Sunday 28 June 2015

Game 116 - Empire - 2014/08/02


Despite lots of work in real life I am very happy to have some regular opportunities to play Warhammer recently. After 2 games against O&G Eastern Barbarian came up with another idea for unorthodox army, this time based on Empire army book. However, I think you may find some similarities to the O&G armies he fielded previously. I will provide the details as soon as I get them, here is the list from the memory.

Empire - Army List

General of the Empire, Griffon, Blood Roar, Full Plate Armor, Lance, Cloak of Ulrik, Charmed Shield
Wizard, level 3, Pegasus, Dragonbane Gem, Trickster Shard - Lore of Death
Captain, Pegasus, Potion of Foolhardiness
Captain, Pegasus
BSB on barder warhorse
Warrior Priest on barded warhorse

10 Crossbwomen
10 Crossbowmen
17 Greatswords
10 Archers
10 Inner Circle Knights
, Full Command
5 Knights

5 Pistoliers
Great Cannon
Great Cannon

Quite a few units, mixed arms setting and full squadron of imperial fliers!

General of the Empire - and his pet griffon Fluffy. Although not particularly exceptional fighter by himself, general of the empire still posed a threat. His 18" inspiring presence range is very helpful. His pet Fluffy probably would do better in combat than him but its Blood Roar was something that can be potentially more dangerous. Taking terror tests on 3d6 and discarding the lowest result sounds like a potential for chain reaction of fleeing. Especially if there is no general and/or bsb nearby.

His weakness lies in no protection for a Griffon so if it is exposed to even S3 shooting it can get hurt. I wanted to use that chance.

Wizard - level 3 Death mage is not good news for me, especially when it flies. The reason is that some of the spells are actually quite dangerous (either to characters or to the units) and it might be hard to dispel them all. In fact, I assumed that I am not going to do so and that I would need to let some in. The lore disadvantage of being short range one (relatively) is significantly negated by the fact that the wizard flies. I had to deal with that threat quickly and not let him land behind my lines. Please, bear in mind that we played with closed lists so I had no idea that he sported 2++ against flaming attacks.

Pegasus Captains - well armored and fast, they significantly add to the threat presented by the Griffon. In fact, if they were to combine their efforts they would comfortable go through any single unit I had. Thus I had to make sure they don't or at least that there is a counter charge ready. They are prime target for searing doom however, if there is opportunity to do so.

BSB - good, old fashioned BSB, probably equipped to survive. With the bodyguards of Inner Circle Knights he can be quite safe but also provide +1 to combat result and keep the line anyway. In fact, as a captain of the empire he allows ICK to test on 3d6 in case things go wrong.

Priest - a very good support character. Hatred allows to avoid rubber lance syndrome and his prayers may add to combats that little edge required to win them or save the Knights.

Inner Circle Knights - I have mentioned them already as BSB and Priest were going to go there for sure. Together they form a good hammer unit but also the one that may hold the line by neglecting the wounds. 1+ armor can often do wonders. Together with flying fighters they pose a fast threat to my infantry units and can also comfortably challenge cavalry.

Knights - 5 more knights as a supporting unit. Although 5 S5 attacks on the charge does not sound like the biggest threat ever, they have to be taken care of. Timely flank charge from that unit can destroy my fragile battle line. Can be comfortable sacrificed too if some staying power is needed.

Pistoliers - last of the cavalry units, Pistoliers are often overlooked in the favor of Outriders. I still like them because they are fast and can keep shooting while moving. Multiple shots may be less accurate but these are still S4 AP ones. Another unit I have to quickly deal with and not let to sneak behind my lines.

Greatswords - haven't seen these guys for a while. Stubborn and S5 means they can be a good anvil even if 17 is not huge number. Perfect for my small units but I would still bet my money on Swordmasters if both units clash with each other. If they can cooperate with cavalry and fliers you can arrange a very good battle line with fliers swooping to the flank, knights charging headlong and greatswords being a rear guard or second wave.

Crossbowmen and Archers - small arms fire is always needed. They are average of course but if focusing their fire they can be very dangerous. And if not taken care of can be more than annoying. The challenge is to get to them with combat troops while avoiding the enemy interceptors as well as do it so quickly so the same regiments can get back and help with the rest of the enemy units.

Cannons - I don't have many suitable targets for the cannons but they are dangerous because while positioning regiments I have to constantly pay attention not to expose the flanks. That slows my down significantly. In a similar fashion as with other shooters I need to get to them quickly.

