I knew going in that Liam is pretty new to the game but, from what I have seen, a fast learner. So I tried to build an army that would be fun for me to play, have a chance to win, but hopefully draw or lose by Marginal Victory.
I set my goals early;
1) Win a Challenge to roll on the Eye table
2) Get a charge with my Chaos Knights
3) Get some magic off
4) lose by Marginal Victory or achieve a draw.
I went with another unusual army for me. My well-known despising of Marauders is particularly hilarious in light of my taking a unit of 20 of them, all that I have...and in an even bigger departure from my typical army building, I used some left-over points to give them a standard bearer and musician. No champion, 2 points short of having enough.
The idea was for them to join Wulfric and go after the field Trebuchet I expected to see. Their entire purpose was to provide a +4 static combat resolution. Knowing I will pretty much always hit on a 4 and wound on at best a 4, I know the odds of me doing more than 1 wound per turn (assuming I go 5 wide to get the 3 rank bonus and include Wulfrik in the front rank, displacing a peon:I will thus have 4 attacks if I charge, I have WS4 which the only unit I have ever seen them have a better WS than is the Skinks...so as a general rule, they hit on 4s. With S3, facing T3 again, I need 4s. So if the opponent has no save, my 4 attacks figure to average one wound per turn in the long run. I am not going to count on them doing any damage since I have yet to run into a unit that has no save.
I also took an Exalted Hero with the Battle Standard and Banner of the gods. It makes him cause Terror and, more importantly, allows units within 6" of him to test as if Stubborn. Intending to more or less Castle and let my Chaos Warriors absorb the charge, figuring to have two shots to not break at 8-, I should break just about 11% of the time. That should handle anything but complete obliteration of my "anvil" units...2 12 man Chaos Warrior blocks with full commands. One I gave the Banner of Wrath, a Magic Missile I forgot all 6 turns, and the other the War Banner to give them +1 combat resolution which I promptly forgot in the one combat they were involved in. Well-spent points, those banners....
I took one unit of Chaos Knights with full command and Banner of Rage to give them Frenzy.
That left me about 550 points and no way to deal with flying death machines. I wanted to put in a Dragon Ogre Shaggoth, a couple of Chaos Spawn and my Chaos Prince. The Prince was vital. I had the model, it looks awesome, he flies, and, being stubborn, should be able to handle any monster for at least a turn or two.
Then I randomly decided to make him a Sorcerer of Tzeentch. I ramped him up to Level 4, gave him the mark, and there was 535 points. No room for the Shaggoth or Spawn. Since I was only putting the spawn in since I think they are sub-par, going with Magic which, as we all know, has hurt me far more than helped me, meant I would still be going sub-par and by not taking the Shaggoth, which I still believe will be an excellent troop choice, it gave me a small, compact, fragile army that could do some real damage.
Having the Chaos Warriors and just 5 Knights meant I would have a slow-moving army. How the field looked would make a huge difference.
We ended up with a tower and river blocking one edge, a village on the other, and another tower close to the village. The center of the field would be wide open. He won the roll for choosing side and took the more open side which meant I would have a very crowded deployment zone. He then won the roll to see who would set up first.
I put my first unit of Chaos Warriors, the ones with the Banner of Wrath, on my left flank well forward in my deployment zone. I anchored their left flank against the village. He placed his Men at Arms (Fast Cavalry) in a screening formation at the front of his zone. I placed my other unit of Warriors with their right flank anchored on the tower on my right flank. He dropped Knights of the Realm on what would be my left flank behind the screen. I put my Knights slightly behind the rows of Warriors and in the center. I should be able to lure him in, use by BSB (Battle Standard Bearer) to make my anvils stubborn and use my Knights to flank him once he was engaged. He then placed his Grail Knights (GK) in the center of his army. I put my BSB in the Knights and the Prince behind my left-flank warriors. He placed another Knights of the Realm (KOR) on in the formation behind the screen and then his Pegasus knights and his general on Griffin on my extreme left flank.
We rolled for going first but still gave him the Blessing. Oops. Should have been auto-my turn. Oh well, no harm done.
