Tuesday 7 July 2015

Game 123 - Vampire Counts - 2014/12/12

Game 1 - Dustin - Vampire Counts - Dawn Attack

After 2 months break in gaming I finally had a chance to play some warhammer at a small local tournament. It is a side event run in parallel to Australian Masters so in addition to fun associated with playing your own games one could also have a glimpse at Masters battles. In fact, MiniMe was 5 games and Masters is 6 games event so all who wanted to stay longer could observe the last turn of that prestigious tournament.

MiniMe is also organized as a practice tournament for a much bigger event, CanCon, that was going to take place by the end of January 2015. 

The main things about the pack are that it uses Swedish Comp in 10-16 brackets and uses the difference to modify the game result. The difference in composition score is multiplied by 150VP and that bonus is added to the victory points earned by the player with the softer army. In theory it may mean that if player A has an army with a score 10 and player B with a score 16 then player B adds 900VP to his victory points as a bonus.

In the first round of the tournament I was pitched against Vampire Counts led by Dustin. He chose a classical force with hordes of infantry, backed up by the characters and with an addition of a few support units. We also used Dawn Attack scenario as described in a rulebook. This scenario has a potential of affecting the initial plans significantly where the units may be not be deployed where the player really wanted them to be.

Vampire Counts - Army List

Vampire Lord, Level 3, Shield, Heavy Armor, Talisman of Preservation, Ogre Blade, Other Trickster's Shard, Quickblood - Lore of Vampires
Necromancer, Level 1, Book of Arkhan - Lore of Vampires
Necromancer, Level 1, Staff of Damnation - Lore of Vampires
Vampire, Level 1, Additional Weapon, Armor of Destiny, Quickblood, Dread Knight - Lore of Shadow
Wight King, Battle Standard Bearer, Enchanted Shield, Talisman of Endurance

40 Ghouls
27 Skeletons, Full Command, Banner of Swiftness
5 Dire Wolves
5 Dire Wolves

40 Grave Guards, Musician, Banner of Barrows

I took the following army list:

Outcasts - Army List

Archmage, level 4, Earthing Rod, Obsidian Lodestone - Lore of Heavens
BSB, Dragon Armor, Shield of the Merwyrm, Golden Crown of Atrazar, Sword of Might 
Noble, Great Eagle, Heavy Armor, Shield, Lion Cloak, Star Lance, Potion of Foolhardiness, Dragonhelm, Pidgeon Plucker Pendant
Noble, Great Eagle, Dragon Armor, Lance, Potion of Strength, Enchanted Shield, Dawnstone 

15 Archers, Full Command
6 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Herald, Bows, Spears
6 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Herald, Bows, Spears
15 Spearelves, Full Command

5 Dragon Princes, Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame
5 Dragon Princes, Musician
10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord
10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord
10 White Lions, Musician, Guardian

Eagle Claw
Eagle Claw
Great Eagle
Ok, let's have a look at the army Dustin brought to the tournament in more detail:

Vampire Lord - General of the army and the highest level caster. With S7 and ASF he is definitely a dangerous opponent in close combat. However, he is on foot and has "only" 4++ ward save against S6 or higher strength attacks. That does not make him vulnerable but he is not perfectly safe either. If he stays in a unit the best way to get rid of him is by static combat result.

Necromancers - they provide good bound items and a chance to get the right spells, even multiple invocations are great for infantry based army as they help to replenish the inevitable casualties and soak up the damage.

Vampire - level 1 shadow is an interesting option here and I think the lore attribute can be very helpful if the Vampire Lord is in trouble or when his presence is required in a unit that is led by his thrall. Good fighter too and 4++ ward helps to deal with some higher strength attacks too.

Wight King - it is a solid character and his Killing Blow ability can be handy. The face that nearby troops crumble one less wound due to his presence does not sound as a significant advantage but that 1 wound less can be crucial.

Ghouls - their combat potential is significant due to poisonous and numerous attacks. Their main weakness is lack of armor, mitigated a little by T4. If attacking in full strength and with the Vampire among their ranks then can be very dangerous. I have learned, however, they can die quickly to aggressive charges from few directions at the same time, preferably without engaging from the front.

Dire Wolves - very good support but the fact there are only 2 packs of these makes them less dangerous. Ellyrian Reavers can comfortably hunt them down with their bows.

Skeletons - character bunker usually, I expected them to form a rearguard. The fact they can provide ranks is not to be underestimated as the attack from the flank with that unit can easily break any of my regiments. As any other infantry in VC army they are also vulnerable to multiple charges and Swordmasters or Spearelves can engage them one on one too.

