Articles by SmithF 107

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    In the fourth round of the W8MW tournament we were fortunate enough to be paired against team Canada and friends; besides being proud “best sportsmen” of the 2018 ETC, the Canadians have made their mark in the recent online tournaments, with very decent final positions. And while @DougL seems to be at the forefront of that veritable Canadian wargaming renaissance, there is one other person who is the Maple Syrup to Doug’s pancakes (here’s hoping that this wasn’t an inadvertent Canadian sexual reference, I apologize in advance if it is the case! ) ; that’s no other than @awww jeeze , Sylvan Elf general extraordinaire. I’ve been following his results with the Sylvans, and he seems to always be placing high in the scoreboard, so I was happy I’d get to face him and his sylvans with the following list:


    Awww Jeeze wrote:


    So a mix fast close combat units, decent shooting and magic, as well as a couple of big blocks anchoring the line if the SE ever wanted to form one. The scenario was Capture the Flags and we’d be playing Frontline Clash. Going into the game I had rated this as a positive game, mainly due to the vulnerability of the characters and wild huntsmen to cannon fire and small arms fire respectively. So I figured that outside of a coordinated combo charge that would be able to break my steadfast, the big blocks were relatively safe and could outgrind the opposition. Fighting against such a mobile enemy means that you need to get your deployment just right, so I spent a bit of time theorizing on the correct approach, and ended up with a refused flank deployment where there would be no blind spots from the cannons and I would be able to use the Impassable terrain to cover my flank while advancing. My opponent won the roll for sides and so I opted for a full drop to get the first turn.
    Matt replied by putting as much distance between our two armies as humanly possible, taking care to shield both of his characters from first turn cannon fire. After scouts were deployed and vanguard was done we ended up like this:



    The Hold Guardians evidently selected vanguard as their upgrade, and for magic I opted for double runes of Resolve, Resilience and Gleaming. My opponent took Awaken the Beast and Swarm of Insects on the shamanism adept, whereas the Druidism master took Healing Waters, Entwining Roots, Stoneskin and Regrowth.

    TURN 1 – Dwarven Holds

    With the first turn in the bag, I’d shoved everything forward using vanguard. The goal was to close the gap between the two armies as fast as possible, while taking as little damage as possible. The Greybeards, joined by the BSB during Vanguard, moved up using the Banner of the Relentless Company, hoping to reach combat by turn 4 or so, while the Hold Guardians braved the sylvan forest so as to try and box in the Pathfinders. Magci had a single goal, and that was to protect my shooting troops from counterfire: I was able to put Rune of Resilience on both the Forge Wardens and the Rangers. In the shooting phase the Forge Wardens opened fire at the Heath Riders and killed them to an elf, while the Forest Rangers shot at the Pathfinders furthest away (they were providing cover for the Wild Huntsmen and I figured that killing two of them to open up the possibility of a cannon snipe on the Prince was too much to ask). As it turned out, these rangers had gone to sharpshooter school, and they managed to drop three Pathfinders! The cannons tried to reproduce their success but failed.



    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    After that initial setback, the elves applied their battle plan, which was -fittingly- quite querilla warfare-like. The archers moved up to shoot at my king’s unit, the wild huntsmen passed frenzy and started outflanking the same unit, and the rest of the army stayed relatively still, the characters careful not to give the cannons any good targets. The leftmost pathfinders failed their march test and could only move backwards 5”.

    In the magic phase I stopped the Swarm of insects cast on my rightmost cannon, and let through both the Oaken throne and an entwining roots that resulted in a raised Pathfinder. (it’s possible that an attempt at Regrowth on them… [Read More]
  • In the third round of the tournament we were in for a treat: after dodging each other in one Luxembourg Bash tournament after the other, we’d finally get to play QTL, an Italian team that always competes for the top spots. Once again, the pairing matrix of the dwarves was pretty favorable, and I ended up facing Warriors of the Dark Gods, which I'd rated as a favorable matchup:




    The way I looked at it, there was no combat that wouldn’t go my way in this game: my blocks beat the warriors on a one-on-one fight, and I’ve got the shooting (cannons!) to get points and threaten the Exalted Heralds. The scenario here was Secure Target, which I was expecting to draw. Once the pairing was done and I started looking at the list more closely, I realized that it was NOT in fact a combat list, but an avoidance WDG list based on the Hellmaw. Bear with me, because this is about to become very enlightening – it was for me at least.

    My main goal going into this game was to avoid getting outflanked: with the Ominous Gateways this meant that I’d have to adapt my deployment according to their initial position, and potentially sacrifice a unit to stand all game on top of a portal to prevent any massive redeployments. Another consideration was the Wrath of God: my deployment would have to be wide enough to prevent a game-winning comet, and make sure that it would be difficult to hit both cannons with one. Finally, I wanted to make sure that the Hellmaw (integral part of the WDG strategy) would have a hard time hiding from the cannons.

