Saturday, September 12, 2009

Warhammer 1K:Wood Elf versus Tomb Kings

We have recently instituted the "Warhammer 1000". Sunday afternoons we try to get in a 1000 point game. Smaller than our typical game, it allows us to try out some different armies and combinations.

I had not played the Wood Elf army in a while so thought it would be fun to give them a go. Meanwhile, Fixed Dice was going to roll out the tomb kings again.

Locally, there is a feeling the Tomb Kings are...well..under-powered. Weak core troops, weak shooting, and marginal magic is the general feeling. Of course, this would only be their second game and would again be just a small one.

Knowing they are a weaker army, I went an interesting way. I decided to go a heavily close combat army. I took 12 Dryads (all I have), 10 Wardancers (all I have), took 10 Waywatchers because they are cool. I was facing a Magic-heavy army so I took a Spellsinger with 2 Dispel Scrolls. I still needed one core unit so I took Glade Guard. I had about 270 points to spend or so and so went with a massive 20 man unit with Standard Bearer and the Banner of Aenach.

Sometimes you realize very shortly you are stupid. Aenach is only 25 points and allows a Stand and Shoot. Tomb Kings cannot march. They are never going to close with my mobile Elf army anyway unless I decide to let them, and in that case I can maneuever to ensure they are getting shot on the way in anyway. Not that 30ish points for Bearer and Banner is a big deal...but little errors can become big ones.

My hapless opponent went with a couple 10 man Skeleton units, a big block of Tomb Guard, the Casket of Souls and the requisite 3 heroes, all tooled up in some way or the other.

By the way, my army composition is very unusual for me; limited shooting, only one hero, and that hero not expected to do anything but Dispel. I specifically wanted to try a close combat oriented army.

The field had 3 (THREE) forests, some rough ground on my left flank and a deep lake on the right. I put my 20 Glade Guard in a line across the center of the field, the Wardancers to my left, and the Dryads to my right. The Dryads would have to ford the river and sweep along the flank...but that was better than stacking behind the Wardancers (?).

He put his Casket of Souls on the ever-present hill in opponents deployment zone that is the bane of my existence, the Tomb Guard to its right (from my point of view) and the two Skeleton units side by each in front of the Tomb Guard and open space.

That meant my Waywatchers could take advantage of their awesome deployment rules to set up on his flank in his deployment zone.

The roll for first turn would be critical and I won it. We each rolled a 4 but I had set up first and the bonus +1 for that gave me the choice. I elected to go first.

Wood Elf Turn 1
My Wardancers moved forwards out of the woods into the rough ground, stopping just short of the fence. On the right flank, my Dryads all made it across the ford and into the forest. My Glade Guard and Waywatchers took advantage of the "Asrai archery" rule to move, knowing it would not affect their "to-hit" roll, but might get into half range, putting into effect S4 for the Glade Guard and Killing Blow for the Waywatchers.

Magic Phase:
I had a choice pre-battle between the marginally useful Tree-Singing and the awesome but unlikely to happen Ariel's Blessing. I went the high-risk, high-reward route and took the Ariel, not realizing he would make me -1 to cast, meaning I needed a 10. Since I already figured I would need Irresistible Force to successfully get it off anyway, that probably would not have altered my decision. I could only cast once per turn and figured either spell would meet Dispel Scrolls unless Irresistible so why not try to give someone Regeneration?

I will save time. I successfully met the required "10" just once all game, he used a scroll.

This is the Wood Elf strength. Whereas for my beloved Warriors of Chaos, shooting phases are short and don't do much, they make or break the game for the Wood Elfs. Mobility and firepower are the watchwords.

And fire they did. My Waywatchers opened a can of whoop-smurf on the closest unit of Skeletons, killing 7 of them. The Glade Guard would have killed 5 more if there had been more than 3 left. The upshot was, turn one saw me wipe an entire unit off the board.

It was at this point Fixed Dice stated the game had a predetermined outcome. He could not come to grips with my guys unless I chose to allow it and could shoot him down completely before the game ended without him ever touching me.

