Sunday, 1 July 2018

Game 90 - Forces of Nature - 2018/07/01

Greetings!

After quite a long break I finally managed to attend a tournament. Once again, Matt and Tas were hosting an event in the local shop, Jolt Games. Three games of Kings of War, 2000 points. However, this time with an interesting twist. No magic artifacts or allies were allowed. 

I thought it would not impact my army much since I do not have that many upgrades anyway. However, I was curious how would that really affect my army and if the small changes to the list would bring unexpected results. 

My first opponent was Michael, against whom I have already played countless battles. However, we have not played against each other since some time. In fact, we both considered challenging each other in the first round but it turned out to be unnecessary.

Michael brought his Forces of Nature this time and his style was quite opposite to mine, instead of Multiple Small Units he brought Multiple Horde Units! Here are the details:

Forces of Nature - Army List

6 Earth Elementals, Horde, Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Shambling, Def (6+)
- Druid, Hero, Bane Chant (2), Heal (2), Surge (7), Individual, Pathfinders, Inspiring
- Beast of Nature, Monster, Crushing Strength (2), Lighting Bolt (6), Pathfinders, Vicious

6 Earth Elementals, Horde, Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Shambling, Def (6+)
- Winged Unicorn, Hero (Large Cavalry), Fly, Heal (7), Inspiring, Lighting Bolt (5), Pathfinders, Thunderous Charge (2) 
- Beast of Nature, Monster, Crushing Strength (2), Lighting Bolt (6), Pathfinders, Vicious 

6 Earth Elementals, Horde, Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Shambling, Def (6+)
- The Green Lady [1], Hero, Elite, Fly, Heal (8), Individual, Inspiring, Pathfinders, Regeneration (5+) 
- Agnih-Bhanu, Greater Fire Elemental, Monster, Breath Attack (12), Crushing Strength (4), Pathfinder, Piercing (4), Vicious

3 Forest Shamblers, Horde, Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Shambling, Vanguard
3 Forest Shamblers, Horde, Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Shambling, Vanguard


It is a very tough army but it still has 11 elements so it is not that small either.  The only model that does not have defense 5+ or 6+ is the Druid. All of the units cannot be wavered so they are very reliable. And while slow due to Shambling, the same ability gives them unique way of maneuvering thanks to the Druid and his Surge spell. Fortunately, there is only one Druid in the army to Surge Elementals or Forst Shamblers!

This army has also fantastic healing abilities with three heroes having access to a spell Heal. It means that any damage done to already heavily armored units can be either diminished or completely removed! That suggests this army may want to get into war of attrition, type of fight I would like to avoid at all costs.

To make it even more dangerous for the opponent, this force has some serious ranged attacks. Three Lighting Bolt spells and Breath Attack with Piercing (4) from the Greater Fire Elemental would do a lot of damage to my small units. 

Hence, I was presented with a dilemma. If I kept the distance and try to outmaneuver the slower enemy, I would be shot at. If I get into fight quickly I may not be able to overwhelm the tough enemies. Who can then be healed to full strength and grind my units down.

Here is the army list I took to the event:

Outcasts - Army List

3 Drakon Riders, Regiment - 175
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- 5 The Windborne, Living Legend [1], Troop - 170
- Drakon Rider Lord, Hero, Large Cavalry - 160


3 Drakon Riders, Regiment - 175
- 5 Stormwind, Troops - 140
 - Elven Prince, Hero, Mounted - 75

3 War Chariots, Regiment  - 140
 
10 Storm Wind, Regiment - 215
 
20 Palace Guard, Regiment - 150
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop - 105
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop - 105 
- Army Standard, Hero, Mounted - 70

20 Sea Guard, Regiment - 170

My initial plan was to focus fire of my own shooters at the target I would then try to attack in melee. If that was properly coordinated I should have a better chance at routing the enemy on the charge, especially if I could also combine charges from few units.

While potent shooters, they cannot be everywhere so I had to be patient with the units that are not immediately threatened. This way I should be able to get to better attacking positions. 