    In deployment we alternated a couple of drops, and then once I saw where the Feldraks were going I dropped the rest of my army to get that first volley off. We ended up with something like this:



    I will not do a play-by-play description of the game, because as you’ll see a lot of it was quite uneventful. So here are the highlights:

    Turn 1: The dwarves advance towards the middle of the board, cautious not to let the EH slip past their arcs of sight. In shooting the Rangers manage 4 wounds on the Feldraks, panic them and they run off the board. The Forge Wardens shot at the Flayers inside the ruins and killed them to a man.



    Turns 1-2: The cannons try to hit/wound the Hellmaw, to no avail; the WDG start the great migration; using the portals the entire army starts teleporting to the east.

    My opponent does a great job using the LoS-blocking terrain, and by turn 3 my cannons have no real targets. I let through Marked for Doom on my centremost cannon that had -1 to wound on it, but it still suffers maximum damage. One comet later, the cannon is no more and I’m left with no options for shooting at the Hellmaw.



    Turn 3 DH: It now becomes apparent that as long as my positional game is good, my opponent has no intention of engaging me. I briefly consider leaving an opening for him, but decide it’s a bad idea. I’m content with a small win, even if the game will be more boring for it. So Greybeards + Warriors zone the entire eastern flank and I take potshots at the warriors.



    Turn 4 WDG: A very successful magic phase sees the EH kill no less than 14 Greybeards (!), which means that now there’s a possibility that the unit will give up half points. By now the entire WDG army is packed in the upper right quadrant, and the dwarves are left staring at emptiness.



    Turn 5 DH: I go into full point conservation mode, the GBs are boosted by double Rune of Resilience and the Forge Wardens start moving towards the objective.



    Turn 5 WDG: my opponent finally makes a more aggressive move. The Knights teleport to the left, threatening my Forge Wardens, and the Chariot and Exalted Herald (general) both move past the hill and behind my lines.

    Turn 6 DH: I have an 11+ charge into the Chosen chariot with the Hold Guardians, with an overrun into the flank of the EH; I take it, but fail. After that it’s once again a case of holding on to the points and the objective draw (currently 11-9 for the dwarves). The forge wardens move as far away from the Knights as possible, and the Greybeards use the BSB’s Relentless company banner to also move away from danger. I try to cannon off one knight to deny them a rank, but fail.

    Turn 6 WDG: there’s only one play for the Warriors – the knights have an 11+ charge into the rear of the Forge wardens (boosted by Rune of Resilience), and they… [Read More]
  • After the hard-fought first round, we found ourselves comfortably in the middle of the ranking, and got to play a USA/Mexico joint team in the form of El Jeffe’s Mercenaries. The online tournaments being an excellent way to meet new people who play the game, I was looking forward to this round!

    I was lucky enough to get paired against Neil @hamil302 , an experienced tournament player and a team Mexico veteran in past ETCs. He had brought mixed arms DE with an Academy focus and a couple of the more “fun” choices such as the Thunder Pack!




    The secondary objective for the round was King of the Hill, and the deployment was Marching Columns. Going into the game, I really hoped that I’d get to pick sides, which would enable me to always keep the two terrain pieces nominated close to each other (one side had limited options for terrain picked). Other than that, I hoped that my shooting would be enough to scare the cowboys into hiding while I forced the combat blocks to face my shieldwall dwarves in a losing grind.

    Things started well, since I indeed won the roll for sides and promptly decided to defend the ruins in the middle of my deployment zone, ensuring that whatever the pick of my opponent was I wouldn’t have to spread my forces too thin. After the mandatory three drops Neil dropped the rest for the first turn, giving me the opportunity to counter his deployment. I ended up with a weighed left flank, cannons in the backline and far enough from any warmachine hunters, and the Hold Guardians as an anchor in the middle of the board; I was expecting to get outflanked, but hopefully the Banner of the Hold would allow them to stay in the fight even engaged to a flank. The warlock Outcast selected Altered Sight, Ice and Fire, Perception of Strength and Unity in Divergence for his spells, while I took the usual duplicate runes: Revocation, Resilience and Gleaming.

    The Rangers were used to reinforce the line on the left, blocking any easy turn 1 moves towards my warmachines by the Shadow Riders. Vanguards saw both the Forge Wardens and the Warriors move up a bit to prevent a first turn rush, while the Shadow Riders started their flanking maneuver. The king’s grudges went on the Obisdian Guard, the Dread Knights and the Auxiliaries, since they were the units I’d most likely get to fight over the course of the game.



