Sunday 28 June 2015

Game 115 - High Elves - 2014/07/30


Darth Sabre of Ulthuan fame offered me a chance to play at his place so I jumped at the opportunity to play some garage hammer! Oh, and this game is dedicated to Mr. Nick "The Short Shorts" Gentile from the Dwellers Below since we ... played on Wednesday! :)

Darth had some options to choose from as I know he has experimented with a few different army lists recently. Last time we played against each other at CanCon 2014 he had cavalry prince themed force. He opted to field a similar list this time as well. In fact, I think this army was tougher. Here are the details:

High Elves - Army List
Cavalry Prince, Barded Elven Steed, Dragon Armor, Giant Blade, Enchanted Shield, Dawnstone
Archmage, Level 4, Talisman of Preservation, Book of Hoeth - Lore of Life
BSB, Barded Elven Steed, Dragon Armor, Shield, Dragonhelm, Ogre Blade
Mage, Level 2, Barded Elven Steed, Crown of Command - Lore of Beasts

10 Silver Helms, Full Command
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Spears, Bows, Musicians
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Spears, Bows, Musicians
14 Archers, Musicians

23 White Lions, Full Command, Standard of Discipline
Eagle Claw
Eagle Claw
Eagle Claw
Frostheart Phoenix
Great Eagle, Swiftsense, Shredding Talons

Let's have a look at the army list with more details:

Prince - well known cavalry prince. S7 magical attacks with ASF hurt a lot. It is probably an overkill for whatever I can throw at him but he is good warrior. He is well protected against traditional attacks but lack of ward save on such expensive and still fragile model is a weakness to exploit.

Archmage - another trademark of original cavalry prince army, life archmage, to make these fragile elves tougher, regrow them and heal the characters or even frosty. Defensive by nature, against deathstars it has Dwellers. Well equipped with Book of Hoeth and well protected by Talisman of Preservation. The fact he is on foot tells where is he going to be, well protected by White Lions :)

BSB - another cavalry character, to accompany the prince and deal the damage with his S6 magical attacks, retaining ASF as well. Two characters, who keep hitting consistently and with high S are going to kill stuff for sure!

Mage - beast cavalry mage has two roles to play. Make the bus to hit harder and to make it effectively stubborn. He hides in the second rank so he can't be targeted in close combat.

Silver Helms - Character delivery system. They are good as knights can go and they can add to the damage but their main role is to keep character safe and let them do the killing. From my personal point of view I like the fact that they can be targeted by searing doom!

Ellyrian Reavers - this time Darth took bows and he even told me it was due to our previous encounter where I managed to win the clash of light cavalry due to bows! :)

Archers - Good support unit, they can hurt my infantry on their own and against Swordmasters and Lions can even help in close combat. I find it pretty hilarious :D

White Lions - good anvil for the cavalry hammer. As long as these two units are together it would be very hard to defeat them. In particular with Life Magic turning their flesh to stone. In order to tackle that regiment I needed to fight them with Swordmasters, preferably from flank with at least one of them. If I could add Sea Guard or Archers to the equation I would have had a chance to grind them down. But I definitely need to separate them and keep them isolated for as long as it takes to finish them off.

Eagle Claws - battery of 3 is tough. If they can focus the fire. Fortunately for me Eagle Claws are ballistic skill based war machines. So I had to use terrain and the fact I have more units to try and get to them asap as otherwise they would inflict enough damage to my units to render them inefficient in combat.

Frostheart - adds greatly to hammer + anvil set up. Again, as long as they cooperate and don't get divided they are hard to defeat. It can actually take on many of my units on its own. But that may be the undoing as well as I can hold it for a while, as long as t-stomps are not killing my entire units that is :)

Great Eagle - Darth decided to upgrade it with ASF and AP so it was interesting thing to see especially as I did the same with my eagle :D

In general, Darth has a good aggressive army, he has advantage in combat as long as it is one vs one. His "stubborn" units are not going to run anywhere as long as BSB is alive and even without it he can still relatively comfortably go into combat. His support is also very dangerous as 3 eagle claws and 14 archers can destroy my units one per turn. The good thing is that his magic is defensive or supportive in nature so at least I didn't have to worry about magic missiles.

I took the army that in its core is still the same but with a few changes here and there:

Outcasts - Army List

Larry the Loremaster, Book of Hoeth, Dragon Helm, Talisman of Endurance, Ironcurse Icon
Bob the BSB, Dragon Armor, Golden Crown of Atrazar, Shield of the Merwyrm, Ring of Fury
Nasher the Noble - Dragon Armor, Barded Steed, Enchanted Shield, Star Lance, The Other Trickster Shard

15 Archers, Full Command
15 Sea Guard, Full Command
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Spears, Bows
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Spears, Bows

5 Dragon Princes, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame
5 Dragon Princes, Musician
10 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Musician
10 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Musician
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard of Discipline
10 White Lions, Musician, Gleaming Pennant

Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower
Great Eagle, Swiftsense, Shredding Talons
5 Sisters of Avelorn

The main changes are in the character's equipment. Larry got the Icon because I could spend 5 points. Noble got Star Lance back and the Shard to be able to get these pesky ward save characters. Bob got the Ring of Fury to be able to have more magic missiles and to be able to direct them at different targets, not necessarily visible to Larry at the same time.

My idea was to slow down the 3 big regiments (bus, lions and frosty), possibly dividing them in the process. I wanted to use my higher number of units to get to eagle claws and archers as I expected his hitty regiments would move forward to hunt my units down.

Provided I can do that quickly and with acceptable casualties I might even have a chance to hit one of the three hard hitters.

Deployment of the armies before the vanguard
Weighted flank deployment on both sides
Deployment after vanguard - I didn't :)

Darth Reavers vanguarded!
The Archmage got: Earth Blood, Flesh to Stone, Throne of Vines, Regrowth

Level 2: Wildform, Flock of Doom

Surprisingly I won the roll off and got first turn!

Outcasts - Turn 1
Moving fast through the center
Shooting - not that impressive
Outcasts moved through the center to cover the distance to the unprotected enemy shooters as fast as possible. Units on the flank were a little bit more cautious. The shooters aimed at both units of enemy fast cavalry but in a display of poor marksmanship none of the exposed reavers were fully destroyed!

High Elves - Turn 1
The hammer on the move

Shooting - reply in kind!

The Prince gave the order to march towards the enemy in a wide outflanking maneuver. Solitary reaver found himself in the company of 2 of his freshly resurrected companions and headed towards the war machine of the opposing army. On the other flank second unit moved around its adversaries and let the eagle claw on the hill speak. Loss of 3 warriors unnerved the survivors who fled.

On the other hand, eagle claws and archers managed to kill only a few Lions. Clearly, their lion cloaks being responsible for limiting the casualties.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Reshaping the battle line
New formation established
Swordmasters and Dragon Princes with the Noble formed a single line, ready to intercept any of the enemy units if they broke their formation and move too close. At the same time Lions and second unit of Dragon Princes moved towards the shooters, getting close enough to attempt the charge soon.

The shooting and magic were a little bit better, as on the left flank enemy reavers and one eagle claw ceased to exist but the right flank still disappointed.

High Elves - Turn 2
Turning towards the center
Advancing slowly

Cavalry ignored enemy light horse but made sure not to expose its flank to the eagle claw on the hill, effectively slowing down the advance. White Lions benefited from the Life spells in addition to their protection against missile fire.

Remaining shooters targeted enemy Lions but three survivors of the barrage refused to panic. Archers, confident that that unit is not a threat anymore, shot at Swordmasters instead.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Battle for the Pass
First charges
White Lions charged the eagle claw and destroyed the war machine quickly. Nearby Dragon Princes charged through the forest but the venom thicket slowed them down significantly. Fortunately, they didn't suffer any casualties in the treacherous forest.

On the far right flank Sisters and Reavers still could not deal with enemy fast cavalry but at least inflicted some casualties. Sea Guard moved from the tower but could not hit the eagle claw on the hill. Even magic ring of the BSB did absolutely nothing.

High Elves - Turn 3
Big Three divided
Flight of the Phoenix!

The Prince decided the single war machine behind his back is too much of annoyance and directed his whole unit to destroy it. In the meantime White Lions guarded his back while Frostheart swooped down to attack the Archers. They surprisingly inflicted two wounds with stand and shoot reaction but were not lucky enough to get any additional wounds in close combat. They did, however, hold the big bird.

The Archers decided to charge heavily depleted Lions who performed tactical retreat :)

Outcasts - Turn 4
Thin blue line
Cavalry Hammer
Finally clearing enemy fire base - well, almost! :)

Dragon Princess redeem themselves and this time successfully charge through the forest and destroy the last eagle claw. Lions catch the eagle and prepare for the charge against the Archers. Even the Sisters finally managed to hit as they were supposed to and enemy fast cavalry was no more.

On the other flank Larry the Loremaster helped Archers as much as he could. The frostheart was made even more frosty (Edit: It has just occurred to me that I forgot to use lore attribute here .]) and shadow magic made it fight less efficiently but wild blind stomping did the job. Brave Archers still held the line!

