Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Cancon 2013 – the aftermath

The madness that is the annual Cancon road trip is over, and I've now had at least 1 decent night's sleep with which to recover. At 8 games over 3 days (and alongside hundreds of other gamers playing other things), Cancon is really the biggest event on the my calendar. It's also become the biggest Warhammer tournament in Australia for the last couple of years, with some 94 players this time around. It's great to see such good numbers, with people travelling all the way from Melbourne, Brisbane and beyond.

I started off this tournament with the intention of doing what I've done every tournament for the last couple of years – taking photos and writing up each and every game in some detail. However, this time things ended up being a bit different. I found myself getting pretty tired, and I completely lost my rhythm on the second game (for reasons that I shall explain). I started to forget the camera, and when I then remembered, it felt like I'd missed the boat. The end result is that I have basically no photos of anything except my first game. Without pictures, it may be a but hard to follow these games, and at times I've kept it more brief than normal. Hopefully it will all make some sort of sense.

First up, I was not entering Cancon this year with any intention of challenging for a place. I submitted what I knew to be a severely flawed army, based entirely around my amusement at the animosity between Kurt Helborg and Marius Leitdorf. Marius in particular is a funny character with his madness requiring him to take a leadership test each turn or roll on a chart. Once I'd decided to take both of these special characters, I then went the whole hog and put in 2 more. Because, you know, why not? Ludwig Schwartzhelm is the Emperor's personal banner bearer and champion, a character who has been around forever, and is really not all that great in the game. Luthor Huss is relatively new on the scene and is actually pretty good value, but hey – I needed someone to make up the numbers.

By the time I had spent nearly 900 points on largely vulnerable characters, there wasn't a lot of room for anything else in my army. A couple of light wizards went in to try to give me some ranged firepower and the ability to fortify the characters in the hope of extending their lives a little, then I had to get some knights for them to lead (because all 4 of the special characters are mounted). It had to be at least 2 units for a couple of reasons. Firstly, stacking 4 characters in a single unit would have been silly. Secondly, with Marius and Kurt despising each other, it would have been unreasonable to expect them to share the same unit. I'm pretty sure they would have come to blows, or flatly refused to work for me. We couldn't have that, so 10 Inner Circle Knights and 10 Reiksguard swallowed most of the rest of my points. The rest of my army was there just to give me some variety in the list. I've shown the list before, but here it is again.
  • Kurt Helborg, Reiksmarshall of the Empire (Army General)
  • Marius Leitdorf
  • Ludwig Schwarzhelm (BSB)
  • Luthor Huss
  • Battle Wizard of the Light Order (Level 2)
  • Battle Wizard of the Light Order (Level 2) with Dispel Scroll
  • 10 Reiksguard Knights with Standard, Musician
  • 10 Knights of the Inner Circle with Standard, Musician
  • 40 Halberdiers with Standard, Musician
  • Detachment: 5 Archers
  • Detachment: 15 Swordsmen
  • 1 Great Cannon
  • 5 Outriders with Musician, Sharpshooter
  • 10 Crossbowmen
Total Army Cost: 2400
My army on the day. Bit of a dark pic, I'm afraid.
Anyway, as I was saying, I had relatively modest expectations for this list. With pretty weak magic, a single cannon, and none of the things you would normally expect to find in a strong Empire army, I was clearly going to be under-manned. I figured I'd be happy to win 4 games and finish in the upper middle of the tournament. Here is how those plans worked out. As is often the case, this will all be from memory, so apologies to anyone whose army (or actions) I misremember...

Oh, and in case you were looking at the half-painted stuff in the last post, I did get everything to a point where it at least looked reasonably finished. Some last-minute painting on the Friday night up in Canberra saw to that. I'll put up some pictures later.

Game 1: Battleline
David Duriesmith, Wood Elves

Highborn with Bow of Loren, Arcane Bodkins
Spellweaver (Level 4, Lore of Life) with Wand of Wych Elm, Moonstone of the Hidden Ways
BSB with Asyendi's Bane, Hail of Doom Arrow
16 Glade Guard with Banner of Eternal Flame
12 Glade Guard
12 Glade Guard
12 Glade Guard
8 Dryads
8 Treekin
Sure, he looks friendly enough. But inside lies the cold, dead heart of a prancing wood elf archer... 
First up was my grudge match against Dave, who had decided we had avoided each other long enough, and it was time for us to play each other for the first time ever. Dave takes great delight in every phase of Warhammer except close combat, and loves to prance his armies in every direction except towards the enemy. This includes his Ogres – they prance too. But in this case he was using the pranciest (that is totally a word, spell checker) of his armies, the Wood Elves.