    TURN 1 – Dread Elves

    The DE started the game with an intricate maneuver: the right flank moved as fast as possible towards my lines, the Manticore braving the imminent double cannon shot, while the backbone of the army moved away from my blocks, putting some further distance between us.

    In the magic phase I let the Ice and Fire through on the Warriors, losing three of them to the magic missile and then the outcast failed to cast anything else thanks to the Hewn from the Mountains rule (it’s possible that the bound Wheel Turns was cast to give the Obsidian Guard +1 Advance) Shooting killed another dwarf from the king’s unit and a couple of Forge Wardens fell to the Shadow Riders’ shots.

    TURN 1 – Dwarven Holds

    After some hesitation, I decided that the Shadow Rider bait was a trap my Forge Wardens wouldn’t be able to fight their way through, so I decided not to charge and put my faith on the dwarven shooting: the battle line angled a bit and generally held its ground.

    In the magic phase I managed to cast Rune of Resilience on the Forge Wardens to help them in the shootout. Shooting started with both cannons trying to hit the Legion Legate on manticore and both failing, followed by the Forge Wardens killing four Shadow Riders but failing to panic them. The Rangers showed everyone how it’s done by putting no less than four wounds on the Thunder Pack though!



    TURN 2 – Dread Elves

    With no favorable charge available, the elves opted for some more maneuvering: the wounded Shadow Riders redirected the King’s retinue, while their colleagues moved past my Hold Guardians and within charge range of the Cannon next to the house. The Manticore flew over the hill and in relative safety, staying hidden from the furthest cannon, while the chariots edged forward towards the hold[Read More]
  • Greetings, once again, dear reader!

    Since the last entry in this blog, a lot has changed for the game: a new DE book, a couple of armybook updates, updated magic paths… all of this got me thinking about where to head to next in terms of army. One of the books that went a good deal of changes was Dwarven Holds: with the combat infantry blocks getting cheaper and cheaper, it felt like a good time to go back underground and see if the gaming experience was any different from when I last used the army in 2018.

    So I wrote some lists, played a couple of games, and finally came up with the following setup:



    The basis of the list is roughly the same as three years ago: a big dwarven block carrying the dwarven king on throne, then two more combat blocks (the Greybeards replacing the Seekers – more on that later) and some ranged units that can also act as combat support. The points changes allowed me to get a big unit of Greybeards off core, while the price drop on the Forge Wardens made them a good choice – for roughly the price of a warrior unit of the same size you get an elite fighting unit with a ranged attack that does something unique for the army. Where before I had Flame Cannons, this time I splurged and added a couple of regular Cannons: with the removal of the seekers, the anti-monster potential of the list went down a bit so I figured that some S10 D3+1w should help keep any dragons honest.

    Why drop the seekers ? I hear you ask. Mainly because they are the only good Pyro/small arms fire target in the entire army, in a gaming scene where a lot of players are tooling up for the elven matchup. So in my opinion spending 600 points to include a vulnerability to the list is a poor use of points, even if the vanguarding seeker block can work wonders against the right opposition.

    The first test run of the list will be none other than the first 8-man team tournament of the year: Who 8 my Wings? Is an online team tournament hosted by team USA, and the Belgian lads decided to participate once more! A total of 24 teams signed up, with a very good international mix of teams.
    Spoils of War was the objective of the first round of the tournament , and we were drawn against none other than Team Russia (named Sputnik V for the purposes of this event), and I got to play against @Allor and his Orcs and Goblins:



    So a combat – heavy list aided by Thaumaturgy, with a good deal of mobility thanks to the two mounted characters. The deployment would be Refused Flank, so I knew that we’d be in combat relatively fast and that delaying the fight would mean giving up the scenario advantage. The good news was that I could deploy deep and face the Orcs in waves as opposed to one coordinated attack. I decided that I’d have to accept the fact that a Comet was eventually going to drop on my army, and made a mental note to deploy the two cannons roughly 24 “ apart, in order to prevent the spell hitting both cannons at once. Other than that, the plan was: deal with the Wolf King, the BSB idol from… [Read More]
  • Greetings once more, dear reader!


    I promised a proper ending for the Ocho series, so I guess that even a very late article will do! When I last updated this blog we were in the process of fighting an against-the-odds battle versus none other than the Danish team, boasting a roster of ETC veterans and tournament winners. As mentioned before, the team went into the “get creative” mode, an approach that could also be translated into “anything can happen”. And happen it did: right after I finished my game, we sat on a 51-49 score with three games remaining.


