Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lizardmen Vs. Dark Elves 2500pts. 8-21-2010

A rather slow-witted Slann named Wutenwherenhowen was focusing on his ruminations. He was contemplating whether he was a swamp fly dreaming he was a Slann, or a Slann dreaming he was a swamp fly. This was a rather silly contemplation since all the other Slann had long since decided he was a nincompoop and therefore fit to be called neither a Slann or a swamp fly.

Wutenwherenhowen sensed a darkness on the winds of magic. An evil intent directed at nothing in particular. A pure desire to engage in malicious activities. Or maybe a wizard just ate a bad taco. Wutenwherenhowen's sensitivity to the exact nature of the winds of magic is not what it could be...

As Wuten investigated the disturbance he came to the conclusion it was a raiding party of those dreaded Dark Elves. He would have to muster some forces to prevent them from getting any deeper into his territory. Otherwise he would never hear the end of the other Slanns' jokes about the deep Dark Elf penetration into his nether regions.

In deciding what forces to take with him to confront the Dark Elf raiders, Wuten looked out and saw a vast sea of Skinks. He decided they had been idle too long and decided to take a few of them. Perhaps fifty? No, so many of them could not be expected to maintain order within the unit. They are after all the most cowardly of the Lizardmen. He settled on forty six of them making sure to include a more capable looking Skink, one with a conga drum, and one carrying some strange piece of cloth on a pole. He sent three of the mighty Kroxigor along with them to keep them in line.

He then decided he should have a few of the Skinks who had been trained to fight in less organized units. Perhaps 20 of them separated in to two units? Yes that would do nicely. And 8 of the chameleons to go behind the enemy lines and harry them. He would have taken more of the chameleons, but they are so difficult to find.

Not one to leave the Saurus behind when confronting a dreaded foe such as the Dark Elves, Wuten summoned 30 of the Saurus Warriors and ordered them into two groups; again making sure to bring a more capable looking Saurus in each group, a drummer, and one carrying that silly cloth thing. He was not sure why, but the cloth-pole made him feel better about the units chances.

He then summoned a group of Cold One Knights. There were more than a dozen in the group. He chose the strongest looking five, which happened to include a drummer and one carrying a cloth-pole. The Knights became slightly incensed and informed Wutenwherenhowen that the cloth-poles are called standards. He did not understand this as he had seen several units which did not carry one, but thought it would not be wise to start an argument with his elite troops before a battle.

Feeling a bit magically exposed, he scooped up some Ixti Grubs and called to Tehenhauin and another Skink priest. These would be fine magical allies, and could shore up the Skink Horde he had selected earlier.

He saw a couple Barbed Razordons that he thought looked kind of cute and decided to bring them along. This rounded out his army sufficiently that he SQUIRREL! ... where was he? Oh yes round army. Not a fan of Hexagons or other such geometric shenanigans.

Approaching the disturbance he had sensed he surveyed the field. On the far left about halfway between his army and where he expected to see the Dark Elves emerge, there was a ghoslty fence adjacent to a sandy bog. That should keep any knights or heavy infantry out of that area. To the left and right of the center of the field were grudge stones. The negative energy emanating from them had the potential for deadly effects. To the right of the rightmost grudge stone was a magic circle. It resembled a CD, whatever that is. There was a tower he expected to see garrisoned by the Dark Elves near the far edge of the clearing. A fence at the front of where the enemy line would be looked like the last piece of terrain that would be relevant. (There were a couple other pieces of terrain, but they ended up not affecting the battle.)

Wuten deployed his troops. Front and center was the big block of Skinks. They were joined by Tehenhauin and the nameless priest. Left and right of them were the Skirmishers, and behind them two blocks of Saurus Warriors. The Cold One Knights pushed their way up between the big block and the Skirmishers to their right. Wuten positioned himself with his personal guard behind the big block of Skinks and to the left. The Razordons found themselves a comfortable spot out on the right of the battle line.

The Dark Elf commander emerged from the jungle and quickly began positioning his troops. As expected, a large unit of Dark Elven Reaper Crossbowmen darted into the tower, and another positioned itself behind the fence. Two Reaper Bolt Thrower crews set their deadly machines up on either side of the tower. A large block of Dark Elf Elite Infantry (I cannot recall whether they were Executioners or Black Guard.) set up directly across from the large unit of Skinks. A pair of units of Dark Riders saw the Razordons and elected to set up opposite them. Something that resembled a Hydra's tail was seen sticking out from behind the tower.

It was then that Wuten sprung his trap. The chameleons appeared to the left of the Dark Elf battleline! They should be able to harass that flank sufficiently to to prevent them focusing on the main battle.

Now, how to defeat this enemy? Wuten figured the Dark Elves were leaning awfully hard on those "standards" as the COK had called them. (He still did not understand the name. Only two "standards" appeared in the entire enemy army.) If he could take those standards from the enemy, they might just lose heart and retreat from the battlefield. Of course, the same seemed to be true of his army. He would have to keep an eye on that.

As Wuten was considering how to route the enemy, one of the units of Dark Riders made a short advance to get in better position.

Startled, Wuten threw up a hand and his army surged forward. The whole army moved forward as one. Okay, it was more like one hundred that they moved. Various speeds and directions were taken. It kind of looked like sending a number of Slinkys down a stairway. They should all move the same, but they don't.

