The Salamanca ETC Chronicles: Game 1

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  • Greetings, dear reader!

    Another ETC has come and gone, and what a blast it has been! I’ll try to do these write ups before memory fades, and I promise it will be a treat: 6 great games with good, fun opponents in the world’s premier T9A team tournament!

    For those who haven’t been following the ETC scene very closely, I was invited for the second year in a row to play for team Belgium (where I currently reside). The belgian team is a bunch of very nice guys, and it made for some very nice moments during the weekend. During the entire year, I’ve been struggling to find a list that I enjoy playing and can perform well enough totake to an event of this magnitude. In the end, I opted for a combination of blunt combat force, magic support and mobile shock troops (some of my teammates would call them Beast Herds in disguise).

    SmithF wrote:

    Dryad Matriarch, general, 2 spells Druidism
    Druid Master, 4 spells Shamanism, Ring of Fire
    Bladedancer BSB, Spear of Cadaron

    20 Sylvan Archers, musician
    27 Forest Guard, Full Command, Gleaming Icon
    8 Dryads, Skirmish

    2x 3 Kestrel Knights, light armour
    8 Bladedancers
    12 Bladedancers, Champion, Standard

    2x Treefather

    Game 1 – New Zealand

    For our first game we were to play the kiwis, whose reputation as a fun team preceded them. Last year they couldn’t make it, so we were all looking forward to meeting and playing with the people that covered the most distance to be at the ETC!

    Since the pairing was known ahead of time, we had the possibility to prepare our predictions for the matches beforehand: one list that proved to be a problem for everyone was the Ogre Khans, since it combined very good shooting elements, a very potent counter to any big monsters and MSU for scoring purposes. After a lot of deliberation, I gave the green light to my captain to throw me under the bus, if it would help out in the rest of the matches. This was to my opponent’s delight, who had put the match down as a very favorable one.

    Thankfully, the scenario was Secure Target and not Breakthrough, which meant that I had a decent chance of tying the secondary objective.

    Simon was the friendliest guy, and we started off the game with some dice and T-shirt exchanges, as is customary at the ETC. He even gave me some custom-made objective markers that came in very handy during the entire tournament (I would end up playing Secure Target another 4 times).

    His list was a lot less friendly for Sylvan Elves everywhere:

    Mr T-800 wrote:

    We got Frontline Clash as our deployment type, and I picked the side with a big hill to act as cover for my units for the first few turns. The two markers went down 24” apart from each other on the left flank. I chose to place mine deep into my opponent’s zone, as I find that this forces him to keep some units in reserve: ogre units are prone to panic outside of the general’s bubble, so with the help of Totemic Beasts I can hope to panic the scorers off my enemy’s objective and claim a cheeky win.

    We alternated deployment drops for a while, then my opponent dropped everthing and gave me the first turn: with all of his shooting safely tucked away in forests/ruins, my opening volley would not have that much of an impact.

    For magic, I got Awaken the Beast, Insect Swarm, Pounding Drumbeat and Totemic Summon with my Druid. The matriarch got Throne, Spirits of the Woods and Stone Skin. The Ogre Shaman took Immolation, Scorching Salvo, Pyroclastic Flow and Enveloping Embers.

    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    The way we had deployed , the two kestrel units were squaring off against two units of bruisers and a unit of bombardiers: I knew from previous matches that kestrels can take these on the charge one-on-one, so I moved them up aggressively, trying to make it happen. On the left, movement was far more conservative: both trees hugged the hill, as did the forest guard. The archers and dancers hid inside my forest: I wanted to force as many penalties for shooting as possible, thus limiting early casualties.

    Magic failed to have an impact this turn, and a volley shot from the archers into the left bombardiers only caused a single wound.

    TURN 1 – Ogre Khans

    On the right side, the bruiser conga spotted an opening and moved past the arc of sight of both kestrel units. The Bombardiers in the forest reformed and shot at my right kestrels, but they were not able to score any wounds. On the left side, the ogres advanced in a uniform anner, getting within 24” of most of my units.

    The magic phase started with a high roll, meaning I had to let through a medium-sized pyroclastic flow into the BSB’s dancers: 13 hits later, 6 dancers lay dead! Fortunately, I was able to dispel the scorching salvo that came right after.

