Monday 22 September 2014

Game 35 - Bretonnia - 2012/09/17


This time I had a great opportunity to play a game against Lord Anathir (ShadowMage for UB players). He mentioned long time ago that he would like to provide a proper test for my MSU army and finally we met at the battlefield. He also gave me a choice between his Dwarves or Bretonnians. Since I am at the moment still healing after the beating I got while assaulting a Dwarven castle I picked Brets. I knew roughly what his army is going to have and it was a different kind of challenge. Flying Circus! :)

Army Lists and pre-battle considerations

Bretonnia in general is tough opponent. With high armor save, ward save all around and fast troops it is hard to inflict significant damage and picking up fights is not easy either. We also played ETC rules as LA plans to attend that event next year but I thought we are using only rules for terrain and such. As it turned out, LA brought his 2400 and I had my usual 2500, which luckily for me fits the current rules pack too. I still feel embarrassed though that we didn't check that out before the game  :oops:

Brets might look like one dimensional army and it is true that they don't have that many options as other armies but I think they are still doing great despite having one of the oldest army books out there. As I have mentioned earlier, LA brought flying circus and here are the details:

Bretonnia - Army List

Lord, Pegasus, Asf sword, Hkb, Dawnstone, Dragonhelm
Lvl4, warhorse, Falconhorn, Dispel scroll - Lore of Heavens
Bsb, barded horse, questing vow, great weapon, morning star, Gromril great helm, Mantle of damsel elena
Paladin, barded steed, virtue of duty, morning star, Enchanted shield

12 Knights of the Realm, fc, Gleaming pennant
12 Knights Errants, fc, Warbanner
3 Pegasus Knights, champ
3 Pegasus Knights, champ
3 Pegasus Knights, champ
5 yeomen
2 x trebuchet
5 Grail Knights
, standard, Banner of Eternal Flame

4 fast cavalry units, 2 powerful lances and flying lord on top of it. I was definitely facing a much faster army. 2 war machines didn't help to maneuver easily and lore of heavens has some nasty spells hurting MSU in particular. Despite more deployment drops I also knew that LA will have a go at re-arranging his formation and I was sure there will be no easy paths to trebuchets thanks to that. With fast army like that he was sure to change the direction of attack at will. And I also know how annoying combination of good armor save and ward save can be. A very interesting army and the one which can test MSU to the fullest. I was very curious about this game indeed!

Outcasts - Army List

I brought the same army as against Dwarves as I wanted to see if I could use Noble properly and if that change against knightly units will be better for me.

Archmage, Annulian Crystal - High Magic
BSB, Heavy Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Dragon Helm, Reaver Bow
Noble, Dragon Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Barded Steed, Helm of Fortune, The Other Trickster Shard, Pigeons Pennant

10 Archers, Light Armor, Musician
10 Archers, Light Armor, Musician
14 LSG, Shields, Full Command
15 LSG, Shields, Full Command

10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Amulet of Light
10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Talisman of Loec
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard, Gleaming Pennant
5 Dragon Princes
5 Ellyrian Reavers
, Musician
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician

Great Eagle
Great Eagle

I knew my S3 shooting is not going to impress the Brets but I also knew that 3+/6++ saves on Pegasus Knights give some hope for being able to inflict some damage anyway. I could not compete in the sheer speed department so I wanted to bring my small arms to the equation. Concentrated fire should bring some Pegasus units down.

Light cavalry were about to get back up in the form of DP and Noble. If I could somehow lure PK out of the formation I could counter-charge them and possibly open the path to trebuchets for reavers. I wanted to keep some pressure with my fast units so that some of the fast elements of the enemy would have to perform defensive role and could not be used to land behind my lines or block my regiments.

Big lances were a big problem. In particular the one with all characters as I expected them to go in one place all together. They of course could switch places which I tried to take into account somehow. I trusted my heavy hitters to do some damage but in order for them to be more efficient I needed to separate the regiments of the enemy. Or attack them all at once with everything I had. Even then it is tough job to break that armor and even win combats. Bret knights can still hit back with multitude of attacks which although at S3 still hurt elves. Fighting characters didn't help either.


Deployment of the armies. Grey arrows indicate vanguard moves.

