Sunday 24 May 2015

Game 87 - High Elves - 2013/12/04

Game 1 - Chris - High Elves

The drawing for the first game was done during the recording of Watchtower podcast. People had time to bet who is going to win against whom in round 1. I had an honor to play against previous year winner, Chris. He decided to use the army list Aaron used in the ETC tournament. Here is the list:

High Elves - Army List

Archmage, Level 4, Moon Dragon, Talisman of Preservation, Dispel Scroll - 590 - Lore of Death
Dragonmage, Level 2, Dragon Armour, Charmed Shield, Golden Crown - 410 - Lore of Fire
Noble, BSB, Barded Steed, Dragon Armour, Enchanted Shield, Dawnstone, Sword of Might - 170

9 Silver Helms, Full Command, Shields - 237
6 Silver Helms, Musician, Shields - 148
20 Lothern Seaguard, Full Command - 260
6 Dragon Princes, Full Command, Banner of Swiftness, Starlance - 249
Bolt Thrower - 70
Bolt Thrower - 70
Bolt Thrower - 70
Bolt Thrower - 70
Great Eagle, Razor Talons - 55

This army had a comp score of 13.9 so only 0.1 point difference from mine. It is a very tough match up for me because the army has few elements that are very dangerous for MSU.

First - magic. Combination of Death and Fire (i.e. Fireball) can be very powerful. Imagine if you cast Doom and Darkness and then add a Fireball cast at the same target. There are also some spells that has to be dispelled and that makes choosing priorities in the magic phase more difficult. Add mobility of both wizards and it is really hard to avoid being spirit leached, for example.

Second - speed. This army outmatches mine in that department and only thanks to multiple units I have a chance to limit the mobility of such enemy. Big fliers are always a problem and here I have two. The good thing, however, is that both characters are relatively fragile so I didn't expect solo charges unless the unit is weakened or there are favorable circumstances. Which I wanted to deny.

Third - shooting. 4 bolt throwers are a force to be scared of. With their excellent range they were capable of focusing fire on a single target and eliminating it. They also were great at picking the weakened units that were just harmed by magic. On the other had they are not that expensive but might require a significant number of units to be sent against them. Both dragons also have breath attacks and that potentially can devastate any unit of mine, with the exception of Dragon Princes.

And last but not least - point denial units. Wizards might be fragile but even if you kill one then there is still a dragon. And while they are all worth a lot of points, until you get them there is nothing to gain. Similarly BSB and heavy cavalry are not that easy to get rid of. Simply because there are other elements of the enemy army that might be more dangerous at particular moment.

Each of these can be dealt with but unfortunately for me it was hard as they were not present alone but all together. So I could not use my speed to attack bolt throwers as it would have exposed me to the counter of the cavalry or dragons or both. I could not prevent all spells to be cast. Finally, setting up combined charges under the enemy fire and under constant threat of the dragons attack seems like mission impossible.

I discussed the issue with a few experienced players and thanks to their advice (thanks a lot for your words of wisdom, Hinge, Jimmy and Targ! :)) I decided to try something that might be called controlled aggressive approach :D

Basically, I decided to use terrain and relatively spread deployment to minimize the impact of the bolt throwers. I also wanted to use my greater number of deployment drops to see where the dragons and cavalry are so that I could pick the opposite flank to position my own characters. I was not sure if Chris would deploy on a flank though, so I also wanted to create a deployment that allowed me to hold one flank and approach with another, depending on where the dragons are. I really wanted to deny them a landing opportunity behind my back so I was willing to slow down the approach and suffer from shooting rather than allowing the wyrms to have a field day behind the lines.

Knowing that the magic will be an issue I wanted to use dispel dice to neglect spirit leach opportunities as a priority. I also wanted to use my won shooting as soon as any of the wizards was in line of sight. I reckoned that the archmage with only 4++ ward can fail some saves even from bow fire and that is why it is worthy shooting at him simply to stop him from casting spells. My own magic also can be useful in that. And if there is an opportunity to charge it and kill it, even more so!