    Shooting didn’t amount for much, all of the units were getting hit at a 7+ and my opponent was kind enough not to roll any 6’s with a bunch of dice!

    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves

    Given the ranged supremacy of the Ogres, I figured I had to go on the offensive if I was to get some points: The kestrels charged into a Bruiser conga, making contact: the Bombardiers into the forest were a 7” overrun away, so I figured that it was worth a try. The BSB jumped ship into the smaller Bladedancers, now that his retinue was reduced to only 6 elves. Finally, the treefathers still denied the Khan any good charges by staying safely behind the hill.

    Magic saw me cast Insect Swarm on the leftmost bombardiers, killing the wounded ogre. Then the Ring of Fire was dispelled, as was the Totemic Beast: with 3 dice left, I opted for a Stone Skin on the Kestrels in combat, which went through. In shooting, the archers aimed at the wounded bombardiers, putting a further 2 wounds into them.

    The Kestrels performed a perfect combat, killing 2 ogres for one wound back: the remaining ogre broke and fled, getting away. The birds hit the flank of the Bombardiers, closing a very successful turn for the SE.

    TURN 2 – Ogre Khans

    With the right flank rapidly collapsing, my adversary opted to push aggressively with his units on the left: all the bruisers advanced full steam ahead, with the Khan’s unit and the bombardiers close by. The Shaman moved into the wounded bombardiers to get in a better position for spellcasting.On the right flank, the lone bruiser rallied and the other unit moved towards my lines, the second unit of kestrels looking straight at their rear.

    Finally, the trappers moved up and blocked my left treefather’s charge into the bruiser columns.

    Magic started with a very high roll of scorching salvo that I had to let through:a dancer, 4 dryads and 2 forest guard fell to the flames. Then I stopped the ring of fire and the pyroclastic flow that were both aimed at my archers. Shooting was aimed at the archers, killing 5 of them in spite of needing 7’s to wound!

    The kestrels, still augmented with Stoneskin, dealt 5 wounds on the bombardiers, suffering none in return. This proved to be too much for the ogres: being in the forest, they lost steadfast, fled and got cut down in pursuit by the elven fast support.

    TURN 3 – Sylvan Elves

    Looking at the battlefield, I saw an opening that could potentially help me get an unexpected win, but there were risks involved : the rightmost treefather had LoS to the trappers blocking the other treefather. Their positioning was such that if he won he’d overrun into the flank of the bruisers. The potential for multiple overruns in a row was too much to pass up!

    First, both the Dryads and the now depleted Bladedancers charged consecutive units of bruisers. Then, the Treefather declared his charge into the flank of the Scrapling trappers. Thankfully, all of the units made it in (4-5” charges). To make this work perfectly, I needed the Kestrels to redirect the Khan: enter a failed march test and the kestrels wouldn’t be able to redirect…. Crap….

    What’s worse, the second treefather didn’t have enough movement to block the Khadagai Khan’s charge into the engaged treefather.

    In other news, the second unit of kestrels charged the rear of the rightmost unit of bruisers and made it in.

    In the magic phase I got a big phase, and started with a Ring of Fire on the now 4 bombardiers, which got promptly dispelled. Then the Totemic Beast was also stopped, leaving me with enough dice to put +1 strength on the charging bladedancers, then send the second treefather right in front of the Khan’s bombardiers with a Pounding Drumbeat! With my final die I even managed to cast the Oaken Throne! Talk about a successful magic phase!

    Shooting went quite well too, killing a bombardier from the shaman’s unit. The treefather’s roots may have put a wound or two on the Khan’s retinue.

    In close combat, things went spectacularly well: the Kestrels broke and killed the Bruisers in pursuit, the Treefather forced the trappers to flee and hit the bruiser/dryad combat. In that combat, the combined efforts of the dryads and the treefather depleted the bruisers and forced them to flee: they’d escape pursuit and end up close to the table edge. The Bladedancers made short work of their quarry (12 S5 attacks do that to ogres) and overrun far enough to get into the Shaman’s retinue!

