Friday, 24 November 2017

Bloodbath at Nappa Valley - Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of the report of the two Middlehammer Tournament test games played at BIG (Bristol Independant Gaming) against two great opponents in Ben and Adam. You can find the report of the first game (High Elves vs Lizardmen) here.

Next up it was my Orcs and Goblins vs High Elves chosen by Ben but commanded in battle by Adam. The first game had been over in 4 turns and under the 2 hour limit, but there had been some discussion among those interested in the tournament as to whether more unwieldy armies like the Greenskins with both more units to move each turn and all their random movement and comedy misfire charts, would slow the game down too much. Well, as you can see from my list below I certainly set out to test that theory!

Essential reading material while on any Queasy Jet flight; Safety Card? - yep; In flight shopping catalogue? - check; Middlehammer era Warhammer Armies book? - just mind you don't spill your G&T in my direction, alright!

Orc and Goblin Murder Hobos:

Orc Warlord (mounted on a Wyvern) w/ Light Armour, Shield, and an extra Hand Weapon + Amulet of Fire, Bone Blade, and Armour of Fortune (369 pts)
Orc Big Boss w/ Light Armour, Shield + Shrieking Blade and Enchanted Shield (115 pts)
24 Orc Big 'Uns (inc Standard Bearer) w/ Light Armour, Shield + Banner of Arcane Protection (287.5 pts)
11 Orc Arrer Boys (71.5 pts)
Small Orc Rock Lobber (66.5 pts)
20 Night Goblins (inc. Standard Bearer and Musician) w/ short bows + 2 Fanatics and War Banner (151 pts)
20 Night Goblins (inc. Standard Bearer and Musician) w/ short bows + 2 Fanatics (126 pts)
Goblin Doom Diver (100 pts)
3 Ogres w/ extra hand weapons (123 pts)
6 bases of Snotlings (in two units of 3) (90 pts)

Total: 1499.5 pts

I had two main ideas in mind with this list. I wanted them to hit hard, hence the Wyvern, Ogres and Big 'Uns instead of normal Orc Boys, and not have to worry too much about animosity so I included 'spacer' units like the Snotlings and Ogres. I also knew I wasn't going to try and compete with a High Elf Master Mage. I toyed with the idea of taking a basic Night Goblin Shaman and giving him the Staff of Lightning to add even more firepower, but in the end I elected to spend the points on the spacer units and rely on my magical defences for my key units.

Ben's very striking High Elves. Snickers Kingsize for scale.

High Elf Strike Force:

HE Lord + Ogre Blade and Armour of Meteoric Iron (225 pts)
6 Dragon Princes (inc. Standard Bearer) + Banner of Might (283 pts)
Master Mage + Dispel Magic Scroll (244 pts)
16 Archers (160 pts)
2 Repeater Bolt Throwers (200 pts)
21 White Lions of Chrace inc Standard, Musician, + Shields, and Standard of Shielding (382 pts)

Total 1494 pts

This list was refined from Ben's first test games against Jon's Undead, and I have to say it has the edge on my list from the first battle in a couple of ways. Firstly, the special rules for the Dragon Princes mean that even though they are just as well kitted out as my heavy build Silverhelms, they are a fair bit cheaper freeing up points elsewhere (oh, how I would have liked a second bolt thrower!). Secondly, the placing of the General with the White Lions, and with the standard of shielding means they are both hard hitting and super resilient.

Apologies that I didn't get a picture of Ben's monster unit of White Lions, which although unpainted was still an intimidating sight I can tell you. How about a better picture of those lovely Dragon Princes instead? Hmm?

mmmMMMmmm Dragon Princes... drooool!

Bloodbath at Nappa Valley - Part 2!

Commander Semillion Chardonnay, Lord of White Oak, cursed the youthful exuberance of Pinot Grigio. which some found refreshing but he had always found unconvincing at the finish. He gazed about the scene where the young cavalry captain had died and rued that he had been proved so tragically right. A runner, one of the archers, approached him with news that movement had been spotted on the trail behind them.

"No doubt the Lizardmen think to circle behind us having baited the trap with our own dead!"

