Monday 20 October 2014

Game 47 - Skaven - 2012/12/29


Christmas break can or can't be a good period for some more games, depending how busy you are with family duties. Fortunately for me wardancer is always happy to be a sparring partner and we played game 2 of my preparation battles to upcoming CanCon. This time it was Battle for the Pass in the very same way as it is described in the Rule Book.

Wardancer used his slightly modified Skaven list he played with in our 2 previous encounters. Queek didn't want to give up and was eager to get his revenge.

Army lists and pre-battle considerations

It is always quite interesting to play against the same army and the same opponent with the same force. Previous tricks might not work and since the enemy learns quick too I need to come up with more ideas. At the same time the knowledge of the army to play against gained in previous battles helps too.

On top of that there is a scenario that often adds enough variety to change the outcome of the game enough to make it a completely new challenge.

Skaven - Army List

Queek the Headtaker
Warlord on bonebreaker, poison, halberd, Charmed shield , Dragonbane gem, Potion of foolhardiness 

Warlock, level 2, condenser, Ironcurse icon - Lore of Ruin
Warlock, level 1, Dispel scroll - Lore of Ruin
Warlock, level 1, Channeling staff - Lore of Ruin
BSB , Enchanted shield

30 Stormvermin (queek bodyguard), FC, shields, Banner of discipline
2 x 5 Giant rats with packmaster
40 Slaves with musician and pawleader
20 slaves with musician
20 slaves with musician

7 Rat ogres, 2 packmasters, Skweel gnawtooth
2 x 6 Gutterrunners with slings and poison

Warplightning cannon
2 x Doomwheel
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

In previous games I was lucky that potent skaven magic didn't do as much damage as it could have. Especially in combination with equally potent shooting. Target priorities stayed the same. Kill the cannon and doomwheels as quickly as possible. Shoot down small support units and divide two dangerous combat regiments in order to engage them.

Battle for the Pass introduces two additional factors I had to take into account. Narrower battle field meant less room for outflanking maneuvers. Deeper deployment meant I had to either sit back or deploy deep to prevent Gutter Runners to sneak behind my back too early. Even then they might have more places to show up and their poisonous shooting is simply too dangerous to ignore.

In the end I decided to use the mixture of both. Deploy deep to secure the rear and deploy strong units on flanks so I can attack the enemy as soon as possible while more fragile units would stay a little further thus buying me some time. Another reason for reinforcing flanks was that I suspected to meet doomwheels there and as you are going to see below, I was not mistaken :)

Deployment of both armies after vanguard move (Reavers)

Gutter Runners were kept in the ambush as usual. A lone warlock, who knew only warpgale spell, was left behind and "guarded" the empty farm. Warlord on bonebreaker and skweel led the mutant rat ogres. Queek as always was accompanied by his stalwart super stormvermin and his retinue was joined by bsb and another warlock. Third of the mad skaven scientists led some slaves into battle.

On the other side of the valley Elven characters joined their respective units. The Archmage observed the battlefield from the top floor of the building and BSB joined one of the archers regiments.

Respective wizards had following spells:

Engineer level 2 - Warplightning, Scorch
Engineer level 1 - Warplightning
Engineer level 1 - Warpgale

Archmage - Drain Magic, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Fury of Khaine, Flames of the Phoenix
Skaven won the roll off for the first turn and hurried towards elven lines.

Skaven - Turn 1
Skaven army does not waste time and moves towards elven force at a double.

Queek squeaked the order and the rats obeyed. All went well at the beginning, even engineers in their doomwheels managed to learn which button was for what and didn't fry any nearby slaves. Encouraged by that the warlocks tried to summon the power of their corrupted magic. However, even with their crazy devices, they could not harness the winds of magic well enough and whatever they finally managed to cast was dispelled by the elven archmage.

Finally, the crew of the warplightning cannon wanted to impress their general and show other misguided fools how to properly operate the war machine. Instead, they heavily overloaded the warp-plasma chamber and it all exploded in a very impressive but deadly green fire.

Outcasts - Turn 1
High elves form single battle line.

Dragon Princes tried a very long charge against one of the Doomwheels but as the attack would lead uphill they slowed down. Ellyrians found the gap in the enemy lines and raced forward to harass the rats from the rear.

