First, Gorbad Ironclaw. He "unlocks" my ability to make any number of units Big Uns which to me are well worth the points. So really I am paying 375 points to make 2 extra units Big Uns. That is how much I believe in that extra pip of strength...
Second, the Arachnarok spider. Assembling it is a pain in the rear, painting it not fun...but I want very much to try it out.
Third, the Mangler Squig.
So I made my typical "take on any army in any scenario" army and headed off to battle Fullur.
We rolled up Watchtower. That is one thing I LOVE about 8th Edition. Instead of endless, repetitive "Battle Lines" there are things like Watchtower and Blood and Glory, easily my two favorite scenarios from the new edition which make it a different and, in my opinion, better game.
I felt fortunate to "win" the right to occupy the tower. I had included a unit of Savage Orc Big Uns for this express purpose; with Frenzy and Extra Hand Weapons they can deal out 31 S5 attacks in close combat as long as they have 10 guys (including champion), and with their 6+ Warpaint save, they can take a pounding as well. In the tower they went.
He planted a largish Greatsword unit with 2 detachments slightly off center. I then experienced something I rarely face; I had too many units to be useful. I typically play elite armies where I can deploy everyone. However, with massive amounts of terrain on the field, I was going to struggle to defend the watchtower.
In the end I decided to use my Trolls and Mangler Squigs as a sort of "screen" and planned to rush my close combat units as quick as possible to keep him from assaulting the tower.
He outsmarted me in set-up. It has been a long time since scouts have ben an issue for me. This time he spotted my Doom Diver alone on my left flank and put his scouts 12-1/4" away. Oops.
Empire Turn 1
Leitdorf passes his test. The Steam Tank dials up 4 Steam points. He moves his cavalry on my right flank forward, then tank blows forward 12" on my left flank, his greatswords and scouts make minimal advances. Perfect.
He is set up to draw me into the center and ave hard-hitting units on my flanks in a "pincer" movement.
The Winds are great for him; he rolls double 3s, I channel one to get to 4 and he channels 2, plus has the Magic Arcanum. Still, the only one I care about is Wyssans, thinking it is Remains in Play so I stop it and do not bother trying to block anything else.
Then he shows the strength of the Empire. The Volley Gun opens up on the Watchtower, followed by 2 units of handgunners.e kills 6 of my garrison in one go. Uh-oh.
His cannon picks off one Spider Rider due to unlucky bounce roll and his Skirmishers cannot wound the Doom Diver.
My 100 man unit of Night Goblin archers promptly fails their Animosity test. Gorbad's special rule turns the result into a Waagh so they instantly turn and start heading towards his Skirmishers.
In the process they hit the Mysterious River and gain a benefit. The Spider Riders dash over to block him off and also find a benefit.
I move my Mangler on the right and put the trolls spaced so if he wants to charge he has to hit a troll or the Mangler. I thought he would have my troll flank if he charged with his knights...but really, it is a Troll. Do I care if he is on the flank? Not really....and if he charges, wins...now his flank is there for me to charge or he can reform to face me and my Tusker charge will mow him down.
If he has a brain fart and charges the troll with his Greatswords, the Mangler is there so an over-run hits it...my plan is in place.
Time for Magic. His Steam Tank is going to be a problem on my left flank. I do not bother to read Curse of the Bad Moon but instead think it will wipe out the Steam Tank. I get it off successfully on the boosted version without mis-casting...but mis-place it to hit his Steam Tank and Organ Gun.
Better placement would have been to hit his handgunners. It does but one wound...so even if both Steam Tank and Organ Gun are hit (they were...barely...) they do not reduce his shooting whereas the handgunners reduce his volume on a one for one basis.
Anyway, I do take a wound off the steam tank but not the Organ Gun.
Shooting is a huge disappointment; the Animosity failure pulled the Archers out of position. The Spider Riders cannot wound a scout. This, by the way, is one reason I never take Spider Riders; their role is shooting harassment...which their stat line means they cannot fulfill. If they were 5 or 6 points each they MIGHT be a unit I take. In this case, they are double that or thereabouts; I took them (and the wolf riders...and Night Goblin Archers...)because I had the models and they were painted.
Empire Turn 2
Leitdorf fails his roll and grants Gorbad Hatred towards him. They will never meet so it is irrelevant...
The Steam Tank generates just 3 for fear that wound I put on it will matter. It does not as he rolls the 10. He ends up adding an extra steam point but taking wound 2. His knights charge my right-most troll which is in the bog that grants regenerate. His Steam Tank angles to hit my wolf riders with his shot.
His Knights charge my troll but prove to be in his front arc. I am not worried; my Regenerate should keep me alive long enough to attack back. I just want to Troll Vomit him, then flee and get the charge with my boars. Insert evil cackle here.
He rolls a whopping 3 for the Winds. I plan to stop Wyssans and play it by ear on anything else; I do have a Dispel Scroll.
Instead he gets Irresistible Force and the Knights have Wyssans. The Calamitous Detonation should hurt though; his Wizard and Battle priest fail their Look Out rolls; but the wiz is not wounded anyway. In fact, of the 12 potential S10 wounds...5 fail. 5. Still, he did 7 wounds to himself...so that was good.
