Saturday 22 November 2014

Game 59 - Empire - 2013/02/28

Game 8 - Empire - Battle Line

In the last game of the tournament I faced Simon and his Gobo-like-Empire army. Long time ago I admired his Gobotonnia and this army was another version of it. All units were modeled as Goblins in blue and red colors. Awesome idea and excellent execution! I must admit that playing against such an army is an experience in its own!

What is more Simon was no stranger to me as we played against each other a few months before during Hammer of Dave tournament. Back then Simon had Dark Elf army and was caught by surprise. So we had a great opportunity for a re-match!

Simon brought the newest fashion in terms of the Empire army list composition and that meant ... 1+ armor almost everywhere :) (My sincere apologies for lack of details on magic items :()

Empire - Army List

Grand Master, Runefang, Crown of Command
Wizard Lord, Dispel Scroll - Lore of Life
BSB, Barded Warhorse
Warrior Priest, Barded Warhorse
Captain, Pegasus

13 Inner Circle Knights, Full Command, Steel Banner
20 Archers + 2 x 5 Archers Detachments
5 Reiksguard
4 Demigryphs
Steam Tank

Even faster army than the one I faced before with more regiments sporting 1+ armor save. Not good. Very compact too and with support units not giving away too many points if lost. In itself it presented a challenge. Add to that the fact that Simon is very good player and that he learns fast (so no element of surprise here) and you could easily imagine how big dilemma I had when trying to create some plan of action.

In the end I decided I will try to hit the flanks, as I expected Empire to form a tight formation. If I could isolate main unit I thought I would have a chance to get the rest of the units. I also wanted to silence the cannon as soon as possible as it is always annoying when I have to slow down the advance so that I do not present the flank to the war machine.


Tight Empire battle line
And spread elven formation

Some features in the middle of the battle field meant that the advance could be disrupted for some units. Also, the rock forming a circle were considered as hard cover.

I don't quite remember the order of deployment but I believe I positioned shooters and some of the regiments on both flanks before I learned on which flank Simon is going to have his army. Then I reinforced Eastern flank as I thought it might already be too crowded on the West.

Respective wizards got following spells:

Wizard Lord - Flesh to Stone, Throne of Vines, Shield of Thorns, Dwellers

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

Unsurprisingly Simon won the roll off and his was first turn.

Empire - Turn 1

Steel clad knights move forward
Almost entire army of Empire moves forward

Grand Master gives the order to move forward at full speed and his knights obey. Only steamtank is left behind as it experiences some kind of a malfunction and cannot move.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elven light troops move forward
Rapid advance on the Eastern flank

With the center and Western flank holding only the units on the East advanced rapidly towards the enemy. Reavers tried to block the knights. With many targets still out of range elves aimed at the knights and fell two (Edit: Or was it also Fury of Khaine?)

Eagle claw aimed the volley at the exposed hurricanum and inflicted some damage too.

Empire - Turn 2

Knights charge and overrun
Empire steamroller does not slow its advance

Inner Circle knights destroy elven light cavalry and use momentum to close to the other enemy units. On the West reiksguard and demigryphs advance as well. On the West archers move to block elven cavalry while shooting claims two enemy knights. However, they do not stop their advance.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Elves charge!
Fast repositioning

Dragon Princes on the West charge reiksguard. Imperial armor proves to be almost invulnerable and only a single knight is killed. In return two elven cavalrymen are dead and the combat is at a draw.

On the East another heavy cavalry has no problems in defeating archers. Single survivor is left to flee while the knights reform. Another small unit of archers is reduced to two members who also panic.

Single archer regiment block the advance of imperial knights while other regiments close towards the building with enemy wizard.

Empire - Turn 3
Empire presses forward
Empire troops start individual fights

The knights destroy the archers and their momentum carries them out of the battle for time being. On the West the struggle between the knights continues, while demigryphs kill the eagle and reform to face the eagle claw.

