Social Distancing 2020 – Game 5

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  • After 3 consecutive team losses, we still wouldn’t get to face a “weak” team, but we had the pleasure of facing team “Little Giants”.Justin @Kaedo and his mates are experienced T9A generals and tournament generals in the mid-Atlantic region (I think?) of the USA. They had lined up a triple-kraken DE army, MSU shooty DH,Wildheart OK and, finally, a skinkstar Saurian Ancients army.


    “How would one define a skinkstar?”, I hear you ask: take your basic skink unit. Give it Hatred. Give it Poison. Then add 4 heroes with assorted equipment and you’ve got a skinkstar. If your next question was “And what does a skinkstar do?” then you’re reading the right blogpost.


    My round 5 opponent would be Justin, of team USA fame,and his highly unusual SA army.





    So the aforementioned skink star was accompanied by a second hard-hitting block, plus all kinds of support units and monsters. This time the deployment would be Frontline Clash and the secondary objective Spoils of War.


    I took some time before the game to read up on the SA rules (I don’t get to fight them often), and to find out exactly what a Skink Captain can do. It turns out that if he’s equipped right, he can be downright scary! After some thinking I came to the conclusion that I could probably take on the SkinkStar in two waves, but there was practically nothing in my army that would appreciate going toe-to-toe with the Saurian Warrior unit. So plan was to scare these sufficiently so that they do not barrel down my lines, while trying to get the satellite units and claim the objective.


    For magic, I picked the Echoes of the Dark Forest, Spectral Blades and Whispers of the Veil. The Skink Priest took Spark of Creation, Healing Waters, Stoneskin and Summer Regrowth, and the Stygiosaur opted for Awaken the Beast and Swarm of Insects. I won the roll for sides, and opted for the side with the hill, appropriately leaving the skinks with the Water feature on their side.


    Justin then dropped his army for the first turn, and went for all 3 tokens using his cavalry units in the flanks, the Saurian Warriors in the middle and theSkink Star, Taurosaur and Stygiosaur ready to support either side.



    This left me free to counter the deployment: I kept my chariots and a Jabberwock on the hill, projecting a decent threat range and giving the Saurian scorers something to think about before the stepped on the objectives on turn 1. After a bit of consideration, I elected to play the Wildhorns and Razortusks to the far right, where they’d get to bully the Stygiosaur and the cavalry in the early game, then hopefully combine charges into the skink star. The left flank would be handled by my second Jabberwock along with the unit of Mongrels. Finally, the Longhorns went across the Saurian Warriors and the Taurosaur; their intention was to look menacing enough so as to dissuade an aggressive move. In reality, they’d have to flee a Saurian Warrior charge if it came to that.


    My Gargoyles scouted right inside the ruins, fully taking advantage of the Taurosaur’s sideways deployment so as to stay safe on turn 1.



    TURN 1 – Saurian Ancients


    The saurian army moved up rather cautiously, close enough to the objective tokes to dissuade me from making the move to grab them, but still long enough so as to not give my units on the hill any good charges.

    In the magic phase the Swarm of Insects went through on the Feral Hounds, killing 3 of them. The Beastlord kept the dogs from panicking, and then I managed to dispel the Spark of Creation against the Raiding Chariots.

    The salamander tried to fry my two remaining hounds, but rolled a “1” and took a wound instead. Two javelins from the skink heroes also missed their mark, leaving the redirectors alive -a very rare occurrence!





    TURN 1 – Beast Herds


    The turn 1 movement of the saurian had effectively shut down most of my routes for pushing ; the salamander was awaiting for my general’s block to come closer to burn Wildhorns to a crisp, the Saurian Warriors and taurosaur were both staring down the middle of the board and also covering the other two objectives. I couldn’t make a push for all 3 objectives right away, but the fact that the Hounds survived gave me some options on the right side.


    The Jabberwock on the hill was 18” away from the Salamander, and took that 9+ rerollable charge: not willing to give my flyer an overrun into the skink unit’s flank, the salamander fled. The jabberwock then redirected into the right Raptor Riders, and made the 11+ roll to connect!

