Played in I believe 4 games Saturday, 3 for our Small Campaign and one for our big campaign. If I ever start writing a campaign history for the big campaign like I am in the early stages of doing for our small campaign (the intro is at the bottom, the beginning of the tale of Captain Nemo above it, so you actually need to read the bottom post first if you really want to waste your time reading my fiction, then this battle will have a place.
Part of the campaign philosophy is resource building, and part of it is attrition. Essentially, the idea is for each person to have a few turns to build a power base before we start fighting each other. Each territory allows x amount of troops to be maintained, and you always fight SOMEONE when you enter a territory...but if none of the other players owns it or is moving there, then we fight random armies.
Since our starting War banners have 2250 and the size army they will face ranges from 1750 all the way up to 3500, most of the time the players will face armies smaller than their own, though there is always the danger they will face a larger army.
So one of the players NOT involved in that territory plays a randomly rolled size/type army. We know going in we will most likely lose, so the goal is to give the opponent the best game possible and, in our own interest, to cause as many casualties as possible in hopes they will be "permanent" casualties that will slow the opponent by making his army smaller.
The object then for the real player, as opposed to the "neutral" player, is two-fold;
1, be sure to win the battle so you get the points for the territory you will capture!
2, minimize the casualties you take.
Obviously, the closer you are to home, the easier it will be to replace casualties. The further from home you get, the harder it will be to replace the odd Chaos Knight or Wood Elf Spellsinger if they fall in battle.
I had never played the Tomb Kings and wanted to give them a shot.
Funny thing is, in our gaming group people have a very low opinion of them even though many people on the tournament scene consider them mid-tier.
And that brings me to another side-bar, of the type I am unfortunately famous for.
Types of players.
We like to think of ourselves as a pretty laid-back group. A daemons of chaos army with 2 bloodthirsters and a host of their other power units would be looked upon with much suspicion. On the other hand, a host of Night Goblins with minimal to no fanatic and war machine support is considered great fun, if hopeless and anyone ever played it.
A level up from us would be the people with 70+ shot armies (any of the 3 Elf armies, the Dwarfs, etc) or 12+ Power Dice type armies that are much tougher lists to play both as and against.
Another level up would be the comped tournament scene where double-Steam Tank lists might win every game and finish towards the bottom of the standings, as tournament organisers seek to balance the inherent flaws in the army books that allow some pretty powerful builds.
And at the top would be the no-holds-barred, bring that 4-Dragon High Elf list with 8 Bolt throwers and the rest all Knights.
Why do I sketch out these things?
because how you play has a direct and decisive link to how good an army is.
For example, our group has at least 3 views on tiers:
1) High Elf, Dwarf, Dark Elf, Wood Elf
2) Lizardmen, Warriors of Chaos, Empire, Skaven
3) Vampire Counts, Bretonnians
4) Ogre Kingdoms, Orcs and Goblins, Tomb Kings
1) Dark Elf, Dwarf, Wood Elf
2) Lizardmen, Warriors of Chaos, Vampire Counts, Dwarf
3) Bretonnians, Empire, Skaven
4) Ogre Kingdoms, Orcs and Goblins, Tomb Kings
1) Dark Elf
2) Wood Elf, Warriors of Chaos
3) Dwarfs, Bretonnians, Lizardmen
4) Skaven, Empire, Tomb Kings
5) Orcs and goblins, Ogre kingdoms
Those lists may not be 100% the feeling, but they are pretty close to what I have picked up in discussions. Now, if you are familiar with the tourney scene, you might notice a few huge discrepancies:
- Vampire Counts a low tier? Dwarfs and Wood Elfs mid-to high tier? WoC that high? NO Daemons at all?
And that brings me back to the original point. The way we play, certain armies simply are ineffective, and others are hugely effective.
Does not mean our tiers are right or wrong, nor that the way we currently play is right or wrong. Just means the altered perceptions/expectations make for some interesting match-ups.
Well, my brother Fixed Dice was good enough to build the 1750 Tomb King list and I went to face kev's Ogre Kingdom 2250 War Banner
Tyrant -Cathayan Longsword, Sword of Battle, Gut Maw, Daemon-Killer Scars, Sword Gnoblar x2
Bruiser BSB - War Banner, Lt. Armor, Ogre Club
Bruiser - Sword of Might, Cathayan Longsword, Bullgut, Sword Gnoblar x2
Gnoblar Fighters x20 - Handweapons, Sharp Stuff
Gnoblar Fighters x20 - Handweapons, Sharp Stuff
Ironguts x5 - GW, HA, Bellower, Unit Standard
Ironguts x4 - GW, HA, Bellower, Unit Standard
Leadbelchers x4 - Lt. Armor, Leadbelcher Cannon
Maneaters x2 - Cathayan Longsword, Lt. Armor
Ironically, I know his list better than mine, but mine was more or less:
Tomb Prince with flying cloak and item giving him 4+ Ward
Liche Priest on skeletal steed
Liche Priest with Casket of souls
20 tomb guard with full command
The field had a big corner hill on the left with rough ground half way across the table and about 12" in from the edge, a forest and other assorted terrain on the right that essentially closed it off meaning the game would be fought in the middle and left flank.
