Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beastmen v. Tomb Kings

 Some of you may have been watching the slow but steady progress of my Beastmen army painting. Obviously my updating of it is a bit behind as I have completed a chariot, several heroes and the minotaur since then.

In fact, I have painted all the models I exchanged my once-well loved Wood Elf army for. So I was kind of wanting a game with them. My brother Ken came through, accepting a challenge for a Beastmen v. Tomb Kings battle.

It would be an epic battle between two of the lowest-regarded books currently.

Now, on the one hand this is advantageous for me. I have found a build for the Beastmen that looks like it would be both fun and effective. On the down side...I do not yet have the models to put it together.

On the other hand, there is a certain disadvantage. Back in 1995 I was unquestionably better at Warhammer than my brothers. Of course, back then I also had a lot of power gamer/waac type stuff in me. My Brettonian list involved a Lord character on dragon, a few archers, and the rest Grail Knights. It was all but untouchable in that edition and pretty stupid of me.

I would no longer argue I am the better player. In fact, if you had to pick one player in our group who I believe is currently the best, it would be Ken.

Part of that revolves around his list building. He mixes up his lists so well that I often have no idea what he will bring. This is not always true for the rest of us.

With me, for example, you know my WoC list will revolve around Knights. Everything else is just filler. Same with Liam's Bretonnians.

Kev's Skaven will always have the Plague Furnace, HPA, and Doomwheel with miscellaneous other stuff filling in around it.

Fullur will bring boatloads of skinks, some temple guard, slann, and a stegadon.

Ken does the best job of any of us of changing up his lists.

Then he deploys them well, maneuvers them with talent, and tends to maximize his advantages.

In short, any time I can win against him I figure I have done exceptionally well. In our group, I always feel I had to play well to come out on top. But with him I feel like I cannot make any mistakes and win. Which is good.

Well, anyway, I started to build a form of the list I am working towards building overall. But then something happened. I decided I really, really, really wanted to try a doombull. This already throws me off trail because it costs me that LD9 re-rollable big block I typically center my beastmen lists around.

So I decided to take it a step further. I went with a Gorebull as my bsb, costing myself another dip from LD8 to LD7.

Instead of multiple mobile blocks of Gor I horded 53, planting the Gorebull with Banner of the Beasts. To fill my core I upped my chariot plans from 0 to 3.

Going against prevailing wisdom I took a grand total of zero bestigor. I then fought prevailing wisdom by taking the vastly over-costed, nigh-defenseless Ghorgon. Then I followed up by taking 5 minotaur without doing the "plant a bunch of characters in there so the rank and file attack but do not get hit" mino-bus thing.

I had challenged him to a "soft" game between two low-ranked books. I felt like this was in the spirit of that. I "only" took 2 bray-shamans and a great bray-shaman instead of the 5 or 6ish I initially planned. I did come with a plan, though.

I expected him to take the special character who gave his entire army poison and figured to be facing blocks of skeleton archers hitting on 5s, doing wounds on 6s against my unarmored, no-save guys. So I was going to be flying towards him, hoping to get into combat on turn two as many people claim they unfailingly manage. With minimum 7" moves, this seemed possible.

The big Gor block should be steadfast for quite a while, so re-rolling on LD7 and tying up his expected Tomb Guard and/or Skeleton blocks. Meanwhile, my Chariots and Minotaur would sweep up the flanks close by, charging in to benefit from their impact hits to do some real damage.

It was really the Doombull and minotaur I was centering my battle plan around. Much like the Wood Elf Wardancers, Dragon Ogre Shaggoth, Galrauch, and the Chaos Knights I had mighty expectations for them.

 We rolled up Battle for the Pass, a scenario I had yet to play. With no less than three @#$%^ mysterious forests hanging out, I had to think about my plan. I decided to put the massive Gor block in the center. My BSB would go here, and by turn 2 everyone would be within range of the banner.  My three chariots went on my left, my Ghorgon and minos on the right.

As we set up, I began to see the first flaw in my plan. He had a couple chariot units. A casket. Not one guy on foot in unit form. Gulp. No stomp/thunderstomp for me. Already the Wardancer debut loomed in my head for the minos and the Shaggoth for the less-anticipated Ghorgon debut.

He set up one chariot unit on each flank and, wonder of wonders, had no hill in his deployment zone for his casket. I caught a break.

Beastmen Turn 1
I marched my gor forward, then made mistake one. Remember, the whole plan was to get everyone close to the banner. That means the Chariots should have circled behind the Gor. Instead I...moved them forward.

I then rolled snake-eyes for magic. With the Herdstone and a couple channels from the Arcane Ruins I got up to 5 or 6 magic dice. No point to any spell at this point so it did not really hurt me.

Tomb King 1
He has no ability to march. Still, he advances full speed. magic phase, I let him move everything forward since I want us in close combat ASAP. I try to stop his bowfire via magic but take a wound to a mino anyway.

