Sunday 30 November 2014

Game 60 - Vampire Counts - 2013/03/19


My friend Adam was preparing for the 3k tournament and asked me for a practice game against his Strigoi themed Vampire army. It was a pleasure to return the favor (Adam gave me a very good practice game with his DE before CanCon) and it is always a great thing to play a game in real life on a fantastic gaming table!

As the tournament Adam was about to attend used scenarios we also played one of them - dreaded Down Attack.

Army Lists and Pre-battle Considerations

I played 3k battles in 8th edition at the very beginning when the rulebook just came out. We loaded with lord level characters back then and it felt like you can have everything you wanted in the army. Now I was thinking how to expand the army I am much more familiar with. I narrowed down my options to two army lists but let me first present the army Adam decided to field:
Strigoi - Army List

Strigoi Ghoul King, Level 1, "Screaming Sword", Flying Horror - Lore of Vampires
Necromancer Lord, Level 4, Black Periapt - Lore of Vampires
Vampire BSB, Level 2, Forbidden Lore - Lore of Beasts

38 Ghouls
25 Ghouls
20 Zombies
20 Zombies
10 Crypt Horrors
6 Vargheists
6 Hexwraiths
6 Hexwraiths
2 SpiritHosts
2 SpiritHosts
Outcasts - Army List

Archmage, Level 4, Staff of Solidity - Lore of Metal
Battle Standard Bearer, Heavy Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Reaver Bow, Dragon Helm
Noble, Dragon Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Barded Steed, Helm of Fortune, The Other Trickster Shard, Pigeon Pennant

2 x 10 Archers, Musician
2 x 20 Lothern Sea Guard, Full Command

10 White Lions, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame
10 White Lions, Musician, Gleaming Pennant
12 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Amulet of Light
12 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Talisman of Loec
2 x 6 Dragon Princes
2 x 5 Ellyrian Reavers, Spears
2 x Great Eagle
1 x Repeater Bolt Thrower

First of all I apologize (as usual) for not complete army list of my opponent. I can't remember all the items but I will add the information as soon as I get it.

I faced an army with some tough regiments there in the form of ghouls, crypt horrors and vargheists. Strigoi Ghoul King was a problem on his own, as with flying ability he could be hard to catch and prevent from doing a lot of damage on his own if he wanted to. At least he was not on a dragon!

4 units of ethereal creatures was also a problem sine I have only a single unit with magic attacks. Reaver Bow could help but there were just too many of them. Fortunately I could try to do something with magic.

It was the first game I decided to try lore of metal. Main reason was that I had no good answer to high armor with High Magic. Lore of metal provided some answers to that but also had some good spells which could be used too. This particular VC army was not the one to be afraid of lore of metal too much but it was good to test as well if I can make something of that magic against the army with no armor.

As usual with Dawn Attack I didn't try to plan before I saw the deployment. It also gave me a chance to start first, as I won the roll off and deployed my army first.


View from the South
View from the North
After vanguard moves (Note that "SW" is not Skeleton Warriors unit but Zombie regiment)

Unfortunately for Adam his army ended up divided into two parts. With his lord on one flank his forces were considerably slowed down already. I wanted to used that somehow as it gave me the opportunity to advance through the center and fight both parts as isolated forces.

Another decision to make was to focus on one flank or attack both of them simultaneously. I decided to be move aggressive on the East, where I thought I had advantage in terms of sheer combat potential. Also, destroying necromancer would give me an advantage in the magic phase. Lack of ability to heal the units and/or bring new ones is a huge drawback for VC.

On the West I wanted to play more defensively as I was not sure what horrors can do (I have never played them before). Flying Ghoul King was a problem on his own. Add to that hexwraiths and I didn't really wanted to advance on that flank recklessly.