The Wizard Merlot was right, the Lizardmen were a cunning and vicious foe and something with more body was required.

"Hit them hard, hit them fast. The archers will pick off the survivors. Merlot and I will deal with the Frog-priest"
The Lord Commander looked up at Shiraz the Red, leader of the unit of elite Dragon Princes and bearer of the magical Banner of Might, who nodded silently in return.

It was a moment of great surprise when the Elves realised they were fighting Greenskins not Lizardmen, how the hell did they come to be here, and why now? There had been no reports of Orc and Goblin tribes in the area!?

The High Elves set up first, with the battery of bolt throwers in the centre, Dragon Princes positioned to charge towards the open ground in the middle of the field and Archers next to them but behind a hill, no doubt looking to take the high ground on the first turn. The White Lions were positioned on the extreme right flank and the dispersed formation gave me a bit of a headache deployment wise as I had hoped to position a unit of Night Goblins (each concealing their obligatory fanatics) to face off against each of his main offensive units, but the congested terrain and proximity to the table edge made that unappealing on the flank against the White Lions, and would either risk my own flank being left open to encirclement, or left my centre open to the Dragon Princes Charge.

The High Elf deployment - White Lions in the distance appropriately hiding in the trees.

I opted to protect the near flank and centre, and try and box the cavalry in with both units of Night Goblins. I left the far flank to Artillery and archers, with an idea to thin out the white lions and then try and arrange a flank charge from my Ogres. Best laid plans and all that... I wanted my centre to be strong, anticipating the charge of the Dragon Princes if something went wrong with Plan A so the Big 'Uns and Warlord on Wyvern were deployed there. One to hold the line and one for rapid response. The idea of Snotlings and Ogres as anti-animosity spacer units dictated their placement somewhat. Reflections on deployment at the end, but let's just say I'd change it a bit for next time.

The Orc and Goblin Deployment.

Warlord 'Scrumpy' Rotgut (no relation) had gathered his bosses and unit leaders together for one last chance to shout at them before the battle. He knew they was all good lads since they had been the ones to follow him and make it through all the killing and the drowning when the Black Arc had crashed and the slave pens had broken open.

He shifted in the saddle of Cripple Cock his newly subdued Wyvern, (he always found the wilder breeds to have a more potent venom compared to the factory farmed ones you were seeing everywhere nowadays) and cleared his throat by hawking a gob of phlegm at a nearby mob of Snotlings before he started his inspiring speech.

"Right lads. Turns out de old shaman was right on da money when he said this valley would be full of pointy eared elves, so our luck is in. Now, you all know da score so no mucking about mouthing off at each other and jabbing da mob next to yers with da pointy ends of yer weapons, right!?"

Some of the assembled orcs and goblins stared at the floor and looked a bit shifty.

"Right. Now you, Blackthorn, take yer Arrer Boys and try not to let dem artillery bits get run over before dey've wrecked a few fings. Natch, you and dem Big 'Uns hold da line and soak it up 'til it's time to run in and smash dere top boys in da gob. And youse two," he said pointing menacingly
with his axe at Crabapple and Browntrousers the night goblin standard bearers and unit leaders, "make sure you get as close as you can to de 'orsees before you let dem crazy twats off da leash, right!? Right."

High Elf Turn One: It immediately became obvious that even with a march the archers would not be able to take the hill (steep sides so half movement) on the first turn - indeed, it looked like it was going to take a second march so they would be out of the battle for half of the game and Ben and Adam immediately realised and regretted that move. The Dragon Princes advance cautiously around the hill and face towards my centre as expected, but wisely not wanting to commit or expose themselves too soon. Meanwhile on the far flank the White Lions march from the cover of the woods towards the rocky outcropping in the middle of the field.

You can just see the plumes of the archers feathered headgear behind the hill as the Dragon Princes advance for the charge.

The bolt throwers both target the Night Goblin Archers in the centre but only four out of eight bolts hit home at long range, worse for the elves only one of the four hits actually wounds, so only a single goblin dies and no break test is LD test is required. Phew!

