Monday, 26 September 2011

Axemaster 2011 Report

As discussed in my post yesterday, Axemaster is over for another year. This means it’s time for another tournament report. Here we go…

The Tournament
Axemaster is a 2500pt tournament, making it the largest regular event in the Melbourne calendar. 2400 seems to be the new tournament standard though, so it’s not terribly different in the scheme of things. The tournament runs without restrictions on army lists, however it uses panel comp. We also played with all the rules as written in the rulebook (no tampering) – something I am a massive supporter of. I believe 8th edition works (especially with comp thrown in to prevent deliberate manipulation of perceived flaws) and I am not afraid to say so. We also tried something we had not seen done before, and declared we would be rolling for the scenario at the start of each round (again something as per the rulebook, and previously recommended by GW for tournaments). The TO retained the right to overrule the result in case something silly happened (such as if we got the same scenario 3 times in a row).

Shortly after we announced the details of the tournament this year, it became apparent to us that we had not made comp worth enough of the total marks at 30 out of 200 (or 15%). Players were talking about the filth they were going to bring, and things were clearly heading in the wrong direction. We took emergency action and doubled the value of comp up to 60 out of 230 (or 26%). This was clearly communicated and we received no complaints (it was still early days), and it appeared to have the desired effect on the armies players were fielding. To allow for the huge comp scores that were going to be added, we opted for the “comp-battle” approach, where a sixth of the player’s comp score was added each round. This was the correct decision as it meant players knew where they stood (rather than being shocked at the end) and prevented the situation where a player with moderate battle results and huge comp leapt the whole field and claimed the title (a result most would find undesirable).

My Army
I was originally going to shift away from the all-cavalry Empire army I used at Book of Grudges, however I got distracted by assembling knights in the lead-up to when we had to submit our armies. I decided I should use this energy and included said knights in my list, rather than stomping on my enthusiasm and forcing myself to work on infantry instead. The extra 250pts I had at my disposal compared to Book of Grudges and a bit of reshuffling meant I was able to add a third block of knights, this one Inner Circle with lances. They got a bonus bare-bones Captain with a great weapon to give them some more long-term grinding power. I lost my unit of Outriders, a couple of knights off each White Wolf unit, and the Standard of Discipline (which I felt slightly rude about using anyway).

I’ve posted both my list and a picture of the army before, however to save you going looking, here they are again:

Arch Lector of Sigmar Ulric @ 244.0 Pts
     General; Barding; Prayers of Sigmar; Shield; Warhorse
     The Mace of Helstrum [60.0]
     Dawn Armour [35.0]

Wizard Lord of the Amethyst Order @ 270.0 Pts
     Magic Level 4; Lore of Death; Warhorse
     Talisman of Preservation [45.0]

Captain @ 132.0 Pts
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Battle Standard; Warhorse
     Charmed Shield [5.0]
     Talisman of Endurance [30.0]

Warrior Priest of
Sigmar Ulric@ 129.0 Pts
     Prayers of Sigmar; Great Weapon; Warhorse
     Armour of Meteoric Iron [25.0]

Captain @ 159.0 Pts
     Lance; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Pegasus
     Dragonhelm [10.0]
     Crown of Command [35.0]

Captain @ 76.0 Pts
     Barding; Great Weapon; Full Plate Armor; Warhorse

12 Knightly Orders @ 339.0 Pts
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Great Weapons; Standard; Musician, Preceptor; Warhorse

12 Knightly Orders @ 349.0 Pts
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Great Weapons; Standard; Musician, Preceptor; Warhorse
     Banner of the Eternal Flame [10.0]

13 Knights of the Inner Circle @ 404.0 Pts
     Barding; Lance; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Standard; Musician, Preceptor; Warhorse

Steam Tank @ 300.0 Pts

5 Pistoliers @ 97.0 Pts
     Brace of Pistols; Light Armour; Musician; Warhorse

In all but the last game, I deployed my BSB and Warrior Priest in the unit with the flaming banner, the Arch Lector and Wizard Lord in the other White Wolf unit, and the great weapon hero in the Inner Circle unit. This changed in the last game when the BSB and Warrior Priest had to join the hero in the Inner Circle knights because their regular entourage decided not to show up for the start of the game. Otherwise I was consistent in my approach.

And now we get to the games. Bear in mind that these lists are basically from memory, so may not be perfect.

