Thursday, 8 December 2011

My Masters Adventure

The Masters trophies on offer

Well, I have now had time to recover from the adventure that was the Australian Masters for 2011. It was the first time I have actually flown interstate for a tournament (normally we make a big road trip of it, with an extra day or so to relax whilst up there), and the whirlwind nature of the whole thing takes its toll a little. It was good fun though, and there is something to be said for being able to make a trip like this happen without having to take any leave from work.
So how did it go? Well, I can reveal that I did not win the event. Indeed, I didnt even come close I was far closer to coming last. This is a fairly novel experience for me, however with the nature of the event and there being no weak opposition, it was always a possibility. I finished in 14th place out of 16, so I finished on the lower rungs of the anti-podium (this is probably not a thing I just made it up).I actually did win 2 games and draw another, however the margins of my losses were far more convincing than those of my wins, and the close nature of the event meant my lack of battle points left me close to the bottom of the pile.

All of the army lists involved (including mine) can be found in the WargamerAU thread here.

My army arrayed for happy snaps

Game 1: Waypoint
Akhter Khan: Dwarfs

Game 1 table. Note that before deployment the house at the top of the picture and the one nearly touching it were replaced by a couple of hills by the TO. I deployed on the bottom of the picture
 This scenario was a variant of Battleline, with 3 objective markers that were evenly spaced along the centre line before scattering D6”. Each objective was worth 150 VPs. I believe the idea was that the objectives would discourage players from sitting back and playing defensively, given control of all 3 markers would ensure a game that would otherwise be a stalemate would instead slant significantly one way or the other.

Akhters army was an interesting mix of gunline and sneaky deployment. With 2 regiments of 21 Miners and one of 24 Rangers, a large chunk of his army would be appearing in unexpected locations as the game progressed. He deployed his artillery, Anvil of Doom and Quarrellers hard in his right-hand corner, leaving me to try to weather a storm of missiles on the way in. I decided to stack all 3 of my mounted characters in the slightly smaller (but better armoured) Inner Circle Knights, and deploy them directly opposite the Dwarf strongpoint. If I could get close enough and throw a Purple Sun through his artillery and Anvil (which was directly behind the Grudgethrowers), the game would be over. I had to spread further across my deployment zone, as a building and a large piece of dangerous terrain prevented me stacking my flank in response to the Dwarf deployment. The Halberdiers were immediately on the other side of the dangerous terrain from the Inner Circle Knights, with the Mortar next to them. Then came the Steam Tank (which would have to drive around a small house before swinging in, and the White Wolf Knights, and finally my Cannon.

After I had finished deploying, the Rangers (accompanied by the stunty BSB) materialised immediately in front of the Grudgethrowers. I dont know how my guys hadnt spotted them there. Perhaps they were concealed by a very, very low rise in the field of battle.

The blurry hand of fate as I prepare to fail something. Armour saves, I think...
Akhter had the +1 on the roll-off, and won the first turn. He started by hitting my critical unit with everything he had. I lost 2 Knights (and half my movement) to the Rune of Wrath and Ruin, and perhaps half a dozen models in total to the shooting. It wasnt too bad, but my halved movement was going to be an issue. I advanced as fast as I could with everything, and did minimal damage with my shooting. I threw all the power dice I got at Purple Sun, but it was stopped by the Spelleater Rune (although it did not eat the spell permanently).

On the 2nd turn, the first of the Miner regiments arrived behind my cannon and waved their pointy pick-axes at it meaningfully. The rest of the Dwarf army continued its bombardment of my poor Inner Circle Knights. This resulted in their movement being halved (again), and all but a couple of Knights being killed. My Wizard Lord was cleaned up by a Grudgethrower, however the Arch Lector barely survived a similar close encounter (he was left on a single wound). I continued my steady advance across the line, however I admit that the loss of Purple Sun boded poorly for my chances of retrieving the situation. My Arch Lector did manage to heal himself, and the Cannon ignored the menacing gestures of the Miners behind them and destroyed one of the Dwarf machines. My Mortar landed in the middle of the Quarrellers and killed a handful of them. Unfortunately Dwarfs dont care about such things (death used to be so much scarier back in the day), and they didnt panic.

The remaining miners arrived in turn 3, however they decided their kindred had the war machine situation firmly in hand, and turned up on the centre of the Dwarf table edge, behind a house and waiting to pounce on the rear of my White Wolf Knights as they charged past at the Quarrellers on the flank of the main Dwarf line. For their part, the Quarrellers reformed into a deeper formation and turned to face the incoming threat. The Rangers did a similar thing, in case the few cavalry in their front got delusions of grandeur. The Miners behind the Cannon charged it, and prepared to overrun toward the Mortar. Deciding that a couple of knights, a BSB and an Arch Lector no longer constituted a significant threat, the Anvil instead chose to slow the White Wolf Knights and brought down a couple. A few more died to a Grudgethrower, however the remaining Cannon still targeted the Arch Lector. He survived again divine protection and all that, dont cha know? My Cannon succumbed to the tender attentions of the Miners, after my crewmen valiantly dragged one down by whacking him with one of those fuzzy-ended cannon cleaning sticks. The overrun brought the Dwarfs within about 9” of the Mortar and the Engineer, who was trying to look inconspicuous.

In my turn, the Arch Lector, BSB and remaining couple of Inner Circle Knights finally charged into the front of the waiting Rangers. The Steam Tank veered off course and parked itself in front of the Miners who were trying to sneak up on the White Wolves, whilst they continued their (now much slower) advance on the Quarrellers. My Halberdiers were getting close too, and the Shadow wizard reminded everyone that I still actually had some magic by casting The Withering on the now-engaged Rangers. The Mortar killed a few more Quarrellers and chose to hope that the Miners would trip on their pick axes rather than charging them next turn. In combat, the Arch Lector and co killed a few Dwarfs and lost their standard bearer in return, however they barely lost combat to the much larger unit and decided to hold.

