I was very nicely surprised when after I posted about my very first game in Play By Email, I learned that quite a number of players use this way. I also receive a few generous offers to play this way, so I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who reached out! I will definitely find time to organize a game against everyone who contacted me.
In the meantime, a sort of rematch was scheduled already. This time, however, Erasmus decided to use another force of his - The Dwarfs of the Fool's Hold! You should check how the army looks like in real life and read their story too!
It was thus another classic match up, with another battle to be added to the long saga of Elves vs Dwarfs conflict. Here are the details of the army Erasmus brought to our 2000 points per side game:
The Dwarfs of the Fool's Hold - Army List
Ironclad Regiment (I1), Infantry, Throwing Mastiff - 125
Ironclad Regiment (I2), Infantry, Throwing Mastiff - 125
Ironclad Regiment (I3), Infantry, Throwing Mastiff - 125
Shieldbreakers Regiment (S1), Infantry, Throwing Mastiff - 140
Rangers* Regiment (R1), Infantry - 185
Rangers* Regiment (R2), Infantry - 185
Sharpshooters Troop (S2), Heavy Infantry - 100
Sharpshooters Troop (S3), Heavy Infantry - 100
Sharpshooters Troop (S4), Heavy Infantry - 100
Berserker Brock Riders Troop (BR1), Cavalry - 125
Berserker Brock Riders Troop (BR2), Cavalry - 125
Steel Behemoth (B), Monster (Chariot) - 245
Berskerker Lord (BL), Hero (Cavalry), Gnome-Glass Shield - 150
Dwarf Army Standard Bearer (AS), Hero (Infantry) - 50
Flame Priest (FP), Hero (Infantry), Inspiring Talisman, Bane Chant(2), Increase to Fireball (10) - 120
This army has 15 units, 12 of them are scoring and the Total Unit Strength is 24.
The first thing I focused on when trying to analyze strengths and weaknesses of this army was shooting. Erasmus brought quite a selection of units that can hurt the enemy at the distance. Sharpshooters can provide longer range shooting. Rangers add both, good volume and good range, and can also Scout to a favourable position.
Things get even more dangerous at mid range where Erasmus has 4 packs of Mastiffs waiting to be released. And let's not forget about the Behemoth and the Flame Priest.
In short, there is enough shooting to discourage defensive play but it gets even more dangerous if you want to get into the charge range. And then you have to face a stalwart battle line of grumpy Dwarfs, who are too stubborn to yield in any circumstances! :)
Because Dwarfs outnumbered my army slightly, I decided I cannot deploy in a "typical" formation with Drakons on the flank and the infantry in the middle. Instead, I thought it would be more beneficial if I deployed in a way that still allows me to choose the direction of the attack during the battle. If I could keep it secret long enough, perhaps I would be able to surprise Erasmus with the charges against the part of his battle line. And hopefully overwhelm it while the rest of the forces are not in the position to help.
In order to do that I wanted to use shooting to add some damage before the charges, so that it is easier to break the opponents. Or, if the attack would be in a different direction than the shooters can support, do some damage to the reinforcements. I trusted that speed and maneuverability would allow me to engineer such attacks.
Here is my army list for the reference:
Outcasts - Army List
Quicksilver Lancers Regiment  (QL), Cavalry - 240
Palace Guard Regiment (PG1), Infantry - 160
Palace Guard Regiment (PG2), Infantry - 160
Therennian Sea Guard Regiment (SG), Infantry - 150
The Swirling Tempests Regiment (ST1), Large Cavalry, Kal'ar's Hunters Formation - 180
The Swirling Tempests Regiment (ST2), Large Cavalry, Kal'ar's Hunters Formation - 180
Silverbreeze* Regiment (SB), Cavalry - 200
Forest Shamblers* Regiment (FS1), Large Infantry - 120
Forest Shamblers* Regiment (FS1), Large Infantry - 120
Kal'ar (Ka), Lord on Drakon, Hero (Large Cavalry), Kal'ar's Hunters Formation - 170
Archibald the Archmage (A), Elven Archmage, Hero (Infantry), Inspiring Talisman, Lightning Bolt (5) - 155
Argus Rodinar , Hero (Monster) - 70
This army has 13 Units, 10 of them are scoring and the total Unit Strength is 23.
