Monday, 16 May 2011

Dark Elves vs Empire 1600. A study of MSU in 8th.

So, continuing the list development for the tournament, my opponent decided to see if his Dark elves would have something more to offer at 1600 points. After much deliberation, list adjustments, and a test game vs my very proxied High Elf list (models mostly ordered) that does not need mentioning in full (I won, but only because lvl1 exploded and he failed every single leadership test) he settled on this:

lvl2: fire, ruby ring of ruin (quickly becoming a favourite item of the two of us) (general)
BSB: halberd, cheesy grin, regen, HA, sea dragon cloak, and I believe the dragonhelm.
2x10 xbows
23 Spears: FC
2x5 harpies
5 Darkriders
2x5 shades
14 Blackguard: FC-flame

Facing off against this I used the same list I used vs the warriors:

lvl2: shadow
BSB: FPA, charmed shield, Opal amulet
W.Priest: HA, sh (general)
10 xbows
30 flagellants
30 Halberds: FC
29 Halberds: FC
28 Great Swords: FC
5 Pistoliers: m

The mission was Dawn attack. The Dark Elves deployed first. However, I managed to steal the iniative.
Our deployment looked like this (my cannon is behind the trees):

So looking at the lots and lots of small units, I decided to give my units "goals". The cannon was to try and kill the hydra, the Great Swords were to take on the Black guard and the spears-relying on stubborn to (hopefully) win a grind. The halberds are to not die/be bait and hopefully reach the xbows. The pistoliers are to do the heroic thing and hold the right/pic left flank.

Turn One
So, the pistoliers move up to unleash the lead on the darkriders. I position the charge overrun towards the halberds to hopefully draw his flanking force into my line, not around it. However, as this next picture shows, I made a fundamental mistake...
I did not account for the harpies being flyers-in my flank. Seems obvious right? Well it did not at the time-I can only blame a lack of experience vs flying units/lapse of judgement. But anyway as the picture shows the xbows did a few wounds to the right DE xbows, the mortar to the other unit, and the cannon, as usual, failed to do anything to the hydra (seriously considering swapping it out for something else...if it did not occasionally do amazing things). My Magic is also easily dispelled.

So the Dark Elves start their turn on a good note by declaring a charge with the harpies on the flank of the pistoliers. I opt to hold in the hope of POTENTIALLY holding/winning. The rest of his army moves up-the shades and darkriders on the left move to take out the artillery. The Hydra, as predicted, moves to the right away from the cannon and towards the Great Swords. The central shades, feeling a little trapped, hop into the building to get a shot on something. In the magic phase, a fireball kills 3 flagellants. In the much dreaded shooting phase, the shades over perform and wipe out the mortar with three 6's to wound. one unit of xbows fails to touch the halberds, while the rest of the shooting kills 6 flagellants. In the combat the harpies kill 2, Pistloiers kill 1, break, run 9 and are run down by the harpies.

Turn 2

So, not a good start. The flagellants charge the tower, being within 4 inches = no stand and shoot. In the combat, 3 flagellants die before the shades a squished by flails. The Great Swords continue their march towards the Delf line. the halberds stay still, as had no real idea what to do with them. In the magic phase, the lvl2 gets wither off on the hydra, dropping it's toughness to 3. The W.Priest makes the Great Swords unbreakable. In the shooting phase, the cannon opens fire, hits the hydra and rolls a 1 to wound....I made my opponent roll his regen anyway-and he rolled a 3...oh well. The xbows however do 2 wounds to it anyway, dropping the ever-so-important breath weapon in strength.

So the Dark Elf battleline unleashes itself with the hydra and Black Guard. Fortunately the Black guard fail the charge. The harpies on the right moved to right behind my xbows, and his xbows move to block my flagellants in the watchtower .The super flanking force moved to take out the cannon. In the magic phase, I dispelled Power of Darkness, and flame cage failed to cast.In the shooting phase, the shades once again over perform and roll another three 6's to wound. The rest of the shooting results in 2 dead halberds...thank you negative modifiers to hit. In the Hydra on Great Swords combat, all attacks (and I mean ALL) were directed at the W.Priest. He survived the handlers, struck back heroically to no effect before being eaten by the hydra. nom nom nom. The Hydra then burped from indigestion felling 3 Great Swords, who then cut it down in revenge.

Turn 3

So the Great Swords then charge the Black Guard. I'm still not certain this was the right choice as it gave the Spears my flank + meant another round of Combat, when it was obvious that Black Guard would want to charge me. My Halberds then decide to move up to get some combat on the xbows-really should have moved the turn before. To add to my woes, the lvl2 IF's miasma on the Black Guard, gets sucked into the warp, along with 15 halberds. The unit passes its panic test. In the Combat, the Black Guard kill 6, the Great Swords kill 8 in return. The black guard hold, but fail to reform.

In the Dark Elf turn the Hapies charge and run down the xbows after combat who only lost 1 in combat, but then rolled a fist full of 1's to hit in return, then to add to the fail they "run" 3 inches haha. The Spears flank charge the Great Swords. The other unit of harpies moves to stop the larger halberd unit moving, while the rest of the flank force moves to surround my halberds.

In a small magic phase, flame sword is failed to cast, and I dispel the ruby ring. Shooting continues to whittle down the halberds. In combat, the Great swords wipe out the Black guard (goal 2 achieved), but the BSB is left alive. Now, I make tactical error # 3 (or 4) and reform to face the spears. I was hoping to be able to win a war of attrition with them. 10 s5 and 3 s4 attacks vs 16 s3 attacks and the 3 s5 attacks from the BSB + a flank and more ranks. OR if I stayed in horde it would have been 2 s5 vs the spears and more attacks vs the BSB, while the volume of attacks from the spears is greatly reduced.

