Sunday, 24 September 2017

Edge of the Abyss - Twilight Glades - Night Stalkers - 2017/09/24

Greetings!

Battle number 4 of the Edge of the Abyss campaign takes place in Twilight Glades. Main opponents are Elves and Night Stalkers so I was lucky that Jules had time to field his fantastic army of various monsters and horrors from nightmares! 

It always great to play against him and this time we could add a bit of thematic feel to the game with terrain set up that was tailored to represent the Twilight Glades and fielding main opponents for the scenario.

Unlike in previous games this time my army got a special rule due to scenario so I was curious if and if yes how this would affect the way the army fights. As always, Jules was busy with painting more models and units to his great looking army. This time, in comparison to the army I played against several months ago at Clash of Kings, he added a unit of Fiends. 

Night Stalkers - Army List

60 Blood Warms, Legion, Brew of Strength
- Void Lurker, Hero, Brew of Haste
- Shadow Hulk, Monster

6 Fiends, Horde, Helm of the Ram
- Dread Fiend, Hero
- Planar Apparition, Monster

20 Spectres, Regiment
- Screamer, Monster

20 Phantoms, Regiment
- Screamer, Monster

3 Nightmares, Regiment

A bit less shooting with a bit more of melee orientated units. As the majority of the army is similar to what I have faced last time (please, see the report here: Game 40 - Night Stalkers - 2017/02/11) I am going to have a look at those that were not present then:

6 Fiends - Fast and hard hitting unit of the army. 24 attacks with CS(1) will do the damage against any opponent even if hitting on 4+ is not the best one can get for such a unit. They are upgraded with Helm of the Ram that adds Thunderous Charge which makes them even better on the attack.

They are not heavily armored though so charging them first may be a good option. Defending in the terrain will also make their attack less powerful so I would need to use such an opportunity too. However, any of my units may lose war of attrition against them so I would need to make sure I have some reinforcements ready to help.

Planar Apparition - it is a very interesting monster that has a supportive role. First, it can definitely help with healing the damage of other units. May be even more efficient if the target also regenerates the damage. I presume it can be a good war engines hunter as it is fast and can soak some damage while approaching the target. 

Dread Fiend - another nimble hero in the army, quite fast too. It has the same amount of attacks as Drakon Lord, better nerve value and is more consistent with Crushing Strength (2) in dealing damage to the enemy. On the other hand it is slower and despite being nimble, it cannot match the maneuverability of a flier. It has lower armor too so potentially should be a bit easier to defeat.

In general, I faced fast army with some good shooting support and quite a few single model entries. Before the game I came to the conclusion I would like to try to the approach where I am defending one flank and attacking on the opposite (at least at the beginning) so I was looking for the opportunity to try it out.

Terrain

Terrain Details

Deployment and Scenario

Deployment - Elven point of view.

Deployment - Night Stalkers side.

Deployment with Pillage Tokens

In this battle we used Pillage scenario but with the modification that Elves get Iron Resolve special rule if their unit is defending the token. We rolled 6 tokens in total so each player could place 3 of them. I positioned mine as usual, i.e. two close to the opposite corners. The third one was close to the middle forest because I assumed Night Stalkers would want to come to me anyway. As there were total of 4 tokens on my half of the battle field after the sides were determined it reinforced the fact that I would indeed be defending the tokens. 

I did not initially intend to spread my forces like that but with Night Stalkers denying one flank and amassing the majority of hard hitting units on the other, I knew I would need to delay that flank. If I simply put my infantry there that would have not been enough to keep faster units in check. Hence two layers of defense with Storm Wind and Drakons as potential first chargers to slow down the enemy and Palace Guard as a second wave to further damage already bloodied enemy.

The middle group was positioned early because I wanted to have some freedom in deciding whom to shoot at. Chariots with their Pathfinder should be more flexible in the middle too.

Last group was to in fact two smaller groups. Sea Guard and Silver Breeze were to hold to the objective and if possibility presented itself, one of them would try to claim another objective nearby. If I could stop Night Stalkers at that line I would be able to control 4 objectives. Fast units on the left were to outflank the approaching enemy. However, with Nightmares and Void Lurker there as well that would be difficult. They are as fast, Void Lurker is tougher than Drakon Lord and I was not sure if the presence of Storm Wind cavalry would swing the balance in my favor. Also, two enemy units could potentially tie up 5 of mine and I could not let that happen.

