Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Cancon 2012 Aftermath: Part 2

This is continued from Part 1 of my tournament report, which covered the first day of the 3 day tournament...

So, coming out of day 1 I had a rather miserable total of 18 battle points. At least that combined with my 7 points per round of comp to give me a total of 39 – that sounded much better. I also hoped that day 2 would feel less frantic, as I no longer had to worry about the tournament getting underway successfully and would hopefully have more time. Of course, then we arrived slightly later than we would have liked (we were all distracted by a movie-length episode of Thomas the Tank Engine being watched by my 2 year old son), so the start of the day was busy anyway…

Game 4: Blood and Glory
Adam Bishop - Vampire Counts

Vampire Lord with Red Fury, Dark Acolyte, 2+ armour save, 4+ ward, Sword of Anti-heroes (Level 4 Lore of Vampires)
BSB Wight King with Dragonhelm, Potion of Strength, 6+ Regeneration
Necromancer with Black Periapt
Necromancer with Dispel Scroll, Ironcurse Icon
37 Skeletons with full command, Hellfire Standard
34 Ghouls with ghast
26 Grave Guard with great weapons, full command, Royal Banner of Strigos (hatred)
Terrorgheist with bat infestation thingy
Corpse Cart

The new Vampire Counts book had just been released in the last couple of weeks, so it was too late for it to be used in Cancon. Adam was the one brave soul who decided to bust out the old Vampires for a last hurrah. Given the problems with the old list, I felt this was a fairly courageous decision.

The table had a fairly large hill on either side and a couple of houses. My deployment zone gave me a hill for some of my missile troops slightly left of centre, however there was a house slightly right of centre that divided my lines. I placed my Crossbowmen on the hill, with the White Wolves to their left. Also on the hill were the Cannon and Mortar, along with the Engineer. It turned out all they were facing was a single Varghulf who then skulked behind another house as it approached my Volley Gun, which was on the ground in my centre, behind an obstacle attached to the house in my line. To the right of the house I put the Halberdiers along with the Swordsmen and Wizards. On my far right was the Inner Circle Knights. This time I decided to stack all 3 mounted characters into the unit, to give it a fighting chance and ensure I had leadership where I needed it.

My relatively stacked flank was in response to how Adam was deploying – almost his entire force had gone down behind the large hill that was sitting near the front of his deployment zone, on my right flank. Apart from the lone Varghulf in the centre, everything went behind the hill. From the centre, he had the Ghouls, then the Skeletons and the Grave Guard, with the Terrorgheist on the end. The Necromancers decided to float loose for some reason just behind the units, and the remaining Varghulf and Corpse Coat drifted around as well. The Vampire Lord started in the Skeletons along with the BSB.

Adam got the first turn and decided to advance (I think this was a change from an original plan to hide from my ranged attacks). The Varghulf in the centre found he could use the house to get about 15” from my Volley Gun, with none of my other shooting able to see it. The infantry moved up onto the hill and the Terrorgheist flew at maximum speed to sit hard on my right-hand table edge in front and to the right of the Inner Circle Knights. Magic was relatively uneventful, and the big beastie shrieked at my Knights and killed a couple, then waited for my reaction.
Large, grumpy and it has a terrible singing voice
In my turn I decided to charge the Terrorgheist with my Knights and all the characters – I figured I could kill it easily enough and would be safest off the table and re-entering in the enemy’s flank (assuming they kept advancing past my point of entry, which seemed likely). I had forgotten the Terrorgheist could stand and shoot (apparently it won’t be able to now in the new book), and it killed a couple more Knights. Oh well. My Halberdiers advanced next to the house with the Swordsmen behind them. The White Wolves swung around in front of the second house (behind which the Varghulf was hiding) and prepared to counter-charge.