Game 1: Meeting Engagement
Aaron Gruneklee: Orcs and Goblins

Goblin War Boss on Gigantic Spider with great weapon
Goblin Great Shaman on Arachnarok with dispel scroll
Night Goblin Big Boss on Great Cave Squig with battle standard, great weapon
Savage Orc Shaman on boar
60 Night Goblins with full command, 2 fanatics
15 Wolf Riders with spears, shields, standard, musician
5 Wolf Riders with spears
5 Spider Riders
12 Savage Orc Boar Boy Big’Uns with command, spears, shields
Squig Herd with 34 Squigs, 26 Night Goblins
Goblin Wolf Chariot with extra wolf
2 Mangler Squigs
2 Pump Wagons with strength 5, extra movement

OK, you may be somewhat baffled by the list above. Aaron has spent not a single point on protecting any of his characters, and seems to have found the single best way of exposing his general and BSB to certain death. His efficiency is to be applauded. Aaron and I started playing Warhammer together around 20 years ago and we have played each other countless times. In this case he was largely borrowing some of my orcs with a few models of his own thrown in (little things like the Arachnarok). He grudged me because we had set up the dreaded caves as one of the tournament tables and we wanted to show people that you could play Warhammer on such a table. I have actually included a couple of shots of the game to give you a little bit of an idea of what I’m talking about. I will talk more about the table in another blog post.

The caves in action. Here come the pimp wagons!
The mushroom forest looks right at home in the dark
You can see what the table did to my deployment
In terms of the game, Aaron took the more open side of the table, leaving me to deal with the 5-6” gaps all across the other side. This didn’t cripple me the way it might have some armies, but it was not ideal. My Arch Lector and Pegasus both started off the table, but that wasn’t the end of the world. Aaron’s Squig Herd and one of his Mangler Squigs didn’t turn up for the start, which was probably more damaging for him.

Aaron advanced in his first turn and managed to block the path of my Pistoliers to the Mangler – I had planned to feed them to it. He was slightly cagey with his movement, but not cagey enough. The Arachnarok strayed within 15” of the Steam Tank, and was promptly charged by it. The impact killed the Shaman and left the spider on 1 wound (it had taken 1 from a miscast in Aaron’s turn). The spider turned and fled, face-first into a cave wall. The dangerous terrain test was fatal (spiders of all sizes have Obstacle Strider, however given the cave wall went all the way to the roof, we figured it would need to test). The Night Goblins panicked, but rallied and were charged by the Inner Circle Knights who were on my right flank.

On my left, the Pegasus arrived on the table only to see a Pump Wagon hurtle 21” towards it, and the Pegasus and rider exploded in a cloud of feathers. The Pistoliers tried to shoot the other Pump Wagon to death, however they left it on 1 wound – plenty to run them over with. With that, my left flank was gone. However, my army was shielded from on that side with a rock wall, so the impact on the rest of the game was minimal.

In the centre, my Wizard made short work of the Goblin BSB using Caress of Laniph. A chariot and spider unit then declared charges on my BSB’s unit of White Wolves. Looking at the Mangler Squig which was now not very far away and very hungry, I decided I would be clever and flee from the charges in order to get away from the Mangler (and the doom it brought with it). Unfortunately, I was not as clever as I thought. The War Boss on his spider was within 1” of his maximum charge range, so declared another charge and sent me fleeing from the table. It was a stupid mistake brought about by the terror of a Mangler Squig and no means of dealing with it.

The Chariot redirected its charge into my Arch Lector’s unit, who demonstrated how the Mace of Helstrum works. The Mangler fell just short, however I ended up moving over it anyway. Thankfully it only killed a rank and I didn’t panic. Aaron tried to slow my advance with his fast cavalry, however I charged the spiders and then rolled a big Overrun which carried me into the War Boss, who was distracted by his gloating at the sight of my BSB’s unit having run away.

My Steam Tank continued on its merry way after the demise of the Arachnarok and charged the flank of the Savage Orc Boar Boys. They lost all but 3 of their number to the impact hits and fled, failing to rally repeatedly because they needed double-1s due to dropping to 25% strength. The Tank was then flank charged by the Squig Herd, who proceeded to chew on it with extreme vigour (I seemed to be taking 6-8 armour saves per turn).

The second Mangler squig had been briefly distracted with what looked like a flanking manoeuvre by my Pistoliers before they became Pump Wagon roadkill. It gradually made its way forward now, coming up alongside the Squigs. I advanced with the unit containing my Arch Lector and Mage to try to kill it with magic, however I left it on 1 wound and only around 11” away. Enter the Steam Tank, which fired its steam turret and rolled the 6 it needed to finish the horrid beastie off. Pure skill, all the way…. Ahem.