Our table had a large hill in the middle, which was exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for against Dave's list. It was unlikely that he would see fit to move archers into the centre of the table to shoot me, so it meant I had some control over when I got shot. There was also only one small forest on Dave's side of the table to my right, and he put his bonus one over in the other corner. With little in the way of forests, his Moonstone was unlikely to be effective. He'd have to stick to mundane prancing.
My deployment. Enjoy the pics whilst they last, most are of game 1...
As is often the case, I had to place my army before Dave placed much that he actually cared about. I deployed heavily on my right, intending to concentrate force and sweep around if I was given the chance. Dave responded with an Eagle, the Dryads and the Treeman facing off with me, but pretty much everything else diagonally opposite my forces, with the hill between us. He was as far away as possible.
The stuff actually facing my army.
The rest of the army, over the other side.
I was fortunate and got the first turn, and proceeded to kill the Eagle in front of me, and the Treeman (2 wounds from a boosted Shem's Burning Gaze before the Cannon rolled a 6 and would have killed him anyway). I swept forward, but made sure the stuff nearer the centre hill was using it as cover. Dave responded by generally messing about over in his corner, and not doing a lot. I attempted to charge the Dryads with the Inner Circle Knights led by Kurt and Luthor, but failed and stopped right in front of the little forest. That encouraged the Dryads, who charged me and were then standing right in the trees, making them Stubborn. They held me up for a couple of rounds before succumbing, largely to Kurt's Runefang. It meant I couldn't sweep forward effectively with the unit, so the others would have to leave them behind.
The Dryads hold up Kurt's regiment of Knights.
My Cannon blew up in the second turn, aiming at the remaining Eagle. Frankly I think they just packed the thing up and headed off for early drinks after claiming the only real target in the enemy army. My Halberdiers edged up onto the hill so that I could start hurling Banishment at units of archers. They ended up losing close to half their number from enemy shooting, but most of Dave's efforts were focused on the Reiksguard under the command of Marius and Ludwig. They swept around the hill and headed for the nearest of the Glade Guard, who were a bit more central than the main mass of troops. They failed to roll an 8 to get to that unit with a charge, and that was as close as they got.
Dave's characters all pile into the one unit. Spot the player who has Dwellers in his hand, rather than his opponent's.
Marius did fail his madness test once in this game, and rolled the Tactical Brilliance result in which his horse Daisy takes command and units within 12” get a free reform before charges. In this case, all it did was get me Dave's remaining Eagle, as it had been sitting safely in the side arc of my Swordsman detachment until I got the reform. After a charge, a pursuit and another charge, they killed the birdie. Huzzah!
Get the birdie!
The Reiksguard wore a fair bit of shooting, but were holding up OK until Dave cast Throne of Vines and then the Dwellers Below, both with irresistible force. This resulted in Marius' untimely demise, as well as 5 of the Reiksguard toppling from their horses. It ended the unit as a menace and I decided to try to turn and run with Ludwig and his few remaining followers. A failed swift reform meant they got nowhere, and all the remaining Reiksguard died before Ludwig managed to scramble to safety.

Banishment killed all but 1 archer from one unit of Glade Guard, and the Outriders eventually claimed the remnant of the unit that Marius and his mates had been heading for (they had copped a Banishment earlier as well). But that was about the sum total of the damage I had done. Being unable to get Kurt's unit into range of the main body of the Wood Elf army has seen Marius' unit get crippled when it tried to pick off some of the enemy, and any advantage I had gained earlier in the game with the Great Cannon disappeared thanks to Dwellers and a few volleys of arrows (and the Cannon killing itself). We had killed about 650 points of each other's forces. It was a draw.
Adding it up at the end.

Result: 10-10

Game 2: Dawn Attack
Peter Rodda, Warriors of Chaos

I would list for you Peter's army, but it's slightly irrelevant. We had compared army lists and rolled up our spells when he got a phone call to tell him that his mother was unwell and he needed to go and take her to hospital. This was hardly his fault and I accepted his offer of a 10-10 draw so he could run off. This was the event that broke my concentration in terms of reporting games. It was a bit of a pity, as the game had promised to be interesting. Peter had clearly been worried about my Runefangs, but I didn't much like the look of a Sorcerer Lord with the Infernal Puppet and Infernal Gateway, nor the 50 Khorne Marauders with flails and 2 Warshrines... It could have gone either way.

The lack of a game meant I was free to roam the event, watch some games and browse the stalls a bit. I didn't buy anything, despite there being some tempting bargains on offer.

Game 3: Meeting Engagement
Luke Young, Tomb Kings

Liche High Priest (Level 4) with Dispel Scroll
Tomb Prince BSB with Armour of Destiny, Great Weapon*
Tomb Prince with Armour of Fortune, Great Weapon
Tomb Prince with Talisman of Endurance, Great Weapon
50 Skeleton Warriors with Light Armour, Shields, Full Command
50 Skeleton Warriors with Light Armour, Shields, Full Command
20 Skeleton Archers with Light Armour, Full Command
30 Tomb Guard with Light Armour, Shields, Full Command
Tomb Scorpion
Tomb Scorpion
Tomb Scorpion
3 Necropolis Knights with Full Command
Casket of Souls
*I was surprised to see a Tomb Prince BSB, but Luke assured me you could do that nowadays. Turns out I was right to be surprised (only a Tomb Herald can carry the army standard), but it really didn't matter.

