Thursday, 5 December 2013

Wargamer '13 - The Battle of Kirkburn Bridge

It's taken me a few days, but I've finally got round to uploading all the pictures from last weekend's Wargamer show in Great Barr, Birmingham. Yet again, it was a sparsely attended affair, which seems strange considering how many hundreds attend the "West Midlands Military Show" each year just a few miles further up the M6. A distance of just some 15 or so miles from each other, and yet a vast gulf in attendance numbers, which is disappointing. 

Attendance aside though, it was another successful show for us as we put on our "Battle of Kirkburn Bridge c.1314". Loosely taking elements from the battles of Bannockburn, Falkirk and Stirling Bridge, the scenario pitched the hastily assembled Scots of Robert the Bruce against a two-pronged attack from Edward II's English, who themselves had to struggle across two rivers to close on the Scots. 

The Scots had assembled three divisions under the overall command of Robert the Bruce: Robert's brother Edward commanded one half of the Scottish spearmen, while the Earl of Moray brought his own troops to the foray, and Angus og McDonald roused the Highlanders and Islesmen to their king's cause. 

Edward II's forces were more or less evenly divided between three of his earls: the Earl of Pembroke, Aymar de Valance, commanded English Spearmen and his own archers and knightly retinue; Henry de Bohun, the Earl of Hereford, commanded the same, while Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester, was given the bulk of the English knights alongside more spearmen and archers. 

For this first outing, Paul was given command of the Scots whilst Gary took the part of Gilbert de Clare (on account of his Gloucester heritage), leaving me with Hereford, Pembroke and Edward II himself. The rules used were 'Hail Caesar' from Warlord Games. So, without further ado, I'll let the pictures do the talking!

The Scots, not certain of the English positions, ready themselves in a corner

The Scottish right flank - Angus og McDonald's Highland division

View from the Scottish right flank

Robert the Bruce surveys his troops

The English enter the field! Pembroke in the bottom-right, Hereford just in
the picture bottom-left and Gloucester in the very far left corner of the board

Pembroke's view of the Scottish left flank in the distance

Hereford makes his entrance, approaching the aforementioned "Kirkburn Bridge"

Gloucester brings his troops on across the ford

The Scottish advance is slow, too slow to prevent the English crossing both the ford and the bridge

Gloucester's knights manoeuvre around the house to avoid the bottleneck

Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester himself

The Highlanders slowly make their way out of their deployment zone!

The view of the battlefield as the battle lines approach

The Scots finally get their act together and make more than a single move in a turn!

A (very yellow) shot of the clash in the centre of the board, as units engage across all fronts.

The combat that would prove decisive - Clifford's retinue (along with a few Welsh Javelinmen)
thoroughly trounce the Islesmen, and create a gaping hole in the Scottish flank...

...which allowed the knights to pounce on the vulnerable archers to the Scottish rear.

The Earl of Moray engages in a complete stand-off with the Earl of Pembroke,
with neither command contributing much to the battle...

...leaving Gloucester and his knights to run rampant in the Scottish rear

The Men of Shropshire see off Edward Bruce and his spearmen

The Highlanders and de Monthermer's knights beat seven bells out of each other,
while the rest of the Scottish line gradually falls apart.

The Highlanders finally succumb to the knightly efforts of de Monthermer's retinue, just as Robert the Bruce succeeds in forcing his way through the English line. Too little too late for the Scots though

Meanwhile, Pembroke and Moray's command continue to stare at each other
across the marsh, until Hereford's knights come across to stir things up

It was at this point, with two out of three Scottish brigades utterly trounced and the third completely outnumbered and surrounded, that the English declared victory and the remaining Scots fled with their tails firmly between their legs. It had taken us just a little less than three hours to play to this point, despite regularly stopping to chat to the many people (relatively speaking, given the general dearth of attendees) who expressed an interest in what we were doing and were really impressed with how we were doing it, and so we decided to have a quick break to browse the show and then reset, this time switching commands so that Gary was in charge of the Scots and Paul ended up with Gloucester's command.

The Scots deploy again, and already the game is shaming up to be
a very different affair - a solid wall of spearmen presents itself!

A close up of the Men of Shropshire regiment, with Henry de Bohun in the background.

The Scots advance in unison, still presenting a solid wall of spears on all fronts.

The English repeat their speedy early advance of the first game,
with Pembroke's command determined to make it across the marsh this time!

Once again the battle lines approach, but in the distance events have unfolded much quicker than before...

Unfortunately, up until this point, I have no pictures to detail what had occurred with Paul's command attempting to cross the ford. Whereas in the first game Gloucester's knights had been the ones to break through the Scottish line, the second game saw it all go wrong for Paul again. Preferring to continue advancing in the face of the enemy rather than deploy and take the inevitable charge, Paul's infantry was caught in column soon after crossing the ford and was hurled back against the banks of the river in short order. This left one unit of knights stuck in column in the ford itself and the other stuck in column impotently on the other side of the river. Driven on by their uncontrollable nature (represented by the "Frenzied Charge" rule), the knights were forced onto the Scottish spears and quickly destroyed.

The situation on the Scottish right quickly reaches it's conclusion; in a desperate attempt to break out, Paul throws his last knights and Welsh Javelinmen against Lennox's spearmen blocking the ford. Inevitably, they're thrown back and destroyed in short order. 

Leaving Hereford to face the bulk of the Scottish army, whilst Pembroke
struggles across the marsh in the face of Moray's forces.

Slowly but surely Pembroke makes his way across the marsh and confronts the Scots. 

Edward II leads from the rear!

