Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Year of the Rat Marches On!

Yesterday was a momentous occasion, for two reasons. First - I played my first game of Warhammer Fantasy in nearly 18 months! Second - it was the first time my Skaven took to the field of battle.

That's where the celebrations end however, because the battle did not go in my favour at all! I hereby present the first of Warlord Queek Greyclaw's ignominious defeats...

~ ~ ~

Paul (my opponent) and myself arranged to fight a 1500pts battle, mostly because that was all I was comfortable of making with the figures I had assembled. As an aside, it was a pleasant surprise to find that I was only a couple of Poisoned Wind Mortars, a Warlock Engineer and a Warlord short of fielding a fully painted army (well, counting the current batch of Clanrats as "painted"...)

My army list was as follows:

Warlord Queek Greyclaw ~ 191pts
- Armour of Silvered Steel, Foul Pendant, Poisoned Attacks, Tail Weapon, Additional Hand Weapon

Warlock Engineer Snikch Kraventail ~ 155pts (Warp Lightning, Cracks Call)
- Lv.2, Warpmusket, Warlock Optics, Warp-Energy Condenser

Clanrats (40) ~ 285pts
- Full Command, Spears, Shields, Poisoned Wind Mortar

Clanrats (40) ~ 285pts
- Full Command, Spears, Shields, Poisoned Wind Mortar

Rat Ogres (5) ~ 216pts
- 2 Packmasters

Rat Ogres (5) ~ 216pts
- 2 Packmasters

Doomwheel ~ 150pts

Total = 1498pts

Paul's list was something like this (I don't know exact details):

Saurus Oldblood
- Cold One, Scimitar of the Sun Resplendent, Maiming Shield, maybe something else

Skink Priest (Uranon's Thunderbolt, Chain Lightning)
- Lv.2, equipment unknown

Skink Priest (Chain Lightning, Curse of the Midnight Wind)
- Lv.2, equipment unknown

Skinks (10)
- Blowpipes

Skinks (10)
- Blowpipes

Saurus (30)
- Full Command

Cold One Cavalry (10)
- Full Command

Chameleon Skinks (10?)

Pre-game and Deployment

Both Skink Priests rolled Chain Lightning, which was worrying. One then rolled Uranon's Thunderbolt while the other rolled Curse of the Midnight Wind. My Engineer rolled Cracks Call and Howling Warpgale, which I swapped for Warp Lightning (I reasoned that Cracks Calls could be very useful against low Int. Lizardmen!)

The Lizardmen deployed with Chameleon Skinks and one unit of Skinks on the right flank, Cold One Cavalry and Saurus in the centre, flanked by the last unit of Skinks. The two Skink Priests were in each of the Skink units, while the Oldblood deployed on his lonesome in between the Skinks and Saurus.

I deployed with the two Clanrat units in the centre opposite the Saurus and Cold Ones, with Rat Ogres flanking each unit to the left and right. The Doomwheel was deployed on the far right flank, while the Warlord joined one of the Clanrat units and the Warlock Engineer deployed in woods between the Doomwheel and the right-hand Rat Ogres.

Paul won the roll off for first turn and chose to take it.

Turn 1 Lizardmen

A general advance all along the line. No surprises there. Magic rolled a total of 7 Power Dice (5 Dispel). Thunderbolt was cast, I failed to dispel and so the left-hand Rat Ogres took 4 wounds (ouch!). Chain Lightning followed, which I again failed to dispel, and killed 3 Clanrats from the non-Warlord unit. No shooting, as everything was out of range.

Turn 1 Skaven

Everything advanced forwards. The Doomwheel took off towards the Lizardmen left flank where the single unit of Skinks were. I roll a grand total of 3 Power Dice, and fail to cast Warp Lightning (completely forgetting about the Warp-Energy Condenser...). Shooting suffered from similar failure as the Doomwheel rolled a misfire and veered Out of Control off towards the table edge. The first PWM targeted the Cold One Cavalry and scattered only slightly to take one out of action. The second PWM scatters massively (the dangers of indirect fire...) and ends up landing on the first PWM. Luckily it doesn't do anything except kill a nearby Clanrat from the non-Warlord unit.

