Tuesday 21 July 2015

Game 137 - Empire - 2015/06/09


On 4th/5th July there ws a tournament called Gronkcon, here is the link to the relevant topic at wargamerau:

Gronkcon 2015

It is an unique tournament and the organizers encourage interesting army lists but also you score points by fulfilling scenario objectives and achievements only. If you are interested in details about the scenarios, here is the players pack:

Gronkcon - Player's Pack

and the list of achievements (although it may still be subject to changes):

Gronkcon - Achievement's List

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend that tournament but a very good friend of mine and Ulthuan.net own Darth Sabre, is going to be there. Since we tried to schedule another game between us it was a good idea to allow me to have a taste of Gronckon experience and provide some practice for Darth who decided to field Empire army this time. He even wrote a piece of background so with further ado here is the story and the army list!

Darth's Empire - Background

The sun will slowly set on the 8th Age, some say the golden
age, and the dawn of the 9th Age will arrive. At the end, the
Last Battle will be fought on the slopes of Shayal Gronk and
there will be merriment, shenanigans and questionable
behaviour. A champion will emerge to lead those that remain
into an enlightened new glorious era.

Prophesies of the Gronk
Author Unknown
(Believed to be a drunken shell of a man sprawled
over a Macca's bench after a night out with the

Darth Franz gazed down the escarpment, open plains stretched before him with tall grass rippling in the wind, forests and thickets to both the east and west. In the distance he could see the slopes of Shayol Gronk, his destination. He had been strangely drawn to his place, a sense of longing, a sense of destiny had overtaken him these last few months. He had battled his way across the old world, fought army upon army from the Forces of Destruction, witnessed the death of many friends and heard rumours of the death of so many hero’s and champions of the Old World. But here he would seek his revenge. He turned and looked over his shoulder at the pitiful remnants of his once mighty army, the End Times (“Fuck the End Times Bro”) had been brutal. The once mighty Empire, guardians of the Old World, was almost destroyed, shattered, broken and scattered across the lands.

But where there was life there was hope and he would fight to his last breath, the revenge he sought was close, so close he could almost taste it. At his side stood Von Thrillhelm, his trusted bodyguard. “At last we arrive my friend, what do you think awaits us?”

“Who knows bro, it surely can’t be any worse than what we have faced these last few months” replied Von Thrillhelm.

“I am not so sure, there seems so many new foul creatures walking these lands recently, its truly seems the end approaches.” A violent gust of wind almost knocks him from his feet. Darth screams aloud, “F*** Goldmember how many times have I told you not to land that flying fleeball so close to me”. Silently to himself he murmur’s “and why would any Lord of the Empire ride a flying horse when there are Griffons to ride…”.

Goldmember ignored him, he long ago gave up caring what others thought. “Chill out Darth dude… I have scouted the lands to the west of Shayol Gronk … It doesn’t look good bro … lots of nasty shit out there man, daemons, vampires, chaos everywhere, jees man I even saw beastman…. who would have thought beastman would roam these lands again ... you may be leading us to our death bro.”

Before he could reply a band of soldiers lead by curious looking little man appeared from the forest to the left of him. Marius Maximus and his Huntsman had returned from their scouting trip of the eastern forests surrounding Shayol Gronk.

“What do you have to report Marius” asked Darth.

“My lord, my lord I have lots to report, so much to report, oh my lord it is splendid, so splendid. So many monsters we saw, so so so many - there is much sport to be had.” Marius squawked. God help me thought Darth, he couldn’t quite remember the last monster Marius and his little band had actually killed. He was beginning to think the legendary monster killer was a myth but he would see.

“Yes Marius, lots of monsters – wonderful for you – but have you found us a safe path to Shayol Gronk – that was your mission.”  Darth asked wearily.

“oh yes my lord, oh yes my lord, Marius has found a path. To the east lies many elven encampments, it appears they have landed on the beaches and made their way inland. The whole of Ulthuan seems to be camped down there to be honest my Lord… not that they
have anywhere else to go … ha ha ha ha ha… we can go that way and approach Shayol Gronk from the east.” Marius replied.

Goldmember added “So it seems the forces of destruction from the west and forces of good from the east with the last battle to happen around Shayol Gronk… as the legend prophesises – time for me to make more gold – ha ha ha ha ha”. He promptly mounted his Pegasus and flew away.

Darth turns to Von Thrillhelm. “Looks like our path has been found, once more into the breach my friend. Our pitiful band looks outmatched here, a psychopathic wizard with a penchant for turning things to gold, a mad monster hunter who doesn’t seem to be able to hit the side of a barn from 10 metres and a small band of weary soldiers.”

