In turn 9 of the Border Princes campaign the Beastmen have two battles to fight and they are outnumbered in both. I opted to use both of my supporting banners in the repeat of the showdown with Aramoro‘s Bretonnians for the Old Silk Road, leaving a single banner of my smelly goats to have a go at Forkbanger‘s High Elves, who are not only supported by one of their own banners but fortified for good measure. My banner is actually the one that previously fought the High Elves in the battle for the Warrens, so I chose to take pretty much exactly the same set of characters. I decided that this was a good time to throw one of the big monsters from the Rare selections on to the table. My reasoning was that I might as well do something entertaining in the battle since I was starting it 320 points down, and High Elves have the least artillery available to splatter the poor brute across the landscape. It’s hard to argue with a gigantic enraged bipedal bull, so the Ghorgon duly took up an obscene number of my points. As a result, I had to carve the rest of my list down to a fairly minimal bunch of infantry.
Brannick the Forlorn – Great Bray Shaman, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Jagged Dagger, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Huron – Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield (BSB)
Ankar Hearteater – Bray Shaman, Dispel Scroll, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
23 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G)
30 Ungors, full command (U)
8 Ungor raiders, musician (UR)
23 Bestigors, full command (B)
5 Harpies, scout (H)
Forkbanger took this lot of pointy eared chaps:
Archmage, Level 4, Silver Wand, Talisman of Preservation, Ruby Ring of Ruin, Lore of Shadow (AM)
Mage, Level 2, Seerstaff of Saphery, Talisman of Protection, Lore of High Magic (M)
Noble, BSB, Banner of Sorcery, Dragon Armour, Shield, Great Weapon (BSB)
2 x 24 Lothern Seaguard, shields, full command (SG1 and SG2)
18 White Lions of Chrace, full command, Terrifying Mask of Eeee! (on champion) (WL)
5 Dragon Princes of Caledor, full command, War Banner
Forkbanger and Justinmatters generated the terrain while I was sorting out my army list, and we got only 5 pieces to place. There is a (normal) fence in the centre of the field with an Anvil of Vaul in the North. To the East of the fence is a Haunted Mansion (which we forgot about pretty much instantly) and a normal building in the South. Finally, a mysterious wood is in the West, but since I deployed the Raiders in it, we knew at the start of the game that it was an Abyssal Wood. The scenario yet again is Blood and Glory, which, along with Dawn Attack, feels like it has made up the vast majority of my games.
The Archmage selects Occam’s Mindrazor, Enfeebling Foe, Withering, Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Pit of Shades (mmm, my favourites too) and the Mage has Curse of Arrow Attraction, Shield of Saphery along with Drain Magic which appears to come as a freebie for High Magic users. I briefly consider taking a more lively spell for the Bray Shaman, but just go with Wyssan’s Wildform as usual. The Great Bray Shaman has Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Withering and Pit of Shades. Sadly, I had rolled up both Penumbral Pendulum and Pit of Shades (both pretty useless against such high initiative foes) and I could only get rid of one of them. The High Elves finish deploying first, win the roll-off and take the first turn. This was how we both deployed:
The Dragon Princes move forward, wishing they were riding actual Dragons instead of horses with fancy armour; the rest of the High Elves are quite happy on their hill. The winds of magic only give a pitiful 1,1 but with the Banner of Sorcery this is actually a pretty decent result for the High Elves since I won’t be able to dispel anything. The two Elven wizards combine to put Curse of Arrow Attraction and Withering (-3 toughness) on the Harpies. I mentally write them off, and a volley of arrows from both Seaguard units proves me right. So not only am I starting 320 short, but I’ve lost one of my units straight out of the gate. Oh dear.
There’s not much finesse to my army at this stage of the game: I have to get my units forward as quickly as possible or they’ll eventually be shot to death by archers. Everyone barrels forward at top speed, except the Raiders who stay in the forest (since they’re stubborn in there, and might get to lay a Dragon Prince low with a dangerous terrain check) and the Bestigors, who wheel slightly to keep an option on charging the Dragon Princes. Magic gives us 5,1 dice to play with. A casting of the upgraded Miasma on the Seaguard is dispelled, but the Bray Shaman puts Wildform on the Bestigors to further worry the Dragon Princes.
