Monday, 9 July 2012

Convic 2012 Aftermath: Day 1

Well Convic is over, and I survived the experience once again. Unfortunately I woke up on the morning of the first day with only half a voice, and that deteriorated over the course of the weekend. I was probably lucky that my final opponent could hear me at all, or I would have been forced to resort to holding up numbers of fingers and various obscene gestures.

As I've already discussed, the tournament was a final opportunity for me to try out my ETC list and confirm that it actually performs adequately before lists are locked in on the 17th. It was also the first time I had used an army from the new Empire book in a competitive environment, so it was all going to be a bit interesting. As usual, I'll give a bit of a run-down of how each game went. I'll try to remember what each opponent had in their lists. One day I will be organised enough to remember to take photos and all the rest, but sadly that was not to be this time.

As with my Cancon report, this is really too long to go into a single post so I am splitting it up into the 2 days. So games 4-6 will be covered in the next post.
Anyway, on with the show...

My Empire army
I have posted my army list before, but here is a picture with the characters all in the Inner Circle Knight unit as they were in all the games. So this is what my opponents were seeing. For the record, I hate the "all eggs in one basket" approach to making lists. If this wasn't an ETC list, I would never have considered it.
My Empire army for Convic 2012

Game 1: Blood and Glory
Jonathon Powell, Vampire Counts.

Vampire Lord L4 with Quickblood, Red Fury, 3+ armour, 4+ ward, Fear Incarnate
Vampire L2 with 4+ ward, Fear Incarnate
Vampire L1 with 2+ armour, great weapon, Fear Incarnate, Aura of Dark Majesty
50 Skeletons with command
50 Skeletons with command, Screaming Banner
23 Zombies
20 Grave Guard with command
6 Crypt Horrors
Corpse Cart
Mortis Engine

Comp score: 3

I've still only played a few games against the current Vampire Counts book, and Jonathon's army was a very different build from the ones I had encountered thus far. Looking at the list, it was straight away apparent that the army was based around me failing fear tests. Fear Incarnate makes you reroll successful fear tests (or cancels the BSB reroll), and it was everywhere. However, the army also lacked any real armour penetration. My list was laden with 1+ armour saves, and it was going to be hard work to get any real amount of wounds past that. Between that and my Steam Tank and Demigryphs not caring about fear, it looked like a pretty good match-up for me. Fortunately for me, all of the characters were using the Lore of Vampires; had one of them been using Lore of Death, the Blood and Glory scenario could have been a very short ride with only 2 banners and the a general with no ward save...

In what turned out to be a recurring theme for the entire tournament, there was a building smack in the centre of the table. I understand that each table would need a building there for Watchtower, but feel it would have been better to move them for the other scenarios. Anyway, it meant that the lines would be split by the building. Jonathon put his Skeleton hordes in the centre, although they would obviously have to split around the building. The unit on my right had the Lord and level 2 Vampire, and the other Vampire went in the unit to my left. The Corpse Cart and Mortis Engine went behind these regiments. On my far left he put the Crypt Horrors, out of range of the Mortis Engine (which surprised me). The Grave Guard went on my right of the Lord's Skeletons, and then the Zombies were to the right of that, with a swamp anchoring their flank.

I deployed a small unit of Knights on my far left, followed by Demigryphs. The artillery and Steam Tank were in the centre, and to the right of them were the main Inner Circle Knight block with my characters, followed by my other Demigryphs. The second small Knight unit was on the far right of the line, near the table edge.

I got the first turn and advanced on the left flank with the Demigryphs sitting at a questionable charge range for the Crypt Horrors, with the Knights preparing to swing around along the table edge. The Knights on the far right also advanced hard, heading for the flank of the enemy army. The centre of the army remained pretty static, although the Steam Tank rumbled forward and lined up a shot at the Mortis Engine, which passed its regeneration. The Volley Guns opened up on on the Skeletons to my left and killed 17 (I think). The Cannon blew itself up, because that's what all the cool kids do. I killed 5 Grave Guard with Chain Lightning and cast Iceshard Blizzard on the Crypt Horrors. Despite this, they decided to charge the Demifgryphs and made the roll, so in they went. The rest of the lines didn't move a whole lot, although the Skeletons next to them moved about a bit in anticipation of that combat not going ideally. The Vampire Lord got excited casting Gaze of Nagash on my unengaged Demigryphs and miscast. No Demigryphs were harmed in the making of this spell, but 17 Skeletons got exploded and the Vampire himself only avoided an unseemly demise on a 4+. The combat between the hexed Crypt Horrors and Demigryphs went predictably poorly for the undead, and only 2 of 6 remained for the second round.

