong...

You sometimes hear people talking about the battle reports in White Dwarf, and how they have to play the games multiple times in order to get a game worth talking about. I used to think this sounded like poor planning - surely there are plenty of games that are close enough to be worthy of a report. A decent match-up of players and armies should ensure you don't have too many blow-outs, right? Well...

This report was going to be for the benefit of those who like to see a more competitive game. Chris Cousens and Ben Leopold are both currently in the top 10 of the national rankings, and they were using tournament-strength armies. So far so good, right? Apparently not. After setting everything up and preparing for a game worth talking about, the wheels came off Chris' wagon early on and there was no recovering. Chris tells me his army is a bit hit-and-miss. If that is the case, this game definitely goes into the "miss" basket.

Chris will be banned from battle reports until he promises to put in a better showing than he did here. Shame, shame, shame...

I have included below the pictures we took, along with a bit of a run-down of how Chris got run down.

If I get my hands on the offending army lists, I will add them here. I believe a rough rundown is:

Doombull on magic carpet with charmed shield, 2+ armour save, sword of swift striking
Gorebull BSB with 4+ ward save, great weapon
Gorebull with 4+ ward save, great weapon
2 x 40 Ungor
2 Razorgor Chariots
2 Tuskgor Chariots
Chaos Spawn
2 x 5 Warhounds
2 x 5 Harpies
5 Ungor Skirmishers

EDIT: Here is the "true" list, as provided by Mr Cousens:
Doombull - Cape of Cowardice.

2 x Gorebulls - Shroud of Ignorance
2 x 37 Irrelevant Dudes
2 x 5 Stupid Dogs
3 x 5 Raiders of the Lost Game
2 x 5 Harpies
2 x every Chariot
What Ghorgon
Sooo, turns out I forgot a Ghorgon (easy to forget - he wasn't there for long) and some Ungor Raiders (2 units of those). The items I described were probably more accurate in game terms, however I feel Chris' description of them adequately reflects how the game went...

Grey Seer with 4+ ward save, Skalm
BSB with 4+ ward save, halberd
Warlock with Doomrocket
30 Plaguemonks with Plague Banner
30 Stormvermin
25 Clanrats
2 x 40 Slaves
20 Giant Rats
8 Gutter Runners
7 Gutter Runners
8 Jezzails
Hellpit Abomination
Warp Lightning Cannon

EDIT: Here we have Ben's summary of his list. I was close-ish. I missed a dispel scroll and sold the blocks of rats a little short...
Grey seer: scroll, skalm, preservation
Bsb: Hal, destiny
Warlock with nuke
30 clan: f/c shields
2x 40 Slavs:mus
34 stormvermin: f/c, under empire
17 giant rats with 2 masters
36 plague monks: f/c banner o death
8 sneaky assassins
7 not so sneaky assassins
Hell pit
8 sharpshooters (who didn't do much except not killing themselves)

The table is set up
The armies laid out. All good so far, right?
Like all of his units, Ben's Stormvermin seem to have found an over-sized movement tray. Obviously going for some sort of psychological edge. Or maybe they're compensating for something.

In the first turn, Chris' Warhounds charge straight into the Gutter Runners ("Why?" I hear you ask. I was asking the same thing...) They lose one on the way in to the Stand and Shoot...
The Beasties advance, with the Doombull and the Ghorgon side by side. The Ghorgon is the one with the tail.
Meeeat. Errm, sorry. Harpies.
The Hand of Doom descends, laden with sixes waiting to be rolled...
What Warhounds?
Chris begins to sense that things might be going wrong. Maybe. Or maybe he's trying to work out why he fed his Warhounds to the Gutter Runners. That was just mean. The RSPCA are onto you, Chris...
It is determined that the now-reformed Gutter Runners are within rolling range of the flank of the Harpies.
Despite the intimidating presence behind them, the remaining doggies can't help but wonder what Chris has in store for them...
The Gutter Runners scamper into the side of the Harpies, completing their less-than-challenging rampage through Chris' right flank
The Hellpit Abomination decides it needs more special rules, so wanders into the Venom Thicket to give itself Poison Attacks.
Chris watches the Skaven advance with a growing feeling of trepidation. Note that there is still a Ghorgon in this shot.
The Gutter Runners on the other flank decide that goading Warhounds is the order of the day, so they sidle up to taunt the surviving doggies. Note the absence of the Ghorgon, who fell in a hole in the magic phase (Crack's Call) and was never heard from again...
In an historic first, Ben fails to land on his declared target with the Doomrocket (the Doombull). Instead, it lands smack on top of the unfortunate Harpies. There was but one survivor.
The Warp Lightning Cannon starts to get ideas. As you would expect, it fired at Strength 10 straight through the Doombull. Also unsurprisingly, he failed his 2+ Charmed Shield roll. Then, in a display of rolling that shocked everyone, Ben failed to kill him - he only did 2 wounds.
In a grand display of Military Dominoes, the Harpies lose combat to the Gutter Runners by 1, flee through half the army, and panic a Tuskgor Chariot. This chariot then flees through and panics the other Tuskgor Chariot. The Gutter Runners just sit there and titter contentedly.
At the end of Turn 1, things are already starting to look a bit grim for the Beastmen.
The Harpies ended their flee move directly in the middle of the Beastman lines, completely screwing up Chris' charge declarations.
The Beastmen wait patiently as Chris agonises over how he's going to get out of this one...
At last, a plan emerges. The Harpy charges the Warp Lightning Cannon (and gets beaten down), the Doombull hurtles into the front of the main Plaguemonk unit, the Gorebull BSB declares a charge to support the Doombull, abandoning his entourage, and the other Gorebull follows suit, leaving the "easy meat" behind and charging alone into the Hellpit Abomination.
Chris tries to see a bright side in all of this, whilst Ben ponders what he's going to have for lunch.
The Doombull arrives in the front of the Plaguemonks. What happened to his BSB support? Oh right, he needed a 9, rolled a 3, and barely made it out of the front rank of the Ungor. Go it alone, Mr Doombull!
Hey, at least the Tuskgor Chariots rallied. And so did the Harpies, who caused all the trouble in the first place... The Chaos Spawn actually tried to charge the Gutter Runners, but the whole thing of Skirmishers compressing when charged meant the Spawn couldn't actually get into contact. If the Spawn knew what frustration was, it would have been frustrated.

