The Novi Sad ETC Chronicles: Game 6

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  • Game 6 – Orcs and Goblins (Team Mexico)

    The big loss against Germany saw us plummet to the mid-field, but our Top10 finish was still within sight! Between us and our goal we would find another team we had never faced: Mexico!

    Team Mexico is the labour of love of @Warboss Tooth, who has been putting together teams and leading them to battle as their captain for the past 3 years. Most players are from the USA (But of Mexican descent), with a few mercenaries to fill out the roster. They have been steadily improving for the past two years, and in this year’s tournament they had already had a very decent run, with wins against Australia, Norway and Argentina.

    Curiously, they were one of the teams that had posed me the most problems in terms of matchup evaluation: with an avoidance Sylvan Elf list, Second Awakening/Double Dreadmill Vermins, Triple Hydra/quadruple chariot DE, Double Cannon ogres, and Infernal Dwarves with an Onyx Core lord on Great Bull, my pairing matrix was a sad one. Funnily enough, James would let on afterwards that nobody was very keen on facing my list; I do believe that it was pure intimidation, since any of the above would give my Krakens a run for their money.

    So our pairing master used me as an opening drop in the pairings: it would give me the pick between two options, and the ones presented to me were the Ogre Khans and Orcs and Goblins. Whenever I try to think of what Ogres can do, I picture our own Ogre player @PrinceCharming guiding them: having played this game during one of our trainings, we pretty much figured it was up to who gets the first turn. The OK were bringing double cannons, which are not the most effective tool against Krakens or the Midnight Cloak prince, but they would give my opponent a chance to win the game on a single die roll, no matter what the tactics involved were.

    The second option was none other than Cap’n Mexico, Warboss Tooth with his Orcs and Goblins! We had previously gotten a training game with our lists on UB, which had ended in disaster for me: so he was willing to give it a go again, and challenged me to a rematch. So I picked up the gauntlet, and prepared to do better than the last time!

    He had brought the following:

    For this game we had the Secure target secondary objective, and the deployment was Frontline Clash. James placed his objective marker near the impassable in the middle, and I opted for the far right side of the board.
    The reason for that was to tempt the orcs to split their forces: all of the orc units have a considerable footprint, which means that keeping units within the general and BSB bubble would be a challenge for the greenskins. By having the objective markers more than 30” away from each other, I made the bet that the units trying to contest one of the two wouldn’t have good discipline support: in contrast, my scorers are Fearless or have good leadership on their own, and would be able to function independently while I focused my forces wherever needed.

    Yet again my adversary won sides and picked the one with the hill, which allowed me to drop my army for the first turn: with the hill giving a huge threat range to the movement 9 wolf chariots, I couldn’t risk losing my chaff to shooting and magic before they could do their first turn work. My deployment was fairly straightforward, keeping one unit of blades near each objective, the krakens centrally and one flying character on either side of the battleline, ready to move wherever they were needed most. The orcs countered by claiming the hill with the Savages and chariots (impact hits galore!), and then the flaw that I was hoping for: the Iron orcs off to one side, near my secure target marker, and the goblins with BSB and Pyro mage to the other, next to the Gnashers and the goblin archers. Finally, the gargantula went next to the BSB’s unit to dissuade any of my monsters from rushing the goblins.

    I then used my vanguards to move as far forward as possible with all 3 of my units, while the wolves repositioned a bit on the right flank.

    For magic I went for the usual Crippling Fatigue/Ice and Fire and Grave Calls/Breath of Corruption combination. The pyromancer got Cascading Fire, Flaming Swords, Pyroclastic Flow and Scorching Salvo as well as the Bring the Pain hereditary spell.

    TURN 1 – Dread Elves

    The first order of business was to make sure that I could push my forces forward without risking a countercharge that would make me lose momentum and precious units. So both dark raider units conga’d* right in front of the enemy lines *(in this and other examples the only real reason to conga is to avoid having to close the door to the enemy following a weird charge, which would potentially liberate the second blocked unit). The corsairs also moved forward to march block the Wolf Riders, simultaneously threatening the skewerer behind them.