I actually won the roll and debated for a few moments. I could already see from his army composition and deployment that he has improved by leaps and bounds. That means if I let him get the charge with his GK on my Chaos Knights, I would never get to attack back and would lose by massacre. So I wanted him to advance. I gave him first turn.
Brettonian Turn 1
He flew his Pegasus Knights and Griffin-riding general up my left flank. Nothing else moved. No shooting, no magic.
Chaos Turn 1
Uh-oh. That means I will have him flying up my backside or flank if I advance. On the bright side, I rolled a "6" and Wulfrik arrived with his Marauders. I brought him in behind the General (who was his "victim" per Hunter of Men), turned my Warriors and Knights and moved them back to prevent the rear or flank charge. Then I flew my Prince on top of my left-flank tower. Time to open up a can of Magic. Cast Infernal Gateway, arguably the most powerful spell in the game (though seeing what Fullur did next to me with whatever he was using...Ruination of Cities maybe? I might argue that one is far and away THE MOST POWERFUL SPELL IN THE GAME HANDS DOWN, its saving grace being two-fold:ridiculous casting cost and belonging only to one special character).
I cast it at his General. Really did not want that monster flying into my units. Did 5 hits at S9. Bwooohahaha, some good stuff happening here! 2 hits were assigned to the griffin and 3 to the General. General then used his 2+ Ward Save and re-roll failed Armor Saves combo to save all 3 of them. Rules Error. We later discovered that Ward Save was a 1-use only so it is possible had he used the 5+ Ward from the Blessing I might have done a wound or two. As it was, knowing his General had a 2+ Ward save, it really removed any interest I had in attacking his General since he was the definition of effectively unkillable. Why waste resources on something you cannot hurt?
On the bright side, the two assigned to the Griffin needed just 2s to wound...and I promptly rolled a 1. On the brighter side, he failed his 5+ Ward save so I did a wound to the Griffin. I was actually happy with that. He then dispelled my Flickering Fire.
Brettonian Turn 2
He now flew his Flying Circus of 5 Pegasus Knights and (separate) his General to the back center of my deployment zone. Here is where he made his biggest mistake of the game. He again did not move his other units. Even if he gave me the charge, the best I could do would be hit his Men at Arms which would, even if they broke, mean I then charged his GK and KOR units. Since I could not start fighting them until the following turn, that would mean he could rear-charge me with his Terror causing Griffon. Not a place I want my Knights to be: outnumbered by units with a ++8 combat resolution with his un-touchable General and Griffin attacking before I could attack his GK. Fortunately, he did not move them forward.
Chaos Turn 2
I turned my C-Warriors and Knights and moved them towards his Flying Circus, started rolling my Marauders around the tower to prepare to flank charge his castle whenever they started to move.
I then Mis-Cast with Infernal Gateway. Playing error:I took the rather expensive but Powerful Chaos Gift Tendrils of Tzeentch which allows me to re-roll any one die which, per the description, can prevent a mis-cast. I should have picked up one of the 2 "1s" I rolled and had a 5 in 6 chance of casting the spell successfully. Fortunately, I rolled a 5 and the only harm was he could instantly cast a spell automatically. He had no spell casters. No real damage done.
Brettonian Turn 3
One turn too late, he began slowly advancing. He moved his flying circus to my far left flank, out of my charge arc.
Chaos Turn 3
This was becoming a battle of maneuver rather than combat. First huge mistake would probably win or lose it. I flew my Prince to the top of the left tower so I could charge his Flying Circus, moved my Warriors and Knights to support each other and protect their flanks.
Infernal Gateway on the Grail Knights. Something like 7 hits with S 5 or 6. Hey, magic might be pretty good! He needed to save 5. 2 he saved with Armor save. No problem, 3 shots only needing to get past his 5+ Ward Save and I would remove his Rank Bonus if even one fell. Problem is...he rolled 2 5s and a 6. No damage. Grr. Stupid magic.
Brettonian Turn 4
His General flew to the left flank behind the tower which would provide me an interesting choice. His castle formation did not move but for the first time in the game had range. He fired with his Men at Arms and shot down a Chaos Warrior. Stupid rolling 1s to save. Agh. By the way...this was the first casualty of the game. Yeah, I did one wound to the Griffin, but this was the first death. In turn 4. Hmm.