My second turn saw both small cavalry units swinging further around the enemy flanks. The Demigryphs on my right moved close enough to threaten to charge most of the enemy without being in danger themselves. The Steam Tank drove as fast as possible toward the Skeletons on the left, going just far enough to shield the Demigryphs from their imminent charge. The Volley Guns split their fire, dropping a handful more Skeletons and another 5 Grave Guard. The Demigryphs killed the rest of the Crypt Horrors and reformed facing the now-blocked Skeletons. For their part, the Skeletons shuffled sideways a bit to get past the Steam Tank. Everyone else shuffled a bit, but didn't do a lot. Magic didn't do a lot, so it was my turn again.

The Demigryphs charged the waiting Skeletons whilst the Steam Tank hammered into the flank. The knights on that left flank kept on sweeping further around the flank. One day they would be useful. On the right, the Demigryphs went into the Zombies whilst the Knights charged into their flank to support. Or rather, they tried. 2 of them drowned in the pond on the way in and the rest buggered off heroically. So much for support. I cast a boosted Harmonic Convergence which affected nearly everything, and my Volley Guns tried to dent the Mortis Engine and Corpse Cart for a couple of wounds on each. The Demigryphs on the left took a couple of wounds from the Vampire's great weapon, but lost every last Skeleton he was leading. He was left all alone, trying to fend off the ferocious birdies (well, doggies actually) and Steam Tank all by himself. On the right, the Demigryphs showed that they didn't need no Knightly support and wiped out the Zombies before reforming to face the flank of the Grave Guard.

Jonathon saw that things were not going well and decided to commit. The Vampire Lord's still-depleted Skeleton unit charged my main cavalry bus in the centre and the Mortis Engine and Corpse Cart advanced behind. The Grave Guard turned to face the Demigryphs breathing down their boney necks and hoped the Vampires had a lot of Invocations in store to replenish their number. Unfortunately for them, this turn saw me burn my dispel scroll in an attempt to shut down the undead magic phase, and nothing got through. The lone Vampire cut down a Demigryph, but despite my inability to finish him off, the Steam Tank in the flank and the musician on the doggies proved fatal and he crumbled. The main combat saw my Arch Lector challenge the Vampire Lord, and an ineffectual round of fisticuffs ensued. I took little to no damage and culled a goodly number of Skeletons, which meant I won the combat comfortably.

The rest of the game saw me charge the Mortis Engine with the slightly depleted Demigryphs on the left, and the Grave Guard with the ones on the right. I also rallied the fleeing Knights, which was a bonus. The Grave Guard got done handily (which saw the enemy hit their break point, gaining me 1000 bonus points, which dropped to 500 when my Knight standard died), and the Mortis Engine barely died due to a flank charge, which saw a few things keel over from the subsequent horrible keening noise, including the Corpse Cart. The Vampire Lord and Arch Lector continued to call each other names rather than really hurt each other, but the other Vampire managed to kill a few Knights even as all the Skeletons were wiped out and the Vampires were left each with one wound. This could have been a real issue, but one of the Demigryph units hit them in the rear and the bonuses saw the Vampires both topple over. By this point, basically everything in the combat was on one wound - the Arch Lector (2 failed 3+ rerollable saves in the last round saw me nearly die on the spot when the Vampire Lord suddenly remembered which end of the sword to use), the Wizard Lord, the BSB, and the only Knight left was the unit champion. I was a few wounds away from losing about a billion points of models, but such is 8th ed - I had lost only the Cannon in terms of victory points.

Convic was using a comp-battle system which saw the difference in comp scores being added and substracted from each player's score. This meant the game went from a 20-0 to a 19-1 win.

