Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cancon 2014 Aftermath: Part 8 (the finale)

And now it's time for my final Cancon post. It's ridiculous that it's taken this long to cover the 8 games of the event, but at least we're now at the end. This is the 8th post in the series. You can find my previous game here.

Going into the last round, I was pegging my hopes on a big win. It would be enough for me to have achieved my rough goals and would leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling after a good last day of the event. Then I discovered my opponent was to be Ben Leopold, and I knew things were about to get interesting.

Game 8 – Battleline
Ben Leopold – High Elves
  • Prince with Wizarding Hat, Dragon Armour, Great Weapon, Shield
  • Loremaster of Hoeth with Book of Hoeth, Armour of Silvered Steel, Great Weapon
  • Dragon Mage (Level 2) with Gem of Sunfire, Dispel Scroll, Enchanted Shield, Dragon Armour
  • Noble (BSB) with Halberd, Armour of Caledor
  • 6 Dragon Princes with Musician
  • 5 Silver Helms with Shields, Musician
  • 28 Spearmen with Full Command
  • 18 Archers with Standard, Musician
  • 24 Swordmasters of Hoeth with Full Command
  • Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower
Mr Leopold is another Hampton player, and as such we've played on the odd occasion and seen each other play many times. He's a bit of a gambler, whose games tend to end quickly as a result of a dramatic (though often risky) action. My best hope would be that he decided to do something dramatic and failed, opening the door for a riposte.

Ben's list had some questionable content in it. Or rather, it had one highly questionable choice – a Prince with the Wizarding Hat. This is the special sort of madness you might find in his list, although he did his best to prove me wrong by predicting he would roll up the Lore of Metal, then promptly did so, and got Final Transmutation and Searing Doom. He may have been cackling triumphantly as he did so. Regardless, it made his use of the silly hat look far more masterful than it really was. Don't let him tell you otherwise...
Deployment. I don't recall why I put the Flagellants 8 wide on the right flank, but I had vague ideas about trying to keep the High Elves out of the buildings.
The match-up worried me a little bit, partly because Ben had some fast elements like the Dragon Mage, partly because the Swordmasters would murder anything in my army short of the Demigryphs (unless things were heavily fortified with magic), and partly because he had 2 copies of Searing Doom, a spell I dread when relying on a few moderate-sized units with 1+ armour. I had counters for most things, but it would need me to control the game, which I was not convinced I could do. I might need a little luck...

