Sunday, 9 February 2014

Cancon 2014 Aftermath: Part 1

It's now well over a week since Cancon was run and won, but I am only now getting around to writing up my usual post-tournament report. This was partly because I was still recovering from a long weekend of travel, gaming and not really enough sleep. It hasn't been helped by the apparent death of my normal computer. I think the hard drive caught the BUS only to RAM into your Mother(board)... I don't know what's wrong with it, other than it failing to boot makes me want to boot it somewhere. Ironic, eh?

EDIT: I am now posting this some 5 days after I wrote the stuff above, and nothing much has changed. Computer is still dead, and it's now 2 weeks since Cancon. As such, I thought I had better post what I had, rather than waiting until I had written up all 3 of my first day games. So, this post is only the first game. Sorry...

Anyway, these things aside I still have a report to write. Cancon is an epic 8 games over 3 days, so there is even more reporting to do than for most events. So I shall give up on my usual promise to try to keep things short (which seems to fail anyway) and just get on with things...

The army I entered had a theme of sorts, in that it had Flagellants. Lots of Flagellants. For all the people who kept trying to call them Fanatics over the course of the weekend, they are not called that. Fanatics are small, green, and whirly. My army was somewhat slanted as a result of all these Flagellants, and ended up with no shooting whatsoever. It did have some magic (included partly with the intent of trying to make the Flagellants more impressive), but its ranged prowess was limited. I shall repeat the list here, although I did discuss it a bit before.
My Empire army for Cancon.
  • Arch Lector on War Altar with Great Weapon, Heavy Armour, Shield, White Cloak of Ulric
  • Wizard Lord of the Light Order (Level 3) on Warhorse with Scroll of Shielding, Talisman of Endurance
  • Captain of the Empire with Battle Standard on Barded Steed with Full Plate Armour, Shield, Sword of Might, Dawn Stone
  • Battle Wizard of the Amber Order (Level 1) on Warhorse with Dragonbane Gem
  • 9 Knights of the Inner Circle with Lances, Standard, Musician, Banner of Swiftness
  • 10 Knightly Orders with Great Weapons, Standard, Musician
  • 5 Knightly Orders with Lances
  • 4 Demigryph Knights with Lances, Standard, Musician
  • 28 Flagellants
  • 25 Flagellants
  • Celestial Hurricanum
Total Army Cost: 2400
Final Swedish Score: 15.3

I have also discussed the use of Swedish comp for the tournament, and the impact it had on my list development (or rather, my lack of enthusiasm for developing a list). Suffice to say that you needed a pretty high comp score if you wanted to do well overall, and so people were going to be fielding some potentially compromised lists in order to achieve their ideal target of 16.0 on the Swedish scale.

I tried to ignore most of the lists people were discussing around me before the tournament, because I was pretty sure that most of the High Elf armies in the field were going to be a bit of a nightmare for my list, and I really just didn't want to know about it. Turns out there were only 17 High Elf armies in the draw, so I guess it could have been worse. The one army I did know about in advance (at least very roughly) was that Kholek Suneater would be making an appearance. My list (with 0 cannons) found this vaguely terrifying, but I figured that with 130 armies in the draw, the chances of me having to play that were basically zero.

Imagine my delight then when they announced the first round draw early, and I discovered I was playing Tim Stewart, with his army led by Kholek Suneater.... Bummer.

Round 1 – Dawn Attack
Tim Stewart, Warriors of Chaos
  • Kholek Suneater (booooo!)
  • Exalted Hero (BSB) of Tzeentch on Disc with Talisman of Preservation, Charmed Shield, Scaled Skin, Great Weapon
  • Chaos Sorcerer (Level 2, Lore of Fire) with Ruby Ring, Chaos Familiar
  • 24 Chaos Warriors of Tzeentch with Shields, Full Command, Banner of Swiftness
  • 11 Chaos Marauders with Standard Bearer
  • 11 Chaos Marauders with Standard Bearer
  • Gorebeast Chariot of Nurgle
  • Gorebeast Chariot of Nurgle
  • Dragon Ogre Shaggoth with Great Weapon
  • Dragon Ogre Shaggoth with Great Weapon
  • Chaos Spawn of Tzeentch
Ah, Kholek. We meet again.
OK, for all that I see Tim regularly, I had never actually gotten around to playing him in a game of Warhammer. So I was pleased to be doing that. It was a pity that it was to happen in a game where I didn't really have any answers. But it was OK, I did have a plan. The plan was to somehow get Kholek in combat with a monstrously buffed up unit of Flagellants, and roll like a fiend. The key would be Wyssan's Wildform, and probably Speed of Light or Birona's Timewarp. Between those things, with a Hurricanum, a good “martyr” roll, a strong tail wind and a decent run-up, maybe I could dent him. A little.

