In the last round of the Rage of Isolation 2 online tournament played on Universal Battle 2, I played against another famous crew member of the Direct Misfire Podcast - Huw. For this event, he brought and army of Free Dwarfs.
I was curious about this faction as I have never played against it before. How different would it be to the regular army? In a way, it seemed like a classic match up still, between Dwarfs and Elves. However, I quickly noticed a few very interesting and unique elements in Huw's army:
Free Dwarfs - Army List
Shieldbreakers Horde (S1), Infantry, Throwing Mastiffs - 245
Shieldbreakers Regiment (S2), Infantry, Throwing Mastiffs - 155
Shieldbreakers Regiment (S3), Infantry, Throwing Mastiffs - 155
Rangers Regiment (R1), Infantry - 185
Rangers Regiment (R2), Infantry - 185
Brock Riders Regiment (BR1), Cavalry - 195
Brock Riders Regiment (BR2), Cavalry - 195
Ranger Captain (RC), Hero (Infantry), Pipes of Terror - 110
Dwarf Lord on Large Beast (DL1), Hero (Monster), Blade of Slashing - 205
Dwarf Lord on Large Beast (DL2), Hero (Monster), Brew of Haste - 205
Huw's army has 10 elements total, 9 of which are scoring, with the combined unit strength of 24. I noted that, with the exception of super tough Lords on Large Beasts (and I can't imagine another model than Scibor's Lord on Bear here!) and Ranger Captain, the army is not as heavily armoured as one would expect from Dwarfs. It was thus interesting to see how my army would deal with the foe that has similar defence.
Another very interesting thing that I actually missed initially and learned quickly about in this game, is that there are 5 units that have scout ability here! I think it is a very good option to have, if only to keep the opponent guessing if half of the army is going to use this ability. If you further combine it with pathfinder for all infantry, then you suddenly may have to face the enemy much closer to your battle line and occupying good terrain too.
My initial thoughts were that I needed to neutralize the Rangers quickly, because their shooting may cause a lot of problems. At the same time, I wanted to use my own shooting against the approaching enemy as well. Even though I have only 2 Silverbreeze units and single Archmage, I thought I have a chance to inflict some damage. Especially if I can delay the melee to the point where any charge would have much better odds at breaking the foe.
Despite scout and pathfinder, I still seemed to have advantage in speed and manoeuvrability and I wanted to use that to the advantage as well.
As always, here is my army for comparison.
Stormwind Cavalry Regiment (S), Cavalry, Chalice of Wrath - 230
Palace Guard Regiment (PG1), Infantry - 160
Palace Guard Regiment (PG2), Infantry - 160
Forest Shamblers* Regiment (FS1), Large Infantry - 120
Forest Shamblers* Regiment (FS2), Large Infantry - 120
Drakon Riders* Regiment (DR1), Large Cavalry, Staying Stone - 170
Drakon Riders* Regiment (DR2), Large Cavalry - 165
Silverbreeze Cavalry* (SB1), Cavalry - 130
Silverbreeze Cavalry* (SB2), Cavalry - 130
Lord on Drakon (DL1), Hero (Large Cavalry), Mead of Madness - 180
Lord on Drakon (DL2), Hero (Large Cavalry) - 170
Elven Archmage (A), Hero (Infantry), Inspiring Talisman, Lightning Bolt (5) - 115
Deployment and Scenario
|Elves vs Free Dwarfs - Raze|
This time we played Raze as a scenario. From what I have observed so far, it means that there are essentially 2 ways of placing the tokens. You either match your opponent's placement and 2 out of 3 tokens are on the same flank. Or your two tokens are on the opposite flank to where your opponent placed them.
In this game we both positioned two tokens on the left. I decided to play refused flank in such case because of two reasons. First, I needed more units to actually get to my tokens as I expected that Huw would deploy significant portion of his army there. Second, I could at the same deny (hopefully!) the access to his tokens and increase my chances to win the scenario. I also thought that even with scout and pathfinder, any infantry approaching from the right flank would have had a long way to go before getting to charge distance. So hopefully I would be able to deal with only part of the enemy army first.