The COK moved as quickly as they could directly toward the DE bowmen behind the fence. The Saurus, Skirmishers, and big block of Skinks moved straight forward. The Razordons made a forward lateral move to the right, attempting to get close enough to the Dark Riders to fire, but stay far enough away to not get easily charged. The Chameleons approached the DE Pegasus near the Reaper Bolt Throwers and Hydra.

Wuten felt the winds of magic begin to blow. He let loose a maniacal giggle. The Temple Guard were certain this meant that the winds of magic were blowing strongly. The truth was that Wuten was very ticklish, and the winds were hitting just the right spot to send him into convulsions.

Once he gained control of himself again, he used the winds to gather a throne of vines for himself. He then used the winds to cast a couple defensive spells on himself and other units. At one point, the winds threatened to go out of control and cause harm to Wutenwherenhowen, but he cowered in his throne of vines and was able to maintain enough control to escape harm.

Then the hail of missile fire began. The Chameleons let loose first, firing their blowpipes at the Pegasus and rider. Not many of their darts hit, and those that hit did not penetrate the defenses of the winged horse or its rider.

The Skirmishers launched their javelin. Being tired from their grueling march, they were not able to accomplish much damage from the limit of the weapon's range.

The Razordons let loose with a volley of about ten deadly barbs. Three of these knocked Dark Riders from their saddles. Wuten did a mental emote. The one that looks like a chinese guy's smiling eyes with the two upward angle brackets. ^^

Then he realized he had dozed off. Of course the Razordons did not do any shooting just now, they had marched. Razordons are too cute to fire on the march. (Yeah, I went to fire the razordons, then realized they had marched. I went through the motions anyway. It would have been a pretty decent round of shooting.)

Their momentum spent, the Lizardmen settled in to see what the Dark Elves would do.

The Dark Pegasus flew over behind the Lizardmen lines, stopping near one of the grudgestones. The winged horses wind unsettled the nearby unit of Saurus warriors. They would have to keep an eye on him.

The front unit of Dark Riders moved swiftly and got between the Razordon pack and the main army. The rear unit moved slightly closer to the Razordons in the front.

Then the winds of magic stirred again. Suddenly many of the Skinks in the big block turned to gold! If Wuten had to guess how many, he would have said 69. Of course that would be preposterous since there were only 46 in the unit. In truth it was about 17 of the little lizards that became the alchemists' dream. Most mortals would have been tempted by the shiny gold statues their friends had become. The Skinks however lived up to the quote from the great Dicky Smothers, "You're so stupid, you can't even be stupid." (Yes, I and my opponent forgot to have that unit test for Stupidity as they were supposed to the next turn. Sure they had a 99.7% chance of success, but it is still kind of lame I did not at least roll for it.)

Then the Dark Elf line opened up with their missile weapons. 2 Chameleons disappeared. 4 Saurus Warriors were impaled by a Bolt from one of the Reaper Bolt Throwers. Wuten paused for a moment to notice that they looked an awful lot like a shishkabob. He was wondering how they would taste if they were roasted. Would that be cannibalism? Nah, they are a different species. And clearly the Slann are superior to the other species so it would be fine... maybe...

A couple of the Razordons' handlers disappeared under a hail of fire from the Dark Riders Wuten thought they had killed.

The COK ignored everyone around them and the Stupidity of their mounts (yeah, another neglected Stupidity test) to charge the DE archers defending the fence. They nearly stumbled, but managed to reach the enemy without incident. The big block of Skinks charged headlong into the block of DE elites in front of them. The Razordons turned to face the Dark Riders that had flanked them. The chameleons moved closer to the closest Reaper and crew. The rest of the army made a general advance.

Wuten cast several minor spells including the Shield of Thorns which he gave to the big block of Skinks. He also used magic to polish 7 of the Skinks that had been turned to gold. The magic polished the gold right off and they returned to their unit. Cheap gold plating... Then he realized that a number of the spells he had previously cast had worn off. Well, nothing to be done about it now. It was then that the enemy wizards began dispelling Wutens remaining spells. The first thing they dispelled was his Throne of Vines. Wuten crashed to the ground. "This is not right." he thought. "Even if my vines disappeared, my palanquin should have kept me aloft." The narrator said, "Shut up, it's less funny if you just float." At the end of the wizards' work, the only thing remaining was the shield of thorns on the Skink block.

The Razordons let loose with a hail of barbs. 20 to be exact. Four of the Dark Riders suffered unsaved wounds. Wuten giggled maniacally, stopped, then after checking to make sure he was not dreaming, began giggling again. The chameleons managed to kill one of the crew on the Reaper.

The combat between the Skink block and the DE Elites went well. A couple DEs died, a couple skinks died. The overwhelming numbers of the Skinks and the intimidating forms of the Kroxigor and Tehenhauin caused the DE unit to shudder, but they stood. The Knights killed a couple of the archers and remained safe themselves.

The Dark Elf commander ordered the Hydra to charge the unit of Skink Skirmishers in front of him. Before he could move on to other things, the commander watched the Hydra tear through that unit and into a block of Saurus Warriors. (The Skinks, much to nobody's surprise, vaporized under the onslaught of the Hydra who then overran into the unit of Saurus behind.) The Reaper crew on that flank ripped through the unit of Chameleons taking down four of the remaining six. With only two left in the unit, someone sent a stray bolt in their direction and took the unit down to one. Despite the carnage inflicted on his unit the lone Chameleon stood. He looked around for a Tonto or Silver, but alas, neither were to be found.

Both units of Dark Riders charged the Razordons. The Razordon unit prepared for the onslaught.

