Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Might of Chaos Verse the Wimps of the Vampire Counts


I put together several army lists for my 3K point game against the Vampire counts. When putting the lists together, there were several things I wanted to try out or ensure were in the lists.

1) I had 3 painted units of 5 Knights apiece.

2) My Dragon Ogre Shaggoth

3) I wanted to work in a Chaos Warshrine

4) I wanted to try some new stuff with the Chaos Spawn

That meant points were at a premium. This also caused some internal debate.

See, the Vampire Counts armies played hereabouts center around tough Close Combat fighting Vampires and mass quantities of magic accompanying them.

So I needed to deal with close combat monsters and with magic.

That meant I would need to put a premium on mobility for my heroes. I considered Wulfrik the Wanderer and a squad of 20ish Marauders to come on behind or on the flanks of the VC and go after their tough heroes.

I also considered going with something like Galrauch and a Prince, both of whom fly, have excellent WS, S and T scores. Of course, they are also both magic users so that would pretty much mean I was going a magic heavy army with lots of low-level sorcerers to carry Dispel Scrolls, Infernal Puppet, the Black Tongue, etc.

So at one point I had a completely close-combat oriented army with lots of Exalted heroes to go after the Vampires and slay them in one on one combat.

I also had a magic heavy army where every hero was a Wizard, the Banner of Wrath was in attendance, and I would have a long magic phase.

But then I settled on a combination; Galrauch and the Prince would give me 10 total power dice and just 6 Dispel Dice...which would leave a nice magic defense hole for him to potentially exploit while giving me a rather questionable opportunity to do some magic damage of my own.

These would also be my only two heroes, meaning they would be the Vampire Hunters.

It meant for core units I was reduced to 4 units of Marauders at 10 guys apiece, no upgrades to allow me to fit in the other stuff I wanted. This game would be won or lost by the Knights and 2 heroes.


My set-up was pretty basic. I put two units of Marauders on either flank. Their sole duty in this battle would be to contest table quarters. Inside of each of them I placed a Chaos Spawn. My plan was to advance my Knights whatever distance the Spawn advanced to protect my flanks. The Spawn would try to keep any spare units of Skeletons, Ghouls, or what have you from flanking my Knights if they got into a "tar pit" type battle.

My three Knightly units were in the center in a pure blunt force trauma, here I come, stop me if I can deployment.

Behind them were my two flying heroes and my Warshrine.

Facing me would be a rather unusual VC build. He had 4 units of Skeletons...but each unit had just 10 of the buggers. He had one large unit of Blood Knights, a Vamp riding a dragon, a flying mounted Vamp, 2 Vamps on foot, and a unit of Wraiths.

Turn One

I won the roll and elected to have him go first. He marched everyone he could, though the Skels on my left flank were out of range of Vamps and thus could only walk forward. His Magic Phase then started, and it would be key.

He used a bound item to Danse Macabre some skeletons closer to me. He cast Curse of Years on a unit of Knights gaining a "9" to cast. Decision time: I have just 6 Dispel Dice. He has about 10 power dice left at this point and has "Wind of Undeath", one of the two or three most potent spells in the entire game. I figure the dice to average rolls of about 3.5 which means I need 4 dice to reasonably expect to dispel Curse of Years.

There is an 18% chance of losing a Knight or two to Curse. But I can dispel it on my turn perhaps...I let it go. He rolls 5 dice...and no 6s. My gamble paid off.

He then casts Wind of undeath...and miscasts! Rolls on the chart...an 11. He loses the spell, loses a level, and takes a hit which goes through, wounding him. Whew! Breath of relief from me.

But he still has more dice and after I dispel some random spell from one guy, he gets irresistible force and casts Danse Macabre on his Dragon...which propels it into my Dragon Ogre Shaggoth.

This was unexpected. He got all the way across the board in one turn and attacked my favorite model. I was about to see it go down in flames without doing a thing for the second time in three tires. What is it, a great unit or more Wardancers?

(I have used the Wardancers 4 times. 3 times they have gotten the charge, including twice with a coinciding flank charge by another unit. 4 times they have broken and run. Wardancers suck.)

Well, he has some ability where I must pass a LD test at a minus or he can re-roll to wound. I need a 6 but roll a 7. Bad news.

His Vampire goes nuts with his Frost Blade but misses completely. He has Hatred so re-rolls. 2 hits, no wounds. Then his Dragon wounds three times.

