Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's How You Use It - Round 1

For my first game in the 1000 point Warhammer Fantasy tournament, my Dark Elf army was matched up against a Dwarf force commanded by Bill, one of the co-hosts of the Gamers Lounge podcast and author of The Dead Tau Project. Cool! There were some problems with the registration and check-in process for the tournament and so Bill and I had an extra long time to talk before the start of our game. It was a lot of fun and was good for my pre-game jitters too. Bill assured me that he was very new to WFB as well and that we'd be making mistakes and looking up rules together. Unfortunately we missed the announcement to begin playing as we chatted on about Malifaux and the upcoming NOVA Open, until we at last noticed all the players around us were already deep into their first turns. Oops! So in a rush we flipped open our mission packets and got underway.

The tournament used a closed-list format and required opponents to exchange army lists at the conclusion of the game. I therefore didn't know any of the following specifics about Bill's choice of runic items until learning about them during the course of our game. Otherwise we went over the units in our respective armies before deploying to make sure everything was clear. Details about my Dark Elf army can be found here, while Bill's army consisted of the following units:

Dwarf Lord: Shieldbearers, Rune of Might, Rune of Stone, Master Rune of Spite
Thane Battle Standard Bearer: Rune of Cleaving, Master Rune of Gromil
18 Longbeards: great weapons, shields, heavy armour, full command
14 Hammerers: great weapons, shields, heavy armour, full command
Cannon: Rune of Burning, Rune of Forging

Scenario 1: Line 'Em Up!
Every campaign begins with marching out to take what is yours, either rightfully or just because you want it. Sometimes we go to defend what is ours from others, either by right or by power.

Special Rules
Sudden Vanguard: One unit of your choice in your army that does not have a character in it or does not already have the Vanguard Special Rule gains the Vanguard Special Rule for this game.

Victory Conditions and Battle Points
Standard victory points per the main rulebook, requiring a margin of at least 100 points or more to count as a Victory. If the difference in victory points is 99 or less, the game is considered a Draw. 15 Battle Points are awarded for a Victory, 10 Battle Points for a Draw, and 5 Battle Points for a Loss.

Bonus Battle and Objective Points
+3 points for destroying your opponent's chosen unit completely.
+2 points for keeping your chosen unit alive or not fleeing at the end of the game.
+3 points for having a unit garrisoning the building feature (Pyramid) at the end of the game.
+2 points for having a non-fleeing unit in your opponent's deployment zone.

All of the terrain was pre-set throughout the tournament and every table used a standardized layout of terrain pieces, though the actual style of pieces did vary somewhat. For the first game we played on a desert themed board that had on my left between the deployment zones a Pyramid which used the standard rules for buildings. Also on the left hand side but within my deployment zone there was a Mysterious Forest with scrub and a couple of cactus plants, though the exact nature of the terrain would be randomly determined once entered by a unit. On the right there was a hill located in my deployment zone and beyond it closer to Bill's side of the table there was a more conventional style building. In the middle of Bill's deployment zone there was a hill and then another Mysterious Forest on Bill's far left flank.

We were starting our game so late that I really didn't put much thought into how I deployed my units, I just wanted to begin playing as soon as we could. In hopes of securing those 3 extra objective points, I expected my Shades to be able to Scout forward and outrun the Hammerers to arrive first at the Pyramid. To the right of where the Shades would go I deployed the Cold One Knights. Then the Corsairs and the Repeater Crossbowmen formed the center of the line, and finally the War Hydra and the Harpies took up position on the right flank. I chose the Harpies as my special Vanguard unit for the scenario and fianlly, having rolled for her spells and taken Fireball and Cascading Fire-Cloak, I placed my Sorceress within the unit of Corsairs for safe keeping.

Bill nominated his Hammerers to gain the Vanguard special rule for this game and deployed them in position to rush the Pyramid. He then deployed his Cannon on the hill in the middle of his deployment zone with the unit of Longbeards placed near the hill between the Cannon and Hammerers. Both his Dwarf Lord and Thane joined the Longbeards and he used his Vanguard move to get the Hammerers just inches from the Pyramid. I moved my Harpies from the hill on my right and began angling them toward the Cannon as they advanced forward. And with that we were ready to play!!

Bill won the roll to go first and quickly claimed the Pyramid with his Hammerers as the unit of Longbeards loaded up with his army's potent characters marched straight ahead at my battle line. With his movement phase complete Bill opened fire with the Cannon and targeted my Hydra. Fortunately for me it misfired and despite the Rune of Forging saving the artillery piece from a potentially disastrous first shot, the cannonball then failed to bounce and stopped a few inches in front of its intended target. Phew! There was nothing else for Bill to do at that point and so he concluded his half of the turn.