    TURN 3 – Ogre Khans

    Disaster continued in my opponent’s turn: the last non-fleeing bruiser unit charged the archers, but a well-placed volley caused them to panic and run off the board. This also panicked the second unit of trappers, who followed suit. The Khan and co charged into the treefather (most expensive redirector in the entire ETC?) Finally, the leftmost scrappling unit flank charged my 3 victorious dancers in combat with the Shaman and his bombardiers. The fleeing bruiser failed to rally and fled off the table, too.

    With the Shaman in combat, my opponent opened his magic phase with a 4-dice burning embers on my Forest Guard: one miscast later,the bombardiers were reduced to 2 models and the spell was lost. The rest of the spells were countered.

    The charging Khan and co made short work of the treefather, but he was able to kill a bombardier in return. Finally, in the scrapling/Shaman/bladedancer combat I tried to have my cake and eat it too: With +1 strength thanks to Beast Awakens I figured that I could get the 3+ ward to protect my precious dancers, while keeping a decent damage output to stay in combat. That proved to be a huge error, since the bladedancers only dealt a couple of wounds on the bombardiers and none to the scraplings on their flank (I needed 1 to drop rank bonus to 2) which meant that I lost combat by 2 and fled. In hindsight, I should have gone for the Cancel ranks/fear dance, which would have allowed me to focus all of the attacks into the bombardiers. I may have lost the dancers to the shaman’s attacks then, though.

    The victorious scraplings and bombardiers reformed to block an incoming treefather charge into the shaman.

    This is how the table looked after all those combats:

    TURN 4 – SE

    The Treefather and dryads declared a charge into the scraplings: odds were I’d be able to kill enough to break steadfast, leading to a charge into the shaman anyway. My opponent fled off the table instead, then declared a flee reaction against the treefather’s redirect into the shaman. This left both of my units stranded in front of a very angry khan…

    My 2 bladedancers, now below 25%, failed to rally and ran closer to the single surviving bruiser.

    In the magic and shooting I put all of my efforts into depleting the fleeing bombardiers: an insect swarm and 15 archer shots later, only 1 bombardier survived on 1 wound, plus the Shaman on 3 wounds: being below 25% of starting size, they’d have to rally on a Ld 4.

    TURN 4 – OK

    The shaman and retinue failed to rally and fled closer to the table edge (spoiler: they’d fail to rally and flee of the table on the following turn). The khan and co charged their second treefather of the evening, while the bruiser charged the fleeing bladedancers who fled closer to the centre.

    Yet again the khan dealt with the Treefather, however once more the tree struck first and killed a couple of bombardiers. The overrun of the unit took them directly into the dryad matriarch’s retinue.

    TURN 5 – SE

    The kestrels charged to the rescue: they spotted the flank of the bombardiers and charged in. The thinking behind this was to try and kill as many of the bombardiers as possible before they got to strike, allowing my units to stay in combat for another turn, in time for a bladedancer charge on turn 6. The fleeing bladedancers failed to rally and fled right in front of 20 sharp-shooting scraplings.In the magic phase my opponent allowed me to cast +1 strength on the charging Kestrels, stopping the ring of fire on the scraplings sitting on the objective.Stone skin was dispelled, but I was able to put Spirits of the Woods on the dryads, making them steadfast.

    The archers shot a volley at the last remaining bruiser, managing to kill him. All that was left now was the khan’s unit and 20 scraplings!

    In the ensuing combat, I’d do a couple ofbig mistakes (hindsight 20/20 and all that): the khan issued a challenge, which I opted to denywith the matriarch: being out of combat, I figured that I was saving my general. What I didn’t know though, was that the Matriarch would get Ld0 for the remainder of the phase, making my steadfast useless if all the dryads died. That is exactly what happened: the BSB gulped down his potion of swiftness and struck before the kestrels, killing one. Then the birds went to town on the bombardiers: between their attacks and the dryads, only the banner of the unit remained. With only the banner and the Khan left to attack, my opponent proceeded to kill all 4 remaining dryads! In the end, I lost combat by 2: the kestrels legged it, and so did the Matriarch. This freed up the khan for some turn 5 charges!

