The Salamanca ETC Chronicles: Game 3

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  • On round 3 we were paired up against Switzerland: with a very good showing last year, they’d come up with lists that were relatively out of the box, and quite dangerous. Looking at them, I had several medium to good matchups, but there were two lists that I definitely wanted to avoid: The Pyromancy/Bowline OnG and the MSU Dwarves of @polux.


    In the end, I had to settle for a match against Filip and his Saurian ancients, in Secure target and Refused Flank.


    Filip wrote:


    HEROES:
    Cuatl BSB, Ancient knowledge, Wellspring of power, Ring of fire, Dispel Scroll, Divination magic
    Skink priest, 1 spell Druidism
    Skink Priest, 1 spell Druidism

    CORE:
    2x 20 Braves with 2 Caimans and musician
    20 Braves with 1 Caiman and musician

    SPECIAL:
    2x 2 Spearbacks
    1x 2 Salamanders

    THUNDER LIZARDS
    2x Taurosaur
    1x Engine of the Gods




    So a pretty straightforward list: 3 stubborn roadblocks backed by druidism for healing, a decent amount of shooting in the form of the spearbacks/salamanders and a Pathmaster of Divination to keep my big targets honest.

    The good news were that without any cowboys my units “only” had to deal with the three taurosaurs before getting to the soft part of the army.

    For magic I got Beast Awakens, Insect Swarm,Break the Spirit and Howling wind in Shamanism, the Matriarch got Regrowth and Forest Spirits. The Quatl got Unerring strike, Scrying, Judgment and Stars Align while the Skink priests got Healing Waters and Stoneskin.


    We traded deployment drops for a while, then my opponent forced me to go first by dropping the rest of his army. I ended up with a weighed left flank, the two treefathers relatively central and a unit of Kestrels and the small BD looking over the rightmost objective. The Saurians were squaring off against the treefathers and the small elven contingent, with the three Taurosaurs covering the left flank.






    Turn 1 – Sylvan Elves


    Having played against this kind of list before, I knew that I had to pull the taurosaurs out of position; as long as they stay within 12” of the quatl charging them is a bad idea, and the same applies if they can support each other.So I decided to sacrifice one unit of kestrels for a chance to open up the saurian lines.

    The kestrels moved up within charging range of the leftmost taurosaur, tempting the charge, while the BD with BSB moved into position for countercharge. In the middle, the treefathers moved up a bit to threaten the enemy advance: All I had to do to win was to delay the scorers long enough to the right while securing the objective on the top left.

    Magic started with an insect swarm on the closest taurosaur, which bounced off without effect thanks to the engine’s ward save. The ring of fire was dispelled. The archers opened fire at the closest spearbacks, dealing 2 wounds at long range.





    TURN 1 – Saurian Ancients


    Filip proved to be too smart for my tricks: instead of charging my kestrels, he moved two taurosaurs in range for some blowpipe shots. The salamanders also moved up to shoot at them. In the middle, the spearbacks had a clear shot at the treefather, so moved up to take it. The rest of the army advanced cautiously, the cuatl getting in range for some spells.

    Magic started with a miscast Fate’s Judgment on the right treefather: I let it through, my armour saving the wounds caused. The spell was lost in return, so definitely a good tradeoff! The Unerring Strike was then dispelled with dice.

    Shooting was a bit more effective: the combined efforts of the blowpipes and the salamanders dropped two kestrels, effectively taking them out of the game. The right treefather shrugged off all of the spearbacks’ shots thanks to his armour and ward.





    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves


    With the original trap avoided, I figured that I had to put some pressure on the saurians: the kestrel moved back, and I offered a long charge on the BSB’s bladedancer retinue to the taurosaurs. Both treefathers advanced to be able to shoot some roots at the wounded spearbacks. The Forest Guard shuffled a bit towards the objective marker, and would keep on doing that all game long.

    Magic started yet again with a successful insect swarm, this time dealing a single wound to the closest taurosaur. The rest was dispelled by the quatl with ease. Shooting was focused on the spearbacks, and between the two treefathers’ shots and the 20 sylvan archers, I managed to kill the unit and get some points!




