Who 8 my wings? - a Dwarven tale GAME 4

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  • In the fourth round of the W8MW tournament we were fortunate enough to be paired against team Canada and friends; besides being proud “best sportsmen” of the 2018 ETC, the Canadians have made their mark in the recent online tournaments, with very decent final positions. And while @DougL seems to be at the forefront of that veritable Canadian wargaming renaissance, there is one other person who is the Maple Syrup to Doug’s pancakes (here’s hoping that this wasn’t an inadvertent Canadian sexual reference, I apologize in advance if it is the case! ) ; that’s no other than @awww jeeze , Sylvan Elf general extraordinaire. I’ve been following his results with the Sylvans, and he seems to always be placing high in the scoreboard, so I was happy I’d get to face him and his sylvans with the following list:

    Awww Jeeze wrote:

    So a mix fast close combat units, decent shooting and magic, as well as a couple of big blocks anchoring the line if the SE ever wanted to form one. The scenario was Capture the Flags and we’d be playing Frontline Clash. Going into the game I had rated this as a positive game, mainly due to the vulnerability of the characters and wild huntsmen to cannon fire and small arms fire respectively. So I figured that outside of a coordinated combo charge that would be able to break my steadfast, the big blocks were relatively safe and could outgrind the opposition. Fighting against such a mobile enemy means that you need to get your deployment just right, so I spent a bit of time theorizing on the correct approach, and ended up with a refused flank deployment where there would be no blind spots from the cannons and I would be able to use the Impassable terrain to cover my flank while advancing. My opponent won the roll for sides and so I opted for a full drop to get the first turn.
    Matt replied by putting as much distance between our two armies as humanly possible, taking care to shield both of his characters from first turn cannon fire. After scouts were deployed and vanguard was done we ended up like this:

    The Hold Guardians evidently selected vanguard as their upgrade, and for magic I opted for double runes of Resolve, Resilience and Gleaming. My opponent took Awaken the Beast and Swarm of Insects on the shamanism adept, whereas the Druidism master took Healing Waters, Entwining Roots, Stoneskin and Regrowth.

    TURN 1 – Dwarven Holds

    With the first turn in the bag, I’d shoved everything forward using vanguard. The goal was to close the gap between the two armies as fast as possible, while taking as little damage as possible. The Greybeards, joined by the BSB during Vanguard, moved up using the Banner of the Relentless Company, hoping to reach combat by turn 4 or so, while the Hold Guardians braved the sylvan forest so as to try and box in the Pathfinders. Magci had a single goal, and that was to protect my shooting troops from counterfire: I was able to put Rune of Resilience on both the Forge Wardens and the Rangers. In the shooting phase the Forge Wardens opened fire at the Heath Riders and killed them to an elf, while the Forest Rangers shot at the Pathfinders furthest away (they were providing cover for the Wild Huntsmen and I figured that killing two of them to open up the possibility of a cannon snipe on the Prince was too much to ask). As it turned out, these rangers had gone to sharpshooter school, and they managed to drop three Pathfinders! The cannons tried to reproduce their success but failed.

    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    After that initial setback, the elves applied their battle plan, which was -fittingly- quite querilla warfare-like. The archers moved up to shoot at my king’s unit, the wild huntsmen passed frenzy and started outflanking the same unit, and the rest of the army stayed relatively still, the characters careful not to give the cannons any good targets. The leftmost pathfinders failed their march test and could only move backwards 5”.

    In the magic phase I stopped the Swarm of insects cast on my rightmost cannon, and let through both the Oaken throne and an entwining roots that resulted in a raised Pathfinder. (it’s possible that an attempt at Regrowth on them failed). Shooting was not spectacular for the elves: due to the Runes of Resilience the leftmost pathfinders were only able to kill a single ranger, while the combined shots of the Archers and the rightmost Pathfinders dropped three Dwarven Warriors from the king’s unit.

    TURN 2 – Dwarven Holds

    So after an abysmal turn one for the Sylvans, surely everything was going ok for the dwarves, right? Not really, because my options were limited; the forge wardens didn’t have any targets for their shooting and the Hold Guardians were a tad too far away from the Pathfinders to declare a charge; failing it would mean that the elves would be able to move past their arc of sight and behind my lines, and that’s the last thing that one needs.

