Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Warhammer Warbands: Chaos Versus the world

The Starving Crazed Weasels decided to try some Warbands Escalation. Starting with 200 point armies, we were going to try to run all the way up to 500. So I frantically painted but was unable to complete any Marauders so I would be using some proxies. 

In just 200 points I was going to have to use Marauders in order to fit in any Knights. Per the rules, I either had to have a character of no more than 150 points or else a unit Champion. However, to get a unit Champion, I had to have a LEGAL minimum size unit instead of a 2 Cavalry or 3 Infantry unit.

Since Chaos Warriors cost a minimum of 16 points apiece after their mandatory upgrade, if I took 10 of them and a Champion I am at 172 points, leaving 28...not enough to fit in the requires 2 Knights. Actually, I could not even fit in one of the 40 point buzzards. 

At the same time, part of my army-building philosophy is to never take units that can't do anything. For example, Chaos Marauders have the combination of traits I try to avoid. To keep them affordable they have no armor, a strength of 3 and a toughness of 3. That means they are easy to kill. With no ranged weapons in the Chaos Army they are likely to get shot down while crossing the field. That means they are worse than useless; not only are they unable to accomplish anything, they are basically free points for the opponent. I am better off taking nothing than taking Marauders.

Of course, you could argue I CAN tool them up; give them light armor and shields (Save 5+), maybe the Mark of Tzeentch (6+ Ward Save). Except now they are over half the cost of a Chaos Warrior and, in the group we play in, unlikely to have a save anyway: the Dark Elves have Armor Piercing on their Repeater Crossbows meaning the save is 6+, the Dwarf army has Armor Piercing on their strength 4 Weapons meaning no save, the Ogres have S4 Weapons meaning the save is at best 6+: in other words, the points spent on tooling them up are essentially wasted.

Well, what I REALLY wanted to do was put some Knights on the table. I had 5 of them painted to at least tabletop standard, though I still have some highlighting and shading to do. But I really, really, really wanted to get some Knights rolling. I would rather roll out 5 Knights and lose than no Knights and win. 

But the rules forced me to put some Marauders out there. If I am going to have to use pointless troops and get limited or no Knights then I want to win a little bit.

So I went for an army that would be well-balanced enough to have at least a fighting chance against Dark Elves, Ogres, Lizardmen, Dwarfs, Wood Elfs and possibly the Vampire Counts based on who I thought might show up.  As it turned out, the V.C. guy was out of town, the guy playing the Wood Elfs had to work, and the guys playing the Ogres and Lizardmen were only there for a game or two each.

I started with my General. Since the cheapest hero I have is the Chaos Sorcerer, in he went, 85 points, level one, Lore of Death or Fire (I chose Death). 

Then I needed two core units. Chaos Marauders at 4 points each mean if I go 3 of each, another 24 points, I am up to 109. Cool, that let me fit in two Knights, the only models I REALLY wanted to play. 280, we were letting people have up to 203 points so I bumped one unit of Marauders to 4 and the other to 5 guys. 201 points. 

Game one I drew Kev and his Ogres. Uh-oh...exactly one of the reasons I hate Marauders. 

Lets assume I get 100 attacks and Kev gets 100 attacks. I have a higher weapon skill so SHOULD hit about 66% of the time, so I will hit him 66 times. I then have a 1 in 3 chance of wounding so 22 wounds. He has a 5+ armor save so will save 1 in 3 so I will do about 14 wounds in 100 attacks if all goes strictly according to statistics. 

He will hit me 1 in 3 times, or about 33 times. He will wound 2 in 3, or 22 times. All of those will kill me.

So I am doing 14 wounds in 100 attacks, he is doing 22. Each wound I cause goes 1/3 of the way toward reducing the number of attacks he gets whereas each wound he does reduces the number of attacks I get. See the problem here? I need way more force in Marauders to equal his Bulls. 

So for this battle, my Marauders will basically try to maneuver out of his way and let the Knights do all the heavy lifting. That is where Kev has the problem.

He will still hit 1/3 of the time. However, he then wounds just 50% of the time, let's round up to 17. I am going to save 5 out of 6 of those, so he should do about 3 casualties in 100 attacks. 

Conversely, I will hit 66 times, wound 33 of those, and he will save just 1 in 6, so I should do 27-28 wounds in 100 attacks.

Of course, these are just basic statistical models and as any competent mathematician will tell you, a sample size of 100 is ridiculously small and inaccurate. These numbers will be born out of hundreds of thousands of rolls, not over a short time. On to the game.

We had a small village in the center of the table, a river basically closing off one corner, and a tower opposite the village. Plenty of obstacles to make maneuver important. I won the roll to go first. My mission was Hold Table Quarter.