    Our Dread Elves (chariot-star list) faced a double Duke KoE army and won 13-7 in a bloody game that saw the elves bounce off armour everywhere, but still manage to give as good as they got, on top of scoring the objective. We were ahead: Undying Dynasties then faced an aggressive flying Vampire Covenant army, and proceeded to kill vampire after vampire in a mix of shooting, magic, and exploding caskets. We learned that a charging Colossus is more than a match for 40 Ghouls and that if you throw enough s3 arrows at a Shrieking Horror it will eventually curl up and die (again). A 16-4 win brought us at the 80-point mark, with a single game to go. No way we’d get beaten now, so our Saurian Ancients player could play without any pressure, knowing he’d have to fight Wilhelm of RT and ETC fame. SA clashed with Warriors of the Dark Gods, in a game that was too weird to watch and could have gone wrong numerous times. Only it didn’t: @bolard stuck to his guns and managed an impressive 18-2 win, bringing the round to an unbelievable 98-62 win!


    So when the smoke cleared we had won two rounds convincingly, suffered a near-cap defeat at the hands of the French, and fought three draw-ish rounds. As is the case in team tournaments, consistency is key: the 500 points we were able to score were just enough to push us past teams such as England, Canada and Australia for a final 8th place out of 30!

    The undisputed champions of the Ocho were the Swiss, last year’s Bronze medalists: they bested the Spanish, the French, the English and then capped our host, team USA, to get the first place. The only ones that were able to keep the well-oiled swiss clock in control were their Italian neighbors, who came second after having to fight behemoths such as Russia, Switzerland and Germany; it turns out pizza and pasta IS the breakfast of champions! Well done lads! The podium was completed by team Russia, to nobody’s surprise; Russians know their T9A, and are always top3 contenders. One can only hope to achieve their level of consistency, one day…


    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the performance of our hosts, the amiable Team USA: they not only opened their Discord server to the international community and made the international UB tournaments a reality, but spent a great deal of time on the top tables, only to be toppled down in the end by the Swiss. Their final placing was 5th, commendable although I can understand their disappointment for not bringing the trophy home. A huge thanks to them, and to the tournament organizer, @Sergrum for making this 200+ player, 6-week event a success! Alex runs a Youtube channel where he discusses tactics and muses on about Warriors of the Dark Gods, Tactics and chicken wings. I’d listen to him if I were you, because not only is he a very competent general, but his Discord/Messenger contact list is littered with past and present tournament winners; if you consistently win tournaments and there’s a nugget of T9A wisdom in your head, chances are that Sergrum has managed to squeeze it out of you in after-midnight talks. So when he rambles on while munching on fried bird extremities, you should listen.


    To get back to Team Belgium, we were very happy with the final result: we entered the event with several off-the-wall lists, and still managed to finish in a respectable position. That’s a testament to the hard work that my fellow team members have put into the preparation for this year’s (cancelled) ETC, and a bright beacon for the years to come. So kudos to them, and a particular shout-out to @Arthur for his impressive 92/120 points that put him just shy of the top10 scorer list for the tournament.


    But what about the Beasts? I’d say that for an “outdated book” they did quite well: team tournament considerations notwithstanding , the Beast Herds were only barely knocked off the top position for average score! With 6 players representing them , and zero “Spanish lists” to be found, I take this as a positive sign for the beasts as a whole: perhaps more generals can be persuaded to take a walk on the wild side.


    Regarding the SmithF beasts in particular… that’s a more complex question: the list did well overall, ending up with 85 points. But it did nothing to help the pairings for our team, meaning that it was difficult to try and get into a good game: So the positive thing is possibly that the beasts held their own in what I considered… [Read More]
  • What can one say for the Danish? When it comes to the international wargaming scene, they are up there with the Polish, Italians and the Spanish: they’ve been around since the beginning of the international team tournaments in the legacy game, they are one of a handful teams to have won the coveted ETC gold, and they count among their ranks many wargaming veterans. In recent years we’ve had the pleasure of facing them twice, the last time in 2018 in a very tight round that saw the Belgian team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat: that year that victory earned us the 4th spot, and allowed us to jump ahead of the Danish. But the Top 5 is where the Danes naturally reside, as they’ve proven time and time again.

    So if anyone was looking forward to an easy round for the closing of the tournament, he’d be very disappointed! Their lists were all very well built, with a clear monster-mash orientation that made us a bit nervous. It was no surprise that our pairing matrix ended up looking like a sunset: loads of oranges and reds everywhere. After the pairing process was done, we ended up with a projected score that was close to the 60-point cap; that wouldn’t do, clearly. We’ve faced this problem before in team tournaments: that’s where our captain says “get creative”. By that he means trying to win games that you would normally be struggling to not lose by much. I have to say that I enjoy this mode, because it’s very close to my usual approach; I’d never go into a game trying to not lose, but rather consider the enemy army as a puzzle or challenge that I have to overcome. For this round my puzzle would be Jens’ @Myggen88 Sylvan Elves.