Luke made it clear to me that he was pretty new to the game as we compared lists, and he had never played the scenario before. Nor had he played Empire before. His list was somewhat lacking in teeth, and was going to struggle against my army. Basically it was not a fair match up. I did my best to make sure he understood what everything did and what the scenario meant in terms of moving forces in from reserve etc, and we probably ran out of time largely due to Luke's unfamiliarity with nearly everything that was going on. That and the round started very late, without being able to end late. Ah well, I suspect a lot of people struggled for time in this round.

I deployed first, and rolled 1s for Kurt, Luthor and one of my wizards, who all started the game in reserve. My forces deployed near the narrow section of the deployment zone, meaning the characters could easily catch up when they arrived. Luke made the mistake of deploying pretty close to me (16 or 17” away) with a block of 50 Skeletons including a Tomb Prince and his High Liche, with the Tomb Guard next to them and 2 Scorpions hard on the left. The other Skeletons Warriors and Archers went into reserve, as did the Necropolis Knights. The Casket chose to deploy in line of sight of the Cannon, as it was the only way it could be in range to scream at me.

Luke failed to seize the first turn, and I declared a charge straight out with Marius' Reiksguard unit. They failed to make it however, and lurched forward to be charged in return. This was fine with me. I wanted that High Liche in combat. The Tomb Scorpions both got shot over a couple of turns by the Outriders (a volley followed by a stand and shoot in both cases, I think). My Cannon failed to hurt the Casket twice, and got killed by it in return.

The Skeletons charging my Reiksguard discovered that they were seriously outclassed. Marius managed to cut down the Tomb Prince in a challenge before anyone else attacked, which meant their Weapon Skill of 5 availed them not. I won combat handily, but then hit them in the flank with the other Knights, who had been joined by Kurt and Luthor the previous turn. I think Luke now understands how flank charges are determined, but he didn't before this all started (and I didn't realise until he questioned it). Between this and Birona's Timewarp going off on the charging Knights, it was all bad for the Tomb Kings. Really bad. I killed 8 Skeletons with the horses of Kurt's unit alone, cut down the High Liche, and ended up winning the combat by 37...
Oh, the horror! That pile of Skeletons near (and on) the hill is from a single round of combat. Before combat resolution...
Kurt's unit reformed to face the charge of the Tomb Guard and BSB, who lasted a couple of rounds before falling to the combined efforts of that unit and flank charge from the Outriders, as well as Kurt's double combat resolution for wounds inflicted. The remaining Scorpion appeared behind my lines but copped a Banishment, so died promptly. The rest of Luke's forces failed to make it to me before we had to stop after only 3 turns, but the damage had been done. It would only have gotten meaner from there.

Result: 17-3

So after the first day, my slightly silly army was undefeated! Admittedly it had only won one game (and had only actually played 2), but it was still a surprisingly good start.

Game 4: Battleline
Michael Clarke, High Elves

Archmage (Level 4, Shadow) with Folariath's Robe, Sigil of Asuryan
Mage (Level 2, High Magic) with Ring of Fury, Silver Wand
BSB with Armour of Caledor, Guardian Phoenix, Great Weapon
30 Spearmen with Full Command
15 Archers with Standard, Musician
10 Archers with Musician
25 White Lions with Full Command, Banner of Sorcery
12 Swordmasters with Full Command
Lion Chariot
Tiranoc Chariot
Tiranoc Chariot

I arrived on day 2 to discover that my result from the previous game had been entered backwards, and the TOs told me that they'd just fix it after the round. I flagged it with Michael before we started, and he was fine with playing someone who actually was doing slightly better than the scores suggested, so that made things easy. His army worried me a bit, because it had overwhelming magical superiority as well as a couple of dangerous units. The White Lions in particular would pose a problem for everything in my army. I was saved somewhat when Michael didn't roll Mindrazor in his spells, as that would have made the Spearmen potentially terrifying as well.

I deployed my Cannon and Crossbowmen over on the left, facing the small Archer unit, a Lion Chariot and a Tiranoc Chariot. Everything else went relatively central. There was a hill in the centre of the table that I would need to sweep over if I wanted to engage the main force of High Elves, who had deployed hard over to my right. The left flank went well, with the Cannon failing to do anything in the first turn, only for my little Crossbowmen unit to destroy the Lion Chariot with a single volley! Marius left his Knight regiment at the start and menaced the flank of the Tiranoc Chariot, which got its attention for a turn before a cannonball cleaned it up. This sent the Archers into a rabid frenzy, and they marched across the table for a couple of turns before being panicked by the Crossbowmen and eventually wiped out as they tried to retreat (a cannonball between the shoulder blades of the last guy finished them off in the final turn).
Marius Goes Forth: I didn't take this picture. This came from Nick on the table next to me. Clearly Marius' antics amused him.
Marius then spent the game shadowing his own unit of Reiksguard, as it swept around the central hill at best speed and into Michael's deployment zone. The unit showed its flank to the Swordmasters, but a couple of spells saw them drop to 4 models before they could charge, so the damage was limited. Marius then hit them in their flank and they were destroyed. The Tiranoc Chariot in the main Elf lines was killed by my Outriders, who in return lost all but one model. He sensibly retreated from the enemy spellcasters and lived through the game.