Meanwhile, his wall of fire takes down 3 more of my Garrison. I was lucky there;
See, his well-positioned Steam Tank rolled perfect, hitting a full rank of 5 Wolf Riders and the building. But he rolled 2 ones to wound, so only 3 wolf riders died (thanks to the River spell, they auto-passed their LD test) and he rolled a "1" for how many guys in the building were hit.
But then his Handgunners, needing 7s to hit, manage to hit with a third of their shots and wound two more; I get some justice when I ward save one of them.
His scouts kill 2 of my Spider rides.
Meanwhile, Leitdorf wounds my troll 3 times. I regenerate one which means his knights get to fight; 4 wounds, none regenerated. Oops.
His overrun proves my plan worked, though; he hits the mangler Squigs; 9 of the 10 ensuing hits wound; he gets some luck as the bog's regenerate keeps 3 of them alive. Still, he cannot stand the heat and flees.
Orc Turn 2
This is the turn a failed animosity test will not matter but failed stupidity will hurt. Evey unit passes, though.
The Troll charges the fleeing knights who of course must flee causing him some anxious moments when it flees through the center of his battle line. The Troll re-directs onto his Greatswords with the Arachnarok following suit.
Meanwhile, the Wolf Riders charge the organ Gun and the Spider Riders charge his scouts.
I consider declaring the Waaagh. This turn could be key; making his Greatswords flee would be devastating. I need to ensure seeing off that deadly Organ Gun. Ultimately, though, the key turn will include a battle for the Wachtower itself. I decide to keep the Waaagh in my pocket.
I put my Lucky Shrunken Head Savage Orc Shaman in the Watchtower and also one of my Night Goblin Shamans.
I roll double 3s for the winds. He then channels 3 and I channel none. He has as many Dispel as I have magic.Grr. The Vortex stays in place (rolled a hit on the scatter dice) but fails to damage him; it does, however, kill 2 or 3 of my Wolf Riders. I have now done more damage to me than him with it.
I throw Gaze of Mork at the tank thinking I get more than a plus one. In retrospect...I got no bonus at all as no ORC units were in combat. even with my unintentional cheating I fail to wound the Steam Tank.
I then cast Gork'll Fix it at his Greatswords. It goes off irresistibly but I die to the result.I am not happy with that trade.
The Doom Diver hits the Steam tank, gets a 6, and manages to get tough 2 wounds. Sweet. Then my Night Goblin archers use the Volley Fire to get off an impressive 60 shots. Let us not forget they are Night Goblin archers, though...22 hits, 3 wounds, he saves just one. I just put 4 wounds on the Steam Tank in one turn, crippling it.
I consider my order of combats and ultimately decide to work left to right since there are no combats that will see the result of another one affect theirs. I am wrong, but more on that in a bit.
The Spiders kill 2. His character has 3 attacks...and cannot roll higher than a 2. He does kill one, I get another of his with my goblins, he flees, I run him down.
I then discover not only how bad Wolf Riders are (and I knew they sucked) but especially how bad they are against war machines. Only 2 cavalry models get to fght! You choose 6, but each cavalry counts as THREE models, not two. I went in planning 8 goblin and 5 spider attacks and got 3 and 2...with luck I still kill the machine off but am down to 4 wolf riders.
By the way, these will be the next to last points I score in the entire game...
His Master Engineer panics and flees, I over-run to get out of the line of fire of his handgunners. This is another mistake; I want to divert his fire from the tower, I could not care less about these guys. This is residue from playing armies where every casualty hurts badly.
Time for the big gun.
The Arachnarok goes first as his I5 guy had a great weapon. I must choose one attack to be Venomous Surge so I pick on his BSB. And promptly roll a 6 for tat, then a 2...one dead BSB. That was pure luck and pure awesome.
I then get a further 4 wounds from his regular attacks; Gork'll fix it turns three saves into fails on re-roll. I am impressed.
Then his Halberds attack the Troll. 5 hit, 4 wound, and...not one regenerate. Not one.O11 possible Regeneration opportunities, exactly one was successful. Oh, and the 5+ regular save and magic resistance I paid extra for? Neither ever came into play. Trolls are just as awesome as I have always found them to be...
His Halberds on the other side fail to wound the Arachnarok. The Goblins attack them back and do two wounds.
His Greatswords do 3 wounds. Uh-oh...I am actually losing combat by one when standards, ranks, charges are taken into account...but I roll a 3 for Thunderstomp, kill 2 and win the combat. Barely. I determine to seldom if ever again charge the Arachnarok in without some actual support...
Empire turn 3
Leitdorf passes. He calls 2 for Steam Tank points. There is a 5 in 6 chance he will get hurt this turn...but rolls a 2, the only result he could get that did not hurt him.
The Demigryph Knights charge Gorbad's unit.
I use my Dispel Scroll to stop his Wyssans. Everything else my Level 4 v. his level 1 means I can block with dice.
