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 myself...no 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 move...one 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 tests...is 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.
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.