So I started by rolling neither Speed of Light, nor Timewarp. Awesome. I would have to make do with Pha's Protection, Banishment and Shem's Burning Gaze (I swapped off Net of Amyntok). So that was already undermining my plan of plans. Then my little Beast Wizard picked up his dice and rolled Amber Spear. I had already resolved that I would not take that spell, but play the numbers and swap for Wildform. But the dice gods were taunting me (as they seem to do on a regular basis), and I was torn by momentary weakness and indecision. In the end I rolled a 4+ for it and the dice assured me that keeping Amber Spear was the way of the future. And the dice would not lie. They never lie...

On the bright side, Tim rolled badly for his spells too. Of course, he was using the prince of the hobo Lores, the Lore of Fire. So it's really only got 2 or 3 decent spells anyway. Bah. Still, I was glad he didn't have Flamecage. So were my Flagellants.

I actually won the roll-off for table sides and chose one with a building and impassable terrain anchoring the flanks. Then we remembered that we were not playing Battleline, and it all started to go downhill. So the impassable terrain was right in front of the left flank deployment zone, and was going to cause grief if too many of my units went there. You can imagine how I rolled from that point on. 1,2,1,1,1,1...
You know something has gone wrong when you're deploying knights facing sideways.
My Demigryphs are so far away on the other flank that they look like they're on the other table. In fact we worked out that the table join was at the back of that hill, and the cloths were misleading. So I am not cheating. Totally not...
Anyway, in the end my deployment looked like this. My Demigryphs were all alone, hard on the far table edge because a bloody great house was blocking their path if they wanted to be more sensible. Everything else was cramped into the left corner, in a stupid formation as I tried to allow myself room to advance and get around the stupid terrain. Who was the idiot who put my deployment zone behind it? Oh, that's right. It was me...

Tim's deployment was more spread, and he even rolled some 6s and got to choose where some things went (such ostentatious luxury). I'd be lying if I said he had everything where he wanted it, but most of his army landed in the middle and he had enough on my right flank to challenge the Demigryphs.
Tim's deployment, with him Tweeting his disgust at my deployment "tactics" in the background. From left: the Spawn, Shaggoth (with Sorcerer in Marauders behind him), Gorebeast Chariot, Shaggoth, Kholek Suneater, more Marauders in the forest, then the Warriors (the BSB is right in front of them, behind the tree), and finally the other Gorebeast Chariot.
Tim had good fun at this point jumping on Twitter and calling me names for “castling” in the corner, despite my having had no say in the matter. He neglected to mention that bit. The irony that hiding like a scared little girl in the corner was actually a sensible approach to handling Kholek seemed to be lost on him.

