How to find your way through the wreckage

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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Battle Report: Warhammer - Dark Elves vs High Elves 2500pt

2500 pt Warhammer Fantasy Battle

Dark Elves (The Good Guys...Clearly) - Me


High Elves (The Bad Guys...Honestly) - Swordmaster (from Hoeth, fame)

So this is only my second ever battle of 8th Ed WHFB rules. Due to the impracticality of playing this face-to-face, we played this game using Universal Battle. This was my first exposure to this, and frankly, it is a damn great way of playing the games when you can't do it in person. By no measure it is a substitute for real life and I would not recommend people only play their games through this. UB is an enabler. It doesn't give any rules, only the tools and working space to apply our own. Swordmaster has had more experience with this than I, so he ran the show mostly.

But onwards to the forces arrayed for battle:

The Good Guys (In the most evil way possible)
High Sorceress Melith (Level 4, Darkstar cloak, Crystal of Midnight) - Dark Magic
Master Horkrim (BSB, Heavy Armour, Great Weapon)
Assassin Kalil (Rune of Khaine)
Assassin Sharik (Rune of Khaine)

19 Corsairs (Full Command, extra Hand Weapon)
19 Corsairs (Full Command, extra Hand Weapon)
16 Repeater Crossbowmen (Musician)
8 Dark Riders (Musician, Repeater Crossbows)
5 Harpies

19 Black Guard (Full Command with Kouran - Crimson Death, Armour of GriefBanner of Hag Graef)
5 Cold One Knights (Full Command, Gleaming Pennant)
8 Shades (extra Hand Weapon)

3 Reaper Bolt Throwers

The Bad Guys (Trespassing Traitors)
Archmage (Annulian Crystal) - High Magic
Noble (BSB, Heavy Armour, Shield, Great Weapon, Dragon Helm, Reaver Bow)

10 Archers (Light Armour, Musician)
10 Archers (Light Armour, Musician)
14 Lothern Sea Guard (Shields, Full Command)
15 Lothern Sea Guard (Shields, Full Command)
10 Swordmasters (Musician, Bladelord, Amulet of Light)
10 Swordmasters (Musician, Bladelord, Talisman of Loec)
10 White Lions (Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame)
10 White Lions (Musician, Standard, Gleaming Pennant)
5 Dragon Princes
5 Dragon Princes
5 Ellyrian Reavers (Musician)
5 Ellyrian Reavers (Musician)

Great Eagle
Great Eagle

So with the actors set, onto the stage.


It took a bit longer than usual to go through everything. It takes longer to type and discuss rather than just immediate discussion. Still, we eventually got it all sorted. Basic forests, basic hills, building heights all discussed pre-game. I won the deployment and took the hill. Too good an opportunity to let go given I was deploying with Reapers.

Magic: We rolled the following spells:
DE High Sorceress: (1,2,3,4) - translates to: Power of Darkness, Chillwind, Doombolt, Word of Pain, Bladewind.
HE Archmage: (1,2,5,6) - translates to: Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Flames of the Phoenix, Vaul's Unmaking

Deployment: WHFB uses an alternating unit drop system so that you are constantly assessing and adapting to how the opponent is deploying on the table. Swordmaster has a huge number of unit drops, so will always be able to adjust his deployment after the enemy has long finished. However it does mean that he gives the +1 to first turn away to his opponent. With all the drops and vanguard moves complete this is where we got started.

I won the roll for first turn (Swordmaster rolled a 1, add the +1 for finishing my deployment first meant it was going to be mine)

Turn 1

DE Turn 1
Dark Elf Turn 1
Movement: This was my opportunity to adjust myself to face any immediate threats from Swordmasters deployment. His vanguard movement left a Ellyrian Reavers unit far too close to my lines for comfort. The Harpies pushed forward on a long fly for later harassing flying about. The Shades and Dark Riders position themselves to shoot the Ellyrian Reavers. 

Magic: With lots of magic missile up my sleeve I wanted to come out blasting. Also, fortunately Swordmaster was lenient enough to let me use my Crystal of Midnight on his Archmage. He failed the first test, but luckily the unit he was attached to used its Gleaming Pennant up and he didn't lose a spell. Noting I had Bladewind waiting to strike out at his units, Swordmaster carefully hoarded his dispel dice. I managed to get a Chillwind off on one of his western LSG unit causing some damage and holding off his shooting for a turn. Swordmaster carefully crushed my attempt to cast Bladewind with all his dispel dice. Not a very eventful magic phase, but showed good signs of a decent magic duel to come.

