I had my Shaggoth at home being painted so he would not make an appearance. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked until I was able to get a Mounted Exalted Hero with the Armor of Morrslieb and Mark Of Tzeentch, 5 Knights, 6 Warhounds, a single Chaos Spawn with Khorne, a unit of Knights with the Banner of Rage (I had the Mark of Nurgle but never remembered it in the entire battle), and 2 Units of Chaos Warriors with Great Weapons Khorne, 1 being 10 strong and the other 11 strong.
My thought process was simple. My Exalted Hero would have a 3+ Ward Save against all non-magical attacks:thus, I fear no Cannon, Organ Gun, or Thunderers. Nurgle keeps my Knights in good shape against the Thunderers and I wanted to maneuvering in concert with the Spawn.
It was only after Space Monkey told me he had no shooting that I added in the Warhounds to see if I could use their role as Fast Cavalry to negate any flank charges he might try on me.
I took Great Weapons because I thought that would be easier on the Dwarf army than having to bust through 2+ Close Combat saves. I wanted this to be fairly competitive.
Space Monkey was experimenting and deliberately also made a less than optimal army. He took 2 units of Warriors for Core, then a couple units of Ironbreakers, a Thane, a Rune Smith, and...maybe another Warrior or Ironbreaker unit? Do not recall.
We set up the table as a small keep being attacked; on what would become my right flank was a small stream that meandered to the edge of a forest that all but closed off that side of the field. On what would be my left flank was a tower, and in front of that was a small village.
That meant I might have been in trouble against a standard, shooty Dwarf force. That meant the center of the table was a killing zone, the only place wide enough to send full units.
He set up two units of Ironbreakers on my right flank to which I replied with Warhounds in front, Knights behind, then Warriors in line with the Warhounds, Spawn beside, and Warriors behind the Spawn.
Space Monkey essentially did a 2-unit deep battle line across the open area. He won the roll and had me go first.
Chaos Turn 1
I rolled a "6" for Spawn movement so everyone moved forward 6". Wild cheering ensued for this dynamic, exciting, captivating turn.
Dwarf Turn 1
He reciprocated with an equally captivating turn, moving forward 3-5" as he slightly repositioned units.
Chaos Turn 2
Topping my turn 1 roll of awesomeness, I rolled a 5. Again I paced the Spawn with one unit of Warriors beside it and one behind. Meanwhile, I could see where his Ironbreakers could threaten a flank charge, so I marched my Fast Cavalry to get wide of his outside unit which left my Knights well outside 6" but, by the end of their move, inside 14". They would be in combat soon.
Dwarf Turn 2
It was obvious most if not all of my units would be charging next turn. He basically used this turn to give himself good position to receive the charges and, should any of his units hold, get some devastating counter-charges. Good strategy...if he held. Is your heart pounding with excitement from all the awesome action we have already witness? I know, I know, right? No, I am not responsible for damages if this thrilling, epic, action-packed encounter (so far) caused you to be unable to control your bowels and you wet yourself.
Chaos Turn 3
Exhausted by the 3 minutes the first two turns had taken, we considered taking a break for a few weeks to allow our hearts to calm down. But then we bravely decided to go ahead. Warhounds, instead of flanking his Ironbreakers in front in conjunction with the knights were forced by his last adjustment to charge his rearmost Ironbreakers.
My Knights charged head on into his foremost unit of Ironbreakers.
My front Warriors charged into his Warriors.
My Spawn...got a wild hair, rolled an 11(!!!!!) needing about a 5 to reach, and got into combat. Unfortunately, this meant he blocked off my last unit of Warriors. SO I had one unengaged unit and Space Monkey had his Rune-smith carrying unit unengaged. This is the turn we were waiting for! Mayhem about to ensue.
The Spawn rolled a mighty 5 attacks. Sweet! Needing 4s to hit...he hit like 4 times. Because I gave him Khorne he struck with S5 against what I thought would be Toughness 4 Dwarf Warriors, but I guess they only had 3s? So he needed 2s to wound. And did kill 2. With nobody to strike back, the Warriors would hold, and hold they did.
The Warriors fared better. The Champion had a mighty 4 attacks (base 3, 1 for Khorne) and got overkill against his lowly champion. Then my front rank went to work with their own 12 attacks and did about 6 or 7 more casualties. He could not roll insane courage and broke. Being Frenzied meant I had to pursue which gave me the charge into the unit occupying the Spawn...and simultaneously blocking off my other unit of Warriors again.
In the Knights w/Exalted Hero versus Ironbreakers it was more of the same. His Champion could not stand before my Exalted hero, the 16 attacks of the Knights killed 6 or 7, his Ironbreakers fled and got away as I ran into the unit holding his Thane.
That unit was open because they had taken zero wounds from the Warhounds and over run like 2" or some ridiculously low similar amount. That unit had his Thane, so I got the charge on him.
Dwarf Turn 3
My Exalted Hero challenged him, his Thane accepted. I rolled 4 attacks (forgetting the Frenzy was from the banner instead of from the Mark) and, needing 3s, hit 1 time...but did wound. His Thane wounded once, but I saved it. The Knights did a few casualties and took none back. Surprisingly, he stood.
