Tuesday 14 July 2015

Game 131 - Dark Elves - 2015/03/06

Game 4 - Battle Line - Alex - Dark Elves

First game day 2 and I had a pleasure to play against Alex and his Dark Elves. I am always happy to play against Druchii as it is a guarantee of an interesting game no matter what. There is something that makes HE vs DE battles unique. I am afraid that we migth lose it with joined Elven armies but let's not worry about something that is not there yet.

Alex brought the following list:

Dark Elves - Army List

Morathi - 375 Yay! :)
Assassin, Additional hand weapon, The Other Tricksters Shard, Talisman of Endurance, Dark Venom - 157
Sorceress, level 1, Sivejirs Hex Scroll - 130 - Lore of Metal
Death Hag, BSB, Cry of War - 125

28 Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapon, Full Command - 338
18 Dark Shards, Full Command, Shields - 264
23 Dreadspears, Full Command - 237
23 Dreadspears, Full Command - 237

7 Harpies - 105
Cold One Chariot - 115

2 x Bolt Thrower - 140
Bloodwrack Shrine - 175

Swedish Comp: 15.5
So not the typical shooty avoidance DE with mandatory Pegasus riders :) But it had a lot of great tools against my army so I was excited to see if I can put up a decent fight. Let's have a look at this army with more details:

Morathi - I have never played against DE with Morathi but I knew she is very dangerous. First of all she has some flexibility in choosing her spells. That is a great thing as you can try and pick the spells needed for particular game. She is very well protected against spells herself with 4++ and MR(2). But any type of shooting will be tough to deal with for her as with only 3W and 4++ she might get hunted down quickly. Fortunately, she is flying so she can use cover well and be where she is needed the most. D3 (or D3+1 for Dark Magic) to each spell casting attempt means she can actually cast more spells than your typical level 4 and that means trouble for the opponent! I guess the best way to deal with her is to try and shoot her down if there is a chance and use my own characters to prevent her from landing in some spots where she can be even more dangerous.

Assassin - now that is great addition! He is definitely a character killer with the Shard, 4 Attacks that benefit from re-rolls to hit and re-rolls of 1's to wound as well as very important Killing Blow! I am sure he would immediately go after my characters as soon as there is a chance and it would be very risky indeed to face this superb killer. It will also be important to guess which units he might be hiding in!

Sorceress - Morathi's maid was there to add a little bit to the great choice of spells, provide channeling attempt and ... she also carries Toad Scroll! Now that can be very interesting for my poor level 2 Larry the Loremaster :D

Death Hag - on BSB duty, another vicious killer, at least when facing my fragile army. Her Cry of War can be quite interesting. My troops would need to take Ld5 or Ld6 fear check and that means I may often be WS1 in order to hit that fragile character. I guess it is a little risky but then, with addition of Assassin, she might be well protected anyway. However, having an opportunity I might direct as many attacks as possible and try to get her down anyway.

Corsairs - the biggest regiment of DE army, they can tear my Swordmasters and Lions in no time simply because they have so many attacks to throw at me. They will probably contain some if not all the characters apart from Morathi. Being so big means, however, they will be more easy to divert and slowed down if needed. Flank attacks are a must against them although mounted characters and heavy cavalry can risk frontal assault as S3 is not that of a threat to them.

Dark Shards - one of the priorities for my army. They are very efficient against my troops, heavy cavalry included because of AP and sheer volume of fire power. The good thing is there is only one unit there so they cannot shoot at many targets. I would like to employ my own shooting as I have longer range and number superiority.

Darkspears - they are actually very good against my army. They can go one on one against Swordmasters and Lions and kill them. They will prevail against Archers as they have better armor and hatred gives them advantage. They can hold the charge from heavy cavalry. Depending how Alex is going to distribute his characters these guys can be tough to fight against and that makes it hard to decide which regiment is a priority.

Harpies - great screen and war machine hunters. Fortunately for me there is only one unit of them so I hope to deal with them fast so that they don't interfere with my movement phase.