The Royal Spearmen, backed by the Earl himself, force their way slowly
through the Scots spears, but lose their archers to Moray's knights in return.
It was at this point that we called the game. Pembroke's command was struggling across the marsh, making headway but not quickly enough to assist Hereford. With two untouched divisions of Scottish infantry bearing down on him, the Earl of Hereford was in a pickle and no mistake. While we hadn't played the game to it's conclusion, the utter failure of Gloucester's command had left the other English brigades in an untenable position, and so we awarded victory to the Scots. 

All told, two very quick, bloody and decisive games played, innumerable positive comments and a lot of interest from passersby. We were a bit disappointed not to come away with the award for Best Display Game, especially given the other games on offer (which we were not at all impressed with, by and large). It might seem arrogant to go around "knowing" your game is the best on show, but in this case I truly believe that it was. Wargamer uses a vote to decide the best game, with each group of gamers given a vote. The downside of this system is that it requires people from each display game to actually go around and *look* at the other games on offer, which very few people did. I know for certain that the people who actually came and looked at our game also voted for it, because they all said as much! A vote may be the "fairest" way of deciding the best game at a show, but it also requires the gamers to be active participants in the voting which sadly isn't the case, as many of the gamers at Wargamer are not interested in looking around the show itself...

Anyway, now I've got that bugbear out of the way, I'll get back to the good stuff. I didn't take many pennies with me to the show, on account of the fact that Christmas is coming and I'm also trying to curb my spending when it comes to figures, but I did take the opportunity to pick up some Early Imperial Romans from Colonel Bill's - enough for a unit each of Auxiliary Archers and Auxiliary Cavalry. These will go along nicely with the plastic Roman legionaries I have from Warlord Games (which have been sitting in a box since last year) and a bunch of Foundry Roman Legionaries that I got cheap from Stafford Games a couple of weeks ago. These will form the basis for the first big project of 2014, which I'll go into in a future post!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

I'm sure time speeds up the closer we get to the end of the year. It certainly doesn't feel like a month has gone by since my last blog post, but there you go! Apologies for the big absence - a combination of holidays, work and preparations for Christmas have left me little time for blogging or, indeed, the hobby itself. I'm looking to get a few bits and bobs finished off before the end of the year, so hopefully I'll still manage to fit a couple more posts in before 2013 comes to a close. 

But back to this post. It's St. Andrew's day, the national day of Scotland. Now, I'm not Scottish and so have no real reason to celebrate but, as luck would have it, it's rather appropriate for the topic of this post. 

As regular readers (if there are any...) might know, every so often myself and G of G's Spot fame get involved with wargames shows and take on the challenge of putting on demo games. You can read about a few of our past efforts here.

So how does this relate to St. Andrew's Day or Scotland?

Well, it just so happens that our latest offering is a Bannockburn-era "Wars of Scottish Independence" game, prepared for the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn next year (24th June 2014). It also just so happens that tomorrow will see the first outing for said game, at the relatively-local Wargamer show in Great Barr, Birmingham. It's perhaps fortuitous for the English player (i.e. me) that we're playing the day after St. Andrew's Day, rather than on the patron saint's day itself! Not that it will help my dice rolling any, of course!

So, if anyone's in the vicinity of Great Barr tomorrow, pop in to Wargamer and say hello!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Throne of Skulls - Day 2

So after the hammering I'd received on Day 1, plus staying up late to join in with the Bugman's Bar Pub Quiz, I'd developed a massive headache on the drive home from Nottingham. Day 2 nearly didn't happen, as I missed my alarm and just about managed to get to Warhammer World for 9.15am on Sunday morning (with Game 4 starting at 9.30!) Would fortune deal me a different hand today?

Day 2

Game 4: Watchtower
Jim Cockburn - Khorne Warriors

Well, apparently not. Watchtower (the least favourable scenario for Wood Elves) against Khornate Warriors (probably the best troops to occupy a Watchtower!) Jim himself took one look at the table and my army, and instantly apologised for what was to come. I had no units that I could comfortably put in the Watchtower (except squishy archers, or minimum-sized Dryad units), and if Jim got his Warriors in the tower then I had nothing that would be able to get them to budge...

Jim's army was:
  • Angry-Ron, Khorne Lord on Juggernaut
  • Exalted BSB (with Warriors)
  • 15 Warriors of Khorne, additional hand weapons
  • 24 Marauders of Khorne
  • 5 Marauder Horsemen of Khorne
  • Warshrine
  • Slaughterbrute
  • Gorebeast Chariot
  • Hellcannnon
Jim's Khorne Lord, Angry-Ron
We began by rolling for who gained control of the watchtower, and I found myself winning the roll. If I placed a unit in the tower, I'd have found myself on the receiving end of a first turn charge from Jim's warriors. If I didn't place a unit in the tower, I'd give Jim an open road to move his warriors into the tower unopposed, and I'd never be able to get them out. A tough choice, but I decided to forgo the opportunity to deploy in the tower and instead deployed everything in my deployment zone. Jim responded by deploying his army in bulk, with the Warriors directing opposite the watchtower so that they could race inside as quickly as possible.

Jim received the first turn, and immediately the Warriors marched up to the walls of the watchtower in the certainty that they'd be able to enter before I could do anything about it. The Marauder Horsemen marched right into the face of the Eternal Guard, in between the wood and the corner of the watchtower. 

Jim's shooting consisted of just five throwing axes from the Horsemen into the Eternal Guard, and the Hellcannon landing a shot bang on top of them as well, combining to remove a rank. Magic saw the Warshrine bless the BSB and two unit champions with various bonuses...

My turn saw the Eternal Guard charge the Horsemen and slice through them, although they didn't overrun. The Dryads moved into the wood while the Treekin marched up as far as they could to the watchtower, with the Eagle moving ahead to block Angry-Ron. The Glade Guard advanced to get clear lines of sight. Magic achieved nothing, while shooting started taking the Marauders down and attempted to damage the Gorebeast chariot without success.

