The Novi Sad ETC Chronicles: Game 2

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  • GAME 2 – Austria

    After the success of the first round we found out that we’d be facing team Austria! That was great news, as in last year’s ETC we faced them in a very memorable round. The Austrians are not only great guys to play with, but they often come up with very personal and “against the current” lists. Fighting against such armies is refreshing and challenging at the same time.

    This year it seems that real life had an impact on the roster of their team, with @Sir_Joker and @Clef being notable absences. While I was a bit sad that I wouldn’t get to chat about all things elves with the aforementioned gentlemen, we were more than compensated by the Norse Mercenaries (or should I say Varangian guard?) that brought even more craziness when it came to list building: a glimmering host of no less than 300 Highborn Elves and a battle-crazed mass of OnG (or Norse raiders as you’ll see) featuring almost 100 Gnashers, 100 Orcs and some change!

    Who would be the mastermind behind these lists, you ask? Well, none other than @Herminard, of former Balance team fame and a Battleline enthusiast. The wonder of the internet is such that I've been actually chatting and playing with Hermund almost for a decade before actually meeting him at the 2016 Athens ETC. So getting to play against him (and share drinks afterwards) was like meeting an old friend. This was to be our first battle on a real tabletop, and I was looking forward to it. On a sidenote, his list and his mate’s Hallvard’s were so outside the box that none of my teammates actually wanted to face them.

    Hermund lined up the following list:

    Herminard wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Common Orc Shaman, General, War Cry, Shamanism Master, Crown of Autocracy, Skull Fetish
    Forest Goblin Witch Doctor, Thaumaturgy Master
    Common Orc Chief BSB, Aether Icon, Banner of Discipline, Obsidian Rock
    5 x Forest Goblin Chief on Huntsmen Spider

    CORE:
    3 x 20 Common Orcs, Spears, Musican
    2 x 20 Common Orcs, Spears

    SPECIAL:
    3 x 24 Gnasher Herd
    1 x 23 Gnasher Herd

    2 x Git Launcher
    1 x Skewerer

    I had rated this game as Neutral, meaning that it could go either way, with a good probability of ending up in a draw. The reason for that is double: the magic and shooting of the Orcs was considerable and could easily drop a kraken per turn if dice went their way. Secondly, the entire army was potentially Swiftstride with a movement of 5 or more. Meaning that the Krakens lost their range advantage and could end up in very precarious positions if I wasn’t careful. So I expected to bleed points while grinding the enemy units down.

    The scenario for this round was King of the Hill, and the deployment on table we got to play was Counterthrust. My adversary picked sides, getting the one with the hill in the middle of the deployment zone. That would make things more difficult for me when it came to assaulting the Viking lines. In spell selection the Shamanism Master took Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Break the Spirit and Bring the Pain while the Thaumaturgy Master took Hand of Heaven, Smite the Unbeliever, Cleansing Fire and Trial of Faith. My acolytes took the usual Grave Calls/Breath of Corruption and Ice and Fire/Crippling Fatigue combo.

    I must say I was relieved when Hermund didn’t pick the Comet, as it was the one spell that I couldn’t afford to let through: a well placed comet can influence the army’s movement far too much, making me lose momentum. That’s not something that you want to do with an angry mob staring at you.
    For the scenario purposes we did not get much of a choice: the Forest in the middle of the table was the only eligible terrain for both of us, which turned the game in a modified version of Hold the Ground, essentially.

    We alternated deployment drops as dictated by the scenario, and once three units were down * (Hermund placed his centrally, so as to not reveal his deployment plans), I placed the rest to grab the first turn: against such a list I needed to be the one selecting the fights and I also needed to keep the enemy scorers into their deployment zone for secondary objective purposes.

    *Here I should mention that I accidentally misled Herminard: he started by deploying a warmachine, but I pointed out that the first three drops couldn’t be characters or warmachines. It turns out that the warmachine restriction only applies to Marching Columns for some reason, so I’ll use this space to apologize once more for the misplay!

