Thursday, 14 January 2016

Shattered Dreams and Hopes Lost

My last post described the rules we would be using for a moderately large game last weekend. The intent was to try to break the pattern that we commonly see in multiplayer games, when the larger game turns into several smaller parallel one-on-one games with little interaction between them. Well we tried things out, and this is how they went.

This was never intended to be a really fancy report and I was playing at the same time as taking pictures, so the presentation is not all it could have been (some of the photos are really blurry). Oh well.

We played with about 17,000 points per side, with each player commanding a little over 6,000 points. It was all kind of thrown together with the models that I already had at my place, so the composition of the armies might not have been all that it could have been.

High Elves (Empire West)

  • Prince on Star Dragon with Shield; Armour of Destiny; Star Lance
  • Teclis (Lore of High Magic)
  • Archmage (Level 4, Lore of Death)
  • Annointed of Asuryan
  • Noble with Battle Standard; Halberd; Armour of Caledor
  • 50 First Spearmen with Full Command
  • 40 Lothern Seaguard with Full Command
  • 15 Silver Helms with Shields; Full Command
  • 12 Archers with Standard; Musician
  • 12 Archers with Standard; Musician
  • 15 Dragon Princes of Caledor with Full Command
  • 40 Swordmasters of Hoeth with Full Command; Razor Standard
  • 30 White Lions of Chrace with Full Command; Gleaming Pendant
  • 40 Phoenix Guard with Full Command
  • Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower
  • Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower
  • Frostheart Phoenix

Empire Centre

  • General on Imperial Griffon with Great Weapon; Full Plate Armor; Talisman of Endurance; Dragonhelm
  • Balthasar Gelt
  • Wizard Lord (Level 4, Lore of Life)
  • Captain with Battle Standard; Barded Warhorse; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Sword of Might; Dawn Stone
  • Warrior Priest with Great Weapon; Heavy Armour
  • 30 Knightly Orders with Great Weapons; Full Command
  • 16 Reiksguard Knights with Full Command; Banner of Swiftness
  • 60 Greatswords with Full Command
  • 60 Halberdiers with Full Command
  • 40 Swordsmen with Full Command
  • 5 Demigryph Knights with Full Command
  • 20 Handgunners with Standard; Musician
  • Great Cannon
  • Helblaster Volley Gun
  • Celestial Hurricanum
  • Steam Tank

Empire East

  • Arch Lector on War Altar with Armour of Destiny; Mace of Helstrum
  • General on Imperial Griffon with Great Weapon; Full Plate Armor; White Cloak of Ulric
  • Wizard Lord (Level 4, Lore of Heavens)
  • Wizard Lord (Level 4, Lore of Light)
  • Captain with Battle Standard; Barded Warhorse; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Opal Amulet; Sword of Anti-Heroes
  • Warrior Priest with Great Weapon; Heavy Armour
  • Master Engineer
  • 30 Knights of the Inner Circle with Full Command; Steel Standard
  • 30 Knightly Orders with Full Command
  • 60 Flagellants
  • 60 Halberdiers with Full Command
  • 60 Halberdiers with Full Command
  • 40 Spearmen with Full Command
  • 20 Handgunners with Standard; Musician
  • 16 Crossbowmen with Standard; Musician
  • 16 Crossbowmen with Standard; Musician
  • 5 Demigryph Knights with Full Command
  • 40 Greatswords with Full Command
  • 5 Outriders with Sharpshooter
  • Great Cannon
  • Great Cannon
  • Helblaster Volley Gun

Chaos West

  • Daemon Prince of Khorne with Chaos Armour; Daemonic Flight; Exalted Gift (+3 Strength)
  • Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury with Greater Gift (+2 Strength?); Greater Gift (+1 Toughness)
  • Keeper of Secrets (Level 4, Lore of Slaanesh) with Greater Gift (+2 Attacks); Greater Gift (something)
  • Herald of Slaanesh with Battle Standard; Greater Locus of Swiftness; Greater Gift (2+ Armour)
  • Herald of Nurgle with Lesser Locus of Virulence; Greater Gift (Fencer's Blades)
  • Karanak
  • 30 Daemonettes of Slaanesh with Full Command
  • 20 Bloodletters of Khorne with Full Command
  • 40 Plaguebearers of Nurgle with Full Command
  • 10 Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
  • 6 Beasts of Nurgle
  • 6 Fiends of Slaanesh
  • 23 Flesh Hounds of Khorne
  • 4 Bloodcrushers of Khorne
  • 5 Seekers of Slaanesh
  • Soul Grinder of Slaanesh with Daemonbone Claw; Phlegm Bombardment