Turn 2 Lizardmen

Advance again. 11 Power Dice and 6 Dispel; Chain Lightning goes off on the non-Warlord Clanrats, kills 6 of them, jumps to the PWM and kills it, and then jumps back to the same Clanrats to kill another 4. The Clanrats fail the resulting Panic test (Ld 10 on double 6s!). They turn tail and flee off the board....

Thunderbolt casts with Irresistible Force on the Warlord Clanrats, killing one. The Skink Priest suffers a Dimensional Cascade and is sucked into the Realm of Chaos! The other Priest tries to cast another Chain Lightning but gets dispelled with double 6s of my own.

In the Shooting phase, Skinks do another 4 wounds to the left-hand Rat Ogres (8 wounds taken in two turns!) The Skinks of the Lizardmen left do 3 wounds to the right-hand Ogres.

Turn 2 Skaven

Three charges to declare: the left-hand Rat Ogres (what's left of them...) charge the Skinks in front of them. The right-hand Rat Ogres charge the Saurus, and the Doomwheel rumbles into the right-hand Skinks, who flee. I roll 6 Power Dice and finally cast Warp Lightning, killing 4 of the Skinks who fled the Doomwheel. The Doomwheel continues killing Skinks in the Shooting phase, taking 2 casualties. The surviving PWM kills another 2 Cold One Cavalry.

In combat, the left-hand Rat Ogres kill 3 Skinks and suffer 3 wounds in return. Luckily, the lone remaining Ogre wins the fight thanks to charging. The Skinks flee and are caught. The right-hand Ogres kill 4 Saurus but lose by 1 thanks to the Saurus' standard. They flee 7" while the Saurus only pursue 6". The Warlord Clanrats take a Panic test for the Rat Ogres breaking, and I fail my second Ld 10 test (this time on 11!)


Turn 3 Lizardmen

The Saurus charge the fleeing Rat Ogres, who manage to flee out of reach. The Cold One cavalry advance right to the rear of the Clanrats. Chain Lightning casts on 20, but gets dispelled luckily. The Chameleon Skinks attempt to shoot the remaining PWM but miss everything.

Turn 3 Skaven

The Rat Ogres fail to rally and flee the board. The Clanrats do manage to rally, just in time to receive a double charge from the Cold One cavalry and Saurus *sigh*

The Doomwheel attempts to plough into the back of the Saurus, but falls short. Warp Lightning manages to cast on 25, and promptly gets dispelled with 26. Cracks Call is cast in an attempt to suck the Oldblood down into the earth, but the lizard manages to pass it's Int. test. I kill two Skinks though...

The PWM targets the Saurus (the Cold One cavalry are too close...) and kills 3. Meanwhile the Doomwheel does 1 wound to the Oldblood.

Turn 4 Lizardmen

Predictably, the Cold One cavalry and Saurus charge the Clanrats who manage to pass their Fear test. The Oldblood charges the Warlock Engineer, who flees.

Chain Lightning goes off with Irresistible Force once again, causing one wound on the Doomwheel. The Priest survives but is reduced to Lv.1. The Chameleon Skinks finally kill the remaining PWM

In the combat, the Warlord and Clanrats tear into the Cold One cavalry and Saurus, killing 3 of the former and 1 of the latter. In return, the Cold One cavalry slay 7 Clanrats while the Saurus kill another 4. Unsurprisingly, the Clanrats lose the combat, fail their Break test and flee off the board.

And so, with a wounded Doomwheel, a fleeing Warlock Engineer and a thoroughly battered Rat Ogre left on the table for me, we called it a day. 1440VP to 390VP, which is a fairly convincing Massacre.

