Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oh, the Humiliation:Chaos Warriors versus Dark Elves

Battle report below after the fluff. I will separate it with helpful asterisk lines for those of you who wish to skip the fluff.

Among our gaming group there is a general consensus the Chaos Warriors are under costed and over powered. Since I am well aware of their flaws, I am the primary dissenting voice. Of course, since I am also the one who PLAYS Chaos, there is naturally a pro-Chaos bias there. 

Still, though I DO like their stat line, I do NOT think they are under costed. I actually think a couple of their guys are over costed. But that is just me. 

I also think they are saddled with unbelievably worthless units. The Forsaken are worse than the core Chaos Warriors but do cost the same and take up a Special Slot. The Hellcannon works as a Stone Thrower. My history with stuff that can scatter is that it does and very seldom hits what it aims at. Maurauders and Warhounds are "I have nothing else to use the points on so I might as well waste some" units. Chaos Spawns are uncontrollable, hence of quite marginal use.

At the same time they have some fantastic units. Chaos Warriors, if a bit pricey, are still capable of dealing out a lot of damage. Chaos Knights are right there with the Grail Knights for best close combat unit in the game. The Dragon Ogre Shaggoth looks like fun. Their Hero-level characters have stat lines that make them legit threats to other armies' Lord level characters.

Well, with that in mind, I wanted to put a weaker-than-normal army out there and see how it would do. If it won via massacre, I would give serious thought to not playing Chaos. My intention was to lose but keep it a marginal victory. A Draw would be better, a Solid Victory for him acceptable. The only outcomes I did NOT want were being on the wrong end of a massacre or for me to win.

Not that I COULDN'T win...but if I did, it would mean they were right. Chaos is too good. If I can put out an army with intentional gaping flaws and still win...then either my opponent sucks or the army is too good. On the one hand, a Chaos Army will always have a punchers chance...well armored, hits hard, so they can win even if they have a huge points differential, much less simply taking sub-standard units but having equal points. They never should lose the game prior to entering the table, good rolls can overcome that. No doubt the Chaos army IS very solid and capable of winning any game. But there are games they are definite underdogs, and that is what I was shooting for.

See, there is no shooting in the Chaos Army so any shooting army has a distinct advantage. A nimble, maneuvering shooting army such as the Skink Skirmisher army of doom or the Wood Elf army will cause this build fits. Even a Dwarf gun line would have a good chance.

Second, I had nothing to deal with magic. I had the 2 basic Dispel dice and nothing else, so I was very, very susceptible to magic. I carried none bound spells, no wizards, nothing.

As it turned out, there was a third flaw...but I did not see that one until later.

Well, my plan was changed slightly. I was waiting for Fixed Dice to reply to my e-mail asking him how many points he wanted to play while he was waiting for my reply to his e-mail asking how many points I wanted to play. I never got his e-mail and he never got mine. So last night we talked on the phone and came up with something fun. 

We would each make 6 army lists; 2500, 3000, 3500, 4000, 4500, 5000. We would each roll a d6 so one might end up with 2500 while the other had 5000 or some such wacky combination. 

Then we would roll for scenario, and if one army was significantly larger, would adjust the chart in favor of Ambush or Last Stand type scenarios.

My main problem was I wanted to use as many actual figures without proxying as possible. So I bounced back and forth between putting the finishing touches on another 5 Knights and putting together army lists. 

Did not glue the Knights together, only got 3 lists together. Grabbed the camera, off I went to his place for the game.

We then wimped out on our plan and went with 2500 points. Awesome.

The Army List (and the "thoughts" behind it.)
I initially went with a Daemon Prince. They can fly, have excellent WS and S, with the Mark of Teentch they have a 4+ Ward Save and they are the only model that can take the 2 best gifts of Chaos. Ironically, I then gave him Word of Agony, a much cheaper but potentially awesome Gift. I then reconsidered; I wanted this army to rely on its troops, so a single model pushing 400 points ran counter to that plan. Also, I wanted to put in another type of unit that he had the perfect base for, so I would use him for that instead. I tossed him out and started over.

I went with a basic Chaos Lord, gave him the Mark of Tzeentch, Talisman of Protection, and Sword of Change. He would have a 2+ save thanks to Chaos Armor and Enchanted Shield (1+ in close combat) and a 5+ Ward Save. The Sword of Change would give him a chance to defeat any opponent; they must make T test and if they fail it, become Chaos Spawn and are removed. That would give me a 17% chance per wound to defeat even a Dragon or some untouchable Lord character. Odds not great but that is what I wanted...a "punchers chance".

Wulfrik the Wanderer
I knew he would field Repeater Bolt Throwers. I suspected as many as 4 but knew there would be some. Wulfrik's ability to enter from any table edge gave me a chance to lessen their impact. At 100 points each, any conversation about units that are too cheap, to me Bolt Throwers are front and center. Hate them. Also, I figured he was my best chance to roll on the Eye of the Gods table.

Army Battle Standard Bearer
I wanted my units to be Stubborn so I gave him the Banner of the Gods which meant he caused Terror and all units within 6" tested as Stubborn. The plan was to put him between the Knights and Warriors up the gut of the field. As a general rule I don't take the Army Standard Bearer as they are relatively fragile and I have not found the banners exceptionally useful.

Exalted Hero
Gave him the Mark of Nurgle to make him harder to hit and gave him the Chaos Runesword which meant he had an awesome WS8, S6 and 5 attacks.

As you can see my heroes could all do serious damage in close combat. They were one of my goals for the game; roll on the Eye of the Gods table.

Core Units
2 identical units of 10 marauders. No upgrades. To keep with my theme of just one proxy, I could only take 10 each as I currently own only 20 Marauder models. When the unit is that small, points on Marks are basically extra free points for the opponent. Lt Armor and Shield is unbelievably worthless; the accursed and woefully under costed Repeater Crossbows of the Dark Elves have a minus 2 to armor save which means anything that wounds a Marauder removes its armor save so why take any upgrades to models that are virtually guaranteed to be casualties? (The irony of that line will be evident in post-battle mop-up)

(24) Chaos Warriors
I took a full command. I had been arguing they were not all that great with a high point cost and low mobility but still hearing they cost too little. So I decided to see if they could win a game. This would be the centerpiece of my army. I gave them the Mark of Khorne to give them Frenzy and the Blasted Standard to give them a 5+ Ward verse shooting. They could take some shooting on their way across the field but still get there with a rank bonus. 

(10) Chaos Warhounds
This is one of those units that I generally would not take. Like the Marauders they are virtually guaranteed to be casualties; low T, no save, low strength. But I planned to use them to go after the bolt throwers and soak up some shooting, plus they fit my idea of using units I typically would not use.

Special Units
I took just one, my beloved Chaos Knights. I have mentioned before this is my favorite unit to use. Knights. However, I decided to go a different route. I took 10 Knights, but instead of 2 5 man units as most people do (and should) take, I went with one 10 man unit. I really have no clue why I did that. I know they are going to take at least one casualty coming across the field which means they get no rank bonus and it means they cannot be in two places at once. Frankly, this was plain and simple a mistake, a brain cramp, a moment of stupidity. I have no explanation for that maneuver. 

Rare Units
I had purchased off E-bay a couple of painted Chaos Spawn. you can take 2 Spawn as a Rare Choice. As a general rule, expensive but fragile troops with a sub-par WS of 3 and no Save are an absolute no-no for me. Add the random nature of their movement and this is the type of unit that is so far from fitting my play-style they might as well be in a different army for as many times as I would play them. 
But they also fit my philosophies for this battle; with 2-7 attacks at S5 (Mark of Khorne) and being unbreakable, they could give me that punchers chance to take out even the toughest opponent.

Last but not least I took the one model I would proxy. This is why I did not use the Prince, so that model could be my Dragon Ogre Shaggoth. Fast, strong, tough, cause terror....they seem like a great model. With 6 wounds, S6, T5 and WS6 he should be able to at least get in a couple of wounds on a Dragon and take out pretty much anything else he came across.

Or not.

So my goals were four-fold:
1) Win a challenge and roll on Eye of the Gods table.
2) Watch the Dragon Ogre Shaggoth demonstrate his awesomeness.
3) See if any of the units like the Warhounds, Chaos Spawn, or Army Battle Standard Bearer would surprise me with their awesomeness
4) Achieve a Draw or lose via Marginal victory.
The Setup
Here is where things started to go south. First, I noticed the Prince model was NOT, as I had thought, a Monster-sized base. So instead of the awesome Prince model, I went with an awesome but not as awesome primered Bone Giant model my brother was kind enough to let me borrow. *sigh*

I then noticed that my camera, which I had brought along to document the proceedings, was missing something. Namely, the battery sitting at home on the charger an hour drive each way away.

This, for those paying attention, is the moment I should have packed up and headed home. It was a portent of things to come. 

The field ended up being truly awful. (We roll on the 1995 Battle Book chart to see what is tabled). There were hills in both deployment zones and only deployment zone had a place for me to be out of sight of his Bolt Throwers while still providing me with the ability to move.

