Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Game 28 - Dwarves - 2012/06/21

Greetings!

The fifth battle was to be Battle for the Pass and I was about to face the army which is probably one of the best suited for that scenario ... Dwarves :) However, to make things more interesting tournament organizers decided that there will be 3 markers going across the middle of the pass. Each marker was worth 500VP if there was a unit with a banner in 6" away from it. On the other hand, the objective could be contested by any other unit of the enemy also in 6" from it. A very interesting twist if you ask me.

Army List and pre-battle considerations

My opponent, James, was very curious about playing High Elves. He also had an interesting and quite compact force of tough and relentless warriors. Despite the fact that Dwarves are also a very difficult opponent for my army I was looking forward to playing that game as two forces with completely (if not opposite) approaches to warfare were about to clash.

When my army relies on speed and maneuver, James's force is at its best forming shieldwall and obliterating enemy with his insanely accurate war machines. Yet another episode from War of the Beard :)

Dwarves - Army List

I hope that James is going to read this battle report and correct all the details about the runes as I don't remember all of them 

Dwarf King with Shieldbearers
Runelord with Anvil of Doom, Rune of Spellbreaking
BSB
Engineer


3 x 25 Warriors, Great Weapons, Full Command
28 Hammerers, Full Command, Master Rune of Grungni

Grudge Thrower, Rune of Accuracy, Rune of Penetrating x2
Grudge Thrower, Rune of Accuracy, Rune of Penetrating
Cannon, Rune of Burning, Rune of Forging
"Only" 3 war machines but very accurate and very reliable (especially with an engineer nearby in the case of Grudge Throwers). 4 big infantry blocks, especially on the narrower frontage due to scenario rules are difficult to move and frontal assault can be disastrous and would be very bloody too. Anvil of Doom made any flanking maneuvers more dangerous as Dwarven regiments always could turn around and charge.

However, I thought I could have a chance because of much greater number of troops so that at least some units could get to the war machines. I needed to do that quickly though as every turn of shooting is very dangerous to my regiments. I also decided to form my units in 2 lines to minimize the number of hits from the Grudge Throwers and the whole army were to form 2 lines. Front line would carry the fight to the enemy while the second line, with regiments with banners would try to capture the objectives or at least contest them. I also decided to keep shooting with all my units at Hammerers even when I learned about their additional protection against that form of an attack. The reason was that they offered that protection to nearby regiments anyway and with every dead Hammerer I had a greater chance to finish them in last charge (if possible) as otherwise they would be unmovable.

Deployment

Armies ready for battle - my hands are still shaking after the defeat in previous game :)

Deployment after vanguard moves

My archmage got following spells:

Drain Magic (haha!), Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Fury of Khaine, Flames of the Phoenix

Unsurprisingly James won the roll off and his was first turn.

Dwarves - Turn 1
 

Dwarven artillery opened fire and my hands stared to shake again!

Dwarves take up positions and form their famous shield wall

Dwarven warriors moved forward a little and waited patiently for the enemy to come to them. Engineer guided artillery battery of grudge throwers which took aim at the SeaGuard with Archmage. Very accurate fire killed all but few survivors. This was according to the plan as thanks to that elven Archmage was clearly visible now and cannon crew had the order to aim at him as well but fortunately for Elves the cannon ball fell short this time.

Outcasts - Turn 1
First line of the elven army moves forward
Second line takes up defensive positions
Cavalry and Swordmasters on the Northern side of the pass moved together as one towards Dwarven lines. On the South light cavalry spotted a narrow gap between enemy regiments and moved there to break through and attack deadly artillery. In the meantime Archmage and all bow armed infantry aimed at Hammerers and a full rank of King's guard perished.

Dwarves - Turn 2
Barrage continues
Hammerers reform to protect the artillery

Combat regiments of the Dwarves didn't move much this time. Only Hammerers reformed quickly to block the passage for swift elven cavalry.

Each war machine aimed at different targets. Because of that both eagles were dead and one regiment of Swordmasters was reduced to 3 warriors who, however, were willing to continue to fight. Anvil of Doom spoke too but only single Reaver fell from his steed as a result.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Elves close in but the Dwarven line remains solid

Hammerers get shot again

Despite casualties Elves move forward. Light cavalry withdraw and waited for another opportunity for an opening in the enemy formation. Hammerers were again the target for Elven bows and some more of Dwarven elite were dead. Elven Arhmage lost concentration in the noise of Dwarven artillery but thanks to all nearby he quickly managed to contain the dangerous feedback. Two elven warriors were still dead as a consequence.

Dwarves - Turn 3
Dwarves decided to be more active
But their artillery is still deadly

Hammerers charged Ellyrian Reavers who withdrew and Dwarves halted content with chasing off their enemy. Nearby warriors, urged by the Anvil of Doom, charged Dragon Princes but they too withdrew. Elves were not yet ready for combat.

Dwarven artillery opened fire and another unit of Swordmasters almost ceased to exist as only 2 legendary warriors survived direct hit.

Outcasts - Turn 3
 
Elves still maneuver for better positions

Light cavalry finally finds some breaches in Dwarven formation

Elven army patiently is looking for openings and this time light cavalry manages to pass by enemy troops and position itself form the charge against enemy artillery. Other regiments try to outflank enemy formation. Elven shooters let loose yet another volley and Hammerers are reduced to a thin, single line.

Dwarves - Turn 4

Dwarven units reach the objectives
Dwarves control 2 out of 3 objectives now

Dwarven King orders his guard to enter the nearby tower. It is a perfect strategic position as they can control the central objective from there while being in good defensive spot where surprisingly deadly elven arrows cannot reach them that easily.