    Anticipating a potential failed Frenzy test (the savages were just out of the BSB’s range), the krakens surged forward, as did the Blades and the fast support. Knowing that the goblin shaman had a Binding scroll, I kept the Yema Acolytes back instead of risking them for a turn 1 Grave Calls on the spider.
    In magic I tried the Ice and Fire on the chariots, but it was dispelled. So instead, I cast Breath of Corruption on the nearby kraken, sacrificing a dark raider,and killed 3 gnashers with it. With two remaining dice cast Deceptive Glamour on the Gnashers, but more importantly I lowered the wolve’s movement by one with the Evil Eye attribute. First blood was drawn, but I feared that the OnG ranged damage would be far superior…

    TURN 1 – Orcs and Goblins

    The gnashers charged into the rear of the left Dark Raider unit, while the Iron Orcs fell upon the right unit. The Savages passed frenzy and moved back 2”, and the chariots also got out of the hairy situation by making use of their light troops rule. The wolf riders failed their march test and settled for diverting my corsairs away from the skewerer. Finally, the Gargantula moved up behind the impassable terrain, threatening my krakens’ advance.
    We started magic with a high roll of Scorching salvo, which I had to let through: I preferred suffering a wound here and there rather than having a Pyroclastic Flow cripple a kraken with a high roll from turn 1. The spell put a wound on the yema acolytes, the leftmost medusa and kraken, plus it killed some Blades. But more importantly, it managed to kill the medusa that was closest to the enemy lines. That was bad news, as I was counting on that medusa to help minimize the damage taken by the krakens in the upcoming charges. The rest of magic was dispelled, though. Shooting was focused on the left Blades of Nabh, killing 5 of them, while my krakens managed to dodge the skewerer bolts for now.
    In combat both greenskin units wiped out their targets and pivoted to face my forces.

    TURN 2 – Dread Elves

    Losing the medusa meant that I had a new challenge: without her to combo charge the gnashers, I wouldn’t be able to get an overrun into the Savages as I was hoping, leaving them open to countercharge me. So after some thought, I charged the two krakens in the middle into the Gnashers, along with the Blades of Nabh; if all got in alignment would see me avoid most of the attacks with the krakens and fall into the units behind rather unscathed. Sadly, the Blades didn’t make it and only the krakens went in. To the right, the placement of the Wolves allowed me a combo charge into them with the Corsairs and the Acolytes: this pushed the corsairs up enough to give them an overrun into the skewerer, ridding me of the warmachine problem.

    Now that the charge had been sounded, I needed to make sure that the countercharges wouldn’t hurt that much. So I used my BSB as a redirector, to block the savages’ charge into the krakens to the left. With a 2+ save and a 5++ aegis, plus immunity to flaming attacks I was certain that I’d be able to survive for a round, hold and pin down the savages for turn 3 countercharges. A small issue that I had with this plan was that in placing my BSB I opened up his flank to an Iron Orc charge: with the Warcry available to them, it would be an 8+ on swift, which was riskier than what I was comfortable with. So my last kraken stepped in to redirect the Iron Orcs away from the action! Finally, the medusa blocked any charges that the gargantula might have had in mind.

    In magic the Binding Scroll negated my Grave Calls, and the Breath of Corruption was stopped this time: James knew that I needed to wound the spider if I was to have decent chances of killing it on the charge with a kraken or with my general. However, that left me enough dice for a Crippling Fatigue on the chariot unit: the reasoning behind that was that they could threaten the rightmost kraken; due to my placement only 2 would be able to get in combat, but that was probably still enough to kill my kraken. I hoped that the reroll to wound would dissuade them from charging (and it did!).
    In the Wolf/Corsair combat the goblins were dealt with swiftly, giving me the overrun into the skewerer. The Acolytes pursued off the table. To the right, the Gnashers and the Kraken exchanged blows: when all was said and done the Gnashers had exploded and the Kraken were now both wounded, one with one wound remaining and the second with three. Thankfully, the goblin archers were only a 7” overrun away, so the kraken would be safe from fire and magic in the following turn. Two rolls of “6” later, both Kraken were left exposed in front of the entire magic and shooting of the Greenskins! This was starting to look bad already…

    (pic taken after the Iron Orc charge that's inevitably coming)

    TURN 2 – Orcs and Goblins

    Now that my assault had fallen flat on its face, the Orcs went on a -surprisingly cautious- counterattack: The Iron Orcs charged my Kraken, but the Savages passed their frenzy again and decided to let the shooting do the heavy lifting for once and shunned my Manticore bait. To my left, the Forest Goblins activated the Relentless company banner and backed up away from the manticore and my kraken. Finally, the Gargantula moved back to face my Yema acolytes.

    We got a big magic phase, and the pyromancer kicked things off with a Scorching Salvo, killing the near-death Kraken, the remaining Medusa and putting a wound on the Acolytes. I then dispelled the Pyroclastic flow on the second kraken, letting the Flaming Swords go off on the Goblin Archers. The subsequent shooting round was equally devastating: a combination of the Forest Goblins’ shooting and the Dragon Staff killed what remained of my Acolytes, and the Goblin Archers put another 2 wounds on the Kraken in front of them, leaving it on half-dead! To make things worse, the skewerer took aim at the Manticore BSB, managed to wound it and I failed my save, suffering two wounds.

