Thursday, 25 September 2014

Axemaster 2014 – Part 1

Well Axemaster is done and dusted, so it's time for another tournament report!

This time around the event was something a bit unusual in the local scene. It was run based on the SCGT pack, which allocates comp scores using "hard" and "soft" selections. The comp scores have no impact on overall score, but are instead used to modify roll-offs to determine what deployment rules will be used, table sides, and the first turn. That being the case, there was a good argument for fielding a pretty hard list, provided that you didn't care much about going first. Naturally I ignored this perfectly sound reasoning and entered a comp 9 out of 10 list.
2 Griffons, 3 little Wizards, 9 comp and 0 chance of doing really well in an event like this...

I've put my list up before, but here it is again:
  • General of the Empire
    • General; Great Weapon; Full Plate Armor; Shield
    • White Cloak of Ulric
    • Imperial Griffon
  • General of the Empire
    • Great Weapon; Full Plate Armor; Shield
    • Ironcurse Icon
    • Dragonhelm
    • Imperial Griffon
  • Captain of the Empire
    • Lance; Full Plate Armor; Battle Standard
    • Enchanted Shield
    • Talisman of Preservation
    • Imperial Pegasus
    • Swift as the Winds
  • Luthor Huss
    • Barding; Great Weapon; Heavy Armour; Warhorse
  • Battle Wizard (Level 2, Lore of Light)
  • Battle Wizard (Level 2, Lore of Metal)
  • Battle Wizard (Level 1, Lore of Beasts)
    • Dispel Scroll
  • 14 Knights of the Inner Circle
    • Barding; Lance; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Standard; Musician; Preceptor
    • The Steel Standard
  • 40 Halberdiers
    • Halberd; Light Armour; Standard; Musician
    • 5 Detachment - Archers
    • 5 Detachment - Archers
  • 5 Demigryph Knights
    • Barding; Lance; Shield; Standard; Musician
    • Banner of Swiftness
  • Steam Tank
Comp score: 9

Anyway, that's what I had to work with. On with the show!

Game 1
Viv Gleeson, Vampire Counts
Vampire Lord (Level 4, Lore of Vampires) on Barded Nightmare with Heavy Armour, Great Weapon, Red Fury, Talisman of Preservation, Black Periapt
Vampire BSB (Level 2, Lore of Death) on Barded Nightmare with Heavy Armour, Shield, Dragonhelm, Dawn Stone, Lance
Necromancer (Level 1, Lore of Shadow) on Nightmare with Book of Arkhan
Necromancer (Level 1, Lore of Vampires) with Dispel Scroll
40 Ghouls with Ghast
10 Dire Wolves with Doom Wolf
10 Dire Wolves with Doom Wolf
20 Zombies
8 Black Knights with Hell Knight, Standard
5 Vargheists
5 Vargheists
9 Hexwraiths
2 Fell Bats

Comp Score: 3 or 4

My first opponent was Viv Gleeson, whose Vampire Counts I had encountered previously at Convic when I was running Dwarfs. During that game I had been forced to shamefully cannon-snipe his Vampire Lord from his unit in order to salvage a draw from what was going to be a whitewash loss. All of the talk in the lead-up to this game was naturally about how I was going to do it again, and how Viv was already mentally prepared and totally OK with it...

