Luxembourg Bash Masters IV: A Beast Tale - Game 4

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  • The ones paying attention will have noticed that there is no report for game 3. The reason for that is that in the third round I got paired against one of my Team Belgium teammates using Dwarven Holds, with a list that I had helped him write. He promptly offered me a small win (12-8) in exchange for a open training game: the result of the game was closer to 16-4 for the Beasts, but it was a nice experience for both of us, the perfect way to end a long and tiring day.

    The team did well in their games, so on round 4 we would play on Table 2 again. Our adversaries were the Swiss Roots, a collaboration between some of the most capable players of ETC team Switzerland (Bronze Medallist this year) and two of the best German players, including Australian ETC team member and WTC orga Frederick.

    Our pairing matrix was looking particularly sad against such opposition: I wanted to avoid playing against the Scourge list Frederick had lined up, so gladly accepted the alternative of playing the team’s captain @Xavier , using the following Vermin Swarm list:

    Xavier wrote:

    850 - Vermin Deamon, General
    770 - Magister, Wizardmaster, Doom Bell, Witchcraft, Light Armour, Binding Scroll
    543 - 33 Vermin Guards, MCS, Lightning Rod
    150 - 2x20 Giant Rats
    220 – 25 Rat at Arms, Musician
    120 - 10 Footpads
    525 - 7 Vermin Hulks, Champion
    340 - 2x1 Dreadmill
    235 - 6 Jezails
    115 - 3 Jezails
    140 - 1 Rotary Gun
    Choosing to face Vermin Swarm is the definition of being between a rock and a hard place, I’ve found that they are very difficult to deal with, and generally have a negative record against them. The only saving grace was that the scenario this round would be Breakthrough.

    Looking at my opponent’s list I was surprised to see Witchcraft instead of Thaumaturgy, and I welcomed the lack of a BSB: even with the Vermin Daemon’s Discipline 9 and the Divination attribute, I could hope to force some panic or march tests to help my cause.

    My opponent won the roll of sides, and made sure that terrain wouldn’t help my Druidism ranges by giving me the side with the Water feature and the hill. Our deployment type was Encircle, and Xavier gave me the big flanks. He got the option to drop all for the first turn after I’d placed my Feral Hounds, and he took it: The VS ended up with a denied flank deployment, with a piece of impassable terrain somewhat protecting their flank, the Vermin Hulks and Vermin Daemon guarding the center and then the two big rat units offset to my right.

    I put almost all of my hard hitters, including my Wildhorns, as close as possible to the bulk of the Vermin troops, keeping my chariots in the center, and only the GW Centaurs with the BSB in the weak flank: these used their Vanguard to push up around the impassable terrain, while the scouting Gargoyles reinforced that side.

    The game plan was simple: use my wildhorns as a battering ram, protecting their flanks with the chariots. I’d have to use the GW centaur unit to occupy the VD and Hulks, so that they wouldn’t come crushing into my general’s unit. By putting the pressure on the Vermin early on, I’d also be able to claim the secondary objective uncontested. For magic I got Healing Waters, Entwining Roots, Summer Growth and Stoneskin. The Magister took Deceptive Glamour, Wheel Turns, Will O’ the Wisp and Raven’s Wing, while the Vermin Daemon got Know thy Enemy, Scrying, Stars Align, Unerring Strike and the Hereditary:an impressive array of spells for every occasion!

    TURN 1 – Vermin Swarm

    As predicted, the Vermin Hulks, Vermin Daemon and Giant Rats to my left turned around to prevent my Centaurs from completing their flanking maneuver. The rest of the units advanced a bit, the Dreadmills staying back to deal with my ambushers.

    The magic phase started with a failed attempt at Unerring Strike against my Centaurs with GW (first and only time during the tournament that the Aether Icons did something!), which put a damper on the magic phase: I dispelled Awaken the Swarm on them, letting through Will o’ the Wisp on my rightmost Lance Centaurs.

    Shooting was largely ineffective due to the Dark Rain.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    With the left flank effectively shut off due to the positioning of the Vermin Hulks and Daemon, I maneuvered the BSB and retinue around the impassable and back towards the center of the board. The accompanying Gargoyles pushed up the flank, ready to charge the Jezzails if the VG didn’t use their Lightning Rod (spoiler: they did). The Wildhorns pushed forward, claiming the hill, with both minotaur units in proximity.