My tactic of not taking a magic user is not quite as effective in 5th edition as it can be in 4th, if you play the rule where one dice per magic user is rolled, but in 5th it states it is always two dice. This is also what we had played in the first game, where there were 3 magic users. I think that is much fairer both ways actually, and is certainly the best rule to play in a tournament. Sadly for the High Elves the winds of magic blow very weakly and the turn ended without any casting being attempted.

The view from the Orc and Goblin back line as they take fire from the battery of bolt throwers dead ahead.

Orc and Goblin Turn One: Passing all their animosity rolls and taking advantage of the elven archers being out of action the Orc and Goblin line moves up aggressively and the Warlord on his Wyvern shifts to the near flank in front of the hill the archers are trying to take. The night goblins now in front of the Wyvern march and wheel to try and ensure the cavalry charge next turn would provoke the fanatics to spin into action. The Ogres made a dash for the rocky outcropping to try and conceal themselves for a surprise flank attack. Ssshhh! Don't tell the Elves there are three half naked Ogre Mercenaries with brightly coloured hair hiding in the rocks!

Meanwhile on the far flank the Orc Arrer Boys moved forward to better protect the artillery on the hill and then took pot shots at the White Lions, who were at long range so they needed 6s to hit. In a stunning display of Orc archery prowess 5 out 11 manage to stick their shafts into an elf, even better 4 of the 5 wound! However, the craftsmanship of the Elven armour, the ability of the lion pelts to snag arrows, plus the magic of the Banner of Shielding meant that all four passed their formidable 2+ save. Damn them!

There was a genuine moment of glee from all around the table when it was time to fire the Goblin Doom Diver. This is one of the iconic units of the O&G army for me and I absolutely love them so it was great to see such an enthusiastic response from Ben and Adam, although I think they were keen to see the hilarious misfire chance more than anything else.

I weighed up hitting the White Lions as it seemed like my artillery was going to be the only thing that could take them out, but in the end I stuck with my gut instinct of trying to take out the enemy artillery, especially as its potential to decimate my centre and disrupt my main plan for victory was too great. After the disappointments of the first game my joy was unbounded when I made a perfect guess of 40 inches to land my goblin nut job right on top of the closest Bolt Thrower, and then rolled a Hit on the artillery dice to confirm. SPLATT! The war machine and one of its crew were flattened by an incoming goblin at terminal velocity.

The Orc and Goblin artillery crews must have been to spec savers!

Right! Rubbing my hands with glee I lined up the Rock Lobber for a shot at the remaining Bolt Thrower and knowing the distance of the first shot made a few small adjustments and made another guess that was bang on target! BANG! Wait...  SPROINGGG! What was that? CRASH! ARRRRGGGHHHH! I rolled a Hit and a Misfire on the Artillery/Scatter Dice and the bloody thing tore itself to pieces and killed it's own crew on its first firing after I rolled a one on the damage table. Bums.

The Orc Casualty I recently painted for Orctober gets to fulfil his destiny

The winds of magic picked up a bit but with no caster on my side the turn ended without any casting.

High Elf Turn Two: As the White Lions continue to manoeuvre through the gap between the swampy pool and the rocky outcropping, the Banner of Might dips twice and the Dragon Princes declare their charge across the field into the Orc and Goblin centre.... only to be stopped by the release of two mushroom crazed fanatics from the Night Goblin Archers they were about to trample into the ground. Unfortunately the fanatics only scored a single glancing hit which failed to wound, but they did position themselves nicely for future carnage!

Bowling for Dragon Princes

As all eyes were on the potential for carnage in the centre the sneaky High Elf archers found they could just make the top of the high ground and readied themselves to shoot at the second unit of Night Goblins in front of the hill. Before they did so the remaining bolt thrower again targeted the central unit of Night Goblins and the volley of fire manages to skewer three. Just one short of triggering a LD test. Just as the Orc Warlord (me) was congratulating himself on the apparent resilience of his Goblin Hordes, the Elven archers popped up and scored 11 hits and 7 wounds against the previously uninjured second unit of Night Goblins who promptly failed their break test, even with the benefit of using the General's LD and fled back a whopping 10" - and thus balance was restored to the Universe.

