Saturday, November 29, 2008

Warhammer Game 1

The time has come for the first game. Representing the mighty, heroic, and extremely well-dressed, handsome dwarven army (pictured above) would be the mighty, heroic, and extremely well-dressed, handsome Rick and Drew. Rick took, from left to right, the Warriors,  the General, and the Troll-Slayer. Drew got the  cannon, the Thunderers, and the Miners. The plan was simple. Protect the wings with the fighters, shoot their dangerous stuff with the cannon and thunderers.
 Opposing the valiant but badly outnumbered Dwarves would be the foul-smelling, craven, malicious goblin hordes which was ironic since they were being played by the foul-smelling, craven, malicious Kenneth, Phillip and Josh (not pictured). Ha, just kidding. They are not malicious. Again pictured left to right, Kenneth took the Night Goblin Spearmen and Shaman. He put the shaman in the unit for protection.

Phillip had the fast-moving Spider Riders and the Night Goblin Archers. Josh got the Troll, The Goblin General, and another unit of Night Goblin Spearmen.

Kenneth checks out his unit statistics.

The Spider Riders marched forward their full move. The King's Wall was an unfortunate obstacle that would slow them a bit. As it turned out, that time it slowed them would possibly determine the outcome of the entire battle. Actually, the entire Goblin Army moved forward at a full march. They clearly wanted to get into hand to hand combat as quickly as possible so they could use their superior numbers to overwhelm the Dwarves
The Shaman cast Burning Hands on himself as the Dwarves were unable to dispell. Everyone was out of range so the Goblins ended their first turn.

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We moved both wings forward at a fast march. We wanted our hand-to-hand fighters to get in contact with the Goblins as soon as possible. We figured to deal more casualties in close combat than the Goblins, though their numbers could prove problematic. We would simply count on our gunmen to whittle down their numbers. The Thunderers and Cannon cannot move and fire so they stayed put. The Cannon took aim at the front rank of the Spider Riders. Unfortunately, needing 2+ to kill them, I rolled snake-syes. Then the Thunderers took a bead on the Spider Riders and unleashed their mighty hand-guns.
With deadly precision, they mowed down fully half of the Spider Riders, leaving just 5 alive. Fortunately for the Spider Riders, they were within range of the General. His added Leadership let them pass the test.


The Spider Riders thought about charging the Miners but chose to bypass them in favor of getting ready to charge the Thunders. In my opinion, this was a slight tactical error. If they charged they would pin down the Miners, letting the Night Goblin Spearmen charge in with an advantage, and also keep them from getting shot at by the Thunderers and Cannon. Then again, he did need to dispense with the Thunderers. This was certainly a bad moment for the Thunderers as they are really effective when shooting...not so much hand-to-hand. If the Spider Riders reached them, they were likely to flee the field.
Using the Spider Riders for Cover, the Night Goblin Spearman advanced, ready to charge the Miners on their own.
The Night Goblin Archers advanced to the King's Wall while Drool the Troll and General Eargrabber advanced towards their opposite numbers. They fired on Norry Trollslayer, but the hero laughed off their hail of arrows, taking no damage.

Again the Dwarven fighters moved forward as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the mighty Dwarf Cannon roared again. This time the Night Goblin Spearmen lost a couple members. Again the Thunderers fired. This time they slew just 3 Spider Riders but, devastated by the carnage, the2 remaining Spider Riders turned tail and fled. 

With the Spider Riders fleeing, it opened the Night Goblin Archers to the fury of the Thunderers in future turns, at least until they closed with the Miners in furious hand-to-hand combat. But that was several turns away if it was to happen at all. 

The Night Goblins moved into close range with the Miners but were unable to charge. The Troll, however, did move into contact with Norry. Meanwhile, using the little-known "Drew needs to remember and explain the rules better" clause, the Night Goblin Archers expanded their front and unleashed a mighty hail of arrows at the Thunderers. 
Having already seen the ineffectual nature of their bowmanship, the Thunderers laughed off the hail of least, until they noticed two of their number laying on the ground, shot dead. The Goblins, heartened by this turn of events, raised a mighty cheer.

On the right wing, the Warriors charged into the Night Goblin Spearman while on the left the Miners charged the Shaman-strengthened Night Goblin Spearmen. The Warriors fought the Spearmen to a draw, but the fight between Troll and Troll-Slayer went very poorly for the dwarves. With a mighty effort, Drool dispatched Norry, giving the Goblins a mighty boost in morale. This was offset, however, as the Miners took not one casualty and ran the Night Goblins off the table. The Mighty Cannon belched forth flame but another roll of Snake-eyes meant it again did no damage. The Thunders killed a couple Night Goblin Archers. Things were looking good for the Dwarves.

Having dispatched Norry the Troll-slayer, Drool had to choose between helping his General and helping the Night Goblins. Seeing a chance to strike the Warriors in the flank, he charged into battle against them.This proved to be a brilliant move. Seeing the overwhelming horde in front of them, with the Troll-Slayer next to them, and their mighty General being matched blow for blow by the Goblin General, the Dwarven Warriors began to flee. With howls of delight, the Night Goblin Spearman pursued and slew them all. The tide had turned as the badly outnumbered dwarves saw their main unit crushed into tiny little soup bones which no doubt would find their way into Goblin Stew-pots post-battle.

The Miners moved towards the Archers, the Thunderers shot at the Archers, the Cannon took out a couple Archers.

