Tuesday 16 September 2014

Game 33 - Empire - 2012/07/04


It seemed that we haven't played against each other for some time so when Eastern Barbarian aka wardancer told me he wants to put his highly experimental MSU Empire army to the test I was more than happy to accept the challenge!

Army List and pre-battle considerations

I haven't had many chances to play against Empire so far but the most recent game at Wintercon proved it can be a tough army. Sheer amount of 1+ armor save is already difficult to deal with while addition of a nasty artillery makes it even more troublesome. However, I know EB often picks completely different units and armies for his forces so I was curious as what he is going to test this time. It was an experimental force since he has not played with new book yet and also because he got hooked by MSU concept and all he does now is this approach.

Empire - Army List

Wizard Lord on barded Warhorse, Level 4 - Lore of Heavens
Warrior Priest on barded Warhorse
BSB on barded Warhorse
Captain on Pegasus
Captain on Pegasus

10 Inner Circle Knights, Full Command, Steel Banner
5 Knights, Musician
5 Knights, Musician
10 Huntsmen

5 Reiksguard
, Musician
5 Outriders, Musician
5 Outriders, Musician
3 Demigryphs, Musician


Hm, cavalry MSU. With a Steamtank. And Heavens magic. Ah well, at least he didn't have Hellblaster. :) I can't remember all the items but I do remember captains had some gear to protect them from fire and both sported 1+ armor save. A very fast army and with enough units to counter my usual advantage. I decided to be patient and do not move too much forward unless I have a good opportunity to do so. My shooting might not be something knights can fear so I wanted to use it to deal with outriders, very dangerous to my small regiments.


Deployment after Vanguard moves

I deployed majority of the army away from steamtank to avoid it longer. Then some of my combat troops were in defensive positions behind the obstacles or in the ruins to force some dangerous terrain tests. I also ended up with majority of shooters on the Western flank so outriders on the East might be around longer than I wanted them to be. Another opportunity I wanted to use was due to the fact that Empire army was more compact. If I could isolate their knightly units there was a chance I could surround them with 2 of my own and break them with static combat resolution. Since IC Knights were joined by "only" 2 characters I thought there might be a chance to deal with them too, in particular if Lions could charge them. Eagle on the East was to sacrifice itself by landing in front of the tank to slow it down and divert it using its random movement to its disadvantage.

Our wizards ended up with following spells:

Celestial Wizard - Iceshard Blizzard, Harmonic Convergence, Uranon's Thunderbolt and Chain Lightning (great :/)
Archmage - Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Fury of Khaine, Vaul's Unmaking

Empire won the roll-off and took the first turn.

Empire - Turn 1
Knights move forward as one

Empire knights moved in formation like a steam roller towards the fragile elven lines. Artillery and shooters opened fire but somehow cannon balls could not land on targets and outriders had problems with hitting through the forest too. Harmonic Convergence was cast at the knightly unit between Demigryphs and the rock while both captains readied themselves for the swift attack from behind the front line of their army.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elven shooting is more deadly this time

Elves do not move much yet. On the West some regiments entered the woods and sea guard and archers opened fire at outriders killing them all. The Archmage summoned the fury of khaine and blasted one of the captains. Demigryph knights where so shocked they decided to withdraw and re-group. Suddenly Western flank didn't look that solid for Empire anymore.

On the East sea guard entered the house and shot at the other regiment of outriders together with ellyrian reavers but they all failed to kill even a single empire trooper. This time their armor was saving their lives as never.

Empire - Turn 2
Empire shoots back

Despite unlucky turn of events on the Western flank Empire pushes forward. Artillery this time works much better and with the aid of remaining outriders elven troops suffer many casualties. One unit of reavers and one eagle are destroyed and the thunder of cannons panics horses of second reavers unit s they have to withdraw. Some Dragon Princes perish too.

Center of the Empire army moves forward but a little slower to prepare more co-ordinated attack. Only captain on Pegasus flew his mount right in front of the elven archers. Celestial Wizard supported him with Harmonic Convergence and also cast Iceshards Blizzard at one of the archers unit.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Elves charge first
Dragon Princes decided to attack first and charged one unit of knights and when they fled, elven cavalry swiftly changed the direction and attacked another knightly regiment on the West. Unfortunately for Elves they managed to break through the armor of a single human knight only and his companions held.

On the West all shooters aimed at the captain and even wounded him once (Edit: I forgot to mark it on the diagram). Swordmasters reformed slightly so that they could help Lions in the ruins if they were charged. Another Lions regiment abandoned their defensive position as it was too close to the steamtank and they also had to be ready to support Dragon Princes engaged in combat.

Empire - Turn 3

Inner Circle Knights counter attack
Inner Circle Knights attack Dragon Princes from the flank but despite burning hatred inspired by the Warrior Priest among them they managed to kill only 2 elven knights and the third one run towards the woods, from which he never returned again. Smaller unit of knights tried to pursue but hold in front of the haunted forest.