Turn Two, and Jim moved his Warriors into the tower as expected. The Gorebeast charged the Eagle, who fled and allowed Angry-Ron to then charge into the Treekin. The Slaughterbrute attempted to charge the Eternal Guard but failed to achieve the distance (the Marauders would have charged as well, but Jim couldn't fit both units in combat around the watchtower and so chose just to charge with the Slaughterbrute). The Hellcannon failed it's control test and was forced to attempt a charge against the nearest Eagle, although it failed to reach it by an inch. The slaughter unleashed by the Khorne Lord more than made up for the failed charges though, as he cut through four Treekin in one go. Unsurprisingly they broke and fled, although Angry-Ron could only catch the already-fleeing Eagle rather than the Treekin themselves. 

In response, the EG charged the Marauders while both Dryad units charged the Slaughterbrute (one in the front, one in the flank). The Spellweaver and Scouts moved up behind the EG, as it was the only place to avoid Angry-Ron's charge arc! The Treekin managed to rally right in front of Angry-Ron, while the small Glade Guard shuffled over to get a shot at the Khorne Lord. The Weaver attempted to skewer Angry-Ron with an Amber Spear, but was denied by his ward save. The big Glade Guard managed to take a wound from the Gorebeast Chariot but it kept on rolling inexorably towards them. The Eternal Guard broke the Marauders easily, but chose not to pursue and instead to reform to face the tower as I had to do something about those Warriors sitting inside! Unfortunately, despite inflicting two wounds on the Slaugherbrute, the Dryads were slaughtered in return and only four of the flanking unit were left to flee from the combat as the Slaughterbrute ran the other unit down. 

T3, and the Slaugherbrute carried on charging forward into the nearby small Glade Guard unit, despite losing another wound to the Stand & Shoot. The Gorebeast finally managed to reach the big Glade Guard unit, who took another wound with their S&S. The Warshine continued to bless the BSB and Warriors champion with bonuses, while the Marauders managed to rally. Rather than charge the Treekin,  Angry-Ron instead chose to march around to get into position to charge the Weaver and her bodyguard. Unsurprisingly, the Gorebeast Chariot broke the big Glade Guard unit but in a real turn up for the books, the small Glade Guard unit managed to kill the Slaughterbrute before it could attack! 

My turn again, and the Eternal Guard mustered the courage to charge into the watchtower and attempt to take on the Warriors. The Dryads failed to rally and came within an inch of fleeing the table, although the big Glade Guard decided they'd had enough and fled the field. The Scouts and small Glade Guard did what they could to avoid Angry-Ron's charge arc again, although the Glade Guard couldn't totally avoid it. The Weaver again tries to Amber Spear Angry-Ron to death, this time getting past his ward but only managing to roll one wound! To make matters worse, the Eternal Guard are completely wiped out by the Chaos Warriors (although my BSB managed to hit, wound and kill with all three of his attacks - most definitely the most he's ever achieved, because he's never rolled more than one hit before ever!)

Jim's turn and Angry-Ron forces the small Glade Guard to finally quit the field while the Gorebeast attempted to rejoin the action. The Hellcannon fired a perfect shot right on top of the Spellweaver's unit, killing all the Scouts but somehow failing to kill the Spellweaver, reducing her to just one wound. 

Clearly, this really annoyed the Weaver - to take her revenge, she finally managed to throw a killer Amber Spear through Angry-Ron's black heart and taking him out (although the Treekin had attempted to charge him instead, just as a precaution). The last Glade Guard continued to reduce the Marauders, while the Dryads manage to rally on the table edge. Back over to Jim and the Gorebeast ploughed into the rear of the Treekin while the Warriors sat comfortably in their watchtower. Naturally, the Gorebeast destroyed the Treekin, leaving my Spellweaver with a perfect shot for her Amber Spear. She duly obliged in my own turn, as did the Glade Guard who finished off the Marauders. 

The game ended up running all the way through to Turn 10 and right up to the time limit. By this point, we'd drawn quite a crowd of spectators (including the GW Event team!) who'd come to watch what had turned into an epic battle! By the time the game finally ended (obviously with Jim in control of the watchtower) I had a small unit of Glade Guard, half a unit of Dryads, and Eagle and a Spellweaver with one wound, while Jim had his Hellcannon, Warshrine, BSB and 12 Warriors left. 

Result: Loss

So another Loss, and with only one game left this was my last chance to recover some pride. I ended up facing off against Graeme Clarke and his Dark Elves - just like me, Graeme had lost his first four games as well...

Game 5: Dawn Attack
Graeme Clarke - Dark Elves

Graeme had resisted the urge to take many of the new Dark Elf toys in his list, and instead he had gone with something more "traditional", although he also fielded the first Special Character I'd seen over the weekend:

  • Morathi (with Corsairs)
  • Lv.2 Sorceress (with Corsairs)
  • BSB Master (with Corsairs)
  • 10 Repeater Crossbows with Musician and Banner
  • 10 Repeater Crossbows with Musician and Banner
  • 40? Corsairs with Musician and Banner
  • War Hydra
  • War Hydra
  • Reaper Bolt Thrower
  • Reaper Bolt Thrower
  • Bloodwrack Medusa
  • 5 Shades with Great Weapons
The deployment rolls were fairly kind to both of us: I ended up winning the roll off and deploying first, and ended up with a single unit of Dryads on the right flank, a unit of Dryads, the Treekin and Scouts with Weaver on the left, and everything else in the centre. I stacked everything towards the left flank, deploying the big GG and one small GG on the right of centre, the EG and second small GG on the left of centre, with the TK next to those GG and the Dryads on the left of the TK. One Eagle hid behind the EG, the other deployed behind the big GG.