    For the first time in the tournament I also opted to use my Hunting Call: both ambushing units appeared, each threatening a Jezzail unit: I figured that this way I’d be buying some time for the main forces and forcing the Vermin to turn around and deal with them.

    My Lance Centaurs stumbled 10” forward towards the Vermin Guard, opening their flank to the Giant Rats.

    In magic I got Stone Skin off on the right centaurs, hoping to protect them against the incoming vermin, the rest of my magic getting dispelled.

    TURN 2 – Vermin Swarm

    I was expecting a big part of the VS army to try and use the Centaurs as a trampoline to get the jump on me, but after a bit of thought my opponent only sent his rightmost Giant Rats into the centaur flank.

    The Vermin Daemon and Vermin Hulks pivoted to look towards the center of the board, and both Dreadmills moved backwards to threaten my ambushing longhorns, as did the Rotary Gun. Finally, the Bell unit turned around to face my rightmost Longhorn unit.

    In the magic phase I let through Stars Align on the Rotary Gun, and Awaken the Swarm on my rightmost Longhorns, which only killed a couple of them. I then stopped any other attempt at a close combat augment/hex. The Bell was sounded, but rolled a “1” and killed 5 rats.

    The shooting was pretty brutal: both Dreadmills took aim at the closest longhorns and killed 3 of them, while the Rotary gun killed another 5, leaving just 2 alive. The Footpads’ slings dealt a wound on the right minotaurs, and the jezzails took a wound off my chariot unit.

    In close combat, the Rats’ attacks bounced off my R6 centaurs, but they only killed a single rat in return: having lost the combat by 5 or so, I fled and escaped pursuit. The Rats had a 10+ overrun into my dogs'flank, but failed to make it in.

    TURN 2 – Beast Herds

    So I had a rare opportunity: the previous magic phase had left the vermin units relatively unprotected, and only a single Guiding Light token was in play. So both of my longhorns charged into their respective Jezzail units, my chariot unit braved the Obstacle in front of them and fell upon the Giant Rats, and my right minotaurs tried a long charge against the footpads but failed to get in. Last but not least, the Wildhorns declared a 10+ charge (rerollable) into the Vermin Guard, and made it in.

    So after a successful charge phase, I had to make sure that the Vermin Daemon and the Vermin Hulks wouldn’t be able to flank my Wildhorns while they dealt with the VG: the feral hounds stepped in front of the Daemon, but then my Gargoyles failed their march check and couldn’t redirect the Vermin Hulks with their 5” ground movement. So I had to use my GW centaurs to redirect instead: with help from Druidism, I’d be able to protect them and -why not? – even win combat there. My fleeing centaurs rallied and prepared for turn 3 charges.

    The magic phase didn’t go as planned: I started with a 3-dice advantage but still failed to cast any spells: the Oaken throne failed to cast, as did the Healing Waters. Which left my opponent with enough dice to dispel the Stone Skin and the Blooded Horn on my centaurs. It would have to be a fair fight, something I wasn’t exactly looking forward to.

    The charging chariots soundly beat the Giant Rats and sent the survivors fleeing: they fled through the entire VS army, ended next to the table edge and failed to rally on the following turn, running off. The left Longhorns routed the big jezzail unit but the lone surviving beastman failed to catch the fleeing rats. The right Longhorns also forced their target to flee, also failed to catch them but pursued into the Bell unit, pinning it down for a turn. Finally, the Wildhorns suffered 5 wounds from the Vermin Guard, and only managed to kill 4 of the rats despite my Beastlord’s efforts. That meant that the combat was tied, and we were stuck in place.

    TURN 3 – Vermin Swarm

    The Vermin hulks fell upon the Centaurs, and the top dreadmill tried to hit the lone Longhorn but failed to connect. The remaining giant rat unit charged into my Gargoyles. They tried to flee (hoping to outrun them and keep the enemy looking the wrong way), but rolled too low and were caught by their assailants. Finally, the Vermin Daemon shunned the Feral Hound bait and backed up a little bit, opening up the way for the second Dreadmill to shoot my chariots. Both fleeing Jezzail units rallied.

    In the magic phase the Bell tried to ring again, and another “1” was rolled, much to my opponent’s dismay. The magic efforts had then to be spent boosting the Vermin Hulks: I let a boosted Deceptive Glamour go through, dispelling the Stars Align on them.

    Shooting put a wound on my chariots but thankfully the Dreadmill’s Lightning couldn’t wound my beastlord on chariot. The Rotary gun killed a minotaur from the furthest unit.

