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.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Healthy Respect for Rats

I was able to make it down to Redcap's Corner for their escalation league the other night, and played 1,250 points of High Elves against the store owner's Skaven. Here's what I brought:

  • A level 3 Archmage with High Magic and a level 2 Mage with the Lore of Life
  • 2 units of 10 Sea Guard with full command
  • 2 units of 10 Swordmasters with full command, one with the Banner of Socrery
  • 5 Ellyrian Reavers
Adam had:
  • Queek Headtaker and a BSB with some kind of crazy rat banner that does random str2 hits
  • a massive 500-point block of Stormvermin
  • 2 (or possibly 3) units of Skavenslaves
  • 2 Rat Ogres with packmaster
  • a warpfire thrower
  • 2 lightning cannons
We rolled scenario six, the one with the watchtower, with a unit of Adam's Skavenslaves holding the tower at the start of the game. Thinking back to past defeats, I deployed my units mostly together to keep them in range of the mages' augment spells. With my vanguard move, I moved the Reavers up my right flank to deal with one of the lightning cannons, which Adam had placed in opposite corners of the board.

I was in the position to make a first turn charge on the tower with my Swordmasters, so I did so. They ended up taking out half the Skavenslaves with no casualties, but because of the building the rats were stubborn and I wasn't able to shift them. I moved the other unit of Swordmasters forward to charge the Stormvermin next turn, and buffed them with Stone to Flesh and Shield of Saphery in the magic phase. The Reavers took a wound off of the lightning cannon with their bows. In Adam's turn, the bulk of the rats moved up and there was some inaccurate fire from the lightning cannons.

In the second turn I continued to clear the slaves out of the tower. Adam eschewed dispelling my augment spells in favor of throwing a massive handful of dice to counter Flames of the Phoenix (understandably). The Sea Guard killed the Rat Ogres' packmaster with a lucky shot, rendering them stupid and slowing their advance. The Reavers took another wound off the rightmost lightning cannon, although I stupidly forgot to charge the war machine (mostly because Adam was using a dreadnought as a proxy, and all of my instincts told me it was a bad idea to charge a dreadnought with light troops - duh). The Swordmasters charged Queek's huge unit of Stormvermin, their champion killing Queek with three lucky blows in the challenge! The rest of the unit chipped away at the rats, but lost half their members for their trouble.

From this point it was mostly downhill for me. I had some lucky breaks, such as the unit of Sea Guard receiving the Rat Ogre charge with minimal casualties, running them down, and claiming the tower. In the end, though, I couldn't put enough wounds on the Stormvermin to make much of a dent, and with the help of the Warpfire thrower they cleared the tower out easily.

This was one of those games that felt close until the last turn or so, and games like that are always a good time. The Skaven have some incredibly nasty units and items, the kind of scary stuff that I feel the High Elves lack (for the most part). I will definitely not be underestimating them as I retool my list for the rematch.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Captain's Log

I need to find a new photography option, as the lens on my camera phone got scratched to hell sometime last week and a blog without pictures does not make for exciting times. It was a good weekend for gaming, though. I sat down and cleaned the flash from a bunch of Dark Angel parts (this seems to take forever) and got some paint on an elf mage, which is now awaiting a bath of Simple Green. Call it a failed experiment.

After weeks of trying to find an opponent for Warhammer Fantasy (I guess the new edition excitement was short-lived), I was finally able to get some elves on the table. I made a decent showing, but in the end I was massacred by Kevin's night goblin horde. Some teachable moments:

  • Swordmasters are really, really good. I already knew this, but I didn't realize how good.
  • Swordmasters are really, really fragile. I already knew this, but I didn't realize how fragile.
  • If you're going to try to dominate the magic phase, bring an item that generates extra dice; snake eyes on the winds of magic isn't good.
  • Actually, magic seems kind of unreliable in general - between enemy dispel dice, spell selection, board position, and a host of other factors, it seems like you're getting about one spell off per turn.
  • Don't split your forces if you're already outnumbered like crazy.
Despite the outcome I had a lot of fun; I'm starting to feel that Fantasy is more satisfying (although not necessarily more fun) than 40k. I still hate the overabundance of wacky magical terrain, though.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ain't Done Much



Not really. I've been cleaning mold lines and priming for the last few days. Not pictured: double the amount of elves (ten more Sea Guard, ten more Swordmasters, five more Reavers), a squad of terminators, chaplain with jump pack.

That's right, I broke down and bought the Island of Blood at full retail, swapped my rats for a buddy's elves, and won myself a $15 gift card in the process.