Who 8 my wings? - a Dwarven tale GAME 3

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  • In the third round of the tournament we were in for a treat: after dodging each other in one Luxembourg Bash tournament after the other, we’d finally get to play QTL, an Italian team that always competes for the top spots. Once again, the pairing matrix of the dwarves was pretty favorable, and I ended up facing Warriors of the Dark Gods, which I'd rated as a favorable matchup:




    The way I looked at it, there was no combat that wouldn’t go my way in this game: my blocks beat the warriors on a one-on-one fight, and I’ve got the shooting (cannons!) to get points and threaten the Exalted Heralds. The scenario here was Secure Target, which I was expecting to draw. Once the pairing was done and I started looking at the list more closely, I realized that it was NOT in fact a combat list, but an avoidance WDG list based on the Hellmaw. Bear with me, because this is about to become very enlightening – it was for me at least.

    My main goal going into this game was to avoid getting outflanked: with the Ominous Gateways this meant that I’d have to adapt my deployment according to their initial position, and potentially sacrifice a unit to stand all game on top of a portal to prevent any massive redeployments. Another consideration was the Wrath of God: my deployment would have to be wide enough to prevent a game-winning comet, and make sure that it would be difficult to hit both cannons with one. Finally, I wanted to make sure that the Hellmaw (integral part of the WDG strategy) would have a hard time hiding from the cannons.

    In deployment we alternated a couple of drops, and then once I saw where the Feldraks were going I dropped the rest of my army to get that first volley off. We ended up with something like this:



    I will not do a play-by-play description of the game, because as you’ll see a lot of it was quite uneventful. So here are the highlights:

    Turn 1: The dwarves advance towards the middle of the board, cautious not to let the EH slip past their arcs of sight. In shooting the Rangers manage 4 wounds on the Feldraks, panic them and they run off the board. The Forge Wardens shot at the Flayers inside the ruins and killed them to a man.



    Turns 1-2: The cannons try to hit/wound the Hellmaw, to no avail; the WDG start the great migration; using the portals the entire army starts teleporting to the east.

    My opponent does a great job using the LoS-blocking terrain, and by turn 3 my cannons have no real targets. I let through Marked for Doom on my centremost cannon that had -1 to wound on it, but it still suffers maximum damage. One comet later, the cannon is no more and I’m left with no options for shooting at the Hellmaw.



    Turn 3 DH: It now becomes apparent that as long as my positional game is good, my opponent has no intention of engaging me. I briefly consider leaving an opening for him, but decide it’s a bad idea. I’m content with a small win, even if the game will be more boring for it. So Greybeards + Warriors zone the entire eastern flank and I take potshots at the warriors.



    Turn 4 WDG: A very successful magic phase sees the EH kill no less than 14 Greybeards (!), which means that now there’s a possibility that the unit will give up half points. By now the entire WDG army is packed in the upper right quadrant, and the dwarves are left staring at emptiness.



    Turn 5 DH: I go into full point conservation mode, the GBs are boosted by double Rune of Resilience and the Forge Wardens start moving towards the objective.



    Turn 5 WDG: my opponent finally makes a more aggressive move. The Knights teleport to the left, threatening my Forge Wardens, and the Chariot and Exalted Herald (general) both move past the hill and behind my lines.

    Turn 6 DH: I have an 11+ charge into the Chosen chariot with the Hold Guardians, with an overrun into the flank of the EH; I take it, but fail. After that it’s once again a case of holding on to the points and the objective draw (currently 11-9 for the dwarves). The forge wardens move as far away from the Knights as possible, and the Greybeards use the BSB’s Relentless company banner to also move away from danger. I try to cannon off one knight to deny them a rank, but fail.

    Turn 6 WDG: there’s only one play for the Warriors – the knights have an 11+ charge into the rear of the Forge wardens (boosted by Rune of Resilience), and they make it. Magic is contained, and so it’s up to the last fight. The knights go nuts, killing no less than 9 dwarves with their attacks. I have a chance to still hold by dropping one knight, but fail. The Forge Wardens leg it, and get away. But the damage has been done: now the knights sit comfortably within 6” of the objective marker, giving my opponent the secondary objective win.



