Friday, 30 September 2016

KoW Game 26 - Undead - 2016/09/30

Greetings!

It's been a while since I played with real miniatures so when I had a chance to play against Chris, who was returning to miniature wargaming after a very long break, I was very happy for that opportunity! As I have never played against Chris before and neither against Undead army he was commanding, it was a real treat! 

Chris is also blogging about his battles so I really hope he will post a new chapter of his great story, this time featuring some Elves in the eternal struggle of Good vs Evil. In the meantime, I really recommend visiting his blog:


We played in a very friendly local store, where I hope to be a more regular and frequent visitor:


I really like their tables, lots of space for everyone and fantastic terrain. All you need to do is simply go there and have fun! 

We wanted to try a few things in that battle but before I elaborate on the details let me present the army Chris commanded that evening. He had some really cool old school models and his entire army was painted!

Undead - Army List

20 Skeleton Spearmen (Thorned Wall), Regiment - 105
- 10 Skeleton Archers, Troop - 75
- 10 Skeleton Archers, Troop - 75
- Necromancer (Grimgul the Wise), Bane Chant (2) - 100

20 Revenants (The Nightmare Legion), Regiment, Undead Giant Rats - 130 
- 10 Ghouls, Troop - 65
- 10 Wraiths (Black Harvest) - 140
- Revenant King on Undead Wyrm (Lord Charnel and Pla) - 235 

40 Zombies (Grave Mistake), Horde, Undead Giant Rats - 140
- Cursed Pharaoh (Arkan the Bleak) - 145 
- Balefire Catapult (Skull Chucker) - 100

3 Zombie Trolls (Flensers), Regiment - 115

3 Werewolves (Night Hunters), Regiment - 160
- Lykanis (Shadow Stalker), Ensorcelled Armor - 180

6 Wights (Brutal Justice), Horde - 235

A shambling horde of restless dead! The army wide rule for Undead army is Lifeleech (1) meaning the units can keep healing themselves a bit as long as they inflict some damage in melee. Very characterful rule and that one point of damage less may be the difference between the unit routed or not.

Let's have a look at what Chris chose to include in his army for this battle in particular:

20 Skeleton Spearmen - Shambling infantry with a Phalanx special rule. They are not expected to inflict a lot of damage but can be great at holding objectives or slow down the enemy. In particular cavalry. The fact the unit cannot be wavered is a great advantage (the case of many Undead units). And Shambling is a very handy rule in combination with Surge. Something I don't have that much experience in playing against! 

Fortunately for me, this type of a unit may be defeated by my own infantry, even in the one-on-one situation so I will not be shy to get close and personal if the opportunity arises.

10 Skeleton Archers - 2 units of support ranged attacks. They look as if they are not dangerous but many times I learned that 1-2 points of damage in the late turns of the game is all that is needed to rout wounded units. Again, additional elements to hold objectives or to be sacrificed whenever the commander wishes!

20 Revenants - a better quality infantry, with higher Defense and Nerve values. Their offensive capabilities are also a bit better. A good defensive choice, especially if able to use some terrain but also the unit that can be dangerous if allowed to attack a flank, quite possible with Surge!

They don't have Phalanx, however, so even a frontal attack of heavy cavalry may see them routed, provided they are caught in the open.

10 Ghouls - One of the units that is not slow due to Shambling. They are also Speed 6 so quite fast for an infantry. The disadvantage is that they are possible to waver and have very little armor. But as they are also very cheap they are perfect expendables.

If I can catch them outside of Inspiring range a round of shooting may see them off, however. Hopefully I can get rid of them before they start being annoying and interfere with the movement of my own units. 

10 Wraiths - A very interesting unit! They fly and have a very long charge range, they have excellent defense but are also Shambling. It means, they can potentially threaten to attack as any other flying unit but may also spend longer to get into the position. However, they have been known to be the main beneficiary of Surge. Fly over the enemy, pivot and then get surged into the exposed rear or flank. With CS(1) they would do some damage for sure. 