In the magic phase I threw Chain Lightning at one of the rather rash Necromancers, who then compounded his error by trying to stop a 20+ roll on 4 dispel dice rather than using his Dispel Scroll. This mistake cost him his life, however Adam was fortunate I didn’t roll a couple of 3+ rolls, or the lightning would have walked into the other Necromancer as well. The Cannon did nothing much, although I killed 10 Grave Guard with my Mortar. The Terrorgheist was utterly outclassed in combat and crumbled, and as predicted my Knights made the minimal roll required to head off the table, triumphant. Unfortunately they took my general’s leadership and BSB reroll with them…

The Varghulf behind the house predictably charged my Volley Gun, which had fired at it the last turn for a total of 0 wounds. There were no other charges, but the undead lines continued their advance. The other Varghulf swept around on the right flank, looking to cause mischief. Magic saw me stretching to stop multiple attempts at Vanhel’s Danse Macabre, but I managed to stave it off. 

The Varghulf devoured the Volley Gun crew with ease, however it decided not to overrun and instead reformed to face the approaching White Wolves. Unfortunately I think this was what panicked my Halberdiers as they readied themselves to fight the oncoming enemy infantry. They fled across my lines to get away from the horror that was the sounds of the Volley Gun crew being eaten messily, and on the way they ran through the Swordsmen and Wizards who decided to leg it as well. Thankfully both units rallied immediately in my turn, but my lines were messed up.

The White Wolves charged the Varghulf in the centre as my infantry rallied, with the Halberdiers turning their backs to the Varghulf on the right table edge in order to face the main body of troops. The General and his friends re-entered the table and eyed off the flank of the Grave Guard, along with various other units including the surviving Necromancer. My magic was uninspiring, so I moved onto shooting. The Crossbowmen managed to gun down the Corpse Cart as it advanced in the shadow of the Ghouls – their flaming attacks had finally found something with Regeneration! My Mortar once again landed in the Grave Guard and dropped a number of them, however the Vampire Lord was still in the unit, making it too tough for my units to tackle. The Cannon tried to drop a shot on the Varghulf right behind the Halberdiers, however even with an Engineer’s reroll the small legal target made the shot too difficult and they fired off the table.

In combat the White Wolf charge was hindered by their failing a fear test, meaning they would need 5s to hit. They lost a couple of their number, however they won combat by virtue of their musician. Unfortunately their flank was facing the oncoming Ghouls…
Seeing the plight of the White Wolves, the Ghouls rushed into their flank with unseemly enthusiasm. The Varghulf behind the Halberdiers charged them as well, whilst the Grave Guard and Skeletons both chose to turn to face (and trap) the returned Inner Circle Knights. I managed to stave off a couple of charge attempts in the magic phase, but the Knights were in big trouble – both units were too tough for them to charge and hope to break through.

In combat the White Wolves fought slightly more bravely than they had in the previous turn – perhaps they realised their complacency had cost them. They hacked down a number of Ghouls as well as forcing a couple of saves from the Varghulf, however it was not enough and they were broken and run down. The missile troops on the hill were now defenceless. On the right flank the Halberdiers were well beaten by the Varghulf however they were testing on Steadfast Ld9 with a reroll, so they held and turned to face the beast.

Things were starting to go pretty badly for me in this game. Seeing my remaining Knights were doomed and not wishing to join them in their fate, the Warrior Priest charged from the unit into the flank of the remaining careless Necromancer. The General and BSB went the other direction, scooting through the gap between the two oncoming undead units. My remaining elements moved little, realising their situation was futile. A number of shots managed to kill some Ghouls, however it was not going to make any difference without real combat support. Over the remaining couple of turns I lost the Cannon and the Engineer and Crossbowmen panicked and fled, but managed to rally (I think).

Magic had little effect on the rest of the game. My Warrior Priest cut down the Necromancer before riding off into the sunset. The General escaped any further combats and instead hung about to offer his inspiring presence to his troops. Despite this, the Halberdiers managed to again lose combat to the Varghulf and decided to break. This allowed the Varghulf to chase them down and carry on into the rear of my BSB (I really thought I had that combat covered). Fortunately the BSB was tough enough to fend off the villain, but even a rear charge from my Swordsmen was not enough to convince the thing to lay down and die. The Inner Circle Knights died horribly, hacked down to a man by the Vampire whilst his ghoulish minions offered encouragement by doing nothing at all.