VC didn't steal the initiative so I moved first (not so usual situation for me). Respective wizards had the following spells:

Ghoul King - Invocation
Necromancer - Invocation, Gaze, Rise Dead, Curse
VC BSB - Wildform, Pelt

Archmage - Blades, Robe, Golden Hounds, Final Transmutation

Outcasts - Turn 1
Steady Western flank
Vampire minions taking casualties already
Elves move aggressively and attack on the entire front (red circle marks Enchanted Blades cast at the unit)

Seeing an opportunity to defeat the foe while it is still divided, High Elves moved fast. On the East, faster cavalry units begun envelopment. On the West the infantry held still, with archers trying to inflict any damage at the incoming crypt horrors due to lack of any other target.

Archmage used his skills to turn arrows of the sea guard into magic missiles and they turned a few of the hexwraiths into dust. But the ace in the sleeve was played after. The Archmage focused his powers and cast powerful spell, turning at least half of the ghouls into golden statues. What is more, one of them was huge, winged one depicting Strigoi Ghoul King as if still alive.

The dark powers keeping undead creatures alive started to fade away and only timely intervention of the necromancer prevented the whole army from crumbling. Some of the units, however, lost some members and the hexwraiths in the center of the battle field perished for good.

Strigoi - Turn 1
Undead units slowly move forward
Even those who were not led by any character
Necromancer tries to consolidate his forces

The loss of the Ghoul King was a painful one but Necromancer knew attack was the only way to save his own skin. He ordered shambling hordes to move forward and started to consolidate them into anything resembling battle line. At this stage it was too early for a counter attack.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Eastern flank is being surrounded
Passive-aggressive defense on the West
The battlefield is clearly divided into two separate halves

High Elves knew that despite powerful blow delivered by their archmage they still had to push forward to use the advantage. Regiments on the East kept moving around undead horde while those on the West formed a dead zone for the advancing horrors.

Archers, empowered by the spell, destroyed a few hexwraiths (Edit: I intended to cast the Blades on the sea guard but unfortunately they failed their swift reform test)

Strigoi - Turn 2
Undead stall their advance on the West
But try to attack on the East
Undead try to push back through the center

Undead hordes on the West stop as if awaiting new orders. Those on the West attack however. Ellyrian reavers performed their famous feigned flight easily escaping even Vargheists. It looks like Necromancer is very careful though and does not want to commit his units too early.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves attack on the East!

And bait undead on the West
Heroic charge of elven noble

Elven noble spotted a chance to eliminate enemy BSB and charged alone, ordering his unit to keep maneuvering to catch the necromancer. He singled out enemy character and chopped him down before he had a chance to strike back. Elven knights was now surrounded by horde of zombies though.

White Lions in the middle charged spirit hosts, to pin them down and hoping for spell support but this time evil necromancer was ready and the spell didn't go through. In such circumstances all shooting on the East was directed at Vargheists and two of the hulking brutes were down.

On the West Lions and Swordmasters formed a single line to tempt Horrors to attack them.

Strigoi - Turn 3
Undead attack on the West
And counter with magic on the East

Crypt Horrors charge Swordmasters who withdrew and then attacked awaiting Lions. In a vicious combat brave Chracians destroy many huge monstrosities but also suffer some casualties.

Hexwraiths charge Dragon Princes but even though their dragon armor saves them etheral creatures are scary enough to spook their horses and proud knights have to retreat.

Ellyrian reavers yet again have to use their speed to evade charging enemy. (Edit: It is quite possible that Vargheists simply charged them first and then ghouls did that too.)

On the East Necromancer used his skills to defend himself and fried four reavers who were sneaking at his back. The lone survivor didn't flee but on the other hand there was no unit to perform combined charge from two directions in team with nearby dragon princes.

Outcasts - Turn 4
The battle rages on the East
Not all goes according to the plan on the West
Elves start taking casualties

White Lions kept fighting Horrors and both regiments kept melting away. Swordmasters didn't stop in their retreat which made the archmage furious as he was now exposed for vargheists attack. Even the shooting didn't help to put down some of the vampiric creatures.

On the East Swordmasters had to chop some zombies slowing them down. Noble fought bravely but this time his horse panicked and zombies surrounded lonely elven knight.