Eventually I broke the Night Goblins with my Inner Circle Knights and ran them down (once the general’s
leadership was gone their steadfast alone was not enough). They then swung around to the right of the Squig Herd, which was still biting pieces off the Steam Tank. The Arch Lector’s unit killed a Pump Wagon and swung around the left, and the two units charged into combat simultaneously. My Wizard got over-excited in casting Soulblight and killed all but one of my Knights in that unit, however the Squigs popped, the Knight survived, and my unit was able to turn back around and finish the battle by dealing with the remaining Pump Wagon.

In the end I had lost the BSB, Warrior Priest and their unit (thanks to my mistake), the Pegasus hero and the Pisoliers. Aaron had lost everything except both units of Wolf Riders. It was an interesting game – Aaron had what appeared to be a hideously weak army, but really it was dangerous in places with some obvious glaring weaknesses. My inability to address the Mangler Squigs nearly cost me dearly, and the game may have been quite different if the Arachnarok had been a little less cavalier with its movement near the Steam Tank.

Result: 16-4
Game 2: Dawn Attack
Adrian Stakula: Orcs and Goblins
Orc War Boss with Armour of Destiny, Sword of Striking
Savage Orc Great Shaman with Lucky Shrunken Head, Obsidian Lodestone
Goblin Big Boss with army standard, Spider Banner
Night Goblin Shaman with Dispel Scroll
30 Savage Orc Big’Uns with 2 hand weapons, command
20 Savage Orcs with bows, command
60 Night Goblins with command, 1 fanatic
Squig Herd with maybe 25 Squigs and 15 handlers
25 Black Orcs with command, flaming banner (I think)
Wolf Chariot
Doom Diver
Rock Lobber
Mangler Squig

Staks is a regular at the club and I’ve played him a number of times. In this case the table was relatively open, however there was a building over to one side. His eyes were firmly on this – if he put all his characters into one unit and walked into the building, they would be largely invulnerable against my efforts. Unfortunately for him, we had to roll for where each unit deployed. His Big’Uns (and all 4 characters therein) landed on my far left – the opposite side from the building. The rest of his army also went over that side, with the exception of the Night Goblins and Black Orcs who ended up on my right, and the Chariot that was in the middle.

When I rolled my deployment, my army largely faced off with the important stuff in his, with only my Inner Circle Knights deploying on my right and looking at the building. I then compounded Staks’ misery by seizing the initiative by rolling a 6 at the start of the game. Everything was going rather well.

I advanced, and sent my Pistoliers to right in front of the Chariot after their Vanguard move. They wounded it with their pistols and prepared to receive the charge. The Pegasus was close behind them, and the Inner Circle Knights ignored the building (which would doubtless soon be infested by Orcs) and swung around looking at the Pegasus and Pistoliers. On my left I moved up to 15” away from the Big’Uns (who had the other Savage Orcs stuck behind them, both 10 wide), and sent a Purple Sun of Xereus through the ranks. I killed about a dozen Orcs all told, although the characters passed their “Look Out Boss!" rolls. This spell was my main trump card because with all the gear crammed into the Big’Un unit, Staks’ Shaman and War Boss had a 2+ ward save versus my sniping spells and the whole lot of them promised to be very hard to shift.

Staks held back with his main unit for a turn, however his Squig Herd failed Animosity, rolled a 6, and spun on the spot to charge my Pistoliers in the flank. This was unfortunate (especially if you were a Pistolier). They held the charge and declared Stand and Shoot against the Chariot’s inevitable charge, managing to kill it. The Black Orcs moved into the building behind my Inner Circle Knights, whilst the Night Goblins squabbled. The Trolls stomped out and started trying to play “Annoying Great Eagle” with my charges.

Staks’ shooting and magic was nothing special, however his Squig charge dealt handily with my Pistoliers (I know you’re surprised). Unfortunately my craven Pegasus panicked and fled, which destroyed my plans – he would have held the Squigs in place for an immediate flank charge by my BSB’s unit of Knights, and potentially a frontal charge by my Inner Circle Knights. Instead my BSB’s unit found itself facing the Squigs and realised it was hopelessly outmuscled.