Roll to see who chose deployment zone. I rolled a massive 2. Sadly, that would prove to be one of my better rolls of the day. I hoped he would spack out and give me the side he was standing on. I could go to the far edge of the field from his Bolt Throwers and they would have at most one turn to shoot at me. Also, I could use the tower in the middle to protect one flank and the edge of the table to protect the other.

He rolled a 5 and did not, in fact, spack out so I got the bad side of the field.

He put some Repeater Crossbowmen on his left flank behind a fence. Great placement. I knew he would end up putting his Repeater Bolt Throwers on the hill on his right flank, so I put my Warhounds opposite that hill. 

He then put a second unit of the Crossbowmen in front of the hill. At this point I spacked out on my own. I had a hill to the right of my Warhounds, then trees, then space, then trees. For some yet to be explained purpose that made perfect sense when I did it yet for some reason I could not explain by the time it was my turn to place again...I put them in the space. Was I planning to put the Knights behind them and go up the middle of the field? Or the Warriors? Was I...well, i don't know. It was a stupid, stupid placement. They should have gone right behind the Warhounds because with those Repeater Crossbows out there, I would need a second screen.

He then put I think Cold One Knights on his left flank of the crossbows in front of the hill. I put a Chaos Spawn on top of my hill. He dropped a War Hydra on his extreme right, I put the other Chaos Spawn next to the first. His Repeater bolt Throwers went on top of the hill, my Shaggoth went behind the Warhounds. He placed his heroes, I put my Warriors behind the Shaggoth, a some point he put his Corsairs between the Cold Ones and the Crossbows behind the fence, I put the Knights by the hill behind the Warhounds. Wulfrik and a unit of Marauders would hopefully come on soon and hit the Bolt Throwers. I had high, high hopes for Wulfrik. I also named the General on Manticore with Hunter of Men.

We rolled to see who would go first. I rolled a massive 1. Yes, I managed to worsen my roll. On the bright side, it can only go downhill from here.  He rolled a natural 6 but elected to go second. Interesting...I would have thought he would want the extra turn of shooting. Perhaps it was because I was being a jerk and whining about "some day I will get to go first" since in my games I CONSISTENTLY lose the roll to pick table edge and go first. I suspect that is faulty memory...but it FEELS that way. I do feel bad about the whining, it was inexcusable and I hereby apologize for it.

Chaos Turn 1
I rolled a 2 to bring on Wulfrik. No problem, I only had  1 in 3 chance. I bounded the Warhounds forward the full 14", same with the Shaggoth, Knights, and Warriors. The Spawn moved a respectable 5 and 6" each. I cowardly turned my Marauders and moved backwards. No point standing there alone giving his orphan unit of crossbows a target. No shooting, no magic, go.

Dark Elf Turn 1

His dragon flew in from where it had hidden way off on his left flank. Uh-oh...I knew they moved fast, but this could cause problems! His orphan crossbows crossed the fence and started moving towards the battle, which would take place on my left flank.

His magic phase took as long as mine. His shooting, however, was deadly. His crossbows unleashed their hail. 10 crossbowmen killed 6 Warhounds. His bolt throwers did 3 wounds to the Shaggoth. His Dragon-riding dude wounded a Spawn. Ouch. That was a bad phase indeed. On the bright side, I accomplished a rarity...the Warhounds passed their break test. This would not happen again in the entire game.

Chaos Turn 2
I was tired of rolling high, so I rolled  1 to bring on Wulfrik. Then I started the key mistakes. We held quite a round-table debate about this later. It looked to me at the time like his dragon could get to my Knights in his turn which meant he would get the flank charge. I wanted to use the Spawn to protect my flank but did not know how far they would reason I don't like or find useful random units that I don't control. Rules Error. I thought compulsory guys moved AFTER normal ones. And that is how I played it. 

I had to make a choice. I did not think I could get to his units before the dragon got to me. (Later post-game measurements indicate I probably was wrong...he probably would not get to me until the third turn. So I might have had one shot at his Cold One Knights before the dragon was upon me, though he probably would have gotten the charge. With S6 on the charge and my horrific rolling, I still might have gotten at least a few points. His decision to go second looks better and better)

So I moved my Knights and Warriors backwards, planning to use the table edge to protect my flank, my Warriors to protect my rear, and face the dragon charge. This would be a good test for another debate he and I have.

I believe unsupported heroes charging the front of units with advantages like Ranks and Standards can sometimes win but are more likely to lose the combat and flee. He believes heroes in that situation will, if not always, at least usually overcome even -4 or -5 deficits to win the combat. In this one, I would have a starting advantage of 4: +1 for rank, +1 for Standard, +1 for Battle Standard Bearer, and +1 for outnumbering. That would be worth postponing my full blown assault on his lines.

My Warhounds charged his Crossbows and my Shaggoth was out of range so moved towards his Hydra.

His stand and shoot killed the final 4 Warhounds so no close combat.

Dark Elf Turn 2
No charges. Orphan crossbows move closer, Dragon...flies BEHIND the Knights, a brilliant move. War Hydra breath, Repeater Crossbows and Repeater Bolt Throwers put more than the final 4 wounds needed on the Shaggoth. Cross #2 off my list of things to do in this game. 

This was a crushing blow to me. I really, really, really wanted to see him in action. Then again, units I really, really, really want to see in action have a history of disappointing me. Wardancers run off the field to Night Goblin Spearmen, Knights run off the field without taking wounds, Lever 4 Wizard Dragons (Galrauch) do more wounds to themselves than to the enemy...why should a Shaggoth be any different?

His General on Manticore put a second wound on a Spawn.
His Dragon breathed on the Warriors. His dragon has S4 breath to the S3 that my dragons get. Pouty face goes here. A couple of them died.

Chaos Turn 3
The game was essentially over at this point. If he kept flying his dragon around, I had 2 choices; keep maneuvering to avoid giving him the flank or rear charge or just give him the flank or rear charge and try to angle it so he did not pursue into my other unit(s). Either way, it meant I could never get to his peon units that were the ones I wanted to see if my units were truly super superior to. 

Remember the brain cramp where I took one unit of Knights instead of 2? Well, if I could have left one unit for him to charge and positioned it so either he charged that unit or, if my Stubborn unit held even to a flank charge (Battle Standard bearer was USEFUL!) then my Knights might have seen combat. Of course, 5 Knights into 16 bolstered by Malus is one of those things where I believe it is suicide and he believes it is an easy win for me...but I would have done it anyway even if he got the charge. 

On the bright side, Wulfrik did arrive this turn. I brought him on behind the Repeater Bolt Throwers. 
Meanwhile I moved my orphan Marauders into the trees. I would have one table quarter if he forgot about them. Pointless, but at this point I was really grasping at straws...and I had only lost 375 points completely, though a Spawn was close to dying. 

But I could already see he had the maneuver down perfectly. Fly from side to side breathing on me and keeping my Knights and Warriors out of action unless I wanted to give him the flank charge and follow-up into the other unit.

I did get the Spawn into close combat against his Crossbows, who easily passed their Fear test. And I rolled a mighty 5, giving me 6 attacks. Excellent!

Remember I said I seldom take guys with WS3? Well...2 of those mighty 6 attacks hit and, needing 2s to wound, did so. He did not or could not save. I had done 2 casualties! Excellent! He could not wound me back but did pass his break test.

Dark Elf Turn 3
Why charge when you can kill from a distance? He moved his War Hydra back to give him the flank breath, moved his dragon to breath on me, shot a lot, killed 5 Marauders with his Hydra breath and wounded my previously healthy Spawn with his General. On the bright side, his Bolt Thrower whiffed.

And I promptly rolled a 10 for my break test. Epic fail. But wait...Will of Chaos lets me re-roll Panic this one? Why yes...yes it is. And the re-roll....PASSES. Woo-hoo!

Meanwhile, the Spawn chips away, wounding another Crossbowmen or who outnumber him so the break test is manageable and they make it.

Chaos Turn 4
"Charge!" I actually have several charges. I had unattached my General and Exalted Hero from the Warriors a turn previous trying to position them to charge his dragon (I had also moved the Spawn into the mix. If that Unbreakable model could careen into his dragon, it could buy me some time to do stuff with my units) and the Battle Standard Bearer from the Knights. The Battle Standard and Exalted Hero got the charge on his Black Ark Corsairs. 

I declared a challenge, his Champion accepted. I killed his champ and got something like 2 or 3 overkill. My Exalted Hero had the best roll of the game for me. 5 attacks needing 3s...all 5 hit! Yes! I need just 2s to wound....and managed to roll 3 ones. Whatever. 

Add insult to injury; yes, I won a challenge...but Champions do not allow rolls on the Table.

We miscalculated and thought he had won the combat. I took a test...and failed it. Battle Standard Bearer was part of the combat, re-rolled...and passed. 

Even if we had correctly calculated it (he thought he had a rank bonus of 3 when he only had 2 and I forgot the +1 for Battle Standard...or ANY standard...)he would have been testing on a 9, so it really had no impact on the outcome.