In turn 4 the Miners in my rear managed to make it to the Mortar and made short work of it, however they were left with not much else to do, since the rest of the Empire army had headed off to engage their comrades in the other deployment zone. The other Miners got clever ideas about stepping around the Steam Tank, but didnt get far. The remaining Cannon shot my Steam Tank and knocked off 4 wounds, crippling it for the rest of the game. My White Wolves survived the worst of the shooting and prepared to charge, with 8 or 9 of their number still remaining. The Arch Lector issued a challenge to the Dwarf BSB, having dispatched the Ranger champion in the previous round. To a chorus of booing and name-calling (well, it was just me. But I was very vocal), the BSB decided the Mace of Helstrum looked like something he didnt want to tangle with, and he declined in a gracious and cowardly manner. I lost combat by 1 and held, however my champion didnt make it it was just the BSB and Arch Lector left.

In my 4th turn the White Wolves finally engaged the Quarrellers, who had been watching their gradual approach since the first turn. More importantly, the Halberdiers managed to charge in to support my Arch Lector and BSB, although only a single file could reach to contribute. The Steam Tank shot a few Miners with its steam turret, but did nothing else. In combat, the White Wolves made short work of the Quarrellers and pursued the remnant into the waiting Cannon. The Dwarf BSB again declined to face my Arch Lector in honourable combat and skulked at the rear of the combat, no doubt contemplating his future career as a Slayer for such cowardly behaviour. Fortunately he didnt have to think about it for too long. The Dwarfs lost combat thanks to the support from the Halberdiers, broke and were run down. The Dwarf Master Engineer witnessed this and decided to depart, as his war machines were engaged by pursuing units.

Turn 5 saw the Miners step around the Steam Tank and try to charge the rear of the White Wolves using the magical propulsion of the Anvil, however it rolled a 1 and they went nowhere fast. Everything else was engaged, and the various war machines were crushed in combat, seeing the Arch Lector and BSB burst through and engage the Anvil itself! I had made it!

The final couple of rounds saw my Arch Lector mash the Runelord to a pulp with his mace (turns out the BSB was right about that weapon), however in 3 rounds of combat and with the supporting charge of the Warrior Priest from the Halberdiers, I still couldnt bring down the Anvil Guards. The final 2 rounds saw my Arch Lector wave the Mace of Helstrum around in an impressive and utterly ineffectual manner, whilst the BSB brought down one Guard, and the Warrior Priest arrived to cut down the other only to be denied by a Parry Save as the final act of the game.

I felt like I was lucky to emerge victorious from this game after the way it had started, and managed to steal an extra 150 VPs at the end by standing on one of the objective markers with my detachment, who had made no secret of their intentions from turn 1. It was the only objective that was claimed at the end of the game.

Result: 15-5

Game 2: Dawn Attack
Adam Gooley: Goblins
Game 2 table. I deployed along the bottom again
The match-up between this list and my own had concerned me slightly 6 Fanatics, 2 Mangler Squigs, 2 Doom Divers and my Knights sounded like a formula for disaster. It turns out I was right to be concerned…

The random deployment didnt really mess either of us up too badly, however it did see my Engineer deploy on the opposite side of the table from my war machines, and put my Steam Tank further from the action than I would have liked. I failed to steal the initiative (I didnt roll a 6), which meant the bombardment would commence before I got to move.

Adam opened by swinging around my flanks with his Wolf Riders, although the unit to my left squabbled. I was fine with this, since my war machines were stuck over on that side, largely unprotected. His Manglers advanced cautiously, being careful to avoid coming within march range of my infantry. His artillery opened in a generous fashion, missing everything by a wide margin (except my mortar, which was hit by a very errant Stone Thrower and lost a couple of wounds). Missing this badly was a solid effort, especially with 2 Doom Divers. Maybe I had a hope…

In my turn I advanced with the Halberdiers and their detachment, trying to get within range of the Manglers. My cavalry actually edged back slightly they had a Mangler heading straight for them with an evil expression on its ugly face. My Cannon knocked the Shaman off his perch on the back of the Arachnarok, as well as taking 5 wounds off the beastie. Not bad, hey? Thats how its done. My Mortar fired at the squabbling Wolf Riders that were eyeing it off, however it came from the same artillery school as the Goblin artillery and the shot sailed off the table. I tried to kill the advancing Mangler with Spirit Leech, however it was dispelled.

Turn 2 saw the Wolf Riders on my right charge the Engineer, who had been wandering around aimlessly without any artillery to fondle. He had tried to hide in some trees, however not enough Wolf Riders decided to ride face-first into them for a panic test, and he was cut down. The Mangler on my right advanced without coming within 8” of my infantry (curse it), whilst the other one surged forward and stopped 1 inch in front of both my Knight units… Good thing I moved backwards! Unfortunately the Goblin Artillery was more accurate this turn, and started to hammer by White Wolf Knights. I lost something like 10 cavalry to the incoming fire, which was enough to cripple the unit, and left my Wizard Lord and Arch Lector without the protection of Look Out Sir… The Pump Wagon managed to plow into the side of my Steam Tank, which had been swinging around the left flank as it advanced. The Tank was unharmed, however the impact nearly destroyed the greenskin contraption it was held together by a single Snotling, with a critical support in either hand and the steering wheel in his teeth.

In my turn I kept moving forward with the Halberdiers, whilst the Steam Tank generated some steam points and ground the Pump Wagon into kindling. It also fired its cannon out of combat (Adam hadnt realised I could do that oh well). The shot only knocked a single wound off a Goblin Chariot, but given it had been firing up the line of 3 of them, I could understand his concern. My Knights sat put and waiting for my Wizard Lord to deal with the Mangler, which she duly did with a convincing casting of Spirit Leech. The path was finally clear. My Cannon had another crack at the Arachnarok (which was lurking near the back of the table now), however I failed to hurt it this time. My Mortar was similarly ineffective, and with the Wolf Riders fast approaching, it was out of time…
Round 2 is underway
My memory of what happened in which turn is a little hazy at this point, so things will be a bit blurred.