In my second turn, the Steam Tank was in charge range of the main unit. The beginning of the end for the Orcs. Or it would have been, had I not rolled a 6 and overheated instead of moving. Given the Steam Tank was not going in, the Arch Lector’s unit alongside decided not to declare the charge by itself. The BSB’s unit charged the Troll directly in front of it. My Inner Circle Knights declared a charge on the flank of the Squigs who were now looking at the BSB’s unit hungrily, however they rolled abysmally and failed to make it. My Pegasus rallied but could not yet contribute. My magic was useless, but the BSB’s unit killed the Troll and reformed to angle itself as far from the Squigs as possible.

Then things started to go really wrong. Staks decided his main unit wouldn’t get lucky twice in a row and declared a hopeful charge on my Arch Lector’s unit. He then rolled the 11 he needed to reach his target, 15” away. This was a disaster. Nearby, the Squigs declared their charge on the BSB’s unit. I fled, and could only manage a miserable 5” flee roll, despite rolling an extra die for Swiftstride. The Squigs decided to follow their Boss’s lead and rolled 11, so I lost the BSB, Warrior Priest and their unit on the spot.

In the magic phase Staks managed to cast Sneaky Stabbin’ on his main unit, meaning they would make a mockery of my unit’s armour. My Arch Lector missed the Shaman with his Mace of Helstrum (even with a reroll, on 3+), his unit was obliterated around him, and he and the remnants had soon fled the table. A Doom Diver also crashed into my Pegasus, leaving it on 1 wound.

The Black Orcs had emerged from their house behind my Inner Circle Knights, however that flank of the game was soon left behind. The Knights charged the flank of the Squig Herd, as did the Pegasus. Meanwhile the Steam Tank drove off and parked itself on the face of the Mangler Squig, not far from the Savage Orc archers. The Squigs died and the Knights finally gave me something to cheer about. The Pegasus died somewhere in there though – I can’t remember if a Squig ate him, or he died when the unit exploded (Squigs do that).

Staks took offense to my cheering and turned his main unit about. He then cast Foot of Gork on my poor unit, mashing it repeatedly with a great green foot and leaving a paste with only the hero and standard bearer surviving to flee from panic. Not content with this, Staks then dispatched his best Doom Diver to finish me off. 6 hits later (3 on each model) and the Knights were no more.

This left me with only my Steam Tank, and the rest of the game involved me trying to grind down Staks’ Savage Orcs before the game was over. I got them down to a handful, however they refused to break and thus denied me any more points. Game over, man…

Result: 2-18
Game 3: Battleline
Troy Anderton: Daemons of Chaos
Great Unclean One with Balesword, Noxious Vapours
Nurgle Herald with battle standard, Stream of Bile
Tzeentch Herald with Master of Sorcery (Lore of Life), Spellbreaker
Khorne Herald with Armour of Khorne
25 Bloodletters with command
24 Plaguebearers with command, Standard of Seeping Decay
10 Horrors with standard
5 Flesh Hounds
5 Flamers with pyrocaster
5 Flamers
Ah, the Balesword. This is specially patented Steam Tank can-opening technology. The Great Unclean One would hit and wound automatically with all 4 attacks, leave me with a 6+ armour save, then do D6 wounds for each failed save. In other words, I’d be lucky to last a turn and definitely crippled immediately. Troy admitted it was in the list specifically because a Steam Tank had caused him horrible problems at Book of Grudges, which made perfect sense. Unfortunately, my Steam Tank was basically in the list because of what a Bloodletter Horde would do to my Knights. So, here is how it goes:

Bloodletters trump Knights
Steam Tank trumps Bloodletters
Balesword Great Unclean One trumps Steam Tank
Purple Sun of Xereus trumps Great Unclean One…

Or at least, that was the plan. The only way I could realistically hope to save this game was to hit the fat man himself with the Purple Sun, and hope he rolled a 5 or a 6 and died outright. If I didn’t do this, my Steam Tank would have to stay away and consequently couldn’t help my army fight off the Bloodletters. Well, rarely has a game gone so well according to plan.

I won the first turn, however I didn’t really want it and handed it to Troy. He didn’t want it either, however I had won the roll-off to not want it more, so he was stuck with it. He stepped forward along the line, with his Flamers firing impotently at my Pegasus and Inner Circle Knights on my left flank. On my right flank the Pistoliers were utterly consumed by an innocuous-seeming Flickering Fire from the Horrors, whilst I failed to dispel Throne of Vines by rolling 5 1s and a 2 on my dispel roll. Aww yeah…

Evidence as captured by Pete from the next table. It seems he was a bit excited when taking the photo - the dice were not still actually moving when the shot was taken...
Despite this inauspicious start, I declared charges on both Flamer units. The Pegasus rolled about as well as my dispel dice and failed to achieve the 16” charge he wanted, however the Inner Circle Knights and their hero made it into the other unit. Unfortunately this was right next to the Bloodletters, so I needed to break through.

