Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fantasy Warriors Battle Report #6

Long-time readers of this blog may recall when Desiree's brother Mark made a visit last August and trounced me using D.'s Dwarves. This Memorial Day Weekend saw Des's family coming up for her college graduation (congrats!) and a showdown between her dad Frank and myself was only natural. Would this prove a case of "like father, like son" or would I be able to lead my greenskins to victory? Read on...

Like Mark, Frank had never played a miniatures game but was quite interested in the concept and eager to give it a shot. To that end, Desiree once again put her Dwarf army on loan. I was cautiously optimistic that my tweaked Orc army, coming off a two-game winning streak, would do better than it did against Mark--whose utter defeat of my army inspired me to make the changes in the first place.

Previous games have been played on a 6' x 4' layout, but Des and I had been noticing that inevitably only about 2/3 of the table (if that) would see any use, so I decided on a 4 foot square layout for this game, which worked just fine.

Using my scouting house rules (see the previous bat-rep), my Orcs outscouted (between my wizard and mounted elements, this only makes sense...hooray for house rules that are a massive improvement over the published rules!). We agreed on a river for the board and I set up a table and selected an edge such that the Dwarf deployment had a river with no crossing on the right flank, a patch of rough ground on the left, and a hill in the center. My own deployment had some woods and a bridge on my own left and was otherwise open.

Frank, at Mark's urging, chose to roll to negate the broken ground and did so. He set up the majority of his army on the hill, with the crossbows out front, the spears behind, and the Human knights in reserve; the axe-wielding Dwarves were set up on the flanks. An excellent deployment to be sure.

I went with my standard deployment--fast units as flankers (trolls on my left, wolfriders on my right), orc infantry in the center, orcs with spears in reserve, rabble archers out front (to act as a missile screen as much as anything...). My trolls began the game concealed in the woods, which was a nice bonus for a unit that always attracts a lot of crossbow bolts from the get-go.

As always I attempted to read the omens and they came up "bad". I cast Fudge the Omens and tried again...still no luck. Oh dear. Neither of us issued any boasts. I rolled for time of day and got Night, but the time dial was set at "5"--only two turns until dawn! Dang. By the time my forces would come to grips with the stunties, it would be light. Sometimes Orcs just can't catch a break, you know?

We issued identical orders: Attack for our infantry, Oppose for our missile troops. As usual, the battle opened with relentless crossbow fire, directed entirely against my Trolls and wolfriders. Lady Luck finally began to favor me as the two units emerged through the hail of arrows unscathed. My infantry also moved out, although my spear-orcs lost 1/4 of their number trying to ford the Strength 5 river. D'oh! Chastened, they turned for the bridge...

My fast moving flankers took only a couple turns to reach the bearded lines, weathering potentially murderous crossbow fire the whole while, mainly due to my hot rolling with their saves. The wolfriders slammed into a unit of axe-dwarves, the Trolls took on the spear-dwarves in the center as the crossbows fell back.

As my own center moved up, things progressed nicely on my right as the wolfriders systematically cut through their opponents despite the assistance of the Human battle leader. Meanwhile, a massive brew-up began to form in the center on top of the hill as units from both sides were sucked into a roiling melee as soon as they arrived on the scene. All considerations of tactical finesse were thrown aside in favor of generalized slaughter.

By the time the wolfriders finished off the axes on my right the melee on the hill had evolved to include every non-missile unit from both sides with the exception of the knights. In a replay of the confrontation from my game against Mark, the wolfriders charged the armored humans and were slowly annihilated.

The attritional battle in the center eventually began to swing in the Dwarves' favor, but my Orcs, emboldened by their standards and worked up into bloodlust, fought to the last. The tide finally turned when the crossbows charged in (despite being on Oppose orders...whoops)--I finally conceded the game when I was down to all of six Orcs (including my warchief and battle leader).
Victory point calculations gave the Dwarves a "major victory"--they had won the battle, but my army was not out for the count. Sounds about right.

This one definitely could have gone either way; things looked very bad for the Dwarves almost to the very end. The massive fight on the hill was unlike anything I've seen before--Frank and I were both rolling double-handfuls of dice!