That was, of course, very general idea as I had to adapt it to the scenario conditions.

Terrain

Terrain Details
 
 Scenario and Deployment

Forces of Nature versus Elves.

Deployment and Tokens Placement.

We got Push scenario so I immediately decided that I will try to use one of my small troops of Palace Guard on either flank to carry the tokens to the enemy side. At the same time I did not expect my own units to be able to hold the Defense 6+ Elementals for long, especially in the head on combats. It was all about who is going to get that middle objective in the end. 

Because of that I deployed my shooters in the center. First, to get a few points of damage here and there so that in inevitable melee I would have a slightly better chance to rout the enemy. Otherwise, with all the healing I may end up locked in combats my units cannot win. Second, with Windborne cavalry I could also push back the slower foes so that they would be out of position to contest the middle objective.

When I noticed that Michael deploys his Elementals on the extreme flank I guessed he may be positioning his unit to carry the tokens there. Indeed. Forest Shamblers, screened by two units of Earth Elementals, were entrusted with that mission. That meant, however, that the center would not be as strongly contested as I thought. It does not mean that facing two beasts of nature and Greater Fire Elemental made it any easier! But I actually thought I may see two units of Earth Elementals dead center and one of the hordes plus both Shamblers regiments on the flank instead. 

That gave me an idea that I may try to slow down the units on my left to at least prevent them from joining the fight in the center. At the same time I hoped that the rest of the army would succeed in keeping Forces of Nature away from the central objective.

Michael got the first turn and moved in to cast some Lightning Bolts! 

Forces of Nature - Turn 1

Forces of Nature shamble forward.

Forces of Nature advance.

The slow but purposeful advance of various elementals of nature began. The entire army kept close and compact formation and the first round of ranged attacks started. However, the lightning bolts were cast at different targets and as a result only one unit of Elven Storm Wind cavalry wavered.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elves move much faster.

Shooting back!

The Outcasts responded by triggering their trademark outflanking maneuver and preparing units on the left to occupy nearby forest. Hopefully that would divide the Forces of Nature and allow Elves to obtain local superiority in the center.

Forces of Nature - Turn 2

The shambling continues.
 
So does the shooting.

The Forces of Nature were not hasty at all. On the left the Elementals continued their steady advance while unit sin the middle withdrew a bit to keep shooting at the Elves. As a result Drakon Riders got wavered this time.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Elves tighten the grip

Or so they thought.

Elves kept advancing. On the left the units prepared to receive the charge of the Elementals and to counter attack in order to slow the enemy and prevent them from reaching their objective. At least for now.

In the center the units kept shooting, this time at a Unicorn but failed to do enough damage. 

Forces of Nature - Turn 3

Shooting brings some effects.

Two units routed by fire and lightning bolts.

The ranged attacks superiority of the Forces of Nature started bringing the effects. Beasts of Nature finished off Drakon Riders while the fire fury of the Greater Fire Elemental destroyed the War Chariots.

In the meantime, Earth Elementals were pushed forward by the Druid but not enough to reach the enemy. Another Horde attacked Palace Guard but did surprisingly little damage and the Elves held the line.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves counter attack.

But do not achieve any meaningful results.

The Outcasts made a move and charged multiple targets. However, despite a few flank attacks, the results were disappointing. Neither of the units that were marked for main thrusts yielded and plenty of Elven regiments were now in very bad spots.

Forces of Nature - Turn 4

Grinding match begins

War of Attrition - bad news for Elves.

Forces of Nature counter attacked and some of the Elven troops perished already. On the left flank Earth Elementals slowly and methodically destroyed one Elven unit at a time. While in the center the big monsters also started inflicting damage to their enemies.

Outcasts - Turn 4

Desperate struggle continues.

Some minor successes.

With no other choice available, Elves had to continue to fight the losing battle. They claimed some successes as one of the Elementals and one of the Beasts were defeated. However, they still had to face majority of the Forces of Nature army. And the remaining units were quite intact.

Forces of Nature - Turn 5

Unicorn Strikes!

Elves in retreat.