The combat between the big block of Skinks and the DE elites continued. Tehenhauin and his Tide of Serpents scored first dropping two or three DE. The Skinks scored next doing a couple wounds. Then the DE Elites killed the Skink Priest and about 4 of the Skinks. Finally the Kroxigor brought their massive clubs into play. The massive beasts swept the remaining Dark Elves aside, crushing armor and breaking bones.

With the standard bearer in that unit dead, the resolve of the raiders broke. The whole army made a hasty retreat. Wutenwherenhowen, although sad to see them go (before he had a chance to cast more spells), allowed them to leave. There would be other days.

This was a really fun battle. Both sides did considerable damage, although only three units were actually destroyed: Chameleons, 1 unit of Skirmishers, and the DE Elite infantry. The spell that killed 17 of my Skinks in one swoop was heart-stopping. I had a horde that was about 33% gone before it ever saw combat or even got shot. Fortunately he either did not have LOS to that unit or chose to focus on other units with his shooters.

We really saw the usefulness of the new magic system. The potential to wipe units out in one swoop, ignoring miscasts and massively increasing stats like Toughness, restoring models that have been killed, are all amazingly powerful. What used to be a useful-in-the-right-situations portion of the game has become a significant part of the strategy.

I think mixed units of Skinks and Kroxigor are useful, which is something I did not think before. Since the unit is unlikely to break, the Kroxigor will actually be pretty well protected. The overwhelming numbers will usually lead to having more ranks and that means Steadfast. In this case I was doing enough damage that it did not come into play but will often be useful.

Oh, and seeing my Razordon unit fire off 20 shots (the maximum) at once was awesome. :)

Hey Fixeddice, feel free to add your pictures to this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Further thoughts on 8th Edition

When I went into the first game (report still pending...getting ready for the move has made it tough to get the pictures downloaded), I did something I seldom do. Not that I couldn' 7th edition, it was easy to do.

I made a battle plan before ever seeing the field.

The plan revolved around my infantry blocks. I would put them more or less in the center with the plan of advancing full speed and protecting/attacking the flanks with my Knights. I would use my single Cannon to take out any nasty blocks of shooting he might have.

So the plan was a general advance designed to ensure not getting flank-charged and thus allowing my core troops to have a chance to inflict some carnage on the opposition with 20 - 30 S5 and another 25ish S4 attacks. I should be almost wide enough to cover the entire width of the field, so this tactic would more or less force the enemy to deal with my entire army at one time.

On a one-to-one basis, I like the chances of my guys against most opponents; pretty good WS, S, T, I and save in comparison.

Meanwhile, the Knights would either defend the flanks or, if my battle-line extended further than his, attack his flanks while my Wizards went around brutalizing everyone with big, deadly spells.

But then, on the very first turn, something strange happened.

First, a mis-remembering of the rules. For some reason I thought the charge was double movement + 2d6. Not that it would have mattered...I needed to roll all of a 5 to get the charge.

See, I turned my Marauder Horsemen from Fast Cavalry into Light/Medium Cavalry with a 4+ save and a couple attacks apiece.

So when the battle was set up, I saw a way to use them as medium cavalry was actually punch a hole in the opponents line which I could then break through and exploit.

I was perfectly set up to over-run his men-at arms 5 man unit and follow through into his Trebuchet/war machine park (I was facing 2 trebuchets, a couple skaven cannons of some sort or other, all told about 5 or 6 war machines clustered on or around a hill.)

This would allow the big block of Knights I had supported my center with to fill the gap, my line to surge forward and put pressure on his entire right flank. Meanwhile, my big block of Marauders, Shaggoth and a small unit of Knights would try to hold off the Skaven line on my left long enough to let my superior force deal with the Bretonnians.

In other words, I was trying the classic "defeat him in detail" maneuver; blocking forces, maneuver, blunt force trauma at the point of contact, and choosing which fights would occur and when they would happen. I was in tactical maneuver heaven.

Until my Marauder horsemen, needing a "6" to complete the charge...rolling 3 dice and dropping the lowest...managed to roll a 4. This meant I could either A) hold back my battle line to keep from supplying him with several flank charges with Knights of the Realm/Grail Knight Blocks or B) advance everyone else beyond the whopping 2" move the Marauder Horsemen made and destroy my own battle line.

Meanwhile, in the shooting phase, I dropped the S5 template on the head of his 5 Jezzails on the left flank. It would minimize his shooting and give my Knights/Marauder Horde the ability to hold off his Doomwheel/Plague Wheel/Abomination machines while my strong flank did the work.

And the S10 center of the hole killed one. But then...needing 2s...I rolled 4 ones, doing not one single wound to the rest of his shooters.

So there you have it; in turn one, my entire battle plan was in ruins based on 2 pathetic rolls.

The super low roll for the horsemen slowed my right flank advance to a crawl and my complete whiff with shooting meant the plan formed WHEN I BUILT MY ARMY failed 2 minuted into the game.

Why do I bring all this up?

I keep reading people talking about how 8th edition is not a tactical game. It is just build your strong list and push forward, roll dice, and see what happens.

I call shenanigans. Lazy thinking.

8th is extremely tactical, far more so than 7th ever was.

Whereas in 7th you pretty much knew you would break your opponent on the charge without them ever getting to even attack back, in 8th you not only have to consider what happens if you win or have to consider how to deal with the attacks that come back at you.

That means things like flank charges are, if anything, MORE important than in 7th. Minimizing the attacks from support is huge. Minimizing stuff like the 6+ parry ward save pays huge dividends.

