Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Axemaster 2014 – Part 3

This post is a continuation of my account of the recent tournament, Axemaster 2014. You can find the previous part of the report here.

Game 3
Steve Tuck, Ogre Kingdoms
  • Tyrant with Armour of Protection, Great Weapon
  • Slaughtermaster (Level 4, Lore of the Great Maw) with Talisman of Preservation, Dispel Scroll
  • Bruiser BSB with Armour of Silvered Steel, Great Weapon
  • Butcher (Level 1, Lore of Beasts) with Hellheart
  • 8 Ironguts with Full Command
  • 9 Ogres with Full Command, Light Armour, Ironfists
  • 10 Leadbelchers with Musician, Champion
  • 10 Gnoblars
  • 10 Gnoblars
  • 1 Sabretusk
  • 1 Sabretusk
  • Ironblaster
  • Ironblaster
Comp Score: 2

From an Ogre army with no Ironblasters to one with a pair of them, Steve's list represented much of what my Griffons had been hoping (admittedly optimistically) to avoid. This game was particularly notable as I think it contained the only roll-off I lost for the tournament (Steve won the roll-off to choose the deployment rules despite my +2 modifier, and went for Battle for the Pass).
So I'm completely done deploying, and he's put down what? Anything..?

With 2 Sabretusks and 2 units of Gnoblars, I had basically finished deploying before Steve put anything meaningful down. I was a little torn about how to approach things, as the wall of 10 Leadbelchers was almost as much of a concern for my big birdies as the Ironblasters. In the end I put each one wide in the deployment zone, gave them each some cover in case Steve stole the first turn from me, and basically just decided to play aggressively and hope for the best. I had rolled (and kept) Amber Spear on my Beast Wizard, so I could only hope to do some damage to the Ironblasters before they obliterated my beautiful birdies...
Here is my deployment. One Griffon is hiding behind a building, whilst the other is trusting Demigryphs to try to catch cannon balls.
The Ogre deployment with the big unit of Leadbelchers in the centre.
Steve's dynamically posed Rhinogre Tyrant
I'm told this is what happens to Ironblasters when you leave the Gnoblars in charge.
The centre of Steve's lines was dominated by the large regiment of Leadbelchers, with the Tyrant and Slaughtermaster at their head. The other characters hung back in the unit of normal Ogres, with the Ironguts sitting forward next to the Leadbelchers.
After the Empire 1st turn. Advancing responsibly.
I got the first turn as expected, and moved up fairly aggressively. I kept my general's Griffon behind the screen of Demigryphs, but the one on my right flank had to move out of cover in order to be in a position to contribute. But he had the Ironcurse Icon. He'd be fine, right? The Steam Tank took a shot at one of the Ironblasters and hit it, but only did 4 wounds. So close to dead, but still at full effectiveness for when it shot back. Amber Spear was out of range of either Ironblaster (stupid deep deployment zones) but I threw it at a Sabretusk instead to try to clear the chaff and maybe sow some panic. Unfortunately Steve was attached to his Sabretusk and dispelled it.
Sooo many Leadbelchers...
Sooo many shooty dice
The Ogres responded to my advance by backing up a bit in the centre. One of the Sabretusks made a nuisance of itself by blocking the advance of the Demigryphs. The Ironblasters pootled around the back of Steve's lines before one of them turned and fired at my exposed Griffon on the right flank, killing both monster and rider. Apparently the Ironcurse Icon is not entirely reliable protection. The other fired at the Steam Tank and did a couple of wounds. The Leadbelchers opened up on my Knights in the centre and killed a couple of them.
My remaining Griffon attacks the house full of Gnoblars.
In my turn the Demigryphs charged and killed the Sabretusk right in front of them. My Pegasus BSB tried to roll a 10 to make it over the building full of Gnoblars and into the flank of the nearest Ironblaster, but even with Swift as the Winds, he fell well short. The remaining Griffon swept forward and attacked the Gnoblars as they cowered in their house, however 2 of them survived and managed to shoo their assailant away. The Steam Tank wounded itself as it tried to fire at the wounded Ironblaster, and Steve managed to stop the Amber Spear aimed at the other one. It was not going all that well...
Pushed back, but it's hard for cannons to shoot him there.
Just after the end of Empire turn 2.
Steve's Gnoblars launch a glorious assault upon my Steam Tank.
The Ogres start to press forward as they continue to shoot.
In Steve's turn the Gnoblars on my right flank got all feisty and charged the Steam Tank, looking to hold it up for a while. The second Sabretusk rushed up to take the place of its friend in front of the Demigryphs. Stupid Sabretusks. The Leadbelchers moved up to get the front rank into short range of my Knights and fired again, killing a rank of them (the Slaughtermaster may have accounted for a couple of those with the Bonecruncher spell). Steve also bolstered the Leadbelchers and their characters with Wyssan's Wildform, making them a pretty intimidating prospect as my depleted Knights approached them. The Ironblasters both fired at something, but I don't recall what - I know one misfired and missed a turn of shooting, but the other must have failed to wound its target.

