Social Distancing 2020 - Game 6

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  • So for the last game of the tournament we got to play Team K. , which brought together players from Poland and the Czech Republic. They had brought Barbarian-heavy Warriors of the Dark Gods, MSU DH, MSU KoE and Mercenary-heavy Ogre Khans. My opponent would be Marek, a UB regular and ETC player for the Czech Republic. We’ve played games before, and they are always challenging and fun. He had brought a list that I found interesting and with a lot of potential:


    Marek wrote:

    660 - Duke, Pegasus, Shield (Fortress of Faith), Lance, Bastard Sword, Crusader's Salvation, Obsidian Rock, Might, Questing Oath and Bastard Sword
    545 - Damsel, Equitan Unicorn, Wizard Master, Shamanism, Magical Heirloom, Talisman of the Void
    315 - Paladin, Barded Warhorse, Shield, Battle Standard Bearer (Aether Icon), Lance, Daring, Grail Oath
    275 - 6 Knights of the Realm, Standard Bearer
    275 - 6 Knights of the Realm, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    245 - 5 Knights Aspirant, Standard Bearer
    825 - 9 Knights of the Grail, Standard Bearer (Banner of Speed), Musician, Champion
    135 - 5 Yeoman Outriders, Shield, Light Armour, Throwing Weapons
    135 - 5 Yeoman Outriders, Shield, Light Armour, Throwing Weapons
    354 - 3 Pegasus Knights, Loose Formation, Champion
    4499




    So a full MSU KoE list supported by a Pegasus Duke and a solid unit of Grail knights. Looking at the list, the first thing I noticed was the lack of musicians on the small knight units: while this is understandable as it would cost a lot of points just to put musicians on these, I figured I’d be able to exploit it to force favorable combats and take the small units apart using my ambushers and fliers.


    The main threat in the list was of course the Questing Pegasus lord that could effectively zone my Jabberwocks and could potentially killany of my characters if in a combined charge with the grails or the Pegasus knights. We would get to play Secure Target and Counterthrust, meaning that our armies would be even closer together.

    I expected the cavalry to be upon me by turn 2, so I decided that I’d have to use the objectives to split the knights’ forces, hopefully isolating scoring units with low discipline from the main leadership bubble; that would allow my jabberwocks to overwhelm them, leaving my ambushers free to claim the objective. My opponent won the roll of sides, and picked the side with a sizeable hill inside the deployment zone. It was clear that the Pegasus block or the Grail unit would sit atop this and threaten long charges on my units, so instead of dropping for the first turn (which I wasn’t that keen on having, anyway) I opted for alternate drops.


    We had this back-and-forth for a while, and in the end we ended up with a heavily weighed left flank for the KoE, against a powerful center with the “weak side” protected by the building. The Jabberwocks were both near the impassable terrain pieces, hoping to exploit any blind spots and put the pressure on the knights’ advance early on. I won the roll for the turn and opted to play second: this might seem odd, but the unit placement meant that I’d have to use my chaff early on if I wanted to push, while the KoE would get to keep theirs for later during the game. By giving my opponent the first turn I’d force him to use his redirectors, while also retaining the possibility for late-game objective claiming. (picture taken after my opponent's deployment, expertly edited to give you an idea of how the KoE deployed: the Realm Knights were actually more to the side, see red cross next to impassable)




    In magic, I went for the usual: Echoes of the Dark Forest, Spectral Blades, Whispers of the Veil. Th Shamanism Damsel picked Breath of the Lady, Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Totemic Summon and Break the Spirit.


    TURN 1 – Kingdom of Equitaine


    The Grail Knights opened the game by trying the double 6 charge into my feral hounds, with an overrun into the Longhorns (and barely out of the Wildhorns’ arc). Although casualties would have been tremendous, I figured the risk was relatively low. The Grails failed and moved upon the hill with their failed charge move. The Yeomen advanced, blocking my Feral Hounds (and Longhorns right behind). The rest of the movement was overall a cautious advance up the left flank, with a notable yeoman/aspirant alignment that prevented my Jabberwock from charging the knights.