    TURN 2 – Saurian Ancients


    After some deliberation, my opponent decided not to take the long charge on the bladedancers. He shuffled the taurosaurs around, careful to keep all of them within the Engine bubble. The quatl and braimans stayed relatively put.

    In the magic phase I had to let a bubble Scrying go off to try and dispel the Unerring strike: my adversary was kind enough to fail his casting attempt for the latter, though, so the magic phase ended harmlessly. Shooting was also inconsequential.


    TURN 3 – Sylvan Elves


    Looking at the battlefield on turn 3, I came to the conclusion that it was headed for a 10-10 or a very small win for me. However, I knew that several of the matches were going to be losses for our side:Filip had shown me he was a very cautious player, so something had to be done to open up the match.

    So the following plan was hatched: I’d offer the left treefather as bait for a single taurosaur charge, with the bladedancers waiting for a countercharge. The shooting and magic would get focused on the same taurosaur, in an attempt to weaken it enough before it came crushing into my lines. With the second treefather staring at the enemy scorers, it would force some hard decisions.

    The kestrels to the right moved up a bit to deter any outflanking maneuvers to the right.

    Magic and shooting were only able to put one wound on the taurosaur, which was a bit disappointing.





    TURN 3 – Saurian Ancients


    Here my opponent took his timeout and discussed his options with his coach (a very experienced T9A player himself). In the end, he took my bait with the taurosaur, made the 8+ charge and connected. The second taurosaur was positioned in such a way so as to countercharge on the following turn, while the engine moved up towards the centre to threaten my treefather should he decide to charge.

    The spearbacks moved a bit to take some shots at the kestrels.

    In the magic phase, disaster struck: a 12-6 phase meant that I had to let through both Scrying and Stars align on the taurosaur in combat, thankfully managing to dispel the Unerring Strike on the second treefather. Shooting put a wound on the kestrels.

    The charging taurosaur dealt two wounds with impact hits and another one with his attacks, while my treefather dealt two wounds back. I passed my stubborn test, but then proceeded to fail twice my test to reform: the subsequent combat reform from my opponent put me in a difficult position, as the taurosaur turned to its flank, giving me a smaller frontage for my bladedancers to charge, but also limiting my options for post combat reform should I charge.


    TURN 4 – Sylvan Elves


    I debated charging the bladedancers and BSB in with my captain, but truth be told it was a risky move: in the best case scenario I’d kill the taurosaur and get countercharged by its mate, in the worst case I’d fluff and lose the treefather anyway while setting up the bladedancers for a double stomp by the taurosaur duo. In the end, I opted for another route: I’d try to heal the treefather once during the magic phase, ensuring that he’d survive for another round of combat.

    The dryads plus matriarch moved up to be within range for the spells, while on the right hand the treefather had to back up a bit to stay out of the threat range of the engine of the gods.

    In the magic phase things didn’t go as planned: instead of a good magic phase we each got 4 dice (he channeled, I didn’t) and between the dice and the scroll the cuatl proceeded to stop all of my spells. Shooting put a wound on the unengaged taurosaur, at least.

    In combat the taurosaur and skinks struck first (I’d foolishly opted for a crush attack) and some good rolls saw them kill the treefather before he got to strike. Now my general’s retinue was within charging range of a very angry dinosaur!




    TURN 4 – Saurian Ancients


    The victorious taurosaur smashed into the dryads, while the rest of the army moved up towards the objective to my right. In the magic phase I let scrying go off once more, leaving us at a position where my opponent had 6 power dice and I had 7 dispel (after a successful channel). This is where I got greedy: Filip targeted the kestrels to the right with the ring of fire, casting it with 2 dice. He got a 9, which meant I had to use 2 dice to dispel. I really needed the kestrels to live in order to a) not lose any more points, b) block the incoming scorers so that they did not claim the objective on the last turn. So I dispelled the bound spell with two dice, leading us to a 4/5 situation. Cue a boosted unerring strike on 4 dice right into my remaining treefather, cast on a double 6, then my failure to dispel it with my 5 dice.

