The Beast Herds go to The Ocho - Game 4

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  • 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!

    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 Warriorsarc 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 made their moves towards the spearbacks and caimans to the right.With my flanking forces in good positions, I pulled my center a bit backwards to avoid any surprises.

    In magic I managed to push the Blackwing Totem through on the Centaurs charging the Ramphodons, meaning they’d strike before the flyers. Then a Master of Earth put two wounds on the Spearbacks, who passed their panic check.

    In the centaur-ramphodon fight, the centaurs struck first and dropped two of the flyers, only taking a single wound in return. The lizards fled and were cut down, their assailants pursuing off the board. The chameleon fight didn’t go that well though: only 3 chameleons died, in return for a single centaur: they fled, but outran the centaurs!

    TURN 2 – Saurian Ancients

    The SA pushed back: the caimans charged into my BSB’s retinue to the left, and to the right they spotted the victorious centaur lancers and clipped their corner. The ramphodons passed their frenzy check and flew past my wildhorns and in the back of my lines, still threatening the wildhorn rear. The Temple Guard took the feral hound chaff they were offered. Finally, the Saurian Warriors maneuvered a bit, and the skink unit plus the spearbacks both turned around to deal with the gargoyles. The fleeing chameleons rallied.

    In magic I had to let through a very high roll of Awaken the Beast on caimans fighting my BSB, as well as the Oaken Throne and a 4++ Healing Waters on the Saurian Warriors. That left me with just enough dice to dispel the Swarm of Insects against the Gargoyles. In shooting the Gargoyles took a couple of casualties from the shooting, but they amazingly passed their panic check!

    Combat saw the feral hounds die, the centaur lancers, too (the caimans didn’t overrun into the Wildhorns, opting to pivot instead). In the most important fight, the Caimans with S7 swung at my BSB and scored only 2 wounds, out of which I saved one. The rest of the attacks dropped a couple of centaurs, and then the centaurs retaliated and wiped out the unit! That left my BSB’s retinue open to pivot, and they obliged, turning to face the juicy Saurian Warrior flank.

    TURN 2 – Beast Herds

    That stroke of good luck couldn’t be left unexploited: the beastlord on chariot, Chariots and my centaurs all charged into the saurus warriors, who finally opted to flee. A short flee would see them destroyed, but they rolled the 5+ needed to go through. I had an 11+ swift chance to go into the skinks’ rear and overrun/pursue into the fleeing saurian warriors, but it was failed. The 3 remaining gargoyles charged into the spearbacks in front of them, and the wildhorns charged the victorious caimans, oblivious to the Ramphodons flapping their wings behind them.

    The rest of the movement was just moving in position to support the beastlord on chariot, now stranded in the middle with a full unit of temple guard staring at him. Magic succeeded in putting a wound on the Ramphodons, while also boosting the Wildhorns with Stone Skin.

    In combat the wildhorns routed the caimans but failed to catch them, falling into the flank of the chameleons. The charging Gargoyles killed a Spearback and took a couple of wounds back. The final Gargoyle sent the Spearback packing, but failed to catch it.

    TURN 3 – Saurian Ancients

    With both flanks taken care of, my opponent needed to push up the middle. Both the Temple Guard and the Ramphodons had charges on my Beastlord on Chariot, and after pondering for a while I decided that -tempting as holding might be- I had to flee that charge: with Spectral Blades, Healing Waters and Awaken the Beast available to the Quatl, and the Throne already in play, that was a losing fight. So the Beastlord fled from the Ramphodons first, then was pushed further back by the temple guard. Both rolls were thankfully high enough to ensure that he didn’t get caught nor block any of my charges on the following turn.

    In other news, both the Caimans and the Spearbacks up top failed to rally: the caimans fled off the board, and the spearbacks came very close to it too! The Saurian Warriors predictably rallied though, and turned to face my forces about to swing around the temple guard’s flank.

    In the magic phase I had some hard choices: I let through the Healing Waters on the Temple Guard, settling for dispelling the Spectral Blades on them. Combat was swift: the Wildhorns dealt with the three remaining chameleons and pivoted to face the Temple Guard rear.

