A Tale of Two Armies – Game 1 Post-Mortem

TaleOfTwoArmies copyWith the first game of this series now under our belts, Lee and I offer up our thoughts on how the game went from our perspectives and our thoughts on how our new armies performed. First up is the defender of the Empire…

Well that was quite easily the closest game of Warhammer I’ve ever played. Only one model left standing at the end and it was a lowly rank and file Chaos Warrior (okay, still pretty tough but you get the point) with both heroes having met their end in differing circumstances. 

von Bomburg performed admirably during the battle – after a somewhat slow start against the Marauders, where he fluffed most of his attack rolls, he redeemed himself fully by laying low the foul Chaos Champion, dispatching most of a unit of Chaos Warriors, and thanks to his ‘hold the line’ rule, keeping the fast disappearing unit of Halberdiers in the fight long enough to take it to the very end.  And I mean very end.  The final round of combat was von Bomburg versus 3 Chaos Warriors in a simultaneous attack.  The Warriors’ 6 attacks were enough to take von Bomburg’s final wound, but he failed – only just – to take down all three warriors in return, with a sole ‘to wound’ roll failing him.  It was dramatic stuff to say the least – and amazingly fun.

Tactically my plan was pretty sound.  I knew I didn’t stand a chance against the Chaos Warriors in a straight fight (let alone against von Stauss).  So I figured I’d lead them on a wild goose chase while I dealt with the rest of the army and hopefully whittle them down to not very many with the Cannon and gang up on what was left.   And it was working – my knights trampled the hounds to get in behind Phil’s lines, swinging round to threaten the Warriors rear/flank. My Cannon had begun taking models off the Warrior unit who were distracted by some dancing archers, and my Halberdiers disposed of the Marauders. But turn three was where it all changed. I had carefully dragged the Warriors into a position where my Cannon could hit them in the flank, but predictably misfired and lost the shot and as well as next turn’s too.  This gave the Warriors time to reform, and they then proceeded to dick on my entire army one unit at time.  My Halberdier unit, along with von Bomburg, was way out of position having run down the Marauders so tried to get back into the fight, but couldn’t save the Knights being beaten in combat and subsequently running off the table.  The Cannon misfired again with its next available shot and duly exploded, which meant it was a straight fight between von Bomburg and von Strauss.  In the challenge that ensued, Bomburg’s hardy armour was the difference enabling him to outlast his opponent, but the Warriors went through the Halberdiers faster than pizza at a weight watchers convention and it was left to von Bomburg to try to save the day before his unit disappeared entirely.  Alas, it was not to be and the forces of Chaos edged it in the epitome of a Pyrrhic victory.

I don’t think I would have changed much if I could replay the battle.  It could be seen as a bit of a gamble taking a Cannon over the Hand Gunners, but I had a plan for it and it worked – until I had to roll the thrice cursed artillery dice.  I misfired with 50% of my rolls which was way above average, and this reinforces my belief that if I played the same game again it would have done enough – with only a single warrior being left the margin of victory was incredibly tight and just one less misfire could have changed everything.

Everything else did its job well.  My equipment choice for Bomburg worked wonders, the Enchanted shield being an absolute must for the 5 points it cost and kept him in the fight long after he should have perished, and the Sword of Might not only enabled me to wound with most of my rolls but also defeat Chaos Armour with ease. Overall he paid for his points at least twice over against the toughest unit in the opposing army and his ‘Hold the Line’ was so effective it has made me question whether I even need a Battle Standard Bearer in my 1000 point list.

Needless to say I’m thoroughly enjoying the thought of the next battle – but not so much facing things like Chaos Knights or Blood Crushers, but I’ll have toys of my own.  I just need another plan.

And now a few words (read many) from me…

It was, as Lee said, a fucking close game. And I learned a few lessons. The first being that deployment is everything. I knew that already, especially for a Khorne army – even with the subtle change to the frenzy rule – but by getting the angel of my warhounds wrong it meant that Lee could run his knights right past the Marauders and straight into them. The result was that instead of having a unit to take the charge and a second to counter attack, one got wiped out and the other was forced to continue alone.

The other is that although my army is hard my units are neither invulnerable nor unstoppable. I deployed my Chaos Warriors with the intention of engaging with the halberdiers containing von Bomburg as quickly as possible. This meant running the gauntlet with the cannon. I decided it was a calculated risk as sooner or later I figured the cannon would go boom. Which it did. Plus sooner or later the unit would make it into combat which would prevent them being a target.

This worked to a certain degree. Although I sustained casualties from the cannon I still had more than enough warriors (bearing in mind I only started with 10 and no command) to deal with the bowmen and the knights, with the help of von Strauss (my exalted champion). But the knights were far tougher to beat than I expected, assuming that the extra attacks at my disposal would be enough to beat the armour. It didn’t.

I was also over-confident with von Strauss. At least in part. I was certain of his ability to kick face but I underestimated how vulnerable he’d be without any magic items or mutations to juice his save. I lacked the points so all he got extra was a pointy stick putting my trust in killing everything that could hurt him. And that was really his downfall. Some less than awesome rolls against von Bomburg when they finally met coupled with Lee’s inspired choice in magic items meant that he struggled to inflict damage and was incredibly vulnerable to the return attacks.

I was disappointed with the marauders. Although they were caught flat-footed by own shonky deployment and the resulting attack from Lee, they didn’t hit as hard as I expected when they fought the Halberdiers. The fact is that 15 marauders with shields, armour and the mark of Khorne and a chieftain is the same as 10 Chaos Warriors with the same upgrades, minus the unit champion. And I know which of the two carved their way through most of the Empire army. That said, it didn’t help we got a rule wrong and they were run down when they probably shouldn’t have been.

Were the game played over, I wouldn’t do much different. I’d sack off the light armour of my marauders because it wasn’t much use in the first place and I’d put those points into augmenting my champion to give him some durability. And possibly cause fear. Because I can. I’d also make sure I got my deployment right. Had I been able to hold up or even route the knights using my warhounds and marauders it would have made a massive difference to the game. But hindsight has 20:20 vision.

I’ll do some jiggling about for the next game as I’m not convinced about marauders in smaller games. My unit of Chaos Warriors and von Strauss munched, kicked and manged much face and so it begs the question; is it worth taking a second unit over the marauders? I also need to find some points to toughen up von Strauss. Or at least make him harder to kill.

I’ve come away from the game with a better idea of actually just how hard a Warriors of Chaos army is to use in smaller games as the points aren’t there to take the heavy hitting stuff or to augment what you can take in any real way. That’s not to say they don’t bring the hurt as the Empire Halberdiers were slaughtered with surprising ease but the array of things that can make life unpleasant for Chaos increases quite suddenly with every 500 points. I’m not sure what my plan will be for the next game but I suspect it’ll have something to do with faces. And kicking.

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