Meanwhile the mighty Wulfrik, facing 2 hapless Repeater Bolt Thrower crewmen used his 4 attacks at WS8 and S5 to do a whopping....1 wound. I then had 5 Marauders attack and do....1 wound. 

Fortunately, he could not wound back. I did 2 wounds and out numbered him...break test at minus 3. I am feeling good. His first roll was for the one within 12" of the General...and that made the difference. He passed. Would have failed on his own. The other guy needed like a 5 and rolled...a 3. They both passed. 

I have to be honest. I thought Wulfrik was borderline broken. I thought he might be under costed at 185 points to have that great stat line and the ability to disrupt enemy war machines. Color me underwhelmed. He cannot even beat worse-than-average line troops when he has all the advantages. 

Dark Elf Turn 4
His general on Manticore charged on Marauder flank while the War Hydra charged the other. His dragon flew around breathing on the Knights while his rider shot the Spawn down. 

Wulfrik and the General entered a challenge. His Hydra killed the other 5 marauders. Wulfrik took no wounds. Awesome, here is where he could redeem himself. This was the challenge I set up with his Hunger of Men ability so I could re-roll to hit and had +2 Strength. I had 4 attacks needing 3s to hit and 2s to wound. 

Color me unimpressed by the zero wounds I did in the one hit (including re-rolls) that I got. 

And yes, I did fail the break test and run 2". And in one of those "rules so stupid they are unbelievable" things, with a Hydra on one side, a Manticore opposite him, a single Bolt Thrower crewmen on the third, do I run to the open spot which would lead them off the table, a happy occurrence for me since both the Manticore and Hydra would have to follow? No, I run "away from the highest unit strength" through the other...which should kill me, not allow me to pass through. That rule was idiotic when I benefited from it against the Brets and is idiotic this time when it...well, didn't really cost me since his Hydra and Manticore were done for this game, but the illogical nature of it annoys me.

Meanwhile his Dragon charged the rear of my two heroes. My Battle Standard bearer entered a challenge with him. Never lived long enough to strike back. My Exalted hero could not even wound his Corsairs. I fled...again, that retarded rule crushed me. Instead of fleeing to the open field to my right or left I fled "away from the highest unit strenght"...his corsairs. 

His Dragon had already moved. My Knights would not get flanked...unless, of course, my fleeing guy ran towards them. He was overrun by both the Corsairs and Dragon with the dragon easily hitting the Knights in the flank...the ONLY way that was going to happen. 

I finally broke his Crossbows with my Spawn and ran into one of his Bolt Throwers while they escaped.

Chaos Turn 5
 Lets see...Knights have been charged in the rear, Warriors are facing away from the Cod Ones who will charge next turn...okay, they reform, General joins them. 

Spawn kills Bolt Thrower, overruns into Crossbowmen, killing them, and ends up 1" from table edge. My first points of the game! Yay!

His Dragon easily dispatches my Knight Champion with lots of overkill, in a shock to nobody I break and flee the table. 

Dark Elf Turn 5
Cold Ones, Manticore, Dragon I think all charged the Warriors. Challenges ahoy. He wins them all, his Knights kill 4 Warriors, his General kills the Champion and in a major upset my General, with 5 attacks with the Sword of Change against his Dragon...does zero wounds. I flee, he pursues, I now have just the Spawn and Marauders on the table. 

Chaos Turn 6
Move the Spawn towards his other Repeater bolt Thrower. Need 6". Roll a 5.

Dark Elf Turn 6
His Hydra breathes on the Spawn or the Bolt thrower shot it or something.  Not much else to do.

End Game
I had 40 points left on the table so he killed 2460. He captured 2 regular standards and the Battle Standard, controlled 2 table quarters, killed my General. Somewhere well over 3000 points.

I controlled a table quarter, wiped out one Repeater Bolt Thrower, and killed 100 points of Crossbows. I got 300 points. 

Pretty clearly, I won this game handily...

Actually, he won because of these things; 
1) I had no way of coping with a flying unit that could get and use a flank charge. His Dragon alone was game-winning. 
2) I had no way of coping with either his Hydra or Manticore
3) He badly outmaneuvered me. His superior army composition combined with excellent tactical movement meant I never had an opportunity. He put his forces in position to be used at best advantage while preventing me from doing the same. 
He out-built my army and out-played me.

True, I suffered from a LOT of hideous rolls...the 3 1s needing 2s was not the only example, nor were things like his hitting 7 of 8 attacks needing 5s. He had some bad rolls as well.

The thing is, even if all those rolls were average for me, I still would have been massacred. His army and use of it were that much better than mine.

One huge mistake MIGHT have moved it to "only" a Sold Victory; had I properly moved my compulsory units first, I would have known how far to move my Knights. He would have had to charge the Unbreakable Spawn. He would have had to completely kill a unit with 3 wounds and T6 in one turn to flank charge my Knights. 

Had the Spawn held for even one turn, I would have at least had a chance to face his Cold Ones. However, if he got the charge it is unlikely I would have even been able to strike back as S6 means he would have killed many of my Knights. But perhaps not. And if I live even a single turn, I could conceivably do enough wounds to cause him some problems. 

Of course, with that said, he also would have had his General on Manticore available to charge so would I have survived that one turn? The Magic 8 ball just laughed.

I am actually happy with this game. It was very valuable from several angles.

1) We did a simulated battle between the General I first took and his Dragon. Had I taken that General, I could probably have staved off his Dragon for a turn or two. At the very least, my own flying super-dude would give me a way to counteract his flying around like that.

2) Yes, we are indeed in Hero-hammer. He who does not come prepared to deal with Monsters will lose every game, probably by massacre. 

3) Chaos is not over-powered in any way, shape or form. Their weaknesses are so huge that they might not be able to beat the Dark Elf army at all, they will struggle with the Wood Elf and Dwarf army, and should do very well against anyone else.

4) Though I know this will be controversial, I will say the most under costed unit in the game is the War Hydra, closely followed by Repeater bolt Throwers, Organ Guns, and Repeater Crossbows. 

5) I should NEVER, EVER, EVER under any circumstance get excited about playing a unit. I waited 15 years to watch the Wardancers suck giant hairy monkey underarm pit sweat,  watched "the best close combat unit in the game" run off the table without doing or taking a single casualty, watched my Power-Magic army get dominated by throw-away, out-level, out-powered wimp wizards, and watched my Shaggoth do nothing but die before getting a chance. That huge target drawback combined with hills always being in my opponents deployment zone means they are just too costly...not to mention the play-test battle we did between my Shaggoth and his Hydra. I outpointed him by over 100 and still lost the battle. Shaggpth; awesome concept, way over priced.Should not have gotten excited about it. I should know better.

But I will try the Shaggoth again. For that matter, I might even try a Chaos Spawn again.
Seeing the power of the flying unit, I think you may see the occasional Disc of Tzeentch in the near future. 

I am happy in that I am getting closer to my stated goal if 50% win rate. I am sorry that a game I wanted to lose caused me to react poorly. He deserved the win due to his build and play and it was extremely childish of me to react the way I did. I do sincerely apologize. I hope my attitude did not diminish your enjoyment of the game because you did a phenomenal job. I hope to see that army again because it should provide a good challenge for anyone and looked like great fun to play. 

Will I use Wulfrik again? Coin flip. Will I use 10 man units of Knights? Probably not. Will I use big Blocks of Chaos Warriors? Maybe in a GIANT game but otherwise probably not. Will I go back to using magic? Unlikely. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sign Up Now!

Please reply in the comments section if possible or edit this if you prefer which campaign you wish to play in. It can be either or both.

The "big" campaign will have supply centers worth 2500 points and non-supply centers worth 1000 points. This will result primarily in larger games with many Lord-level characters.

The small campaign will have supply centers worth 500 and 250 points which naturally will result in smaller games and probably very few if any Lord-level characters.

You are encouraged to play whichever one you are most comfortable with and if you wish to play in both, that is fine too as long as you play a different army in each one.


Drew: I want to play in both.
Chaos in the big campaign
Wood Elf army in the small campaign.

(note:If Chad ends up playing, he will be in the small campaign and will be the Wood Elf army in which case I will probably go Lizardmen if Phillip will let me use some guys when he isn't playing them...)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hero Hammer?

When we used to play Warhammer back in the 1995 edition, it was a broken, broken game. You could tool up your heroes to the point where troops were of little to no value. I remember one game where we were playing a 3-way battle. I tooled up a Bretonnian Lord on a dragon. After the first turn, the other two players, neither of whom had anything of the sort, ganged up on me. 

IF my Grail Knights did even a single casualty it was a minor miracle. Instead, the dragon/champion rampaged across the field leaving in his wake carnage unmatched. Not too long after that we stopped playing. It was broken, broken, broken.

We moved on to a collectible card game called Raw Deal. Great game, a lot of fun, but it suffered from power escalation until it reached a breaking point. Along the way, it suffered from some curious rules interpretations and decisions that were, well...illogical at best, downright stupid at worst. 

