Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Empire in Flames 2013 Report, Part 1

Well Empire in Flames is over for another year, and as usual I am going to give a run-down of my experiences at the tournament. Anyone who follows this blog will know how much work I set myself to get my army ready for the event, which was unusual in its format – players fielded 2000 point armies, 500 points of which were an allied force. I managed to get talked into fielding an Empire army with Ogre allies, with the Ogres all dressed to match the main army as per my existing unit fillers. This was a good plan, admittedly. It was just trying to convert and paint 3 Mournfangs, 2 Ironguts and a Sabretusk in 2 weeks that was the problem.

In the end I managed to get the new models finished on the night before the event (as is traditional), and I was ready to play. I've posted my army before, but for your convenience here it is again:
My Empire in Flames army. Apologies for the flash; the white table was playing havoc with my camera's lighting.
1500pts: Empire
  • Arch Lector on War Altar with Armour of Destiny, Sword of Might, Shield = 324
  • Captain of the Empire on Barded Steed with Battle Standard, Full Plate Armour, Shield, Talisman of Endurance, Biting Blade = 149
  • Battle Wizard (Level 2, Lore of Light) with Dispel Scroll = 125
  • 40 Halberdiers with Full Command = 270
    • Detachment of 6 Archers = 42
  • 9 Knights with Standard, Musician, Great Weapons = 218
  • 4 Demigryph Knights with Standard, Musician, Lances, Shields = 252
  • Great Cannon = 120
TOTAL = 1500

500pt Allies: Ogre Kingdoms
  • Bruiser with Heavy Armour, Charmed Shield, Great Weapon = 125
  • 3 Ironguts = 129
  • 3 Mournfang Cavalry with Heavy Armour, Iron Fists, Standard, Gleaming Pendant = 225
  • 1 Sabretusk = 21
TOTAL = 500

When I arrived at the event and got my scorecard, I discovered that I had been given a 4 out of 10 for composition. This was probably fair enough, given that for all my list had little shooting and only moderate magic, it did include 2 units of monstrous cavalry which could be pretty powerful in a smallish 2000 point game.

As usual, I will try (and probably fail) to be pretty brief in my descriptions of my games.

Game 1: Battleline
Nick Hoen: Tomb Kings with Lizardmen
Nick Hoen, who appears to be undressing that iced coffee with his eyes...
Nick's Tomb King and Lizardman army
Tomb Kings
  • Liche High Priest Level 4 Dispel Scroll
  • 3 Skeleton Chariots
  • 3 Skeleton Chariots
  • 17 Skeleton Archers Standard Bearer Musician
  • 3 Sepulchral Stalkers
  • 4 Necropolis Knights Standard Bearer Musician Entombed
  • Tomb Scorpion
  • Tomb Scorpion
  • Hierotitan
  • Skink Chief Dragonbane Gem Javelin Shield Light Armour
  • 12 Skink Skirmishers Javelin/Shields
  • 12 Skink Skirmishers Javelin/Shields
  • Stegadon
Comp: 6/10

