Saturday, 14 December 2019

Game 129 - Elves - 2019/12/14

Greetings!

This is the battle report from my very first game using 3rd edition of the Kings of War rules. I was very intrigued how it would go, both in terms of impressions on the new edition and on the new army list.

I decided to try out the army that was as close to the one I used under 2nd edition. If you are interested in some of my thoughts about the adaptation process, here is the link to the blog post I wrote shortly after the release of 3rd edition:


This game was meant to be an experiment to see how would I do with the similar army in new environment. 

Interestingly, Michael, my opponent for this game, decided to bring Elves as well. It was good because his army composition is different to mine. Thanks to that we could see how different units from the same faction can operate. Here are the details of his army list:

Elves - Army List

40 Palace Guard, Horde, Infantry, Unit Strength (4), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
- 6 Drakon Riders*, Horde, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (3), Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Elite (Melee), Potion of Caterpillar
- 10 Silver Breeze*, Regiment, Cavalry, Unit Strength (2), Nimble, Shortbows: 18", Elite (Ranged), Steady Aim
- Tree Herder, Hero, Monster, Unit Strength (1), Crushing Strength (3), Inspiring, Pathfinder, Radiance of Life, Scout, Strider, Surge (8)

20 Shield Watch, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
- Dragon Kindred Lord, Hero, Titan, Unit Strength (1), Crushing Strength (3), Elite (Melee), Fly, Inspiring, Nimble, Dragon’s Breath: 12”, Steady Aim

20 Shield Watch, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
- Archmage, Hero, Infantry, Individual, Lighting Bolt (5), The Boomstick

10 Stormwind Cavalry, Regiment, Cavalry, Unit Strength (3), Elite (Melee), Sir Jesse’s Boots of Striding

This army has 9 elements, 8 of them are scoring and the total unit strength is 20. It has hard hitting elements that can take on any unit of my own alone and win easily in the form of Palace Guard, Stormwind Cavalry, Tree Herder and of course, Dragon Kindred Lord.

It is supported by two regiments of Shield Watch that I was really curious to see in action. They seem like two good defensive options, able to hold objectives and in general, be more resilient than other Elven infantry units. 

Last but not least the army had some ranged support thanks to the Archmage with effective 8 Lightning Bolts (5 + 3 from Boomstick) and Silverbreeze Cavalry. The fast cavalry was also something I was curious about because of the changes this unit experienced. It seemed like more flexible unit now, able to add some weight in melee as well.

Here is my army list for comparison:

Outcasts - Army List

10 Stromwind CavalryRegiment, Cavalry, Unit Strength (3), Thunderous Charge (2), Elite (Melee)
3 Drakon Riders*, Regiment, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (2), Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Elite (Melee), Dwarven Ale
3 Drakon Riders*, Regiment, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (2), Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Elite (Melee), Staying Stone
Lord on Drakon, Hero, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (1), Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Inspiring, Nimble, Elite (Melee), Diadem of Dragon-Kind

20 Palace Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
5 Silver Breeze*, Troop, Cavalry, Unit Strength (1), Nimble, Shortbows: 18", Elite (Ranged), Steady Aim
- 3 Forest Shamblers*, Regiment, Large Infantry, Unit Strength (2), Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Scout, Shambling
Lord on Drakon, Hero, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (1), Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Inspiring, Nimble, Elite (Melee)

20 Palace Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
3 War Chariots, Regiment, Chariot, Unit Strength (2), Thunderous Charge (2), Shortbows: 18", Attacks: 6, Steady Aim
- Noble War Chariot, Hero, Chariot, Elite, Nimble, Thunderous Charge (2), Shortbows: 18", Steady Aim

20 Therennian Sea Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Phalanx, Elite (Melee)
- Army Standard Bearer, Elite (Melee), Individual, Inspiring

It has 13 elements, 12 scoring and the total Unit Strength of 24. It seemed that while the army is not as powerful in direct fight, it has some advantage in the number of scoring units and total unit strength that may be important for securing the objectives.

Deployment and Scenario

Elves vs Elves - Civil War

In this game we played Raze as scenario. I decided to focus on one flank with my objectives and use higher mobility to get to them when not defended. Here is where I hoped higher number of scoring units should help to achieve that.