I managed not to cough up the first turn, and spent my turn trying to move iinto a position from which I could attack if the opportunity presented itself. I did manage to Banish the Spawn off the table, so that was a small victory. Unfortunately nothing panicked as a result. Would have been nice to scare off the Sorcerer.
Trying to salvage something of a battle line from the ruin of my deployment.
Tim started cautiously, by which I mean Kholek and his Shaggoth mate ran straight into the centre of the field, mocking everything in my list in a slightly unsporting manner. He probably called my guys names as well – I don't remember. The BSB flew his Disc out of the arc of my Demigryphs, and sat cagily back with the other stuff on that flank. Kholek and the Sorcerer between them did some damage to the Hurricanum (I think they left it on 1 wound).
The BSB skirts the flank of the Demigryphs whilst the other important stuff hangs back. The Marauders stride manfully forward, knowing that the Flee! charge reaction is their friend.
There's a Shaggoth in the wings, saying scary things...
Nothing really bad had happened yet, but then Kholek had not yet charged into my army and killed everyone. In my desperation, I came up with a new plan. I planted my main Inner Circle Knight unit (including BSB) right up in front of Kholek and the Shaggoth, immediately behind a hedge. I also cast Pha's Protection on pretty much everything on that flank, meaning the Knights would be -2 to hit if the big guys charged in. It would slow them down, and if they rolled badly I might even beat them for a round and the BSB was flying around elsewhere. Not the best plan, but a plan nonetheless.
We've totally got this. Totally. Nothing to worry about.
My White Wolf Knights manage to do something proactive, and charge the Shaggoth. There were 10 when I declared the charge. Then 8 when they made contact (they're standing on a hedge, which we moved away for convenience).
My White Wolf Knights decided not to die wondering, and charged over another hedge to reach the other Shaggoth. 2 of my Knights died to the brutality of the hedge, but then I only lost 1 to the slightly inept Shaggoth. That was good, and I think my guys even did 4 wounds in return. Although that seems like a lot. Maybe it was less and he took some more later. Anyway, the Shaggoth broke and fled, but managed to outrun my guys despite not having swiftstride. Slightly disappointing. My unit carried on into the Sorcerer's unit of Marauders, but not before losing another of their number to the Hedge of Knightly Doom. 3 times as dangerous as a Shaggoth, that hedge. And I'm pretty sure it was holding back, too.
The White Wolves allow the Shaggoth to escape, and show their flank to the Gorebeast Chariot as they carry on into the Marauders.
My front lines at the end of the turn.
On the other flank I tried for a moderate charge with the Demigryphs onto the Gorebeast Chariot, seeing a way to break through the lines and cause trouble. I failed the charge and my unit staggered forward invitingly with everything on that flank eyeing them off. Not really what I had in mind.