Empire artillery and shooters again could not do much and even Steamtank engineer with his multi-shot pistol could not kill the annoying eagle. At the same time Pegasus captain also was less than heroic in his charge against the Archers who easily held.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Lions charge in too!

High Elves took the advantage of the fact that Empire army was now fragmented and some units isolated or in a bad spot to help their companions. White Lions attacked with their famous fury but not only their powerful attacks were deflected but many of them died and one of the regiments had to withdrew to re-group or to suffer annihilation.

Archers kept fighting against the captain and second unit joined the fight to wound him again but he kept fighting. Only Archmage noted more spectacular success as he managed to kill his counter-part with timely cast magic missile.

Empire - Turn 4
Empire calls for reinforcements

Empire troops on Western flank finally move forward but in a reluctant way. Only one knightly unit attempts a charge but Dragon Princes withdrew. Inner Circle Knights and White Lions remain locked in deadly combat and both units take casualties. Outriders decided to reinforce the Western flank and artillery finally gets rid of the great eagle.

Outcasts - Turn 4
The result of the battle still hangs in the balance

Elves rallied their troops and re-dressed their ranks. They suffered heavy blows but it was not finished yet. Reavers moved through the gap towards the enemy and even managed to shot down 2 outriders while their companions fled to safety.

IC Knights and Lions kept killing each other and only few survivors on both sides remained. Pegasus captain finished one unit of archers and could focus on the second one now.

Empire - Turn 5
Bad turn of events for Empire

Somehow Western flank of Empire army does not want to join the fight and does not even threaten it could. Another regiment of Knights on the center-East, seeing that there are only 2 lions fighting inner circle knights decide to attack another Chracian regiment but they are stuck in that fight. Then, with a powerful push, 2 lions not only avoid being killed but manage to break their enemy, capturing their battle standard. Only a priest and single knight survive the pursuit.

To add insult to injury finally free steamtank experiences some malfunction and there are some minor detonations heard from its armored belly.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Elves get upper hand

Seeing new opportunity Elves charged fleeing priest and the knight forcing them to run through dangerous terrain and through the ranks of their friends. The last knight is not lucky and falls from his horse while another regiment panics seeing their priest fleeing the battle.

At the same time Pegasus captain and white lions all keep fighting against their enemies. Ellyrian reavers charge the cannon and easily destroy it hitting outriders behind it using the momentum of their charge.

At this point Empire army disengages and leaves the field to victorious Elves.

After-battle thoughts

When I saw the diagrams I made I realized how close I was to be defeated. The combination of some mistakes made by wardancer and his bad luck helped me to carry the day:

1. Early success with killing the captain and panicking Demigryphs was more than I expected and relieved the pressure from the Western flank. I was lucky to get 12 hits and then wardancer was kind enough not to save 3 of them. That stalled his advance there. He should have returned with his 3 regiments as I would not be able to intercept them all with my Swordmasters.

2. I am not sure if it was a right decision to charge with DP so early but I wanted at least to prevent combined charge of both units against White Lions in the ruins. To our surprise 1 DP remained so that IC could not overrun (and hit Lions I foolishly positioned in such a way they would have been hit in the flank).

3. The only time the luck changed was when I attacked IC knights with both lions units. I was considering for a second charging from the flank only but decided to go for it as with 18 S6 attacks, hitting on 3+ with re-roll I thought I can inflict significant damage to win. Then IC knights would not be able to regroup and next turn I should be able to grind down the unit. As it happened I lost badly and even broke with one regiment (gleaming pennant helped only one unit).

4. Wardancer had bad luck with his knights then as he failed to finish my lions. I think I would charge them with second regiment to make sure they are dead and then attack second regiment of Chracians. But I cannot blame him for believing that 2 characters and 3 knights can win against 2 lions. That he broke due to failing 3D6 Ld 7 test even with a re-roll is simply ridiculous.

5. Steamtank should have charged the eagle too. It would slow it down for a turn but because he decided to shoot at an eagle and missed he lost more time. With malfunctions later on it seemed the tank was not used this game at all.

6. I also think he moved Outriders too far and it was not good idea to turn them like that. I would put them on the flank of a hill and wait for reavers to come. Archers tried to kill some of them and panic them but failed. Outriders would not have such a problem.

7. Wizard solo is vulnerable, even with 4+ look out sir so that he has to be moved more carefully. It is not bad idea but it is definitely more risky and if one fails too many LoS rolls then it is a huge loss to the army. Maybe one on foot with huntsmen is better idea?

8. I didn't position my units well enough to counter the captain. I should have moved sea guard forward and princes behind them to be ready for a counter attack. Instead he turned off my shooting for half a game.

I am sure there are more things to discuss in that game, we both made mistakes and I am fully aware I need to play more solid game so that I don't need bad luck of my opponent to win a game.

Thanks for reading!

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