Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Warhammer Fantasy: Last dice of 2013

Last post of 2013, delayed until 2014 as I wanted to figure out how to apply the cool new Google snow falling effect to all my pics, after it helpfully randomly applied it to one. Yes, you can expect me to totally overuse this. Not my fault really, after kicking the snow-base habit (no one noticed!), I am in serious withdrawal... 

Looking back at the first posts of 2013, it was a combination of WOTR/Hobbit (whatever happened to my WOTR obsession?) and Bolt Action. Bolt Action is still in train, as while some regular opponents are a bit cold on it, others are quite hot on it - and Chris and I have cool Baker Company Winter War Finns/Soviets coming sometime this year. In the meantime, war-gaming is same as it ever was. I still have far too many projects that I am nominally doing, too little space to store it all, and boxes of plastic lying around waiting to be painted. It hasn't helped my attendance at events either as no one seems to do quite whatever has grabbed me, at any given moment. So what's the New Year resolution? Don't have one. I do however have a current  project, a batrep to go with it, and some 'progress' reworking my stuff for it - will that do in lieu of resolutions?

Yep it is round two of me vs Jason's Vampire Counts. Inexplicably, I still like this game, despite being terrible at it. Jason had a new combination - big block of skeletons, big block of Grave Guard (?), another block of Undead who never fought anything. Then two incredibly destructive Vampiresses. He also had a Black Coach, I may have over-obsessed with this unit. Apparently it is some kind of WHFB/Pride and Prejudice mash-up. Like the Zombies/Pride and Prejudice mash up someone did. I had my fearless (hah) army of Men. Two units of thirty pike, eight Freelancers (mounted Men at Arms), ten Pit-Fighters (men dressed up to reenact the role of Norscans in bloody Tilean Gladiatorial displays) and two lots of five light cavalry with spears. And a cannon. Then there is a priest standing in for the Paymaster (BSB) and the mighty Lvl 4 white wizard lord and his Lvl 1 apprentice. Guess the list yet? Yep, not Empire but fan-made Dogs of War. Because ten point pike are just not reasonable. I would also note the equally, 85pt cannon are not reasonable either. 

Due to my superior skill, I one the roll off to take the side with a hill to put my cannon on. I then tried to send off sneaky light cav to work the enemy flanks, while having the Pike wait for the coming enemy near the central stream. This was a Mysterious stream, with mysterious random effects. Sadly, the one we rolled (when the Black Coach came clattering through) was just 'causes fear' and not something useful like 'the waters reach up and suck the last wound of that Coach before it gets a chance to become OP in the next magic phase' (and actual option on the table, I wish). The Dogs of War don't have the mighty Imperial Volley gun but do have a Ribault and a lighter cannon. Happily all 'lighter' means in WHFB terms is that it's max range is shorter. Could you imagine a list getting two of these for 170 points? Hmm. Mine fired it's first cannon ball into a snowbank, short of it's target: the Black Coach. 

Teach me to trust to unpredictable black powder and inconstant steel. However, the Cardinal (Lvl 4 Light Wizard) had the power of the Lord with him and smote that Black Coach. Boom. Three wounds. Then the undead were upon us. Man they move fast with that bound 'move faster' spell. I will have to learn to watch for that. The lead undead smashed straight into a unit of Pike and the two Vapiresses and the Grave Guard minced up the formation, in short order. Those that survived the initial round, fled. My second unit of pike came charging straight down the hill to hit the flank of this undead super-unit, while the mounted Men at Arms and some light cav pinned another unit of undead between them. I had to hold the small unit of Pit-fighters back as it contained the BSB and spell casters, who scrambled up the hill to join the cannon in searching vainly for un-engaged targets. In the great tragedy of the battle, my Cardinal failed to finish off the Black Coach and it was to gain full OPness next turn (it flies! it is ethereal!). 

On the other hand, look: light cav are cool! Here is one jumping around a third unit of undead and blowing raspberry's at them. Their fellows were assisting the Mounted Men at Arms in slowly grinding down some skeletons. Light cav may have spears but, predictably, it is their horses who do the real killing. Speaking of real killing, my next unit of pike also lasted one round only, despite having the flank on the Grave Guard. Sheesh. They broke and were run down and the undead killing machine rolled on into my Cardinal, his apprentice, and the artillery crew. At this point, I want to put my hand on my heart and say I had 'sort of' planned for this but really needed my cav to finish off their target more quickly than they were. So plan B was my Cardinal deliberately casting with Irresistible force to generate a miscast. Boom, a wound on his apprentice and each of the Vampiresses. Totally worth it.

Jason's sheer aggression had at least exposed the unit to a rear charge by the Pit-Fighters, which they duly took. Speaking of sheer aggression, the Black Coach had joined the other combat. It was unhittable by anything but my spells and my spellcasters were now all engaged in melee. So of course it joined a losing fight and suffered it's fourth and final wound after they lost combat by one. At this point, I was relying on the other combat lasting just one turn longer so that Jason's engine of total destruction wouldn't get to reform to face all my cavalry. It did not, so no additional flank charges for me. At this point, I had to give Jason the win.