Chaos Turn 4
If his General did not have that stupid 2+ Ward Save, I would charge him with my Prince and Wulfrik would be on him next turn (assuming I could survive a round and pass my LD test). But knowing I had no chance to wound him, that seemed pointless.
So I moved my Marauders forward thinking I would be out of L.O.S. of his General and other units.
Also, I wanted to play well but not great. So I announced, "I am going to deliberately make a mistake here." I then announced a charge on his Men at Arms with my Prince. That would give him the flank charge if his troops miraculously held or if I rolled poorly to pursue or if he fled. I debated charging the KOR since I would only start at a -2 or -3, but I did not think I could kill 3+ KOR.
Being Fast Cavalry he elected to flee but rolled poorly and I caught him and destroyed him. Since they are peasants, they caused none of the tests I thought they would force his KOR to take. Oops.
Well, I had a choice; keep targeting the Grail Knights or try to reduce the force I was about to get hit with since two units of KOR had line of sight and probably charge arcs. So I cast Infernal Gateway at the closest KOR. Got a whopping 9 hits at S6. And I had one of those rolls you dream about...no 1s! Yes! Well, 2 of his 9 saved, then the Ward Save let 4 more save (yep, 50% saved needing 5s. Good times.) Still, I killed 3! The most damage I have accomplished with Magic. I was pretty happy with that, though not as happy as I would have been had he failed hi break test. As usual, he dispelled my Flickering Fire.
Brettonian Turn 5
Time to do what they do best. Charge! General charges the Marauders..being a Large Target he probably had L.O.S. I also let him use the Pegasus Knights (which were on the far side of the tower) to charge. I did not think they had LOS but I think it made the game more fun for him. Also, I pretty much figured my Marauders would be exiting soon anyway, why not make it spectacular?
His General accepted Wulfrik's Challenge. Uh...yay? I would be facing a guy re-rolling 2+ Ward Saves.
Rules Error: Wulfrik was not legal to offer or accept a challenge. He was not in base to base contact with any enemy. *sigh* And it would matter.
He also used the 2 KOR to charge my Prince.
Wulfrik took one wound and in return did 3 wounds to the Griffin, killing it. (oops, he should not have been FIGHTING the Griffin....). 5 Marauders also died. Somehow, some way, I passed my break test.
Meanwhile, the Prince declared a challenge and the KOR champ accepted it. He was unable to hit the Prince who killed him in return. Yes, a kill in a challenge! Oh, wait...unit champ, no roll on the worthless Eye table. Being stubborn, I passed my test.
Chaos Turn 5
I moved into position to charge his Pegasus Knights with my Warriors and Knights on the left flank and my Warriors up to support the Prince on the right flank.
Infernal Gateway to the Grail Knights. Another mis-cast. This time I remembered the Tendrils and changed it to a pass. Actually killed 3 and another when Flickering Fire passed! Awesome. Far and away my best magic game. And it was doing some damage, but nothing game-breaking. Sweet.
Prince struck another champion in a challenge, wounded 4 times and, needing 5+ to save...he saved all 4. Whatever. In return he wounded me once. Needing a 4+ to save...I took a wound. Time to add injury to insult...my Prince rolled a 10. He broke. He would be pursued by 2 units rolling 3d6. I rolled a rather pedestrian 8. His unit on my left rolled...a 6. Safe. His unit on my right rolled...an 11. Oh, smurf. Wait! He runs into my Chaos Warriors! My Prince lives!
On the other flank, Wulfrik can't get through the Ward Save (and can barely even get TO the Ward Save, wounding just once), Marauders die in droves, flee, chased down, wiped out. I said it after the first game; despite his great stat line, Wulfrik is not all that good. I stand by it. Then again...had we not been facing a stronger-than-reality Ward Save, he might have done better. Or had help in the form of the Prince. So maybe he is just having a rough patch, kind of like Dragon Ogre Shaggoths, Wardancers, and magic up until this game.
