Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Campaign Round 1: Empire Versus Chaos Dwarfs

When I rolled up who each army would be facing, one of the units I rolled was Chaos Dwarfs. I have been wanting to try them out, though it is slightly more difficult since one player in our group thinks they are even more imbalanced than I think one of the official army lists is (I actually so despise one of their magic items I have considered not playing against them, though ultimately I have not elected to go there) and does not want to play against them, so my pool of potential opponents is one smaller.

So naturally, I took them on. There were a few things working against me; I would have 500 points and would be facing 750 points, they are a different style from the other two armies I typically play...and the Inferno Golems, the unit I really want to play test a bit, were way out of reach in a 500 point army.

But there were some things going for me, as well. While they are slower than either the 5" Wood Elf move or the awesome Chaos knight Cavalry charge, they do combine the ability to ramble 6" per turn with T4 and generally heavy or Chaos Armor, thus providing a rugged, tortoise style army. Plus they have the Eruption Gun.

They needed something to deal with monsters, so I started with a Chaos Dwarf Slavemaster with the Axe of ghorth, which meant he did not need to roll to wound.

Next I took something like 25 Chaos Dwarf Warriors with Chaos Armor and shield before re-thinking it. The idea was to provide a game somewhat softer than normal for my opponent, not have a bunch of hard-core, tough to wound killers. Plus, that was a lot of points so I removed the Chaos armor and dropped their unit size. After some fine-tuning, they would end up with 15 of them, including a Champion. By putting the Slave-master in this unit, they could lose a guy and still have 2 ranks.

They allowed me to take an Eruption gun, one of the controversial Dwarf units. At first it was thought to be identical to an Organ Gun, which would mean it was ridiculously under-priced at 45 points. Closer examination reveals it has a BS3 and suffers modifiers to its shots which means it has 0-10 shots that never have better than 50% chance to deal out S4 hits. Still seems a bit under-priced at 45 points, but we will see.

Next I took 10 Chaos Dwarf Annihilators, another controversial choice that seems perhaps over-powered.

Finally, I was able to take 6 Obsidian Guard as my elite unit.

I would be facing 750 points of Empire madness.

The field would encourage a melee in the center as there was rough ground on my right flank protecting a tower, and beyond that a small stream that would inhibit movement. To my left were a pair of forests opposite a hill. Oops, he won for table sides and I knew the cannon on the hill could be deadly.

Since I had no fast-moving troops, it would be 4 - 5 turns before I could get to the cannon (24" between us, 6" per turn max move) so that could be quite problematic.

He had a detachment of quarrelers butted up to the Cannon, then a big block of infantry, then a detachment of Free Company. finally, he placed his knights in the Stream, really the only place they could go. He won the first turn.

Empire Turn 1

The cannon would not move in the entire game. The parent unit and its detachments marched forward. the knights, hobbled by the stream, could only move 3-1/2" forward. Neither of us had magic, so shooting would be the fun phase.

This turn he could only fire his cannon. His range guess was excellent, the Artillery Dice kind, landing about an inch in front of my Warriors. Any 4, 6,8, or 10 would most likely do 4-5 wounds since his aim was perfect. He had a 66% chance of doing serious damage....and a 1-in-6 chance of what happened, the cannon ball sticking where it landed and doing nothing other than drawing an evil chortle from the chaos Dwarfs. Which is what happened. Ouch.

On the bright side, his Pegasus riding general, out ahead of the army, took a shot at the Eruption Gun...and wounded it.

Chaos Dwarf Turn 1

I marched the Warriors on my left wing and the Obsidian guard on my right the full 6". I moved the Blunderbuss 3" and took a shot at his Pegasus-riding General, but whiffed. The Eruption Gun stayed put to maximize its firing potential. It rolled a mighty 8 shots and, needing 5s to hit, hit 4 times, killing 2 of his big block.

Empire Turn 2

He made a slight advance, and his reasoning was not just sound, it was hilarious. "I guess I will stop here since getting charged by Dwarfs would just be humiliating."

Bwoohahahah, great line. Thanks, Fullur.

The Pegasus General flies behind my Warriors and shoots at the Eruption Gun, but somehow misses. then his Cannon...mis-fires. Fortunately, he rolls a 6 and will be able to fire it next turn.

Chaos Dwarf Turn 2

My Obsidian Guard makes just a 3" advance, as I do not want his detachment to charge with the Knights. I figure I can maybe survive a Knight charge, but would lose badly to a combined charge so I tried to stay out of range of the detachment.