Graeme ended up with a Bolt Thrower on his left, one unit of Crossbows on his right and everything else in the centre. He decided to stack both Hydras, both Bolt Throwers and the Medusa on his left flank (turns out he was terrified of what my shooting and Amber Spear could do to his Hydras, which I was quite surprised by)

I managed to win the roll off and chose to go first, to take advantage of my greater shooting range (30" for Wood Elves, compared to just 24" for his Crossbows). The Dryads on both flanks marched straight forward as far as they could, with both Eagles doing the same to hide behind both woods in an effort to avoid the worst of Graeme's shooting. The Treekin marched to threaten the Corsairs, with the Eternal Guard moving up to the watchtower to threaten the Shades or Corsairs as the situation dictated. Magic saw the Shades fall foul to Curse of Anraheir, which would severely hamper their shooting and would force them to take Dangerous Terrain tests if they moved anywhere. Shooting saw the right hand Glade Guard units begin the punishment of the Crossbows on my right - even at extreme long range, they managed to kill half the unit but the Druchii passed their Panic test. The Glade Guard on the left began the long process of whittling down the Corsairs, but could only manage a single casualty. 

Graeme's turn began rather more cautiously than I was expecting. He chose to move the Shades away from the Eternal Guard and out of the watchtower, but suffered three casualties as a result of Curse of Anraheir. The Hydras edged forwards between the two Bolt Throwers, being careful not to obscure their line of sight, while the Medusa moved around alongside the Crossbows to get a clear shot at the Eagle lurking behind the wood. The Corsairs, accompanied by the BSB and Morathi, inched forwards very slightly to avoid moving through the wood and to leave only long charges if the Treekin and Eternal Guard wanted to make it into combat, while the Sorceress decided she didn't like their company and left the unit. The right-hand Crossbows moved as far as they could to get into range of the Glade Guard, while the left-hand Crossbows were already in range of the Dryads but failed to inflict any damage when the time came. Graeme's magic had the potential to be very dangerous, and I chose to use my Dispel Scroll straight away when he tried to use Spirit Leech on my BSB. The Corsairs took a couple of wounds from the Eagle but not enough to kill it, the Shades achieved nothing thanks to Curse of Anraheir again, the Medusa managed to pluck the Eagle from the sky, while the combined fire of two Bolt Throwers and the Crossbows on the right could only kill three of the small Glade Guard unit, who passed their Panic test with ease. 

My Turn 2 saw an early charge attempt from the Eternal Guard and Treekin into the Corsairs only half succeed, as the Eternal Guard made the distance but the Treekin fell short. This wasn't what I had hoped for! Elsewhere, the Dryads on the right began to toy with the Hydras, moving up on the right-hand side of the wood, out of charge arc. The Dryads on the left employed a similar ploy with the Crossbows, entering the wood and forcing the Crossbows to move if they wanted a clear shot before the impending charge. The remaining Eagle flew over the Dark Elf line in order to threaten the flank of the first Bolt Thrower, forcing Graeme to deal with it somehow. The Glade Guard continued their shooting, with the Crossbows on the right removed completely. The two remaining Shades survived the few shots that managed to hit them. The combat between the Corsairs and the Eternal Guard ended up completely level, despite Morathi killing the Eternal Guard champion in a challenge. 

Graeme's second turn saw the remaining Crossbows fail their swift reform to face the Dryads, preventing them from shooting at the forest spirits coming their way. The Medusa had to do something about the remaining Eagle and so moved across to get another clear shot, removing the last wound from the birdie. The Hydras continued to dance with the Dryads, both of them moving to line up a charge, while the two remaining Shades hit the flank of the Eternal Guard with their great weapons. Morathi again tried to Spirit Leech my BSB, but I managed to dispel this, so instead she cast Doom & Darkness , reducing their Ld by 3, and Word of Pain on them. Graeme's shooting again fell short of expectations with the two Bolt Throwers only managing to kill two more Glade Guard, who again passed their Panic test. The combat saw things swing in Graeme's favour, however, as Morathi succeeded in cutting down my BSB in another challenge and the Corsairs took bloody chunks out of the Eternal Guard. The Guard lost the combat with just two of their number alive, were no longer Stubborn and were taking a Break test on basic Ld6 thanks to Doom & Darkness. They needed Insane Courage and unsurprisingly failed to roll the necessary double 1s. Graeme pursued with the Shades and ran the unit down, while the Corsairs restrained themselves to face the oncoming Treekin.

Turn 3, and the Treekin attempted to make amends for their earlier failed charge by smashing in to the Corsairs, while the left-hand Dryads did the same against the Crossbows (who did no damage with their S&S). On the right, the Dryads couldn't totally avoid the Hydras' charge arc, but more importantly managed to make it into the nearby wood and thus become Stubborn against whatever was coming their way. The Glade Guard continued to advance on Graeme's remaining units, with the right-hand units attempting to take out one or both of the Bolt Throwers but failing. The left-hand Glade Guard tried to take out the onrushing Shades, but could only kill one of them. Both combats went my way, as the Dryads reduced the Crossbows by half and the Treekin took out plenty of Corsairs for only two wounds in return, but both units passed their Steadfast Break tests and held. 