Up first was a grudge match with the man responsible for me committing to the mad plan of trying to get those Ogres done in time for the tournament – the Father of Lies himself, Nick Hoen. Of course, the joke had been somewhat on him. He had been at my place the previous evening, frantically trying to paint half his army before the event. It turns out he had committed to a stupid plan as well. Whereas I was done by midnight, he was still going at 2am. Of course, this kept me up to. So maybe the joke was on me after all. Anyway, at some point during the evening we decided we should grudge each other in the first round, so here we were.
Nick's deployment. The Hierophant is in the Skeleton Archers on the right, and there's a Skink Chieftain in the Skinks toward the left.
My deployment. Note the Sabretusk that was banished off to the right as a potential panic risk once I realised a quarter of my army didn't get my general's leadership or my BSB's reroll...
Nick's Lizardmen were specifically painted up for this event, so they match the Tomb Kings beautifully.
The Hierotitan, who proves too much bling is simply not a thing. As any dedicated pimp or rapper could have told you.
This Stegadon is actually a Stegadon. As opposed to Nick's normal Warsphinx, which is also a Stegadon. Only it lugs Tomb Guard around. On the bright side, it gains 2 Toughness as compensation. But that is irrelevant for this game, as the Warsphinx is not here.
The Cold Ones also have to pull dead things around, but they don't get any compensation. Unless you count impact hits. And immunity to their normal stupidity. Confused yet?
My forces. Note the Ogres hiding behind the Archer detachment. Nobody is shooting their ankles without a penalty for hard cover. Boo yeah.
Doggies to the left of me, doggies to the right...
And here I am, stuck off on the flank by myself. Like a leper. Pity me.
During deployment, Nick chose to tunnel with everything he had available – both Tomb Scorpions, the Sepulchral Stalkers and the Necropolis Knights. Despite this, I managed to get the +1 for the first turn, and then promptly lost the roll-off. This was significant given how much of Nick’s army was not on the table to begin with, as it meant it could arrive before my second turn. My deployment was pretty rough, thanks largely to my not having used my allied force before (I was too busy modelling to play any practice games), and only just paying proper attention to the allies rules as we were putting stuff on the table. I had assumed my Ogres could use the Arch Lector’s leadership, the BSB’s rerolls and the Hatred from the War Altar. It turns out none of these things were true (Empire and Ogres are (“Suspicious Allies”), although I could still target them with spells (including the Arch Lector’s prayers). In the end it was not that important – at least I found out before the game actually began. And if I had cared to prepare properly, it would have come as no surprise at all. Hell, I could have looked at the rules before making my army…
Nick's first turn.
In Nick’s turn he didn’t advance a whole lot, shifting things around a bit and waiting for his reinforcements to arrive. The shooting was uneventful (2 of my Archer detachment died) and I think the sum total of the magic ended up with the Hierotitan getting a 5+ ward save. It was almost like he expected it to get shot…
My first turn.
In my turn I shot the Hierotitan. I took a few wounds off it with a blast of Strength 5 Banishment from the War Altar (I think I did 16 hits), then finished it off with the Cannon. It was not a bad start. I moved up a lot more than Nick, as you might expect given an army based around close combat. I actually declared a charge on the Stegadon in the centre, which had come within 19” of the Mournwolves. Needing an 11 on the dice, I rolled a 10. So close. It was one of those things where it was unlikely, but I had little to lose and the game probably would have been over if I’d made it. The Sabretusk doggy swung around past the Hippo-sphinx statue-thingy, trying to be annoying. For their part, the Wolfygryphs showed a pretty casual disdain for Nick’s army as a whole and lunged across the table.
The Sabretusk heads off to annoy someone who is not terrified of his panic-causing potential.
The Cannon crew are nervous.
The Wolfygryphs are less concerned.
They came from behind: The Necropolis Knights appear before moving right up behind the White Wolves.
In turn 2, everything except the Sepulchral Stalkers appeared from underground. The Necropolis Knights emerged behind my White Wolf Knights, then moved right up in their rear so they couldn’t escape. One Scorpion sat immediately in front of the Wolfygryphs to slow them down, whilst the other went right behind my Cannon, making no effort to hide its snippy-snippy intentions. The Skinks to my right entered the large building, shot one of the Ironguts, and watched the rest panic, fail to rally, and depart the table. Flee, my pretties! A good start to the event for them. The other Skink unit turned and scooted across the table toward my Sabretusk and shot him dead very convincingly with their nasty poisonous javelins. Boo!
The Skinks occupy the building, looking for a better vantage point.
They're on the roof!
The Skinks scamper across and do bad things to my poor doggy.
In my turn I was left reacting to Nick’s efforts. The White Wolves did all they really could do, and turned to face the inevitable charge of the Necropolis Knights. The Wolfygryphs charged and killed the Scorpion in front of them, narrowly failing to overrun into the Stegadon behind. The Mournwolves had also charged that Scorpion in the flank, and their overrun too fell short of the Skinks nearby (rolling a 7 when they needed an 8). A couple of slightly better rolls and the whole flank would have been sorted. My Ogre Bruiser decided something had to be done about the Skinks in the building, so charged straight through the wall (Ogres make their own doors) and killed a couple, most likely with falling bits of masonry courtesy of his dramatic entrance. It was enough to scare them out of the building, but they didn’t run very far before rallying. I think my Cannon tried to shoot a Necropolis Knight and misfired – it certainly did nothing.
The Wolfygryphs and Mournfangs prove a little too much for 1 Scorpion to handle.
But the overruns fall short.
What, is there someone behind us?
Da boss Ogre is in da house! Which means da Skinks are not! Hooray!
Nick’s third turn was a doozy, and really ended the game as a contest. The Necropolis Knights charged the White Wolves and killed 5 of them, taking basically no harm in return. I managed to hold narrowly, thanks to the BSB’s calming presence. The Scorpion behind my lines charged the Cannon, killed it outright, and overran straight into the flank of my War Altar, which had been moving to counter the Necropolis Knights. The Scorpion then proceeded to beat the Altar repeatedly in combat, thanks partly to a series of failed Fear and Combat Reform tests by the bravest model in my army. Eventually it was too much for the Arch Lector and he turned his wolfy wagon and fled, and although he escaped it was the Scorpion’s turn next and another charge saw the fleeing War Altar destroyed.
The Halberdiers pay the price for straying too close to the Chariots.
The tunnellers engage.
The White Wolves brace for the inevitable.
You shall not passss! The Chieftain shows the Mournwolves who's boss. Before running away.
Not a great first round for the Empire Knights.
The Scorpion scythes through the Cannon like it's not even there. Then the Arch Lector claps his hands over his ears and tries to pretend that the Scorpion isn't there either...
That plan doesn't work, so he runs away instead. And gets run down shortly thereafter.
The Halberdiers and their Wizard had been a little careless with their movement, and left Nick’s Chariots a 16” charge, which they made. The Wizard was duly assassinated (the main point of the charge), and it took several rounds for the Halberdiers to beat them down, thanks partly to Desiccation dropping their Strength by 1 for a full turn. Nearby the Bruiser copped a volley from the Skeletal Archers whilst the Skinks rallied next to them. This wounded the Ogre, who moved back out of the building before charging in again when the Skinks made another appearance. In the end he succumbed as he tried to clear them out. I think he stepped on a poisoned javelin or something – couldn’t have been wounded by a Skink in close combat.
The Mournwolves and Wolfygryphs get to work on the left flank.
The Stegadon manages to survive this. But runs away and doesn't survive that.
The Halberdiers fight on as the Bruiser watches on from his hiding place behind the building.
The left flank is under control.
In my turn the Wolfygryphs charged the flank of the Stegadon (which had put itself on a funny angle to try a trick shot with its giant bow down the line). I failed to kill it, but it obligingly broke instead and I ran it down. The Mournwolves charged the Skink Chieftain who had moved to block them, but he fled and panicked his fellow Skinks, allowing the Ogres to redirect into the Chariots, who died very quickly. That flank was going well. Until…
Ta da!
The Sepulchral Stalkers arrived and put themselves immediately behind the Wolfygryphs, where they would be safe. Then they sent fricken laser beams at my poor Mournwolves, who were completely wiped out. It was about twice the damage they should have done, but the Wolfygryphs didn’t know that. They thought the apocalypse had just arrived behind them and panicked, fleeing through the dying remains of their larger cousins. This then started a pattern. They rallied the next turn, lost one of their number to the Super Snakes following them and panicked again, rallying in my turn in order to get lasered yet again (Nick was rolling 20 or more hits each time), panicking a final time before rallying right on the table edge (they failed to make it off by about 2mm). In some ways they judged it well, but they certainly didn’t cover themselves in glory.
The Wolfygryphs rally after a momentary lapse.
And then they rally again after 2 more momentary lapses. A fraction of an inch from the table edge.
The White Wolf Knights resisted the Necropolis Knights for a few rounds, but in the end they died shortly before the cowardly Arch Lector met his fate. This opened up a flank charge on the Halberdiers just as they had finished off the Chariots. The combat was short and ugly, and they broke and were run down.