Ben got the first turn and was generally cautious in his advance, with the exception of the Dragon Mage, which lunged forward in front of my Flagellants on the right flank, used the Gem of Sunfire, and burnt 15 of my finest lunatics to death with the Dragon's breath weapon. Bummer.
Burnination achieved! Suddenly I had far fewer Flagellants than I would have liked. And with a big, juicy target right in front of them, too.
The rest of the girly Elves are far more hesitant about advancing. They just wanted to be in Searing Doom range, I think.
I responded by charging the Dragon with the Flagellants, but their numbers were a little thin on the ground (and my formation was wider than I would have liked for the situation at hand). The idiots decided not to sacrifice any of their own number meaning I had no re-rolls, and a poor magic phase had ensured I couldn't boost their potential with Birona's Timewarp (I don't think I rolled Speed of Light in this game, which was a big blow). In the end the Flagellants landed a single wound on the Dragon Mage, but were wiped out by the enemy attacks (and a good Thunderstomp roll). So not only had I lost my unit and failed to kill the Dragon Mage, I had even failed to hold it up.
My Flagellants rush in, get culled slightly, fail to sacrifice themselves or do much damage, and then get wiped out by 5 Thunderstomps. Yay.
The rest of my lines had basically rushed forward, looking to force things to a head before I could get picked off by the enemy magic and shooting. I had managed to get my Demigryphs opposite the Swordmasters and was keeping my Flagellants away from the Spearmen, so at least that part of the plan was going OK.
My lines overall after turn 1. Note the unengaged Dragon Mage... :(
This is what is known as forcing the issue. Someone is gonna get charged.
Ben responded to my aggression with a series of charges, all of which made the distance. The Silver Helms charged my remaining Flagellants on my left flank, got smashed and fled (dragging my unit out of position, facing the flank). I would have preferred to wipe them out and avoid the mandatory pursuit roll, but my Flagellants were having an off game and again didn't give themselves any re-rolls to achieve maximum doom.
My Flagellants run down the remaining Silver Helm, putting them out of position.
The Dragon Princes lunged past my Inner Circle Knights and into my White Wolves, whilst the Dragon Mage flew into their flank. I was left trying to make far too many 4+ armour saves and failing most of them, and my unit basically evaporated. As a parting blow however, one of my Knights turned in the saddle and knocked the Dragon Mage off his mount. It was a small victory, but the shattered remnant of my unit fled and was run down and now there were Dragon Princes and a Dragon in my back lines.
The White Wolves find themselves seriously out-muscled, although they do take the Dragon Mage out of his saddle.
The Demigryphs achieved their goal of engaging the Swordmasters when the High Elves decided to charge them. The combat then went far better than expected, and I only took 2 wounds. In return about 8 Swordmasters fell, and I ended up winning the combat! Ben decided to reform wide after the round of combat in order to maximise his attacks, but it was definitely a good start.
The Demigryphs take the charge and then impressively out-fight the best unit in the High Elf army. This part of things was going well, at least.
Things went less well in the magic phase when Ben rolled triple 6s on his channel attempts and Searing Doom murdered most of my Inner Circle Knights, leaving a single Knight and the BSB holding each other nervously amidst the smouldering ruin of the rest of the regiment. Scratch one more effective unit.
"I love the smell of roasted Knight in the morning." Pretty sure the survivors are wearing their sad faces right about now.
Things were getting desperate for me now, and I needed to do something to give myself a chance in the game and also preserve what was left of my units. I charged the Spearmen with the ruins of my Inner Circle Knights, the small Knight unit containing my Wizards, and the Hurricanum. Right next door the War Altar charged into the Swordmasters alongside the Demigryphs. The Flagellants couldn't see to charge, but wheeled about to look at the flank of the Swordmasters.
Chaaaaarge! This is actually after the first round of combat, hence the wacky reform on the Knights. I think I did it to try to prevent Ben from reforming to fit the Archers in the other end, but it wasn't enough.
They can still seeee me!
In the photos my Beast Wizard disappears at this point. I think he cast Wyssan's Wildform on the Demigryphs and then, figuring his work was finished, allowed himself to be impaled by numerous High Elf spears. Likewise the final Inner Circle Knight perished, presumably having taken all his armour off in horror after seeing what Searing Doom did to his comrades (my dice reckon 1+ armour is vastly overrated). For all the lances and impact hits I threw into that combat, I am fairly sure I lost in the first round but at least my units all held.

The Swordmaster combat was more depressing. My Demigryphs were looking good with Toughness 5 and the Hurricanum now in range, but then proceeded to die like flies to the enemy attacks. I took twice as many wounds as I had the previous turn, which critically dropped me to 2 models – not enough to cancel steadfast from a single rank of models. And that is exactly what the Swordmasters were left with – they lost about 10 more warriors that turn, and only 9 remained including the BSB and Loremaster. If I had passed one more save, the unit would have been thrashed and most likely would have broken. Curses!
With magical assistance on their side and the High Elves thinning out, suddenly the Demigryphs get much worse. It should be noted that I think they had Iceshard Blizzard on them for the whole of the combat, but Ben didn't have the cards handy.
As questionably as things were going, they were about to get worse. As the Dragon Princes and Sun Dragon recovered their composure in the rear of my lines and looked at my units, my Demigryphs had an acute panic attack and fled from combat. I think Ben managed to kill one outright with a relatively pitiful number of attacks, and the sole survivor lost combat, broke (despite decent leadership and a re-roll) and died as he was the standard bearer. The War Altar held its position, but Ben took the opportunity to completely combat reform his unit, well away from the Flagellants who had been mere inches from his flank.
The Demigryphs evaporate, leaving the Swordmasters free to reform...
...meaning the Flagellants will actually need to roll a moderate distance to make the charge.
The other combat was a bit of a struggle for both parties, however Ben did charge his Archers in alongside the Spearmen, with the Prince at their head looking to cut down the Hurricanum and the bonuses it was granting me. He failed to achieve this, and my units fought well enough to hold their ground (basically the BSB was inflicting a few wounds, which was just enough).