Bretonnian army deployed in some kind of castle formation and I wondered it they are going to play defensive battle trying to soften my troops with artillery and comets before the combats. As expected there was no direct route to the trebuchets and Pegasus Knights were in the position to even charge my troops in their turn 1.

Since we played ETC rules hills were of infinite height. Two buildings on the left had 2 levels while the one on the right had single level. The ruins in the middle were difficult terrain.

All characters in Bretonnian army joined Knights Errant with the obvious exception of their General. Archmage and BSB joined LSG each while Noble was leading DP to battle.

Prophetess had following spells: Iceshard Blizzard, Harmonic Convergence, Curse of the Midnight Wind, Comet of Casandora
Archmage had: Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Courage of Aenarion, Fury of Khaine, Vaul's Unmaking

Outcasts - Turn 1
Opening moves by High Elves

Elven regiments on the left flank begun their enveloping maneuver with fast units leading the way and hard hitters following. The units maintained their wide formations ready for incoming artillery fire. The units in the center moved a little to bring their bows in range and let lose at the Pegasus Knights squadron in the middle of Bretonnian formation. 42 bows, including that carried by the Battle Standard Bearer, were aimed carefully and ... a single wound was inflicted against enemy flying unit.

In the meantime Archmage weaved his protective magic and Shield of Saphery shimmered brightly around BSB and his sea guard while all nearby troops were filled with courage of Aenarion himself.

Bretonnia - Turn 1
Bretonnians spread to flanks

Bretonnian units spread to flanks, in particular Pegasus Knights. On the left one unit blocks the path to the trebuchet, while general and second squadron guard it. On the right Grail Knights and third unit of Pegasus Knights use the hill as a cover for their advance.

Trebuchet crews miss the Swordmasters at the left flank completely but Prophetess manages to cast a hex at the eagle. Heavens magic hurts great bird of pray too.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Elves decide to attack early

Light cavalry charges interfering Pegasus Knights hoping that the ferocity of their charge will break their enemy but the knights refuse to yield. Wounded eagle swoops down on the trebuchet and kills one of the crewmen but his comrades, taking heart from the close proximity of their lord and thanks to encouraging shouts from their bsb hold.

Dragon Princes and White Lions on the left move forward again to put some more pressure on that flank while missile units in the center once again step forward and aim at Pegasus Knights. This time their arrows found some weak spots and two knights fell. Archers on the hill chose different target and shot at yeomen. Two of them perished but the survivors held under the stern eyes of nearby knights. The Archmage once again protected bsb unit with magical shield and boosted morale of the troops with visions of Aenarion courage.

Bretonnia - Turn 2
Bretonnians move cautiously

Bretonnian general rescues the crew of the trebuchet. No other unit charges recklessly and they keep maneuvering instead. Only one regiment of Pegasus Knights remains locked in combat. High Elves hit their adversaries many times but only one, already wounded knight fell. On the other hand the knights and their flying mounts could not land a blow on fast elves and yet again Bretonnians lost combat but again remained steadfast.

Single trebuchet could not hit anything as their boulder went wide off the target.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Elves slowed down their advance

Elven army slowed down as the units reformed into deeper formations. Both, Archmage and BSB pulled back a little and joined their Chracian bodyguards.

The fight between reavers and Pegasus Knights remained a deadlock again.

Shooting was this time ineffective, in particular 10 archers at a hill could not find a weak spot in the armor of the remaining, wounded pegasus knight who was recovering near the trebuchet.

In similar pattern as so far the Archmage aided his troops with protective and morale boosting magic. Unfortunately some magical sound heard from Bretonnian ranks affected lone eagle and instead of flying high the bird of prey seemed to be completely grounded.

Bretonnia - Turn 3
Bretonnian powerful attack

Bretonnians decide on the attack on the whole front line. Their general charged Dragon Princes and although the Noble assisting them challenged the lord and no blows could penetrate the armor of each adversary the knights had the formation disrupted and withdrew to regroup with the general trying to catch them. Nearby light cavalry lost 3 of their members and also pulled out from combat. Unfortunately in doing so they blocked white lions coming to their aid.

