Beastmen vs Vampire Counts (2000 points); 04Oct11

This week Aramoro and I managed to fit in our oft-rescheduled Warhammer game of Beastmen against Vampire Counts.  Following a comment from my fellow Beastmen blogger Zebrazach, I decided to try out a Bestigor horde.  After all, if Bestigors are good (and they certainly are) then lots of Bestigors are surely better.  Otherwise, I tried to stick to models I actually have, so no Harpies, though I did proxy in a few Raiders since it’s unwise to ever leave the forest without the little guys.

Great Bray Shaman, level 4, Steel Claws, Jagged Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Beasts (GBS)

Wargor, BSB, Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, heavy armour, shield, (BSB)

Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Shadow (BS)

39 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G)

31 Ungors, full command (U)

6 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR)

5 Minotaurs (M)

39 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)

Naturally, Aramoro was keen to try out some of the new Vampire Counts toys in his army of shambling undead, so the Terrorgheist was duly listed along with a hero Tomb Banshee.

Vampire Lord, level 4, Crown of the Damned, Dispel Scroll, Helm of Commandment, Master of the Black Arts, Summon Ghouls, Forbidden Lore (Light) (V)

Mannfred the Acolyte, Black Periapt, Sword of Unholy Power, Walking Death (M)

Tomb Banshee (B)

30 Crypt Ghouls (CG1)

23 Crypt Ghouls (CG2)

14 Skeleton Warriors, full command (SW)

30 Grave Guard, full command, great weapons, Banner of the Barrows (GG)

Terrorgheist, infested (T)

Wow that Vampire Lord comes loaded with a lot of toys.  I don’t really know the Vampire Counts army very well, so I spent a lot of the game asking ‘what does that do?’ followed by ‘I think I heard wrong… it can’t possibly do that rule-bending thing’ (notably, the shooting attacks which happen even when in combat and being able to repeatedly cast the same spell).

The scenario was Battleline with 8 terrain pieces.  In the East was a Sinister Statue (which we never remembered about), the centre held an Altar of Khaine and in the far West we had a Nehekharan Sphinx.  In the South-West were some (normal) walls and in the East was a (normal) fence.  As ever, the forests and the river were mysterious.  The Great Bray Shaman took Wyssan’s Wildform, Curse of Anraheir, Amber Spear and Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt while the Bray Shaman had Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma and Enfeebling Foe.  Both Vampires, eschewing having to randomly select spells like a peasant, simply took their entire Lores.  We set up, pausing frequently to correct minor mistakes and then again to remind Aramoro to actually put his Terrorgheist on the table (it is mid-painting, so he was just using the base), and the Vampires won the roll to go first.  Against a foe with almost as little shooting as me, I was happy to let them.

The army of the Undead marches shuffles forward.  The Eastern Ghoul pack enter what turns out to be a Blood Forest and I sigh as I realise that lots of spells are going to be cast in this game and that the forest could end up just about anywhere (moving terrain makes Battle Chronicler-ing the game harder).  The Winds of Magic blow at 6,4 and the Vampire Lord pulls another couple of power dice out of nowhere thanks to his Master of the Black Arts.  Invocation of Nehek raises 5 Ghouls in the forest, which scoots 8″ toward the river (and fails to take any of them with it).  Winds of Undeath takes a couple of wounds off here and there and raises a Spirit Host in front of the Gors, then Birona’s Timewarp is put on the Western Ghouls.  I dispel both Shem’s Burning Gaze (on the Raiders) and Pha’a Protection on the Grave Guard.  The Terrorgheist clears his throat and 5 Gors perish.

The Gors, not fancying a giant undead monster in their flank, manoeuver to keep the big guy in their front arc and refuse the bait of the Spirit Host.  Everyone else goes forward with the Minotaurs angling to either direct the Ghouls out of the way or face the interesting part of the battlefield depending on how things went.  The Great Bray Shaman uses the first few of his 3,2 magic dice to put Curse of Ahraheir on the Ghouls in the Forest (but luckily we forgot to move it again) then gets an Irresistable casting of Wyssan’s Wildform (on two dice) on the Gors.  The resulting Magical Feedback wounds the Bray Shaman, but my general is made of sterner stuff.