Beastmen 2
I realize I had erred in turn one so turn my chariots to get close to the banner, then twitch the minos over to get in range. This turn probably should have been full advance, but I took the time to correct for my turn 1 error. Also, if he did full advance, then I stopped his magic I could charge in with my minos, get some nice impact hits and brutalize him.

I then miasma his chariots on my left flank, dropping their movement by 3. I want them out of the battle. I get Wyssans wildform on teh gor just in case he gets into them with Ushabti or Bone Giants. He then uses some TK item to auto-stop my pit of shades on his left side chariots.

Tomb King 2
He moves his chariots forward to where my minos will charge next turn. I have been saving my Dispel scroll for this turn. I am going to stop his charge so I get the charge and the impact hits.

Then I misunderstand his magic phase. I think I have to stop 8 attempts at the movement spell. After I stop the first, I think there are still 6 to go (notice the addition issue there) and, figuring I cannot stop them all, decide to try to stop the bonus attack and/or Casket.

So now his chariots boosted by a couple heroes slam into my minos. I then fluff my dispel roll and he gets the bonus attack. His Tomb King? Prince? wounds the mino champ, the other guys put 2 wounds on the rank and file. I have lost a mino already.

Meanwhile, on the other flank he gets off a few potshots at my chariots, wounding one.

His chariots are fierce, slapping down 13(!) impact hits, doing 8 wounds and killing the rest of my rank and file. In the obligatory challenge, his TK kills my mino champ.

So...yeah. Unlike the legendary fluffed Wardancer epic debut charge of failure, more like the Shaggoth debut of disappointment...all 5 minotaur died without ever getting to swing.

We later talked about it quite a bit and decided I should have taken the challenge with my Doombull, thus guaranteeing the champ could attack and my Doombull probably kills his TK. But my thought process was the Doombull's massive number of attacks should wreak havoc on his chariots.

He did. He hit 8 times, wounding 5, he saves none. He then wounds me back once which I save. I have the stubborn hat and BSB. I pass exactly on my LD8.

Great, epic charge. That is the type of charge I love. And he executed it perfectly, outplaying me badly and doing incredible quantities of damage.

Then again...the Doombull brutalized him right back, really doing a number on his poor chariots. So great, great combat.

Honestly, at this point I was thinking I was doomed. The Gor were there to withstand something like that chariot charge via re-rolls and steadfast, thus allowing the Minotaurs to sweep in and do damage. I had little faith in the Gor to do enough damage to make up for the 345 points just swept away.

Beastmen 3
My Ghorgon charged headlong into the front of his chariot line while my Gor flank him. My chariots irresolutely move back to pseudo-protect the Bray Shaman herdstone/Arcane Ruin magic park.

This will be the key turn. I need some big magic. Slap a Miasma or two on the chariots, a Wyssans and/or Okrans Mindrazor on the Gor and I can really do some work.

OR....I can roll snake-eyes for magic for the second time in the battle. then channel just 2, so I only have 6 magic dice for the key turn.


well, I start with an enfeebling foe with three dice, hoping to draw out his Dispel Scroll, then either wyssans or Mindrazor. Instead I get irresistible force, lose 2 levels and only accomplish reducing his S by 1. I then fail to get enough force for Wyssans. Epic fail.

Oh, the humanity. Wait, beastmen. Oh, the bestiality...wait a second...lets go back to the first. It was not a good moment for my morale.

This time I accept his challenge with my Doombull. He gets always strike first with some magic item, needs 4s, attacks 5 times and 4 of them hit. Then, needing 5s to wound, he wounds me 3 times. Needing a 5 to save, I save 1. I then hit him 5 times, wounding him back 3 times, he saves that same one.

The Ghorgon is more successful, with 5 hits, 3 wounds.

Then...the power of the Beast-Banner strengthened Gor.

Due to the length of his two ranks deep chariots, I get all 10 in contact. With the front row having frenzy from the Gorebull and extra hand weapon, that gave me a whopping 50 attacks; 30 from the front row, 10 from each of the next two. Slightly less/more as my Great Bray-Shaman and Gorebull replaced 2 of those.

Anyway, I hit 27 times and wound 13 times, he saves just 2. I end up winning even more epically than he did (by 19)! and he disappears to combat resolution. I follow just 7". Bad, bad position for me to be in.

Tomb King 3
His bone giant flank charges my Gor. His Ushabti rear charge them.

I try to dispel his bonus chariot move and fail to do so. They will be on my magic park next turn. Fortunately, he fails his charge this turn so moves only 4" extra.

I debate a long time about his righteous smiting ushabti attack on my gor. Ultimately, I make the single best decision I have made all game. I decide the point of a horde is to absorb casualties and still attack. I save my dice for the casket.

His Ushabti manage just one wound. I stop his giant from getting it when he rolls poorly, then stuff the casket again.

