[WFB] House of Kerithion

Trying a new tack with the Dark Elves – away from the Khainite bias and into something that forces me to adjust my style away from RUN FORWARD SHOUTING.

Lord: Supreme Sorceress: 350
– level 4 wizard
– Pendant of Khaeleth
– Dark Pegasus

Hero: Master: 113
– heavy armour, Sea Dragon cloak
– Crimson Death
– Army General

Hero: Master: 329
– lance, heavy armour, shield, Sea Dragon Cloak
– Manticore
– Ring of Hotek

Core: 39 Warriors: 293
– shields
– standard, musician, champion
– Banner of Murder

Core: 10 Crossbowmen: 105
– musician

Core: 10 Crossbowmen: 105
– musician

Core: 5 Dark Riders: 131
– repeater crossbows
– musician, champion

Core: Assassin: 171
– additional hand weapon
– Rending Stars, Cloak of Twilight, Manbane

Special: 7 Shades: 130
– Bloodshade

Rare: 2 Reaper Bolt Throwers: 200

TOTALS:
Overall: 1955
Lords: 350/500
Heroes: 442/500
Core: 805
Special: 130/1000
Rare: 200/500

Another of those ‘the best you can with what you’ve got’ jobs, I’m afraid. I’m acutely conscious that it doesn’t include any of the best stuff (a problem I’ve often had: the financial cost of Rare units and their position at the end of the army list combine to push them out of my awareness when list building), but I feel it should play a decent denial/attrition game, especially with the Lore of Shadows around to drop some hexes and reduce the resilience of key targets.

The Manticore Master and Assassin are both counter-attack units, who can also be recast as artillery/wizard hunters should the need arise. At a pinch, I can also slingshot the Master with Crimson Death out of his unit with Shadow Magic, if there’s something out there that absolutely has to die. Shades and Dark Riders put pressure on the enemy, either by being upfield and chucking out some respectably reliable firepower or just serving as delivery systems for the aforementioned characters. Crossbowmen and Spearmen move up and hold the midfield…

… I’m still not convinced there’s enough hitty in this list. Maybe I need to squash some Chariots in there somehow? What would you drop to fit them in, Internets?

[WFB] That's Not The Way To Do It At All

There are two ways to learn a new edition of a wargame.

There is the sensible way, where you wait for an appropriately-priced rulebook to be released, read through it several times – once for squee, once for confusion, once for slow parsing and then once more for actual tactical application – and play a series of smallish games using forces you’re comfortable with, concentrating on the interaction of new mechanics, in a safe and quiet environment free of pressures, with time to look up and discuss complex interactions as they emerge.

Then there’s the stupid way where you play a five-player team game in a Games Workshop branch with a rowdy, rambunctions bunch of old mates, only two of whom have seriously read the new rules, and a high chance of backseat gamers, self-appointed Sun Tzu, hobby elitists and all the other nuisances of the shop environment.

I am stupid. THEREFORE:

Dark Elves 8th Ed Test Run – 2498/2500
Lords – 470

Dreadlord (General) – 180
– repeater crossbow
– Tormentor Sword
– Armour of Darkness

Supreme Sorceress – 290
– Ring of Darkness
– Sacrifical Dagger

Heroes – 595

Master – 340
– heavy armour, shield, sea dragon cloak
– Deathpiercer, Ring of Hotek
– Manticore

Death Hag – 226
– Cauldron of Blood
– Army Standard

Core – 626

39 Warriors – 288
– shields
– standard, musician, Lordling

10 Crossbowmen – 100

10 Crossbowmen – 100

5 Dark Riders – 131
– repeater crossbows
– musician, Herald

Special – 637

21 Witch Elves – 275
– standard, musician, Hag
– Witchbrew, Banner of Swiftness

16 Executioners – 232
– standard, musician, Draich-master
– Banner of Eternal Flame

7 Shades – 130
– Bloodshade

Rare – 200

2 Reaper Bolt Throwers – 200

Dreadlord is in to snipe at things like Fanatics should any be present, and to provide an Ld10 bubble from the heart of the army. Was tempted to merge Crossbows into one big unit and give him the reroll-misses-when-shooting talisman. He gets a cheap magic sword in case of Wraiths – he can join the Spearmen and at least try to slap some wounds on them.