I allocate my return strikes against his Vampire and wound him twice. I lose the combat but, being close to my Battle Standard Bearer (BSB) who has the Banner of Chaos, he is Stubborn and has a re-roll which he passes easily.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 1

Galrauch passes his test (as he will do every turn) and declares a charge on his Dragon and that Spawn makes it into contact as well. My right flank Knights, who have the Mark of khorne, charge his Skeletons that advanced via Danse Macabre.

Meanwhile, my Marauders must test for Panic because they are within 6" of his Terror causing dragon. They test on a 9 since Galrauch is right there. They have a re-roll due to Will of Chaos. They proceed to run anyway...2". Whatever.

Magic: this phase has typically been my downfall, doing little good and massive harm to me. This game will be different as evidenced by his mis-cast in turn one.

I now cast Infernal Gateway at his Zombie Dragon. Uh-oh...mis-cast. Fortunately, I gave Tendrils of tzeentch to the Prince (who I was casting it with) and the re-roll gives me Irresistible Force. I end up killing his Vampire and wounding the Dragon once.

I then use 3 dice I saved to Dispel his Curse of Years so I have limited stuff to cast and on to Close Combat.

My Shooting Phase was the best I have ever had; I used the Chaos Warshrine on my left-most unit of Knights so they could go after the Dragon if needed and gave them an additional attack. This meant the line guys, with that bonus and Frenzy, would have 4 attacks and the Champion would have 5. Look out world!

The Spawn gets about 4 or 5 attacks but misses them all. The mighty Galrauch can only manage one wound in his 6 attacks. The Dragon then attacks the Shaggoth, putting a 4th wound on him. But then it is the Shaggoths turn.

I had planned the Shaggoth to go after the Vamps and gave him a great weapon which meant he had a S8 on his attacks...and he hit 5 times. He wounded 4 of them and the Zombie Dragon was dead in one turn.

There is a lesson here: no matter how powerful a unit is, if it charges alone into the enemy line, it is going to be a casualty sooner rather than later.

Anyway, the other combat went even more my way. My Knights killed 9 Skeletons with their Frenzied charge and the 10th crumbled to Combat Resolution which allowed me to over-run into his flying Vampire...a character he did not want in combat.

Vampire Counts Turn 2

His Blood Knights were able to flank charge my Knights who had charged his Flying Vampire. His Wraiths charge my Knights who had received the additional attack.

Magic: I Dispel his first attempt to advance Konrad but he then does it with the bound spell. He makes what I think is a mistake, charging my un-engaged Knights instead of joining the Wraiths in their assault. He is counting on Konrad being great in Hand to Hand.

Unfortunately, I start ahead by 2 for Banner and Outnumber and with an Armor save of 0+, he will be hard pressed to do 3 wounds.But we will see what happens.

I have to save Dispel Dice for his inevitable Wind of Death so allow Curse of Years, which he casts at Galrauch successfully but fails to wound. He then fails to cast Wind of Death.

Shooting: His Banshee screams and kills one Knight. I have to dispatch her ASAP as that scream could do a LOT of damage.

On the right flank, my Knights do three wounds to the flying Vampire hero and kill him, but the Blood Knights exact bloody revenge by slaying all 5 of them. Hmm...I killed one unit of Skeletons and a Vampire Hero but got slain...believe it or not, I am happy. Mostly because I got off two charges.

Konrad, being alone, must accept the challenge from my Chaos Knight Champion. He hits 3 times, all three wound, but I save all 3. My Champion has 4 attacks, 3 hit, all wound, Konrad dies.Because the Shrine is on the table, I get to roll on the Eye of Chaos table and he gains +1 Strength.

Meanwhile, the Banshee is also forced to accept a challenge: she cannot wound me. My Champ has a mighty 5 attacks needing just 3s to hit. I get overkill. The Wraiths fail to wound the Knights and take 5 wounds in return meaning they crumble to CR and I over-run into the unit of Skeletons holding his General.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 2

The game is more or less over at this point. I can bring overwhelming force to bear against every one of his units. I have achieved the classic "divide and conquer" and my superior movement means I can concentrate on each unit in turn and wipe them out.
Still, he gets points this turn as I (illegally) test for my Marauders on the Generals 9 to rally...fail...and here is the illegal part, use the BSB to re-roll needing a 9. And fail again. 4 tests needing 9 or below, all failed and they flee the table. Awesome.

I charge my Shaggoth into the unit holding his General, fly Galrauch behind his skels on my left flank intending to breathe on them, and move my Marauders forward to engage in close combat with his skels, figuring to give him a chance to do a few casualties.

