After the dismal display of generalship (or lack thereof) from Greyclaw in his first battle (which you can read about here), it was only a matter of time before he plucked up his courage and took to the table top once again. Monday saw me play Paul again, but this time he had a shiny new book: he'd picked up the new Vampire Counts army book and was desperate to try them out. I agreed, sure in the knowledge that this second outing of Clan Rictus couldn't be much worse than the first...
The desire to play with a fully painted army overcame the need to make changes to the list, and so I stuck with what I used in the first game:
Warlord Queek Greyclaw ~ 191pts
- Armour of Silvered Steel, Foul Pendant, Poisoned Attacks, Tail Weapon, Additional Hand Weapon
Warlock Engineer Snikch Kraventail ~ 155pts (Warp Lightning, Howling Warpgale)
- 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 new-fangled list was something like this:
Master Necromancer (Invocation of Nehek, Gaze of Nagash, Wind of Death, Raise Dead)
- Lv.4, Master of the Dead
Vampire (Invocation of Nehek, Hellish Vigour)
- Red Fury, Sword of Strife, Lv.2
- Full Command
- Full Command
Pre-game and Deployment
I rolled Warp-Lightning and Howling Warpgale straight off, which was fortunate - Howling Warpgale might help to mitigate those nasty Vargheists flying across the table, and Warp-Lightning is a Warlock Engineer's spell of choice.
Paul started off by rolling Vanhel's and Hellish Vigour, and chose to swap Vanhel's for Invocation. The Necromancer picked up Invocation, Wind of Death, Gaze of Nagash and Raise Dead.
I lost the roll-off for deployment and was made to place first. The two Clanrat units took the centre, flanked by their respective Mortars who were flanked in turn by the two units of Rat Ogres. The Doomwheel went out on the right flank.
Paul proceeded to avoid the Doomwheel and load his own right flank with the Varghulf, Banshee and Vargheists. The infantry took up position opposite my own troops, a symmetrical deployment with a unit of Ghouls and Skeletons on either side of the Corpse Cart. The Necromancer hid behind one unit of Ghouls while the Vampire hid behind the other.
I won the roll-off for first turn, and took it.
Turn 1 Skaven
A very brief movement phase opened the game, with the Doomwheel advancing down the right flank and the Clanrats edging forward so that the Warlock Engineer was within range for some Warp-Lightning action.
Magic came and rolled 5PD, with 3DD. I forgot the Warp-Energy Condenser again, and failed to channel, but Howling Warpgale went through along with Warp-Lightning on the left-hand Ghouls killing 5 of them.
The Doomwheel driver failed his Ld test not to shoot, and the Wheel ending up zapping the nearest Rat Ogres, causing 10 wounds! Ouch!! Meanwhile, the right-hand PWM lands a globe right on top of the right-hand Ghouls and kills 5 of them, and the left-hand PWM aims for the left-hand Ghouls but ends up catching the back of the Skeletons, killing 2.
Turn 1 Vampires
The Undead begin their march forward; the nasties on the left flank advance ahead of the infantry (although the Vargheists are thankfully stymied by Howling Warpgale). The Skeletons on the far right wheel to face the Doomwheel while the rest of the infantry move straight fowards.
Magic generates 7PD, with 5DD. Invocation from the Vampire raised the right-hand Ghouls back up to full strength. Gaze of Nagash casts, but I chose to let it go through for the loss of two Clanrats. The final attempt at Invocation is thoroughly dispelled.
Turn 2 Skaven
Both units of Rat Ogres are forced to charge at the Varghulf and right-hand Skeletons respectively, but a poor set of rolls sees both charges fail and the Rat Ogres shuffle forwards. The Doomwheel suffers a similar bout of bad rolling, and trundles forwards a paltry 6". The Clanrats advance to maintain the line.
Magic comes around and I get a massive 12PD to work with. Quite perplexed as to what to do with this new-found power, the Warlock Engineer proceeds to roll three 6s on four dice when casting Warpgale and causes a Calamitous Detonation, killing 3 Clanrats and wounding himself.