    Myggen88 wrote:


    So that’s practically one bow short of the maximum amount of bows one can field in a Sylvan Elf army, accompanied by a couple of Treefathers, some scorers and Druidism magic to keep these archers operational for as long as possible.
    The army is also deceptively hard to crack for Beasts, because despite their squishy nature the elite archers have fangs: every skirmishing unit can pump out around 15 high-quality attacks that almost hit automatically, which is kind of the perfect counter for my MSU elements.

    So I’d have to (you guessed it) get creative. First order of business was to stack the odds in my favor for the one thing that I could control: the secondary objective. That was Secure Target for this round, and this meant that at least I’d get to decide in part where the action would happen. This is really welcome when fighting against such a maneuverable enemy that has no intention of engaging unless it’s on their own terms. Our deployment would be Counterthrust, which again helped by ensuring that I’d know the positioning of the enemy scorers prior to deploying mine. I won the roll for sides and picked the side with the hill: while it had less cover, it also meant that my opponent wouldn’t be able to dance around the hill, denying me crucial charges on the turn that I finally got close enough to his squishy elves. I also placed my objective marker to the top left, thus forcing the SE to commit at least some forces into that corner, and thus allowing some of my units to take advantage of the cover of the impassable.

    For magic we both chose Master of Earth, Stoneskin and Summer Growth, with the only difference being that I opted for Healing Waters for my last spell whereas my opponent picked Entwining Roots.

    When fighting Sylvans with such ranged potential and 360 degree movement, it is important to somehow control the flow of the battle. In my case, that would happen by targeting the elements that were least maneuverable, namely the Dryads and the Treefathers. After exchanging the mandatory three deployments (for my opponent these proved to be the two treefathers and a unit of Sylvan Archers, my adversary dropped all that remained to get a chance at that opening volley, Dark Rain or not. That was a justified decision, because the alternative would be starting the game with the beasts too close to the SE lines for the elves’ comfort.

    I countered with a deployment that covered the entire zone, both to protect against scouts, but also to force the SE to spread out as well or risk a mid-game enveloping maneuver. This time the Minotaurs decided to forego their usual conga formation… [Read More]
  • Every team in sports has a “rivalry” with someone, for reasons usually nobody understands: Bulls vs Pistons, Manchester United vs Liverpool, Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Red Sox vs Yankees (I admit that I googled that). It turns out the Belgians also have this, with no other than our neighbors: yes, we and the friendly Dutch have had many a fight in T9A and before that, quite often with a pint of good old beer (and not the piss that is Heineken). I remember when I got recruited in the team back in 2016, and asked what our goals were for the year, our then-captain said without hesitating: “we need to beat the Dutch”.

    Now, reader, don’t criticize us just yet: it’s not that we dislike our border friends, nor that we are threatened by their abnormal height or the fact that they combine savory pancakes with syrup. Nor that they call it Stroop instead of syrup, like a normal person would. It’s just good to have something of a healthy competition. Back in the Warhammer days, the Dutch would come across the border and “healthy competition” the poor Belgian scene, steal their pride and their prizes along with it. Long before I even stepped my foot in the land of chocolate, compromise and overall political indifference (who else could go on without a government for 2 years??), Belgian wargamers devised a plan called “soft scores” to keep the Dutch away. Then the Dutch went ahead and became some of the best painters in Europe, just to spite their neighbors. I could go on, but it should be clear to you by now that we’re in the right and they are in the wrong and that we should win for reasons.

    Or at least that’s how my then captain explained it to me. So when we got paired against the Dutch for our game 5, it suddenly became clear that our objective for the tournament had changed: we just couldn’t lose against the Dutch.

    My opponent, Niek, @Wurzaq was an embodiment of all the virtues that spite the Belgians: super-nice and fun to play against, was Dutch and probably drank Heineken and mispronounced the word “syrup”. That’s all I needed to know, and reason enough to do battle with imaginary toy soldiers!
    It was a good thing that the objective for the round was King of the Hill, but a bit worse that my enemy was bringing more speed, better armour and better fighting characters than me!