    In the magic phase I let the Swarm of Insects through on the Razorgors, losing a model. The Totemic Summon was then dispelled. Two Feral hounds died to yeomen throwing weapons, but they held their ground.




    TURN 1 – Beast Herds


    With part of my battleline blocked, I decided that stalling in the middle and left flank was not a bad idea. The weak part of the enemy formation was the right flank (only a single unit of Aspirants) and the middle (two Realm Knight units without musicians). So I came up with a plan: the Mongrels moved as fast as possible towards the Aspirants, looking to deal with these fast enough – I figured that I’d need my magic in the middle of the board at some point, but couldn’t risk a Ld6 failed panic/break from the Mongrels that would see me lose the scenario. The longhorns and Jabberwock used the enemy chaff as a shield, effectively preventing any enemy charges on them for the following turn. Using the Hunting Call, I brought an ambushing longhorn unit right behind the Realm Knights, with a trap in mind:

    The pigs were shoved forward, tempting a charge by both Realm Knights: if they failed (or if the pigs fled) they’d be open to countercharges by the Chariots and ambushing Longhorns. The initial plan was for the razortusks to flee the second charge, but this changed in the magic phase: my opponent dispelled the Blooded Horn, but couldn’t stop the Blackwing Totem, nor a boosted Spectral Blades on them.




    TURN 2 – Kingdom of Equitaine


    Both Realm Knights charged the boosted Razorgors, and they chose to stand their ground: One unit failed, leaving their fellow knights alone in the fight. The yeomen charged into the Feral Hounds, and the Pegasus lord flew over the building and threatened the flank of my infantry blocks. The rest of the units edged forward on the left flank, threatening my forces in the center.

    Magic was largely uneventful: the Damsel was too far away from the Realm Knights, so had to settle for an Awaken the Beast on the charging Yeomen. Break the Spirit on the Razortusks was dispelled.

    In combat the Yeomen killed a single feral hound for no casualties back: I opted to use the Hounds’ own discipline, fled and freed up my Longhorns for turn 2 charges. The Razortusks struck before the charging knights, killing five of them right away. The survivor struck back and wounded the Razortusks once, then broke from combat and fled, getting ran down.




    TURN 2 – Beast Herds


    After the spectacular performance of the Razortusks on the previous round, I had a lot of possibilities. Thanks to the Blackwing Totem, they had now an easy charge into the aspirant unit beside the Grails (they’d force the knights to close the door due to the building). This was interesting because not only it would deal with a scoring unit near the objective, but it would block the Grail Knights’ charge for the following turn too.

    So I went for it. The ambushing Longhorns fell into the flank of the remaining Realm Knights, the Mongrels tried a long charge against the aspirants to the right, and the Jabberwock charged the Aspirants right in front of it; the Pegasus lord’s positioning meant that the Aura of Madness would drop the Aspirant’s Discipline to 7 for the panic check (without a reroll), and any Fear and Break test would be taken at Discipline 6. Finally, the big Longhorn unit charged into the victorious Yeomen, and they opted to flee, landing all the way back near the table edge. The longhorns redirected into the Grail Knights for a hail Mary charge.


    The long charges failed, but the Razortusks, ambushing longhorns and Jabberwock all made it. The aspirants passed their Terror check. In remaining moves the second ambushing unit appeared to threaten both the grail rear and the last remaining aspirant unit on that side.

    Magic was way less eventful this time, only succeeding in putting Blooded Horn on the charging Razortusks.


    In combat things initially went as planned: the flanking Longhorns killed 3 Realm Knights before they could strike and forced them to break; they fled through 2 of my units and the Building and died to DTs. The Razortusks killed 4 aspirants on the charge, only losing a single wound in return: I failed to catch the survivor, but he’d eventually flee off the board.

    Finally, the Jabberwock combat: the Aspirants passed their Fear test, which meant that I had to -reluctantly- use my Breath Weapon on thatturn; Without it I was not sure I’d be able to win the combat, which was crucial. In the end I only managed to deal a single unsaved wound, for none in return. The Jabber won combat, but the knights passed yet another Discipline 5 test, to my dismay; the Jabberwock was now in serious trouble.




    TURN 3 – Kingdom of Equitaine


    The grail knights charged into the Razortusks, and the Pegasus Lord fell into the Longhorn flank. To the left the Yeomen rear charged the Jabberwock and to my surprise the rightmost Aspirants charged right into my Mongrels’ spears. Finally, the Pegasus knights charged my victorious ambushers: I fled, forcing the Pegasus knights to land right in front of my wildhorns and chariot.


    All of the chargers made it in, then the last remaining knight unit performed a rather spectacular U turn and managed to come within 1” of my ambushing Longhorns, forcing a clip if they wanted to charge on the following turn. (KoE and their hypermobile lances!)

    In magic I had to let through the Breath of the Lady on the Grail Knights, sealing the razortusks’ fate, as well as Awaken the Beast on the aspirants fighting the Jabberwock. I then dispelled Break the Spirit on my Wildhorns.


    The yeomen charging into the Jabberwock passed their Fear test, which didn’t help its case: It only managed to kill a single charging peasant, took no less than 3 wounds back, broke and was ran down by the knights aspirant. The Pegasus Lord got challenged out by the Longhorns’ champion, who soaked the tremendous damage of the virtue of Might. The longhorns lost combat but were stubborn at Discipline 9, and they thankfully passed their test. However, when it came to the combat reform I failed the same 9 rerollable, and couldn’t reform to face the Pegasus, nor to gain rank bonus
    .

    The grail knights dealt an impressive 12 wounds to the Razortusks, leaving a single survivor alive on one wound. Boosted by the Blooded Horn totem the pig managed to put a single wound to the paladin, then fled; the grails restrained their pursuit and the pig fled all the way to the back.

    In the only bright moment of the turn for the Beasts, the mongrels killed all of the Aspirants before the knights could strike, and pivoted to face the center.




    TURN 3 – Beast Herds


    So after a good beast turn 2, things had slightly taken a turn for the worse: the Jabberwock guarding the left objective was no more, and the ambushing Longhorns had to contend themselves with a 2 vs 2 fight against the Aspirants, with another unit of knights awaiting for the countercharge.


    The good news was that the Gargoyles were still alive and well, which gave me charging options against the Grails without fear of retaliation. The Chariots charged into the Pegasus knights right in front of my Wildhorns, and they elected to flee. They were then pushed further back by the Wilhorns, to land right in front of the second aspirant unit that was threatening the ambushers, effectively blocking them. Both units redirected into the Grail Knights, for a 9+ and 10+ charge respectively.

    The ambushing Longhorns now charged into the Aspirants, with an overrun path right into the fleeing pegasi. In remaining moves, the Jabberwock advanced towards the center of the board, looking to threaten any units that would try to get close to that objective. The Gargoyles passed their march check and landed right in front of the grails.


    In magic the soothsayer was too far to cast spells, but the Totem Bearer managed to cast Gnarled Hide on his unit (the Blooded Horn was dispelled).

    Combat was somewhat of a success: The Pegasus Lord challenged my BSB to a duel, and I accepted knowing that the Gnarled Hide would keep him relatively safe. The Duke dealt one wound and the Chieftain retaliated with a wound of his own. The Longhorns won combat and the Duke failed his break test (BSB too far away, still). He fled, and escaped pursuit. The Yeomen nearby panicked, and would later flee off the board.

    The charging Longhorns passed Primal Instinct and managed to deal 3 wounds to the Aspirants with their 4 attacks. 3 successful armour saves later, the Aspirants retaliated: one wound was caused, stripping them of their rank. I lost combat by one, fled and was cut down in pursuit. Oops.




