Saturday 18 October 2014

Game 45 - Bretonnia - 2012/11/24


Please, accept my apologies for the delay but fortunately I have finally managed to find time to write the last report from the Hammer of Dave tournament. Last round I played against Murray (Adam's dad whom I faced in round 2) and armored might of Bretonnian army. :)

Army List and pre-battle thoughts

Bretonnian knights are always troublesome. Their high armor save and additional ward save mean they have a good chance to deflect even the mightiest blows. And their S3 in combats when they do not charge is still enough to kill lightly armored elves. Their great speed and formidable lance formation can be the bane of many units of regular size, even more so in the case of MSU type. But they often have quite a nice selection of heroes among regular knights and that makes things even more difficult. If you add to that trebuchets and bowmen who also can hurt small units then you can see that that match up is definitely quite tough.

Murray had a more classical approach to the army list building which means that there was a mixture of knightly units supported by reasonable number of bowmen and field trebuchets. Unfortunately I cannot remember many items his heroes carried and if I made a mistake then it is due to fading memory. I really should have written these reports quicker.

Bretonnia - Army List

Lord, Barded warhorse, heavy armor, shield, Virtue of Heroism, Dawnstone
Prophetess, Barded warhorse, Chalice of Malfleur - Lore of Life
BSB, barded warhorse, heavy armor, shield, Gromril Great Helm
Paladin, barded warhorse, heavy armor, shield, Morning Star of Fracasse, Dragonhelm
Paladin, barder warhorse, heavy armor, Enchanted Shield

9 Knights Errant, Full Command
8 Knights of the Realm, Full Command
8 Knights of the Realm, Full Command
10 Bowmen
10 Bowmen
10 Bowmen

3 Pegasus Knights, Champion

9 Grail Knights, Banner, Musician

4 knightly units and plenty of tough characters meant I was looking for a hard time to isolate these regiments. Even if I managed to do so they can prove very resilient so I needed overwhelming forces to destroy them. Pegasus knights and a lot of shooting also meant I would be limited in my maneuvers and had to deal with these threats as well.

My army list for reference:

Outcasts - Army List

Archmage, Staff of Solidity - High Magic  
 BSB, Heavy Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Dragon Helm, Reaver Bow

10 Archers, Musician
10 Archers, Musician
15 LSG, Shields, Full Command
15 LSG, Shields, Full Command

10 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Amulet of Light
9 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
, Spears

Great Eagle
Great Eagle
Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower

Deployment after vanguard moves

I didn't have appropriate representation for a collection of huts present on the battle field so I used towers instead. Murray deployed with refused flank, spreading the lances a little, I am guessing for better maneuverability. I am not sure, however, why he decided to deploy bowmen so far away. Maybe he was intimidated by my own shooter?

I spread the forces and sent cavalry on both wings for some war machines and bowmen hunting. I could choose the site so opted for the one with the real tower to protect my characters.

Murray put his general with the Knights of the Realm on the East, 3 Paladins went with reckless Errants to make sure young hotheads are obeying orders and Prophetess had her own knightly retinue for protection.

The wizards had following spells:

Prophetess - Shield of Thorns,, Throne of Vines, Flesh to Stone, Dwellers Below

Archmage - Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Courage of Aenarion, Fury of Khaine, Vaul's Unmaking

Bretonnians prayed as usual and High Elves made opening moves.

Outcasts - Turn 1
High Elves approach the enemy
Cavalry speeds up on both flanks

High Elves moved on both flanks in their usual fashion. Reavers moved fast to race past grail knights and to threaten the trebuchet. Dragon Princes followed in their path but not as fast as they didn't want to challenge grail knights yet.

On the West their companions moved fast, however, using the open plain to their advantage. The shooters aimed at knights on in the middle of the battle field and managed to find weak spots in the armor of two of them.

Bretonnia - Turn 1
The knights approach steadily
Bretonnians move at slow speed

The Knights moved slowly and grails knights moved away from the formation to block enemy light cavalry. Only Pegasus Knights used the opportunity and flew over elven elites to threaten the crew of an eagle claw.

Trebuchets and bowmen fired at the chosen targets and as a result a few White Lions on the West and some sea guards in the tower fell. Prophetess raised her on the throne and made nearby errants even more tough to prevent any more casualties due to enemy shooting.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Damn! Another blurry picture :(
High Elves move at double pace and set a quite obvious trap

Cavalry on the West and East charge. Dragon Princes easily destroy Bowmen and reform to attack trebuchet soon after. Ellyrians kill the crew of another one and decide to carry the attack against the flank of the grail knights to occupy them for a short while. But other elven regiments could use that delay to trap the lance with general.