Kurt's Knight unit moved up onto the central hill and spent 2 turns charging Eagles without really gaining ground, but that was fine as I didn't actually want to rush the White Lions anyway. Within a couple of turns they were within reach of me, however I managed to scare them off with Speed of Light for a turn, and we had a bit of a stand-off. The Knights tried a couple of times to charge past the White Lions and into the flank of the Spearmen as they swept around the flank to try to menace my infantry, but I failed both times (the second time I only needed a 6 or 7 on the dice, I think).

Eventually a Pit of Shades killed half of Kurt's unit, effectively ending them as a dangerous force. Between that and Fury of Khaine (both the spell and the stored version in the Ring of Fury), the unit itself was eventually wiped out apart from the characters. Spells like Withering, Melkoth's Mystifying Miasma and Enfeebling Foe were flying all over the place, and I had to let most of them go – the High Elf magic phase went largely unchallenged. The White Lions turned their attention to my infantry, and at one point the Halberdiers and both their detachments were fleeing from charges, but none were caught and no other real combats came about.

The larger unit of Archers contained both of the enemy Mages, and when they realised that Marius and his Reiksguard were going to make it, they evacuated the unit. Marius took the Archers out all by himself, and then turned as all of my special characters ended up moving around independently to try to pin down the escaping Mage and Archmage. Michael just about got away with both, but was extremely unfortunate with the Archmage. In the end only Kurt could charge him, and was 16” away. I charged and the Elf fled, but only rolled a 3. This meant Kurt could catch him by rolling a 12... And did. This was a huge boost to my points in the final turn. The other Mage did escape a charge by the remaining Reiksguard, however my wizards were waiting for him and Banishment saw him off. In the end, all I had lost was my Inner Circle Knights compared to all the Archers, Chariots and Eagles, as well as the Swordmasters and both Mages. It was a good result, if a bit lucky at the end.

Result: 16-4

Game 5: Battle for the Pass
Matt Willis, Dark Elves

Dreadlord on Dark Pegasus with Whip of Agony, Pendant of Khaeleth, Crown of Command, Heavy Armour, Sea Dragon Cloak, Shield
Supreme Sorceress (Level 4, Shadow) with Tome of Furion
Death Hag BSB on Cauldron of Blood
Lokhir Fellheart
40 Corsairs with Hand Bows, Full Command, Sea Serpent Standard
20 Crossbowmen with Shields, Full Command
5 Harpies
5 Harpies
5 Shades with 2 Hand Weapons
5 Shades with 2 Hand Weapons
Cold One Chariot
Cold One Chariot
War Hydra

I knew going into this round that my army had been doing better than it probably deserved to, and this was the match-up I got as a result. Matt's army was nasty, most notably due to the nearly invincible, unbreakable Dreadlord.

This game was not fun. I killed a Chariot (with the Cannon), both Shade units and a Harpy unit relatively early on (the Shades skulked behind my lines and narrowly failed to kill the Wizard I had floating about in the Archer detachment. She fried off one unit whilst the Swordsman detachment managed a 14” charge to kill the other). The Harpy unit was killed by Kurt's unit of Knights, and I had the choice of whether to overrun toward the Corsairs, or sit back and play for time. The correct thing to do was sit back, but I was already not really enjoying myself thanks to a number of rules disputes and an argument over a critical charge distance (it was one distance until I rolled the dice, then suddenly it required more careful measurement and were found to be just out. He did let me cancel the charge as a result, but I was already put out. Tip for all you youngsters out there: if you're going to measure something and declare it to be a certain range, don't go back and question it later when it becomes more important). Anyway, I chose to overrun with the Knights as I wasn't interested in playing for a lame draw. I then rolled 11” and went too far, got charged by the Hydra and the Corsairs (who only needed a moderate roll due to my big overrun), and a 9 dice irresistible Mindrazor saw the Knights wiped out by the Corsairs (who were fighting with 3 attacks each when it should have been 2, as their second hand weapons get swapped for those hand bows, as I now discover). It was bad. Kurt survived by challenging the champion and Luthor hulked out and passed all the ward saves, and Kurt kept them in place, but they were doomed.

I decided to flank the Corsairs with the Reiksguard now that their hatred was gone, but forgot about just how many attacks they would pull, even in the flank. Not that I cared overly at this point. Marius got killing blowed by a single Corsair thanks to the effects of the Cauldron of Blood, all of the Reiksguard were killed, Kurt was cut down, Luthor stopped passing every ward save, and Ludwig (as the sole surviving model) broke and died. Elsewhere one of my wizards blew up, whilst the other one had stepped out for an all-or-nothing crack at the Hydra with Shem's Burning Gaze, only for the power dice to disappear thanks to the other wizard's miscast. He died to the Pegasus, which panicked the Halberdiers (who may have been within 6” of the wizard, but this was only checked after he was removed, so I guess this was my fault). They fled through 2 units and off the table. At this point I had lost nearly everything and wasn't interested in playing further, so conceded that the rest would die without inflicting serious damage. Hopefully this correction of my army's performance would see me fighting more suitable opposition. As I had come to the tournament for a bit of fun, this was not the sort of game I had in mind.

Result: 0-20

Game 6: Blood and Glory
Simon Turner, Beastmen

Great Bray Shaman (Level 4, Lore of the Wild) with Staff of Darkoth
Great Bray Shaman (Level 4, Lore of Beasts) with Hagtree Fetish
Bray Shaman (Level 2, Lore of Shadow?) with Herdstone Shard
Wargor BSB with Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield
40 Gor with 2 Hand Weapons, Standard, Musician
5 Ungor Raiders
5 Ungor Raiders
5 Ungor Raiders
5 Ungor Raiders
Tuskgor Chariot
Tuskgor Chariot
24 Bestigor with Full Command, Standard of Discipline
8 Razorgor
1 Razorgor
1 Razorgor

My hopes that I would now run into a much easier game were foiled when I discovered I'd be playing Simon's Beastmen. I've played Simon a couple of times before, and each time he's come out on top. His lists are quite refined in what they want to do and he plays them well. Unfortunately in this game, I was going to have a massive struggle because of the terrain. There was a hill with a large building upon it in the centre of the table, and it was within 5” of one of the deployment zones due to Blood and Glory allowing players to go 15” onto the table. When Simon won the roll-off for table sides, I had a massive disadvantage. The Herdstone Shard went within range of the building, all 4 characters went into the Bestigor, and they ambled into the building, never again to emerge. And why should they? It was such a nice house, with tons of power dice on tap, and all the nasty enemy cavalry stuck outside...

Anyway, it was a really bad start to the game. I ended up having to move between the central building and another one over on the left side of the table, which didn't leave room for the Knight units to advance side-by-side (despite Marius' efforts to improve the situation by shanking a Reiksguard in the neck because he thought he heard him whisper something unsavoury about Daisy). My infantry went around the other side and tried to pick off some stuff with magic, however my first couple of efforts to soften up the Bestigor in the house came to nothing as I rolled pathetically with Banishment. I realised then that there was no point in even looking at the building, which also meant I couldn't achieve the Blood and Glory objective of breaking my opponent (although in this case that was only worth 350 bonus points).

I lost the Cannon for 5 Ungor Raiders who entered the table next to it. They passed their panic test when they lost 2 models to grapeshot. Simon's ability to pass Leadership 6 tests was to prove my bane in this game. The Halberdiers milled around fairly aimlessly, just acting as a bodyguard for the wizard when they realised they were not going to have any real chance of reaching something worthwhile. They got charged by a single Razorgor who had taken 2 wounds from a boosted Shem's Burning Gaze, and then over several rounds of ineptitude on both sides, I eventually lost my wizard before finally killing the oversized piggy. The other wizard got picked on by enemy magic, with Viletide vomiting forth Strength 1 hits out the wazoo.

The main action was over on the left. The other single Razorgor lost 2 wounds to Crossbowmen, then swept around the building on the left and eventually charged them, despite them standing and shooting after dealing with more Raiders in close combat. The Crossbowmen couldn't find a way to do the last wound, and all of them died, leaving the piggy triumphant.

Speaking of piggies, the huge unit of 8 of them decided to charge Kurt's unit as they moved up next to the Reiksguard before I tried to make my way through the narrower section between the buildings. The piggies' mission was to kill Kurt, however his high Weapon Skill managed to restrict the wounds to 3, and he passed an armour save. 3 piggies died in return and I broke them, but failed to catch them and they popped through Simon's lines to the very corner of the table. There they rallied on Leadership 6, denying me my best chance to get points from the game.

Kurt's unit fled through the Reiksguard when half the Beastman army declared charges on them (with all eyes on the 1 wound Kurt Helborg), and my counter charge declarations saw a Tuskgor Chariot flee the table. The other Chariot died over an extended period after being charged by my Swordsman detachment.

When Kurt's unit rallied behind the Reiksguard, things felt like they were under control a bit. The vulnerable character was shielded by a fresh unit (well, it was fresh and then Amber Spear killed half of them. Stupid spell). In this game again, I found myself with a decision to make. If I charged hard for the Gor unit, I would be flanked by the rallied Razorgor. This might be painful, but if I held (which Reiksguard are pretty good at), I could then flank them in turn with the other Knights, and get those points I had missed out on earlier. It was this, or sit back tamely and hope I didn't lose too badly to magic. I was there to play, so I gambled. The result was not fun.

