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.


John said...

Nice write up mate - and its good to see someone using Bretonnians they dont get enough of a go in my book.

Liam said...

Yea that was a pretty good game. Now that I think about it I forgot that I had halberds on my peasants and other special and weapon based rules on my guys. Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully we can do a few warband games before the next official game.

Darth Weasel said...

Yes indeed, things like the extra S make a world of difference. Instead of wounding on a 5+, or 33% of the time, you wound on 4+ or 50% of the time, plus it is a -1 to armor. So you have a vastly improved chance of doing damage. Little things like that add up in a hurry and over the course of a few games will make the difference between victory and defeat a few times.

As for Warbands, it was very unpopular. But perhaps some small point games would be good. 500 - 750 type stuff.