ETC 2018: Short Battle Reports

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  • Hello folks!

    I'm just back from the Zagreb ETC 2018, where I participated with DH as part of the Belgian team. The event can only be described as a great wargaming and social experience!
    With very few pictures taken (broken phone cam) and time constraints, full battle reports may take a while to get posted, if ever. So here's a recap of my six games of the ETC, and how the team did.

    Game 1 - Switzerland (EoS)

    The Swiss have made a habit of beating us in tournaments, they have a very good set of players and a coach with deep understanding of the game. Their lists were well constructed and had few weaknesses. I had estimated that playing against the Empire would allow me to score a good chunk of points (15+) since it had practically no threats for my king: Cosmology master, 18" Ld bubble/BSB combo, 4x10 Militia, 2x Sun Griffon Knights, Steam Tank, Cannon, 3x small swordsmen and a Knight Commander on a Young griffon with S7 ap3 and 1+ rerollable save.

    The scenario was Secure Target and I managed to keep both objectives close to each other: The game was focused on one side of the board, with my Seekers vanguarding towards the steam tank and a unit of Griffon Knights, the two units of crossbowmen facing the smaller, halberd-totting, Griffon knights and my Hold Guardians and Warriors between the two and in proximity for supporting either side.

    Highlights of the game:
    - the EoS took first turn and the starting volley and magic dropped an impressive 8 seekers. The seekers then succeeded a 10+ charge into the tank, but despite hatred and S7 ap4 only managed to do one wound to it. They'd subsequently get ground down without putting as much as a dent into the hated contraption.
    - The king's unit had to mow through four units of militia chaff, masterfully positioned for double flee shenanigans. By turn 3 I got the big break as one of the flee moves fell short and allowed me to go behind lines and then charge into a protracted Tank-Seeker-Sun Griffon combat. It ended with the KotSG fleeing off the table, the last seekers dying and the king then pursuing into the steam tank. This fight would go on for a while, at first because some swordsmen charged into my flank and denied my king his make way move, then because it took 4 rounds of combat to bring the steam tank to one wound. In the end, I didn't even manage to kill it!
    - The Knight Commander relocated towards my shooting units and then got stuck in a protracted combat against my rangers. He beat them with the help of the second KoTSG and sent them fleeing.
    - With so many combats/magic/shooting going on we were runing late, so we agreed not to play a rushed sixth turn: on turn 5 a couple of things happened that really cost me. The Marshall and some swordsmen charged into my Marksmen, and proceeded to kill 8 dwarfs despite -1 to hit on the unit. I fluffed in return, and failed my LD test, getting run down. This gave my opponent one of the secure target markers. The other one was snatched from right under my nose by a unit of 5 fleeing swordsmen: they rallied with the Coldblooded Order, allowing them to march normally: boosted by a second order (+4" march) they ended up exactly within 6" of the second counter.
    Add to that the fact that the king couldn't finish the steam tank to reform and charge them off the objective, and the game saw a 7+ point swing!

    In the end, DH lost 6-14 in a very good, strategic game.
    Our team didn't fare better (they had less favorable matchups than mine) and we lost the round 64-96.

    Game 2 - Latvia (KoE)

    The scenario here was Hold the Centre and the deployment was Refused Flank. My opponent had brought an MSU-ish KoE force spearheaded by a big Pegasus knight unit accompanied by a killer Duke (virtue of Renown, Blessed inscriptions for 4 s6 attacks rerolling to wound, with lethal strikes dealing D3w), a Divination master Inside a 10-strong questing knight unit, the Green Knight and two trébuchets.

    It became apparent in deployment that my adversary was planning on softening my units up for a turn 6 charge, since he deployed very deep and abandoned the central objective. I managed to vanguard my seekers out of sight of the trébuchets, then used them to control the approach of the lances and the landing zones for the Pegasus knights. The combined efforts of crossbows and flame cannons managed to make 3 units of Aspirants or Realm knights flee off the board, giving me the edge point-Wise. Not needing more points since the team was winning, and with the opponent reluctant to commit, we ended the game on a 15-5 win for the Dwarves.

    The team managed very good results overall, getting a maximum tournament point score of 100-60.

    Game 3 - Belarus (VC)

    On the second day of the tournament, we got paired against Belarus! The team included several ETC vétérans from Russia and France. As luck would have it, I got to play @benj and his Vampire Covenant army. Benji was part of last year's France ETC team and is well known in tournament circles for his performance, but also for being a fair and fun player.