In my turn I had a decision to make. I was within range of the Leadbelchers, but my Knights were down to 8 models, the unit contained 2 characters with great weapons, and Wildform was boosting the whole unit. In the end I decided that backing off with the Knights wouldn't save them, and this was my best chance to swing things in my favour. I charged into the flank of the unit with the Griffon and Pegasus BSB, whilst the Knights went straight into the front, managing to contact both the Tyrant and Slaughtermaster (preventing them from using Make Way to go and cause my flanking forces issues).
Things really start to happen in the middle.
The gamble. If this one goes south, I won't have much of an army left.
Stupid Sabretusks. Get dead. Note my Beast Wizard and Archers, moving up to get into my own way.
The Steam Tank ground Gnoblars beneath its wheels before opening up with the steam turret and wiping them out. The Demigryphs charged the second Sabretusk and killed it, however here I found I had caused myself a problem. In order to get my Beast Wizard in range of the nearest Ironblaster (which had been moving backwards going "pew pew"), I had to move him and his escort of Archers right up behind the Demigryphs. This meant they were unable to reform in any meaningful way when the Sabretusk was gone, which hindered my ability to position them for the following turn. It was a silly mistake, and probably one I could have avoided with better planning.

On the bright side, the annoying positioning of the Beast Wizard was not in vain. On his third attempt he finally managed to get Amber Spear through Steve's magical defences, and shot off the unwounded Ironblaster with a single throw! Huzzah!

Amber Spear was not my only effort in that magic phase, however. I had rolled up a big phase with 11 power dice, and figured this was my best chance to swing the pivotal combat with the Leadbelchers. I started by throwing 6 dice at a boosted version of Speed of Light, and rolled so abysmally that I didn't even make the casting value (I needed a 14 on the dice). This meant my Knights, Griffon and Pegasus would not benefit, and because the Light Wizard had goofed up, I also could not cast Birona's Timewarp (which would also have hit them all). Amber Spear was a consolation prize, and it's surprising I got it through (it might have been irresistible).
Things start dying in the centre.
With no spells supporting them, I expected my units to fail in the main combat. I was pleasantly surprised then when my forces killed 4 Leadbelchers outright with the Griffon going slightly berserk and my Knights fighting bravely. Luthor Huss hulked out again for +2 to his stats, but he was still dragged down by the Tyrant who could only reach him. I was particularly fortunate that the Slaughtermaster air-swung with all of his attacks, and in total I only lost 2 Knights alongside Luthor. I had done at least 8 more wounds than Steve, and critically I had exactly 5 Knights left - exactly the number I needed to cancel Steadfast. The Ogres were testing on Insane Courage, and they didn't make it. Instead they turned to run and were pulled down by my pursuing units, despite one of my Knights riding into a palm tree on the way through.
I do just enough damage to knock off the second rank of Ogres, and they do just enough damage not to reduce me to below 5 models.
The Leadbelchers break and are run down, and my pursuing units are out of the arc of the Ogre regiment nearby.
Well that was a massive swing. In a single turn I'd cleaned up the main unit in the army, both Lord-level characters and one of the Ironblasters. Suddenly I was winning!

Steve was reeling slightly from this sudden turn of events, and in an effort to reclaim some of the lost ground, his wounded Ironblaster charged into the 4 Knights who were just emerging from the palm trees, giddy with excitement over their unexpected triumph. With what happened the previous turn, we should have seen what was coming. The Ironblaster did a moderate number of impact hits which the Knights completely shrugged off, then was felled by their return attacks (despite me needing 6s to wound). Admittedly it was coming into the combat with only one wound left, but it was still pretty lucky for me. The Knights reformed to look at the rear of the remaining Ogre units.
The remaining Ogres advance. You can see the doomed charged of the Ironblaster in the background.
I moved a detachment into a building in case Steve had chosen the "hold more buildings" extra mission (they were worth 100 bonus VPs, and Steve still had 2 Gnoblars in the other building)
The main Ogre block led by the BSB and Butcher had advanced into the gap in the centre where the Leadbelchers had been, but the Ironguts had tried to charge the Steam Tank. I don't remember what they needed to roll, but it wasn't a lot and they failed. The Butcher was the only one to do something right that turn, casting Curse of Anraheir upon the Tank to dissuade it from charging the stumbling Ironguts.
The Ironguts fail the charge, and Steve casts Curse of Anraheir on the Steam Tank in case it gets any ideas.
Dangerous terrain does not concern me, general
In my turn I considered the Steam Tank's situation for a while before deciding that I would not be put off by dangerous terrain (no matter how dangerous), and poured on maximum speed before ploughing into the Ironguts. I was rewarded for my mindless aggression by passing the terrain test, and 3 Ironguts were crushed in the ensuing collision. I took no damage in return, thanks partly to my casting Speed of Light on the Tank to try to protect it (apparently that, combined with dreadful rolling on Steve's part, was a sound plan).
The Empire forces start to encircle the Ogres.
My other decision was around how impatient and lucky I felt. I had managed to reform the Demigryphs into a position where they could see the Ogre unit, but there was a slight hitch - the Beast Wizard and his Archer friends were in the way. They would have to charge the remaining 2 Gnoblars in their building, needing to roll an 8 on the dice to clear a path for the Demigryphs. In the end I decided against this plan, and played the long game, shifting the Demigryphs and Halberdiers into a position to receive a long charge from the Ogres, and to flank them should they get bogged against either unit. I also cast Birona's Timewarp on the Halberdiers, because they were the easier target.

