Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warriors of Chaos Versus Dark Elfs: Disaster Round 4

I have fought the Dark Elf army three times; twice in "Warbands" games and once in a pitched battle. Two of them have been complete massacres where i did not score a point off them, the other I won after taking a great deal of damage but running him off the table in the final turn.

In short, between Fixed Dice's ability as a general and the Dark Elf book being far and away the most versatile one our group currently uses, they are very difficult for the Warriors of Chaos.

A lot of this is due to the inherent weaknesses of the WoC. With just a single glorified Stonethrower and the 6" throwing axes on the Marauder Horsemen, the WoC have no range. They struggle with any army with easy access to massive quantities of firepower...Dwarfs, all three Elf armies are bad match-ups.

Of course, to compensate for the lack of ranged weapons, WoC have access to some of the best magic in the game. Unfortunately, the ridiculously over-powered and under-priced Ring of Hotek for the Dark Elf army, the high-priced but deadly Null Stone, Vortex Shard and Annulian Crystals combine with Drain Magic to render magic at best unreliable and at worst more deadly to the WoC than to those two armies.

That means when I know I am specifically facing an Elf army, I have to find a way to neutralize their shooting without using the advantage I allegedly have against shooting magic. (You could probably add the MR Dwarf army to the list, except I have never lost to the Dwarfs and do not particularly fear them, which is a minority opinion in our group.)

One way would be a fast, nearly all-cavalry army.

(This is, from right to left, how I lined them up)
A unit of Marauder Horsemen with throwing axes should get to the inevitable Repeater Crossbows in about 2 turns. The Dragon Ogres can go after the Dragon/War Hydra/manticore and have a better than reasonable chance of doing some damage. The Knights, bolstered by Archaon the Over-priced...err, Everchosen, my beloved BSB making everyone within 6" stubborn, and a scroll caddy should handle the Cold One Riders, and the 2nd Marauder Horsemen should deal with any other Repeater Bolt Throwers, Repeater Crossbowmen, etc.

Meanwhile, Wulfrik and his band of Marauders can see where they will be most effective on the turn they arrive.

Facing them would be, from my left to right, Dark Riders, a unit of Cold One Knights, his chariot, the War hydra, Crone something or other, a couple units of Witch Elves with the Cauldron supporting them, and on the rolled-every-game-in-opponents-deployment-zone hill 2 Repeater Bolt Throwers with a unit of Witch Elfs to guard against Wulfrik.

By the way, this game came about because Fixed Dice and I came across a guy selling his models extremely cheaply, and we wanted to play his new models the Witch Elfs and Cauldron and Chariot. Unfortunately, many of the Witch Elfs were not yet dry but they look smurfing fantastic. I am jealous of his painting skills.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 1
I already made a mistake in my set-up. After I had set-up, I re-read Archaon's entry and realized I could not, in fact, put the BSB and Scroll Caddy in the Knights. So I lazily put them to the side instead of behind, thinking A) they still could not get charged and B) keeping los for my scroll caddy might matter...ironically, both wizards rolled the exact same spells; Infernal Gateway and the Magic Missile.

I did not want him to charge, so advanced about 12" thinking he had M5 across the board, forgetting the Hydra and Chariot would have better movement, and forgetting the Cold Ones had 7". So on top of two set-up mistakes (my Knights should have been on the left by the Marauders), I made a mathematical, lazy error.

Against some opponents, I may or may not get away with that. I would argue the best player in our group is Fixed Dice...and against a superior general and army, I have to play flawlessly. This would cost me.

I sent my right flank marauders far off to the right after the Bolt Throwers.

Magic was unbelievably kind to me. Sure, my Infernal failed to cast, and I rolled a "1" to cast the magic missile, but my scroll caddy got it off successfully and slew 6 Witch Elfs. For me, that is a spectacular success.

Dark Elf Turn 1
He uses the Cauldron to give the War hydra a 5+ Ward Save. With high T, Regeneration and a Ward, the Hydra will be tough indeed to hurt. His Cold ones charge my Marauder Horsemen after Malus invoking his special rule that I thought meant he would attack one of his own guys every turn.

I debated for a while; if I fled the Marauders, he would probably re-direct onto the Dragon Ogres. I have no unit that can stand up to a Cold One Charge (the way he normally builds the unit...I end up facing approximately 3,000 S6 attacks that allow no armor save and he has rank bonuses, banner bonuses, and a static combat resolution score of 70 or may sound like hyperbole, but it doesn't feel like it) whereas if I let him kill my 86 point unit, it will force him to over-run and take him out of the battle long enough for me to use my Archaon-fueled Knights to rampage through his Witch Elves. So I stand and shoot.
And, in a shocking development, actually slay one of his Cold ones coming in.
Meanwhile, the frenzied Crone hellebron hits my carelessly placed Sorcerer.
he also moves the 2 remaining Witch Elfs in front of the knights and angles the chariot to flank the inevitable Dragon Ogre charge on the Hydra.
His Hydra then wounds the Dragon ogres twice with his breath, the RBT, one of them fires and kills two Marauder Horsemen, the other wounds a Knight with multi-fire, but I save it. Sweet, a good break.
Meanwhile, close combat goes about as expected. Malus and his mount alone kill all 5 Horsemen and he over-runs.
The Crone hits 6 times in 8 tries, the sorcerer folds like a cheap suit and he over-runs into my badly placed BSB.

The situation after one turn

Warriors of Chaos Turn 2
I ponder. I could avoid the front 2 Witch Elfs and hit the ones behind...but I would only have contact with 2 or 3 of them. With the Hydra being effectively unkillable, I figure the Dragon Ogres will be locked with him and protect my flank. So I will charge the 2, kill them, over-run into the Witch Elfs behind and do them in a turn, running through into the Cauldron. His Cold ones will have to take a turn to turn around, the Crone will over-run this turn and take at least 2 turns to be a problem, and that means for a couple turns the RBT are not a problem, by which time Wulfrik will arrive and deal with them.
And Wulfrik arrives this turn.
So I charge the 2 man unit.
And get lazy. I initially bring Wulfrik on the right flank, just where I should...I figure to hit his first RBT and slay them turn 1, allowing me to over-run into RBT two and, at that point, probably get flanked by his Witch Elves but I should be in decent shape against them.
However, the awkward hill edge frustrates me, so I move to the edge behind him, it is hard to place the models, so I move them over behind the Cauldron. Pure laziness, bad play, and irrelevant...because on this turn, things going good will mean things go bad.
See, the Dragon Ogres do what they should....they wound the Hydra 7 times. With S7 and 10 attacks, that is not a big surprise. Of course, the Hydra then regenerates 3 and ward saves a 4th, but I get 3 wounds through. He wounds back 3 times, I roll well and save 2. His handlers hit 4 times, somehow, needing 5s, wound 3 times...and I save 2. Sweet, I win. He tests on an 8, fails, runs 10" and I follow and catch him.

This was a disaster. I needed to tie or lose this combat, as my BSB was still alive and I would re-roll test on stubborn, protecting my flank. Now the Chariot had a clear line of sight to my flank.
The "mighty" Archaon does kill both Witch Elfs...barely. Between he and Dorgar, I have 10 S5 attacks and need all of them to kill 2 Witch Elfs. Uh oh. Still, I over-run into the second line, but at this point, though I do not fully realize it, the game is over.

in the least shocking event this side of a politician lying, the Crone gets mass over-kill on my BSB and over-runs.

Dark Elf Turn 2
His Chariot flank-charges the Knights, the Witch Elfs on the hill get ready to counter-charge my Marauder Horsemen (who had gotten to the hill...their axes were ineffective, hitting the Bolt Thrower instead of the crew), the Crone flies back to get right behind my Knights, and his Dark Riders prove the effectiveness of their shooting, putting 2 wounds in three tries on the Dragon Ogres.
The RBT both fire at the Marauders with Wulfrik, proving surprisingly inept and doing just 3 casualties.
Unfortunately, his impact hits take place before my Knights attack the Witch Elfs. The Cauldron gave the Chariot Killing Blow, and it kills 2 Knights, then I roll a "1" to fail to save a third hit. Three Knights down.
I forget to have Archaon invoke his sword, and he and Dorgar combine to, with 10 S5 attacks against a lowly Witch Elf champ, do just 3 wounds. The Knight and Knight Champ combine to do all of 2 more wounds and their horses do 3. His Witch Elf then kills a Knight, I lose the combat by one because that last wound kills my standard bearer and he has a instead of him taking break tests with Witch Elfs and Chariots, I take a re-rollable break test on a 9...and fail it twice.

At this point, I have 1 Dragon Ogre, 2 Marauder Horsemen, 12 Marauders and Wulfrik left. The Hag with the Cauldron removes all rank bonuses, outnumbering and so forth....the game is really over. We pack it in with the result I always expect against the Dark Elfs, a Massacre in their favor.
Not that I mind...this was a fun game, I win way more than my share, and I was outplayed in the following areas:
- army composition
- deployment
- maneuver
Plain and simple, his army build was better than mine. Once again, I had no way of dealing with a flyer and carelessness needlessly exposed my BSB. Had his crone had to charge my Dragon Ogres or Knights, I probably have at least a chance of killing her, which would help a lot. But I gave him a better target, he prudently took it.
My laziness with the Wulfrik brigade in effect cost me maybe 200 points...maybe not because his Witch Elfs in my flank would not be good for me.
In maneuver, I thought I was getting what I wanted, but when I was too successful (Dragon Ogres running the Hydra) it let him get the charge on my important unit. Impact hits with Killing Blow is exactly what my Knights cannot afford.
So I was out-built, out-played, and took exactly what I should have taken.
And I learned a couple things. Archaon would be quite viable at maybe 350 or 400 points. At 685 he is ridiculously over-priced and much better in theory than in practice.
The other stuff I will keep to myself...but the clues are there :-)
All in all, a fun game and a good afternoon.


kennyB said...

I did find a paragraph that answers our question about whether or not the Impact Hits receive
killing blow from the blessing:

"Note that mounts and creatures pulling a chariot are not affected by the blessings."