The turbo-powered Western Ghouls charge the Minotaurs, but the Grave Guard, needing a 3 to charge the Raiders roll 1,1 and stumble forward ineptly.  Despite rolling only 5,1 magic dice, the Vampires end up with 10 power dice after using the Black Periapt, Master of the Black arts and channelling (not Black channelling though).  Curse of Years on the Gors is dispelled, but Vanhel’s Danse Macabre gets the Grave Guard into the Raiders.  I was going to use my Dispel Scroll at this stage, but it was pointed out that it could just be cast again.  How happy would I be if I could just cast Wyssan’s Wildform as often as I felt like it?  Pha’s Protection and Speed of Light are cast on the Ghouls in combat (the former was let through, the latter I failed to dispel).  In a mighty display of shouting ‘Boo!’, the Terrorgheist scares another 6 Gors to death.  My Ungor Raiders turn out to be little ninjas, killing 4 Grave Guard before being cut down; the Undead reform to 5 wide to get round the Altar.  The Ghouls are taking none of that nonsense from the Minotaurs, killing 4 of them and leaving the last one to flee (though he does take a single Ghoul with him to snack on).  They reform to face the Bestigors.

Unfortunately for the Ghouls in the forest, the reforming of the other pack leaves the Bestigors a clear path to their flank (I considered going for the Skeletons instead but it was a bit too risky on the charge roll, and failing would have meant terrible things happening to the Bestigors).  The Gors, seeing path out of the Terrorgheist’s charge arc, run screaming into the Spirit Host, apparently hoping to dissolve it by weight of numbers and flags.  The Bray Shaman moves to try to encourage the Grave Guard to stay out of the way a bit longer while the Ungors wheel to keep the Ghouls off the back of the Bestigors for a turn.  With 4,3 magic dice, the Great Bray Shaman puts the Curse on the unit of Ghouls he’s fighting, then Wildform on the Ungors (to keep the expected combat against the Ghouls a bit more even).  Miasma on the unengaged Ghouls is dispelled.  In combat, the Great Bray Shaman makes way to get involved, as does the Tomb Banshee (though the latter is careful to avoid the magical attacks of the former, moving over to keep some of the Bestigor swings from mattering).  Even with such a narrow contact point and the Banshee blocking some attacks, the Ghouls are mauled down to only 4 plus the Banshee after crumbling.  The Bestigors reform to 5 wide to keep the Skeleton Warriors from sneaking past them.  Meanwhile, the Spirit Host fails to wound any of the Gors and disappears to static combat resolution.  The Gors gleefully over-run past the Terrorgheist and out of the way.

In a move that I somehow didn’t see coming, the Terrorgheist charges the Bray Shaman.  More expectedly, the Ghouls charge the Ungors and the Vampire Lord goes for broke, charging his Skeletons into the flank of the Bestigors.  The Grave Guard wheel round the Altar of Khaine and I realise that it’s going to Ungor sandwich time shortly.  Indeed, an Irresistable casting of Vanhel’s Danse Macabre ensure that the Grave Guard contact the rear of the Ungors, but Mannfred the Acolyte loses all his remaining wizard levels.  Pha’s Protection on the Skeleton Warriors is dispelled, and of three attempts to reinforce the mauled Ghoul pack, one is dispelled, one is Scrolled (I was about to lose the Shaman anyway, so there was no reason not to use it) and once reincarnates five Ghouls.  In the shooting phase, the Terrorgheist shouts the Bray Shaman to death (oh well, I suppose it only hastened his inevitable end) but the Tomb Banshee can’t be heard above the braying of Bestigors.  The Great Bray Shaman makes way once again to cut down the annoying Tomb Banshee, and the Bestigors finish off the Ghouls.  A couple of Skeletons are cut down, but two hits on the Vampire Lord roll 1,1, to wound so this one is obviously destined to go to single combat.  Crumbling takes care of a few more Skeletons, then the Bestigors reform to face them for width and maximum contact.  Things don’t go so smoothly for the Ungors who are duly hammered.  Even in defeat they do me proud though, as the Ghouls fail to restrain pursuit and are dragged away from the action in the West.  The Grave Guard are more sensible though, reforming back to 10 wide and facing the rear of the Bestigors.

