Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Game 38 - Dark Elves - 2012/10/14


GuessRange, a frequent visitor to the warhammerau forum, was kind enough to offer me a game with his evil Dark Elves. Yet another game on the UB due to the fact it is far easier to have one online than to travel to another city, even in the same country. :) I was very happy to play against him as he often had very interesting comment on my own battles and I knew I would face a very good opponent. And I haven't played against vile Druchii in ages so it would be an interesting match up too!

GuessRange have already finished his account of that battle so if you are interested in how it looked from the point of view of the evil ones check out his great blog (the report is very good and it is a rare occasion when you can have two from one game so if I were you I would not think twice :)): 

Pre-battle considerations and Army Lists

GR told me he didn't play much in 8th edition but I was not fooled by his "inexperience". His comments always showed great insight and very good understanding of the game so I expected tough game (in a very positive sense! :)). On top of that Dark Elves are very versatile army and despite the fact many armies tend to look the same they have many other good builds. However, GR told me he wanted to play with miniatures he has in his collection and which come mainly from 4th and 5th edition. That suggested that I might face more old school Druchii rather than some horde corsairs/crossbows, double hydras and pendant dreadlord. Not that it would made things anything different :) And to an extend I was correct as this is how his army list looked like in details:

Dark Elves - Army List

High Sorceress Melith, Level 4, General, Darkstar Cloak, Crystal of Midnight - Dark Magic
Master Horkrim, BSB, Heavy Armour, Great Weapon
Assassin Kalil, Rune of Khaine
Assassin Sharik, Rune of Khaine

19 Corsairs, Full Command, extra Hand Weapon
19 Corsairs, Full Command, extra Hand Weapon
16 Repeater Crossbowmen, Musician
8 Dark Riders, Musician, Repeater Crossbows
5 Harpies

19 Black Guard, Full Command, Banner of Hag Graef with Kouran, Crimson Death, Armour of Grief
5 Cold One Knights, Full Command, Gleaming Pennant
8 Shades, extra Hand Weapon

3 Reaper Bolt Throwers

A very interesting army indeed. Blocks of infantry do remind about 7th edition but also give quite a good measure of flexibility. Probably the first thing to notice is good amount of shooting with 3 repeaters posing a big threat on their own. However, repeater crossbows with their multiple shots and -1 to armor save are extremely dangerous even to high armor units due to sheer amount of bolts available per turn. But that is not the only strength of that army.

Dark Magic, rarely seen on the battlefields, is a potent lore, probably underestimated too. Relatively low casting values of spells together with Power of Darkness and Darkstar Cloak can provide the Sorceress with enough power dice to cast all her spells per turn. And all the spells are very useful, even if some seem to work indirectly. They can interfere with shooting (which I need too), with close combat abilities (helps in offense to hit on 3+ and defense to be hit on 5+) or simply deal some damage. Together with potent shooting it does not matter if units are big or small as damage dealers can either focus their efforts on single target or spread their attention, whatever is required. It is hard to make priority as each spell is nasty.

Combat capabilities of this army should not be underestimated either. Sure, they don't have many high strength attacks but with the number of them they can produce, with eternal hatred and against my fragile troops there would be casualties no matter what. Add to that a few heavy hitters like Black Guard led by Kouran or Assassins and you would see that going through the hail of bolts and magic missiles would not be my only concern.

Outcasts - Army List

I picked my usual army list although this time I came back to 2 heavy cavalry units as I came to the conclusion I do better with more units rather than with more characters.

Archmage, Annulian Crystal - High Magic
BSB, Heavy Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Dragon Helm, Reaver Bow

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 Dragon Princes
5 Ellyrian Reavers
, Musician
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician

Great Eagle
Great Eagle

I wanted to use my unit number superiority to my advantage and by creating some double line deployment I would be able to apply more pressure on narrow frontage and also prevent casualties to be inflicted in some units so that when they arrive they would be strong enough to deal with their foes.

I thought I could use archers and their longer range to either hit support units of the Dark Elves or aim at repeaters as with only 2 crew I had a chance to inflict some damage. Hitting on 4+ meant with 20 of them I looked at a good chance to inflict a wound or two per turn. LSG could also be quite good at fighting off support elements while be close to combat infantry to add their attacks to the equation as against similarly fragile troops their spears and ASF would be a good tool to use.

I also had advantage in speed having twice as many units in light cavalry, heavy cavalry and fliers categories. And last but not least High Magic would be very handy with all the spells I might roll.