    The game ends up a 7-13 loss for the Dwarves.

    AFTERMATH:

    So this game ended with quite a big swing, given that it was one of the most uneventful games I’ve ever played. That said, my opponent played his cards right – the game was not favorable for him so he accepted the potential for a small defeat and tried to get points back in a safe way. It’s not why I play T9A, but to each his own and in a team tournament environment it’s to be expected from time to time.

    There are two situations that I find interesting to discuss: one is the initial positioning of both armies, the other is the last turn’s events.

    As far as pre game and deployment is concerned, I think that the WDG could have approached this better: I was surprised that the two ominous gateways didn’t both go close to each secure target counter. It was what I was afraid of , and could have given my opponent an easier opening. I think that giving up the feldraks’ position was a mistake, since I was able to focus fire on them to get points. From the dwarven point of view, the denied flank approach worked, as it kept everything at bay for a considerable amount of time. The cannon angles/lanes of fire were good enough. During the game I should have tried to put a unit on top of the hill, but once the EH made their appearance there I had to make sure that there were no blind spots for them to move into behind my lines. It’s my understanding that this WDG list plays like an avoidance list until it sees the opportunity to strike, so not giving them openings was very important. So overall, I’m pretty happy with the deployment and the early game moves.

    On the other hand, the turn 6 movement is something that I keep kicking myself for: in such a tight game, giving the opponent a 1-in-6 chance for that charge that would almost always win the objective was silly. Sometimes moving as fast as possible away from danger is not the best solution. To demonstrate that, here are four alternative ways to approach the same problem, with a guaranteed better solution:

    a) Turn the Forge Wardens around, shoot at the knights, stand and shoot at the knights and fight them to the front. While 1+ save knights are not the best target for the FW, all I needed was a single wound to go through: with 16 FW alive, I was guaranteed to have 5 alive by the end of it to still be steadfast.
    b) Flee the knight charge. It would have meant giving up a tourney point and bringing the game down to a 10-10, but still better than losing the scenario.
    c) Move the Greybeards closer to the objective marker; here I was afraid I’d lose the Greybeards instead to a knight charge, but this could have been avoided by forcing the knights to first charge the FW; if they break and flee, the GB are still within the Secure target range and can claim the objective.
    d) Move the king into the FW and turn them around to fight the Knights: This one would have probably dissuaded the charge altogether, although I’ve seen more improbable things happen than a king fluffing all of his attacks against 1+ save knights. The issue here was the potential of losing 3 more TPs by losing my general.

    All of the above go to show that correct planning is important, and that most of the times something that seems like a stroke of luck for the opponent is simply the result of bad decisions on your part. Yes, the odds of the knights making it into the FW, surviving the cannon + return attacks from FW without taking a single loss and also killing enough to force an autobreak were slim, but the opportunity was there because I gave it to them, with no counter play possible.

    I tried to figure out whether it would have been possible to play the game for a bigger win, and I came to the conclusion that with the two objective markers closer together it could have been possible, especially if the dwarves gave up the first turn. It would play a bit like Hold the Ground but with two points to control, but there the risk of getting outflanked would be greater. But the final result also highlights the fact that if you play for a draw, you risk losing the game in the end since you have very little room for corrective maneuvers (especially with DH!)

    Overall, a very tactical -if slightly boring- game that taught me a lot of the potential of WDG as an avoidance army! Thankfully the rest of the team did better and we managed to save face with a slight loss (it would have been a tie had I brought back the projected 11-12 points).

    Would round 4 bring something more exciting? You’ll have to wait and see in the next chapter of this adventure, coming to you soon!

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Comments 2

  • Endymion -

    I've been caught out by avoidance warriors before, a lust cavalry list. Completely shocked me when they all started moving sideways after deployment, never saw it coming!

  • Ursa06 -

    Short but interesting report, and a truly curious WDG list idea