The Novi Sad ETC Chronicles: Game 5

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  • Day 3 of the ETC, and for the first time in team Belgium’s ETC history we’re sitting at three wins in four games. So, inevitably, we’d be facing another big team. This time it would be team Germany, who (spoilers!) would go on to win the entire event!

    Contrary to our day 2 opponents, we know the Germans quite well by now: we’ve been meeting them and facing them in various tournaments over the past 3 years: Luxembourg Bash, Herford, while some of them even made the trip to Belgium for one of our tournaments a couple of years back! They are good opponents and have -more often than not- gotten the best of us in team play.

    Their lists were what you’d expect from a top team, stable and tried builds overall, but they had an advantage when it came to game practice: their preparation was excellent, with several training weekends in the months leading to the ETC. And that would show…
    My adversary for this round ended up being Yannic : those of you who have been following this blog might remember him from my reports against his EoS and Peasant KoE from a couple of years back. He is one of the best german players, a good vision of the game and a very tactical approach with few -if any- risks.

    He had brought a Kingdom of Equitaine list that was causing trouble to a lot of our players: having played the game twice (once against Xavier from team Switzerland and once against Wales’ Hugh ), I knew it would be a complicated chess game!

    (And yes, this was the Lego Army that everyone has been talking about. To set things straight, this army looked way better than many others that I’ve seen over the years in the tournament circuit. A lot of work went into it, and I personally didn’t think that it influenced my immersion in the fantasy world or my enjoyment of the game!)



    Yannic wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Questing Duke on Pegasus, Genera, Shield, Lance, Virtue of Might, Divine Judgment, Fortress of Faith, Basalt Infusion, Potion of Swiftness
    Questing Paladin BSB on Warhorse, Shield, Bastard Sword, Alchemist’s Alloy
    Damsel on Unicorn, Wizard Master (Druidism), Storm Clarion

    CORE:
    15 Knights of the Realm, Full Command, Banner of the Last Charge
    6 Knights of the Realm, Musician

    SPECIAL:
    13 Knights of the Quest, Full Command, Flaming Standard
    6 Knights of the Quest
    2 x 5 Yeoman Outriders, LA, Shields
    5 Pegasus Knights, Loose Formation, Champion, Standard, Banner of Roland

    So what has been dubbed as “the Italian List”: Three big threatening units, one housing the Might/Judgment Duke on a Pegasus, supported by Druidism magic and some small units for scoring and redirection.

    Our secondary objective for this round was to be Breakthrough, and the deployment was Frontline Clash.

    Going into the game I knew it would be hard to get the scenario: my scoring units were small and footslogging, while the KoE had fast units who could be in my deployment zone by turn 2. The Pegasus duke was a big issue, since he can single handedly kill any of the models/units in my list on the charge. Even worse, the Storm Clarion can ground my two expensive characters for a crucial turn, potentially exposing them to enemy charges.

    So my approach was the following:
    1. Try to outdeploy my opponent so as to get the best matchups possible for my krakens, and protect my scoring units as much as possible.
    2. Zone the Knights and claim battlefield space as soon as possible, therefore denying Yannic the opportunity to push very aggressively early on.
    3. Try to take advantage of the “no bonus for the first turn roll if you pray” clause of the KoE to potentially force him to waste a turn of magic by making him play first.

    Once more, my opponent won the roll for picking sides and picked the one with a hill in the deployment zone. He placed 6 Questing knights there, who would be able to zone my krakens’ advance on that flank quite effectively. We alternated drops until Yannic had almost ran out of options, at which point he finally placed his Pegasus unit and declared that he wanted me to start the game. Bythat time I had practically only a couple of monsters and the scoring units left, so I benefitted by the KoE’s central deployment to gain an advantage for the scenario: The scoring units all went huddled up in the left corner, where only a unit of Realm Knights could stop their advance: with a kraken and my Prince in a position where they’d threaten said Realm unit, I felt confident about at least drawing the scenario since the only other unit that could get to the blades (notoriously bad against 2+ save knights) was the Pegasus Knights. I was hoping to keep these otherwise occupied, anyway…



    While Yannic would force me to play first, I was still hoping I’d be able to make him waste his first turn if I won the roll. For that reason, I didn’t vanguard too aggressively with my Dark Raiders, wary of giving the knights turn 1 charges.The Yeomen to the right moved up a bit, repositioning towards the center. The second unit backed up to ensure that my Prince wouldn’t be able to land behind the knights’ lines.
    We rolled the dice, and Yannic won the roll, giving me the first turn!

    TURN1 – Dread Elves

    Remember when I wrote that I would be playing a cautious chess game and try to deny the knights any maneuver space using my faster units? Well, that went out the window when I noticed the yeoman placement: these were in front of the Pegasus Knights and the Questing Knights, and 20” away from my Yema Acolytes. So I declared that charge, hoping to force them to flee directly out of the table: that would only leave one unit of chaff on the table for the knights and would entail no risks at all for me due to the distance between our two armies.
    To my surprise, the Yeomen stood their ground and my Acolytes made the roll to get in combat. So out go the plans for cautious play and in comes the push: with the overrun path of the Acolytes taking them directly into the Pegasus block, I had very good odds of pinning down the flyers for at least a turn. I knew that I wouldn’t get that opportunity twice, so my entire force surged forward.