I then gritted my teeth and had a crack at Purple Sun of Xereus, through the Plaguebearers and BSB, and into the Great Unclean One. I cast it irresistibly, rolled the 18” I needed to hit my target, and then felt rather guilty as he rolled a 5 and vanished. Funny how you can know something is your only chance, but still feel guilty when it works. I also killed about 10 of the Plaguebearers (the BSB barely passing his “Look Out Sir!” roll). 
They breed them hard in the Chaos Wastes. Troy neither cursed nor cried when his greater daemon bit the dust. Cold, man...
The Knights did a less than convincing job on the Flamers, denied by the saves of the daemons and being held in place. I reformed to make my formation shallower (and thus reduce the number of Bloodletters who could fight me in my flank), but I knew it would be bad…
Troy started his second turn probably realising that the game was already gone. However, his Bloodletters charged my already-engaged Knights as expected and the Flesh Hounds had a go at my BSB’s unit over on my right flank as I was closing on the Plaguebearers.

Things went from bad to worse for him in the magic phase, as the Purple Sun rolled back through the Plaguebearers as though it was still under my control. This time the BSB failed his “Look Out Sir” roll and was consumed along with half of his remaining mates. Now I felt properly dirty.

The Bloodletters did do a number on the Knights and left them fleeing with too few models to rally without a double-1, and turned to face the incoming Steam Tank. The Flesh Hounds bounced off their opponents and were left with a single model fighting in return.

In my turn the Pegasus charged the lone remaining Flamer from the unit the Knights had engaged and my Arch Lector’s unit charged the ravaged remains of the Plaguebearers (I ended Purple Sun before I arrived). The Steam Tank charged the Bloodletters and it was all a steady progression from there. Troy managed to cast The Dwellers Below on my BSB’s unit after the Flesh Hounds were dead, however I rolled brilliantly and only lost a few models (and no characters). Eventually my Arch Lector broke through the Plaguebearers and hit the Horrors and their Herald, who didn’t last very long. The Steam Tank ground slowly away at the Bloodletters, before they were flanked by Knights and things really went downhill. The Pegasus killed the Flamer and went after the others, and Troy conceded when it was apparent he wouldn’t get another point. Bad luck, mate. Not your fault.

Result: 18-2
Game 4: Watchtower
Andrew Bishop: Daemons of Chaos
Great Unclean One with Balesword, Stream of Bile
Nurgle Herald with battle standard, Stream of Bile
Nurgle Herald with magic level 1
28 Plaguebearers with command, Standard of Seeping Decay
28 Plaguebearers with command
8 Furies
8 Furies
4 Nurglings
4 Nurglings
3 Beasts of Nurgle
Oh good, another Balesword! And we’re playing Watchtower! Oh well, I can’t really complain. I assumed we would play Watchtower at least once during the weekend, and apart from the Balesword my army stacked up quite favourably against Andrew’s. Without the horrific knight-killing power of Bloodletters, my Knights looked like a pretty tough proposition for the Daemons.

Andrew started in control of the Watchtower, which was ideal for me. I couldn’t deploy in it anyway, and it meant I could respond to his deployment and I got the first turn. He could only deploy a Fury unit inside due to the size of the Plaguebearer blocks, so he didn’t start with an immovable garrison. He deployed his Beasts wide on the flank, his Plaguebearers closer to the middle with the Great Unclean One behind, and both units of Nurglings out in the open just over 12” from me. I responded by lining the Steam Tank up to head for the BSB’s unit of Plaguebearers, which was on the other side of the Watchtower from the Great Unclean One and the rest of the army. My knights units formed up in a row opposite the bulk of Andrew’s forces.

In the first turn I decided to charge the Nurglings on my left with the BSB’s unit, and tried to charge the unit on the right of the tower with my Steam Tank. Naturally the engineer got too excited and overheated the engine, so it went nowhere. The rest of my units advanced.