I'm still liking this game. I just need to get my mindset away from other games I play and try and work with it's particular logic. I have embraced the magic and cavalry with two hands but need to adjust to the proper role of Pike in the Warhammer World. For some reason, and it does irk me even when I read it on the Dogs of War threads, there is this odd mindset that Pike aren't attacking weapons and one of their defining features should instead be bonuses when things, and only fast things, run up and impale themselves (as if that ever happened).

So they are a cool unit that fights in five ranks, until you attack and that drops to two. Hmm. I seem to recall the Macedonians perfected pike tactics as a means to fight the Greeks (not noted as heavy users of cavalry) and when the pike were returned to prominence (I'll grant you that the Flanders and Scots versions were defensive) by the Swiss in the C15th, it was as a decisive attacking arm. Ok, historical rant over and I should just be glad there are rules for them at all, in Warhammer. I should also be glad that Jason is cool and isn't making me use that out of date DOW list that they always seem to use at local events. I wonder what proportion of Pike there are in those DOW armies? I digress - Look what they've done to me though. My tactically flexible pair of pike squares all mashed together into a horde of pike as otherwise they just get squished and if I try and be clever by working them together, I lose all the benefits I paid for. Still, admittedly it does look cool and if I buy even more pike, I could have two big units of them.

In terms of flexibility in my army formation - the new DOW list has a real gem: the Pit-Fighters. Mine are gladiators dressed up to play the role of rampaging Norscans (think the Gladiator scene where they 're-fought' the Battle of Carthage). Here they are as a block on 2cm bases but they actually move in loose order as skirmishers. I've taken the option to run mine with heavy armour and shields and they have two attacks and str 4. Pricey on a man per man basis (twice the cost of a pikeman) but I can see these providing real options. As they do best in smaller units (no rank bonuses), I might even hunt down some gladiator figures to supplement/replace the erstaz Norscans. That's a long-term goal.

In the short-term, here are actual Norscan Marauders. They are on 25mm bases as that is how Marauders come these days. The figures are GB Vikings with a leavening of Wargames Factory Celts (I hate these figs) as the unit is meant to have light armour only. I've got thirty done up and modeled to have heavy weapons. With Frenzy, they hit like a ton of bricks. Until they get hit back, then they die. So here's hoping they may a big enough hole before that happens. Both the Marauders and the Pit-Fighters are a 'Special' choice in the DOW list. Conveniently, the artillery is Rare.

Also in the 'touch up and rebase' queue are my Warlord Games Scots lancers. I picked Scots Covenanters for my original Pike and Shotte purchase (this was Mk I of the Fantasy Army) purely on the basis of those lancers. In the Dogs of War list, you can give them light crossbows as well, and that'll probably happen with at least some them. I have enough figs for five more so fifteen in total. They are Core in the DOW list so I can have as many as I'm willing to pay for. If I put ten in a unit, it can disrupt it's target and deny them their rank bonus. Units get to keep their steadfast but, given the reasonable price of spear armed light cav, I think that this flanking bonus is worth having on the off chance a unit of ten make it to the end of a combat intact.

The last item on my learning to play Warhammer agenda is the possibility of combat heroes. I imagine I will never be able to top a Vampire combat machine, so should I limit my ambitions to a Captain riding a Pegusus. Or should I aim higher and a tooled up General might be able to hold his own and perhaps take at least on of the foul Vampires down with him?

And that's it. Roll on 2014.


  1. Hey Jamie,

    Cheers for the game - I'm quite keen on Fantasy at the moment too if you can't tell so it's awesome to see your progress! DOW list is cool (those pit fighters are Awesome!) and I'm sure your ahistorical defensive pike block horde will be a much more dangerous proposition now...

    Human combat Heros just can't stand vs a Vampire, though The Lord should be able to kill a baby vamp easy enough without getting too hurt in the bargain. A vampire lord will rip him to bits though...I think preventing me from dominating the magic phase is a good plan still.


    1. To be fair, a lot of the crappier Pike, under the poorer commanders, does match the DOW/Tilean Pike. I possibly just need to keep telling myself that these guys are basically militia Pike; and that Pike does not ever attack in WHFB so to take support units to do that.

      You Vampiresses (Emma and Jane?) are 'baby' Vampires, right? The 'proper' Vampires are Lords in teh region of 400+ points? Guessing the cheaper Strigori Ghoul king is also out of my league?

      Re: the magic phase, have been reading the magic item list. Some cool things in there :)

  2. Cool jamie... plus.. nice snow effect lol

    1. Thanks Andy. 'No comment' on the lack of WOTR?

  3. Cool jamie... plus.. nice snow effect lol