Right away I was faced with a dilemma. I had wanted to race my Shades into the Pyramid first but instead the building was now crammed full of elite Dwarf infantry, heavily armed and armored. It seemed like it would be very long odds to dislodge them from the building with my small unit of Dark Elf skirmishers. In hindsight I believe I should have opted to ignore them, concede the measly 3 bonus points awarded for occupying the Pyramid, and then concentrate my efforts on fighting the rest of Bill's army. That probably would have been the wiser thing to do, but come on... I didn't travel all this way to play it safe and NOT charge headlong into combat the first chance I could. Besides, what's the worst that could happen? Therefore...


The rest of my army moved forward in anticipation of potentially charging into combat on the next turn. Thanks to their Vanguard move I thought it might be possible to get a first turn charge against the Cannon with my Harpies but decided they would be too far to try. [A very helpful reader emailed me and pointed out that a unit which has made a Vanguard move cannot also declare a charge in the first turn, so the Harpies would not have been able to do so anyways. Thanks for the assistance!] With the Shades having disappeared into the Pyramid and the Harpies closing in on the Dwarf artillery crew, everything else in my army began to head toward the Longbeards. Although the Hydra had the farthest to go, I was happy that any further cannonballs fired at it would at least be bouncing away from the rest of my army rather than at them.

In my first magic phase I was able to roast a single Longbeard with a Fireball and then put Cascading Fire-Cloak onto the Sorceress and her bodyguard of Black Ark Corsairs. The Repeater Crossbowmen fired a long-range volley on the move and managed a couple of hits, none of which made it past the Dwarfs' hefty armour save. That was it for the Shooting phase and it was now time for my first taste of combat. Ooh, so exciting!

Although outnumbered and outmatched in terms of equipment, I nonetheless reasoned that my Shades might still be able to pull off something spectacular with a heavy dose of luck in their favor. They would be striking first after all with two attacks each, while the Dwarfs would be without the benefit of their ranks or standard. So maybe, just maybe, the Shades could inflict a bunch of casualties, somehow survive the retaliatory attacks, and thus pull off an amazingly unlikely victory. Regardless it seemed like a dramatic way to start things off so I didn't care how badly the odds were stacked against my Dark Elf ninja squad.

It should therefore come as no surprise that in the ensuing combat my Shades were butchered mercilessly. I was able to inflict a single casualty on the Pyramid's defenders before having all five of the Shades killed in return by the Hammerers' great weapons. Not what I was hoping for but still nothing too upsetting... well, until I remembered Panic. With the Shades having been wiped out, the nearby Cold One Knights promptly failed their leadership test and broke off in a trot for my table edge. [Again another mistake on my part with the rules. The same reader explained to me that as the Cold One Knights are subject to Stupidity, they are also Immune to Psychology and hence would not have needed to test for Panic. D'oh!] Disorder spread down my line as the Corsairs next failed their leadership test and succumbed to Panic as well. I then had to test for the Repeater Crossbowmen who showed a little more courage and stood their ground. With half my army now either killed or running away, the first turn came to an end.

Spurred on by the success of the previous turn, Bill declared a charge with the Longbeards against my fleeing Cold One Knights. Showing off a surprising amount of speed, the Dwarf unit forced the Cold One Knights to move even closer to the board edge, the Dark Elf unit having stopped just a couple of inches away from leaving the battlefield entirely. With the Hammerers still occupying the Pyramid, the only other thing for the Dwarf army to do was fire their runic Cannon once again at my Hydra. This time the shot was on target and successfully bounced through the Hydra, inflicting three wounds and denying the monster its Regeneration save due to the Rune of Burning. There were no combats to fight and so ended the top of Turn 2.

Eager to protect my Hydra from anymore flaming cannonballs, first I declared a charge against the Cannon with the unit of Harpies. Next I was able to rally my fleeing units before moving the Hydra as fast as I could across the table. The Repeater Crossbowmen stood their ground and took aim at the menacing Longbeards. After losing another of their number to a Fireball cast by the Sorceress, the Longbeards took a few more casualties from the increasing volume of crossbow bolts directed at them. Meanwhile the Harpies launched their assault against the crew of the Cannon, killing two of the Dwarfs and taking one casualty in return. The last crewman stubbornly clung by his artillery piece, thus ending both the combat and the turn.

Bill declared a charge with his Longbeards against my Corsairs who in response held their ground. The Sorceress succeeded in burning a Dwarf with her Cascading Fire-Cloak and the Corsairs did a fair job cutting into the Longbeards' ranks, their attacks upgraded to Armour Piercing thanks to the unit's Banner of Murder. At the end of the Dark Elf attack however there were still too many Longbeards left alive, as well as the uninjured Dwarf Lord and Thane Battle Standard Bearer. The remaining Dwarfs attacked and inflicted a huge amount of pain on the Corsairs and also knocked a wound off the Sorceress, who only survived the carnage thanks to her Talisman of Endurance. Still the Dwarfs caused enough wounds to win the combat resolution by a difference of four. I failed the subsequent break test and watched helplessly as the speedy little Dwarfs caught up with my fleeing Dark Elves and cut them down from behind, running down and killing the Sorceress as well. Not done with the onslaught, the Dwarfs continued their pursuit into the recently rallied Cold One Knights. That fight however would have to wait until my half of the turn.