Result: 19-1
Game 2: Watchtower
Akhter Khan, Dwarfs.

Rune Lord on Anvil with Master rune of Balance, Spelleater rune, Rune of Spellbreaking
BSB with Master Rune of Challenge, Master Rune of Gromril, Rune of Brotherhood
Master Engineer
23 Crossbow Rangers with great weapons, command
19 Crossbowmen with great weapons, command
20 Miners with command
5 Miners
5 Miners
2 Organ Guns
Cannon with runes of Forging, Burning
Grudger Thrower with runes of Accuracy, 2 x Penetrating
Grudge Thrower with runes of Accuracy, Penetrating, Burning

Comp score: 1

OK, so if there was a scenario that worried me more than Blood and Glory, it was Watchtower. I had precisely 1 model that could actually enter the thing, and an Engineer is not really the ideal model for storming a building. On the bright side, if nobody is actually in there, the closest unit can hold it. Obviously this was what I was aiming for.

Akhter's army was pretty rude, really - the very definition of a gunline. His deployment looked rather ludicrous, too - he won the roll-off to control the watchtower, and put the 19 Crossbowmen in there. That meant his regular deployment (before Scouts) was 5 war machines, an Anvil and a Master Engineer. They all deployed along the very back of the table, over on my right - with the Anvil in the very corner. I did what I could in return. I put both Volley Guns within short range of the Watchtower, then stacked my right flank to get my guys as close to the enemy as I could. The Cannon went over on the left, with 5 Knights even further across to prevent scouting Rangers from getting ideas. I also put a unit of Knights next to the Volley Guns, facing backwards - in case the Miners showed up. Once I was done, the Rangers with the BSB plonked themselves in the Dwarf deployment zone, anchoring the end of the line of artillery near the centre of the field.

Thankfully when you don't get the Watchtower, you do get the first turn - so I advanced to immediately outside of 24" from the Organ Guns. I then commenced an entire game of hosing the Watchtower with shots from both Volley Guns, one of which had the Engineer for help. My cannon misfired rather than shooting the enemy cannon, and the steam tank botched things as well. The Dwarf shooting saw a wound come off one Volley Gun from all the crossbows, and my cannon getting very efficiently counter-sniped by the enemy one. The Anvil slowed one unit of Demigryphs, but the Grudge Throwers didn't manage to hurt them.

My second turn saw me advancing as close as possible into the teeth of the enemy fire whilst I kept shooting at the Watchtower. The Steam Tank again failed to kill anything with its cannon. The Dwarf Miners all arrived that turn, with the big unit stepping in to intercept the closer Demigryphs before they got to the guns, and the smaller units moving in to support the big ones. The Rangers reformed deep in anticipation of receiving a charge. The Dwarf cannon took a few wounds off the Steam Tank and the Demigryphs managed to largely shrug off the damage from the Organ Guns and Grudge Throwers (obviously I rolled better for saves than Akhter did for number of shots and wounds). I think the Anvil misfired this turn, but simply did nothing.

Turn 3 saw the Dwarf BSB use his Master Rune of Challenge to force one unit of Demigryphs to declare a charge on his unit. I decided to send the big block of cavalry (which were right behind) in alongside them, which took a good roll of a 10 from me. It meant I wouldn't get shot and ensured I should win the combat. The other Demigryphs charged the large block of Miners right in front of them. The Steam Tank advanced and managed to destroy the Dwarf cannon with its own. By this point the Knights I had deployed to prevent annoying Ranger placement on my left flank had ridden well across the table and were heading towards the flank of the now-engaged Rangers (who had a little conga line of 5 Miners next to them). I won both the combats, although neither was a thrashing. My Wizard Lord took a couple of wounds, as did the Demigryphs over on the right. Both Dwarf units held their ground, unsurprisingly given they were steadfast.

The Dwarfs attempted to charge the flank of the Demigryphs fighting the Rangers, but didn't make it. That was OK, because the Anvil sent them in anyway. They arrived in time to see my Wizard Lord be cut down by the Rangers' great weapons. This was no great loss - she couldn't do anything with my modest power phases and the wall of Dwarf dispel dice I was presented with. The Dwarf shooting turned its attention to my Steam Tank, but didn't manage to do the job. Despite the Miners' charge, I won both combats again. The Dwarfs were starting to get a bit thin on the ground, which meant their steadfast was not going to last.