A few other considerations:
  • My War Trolls, downgraded from Elite to afford all the unit specials for my Orc infantry, truly showed their "Unpredictable" quality, gaining a +3 quality bonus the first round of combat, then a -3 the second round, resulting in a rout! That combat also saw the Dwarves hitting on a 2 or better but killing on a 5 or better and the trolls hitting on a 5+ and killing on a 2+...nice bit of symmetry there...
  • My Rabble Archers are worthless, worthless, worthless! During Bad Light they hit on a 6 (and even then they need to get within short range) and kill on a 6, and night doesn't improve things much. Combined with their paltry range, I'm not really sure they're worth the points. Then again, at only 60 points they barely cost me anything and they DO make handy missile shields...we'll see...
  • The big melee highlighted the most tiresome aspect of the rules: the Casualty Test. Going through that laundry list of modifiers every turn for every unit gets pretty time-consuming. I should work out a way to note the running modifier for each unit involved in combat.
  • I'm getting better at handling my Wizard. In addition to the "Fudge the Omens" spell, I also used "Incite Frenzy" to whip my Trolls into Bloodlust (an essential ingredient for any Orc army!) and gambled a bit with a last-minute assassination attempt on the Dwarf warlord with "Finger of Death". I had a 1-in-3 chance of overdrawing power and blowing up, but made it (barely--down to 1 Power Point!), but unfortunately the two kill rolls the spell grants failed to come up in my favor.
Before and after the game much discussion was given to the unpainted Dwarf bat riders--I think Des is finally ready to expand her army, despite the fact that that will give me more points to work with as well. Muhahahaha! We have yet to discuss what our next threshold will be, but I think adding bat riders will put her army at at least 1500. Maybe we can go whole-hog and double our points to 2500? Then we'll definitely need to go back to 6x4...

Speaking of terrain, I'm seriously considering buying a set of Kallistra Hexon tiles. My modular boards are great and all but they don't offer quite the versatility I thought they would. Plus the Hexon system stores a lot better than my big ol' tiles. I'll post pictures of the new terrain if I end up plunking down for it...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fantasy Warriors Battle Report #5

It's that time once again, time to break out the minis and have a good ol' fashioned bloodbath (in plastic and metal, of course).

We were once again using our tricked out 1,250 point armies, which I'll detail after the report. I'm quite happy with the new incarnations of our armies--they tend to produce much closer games. The last game saw the Orcs win a Pyrrhic victory against the Dwarves--could I do better this time? Or would the little bearded freaks get the better of me? Read on...

Using a post over on the FU_UK Fantasy Warriors forum as a base, I had cooked up some new scouting rules for this game. The rules in the book are too restrictive, we felt, and frankly not very realistic. Too "gamey", I suppose. The rules are reproduced in full at the end of this report, but in essence they involve rolling a handful of dice and totalling 'em up. Certain elements in your army give you bonus dice, increasing your odds of a high total. Highest total outscouts, or outmaneuvers, as per the rulebook.

As it was, my wizard and wolf-riders gave me two bonus dice and I managed to outscout the Dwarves, although just barely. I set up a table fraught with obstacles in my opponent's deployment zone. A marsh on one flank, a wooded hill in the middle, and a patch of rocky ground on the other flank. A river snaked across the field of battle, crossed by two bridges. I improvised a weighted table (also reproduced below) to determine the river's strength, which came up "4".

Des decided to roll and try to get rid of the marsh and the rocky ground. Dice were rolled and the rocky ground was history. Due to modular nature of my boards, we couldn't remove the board entirely, so we agreed the rocky area would just be cosmetic and not affect movement.

I decided to check the omens--Des declined, claiming the Dwarves are above superstition--and...they came up Good!I steepled my fingers confindently and watched Des set up.

She decided to anchor her left flank against the table edge, setting most of her army on the extreme left of the board. Her Knights held the center and, on the other side of the wooded hill, her speardwarves guarded the extreme right flank.

I set up my forces accordingly, essentially splitting them into two wings. One wing, consisting of my trolls, an archer unit, and a unit of warriors would take on the speardwarves on the flank and try to turn it. The rest of my army would march up and engage the bulk of the dwarves, pinning them.

After we set up I observed that yet again it looked like we were not going to use a whole third of the table. I think in the future, at least until our armies' next growth spurt, I'll lobby for a 4'x4' setup instead of 6'x4'. Increases the choices in modular tiles, at the very least...

