Sunday, February 27, 2011

2500 Dwarfs v. Wood Elfs

Recently I have been watching a lot of How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Toy Story 3, Iron Man, and Iron Man II. I know all the movies quite well by now, so it allows me to free part of my mind to do other things.

One thing to do is something I generally consider pure drudgery. Put together army lists. So I did. I pretty much have standing lists at virtually any point level for my beloved Warriors of Chaos. I know what units I like to use and those go in regardless of how weak they are considered this edition.

But I want to mix it up a bit, play some other armies. So I sat down and made Wood Elf lists for 1k, 1500k, 2k and 2500.

Then I did the same with the Dwarf army. I even made a couple different versions at some of the point levels.

Obviously I am making "all comers" lists. These are not lists specifically designed to fight any of the armies I routinely have as potential opponents: Lizardmen, Skaven, Dark Elf, Ogre Kingdoms, Bretonnians being the most likely, with Empire, Beastmen being next most likely and the seldom-seen Tomb Kings and Orcs and Goblins bringing up the rear.

My good friend Liam stepped up to the plate and asked if I would mind if he played the Wood Elf army. I laughed at the irony of me finally getting around to building a list and then someone else getting interested and hastily agreed. I would play the Dwarf list v. his Wood Elf list at 2500.

I have two units of 10 thunderers apiece, 2 cannons and an Organ Gun. Not all that much shooting. The Cannons both have the Rune that makes their shots flaming and are there explicitly to deal with Hydras, HP Abominations, Stegadons, and anything else that has high T, multiple wounds.

The organ gun is there because I thought a Grudge Thrower might be a bit too much shooting.

Leading my army with a noble means I can have core Longbeards and to me the extra S is well worth it. So my line troops all end up with the parry save and S4 but are going to be outnumbered.

We rolled up the Meeting Engagement and he planted a big unit of glade guard in a tower in one corner, 5 or 6 treekin next to them, some Dryads in a forest next to them, about 14 more glade guard, and on the far right flank a Treeman.

Lately I have A) not been able to play much and B) been lackadaisical about my deployment. Since I really count on my Knights, Dragon Ogres, and Shaggoth with WoC, deploying on the wrong flank is no big deal. I simply take a turn and a half to get where I want to be. It is lazy, it degrades my playing and usually makes the game tougher for me.

That is not a mistake I can make with the Dwarf army. But I did. I made sure to set up over 30" from his big glade guard block, and starting on my left put my Ironbreakers, planted my cannons one on each side of the organ gun and looking at his treekin, guarded their flank with side by each units of thunderers, then the miners, then on the far right flank my Longbeards. Only my Rune Lord showed up late.

Mistake #1. My miners should have come on via their ability per my initial plan. But...having played the Wood Elf army, I know the power of their shooting. The thought of coming behind the building, taking 28 S4 shots, charging, him testing on re-rollable steadfast, taking another 20 - 25 shots, charging, him testing on re-rollable steadfast...I chickened out and posted them.

Mistake #2. In the wrong spot. It extended my line even further so my General and BSB-reinforced Longbeard horde was on my far right flank. Where his Treeman could flank them in turn...

He then dropped a scout on my back line. I had forgotten the new scout rules. Or that people use scouts...


He flies his eagle out behind my Longbeards and makes a slow advance in general. He rolls almost no PD, I forget my Rune Lord is not on the table and steal one, he has just 3 PD now and gets something irrelevant off which I dispel on my turn.

His lone scout unleashes the Hail of Doom at my center most Thunderers. He gets 13 shots, 12 of them hit and 7 wound. I save just one. Not a problem, I have a 9. And roll an 11. I am about 1" outside of BSB range...remember that mistake in planting the Miners there? Costly.

They break and run towards the center of the field. His Glade Guard then shoot the other thunderer unit, causing 3 wounds, but I save 2.

This is funny because if it were my Knights with a 1+ save I would fail 2 of 3. Or all 3. Because on the rare occasions the Knights get hit with a weapon that actually allows an armor save I routinely fail 90%. Not usually relevant since 90% of the time when they get hit they are not allowed a save anyway.

But because I have a 5+ save...I save 2 of 3. Whatever. Dwarf armor for the win.