It means debating when and where to allow holes to develop in your battle line matter. And develop they will...with shooting and magic far deadlier than they were, you will see even your most elite units disappear from time to time.

It means things like blocking forces actually have a real, meaningful use, unlike in 7th where my Marauder Horde was begging to get flank charged by a weak skaven unit that would wipe out the 5 models on the flank (no attacks back), over-run into my Knights and fight a second time...basically rolling up my flank in one turn and rendering the blocking forces pointless.

Sure, it still matters how good your troops are...actually, it matters MORE now.

On the surface, getting 35 attacks from Goblin Spearmen sounds good. At the end of the day, though, they are hitting on 4s or 5s, so 12 - 18 hit, and of those, half or less will wound so 3 - 6 wounds if they get that many attacks, and of those a few are likely to be saved.

It still takes a troop with decent chance to hit and wound to take advantage of the new rules...but it now means those troops are worth taking.

It is now worth the time and effort to find a place to get my Chaos Warriors into action. Even if I have to withstand a charge from Grail Knights...I still get to fight them instead of just take off models.

Which means I should invest some time and thought into how to get them into action because Chaos Warriors are going to do damage.

This is not to say 8th is not also including a heavy dose of luck. You will have fluffed rolls and epic successes. But that luck factor requires MORE tactical acumen, not less.

Now, in our game, it altered my plan...but I was able to adjust my tactics. I set up my flanking Knights so after he charged my Chaos Warriors (who, with 6 ranks, the Banner of Chaos nearby, had a re-rollable 8 on stubborn to still be there the next turn) with his Grail Knights, I would charge the Grail Knights the following turn with 5 Knights of my own.

Grail Knights mired in combat < Grail Knights roaming around charging in to break opponents mired in combat.

With a little better luck, it would not have been necessary to alter my tactics. I would have had my big block of Chaos Knights set up to flank-charge his Grail Knights after they charged my Chaos Warriors head on, and my steadfast Warriors + Knights would happily grind him to dust as his Knights of the Realm would have had to take massive Dangerous Terrain tests in roaming through the forest...only to be met by more Chaos Knights.

I would have wiped out almost all his Jezzails on the left and thus not had to worry about his shooting...only on how best to hold up that half of the army while I concentrated on the other side of the field. (Though admittedly the wound whiff had nothing to do with it being 8th as opposed to 7th...but is illustrative of how luck-based results can have huge impacts.)

In 7th edition, it would have been predetermined how the game would go. I could have forced him to charge/overrun where I wanted and when I wanted, I could have more often than not kept him from attacking those who I did not want him to attack...

In 7th edition, more often than not the old truism that "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy" was completely false.

It was a failing of 7th that battle plans in fact could be nearly ironclad...the vagaries of chance were not enough to offset the weaknesses of the rules and thus meant it had more strategic impact than tactical...

You COULD design armies around specific battle plans and know they had a high chance of going off just as you drew them up.

This, contrary to popular opinion, MINIMIZES the tactics involved.

Corrections to the rules like allowing supporting attacks, everyone to fight, and so forth means those events so common in war...inferior troops outperforming expectations, elite troops not performing, inexplicable charges and failed charges that break battle lines...these things now are well represented in the game.

And it is in those situations where your perfect battle plan breaks down due to something unforeseen that show whether you can truly perform in a tactical manner.

Yes, there will be times the vagaries of chance will result in a brilliant, well-executed plan going awry...then again, there is a reason Napoleon famously said he would rather have a lucky general than a good one.

Not that Warhammer in any way, shape or form reflects true warfare...but when discussing tactics, you are reflecting the same things often found in war, and as such, yes, there should be those unforeseen events that disrupt plans.

These events are more reflective of true tactical challenge than simply knowing if you do a + b the result will be c.

Now, somewhere out there is someone saying, "Ha! GW fanboy who thinks everything they do is right".

Not so much. I think failed charges should go their entire distance, find many elements of TLOS outstandingly ridiculous and game-breaking, think there are some other notable flaws in the game design...I could go on, but why?

But the accusations that the game "has no tactics" are wildly off base and wrong. It has more opportunity and need for tactics than ever before.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thoughts on 8th Edition

I have been reading a lot of material from numerous Warhammer related sites regarding 8th edition and Saturday got in my first actual game of it.

We had a good-size game; I took 5K of Warriors of Chaos and would be facing 2500 points apiece of 2 different armies.

I figured Liam was most likely to bring Beastmen with an outside shot of bringing the Bretonnianss and figured Kev most likely to bring Sakven with a not insignificant chance of bringing the Ogre Kingdoms.

Not that it would matter...I was going to build the Knight of magic regardless of what they brought.

The overwhelming concensus I have come across at various sites is that cavalry in this edition is "pants", "not worth taking", "overpriced", and just in general considered inferior.

This made me inaccountably happy because it means I can take more Knights and instead of making my army better, it arguably (according to general opinions) makes my army worse.

The second concensus is that taking 1 Level 4 and 1 level 2 Wizard is about the best possible result. So taking 2 Level 4 Wizards (and thus no fighty-killy Lord level character) and a couple Level 2s would mean I had spent too many points on Knights and Wizards to have a truly beardy list.

I also wanted to try out the Horde rules and deliberately over-costed my Marauders by taking fully 50 with mark of khorne, light armor, shield, and great obviously poor choice since they MUST use the great weapon in close combat, so the light armor will almost always be negated and the shield is extra points for nothing.