    In combat things picked up slightly for the Dread Elves: the Corsairs broke the Skewerer but suffered a wound in the process. They reformed to threaten the flank of the nearby chariots. The Iron Orcs went for Paired Weapons against my Kraken but only managed to deal two wounds to it. In return, the Kraken stomped six orcs to the ground, winning combat. The Orcs held their ground and also passed their test to reform, which allowed them to block the corsairs’ charge into the chariots and also to bring the orc general into the fight.

    TURN 3 – Dread Elves

    So it’s only the beginning of turn 3 and I’ve already lost almost 2 krakens, my BSB is half-dead, I have no more redirectors and half my magic phase is gone. It’s at moments like these that you start trying to figure out a way to pull a rabbit out of the hat: The only thing that I had going for me was that my offensive had succeeded in separating the enemy units from the leadership: the Savages were out of general and BSB range, the Goblin Archers were looking at discipline 6 with a reroll and the Iron Orcs had Bodyguard but no reroll.

    With that in mind, I figured that I would try to force as many panic and break tests as possible: My general and BSB charged into the Savages, as did the Blades of nabh: the frenzied elves failed once more (this time it was a long 15” charge), meaning that the two characters would have to face the brunt of the savage attacks. The left kraken tried to terror the Goblins off the board, but they valiantly passed their check. Finally, the Blades to the right noticed that the Iron Orc general had moved to the corner of the unit: A 4+ rerollablesave meant that I had a chance of assassinating him with good rolls and perhaps some help from magic.
    With almost all of my units engaged, the only remaining moves I had were to maneuver the corsairs so as to threaten the Iron Orcs’ flank, and to position the Acolytes in such a manner that would potentially block an Iron Orc combat reform.

    In the magic phase I started off with a failed attempt at Ice and Fire against the chariots, then I threw 5 dice at Crippling Fatigue against the Iron Orcs and manage to cast it!
    We proceeded directly to that combat, where the Blades’ attacks bounced off the enemy general, but still managed to kill 3 Iron orcs. The Warboss took a swing at the Kraken and only dealt two wounds to it, leaving it alive on a single wound! The kraken retaliated by causing two wounds to the character: James failed both of his Aegis saves, and that was enough to instantly kill the might orc! Infuriated by this turn of events, the Iron Orcs dispatched the kraken and killed four of my Blades with their attacks. Tallying up the combat resolution, the Blades had won by one! Unfortunately for me, the Iron Orcs passed their Steadfast check and also managed to reform, bringing more attacks against my semi-naked frenzied gals.

    In the Feral Orc fight, the two characters managed to kill an impressive 10 orcs between their attacks, but then the survivors went back and dealt the two unsaved wounds needed to kill my BSB, while also putting a wound on my general. Still, I had won combat: left to their own Discipline 7, the Ferals failed their break test and were ran down by the Prince. Additionally, the Chariots right behind them panicked off the board!
    In the final combat the Kraken dodged all of the goblins’ attacks and stomped a good amount of them to the ground, routing them instantly. They fled off the board, and the Kraken pursued into the Skewerer right behind.

    TURN 3 – Orcs and Goblins

    The Dread Elves had made a comeback, but the Orcs still had the ranged advantage and a very angry-looking spider ready to mop up the survivors: wary of the kraken’s impending pivot the Goblins didn’t dare approach too close, but the King on Gargantula rushed towards the surviving blades of Nabh to the left.
    In magic the only spell that I needed to dispel was the Cascading Fire (that could target the Kraken in combat), then the Pyromancer put Flaming Swords on his unit as a deterrent for a turn 4 kraken charge. Between the Blaze attribute and the goblins’ shooting my remaining Blades to the left all died.
    Combat started with the kraken dealing with the Skewerer as expected, and then we moved to the more interesting one: the Blades went first against the Iron Orcs but they fluffed quite spectacularly, only killing four of them despite the Crippling Fatigue bonus. The Orcs retaliated and slaughtered all of the Blades! The unit reformed to face the Acolytes that were waiting in their flank.