I came into this game having had no practice whatsoever with my foolish list, so I was largely making things up as I went along with my deployment. By the time Viv had started placing things he even half-cared about, I was completely finished. I went for a strong right flank with nothing on my left. The Steam Tank was to be the anchor in the centre.
After deployment and vanguard moves.
The things that most worried me were the Hexwraiths, as we had already established (after I checked my list) that I had no magic weapons at all. I did manage to roll up Enchanted Blades of Aiban, which was lucky - so I could at least give one of my units the ability to hurt ethereal things if the chance came up. I was mainly going to be relying upon Shem's Burning Gaze to deal with the pesky things. The Hexwraiths vanguarded up before the first turn, skulking behind a hill so I wouldn't be able to blast them straight away.
That is a fast flank. Curse the tall Hampton Hills blocking my line of sight to those Hexwraiths!
My forces advance in a more or less unified fashion. The general made a point of flying within 18" of the Steam Tank to protect it a bit from Spirit Leech.
With a +3 modifier to the roll-off (comp and finishing deploying first), I did indeed get the first turn. I swept up a bit on the right, and the Steam Tank headed straight for the Vampire Lord. Because you know, I just had to deliver on all the pre-game cannon-sniping talk. I had already explained to Viv that I'd rather shoot something big and obvious, but since he refuses to put something like that into his list, I was forced to fall back up jerk behaviour. The Tank fired true, bouncing the shot straight through all 4 ranks of the Black Knights (they had gone 3 wide for some reason). Thankfully this time the Vampire worked out how to dodge the shot and I only killed a couple of regular Knights.
The Steam Tank lining up the Black Knights, doing its best to ignore the Hexwraiths.
Closing the gap.
Those infantry had no interest in leaving their deployment zone (the Necromancer is lurking in the Zombies behind the horde of Ghouls).
The Hexwraiths were sitting right next to the Steam Tank and I was convinced Viv would simply charge in there and most likely hold me up for the rest of the game. Imagine my surprise then when the Vampire Lord and his Black Knights decided to do the job themselves, and charged straight into the front! Frankly, I couldn't believe my luck. It was a gamble on Viv's part, and I later discovered that he somehow had it in his head that the Tank was Stubborn rather than Unbreakable. He had figured he would just Doom and Darkness me and hopefully be on his merry way. This made slightly more sense, but was obviously a fundamentally flawed plan. I had assumed he thought he could just hack it down quickly, which also seemed a dubious approach.
The Vampire Lord, BSB, Necromancer and Black Knights all crash into the Steam Tank. Not at all how I saw things going.
With his key unit (including 3 of his 4 characters) committed, Viv then had to act to try to protect them. A unit of Vargheists flew over and landed in front of my Demigryphs, preventing them from charging the flank of his unit (probably a good plan). My Halberdiers were also in a position to get through, but Viv managed to block them with Wind of Undeath. I had assumed he wanted to cull my Knights (a 6 on the artillery dice would have put the template through my lines), but he was quite happy when it fell short by about an inch by rolling a 4, as that left it right in front of the Halberdiers, and you can't voluntarily move through a vortex. Viv's other Vargheists, a unit of Dire Wolves and the Hexwraiths moved up to work their way around my left flank, behind the Steam Tank.
The Vampire forces swing around my left flank.
Vargheists land to prevent my Demigryphs and Knights from flanking the Black Knight bus.
A Wind of Undeath parks itself in front of my Halberdiers, meaning they can't go anywhere either. It's the circle on this end of the confusing template...
The combat went pretty poorly for Viv. If he was hoping to make significant progress, he was to be disappointed. He didn't roll particularly well and I rolled quite well for armour saves, and only lost a couple of wounds. I was a long way from dead and not going anywhere.

In my turn I charged the Demigryphs into the Vargheists blocking their path. I tried to hit them in the flank with the Griffon over on my right flank, but it needed a pretty long charge and didn't make the distance, splashing around in the mud of the swamp instead. So long as he was having fun, I guess. I considered putting my general's Griffon into the flank of the Black Knights by flying over the blocking units, but for the first of many times over the course of the event, I decided his presence would do more harm than good. The Steam Tank would have to fight on alone for a while. For its part, it ground a couple of Black Knights to dust and took a couple more wounds from its assailants (the Black Knights and lesser Vampire no longer had their lance bonuses, so it promised to be a long combat unless the Vampire Lord really fired up).
During my second turn.
The infantry and Wizards around my back lines focused their attention on the approach Hexwraiths. In the case of the detachments and 2 of the Wizards, this meant hurrying out of 16" as quickly as they could, before the Light Wizard turned back and blasted them with a boosted, irresistable Shem's Burning Gaze. I only culled 5 of them, but 4 was better than 9. I was rewarded for my efforts by rolling a harmless miscast result (hitting everyone in base contact, but he was in a skirmishing unit), although it did suck up my remaining power dice. My Halberdiers saw things approaching, but could do nothing about it. The vortex was so close that a wheel or reform was impossible, so they just sat there and tried to ignore the approaching danger.

My Demigryphs hit the Vargheists pretty hard, knocking off a few of them after combat resolution for the loss of a couple of wounds in return. I reformed along to pull my flank further from the Ghouls lurking in Viv's deployment zone. I didn't want them interfering.
The Vargheists cop a bit of a hiding.
As it turned out, the Ghouls had no interest in getting involved. They continued to lurk up the back, screening the Necromancer and his Zombies. The Hexwraiths were the ones to interfere, making use of their depleted numbers to shoot through next to the Halberdiers and into the flank of the Demigryphs. The unengaged Vargheists to my left charged into the exposed flank of the Halberdiers. Over on my right flank, a unit of Dire Wolves charged through the swamp and into the flank of my Griffon. The Doom Wolf challenged, but thankfully the Griffon's attacks did just enough damage (2 wounds) for the combat to be a draw. That could have been embarrassing.
My left flank under assault, with the Vargheists picking on the poor Halberdiers who had been unable to reform due to a very close Wind of Undeath.
The pivotal combat, with the Hexwraiths looking to bolster the Vargheists.
My Griffon on the right flank is picked on by Dire Wolves, hoping I will stuff up my rolling in the challenge.