I also took an over-sized block of 40 chaos Warriors...a ridiculous choice, as most people seem to be running them in blocvks of 12 (6x2 formation).

But that is what I love about this edition. With rules like steadfast and removing casualties from the rear, these blocks have value in 8th.

In 7th edition, MAYBE the Warriors block would have been worth taking. Maybe. But the marauders? It is to laugh. Despite their ability in 7th to POTENTIALLY dish out 13 S5 attacks, the reality is the enemy would typically wipe out most or all of the front rank, reducing them to maybhe 2 attacks for the champion.

Thus I would be spending points for the sole purpose of giving the enemy some nice combat reolution bonus.

In 8th, despite taking 15 casualties from one spell and several more from shooting, I was able to attack back with I think 28 attacks, killing about 17 Skaven 9an admittedly above average and outstanding result).

This shows the good and better of the edition to me.

First, the good. Magic is effective again...and potentially game changing. His Plague spell did nearly 33% casualties to a 50 man unit. That is pretty awesome. I even was able to get off several spells (despite, I might add, some apalling rolling that saw them have more dispel dice than I did on the first three turns due to my second die consistently being a "1" and them channeling 2 - 3 dice per turn whi9le I was channeling zero on those turns.)

Since I have always loved the magical aspect of fantasy, it was great seeing magic be something worthy of being feared instead of something you packed a couple dispel scrolls and forgot about.

I love that I can be confident I will get off not just magic, but magic I want to get off. No more pointless "I shall cast flaming sword of Ruin on my mage who will never see combat".

Great, love the new magic system.

Second, the GREAT part. I love that Marauders now have apunchers chance against...say...grail Knights.

In 7th, 150 points of Grail Knights > 300 points of Marauders based on the charge alone.

In 8th, 300 points of Grail Knights are more or less equal to 300 points of Marauders. yes, if they get the charge and have proper support they probably win the combat...but the marauders are still going to have a punchers chance of doing some damage.

Whereas in 7th, if charged by a hero-buffed unit of Grail Knights I expected to have zero chance of striking back, in 8th I am virtually guaranteed to have a chance to strike back...AND, more importantly, strike back with a sufficient chance of doing casualties.

Even blessed grail Knights with 2+ save and 5+ ward have something to fear from 21 S5 attacks coming back their way.

Assume 10 hit on 4s, 8 wound, 4 save base, and 1 - 2 save Ward...even the mighty Grail Knights have now taken some damage for their attack. And should the Marauders somehow be Steadfast after taking 10 - 15 casualties, in future rounds they are about even money to take on the now low-S Knights.

Conversely, if I charge my beloved Chaos knights into say...Saurus Warriors, in past editions I could count on the 16 S5 and 10 S4 attacks to keep the Saurus from ever attacking back and thus proved demonstrably impervious to their martial might.

In 8th, however, a block of Saurus is a legitimate threat to do some wounds...even if I run the Knights 10 deep now, 21 S5 and 5 S4 attacks are still going to most likely see a minimum 20 S4 attacks coming back, 10 hitting, 5 wounding, and maybe 1 - 2 Knights dying.

Not a lot...but better than the zero that would die in 7th. It means any unit dishing out mass quantities of attacks has a great chance of doing damage to someone like me...

Who for the second time in a month rolled 4 "1"s on a roll of 4 dice, a 1 in 1296 chance. And needing 2s to save failed 2 out of 3.

So I expect my Knights to die.

In fact, in our game where I got my Knights into the combats I wanted every time except when Frenzy forced me to present my flank to the Grail Knights, I lost both Exalted heroes and 17 of 20 rank and file knights.

Perversely, this makes me very happy.

If my Knights are worse I do not need to feel bad about taking more.

I also will take Chaos Warriors more often since they are now more likely to actually see combat. meaningful combat.

Now, obviously one game is a very small sample size.

It did, however, reinforce several theories I had about the game and I am in love with this edition.

I will be able to take the units I like...block infantry for epic "grind" combats, Knights for epic charges, Wizards for saga-worthy magic, and know they will all be useful.

Conversely, I really, really do not like certain aspects of the "true line of sight".

First off, hills either need to be modeled differently or else it should be taken into account they are REPRESENTATIONS of much taller structure.

Second, forests should actually know...forests. I am tempted to model a forest with about 200 trees and dare anyone to shoot through it. The idea a single model could not find a convenient tree in the middle of the forest to hide behind is ludicrous beyond comprehension.

Another dislike is the "1+ armor cap (gotten around by the Eye table due to its explicit statement allowing 0+, but by nothing else I am aware of). It would be nice to allow characters to be protected against higher strength stuff.

But overall, it looks like a great experience. I look forward to writing up the report on the game that saw an irresistible Purple Sun damage only the one who cast it, the unbelievably awesome hellcannon implosion, the Shaggoth v. pit Abomination duel, and the surprising outcome.

Friday, August 13, 2010

War of the Shrine: The Review

Well now, that was a bit epic, eh? I wanted to play a massive, massive game and, with a bit of mucking around to make it work with a space that honestly was much, much too small to contain the result, I did so.

Looking back, I both agree and disagree with my thinking. I decided to go everyone against everyone because I knew Chaos alone was much larger than any other army, but everyone against Chaos would be overwhelming the other way.

The High Elf contingent is frankly too small to be anything but an ally. The Dwarf and Warriors of chaos armies would have to fill the core maybe Dwarfs, High and Wood Elf against Orc & Goblin/Warriors of Chaos would have been right.