Goblin Turn 5
The Troll charged in to attack the Dwarf General. Hand to hand, the General slew the Goblin Troll but was in turn killed by the Goblin General. On the Dwarf Right, the Night Goblin Spearmen wheeled to face the Cannon while the Archers retreated from the Miners. Their arrows flew in, killing two Miners, but the Miners stood resolute, unwilling to retreat.

The Night Goblin Archers continue their retreat, firing as they back up from the Miners.

Meanwhile, the Spearmen engaged the Cannoneers. Expecting an easy victory, they were unable to slay even a single Cannonneer while taking 3 casualties of their own. Somehow they passed the break test.

The Thunderers looked for a new target, the Archers having retreated out of range. There was one...the Goblin General. He went down under a hail of bullets.

Again the Cannoneers held firm. The Archers took the Miners down to just 2, but they again refused to flee. 

The Thunderers turned to face the Night Goblin Spearmen whenever they inevitably broke through the 3 cannoneers.

The last two miners charged into the archers and began hewing them down. Frightened by the ferocity of these two miners, the archers began to flee but were run down and slain to the last Goblin.

At this point, technically, the game should have been over according to the "official" rules. However, we had lost track of turns. Also, we typically play to the bitter end. So...

The last remaining Spearmen finally killed the stalwart cannoneers. Unfortunately, that put them in the open, facing the might of the Thunders.

With a smile on their face, the last 8 Thunderers unleashed the fury of their Handguns. After some abominable rolling against the archers for most of the game, they were ready to rectify their ineptitude. All 8 hit, 6 wounded, and the Night Goblins began to flee. With just 5 left, the battle was over.

The only survivors are pictured below.

 As it was, I think the plan Rick and I had was pretty good. We controlled the center of the field, used our advantages and minimized their advantages as they achieved numerical superiority but that was offset but us doing more casualties in the actual combat...which is how the two armies are set up.

This battle hung by a thread several times. If the Cannon actually killed Spider Riders or Spearmen on the two times I did zero wounds by rolling snake-eyes, or the time it mis-fired when facing the Spearmen at the very end, it could have been a rout. 

Conversely, had the Miners not saved every hit laid on them by the spearmen and survived to reach the archers, the archers could have won it. Had the Spearmen gotten through the cannoneers on their first or second try, they could have charged the Thunderers. In hand to hand they would have probably run the Thunderers off the table. 

Ultimately, it was a close game and hopefully a fun one for all involved. Except for the Troll taking out the Trollslayer in one turn, basically every break went the way of the Dwarves. One or two reversals and the Goblins could have won. 

One thing I forgot, though it would have mattered in one combat, was the Spears. Spearmen can use 2 ranks every turn when they don't charge. Since I charged them with my Miners, they would have had an additional 5 attacks or so which could have changed the outcome of that attack. That was an error on my part.

I think if the roles were reversed, I would have done a few things different. The King's Wall delayed the Spider Riders long enough to allow them to be destroyed before they could ever come to grips with the Dwarf units. If I were to deploy the Goblins, I would run the Archers to the Wall in a 16 wide group to make it tough for the Dwarves to shoot at anyone but them. With the General hanging close to them, their leadership tests would be on an 8, they are a large unit so would not break the first 2 or 3 turns. The Spider Riders and Night Goblin Spearmen would be placed clear of the wall so they could move as quickly as possible once they got past the wall. 

Also, I might leave one side of the field clear. Dwarves are very slow, so if I could overload one side of the field and effectively take half the enemy force out of commission, this would allow me to get some flanking action in. No matter how tough a dwarf unit, if faced with 2 units of Spearmen packed 5 rows deep, one on their flank, that dwarf unit is going to run. Pursuing the Miners would bring the Spearmen close to the Thunderers. Once in Hand to hand, they could roll up the flank and keep the Cannon from being a factor. Of course, if the Dwarves adopt the same strategy, I would be in trouble as the flanking roles could be reversed.

I would also tend to keep at least 4 ranks deep by 4 wide rather than going wider but shallower. That would give me the max advantage in hand to hand. Even though the Dwarves are going to do more casualties in almost every exchange, the depth would matter. Let's say the Dwarves do 3 casualties and the goblins 1. That plus 2 will be overcome by 2 rank bonuses. If I still have 3 rank bonuses, it will be the DWARVES taking the break test. So numbers might be best used by making the most ranks possible. Or I might even, in the future, be tempted to combine the 2 units into one massive unite that could go about 8 wide by 5 deep. 

I will experiment a bit with the Goblins. They are the exact opposite of my preferred style...which is a few tough guys who are lethal. I am not great at winning through numbers. 

Conversely, the Dwarves are not my style either. I do not like relying on War Machines like cannons. The idea that my guess was pretty irrelevant was frustrating. At one point I guessed 1" in front of the cannon, rolled an 8 on the Artillery Die, and watched my cannonball sail harmlessly over the Night Goblins. The next turn it misfired. Then the Spearmen charged it and the jig was up. I am not a huge fan of something that can add 2,4, 6, 8, or 10" to my guess...if it doesn't misfire entirely. You not only have to be good at estimating the distance from you to the target, you also have to be somewhat fortunate in your rolls to injure anyone. 

Fortunately, the Thunderers are pure awesome. I like them. Great range, decent chance to hit, good chance to wound. Deadly. Actually, except the War Machines, very slow foot speed,  and lack of armor (other than the Miners), the Dwarves fit me pretty well...:-) I am a Bretonnian General at heart, so I will avoid playing them for a while.