Sunday 17 May 2020

Game 145 - Salamanders - 2020/05/17


In the second round of the Rage of Isolation Universal Battle 2 tournament I had a great pleasure to play against Ben who commanded the army of Salamanders. You may know Ben as Bensome of Direct Misfire fame. If you don't or have not listened to this great podcast yet, you are really missing out! I suggest that you go and check it out, especially that the new episode about Ratkin Army has just been released!

It is not the first time when I had an opportunity to play against Ben as we played against each other at CanCon 2014. Six years ago! Boy, time flies indeed! If you are interested, here is a battle report from the game when we played something different, with a bit different composition of the armies and at the time when it was mandatory for me to include blurry pictures! :)

I was obviously very happy to have a rematch and it was great we played with the "same" armies but in a different system. I am quite lucky that my opponents bring very interesting armies and Ben is no exception! He definitely followed the rule of 2 while composing his force! Here are the details:

Salamanders - Army List

Tyrant Horde (T1), Large Infantry - 240
Tyrant Horde (T2), Large Infantry, Brew of Haste - 260

Kaisenor Lancer Regiment (KL1), Cavalry, Sir Jesse's Boots of Striding - 210
Kaisenor Lancer Regiment (KL2), Cavalry, Mead of Madness - 205

Salamander Ceremonial Guard Regiment (CG1), Heavy Infantry - 160
Salamander Ceremonial Guard Regiment (CG2), Heavy Infantry - 160

Ancient Troop (A), Heavy Infantry - 120
Ghekkotah Warrior Troop (GW1), Infantry - 60
Ghekkotah Warrior Troop (GW2), Infantry - 60

Fire Drake (FD), Titan - 210
Phoenix (P), Titan - 195

Clan Lord on Fire Drake (CL), Hero (Titan), Brew of Sharpness - 335
Herald (H), Hero (Heavy Infantry), Lute of Insatiable Darkness - 85

I really like Ben's army because it has nice diversity, is flexible, capable of switch between defence and attack and can participate in all phases of the game. It has units that are very resilient and those that hit very hard. It also has some ranged attacks capability. As there are quite a few units I have not played against before, I would like to discuss them in more detail. 

Tyrants - This is the first unit type in Ben's army I have never played before. They are quite fast thanks to Speed 6 and Wild Charge D3 which means that one should always take into account they may charge up to 15 inches. In the case of the unit with Brew of Haste it is even better, up to 17 inches, almost as fast as many heavy cavalries! 

With 30 attacks and Crushing Strength 2 they will do a lot of damage. I noticed they hit on 4+ so I would probably like to force them into some terrain. However, with that many attacks and majority of my units having defence 4+, they will do a lot of damage anyway.

Interestingly, they have defence 4+ which makes them more vulnerable than other units in the army. But it is still a very reliable unit as it cannot be wavered.

Kaisenor Lancers - Salamanders' heavy cavalry. It is a very interesting unit type because unlike typical knights, they do not hit on 3+ but have more attacks and having Crushing Strength 1 and Thunderous Charge 1 means they will do well at counter charging. Of course, if they charge first it is even better. Ben equipped one unit with Boots to mitigate the effect of the terrain or any obstacles for them. Hopefully my Tallspears would prove useful in countering them!

Heavy Infantry - There are three units of Heavy Infantry in the army, two regiments of Ceremonial Guard and one troop of Ancients. Ceremonial Guard is a very good unit to fight in a grind with their Crushing Strength 1 and Defence 5+. Phalanx is great on that unit as it further helps against cavalry and fliers. 

Ancients are extremely well protected, cannot be wavered and support nearby troops with Inspiring Presence. A great unit on its own, just a bit slower than other elements of the army 

In general, the heavy infantry contingent is a solid choice that I would need to avoid fighting one-on-one.

And let's not forget about brave Herald who inspires nearby troops and can further busts their damage potential with always useful Bane Chant.

Ghekkotah Warriors - Unlike bigger brethren, Ghekkotah Warriors are fragile bu fast and have Pathfinder. They can be quite useful as objective holders or simply block the path for the enemy units. 

