The Athens ETC chronicles - Game 2

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  • GAME 2 – Sweden (Vermin Swarm, Breakthrough)

    After the first round defeat, we were expecting to fight one of the more laid back teams. We met the Swedish instead, who –despite having some youngbloods too – still counted two ABC members and an RT member among their ranks.

    In the pairings I had to take the Vermin Swarm, a matchup considered bad by most of my team mates and average for me. A training game against @skrak had taught me how dangerous a VS list can be, and also to avoid the Pendulum at all costs.

    Peter wrote:

    Magister: General, Plague patriarch, Level 4, Disease, Tome of arcane lore, 245
    Tyrant: The doom blade, 180
    Chief: BSB, Lightning rod, 115
    Plague prophet on Plague pendulum: Glittering cuirass, Halberd, 244
    Apprentice magister: Level 2, Ruin, Dispel scroll, 125
    Apprentice magister: Level 2, Ruin, Eye of the storm, 110
    42 Plague Brotherhood: FCG, Plague ridden, Icon of ruin, 339
    58 Slaves: Musician, 126
    20 Rat-at-arms: Musician, Standard, 100
    15 Plague brotherhood: Musician, Standard, 100
    2 x 5 Gutterblades: Poison, Scouts & Ambush, 85
    3 x 1 Rotary gun: 65
    2 x 1 Lightning cannon: 85
    2 x 1 Dreadmill: 140

    The breakthrough scenario was the good news for the SE, since I had more scoring units and far more controllable than the frenzied monks.


    The druid got Luminous Bolts and Arcane unforging, the Matriarch got Beast Within and Raging Storm, the Magister got Breath of Corruption, Mass of Flesh, Cleansing Infestation and Leprotic Curse. Finally, the apprentice magisters both got Black Lightning, as well as Feed the Swarm and Crack the Earth respectively.

    The deployment type was flank attack, and I opted to give my opponent the attacking role: I wasn’t too eager to give the Plague Brotherhood a 15» headstart towards my line, and I knew that this would force my opponent to abandon one flank.

    Going into the game, I knew that with the amount of augment spells and the resilience of the Pendulum, I wouldn’t be able to touch the Plague Brotherhood Deathstar. So the plan was simple: win the long range shootout with my 18 Sylvan Archers, take the Dreadmills and Lightning cannons, redirect the Pendulum and win the scenario. Easy, eh?


    We traded deployments, initially, until I spotted where the weapons teams were going. Putting my archers at shooting range from the first one, I dropped everything to get the first turn.The Forest Guard and Heath Riders went on the left, as their role would be mainly to be the scoring contingent, helped out by a unit of Wild Huntsmen and potentially the Bladedancers.

    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    On the left flank, the Forest Guard and Wild huntsmen duo advanced towards the Dreadmill, while the Heath Riders hugged cover out of sight from the Lightning Cannons. The central forces moved up reluctantly, while on the right I used Kestrels and Wild Huntsmen to threaten the advance of the other Dreadmill. The Thicket Beasts could hide against one of the two cannons behind the hill, and they did so. The Sylvan Archers moved up to be within 30» from the first Rotary gun and let loose, killing it instantly.

    In the magic phase, the curse of the wildwood on the big block was dispelled, while the Magic missiles were out of range.

    TURN 1 – Vermin Swarm

    My opponent sent the leftmost Dreadmill near the table edge, while the right one attempted to get out of line of sight of the wild huntsmen, but failed.The Plague Brotherhood moved up and the Rotary guns redeployed towards the west, out of range from my archers.

    Magic was uneventful, due to a couple of good rolls on my part for saves and dispel.

    Shooting targeted the thicket beasts and a unit of kestrels, but both shots failed to hit.

    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves

    The Wild Huntsmen flank charged the exposed Dreadmill. The rest of the sylvan forces stayed a good distance away from the Rotary guns, while the Forest Guard performed a swift reform to move even more to the west and out of potential firing range from the enemy weapon teams.

    Magic was directed yet again on the Pendulum, my opponent dispelling the Curse of the wildwood once more. Shooting from the archers dropped five Rat-at-arms, but the remaining infantry didn’t panic.