I was also happy to commit to combat as I cannot be shot at there. On the other hand, letting enemy cavalry charge any of my elite infantry is a suicide so I wanted to avoid that unless the sacrifice would allow me to counter and destroy the unit of the enemy. I was happy with any unit for unit exchange as I have more of those.

Even with all the above I was definitely an underdog in that game and I was very curious if my plan is going to work and if I can pull out a good result. I was very eager to face up that challenge!


Deployment of the armies after vanguard
Might of Caledor vs. Outcasts

Caledorian wizards had following spells:

Archmage - Spirit Leach, Soulblight, Soulblight, Doom & Darkness
Dragon Mage - Fireball, Flaming Sword of Ruin

Larry joined the Swordmasters to the West while Bob was with Swordmasters to the East of the lake.

Chris won the roll-off and his super fast force had an additional advantage of having a first turn!

High Elves - Turn 1
Slow advance of the Caledorian forces

Magic and Shooting are deadly

Caledorian forces moved slowly forward. Dragon Mage and Silver Helms moved back and towards the centre of their deployment zone to put more distance from the enemy cavalry.

Only the Archmage moved forward and boldly landed in the middle of the battle field, having only the forest as a protection. He mustered his powers and cast a spell against his counter part. In the battle of wills the Archmage won decisively. Only the magical golden crown that enemy Loremaster had saved him from death.

Battery of Bolt Throwers sang their deadly music and both units of Sisters in the enemy ranks ceased to exist.

Outcasts - Turn 1
Easter flank advances

Aiming at the dragon but ...

Outcasts moved forward but only on the Eastern flank. There was no rush to meet the enemy even under deadly fire. It was more important to keep cohesive battle line and keep the dragons in check.

All missile units together with the Loremaster aimed at the enemy Archmage and his dragon but all missiles were either not accurate enough, or deflected by the dragons thick hide and wizard's magical protection.

High Elves - Turn 2
Caledorians keep the distance
And batter their enemies with even more magic and shooting

Caledorians use their shooting and magic superiority again and don't rush for combat. The archmage again tries to force his opponent to meet him in the battle of wills on the magical plane but this time the Loremaster deflects the spell. That opens another opportunity and he and his unit are now shrouded in magic fog of doubts, doom and darkness. When the fireball hits them they are all disheartened and start to withdraw. Only at the very last moment they manage to regain a fraction of control and don't leave the battle field for good.

Bolt throwers and Sea Guard picked some targets and mainly enemy marines suffered from the shooting. They were stalwart defenders though and didn't move from their posts.

Outcasts - Turn 2
The battle for the pass?
Outcasts in the wide outflanking manoeuvre

Outcasts had to move more decisively now and entire Eastern flank turned towards the enemy. On the West reavers and eagle bolted out in hope to reach enemy artillery before they shoot them down.

Missile units again aimed at the Archmage and this time there were some wounds inflicted on the dragon.

High Elves - Turn 3

Caledorians press forward
First combat!

The dragons move further to the West. The Archmage flies over the hill and some heavy cavalry move in to support him in outflanking maneuver. This time magic does not do the usual damage but shooting is as deadly as always. Reavers on the West are destroyed and the only survivor panics. Great eagle is not spared either. The sea guard and Swordmasters suffer more casualties, making both units almost non existent.

On the East Silver Helms lower their lances and charge Dragon Princes but that knightly clash brings no casualties and Dragon Princes hold their ground.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Counter charge!
Death of the Archmage!

Dragon Princes spur their horses and slam into the flank of enemy knights. Only one survives that devastating charge and flees to safety. The impetus Dragon Princes fail to restrain and try to catch the enemy but have to hold before they clash with their own unit.

Larry was really angry. He barely survived that silly mind tricks of the enemy archmage. He managed to heal himself a little but he knew that as long as the enemy archmage lives he will be the target. He summoned his favorite spell - a Fireball! Let's show that arrogant Caledorians some power of the dragon breath!

