Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Empire in Flames 2013 Report, Part 2

This is a continuation of my account of Empire in Flames 2013. If you want to read about the first day, you can find it here.

My army ended up having a reasonable day on the first day of the tournament, so I was now poised to play some of the contenders for the top places. We will see how that went.

On to Day 2. Also known as Day of the Elves. You will see why...

Game 4: Battleline
James Milner: High Elves with Wood Elves 
James claimed to have left his normal glasses at home, but mentioned something about the previous night being a big one, so his real motive for wearing sunglasses remained open to interpretation.
James' High Elf and Wood Elf army. The Maiden Guard are actually just more Archers in the list. Because an Elf army can never have too many bows, apparently.
 High Elves
  • Archmage (Level 4, High Magic) with Dispel Scroll
  • Noble (Battle Standard Bearer) with Great Weapon, Dragon Armour, Charmed Shield, Radiant Gem of Hoeth (Level 1, Lore of Metal)
  • 15 Archers with Full Command, Banner of Eternal Flame
  • 15 Archers with Standard, Musician
  • 19 White Lions with Standard, Musician, Banner of Sorcery
  • 7 Swordmasters with Blademaster, Talisman of Loec
  • 5 Ellyrian Reavers
  • Great Eagle
  • Great Eagle
Wood Elves
  • Noble on Elf Steed with Dragonbane Gem, Hail of Doom Arrow
  • 11 Gladeguard with Standard, Musician, Gleaming Pennant
  • 10 Gladeguard with Musician
  • 8 Dryads
Comp: 6/10?

Having moved across from New Zealand recently, James has been a regular at the club for the last few months. However, I was yet to play him. He was a member of the Shirts off Warhammer team that beat Hampton at the VICCs a few weeks back too, so clearly some sort of redemption was in order.

I'm afraid I forgot to take a photo of deployment, so you'll have to make do with a shot from my first turn. I think James actually got the first turn, however not a lot happened then. His magic was basically all out of range (as he was sitting well back with an army of bowmen facing off against a fairly quick combat army), and the range and cover minimised the damage from his shooting. I did take a wound on the Mournfang, courtesy of my usual failure of armour saves. 
Partway through my first turn. As you can see, I wasn't wasting too much time advancing with the monstrous cavalry. I think the White Wolves moved after the photo. They're no good back there. Note the single tree in James' deployment zone. We figured an army composed of 25% Wood Elves should get a bonus forest 1/4 the normal permitted size...
The doggy heads off on a mission of annoyance. He copped a wound from the Archers for his trouble. Clearly he was already annoying someone!
The Elf flank, with the Archmage on the hill with the Archers. The BSB with Searing Doom up his sleeve was leading the White Lions nearby, whilst the Swordmasters hurried toward the house.
Glade Guard with High Elf Archers in support. The Wood Elf Noble was leading the Reavers in the background.
The Dryads had shuffled into the forest to commune with the other trees.
Now that we've sort of caught up with the game in terms of photos, the first turn was largely uneventful. After James moving little and achieving a similar amount, I don't think I even fired the Cannon because I didn't have a worthwhile target (I had deployed it defensively at the back, as there really were no great targets in the enemy army, full stop). I did try to fry the Swordmasters with Banishment, but for some reason James didn't like the idea and dispelled it. Still, I had now advanced well onto the field without taking significant damage. It was a good start.
This forest was actually a Fungus Forest, but that served me well when the detachment of Archers was wiped out and we realised that nobody would have to test for panic because they were all too stupid to notice.
In James' second turn, the Dryads moved up to block my monstrous cavalry, whilst the Swordmasters entered the house. I probably should have made more of an effort to attack them there, but I let them be (and would regret it later). The Glade Guard to my right backed up a bit and kept firing at the Mournwolves, to no effect (despite it being short range now). James shot Archer detachment to death, despite them being skirmishers in a forest. He also decided he didn't like my Ironguts, and fired his Hail of Doom Arrow at them. It fired a reasonable number of shots, but missed a lot and only wounded twice - and I rolled 2 6s to save! Such dice-rolling talent!
The table after James' second turn. There is still a roaming Sabretusk off the left of the screen. See, I told you I moved those White Wolves after the previous photo. That is a much better spot.
The Dryads look to block my Mournwolves' approach to the Glade Guard on the back of the hill.
In my turn things were going pretty well. I still hadn't taken much damage from the enemy shooting and was ready for some charges. The Wolfygryphs charged the flank of the Dryads, which compressed them enough to drag them out of the path of the Mournwolves. That freed them up to charge the Glade Guard as they wanted to. James decided to flee and promptly rolled a double 1. Clearly they were tripping on their girly skirts, or couldn't see properly through their silly masks, or whatever fashion craze is currently sweeping that part of the Elf world. 2" didn't cut it and the Glade Guard were ridden down, although at least I failed the reform test and left the Mournfang facing away from the rest of the enemy.
Maybe Stand and Shoot would have been a better policy. These Elves and their running away, no good can come of it...
The Wolfygryphs and Dryads rolled unimpressively between them, but it was still enough to take down half of the Dryads. The forest meant they were Steadfast however, and they held their ground.
The Dryads are dying, but still they hold. Failed to reform, though. I think they did try.
The rest of my lines advanced into a more aggressive position, and I shielded them a bit with an area-version of Pha's Protection, making everyone within 12" of the Wizard -1 to hit. It meant I could be a bit bolder with things like the White Wolves, who otherwise didn't fancy moving into short range of the Glade Guard. My Cannon managed to spot one of the Eagles skulking behind James' lines, and the excitement clearly got the better of them. They blew themselves up again. Serious pros, these guys.
The White Wolves move into a more threatening position.
The doggy continues his approach.
The centre of the table after my second turn.
In James' third turn I think some of the Elves were starting to get nervous. I was dangerously close to charges all over the place. As one of the most pressing threats, the War Altar found itself penned in by an Eagle in front and the Swordmasters behind as they left the building. Despite this, the Archmage left her unit on the hill and joined the BSB in the White Lions instead. She had obviously taken offence (or perhaps Khaine had) at the Ironguts' stalwart resistance to the Hail of Doom Arrow, and unleashed the Fury of Khaine. This did 12 hits which became 10 wounds, and the Ironguts could not repeat their previous armour save heroics and were wiped out.
Surrounded! Those Swordmasters don't seem to like my Arch Lector...
The combat between the Dryads and the Wolfygryphs went fairly predictably, and the Dryads succumbed without getting another chance at a stubborn test. I had to change the formation of my unit to reform, but would still be dangerous enough to deal with Glade Guard and Archers on the charge.
The victorious Wolfygryphs reform, now well within charge distance of the enemy.
At this point I forgot to take photos for a while, because dramatic events were afoot. And by that, I really mean bogus rolling that completely screwed James' chances of winning the game. In my third turn, the Wolfygryphs declared a charge on the flank of the Glade Guard near the centre of the table. I was pretty close, so they unsurprisingly chose to flee. Unfortunately this took them through the only unit of any consequence in James' army - the White Lions with the Archmage and BSB. In a moment of blind panic, they failed their re-rollable Ld 9 test, turned, and fled straight off the table. With them went James' hopes and dreams, all his magic, and the only unit that posed any threat to my main combat units. The game ended as a contest right there.