    TURN 4 – Kingdom of Equitaine


    With the Grails about to walk into an obvious trap if they charged, my adversary wisely declined my offering. The Yeomen and the fleeing aspirant both fled off the board, and the fleeing Pegasus Knights failed to rally and carried on fleeing. The Pegasus Lord did rally though.

    The BSB and Damsel both bailed from the Grails, and the unit itself moved back, putting the Jabberwock into its front and a good amount of distance between the knights and my units.


    The rest of the movement was mainly aimed at keeping the scorers away from the jabberwock (and the Damsel away from the Jabberwock’s breath weapon).

    In magic I kept my dice to dispel Break the Spirit on the Longhorns, thus letting through Awaken the Beast on the Pegasus lord as well as Swarm of Insects on the Gargoyles blocking the grail knights (it killed two of them but they passed their panic).

    TURN 4 – Beast Herds


    The way I saw this, I was fine with the Grails playing chicken: my Longhorns charged into the Pegasus Lord and they made it in, while the Gargoyles carried on blocking the grail knights, with all of my remaining units in the center forming a semi-circle around them. The Longhorns were also conveniently close to the objective marker. The Soothsayer still remained inside the mongrels: at this point panic protection against spells was far more important than any spells I could cast, and the longhorns were too far away to be boosted anyway. Finally, the Jabberwock relocated towards the objective: with its breath weapon still available it would be able to force a panic check on scorers, or even prevent them from closing in just by its presence.


    Which brings us to the magic phase: I got the big phase, which meant that both the Gnarled hide and the Blooded horn were easily dispelled. I did get the Clouded Eye totem on the Longhorns, though, so I wouldn’t have to worry about Break the Spirit on the following turn. Finally, the Wildhorns were boosted with the Blackwing Totem, ready for the turn 5 charge.


    In combat the Duke challenged once more: with S7 now and no protection for my BSB, I opted to refuse. The longhorns struck at the Equitanian lord and dealt another wound, bringing him down to a single wound remaining. He retaliated, and got a perfect roll (granted 3+ rr1s and 2+ rr1s is not exactly improbable). I lost combat, but was Steadfast. Cue a failed Break Test, and the Longhorns went running for the hills. The Pegasus Lord ran them down, and landed in the perfect spot to threaten my Jabberwock’s rear! (pictur taken after my opponent's charge moves)




    TURN 5 – Kingdom of Equitaine


    The Pegasus Duke continued rampaging, charging my remaining Jabberwock in the rear. With 1000+ points handed to the KoEand the objective now tied, the Grails felt no need to engage my units. Instead, they swift reformed and moved 9” thanks to the banner of speed, comfortably landing behind the hill and safe from both the Wildhorns and the Chariots. Finally, the BSB and Damsel both joined the scoring aspirants near the objective marker. The fleeing Pegasus Knights rallied.

    Magic started off with a high casting roll for Totemic Beast, which I failed to dispel. The beast appeared near the mongrels and would potentially cause problems in the closing steps of the game.

    I then dispelled the rest.

    The Jabberwock didn’t even get a chance to strike: the charging Duke slaughtered it and pivoted on the spot.


    TURN 5 – Beast Herds


    After that turn of events, I didn’t have many options left. The Gargoyles flew right in front of the scoring aspirants, ensuring that the knights would have to perform a reform to get within range of the objective. I then advanced my Razortusk chariot as far forward as possible, giving it a potential long charge into said reformed knights. The Wildhorns pivoted to face the Pegasus lord, and the Raiding chariots also advanced slightly. The Mongrels turned to face the incoming Totemic Beast.

    In magic I tried to put spectral blades on my mongrels, but it was dispelled. This left me with enough dice to put Gnarled hide on my Wildhorns and lower the resilience of the Totemic Summon to 4 with the Whispers of the veil.