    He had brought vampireless VC: Master Evocation, 2x adepts (evocation and alchemy), 40 Ghouls with a Court of the Damned Inside, 33 Barrow guard with shields, Barrow King BSB and +1 to hit banner, 5 vamp spawn, 4 winged reapers, zombies to fill out core and some bat redirectors. I had estimated this as a good match due to the lack of killer vampire, and knew that as long as I kept the Barrow guard away from my Warriors I'd be fine. The secondary objective was Spoils of War.

    Highlights of the game:
    - I got to play first and rushed to pick up two of the tokens, one with my king's unit and one with the rangers that were out of harm's way. The seekers used vanguard and their march move to move opposite the barrow guard, shielding my warriors from them and also getting in an advantageous position where if charged I could countercharge with the hold guardians. My opponent didn't take the bait and maneuvered instead.
    - On turn 2, I had my big opening: the barrow guard could be combo-charged to the front by the seekers (auto) and the Hold Guardians (need an 8+, rerollable from being on a hill). Aided by hatred and with decent chances of killing the Barrow King straight away, I took it. I promptly failed the roll, and things took a turn for the worse.
    - The Barrow guard would grind the seekers down in a couple of turns, unfortunately staying engaged with a single seeker during my following shooting phase (so no double flame cannon on them). In the meantime, the Spawn and the Reapers combo charged the Hold Guardians, who tanked them and held long enough for the king to come charging out of the unit. The king killed all of the winged reapers and the Vampire spawn, however not on time to save the last hold guardian.
    - The Ghouls took three turns of shooting to the face, dropping down to 7 models despite the attempts of the necromancer at raising them back. In the endgame, they managed to kill my unit of handgunners after I failed to punch through by charging on my turn.
    - The turning point in the game came when the Barrow Guard were free of the Seekers and could charge the Warriors: the characters had jumped ship by now, so the unit was left to fend off for itself. The dwarves endured four combat phases despite heavy losses, keeping steadfast. I had my chance at saving them by making a 4+ charge to the flank of the barrows with 17 GW marksmen, and I promptly rolled a 3...

    End result, the warriors die on the final round of combat, dropping their token and reducing the secondary objective to a draw. The marksmen die also to the ghouls, leaving the dwarves bloodied. 7-13 loss for the Dwarves

    The game was a blast, I was just a little sad that the two big openings didn't pan out for me. This would become a recurring theme...
    Thanks @benj for a great game!

    The round ended up being a very small loss for the team, with a 78-82 score.

    Game 4 - Austria (ID)

    The fourth game would be against the Austrians, a country that boasts many prominent forum members and regular ETC-goers, including @Kathal , my opponent for the game. Having interacted with him on various occasions on the forum, it was really nice finally putting a face to the name and getting to play a game as well!

    He had brought a pyromancy/alchemy-focused list with decent shooting, decent scoring in the form of small Citadel Guard and Tauruks and a couple of big anti-push elements: the Kadim Titan and the Infernal Engine with the Shrapnel guns. We got to play King of the Hill.

    The deployment was central for the most part, with only a unit of rangers squaring off against some tauruks, some citadel guard and a volley gun team (the ID had two of those). The seekers vanguarded forward and the ID got the initiative.

    Highlights of the game:
    - The ID weren't pressed to advance, so shuffled a bit forward and we went directly into magic. In the magic phase, the seekers were made Flammable, then I failed to dispel the Burning Embers. A combination of these spells, the Blaze (from the banner of Inferno) and some focused shooting resulted in 20 dead seekers, depriving me of one of my fast combat threats.

    - With such an upset on turn 1, I shoved my Hold Guardians forward towards the Kadim and the character bunker (Adept, Master and the BSB inside 15 warriors). In the magic phase, my attempts to boost them failed, but that left me enough dice to move them even further using the rune of Resolve. The shooting started picking wounds here and there, but nothing major. My adversary elected to send the Titan into the Hold Guardians, and even rendered them flammable. In that combat, I suffered 5 wounds on the charge. But in return, the HG rolled exceptionally well and dealt the 6 unsaved wounds necessary to kill the titan outright!

    - The victorious Hold Guardians got a 6+ charge on the enemy bunker, succeeded and after combat made them flee from combat resolution and out of the table!

    So on turn 2 the enemy magic was neutralized and I had gained a huge chunk of victory points. As expected, the game went south for the ID from there on, resulting in a 20-0 victory for the Dwarven Holds!

    This game I got really lucky when I needed it, and as it was impossible to predict the death of the kadim on turn 1 (it usually takes 2 rounds of combat or more to die) my opponent was in a very bad position.