Shooting: Like a hail of death raining from the forests the Dark Riders wiped their High Elf counterparts from the battlefield. Lacking a target now, the Shades tried to loft their shots towards the LSG hiding in the forest to no avail. The three Reapers were still testing the new maiden-hair feather replacements on their bolts and were only able to reach out and kill three Ellyrian Reavers in the centrally deployed unit. Despite the casualties a stern word from the nearby Archmage kept them from running.

HE Turn 1
High Elf Turn 1
Movement: The loss of the Ellyrian Reavers meant that only a solid defense on the western flank would serve. Fortunately there was a lot of ranged firepower there to pepper anything that came near it. Repositioning the LSG, moving one of the Swordmaster units around, and pivoting the central White Lions created this hard shoulder for any wandering Dark Elves to deal with. The Eastern flank advanced in close order. The two remaining Ellyrian Reavers arrayed themselves in front of their Dragon Prince superiors, eager to show their commitment to the greater sacrifice. 

Magic: Eager to show the traitor-kin what real mastery of magic meant the Archmage swiftly enclosed the nearby by unit of Crossbowmen in a flaming cage which burnt through five of their members. Eager to flee the Crossbowmen were restrained by Master Horkrim (BSB) promising to offer their souls up to Khaine if they moved an inch. Eager to continue to demonstration the Archmage began to unleash her favourite spell, Vauls Unmaking. A surprising tidal wave of energy, no doubt caused by Dark Elf manipulation, caused the spell to take on a life of its own. After unravelling the Black Guards precious banner it returned to the Archmage and collapsed upon itself. In the blink of an eye a Dimensional Cascade consumed two of the nearby Dragon Princes, and half of the White Lion unit. The Archmage was never seen from again.

Shooting: Disheartened by the loss of their Archmage, the Archers opened fire upon the Cold One Knights foolishly wandering about the open ground. Despite their accuracy, the arrows bounced harmlessly off the think armour and hides.

Turn 2

DE Turn 2
Dark Elf Turn 2
A massive boost coming into turn 2. The loss of the Archmage would pretty much leave the Magic phase to me now. The light casualties also left me in good fighting form to deal with the exceptionally good fights advancing towards me.

Movement: The Harpies continued their forward flight, landing beside the LSG on the western flank, ready and eager to cause havoc. The Dark Riders raced forward to close the distance and continue to throw bolts upon their foes. The shades repositioned themselves at the forest edge. Happy to fire at long range at their High Elf ranged opposition. The Cold One Knights adjusted themselves slightly to front themselves onto the hardening High Elf western flank. The High Sorceress drove her corsairs forward, eager to close the distance and unleash her dark magic. The eastern flank only realigned itself to the advancing Dragon Princes, happy to wait for them to arrive before counter-charging.

Magic: With glee High Sorceress Melith began lashing about herself if dark magic. Summoning a mighty Chillwind and unleashing it on one of the Archer units, it carved through nearly half of their number. Terrified at continuing the battle without magical defence the Archer unit fled the battle. Lining up the White Lions that were now in range Melith hurled a Doombolt forward, killing four of the hardy warriors. Summoning the last of the powers swirling about she attempted to throw Bladewind at the remaining Archer unit. However Swordmaster cannily kept all his dispel dice and was able to dispel this last spell.

Shooting: On the western flank the Dark Riders and Shades started their rain of bolts upon the LSG however were only able to kill two of their foes. The High Elves were holding to the forests, using the trees to dodge the deadly bolts. One of the Reapers attempted to fire a large bolt down the flank of the eastern Dragon Princes, but surprised at the change of ammunition missed the opportunity. The two remaining Reapers seeking easier targets unloaded their volleys on the White Lions, killing all of them.