    Long story short, the treefather got 4 wounds for his trouble, going from immovable object to a mere speedbump that would no longer be able to block the Braimans on turn 5 and 6. Dammit.

    Combat went as expected: the charging taurosaur smashed the dryads, but still suffered 3 wounds before he could trample and pursue all survivors, including my general.




    TURN 5 – Sylvan Elves


    Things had taken clearly a turn for the worse on turn 4: I lost a treefather, was in the process of losing the second one and I had also given my opponent my general and his retinue. I really needed to conserve points and kill some monstersof my own. The small bladedancers decided that contesting the objective was not going to happen now, so they charged the taurosaur that had single handedly messed up my lines.

    The kestrels and the treefather coweredbehind the hill to the right, hoping that they’d survive the game. All this time, the bladeancers with BSB were being held at bay by the 2 salamanders hanging out behind the hill and ready to flame them if they approached any closer to the saurian lines.

    Between magic and shooting I managed to put 2 wounds on the second taurosaur, leaving it on 2 wounds. In combat the dancers made short work of the nearly dead dinosaur, and reformed to face the engine of the gods and the second taurosaur.





    TURN 5 – Saurian Ancients


    With no obstacle barring their way, the Braiman units advanced towards the secondary objective. The wounded taurosaur couldn’t find a place to hide, so opted for an aggressive move towards my shooters, in the case it survived the volley.

    Magic was focused on stopping the healing spells on the taurosaur, meaning that scrying went off once more.



    TURN 6


    In the closing steps of the game, I focused all of my firepower into the wounded taurosaur and managed to kill it, thankfully. All of my remaining units moved to safety, and the forest guard stepped onto the objective ensuring that neither of us would get that +3 bonus points. The Treefather and kestrels hid as well as they could behind the hill, and my opponent then took his last turn:


    The Engine of the Gods moved up onto the hill, within range for some metalshifting attacks on the wounded treefather. The cuatl also scaled the hill, spotting the kestrels. The metalshifting attacks managed to kill the treefather, while a small magic phase for the saurian meant that only the ring of fire went off on the kestrels. A low roll meant that the birds survived thanks to some good save rolls, leading the game to a 9-11 loss for the Sylvans.





    AFTERMATH:



    So, what went wrong?


    The whole Treefather bating a charge idea *might* have been a mistake: it certainly didn’t work out well for me, although in the long run the points we traded were pretty much equal. However, even at that point I was confident that I’d be able to prevent the saurian from claiming the secondary objective, thus getting the 3 bonus points needed for the win.


    The biggest turning point was my failure to dispel the unerring strike: Up to that moment I had done a good job of zoning the entire scoring part of the enemy army, and on turn 5 the treefather was supposed to charge into one unit of caimans, target the monstrous infantry and hopefully stay there for the remainder of the game, while the kestrels redirected the other unit.


    In the after-game discussion my opponent noted that in my position he would have just pulled back after killing the single spearback unit, claiming an 11-9, but I’d argue that this is no fun and, against a cuatl with Unerring Strike not losing any points is far from a certainty.

    On the other hand, Filip played a very solid game and had the good idea to consult his coach when he did: the way he dealt with the treeman bait was textbook material and it put me in a very bad position. On a whole, he used his taurosaurs very well to block my advance. Even better, he managed to stop my bladedancers from advancing at all by parking his Salamanders right behind the hill and ready to pounce and breathe fire on my squishy elves. Say what you will, but 2 flame throwers hitting on 2+ vs T3 elves always ends badly!


    The rest of the team didn’t do too well either, and we ended up getting capped after 3 crushing defeats in the other matches. Switzerland performed very well in the tournament, only losing against Poland and England. They took the 10th place, a very good showing from a “small” country.

    So down we went again, to the bottom half of the tables where we'd be facing Ukraine!

    I hope you enjoyed this, sorry for keeping you waiting. Stay tuned, the rest of the reports will come before the end of September. Maybe.

    Smith

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