Sorceress goes in the Warrior horde and uses them as ablative wounds and power dice on legs (which should hopefully compensate for her lower level).

Master on Manticore dive-bombs whatever needs dive-bombing – trashes something big and scary like a War Altar and annoys people with his miscasty doom aura.

Death Hag does what Death Hags do – follow the army, being a very tough BSB that also hands out Stubborn to my signature units and buffs like they’re going out of fashion.

Spearmen horde take point. Deliver Sorceress into range and move up, daring charges – Sorceress will have something that still works in combat, be it a Soul Stealer, a Word of Pain or a Black Horror. If she rolls three missiles I’m entertainingly buggered.

Crossbows and Bolt Throwers are flank and rear guards for the army, chucking out volume of fire until they die.

Dark Riders are bait and blockers, as are Shades. Any casualties inflicted by them are a bonus.

Executioners are crap in the new rules but I’m taking them anyway so I can see how crap they are and whether the Cauldron helps them be not crap. Will probably use them to outflank anything fighting the Warriors.

Witch Elves move forward apace, charge in, chop up what they can and keep going until something dies. Switched their configuration around a bit. Suspect will miss Manbane/Armour Piercing combo after a while. Can’t be helped though.

Entry increasingly terse due to exciting sixteen hour day of restoring formatted computer to ordinary functioning, and being placed on hold by Department for Work and Pensions.

Has just occurred to me – members of Dark Elf team have not discussed who will take which items and spell lores to avoid duplication. Pre-game pre-amble could be VERY interesting…

Will try to report on game.

Bed now.

[WFB] Seventh Heaven

Apparently I am obliged to break up this ocean of armchair development and list building exercises with some actual narrative of games played, failures endured and lessons learned. No big battle report – because a) no pictures were taken and b) I honestly don’t think anyone actually enjoys blow-by-blow reports any more, we’ve all lost the knack for them – but since I’ve actually played a game this week, let’s have a practicehammer post for a change.


After the last game – the one that I… hold on… takes a while to get this out… bear with me… lost – I had the general feeling that it was a lack of aggression what done it, and Shiny counselled wedging my Sorceress into the enemy lines to march-block and fling Dark Magic at things from shorter distances. At the time, I pooh-poohed this suggestion (she’s expensive, too useful to die, and made of squish, you know, and the lads have things like short bows and Ratling Guns that she’s actually a bit scared of…) but I figured what the hell, it was Dave and his Goblins this week, and if I’m being cautious about fighting Goblins I probably need to give my Dark Elves back to the Evildoer Shop.

So, the new plan was for the two Warrior units to take point, with the Witch Elves and Executioners slightly further back in the customary flanking position. The Dark Riders went in front of the Witch Elves, both to screen them a little bit and also so they could rush the Goblin lines and blow out some Fanatics on the first turn. The Shades did something similar on the other flank, although I did have to set them up in the open (which I’m slightly worried about doing, since all it would have taken was the Goblins going first and that’d be the Shades gone, in all likelihood). Finally, the Sorceress went on a flank, positioned well away from the Ring of Hotek and ready to march block half Dave’s army on the second turn (once the Fanatics were safely out and in front of his army).

Dave has evidently also been thinking about his deployment; having finally gotten over his tendency to put Goblin archers on hills, where they may have line of sight and extra ranks to fire with but will never, ever be in range of anything, he’d stuck two long lines of them at the front of his army, with Spearmen, Shamans and Trolls following up behind. Now all I need to do is persuade him that Spider Riders need shortbows and musicians, not spears and standards…

My general approach to this game was “when in doubt, go balls out and get stuck in”, the exact opposite of the jockeying for position I’d pulled in the last game. It (mostly) worked. My Dark Riders and Shades not only blew out Dave’s Fanatics in the first turn, but also managed to wedge themselves deeper into the army and shoot up one of his Shamans and Battle Standard Bearer; the left flank, with the Witch Elves on, saw a unit of Spearmen fluke out and kill Dave’s Giant (thank you Cauldron of Blood and your bucket of extra attacks), rush on into the Great Shaman’s unit and decimate it, and then turn around to eat his token Black Orcs for breakfast.