Archmage decided to show how the magic should be wielded. As a warm-up he cast some magic missiles against giant rats but some of them were quick enough to avoid the fiery death. Then, with the use of his potent stuff, he cast the curse at now lonely warlord. The warlocks were unable to interfere with that irresistible force. Shortly after all the missiles were attracted as to a giant magnet. Magic shield saved the warlord from the single bolt from eagle claw but was not enough against the multitudes of arrows and soon huge monster and its master lied dead looking like a hedgehog. Elven archers cheered up when the brute finally collapsed.

Skaven - Turn 2
Skaven do not slow down.

With majority of the enemy units out of the charge range, Skaven army kept marching forward at the same pace. One of the Gutter Runners packs emerged on the Northern hills and targeted Ellyrians. They lost two riders and were forced to pull back to avoid further casualties.

The warlocks tried to redeem themselves but one of them wounded himself while trying to cast the warplightning. The second one did well though and picked one of the great eagles, striking it down from the skies. Nearby eagle claw crew was visibly shaken by the death of the noble bird of prey and pulled back a little deeper into the forest.

Outcasts - Turn 2
High Elves attack on both flanks

High Elves seized the opportunity and units charged in. On the North White Lions attacked the Doom Wheel and their heavy axes damaged it badly. Skaven engineer pulled back as hard as he could and made it only just (Edit: Skaven special rule of adding 1 extra inch to the flee distance was the difference between life and dead here :)). Nearby Dragon Princes, taking the advantage of dispersed formation of the Slaves in the forest, attacked ferociously, avoided treacherous branches with great skill and destroyed their miserable foe.

On the South another heavy cavalry unit rode over interposing giant rats and hit the Slaves behind them. Also Swordmasters made a contact with the Doom Wheel but the engineer released the evil magic bound to the infernal device and even elite warriors of Hoeth were unnerved. The machine was too solid even for their great swords but they kept fighting despite the loss of 3 of their numbers.

Fleeing ellyrians didn't manage to rally their horses and kept racing away from the Gutter Runners (Edit: who said musicians are not worthy taking? :))

One of the engineers decided to leave his filthy bodyguards and try to gain some glory and renown in the eyes of the mighty Queek by casting another warplightning at these pesky light horse. But then his sixth sense, honed in the tunnels of Skavenblight, warned him. He turned his head and spotted a movement on the hill. There could be no mistake, human-elfs were about to release a volley of deadly arrows. "Quick-fast!" he urged one of the Slaves nearby. "Hold this!" and planted his magic staff at the paw of confused ratmen. "Now jump up-up and squeak-shout at human-elfs!" he ordered. Somehow it did work and misguided fool was hit by the arrow that was aimed at the warlock himself. "Good-good, now hurry-scurry before it goes too messy" thought the warlock and disappeared in the nearby bushes ...

Skaven - Turn 3
The battle at the flanks continues.

Queek stopped his advance, knowing all too well what can happen if he marches with his flanks exposed. The engineer on the North kept steering his doomwheel away from the White Lions all according to the ancient tactical manual written by the Eshin strategist who lived in the land some called Cathay. Squeak-Tzu said that "he who runs today lives to fight tomorrow" and the engineer was more than happy to agree with the wise words.

On the South another engineer kept grinding down Swordmasters who remained under the spell that kept them terrified of the huge and deadly machine. Only their Bladelord managed to finally find a single weak spot and did some damage.

Nearby Slaves, kept holding the Dragon Princes despite heavy losses, surely thanks to promises of the much more deadly end of their unworthy lies if they broke from combat.

Another unit of Gutter Runners emerged behind elven lines but they were not as precise in their shooting as the first unit and killed only a single archer. Last but not least, the engineer in the personal retinue of the mighty Queek sent his devastating lightning at another great eagle and it too was ripped apart by the evil Skaven magic.

Outcasts - Turn 3
White Lions set up the trap to hunt down Rat Ogres

On the North noble Dragon Princes decide to be a bait for Rat Ogres in order to draw them into a trap set by White Lions. The Knights were determined to put up a decent fight and take some enemies with them and then let the Lions avenge them.