    The rest of the team also got good results, sometimes out of unfavorable matchups, leading to a 100-60 victory!

    Game 5 - Bulgaria (SA)

    For our fifth round we were to play against the Bulgarians, a team that beat us soundly in 2017: back then I played against Hristo, this time I was shoved against the Saurian Ancients of Georgyi. He had a Divination Quatl, two raptor cowboys, 2x20 skinks w/javelins and a saurus block for core, while 3 spearbacks, a stygiopsaur and two taurosaurs (one of them with the engine) completed the list. We'd play capture the flags, which is a particularly difficult scenario against this kind of list as the adversary can hide the scorers and use the rest of the army to grab the dwarven flags.

    It was made clear by spell selection that the Saurians wouldn't be engaging in a all-out assault: my adversary took four magic missiles (SA hereditary, Fate's Judgment, Unerring strike and the swarm of insects) and dropped for the first turn.

    - The seekers were the primary target of shooting and magic, since they were blocking the taurosaurs' way into my scoring rangers. They took three unerring strikes, which dropped them down to 6 strong: relegated to a roadblock, I'd use them on turn 4 to block said taurosaur from advancing.
    - To my surprise, my opponent didn't hide his skinks but instead played them in front of his lines as redirectors. I took advantage of that, pushing hard with the king's unit. He had to redirect me with both to avoid me getting into the quatl's bunker, and I managed to catch one in pursuit; over the next few turns I'd play cat and mouse with the saurus, finally managing to charge them on turn 5 (by then the quatl had jumped ship). Unfortunately, they escaped pursuit and bounced through half the SA battleline, landing some 30" away from all of my units, and surviving enough DTs to be able to rally.
    - The Hold Guardians went for the final scoring unit (rallied skinks) and forced it to flee off the board, getting a taurosaur into their flank in return. The Banner of the Hold made sure they held and they ground down the dino in a couple of turns.
    - The two cowboys went for the warmachines, and I was able to flank the scar veteran (1+/4++ with a GW) with my Marksmen. Despite losing combat by 5, my opponent held and subsequently countercharged with the Engine, killing them outright.
    - From turn 5 onwards the quatl threw everything it had on the Hold Guardians, but they were able to weather the magic and shooting, staying alive on a single wound!
    - The Saurian Warlord spent three turns fighting against my rangers, finally dropping them below steadfast on the final round of combat. With the help of the King, the dwarves passed their Break test and held their ground, preserving the secondary objective for the DH!

    In the end, the game was a 10-10 draw thanks to the secondary objective.
    The rest of the team did very well, and we got a 94/66 win , propelling us to the top tables for the final round!

    Game 6 - Denmark (BH)

    So here we are, against all odds, fighting it out on the top tables! Team Denmark had wiped the floor with the Belgians once before in 2016, so we were not very optimistic about the round. Our coach told us to go out there and try to make as many points as possible since every single matchup was going to be so dice-dependent.

    I got paired against @Troels and his beast herds, a matchup that in hindsight we both found favorable. He had a Minotaur-led army with Shamanism master, two blocks of 30 and 50 spear-totting Mongrels respectively, a unit of 8 vanguarding Razortusks, two single razortusks, a unit of harpies, a unit of mongrel raiders and no less than four (!) scoring centaur units with lances, aided by a Centaur BSB.

    The scenario was Breakthrough, which is by definition very hard against beasts. However, I was confident that as long as I kept the big mongrel unit (that could break my steadfast) at bay, I'd be fine against any other matchup. So I deployed centrally with the three fighting units, using flame cannons to zone the big blocks, and placed both the marksmen and the rangers on the left flank, where only two centaur units were waiting. The plan was to use their shooting to kill these, then push them into the enemy deployment zone late game.

    - My opponent advanced aggressively with his minotaur warlord inside 30 mongrels, giving me an opening: he placed him against the 24 seekers, giving me an auto charge. I went in, then used the cover created by this combat to move my warriors 15", right across from the big razortusk unit. In the process, I abandoned my warmachines to the single razortusks, but there was no way of both keeping them safe and advancing anyway.

    - In the minotaur/seeker combat, the dice gods laughed at my expense once more: On the first round of combat I put everything I had into the Mino lord (who had Aaghor's affliction, so R6 and 4+ fortitude save but no armour), a total of 20 attacks with Hatred and always wounding on 4+. One wound went through. On the second round only one seeker was left alive and the minotaur was on one wound.