We kept playing, of course, The Arch Lector tried to bust out of the trap he was in by charging the Eagle, however he failed to kill it with impact hits and that gave it time to do a wound to him before he finished it off. He would come to regret that. His overrun of 11" just about got him to the Archers on the hill, and would mean the Swordmasters needed a decent roll to catch up. Elsewhere my forces advanced hard, knowing that the enemy resistance was all but spent.

Despite my Arch Lector's wild driving, the Swordmasters rolled the 7 they needed to catch him in the rear, and the champion immediately used his Talisman of Loec. It would mean he would die at the end of the round of combat, but not before he got a wound past the Arch Lector's saves. His friends did one more, which meant that the wound inflicted by the lowly Eagle came back to haunt him and he fell without striking back. The driver-less War Altar broke and ran, and failed to rally before heading off the table. Ah well. At least something went right for James.

The remainder of the game was short and ignoble for the Elves. Despite an Eagle blocking the path of my White Wolves, James couldn't keep my forces away from his units. The Halberdiers went into the front of the Archers nearby, whilst the Mournwolves hit the Eagle in the flank and overran into the flank of the same Archers. The Halberdiers smashed through the Archers, chasing them off the table, and carried on into the flank of the Ellyrion Reavers who had moved in behind. The remaining Elf units either fled from charges or were panicked by their comrades doing so, and all were caught or made it to the table edge. The sole survivor was the Wood Elf Noble, who rather sensibly hid behind my lines and made no attempt to do anything heroic.
The Eagle moves up to block the White Wolves, who elected not to charge, leaving it to the Mournwolves.
After "handling" the birdie, the Mournwolves find they're capable of fighting Archers as well. Is there no end to their talents?
The Halberdiers carry through into the Reavers at the back. Oh yeah, I had Birona's Timewarp on there as well. Because clearly they needed the boost...
The driver-less War Altar flees through the enemy to escape the Swordmasters. It panicked off the Sabretusk, too.  
The War Altar departs, leaving behind it the last resistance of the Elves before the panic and fleeing really set in.

Result: 17-3 (16-4 after comp)

That game was going OK for me before the disastrous panic test, but things would have been more interesting. The White Lions would have struggled against the sheer number of units heading their way, but they tend to hang around and deal a lot of damage before they go. Between that and the mages, James would still have been able to make a decent game of it. When they fled at the first opportunity, it really was game over.