In this scenario Night Stalkers had the first turn.

Night Stalkers - Turn 1

Night Stalkers approach.

March of Horrors.

Night Stalkers moved forward towards the Elves. The units maintained cohesive battle line and did not want to enter potential charge range of the enemy yet. The fliers on the opposite flank reformed to deny safe landing zones for the Elves.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elves withdraw on the right flank.

And advance on the left.

Elves began their maneuvering in order to join all the battle groups together before the enemy could isolate and destroy any one of them. The units on the right flank withdrew a little while those on the left moved towards the enemy. The shooters managed to find some targets but their fire was as yet quite inefficient.

Night Stalkers - Turn 2

Night Stalkers continue the advance.

And start shooting back!

Night Stalkers continued their steady march towards Elven lines, being careful not to over extend the formation and potentially invite some annoying flank charges. Only Blood Warms moved at a double, eager to engage with the Elves and corner the units defending the portals.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Elves keep withdrawing on the right.

And bait Night Stalkers on the left.

While the units on the right flank kept withdrawing to keep the enemy in check but not yet committing into any melees, those on the left decided to make bolder moves.

Noble Elven Knights moved towards the enemy in order to force the attack and draw the foe out of formation. In the meantime, Drakon Riders landed on the flanks to counter attack the enemy if they chose to charge first.

The shooters switched the target and this time aimed at Void Lurker where they had better chance to inflict damage.

Night Stalkers - Turn 3

Shadow Hulk and Blood Warms infest Twilight Glades.

Elven Knights perish.

Elven point of view.

First blood for Night Stalkers.

Void Lurker and Nightmares attacked Elven Knights and defeated them. Now both anticipated counter attack from the Drakon Riders but thanks to cunning positioning, neither would be attacked by two enemy units at once.

The rest of the units moved in and Blood Warms were getting in the position to divide Elven forces.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves surprise the enemy with outflanking attack.

Drakon Riders eliminate Spectres.

The Elves decided to risk a maneuver that would potentially allow them to threaten the rear of the enemy army and provide a relief force for the battle group on the opposite flank. To achieve that Drakon Riders ignored Void Lurker and charged the exposed flank of Spectres. The attack was successful and the enemy units was destroyed. The Drakon Lord also decided to ignore his potential enemy, Nightmares, and landed nearby Drakon Riders to lend his support.

That maneuver allowed Elven shooter to aim at the Void Lurker and inflict some serious damage with ranged attacks.

Night Stalkers - Turn 4

Night Stalkers corner their enemies.

But the flying cavalry gets ready to help!

Void Lurker fails to rout the Chariots!

Blood Warms and Shadow Hulk moved forward to corner Elven units while Phantoms and Fiends make sure none of the foes has any path to escape.

Void Lurker chose War Chariots as his next target but valiant Elves held their ground! (Edit: It was the beginning of some crazy dice rolls, Jules needed 4+ to rout the Chariots and got 1 and 2! A Waver!)

Outcasts - Turn 4

Elves attack with almost entire army.

But Night Stalkers hold!

Elven preemptive strike!
Some interesting opportunities presented themselves and Elves tried to use them to the fullest. On the right flank, Elven units charged Shadow Hulk and damaged the beast badly but despite horrendous damage it refused to yield! 

Another vicious fight erupted in the nearby glade where Elves managed to destroyed entire legion of Blood Warms! However, their joy was premature as the Void Lurker, attacked from the rear by the Drakon Lord and from the flank by Silver Breeze, also held its ground despite the damage that would destroy any other foe! (Edit: This time it was my turn to roll low on nerve check and I got double 1's twice! Once for Shadow Hulk and once for Void Lurker!)

Night Stalkers - Turn 5

Night Stalkers counter attack.

Things get very complicated!

Decisive moments of the battle.

Vicious melee!

The situation on the battle field started changing dramatically and quickly. The powerful Elven attack, although successful in stopping the march of the Night Stalkers, placed many units in an extremely bad situation. 

Storm Wind cavalry perished under the pressure of Phantoms who charged the exposed flank and with the assistance of the Shadow Hulk.