Tomb King Turn 1
Still, he moved his other Skeleton unit in a wheel to try to cover the Tomb Guard from my Waywatchers and moved forward. Since they can not march, the ungainly maneuver meant they would still all be able to see my Glade Guard.

Magic Phase:
With their "always successful", my defense was at a premium. I only had 3 Dispel Dice. The Casket being on a hill meant every model I had could see it so I simply had to save my Dispel Dice for that. Which meant he got off a free shooting phast, killing 2 Glade Guard, and some movement. Then I did Dispel the Casket.

Shooting Phase
This slew just one more Glade Guard. Clearly, even taking two turns of shooting, the Tomb Kings are not going to win a shoot-out with the Wood Elf army.

Wood Elf Turn 2
I moved my Dryads forward, moved my Waywatchers and Glade Guard...and inexplicably completely forgot to move my Wardancers. I have no explanation. I planned to advance them about 3" which would have put me approximately 9" from his Tomb Guard...outside their charge range, inside mine. And then I...didn't.

Shooting: See turn one. Waywatchers were slightly less effective despite having Killing Blow but this time 8 Glade Guard were within half range so the carnage was terrible and all 10 Skeletons died. He was now down to the Casket and the Tomb Guard bolstered by a Hierophant and Liche priest...I think.

I now had a new plan. Anyone who could see the Casket was going to shoot at it. My Wardancers and Dryads would work on his Tomb Kings. My plan for the battle had been to see my Colse Combat machines in combat so why shoot up their only target?

Besides, even if close combat went poorly, with still 27 shots per turn, all either S4 or Killing Blow, his unit would fall like Skeletons before Chaos even if they won Close Combat, maneuverability and firepower would carry the field. At least, so I thought...

Tomb King Turn 2
He had to choose who to face: my Wardancers, the Dryads approaching the flank, the deadly Waywatchers or the 17 strong Glade Guard.He elected to do a partial wheel to face the closest unit, the Wardancers. magic not particularly memorable, I dispelled the Casket. I was quite afraid of it.

Wood Elf Turn 3
Here we go. The mighty, awesome, fearsome, deadly Wardancers charge. The Dryads also charge.

Shooting: My Waywatchers, heretofore deadly marksmen with unerring aim, cover the sky with 10 arrows, all of which either miss entirely or hit the Casket.

And I somehow, until typing this report, completely forgot my Glade Guard could have seen the Casket since it was on a hill. I did not fire them at it even once. That was a mistake.

Close combat:
I knew for this round I had S4 and 2 attacks apiece. I decided to perform the Whirling Death to get Killing Blow. My Champion challenged and his...Hierophant? accepted. I rolled my 3 attacks...I wounded once that was not saved. 2 Wardancers attacked his Champion...and whiffed completely. My other Wardancers struck with fury...just not with talent or success, felling maybe 2 skeltons?

But the Dryads can still save the combat. Here come their mighty 6 attacks. Great...not one wound gets through.

He strikes back, kills my Champion though no other Wardancer. He has ranks and since the Dryads are Skirmishers, they cannot negate the rank bonus. He has a banner. Fortunately, I outnumber him and win the combat by 1.

Bad news...once again, my "elite" hand to hand units charge in with about every advantage they can muster and more or less are defeated. At this point, it will take a minotr miracle for me to win this combat.

Tomb King Turn 3
He has no movement. His magic lets him get off a free attack. One Dryad and two Wardancers die. He uses a bound spell to bring his unit back to full strength.

Close Combat phase: another Dryad becomes kindling, a couple Wardancers become mulch. I flail away ineffectually in return, doing one wound to his Liche Priest and nothing to anyone that matters. I lose the combat, my Wardancers break and flee fully 12".

I have ranted about how bad the Wardancers suck every time I have used them. I am not going to do that this time. I am going to talk about how awesome the model I purchased way back in 1994 and painted way back then still looks as compared to the awful paint jobs on the ones I bought off E-Bay. He looked fantastic as he advanced to the rear at a high rate of speed.