Game 5: Watchtower
Ben Leopold: High Elves with Dwarfs
Ben Leopold, who had abandoned his usual Skaven and was looking to use my own High Elves and Dwarfs against me. Still a sneaky rat, then...
High Elves
  • Prince: Heavy Armour, Great Weapon, Null Stone
  • Mage: L1, High Magic, Annulian Crystal
  • Noble: Dragon Armour, Shield, Great Eagle, Great Weapon, Helm of Fortune, Guardian Phoenix, Battle Standard
  • 12 Archers: Standard, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame
  • 22 Spearmen: Full Command
  • 29 White Lions: Full Command, Amulet of Light, Gleaming Pendant
  • Runesmith: Gromril Armour, Great Weapon, Runic Talisman; Master Rune of Challenge, Rune of Spellbreaking
  • Daemon Slayer: Slayer Axes
  • 10 Quarrellers: Shields, Musician
  • 5 Troll slayers: Musician
  • 5 Troll slayers: 1 Giant Slayer, Musician

Comp: 6/10

My strong result in the previous game (courtesy of James and his generous dice) had sent me to perilous heights on the tables, and I found myself playing Ben Leopold, who was the tournament leader and in danger of running away with the title (I was well behind him, but the fact that I was the closest guy he hadn't played was testament to his growing lead). Ben normally uses Skaven, but has been branching out recently and had borrowed some of my High Elves and Dwarfs to try something a bit different for EiF. His list really contained 1 thing of note - a horde of 30 White Lions. This is the sort of unit that has always caused my cavalry-heavy Empire lists problems, and this would be no different. With no Steam Tank and only a moderate-sized unit of Halberdiers, I didn't have an answer for that regiment. This really meant the game would be about 2 things - the White Lions and the Watchtower.
Ben deploys with his White Lions wide on the flank (and well away from the Watchtower, thankfully), with the other sizeable unit, the Spearmen, heading straight for the objective. His sneaky Runesmith was just in front of the swamp near the centre.
My deployment was a bit of a mess. Nothing in my army wanted to fight the White Lions and I was scrambling to try to work out what to do about them.
The Runesmith deploys by himself, already warming up his Rune of Challenge.
The Watchtower. Not the only thing worth fighting for in the game, but it was worth 1000 victory points. So pretty much the main focus for us both.
I "won" control of the Watchtower, which meant Ben would automatically get the first turn. It meant that, for all that I could deploy my 3 poor Ironguts in there, I wouldn't be able to get anything into the building until after Ben had his second turn (and frankly, if I put my Ironguts in there, he probably would have been charging me in turn 1!). I decided to put nothing in there and do my best to race the zippy Elves to the objective. Anyway, this meant the game started with me watching as the enemy closed on the target. The Spearmen with the Mage stopped just short of the lip of the hill, shielding themselves from any potential charges and still within range of the tower. Meanwhile the White Lions swept around the flank, confident that they could take everything I could throw at them (would that it were not so). The Runesmith sauntered forward to within maximum range of my Mournwolves, making absolutely no secret of what he was going to do in the first turn - waste my Mournwolves' time. One unit of Slayers moved up next to him, whilst the others wheeled around on the other side of the Spearmen. The BSB on the Eagle moved up under cover of the Tower, eyeing my Mournwolves (or at least, where they would almost certainly end up).
The White Lions advance at best speed, whilst everyone shows slightly less confidence.
In my turn, the Runesmith used his Rune of Challenge to force my Mournwolves to declare a maximum range charge. Of course, had they made this, Ben's game would have been in tatters. The White Lions could not have responded and the unit would have run rampant. They did not make it. In fact, they were not even close and travelled 3" with their failed charge. I moved up to prepare a counter-charge with my War Altar. My Halberdiers moved at best speed toward the Watchtower, whilst next to them the Sabretusk sped off up onto the hill. He managed to get just far enough to block the path of the Elf Spearmen into the tower. They would have to waste a turn killing the doggy. A sacrifice, but a very important one. The Ironguts and Bruiser moved up as quickly as they could as well, making "come hither" gestures to the Slayers. My Cannon tried and failed to shoot the Runesmith for his insolent interference with my turn, and my magic was dealt with handily by Ben's anti-magic (not sure I got a spell off all game).
As things stood after turn 1.
My Mournwolves make little progress thanks to their optimistic (if involuntary) charge.
The doggy, he is annoying.
In turn 2, Ben's BSB on his Eagle charged from his hiding place behind the Watchtower, into my Mournwolves. I figured this was not the end of the world, but I ended up losing a Mournfang and the combat pretty badly. Thankfully I managed to pass my Ld 3 break test. Who knew I had such skills?
The Elf BSB (his banner is invisible - I don't have an Elf banner bearer on Eagle at the moment) charges the Mournwolves, but his assault is stymied by a surprisingly good break test on my part.
The Sabretusk also got charged by the Spearmen, and almost survived. Ben did the bare minimum damage to kill him. Despite this, the doggy had done his job. The Spearmen were stopped right in front of the Watchtower, and would have to wait another turn before they could enter. Given that the only other troops nearby were Dwarfs, nobody else was quick enough to make it and the tower would remain empty.
The doggy fights bravely, but ultimately he is over-matched.
The Slayers on my right decided to try their chances against the Ogre Bruiser, and charged down the hill to engage him. If the Dwarfs rolled well, my Ogre would be in trouble. Thankfully they didn't. I took no wounds and killed a couple (including the Giant Slayer champion) in return. Elsewhere the White Lions continued their advance toward my lines, and the Dwarf Quarrellers on the hill well behind them found themselves out of range of anything and decided to march up as well.
How things looked after Ben's second turn.
It was now my turn, and the Arch Lector immediately cracked the reins and slammed into the flank of the Elf BSB, seeking to rescue the Mournwolves before the White Lions arrived. Unfortunately his mission was only partly successful - he did 2 wounds to the Elf in response to his challenge, and nearly killed him. He managed to take 2 wounds in return though, which was not part of the plan. Worse, the equal wounds meant the break test for the Elf was all too easy and he held, meaning the White Lions were a simple charge away from tearing the heart out of my army.