At the same time I wanted to make it more difficult for my opponent to get his objectives. To achieve that, I positioned the shooters closer to the centre. In this way I wanted to inflict some damage with ranged attacks before inevitable melee. 

Deployment after vanguard moves

Elves - Turn 1

Civil War begins.

First charges on the left flank.

Elven Drakon Riders and Tree Herder took the bait and charged Forest Shamblers, routing them easily. 

The rest of the army manoeuvred to new positions, with the exception of Silverbreeze cavalry that remained outside of the charge range of their enemies. The Archmage picked Drakon Lord as the target for his Lighting Bolts but the damage was not yet substantial.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Counter attack!

Combined Charge on the left flank.

Outcasts counter attacked quickly. They sent in three units to overwhelm enemy Drakon Riders and despite hindered attacks, the foe was defeated.

On the other hand, the shooting was not efficient as units had to move to positions and some of them were simply out of range. A little damage was done to the unit of enemy knights only.

Elves - Turn 2

More fights on both flanks

Silverbreeze in action.

Elves continued their advance but had to respond to the new threat on the left flank. Stormwind cavalry changed the direction of the attack, while Tree Herder charged Palace Guard.

On the opposite flank Silverbreeze cavalry attacked Drakon Riders, which surprised flying cavalry.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Outcasts continue the attack on left flank.
Shield Watch holds!

Drakon Riders and Stormwind cavalry continued their attack and charged another enemy unit. However, combination of good armour and defensive position significantly limited the efficiency of the attack and Outcasts did not break the enemy Shield Watch unit!

The units on the right flank performed evasive manoeuvres with Drakon Lord flying away to snatch the first objective.

Elves - Turn 3

Elves are winning on the right flank.

Outcasts lose two more units.

Unfortunately for the Outcasts, they made a few crucial mistakes. On the left flank Shield Watch routed Drakon Riders and reformed to hold off against another charge by the enemy knights.

On the left flank, Drakon Riders opened a path for Silverbreeze to out-flank Palace Guard and that unit was routed as well. Last but not least, Dragon Kindred Lord charged the Chariots that were not currently supported and had to fight on their own.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Grind match.

Outcasts on the defensive.

The Outcasts lost the momentum and were currently locked in a few grind matches. Stormwind cavalry once again failed to rout the stubborn Shield Watch and that delay would cost the Outcast dearly.

Elves - Turn 4

More losses for the Outcasts.

Three more units are lost.

The war of attrition was taking its toll and Outcasts lost two more units, one to Tree Herder and one to Drakon Kindred Lord. The enemy archmage finally managed to call upon powerful lightnings properly and this time Silverbreeze cavalry was also routed.

At this stage both armies managed to collect all their objectives and the only one to control was the token in the middle of the battle field.

Outcasts - Turn 4

Outcasts keep on fighting.

Some successes for the Outcasts.

There was no way back so the Outcasts continued attacking. Stormwind cavalry finally defeated the Shield Watch and Chariot Noble helped routing enemy knights.

Drakon Lord and Riders on the right flank attacked Dragon Kindred Lord, using the opportunity and the fact that other enemy units were not in position to support. However, the damage was not yet sufficient enough to contain the powerful enemy general.

Elves - Turn 5

Race towards the centre begins.

Irreparable losses to the Outcasts army.

Elves attacked enemy Sea Guard and Drakons and routed both units. Only Drakon Lord remained to confront the forces located there but he was not able to be everywhere at the same time. Unfortunately, his companion was shot down from the skies by the Elven Archmage.

Outcasts - Turn 5

Drakon vs Dragon

Noble sacrifice

Outcasts run out of units to pose a threat to their enemies but continued fighting anyway. Drakon Lord charged wounded Dragon and although it was not yet defeated, the beast was not in a shape of attacking back.

Elves - Turn 6

Shield Watch sprints to control the last objective

Final prize!

Elves had more units active than their enemies and that allowed them to catch the remaining objective in the last possible moment.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Final act.

The Dragon is down!

Stormwind cavalry was out of position to contest the objective in the middle of the battle field so the only thing the Outcasts could do was to make the victory for their enemies as costly as possible. Drakon Lord finished his Dragon riding adversary but in the end, the Outcasts lost this battle.

Summary

Turn-by-turn animation summary

After-battle

Many thanks to Michael for a game and congratulations on his victory! It was good to play the first game under 3rd edition with real models too!