    TURN 4 – Dread Elves

    So 13 Iron Orcs were now left standing, and when reforming them James had neglected to take into account the 9 corsairs that were deep in the deployment zone (for history, he had been piling dead models and dice in that corner, so afterwards he told me he actually thought they were dead!). So the corsairs charged into the flank of the Orcs! The last kraken decided against charging the Goblin unit, as the stand and shoot would probably kill it. I placed it right in front of them instead, with the added bonus of forcing a march check on the Gargantula.

    With the Iron Orcs engaged to their flank, I now positioned the Pegasus Prince and the Acolytes within range for turn 5 combo charges against them: if I could kill them then the scenario would be a draw at worst, on top of the 600+ points that these were worth.
    In magic I 5-diced the Crippling Fatigue once more, and managed to push it through despite James’ efforts. In the only combat of the turn, the corsairs went first and killed 3 Orcs, crucially lowering the return attacks to only 4. James rolled well and did 2 wounds back, but then the corsairs’ Kraken Hide proved its worth: two 6+ armour saves later, all of the Corsairs were still alive!
    The Orcs had lost combat, but were steadfast: they once again passed their Discipline 8 check, but at least they failed to reform, ensuring that I’d get another chance at breaking them.

    TURN 4 – Orcs and Goblins

    The only thing left to do was to rush to the aid of the Orcs: the Goblins failed their March check and had to maneuver around the Kraken, but the Gargantula passed and could freely advance towards my remaining units.
    Magic and shooting saw the Goblins put the last wound to my Kraken.
    In combat the Corsairs fluffed their rolls this time and only killed a single Orc, taking two casualties back. The combat was a tie, which allowed the Iron Orcs to reform to face the elves.

    TURN 5 – Dread Elves

    The Prince and Acolytes charged into the flank and rear of the Iron Orcs! The Crippling Fatigue was dispelled this time, but it didn’t matter: between the Prince’s S8 attacks and the acolytes all Iron orcs died before they got to strike. All of the units pivoted on the spot, facing the approaching spider.

    TURN 5 – Orcs and Goblins

    The Gargantula declared a charge into the Acolytes and I briefly considered the options I had: If I held my ground then the spider might fail its charge (unlikely), but if it made it in it would -in the best case scenario- block the Corsairs from advancing towards the Secure Target marker. So I would then have to risk my general to potentially gain 600 points, which was a bad deal.
    So instead, I decided to flee with the Acolytes: the Goblin King had yet another Discipline 8 check to pass in order to redirect, and unfortunately he made it! So he charged my Dread Prince, who also had to flee. The good news was that the spider failed its charge and that the Corsairs had now an open path to the objective.

    TURN 6 – Dread Elves

    The first order of things was to rally my fleeing general: I failed the Ld10 rally and watched as almost 900 points fled off the board. The Acolytes rallied, and the Corsairs moved at full speed towards the objective. The only thing that could deny me the scenario points now was the Gargantula spider…

    TURN 6 – Orcs and Goblins

    The gargantula charged the Corsairs, in the closing steps of the game: I passed the Terror check and opted to hold, hoping that the spider would fail its 5+ swift. And it did!
    The Goblin King stumbled forward 2”, leaving the Corsairs holding the objective.
    In the magic phase the Pyromancer threw everything he had at the corsairs, caused 3 wounds and forced a panic check: I failed that crucial Discipline 8 check and fled, throwing away 3 Tournament Points in the process!

    When we tallied the score, both armies were bloodied but the Orcs came out on top: the end result was a 7-13 loss for the Dread Elves!


    What a way to end the ETC and my Dread Elf adventures! The game swung back and forth multiple times, and I couldn’t help but feel that despite pulling off every trick in the book I couldn’t get the upper hand.

    So what went wrong? I would say that the matchup is not bad per se, but Pyromancy and that giant spider really limit the way I can use my resources. I knew from the get-go that I’d need to close the distance really quickly and at any cost: when the Krakens failed to overrun to the relative safety of combat I told James that the game would go badly for me as he had the ability to kill at least one monster per turn if he focuses his fire.

    The stratagem of forcing the enemy leadership to split up using the objective was successful, but I feel that the Orcs didn’t pay for that error as much as they could have: over the course of the game I forced around 10 crucial Ld checks, but the orcs only failed 2 (granted, the Ferals fleeing and taking the chariots with them was a big deal!).
    Apart from the Iron Orc blunder, James did a great job in deployment and in target prioritization, meaning that I had no chance of threatening his seemingly fragile Goblin bunker. But the goal had been the scoring units from the start, with the hope of winning the scenario by elimination of possible contenders. Overall, it was a great game with many memorable moments, and one that pressured me to come up with solutions on the spot. Having these work is very rewarding, and I was very glad that we got such a closely fought game! As a plus, James is a great guy to play with and he is definitely one of my all-time favorite ETC opponents: it was fun to play a real game against him, after listening to his reports and facing him on UB several times!