His Waywatchers then hit the Ironbreakers 7 times, can only muster 2 wounds. Here I have a 3+ save...and fail them both. Bwoohahahha.

I should point thunderers that got hit with Hail of Doom were in range of all his shooting. He did 9 casualties this turn. That Thunderer unit still had 4 guys in it at this point and ended the game with 1, so he got no points.

Strategy suggestion; armies with shooting need to concentrate their fire. Wiping out that unit would be a great way to go. And would force other panic tests, which I have already shown I can fail with ease.

Dividing fire helps your opponent more than it helps the person firing. By having the wounds spread out, I was able to absorb a lot of punishment throughout this battle without the damage adding up as quick as it might have.

Dwarf Turn 1

Dwarfs are good at holding grudges.I have no charges, the Thunderers rally, much to the surprise of no one and start walking towards their own lines.

The other unit advances to get within 24". So they march as far as they can.

The Longbeards measure. If I march forward, I am about 1/4" short of being past Treemans line of sight. So I reform to accept his charge.

I debate what to do with the cannons. But the whole point of them is NOT to take shots at Glade Guard in buildings or the open, Dryads I have no fear of, or even Waywatchers. No, I had a great target in the Treekin. That was the proper shot.

One cannonball later, he had one dead Treekin and two wounds on another. Would have been one wound, but he reminded me flaming doubles the wounds.

I only shot one cannon...I moved the other to guarantee my Organ Gun had a clear shot at his Hail of Doom scout. I PROBABLY had one anyway...but because I made such big bases for scenic purposes, I wanted it to be clear. (as you can see, the bases are designed with "scenes" in mind. An Arachnarok Spider could not be bigger...)

The Organ Gun unleashed the full 10 shots, and 7 wounded. One dead scout. It was now imperative for him to finish off my Thunderer unit or I would have enough points for a victory right there.

Wood Elf Turn 2
His Eagle wants to march but he rolls boxcars. He just flies behind the longbeards. His Glade Guard realize they will take no part in this entire battle, so they exit the building.

At this point I notice I forgot to bring on my Rune Lord...which is when I realized I had illegally stolen one of his 4 PD. Fortunately my inadvertent cheating would have no real effect on the game.

He makes a slight advance, gets Throne of Vines off. I save the only wound his Waywatchers shooting does, save the one wound his small Glade Guard unit is able to lay out.

I think this was partially due to his inexperience with the Wood Elf army. I, knowing how slow Dwarf armies are, would probably have moved to just within 15" to get that key additional S point with the Glade Guard and Lethal Shot with the Waywatchers, knowing they can retreat 5" per turn and still fire with no penalty whereas the Dwarf army can only advance 6" per turn total!

I suspect he also knew his 30" Longbows out-ranged my 24" Thunderers. However, by this point I had 9 and 4 it might have been worthwhile to have a closer range duel. Maybe not. Hindsight is 20-20 and I know how it turned out...

Dwarf Turn 2
This time I bring on my Rune Lord straight away. I am not much bothered by his Eagle. I have no clue what he is planning, I kind of hope he charges one of my units. Any of my units. I will be so far ahead based on static combat resolution alone that I am almost guaranteed points for the eagle. Unless he charges by whittled-down Thunderer unit...
The Longbeards tweak their line to prepare to move if the Treeman ever is no threat. The Miners advance.
I easily Dispel Throne of Vines.
The cannons both roar and two more treekin go down. The Thunderers only have the Waywatchers in range and that extra -1 ensures my firing is worse than worthless. Gunpowder costs that could be used in that Dwarf Alehouse on my left flank!

Wood Elf Turn 3
I was a championship chess player at one point. Won plenteous awards. Mostly because the other guy might see two or three moves ahead, but I would see ten, fifteen, twenty moves ahead at times.
I am not that guy anymore.
It is on this flight of his eagle that I realize...he is going to charge my cannon. Next turn. This is bad.
He disengages his Level one wizard from the Treekin unit to hide behind the building, inches forward marginally.
He rolls a 6 and 5 for the Winds of magic. I steal one, add 2 for my Rune Lord...he has 10 power dice, I have 8 Dispel.
He is out of range for Dwellers. He gets Throne with Irresistible, and Throne protects him from the miscast. That means I have so many Dispel Dice he has no chance of getting anything off.
I should point out...I had the Rune of Spellbreaking unused at the end of the game. He never had a single spell in use when it mattered. Magic v. Dwarves is an exercise in futility.