I should mention that I think it was in this turn that Steve's Butcher used his Hellheart, and rolled a 1 for the distance, meaning it had no effect. He probably needed a 3. Just one of those games, I guess.
The Demigryphs brace for impact in a combat that could go either way, as the Ogres try to break out of the trap.
Steve didn't like the look of the Demigryphs, but by the time he factored in Timewarp on the Halberdiers and the fact that the Demigryphs were closer, he decided he had to charge them. He made the roll, and in a display of things actually going right for him for a change, forced through Wyssan's Wildform on his unit. That was bad. I figured the combat was quite acceptable until this sudden boost. In the end I got spanked in the combat. I rolled poorly, the Ogres rolled pretty well, I lost 2 Demigryphs and the combat as a whole by a ton. The standard bearer died as I fled, however the 2 remaining Demigryphs narrowly out-paced the pursuing Ogres which helped. Unfortunately the Ogres' pursuit roll was enough to get them out of the arc of the Halberdiers, or their celebrations would have been short-lived.
Ow, that hurt.
The Ogres are getting away...
In my turn I sent in reinforcements to aid the Steam Tank, which was still tryring to shrug off the Ironguts (it was down to 2 wounds). The Griffon and Pegasus charged them in the rear, whilst the Knights hit them in the flank. It may have been overkill, but I wanted to make sure I saved the Tank. The combat was suitably one-sided and what little was left of the unit was caught as it attempted to flee.
Reinforcements arrive, using overwhelming force to save the Steam Tank.
The Demigryphs apparently don't know what's good for them, and rally to face another charge.
On the other side, the Demigryphs bravely rallied immediately in front of the Ogres. There was nothing I could do to stop the Ogres charging them again, but I came up with one optimistic plan. The Beast Wizard was sitting in the flank arc of the Ogres, and cast another boosted Amber Spear into the unit. One Ogre died, then another, then another and another. Somehow he had cleaned up a third of the unit with a single attempt! That Wizard had a pretty serious throwing arm on him! Sadly the ogres passed their panic test, which was the whole point of the exercise. The Demigryphs were still in trouble.
The Ogres go in again to finish the job.
I say they were in trouble, but in truth the following combat was much closer than either of us expected. Steve cast Curse of Anraheir on the unit to make it harder for them to hit, but with slightly fewer Ogres arrayed against them and no Wildform in play, my unit suddenly fired right up. They took almost no damage and did more wounds than the Ogres did, but in the end they lost because of a couple of banners and failed their Ld 6 test. This time there was no escape.
Once more, with feeling!
We had a single turn left each, and with Steve's unit facing the table edge, that really meant that there was only one thing left to do. The Beast Wizard ran out of his unit, stopping next to the flank of the Ogres once more. Limbering up his throwing arm, nobody was in any doubt as to what was coming next. Sadly the Butcher must have seen his warm-up, because he managed to dispel the boosted Amber Spear despite me rolling quite high to cast it. And with that, the game was over.

It had been a dramatic game with a couple of major swings. Early on I thought I was done for, and then suddenly it looked like I was going to wipe Steve's army out. The heroic last stand of the Ogre unit had helped to salvage some respectability for their side, but it was still a pretty solid win for me.

Result: 16-4

We had now reached the end of the first day, and somewhat hilariously I found myself (and my 2 glorious birdies) tied for the lead on 50 out of 60 battle points. This was clearly unsustainable – I expected reality to reassert itself in the morning.


  1. Exciting report, well done on the win. I like this new style of posting one tournament report at a time - even if it does mean a longer wait for them :-)

    Are the 'extra missions' you mentioned the same kind of thing as the 'boasts' from Rumble In The Bronx?

    1. I realised that my reports had gotten so long (and often with so many photos) that it was ridiculous to include more than one at a time. Hence breaking them up. It also lets me post them as they're ready, rather than delaying them until the whole group is done.

      Yes, the extra missions were very similar to those at Rumble, but they were not half so important in terms of scores. In the original SCGT they were used as tie-breakers (as they were using W/D/L instead of a 20-0 system). Here they could just get you 100 bonus points. You got another 100 if you broke your opponent using the Blood and Glory fortitude rules during the game.