My fourth and fifth turn saw my flanking Knights hitting the small screen of 5 Miners next to the Rangers, rolling through them and hitting the main unit in the flank. Any question of who would win the combat was answered and I broke the Rangers and the flanking Miners, running them down and killing the BSB. The Demigryphs pursued the fleeing Miners and carried into an Organ Gun, which they killed. The other Demigryph unit finally broke the main Miner unit and decided to pursue it off the table. The Volley Guns got the Dwarf Crossbowman unit in the Watchtower down to a single model before Akhter killed both of them in an effective turn of shooting from his Grudge Throwers.

My remaining small Knight unit had spent all game waiting for the Crossbowmen to drop to an acceptable number before trying to charge the Watchtower. With the unit having dropped to one model, the time was right... But the dice turned up a 5, and given that we were up to turn 5, this meant the random turn length had hit and the game was over. The remaining Crossbowman was almost certainly mooning me with his unbelievably hairy buttocks (Dwarfs are so beardy, they have beards in places we don't want to know about) out the tower window.

To say this was frustrating is an understatement. I had killed all but one model of the Dwarf infantry, and was about to claim 2 more war machines. But the game ending where it had meant that Akhter claimed the 1000 point bonus for the Watchtower and the battle was lost. End result was a 6-14 loss for me before comp.

Result: 7-13
Game 3: Dawn Attack 
George Spiridonos, High Elves

Archmage L4 with Lore of Shadow, Folariath's Robe, Silver Wand
BSB with Amour of Caledor, Dawnstone, Great Weapon
Mage L1 with High Magic, Annulian Crystal
30 Spearmen with command
16 Archers with Banner of Eternal Flame
10 Archers
30 White Lions with Standard of Balance
20 Phoenix Guard with Banner of Sorcery, Skeinsliver
5 Dragon Princes

Comp score: 3

Well after being in peril of hitting the top tables after the first round, my encounter with Akhter had punted me back into the pack. George's army was built from the standard High Elf mould - a big block of White Lions, a Level 4 Mage with the Banner of Sorcery to back him up, and... stuff. The White Lions are a problem for my army and so I was keen to not engage them on anything like level terms. The Shadow Mage concerned me due to Mindrazor and Pit of Shades, but I was just going to have to wear that when things came to the crunch.

Dawn Attack is generally where I get messed about by the dice and all my army ends up deployed behind a house or something. This time I rolled a massive number of sixes and got to choose where nearly everything went. It was kind of weird. As usual there was a building in the centre. This one was really big, and it screwed up my line of sight pretty badly for the Volley Guns, which went into the centre. I figured the White Lions would have to come around the building at some point, and I would open up on them then. The Cannon was on a hill, also in the centre but with a view of about half the table past the building. I had both small units of Knights on my left supported by a unit of Demigryphs, and everything else was primed to move through on the right, aiming for about a 10" gap between the building and a wall. George also ended up with nearly everything in the centre, most of it behind the building. On my left went the small unit of Archers, led by the small Mage. Left-centre were the White Lions with the Archmage, then the Spearmen with the BSB, Phoenix Guard, Dragon Princes, and finally the main Archer unit. The Eagle was behind the White Lions, but within sight of the Cannon and the Steam Tank.

I got the first turn and advanced on the right, with the Steam Tank churning along next to the building, lining up a shot on the Eagle. A unit of Demigryphs swept around on the far right, ready to cut back in toward the Elf lines. The Knight units on the left went as quickly as possible toward the Archers and Mage, although they had to split either side of a pond. I shot the Eagle with both the Cannon and the Steam Tank, but the 2D6 wounds came up double 1 - the budgie lived. I also dropped a Comet of Cassandora right in front of the White Lions, which they took exception to, and in their turn they stepped backwards, as did the Spearmen next to them. The Dragon Princes charged the Steam Tank head-on, but did no damage. The Archers on my left shot at Knights but didn't hurt anyone. The Archers on my right did little, with the Tank and its opponents largely blocking all lines of sight (or at least providing hard cover). The Archmage commenced a series of attempts to drop things into a Pit of Shades, but didn't get anything.