As expected, the first impression about the game mechanics is that not much really changed. I am sure I will keep discovering things in my future games but I assume they will be certain details. Important details but they would most likely not affect how the game is played in general. I believe this impression is consistent with what other players observed, based on what I read on social media.

On the other hand, a lot has changed in the way I can use the army that, at least on paper, looks similar to what I run under 2nd edition. 

For example, I got used to 4 sources of inspiring presence, 2 of which usually travelled close to the infantry elements, freeing up Drakon Lords to chase their individual targets. In this game I failed to use the Noble with Talisman as efficiently as I did with the Forest Warden. What is more, since I usually used Chariot Nobles in a different role, he seemed to have limited influence on the battle. 

It was interesting (if not unexpected) to play Drakon Riders. I often used their mobility to get them into good positions and/or to adjust these accordingly. In this game I was not able to move away from the Dragon, for example, and still threaten it with flank charge. In addition, They usually were the furthest going flanking units. That allowed me to use Drakon Lords as an inspiring link between them and the other units. Now, due to limited manoeuvrability, I had to choose. Either use the greater mobility of Drakon Lords or to stay closer to other units for their inspiring presence.

Another expected impact was for shooting. I have never used it as the main tool but it was always important aspect of the style I prefer. Be it early in the game with longer range shooting to soften up the enemy or even eliminate smaller targets when focused on it. Or later in the game to finish off damaged units and keep the momentum going.

In this game I did not position my units well and combined with shorter range, constant cover for the targets and concern of not getting into charge range of the Dragon, I was not able to do any significant damage with shooting. I think I would have done better if I placed the units in front of the swamp but I was also concerned with Lightning Bolts and wanted some cover to begin with. I am not surprised that people invest in certain war engines and spells instead. 

There was a number of mistakes I made during this game that, in my opinion, contributed (and would have contributed under 2nd edition as well) to the end result of this game. 

Let's start with the way I reformed Stormwind after successful flank attack against Drakon Riders. I intended to use that significant success to press forward and be able to claim the objectives quickly. And then to reform and start threatening the centre in coordination with the Sea Guard, Silver Breeze and Chariots against the horde of enemy Palace Guard.

I didn't consider reforming them in a way to attack Tree Herder together with Palace Guard. I don't think I had a good chance of killing it in a single round of melee but with two units I had a chance to finish it off eventually. In order to buy them time I could have charged Shield Watch with Drakons and enemy heavy cavalry with Drakon Lord. Still risky but if that worked I would have prevented Tree Herder from claiming the objective and had a flank free. To help with this plan further, I needed Chariot Noble to move to better position turn earlier than I did as well.

I also thought about the situation where I attacked Shield Watch with Drakon Riders and Stormwind. I knew I do not have good odds to defeat it on the charge but I thought that either unit should be able to survive the counter charge. Then Shield Watch would have exposed the flank. I should have taken into account the scenario that happened. Unfortunately, thanks to the positioning, the Drakons were not able to move to threaten the flank of that unit. 

Obviously, withdrawing the Drakons on the right flank and opening the path for the attack on Palace Guard was a big mistake. I think I should have played it more defensively there and stay with Palace Guard and Drakons in the terrain, even if potentially being attacked by the Dragon. I would have had another unit as a flanking force ready. While terrain would have limited the efficiency of the attack as well. Not much but always.

As a result I started losing units way too fast and my initial advantage in numbers melted away very quickly.

In the end I came to the conclusion that simple adaptation from 2nd edition to 3rd edition is not going to be simple and straightforward process. First, I will not be able to use the similar army and second, not in the similar way as I used to do. 

I need to start from scratch to re-define (again!) what MSU really means under 3rd edition. The challenge lies in the fact that unlocking units are mainly infantry, while the MSU force relies on speed and manoeuvrability a lot. I have also noticed that number of elements in the enemy armies tends to be around 10-12 and that also means that there may not be any numerical advantage either. 

I am aware it was just one game and as some players already noted, playing a few more should clear a few things. However, as it has been my first and only game so far, I rely on theoretical in order to come up with something new that would fall into MSU type of an army, that plays in all phases of the game and uses speed and manoeuvrability to overwhelm the foes.

Thanks for reading!

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