    So I decided not to declare any charges, and moved forward cautiously. The Forge Wardens used swift reform antics to bring at least a couple of shots within range of the pathfinders, but it turned out that this wasn’t needed: in the magic phase I was able to force through Rune of Resolve, swift reforming the FW and moving them comfortably within range of the elite elven shooters. The resulting volley, combined with the Rangers’ shots, was enough to kill the Pathfinders to an elf, ridding me of another threat and limiting the amount of ranged damage that my dwarves would have to suffer. The cannons once again failed to hit anything.

    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves

    The Wild Huntsmen passed their frenzy again, and that meant that there was no charge declaration this turn either. With the dwarven blocks getting closer, the Thicket Shepherd moved into the Thicket unit, and the rightmost wild huntsmen moved up in the flank to threaten my advance. The Pathfinders on the left relocated towards the main battleline. In magic I stopped the Swarm of Insects once more, and that allowed an Awaken the Beast, boosting the Wild Huntsmens’resilience to 4 and putting an end to my plan of simply turning around with my Forge Wardens and burning them. Here I would have been happy to let the Stoneskin through and use the rune of devouring, but my adversary was too clever for that.

    The pathfinders shot at the rangers again, this time killing three of them, while the short range volley of the archers killed a total of six warriors.

    TURN 3 – Dwarven Holds

    And for yet another turn, the long slog continued :This time the Hold Guardians took the 8+ charge into the pathfinders but failed. The king’s retinue put the wild huntsmen in their front arc, hoping for a failed frenzy test this time. The Greybeards advanced closer to the action, and the Forge Wardens yet again had to resort to a reform to come close to the Sylvan Archers, their target.

    In the magic phase I once more was able to move the FW magically, thus getting the full force of the Forge Warden volley against the Sylvan archers, and killing five of them. While not amazing, it would probably lift a bit of the pressure that the unit was putting on my scoring Warriors – they could not survive 6-7 casualties per turn for much longer! The rangers killed three more pathfinders, but failed to panic them. The cannons took aim at the Thicket Shepherd but failed to wound him.

    (pic taken during SE charges)


    The wild huntsmen next to my king’s unit passed their frenzy check, but my opponent failed his: the Thicket beasts charged into the Forge Wardens, who opted to flee, then redirected into my Greybeards. The Prince’s Wild Huntsmen also declared a conditional charge into the GB, but thankfully both of these failed. In the remaining moves the flank Wild Huntsmen spotted the weakness in my plan: they moved past my battleline and parked right in front of the fleeing Forge Wardens, thus ensuring a turn 4 charge into one of my scorers. Devoid of any good options, the Pathfinders moved up right in front of the Rangers, defending the wall.

    Shooting put a couple more wounds on the Rangers and the King’s Warriors, and magic saw the Thicket Beasts get boosted by Awaken the Beast for extra resilience, which I promptly used my Rune of Devouring on, after all.

    TURN 4 – Dwarven Holds

    The Rangers took the Pathfinder bait: they’d kill 3 of them and send the fourth fleeing; he’d then fail the rally test and flee off the board. After a bit of deliberation I decided not to charge into the Thicket beasts with the Warriors; it was a 7+ charge, and failing it would have given my opponent a lot of options for charges with little to no counterplay on my part. So instead I opted for yet another forward move; the Greybeards moved full steam ahead and blocked the Thicket Beasts’ charge. The Forge Wardens rallied, but they did so right in front of 6 very angry Wild Huntsmen! Finally, the King’s unit moved up to the right, trying to pin the Forest Guard for a turn 5 charge, in the hope of grabbing back the Flag that the Forge Wardens were about to lose. Finally, the Hold Guardians, now too far away from the action, performed a swift reform and moved towards the position of the wild huntsmen, so as to give my Forge Wardens a chance at survival.

    In the magic phase Matt stopped both of my runes targeting the Forge Wardens, which in return allowed me to cast Rune of Resilience on my king’s block and rune of Gleaming on my Greybeards instead. After three rounds of underwhelming results, the cannons now both hit, and one managed to wound the Thicket Shepherd twice.