    The Viking Orcs (Vikorcs? Orkkings?) went for a denied flank approach: using the hill as an anchor (with a big gnasher unit on top to make sure I didn’t get too close too fast) they extended to my left up to the board edge, with the Git Launchers safely behind the lines. The empty space to my right was then occupied by three goblin chiefs on spiders, making sure that I wouldn’t be able to vanguard past them to threaten the infantry’s flank.






    TURN 1 – Dread Elves

    My first movement was all about claiming battlefield space: the central dark raiders blocked any possible charges from the Gnashers on the hill, thus permitting me to be moderately aggressive with the krakens and the Manticore. I didn’t mind the Goblin chiefs solo-charging any of my models apart perhaps the Blades of Nabh, but I wasn’t a big fan of getting first turn charges from the expendable yet deadly gnashers. My Prince stayed inside his unit in order to avoid getting shot at by the Git Launchers and both Acolyte units moved up on their respective flanks. Magic was pretty uneventful, only a couple of orcs dying to an Ice and Fire on the far left (they were the only unit susceptible to panic that was out of range for BSB and General, so it was worth a shot!).






    TURN 1 – Orcs and Goblins

    Showing restraint that was uncharacteristic of their nature, the orcs took their time: The Goblin Chief inside the Orcs in the middle charged the dark raiders right in front of them but the remaining units held their ground: A goblin chief redirected my Yema Acolytes so that they wouldn’t be able to charge the skewerer that turn. The Gnashers on the hill moved a bit back, making it a bit harder for me to charge them.
    In magic I got off rather lightly: I let the Hand of Heaven through on my BSB but it failed to wound, then the Swarm of Insects took a wound off my central kraken in the woods. I dispelled cleansing fire, which would have put a bigger dent on my monsters. Shooting targeted the BSB on Manticore, who had (foolishly perhaps) wandered too close to the orcs and was without cover. Thankfully, a combination of medicore rolls from my opponent and good saves meant that despite a direct hit from a Git Launcher he only took one unsaved wound.
    The Chief killed 3 dark raiders in close combat and forced them to flee. They outran him, and he ended right in front of my kraken.



    TURN 2 – Dread Elves

    While the previous magic and shooting had been ineffective, it had showed me that I couldn’t risk leaving the BSB unprotected for another turn or two. So I looked hard to find a way to get him in a combat where he would be relatively safe. Charging spears headlong was out of the question (AP3 and a lot of combat buffs available!) but I spotted an opportunity: the Kraken was being redirected by a Discipline 7 goblin, so if I forced it to flee I’d be able to redirect into the orc spears. In the meantime, the BSB spotted the flank of the Gnashers on the hill, some 15” away and the kraken the flank of the orc spears around 14" away. I was not looking forward to a prolonged grind against the Gnashers, but fighting them to the flank opened up a lot of possibilities and would cause a traffic jam for the orc forces.
    All of that planning was for nothing, though: the goblin chief passed his terror check and held, and the flanking Manticore and Kraken failed their charge! The fleeing dark raiders rallied, and the rest of the chaff sprang into action: my second dark raider unit interposed themselves between the rightmost kraken and the gnashers , buying it some time, while the right medusa stepped in front of the orcs to protect my Manticore.
    The acolytes kept maneuvering some more: the leftmost unit’s role was to keep the orcs and gnashers occupied lest I maneuver past them and in striking distance of the Git Launchers. The yema acolytes approached the skewerer and would get rid of it on the following turn. Finally, the Prince relocated centrally, where the action would be. Here, I took a risk that would come back to haunt me : I exposed my krakens to the Gnashers on the hill, in an attempt to open the game. (in reality, I planned this move with the thought that the Manticore would pin them down for a turn...)

    Magic was fairly inconsequential, and in combat the Kraken dealt with the Goblin Chief without taking any wounds.