Given the overwhelming success of my “tactic” the previous game, I sent a Purple Sun at the Great Unclean One again. It went off irresistibly (again), and cannoned a spectacular 30” straight through the Plaguebearers, the fat man, and off the table. Unlike last time, Andrew passed his Initiative test and survived. I also lost the spell as a result of the miscast, so my trick had failed me. I had killed some 14 Plaguebearers though, so all was not lost.

My Knights broke through the Nurglings, however their overrun was not sufficient to escape the Beasts as I had hoped it would be…

Andrew opened his turn by flanking the Knights from both directions – from the Beasts out wide, and the depleted Plaguebearers in the middle. The Unclean One advanced next to the rear of the now sideways-facing Plaguebearers, whilst the Plaguebearers on the other side advanced toward the tower and the Nurglings moved back behind it (and out of the path of the Steam Tank).

The Knights lost their lop-sided combat (along with about half their numbers) and broke, however they managed to escape their pursuers which was a bonus.

In my turn the Steam Tank advanced more cautiously, still on track to intercept the Plaguebearers before they got to the tower. My Pegasus charged the flank of the Plaguebearers who had failed to catch my fleeing knights, whilst those knights rallied near the table edge and faced the Beasts right in front of them. My Inner Circle Knights went to enact my backup plan by charging the Great Unclean One, however they rolled terribly and went 2” instead. Now I needed a backup backup plan.

The Plaguebearers were held up by the Pegasus (and they failed their combat reform test), however Andrew still charged the rallied knights with the Beasts. Happily he decided to charge my Inner Circle Knights with the fat man, which was consistent with my plan anyway. He even aligned not touching the poor hero, who was delighted. The Plaguebearers near the Steam Tank continued their advance and stopped 1” from the tower.

Surprisingly, the Beasts fought terribly against the rallied knights and were comprehensively out-fought. This was aided by Andrew being incapable of passing Regeneration rolls that turn, and the Beasts were fortunate to roll a double-1 to avoid crumbling and further exposing the engaged Plaguebearers. The Great Unclean One killed 3 Knights, however they held and this then began a long-running combat in which the Unclean One would lose combat repeatedly, wilting gradually over time.

In my turn I drove the Steam Tank into the Plaguebearers right on the edge of the Watchtower and engaged the park brake. The engineer popped a rear hatch and headed off to find tea somewhere. I was never going to win combat and I was never going to safely generate steam points, so I wasn’t going to try. I had kept them out of the tower. My Arch Lector led his unit into the rear of the other Plaguebearers, who were now in real trouble. They held out briefly, but eventually fell apart.

In the remainder of the game I eventually pushed through the Beasts with the rallied knights and flanked the Unclean One for some extra combat resolution. The Pegasus engaged the Nurglings, and the Arch Lector and co charged the tower in an attempt to kill off the Furies. However, I lacked attacks (and decent dice rolls) and only killed one. I needed the Great Unclean One gone, so their leadership would drop from 9 to 2…

At the end of Turn 5, with everything engaged except the tower where I was preparing another charge, and the fat man down to 2 wounds, Andrew rolled a 5 and ended the game. It was exceedingly close, but I had lost thanks to the 1000 VPs for the Furies holding the tower.

Result: 9-11
Game 5: Battleline
Peter Korteman: Bretonnians
Lord with Ogre Blade, Dragonhelm, Dawnstone (I think – he had a 1+ rerollable armour save, I believe)
Prophetess on Pegasus with 4+ ward save, Dispel Scroll
Paladin with Gromril Great Helm, Sword of Might
12 Knights of the Realm with command, Standard of Discipline
12 Knights of the Realm with command
50 Men-at-Arms with halberds, command
20 Peasant Bowmen
20 Peasant Bowmen
3 Pegasus Knights
5 Mounted Yeoman
6 Grail Knights

I must admit, I didn’t even realise a Prophetess could get onto a Pegasus. I kind of liked it, even though it feels dangerous. She was also using Heavens magic, which was a nice change from Dweller Spam which seems to be a more common Bretonnian approach…

This game went pretty badly for Peter. On the right flank my Pistoliers rode up merrily and shot the flank of an archer unit at point-blank range. They then got charged by the Pegasus Knights who were right in front of them. Naturally they did not survive, however the Pegasus Knights found themselves with a unit of Inner Circle Knights in their flank, at a range where fleeing was impossible.

In the middle, I advanced all along the line. On my left I tried and failed to charge the Yeomen with the Pegasus, so he just fluttered along slowly. Peter responded by advancing cautiously around my left with the Grail Knights, shielded by the not-yet-dead Yeomen. In the middle his freight train of peasants advanced at maximum speed straight at my cavalry, in a complete disregard for their wellbeing that would have done any Bretonnian player proud. His 2 Knight of the Realm lances were hedgy and stayed near the table edge.

