Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Throne of Skulls - Day 2

So after the hammering I'd received on Day 1, plus staying up late to join in with the Bugman's Bar Pub Quiz, I'd developed a massive headache on the drive home from Nottingham. Day 2 nearly didn't happen, as I missed my alarm and just about managed to get to Warhammer World for 9.15am on Sunday morning (with Game 4 starting at 9.30!) Would fortune deal me a different hand today?

Day 2

Game 4: Watchtower
Jim Cockburn - Khorne Warriors

Well, apparently not. Watchtower (the least favourable scenario for Wood Elves) against Khornate Warriors (probably the best troops to occupy a Watchtower!) Jim himself took one look at the table and my army, and instantly apologised for what was to come. I had no units that I could comfortably put in the Watchtower (except squishy archers, or minimum-sized Dryad units), and if Jim got his Warriors in the tower then I had nothing that would be able to get them to budge...

Jim's army was:
  • Angry-Ron, Khorne Lord on Juggernaut
  • Exalted BSB (with Warriors)
  • 15 Warriors of Khorne, additional hand weapons
  • 24 Marauders of Khorne
  • 5 Marauder Horsemen of Khorne
  • Warshrine
  • Slaughterbrute
  • Gorebeast Chariot
  • Hellcannnon
Jim's Khorne Lord, Angry-Ron
We began by rolling for who gained control of the watchtower, and I found myself winning the roll. If I placed a unit in the tower, I'd have found myself on the receiving end of a first turn charge from Jim's warriors. If I didn't place a unit in the tower, I'd give Jim an open road to move his warriors into the tower unopposed, and I'd never be able to get them out. A tough choice, but I decided to forgo the opportunity to deploy in the tower and instead deployed everything in my deployment zone. Jim responded by deploying his army in bulk, with the Warriors directing opposite the watchtower so that they could race inside as quickly as possible.

Jim received the first turn, and immediately the Warriors marched up to the walls of the watchtower in the certainty that they'd be able to enter before I could do anything about it. The Marauder Horsemen marched right into the face of the Eternal Guard, in between the wood and the corner of the watchtower. 

Jim's shooting consisted of just five throwing axes from the Horsemen into the Eternal Guard, and the Hellcannon landing a shot bang on top of them as well, combining to remove a rank. Magic saw the Warshrine bless the BSB and two unit champions with various bonuses...

My turn saw the Eternal Guard charge the Horsemen and slice through them, although they didn't overrun. The Dryads moved into the wood while the Treekin marched up as far as they could to the watchtower, with the Eagle moving ahead to block Angry-Ron. The Glade Guard advanced to get clear lines of sight. Magic achieved nothing, while shooting started taking the Marauders down and attempted to damage the Gorebeast chariot without success.

Turn Two, and Jim moved his Warriors into the tower as expected. The Gorebeast charged the Eagle, who fled and allowed Angry-Ron to then charge into the Treekin. The Slaughterbrute attempted to charge the Eternal Guard but failed to achieve the distance (the Marauders would have charged as well, but Jim couldn't fit both units in combat around the watchtower and so chose just to charge with the Slaughterbrute). The Hellcannon failed it's control test and was forced to attempt a charge against the nearest Eagle, although it failed to reach it by an inch. The slaughter unleashed by the Khorne Lord more than made up for the failed charges though, as he cut through four Treekin in one go. Unsurprisingly they broke and fled, although Angry-Ron could only catch the already-fleeing Eagle rather than the Treekin themselves. 

In response, the EG charged the Marauders while both Dryad units charged the Slaughterbrute (one in the front, one in the flank). The Spellweaver and Scouts moved up behind the EG, as it was the only place to avoid Angry-Ron's charge arc! The Treekin managed to rally right in front of Angry-Ron, while the small Glade Guard shuffled over to get a shot at the Khorne Lord. The Weaver attempted to skewer Angry-Ron with an Amber Spear, but was denied by his ward save. The big Glade Guard managed to take a wound from the Gorebeast Chariot but it kept on rolling inexorably towards them. The Eternal Guard broke the Marauders easily, but chose not to pursue and instead to reform to face the tower as I had to do something about those Warriors sitting inside! Unfortunately, despite inflicting two wounds on the Slaugherbrute, the Dryads were slaughtered in return and only four of the flanking unit were left to flee from the combat as the Slaughterbrute ran the other unit down. 