    Wurzaq wrote:

    685 - Duke, General, Hippogriff, Shield, Bastard Sword (Blessed Inscriptions), Crusader's
    Salvation, Dragonfire Gem, Renown, Questing Oath and Bastard Sword
    425 - Duke, Barded Warhorse, Shield (Fortress of Faith), Lance (Supernatural Dexterity), Might
    385 - Damsel, Barded Warhorse, Wizard Master, Shamanism
    255 - Paladin, Barded Warhorse, Shield, Battle Standard Bearer, Lance, Grail Oath
    675 - 15 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer (Banner of the Last Charge)
    369 - 8 Knights of the Realm, Champion
    225 - 5 Knights Aspirant
    225 - 5 Knights Aspirant
    565 - 7 Knights of the Grail, Champion
    560 - 12 Knights of the Quest
    125 - 5 Yeoman Outriders, Bow
    4494



    So reading the list I noticed something that gave me a glimmer of hope: my adversary had skimped on the command model options, so as to get more models in his list! While I’m not the one to talk about ignoring command models, it is slightly riskier for a big lance of knights with a huge footprint, compared to a small minotaur conga. So going back to my Sylvan Elf roots, I decided that the way to win this was by taking advantage of the superior maneuverability of my army, or at least part of it: all of the centaurs would begin the game sober, giving me three vanguarding units that could be either used as late-game redirectors or simply threaten the knight busses with flank charges and the such.

    I also resolved to make King of the Hill harder for my the knights by splitting the terrain pieces diagonally. With fewer units than me and with no possibility for sneaky swift reforms, I was confident that at the very least I could keep the knights away from my terrain piece or land a foot into theirs.

    For spells, the Damsel got Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Totemic Summon and Break the Spirit, while the Soothsayer went with Healing Waters, Entwining Roots, Summer Regrowth and Stoneskin.

    We alternated deployments (it was Frontline Clash) all the way till the end, with me keeping my big blocks for until after the KoE had dropped their entire force. My opponent went for the side with the hill, and used his lances to make sure that I wouldn’t be able to infiltrate my vanguarding centaurs past his arc of sight if I got first turn. This left him with a weighed left flank, with only a single unit of aspirants threatening to move past my forces and cheekily score the objective. To counter this, I placed my GW centaurs on the right hand side of the board: they’d have to first deal with the aspirants, then move back towards the center where the action would happen. The rest of my army went across from the knights,… [Read More]
  • So moving past the halftime of the Ocho, we’d face Guardia Varega, a Spanish team comprised of seasoned tournament players. My opponent for the round would be Gonzalo @gundizalbo , of former Balance Team glory, and of ETC Australia fame. His build of Saurian Ancients seems to have defined the SA meta Down Under, and he’s had a great run with it in the past years’ ETCs.


    To me, this was a very nostalgic kind of list, taking me back to the first games of 5th edition when all I had was a bunch of skinks with bows, a big block of monopose Saurus Warriors and my precious Slann mage-priest carried to battle inside a huge Temple Guard unit. Only difference is that back then my Temple guard used to be called in jest “Proxy Guard” (because what student had enough $$ to buy a full pewter unit using blisters of 2 figurines!), and they tended to ran away from Fear-causing skeletons. Ah, the joys of mid-hammer!


    gundizalbo wrote:

    So taking a closer look, the list has a very impressive magic phase, with loads of spells that are easily cast on 2-dice with a +2 to cast bonus. It also has some ranged support as well as the dreaded Ramphodons to hunt my squishy centaurs. Nevertheless, I had this down as a good game, possibly because of the Breakthrough Scenario: the odds of Beast Herds losing Breakthrough are low, unless you really mess things up. So first order of business was to make sure I wouldn’t mess up that badly!


    Our deployment was Refused Flank. I had the choice of the side, and decided to deny the hill to the saurus blocks: they’d be hard to shift from there. Gonzalo seized the initiative and went for a drop for the first turn. That in turn meant that I could counterdeploy and the first thing to do was make sure that the Ramphodons couldn’t fly behind my lines.


    We ended up with weighed flanks for me, my big blocks facing each a unit of ramphodons and a unit of Caimans. In the center, I kept as many chaff-like units, to try and block the saurian infantry from pushing outwards and crushing my big blocks while the Ramphodons and Caimans kept them occupied. The Lance centaurs were drunk, and the big unit sober.




    For magic, the Skink Priest picked Awaken the Beast and Insect Swarm, while the Quatl went with Fireball, Healing Waters, Quickilver Lash, Spectral Blades, Know thy Enemy and Spark of Life. My soothsayer opted for Healing Waters, Master of Earth, Stoneskin and Summer Growth.The gargoyles found a cozy place 18” away from all enemies behind their lines and scouted there. The Ramphodons unsurprisingly marked my big centaurs and the wildhorns. The Chameleons scouted inside the forest opposite my wildhorns, and the battle horns were sounded!



