Friday, July 23, 2010

1K High Efl v. 1k Dwarf rematch

Anger was always near the surface with Rigal Rocksplitter, clan chief of the Hidden Caverns. When he heard of the defeat of a scouting party near the village of...he neither knew nor cared the name, come to think of the pointy-eared, effeminate elves, it got his blood to boiling.

It also gave him an opportunity to show his superiority over his twin, Lagir Rocksplitter. Always the twins competed...for the affection of their parents, for pre-eminence among the dwarfs of the Hidden Caverns, for the respect of the longbeards.

And hearing that the pointy-ears still held the village where Lagir had met defeat brought a smile to his face. He would avenge the defeat suffered by the forces of the Hidden Caverns...and make Rigal look inept in the process.

He assembled his forces and marched forth to wreak his vengeance.

Lately I have been playing a lot of 1K games, most of them with forces set up to be deliberately underpowered. The beauty of it is..against armies built the same way, it results in incredibly fun, entertaining games WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THOSE GAMES.

At the same time, there is something missing...having no fliers, little to no magic, and using sub-par units almost exclusively takes a certain something away from the overall flavor of the game.

I think both types of games have a place...

Well, we had a day set up where Fixed Dice and Liam would face off over 3K of awesomeness, but Kev would have just a short time to Fullur and I decided on a re-match of the game referenced in the flavor at the opening of this post.

In retrospect, I think the first time we played I counted on him needing 5s to wound and me having 5+ saves or better to eliminate the need for tactics. This time, I set up a bit more strategically.

First, I won the choice of sides and took the more open side this time. Second, I lined up 20 Thunderers across to whittle down his forces a bit as he came across the field, then backed them up with the Grungi-runed Hammerers to provide a ward save against High Elf shooting. The Warriors angled to face his Knights where they were set up, and this time I set the Rangers further back into the forest.

The plan was simple: make him come to me (good Dwarf strategy), whittle down his numbers with S4 shooting, when he inevitably wiped out a unit of Thunderers, I would have Hammerers to withstand the charge and then wreck the pointy-eared close combat blocks.

Meanwhile, the Rangers would pseudo-march block his White Lions and hopefully evade them for the entire battle instead of letting him wipe them out in one spectacular charge.

I won the roll and...what? went FIRST? There is a nickel in the Stupidity Fund. For whatever reason I thought his archers had 30" range so I was going to march forward, then when he climbed the hill, I would get first shot.

Dwarf Turn 1
I moved the Rangers back 1-1/2" in the forest...yeah, that would be a fast move! :-) Then marched everything forward.

High Elf Turn 1
He pretty much followed my plan for him, bringing his Dragon princes around the left flank, advancing the Lothern Sea guard and Repeater bolt thrower on top of the hill, moving his White Lions towards the forest and marching his Spearmen forward.

Dwarf Turn 2
I retreated the Rangers another 1-1/2". I let fly with 20 thunderers and watched gleefully as something like 8 Spearmen went down. Ah, yes...this was dwarf-like!

time to take some casualties off the table!

High Elf Turn 2
And now my nefarious plan began to evidence. His Swordsmen were too far from me to see me in the forest due to the 2" rule...but had to stop 1" away. Slowness, they name is High Elfs...
However, he cleverly advanced his spearmen in such a way that only one unit of thunderers would be able to fire. Very crafty, young padawan.

His shooting began to tell, now, as a few Dwarf Thunderers fell to his Repeater Bolt Thrower and Sea Guard.

Dwarf Turn 3
I continued my stall on the right flank, advancing to the rear another 1-1/2" I also reformed my right-most Thunderers to face outside the forest. Perhaps I would be able to enfilade his White Lions in a turn or two...
I also set up my Hammerers, anticipating his Spearmen would break my Thunderers, but planning to flank charge them.
My shooting was point-blank but far less lethal.

High Elf Turn 3
For the briefest moment, Fullur thought he was using the Warriors of Chaos. His Spearmen and Dragon Princes charged the Thunderers and Dwarf Warriors respectively.

He began shooting down my Hammerers and I continued to fail save after save (in the entire game I successfully made I believe 2 of nearly 30 5+ save attempts...)
Close combat went better than expected. He failed to wound a single Thunderer...and in return I did him the courtesy of wounding not one spearmen. I broke to combat resolution and my ploy worked to perfection...he was stuck right in front of the deadly Hammerers.
The Dragon Princes did a couple wounds, but the rank bonuses and outnumbering allowed the warriors to survive the charge.

Dwarf Turn 4
Fullur once had a great line where he made a bizarre tactical decision but explained it by saying, "I did not want to get charged by Dwarfs..that would just be embarrassing."
Fullur...welcome to embarrassment. Not only did he get charged by Dwarfs...he got FLANK CHARGED by my Elite Hammerers. Bwoohahahah.
Another 1-1/2" strategic advance towards my base battle line by the Rangers, another re-form of the Thunderers to get maximum firepower in a turn or so, a successful rally by the thunderers, and it was time for combat.

First, I went with the Hammerers. He struck first, killing 2. Whatever.
I struck back with a fury, hitting 4 times. I needed "2"s to kill.