The Wargor signals a swift reform, and the Gors begin a long trudge to actually achieve anything in this game.  We roll 5,2 magic dice, but the Great Bray Shaman casts Curse of Anraheir on the Grave Guard with Irresistable Force killing 4 Bestigors in the miscast and sucking up the rest of the power dice.  I consider  using some of the dice collected by the Jagged Dagger to do more casting but since the Vampires have their full allotment of dispel dice it would probably be a waste this time.  The Vampire Lord takes a look at the enraged goatmen facing him, then takes a look at the giant axes they’re all wielding and finally decides on the ‘soft’ option of issuing a challenge.  It’s a good call, but the Great Bray Shaman is no slouch in combat either; the pair of generals trade a wound each.  Meanwhile, the skeletons are smashed down to just the champion, and with just him and the Vampire Lord left to face 10 crumble wounds, that means it’s good night from both of them.  The Bestigors shrug and reform to face the Grave Guard.

Neither the Grave Guard nor the Ghouls crumble after the demise of their master, but the Terrorgeist obligingly falls into a pile of dust (it had a taken a wound from dangerous terrain earlier thanks to its shenanigans in the woods).  To make matters worse, the Grave Guard fail the frenzy check due to the proximity of the Altar of Khaine and charge into the Bestigors who are waiting and licking their lips in anticipation of a proper fight.  The Ghouls sheepishly reform to face back to the action, wishing that they could use musicians.  I am amazed by the sheer power of the Bestigors.  They take a few casualties from the Grave Guard, but six of them gang up to send Mannfred back to the earth and the rest wipe the Grave Guard out to a man.  There isn’t even anyone left to face the 20 or so crumble wounds coming to them.  With that and only having a single Ghoul pack left, Aramoro has seen enough and concedes.  Victory for the Beastmen!

That was certainly a game of two halves.  For the first couple of turns I felt like I was really getting crushed, after the Minotaurs were mauled by the Ghouls and the Gors were out-manoeuvered by the Grave Guard and Terrorgheist.  Then, once the Bestigors got into combat, it was a different game entirely.  The unit isn’t cheap, but it really hands out damage like nothing else.

The Minotaurs might have been a little unlucky facing Ghouls with such good magical support, but as it happened they were nothing more than an expensive speed-bump.  I think Aramoro made a big mistake in reforming the Ghouls as it allowed the Bestigors to get past them, and from there they were able to chew through three units on their own.  The Ungors, by contrast, died horribly as well but at least they did it on my terms, holding off two units when it mattered most.  And as for the Raiders, they performed far better than could be expected.

On the down side, I completely wasted the Gors and Wargor and they achieved almost nothing other than not dying.  Even thinking back, I’m not really sure how I could have used them.  Although they’d have stuck around with the Terrorgheist in their flank, it would have killed plenty of them in the process.  Similarly, I didn’t really get much value out of the Bray Shaman, but I’m not too worried about that – I didn’t have enough magic dice to make much of his spells this time, but there have been plenty of battles when he’s shown his mettle.

Overall, I think that there are two major learning objectives here.  One is to moan less.  I’ve noticed again how whiny I can be when things don’t seem to be going well and I need to stop that.  It’s especially embarrassing in games like this where the flow of the battle swings so dramatically back in my favour.  The second is to recognise that I’m not likely to be doing much apart from picking my Beastmen off the table in the first few turns – they don’t have much in the way of missile weapons and I rarely take ranged damage magic either.  But when the herd gets into tooth-and-nail range, that’s where the battles are won.

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