With eyes blazing with hot fury, Larry started to channel the magical energy. Even his adversary was not strong enough to deflect the spell cast with such an irresistible force. But Larry was not content. He saw his enemy swaying in the saddle but wanted him dead. He started to channel more and more energy to the point where it was controllable. He didn't care. He was about to channel some more when he felt the pain in the back of his head and darkness claimed him.

One of the Swordmasters looked at the numb form of their general and two broken pieces of the magical wand that were thrown nearby. "So that how that safety rod works" - he thought. "Is he going to be ok?" he asked his regimental Blademaster. "Sure, he might not remember how to cast spells for a while though" answered more experienced warrior. "But better that than another dimensional cascade, I have had enough of trips to the Realms of Chaos!"

Seeing the enemy Archmage barely holding to the saddle, archers and bolt thrower crew all aimed at the enemy general and finally managed to threw him down to the ground. His mount took the lifeless form and disappeared to the safety of the nearby hill.

High Elves - Turn 4
Cavalry approaches steadily
And the shooting continues

The loss of the archmage took away a lot from the magical prowess of the Caledorian forces but they were still very dangerous foe. The regiments continued their steady approach and kept shooting.

In particular the effect of destruction of the Reavers on the East somehow panicked horses of the nearby knights and they had to withdraw to regain control over their terrified mounts.

Outcasts - Turn 4
For the greater good!
Time to return some favor with shooting

Decimated Swordmasters and Lions units moved to sell their lives in order to stop advancing enemy from hitting the more vulnerable targets behind them. Another unit of Lions attempted a very long charge but failed to reached their enemies in time.

Outcasts shooters aimed at the enemy knights and half of the heavy cavalry unit was destroyed.

High Elves - Turn 5
Rage of the Dragon Mage!
Charges! But only some hit home

Dragon Princes attempted to charge the enemy eagle claw but misjudged the distance. Heavy cavalry led by BSB quickly destroyed few of the enemy Lions. Finally, the Dragon Mage charged another unit of Lions and the ferocity of the attack broke even these stalwart warriors. The impetus of the attack carried him right into the flank of the enemy knights. Would his flaming sword be able to claim more enemy lives?

Outcasts - Turn 5
Cavalry companions are late!
But the shooting eliminates the enemy knights

Dragon Princes try to speed up but somehow they cannot reach the enemy in time. Their companions still hold though.

Bob decided to use his magical potion and his supernatural strength allows him to kill remaining 3 enemy knights all by himself. Inspired by this heroic display of the shooting skills the crew of the eagle claw loads a single bolt and shoots the enemy from the flank only to find out their missile broke in midair. (Edit: Nothing like rolling a 1 to wound :))

High Elves - Turn 6
Dragon Mage in hot pursuit
4 vs 1, eagle claws battle

Dragon Mage finally manages to break his enemies but is unable to catch fleeing knights. The battery of bolt throwers aims then at a lone enemy war machine and destroy it.

Outcasts - Turn 6
Dragon Hunt!

This time Dragon Princes do not hesitate and attack. Dragon Mage dies and his dragon is mortally wounded. He is barely alive and tries to fly away but vengeful knights catch it in hot pursuit!

Both armies sustained some casualties and it seemed that Caledorians still claimed a victory. But only just!

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After-battle Thoughts

After calculating the battle points we found out that it was 11-9 victory for Chris. A very good result for me as it was not an easy match up at all!

I was pleased with the general outcome as I managed to prevent dragons to fly over and sit behind my lines. Then they would be able to pick up the fights and destroy my small units. Especially with the help of heavy cavalry. There are a few things I could have done differently though.

1. Position Loremaster further to the right so that he is not the target of the Spirit Leach first turn. It is hard to achieve as with 20" move the flying Archmage can reach far. But the thing is that would have force him to land in front of the forest. Better chances to hit. And I needed that help a lot.

2. Moving eagle and ER on the left was a mistake. I could have better used them to delay cavalry. Instead, I lost them for no gain.