Meanwhile, my Warriors march 6" again. I move the Annihilators just 3" so they can fire at the infantry block.

once again i roll an 8 on the artillery dice and, again needing 5s, hit 4 times and again wound 2 guys. The Blunderbusses, with S5 due to 2 ranks, also open fire on his unit...and proceed to do another 2 wounds. The unit takes 25% in this round...breaks and flees.

Empire Turn 3

He fails to rally. Whatever. The Knights charge my Obsidian Guard.

His cannon...for the second consecutive turn...mis-fires. In the interest of a better game (his cannon dropped the ball in the mud, mis-fired, and mis-fired) we make him re-roll, only to see it overshoot everybody.

His Quarreler detachment shoots down 2 Warriors and his Pegasus General shoots down the Eruption Gun.

Close Combat goes about as expected. His Knights kill one Obsidian Guard, they kill a Knight, are outnumbered, and needing an 8 roll an 11, epic fail. They flee but are over-run.

Chaos Dwarf Turn 3

Just a turn ago, it looked so good for me. Well, my Warriors charge his detachment, which flees...3". At first, I rolled the dice and thought I had caught them, but then we remembered I would only go my charge distance which lagged behind them by about an inch, so failed charge, I only go 3". His detachment lives.

I wheel the Blunderbuss unit to face the Knights who otherwise would be rear-charging me in about 2 turns.

Empire Turn 4

He initially fails both rally tests, but we take a good look at the dice. They have rolled 9 or higher 6 consecutive times. We remove the dice, have him re-roll and both units rally. His other detachment flank charges my Warriors, which I am not overly worried about.

Then his Pegasus shoots down a Blunderbuss, the Cannon does its first 2 casualties of the game against them, causing 25% to the unit...which promptly rolls an 11, flees, runs into the Knights and is wiped out.

In close combat, he kills 2 Warriors, who can do but one casualty in return. 2 casualties +flank beats one casualty + outnumber...I break, run, get over-run...and abruptly the game is over.


His dice rolling was appalling in this game. The 3 rounds of nothing from the cannon...the failing of EVERY SINGLE LEADERSHIP TEST until we made him re-roll...the Knights doing all of 1 wound...

While mine, on the other hand, was stupendous. I took 16 shots which should reasonably have had 5.3 hits...and got 8 out of it. Also, I should have averaged 5 shots per turn, so I got more than an extra turn of shooting out of the Eruption Gun, hit more often than it should.

I do think the Eruption gun is under costed by 5 points or so...it is pretty squishy for a War Engine, and I suspect will be pretty erratic over the course of time.

The Blunderbusses I think are pretty balanced. They are awesome against hoard type units and will pretty much be worthless against tough enemies unless I can keep them ranked up to get the strength bonus.

The Warriors I think are probably costed about right assuming regular Dwarf Warriors have WS4 as well, other wise I think they cost a point or 2 too many.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed playing as Dwarfs though and might take up the regular Dwarf army a bit more often. Assuming, of course, I can ever get the Gyrocoptor assembled...sometime after I get the dragon glued together, after I get the Juggernaut glued together. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the assembling portion of the hobby? I suck at it, and it really sucks a lot of the enjoyment of the game out of it for me. I might have to try and trade off some Blazer tickets to someone to pin them :-)

Over-all, i think the spirit of the game was held up. The idea was to ensure an Empire victory, and he only permanently lost one guy, so no real harm done and I think it was a pretty fun game.

Seeing his 10 man Free Company detachment make my 15 Warriors and Slavemaster run was pretty awesome, definitely a highlight of the day for me. I like seeing my opponents do well and after watching the Cannon do nothing all day...it was time.

Good game, massacre for the Empire.


Fullur said...

There were only nine in the free company. :P

I re-learned in this game that flying generals are just bad (of course I do not mean that they are actually bad, just that flying encourages me to use them poorly). They spend too much time away from the battle-line not lending the troops their leadership. Of course, most of the leadership failures would have been anyway, but it is still true.

Ironically, while it was disheartening to see my guys running off of the field, it would have changed the outcome of the battle very little had we kept the result when they did not rally. The Free Company took care of the Warriors, the Knights handled the Ebony Guard, the cannon scared off the annihilators, and the general took care of the eruption gun. The two cowardly units did nothing after rallying. The only difference is that I would have had to roll for each model in the units and likely lost one or two more permanently.