The Goblin hordes ran out of patience. A unit of 3 Wolf Chariots plowed into the front of my Halberdiers, whilst the surviving Mangler Squig cut along the backside of the unit, chewing a hole through my unit. The main block of Night Goblins (which had been lurking back in the deployment zone) now advanced slightly and sent Fanatics toward my detachment, killing a couple and sending the rest fleeing. The Wolf Riders on my left charged, the Mortar, ready to overrun into the Cannon. The Goblin artillery fired again, but this time one of the Doom Divers imploded, which was helpful. Unfortunately it didnt save my Arch Lector, who caught a falling stone with his face and paid the price. In combat the Wolf Riders made short work of my Mortar and overran into the Cannon. The Wolf Chariots crashed into my Halberdier block with a vengeance, killing 13 with impact hits. The wolves of one Chariot then managed to lick my little Shadow Wizard to death in an overwhelming display of puppy affection. Driven by the hatred of the Warrior Priest, the Halberdiers fought back savagely and wiped out the Chariots before the crew could attack. They had won the combat, however they had inflicted fewer wounds than the enemy…

Things were looking a bit grim in my turn. The Steam Tank continued its advance, whilst the Inner Circle Knights finally entered the fray by advancing toward the remaining unit of Wolf Chariots. The Halberdiers had reformed toward the Night Goblin Archers who were still a way off, and headed in that direction. What was left of my White Wolf Knights turned to face the Wolf Riders who were lurking near my table edge after eating my Engineer. My Wizard Lord made grand threats of destruction in their general direction, then rolled a double 1 and failed to cast any spells.

The Night Goblin Archers stepped forward and sent Fanatics toward my Halberdiers, however most fell in between the units. The rest of the army largely sat back and watched the artillery do its thing. A stone descended from the heavens and dented the Steam Tank, taking a few wounds off. Another landed in the White Wolves and killed one of their number. Unfortunately this was enough for a panic test, and they hurtled from the table, with the cowardly Wizard Lord leading the way.

Things were not going well. I declared a charge on the Wolf Chariots (who I think had failed a charge themselves) with the Inner Circle Knights, but they elected to flee the charge. I also charged the Night Goblin Archers with the Halberdiers, however 2 Fanatics lay in their path. The resulting impact hits killed all by 8 models, however they completed their charge and plowed into the waiting Goblins. The combat that followed was ugly. The Halberdiers cut down several Night Goblins, only to be butchered to a man by their return attacks. This left only the Warrior Priest still standing. He hung around just long enough to cut the Goblin Shaman in half, then turned and fled. He did not run fast, however the pursuing Night Goblins did. In fact, they were so enthusiastic that they went through 2 Fanatics and a Mangler Squig wiping out everyone involved!

The Goblin Chariots rallied near the table edge, whilst the Trolls shambled forward to offer them support. The Arachnarok started to head for the corner of the table, trying to keep away from the Steam Tanks cannon. The artillery continued to rain down around the Steam Tank, however it remained somewhat operational. In the end the Trolls charged the Inner Circle Knights, however the Chariots failed their supporting charge and left the Trolls overmatched. They were cut down as they broke, leaving the Chariots exposed to a final charge which saw them destroyed. The Steam Tank survived, however it failed to wound the Arachnarok with a final shot of its cannon.

I had lost everything except the BSB, Inner Circle Knights and Steam Tank, but the Goblins still had most of their characters, the crippled spider, 3 of the war machines and both units of Wolf Riders. I had lost.

Result: 4-16

Game 3: Sealed Section (using Yordan Petrovskis Daemons)
Chris Cousens, using Haig McLiskys Empire
Game 3 table. I was up the top this time, with the Keeper hiding behind the house...
I had been looking forward to the “sealed section” of the tournament, where players were allocated another players army at random. Unfortunately I found myself using Daemons against an Empire army that seemed well positioned to deal with me. Chris is another Hampton player, however we havent actually played each other very often, and only once before had we met in a tournament.

My deployment was a bit of a mess. I was extremely worried about the 2 Cannons cleaning up my Keeper of Secrets, however I was also concerned by the presence of the Steam Tank when I really had nothing to deal with it. Having to commit most of my stuff before Chris placed the most important things didnt help either. I found myself with the Bloodletters facing off with the Tank the one thing I didnt want them trying to fight. Oh well, at least I got the first turn.

My Keeper should probably have spent all game hiding behind the big house on my left, however this would have been incredibly boring, so I swept around the left flank and tried to look menacing. I supported it with Screamers and my single Bloodcrusher, trying to make sure nothing got charged by one of the blocks of Knights up on the opposite hill. On my other flank the Fiends advanced quickly, heading for the Empire shooting units. My Bloodletters reformed and started to try to head across the table away from the Steam Tank. My Daemonettes tried to act less concerned and walked closer toward it. The Horrors went up the centre, looking to get within range of some spells. The Flamers were beside them. My first magic phase was a glorious 2 power dice, and rather uneventful. My shooting was likewise not ideal, with me having left half the Flamers out of range, and missing with the rest. It was not a glorious start.

Chris drove the Steam Tank up to block the advance of the Fiends, with some Pistoliers drifting further around to block my path around it. The Knights on the other flank reshuffled, with the Warrior Priest bearing Van Hortsmans Speculum moving to a position to threaten the Keeper. The rest of the army sat back and tried to pepper me. For some reason the BSB left the cover of the Swordsmen and moved across the lines. In the magic phase Chris killed a couple of my Flamers with an irresistible Fireball, and lost the spell and the Wizards magic level for his efforts. The Keeper managed to survive the incoming Cannon shots (I actually passed a ward save!)