One other thing: we were getting a fairly late start on the game, so we agreed on an artificial end time three hours hence. As it turned out, the game ended of its own accord with 15 minutes to spare, so it all worked out in the end.

For orders, I set all my commands on Attack. It's in my archers' best interest to try and get within short range anyway. The time had come up as the first phase of day, so there was no point in trying to wait for the night. I'd just have to do my best with the Bad Light.

Des, for the first time, gave her troops the "classic" Dwarf Army order combo: Hold for infantry and Oppose for missile units. Nonetheless, she kept forgetting she couldn't move her troops throughout the battle and was feeling very frustrated by the Hold order, despite the morale bonus it provides. This, combined with her jealousy of all the units I get to field (no matter how poorly they might perform in contrast to her Elites) led me to observe at one point that maybe she'd be better suited for a more proactive army, like Barbarians. She ruefully agreed, but reaffirmed her love for her Dwarves all the same.

So here's the setup at the beginning of the game:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(A note on photography: I was playing with settings throughout the evening, as the lighting in our "game room" isn't that great. After the first picture I started fiddling with exposure times, which helped, but, since I'm not a human tripod, made for some slightly blurry shots. Apologies in advance.)

My army moved out across the board. The Dwarven crossbows had been set up on the left flank, with two units out front and the third in reserve. My wolfriders fell under crossbow volleys almost immediately, but weathered the barrages intact (not for lack of potential kills--if my wolfies hadn't had their Saves, they would've been annihilated the first turn).

Here we see a shot from behind the Orc lines looking towards the bulk of the Dwarf army. Orcs pour across a bridge in the foreground as my Warchief and Wizard look on; meanwhile, my wolfriders crest a small rise in the background.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The two crossbow units emptied their boltcases into my wolfriders, eventually felling two of them. As my boys drew to within charging distance, the missile units withdrew, making for the wooded hilltop, as the reserve crossbows moved up, readying their weapons. Here I paused to remove a Shaken counter my wolves had picked up, allowing the Dwarven murder machines one more round of shooting. I gritted my teeth as another wolf went down; I would have my revenge soon...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Meanwhile my trolls smashed into the speardwarves on the far right flank after some ineffectual shooting from my Rabble Archers. Dwarves started disappearing like popcorn, but they refused to budge. Clearly I was in for a fight to the finish.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(A note about archers: I'm seriously thinking about dropping missile troops from my army. My Rabble Archers' only hope of hitting during bad light is to get within short range--six inches!--and even then they only hit on 6s. Regular archers would've been only a little better, hitting on a 5 or 6 at short range or 6 at long. Combine this with the weak power of the bow against the heavily armored stunties, and you have a recipe for a whole lotta nothin'.)

Another view of the battlefield as the Orcs begin to contact the Dwarf army:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My wolfriders finally made contact with the third crossbow unit and sent it fleeing, but not before it had killed the last wolfrider, leaving only my mounted battle leader. However, an interesting opportunity presented itself as the crossbow unit routed--I had a clear path to the Dwarven warchief.

In the center, my other unit of warriors charged the knights atop the wooded hill and began dying in large numbers, gradually whittling away at the humans in the process, just like a good Orc unit should. ;)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My mounted battle leader charged the warchief as my spear unit prepared to charge the "bearded buzzsaw", aka the dwarven axe units. The battle truly could go either way.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

As it turned out, the battle hinged on the fight between our leaders. We each inflicted two kills, and each only saved one. Both leaders died, so both armies were due for a Command Test. Of course, the Dwarves were worse off, since they'd just lost their warchief, and the dice rolls reflected this. My whole army (helped in part by the Good Omens) stuck around, although the archer command became Disorganized. The Dwarves, on the other hand, quit wholesale...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

...Well not quite. The allied Humans stood fast! Forming a desperate rearguard, drastically reduced in number, they fought on bravely. I turned my spear unit and charged it into the knights' flank. Attacked from two sides and desperately outnumbered, the brave warriors hacked left and right, splitting greenskin skulls and severing limbs with reckless abandon. The combat ended, we rolled our Combat Tests...and both Orc units routed!

I guess they figured with the battle pretty much in the bag there was no need to die needlessly fighting these crazy knights. The human allies had kept the Dwarf retreat from turning into a full-scale rout. We called the game at that point.