The winds of magic gave us three cards each, enough for the Master Mage to unleash Destruction against the Big 'Uns only to have it nullified by the banner of Arcane Protection (the Warlord might not believe in magic, but his Boys certainly believe in protecting themselves from it!)

Orc and Goblin Turn Two: Ignoring the shouted threats and curses of the Warlord the much depleted Night Goblins failed to rally and fled the battle field taking their War Banner and deadly cargo of frothing fanatics with them.

Penned in at close quarters by two fanatics! Surely there is going to be some carnage soon!?!

My disappointment turned to delight however when the one of the crazed loons spins back through the Dragon Princes with his chainsaw - yes, chainsaw, he's a Bloodbowl Champ re-purposed as a proxy-fanatic and I reckon a whirling goblin with chainsaw would be just as devastating as one with a ball and chain! - and kills four out of the six! The two remaining representatives of the pride of the Elven cavalry promptly fails their LD test and flees 13" back towards the Elven back towards the trees to check whether they and their mounts still have all their limbs attached.

Although my units again pass all their animosity rolls, the Ogres sadly fail their charge through the rocks into the side of the White Lions but the Warlord on his Wyvern successfully swooped in to charge the Archers who fled 11" towards the nearest table edge in Terror at the Wyvern, and off the field of battle!

The Big 'Uns and their flanking screen of Snotlings begin to turn in place and slowly move towards the flank where the White Lions were soon to make their charge as the Arrer Boys continued to pile shots into the Elven bodyguards whose pelts continue to keep them from harm.

With the wreck of the Rock Lobber spontaneously bursting into flames next to it, the Goblin Doom Diver takes aim at the remaining Bolt Thrower and once again lands bang on target and wipes out all remaining crew for the battery, removing it from the game. Man I love Doom Divers! Ben and Adam? I think their initial enthusiasm was waining at this point.

The winds of magic are barely a breeze and the turn ends with no casting once again.

High Elf Turn Three: The last two Dragon Princes ascertain that all limbs are present and correct and elect to return to the fight, or at least point their horses in that general direction. Far more impressively the White Lions complete their charge against the Orc Arrer Boys who show their guts by holding and firing finally managing to kill one! So, it was only 20 Elven elite plus their general and Master Mage who charged the 11 Orcs then! Unsurprisingly the Elven heavy infantry manage to slay four of the Orcs winning the combat by 7, thanks to rank and banner bonuses, and causing the remaining Arrer Boys to automatically fail their break test and flee 7" backwards.

The Orc and Goblin line, just before it legs it...

This of course caused all units within 12" to take panic tests thanks to watching a friendly unit break and run. this domino effect had been a central part of the High Elf plan and something that was always a risk with my army selection. The Big 'Uns passed testing against the LD of their Big Boss, but the Ogre Mercenaries showed their true colours and fled away from the enemy troops - towards the Elven back line! The Snotlings unsurprisingly failed with their LD of 4, but more properly should have pretended to flee without testing as per their special rules, as they were actually closer to the archers than the Big 'Uns when they broke. Thankfully the Goblin Doom Diver passed rolling under a 5. Phew!

The Master Mage summons his arcane abilities once more and the Winds of Magic responded with enough power for him to cast Destruction against the Doom Diver which I failed to dispel, meaning the Doom Diver took a wound from the magical assault.

Orc and Goblin Turn Three: The Arrer Boys and Snotlings  (who shouldn't be testing but mimicking, so luckily it doesn't matter) rally, WAAAAGGHHHHH! but the Ogre Mercenaries continue to flee though they do slow down a bit, wheezing in the jungle heat no doubt. 

In a somewhat predictable development I have to admit even I was hoping for, the two fanatics wind their way back towards the Orc and Goblin lines. I think I was hoping they would obliterate some Snotlings while Adam and Ben were probably hoping they ploughed into the back of the Big 'Uns!

Pleased that his boys had once again refrained from messing up his plans by fighting with each other, the Warlord goaded his Wyvern into the air to charge the remaining two Dragon Princes who pass their Terror test and prepare to finally test their mettle

Sadly it wasn't going to be possible for the Big 'Uns to charge the White Lions, so rather than make it easy for the White Lions to charge them they reluctantly held back and just jostled for position a bit hoping that the Doom Diver would be able to do its thing and land one directly on the pointy eared ponces!

