This was game 2 of Friday night and I was elected to run the big army since once again there where 3 of us. Typical Jersey Style™ set up with 4000 points per side. No terrain because it was getting late (notice how I’ve got a different excuse each time?) and the map widened to accommodate for a 12 unit wide deployment zone. As the player with 4000 points, I only took 7 command actions per turn instead of 8 as I feel that 8 is just too much against 2 2000 point armies.Set UpHigh Elves played by Chris, Monsters and Mercs played by Brook
From left to right:
Celestial Guard (gulp!)
HE Knights (gulp!)
Elder Blade Battle Squad backed by normal Battle Squad
Elder Blade Battle Squad
4 Ogres with 2 Wildmen Archers behind them
Hill Giant (gulp!)
This looked to me to be about as standard of a line deployment as there is. Nothing fancy, but effective.Dark Elves played by yours truly
From left to right:
Slave Warriors (facing left) backed by Slave Warriors
Lord of Dusk
Standard Bearers backed by Coven
2 Drake Riders with 2 Slave Warriors way to the rear
Standard Bearers backed by Coven
Lord of Dusk
Slave Warriors (facing right) backed by Slave Warriors
I on the other hand, tried to be fancy. I noticed that a lot of players like to deploy their units so that they form a defensive arc so I wondered how it would work out if I deployed in such a fashion that my units would engage in a reverse arc, or “U” shape. I also screwed around with a symmetrical deployment, not paying specific attention to what my opponents where putting down. The good news for me was that I placed the Slaves on the outside first and their placement confused my opponents. The bad news is that it didn’t matter much. The Drake Riders where set in the middle of my line so that I could get them to wherever I wanted them to be quickest.
NOTE: the placement of the Slaves in the second rank on the left was a gaffe and they where actually a tad bit outside of the deployment zone allowed. They where supposed to be lined up like they where on the far right of my line. Standing Orders
As I recall, my opponents mostly assigned standard close standing orders. Both of the Wildmen Archers where targeting the Drake Riders to the right and had the "M" ranged modifier.
My standing orders where a standard close for the 2 Slave Warriors in the second rank deployed on the flanks and both Pureblood Blades. The Levies where given a hold standing order with a terrain objective somewhere in the middle of the map. All ranged units where set on a generic Ranged standing order with the M modifier, so they where advancing at 2.5. I also had both Standard Bearers and the 2 Slave units in the middle advance at 2.5 on a close standing order. The 2 Slave units facing outward on the flanks where also set to a 2.5 movement cap. The Drake Riders where set to close on 2 objective markers behind the enemy line that you can see in the photo below represented by the 2 little beads at the very top of the photo.
Mistake #1 – I should have had each pair of Coven/Lords of Dusk focus fire on 1target instead of spreading the damage around.
Mistake #2 – I should have had the Drakes Fly to a spot a bit deeper into the map. You know, the lines actually advance and who would be around once they got there? Not a tragedy, but still annoying.Early Turns
Taken on the Elven/M&M turn
My line begins to crawl forward as my enemies come forth at a more enthusiastic pace. Spoils where placed on some of the Ogres. All of my ranged units do about a point of damage each and the Coven was using Midnight’s Chill, which explains why the enemy line has a couple of laggers. The Wildmen archers actually inflicted a point of damage each on the Drake Riders they where targeting despite needing 1s to hit and 3s to damage. I had direct controlled this one to keep it at long range for a turn. Where is this unit you say? It is beneath the Ogres closest to the center and you can see the stat bar in front of the Ogres. Mid Turns
Taken on the Dark Elf turn
Line closure continues as the spell casters continue to blast away. They do another point each (still using Midnite’s Chill) while I played one of the Dark Elven super-cards on the Lords of Dusk on my right which puts the Ogres they are targeting into the yellow. They succeeded their courage check. I didn’t want my Drake Riders to take any more punishment before they landed, so I changed the standing orders for the damaged one that started on the right to a point represented by the Green Bead right on top of where the High Elven Knights currently are. The undamaged Drake Riders had their close objective moved up so I could plop them down next to the Wildmen Archers. It sure is nice to have all of those command actions! Note that on his next move Chris could have pinched my Highblood Blades with his Celestial Guard if he sprinted them, but he chose not to. I don’t know if he didn’t see it or he just wanted to maul himself some slaves. Keep in mind that this was our second game of the night and it didn’t start until 11:30, so we where playing sloppy by this point. In the end it worked out well for him anyways.