By the end all I had left was the 2 Wolfygryphs standing right on the table edge, holding each other, waiting for the end to come as the laser eyes of the Stalkers charged up once more (I assume it’s a bit like that laser the Death Star is carrying about). Everything else was dead. Nick had lost both Chariot units, a Scorpion, a Stegadon and a Hierotitan. It was a shellacking.

Result: 2-18 (1-19 after comp)

In terms of what I could have done better, I kind of let Nick kill my Wizard and bog down my Halberdiers. I had been trying to get into a useful position to threaten the Skeletal Archers and Hierophant once the Wolfygryphs and Mournwolves had broken through the centre. I was casual with their placement in terms of the Chariots and paid the price. On the other side, the destruction of the enemy took longer than it probably should have thanks to everyone failing to make moderate overrun rolls. This gave the Stalkers too much time to appear and roll me into oblivion. Not really my fault there. My deployment had probably not been the best, and I could have done more to protect my rear from the tunnelling units. The Bruiser’s in-and-out experience with the building was probably inefficient, as I had really pinned my hopes on the Skinks fleeing further when I broke them the first time, or not rallying. Neither of these things happened and I was left scrambling to do something about it. Not sure what I could have done differently there. Maybe the Halberdiers would have been safer in there, but I wanted them to press toward the enemy Archers. Ah well.

Game 2: Blood and Glory
Steve Tuck: Ogre Kingdoms with Skaven
Steve Tuck.
Steve's Rhinogre army with Skaven hangers-on. The theme was that the Ogres didn't even realise they were getting help from a pack of sneaky rats. Such is the way of the rat ninja.
  • Tyrant, Giantbreaker, Sword of Striking, Trickster's Helm, Iron Fist, Heavy Armour.
  • Bruiser, BSB, Armour of Silvered Steel, Luckstone, Great Weapon, Lookout Gnoblar.
  • 7 Ironguts, Full Command, Standard of Discipline.
  • 10 Gnoblars.
  • 10 Gnoblars.
  • 8 Leadbelchers, Musician.
  • Gorger.
  • Gorger.
  • Sabretusk.
  • Sabretusk.
  • Assassin, Dragonbane Gem.
  • 10 Night Runners, Slings, Warp Grinder.
  • 7 Gutter Runners, Poison, Slings.
  • 6 Gutter Runners, Poison, Slings.
Comp: 5/10?

Well my first game hadn’t been the best start to the tournament, but that meant my next game would be against someone else who had a similarly poor start. That man was Steve Tuck, who had rather bravely entered an Ogre and Skaven alliance with not a drop of magic in it. Technically his allied force was not legal as an Assassin can’t normally lead an army, however the TOs had allowed it given the Clan Eshin theme of the force. Steve had about a bazillion units, however the 2 Gorgers started off the table, the Night Runners were busy tunnelling under it, and the Assassin and his entourage of 2 Gutter Runner units were “scouting” (read: hiding somewhere in the shadows). With 5 deployments cut out, he actually managed to get the +1 for the first turn. Unfortunately he then took a leaf out of my book by losing the roll-off anyway. It was very generous of him, and really not what he wanted. My right flank was basically barren. I had put my Cannon up on the only hill I had, despite a building blocking a lot of its line of sight. To the right of this, the only thing I deployed was the Sabretusk. He was tasked with sitting in a location that made it impossible to scout to my right or rear. He did this well, but he also did much more. Given I had blocked up the possibility of going behind my lines, the Gutter Runners scouted in slightly advanced positions where they could move up and throw lots of poisoned ninja stars at my Cannon. The Assassin went into the little house behind them, which was rather foolhardy given what a Cannon could do to him there. The only one who could foil the devious plans of the sneaky rats was the Sabretusk, although he had a little help.
Deployment complete.
The Rhinogres deploy heroically behind the hill.
The right flank is populated entirely by sneaky rats
The Assassin remembers belatedly that Cannons do D6 hits to Assassins in buildings.
Steve’s other forces deployed very deep, trying to keep away from my nasty monstrous cavalry. The Gutstar (the Ironguts with the BSB and Tyrant) went behind the hill, about 10” back from where they could have deployed. The Leadbelchers were with them, and the rest was chaff in the form of Sabretusks and Gnoblars.

As I say, I got the first turn and set about messing up Steve’s plans. First, the Mournwolves went for an epic (20”, I think) charge at the nearer, larger unit of Gutter Runners. They took the bait and stood and shot, managing to get 2 wounds past my armour (outrageous). Naturally the Mournwolves failed their charge, but this opened the path for the Sabretusk who could now charge in unmolested. He made the charge, failed to do anything in the combat in response to the Gutter Runners also failing to do anything (mad skills all round), and promptly broke them thanks to the charging bonus. He ran them down happily, panicking the other unit off towards the table edge. Not bad for a single doggy. The rest of my lines moved up, and the War Altar fired off a Banishment, managing to do 10 wounds to the Leadbelchers. Not bad at all. Their firepower had worried me, but now it worried me a lot less.
The Leadbelchers feel the wrath of the War Altar's Banishment.
The doggy rampant.
Behind the forest are the remaining Gutter Runners, trying to get as far away as possible from the fearsome doggy.
In his turn Steve advanced a bit with his Ogres, cresting the hill and preparing to engage. The Leadbelchers took 2 wounds off the Wolfygryphs, whilst the enemy Sabretusks moved up to block their charge and that of the Halberdiers. The fleeing Gutter Runners managed to rally, whilst the Assassin (who had survived a shot from the Cannon courtesy of its shot failing to bounce) slunk out the back door and kept an eye out for rampaging Sabretusks.
The Ogres advance tentatively, sending forth their own Sabretusks to try to slow the Empire forces down.
The Sabretusk blocking the Halberdiers. If done correctly, this guy should have been placed right in front of the Wizard, where she couldn't avoid his furry fury.
Go and delay the Wolfygryphs, he says. Worst. Job. Ever.
In turn 2 I charged and killed Steve’s Sabretusks with the Halberdiers and Wolfygryphs, but chose not to overrun in order to maintain my lines (and keep everyone within range of the War Altar, which gave everyone Hatred and reroll wounds that turn). The Mournwolves declared a charge at the Gnoblars next to the Gutstar, which Steve didn’t like – so they fled and failed to rally, heading off the table. The Mournwolves managed to redirect their charge, heading for the Gnoblars near where the remaining Gutter Runners had rallied, toward the centre of Steve’s back lines. They wiped out the poor Gnoblars (only 1 survived the impact hits), and this panicked the Gutter Runners again, who left the table. My Sabretusk went around the house on the right, looking for the Assassin.
The Ogres are getting surrounded very quickly.
Bustin' out: The Wolfygryphs looked too tough. The Halberdiers seemed much easier.
Meanwhile the Skaven support crew arrive, doing their best to block my entire army from responding.
Some hungry reinforcements arrive behind my lines. Gorgers!
In Steve’s turn he pondered what to do, but charging the Wolfygryphs with rerolled hits, wounds and Speed of Light on them seemed like a really, really bad idea. Instead both units of Ogres headed for the Halberdiers, and made the distance. I decided to hold, figuring I was a reasonable chance to be steadfast (which would have left the Ironguts at my mercy). Unfortunately the Ironguts rolled a 10 or more for the charge, giving themselves extra impact hits. I think I lost 10 models to gut charges alone, and the damage overall was rather catastrophic. For my part, I did 14 wounds. Most of those went to the Leadbelchers, who lost 3 models, but an Irongut champion also fell. The ogres then cut down another 15 models, including my Wizard. It was enough to cancel my Steadfast, and it meant I lost combat by 16 or so. The Halberdiers fled, but managed to escape both Ogre units with only a moderate roll. They were lucky. The War Altar was in the way of the pursuit of the Ironguts, so it received the charge.
The survivors of the Great Gut Charge head for relative safety.
The Arch Lector braces for impact as the Gutstar carries on.
Whilst all of this was going on, Steve was trying to ensure I couldn’t just fold his lines the next turn. The Night Runners emerged from the ground and managed to block the advances of my Wolfygryphs, Bruiser, Ironguts and Mournwolves (who had reformed to face the Ogres after the destruction of the Gnoblars). Not bad for a single unit with its weapon team. Over on my right, the Assassin turned on my Sabretusk and rather accurately hurled a throwing star into his face, wounding him with poison. Poor doggy.