Let’s stop here for a brief interlude about how awesome Witch Elves are.

Right.

Unfortunately, the continued awesomeness of one Khainite unit is counterbalanced by underperformance from the other. My Executioners haven’t been doing too well for themselves lately. This is mostly due to poor positioning and play on my part – the ‘balls to the wall’ thing doesn’t work too well when the balls are a unit of Dark Elf Warriors, the wall is made of Stone Trolls and a Goblin Big Boss, and the ensuing result isn’t even a gooey stain but actually a backwash of goo, blood and scrotal detritus that sprays the bloke standing behind…

That analogy got lost a bit. Anyway, mistakes were made. The Spearmen should have just walked up and stood in front of the Trolls and gone ‘charge us, charge us’ – even if they’d lost and fled, they’d have done so on the Goblin turn, allowing my Executioners to counter-charge, get to strike first, and actually do some damage. What actually happened involved the Spearmen charging, whiffing, fleeing, and the Trolls running into the Executioners, killing six and breaking them too. On my turn, the Executioners rallied, which of course put them in the perfect place to get charged again and wiped out. So yes. That was not the time or place for pure, unrepentant aggression. Lesson duly learned.

Since I’m going to be rejigging the army list for 8th edition anyway, I’m coming to the conclusion that the Executioners need both the charge, which I haven’t been able to achieve as often as I should, and something that swings faster than them in case they don’t get it. In 8th, this might be achievable with a Death Hag packing the Banner of Hag Graef (of course, that’s more character points, more fragile Haggery in the Heroes slot, and robbing the Cauldron of its contribution, which in turn would make me wonder whether the Cauldron was worth taking, just for a blessing every turn), or by sticking the Assassin back in so that something in there can chuck some attacks out and do some damage even if the Executioners are caught on the hop and don’t get to fight.

Of course, they’re far too cool and expensive to simply be delivery systems for the Assassin, so the actual solution is probably ‘replace them with another, non-rubbish unit’, but until I convince someone to re-employ me, I’m going to have to work with what I have. Of course, the second I do have a decent income again, I’ll be kitbashing at least two units of Black Guard… assuming I don’t just decide to play another, slightly tougher army. I keep looking at Beastmen, and there are signs emerging that suggest this to be a good idea: Shiny’s never actually seen them on the board, I’d have a lot of fun scratch-building and converting Chariots and Cygors and things, and there’s some talk about doing an escalation-type regular thing if we all decide to do new armies later in the year.

That sounded a bit like theory. Sorry, Shiny. I don’t think I can get through a post without thinking about the future at least a bit.

[WFB] Dark Elves vs. Shiny’s Skaven, 1500 points

I played my first game with my new (well, new second hand) Dark Elves last week – 1500 points, vs. Skaven, 1170 to me vs. 877 to him.   Minor victory. I’m well pleased.

I’d managed to write three army lists, none of which was quite in sync with the models I actually own. This was the best I could knock up on the day and there’s some stuff which I know doesn’t quite work.

Master (General) – 150
lance
repeater crossbow
heavy armour
Sea Dragon Cloak
Cold One
Seal of Ghrond

Sorceress – 160
extra magic level
Sacrificial Dagger

Assassin – 166
additional hand weapon
Rune of Khaine
Manbane
Cloak of Twilight

20 Warriors – 180
full command
War Banner

10 Crossbowmen – 100

5 Dark Riders – 131
repeater crossbows
Herald
musician

14 Executioners – 198
full command
(Assassin goes here)

14 Witch Elves – 200
full command
Cry of War
Banner of Murder

2 Repeater Bolt Throwers – 200

My opponent, the learned Dr. Shiny, has been playing Skaven for about fourteen years, much of it with the same collection.  The point I’m making is that he rocks it old-school: yes, he adds a few new tricks to his arsenal with every edition of the book that comes out, but he won’t leap on the new toys like Hell Pit Abominations immediately (not unless he can come up with a good, cheap conversion for them, anyway).

Chieftain (General)
no idea what he had – didn’t even see combat.