Chaos Centre

  • Belakor 
  • Chaos Lord of Tzeentch on Daemonic Mount with Barding; Shield; Hellfire Sword; Talisman of Endurance
  • Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch (Level 4, Lore of Fire (yes I know)) on Disc of Tzeentch with Talisman of Preservation, Sword of Anti-Heroes, Scaled Skin
  • Exalted Hero of Tzeentch with Battle Standard; Shield; Barded Chaos Steed; Dawn Stone; Sword of Might
  • 30 Chaos Warriors of Tzeentch with Halberds; Shields; Full Command
  • 20 Chaos Warriors of Khorne with Shields; Full Command
  • 25 Chaos Warriors with Halberds; Full Command
  • 40 Chaos Marauders of Slaanesh with Flails; Full Command
  • 20 Chaos Knights of Tzeentch with Ensorcelled Weapons; Full Command
  • 12 Chaos Knights with Ensorcelled Weapons; Full Command
  • 8 Dragon Ogres with Great Weapons; Light Armour
  • Hellcannon

Chaos East

  • Galrauch, The Great Drake
  • Great Bray-Shaman (Level 4, Lore of Beasts)
  • Wargor with Battle Standard; Great Weapon; Trollhide Armour
  • 50 Chaos Warriors of Slaanesh with Halberds; Full Command; Banner of Swiftness
  • 40 Gor Herd  with 2ndWeapon; Full Command
  • 3 Chaos Chariots (operating as a single regiment to keep things tidy)
  • 28 Chosen with Great Weapons; Shields; Full Command
  • 10 Chaos Ogres of Slaanesh with Great Weapons; Heavy Armour; Full Command
  • 1 Doombull with Great Weapon; Armour of Destiny; Gnarled Hide
  • 11 Minotaurs  with Great Weapons; Light Armour; Full Command
  • Dragon Ogre Shaggoth with Great Weapon; Light Armour
  • Dragon Ogre Shaggoth with Great Weapon; Light Armour
  • 10 Chaos Knights of Slaanesh with Lances; Full Command

There was some debate over how best to handle deployment. In the end it was a roll-off. The losing side had to deploy one of its 3 contingents first. Then the winning side had to deploy 2 of theirs, then the losing side had to deploy both of their remaining contingents before the winners placed their 1 remaining force. In this case the Empire won the roll-off, so the last thing deployed was the Empire centre (me).
The forces lined up along the table. The circles show the area of the rifts if they are opened (control comes from unengaged units standing on the marker in the centre at the start of their turn).
The Chaos east flank, being a mix of Warriors and Beasts commanded by Galrauch the Conflicted, most confused of the Chaos Dragons. The regiment hanging off the hill is 50 Slaanesh Warriors with Halberds and the Banner of Swiftness.
There is Galrauch himself, chillaxing behind a tree. And a convenient double row of Ogres who have been supplied with catcher's mitts and are under instructions to catch any cannon balls.
This is over the other end, where the Chaos centre meets the western flank (which was populated entirely by Daemons, including the Soulgrinder).
We bent the rules and allowed Karanak to lead his posse of 24 Flesh Hounds onto the field normally, rather than having to ambush.
The western flank of the Empire force was held by a High Elf contingent, led by Teclis.
The centre was commanded by a Griffon-mounted Empire General.
The deployment zones in the centre section were closer together, and each started in possession of a rift.
Another snap of the Empire centre.
Those blurry things are the troops on the Empire east flank. This included the "religious" contingent, as the commander was an Arch Lector on War Altar, and he had brought with him 60 Flagellants.
The view from above the Empire west flank. Tim had some difficulty deploying everything.
The game started with both sides rolling off for the first turn. Every player rolled a dice. The Empire roll was abysmal - all 3 players combined barely beat the first Chaos player's roll. Chaos took the first turn, and away we went.

