After I played against Ed and his Free Dwarfs, I had a fantastic opportunity to have a game with another prominent member of the Oxford Gaming Club - Simon aka laribord for those who play on Universal Battle 2. We have played against each other since the down of time but there was a bit of a break since our most recent encounter. It was thus great to organize a game again!
This time, Simon brought his Ratkin army. This is the faction I didn't play against often and Simon always adds a special flavour to the armies he designs. It was no different this time and I was really curious about this encounter. Let's check Simon's army in more detail:
Desert Rats - Army List
Nightmares Horde (N), Large Infantry, Blessing of the Gods - 265
Shock Troops Regiment (S1), Infantry, Heavy Halberds (Phalanx), Plague Pots - 160
Shock Troops Regiment (S2), Infantry, Plague Pots - 145
Shock Troops Regiment (S3), Infantry, Plague Pots - 145
Hackpaws Regiment (H), Cavalry, Maccwar's Potion of the Caterpillar - 170
Tunnel Runners (TR), Chariots, Brew of Sharpness - 245
Vermintide* Regiment (V), Swarm, Staying Stone - 70
Mutant Rat Fiend (MRF), Titan - 220
Tangle (T), Titan - 160
Weapon Team (WT), War Engine - 85
Brood Mother (BM), Hero (Large Infantry) - 140
Brute Enforcer (BE1), Hero (Large Infantry) - 75
Brute Enforcer (BE2), Hero (Large Infantry) - 75
Swarm-Crier (SC), Hero (Infantry) - 45
This army has 14 elements, 12 of which are scoring and the combined unit strength for the army is 23. First surprise was that there was only a single horde in the entire army. For some reason, there is that image of the Rakin army where hordes of expendable rats are being herded forward, before weapon teams and elite troops can move in and finish the enemy.
That was not the case here and the army looked smaller and more compact. That usually means that the units have some special abilities. It was a good assumption as the units Simon took for his force were either equipped with artefacts or had some interesting upgrades.
I must say I am a bit jealous that Ratkin army has so many options that either upgrade the units with additional abilities or they have auras that affect the regiments nearby. For example, Shock Troops have have Phalanx without losing any other of their skills and Plague Pots make them harder to hit for turn (either with ranged attacks or in melee). While units like Brood Mather and Tangle boost the morale of the regiments, increase the number of dice to cast spells with and add quite a few other abilities. I really like this type of indirect support that still requires the player to think and choose what and how to use for the best effect.
Another element that characterizes the army is the diversity of the units. Some of them are melee orientated, some provide support at range and some may do a bit of both. Such an army provides a fantastic opportunity to tailor the plan to particular enemy and scenario, makes it harder to predict and counter it. But it is also more difficult to use and I expected that the units need to co-ordinate their efforts well to achieve a success.
I was worried about Nightmares, Mutant Rat Fiend and Tunnel Runners in particular. Nightmares are quite versatile on their own and provide the highest volume of ranged attacks I hoped to avoid. I thus needed to distract them early and seek an opportunity to eliminate them. If possible, I wanted to use some shooting to do so. Mutant Rat Fiend, as any unit with Regeneration, is a tricky opponent. I would expect it to be difficult to catch by more than one units of my own. Tunnel Runners had a lot of attacks and combined with Brew of Sharpness this looked like the hardest hitting unit in the army.
However, the more compact composition of the army gave me some hope that it would not be able to cover the entire width of the battle field. In such circumstances, perhaps I should be able to have some openings on the flank to exploit.
Here is my army list for reference:
Outcasts - Army List
Stormwind Cavalry Regiment (S), Cavalry, Chalice of Wrath - 230
Palace Guard Regiment (PG1), Infantry - 160
Palace Guard Regiment (PG2), Infantry - 160
Kindred Archers Regiment (A), Infantry - 120
Drakon Riders Regiment (DR1), Large Cavalry - 165
Drakon Riders Regiment (DR2), Large Cavalry - 165
Forest Shamblers* Regiment (FS1), Large Infantry - 120
Forest Shamblers* Regiment (FS2), Large Infantry - 120
Silver Breeze* Troop (SB1), Cavalry - 130
Silver Breeze* Troop (SB2), Cavalry - 130
Paul the King (K), Elven King, Hero(Cavalry), Hann's Sanguinary Scripture, Sabre-Tooth Cat - 155
Dave the Drakon Lord (DL), Lord on Drakon, Hero(Large Cavalry) - 170
Archibald the Archmage (A), Elven Archmage, Hero(Infantry), Inspiring Talisman, Lighting Bolt (5) - 115
Arnold the Army Standard (AS), Army Standard Bearer, Hero(Infantry) - 60
The army has 14 elements, 11 of them are scoring and the total unit strength is 22.