Wood Elf Turn 4
Good news. The Wardancers rallied. Bad news. It will take them until turn 6 to get back to the combat; rally this turn, march in turn 5, charge in turn 6. There are just 4 left. Is it worth it?

I forget to move my Spellsinger out of line of sight of the Casket (if I had done so, I would have used my Dispel Dice to block the 2nd attack instead of saving them for the Casket), repositioned the Glade Guard so they could shoot up the soon to be ultimately triumphant Tomb Guard, advanced the Waywatchers so they all were inside half range, and opened fire on the Casket. I put one wound on the General and shot down one of the two guards. Pretty good phase I must admit.

Close Combat: More of the same. I might have put down a Guard or two, and I think I actually killed his Liche Priest. Unfortunately, at this point even doing that meant I was losing the combat...BEFORE HE EVEN ATTACKED BACK. He had 2 ranks, outnumbering, and a Standard giving him +4 and I did just 3 wounds. He killed another Dryad or two, I miraculously passed my break test (needing a 6, I rolled a 5. So that was good).

Tomb King Turn 4
He healed the wound on his General, brought the Guard back to full strength, and got in an extra attack in his Magic phase. I think he also Magic Missiled down a Glade Guard or two. In close combat he broke me. I fled, he could not catch me.

Wood Elf Turn 5
This turn would be tricky. I rallied my Dryads, moved the Wardances into the protective cover of the forest they started in, moved my Spellsinger into the same forest, and then had a tough choice.

My fear was he would use his movement to reform his Tomb Guard, catch my Waywatchers in their sight, and use his movement spell to pick off that juicy target. So I tried to move far enough that he could not reach them. Just in case I advanced the Glade Guard and let the bowstrings twang.

The Tomb Guard felt the full force of my fury and something like 4 of them fell. They were proving to be a very tough unit. The Casket escaped unscathed.

Tomb King Turn 5
He saw the same thing regarding the Waywatchers but for some reason elected to go after the Dryads. I think he forgot how much Static Combat Resolution advantage he had. I would have been down by 4 to start any combat, and if the Waywatchers broke...which they most likely would....they were just a couple inches from table edge. I think that is the target I would have chosen. He already had half points for the Dryads.

But that is part of the beauty of this game. Though it is what I might have done, that does not mean it was necessarily correct. Everyone has their own strategies and different people play the same situation different ways.

He elected to go after the Dryads. This time he rolled just a "1" to move again which would have given him the charge. I used one of my precious Dispel Dice to block it. He used a Magic Missile to shoot down another Glade Guard and then brought the Tomb Guard back to full health.

Wood Elf Turn 6
I actually was quite sceptical of the outcome at this point. Yes, in the firat two turns I had shot down his skeletons. Whoopee. At 80 points a unit, I only scored 160. Meanwhile, he had half points for both my Wardancers and Dryads...97 and 72 points respectively. I had also slain his Liche Priest...probably les than 100 points I would assume...and he was likely to wipe out my dryads next turn. So it was probably a draw at this point.

I took some time pondering my options. I could shoot everything I had at the Tomb Kings and try to get half points for them...or I could unleash the Waywatchers at the Casket hoping against hope to put down his King. (Forgetting again my Glade Guard actually could see the Casket...)

I ran the numbers and ultimately decided to go high risk, high reward. I shot at the Casket. And wonder of wonders...I did three wounds to his Tomb King, putting him down for good. That decided the game.

Meanwhile, the Glade Guard put a bunch of holes in the Tomb Guard, 6 or 7 casualties if I recall correctly.

Tomb Kings Turn 6
His choice was easy, now. With just a Hierophant, his magic was weak, his options limited. He charged the Dryads, trying for that last 72 points. I blocked his magic since I no longer needed to fear the Casket.

Close Combat: I lost no further Dryads and, since he could not regenerate with all the lost magic, I was only down 2 (outnumber, standard) and passed my break test. Game.

Total points were something like 650-170 or in that neighborhood. We did not figure it exactly because it was obviously a Massacre.

