Sunday, 9 October 2016

KoW Game 27 - Forces of Nature - 2016/10/09

Greetings!

I had a chance to catch up with Mr. Laribold and we managed to find suitable time to play a game of KoW again. I had a pleasure to play against him before, once against his Salamanders and once against his Brotherhood armies. Laribold has quite a nice collection of models that allows him to play with multiple forces. I was very curious about the development of his Twilight Kin, for example. But this time he is focusing on Forces of Nature. That is fantastic from my point of view too because it is one of the armies I haven't played against yet. 

Lardibold has a few topics dedicated to his armies on Mantic forum so if you are interested (and you should, because he has some very interesting things to say about them!) check the armies dedicated sub-forums. Here is the link to his Forces of Nature army:


I always find his armies very interesting and you can be sure the composition is well thought out. The above topic is a good proof for that. What I find the most intriguing is that we always have different approach to army building, even taking into account the fact we compose them in the frame of different army lists. Here is the army list I faced this time, labeled by Darth Sabre from wargamerau as Multiple Horde Units (MHU)! :)

Forces of Nature - Army List

40 Naiad Ensnarers, Horde, Brew of Strength - 260
- Beast of Nature, Monster, Lightning Bolt (6) - 160
- Druid, Hero, Bane Chant (2), Surge (7), Heal (2), Amulet of the Fire-heart - 130

6 Naiad Wyrmriders, Horde, Brew of Courage - 255
 - Winged Unicorn, Hero, Heal (7), Lightning Bolt (5) - 190

6 Water Elementals, Horde, Amulet of Thorns - 255
- Greater Fire Elemental, Monster - 160
- Unicorn, Heal (5), Talisman of Inspiration - 140

6 Water Elementals, Horde, Brew of Haste - 235
- Pegasus, Hero  - 80

3 Sylph Talonriders*, Regiment - 135

Eleven elements total, four hordes, only one regiment, two monsters and four heroes create an army that has a varied selection of abilities. Laribold outline the strategy he devised for his army in his topic but let me describe each unit from the point of view of his opponent:

The army wide rule is that the units have Pathfinder across the board and that makes this army very maneuverable as well as not hindered when fighting in difficult terrain. In fact, Forces of Nature would want to fight there so catching them in the open would be a good idea. 

40 Naiad Ensnarers - I met this unit in my previous game against Trident Realms and I have already learned about their great Regenerative skills as well as being hard to defeat in the forest. Combination of hindered attacks and Ensnare means the damage is significantly limited. As before, I would need the unit the be targeted by all my shooters at once to be able to rout it and to avoid the situation when it heals itself back. 

6 Naiad Wyrmriders - I haven't faced that unit before yet. Horde of Large Cavalry with Pathfinder is always a dangerous enemy to fight against. Very fast too but fortunately, my own cavalry is still faster. Like their infantry kin they have to be dealt with in a decisive manner.

6 Water Elementals - two hordes of Water Elementals would aid Ensarers in forming a solid battle line. The Elementals are Shambling but with Speed 7 and 8 respectively (thanks to Brew of Haste) they can charge far. Combination of Defense 5 and Regeneration 5+ is also a very good protection. Yet two more units than need a good focus of either shooting or combat attacks to be routed fast. If such unit can be isolated it can be done but obviously separating it from the rest of the army is tough. 

Another problem with Elementals is that they greater charge range than my infantry so they may be able to choose their fights. In addition, in one-on-one combats their better armor and regeneration allows them to win the war of attrition. 

And while they are slower in advancing, their Shambling means they can be Surged so landing behind enemy lines may not be that good idea. On top of that one of the units has also Phalanx ability which means that my heavy cavalry, that may have enough hitting power to inflict enough damage on the charge to rout them in a single turn, is deprived of their greatest strength. 

My approach to tackle this problem would be to wait with the infantry, hopefully using some obstacles to hinder any incoming charges and to shoot at supportive elements that do not regenerate. At the same time cavalry should be able to navigate to the flanks and threaten the elementals that would attack my infantry blocks. I should be able to hold for one turn and then counter charge with the support of cavalry. 