    - My big mistake came when, kind of demoralized by the seeker's performance, I forgot to use the rune of Storms on the Harpies. These blocked my king's unit, obliging me to take a risk. The king charged out of his unit and into the big razortusk unit. I won combat by a lot, killing 3 of the beasts and only taking a wound back, but since the minotaur was still alive they held. On my opponent's turn, he flank charged the king with the victorious minotaur/mongrel block:
    I used the Holdstone, and prepared to weather the attack. Boosted by Beast Awakens, the mino rolled pretty well getting 5 wounds before saves. I proceeded to fail all my 5+ armour saves and all my 5++ aegis saves (albeit rerollable from divine attacks), and the king died without even striking the mino…

    - From then on it became a game of cat and mouse: the combined effort of the warriors and the marksmen made short work of two units of centaurs, while the Hold Guardians took the charge from the other two, killed one and made the 2 survivors from the other flee. After an initial flee reaction from the Minotaur's charge on the Warriors, I elected to stand on the following turn: the mino charged, killed some models and on the second round of combat I managed to deal the last wound, killing the enemy general at last! My joy was cut short when the razortusks passed their Ld5 panic check, same for the big unit of mongrels.

    - On turn 5 the big mongrel unit charged my (now 3-strong) hold guardians, who were boosted by both Rune of Resilience and Rune of Gleaming. They made it in, passed their Ld5 Primal Fear, and proceeded to deal 3 wounds on the HG despite needing 5's to hit and 6's to wound.. With their offensive ability diminished, I wasn't able to hold in that combat and fled off the table.

    - Turn 6, I've got the big warrior unit, the marksmen, the Rangers and the Anvil remaining, making the game draw-ish: I elect to double flee away from the Razortusks with the warriors (they end up near the table edge) and the marksmen (they end up right behind the anvil). A long charge from the big Mongrel herd gets into the anvil. Magic comes, and I fail on 6 dice to dispel a 4-dice beast awakens, not even getting any dice back from fizzle. The drama continues, as the beasts have enough dice to even put the +2 AP totem on the mongrels. Now S4 AP4, the 20 mongrel attacks with Primal Fury are more than enough to kill my anvil, allowing a pursuit into the fleeing marksmen and another 500 points down the drain.

    - The closing roll of the game is the rally roll for my fleeing unit of warriors, still above 25% and carrying my runic smith. I fail it and they flee off the table, leaving me with the Rangers and the BSB.

    The end result is a big defeat, 2-18 for the DH.

    Fortunately, my teammates pick up the slack once more. Against all odds, they manage four big wins, offsetting the two big losses that myself and our UD player suffer. We win the round 84-76.

    It turns out that this was the exact amount that we needed to win by to end up ahead of Denmark, and at the 4th place of the 2018 ETC!
    This is an all-time best for the team, and the perfect end to a very successful T9A year!
    The top 3 end up being Spain, Poland and Germany (just 7 battle points ahead of us!).

    Thoughts on the list performance:

    For history, here is my list again:

    SmithF wrote:

    Dwarven King on Warthrone, Shield, Rune of Destruction, 2x Rune of Might, Rune of Mining, Rune of Storms, Holdstone
    Thane BSB, Shield
    Runic Smith, Shield, 3 Battle Runes
    Anvil of Power

    36 Warriors with Shields, Full Command, Banner of the Relentless Company
    17 Marksmen with Crossbows, Great Weapons, Standard, Musician, Runic banner of Swiftness

    17 Rangers with Crossbows, Great Weapons, Musician
    6 Hold Guardians, Full Command, Runic Banner of the Hold
    24 Seekers, Vanguard, Musician, Champion

    2 x Flame Cannon

    I like to think that this was an easy list to pair, as in general very few of the matchups were very bad for me (around 25% of the opponents' lists, compared to a 40% ratio of good matches). However, they did not perform as well as in previous tournaments, netting the team a total of 60 tournament points out of a maximum of 120.

    There are several factors affecting that, some inherent to the list and some relative to the tournament itself:

    • If there's one weakness of the list, it is that while it has speed when it comes to initial placement of units, that momentum is lost on the following turns, especially if the opponent tries to evade instead of getting stuck into combat. For example, against the Saurian Ancients, there was no way of catching the single models with more than 10" march even if I tried. Units are easier to catch due to the bigger footprint, but in general the same applies to, say, KoE lances. In singles you get this less, as evasion doesn't net you many TPs and thus the opponent has less incentive to do so.
    • Compared to the SE that I played previously in ETCs, the Dwarves lack the potential for creating openings out of nothing. The big units are very good at conserving points, but there's only so many charges that you can declare with 5 blocks total.
    • Chaff clearing: While very unimaginative, stocking up on Breath weapons as some of the other push lists did allows you to get that 2d6 s4 when you need it to clear that unit of chaff that will cause you headaches on the following turns. The rune of storms helps somewhat when said chaff is flying (as long as I remember to use it), and just setting aside a couple of turns for chaff clearing is another option, albeit dependent on dice (you will need to try to catch the chaff since pushing it out of the table is not always a possibility).
    • Dice: While overall dice were balanced, the moment when I really needed to roll average, be it for a charge range (the two failed charges against the vampires, both game-changers), damage (that minotaur that survived 24 seekers, the same as that Steam Tank on game 1) or saves (the papier-maché armour of my king vs the Mino lord on game 6), dice seemed to abandon me. When you're playing an aggressive army with movement 3, it's not as if you'll get many chances at opening the game. I took every opening that I found, but often it didn't pan out when it should have. Inevitably, the lists that I got to play against are lists that need to get stuck in combat (for the most part) to get points, meaning that if you fluff horribly you risk losing a lot of points.
    • The meta shift: I've been playing with the dwarves (slight variations of the same list) for a year now, it's not as if the list was a secret. Inevitably, people start taking the build into account and it loses its surprise element.
    List evaluation:

    - King on Throne: the backbone of the list, mainly due to the Hatred but also because he keeps enemy monsters and characters relatively honest. Apart from the last game where he got slaughtered by the Mino Lord, definitely a positive tournament for him. A

    - Thane BSB: did what he had to do, was cheap and stayed alive. A

    - Runic Smith and Anvil: my source of magic, it never really disappointed. The anvil occasionally died, but never before turn 5. Concerning spell selection, my go-to spells were Rune of Resilience and Rune of Gleaming, with the Rune of Revocation a close third (picked in 5 out of 6 games). In hindsight, perhaps rerolls to wound would have been a nice force multiplier, too. B+

    - Warriors: cheap, dependable, fast enough for a dwarf. No complaints here! B

    - Marksmen: Good source of small arms fire, although on some occasions I missed having handguns. There are also too many 1+/4++ cowboys running around at the ETC, who can quickly make short work of them. They were pivotal in winning the game against KoE. B-

    - Rangers: Great unit, I'd bring two if I had the points. Their 3+ aim gives them the edge in ranged shootouts, as does their ability to deploy as scouts. Contrary to the marksmen, they can afford to move and shoot if that takes them into short range, a 5+ to hit is not that bad. They also happen to be the cheapest infantry unit in my list, due to the fact that they don't need a banner. B+

    - Seekers: These understandably had a huge bullseye on them. They unfortunately didn't do what they had to do on two games, costing me the win (Beasts and Empire). That said, they are what allows the army to play aggressively, as they usually pin down the one thing that would prevent me from advancing. A

    - Hold Guardians: They were absolute beasts! The banner of the Hold makes them so reliable against single monsters, flyers, even enemy hard hitters with one rank. If only they hadn't failed their charge vs the Vampires... 6-strong is the sweet spot for me, enough attacks to make a dent, and a price tag that means that you don't lose the game by losing them. I always used them with the +1 S/AP buff, I'd only think about taking something else against elves. A

    - Flame Cannons: I'd take them again, even if it was just for their zoning potential and the added deployment drops. At 150 points each, they can be left behind without worrying too much about them. Against certain targets they are the equivalent of a Fireball, against others they do as many hits as a boosted pyroclastic flow. Said otherwise, they get the same hits (or more) than a 20-strong unit of Crossbows, at one fourth of the price. I consider them a steal at that price tag. B+

    Overall, the ETC was again a great experience. This was the third year in a row that I attend, and it keeps getting better and better.
    It was really fun getting to meet people from the forums, meeting six great teams and playing seven excellent opponents (I got to play two people from Denmark due to the flight plans of my BH adversary). My team mates are an awesome bunch, and the social part of the weekend was the best part of it: so thanks for that!

    As for my Dwarven Hold adventures, I think that they will be put on a hold for a while: my elven side is calling, and think it's about time I started dreading pyromancy again..

    So thanks for reading, apologies for the huge wall of text, and happy summer gaming!


    533 times read

Comments 2

  • Cultivator -

    "As for my Dwarven Hold adventures, I think that they will be put on a hold for a while: my elven side is calling, and think it's about time I started dreading pyromancy again.. "

    Great to hear!

  • tiny -

    Thank you for sharing this! :) Always enjoy your ETC after thoughts