The center of the elven line pulled back a little while the units on the Western flank started envelopment. The shooters managed to kill one more knight and the Archmage dispelled the Throne.

Bretonnia - Turn 2
The battle is more dynamic now
Crucial decisions made by Bretonnian characters

Bretonnian general, always eager to hunt wild beasts, orders his Knights to pull back so he can show them how monsters should be handled. He kills the eagle easily and lets the momentum of the charge to carry him but not far enough to escape the attention of Swordmasters and Dragon Princes.

Bretonnian heroes also urge the younglings to charge but it seems the distance was still too long. Prophetess moves away from her unit and the Knights move forward to intercept any elven infantry in front of them.

Pegasus Knights charge eagle claw but fail to wound the crew and brave elves stand their ground.

In the meantime ellyrian reavers try to fight against grail knights as equal but even though they kill one of them they lose two of their own and it is not enough to hold the line. Light cavalry has to withdrew from the battle field with grail knights in hot pursuit.

Last but not least combined effort of bowmen and trebuchet sees all but one swordmaster killed. Lonely bladelord refuses to flee the battle though.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Bretonnian lances got separated
Elves use the opportunity to hunt down the leaders of the enemy army

Swordmasters and Dragon Princes attack lone Bretonnian general and White Lions rushed forward to block the knights from aiding their lord. His armor and lady's blessing see him almost unharmed even when his Dawnstone amulet broke due to High Elven magic. He didn't flee either as suits the general who leads by example.

The Prophetess had much less luck and keen eyes of elven Archers aimed true. Many arrows struck her and she died with a prayer to the lady on her lips.

Dragon Princes destroyed the trebuchet but didn't manage to catch bowmen just yet. Eagle claw crew held again despite all odds.

Sea Guard attacked the knights approaching them but could not penetrate their armor and when lost two of their own warriors their nerve broke and they didn't manage to hold the enemy in place. A pity as Lions were coming to the rescue. Their companion from the tower, however, shot down two of the knights from the enemy generals retinue.

Bretonnia - Turn 3
Without a general and prophetess it was up to paladins to lead the army
Bretonnians try to fight back

Bretonnian general retinue in desperation charge against probably the last unit in the enemy army they should attack alone. White Lions strike fast and strike hard and all but a champion dies in that ferocious regimental duel. He tries to hold but the pressure is too high and is forced to retreat. White Lions give in to their savage nature and pursue the lone survivor, catching him shortly after.

Grail Knights come back to the battle field only to bear witness to the fall of their general. This time his armor and lady's blessing is not enough to deflect precise Swordmaster's blows. Both elven units reform to face a new threat.

Pegasus Knights finally defeat the stubborn crew (Edit: I managed to kill one Pegasus Knight but it was done over the course of 3 rounds of combat, I simply cannot remember at which stage these wounds were inflicted.)

Bretonnian heroes kill the second eagle, while knights of the realm move to the rear of the archers. Bretonnian bowmen manage to pick lone bladelord and he shares the grim fate of his unit.

Outcasts - Turn 4
Archers failed to break through
High Elves keep attacking

High Elves gained an advantage but the battle was far from over. Dragon Princes on the North proceeded in destroying the enemy shooters. Their companions on the East decided they will show puny humans how the real heavy cavalry charges and attack grail knights. In the clash between the best of the best among cavalry Elves this time gained upper hand and even legendary grail knights could not hold against such an attack. The survivors fled from the battle in disgrace with caledorians pursuing them mercilessly.

Archers attacked in desperation and were punished for their recklessness. Pegasus Knights seemed to be tired however, as they failed to catch the fleeing elves.

Bretonnia - Turn 4
Bretonnian heroes form the unit of their own
Despite heavy losses Bretonnians keep fighting

Knights of the Realm attack the archers who flee through Pegasus Knights ranks. Paladins move out of the regiment of Errants and form a small unit of their own while young knight turn around to face a new target. Will they have a chance to turn the tide?

Outcasts - Turn 5
View from the tower
Shooters and magic take over

As many regiments were too far away to attack again it was up to the remaining shooters and magic to hurt the Bretonnians again. The combined efforts saw 3 more errants dead and only 3 of the mighty unit were left.