Graeme's turn again and one of the Hydras finally managed to catch the elusive Dryads, although the other Hydra was unable to assist it's kin so instead repositioned to help out in the next turn. The Medusa slithered across behind the Corsairs in an attempt to assist the Crossbows out on the left. Magic saw Morathi attempt to use Spirit Leech on my Spellweaver, but the Hag Sorceress lost the roll-off. The Bolt Throwers had another abysmal round of shooting, reducing the small Glade Guard unit on the right down to three. Things went from bad to worse for Graeme as the Dryads on the left killed the remaining Crossbows in short order and reformed to face the Medusa, and the Treekin inflicted another devastating round of casualties on the Corsairs who this time broke and fled, taking the BSB and Morathi with them. The unit fled 8", Morathi fled 9", the Treekin pursued 10" and caught them both. That just summed Graeme's day up. The one upside for Graeme was that the Hydra managed to toast four of the Dryads it was facing for no wounds in return, but the Forest Spirits passed their Break test and held. 

In to Turn 4, and it was effectively all over. The Dryads charged the Medusa, the Glade Guard finished off the last Shade and shot down the lone Sorceress, while the Treekin stood still in an attempt to avoid adding to Graeme's suffering. The Dryads fighting the Medusa easily beat it and ran the creature down, while the Dryads on the right managed to hold on against the Hydra with just a single model remaining. Graeme's Turn 4 saw the other Hydra join the combat and finally kill the last Dryad, overrunning through the forest to threaten the Glade Guard who had survived for so long. The Bolt Throwers then finally succeeded in killing the unit of Glade Guard they'd been shooting at for four turns. 

Turn 5 saw salt well and truly rubbed into Graeme's wounds, as the untouched big Glade Guard unit simply swift reformed and sent arrow after arrow plunging into the approaching Hydra, sending it crashing to the ground in an astounding display of failed armour saves. With only one Hydra and two Bolt Throwers remaining, Graeme's turn was short and sweet. The last Hydra marched up to the big Glade Guard unit and spat fire all over them, killing half their number in one go and forcing them to flee towards the table edge. The Bolt Throwers again fluffed their shots and failed to inflict further damage on the fleeing Glade Guard. 

We had 15 minutes left at this point, and Graeme insisted we play to the end and let the game run it's course. The Glade Guard rallied, the Hydra survived the incoming spells and arrows, and then failed it's final charge before the Bolt Throwers had the last act of the battle as they took a final two casualties from the big Glade Guard unit, who this time held their ground and remained on the field. 

Graeme had his Hydra and two Bolt Throwers remaining. I had a unit of Dryads, the Treekin, my Scouts and Spellweaver, a small unit of Glade Guard and five members of the big Glade Guard unit still on the table. 

Result: Win!

So, come the final game of the weekend, I had recovered some pride and wouldn't go away with a 100% losing record. I felt incredibly sorry for Graeme after the game (well, from about Turn 2 onwards actually...) - you could tell by the end that he was getting fed up of things not going his way at all, but he remained a great sport and tried to keep his head up throughout. It would have been a much closer call if his dice had not been so tragically bad (four turns to kill ten unarmoured archers?!?!), but I can't deny the relief I felt when I saw his army across the table before deployment and I knew I had a good chance of at least a Draw. 

Graeme was one of only four Dark Elf players at the event, despite them having the very latest army book - I thought they'd be all the rage but that honour, perhaps unsurprisingly, went to the Warriors of Chaos with 19 representatives. Ironically enough though, it was a Dark Elves army that won the event!

As for me, I'd rescued my pride in the very last game and achieved my objectives of not losing every game and not coming absolute last. In the end, I only gained 6 points from a possible 20 but this was enough to ensure I came 71st out of 98 - not absolute last! I was also given the "Defender of Athel Loren" award for Best Wood Elves Player! (we'll quietly gloss over the fact that I was also the only Wood Elves player!!) 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Throne of Skulls - Day 1

And so it was, on a soggy October weekend, that the Throne of Skulls was held at Warhammer World and the Wood Elves took to the field for a series of five battles over the course of two days. Going in to the tournament, I had only two hopes - that I wouldn't lose all my games, and that I wouldn't come completely last!

Of course, I wouldn't be doing myself any favours in the victory department by taking Wood Elves (as the most out-of-date army book available, they're right down at the bottom of the power scale!) but I never intended to go and crush all my opponents (plus, I'm not that good a player!) - I was there for the experience, to mingle with a whole new bunch of players and to enjoy a bunch of games against a new and exciting armies.

The only downside for the weekend was that, as the action was pretty frantic, I didn't have much time or opportunity to take pictures of the games in progress and so I'm afraid you'll have to make do with my memory and dodgy MS Paint maps. I took a few notes after each game to capture the most important events, but I'm bound to have forgotten some details so rather than in-depth accounts I'm going to just try and give a general overview of each game. You'll just have to bear with me I'm afraid!

As I've posted before, the list I took was as follows: 

Spellweaver ~ 275pts
- Lv.4, Dispel Scroll

Noble ~ 140pts
- BSB, Armour of Silvered Steel, Luckstone

Eternal Guard (24) ~ 343pts
- Warbanner, Full Command

Glade Guard (16) ~ 220pts
- Standard Bearer, Musician, Banner of Eternal Flame

Glade Guard (10) ~ 126pts
- Musician

Glade Guard (10) ~ 126pts
- Musician

Dryads (8) ~ 96pts

Dryads (8) ~ 96pts

Treekin (6) ~ 390pts

Scouts (5) ~ 85pts

Great Eagle ~ 50pts

Great Eagle ~ 50pts

Total = 1997pts

Day 1

Having not gone up to Nottingham on Friday night to pre-register and with road works on seemingly every road into the city centre this weekend, I erred on the side of caution and got up extra early on Saturday morning to make the drive down. I got to Warhammer World as the doors were opening, headed straight to the Event team to register and then headed into Bugman's Bar to sit down for breakfast and a coffee to wake me up!