Meanwhile, both his units had rallied and that was good. This time, my Spawn rolled 6 attacks but could only hit once or twice and wounded just 1 Dwarf, my Warriors knocked out 5 or 6 Warriors. One Warrior wounded back the Spawn and they needed Insane Courage to stick around. But they rolled a 3 and so the worst outcome happened; my Spawn caught the fleeing Warriors and my Warriors ran headlong into his freshly recovered unit. He just could not catch a break.
On the other side of the field, my Exalted Hero made up for a poor first turn by wounding the Thane 3 times in 5 tries (I remembered the Banner of Wrath rule) and the Horse did another. Having slain him in a challenge, I got to roll on the Eye table for the second time and rolled a "3", gaining +1 toughness. Cool!
Meanwhile, the Knights killed a few Ironbreakers, took none in return, they broke, I pursued into his freshly rallied unit.
Dwarf Turn 4
His Rune Smith accepted the challenge of my unit champion. It was here I realized how good the Chaos Warriors with Mark of Khorne and Great Weapons are...IF they can get into combat.
The Rune Smith is a Hero level character. The Unit Champion is not. My Unit Champion was equal on WS and superior in attacks, strength, and had just one fewer wound with equal armor.
My 4 attacks hit 4 times, wounded 4 times, one dead Hero. My unit champ did not just kill his hero he got overkill! How stupidly awesome is that?
The Warriors killed lots, he could not roll Insane Courage, I caught his fleeing unit.
My Knights did what they do on his other Ironbreakers and they ran. He had just one paltry unit of maybe 5 or 6 Warriors left on my left flank and about the same on my right flank.
Chaos Turn 5
My Warriors had to charge, so did my Knights. It was fast and bloody. After 4-1/2 turns, the casualty count was as follows: Chaos had lost 6 Warhounds and 1 wound to the Spawn. The Dwarf army was 100% dead.
Okay, first what went right. I discovered a new and awesome build for the Chaos Warriors. For the campaign, I think I will give them both Shields and Great Weapons so they can adjust to who they are fighting; Ogres, Dwarfs, and monsters will see Great Weapons. Elf armies, Lizardmen, Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings will see shields. Khorne will see blood. Lots of it.
The Spawn moving in conjunction with the Warriors is perfect. He can protect their flank if I just adjust to whatever he rolls and he can be far enough out to keep enemies from march-blocking me. Being Unbreakable, he stands an excellent chance of pinning the victims....err, enemies, long enough for me to charge in and support him with the Warriors.
Kev, if you read this, I would suggest similar tactics with your Gorger; unsupported, he can hold up a unit. Bring him help and he wins combats and kills enemy units.
Second, getting enemies in crowded fields where they have to put one unit behind another means I will consistently get the charge. At one point I got charged by one of his freshly rallied units but they were mere Warriors, did no harm, and I ran them over. It did not make the report because I was going from memory and had no notes but I think it was about turn 4. Anyway, by always getting the charge, never needing worse than a 4 to hit, having 16 or so attacks and wounding on 2s, I found the Warriors and Knights both to be unstoppable forces, dealing out 6, 8, 10 casualties at a time.
Third, the mounted Exalted Hero in the unit of Knights is a great combo that makes them even stronger than they already are. Good stuff.
1) The Warhounds, whether do to the constraints of the field or my poor maneuvering or just pure worthlessness were yet again disappointment. They did not hold up his unit, do any casualties, and were unable to threaten his flank due to his ability to extend his lines...and the Dwarf army ain't particularly fast if you know what I mean. That forest was in my way...
Second and more importantly, balance issues. Now, to be fair, that was a very sub-optimal Dwarf army. No Cannons or Organ Guns controlled the center of the field. I had to face no Thunderers. Dwarf armies need to soften up with ranged attacks before they close to hand to hand. I closed at full force and got the charge all but 2 times. The outcome was fore-ordained. Even with some very poor rolls (needing 3s I often hit only 6 or 7 out of 15 or 16ish attacks) I demolished him.
My goal is to find an army composition that can compete with any army but also that virtually any army can compete with.
So perhaps I need more squishy Marauders. The Spawn I think are a good choice because they allow me to protect flanks but are not particularly devastating. I shudder to think how long a combat could go between a weak-swinging Spanw and a weak-swinging Gorger. They could roll through 6 or 8 rounds of combat on any given day.
I think the Warrior as core might be fun for me but I am suspecting they are too strong for some armies and so that might need change.
Ultimately, whether I win or lose, I want my army to be fun to play against...and right now I am not convinced that is the case.
I did enjoy getting into so many close combats. There must have been a dozen over the course of the game. At the same time, I would have preferred to take a few casualties. Unfortunately, he so seldom got even a chance to strike back as I would wipe out his whole front line that I was going to be hard-pressed to take any.
I will keep tweaking and enjoying. Hopefully everyone else does too.