    Combat went well for the rats: the Vermin Hulks struck first against the Centaurs and killed no less than 11 of them, leaving the Champion and my BSB to retaliate. These dealt a couple of wounds back and promptly broke from combat, fleeing through my two units of Lance centaurs and to safety. The Vermin Hulks opted to pivot a bit, as pursuing would have put them too close to all of my heavy hitters.

    My Longhorns fighting the Bell took a couple of casualties from the Vermin Hulk, but gave as good as they got, killing 5 rats. This led to a tied combat, which is more than I could ask for! The Vermin Guard killed 3 more Wildhorns, but in return I killed 7 of them: this proved to be too much for the rats, who failed their Break test and ran. I tried to restrain pursuit* (the Wildhorns had a clear flank charge into the vermin daemon next), but failed my test and had to pursue: this took me into the Volley Gun sitting right behind, with the Bell unit a short overrun away!

    *again, rustiness: not pursuing was the wrong choice since the series of overruns would be giving me a lot more points and leaving the daemon out of position. Better be lucky than good, I guess!

    TURN 3 – Beast Herds

    Things were going well, but I still had the Vermin Hulks to worry about. So the Feral hounds charged into the closest Dreadmill, opening up the path for a combo charge into the Rat Ogres: both the chariots and the closest centaurs made it in. One minotaur unit spotted the flank of the bell unit, but failed its charge, while the other charged the Footpads right in front of them. Finally, the mongrels also failed their charg against the two remaining jezzails.

    In a stroke of luck, my fleeing BSB managed a Discipline 4 rally check and stopped running!

    Magic kind of counter-balanced my excellent charge and rally phase, and I once again failed to cast any spells, due in part to drawing card no2.

    In combat the charging feral hounds stood their ground against the Dreadmill, thanks to the general’s leadership, and even reformed a bit. The chariots next to them crushed into the Vermin Hulks and did decently with their impact hits: when all was said and done, only 2 Vermin Hulks remained; they turned tail and ran, escaping pursuit. My chariots fell into the engaged Dreadmill’s flank while the centaurs stumbled a bit forward, opening their flank up to the Giant Rats.

    The general’s retinue swiftly killed the Rotary gun and managed its overrun into the Bell unit’s rear. In that combat, the Beastlord performed perfectly and the weight of ranks, rear charge and the amount of wounds was enough to force the Rats at Arms to automatically flee: both of my units pushed them off the table, with the Longhorns falling into the Jezzails and the Wildhorns getting stuck right behind them. Finally, the Minotaurs forced the Footpads to flee and caught them in pursuit.

    TURN 4 – Vermin Swarm

    With a swift blow the Vermin army was put in a tough spot, but the counterattack was ready: the top dreadmill fell upon the victorious Wildhorns’ flank, the Vermin Daemon piled into the flank of the Feral Hounds, while the Giant Rats charged the Centaurs, with a clear overrun path into my chariots fighting in that big fight. The fleeing Vermin Hulks rallied at the edge of the board.

    Magic was a bit more limited now, and I was wary of any bubble spells that would affect all combats for this turn and the next. So when my adversary cast Know thy Enemy on the giant rats I let it through. And when he cast Scrying on them, I let it through too. So when he finally attempted to cast the Stars Align (again on the rats), I rolled all my dice to stop it, but failed. And that’s how you get Giant Rats that fight like Elves!

    The two unengaged Jezzails finished off my last GW centaur and wounded my BSB once with a perfect salvo.

    Combat was again a bloody affair: the Longhorns beat the Jezzails once again, and made them flee off the board. The Dreadmill rolled well against the Wildhorns and killed 3 of them: I did no wounds in return, meaning I had to take a steadfast Break Test that I fortunately passed. Things were made even better thanks to a successful combat reform test that brought my Beastlord in contact with the Vermin contraption.

    The boosted giant rats easily beat the Centaurs and ran them down, falling into the rear of my chariot unit. So then the big fight ensued: I started with the Impact Hits, that managed to kill the Dreadmill outright. The Vermin Daemon killed 5 dogs in total, leaving one alive, and the giant rats killed a chariot but took two casualties back themselves. When all was said and done, the Vermin had won by 3. Both of my units fled: the Chariots escaped pursuit, while the Vermin Daemon ignored the fleeing hound and opted to reform instead.