I cast Infernal Gateway on the Blood Knights and do 12 S6 hits. All 12 wound. He armor saves just 3, but then Regenerates 5 so "just" 4 die. Those Blood Knights are TOUGH!

My champion wounds his General once, takes none in return. The Knights kill only 4 skeletons, and a horse kills another, The Shaggoth wipes out 4 more, I win the combat by something like 11, the General and last skel crumble to C.R.

Vampire Counts Turn 3

He has no vamps left. Not much to do:turn his Blood Knights to face my Knights, his Skels to face the Dragon...whom I forgot to breathe with. Bwoohahahah.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 3

Charge, yadda yadda yadda.

Infernal Gateway takes care of 6 skeletons.

In the challenge, I do 3 wounds to his champ, he saves two and regenerates the other. He wounds back 4 times, I save all 4.

My Knights do 5 wounds, he saves 2 and regenerates 2 so I do just one casualty. The Spawn wounds twice but only one slays. The Blood Knights respond by killing two Knights. Then their horses go to work and kill 2 more...I lost the combat!

Meanwhile, Galrauch kills 3 Skeletons, wins the combat by one, one Skeleton crumbles.

The skeletons on my left flank charge into the Spawn. I am not too worried...their low WS and S combine with my high T to mean I should be in great shape.
But then something strange happens...they hit the Spawn 4 times and wound him twice! He rolls up 4 attacks back...and whiffs completely. Fortunately he is Unbreakable but still...
Galrauch meanwhile can kill but one Skeleton with his 6 attacks. Fortunately, he is not wounded in return and between the wound and outnumbering, he kills 2 more with Combat Resolution.
Meanwhile, my last champion facing the Blood Knights can only wound one time and that one is Regenerated. My Spawn can do no damage. On the bright side, the Blood Knights do no damage either. On the dark side, they have rank and standard...and my Knight Champion breaks. Being down to 20% of unit start, that means he is done for the battle. Fortunately, the Unbreakable Spawn holds the Knights where they are.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 4
I charge him with my fresh Knights from the front, my Prince charges from behind, and the Shaggoth charges the skeletons on my left flank that wounded the Spawn last turn.
My Warshrine might as well try again since the unit with bonus attacks has now been wiped out. So it gives the Knights facing the Blood Knights something pretty worthless...+1 to their armor save. In close combat they already have a 0+ and it cannot improve the save past that. Oh, well.
Galrauch tires of toying with the unit he has been working on and kills tha last three.
The Shaggoth manages but 3 kills...against a Dragon he can wound 4 times but against Skeletons 2 or 3 at a go? Whatever... and the Spawn kills the last one. All the VC have left is their Blood Knights.
My Prince challenges his unit champ who accepts. I do 3 wounds, he saves one and Regenerates one, so one wound on him. The Knights meanwhile do 6 wounds, only to see 3 saved by armor and two more to Regeneration. The Horses wound 3, one saved by armor and one by Regeneration. He can only do 2 wounds in return, both of which I save and then the Spawn wounds just one...but it kills.
So I did a massive 4 kills and his last two fall to Combat Resolution. The VC are done in 4 turns.
First, what went right?
My Shaggoth was a terror, surviving an attack from a Zombie Dragon riding Vampire with th Killing-Blow type power equipped Frost blade that, had it done a single wound, would have slain the Shaggoth outright. Instead, he slew the Dragon with a little help, then rampaged around killing skeletons when no better target appeared.
His mobility, striking power with a great weapon, and ruggedness were awesome. Quickly becoming one of my favorite units.
The Spawn were awesome as well, pinning down units so I could attack them at my leisure with the appropriate amounts of force. They did little damage but they kept him where I wanted him.
The Knights, as always, were stunningly awesome. Especially when they got the +1 attack from the Warshrine. His Wraiths were easy meat for them, they rampaged through his General like a tuba blast through crisp mountain air and even did a bit of damage to the Blood Knights on their way out the door.
Other units of Knights were equally destructive. Love those Knights!
The Warshrine was a fun toy. Ultimately, I think the best feature was letting my Unit Champ roll on the Table, always one of my goals for the game.
And Galrauch and the Prince were simply awesome, dominating the magic phase and controlling the field through their superior mobility.
What went wrong?
Very little. The main thing that went wrong is I think the build is a little bit cheesy. Taking 10 Marauders with no upgrades just to fill a core slot seems a bit weasel-like to me. The problem is, my other troops are so expensive that i can do little else. I could take 2 small units of Chaos Warriors and just one unit of Knights...but that army would be excessively weak. Knights are easy to outnumber and defeat with static combat resolution. There is a happy medium somewhere.
For my hapless opponent, what went right?
His Blood Knights being punched up with two heroes including their Battle Standard Bearer and having Regeneration were a tough, tough nut to crack.
What went wrong?
Everything else. The brutal mis-cast on turn one, for example.
I tend to think he made tactical errors with the Danse Macabres as well. It was great getting the Dragon into combat on turn one and moving Konrad into combat when I was not prepared for him.