3. Possibly move BSB and both characters more towards the centre so any D&D is not causing dramas and chances for the unit to flee the table. I would have also had Dragon Princes in range for that much needed re-roll for a panic check.

4. Long charge of Lions was risky and didn't pay off. On the other hand it gave me the opportunity to fight dragon mage and that exchange was good for me. At the same time, failed panic check and failed charge meant I got no chances to attack bolt throwers. Simply to silence them down as there is not much point gain for them and I doubt I would have been able to get more than 2.

5. Earthing Rod was really needed this time. I cascaded Larry but could re-roll that only to get a 10 and to lose all magic levels. But at least he was alive for the reminder of the game. And that is very important.

6. The only thing I wonder about is how should I position Sisters. They were primary target and maybe it would have been a better idea to keep them behind other units?

Chris played a very good game. He was patient and meticulous in picking up the targets. He used his magic in a superb way and only lucky rolls saved my Loremaster and his bodyguards. Point denial helped here a lot too as even with the loss of the Archmage he didn't lose a single point.

I learned a lot on how to play against double dragon army but I am still not sure if I could pull out a similar result again. But it was a great pleasure and honour to play against Chris and his very mobile army.

Thanks a lot, Chris, and congratulations on a very good placing over all!  

Thanks for reading!


  1. I'm surprised his army scored so well in comp. 4 bolt throwers are pretty heavily comped I assume, but inclusion of seaguard helped I imagine (even though having read many of your reports I've learned to not underestimate them!). Characters on dragons are probably not too badly comped but they just happen to be a good counter to your list.

    I think you did a good job containing the dragons with the two lined deployment. That's something I'll definitely use when I start back at warhammer assuming the game hasn't changed too much. I think this type of list is your toughest opponent so a 9-11 finish is actually really impressive. I think the battle for the pass is another tough matchup for you since it allows opponents to better cover their flanks. Just something I've noticed.

    As far as sisters deployment, I'm not terribly sure since I'm not extremely familiar with their stats. I think they have 24in range which is the shortest range on the table. So I think that you had to pick between getting them in range to have any impact or hiding them. He had a good bit of shooting and magic that outranges them so I think it is more of a matchup issue than a deployment one. Maybe one unit could have gone in the building? But every unit that isn't on the table in your battle line is another spot for a dragon to land so that is a double edged sword. Overall, I liked your deployment!

    The only thing I noticed as really a mistake that could have been avoided was giving up the eagle and reavers in the left which you mentioned. They really didn't have a chance to make it across the table, but then again they took shots that could have went into more valuable targets.

    All in all, great first game! I won't make it to the other reports until next week but I'll get there. Oh, and great job on the masters qualification! A very big honor.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Great to see so many comments of yours! I really appreciate you taking the time to provide your feedback. You keep this blog alive all alone!

      Chris was always good at playing the comp to his advantage but at the same time bringing some quite interesting armies. He is a very experienced player and a former Australian Master winner so you can bet he knows what he is doing. It was definitely a challenge for me and my army and in the podcasts that predicted the outcome of the games in the round one he was clearly the winner.

      I had some fruitful discussions with people about possible approaches and double line was one of the things I wanted to try. I am glad it worked! I knew (and Chris confirmed that) that if I only allowed one of the dragons to land behind my lines I would be in a big trouble. In that context I was very happy to get 9-11 result. Of course I also wish I managed to get that big dragon too! :)

      Yes, Sisters have 24" range and that is not that long. It just felt bad to lose them straight away and I knew Chris would have advance anyway. Of course against bolt throwers it was hard to hide anyway.

      It is good point about the reavers and an eagle I lost in a reckless move, i.e. other targets were not shot at. However, in this situation LSG had no targets I think and while bolt thrower didn't shoot at something else I guess I provided some targets for the elven marines.

      It was still great opening of a tough tournament for me and people often say that the fact somebody qualified was a reward in itself. It was definitely for me!