Titans - I must say I really envy the titans available in Salamanders' list. Both Fire Drake and Clan Lord are very versatile and very strong elements in the army. Great nerve, very good defence, very dangerous in melee (especially the Clan Lord with Brew of Sharpness that hits on 3+ with 15 attacks!). They have some nice ranged attacks as well to add to their flexibility. And if that is not enough both are Nimble! What's not to like? :)

Phoenix is my most favourite model in Mantic range. I actually considered getting an allied contingent to add it to the army! I would love to paint it at some stage. For now, I resisted the temptation and got back to painting some Storm Wind cavalry :) I think it is also a great unit to have in the army, again, thanks to its great flexibility. It can assist the army with Radiance of Life and Heal. Especially on tough units it can be awesome to remove the few lucky points of damage.

It can add to melee with timely flank charge as its 5 attacks with Crushing Strength 1 would definitely cause some damage. It also has ranged attacks which can be very important to force the crucial nerve tests in the final stage of the game. Or it can team up with Drakes and do some damage with concentrated fire. 

It seems a bit fragile but with good nerve and regeneration, the Phoenix will not be my first priority for shooting for sure :)

In general, this army has 13 units, 12 of which are scoring and the combined unit strength of 24. It has an obvious advantage in war of attrition but it is a bit slower and the efficiency of the first attack may be limited by the terrain. 

My initial plan, before I started thinking about the scenario, was to use the shooting to either add a few points of damage to tougher units and make it a bit more probable to rout them in melee. Or, if opportunity arises, target the Tyrants as more vulnerable units. 

As usual, I needed to look for options to use greater speed and manoeuvrability to get the combined charges I rely on to win against tougher opponents.

Here are the details of my army list: 

Outcasts - Army List

Stormwind Cavalry Regiment (S), Cavalry, Chalice of Wrath - 230
Palace Guard Regiment (PG1), Infantry - 160
Palace Guard Regiment (PG2), Infantry - 160
Tallspears Regiment (T1), Infantry - 140
Tallspears Regiment (T2), Infantry - 140

Drakon Rider Regiment* (DR1), Large Cavalry, Staying Stone - 170
Drakon Rider Regiment* (DR2), Large Cavalry - 165
Forest Shamblers Regiment* (FS1), Large Infantry - 120
Forest Shamblers Regiment* (FS2), Large Infantry - 120

Silverbreeze Cavalry Troop* (SB1), Cavalry - 130

Silverbreeze Cavalry Troop* (SB2), Cavalry - 130

Lord on Drakon (DL1), Hero (Large Cavalry) - 170
Lord on Drakon (DL2), Hero (Large Cavalry) - 170
Elven Archmage (M), Hero (Infantry), Inspiring Talisman, Lighting Bolt (5) - 115
Elven Archmage (M), Hero (Infantry), Lighting Bolt (5) - 95

Army Standard Bearer (AS), Hero (Infantry), Lute of Insatiable Darkness - 85


Terrain details

Deployment and Scenario

Elves vs Salamanders

In this round we played Raze as scenario. Because I played against the army that is better at attrition but a bit slower, I wanted to do the following. Use Shamblers as a vanguard to block the enemy units and claim two objectives as early as possible. 

In this way I should free the units on one side (the tokens to collect are always asymmetrically placed, two are on one half and one is on the other) to turn and focus on the fight around the centre and opposite flank.

At the same time it was crucial to slow down the majority of the forces on the stronger enemy flank. If that happens to be the same as my strong flank, then Shamblers would do the job. If the opposite, then I would need to use my units there to do so. 

Because we ended up with placing the majority of our own tokens on the opposite flank, I adjusted the plan accordingly. First, I deployed all the shooters on the left to add a few points of damage and help to outflank Salamanders quicker. As Ben deployed two tokens on the opposite flank, I assumed he would also deploy majority of his army there. 

That also meant I needed a stronger element than Drakons on my right to slow down enemy forces. Hence I deployed Storm Wind to help Place Guard. Second unit of Drakon Riders was positioned in the middle to be able to flank advancing Salamanders as well. I hope that this threat would make Ben a bit more cautious in his advance and buy me an additional turn.

However, Ben won the roll off for the first turn and seeing what I am trying to achieve with Shamblers, decided to take the first turn.

Deployment of the Armies after Scout moves.

Salamanders - Turn 1

Salamanders march forward

Salamanders advanced not even attempting to hide their presence from the enemy. The regiments marched as one and the ground shook as enormous warriors accompanied by a Fire Drake traversed the nearby forest.

The smaller contingent facing Elven left flank advanced as well but remained behind the hill.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elves advance on the left flank.