For scenario we rolled and he chose Break-through, which meant he needed to get 3+ US5 units off my side of the table for outright win, or if not then standard VPs.
Unlike most games, I figured with 500 fewer points and playing as the Tomb Kings, this would not be a particularly good game, so I took neither notes not pictures. Check out butts vente vente, as some might say (hindsight is 20-20 is the more normal phrasing).
Knowing he had to come to me and with the Casket of Souls planted on the hill to my left, I put the Tomb Guard next to it, then the 31 Skeletons with an 11 wide front, then the 10 wide archers in line to their right, with the Tomb Scorpion behind the archers and the Bone Giant between the Tomb Guard and Casket.
On my left flank he put a couple units of Bulls, a Slave Giant all angling to circle the rough ground. In the center he had Leadbelchers behind about 8 bulls or Ironguts or something. Beside them he put his Scraplauncher, then his Maneaters were more or less opposite the 10 archers on my right flank.
Tomb King Turn 1
Since I had planted the Casket on the hill, I knew my best chance for an upset would be doing mass damage in the first turn or two. I advanced the Bone Giant towards the left, hoping to cut off and bottle up his Bulls. If I could engage one unit, it would keep about 6 Bulls and his Slave Giant bottled up and allow me to concentrate on the rest of his force. It had a chance of nullifying the points disadvantage.
I advanced both units of Skeletons 2": If we both started at the 12" in deployment line, 1" would have been plenty but our group habitually throws the opponent off by stepping back a quarter inch, half inch, even a full inch or two to make shooting impossible or at least more difficult. The Tomb Scorpion started circling the right flank.
Time for the magic phase. I was going to take it slow since I did not really know the army. First, I did the one that lets the skeletons fire: he feared the Casket, had but 2 Dispel Dice, so let everything go but the Casket.
And so began some of the most effective shooting I ever hope to see.
Everyone has their own theory. Some spread out their shooting. I try to wipe out units because I do not trust even LD3 units to fail their tests. So I fired the 11 at his maneaters and got off a wound. Then the 10 guys got an extra firing and also wounded it. I was pretty ecstatic.
I still had some magic left, but at this point the only option was moving stuff. I advanced the Bone Giant a bit more, then made a huge mistake.
Not because I thought it was a good idea or because I needed to, but just because I still had an incantation to use, I moved my 31 skeletons back to their original location...and thus out of range for the shooting phase. Idiot.
Unfamiliarity with the army. Boo hiss.
Well, then it was time for the casket. I rolled...2 "4" results, a respectable 8 total. He picked up his two dice, rolled, the first one fell...a "4". The second one fell...a "4". yep, 4 out of 4 dice rolled a 4.
Oh well, in the shooting phase, the 10 Skeleton unit made me forget my blunder by actually putting enough wounds on the Maneater unit to kill one...and the other promptly failed its panic test, turned, and ran right off the board!
Great start for me, lousy start for Kev.
Ogre Kingdom Turn 1
His bulls came up and the front unit got past the rough ground, but just as I hoped the back unit was stuck behind the rough ground and the first unit. Everyone else came right up the middle. He had no Magic, and the Leadbelchers were covered, so he only fired with the scraplauncher.
After some hasty calculations, he said, "I think you are 18" away, so I will guess 16" and it will scatter on to you." Then he aimed it at the 31 skeletons, measured, and sure enough, 16" put the template where the edge was about a quarter inch shy of touching. And naturally on the scatter dice he rolled a "hit" result. Otherwise it would have scattered 10".
Not a very effective turn for the Ogres, though really, there was not much else he could do. He was doing everything right, but the results were not panning out. Which, by the way, is why we all think the Ogre kingdoms are below average. Their results are pretty sub-standard.
Tomb King Turn 2
Bone Giant charged the Bulls. I moved the Tomb Scorpion around the 10 skeletons, then retreated them 2". I wanted to make him take as long as possible to get the charge on me.
Magic: First I tried to give the Bone Giant an extra attack. He decided he could not stop the Casket again, so stopped that instead, then stopped some movement thing I think, but both the 31 and 10 archers fired again. With a few exceptions, I was hitting ridiculous numbers..like, needing 5s to hit, on 11 dice I got 7 or 8 hits about 4 or 5 times. A couple of times I got only 1. But overall, I am sure the dice favored me in the shooting phase.
Anyway, in the Magic shooting, I put a wound or two on his Bulls, then used the Movement one to move the Tomb Scorpion into his Bulls. Normally I would not make that charge...but in this game, my goal was to inflict casualties, not make combo-charges and win.
The Casket went off and was absolutely devastating. Almost every unit took a couple of wounds, and the Scraplauncher took so many it was utterly destroyed (and I just noticed...we neglected to have units within 6" take LD tests...which is just as well, as it was a close-run thing anyway)
Shooting was good to me again, as I think I took out 1 or 2 Bulls in this turn. That is pretty good for shots needing 5s to hit and 5s to wound, then he having 6+ or 5+ saves. He did make a fair few saves in the game, but he failed a fair number as well.
Anyway, close combat was cool.The Bone Giant hit on all 4 attacks despite needing 4s, (yes, he should have had 5 attacks...*sigh*...not knowing the army) but of his second 4, only one could hit, it wounded, but I could not hit again. Still, 5 wounds in one charge...I was not complaining. I did take one wound back, but he failed the LD test and fled through the unit behind it. Which failed its test and fled. With them bouncing into and through each other, they ended up fleeing about 12" on a 3" and 7" roll, which meant I caught neither, but I was just fine with that. I was not just bottle-necking that flank, I was rolling it up.
Meanwhile, the Tomb Scorpion did a couple wounds, but lost to his Battle Standard and outnumbering. Might even have taken a wound?
Ogre Kingdom Turn 2
With his own right wing (my left) in shambles and the Tomb Scorpion threatening to jam up the middle, he had to take some desperate measures...like charging the Scorpion in the flank with Gnoblars. His Slave Giant then charged my Bone Giant.
Everyone else tried to advance up the middle, but it was really a choke point, held up by the rough ground on my left and battle involving the Tomb Scorpion on the right.
In close combat, his Giant did the one where he auto-wounds me and I get no attacks. So I lost the combat there. The same result was rolled the next turn.
Meanwhile, his Gnoblars surprisingly failed to wound the Tomb Scorpion (it has become a running joke that Gnoblars are the deadliest OK unit as they have killed the Dark Elf special Assassin, the named one, and held up Slayers and Dwarf Warriors, killed a Chaos Warrior, and just generally been awesome).
I then had a choice; try to hit an Ogre or hope I could slay 4 Gnoblars to draw the combat if I was not wounded by the Ogres? I chose that route, but could only slay two of the little boogers. His Ogres duly failed to wound (almost not even hitting!) but he still won the combat by 3 or 4, the Scorpion crumbled to Combat Resolution. His Gnoblars then over-ran, trying to get clear of the Bulls, but their poor roll put them squarely in front. He was still bottled up.
By now I was wishing I had been taking notes as things started to run together in my head. So I will summarize:
The center of the field saw his Goblars pin him in place for my shooting while his left-flank Bulls managed to keep running and run right off the board. His Slave Giant and my Bone Giant beat up on each other for quite a while, until his Giant broke and, thanks to some Gnoblars, escaped my pursuit which instead hit the Gnoblars.
At some point I got the one through that heals, got it through twice and got the Giant down from I think 4 wounds to just one.
Meanwhile, his Gorger came on, but the Casket went off and one-turn killed it. Kev was quite unlucky with big, important units like his Gorger and Scraplauncher doing nothing, both being destroyed by the Casket.
Naturally the Giant beat the Gnoblars, who ran, allowing me to charge his by now badly wounded Giant. I finished it off.
At some point, my Tomb Guard flank-charged his big unit. I whiffed completely. He did a couple or 6 wounds back, one the combat, and got his big hitters facing me. Next turn he did like 15 casualties, the unit melted. He finally was on the board! Well, okay, he had the Scorpion points, but this added about 371 points or so, giving him maybe 500?
The only other success he had was the bull unit that had beaten my Scorpion got around the Gnoblars, charged the 10 Skeletons, wiped them out. He elected to leave the table with them as this happened on turn 4 and he did not think he would need them, but that was before his Giant broke.
Also at some point he finally got to fire with the Leadbelchers, getting a whopping 24 shots...but only doing like 2 or 3 casualties.
Tomb King Turn 6
I hastily totaled up the points I had given up. Not many. He really, really needed to do lots of damage to win. I was winning, and pretty handily at this point. Actually, I was winning by enough that he probably needed to get three units off the board to win or else completely wipe out my Giant, 31 man unit, and find a way to kill my Tomb Prince or Liche Priest.
So I moved my 31 skeletons back 2", hoping he could overrun them and get off the board. Later, a couple measurements showed that move took them out of his charge range, so I undid that move to ensure he got the charge. On the dark side, that meant I was more than 12" from the table edge, so he was absolutely going to have to score big on his turn.