Von Thrillhelm continues to stare at Shayol Gronk and mutters “What are you going to do bro, what are you going to do….”

Darth's Empire - Army List

Darth Franz  (Unascended - F*** End Times Bro): Deathclaw 555
The Reikland Runefang; The Silver Seal; full plate armour,
Infantry (Special Character); Hold the Line!; Immune to Psychology; Leader of Men
Deathclaw : Monster; Bloodroar; Fly; Large Target; Loyal Beast; Terror
(AKA: Karl Franz, the Emperor)

Kakwah Goldmember, The Supreme Physco: Imperial Pegasus 375
Level 4 Wizard; Lore of Metal; hand weapon; Amulet of Sea Gold; Cloak of Molten Metal; Staff of Volans
Monstrous Cavalry (Special Character); Loremaster (Lore of Metal)
Imperial Pegasus: Iron-harf Hooves; Swift as the Wind Monstrous Beast; Fly
(AKA: Balthazar Gelt, the Supreme Patriarch)

Mad Marius Maximus Meridius. Gronksmarshall of the Empire 140
The Amber Bow; hand weapon
Infantry (Special Character); Hatred (Monsters); Immune to Psychology; Monster Hunter; Scouts;
Wulfhart's Hunters
(AKA: Markus Wulfhart, Huntsmarshal of the Empire)

Ludwig Von Thrillhelm, The Emperors Colossus: Barded Warehorse 185
Sword of Justice; full plate armour; The Emperor's Standard
Cavalry (Special Character); The Emperor's Bodyguard; The Emperor's Herald
(AKA: Ludwig Schwartzhelm, the Emperor's Champion)

The Emperor’s Guard: 9 Inner Circle Knights: FCG; Steel Standard; lances, shields, full plate armour; barding 290
The Wolf’s Guard: 10 Empire Knights: FCG; great weapons full plate armour, barding;
The Golden Shield: 15 Halberdiers: halberds; light armour shields; mus; std 125

The Emperor’s Hammer: 5 Demigryph Knights: FCG; Banner of Swiftness; lances; full plate armour; barding; shields 335
Monstrous Cavalry; Fear; Armour Piercing
Max’s Huntsman: 15 Wulfhart's Hunters: FCG; hand weapons; bows; 195
Infantry; Immune to Psychology; Monster Hunters; Scouts; Skirmishers

The Fire of Heaven: Celestial Hurricanum 130
The Emperor’s Dragons: Helblaster Volley Gun 120

Army Total: 2700

I would like to add that Kakwah, Maximus and Thrillhelm are all tournament organizers of the event :)

There are many special characters in this list so I took some time to check what their special abilities are, hopefully finding a weakness to exploit.

Karl Franz - The leader of men, his special abilities make him really good at inspiring the troops. Ld 10 and 18" range or even 24" if mounted on Griffon or Dragon! He is also Immune to Psychology so he will definitely lead by example. But he should not be ignored as a threat in combat either. This time he has his Runefang that wounds automatically and allows no armor save. That is a powerful weapon even considering average for a lord level Weapon Skill. In addition, his loyal Dethclaw can punch too. Blood Roar is already a problem as it forces the enemy to take terror test on 3d6 and you discard the lowest result. Some troops may flee before the combat even starts! Deathclaw has 5 S6 attacks at WS6 so together they can do a lot of damage, especially adding some t-stomps. Karl Franz is also sporting MR(2) and 4++ so casting spells at him may not be the best idea.

In this case shooting should be the solution. Even archers can score some wounds against the griffon and wounded beast can be finished before it has a chance to strike back. Of course it is easier said than done because I am sure he would seek any cover before striking terror into the hearts of Elven warriors.

Balthazar Gelt - Supreme patriarch is a Loremaster so no need to roll for spells. Metal magic can be a powerful weapon but my heavy cavalry is well protected against it. On the other hand, Golden Hounds may be an issue for Larry as his protections goes "only" to 3++ instead of 2++ against flaming attacks. I know Final Transmutation is quite a popular spell and it may affect my troops too. With additional bonus of +2 to cast spells Baltazar can be quite efficient.