If I had known things would go quite that badly, I might have blocked the advance of the White Lions with my Wolfygryphs. Instead I had moved up near their flank, out of their line of sight. I was looking to protect my best unit, but it was probably a mistake in the context of the game.
The War Altar charges in to rescue the Mournwolves, only to get bogged himself.
On the right flank, my heroic Archer detachment did their best to sound fearsome as they charged into the flank of the remaining Slayers fighting the Ogre Bruiser. They were mainly there to ensure I didn't have a disastrous round of combat and have to take a risky break test. Between them, the Ogre an Archers killed all but one of the Slayers that turn. The remaining one brandished his axe and prepared to meet his ancestors.
To the rescue! My Archers arrive in the flank of the Slayers, looking to help out their much larger friend.
My key action of the turn was to move the Halberdiers into the Watchtower. My doggy's death was not in vain; I had taken the tower. Now I just needed to hold it for at least 2 turns (silly random turn length)...
The tower is ours (or now)!
I also moved the Ironguts around into the flank of the Elf Spearmen. If they failed to push my Halberdiers out of the tower, they would find themselves in an uncomfortable position.

Ben's third turn started predictably, with the White Lions charging into the flank of my Mournwolves. Poor Mournwolves. Never had their fate been so inevitable...
Ooooh. This is gonna hurt...
The combat was exceedingly one-sided, with the White Lions wiping out the Mournwolves without even breaking a sweat. The Elf BSB also finished hacking down my Arch Lector, and his driver-less War Altar turned to flee, only to be pecked to death by the pursuing Eagle. For their part, the White Lions overran into my White Wolf Knights, who felt about as confident as the Mournwolves had.
"Prey to Ulric, Sigmar, and anyone else you can think of - the White Lions are here"
The Elf Spearmen sounded the charge and assaulted my Halberdiers in the building, cutting down a handful of my soldiers. They fought back, killing a few in return. I lost combat, but held due to Stubborn. The Elves were pushed back from the building and found themselves right in front of my Ironguts...

The Bruiser and his little mates dealt with the last of the Slayers they were fighting, and prepared to contribute elsewhere.
The Spearmen fail to dislodge the Halberdiers from the Watchtower, and now face the prospect of a gut charge to their flank.
My third turn had good and bad bits. The Ironguts declared their charge on the Spearmen, who realised how much trouble they were in, and decided to flee. Normally this would be suicide so close to the chargers, but there were Dwarfs on the other side of the that would give them a screen behind which to escape. This was all good, but Ben didn't realise that there was a flaw in the plan. The Wolfygryphs could now see the Spearmen, and were within charge range. They also declared a charge, and the Elves had no choice but to turn around and run straight back into the path of the Ironguts. They were destroyed, and my Halberdiers breathed a sigh of relief as their most immediate threat was removed. The Wolfygryphs redirected their charge toward the Quarrellers, but failed to make the distance. Those were the good bits.

The Ogre Bruiser realised he could see the Elf BSB as he set about tearing apart the remains of the War Altar on the other side of the hill (hooray for you and your target both being tall). He needed a big charge, but that just meant that a success would see him do more impact hits. I didn't make the charge. I think Ben fled, actually - passing through the White Lions and close to the swamp near my board edge.

Speaking of the White Lions, this was the thing that really went badly in my turn. I had narrowly failed to get Speed of Light off on my White Wolves, which would have done wonders for their survival. I then failed to cast Light of Battle, which would have made them unbreakable. Ah well, I did what I could. My BSB issued a challenge and was accepted by the Elf Prince. They wounded each other, but both survived. In my case this was only a temporary situation, however. The White Lions hacked down 7 of my Knights and took no damage in return, and I had been thrashed in the combat. The BSB frantically issued orders to hold, however even his reroll and Hold the Line! were not enough to keep the unit in place. The unit standard bearer and BSB died protecting their precious banners, and only the musician lived to flee. The White Lions elected to reform rather than pursue, looking toward the Cannon with evil intent.
Oh, the humanity: the sole survivor of the great White Wolf Massacre heads for the table edge, whilst the Cannon crew look on nervously.
Boo yeah! The Ironguts are so busy celebrating the demise of the Spearmen that they are unable to reform to make themselves useful next turn.
It was now turn 4, which could be the final turn of the game (if we rolled a 6 at the end). This meant Ben was starting to get nervous about my occupation of the 1000 point Watchtower. The Daemon Slayer tried to charge in and wrest it from me, but the distance was too great for his stumpy little legs. Fortunately the remaining Slayers had also declared a charge as a backup plan, and in they went. Unfortunately they found the Halberdiers ready for them, and were out-fought. They lost 2 of their number and were pushed back out of the building, their mission a failure.
I hear you knockin', but you can't come in!
Elsewhere, Ben's White Lions charged and destroyed the Cannon, reforming to face back toward the Watchtower when they were done. The Quarrellers realised that the Wolfygryphs were getting a bit close and gave them a volley, but had little success. 

In my turn the Wolfygryphs declared a charge on the Qarrellers, who prudently turned and fled. I redirected onto the Elf Archers, who also decided to flee. Once again Ben maybe hadn't really thought through the consequences of this, as the Ironguts could now see them (albeit from a very long charge distance away). They declared another charge and the Archers spun and headed off the table. By now the Ironguts were feeling very fearsome - nobody was game to face them in combat!

The Ogre Bruiser tried a huge charge on the Daemon Slayer as he approached the building, but fell short by a single inch! The Dwarf would be free to attack the building next turn, provided the game continued. I moved my Wizard directly in front of the White Lions, with express orders to hold the line and delay their advance on the Watchtower. She followed orders bravely, although it would clearly be the last thing she did.

Ben refused to take responsibility for the game-ending roll (knowing he was far more likely to roll a 6 than I was), so I picked up the dice and rolled, hoping for the game to end with me in control of the tower... I failed. The game would continue.

It was turn 5 now, and Ben's White Lions duly charged the pesky Wizard who so insolently barred their path. She spouted some Gandalf-style gobbledygook, but was interrupted rudely by several axes cutting her into several equal-sized pieces (Elves are very precise in their dismemberment).  
You shall not... erk.
Relieved at the temporary reprieve granted by the Bruiser's failed charge, the Daemon Slayer hefted his weapons and charged into the Watchtower, all by himself. "I have you outnumbered, 1 to 35..." Maths may not be his strong suit, but he carries a biiig axe...
The Daemon Slayer barges in the back door of the Watchtower and his fellow Slayers cheer him on. 
The fleeing Quarrellers rallied, and were delighted to hear that their extreme shortness meant my Wolfygryphs couldn't even see them over the crest of the hill that they were standing on. Well, they were secretly delighted - outwardly they grumbled to each other about how they could so easily have dealt with the over-sized abominations in a good, old-fashioned combat.

The all-important tower combat saw the Daemon Slayer out-fight my Halberdiers, however they clung onto the building desperately and refused to budge. The Dwarf was forced back out the door, grumbling about human stupidity and a lack of respect for their betters.

The game would end on a 5 this time, but I couldn't trust that. I sent the Archers on a mission most dire, facing a similar fate to the Wizard the previous turn...
"Buy us time", he says. Well he's not getting our vote for best general...
Meanwhile the Ogre Bruiser crashed into the Daemon Slayer, seeking to reduce the number of threats to the tower. His gut charge did a wound and he hammered the naked Dwarf into the ground, but not before taking a wound for his trouble.
A worthy death? The Daemon Slayer gets steam-rolled by the charging Bruiser.
The Daemon Slayer falls, and the Runesmith is starting to feel surrounded.
On my left flank, the Wolfygryphs gave up on the Quarrellers as a lost cause due to the hill, and turned back toward the Watchtower to see if they could contribute to the larger game.
The BSB had rallied and was seeking to make a nuisance of himself. It was all show however, as the danger of a Wolfygryph doing a final wound to him was very real.
With the turn all done, Ben acknowledged that perhaps we could alternate rolling to end the game, given that if it was left to me, the game would doubtless run to its maximum length. However, he didn't roll a 5 and the game would continue.

Into turn 6 now, and things were getting tight. The 3 remaining Slayers went on a somewhat forlorn mission to assault the building once more, knowing it would be their last chance before the Ogres got to them. The White Lions charged the extremely annoying Archer detachment, who were the last barrier between them and the tower.
Once more into the breach.
The Slayers crashed bravely into the tower, but the Halberdiers had their number and cut all 3 of them down before they could strike a blow. Well, they knew it was a desperate attempt.

Then, disaster struck. Well, it was disaster for me. Ben was fine with it. I had carelessly left the Archers within 6" of the Watchtower, and when the White Lions hacked them into tiny pieces for their defiance, a panic test was in order. From the top of the tower the Halberdiers had an excellent view of the carnage inflicted upon their own detachment, and wails of "they're right at the door! We're next!" echoed through the building. They panicked and fled.
"Stuff this, we're not facing those blenders!" Come back, you cowards! It's turn 6!
Over on the flank, the Quarrellers saw the Wolfygryphs turn away and declared, "Now's our chance! CHAAARGE!" They arrived in the flank of my unit, however as fearsome as their intent was, their lack of anything more than hand weapons hindered their efforts. For his part, the Wolfygryph on the flank did no damage in return. So all in all, the combat was rather inept. I lost combat by 2 thanks to a flank, rank and charge vs my standard, but thankfully I held. Worse for the Dwarfs, I passed my reform test...
No, don't use your axes. Tickle them to death!
Oh crap, I think they noticed we're here...
It was my turn 6 and the game would end on a 4+. And the Watchtower was empty. But that was OK, as the Bruiser was in range and stepped into the building. So long as the game ended, who cared if there was just 1 Ogre holding the objective...