    In the inaugural close combat of the game, the Wild Huntsmen killed the Dreadmill in one go, overrunning into the piece of impassable terrain, their flank exposed to slaves.

    TURN 2 – Vermin Swarm

    The Slaves flank charged the Wild Huntsmen, and the big block moved forward once more. In the magic phase my opponent cast an irresistible Black Lightning on a unit of Bladedancers, killing four models and receiving a wound in the process.

    The Lightning cannons managed to hit a unit of Kestrels and down one model.

    In combat the Slaves killed enough wild huntsmen to make them flee, and after all the Dangerous Terrain tests were rolled a single Wild Huntsman remained.

    The Doomblade warlord took a wound from the Toxic hit.

    TURN 3 – Sylvan Elves

    With the right flank abandoned and the pendulum pushing forward aggressively, I had to get rid of the vermin shooting fast: the Briar Maidens scaled the hill in order to shoot at the Rotary guns, while the Thicket Beasts advanced towards the Slaves. The 3 remaining blade dancers were used as redirectors, in a position where the pendulum would end up inside the forest, out of action if it charged. On the left flank, the Forest Guard and Wild Huntsmen, now well within the enemy deployment zone, played chicken with the Dreadmill.

    In the magic phase my opponent used his scroll to block the Luminous bolts on the Rotary guns, and then had to let through a Curse of the Wildwood on the Pendulum unit. The Maidens then used the attribute to move out of the slavesarc of sight.

    In the shooting phase the Archers put a couple of wounds on the rightmost lightning cannon, and the Briar Maidens killed a Rotary gun, failing to panic the last of the weapon teams.

    TURN 3 – Vermin Swarm

    The pendulum didn’t take the charge bait, and swiftly reformed instead. The Gutter blades and rotary gun turned their attention to the Briar Maidens, while the slaves were pushed right in front of the Thicket Beasts. The Dreadmill moved in a trajectory towards the middle of the board.

    Magic dropped another 2 of the Bladedancer redirectors, leaving a single survivor, while one of the cannons misfired and killed 3 Rat at arms. The other one failed to hit.

    The rotary gun and the two gutter blade units unloaded on the briar maidens, but only killed two of them thanks to their ward save!

    TURN 4 – Sylvan Elves

    The thicket beasts charged into the Slave unit, hoping to munch through them in a couple of turns and still have time to hit the enemy deployment zone. The Briar Maidens squeezed through the terrain and behind enemy lines, ready to pepper the last weapon team with shots, and start killing skirmishers and warmachines after that.

    The dryads and bladedancers moved up to intercept the approaching Dreadmill, while the redirecting bladedancer positioned himself to annoy the big block further.

    Magic was dispelled, but shooting managed to kill the last Rotary gun and the wounded Lightning cannon.

    The thicket beasts started hacking away at slaves, in a task that would take them 3 combat rounds to complete. The slaves failed to put a dent on the monstrous infantry.

    (blurry image of how the left flank looked: Wild huntsmen covering the advance of the Forest Guard, with Heath riders right behind - just outside the picture)

    TURN 4 – Vermin Swarm

    Disclaimer: this was to be my worst luck experience of the tournament.

    The vermin still didn’t want to charge, instead reformingtheir Pendulum and moving up the hill, within charge range of the thicket beasts. The Dreadmill rolled towards the blade dancers, approaching within 9 inches of them. Finally, the Gutter Blades and Rats at arms turned to face the Briar Maidens.

    In the magic phase, I failed to dispel with 3 dispel dice a Black ligthning cast on a 7. This resulted in one dead unit of Kestrels, and forced me to spend my dispel scroll on the second Black Lightning, aiming at my other Kestrel Knights which I would be now forced to use as redirectors.

    In the shooting phase the gutter blades managed two wounds on the Briar maidens. Neither was saved, and the Maidens promptly failed their Ld 9 panic test and fled off the board! 270 points lost, but more importantly no way of dealing with the second cannon now!