The game actually ran out of time, which should not really have happened. In the end it cost my opponent points, as I was unlikely to do much to recover my position without my best units, whilst I still had units in vulnerable positions. Oh well. It could have gone better. 

Result: 7-13 Loss

Game 5: Meeting Engagement
Andrew Keft – Chaos Dwarfs

Chaos Dwarf Lord on Great Taurus with 1+ armour save and +1 strength
Bull Centaur Lord with great weapon, heavy armour, Dragonhelm, Luckstone
Chaos Dwarf Hero with Black Hammer of Hashut, heavy armour, shield
Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer with Dispel Scroll (Level 2 Lore of Fire)
Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer (Level 2 Lore of Death)
20 Chaos Dwarf Warriors with full command, heavy armour, great weapons
22 Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses with full command, heavy armour, shields
6 Hobgoblin Wolf Riders with light armour, short bows
5 Hobgoblin Wolf Riders with light armour, short bows
25 Goblin Spearmen with spears, shields
10 Orc Arrer Boyz with light armour, bows
Death Rocket
Death Rocket
Bolt Thrower
Bolt Thrower
Earthshaker Cannon

10 Bull Centaurs with full command, heavy armour, great weapons, Banner of Swiftness
Cancon was still using the Ravening Hordes rules for Chaos Dwarfs due to the timing of the release of Tamurkhan and the fact that none of us had seen a copy (in fact we got to really read through it for the first time in the car on the way up). In some ways it was surprising that anyone would still choose to use the list under the circumstances, however Andrew persisted and here he was. I think this was only the second time I had played against the list since it was released around 10 years ago, so it was still all a bit novel. Unfortunately Andrew had barely played a game of 8th edition before the tournament, so the whole event promised to be something of a learning experience…
Ah, it takes you back. Andrew's was more painted than this, though...
The scenario was Meeting Engagement, which meant we both had to sweep through our lists and roll to see which elements would start the game in reserve. I had my Mortar and Crossbowmen neglect to turn up at the start, whilst Andrew had the same problem with a Death Rocket, Sorcerer and both greenskin infantry regiments. I set up first and ended up getting the first turn as a result. The corner I chose meant that the narrow end of my deployment zone was on my left, with the deep end on my right. A large hill with a tower were in the centre, however the only unit that might have used that was in reserve. I set the White Wolves immediately to the right of the tower, with the Inner Circle Knights to the right of them. Left of the tower were the Halberdiers, with the Swordsmen taking their habitual position behind them. The Cannon, Helblaster and Engineer all set up to the left of this, in the narrow end of the zone. 

Andrew setup his Wolf Rider units on my left, threatening my artillery. With them was a Bolt thrower. On a hill in his centre (and behind a fluffy tree which shielded them from my Cannon’s field of vision) were a Death Rocket and the Earthshaker. Behind the hill (and still in the centre, however well back from the front line) were both units of Chaos Dwarf infantry, the Lord on Great Taurus and the Bull Centaurs, preparing to sweep around the hill toward my Halberdiers. Over on my right (almost at the extreme pointy end of his deployment zone) Andrew placed the remaining Bolt Thrower.

I started the game by declaring a charge on the lone Bolt Thrower with the Inner Circle Knights, however I rolled pitifully for the charge and shuffled forward 3”. I had no other charges, however I advanced with my infantry and White Wolves, whilst the Crossbowmen moved onto my far left to address the Wolf Rider problem and the Mortar joined the other artillery behind the main line. My Cannon shot the Bolt Thrower on my left, which panicked the closest Wolf Rider unit off the table. It was a solid start.

The Bull Centaurs decided they fancied a go at my Halberdiers and charged straight into them, whilst the Great Taurus floated along behind to shout encouragement. The remaining Wolf Riders on my left turned feisty and declared a charge on my Crossbowmen (not Andrew’s choice – they had a mind of their own thanks to animosity). I shot a couple on the way in and dealt summarily with the rest in combat. The Goblin Spearmen and Arrer Boyz appeared toward the centre of the Chaos Dwarf table edge, whilst the late Doom Rocket settled in behind the artillery hill. The Chaos Dwarf infantry advanced behind the charging Bull Centaurs, however their stumpy legs didn’t take them very far.