Finally, that game did a complete reset, basically a start over, but it was too late and within 3 sets it died. This side-trip will make sense in a little while.

Not too long ago, we started painting again. Since I had the Battle for Skull Pass set, I painted up the Dwarf and Goblin armies from it and we started goofing around, playing games here and there.

Quickly it began to appear that the "Herohammer" phase might be gone. No longer were characters game breakers. 

Well...okay, so in the second game, I had this to say:
"In close combat, Norri again slew a Spider Rider while taking no wounds yet again lost the battle to their superior numbers and Standard. Being unbreakable, unhittable, and unwoundable by the Spider Riders, he laughed it off, took a big drink from his hip flask, and settled in to deal more damage when his own turn arrived."

Other than the Unbreakable, unwoundable slayer, though, Characters were very balanced. They could do damage...but we also saw a Thane fall to a Goblin Boss, a Troll fall to Thunderers, an Unbreakable Slayer fall to the lowly Night Goblin archers, a pointless unit if I ever saw one.

The game made sense. TROOPS would be the key to the 7th edition of Warhammer. That was a good thing. Battles would be won or lost by maneuver, putting the proper troops in the proper places, and so forth rather than just by who tooled up their character the best.

We saw that early on when those who used skirmish screens to protect their close combat troops won. Those who put valuable troops alone and let them get shot up lost. Every time. Line troops and tactics were deciding the outcomes.

We moved on to new armies. The Wood Elf army showed up. Their characters are...well...not exactly awe-inspiring. They have a decent stat line but were still able to be wounded by line troops.

The Dark Elves showed up. Their Assassins caused mass fear but, to this point, have yet to be game-breaking. Actually, I have yet to see them even in a combat. In fact, the games I have seen them in were decided by the near-broken 2 million shot per turn Repeater Cross-bow/mass Repeater Bolt Thrower arrow lines of death. Of course, I also did not see anyone use skirmish lines against him and the result was arrow carnage of death.

The point remains, no hero was dominating games. Occasionally they would tip the balance of a battle but they were not determining games on their own. In fact, other than the unbreakable Slayer, any character who rumbled around on his own died.

But then the power escalation started. One of our guys decided to go with the Ogres. They were an army we had initially planned to not use, along with Bretonnia and Chaos as they were "hard" armies...tough to kill. But we had a change of heart and decided all the armies were more or less balanced, or so it seemed from the outside.

And so it has more or less proved. Actually, the Ogres have been a decided dissapointment. One of our big fears was that they would be like the Slayer; untouchable, unkillable for S3 units like the Dark Elf gun lines.  

Instead, they have had a surprisingly poor record despite Kev setting them up about as well as he can, moving them well...they are just A) massively overcosted and B) the WS of 3 is what makes them overcosted. Well, that and the fact they have no discernible saves since anything that wounds a T4 model obliterates heavy armor saves anyway.

Against the Dark Elf army the Ogres have suffered a Massacre of epic proportions and been on the wrong end of a Substantial Victory.

Surprisingly, it is the Vampire Counts and Dark Elf armies that have seemed overpowered. The Dark Elf army is the only one that has not lost a game (other than Warbands which don't count since the Warbands system blows mighty chunks of steaming orangutang warbles). The only game the Vampire Counts have lost was to the Dark Elf army...which brings us to the point.

In that game, line troops did...well...nothing. That was largely because the VC general wisely put Ethereal units out as a skirmish screen. As a result, all the damage had to be done by magic. So sorcery and Malus wiped out those ethereal and then rampaged through the skeletons he had left over. 

It was the first sign of a developing problem. Since I was not partof that game, I was not privy to what was going on.

The beat went on when a dragon rampaged over the Ogres.  Again, a hero was tooled up to be so strong it was untouchable and was able to almost single-handedly win via a massacre against one of the tougher armies we have.

Then last Saturday it was really brought home. I had Galrauch, the first dragon, and next to me was another dragon.

In the game, Galrauch took 2 wounds. One was when he Miscast. Bound to happen when you miscast FOUR times. One was when he failed his Leadership test and attacked himself.

He shrugged off a volley of 30 peasants where I think 28 of them hit. He did not even need to make a save. Meanwhile, he saw off a Grail Reliquae, a Trebuchet, 30 peasant bowmen, did something like 5 casualties in one combat, and in yet another he single-handed killed a Bret hero with no real danger to himself.

Hero hammer.

Next to me another dragon was rampaging back and forth killing ogres at will. 

Hero hammer.

Now, to be fair, there was some line troop action; my Chaos Knights slew  4 or 5 units, his Grail Knights and Knights Errant killed my Chaos Warriors who, along with my Chaos Knights, have been compared by one guy to being heroes themselves.

Basic, core line troops did...well...nothing. 

I don't know what they did in the game next to us. I did see Gnoblars win a combat. Bwoohahaha. Against a line unit. SO there is that. But otherwise, line units have been casualties. Mostly to heroes.

I do know both games were more or less decided by what ended up being massively overpowered heroes who could barely be wounded, much less harmed seriously. 

I actually felt somewhat bad about what Galrauch did. Liam is new to the game and simply had nothing capable of dealing with a monster with a stat line of 6s across the board (except LD which is 9). 

So I started thinking about it. What changed? Why did what was initially a pretty well-balanced game where heroes were a nice touch but units were superior become something where units are a nice touch but characters determine who wins?

I think I figured it out. 

The problem started when we started using Lord level characters. 

Suddenly, the characters no longer are vulnerable to line units. Not even to good line units. They can set out  on their own at will, safe from all harm and easily able to dispatch enough enemies to overcome starting combat resolutions scores of -5, -6 or more. 

Back to Raw Deal; I am wondering if going to the Lord level characters is the power escalation point that brings us back to broken? 

It is funny. When we talk, each of us seems to see the strong points in every one elses' army while primarily seeing the weak points of our own army.

Case in point;
I see my Chaos Knights and absolutely love them.  At the same time, I know they are scarily fragile. As one guy said about his dragon with mounted sorcerer on why he wasn't using it, "It was too may points to risk." Of course, once he started using it, he crushed his opponent but his point is well taken.

When I lost a combat with my Chaos Warriors, I gave up almost 1000 points between unit cost, attached heroes, banner being captured and him receiving a second bonus for capturing a banner. That can be very, very difficult to overcome. I gave up 40% of my starting points in that one unit.

I see the same problem with my Chaos Knights. A basic unit costs well over 200 points. I will start most combat resolutions behind by several points. If I roll poorly or they roll well, I am risking a lot of points. I cannot roll "average", I MUST do 4 - 5 casualties or more to have any chance of winning most combats. 

So far, I have been able to do so, and that is what everyone BUT me sees. I see the risk, they see what has been happening, which is a lot of fortuitous rolls.

By the same token, when I look at other armies, I see what they can do to me...I know that just one round of shooting that slips in 2 casualties can essentially remove my knights as a factor. I know that one well-placed cannon ball or one good Organ Fun volley can take out a good percentage of my army in just one phase. I have watched magic devastate me (though I have yet to devastate anyone with it. Magic so far has been a very, very miserable experience for me. I have taken a lot of damage and dealt very, very little in return.)

I have been trying to compensate for the "over powered" nature of the Warriors of Chaos by taking armies that are worse than what I want to take: I have only once used a screening unit (this past game when I put in the Warhounds) and even there, it was just because I planned to go get his archers with them. 

In other words,  am deliberately playing the army somewhat wrong. I don't use screens, I use my Knights like block infantry instead of as flanking units, and so forth. But I also see how fragile it is. I have gotten by with some very fortuitous close combat rolls and tactical mistakes by my opponents.

Example A) When Fullur put skinks in front of me, I was able to do a whopping 7 casualties in just 12 attacks while he did none in about 12  attacks. He should have hit me about 4 times and, if it was a Kroxigor that hit me, wounded with me having a 50% chance of wounding which I would then have about 50% chance of saving. So him NOT wounding me was not a huge shock (though it is pointing out a flaw in the Lizardman army design; they force you to put skinks in a unit that has to be in hand to hand to be effective. Skinks in close combat are better known as "casualties". )

By him giving me all 5 front line guys attacking to go with the 1 flanked guy, I was able to overcome what would have been a GUARANTEED break test for me. He had the flank charge, he outnumbered me, he had a standard, a 2 rank bonus: he had a +5 combat resolution score and I would have had only 4 attacks back. There is f course no guarantee I would have failed it...but not having to take the test was a break for me.

Example B) Liam flank charged me with Knights Errant, had a 3 rank bonus in front of me, outnumbered me. He started with a +5 to the combat. He had 4 guys hitting me, one a champ; 5 attacks, 1 -2 should hit, wound on 2+ thanks to his Lance, my save reduced to 50%...he had a good chance of killing a Knight. Instead I put a hurt on his peasants in front of me doing something like 9 casualties to him when I should have done about 6 or 7. He broke.