    TURN 2 – Orcs and Goblins

    Remember that risk I told you about? It kind of worked: The general sounded the Warcry! The Gnashers on the hill declared a charge but picked the wounded kraken a bit further away instead of the healthy one closest to them. I had the option to flee, but that would open up a redirection into my Prince, so the beast stood its ground. The rightmost gnashers took the Dark Raider offering right in front of them, and the orc spears fell into the medusa.The leftmost part of the orc battleline shuffled a bit, preparing countercharges for the following turn. The remaining two chiefs maneuvered into annoying (for the Dread Elves) positions, preventing my manticore from clipping the orcs in front of it on the following turn.
    This time magic had one goal and one goal alone: boost the gnashers fighting the Kraken. With a 9-5 phase I had to contend myself with stopping the worst of it: so I let through Awaken the Beast and Smite the Unbeliever, but was able to stop the Orc Hereditary spell. The kraken would have to hope that the gnashers didn’t roll too many 5’s to hit!
    Shooting put two wounds on my leftmost kraken, but the BSB at least survived unscathed.
    In combat things went badly for the Dread Elves: the charging Gnashers rolled about average and killed the Kraken before it could even strike back, then got an overrun into the flank of the Blades of Nabh standing right behind it! The second Gnasher unit killed all of the Dark Raiders they were fighting and overran, falling a couple of inches short from my rightmost Kraken but effectively blocking any other charges it might have had.
    The only consolation was that the Medusa not only survived the incoming Orcs’ attacks, but killed enough back to hold its ground!




    TURN 3 – Dread Elves

    So we’re turn 3 and I’ve got a S6 Gnasher block that’s about to kill one of my precious scoring units on my turn, then reform and charge my army’s flanks and rear. Here I had two options: either try to contain the damage by biding my time and denying the gnashers any good charges, or press forward and hope for the best!
    I opted for the second path: On the left side of the board my Acolytes took a chance and charged into the orc spearblock: these were still too far away from the general and I had by now killed a few with magic, meaning that I had good chances of winning combat and surviving. To the right the second acolyte unit charged the skewerer, while the Kraken had to charge the Gnashers (now out of Ld range as well) and hope it would survive their attacks. In the middle, the General and the final Kraken both declared charges into the orcs fighting the medusa. The second medusa fell into the goblin chief blocking it. Finally, the BSB saw the opportunity to create a charge/overrun cascade and declared a charge on the unit of orcs right behind the one my general had charged: if everything went according to plan, I’d get to break the front unit and fight again against the back one.

    Things went almost according to plan, this time, with all of the charges connecting except for the Manticore. That was a bit problematic because it left my BSB dangerously close to the Gnashers fighting the Blades, but also it meant that my general would have to deal with a flank charge on the following turn.
    In the magic phase I got the Crippling Fatigue off on the leftmost Orc unit, and the fight was on! We started with the Blades of Nabh fight, and the unthinkable happened: out of 9 attacks, the Blades managed a whopping 7 wounds on the Gnashers! They struck back and killed 6 of mine, meaning that when all was said and done I had only lost combat by 2: the elves passed their break test and even managed to reform!

    The Kraken fighting the gnashers fared well also, dodging most of the blows and killing/stomping enough gnashers to force a break test: they failed their Discipline 6 test and blew up, unfortunately taking the kraken with them. The BSB also suffered an unsaved wound from the explosion, but the tradeoff was that the goblin chief right next to my manticore panicked and ran away towards the Orc lines, effectively chaffing the general’s unit. In the center, the combination of the medusa’s, the kraken’s and my Prince’s attacks was enough to break the spearorcs without any significant damage back: the triumphant trio pursued into the unit of spearorcs waiting for them right behind. Moreover, both acolyte units performed admirably: The yema acolytes killed the skewerer, while the ones fighting the Spear Orcs gave better than they got, killing 8 orcs for only 1 unsaved wound back. The orcs failed their steadfast test and ran off the board, leaving the Acolytes free to charge the warmachines on the following turn. Finally, the Medusa managed to break the goblin chief it was fighting, but failed to catch him in pursuit.
    When the dust settled the Dread Elves had made a comeback: with one unit of gnashers was dead, the second was pinned down, three out of five orc units were dealt with and the warmachines would not be alive for much longer…





    TURN 3 – Orcs and Goblins

    Hermund had to pull a rabbit out of his hat now, so he pushed both of his unengaged gnasher units forward, bailed the characters from the orc unit behind the hill (which would be charged on the following turn) and placed them in the safety of the last Orc unit, hidden from sight by the hill. Then he placed his thaumaturgy witch doctor on the hill, on his own. The two fleeing goblin chiefs failed to rally and fled off the board, leaving just one alive on my right flank.
    In the magic phase it became apparent why: all of the magic was to be focused on the Manticore BSB, who had 2 wounds remaining. I had to let a boosted Hand of Heaven through which fortunately for me failed to penetrate the Manticore’s defenses, while the Trial of Faith and the Cleansing fire were dispelled.
    In combat things still went my way: the Prince and Co. broke the unit of Orcs (I lost the Medusa) and pivoted to face the rest of the enemy troops, while the Blades fought valiantly against the Gnashers, killing a bunch but getting slaughtered in the process.



