Thursday 6 November 2014

Game 54 - Wood Elves - 2013/02/06

Game 3 - Wood Elves - Meeting Engagement

In the last game of the day I had a pleasure to meet Alex and play against his beautifully painted Wood Elves. We were going to play a meeting engagement scenario, as per rulebook. It is another tricky scenario when you had to roll for regiments to see what goes to reserves. The fact that particular unit is not going to enter the battle straight away does not mean one can be in trouble. Sometimes just the contrary!

I have not faced Wood Elves since very, very long time, let alone since the beginning of 8th edition. Asrai can be a tough match up, in particular due to their shooting superiority but also due to their excellent maneuverability. Alex had a following, very unique (at least in my opinion) army list:

Wood Elves - Army List

Spellweaver, Level 4, Moonstone of Hidden Ways - Lore of Beast
Spellweaver, Level 3, Dispel Scroll - Lore of Beast
BSB, Great Eagle, Hail of Doom Arrow, Dragon Helm (?)
Wardancer Hero, Blades of Loec
Branchwraith, Level 1

10 Glade Guards
10 Glade Guards
16 Glade Guards
, Banner of Eternal Flame
8 Dryads
8 Dryads
5 Wild Riders
5 Wild Riders
10 Wardancers
10 Wardancers
Great Eagle
Great Eagle

Fortunately for me not that much shooting but still considerable amount of archers to be able to destroy my fragile units if they concentrated their fire on one. I was intrigued by the presence of many characters. Two spellweavers could be a tough challenge for my lonely archmage and I was prepared to let many spells through. Many immune to psychology units gave Alex confidence they will not flee. I was glad one of my Swordmasters unit had magical attacks as they would be very helpful against dryads (with their I6 I could not re-roll my attacks) as well as against Wild Riders. On the other hand, even against elite Wardancers units such as sea guard had good chance to inflict damage thanks to ASF. I definitely wanted to use my own shooting to inflict some damage but target priority would depend on the deployment. Usually I try to eliminate fast units of the enemy first and I decided that wild riders and eagles would be my main targets. I also wanted to send at least one unit of Dragon Princes against bigger unit of Glade Guards since they had the Banner of Eternal Flame that gave me an edge against them and a chance to at least stop them from shooting.

Alex won the roll-off and he deployed his army first. As it turned out many of his units were in reserves.


A very blurry deployment picture :(
Wood Elves secure defensive perimeter using the river as natural barrier

Many regiment of the Wood Elf army were kept in reserves. Wild Riders, Wardancers with their leader and both Dryad groups were to enter the battle at the later stage. 3 regiments of the High Elves also were kept as a second wave, i.e. Archers, Swordmasters and Dragon Princes.

Wood Elves deployed in the corner and in the building, awaiting inevitable advance of the High Elves. They tried to steal the initiative but Wood Elves didn't let that happen.

Respective wizards had following spells:

Spellweaver, Level 4 - Wild Form, Impenetrable Pelt, The Curse of Anraheir, The Savage Beasts of Horrors
Spellweaver, Level 3 - Wild Form, Flock of Doom, The Amber Spear
Archmage - Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Courage of Aenarion, Fury of Khaine, Vaul's Unmaking

Wood Elves - Turn 1
Wood Elves wait

Reinforcements do not arrive yet

Wood Elves had no reason to abandon their good defensive positions and simply tried to harm High Elves from the distance. However, a lot of units were still out of range. Spellweavers cursed the crew of the Eagle Claw to make them less efficient with their powerful war machine.

Outcasts - Turn 1
HE reinforcements arrive!
High Elves move forward but keep safe distance from the Northern edge

High Elves advance as soon as the reinforcements arrive. Three HE regiments showed up on the other side of the river, ready to put pressure on the defenders. As soon as HE units got into range they opened fire. Archers and HE BSB aimed at Wild riders and only a single member of the unit remained standing. Other shooters managed to harm Northern Glade Guard. Young Asrai archers panicked seeing their companions dead and fled the battle.

Wood Elves - Turn 2
Wood Elf reserves start joining the battle
The power of Hail of Doom Arrows

Both groups of Dryads entered the battle field from North East facing the rear of the HE formation. The rest of the regiments didn't advance though, knowing well that there is no need to get too close to more numerous enemy. Only BSB flew his eagle to a position where he could unleash the Hail of Doom Arrows. Whole unit of Archers was destroyed in an instant and unnatural whistle of the magical arrows spooked the horses of nearby Dragon Princes. The Knights had to use all their skills to stay in saddles, controlling their mounts was at this point out of question. What was worse, the horses galloped towards the Swordmasters and they too had to break formation to avoid being trampled under the hooves of heavy cavalry. As a result High Elves had to abandon the South-Western flank entirely. (Edit: Nothing like rolling 11 twice in a row for panic check :))

Outcasts - Turn 2
Alex is carefully planning his next move
High Elves focus on the enemy reserves

Losing their own reserves in a blink of an eye was quite shocking but disciplined High Elves maintained the formation and swiftly reformed to face new but isolated threat. Only BSB and his sea guard moved forward to shoot at the last wild rider and nearby white lions entered the current of the river, finding shallow water to cross it.

Dragon princes spurred their horses and charged through the water as well but glade guards anticipated that attack and withdrew in good order.