I decided the best way to address the problem of the Steam Tank was to charge it in the flank with the Fiends. 16 attacks with a -2 save modifier were a reasonable chance to knock off a wound, and at least they would hold it in place for a short time. This was my only charge, as the Keeper swung further around the flank, into the enemy deployment zone. The idea was that I would have more charge targets, and if Chris wasnt careful he would make it hard to hit me with cannonballs. I would have charged, but I hadnt brought the Bloodcrusher up far enough to support it in a charge, which would have left me at the mercy of the Speculum. I was in trouble. 

The Fiends did nothing to the Steam Tank, which was bad. At least my magic went well. I rolled 12 power dice to compensate for my previous effort. It all averages out, right? I cast Throne of Vines and then hit the wandering BSB with Awakening of the Wood, killing him handily despite his armour. The nearby Handgunners duly panicked off the table. Unfortunately Chris dispelled Flesh to Stone on the Fiends, which would have slowed down the Steam Tank considerably.

Chris responded to the movement of the Keeper by leaving his unit with the Warrior Priest and standing directly in front of it, brandishing his annoying magic item in a mocking fashion. The Knights stepped forward, no longer concerned about the Great Daemon (which was blocked), and fancying their chances against the Bloodcrusher. The rest of his forces edged forward toward the Horrors, whilst the Steam Tank prepared to mash Fiends with its steam points. The remaining capable Wizard cast Final Transmutation at the Horrors, killing a handful of them and making the Flamers stupid. The Keeper then took 3 wounds from a Cannon shot, leaving him in dire trouble. In combat the Steam Tank left a couple of Fiends alive to swing at it uselessly again, before another died from instability it was not going quite as I had hoped.

After much agonising, I decided my best chance was to charge the annoying Warrior Priest. Unfortunately he passed his panic test, which meant I would be relying on magic to drop him before the combat phase. The Bloodcrusher charged the Knights whilst the Screamers arrived in the rear. It was not an ideal combat, but it could work. The Daemonettes charged the Crossbowmen at the end of the shooting line, hoping to gradually work their way along it. The Bloodletters swung around behind the Horrors in the hope of getting to some knights. My main hope for the magic phase was to throw as many dice as possible at Cacophonic Caress to do D6 S3 hits with no armour saves against the Warrior Priest it might have been enough to kill him. Unfortunately I rolled another abysmal power phase and didnt get the spell off. I then took another wound in combat with the Warrior Priest thanks to Van Hortsmans Speculum. I was doomed. The combat with the Knights went little better. I killed a Knight, they wounded both my units, I barely won combat and he held. I was in trouble there too. The Fiend flapped ineffectually at the side of the Steam Tank. At least the Daemonettes made short work of the Crossbowmen and turned to charge the first Cannon.

Chris army continued to shift towards my remaining units the Swordsmen and Inner Circle Knights were both now positioned to charge my Tzeentch units. His slightly depleted missile fire lacked any good targets and did little, nor did his magic. However, in combat the Knights finished off the Bloodcrusher and Screamers and turned to support his other units. The Keeper was more fortunate, fighting the slightly inept Warrior Priest to a standstill. The Steam Tank squashed the final Fiend and prepared to re-enter the battle.

In my turn the Daemonettes charged the burned-out Bright Wizard who had stepped over to slow my advance to the nearest Cannon. This was pretty much the sum total of my movement, with the Bloodletters still catching up to the rear of the Horrors. My magic phase was another fizzer, which meant my Keeper was pretty well doomed. The Warrior Priest woke from his stupor of the previous turn and cut it down convincingly. The Daemonettes did manage to handle the Wizard and carry on into the Cannon.

The still full-functional Steam Tank found itself within range of the rear of my Daemonettes and charged them. The Inner Circle Knights led by their Templar Grand Master came into the Flamers, then carried through into the Horrors. Meanwhile a fair number of the Bloodletters were turned into statues by another Final Transmutation. The Steam Tank worked its way quickly through the Daemonettes and their Herald, and my army was starting to look pretty thin.

The Horrors received the overrun of the Knights, so I decided to charge the Khorne Herald in and give them a hand. Apparently this was a mistake and the whole lot of us were pretty soundly spanked over a couple of rounds. All that remained was for my Bloodletters to charge the other unit of Knights, fail embarrassingly, and get killed. Game over, man.

Result: 0-20

Game 4: Sealed Section (Adam Gooleys Goblins)
Simon Turner: Chris Wilcoxs Ogres
Yep, back on the same table as game 1. I was at the top this time
The other round of the “sealed section”, and this time I found myself using the Goblins that had dealt with me so handily in the second round. Its not really my style of army, but at least I knew how it worked, and had seen it in action. I was up against one of the Ogre lists. Ill be honest with you here I hadnt gotten around to playing against an Ogre Kingdoms army since the book was re-released. I had read through it reasonably thoroughly however, so hopefully it wouldnt be a big problem. I was back on the table I played on for game 1, with several houses interfering with line of sight (and the paths of my chariots).

I found the deployment phase of the game particularly difficult here. I had a lot of units, many of which were dangerous but vulnerable. I also had to try to keep my general and BSB within range of as much important stuff as possible, keep the Fantatic units from sitting too close together (to save them from all being released by a single Sabretusk), etc. I also needed to try to shield my Arachnarok from wherever the Ironblaster was going to end up. Too much to think about. I took too long, and I still made mistakes. I put one unit of Wolf Riders on the left flank, with a Rock Lobber behind it. The Doom Divers were closer to the middle, still on the baseline. I wound up with both my Mangler Squigs on my left, followed by a Wolf Chariot unit, then the Night Goblin Archers. Then there was a house in the way. On the other side were the block of Night Goblins with the general, BSB and Shaman all in the one place. The Trolls were next to them, with the Arachnarok behind them. Next along the line was the other Chariot unit, followed by a small pond. On the other side were the Pump Wagon and the other unit of Wolf Riders (with Shaman). Behind the Wolves was the other Rock Lobber.