He unleashes his big block of Glade Guard on the cannon, but only gets 1 wound through. I do not save.
His 13 Glade Guard wound my block of 4 Thunderers 3 times, I save zero. Down to one guy. That guy is worth 150 points to one of us...
His Waywatchers shoot at my big block of Thunderers and I save the only wound.
Dwarf 3
I, uh...I need to do something about that Eagle. I advance a bit on my right flank. This will prove to be a mistake. Had I marched this turn and both turns 4 and 5 as well on turn 6 to get a charge off. If not marching...i should get back behind the hill. Like my one Thunderer starts to do.
I do charge my Thane with flaming and a couple strength modifiers to help the cannon. But I am going to be too late. Not thinking about the eagle might cost me.
My cannons do finish off his Treekin unit. He is now in a big hole. I have the points for them and the scout. he has zero points and has not advanced any close combat troops. He will not have enough time to shoot any of my units into non-existence barring some bad break tests.
The Organ Gun only gets off I think 4 shots and does one wound to the eagle. My Thunderers manage to kill a Waywatcher.

Wood Elf Turn 4
The Eagle charges my cannon. He gets 11 PD, no magic off successfully.
His 28 Glade Guard volley for the first time; 24 shots, 11 hits, 2 wounds, 1 save. That cannon has lost 2 guys now. But I do have an Engineer there...
His other Glade Guard unit kills 2 Thunderers and the Waywatchers get another. I am losing that shootout for sure, even with him being S3 and me having armor!
The Eagle can only slay one cannoneer, but he has done his job..he silenced half my artillery!
Dwarf Turn 4
My thane needs a 10 to make it into the cannon battle...and I roll...a ten! Yes!
Everyone else starts moving backwards. Make it as hard as possible for him to shoot me. I cannot reach him even if I march the rest of the game.
My cannonball at his Level 4 in the big glade guard unit gets ward saved.
His Eagle uses its initiative to kill the two cannoneers. He has points! My Thane then kills his Eagle.

Wood Elf Turn 5
His Waywatchers kill another thunderer, his Glade Guard get 2 more. My guys are getting thin.

His big unit of Glade Guard hits my last cannon 17 times. Needing sixes, he gets six wounds on me. Needing sixes, I decide to be unreasonable and save two of them...but not enough. He doubles his point haul, wiping out my second cannon.

Dwarf 5
Run! Get out of sight of those horrible woodie bows. They are sticking arrows in everything!
The only unit not moving directly away is my Ironbreakers, heading towards the Dwarf Ale House.
Wood Elf 6
He advances to take one last stab at points. Every shot he has goes against the Organ Gun. 1 wound goes through but it is not enough.
Dwarf 6
I basically just take a group photo of my survivors.

I mistakenly give him points for the unit of Thunderers with one guy left, making it look closer than it was at 534-395. But because the one guy survived and there are no half points, the actual score was 534-245.
This was two guys who have not played all that much lately using armies they are not overly familiar with and playing them poorly.
I mentioned some mistakes in set-up. Now lets go over mistakes during the game.
1) I should have marched my close combat troops forward. I would have taken more casualties...bit horded up Longbeards v. Waywatchers or Glade Guard is a match up I like. So are max-ranked Ironbreakers v. Glade Guard.
I should have sent my Miners after the Treeman and swung my Longbeards behind them. But I forgot how slow 6" a turn is. By the time I realized it, it was too late.
Initial deployment and 2 or 3 turns of letting one Treeman hold an entire flank turned this game into a shooting skirmish.
2) I was never sure what to do with my Thunderers. I should have moved them forward twice or gotten them behind the hill. They were never going to wipe out an entire unit sniping away needing 4s, 5s and 6s to hit. Instead I risked them to no purpose.
3) I ignored the one viable threat he presented for far two long. My Thane should have been close enough to deal with the Eagle the turn he arrived, not the next turn. I should have protected my cannon better.
4) When it became obvious the Treeman and Longbeards were just going to move back and forth, I should have gotten my BSB towards the center along with my General to give a re-rollable LD 10 bubble instead of a one-shot 9. It did not cost me...but it could have. Just because the results were good does not mean the play was.
Things I did well;
1) I chose the correct target with my Cannons. Shooting the Treekin completely away was total win. There was no point to using my big guns to pot-shot away 2 or 3 glade guard or Dryads per
turn. Target selection +1
2) I saved points by getting my Thunderer out of harms way ASAP.
From where I sit, things Liam might have done better:
1) The big block of Glade Guard should have exited maybe one turn sooner.
2) I think he dispersed his fire a bit more than he should have. Had he finished off one Thunderer unit, then turned everything (including the big GG unit) on the second one, we might have had a draw.
3) He took a Treeman, Treekin, and Dryads. None of them every advanced on me. Having close combat troops you are unwilling to put in close combat may or may not be prudent.