The magic phase was pretty uneventful, however the Earthshaker managed to kill a White Wolf Knight and shake both units of my cavalry and my Halberdiers, halving their movement for the next turn. The combat phase was not a good one for the evil stunties, alas. The Bull Centaurs had to wait for my Halberdiers to show them how to fight. The demonstration saw half of the Bull Centaurs die, and their return attacks were uninspiring. They fled and were run down, and the Lord on Great Taurus decided that it would be a good time for him to leave also (Ld 10, but no BSB). He flew over the unit of Chaos Dwarf Warriors, who realised something was not as it should be and also fled, passing through the Blunderbusses and off the table. At least they didn’t flee, but the damage was done. The heart of the army had just folded. A well positioned BSB could have held all 3 units in place, but there was none in the army.

By my turn 2 the game was already well in hand. The Halberdiers advanced toward the enemy positions around the hill, whilst the White Wolves headed for the newly arrived greenskins. This time the Inner Circle Knights managed to get their horses up to a canter and charged the Bolt Thrower on the flank. The crew succumbed as expected and they reformed facing the side of the Goblins, which was exposed after the Arrer Boyz panicked and left. My magic phase saw me cast Comet of Cassandora for the first time in the tournament, in between the artillery on the hill. Even a 2” radius would see it hit both, so I was happy with that.

Andrew managed to convince his Lord to turn around and rejoin the fight, which was about the first thing that had gone right for him in the game. The Blunderbusses swung around to face the Halberdiers and gave them a blast, killing about 10 of them but failing to make them panic. The artillery continued to target my White Wolves, and I think I lost another 1 or 2. The comet continued to descend, getting bigger and angrier as it did so.

In my turn the Goblin Spearmen copped the full force of both Knight units hitting them in the front and side, and were nearly wiped out. The remainder broke and were run down, which saw my Knights advance along the line, closer to the Blunderbusses. Because I am an utter kill-joy I decided to cast another Comet of Cassandora, this one further back towards the late-arriving Death Rocket and the remaining Chaos Dwarf forces.

In the Chaos Dwarf turn, both of the Comets crashed to earth in rather spectacular fashion. The Earthshaker and Death Rocket on the hill were obliterated by a wall of Strength 7 hits, whilst the one further back was damaged but survived the newer and weaker comet. Unfortunately the Blunderbusses were less fortunate and went to pieces. They lost a huge chunk of the regiment and the rest failed their Ld 10 panic test and departed the field. In keeping with how the rest had gone, really.

The remainder of the game saw the Lord on his Great Taurus plow into the front of the Halberdiers, only to find how frustrating it is to be trapped in a series of challenges by champions and Warrior Priests when you don’t have enough attacks at the same initiative to really rack up overkill. I think the Great Taurus got to swing once; it never got to Thunderstomp. Eventually the White Wolves arrived in the flank and the combat turned too far against him. He turned to run, only to be ridden down by the Knights. It was over.

I find games such as this one always tend to leave me feeling a bit mean. Someone who is not a regular player is always going to be fighting uphill against a tide a gaps in their rules knowledge and a lack of practice in making it all work. The list was not strong and the absence of a BSB made things even worse – it was very susceptible to a few bad tests (which Andrew pulled out spectacularly). I wonder if the comp panel even noticed that there was no BSB when they were scoring the list. I know I missed it when I was looking at the list, and the end result was probably a list that was softer than mine. 