HE Turn 2
High Elf Turn 2
Movement: Desperate to close with their evil kin the central Dragon Princes charged through the central forest into a Corsair unit. In their haste, two of their brothers were felled by branches and trees. The Great Eagles floated forward to protect flanks and block the Black Guard from flanking the Dragon Princes. The western flank saw the LSG reposition to target the Harpies and Dark Riders advancing on them. The Swordmasters moved into the forest lining up with their White Lion brethren. The Archers moved forward to target the Dark Elf units in teh open, and delay any attacks on the defensive line forming behind them. The eastern flank had the Dragon Princes, Swordmasters, and LSG all position themselves for a devastating charge onto the Dark Elf flank. The vulnerable Crossbowmen would be easily killed, opening up the way to kill the dangerous Reapers and flank the core Dark Elf forces.

Shooting: The western LSG opened up on the Dark Riders, killing three, but were unable to break them. The LSG on the eastern flank tried to kill the Crossbowmen in the forest, however due to branches and trees in the way and a lucky armour save did not cause a casualty. 

Combat: The crushing arrival of the Dragon Princes caused a Dark Elf Assassin to leap in the combat. With the full force of their charge they rode straight through a whole rank. Despite all the attacks back upon them, Assassin Kalil having seven attacks himself after being blessed by Khaine, the Dark Elves could not penetrate the thick Dragon Prince armour. Despite the heavy losses they held their ground, ready to continue to fight.

Turn 3

DE Turn 3
Dark Elf Turn 3
I was now in combat, however I had sufficient number to continue to take the hits. My priority at this stage was to attempt to unload as much damage upon the High Elves in the Magic and Shooting phases that hopefully by the time I got into further combats, the High Elf combat machines (Swordmasters and White Lions) were weak enough to be defeated.

Movement: Black Guard charged the Great Eagle that foolishly landed in front of them. Stunned at teh reception, the Great Eagle didn't even have the temerity to get out of the way. The Harpies flew over the LSG with cackling laughs, landing behind the newly formed High Elf defensive line. The Dark Riders surged around the LSG seeking to hide from their bows while unloading bolts into their flank. The Shades frustrated at being left out of the battle by their opponents dying ahead of schedule raced froward to continue their shooting spree on the LSG. Happy to sit in the open ground and let their Cold Ones chew on fresh bones the Knights simply sat about and watched the battle, arrogantly impervious to anything their inferior High Elf kin could throw at them. 

Magic: Once again Melith unleashed a vicious Chillwind into the approaching archers, ending their attempts to shoot their long bows. Lining up the White Lions in front of here again, Melith called down a Doombolt which wiped out the entire White Lion except for the lucky High Elf BSB who had fortuitously grounded his standard just before the bolt landed. Once more summoning a Bladewind Melith attempted to wipe the Archers out of the battle. Once again Swordmaster saved his dice and stopped the spell ever eventuating.

Shooting: The Dark Riders and Shades volleyed into the LSG on the western flank, killing five of the stubborn defenders. The Repeater Crossbowmen were unable to inflict any casualties on the Dragon Princes in front of them, the armour beyond their ability to breach. Seeking another opportunity to redeem itself the same Reaper loaded a large bolt to fire at the Dragon Princes flank. It missed again. Master Horkrim was noting these failures down for later discussion. Another of the Reapers lined up the Great Eagle which hand landed directly in front of it and promptly punctured it with half dozen bolts. It did not get back up. The remaining Reaper volleyed into the Dragon Princes trying to wipe them out, but only killed one of the mighty warriors.

Combat: With a snarl Kouran raised his axe carved through a wing and one of the legs of the Great Eagle that had landed in front of him. Cheering the rest of the Black Guard proceeded to chop the crippled bird into cook-fire sized pieces for later. The Dragon Princes in combat with the Corsairs and Assassin Kalil lashed about them but were not able to kill a single opponent. In retaliation they were slaughtered as the Kalil led the Corsairs in a revenge motivated butchering.

HE Turn 3
High Elf Turn 3
Movement: Seeing the opportunity to break the eastern flank the Dragon Princes, Swordmasters, and LSG all declare a charge on the crossbowmen in the forest Despite shooting at the approaching LSG and killing five of them the Crossbowmen are unable to stop their advance. Surprised by the charge the Swordmasters do not make it into combat. The Archers in a valiant effort to stop the evil Sorceress from continuing here destructive magic charge into her Corsair unit. The LSG on the western flank fail their swift reform to shoot at the Dark Riders on their flank, but realign to face the Dark Riders stalking them. The Swordmasters pivot to allow their Noble BSB to shoot at the wily Dark Riders, ignoring the jeers from the Harpies behind them.