Bretonnia - Turn 5
Reckless charge by errant knights
Paladins spread to trap the Archers

Errant Knights, now without guidance of more experienced paladins, fail to restrain themselves and charge in. They even win the combat but stubborn Lions do not break.

Paladins spread in order to cover as much space and to catch the archers.

Outcasts - Turn 6
Last charges by High Elves

Dragon Princes destroy the last unit of bowmen while White Lions this time give no chance to errant knights and kill them all. The Archmage destroys magical helmet of enemy bsb but despite that all the arrows are not enough to kill him.

Bretonnia - Turn 6
Last attacks of Bretonninas knights

Bretonnian paladins charge the archers who attempt to flee but are not fast enough. (Edit: I can't remember which paladin charged first but he caught the archers so the other two would have failed charge but it looks better with 3 of them attacking at once :))

The knights on the South charge the second unit of archers and defeat them too. However, it is not enough to change the fact that Bretonnian army was defeated by High Elves this time.

After-battle thoughts

First of all I would like Murray for a great game. It was a great pleasure to play against beautifully painted army. The game itself was great too as we had absolutely no problems during it and we managed to agree quickly on situations that required some discussion. Thanks Murray!  

I was very glad to secure another victory and against Bretonnians who are always a tough nut to crack. According to the tournament rules I got 15-5 win from that game which was a great result for me.

I would like to highlight some things which either could have been done better or helped me to achieve the victory.

1. Deployment - this is probably the part which appears the most often in my comments after the games and no surprises why. It is a crucial part and if I screw it up then the game is hard. I left weak center and didn't use the dense terrain on the West to my advantage. I also left Eagle Claw exposed and it was only pure luck that it held for three turns of combat. I think I would be better with Lions in the position of middle sea guard and Swordmasters closer to the center. Sea guard could be near them too so that, whatever was required, they would aid combat troops or engage bowmen in shooting duel. It even might be worthy to put BSB there but this is just a thought.

2. Shooting and Magic - usually these phases of the game are not as significant against Bretonnia. S3 struggles to penetrate the armor and High Magic does not have high strength spells to threaten the knights directly. But I am still glad that I dropped a few knights with bows and magic as it helped to win against these units later. Each attack less and each rank less is always worthy gain for me. Having said that I would prefer to shoot his bowmen or as that would limit the shots he was directing against my elites, such as Swordmasters. Of course it was nice to switch off some items although it does not seem as crucial as I hoped for.

3. Ellyrians - I had an option in the early game to charge trebuchet and either reform or overrun. It seemed that I was in a bad position anyway. The exchange of light cavalry for trebuchet was worthy for sure but since I could not save them I chose to try and do some damage. To my surprise Murray decided to pursue out of the table which was probably a mistake as he could not help his general later. I would charge him with Dragon Princes if he stayed (since the fight between grail knights and ellyrians was in his turn) but that would not guarantee my success on that flank.

4. Dragon Princes - I admit I was lucky to kill 3 knights on the charge and win the combat. Breaking them in such circumstances was also lucky but I didn't expect that to happen. I simply decided it is better to charge than to be charged and inflict some casualties. If I lost next turn I would have Swordmasters and Lions nearby to counter grail knights and finish them. Of course that would mean achieving the goal with more casualties.

5. Sea guard - I thought I have a good chance of holding 6 knights in place but to achieve that I needed to kill 1 to break their steadfast and get rid of their rank. Instead I lost combat and fled. I believe it was a consequence of my poor deployment on that flank.

6. Bretonnian General - I didn't expect Murray to charge with him alone. After the game we had a discussion about this moment and he said that he was sure I would have fled and in that case he could ride past my troops. He also thought he would be safe with overrun but his roll of 8 was still a little too short. I think he would have done better by pulling back and shooting the eagle with his bowmen.

7. Prophetess - Murray told me that he was concerned by the fact he lost some knights from her retinue and as the combat was inevitable he also thought she might be vulnerable, in particular if Lions made it to the rear. We both haven't noticed the option for archers next turn as we were discussing the line of sight from the tower and it seemed like she might be safe behind the cottage. Fortunately for me I spotted the option during my movement phase and was also lucky enough to inflict appropriate number of wounds which Murray was unable to save. Losing his both most valuable characters put him in a very tough spot and gave me much larger margin of victory.