He is very well protected against normal shooting with 3++ ward save. However, magic can be dangerous as his MR deepens on how many wizards are present in the enemy force. In this game he will have only MR(1) and I will seek an opportunity to provide some warm welcome in the form of a well placed fireball :)

Marcus Wulfheart and Huntsmen - he is a hunter and likes to hunts monsters. Not good news for Bob and his new pet Griffon. His Amber Bow always wounds monsters on 4+ and inflicts d3 wounds. In addition, he can bring his own company of Huntsmen who can always shoot at a monster and ignore the rider. Re-rolling "to hit" rolls when shooting at it too! At least they have S3 bows only. As they are scouts I would need to make sure to hide my BSB well so that they cannot target him turn 1. An interesting thing is that Marcus and his hunters are Immune to Psychology and as such cannot flee. That may be a problem for the scouts and I will look for a chance to exploit that too.

Ludwig Schwartzhelm - BSB of the army. He is a great help for the Emperor in terms of leading the army and holding it together. With Ld10 from Karl Franz in 24" and his 18" area of influence combined with small and compact army it is almost impossible to fail panic checks. Not to mention some units are ItP anyway. So I had to assume I need to kill every member of a unit to claim the points. He is also quite good in combat with his Killing Blow special rule and re-roll to wound rolls that missed. I would not risk Larry to meet him but Bob might actually give it a try since his Griffon has ASF and the same initiative as Ludwig.

Inner Circle Knights - First among heavy armored regiments of the Imperial army. 1+ save is always a challenge for my army despite the fact I do have some tools with it. I simply had many games where 3+ or 4+ armor saves were enough to deflect my attacks and ruin the combats for my infantry. The Knights are also stronger and faster thanks to the standard, no penalty for barding here! Of course well placed flank shot with bolt throwers or searing doom can do the trick here. And once pinned in combat S4 might still not be enough to prevail, of course if isolated and fighting alone.

White Wolves - not a popular choice but I think it has the uses and there might be some bonuses for taking it for this particular event. They are more consistent in damage they can deal and with 2+ armor they are still well protected. If they can cooperate with IC Knights they will be very dangerous too.

Halberdiers - with no infantry characters in the army and small numbers they are probably going to perform garrison duties. However, well timed flank charge may be very dangerous so I should keep an eye on them just in case.

Demigryph Knights - the most powerful unit of the army, 5 of them make it even more dangerous as they can take some damage and still be powerful enough to kill any unit I have on their own. Priority target for bolt throwers (and single shots only) and searing doom. I can take them down in combat only isolated and only when attacked from the flank, unless there are 3 or less to start with (so that I can kill 1, maybe 2 if lucky and with overwhelming force).

Hurricanum - it is here to provide extra power dice for Baltazar but also to help the units in combat. Hitting on 3+ with usually high strength is what they need. At least there are no priests to grant hatred too. It is also a chariot and can be used as a great support or even a charging unit on its own against some of the smaller regiments of mine. Fortunately, it is a little bit slower than the rest of the army so there is a chance it may stay behind too far. In any case, a dangerous unit but not a priority to be destroyed.

Volley Gun - another dangerous element in the enemy army. I decided that I will wait with the Archers to see where it is deployed and will try to shoot it down as it may ruin my plans for potential multiple charges. The opportunity may also arise when the steel wall of knights moves forward and there is not much left behind to defend it.

It is clear that to give myself a chance in that game I would need to slow down and separate the enemy units so that I can deal damage by shooting and magic and prepare the charges on isolated targets. It is by no means easy as the enemy is fast and can be ready to charge turn 2 with not many places to hide.

Outcasts - Army List

Larry the Loremaster, Earthing Rod, Armor of Fortune, Obsidian Amulet - 320
Bob the Battle Standard Bearer, Griffon (Swiftsense, Swooping Strike), Dragon Armor, Lance, Talisman of Preservation, Enchanted Shield - 356

15 Archers, Full Command - 180
15 Archers, Full Command - 180
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Bows, Spears - 105
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Bows, Spears - 105
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician, Bows, Spears - 105

5 Dragon Princes, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame - 175
5 Dragon Princes, Musician - 155
10 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Musician - 150
10 Swordmasters, Bladelord, Musician - 150
10 Lions, Banner, Musician - 150
10 Lions, Banner, Musician - 150

2 x Bolt Thrower - 140
2 Great Eagles - 100
2 x 5 Sisters - 140

Army Total: 2691


Terrain details:

Hills - block line of sight
Building - 2 levels, blocks line of sight
Rocks - impassable, block line of sight
Lake - as river, mysterious terrain
Forrests - mysterious terrain
Wall - hard cover

Deployment order

Deployment order:

1. Halberdiers (H2)    - Ellyrian Reavers (ER1)
2. White Wolves (W) - Ellyrian Reavers (ER2)
3. Inner Circle (ICK)  - Ellyrian Reavers (ER3)
4. Hurricanum (H1)   - Great Eagle (GE1)
5. Demigryphs (DK)   - Great Eagle (GE2)
6. Hellblaster (VG)    - Eagle Claws (EC1 + EC2)
7. Characters          - Rest of the Army
8. Huntsmen
Deployment after Vanguards and Scouts

Empire won the roll off and had the first turn.