    TURN 1 – Saurian Ancients


    First turn movement was cautious from the SA: the ramphodons found a spot out of the wildhorn’s arc of sight to the right, while the chameleons and spearbacks moved up to pepper the centaurs with arrows. In the middle the Warriors and Temple Guard both moved up, while the ramphodons to the left backed away from my centaurs.

    In magic I witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of the SA magic phase, even on the card “1”. Swarm of Insects and Spark of creation both went off, putting two wounds to my minotaurs to the left and killing a feral hound respectively. Shooting was greatly hampered by the Dark Rain, still a Centaur died to poisoned blowpipe shots to the right, and two feral hounds died to the skink chief’s magical bow: they passed their leadership with the general’s help.




    TURN 1 – Beast Herds


    The fact that my feral hounds were still alive enabled me to make a push for the flanks: the left centaurs spotted the Ramphodons 19” away and declared that long charge, making it in. The rightmost centaurs fell upon the chameleons, since the Saurians had truly trapped them: I figured that taking the 160 points of the chameleons would be a fair trade!


    Gaining momentum from the successful centaur charge to the left, the Centaurs + BSB were now able to push forward aggressively, past the Saurian Warriors’ arc of sight and in front of the Caimans, hoping to collapse that flank on the following turn. The Feral Hounds jumped in front of the Temple Guard to keep them occupied while the wildhorns and gargoyles both… [Read More]
  • So after the sound beating we took by the French, we were going up against team Ukraine. These guys have been around for quite some time, and they’ve made their presence felt both at the ETC (6th last year) and in other international events. Our team strategy against them revolved around getting as many good matches as possible, which meant that yours truly had to be thrown under the bus a bit: this usually happens when one player’s estimation matrix is not good enough to guarantee a favorable matchup, and means that he’s instead used to draw a bad game away from the teammates.


    Team Ukraine’s lists were a mix of very defensive lists capable of point denial, with a couple of very aggressive armies tacked on. I’d be facing one of the latter, the Sylvan Elves of Artem @Artem Kurhanskii.




    I was intrigued by this army, because it combined elements that I am a big fan of (namely the bladedancers and the kestrels backed up by Shamanism and Cosmology) with some lesser used entries such as the Shapeshifters, as well as the Sacred Seeds/Mist Walker combo. I had rated this as a bad matchup, but was relatively optimistic about my chances of picking up the objective for the round, which was hold the ground.


    How does one deal with such an aggressive vanguard army? I thought about this a bit prior to the game, and I decided that stealing the initiative against a vanguarding army that moves 2-3” more than me and strikes first across the board was not possible. So instead my path to victory would have to come from forcing combats that would be favorable to me in the long run, or by baiting the enemy into losing positions.


    I got to pick sides, and opted for the one with the hill. My opponent then dropped his entire army for the first turn, which allowed me to counterdeploy and close off any passage to my backline for the kestrels and the vanguarding shapeshifters. I expected the SE to rush me so as to prevent the wildhorns from getting to the central objective, but there was no way around that, just hoping that my countermeasures worked.


    (deployment picture was forgotten, so here's a mockup based on the first turn pic - Spoilers!)



    For magic, I picked Healing Waters, Master of Earth, Stoneskin and Summer Growth, while my opponent opted for Ice and Fire/Perception of Strength and Beast Awakens/ Totemic Summon/ Break the spirit and the SE hereditary spell.



    TURN 1 – SE


    Artem wasted no time messing around: the Shapeshifter chieftain moved up in front of my Wildhorns, plonked the Sacred Seed forest down, and the Dancer unit teleported right in front of my general! The Shapeshifter prince moved up to block my rightmost minotaurs from aiding in that fight, while both kestrels used their 30” move to relocate to the center of the board and threaten big parts of my army. The heath hunters formed a conga that blocked half my left side in place, and the scorers just kept up, staying out of charge range for the time being. With the Dark Rain up, shooting only killed a single centaur, while magic managed to boost the teleporting Dancers with +1 Strength.




    TURN 1 – Beast Herds


    To say that I had the SE where I wanted them would be a stretch, but I was relatively happy with the position in the board: the dancers had used their mirror, and two key SE characters were exposed. So I went ahead with my pre-formulated plan: the minotaurs charged into the Shapeshifter Prince to pin him down, their counterparts on the other side charged the Heath Hunter chaff, and the Beastlord on foot charged solo into the Bladedancer unit: if the dancers have one weakness, it’s dealing with cowboys. I aligned him opposite the BSB, knowing that I’d get a champion for the first round of combat but that I’d get the BSB on the following one. Finally, the Gargoyles spotted the kestrel flank 19” away and went for it, sadly failing: completing that charge would make my life much easier by pinning the birds down for a turn, enough time for the Beastlord in chariot to wheel around and charge them.