Chaos Turn one
I march everyone forward planning to hide behind the village with the Marauders (and occupy a table quarter with each of them), get off a little bit of magic, and when they got close, charge the Knights.

I did try to cast my Magic Missile. I used both allowed dice, rolled a 5. Successful...but dispelled. What? Magic failed? I...I...I...I just don't believe it. This has never happened before except every other time I have tried to use magic...

Ogre Turn 1
His Gnoblars bickered, so they stood still. Everyone else advanced a march move. He also wanted to get into hand to hand since he had no magic and only his Gnoblars had range.

Chaos Turn 2
Walk forward with the 5 man Marauders, move my sorcerer to the left to get line of sight on his Bull, move my Knights further left to either give me a flank charge if he ignored me or just plain give me the charge if not. This time for Dark Hand of Death I roll a 6 and again he dispelled it. Ah, Magic, how I love thee. Like a superfluous second belly button you are. Not really good for much and not all that attractive.

Ogre Turn 2
He advanced everybody and had one charge. He charged the Marauders with 2 Bulls. Rules Error: We forgot he had to have 3 Bulls for the Bull charge and he killed one Marauder with a Bull Charge, killed 2 more in close combat, I broke 7", he pursued 5. 

Chaos Turn 3
His breaking of my guys meant I had no charge. Fortunately (?) my fleeing guys rallied. Of course, standing 2" in front of his Bulls...did it matter? I maneuvered my Knights to get a charge hopefully next turn. Oh, and in case you wondered...I rolled a 7 (getting HIGHER!) to cast and yeah, he dispelled it.

Ogre Turn 3
2 charges. He Bull Charged the 4 man Chaos, 1 Impact hit, 2 more in close combat, I actually do a wound (!) in return, needing a 5, I pass my break test...RULES ERROR;when outnumbered by someone you fear, you auto-break. 

He also charged the remainder of the 5 man, they lost the combat, ran 5", he over ran 7" and they were done. 

Chaos Turn 4
My Knights finally charge. Then, Magic phase. This time, to save time, I did not even cast it successfully. 

First we do the combat of my one remaining Marauder. He actually caused a wound! I am highly impressed. Just 9 Marauders somehow inflicted 2 wounds. Of course, he is then slain...still, 36 points of Marauders did 24 points worth of damage...or 24 points more than I figured they would. On the dark side, his fast-moving Ogres prevented me from hiding behind the buildings which meant I could not control a table quarter...

The Knights actually did what they were supposed to. They kill one of his Ogres outright and the suffer no wounds in return. The remaining Ogre breaks and runs just 6". I roll my 3D6 to pursue...and roll out triple 1s. 

Ogre Turn 4
He fails to rally, runs 11". Everyone moves towards my Knights but stay out of my line of sight. Because of the direction he fled I cannot even see the fleeing Ogre. Great turn for the Ogres. 

Chaos Turn 5
Move my Knights to follow the fleeing Ogre (and prevent him from getting a charge) and move my Sorcerer back to also avoid a charge. And something very, very exciting happened.

I rolled a 6 to cast Dark Hand of Death...and he rolled Snake Eyes! Finally! A SUCCESSFUL magic spell! I now get to do D6 hits at S6. So I roll for how many...1. Then I roll to see if the hit wounds...and roll a 1. 

Let me just save time; the rest of the day in games against the Dwarf army, Dark Elf Army twice, Lizardmen, I do not again get a spell cast successfully even though  three of those games I had a level 2 wizard and was rolling the maximum three dice. Magic on my behalf totally sucks. Worthless. Wasted points. So depressing. 

Ogre Turn 5
He does not much, can't catch me, and his Ogre finally rallies.

Chaos Turn 6
I charge his rallied Ogre, kill him. 

Ogre Turn 6. 
Grabs table quarter. That is all he can do.

Final Results
He killed 36 points of Marauders. We thought he got 100 points for table quarter, but  re-reading of the rules says no points for Table Quarter unless it is your objective. Meanwhile, that WAS my objective and it turns out the minimum unit size is only 2. Unfortunately, he controlled as many table quarters as I did. Actually, with his Gnoblars in one quarter and 2 1-bull units in the other, he out-controlled table quarters 2-1. I did, however, score 108 points of damage for a final tally of 108-36 (which is different than what we thought at the time).

72 points, Victory belongs to Chaos.

Game Two: Chaos Versus Dwarf Army
We fought on the same battlefield. Again I won the first turn. This game was pretty quick. I simply moved my Marauders behind two different buildings to grab two table quarters and started maneuvering my Knights to charge his Warriors. He had a gun line of Thunderers and I had no intention of allowing them to shoot at my Marauders and did not particularly want him shooting at my Knights, either.