    TURN 4 – Sylvan Elves

    This time the Wild Huntsmen did charge, falling upon the Forge Wardens. The Thicket Beasts declined the Greybeard charge, wisely so. The Shamanism druid was now relegated to emergency chaff, and stepped right in front of the King’s unit, redirecting them. The thicket beasts stepped back slightly and the Prince prepared for a combo charge into the King’s block should they elect to pursue into the Forest Guard. Finally, the second unit of Wild Huntsmen set up a flank charge for the Greybeards.
    With traps set up all over the board, we moved on to magic: Here I let through a miscast Regrowth on the archers (resulting in amnesia), hoping to stop the Stoneskin; I promptly failed the dispel for Stoneskin on the Thicket beasts, and thus saw the prospect of a turn 5 Greybeard charge fly away. Shooting was yet again aimed at the Warriors, but the Rune of Resilience helped out and the dwarves suffered no wounds!

    The DH luck was short lived, though: the Wild Huntsmen killed 12 Forge Wardens, suffering two wounds back. The dwarves held on a steadfast discipline check, but the writing was on the wall…

    TURN 5 – Dwarven Holds

    The king’s retinue charged the Druid adept that stood between them and the Forest Guard, and the Hold Guardians attempted a long charge into the Forge Warden/Wild Huntsmen charge but they failed. Faced with R7 Thicket beasts, the Greybeards elected not to charge but rather prepared for the turn 5 wild huntsmen combo charge; the runic smith took a page from the SE book and stepped in front of the Thicket Beasts as emergency chaff. Magic saw me cast the Rune of Gleaming both on the King’s block and the Greybeards, and the cannons yet again failed to hit or wound the Thicket Shepherd.

    In combat the Wild Huntsmen did 9w with 9 attacks, and the forge wardens promptly rolled over and died. The King fight went better: the king killed the druid, and the nearby Forest Guard failed their panic and ran towards the edge of the board! With that threat dealt with, I was able to reform the warriors in a way that solved most of my problems, keeping the King in the unit’s flank and thus protecting them from the Forest Prince’s charge.

    TURN 5 – Sylvan Elves

    The Wild Huntsmen all fell upon the Greybeards, while the Thicket Beasts charged into the runic smith. The prince passed his Frenzy check and maneuvered closer to the greybeard fight. Crucially, the Forest Guard failed their rally test and fled off the board!
    Magic was focused on buffing the Wild Huntsmen, and it resulted in the Oaken Throne and Healing Waters going through, bringing back one of the dead from the rear-charging unit.
    Shooting killed another 4 Warriors, leaving 14 alive.

    What happened next was definitely the doing of a long forgotten dwarf deity: the Wild Huntsmen swung against the greybeards (who were under the effect of the Rune of gleaming), a total of 35 attacks with Battle Focus hitting on 4+, and wounding on 3+. Through a combination of bad rolls and spectacular shieldwall saves to the front, the Greybeards only lost 6 models! In return, they killed a couple of wild huntsmen from each unit, and passed their break test.
    The amazing performance was then replicated by the Runic Smith: he issued a challenge, which the Thicket Shepherd took, and survived with a single wound remaining, while also putting a wound on the Thicket Shepherd. He also passed his break check, pinning the Thicket Beasts down for the coming turn.

    TURN 6 – Dwarven Holds

    Since the distance between the runic smith and the Greybeards was smaller than the Dwarven Warriors’ width, the king had to charge out on his own into the Thickets. The Rangers and Hold Guardians withdrew to safety, too far away to influence the battle, and the Warriors reformed to stave off the Sylvan Archers in the off chance they’d get ideas about charging them.

    Thanks to the Runic Smith’s heroics I still had a full runic magic phase, which meant that despite pulling card no1, I was able to force a Rune of Gleaming on the Greybeards fighting against the Wild Hunt. The cannons had yet another chance to shine, this time against the Prince on Elk. They both failed spectacularly, showing once more that if you want something done, you’d better do it in combat!

    Speaking of which: The charging king took two wounds from the thicket beast attacks, but then retaliated, causing a massive 8 wounds between his attacks and those of his bearers! The heroic Rune Smith died in the challenge, but he’d done more than was expected of him. The Thicket Beast champion and Thicket Shepherd were stubborn, but they failed their rerollable test and legged it, getting cut down by the Dwarf King in the process!