9.30am came around quickly and it was on with some trepidation to the first game

Game 1: Battleline
John Lammin - Lizardmen

John with his "Priest of the Old Ones" Best of Race certificate

John's army was pretty standard for Lizardmen:

  • Slann (with Temple Guard)
  • Lv.1 Skink Priest (with Skinks)
  • Scar Veteran (with Saurus)
  • Scar Veteran (with Saurus)
  • 24? Temple Guard
  • 24 Saurus
  • Stegadon
  • Bastiladon
  • 10 Skink Skirmishers
  • 10 Skink Skirmishers
  • 10 Skink Skirmishers

Deployment was as pictured in my dodgy map below:

I had 11 deployment drops compared to John's eight, so the roll-off for first turn was against me and John ended up with the first turn. Naturally, his Skinks all legged it to get into range of their blowpipes as quickly as possible while his dinosaurs and lizards in the centre slogged straight across the centre of the table towards my bowline. Thanks to being magically marched further across the table the Skinks on my right got into range of the lone Eagle, while the Slann casually sucked the souls from 10 (!!) of the Eternal Guard with Soul Quench. When shooting came around it quickly saw both Pigeons collapse in piles of feathers, although I was relieved to find that the central Skink unit hadn't quite managed to get close enough to blast at my Glade Guard. My return fire saw the central Skink unit eradicated, although the lucky Skink Priest survived, while the Eternal Guard and Treekin moved up to take position around the watchtower. 

The one available photo of the first game, courtesy of
Warhammer World's Facebook page. That's my arm! 

John's next turn saw the Lizards in the middle continue advancing, with the Stegadon racing ahead to charge the Eternal Guard and the Saurus entering the watchtower. I lost some Glade Guard to a bit of Skink shooting and more Eternal Guard died to the magical onslaught before being battered by impact hits and Thunderstomp, but they held thanks to Stubborn. My turn saw the Dryad units charge the Skinks and Bastiladon respectively, although both Lizard units managed to hold against the charges. The Treekin milled around on the flank of the Eternal Guard, apparently reluctant to do anything (I can't now remember why they didn't charge into the Saurus in the building - there must have been some reason they couldn't, because it would have been the smart move at this point...). Shooting killed more Temple Guard, while John stubbornly refused to let me cast any spells (all the 1s weren't helping either...).

The subsequent turns saw the Saurus exit the watchtower on the flank of the Treekin, who reformed to face the charge. The Eternal Guard refused to give in to the Stegadon as John had a bunch of fluffed attacks and the Eternals took the Steg down to two wounds, while the Dryads finally finished off the Skinks and took the Bastiladon down to one wound. Unfortunately, the Wood Elves weren't quite getting the job done quickly enough - the untouched Saurus smashed into the Treekin, who decided discretion was the better part of valour, failed their Ld6 Break test (with a reroll) and quickly broke, allowing the Saurus to overrun into the Eternal Guard and slaughter them, while the much-shot-at Temple Guard kept up the advance and charged the big Glade Guard unit who also sensibly fled out of range. The Dryads finally finished off the Bastiladon and Skinks, just in time for the reformed Stegadon to smash through one Dryad unit and then overrun into the next and Thunderstomp all over them. The remaining Skink unit made short work of blowpiping the Scouts and Spellweaver to death. The two small Glade Guard units did their best to whittle down the Temple Guard and get at the Slann, reducing them down to just a Champion and Standard (plus the Frog) but it wasn't enough as the Treekin and big Glade Guard fled the table and left the two small Glade Guard to be slaughtered by Skinks and Saurus.

Result: Loss

Well, I was off to as good a start as expected! You'd think after all the games I've played against Lizardmen in the past few months I'd have a better way of dealing with them by now, but clearly not. They're still tough as nails and John went on to be the Best Lizardmen player for a reason. In all fairness, it could have been a lot worse (or at least, ended just as badly but a lot quicker). Interesting factoid - for the whole game, both of us managed to roll at least one 1 for the Winds of Magic dice, which meant we never got above 7 Power Dice in any turn. I imagine it would have been a lot more painful if John had had a full 12 Power Dice (or even just 11 or 10) at his disposal. The key turning point was of course the Treekin combat. I can't think why I didn't charge them at the Saurus in the tower, but if they had I'd have been much better off - it would have cancelled out all the static Combat Resolution (ranks, standard etc.) the Saurus had and would have not seen the whole flank of the army collapse (although the Eternal Guard would still have died, and then I'd probably have had a Stegadon in the flank, but it would have kept the rest of my army out of trouble). I also really need to stop letting the Eternal Guard take on Stegadons, because it never ends well...

On to Game #2 then!

Game 2: Blood & Glory
Liam Howie - Orcs & Goblins

Ah, the dreaded Blood & Glory, second only to Watchtower in my "least favourite scenario" stakes. With 3 of my 5 Fortitude located in squishy units of unarmoured T3 elves (and the other 2 in a bigger squishy unit of slightly armoured T3 elves...) one wrong move can cost me the game - so it proved against Howie...

Howie before the bad times began, and the dice abandoned him...

Howie's list was something like this:

  • Black Orc Warlord
  • Lv.4 Orc Great Shaman
  • Lv.2 Night Goblin Shaman
  • Orc BSB
  • Night Goblin Warboss on Great Cave Squig
  • Night Goblin Big Boss on Great Cave Squig
  • Night Goblin Big Boss on Great Cave Squig
  • 3 Wolf Chariots
  • 3 Wolf Chariots
  • 2 Wolf Chariots
  • 10 Orc Arrer Boyz with banner
  • 40 Orc Big 'Uns with full command

Howie should also have had two Mangler Squigs, but was unfortunately unable to use them and so had to make up the points adding extra wolves, extra goblin crew, and various other bits and bobs around his army (as he'd brought no more models with him).