Grave Guard - heavy hitters of the army. With banner of barrows they will hit on 3+ against rank and file and even my nobles as they are only WS6. S6 is enough of a threat but they have Killing Blow ability that can harm my characters (although Eagle Riders are immune). Should not be engaged from the front unless attacked from all sides. Preferably softened by magic and shooting in the meantime.

Terrorgheist - anti armor monster and priority for shooting and magic. Can devastate my small units all by itself thanks to scream attack and against infantry, thanks to thunderstomp. But engaged by cavalry and characters may not survive for long so I would need to attack it quickly or at least wound it to limit the scream potential.

In general it is the army that can deal significant damage but as it has fewer units and is infantry based I believe I had a good chance to win against them as I have tools to outmaneuver it. Magic will be hard to stop but if I deal with 3 support units (wolves and terrorgheist) fast I should be able to isolate the infantry blocks and mount multiple charges.

Before Vanguard
After Vanguard
Deployment of the armies after vanguard moves
I apologize for not showing VC characters in their chosen colors in the legend. It is the first time I prepared one and it still takes time to create one (but I am sure I will find a way to do so in a more efficient way).

Respective wizards had the following spells:

Vampire Lord - Invocation of Nehek, Hellish Vigour, Rise Dead
Necromancer - VanHel's Danse Macabre
Necromancer - Invocation of Nehek
Vampire - Miasma

Archmage - Iceshard, Thunderbolt, Comet

I didn't roll a 6 and was not able to steal the initiative so Dustin proceeded to his turn 1!

Vampire Counts - Turn 1
Undead horde move through the river ...

... which happens to be the river of light!

The minions of the Vampire Lord were ordered forward and forward they moved. The shambling hordes entered the river without question, even when the waters started to glow with magical light. However, instead of banishing them back to the graves the power of the river seemed to invigorate restless dead even further.

Content with this turn of events, Vampire Lord started to rise more dead and a small pack of mindless corpses clawed their way out to the surface and started to shamble towards the Elven lines.

Outcasts - Turn 1
Dragon Princes charge!

Please note that noble N2 moved behind White Lions - apologies for the inaccuracy in a map

Spotting the opening in the enemy lines Dragon Princes charged through the zombies as if they were not there and kept the momentum of the attack to carry them into the flank of the pack of dire wolves. What is more, that seemingly reckless charge meant the nearby ghouls would be slowed down in their march. (Edit: I knew I would be charged the following turn but my aim was to destroy dire wolves and prevent ghouls from moving forward with the aid of their spells)

At the same time the rest of the Elven army kept moving around the flanks in their favorite double-pincer maneuver. All the shooters aimed at Terrorgheist ignoring closer targets but the beast was unharmed.

Vampire Counts - Turn 2
Undead do not stop ...
... but the coherence of their formation starts to collapse

Vampire Lord charges Dragon Princes, infuriated that mere mortals dare to oppose his plans. Before he strikes they manage to hunt down all the wolves from the pack. Vampire Lord kills three of the knights himself but remaining two do not yield despite being surrounded by the horde of ghouls.

Vampire Thrall is ordered to push forward at a double and his regiment moves even faster thanks to the aid of the necromantic magic. At the same time Terrorgheist flies to hunt down some knights on his own. Another three fall from the saddles when the piercing scream kills them outright but their companions are determined to pin the monster long enough for other troops to come to their aid.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Setting up a trap
Dragon Princes keep fighting!

Dragon Princes on the hill charge Terrorgheist and wound it badly although one of the knights is dragged down and only a standard bearer remains. His companion from the second Claw (Edit: This is a cool name for a unit of Dragon Princes borrowed from ET: Khaine book :)) miraculously survived the combat against Vampire Lord and stubbornly held the line all by himself!

On the left flank one of the Eagle Riders swooped down and skewered another pack of dire wolves. Finally, the Archmage called a comet and its shadow started to loom over the battlefield.

Vampire Counts - Turn 3

Dragon Princes die ...

... but their sacrifice will not be in vein

Vampire Thrall chases off pesky eagle but decided to make a stand where he was as it seemed that Elves positioned their units precisely and the momentum of the charge would have carried his regiment towards empty space.

More zombies were raised to stop Elven forces while last of the Dragon Princes died in heroic battle. They fought bravely and they will be avenged.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Grave Guard is no more

The power of coordinated multiple charge attack

No less than six units charges Grave Guard from three sides in perfect unison. Only archers are late to the party but it does not matter as the fate of the elite undead regiment is sealed. One of the champions from the fast cavalry sworn-hosts (Edit: Another cool name from ET: Khaine!) challenged Vampire Thrall and was mercilessly slain. But the charge was so powerful that only few Grave Guards hit back before all of them turned to dust, Vampire Thrall among them.