Meanwhile, he was maneuvering his Warriors to get the charge, so we did some hide and seek before finally he had to leave me line of sight to them for turn 5

Chaos Turn 5
By the time we reached turn 5 we were maybe 6 minutes into the game...INCLUDING setup. I finally got the charge.  Planning to support them, I move my 5 man Chaos Unit forward knowing they would be covered by the battle and also thinking I was out of range of the Thunderers anyway. Plus I joined my Sorcerer to them. Space Monkey passed his Fear test, I did two casualties to him, he did none in return but he did not run.

Dwarf Turn 5
Oops. During turn 5...well, a couple of my Marauders were exposed. He shot and killed 2 of them. They broke. 

In hand to hand I killed 2 more of his guys but he killed one of my Knights. This time he broke and I followed, overrunning him and running clean off the table. 

Chaos Turn 6
My fleeing guys rally, I forgot to bring my other Knight back on...not that it would have mattered. I was out of the firing arc of his Thunderers and could not contest the table quarter.

Dwarf Turn 6
He had nothing to do, game.

Final Results
We mis-figured it again* thinking he got points for the table quarter. I actually held 2 table quarters to his one and had chosen Invade so his points were 40 points for killing the Knight. I scored 126 for killing his Thane and Warriors, nothing for Invade. It was an 86 point advantage for me, another Victory. 

*(We initially thought he got 100 for the table quarter + 40 for the Knight + 40 for achieving his objective giving him 180 points which would have been a victory for him)

Chaos Victory, 2-0.

Game Three:Chaos Versus Dark Elf

This time we would be on the other table that had been set up. He had a hill on his side of the table, I had a forest on mine. I hid two units behind the forest, one unit on the right planning to overwhelm that side of the field. But I forgot how fast Elf armies move...
Once more I rolled Capture a Standard so got to choose my own. I knew the only way to win was kill his Sorceress fast so I chose Assassinate.

Dark Elf Turn One
He advances everyone up onto the hill. I see my Marauders will get shot down next turn.

Chaos Turn One
I start moving my Marauders over to hide behind the Forest. I know his crossbows will get 3 turns of shooting at them so they are just casualties. I put the Knights in front and move towards him as much as possible but he is too close for me to march.

Dark Elf Turn Two
He successfully casts a magic spell that kills both of my Knights and shoots down a Marauder.

Rest of Game
I have no chance of getting to him before he can shoot and magic me down so I just move behind the forest and will not move again. There is no point to him moving either so the game is over at that point. 

I thought I had a table quarter...well, he had one too. So he scored 80 for the Knights, an 80 point Dark Elf Victory.


We bumped it up to 300 points and again it was Dark Elf versus Chaos. At this point we had stopped taking pictures and notes, so this is largely memory.

I now had a level 2 sorcerer, 3 Knights, and 10 Chaos Marauders. He had a Bolt Thrower, level 2 sorcerer, and a couple other units.

The field we rolled meant we would start about an inch apart. His Bolt Thrower was on the corner as were my Knights. Behind his Bolt Thrower were 3  Repeater Crossbows and down the hill behind a fence were his Sorceress with that same stupid 18" area of effect spell and a few warriors. I had 5 Marauders and my Sorcerer to my Knights' left and the other unit behind them.

I won the first turn.

Chaos Turn 1
"Charge!" My Knights and Marauders declare charge. His Bolt Thrower crew failed their fear test. Depending on point of view...that was HORRIBLE.

If he stands and I get into hand to hand I should easily defeat him and either kill him outright or else overrun right into his repeater crossbows. I could do lots of damage right off the bat. Instead, it became a failed charge. I mean, sure, I marched up the hill and destroyed the bolt thrower, but it put my Knights and Marauders in the open in front of his Crossbows and within 18" of the Sorceress.

Dark Elf Turn 2
His fleeing crew failed their rally test. Again, bad for me. I could have charged them with my Marauders on the left flank the next turn but this meant they got out of my range. Then he cast his magic.

First he rolled 2 dice on the one that adds D3 dice to his pool. Looking back at the game he thought he rolled a 9, I thought he rolled an 11. Either way, with only 3 Dispel dice, I wasn't going to try to stop it. So then he had 4 dice, rolled them all for the Area of Effect spell. I planned to Dispel it but he rolled Irresistible Force. 

2 of my 3 Knights died, the other one fled. 2 of my 5 Marauders died, the other 3 and the Sorcerer fled.

Chaos Turn 2
Everyone RALLIED. Yeah.

Dark Elf Turn 2
He moved his Crossbows forward to get line of sight. His shooting missed. Oh, some good news! His magic did no damage.

Chaos Turn 3
I get the charge on his Crossbows, kill them, get to the crest of the hill. 

Dark Elf Turn 3
Not much happened.

Chaos Turn 4
I advance down the hill, too far away to get the charge. My other Marauders also advance.