In the center Knights Errant spurred their horses and wheeled towards archers on the hill. They elected to withdraw but in doing so confused Swordmasters behind them who withdrew too. It was a fatal mistake as in consequence they were not prepared for a surprise attack from Pegasus Knights who ambushed them from behind the hill and elven warriors perished.

Knights of the Realm also decided to attack and since there were no Swordmasters guarding their flank, sea guard decided to choose tactical retreat.

Grail Knights chased the eagle and although they could not catch it the bird of pray was assaulted midair by lone pegasus knight and destroyed too.

A powerful attack by Bretonnians didn't destroy many elven units but the coherence of their formation was definitely gone.

Outcasts - Turn 4
High Elves reforge their battle line

All fleeing units rally and these with some coherence among their ranks are ordered to maintain the pressure. White Lions on the left move quickly toward the center but lose one of their numbers in a treacherous terrain. Swordmasters move in a similar fashion why sea guard reforms to deep formation.

Shooting is a little more efficient since the survivor of one of the pegasus units is finally put down while Archmage destroys annoying yeomen with fury of Khaine.

Bretonnia - Turn 4
Bretonnians reform their battle line

Pegasus Knights on the left charge one unit of reavers, kill two but lone survivor holds. Bretonnian lord and another unit of Pegasus Knights fly behind enemy lines. Knights Errant and Knights of the Realm keep maneuvering for better positions and Grail Knights move fast to aid them in any combat.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Some counter-charges by High Elves

2 reavers make a long charge against trebuchet and kill one crewman but earlier fights must have exhausted them and one was already to slow to avoid clumsy blow. The two remaining crew members didn't yield.

Dragon Princes charged Pegasus Knights but due to quite a crowd in combat only the noble fought in a duel against the champion of the unit and wounded him. Last reaver didn't survive however. Pegasus Knights didn't hold this time and fled but their flying mounts managed to just outpace their pursuers.

Other regiments moved towards their enemy trying to either block or separate their enemies. Not all went well as White Lions on the left were too slow and didn't block Knights Errant in time ([i]Edit: I rolled 11 for march test then proceeded to re-roll that and ... got 11 again, ah well :)[/i])

Bretonnia - Turn 5
Another devastating attack by Bretonnians

Bretonnian Lord charged Dragon princes and the Noble challenged again but this time he was killing blowed for his effort while all hits were deflected by the armor of the Bretonnian general. The Knights could not hold in such dire circumstances and were run down by their enemy.

Both Lances charged sea guard and destroyed the unit. Pegasus Knights didn't make it to the combat and Bretonnians consolidated.

Outcasts - Turn 6
Last hope for Elves

High Elves tried to turn the tide of the battle and White Lions with Swordmasters charged Knights Errant. Swordmasters managed to kill Bretonnian BSB and several times wounded the champion of the unit as well as another Paladin but in their case the armor or blessing of the lady protected them. White Lions managed to fell down 3 knights for no losses but despite that Elves still lost combat and only Swordmasters managed to hold fast.

Archers charged Pegasus Knights to hold them and do not let them join that last combat.

Bretonnia - Turn 6
Finishing charges by Bretonnians

It was clear that Bretonnians carried the day but their units charged the easy targets still. Pegasus Knights recklessly attacked depleted Swordmasters and both died for their arrogance. Swordmasters once again tried to kill the Palading and Errant Champion but both were saved again and warriors of Hoeth were destroyed. Brave Archers who held Pegasus Knights received the charge from the Knights of the Realm and were killed too.

Bretonnia clearly won this time.

After-battle thoughts

Despite the loss I enjoyed the game a lot. I learned a lot too. It was very interesting to observe the way LA positions his units to cover many angles and deny me good spots to land with my fast units. A few times I thought he might charge in but he didn't and I still wonder was it due to the fact I could withdraw my units or is it because quite often potential targets were stubborn and/or had a ward save.

In the game where both armies rely on movement phase a lot there are many options and it might not be a surprise to miss a one or two. I certainly didn't use all of them and often not the best ones. I have made some mistakes too and they definitely contributed to my defeat.

Here are things I would do differently or at least they keep me wondering about different approaches, which might be better in the end.