The Ironguts saw the Runesmith as he scampered away and declared a charge, but the coward fled and stopped just short of my fleeing Halberdiers, who decided it was safe to rally and turned to watch the Ogre Bruiser try to perform the job that should have been theirs. Having turned to face their assailants, the Wolfygryphs went to town on them. Bits of Dwarf went everywhere, and I'm not sure one even survived to take a break test. It was a little one-sided.
The Runesmith runs, coming to a halt in front of the rallied Halberdiers.
The Watchtower is MIIIINE!!!
Dang, he got away. Who knew stumpy legs could move so fast?
It was the end of the turn and I had control of the Watchtower once more. The game would end on a 4+, but it was my turn to roll...

I failed again. The game would continue, and the White Lions had made it to the tower. Bugger.

We had now made it to turn 7, and the game would end this time on a 3+. This felt academic now, though. The White Lions, led by the Elf Prince, charged into the Watchtower. They were so close that the couldn't fail. The Ogre Bruiser, alone and having taken a wound already, stood atop the tower and bellowed his defiance.
Call that an army? You got nothing!
The Runesmith rallied and the BSB flew in and landed nearby, seeking to defend the flank of the White Lions should the unthinkable happen and they fail to take the tower. Then we came to the combat itself.

The Elves passed their fear test which was unsurprising but one of my few hopes dashed. Then the Ogre bellowed a challenge right into the face of the Prince as he led the charge into the building. Whether it was the brute's foul breath or the fact that he was already wounded (and should he fail to kill the Bruiser, he would most likely fall), the Prince declined to face him in single combat. This meant he couldn't fight, so it was up to the White Lions' champion and his 4 hand-picked Elves to try to finish the job. 6 attacks, hitting on 4+ with rerolls, then wounding on 3+ without saves. He needed 3 wounds to kill me. He did 2. The Ogre lived! 

Better was to come, however. The Ogre struck back, crushing 2 of the White Lions with his hammer before stomping down and smearing another on the tiled floor. He had done 3 wounds - he had won the combat! The White Lions were forced to withdraw, and the tower would remain in my hands for the end-of-game roll.

The game would end on a 3+, however if that failed, turn 8 would definitely be the last turn. What followed was a close analysis of whether I could get a unit into the flank of the White Lions to pin them in place for the following turn. Ideally I would overrun in there, so I wouldn't even have to fight them before denying them a final attempt on the tower. Unfortunately Ben wasn't foolish enough to allow this, and fled the charge of the Ironguts with the BSB before holding stalwartly with the Runesmith.
Fleeing again. Such a brave Elf.
I got this...
The Runesmith held his ground bravely as the enemy attacked from all around. Ultimately it was too much for him and he fell, which meant Ben only had the Prince with his White Lions, and the fleeing BSB remaining. And then came the all-important roll, the responsibility for which fell upon Ben... 

He rolled a 6, and the game was over. The Bruiser bellowed in triumph, his control of the Watchtower turning a marginal defeat into a slightly stronger victory.

Result: 14-6 (13-7 after comp)

Well, that game had been epic. It hadn't been going very well when the White Lions were rampaging through my lines and proving to be every bit the unstoppable force I had expected. Fortunately I had been able to salvage a lot of points elsewhere, and my good fortune in holding the tower was the thing that tipped the game. Ben probably made a mistake in fleeing with the Spearmen from the Ironguts, but he hadn't realised the Wolfygryphs would come into play (they were probably 28" away from where he started his flight). That was pivotal, as the Spearmen would have been hard to budge from the tower. It gave me hope, and meant I had the upper hand for most of the struggle for the objective.

Game 6: Battleline
Nick Gentile: High Elves with Wood Elves
Nick Gentile, the short shorts themselves. Note that I have superimposed a gaming table in this photo to protect the sanity of the innocent...
High Elves
  • Archmage (Level 4, Lore of Shadow) with Jewel of the Dusk, Folaraith's Robe
  • Battle Standard Bearer with Great Weapon, Armour of Caledor, Dawnstone
  • 38 Spearmen with Full Command
  • 14 White Lions with Full Command, Banner of Swiftness
  • 14 Swordmasters with Full Command
  • Tiranoc Chariot
  • Great Eagle
Wood Elves
  • Noble with Moonstone of the Hidden Ways
  • 11 Glade Guard
  • 10 Glade Guard
  • 10 Glade Guard

Comp: 6/10

Well I had beaten the tournament leader, but was pretty sure he was still the tournament leader, thanks to his handy lead before our game. My final game was against Nick Gentile, the most excited man on the Warhammer tournament circuit. We had played a couple of times at the club, but never in a tournament before. This would be a fun way to end the event.