Dark Elf Turn 4
Again he gets Irresistible Force. My last Knight died, as did another Marauder. 

Chaos Turn 5
At this point it looked pretty bad for me. I had my Sorcerer (who remember had cast 1 (one) spell successfully all day, doing a total of zero casualties. He had a couple small units and his sorceress behind a fence which meant I could not really get any benefits from charging. However, I HAD to charge or else sit there and let him cast magic. So I did. I charged even with no expectations. 

But then something happened. My Marauders killed a couple guys. He did no return wounds. He failed his break test and ran. I could not catch him.

Dark Elf Turn 5
He failed his rally test. He fled the table. Game over.

What? He killed all my knights, over a third of my Marauders, twice cast successful spells and I crushed him? I am confused.

Sure, him losing 1/3rd of his army in the first moment hurt...but that still shocked me. It was the first points my Marauders earned all day in combat.

Final tally: He got 130 for Knights and Marauders (ironically, the highest total scored against me all day). I got 300 for his army plus 60 for achieving my Assasinate goal. A Massacre.

At this point I was 3-1 with one Massacre for me and one against me (both against the Dark Elf army.)

Game Five: Chaos Versus Lizardmen
Fullur came over with his Lizardmen, pointed out that we had been playing wrong. He pointed out that, depending on your reading of the rules, we could NOT, in fact, have characters worth more than 75 points. It was 150 points TOTAL, not each. 

In other words, I could not use any character in my entire army since the cheapest one is a mere 85 points...10 points over the maximum allowed. So I had to retool.

Well, there was no way I was going with a Marauder Champion so I went with Chaos Warriors, a unit I typically eschew because they are too expensive for a unit that is unlikely to ever actually get into combat. 10 guys at 15 points plus a mandatory upgrade plus a Champion, 172 points. 

3 Knights, another 120 points. 3 Marauders 304 points. Due to my victory, I was actually allowed 310 so I added a 4th Marauder.

Facing me would be I think 3 units of Skinks, one of which had a Kroxigor in it, and a Skink Priest.

Lots of shooting by him, lots of marching forward by me. Somewhere along the line I lost a Warrior to his shooting so no rank bonus for me. I got the charge with my Knights on one of his Skin units. Their Stand and Shoot killed a Knight, the other two rampaged through his unit.

Meanwhile, he outmaneuvered me on the other flank and got a flank charge on my Warriors but also charged them frontally with his Skinks. 

I made all my saves, did back five casualties (this is the moment Fullur was talking about  where he gave me an unneeded advantage. He let me make a lot of attacks that I should not have gotten. As a result, both his units broke and fled. From there it was just mop-up and the game became a massacre.

Eventually his Kroxigor and Skink rallied only to be charged by my Knights.

Oddly, he out-generaled me in the maneuver phase. I typically feel I win the maneuver phases, but not this time. He made just one mistake...charging my front. 

For the day I went 4-1. Much better than I thought I did and better than I wanted to do. Oh, well. It was all right.

Ultmiately looking at Warbands I am a bit disappointed. It forces you to use units that have little to no capability and does not let you use units that are actually fun to play or, if it does, they are disproportionately penalized by individual bad moments. 

My Knights did perform fairly well. They wrecked the Dwarf Warriors, killed a couple Ogre Bulls, their Fear caused a Bolt Thrower to get destroyed. On the other hand, they were much more fragile than I anticipated, taking casualties in every game except the Ogre game...which, by the way, was the one I thought they wer most likely to take a casualty in.

The Sorcerer was worse than ever. I am seriously considering taking no magic at all in future battles since it never does anything. However, in light of the need to stop stuff like the hyper destructive Dark Elf magic, I think I will probably have to take some low level guys with Dispel Scrolls. 

All in all, it was okay, but I would much rather play games where I can actually have enough Knights that I don't have to fear I won't get them into combat if they take even a single casualty.


kennyB said...

The Spell from Game 3: Chaos vs Dark Elves was Doombolt. Cast on 6+, Magic missile, 18" Range, D6 S5 hits. I hit 3 times I believe, wounded all 3, and you saved 1, or something like that.
The Spell from the second battle of Dark Elves vs Chaos was Black Horror. Cast on 11+, Center large template within 18", all models touched must take Strength test or take a wound with no armour save, then test for Panic. I couldn't believe needing 4's or less to live, you rolled 2 out of 3 @ 5+'s. Then again, when you need high rolls for armour saves, you often get them, so I guess loaded dice come back to bite! ;) Just kidding of course!... Your loaded die always rolls a 3! mwah hah ha!

Darth Weasel said...

Yeah, I would feel better about that if, you know...I made more saves. I could not believe my Knights could not make it through any game unscathed EXCEPT the one where the Ogres actually had a 50-50 shot at killing them....