On the South situation became very dangerous as the Doom Wheel kept crushing Swordmasters who still could not shake off the fear that froze their limbs. They were soon all dead for their trouble and when nearby slaves held despite the pressure of the Dragon princes it looked like the Skaven won the fight for dominance on that part of the battle field. (Edit: Nothing like failing fear tests in three combat phases in the row :))

The only bright moment for High Elves was when the Archers turned about and shot at gutter runners sneaking behind them. Only 2 survived but fled as soon as they could, never to show up again. Also Rat ogres were the target of the shooting and both packmasters as well as one of the big brutes fell down. It was only Skweel left to direct them towards the enemy.

Skaven - Turn 4
Skaven break through!

Rat Ogres finally could be unleashed and noble Dragon Princes held to meet the charge. They fought valiantly, wounded Skweel and killed one rat ogre but remaining ones tore through the armor as if it was made from paper. What is more their rage kept them running towards some imaginary foe and that saved them from the falling into a trap. (Edit: Wardancer rolled double 6 for overrun distance and it turned out that I made a mistake and didn't position Lions accordingly. So Rat Ogres killed my DP's and were out of sight of the Lions!)

On the South, now free Doom Wheel charged the flank of the elven knights and butchered them without slowing down much. Seeing this Queek ordered his regiment to move North where more dangerous foe was to be engaged.

Gutter Runners and lone warlock tried to finish off the Ellyrians but one lucky rider remained alive and he vowed to avenge his companions.

Outcasts - Turn 4
High Elves reorganize their formation

On the North White Lions were determined to catch the rat ogres anyway. In the confusion of the battle, however, the regiment closer to the building misunderstood the orders and didn't advance as fast as they were supposed to (Edit: Nothing like failed march test with Queek just behind them :)).

On the South Sea Guard chased off remnants of the small regiment of slaves. Lone Ellyrian charged careless warlock and although the lucky rat avoided the spear and hooves he didn't stay to see if he can keep avoiding the blows for longer and fled the battle. That was interpreted as an order to do likewise by nearby slaves and they sprinted towards the exit from the valley.

Elven Shooters tried to damage the Doom Wheel and they succeeded. The machine was cracking dangerously but was still relatively intact.

Skaven - Turn 5
Deadly Doom Wheel at work

The engineer knew his machine is not going to last long so he took the only chance to break through and aimed at Swordmasters. He managed to get a proper speed and the damage he has done was enormous. Only a bladelord and a single swordmaster were left standing to protect battle standard bearer. Then the bladelord, speaking the magic words to activate the talisman of Loec, finally destroyed the infernal device. But it has done too much damage already to get any consolation from that.

The slaves run in amok and refused to stop. Queek didn't care as he tried to urge his regiment to charge the exposed Lions. However, he misjudged the distance and his attack failed.

The Doom Wheel on the North returned to the battle once more with engineer happy to shoot at the enemy and to be able to attack from the back.

Outcasts - Turn 5
High elves try to counter charge

White Lions charged Rat Ogres. But before they managed to strike a verminous tide engulfed the regiment attacking from the flank and claimed 3 Chracians. Both regiments were surprised by that turn of event but swung their axes nevertheless. (Edit: I failed fear tests for both of them ...). Skweel was finally killed and 2 rat ogres died but remaining 3 tore apart the lions and stomped some more to death. Only single warrior from the flanking unit remained while the one attacking from the front had only 4 survivors. They all held, however, knowing they are doomed.

Archers and sea guard aimed at not important targets only because they could finish them off. Eagle claw aimed at the Doom Wheel on the hill but could not wound it.

Then the Archmage jumped into the building which turned out to be a huge mistake.

Skaven - Turn 6
Skaven fight back!

Combined effort of Rat Ogres and Doom Wheel see the destruction of White Lions. Only 2 rat ogres (and wounded too!) remain. Then Queek spotted an unusual opening and directed his warriors at the building where elven Archmage joined a small unit of archers.

Archibald was in his room when some annoying noise broke his concentration. One cannot have a moment of silence it seems. How can he focus on arranging these new beautiful flowers he happened to find nearby the deserted building? Well, he will go out and tell these silly archers that they should be ashamed to disturb the peace of their Archmage and General!