Dragon Princes attacked alone at the zombies with Necromancer but despite the fact they slaughtered plenty of them they could not reach cowardly wizard.

Strigoi - Turn 4
War of attrition
Elves lost their momentum

Brave Lions fought to their bitter end and from the horde of 10 horrors only one monstrosity stays alive. Another unit also dies away slowly as the Archmage is unable to help them with his spells.

Dragon princes kill more zombies but Necromancer is able to resurrect some more. Finally, vargheists attempt to attack sea guard on the hill but are unable to mount a coherent attack.

Outcasts - Turn 5
All shoot at crypt horror
This diagram is a little misleading, sea guard charged vargheists and then reformed

Every shooter on the West aimed at the lone crypt horror but despite that the beast remained barely alive.

On the East Swordmasters had to charge blocking spirit hosts. Lone reaver charged some zombies to stop them from attacking dragon princes from the rear. Elven knights hacked more zombies and were very close to the necromancer now.

Strigoi - Turn 5
Crypt horror tries to hide in the building
Dragon princes are attacked by another zombie horde

Hexwraiths attack and catch archers who tried to flee. Lone horror storms into the building to hide from elven arrows. Dragon Princes finish one unit off and now are able to attack the necromancer but more zombies are resurrected.

Outcasts - Turn 6
The Horror is dead!
Last elven charges

Elves tried for the last time to attack. On the West archers attacked hexwraiths and the ethereal creatures started to finally crumble (Edit: Unfortunately I lost one archer which meant that I could not crumble the unit due to static combat result)

All other shooters aimed at the horror and managed to inflict the last wound.

The eagle tried to aid beleaguered dragon princes but it was somehow killed by zombies. The knights wounded but didn't kill the necromancer and this time didn't resist the pressure and fled. Nearby reavers managed to destroy zombies but were too late to aid their companions.

Strigoi - Turn 6
Necromancer lives!
Undead attack to give time for Necromancer to escape

Necromancer now could escape to plot his revenge. Before that he sent spirit hosts to attack sea guard and they claimed the life of wounded BSB before they perished.

High Elves managed to stop Vampire Counts but at much higher cost than they expected.

Battle Summary

Turn by turn animation
After-battle thoughts

After initial successes I managed to get myself into a war of attrition and thanks to that Adam get back many points. I am glad he did that though. At first he was very close to concede, which is not surprising in such circumstances. But then he decided a situation like that can happen at the tournament and one has to claw some points back no matter what. In the end it was only 500 points or so difference so a very good result considering such a troublesome start. First his army arrived divided, second his general was lost the very first turn.

There were a lot of things I should have done differently, at least to save some points (or not lose them in a stupid way). I wonder if I made them because of that initial and totally unexpected success with the spell.

What I would have done differently then:

1. There was no need for such a rapid advance on the East. I should have waited a little and try to thin down spirit hosts with reaver bow.

2. I made a mistake with Swordmasters on the West. I moved them too far forward. If I didn't position them in line with Lions I could have them ready to counter (or attack together with Lions). Instead, I had to withdraw because they would not hold against Horrors on their own.

3. Charging with Lions against Spirit Host hoping for magical attacks was stupid. Especially that I seemed to roll poorly on winds of magic. Sea guard was much better here as at least they had static combat result to speak about.

4. Adam did great to stall my attack on the East, he cast spells well and either resurrected fallen models or created new units preventing mine from joining the fight. I guess that was the consequence of committing units too early and not getting rod of the spirit hosts.

I had some moments of bad luck but nothing I would complain about. Some not so difficult break tests to pass would have been nice but that happens unfortunately.

Metal magic didn't have huge impact with a notable exception of that first spell. I didn't expect it to happen but then I said I have nothing to lose and I needed to make that flank weaker. It was difficult to get Blades through, especially that other spells were not quite that useful anymore. So that Adam could easily make his priorities. That didn't discourage me from using it though and I still think that with that one spell it was well worthy bringing it to the game.

Thanks for the reading!

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