So I had slightly better results than I should average, he had slightly worse. Made all the difference. 

Well, that and never having to face his Grail Knights. That battle would probably come down to who got the charge since our stat lines are almost identical except I have T4 to his T3 and he has a Lance giving him S6 on the charge; we should hit each other 50% of the time, if he has the charge, he wounds 83% of the time to my 66% and with a -3 to my save, I save "only" 50% of the time while he is saving 66% of the time. Between the near-parity of our troops (if he does NOT get the charge I get a slight advantage as he then wounds only 50% of the time and I save 67% of the time) and the combat resolution bonus he gets, the battles between our Knight units will truly be titanic sights to behold. 

Anyway, the point is the combination of fortuitous dice rolls, better maneuvering and tactics has hidden my weaknesses. 

At the same time, my limited exposure to some armies has hidden their shortcomings from me.

And in all cases, the overwhelming devastation wreaked by all but invulnerable characters in all disproportion to their points cost kind of minimizes the point of tactics anyway. If all I have to do to keep my line troops out of danger is fly Superman up on a character to crush into helpless jelly any unit that threatens my beloved Knights then the game is broken.

This is only exacerbated by bizarre rulings such as FAQs saying Magic Resistance doesn't work against area effects spells, then saying in the White Dwarf magazine that it does (November 2008 issue). Does it or does it not?

Or how about the ruling that a cannon ball does no harm if it is flaming? I can see where the flaming part would be obliterated by something like a Phoenix Cloak...but you still got smashed by a cannon ball.

So the question is; how is the mix of overpowered heroes and imbalanced armies affecting your enjoyment of Warhammer?

What tweaks do we need to make? I have considered things such as taking no Lord level characters (and dismissed it; my hero level characters would then have a marked advantage as they are arguably better than my Wood Elf Lord-level characters, for example).

I have considered taking points deficits, but not knowing if I would be facing a Dragon means I don't dare do that myself and neither can anyone else.

So how do we keep Warhammer from becoming Hero Hammer? Let's be proactive on this one. thoughts? Opinions? Ideas?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chaos Versus the Brets, 2500 points.

(If you click on this picture, it will enlarge and you will see side by side my chaotic paint job on Galrauch next to the stellar, easy on they eyes paint job my brother Fixed Dice did on his Dark Elf dragon. In both games the Dragons would lend themselves to an argument the era of "Herohammer" is still upon us.)

Note: I neglected to take notes on this game, so it is almost entirely from memory. Skip down to the BOLD section if you just want to read about the game. Everything before that is fluff. 

Going in, I was not sure who I would be facing. I had finally finished gluing my dragon...sort of...and really, really, really wanted to play one. So despite my miserable, pathetic, humiliating, pointless, horrific history with magic, I put Galrauch in. (One wing would fall off during turn 5, which the observant will note in the pictures.)

Part of my Army Building philosophy is to generally not take units whose primary benefit is essentially self-counter-acting. Since a basic dragon with nearly identical stats is costing me 320 I decided to go a heavy magic army. So I put in 3 Level 2 Sorcerers. 2 I gave the Mark of Tzeentch and one I game the Mark of Nurgle. 

By the way, in the entire game, not once did I remember to use the +1 to cast that Tzeentch gives. That is despite highlighting that little factoid on my index unit cards. 

One of them got a Power Familiar so I would have 13 power dice and 7 Dispel dice. In addition, I gave one unit a Magic Standard, adding a Bound Spell. I SHOULD get some good magic off. 

Next, core units. Since I only have 20 Maurauders and 24 Chaos Warriors, my choices at this point were limited. I elected to go simple:

2 each 10 man units of Marauders with no upgrades, 40 points each. That is basically giving away 40 - 80 points since I have no intent of charging anybody with them. If I get matched up with a heavy shooting army, I will use them as a screen, just march them straight into the shooters and let them absorb the damage instead of someone I care about getting shot up. Cheap, expendable. Fair enough.

Then, to fill out my core units I put in 24 Chaos Warriors with Shield and Full Command. This would be my most expensive unit. However, with the Blasted Standard giving them a 5+ Ward verse shooting, a T of 4 and a save of 3+/2+, they SHOULD be pretty rugged. Ironically, I forgot to give them the Mark of Nurgle which I paid the points for. Sigh. Anyhow, 364 point unit. I planned to use them in the center of the field and flank with my favorite units...the Knights.

I took 2 units of Chaos Knights, each with Shields and Mark of Nurgle. One unit got the Banner of Wrath (the Bound Magic Missile) and the other with the Banner of Rage giving them Frenzy. 

Since I had  points left over, I used a unit I intended to never include, 10 Chaos Warhounds. I know their uses, but much like the Maurauders, they do not fit my play style. Also, by not taking them I would leave a nice hole in my army for talented opponents to exploit. 

Then I went and used the last points to give the Mark of Nurgle to each Marauder regminent and was done.

Well, normally we have 8 or 10 people with a nice mix of armies. This week, though, Fullur was out of town, Chad was injured, Pete had prior commitments, Space Monkey was motorcycle riding, Josh was "otherwise occupied", Cris was helping paint the church, and so forth. So we only had three of us; Kev, Fixed Dice, and myself. So we were going to play split armies; Kev's Ogres versus Fixed Dice's Dark Elves with me taking a couple of his units, then Kev's Ogres versus my Chaos. 

Fortunately, at the last minute, Liam showed up. We helped him upgrade (via proxies) to 2500 points.

None of us have played Bretonnians for almost 15 years so I was not real sure what to expect. But here is a shock:With classic "small number of model" armies Chaos, Bretonnia, and the Ogres on the field, the smallest number of models put in play? The Dark Elves. Ha! And the Brets had the over 40 models. As yuo can see, lots of proxies...but that is good because it means we got in a great game.

We had a very hilly field. There was a steep field in Liam's right flank, another hill in front of him, 2 hills in the center/right part of the field, a small village in my right flank, and a small forest between the steep hill and yet another steep hill in MY deployment zone. Pretty crowded field. 

I won the roll to see who would set up first. I wanted to see where he put his 30 bowmen so I had him put one on first. Hmm. Poor choice. He had like 17 units. I had I think 5 plus my Heroes.  So he could out wait me. 

Fortunately for me, this was his first game. We helped him with minor tweaks to his setup but in truth it was badly flawed. I am not really familiar with the Brets so only once the game started did I realize how badly. Then again, my setup was very, very weak in this game. 

He put Knight Errants in the gap in his left-center. I planted my Warhounds opposite them. He placed another Errant unit a few inches to the left (from his viewpoint) of it. I put a Chaos Marauder unit on my left flank behind the steep hill. My plan was to wait for my deployment zone to clear out, hide one Marauder unit behind the hill to control that table quarter, then move the other Marauder unit over to control the right table quarter while my Knights and Warriors advanced into his zone and ran rampage. 

Rules Error
He then placed a trebuchet on the hill in his right flank. As a War Machine, it should have been placed after all his regular units. I forgot about that until I was typing this up. And it had a huge effect. I did not know how big the template would be so I did not want some lucky Trebuchet shot taking out mass amounts of my troops. On the fly I changed my plan. I placed my Warriors out alone on my right flank. 

As a general rule I do not put ANY unit, no matter how strong it is, out on its own. We will see why in a while. 

One unit of Knights went behind the Warhounds, the other slightly off to their right.

Meanwhile, Liam had troops EVERYWHERE. Three units of Knights opposite my Warhounds (0ne with his General in it), 2 more Knight units on his left flank opposite my Chaos Warriors, one of them being Grail Knights with the Army Battle Standard, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 peasants/men at arms/peons EVERYWHERE as well as a Grail Reliquae on the hill next to his trebuchet.

He prayed for the Blessing of the Lady (Wise move) giving me the first turn.

Chaos Turn One
I marched the Warhounds straight forward 14 inches, advanced the Knights behind them 7" and the other Knights up on the hill. I walked the Warriors forward 4".

Why the Knights 7"? Because I am an idiot. I knew the Warhounds would get beat by his Knights  and overrun. I wanted the charge. But after I moved, I remembered he would follow 3d6 inches...meaning he would probably get the charge. In the old edition, I played the Brets and know the power of a Lance Formation charge with Lances. I did NOT want that to happen.

I flew Galrauch forward to get a look at his Trebuchet. It would be protected for a turn by the Reliquae, but no problem.

Rules Error:I forgot to take his Leadership test to see if he attacked himself. I would remember every other turn.

And now, time to unleash the fury of my magic. First I cast the bound spell. He let it go. D6 S4 hits. If you read the links up above, you probably already know what happened. I rolled a 1 for how many hits and a 2 to no damage. I then cast Pandemonium. He used some Mirror magic item that dispelled it and hit me at S6. I took a wound. Magic not too good so far. But then something strange, something unforeseen, something nigh on unbelievable happened. 

I cast Cloying Quagmire. Successfully. With irresistible force. On the unit with his General. He lost 2 or 3 guys. The most success I have ever had with magic. In fact, more success than I have had in all my other games combined. 