Despite having 5 deployments compared to my 11, Howie still lost the roll-off for first turn, but I chose to give it to him anyway. Obviously, Howie advanced his army as much as he could, with the Squigs all bouncing ahead. In response, I declared charges with both units of Dryads - the left unit charged the Goblin Warboss while the right unit failed their long charge against the Goblin Big Boss. My shooting saw one of the left-hand chariots reduced to kindling and the left-hand Boss on Squig plucked from the sky. The Warboss and his Squig made pretty good kindling of the Dryads as well, but I managed to hold with my only Insane Courage of the weekend...

Howie's turn again and things quickly turned sour as first the Night Goblin Shaman IFed while casting Itchy Nuisance on an Eagle, taking a wound from both himself and the Orc Great Shaman, and then the Great Shaman quickly followed suit with a miscast of his own whilst casting Hand of Gork on the remaining unit of 3 Chariots to position them on the EG flank, blowing up himself and the Night Goblin Shaman and taking 16 Big 'Uns with him! Understandably, the Big 'Uns turned tail and ran back to where they'd started the game! To lessen Howie's woes though, his Arrer Boyz felled one of the Eagles, his unit of 2 Chariots ploughed through the Dryads in front of them while the Goblin Boss and his Squig bounced into the Itchy Eagle, and well and truly plucked it. Meanwhile, the two remaining Wolf Chariots on the left hand side had ploughed in alongside the Squig Warboss to finally put paid to the Dryads and leave themselves nicely positioned in front of my bowline. 

My next turn saw the Eternal Guard swift reform to take on the oncoming Wolf Chariots, with the Treekin moving up to support if needed. The Glade Guard made short work of the three chariots on the left, leaving the Squig Warboss to face off against 42 bow shots if necessary. 

Howie's next turn saw the three Wolf Chariots hit the front of the Eternal Guard while the Squig Big Boss hit the flank, while elsewhere the Big 'Uns managed to rally. The Squig Warboss fell an inch short of bouncing into the big Glade Guard unit, and now he was in trouble. Unsurprisingly, the Eternal Guard took a few casualties (including losing their champion in a challenge with the Squig Big Boss) but held stubbornly, with the Treekin waiting to come in to support. My turn saw the Treekin charge into the Squig Big Boss rather than risk a long charge against the unit of two chariots, while shooting easily plucked the Night Goblin Warboss from his bouncy mount and removed that threat. The big combat resulted in three dead chariots and a few dead elves, but crucially not a dead Squig - the hopper fled, and the Eternal Guard came within an inch of catching him. Tragically though, this left them open and exposed to a nasty flank charge from the last two Wolf Chariots. 

Naturally, Howie took his chance and ploughed the Wolf Chariots into the Eternal Guard, while the last Cave Squig somehow rallied and then proceeded to roll the 14" needed to bounce into the rear of the Scouts and Spellweaver that I'd carelessly left exposed (foolishly believing in the Treekin's ability to kill a single puny goblin....). The game hung in the balance - of course, fate had it in for me and the Eternal Guard broke and were run down (leaving me with Fortitude 3...) and the Scouts were likewise broken and rundown, taking the Spellweaver General with them and thus reducing my Fortitude to 1 and handing victory (seemingly against all the odds) to Howie.

Result: Loss

At this point, we still had an hour on the clock and had only reached the end of Howie's T4, so we played on anyway. The Glade Guard took revenge on the last Cave Squig, while in response to the destruction of the Eternal Guard, the Treekin smashed the two Wolf Chariots and overran into the much-reduced Big 'Uns unit (now down to just about half strength and still in horde formation). Clearly, Treekin don't get good until T4 because they inflicted a bunch of casualties on the Orcs and ran them down too! At this point, all Howie had left were his Arrer Boyz, while I had all three units of Glade Guard and the Treekin remaining - I'd killed all but 90pts of Howie's, but in the end I made one crucial mistake (or two, depending on how you look at it). I was somewhat careless in exposing the Spellweaver, but I was sure the Treekin would put paid to the Cave Squig and the Eternal Guard easily took care of the Chariots, as I expected. If I'd have manage to kill the Cave Squig or even just run it down with the Eternal Guard, I could have happily sacrificed the Eternal Guard to the Wolf Chariots with my Fortitude still intact, and the Spellweaver would have got away scot-free (as the Chariots were no danger to her because of the distance, even with an overrun through the Eternal Guard). In the end, I can't complain too much at all - Howie was plagued by the dice all game and his army was being soundly beaten, but he kept his head and took the opportunity he needed to secure victory. 

And so we were on to the final game of the day, by which time the fatigue was starting to set in. Fortunately, I came up against the Skaven of Gareth Jones, who was an absolute gent and barrel of laughs, and gave me the most enjoyable game of the tournament

Game 3: Battle for the Pass
Gareth Jones - Skaven

Gareth's army was a nice solid lineup, typical Skaven fare

  • Grey Seer (with Clanrats)
  • Plague Priest on Plague Furnace (with Plague Monks)
  • Warlock Engineer (with Slaves)
  • Warlock Engineer (with Slaves)
  • 40 Skavenslaves
  • 40 Skavenslaves
  • 30 Clanrats
  • 30 Clanrats
  • 25 Plague Monks 
  • 5 Giant Rats with Packmaster
  • 5 Giant Rats with Packmaster
  • 5 Giant Rats with Packmaster
  • 5 Giant Rats with Packmaster
  • Hellpit Abomination
  • Warp-Lightning Cannon
  • Warp-Lightning Cannon
Deployment was like so:

I won the roll off for first turn and decided to take it in order to try and stall Gareth's advance with the Eagles for a couple of turns. Both birdies flew straight forwards as far as they could, the left eagle landing in the path of the first slaves unit, and the right hand eagle providing bait for the Abomination (hopefully). Both Dryad unit advanced into the nearest forest in the hope of providing a blockade there (thanks to being Stubborn in woods). Shooting and magic did nothing of note, so it was over to the Wall of Skaven. Both Eagles were charged by the nearest Giant Rats units - the right Eagle held to avoid going off the board, plus I thought he might be able to win the combat, while the left Eagle fled and forced a failed charge. Meanwhile, back over on the right, the Slaves and Abomination both charged the nearest unit of Dryads and unfortunately for me they both made it in (they'd clearly been fed their Warpstone Cookies that morning). Exit one unit of Dryads. In a vicious display of reliability, the Warp-Lightning Cannons combined to wipe out half of the Treekin in one go. The Eagle remained locked in combat with the Giant Rats, somehow failing to inflict any wounds!