Despite all that stuff, I still had fewer deployments than the Ogres. This was frustrating at the time, but at least I would get the +1 for the first turn, which would be important. Unfortunately I lost the roll-off anyway. The Ogres had deployed the Ironblaster on my left, shielded from all but a single Rock Lobber by a large house. Behind that building was a unit of Leadbelchers. The line had a regular smattering of Gnoblars and Sabretusks. Toward the centre were the Bulls with the Butcher and Firebelly, and next to those were the Maneaters and the Ironguts led by the Slaughtermaster and BSB. They were supported by Leadbelchers, with the remaining unit of Leadbelchers anchoring the flank to my right. 

Once I had Vanguarded the Wolf Riders forward on either flank and lost the roll for first turn, the Ogres advanced, with the Leadbelchers behind the building moving into it. Magic was fairly uneventful, however the Ironblaster noticed that I had stuffed up and placed the Mangler Squigs in a position for one cannonball to hit them both. I lost one, however the other survived on a single wound. The Leadbelchers in the house shot at my Wolf Riders on the left, cruelling them and leaving them with only 3 models who panicked and headed back toward my table edge. They would rally and skulk behind a hill for the rest of the game. The other Leadbelchers all fired at the Chariot unit to my right, and I lost one to the shots.

For my turn, I decided to take a shot at the flank of the Leadbelchers to my right. If I could get in there, I might be able to roll up the flank. I needed an 11, however thanks to Swiftstride and a good roll, I managed it. Huzzah! My wounded Chariot unit failed a charge on some Gnoblars next to the now-engaged Leadbelchers, and the rest of my line edged forward. My little Shaman cast an irresistible Vindictive Gaze on the Leadbelchers in the centre, however I only did a single wound. I did manage to kill a few guys around the Shaman with the resulting explosion however, so he was not entirely impotent. My artillery was hopeless and missed everything. The Wolf Riders beat the Leadbelchers, however since they were within range of the general and BSB, they didnt care. They did fail to reform to face me though, which was critical for me.

In Simons turn I lost my remaining Mangler Squig to a Sabretusk, but frankly that had felt inevitable. The Leadbelchers in the centre entered a house in the middle of the table, whilst most other things continued their gradual advance. Magic continued to do little, and the Ironblaster misfired and spun on the spot like a large, ugly whirling top. The Leadbelchers continued to fire at my Chariots, however I somehow survived the worst of it (I think I lost another Chariot, leaving just one on my right). The unit engaged on the far right lost combat again to the Wolf Riders (both units had fought feebly in both rounds), and this time he broke. The Wolf Riders ran them down and crashed into the flank of the Gnoblars the Chariots had been eyeing off the previous turn.

In my second turn my remaining Chariot managed to make it into the front of the engaged Gnoblars, whilst the Trolls swung in and charged the house full of Leadbelchers in the middle. My Chariots on the left declared a charge on the flank of the Maneaters, however they decided that this would not be fun and fled. I failed to redirect. I moved up the rest of my stuff and prepared for a number of charges. The main event of the magic phase was a boosted Curse of the Bad Moon, sent by my Wolf-mounted Shaman through the Gnoblars in combat with him, and on through half the Ogre army. Half the Gnoblars died horribly, whilst several wounds came off the Ironguts and a couple of peripheral units. My shooting was marginally better this turn, however my Rock Lobber rolled a 1 to wound the Ironblaster, and the other shots landed in random locations, killing the odd model. The Gnoblars were thrashed in combat, and the single remaining model fled and died. The Wolf Riders pursued into a nearby Sabretusk, whilst the Chariot stopped next to the house. Inside that house, the Trolls and Leadbelchers destroyed the kitchen and most of the furniture, but despite winning handily, the Trolls were repelled by Steadfast.

In the 3rd turn the Ironguts in the centre declared a charge on my main Night Goblin block, however it proved a bit too far and they didnt make it. On my left some Gnoblars were more successful and charged the Chariot unit. Unfortunately for them they released some Fanatics from the Archers as they “closed the gate” on the combat, and copped 3D6 hits (hit by one and they stood on another). So much for their numerical advantage...

The Maneaters rallied and the Ironblaster continued its advance around the building on my left, getting a clear shot at the Arachnarok. Unfortunately for Simon it misfired again and wrecked the cannon. I think he managed to kill my little Shaman with Spirit Leech. He definitely cast Doom and Darkness on the Chariot unit engaged with the Gnoblars. This was not enough to help the Gnoblars however, and they were soundly beaten and run down. Alas, my pursuit took me into my remaining Fanatic, which smashed 2 of the Chariots and wounded the other. This resulted in me panicking and fleeing. I would lament being Leadership 3, but even on 6 I think I would have failed everything. 

I think both Gorgers turned up in turn 3 and sat right next to my Doom Divers, too close for them to turn and try to cover each other.

In my turn I bit the bullet and charged the front of the Ironguts with my big block of Night Goblins, led by my mighty (almost naked) Warboss and BSB. I charged into the rear with the Wolf Riders, who had made short work of the Sabretusk. I tried to charge into the flank of the combat with the Arachnarok, however the central house was very close and it was unclear whether we could pivot an already engaged target to allow me to close the gate, so in the end we diced for it and determined that I couldnt go in. In hindsight if Id gone first with the Arachnarok the unit wouldnt have been engaged… Silly me.

My Trolls charged the house again, whilst my Chariot and Pump Wagon lined up to threaten the rallied Maneaters behind the main Ogre line, whilst I failed to rally the fleeing Chariot and it kept heading for the hills. My shooting was unimpressive again and I didnt manage to get any spells off to help me in the critical face-off. In combat my Trolls again beat the Leadbelchers, however they barely survived and Steadfast saw them remain in the building. In the main combat, my Warboss and the Slaughtermaster faced off rather ineffectually in a challenge. My Goblins actually fought reasonably well all told, and won the combat handily against an admittedly depleted unit (there were only a couple of Ironguts left to accompany the BSB and Slaughtermaster). He wound up testing on Leadership 4, however he passed on the reroll. Curses!