Yes, all four dice rolled less than a 2.
Frankly, this was among the most dis-heartening moments I have ever had in Warhammer.
Unlike what I often do with the Warriors of Chaos (or, for that matter, the Dwarfs), I did not just "point and shoot". I actually put thought into my plan, deployment, and maneuvers. I set up things to get the combats when and where I wanted them. I even planned for poor rolls so they would not matter.
And then they did anyway. One brutal, unbelievably bad roll put all my plans in danger of failing.
If the Hammerers broke I would not have enough forces to bring his Spearmen to bear, he could happily retreat and shoot me to death. And should, by the way. The game was his.
I do not mind losing in games where I plan poorly, either through list-building or simply playing point and click (strong units, charge. Everyone else, stand around showing off your paint job).
I do not mind when my opponent does something clever and/or outplays me.
I HATE losing to a 1 in 1296 chance when I am actually trying to garner some sort of draw or win. And frankly, I did not have a lot of confidence in the ability of the Warriors, without their full rank bonus and with a wound on my T6 Thane (from a horse, no less), to win against the Dragon Princes.
Now, do not get me wrong...I do not mind losing. In fact, I actually wish I lost a bit more than I do outside of campaign games. But I want it to be reasonable losing, not to ridiculous horrific rolls.
Nevertheless, all my bad feeling was lessened when the combat turned out to be a draw.
On to the Dragon Princes V. Warriors round 2.

This time I was more successful, slaying two of them (after making one of my rare successful saves), and he ran. I ran as well...and ended up an inch behind them.
High Elf Turn 4
he advanced his White lions, started shooting down my heretofore untouched Thunderers before his White Lions emerged from the forest, rallied his Dragon Princes, and he rolled his General behind my Thunderers.
I knew at this moment I could not touch his General in the game, and lost another Thunderer to his S5 shots, and time to go back to close combat.
Another draw between my elite Hammerers on his flank and his 2 guys fighting spearmen. Not good.
Dwarf Turn 5
Outside the forest, the Rangers made a full march move away from the forest. My Warriors charged his Dragon Princes, mostly so they would not get a strength bonus.

Yes, that is two successful charges by my Dwarfs this game :-).
This time, I did a couple casualties to his Spearmen, they finally broke. I also broke his Dragon Princes and followed them off the table.

High Elf Turn 5
Things looked grim. His White Lions finally emerged from the forest, right in front of the Dwarf gunline.

He rallied his Spearmen, then went to work again shooting everything...Repeater bolt Throwers, Sea Guard, and his General, at the gunline preparing to take down the White Lions. Sure enough, he got them down to just 5 men.
Dwarf Turn 6
I turned the Rangers to face the inevitable charge from his White Lions, charged and finished off his Spearmen, and brought the Warriors back on the table.
Then I shot down 3 of his Seaguard, but did just one casualty to his White Lions.
I broke and ran down his Spearmen, and now it was time to see if I could withstand a furious last second attack by the reeling High Elfs.

High Elf Turn 6
Sure enough, his White Lions charged my Rangers...only to lose one of their number to my Throwing Axes.

His furious shooting from RBT, Sea Guard, and general combined to finish off the Thunderers who had been waiting for his White Lions.
The Close Combat was intense. He had 7 attacks. I did not have the advantage I hoped rank bonus and outnumbering were nearly offset by his War banner, so he only needed to do one casualty to tie the combat and 2 to have an excellent chance to win.
He did about 4, I could only do one back. The Rangers broke and the game was over.
The Survivor shot...from the winning side.

And there were some living pointy ears, as well.

In the end, it ended up being I think a Marginal Victory...and that was just about perfect.
This was a very entertaining game. There were moves and counter-moves. At one point he held off a charge I thought he was going to make because he wanted to break off his General from the Dragon Princes.
I was able to set up charges and counter charges, maneuver to get shots at units I wanted to shoot at.
He was very creative in a couple of maneuvers, such as his Spearmen wheel that invalidated half of my front line.
At one point, it looked like another High Elf victory, at another like a crushing defeat for them...but both of us seized the momentum back and in the final turn he pulled in enough points to turn it from probably a solid victory into a marginal.
I would love to see more games like this in play and outcome, regardless of size.
Overall, outside of one soul-crushing moment of discouragement, this was among the most entertaining games I have played in a while.
Rigal looked proudly at his force. The pointy-ears had fought better than he anticipated, but ultimately Rigal's forces held the field. He could not wait to get home and rub his success into the face of his brother.
"Sir, we fought for the village, should we not at least enter it?" asked his lieutenant.
Rigal shook his head. "Let the pointy ears have it. We have a victory feast to attend to."
He turned to go and his foot kicked loose a scroll trod under the hoofs of a Dragon Prince steed. He bent down an picked it up.
It unrolled quickly and easily. He gasped as he saw what it revealed. A smile lit up his face.
Even better than putting his brother to shame was what the map revealed...he instantly knew it for what it was. The path to untold wealth, power, and fame. This would make him the most powerful dwarf the world had ever known...

No comments: