Sunday, 21 January 2018

Game 76 - Abyssal Dwarfs - 2018/01/21


I managed to continue with Monday nights Kings of War gaming in the local store. It was even better that I know that I will need to skip gaming night in the week before Australian Clash of Kings. 

This time I had a great pleasure to play against Christo who this time brought his Abyssal Dwarfs (previously I played against his Empire of Dust army). 

Christo's army looks fantastic and has a great mix of Mantic units and models from other manufacturers, most notably an Overmasters from Scibor Miniatures.

In terms of composition Christo included a number of trade mark units for Abyssal Dwarfs and that also added greatly to the theme of the battle. Here is the list with the details:

Abyssal Dwarfs - Army List

6 Lesser Obsydian Golems, Horde
- 10 Gargoyles, Troop
- 10 Gargoyles, Troop 
- Angkor Heavy Mortar, War Engine
- Overmaster on Great Abyssal Dragon, Hero, Healing Brew

6 Lesser Obsydian Golems, Horde
- Angkor Heavy Mortar, War Engine
- Iron-caster, Hero, Surge(8), Inspiring Talisman

6 Abyssal Grotesques, Horde,  Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar
-  Slave Driver, Hero, Banner of the Griffin

10 Abyssal Halfbreeds, Regiment, Dwarven Ale

10 Abyssal Halfbreeds, Regiment, Brew of Courage

I really like the look of this army although I must admit it is really tough. Many units have defense 5+,  defense 5+ and Regeneration 5+ or defense 6+.  That is really hard to overcome and if these units get into war of attrition that is the beginning of the end for my army. It also has long ranged support that is vital in forcing the enemy to make some moves as otherwise some of the elements can be avoided. Let's have a look at the units in more details as usual:

2 x 6 Obsidian Golems - very reliable if slow units. Defense 6+ means it is really hard to inflict any damage and Shambling helps to keep moving them forward no matter what. Even without the help of Surge they are very dangerous and highly reliable units, that like to get into melee and slowly grind down the foe. I would prefer to avoid them if the scenario allowed it and if I have to fight them I need to bring overwhelming force and assume there will be casualties anyway.

6 Abyssal Grotesques - faster than Golems but not as fast as regular heavy cavalry. They hit very hard and can potentially force the enemy to charge them and counter charge hard enough to rout the foe. Due to Regeneration 5+ it is very important to keep adding these damage points fast as otherwise they will simply heal themselves. 

2 x 10 Halfbreeds - Hit as hard as typical knights but are more versatile thanks to Regeneration 5+ (meaning they can get some damage and heal it back) and Crushing Strength (1) (so that they can still do damage even if hindered). Once again, the units that need to be attacked fast and hard so that they cannot heal back.

2 x 10 Gargoyles - always a very good addition due to the ability to intercept and mess with faster enemy units that would otherwise be able to charge any other element in the army first. Very good at support too, especially when allowed to attack from the flank or rare. As usual, if I have the opportunity I am going to try to get rid of them first.

2 x Heavy Mortar - these war engines are scary! People always tell you that they are not super reliable as they do not hit that often. But boy, when they do it hurts! Another priority to take care of, either with shooting or in melee.

Overmaster on Great Abyssal Dragon - the general of the army. Very versatile thanks to powerful melee abilities but also thanks to breath attacks of the Dragon. May have "only" 8 attacks but it is all with Crushing Strength (3) and Vicious. In any case, if it hits the flank or rare that is enough for majority of units anyway. The main thing here is to pin it down so that it loses fly ability ad let it lose time in melees that are not that important. It will be difficult to intercept it but I may use my faster Dakon Lord to do so.

Slave Driver - the role of this hero is straightforward. He needs to stay close to the units and out of trouble to wave his flag and inspire nearby regiments.

Iron-caster - this hero is more versatile and his role is to animate Golems but also heal them and occasionally use Fireball. He is also equipped with Inspiring Talisman that makes sure that some unlucky nerve rolls do not rout precious Golems. 

In general, this army needs to be divided if I want a chance to defeat it. It is easier said than done but the crucial element to achieve that would be to eliminate Gargoyles and Mortars as early as possible. Then I should be able to use the advantage in the number of units and speed and maneuverability to try and arrange multiple charges against a single target. 

I could not allow this army to go for one-on-one melees at all! 

Here is the army list of my own force for the reference:

Outcasts - Army List

3 Drakon Riders, Regiment - 175
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- Drakon Rider Lord, Hero, Large Cavalry, Brew of Haste - 175

3 Drakon Riders, Regiment - 175
- 5 Stormwind, Troops - 140
- 5 Stormwind, Troops - 140
 - Army Standard, Hero, Mounted - 65

3 War Chariots, Regiment, Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar  - 160
 - Army Standard, Hero, Mounted - 65
20 Palace Guard, Regiment - 150 
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop - 105
20 Sea Guard, Regiment - 170
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop - 105
- Army Standard, Hero, Mounted, Lute of Insatiable Darkness - 85

Deployment and Scenario

Armies ready for Battle.
Deployment of the Armies.

We got "Control" as a scenario and it was clear that the challenge would be to stop the Golems from reaching middle zone in "my" half of the table. I intended to continue with the plan to eliminate Gargoyles and Mortars early. At the same time I had Drakons to tie the units on my right flank, Storm Wind cavalry to try and support either wing, depending on the circumstances and the rest of the army on the left to tackle the majority of the forces concentrated there. 

I managed to win the roll off and chose to go first.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elves advance towards the enemy lines.

First success!

Elves advanced on both flanks and Storm Wind cavalry moved forward towards the right flank to assist Drakon Riders. 

At the same, slower forces on the left flank maneuvered to the positions. Silver Breeze and Sea Guard units focused their fire on the exposed Heavy Mortar and noted an early success when the crew of the infernal machine was all killed by well aimed arrows.

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 1

Lesser Obsidian Golems shamble forward.

Slow advance of the Abyssal Dwarfs.
Tightening the formation.

 The Overmaster was a bit disappointed that one of his mortars was silenced already. He ordered the formation to advance in line towards the Elves. 

The units on the other flak also moved forward very little, staying in the protective terrain. 

Outcasts - Turn 2

Drakons are getting closer.

View over the entire battle field.

Gargoyles are next targets.
 The units on the left flank slowed down the advance and stayed out of range of the enemy units. The exception were Palace Guard troop and Sea Guard regiment but these were obvious traps.

The shooters aimed at Gargoyles and one flock was routed while the other one stayed but was wavered.

The units on the right flank approached the enemy carefully, not wanting to get charged first.

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 2

Abyssal Dwarfs keep approaching in tight formation.
Left flank of the Abyssal Dwarfs army stays in the forest.

 The units on the Abyssal Dwarfs army left flank remained in the forest, not wanting to expose themselves to the attacks of the faster Elven cavalry.

At the same time the right flank advanced as one, with Golems and Grotesques forming a single line.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Powerful attack on Elven left.

Elves engage on the right too.

Elves attack on both flanks.

As Abyssal Dwarfs moved their heavy mortar to aim at the unit on the right flank, Elves decided it is time to attack.

Drakon Riders all charged against a single unit of Abyssal Halfbreeds and wavered them. The Army Standard distracted the enemy while Storm Wind moved to the flank of the enemy cavalry and aimed to attack the mortar instead.

On the left flank the attack was even more powerful as Drakon Lord, Sea Guard and War Chariots all charged the Grotesques. Surprisingly for both sides, that charge brought the unit down and now Elves reformed to deal with Golems and had an eye on the Overmaster.

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 3

Abyssal Dwarfs change the direction of attack.

Abyssal Dwarfs focus on their left flank.

One group of Golems was sent to help the cavalry while the other attack annoying Elven hero. Unfortunately, he stood his ground despite intimidating presence of the Golems. 

Not all was so bad for Abyssal Dwarfs as the mortar finally hit the target and routed Drakon Riders immediately.

Outcasts - Turn 4

The fight intensifies.

Mixed effects of the attack on the right flank.

Elves attack along entire battle line.

Elves pressed the temporarily advantage and attacked along entire battle line. Palace Guard on the left pinned down the Overmaster so that he had to deal with them rather than assist other units.

In the middle, three Elven units charged Golems and kept them locked in mortal combat. On the right the Drakon Riders finished one unit of Halfbreeds but Storm Wind cavalry, unfortunately, failed to rout the mortar and were in grave danger themselves.

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 4

Golems pick Palace Guard regiment as their next target.

Palace Guard is no more.

Elves lose more units.

Not concerned with the enemies around them, the Abyssal Dwarfs pick their targets and eliminate them. As a result, Elves lost Storm Wind cavalry and Palace Guard regiment. Fortunately, Palace Guard troop fighting against the Overmaster held. For now, as the unit got wavered.

Outcasts - Turn 5

Obsidian Golems crumbled.

Elves risk taking on Halfbreeds.

The situation on the Elven left looked good as the Overmaster was constantly occupied by the Elven units and one group of Golems finally crumbled after second wave of attacks from the chariots and Palace Guard.

That prompted Drakon Lord to team up with Storm Wind and Drakon Riders and charge second regiment of Halfbreeds. Unfortunately, this attack did not result in the demise of the enemy and Elves were in big trouble now.

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 5

Abyssal Dwarfs grind down the Elves.

Elven units start disappearing.

Unfortunate Drakon Lord stood no chance against Golems and quickly perished. That allowed Halfbreeds to focus on Darkon Riders who got wavered in the attack.

On the opposite flank, the Overmaster finished off the Palace Guard and turned his attention to the Sea Guard.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Mortar is alive!

More failed attacks

It seemed that Elves lost the momentum and their attacks were not as precise nor powerful as before. Sea Guard managed to do some damage to the Overmaster but Silver Breeze missed completely and the Mortar would fire again. Storm Wind cavalry also could not deal enough damage to rout the Halfbreeds and the Elven units on that flank were in great peril now.

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 6

Last, desperate combats.

Abyssal Dwarfs clear the flank.

As expected, Golems and Halbreeds clear the flank from the Elven units. But would there be enough time to capitalize on that success?

Outcasts - Turn 7

Elves fail to destroy the mortar - again!

With very few units remaining and even less time to do some action, Elves focused on melee and quick shooting. While melee was successful and the Overmaster was wavered, Silver Breeze failed to rout the mortar - again!

Abyssal Dwarfs - Turn 7

Mortar for the win!

Golems were surged forward but not enough to reach the enemy. However, they moved to the control zone and that area became contested.

The last word, however, belonged to the mortar that scored a hit and routed Silver Breeze cavalry unit. In the end, neither army could claim victory and control over the battle field and battered forces disengaged to regroup.


Turn-by-turn animation summary.

After-battle thoughts

Many thanks to Christo for a great game and congratulations on fighting until the very last dice roll! That attitude meant that in the end we had a draw! :)

What is more, I was really running out of time and it was the very first time that after the last dice roll for nerve in turn 7 I pressed the chess clock button exactly when it showed 0:00:00 time remaining!

But as you have probably already noticed, that resulted in rushed decisions and mistakes, especially in the last 2 turns of the game.

In general, I was happy with the plan and its development during the game. I had good luck with the first salvo that routed the mortar and then in melee when I unexpectedly routed grotesques on the charge. The plan here was to pin them down and bring Palace Guard to help while Golems were distracted/out of position to help.

It was a big mistake to attack Halfbreeds with Drakons, Drakon Lord and Storm Wind. Charges were hindered and out of 24 attacks hitting on 4+ and doing damage on 4+ I should have probably expected only 6 points of damage. The unit was fresh so that was not great, especially with the slave driver nearby. Storm Wind added 16 attacks that hit on 4+ and did damage on 5+ so I should have expected 2-3 points of damage here. Not quite the best odds. 

Looking at this situation with the full benefit of hindsight I should have not attacked, I should have moved Drakons away, possibly charge the mortar with the Drakon Lord (better chances to rout it than with shooting) and use Storm Wind as distraction to delay the enemy units there. 