I could have set it up with a proper field, the Dwarf-led contingent defending the Shrines on one side of the field and the WoC/O&G army attacking.

In some ways I think the 5+ Ward for holding a shrine was too powerful. On the other hand, it allowed High Elf Spearmen and High Elf Archers to withstand much more powerful units for surprisingly long amounts of time.

I did love the altered rules that moved units around, even when in combat, to allow charges that might favor the weaker armies.

There were a few key moments that, had they gone slightly different would have made a huge difference. For example, if the White Lions had been able to either slay the Troll or he had not somehow managed to stay in the combat, they would have had a powerful unit they would have been able to use to rescue their chariot, etc.
However, when they got locked in the combat, it became a grind and frankly, having just 1 attack each was insufficient.
I know it is purely subjective, but I "feel" like I have poor rolls, and numerous combats in this game reinforced that...units with frontages of 6 that were elite (White Lions, Miners, Hammerers) getting full attacks and often doing not even a single wound in any given combat...
When time after time, needing 4s, you hit 1 or 2 times in seven tries, it feels pretty pointless. It would be one thing if Warhammer were not a 6 turn game...but it is.

And when your ELITE troops cannot take out chaff (see "Miners v. Night Goblin Archers, Miners v. Night Goblin Spearmen) in 2 or 3 turns, it is obvious your elite troops are not worth their points.

If anything, this game made me LESS likely to take ANY troop that has just one attack each. I rely on numbers to overcome poor rolling (I think it was four times Prince Chrysolopsis rolled 1 or 2 hits in 5 tries needing 3s against Dwarf Pirates (aka Thunderers). That was discouraging...and then when once or twice those failed to wound, suddenly I had a "combat monster" who could not even WOUND chaff troops in multiple attempts. Nor is that the first time I have encountered this is actually a regular thing.) and you simply cannot do that with one attack per model.

Still, there were some great moments like the Repeater Bolt Thrower crewman standing alone against the charge of the rampaging Chosen.
It is moments like that which comprise a significant part of my enjoyment of the game.

And this game presented some other interesting moments. On a field with as limited of terrain as this one, the tactics were few to choose from...though there were some.
It was an interesting question of how to break out from the cramped position both the Warriors of Chaos and Orcs & Goblins had at the beginning of the game.
That issue was further complicated when every wing was held up; the High Elf Archers who would not die, the Dwarf Hammerers, Warriors, and Warriors in the center, and the Treeman/Treekin on the right.
At every turn, I found it was a struggle to get past those road blocks which prevented the Warriors from bringing their overwhelming numerical power to bear for quite some time.

Across the board, I actually figured the Night Goblin Archers would die in one or two turns...and they also clogged up a key portion of the field for quite some time, which restricted the Orc and Goblin lines from getting into action.

I was surprised by how long the Goblins could stand, though not surprised by how little damage they did. Even with 13 attacks, when needing 4s to hit, 5s to wound, and the opponent having 5s to save (or, in this case, two rolls needing a 5), they simply have no hitting power.
They would have needed 40 attacks a turn to have a chance of doing damage.

It comes back to that, again and again. the Wardancers, with a similar strength, were many times more effective despite having fewer guys attacking because just a handful of models could wield 3 attacks each quite often.
Of course, they also could die to the flick of a wrist to even S3 enemies...

It showed to me once again why, in 7th edition, no matter how cheap they were, blocks of low S, low T, low A troops were simply a bad, bad, bad idea to take. They could be out-maneuvered by anyone who they could hurt and could not hurt anyone who was willing to fight them.

Nor were Dwarf Cannons all they were cracked up to be. time and again they over-flew their target or stuck in the ground just in front of the target. I must have shot 20 times with cannons throughout the game...and done maybe a dozen casualties.
I look forward to seeing a Dwarf Gunline in action in 8th...I think they will prove counterproductive, needing so much space and not being capable of taking out entire units. They should deal some damage, but will be losers for that due to the new scenarios and victory conditions.

I suspect the Juggernaut will be seen but rarely. He is too expensive and characters with only 5 attacks simply do not do enough damage. Even against a squishy Elf he struggled to wound...and when he faced T4 troops it was even worse.

The Chariot continues to disappoint I have yet to roll higher than a 2 when it charges, meaning 3 Impact hits. This speaks again to my "trust" in die rolls.
I know I have a 66% chance of garnering 4 or more impact hits. Yet in nearly 10 charges now, I have yet to do more than 3.
When I have a unit that depends for its effectiveness on rolling a single die to see what happens, I have little faith...Spawn, Chariots, the magic missile that routinely does 2 hits when I roll d6+1 and they are routinely at S2 or 3 when I roll d6+1 for strength...these things all reinforce my scepticism that I will have a good result with anything which rolls low numbers of dice.

This, of course, affects/skews my perception of how I want to build my army.
For example, I have little interest in playing a dwarf army. They are slow, to take out tough targets like Ogres, Hydras, dragons, Knights, or tanks, they need to rely on single die rolls from cannons. Not going to happen for me.
To win a close combat, they need to do large amounts of damage with very few attacks. Not going to happen for me.

At the same time, I do not want to play the same army all the time. I love my Knights, Dragon ogres, and Shaggoth and...well, at the moment, due to how pathetic my magic results have been, those are really the only units I enjoy using, and even the Shaggoth has been remarkably ineffective more often than not...but I still love the model.
I think I would really enjoy playing a Savage orc army if not for stupidity and their S being too low to really be effective. If I owned more Orc models, that would probably be the way I went.