Luminark and Hurricanum - I observed Hurricanum to be more often fielded by Empire generals so seeing both carts was a surprise. Both are very good support. First, they are chariots and as such can be great help in combat, especially against troops with higher initiative. Their special skills are also handy. Hurricanum gives +1 to hit. Fantastic buff, especially combined with hatred. +1 to power dice and +1 to dispel dice is also very helpful. Bound spell from Luminark acts like a mobile laser cannon and that also can be very useful.

In general, I faced the army that seems to be faster than mine due to fliers and good cavalry units. 2 chariots add to the flexibility of the attack as they can either help cavalry and fliers with longer charge range or support greatswords. Coordination of the troops with different speed is required but if achieved can be devastating. In addition to that there is dangerous magic used by highly mobile wizard as well as good but not overpowered shooting that cannot be ignored. There are also enough units to challenge my MSU and deny me my advantages during the deployment phase.

Here is the army list I took this time, few changes in comparison to the games against O&G:

Outcasts - Army List

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

18 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
12 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Musician
12 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Musician
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard of Discipline
10 White Lions, Musician, Gleaming Pennant
5 Shadow Warriors
Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower
Great Eagle
5 Sisters of Avelorn

This time I took Star Lance hero although I decided to do so before I knew I am going to play against Empire. Obviously it is a good weapon against all these 1+ armor saves. I came back to Shadow Warriors, I think they are great and want to learn how to use them. I also added more Swordmasters, I just think I need more of them :)

I didn't take Ring of Fury as last time as I think the range is not that great for a pedestrian character. I am still pondering on the book. Yes, it did help me sometimes to keep the magic phase going but I guess I need to make notes on what and when it really helped. I probably would need to ask my opponents if in their opinion that item is such a massive difference.

I was looking forward to that game because with so many units the situation would be very dynamic and changeable. Natural advantage of having more units is negated by similar number and greater speed of the enemy. Some one-on-one combats were desirable some not so and it would be interesting to see who can win the upper hand in the movement game.

Deployment after vanguard move

I managed to stop Pistoliers from making a vanguard move with Shadow Warriors and I was very happy with it. It potentially created some problems on that flank. I wanted to use the cover of the hill to advance safe from cannons and shooters as well as create double line to prevent safe landing zones. That allows to move fast with the first line and do not be passive.

I hid Eagle Claw from cannons but the prize was limited visibility and not being able to reach to all targets. I detached 3 units to the left flank, Dragon princes, Reavers and White Lions with Gleaming Pennant to either avoid the enemy and charge the weaker shooting flank or engage Greatswords with 2 units of my own.

Will that plan work? :)

Empire Wizard had: Spirit Leach, The Caress of Laniph, The Fate of Bjuna

I was lucky to win the roll off and got the first turn!

Outcasts - Turn 1
Elves move forward

Majority of the elven forces took the shelter behind the hill on the right flank, with some of the regiments appealing in the woods on the top if it.

Larry the Loremaster attacks first. His Burning Gaze goes through the magical defenses of the imperial wizard and he is saved only by his dragonbane gem. He is still wounded though. Iceshard blizzard is deflected but that was all human mage could do after losing his magical focus. Larry tried spirit leach then but it seems confused mind of his adversary was better armor as he could not find the path to the consciousness of the human. 

Elven shooters picked their targets. Shadow Warriors unhorsed two pistoliers but their companions held the line. Then sea guard, Sisters and Archers all aimed at dangerously exposed General of Empire. His armor saved him more than once but Fluffy the Griffon was pinched in a butt and gave away roar of annoyance.

Empire - Turn 1
Empire advances

Empire troops advanced mainly through the center but even there not at the full speed. On the left flank lone captain flew towards Eagle Claw. All he had to do now was to dodge incoming bolts.

Greatswords chased reavers from the woods and that allowed Crossbowmen to pick two of the elven fast cavalry. Both cannons killed dragon prince each and crossbowmen in the house aimed at sisters in front of them. White Lions lost two of their numbers to the laser cannon.