Deployment and Scenario
|Elves vs Dwarfs - Deployment of the Armies.
Pillage was the scenario for this game and we got 6 tokens on total to distribute across the battle field. Here came the first decision to make. "Usually", i.e., against the slower enemy and the one with fewer scoring units, I want to spread the objectives. In this way, I can fight first and then use the speed to reach the objectives too far for the enemy to control. Or, if the foe decides to leave some units to guard the tokens, then there are fewer of them to fight elsewhere.
Against the Fools such approach would be beneficial for the Dwarfs. Especially with units such as Sharpshooters that can still affect the battle with their long range fire. I had to have a different plan and I came up with an idea that I need to shift the balance in the number of scoring units. If I can rout more than I lose during the battle then I should be able to control more objectives. If they are close to each other, then I can also make sure to have time to reach them before the game ends. Hence, I started placing the tokens in the centre rather than on the flanks or even in some corners of the battle field.
Second decision was to be made when I had to pick the sides. In this case I also needed to consider the fact that I would start deploying first. It means that the difference between the number of units mattered a bit more. Hence, the deployment had to be more flexible.
In the end, I decided to choose the South, even if more tokens were in the North. I knew we would need to fight anyway, and my army is not good at static defense. Controlling objectives would also give less incentive for the Dwarfs to abandon them. Giving me a bit more time to attack elsewhere before the reinforcements arrived.
I also thought that Southern deployment was more beneficial in terms of cover against the shooting. I was able to hide more units behind the hills for example. Important, especially in the case when I was second.
However, it happened I got to choose who would begin as well. I think players may usually choose to be the second, so that they can have the last turn to claim/contest the objectives. I decided to go first instead, because I thought it would help me to close the distance faster.
So, the plan in general was to engage fast, use the shooting to thin down/eliminate the enemy where possible and keep the opponent guessing as to the direction of the attack. Then attempt to eliminate more enemy units so that there are too few to control/contest the objectives.
Let's see if that worked!
|Deployment after Scout moves.
Outcasts - Turn 1
|Surprisingly efficient Elven shooting.
Elves moved first in order to seize the initiative. The Forest Shamblers moved ahead of the entire formation, providing necessary cover for the Elven Knights and Drakons. The Palace Guard regiments on the left also advanced, getting ready to engage the Rangers.
In the meantime, all Elven shooters also targeted the Rangers to inflict some damage before the melee. However, to everyone's surprise, the shooting proved to be way more efficient than expected. As a result, the first regiment of Rangers suffered too many casualties to retain any battle worthiness.
Fools - Turn 1
Dwarfs responded by slow but steady advance of their Ironclad battle line and released the dogs. Mastiffs attacked the front line of the Elven army comprised of the Forest Shamblers. Sharpshooters and Behemoth also aimed at the same targets. However, despite such a barrage, the damage was not nearly as expected and only a single group of Shamblers was destroyed. The second one kept marching forward as if nothing happened.
Outcasts - Turn 2
|First wave of the Elven attacks.
With the initial success of the shooting on the left flank, it was decided to direct the main attack on that side as well. Even though it meant facing the unstoppable Behemoth. The attack was organized so that Palace Guard and one of the regiments of Drakon Riders delivered the main blow against the Ironclads. While other units charged to prevent any immediate counter attacks to happen.
As a result, the Rnagers and Behemoth were blocked, one of the Sharpshooters groups were routed by another salvo of accurate Elven shooting and the rest of the Dwarven army was out of position to offer assistance. Only Shieldbreakers and one of the Ironclad regiments were able to counter attack at this moment.
Fools - Turn 2
|Disappointing Dwarven counter attack.
It seemed that Dwarfs were quite surprised by the ferocity of the Elven charges as their counter attacks were less successful. Only damaged Forest Shamblers were routed by Steel Behemoth. All other units were not able to inflict sufficient damage to rout their opponents.
Outcasts - Turn 3
|Stubborn Dwarves refused to yield!
Elves did not lose the momentum and continued their attack on the left flank. This time, the second wave of the Elven regiments joined the fight.