It is my real hope that in 8th edition I am able to use more Marauders and Chaos Warriors. the Marauders kind of goe against type for me...they have too few attacks (unless I mark them for frenzy) and are way too squishy...but if they are up against other low A, squishy models they might be worth it.
Actually, with the new step up and steadfast rules, they would also be worth it so long as I can protect the flanks.
Same with Chaos Warriors. Well, except the squishy theory, having 2+ save and T4 means they are not squishy, but I have had major problems keeping them alive past the charge.

Speaking of things which should be better...I get the "fluff" of Slayers, but they are one of the worst units in the game.

They struggle to wound large targets..which are, or should be, their primary targets...and with utterly no defense, they die far too easily. It only gets worse for them in 8th where their low edition means they will get wiped out before they even attack unless they take large units...which they are too expensive to take.

As 7th edition draws to a close, I will look back at it fondly. It made Chaos Knights...scratch that, ANY Knight...a bit too powerful on the charge as they were favored to not only defeat enemy infantry (and often other units) of vast numerical superiority on the charge, but beat them without getting attacked back and by such a high number the opponent was almost assuredly going to break.

Every glass cannon had that same overpowered ability. I will not miss that, even though losing it hurts me more than most. It was kind of cool not needing to make armor saves, particularly in light of the sheer number of times I would fail 2 of 3 or 3 of 4 saves needing just a 2+.

I also will not miss spending 1200 points or more on Magic, seeing an opponent spend 200, and not being able to get off any meaningful spell. No more scroll caddies can only be a good thing.
This game was a fine example...even without allowing anyone a single scroll, there could not have been more than 5 or 6 spells cast successfully all game long...and those that were simply got irresistible force.
Ironically, the dwarves then failed every turn in their attempt to dispel either that put an Exalted Hero in play...

Anyhow, looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed the game until turn 6 when it turned into just a bunch of dice rolling. Not that I do not enjoy that from time to time, but there was no skill seeking to get the right charge at the right time, or select the right target for shooting.

If 8th edition fixes some of the issues of 7th...heavy shooting armies being devastating, inability to use magic, every9one getting to fight instead of just chargers...the Warhammer can only get even better.

War of the Shrine; Victory At last

Together Varangia and Prince Chrysolopsis roamed the battlefield. The Prince gestured to the various shrines.

"This is clearly a place of great power. Which would you like to examine first?"

Varangia looked at them without interest. he could feel the power emanating from all of them. "None. We have enemies to find, battles to fight. If we waste time on things like this, we might get distracted. Let us go in search of glory."

Prince Chrysolopsis nodded his approval. "I hear tell there is a new land which has just been discovered across the sea. Rumor tells that Beastmen, Knights of Bretonnia, Dwarves, Ogres, Skaven, Dark Elf, Tomb King, Wood Elf and Lizardmen armies are all heading there to see if they can conquer it. Perhaps we should go."

Varangia nodded. "Perhaps we shall find more foes such as Alaquippa, worthy tests for our skill and might. We march at dawn."

With those words, the epic War of the 10 Kings was set in motion.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

War of the Shrine: The Final Turn

All over the field the lesser enemies were being destroyed even as atop the pyramid, Sigvald dealt the death blow to the Dwarf Standard Bearer.

Throwing the flag down contemptuously, he sought other foes to face.

Spying a few Goblin Heroes, he motioned them to ascend the shrine to battle him, which they did even as on the field below, the Chaos Warriors crashed into the Night Goblin Netters.

As the Savage orcs began to fall in droves, their weapons no match for the armor of the Chosen and their armor no match for the strength and skill of the Chosen, the field below broke into numerous individual duels.

Northman wizards sought out Orc and Goblin shamans, seeking to achieve by force of arms the magical dominance they had proved unable to achieve through mystic might.

Varangia and Alaquippa sought each other out. Seeing what they were seeking...a mighty foe worthy of their might...they crashed together with a fury that frightened even battle hardened warriors nearby.

Even as they clashed, their respective standard bearers came together.

Slowly the sounds of battle began to die as the last enemy unit, the hapless Night Goblin Netters, fought their last few hopeless moments against the skilled Warriors of the North.

And then there was but one battle. Oh, this was a fight for the ages. Alaquippa and Varangia were men among boys as mighty blows dented shields, shattered swords, broke apart helmets.
Each was bleeding from numerous cuts, but neither could gain the upper hand. Their fight tore through the last pockets where the men of the North were mopping up survivors, heedless of damage caused to men from either side.
It rampaged up one side of the shrine and down the other.
Varangia smiled a feral smile and saluted Alaquippa with his blood-spattered sword, Silverslash. "At last, a worthy foe."
Alaquippa licked Varangia's blood from the tip of his own blade, which he had never bothered to name. "Yes, had only I found you earlier, my Waaaaggghhh would have been even mightier."

Their mounts snarled in anger. Enough talk, let us get back to battling! The message of their snarls was clear.
For sheer, brute strength, Alaquippa had the advantage. Many times Varangia had Silverslash there to take the blow but the sheer power of Alaquippa punched through it to bring forth spurts of blood from Varangia.
By contrast, Varangia was far quicker and often able to score touches on Alaquippa that, while not lethal, nevertheless had him bleeding from dozens, perhaps hundreds of cuts.
Long after all other fighting had ceased, these two mighty warriors dueled until Alaquippa proved just a hair to slow. He looked down at Silverslash protruding from his chest.
Blood dribbling from his mouth, he looked at his conqueror and smiled. "Well...well thought, warrior. Have me remembered in your songs."
As he slumped down, Varangia carefully removed Silverslash. "That I will. Though most likely you bleed to death, I leave you alive that perhaps you might recover and we can fight again. Farewell, Alaquippa."
Without another word, he turned and rode off to see how Prince Chrysolopsis had fared.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

War of the Shrine, Turn 5 Review

If not for the (hopefully) epic duel between Sigvald and the Dwarf Thane atop the pyramid and the battle between the Savage Orcs and Chosen, I would not bother with turn 6. The game is decided and at this point it is down to a few random dice rolls.