    With the salamander fleeing and the cavalry locked in place at least for a turn, I could now advance aggressively with my Wildhorns. The rest of the army crept forward to claim some table space, the chariots still staying on the hill for the charge bonuses. In order to prevent any turn 2 surprises, the Feral Hounds stepped right in front of the Skink Star, and the Gargoyles spotted a cosy place to land right between the two big blocks.


    With most of my magic out of position, I started with an attempt to put Echoes of the Dark forest on the Jabberwock in combat: this got dispelled, leaving me just enough dice to give the Longhorns the Blackwing Totem.
    Between its attacks and the Breath Weapon, the Jabberwock managed to kill 3 Raptor knights for no wounds back. The knights broke and outran the Jabber, but the nearby Stygiosaur failed its panic check (thanks to the Aura of Madness!) and ran off the board!





    TURN 2 – Saurian Ancients


    The Skinkstar didn’t fall for the bait, and opted to pivot slightly and move back away from the bulk of my forces. Both the Salamander and the Raptor Riders rallied. With an advance of 9, the Longhorns projected a huge threat bubble, so both the Taurosaur and the Saurian Warriors lkep their distance from them. Finally, on the left flank Raptors and Spearbacks tempted the Jabberwock to move up within their charging/firing zone.

    Magic started with the Spark of Creation killing the two remaining Hounds, then I dispelled the Summer Growth on the Raptor Riders and Justin was kind enough to fail the casting attempt for Stoneskin on them, leaving them without magic support against the Jabberwock!




    TURN 2 – Beast Herds


    The Jabber charged into the two remaining Raptor Riders, while the Gargoyles forced the Salamander to flee once more, but failed to redirect.Unit of ambushing Longhorns appeared right behind the Skink star, and the units to the right moved in position to threaten it from multiple sides on the following turn.


    To do so, I had to use my Razortusk herd as chaff, tempting the skinks to charge them: they would, surely lose combat and flee, but I’d get a shot at killing the Skink Captains inside, and the Skinks would find themselves in a bad position. In the middle my units kept on trying to look threatening, and the Soothsayer left the mongrels and joined the Longhorns to be closer to where the action was going to be.

    Magic was pretty tame this turn, once more my spells were too far away from where the action was happening: so I had to settle for an attempt at Echoes of the Dark Forest on the Jabberwock once more (stopped), then Spectral Blades on the Razortusk herd. In the only combat of the round, the Jabberwock killed a single Raptor Rider and took a wound back, for a tied combat.





    TURN 3 – Saurian Ancients


    Yet again the Skinks refused my bait, moving a bit backwards. The taurosaur changed direction and moved behind the saurian lines , protecting the skink rear. On the left flank the Jabberwock was within the effective range of the spearbacks, so they moved up to be able to shoot it, despite the cover penalty. The fleeing salamander rallied, and the Saurian Warriors angled themselves a bit to keep all threats to their front.

    Magic started with a failed Oaken Throne, I then stopped Summer Regrowth and had to let the Healing Waters go onto the skinkstar. In the shooting phase the Skink Captain use his Egg of the Quetzal to try and force a panic check on the Gargoyles. Unfortunately for the SA, the strength of the weapon was only 3, and the gargoyles survived unscathed!

    The spearbacks shot at the leftmost Jabberwock and put a wound onto it.

    This time the Jabberwock managed to wipe out the last remaining Raptor Rider, and panicked the Salamander off the board in the process.




    TURN 3 – Beast Herds


    The charge was sounded: the gargoyles, razortusks, ambushing Longhorns, Jabberwock and the general’s retinue all charged into the skink star: only the general’s unit failed. The big longhorn block swift reformed and moved out to the Warriorsarc of sight, and the chariots kept on the zoning.

    On the left flank the Jabberwock flew right in front of the Spearbacks, and the mongrels advanced a bit to threaten the Raptor Riders should they decide to pick the objective.