Result: 20-0 Win

Game 6: Battleline
Andrew Primrose - Tomb Kings

High Queen Khalida
Liche High Priest on skeletal steed (Level 4 Lore of Nehekhara)
Tomb Prince with Dragonbane Gem, great weapon
Tomb Herald with shield
Tomb Prince with Ironcurse Icon, great weapon
Tomb Prince in Chariot with Dragonhelm, Seed of Rebirth, Other Trickster’s Shard, great weapon
33 Skeleton Archers with standard, musician
9 Skeleton Horse Archers with full command
6 Chariots with full command
21 Tomb Guard with full command
21 Tomb Guard with full command
Casket of Souls

I had only played once against Tomb Kings since the book came out, so this game was going to be something of a learning experience for me. However I have flicked through most of the rules and Andrew didn’t have a lot of tricks such as tunnelling units, so it probably wasn’t going to be too much of a shock.
Turns out Khalida is not so scary in person
The table had a tower in the centre, with a forest a few inches away on my left. There was a large hill next to that, but nothing ever went near that side of the table.  On the right side of the table there was another large hill planted in the Tomb King deployment zone, and a couple of minor obstacles in the very corner on my side. I deployed the Cannon in the middle of these obstacles, with the White Wolves to their left. Next to them were the Inner Circle Knights – both units were staring directly at the massive hill in the enemy deployment zone. There was a gap in the centre, followed by my Volley Gun and Halberdiers, with the Swordsmen behind. The Halberdiers were aiming to swing around the left of the tower. The Mortar and Engineer were to the left of my line, looking through the forest next to the tower.

Andrew placed the Skeleton Archers with Khalida, a Tomb Prince and the Tomb Herald in the unit on the hill, 18 models wide to ensure everyone could shoot. Behind the hill and hard against the right table edge were the Chariots led by their Tomb Prince. Next to them (and still off the hill) were the Casket of Souls and the Liche High Priest, along with the Horse Archers the Priest intended to join ASAP (he would have deployed in them, however being scouts, they go down after he does). To the left of the hill were the 2 blocks of Tomb Guard, one of them containing the remaining Tomb Prince.

I got the first turn, and didn’t waste a lot of time messing about. The Knights all went straight toward the huge archer unit, as fast as their horses would carry them. The Helblaster moved up behind the tower, using it as a shield from some of the enemy shooting. The Halberdiers and Swordsmen advanced toward their immediate opposition – the Tomb Guard. My shooting phase saw me kill a few Tomb Guard and a couple of Skeleton Archers, but the main key to my phase was casting Iceshard Blizzard on the Archers, effectively knocking them back to 5+ to hit instead of the 4+ Khalida had boosted them to.

There was little movement from the Tomb Kings, with the main shift being one unit of Tomb Guard turning to face down the front of the Archers – clearly they were expecting trouble. The magic phase was a massive 12, which was a problem. I managed to prevent the archers from firing twice using Ptra’s Righteous Smiting, but I could not prevent them getting a 5+ ward save from Neru’s Protection and killing blow thanks to Djaf’s Cursed Blades, nor could I prevent my White Wolves from dropping to Strength and Toughness 2 from Usekhp’s Dessication. I did save enough dice to stymie the Casket, but it felt like a pretty painful magic phase. Thankfully the shooting phase was not as bad as it could have been, and the White Wolves only lost a couple of models to the hail of shots from the Skeleton Archers.

My turn saw me declare a charge with both units of cavalry, however the White Wolves rolled abysmally (I think I needed a 6 with Swiftstride) and failed to make it. The Inner Circle Knights were going to have to do it alone. My Halberdiers continued their advance. In the magic phase I managed to get Harmonic Convergence off on the engaged Knights, which was good – they were going to need it. My shooting did little, and it was on to the combat phase. My Knights passed their fear test and the Warrior Priest bravely issued a challenge that Khalida accepted. Her attacks were underwhelming and she found herself biffed in the face by the horse before being cut down mercilessly by the Warrior Priest’s great weapon (I was pretty lucky there). I lost maybe 3 Knights to the wall of killing blow attacks directed at them, however I did at least 8 wounds in return and won the combat handily. A few more skeletons dropped off the back of the unit, but the reinforcements were on their way. 

