The Athens ETC chronicles - Game 6

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  • Game 6 – Australia (Orcs and Goblins, Breakthrough)

    Right, final round of the ETC, and everyone is TIRED! Turns out that even 2 games per day can be taxing, since these are not your usual 2,5h games, but rather 4h+ deals: from pairing, to deployment, to playing the game, to the aftermath.

    We were playing against Australia, and I was looking forward to the game since their fame as fun players preceded them. I got paired against Orcs and Goblins, a matchup I that I was reluctant to take because of the double Gargantula spiders. However, when I figured out that the alternative would be getting to fight a mirror match vs shooty Sylvan Elves, I decided to presserve my sanity and play the fighty Orcs and Goblins instead.

    My opponent was Jack, also known as Darkassassin in the interwebs: a veteran of 8th and very active 9th Age player, he brought an Orcs and Goblins list that turned out to be more shooty than fighty:

    Jack wrote:

    Iron Orc warlord: General, plate armour, hardened shield, king slayer, talisman of supreme shielding, divine icon, 260
    Feral Orc big shaman: Lv4, big green gods/wilderness, obsidian nullstone, essence of a free mind, razor blade, 300
    Feral Orc chief: BSB, Mithril Mail, lucky charm, flaming standard, 130
    Common Goblin shaman: Lv2, little green gods, tome of arcane lore, gem of fortune, 125
    Common Orc shaman: Lv1, wilderness, dispel scroll, 100
    1 x 50 feral orcs: FCG, spears, bows, banner of discipline, 475
    2 x 5 common orc boar riders: standard, 80
    2 x splatterer: 90
    3 x 5 Gnasher dashers: 60
    3 x skewerer: 45
    2 x gargantula: 225


    So 5 warmachines, 8 spells, 50 bows and 16 shortbows, it was no wonder that Jack dropped everything to get the first turn, deploying as close to the table edge as possible and in a denied flank so as to get the most out of the ranged potential of the list.

    Looking at the opposing army, I knew that touching the Feral Orcs was out of the question, but I figured that I could take the rest of the points, while preserving mine, then win the objective. Jack was counting on the Orc Boar riders to score for him, which is why I deployed the Wild Huntsmen, Sylvan Archers and the two units of Bladedancers as deterrents. Since I had the last turn of the game, chances were that I’d be able to stop the small units from scoring and possibly pull the big block out of position by exploiting frenzy.

    In the end, I used terrain to keep the Forest Guard and Archers safe from first turn Splatterer shots, while the Heath Riders and Thicket beasts both stayed out of the maximal range of the warmachines. My opponent exclaimed that he wasn’t thrilled we’d be having a corner hammer battle, to which I replied that he’d be surprised by the actual game.

    The Druid got Luminous Bolts and Cataclysm, while the Dryad Matriarch got Beast Within and Inner Rage. The Orc Great Shaman went for Big Green Gods and got At’em Lads, Oi!no Dying, Headbutt and The big Stomp, with the small shamans going Evil Eye, Sneaky Slicing, Blessing of the Spider Mother and Beast Within.

    TURN 1 – Orcs and Goblins

    The first movement of the orcs was consevative, with Gnashers moving slightly backwards, the Gargantulas angling to provide some zoning against the Kestrels and the Feral Orcs moving up 4 inches so as to be in range for spells and shooting.

    In the magic phase I let the Evil Eye through on the Kestrels, who weathered the hits without receiving any damage. The Big Stomp was then dispelled using dice.

    Shooting started off with a direct hit on the Sylvan Archers behind the hill, which dropped 4 archers. The Skewerers failed to wound (shooting at long range, through forests, at skirmishing Kestrels), and the Feral Orcs also had no luck in hitting the Sylvan flying cavalry.

