Who 8 my wings? - a Dwarven tale GAME 1

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  • 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 afar, then try to get the ideal matches for the rest of the units.

    I won the roll for sides, and picked the side that had sparser terrain, so as to deny any hiding spots for any characters and monsters that wished to advance. For spells I picked Revocation, Resilience and Gleaming twice, while the orcs went for Bring the Pain, Smite the Unbeliever, Cleansing Flame and Wrath of God, as well as Awaken the Beast and Chilling Howl for the Shamanism adept. My opponent then dropped his entire army for the first turn, allowing me to counter deploy: The Forge Wardens and Dwarf Warriors occupied the center (vanguarding backwards after starting near the deployment line to stall the OnG scouts), with Greybeards on the left flank and Hold Guardians to the right; I then used the Rangers to cover my right cannon against the fast cavalry. Grudges went on the Iron Orcs, the Boar Riders and the Gargantula.



    TURN 1 – ORCS AND GOBLINS

    The orc army moved forward en masse, with the notable exception of the Idol BSB, who found a hiding spot behind the hill and remained there. The Gargantula and the Wolf King (safely inside the spider riders) threatened charges on my rangers and cannon respectively.
    In the magic phase I dispelled the Chilling Howl, and then the Comet failed to cast, bringing a very straightforward first turn to a close.

    TURN 1 – DWARVEN HOLDS

    With the right flank about to get overrun by spiders already, I decided that my initial plan was not going to cut it: the king’s unit used their Relentless company banner and parked right in front of the Boar Riders, hoping to frenzy bait them into the dwarven shieldwall. On the flanks, the Greybeards moved up to threaten the Iron Orcs should they decide to make a move for the Spoils token, while to the right the Hold Guardians moved a bit closer to the rangers to support them when they inevitably got charged. Magic allowed me to put the Rune of Resilience on the Warriors and the Rune of Revocation on the Savage Boar Riders.
    In the shooting phase the rangers opened fire at the Spider Riders, killing just enough to allow me to single out the Wolf King with the two cannons. The first one missed, but the second hit and wounded; to my dismay, I rolled a “1” for the number of wounds, leaving the goblin hero alive on one wound. The Forge Wardens opened fire at the wolf riders, killing 3 but failing to panic them.



    TURN 2 – ORCS AND GOBLINS

    After a bit of deliberation the orc warlord used the Warcry, going on the offensive on both flanks: the Iron Orcs and the River Trolls both charged into the Greybeards, while the Gargantula and the Wolf King fell upon the Rangers. All of the charges were successful, putting an end to my plan of facing the orcs in waves! The Feral Boar Riders passed their frenzy test and shunned my general’s block, so in the center the two big blocks maneuvered and the two remaining wolf riders moved in position to redirect my king.
    In the magic phase I failed to dispel a 2-dice Smite on my Greybeards, which promptly dropped them to R3. Thankfully my opponent then failed to cast the comet! The ensuing combat was brutal: the combined efforts of the iron orcs and the trolls killed an impressive 12 greybeards (abysmal 5++ shieldwall helped them!) and the elite dwarves could only deal 6 wounds back, in spite of their rerolls to hit. The dwarves broke and ran off the board, with the Iron Orcs and Trolls in close pursuit. On the right flank the Gargantula and Wolf King dodged my Rangers’ axes and killed enough to make them flee off the board; the Wolf King pursued off the board, too, while the Gargantula clipped my Hold Guardians and forced them to close the door, charging their flank.

    TURN 2 – DWARVEN HOLDS

    So it’s bottom of turn 2 and both of my flanks are collapsing. Something had to be done in the middle of the board and charging the wolves was out of the question; so instead I charged my King out of the unit and into the Orc general’s retinue! The Dwarf Warriors then made use of the goblin fast cavalry as a screen, guaranteeing that a) the Savages would not be able to charge them and b) no orc unit would be able to pile into my Dwarf King’s flank. The BSB and Runic Smith formed a separate unit on their own, mainly to keep both the king and the hold guardians within the 12” Runic magic and BSB bubble. The Forge Wardens turned around to face the bridge trolls, and the topmost cannon sacrificed its shooting to move further away from the Iron Orcs.
    In the magic phase all of my efforts were focused on boosting the Hold Guardians: I managed to get off both Rune of Resilience and Rune of Gleaming on them, at the cost of leaving the King to fend for himself against the Orc Warboss.
    The forge wardens opened fire at the Bridge Trolls, who had already suffered a couple of wounds, and brought them down to a single remaining troll. The Cannon took aim at the idol and hit, causing an impressive four wounds!
    In combat the King fought and killed the feral orc champion in a duel, but the Warboss’ retinue refused to budge. The Hold Guardians tanked all but one of the incoming attacks of the spider thanks to the runic magic, but an equally bad roll on their part meant that the spider only suffered a single wound back! The Guardians held their ground and reformed to bring their full weight of attacks to bear on the spider.



    TURN 3 – ORCS AND GOBLINS

    The Orc shaman charged into my king, further pinning him in place, while the Iron Orcs attempted a charge into the cannon but failed. The troll failed stupidity and stumbled forward, giving my Forge Wardens a unique opportunity for a cascading flank charge on the following turn.
    Magic started with yet another high casting roll for Smite on my Hold Guardians, resulting in -1 resilience. I then stopped the Chilling Howl (the cannon had a Wolf King to kill!) and had to finally let through Awaken the Beast on the spider, which triggered Scarification on the charging shaman.
    In combat the gargantula managed 2 wounds on the hold guardians, and they replied, only dealing two wounds of their own; the spider lost combat but held on its own Discipline 6! The Shaman and my King entered a duel, where a combination of Scarification and well timed aegis meant that the mage only suffered a single wound; my king had lost combat, but thanks to the Hold Stone he managed to stay in the fight.

    TURN 3 – DWARVEN HOLDS

    After a catastrophic turn 2, things were looking up for the Dwarves: the Forge wardens declared the 4+ flank charge into the lone Troll, with a 2” overrun into the Iron Orc flank, the cannons had the Wolf King in their sight, and the Runic Smith/Thane duo charged into the Wolf Riders to clear the chaff. Disaster struck yet again: my Forge Wardens rolled snake eyes, and stumbled forward a single inch, well within charging distance of the Iron Orcs now.
    The Dwarven Warriors reformed to redirect the Feral Orc spears away from the King fight.

    In magic my attempts to boost the hold guardians were thwarted, but at least that allowed me to cast Rune of Gleaming on my king and Rune of Revocation on the orc shaman, getting rid of Scarification.

    Shooting went reasonably well: the bottom cannon took aim at the goblin king and finally killed him, but the topmost cannon missed the Idol. In combat the king smashed the Shaman and won the fight, but the Orc Warlord kept everyone in check. The Thane/BSB duo killed the two wolf riders and managed an impressive sprint, covering the 9” overrun distance that brought them straight into the spider riders! Finally, the Gargantula/Hold Guardian fight went on: the hold guardians, now R4, lost one more of their number to the spider’s attacks and only dealt a couple of wounds back; thankfully, the Runic Banner of the Hold ensured they were steadfast, and they carried on fighting.




    TURN 4 – ORCS AND GOBLINS

    The Iron Orcs charged into my Forge Wardens, that should teach them for failing that charge! The savages went straight ahead into the dwarven warrior dart, and the Green Idol hid behind the hill once more.

    Magic targeted the King/Warlord fight; I finally used the Rune of Devouring on the Smite (should have done it a couple of turns ago!) that lowered my king’s strength to 5, then let the Cleansing Fire through and dispelled Bring the Pain; with gleaming active I was banking on the Warlord failing to hit!

    Combat was eventful, to say the least: the Savages killed a couple of Dwarves and made the rest of the warriors flee, and successfully restrained pursuit, turning to face my Hold Guardians. The latter finally managed to kill the Gargantula, while the BSB and Runic Smith killed the remaining spider riders. The Warlord and the King started a duel: the king failed to wound the orc, and he retaliated with a single wound back. The king passed yet another discipline check and carried on fighting. Finally, the Iron Orcs swung first against the Forge Wardens; they scored 11 hits….and only a single wound! The elite dwarves jumped on the opportunity and swung back, killing six orcs and routing them outright! They even caught them in pursuit, falling into the Troll’s flank!

    TURN 4 – DWARVEN HOLDS

    The Hold Guardians spotted the Feral orcs inside the forest and charged them, but failed their charge roll and stumbled forward. The Thane and Runic Smith moved around the savages’ flank, threatening a charge on the following turn. The fleeing warriors regrouped.

    Magic this turn only resulted in the Rune of Revocation getting cast on my king, removing the Smite the Unbeliever and ensuring that next turn’s Bring the Pain would be automatically dispelled. In the shooting phase the rightmost cannon tried to finish off the idol but failed; its twin shot at the Ferals inside the forest and killed five of them.

    Combat saw the Forge Wardens wound the troll and force it to flee; I tried to restrain pursuit but failed, which meant that the FW would not be able to grab the topmost spoils marker before the end of the game. In the duel of the generals, the king once more failed to hit the Warlord, while the orc managed to deal two wounds to him; the king refused once more to flee, and kept on fighting against the orc, who was proving to be a formidable foe.



    TURN 5 – ORCS AND GOBLINS

    With the savages surrounded, the orcs opted to reposition their central units instead of charging: the Feral spears pivoted to put both the Hold Guardians and the Warriors to their front, and the Shaman’s goblins made sure that my character duo wouldn’t be able to assassinate the thaumaturgy mage. Said mage finally managed to cast the comet this turn, placing it near my bottom cannon.

    In the protracted duel the king suffered yet another wound, still failing to wound the orc. Another shaky Ld7 rerollable check ensued, which the King passed like a boss!

    TURN 5 – Dwarven Holds

    My Thane/Runic Smith duo spotted the rear of the Feral orcs and charged in: between their attacks and static combat resolution they were guaranteed to force a break test on the unit, which wouldn’t be steadfast due to being inside the forest. The Dwarven Warriors charged into the Boar Riders, clipping the unit’s left corner and bringing some crucial static combat resolution to the fight.

    In magic I focused on buffing the Runic Smith and Thane; the feral orcs had picked up the spoils token in the previous turn, so routing them was very important, more than protecting the king. In the end I managed to get both Rune of Resilience and Rune of Gleaming off on them. In the shooting phase the cannon took once more aim at the Green Idol, and managed to hit and wound this time, instantly crumbling the giant statue!

    The combat was now stacked in the Dwarves’ favor, but the king had to weather the Warlord’s attacks: three wounds were caused, including a Lethal Strike. However, now the lowered armour penetration meant that I was able to make the armour saves for the two non-lethal wounds, keeping my King alive on a single wound remaining! The added ranks and charge bonus, combined with the demise of the BSB, meant that the Boar Riders turned tail and ran, sadly outrunning my Dwarven Warriors.

    With the Orc Warlord on the run, the Runic Smith and BSB had no trouble routing the Feral Orcs and running them down. To finish off the spectacular turn, the goblins with Shaman panicked and ran closer to the table edge.

    TURN 6

    With the entire orc army on the run, the final turn was swift: the fleeing units rallied, and then in my closing turn the Shaman and goblins fled from my Dwarf Warriors in order to conserve half points. The comet came down on my cannon, but a couple of Runes of Resilience cast on it meant that it only took 2 wounds and survived the battle!

    When the smoke cleared, the Dwarves had won the day for a 15-5 victory!


    AFTERMATH :

    This was a very fast-paced and dynamic game: by the end of my opponent’s turn 2 I was sweating with both flanks crumbling, then a combination of dumb luck and pure dwarven resilience allowed me to turn things around and win the game.

    My decision to pursue the Warboss’ retinue instead of reforming on turn 5 meant that I couldn’t get the secondary objective, and it was clearly a mistake (the Goblins and Shaman half points were not nearly enough to give me an extra Tournament Point, either!). But routing the Saveges was not a certainty and the possibility to catch the orc warlord after he’d brought my King so close to death was too good to pass up!

    The turn 2 Greybeard fight was a disappointment, although in their defense it would have been a very different fight without the Smite the Unbeliever lowering their resilience. The same would have been true had the Trolls failed to complete the charge (50-50 roughly). Even then, losing the Greybeards only set me back 600-ish points, which not the end of the world in a 4500 point game. It’s refreshing to have such a big block of elites that can potentially be expendable.

    Finally, special mention for the Cannons and their final tally of the Idol BSB and the Wolf King: both were pieces that I couldn’t have dealt with otherwise, and it felt nice to have this kind of answer for once.

    As for my team, all of the games were hard fought and very tactical, as you’d expect when you’re facing one of the world’s consistent top 5; the end result was an 80-80 draw, a result we were very happy with!

    For round 2 we’ll be facing a joint USA/Mexico team, so I’m looking forward to meeting new people and settling old grudges!

    Smith

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