This unit needs to be dealt with fast as otherwise they will cause a lot of trouble. Hopefully, my own fast units will intercept them.

40 Zombies - I guess no Undead force can call itself a true restless dead army without Zombies :) Entire horde of them is an excellent anvil. They may have poor Defense but are super cheap for a unit of that size. 

3 Zombie Trolls - more Zombies! This type of trolls does not regenerate but can hit hard and can be Surged too. That means that they will operate differently to their still alive brethren. The good thing is I can hit them with a shooting and then try and finish them off in melee, even attacking from the front. 

3 Werewolves - probably my favorite unit in the army. I like their speed and maneuverability a lot. Very good armor, very good offensive skills, you simply don't want them to hit your flank. I still have a few units that can outpace them. Also, if they are not allowed to attack from the flank I may be able to hold them for a turn.

6 Wights - Extremely hard hitting unit. CS(3) is something to be afraid of and this unit packs 18 attacks with such a brutal strength. Speed 6 is also very good. Defense 5+ and high nerve mean that they can take the charge and counter attack comfortably. This makes them very dangerous as they can move aggressively forward and force such charges. 

My initial plan would be to avoid them for a while until I have enough space to engineer a well coordinated attack with a few units at the same time.

Balefire Catapult - this army does not have that many ranged attacks so the catapult comes in handy to fill in that department. Very useful with indirect fire as it ignores cover penalties. It may not hit that often but when it does it hurts. It may be difficult to get it but if there is an opening for one of my fast elements I would definitely use it. 

Revenant King on Undead Wyrm - first of the characters in the army, the most dangerous one from my point of view. Very fast, super high nerve value and while hitting on 4+ with 9 attacks does not sound like the most dangerous option ever, if it hits - it does damage. And if it hits from the flank or rear then only lucky Snake Eyes roll may save me. 

Such big fliers are always a challenge. With only one of them I could potentially harm it with shooting a bit and then try and use my own fast elements to at least pin it down. 

Lykanis - a very interesting choice, it will definitely lead Werevolves in the battle. But can also be a very dangerous on its own. Almost as fast and maneuverable as Revenant King, it has better armor and hits more often when in melee. It may be actually as difficult to hunt down as the King and having to deal with both at the same time will be a challenge.

Cursed Pharaoh - this is a very good, multi-purpose character. Good leader, quite resilient with good Defense value and Regeneration. Can Surge units too and has some reasonable melee capabilities if required. Fortunately, he is not flying as it would have been even harder to contain him. Because of that I expected I would need to deal with him in the later part of the game.

Necromancer - last but not least, the Necromancer is included to provide some useful spells, depending on the situation. Surge (8) is the best value in the army and Bane Chant (2) would help many units to inflict even more damage.

The army has 15 elements in total meaning I will not be able to outdeploy it. However, with 14 elements on my own I would not be in big disadvantage either. 

In general, the Undead are slower and I may have the advantage in the shooting phase. On the other hand they are more resilient, can restore the damage and some of the units hit very hard. The general approach would be to use the shooting to inflict some damage and either eliminate smaller troops or help before inevitable melee. I also intended to use greater speed to be able to attack enemy units before help arrived. 

Here is my list for reference:

Outcasts - Army List

10 Stormwind, Regiment, Wine of Elvenkind (Nimble) - 255
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- Drakon Rider Lord, Hero, Large Cavalry, Mace of Crushing - 165


3 Drakon Riders, Regiment, Dwarven Ale (Headstrong) - 185
- 5 Stormwind, Troops, Brew of Haste (+1 Speed) - 155
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop - 105
- Bolt Thrower, War Engine - 90

20 Palace Guard, Regiment - 150 
- Bolt Thrower, War Engine - 90
 
20 Sea Guard, Regiment - 170
- Elven Mage, Hero, Inspiring Talisman, Bane Chant(2) - 110

20 Sea Guard, Regiment - 170
 - Army Standard, Hero, Mounted - 65

Terrain and Scenario

White circles indicate tokens for Pillage scenario.