Brettonian Turn 6
Charge! His Grail Knights charge my Chaos Warriors. His General and Pegasus Knights had no LOS so pretty much did nothing except seize a table quarter. His KOR had to choose between charging my fleeing Prince, my Chaos Knights, or flank charging the Chaos Warriors. If they were not stubborn due to my BSB the Warriors might have been the right choice...but I suspect he should have charged my Prince. I only had a 2 or 3" lead on him, about 10-14" from the table edge...he was worth more than the Chaos Warriors. But that is from my standpoint so who knows what he should have done. I know I would have charged the Prince....but that is just me.
He did real well in the combat, killing 6 Warriors leaving me just 5. Being Stubborn did not help as much as the BSB being there close by to let them re-roll the failed Break test. They stood firm.
On the other flank, my Warriors did much better; they did a casualty in the challenge without taking one in return. He had a rank bonus of 2, I. had rank bonus of 1. He had a standard as did I. I outnumbered him and had +1 from the War Banner. I broke his KOR.
What? Finally, Warriors who performed as expected! They usually just die. I seldom do wounds with "the best infantry in the game". In fact, this game was the first one in quite some time where they did a casualty and the first one in even longer since they did not break. Against the Dark Elf army they ran in one turn, against the Brets last game they ran in one turn...and both times I started with Rank Bonus of 3, a Battle Standard and musician. This time I started with a rank bonus of just 1. How ironic.
The only other close combat I have ever won in a real game (I don't count Warbands) with Chaos Warriors was one I should have auto-lost but my opponent made a mistake. He had the combat won automatically with a flank charge but accidentally front charged me with casualties...err, Skinks and I did so many casualties to them that I won a combat he would have won had he simply not entered the skinks.
But this was a legitimate combat win against charging Knights of the Realm. I am extremely happy about that. I have been quite unimpressed with them up to this point. But that was impressive.
Chaos Turn 6
The Knights announced a flank charge on his KOR that were flank-charging my Chaos Warriors. My Prince....passed his test! He would live!
His KOR failed their Terror test. Sadly, that was about the worst outcome for me. I needed them there for my charge. I would more than likely kill several of them with my charge and Frenzied bundle of attacks. That would give me a long-shot chance to win the combat and break his Grail Knights. Obviously no guarantee, but that was my best chance.
I cast Infernal Gateway at his Pegasus Knights but could do no damage. His Grail Knights and Battle Standard bearer, bereft of their S6 charge, hampered by the Mark of Nurgle, struggled to hit my Warriors and those they hit saved. I could not wound him back except for one Knight Errant. He won the combat, I passed my Break test, game over. Time to total the points.
Win or Lose?
Wulfrik is worth 185 points. The Marauders were worth 92 points. He did over half damage to my Stubborn Warrior unit for another 149. He had no table Quarters.
He scored just 426 points, though actually, in a game of Maneuver, that is not bad. The game really only lasted 2 turns as the first 4 turns were spent battling for position.
Meanwhile, I killed his Griffon for 200 points. I killed his Men at Arms for 135 points. I killed a unit of Knights of the Realm for 193 points. I also owned 2 table quarters. I did not even do half damage to any other unit.
728 points. I won by 302 points, in a 2000 point game a Marginal Victory. Take away the table quarters and it would have been a draw.
So what happened? Several key moments decided this game. The first one was his not moving his formation forward in turn 2 to put me in a ticklish predicament where no matter what I would be facing a charge from the rear by Pegasus Knights and a Griffon-riding General or by 2 or 3 units of Knights of the Realm and Grail Knights.
Second, not knowing the Ward Save only worked once seriously altered the game. I would have scored a couple wounds with the Infernal Gateway, known I could actually hurt him, attacked his General with my Prince which most likely would have allowed me to charge his General with my Marauders and Wulfrik.
With a Static Combat Resolution of +3 for rank, 1 for outnumbering, 1 for standard, I am starting ahead by 5. If Griffons have flanks and rear, add +1 or 2 to that. I might have broken his General and killed him, freeing up Wulfric and my own Prince to go after some of his fringe KOR units and frankly I am not worried about the skirmishing Pegasus Knights. I would let them alone get the charge on me so it would have been a much more combat-oriented game.
