Team Tournament in Lille: Game 2

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  • So after a good first round, we moved up on the ladder and ended up facing a team from Paris, comprised in part by members of last year’s ETC team. Their lists were fine-tuned, and they had obviously had good results in their first games. The scenarios were «hold the centre» and «capture the flags», and in the end I got paired against Sylvain and his Sylvan Elves:


    HEROES:
    Druid (general), Wizard master, 4 spells (shamanism), tree singing, crown of autocracy, dispel scroll 590
    chief, BSB, longbow, hawthorn arrows, hail shot 290



    CORE:


    2x 11 sylvan archers Musician

    12 sylvan archers Musician

    8 dryads skirmish, Champion



    SPECIAL:
    1 forest eagle
    1 forest eagle



    FLEET OF FOOT
    3 kestrels knights with shield
    3 kestrels knights with shield
    8 blade dancers
    8 blade dancers
    5 briar maidens
    5 briar maidens



    UNSEEN ARROWS:
    10 sylvan sentinels
    10 sylvan sentinels

    So overall a pure MSU list with a very good shooting base, better magic, an abundance of redirectors and still decent counter-chargers in the form of the Kestrels and the Bladedancers. Not exactly the list I was looking forward to facing, especially given that the scenario was «capture the flags».

    Before the game, I figured that I’d have to win the deployment game, use the superior shooting of the pathfinders to win the shoot-out and push hard with the Treefathers to get the soft scoring units late-game. Easier said than done; with more deployment drops, Sylvain dropped fast unit after fast unit, cleverly keeping his scorers for last.


    The deployment was a game in itself, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed: I started off with the Treefathers centrally (the deployment type was flank attack, and I was given the role of the defender), since that meant that they wouldn’t be left stranded on a flank no matter what happened. The kestrels were sent as a decoy to the west, and my opponent replied with some dryads right across. Then came a critical moment where I had to start dropping scoring units: once I’d dropped a couple of archer units (inside forests, behind a dryad screen and a good 30 inches from any potential shooters), my opponent grabbed the initiative and deployed his entire army to get the first turn. With a +3 advantage, he had a good shot at getting that precious first volley off.


    In the end, the deployment favoured heavily my east flank, and I replied by keeping my bladedancers and the remaining archer unit centrally, safe from first turn volleys and in a position where they’d be able to retaliate. Good deployment on my opponents’ part meant that the pathfinders were better off deep within my zone, where their truemark arrows would allow them to whittle down T3 elves with impunity.




    For magic I got once more the Master of Earth and the Entwined Roots, while my opponent got Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Break the Spirit and Totemic Summon.

    Looking at the board after deployment, and knowing I’d probably play second, I figured the game would be an uphill struggle for the first few turns. With 6 flyers/light cavalry to throw between my treefathers and the archer line, my opponent wouldn’t be hard pressed to engage.

    So I took two gambles: I vanguarded my kestrels in a position where they’d give a flank charge to his kestrels, inside a forest, and I picked the three archer units as my targets for the secondary objective. The first one was crucial to unlocking the enemy battleline: it would draw one of the (expensive) redirectors closer to my lines, where they’d be able to get charged and potentially provide a nice overrun move for my treefathers. The second would free up the bladedancers to run interference, but running interference in this case would mean engaging in combat. I’d rather fight in combat than just have my opponent run in circles around me all game long.


    Sylvain won the roll for the first turn, picked two of my archer units and a unit of dancers as his targets and the game was on!


    TURN 1 – Shooty Elves


    As predicted, my opponent hesitated a bit then took the kestrel bait. The rest of the army moved around a bit, with half the shooting base moving past the building and gaining hard cover in the process. Sylvain would exploit this to the maximum over that game, moving the Skirmishers and light troops back and forth through the building to afford them that -2 to be hit all game long.