Deployment and Scenario
|Elves vs Ratkin|
In this game we had Invade as a scenario. It is one of the classic scenarios and I actually quite like it for its simplicity. It does not mean, however, that is simple to achieve the goal! Our respective armies have the same number of units but Simon's has one more scoring unit and one more total unit strength. Thus I would need to achieve the advantage in the number of scoring units and unit strength during the course of battle to increase my chances of successful invasion. It may not be necessary, but it seemed to me it would definitely help.
I thought I have a bit of an advantage in shooting but only if I kept a distance. I also hoped to have a bit of a speed advantage but it also depended on how respective units are deployed. For example, Drakons could outpace Hackpaws and Stormwind would be faster than Chariots but only just. Even then it is not a guarantee that either of my units would be able to rout the foe on the charge. As always, I needed some help in the form of ranged attacks and try to set up the multiple charges.
Thus, the plan was to focus the shooting on enemy shooters while they are too far to fight back. Then use my own fast units to charge weakened foes. If that works, then I should be able to create some holes in the enemy formation. I also deployed my Drakon Riders and Shamblers on the flanks to try and envelop Simon's army. Shamblers can Scout and that helps to keep up with the Drakons.
I also wanted to use the hill to some advantage so I deployed Palace Guard behind it. I kept more fragile Silverbreeze and Drakons behind other units to have a mobile cover while they would still be able to see the targets.
When I saw how Simon has deployed I modified my plan to push a bit more on the centre left and keep the units on the right in check. I had a feeling it would be the game of cat and mouse (pun intended!) with both of us manoeuvring to try and achieve better position. :)
|Deployment after Scouts moves.|
Desert Rats - Turn 1
|Ratkin army shows exceptional discipline!|
The Ratkin Army seized the initiative and moved forward towards the enemy. The battle line was was maintained with the perfect discipline, perfectly supervised by the watchful eyes of Brute Enforcers. That was not the typical horde of rat slaves Elves were facing but what seemed to be hand picked, elite army. At least according to Ratkin standards.
Outcasts - Turn 1
|Secure the hill!|
Elves responded by slow advance on the flanks and the move in the centre to secure the hill. The shooters then all aimed at the Nightmares in the open. Unfortunately for Elves, this salvo was not an example of the usual, famous Elven proficiency with bows.
Desert Rats - Turn 2
|Ratkin shoot back!|
Ratkin army continued the advance but this time the units manoeuvred in a more complex pattern. Entire formation of Storm Troops cracked their Plague Pots and they were soon all covered by the green mist.
Ratkin returned the favour and shot back at one of the Palace Guard regiments. This barrage was far more efficient than what Elves did. It was only thanks to the superiour training that the Palace Guard regiment held its ground.
Outcasts - Turn 2
|Early Elven attacks.|
Elves decided to gamble and attack simultaneously on multiple front despite the initial plan to wait patiently for the enemy to advance deeper. There were multiple targets to charge but none of those was an easy choice.
In the end Elven regiments attacked in the following order. Forest Shamblers and the King charged the Shock Troops in Phalanx formation to block this regiment. However, their attacked was even more successful as they wavered the enemy, and that despite the toxic fumes still covering the foe.
Then the Palace Guard regiment charged down the hill against the Nightmares and inflicted substantial damage as well. That opened the pathway for a combined attack of the second Palace Guard regiment and Stormwind cavalry. Shock Troops were not able to hold against such pressure and were routed.
Next, the Forest Shamblers blocked the Mutant-Rat-Fiend to allow the Drakon Riders to eliminate the Weapons Team. And last but not least, the shooters managed to waver the Vermintide. It was an excellent (although lucky!) outcome for Elves as it blocked the Tunnel Runners from charging in response.
Desert Rats - Turn 3
|Ratkin army counter attacks.|
Although the result of the Elven attack was a bit surprising, the Ratkin regiments quickly counter-charged. Unfortunately for them, they only managed to destroyed already damaged Palace Guard and Forest Shamblers regiments on the right flank.
Outcasts - Turn 3
|Elves win on the left flank.|
Elves continued their offensive on the left flank. Using the opportunity where Shock Troops were either in a bad spot or already damaged, they pressed harder and two remaining regiments of Ratkin warriors perished.
When the shooters eliminated Nightmares and Drakons helped Stormwind to capture Brood Mother, Elves seemed to succeed in winning on the left flank.
Desert Rats - Turn 4
|Ratkin's most powerful units in action.|
However, Ratkin army still had their most powerful units fully intact and they were about to join the fight. Stormwind was the main target for the attack as both, the Mutant-Rat-Fiend and the Tunnel Runners charged against Elven knights. They were not able to hold against such an attack and perished.
Also the Drakon Riders regiment on the right flank was not able to hold its ground against Hackpaws and Brute Enforcer. In this situation, Elves were now under pressure as they lost some of the best attacking regiments and were not able to counter attack in force.
Outcasts - Turn 4
|Surprise attack by the light brigade.|
Despite the heavy losses in the centre of the battle field, Elves kept fighting on the flanks. Forest Shamblers and Palace Guard on the left charged the Tangle together and destroyed it.