Elves not only made a mistake in committing their army to the unfavorable fights but also left the opening for the enemy to grab the objective token. Winged Unicorn attacked Windborn cavalry and at the same time landed on the token, claiming it for the Forces of Nature.

Two more regiments of the Outcasts perished in combat while Forest Shamblers successfully carried their bounty to the enemy territory.

Outcasts - Turn 5

Another counter attack.

Another failure.

In a desperate attempt to turn the tide Elves counter attacked again. However, neither of these charges brought any successes. Drakon Riders did not attack strong enough to even have a chance to rout Forest Shamblers. Silver Breeze cavalry attempted flank charge against damaged Elementals but this attack was not a good idea at all. Storm Wind regiment failed miserably to even scratch the second beast of nature while Drakon Lord humiliated himself by not being able to rout the Unicorn, even attacking from the rear.

Forces of Nature - Turn 6

Mopping up

Killing blow

After failing to do any damage to their enemies, Elves paid the ultimate price. Three more units were destroyed and Elves had very little that remained on the battle field.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Yet again Elves cannot do any damage.

The battle is not over yet.

Although badly damaged, Elven units keep trying to turn the tide of the battle. If they can shot down the Unicorn they would be able to claim a draw, even though their losses are huge.

Unfortunately, exhausted from the constant fight, Silver Breeze cavalry fails to wound the Unicorn.

Forces of Nature - Turn 7

Parting shots.

Forces of Nature seemed to have the victory in the bag so they now simply wanted to leave no survivors among Elven army. Somehow, however, a few Elven units still remained alive.

Outcasts - Turn 7

Charge of the Light Brigade.

The army of Forces of Nature left one opening for the Silver Breeze. The chances of success were really slim but it was the last opportunity to change the outcome of the battle. However, this unlikely chance did not result in the miracle Elves hoped for. Forces of Nature remained victorious!

Summary

Turn-by-turn animation summary.

After-battle

Many thanks to Michael for a great game and well deserved victory! He played very patiently, kept his army together and used his strengths to great effects. Well done!

When I looked at this game again while writing the battle report I came to the conclusion that I made a lot of mistakes that contributed to the result too. Perhaps the first I focused on, even after the game itself, was not claiming the middle token with fast cavalry when I had a chance. Somehow I just sat there "defending" the objective instead of picking up the token and start running away with it. If I did that I may have had a chance to win on the scenario, even if the losses would have been great regardless.

After analyzing the game as a whole, I also came to the conclusion that the deployment itself may have not been too bad. But the way I picked the fights in my turn 3 was the biggest blunder I made that game.

I underestimated how tough Elementals can be and underestimated the ability of my units to inflict damage, especially when fighting in terrain. For example, 18 attacks from the flank with Drakon Riders sounds not too bad. However, due to hindered charge they would hit on 4+ and then do damage on 5+. It means I could expect only 3 points of damage from such attack! Similarly with 24 attacks from the Palace Guard regiment, where I could probably get around 4 points of damage.

Of course in the game of dice things can go differently than the average results may suggest. However, I committed to risky fights and had no reserves to help the units that got stuck in. 

Looking at possible alternative attacks I came to the conclusion that I should have charged the Elementals EE2 with Palace Guard troop and Regiment along with Drakon Riders to the flank. It is hard to see from the pictures if the Regiment had a flank charge too but even from the front it would have resulted in better outcome. 

Another option would be to attack with Palace Guard against EE2 and Drakons against EE1 simply to hold that line for a while and prevent Shamblers to move to my half.

Next, both Storm Wind units should have attacked EE3. Diagram is not correct, the troop should be able to see the unit from the front. While the Storm Wind Regiment had a flank charge. With Sea Guard preemptive strike against Greater Fire Elemental, they should be protected from the counter attack. I would not expect to rout the Elementals on the charge but that would help to stop their advance and perhaps finish them off next turn.

This is just another option I could consider. I am not yet convinced it would result in routing two hordes of Elementals but I do think it would be a better option. 

Thanks for reading!

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