1. Fast cavalry - I committed the units too early and possibly against the regiment they could not handle. I could have been too optimistic. Sure, with re-rolls and S4 on the charge it was relatively good chance to drop single Pegasus. But they are still well protected, T4 and have enough attacks back to hurt me. Maybe I should play that game of fast units longer and bring my heavy hitters closer so that there would be more pressure put on the left flank. With cavalry forward and infantry in the second line it would be possible to deny safe landing zones for PK. It would be interesting for sure!

2. Eagles - I am not happy with the use of eagles. I charged with the first one to stop trebuchet from shooting for one turn as I had no chances to survive against Bretonnian lord. And naively believed I could break PK on a charge (which could have happened since they had to take break test on 6-7) :) I missed them when I wanted to block the big lances and although it was nice when the second one was hunted down by Grail Knights so that they didn't outflank my forces, I still think I could keep this one somewhere safe and use him later.

3. Dragon Princes + Noble - I didn't use them well at all. First, I blocked them with reavers so they could not help early enough. Then I risked them against the lord forgetting about his killing blow ability. I think at this stage I should have separated them and start moving noble on his own. Another mistake was to charge noble and unit at pegasus knights since DP could not fight at all. I forgot LA moved the champion to the side and I simply lost the attacks and tied the unit. I was eager to finish them but could not catch them. Even if I did I was still with exposed flank to the charge of the lord. Not good idea at all. And last but not least I forgot I gave the noble Pigeon Pendant so he had that 5+ ward save against flying enemies  #-o Would that save the regiment if I rolled ward save successfully? Maybe, I would have better chance for sure :)

4. White Lions on left flank - it was a little unlucky that when I wanted to march them to block big lance I failed march test even with a re-roll from Gleaming Pennant (which I needed for break test). It is very likely I would lose that regiment but I wanted to inflict some damage to heroes present in the Knight Errant lance and be able to bring Swordmasters, LSG and another Lions to attack Knights of the Realm. Instead I decided to sacrifice LSG to hold the lances in place or, if LA chose to overrun, have them in awkward position. Another unlucky roll came when the regiment was taking their stubborn test and fled from combat leaving Swordmasters alone. If the regiments held the fight would continue and with Lions at the flank I still had a glimmer of hope to turn the tables.

5. BSB and Archmage positioning and big fight at the end - I made a mistake when I didn't switch characters. BSB should be with Lions and Archmage with LSG so that BSB would be closer to the fight and could lend that very much needed re-rolls. Also, I was wondering how to solve that last rounds and how to attack. I was worried that if I brought Archmage to the fight he would die there. I was considering a charge of Swordmasters and White Lions with Archmage against Knights of the Realm so that both lances would be involved in a single combat and if I managed to win that fight both regiments would have to take break test. But it was unclear if I could make that charge (due to close proximity of both lances). I also got paranoid that 5+ charge from Swordmasters against Knights of the Realm would fail leaving only White Lions on the flank of big lance, second Lions fighting alone against KotR and being exposed to counter against Grail Knights. But I missed another opportunity (especially if BSB had been present in Lions instead of the Archmage). I could declare the charge of bottom Lions against Knights Errant thus making it almost certain that Swordmasters would hit their target as planned and by doing so I would draw KotR into combat too. It was the best shot I had against both tough regiments and I am aware that it was a "risk big - win big or lose big" situation. I went for a less risky option where the archmage and his unit was not in combat and in the end I didn't get the prize. It is of course tough call to say if I would end up better with this move but as I said, the chances to win such combat seem to be better that the combat I had.

Another mistake I made earlier with BSB positioning was when I changed formation of Lions at the bottom and moved back BSB to join them but didn't make sure Swordmasters who have just left the building were in range. While it seems unlucky to fail panic test like that, it happened too many times to risk it and being more careful would greatly increase my chances to keep the unit in the fight.

I am sure there are more things which I have missed so I would be grateful for some feedback on what could have been done better.

I also want to say that it was a great game thanks to LA being great sport. We had some rules discussions and I wish all disputes are solved in such manner. The game took some time but it was still relatively fast considering how many movement options both armies have. I really like that Bretonnian army and I would love to have a rematch some day. Much more than to face LA's Dwarves and provide his artillery with some target practice. :)

Thanks for reading!

Cheers! :)

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