My Demigryphs were still congratulating themselves on their well-botched charge when they were themselves charged by the Gorebeast Chariot whilst the Disc-riding BSB hit them in the flank. It was going moderately OK with 2 wounds a side until the BSB opened up with his 4 Strength 7 attacks, and I made 0 of my 5+ saves. Top stuff. That meant the unit lost (in rapid succession) 2 models, the combat, their steadfast, and their will to live. I don't think the enemy even bothered to pursue them as they very obligingly turned and fled straight off the side of the table. Boo yeah!
Things are not quite going according to plan. Oh well, at least we should be steadfast...
Oh dear. No right flank for me.
On the other side of the table, things were not really going much better. My Knights defending the hedge were indeed charged by Kholek. Unfortunately they promptly forgot the game plan, failed their terror test (Ld 9 with a re-roll) and came within half an inch of leaving the table after fleeing through my lines as they moved around they wrapped around the left flank. I guess that meant we were onto Plan B (or whatever letter we were up to at this point).
Cowardice! Cowardice of the worst sort, with my BSB leading the way. We had a plan, guys... You can just about see Kholek looking smug in the distant background.
That table edge is a little close for comfort.
With the Knights gone, Kholek redirected onto my small Knight unit containing my Wizards, who also fled and managed to escape. The Shaggoth next to Kholek joined the second Gorebeast Chariot in mounting a rescue mission for the Sorcerer and his Marauders. They both arrived in the flank and reduced my unit to 2 models. Amusingly I did enough damage in return that a decent break test roll kept me in place, but the unit was doomed in the following round and quickly mopped up.
The White Wolves cop more of a flank charge than they might have hoped, but still manage to hold.
In my turn both fleeing Knights (and my BSB and both Wizards) managed to rally, and I even managed to knock 4 wounds off Kholek with a boosted Amber Spear! This was pleasing, although it was about the sum total of my turn as the Flagellants were still trying to get into position.
My lines are a shambles, but at least my fleeing stuff all rallied where it was.
With my remaining White Wolf Knights dying in my combat phase, Tim was free to charge the Gorebeast Chariot into the Knights guarding my Wizards. I think a Shaggoth and Kholek both tried to join in (after my Arch Lector on his War Altar decided to flee from Kholek's initial charge), but they failed to make the distance. I lost a couple of Knights in the combat, but was still steadfast so it was sort of under control.
The Gorebeast Chariot fails to break through my mage bunker, whilst the crippled Shaggoth looks on and offers encouragement.
Kholek continues to advance and cause me trouble. My War Altar is fleeing behind those Flagellants.
An example of one of my glorious dispel rolls, I think. I don't really remember what this one was for.
In my turn I sent some Flagellants in to try to rescue the Wizards, and managed to break the Chariot on the charge. The Flagellants pursued (not like they had a choice), but failed to roll the 5” they needed to collect the wounded Shaggoth lurking behind. It was living a charmed life, having eluded the Knights earlier. Nor did they catch the Chariot. That was disappointing. 
Flagellants to the rescue! Doom, and all that.
The Flagellants were rewarded for their ineptitude by being flank charged by a second (much healthier) Shaggoth, the BSB (who had flown over by now from the other end of the table), and Kholek himself. Things then got weird when Tim cast boosted Flamestorm at the other unit of Flagellants, only to scatter it 10” onto the back rank of the engaged ones. I lost 4 models to the spell, then the remainder of the back rank gleefully sacrificed themselves before any blows were struck... And suddenly Kholek wasn't in the combat any more. His allies unsurprisingly did a number on the Flagellants, but being unbreakable, they didn't really care. And Kholek was left stranded and unengaged.
The Flagellants get slightly flanked.
Kholek misses out on the fight and finds himself unengaged.
I continued to demonstrate my mastery of Warhammer by failing to rally my War Altar (again, Ld 9 with a re-roll) and watched it drive nobly off the table. Meh, army generals. Who needs them? I then did my best to enact Plan G (give or take a few letters) and moved by BSB to block the advance of the crippled Shaggoth, who was looking hungrily at my Wizards. That was fine, because my Beast Wizard in particular was looking hungrily at Kholek in return. This may have been the turn when I rolled my biggest magic phase of the game (6 dice), and very sensibly threw them all at boosted Amber Spear. The resulting miscast vaporised the remainder of the Wizards' bodyguard unit of Knights, but it meant I had cast the spell irresistibly, so it was certainly worth it. Kholek only had 4 wounds left... And I rolled a 3. So he was still alive, on a single wound. Argh!
You shall not pass!
Oops, those Knights were our only protection. Was almost worth it...
Amusingly I still had a couple of Flagellants left holding the Shaggoth and BSB in combat for another turn, so Tim didn't actually do all that much. Kholek went and hid behind the combat (for all that it was about to be over). The unengaged Shaggoth decided he didn't fancy a tangle with my Strength 5 BSB when he only had a single wound left as well, so stayed where he was. The turn was going sort of OK until Tim cast a mid-level Fireball at the Wizards, I messed up my dispel roll, and he rolled 12 hits on the 2 dice. And then I suddenly had no magic left, and no way of picking off the crippled enemy beasties. That was disappointing. At some point (possibly the previous turn) Tim also removed my badly-wounded Hurricanum with an irresistible blast from the Ruby Ring. Such potent fiery magicks he had.
My Knights look to avoid the battle and move to safety.
Kholek also scuttles for cover, on one wound.
I was running out of things to try by this point, so I charged my BSB into the Shaggoth right in front of him. As you can imagine I completely air-swung, and got clobbered from my saddle in return. It's how the pros do it.
My Flagellants go through the enemy BSB, but their overrun is blocked by Chaos Warriors. Couldn't quite get to Kholek. Alas.
On the bright side, my remaining Flagellant unit charged into the BSB and beat him down in a manly fashion before ending the game in combat with the Chaos Warriors, who had marched all the way across the table to finally see combat in turn 6. The Gorebeast Chariot also went in, but it was not enough. Kholek himself wanted to charge (he failed his frenzy test, having zapped himself with lightning earlier in the game), but Tim unsportingly blocked his charge with another Shaggoth to ensure he didn't sacrifie himself (and his 640 victory points) on the altar of my Flagellants. Disappointing, but probably sensible. It could have been the end of him.

By the end of the game I had a handful of Flagellants left of that unit, and a couple of Inner Circle Knights who had been carefully avoiding combat and running for the hills once they got too badly depleted by Kholek's lightning. In return, I had the points for the enemy BSB and a Chaos Spawn.

Oh yeah. A mighty impressive start to the tournament. To be honest I couldn't have done things very differently. Deployment was a disaster, my rolling for magic phases was abysmal, and it seemed that nothing in my army actually wanted to be there. Ah, 1 more wound on Kholek and at least the margin wouldn't have been so severe. Oh well.

Result: 2-18 (3.1-16.9 after comp)

Stay tuned for our next installment, which will hopefully be shorter than this one. And quicker to post. Hey we can hope, right?


  1. Good report! Bad luck, sounds like one of those games...

  2. Brutal game. Your sarcasm made me laugh and keeps us empire generals
    from getting mad when kholek is surviving on one wound and hedges kill knights in droves :)

    1. One-sidedly brutal, unfortunately. It was not a great match-up for me, but it could still have gone better. At least Amber Spear tried to carry me through it.