Warlock Engineer
level 2 wizard
Warpstone Armour
Warlock-Augmented Weapon

Warlock Engineer
level 2 wizard
Warp-Energy Condenser
Dispel Scroll

30 Clanrats
spears
full command
Warpfire Thrower

30 Clanrats
full command
Ratling Gun

30 Clanrats
full command
Ratling Gun

5 Rat Swarm bases

20 Plague Monks
full command
Banner of the Under-Empire

Terrain – off-centre ridge (hill, open ground) spanning the width of the board, small forests at the corner of the deployment zones.

We didn’t take photos and long battle reports without photos aren’t very clear/good/fun, so here are the edited highlights.

I botched my deployment, badly. The Dark Riders ended up on the side of the board covered by two Ratling Guns, with no space to move where they wouldn’t get shot up, while my combat units would limit the Bolt Throwers’ line of sight if they moved forward (and one of the Bolt Throwers regularly blocked the other from shooting the same target: must remember to stagger one of them back a little bit if they’re both in the same corner).

Shiny relies on his Rat Swarms to hold an enemy unit down long enough for the Plague Monks to outflank them and start rolling down the line. The Clanrats play it cagey, standing off and protecting the Ratling Guns and Warlocks unless they’re needed to fight something. It doesn’t work, though, if the Rat Swarms charge a unit of Witch Elves who proceed to butcher them in short order and roll on into his Plague Monks. Those units deadlocked for a turn while the armies shuffled back and forth for position and the Executioners moved around to set up a flank charge threat for any Skaven that dared to cross the last open ground into the Dark Elf lines. Alas, the Witch Elves couldn’t quite crack Plague Monk toughness, and the Monks overran into the Executioners’ flank.

I’d taken enough casualties from Skaven magic and shooting (lost all the Dark Riders, half the Spearmen and a wound off my General) to be tempted to call it there, but we have this policy. If any one of us is thinking about conceding, the other two have to explain how the game could still be turned around. Dave and Shiny and I are all regular victims of the Face – the baleful visage of defeat and complaining which says doom is certain and we should call the game there – but we all forget that a few good rolls can turn a game right around, and the Executioners weren’t dead yet. They ran, but the Monks didn’t catch them; they rallied, and the Monks fared less well by charging them in the front.

Once the Plague Monks were gone, the Executioners were in a position to roll up the Clanrat line, aided by my Sorceress throwing out clinical Blade Winds into unengaged units. I was very impressed with the Sacrificial Dagger and the Dark Magic spells in general; one second level wizard became enough to test Shiny’s about-average magic defences. She couldn’t quite hold him back (a few Scorches got through, wounding my General, stripping a rank off the Spearmen and Panicking the Dark Riders off the board), but she kept the Howling Warpgale nonsense in check and helped the Bolt Throwers whittle his General’s unit down.

My general spent most of the game chasing Ratling Guns (charge, fear test, Ratling Gun runs for the hills) and running away from Clanrat charges (failed charge leaves him caught between two Clanrat units’ charge arcs, he flees, Clanrats stall for a turn). While I was pleased with this spoiling role he performed, and his ability to absorb Ratling Gun fire, it wasn’t exactly reliable (Stupidity and all that) and I’m not convinced that something else wouldn’t serve me better.

The Assassin is obscenely good, and compensates for the Executioners’ low attacks characteristic very nicely.  Says Shiny: get in front of them, you’re dead. Manbane felt like overkill, but I don’t believe in list tailoring and I think I’d be glad of it against stuff with higher armour saves and Toughness stats, so it stays for now. He only got one crack at the Cloak of Twilight: again, it’s in there to handle artillery (like Dave’s damn accurate stone thrower), so it stays for now. If points are shaved, though, it’s likely to be from the Assassin’s gear and the War Banner on the Spearmen (pointless: they’re ablative wounds and Power dice for the Sorceress, nothing more).

Also, I want a Cauldron of Blood, badly. While the Executioners and Assassin did very well for themselves, both the Witch Elves and Executioners failed Break tests which they’d have passed with Stubborn. Not quite sure how I’d fit one in at 1500 points – maybe I couldn’t – but it’s definitely something to bear in mind for the future, and it definitely fits in with all the other Khainite nonsense I have going on.

Many of my units were under half strength at the end, and both my characters were wounded, which gave away about 350 victory points and stopped me contesting table quarters (bagging Shiny another 100). Still – minor victory! Not bad for my first time out.