Marius and his unit ploughed through the Ungor Raiders and into the Gor, whilst the remains of the Swordsman detachment (at this point 10 models) flanked the Gor. Given the building with all Simon's characters was within 12” of the Gor, they predictably held. Marius then got flanked by the vengeful Razorgor, which looked grim. It got worse when all of my carefully hoarded dispel dice failed to stop Wyssan's Wildform on the piggies. At Strength 7 on the charge, Marius' armour proved insufficient and he died. The Reiksguard held, but started to run out of models. The Swordsmen fled, leaving them on their own.

Just how on their own they were became apparent when my support plan (and the reason for this attack in the first place) fell apart. First, the gloating piggy that had eaten my Crossbowmen passed another Leadership 6 test to march and swept around to block Kurt's unit. Then Curse of Anraheir was cast on them. So if they wanted to charge the flank of the main Razorgor unit, they would need to charge the annoying single piggy (taking dangerous terrain tests on 1 or 2, with Kurt the main concern), then overrun, testing once again (and I might not even make the overrun distance. I seriously considered it, but decided I would almost certainly be killing my own general. So I didn't charge, and was rewarded by a couple of 12 power dice magic phases wiping out Kurt and the Inner Circle Knights, which panicked Luthor Huss off the table, and then watched Ludwig and the Reiksguard fail all their saves and die to a man. I had lost most of my army at the very end.

Full credit to him, Simon played the game pretty well. But I felt like the dice had punished me rather cruelly for trying to make a game of it, and I was left looking at a thumping defeat for my efforts. It was pretty depressing.

Result: 0-20

So at the end of day 2, I was feeling a bit tired and down. I'd had a couple of games that had proven depressing for different reasons, and was hoping the final day would be more fun.

Game 7: Dawn Attack
Matt Sellick, Empire

Arch Lector on War Altar with Horn of Sigismund, Sword of Antiheroes, Talisman of Preservation, Heavy Armour, Shield
Wizard Lord (Level 4, Lore of Life) with Talisman of Endurance, Dispel Scroll
Captain BSB with Full Plate Armour, Shield, Griffon Banner
Captain on Pegasus with Full Plate Armour, Shield, Dawn Stone, Sword of Swift Slaying
35 Swordsmen with Full Command, 2 detachments of 9 Swordsmen
12 Archers
5 Inner Circle Knights with Musician
30 Greatswords with Full Command
Great Cannon
Celestial Hurricanum
Steam Tank

Matt had an interesting Empire army. It was closer to a competitive build than mine, however there were still things about it that I would have changed. Regardless, there were things here to cause me trouble. The Steam Tank might prove vulnerable to Runefangs, but if it got the charge, it would do bad things to my Knights. The War Altar wouldn't have bothered me overly, but the Sword of Antiheroes was a bit of a menace when my combat units tended to have 2 characters in them. And then there was the level 4 life wizard...

The scenario was Dawn Attack, and Matt set up first and got the first turn. We both had both of our forces pretty central – the random deployment did little to either of us. Matt advanced a bit in the first turn, but didn't do any damage. The Steam Tank misfired and blew off all its steam, whilst the Cannon failed to hurt mine. In return I advanced a fair bit, although Marius stalled his unit by having random delusions and they suffered from Stupidity for the turn. My Cannon aimed back at Matt's, but misfired and didn't shoot.

Matt moved his Swordsmen (with Wizard Lord and BSB) in from my right (they were the only thing that landed on that side of the table) and started lining me up for Dwellers, but I managed to fend it off for a turn (with a scroll, I think). The next turn he got it off on the Halberdiers, killing 17 of them and one of my Wizards. Immediately before that however, I knocked 3 wounds off the War Altar with Banishment. Unfortunately the Arch Lector emerged unscathed. Matt's Cannon and Steam Tank woke up in the second turn, and managed to kill my Cannon between them.

Matt's Captain on Pegasus spent a couple of turns on my other flank trying to pin down my other Wizard. Eventually I had to let him charge the rear of the Swordsman detachment, where the Wizard had gone. Steadfast and some good defensive fighting from the Swordsmen held me in place for a few turns, when my Archers decided to charge him in the rear. At that point he suddenly fired up, did 4 wounds, won combat by 1, broke both units and ran down the Swordsmen and Wizard. Sure, wait for the cavalry to arrive, then break everyone. Weird dude, that Captain.