    TURN 4 - Endgame

    Believe it or not, by now we’re running out of time: some heavy banter and equally heavy thinking took place during the game, so we’re rushing things to get an even number of turns in. So photos stop around here and the memory of the game is hazy as well.
    Essentially what happened was that the Acolytes to the far left finally fell upon the git launchers (by now one had misfired and couldn’t shoot anymore), while the Prince on Pegasus forced the Witch Doctor to flee but couldn’t catch him. The kraken, manticore and yema acolytes combo charged into the unit of orcs that the characters had just abandoned and then pursued to safety off board. The second unit of Blades finished off the Gnashers in the forest, and claimed the king of the hill objective.
    The corsairs had the dirty job of keeping the last Gnasher units off my back, thus ensuring that I wouldn’t get any nasty surprises towards the end of the game.



    Herminard took the points that he could on my final turn: the gnashers killed the corsairs, the Witch Doctor rallied and blasted the remaining medusa and that brought the game to a close. The elves were bloodied, but thanks to that amazing performance of the Blades of Nabh I managed to pull off a 16-4 win!



    AFTERMATH:

    Needless to say I got lucky in this game: while the Blades holding against 24 Gnashers fighting to the flank is not impossible, it came at a crucial moment. What’s more, the thought of having the gnashers roam free in my backline gave me the motivation to rush into the Orc battleline: I took chances that I wouldn’t have if I had the time to organize my forces better, and when that worked out it meant that Herminard’s forces were not in a position that would allow counterplay.
    Looking back at how the game played I’d say that getting to deploy in such an advanced position gave me a distinct advantage scenario-wise. That pushed a draw-ish game to a convincing win. There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong while executing the plan: the BSB taking more wounds (or dying!) from shooting and magic, the Blades not holding their ground, the Acolytes getting beaten by the 18-odd spear orcs that they charged and so on.

    The main advantage I had going into this game was that as long as the Leadership of the list was held back due to my flying threats, the gnashers and spider riders would be relatively easy prey to Terror, Panic and Break tests. Finally, not having to face the Comet was a huge boon, as it’s one of these spells that can win the game on their own.
    It was great getting to finally play against Hermund in real life, he’s a great sport and a cunning general; he chose yet another year to tie one hand behind his back by bringing something completely out of the ordinary, and he still managed to give my Elves a run for their money. It's worth noting that he'd end up with a total of 82 points and 5 wins during the ETC, a great performance overall! I gave him a promise that I’d stop all that single-model nonsense and try my hand at playing a battleline once more: perhaps next year I’ll have an even more exciting game to report, one where infantry clashes and mass units see battle. But that’s a tale for another time…

    While I was having a blast trying to figure out a way to assault 200+ Vikings, IHDarklord had a challenge of his own: face 300+ Highborn Elves (Vikings?) with his 4 units of Unbalanced Dynasties. The second Norseman, Hallvard, gave it his best shot, but in the end the undead prevailed!



    The rest of the round went well for us, too, meaning that we got another 100-60 result! So for Day 1 we were sitting at 200/200 points, ahead of teams like Poland, Spain and Germany. We knew that this moment of triumph was to be short-lived, but we still cherished it!

    Round 3 would see us face the USA for the first time ever, so you can imagine we were very excited at this prospect.

    Stay tuned for a game against Captain America himself…

    751 times read

Comments 4

  • Strahd -

    Awesome write up! Thanks!

  • Herminard -

    I will not linger my defeat - but I will plan my revenge.
    May our #battlelines soon clash.