T3, and the Slaugherbrute carried on charging forward into the nearby small Glade Guard unit, despite losing another wound to the Stand & Shoot. The Gorebeast finally managed to reach the big Glade Guard unit, who took another wound with their S&S. The Warshine continued to bless the BSB and Warriors champion with bonuses, while the Marauders managed to rally. Rather than charge the Treekin,  Angry-Ron instead chose to march around to get into position to charge the Weaver and her bodyguard. Unsurprisingly, the Gorebeast Chariot broke the big Glade Guard unit but in a real turn up for the books, the small Glade Guard unit managed to kill the Slaughterbrute before it could attack! 

My turn again, and the Eternal Guard mustered the courage to charge into the watchtower and attempt to take on the Warriors. The Dryads failed to rally and came within an inch of fleeing the table, although the big Glade Guard decided they'd had enough and fled the field. The Scouts and small Glade Guard did what they could to avoid Angry-Ron's charge arc again, although the Glade Guard couldn't totally avoid it. The Weaver again tries to Amber Spear Angry-Ron to death, this time getting past his ward but only managing to roll one wound! To make matters worse, the Eternal Guard are completely wiped out by the Chaos Warriors (although my BSB managed to hit, wound and kill with all three of his attacks - most definitely the most he's ever achieved, because he's never rolled more than one hit before ever!)

Jim's turn and Angry-Ron forces the small Glade Guard to finally quit the field while the Gorebeast attempted to rejoin the action. The Hellcannon fired a perfect shot right on top of the Spellweaver's unit, killing all the Scouts but somehow failing to kill the Spellweaver, reducing her to just one wound. 

Clearly, this really annoyed the Weaver - to take her revenge, she finally managed to throw a killer Amber Spear through Angry-Ron's black heart and taking him out (although the Treekin had attempted to charge him instead, just as a precaution). The last Glade Guard continued to reduce the Marauders, while the Dryads manage to rally on the table edge. Back over to Jim and the Gorebeast ploughed into the rear of the Treekin while the Warriors sat comfortably in their watchtower. Naturally, the Gorebeast destroyed the Treekin, leaving my Spellweaver with a perfect shot for her Amber Spear. She duly obliged in my own turn, as did the Glade Guard who finished off the Marauders. 

The game ended up running all the way through to Turn 10 and right up to the time limit. By this point, we'd drawn quite a crowd of spectators (including the GW Event team!) who'd come to watch what had turned into an epic battle! By the time the game finally ended (obviously with Jim in control of the watchtower) I had a small unit of Glade Guard, half a unit of Dryads, and Eagle and a Spellweaver with one wound, while Jim had his Hellcannon, Warshrine, BSB and 12 Warriors left. 

Result: Loss

So another Loss, and with only one game left this was my last chance to recover some pride. I ended up facing off against Graeme Clarke and his Dark Elves - just like me, Graeme had lost his first four games as well...

Game 5: Dawn Attack
Graeme Clarke - Dark Elves

Graeme had resisted the urge to take many of the new Dark Elf toys in his list, and instead he had gone with something more "traditional", although he also fielded the first Special Character I'd seen over the weekend:

  • Morathi (with Corsairs)
  • Lv.2 Sorceress (with Corsairs)
  • BSB Master (with Corsairs)
  • 10 Repeater Crossbows with Musician and Banner
  • 10 Repeater Crossbows with Musician and Banner
  • 40? Corsairs with Musician and Banner
  • War Hydra
  • War Hydra
  • Reaper Bolt Thrower
  • Reaper Bolt Thrower
  • Bloodwrack Medusa
  • 5 Shades with Great Weapons
The deployment rolls were fairly kind to both of us: I ended up winning the roll off and deploying first, and ended up with a single unit of Dryads on the right flank, a unit of Dryads, the Treekin and Scouts with Weaver on the left, and everything else in the centre. I stacked everything towards the left flank, deploying the big GG and one small GG on the right of centre, the EG and second small GG on the left of centre, with the TK next to those GG and the Dryads on the left of the TK. One Eagle hid behind the EG, the other deployed behind the big GG.