Palace Guard regiment on the left joined forces with the Drakons to defeat the Rangers. This unit, however, unlike their companions, decided to stubbornly hold their ground. (Edit: first double 1's :)). The Elven Knights maneuvered flawlessly around the fighting units and smashed into Shieldbreakers. But they too refused to abandon their position! (Edit: second double 1's! :)). It was probably that turn of events that further disheartened the nearby regiment of Palace Guard who, despite spotting the opportunity to charge nearby enemies in the flank, simply failed to inflict expected amount of damage. Even with the help of the Drakon Lord attacking from the front, the attack failed to impress the Ironclads.
It looked like the Elven attack, that by all means should have routed a few more enemies, was stopped in its tracks.
Fortunately for Elves, the outflanking Brock Riders were stopped from exploiting that situation. However, Dwarfs were preparing another counter attack. And Elven units were not prepared to receive it.
Fools - Turn 3
Dwarfs took the matters close and personal. Behemoth and very angry Shieldbreakers both charged the Elven Knights. Against such a powerful attack, even the elite warriors were not able to hold and many of them perished in that fight.
Nearby Palace Guard paid the highest price for their inefficiency too. Finally, the Berserker Lord charged the Drakon Lord, challenging Elven hero to a single combat.
Outcasts - Turn 4
|Elves can still punch hard!
Despite some unexpected drawbacks, Elves knew that the only way is to continue the attack. And so they did! Palace Guard on the left did not let the Rangers to regroup this time and routed them from the battle field.
Shieldbreakers suffered some more casualties from the shooting as they suddenly found themselves in the open. This time they too were damaged too badly to continue the fight.
Drakon Lord ignored the angry Berserker on even more angry Badger and pressed his attack against the regiment of the Ironclad. But was not able to rout them yet, even if their nerves were shaken.
Nearby Drakon Riders picked a completely new target and flew over the enemies, to attack the Sharpshooters. Dwarfs did not expect such an attack and did not prepare defensive shieldwall. They were scattered. Surprisingly, Paul the King was able to defeat another group of the Sharpshooters all on his own too! (Edit: this time, lucky high nerve roll allowed it after just a single point of damage was inflicted.)
Fools - Turn 4
|Another challenge by the Berserker Lord.
Dwarven army lost a significant number of units already but the remaining ones did not even think about surrendering. No matter how much damage they have suffered.
There were not many available targets for their attack though. Hence, only Behemoth and Flame Priest attacked Drakon Riders on the left and Berserker Lord challenged the Drakon Lord again in the centre.
The damage done with ranged attacks proved to be mediocre but Drakon Riders wavered nevertheless. Drakon Lord, on the other hand, ignored the Berserker Lord one more time.
Outcasts - Turn 5
|Elves rout two more Dwarven units.
Elves were quite methodical in their attacks. The Drakon Lord finally routed the badly damaged Ironclad while Paul the King assisted the Drakon Riders in defeating Brock Riders.
Fools - Turn 5
|Drakon Lord is finally defeated!
"FIGHT ME!" - shouted Berserker Lord but Elven noble either did not understand or preferred to ignore the challenge. It is quite likely it was the former, especially that the angry Dwarf added quite a long and colorful list of expressions that made even his usually angry Badger to close his ears. Infuriated to the extreme levels, Berserker Lord promptly knocked the Elven warrior unconscious and captured as a prisoner of war.
In the meantime, the Palace Guard got spooked by the fireworks initiated by the Flame Priest. No doubt due to complete disregard for any safety measures about using fire in the forest. Because of that, the Drakon Riders had no choice but to hold their ground and shield them from the wrath of Behemoth.
Last but not least, Paul the King did what he could to stop greedy Dwarfs from proceeding towards the treasure guarded by the second regiment of the Drakon Riders.
Outcasts - Turn 6
|Elves decided to play safe.
Thinking that they gained sufficient advantage in numbers, Elves avoided combats and focused on strategic positioning of their regiments. It appeared that they had a chance to control twice as many objectives than their opponents. That was, however, a mistake and a false sense of security.
Fools - Turn 6
|Dwarfs refused to cease fire.
Dwarfs, however, kept on going. The Flame Priest and Behemoth kept sending fiery projectiles at their Elven foes and Drakons finally were routed. The Phoenix Guard held their ground but were a bit far from the treasure at the moment.
Finally, Berserker Lord urged his trusty mount to race towards the other Drakon Riders, hoping there will be enough time to catch them and defeat them.