In my turn I set about responding to the Ogre charge. The White Wolves swung around and flanked the Ironguts as they arrived to fight the War Altar. All round the combat was rather inept. The Arch Lector and Tyrant faced off in a challenge, but little was achieved. The Ogre impact hits all rolled 1s in contrast to what they had done to the Halberdiers, and the White Wolves (even with Hatred) only managed to cut down a single Irongut. I barely won combat. However, it was enough as Steve seemed to want to roll 11s for his re-rollable break test. They didn’t run far and were cut down by my units, and the demise of the Tyrant, BSB and unit standard meant I had broken the army for Blood and Glory. However, in this tournament the game continued and I simply gained 1000 extra victory points for my efforts.
The White Wolves flank the Gutstar and help run them down as they break.
There are not that many Ogres left. 2 Leadbelchers, and then a Gorger and an Assassin who are out of picture.
The Cannon claimed one of the Gorgers and wounded the remaining one.
Of course, there were not much left after this event. The Night Runners and their Warp Grinder died very convincingly in the same phase. One of the Gorgers caught a cannonball and died, and only my rolling a 1 for the number of wounds kept his friend alive – they had been lined up so perfectly! The Leadbelchers tried to panic the rallied Halberdiers, but could only manage to kill 2 men – not enough for a test. They were then charged and hacked down by the Wolfygryphs over a couple of rounds of combat.

Steve fought on however, and the Gorger started trying to charge everything in sight, intent on putting his Killing Blow to good use. My Knights (in particular my BSB) didn’t like the idea and fled, followed shortly by the Arch Lector on his War Altar as the Gorger redirected. This resulted in the Ogre Bruiser panicking as well, and suddenly the whole centre of my lines looked like it was a failed rally away from leaving the field. Thankfully the BSB rallied and managed to turn everyone else around as well, and eventually the Wolfygryphs got around to dealing with the Gorger once the Leadbelchers were gone.
My courageous Arch Lector leads by example and flees from the hungry Gorger.
He is joined in his retreat by the White Wolves and the Ogre Bruiser. Thankfully they all rallied...
All that left was the lone Skaven Assassin. After wounding the Sabretusk with his throwing stars, he chased it around the house as it fled back toward my Cannon. Another star brought down the poor doggy (another 6 to hit), and suddenly there was nothing between him and the Cannon. For 2 turns Steve managed to fend off my Banishment attempts from the War Altar (each time with fewer dice than I rolled to cast) and eventually charged the Cannon, cutting down the crew in a single turn. He turned, triumphant, just as the War Altar charged up for another shot. This time the spell got through, and the blast of energy engulfed the Assassin… doing only a single wound. The sneaky rat cackled, capered about, and disappeared into the shadows as the game ended.