Wood Elves - Turn 3
Wild Riders join the battle!
Dryads pull back

Dryads pull back to buy more time for the defenders and Wild Riders join the fight to add to the confusion of the HE force. One of the eagles blocks the advance of HE heavy cavalry and spellweavers curse the knights as well. Keeping HE on the other side of the rivers seems to work.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Eagles and elite infantry block Dryads
The rest of the army shoots

Eagles swoop down to block Dryads and keep them in the corner so that advancing Swordmasters and Lions could catch them. Sea guard, archers and Eagle Claw aim at Wild Riders and again only a single survivor remains on the field of battle.

On the other side bsb and his sea guard shot down one of the enemy eagles, blocking the advance of heavy cavalry while white lions continue their passage through the river.

Wood Elves - Turn 4
Last regiment of Wood Elves arrives
Dryad attack in desperation

Wardancers reinforce the main part of the army and position themselves between speallweavers and HE heavy cavalry.

In the meantime Dryads attack as it is the only option left. The eagle retreats and in doing so disrupts the formation of nearby White Lions who also have to withdraw to regroup. Only Swordmasters are ready but warrior-scholars give no chance to forest spirits and dryads are utterly destroyed. (Edit: It was peculiar situation. I fled the eagle which panicked the Lions (despite re-rollable Ld test due to Gleaming Pennant). They had to flee from the nearest enemy - Wild Rider - towards second unit of dryads who charged them. They had to flee again and luckily fled through the eagle thus escaping dryads. Phew!)

Outcasts - Turn 4
Yet another blurry picture - sorry! :(
HE finally secure "theirs" bank of the river
Swordmasters charge second unit of dryads and although this time don't destroy all of them, they inflict enough damage to force surviving forest spirits to retreat.

Archers finish the last Wild Rider and the rest of the army advances towards the main Wood Elf force. HE BSB spots lone eagle and shots it down as well.

Wood Elves - Turn 5
Wardancers move in to intercept elven cavalry
Sea Guards becomes the target for glade guard archers

Wood Elves keep defending their positions. Glade Guard archers kill many sea guards but the survivors keep advancing. Wardancers moved towards HE cavalry to intercept them. Spealweavers boost their abilities with spells to give them even better chances to repel the enemy forces.

Outcasts - Turn 5
White Lions assault the building
Cavalry tries to move through the river
White Lions finally are in charge range and assault the building. Weakened glade guards are no match for them and soon Chracians are garrisoning the house.

HE cavalry moves around wardancers with the eagle blocking the enemy. Only BSB and his depleted regiment of sea guards are in range of shooting and aim at glade guards felling a few. However, it is not enough to scare the survivors away.

Wood Elves - Turn 6
Wardancer hero charges alone!

As the unit is blocked, wardancer hero decides to charge all by his own. Surprised by such bravado and caught while crossing the river, both elven cavalry squadrons pull back rather than face such a blade master in the conditions where they cannot defend themselves properly.

Glade guards aim at their counterparts but fail to inflict enough casualties to whip out the unit and HE bsb keeps the unit together.

In the last attempt to draw the foe back, spellweaver send the flock of doom against HE eagle but in doing so she draws way too much from the pool of magic. A dimensional cascade opens in front of her but miraculously she is not dragged into the abyss. That totally destroys her weaves and the eagle is not even harmed.

Both armies realize that this is the last act of the battle. Wood Elves held long enough but it is clear that they cannot keep the position any longer. High Elves could not muster the last attack and needed to regroup to secure their foothold on the other river bank. In this situation the armies disengaged.

After-battle thoughts

It was a very interesting game despite the fact that there was not much fighting. Alex did very well in defending his positions, sending reinforcements in waves to keep my main forces occupied and in the end they were too late to even cross the river.

The hail of doom arrow kept his flank safe and released the pressure from that direction. Otherwise both Dragon Princes and Swordmasters would cause some trouble early on. My only concern is with the way Alex moved his Wild Riders in. While it was good to sacrifice relatively cheap dryads to keep my forces away, then the riders were not safe on that side of the river, with all my shooting around. But maybe I haven't noticed something. :)

Surprisingly magic did little that game. I cannot remember if it was due to the fact that the winds of magic were not strong. We definitely tried to cast spells but I cannot recall anything spectacular with the exception of the spellweaver cascading. Fortunately she didn't die but Alex told me it was his 3rd game that day when she did that. I guess Archie has a competition :)

It was also interesting for me to face faster and more maneuverable foe. I found myself responding to its movement more than dictating the flow of battle myself. Only thanks to local superiority in shooting (good I was out of range of glade guard!) I could inflict some damage at range. I could not afford to leave dryads behind me and swift reformed to catch them in the corner which worked in the end. My mistake there was to position the eagle in the way that forced the panic check. I was lucky I didn't lose that unit of Lions.

I am also wondering if I should have entered with all reserves at once as I did. On one hand, it was unlucky to fail both tests (and I had a good chance to kill all wild riders) and I wanted to put the pressure early on. On the other, I could still enter with archers only and when hail of doom arrow was spent, move my hard hitters into position. They were close enough anyway.

I must admit I was very happy with that 12-8 win in my first game against Wood Elves.

Alex is a top bloke too and it was a great pleasure to play against him! Thanks a lot, Alex!

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