Deployment after Vanguard. Numbers indicate the order of deployment

The battle field was relatively straightforward. GR won the roll off and took South with the hill (obviously! :)) while I won roll off to start deploying. We played with the hill if infinite height but forests still obscured the vision (although this time they were not magical).

In terms of vanguard I moved Western reavers first, then dark riders entered the forest and in the end I decided not to move second unit so that they have forest protection and do not enter short range of repeaters. Also corssbows could not shoot them yet unless they moved. GR decided to deploy Shades as a normal unit, probably due to the fact that deploying them as such would rob him of +1 bonus to the roll off for first turn.

Assassins were obviously hidden, Sorceress led on of the corsair units while Kouran and BSB accompanied Blak Guard. HE BSB joined White Lions in the center while Archmage led second regiment, carrying Gleaming Pennant.

Following spells were rolled:

Dark Elf Sorceress - Power of Darkness, Chillwind, Doombolt, Word of Pain, Bladewind
Archmage - Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Flames of the Phoenix, Vaul's Unmaking

GR won the roll off and he started the game.

Dark Elves - Turn 1
First blood for Dark Elves

Dark Elves moved some of the regiments on the West and reckless Ellyrian Reavers were caught by surprise and died in the storm of black arrows shot by the treacherous Dark Riders. Shades tried to follow that example but the target, sea guard, was far enough to limit the accuracy. They were, however, also a target of the Chillwind cast by the Sorceress. She engaged the Archmage in the battle of wills with the aid of her Crystal but his mind was too strong. It was a prelude to the dark energies eruption she planned to unleash. Finally, repeaters aimed at another light cavalry and three more Ellyrians feel from their steeds.

Outcasts - Turn 1

High Elves advance on the East when disaster happens!

The regiments on the East move towards the enemy while the Archers and LSG backed by Swordmasters and White Lions form the defensive line to prevent Dark Elves from hitting the flank of the advancing units. Warriors of the Sea Guard could not shoot due to magical blizzard that attacked them. Archers and BSB decided to shoot at the closest threat but armor of the Cold One Knights proved to be too tough to penetrate even for magic arrows of BSB's bow.

In the meantime the Archmage unleashed his wrath at corrupted kin. Flames of the Phoenix engulfed crossbowmen, who wavered but the fear of the punishment they saw promise of in the cold eyes of the army BSB was stronger than the fear of death in flames. The Archmage then focused on magic banner carried by Black Guard and destroyed it but in doing so he drew too much energy and in the consequence a huge explosion took him to the realm of chaos while nearby dragon princes and half of the White Lions unit perished too. Dark Elf Sorceress didn't hide her joy, now she had no one to oppose her.

Dark Elves - Turn 2
Armies keep whirling around each other
Dark Elves pressed on the West while keeping defensive formation on the East and used their artillery to unleash further punishment on their hated kin. Last members of the light cavalry died and White Lions on the East could not be protected even by their famous cloaks as there were simply too many deadly bolts unleashed at them.

On the West Dark Riders (not caring of one of their careless member lost in the forest) and Shades sped toward the enemy shooting while running towards High Elves. But it was the Sorceress who dealt the most damage. Drawing from the Power of Darkness she froze to death Archers whose companions could not stand the horror and fled the battle. Second unit was barely keeping formation as each member had to deal with enormous pain that erupted in their bodies. Finally almost half of the White Lions lost their lives due to deadly doombolt that sprang from the fingertips of the Sorceress. She was pleased and her grin was wider and wider when she felt all the pain she unleashed.

Outcasts - Turn 2

High Elves keep pressing on the East

Archers could not stand it any longer and in rage they run towards the evil sorceress. BSB kept his units together and tried to keep the line intact to prevent envelopment. He and sea guard fell 3 dark riders but the survivors didn't care.

On the East one unit of Dragon Princes leveled their lances and charged corsairs in a glorious but reckless charge, their caledorian pride taking better off their judgement. Unlucky for them the treacherous forest claimed 2 of them before they hit their enemy. Full rank of black arc crew fell and even the assassin could not harm proud knights but dark elves didn't care about casualties and surrounded High Elf knights.

In the meantime remaining heavy cavalry, Swordmasters and Sea Guard prepared to attack the crossbowmen. Even the eagles swooped down from the skies to aid them in the attack.