3 Sylph Talonriders* - the only regiment in the army, I find this unit very useful. They are very fast and can intercept enemy fliers, they are flexible and extremely maneuverable. They may suffer from low defense value and their ranged attacks are not significant enough to rout units in one go. But will be useful in finishing off the stragglers for sure. They are not an easy unit to use and often their missions would not be that spectacular as for other elements in the army. For me they are dangerous because of their speed and maneuverability so I will try to eliminate them as soon as possible to get aerial control :)

Beast of Nature - first of the two monsters in the army, Beast is a fantastic support, both at range and in melee. Relatively fast, with good armor and Nerve value, it can even hold the line on its own sometimes. The good thing is the beast does not regenerate damage. I decided to try and hunt it down early, also because I wanted to reduce the ranged attacks of my opponents as quickly as possible.

Greater Fire Elemental - second monster and also a flexible element of the army. Crushing Strength (4) is massive and ranged attacks are always great to have. Especially those that ignore cover penalties too. Slower than other elements in the army, Fire Elemental is tough nut to crack nevertheless. Like other Elementals, it does not waver which is very reliable asset. While not planning to ignore that threat, due to its slower approach I would try to deal with faster units first.

Druid - obviously a leader and a source of many spells to help the army. The Amulet would allow to cast two per turn once in a game too. Very nice selection to help in many circumstances. It will probably be a tough decision to choose which spell is the most needed at particular moment in the battle. 

Winged Unicorn - very fast hero, with great ranged attack and nice melee potential. It will be difficult to guess its next move. Good defense and a nice Nerve value too mean this hero is not going to go down easily. It will be hard to intercept too. 

Unicorn - as fast as its Winged companion, this one benefits from being Individual. And while not able to have ranged attacks it adds to already great healing capabilities of the army. 

Pegasus - the least flexible of the heroes of the army, it can be very useful nonetheless. Good at intercepting small units or slowing down enemy fliers (we were playing Clash of Kings rules where damaged in melee fliers lose their ability to fly). Pegasus is also a bit more fragile too so there is a chance to get rid of it with ranged attacks but I don't expect it to be an easy target. 

In general, I was about to face the army which can absorb and heal damage either through Regeneration or Healing spells. While some elements are slower they still have a very good range of charge. At the same time there are enough fast heroes to disrupt enemy ranks and prevent shooters to inflict significant damage or focus on a single enemy. In addition, there is quite a considerable amount of ranged attacks that do not care about cover. 

Before taking the scenario into account I would assume that this army would try to get into combat as soon as possible but choosing the locations where the Pathfinder rule would give it significant advantage. It would also seek one-on-one combats with my infantry where it can win the war of attrition. 

In order to win I would need to prevent that, use the shooting well as I had an advantage in numbers here (even if my ranged abilities are affected by movement and cover). I would also need to coordinate my units well in order to be able to win cavalry battle and support the infantry in time. 

Here is my army list for the 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 & Scenario

Terrain - Map 12

We used one of the maps from Mantic forum: Kings of War - Maps We rolled map 12. The respective height of the terrain pieces were:

Hills - height 2
Forest - height 4
Wheat Field - height 0, difficult
Pond - height 0, difficult
House and Rocks - height 3

We rolled Invade as a scenario. I found it didn't change much in my general approach. I would still need to be patient and use shooting to inflict some damage while cavalry would be trying to win against enemy counterparts as soon as possible. 

I won the roll off to pick the sides and I chose North mainly because that allowed (in my opinion) a better line of sight for the shooters. 

Deployment

Deployment order.


I decided to put my bolt throwers in the center as I expected some of the units of the enemy would need to go this way. Sea Guard and Palace Guard units were to move to the forest and use the obstacle to an advantage. Moving to the forest was to deny that piece of terrain to the enemy, in particular that it was in my half of the battle field. Silver Breeze was kept in the second line to either help other shooters to focus fire on a single target or move to flanks to threaten enemies there.

Positioning my infantry and shooters in the center was also meant to push some enemy units to go to either flank. I focused all my cavalry on the right to overwhelm any forces facing them. If unopposed I would have even easier job to use my speed and mobility to outflank the enemy formation and enter their territory unopposed.

Final deployment.


We rolled for the first turn and this time it was Mr. Laribold who won. He chose to start and his was the first turn.

Forces of Nature - Turn 1

Forces of Nature advance.


The Forces of Nature moved towards the Elven lines. A bit faster on the unopposed flank and very reluctantly on the opposite side where the Elven cavalry assembled. A few lightnings cracked through the skies too but the casualties were too low to result in early routs.

Outcasts -Turn 1

Hunting the Beast!


The Elves moved some of their infantry to the forest as planned and cavalry begun the approach to engage enemy flanking units.

Then the shooters all aimed at a beast of nature exposed on the hill. It was damaged badly, blood flowing from numerous wounds, but it refused to yield, loyal to its masters.