Result: 20-0 (19.5-0.5 after comp)

In all, that game went pretty well. The Halberdiers were a bit of a hiccup and I was lucky not to have to hand over points for them, but by that point things already felt well under control. The Night Runners’ timely arrival did slow me down and prevent me responding to Gutstar’s charges the way I would have liked, but I had just enough tough units to counter the Tyrant and his mates, and once they were gone the game was over. I could probably have played a more chanceless version of the game by advancing more slowly and timing things around my magical supremacy, but I had a far larger number of capable units than Steve and it meant I had an advantage right from the start. And I had a Sabretusk. What more could you need?

Game 3: Battleline
Andrew Bradfield: Empire with Lizardmen
Andrew Bradfield. I must have been sitting down for this shot, given he seems to be towering over the camera and I don't remember him being quite so intimidatingly tall...
Andrew's Empire and Lizardman army, minus the lizardman part. I guess he hid them for the beauty pageant as they were borrowed.
  • Captain of the Empire on Barded Warhorse with Full Plate Armour, Shield, Biting Blade
  • Battle Wizard (Level 2, Lore of Light) with Dispel Scroll
  • Captain of the Empire (Battle Standard Bearer) on Barded Warhorse with Full Plate Armour, Shield, Warrior Bane, Talisman of Preservation
  • 10 Inner Circle Knights with Lances, Shields, Full Command
  • 32 Spearmen with Light Armour, Shields, Full Command
    • Detachment: 10 Swordsmen
    • Detachment: 10 Swordsmen
  • 3 Demigryph Knights with Lances, Shields, Musician
  • 3 Demigryph Knights with Lances, Shields
  • Great Cannon
  • Saurus Scar-Veteran with Great Weapon; Light Armour; Shield, Opal Amulet, Venom of the Firefly Frog
  • 18 Saurus Warriors with Hand Weapons; Shields, Full Command
  • 10 Skink Skirmishers with Blowpipes
  • 1 Salamander Hunting Pack
Comp: 5/10?

So after my second game I was back on a level keel and in the middle of the pack. My next opponent was Andrew Bradfield, who was the only other Empire player at the event. He may also have been the only other player with 2 units of monstrous cavalry. I managed to get the first turn in the game, which is always pleasing when there are 2 Cannons facing off with each other. My enthusiasm was tempered somewhat when my Cannon blew up with the first shot of the game. Ah well, I would need a new plan. My Sabretusk was heading that way anyway, around the enemy’s flank. That would have to do. The Bruiser ran along behind, whilst the Ironguts and Mourwolves advanced straight toward the enemy Demigryphs and Knights. On the other flank the Wolfygryphs moved well forward, daring the Saurus to charge them. The White Wolves swung around behind, with the War Altar nearby and the Halberdiers a bit further back. The War Altar cast Banishment at the Saurus to try to soften them up before the engagement with the Wolfygryphs, but managed only 2 hits and no wounds. Impressive.
By the time I remembered to take a photo, my Cannon had already blown itself up.
Turn 1, partway into Andrew's turn.
My brave Ironguts commence their flight.
The Saurus think they can take the Wolfygryphs? Really?
Andrew’s Saurus saw no option but to charge straight into the Wolfygryphs, and they would receive no immediate support from the Demigryphs because there were Skinks in the way. The main Spearman block advanced a little, as did the Knights next to them. The Demigryphs on the hill decided to ignore the rest of my units and charged the Ironguts, who turned and fled, with one of them tripping and drowning a little in the small swampy puddle. The Demigryphs barely moved with their failed charge, which meant my Sabretusk’s path to the Cannon was blocked. But that was OK, because Andrew’s Cannon also misfired, and would miss another turn (yay, blackpowder! Totally reliable). In combat the Saurus realised they may have made a mistake in charging when the Wolfygryphs tore the face off the Saurus Scar Veteran as well as a handful of his friends, without even rolling very well. Unfortunately the Saurus were Steadfast, so didn’t run off straight away.

In my turn 2 the Ogre Bruiser decided to try his luck with the flank of the Demigryphs. They thought this was a terrible idea and fled across in front of the lines. Unfortunately for them, it meant the War Altar could see them and declared a charge as well. This sent them back toward the Bruiser, and they ended up so close that he couldn’t fail to make the distance. They were gone. The Sabretusk moved further up and got ready to charge the helpless Cannon. The Mournwolves found that they only needed an 8 to charge the front of Andrew’s key unit of Knights, but they managed to stuff this up and exposed themselves to a counter-charge. The Ironguts failed to rally again and kept heading for my table edge.