Cold One Chariot - impact hits are always a problem for Elven infantry and this is yet another unit that can destroy some of my regiments all by its own. Fortunately it is slower and can be intercepted by my mounted characters. But its ability to support infantry cannot be underestimated!

Bolt Throwers - another priority, no need to describe these fantastic war machines any further!

Bloodwrack Shrine - it was another surprise and the first time I faced it. First of all it is a chariot, immediately a problem for me :) Second, it has -1 Ld penalty, a crucial thing in combats and the fact it grants +1 Ld to nearby troops is also important. Special combat and shooting attacks from Medusa are of less threat because they require initiative tests but may still add to the damage. And the shrine itself is T5 so not that easy to be taken down in close combat. On the other hand maybe shooting and magic can help here!

In general I think Alex has the army with magic and combat superiority if considered fights one on one. However, even with his good shooting, he does not have much of a support as single unit of harpies and a chariot might not be enough to stop me from surrounding some of his regiments. It might simply mean he should keep tighter formation and come at me in force! I definitely need to find a way to separate his units as otherwise frontal assaults will be what DE want!

This time I will not talk much about the terrain because as you can see below it was quite open battle field and the terrain didn't add much to the game (sadly).


Classic Civil War
Deployment after vanguards

We both seemed to go for refused flank formation of sorts. It is often good idea against MSU armies because that allows the enemy to keep the formation tight, secure one flank and bring their superior units into one-on-one fights. I didn't want that to happen so I started deploying the units further away. I also wanted to achieve these goals:
- be away from Dark shards in DE first turn to force them to come to me and thus entering the range at which Archers can do some harm
- keep characters at a safe distance from Morathi to avoid 1st turn snipes

Morathi decided to pick her spells from Dark Magic and Lore of Death  and she got: Doombolt, Soulblight, Spirit Leech, Doom and Darkness
Her apprentice took Searing Doom

Surprisingly, Outcasts managed to steal the initiative and they had the first turn.

Outcasts - Turn 1
Advance on the left flank
Dark Shards fight in a shade!

Outcasts seized the initiative and moved forward on the left flank where majority of the forces were deployed. The shooters focused their fire on Darkshards and many DE crossbows fell but the survivors refused to panic. Finally, Larry the Loremaster drew some energy to fry the crew of an enemy bolt thrower. He was visibly taking too much so one of his bodyguards, as instructed by Bob the Battle Standard Bearer, grabbed the magical rod Larry was carrying and banged him in the head. That prevented some dimensional cascade but Larry looked somewhat retarded and it was clear he is not going to cast any more spells that day. Whatever he planned to do materialized as a small fireball that claimed only single crew member. (Edit: I simply managed to miscast, proceeded to roll cascade, used Earthing Rod only to get the result where I lost d3 magic levels and promptly rolled 5 or 6. Who needs magic anyway! :))

Dark Elves - Turn 1
DE start their slow maneuvering
Morathi provides some short display on how magic should have been wielded.

DE infantry started to wheel their formation to face their hated cousins. The shooting was not that impressive and claimed only 2 weakened Dragon Princes. Morathi as always had to do things by herself and with a flick of her fingers nearby reavers died struck by a powerful bolt of doom.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Outcasts reply in kind
And claim Morathi herself!
Outcasts slowed down their advance to draw the chariot into a trap but also to take advantage of a rare opportunity. All the archers shot at Morathi but only a single arrow penetrated the skin of her pegasus. Then the crew of a bolt thrower took careful aim and two of their bolts hit home! Morathi had to save herself and in the last possible moment opened dimensional portal to escape death but it meant she left her army alone! (Edit: Quite unlucky roll for ward saves for Alex where he failed two 4++ rolls to keep Morathi alive)

What is more lordling that was leading nearby cohort of dread spears decided he is not going to fight without his mistress and gave order to withdraw!

Using the opportunity in this confusion among enemy ranks, Noble charges alone against harpies, catches them unaware and a few survivors flee from the battle.