After his momentary lapse in the first turn, Marius remembered where he was and led the glorious charge of the Reiksguard into the Inner Circle Knights. Marius cut down a few and the rest fell to my lances. I overran into the Hurricanum, right next to the Steam Tank. Fortunately it misfired again, just when it was needed to counter-charge me. This meant I was free to destroy the Hurricanum, then reform and charge back around into the front of the Swordsmen with their characters. The BSB died to the charge, despite parrying Ludwig's killing blow attempt. The Wizard Lord was made of sterner stuff and took 3 rounds to fall to Marius in a challenge, but eventually fall he did, and the Swordsmen finally broke once I had killed enough to remove Steadfast (ie more than 25 of them)...

Kurt's unit of Knights charged into the Greatswords alongside Marius' initial push, but their success was more limited. They hammered the Greatswords, but their Stubborn held them in place, even without the BSB being nearby. Then the War Altar charged in alongside them, and Luthor spent the next few turns passing ward saves heroically against the angry Arch Lector. I destroyed the War Altar but the Arch Lector held, and with just 4 Greatswords remaining, the Steam Tank finally arrived in the flank. It killed all 6 or so of the remaining Knights, leaving Kurt and Luthor by themselves. Kurt took the time to cut down the remaining Greatswords, but the following turn he could only take 2 wounds off the Steam Tank as both he and Luthor finally perished.

Elsewhere, the Halberdiers managed to kill Matt's Archers, but then were destroyed by the Pegasus Captain (who had finally worked out how to kill things). The Swordsman detachments both died to my Outriders and Crossbowmen. In the end Matt was left with a wounded Steam Tank, a Cannon, the Pegasus Captain and his Arch Lector (now on foot). 4 models left, but he had won. The loss of both my wizards, the Halberdiers and Swordsmen, the Cannon, and Kurt and Luthor with their entourage was enough to tip things in Matt's favour. It was a good game – exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

Result: 9-11

Game 8: Battleline
Jason Harris, Dwarfs

Runelord on Anvil of Doom with 2 Runes of Spellbreaking
Thane BSB with Master Rune of Gromril, Rune of Brotherhood
Dragon Slayer
40 Longbeard Rangers with Great Weapons, Heavy Armour, Throwing Axes, Full Command, Ancestor Rune (I think)
40 Miners with Full Command, Steam Drill, Blasting Charges
29 Slayers with Standard, Musician, 4 Giant Slayers
Cannon with Engineer, Rune of Forging
Organ Gun

So, with my faith in the fun of Warhammer restored, I entered the last game and found myself facing a 3 horde Dwarf army with 3 deployments and an Anvil. Uh-oh... Fortunately, the game turned out to be good fun.

The table had a big hill in the middle, with a couple of houses over to my left. Jason's deployment was comically short, with the Cannon going to my right of the house in his deployment zone, the Anvil to my left (so basically tucked away in the corner), the Organ Gun near the centre (it could just get up onto the top of the hill), and the Slayers between the Cannon and the Organ Gun, to the left of centre. I put my Cannon way over on the right, out of sight of Jason's (but in sight of the Organ Gun). The Crossbowmen went in the centre at the base of the hill, looking up at the Organ Gun. The Knight units went to the left of that, with the remaining units hard on the left, looking to pass to the left of the buildings.

Once this was all done, the Longbeards and BSB chose their scouting location. They went near the centre line, slightly to the right of my Crossbowmen and looking to sweep down my lines as I advanced. I explained to Jason afterwards that I felt this was a mistake – that unit could have taken both of my cavalry units in a straight up fight, and he probably should have just planted them in front and blocked my advance, waiting for the Miners to arrive behind. Anyway, I was very glad he didn't do that, and even more pleased when I managed to get the first turn. My army rushed across the table, whilst the Outriders managed to shoot a wound off the Anvil after Vanguarding. That was a good start. My Cannon failed to wound the Organ Gun, and then the Crossbowmen left it on one wound. That was not so good, as it had my onrushing cavalry firmly in its sights.

The Longbeards performed a swift reform and headed for the flank of Kurt's Knights, putting them 10” away. The Organ Gun fired 10 shots and killed 5 of them, then the Rune Lord donged his Anvil and I decided a 7 was a bit too easy to make the charge, and fled Kurt's Knights through the Reiksguard next to them. As it happened, the Dwarfs rolled a 3 and came nowhere near me. Ah, the benefits of hindsight.

In my next turn I charged the Cannon with the Reiksguard (who had Birona's Timewarp on them, making the charge much easier) and Marius cut down all the crew by himself. However, I had been careless with the charge angle and couldn't overrun off the table because of the building. That was stupid. Now I had a horde of angry slayers in my flank, all of about 3” away. I reformed to face them, but it was not good. I failed once more to hurt the Organ Gun with my shooting, which was not cool as Kurt's unit rallied in range. In a vain effort to improve my situation a little, I managed to cast Net of Amyntok on the Anvil, so there was a chance it would waste its turn if it rolled a 5 or 6 for the Strength test.