Meanwhile, in the Shooting phase, the Doomwheel zaps 3 Skeletons from the right-hand unit, one of the PWMs kills 3 Skeletons from the other unit and the final PWM shot misses everything by a country mile.
Turn 2 Vampires
The first successful charges of the game as the Vargheists and Varghulf charge the left-hand Rat Ogres. Everything else advances, and the slight bottleneck means we're relatively evenly matched in the centre.
Another poor roll for magic sees the Undead given a paltry 4PD to work with. Despite all that, Invocation manages to cast big and pretty much raises everything I'd killed thus far. The only Vampire shooting of the game sees the Banshee attempt to scream the PWM to death, only to fail dismally.
Combat gets pretty brutal as the Varghulf and Vargheists inflict a total of 11 wounds on the Rat Ogres. The Ogres inflict 7 wounds back against the Vargheists, but only manage 1 against the Regenerating Varghulf. The resulting break test sees the Ogres flee off the table. While the last Vargheist pursues, the 'gulf reforms to face the flank of the nearby Clanrats. Uh oh...
Turn 3 Skaven
A series of charges from the rats; both Clanrat units charge the Ghouls in front of them, while the remaining Rat Ogre unit charges the right-hand Skeletons. The Doomwheel then ploughs into the flank of the same Skeletons. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Greyclaw's unit of Clanrats manage to fail their Fear test...
No magic as the Engineer was engaged in combat, and so straight onto shooting. The Doomwheel zaps another 3 Skeletons, while the PWMs both fire at the Corpse Cart and miss completely.
Combat comes around, and the Undead all have ASF thanks to the Corpse Cart. The Skeletons cause 2 wounds on the Ogres, killing one before it can strike and leaving a solitary Ogre with his packmasters. In return the Ogre, Packmasters and Doomwheel manage to kill 5 Skeletons, leaving another 6 to crumble. The unit holds on though...
Meanwhile, the Warlord's Clanrats suffer 4 wounds from the Ghouls - in return, Greyclaw makes up for his cowardice by slaying 4 Ghouls in return (despite being WS1!). The Ghouls consequently lose the combat by 4, but it isn't enough to destroy them. The final combat doesn't turn out quite as well, with the Ghouls only losing by a single point.
Turn 3 Vampires
The undead closed in as the Banshee and Varghulf both charged the flank of the nearest Clanrat unit. Magic is uneventful, although a crucial Invocation is dispelled to prevent all those slain Undead rising again!
In combat the Ghouls, Varghulf and Banshee kill 10 Clanrats, while the Clanrats cause 3 wounds on the Ghouls. The Steadfast Skaven manage to fail their Ld10 Break test again, and get run down by the Banshee. The unit's PWM turns tail and runs, while the other Clanrats and PWM just manage to hold.
The second Ghouls suffer a single wound from Greyclaw whilst inflicting 2 in return; they lose the combat by 3 but stay in the fight. On the right, the lone Rat Ogre is reduced to a single wound, but between it and the Doomwheel, the remaining Skeletons are slain.
Turn 4 Skaven
The Doomwheel has a clear LoS to the Corpse Cart, and smashes into the side of it. Before combat can begin though, the Cart is blown apart by the Doomwheel's lightning, taking a Ghoul with it. The remaining PWM misfires and explodes.
In the combat, the Clanrats finally defeat the Ghouls and cause them to crumble. They reform to face the oncoming Varghulf.
Turn 4 Vampires
More charges as the Varghulf charges the front of the Clanrats, the Vampire charges the rear and the last Vargheist threads its way through the charge the Doomwheel. The Ghouls and Skeletons reform to face the oncoming Doomwheel.
In a surprise move, the Necromancer casts Raise Dead to raise a unit of Skeletons in the flank of the Clanrats. As if they weren't dead already... Invocation then strengthens said Skeleton unit.
In the combat, the Warlord manages to inflict 4 wounds on the Varghulf, but 2 of them get Regenerated. In return, the Varghulf munches down 4 Clanrats. In the rear, the Vampire begins tearing her way through the rats, slaying 8 of them thanks to Red Fury and her big nasty magic sword. Luckily, the unit hold their courage.
