Monday, 27 October 2014

Game 51 - Dark Elves - 2013/01/28


This it the report from the most recent game against GuessRange and his Dark Elves yet (To read GR's version, please, visit his blog here: Episode III - DE version

High Elves vs. Dark Elves - Episode III - Revenge of the Assassins

Guess Range was very kind to continue with our civil war as a part of my preparation for CanCon. I think it was also a good experience for him as he has never played scenarios before (8th edition that is) and I asked for Dawn Attack. This scenario can mess up with my plans both because some units might end up on the wrong flank and also because too many might be in the middle, making the deployment too crowded.

Another mystery was about GR's army list. I know he toyed with a few in between our games, one of which was led by Morathi herself but I was not sure what would be his choice. In the end he want for his trusty shooty army list with proper magical back-up.

Dark Elves - Army List

High Sorceress Melith, Level 4, Darkstar cloak, Dragon Bane Gem - Dark Magic
Sorceress Tabith, Level 2, Dispel Scroll - Death Magic
Death Hag Karena, BSB, Cauldron of Blood
Assassin Kalil, Rune of Khaine, Extra Hand Weapon
Assassin SharikRune of Khaine, Extra Hand Weapon

22 Corsairs, Full Command, Extra Hand Weapon, Sea Serpent Standard
28 Warriors, Full Command, Shields, Banner of Murder
16 Repeater Crossbowmen, Musician
5 Dark Riders, Musician, Repeater Crossbows

12 Shades, Bloodshade, Repeater Crossbows, Great Weapons
12 Shades, Bloodshade, Repeater Crossbows, Great Weapons

3 Reaper Bolt Throwers

A very strong shooting, capable to remove entire units of mine, no matter how well armored. My previous game against DE showed me the might of double Power of Darkness to swell the number of power dice even with weak winds of magic. Death magic can be a painful addition if you are on the receiving end, in particular in the situation when you end up with few dispel dice. Simply because each spell from both lore is a dangerous one and it is very hard to decide which to dispel.

Last but not least, the Shades with great weapons were going to be thorn in the side. If they deployed in the forest they would become stubborn. Their shooting is devastating so any unit charging them is going to suffer. And then, despite the fact they hit last there might still be enough of them to hurt my fragile troops, especially with eternal hatred.

The question was, how much will we suffer from random deployment.


Deployment of armies after vanguard moves

I won the roll off and picked up the Northern deployment, as the river would slow down my advance. I preferred to risk DT tests while charging rather than inability to march in the first turns.

GR ended up with Shades and Corsairs on the Western flank and Crossbowmen, Cauldron and Reaper on the Eastern flank of his army. With his small numbers such a spread deployment was an issue and he was not happy about it at all!

I had to deploy 5 units on one flank! Eagle, Sea Guard, Eagle Claw, Lions and Reavers positioned themselves on the East. Another lion regiment as well as archers deployed on the West.

Seeing separated deplyoment of my opponent I wanted to use it to my advantage. It was not easy, however, as my units were not exactly in the formation I would prefer (Like heavy cavalry on the East, elite infantry to the East as well and shooters in the middle with refused Western flank). We also had a difficult terrain (and soft cover) in the middle which would interfere with the movement. I also was deploying first so didn't know where the enemy might show up.

I still wanted to try and overwhelm DE army with my units and intended to go fast towards enemy lines. However I had to deal with Dark Riders and Shades in the forest first to stop them from slowing me down or shooting at my fragile units, thus preventing concentration of fire.

GR deployed his level 4 with spears and level 2 with Corsairs. Archmage was with Swordmasters while BSB was with Archers.

Respective wizards had following spells:

Sorceress, level 4 - Power of Darkness, Chillwind, Doombolt, Bladewind, Black Horror
Sorceress, level 2 - Power of Darkness, Caress of Laniph, Fate of Bjuna

Archmage - Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Fury of Khaine, Vaul's Unmaking

GR tried to steal the initiative with a sneaky roll of a 6 but this time it didn't happen. High Elves had the first turn!

Outcasts - Turn 1
High Elves move forward and reorganize the battle line on the march

High Elves moved forward trying to reorganize the battle line on the march. Something only well trained and disciplined army can attempt and even then it is not without risks of ending up with a huge mess among the ranks.

Being aware of the danger of the Shades in the nearby forest, Archibald the Archmage used the power of his Staff and cast powerful Fury at enemy scouts. However, the power of the spell was somewhat disappointing and only two dark elves died.

Not worrying about that the shooters of HE army aimed at Dark Riders and despite shooting while moving the arrows went true. All members of enemy light cavalry fell down. Somehow it unnerved the Shades and they fled to safety, preferring to keep the distance from the enemy.

The crew of Eagle Claw, aimed at Crossbowmen and managed to kill 2.

Dark Elves - Turn 1
The spell cast at Sea Guard was Bladewind - apologies for wrong marking

Dark Elves move towards their hated foe and unleashed their magical and shooting powers. Bladwind engulfed sea guard, with hapless Archmage watching in horror as his companions are shredded to pieces. He could not stop the powerful spell, the only consolation being that enemy sorceresses suffered from magical feedback.