    The two Dark Raider units positioned themselves so as to block the Realm and Yeomen to the left (no space for the yeomen to pass and redirect my krakens) and to prevent a Questing Knight charge to the right (the right unit lost 2 models to DT tests, but could still prevent the knights from completing a charge against my Krakens and Manticore).
    Then all the monsters and characters moved up to threaten the Pegasus block: If the Acolytes did their job, the Might/Judgment duke would be getting charged by them instead of charging himself.
    In magic, I had one goal: tip the scales to my favor in the yeoman fight, so that a freak dice accident wouldn’t see the yeomen hold on a low Discipline roll and ruin my plan. My adversary dispelled the Breath of Corruption, which left me enough dice to cast Crippling Fatigue on them. The ensuing fight was swift and brutal: the Acolytes wiped out the Yeomen and overran, hitting the Pegasus Knights!





    TURN1 – Kingdom of Equitaine

    My successful first turn was enough to spur the knights into action: the Questing knights charged into the right dark raiders, while the big Realms and the Yeomen combo-charged my left unit. Finally, the small realms charged into the Kraken on the hill, in an attempt to pin it down.
    In magic, buffing the Pegasus Knights was the name of the game: with a high magic roll (8 to 5) , I decided to dispel the worst of it and went for the Favor ofthe Lady, letting the Damsel cast Entwining Roots on the closest Kraken and Stone Skin on the Pegasus knights, making them R6. (my reasoning here was that rerolling 1’s would see me take more damage and also limit the wounds I did to the knights by roughly the same amount as the Stone Skin)

    Both charging lances predictably crushed the fast cavalry that were blocking them, and the Realms overran in an attempt to block my middle kraken’s next turn charge, but fell short. The small Realm lance managed to cause a single wound to the kraken, taking no wounds back. The monster held thanks to the nearby Beastmaster. Finally, the unit champion challenged out the Duke, and managed to fight him to a standstill, with both models taking a wound. The rest of the combat was uneventful: the acolytes couldn’t penetrate the R6 of the Pegasi and in return the Equitanian elite couldn’t go through the Aegis save of the acolytes. So the combat ended up being a tie, which is all that I could have asked for…



    TURN2 – Dread Elves

    The Damsel activated the Storm Clarion, grounding my big monsters. So that left “only” two krakens available for the charge into the Pegasus/Acolyte fight: both made their roll but only one could hit the corner of the unit, and I elected to send the one that hadn’t been affected by the Entwining roots. The corsairs flanked the Realm Knights fighting my Kraken and the second acolyte block charged into the small questing knight unit.
    With the Kraken engaged in the fight against the Pegasus unit, I was certain to at least hold the unit in place thanks to Steadfast for some rounds. So that gave me the time to maneuver around the big lances with the characters, ready for a turn 3 charge. One medusa stepped in front of the Questing Knights to redirect them, while the second one tried to get away from the big Realm Lance but failed her March test twice and had to settle for moving back away from the action.
    In the magic phase I tried to cast crippling Fatigue once more, but it was dispelled. I got the Breath of Corruption on the Kraken fighting the Pegasus instead.

    The combats this turn were a mixed bag: the Kraken charging the Pegasus knights did well, scoring 3 wounds, but three 5+ saves from my opponent saw its efforts nullified. It did cause a wound using the breath weapon, though. The knights killed an acolyte and managed to save all other wounds from the elves, but then the Champion saved the day by evading all of the Duke’s attacks! The fight had ended in a tie again.
    The corsairs charging into the realm knights fared better, killing a couple with their attacks. The remaining knights managed to put another 2 wounds on the Kraken, but then fled and were caught in pursuit by the corsairs. The kraken reformed to threaten the big Realms’ advance. Finally, the Questing knights and the Acolytes exchanged blows, two knights dying in return for one elf. Being steadfast, the knights passed their break test.




    TURN2 – Kingdom of Equitaine

    The big questing knight unit charged into the medusa in front of them, and the Realm Knights fell upon the second medusa that was trying to avoid them deep inside my deployment zone. In magic I stopped the Stoneskin and the Oaken throne, letting Favor of the Lady go through on the Pegasus knights.
    The Yeomen positioned themselves in a conga line next to the Pegasus unit, preventing both the Manticore and my Prince from landing into the Pegasus/kraken fight.

    In combat both of the charging units killed their respective targets, and reformed to face my forces (the questing knights were so close to the Pegasus melee that they didn’t get much choice on the matter). In the big combat, the pillowfight between the Duke and my acolyte champion continued (4++ aegis saved my bacon here!), and then the Kraken managed to kill a Knight for no wounds back again. Losing combat by 1, the Knights failed their break test twice, fleeing off the board!
    This allowed the Kraken and the Acolytes to pivot to face the Questing knights.