He just gets the Steam Tank into range to use the Steam on the Watchtower. I save one of the 2 wounds thanks to the enhanced Ward from the Lucky Shrunken Head. I save all three wounds his first handgnner unit does, 2 because of the Shrunken Head. Wow. The difference between a 5+ and a 6+ sure FEELS like a lot more than 18%...he does wound another with his other handgunner unit.
Meanwhile, when he charged with his Demigryph Knights, 2 of the 3 failed their dangerous terrain tests and were wounded. Gorbad's always strikes first no armor save attacks do 4 more wounds, so he is down 2 knights. He wounds my rank & file 3 times, 1 Warpaint save, so two down. I wound his last knight twice, he flees, I overrun but lose one of my own Savage Orcs to the dangerous terrain.These will be the last points I score...
Meanwhile, the Arachnarok is less impressive this time; he hits just twice, though that means two casualties. We get to my goblins without him doing any wounds; I put 4 attacks apiece on his battle priest and wizard; 1 wound to each. remember the calamitous detonation? That means the priest dies. Huzzah!
Orc Turn 3
Every unit passes animosity. Well, that is...every unit except Gorbads, which decides to sit on top of the bog staring aimlessly at the edge of the battlefield.
This will mean a wasted turn getting into position.
My big block of savage orcs moves forward to support the Arachnarock. One or two more turns an I will join the combat.
The Spider Riders enter the river, take the shooting spell, 9 hits wipe them out, the Night goblins panic and flee...no wiping out the Steam Tank this turn.
I get Ere We Go off, then Gaze of Mork fails to wound the tank. The Doom Diver misses.
Arachnarok misses on 5 of his attacks...but Ere We Go turns every one of them to a hit. 8 for 8. The Venomous Surge had been directed at the wizard; no surge, but still kills him. he saves just one of the other 7 hits so 6 die.
His Halberds whiff.
The goblins use Ere We go to get all 8 hits successfully, wounding 3, and 2 of those die. when his Greatswords whiff, he passes his tests, but we take stock;
He has plans, nothing to get into the Watchtower, has just a few knights, couple units of handgunners, 2 detachments of Halberds left. Gorbad is around, the big Savage Orc unit and Night Goblin archers (if they come back) are untouched...he cannot take the tower, and if he does cannot hold it. The Arachnarok...or, as Space Monkey dubbed it, Deathnarok should finish off the Greatswords next turn and the Halberds are not getting the job done...we call it.
OVERALL he rolled really well. However, at the key moments he rolled poorly. Also, his army setup which at first scared me might not have been able to take the tower under any circumstances.
As soon as I tied up his Greatswords, there was nothing but shooting left to attack the tower; and with the hard cover granted by buildings, he simply could not generate enough firepower to take them out quick enough.
Even had he finished them off with shooting, I would get my 30 man block in there and be untouchable. Or if he assaulted with a handgunner unit and won, I had plenty of force to evict him.
Second, magic was game-changing. When I hexed his unit in one turn, it cost him about 10 wounds and saves as he had to re-roll numerous successful saves which became fails, hits which became misses and wounds which became whiffs. Deathnarok probably would have died in turn two on his turn and definitely in turn 3 without Gork'll Fix it, and 'Ere We Go was worth a whopping 10 extra wounds in the defining round of combat.
The funny thing about it is I was and am underwhelmed by the overall power of the Big and Little Waaaghs. There was one turn early where he had used all his Dispel Dice, I had three dice left and nothing I particularly wanted to cast...nor did either lore attribute ever come into play.
Still, there were 4 models that determined this game. Deathnarok, Gorbad, Night Goblin Shaman and Mangler Squig.
The Mangler changed a strong advantage for him into a massive advantage for me. If he hits Gorbad's unit on the charge, all those S6 attacks are going to hurt me badly. Instead they fled and were never a factor again.
Gorbad turned a failed animosity test into a good thing. Ironically, the thing I paid the extra points for...his ability to make any number of Orc Units Big Unz...never mattered as the only unit that saw combat would be the one that is Big Un anyway...
But being the BSB and General, the expanded 18" bubble...those were huge.
And Deathnarok single-handedly reduced the Greatswords and three characters from dangerous battle force to no characters and I think 4 or 5 models...nothing I was scared of even with Night Goblins...
Looking back I see several errors I made. Each was minor and did not affect the outcome...but are things to work on. Target selection is the biggest.
Early on I was sure I was going to lose. His shooting was taking out my garrison at a frightening place, his Steam Tank alone was dominating my left flank and my cramped position was taking me too long to get my Sage orcs and Boar Boyz into action. then he took 3 wounds off my Deathnarok in one go...
Slowly the game turned, though. The Mangler Squig was the key point. It let me get into his Greatswords. I do not know they would have gone after the tower if he had been able to tie up Gorbad and the Savage Orc Big Unz and have the Demigryphs to deal with my 30-strong Savage orcs...but I know that being able to tie them up with the Deathnarok due to his fleeing knights removed that option from him.
Ultimately, this was a very entertaining game and I hope to play many more like it.
Oh, and the irony here? At the moment we called the game, I suspect he was ahead on points; He scored over three hundred, I doubt I had that many...