The race against time has started. Elves moved at a double on the left flank, using the hill to hid the manoeuvres of their infantry. Silver Breeze and Archmages all focused their fire on the Ceremonial Guard. Despite protective cover and good armour, the damage was substantial. 

On the contrary, the Palace Guard on the right moved forward only to benefit from the cover of the terrain and waited for the enemy to advance.

Salamanders - Turn 2

Salamanders' advance is slowed down by the terrain.

Giant Lizards continued their march but it was slowed down by the intervening terrain and the fact they adjusted their formation to respond to a potential threat of the flank attack. The Clan Lord already managed to snatch one of the treasures as Elves did not attempt to stop him from doing so.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Elves charge on the left

Elves used their numerical superiority on the left flank and mounted a coordinated attack. Drakon Lord and Riders intercepted Kaisenor Lancers and prevented them from helping nearby Ceremonial Guard. 

Although Ghekkotah Warriors tried to block the path, Forest Shamblers were still able to flank charge the Guard. Tallspears attacked from the front at the same time. Despite the serious damage done, the stubborn Guard did not yield. 

However, second regiment of Tallspears managed to flank attack Ghekkotah Warriors as well and they were not able to hold. The second group of smaller Lizards also perished when Elven Archmages cast their lightnings.

At the same time, thanks to clever positioning, the Clan Lord was safe from the immediate threat of Storm Wind charge. Elven units withdrew then to make it more difficult for enemy regiments to reach them. While Drakon Lord used the shadow of the nearby ancient monument to hide and trap the Clan Lord if he attempted to charge the Elven knights. 

Salamanders - Turn 3

Elves are hard pressed on the right.

Despite being outnumbered, Salamanders fought hard on the left flank and inflicted serious damage to the Elven forces. Drakon Riders managed to hold their ground (barely!) but Tallspears were routed. 

On the opposite flank the Tyrants reached Place Guard (Wild charge for the win!) and despite the hindering effect of the terrain, the damage was too much even for Elven elite to hold their ground. Fortunately for Elves, the Lancers were not as successful.

Last but not least, the Clan Lord spurred his titanic mount and crashed into the Storm Wind cavalry. Elven knights fought hard and surprisingly, did not lose that many of their numbers and despite momentary wavering, managed to continue the fight. What is more, nearby Drakon Lord also survived the fiery attacks by the Drake and was ready to attack the Clan Lord to relieve the Storm Wind cavalry.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Left flank secured.

Elves continued their attack on the left flank and this time Lancers and Guard were not able to hold and perished. Elves immediately started to manoeuvre to turn towards the centre of the battle field.

On the opposite flank, outnumbered Elven units fought a bitter fight to slow down their enemies for as long as possible. Knowing they have only one chance to succeed, Storm Wind and Drakon Lord doubled their efforts. The attack was a great success as the powerful Clan Lord was defeated! 

Nearby Palace Guard also fought hard and inflicted some serious damage on the Lancers but it was not yet enough to rout them. 

Salamanders - Turn 4

Exchange of punches continues.

Although his units perished, brave Herald did not give up the fight and charged wounded Drakon Riders alone. He was not successful yet.

The remaining units of the Salamanders' army were still a very dangerous force to face. Some of them turned towards the centre to form a new battle line. While those engaged in the fight on the right flank defeated their opponents. It looked like Storm Wind cavalry is now left alone. 

Outcasts - Turn 4

Elves use their speed to continue attacking.

Elves knew that they need to continue attacking in order to have a chance to prevail. Thanks to the speed of their units that was possible and Elves committed a few units to spearhead the new wave of attacks.

Tallspears spotted the opportunity to flank charge their counterparts in the Salamanders' army. The attack surprised their opponents and they had to spend time redressing the ranks. 

In a similar fashion, Drakon Riders also flank charged the Lancers. The damage was sufficient to confuse the enemy. It was of a great importance because it saved nearby Storm Wind from being charged while they were still fighting against the Fire Drake.

Last but not least, the shooters continued their coordinated efforts to bring down very dangerous Tyrants and the second salvo destroyed them.

Salamanders - Turn 5

Salamanders' attack appears to lose the momentum.

Salamanders continued their attacks but for some reasons they were not as efficient as before. Tyrants only Wavered the Drakon Ridres. While the Fire Drake did not inflict expected damage to the Elven knights. What is more, they also shrugged off the wavering effect and continued fighting on!

