I finally got around to playing a game of Warhammer with the new Dark Elves, against my regular opponent (once every year or two is regular, right?) with his Warriors of Chaos. We made it 3000 points, to get a few neat toys in, and stuck with the Pitched Battle to keep things simple.
We managed to remember a good deal of the rules between us, and everything just seemed to work the way that I intended. I took a horde of 30 Corsairs with a Battle Standard Bearer, a horde of 30 Witch Elves with the Cauldron of Blood, 10 Cold One Knights, 21 Black Guard, 3 Bolt Throwers, some crossbowmen and a Death sorceress (level 2), a Kharibdyss and finally Morathi as the general.
I was up against a Tzeentch force led by Vilitch the Curseling – there were some knights, a Fire wizard, two units of warriors, some Forsaken and Marauder Horsemen, a chariot, a Mutalith Vortex Beast, some Warhounds and a Hellcannon.
We placed a Bretonnian ruin, and grabbed a Buddy Christ dashboard ornament to sit inside it – flicking through the rulebook, this was designated a Sinister Statue and we completely forgot to roll for it about 30 seconds later. Still, it looked good.
On my left flank, the Warhounds kept running, rallying, regrouping, and running again from the Kharibdyss. By the time I got the hint and pulled it back to deal with other threats, it was almost too late to reach anything. It’s last action was to declare a charge against the Warriors with the Fire wizard, who fled right off the table. It never saw combat.
Morathi was extremely powerful. I took Dark magic, to get the maximum benefit, and loved the fact that all the little things that should work together did. The Hellcannon focused on destroying the Black Guard, while Morathi snuck behind the tightly packed lines and successfully cast Shroud of Despair. Just outside of the effect, the Cold One Knights destroyed the Chaos Chariot easily – causing a panic test in the Marauder Horsemen who were inside the Shroud’s bubble. The following turn, another unit caused a panic test over there, and the effect just kept stacking… At the same time, outside of the effect, my Death wizard cast Doom and Darkness on the Chaos Knights while the bolt throwers caused casualties enough to make them run off. They probably would have gone off of the table, if I hadn’t taken Doom and Darkness off of them at that point, thinking it could do more good elsewhere.
It didn’t all go well for me – the Witch Elves were charged by the Vortex Beast, and dragged out of the way of being able to slam the fleeing Chaos general’s unit in the flank, Morathi was charged by the Hellcannon and needed to be rescued by the Cold One Knights, the Black Guard crumbled to the Forsaken and the Corsairs fell to the other unit of Warriors, who overran into a bolt thrower.
The Forsaken moved onto the Witch Elves, but they were destroyed in short order. Once the Hellcannon was dealt with, the Cold Ones charged Vilitch’s unit (now rallied) and broke it (even though Morathi’s second Shroud failed) and the Chaos Knights charged Morathi. The game was called at that point, as I still had more than half of my army and there was only the Warhounds and 2 Chaos Knights left, but I insisted that we finish the turn and the Chaos Knights finished Morathi off with that, so it wasn’t a complete rollover.
I think the main boost in that game was the Shroud of Despair scattering and disorganising the Chaos lines, and being pleasantly surprised that Morathi isn’t too bad in combat. In particular, her Leadership test for Enchanting Beauty (designed to be failed) along with the Shroud of Despair (everyone suffers from failing Leadership tests) means that you could end up with a big penalty to a unit’s Leadership, for crossbows or bolt throwers to force a panic test in.
On the Warriors side, the Chaos knights did alright to kill Morathi (even with that crippling penalty), and the Hellcannon did impressive damage against the Black Guard in a single shot. I think the top unit had to be the Warhounds for getting the Kharibdyss out of the game, essentially, and being the only Chaos unit to not suffer a single wound.
So what do I think of the new Dark Elves? The magic I used was mostly the subtle stuff, but in concert with other effects it was devastating. Getting everything lined up, in the right place and at the right time, might be a challenge if the opponent knows what is coming though. Murderous Prowess was a nice bonus, and occasionally gave me an extra wound, but nothing special. Always Strikes First is a massive boost, much better than Hatred was in the previous version. The Dark Magic lore attribute was too difficult to remember, and feels a little weak for what it does. Maybe if I wasn’t using Morathi, I’d be throwing more dice at spells and then would be doing a little more with it, but by the time I remembered that “hey, I have a lore attribute!” I only cast a couple more small spells and didn’t get a double or triple to trigger it.
I wasn’t too impressed with the Cauldron of Blood. It’s a nice Ward save for the Witch Elves, and makes them a little more deadly in combat, but I didn’t get into any big units to really try that out in this game. It’s a very expensive way of boosting Witch Elves as well, being 200+ points of Hero allocation. In a smaller game, I don’t know that I could justify it.
Next time, I would either repeat the Shroud of Despair with a Bloodwrack Shrine nearby to try and really force the issue, or I’ll replace the ‘powerful wizard’ magic with some Doomfire Warlocks, and completely swap the subtle stuff for the big blasty stuff. Hopefully, the next game will be less than 12 months away…