I wanted to avid Rangers with my Silverbreeze cavalry so I kept them until the end of the deployment. And to counter Huw's shooting I deployed Forest Shamblers as a walking cover for the Drakon Riders. At the same time I had a bit of a protection for nearby Palace Guard thanks to the hill. I debated for a while where to place my heavy cavalry but I decided to keep them in the centre to threaten slower Brock Riders and buy more time for the shooters to do their job.
But in order for this plan to work I needed to win on the left really fast! Let's see if that worked :)
|Deployment of the Armies after Scout moves.|
Dwarfs - Turn 1
|Rangers lead the way!|
After initial Scout moves the Lord and Brock Riders on the left formed a battle line with the Rangers and awaited the enemy response. Rangers opened fire at the Forest Shamblers but were not as successful in dealing the damage as expected.
The rest of the army moved towards the objectives, using the opportunity Elves seemed to adapt defensive strategy.
Outcasts - Turn 1
|Elves return the fire!|
Elven army seemed to only adjust the positions and kept the distance from the enemy to allow them to shoot but not be in charge range just yet. Elven shooting proved to be more efficient and both Brock Riders units were damaged.
Dwarfs - Turn 2
|The shooting continues|
The Dwarfs did not rush towards the Elven lines, however, and kept on shooting. Rangers did much better this time but the stubborn Forest Shamblers did not yield. Some Mastiffs were also unleashed at the Silverbreeze cavalry. This time the Elves managed to fend off the dogs.
Outcasts - Turn 2
|Elves charge first!|
Elves executed the plan formed by their commanders and all Drakon Riders with one of the Drakon Lords attacked the Rangers on the left flank. Despite the defensive terrain, the attack damaged the unit badly and the Rangers wavered.
Silverbreeze cavalry continued the shooting and Brock Riders were suffering further damage.
Dwarfs - Turn 3
|Dwarfs counter attack!|
Dwarfs immediately counter attacked. Second Rangers unit and nearby Sheieldbreakers teamed up and routed Drakon Riders easily. Dwarf Lord and Brock Riders picked one regiment of Forest Shamblers each and routed them too. That allowed them to claim yet another treasure that the Shamblers were guarding. Brock Riders, however, were a bit overzealous in their charge and pursued a bit too far forward, exposing their flank to the attack of the Palace Guard waiting nearby.
Outcasts - Turn 3
|Elves destroy enemy cavalry units.|
Elves did not slow down in their offensive though. Drakon Riders exploited the fact that the Rangers exposed their flank and finished the unit. The Drakon Lord flew over to avoid the immediate attack as well and landed behind the enemy lines.
Brock Riders had to pay the price for their furious pursuit and were routed by the Palace Guard regiments in turn. Last but not least, Elven shooters inflicted even more damage on the second regiment of Brock Riders. They ceased to be combat ready and the survivors had to withdraw from the battle field.
Dwarfs - Turn 4
|Dwarfs claim the last token!|
As expected, Dwarfs did not care about the losses and kept on fighting. Dwarf Lord and Shieldbreakers charged the Palace Guard on the hill. This attack, however, did not break the Elven elite which held its ground.
In the meantime, the Rangers attempted to stop the Drakon Riders while the second Lord rushed to claim the last token right in front of the Elven units.
Outcasts - Turn 4
|Elves are winning on the left!|
Despite their best efforts, the Rangers were not able to stop Drakon Riders from joining the fight. Even Drakon Lord, although grounded, was able to find a way through and the combined attack saw Shieldbreakers routed and one of the Lords badly wounded.
Stormwind cavalry attacked the second Lord but it was not Elven turn to underperform. At least one of the Drakon Lords managed to snatch a piece of treasure that was left unguarded.