Fortunately, I then made up for it by Miscasting with Galrauch. On 3 dice. It was the one that let him cast a spell automatically. It was some Crow attack that would have hit my 24 Warriors and 2 Sorcerers so I took no chances, just used a Dispel Scroll.

I then thought I had missed the shooting phase so did not use Galrauch's breath attack. Ironically, this would be my only opportunity in the entire game to use it so I never once used any of his three breath attack options. Idiot.

Bretonnian Turn One
He declared charges on the warhounds with 3 units of Knights. I suddenly realized he would be almost certain to annihilate the Warhounds and with the overrun be getting multiple charges into my Knights. This would be very, very bad for me. So I chose flee as my reaction knowing they could use Galrauch's leadership of 9 to recover and even if not...they were 100 points. Who cares. 

This resulted in him failing the charges and being left within Charge range of my Knights. I wish you could hear how this sounds. "He he he". That is at least an evil chortle. Perhaps even an evil guffaw.

Everyone else shuffled around and moved forward except his War Machines on the hill. He was going to pass the Magic phase but we convinced him to use it. He had no line of sight so passed it the first time. Shooting.

His trebuchet looked at my mass of warriors. He initially said 48", then reconsidered. "34" he said. Measured. The template was about 1-1/2" short of my unit. A scatter roll could be devastating to me. A bunch of S5 and S10 hits could certainly due some damage. But...he rolled "Hit" on the scatter die. Whew! Disaster (temporarily) averted.

By the way, please note: there was no shooting from his 30 peasants. That indicates a set-up problem. When you have LARGE shooting units...get them in position to shoot. Especially low strength shooters. It takes them a lot of shots to be effective. 

Chaos Turn 2
First, Galrauch's test. Failed. Yep, the first one I remembered to do, he failed. Hit himself twice. Wounded himself once. Failed his Ward save. I already wounded myself.

Even worse, remember my awesome plan to use Galrauch's leadership to let the Warhounds recover? Well...I had flown him forward 20". He was about 30" from the Warhounds at this point. They now would rely on their own Leadership of 5. They rolled an 8. To run, they rolled a 17. Buh-bye now. 

For those keeping track, in this turn alone I did 100 points and a wound to myself. So far. Magic phase still ahead...

Time to do what Chaos does best. My Knights announce a charge against what turns out to be the Mounted Yeoman. My other Knights announce a charge on  his other Mounted Yeoman, leaving his General-led unit between them alone. 


Well, first off, I was unsure of the hitting power of my Knights against a unit I was unfamiliar with. Second, I wanted to make him take break tests. Third, I planned to flank charge with Galrauch and, when I broke the left wing of his army, Galrauch would get a flank charge on the General's unit.

Fortunately, Fixed Dice pointed out, "Isn't there a forest there? He has no line of sight." SO we avoided another rules error.

D'oh. True. I forgot about that. So I had no charge on them. SO I charged the Grail Reliquae on the hill.

First, break tests. His unit on my right flank held. His unit on the left flank...failed. Double 6s. I had enough movement to charge into the Men at Arms behind them. 

On the hill, his Grail Reliquae crew...failed. I had enough movement to charge into his Trebuchet.

Meanwhile, I knew I had erred in the first turn with my Warriors. Now they were too far to get the charge on his Grail Knights and not far enough to avoid being charged. I considered breaking my sorcerers off from the unit but then thought having them in to offer Challenges might turn the combat in my favor. Between them, mu unit champion, my rank bonus of 3, and outnumbering, I might win the combat.

On to the most effective phase ever, magic. Let's save time. Every. Single. Thing. Failed or Dispelled. Except, of course, for the requisite Miscast, this time on 2 dice. Think about that for a second...

Shooting: My Dragon was in Hand to Hand, no Breath.


Bwoohahaha. (Pure evil, that laugh.)
Rules Error:With Galrauch and two units of Knights in combat, I declared zero challenges. Oops.
Dragon wipes out Trebuchet crew. Well, not really, he just does 2, but the crew breaks and runs.Pursue down the hill. Don't catch them. Yeah, whatever. 

The first unit of Knights does about 5 casualties. He breaks, I pursue into the unit behind. The Men at Arms take I think 6 casualties. He started with a rank bonus of 3 and outnumbering and lost the combat. Badly. I pursue into another unit behind. Things look good. 

In one turn I have his Grail Reliquae, Trebuchet, and two units of mounted guys on the run. I get out of line of sight of his General-led unit.

Bretonnian Turn 2
Time to do what Grail Knights do best. Charge. Along with another unit. Into my Warriors. No problem.

Time to rally. Well, now he was out of range of Knights with all his peasants so they were testing on 6s and 8s. Every fleeing unit left the table. 

He also flank charged my Knights that were engaged with his Peasants with some more Yeoman or something after passing a fear test. He started moving his General-led unit towards the Chaos Warrior combat. He flew his Pegasus Knight behind the Knights he flank charged to get a rear charge next turn if necessary.

We started with that combat. He accepted both challenges. He then killed one Warrior with one unit of Knights and 3 more with the Grail Knights. 

I did not one wound back. Not in a challenge. Not with my Champion. None. Uh-oh.

Well, he had a rank bonus of 2, did 4 casualties to me, had not just a Standard but also the Army Standard Bearer with a Banner giving him plus one combat resolution. The math says I ran like a bunch of little girls and he overran me. Uh...remember how it seemed I was doing good? 

Trebuchets and Battle Reliquaes are cheap. So are Yeomen and peasants.

Chaos Warriors and Sorcerers are not. He just did almost 800 points to me. Plus the Warhounds were gone. At this point he was winning big, about 900-500 or so.

But wait, it was worse: apparently his Standard Bearer had an ability or something that meant my captured standard was worth not 100 but 200 points. I was doubled up.

The other combats went better for me. I did I think 8 more casualties in the combat where he had the flank charge to none for him. He had a rank bonus of 3, a flank charge which also gave him the banner plus since mine was invalidated, and outnumbering. I did 8 casualties. His flanking unit ran...and the peasants stood firm. What?

On the other side, I crushed his peasants and pursued them because I had Frenzy. He ran into Galrauch and died.

Chaos Turn 3
Galrauch passed his Leadership test. (He would pass for the rest of the game so I won't mention it again). 
Galrauch charged the back of that stubborn peasant unit. My Knights charged his peasant bowmen. (Did you notice they had yet to fire in the entire game?) They failed their Fear test and fled.

By now my Marauders were almost over to the right table quarter. However, I could see where his Grail Knights would kill them so I switched directions and started heading for the village. My other Marauders climbed the steep hill with my Nurgle Sorcerer climbing higher.

Magic was uneventful except yet another Mis-cast which let him cast some spell that meant I would not be able to move one unit of Knights the next turn. 

Close Combat was SWEET and stupid. My Knights, Galrauch, and the horses did 13 casualties to his peasants. The last 2 fled. 

Here is where it gets stupid. If Galrauch was an inch behind them, they would be destroyed when they ran into him. BUT since he was IN the combat and was the weaker unit size they were allowed to run past him. Huh?

Now, I did not want to pursue with my Knights even further from the center of the table. But I DID want Galrauch to go straight ahead which would take him (probably) into the rear of the General-led unit. But since the peasants went BEHIND him, he could only go further away. The Knights failed their Leadership test to not pursue...and could not catch the fleeing units. Galrauch passed.

Bretonnian Turn 3
His General and everyone else essentially moved over towards my right table quarter. I believe this was a mistake. It took his Grail Knights essentially out of the battle along with everyone else. Sure, I got no charges...but he had nobody in combat. His peasants did rally. They unleashed 30 arrows at the dragon. Like 20 of them, a ridiculously high number, hit. None of them, an even more ridiculously low number, wounded. 

Chaos Turn 4
Galrauch charged the peasant bowmen. Out of range of any Knight, they failed their Terror or Fear test and were done. My Knights that could move turned and headed towards his advancing/fleeing General led unit. My Marauders, just outside 8", were able to march which kept them out of his line of sight.

Magic: I actually got Quagmire off again, killing another Grail Knight. And for the fourth consecutive turn...I Miscast. *Sigh*

Bretonnian Turn 4
He circled the village trying to get in charge range of my Marauders. His Magic? He cast with Irresistible Force the "Unit can't move" spell.  Yeah, I had a 4th level and 3 2nd level sorcerers. He had 2 first level and dominated the magic phase.

Chaos Turn 5
I would not be able to avoid the charge so I reformed my Marauders to face the charge and moved my able-to-move Knights into position where after he overran the Marauders I would flank charge him. My immobile Knights were already in position to charge head on.

I flew Galrauch up close to the village so he could also get involved in the combat after my Marauders died.

Magic was exciting and awesome. I got off 11 hits at 2D6 strength. If I rolled an 11 or 12 his Grail Knights and Battle Standard bearer would be gone for good. Instead I rolled...snake eyes. And out of 11 hits did zero wounds. 