The Knight unit on my far left attempted to charge the Archers, who stood and shot. We both failed and not much happened. The Demigryphs on my right flanked the Dragon Princes fighting the Steam Tank whilst the Knights moved up behind. The Eagle had moved up to hide behind the building, so I couldn't fail to kill it with my Cannon that turn. The Comet plummeted to earth and hit nothing, because I rolled 4" for its blast radius (a 6 would probably have hit the White Lions, Spearmen and the Eagle). The Demigryphs and Steam Tank's breath weapon peppered the Dragon Princes with damage, but left one alive which I permitted to flee so that the Demigryphs could reform to face the nearby Phoenix Guard. The remaining Dragon Prince rode into one of my units the next turn and failed his dangerous terrain test. Points for me!

The Phoenix Guard charged the waiting Demigryphs as expected, whilst the White Lions pretended that they had never been scared by the incoming Comet and stepped forward once more. The Spearmen decided to turn and head for the other side of the building, where the Steam Tank, Demigryphs and Phoenix Guard were fast turning the area into a parking lot. The Archers on my left once again failed to shoot any Knights. The Archmage tried to cast Mindrazor on the Phoenix Guard, but didn't get it through. She may have tried to drop something in a hole again - I don't recall. The Phoenix Guard found that without Strength 9, the Demigryphs were actually rather tough. The Demigryphs found the Phoenix Guard challenging as well, but killed a handful. Both parties held, and I'm not sure who won. It must have been me, surely...

You may have gathered that I'm a little vague on some of the details of this game. Maybe it's because it was the third game of the day, or my not being entirely well was getting the better of me. Anyway, I honestly can't tell you how the Eagle died. I think the Cannon may have gotten it, or it might have been a Volley Gun. Regardless, it played no further part and wasn't there by the end. Actually, maybe it panicked due to the Dragon Princes and didn't rally.

In turn 3 I celebrated the uselessness of my Knights by failing once more to charge the equally useless Archers on the left (who stood and shot to no effect). I moved the other unit up close to make sure I couldn't fail the roll again. The Steam Tank gave a toot and ploughed into the flank of the Phoenix Guard at maximum speed. My main Knight bus began to consider moving back around the other side of the building to intercept the White Lions, but didn't get all that far - just enough to make it clear I was dithering. The Steam Tank crashed into the Phoenix Guard for about 10 impact hits, doing 8 wounds, Unfortunately only 1 of them failed his ward save, so it was all less satisfying than I had hoped. The Demigryphs managed to peck/maul a few more, and brought them down to about 10 models. Thankfully they fled (apparently they had less confidence in their invulnerability than I now had), but they outrolled the Demigryphs who couldn't physically chase them because of the Steam Tank. At least the Banner of Sorcery was lost.

The Archers on my left finally admitted that they had no idea how to use their bows and charged the nearest Knights. Having been really keen to engage them a moment ago, I was suddenly assailed by doubts brought on by knowing how good I am at 1+ armour saves, and the unit fled. Unfortunately George passed the test to redirect his charge and headed for the other unit instead. This time I had to hold or flee the table, and of course he made the charge that I had repeatedly tried and failed. The Archers killed 2 Knights for the loss of 1 or 2 of their own and a wound on the mage (I think), beat me, broke me, and ran me down - As you would expect. On the other flank the Phoenix Guard rallied and went into a 3x3 formation in order to be less in the way of the Spearmen and BSB, who were sweeping past. The White Lions changed their mind about going around the left of the building (and into the path of the Volley Guns), and turned to face the other way instead. My Volley Gun crew sighed in disappointment and boasted to each other of all the grand things they had been about to do to the squishy Elves.

My fourth turn saw the fleeing small unit of Knights rally behind the Demigryphs on the left, who stepped up to menace the rear of the cowardly White Lions, and the Demigryphs on the right moved to get out of the way of the Steam Tank (which I think failed to move due to a misfire). The Inner Circle Knights realised there was no point heading where they had been going and turned back to the right, heading up behind the Demigryphs. My Cannon and the nearest Volley Gun opened up on the now-gloating Archers on the left, killing everyone but the Mage (who unsportingly didn't panic).