Darth Weasel said...

ouch...so you did not even have a rank bonus. I remember thinking when you charged that I wish you had not, because I honestly thought my Warriors would not only win the combat, but win handily and you would have nothing left, but now my Warriors would be more towards the center of the field, ready to face your depleted parent unit.

I was disproportionately pleased to see the free detachment actually capable of dealing damage in that spot and it gives me great hope for the Empire.

As for the General...I think he was very useful in sniping the Eruption Gun and, against most armies, march blocking...though your point is well taken. If you can get a 2nd hero who takes that responsibility, then your general will have the mobility he needs to be where he needs to be. Having a Battle Standard Bearer would help as well with re-rolls.

Overall, I really enjoyed the game and hope you did as well.

kennyB said...

I suppose I should play a few games against the Chaos Dwarves before I write them off. It just seems like they took a LOT of what makes the dwarves good, and added more including several options for better moving troops and magic, which were the Dwarves' achilles. And add to that things like having a squad of shooters that have the highest damage ranged troops(not tied for, HAVE at str 5), who have an equal to or better chance to hit, and can multi shot infinitely against large squads with no additional to hit or strength modifier, and you start to get into some pretty iffy territory. The highest strength ranged weapons (not artillery) I know of are Dwarf Guns: str 4; Wood Elves at 1/2 range, str 4; and regular Crossbows, str 4; The strength of close shot weapons tends to be even lower, like Lizardmen, 8" range str 3; Ogre multi-shot gun, 12" range str 3; and they both have a harder time hitting. Shoot, even Elven Repeater Bolt Throwers only have strength 4 and that's artillery! Then again, with how ineffective the lizardmen's shooting seems to be perhaps I give it too much credit, even with the Str 5 no penalty multi shot against squads...at the very least, it's disconcerting. At the worst, it's horribly unbalanced. But then, how will I know unless I participate? So all I request is that it is in an even game, and one where I build a play the Dark Dwarves and my opponent plays the other side, so I can see from the player's side how good or bad they are. Speaking of which, anyone up for a game against the Dark Dwarves on the 24th? 2k+?

kennyB said...

Or tomorrow (October 16th). I don't have anything going on and got the okay from the wife so if anybody wants to play me let me know. I can play Dark Elves or Tomb Kings with no notice, or Dark Dwarves or Regular Dwarves with about 1 1/2 or 2 hours notice.

Fullur said...

I would be up for a game against the Chaos Dwarfs. I do not think I can make it tomorrow though. :(

Darth Weasel said...

Aha! I see an error I made. The Annihilators have base strength THREE not four, so with the rank bonus, the shots should have been S4, not S5. So their 12" range weapon has base 3, but if I have 10 models ranked up it becomes S4 and if I have 15 it then becomes S5. Keeping 15 guys untouched long enough to get across the field to get off that shot is going to be a rare, rare occurrence.

Notwithstanding, they do have the potential to be very, very powerful.

At the same tiem, Chaos Dwarfs lose the Magic Resistance and runes in exchange for one bound spells with power level 5, lose the +1 to hit of handguns, lack the artillery of regular dwarfs, and have hobgoblins as troop options. So from where I sit, they took away a lot of what makes Dwarfs good, added some stuff to replace it, and made them much more of a short-range oriented army that has a harder time hitting.

In defense of them being overpowered, with just a couple of rolls different I felt like I could have massacred a larger force which was hampered by few shooting troops and those it did have performed miserably so it could turn out they are poorly costed.

I would really like to see the Colossus Tower and Inferno Golems in action as those to me seem like far and away the strongest options the Chaos Dwarfs offer, though 330 points for 10 S3 shooting attacks with a range of 12" and no attacks by the tower seems questionable for 330 points.

I do think the various army designs do seem to try to put one overpowered, under costed unit or item in virtually every list. For High Elfs it would be RBT and their Always Strikes First Great Weapons. For Warriors of Chaos it would be anyone who can reliably get off Infernal Gateway. For the Lizardmen it would be the Engines. For the Ogres..okay, so they stiffed the Ogres, Goblins, Tomb Kings, and Wood Elfs... so even if the Annihilators did prove unreasonably costed, I think it would be balanced by their overall list which the more I examine it seems to hit pretty much where they tried to design it. Mid-tier; should prove a good game against the Ogres, should beat the goblins and Tomb Kings, lose to all the Elf and Knight-based armies, and not sure what would happen against Skaven or Lizardmen.

Cannot make it out tomorrow, and now next Saturday is in doubt.