Then Empire Wizard prepared to attack Larry the Loremaster and take revenge for the previous assault. He first used his magic item to curse Elven general if he attempted to try and dispel any of his magic. Then he channeled all his power into single spell and the Loremaster could do nothing to even deflect the deadly Caress of Laniph. Luckily for him it only resulted in a single wound. Empire wizard struggled to control the magical feedback as the powerful side effect was dimensional cascade that started to build up in front of him. With the last effort he shot it down with a blast that fortunately didn't harm him. But he was now very exposed and he didn't kill his adversary.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Death of the Wizard

Swordmasters on the right charged Pistoliers who decided it is time to perform tactical retreat. Warriors of Hoeth tried to reach the lone captain but were too slow. A little confusion on the way blocked the Noble too, who hoped to attack the captain for his personal glory.

Larry the Loremaster ordered his Lions to move forward to fill the gap and prevent counter charging by empire captain. The rest of the regiments pulled back to create a dead zone for the enemy fliers.

All these orders giving made Larry very tired and he failed to cast his first spell even when frantically searching for remedy in his book. (Edit: Got my mandatory double 1 to cast first spell and failed to get high enough re-roll :))

It was up to the shooters then to inflict some damage. Sea Guard didn't disappoint here. They aimed carefully and empire wizard, now exposed and without significant protection, was shot down from the skies.

Sisters and Archers didn't want to be worse in that competition and managed to wound Fluffy the Griffon twice this time! The beast was now bleeding and losing its strength.

Unfortunately, Eagle Claw failed to wound the captain although it hit him with a single bolt!

Empire - Turn 2

Clearly imperial troops believed that the best defense is offense. Captain on the left didn't wait for another chance and attacked eagle claw, destroying the war machine.

Blood combat erupted in the forest where Lions stood against Greatswords and Hurricanum, whose driver was crazy enough to storm his chariot through the woods. It did only single impact hit though. Lions hit hard, killing 5 imperial troopers but they hit harder, all lions died to great swords!

General of the Empire made a very bold decision to charge the Archers but his griffon was too weak to make such a long swoop and Inner Circle Knights had to move fast to protect their general.

On the right flank captain and knights charged against Lions and Loremaster but some miscommunication resulted in a poorly coordinated attack and only captain made it. Loremaster and Lions tried hard to kill him before he attacked but inflicted only 2 wounds all together. Captain gulped his potion but somehow managed to miss with all his attacks and only his pegasus wounded Larry the Loremaster. Elven general was badly wounded but still alive. Captain held his ground but it was just postponing the inevitable.

Cannon crew somehow picked up the Eagle behind the house and managed to land a perfect shot on big bird, leaving pile of bloody feathers. That spooked nearby archers who fled. Also reavers in the forest were somehow unnerved by the loss of one of their companion and fled as well.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Pushing on the right flank!
Noble was eager to use his brand new lance against worthy target and charged the imperial knights. He managed to kill two on the charge but they stubbornly refused to flee.

On the other flank Dragon Princes spotted the greatswords and flank charge hurricanum. The driver, however, decided to pull his cart out of danger and managed to avoid treacherous branches. Elven Knights redirected to the crossbowmen but failed to make contact.

Brave captain died for his troubles while Larry the Loremaster managed to use the magic of the forest to protect his unit and heal himself.

Empire - Turn 3
Empire strikes back!

Inner Circle Knights level their lances and charge. Reavers, confident that there is not enough space for the enemy to attack Swordmasters, retreat. However, that opens the path to the Archers and the Knights use that opportunity. Archers hold and stand and shoot. Due to charge through the lake 3 knights in total are lost but the rest make short work of unarmored elves and the unit is destroyed. Victorious knights reform.

General of the Empire makes a bold but maybe foolish decision to charge the Swordmasters. He tries to challenge but nobody replies and Fluffy the Griffon is quickly killed. The general holds the line but it seems his fate is sealed.
Outcasts - Turn 4
Elves hit hard again

It is time for the Elves to charge. Sea Guard and Swordmasters attack the knights. Imperial armor is really thick and one of the knights survives but the pressure is too high to hold the line again. Elves reform and do not pursue.

Dragon Princes on both flanks charge and destroy their targets.

Larry the Loremaster unhorses 3 more knights with searing doom and the proud unit is down to bsb, priest and command group only. Despite that Swordmasters do not pursue Empire General. He was given a chance to die honorably in a single combat with the Bladelord but failed to kill his adversary and fled.

Empire - Turn 4
Empire withdraws

When the only cannon misfired and failed to kill Elven noble, the barely general gave to order to retreat and save whatever regiments were left from the annihilation. The victorious Elves simply reformed and watched fleeing human army.