Taken on the High Elf/M&M turn
Well well well, things have certainly happened here! We’ll start with the main line from left to right:
The Celestial Guard are having their way with Slaves. No surprise there. The Chariots are absolutely owning the Blades. What the Hell? The High Elven Knights have killed the Levy without taking a single point of damage. What the Hell? IIRC the Levy blew their courage check when put into yellow and ran. As Led Zeppelin says "When the Levy breaks..." Elder Blade Battle Squad tangles with Lords of dusk. The 2 other Battle Squads pinched my Standard Bearers. The Bearers made the pre-combat courage check, but blew the other one when put into the yellow. I thought these guys where supposed to be brave or something? It’s even more embarrassing because my Covens had switched from Midnite’s Chill to Evil Eye the previous turn, depriving one of the Squads of an attack die. Ogres in the middle obliterated Slaves. I remember this being a mistake of mine since a direct control of the Slaves the turn before engagement would have delayed this engagement, but I didn’t catch that until I had already used all of my command actions the previous turn. At least I was able to flank them with another Slave unit so I could hold them in place for a while. Standard Bearers face down some Ogres that had been absorbing Coven damage, but are not able to inflict much damage themselves with only 2 attack dice on the charge turn for being outreached. Ogres smash into my Lords of Dusk, doing solid damage while only taking a point in return. This made me very sad. The other Ogres smashed into the other Levy and this turned into a bit of a grinder. The best thing for me occurred when the Giant failed to do much damage to the Highblood Blades on the right, then got pinched the next turn by Slaves and blew it’s courage check when put into the yellow! The free attacks put him into the red and off he ran. However, the Giant decided to attack to it’s flank on this turn and this put my Slaves into the yellow. They failed their courage check, so off they ran. Most annoying. I’d like to point out that it was funny that most units involved on this side of the battle where fearsome.
Now about those Drakes… The Archers had been re-targeted and reformed to shoot at the fresh Drakes and they managed another 2 points of damage before the Drakes crashed into the center-most archer unit, which actually lasted 2 for turns. The second unit of Drakes landed behind the HE line and a Battle Squad was dispatched to deal with it. I really should have had it fly for 1 more turn and plop down behind either the Celestial Guard or the Chariots, but I really wanted to get them involved in the fighting since things where not looking to well for me over there. Endgame
Apologies for the blurriness of this image, but its pretty clear how things are going at this point. Again from left to right:
Celestial Guard have liberated the first Slaves through death and are now working on “liberating” the next group of chumps. The Chariots actually go into the yellow and rout! The return attack is lame and only does a single, sad point. Note that this is the only High Elven courage failure of any sort this game (including fear checks). The Battle Squad is holding up to the Drakes just fine. The HE Knights are able to pinch and obliterate my Lords of Dusk. A Battle Squad has now engaged a Coven and that rarely goes well for the ladies. My other Drake Rider unit was able to one-shot the remaining Wildmen Archer unit, but it is now in the yellow from an arrow volley it endured on the way in. Back to the line – Ogres flank-attacked my Slaves to death and are then able to pinch the Coven over there, which exploded. Standard Bearers and Lords of Dusk are still locked up with 2 more Ogres while the Ogre on the end has forced a rout check on the Levy which naturally fails. I honestly don’t know what happened to that other Slave unit that appears to be routing from somebody. The Giant re-formed and ran back into a situation where he got pinched by the Highblood Blades and remaining Slave unit. At this point it was still anybody’s game on the Monsters & Mercs front, but the High Elves where just murdilizing my troops on the other side so I called it a game. I don’t recall there being a single High Elven unit casualty during the entire battle.Final Thoughts
Well, there where certainly quite a few factors that caused the Dark Elves to fail. I feel that my ranged fire didn’t produce quite the expected damage. A lowlight was one turn when the Lords of Dusk where already engaged where both Covens did zero damage with ranged fire at short range. That’s kind of sad. My courage was not horrible, but certainly not up to snuff. Especially when you consider that I was able to play both Inspiration from High and Arrogant Spite cards. The High Elves being so brave certainly didn’t help. At least the Hill Giant was kind enough to blow a courage check and I think one of the Wildmen Archers blew one as well. I had a couple of instances where I should have delayed engagements and didn’t. I also should have landed those Drake Riders behind either the Chariots or Celestial Guard as it was stupid that they where neutralized by a freaking Battle Squad. And finally, I should have concentrated my ranged fire. I was hoping that the units targeted by the Lords of dusk would be really beat up by the time they engaged and that didn't work out. If I concentrate both LoD/Coven combos on a single target it would have worked out better for me.Heroes of the Game
High Elves – Most of them performed well, but I’ll give it to the Knights that one-shotted a holding Halfblood Levy without taking a single point of damage, then pinched a Lord of Dusk to death.
Monsters and Mercenaries – The Ogres that killed a Slave unit, then killed another one that flanked it, then flanked a Coven unit and killed it. All while staying in the green.
Dark Elves – The Highblood Blades that endured 2(!) Hill Giant charges and contributed most of the damage that brought the big guy down.
1 of the few satisfying moments of the game for me from a game play standpoint occurred close to the end of the game on my opponent’s turn right after the second Wildmen Archer unit was killed:
Me – “Any ranged attacks this turn?”
Brook – “Umm… no. Both of my archers are dead”
Me (smiling broadly) – “ Isn’t that niiiiiice?”
Brook – “Yeah, just keep drinking”