    TURN3 – Dread Elves

    The Prince now didn’t have any worthwhile targets, so charged the Yeomen off the board. The Krakens sprang into action: one fell into the Realm Knights’ flank and the other two combo charged into the flank of the Questing knights. The Yema acolytes and the Manticore positioned themselves to prevent post-combat reforms for both lances: if the knights wanted to reform, they’d have to be in a single rank and thus wouldn’t be steadfast against my kraken.
    Finally, the scorers proceeded to enter the enemy deployment zone, and would stay therefor the remainder of the game. Magic was pretty uneventful this turn.
    In combat the Kraken won against the Realm Knights, killing a single knight, but couldn’t break them. The Questing failed to hit their assailants and got 3 wounds in return, forcing one of my monsters to drop out of combat. Thanks to the charge and flank bonus the Kraken won, but the Questing Knights wouldn’t budge. The same happened to the Acolyte/Questing fight that had been going on for a while now: we exchanged blows, and now 1 knight remained against 2 acolytes.



    TURN3 - Kingdom of Equitaine

    With only 3 units remaining and all engaged in combat my opponent’s turn consisted in casting magic to boost the Realm unit: I dispelled the Stoneskin this time, letting the Favor of the Lady go through.
    In combat the knights fluffed and the kraken killed a knight here and there, either tying or winning combat. It didn’t matter, since the Equitaine forces passed their steadfast break tests. The acolytes finally made short work of their last questing knight, though!

    TURN4 – Endgame

    The result of this game was now a foregone conclusion: the third kraken charged into the rear of the questing knights, and the kraken duo would proceed to grind down the unit, kill the Damsel and run down the fleeing BSB over the next couple of turns. The wounded kraken held the Realm knights in position long enough for the Manticore and Pegasus Prince to maneuver and combo-charge them: this proved to be enough, as they failed their subsequent break test on turn 5 and fled, getting cut down in pursuit.

    So by the end of turn 5 the KoE army was no more, leading to a 20-0 Dread Elf victory!

    AFTERMATH:

    If there ever was a game that was decided by a single first-turn moment, then that one is it: Yannic did the slightest of errors in permitting me to declare that low-risk/high reward long charge into his Yeomen, and it all kind of snowballed from there.

    After that moment, I was always in control of the game’s flow, with the cherry on the top being the timing of the (inevitable) break from combat of his Pegasus Unit: with all of my Krakens charging the enemy lances in the flank, there wasn’t very much that my opponent could have done to alter the course of the battle.

    My joy from getting that unexpected 20-0 win was short-lived as the rest of our team found the German opposition to be too tough and well-prepared: it turns out that we had totally misjudged the pairings, especially against that high-quality opponents. We got a 56-104 loss, which was capped at 60-100. As I mentioned in the beginning, the Germans went on to fight Spain in the final round, and managed a convincing win that allowed them to win the entire tournament. Having played against them, I feel that this was a deserved result: they are exemplars of fair play as well as fine generalship and very good lads to boot.

    As for Yannic and myself, I’m sure that sometime in the near future we’ll get the chance to settle that score. It’s always a pleasure facing him, and I’m certain that he won’t make it easy for me then!

    Our team dropped down three or four rows and would be facing Team Mexico for the final round of what was quickly becoming the most exciting of all the ETCs I’ve ever attended!

    Stay tuned for a game against none other than... the ChiHammer!

    Smith

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Comments 5

  • Dancaarkiiel -

    Lmao KoE's valuable deathstar was in CC before T1 and they were dead before T3
    So ez

  • Martins9thAge -

    I see this playstyle very powerful today, first blocking the key units with riders first turn, then turn 2 with Medusas and if necessary with the warlocks turn 3, difficult to counter. Best way to dealing I see is deploy deep and try to maximice your ranged atacks as Mince do, but as I say In 3 turns you have the monsters fighting were they want. Some fly chaff can be helpfull, but if long charges success.. what solutions do you think would be the most appropriate?
    This KoE list would have been a good counter with pegasus free of chaff thanks to flying and the Storm claryon to block your fast flyers, but then you see that oportunity to break the game .. Congrats for that

    • SmithF -

      That's why I believe that having redirectors is more of a necessity when playing aggressive lists rather than when playing defensive lists (In that case, zoning works best).

      I believe that the way to counter an aggressive list is to push into it yourself, especially if you don't have the means to significantly damage the incoming units/monsters: it's high-risk, but also high reward, potentially causing it to lose momentum. Getting the first turn is often necessary for the push, as playing second means risking losing the redirectors that facilitate the blitz before you get to use them.

      That said, I haven't played a defensive army for years, so I wouldn't say I'm an expert in how to approach such a game!

  • Herminard -

    Game of chess is yer new term for slaughtering yer opponent for playing like a fool, eh?

    • SmithF -

      I did specify that the whole "chess game" approach went out the window once I spotted that mistake.
      Yannic is a very good player, I just think that (like a lot of us) he didn't have the reflex to check for charge ranges when vanguarding so close to his lines. :)