    TURN 3 – Beast Herds

    Here the opportunity was too great to pass up: the wildhorns had a rear charge into the temple guard (first they charged the skink chief interposing himself between them and the TG, but the angle of their pivot on the previous turn combined with the impassable would force the skink chief to close the door and give them an even better overrun. So he fled, and they successfully redirected into the temple guard’s rear. The Minotaurs near the hill spotted the flank of the same unit and went in, while the chariots had a 17” charge into the Ramphodons, which they took. Finally, the Gargoyle charged the fleeing spearback off the table. All of the charges made it in, putting the saurians into a very precarious position.

    The Razortusk Beastlord rallied, and the centaur contingent moved up aggressively to block the Skink unit, thus pinning the saurian warriors right behind; the temple guard were now on their own for at least two game turns. My magic phase was focused on buffing the flanking minotaurs, so as to keep them alive for as long as possible: their being in that flank prevented the Temple Guard from reforming after combat. My opponent stopped the Regen and I managed to cast Stoneskin on them.

    In the ensuing combats, the chariots crushed the Ramphodons and pivoted to face the big combat, while in the big fight my general had to fight a champion and the rest of the units took some wounds but dropped another 6 Temple Guard despite the Regen. The lizards held their ground, but were pinned in place, allowing my general to move into contact with the Quatl.

    TURN 4 -Saurian Ancients

    The options for the saurians were limited. The skink chief rallied, and the saurian warriors swift reformed and moved up to the longhorns right behind them. The skinks kept on blocking the centaurs.

    Magic was yet again very hard to handle: the Spectral Blades were cast on the temple guard, and Awaken the Beast went through on the skink braves, as well as the Insect Swarm on the small centaur lancers (it killed two).I then failed to stop the regeneration, too!In shooting the S4 AP1 poisoned javelins dropped four of my centaurs with GW,making the prospect of charging into the skinks a bad idea.

    Combat was still touch-and-go for the beasts: the temple guard, bolstered by the spectral blades, put a wound on my general, killed some wildhorns and also put 2 wounds on the flanking minotaurs. I tried to snipe the quatl with my wildhorn attacks and my general, but only managed a single wound due to regeneration. The minotaurs came to the rescue, killing enough Temple Guard to win combat and keep the depleted unit into place.

    TURN 4 – Beast Herds

    The minotaurs charged the rallied skink chief, who fled once more, then redirected into the flank of the skink braves. The Beastlord on chariot crushed into the front of the Temple Guard. The rest of the units just maneuvered into position. In magic I only managed to cast the Blooded Horn totem on the wildhorns: what was more important than defense was killing that Quatl, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about another magic phase.

    Alas, that was not to be: the wildhorns fluffed and the beastlord saw the 5 wounds dealt reduced to a single one due to very good fortitude saves on the Quatl’s part. The rest of my attacks left the temple guard at 9 strong, although the Beastlord on chariot took a beating, staying alive with two wounds remaining.

    The minotaurs killed some skinks, but they steadfastly held their ground and reformed.

    TURN 5 – Saurian Ancients

    The Saurian Warriors charged the Longhorns, who fled off the board, leaving them stranded. The magic phase that ensued was less eventful than the previous one: Healing Waters was stopped and Spectral Blades failed to cast, leaving the remaining Temple Guard with +1 Strength.

    That proved not to be enough: the Beastlord and co managed to kill the Quatl this turn, and the chariot lord even stayed alive with a single wound remaining. The last couple of Temple Guard fled and were cut down by the chariot. The skinks fighting the minotaurs were also routed.

    TURN 5-6

    With just the saurian block remaining, practically, and with it looking the wrong way, I settled for healing my Centaurs and Razortusk chariot using Druidism magic, thus saving victory points, while also chasing down the Skink Priest with the chariot lord and the skink chief with my lance centaurs.

    In the end the only unit remaining for the saurians was the Warriors, unscathed but very alone. That was enough to guarantee a 20-0 victory for the Beast Herds!


    That went according to plan! The rear charge from the wildhorns into the Temple Guard was a beastlord’s wet dream, and even though it took a lot of combat phases to finally drop the mage, as long as the flanking units held on it was a foregone conclusion.