Both Drakon Riders units were attacked by the Night Stalkers' commanders but refused to give ground! And while brave Charioteers finally were destroyed by enemy ranged attacks, the Drakon Lord ignored the attack of the Nightmares! (Edit: Yes, you guessed correctly, another double 1's result!)

Outcasts - Turn 5

Elves gain an advantage.

Powerful enemy units are banished.

Thanks to the bravery of their companions, Elven units can mount a second wave of the attacks. Sea Guard attacks Nightmares and the assistance of Silver Breeze cavalry helps to rout that dangerous foe!

Palace Guard units destroy both Void Lurker and Shadow Hulk too! Last but not least, Drakon Lord and Riders attack Dread Fiend and inflict serious damage too but yet again, the enemy commander cannot be routed (Edit: Double 1's number three!)

Night Stalkers - Turn 6

Night Stalkers keep attacking!

Dread Fiend and Planar Apparition fail miserably though.

Although Night Stalkers lost a lot of units they were still dangerous foe and at this stage controlled majority of portals. Hence they had a good motivation to keep attacking. But while Fiends and Phantoms both destroyed their foes, Dread Fiend and Planar Apparition failed miserably (Edit: The dice betrayed Jules as he could not roll well enough to inflict a single point of damage to either of my units.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Elves continue their attack.
Elves rout more enemy units.

Elves press the advantage and attack one more time. The fact that Drakon Riders and Lord were not pinned down by their enemies allowed them to attack new targets. That resulted in Fiends banishment and rendering Screamers useless. Even brave Army Standard managed to attack and ground the Phantoms all by himself!

With that last push Elves managed to consolidate the positions and reclaim the control over the portals. For now.

Turn 7

Situation after Night Stalkers turn 7.

We rolled that there should be turn 7 but due to time constrains we decided not to play it as it was clear Elves would gain control over the majority of the tokens. Palace Guard had a flank charge against Phantoms with a good chance of routing them. Both Screamers were also potential victims. And last but not least, Drakon Lord would claim another token in the bottom left corner anyway. 

However, please, note that despite higher casualties ratio, Night Stalkers controlled majority of the tokens longer and from the point of view of the scenario they almost made it!

Summary

Turn-by-turn animation summary.

After-battle thoughts

I would like to thank Jules for yet another fantastic game! It is always pleasure to play against his gorgeous army but I also want to highlight that Jules is a fantastic player. Thanks a lot!

It was by far the game with highest ratio of unexpected dice rolls :) We had our share of them on both sides as it is not only about double 1's but also the low dice rolls that did not rout units but simply wavered them. It was often worse as the attacker was in a very bad position and exposed for counter attacks.

However, having said that I also think that these dice rolls show that a player needs to be prepared for many different circumstances and even the most devastating attack can be stopped. Even if it is for a turn it may have completely different consequences for the flow of the battle.

And because of that I think there were moments which showed that anticipating such situations is also very important. 

But let's start from the beginning. 

I am glad I had that two layer defensive formation on the right flank as fast units slowed down enemy march by simply being there. On the other hand, I wonder if my formation was not too spread out and I should have anticipated denied flank deployment of the Night Stalkers. Also because we played against each other earlier and I knew Jules would try to prevent pincer maneuver to be executed against his force.

There was an interesting situation on the left flank after I sacrificed Storm Wind unit to draw Nigthmares and Void Lurker forward. Initially, I was prepared for exchange of units to clear that flank, secure two tokens there and possibly having Drakon Lord or Drakon Riders intact to help later.

But Jules reformed his units in a smart way. Nightmares exposed flank to the Drakon Riders but they had no space to land and could not attack at all, even if the front was clear and visible. Void Lurker exposed the rear to Drakon Lord in the same manner so I simply could not attack a single target with two units. That is why I decided to abandon that idea and take a risk and flank charge Spectres. It paid off as not only I removed dangerous unit but also was in position to attack Blood Warms.

Now the whole series of unexpected events happened with both of us failing to rout respective enemies. What I should have done better there was to either reform units so that the enemies could not attack flanks (if possible), resolve melee in different order (void lurker before blood warms) to see where more mobile enemies may be attacking and maybe have some resources left to block potential attacks. 

I am glad that in such quickly changing situation I managed to spot new opportunities and flank charges that helped me to break the encirclement and destroy enough enemy units to secure the victory in the end.

Thanks for reading!

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