    Finally, the Soothsayer moved into the ruins on his own, so as to be within range for spells. (he took a wound in the process)

    In magic I got a big magic phase, but a series of failed casting rolls mean that I was unable to boost the charging units. I had to settle with the Blooded Horn totem on my big longhorns, making a flank charge from the Raptor Riders a bad idea. The Jabberwock unleashed its breath weapon but failed to cause a panic check on the Spearbacks.


    In combat, the skinks went first; they easily passed their fear check, and killed 3 Razortusks from the get-go, and put 2 wounds each on the gargoyles, longhorns and Jabberwock. In return, my gargoyles killed the Egg of Quetzal skink, the longhorns only put a single wound on the Skink priest, and then I had to direct almost all of my attacks on the unit to try and stay in combat. Between all of the attacks, a total of 15 skinks died, helping win that combat. The skinks, helped by the nearby general, managed to hold their ground; with the Taurosaur looming nearby, the longhorns were now in for a world of hurt.





    TURN 4 – Saurian Ancients


    The Taurosaur charged into the flank of the Longhorns, and the Saurian Warriors pivoted to put my Longhorns into the front once again. The Raptor Riders moved back, putting the Jabberwock in their front, and the spearbacks moved past the monster’s arc of sight and prepared to open fire.

    In the magic phase I stopped the Healing waters on the Skinks this time, and had to let the Stoneskin off on the Saurian Warriors, preventing my chariots from trying the combo charge on the saurian.

    Shooting put two more wounds on the Jabber, leaving it at 2 wounds remaining.


    In combat the Taurosaur crushed my Longhorns, but not before they could put two wounds on the skink priest. The skinks then attacked my Razortusks, dealing 8 wounds and leaving my last Razortusk alive on a single wound. It retaliated, killing the Captain with the Hero’s Heart, and then the combination of the Jabberwock and the gargoyles killed another 11, resulting in a closer combat result than what I had expected initially: I only lost combat by 3 despite taking 16 wounds! The gargoyles and Jabberwock both made their break tests, but the Razortusk decided it had had enough and ran for the hills.





    TURN 4 – Beast Herds


    The Beastlord’s unit and the Razortusk chariot both charged into the Skink Star, seemingly oblivious to the Taurosaur lurking right behind. The fleeing razortusk managed to rally, amazingly, and the rest of the army maneuvered into better positions: the second unit of ambushing longhorns finally decided to arrive, and moved in a position that would pin the Raptor Riders down, along with the Jabberwock and the Mongrels. In the middle, my Soothsayer jumped in front of the Saurian Warrior block , allowing the Longhorns and Chariots to set up a trap in case the Saurians decided to charge.


    In the magic phase I cast the Echoes of the Dark Forest on my Wildhorns, preparing them for next turn’s overrun into the Taurosaur right behind. The Spectral Blades were dispelled, leaving me with enough dice to put yet again the Blooded Horn totem on the big longhorns, thus protecting their flank against the raptor riders once more.


    When they moved into combat, my wildhorns had had to clear the water feature; my champion had died in that move, which meant that my general got challenged out by the skink unit champ. To my surprise, the skink managed to deal 2 poisoned hits, and I proceeded to fail both of my saves. So suddenly my GW-totting general was not looking forward to picking a fight with the Taurosaur! The attacks back wiped out the skinks and only left the BSB alive: he managed to outrun both the Gargoyles and the Jabberwock, but at least that put my Gargoyles into the Taurosaur, preventing it from countercharging my Wildhorns.





    TURN 5 – Saurian Ancients


    Yet again, the Saurian Warriors declined my bait, and reformed to threaten my wildhorns instead. The skink BSB rallied. The Raptor Cavalry moved up to pick up the scenario token on the left, and the spearbacks redirected my ambushing longhorns while taking aim at the jabberwock.

    In the shooting phase the Spearbacks dealt 3 wounds to the Jabberwock, but luck smiled upon me and I managed to save two of them! The Jabberwock was still alive!