Empire - Turn 1
Imperial steam roller moves forward

Darth Franz gave the order and his knights moved forward as one. Halberdiers were left behind to protect Volley Gun while the crew was disappointed none of the cowardly Elves moved in the range of their Hellblaster. Far on the Eastern flank Maximus led his Huntsmen towards the hill as he sensed a monster lurking behind. They had to be careful as enemy heavy cavalry could catch them in the open.

Kakwah Goldmember landed his pegasus nearby the forest and decided to make fine dragon princes' armor look less splendid with some rust but it seems he miscalculated and didn't draw enough power to cast a spell.

Magic Phase Details

Winds of Magic: 3, 5 --> 10:5 (Hurricanum + 1 channel for Empire)
Plague of Rust at Dragon Princes (DP2) boosted version: 1, 2 --> failed to cast, end of magic phase

Outcasts - Turn 1
Outflanking maneuver

Elves moved swiftly performing wide outflanking maneuver with the use of cover provided by the centrally positioned farm houses. Dragon Princes on the East threatened the Huntsmen and one of the Fast cavalry squadrons assisted them.

The regiments on the West shifted a little, either assuming better positions for shooting or withdrawing to avoid unnecessary attacks of imperial knights.

Then Larry the Loremaster attacked his adversary with all the magical fury he could muster. Small Light spell was cast as a distraction and then huge fireball flew across the battlefield. Much of its power dissipated over the distance but enough was left to catch Kakwah unaware and imperial wizard was burned to ashes in an instant.

The Elven warriors followed the example of their general and aimed their bows carefully. Archers failed to inflict any casualties against the crew of a Volleygun but two White Wolf knights were unhorsed by flaming arrows of Sisters of Avelorn. Eagle Claw crews aimed well too. Two huge bolts sailed through the air and both impaled Demigryphs each, one even penetrating to the second rank. Imperial troops were visibly impressed by this show of a firepower.

Magic Phase Details

Winds of Magic: 3, 4 --> 8:5 (one successful channel each)
Shem's Burning Gaze at Baltazar: 1, 1, 5 + 2 = 9 --> cast, dispelled on 4, 4 + 4 = 12
3d6 Fireball at Baltazar: 1, 3, 4, 4, 6 + 2 = 20 --> cast, dispel attempt failed 2, 3, 5 + 4 = 14 --> 5 hits --> 3 wounds --> no successful ward saves on 6++

Shooting Phase Details

Archers and Revaers (A1, A2, ER1) at Volleygun - 13 hits total, no 6's to wound
Sisters at White Wolves - long distance, 3+ to hit, 3+ to wound --> 5 hits, 5 wounds --> 3 saves, 2 dead
Eagle Claws at Demighryps - long distance, 4+ to hit, 2+ to wound (single bolts) --> 2 hits, both wounded --> 1 multiplied to 3 wounds, 1 to 1 wound --> 1 dead knight, 1 wounded

Empire - Turn 2
Tactical retreats

Demigryph knights didn't want to wait for yet another salvo and charged Sisters of Avelorn who wisely retreated. The knights changed the direction of the attack but Archers also didn't want to risk being crushed by the beasts. Their withdrawal turned into a more chaotic maneuver than intended and they had to flee the battle to regroup.

Fast cavalry in the center of the battle field didn't manage to bait White Wolf Knights and instead were shot at by the Volley Gun. Miraculously two of them survived but their steeds were terrified to run away no matter what.

Finally, Maximus and his Hunters tried to surprise another squadron of the fast cavalry but Elves didn't leave anything to chance. Maximus shouted to attack nearby heavy horse but his companions got confused and now they were sitting ducks in the open. It seems hunters were about to being hunted themselves.

Shooting Phase Details:

Volley Gun at Reavers  - 4, 6, MISSFIRE - number of shots halved = 5 --> 4+ to hit --> 4 hits, 3 wounds --> failed panic check on a roll of 3, 6

Outcasts - Turn 2
Another heavy blow

Elves continued their maneuver but this time they also attacked. Dragon princes on the East used the opportunity and charged Maximus and his Huntsmen. There were no survivors.