    The opening magic phase was a 12-dice phase, and I quickly noticed a flaw in my plan: I hadn’t read my opponents’ list attentively, so I failed to notice the Treesinging upgrade for the Druid (who buys this anyway!?). So when my opponent opened his magic with a 5-dice casting of Treesinging on the forest containing 2 units of archers, a unit of dryads and a treefather, I kind of felt obliged to dispel it with my dice. This allowed my opponent to cast the Totemic Summon, bringing a Totemic Beast right behind my lines.

    The shooting was painful: while the archers were relatively safe from harm, the Wild Huntsmen weren’t: the sentinels opened fire and killed all of them in one go (zero saves). The enemy’s sylvan archers tried volley shots across the field, killing a couple of my archers. Then the totemic beast used its breath weapon and killed 6 more archers, essentially crippling my shooting.


    In combat my Kestrel Knights suffered a single wound for none back, and held their ground thanks to the nearby BSB and general. They didn’t succeed in reforming, though.


    TURN 1 – Fighty Elves


    The Dryads rear-charged the enemy Kestrels, and one Treefather went into their flank. The other Treefather moved up as fast as he could towards the bowline, and within range to use his roots against the nearby bladedancers that could threaten the dryads on the next turn.

    After last turn’s fiasco, the archers moved out of the forest and towards the newly summoned Totemic Beast. Magic saw me heal the wound off the Kestrel, while the Treesinging on the enemy dryads failed to wound.


    Shooting started with the two wounded archer units targetting the totemic beast at close range. They only dealt two wounds to the beast, forcing me to use the Pathfinders to kill it (I couldn’t risk it rampaging across my lines). The unengaged treefather opened fire against the Bladedancers: between his roots and some pot shots from the third archer unit, four dancers fell.


    Combat was a mixed bag: the charging dryads got rubber lance (claw?) syndrome, and only dealt a single wound. The enemy kestrels retaliated and put two wounds on the dryad
    matriarch, killed the dryad champion and one of my kestrels. Thankfully, the Treefather took pulled through and dealt three wounds of his own on the enemy, helping win combat. The lone kestrel survivor fled and escaped pursuit, with the Treefather right behind it.


    TURN 2 – Shooty Elves


    With my general severely wounded and the kestrels in a bad position, my opponent tried to capitalize on that: the second unit of kestrels and the unit of dryads went into my Kestrel Knights, while a unit of Briar Maidens and the 4 remaining bladedancers went into my skirmishing dryads. The fleeing kestrel rallied.


    The shooting contingent of the army stayed relatively put, with the sentinels doing the back-and-forth on top of the building to gain the hard cover bonus. Magic was relatively uneventful: I let the Insect swarm go on the treeman (didn’t wound) and then dispelled the Totemic Summon.

    In the shooting phase the sentinels took down one of the depleted archer units, causing the second unit to panic on a rerollable 9 and flee off the board with a 10+ roll. The archers tried to shoot at my bladedancers, but with all the modifiers they only managed to kill a single elf.


    In combat the Briar Maidens dodged everything the dryads had to throw at them, and proceeded to kill the Matriarch with some poisoned attacks. The bladedancers killed a couple of dryads too, and took a couple of wounds from retaliating attacks. In the end, the dryads fled through half my army, took some wounds from dangerous terrain tests and would rally at the other end of the board.(there is an error in the maps, the unit actually survived but failed to do anything of interest after that)

    The Kestrel fight went as predicted too: the charging knights and dryads did short work of my fast support and then the dryads overran straight into a bladedancer unit right behind.




    TURN 2 – Fighty Elves


    The treefathers leapt into action: one charged the lone kestrel, while the other flanked the two remaining bladedancers. The unengaged bladedancer unit charged the Briar Maidens in the forest, and failed to redirect when the latter fled.

    The little shooting I had left targetted the second bladedancer unit and took 3 models down. Combat saw both treefathers do short work of their targets: the Kestrels nearby panicked and the treefathers overran: one into the flank of the Briar Maidens, the other moving 2 inches towards the enemy bowline. The Bladedancers hacked the charging dryads apart, too.