Dwarfs - Turn 5
|Dwarf Lords hold the line!|
It looked like the Dwarf Lords hold the line all by themselves, even though Shielbreakers joined the fight and got rid of the very annoying Elven fast cavalry.
However, it looked as if Elves were already surrounding much depleted Dwarven army.
Outcasts - Turn 5
|Elves rout another Dwarven unit.|
Elves used the speed advantage and executed more combined charges. Although Dwarf Lords were too tough to defeat, the Shieldbreakers were not able to hold the line against the charge of the Drakon Riders. To add insult to injury, a few shots from the Silverbreeze cavalry managed to unnerve the last regiment of the Shieldbreakers too. When the Drakon Lord snatched the last piece of treasure as well, it was clear that whoever would control the centre the battle field would be the winner. And it looked like Elves are closer to accomplishing that goal at this stage.
Dwarfs - Turn 6
|Dwarf Lord rout Elven knights.|
Dwarf Lords teamed up and charged against Stromwind cavalry. The attack was brutal and Elven knights stood no chance and were routed. Rangers and their Captain tried to immitate such a success but unfortunately, they did not inflict enough damage to rout the Drakon Lord.
Outcasts - Turn 6
|Elves seal the deal.|
Any hopes Dwarven Lords had to swing the balance of the battle into their own favour were crushed by the Elven attack. First, the Drakon Lord and Palace Guard defeated the Rangers and secured the flank for good. Then, the Drakon Riders routed the Shieldbreakers and reformed to add their weight to the bulk of units controlling the centre of the battle field. And the last but not least, the shooters brought down one of the Lords.
It meant that the remaining Lord would not have enough time to grind through the Elven units occupying the hill on his own. He and the Rangers Captain were the only survivors of the battle and had to withdraw already memorizing all the grudges that Elves would have to pay for in the future.
|Turn by turn animation summary.|
Many thanks to Huw for a fantastic game! It was great to play against him and I am already looking forward another opportunity to do so. He is an awesome opponent and I can guarantee that you will have a lot of fun if you happen to play against him!
It was actually a very close game, despite the fact that Huw lost a number of units. However, he collected the tokens fast and even with the losses of the regiments that occurred throughout the game, he had a very good chance to win the centre. I think the initial waver in turn 5 against his Shieldbreakers near the hill, and then routing of that unit in turn 6 as well as one of the Lords by shooting were the moments that helped me to win in the end.
Otherwise, the fragile Silverbreeze and Drakon Riders would have perished and the control over the centre of the battle field would have been Huw's. It is the beauty of this game that one can still win the battle, despite heavy losses, as long as the scenario objectives are secured. And the result often does not show how close the game was.
In general, I was of course very happy with the outcome. I managed to win on the left flank, the shooting helped a lot and I did not lose too many units not to be able to control the centre of the battle field. I debated if I should have moved units further to prevent Huw from claiming his tokens so early but I came to the conclusion he would have done so anyway. And I would have lost units in the process regardless.
However, one can always play better or at least differently so I would love to hear from you on what would you do? Either as a Free Dwarf or Elven player in this game. Please leave your comments! :)
First of all, I would like to thank Michael for organizing yet another great online tournament. He stepped in when the regular tournaments are not an option and while online event is not the same as the one with real models, it has its uniqueness and advantages. This time even more so, if you consider bonus points (or penalties!) for choosing particular faction.
I am glad I took part because spare time tends to shrink with every year. Even though I played with the same army as always (which combined with how Elves were classified in the event resulted in quite a penalty), it was a different experience as I played against armies that usually are not popular. What is more important, however, is that I played against 4 fantastic opponents and all my games were awesome! In fact, I wish I could have voted best sport for every one of them, because they all deserved it fully! Instead, I rolled d4 dice :D
Many thanks to Bensome, Michael, Stephen and Huw for making this tournament for me such a fantastic experience!
And for those of you who are interested in the overall standings and armies represented, here is the final ladder:
Thank you for reading and until next time!