One more Dragon Prince is claimed by a cannon ball on the East. Finally, wizard lord draws enough energy to cast his spell irresistibly and dreaded dwellers claim some sea guards. Fortunately for elves their BSB manages to fight his way free. 

Outcasts - Turn 3
Dragon Princes break reiksguard
Elven troops break on the flanks

On the West dragon princes finally break reiksguard but fail to catch them in pursuit. On the East their companions race towards the cannon while White Lions charge the steamtank. Despite many hits its carapace proves to be too tough even for them.

Empire - Turn 4
Empire troops do not stop attacking
Fragile elven army starts to fall apart

The knights came back and reformed to face exposed flank of the elven troops. Hurricnum charges archers who lose but hold.

Before Lions can strike the steamtank grinds down majority of the unit and the three survivors are forced to flee.

Outcasts - Turn 4
Elven BSB is in a big trouble
Elven desperate counter-attack
Elves are hard pressed and it seems the attack is the only way out. Dragon Princes charge the cannon and quickly destroy it. Their companions attack pegasus captain but inflict only a single wound and the captain holds. White Lions charge the steamtank and inflict some more damage. Also sea guard clears the way to the building with enemy wizard lord hiding there. Finally, bsb leads his sea guard to charge the hurricanum but their attack is not successful (Edit: I needed 5+ and of course I rolled less :()

Finally Archmage casts fury of khain with irresistible force and inflicts enough casualties upon archer unit that they flee from the building as a result.

Empire - Turn 5
Empire troops start dominating the center
More elven regiments die

Yet another white lions regiment is almost decimated and flee from combat, panicking sea guard on their way. Inner circle knights charge sea guard, completely out of position and destroy them.

Also demigryphs come to the rescue of the pegasus captain and another elven regiment dies.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Elven battle for survival
Chain reaction of panic

Dragon Princes charge reiksguard who decide to retreat. That, however, panics nearby archers and they flee to safety. Dempigryphs also interpret that as a signal to retreat and entire Western flank is now in chaos. Fortunately for empire troops now elven regiment is nearby to take advantage of that situation.

Swordmastes with the Archmage charge the hurricanum and destroy it overrunning to put some more distance between them and inner circle knights.

Empire - Turn 6

Last charge of the empire knights

Inner circle knights charge archers and overrun into sea guard beyond them. Pegasus captain forces while lion to flee again. Steamtank kills the rest of another white lions unit.

Fortunately for the empire army their confused and fleeing troops come to senses and rally.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Elves inflict some damage but it is not enough to turn the tide of battle

Pegasus captain is finally shot down. Swordmasters charge archers with the wizard and they flee but in doing so they also are in range for the charge from dragon princes. Elven knights do not waste time and attack too so poor archers have to flee towards Sordmasters who catch them this time.

It is clear, however, that Empire troops carry the day and high elves had to withdraw.
Turns Summary
Here is the small animation showing the progress of battle turn by turn:


After-battle thoughts

Simon played solid game, pressed hard from the start and won. His victory was well deserved and I just wish I put up a better fight. It was still a little improvement for me as I lost 14-6.

Looking at the diagrams and pictures I am amazed I made so many mistakes and I am lucky I didn't lose more. Here are my observations:

1. Deployment - as many times before it was the sign of disaster. I separated my army without any way of supporting three different groups. While units on the East and West could fight on their own, fragile shooters in the center could not. I should have deployed closer to each other. I also should have mixed combat and shooting regiments so that I could fight back more efficiently, especially when Simon separated his troops as well. Another thing was to deploy at the very edge so that charges in 2nd turn would have not been possible. As I was afraid of knights attacking my archers or sea guard I sacrificed reavers, which I did poorly too. Since knights could not align I had to do that for them and they were not going towards my hard hitters.