    TURN 3 – Shooty Elves


    With a treefather close to his lines, the avoidance plan was engaged: an eagle landed right in front of the Forest Giant, and the bowline reformed a bit to avoid giving me any good overrun paths. The kestrels rallied.

    Magic kicked off with an irresistible Insect Swarm that failed to hurt the treefather, and the totemic summon was dispelled once more. Shooting was also directed at the treefather, but in the end the beast only suffered a single wound! (wierdly enough, this is not far away from statistic average!)

    In combat the second treefather only killed a single briar maiden, forced them to flee but failed to catch them in pursuit.




    TURN 3 – Fighty Elves


    The wounded treefather charged the eagle, hoping to panic him; It wasn’t meant to be, and the noble bird took one for the team. The bladedancers had a nice charge into the kestrel flank lined up, in a position where fleeing the charge would mean a lot of panic tests and the kestrels ending up out of the table anyway. So they stood their ground as well.

    In the shooting phase the pathfinders spotted one of the sentinel units too far away from the BSB and general, and tried to panic them off board: they did suffer 3 casualties, but then passed their Ld test.


    The treefather failed to kill the Eagle outright, and then pursued a measly 3 inches anyway. The bird would rally on the following turn. The Bladedancers performed better, killing the kestrels outright.


    TURN 4


    At that point, my opponent told me that according to the organizer we had 30 minutes to play, so we agreed to play another round and end the game. That turn he focused all of his shots on killing the wounded treefather and my BSB who had come out to play at last: when the dust cleared, the Treefather had lost another 2 wounds, while the BSB was clinging to life with 1 wound left. A totemic summon killed a couple of pathfinders with its breath weapon.




    My final turn saw me charge the blocking Briar Maidens with both treefathers, hoping for some failed panic checks. It was not meant to be: the briar maidens managed to put another wound on the wounded treefather (meaning he’d give up half points) and saved enough wounds to only give up half their points after all. The pursuits got me in contact with the sylvan archer units at last, but it was too late.

    In the end, the Shooty Elves had secured the objective and had gained more victory points, leading to a 5-15 loss for me.




    Aftermath:




    This was a close game, against a list that I dread to face: pure shooting/avoidance lists are notorious for a reason, since they have the capacity to deny the game altogether and still grab enough points for the win.

    Here, the match was lost on deployment: I needed that first turn to try and whittle down the enemy shooting, but was reluctant to drop everything before I got a hint of where the enemy shooting battery would go. My opponent played his cards right, keeping all options open and then dropped everything when I inevitably deployed my scorers first.

    On the other hand, playing just four turns was really detrimental to my plan: two more turns would have probably meant some very dead sylvan archer units, and potentially a tie for the objective. Or not, perhaps the treefathers would have died after failing save after save.


    And now that the politically correct version of the aftermath is done, here’s what I really think (in addition to the things above):


    Right at the moment where I was wrapping up my last (fourth) turn, the tournament organizer cried out: «thirty minutes left»! That’s right, a full half hour after my opponent had told me the exact same thing.

    During the four turns we got in, the person across the table challenged every move and every rule I quoted, to the point where the game speed was reduced to a crawl. I even had to search the SE pdf and show him rules that he claimed were played differently (even though I had a hand in writing the damned thing).

    I could attribute all of the above to luck/a bad moment, but it turns out this guy got a lot of votes for «worst opponent» overt the weekend for a multitude of reasons. In the end, I felt obliged to point out that our game was my most frustrating experience in wargaming in a long time.


    Long story short: good tactical game, obnoxious opponent. The game lasted four turns, I should have just grabbed a beer and spent 2,5 hours doing something else.

    On the bright side, my 5 points helped out the team win the round! Our Vermin Swarm and Daemonic Legions players performed admirably, meaning that in the end we won 42-38. Two matches, two team wins so far!


    Next up: I get paired up against team France’s former ETC Captain and his shooty Highborn Elves. (did I mention that shooty/avoidance lists are not my forte?)


    Smith

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