What he saw on the stairs frightened him. He saw elves fighting armored rats and despite their precise strikes, there were more coming in. Then some huge rat with a gruesome trophy rack at his back jumped over warriors and started to run after Archibald.

He didn't wait and fled to his room. He even tried to barricade the door with the desk but was to slow. The door burst in splinters and Skaven emerged through them, with blades bare and eyes radiating hatred. Archibald moved back inch by inch but then he stepped on something soft lost balance and fell hard on his back hitting his head against the frame of the window. But it saved him, as it was exactly at the same time when the Rat jumped at him and missed completely. It was due to the fact that the soft pillow Archibald stepped on flew high, hit ratmen in the face blinding it for a second so that he didn't stop and jumped out of the window.

As much as Archie was happy to find himself alive and a little dizzy because of the hit on his head, he was a little sad he lost his favorite pillow with nice picture and sign made especially for him by his favorite students. It said "Hello Kitty!". Yes, Archie will tell his companions that it was his master illusion spell of a giant tiger that scared the cowardly leader of the ratmen and that he, the natural born hero, saved the day! 

(Edit: I was very lucky not to lose the Archmage. Wardancer was very kind to roll four 1's out of six attacks for his to hit rolls. And then he wounded only once :)).

On the North valiant White Lions killed yet another Rat Ogre (so only 2 remained now) before they all perished. Gutter Runners tried to kill the eagle claw but their aim was obscured by the trees and one crewman remained alive.

One of the regiments of the Sea Guard was the target of the Scorch spell but despite losing 5 warriors, the survivors didn't panic (Edit: Apologies for not showing it on a diagram.)

Outcasts - Turn 6
High Elves try to harm Skaven with magic and shooting

Elves were very lucky not to lose their general and it was their chance to pay back. Archmage summoned the flames of the phoenix but the Stormvermin were too numerous to panic even after taking many casualties. Gutter Runners, however, fled after they were burned with magic missiles.

Then the eagle claw and bsb aimed at rat ogres but could not inflict enough wounds to kill them all as one of the mutant rats, wounded badly, still stood.

With that last act the armies separated as both forces were bloodied. This time, however, it was Skaven who could claim a very narrow victory.

After-battle thoughts

When we calculated points it turned out Wardancer won the game by around 150 points which gave him 11-9 victory. Considering the blunder with Archmage in the building I am very happy it was not far worse.

We both made mistakes and we both had our moments of luck/bad luck. I hope wardancer will add his comments so I am not going to point out his mistakes (at least in my opinion). He definitely played a better and more solid game than before. I think the scenario was slightly better for his army as he had secured flanks and this time he used doom wheels to great effect. Only one perished and they claimed majority of my elite units. I was very lucky that his magic was not that dangerous, however, as he could not roll well on winds of magic and his channeling rolls were equally unlucky.

As to my own performance I was in general happy with a few exceptions.

1. I didn't measure properly how far Rat Ogres can overrun and when wardancer rolled double 6 I noticed my lions can't see them. The consequence was that I lost a turn to catch them and still could not kill them. They might have lost many wounds but they were more than capable to inflict damage despite that. Hence it was so important to set up a trap where I could charge them from the flanks. I also need to mention here that wardancer simply failed a re-rollable Ld test on 9 (?) to restrain them and this is the reason they actually charged dragon princes.

2. I thought I checked line of sight properly and was sure Stormvermin do not see the building. What I should have done was to discuss it with wardancer and make sure. I really thought I lost badly at this moment and only by the fickle nature of UB dice I was saved from a disaster.

3. I had a chance to fight back in the last turn but I spread the magical and shooting attacks and in the end I could not finish rat ogres, what would give me enough points to claim a small victory instead.

Failing fear tests didn't help and I hope it is a good example when these tests do matter (unlike some players claim). I got these good charges against Doom Wheels but Swordmasters could not do a thing in 3 rounds of combat. On the other hand, bad luck in casting spells, misfire on warplightning cannon in the first round or poor performance by Queek himself, were the things that ruined plans for wardnacer too.

As always, please post your feedback and thanks for reading! :)


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