Cagey as he was, Peter had failed to keep his general’s lance more than 15” from the Steam Tank. It used 5 steam points, managed not to overheat, and ploughed into the front of the unit. More disastrously for him though, my BSB’s unit decided to support the charge in order to negate Steadfast and managed to charge the 17” required to go in alongside. The Steam Tank somehow only killed 3 knights, however the support from my unit was enough and the general and his unit fled the table, with my unit overrunning into the Prophetess (who despite her mystical powers had apparently not seen it coming). The peasant archers next to her decided they were done though, and fled the field. Meanwhile my Pegasus charged and dealt with the Yeomen, making up for his earlier lapse.

With a Steam Tank looking at the flank of his remaining major unit, Peter bit the bullet and attacked. The Men-at-Arms charged my general’s unit, and were joined in this effort by declarations from the Realm Knights alongside them and the Grail Knights over in my flank. Unfortunately for Peter, only the peasant knew their own limitations and made it into combat. The others failed, dooming his Realm Knights to a combined flank charge from the Steam Tank and my BSB’s knights, who had just made short work of the Prophetess and reformed menacingly.

The Men-at-Arms put up a brave fight and nearly beat my Arch Lector’s unit for a turn, although I was saved embarrassment by the horses fighting as Warhammer horses usually do – like the true kings of the battlefield. The Knights of the Realm were smashed and caught by the flank charge, and the Pegasus moved to stop the Grail Knights (with the aid of repeated castings of Soulblight) until a proper unit eventually arrived to help. They were the last to fall.

Result: 20-0
Game 6: Meeting Engagement
Aaron Graham: High Elves
Prince on barded steed with heavy armour, shield, Giant Blade, Dawnstone, Talisman of Loec
Archmage with Annulian Crystal
Noble on barded steed with battle standard, heavy armour, great weapon, Helm of Fortune
35 Spearmen with command
12 Archers
12 Archers
10 Silver Helms with musician
6 Dragon Princes with musician
15 White Lions with command, Potion of Foolhardiness
15 Swordmasters with command, Skeinsliver
3 Great Eagles

Looking at Aaron’s army list, I was initially fairly confident. However, his mage was using the Lore of Shadow, which could result in my Steam Tank disappearing down a hole. Well, that could be worse I suppose. My knights could compete anyway.

Aaron won the roll-off for table side and managed to get a deployment zone with multiple buildings in it, into which went both archer units. He also managed complete control over what turned up at the start of the game – everything. Very High Elf-ish. I had one of my White Wolf units and my Pistoliers start off the table, but that could have been worse.

I put my Steam Tank on my far right, which was the shallow end of my deployment zone. It was out of range of Pit of Shades, and there were some Swordmasters and Dragon Princes on that flank which looked quite squishable. The 2 units and 5 characters that turned up at the start, I arrayed against the Silver Helms and White Lions. I could have stacked a flank and gone for broke, however one flank would have left my Steam Tank in peril, whilst the other would have been destroyed by the buildings. So I spread.

Aaron was understandably cagey with his movement and didn’t give me any real opening charges. The one exception was the Steam Tank, which used went the full 15” toward the flank of the Dragon Princes. They fled the charge and passed through the Spearmen toward the table edge, then very obligingly failed to rally on Leadership 10. Ah well, happens to all of us.

With 3 Eagles and a primary unit with a better charge range than mine, Aaron had plenty of control over the movement phase. I had trouble deciding what to do, but in the end I stepped toward him in the hope of forcing the issue. My plan was to Soulblight the Silver Helms as I came in range, and if I managed that I would be all over the army. Unfortunately I rolled a pitiful power phase and I was left exposed.

The Silver Helms and White Lions both charged the unit containing my Arch Lector and Wizard Lord. I couldn’t flee because of all the damn buzzards floating around the battlefield (an Eagle would have just run me into the ground), so I had to hold and hope. If I didn’t break, I would soon have a flank charge with my other unit and the game would be mine (once I dealt with a pesky birdie). It was a good theory. On the other side, the Swordmasters took a fancy to the flank of my Steam Tank, with another Eagle landing in front of my newly arrived knight reinforcements and preening itself in their faces.