    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    Contrary to what Jack believed, I wasn’t planning on saying in my corner; Having survived the first turn barrage with little casualties, the western part of the army moved up. The Briar Maidens took a risk by closing the distance to the Gnasher Dashers in the ruins, but I needed them gone so that I’d be able to maneuver freely. Kestrels and Wild Huntsmen moved up to threaten the advance of the Gargantulas.

    Magic started with a successful Luminous Bolts on the rightmost Gnasher Dashers, resulting in a dead unit. The Cataclysm on the Feral Orcs failed to cast.

    Shooting had no targets, with the Gnashers dead; The sylvan archers hadn’t scaled the hill, since in doing so they’d be exposing themselves to a volley by the feral orcs. Their role was to threaten the scoring Boar riders when/if they came close.

    TURN 2 – Orcs and Goblins

    The rightmost Gargantula declared a charge on the Kestrel Knights up the middle, but failed to roll high enough, stumbling forward towards the Wild Huntsmen. The feral orcs moved up some more, followed by the Boar Riders and gnashers.

    In the magic phase, a low roll meant that the spells were easily contained: the Big Stomp on the Thicket Beasts failed to cast, while the Evil Eye on the Kestrels to the left was dispelled with dice.

    Shooting was aimed at the Thicket Beasts and the Kestrels in the middle, but a combination of ward saves and to-hit penalties meant that no damage was done. The Feral Orcs let loose another volley, but hitting on 8’s wasn’t helping their cause.

    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves

    At this point I called my time-out. I was debating whether charging the closest gargantula with my Wild Huntsmen was a good idea or not: the spider was out of the general’s/BSB’s range, and the Wild Huntsmen usually manage to put a few wounds on such monsters on the charge. However, failing to break it or –even worse- losing combat against it would mean that the rest of my army would be a sitting duck on Jack’s following turn. In the end, I decided not to charge and take the safer route of softening it up with the Briar Maidens and/or magic first. As luck would have it, the Wild huntsmen failed their ld9 rerollable Frenzy check, and had to charge anyway!

    On the left flank, the kestrels kept moving out of the Feral Orcs’ short range, always keeping the forest between them for the extra shooting protection. The right flank force moved up, and Briar Maidens went Skewerer hunting on the far right.

    Magic was stopped using the scroll on the Beast Within on the Riders. The Briar Maidens killed the skewerer with a single volley, and the Sylvan Archers tried hurting the leftmost gnasher dashers, in vain.

    In combat, the 15 s5 ap1 attacks of the riders and the 10 s4 attacks of the steeds caused a single wound on the Gargantula, which killed all of the Elven Cavalry in return. That left –as predicted- half my army exposed to turn 3 charges.

    TURN 3 – Orcs and Goblins

    The victorious gargantula spotted the Dryads and declared a charge first into the kestrels, who fled to safety, then into the Dryads for a longer charge. Jack made his 10+ roll, and the spider approached to close to my lines for my liking.

    The western flank of the orc army advanced some more, always staying within Big Stomp range of my units.

    In the magic phase I had to let the Poison spell through on the charging Gargantula, dispelling the Big Stomp against the Thicket Beasts. The splatterers got a direct hit on the left Kestrel unit, killing one of them, while the Skewerers still failed to deal any damage (intervening forests/units meant they could only hit on a 6).

    Combat was pretty bloody, the Dryads sustaining 6 unsaved wounds and dealing just one on the Gargantula. The combat ended a big loss for the Dryads, who held, amazingly, on a rerollable 3 Break Test!

    TURN 3 – Sylvan Elves

    While my general was not safe from harm, last turn’s valiant stand gave a countercharge posibility to my thicket beasts. So in they went, charging the front of the spider due to a clever combat reform my opponent performed. The fleeing Kestrels rallied.

    The Briar Maidens continued their warmachine hunt, killing another skewerer with their poisoned darts. The mexican stand-off of sorts on the left side came to an end since the kestrels moved past the Feral orcs and near the Orc Cavalry, exposing themselves to a gnasher dasher charge. The Wild Huntsmen moved up to provide support on the next turn.

