Defence of the Northern Watchtowers

I’ve been itching to get back to regular Warhammer games for a while now, spurred on by listening to podcasts like Bad Dice and Garagehammer, and by some of the awesome new plastic kits that have been produced for the recently updated armies.

Luckily, I have a good friend in the same boat who just bought the new Warriors of Chaos book and wanted to take it for a test drive! I asked for a 2000pt game so that I could get a feel for the rules again, since it’s been at least a year since my last 8th edition game, but I was convinced into going for 3000pts. I’m glad that I did, I got to put in all the toys I wanted short of a dragon!

For my army list, I took heavy inspiration from the advice of Ben Curry on Garagehammer. Units of 30 in horde formation, Death Hag with a Cauldron of Blood and Battle Standard Bearer, and Shadow magic on a level 4 Sorceress. I also took a level 2 Sorceress with Metal magic, just in case I encountered Chaos knights.

The scenario was a Pitched Battle, and we had an Altar of Khaine on the table – it was very quickly decided that Chaos Warriors were invading Naggaroth from the North, and the Dark Elves were defending. We don’t go in for complex stories for our games, but a bit of context rather than ‘we wanted a rumble’ or ‘I’ve got all these toy soldiers’ improves the game quite a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how well it turned out. Whenever I eschewed the Cauldron’s 5+ ward save in favour of an extra attack, I wish I had taken the ward save instead. I also completely forgot the Banner of Murder on the Black Guard, and they were wiped out. Overall though, the game went tremendously well and despite the high armour and Mark of Nurgle making it incredibly difficult to wound the Chaos Warriors, I scored almost double the victory points. At the end of the game, there was only one Chaos Warrior unit still on the table and going toe-to-toe with 30 Dark Elf Spearmen and a single Chaos Knight musician running off the table (one more turn would get him off the board).

The game started poorly for Chaos, with Warhounds using the Vanguard rule to get closer to my lines, then failing their Terror test when my Hydra declared a charge. And fleeing through a Chimera, causing a Panic test, and sending that running off too. Neither unit would play a part in the game.

The Forsaken rolled poorly for mutations, getting two turns of Always Strikes Last. This gave my 30-strong Corsair unit a chance to kill them off. The Chaos Giant was taken down by the sheer number of Poisoned Attacks that my Witch Elves had, but on the plus side he fell on top of them and killed another nine.

The Black Guard performed alright, but I forgot that they had the Banner of Murder entirely. This would probably have helped a little bit. Luckily, before they were destroyed another Hydra assisted with a flank attack and the Witch Elves got into the front with Okkam’s Mindrazor cast on them – this was one of my aims of the game, to try and get their massive volume of attacks boosted with the Mindrazor. Although the Black Guard were wiped out (they only had a Standard Bearer left at that point), the Chaos Warrior unit was completely devastated.

That was the only way I could have got rid of the Nurgle Wizard General, who had managed to cast a few spells successfully and thus had a boost to Toughness and Wounds of 3 or 4 – even with Mindrazor, that would be a difficult prospect. Running him down after a failed Break test was much easier.

I also faced a Slaughterbrute (proxied with a Great Unclean One, for the Nurgle theme). This got into combat with my Cold One Knights, who failed every Stupidity test they had to take. The Knights managed to knock at least a wound off each turn, and the Slaughterbrute thankfully directed it’s attacks against my general two turns in a row. Since he had the Pendant of Khaeleth (roll under the attack’s Strength and you get to ignore it) and the attacks were Strength 7, nothing got through to him. It kept the Cold Ones out of the game, but it could still have been more effective if it had been supported more by the nearby Forsaken or if it was paired with a larger, tougher combat unit to push a probable win into an absolute win. I think that next time, I may be facing a Mutalith Vortex Beast.

All in all, I was really pleased with my new army list and I’ll definitely take it again. It may even give me a chance against the Empire gunline that has plagued me for so long…

Forest Dragon Crystal

I got a game of Warhammer in this weekend- the first of the year! To inspire me to paint more, I chose to forego the Dark Elves (many of which remain unpainted) in favour of the Wood Elves (only a couple of special characters unused). The army was planned on the assumption that I’d be fighting Chaos but there was a surprise twist with my opponent, who decided to bring his Bretonnians instead.

Still, after the initial panic attack, I realised that we had a lot of forests that could be put down and I’d just have to stay out of reach of the nasty nasty lances.

dryad2Terrain was set up pretty much as a straight line down the middle of the table, consisting of a tower, a wall, four forests (after the Wood Elf free forest was placed) and an interesting candle holder that was sat near the scenery shelves, shaped like a dragon holding a crystal. On the agreement that we first remove the candle, we decided that it would make a great centrepiece for the game, and the story went roughly along the lines of “Bretonnian lord wants forest dragon crystal to bling up his castle, Wood Elves don’t like people wandering around the forest”. Nothing too major.

Using the forests to funnel the lances into really obvious traps didn’t quite work – they were a bit too obvious. Slowly, over the game, I picked off all the peasants and foot troops but failed to make much of a dent on the knights – including a combined charge from Wardancers, Dryads and Glade Riders. It reinforced my belief that Wood Elves should never, ever engage to the front of a unit. And that I should probably have used the Killing Blow dance. Also, angles of possible fleeing should be considered, as my Warhawk Riders drew a combat and automatically fled – though they would have rallied automatically too, they went through a block of peasant halberdiers and were wiped out. They could have quickly reached the other side of the battle (the one with all the knights) and helped with some rear charges to destroy a knight unit or two.

That being said, not too much of the army was destroyed – Wood Elves are very, very good at staying out of the way.

At the final tally, there were only 70 victory points between us (Wood Elves very slightly ahead) for an extremely solid draw. Hopefully we’ll have a rematch at some point, since that Bretonnian lord still wants his bling, and the Elves didn’t do enough to put him off yet – all they did was clear out the riff-raff from his army!

First Game of the Year, or Losing Well

I played my first game of Warhammer in 2010 at the weekend, and since a lot of my Dark Elves are organised in piles on shelves according to how ready they are for painting, I decided to take out my Wood Elves for the day.

It was a standard 2,500 point Pitched Battle, against my standard foe – the Empire. I went with an archer-heavy army, with a few fast units and led by a Treeman Ancient (because why the hell not).

In the second turn, due to a skin-of-the-teeth break test after a skin-of-the-teeth combat resolution, the Treeman broke, fled, and was caught by a skin-of-the-teeth pursuit. If he’d had teeth, he might have survived. Despite having lost almost half the army by this point in exchange for very few casualties, I still managed over the remaining four turns to not be completely wiped out, and succeeded in make a very good loss out of it. This was helped in part by the amazing power of the Glade Guard longbows at short range – becoming both more accurate and more deadly kept the whole lot of them alive.

In the end, I was massacred. But I didn’t make my usual mistake, which is misjudging charge ranges of the enemy or misaligning units to allow their targets to get out of sight or out of my charge ranges. My biggest enemy was being too close and not well hidden from the two Helblaster Volley Guns, which rolled incredibly well this week. The two Great Cannons took the brunt of the bad luck, almost never getting an opportunity to fire (most common result – cannot fire next turn), and I can’t actually recall them wounding more than one Glade Guard… I had great sympathy, despite how many of my units those cannons have claimed in the past.

All in all, another enjoyable game and some good practice in using skirmishers and fast cavalry again. I think while I work on the Dark Elves this year, I’ll be playing with the Wood Elves a bit more often, and try out a wider range of tactics.