    The thicket beasts continued their slave killing spree, and would break the vermin on the following combat round.

    TURN 5 – Sylvan Elves

    Disclaimer: the bad luck continues.

    The bladedancers failed their 4+ charge on the dreadmill, the lone bladedancer failed his ld9 rerollable march test to block the Pendulum for another turn, forcing me to use the Kestrels to redirect the Pendulum. I opted for a redirection towards the enemy deployment zone, knowing that it would be impossible for them to get into my deployment zone in time to contest the objective.

    Magic was of no consequence, and shooting lacked any good targets now.

    The thicket beasts finally killed the slaves, and stayed put in order to avoid getting hit by the Pendulum on its overrun move next turn.

    TURN 5 – Vermin Swarm

    The Pendulum charged the Kestrels, the Dreadmill hit the bladedancers and the gutter blades moved up to snipe the lone bladedancer who couldn’t march. The small plague brotherhood moved full speed towards my deployment zone.

    In the magic phase the Magister buffed the Pendulum unit to T6 and regeneration 5+, spells that I gladly let through sinceI wasn’t planning on charging the deathstar anyway. Shooting took off the last bladedancer, as well as the last (rallied) wild huntsman.

    The Pendulum blew through the kestrels and overran into empty space. The dreadmill didn’t care about my 3+ ward save, and killed half the unit on the charge, running the survivors down.

    TURN 6 – Sylvan Elves

    So things were looking bad, but I still had the objective: the Heath riders moved up inside the Vermin deployment zone, the Dryads with matriarch flank charged the dreadmill and the thicket beasts moved to block any sneaky reforms by the pendulum.

    In the magic phase I managed to cast the beast within on the dryads, making them S5 and T5. That didn’t matter though, since I only managed to wound once with the unit’s attacks! The dreadmill retaliated, killed a couple of dryads and held its ground on a Ld6 roll.

    TURN 6 – Vermin Swarm

    In the closing turn of the game, my opponent moved the small unit of Plague Brotherhood into my deployment zone, then took the mages out of the Pendulum unit for some last turn sniping.

    Magic came up a 2-1 phase, with a third dice channeled. This meant I had no hope of dispelling the Black Lightning on my Heath Riders, which killed 3 of them. They passed their Panic test though!

    The Lightning Cannon then was pointed at them, hit on 5+ and managed to kill both of them (thanks to the «line template» rules that allow hitting multiple models in a single rank), denying me the objective!

    In the final combat of the game, the dryads finally woke up and put some more wounds on the Dreadmill, dodged the return attacks and made it flee, without being able to catch it in pursuit.

    Tallying up the points, the Vermin swarm had won a close victory by around 300 points, and neither of us had gotten the objective thanks to the last turn antics. This brought αour game to an 8-12 loss for the Sylvan Elves, in a hard-fought game!

    Vermin Swarm victory!


    I feel that this game was my best-played game of the weekend, so when things went pear-shaped on turn 4 and onwards, I couldn’t help but think that dice were robbing me from a deserved win. The armies had a difference in power level from the get-go, there is absolutely no way to play the Thicket Beasts and the Kestrels as long as the Dreadmills are still around, while the cannons kept my big unit hiding. From previous experience, trying to engage the unit with the Pendulum is a waste of resources, since there is absolutely nothing in a balanced army list that can take that unit on.

    So I was pretty happy with how Curse of the Wildwood and redirectors were combined to take 1000 points worth of Vermin Swarm out of the game for 5 turns, but a bit miffed by the fact that in the end I didn’t get the points to reflect it.

    What went wrong? The fourth vermin swarm turn was a nightmare for me: lost ward saves, lost panic, failed dispel with a ridiculously low roll, then the need to burn my scroll (which I was saving exactly for the last turn to protect my scoring unit) in order to keep the Deathstar honest.

    The Briar maidens could have won me the game, and I feel the way they advanced behind enemy lines underlines how useful they can be. But one can only hope that Ld9 will be good enough in a critical situation...

    Overall, the game was great fun and very tactical. My opponent played a defensive, no-risks game, since this was his first ETC and his goal was to break even.

