Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gutted!

Last night was the final week of the escalation league at Redcap's, so I packed up my High Elves and shipped over after work. The game was set at 1,500 points, so I updated my army list. It's still not exactly what I'd take if I had all the miniatures I'd like, but it's getting closer. In particular I wanted to try replacing the second mage with a melee-oriented character, so I swapped him out for Caradryan:

  • Level 4 Archmage, Book of Hoeth (aww yeah!), Lore of Life
  • Caradryan (aww yeah!)
  • 15 Spearmen, full command (joined by both characters)
  • 15 Sea Guard, full command
  • 2 units of 10 Swordmasters, one with the Banner of Sorcery, the other with Ironcurse Icon
  • 8 Ellyrian points fillers, or, Reavers
My opponent, Anthony, was a super nice guy who's also new to the game. Seriously, I've played some extremely courteous opponents lately, and he was probably the nicest (including the time I bilocated and played against myself). This turned out to be good later on. Anthony is the tyrant of an Ogre Kingdoms horde:
  • A Tyrant accompanied by 6 Ironguts
  • A good-sized Ogre Bull regiment
  • A mob that included probably every Gnoblar in the world
  • A group of Gnoblar Trappers
  • 3 Leadbelchers
  • 2 Gorgers
We rolled Blood and Glory, the scenario that assigns each army a "fortitude" score and checks against its "breaking point." If you reach your breaking point by losing some combination of the army's general and unit standards, you're toast. Anthony won the roll to choose his table edge, and opted to stick to the side where he'd already been unpacking his ogres. I was happy about that as the side I inherited had a sweet spot for some Sea Guard, a defended obstacle at the top of a hill. My setup was pretty simple: Sea Guard on the hill, Swordmasters to the fore, Spearmen just for maximum spell coverage, and Reavers on the right flank. Anthony plopped most of his Ogres down as close as possible, put the Leadbelchers on my right flank, and the Trappers just behind my army on the left flank. I used my Vanguard move to bring the Reavers over to deal with the gobbos, and the game began.

Anthony won the first turn, which was largely uneventful as his brutes lurched toward my lines. His Leadbelchers moved through a forest which turned out to be a Wildwood, causing two wounds. The trappers pelted the back of my Swordmasters with rocks, broken bottles, and other assorted detritus but they remained unscathed due to a few lucky armor saves. I was glad I moved the Reavers over. There was no firing from the Leadbelchers, so that was the end of the turn for the Ogres.

The Ironguts with the Ogre general were close enough for a charge by my Swordmasters, and impact hits are not friendly to my low-toughness, weakly armored elves, so they charged. I wasn't confident the other unit was in charge range of the Ogre Bulls, so I moved them backwards a hair, hoping to make Anthony think twice about a second-turn charge. The Reavers continued their collision course toward the gnoblers.

I then rubbed my hands gleefully as I prepared for my first magic phase. Between the winds of magic and my Banner of Sorcery, it came out to twelve power dice for me vs. six dispel dice for Anthony. I picked up three dice to cast Throne of Vines, hoping the extra die would draw off some of my opponent's dispel dice. "This mage has the Book of Hoeth," I explained as I rolled the dice, "so he'll cast with Irresistible Force on any double, not just a six." Confidently, I let the dice fall:

The number of the beast. Six! Six! Six!

Miscast! We consulted the miscast table to learn that my mage had indeed exploded with magical energy, killing an entire rank of Spearmen and removing four dice from my power pool. Suddently, it wasn't looking so impressive. With five dice remaining I probably should have cast an ehnanced Flesh to Stone on my Swordmasters, but for fun I decided to try The Dwellers Below against the large unit of Ogre Bulls, reasoning that a few of them would surely fail their strength tests, but the spell failed.

The Reavers shot up a handful of Trappers and the Sea Guard fired some warning shots against the Bulls, so we moved on to the close combat phase. My Swordmasters promptly failed their fear checks as the Tyrant called out my champion, who accepted the challenge. Both champion and unit alike were pasted as they failed to do significant damage. The Ironguts won combat handily, and the Swordmasters were no more.

Not much happened during the Ogres' second turn, except for this: they won the game! The Ironguts charged my Spearmen, killing three with impact hits before the combat began. Caradryan wasted no time challenging the tyrant: with his halberd causing multiple wounds, I felt pretty good, but he managed to fail to wound with all of his attacks. The Tyrant took a wound off of him, which was not enough to kill Caradryan and trigger his death throes. The Spearmen failed to inflict any wounds on their foes but, amusingly, the Archmage's WS 4, Str 3 attack finished off a wounded ogre. The ogres retaliated by pulping the unit, winning combat by 10(!). Needless to say, even with the reroll provided by the army general, the Spearmen broke, the Ironguts ran them down, and as my army had reaching its' breaking point, that was the game.

I'm not sure I'm willing to claim this loss, but in retrospect, there are a few things I should have done differently. I should have stuck to my plan in the magic phase, even after the cataclysmic miscast. I also should have risked the long charge with my second unit of Swordmasters instead of moving them back. I also should have rolled another other than a 10 on my fear test and triple 6s on my casting roll, of course.

Having said that, though, I still think Anthony deserved the win. He had all of his units in the right places and was applying pressure from the start. The way his ogres utterly brutalized my poor, precious elves helped highlight a key issue, which is this: I need to figure out a way to deal with the elves' natural fragility. I still think the Lore of Life is the way to do it, but last night was some pretty strong evidence to the contrary. Also, I really need some Bolt Throwers.

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