On the other flank the Wizard tried her luck at Banishment, cast it with irresistible force, lost both her levels and killed 4 whole Skinks for her efforts. Dazzling. The Wolfygryphs mauled the Saurus enough that they lost their Steadfast, and they duly broke and were run down. The unit of Skinks was in the way of my pursuit, and it was determined that I was in the flank. Not ideal, but I went in anyway – exposing my flank to Andrew’s Demigryphs, but so close that they couldn’t all wheel into contact.
The epic duel between Wolfygryph and Demigryph begins.
In Andrew’s turn 2 the Demigryphs did indeed charge the flank of the Wolfygryphs and managed to kill one, but the mauling of the Skinks meant that I won combat by 4. Unfortunately the Demigryphs laughed in the faces of danger and probability and held their ground, although the sole remaining Skink had the decency/common sense to flee off the table. The Wolfygryphs reformed to face them and hoped they could roll better in a mirror-match. There was a Salamander slinking around my left flank, trying to breathe on my troops. In the first turn it had failed to make a shot on the Halberdiers, but this turn it did much better. Firing down the line of the White Wolf Knights, it managed to hit all 10 models and killed half of them. They didn’t panic, but the unit was crippled with a single blow.

On my right flank, Andrew’s Inner Circle Knights charged the Mournwolves as they sat about blaming each other for their miserable efforts the previous turn. They decided to flee, and headed for safety. As it turned out the Knights rolled pretty poorly anyway, and probably wouldn’t have made it. Ah well, I wasn’t to know that Andrew rolled about as well as I do (although he did warn me beforehand – I figured it was just talk)…
The Ogre Bruiser claims the fleeing Demigryphs for his lunch (in this picture they have already been eaten). It's possible this actually happened in turn 3 - I'm not entirely certain. It doesn't really matter.
In my turn 3 the White Wolves decided that a) there was no way I would roll well enough for my Wolfygryphs to beat Andrew’s Demigryphs in a straight fight and b) the Salamander was a fire-breathing miniature Dragon of terror, and so they headed into the Demigryphs to try to swing things in my favour. Next to them, the War Altar ploughed into the waiting Spearmen and was then flanked by the Swordsmen detachment. It was Operation Hold Everyone Up and Be Somewhere Useful For Your Prayers (bit of a mouthful but the acronym isn’t much better). To my relief the Mournwolves and Ironguts both rallied, and the Sabretusk charged the Cannon and started to chow down on the crew, although the one survivor managed to land a wound in return.
The Arch Lector goes it alone, winning the combat on the charge and getting well and truly bogged in the process.
The Sabretusk and Cannon crewmen have at each other.
The cowardly Ogres rally near my table edge.
My White Wolves were right to be sceptical about my ability to win the Demigryph fight. Even with the War Altar’s Hatred and rerolls to wound on the White Wolves and BSB, I barely managed to win the combat and the enemy held. The War Altar did better and won his combat thanks to his rerolls and impact hits, but the enemy were Steadfast next to the BSB, and were not going anywhere.
The White Wolf Knights try to rescue my Wolfygryphs, and just succeed in getting bogged as well.
Throughout the central combats, Andrew's Wizard was trying to swing things in his favour by casting Timewarp. One time he actually managed to cast it and we both forgot until it was too late to do much about it. Generally though, Andrew was busy declaring he would cast the boosted version of the spell and then rolling stuff like this. Well played, sir. We who cannot roll salute you!
Andrew’s turn saw no charges, but a number of things moved into position. His BSB left the Knights and moved around behind the Spearmen, ready to support the remaining Detachment in a rescue mission for the Demigryphs. The Knights continued to eye off my Mournwolves, although I don’t know what they were worried about – the guys were inept. The Salamander tried again to set fire to my Halberdiers, but ate 2 Skink handlers instead.