As the Slayers looked at charging my careless Reiksguard (see, it was totally their fault. Not mine. I'm just the general), the Miners came on right next to them – 1” away. The Anvil was going to have a field day with this. Then I realised what to do, and fled when the Slayers charged. I passed straight through the house that had messed up my glorious charge, and it guaranteed I got away. Marius and a Knight were both wounded in the process, but that as acceptable. At least they were alive, about 7” from the side of the board and right in front of the Anvil, with all the Dwarfs on the other side of the building. Yes!

At this point Jason realised he still had an option. The fleeing Reiksguard were exactly 15” from the Slayers, whose failed charge had left them facing right toward the gap between the houses. They could charge me and make me flee again if the Anvil worked. First, he had to make a Strength test. He rolled a 1. Curses! Then, he needed the 2+ for the Anvil to work. He rolled another 1! Yes! I was saved! Then he had to roll on the misfire table, and rolled another 1... The Anvil was gone!

The Organ Gun ignored Jason's misfortune on the other side of the table and opened up on the Knights led by Kurt. He rolled a 6, and with admirable Dwarfish greed, rerolled it and got a 10. With another deafening roar, all of the remaining Knights were killed, which panicked Kurt and Luthor and they fled to safety (safety being outside of 24” of the Organ Gun of DOOOOM!).

Much of the rest of the game was a slightly strange stand-off. Marius' Reiksguard rallied and turned to face the gap between the buildings, but were unwilling to charge a unit like the Slayers with no chance of breaking them, and with first the Miners and then the Longbeards threatening a counter-charge. I fiddled about for a couple of turns, and Luthor joined the Reiksguard whilst Kurt (who was not allowed because Marius was already in there, and would not tolerate his foul odour so nearby) moved around near Jason's table edge and threatened to charge the flank of the Miners by going through the narrow gap behind the building. I also shot off a handful of Longbeards and 10 Slayers. The Longbeards continued to advance and the Organ Gun had backed off the hill to save itself and started to move sideways towards the buildings and the rest of my troops as well. I did throw a 12 hit Banishment at the Organ Gun, but simply could not take off its last wound.

Kurt's presence resulted in Jason doing something slightly strange, and the Miners reformed to face the lone horseman. It meant Kurt didn't dare charge for fear of their throwing charges, but it also meant the Miners were no longer a counter-charge threat. Emboldened, I but the bullet and charged the Slayers in the final turn. I moved 3 units up in waves to prevent a potential counter from the Longbeards (enough that I could flee twice without fear of him catching anything), but I needn't have bothered. That magic phase saw Speed of Light and Birona's Timewarp both go off on the charging Reiksguard, and the resulting carnage was palpable. All 20 of the Slayers were skewered, hacked and hoofed down, including the Dragon Slayer who took 5 wounds from the rabid Marius in a challenge. With the Slayers wiped out, I could overrun. Unfortunately the Miners didn't panic, but it did mean all my efforts to prevent a charge from the Longbeards were unnecessary as the Reiksguard passed out of their arc.

Seeing what I'd done with all the waves of troops in front of the Longbeards and knowing he would get points for none of them once they had fled away, Jason did the only sensible thing. He elected not to charge, and instead fired the Organ Gun into the front unit, which was my Outriders. 6 hits was enough to wipe out the unit, and with that the game was over. Jason had killed the Outriders and Inner Circle Knights (all with Organ Gun shots), and I had killed the Cannon, the Slayers, and the Anvil (well, I took credit for that. I didn't actually do the killing myself...).

Result: 13-7

The games on the final day had both been great fun against really nice guys, and were exactly what I needed at the end of a long tournament. In the end I found myself on 75 battle points, which was not quite breaking even out of the total of 160 on offer, but then it was not exactly the best list. 3 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses seemed a reasonable return. I also walked away with 3rd best sport, which was excellent. I ended up with a disappointing comp score of 2/5, which given the terribly flawed nature of my list was probably not appropriate, but given I wasn't aiming to finish high, it didn't really matter to me. I did wonder what the scorers would make of my bevy of special characters. Turns out they didn't know quite what to make of it...

At the time of writing the final standings have not been released, so I can't tell you where I finished in the pack of 94 players, but with the comp score I got, it will be in the lower half. I'll update with a comment once I know the final situation.

I think I have special characters out of my system for now, although Marius Leitdorf did kind of grow on me (kind of like a lunatic fungus). We may yet see him again. And he's such a pretty figure...


  1. Thanks for the game Greg! Shooting and avoiding combat is just so much fun. Time to work out a way to do this with empire.

  2. Yep, thanks for the game! As for the other thing, I could probably offer some suggestions. But I'm not going to help you slide further into darkness. You can do that on your own...

  3. I was shattered to realize that I cant run away and shoot with a steam tank like I do my iron blaster because of random moment.

  4. Great report again Greg, thanks for takeing the time to write it up. Two things I think are needed, 1. new book for DE and 2. Comp with people who know what's what. :)

  5. I see the Cancon organisers failed to heed Pudding's Tenth Principal of Terrain Production. Which saddens me greatly.