The Inner Circle Knights were charged in the right flank by the Tomb King Chariots and in the left by the Tomb Guard and Tomb Prince who had turned to face their direction the previous turn. It looked like a tough day in the office for them, even with their rerolled 1s. The Horse Archers and Liche High Priest moved around from behind the Archers to fill the gap just left by the charging Tomb Guard, next to the other regiment which was waiting patiently and watching the advancing Halberdiers. Magic saw the Skeleton Archers retain their 5+ ward saves and the killing blow shift to the newly arrived Tomb Guard. Then the combat began. The Chariots crashed into the flank of the Knights, but only managed to bring down a single Knight, as their armour saves came to the fore. The Tomb Guard struggled to roll the 5s they needed to land killing blows, but ultimately the combined attacks of 3 Tomb Princes took their toll. At the end of the round of combat only the unit champion survived, and as he turned to flee his horse tripped on a Chariot and he tumbled to his doom (stupid dangerous terrain tests). The Chariots and Tomb Guard restrained pursuit and turned to face my White Wolves, however the Archers momentarily forgot themselves and tried to pursue, putting them side-on in the gap between the two reformed units. Alas, it was a gap too narrow for my cavalry so they were safe.

In my turn I chose to charge the Chariots, despite the potential counter-charge from the Tomb Guard. My infantry continued their advance, but they were still not close enough to charge. My magic phase saw it be my turn to roll up a fistful of dice, and the Tomb Kings were made to pay. The White Wolves received Harmonic Convergence although the Liche High Priest tried and failed to prevent it. Worse was to come, as I found myself with a pile of dice and a number of options. In the end I went for the unlikely, high-reward play (in other words, the poor option). I cast Final Transmutation on the Horse Archers and was rewarded by a single dead Skeleton, and (of course) the Liche High Priest. I was rewarded for me poor play and the Tomb King army started to crumble. Of course, with Tomb Princes everywhere, the only unit that really suffered for the rest of the game was the remaining Horse Archers, who perished within a couple of turns.

In combat my White Wolves comprehensively beat the Chariots and wound up with just the Tomb Prince facing them, in a challenge with my BSB who took a wound thanks to the Other Trickster’s Shard making him reroll his ward save. I had removed the chariots, but I had not broken through.

The Tomb Guard and Skeleton Archers both charged into the flank of my White Wolves, engaged as they were with the remaining Chariot. The Tomb Guard on the left decided to back away from my Halberdiers – they foresaw bad things when they were outnumbered 3 to 1 (the Mortar was wearing them away). The Casket used all available dice to try to shriek at my Volley Gun, but I managed to stop it. The combat saw my Knights lose combat, although not as badly as you might expect. The BSB and Tomb Prince continued their challenge, but despite me changing my focus to the Chariot, neither of us made much progress. I lost the combat without losing many models, but Stubborn held me in place.

Over the next couple of rounds my Knights continued to slug it out with the 3 units. I lost a wound off my General and the occasional Knight, and the Tomb Prince lost his Chariot. Eventually I sent in a rescue party – my Crossbowmen, of all things. Greatest of combat units, they were the only ones who could get there in time to make a difference. They charged into the flank of the Tomb Guard with crossbows held high and an apparent disregard for their safety. The Halberdiers eventually caught up with the retreating Tomb Guard and made short work of them, but they were too far from the other combat to help. 

The arrival of the Crossbowmen swung the pivotal combat in my favour. It resulted in the (ex-)Chariot Tomb Prince crumbling with a horrible wail that apparently disturbed nobody much, and allowed my cavalry to reform to face the infantry. Eventually with a boosted version of Harmonic Convergence the combat went dramatically my way and the remaining resistance crumbled, but not before a pair of Skeleton Archers realised they had been holding their bows the wrong way round, and clubbed my General to death (2+ armour and 4+ ward saves notwithstanding). Aww yeah.

In a final act of defiance the Casket of Souls finally managed to force its way past my magical defences and shrieked at both of my Wizards (who had left their unit to get closer to the combat, but both passed their tests thanks to the BSB reroll) before targeting my remaining White Wolves and wiping them out – only the BSB survived.

I had lost my Knight units, mounted Warrior Priest and General, but I had killed everything except the Casket. The game had been a testament to the resilience of Knights, even if they had paid the ultimate price. 

Result: 16-4 Win

So at the end of day 2 I had 3 wins and 3 losses. It was a vast improvement on day 1 and I left the venue less regretful about my choice of army. It had fought bravely (mostly). Only 2 games left on day 3…

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