At the same time, illegally allowing Wulfric to fight his Griffin also had a serious impact. If he is still mobile thanks to his Griffin then his General could cause me a lot of issues. Not to mention saving him 200 points...which again puts us right back to a draw.
Third, had he charged my Prince instead of charging the Warriors, I think he would have won a marginal victory. He would have scored another 535 points as there is probably about a 95% chance my Prince would have been caught or fled the table barring a roll like the one Fullur and Fixed Dice had...Fullur rolled 3 1s on 3d6 to pursue a Hydra...who promptly rolled a 2 and 1 to get caught. Epic fail, epicly hilarious.
Anyway, he kills the Prince and most likely won't be in line of sight of my Knights, leaving only one charge possible; my BSB against the Pegasus Knights. This will also cost me a table quarter because my Knights then are in a contested quarter leaving only the quarter for my Warriors to take. Furthermore, that means I do NOT get the 193 for killing his KOR.
Lets do a hypothetical figure there:
185 for Wulfrik
92 for Marauders
149 for Warriors
535 for Prince: 961 points
200 for Griffin
135 for the Men at Arms
100 for table quarter
He wins by 426, a Marginal Victory...exactly what I was sort of hoping for.
As we can see, seemingly minor decisions make huge impacts. Any number of things could have seriously altered the outcome of this battle. A roll here or there (like when he made me re-roll all my successful armor saves and instead of saving 4 of 5 needing 2s, I saved none of 5) could have made a huge difference as combats had the outcome reversed. His General might have died early. My Prince could have been (and would have been) over run had I not moved my Warriors forward the full 4".
I loved this battle. For most of it, it looked like he might be able to maneuver me into a corner and get charges on the units he wanted to hit, but I was able to work out of it and force him to hit the unit I wanted him to charge.
And my intentional bad play of charging the Prince in front of his castle had as good an outcome as it possibly could. If I broke a turn earlier or he ran me down, the game is very, very different.
I said after our first game I expect some epic Bret-Chaos clashes. This game just accentuates that.
I also learned conclusively a couple things.
Seeing all his flying units, I probably should have done something different with my set-up. On the one hand, I like my use of the village and tower to anchor my flanks. On the dark side, I probably should have been more aggressive at inducing the charge from his Knights earlier. My Knights never did get an opportunity to get into combat in anything resembling a favorable position.
Flying is so lethal to my armies that I essentially have no way to deal with it if it can get behind me. That will seriously affect my deployment and army composition in the future. Maybe I was spoiled by the maneuverability of the Wood Elf army but the Chaos army is just too slow.
I would say the Spawn, being Unbreakable, would be one powerful answer. Except they are so fragile. The only possible save is Mark of Tzeentch, giving me a 16% chance to save. Not very good. Plus they have to move every turn, so they won't be where I want them to be. A Shaggoth could probably do a reasonable job of anchoring one flank, but the one time I have used one so far, he was pretty fragile as well. So flying units, shooting armies, magic, and monster-based armies are 4 armies that will start every battle with a better-than-average chance of defeating me quite handily.
So lets see how I did on my goals.
1) Nope. Never won a challenge with anyone who could roll. In fact, the only challenge where I COULD roll saw Wulfrik summarily dismissed.
2) Well...sort of. They fled, so I never got into close combat which is what I actually meant so I will call this a fail, though not the Epic Fail that goal 1 was.
3) This was a massive success. Nothing game-changing..in fact, I did not score any points but I did actually get some spells cast successfully and did a few random casualties. Even though I did nowhere near the points value of the 175ish points I spent to give him Level 4 and the Mark of Tzeentch, it was fun actually getting spells cast and doing damage. The fact it had no real impact on the game is an added bonus. Call this one an epic success.
4) I am okay with a Marginal Victory, especially since if you remove the table quarters I seized on the last turn it was a draw. I could not help the one table quarter since my Warriors were so far from his Knights, but I could have avoided the other and wish I had. So call this a qualified success.
A very nice day.