If he marches his Treekin towards my Ironbreakers, I might not have them weakened enough with cannon fire. His Treeman and Dryads, if they combo charge the Ironbreakers, MIGHT be okay...maybe not. I may have played it the same way.
4) When the Treekin were getting plunked by laser guided cannon fire, he probably should have run them behind the building to save the points.
What he did well
1) His inital setup was excellent. His shooting troops were protected, he put his guys where they should be, and got me to make some mistakes in my own deployment.
2) He shot. Every turn. He took some shots at causing panic.
3) He thought about whether it was worth the Treeman getting hit with a cannonball just to strangle-rrot attack and made the right decision.
4) He chose the right spell to attempt every time. That they never got to remain in play is irrelevant. He made the correct plays.
All in all, as battles between he and I tend to do, it was mostly a war of maneuver and little bloodshed. If we played it again...I think that would change.
First, my miners would go outside of the Longbeards and go after the Treeman. This means my Longbeards would go after his Waywatchers. I probably wipe them out and his small glade guard as well. But I do not go into the forest after his Dryads. Not sure why...
Second, my left wing would also advance. I would take on his big block of Glade Guard, with the cannons hopefully rendering his Treekin insignificant.
All in all, a fun game I enjoyed a great deal.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Answering a rules question

A couple weeks ago Fullur and I had a rules question: namely, would Harmonic Convergence remain in effect of his caster died due to miscast.

P. 36 of the rule book specifically addresses this.

Once in play, such spells cannot be dispelled, and remain in effect even if the caster is slain...

So there you go. Clean, crsip, concise. Score yet another one for the new 8th edition rules. Far and away the best ruleset GW has put out yet.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tavern Talk: List building

When I sit down to build a list, it is typically something I try to get done as quickly as possible. There are certain parts of the hobby I enjoy. Those are playing the game and talking about it with my friends.
Then there are certain parts of it I do not enjoy. Generally, that means everything else. Specifically it includes setting up and taking down the game, painting, assembling figures, and list building.
So typically when I set out to build a list I have a general idea of what I want to concentrate on. For example, in the list for the game pictured (a 7th edition list) I had just completed painting the Dragon Ogres, the Marauder Horsemen on the gray horses, the chariot, and modifying a Brettonian into my Standard Bearer.
As a result, I wanted to include those elements. I always include a unit of Knights because I love magic and knights. By the time you put in a few knights, some dragon ogres, a chariot, the requisite wizard, and a chariot, you have eaten up close to 1000 points. I believe that one was probably a 1500 point game.
Since I found Marauders in 7th edition to be worse than completely useless since they seldom ever got to attack, it was an easy choice to make it an all-cavalry force.
At that point my list is built and I simply need to figure out how to use it on the field.
When I build a list, this is a pretty typical example. I seldom take into account who my opponent is. In fact, I generally go somewhat out of my way to avoid knowing which army my opponent will use since then it is a truer test of my abilities.
I do, however, put in a battle plan along with my list.
For example, in the above list, the Knights would go straight up the middle while the Marauder Horsemen would guard the flanks. The Chariot and Dragon Ogres would lag slightly behind, planning to either attack anyone who flanked the Knights or, more likely, when the knights swung towards one flank or the other, they would combo charge on the appropriate flank while either the Marauder horsemen or remaining unit would serve as a blocking unit.
Every list I build has similar elements. I find a unit or concept I want to build around, fill it up, then when I have fit in the things I enjoy using, I fill in the "required" slots.
Case in point; I really like my troops to be reliable. As a result, the Crown of Command has quickly become a staple on those (extremely) rare occasions I do not take the Warriors of Chaos item the Banner of the gods.
However, one army (the Dwarves) has a second version, the Master Rune of Kingship. Add the Master Rune of Gromril and the Rune of Resistance and your General will make whatever unit he joins Stubborn.
Add a Thane with the Crown of Command and a BSB and suddenly your battle line is full of T4, LD 9 or 10 re-rollable stubborn troops. The ultimate in reliability short of the crumble-prone undead.
Depending on what points level you are playing, you can still have more than sufficient shooting to soften up the enemy before they crash into your nigh-impenetrable rock of a line.
Of course, despite the improved charge ranges, the Dwarf army is still enough slower (25- 50% slower than virtually any other army) that you need a solid plan.
Set up an Organ Gun between Dwarf Warriors and Dwarf Longbeards with cannons and Thunderers added as appropriate and you have a rock-hard, deadly army. The list built itself. It simply requires a few tweaks for points.*
In short, to build a list, I do the following.
1) Find a concept to build the list around.
2) Build a battle plan around that concept.
3) Include the pieces to fulfill that concept.
4) Add required things such as core troops.
5) Fiddle with the points until they fit.
*Note it DOES leave the army susceptible to magic, but this is somewhat deliberate. I like to always build in a weakness the savvy opponent can exploit.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Watchtower Battle, High Elf versus Lizardmen