Dark Elves - Turn 3
Dark Elves shooters and spells inflict horrendous casualties once again

Fast regiments on the West encircled their enemies while peppering them with bolts. High Elves died in droves but didn't run, determined to fight to the last. Yet again the Sorceress unleashed the powers of her dark magic and yet again many brave High Elves died.

Dragon Princes could not fight enormous pain wrecking their bodies and corsairs surrounding them but it was the assassin who killed them all. White Lions died to an elf protecting battle standard. Eagles too were either struck from the sky or destroyed on the ground. Elven army melted at a scary speed and their attack was faltering while the integration of the force ceased to exist.

Outcasts - Turn 3
High Elves battle for survival now

High Elves had one option now - to break through encirclement and escape the massacre individually. Archers decided to sacrifice themselves in a suicidal attack aimed at sorceress but that brave attempt failed and another assassin finished them all.

BSB killed two more Dark Riders and this time they panicked and fled the battle. But there were still many targets to destroy. Dragon Princes and Sea Guard on the East charged through the forest and pushed hard against Crossbowmen. Many high elves fell due to incoming bolts and one knight was claimed by the forest. They managed to break their corrupted kin but they still escaped pursuit. If only Swordmasters were quick enough to join the fight ...

Dark Elves - Turn 4
Dark Elves start mopping up

Dark Elves could close in to get into combat by they took perverse pleasure in watching high elves dying due to spells and bolts. Repaters claimed lives of Swordmasters guarding battle standard while Bladewind was unleashed upon second regiment. Despite heavy casualties High Elves refused to give ground. Sea Guard on the East was Chillwinded and last Caledorian was shot down by one of the bolt throwers.

Outcasts - Turn 4
High Elves keep fighting against all odds

BSB aimed carefully and claimed lives of three Shades and then the survivors simply fled. Desperate Sea Guard attacked crossbows despite the fact Swordmasters were late again and locked in mortal combat where no side was willing to give ground.

Dark Elves - Turn 5

Dark Elves still refuse to engage in close combat

Dark Elf Sorceress now focuses on the survivors on the West. Only wounded BSB and 2 sea guard warriors remain after she finishes casting her destructive magic. Brave Battle Standard Bearer is then pierced by heavy bolts from repeaters and proud standard of High Elves topples to the ground.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Last charge of High Elves

Swordmasters finally aid sea guard in their deadly combat and crossbowmen are killed to an elf. Swordmasters break through but sea guard is too slow to follow.

Dark Elves - Turn 6

Dark Elves finish the last survivors

Finally Cold One Knights and Harpies charge Sea Guard who try to retreat but are caught in pursuit. Second regiment is finished by shooting and only 5 Swordmasters are the sole survivors of the High Elf army.

After-battle thought

Ouch, that was brutal. By the end of turn 1 I was at a significant disadvantage. By the end of turn 2 my army already have taken too much damage. Since the end of turn 3 it was all over and the question was if I can make the defeat smaller.

I definitely screwed up deployment. There was no need to lean heavily on one flank. I didn't use my units number superiority and instead of using my speed I suffocated myself. Moving Reavers forward was simply stupid and I gave away that unit for free.

Archers were too far away to shoot at repeaters simply because I didn't check the distance in the movement phase.  I should at least move them to shoot at harpies since they have low LD and I could get rid of them early. And be ready to shoot or to charge Dark Riders if they were too close. I got them in the end but they have already caused too many casualties.

I was very desperate on the East when I lost my archmage and lions. I didn't move fast enough to attempt charge against crossbows with both heavy cavalry as I didn't want to move them so that they would not be "protected" by the forest. Hence the stupid charge against corsairs which had only slim chances of breaking them and overrunning into artillery.

Dark Magic is simply brutal. So many spells which are all nasty and one cannot decide which to dispel. Losing archmage turn 1 was unlucky and helped the Sorceress to cripple my army on her own. But even with him around it would be a struggle. Without him I simply used my all dice to dispel Bladewind as I considered it the most dangerous spell. I managed to dispel it twice but twice GR changed the strategy and cast it with enough dice to have it. I didn't get double 6 so had to suffer.

GR played very good game and he fully exploited my mistakes and opportunities presented during the game. It was a pleasure to play against him although the game turned out to be quite one sided. As I told him after the game I just wish I forced him to work harder for that well deserved victory!

It was another harsh lesson I got but I keep telling myself it will be for the greater good :D I hope you still enjoyed the report and I will try to convince GR it is worthy to have a rematch so that I have a chance to redeem myself :)

Thanks for the reading!

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