The Gorebull and Hellpit Abomination do 2 wounds apiece, but the Abomination decides not to run away from the charge, due to its Stubbornness. Nearby, the Doombull squashed 3 ratties on the charge, then happily butchered the unit champion in a challenge. They also didn't flee.
Chris' 2nd turn comes to an end, meaning the other furry guys get another turn...

The Gutter Runners on the far side charged the Ungor Skirmishers nearby. They decided to flee rather than die there, and passed through the main body of the Beastman army. Despite the BSB frantically waving his banner, one of the large blocks of Ungor decided to leg it as well, running up onto the hill. Well Chris, at least you're consistent.
The cowardly Ungor land smack on a discarded template. Would have served them right if it actually did something to them.

The Gutter Runners get impatient with the Warhounds, who seem to have learnt from the mistakes of their brothers and did not charge. The Giant Rats pile into the Spawn...
...and the Slaves smack into the Razorgor Chariot.

In his magic phase, Ben cast Cloud of Corruption irresistibly. The Warhounds were wiped out and the Gorebull fighting the Abomination took another wound. No Skaven were harmed in the making of this spell. 6 Plaguemonks died as a result of the Grey Seer getting over-excited about his spell, but the Grey Seer himself emerged unscathed. The Doombull he was facing was wounded by the blast.
The Hellpit Abomination decided not to let the Gorebull attack again, and squished him comprehensively. Nobody was really surprised.
You know your opponent is showing your efforts contempt when the Skavenslaves start doing combat reforms into Horde formation.
The Doombull bellowed a challenge, which was accepted by the Grey Seer (whose faith in his 4+ ward saves is the stuff of legend). The Doombull then swiped ineffectually at his opponent (actually, the rat saved 3 out of 4 ward saves),  then stomped on him for a bonus wound. This was not enough and the huge beastie broke from combat, then rolled a miserable 4", despite having Swiftstride. Somehow he got away - maybe Ben was starting to feel guilty and decided to roll terribly for a change. If so, the Great Horned Rat will be having "words" with him about his weakness.
It's the end Turn 2, and it's really not looking great for Chris.
Bravely soldiering on, Chris declares that everything is charging everything. This unorthodox tactic may save his fortunes in the battle.
Unfortunately, even if Chris had been allowed to bypass the core rules of the game with his bizarre tactics, his Doombull decided not to rally, even with a reroll. At this point he decided that he was wasting everybody's time, and surrendered.
And so we were left with a complete blow-out, and something not worth presenting too carefully. Let this be a lesson to all those who think mad cows on flying carpets are a sure path to victory...


  1. Never send a bunny to do a man's job?

    Good report though regardless of the result. And I think that unless specifically staged and massaged to produce a result you're going to get what you get.

  2. I agree that games are not predictable enough that you can ever guarantee a good report. Still, if you ensure the players and armies are relatively balanced, hopefully the success rate won't be too bad...

  3. Shows how unbalanced Ben is, I guess. I mean, unbalanced in the head. Like, he's crazy.

  4. Oh, zing!

    With a burning comment like that, I'm sure we'll all agree that in the end you come out on top, Chris. Despite your embarrassing capitulation during the game...