At this point we were told that we had only 5 minutes remaining. Im not sure where the time went, however I suspect deployment took a long time, and I was not as fast as I needed to be with such a fiddly army. I dont remember Simon being especially slow with the Ogres, so I have to assume it was my fault. If that is the case then its only the second time in several hundred tournament games where Ive been to blame for a game not reaching its conclusion (obviously I bear emotional scarring, since I clearly remember the other), but I guess it happens to everyone. The next turn would have been critical, with the Maneaters looking at the rear of my engaged Wolf Riders, and the Chariot and Pump Wagon waiting to come in afterward. I would also have lost both Doom Divers to the Gorgers. Unfortunately there was no way we had time, and we had to call it there. Despite things being at a crucial juncture, neither of us had many Victory Points and the game was a draw.

Result: 10-10

Game 5: Blood and Glory
Chris Wilcox: Ogre Kingdoms
Game 4 table. I was on the far side
Game 5, and I had control of my Empire army once more. After the disappointment of only playing half a game with the Goblins (and being smacked about using Daemons), it was a slight relief to have my own army back. Maybe I was being punished for using armies other than Empire when the Year of the Empire had not yet finished?

So I had my army back, and I found myself facing… the same Ogres! They had also returned to their master, and were ready to have another go at me. The table had a forked river dividing parts of it and a tower in the centre. I got a hill in my deployment zone, so at least my artillery could have some fun before the Gorgers turned up to spoil the party. I put the Steam Tank on my left, and decided to swing to the left of the tower with my White Wolf Knights led by Arch Lector and Wizard Lord, with the Inner Circle Knights led by the BSB immediately left of them (not far from the Steam Tank). I swung around the right of the tower with my Halberdier horde led by the infantry characters. Dividing my forces like this was not ideal, but there wasnt really room for anything else.

The Ogres deployed fairly centrally with most of their stuff, however all the expendable units went down on my left, facing off with the Steam Tank. The only unit of note over there was the Maneaters. Unsurprisingly I got the +1 for finishing deployment first. Also unsurprisingly, I still lost the roll-off. Oh well.
The game in progress
The Ogres advanced with 2 units of Leadbelchers swinging around on my right side of the tower. They were followed by the Slaughtermaster and Firebelly, sitting in the Ironguts. Next to them, the main Bull unit containing the BSB and Butcher were a bit more circumspect, looking at the cavalry heading their way. The Maneaters stepped to within sniping distance of my Wizard Lord, discovering in the process that the river was a River of Light. They became immune to psychology for the turn as a result. The Ogre magic phase was unimpressive, however the Leadbelchers blew away my detachment and a few Halberdiers, whilst the Maneaters knocked a wound off my Wizard Lord and I lost a knight to more Leadbelchers. Disastrously, the Ironblaster blew itself off the table with a misfire. 3 misfires in 4 shots that thing had some serious reliability issues.

In my turn I advanced solidly across the line. The Steam Tank sloshed through the river, unharmed despite the waters casting Banishment on it. I found that I couldnt quite fit both units of Knights around the tower without the end of the Inner Circle Knights stepping into the water. This proved to be a problem, as they found themselves caught by Net of Amyntok. For my shooting I managed to blow away a Maneater with the Cannon, however I forgot they were immune to panic due to The Light of Battle from the river I had hoped to panic them off cheaply, since they were miles from the BSB and general. The Mortar missed its target, however the magic phase was impressive. My Wizard Lord cast an irresistible Purple Sun of Xereus, slaughtering a dozen Gnoblars and killing several Bulls from the BSBs unit. I generated lots of power dice, then lost them all due to the miscast, as well as wounding both my mages.

The Ogres decided that the Halberdiers posed a problem, so both units of Leadbelchers charged into their front. The Ironguts moved up behind them, whilst the rest of the army generally shuffled about and tried to make it harder for me to charge. Magic was pretty uneventful and the Maneaters took another pot shot at my Wizard Lord, however she passed a ward save and survived. In combat the Leadbelchers found themselves utterly outmatched by Halberdiers driven by the Warrior Priests hatred. Before the Ogres could attack, they found themselves reduced to a single wound on each unit. This demoralised them and they inflicted no damage, after which the Warrior Priest finished off one and the other was run down. The regiments pursuit carried it on into the front of the Ironguts, led by the Slaughtermaster and Firebelly. At the back of my lines a Gorger appeared and tried to sneak up on the Cannon.

In my turn the Steam Tank declared a charge on the Maneaters, who decided not to hang about and fled. It redirected into an annoying Sabretusk that had planted itself right in the face of the Inner Circle Knights, who had responded by failing their Strength test for Net of Amyntok and wasted the turn. The White Wolves surged across the table and hit the remaining Leadbelcher unit. My magic phase lacked the dazzle of the previous turn and I was prevented from healing the Wizard Lord with the Arch Lector. My Cannon had a crack at the BSB (he no longer enjoyed Look Out Sir because of the damage inflicted by Purple Sun), but I rolled a 1 to wound. The Mortar did nothing of note once more. 