I think it was at about this point that the Archers on the right got bored and fed themselves to one of my units, possibly the Demigryphs. The Phoenix Guard stepped up and got into the face of my other units, and spent the rest of the turn making macho man poses after having Mindrazor cast on them. The White Lions fidgeted in place (I can no longer remember which way they were facing by now), and the Spearmen and BSB advanced behind the Phoenix Guard. The lone Mage decided to rush across and block the path of my Demigryphs to the White Lions, but died the death when the Archmage had a whoopsie and did a Strength 6 hit to them both. The Archers were utterly outclassed and getting eaten, but held in combat. Maybe George was planning to cast Mindrazor on them before realising he'd be out of range.

In my fifth turn the Steam Tank decided to have another crack at the Phoenix Guard, crashing into the flank. They couldn't get that lucky twice, right? The main Knight bus swung around and flanked the Archers, smashing them down to quarter strength and not bothing to pursue, whilst the Demigryphs on the left continued to try to get the attention of the White Lions without actually having to commit to a fight where they wouldn't even get to fight back. The Cannon fired down the line of the White Lions, killing 8 or so of them. The Steam Tank made the Phoenix Guard take another 7 saves from impact hits, killing... none of them. The smug little turds had shrugged off 14 out of 15 impact hits. Thankfully I managed to kill 1 with the steam gun, only took a wound or so from their attacks back, and they broke again. Of course, I couldn't chase them, but I did glare at their backs a lot.

The Spearmen unit charged into my waiting Inner Circle Knights, who celebrated finally being in combat, and against Strength 3 opponents, no less (hopefully they would remain that way, unlike the burly Phoenix Guard). The White Lions turned back to face the suddenly nervous Demigryphs on the left, but the Archmage made a break for it in the other direction, to ensure she was in Mindrazor range of the Spearmen. She threw plenty of dice at the spell, but thankfully I managed to block it. This meant I was defenceless when she tried to drop my Steam Tank in a hole with Pit of Shades, but that was OK - it scattered onto 2 Demigryphs who plummeted to their doom, to the apparent unconcern of their comrades.

The Spearmen found the Knight bus to be a very tough ask for such low-strength attacks, and got seriously mauled in return. I think my Arch Lector cut down the BSB, which would explain why the unit broke when it came time for the test. I pursued and somehow eventually got the Phoenix Guard too. Maybe they failed to rally. The end of the game saw my Demigryphs back off from the White Lions in the hope they would fail their charge, and shoot what I could at the unit. There were 7 left by this point, including the command group. I also threw Chain Lightning at the Archmage, but it was dispelled. The White Lions made it to my Demigryphs, who resolved to roll well and do what had to be done. Their brave resolve wavered when the Archmage cast an irresistible Enfeebling Foe on the unit, dropping their Strengths by 2. It was then shattered when they White Lions rolled 8 hits and 8 wounds, and I failed 6 of the 4+ saves, did no damage in return and fled. Thankfully I escaped. The same could not be said for the Archmage, who got sucked into the warp for rolling too many 6s (such is the fate awaiting all of you who do so - I'll be safe)...

Sorry I'm a bit vague about how some stuff died, but in the end I had lost a small unit of Knights in dishonourable combat against the Archers (well, their performance was certainly dishonourable). Everything else remained at least half-intact. A small cluster of White Lions remained to fly the somewhat tattered flag for the High Elves. The end result was 18-2 before comp.

Result: 17-3

So at the end of the first day, I was looking reasonably solid on 43 points. This despite Akhter's fiendish Dwarf Crossbowman and his pesky Watchtower. It was a decent day's work.

I should point out that at this point I think I had passed 3, or perhaps 4 of the misfire rolls on the Steam Tank all day. I was probably failing 80% of the rolls, generally with a straight misfire on the dice. It's a testament to how forgiving the misfire chart is for the Tank now that it was still one of my better contributors for the day.

See you next time for day 2!
(This report is continued on the next post...)

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