Shooting: With the Archers in combat, the western LSG realigning, and the eastern LSG in combat. The BSB lifts his Reaver Bow and strikes down two of the Dark Riders, whom sensing their impending deaths deciding to go and scout the far far ends of the High Elf encampment, fleeing off the table.

Combat: With a crash the Dragon Princes and LSG collide against the Repeater Crossbowmen. Three Crossbowmen and carved apart with none of the High Elves falling in return. Despite Master Horkrim looking on, the Crossbowmen flee. The pursuing Dragon Princes, caught up in the adrenalin fuelled victory lose one of their members to a stray branch and are unable to catch the swift Dark Elves.

Turn 4

DE Turn 4
Dark Elf Turn 4
Despite some combat I was still in reasonable health and able to punch at more magic and ranged damage again.
Movement: The Repeater Crossbowmen rallied, confident in the knowledge that life would be worse if they didn't and Master Horkrim found them later. The Cold One Knights wandered forward to see what had happened to the Dark Riders, frustrated at missing out on that part of the excitement. The Harpies continued to throw insults and other disgusting items at the Swordmasters, continuing to flit about behind them.The High Sorceress Melith reordered her unit to target the un-engaged High Elf units on the eastern flank. The Black Guard and other corsair unit realigned to prepare for a suicidal charge by the High Elf units remaining.

Magic: Melith called Chillwind down on the eastern LSG, killing four of the archers and denying them their ranged attacks. A Doombolt landed amongst the Swordmasters killing four of the mighty warriors. Once again despite drawing extra power, Bladewind was dispelled by the nefarious High Elf army.

Shooting: The Reapers, instructed to not use single bolts any more, unleashed their volleys at the western Swordmasters, killing five of the western Swordmasters. The Shades continued to try and land the bolts amongst their foes hiding in the forest but were foiled by well crafted Elven armour.

HE Turn 4
High Elf Turn 4
Things were dire for the High Elves.
Movement: The eastern Swordmasters called again their charge into the Crossbowmen, accompanied by their LSG brethren. Once again due to a miscommunication in the appropriate tactics to employ the Sword Masters did not make it into combat. The LSG swiftly reformed to face the main battle. The western Swordmasters aligned themselves fro a potential charge against the sluggish Cold One Knights in the middle of the battlefield.

Shooting: Freed of attending to the insipid Dark Riders, the LSG were able to focus on the Shades, foolishly standing in the open. Cutting down three of their number the Shades fled back into the forest they had appeared from.

Combat: The brave LSG were able to cut down half of the remaining Crossbowmen, but took three casualties in return. The Crossbowmen, desperate not to flee again stood their ground and grimly fought on.

Turn 5

DE Turn 5
Dark Elf Turn 5
Movement: The Shades, rallied and returned to their shooting positions at the forests edge. The Sorceress once more moved her unit forward, this time to target the western High Elf forces. The Black Guard and Corsairs on the east surged forward to crush the High Elf units remaining.

Magic: With relish, Melith called forth a Chillwind which carved through the western LSG unit, leaving four alive. A surge of power and a Doombolt was cast down on the Swordsman, killing every one of them except for the Noble BSB once again. Seeing the Noble BSB caught out in the open, Melith cackled and fully opened up her conduit to Dark Magic. Almost bursting with power, Melith channelled it forth in a Bladewind which punctured through the High Elf magic defences  causing the BSB to carved, sliced, sheared, diced by thousands of invisible blades, until there was nothing remaining except a pool of blood and body detritus. 

Shooting: With targets running in short supply the Shades attempted to range their shots against the eastern LSG but could not cause a casualty. Demonstrating the power of war machines  the Reapers volley about, striking down a Swordmaster in the east, and two LSG in the west. Not spectacular, but better than the Shades.

Combat: Morale crumbling around them the eastern LSG in combat could not cause a casualty and another casualty. Passing their break test they resolutely continued the fight.

HE Turn 5
High Elf Turn 5
Movement: Seeing their LSG brothers in trouble the Swordmaster declare their charge and finally make into into combat with their target. The western LSG dig their heels in and continue to fire at any target which presents itself.