It’s decision time for the Dragon Princes. They briefly consider charging the Bestigors but realise that at strength 7, toughness 5 they are far too much to handle. Instead, the noble Elves charge the Raiders, willing to risk the dangerous terrain checks. The Raiders are having none of that, fleeing the charge and dooming the Dragon Princes to stumble forward into the middle of the charge arc of the Bestigors. They start to look a little nervous. To make up for turn 1, we get 6,5 dice for the winds of magic this turn, which combines with the Banner of Sorcery to max out the power dice at 12. This is going to be bad. However the Archmage, who isn’t quite the master of magic he hopes, fails a 2 dice casting of the upgraded Miasma on the Gors, thereby ending his contribution to this phase. Forkbanger sighs. Still, with so many dice, he might as well use them, so the Ruby Ring of Ruin is used to fire a fireball at the Ghorgon (let through, but fails to wound). Both Shield of Saphery (on Seaguard 1) and Curse of Arrow Attraction (of the Bestigors) are dispelled. So much for 12 power dice. The ranged combat doesn’t go much better, dropping a single Bestigor and failing to wound the Ghorgon.
The Bestigors charge the Dragon Princes, and after some consideration Forkbanger opts to flee with them (which I think I would have done too). Unfortunately, they roll very low and the Bestigors roll very high and the High Elves are run down. Perhaps the only consolation for the High Elves is that the Bestigors are now well out of position. The Raiders fail to rally and are about half an inch too far from the BSB to re-roll it, so they run off the table taking the Bray Shaman with them. It’s probably quite marginal whether trading them for the Dragon Princes is worth it (points-wise), but that’s how it goes. The Ghorgon moves up to the East of the Seaguard so that they at least have to move before shooting him; I forgot to roll to restrain frenzy but he probably would have passed anyway on leadership 10 and in range of the BSB. The Gors swift reform to 5 wide since I think they’ll need plenty of ranks against the White Lions directly ahead of them. In the magic phase, another casting of Miasma on the Seaguard is dispelled, but Withering reduces the White Lions’ toughness by 2.
The Seaguard in the East wheel to bring the Ghorgon into view, and then it’s straight to magic. The Archmage continues his poor run by failing a 3 dice casting of Withering on the Ghorgon (lucky for me – that would have really hurt) and Curse of Arrow attraction on the Bestigors is dispelled. With a single remaining die available, the Mage casts Drain Magic which we instantly forget about. Volleys of arrows fell another Bestigor and put two wounds on the Ghorgon, but it’s looking like too little.
The Ghorgon charges the Seaguard, and the Gors and Ungors both charge the White Lions, everyone making contact. The Bestigors swift reform to head back to the action as quickly as possible. The magic dice are 4,3, and I do something silly. Miasma is put on the White Lions, but I only reduce their stats by one so they’ll still re-roll to hit (curses!) and since I have no spells left (remember, Withering is still on the White Lions) I try my luck with Pit of Shades on the unengaged Seaguard. Of course it has no effect. The High Elves then simply dispel Withering using the dice they saved by letting the other two spells through. I hadn’t realised that you could dispel remain in play spells with dispel dice, I thought it had to be done with power dice. So of course the low casting value is easily overcome. I should have voluntarily ended the spell and recast it (using the dice I effectively wasted on Pit of Shades) thus making sure that at least a higher dispel roll could have been needed. Anyway, you live and learn. The Gors and Ungors mow down half the White Lions, though the Gors suffer plenty of casualties in return. They’re stubborn, so they hold easily. Meanwhile, the Seaguard fail to wound the Ghorgon and are thoroughly trampled for their failure, although they do at least hold since they’re steadfast.