    In combat the Taurosaur predictably killed the two Gargoyles, forcing a panic check on my Razortusk Chariot. The chariot failed and ran, preventing a countercharge on the following turn.




    TURN 5 – Beast Herds


    With the left Jabberwock still alive, I was able to force a Terror check on the chaffing Spearbacks, forcing them to flee, catching them in pursuit. That opened up the Longhorns for a combo-charge into the Raptor Riders, along with the Mongrels. In the middle of the board, the big block of Longhorns spotted the flank of the saurian warriors 16” away and attempted that 11+ swiftstride charge, but failed. Finally, the rightmost Jabberwock charged the skink BSB and made him flee off the board.

    The fleeing chariot rallied, and the remaining Razortusk marched right in front of the Taurosaur so as to redirect it for the closing steps of the game. My soothsayer did the same for the Saurian Warriors. In the magic phase I only managed to cast Echoes of the Dark Forest on my Razortusk, ensuring that it wouldn’t fail its Terror Check at the absolute worst moment.


    In combat the mongrels and Longhorns killed three Raptor Riders for 3 casualties back, and the remaining 2 models were caught in pursuit by the Mongrels. The Longhorns consolidated their position on top of the objective marker, solidifying the secondary objective win for the Beasts.





    TURN 6


    On the final turn of the game the Saurian Warriors killed the soothsayer and the Taurosaur killed the Razortusk. With no good charges remaining for me, I elected to call the game there.




    In the end it turned out being a 17-3 victory for the Beasts!


    AFTERMATH:


    That’s the first game with this list that I can safely say was won thanks to the Jabberwock’s abilities and mobility. The turn 1 Jabber charge not only rid me of the Salamander threat, but crumbled an entire flank, allowing the rest of my army to push forward and isolate the Skink Star. On a similar note, the left flank was kept under control by the second Jabberwock, eventually winning me the objective and leaving the Saurian Warriors in the middle without any support.


    As is often the case, luck played a part in this: from my Feral Hounds not dying to turn 1 magic and shooting, to the Gargoyles surviving the Egg of Quetzal unscathed, and from the Oaken throne consistently failing to cast to the crucial BH break tests in the Skink Star combats, dice favored me in this fight. I was confident I’d be able to give the saurians a fair fight, but gaining such a big win was luck-dependent.


    From the Saurian point of view, I found that the deployment was excellent, as it forced me to split my forces and prevented me from any early flanking maneuvers. If the Jabberwock hadn’t managed to break the right flank early on, my General’s unit might have been isolated and forced to run away without BSB support.

    The Skink Star list is a breath of fresh air, I like how well everything combines to make the lowly R2 skink a force to be reckoned with. I can only imagine how brutal that must be with the Stygiosaur magic support. As Justin explained after the game, he already has an idea of how to optimize the list (added mobility for the Saurian Warlord seems to be key).


    In the rest of the games my teammates did equally well, gaining hard-fought victories all over: the UD weathered the Dwarven shooting and – astonishingly- a Sha Guardian managed to single handedly kill 24 seekers and a Dragon Seeker, only suffering 3 wounds in return. The tree legions fought against ogres in a game dominated by huge luck swings. In the end, dice DID favor the SE, despite them losing the Thicket Beasts and Shepherd BSB to a failed Ld9 RR break test on turn 1. Finally, I had to fill in for our Vampire player, and I got to discover the Vampire Covenant while fighting against a triple Kraken DE list. Familiarity with the enemy, as well as some timely 4++ rolls on my part, meant that the undead came away with a 12-8 victory. Adding up the scores, we ended up with a 60-20 victory, a welcome boost for morale and tournament position alike.


    It was great fun getting to play not one, but two games against new opponents from across the pond: both Justin and Mike were great to play with, hopefully we’ll get to meet again IRL for Luxembourg 2021, once this whole pandemic situation has been put behind us.


    So with a significant boost we climbed up to the middle of the board (well, still lower half but close enough!), and would get one more chance to finish the tournament with an honorable placing!

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