Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dogs of Win? Surely not!

Challenged as I was to a Warhammer battle by a very young upstart at the NightOwls club, I responded in the only way I know how, by bringing what I thought to be the least competitive army I possibly could to the table.

Why? You may ask. Well some would know for sure. Lose to a kid playing your best and you have no real excuse at all, lose with your worst and you can at least decry the army instead!

Anyhow, the kid had given it a lot of smack talk, and bragged that he would be bringing Azhag the Slaughterer to the table. A full 450 points of warboss on a Wyvern (or Dragon-lite as it might be termed). I must admit to checking his stats beforehand and concluded that my best chance of beating him was in a brace of cannon backed up by strong defensive units and an offensive punch. Sounds conventional enough; My army thus was broadly:

Level 4 Mage as general
Level 2 Mage
Captain on Winged Lion (Pegasus)
Alicanti Fellowship (20 Pikemen, including another legal hero)
Voland Venators (6 heavy Knights, with another legal hero)
4 Ogres with two hand weapons
2 units of 15 Dwarves with light armour and shields
10 Crossbowmen
10 Duellists with throwing knives and shields
10 Bodyguards with Halberds
2 Cannon

On the other hand the kid, came with a army which on paper would be fairly effective; as best I recall being:

Azhag (who also counts as a level 2 mage)
Another level 2 Shaman
A Goblin Level 2 shaman
20 Black Orcs
27 Orcs
30 or so Goblins with bows and 3 Fanatics
3 Trolls
5 Wolf Riders with bows
2 Wolf Chariots
1 Bolt Thrower

A lot of offensive ability if managed right.

A general overview of terrain and deployments

So what to do. Well the terrain set up suited me, despite the randomised movement of some of the items. I won the toss for edge choice and went for the open side, meaning I could base my defence around the stone walled field, whilst any attack he made would be slowed down crossing the ruins and woods. Here I guess was were his lack of experience played in my favour. We alternated units for deployment, and I stuck to my plan in the centre, trying to hide my increasing amazement at his own deployment.

Even if you don’t know Warhammer you can understand the questionable logic of sticking essentially half your army on a flank behind cover where it’s commander can have no influence on it. The Bolt thrower was placed early, allowing me to avoid what is pound for pound one of the cheapest and best killers of ranked units in the game. Conversely he put the rest of his shooting in a mass block, reducing it to no battlefield use other than as a Fanatic transporter.

Anyway. All this did rather play into my hands, allowing me to not so much refuse a flank, as an entire half of the battlefield. The initial couple of moves went well for me too. Unsurprisingly the troops on his right were of no value, so at the minute I was fighting a smaller effective force, I was able to spell and cannonade the goblins into a rout before the did any harm; taking a panicking chariot with them. The other chariot was lured into a fight it couldn’t win with my knights.

Then Azhag struck.

Bizarrely he targeted a cannon crew, obviously he saw these as a big threat. It was a one sided fight to be honest, as I didn’t get to roll a dice; the crew was wiped out, but that then sparked panic in the army. Whether he intended it or not, his choice of target looked pretty smart now. I didn’t fail many panic tests, but one that did was terrible, the Paymaster and his bodyguard broke. They were also protecting the General, and right at the back, they were off! The rest of the army needed to test now, but thankfully passed, still, Azhag had cost me 500 points or more, and evened things up. Thankfully he pursued off the table; giving me a respite.

I took the opportunity to advance my lines, and luckily rallied my other panicking unit. Looking at what was left I thought I could defeat him in detail, and hopefully Azhag would have not army left to command. The Ogres charged the Black Orcs, but despite killing several, lost out on resolution and were run down, the Dwarfs behind them bore the brunt next, whilst the wolf riders charged the Pike. It was looking bleak now as Azhag returned.

The Dwarfs broke, but the Wolf riders broke too, and the Orcs pursued to a point where their flank was wide open to my knights. This time an unforced error from Azhag saw him try to charge my Captain on his winged lion, who was easily out of range. Azhag wasted another turn.
The Knights wiped out one Orc unit, and the Pike hammered the other, The Dwarfs on my left contained the giant, who then along with the trolls went into a panic at the retreating Orcs. The Knights and Duellists attacked Azhag, and finally killed him, leaving only the Wyvern left.

It was the end!

I have to conclude that I was in some respects gifted the opportunity to win. The plan of my opponent revolved only around Azhag and his novelty troops, which he squandered through poor deployment and unsupported attacks. Azhag himself was a terrible threat, but one I was able to contain with about a third of my force leaving the other two thirds to deal with a poorly coordinated enemy.

I was chuffed with the win, and can only hope the kid learned a couple of tactical lessons!

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