The scene at the end of Orc and Goblin movement on Turn 3

The Doom Diver duly delivers, using it's special ability to great effect when the inital roll meant it deviated 6" away from the main mass of the unit, but rolling a 6 on a D6 allowed me to correct course back to a direct hit - KERSPLATT! - remarkably the Elf directly under the impact was spared by my rolling a one to wound, but he must have held up his shield at the last minute causing lethal Goblin-shrapnel to fly out into the surrounding ranks as a far better round of rolling forced 11 saves of 4+ killing 6. The White Lions were immune to psychology thanks to them acting as bodyguard to the HE General, proving yet again the resilience of the unit in tournament play.

Having already passed their Terror test the Dragon Princes continue to frustrate the Wyvern by effortlessly evading its poison sting, which is probably what made it snap and just bite one in half. The Warlord batters the other one and wounds with his axe, but the master crafted Ithilmar armour comes to the rescue and the Elf survives to strike back at the huge Orc towering looming above him. The single strike wounds and for a moment it looks like the Warlord is hurt only for the Armour of Fortune to work its magic and save him.

The combat is won by a single point but it is enough to for the last Dragon Prince to fail his LD test and flee from the field of battle. The magic phase passes without incident once again due to the lack of caster on the Orc and Goblin side.

High Elf Turn Four: The White Lions are now the only unit on the board for the High Elves (although still containing their General and Master Mage) and they declare a charge on the archers who didn't like it the first time round so decide to flee, luckily not causing a domino effect this time. The White Lions redirect their charge into the flank of the Snotlings but score just a single hit in the ensuing combat with dice rolls the like of which hadn't been seen since the High Elves in the first battle. It did at least wound, and Adam (retrospectively under the guidance of Ben who had been discussing possible tournament house rules re: White Lion stances with Jon since their test games) elected to use the Lion Claw stance meaning they did D3 wounds, rolled a 3 and killed a base out right. The General then stepped forward and dealt out another 2 wounds, but the Snotlings didn't need to take a break test as they were within 12" of their adopted unit the Big 'Uns who were holding fast behind them.

Then it was time for the Master Mage to shine as he benefited from the strongest showing from the Winds of Magic yet (rolling an 11) successfully casting Shield on the White Lions (defeating both attempted Dispels) before unleashing another blast of Destruction against the Snotlings, wiping them out.

Orc and Goblin Turn Four: Seeing that all the actual fighting and any real danger has passed the Orge Mercenaries finally rally, and would later argue they were usefully holding position for control of that section of the battle field, but the Orc Warlord was having none of it.

The Fanatics move dangerously close to their old chums, but neither make contact. The Warlord also holds position with tournament play in mind to keep control of that section of the table. The Big 'Uns continue to hold back for a different reason, not wanting to get in the way of the expected Doom Diver attack on the White Lions, which incredibly scores another direct hit and kills three more of the now magically Shielded Elven bodyguard.

The winds of magic die back once again only rolling a 6 this turn, tough it was enough to land me a useful card but sadly my attempt to dispel the Shield on the White Lions fails, although it is largely academic at that point as the game officially ended at this point as the tournament model is 4 turns or 2 hours which ever is up first. Once again (sorry!) we didn't count up victory points properly as the outcome was a clear victory for the Orcs and Goblins, we preferred to use the time to play another round just for fun.

High Elf Turn Five: The White Lions finally get to charge the Big 'Uns and the Big 'Uns finally get to receive their charge - everyone is happy! Again, the White Lions don't have to test against their LD for charging a fear causing enemy (due to the Shrieking Blade wielded by the Orc Big Boss leading the unit), using the Lion Leaping stance meaning their opponents lose an attack. The rank and file manage to fell just a single Big 'Un, but the General kills four on his own and even the Mage forces another armour save as the High Elves bring their superior weapon skill to bear. Only the Big Boss has enough attacks to strike back, twice, but he fails to wound. The Orcs lose the combat but pass their LD test to stay in the fight.