    TURN 4 – Beast Herds

    After last turn’s events the only thing left to do for me was to rally and reposition my troops: the fleeing chariots rallied, and the minotaurs moved up in positions from where they’d be able to help out the Wildhorns in the coming turns. Finally, the BSB joined the remaining 5 centaurs and they moved up a bit, getting in BSB range of the chariots.

    In magic I was finally able to cast a spell: Stoneskin went up on the Chariot/Beastlord unit, which should help in the event of a combo charge.

    In combat my Beastlord managed to kill the Dreadmill outright (it had suffered a wound from the Wildhorns previously) and the unit pivoted to face the Vermin Daemon.

    TURN 5 -Vermin Swarm

    The Vermin Daemon charged into my Wildhorns, leaving the Giant Rats to redirect the chariots on the following turn. The two jezzails fell upon my Mongrels, and the Vermin Hulks just stayed out of harm’s way (by now we knew we’d just complete the fifth turn).

    In magic I let through Scrying and stopped the Stars Align on the Vermin Daemon. I subsequently fed him the unit champion in a Duel, and passed my steadfast Break check! The jezzails broke the mongrel raiders and ran them down.

    TURN 5 – Beast Herds

    With only one combat that mattered still to go, I piled everything into the Vermin daemon: both Minotaur units charged his flank, and my Centaurs with BSB his rear. Unfortunately, only a single minotaur unit made it in, after a couple of disappointing charge rolls. The remaining chariots crushed into the giant rats and made them flee, running them down .

    In the magic phase I managed to cast 4++ Healing Waters on my unit of Wildhorns, but the Stoneskin was dispelled. In the ensuing fight the VD dealt four wounds on my minotaurs, crucially leaving two of them alive to strike. Despite needing 6’s to hit, the battle focus kicked in and gave me 3 wounds. The Vermin Daemon made two of his aegis saves. Then it was time for my General to strike, and he managed another two wounds that fortunately went through thanks to being divine. The VD rolled quite well for the stomp and I fluffed the Fortitude rolls, meaning that I had only won the combat by 1: the VD failed his test and took another wound, but he was still above 25% for VP purposes.

    And with that the game came to a close: The wildhorns and minotaurs scored the Breakthrough objective, giving me an 18-2 win against the Vermin!


    That was a game with a lot of ups and downs, and lots of successful crucial rolls for the beasts: even when the VS was on the back foot, Xavier tried to come back by forcing improbable (but far from impossible to fail) break checks on my 1400-point Wildhorn unit. This time I was lucky enough to succeed them, which – paired with a very impressive performance by that block – was enough to give me the win.

    Break tests aside, the heroes of the game were the centaurs: their first turn mobility forced my opponent to keep his heavy-hitters away from the Wildhorns, and they even stepped up and performed redirector duty so that I could break the Vermin Guard and the Bell unit.

    The only disappointing part of the army was magic this game: since I had no terrain pieces to help me with spell ranges, I was forced to play the Soothsayer inside the wildhorn block, meaning that he had pushed forward and past the Dark Forest by turn 2. Then the combination of the Binding Scroll and a couple of poor dice rolls in crucial magic phases meant that the first meaningful spell cast was on turn 4, after my Wildhorns and Centaurs had been through crucial combats without a single spell to support them.

    The Minotaurs didn’t do much, but that was in part because of deployment; they were too vulnerable to the Dreadmill fire, so I chose to keep them as late game combat support and scorers. The chariots, on the other hand, performed admirably, breaking the Vermin Hulks and killing a Dreadmill.

    Overall, the plan of putting pressure from all sides and punching through the big blocks using my Wildhorns’ ranks to negate steadfast worked quite well, and enabled me to secure the objective early on: with all of the action happening in the Vermins’ side of the board, it would be impossible for their scorers to perform the Breakthrough.

    The rest of the team’s games didn’t go as smoothly, however: We took losses in all of the other games, resulting in a big loss that saw us go a bit down in ranking. Our opponents would fight the Spanish New Team for the finals, and their loss in that round does not in any way diminish their quality. Winning the event was now out of the question for us, but there was still hope for a decent placing depending on our last round…

    576 times read

Comments 6

  • john doc -

    Hey Smith.
    Do you find druidism satisfying compared to shamanism? The latter seems an excellent choice for the BH. Not only is it one of the few paths that can stand on its own on a wizard master, but it also offers ranged damage protection that perhaps outshines the healing and resilience of druidism. To top it off, totemic summon enhances the already dangerous ambush tactics and, last, the attribute allows your soothsayer to survive precarious combat phases (even dish out damage with wild form, and/or other kit).


