Thursday, 18 September 2014

Game 34 - Dwarves - 2012/09/09

Greetings!

After longer than expected break in gaming I had a chance for a rematch against Dwarven castle led by Targ Ironfist. I had a new plan how to storm it and I was very keen to test it. I also made an adjustment in my army list.

Army Lists and pre-battle considerations
I knew I have to do something about Organ Guns before I approached the lines of the enemy. Since he had protective banner against shooting his other troops were much better protected with combination of more wounds to inflict, armor and ward save. Despite the fact I had to roll 6's to wound I believed I had a chance to destroy them faster than 10 quarrelers. However, I didn't know how exactly his castle is going to look like this time and that is why I decided to deploy my elites in the middle first so that I could shuffle to the flank I wanted to while be able to position my shooters where I needed them the most. I also thought that this would help me to be out of range and sight of some of Dwarven missile troops so I could bear more numbers to the shooting duel. If I had some woods to offer additional protection it would be great.

The other part of the army were to maneuver carefully to be able to move all at once so that Organ Gun on the other side could not kill them all. I also wanted to use White Lions to protect Swordmasters from missile fire so I was looking for chances to deploy my elites in 2 thin lines to minimize casualties from cannons. Ok, army lists:

Dwarves - Army List

King with Shield Bearers
Runesmith, Master Rune of Balance, Rune of Spellbreaking
Battle Standard Bearer, Master Rune of Challenge

30 Warriorrs, Great Weapons, Full Command
33 Hammerers, Full Command, Master Rune of Grungni
10 Quarrelers, Shields
16 Quarrelers, Great Weapons
10 Slayers

2 x Organ Gun
Cannon, Rune of Forging, Rune of Burning
Cannon, Rune of Forging

Gyrocopter


The army didn't really change with the exception of the Master Rune of Challenge which was not a pleasant surprise. However, in general it was expected to play the same castle formation as usual.

Outcasts - Army List

I added a Noble at a price of one Dragon Princes regiment. Of course against Dwarven war machines he might be easy target so I could not run him alone but his equipment should be handy against characters.

Archmage, Annulian Crystal - High Magic
BSB, Heavy Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Dragon Helm, Reaver Bow
Noble, Dragon Armor, Barded Steed, Shield, Great Weapon, The Other Trickster's Shard, Helm of Fortune, Pigeon Pendant

10 Archers, Light Armor, Musician
10 Archers, Light Armor, Musician
15 LSG, Shields, Full Command
15 LSG, Shields, Full Command

10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Amulet of Light
10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Talisman of Loec
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard, Gleaming Pennant
5 Dragon Princes
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician

Great Eagle
Great Eagle


Deployment


Armies after vanguard moves
The rocks in the middle were soft cover and didn't block the line of sight. Big tower and small tower did. I wanted to use woods as cover and protection but after placing first LSG regiment closer to the center it happened it was Wildwood and I started losing some warriors due to angry trees. I misunderstood the rules for it too as I thought the test is only required in my movement phase. Mistake number 1.

Dwarves won the roll-off again and theirs was first turn.

Archmage had following spells: Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Courage of Aenarion, Fury of Khaine

Archmage begun the game with Swordmasters while BSB joined LSG. Noble was with Dragon Princes.

Dwarven Kings was outside his unit guarding war machines. BSB joined Hammerers while Runesmith led Warriors.

Dwarves - Turn 1

Not surprisingly the castle does not move much

Gyrocopter moved away from elves with bows and Organ Gun crew pulled their machine a little back to increase the distance from the enemy too. Despite no troops being in range of the Organ Guns rest of the Dwarven shooters did their job more than well. Combined effort of quarrelers, cannons and angry trees saw many elves dead. At this rate and with such efficiency there will be no bow armed elven warriors in very short time.

Outcasts - Turn 1
High Elves are naturally much more energetic

Light cavalry moved swiftly and angled in such way as not to expose the flank to cannons and be out of range of Organ Gun. One of the eagles flew to the relative safety of the big tower while the other one waited for his chance. Elite warriors moved around the woods, keeping the distance. On the left flank bloodied missile troops moved from treacherous woods and aimed at Organ Gun but despite many hits no crucial one was scored. While the troops braced themselves for another shooting phase another detonation occurred among their ranks:
Archibald the Archmage was in a very bad mood. He was bored, that for start. Then he was forced to assist the army against Dwarves. His magic never works against them but his companions didn't want to hear about that. And he just met that cute new magic adept in the library and promised her to give her some tutorials as she claimed she has some difficulties with geometry (parallel lines in particular) and some nuances of force application when friction is present eluded her. Now, how to make it possible for him to disappear in a convincing manner ... yes, that was an idea! He decided to create some fake detonation as if he was attacked by a daemon or some particular nasty magic flux would happen. In the resulting confusion nobody would notice that it was not real and he can fabricate some story later. The adept would be helpful with providing scratches and tearing his clothes a little so that the story would seem plausible. Perfect! So, let's make a little show of fireworks!

Ah well, cascading the Archmage with his very first spell is always fun and who cares about free 400VP for the enemy as a free gift, right? Losing some Swordmasters is also good, who needs them anyway? :)

Dwarves - Turn 2
Some more movement of Dwarves but is it really to get to the enemy faster?

Hammerers move forward as if to reach the enemy by themselves. Slayers move to intercept elves too. Gyrocopter protects the flank while Warriors reform into horde formation to protect the cannon. The King moves to block the gap.

Shooting seems to be as efficient as in the first round and 3 units are already reduced to the very insignificant number of warriors. Even BSB's regiment is not at proper strength and he has to encourage his warriors to hold.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Elves keep dancing around Dwarves. They are not impressed anyway

Hammerers start making obscene gestures and shout insults at LSG with BSB and they have no choice but to attack to avenge the honor of their mothers. But in the meantime they decided they can do so by shouting some insults back and stop their attack. Remnants of the archers and second LSG regiment move forward again and their shooting does nothing either.

Light troops pull back as they cannot sneak around shieldwall and do not want to expose themselves to gyro steam cannon. Eagles hop behind the big tower and the rest of the army moves toward the woods for protection.

Dwarves - Turn 3
Dwarves remain where they are - obviously

Gyrocopter pilot spotted a nice landing space where elven troops could not see him. It was a long flight and he could not use his gun this time. The King joined warriors. Hammerers content with insult shouting duel pulled back but Slayers moved forward instead daring elves to charge them.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves charge for the first time

BSB orders his LSG regiment to charge Slayers and 2 Archers follow too. They kill many Dwarves but survivors welcome the death in the close combat.

One of the eagles misunderstood the orders or maybe it was not yet good time for a bold move so all light troops prepared no landing zone for the annoying gyrocopter. Elites moved forward again and White Lions scouted the forest. It happened to be poisonous one and only thanks to their hunters skills they didn't suffer more dire consequences of that.

Dwarves - Turn 4
Dwarves wait patiently

Yet again Dwarves do not move much as they don't need to. Hammerers march towards the center and Gyrocopter flies to attack reavers, killing 2 with the steam cannon. Light horse do not panic but due to fog created by the cannon they cannot see their target anymore.

Organ Gun kills some lions, the cannon unhorses single Dragon Prince and quarrelers claim 2 elves each. Elven units keep melting away.

BSB and his regiments manage to finish remaining Slayers and prepared to charge quarrelers.

Outcasts - Turn 4
Elves on the right flank had their chance but failed

It was a chance to put some pressure on Dwarven line and elves didn't hesitate. Or did they?
Bob the Battle Standard Bearer was looking for another opponent. He much preferred to swing the sword than to carry the banner. He spotted quarrelers nearby and ordered the charge for all units nearby. But in the middle of the attack he noticed something is missing. The Banner! He forgot to take it, damn. Ok, everybody get back! We swore to protect the Banner with our lives! Hm, how interesting that he thought exactly that when crossbow bolts started to sing around and when he turned towards the enemy again he was looking at five barrels pointing exactly at him.

On the other flank elven troops created a deadly circle to be able to attack warriors from 3 sides with as many troops as possible. One of the eagles chased the gyrocopter and damaged it too. The pilot tried to disengage but the eagle kept tearing at rotors and finally the Dwarven machine crashed down.