High Elves - Turn 4
Cavalry charges!
and overruns behind the enemy lines!

Cavalry Prince charges depleted archers, freeing the Phoenix and overrunning behind the enemy lines. White Lions keep the safe distance. The Archers, knowing offense is the best form of defense charge the Swordmasters but can't make it through the water.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Enemy isolated but still very powerful
Phoenix is caught by the Noble!
Wounded Phoenix attempts to fly away to the safety but swift attack by the enemy Noble catches it in midair and pins to the ground with his magical lance. Phoenix crumbles to the frozen ash.

Ellyrian Reavers and White Lions attach the archers in the perfect coordination but they horribly miss with their attacks and Archers manage to hold the line! (Edit: they were still steadfast)

High Elves - Turn 5
Only the most powerful units remain
Archers flee

Archers can't hold the line anymore and flee but are not yet caught. (Edit: I made a mistake here as I reformed Lions without ranks thus allowing Archers to be steadfast. Unfortunately, they failed their Ld8 break test and fled anyway.)

Cavalry had no target to charge so they just reformed facing the center while Lions backed away despite being tough as stone!

Turn 6

Not much was left to do in turn 6. Reavers caught fleeing archers but Lions were too far and too tough to attack so the regiments focused on securing safe positions. In his last attempt Larry cast Spirit Leach irresistibly and to my surprise and Darth's horror, the cavalry Prince was dead! His cavalry unit had no opportunity to avenge him as an eagle blocked the path to any other target.

With that the game was concluded. High Elves won! :)


 photo output_GhIheO_zpso7wcrd5j.gif
Turn-by-turn summary animation

After-battle thoughts

I was very happy with the result because this is not easy army to defeat for my force at all. I think Darth made a few mistakes that helped me to get better result but I also made a few mistakes and I was lucky they didn't backfire. Let's start with the things that I believe helped my cause.

1. Dispersed fire. Darth had 3 eagle claws and significant amount of longbows to inflict the damage on my small units. In his first turn it was justified that he targeted my rightmost unit as it was a significant threat. But after panicking them I believe he should have focused the fire on a single unit and destroy it. The reason for that is to simply get points but also force panic checks nearby.

The first charge of the archers was a mistake, I know Darth though I would have held with 3 Lions but I had no chance to stay alive in that combat. Besides, by fleeing I made sure Archers were in no position to avoid double pincer attack. The following turn charge was also tempting but fighting in the lake would deprive the unit from ranks and being steadfast so that was a little risky too. Thus 2 turns of shooting were wasted. I believe that first - finishing the small lions and second - swift reforming and shooting at light cavalry, would have helped his cause better.

2. Slow advance on the flank. We were aiming at the same goal, to destroy enemy shooters. The problem was that Darth had much more resources deployed on the flank where I had relatively few shooters. Withdrawing the eagle was probably a mistake as he could have used it attack the war machine. Even frostheart was a better choice here. By charging eagle claw with his entire unit and 3 characters he helped me to slow him down even further.

His Lions could have advanced more aggressively. That always put some pressure on me. In particular that they were toughened often. Of course it was easier for me to let that spell go when I had no chance to get into the fight but it was even more of a reason to move forward and make my decision making more difficult.

Turning towards my units faster and obscuring line of sight to flank shot with frosty or even eagle would have been better in my opinion.

3. Fast cavalry. I think they could have played as reserve instead. If they were kept alive and in second line they would have disrupted the plans further. They could intercept some units or even diver them if needed. I was unlucky with my shooting as being exposed like that they should have died turn 1.

As I have mentioned I made mistakes and I am glad there were no consequences of that.

1. Deployment - if Darth had first turn my left cavalry was in great danger. Lucky me but I should position them better. I also think Archers should be in the tower instead of Sea Guard.

2. Not being aggressive enough. First, Dargon Princes on the right should move further to be able to charge turn two. I was unlucky to fail 6+ charge turn 3 but I waited too long. I didn't have a good plan on the left flank how to tackle big units and only thanks to too careful approach of the enemy I had time to get to the shooters. I didn't use my potential with 3 combat units at all.

3. Exposing flank of the entire formation. Even with the water in between that was probably the most crucial mistake. I need to focus more on the bigger picture as this is yet another example of tunnel vision that I was punished for before. :(

4. Not a mistake but a comment. Ring of Fury - 18" inches is short. Unless this item is on highly mobile hero it is going to be very hard to get it in range if at the same time you have a pedestrian hero that needs to be protected. Or I simply need to play better :)

I would like to thank Darth for great hospitality and great game! I am sure he will get me next time and I hear he is preparing his Ogres to avenge skinny Elves :)

Thanks for reading!

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