In addition, I completely failed with Silver Breeze in last turns but not because I failed to score hits against the mortar. I didn't move one unit to the center zone to make sure I control that area and didn't move the second unit behind the hill to avoid being hit by the mortar at all. Because of that I didn't win the game.

It was great playing against Christo again and I admire his army ability to soak up the damage and keep hitting back. 

Thanks for reading!


  1. Great game Swordmaster!

    When I was running a similar list to yours, I found control to be one of the more difficult scenarios as well as dominate because it can be tough to have your units stick around (elves are fragile!). It is an uphill battle when the opponent has hordes that offer unit strength 3.

    That said, I think you had a great game plan and probably could have snuck a win if you would have moved units in a more “scenario focus” a turn or two earlier.

    Is this type of list (high defense) the type you struggle with the most? I found it difficult with elves to crack def 6+ reliably. Bloodboil helped me late game if I needed one last push to take out a unit. The addition of alchemist curse should help as well but I’m not sure how to fit it in my current TK list at the moment and my herd list is fairly decent at armor cracking.

    It seems like you have been able to get a decent amount of games recently which is great! I got six games in at a tournament 2 weeks ago and managed to finish 9th out of 56 and win best sports in the process with my brand new herd list! Sadly I only really have time to play in tournaments and we are in a tournament drought in the US currently. I will try to make it to lone wolf though which should be a huge event!

    Thanks again for all the reports; they help immensely since I don’t have as much time to play as I’d like!

    1. Hi Dan!

      Thanks a lot for another great bunch of comments! I greatly appreciate that you take time to provide your feedback on the reports and blog posts. They are very helpful and motivate me even more to keep posting!

      It is an interesting question about the army lists. Interestingly, when I thought about it (also about what armies are more popular) I found that I don't quite play against the similar force twice.

      On the other hand, each army and each scenario provide a set of challenges that I'd rather avoid labeling them as more or less demanding. What I did notice, however, is that if my opponent is passive or undecided as to what to do and how to proceed, then I have more opportunities to engineer these multi-charges I need to win in melee.

      It is true that if the Golems parked in my half I would have had a big problem (literally!). It takes some more maneuvering to be able to find the cracks in such tough formations, also in the context of the scenario where a single horde has to be countered by 2-3 of my own units, sometimes merely to contest the zone.

      I was disappointed a bit with my focus on routing the enemies rather than sticking to scenario. I have an impression that more often than not I do the opposite, i.e. play for the scenario conditions first. It was a good reminder, however, that I should try to avoid that tunnel vision and resist the temptation to go for the kill.

      I am very happy about the opportunities to play often. It is even more important for me this year because we have just lost one of the local stores. So showing up in the existing one also helps to keep it running. And let's admit it, who would not want to play more often anyway? :)

      Sorry to hear that you don't have that many opportunities to play at the moment. I hope it is going to change somehow and in the meantime I will do my best to provide as many reports as possible! I have one in the pipeline (very interesting game, not only thanks to the outcome and the battle development) but I think this one will be published in a week or so. I would like to add some more painting time this week before Australian Clash of Kings 2018 that takes place this weekend. It means 7 games over two days! :)


  2. Just a note that halfbreeds are only Defense 4, so your drakons should have wounded on 3+ and your SW cav should have wounded on 4+.

    1. Thank you!

      I don't know how we made that mistake! Well, that certainly improves my chances to do damage in a similar situation. I can't recall the exact rolls now but it is obvious that a few more damage points would have been scored. Ah well, shows that I should better check the characteristics of the units, especially those that I haven't played against for a while.


  3. Interesting to see that you keep fighting different armies and playstyles. And that you keep learning, good luck in the next match!

    1. Hi Lien,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I am very lucky that there are quite a number of players I can play locally that have more than one army too. In addition, I play online sometimes and in general, I noticed that there is not really one army that is more popular than the rest. At least among the players I have the opportunity to play against. Even if it happens that I play against the armies from the same faction they tend to be distinctively different in their composition.

      I really hope I do learn from my mistakes :)