To every body's surprise Shades kept fleeing and run out of the battle. DE Sorceress made a mental note to hunt down traitorous tribe of savages and give them to the witch elves. Their rivals on the West decided to use that to their advantage and impress the Sorceress in anticipation of reward. They entered the building and from the safety of it shot down all archers in a single salvo. Nearby white lions moved away from danger immediately (Edit: You gotta love failing re-rollable panic tests :))

Crews of the Reapers aimed at fast cavalry but despite their best efforts they could not kill all of them and the lone survivor refused to flee.

Outcasts - Turn 2
High Elves keep moving forward

Seeing the opportunity given by the betrayal of Shades, High Elves move towards the Eastern flank of the battle field, speeding up to catch enemy units while they are isolated. Only Dragon Princes attacked Corsairs as they spotted the enemy Sorceress among their ranks and were willing to hunt her down even at the price of their own lives.

A dark shadow emerged from the ranks of the Corsairs and brutal combat erupted. The Assassin, despite his preternatural speed, was not fast enough to save the sorceress. In his attempt to do so he was impaled on high elven lances but not before he dragged some knights with him. There was only a single survivor of the elven unit but he held his ground knowing his sacrifice is buying time for his companions.

Dark Elves - Turn 2
The power of dark magic and poisonous bolts

Dark Elves double their efforts in order to harm advancing enemy and break their fast approach. Shades on West aim at another archers unit but despite killing 6 of them the rest holds firm.

HE Archmage managed to prevent only Black Horror from being cast but sneaky DE Sorceress drunk deeply from the dark magic and cast many other spells hurting Elven units badly.

Then reaper crews and crossbowmen chose some targets for their bolts. As a result an eagle was shot down and many sea guards fell as well. Dragon Princes were a little bit eager to close with the enemy and exposed their flank but fortunately for them only a single knight fell pierced by a single reaper bolt.

The casualties were huge but High Elves kept going forward.

Outcasts - Turn 3
High Elves decide on a gamble that didn't quite work

Following the example of their companions Dragon Princes charge Spearmen block, aiming at enemy Sorceress-general. Unfortunately traitorous current claims 2 knights before they hit the enemy. Again, an assassin bodyguard jumps out and that distraction saved the Sorceress who was wounded only once. Brave elves pay the highest price for that daring attack.

On the East an eagle swoops down on the reaper crew and slays it down before White Lions reach the combat.

Finally, Archmage aims at one of the reapers with his magic missile but wounds it only once. Even eagle claw crew could not finish the accursed war machine off. (Edit: That was a little unlucky as I got only a single 6 from 10 hits from the Fury of Khaine and then I also failed to get any in the shooting phase). Magical feedback wounds him as a result too.

It was a gamble for High Elves and since both the Sorceress and Reaper were still intact, they were about to enact vengeance on the hated Asur.

Dark Elves - Turn 3
High Elves forces melt away very quickly

Only Corsairs charge their foe and few brave archers are butchered with frenzied Dark Elves overrunning past other Elven regiments. Shades aim at another target and 6 lions die but the survivors refuse to flee (Edit: I forgot to move them the previous turn )

Then DE Sorceress, furious that HE are so daring and that her bodyguard was late to keep her from harm, unleashes her powers. Bladewind claims a few Swordmasters but also wounds the Archmage. That fit, however, removes 2 spells from her memory for the time being. The Archmage dispels incoming doombolt but he is unable to do so against black horror. That spell claims another wound from the Archmage who falls down dead. Only 2 Swordmasters survive that onslaught.

Reaper crews aim at sea guards and kill some more warriors. High Elves still refuse to flee.

Outcasts - Turn 4
Few survivors attack to avenge the Archmage and fallen companions

Despite horrendous casualties and a loss of the Archmage High Elves do not stop their advance. Swordmasters and Sea Guard charge the spearmen but bigger regiment led by the elven BSB cannot reach the target. Swordmasters deal the final wound to the Sorceress but they all die soon after.

In the meantime victorious eagle charges another reaper together with sea guards and they wipe out another war machine crew. Eagle claw finally aims true and last reaper is destroyed.

Last but not least, White Lions engage crossbowmen in mortal combat. For the time being Lions manage to kill more than they suffer casualties but their dark kindred refuses to give ground.

Dark Elves - Turn 4
Without magic and limited shooting DE move to engage HE in close combat

Shades keep eliminating HE units with high precision and great efficiency. Corsairs move to attack Swordmasters from the rear. Spearmen do not charge Swordmasters, not wanting to risk losing lives in treacherous current of the river.

The combat between Crossbowmen and White Lions continues and again, despite suffering more casualties, Crossbowmen hold.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Few remaining units on both sides do not withdraw from combat yet

Swordmasters turn around to face new threat and eagle claw crew as well as BSB shoot down some corsairs before inevitable combat. In the meantime, great eagle blocks spearmen from joining that fight.

On the East White Lions finally break crossbowmen but do not pursuit beaten enemy and reform to face new target - the Cauldron.