Forces of Nature - Turn 2

Early charges!


Forces of Nature sent their fastest troops to engage the Elves. The Unicorn surprised the Elves and attacked one of the Bolt Throwers but miraculously the Elven crew survived that attack!

Pegasus on the opposite flank tried to stop the advance of the Elven cavalry but the fine armor of the knights proved to hard for a noble beast.

Outcasts -Turn 2

Elves continue their patient advance.


The surprising charge of the unicorn drew the attention of the Elven fast cavalry but even these expert horse archers could not harm the magical beast. The rest of the shooters didn't take chances and fell the wounded Beast of Nature before it got healed.

Elven cavalry and the Drakon Lord attacked and destroyed the Pegasus that blocked their way. Storm Wind troop moved forward then to protect their companions from being attacked by Wyrm Riders.

Forces of Nature - Turn 3

The cavalry battle erupts on the flank.


The main battle line slowly but purposefully approached Elven infantry. Lightnings and Fire engulfed some Elven warriors as hordes of Elementals shambled forward.

At the same time the cavalry battle erupted on the flank with Wyrm Riders engaging Storm Wind but failing to rout the smaller unit of the Elven Knights. Talonriders attacked the Drakon Lord in deadly aerial combat but they too failed to do significant damage.

Outcasts -Turn 3

Elves slowly winning the flank


To buy time for the rest of the army, Army Standard Bearer charged the Elementals. He didn't hope to do any significant damage but at least he could slow them down. The shooters used that opportunity and targeted Winged Unicorn this time.

Using the opportunity given by the noble sacrifice of the knights, Drakon Lord and Storm Wind regiment both charge Talonriders and give them no chance to survive. A little more and Elves would be able to clear the flank out of the enemy units.

Forces of Nature - Turn 4

Forces of Nature launch all out attack.


Forces of Nature were faster though and launched the powerful attack across entire battle field. Both Elemental units engaged the enemy, surprising the Elves who didn't expect the attack to be coming from such a distance.

Naiads and Greater Fire Elemental charged into the forest while Winged Unicorn charged Silver Breeze, who foolishly exposed a flank to such a swift attack. Elven infantry held but it was clear that with the cavalry not in a position to offer any support they would perish soon.

Wyrm Riders finished off the Elven Knights but on this front the Forces of Nature would need to give ground to Elven cavalry.

Outcasts -Turn 4

Elves Counter Charge.


Knowing that this may be the only chance to harm the enemy, Elven infantry counter charges. They inflict some significant damage but it is not yet enough to rout the tough enemy.

Elven cavalry destroys the opposing Wyrm Riders and turns to face the enemy units in the forest, hoping for some miracle and ability of the infantry units to hold a bit longer, against all odds.

Forces of Nature - Turn 5

Elven infantry is broken.


Forces of Nature repeat the attack and this time entire line of Elven infantry is utterly destroyed. What a powerful blow! There was no force that could stop Elementals from marching into Elven territory. Elven cavalry had to turn back and defend its own land.

Outcasts -Turn 5

Greater Fire Elemental holds!

Drakon Riders and Storm Wind regiment join forces and attack Greater Fire Elemental but this time the huge fiery monster holds!

The remaining Elven shooters aim at wounded Winged Unicorn but they too fail to destroy their target.

Forces of Nature - Turn 6

Elementals rearrange the battle line.


Both armies were now heavily bloodied and combatants were weary, no matter if mortal or magical. Still the fight continued.

Badly wounded Greater Elemental tried to engage the enemy for the last time but could not rout the foe. Even the Unicorn was repelled by stubborn Elven crew (Edit: Lucky double 1's!).

Outcasts -Turn 6

Elves try to inflict as much damage as possible.


While there was no hope for Elves to win this battle they could, at least, inflict significant amount of damage in order to stall the enemy advance into their territory.

Drakon Lord and Drakons made sure that this time Greater Fire Elemental is destroyed. Nearby Silver Breeze cavalry tried one more time to get rid of the Winged Unicorn but their arrows failed to wound this time.

Finally, Storm Wind regiment surprised the enemy Elementals with nimble charge. Unfortunately, the mage was too far away to assist them with magic. Despite that the Elven Knights inflicted some substantial damage. But it was still not enough to destroy the enemy.

Forces of Nature - Turn 7

Last charge of the Elementals.

Elementals had last chance to attack the Elves but both units failed to rout their enemies. Naiads, however, with the magical support of Druid, captured the Elven Drakon Lord!