    My most severe mistakes:
    - I wanted to apply preassure to your BSB, as I view him as a more pivotal piece than the Krakens. Still - taking the snipe instead of the wrath of the gods only meant I invoked their anger onto myself.

    - My deployment in general. Thinking that we could exchange drops was a folly - for few are the possible gains against an army with your lateral capacity and several the fallpits. Grabbing the best position to play from and measure properly where I wanted my key units would have done me a greater service. Instead I spent an eon of time trying to correct my mistakes in the latter part of the deployment phase. I remember getting wildly annoyed with myself for taking so much time and not being able to conjure better plans :)

    - I should have deployed a fraction tighter so I would have bubble control on the flank anchor. Since I could not deploy my warmachines (or so we thought) - I deployed too central to maintain proper control - and paid the price in full when they lost to the acolytes.

    - Not charging with another gnasher herd when I did my warcry in t2 was also a costly mistake.

    - I did not at all do my calculations nor make a contingency plan for the charge of the unboosted spears into the Medusa. Thats not a charge that I should take with the countercharges you had lined up.

    - I should have played the chiefs better. Esp the open western flank did not really delay you, nor open win conditions for me. Better applied elsewhere.


    ------

    Our plan in the pairing left me with a whole lot of green matches - then you and UD as more neutral.

    So it was against the flow of our pairing for me to take you on when you deployed yourself. But the temptation got to me. I am but the soul of a boy in the shell of a savage afterall.

    And I consider any points I would take from you worth their value twice - as you are blessed by the gods with the ability to have your opponents play themselves.

    As I did :)

    Then finally some questions if I may be so free;

    What cost adjustments would the Saurian Ancients need to field a Saurian based battle line - do you feel?

    Also - do you feel that it would be better for the game if my or Hallvards lists were to be killed by hard cap restrictions like... 0-4 units of Orcs or 0-4 units of HBE spears?

    Or do you feel that it would be better for the game if such restrictions were lifted - so that you could field 8 units of Swordmasters if you so wanted?

    Skàll!!

    • SmithF -

      Thanks for your reply, Hermund!
      Your assessment of the game is correct, as well as the pairing side-story. I had the same on my last round against James; I wouldn't turn down his challenge even if it meant playing an easier opponent!

      Now on to the questions:
      - Saurians… I haven't really touched them since the 7th edition book, even if I possess a sizeable army. I think the problem here is that the pricing of the Saurian Warrior units is made with the assumption that they will get to strike: low agility is their bane, making them a lot less effective than their profile would let on. Add to that that the only remedy to that forces them to abandon the parry that keeps them alive long enough...

      To me it's got more to do with Slow Infantry on large bases. For example: 15 Temple Guard cost more than 15 Dwarven Kings Guard, but they are only slightly faster and probably less survivable in close combat due to that point of DS. The elite dwarves (mind you, a much maligned unit) can concentrate force much better, too.

      I still think it's doable, but it would lack a fast and expendable unit (see Gnashers in your list). To answer your question: I'd be happy to field units of 20 saurian warriors with full command at 360 points. Anything more seems like too expensive to me. Raptor Riders are a tad on the expensive side (almost the cost of 5 Knights of Ryma!) but at least they have their niche and that s6 is pretty nice.

      Temple Guard: 365 is the cost I'd pay for a unit with Full Command too. Perhaps the solution is incorporating the Full Command into the units' price for certain units?


      Re: Hard Cap restrictions
      It would be sad if steps were taken to limit fun lists such as yours. And I doubt they will be until lists with 300 elven spears start dominating the meta.

      And yes, I don't see a point in restrictions for elite combat infantry. It's not as if they are rocking the tournament scene! Bottom line, giving people the option to play with their toys is never a bad thing. But I do enjoy variety in an army list, too.


      Once more, thank you for the game and the chats during the ETC! Looking forward to seeing you again soon, in a tournament somewhere in Europe! :)

    • Herminard -

      Acceptable. Build your list on this premise, and lets test it. When do you have time?

      Re: hard caps & variety.

      I find that the general that does not bring a variety of tools is taking the greater risk. The one adamant that his swiss army knives will do fine against swords that is the brave.