Chaos Turn 1
Nick didn't like the look of the Steam Tank at the front of the lines and charged straight into it. His actual plan was to cast a Shadow spell and swap Belakor out with a Chaos Lord with the Hellfire Sword, which would have made very short work of the Tank. But despite being on a Daemon Steed, the Lord was still not a monster so the rules don't work like that. Belakor would have to do the job alone. His efforts to lower the Steam Tank's Toughness were dispelled, but eventually he settled for dropping it to Strength 4. Belakor did a single wound in the first round of combat.
Chaos forces advancing.
The Chaos Ogres' merciless advance through the forest claims several trees. The ruinous powers have no respect for plant life.
The aforementioned Chaos Lord who was meant to be swapping places with Belakor. He settled for parking himself right in front of the Demigryphs instead, waving his horrifying sword around menacingly.
The Slaanesh Warriors made it almost far enough forward to claim the rift. Sitting next to them is a unit of a dozen Minotaurs led by a Doom Bull. Fun times.
The Daemons made a relatively cautious advance. The Beasts of Nurgle galloped onto the rift marker, daring the Elves to try to shift them...
The one really notable thing in the first turn (apart from Belakor's antics) was Galrauch casting Treason of Tzeentch on a large Empire Knight regiment including the central Battle Standard. Then they fired the Hellcannon into the unit, which was also within range of Belakor's leadership-sapping aura. So the unit got a single panic test (without re-rolls) on Ld 6 or they would be straight off the table. This was very bad. Fortunately I have mad skills and passed the test easily. Not even a problem. Not sure what all the fuss was about. And then I was able to start breathing again...

Elfy Empire Turn 1
Then it was the Empire and Elf first turn.
The Beasts of Nurgle had invited the Elves to do their worst. They needed to be dislodged from the rift ASAP. Pete charged at them with a Star Dragon, Frostheart Phoenix and 2 large regiments of elite Elves. Unfortunately the infantry all failed, leaving the monsters to handle the situation alone. Apparently the 2 models really didn't sit next to each other nicely, hence the Phoenix leaving its base behind and belly-flopping into the enemy instead. Anyway, this charge didn't go very well. Beasts of Nurgle are outrageously difficult to kill. They actually won the combat, but nobody fled.
The Silver Helms decided it would be better to charge the Bloodcrushers than to be charged by them, which was very sensible. They left one alive after the round of combat.
Looking along the somewhat blurry battlefield.
Wow. Action shot. And you thought the photo above was bad. Anyway, the Dragon Princes went into the Fiends.
Belakor was punished for his insolence by being flanked by the Reiksguard and charged by the Celestial Hurricanum. Combined with a single wound inflicted by the weakened Steam Tank as it tried to grind over him, the combined efforts of the Empire forces were just enough to kill the tricksy Daemon Prince.
Apparently Tim didn't like the idea of 50 Chaos Warriors camped on the rift marker, and charged them with 30 Inner Circle Knights enhanced by Harmonic Convergence. It was ugly. Despite having a 20 model head-start the Warriors lost steadfast and were obliterated. The Knights carried on into the Beastmen behind.
I don't know what's going on here. I think the Outriders might have been in the way of the Knights, and so they didn't charge - just moved up in front of the Shaggoth.
The Greatswords were going to charge the Ogres, but they turned tail and fled. So instead they picked on possibly the easiest target in the entire Chaos army - a regiment of 20 Khorne Warriors with hand weapons and shields, of all things.
The centre of the field during the Empire move.
The Fiends copped a bit of a hammering from the Dragon Princes. From memory I think this had more to do with the fact that they liked to roll 11s for instability than because of damage inflicted by the Elves.
Belakor is gone. Oh, so is that nasty Chaos Lord with the big sword. Baltasar Gelt decided to murder him with boosted Searing Doom. It was a sensible course of action, really. Anyway, now all I had to worry about was the wave of Chaos Knights coming at me.
Somehow the Outriders have changed angle since the last time we saw them. I think the last photo must have still been during the movement phase. 
The Empire Knights skipping clear of the Minotaurs with their pursuit and into Gor behind them, including the Chaos eastern Battle Standard and a Great Bray Shaman.
OK, so you know how the Greatswords had picked on the most useless and vulnerable target on the field? Apparently the dice disagreed. The Chaos Warriors lost 9 of their number but killed more in return, and then passed a rather low break test to hold their ground. The frenzy had been knocked out of them of course, and as Nick rather gleefully announced, "now they actually get to use Parry saves!" Oh goody.
Chaos Turn 2
Nobody had undisputed control of more than 1 rift yet, so their effects had not yet come into play.
What happens when you have to take a terror test with your General and Battle Standard both out of range? Nothing good, I'm afraid. This is 30 Knights turning and fleeing off the table after the Shaggoth said "Boo!"
The Shaggoth then went into the Volley Gun and failed to break it. Because you know, 3 war machine crew is waaay harder to handle than 30 Knights. So much braver. Quick, someone find a knighthood for those men,
The Chariots exterminated the Outriders as you would expect. The Chosen on the hill got ready to flank the Knights if they failed to deal with the Gor regiment.
Galrauch and the Minotaurs charged into the Demigryphs on the eastern flank. It was going to be messy. Then Galrauch used his outrageous breath attack and wiped the Demigryphs out with Toughness tests before they could attack. How incredibly unsporting...