Meanwhile, the Doomwheel ploughs through the Vargheists easily, but suffers a wound in return and goes Out of Control. In a quirk of fate, the loss of control turns the Doomwheel through 90 degrees and moves it straight into touch with the Banshee...
Turn 5 Skaven
No moves, no magic, straight onto shooting (which was rapidly becoming my favourite phase of the game...) The Doomwheel starts by zapping the Banshee and frying her with 5 unsaved wounds. Next closest target is the Master Necromancer, who swiftly follows the Banshee into the Great Beyond with another 5 wounds caused.
The combat proceeded much as it had in the previous round; Greyclaw managed another 2 wounds on the Varghulf, the Varghulf kills another 4 Clanrats in return. The Vampire suffers a poor show of form and only manages to kill 3 Clanrats. Most surprisingly though, the Clanrats manage to inflict 2 unsaved wounds on the Varghulf, thus slaying the giant beastie. It doesn't stop the Clanrats losing the combat though, but they manage to pass a second consecutive Break test and hold!
Turn 5 Vampires
We didn't actually play a fifth turn for the Vampires as time was getting on, and the result was a forgone conclusion anyway. Charges were declared with the Ghouls and the newly-raised Skeletons into the Clanrats, while the other Skeleton unit attempted and failed to charge the Doomwheel.
By this point, the Clanrats were down to a single rank and were faced with two units of 15-strong infantry, and so were no longer Steadfast. The Vampire likely would have finished the Clanrats on her own (although she'd have gotten steamrollered by the Doomwheel in the following turn, if I'd had my way!)
On the face of things, it seemed to be almost another whitewash for Greyclaw and his minions. I had killed a unit each of Ghouls, Skeletons and Vargheists, along with the Varghulf, Corpse Cart, Necromancer and Banshee for a total of 998VPs, plus 25 for a single standard. The end of the Vampire T5 would almost certainly have seen me with just a Doomwheel and a single Rat Ogre left, meaning Paul would have claimed a total of 1132VPs, plus 150 for Greyclaw and two standards. That leaves a difference of 259VPs, which would only be a very Minor Victory (35VPs from a draw...). Having added that up now, it makes me feel slightly better!
Thoughts, Commentary and Analysis
So it turns out I was right, and Greyclaw's second appearance on the field wasn't any worse than the first. In fact, it was much better. I can't really think of any one thing to attribute this to, other than better dice rolling perhaps. The first game probably wasn't a fair test of the army's capabilities, although it definitely highlighted some weaknesses. Those same weaknesses showed up to a (thankfully) lesser extent here as well. The two biggest are namely Leadership, and Killing Power.
Leadership tests are the bane of my existence, and it doesn't just apply to Skaven. I can't do much about my dice rolling (other than ritually sacrifice the Plastic Cubes of Despair). But the biggest way to mitigate my lousy rolling would be to get a Battle Standard Bearer into the list as soon as humanely (skavenly?) possible. I have a model, I can get it painted and I can make space for it in the list - then I'll have two chances to fail Ld10 tests!
The next weakness is killing power; simply put, what I've got to work with at the moment isn't hitty enough, not enough dies (well, not enough enemies die...). The Rat Ogres are capable of dealing out some hefty damage, but they don't stand up to it in return which makes them a bit of a glass cannon. This only reiterates what I said after the first game; T4 and no armour means they cannot sustain any sort of damage for long. Granted, blasting them with my own Doomwheel probably doesn't help but all the same. At least this time they got to cause a good amount of damage in return. It does make the idea of shielding them more appealing, as well as perhaps combining the two units into a single big hitty unit to maintain some semblance of durability (I just hope Clan Moulder has a sale on Rat Ogres soon...)
So it's back to the drawing board, ready to put my (revised) devious plans for world domination into action once again. I have a couple of surprises on the way, courtesy of Clan Ebay, so they might add a bit more punch in the short term. With the first 1500pts of the army done though, it might be time to start thinking long-term and begin planning the expansion to 2000pts and beyond...