Magic blows mighty chunks for me. Even when I get hyper-powerful spells off with irresistible force...I do nothing.

Bretonnian Turn 5
He initially declared the charge. Then we convinced him it was a bad idea since he would probably get wiped out by my mighty counter-charge. 

He then tried the spell again and for the first time he failed a casting roll and I used The Black Tongue to make it a mis-cast, doing a wound to his sorcerer for a change.

Chaos Turn 6
I had no charges so I simply moved the Marauders out of his charge range and into that table quarter to contest it, moved Knights to his starting zones to win one quarter and contest the other. Galrauch charged his Grail Knight and Battle Standard Bearer. I declared a challenge (I remembered to do that in every combat except the first one), killed his Standard Bearer, the Grail Knight broke, I got my standard back, took his. 

Bretonnian Turn 6
He wasn't going to do anything but someone convinced him to use his Pegasus Knight for the first time in the game to charge my Nurgle Sorcerer.

I forgot I had A) the Steep Hill advantage and B) The Mark of Nurgle to make me harder to hit. He killed me. That 190 points would matter.

Who Wins?
He started out looking good. He killed:
Chaos Sorcerers worth 230, 205, and 190 points.
(625) points.
Warhounds worth 100 points.
Chaos Warriors worth 364 points
He lost the Banner Bonus since I took it back and had no Table Quarters. 

I don't know the point totals of what I killed but I controlled 2 table quarters, captured is Grail Knight and Battle Standard banners. Apparently there is some special rule that meant all the peasant banners I captured, like 6 of them, were not worth anything. But I did kill all but 1037 points of his so I killed approximately 1463 points of them, plus 200 for table quarters, + 100 apiece for the Grail Knight and Battle Standard banners for a total of 2156.

2156-1089 is a 1074 point difference, a solid victory for Chaos.

Game Roundup
It was Liam's first game so I considered playing soft and letting him win. However, to his credit, before the game he said something along the lines of "Don't go soft on me". So I went about 3/4 speed. We did help him with a couple of set-up errors, but not all of them.

He should have had his archers up front. He should have used his Men at Arms and other low-point units as screens to set himself up to get the charges. He should have not hidden all his power units in the far corner for almost half the game. When he got stuck circling the village for 3 turns, it essentially decided the game in my favor. Had they been involved they might have done enough damage to, if not outright win it for him, at least make it a draw.

Also, while I understand his rationale in moving the Army Standard bearer with the Grail Knights, it came back to haunt him when the combo of General and Army Standard Bearer out of range meant he had one shot to save his fleeing Reliquae/Trebuchet/Bowmen/Yoemen with low Leaderships. If he could re-roll at least the 8 leadership guys, they might have stayed around. A Banner on the flank doesn't help much when your points are in the middle.

When he had the points advantage, he did not use it. Instead, he dispersed his forces while I was able to concentrate mine. The peasants/Yeomen/Knights Errant are support troops he used as frontline troops instead of support troops. His frontline troops did awesome when they were stuck in combat but the game was lost for him in the Maneuver phase.

By contrast, I was able to focus 2 units of Knights and my Dragon on his support troops and ran wild on them, destroying them left and right. I lost troops because of my initial set-up but overcame that with superior maneuver and keeping my power troops where they could do damage. 

If I had it to do over again, I would put the Warriors in the center like I initially planned, the Knights to the side to flank charge anyone brave enough to go into battle against my Warriors. I would let the Trebuchet do what it would for one turn before my Dragon flew into it in turn 2. I would then be in position to Rear charge the melee in the middle of the table. 

We both made mistakes but his were more costly.

I will say, after he left, Space Monkey, Fixed Dice, Kev, Cris and I were talking about how impressed we were that he recognized the things he had done wrong and was already talking about how to fix them; fewer peasants, more Knights, better set-up, keeping the power together, etc. 

He is young, it was his first game, and he did very, very well to keep the game as close as it was. It was a very fun game and I look forward to meeting him in the campaigns. I foresee some epic Brettonian-Chaos games with mighty clashes of Grail Knights and Chaos Knights with legendary challenges between kitted-out Bret Heroes and Chaos Exalted Heroes. I am drooling over those forthcoming encounters as I type this.

I also look forward to building better armies. You know...those who don't waste points on magic? I mean, sure, I did kill 3 or 4 Grail Knights with it. But was that really worth 296 points for Galrauch* and 625 points to support him?No, it did nowhere near 1000 points. In fact, as I pointed out above, 2 Level 1 wizardesses completely owned the magic phase. Their ability to keep my Knights from moving at key points cost me a couple hundred points. 

So I will use more Chaos Lords and Exalted Heroes to own the close combat phase. Probably. I did just buy Sigvald. 

* Galrauch costs 616. But a regular dragon with the same stat line except I3 instead of 6 the only difference in stats that matter is 320. So I basically paid the rest for Magic. Well, okay, leadership if he is the army general. But really for the magic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Campaign Rules Draft 3.0

Turn Sequence
1) Diplomacy
  You may send up to three messages to Opponents (or Allies) whose locations you know. These messages are sent through the GM. It takes 1 turn per 2 spaces between message point of origin. Agreements are not binding.

2) Write Orders
   You must write an order for each War Banner. Possible orders are "Hold Position" or "Move to adjacent territory" (territory must be specified), "Form new War Banner" or "Combine War Banners" (if 2 or more are in the same location).

3) Battle
 The GM will inform you who you will be facing on the day of the battle (though not the size of their force). Example:
Darth Weasel moves War Banner 3 into Sicily in the same turn that Josh moves his 2nd War Banner into Sicily. The GM tells Darth Weasel and Josh they will be facing each other at the next game session. Any opposed rolls will be made in the presence of the GM.

4) Maintenance
   Roll to see if casualties have recovered, allocate any points gained or dissolve units if you no longer can support sufficient points. Update your personal map and Campaign Log.

The goal is to control 50%+1 of the available supply centers from the game map. Starting locations will be determined by the Map General, a neutral third party. He will assign each supply center a number, and then roll a die for each player. Only the player will know where their starting location is.

That location will be the player's capitol. It generates 5000 points of troops.* All other supply centers generate 2500 points of troops.Note that if your Capitol is ever captured you can no longer generate new troops, all your armies receive a -2 to Leadership which cannot be increased in any way, even if they are normally Stubborn. Armies with their capitol captured can never have a Leadership higher than 7 by any means. In addition, the Capitol has a castle which can be used whenever the Capitol is attacked. 

Once your Capitol is chosen, roll three times on the Territory Chart for extras it produces. One roll may be re-rolled if desired.

To control a supply centers, 500 points of troops must stay in that location. Note that the points generated are then considered "in use" as long as the troops it generated are alive. They do not generate points each turn but rather are used to maintain the troops out in the field.

All non-Supply Center spaces generate 1250 points of troops in that location. To control a non-supply center requires keeping 250 points of troops in that location. After 4 consecutive turns, the territory is considered "pacified" and you no longer need to maintain a garrison to keep receiving points. However, each turn the Map General will roll to see if there has been a rebellion. There is a base 10% chance with 5% added for each turn you do not have a garrison with a max 25% chance.

Armies can move one space per turn through friendly territories. If it is just a replacement Cavalry Unit, it can move 2 spaces per turn. Solitary Heroes may move three spaces. Enemy Armies moving into the same space or past each other will end up fighting a battle. (All non-friendly spaces reduce movement to one space per turn.)

The battle will be fought using whatever points value of army is moving into the space. As a result, the battles will not always be between even points values of armies. 

On the day of the battle, make an opposed roll. The higher roll may choose battle type.

1) Pitched Battle
   Length:6 turns, normal battle.

2) Secret Dispositions
    Length:6 turns. Special:Set-up is first done on map without seeing where enemy has set up.
    Map is made of battlefield. If neither army has scouts, they get map only of their deployment zone. Any army that has scouts receives a  map of entire field. Dispositions are placed on the map and then revealed simultaneously. Then battle is fought as normal.

3) Meeting Engagement
   Length:Varies. Once last unit has entered battlefield, 6 turns.
    Prior to the game, each player lists the units in their army in marching order, units at the top being in front of the column and units at the bottom of the list being the back of the column. War machines, chariots, steam tanks, etc. cannot be first on the list. All characters are listed as one entry. Scouts must be placed first.

Units enter the field in from the edge of their deployment zone in the order listed on the card. They can make a march move on the first turn. The deployment zone extends 12" in to table.
Once the last unit enters the field, the game lasts 6 turns from that point.

4) Surprise Attack
    Length:6 turns
    Standard deployment with following exceptions; First, Scouts cannot use their special rule. Second, first army to complete deployment gets a free move; every time opponent places a unit after the first army completes deploying their units, the first army may move a deployed unit 4" further onto battlefield. Units that normally move less than 3" may also move 4" but units who typically move further are limited to 4". This movement can be repeated with either the same or other units each time the opponent makes a deployment after the first player has completed set-up.