The challenge is over and I didn't even have to test. Hooray!
The magic phase was really only ever going to come down to one thing - Invocation of Nehek would strengthen the Black Knights, Vargheists and Hexwraiths, which would ensure the Demigryphs were not going anywhere. I managed to stop it however, as the Vampire Lord wasn't game to try to force it through with a miscast. I think I used my scroll, and it left me with enough dice to shut down everything else he tried as well.

The Steam Tank continued to hold off the enemy whilst the Demigryphs did their best to hammer the Vargheists. I left one of them on one wound, and although I took some damage in return, the Hexwraiths did nothing (which was lucky). I ended up winning combat by 2, which meant that despite the undead BSB being nearby, the last Vargheist crumbled. That left me free to reform to face the 3 remaining Hexwraiths, which was mainly significant because I was able to pull my unit out of the path of my Knight regiment. The rescue of the Steam Tank was on.

The Vargheists attacking the Halberdiers mauled them pretty badly, killing almost half the unit. That was OK, as all I really cared about was them holding their ground at that point - and they did that thanks to Steadfast. The Wind of Undeath had wandered off by now, so they were also able to reform to face the Vargheists in a 5-wide formation.
The Halberdiers reform to face their assailants, whilst the Demigryphs do the same to pull their formation out of the path of the Knights.
It was only my third turn when the game really came to a head. I charged my Knight unit around the Demigryph combat and into the flank of the Black Knights, whilst the my general on his Griffon went in alongside. My Light Wizard moved up behind the charge, into the centre of my lines, and managed to cast a boosted Speed of Light with irresistible force. He lost all his magic levels, but that was completely irrelevant. The spell affected nearly everything - the units in combat with the Black Knights, Halberdiers fighting the Vargheists, and the Demigryphs facing the Hexwraiths. The game had reaching a tipping point, and this spell shoved it over in my favour.

On my right flank the Griffon smashed free of the rest of the Dire Wolves. Bolstered by Speed of Light, my Halberdiers did significant damage to the Vargheists before they could strike and took little in return. The Hexwraiths made no progress against the Demigryphs because of my suddenly massive Weapon Skill. And in the main combat, the Vampire BSB issued a challenge to try to limit the damage my charge was going to do. Luthor Huss accepted and used his once-per-game ability to buff his WS, Strength, Toughness and Attacks by D3 (he rolled a 2). He then shrugged off the Vampire's efforts before bludgeoning him down with his Strength 8 great weapon. The Knights murdered all of the remaining Black Knights, the Steam Tank's steam turret burned away the Necromancer, and suddenly the Vampire Lord was all alone, flailing hopelessly at the Steam Tank as he tried to improve a combat that he was losing by 13...
As far as imaginary war photographers go, I am the worst. I completely missed a photo of the combat whilst there were still enemies there...
Losing combat by 13 can't be said to be really close, but the Vampire was indeed close to killing the Steam Tank. He left it on a single wound as he crumbled, and chunks of his army went with him. Random elements of relatively insigificant units fell apart, but more significantly the Hexwraiths vanished with a frustrated shriek.
With the Black Knights and Hexwraiths gone, the Vampire Count army is basically done.
At this point the game was basically over. Viv tried a massive charge with his Ghouls into my exposed detachments and wizards, but failed to roll the 12 he needed to make that happen. The Dire Wolves charged in alongside what was left of the Vargheists fighting the Halberdiers, but with Speed of Light still in effect, both units were losing models. With the rest of my army about to clean up what remained of his army, we decided to call it.

Viv declared that he learned numerous things from this game, one of which no doubt was that Steam Tanks are not easy to budge. In a couple of places I had been fortunate, as my Demigryphs did exactly the damage required to reform out of the way of the Knights, and the irresistible Speed of Light gave me a strong advantage where I might otherwise have found things more difficult. In the end it had all worked out very well for me - I hadn't actually lost any units.

Result: 20-0

You can find the next part of the tournament report here.


  1. Great battle report. Looking forward to the next one. One of the best feelings is winning a game that you thought was almost a foregone conclusion at the start.

    1. Cheers. I wouldn't say I thought the game was a foregone conclusion, really - I just figured the Hexwraiths could cause me a headache. With the comp pack having made the blender Vampire slightly less frightening (no ASF rerolls) the rest of the game felt like it would be OK.

  2. Nice game, just a quick side note, your opponents list was illegal since necromancers is only allowed to choose lore of Death and Vampires, not shadow

    1. That is most likely my fault. I do all these lists from memory, so I probably mixed the Lores on the BSB and the mounted Necromancer.

  3. Nice Batrep. like your Empire paint scheme!

  4. Love those ogres (?) in the halberd unit.


    1. Cheers. Yeah, the Ogres were created as unit fillers, although I can now field a small Ogre Kingdoms army of them in their own right, as I did in the previous tournament.