Graeme ended up with a Bolt Thrower on his left, one unit of Crossbows on his right and everything else in the centre. He decided to stack both Hydras, both Bolt Throwers and the Medusa on his left flank (turns out he was terrified of what my shooting and Amber Spear could do to his Hydras, which I was quite surprised by)

I managed to win the roll off and chose to go first, to take advantage of my greater shooting range (30" for Wood Elves, compared to just 24" for his Crossbows). The Dryads on both flanks marched straight forward as far as they could, with both Eagles doing the same to hide behind both woods in an effort to avoid the worst of Graeme's shooting. The Treekin marched to threaten the Corsairs, with the Eternal Guard moving up to the watchtower to threaten the Shades or Corsairs as the situation dictated. Magic saw the Shades fall foul to Curse of Anraheir, which would severely hamper their shooting and would force them to take Dangerous Terrain tests if they moved anywhere. Shooting saw the right hand Glade Guard units begin the punishment of the Crossbows on my right - even at extreme long range, they managed to kill half the unit but the Druchii passed their Panic test. The Glade Guard on the left began the long process of whittling down the Corsairs, but could only manage a single casualty. 

Graeme's turn began rather more cautiously than I was expecting. He chose to move the Shades away from the Eternal Guard and out of the watchtower, but suffered three casualties as a result of Curse of Anraheir. The Hydras edged forwards between the two Bolt Throwers, being careful not to obscure their line of sight, while the Medusa moved around alongside the Crossbows to get a clear shot at the Eagle lurking behind the wood. The Corsairs, accompanied by the BSB and Morathi, inched forwards very slightly to avoid moving through the wood and to leave only long charges if the Treekin and Eternal Guard wanted to make it into combat, while the Sorceress decided she didn't like their company and left the unit. The right-hand Crossbows moved as far as they could to get into range of the Glade Guard, while the left-hand Crossbows were already in range of the Dryads but failed to inflict any damage when the time came. Graeme's magic had the potential to be very dangerous, and I chose to use my Dispel Scroll straight away when he tried to use Spirit Leech on my BSB. The Corsairs took a couple of wounds from the Eagle but not enough to kill it, the Shades achieved nothing thanks to Curse of Anraheir again, the Medusa managed to pluck the Eagle from the sky, while the combined fire of two Bolt Throwers and the Crossbows on the right could only kill three of the small Glade Guard unit, who passed their Panic test with ease. 

My Turn 2 saw an early charge attempt from the Eternal Guard and Treekin into the Corsairs only half succeed, as the Eternal Guard made the distance but the Treekin fell short. This wasn't what I had hoped for! Elsewhere, the Dryads on the right began to toy with the Hydras, moving up on the right-hand side of the wood, out of charge arc. The Dryads on the left employed a similar ploy with the Crossbows, entering the wood and forcing the Crossbows to move if they wanted a clear shot before the impending charge. The remaining Eagle flew over the Dark Elf line in order to threaten the flank of the first Bolt Thrower, forcing Graeme to deal with it somehow. The Glade Guard continued their shooting, with the Crossbows on the right removed completely. The two remaining Shades survived the few shots that managed to hit them. The combat between the Corsairs and the Eternal Guard ended up completely level, despite Morathi killing the Eternal Guard champion in a challenge. 

Graeme's second turn saw the remaining Crossbows fail their swift reform to face the Dryads, preventing them from shooting at the forest spirits coming their way. The Medusa had to do something about the remaining Eagle and so moved across to get another clear shot, removing the last wound from the birdie. The Hydras continued to dance with the Dryads, both of them moving to line up a charge, while the two remaining Shades hit the flank of the Eternal Guard with their great weapons. Morathi again tried to Spirit Leech my BSB, but I managed to dispel this, so instead she cast Doom & Darkness , reducing their Ld by 3, and Word of Pain on them. Graeme's shooting again fell short of expectations with the two Bolt Throwers only managing to kill two more Glade Guard, who again passed their Panic test. The combat saw things swing in Graeme's favour, however, as Morathi succeeded in cutting down my BSB in another challenge and the Corsairs took bloody chunks out of the Eternal Guard. The Guard lost the combat with just two of their number alive, were no longer Stubborn and were taking a Break test on basic Ld6 thanks to Doom & Darkness. They needed Insane Courage and unsurprisingly failed to roll the necessary double 1s. Graeme pursued with the Shades and ran the unit down, while the Corsairs restrained themselves to face the oncoming Treekin.

Turn 3, and the Treekin attempted to make amends for their earlier failed charge by smashing in to the Corsairs, while the left-hand Dryads did the same against the Crossbows (who did no damage with their S&S). On the right, the Dryads couldn't totally avoid the Hydras' charge arc, but more importantly managed to make it into the nearby wood and thus become Stubborn against whatever was coming their way. The Glade Guard continued to advance on Graeme's remaining units, with the right-hand units attempting to take out one or both of the Bolt Throwers but failing. The left-hand Glade Guard tried to take out the onrushing Shades, but could only kill one of them. Both combats went my way, as the Dryads reduced the Crossbows by half and the Treekin took out plenty of Corsairs for only two wounds in return, but both units passed their Steadfast Break tests and held. 