What Went Right
The Waywatchers are simply awesome, easily worth the whopping 24 points apiece. Starting out hitting stuff on a "2", they are going to hit lots of things and even with just S3, they are going to do some damage.

The Glade Guard are also pretty spectacular. Cheap enough to risk not having a place to deploy 20, they are mobile, good at hitting what they shoot at, and from 15" in hit on S4 so they are going to cause some casualties as well. They are, in my humble yet accurate opinion, one of the absolutely best Core choices in the game.

What went wrong
The Wood Elf close combat army simply does not fit my play style. Being skirmishers means they cannot rank up, cannot remove the opponent's rank bonus, and start every combat behind by 2 or 3. They are simply not good enough fighters to overcome that. they fail miserably every. stinking. time for me.

I hear of other people having great success with them. Good for those people. I keep using them because I think the concept is awesome, but they are the type of troop that would NEVER see the table top for me if I was in a highly competitive environment where I wanted to win.

The Dryads did okay but have the same limitations. Their ability to cause Fear might be all right against someone like the Skaven or Goblins or Brettonians...but against Undead it is no benefit at all and their limited combat ability does not offset that.

I am still likely to take one or the other to be War Machine or Mage hunters, but the Wood Elf army in close combat against even Skeletons is something that you will only see when I am badly outmaneuevered or hemmed in by terrain. They are just no good at it.

In the end, a fortunate barrage of "6s" meant I did enough wounds to his King to win the game. All the way through, it felt like I was arrows took out 20 Skeletons in two turns, I took out probably a dozen more in close combat...but he kept regenerating them and until the last turn, I was barely scratching out a draw.

Overall, it was a fun game with an Army I hope to play a bit more. I might try some other fun units like a Treeman (the Wood Elf version of a Shaggoth), Treekin....maybe even a Great Eagle or two. I do like the army and, against all odds, LOVE my cheesy paint job. Designed to look like Autumn, the bright Orange and Jade Green really pop on the battlefield.


kennyB said...

Okey, a couple things :)
1. The casket was NOT on a hill. There was no hill on the field. It was in the middle of some rough terrain. We had a fence, 3 forests, 2 rough grounds, and a river on the field. Therefore, I had to keep my army maneuvered in such a way that it did not block line of sight from your troops for most of the battle. Not that it made a difference, as the casket is cast w/2d6 power lvl and you had 3 dispel dice.... O.O
2. The Tomb Prince and Liche Priest were in the unit of Tomb Guard, and the Heirophant manned the casket. I figured being in the back of the field with only a 10% chance of being hit by missile fire was his best bet at survival, and since when he dies the army falls apart I figured that was an appropriate tactic (shooting at a War Machine is 33% to hit the crew, and 33% of that to hit the Liche Priest/Hierophant b/c of 2 other crewman).
3. You neglected to mention that for table sides we both rolled 1's, then 6's, then you won the roll. It was pretty funny. =D

Darth Weasel said...

Well I feel better. I was writing this several days after the battle and from memory, that model looked so big I incorrectly remembered it sitting higher than everything else and assumed it was a hill. My bad, sorry about that.

I disagree that it mattered not, though...I did have to save Dispel for that and thus could not whittle your Tomb Guard unit nor stop the extra shooting and so forced me to alter my tactis not by what it did but by what it was capable of doing.

On the second, I forget the order of importance...although from what I have seen of the TK, it does not matter much. I think they will give the Orcs & Goblins a run for their money as hardest unit to win a game with. I hope I am wrong.

Yeah, I forgot the triple roll off. That was pretty awesome.

I agree with your placement of the Casket. I do not think you could have put it anywhere better and it was purely a numbers game that ended up hurting you as while my early shots hit irrelevant stuff, they hit what they needed to when they needed to.

I had not realized the game was so close, though. You very nearly had that game, although, as you point out, that was partially because I so badly wanted to get the Wardancers and Dryads into close combat.

Still, even if I lost I would do it again. No matter how bad they suck, I just want to love the Wardancers. *sigh* Some day they will justify my love.