Outcasts - Turn 7
|The show must go on!
Elves found themselves in a strange situation. They had required superiority in the number of units but some of them were not in a good position. Either too far from the treasure or under direct threat. It meant that they needed to gamble and then see if the enemy would be able to recover one more time.
First, the Palace Guard attempted to capture the Flame Priest. If they succeed, they would have the opportunity to shift towards the objective. And perhaps get lucky in holding their ground against Behemoth. But that plan was quickly ruined by one, stubborn Dwarf with a beard that seemed to be constantly on fire.
Next, all the Elven shooters aimed at the isolated Ironclads. The arrows flew through the sky and many Dwarfs fell dead. But the rest remained steadfast.
Finally, Paul the King decided to challenge Berserker Lord and distract him from the Drakon Riders nearby. Perhaps it was the fatigue due constant galloping across the battle field and fighting many, often numerous enemies. Perhaps it was the mysterious, mirror like shield carried by the Dwarf that clearly showed in how poor condition the splendid Elven armour was now. Nobody really knows. It is sufficient to say that Paul the King failed to even scratch his opponent in a duel. The type of combat the Elven King was supposed to excel at!
Fools - Turn 7
|Dwarfs avoid a defeat!
Not only Elves put themselves in a difficult situation where all depended now on their enemy, but they also left a few openings that could, potentially, help the remnants of the Dwarven army to snatch the victory in the last possible moment!
First, Behemoth completely ignored the Palace Guard and aimed at the Silverbreeze. It was close but the swift riders managed to hold their ground. Just!
Then the foolish charge of the Elven King presented Dwarfs with another opportunity. Berskerker Lord urged the last regiment of Ironclad to join him in surrounding and capturing yet another Elven noble. Then, marching slowly towards the Drakon Riders and presented them with the offer they could not refuse. Abandon the treasure but safe the lives of their two noble warriors.
And thus, after a long and blood battle, none of the combatants could claim the victory and the survivors disengaged. Perhaps, one day, both armies will face each other again to settle the score.
|Turn-by-turn animation summary.
Many thanks to Erasmus for yet another fantastic game! This time, Paul the King did not save the day as he did in the previous battle against the Night Stalkers! Dwarfs, despite initial setbacks, remained stubborn and steadfast and that helped them to finished the battle with a draw as a result. Well done for never giving up and playing until the very last dice roll to avoid the defeat at the very least. And having a shot at emerging victorious too!
The game was full of unexpected turn of events. Some units were routed too early, some held their ground against all odds! Some performed much better than expected, while others disappointed unfortunately. I tried to capture these dramatic events in the story, I hope it gave you a glimpse at what happened!
In general, I am very happy with how the way the battle unfolded. I think my plan worked in principle. I was able to shift my army to the left flank and apply a significant pressure there. The shooting worked really well, so that when I was not able to rout Rangers, Shieldbreakers and Ironclads in turn 3, I still had opportunities to come back to the game.
It was very interesting to consider different options each turn and I still don't know for sure what would have been better. I am very intrigued as to what you would do differently. A few examples I considered in particular.
First, while the shooting was very good throughout the game, I think I made a mistake in target selection. Instead of shooting at the difficult to hit Flame Priest, I should have aimed at the last Ironclad unit. I was able to do it with the Archmage almost every turn. And with Sea Guard and Silverbreeze often enough too. That proved to be important for the end game.
Second, after being lucky and not losing Drakon Riders on the left flank due to shooting, I could execute a combined charge against Ironclads. Drakon Riders from the front and rear and the King from the front. I was, perhaps unnecessarily, concerned with the fact that Drakon Riders would have been hindered. And if I didn't break them, there was that angry Dwarf on a Badger to help with the fight. However, even if I lost both units, I would have been able to rout the enemy unit as well by other means. Either with the King or with shooting. In this way, only Behemoth would have remained against 2-3 units of my own.
Finally, the last thing to consider, was the mistake with the final charge by Paul the King. I missed the fact he can be charged by Ironclads as well and if they advanced far enough (needed 4+), they would have moved within 3" of the objective. Because they had higher Unit Strength than Drakons, they would have claimed it. And that's exactly what happened! So well done to Erasmus for spotting the chance and getting the desired result in the end!
I hope you enjoyed the battle report and thank you for reading!