Dwarves - Turn 5
This is what Dwarves call proper shooting phase
Hammerers continued their march towards the elves but as usual other troops didn't move. On the East BSB payed the price of being too slow to reach their target. Quarrelers and Organ Gun made sure they were all dead. Nearby archers where shot by the cannon. Also White Lions were not lucky and 10 hits from second Organ Gun saw them all dead. The King again moved out of the regiment to protect the war machines.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Despite horrible losses High Elves charge

Now or never. It was the only chance to attack warriors and break them with the sheer number of attacks elves could muster. They might not do it in one turn but with 4 regiments two turns should be sufficient. The orders were given and elves charged. Unfortunately, Swordmasters who made their charge roll lost 3 out of 7 of their numbers due to poison and dangerous terrain test and promptly failed their panic test. Reavers, Lions and Dragon Princes killed many warriors and Noble smashed runesmith in a challenge but remaining dwarves hacked all the lions in return. Dwarves lost combat but didn't break. These Swordmasters were really needed.

On the Eastern flank last unit of archers made it to the Organ Gun, killed two crewman and the last one panicked to the shame of his ancestors. Even nearby quarrelers lost their nerve. Could these Archers avenge their fallen brethren?

Dwarves - Turn 6
It is clear the castle held against another assault

Archers prepared to assault another war machine but unfortunately they were in the range of the grapeshot. As a result half of the unit died and survivors lost their heart and fled the battle never to rally.

Elven cavalry tried to push harder against the warriors but the many wounds inflicted were saved by dwarven armor and this time elves had to steady themselves.

More Swordmasters died due to shooting as did light horse and it looked like their long march was in vein.

Outcasts - Turn 6
Elves failed again

Not much could have been done. Only some very bad luck would see warriors to be defeated and it didn't happen as the last combat was a draw. Fleeing troops didn't rally and even panicked great eagle too.

High Elves lost again, badly. :(

After-battle thoughts

Another try to win against the castle and another failure. Ah well, painful lesson will be remembered. Let's see what really happened and what can be done better in the future. In general when playing against tough army one needs a sound plan and a little bit of luck. I made mistakes and had no luck unfortunately. Could I do something better? Of course :)

1. Deployment - I am not sure if deploying in single lines helped. I had more problems with moving the units. Maybe I simply should have deployed in 2 ranks as always but closer to the West and not that far away in the deployment zone. I did that because I didn't want to risk being in range of crossbows. Targ was rolling above average anytime he shot, no matter with or without penalties and wounding badly too.

I didn't take into account the fact that I can suffer from wildwood in both movement phases. I should have placed archers there to test first and deploy units outside when it was clear I cannot stay there without risking taking some more casualties. My own shooting was miserable and I could not roll a single 6 to wound in 2 rounds of shooting I had. Not to mention that I had much fewer warriors than I was comfortable with due to stellar performance of quarrelers and good use of rune of taunting.

2. Terrain - in general terrain should be an ally for an MSU army but clearly mysterious forests were my enemy. They did nothing to block enemy war machines but forced me to move around them and when I had no other choice but charge through them they punished me for transgression even harder. In that one moment I really missed bsb and I think he was much more needed on this flank, despite the fact he could shoot too. Also lack of magical protection was bad as shield of saphery could mitigate the losses a little. But then it would have been harder to achieve anyway.

3. Luck - or rather lack of it :) I don't like the saying that good general does not blame the dice. Maybe I would not go as far as to blame them but they didn't help in an uphill battle either. 400VP points is in itself a handicap hard to nullify from the enemy that is good at point denial. I needed to destroy 3 war machines alone to make up for it. Not rolling 7+ for charge range was painful as I lost BSB then. Good rolling for to hit, to wound and number of hits from Organ Guns when it mattered also added to the impression that my opponent had above average ratio of success. The most painful, however, was that DT test when I rolled triple 1 and failed panic test for Swordmasters. They would not add that much to the first combat as 2-3 were touching at the beginning but would be enormously helpful next rounds. The same goes with Archers who instead of killing at least one more machine (they were able to do so even with 3 of them remaining) they also fled the table. Another 250VP swing (half for archers, half for war machine) so it looks like I gave away 650VP for free.

What should I have done differently to improve my odds?

I wonder if instead of charging with BSB and LSG at quarrelers I should have march them full speed out of the crossbows arc of sight. I had 10 warriors left and I should survive the cannon and Organ Gun with at least BSB. He then would be able to destroy 2 war machines. Would he survive later? I don't know but maybe I would save archers too while getting some more points back. 7+ is not the best result one can aim for so getting closer to the enemy might have been better here.

There was nothing I could do about cascade though and nothing to affect mysterious forests rolls not to mention dangerous terrain test.

I still believe MSU armies can fight against castles although I am fully aware that I am giving the good evidence to nay-sayers that it is otherwise :)

Thanks for reading!

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