    So with the charges all done, I had to deal with the elephant in the room: two kestrel… [Read More]
  • On the second round of the tournament we came across the Relentless Company. This name might not ring any bells to you, but it’s an alias for the Enfants du Sud team, of French ETC glory. We’ve faced Benji and his mates multiple times in international tournaments, they are always contenders for the podium and offer us great and challenging rounds of T9A. Now they have expanded their project to encompass the whole of France instead of just the southern parts, and they are the favorites in the race for the 2021 French team nomination.


    The Beasts had some good matchups and some bad matchups, but we decided as an overall strategy to not protect them, in order to get good games elsewhere. So I ended up fighting @damsetoi and his Daemon Legions:


    damsetoi wrote:

    950 - Vanadra's Scourge, Wizard (Wizard Adept, evocation), Living Shield, centiped legs, Brimstone Secretions, Whipcrack Tail
    850 - Omen 490, général 40, WM 225 taumaturgy, brimestone sécrétion 25, bronze backbone 30, hammer hand 40
    295 - 10 Succubi, Smothering Coils, Champion
    295 - 10 Succubi, Smothering Coils, Champion
    295 - 10 Succubi, Smothering Coils, Champion
    270 - 10 lemures, unatural roots, Banner, musician
    300 - Blazing Glory, Cloven Hooves
    300 - Blazing Glory, Cloven Hooves
    200 - 5 Sirens, Centipede Legs
    195 - 5 Sirens
    175 - 2 Mageblight Gremlins
    375 - 3 Veil Serpents, Champion
    4500


    So essentially a list that can be broken up in three separate parts: the single models (fast, hard hitting, can take my units or characters one-on-one), the fast support (chaff but also capable of hurting my smaller units with their higher agility) and then the scoring core. I find facing such an army interesting, because on paper nothing’s in the beasts’ favor, yet there is almost always a way to get the upper hand, if you play your cards right.


    The secondary objective here would be Capture the Flags, and our deployment was Counterthrust. The Soothsayer picked Healing Waters, Master of Earth, Summer Growth and Stoneskin, and the Daemons ended up with Spectral Blades/Whispers of the Veil on the Scourge, Hand of Heaven, Smite the Unbeliever, Cleansing Fire and Wrath of God for the Omen, while the Veil Serpents picked Deceptive Glamour and Twisted Effigy.


    Keeping my scorers safe against the daemons would be a challenge, and for that reason I opted for mobility over hitting power for the centaurs: they all would start the game sober, hopefully helping out in controlling the single models of the daemons.

    We exchanged the typical three drops of Counterthrust, then my opponent dropped his entire army to get the first turn. I was happy that he did so, as counterdeploying was essential to my plan. The daemonic positioning gave me two options: either go for the scorers head-on, and give the Scourge and Blazing Glories the room to maneuver and come crushing into my flank, or focus on the single monsters while keeping the scoring occupied.




    I opted for the latter, and ended up with a refused flank deployment, with the chariot Beastlord and a single Centaur unit occupying the weak flank. The abundance of terrain on the table meant that I could keep my Soothsayer in the middle, away from the action, and still be able to cast spells. I couldn’t risk having Mageblight Gremlins in my backfield right at the moment when I’d be initiating my attack.


    TURN 1 – Daemon Legions


    My opponent found a position out of the chariots’ arc of sight to land the Scourge, and went for an aggressive position from which he could see most of my army. The Blazing Glories stayed on either side of the building, to keep the centaurs from outflanking the daemons. The rest of the DL army maneuvered cautiously, the Omen relocating towards the right side of the board, to threaten my Beastlord.

    The first magic phase was a preview of what the full force of the DL magic can do; I had to dispel the boosted Hand of heaven on my centaurs, unwilling to give up a scoring unit that early in the game. This allowed the Omen to cast Wrath of God in the middle of my units, and also to put a boosted Twisted Effigy on my Soothsayer.




    TURN 1 – Beast Herds


    Starting turn 1 with a comet about to drop and a Scourge about to charge is bad news, but I figured I needed to stick to the plan: Both centaur units on the left pushed forward, away from the comet and in a position to threaten the Blazing Glories. The Wildhorns and minotaurs maneuvered to create a trap for the Scourge, and the dogs stepped in front of him to lower his threat range by 1”. I then split my Soothsayer from his unit, and used the chariots and Gargoyles to create a Gremlin-free zone around him. On the right hand side, the Beastlord moved up towards the scorers all alone, and the centaurs moved back to avoid any more magic missiles coming their way.

    In magic I only managed to cast the Oaken Throne, the rest of my spells failing or getting dispelled. The comet… [Read More]