For my part there wasn't a lot left that I could do. The Cold One Knights and the Harpies were already engaged and the Hydra was at last set to charge into the Longbeards' left flank. There was nothing for the Repeater Crossbowmen to fire at and nowhere helpful for them to go, so instead they nervously shuffled their feet and looked around for a convenient route away from the battlefield. The Hydra crashed into the Longbeards and combat began again. The Cold One Knights did nothing at all and were wiped out by the Dwarf General and Battle Standard Bearer. The Hydra succeeded in killing some of the remaining Longbeards and thundstomped another, but it wasn't enough and the Dwarfs won the combat. The Hydra broke and ran away although the Dwarfs this time were not able to move fast enough to catch him.

Finally the Harpies were able to kill the last of the Dwarf crewman from the Cannon but it was too late for the victory to matter any to the overall outcome of the battle. There would not have been enough time to complete another turn and so our game had to come to an end at the close of Turn 3. All that was left was to tally up our dead and to turn in our score cards for the round. Even before doing any of the math however it was clear though that Bill and his Dwarfs had won the battle.

Come get some!

Results and Aftermath
After an hour or so of intense maneuvering and furious combat, my first game at Adepticon was complete. My Dark Elves were bloodied and had taken a sound thrashing, but on the other hand I had a great time and enjoyed the game immensely. Bill was a fantastic opponent to play against and made my reintroduction to Warhammer Fantasy tremendous fun. I couldn't have hoped for a better first game and felt much more comfortable and relaxed going into the next round thanks to Bill's outstanding character and sportsmanship.

Having destroyed most of my army in exchange for losing only his Cannon, Bill did indeed get the Victory from our game. He received bonus points for keeping his chosen unit of Hammerers alive and for occupying the Pyramid at the end of the game. I took the Loss but picked up bonus points for keeping my chosen unit of Harpies alive and also for having them in the Dwarf army's deployment zone at the end of the game. Therefore the final score on Battle Points for this game was 20-9 in favor of the Dwarfs.

The tournament organizers were hustling to make up for the late start so there wasn't much time to reflect on the game or my army's performance between rounds. I was just very happy to have had a fun time and to have gotten through without making any big mistakes concerning actual gameplay. [Well, except for where noted above, and the many other likely errors I made that were simply never noted or remembered. Ha! I am very grateful for the help provided and welcome all such feedback as I am eager to learn and improve. Thanks!] For my first game of Warhammer Fantasy in six or sever years at least, I was more than satisfied with how things went. Sure it might have been helpful if I had remembered to use the re-rolls on misses in combat granted by my army's Eternal Hatred but oh well... too bad for those Shades!

With the table assignments posted I rushed off to find my opponent for Round 2. Next up... the Skaven!


  1. Excellent batrep, very entertaining and heres to the next one.

  2. Great BatRep and I love the Dwarf Lord and shieldbearers!

  3. Great report very enjoyable read look forward to the rest

  4. It's good to hear you had a fine time, and enjoyed the being there and the striving. You've got a very impresssive memory too! That's a lot of detail to keep in mind. Then again, first encounters are memorable, for being fresher maybe.

  5. @ The Angry Lurker - Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    @ Man Cave - Thanks, I appreciate it! I wish I had the time to take more pictures of Bill's army because it did look really cool. I agree about the Dwarf Lord, that's a great model!

    @ Jonn M - Thank you, I'm grateful for the support!

    @ Porky - Hmm, I imagine you are right about that as my recollection of the 40k team tournament in which I participated on the following day seems far less detailed to me already. However that was also in a rather more anarchic and overwhelming environment so perhaps that has affected my overall experience and memory as well. Very interesting to consider, you always illuminate such fascinating areas of inquiry. Thank you very much, Porky!

  6. Can't wait for round two, keep those awesome batreps coming!

  7. Thanks, Gyro! I'll get the next one ready as soon as I can... glad you liked this one. It's my first batrep ever!

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  9. Great battle report, far better than mine! I loved our game and really enjoyed having you as an opponent. Hopefully we can synch back up at the NOVA in August.

    I stand by the fact your ninja's killed the hammered with the keg. That's the only reason the dwarves in the pyramid were so mad.

  10. @ Nix - Hahaha! Those were some very angry Dwarfs, I think you're right about why they fought so hard... never get between a Dwarf and his beer! :) Thanks again for the awesome game, I'm glad you enjoyed it as well. NOVA does sound like fun and I hope to see you there. Best wishes and thank you very much!