Once again, we used one of the maps from Mantic forum: Kings of War - Maps We rolled map 1. We also wanted to use the players pack for the incoming Clash of Kings tournament (In January 2017, in Canberra). It means that we used amendments for the rules that affected fliers and also Cursed Pharaoh that Chris included in his army had defense 5+.

We also wanted to use Chess Clock! It was the first time for both of us to do so in the game. Because of that we decided we are going to see how much we are going to do in allocated 50 minutes per player (including the deployment). But we would continue to finish the game even if we run out of time (as we expected we would anyway).

We rolled for scenario and got Pillage! with 7 tokens in total. I won the roll off so I started placing the tokens. I then proceeded to win the roll for sides and picked South. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I didn't take notes about the deployment order.

Deployment

Both armies ready for battle!


Elves formed two groups while Undead spread across entire battle field.

I updated my battle plan once we learned what is the scenario and when I picked the sides. I decided to split the army into two groups because I thought it would give me a better chance to overwhelm both flanks. The reason is that on the left I had fast and maneuverable units while on the right I had my shooters to help. In doing so I hoped the middle of the enemy formation might be too slow to help and at the same time would pose a dilemma which flank to support.

If I succeeded I hoped to hold at least 2 tokens on each extreme flank to secure the victory in terms of scenario conditions.

We rolled again and again I won the roll off. I elected to go first as I thought it would give me a better chance to move on both flanks early, without the enemy units from the center advancing to support their troops on left and right.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elves advance.

Bolt throwers win war engines duel.


Both groups moved forward. The cavalry on the left a bit faster as the infantry on the right didn't want to approach into charge range of the Werewolves yet.

With the majority of the enemy units out of shooting range or in good defensive positions, the bolt throwers aimed at their counter part - balefire catapult and managed to destroy it!

Undead - Turn 1

Undead respond by advancing too.

Undead start dividing their battle line into two. 


Undead responded to Elven maneuvers by dividing their battle line in two as well. On the left the Skeletons and Ghouls moved to secure one of the tokens while Trolls and Wraiths advanced to intercept Elven cavalry.

On the right Werewolves advanced slowly, not getting into charge range of the Drakon Riders yet. Only the King moved at a maximum speed as he spotted a good landing zone in front of the bolt throwers.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Elves continue their aggressive approach.

Cavalry charge on the left.
Elves make a decision to attack at the first opportunity. As Ghouls advanced a bit too far and exposed their flank, Storm Wind regiment intercepted them. It allowed the Elves to destroy small enemy troop but more importantly, to get a very good position on the flank of the enemy.

At the same time Drakon Lord and Storm Wind troop charged nearby Skeleton Spearmen. Phalanx formation helped a lot and Undead infantry held.

On the right brave (or foolish?) Army Standard galloped towards Werewolves. It allowed the Palace Guard and Drakons to advance without the risk of being intercepted. Also Sea Guard moved at a double, getting ready to attack Zombies.

Bolt Throwers stayed calm in the face of a danger and let loose at the King. His powerful mount got hit and was wounded badly!

Undead - Turn 2

Undead counter attack.





The King claims his trophy.


Thanks to Skeleton Warriors holding Wraiths could attack exposed flank of the elven cavalry but failed to rout them! That meant Elves didn't lose the momentum of the attack and could press forward soon.

In the middle, the King destroyed one of the bolt throwers as it was an easy prey and looked around for new targets.

Skeleton Archers aimed at the nearest enemy, this time Sea Guard and a few shots surprised the Elves who lost their nerve for a short while! That was a bad moment to do so.

Last but not least, Werewolves decided to attack annoying Army Standard but somehow were unsuccessful and failed to rout the Elven warrior.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves keep pressing forward.