Turn 4

Well not much left for me to do other than try and preserve my points. The halberds charge the harpies and wipe them out. The harpies did not flee as I had a sweet redirect into the xbows. The flagellants FINALLY see a way out of the building into the Darkelf line , so hop out in a block facing the xbows closest the Great sword combat. In the combat phase, my gamble did not pay off; the Spears killed 6 Great swords, the BSB killed 2. The Great swords kill 1 in return, and test the BSB's regen (works). The Great Swords seem to have forgotten how to hit...

In the Dark elf turn, the xbows in the line of sight of the flagellants hop into the tower. The shades enter the forest, the other unit of harpies moves to block the halberds from charging the xbows out of the building. The Dark riders move to kill Valten (in pic he is hiding behind the tower like the hero he is haha).

In the 6 dice magic phase the flagellants are flamed caged. flame sword is dispelled. Shooting: Valten dies :( the xbows in the tower and the darkriders result in 1 hit, that mortally wounds. The rest of the shooting kills 5 halberds from the other unit. In the Combat, the Elves kill 2, and the greatswords kill 2-better than last phase, but the math suggests I should be killing more...take THAT theory hammer! *queue massive counter argument by "pros" and "serious ETC gamers" about how theoryhammer is the one and only consideration in warhammer haha* Once again, the regen on the BSB is confirmed as working.

Turn 5

The Halberds charge the harpies, who hold again to stop the redirect. The Halberds win the combat, run down the harpies and reform to face the xbows. The Grinding combat: 2 Great Swords die and 1 Spear elf is killed. I believe in this combat phase I finally get a wound past the regen on the BSB.

The Dark Elf turn results in a very sneaky move; the xbows in the building hop out, and the ones about to be charged by the halberds swap in, preserving their points. The flagellants are flame caged again (2 dead) and flame sword is dispelled. A fireball at the flagellants kills 1. In the shooting phase, 9 halberds are killed, along with 4 flagellants. In the combat, the Great swords are cut down by the spears and BSB before they get a chance to strike. The BSB holds.

Turn 6

So, throwing caution to the wind, and needing to take some points/find some protection from the shooting, The surviving halberds charge the building hoping for a miracle. In the combat, the halberds kill 3 xbows who kill 5 halberds in return, so the halberds hop back. The BSB then challenges the Darkelf BSB and strikes him down! To add to the glory, the BSB holds the combat (queue victory lap around the table-objective 3 achieved).

The darkelves decide that standing still is the best option as all the shooting in in close range of the halberd unit. the winds of magic are not so kind and snake eyes is rolled, effectively saving the flagellants from a rather crispy death. The shooting only JUST wipes out the halberds. One less wound and I would have held the points. In the Combat, the BSB defiantly kills 1 spear elf and holds.
So at the end the board looked like this:

Adding up the points, the Empire lost by 261 points.

Post battle

The award for overachiever/unit of the match went to the flanking shades. killing 2 warmachines in 2 rounds of shooting was fantastic. I was hoping that he would have to charge the warmachines, slowing the momentum of the flank, but no, the shades showed how real elves shoot.

The award for best item of the match goes to the BSB's regen. Passed goodness knows how many regen saves. A very good item indeed. Much celebrating on my behalf when the BSB finally died.

Most defiant model goes to my BSB. I was hoping Valten would get an honourable mention, but alas, One bolt too many went his way.

Looking at what happened, My Great Swords Almost achieved their goal, failing to beat the spears. Though, it was a big ask for the unit-unsupported. The flagellants were poorly placed, however, if I had held the Great swords back a bit, I could have drawn the Delves forward and got a flank on them. Moral of the story-stick to defensive positions with empire-or at least dont go powering forward unsupported. Charging the Great Swords was a mistake. Having killed the hydra I should have moved backwards 2 inches and try force the long range charges from the spears and black guard. Hopefully it would have resulted in only 1 unit reaching me at a time-also given my casualties after the hydra encounter, reforming to a brick instead of a horde as well as moving back (yay for swift reform!) would have been a sensible choice as well....DON'T BE A SLAVE TO THE MOVEMENT TRAY.

Also I should have deployed the mortar in the corner. It was toast, my pistoliers could not stop EVERYTHING on the flank. Had it been in the corner it would have still hit the xbows, but would have taken a lot more effort to get to (well maybe not given how the shades were shooting). That alone could have slowed the flanks momentum enough for me to get the halberds to combat-had I moved them every turn as per the plan-then again I wasn't expecting 1st turn, which upset my balance.

The MSU Delf approach is nasty-especially at the smaller points levels. Drawing me forward by deploying back was a perfect trap, and I walked right into it...piecemeal The tower in the mid field didnt help. If I had pushed the halberds forward faster by marching in the first 2 turns, the dark elf line and flanking force would have had less chance to react-especially as the xbows had no musicians for swift reform. I guess I was more obsessed with getting the cannon a shot at the hydra; the cannon was poorly placed given I deployed 2nd and rolled "centre" for it. Paralysing my flank and then road blocking me with chaff was perfectly executed, and shows what nasty things fast, shooty, underpointed (insert usual DElf grumble haha) MSU Darkelf flanking units can be-especially if all on one flank to give the defence a target saturation. As in this game, it will usually result in a break down in tactics and piecemeal assaults caused more by frustration than tactical consideration.

But still, all credit to my opponent, he played well, out smarted me where it mattered,  and didn't let a string poor magic phases stop his momentum. 

However, I shall plot my revenge...possibly with my woodies as they havn't had a spin around the block in a while-but Im sure my Empire can unleash the pain on the MSU darkelves-possibly might change lore to fire for more offensive power/flame attacks.

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