In combat the Steam Tank made short work of the Sabretusk, as expected. My White Wolves likewise wiped out the Leadbelchers, but not before one of them whacked the Wizard Lord over the head and took her out of the game. The Halberdiers found themselves having to focus largely on characters, and in particular the Firebelly, whose breath weapon concerned them. They succeeded in bringing the fiery man down, but the rest of their attacks did little. They still won combat and broke the unit, however the Ogres longer legs meant they managed to get away. This meant my flank was exposed to the BSB and his Bulls…
Ogres in the flank! Ow, that hurts...
In turn 3 the Bruiser BSB did indeed lead his unit into the flank of my Halberdiers. The Gorger charged the Cannon, whilst the other arrived and headed for the Mortar. The Inner Circle Knights found themselves flanked by a unit of 3 Bulls, whilst they wasted time having a bath in the river. The Slaughtermaster rallied his unit and turned to face their pursuers. The Maneaters also rallied, whilst the various units of Gnoblars and Sabretusks floated about somewhat aimlessly. There was no shooting, however the Slaughtermaster managed to cast Bullgorger to boost the Strength of the Bulls and Doom and Darkness on the Halberdiers, making their plight far worse. In combat they failed their Fear test, and found themselves handily beaten. They were Steadfast, but they failed that test as well (in truth I failed both tests without the help of Doom and Darkness, but Ill blame the spell anyway). They then fled an impressive 4” and were smeared across the field by the pursuing Ogres, which took them well beyond the reach of the White Wolf Knights, who had been looking at their rear. The BSB stepped across to fight for the Inner Circle Knights and they emerged unscathed from the combat, turning to face their attackers at the end of the round.
The doggy swings around the tower, loyal men in tow.
The remainder of the game was fairly predictable. The critical elements of the Ogre army had managed to get themselves a long, long way from my cavalry. It took the rest of the game to finally get a successful charge off. The Steam Tank eventually caught the Maneaters and crushed them, before turning and driving back the other way to try for a long-range cannon shot at the BSB, which was unsuccessful. The Inner Circle Knights dealt with the Ogres they were fighting, then carried through into some Gnoblars and took care of those as well. The Gorgers ate the warmachines, and eventually caught up with the Engineer who had been running in circles and calling them names since their arrival.

In my final turn the White Wolf Knights finally brought the Ironguts to battle, however the Slaughtermaster had seen it coming and left the unit to its fate. The Ironguts were smashed and the battle was over. I had lost all but 2 of my characters, my war machines and my Halberdiers. Chris had lost the Ironguts, small unit of Bulls, Firebelly, Maneaters, Leadbelchers and sundry expendable units. Chris had rolled pretty poorly for most of the game, with the exception of a couple of key flee and pursue rolls. I had paid the price for splitting my forces around the tower, and was unable to fix the problem when the BSB was pinned for a turn by the Net of Amyntok. I had left the Halberdiers without support and whilst I nearly got away with it, it didnt work out. I should also perhaps have let the Slaughtermaster flee and turned to meet the incoming threat of the BSB and his Bulls. In a frontal engagement I could have taken them and then gone after the Slaughtermaster. Oh well, I got excited and made the wrong choice. In the end it as a minor win for me.

Result: 12-8

Game 6: Battleline
Peter Spiller: High Elves
Same table as game 2. This time I was at the top.
Pete is another player from Hampton, and its been a running joke that we played in the same tournaments all year, kept finishing in almost exactly the same spot, and never met. Well, in the last round of the last tournament of the year, this was about to change.

This game was always going to come down to one thing, really could he kill the Steam Tank with Purple Sun of Xereus? The Tank was in there specifically to address threats like the White Lions, which my Knights simply couldnt face. That spell was the only way he was really going to get rid of it. Would it happen? We shall see…

I deployed with the Steam Tank on my left flank, with the Inner Circle Knights next to them. Then there were the Halberdiers and their detachment, with the line anchored by the White Wolf Knights. Over in the right corner I put the Mortar, Cannon and Engineer. Pete placed the White Lions facing the Inner Circle Knights with the small Spearman block behind them, including the Archmage and BSB. Next to the White Lions were the Swordmasters, then an Eagle, the big Spearman regiment, another Eagle and his small White Lion unit. At the end of the line, an Eagle was looking at my artillery with his angry eyes.

I managed to get the first turn this time. That was a good start. I advanced fairly solidly (particularly with the White Wolf Knights heading for the Spearmen), however I tried to avoid any easy charges for those blenders the High Elves call their elite units. My magic consisted of me casting a boosted version of Soulblight, hitting almost every enemy unit with -1 to Strength and Toughness. The White Lions had the misfortune to be standing in a Blood Forest, which promptly whacked a couple and moved backwards through the Spearmen. I then landed the Mortar directly in the middle of the Swordmasters (with the help of the Engineer). I killed 13 of them, which was excellent. I also killed the Eagle that was eyeing off my artillery with a clinical Cannon shot. Nice to know these things work sometimes.

The Elves were cagey and shuffled back a bit, buying more time before the Steam Tank arrived. One of the Eagles landed directly in front of the White Wolf Knights to slow them down, whilst the small White Lion unit worked toward the units flank. Pete rolled a miserable magic phase and didnt get Purple Sun through my defences. Things were going remarkably well.

In my turn the White Wolves charged the Eagle right in front of them, whilst the rest of the line advanced cautiously. The Steam Tank only moved 6” it would put the White Lions in range without getting too close to the Purple Sun-wielding Archmage. Once again I managed to force a boosted Soulblight through, this time with irresistible force (which cost me a few White Wolf Knights in the resulting explosion). The Mortar landed smack in the middle of the large Spearman unit, killing 10 of them. The Cannon fired and wounded the remaining unengaged Eagle, however the Steam Tank fired its cannon and finished the birdie off. The combat phase saw the Arch Lector mash the Eagle with his Mace of Helstrum, and the unit reformed rather than overrunning, presenting their front to both the Spearmen and White Lions.

In Petes second turn, the Spearmen and small White Lion unit both declared charges on the White Wolf Knights, however the Spearmen failed the charge and left the White Lions to go it alone. Once again I managed to dispel Purple Sun of Xereus the Steam Tank was going to make it into combat! Even at Strength 5 the White Lions proved to be a real danger for the White Wolf Knights, killing a couple and wounding the Wizard Lord. They lost several of their number in return, but the combat continued.