8. Paladins - I think Murray could spread them among the lances more evenly and then use them individually. I think he was simply concerned with my shooting, in particular with BSB's reaver bow as bolt thrower was already out of action. I still think it would have been better option and if he was more aggressive in his approach too he might have destroyed a few of my own units before I managed to organize counters (if at all). On the other hand I think I could have done better in last 2 turns with Swordmasters and Dragon Princes on the East. Instead of trying to move lions to get back to combat (I failed swift reform test) I would have been better with them turning around and attacking bowmen. I could approach Swordmasters and Dragon Princes towards paladins and tempt them to charge my regiments, especially if I cast stubborn spell I had. Swordmasters alone could do some damage (even more so if I managed to switch some items as I did in the game) and could be supported by Dragon Princes.

9. Bretonnian deployment - I think Murray made a mistake with his shooters. He spread them wide and kept them in the back where they could not contribute well enough. He should have positioned bowmen either together on the West and shoot as long as he could or simply position them in between the lances. He could have even used them as redirectors or blockers. Trebuchets could stay at the rear so that there would be no easy access to them and he could shoot for longer. Another important thing that Murray didn't do was to focus his fire and with better deployment that could have been done.

In general I think Murray's mistakes were due to no prior experience against MSU army and probably not that much against High Elves either.
Tournament Summary

It was my first tournament organized in Good Games in Canberra and it was a great opportunity to meet new players as well as catch up with a few I have already met before. It seems there are 3 groups of players in Canberra, those who attend the event in the South, those who go for the tournaments organized in the North, and some who try to attend both :) I certainly hope all of them will join the ranks of the last group!

Once again I would like to thank Dave(s) as this was the second tournament they organized and I really liked how it worked. The games were run smoothly, there were no problems with results and pairs were decided quickly too. The tables and terrains were great too, in particular that extra space for anything that was not taking part in the game anymore was very handy.

Well done guys and good luck with CanCon!  

I had 5 fantastic games against a great selection of armies. So big thank you to my opponents one more time! :)

I was very happy to win 4 games and get 1 draw as it has never happened to me before that I haven't lost a single game during a tournament and I remember many where I lost more than I won. It was great achievement for me even for a small tournament. When the results were announced I was surprised twice.

First, when I got the award for best painted army as it is a constant work in progress. But I am very happy that Dave(s) liked the effects I obtained after many hours of painting units to fit new color scheme and slow replacement of older models seemed to work! :)

Second, when they announced that I actually won the tournament!!!!! Honestly, I didn't expect that as my wins usually were not by such a large margin. However, according to Dave the tournament was quite even in terms of results and it was rare occasion when somebody lost 20-0 if that happened at all. When I checked the exact results I was happy to see that in terms of battle points alone I was 3rd but thanks to the comp scores included in overall ranking I managed to get 1st place for the first time!

I have a few general observations too which I would like to share with you:

1. I am fully aware that many times I won in a great part due to my opponents mistakes. It was often the result of no prior experience against MSU armies. Despite that the wins were never easy and I made mistakes on my own which could be fatal too.

2. I need to be more careful with the deployment. I put my shooters in the center too often an create weak spots which can be exploited. I need to get some new ideas how to do it right so that I can use the shooters to their maximum effect but do not limit movement options either.

3. Seer Stuff - great item. Although I had only one miscast I also was willing to risk rolling more dice for spells in the early stages so at least I could draw dispel dice or force burning dispel scrolls. The option of rolling 6 dice and actually aiming for Irresistible Force for that one crucial spell is very good one. I like the fact I can be more aggressive with spell casting now.

4. Eagle Claw - I must admit I like the addition and having more options due to its higher strength and long range. I only wish the tournaments are for 2500 so that I can still have my 2 units of reavers. If only Sea Guard was 1 point cheaper I could almost fit in some bows on them too! :) But in general it is a great machine. Although alone it can pose some problems to the enemy and they might decide to put too much of an attention to destroy it. And even if they do it is acceptable. Not to mention the glorious moments when Eagle Claw had a chance to hunt down enemy general.

5. MSU and big wins - I was under the impression I cannot win big with this army as I need to often sacrifice units and sometimes the games do not last long enough to rip the benefits to the full. But this tournaments showed that it is still possible. It might not be often but the opportunity is there. Especially with a little bit more luck in hunting down enemy generals :)

Thanks for reading!

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