The engineer also exposes himself for a charge of a light cavalry to protect the artillery. Unfortunately he cannot supervise the battery as efficiently and one of the grudge throwers malfunctions. What a shame! The crew worked hard to fix it but it was clear it is going to take a while. Second crew did their job perfectly though and again regiment of Sea Guard was reduced to a few survivors and again cannon crew aimed at elven Archmage. This time the shot was perfect but by some twist of fate the cannonball only touched the wizard who was wounded but still alive.

Outcasts - Turn 4

Finally elves can charge the enemy

Pay back time - elves attack the cannon

One unit of Ellyrian Reavers charges the cannon and despite brave stand of dwarven crew the war machine is destroyed. Second unit of Reavers rode to the flank of the malfunctioned grudge thrower but not exactly out of sight of the engineer. Dragon Princes marched moved through the forest to attack artillery from the North but treacherous woods claimed two of the elven knights. Remaining elven shooters kept firing at Hammerers but it was very difficult to kill any now.

Dwarves - Turn 5



The only intact war machine was not able to aim at elven archers and characters who joined them so it shot at survivors of one of the sea guard unit and finished them off. Engineer attacked elven light cavalry but instead of crushing them he was wounded instead. Warriors, with the aid of Anvil of Doom chased Dragon Princes away and they were forced to withdraw from the battle. In the meantime Dwarven King and his Battle Standard Bearer decided to punish cowardly elves and run towards them while ordering Hammerers to guard the tower.

Outcasts - Turn 5

High Elves prepare a trap
Swordmasters avenge their fallen brethren
Two Swordmasters took the opportunity and charged exposed dwarven crew who broke from combat and were chased down. Pursuit took Swordmasters into combat with another crew while engineer and elven light cavalry were locked in combat.

White Lions and Dragon Princes moved to the sides of the Warriors unit to attack it soon. Archers managed one more volley against Hammerers but could not kill them all.

Dwarves - Turn 6
Last Dwarven charges
Dwarven King urged his shield bearers to attack the unit with elven Archmage but it withdrew so they carried their lord to the fight with another archer regiment. However, in doing so they somehow lost balance and almost dropped the shield and the King on top of it cursed so powerfully that it would make Black Orc Warlord pale. Young elven archers were not accustomed to such a vicious attack and no wonder some of them simply fainted. But the rest of the unit held fast.

Dwarven engineer fought bravely but this time light cavalry got him. His artillery battery was destroyed anyway as Swordmasters didn't give a chance for second grudge thrower crew. Nearby Warriors, again with a help of Anvil of Doom, chased reavers and Swordmasters not engaged in combat but they withdrew from such uneven fight.

Outcasts - Turn 6


Devastating charge by elven elites
Elves manage to snatch the 2 objectives from Dwarven hands (I forgot to show that sea guard moved to contest the middle marker)


Elven troops rallied and observed the outcome of the last combat. Even Dwarven King stopped killing helpless archers for a while. White Lions and Dragon Princes inflicted horrendous casualties upon Dwarven warriors. There were not enough of the them left standing to hold the line and survivors broke but were not run down by pursuing cavalry. White Lions remained in position to secure the objective.

Seeing this Dwarven King sounded the retreat since his army was bloodied and he needed to reform to continue blocking the pass. Elves, although didn't break through yet, managed to secure key points to press forward another day.

After-battle thoughts

When we calculated the points it appeared we got almost the same amount of them so it was up to the extras gained from the scenario rules and since I controlled two and contested one it meant HE army won this difficult battle!

I knew Dwarven artillery is very accurate and powerful but what I saw this game is worse than I expected. Normal catapults need 4+ to wound my troops but runes of penetration meant that whatever was touched was as good as dead. No wonder I was taking 9-10 elves from single shot of grudge thrower sometimes. It means I need to deploy in a single line is possible. :)

Because of that I also didn't anticipate smart way of shooting James employed. I thought my Archmage is safe while he was not. I was very lucky he survived and maybe it was good idea to let him run towards the tower for extra protection. Fortunately I had enough units for him to jump from one to another.

It was also difficult for me to get to the war machines but also for James to stop my much faster army. He told me after the game he was surprised how quickly it can move and maybe that is the reason he left some unfinished business here and there. As good as charging with units thanks to Anvil is I think he would have done better by finishing off these 2-3 strong regiments of Swordmasters to get points for them and to prevent them from doing some harm in the end. Maybe I would get to his war machines with my light cavalry eventually but he would have 1-2 more shooting phases too.

I am not sure why he didn't reform his warriors for the last combat so that they would face one of my units. He would have more attacks which might not help him to win the fight but he had a chance to kill some elves. I would reform so that warriors would face Dragon Princes. Then I would have to decide if I want to charge them in and risk elimination of my cavalry unit (with 11 S5 attacks it was possible) or send in Lions only with no chance to break steadfast and then he might have even hold thus contesting the objective.

On the other hand I missed the opportunity I noticed only when writing the report. I was so focused on keeping the northern mark with another unit of Lions I didn't notice I could actually charge few hammerers in the tower and had a better chance to kill them than a few archers had. This would give me some extra points and I could have claimed central marker too!

In the end I am very happy with the outcome anyway. I think adding the markers is a good idea as it prevents castling with some armies which leads to boring games. However, 500VP for a single objective seems a little bit too much I think as it is possible to capture all of them for massive 1500VP bonus.

I think the battle also nicely shows that two extremely different approaches kind of balance each other out. First turns were for Dwarves who punished my units greatly. But then I got some revenge thanks to my greater maneuverability. We also agreed with James that his army could use a unit of 10 quarrelers just for situations when it is good to finish some stragglers but it is a waste of artillery shots to do so.

Thanks for the reading! :)

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