2. Magic - in general Simon cast throne and then attempted dwellers with as many dice as possible. Since his rolls for winds of magic were generally good I let throne in and tried to dispel dwellers. That resulted in healing of hurricanum or steamtank anyway. While I had to spend my few power dice on dispelling throne. :(

3. Shooting - quite poor due to poor deployment but also because I changed targets for eagle claw. Now I know I should have kept shooting at the demigryphs with single bolts. Instead I changed targets from hurricanum to captian to hurricanum and captain again. Completely lost potential.

4. Western front - I should have reinforced that flank with lion unit. I was considering charging reiksguard with swordmasters too but I was afraid that Simon will flee them. I should not have been. Even if he did I could use the eagle to block demigryphs. I should have also positioned Swordmasters in front so that I could have charged with them first. Instead I blocked myself and didn't use the potential. Of course some little more luck would have helped here. I could not break reiksguard on the charge. I could not catch them when the fled. The same with captain.

5. Eastern front - I though I could get the steamtank with two units of lions. But first  could not inflict enough damage on the first charge, then there was no risk to overheat the tank with only single wound inflicted and lions died. Second unit didn't fare any better. And the fact failed stubborn break tests also didn't help. What is more one fleeing unit of lions panicked sea guard which I could have used to declare charges on panicking enemy and simply try to herd them out of the battle field. A little unlucky I must say.

6. BSB charge - that was definitely unlucky not to get 5+ charge on the hurricanum but I guess it was just an addition to many mistakes I have made. It would have helped to save some points but I would have been hard pressed anyway.

7. Archers charged by Hurricanum - I positioned them badly. I should have kept them to the flank of returning knightly unit as that would force them to reform in front of them where I could simply redirect them again. Instead, I got charged and I opened the path to sea guard and bsb. :(

The good thing is I learned a lot too and maybe my next game against Empire would be much better than this one. At this stage, however, Empire remains my nemesis.

Once again congratulations to Simon for his victory. Simon finished in top 10 which is a very good result too!  

CanCon 2013 - Summary

CanCon 2013 without a doubt was a great success and I am very happy I had an opportunity to attend it. Below are my comments and observations on various aspects of the event.

1. Players Pack - I really like the players pack, in particular the fact there are various scenarios at play. Yes, they can have some frustrating effects but n general they add another dimension to the game. I was also glad some of them were modified. One can of course discuss what these modifications should be and as other tournaments show, there are different ways of applying them.

I actually like the fact we could play 8 games, despite feeling it after each day. The only concern was that due to busy schedule I didn't have enough time to admire other armies. I also had no time at all to check other tournaments, participation games or even the stores all present during that huge event. Maybe going down to 7 games can indeed be a good solution to give that opportunity to participate in CanCon not only as fantasy player but as a gamer.

In comparison to CanCon 2012 one of the most important changes were in comp. Instead of 80 points last year, one could earn 40. And the comp was added at the end of the tournament. It seemed to work very well as there were no complaints that some armies went under the radar and got high positioning due to very high comp only.

2. Venue - Always great, with enough space to accommodate lots of players and other people, without being cramped.

3. Attendance - According to the results, there were 93 players ranked at the end of the tournament. I don't know if there were some people who dropped in the meantime but everybody was really excited about possibility to get to 100 players. It didn't happen but in comparison to last CanCon it was still a huge improvement (from 70+ players to 90+). You should also take into account that people travel interstate in Australia to attend. It is like going from one country to another in Europe (and not the neighbor either!). Well done guys! 

4. Tables/Terrain - I can imagine that getting enough terrain for 50 tables was a challenge and the fact that indeed there was terrain for each table was great achievement. Whoever helped here, big Thank you to you all!

I was just wondering, however, if that terrain could have been spread in a more uniform way. I mean that some tables looked awesome but some were a little empty. And while rivers across the table are great looking it might be a little too much, especially for those who had to play against Dwarven castles in Battle for the Pass scenario :)

5. Rules disputes/Referees performance - Running such a big event by 1-2 people is a huge challenge so again, big thanks to Dave and his friend for doing so. Unfortunately, Dave had some health problems too so thanks a lot for coming back!