In the centre Nick was demonstrating exactly how one should not roll for charges. It was an expert display. The Tzeentch Knights needed to roll a 5 with Swiftstride to reach the Demigryphs, but rolled triple 2s. This meant the Marauders behind them could not charge into the Greatswords to help out the Khorne Warriors, although a Shaggoth came in from the other side to help them instead. The Tzeentch Warriors were also meant to be charging, but couldn't get their speed up past a half-dead shamble. It was pathetic and not a little infuriating for Nick.
These Chaos Knights actually completed their charge, probably only because they were so close they didn't have to roll.
The Dragon Ogres were also really, really close to the flank of the Dragon Princes. This was not good news for the Dragon Princes. Most of them died, but a handful lived and managed to escape pursuit, popping through various combats to reappear near the Silver Helms on the edge of the field.
This was what they were fleeing through. Stuff was going on.
The Phoenix Guard might have had this one under control. Maybe...
...But then the killjoy Dragon Ogres pursued into their flank before the combat was fought. Not cool at all. In defence of the Phoenix Guard, they held their ground bravely. But they certainly did not win the combat.
The Swordmasters did a whole lot of damage to the Fleshhounds, but with 2 wounds each they didn't care all that much. The Elves suffered plenty of casualties in return, but held their position.
The Keeper of Secrets moved in to rescue the remaining Bloodcrusher. This was partially successful (the Bloodcrusher survived), but the Elves held their ground.
Fleeing Dragon Princes arrive to watch the Silver Helms die a slow, horrible death.
The area around the rift was a mess. The Star Dragon and rider died thanks to the arrival of the Plaguebearers in their flank, but the Phoenix fought on alone.
In the centre the Reiksguard took a beating but refused to budge.
Being Stubborn is a useful thing.
The Greatswords continued to make hard work of the Khorne Warriors. Thanks to the Shaggoth's arrival, they were now losing combat.
This combat did not go as hoped for the Empire. In the magic phase the Beastman Shaman managed to force through both a boosted Savage Beast of Horros and Wildform. So the characters were leading from the front, pummeling the Knights in their suddenly inadequate armour. The Knights still won the combat, but didn't do quite enough to knock off the enemy's steadfast. The Gor held and reformed into a deeper formation and without their lances the Knights were now in real trouble.
The eastern flank is looking a little shaky now.
Galrauch overran by himself into the Greatswords, leaving the Minotaurs behind.
Elfy Empire Turn 2
The centre at the start of the Empire 2nd turn. It could be worse...
The Minotaurs find themselves in a world of pain as they are flanked by both regiments of Halberdiers who have the benefit of Hatred from the War Altar and a boosted Speed of Light. Yes, there were 2 rows of Minotaurs before the charge... You'll note that Galrauch is no longer with us either.  The Greatswords dealt with that particular problem.
So what happened here? I sent in a regiment of 5 Demigryphs boosted with Enchanted Blades of Aiban against 20 Tzeentch Chaos Knights who were hindered by Transmutation of Lead. I killed only 4 Knights, lost 2 Demigryphs outright, then fled and lost the unit standard bearer as well. It was a debacle.
Oh dear. What happened to the Inner Circle Knights? Apparently they didn't have what it took in the face of the magically enhanced savagery of the Beastmen.
It gets worse, though. Do you remember there being a regiment of 60 Halberdiers near the rear of the War Altar? Well, they panicked when the Knights died and went straight off the table. Oh dear. Just when things might have been starting to look up over on that flank.
At least the other Halberdiers were still with us, but they seemed destined to join me over in the centre of the field rather than helping shore up the eastern flank.
On the western flank the Phoenix Guard stopped passing ward saved and collapsed. The Daemonettes and Daemon Prince pursued into the Spearmen whilst the Dragon Ogres reformed, looking at the flank of the White Lions.
The Swordmasters also crumbled. The western flank was looking very grim indeed. In fact, the one thing that really put up resistance was the Phoenix. It fought for a few rounds of combat, propped up partially by Teclis casting Apotheosis to heal it when it was nearly dead. The Phoenix alone was the only reason the Chaos players couldn't open a rift in turn 3 - it was still tangling with the Beasts of Nurgle on the control point.
Chaos Turn 3
As I just said, Chaos were dangerously close to having control of more than one rift in turn 3, The Beasts of Nurgle just needed to get rid of the pesky Phoenix and they would have undisputed control of the western rift. The Empire resistance around the eastern one had also crumbled, but the pursuing Beastmen had fallen about an inch short of the control point. Things were looking pretty grim for the good guys (the Chaos guys are not the good guys, in case you had missed that bit). Boo, hiss.
Here we can see the Soulgrinder charging my Halberdiers, who failed their terror test and fled...
...It might have been a sensible plan, if only they had fled more than 3 inches. They died.
The Soulgrinder looks for a fresh challenge.
In this atrocious photo you can almost see the Bloodthirster laying into the Sea Guard protecting Teclis. This did not go particularly well for the Daemon, as there was a procession of challenges standing between him and his chosen prey. The unit champion died first, then the Elf Battle Standard stepped up. He actually lived through a round of combat, wounded the Bloodthirster, and then gloated haughtily as the Daemon vanished with an enraged howl. The good guys might have been losing the battle, but at least we had killed all 3 of the enemy generals. That counts for something, right?
The Tzeentch Knights in the centre chased my fleeing Demigyphs further away before redirecting into the White Wolf Knights. I had weight of numbers and a Hurricanum right next to me. They had a clear edge in basic quality.
The first round was just about a draw.
The Reiksguard were on their last legs by now. Stubborn was keeping them in place, but they were going to run out of men. In my turn I tried to charge as much in as possible to help them. Unfortunately the quirks of random movement meant that I could not make space for the Steam Tank once the Hurricanum went in. My mistake. The Chaos Knights failed their fear test because of the Griffon, then proceeded to kill the Hurricanum anyway and drive off the Griffon. Some rescue. The Reiksguard champion fought on alone for one more round before finally succumbing. It was a brave stand and deserved better support.