My hopes my Arch Lector would hold were shattered when I took a colossal pile of wounds and did almost none in return. Even my Arch Lector in a challenge with the White Lion champion was good for only a single wound with his Mace. I broke, however in a stroke of good fortune I escaped the pursuit.

The Swordmasters went to town on my Steam Tank and contrary to expectations, were crippling it almost immediately. This set the standard, with them knocking 2 or even 3 wounds off each turn thanks to my excellent rolling for armour saves.

My next turn involved me charging Eagles, rallying my Arch Lector and mage, and hoping for a miracle. My Pistoliers had arrived and fired an ineffectual volley at an Eagle the previous turn, and they now rushed forward and diverted the charge of the White Lions. At least I would only have to deal with 1 unit in the next charge. My Inner Circle Knights on the left caught the Eagle that fled the charge and reformed facing back into the table (but they were a fair way off). My knights near the Steam Tank were less impressive, and only managed to beat the Eagle by 4, and it duly held. I was somewhat outraged by the uppity bird, although Aaron pointed out I had another turn to kill it before it would really matter.

My efforts to protect myself with magic failed again, and Aaron immediately charged with his Silver Helms into my knights, and with his White Lions into the annoying Pistoliers. His magic phase consisted of an Irresistible boosted Mystifying Miasma on my Arch Lector’s unit, dropping many of their statistics by 3. As if they weren’t finding it hard enough.

The Pistoliers died as expected and the White Lions reformed looking back into the fight. The Silver Helms had a poor charge (especially compared to their previous one) and failed to kill more than a single knight. Worst of all, the Prince accepted the challenge of my Arch Lector and despite using his Talisman of Loec, only inflicted 1 wound (I saved 2 out of 3 on a 5+). I then retaliated with 2 wounds from the Mace of Helstrum, which resulted in the Prince toppling off his horse after the combat. Even more critically, I only lost combat by 3… And I passed my Leadership 6 test.

In my turn my BSB’s unit made a desperate charge into the rear of the Silver Helms and (against all my expectations) travelled the 14” they needed to get there. On the other flank my knights charged the flank of the Silver Helms and broke and caught them, however they stopped right behind the Steam Tank. I had rescued the Tank, although it only had 1 wound left!

In the critical combat I further improved my chances by finally getting off Soulblight (the boosted version), and the Silver Helms were comprehensively smashed. However, in keeping with my efforts, they outran my pursuit and had just enough models left to rally on Leadership 9. My BSB’s unit failed abysmally in their pursuit and were left with the White Lions looking hungrily at their flank.

Aaron rallied his Silver Helms and charged my large unit of knights with the White Lions. However, I used “Make Way!” to step across with 3 characters, completely blocking his access to regular knights. In addition, the lingering effects of Soulblight and fairly ordinary rolling on his part meant he didn’t kill anyone, although he did carefully wound each of the characters once, leaving them all half dead. In the end I actually won the combat and he broke despite being Stubborn (typical in terms of how the game had swung).

Over at the Steam Tank, the Archmage decided the Steam Tank and Knights were annoying, so dropped them in a hole. Half the knights died and the Steam Tank vanished from sight, however the mage had been a touch overzealous and himself disappeared, leaving a smoking crater in the kitchen of the house he had been occupying. My knights didn’t panic and the Steam Tank had been crippled anyway, so it was a good result for me.

The remainder of the game involved me riskily charging the Silver Helms with the one remaining knight, Wizard Lord on one wound, and Arch Lector in the hunt for more victory points. It was dangerous despite casting Soulblight, but I got away with it. Little else occurred and the game was over when the Spearmen elected to flee rather than be charged by my main remaining unit of knights (having themselves failed a speculative charged at my rear the previous turn).

Aaron was unlucky. He had gotten on top of me and I looked gone for all money. I’ve been on the flip side of this before, and I know how frustrating it can be – especially in the last round when you’re on one of the top tables. He took it well, considering. Well done.

Result: 16-4
Final Tally: 81/120 Battle Points
And so I found myself in 4th place at the end of the tournament. I am happy with this, and it meant that I had achieved all my goals for the event (4 wins, and a top 10 finish). I was lucky only encountering Watchtower once with my all-cavalry army, and it put up a good fight in the one game where it came up. I couldn’t really have hoped for a better tournament. In all the tournament ran well and I think the boosted comp scores and comp-battle approach worked really well.

Thanks to all my opponents and we’ll see you all next time.

1 comment:

  1. Good read, thanks for posting such a comprehensive write-up.