Graeme's turn again and one of the Hydras finally managed to catch the elusive Dryads, although the other Hydra was unable to assist it's kin so instead repositioned to help out in the next turn. The Medusa slithered across behind the Corsairs in an attempt to assist the Crossbows out on the left. Magic saw Morathi attempt to use Spirit Leech on my Spellweaver, but the Hag Sorceress lost the roll-off. The Bolt Throwers had another abysmal round of shooting, reducing the small Glade Guard unit on the right down to three. Things went from bad to worse for Graeme as the Dryads on the left killed the remaining Crossbows in short order and reformed to face the Medusa, and the Treekin inflicted another devastating round of casualties on the Corsairs who this time broke and fled, taking the BSB and Morathi with them. The unit fled 8", Morathi fled 9", the Treekin pursued 10" and caught them both. That just summed Graeme's day up. The one upside for Graeme was that the Hydra managed to toast four of the Dryads it was facing for no wounds in return, but the Forest Spirits passed their Break test and held. 

In to Turn 4, and it was effectively all over. The Dryads charged the Medusa, the Glade Guard finished off the last Shade and shot down the lone Sorceress, while the Treekin stood still in an attempt to avoid adding to Graeme's suffering. The Dryads fighting the Medusa easily beat it and ran the creature down, while the Dryads on the right managed to hold on against the Hydra with just a single model remaining. Graeme's Turn 4 saw the other Hydra join the combat and finally kill the last Dryad, overrunning through the forest to threaten the Glade Guard who had survived for so long. The Bolt Throwers then finally succeeded in killing the unit of Glade Guard they'd been shooting at for four turns. 

Turn 5 saw salt well and truly rubbed into Graeme's wounds, as the untouched big Glade Guard unit simply swift reformed and sent arrow after arrow plunging into the approaching Hydra, sending it crashing to the ground in an astounding display of failed armour saves. With only one Hydra and two Bolt Throwers remaining, Graeme's turn was short and sweet. The last Hydra marched up to the big Glade Guard unit and spat fire all over them, killing half their number in one go and forcing them to flee towards the table edge. The Bolt Throwers again fluffed their shots and failed to inflict further damage on the fleeing Glade Guard. 

We had 15 minutes left at this point, and Graeme insisted we play to the end and let the game run it's course. The Glade Guard rallied, the Hydra survived the incoming spells and arrows, and then failed it's final charge before the Bolt Throwers had the last act of the battle as they took a final two casualties from the big Glade Guard unit, who this time held their ground and remained on the field. 

Graeme had his Hydra and two Bolt Throwers remaining. I had a unit of Dryads, the Treekin, my Scouts and Spellweaver, a small unit of Glade Guard and five members of the big Glade Guard unit still on the table. 

Result: Win!

So, come the final game of the weekend, I had recovered some pride and wouldn't go away with a 100% losing record. I felt incredibly sorry for Graeme after the game (well, from about Turn 2 onwards actually...) - you could tell by the end that he was getting fed up of things not going his way at all, but he remained a great sport and tried to keep his head up throughout. It would have been a much closer call if his dice had not been so tragically bad (four turns to kill ten unarmoured archers?!?!), but I can't deny the relief I felt when I saw his army across the table before deployment and I knew I had a good chance of at least a Draw. 

Graeme was one of only four Dark Elf players at the event, despite them having the very latest army book - I thought they'd be all the rage but that honour, perhaps unsurprisingly, went to the Warriors of Chaos with 19 representatives. Ironically enough though, it was a Dark Elves army that won the event!

As for me, I'd rescued my pride in the very last game and achieved my objectives of not losing every game and not coming absolute last. In the end, I only gained 6 points from a possible 20 but this was enough to ensure I came 71st out of 98 - not absolute last! I was also given the "Defender of Athel Loren" award for Best Wood Elves Player! (we'll quietly gloss over the fact that I was also the only Wood Elves player!!) 


  1. Great second report and good for you to reach your goals! And you deserve that diploma, as only we player!

  2. Sounds like you enjoyed the event and got a result at the end of the day.

    1. Yep, it was a great weekend Matt. Not full of powergamers as some people predicted (mentioning no names!) I wasn't expecting too much in terms of results, but it's always nice to win a game!