    Gonzalo rightly pointed out that it was the long centaur charge on my first turn that opened up the game, and that failing that would have seen the battle go very differently: what’s for sure is that it would have forced me to keep forces back to deal with the ramphodons, instead of allowing me to crush that flank by turn 2. That’s the advantage of playing with so many units, you sometimes can spare 200 points for a 1-in-6 chance of winning the game.

    Accordingly, breaking the caimans on the turn that they charged my BSB’s unit was pivotal, since it allowed me a flank charge that my opponent just couldn’t sit and take, even with R4 regenerating saurus warriors.

    I was very impressed by the quality of the saurian magic phase, Protean magic seems like a good fit for the Quatl with +2 to cast. It’s not every day that you see a mage push through 4-5 spells per phase. One might say that the Soothsayer could do the same thing with the Seed of the Dark forest, but you’ll never catch me spending more than 500 points on magic anyway! (hmm… Evocation/Druidism double master? Is that too much? )

    The rest of the team had mixed success: a couple of dicey games went wrong, and in the end we ended up with the slightest of victories, for a final score of 81-79 !

    That was good enough to keep us around the middle of the pack, where we’d face our next-door neighbors, the Dutch!

    805 times read

Comments 7

  • TJKL -

    Great written reports, I very much enjoy reading them! Looking forward to the next one already! :)

  • Dancaarkiiel -

    Going for a Centaur BSB turned out to be far too greedy and I'm pretty sure it lost the game for SA. Collapsing entire flank, making SWs flee and rendering them irrelevant for the rest of the game (flee pathing and being blocked by braves) and leaving TGs on their own. Also pushing with TGs instead of reforming for CR and backing off (easily doable with impassable) while there's stuff everywhere around you doesn't seem like a great idea.
    gg wp

    • SmithF -

      Hey! Very astute observation (See my post below about the caimans/BSB fight)
      He attempted to charge my BL with TG, but I agree that it was a bad idea. I think that he didn't see that Wildhorn post-combat pivot until after the charge phase, which is why he tried to block it with his skink chief.
      I agree that keeping his forces packed and well-supported while only exposing his front would have made the game easier for him.

  • AxelVicious -

    Awesome report as always. I wish my centaurs were as good as yours! I could only dream of killing 4 caiman in one go.

    • SmithF -

      Ha, I got a bit lucky there! But it's also the beauty of that big unit: even if you get charged, you get a ton of S6 attacks with reroll to hit.The odds of the centaurs killing the caimans outright is close to 85%, as long as enough models survive to strike in two ranks.

      So the right play here would have been to go for the unit and not for my BSB; the more centaurs you kill, the less likely it is that the caiman block will pop.

  • Marchosias -

    Thank you very much for the report! And for all other ones for which I haven't thanked you specifically, too. :)

    Do you think it would have made any difference if your opponent had played the northern ramphodons differently? I was expencting him to turn them towards the hill, to threaten with flank charges against your minotaurs or chariots or try to hunt your mage. I imagine that would have forced you to stay back a bit, giving him a bit more breathing space.

    • SmithF -

      Thanks for the comment, I'm glad you like these!

      I think what's missing to help complete the picture is the turn 2 SA movement pic. He used them to zone me, which truly forced me to hang back with the one of the mino units. I think he was expecting the Caimans to hold up the Wildhorns, thus enabling the Ramphodons to countercharge. He was also probably not very confident in the Ramphos' ability to pass Frenzy (they did, though!), so keeping the wildhorns in his sights was not a bad idea from that standpoint. If you fail, might as well go for the rear or flank of that big unit against which you get extra attacks and that's conveniently out of BSB's range.

      Also, facing the hill would give me another turn to try and bait them into something they didn't want to fight (for example the BL on chariot, solo), while also hiding my soothsayer's block out of LoS.

      Ultimately, I think that the Ramphos would have been better used as "mainline" units in this game. Keep them close to the quatl, easier to pass frenzy and with good support spells while zoning huge parts of my army. In the flanks, they are easier to misdirect or outright kill.