Dark Elves - Turn 2
Chariot tries to counter attack
The rest of DE army continues to advance

Chariot charges Dragon Princes but they retreat to safety. Dread spears didn't rally and the entire flank of DE army collapsed. The rest of the army advances as normal and now exposed noble is killed (Edit: I am not sure but he either died to shooting or magic, as he didn't have wards against flaming attacks and he was vulnerable to Searing Doom).
Outcasts - Turn 3
Outcasts mop up the left flank
Battle for the pass in the making!

Eagle rider charges exposed chariot and his Star Lance is a potent weapon against such a beast. It is broken and destroyed in pursuit. Depleted dragon princes pick the easy target and charge bolt thrower to make sure it is not going to inflict any more damage. Archers and eagle claws kill a few more Dark Shards but as always they don't care about fallen comrades.

Dark Elves - Turn 3
Sorceress flees to the unit of Corsairs

But Dark Shards keep stinging

Corsairs and nearby Dread Spears continue their long advance but this time both units charge Reavers to scary them away. That slows them down however.

Although shooting capabilities of DE army were significantly reduced they still managed to destroy 2 high elven knights.

Outcasts - Turn 4
Can Outcasts get the big guys?
Re-arranging formation

Outcasts move forward in a crescent formation. There are only 2 big threats left, will there be enough time to surround them? Dark Shards were peppered with arrows again and yet again few survivors held their ground.

Dark Elves - Turn 4
Another turn of slow advance
Dark Shards finally withdraw

Corsairs and Spears moved South a little bit but the enemy was too far away to mount a successful attack yet. Dark shards had enough and decided to withdraw, hopefully it is not too late to safe their skins.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Attempt to divide DE forces

Dark Shards are finally gone!
Eagle rider spurred his mount to catch the bolt thrower while the rest of the shooters aimed at retreating dark shards and managed to get them! but the amount of firepower that unit drew against itself was enormous.

Dark Elves - Turn 5
Dreadspears make a long charge
But that divides the units

Dread spears decided to attack Reavers and they managed to reach fast cavalry who decided to hold. But that drew them away from corsairs. Would Outcast risk last turn charge?

Outcasts - Turn 6
Eagle rider charges again
The rest of the army plays it safe
Eagle rider swoops down to claim another victim and last enemy bolt thrower is destroyed. The rest of the army, however, does not risk frontal assault against enemy corsairs and withdraw.

Dark Elves - Turn 6
Poor great eagle takes one for the team
With no other target to destroy Corsairs hunt down the great eagle. After that, two units of DE disengage and withdraw as it is clear they would not be able to catch their hated cousins. This time.

Turn-by-turn summary animation

After-battle thoughts

Many thanks to Alex for a great game! Despite almost no magic I think we had a lot of fun and I am just sorry for your bad luck with Morathi early in the game. No doubt that had a huge impact on the game.

I was very happy to get 14-6 victory from that game but let's have a look at a few situations I think may have worked differently.

I think solo charge with the noble against the harpies was a good call. Unfortunately, I didn't roll well to save him later on but I would still do so as these fliers are very annoying.

I was in general happy with eagle rider as he ate chariot and his speed helped him to reach bolt thrower in time. However, I wonder if I played him too cautiously. After his victory against the chariot I think he should immediately fly towards to bolt thrower. I was worried, though that he might get hit by single bolt as it has happened before. At the same time he still had his golden crown so I guess I was too careful.

Another thing is with reavers who hid behind the hill. They had the opening early in the game and could risk moving at bolt thrower. Sure, they could have panicked due to shooting but I think it would have been a good idea anyway. I didn't need to use them as diverters as Corsairs and spears were too far from my units but the fact they did helped as the enemy moved slower when charges failed.

At the same time it meant I was not in position to surround them at all. Maybe I should have let them move further so that there was a chance to attack from many sides? It was still risky with Dead Hag and Assassin lurking among their ranks. But I need to have a good plan of tackling such big units, MSU is supposed to do that after all so I wonder what should I have done differently to be able to achieve that?

Thanks for reading!

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