I found myself playing on the same table as I had been on for the previous game, although it was laid out a little differently once the Watchtower was removed again. Given the solid number of Glade Guard in Nick's list, the big hill in the centre of the table was advantageous to me. It bought me a little time in terms of getting shot. Nick's Wood Elf Noble was carrying the Moonstone of the Hidden Ways, and he deployed in the Swordmaster unit, inside his bonus Wood Elf forest. Much as I fancied Swordmasters behind my lines, I set about plugging up both of the forests in my deployment zone. My Cannon resigned itself to not firing all game (it wouldn't get a decent target anyway, with the hill), and blocked up the forest on my right. My Halberdiers and detachment took the one on the left. I figured they could still contribute from there.
Nick's deployment.
Nick's left flank, which was basically a lot of Glade Guard and some Swordmasters looking to be sneaky...
Nick's right flank, which had the main combat potential in the army as well as his Archmage and BSB in the Spearmen.
The left side of my deployment, including the Halberdiers preparing to plug up the forest on that flank.
My right flank, featuring lots of dice and spell cards. Oh, and a Cannon having a nap in the forest, with a Sabretusk behind the house.
I got the first turn, which was good. I advanced relatively cautiously, mindful of the White Lions and what they would do to nearly all of my units. The Ironguts swept well around to the left, taking advantage of the cover of another large hill. The Halberdiers wandered forward until they had the forest well and truly covered from sneaky Moonstone attack. The Mournwolves did the prudent thing and advanced as far as they could without cresting the hill and wearing all the Wood Elf shooting at short range.

And then, with a single spell I managed to change the complexion of the game. I cast Banishment from the War Altar, and it got past Nick's defences. This was courtesy of a terrible power phase (2 dice), followed by me channelling. 3 dice to 1 overcame Nick's +5 dispel bonus, by virtue of him rolling a 2 on his single dice. The White Lions were the target, and 9 of them were incinerated. With a single blow, the only unit that really worried me was gone as a threat.
My forces advance cautiously.
I'm sure there were more of them there a moment ago...
Nick mourns the loss of so many White Lions, and wonders why he didn't bring another 50 or so.
In Nick's turn, the Tiranoc Chariot enthusiastically charged my Wolfygrphs. The smouldering remains of the White Lion unit tried to support the charge, but it was a long way and they didn't make it.
The Tiranoc Chariot rolls in alone.
The Swordmasters admitted defeat in the War of the Wood Occupation and started advancing, but stayed behind the hill (they didn't fancy a charge from the Mournwolves). The Glade Guard also started advancing, realising that I wasn't likely to give them an easy shot from where they were.

Nick's plan for the Chariot were given away slightly by him squealing "Mindrazor" repeatedly as he gathered his power dice. He commenced by casting the spell, but I threw my Dispel Scroll at it. I didn't trust him not to roll 6 Strength 8 impact hits. Then he cast Enfeebling Foe, but got a little excited and rolled double 6. A Dimensional Cascade followed, which saw his Archmage escape, but about 15 Spearmen were not so fortunate. For all this, he only knocked 1 point off the Strength of the Wolfygryphs, which was not the end of the world for me.
One of those Archmages you don't want to stand next to in the queue.
The Chariot crashed into the Wolfygryphs, but could only manage to get a single wound past their saves. In return they were rather useless, held back by the loss of 1 Strength and my inability to roll wounds (they had Hatred from the War Altar behind them). The Chariot survived and barely lost combat, but Nick managed to fail his break test and the Chariot was destroyed by pursuing Wolfygryphs. 
The Wolfygryphs find themselves rather close to the enemy lines. Might have to charge something...
Turn 2 saw the Wolfygryphs charge the White Lions, after we established I was too close to get past them. The Elves cut down one of the massive wolves (despite Pha's Protection being on them), but were wiped out thanks to Stomps. The overrun brought Fabulous Fab (one of Nick's 4 Ameagles, the only one to make the cut for this reduced list) into combat, with my unit right in front of the Spearmen. 
The Wolfygryphs continue their assault, running headlong into Fabulous Fab the Eagle
Elsewhere my Ironguts continued on their flanking manoeuvre, whilst the War Altar and White Wolves moved up to support the Wolfygryphs. My Wizard rather rashly left her unit and headed onto the hill to ensure she was in a good position to cast spells, but it left her rather exposed. I was a little too focused on keeping the forest behind her occupied - really the Halberdiers should have stayed with her.

On the other flank, the Mournwolves got excited by the sight of Glade Guard up on the hill and declared a charge. The Elves fled, but not far enough - the Mournwolves lunged at maximum speed over the hill, ending up behind enemy lines (but facing the wrong way as I failed my reform test). 
We're behind the enemy, and the enemy are behind us.
The Halberdiers wait in the forest as the Wizard heads off on her own.
Things were going pretty well for me, and Nick had to do something immediately. The Spearmen swung around and charged the Wolfygryphs in the flank, despite this leaving them terribly exposed if they didn't break through. With his Archmage and BSB in the unit, it would be a critical combat.
The Spearmen gamble on a critical flank charge to rescue Fabulous Fab.
Elsewhere the Swordmasters and the widest unit of Glade Guard continued their advance, ignoring the Mournwolves behind them. The Glade Guard near the centre managed to reform and back up, clearing their line of sight to my impetuous Wizard. She did not survive the subsequent volley.
The Swordmasters close on my forces behind the front line.
The came the magic phase, where Nick was clearly pinning all his hopes on Mindrazor. If he got that off, the Wolfygryphs where toast and his line would be in decent order again. However, Nick only rolled a 4 for the power phase, and ended up failing to make the casting cost of the spell. I was saved!