    • SmithF -

      I can do a longer writeup at some point, but overall I think that Druidism helps cover a big weakness in the army, by mitigating a bit the fact that the Beasts strike last. You need to build your army around that, and you somewhat accept that from time to time your magic won't do much.
      Another point of interest is how the Attribute helps keep your damage-dealing characters in the fight, thus increasing your damage output overall.

      Shamanism is one of my favorite paths, but I feel that in order to make the most of it with Beasts you need to invest in a Greater Totem Bearer and units that become super-deadly when Awaken the Beast or Savage Fury is cast on them. For example, Centaurs with Paired Weapons, Minotaurs with Shields or PW, Wildhorn blocks or Mongrel Herds with Spears. In my case, I've invested heavily in units that come with S6-S7 base, so the extra Strength or AP wouldn't help that much.

      Break the spirit is a great spell, especially with a couple of Gnarled Hide totems for redundancy. The fact that it is a Hex makes it even better, allowing an MSU approach vs big blocks.
      But ultimately, I believe that the Shamanism spells - in my army- would reinforce parts that are already strong: anti-shooting --> Dark Rain and use of terrain blocks the worst of it. Backline threats --> Ambush with Hunting Call takes care of it. Anti-artillery (Swarm of Insects) --> gargoyles, vanguarding centaurs, ambushing Longhorns can all silence warmachines.

      I don't doubt that you can make Shamanism work for the beasts, especially with a Soothsayer build designed to block enemy duellists thanks to Scarification and Ancestral Carvings. But I'd build the army differently at that point.

  • Kalerith -

    I find it a bit strange that they paired the rats into you. Normally rats vs BH are a decent match for the rats, however with no monsters, and only one character on chariot worth notable points combined with defensive spell selection I don't believe that it is a good match for the rats. Also your "wave push" with centaurs and chariots guarding the areas that could hurt your wildhorns was very nice, as it means the deamon couldn't enter the space between units and threaten any charges before it was too late.

    Good game Pascal, Xavier is no freshman in wargaming either, so well done indeed.
    As a man who played the beasts myselves for a good while I would like too see your estimations (if possible) against the opponents rosters to see if they were as bad as mine were half the time. As I find with most armies that push, you mainly win if one or more of 2 conditions are met.
    1. You get lucky in some capacity. (Long charges, spiking combat rolls, you know the drill).
    2. Your opponent makes a mistake.
    Depending on the situation usually that means a sizeable win for the beast herds.
    The amount of times I have won 20-0 because my opponent allowed me a 10+ charge on swift is simply bonkers.

    • SmithF -

      Thanks for your thoughts, Karl-Erik!

      Re: Pairing
      I think that they probably sacrificed the rats in a "medium" match so as to get four other semi- positive games. (The other games were [Belgian SE vs Swiss WDG], [Belgian KoE vs Swiss SE], [Belgian VC vs Swiss DL] and [Belgian UD vs Swiss OnG]. Player quality aside, these were by our estimations relatively "neutral" matchups on paper, with the only genuinely bad one being the Vamp vs DL game.

      Concerning my estimations, I can definitely post my matrix for each team after my last game report (probably later this week). Overall I agree with you: the estimations are a lot more pessimistic than -say- the ones I had with my Dread Elves last year. This is because the army has a distinct weakness in agility. So you start at a disadvantage (almost always striking last in combat) and then try to make it better in-game. I've also put myself at a disadvantage by not playing single models: last year's kraken list felt like playing Warmachine or Malifaux at times, so I wanted to go back to units instead.

      The balancing factor is the capability of the beasts to exploit enemy mistakes in deployment and/or maneuvering. With every unit bringing considerable hitting power on its own, a good amount of swiftstride units and high movement rates you can pull off multi charges with cascading effects with relative ease.

      Druidism is another force multiplier, but one that you cannot depend on: sometimes dice don't want you to cast spells, others there's a Binding Scroll too many that will cripple your magic phase. But when it works, it turns a neutral game into a big win.

  • Martins9thAge -

    You´re going to have to remove that rats are a difficult pairing for you, given your last results with Dread Elves and Beast lol..

    • SmithF -

      Jokes aside, I think that the unpredictability of the army (as well as the fact that they are the absolute Kryptonite of elves), is what makes them so difficult to rate.