Another noble on his faithful feathery mount attacked wounded Terrorgheist. Nearby Spearelves rushed to aid him and together they destroyed the beast before it has a chance to strike back. Vampire Lord was truly furious.

Vampire Counts - Turn 4
Vampire Lord attempts to attack ...
... but fails

Vampire Lord orders his minions to attack Spearelves but that regiment withdraws to safety. Undead general redirects to the new target, White Lions, but ghouls are not fast enough to move in the waters and cannot reach their new target. In the meantime, the Necromancers use their powers to move away from the Elves and the area where the comet might fall.

Outcasts - Turn 4
Elven infantry is unnaturally static

Comet drops down - finally!

Fast Elven troops move swiftly to the right flank to intercept zombies. They are shot at but there are too many to finish them off with arrows alone.

Finally the comet drops down and it nicks the rearmost rank of ghoul horde. The rest of the group does not even notice.

Vampire Counts - Turn 5
Solo charge by Vampire Lord ...

... a risky move
Vampire Lord, frustrated with the slowness of his remaining troops, decided to attack all by himself but he too fails to reach White Lions! Necromancers, feeling safer without the comet as a threat, try to come back to the fight and close the distance to Elven regiment.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Closing in for a kill again

But will that be fast enough to catch ghouls?

Elven troops move at a double to catch ghouls abandoned by their master. Spearelves move towards ghouls as well but are able to avoid the attention of Vampire Lord. Elven Archmage tries to call upon the power of celestial forces and calls in the mighty thunderbolt but fails to harm the Vampire.

Vampire Counts - Turn 6
Last attempt to attack fails!

Will zombies slow down the Elves and safe ghouls?

Vampire Lord charges last time but White Lions withdraw to leave him in the waters alone. That maneuver confuses nearby Ellyrian Reavers who decided to withdraw as well. Vampire Lord orders ghouls to attack Spearelves but as he does not move fast enough they don't know what to do and stumble in the waters confused. (Edit: Dustin didn't roll enough for VL charge to move away and to open the path for ghouls to charge so they failed too)

In desperation, new group of Zombies is raised to stop Swordmasters from charging the rear of ghoul horde. Will that be enough though?

Outcasts - Turn 6
Ghouls didn't escape the wrath of the Elven army

Spearelves and Eagle Riders charged ghouls from front and rear. At the same time Swordmasters broke through zombies and one of the regiments had enough of momentum to carry it into the ghouls rear too. With such a powerful charge no ghouls survived and another undead horde turned to dust.

As a last act of the battle, Elven Archmage one more called upon the power of the Thundrbolt but once again the dark gods saved Vampire Lord who escaped from the battlefield with just a handful of skeletons and his servants.

Turn-by-turn Summary

I was inspired by Hobby Fiend himself, Mr. Hoodling, to add this simple gif as a summary of the turns and I must say I really like that little "animation" of the battle evolution. I also wanted to thank Mr. Hoodling for his great help in tackling the challenge of exporting the legend describing the regiments from Battle Chronicler!
Turn-by-turn battle evolution

After-battle thoughts

First of all I would like to thank Dustin for a great game and accepting the loss with a good grace. He did what he could but it seems that his magic failed him this game as he could not cast many spells when he needed them. A few better rolls for charges would see his ghouls and Vampire Lord in a better position too. River of Light didn't help him to move towards my lines faster either but fortunately he avoided any potential banishments.

I was obviously very happy with the outcome, even more so that I achieved the victory thanks to two good combats in particular. I was happy to destroy wolves and terrorgheist quickly.

I think Dustin was a little bit too eager with his Grave Guard as he pushed them towards my lines with the spell and that helped me to surround them while his other units were too far to help. I wonder if he could reform them better to be able to survive that combined charge.

Placing zombies to slow down my units was a very good idea but again, I wonder if different angling of these units would have not been possible so that any potential overrun didn't lead to attack on another target. As it was zombies didn't slow me down at all and maybe even helped me to reach more juicy targets.

I really liked the speed of Eagle Riders and thanks to that I was able to destroy terrorgheist, for example.

I made one big blunder during the game though. Somehow I understood the announcement during my turn 4 that we are running out of time. As it happened, there were plenty of it left to finish 6 turns but I didn't move my units thinking there is no need to do so anyway. As a result I was almost too late to catch the ghouls. Of course I was not able to move as fast as possible due to the comet that didn't want to fall down when I needed but still, that was a silly mistake.

I hope you enjoyed the report and thanks for reading!

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