5) Flank Attack
 Length:6 Turns
  Scenery: No scenery placed within 12" of short sides of table edge except a river may run off the table edge. 
 Deployment: One army is deployed as normal. The other army is divided into three approximately even forces. One is deployed as normal. Flanking units are placed on flanking zones on turn 3, up to 4" onto table edge. 

If one army is moving and the other one isn't, the stationary army is considered to be the flanking army. If both armies are moving and one has Scouts but the other doesn't, the army with Scouts is considered the Flanking army. In all other cases, the player who won the opposed roll is the flanking army.

6) Break Through
   Length:6 turns
  Setup: Defender sets up entire army first. Army attempting to break through sets up second. Special deployment troops can deploy as normal once all other deployments have taken place. 
If the army attempting to break through wins outright if he gets 3 units of 5+ models off board through opponent's deployment zone unbroken. If that doesn't happen, standard victory conditions apply.

7) Treasure Hunt
 Length:6 Turns
 To determine who reaches the treasure first, secretly record a number between 2 and 11. The player who writes the higher speed automatically reaches the treasure first and captures it. If they reach it at the same time (both write the same number), roll a dice to see who reaches it first.

Roll 2d6 for each unit. If the score is greater than the march speed, the unit arrives safely. If it is equal to or less than the march speed, they got lost and cannot participate in the battle. Once stragglers have been determined, check difference in march speeds.

0 - 1: Deploy as for Meeting Engagement. Army that did not get the Treasure takes the first turn.
2 - 3: Deploy as for Pitched battle with army with treasure taking first deployment turn and army without the treasure taking the first turn.
4+ Army with treasure thought they were shook off slower army and is marching on with the treasure.  Army with treasure deploys entire army in column, then opponent deploys to ambush them and takes the first turn.

Special Treasure Rules: General carries the treasure (Use the Doom Wagon to illustrate the treasure). It always moves with the General. He can move only at his normal move rate, no marching or flying allowed. 
Normal victory points except no points for occupied table quarters; side which ends game in possession of the Treasure has victory points multiplied by 2.
Note: This territory subsequently adds the "Treasure Hoard" result in addition to its normal Characteristics.

8) Ambush
 Length:6 Turns
Scenery: As normal except a 12" clear path extends on right side of the defenders' side of the field. 

Deployment: Ambushed army is deployed along the clear path, up to 12"  from all three edges. He deploys his entire army first. Units must be columns no more than 3 models wide unless this would not allow them to legally deploy in which case they can add 1 model.  They are heading left to right across the board (or vice versa). 
Once the ambushed player has finished deploying the ambusher sets up no closer than 18" to defender's set-up area and no closer to 12" from edges. No special deployments for either side.

Victory per points as normal except no points for controlling table quarters.
Player who won opposed roll is the Ambushing army.

Modifications to rolls: 
1) Smaller armies get a cumulative+1 to their roll for each  full 500 points they are smaller than the opponents army. (This is to reflect the better mobility and flexibility). Example: 1250 points of Wood Elfs move into a territory at the same time as 2575 points of Dark Elfs. Since they are  1325 points smaller, the Wood Elf army receives a +2 to their roll.

2) A Scout unit adds +1 to the roll. (Note both armies may have Scout units in which case this bonus will off-set.) Not cumulative.

3) Points may be used on scouting instead of troops. If that is done, +1 to the roll per 100 points.

After a Battle
After the battle, the winner does the following: Roll d6 for each non-hero casualty. On 1, they were actually killed.  On a 2-3 they roll again: 1-2, miss one battle. 3-4, miss 2 battles. 5-6, miss 3 battles. On a 4-6 on the initial roll, the models were simply wounded and recover in time for the next game turn.

If it is a hero or Large Monster, roll D6. On a 1, the hero is killed outright. On a 6 the wound was minor. Any other roll, roll on the Warbands injury table.

If it is a  War Machine, roll again. On a 1, the machine is too badly damaged and is considered permanently destroyed. On a 2-4 roll again: 1-2, miss one battle, 3-4 miss two battles, 5-6 miss three battles. On a 5-6 on the initial roll the damage is minor and the machine is ready for the next battle.

If you lose the battle, still roll d6.

For non-heroes and War Machines,  1-4: the casualty is permanent. 5, the unit rolls on the same table as above for how many battles they miss. On a 6, they rejoin the army in time for the next battle.

Heroes: 1-3, killed outright. 4-5, roll on the table as above for how many battles they miss. On a 6, he rejoins the army in time for the next battle.

Bonuses (from Warbands book)
Units which capture an enemy standard become elite. 1 time per game they may re-roll all their to-hit dice. If they gain a second elite status, they can do this twice per game and so forth to a maximum of 3 times per game. If the unit is ever broken or reduced to less than half strength, they lose all bonuses.

Characters who are with a unit that captures a standard or who kill enemy standard bearer in hand-to-hand combat or who kill an equal or greater character in hand to hand combat roll d6 and gain the noted ability:

1) Elite once per game may re-roll all to hit dice
2) Leader: Add +1 to any Leadership test once per game, must be declared before rolling the dice.
3) Attack: Once per game may add 1 attack to profile, must be declared before dice are rolled.
4) Strength: As above, except strength.
5) Toughness: As above, except Toughness.
6) Choose any of the above

Generals who win the game  and survive roll d6 and gain the following benefit for the ensuing battle.

1) Beloved Commander: Units within 12" add +1 to Combat Results until a combat within 12" is lost.
2) Leadership: Re-roll any one Leadership Test
3) Mad Dog General: General adds +1 to his to-hit rolls until he is wounded or flees.
4) Inspiring Standard: roll d6. Army Standard adds this to their standard range for duration of battle.
5) Famous General: One time per game, a leadership test within 12" is automatically passed.
6) Victorious troops: Once per battle add +1 to combat result, must be declared prior to combat.

Any time one or more armies move into a formerly unoccupied territory, they will also encounter a random army. This army is determined randomly and who plays it is determined randomly.

Size: 1-2 = 500 point army
         3-4 = 1000 point army
         5-6 = 1500 point army

Example: Drew's Wood Elves move into a formerly unoccupied territory. Kenneth rolls d6; he scores a 4 so Drew will face a 1000 point army. Kenneth, Rick, Phillip and Josh then roll d6. Josh scores highest so he will play the army. He then rolls d6, eliminating the goblins since that is who he normally plays.
1-2 he will play Dark Elves (Kenneth's normal army)
3-4 He will play Dwarfs (Rick's Normal Army)
5-6 He will Play Lizardmen (Phillip's normal army)

If two or more players move into the territory, roll as above, removing the additional armies. In that case, the extra army arrives on a random field edge: On turn 1 they arrive on a roll of 5+. On turn 2 they arrive on 4+. Turn 3 they arrive on 3+ Turn 4 they arrive on 3+ and turn 5 they arrive automatically. They may march, declare charges, or move normally. 

If the extra army wins the battle, they are considered to have defended the territory and all invaders must retreat. Otherwise, the surviving extra army fades away and is not a factor again.

You begin the game with 5000 points ( as provided by your Capitol). You must make at least 2 War Banners. These War Banners must follow your normal Army Restrictions; I.E., you must have the normal number of core units, are limited in number of Hero/Lord characters, Special Units, Rare Units, etc.

You may make more than 2 War Banners. In fact, you may make as many War Banners as you wish. However, at least one War Banner must be led by a non-Special Lord Level Character who will act as your King. If he is ever killed, all your units receive a permanent -1 to their Leadership. 

All other War Banners must be led by a Hero or Lord level character. These may be Special characters if desired.When first formed War Banners must follow accepted rules for Army Composition.It may be that further battles, Territory acquisitions and so forth will later alter it to violate the rules found in the appropriate army book. This is acceptable. It is only when War Banners are first formed that they must follow correct composition.

War Banners can be created at the beginning of any turn so long as the new War Banner meets all the requirements for your Army List.

Magic Items
Note that Magic Items are unique and you cannot take more than one of any item except as noted in your book. For example, the Hail of Doom arrow in the Wood Elf army can only be taken once for the entire army even if you have 10 War Banners. If an item is lost in a battle then it can be taken again.

Other than your starting army, Magic Items can only be taken if you conquer a territory that allows that option.

Alliances are allowed and even encouraged.  Two players may win the game by taking a combined 2/3 of the available Supply Centers. 

* In the "Small Army" campaign, the Capitol will generate 500 points of troops and all others will generate 250 points. Additionally, non-supply center locations will provide 100 points of troops.

Each player will have their own map and is encouraged to maintain a Campaign Log: A notebook keeping track of War Banner compositions, territories owned, Alliances, and any other information that they believe needful or interesting. You are also encouraged to name the War Banners. It can be as simple as "Army of the Potomac" and "Army of the Trans-Mississippi" if you are a Civil War buff to "The Legions of Tiglath-Pilesar" if you are a history buff to "The Mad Dog Killers of All" if you like more colorful names. I, by the way, lay claim to the "Legions of Tiglath-Pilesar" because I think it is funny.