There is no movement so it’s straight to the magic phase where the High Elves really need a good run to turn things around. They get 4,3 dice plus a couple from the Banner of Sorcery, and the Archmage casts Withering on the Ghorgon. Sadly, he might as well have cast ‘nuclear strike on my location’, thanks to a hilarious miscast. The Irresistable spell itself only reduces the Ghorgon’s toughness by one (so no difference to the strength 3 Seaguard), but the resulting Dimensional Cascade vapourises 9 Seaguard, 6 Ungors and wounds the Ghorgon. The Archmage himself not only ward saves the strength 10 hit but also avoids being dragged into the warp. Sensing the Seaguard’s impending doom (since he blew up so many of them that it is close to inconceivable that they could bring down the Ghorgon now) he uses Smoke and Mirrors to swap places with the hapless Mage. It sucks to be the Mage – his last attempt to survive, putting Shield of Saphery on his newly-joined Seaguard, is dispelled by the Great Bray Shaman. The unengaged Seaguard kill a few more Bestigors, but there are still plenty of them left. The enraged Ghorgon tramples or eats almost all of the remaining Seaguard in the East and pursues a couple of survivors off the table to snack on them at his leisure. In the centre, the White Lions wake up to the gravity of their situation and severely dent the Gors for only a couple of losses. Both Beastmen units hold thanks to the BSB re-roll.
The Bestigors, needing a 7 to charge the Seaguard, roll a 12 and hit the High Elves like an avalanche. Standing and shooting fells a couple of the elite Beastmen but it’s surely too little, too late for the Seaguard. The Ghorgon comes back on the table and wheels to face the flank of the Seaguard, or, more specifically, the tasty looking Archmage on the flank. The Great Bray Shaman tries to put Miasma on the Seaguard but the Archmage wisely dispels it. This allows him to put Withering on the White Lions, reducing their toughness to 1. The Bestigors chop through the Seaguard like the wild lumberjacks they are, and the High Elves have clearly had enough of this, fleeing off the table with the Archmage in tow. The Beastmen reform to threaten the flank of the White Lions. Despite only having toughness 1, the White Lions actually win combat again, mainly thanks to an astonishing number of 1s to wound from the Ungors and saving throws being made. The Gors, who are down to only two plus the BSB manage to hold on the BSB reroll, as do the Ungors (though they are steadfast anyway).
Forkbanger calls it a day there, since he has about 6 White Lions and the BSB left, and they aren’t likely to do enough damage to rescue the situation on their own. Victory for the Beastmen!
I’m amazed that I managed to pull off such a massacre there considering the points disadvantage. Forkbanger had three terrible magic phases in a row – fail to cast, fail to cast, miscast, and that pretty much sealed his doom. Even the best general can’t do much with dice like that.
I wasn’t too impressed with the Ghorgon. Admittedly, he did all I asked of him (i.e. eating some Seaguard), but I just felt that those 275 points could have been much more effective somewhere else. Perhaps I just need to make more of those outrageous number of attacks.
As for the High Elves, we spoke a bit after the game, and wondered if Beastmen against High Elves is just a match-up that hugely favours the Beastmen. It was also suggested that 1600 points is an army size which is much better for Beastmen than High Elves, although I’m not sure whether that could have been the case. Forkbanger had a look on the interwebs to see if any useful information could be found, and got the following contradictory advice:
- spend no more than 400 points on core.
- spend 800 points on special.
- not buy command groups for units.
- not play elves at less than 2000 points.
- not play at all at less than 2000 points.
- remove about 50-100 points of magic items and spend it on [something wonderous that wins games].
- keep the magic item spend the same but change them all.
- drop the casters and use combat lords/heroes.
- keep the casters and use them better, duh.
- change the core units.
- use a different formation for the core units.
- use numerically more core units.
- use less costly core units.
- use more cavalry.
- use fast cavalry.
- use no cavalry.
- use heroes on eagles as cavalry.
So if anyone has any clever ideas then I’m sure he’d be delighted to hear about them.