So since the chariot is a mount it would seem killing blow would not affect the impact hits.

Still, nailing 6 Flank Impact Hits is guaranteed to do damage and I am now in LoVe with my chariot. <3 Just glued the rider on it last night! ^^ Glued the arms onto the Hydra Handlers too! Next time, more painted! Maybe in time for the "everyman" game... ;)

kennyB said...

Oh yeah, here's my army list if anybody is interested:

Crone Hellebron, the Hag Queen on Manticore - 550/550

Death Hag w/Cauldron of Blood, Rune of Khaine, and Witchbrew - 250/800

Malus Darkblade on Spite - 275/1,075

Core 1 - 15 Witch Elves w/Full Command, Hag has Rune of Khaine - 200/1,275

Core 2 - 8 Witch Elves w/Musician - 85/1,360

Core 3 - 8 Witch Elves w/Musician - 85/1,445

Rare 1 - War Hydra - 175/1,620

Rare 2 - 2 Reaper Bolt Throwers - 200/1,820

Special 1 - Cold One Chariot - 100/1,920

Special 2 - 5 Cold One Knights w/Full Command, Dreadknight has Ring of Hotek - 200/2,120

Core 4 - 5 Dark Riders w/Repeater Crossbows and a Herald - 124/2,244

Total: 2,244

kennyB said...

I built it by choosing what I wanted and then supplementing it like this:
I knew I wanted to use my new Cauldron, and I figured Witch Elves would fit well with it because I could use it to give them each 4 attacks, or 3 with Killing Blow. The 5+ ward save is nice especially if you're completely unarmoured. So to supplement the witch elves who better than Crone Hellebron? So Crone goes in first, and I've used her without her mount before which severely limited her survival and effectiveness, a mistake I don't plan on ever making again. Next was a Death Hag so I could take the Cauldron, and I supplemented her with both the Rune of Khaine for more attacks and Witchbrew in case somebody sent multiple attackers at it. Next came Malus because I assumed I would be putting in a unit of Cold Ones, as I don't have many other choices that can hit hard and fast, and they are the only unit in my army book with decent armour! And I don't like taking CoK without limiting or removing the Stupidity. I figured I would save my final Hero slot for after I had built up the army so I could put in whatever fit best, a Hag Standard Bearer, or a CoK Standard Bearer, a Scroll Caddy, or what. So I pushed that off to the end. I knew I wanted Witch Elves for the majority of my core troops so I took a big block of 15 to do the head to head damage, a unit of 8 to flank after the big unit took a charge, and another unit of 8 either for the other flank or to protect my War Machines. Next I had been working on my Hydra and Handlers a LOT so I knew I wanted him. After that I figured I better have a hard hitting ranged attack that I could also count on to distract part of my opponents army. It was a tough choice taking one or two, but I have had no luck at all with just one, as it would be the only thing with large range 6 little bolts haven't done much for me, so I went for 2 Reapers as my 2nd Rare Slot. Next I had gotten a Chariot and had seen that in Europe, every army in the tournament lists I've seen has as many chariots as allowed. I've only played with the Tomb King Chariots which I have not done much damage with, so I was curious to see the difference in light chariots and heavy scythed chariots. So Special slot 1 goes to the Chariot. I was running low on points and the choices were getting smaller. I decided I would either have to remove Malus or add Knights, because when completely by himself he presents too much of a target, and with only 2 wounds and only a 3+ base armour save he is fragile in my eyes. So I took the minimum size unit of CoK, gave a full command to add front line attacks and SCR, and gave the Dreadknight the Ring of Hotek, not thinking that the unit would be removed from the main part of the battle for the entire game, from the very second that I placed them far on the flank. Now I was down to 130 points. I looked at my heroes.

kennyB said...

I knew I had very little shooting, so I debated the best way to add effective shooting to my army. I could take a Hero, give him a magic bow and stick him on a horse, but that would have been only 2 shots per turn, no chance of turning the tide of a battle but leaving the hero no other choice. I could add a unit of Crossbowmen, but not knowing the field I'd have no idea if they would get used. I considered shades but I could only take a few of them as well and same thing applies, they might get position to help and the might not. With such a small quantity of shooting, I didn't want to chance it. I considered taking Black Guard because I love them, but they didn't really fit any of my needs. So I went with 5 Dark Riders figuring they could shoot, or bolster another unit by flanking the enemy and adding to CR or removing it from my opponent. Guaranteed to have available shots both for shooting and charging, they fit the bill perfectly. And that is how I ended up with the list I fielded. The Chariot ended up worth it's weight in gold. Automatic hits coming from a fast moving War Machine with Strength 5 is devestating. And that's before the crew and monsters pulling it attack. The Cauldron gave the Hydra additional saves, gave all the witch elves and the Crone Stubbornness, and bolstered the Chariot, although as I have found now, illegally. I think it was worth taking, at least in this list. I will field it again. The Hydra again did far less in direct, head to head points than it cost, but provided a fast moving hard to avoid target and so played out usefully. I wish he would do more direct damage for me but I plan on using him more. The witch elves never got a chance to really prove themselves, so I'm still in limbo about them.

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