Dark Elves - Turn 5
Frenzied corsairs cannot restrain themselves

Corsairs, enraged by the magic of their banner, forget the orders and charge swordmasters. Vicious combat sees huge casualties on both sides and elven bsb dies too. Still no side can claim victory and combat continues.

Shades move out of the building and aim at the eagle but cannot kill the noble bird.

Outcasts - Turn 6
Reckless charge of elven troops

Swordmasters were locked in combat against Corsairs and again no side could claim the win.

Sea guard and lone reaver decided to charge the cauldron. Maybe it was the influence of the cursed altar or maybe they were blinded by rage at the loss of so many of their companions but it was still a reckless attack that claimed their lives in the end. Unfortunately White Lions were too late to help.

Dark Elves - Turn 6
Failed attempts to charge by DE

Shades and Spearmen finally decided to charge Swordmasters but both units did it in a lazy fashion and didn't reach combat in the end. That gave Swordmasters time to finish the Corsairs.

Both armies were heavily bloodied and withdrew from the battle field with Dark Elves claiming a very narrow victory.

After-battle thoughts

That was a properly bloody game, with both of us losing around 2000 points. In the end GR claimed 11-9 victory. There were a lot of dramatic situations and although GR thought he is doomed due to spread out deployment and some bad luck at the beginning, his powerful magic and shooting were devastating.

There are a lot of things I would like to comment on so I decided to go in turn order to do so:

Deployment - I think we both suffered from random deployment but I would not deny it did help me a lot that GR had his forces spread. Also, having turn 1 for a change was a good thing too.

Turn 1 - I didn't want to go forward at full speed as I needed to shoot down his Dark Riders. Unfortunately, the fury of khaine claimed only 2 shades but they still panicked. Otherwise they would do a lot of damage to my units.

One thing I would do differently is shooting at reapers with eagle claw from the start. Another is to move archers and lions towards the building so that I could threaten shades there. I could not escape them so at least I would be able to fight them a little. Of course if I didn't fail that panic test.

Turn 2 - I really like the potential of Dragon Princes to do wizard hunting. I was happy to sacrifice them to get that sorceress alone as her spells were very dangerous. Especially considering the fact that both of them could generate a lot of power dice. Getting the assassin was a bonus.

Exposing the flank of DP to the reaper was a mistake and I really need to pay attention to such details.

Turn 3 - I think I made a right call with charging DP's against Spearmen but a little more luck was required to get that Srceress. I was hitting on 3+ with re-roll and still got only one hit. With 2 hits and S5 I had very good odds to kill her. Alas it was not to be.

The same goes with Fury of Khaine. I risked it and rolled 4 dice and got IF. That single wound meant I lost archmage later on but even though not getting 2 6's from 10 hits plus 6 shots from the eagle claw was a little disappointing.

These two things cost me badly next turn as shooting and magic was again devastating. Even if GR didn't focus the power of shooting on fast elements. He killed one eagle but I would kill reaver too. Sea guard were not a problem just yet.

It is also possible that shooting at Lions would have been better despite their armor save. They were closer so the shooting would have been on short range.

His spearmen should also be moving backwards, probably from turn 2, to keep the distance but to be in range for spells (unless I am mistaken and that would prevent casting of some).

Then I lost the Archmage. I am still not sure if I did the right thing. Basically, after IF with Bladewind we had 6 dice all to use. GR then cast doombolt and I dispelled that. Black horror followed and GR got 14 in total so I needed 9+ on 3 dice to get rid of that but rolled low. I think I should have let doombolt in and dispel black horror with all dice.

But that would lead to peculiar situation where I would not risk charging with Archmage and swordmasters against Spears as I would die there anyway. Even the charge with BSB and his unit was very risky as the assassin could have claimed him.

I also made a mistake with positioning of the reaver. I Should have faced West so that when he was ignored by crossbowmen he could charge reaper too.

Turn 4 - I was very glad with the outcome of turn 4 as I made some long charges with sea guard and eagle and killed both war machines. First game I got them at all!

Killing the Sorceress was a good pay back too.

Turn 5 - I thought I will lose my Swordmasters to Shades but I still should have reformed better. Basically, I left my BSB exposed to the attacks of 2 corsairs in base-to-base contact. I got 2 wounds and was unlucky not to save a single one. Even then I would be exposed next round of combat (although corsairs would have lost then). I could have reformed in a longer formation with bsb touching only 1 corsair, decreasing the number of possible attacks directed at him by half.

Turn 6 - And this is when I lost the game, with a chance to lose it by even greater margin. The eagle should have been moved to block the shades, reaver to block the spearmen and even lions should have not risked that charge. I had 6 attacks against war machine only, no re-rolls to hit, 4+ ward against any attacks and quite a few attacks back.

Completely unnecessary risk and only some bad luck on GR part not to reach that combat and getting more points for killed Swordmasters.

In the end I was very happy with the outcome anyway and I am glad that initial despair of GR didn't prove right and no disaster occurred. It was great game and very fitting the theme of a bloody civil war.

Thanks for reading!

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