To my knowledge there were almost none serious problems in terms of rules disputes. I was a witness to only one stupid situation (players fault) and I was a little disappointed that the person at fault got referees ruling to his advantage. But I didn't hear the whole conversation with a referee so I cannot comment if it was done properly.

Main thing is that player seemed to solve their queries among themselves and there were always people around who were willing to help.

There was some time delays but not long and that is fully understandable so no complaints here at all. There was also a redraw of pairing once or twice but that can happen, in particular with a big event.

We also had to wait a little for the official results as poor Dave had some real life issues to solve first but they arrived eventually so it was good to get that confirmation :)

6. Armies of CanCon - Armies of CanCon were really varied. I am not sure if it is a comp effect or simply the way people play here but I am grateful for that. Even Empire armies I faced, which seemed very similar had enough of different details to actually play in a different way. No HE army was the same (and there were a few!)

There were hard armies and soft armies, in terms of composition. At least as far as I can judge as I don't know the exact composition scores. There were some great painting and modeling projects, I tried to get a glimpse at and took a few photos which do not give them justice at all! But it was very inspirational to see them.

What was interesting, armies that took top 3 (I am trying to collect the information on top 10) were not the pure hardcore armies you saw at the tournament (links to the reports of each of the top 3 players provided).

1. High Elves - cavalry prince - Ward saves are for chickens
2. Bretonnia - Tales from the batcave
3. Tomb Kings - TK rock CanCon

7. Personal Experience - I had 8 fantastic games, against a variety of armies, playing both, people I knew and people I met for the very first time. Each game was unique. Big thanks to all my opponents for great games:

To James - for re-enactment of War of the Beard. Don't give up!
To Jerry - for introducing me to the subtleties of 6-dice Dwellers superior tactics!
To Alex - for opportunity to taste my own medicine of twist and feint and appear behind enemy's back!
To Adam - for showing that being persistent and faithful to his army can bring great results!
To Perry - for having fun no matter what was blowing up at particular moment and for bringing old school big hats!
To Lachie - for giving me the opportunity to play against fantastic army and being stoic when dice didn't favor you!
To Joel - for a tough and challenging game but played in great spirit!
To Simon - for schooling me in the matter of imperial armor and for bringing awesome army!

Thanks to you I had so much fun and it was a great experience indeed. I am looking forward to meeting you again!

It was a different tournament for me also because this time (unlike a year ago) I was not a complete stranger. I met people I knew from previous tournaments and that was great in itself to be able to catch up. To my surprise there were many players who recognized my army and it was fantastic to hear they know it thanks to the reports they read. I am happy to know you enjoyed them and that is a huge motivation to keep them coming! Thanks a lot guys! It was good to meet you again or meet you in person and put a face to the (nick)name!

All right, time for some statistics now. :)

I am going to start with High Elves performance, stating which overall position players took and which army it was (if I know the composition).

1. HE - Cavalry Prince
4. HE - MSU
16. HE - Coven of Light
26. HE - Double Lion horde
38. HE - Combined arms (Light mage, BSB in SH, lions, swordmasters, archers)

There was also Teclis led army but I don't know the name of the player so I cannot tell where he place. I also think there were more HE armies so the above list is not complete for sure.

I was very happy with my own performance, as I won 5 out of 8 games (as opposed to 3 out of 8 last year). With maximum points for painting, sports and composition I knew I earned quite a lot of points for overall ranking but I was nevertheless very surprised to see myself on 4th place, only 2 points behind Nick Hoen and his Tomb Kings! Who would have thought? If I only had a draw in last game, haha! But to tell you the truth it didn't really matter as there was a much bigger surprise for me.

It seems my opponents also enjoyed the games we played as I was awarded 2nd best sport. This I didn't see coming at all and I would like to thank my opponents for voting for me. It is great to compete and win or lose having great game. But if I earned enough respect from you to be voted 2nd best sport, there is nothing more important! Thanks! :)

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the CanCon mini-series of reports!

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