Nearby Drakon Riders were damaged by the Lightning Bolt but held their ground.

Outcasts -Turn 7

Elves destroy one more enemy unit.


Due to very tight formation of the enemy, Drakon Riders could not engage the foe. Silver Breeze cavalry was withdrawing and only Storm Wind regiment managed to rout the Elementals. But that was too late and too little to shift the balance into Elves favor.

They then disengaged and withdrew to warn the outposts and hoped that the Forces of Nature will get back to their lairs.

Summary

Turn-by-turn summary animation.


After-battle thoughts

The victory of the Forces of Nature was clear as they had many units invading Elven territory while Elves had none. Congratulations to Mr. Laribold! He played to the strengths of his army very well and taught me a lesson! :)

As we used Clash of Kings player's pack, winning the scenario meant 15-5 victory. Laribold routed 1305 points of my army, while I managed to rout 1025 of his. That means the end result was modified further in his favor: 16-4 for the Forces of Nature!

I think it was clear when my plan fell apart and all I could do was to try and decrease the margin of defeat. I stayed too close to the enemy and in turn 4 my entire infantry line was attacked. I should have pulled back a little to make it impossible for the Greater Fire Elemental to charge Palace Guard and for Water Elementals to engage Sea Guard with a long charge. That created favorable conditions for my opponents, despite hindered charges.

What is more, in turn 3 I didn't reform properly with my cavalry and could not support the infantry straight away. I really needed that one more turn to destroy the Wyrm Riders and to be able to coordinate the further attacks with both, infantry and cavalry.

Additional mistakes were to let the Unicorn attack my Bolt Thrower so quickly (I really need to stop leaving the Bolt Throwers without the support). Leaving exposed flank of the Silver Breeze cavalry to allow Winged Unicorn to charge them and by doing so, having a very good landing zone behind my lines. Another mistake was when I blocked Water Elementals with Silver Breeze but was too close to Naiads and as a result, Drakon Riders could not flank charge them in turn 7. It would not have changed the outcome but it is a mistake I need to avoid in the future.

I also think I should have been bolder on the cavalry front. I could maneuver in a way that would invite some charges but Talonriders would not be able to rout my units on their own while I could have put some pressure on that flank and possibly win there. Even one less turn spent there would have made a huge difference.

During the deployment I considered positioning one unit of Sea Guard next to the house. I would then need to add some support in the form of Palace Guard and either Storm Wind troop or Drakon Riders. That would create similar opportunities for shooting but would stall the advance of the Elementals on that flank and maybe allow to intercept Unicorn too. What made me change my mind was the fact that this formation would be immediately in the range of Lightning Bolts. With the full benefit of a hindsight I think that this deployment could have been the better option.

There were a few positive things I learned in that game though.
- My shooting can be still dangerous despite being affected by cover, provided I can focus on a single target.
- My cavalry can still do damage even if hindered and without the bonus Thunderous Charge so I may try to be more aggressive with them. In particular, when I could make sure Bane Chant is also available. And with nimble I should be getting those flank charges too!
- Elementals are tough but I should not be shy in engaging them or making them charge over obstacles.  Hitting on 5+ makes them far less efficient in melee.

I also have a more general observation, it is not new but it seems to be that this situation occurs more often. Previously I noticed that in my games against Eastern Barbarian the pattern was that I was usually winning the first game when he used a new army but not necessarily the second one. The games against Darth Sabre and Laribold show similar pattern. I am using the army lists that are variations of the same force so it is to be expected that my opponents catch up with me quickly. In particular, when they have a few games with their chosen army already.

It means that I am not learning new things about my own army as fast as they learn how to deal with it. Of curse making mistakes during the games does not help either. :) Fortunately, the mistakes can be avoided (hopefully). But learning how to use the army well takes longer for me.

In general, I usually did two things to improve the way I play. First, very obvious, is to play more often or at least regularly. There is still lots to be done on that front but hopefully with better time schedule it can be achieved (as I should not have problems with finding opponents either for games in a local store or at Universal Battle).

Second was writing the reports and discussing the games with other players. I expect this part will bring some fruits in time too. Simply because I am clearly still learning about the army I play with and with such a huge variety of the potential enemies, it has to take longer to learn about them too.

But as with speeding up the game, getting better at it can also be done in between the games. If you have some good tips about it I hope you would share that with me too!

Once again, many thanks to Laribold for a great game, he is always a fantastic opponent and I am glad we managed to get a game after some break.

Thanks for reading!

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