My Gorebull BSB makes way to face the Giant. I hit and wound 3 times. I am impressed. Everyone left is initiative 3 so will attack simultaneously.

The Gor hit the bone giant 4 times, but can muster just 1 wound which he saves. I hit the Ushabti 12 times, doing 4 wounds, of which he saves just 1.

The bone giant goes after the Gorebull. This was the chance I took. If he kills him, I will lose my LD re-roll. Fortunately, he whiffs all but one attack which fails to wound. The Ushabti do markedly better on my r&f gor, hitting 8 times and killing 7. He then stomps pretty good but the thunderstomp rolls just 1, so he kills just 4 more gor.

Still, he wins handily between his 11 wounds, charge, flank and rear. But I am steadfast and pass. I fail the reform roll by...well, bt the one point of LD difference between a Doombull and Beastlord.

At this point I have one chariot that will flank charge his Ushabti next turn. The other two will be moving to protect my two bray Shaman. That means he is likely to get 2 of my three chariots and the 2 bray-shaman in the next couple of turns.

Meanwhile, I need the Gor to hold off his Bone Giant long enough for the Ghorgon to sweep around the back and hit the Ushabti and the Doombull to go after his Bone Giant.

One bad roll kills by BSB and gives a good chance of my gor fleeing before that can happen. One good roll kills his Bone Giant and lets me concentrate on his Ushabti.

It is late, his kids want to watch The Sorcerers Apprentice, and this game has given us a great time.

He got off an epic charge. I got off an epic charge. I offer a draw. He accepts. I think it is a fitting end to this game.

He held an early advantage. I held a mid-game advantage. The dice could turn it into a massacre for either of us. I had a great time, I would just as soon reflect on it.

Well, as usual for me, a unit I looked forward to rolling out was a huge disappointment. But this one was different.

With the Wardancers, I will never not believe I played them correctly. I softened their target, charged the right unit at the right time and fluffed the rolls, only to run into some very good rolls.

With the Shaggoth I simply experienced one of the problems of running into a shooting heavy army with a lightly armored model and died to shooting.

With the Chaos Knights, I played them correctly and they inflicted mass carnage.

With my highly anticipated Minotaurs I simply got out-played. He out-maneuvered me to get the charge, then I took the challenge with the wrong model and thus died bloodily and deservedly. this was not a unit fail. It was combo player fail and opponent superior play. Mostly it was his better use of magic, so I do not feel badly about their performance. I am simply not good enough to stop the plan he developed and executed.

Meanwhile, the herdstone park performed outstanding. As he commented at one point, "you rolled snake-eyes for magic and have 6 dice." Yep. And it mattered. I think slowing his chariots on the left flank for that one turn made a huge difference.I think having enough dice to at least ATTEMPT Wyssans on the key turn despite rolling snake-eyes was huge.

And the Gor with Beast banner...hitting the flank, rolling all those dice...oh, I LOVED that. Still think I would have been better served with units of 20 and 30 for assistance if we had rolled Blood and Glory or Watchtower.

But there is something about rolling 50 S4 attacks that is just plain awesome.

Overall, I am going to declare my initial foray with the Beastmen a smashing success. I enjoyed the game, it was much more involved than sometimes I get with my Warriors of Chaos, and every turn except the first brought excitement.

Thanks too, to Fixed Dice for a most entertaining game.

On a completely unrelated note...Fullur, you should come to painting Friday. Come early. We will go by Performance Bike. Let you try riding a...well, different type of bike. I see why you drive to work. You should try it on a more comfortable bike.

All fear the Beastmen!


Darth Weasel said...

I just noticed the pictures have to be clicked on to see them in all their panoramic glory.

Fnurgn said...

Loved the read, cheers.

kennyB said...

The arcane ruins played a much bigger part than I had anticipated for you too. I will be more careful with my placement of it in the future! All things considered, good times, good times indeed :)

kev said...

Sounds like a really fun game.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the report, it was well written and easy to read. Most importantly, it sounds like the game was a lot of fun.

Do you think that (by adding the Gorebull BSB) exchanging primal fury for frenzy on the Gors was worth it? I haven't tested it, but I feel like 40 attacks (potentially) with re-rolls to hit should be better than 50 attacks.

Thanks for taking the time to share this, and thanks for your detailed conclusions.

Darth Weasel said...

Bovine, as for the Gorebull thing...mathematically speaking it is indisputably the wrong move. I only gain 10 attacks since supporting attacks are just one apiece, whereas for the cost of losing those 10 attacks I gain up to 40 re-rolls.

However, there are other considerations. The gain of immunity to fear and terror is nice, and the vastly more survivable BSB is pretty important.

I think if I were making a hard as nails list I would probably make my BSB as survivable as possible and keep Gorebulls out of the unit.

But making a list that fits my personality, I just loved the fury of the Goebull and Doombull.

As an aside, using one of those with the Minotaur is pretty much a no-brainer since they do not get Primal Fury...