Larry the Loremaster summoned all his power and channeled it into a single powerful spell that killed two demigryphs outright and wounded another. It was not without the cost, however, as powerful feedback temporarily erased the magical formulas from Larry's mind. There would be no magic in this battle anymore.

Eagle Claw crews followed and suddenly out of the proud unit of the best imperial knights only a single warrior was left standing.

Magic Phase Details: 

Winds of Magic: 1, 4 --> 6:4 (1 successful channel for HE)

Searing Doom at Demigryphs (boosted version): 1, 3, 5, 5, 6, 6 --> cast as IF --> 11 hits --> 7 wounds
Miscast Result: 4, 6 --> lost 3 magic levels --> no more abilities to cast spells

Shooting Phase Details:

Archers at Volleygun - 4+ to hit (long distance) --> 7 hits, 1 wound
Eagle Claw EC2 at Demigryphs - 4+ to hit --> hits, wounds, multiplies to 3 wounds, dead demigryph

Empire - Turn 3
Empire tries to strike back

Imperial troops were in shock but tried to press forward. Inner Circle Knights attacked the annoying eagle while last demigryph charged reavers who took one for the team in order to draw the enemy into a trap. Darth landed nearby ready to charge soon and avenge his knights. But Elves let him?

Outcasts - Turn 3
Dragon Princes spearheaded the attack but to their surprise White Wolf Knights simply fled through entire battle line. Could it be they learned that tactical maneuver from somebody?

Bob the BSB and Larry the Loremaster with his bodyguards of Swordmasters attacked lone Demigryph who took the charge bravely but soon joined his companions in the afterlife.

Then all the shooters aimed at Darth Franz. Archers didn't manage to penetrate his armor or wound his griffon. Sisters aimed carefully too and they sneaked in a single arrow into Emperors body. Then dreaded eagle claws aimed at them. Yet again two single bolts sailed through the air and yet again both hit home. One wounded Darth and when his magical protection failed he fell dead from the saddle to the ground. Another tore a deep gash in the griffon side. The beast roared in pain, took the limp body of his master and flew away.

Seeing this Thrillhelm, as the only remaining officer in the army, signaled the retreat to save the life or remaining soldiers of the Empire.

Turn-by-turn summary animation

After-battle thoughts

It was unlucky game for Darth and seeing no possibility to turn the tide he conceded after losing his general. Technically he had 2 powerful units to fight with but they were not in position to attack anything of value. I didn't expect that my shooting would be so efficient and that I would be able to inflict such damage so quickly. I know Darth was not happy with such outcome as it was difficult to have fun when bolt throwers kept hitting all the time and got maximum would multiplication almost every time.

I wanted to finish this report only because we advertised the game at Ulthuan.net and there were forum members waiting for it.

I also wanted to thank Darth for providing list and story line. I am sure he will have much better luck at the even itself. Many thanks to those who showed up in the peanut gallery to watch it!

Feel free to comment on any aspect of the game!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Very well played with excellent manoeuvrings and solid execution of plan for your shooting attacks.

    It seems like you got luck on your side for a change. Nothing drastic, but still it feels that the dice slightly favoured you. More importantly, they did so consistently and that gave you the opportunities you needed. It's still your own personal skill that made you do something good with them though, so well done!

    One thing I've never really understood is the single bolt choice for the bolt thrower. Even against high toughness monsters, it feels like you're better off going for the volley. That single bolt will miss quite often, even with BS4. I think you were hitting on 4+ and had three hits on a row, so that was quite lucky there.

    1. I agree, the rolls were way above average but as you say I like to think I worked towards creating the opportunities for them to happen or used the situations created by my friends moves.

      Single bolts are indeed hit or miss weapons but they are also very good for psychological warfare :) Your opponent has to take into account the worse case scenario and taking huge risks with big monsters, for example, does affect decision making.

      And yes, they do miss spectacularly too! I can't recall the times when I rolled a 1 when I needed to wound on 2+ or hit on 2+ (with the aid of a spell). Of course my opponents remember only the times when it hurt them the most :)

      What I like about my current army is that it has some redundancy in it and the elements I have can pick up one after another if things don't go well. So this time Eagle Claws did great, another time Larry does wonders and some other times combat specialist do the heavy lifting.

      I definitely hope my army does not look and does not play in one dimensional way.