Ogre Kingdom Turn 6
To be honest, at this point I was feeling somewhat bad. Yes, I wanted to do a few casualties. But the toll was too heavy...
- Slave Giant
- 2 3-Bull Units
- several other Bulls or Ironguts to shooting
- A full unit of Gnoblars
Even worse, though I did not know the exact standings, I had a sinking feeling that I was winning. The only points I had given up this point were the Tomb Scorpion, Tomb Guard, and 10 Skeletons...maybe 600 points?
Time to do what the Starving Crazed Weasels do best; cheat in our opponents' favor :-)
This is when I undid the move of my 31 skeleton block to ensure he got a chance at them. He was going to do nothing with his Gnoblars, until I pointed out they could get lucky with sharp stuff and might do 5 wounds (I forgot he only needed to do 2 to get at least half points). Also, we debated if some or all Gnoblars could throw, with him arguing 2 ranks, me arguing all ranks. I won.
That is one reason I love this group. If we were actually hyper-competitive, we would have been on the opposite side, as both of us were arguing for the good of our opponent. Funny stuff.
So of course he charges with both Leadbelchers and the big unit.
The Gnoblars through their shiny stuff and, when the dust cleared, did 2 wounds...taking me to 3, giving him 1/2 points for the Giant. Huzzah!
I have seen the Ogres in battle several times. I have not been impressed. Until this one.
His Bull Charge took out about 7 or 8 guys. He declared a challenge. I asked how many attacks he had. With Sword-Gnoblars, 8. I pointed out that if I accepted the challenge, the most Overkill he could get was 5, whereas if I refused it, he would have the potential to get the full 8. I actually thought little enough of Ogre effectiveness to think the chance of the extra three might matter. Silly Weasel.
So I moved the champ to the back and he proceeded to kill5 rank and file...I should have stayed in the challenge :-)
Then his other guys went to work. When the dust cleared, he had done something like 26 casualties. The last couple Skeletons crumbled.
When we totaled up the points, we then used the chart for the smaller of the 2 armies, 1750. There are two ways to look at it:
1) If you interpret the rules strictly, We had a draw.
2) If you interpret them the Starving Crazed Weasel way, had he scored just 5 more points he would have scored a minor victory. Since you need a minor victory to take over a territory...we "discovered" 5 points he had earned and gave that to him. Because that's how we roll.
Yet his post-battle scsualty rolls were despicable.
Even though I mistakenly used the "Massacre" chart instead of "minor Victory" chart, he had 20% better chance...and STILL lost the Giant, a couple Bulls, a Maneater and mAybe (?) the Scraplauncher.
Okay, this was a phenomenally fun battle.
I was helped by some spectacular rolls, no mistake about that as my shooting was far more effective than it should have been, the Casket took out two dangerous units in timely fashion (if his Gorger kills my Liche Priest on the Casket, he was my Hierophant, and my army would have crumbled very badly), and the Bone Giant was awesomeness personified.
He was single-handedly responsible for 6 Ogre Bulls, a Unit of Gnoblars, and the Slave Giant. He also single-handed defended an entire flank.
On the flip side, I badly-mis-played the Scorpion, forgetting he would take wounds from CR. I should have combo-charged him and the Tomb Guards. As it was, the Tomb Guards stunk up the joint as they attacked the wrong unit at the wrong time.
I have played against the Tomb Guard and as them. When I was against them, I could not do enough casualties to overcome their healing abilities and, despite inadvertently cheating (I was taking 5+ Ward Saves with Dryads and 6+ with Wardancers even though the magic weapons of the Tomb Guards cancel them out) was taking more casualties than I was doing anyway.
I think this speaks back to my initial discussion of tiers. In my hands, the Tomb Guard is a very sub-standard unit, but in the hands of someone who plays them correctly, they are excellent.
After the 2nd turn, the Casket was a non-factor as few of his units faced it, so had no line of sight and it was not problematic. However, when they were facing it and it went off, it made me go blind from overexposure to awesomeness, as if I were watching a Panda do Kung-Fu.
On the other side, there is very little Kev could have done different. I think about the only things I would have done different had to do with the Leadbelchers. If they had been able to shoot more than once, they might have been more effective, though their 12" range and the way the field got bottle-necked mean even that may not have been possible, and had they been anywhere else, he might not have gotten his mini-DeathStar unit into action. So it is probably not a good quibble.
Which says an awful lot about the Ogres.
Played about as well as they could be against an army 500 points lighter, they struggled all game long.
It is definitely a match-up I look forward to seeing other people play, as the Tomb Kings have some fun little toys like their Chariot units and Ushabti to go with the fun Bone Giant.
Good times had by all.
Except the dead models. They had no fun.
Oh, and final point? Had the Gnoblars not done those 2 wounds in the last turn...just sayin'. Sometimes games turn on seemingly small, insignificant things.
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