Shooting: Ranging the Shades once again the pair of LSG are unable to down their targets.

Combat: With a swirl of blades the the Swordmasters care through three of the Crossbowmen. Unable to inflict any damage the remaining Crossbowmen flees for his life off the table. Caught up in their whirling dervish of the death the Swordmasters follow him off. The LSG reform to face the approaching Dark Elf masses.

Turn 6

DE Turn 6
Dark Elf Turn 6
Movement: Feeling their moment has finally arrived the Cold One Knight charge the lonely pair of western LSG, who promptly flee. Not willing to see their masters embarrassed the Harpies declare a charge as well. The LSG flee again, unwilling to sacrifice themselves for Dark Elf sport. The Blackguard declare a charge against the remaining eastern LSG who flee as well. The Harpies throw themselves at the LSG but are unable to make it. The Cold One Knights, after forgetting they are cavalry are reminded once the blood starts flowing again and in a sprint of 12" make contact with their wretched High Elf kin, and subsequently slaughter them.

Magic: Failing a swift reform, Melith is infuriated and is out of range of any targets to kill. After casting a few sidelong glances at her Corsairs she takes a seat to watch the rest of the battle.

Shooting: With the eastern LSG fleeing, the one Reaper with a clear line, pivots and unleashes its volley, pinning the fleeing High Elves against the trees they were attempting to hide in. There are no other targets on the battlefield to shoot at. The other two Reapers are disappointed however did get to see the Cold Ones sport about with High Elf body parts.

HE Turn 6
High Elf Turn 6

The remaining Swordmasters return to the battlefield to find all in ruin. Swiftly finding their commanders broken body they slip away from the battle.

Post Battle Wrap-Up

An epic game. It turned out very one-sided, but I was not so certain of the victory. A big thanks to Swordmaster for the game, especially all the ridiculous simple question I continued asked to make sure I was getting the rules right, or at least less-wrong. A shout-out to the crowd that watched along, thanks for chiming in and helping out with rules - much appreciated!
Wow. Where to start. Luck - massive. 
Movt- Getting the first turn and being able to wipe that first Reavers unit, gave me the whole western field to move in, and force Swordmaster to create that hard flank. Swordmaster runs a manoeuvre army which needs to move and position itself. Forcing this defensive position  penned him in, and allowed my to magic and shoot his units at will.
Magic- I lost my 'always strikes first banner' which would have made combat a level playing field for my Black Guard, but losing it at the cost of the Archmage, was a very good trade for me. This opened up the magic phase enormously. I was able to roll off Chillwind (d6 S4), Doombolt(d6 S5), and  Word of Pain without opposition as Swordmaster was holding out to stop Bladewind (3d6 WS4 S4). Combined with rolls on Chillwind of 6, 6, 5, 4, and Doombolt of 5, 6, 4, 6, 5 these two spells carved through precious units. The Chillwind effect of stopping shooting also held up a third of Swordmasters shooting every turn. Power of Darkness only worked properly for 1 turn, every other time it only returned the dice I used to cast it. Shooting- Multiple shooting units, kept me pumping out lots of shots and nearly always killing one or two casualties, which builds up over 6 game turns. The 3 Reapers were a monster asset to have. Both in the options it gave me, and the psychological effect they caused. Sure I didn't get my 'ignore armour saves' shots off, but the volleys were able to whittle away at Swordmasters heavy-hitters. By the time he was able to engage me, he lacked the punch to really smash be apart.
Combat- Played a relatively small part in this for me, other than not losing major units to combat and forcing Swordmaster to engage in unequal fights. The combats where he was able to get his 2-3 unit charges off went well for him. But a trusty BSB and numbers, plus a few handy assassins meant that if he didn't break my main units in turn one I could overwhelm them in the next combat phase. There were also a number of combats which Swordmaster won, but then was stranded out in the open for magic missiles and ranged shooting to inflict more damage.

Overall- Big game for my second game. Heaps learnt. Swordmaster has already graciously offered a rematch. No doubt these two armies are going to develop a decent grudge pledge against each other. I can't praise enough the effect that playing with more knowledgeable players has on improving your own skills and gameplay.

I hope you all enjoyed reading. Feel free to leave comments on the forums or here. Any questions I will do my best to answer them.


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