As a general rule when playing wargames, I have gone with armies that fit my tactical acumen. Typically that means mobile, hard-hitting, rugged warriors.

Space marines in 40K. Bretonnians, Warriors of Chaos in Warhammer.

From time to time I branch 40K I used to be developing an Eldar army. Man how I loved the Warp Spiders. Great fun to play with. I loved some of the stunts I could pull off with them.

In Warhammer, I have experimented with Wood Elf, Orc and Goblin, Dwarf, Chaos Dwarf, and Lizardmen armies, but pretty much always come back to the WoC. Except for their lack of shooting, they are the perfect army for me. My preferred tactics work well with them.

Too well. I end up becoming rather predictable. By the time the second or third unit for each side has been set up, I more or less know when and where combat will be joined. I know what I want to happen and am able to get the guys I want to the place I want.

It does not ALWAYS work...but the percentages are with me.

So I wanted a more flexible army that fought in a different style.

So not too long ago I painted up most of a High Elf army and a month or so ago my brother and I started a 1k game between my High Elf and his Lizardman army.

When we first started playing warhammer Fullur was struggling. Tactics eluded him a bit, he struggled with force composition...but he kept using the same race and has progressively gotten better and better to where now he is likely to win any game he starts to play. His recent record has been among the top records in our group. This is something I am ecstatic about...

Anyhow, we rolled up the Watchtower scenario and I won the right to place a unit in there. Unfortunately, poor army building meant the unit I WANTED to put in Lothern Sea Guard...was too large. So I put nothing in instead.

I deployed to get as much shooting at him as possible while he deployed to get his Skink block at the tower quickly with the Saurus coming up behind.

We played the first few turns a couple months ago, so memory might be hazy, but what I recall is

He killed 3 of my Dragon Princes with his Razordon. I tried to bring them back with regrowth, not realizing I only got 1 per 2 when I rolled a 3, I only brought back one. They were slain by the kroxigor the next turn.

Meanwhile, his skinks got into the tower. But the next turn my Swordmasters charged in. This just in; elite High Elf Always Strike First with superior weapon skill, re-rolls to hit and needing 2s to kill versus...well...skinks...just might be a mis-match.

It was one of those epic charges I love so much about fantasy battle. Fortunately for me, I was on the right side of it. I do not think his skinks even got to swing back before they were mowed down and I took the tower.

This allowed my Wizard Lord to hurl Purple Sun at his Saurus block, killing just 5 or 6, but enough to force a break test...which, amazingly he failed, but only ran 4". Next turn he somehow failed to rally...and again fled just 4".

Meanwhile, his Carnosaur riding Scar-vet charged into my big block of seaguard. I challenged with my champ, he killed him with a few points of overkill, my ranks & banner won the combat.