    Magic started with a Curse of the Wildwood on the Feral orcs, then the luminous bolts and Beast within were both dispelled. The efforts of the Sylvan Archers on the left were in vain, as no gnasher dashers died from their arrows.

    In combat, the Thicket Beasts managed to deal 3 wounds on the Gargantula, and the Dryads dodged most of the attacks back, my matriarch surviving on a single wound. The Gargantula failed its Ld6, ran away and escaped the Thicket Beasts’ pursuit.

    TURN 4 – Orcs and Goblins

    The Gnasher Dashers on the right charged the Dryad Matriarch, eager to finish what the Gargantula had started. The second gargantula charged the Thicket beasts, but failed its charge. Finally, the leftmost Gnasher Dashers took the Kestrel Bait. The fleeing gargantula rallied, and the Feral Orcs moved some more towards my lines. (their shooting remained ineffective during the entire game, due to the fact that all the targets were in long range, through a forest and skirmishing.)

    During the magic phase, I used my Scroll to dispel the Big Stomp on the Thicket Beasts, taking care of the rest with my dispel dice. Shooting saw one of the splatterers misfire and the other hit the Sylvan Archers again, killing 3 of them.

    The Gnashers made short work of the dryads, pursuing into the Forest Guard waiting right behind. Their mates fighting the kestrels fared worse: bad rolls meant that the kestrels survived and held their ground, giving the nearby Wild Huntsmen a very good countercharge.

    TURN 4 – Sylvan Elves

    The Thicket Beasts charged the Gargantula right in front of them, the Wild Huntsmen flank charged the gnasher dashers. The Heath Riders entered the enemy deployment zone, scoring the objective. A unit of Bladedancers moved up and blocked the advance of the Feral orcs: my opponent had made a mistake in keeping his Boar Riders behind his big block, as it allowed me to block their advance for the rest of the game with this move.

    The Briar Maidens approached the recently rallied Gargantula, and put two wounds on it, leaving it on one wound. I positioned them in such a way, so as to force a flee move out of the table for the second Gargantula, should the Thicket beasts win combat.

    And so it happened: the Thicket Beasts dealt some wounds on the spider, took some back, but in the end it broke and was ran down. Unfortunately, the Thickets missed the second spider by a couple of inches on the pursuit.

    The Gnasher dashers on both sides of the table were dealt with, and the Wild Huntsmen got an overrun into one of the Boar Rider units.

    TURN 5 – Orcs and Goblins

    At this point the captains told us that we had around 15 minutes to play, so we agreed to play a final turn each. The Feral Orcs charged into the Bladedancers, killed them and overran into my deployment zone, the Gargantula moved away from the Thicket Beasts and the Boar Riders moved up to avoid getting killed by the wild huntsmen on the last turn of the game.

    The Big Stomp was cast this turn on the Forest Guard, but it scattered a bit and didn’t deal a lot of damage. The Spearelves used the Gleaming icon for the first time in the tournament, managing to pass their panic test! The two remaining warmachines targetted the Briar Maidens, but they couldn’t get a hit.

    In close combat, the Wild huntsmen killed the Boar Riders and overran towards the Splatterer in the OnG backfield.

    TURN 5 – Sylvan Elves

    With two scoring units inside the enemy deployment zone, the secondary objective was achieved. So I used my last turn to get some more points: The Wild Huntsmen charged the splatterer, and the Briar Maidens approached the Gargantula.

    The final round of shooting managed to take the last wound off the giant spider, and the Wild Huntsmen made short work of the catapult.

    In the end, I had gotten around 900 points and lost 500, meaning that with the bonus Scenario points i managed to get a 15-5 win.

    Sylvan Elf victory!


    This was the fifth opponent who opted for corner-hammer against my list, and I still believe it was a bad decision. While 50 bows are a solid firebase, when you’re hitting on 8’s due to modifiers, you’re better off advancing full speed ahead in order to clear a path for the softer scoring Boar Riders. The decision to deploy everything for the first turn also made things difficult for Jack, as I was able to counter his deployment and to protect my imporant units from his warmachines.