However, they were unsupported. That meant they were easy prey as I was easily able to bring vastly superior force to bear on each one in turn and wipe them out before turning my attention to the weaker troops. By spreading out all across the field, he made it so I determined when, how, and who would have combat which led to easy victories for me except in the one combat where Frenzy Forced me to charge his Flying vampire and allow him the flank charge with his Blood Knights.
And even there, being able to take out one of his spell-casters was well worth losing the unit to me.
Overall, this was a great game for Chaos...and I feel sort of bad about what I did to the VC. But hopefully fun was had by all.


John said...

Nice detailed write up mate. Very surprised at your opponents unit selections. The key to VC armies is numbers and winning on CR - small units of 10 Skeles just doesnt cut it.

Lucky bugger to have Blood Knights though damn things are expensive

Fullur said...

Thing about his dragon riding vamp dieing like that is, had he done one stinking wound, which should have been expected, he would have overrun, you would not have charged him the way you did, and then you are playing a very different game. That is the way it would go probably 7 times out of 10, which to my mind is probably worth the risk.

Not sure what he was going for, but with proper play and luck he could have turned those four units of 10 into much more through his resurrection spells.

Fullur said...

Incidentally, the Will of Chaos should not have allowed you to re-roll your Terror test. Terror does not cause Panic, so the Will of Chaos would not come into play. Ironic that you could not manage to keep your cowardly warriors from running off the field even by majorly cheating. ;) j/k it is only cheating if you do it on purpose and I know you did not.

crisjesse said...

My tactic was, well, to have fun with expensive units. I wanted to see the Frostblade strike some terror, the bloodknights to earn their name, and Konrad to do something.

I did think I could run through Chaos if the rolls went in my favor. However, they didn't, so I was instead in a very vulnerable position. Charging in alone was a bad decision, but getting suprise charges on the opponent is... fun.

I'm probably going to give the Frostblade another shot or two. I've got some plans that should hopefully keep me from getting crushed before the dice decide to befriend me.

And I'll likely break the bloodknights down into 2 groups.

I've decided not to put much more effort into playing an army in Warhammer, but I'll still play. I may just be a little more suicidal in my tactics. Wild cannons always make things interesting.

Solid victory Andrew. Flying also helped you to a speedy victory, cornering my expensive Vampire/Dragon combo faster than I had anticipated.

Good game man! But we shall meet again...

Darth Weasel said...

I suspect his motivation in the small Skel numbers was to allow the Dragon and mass spell casters. I think he had 13 or 14 power dice when the game started...though mis-casts and dying vamps soon took care of about 5 in two turns.

As for the Blood Knights, they were proxies for this game. And probably will so remain...

As for the Dragon over-running, if he rolls less than 13", he is still on the table and will still get hit by at the least my prince and Dragon, and possibly even by the Spawn. Since the Dragon did nothing else notable (killing skellies means little...) and the Prince was there for just such a specific purpose, I still think I would have had him handled if he had slain Shaggoth in turn one. I just would have been miffed that the Shag went Wardancer on me...

He was using his power dice for Wind of undeath, Wind of Death, Danse Macabre, stuff like that and more or less ignoring the raising capabilities.

Stinkin' Marauders. Even when I Raw Deal cheat with them they run away...

As for running through Chaos...I will say again, a clear field is a great field for Chaos when the opponent has no shooting. Allowing my Knights unlimited mobility means it will be a tough, tough row to hoe for the slow-moving VC. Your tactics are improving, but I think on that field, unless you move your army in a concerted manner it will nearly always be a slaughter as I use superior speed and striking power to pick apart one unit at a time. I really only need one unit to hold up the BK while I demolish the rest of the table with the other 2 Knight units...which won't take long with their striking power. But we shall have to play it and see when you are ready :-)