Feeling the pressure of time Elves make some hasty decisions.


Elves pressed forward on both flanks. On the left Drakon Lord and the Knights finished off the Skeleton Warriors and faced Wraiths. At the same time, Storm Wind regiment maneuvered further to the enemy rear.

Palace Guard troop charged wounded Zombie Trolls and routed them! Silver Breeze cavalry, encouraged by the success of their companions, aimed at the Skeleton Archers but this time the evil magic was strong and Skeletons held their ground.

On the right flank Elves became more reckless as they tried to avoid the King by breaking through the Werewolves. They failed and were now in a difficult situation. The drakon riders foolishly flew over the enemy to land behind them, thinking they are safe.

Undead - Turn 3

The King continues his rampage through the Elven lines.

Elves pay the price for their rushed decisions.


The King continued his attacks and this time he claimed another victim, Sea Guard regiment while Lycanis and Werewolves kept another two Elven infantry regiments busy. Zombies were Surged to attack the Drakon Riders and while they didn't rout them, the Elven flying cavalry wavered due to such a surprising attack!

On the opposite flank Wraiths routed a troop of Elven knights but would that be enough to even the odds?

Outcasts - Turn 4

Elves try desperate solutions.

The situation is not yet resolved.

Edit: At this stage I had 2 minutes left on the clock and Chris had 10 minutes. If I we didn't continue the game I think I would have simply moved Drakon Lord and Storm Wind to attack Wraiths and that would allow me to control 3 tokens on the left. I assume Chris would move his units to control 3 on the right and possibly to break through the infantry that was blocking his Werewolves.

However, we continued the game as normal.

The situation became desperate. While the units on the left flank were still in a good shape and routed Wraiths too, then Skeletons Archers still holding their ground complicated things a bit.

On the right flank the infantry routed Werewolves but were still in the charge range of the King. Brave Army Standard attempted to pin him down but could not land the blow. To add insult to injury, Drakon Riders could not overwhelm the wavering as their Dwarven Ale was not strong enough. Undead were grinding Elves down on that flank.

Undead - Turn 4

Elves are losing the right flank.


Another Sea Guard regiments falls.

The King attacks yet another Elven infantry that is completely out of position and routs it with easy. (Edit: It is quite possible Lycanis joined the fight just in case and the both pulled back to avoid flank attack from nearby Palace Guard.)

On the left it seemed that Elves gained a bit of an advantage but Wights kept their defensive position while Pharaoh started moving towards more fragile Elven troops.

Outcasts - Turn 5

Palace Guard almost routs the King! Almost ...

One more try to shift the balance into Elves favor.

Drakon Lord finished off stubborn Skeleton Archers and tried to drew Wights into a trap. Silver Breeze shot at them too but didn't do much of a damage.

On the opposite flank Drakon Riders tried to escape form the corner and landed so that they could be more useful again.

In their final attempt Palace Guard charged the King and did enough damage to waver him! (Edit: That was a desperate attack again. I needed 11+ to rout the King and got it with the first roll! However, the re-roll was a 10! So close! :))

Undead - Turn 5

Skeleton Archers waver Drakon Riders!

Elven fliers are all grounded!



Wights took the chance and charged over the fence. They didn't do much damage but it was enough to waver and ground Drakon Lord! Cursed Pharaoh also attacked but Palace Guard held.

In the middle Skeleton Archers unleashed their Bane Chanted arrows at the Drakon Riders and wavered them again! At the same time Lycanis had no problems with finishing Palace Guard.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Drakons can't move again :(

Last charge of the Elves.


Yet again Dwarven Ale didn't work and poor Drakons were sitting in the open. Storm Wind charged the flank of Wights but they too had to attack over the wall and as a result they didn't hit hard enough to rout them.

It was now time for the final response from the Undead army.

Undead - Turn 6

Undead move to claim Pillage tokens.