    TURN 6


    The paladin BSB charged into my gargoyles, and the aspirants took the 10+ charge into my razortusk chariot, and made it in. The Pegasus lord had to remain in front of my Wildhorns so as to prevent a reform that would bring them within range of the secondary objective.

    The totemic summon failed to reach the Mongrels, and also failed to kill enough with the Breath Weapon in the shooting phase to force a panic. In magic, I focused on stopping Break the Spirit on my Wildhorns, and thus let through both Breath of the Lady and Awaken the beast on the charging aspirants.


    Needless to say, the Razortusk chariot was turned into kindling by the boosted knights, and the charging paladin also made short work of the Gargoyles.


    In the closing steps of the game, the only thing left for me to do was to charge the half-dead Pegasus lord with my Wildhorns. In magic I put Gnarled Hide into them, which meant that when the Duke got to strike he could not cause any wounds. In return, my Beastlord dealt 3 wounds at AP4, but all were saved by the Duke’s armour. The KoE general broke and fled, once again escaping pursuit and denying me a hefty chunk of points.





    The secondary objective was tied, but the Beasts had suffered heavy casualties and weren’t able to get the expensive parts of the Equitaine army: with a 1355 point difference, the game ended up being a 6-14 loss for the beasts.


    AFTERMATH


    Well, I would be lying if I said that this is the way I’d imagined the battle would unfold! But it was also a very good game with lots of backs-and-forths and good moves on my opponent’s part. Marek played well, and exhibited a cool-headedness when it came to handling my counter push and keeping his points safe.

    The key points that influenced the outcome would be :

    1. Side selection and secondary objectives: splitting the secondary tokens seems debatable in hindsight, given the way both of my Jabberwocks (who were supposed to guard said objective) failed miserably. But on the other hand, it did force the Equitaine to spread its forces, and assured at least an objective draw.
    2. Magic: This is in direct relation with (1). The Soothsayer had to stay with the mongrels, since they would be a liability on their own. But this meant that in the crucial magic phases he was too far to boost the Longhorns, which in turn meant that the Totems had a more difficult time going off.
    3. Leadership: We both played arguably two of the most psychology-susceptible armies in the entire tournament. While some break and rally tests were failed for the KoE, the defining moments show the contrast: the Aspirants passing consecutive Terror – Fear – Break on Ld6 against my Jabberwock, which began the crumble of the left flank on one hand. On the other the failed Ld9 crucial reform for the Longhorns vs the Pegasus, or the subsequent failed Ld8 break.
    4. The Pegasus combat: I was surprised my opponent took that charge, since I think that in the long run it’s a losing fight. With the Grails and other support units at least 2 turns away, it would mean that the Duke would be fighting a losing battle from round 2 onwards. Not being able to reform into ranks came back to haunt me when I charged the Duke : without the ranks to help out, the combat was lost and I ran.Looking back, losing that Pegasus fight was not at all improbable,but the alternative would have been worse in my mind – the rallied Pegasus lord could charge the Longhorns and I’d be either forced to flee or take potentially 10 wounds on the charge.
    5. The ambushing Longhorn vs Aspirants fight: bouncing off the aspirants hurt, but to be honest I didn’t believe that the movement of the aspirants would have ever been enough to reach that close to the longhorns. I keep underestimating the maneuverability of KoE Lances.

    In the end, it was a hard-fought game that could have gone way better for the beasts with better rolls at crucial moments. It underlined a lot of the weaknesses of such an army, which do not detract from its other qualities. But I’ll go into detail in my wrap-up post, where I’ll try to evaluate the various entries and the lessons I learned from taking a combination of the least played units in the BH book to one of the biggest tournaments of the year.


    With 3 more games still to be played, the hope for the team was not lost: it now was up to my teammates to bail us out once more!

    (Final wrap -up of the tournament to come sometime next week)

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Comments 1

  • Bobo -

    Yikes, that was tough to read. :( all these failed Ld tests are starting to get to me, Smith. Please cut it out.

    (thanks for the report, well played, etc. :P )