    In the end, Sweden won the round by a convincing margin, moving up to the top tables. We toppled down to the last few rows, were we would get to play the Serbians! Hoping I’d finally get to play against the best dwarf list at this year’s ETC, I was instead paired against the Beast Herds...

    To be continued!

    (feel free to discuss tactics in the comments below!)


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Comments 14

  • the shadow goat -

    how are the heath riders influencing the objective? They are not scoring anyway?

  • Banano -

    I can only say thanks a lot for taking the time to share these Smith, I'm loving them so far, keep it up mate! It's great to read all the tactics ideas and your personal points of view; help to learn new things ;).

    That failed roll to dispel Lightning on a 7 is just soulbreaking, forcing you to waste the scroll, but dice are capricious sometimes and sh*t happens, a shame tbh, same as that failed Ld9 for Briars; gleaming icon looks wonderful on the sisters imo.

    Cheers a lot!

    • SmithF -

      Tell me about it! I couldn't stop yapping about those dice rolls for the entire evening!
      But dice will be dice!

      Gleaming Icon is probably a good idea, you're right; I had put it on the Forest Guard so as to make them a bit more independent, but in the end they never got to use it (perhaps because the opponent saw no point in trying to panic them?) .

  • micky -

    The failed Panic-Check of your expensive Briar Maidens was a pity, but didn't you have the possibility to get the reroll for BSB without losing any options? On the picture it looks like you were able to put them near the slaves' flank, can shoot the gutter runners and charge the cannon with ease. Maybe by repositioning your BSB in the front rank. There was no threat for him. But I can only tell from the pictures ofc.

    Btw: your reports are very nice and complete. I'm writing battlereps on my own in a german forum and rarely remind the spells of my guys or the pregame tactics so easily ;)

    • SmithF -

      Hey man! Thanks for the kind words!

      The game was so intense that I forgot to take pictures at some turns!
      So the Briar maidens were a lot further north than in the picture, and sadly out of the BSB's range. (they needed to be if they were to take care of the last Rotary gun)

  • skrak -

    Hey SmithF!

    I am happy our game helped you in the ETC tournament to take the right decisions and play tactically. Such a pity it didn't harvest the deserved points for our "studying time". Dice are dice and they like to dodge the "gauss bell distribution" in the most decisive moments, murphy's law.

    Thanks for your reports, specially this one as you give me the opportunity of enjoying the ETC tournament as well as watching your improvement versus vermin swarm after our last "training lesson".

    Looking forward for more ETC games,


    • SmithF -

      Like I said, if we hadn't played that game I would have probably tried to rush the Pendulum: BAD IDEA!

      In my pre-game evaluation I had rated this matchup as a "0",meaning that I'd get between 8 and 11 points. So not that bad, in the end. But getting the win would have certainly helped the team out.

  • There Is No Spoon -

    I'm a bit surprised his Pendulum block was so wide and so conservatively deployed (along with slaves). My opponents tend to send those up hard and keep the Dreadmills back as second line coverage (because they ruin fast cav) even if it means losing a few models to FF.

    • SmithF -

      I agree on the Dreadmills, they would have been better used as a rearguard. Even so, the left one kept 500 points of my army occupied, and got its points back by killing the Bladedancers and half the Dryads.

      However, pushing the pendulum hard would have resulted in a couple of redirections, dangerous terrain tests on the characters and potentially points lost. It's why putting the Curse of the Wildwood on such a unit works like a treat: The wounded mages (from Lightning/Miscast), the Doomblade and the Pendulum are all quite vulnerable to dangerous terrain checks.

  • Petterwass -

    I still Think that Line Templates should only be able to hit a single model/rank

    • SmithF -

      It would be "cleaner", and faster: you point at a model, you roll to hit. If you hit, the shot penetrates ranks exactly like a bolt thrower.

      As it stands, the cannon can hit 10+ infantry models in a 6-deep unit, which means that it's as good at killing elite infantry as the Stone Thrower.

    • Petterwass -

      INdeed. It is a rathe rmajor buff that I do not Think that cannons neither need nor deserve