Victory points told the tale: I had won a "decisive" victory, but if the knights had not done what they did I could've had a "major" victory. Ah well. A win is a win. :)

Now for some details on our armies as they currently stand.

My army consists of three commands. I have one warchief, a battle leader, and a mounted battle leader (not pictured), plus a wizard:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(The leaders are Ral Partha; the warchief has an awesome shield slung across his back with several severed hands nailed to the front. The wizard is Grenadier.)

The warchief commands the Rabble Archers (although maybe not for long...):

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The battle leader commands a unit of orcs with spears and two units of orc warriors, plus a unit of trolls. The warriors are reinforced with a full complement of specials: standard, musician, champion, and leader. The spears, who are upgraded to Veteran, currently have only a standard (a Black Tree Miniatures "half-orc"):

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A note on the shields. For the longest time my plastics lacked shields, having failed to glue them on back in the day. Thanks to em4 Miniatures, I was able to order some replacement shields, so both armies got kitted out properly. I sprinkled in a few GW "Goblin" shields among my orc warriors to add a slight tribal feel as well.

I was using Reaper Bull Orcs for my Trolls, but since the last battle I decided I wanted a more "traditional" Troll unit. Ral Partha came through, and I'm very pleased with the results--more sinewy musculature looks much more trollish, I think:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The mounted battle leader personally commands a unit of four wolfriders that includes a standard and musician. Very much my army's "centerpiece" unit:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And yes, that's a hand-painted Samhain logo on the standard bearer's shield. Orcs are totally metal, didn't you know?

Speaking of paint jobs, longtime readers of this blog will recall that all my plastics were originally painted by me when I was a wee lad; I came back and added a wash and some highlights, but kept the basic color schemes. As a sort of tribute to this, I've kept all later paintjobs very simple, along with the basing, which is just simple flocking. The Samhain logo was a bit of my current painting stylings creeping in, but on the whole I think I've done a good job keeping things "back to basics".

The Dwarf army is about half the size of my Orcs, partly owing to the fact that every unit has been upgraded to Elite!

A dwarf warchief and battle leader share command responsibilities with a human allied leader:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(All three figures are Ral Partha. Des wanted a matriarchal command structure!)

The warchief, like mine, commands the missile units, which, unlike mine, are deadly effective:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The battle leader commands the infantry, a unit of speardwarves and two units of dwarves with double-handed axes:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Right now the dwarf infantry can't afford too many specials. The speardwarves have a standard (who I actually painted for one of the axe units, thus the weird contrast in color scheme) and the axe units each have a leader.

The human allies consist of a mere five foot knights, but man do they pack a wallop!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So that's how our armies look right now. Things are always subject to change, of course, but, like I said, the current configuration lends itself to pretty exciting battles.

Til next time!



Before the battle roll:
  • 1D for each command in your army (not counting mercenaries)
  • 2D for each Scout in your army
  • 1D for each Wizard in your army
  • 2D for each flying unit
  • 1D for each mounted unit
And add your Warchief's Leadership.
The side with the greater score has outscouted the enemy. If one side has a scouting score greater than twice that of the enemy, they have outmaneuvered them.
If the totals are tied, add the following modifiers:
  • +2 per Light Armored cavalry unit
  • +1 per Medium Armored cavalry unit
  • +1 per Light Armored infantry unit
Random River Strength Table
As any river with a mid- to high-level strength is nearly impossible to cross in FW, this table weights results towards the lower end of the scale.

Roll 1D:
1: Strength 1
2-3: Strength 2
4-5: Strength 3
6: Roll again...

Roll 1D:
1: Strength 4
2: Strength 5
3: Strength 6
4: Strength 7
5-6: Roll again...

Roll 1D
1-2: Strength 8
3-4: Strength 9
5-6: Strength 10

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fantasy Warriors Battle Report

Once again, it's Dwarves vs. Orcs, this time with our tweaked 1,250 point armies. After my ignominous defeat the last time out, I decided my greenskins needed some moral support in the form of standards and leaders. The upgrade made for a much more satisfying, albeit bloody, game.

We used the "official" scouting rules and, as Des opted not to scout, terrain layout was entirely up to me.

(Incidentally, from here on out we'll be using a house rule for scouting that's much more satisfying and less convoluted.)