Outcasts - Turn 5

Elves gain an important advantage.

Using the opportunity and the fact that some of their foes were busy redressing the ranks, Elves mounted another, more deadly wave of the attacks. Tallspears, aided by Forest Shamblers, defeated the Ceremonial Guard.

On the opposite flank,the Storm Wind cavalry also succeeded in defeating the Fire Drake and presented a serious threat to the remaining Salamanders units. 

Silver Breeze units and Archmages kept attacking the enemy at range as well. The badly damaged Lancers were not able to hold against another attack and even the nearby Tyrants were shot at. It looked like Elves gained a significant advantage.

Salamanders - Turn 6

One more charge

Despite the successes, Elves did not manage to avoid mistakes and left one of the treasures unattended. That was not missed by the Phoenix that simply flew over helpless Elves and snatched that objective from under their noses.

The Tyrants continued their rampage and this time the Drakon Riders were not able to hold. 

Outcasts - Turn 6

Elves gain control over the centre of the battle field.

Suddenly, Salamanders' Ancients found themselves surrounded by the enemies from all sides. All they could do was to brace for impact. Elves attacked as one and defeated their ancient foe.

Silver Breeze and Archmages also kept their focus and another salvo destroyed the second group of Tyrants. 

Salamanders - Turn 7

Herald in his heroic attack.

Although almost entire Slamanders' army has perished, the brave Herald did not even think about giving up. He tried for the final time to attack the Drakon Riders and although he finally landed a successful blow, Drakon Riders held their ground.

Outcasts - Turn 7

Final act.

It was clear by now that Elves were victorious. They chased away the Phoenix with some shooting and captured enemy Herald. He was released soon after, however, in honour of his persistence and bravery.


Turn-by-turn animation summary.


Many thanks to Ben for a great game! It was fantastic to play against after quite a long time. It was awesome to play with the same armies but under the Kings of War rules set. I must admit that there were a few moments where things could have gone much different. It is one of those games where the final result does not tell the full story.

First, I suffered fewer loses on the left flank than expected. I thought my Drakons are going to be routed during the counter charge. That not only saved the unit but also allowed me a flank charge with the Drakon Lord. Otherwise, I would have to commit Forest Shamblers there and spend more time fighting there. Could have been crucial in getting back to the fight in the centre.

Second, Ben did great with positioning his Clan Lord so that I could not attack him with my knights. I had to brace for impact and with 15 Attacks, hitting on 3+ and damaging on 3+ I expected more damage to be done. What is more, their Chalice of Wrath was crucial as they continued fighting. But you can easily imagine that such result was not a guarantee and if the knights perished, that would have been a completely different story.

To make it more difficult for Ben, his Fire Drake did not manage to defeat the knights either. Combined with lucky waver rolls, I surprisingly kept on fighting with the Storm Wind cavalry. Not only they brought down powerful enemies but were a constant threat to other units. And it was very difficult for Ben to manoeuvre as no matter which way he moved his units, they had to expose flanks.

I am very happy with how I managed to play this time. I think this battle showed that my army has a potential to deliver the damage both in melee and at range and if I can coordinate the efforts, the results can be quite promising. I think I am slowly getting back to having the army I am as comfortable in using as the one by the end of the second edition.

This game was by no means easy and I always assume to have a lot of different challenges against any type of an opponent. However, it seems I have the tools for the job as well! Chalice of Wrath is now my favourite magic artefact. It kept Storm Wind in the fight despite two or three wavers which was crucial in defeating the Clan Lord and the Fire Drake. Combined with Bane Chant, this unit can still do damage even if stripped of Thunderous Charge.

I wanted to highlight two mistakes I made among a few others in particular. First, I did not anticipate the way Ben positioned the Clan Lord. I was not able to attack it due to intervening terrain. Perhaps shift to the right would have kept the pressure on the units there.

Second, I obviously missed the intention for the sudden move of the Phoenix and Ben nicely fooled me by pivoting the Phoenix so that it looked like he is threatening the centre of the battle field. Fortunately for me, I managed to control the middle token in the end. However, I should have anticipated that move and protected the objective.

Once again, many thanks to Ben for a great game! I hope we will have more opportunities to play against each other in the near future and we are not going another 6 years to do so! :)

As always, we are interested in your opinions on army lists, the flow of battle, particular moves and situations. 

Thanks for reading!

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