The winds of magic flare one last time empowering the Mage to cast Destruction against the Snotlings scoring a stunning 12 hits and obliterating the entire swarm in one go! Just imagine the mess.

The scene at the end of High Elf Turn 5

Orc and Goblin Turn Five: Finally, in that moment we had all been waiting for, one of the goblin fanatics steered his way back through his own unit, scattering them wildly. However, the wily Night Goblins must be well practised at this drill as only two died in the ensuing chaos.

Ben: "Yes! This is what we paid the ticket money for!" My favourite quote of the day :D

The Wyvern took to the air to charge the Warlord into the flank of the White Lions (immune to the panic test) at which point the High Elf general issued a challenge which the Orc Warlord gleefully accepts.  The Big 'Uns weigh in against the Elves, but only manage to kill one, taking four casualties in return, but that was not the end of the combat, nor the story. The High Elf Lord faced the attacks of the Wyvern evading or saving against them all, but the Orc General manages to sneak a single wound with his sword through the plates of shining Ithilmar armour and the Bone Blade (D3 wounds) turns that one wound into 3, slaying the noble lord outright. The High Elves lose the combat and fail their LD test fleeing 7". The Wyvern, spurred on by the Warlord who has the taste of victory, pursues 8" and eats the lot of them.

Warlord Scrumpy Rotgut was very pleased with his boys and their days work. His belly was full of elf meat and their had been plenty of useful loot. He had a mind to keep back the share for them bloody Ogres though, if he didn't need them to keep discipline with his squabbling rabble that is.

He threw another haunch of horse meat to Cripple Cock the Wyvern as he mused on how it was a shame that Legless-but-Smiling, the old Goblin shaman, hadn't been able to come with them. He had been right about the elves in the valley not expecting a rampaging mob of Orcs and Goblins, it would have been interesting to see what else he would have been right about. Still, his legs had tasted very good and Scrumpy had been very hungry that day.

"Right! Come on you lot. Get your loot together and lets get movin' before something even more 'orrible than us turns up. We need to be well hidden so we can jump out and smash whatever dat turns out to be in da gob too!""

Not a good day to be an Elf...

So there were definitely a few things that I needed to have brushed up on a bit more as an Orc and Goblin player - such as the rule that Goblins fear Elves unless they outnumber them at least 2-1. Mine didn't and although I don't think it actually effected the outcome of any actions in the game at any point, I really should have been more aware of that. Also the Snotlings mimicking orders rather than moving on their own. That said I think we did a good job of accommodating all the Orc and Goblin foibles like animosity, compulsory/random movement, the need to move lots of units - although this may well have been balanced out by the lack of casting as the Magic Phase passed so much quicker as a result.

On reflection I probably should have spread my line out further with one unit of Night Goblins and Fanatics in front of the artillery, and the archers out even further, probably with a spacing unit of Snotlings. I should also have moved my unit of Big 'Uns slightly over into the gap this would have created so that they would have been better able to respond to which either threat proved the biggest, the Dragon Princes or the White Lions. Stupidly, the thing that messed me up and caused a bit of a log jam was actually the chunky movement tray I had made for the archers, although it was only a single rank it took up loads of space. On the other hand, if I had spaced out my line that much it would have left me open to those Dragon Princes circling behind and rolling up my flank just as I had planned to do to the Lizardmen in the first game.

All in all it was just not a good day to be an Elf as both Adam and I suffered some really appalling luck with dice rolls, and my Orcs and Goblins were comparatively lucky with theirs in particular. Ben's High Elf list is a solid little force and very good value for its 1500 points in my opinion. It is no coincidence that I recently purchased another 16 White Lions to give me a similar size unit to the one Ben can field, although I won't be fielding it in my tournament army.

As we all agreed at the time, the most important thing was that we had great fun, which we most certainly did! Herohammer lived up to its reputation for being fast, furious, and funny and I can't wait for the tournament next year!

Thanks once again to Ben and Adam for being such good opponents, to Jim and co. at BIG for being such welcoming hosts, and to you dear reader for sticking with this rather lengthy post. Don't forget to check the Middlehammer Facebook page for updates about the tournament!

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