The combat was a bit of a disappointment, with Fabulous Fab surviving my best efforts and only a few Spearmen falling for no real loss on my side. It meant I had only lost by 2, and managed to hold on a reroll. Nick's Spearmen were facing sideways, and the reinforcements were coming...
Surrounded: There is a lot of help on hand to rescue the Wolfygryphs and assault Nick's main unit.
In my third turn I declared a number of charges, most of them ending in disappointment. My Ironguts only needed to roll maybe a 4 to make it to the rear of the Spearmen, but didn't manage that. The Bruiser tried to charge the Glade Guard who had shot down my Wizard, but was similarly foiled by his bootlaces being untied or something. The White Wolves saved the turn from being a disaster as they completed their charge against the flank of the Spearmen. The War Altar moved up to block the advance of the Swordmasters, whilst keeping the White Wolves within Hatred range. The Mournwolves turned around and started to move up behind the Swordmasters.

In the magic phase the War Altar unleashed Banishment on the Swordmasters in a bid to preserve itself in the coming combat. 6 or 7 died, leaving them with little more than a single rank. Then came the main combat.
The pivotal combat about to commence.
Realising that his Archmage was in peril with my BSB right next to him, Nick challenged with the Spearman champion. He died, but it meant the Archmage would not be cut down. The Spearmen did nothing significant in the combat and the Elf BSB did little too. In return the Eagle was pulled down, and enough Spearmen fell to ensure that they would no longer be Steadfast. Despite having the BSB reroll, the unit couldn't find the double-1 required to hold, and turned and fled. They went 5 miserable inches. I had 2 cavalry units pursuing. I couldn't possibly fail to catch them...
Oops. Pursuit fail.
Thankfully the unit had dropped below 25% of its starting strength, so needed double-1 to rally, which it did not. That was nearly embarrassing.
They're getting away! Fine, let them run.
How the lines looked at the end of my third turn.
In his turn, Nick declared what charges he could. The depleted Swordmasters charged the War Altar and for some reason the Glade Guard decided to charge the Bruiser. I think they were hoping to engage him for when the Swordmasters overran, but it was a little optimistic.
The Elves charge with what they have left.
The Arch Lector got cut down in a single round thanks to my usual fantastical saving throws, but for a wonder the War Altar held and fought on. The meant the Glade Guard would be fighting the Bruiser alone, and it didn't go well for them. They were Steadfast however, so fought on.

In my fourth turn, things were really wrapping up. The Mournwolves charged into the rear of the Swordmasters, and wiped them out. The Bruiser continued to beat down Glade Guard until the broke and were run down. The remaining combat saw my Sabretusk (who had been Shadowing the remaining Glade Guard for a few turns) finally charge them in the rear. The doggy fought bravely, however Nick beat him down over 2 rounds, despite him being in the rear and despite failing his Fear tests both times. Outrageous.
Mournwolves arrive in the rear of the Swordmasters to end their resistance.
In the end the War Altar lined up the Glade Guard just as they Sabretusk died. It charged, they fled, and after a blast from Banishment they needed double-1 to rally but ran off the table instead. It was over; the last Elves were gone.

In the end I had lost my Wizard and the Sabretusk, and had given up the 100 point bonus for my general being dead. It was not enough to stop the result being a maximum victory to the Empire and Ogres.

Result: 20-0 (19-1 after comp)

The game had ended up pretty one-sided. The Glade Guard hadn't been in a position to really contribute, the Chariot had arrived alone and perhaps against the wrong targets, and the loss of so many White Lions in the first turn had basically sealed Nick's fate. With the exception of Mindrazor, Shadow magic doesn't tend to cause my armoured targets too many issues. When Nick had really needed the Archmage to deliver, the magic phase had let him down. I guess it's just a demonstration of why so many High Elf players take the Banner of Sorcery.

So after a slow start, I had actually finished the tournament with 5 wins. The last time I did that, I actually won Axemaster. As it happened here however, it was not quite enough. Ben Leopold managed to hold me off by a single point to win the tournament, and I came in second. To add to that, I managed to walk off with the Players' Choice and Best Sport awards. I've never actually seen someone end up with so many trophies, and it was a touch embarrassing. However, I was happy that people liked the Mournwolves after all the effort of the last couple of weeks, and it is actually the third event in a row where I've won some sort of sportsmanship award, which makes me very proud. Still, it raises the question again of whether winning one of the main podium places should make you ineligible for the other prizes - just so there are more to go around. In the past I kind of favoured letting someone have more than one, but getting three meant there were far fewer people winning trophies. I guess that doesn't normally happen, so maybe it's not worth worrying too much about.
Chris splashed out on pretty flame-shaped glass trophies.
In all I had really enjoyed the tournament, and was pleased to be able to get my themed army on the table. I hadn't meant for my army to be quite so tough, however. Next time I'll pay more attention to how hard the list is, rather than just focusing on what I thought would look good together...

Thanks to Dave and Chris for running it, everyone who helped out, and to all 6 of my opponents for great games. Looking forward to next year.

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