The Beast Herds go to The Ocho - Game 6

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  • 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 and went wide: having bigger arcs of sight was more important here, so as to make it harder for the elves to slip past them in the mid-game. The Wildhorns with the General and the (Sober) GW centaurs split up, threatening each of the two objective markers. My other centaur units started Drunk, thus further limiting my army’s susceptibility to panic, and making sure that the SE would have to waste shots to wipe them out instead of just hoping to panic them off the table.

    With the armies deployed, it was time for scouts: my Gargoyles found a spot on the top right corner, from which they would possibly be annoying for Jens. The Sentinels and Pathfinders split up, covering both flanks in an attempt to slow down my advance. The GW Centaurs vanguarded
    Close to the Treefather, hoping to bait him into charging.

    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    The Centaur BSB and his retinue sat under the Dark Rain, drinking their Booze, while the elves all around them scrambled into fighting and shooting positions: they formed an oblique line , careful to stay away from my units while still within range for shooting. The Dryads and treefather to the right advanced a bit to deter any aggressive moves from my general’s unit, and the Treefather to the left moved back, effectively blocking my centaurs from slipping past him. With the magic being rather uneventful (Oaken throne was cast and the Master of Earth was dispelled) we quickly moved on to shooting:
    There the Dark Rain made back its points, protecting my troops from the worst of it: only two centaurs from the Lancer unit to the right fell, as well as a single GW centaur on the left.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    It was clear that I wouldn’t win this fight by hanging back, so I went ahead and declared some long charges: the minotaurs to the left had a 10+ into the small dryads, their stepping stone into the SE backfield, and the Beastlord next to them had a 12+ rerollable for the same target. They both failed and stumbled forward. To the right, the Feral Hounds spotted the Sentinels and also charged, losing a single dog to the Stand and Shoot volley: that charge had a single goal, to pin the sentinels down for a turn, while my other fast troops maneuvered into position to assist. The dogs made it in, coming into contact with only 2 sentinels thanks to the unit’s depth and the impassable conveniently blocking maximization.

    The rest of the army edged forward, somewhat respecting the Treefathers and big dryads. The Gargoyles flew behind the big dryads, making sure that the wouldn’t be able to back away from my wildhorns, who came closer to them and well within charge range.

    In magic there was unfortunately no spell in range to help out the Feral Hounds, so I settled for Healing Waters on the minotaurs, followed by the Oaken throne, and finally also succeeding a 2-dice Master of Earth on the Pathfinders, that also went through: fortunately for the elves, only 2 wounds were caused, preventing an embarrassing panic check for the sylvan elite.

    My good luck didn’t continue in combat: the Sentinels attacked and killed 2 dogs, but the Hounds fluffed all of their attacks and lost combat by 1, then failed their break test and ran: one surviving dog moved past the impassable and would eventually flee off the table.

    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves

    The Elves were not pressed to engage, and settled for maneuvering instead; the archers and pathfinders to the left gave my GW centaurs a wide berth, the Treefather using the building to push up the middle of the board instead. The middle sentinels turned their attention to the Gargoyles, while the BSB, Druid and Prince general all formed a character unit in the middle, keeping everything within the Ld-bubble.

    In magic I dispelled the Throne and the Master of Stone, leaving my opponent with enough dice to cast Regrowth on the Pathfinders, resurrecting the two dead elves. Shooting this time was somewhat more effective, now that the rain had subsided: Five centaurs from my BSB’s retinue fell to the pathfinder/archer volley, the Sentinels to the right fluffed and only killed one lance centaur, but their counterparts in the middle made up for it by killing all of the gargoyles hiding inside the field. Finally, a couple of wounds were dealt on my leftmost minotaurs and my chariots.

    TURN 2 – Beast Herds

    So far so good, the Sylvan shooting at long range left a lot to be desired but I knew that I couldn’t keep it up for much longer: the beasts declared some more charges, this time with more success.
    The leftmost minotaurs and my beastlord on chariot both fell into the dryad dart, and the Wildhorns succeeded a mid-ranged charge into the big Dryad block; magical support would be hard to come by in that fight, so I had to hope that my Beastlord would be enough to tip the balance in my favor.

    With all of the charges connecting, that gave the rest of the army the signal to move forward. A unit of Longhorns appeared right behind the big Dryad block, ensuring that if the tree spirits fled from combat they’d most probably flee right off the board, and allow my Beastlord’s unit to pivot instead.

    The Druid used his binding scroll on the Stoneskin this turn, but I still had a good amount of options: the Wildhorn champion attempted to push through his Gnarled Hide totem but it was dispelled, then I failed a casting attempt on Healing Waters. That left me just enough dice to cast Regrowth on the big centaurs, getting two models back and healing the raiding chariots.

    The combined impacts from the Minotaurs and the charging chariot instantly killed half the unit, but the remaining models managed to drop two minotaurs, leaving the last member of the band to wipe out the forest spirits. The Beastlord overran into the treefather awaiting right behind. In the big infantry fight, the Dryads matched the Wildhorns blow for blow, and an impressive show of Aegis Saves meant that my General’s retinue only barely won combat. The dryads held their ground, and in the post-combat reform my wildhorns were forced to adopt a formation reminiscent of early 8th edition, going ten-wide to avoid the treefather charging their flank or the Pathfinder prince piling on in the front to tip the combat.

    TURN 3 – Sylvan Elves

    My post-combat reform had left the wildhorns’ flank open to a sentinel charge, but after a bit of thought my opponent decided against it (it was an 8+ and only 3 sentinels would get to fight). Instead, the sentinels maneuvered behind my small centaurs, and the rest of the SE army consolidated their position near the middle of their deployment zone.

    In the magic phase I had one goal: dispel Stoneskin. The throne went through, and then I was lucky enough to outdice my opponent in a 5v5 attempt at +3 Resilience on the dryads. With all of the archers now in short range, the shooting began to sting a bit more: to the left nine centaurs died, leaving my unit champion alive, the centaur lancers to the right finally died to the sentinels’ shots, and the Longhorns took no less than seven unsaved wounds from the Pathfinder Prince’s and Sentinels’ shots, but passed their panic check.

    Combat went better for the beasts: the charging Beastlord on chariot managed to deal two unsaved wounds on the tree, and dodged the incoming Crush attack. The treefather stubbornly refused to budge, though. The Dryads once more attacked the wildhorns, but this time around the combination of parry, R4 and -admittedly- a spectacularly bad roll for my opponent meant that only one Wildhorn died. The general and his buddies retaliated and killed six dryads, enough to send the unit fleeing off the board; the wildhorns succeeded their crucial restrain roll, and pivoted a bit to keep their options open for the next turn…

    TURN 3 – Beast Herds

    I couldn’t ask for a better opening: the Wildhorns charged into the flank of the sentinels with prince/ general inside, easily making it in thanks to Pack Tactics. The lone minotaur charged into the treefather/beastlord fight and made it in. The 3 minotaurs also attempted a long charge into the treefather’s flank but failed; finally, the Raiding Chariots spotted the Pathfinder flank some 19” away and went for the double 6, but fell an inch short!

    With the elven shooting contingent about to collapse, the lone GW centaur decided it was time to hide, and ducked for cover behind the building. The second ambushing longhorns refused to show up, meaning they’d no longer be scoring!

    In magic Stoneskin was once more bound, so I settled for Healing Waters on the charging minotaur, followed by Master of Earth on the leftmost Sylvan Archer unit (killed 2 of them). Regrowth was then easily dispelled.

    In the Treefather fight the big tree went for the charging minotaurs, and managed a single unsaved wound. The surviving minotaur was enraged by the loss, and retaliated dealing no less than 5 wounds: the tree crashed to the ground, and the Minotaur (a warlord in the making?) overran a bit forward. In the main fight, the charging wildhorns easily dispatched the sentinels after locking the prince in a duel: the Pathfinder prince fled off the board, leaving my Wildhorns free to pursue into the Druid’s Sylvan Archer retinue.

    TURN 4 – SE

    With the loss of his Druid imminent, my opponent focused on whittling down my scorers: The second treefather charged into the single minotaur, with an overrun path into my beastlord. The sentinels moved up to shoot at the Longhorns, while the pathfinders with characters set their sights on the Centaur Lancers.

    Magic saw a failed stoneskin attempt on the archers, then entwined roots was cast on the minotaur fighting against the treefather. The leftmost shooting contingent did great, killing all 5 of the centaur lancers and leaving my BSB out in the open. The sentinels to the right couldn’t reproduce the same effect against the Longhorns, only managing to kill one after a couple of lucky saves.

    The charging treefather struck the minotaur and dealt a whopping four wounds, but three of them were regenerated! The mino retaliated and dealt three unsaved wounds, unexpectedly winning combat! The tree passed its stubborn test but the writing was on the wall…
    The wildhorns continued their killing spree: the Beastlord dodged the Druid’s Crush attack and killed him in return, while the wildhorns sent the remaining archers fleeing off the board. The wildhorns pivoted, bringing the treefather within charge range.

    TURN 4 – Beast Herds

    Both the Beastlord on chariot and my Wildhorns charged the Treefather, and both made it in! The Longhorn ambushers finally appeared, and ambushed in the top left corner, to help box in the pathfinders. The last two centaurs moved up to block them too, with the Centaur Chieftain hiding away from the AP3 shots. The raiding chariots and minotaurs in the middle changed course, heading for the rightmost secure target objective.

    The Soothsayer, now unopposed, went once more for Healing Waters on the lone minotaur, then his attempt at stoneskin on the Wildhorns was dispelled, along with the Master of Earth on the Sentinels.

    But all of that didn’t matter: the charging Beastlord did just enough damage to drop the tree, opening up overrun paths for both the Wildhorns and himself into the last Sylvan archer unit.

    TURN 5 – Sylvan Elves

    With the entire army collapsing and the pathfinders boxed in, things looked bleak for the Sylvans. The BSB flanked the GW centaurs, but fluffed his rolls and got two wounds from the Centaur champion in return. The centaurs held and reformed, exposing the BSB to a rear charge/overrun from the Wildhorns who slaughtered the Sylvan Archers to an elf.

    Meanwhile the Pathfinders tried in vain to panic the Longhorns, leaving 5 longhorns alive after a disappointing volley. The Sentinels to the right finally killed the remnants of the right Longhorns, but it was too little too late. With the pathfinders pinned down and about to get rear-charged by the overrunning Wildhorns, the Sylvan Elves withdrew, conceding a 20-0 Beast Herds victory!


    What a way to end the tournament! The Beasts were able to dictate the pace of the game from the get-go, but a couple of good charge rolls turned the battle into a massacre. Discussing the battle with my opponent, one thing that we identified as the turning point was the Wildhorn charge into the Dryads: he considered that the Dryads had good odds of holding the charge (in reality he didn’t), and didn’t predict the wide Wildhorn reform that could take the beasts out of the Treefather’s arc of sight. As it turned out, the Dryad’s spectacular performance on the first round of combat proved to be a blessing for me, as I was then able to break them and pivot before charging again on my turn. Reforming the Dryads in a wider formation to get more attacks in could have helped, but at the risk of lowering the number of ranks and allowing me to keep steadfast in the grind for longer.

    It would not be fair to give a shout out to the single Minotaur who, after killing some Dryads, tanked not one but two Treefathers aided by Healing Waters, and practically executed both of them. The joys of Battle Focus and S7 ap4 attacks!

    Overall, I think that the pre-game approach was a sound one: spreading across the entire battlefield and playing the two secure targets apart from one another forced the Sylvans to split up their forces in hopes of holding on all fronts. This gave my hard hitters the required openings to push up the middle and engage the less maneuverable elements. Long charges were involved in this process, but that’s a given against avoidance: my advice is to always attempt the long charges if there is no downside to them; after all, you only need one to connect in order to start messing up with the enemy’s plans. Jens was an absolute gentleman and a pleasure to play against; here’s hoping we’ll get a chance at the rematch on a real table in the future!

    At the time of writing, the round against Denmark isn’t done yet; however, I won’t be able to report back until a couple of weeks after the Ocho, so I opted for a quick writeup so as to not leave you hanging. So far we’ve traded blow for blow and we’re slightly ahead in score with two games remaining: If you ask me, against such opposition that’s amazing news and an achievement in itself regardless of the final result.

    So expect the Round 6 final result, as well as the tournament recap and the usual BH list evaluation in the next article!

    Until then, happy gaming!


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Comments 1

  • TJKL -

    Well done, great report and glad to see parts of this battle live on UB!