Using the opening that the Tunnel Runners left, all light Elven troops charged the enemies on the left flank. In this way, they avoided the enemy chariots and were closer to invading enemy territory as well. Especially that the Drakon Lord got rid of the Vermintide and was ready to lend a helping hand.
Desert Rats - Turn 5
|Ratkin army is still dangerous!|
Both armies suffered some significant losses by now but neither could afford to withdraw. Ratkin mounted another wave of attacks and while the Brute Enforcer finally managed to destroy stubborn Forest Shamblers, the rest of the charges resulted in wavering the enemies only.
Outcasts - Turn 5
|Elves invade the enemy territory.|
On the left, Palace Guard sprinted forward deep into enemy territory while the Drakon Riders covered them.
On the right, the combined attack of the Silverbreeze and Drakon Lord saw the Hackpaws defeated. The second unit of the Silverbreeze cavalry was not, however, able to impress the Brute Enforceer, even with a flank attack.
Desert Rats - Turn 6
|Elves are running out of the units!|
The Mutant-Rat Fiend and the Brute Enforcer charged the wounded Drakon Riders together and this time they were not able to hold their ground. Similarly, exposed Silverbreeze troop was no match for the Tunnel Runners.
The Archers still held miraculously but Elves had very few units left.
Outcasts - Turn 6
|A few last fights.|
The Palace Guard continued its march into enemy territory, also to avoid the attention of the Mutant-Rat-Fiend that picked up their scent and started chasing.
On the right flank, the Drakon Lord moved into enemy territory as well while Silverbreeze still was not able to get rid on one, stubborn Enforcer.
Desert Rats - Turn 7
|Ratkin army attempts to invade Elven territory as well.|
Finally, the remaining Ratkin army regiments were reminded about the objectives and rushed towards the Elven territory. While the Tunnel Rats managed to easily destroy Elven Archers, the last word belonged to Elves.
Outcasts - Turn 7
Despite all the efforts the Elven King put into hunting down the Brute Enforcer, he was not able to kill the beast in the end. Fortunately for Elves, Silver Breeze managed to do that and while it did not initially look like a big deal, it was the tipping point and shifted the balance into Elven favour at the very last moment.
Both armies suffered huge casualties but Elves emerged victorious. Just! And by the smallest of margins!
|Turn-by-turn animation summary|
Many thanks to Simon for a great game! It is always fun to play against Simon so I highly recommend that you reach out to him and see if he is available on Universal Battle 2.
I really like his army too! It is a bit deceptive as it does not seem to look that big. However, there are a lot tricks it can use and I am sure it is very rewarding when they work.
It was another game where I was quite lucky and the one where the result was hanging in the balance until the very last moment. I actually thought it was a draw, only to realize that the Tunnel Runners regiment has the unit strength 2. Which means that killing that Brute Enforcer with Silverbreeze in turn 7 was what helped me win in the end.
However, I think there were a few important situations and factors that contributed to the end result as well.
My initial shooting was very poor but it is perhaps due to the fact I kept my Silverbreeze cavalry behind the Palace Guard. Hitting on 5+ is never optimal, even with Elite. I think I should have kept the cavalry unobstructed for that first round of shooting. Although I am sure it would not have been enough to make much difference in the first round. Perhaps Weapons Team was a more suitable target?
In any case, I decided to attack despite the fact that Shock Troops benefited from Ensnare rule for that turn. However, I could still charge one of the units with two of my own and that paid off.
I didn't want to charge the one on the left with Drakon Riders, together with Forest Shamblers, even if that would have resulted in blocking the middle Shock Troop regiment. First, they had Phalanx so Drakons would have been affected. Second, I think Drakons would have ended up in the middle rather than on the left flank. And that would have made them the target for the charge. While my charge was more efficient than expected and counter attack was not, I think the odds were not in my favour to risk such attack.
Despite that, Simon consistently routed my units, especially with the Tunnel Runners, decreasing the initial advantage I gained n the left. Hence, it was very lucky that I "only" wavered Vermintide. That stopped Tunnel Runners from charging Silverbreeze cavalry, that foolishly ended up in their charge range.
Another important situation that helped me in this game was the opening in turn 4. I could avoid the Tunnel Runners and block the Hackpaws, as well as Brute Enforcer. While I lost 2 units in the process, it also meant I routed 2 enemies that would have otherwise counted as invading force.
And last but not least, the Mutant-Rat-Fiend chased after Palace Guard for one turn which helped a lot because it did not turn and moved into my territory in time.
All these elements contributed to my victory so I need to come up with a more solid plan next time we play. While it is always good to be lucky it is hard to base any plans on good fortunes!
I hope you enjoyed this battle report. It looks like I may not be able to post any new for the time being as I haven't played and new games in the meantime. Hopefully, I will be able to return at some stage, sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading!