Who 8 my wings? - a Dwarven tale GAME 2

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  • 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 guardians. The Obsidian Guard and the Dread Knights both stayed a healthy distance away from the King’s unit, but able to charge themselves on the following turn.

    Magic started with a high casting attempt for Unity in Divergence on my King’s Warriors. I opted to use the rune of Devouring on it, so as to deny the elves the combat buff for the coming fights; I was very happy with my plan, until the spell managed to wound 14 dwarf warriors and kill 10 of them! The rest of the magic was dispelled, and then shooting was thankfully a lot less effective: a single warrior died from the king’s block to the Auxiliaries’ shooting, and the rightmost cannon suffered two wounds from the Shadow Riders’ shots.

    TURN 2 – Dwarven Holds

    This turn I took the bait: the Hold Guardians charged the leftmost Hunting chariot, sending it fleeing; they opted for a long charge into the Legionaries next, which they failed; they took two wounds due to DTs for their trouble. The King’s block charged into the fast cavalry in front of them; they fled, lost 3 of their number in the forest and the surviving champion popped through the Dread Knights. The King’s block charged the fleeing chariot and sent it through the impassable terrain and out of action for the following couple of turns at least.

    With the closest threats dealt with, it was time to try and deal with the rest: the Forge Wardens swift reformed to shoot at the Shadow Riders, and the Greybeards moved up to tempt a charge from the Thunder Pack and the Obsidian Guard, while covering the king’s flank.

    In the magic phase I only managed a single spell (thank you, card no 1!), giving my king’s retinue the Rune of Resilience. Shooting was once more a mixed success: the cannon had its moment to shine and failed yet again, this time misfiring and taking a wound. The second took aim at the Thunder Pack and killed one, although the last survivor didn’t panic and even managed to shrug off all the Crossbow bolts that the Rangers shot at it. Finally, the Forge Wardens killed four Shadow Riders, forcing a panic check that was easily passed.



    TURN 3 – Dread Elves

    At this point I was afraid that the last turn’s moves had doomed at least part of my army; the riskier play that I was wary of involved both the obsidian guard and the Dread Knights charging into the Greybeards, but Neil decided against it. Instead, he sent the Manticore, both chariots and the Legionaries into the Hold Guardians inside the ruin. Only one chariot and the Manticore made it in, though, to my relief. The four Shadow Riders charged into the wounded cannon, and would kill it outright in the following combat.
    The fleeing units rallied, and now the BSB went for a surprising move, jumping out of his unit and out in the open, where he threatened the Hold Guardians and my Forge Wardens with a turn 4 charge. The surviving thunder pack stepped right in front of my Greybeards, redirecting them, with the Dread Knights and the Obsidian Guard lining up charges for the next turn.

    The Warlock Outcast focused his attention on the Hold Guardian fight: I had to let the Perception of Strength through on the chariot due to an amazingly high roll, then stopped the Wheel Turns on the Hold Guardians, letting through the Ice and Fire on the Forge Wardens for a couple of wounds. The shooting dropped some warriors from the King’s retinue, leaving just 14 alive when all was said and done.
    The charging Shadow Riders killed the cannon outright and pivoted, while the combined efforts of the Chariot and the Manticore dropped two hold guardians: the animated statues retaliated, smashing the hunting chariot and wounding the Manticore once. They held their ground on steadfast and reformed to face the Elven general.



    TURN 3 – Dwarven Holds

    The good news was that the Hold Guardians had held, but I was down a cannon and my Warriors were in a rough spot, since they now didn’t have enough bodies to receive the charge from any of the elven shock troops. So after some thought I came up with a plan: the Greybeards charged the Thunder Pack, and the King and Runic Smith left the unit of warriors and went solo: this multiplied my threats and maneuver elements, but crucially it allowed me to use the Warriors as a sacrificial unit: they were shoved right in front of the Dread Knights, so as to prevent a combo charge on the following turn into the Greybeards. Finally, the Forge Wardens swift reformed to shoot at the victorious Shadow Riders, while keeping the Legion Legate BSB to their front.

    The downside of all this maneuvering was that I couldn’t bring the Runic Smith close enough to the Hold Guardians: the anvil would have to do all the heavy lifting, but the Binding Scroll put a stop to these plans. Instead, the Greybeards got the rune of gleaming cast on them.

    In the shooting phase my remaining cannon took aim at the elven BSB out in the open, but failed to hit. The Forge Wardens shot at the Shadow Riders but outright failed to wound them! Finally, the Rangers once more helped the DH save face by killing six Obsidian Guard.
    The charging Greybeards did short work of the Thunder Pack and pivoted, preparing for the incoming Obsidian Guard charge. The Hold Guardians had their moment to shine: the enemy general only put a couple of wounds on the hold guardians, and they retaliated with their full attacks, but only managed a couple of wounds. The dwarves had won combat, but the disciplined elf refused to flee, dooming my elites.



    (no more images, I'm afraid...)

    TURN 4 – Dread Elves

    This time the Legionaires didn’t even have to roll for their charge range: they went into the Hold Guardians’ flank, supported by the second hunting chariot. The Obsidian Guard charged into the Greybeards, and the Dread Knights took the Dwarven Warrior offered to them, with the last Hunting chariot crushing into their flank. The mounted BSB didn’t charge the forge wardens, since my King was protecting them and threatening a countercharge, so settled for a position out of my cannon’s line of sight with good charge lanes for the following turn.

    The Shadow Riders redirected my King and took aim at the Runic Smith, thankfully without success thanks to him sitting inside the cover of a field. In the magic phase he’d taken an Ice and Fire to the face and survived unscathed, such a hero! My dispelling efforts were focused on the Greybeard/Obsidian Guard fight, meaning that the Perception of Strength was cast on the Legionaries, sealing the Hold Guardians’ fate.

    Combat results were mixed this turn: the charging elves crushed the Hold Guardians, who failed to deliver the final wound to the Manticore and fled, only to get cut down by the hunting chariot. The Dwarven Warriors took heavy losses to the Knights and Chariot, despite their shieldwall. They autobroke and got ran down, but the Dread Knights failed their restrain check and had to pursue towards my lines, exposing their flank to my king! Finally, the Obsidian Guard killed 8 Greybeards on the charge, but suffered a massive 13 wounds back, breaking from combat! I elected not to pursue, as this would take them too far away from the action and would leave my king exposed in the late game.

    TURN 4 – Dwarven Holds

    The king charged into the Dread Knights’ flank, who had no alternative but to flee: they fled far enough and through the big impassable piece, where they’d rally on the following turn, effectively out of the game. The king redirected into the Shadow Riders, who fled as well.
    The Runic Smith joined the Forge Wardens and they stayed a good distance away from the Manticore and Legionaries. Finally, the Greybeards swift reformed and moved in a position from which to threaten the auxiliaries should they decide to move up, while also keeping an eye on the king of the hill objective.

    The Forge Wardens were also buffed by the Rune of Gleaming to help in the coming shootout.
    My cannon had yet another shot at the Manticore general, clinging to his last wound. It hit and wounded, but the elven general passed his Fortitude save. The Forge Wardens shot at the single Shadow Rider and killed him, while the Rangers took aim at the topmost -wounded- Hunting Chariot and wiped it off.

    TURN 5

    With the objective now in their hands, the elves went into point conservation mode: the Manticore and the BSB both hid from the cannon behind the house. The decimated obsidian guard rallied, as did the Dread Knights. Shooting and magic were aimed at the Forge Wardens, but only a handful died.

    The dwarven shooting on the following turn proved to be more effective, the Rangers killing the Obsidian Guard and the Forge Wardens dropping five Auxiliaries but failing to panic them.

    TURN 6
    With no way to stop the Greybeards from moving into the objective, the Dread Elves huddled behind the impassable terrain, content with the drawish game. In the closing steps of the game, the Forge Wardens performed a cheeky swift reform that brought four of their number within shooting range of the Manticore: 2 hits, 1 (flaming) wound and a “1” for armour later, the DE general lay dead, having survived four cannon shots prior to that!

    And with that spectacular finish, the game ended a 13-7 victory for the Dwarven Holds!

    AFTERMATH

    That proved to be harder than expected! I thought that the presence of the double cannon on the board would force my opponent to be careful with his characters’ movement, but he took risks that opened the game for him and left my centrally deployed hold guardians horribly outnumbered. In our post-game discussion, Neil mentioned that he had this game down as a bad matchup for him, so he figured that playing more aggressively would give him at least a shot at winning.

    On that matter, I think that while the Turn 3 Obsidian Guard + Dread Knight combo charge into the Greybeards had a degree of risk to it (OG needed a 7 and the DK an 8), making it would have left me in a horrible position. So I was glad that he didn’t take the risk and went for the Hold Guardians instead.

    From the dwarven point of view, I think that I could have done some things better:
    - Grudge allocation: I was afraid that the Auxiliaries would be used to break my ranks, and figured that having Hatred against them would deter their use as a combat support unit. In reality, the Legionaries were a better target; nominating them would have given the Hold Guardians a decent chance at defending the objective.
    - Deployment :the position of the rightmost cannon was unfortunate; there was no reason why it shouldn’t have been in the place of the Anvil, with very decent arcs of sight. Keeping it safe became close to impossible once the Shadow Riders moved around my lines, and wasting a round of shooting to try and volley gun the remaining SR off seemed like a waste of resources when the alternative was shooting at the flying general.

    What I find very interesting is the change of pace from my usual armies: since I incorporated the double cannons in the list, it has become more static and more prone to play the positional game, instead of the usual dwarven rush that I used to do. Basically, it was “shove the seekers forward, set up counter charges, bait any frenzied units, deny space and claim the objective”. Without the unbreakable anchor to move around things are a bit less straightforward, but it also means that evasion is less of an option for the opponent.

    To get back to the tournament, the rest of the team did very well, securing the maximal 100-60 score and pushing our team to the top tables for round 3: Our friends from Italy, QTL, are going to be our round 3 opponents, and it’s shaping up to be quite the round. Stay tuned to find out more soon!

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Comments 1

  • Boomvalk -

    Awesome read! As a Belgian DE-only player it was hard to decide who to root for ;)