Gareth's Wall of Skaven, with the Suicide Pigeons in position...

My turn saw the remaining Dryads charge the front of the Slaves in a desperate attempt to break them. The Treekin moved to intercept the Abomination, while shooting started making dents in the Plague Monks and left-hand Slaves. The left-hand Eagle rallied ready to accept another charge, but the right Eagle was brought low by the rats. The Dryads scythed through the Slaves but couldn't do enough to break their Strength in Numbers, and they stood their ground. Gareth took over once again, ploughing the Abomination into the flank of the Dryads, slaughtering them all and overrunning into one of the small Glade Guard units. The Plague Monks attempted a Frenzied charge against the other Glade Guard unit, who fled along with the left-hand Eagle who was charged by the Slaves. 

My T3 saw the Eternal Guard pass their Terror test to throw their weight in against the Abomination alongside the poor Glade Guard, while the Treekin pounced on the Slaves that had previously killed off the Dryads. The fleeing Glade Guard manage to rally right at the foot of the watchtower, but the Eagle decides he's had enough and flies 12" towards the back of the table. The little shooting I have left at this point takes out a few more Slaves, but not quite enough to force a Panic test. The combat between the EG and the Abomination ends predictably with elven corpses everywhere, as the EG lose 11 models including the BSB (who gets flopped on). They break and flee, only for the Abomination to catch them and pursue straight into the just-rallied Glade Guard. Meanwhile, in happier news, the Treekin manage the first success of the game as they break the Slaves they're fighting and the rats scatter to the four winds. Unfortunately, it was Gareth's turn again and the Abomination happily munched down the Glade Guard while the Grey Seer casually transformed the Spellweaver and all her Scouts into Clanrats with the Dreaded 13th Spell. The big Glade Guard unit are finally charged by the remaining Slaves and Giant Rats, but they hold their ground while the two WLCs both try to blast the last few Treekin away but miss both shots. My turn saw me with very little left - the Eagle carried on fleeing off the table, the Treekin carefully moved out of the way of the 60 Clanrats bearing down on them, while the last few Glade Guard managed to break the second Slaves unit and blow themselves up in the process. 

The last turn saw Gareth make a determined effort to kill off the entire army as he blasted the Treekin once again providing the final comedy moment of the game, as the first WLC took out two of the 'Kin. The second WLC, rather than outdo their colleagues and eradicate the Treekin, chose instead to sabotage their fellow war machine by landing their shot directly on top of the first WLC and providing me with some much-needed Victory Points! 

In the end, the death of the WLC made no difference whatsoever to the scores - Gareth had emphatically thrashed me, mostly with the Abomination on it's own! In true Skaven fashion, the majority of his army (including his Grey Seer general) had sat about 6" outside his deployment zone and watched the carnage from a safe distance!

Result: Loss

In all honesty, I don't know what I'd have done to alter the outcome of this game. In theory, the scenario should have played in my favour as the length of the table meant Gareth had a long march to reach me. This was largely cancelled out by the fact that he had substantial cover all along the length of the board though, along with an unhealthy dose of steroids pumped into his Abomination which meant it covered the distance in all of two turns...

All that said, I really didn't mind about losing so emphatically - as I said earlier, Gareth was a real gent and a great laugh, and we probably spent just as much time messing about and joking as we did actually playing, which is why Gareth ended up getting my "Favourite Game" vote at the end of the tournament. 

~ ~ ~

So, as predicted, I had come out of Day 1 with not a single Win or Draw under my belt, but with three very enjoyable games nonetheless. It would all remain to be seen whether I could recover some pride on Day 2...

Stay tuned!

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Last Stretch

So here we are, on the eve of the Throne of Skulls and I'm pleased to say that everything has now been painted! I'm busy packing everything away ready for the weekend, so I won't waffle on, but instead I'll just share a few more pictures of the last couple of units and a couple of army shots. 96 days ago I bought my ticket for the tournament, and I've managed to paint 91 models since then - extremely good going for someone who only normally manages to paint around 100 models in a whole year! 

Anyway, on to the pictures - first up, the Eternal Guard and accompanying BSB (with my ham-fisted attempt at last-minute freehand on the banner)

And the two Great Eagles (aka The Suicide Pigeons), which I speed-painted in about six hours last night.

Finally, a couple of army shots to finish off, showing every model I've painted for the tournament and nicely displayed (although a little out of context) on one of my Moria boards, which conveniently happened to be the right colour for the bases (you just have to avoid all questions of what Wood Elves are doing underground...)

And just to finish off, I thought I'd share some words of encouragement I received today from my sometime-partner-in-crime, Gary of G's Spot fame:

Requiem for the tree huggers........

This weekend he'll see the light
See that those Tree Huggers are shite
Dead they'll be by Daemon and Orc
No more will they talk the talk
The suicide pigeons are going down
Barbecued on a burial mound
As Chaos Warriors, Ogres and all
March on to glory
When the Wood Elves fall.

Thanks a bunch...