In the ongoing combats, the Demigryphs continued to maul my Wolfygryphs and to hold their ground. I was really getting nowhere fast. The War Altar was wounded repeatedly by the Spearmen and Swordsmen over the first couple of rounds of combat, and was down to 1 wound by now. After failing all 4 of my ward saves up until this point, I would pass almost as many for the rest of the game, each one to preserve my last wound. Way to make a drama out of average rolling. The Arch Lector cut down a couple of Spearmen and held due to his Stubborn. The Sabretusk finished off the Cannon and looked hungrily for more victims.
The Salamander and Archers would soon be engaged in a bloody combat in which there could be no winner.
It was my turn 4, and I came up with a grand and cunning plan to carry the day. The Sabretusk charged down the hill into the rear of the enemy BSB. The Halberdiers flanked the Swordsman detachment fighting the War Altar, and the Mournwolves declared a charge on their rear. Only they needed to roll a 7, which was well beyond them. Idiots. Now they were going to get charged by the Knights again. Grinding his teeth in frustration, the Bruiser stepped across and blocked the path of Andrew’s Knights, muttering something about the Mournwolves not being worth the effort. The Ironguts moved up too, also looking toward the Knights. On the other side, the Archers moved to block the Salamander and assumed a 3x2 formation. This resulted in a charge from the Salamander, and a combat that saw half the Archers die and the Salamander dropped to a single wound (clubbed almost to death with bows in close combat), with the fight still raging at the end of the game.
The grind continues. I have very few Wolfygryphs left...
The central combat was key to my grand plan. Even without the Mournwolves, it could still work. The Halberdiers slammed into the flank of the Swordsmen and cut down half of them, whilst the Arch Lector continued to lay about himself with his Sword of Might. I won combat comfortably, and the arrival of the deep block of Halberdiers meant the Steadfast of the Spearmen was lost. The detachment broke and ran, being run down by the Halberdiers. The Spearmen failed their break test and the Arch Lector prepared to pursue into the flank of the enemy BSB, when that same battle standard gave the Spearmen a reroll. And they rolled the double 1s they needed, and held. In effect the BSB had saved himself. This meant my doggy was trying to chew on the BSB all by himself. With a rear charge down a hill this might have been possible, but thanks to the wound inflicted upon him by the stubborn Cannon crewman earlier, the BSB was able to cut him down before he could land a bite. Alas, poor doggy. It was a good plan.
The Halberdiers deal with the Swordsman detachment, but the Spearmen refuse to budge.
All of this meant that the Demigryph combat continued as before, and I kept taking more wounds than I could inflict. I was down to a single Wolfygryph. It was vexatious (if you look up that word, you will find that it describes the situation where you have the same unit as your opponent, with another unit helping, and 2 standards to his none, and cannot make any progress)…
Andrew attempts to rescue his own Demigryphs with a flank charge on the White Wolves.
In Andrew’s turn 4 the rescue party arrived. Fresh from his glorious beating down of the rampant Sabretusk, the BSB charged into the flank of the White Wolves, aided by the Wizard and his entourage of Swordsmen. My BSB had to issue a challenge to step across and ensure nothing bad happened. I still lost the combat, and my remaining Wolfygryph (the banner bearer) promptly fled and died defending his standard against the pursuit that didn’t happen because the White Wolves were held in place by the presence of my BSB. Grrr. The Arch Lector was back to fighting Spearmen all by himself because the Halberdiers were stuck behind him, but at least he held as well (and kept passing that last ward save).

The Knights decided to charge the Ogre Bruiser right in front of them and wounded him, and although he struck down a Knight in return, he fled. The Knights considered giving chase, but it would have meant a flank charge from the Ironguts, and they thought better of it.

In my turn 5 the Mournwolves finally managed to make a charge, justifying the near-sacrifice of my Bruiser. They hit the flank of the Spearmen and did terrible things to them. The Spearmen broke and fled, escaping the pursuit of both the War Altar and Mournwolves. The BSB was not so fortunate, as the huge wolves arrived in his rear and snarled impotently as he was already in a challenge. The growling was apparently enough, and the BSB fled and died. The Demigryphs also finally gave up and ran straight off the table. The Swordsman detachment fought on, but the White Wolves turned to face them and cut them down with help later from the Mournwolves. The Ironguts tried to emulate this display and failed miserably, charging the Knights and getting cut down for their efforts, taking only a couple with them. The Bruiser rallied and watched sadly as his incompetent minions fell nearby.
The Mournwolves prove they can in fact make a charge, they just weren't trying until now.
The closing stages of the game saw the War Altar chase the fleeing remnant of the Spearmen off the table, the Swordsmen cut down by the White Wolves and Mournwolves, the Archers and Salamander continuing their stalemate, and finally Andrew’s Inner Circle Knights managing to corner and cut down my impotent level 0 Wizard as she tried to avoid combat. At the end Andrew had the Salamander, Knights and his general remaining, whilst I had lost the Demigryphs, Wizard, Sabretusk, Cannon and Ironguts. It was a solid win.

Result: 17-3 (16.5-3.5 after comp)

All in all, this game went reasonably well. I shouldn't have fed the Ironguts to the Knights, but I wanted a decent crack at them with something, and I figured a good gut charge roll or a failed fear test (the BSB was far away) would have swung it for me. Never mind, in the end the Mournwolves were the decisive factor when they finally made a charge. It was a real relief when the dice settled and they'd actually made it for a change, I can tell you. Next time they might want to not leave it so late...

So after 3 games I was sitting on 37 points which wasn't too bad, especially after the poor start to the day. I was probably in about 7th or 8th position, and a big win away from playing some of the leaders. We would see what the morrow would bring.

You can read about Day 2 here.

1 comment:

  1. The detail and effort you put into these battle reports is greatly appreciated.