I set up a veritable wilderness on the Dwarf side, with a marsh on one side and rocky, broken ground on the other, with a fair-sized wood in the middle. I decided that this was a surprise river crossing by the Orcs, my very own "crossing of the Delaware", and set up the "big river/shoreline" tiles on my side.

Desiree deployed her troops in the center, with three layers of defense consisting of crossbows, then a unit of axes and her human knight allies, then the other axe unit and her spearmen (speardwarfs?).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I went with my standard "double envelopment" setup, which might have been ill-suited to the rough terrain of the board in retrospect. Wolves and trolls on the flanks as fast movers, rabble archers out in front to act as a skirmish screen, and a strong center of sword- and spear-armed orcs.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

My left flank, with the trolls ready to mess things up.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

One of the swank new units, sporting their new standard, musician, leader and champion, complete with atmospheric back-lighting. ;)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

My wolves started on Hold thanks to their scouting (this is something we're doing away with with the new house rules--why would the scouting unit start off immobile and away from the action?), but that was quickly solved with an Eldritch Command from my wizard/warchief OTP. The rest of my army moved out as the Dwarf crossbows (aka the Murder Machines) opened up.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In the picture above you'll notice my trolls moving through the woods. That's as far as they'd get, as they were cut down in most cowardly fashion by volley after volley of crossbow bolts. Actually, if the trolls act as crossbow magnets, that's OK--less death for my other units! (Kinda like how tanks work in WWII games, or the Volley Gun in my old Warhammer army.)

Meanwhile, my wolfriders launced an attack on the Dwarven flank, cutting down a unit of crossbows as my spears and one unit of my swords moved up into the center. Meanwhile, the other unit of swords moved around the flank, stepping over the troll corpses...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

After mowing down the crossbows, the wolves charged on, catching the Human battle leader as she was making her way back to her troops after picking up new orders from the warchief.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Desiree threw a unit of axes into the battle to bolster her battle leader. The first bloody melee of the game ended with my wolfriders getting wiped out and the Dwarf axes (and Human battle leader) routing off the board.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

On the next turn, the Human knights quit the field. The right flank of the field had completely disintegrated! Sensing an opportunity, I moved my wizard up. Chanting and waving his arms, he opened a portal to another dimesion, summoning forth a demonic abomination...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

...who promptly ate the wizard and disappeared to his home dimension.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The fight was shaping up in the center. Both sides had expended their missile units and the infantry was moving in. This was turning into our own version of the Battle of the Wilderness. (Incidentally, this battle featured the premiere of my latest attempt at finding a compromise between woods that look good on the table and still let you play. Using pieces of felt to represent the boundaries of the woods, the trees are secured to the board with pins, making them removable if a unit goes through the woods. Since one of the pivotal battles took place in the middle of one of the woods this was the perfect opportunity to test out the system and it worked really well.)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The two sides clashed just as the sun began to rise. I realized I should've started the battle just before sundown--Bad Light doesn't effect maneuvering of units, but it DOES effect combat! On my left flank, Desiree desperately threw her crossbow units against my flanking unit. My Orcs cut through them, but were hung up for a couple turns.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The battle in the center was bloody indeed. My spears hung on nearly to the last Orc (those standards really make a difference--although I was also rolling well). Meanwhile, my swords, fueled by Bloodlust, fought in the woods to the last Orc, barely defeating the Dwarf axes (in the end I had to throw in my battle leader to provide the final "push").

As the Orc spears routed off the field, the Dwarf spears turned to face my flanking foce, which had finally cut down the last Dwarven crossbows.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The exhausted speardwarves didn't last long, and I soon stood in triumph--but at what cost? I had precisely eight miniatures on the table in the end. A Pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Lessons learned:

1) Orcs really benefit from standards and leaders.
2) Getting my boys into Bloodlust is most desirable. It happened "by accident" this time (once from a casualty test after taking missile fire, another time when the Dwarves counter-threatened one of my threatening units), but in the future I'll make use of magic and influence to try and whip my boys into a frenzy if the opposition doesn't do it for me.

I'm looking forward to our next battle, since I'm anxious to see if this victory was just a fluke. Plus the house rules I've assembled promise to add some extra levels of sophistication to the game. Until next time!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...