    So how did the team do? The teams were evenly matched, with 5 games ending in draws. Our Orcs and Goblins player underestimated the Dread Elves opposite him (never underestimate the Dread Elves) and got punished for it, conceding a 1-19 loss, but our UD player picked up the slack and got a very convincing 19-1 victory against Vermin Swarm. So when all was said and done, James’ 13-7 victory meant that Belgium had lost 78-82 against Mexico!A hard-fought round, that brought an amazing ETC to a close.


    So another ETC had come and gone, and we had had the privilege of coming across four teams we’d never played before and also meeting old friends from Germany and Austria! The Team got 3 wins (2 big and a small one) and 3 losses (1 big and 2 small ones), which brought us to the 9th place overall out of 36 teams. We were very happy about this, since it is the second consecutive year that we managed to place within the top 10!

    Our opponents also did spectacularly well: the Germans deservedly won the entire event ( 2nd place went to Spain and 3rd place to Switzerland after a great performance!), while the Russians managed a 7th place despite their loss against us. The USA, Mexico and Austria got 13th, 16th and 21stin what was a very close field: we ended up 9th with only a 7 point difference from Mexico, which goes on to prove how much the gaming level has increased over the past 3 years but also underlines the importance of every single point you can get.

    As for the Dread Elves, they managed to give me my best performance to date at an ETC: after fighting against some of the best players of each team we faced, I ended up with four wins and 2 small losses for a total of 88 tournament points! All of the generals I faced performed quite admirably in the rest of their games, with three of them sneaking within the 10% of the highest scorers at this year’s event. More importantly, I got to play against six great guys and very competent generals, met a lot of friends from ETCs past and made a lot of new ones in the process!


    With such a good performance, there’s hardly anything more to state about the list itself: the mobility of the units more than makes up for the vulnerability to magic an shooting in my opinion. Overall, I felt confident about most of the possible matchups with the notable exception of Vermin Swarm (fun fact: I’ve never been able to consistently win against well-constructed vermin swarm lists in the hands of capable players), which made the life of our pairing master easier. For reference, here’s the (simplified) pairing matrix for the Dread Elves for the six rounds we played:

    (Legend: Green = most likely a win, Yellow = evenly matched, Red = higher likelihood of losing the game)

    What one can take home from this is that sometimes “oddball” choices are better than people give them credit for. For example, internet wisdom says that putting the BSB on a Manticore is a very bad idea, but in reality the addition of a flying monster opened up a lot of games that would be otherwise difficult to win. The Blades of Nabh have been often derided for being too fragile, but their fighting prowess was invaluable in the game against Hermund’s Orcs and could have been game-winning against the Chris’ Vampires. Likewise, the small corsair unit (that was initially included as a way to give the Pegasus Prince a vanguard move) proved to be a valuable combat asset in the games against KoE, Mexico’s Orcs and USA’s Vampires, on top of scoring the objective in these games.

    Bottom line: try out things for your own instead of listening to what people on the internet have to say about the unit entries. Copying a netlist can only get you so far, while testing to see what “fits” will more often than not yield better results.

    So what’s next for this blog? After a year of intensive play with the Dread Elves, it’s once again time for a change. I can hear the Hunting Call, I bet a Beast Lord is amassing his troops somewhere nearby…

    In the meanwhile, I hope that you enjoyed this series, and that it has inspired you to break out your Dread Elves for a game or two. I hear they might be getting an awesome new book sometime soon, so now’s the time to dust off these old models!


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Comments 7

  • Dancaarkiiel -

    "Bottom line: try out things for your own instead of listening to what people on the internet have to say about the unit entries. Copying a netlist can only get you so far, while testing to see what “fits” will more often than not yield better results."
    Wise words.

  • duxbuse -

    Very well written, much enjoyed

  • Warboss Tooth -

    Thanks for posting the battle report!

  • Warboss Tooth -

    it's so cool to see pictures from the other person's perspective!

  • skrak -

    Thanks smith for your effort reporting your games with deep insight and great knowledge of the game. It is always a pleasure to read and learn.

    Looking forward for more beast content!

  • Endymion -

    Reading your reports is possibly my favourite thing in T9A :) Thanks so much for the time and effort you spend to write them. Congrats on the result!

  • arnadil -

    Thanks so much for these great reports! I look forward very much to you playing Beastherds for I play them too and can certainly learn a lot from you.