The Aftermath

Naturally, there are a fair few things we/I forgot during the course of the battle. We're obviously a bit rusty when it comes to Warhammer, and neither of us have had more than two games of 8th Edition since it came out. I'm sure there are more that I've missed, but here's what I've realised since sitting down and writing this out:

  • Firstly, the turning point of the battle was the Chain Lightning on Turn 2. After sitting down, picking up the rulebook and reading the entry for Chain Lightning, it clearly says that a unit can only be targeted once per turn. That would have meant the Clanrats only suffered 6 casualties and would not have had to take a Panic test, would not have fled and may have turned the tide of the battle. It's hard to explain how we missed this, because Paul had the rulebook open to the Lore of Heavens for the whole game, and I had a rulebook available to check up on any rules. While I want to claim it was a dastardly plan by the Lizardmen to thwart their hated rat-men enemies, I think we can only put this down to unfamiliarity with the rules...
  • We (Paul...) completely forgot to roll Stupidity for any of his Cold Ones. This one I am going to blame him for, because it's his army and he's played it for years! Would it have had a major effect on the game? Probably not, so it's not really a big deal.
  • I completely forgot about the Rat Ogres being Frenzied. While it might seem hypocritical, I'm not going to blame myself for this (even though it's obviously "my fault") because it didn't affect Paul at all - it was only detrimental to me, because it denied me those extra attacks. Considering how tight the combat with the Saurus unit was (I only needed to kill one more Saurus to draw...), those extra 4 attacks could have made all the difference...
  • I completely forgot about pretty much all of the Warlock Engineer's equipment. I didn't fire his Warpmusket once, and consequently didn't use the Warlock Optics either. I completely forgot about the Power dice-generating rules for the Warp-Energy Condenser (although I remembered the extra damage). Probably not game changing, but those S5 AP shots could have sniped the Oldblood or a few Cold One cavalry.
EDITED 8/2/12 

Following a further check-up of the rules, I've found a few more things we missed/got wrong! 
  • Steadfast isn't negated by flank attacks! I didn't realise this at all. The flank attack from the Saurus would have still negated the rank bonus, so I wouldn't have got Strength In Numbers, but I'd have at least been testing on the Warlord's unmodified Ld 7 rather than suffering the massive -11 modifier.
  • Stomp attacks - I completely forgot that the Rat Ogres had them. Again, those extra attacks (and likely casualties) may have made all the difference. 

Thoughts, Commentary and Analysis

So that didn't go very well, but it's taught me a few lessons about the Skaven army. Firstly, Rat Ogres are vulnerable! T4 and no armour means they don't survive long, and both my units got battered by magic and shooting before they saw combat, which very much reduced their effectiveness. The answer is probably to screen them with cheap, throwaway units like Giant Rats (or shoot and magic all those annoying Skirmisher-types into the ground before they get to my Rat Ogres...). I did consider fielding them in a big block of 10 rather than two smaller units of 5. It would give me a huge battering ram of a unit (35 S5 attacks!), would be easier to screen (only one unit to cover, rather than two) and more survivability (more models = more wounds  = greater capacity for casualties before they die). Might be worth considering.

I was very impressed with the Poisoned Wind Mortars - they proved to be pretty deadly, when they weren't scattering onto my own troops. Luckily, Paul presented a nice big target by putting the Cold One cavalry and Saurus blocks together - if I didn't hit one, there was a pretty good chance I'd hit the other. Moving and firing was another bonus, and is the primary reason why I picked them over Warpfire Throwers or Ratling Guns. Overall, they were well worth their points - these might be the next painting project once I finish the current batch of Clanrats.

The Doomwheel was slightly disappointing, but then it didn't really get chance to see much action. I was looking forward to seeing it plough through the massed ranks of the Saurus from the rear, but the dice weren't in my favour (they never are...).

All in all, lots of lessons learned. Hopefully I'll have plenty of chances in the next few months to refine and build on my army, and bring glory to Clan Rictus! For now, it's time to get back to reading up on tactics and painting more Clanrats.

Oh, and buying some loaded dice...


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