    Bolstered by this turn of events the greybeards fought on, bringing the rear Wild Huntsmen down to a single model remaining and the front ones to two models. This time they’d won combat, but both cavalry units held, pinning them in place for the turn 6 charge.

    TURN 6 – Sylvan Elves

    With the SE lines crumbling, there was only one thing for the prince to do: charge into the Greybeards. So he went in, and the druid forced both druidism spells through in the combat, raising a couple of Wild Huntsmen in the process. The sylvan archers’ shots were not enough to kill or panic the dwarven warriors, so it all came down to the final combat. Thanks to the rune of Gleaming, the Prince fluffed spectacularly! The wild huntsmen didn’t fare a lot better, and lost a couple of their number to return attacks. In the end, the combat was a tie, sealing the dwarven victory; thanks to winning the objective, the final result ended up being 18-2 for the Dwarven Holds!


    A lot of things went well for the DH to score this high: a couple of failed rerollable Discipline 8 checks for the sylvans were very helpful, ensuring that I got the scenario win and bailing my King’s retinue out of trouble when the Forest Guard were staring at them, ready to deny steadfast on the following turn. On the other hand, the cannons had their chance to shine but just couldn’t hit; but after all, it takes a single well placed cannonball to win a game sometimes, and they limited the Prince’s and BSB’s movement considerably.

    In terms of overall strategy, I think that the cornering approach of the SE was sound: with better mobility and longer threat ranges for the small arms fire, it was reasonable to expect a draw or a small win by forcing the dwarves to slog it to the other end of the table. The Forge Wardens were once more great at unlocking that puzzle: they took the ranged pressure off the other units and kept the elite shooting units at bay, grabbing crucial points in the process. I was amazed by the resilience of the lowly dwarf warrior: they took six phases of Sylvan Archer shooting, and were still above half strength by the end of the game!

    As is often the case when playing DH, the initial deployment and the overall game plan are very important : after the vanguards are done you’re left with movement 3 troops, so you need to get it right. In later game turns the characters going solo add some much needed mobility and some extra maneuver elements. This is something that I’ll be exploring more going forward; here the Runic Smith not only protected the Greybeards from the Thicket Beasts, but he actually won me the game by keeping them pinned for a turn.

    In the other games my teammates did excellent, leading to a big victory for Team Belgium. This propelled us all the way up to table 3, where we’d face team Finland and friends for the last game of the event.

    483 times read

Comments 5

  • MeuhMeuh -

    Well played sir. I have a couple question about that game and match up in general.
    Firstly, I wonder if a rune of Revocation (two may be overkill since you won't be in range until T4 with the smith) would be better against druidism (a lot like against VC, you cast in on the target you're shooting at to prevent buffs and healing). That said your set up is very good aswell of course -I'll just comment on the "despite getting flux 1" : the lesser dice the better for the DH magic I feel, it makes it easier to force a peculiar spell using 2x3 dice-
    Also, I always wondered if using devouring on the throne turn 1 is a good solution against a master druidism. It ensure that you won't have to deal with raised models, especially high quality ones like pathfinders or WE.

    Secondly I think you may have been better off reforming the HG during vanguard into a 6 wide formation to corner the pathfinders faster. It would also have allowed you to use the rangers to shoot at the wildriders or other pathfinders early into the game probably.

    Other than that, good job for the game, this isn't the easiest match up for dwarves (even tho FW are probably the best unit in the book against that kind of SE tho)

  • nantuko -

    I’m not sold on his deployment to be honest. While I agree on the cornering approach I think his shooters should have been all concentrated on his right flank so that he could focus shooting on one unit (be it forge wardens or better warriors). By trying to pin off one wound here and there he didn’t achieve anything while by focusing his shooting on one single unit at the time he could have opened a lot of space for better maneuvering his troops.

  • VampsinMD -

    rune of resolve! nice play

  • Dancaarkiiel -

    Why did the SE player gave away his chaff T1 before even moving? xd

    • SmithF -

      He blocked my units’ vanguard - sorry for not conveying it. By doing so he effectively bought his units an entire turn and gave the pathfinders better deployment spots