In my turn the Flagellants had a chance to save the game. All they had to do was make maybe a 7 or 8 on the dice to charge the reformed Swordmasters, and they would have things made – they would destroy the Swordmasters, BSB and Loremaster, then carry into the flank of the Prince's Archers, and so on. It was going to be great. Then they failed. I don't think they even came close, really. This was bad.

Seeing things were desperate, my Wizard Lord pulled out all the stops and cast a boosted Birona's Timewarp, affecting all of my units (except the idiot Flagellants). Extra attacks appeared everywhere, I was suddenly striking simultaneously with the High Elves, and things were maybe looking OK. I could win the fight! With surprisingly reasonable rolling I did a ton of wounds to the Spearmen, then Ben in an apparent bout of inspiration, invoked the Power of Pete (who was standing nearby, watching proceedings) into his dice and rolled a hundred billion 6s to save. Seriously, it was at least this many. I think I killed a single Elf.
Phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty probability! Ben discovers that his Spearmen are now immune to things like death, courtesy of his summoning the Power of Pete. Why this worked remains a mystery. Neither Pete nor I can recall him rolling such an absurd number of 6s...
This roll of doom was apparently a sign of the end times (my Flagellants certainly assure me that this is the case). Ben started rolling 6s all over the shop, and I failed about as many saves as people who know me would expect. My line crumbled, everything died, and my chances in the game were over. The Arch Lector was just about dead against the Swordmasters, and was then flank charged by the Dragon Princes and died. Without his leadership the War Altar fled and departed the table.
Death! All my stuff dies, along with the better part of my hopes and dreams for the game.
The War Altar suddenly finds itself all alone and surrounded.
The War Altar decides it is no longer needed with its rider, and departs the table.
The final phase of the game saw the Sun Dragon chowing down on the Flagellants as they congratulated each other on being right about how imminent the doom was, and how the others should have seen it coming sooner. It only took 2 or 3 rounds for them to be wiped out, and at that point, so was I.
The game had been a disaster, really. I had the points for the Silver Helms, and nothing else. Given how close I had been to rolling across the centre with those Flagellants and cleaning up the majority of Ben's army, it was a pretty depressing outcome. I think this was the third time we had met in a tournament, and it was the first where he had come out on top. And man, did he come out on top this time...

Result: 0-20

So after 8 gruelling rounds (although not as gruelling as this series of reports has been), I was left on 4 wins and 4 losses. I had also failed to break even on battle points and wound up in the bottom half of the field. This was rather disappointing, and I can't say as I felt like my great Flagellant experiment had paid off. They did have some good games (game 7 in particular was their highlight), but they also messed up a fair bit at times (although sometimes that was just down to my charge rolls).

As sad as I was at my underwhelming finish to the event, I was greatly cheered by winning the Best Sports award for the event, especially given how large the field was. It's nice to know people enjoy thrashing me!
I managed not to leave empty-handed.
Anyway, that is it for my exceedingly long and drawn-out tournament report. Thanks to everyone involved in organising the event, and all of my opponents for some enjoyable games. I'm not sure what my next tournament will be, but I suspect I will be using something other than Empire next time around. Although I hear that fielding tons of Greatswords is terrible. So maybe I should give that a go...


  1. Yay for finishing the reports! They have been very entertaining to read. Too bad your flagellants seemed to decide to bring on the doom faster by walking around instead of running at the end. Sounds like a fun event though. Thanks for sharing it all!

    1. Cheers. Yeah, if only the Flagellants and thought more about the doom of their enemies and focused less on themselves.

  2. I recently got through reading this series a second time, and wanted to thank you for keeping up the text & photo batreps. I'm struggling a bit to keep up my interest in Warhams without actually getting many games in (Warmahordes being easier to fit into my schedule, and regrettably a bit more fulfilling rules-wise than my old square-based love), but having quality batreps to read helps remind me of the mayhem that the game offers. So thanks and keep up the good work :)

  3. Thanks from me too, I appreciate your efforts, the great pictures and
    your story telling with a note of british(or rather australian.) humour.
    After reading all eight reports I wouldn´t blame the flagellants.
    I think the more expensive knights lost more crucial combats.
    Anyway, I´m glad you still stick with empire, keep up the good work

    1. I don't necessarily blame the Flagellants, however including so many of them and thus having to field things specifically to support them meant that they really dictated the direction of my army. People will tell you Flagellants are no good. That's not actually true, but they do need to be supported, and it gets expensive. Still, when it all works it can be truly spectacular!