    TURN 5 – OK

    With an array of units to choose from, the BSB/Khan duo first declared a charge on my forest guard,who fled. After a bit of thought, they redirected into my BSB and bladedancers. The shaman and bombardier failed to rally and fled off the table.

    Scraplings shot the two remaining bladedancers, destroying my hopes for a cheeky turn 6 rally. In combat, the dancers got 3+ ward save and only lost one of their number to the charging ogres. Their attacks back killed the last bombardier (points!) and wounded the BSB once. The dancers lost combat by 1, but passed a very stressful Ld8 Break test.

    TURN 6 – SE

    The fleeing kestrels, matriarch and fleeing forest guard all rallied. In the magic phase, the druid tried in vain to move the rallied forest guard into the objective with pounding drumbeat, however this allowed him to grant +1 strength to the Bladedancers. The archers tried but failed to panic the scraplings off the second objective. In combat, the Khan issued a challenge which my BSB had to accept. The elf struck first, wounded the lord once and gained Distracting. He then proceeded to dodge every single ogre attack either by dodging, ward saving or simply being too tough to wound (6+ ward and T3 for the win!). Meanwhile, the dancers all put their attacks on the BSB, and managed to kill him outright!

    Combat resolution saw the Khan lose combat by 5 and run. It was his 2d6 vs my 3d6 swift, but luck ran out at that point: I failed to catch him, which denied me a bigger win.

    TURN 6 – OK

    In the closing steps of the game, the Khan rallied and the scraplings shot without success at my recently rallied Kestrels.

    When it came to measuring for secondary objectives, it turned out that my pursuit move with the BD put the dancers in range of the objective, cancelling out the objective claimed by the scraplings!

    We counted points, and it ended up being a 16-4 win for the Sylvan Elves!


    The end result came as a surprise for both myself and my adversary: Simon had expected to win this, but the dice said otherwise! Looking back at the game, I think that apart from the two mistakes when it came to bladedancer combats, I played a tight game: my opponent gave me one opening by misplacing his scraplings, and it went downhill from there.

    A very bloody and fun game to start the ETC 2017, can one ask for more? Simon was a perfect gentleman and went on to put a good performance in the following rounds, albeit plagued by bad dice rolls in a game or two. I figure that a ritualistic dice burning is in order, or whatever the kiwis do to ward off bad spirits.

    As for the team, the first round went great: we ended up getting the maximum points for a 100-60 win, propelling us up to the top tables!

    The New Zealand team was a blast to play against, great guys all of them and deserving winners of the Sportsmanship award. I really hope our paths will cross again, even if it means facing that OK list again! :)

    (As a bonus, I got to meet and chat with @casamar , who played SE for NZ. It’s always fun to put faces to names, after all those discussions on the forum!)

    Next round: Bulgaria and the Nikolov brothers!

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Comments 5

  • casamar -

    I have been waiting and waiting for this battle report - all the games I played vs that list and getting smashed, no matter the combination of SE I brought to the table, an impressive win. Team NZ thoroughly enjoyed all our games vs Belgium. I tried hard to convince my captain for a mirror match to pick your brains for 3 hours lol

  • arnadil -

    Amazing that we can participate in the ETC a bit by reading your great reports. Thanks a lot!
    And very well played! This was a surprising win and - as it seems - not only due to the dice, but also to your skills.

  • MeuhMeuh -

    Aaaah damn man, very well played. Don't you have a champ in your dryads that could have accepted that khan's challenge ? Also, what the heck were the kestrels doing in turn 3 / 4 (the rightmost one clearly earned the title of MVP this game. This unit is sooo good !).
    Your opponnent gave you two opportunities and you took them -nothing to do with dice rolls-
    Good job sir ! :D

    • SmithF -

      Thanks for the kind words!
      The Kestrels were indeed MVPs in several of my games, I'm never disappointed by their performance. With a relatively static SE army (movement 5 all around) these are the tools that open up the games for me.

      Back to the game, I think that on turn 3 and 4 the kestrels spent some time repositioning after they'd killed the Bruisers and Bombardiers respectively.

  • Clef -

    The best thing about ETC 2017 for non participants? SmithF's ETC Chronicles! :D