In turn 3 the Steam Tank crashed into the front of the large White Lion regiment. The Inner Circle Knights moved closer to the depleted Swordmasters I figured 11 Knights plus a BSB could actually take a row and a bit of Swordmasters. The Halberdiers moved into a position to support the White Wolves in their imminent showdown with the big Spearman unit. This time I didnt manage to get Soulblight through Pete used the Sigil of Asuryan, however he failed to destroy the spell. My shooting was also less impressive than it had been. The Mortar landed in the middle of the Spearmen again and killed 9 or 10, however the Cannon misfired and blew up, despite the “expertise” of the Engineer. Seeing what he had done, he immediately panicked off the table, leaving the Mortar to its own devices. The White Wolves continued to struggle against the few remaining White Lions, and both units were down to a handful of models. On the other side of the field the Steam Tank had no such problems, and killed 8 or 9 White Lions without taking any damage in return.

Then came Petes third turn, and it all went horribly wrong. The Swordmasters declared the charge on the Inner Circle Knights and made it, and the Spearmen managed to charge in alongside the remnant of the White Lions to lend a hand against my White Wolf Knights. The Archmage and his unit of Spearmen behind the engaged White Lions made a couple of dainty shuffling moves, then unleashed the Purple Sun of Xereus with irresistible force. It travelled the full 30”, through the Steam Tank (killing it instantly) and all along the line of my newly engaged Inner Circle Knights, half of whom died. Eventually it clipped the Halberdiers and passed the detachment without much further damage. The Archmage took a wound, but the damage had already been done. Not only was the Steam Tank gone, but the chances of my Knights out-fighting the Swordmasters had evaporated. They lost the ensuing combat by 2, failed their break test with a reroll, and were run down after a pitiful flee roll. The Swordmasters surged out of the line of sight of the Halberdiers, who had been lined up for a flank charge. On the other side, the White Wolves fought bravely and finally killed the remaining White Lions, but were outdone by the Spearmen and fled. They at least escaped, however the Spearmen had also pursued out of sight of the Halberdiers. Curse their swift and dainty boots.

Well, it was turn 4 and the game no longer looked so rosy. The Arch Lector, Wizard Lord and 2 remaining White Wolf Knights managed to rally, and the Halberdiers reformed to have a good look at the flank of the Spearmen. In an act of desperation, the Shadow Wizard managed to knock the Spearmen down to WS1 with Melkoths Mystifying Miasma. It might give my unit a chance.

The Spearmen charged straight into my poor cavalry again, as you would expect. The Swordmasters swung around and headed toward my Halberdiers, whilst the White Lions started to advance into the battle now that the Steam Tank was dealt with. Magic was uneventful, however the Spearmen demonstrated that even with WS1, they were somehow a match for my unit. The White Wolf champion was cut down, leaving me with too few attacks to fight back effectively. I lost combat by 3, fled, was run down, and then the Halberdiers celebrated by rolling a 12 for their panic test, fleeing straight toward the Swordmasters.
Id seen enough. Everything was dead or about to die (in the case of the Halberdiers), and I had nothing left with which to fight. The game had ended in a massacre.

Result: 0-20

Total: 41 out of 120 battle points

The final standings. That's me in 14th place.
So there you have it, my Masters efforts in a (longwinded) nutshell. My results could have been better, but I still enjoyed myself and would happily attend again (should I happen to qualify). I said going into the event that I feared my army was not well suited to the types of opposition on offer, and to a certain extent that was true. The game against the Dwarfs turned out OK, but looked pretty dire to begin with. The Goblins were always going to be a problem with their Mangler Squigs if I am going to rely on Knights, I probably need to have something fast as well as expendable (ie Pistoliers). I had infantry to sit on the Squigs, but not the speed to get to them. We live and learn. The game against the Ogres was actually a good match-up for me in the end my units were a match for his, and could close quickly. Chris didnt utilise his expendable units in a way that would really have crippled me, and showed no interest in using Purple Sun to kill the Steam Tank. The final game was actually one I had pegged as an OK match. I knew the Steam Tank was in trouble, however I think the game was in a position I could still win it. The loss of the Inner Circle Knights and the BSB was what really ended the contest.

The sealed section was fun, although I did have a few issues. I didnt use the Daemons as well as I could have, and perhaps paid too much respect to the Steam Tank. It was not a great match-up for me, but it could have gone better. Wasting the Bloodletters by spending turns redeploying and allowing the Keeper of Secrets to be trapped in a corner was all poor play. I should have stepped out into the middle of the field with the Keeper and the Bloodcrusher together, realising that the Crusher was safe from shooting as long as the Greater Daemon was there to be shot. I could do it all much better with another try, but Im sure a lot of people feel the same way. The Goblin game was slightly frustrating for me it was not the sort of list I would choose to field, and I felt impotent when my artillery wasnt doing anything. I also feel really bad about running out of time so badly (Im still not sure where the time went), so that kind of spoilt the experience a little bit. Oh well, I could have played faster if I hadnt cared how the game went, but thats not what the Masters is about.

Twice in the last couple of tournaments (the last game here, and the second game in Axemaster), I have been involved in games that started off unexpectedly brilliantly for me. Everything was going right, and the game looked like it would be a walk in the park. Both times, the dice turned savagely on me and resulted in my getting pummelled. Clearly I should be concerned when things seem to be going a little too well. All good things must come to an end…

Speaking of which, this was the final tournament in my Year of the Empire. I used the Empire in 5 tournaments throughout the year, and ended up with the following record overall (not counting the 2 games here where I did not use Empire):

Wins: 19
Draws: 1
Losses: 10

Being at the Masters at all was an unexpected surprise (it certainly wasnt the plan going into this project), and was a fun way to cap off a good year. I dont know what Ill be using next year, however as I have mentioned previously, much of my painting effort will probably continue to go into this army. I now have an Empire army, and I like it.

NOTE: I have stolen most of these pics from the WargamerAU thread being updated by the tournament organisers, Trip and Stom The Mighty. Thanks guys!

1 comment:

  1. For future reference, there IS an Anti Podium. Or there is as far as I am concerned. And it's pretty hard to knock me off it!