    The way I see it, it was the positioning of the Kestrels that kept the Feral Orcs at bay: had they advanced more aggressively, I would have been able to fly over and get to the warmachines on turn 2 or 3.

    For yet another game, the Briar Maidens were my MVPs: they took care of half the enemy warmachines, two Gargantulas (if you count their part in pushing one out of the board) and some Gnasher dashers, but more importantly they opened up the way for the Heath Riders to score the objective.

    The rest of the team got mixed results, and in the end we lost 70-90. But it was a hard-fought round, against great, sporting opponents, and the perfect way to close the ETC!

    Stay tuned for the aftermath, list evaluation and overall impressions of the ETC!


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Comments 8

  • Swordmaster -

    When I first saw you played against O&G I thought you might be playing against Akhter, Mr. Foodmonster himself but it seems this year he played with a different army.

    I know it is a team tournament and that dictates a certain behavior of the armies, e.g. corner-hammer. But I too used to play MSU Elves and for me stationary force is an anathema. It would be very interesting to see you play against another Elven army for example (provided it follows your theme of a force that relies on combined arms approach and maneuverability).

    In any case, well done on the victory and I can't wait for the last installment of your ETC series!

    • SmithF -

      Akhter was playing next to me, using Vampire Counts against our Empire. He looked like a very chill guy, I certainly hope I'll get to play against him on another occasion.

      I have some thoughts about how to promote more aggressive play in the ETC, objectives and additional deployment styles will certainly help in this regard.

      In my list rating (where you rate all of your opponents' lists according to threat level and whether you can take them on), I actually had almost all Sylvan Elf lists as bad Matchups, but this is due to the fact that they were shooty/avoidance armies. On the contrary, close combat MSU lists such as the Kingdom of Equitaine RAF lists (there were a few of them) I consider good pairings, due to the fact that the game will be open and mistakes will be easier to exploit.

      (That is, unless your KoE opponent plays in a castle formation anyway!)

      From past experience playing against @Razon and @ljinxphoenix , facing other combat elves is always a bloody but fun affair.

    • Swordmaster -

      I am very curious about the details of promoting more aggressive play in general and at ETC in particular!

  • Banano -

    Thanks once again for sharing your ETC experience+taking all the time needed to write this awesome bat reports, my four thumbs up mate, easy to read+follow+understand!

    Looking forward to that last part regarding conclusions!

  • micky -

    Great Thanks to you for these nice and good explained BattleReps. Deploying in the corner was the right descision. The Orc only have 3 Units to prevent you from Charging as you like. So the arc in a cornerdeployment is much better. In fact you would have killed all the soft units on turn 3 if he deployed in a central position. Its very hard for such static armies to play against elves

    • SmithF -

      Thanks man!
      I agree on the deployment style of the OnG, but disagree on how the army should have been played.
      I know that hindsight is always 10/10 but a better approach would have been pushing aggressively with the savages (I have no units that can take them on), keeping the Gargantulas as flank guards and the Gnasher Dashers as rearguard against Kestrels.

    • micky -

      I think you got 2 nice spells to soften the feral orcs. Cataclysm and curse of wildwood are really nice. On a later turn his unit wont be unchargeable at all.
      But it was not your plan to take on these guys.

    • SmithF -

      In general, I've found that taking on Orc Hordes requires quite a lot of preparation: soften the unit up (with cataclysm and/or curse of the wildwood), pull the scroll early on, eliminate support units and make sure that even if it goes south the enemy won't have the turns required to grind you down. So the only option was a late game charge, but it is a high risk move.

      When using MSU, I generally prefer to redirect the big block, unless I absolutely have to engage it. (when it is frenzied, a bladedancer unit in the flank is usually all it takes to make them chase daisies in the wrong part of the battlefield)