Turn-by-turn summary animation

After-battle thoughts

EB decided there is no purpose in continuing the game and conceded. I guess he was right that he had no resources to fight back. The cannon was as good as dead, crossbowmen on the left were surrounded, the carts were scattered and the knights didn't pose enough thread. Not to mention that poor general was a sitting duck there.

Looking at the game from his point of view I am surprised with a few decision of his. EB played very well previous time and some of the things he used to protect his Wyverns would work here too. Instead, he carelessly exposed his general and wizard for magic and shooting. Grievous mistake as you could see. Even when I failed to make anything of my magic phase turn 2 I could still direct Sea Guard fire at exposed mage. It was not only easier to cast my own spells from now on but my characters were safe from the dead magic.

The advance of the troops seem to be uncoordinated and slow. The Knights could have moved fast forward, angling a little to the hill to threaten the units there. I had no ranks in the forest either so that also helped. Griffon could fly behind to get hard cover.

However, I think the deployment could have been better. With shooters closer to the line and central he would have had better chance to focus on single target and compensate for some poor rolls he had. Then keep his combat units together to support each other, maybe with greatswords and luminark detached to the refused flank for protection. With all 4 flying characters in the center he can redeploy and push where it is better for him. Or even if they were where they were they should be in the second wave, protected from shooting and magic and able to swoop down on a single target together.

All the above helped me to win the game for sure. I was still concerned with the crowd I created on the right flank. I forgot to move shadow warriors as initial plan was to shoot with sea guard at pistoliers and remove them from the game entirely. fortunately they didn't pose the threat but that was a mistake that should not have happened.

I underestimated Greatswords. I thought Lions would hold and I had a chance to flank them down. But I don't think I had enough resources there. What is more, I think I should have played defensively there and threaten pegasus captain with the heavy cavalry charge as well asl pull back the lions and have them ready to distract the knights.

Few more mistakes during the game that should not have happened. I positioned reavers and sisters for double flee but I didn't notice that by doing so I opened the path to archers. What I should have done was to hold with reavers and keep sisters in the building. That would allow to prepare counter attack on the knights or have sisters ready to jump out and block them again. Positioning of the eagle should have been discussed with EB first as I would have made sure he was not visible. Fortunately for me it didn't create a disastrous chain of panic checks but it should not have happened in the first place.

I hope you enjoyed the report! There might be a rematch at some stage, who knows!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Hey Mr. Swordmaster!

    Sorry it's been a while. Life changes and travel has been keeping me busy (with no end in sight!), but I wanted to check in with you!

    Loved the report. Some questionable decisions from your opponent regarding characters for sure, but I do see where he is coming from a bit with the death wizard. For death wizards to have maximum impact, they must be very close (putting them on the edge of death themselves often!). They are a very high risk, high reward model. You played fantastically, I do think that getting the inner circle and characters would have been very doable with different placement of your units but that is really my only critique.

    I really enjoy your newish list! Mounted noble and shadow warriors are great additions that have so much utility. I'm sure you'll be pleased with their impact.

    I'm curious to hear your take on Age of Sigmar. I will be attending an AoS event at the GW U.S. Headquarters in Memphis tomorrow, and I'll be sure to tell you my impression. My initial take is that it is a fun ruleset but no good for tournament play at all. It will take a good deal of comping and play testing to make a useable tournament system. I have been thoroughly enjoying Warmahordes which has a great competitive/tournament scene and is a great game (fluff included) as well. So even if that side of "new warhammer" doesn't come together, I'll still be able to go to tournaments which is a part of the hobby I e missed.

    I do think AoS will have a part to play in my overall wargaming hobby. It's just a matter of accepting the new direction and the pros and cons of the system overall.

    Hope you are well!

    1. Hi Dan,

      Good to have you back!

      My brother seems to somehow fall into the same pattern. He has many new ideas for the army lists, then his first game is usually something crazy, with silly decisions. Then he comes back and plays much better and you can really tell he learned from his mistakes. It seems to be his way, he plays many games, many systems and many armies and it simply may get confusing. Of course I would prefer him not to make these silly moves as I then have to spend time listening to his complaints :D

      As to Age of Sigmar I am in general confused. I was very skeptical when I read the core rules. I am not after skirmish system and it does feel sad to have the Old Warhammer world destroyed. I like some rules in the war scrolls and they made me interested for the first time.

      I think I will try to make a separate blog entry about my initial impressions of AoS so maybe we can have a more detailed discussion there!

      As always, many thanks for your comments!