Over the next few turns this combat would get more and more involved as my Eagle charged the back of his Carnosaur, his Terradons charged the rear of my eagle, his Kroxigor unit tried to reach the combat. Failed its charge, my Repeater Bolt Thrower

Each turn he would kill my champ, on my turn I would get my champ back with a successful Life was a real meatgrinder.

Back at the watchtower his salamander ate its handlers and got the result where it just shoots at the nearest enemy every Swordmasters in the building.

All game I had avoided shooting at his Engine because I did not want to remind him it could use Burning Alignment. Instead I shot his kroxigor unit, whittling them down to 1 krox. He was wheeling another skink unit through the forest to get at my Repeater bolt thrower.

Finally his krox made it into the combat. I actually did a wound with my spearmen, my eagle killed his last terradon, he whiffed his attacks. Then he remembered his killed a Sea guard...and by that thin a margin, his Carnosaur stayed in the fight. Without that one extra wound he would have broken.

His Krox did break. By now, however, the Skinks were into my Bolt thrower and now he started using burning alignment.

Then came the fateful moment.

He cast Chain Lightning at my Swordmasters. He was using a level 2 and rolled poorly. I used my Level 4 and the same number of dice...and failed to block it.

It did several casualties.I then rolled under his total, so he got harmonic convergence off on his carnosaur.

Then Burning alignment hit hard. Then the Salamander ripped mighty gashes through others. I was left with just 2 Swordmasters and my level 4...having started the turn with 9 or 10 Swordmasters and the level 4.

He killed my champ with his carnosaur.

My turn; I tried regrowth with most of my power dice...and rolled poorly. He dispelled it. I used the last of my dice trying the transformation of kadon...and he dispelled it.

For all intents and purposes, it now came down to me hoping to roll a 5+ at the end of the turn to end the game.

In close combat his skinks finished off my warmachine crew. Harmonic convergence was cast with irresistible. He took a s10 hit...and rolled a 1. Ha ha ha ha nice! But then he failed the roll to keep his wizard around and died anyway.

We were not sure if Harmonic stayed in play after caster died, so we ruled it did. (It was a typical Starving Crazed Weasels rules discussion; he argued it did not since that would favor me and I ruled it did since it would favor him. Since I am bigger, older, and my flatulence reaks worse...I won the debate.)

It then made it so all his carnosaur/veteran attacks hit...and meant any that failed to wound would get a reroll. He tore a mighty hole through my Sea guard. Still, I was steadfast...oops. Broke. Got run down.

I was now down to 3 Sowrdmasters and a Wizard against a Kroxogor, a Scar-vet on Carnosaur, 15ish Saurus, 10 or so skinks, a salamander...

Yeah, so...I rolled a 2 and the game continued.

He charged in with his Saurus, killed me, and for the first time I can remember I got tabled.

I have come close twice against the dark elves, but each time had a couple irrelevant models left. This...this was devastation.

The thing is, the game completely turned on turn 4 when all his magic went off and mine all got stuffed...but I lost the game earlier than that.

Plain and simple, I got out-played.

I know WHY I put the Swordmasters in the tower...their S5 could hurt the Saurus I expected him to attack with. The S3 Sea Guard? Not so much.

BUT I needed to stick my largest, most resilient unit in the tower. that would be the Sea Guard. Instead I tied them down in a pointless battle they had little chance in. Basically they needed to get the Carnosaur to fail a LD8 check on 3 dice...a highly unlikely occurrence. Sure, I won combat after combat...but I was using my resources improperly.

Meanwhile, he concentrated more than sufficient force at the only place it mattered...the building. Even if I got lucky against his Scar distracted me from defending the tower.

His use of magic was outstanding. Mine? Not so much. I should have done regrowth a turn earlier, concentrated on buffs instead of Purple Sun...or even gone the Transformation route to kill his Carnosaur/Scar vet thus allowing my Sea Guard to help out around the tower.

I got outmaneuvered, out-strategized, and just generally outplayed.

That meant when just a couple small things did not go perfectly for me, I had no chance to recover. He, meanwhile, when things went wrong (Saurus breaking twice without seeing combat, his handlers getting eaten, his Kroxigor failing a charge and then breaking) had the right troops in the right location so those failures did not matter.

Well done, Fullur. I look forward to our next game!