The amazing thing is...the Wood Elf force had some incredible rolls. In one battle, they saved 12 of 12 potential wounds...but kept rolling high, broke and ran.

I let them because the game is really over. The out-sized Chaos army, once they broke out of their opening cramped position, just ran wild on everybody else on the table, slaying left and right in huge numbers.

Still, this was an incredibly fun game I look forward to re-playing...with minor tweaks and under 8th edition rules.

War of the Shrine Part 25, Turn 5 Wood Elf

As the Waywatchers fired ineffectually at any enemy they could see, the Treeman charged into the Chaos Knights as the Wardancers went after the Chaos Spawn.

The Wardancers whirling blades sang their song of death, finally felling the vile creature and putting it out of its misery. The Treeman, however, proved less mighty, felling only a single Knight before the savage attacks of Varangia and his minions felled 3 of the Dryads. It was too much for the remaining Dryad and treeman, who tried to flee but were cut down.

1 Chaos Spawn
1 Chaos knights

Suffered: 4 Dryads
1 treeman

War of the Shrine, Part 24, Orcs and Goblins Turn 5

One moment Alaquippa was on top of the world. His Savage orcs tore massive holes in the enemy lines, his Giant, Troll and Chariot were crushing the right flank, his fanatics were wreaking havoc all over the field.

In mere moments everything changed. His Chariot, Giant, and Troll died. His Fanatics died.

Still, his Savage Orcs were climbing the Shrine...except they kept dying at the hands of those cursed warriors from the north without doing much damage of their own.

On the bright side, his rock lobber and Doom Diver each had their best shots of the battle, each wiping out a gyrocopter.

7 Miners
2 Gyrocopters

3 fanatics
5 Savage orcs

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

War of the Shrine, Part 23, Warriors of Chaos, turn 5

Shaggy looked over the field for a worthy opponent. The cackling orcs, secure in the strength of their chariot, gestured a challenge to him which he happily accepted.

Not to be left out, the Knights charged the hated cannon.

The Chaos Warriors charged headlong into the Thunderers, ignoring the hail of lead that passed harmlessly over their heads.

Flanked by yet more Chaos Knights and the blithering Spawn, Varangia charged into the remaining Glade Guard who stood between him and a truly epic foe, the fearsome Treeman.

The Chariot charged into the last remaining Dwarf Cannon.

The Warhounds, happy with having torn the Troll to shreds, charged into the chariot alongside Shaggy.

And, having been robbed of his chance for glory in the easy slaying of the Dwarf Slayer, Sigvald climbed to the top of the Shrine to engage in a solo duel with the last Dwarf hero, their army standard bearer. He hoped this would be an epic duel worthy of his greatness.

Varangia smiled. Though he could not see it all, he could feel the blood and death in the air, he could hear the thunderous crash of arms as the inexorable, irresistible force of the Northmen charged at their enemies.
Ah, the glory of war...was there anything better?

It was no surprise when the Chosen hacked the Dwarf Rangers to bit and swarmed over the Shrine, only to run headlong into the Savage Orc Big 'Uns approaching from the other side. They began a savage, hand to hand combat that would prove bloody and worthy of the savage fighting ability of both sides.*

The Knights rampaged past the easily defeated cannoneers and began hacking away at the Thunderers who, under the attacks of the Knights, exalted heroes, and even Marauders melted away under a flurry of devastating blows.

The marauders, fueled by their furious bloodlust, climbed over the broken, maimed bodies of the valiant Dwarf Warriors to roar their challenge to all from the heights of the shrine.

Varangia and those with him crushed the Glade Guard and went after the Dryads.

All over the field, the forces of Varangia devastated their enemies. Varangia smiled as he looked forward to brushing aside the Dryads and entering into one on one combat with the Treeman.
The final Hammerer
The Troll
the Orc Chariot
2 Dwarf Pirates
6 Dwarf Warriors
2 Cannons & Crews
2 Savage Orcs
18 Thunderers
2 Wardancers
9 Glade Guard
Suffered: none

* In search of an epic battle, I made some alterations to the rules; every member of both sides would be allowed to make their full attacks, both sides would gain the Ward Save for being on the shrine, and both sides would count as unbreakable.

War of the Shrines Part 22: Turn 5, Dwarves

Things were falling apart on every side. Rigal, Lagir, Grim, the Slayer whose name they had never known...all dead or fled, along with other mighty heroes.

Their numbers were diminishing, the cannons ineffectual.

Their morale shattered, the already slow Dwarfs were just a bit slower to get their shields up, just a hair slower to attack with their mighty axes.

About the only good news they had was the rangers rallied...though how good that news was remained open to interpretation when they were promptly charged by the Chosen.

1 Night goblin Netter
2 Savage Orcs
2 Chaos Marauders

13 Miners (8 when a unit broke)
1 Dwarf Thane
7 Thunderers
1 Cannon & Crew