Ah, those Greatswords. Yes, well. The Marauders finally arrived in their flank and helped to gradually wear away at the regiment. The Greatswords picked off maybe a single Chaos Warrior each turn - they were doing wounds to the Shaggoth more quickly, despite having only a few models within reach. I lost each round, but passed my Stubborn break test over and over. Eventually the Demigryphs rallied and charged into the flank of the Marauders, embarrassed themselves thoroughly (again!) and fled immediately. Nick and I fought this combat on even when the rest of the battle was over. The Shaggoth died and when the Greatswords were reduced to perhaps 3 models they finally broke and were run down - by the Khorne Warrior unit champion, who had by now killed both the Greatsword champion and the Warrior Priest in challenges, and was all that was left of his unit. So after all that, the Chaos Warriors had outlasted the Greatswords. Sigh.
On the western flank the White Lions had launched themselves into the column of Plaguebearers, but were then flanked by the Dragon Ogres (looks like the Beasts got in on the act too). They couldn't take this sort of punishment and were crushed.
The Silver Helms were eventually felled by the Keeper of Secrets, which freed up the Bloodcrusher to help the Seekers clear out the Elf Bolt Throwers that had been on the hill.
That dude fighting the Knights was on a Griffon earlier. I gather the Knights picked on the glorious birdie first before turning their attention to the rider. Who was no longer a rider, because he was walking. Obviously.
Somewhere in there was an Elfy Empire third turn. I think really I just failed to take any photos that turn. Which is fair enough, because there was really nothing good that actually happened that turn. It was a very bad turn. Oh, apart from the Elf BSB facing down the Bloodthirster, which was funny. Which leads us to the 4th Chaos turn.

Chaos Turn 4
Suddenly the Chaos side had gone from controlling 1 of the rifts to 3. The only one still in our possession was the one I had deployed on in the centre, and it was starting to look like it was in trouble. Anyway, with 3 rifts in their possession and almost full control of the field, the Chaos players activated them and summoned forth another gaggle of Daemons. In a cruel mockery of my lack of rules around exactly what they could actually choose with their 2000 points, the evil Chaos players brought back Belakor, the same Bloodthirster than had just been banished, and a trio of Daemon Princes just for fun. A collective groan went out from the Elf and Empire forces as they saw what little they had managed to achieve undone in a flash.
I'm back, baby! Now where is that BSB?
The Three Stooges descend upon the eastern flank.
Belakor returns, bent upon finishing what he started with the Steam Tank
In a display that was symptomatic of the game as a whole, the Halberdiers had flanked the Chaos Knights immediately after they hit my White Wolves. We then proceeded to lose the combat together, instead of my Knights losing all alone. Despite Glittering Robe enhancing both units. The Belakor-who-was-dead-but-wouldn't-stay-that-way cast Okkam's Mindrazor on the Chaos Knights and my own cavalry unit evaporated. Belakor really is not a fun guy.
The Soulgrinder did eventually die (shot to death). As did my Steam Tank, blowing itself up when it had been reduced to a single wound my Belakor's second coming. 
In the end it was all very one-sided. The Bloodthirster returned for what promised to be an amusing confrontation with the BSB that had already seen him off once, but then Jens ruined the party by charging the Beasts of Nurgle in alongside him, and utterly trouncing the Elves. Teclis perished in the enthusiastic embrace of one of the Beasts, and the unit fled immediately afterward. Belakor got what he wanted when the Steam Tank exploded, and the newly arrived trio of Daemon Princes tore a hole through what was left of the Empire eastern flank. The one bright spot was that the Flagellants finally caught up with the cowardly regiment of Chaos Ogres, and did something like 29 wounds in a single round. Yay! Despite this, it was very, very over.

In the end the battle had been decided by a few things. The Chaos players getting the first turn and being able to move the Beasts of Nurgle onto a rift was a big deal. Those things are nigh-on impossible to shift. Pete did actually cast a Purple Sun of Xereus at them mid-game, but rolled terribly for its range and it fell short. The Beasts being where they were meant that the Elves were scrambling to try to push them from turn 1, and it proved a big ask. 

Another issue was that the Empire forces were not as stacked with characters with synergies as they might sometimes have been. For instance no Grand Masters in the Knight units (and we saw one horde panic and flee the field without striking a blow) and not many Warrior Priests. Empire regiments are really outclassed against Chaos until you start making use of the synergies, and it meant we were stretching with magic to try to improve the situation. Rolling was all over the place in the centre, with Nick fluffing his charges only for me to make all my charges and then fail once I got into combat.

If we were going to do the game again I think I would put some actual restrictions upon the Daemons the Chaos side could summon, although realistically if they're starting a turn with 3 uncontested rifts in their control, they already have the upper hand. We let them bring back characters we had already killed because it was a bit of a laugh and the game was already over as a contest, but I wouldn't recommend allowing that normally. The roll off for first turn turned out to be a bigger deal than I had hoped, with the Beasts of Nurgle offering the combination of just enough speed and unbelievable resilience to really exploit the head-start.

Oh yeah, you also need to ban scouting and vanguarding in this scenario. Units starting the game on the rifts would be very uncool...

Until next time!


  1. Great Looking Game - The mass battles are so much more interesting

    1. I don't know if they're necessarily more interesting, but there is certainly more to look at!

  2. Oh mighty lord of hoods, might a mere mortal (and a hippo-riddled one at that) beg that you share perchance the army lists? One is overcome with curiosity as to what was involved and due to not being there to take part, one is grievously uninformed.

    1. OK, because you grovelled so nicely I have added the army lists to the post.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.