Undead are victorious!


The last word belonged to Undead. Cursed Pharaoh repeated his attack and this time Palace Guard was defeated and their claim to Pillage lost. Drakon Riders took another volley of Bane Chanted arrows and this time were destroyed.

Last but not least, Undead Monsters moved towards another 2 tokens thus securing the victory.

Summary

Turn by turn animation summary.


After-battle thoughts

Congratulations to Chris for a well played game and ultimate victory! He claimed 4 tokens versus 2 of mine and he also routed more of my units, so that in the end it gave him solid 16-4 victory in terms of Clash of Kings result.

Despite the loss, multitude of mistakes on my part and time pressure, I really enjoyed the game and I hope we will continue to play against each other on a more regular basis.

Before I talk about those mistakes I would like to discuss the first impressions on playing with Chess Clock. It did add some pressure, probably because it was the very first time. It also limited the social aspect of the game as we tried to limit the discussions only to the necessary ones. It is possible I made some of my mistakes due to that time pressure but hopefully more experience will rule that out.

I tried the ideas that were given to me on forums about speeding up the game. I tried to come up with a simple plan, tried not to think about all the possibilities, grouped my dice to be used quicker etc. And still needed 30 minutes extra to finish 6 turns. I have a lot to improve and at the moment I am a bit concerned that I may not be fast enough during CanCon 2017. I will do my best to get more practice games in the meantime but the gap seems to be big.

Another comment is about my damage markers. I didn't anticipate it but sometimes finding the right number on D20 takes longer than I expected! Kind of funny, really, but I guess I will need to create better damage counters.

Ok, let's see what I consider to be my mistakes during the game.

Deployment - I think the idea was not too bad but I still needed to do it better. For example, the fact I left the landing zone open for the King was a consequence of the deployment. Also, at least one unit of Sea Guard should have been on the token that was positioned on the edge of the lake. In this way I would have had a better defensive position to protect the token and bolt throwers.

Movement - I often left areas not well controlled or was too hesitant with the attacks. For instance, Storm Wind regiment kept looking for that flank charge and spend too long maneuvering. Palace Guard troop was sometimes too far away from the enemy to join the fight or from threatening the attack to the flank.

I completely failed to use Drakon Riders :( First, they should have been angled towards the center so that they could intercept the King and threaten Werewolves at the same time. If they attacked the King they would slow him down, which is already a great achievement. I also made a rookie mistake by flying over and forgetting about the Surge! The rest was a consequence of that move. While I might have been unlucky with Headstrong rolls (in particular later in the game when I needed them to move towards one of the tokens) it was a huge mistake that greatly contributed to my final defeat.

In general, I should have better coordinated the attacks on the left and be more patient on the right where I didn't use my shooting to a good effect.

Shooting - speaking of which, it started well with bolt throwers eliminating the catapult. But contrary to my previous game I didn't focus the shooting on the single target and that didn't produce significant results. I think some improvement in deployment is required again.

Melee - I made some poor choices here as well. For example, the charge with Drakon Lord and Storm Wind troop against Skeleton Warriors limited my choices. Instead, I should have waited and made sure that only Wights can charge either the knights or palace guard and that they would have been countered if they did. I prevailed on that flank but didn't manage to hold 3 tokens as I hoped for.

Another mistake was to commit Drakon Lord. I should have attacked with heavy cavalry instead. Drakon Lord could fly over to contest or help keeping the other tokens while cavalry could block Wights from approaching to the objectives. I didn't use fast cavalry to stop their advance either.

On the right flank I should have attacked Werewolves with the Drakons and Palace Guard and use Sea Guard to block Zombies instead. That would allow me to have a better chance at routing the enemy on the charge. Instead, I was slowly losing the war of attrition, type of melee undead are better at.

Hopefully, I will be able to use these mistakes to progress faster and maybe next time I will have a chance to even the score! :)

Thanks for reading!


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