Archive for December, 2013

Woo-hoo! I finally have time to update my blog! It’s been a very very very very long time since the last update but there has been plenty going on behind the scenes. A lot of my free time was spent finalising and frantically painting my Undead army for the Oldhammer day held at Foundry in Nottingham over the weekend of August 31st. My biggest problem initially was discovering that the event was happening a month earlier than I was expecting. This meant that my ideal army list, that involved a couple of chariots with level 15 Undead Heros in them backed up by infantry, two Skull Chuckers and possibly a Plague Cart had to be dropped. Bugger. Instead I was looking at an all out infantry force with some cavalry and no vampire. In other words I would be fielding what I felt was quite a soft list. Even so, the main reason for going to the event was to meet like minded people and have fun rather than field an hard netlist.

The army list and deployment

I knew that my opponent, Erny, was fielding an Orc and Goblin list but beyond that I didn’t have a clu because. I’ve never played against an Orc and Gobin army in 3rd and skimming that particular army in Warhammer Armies I had even less of an idea as to what I’d be facing. So, I decided to put together a generic list I’d field against any opponent rather than one that specialises against Orcs and Goblins.

After literally days of fiddling with my armylist I made the final decision the night before the event. I still didn’t have a Vampire painted, they’re a huge points sink, so I decided that I was going to have to win the game with through attrition with me raising and repairing units where necessary. Prior to the game we agreed to not go beyond Level 20 with our heros so my Undead horde would be led by a Level 20 Necromancer. He would be backed up with some well kitted out Level 15 Undead Heros who would not only be able to dish some damage out but they would also be able to survive any potential challenges and a handful of Level 5 Undead Heros to lead cheap units. I did expect to face a lot of Goblin archers so, worst case I would use Zombies to shield more expensive units. My biggest concern was flying monsters because I wouldn’t have anything to deal with them other than optimism and a bit of luck!

I won’t go into the exact details of my army list as I think it goes against the spirit of Oldhammer to put up a net list but this is roughly what was fielded and how it was deployed. Regardless of my opponents deployment I’d already decided on how I was going to deploy my army prior to the game. From left to right:

  • 5 death riders led by a Level 5 Undead Hero with the intention of either engaging soft units or riding around them to harass war machines/individual characters on either the left or right flank.
  • 24 Zombies led by a Level 5 Undead Hero to act as a speed bump on the left flank.
  • 18 Grim Reapers led by the Army General and Army Standard Bearer centre left. As much as I don’t like putting expensive Level 20 Necromancers into combat it’s going to happen at some point during the game.
  • 23 Skeleton Warriors with spears led by a Level 15 Undead Hero centre right. This would give me a strong centre to reinforce the Grim Reapers. It would also house my Level 15 Necromancer.
  • 24 Zombies led by a Level 5 Undead Hero to act as a speed bump on the right flank.
  • 1 Skull Chucker somewhere near the middle rear of the board. I tend to blind fire these because the moment they’re on their own on a hill they tend to be destroyed in two turns.

I deliberately left a unit sized gap on the left flank inbetween my Zombies and Grim Reapers. This was space for a unit I was intending to raise prior to the game starting.

The game

Unfortunately I didn’t make any notes or take any photos of the game. For the pre-battle casting I rolled low when I raised my unit of skeletons and got about 17, which was poor. I also raised a level 15 champion into that unit. This gave me a very solid centre.

Erny consistently cast Frenzy on his troops to enable them to successfully shoot and charge my Undead. On the left my Death Riders were badly mauled by Goblin Fanatics and they bounced off his Goblin Archers(!) through some pathetic dice rolling on my behalf. My Zombies ambled towards his Orc archers (who ran after my Skull Chucker got a decent hit on them) and on the right my Zombies shuffled around a bit blocking that flank. It was in the centre of the battlefield that things got interesting. All three units of my Skeletons (raised, unit with general, spears) were level with each other and facing a huge unit of Orcs, containing his general and army standard bearer, and large unit of Boar Riders. I did something that raised a few eyebrows and one onlooker thought I was bonkers; the unit containing my general took a couple of paces back. Why? Because I wanted to bait Erny into charging my other units then I would charge my unit containing my general and army standard bearer into his flank which would really dish the pain out. Ernys Orcs were frenzied and the bait had to be taken. On my right his boar riding champion learned the joy of Degenerative Strike as that felled him the minute he was in combat. This meant that for pretty much the rest of the game his frenzied boar riders (kept frenzied using the frenzy spell) and my skeletons with spears pushed each other forwards and backwards without anything particularly decisive happening. Given enough time I’m sure my skeletons would’ve seen them off because he would eventually run out of magic points before I’d run out of skeletons.

However, in the centre, his generals unit already engaged in the front received the charge from my generals unit in the side. This turned into a real meat grinder and we both knew that this is where the game would be won or lost. The raised unit of skeletons was, IIRC, pushed back and lost a lot of models due to a poor instability roll and Erny dispatched the raised level 15 hero. But, my generals unit was still hitting him hard with my Army Standard Bearer continued to reliably dish out a lot of pain. Things were looking good for my Undead and Erny knew it, he was running out of magic points to keep his troops frenzied and it was a matter of time before they’d break. And then something unexpected happened.. Erny managed to lob a rock squarely onto my Army Standard Bearer that squashed him flat. Once that happened the combat effectiveness of that unit dropped dramatically and Erny started to claw his way back from the brink. We could both see that victory was still going to be hard won and, unfortunately, by the time we got to this point I was going to have to pack up to get the train home. Because of this we decided to end the game based on our generals fighting each other in a duel meaning it would be huge death dealing Orc verses Undead raising human Necromancer. Attacking in Initiative order, in the rush to reach his opponent, my Necromancer tripped over his robe and missed with all of his attacks. Oh dear. I’ll start to pack up now shall I? Not doing anything by half Erny hit my Necromancer, who was wounded earlier on, and firmly sent him to the grave rolling three sixes to wound. I was hoping to have at least survived the initial combat to get the opportunity to cast Hand of Death on his general which would potentially be the game winner. But it wasn’t to be.

The aftermath

It was a shame to end the game on a duel because I had to catch my train but, realistically, without my Army Standard bearer I think Ernys Orc’s would’ve ground me down in another two turns. In any event it was a great game with a friendly opponent who had a similar mindset gamewise.

There is actually little I would’ve changed with my battle plan or deployment. In terms of my armylist I shouldn’t have bothered giving my Necromancers armour because the extra magic points I had to use when casting, because they were wearing said armour, would’ve been more useful in the game to get another Raise Dead spell off than me hoping to roll a six every so often. I ran out of magic points early on so squeezing another Necromancer into the list would’ve been a boost, ideally putting him on horseback with the Death Riders to raise them back. I’m not sure just how useful the single Skull Chucker was, it routed one unit of Orc Archers (who rallied) who’s only target was a unit of Zombies. I.e. big deal because Zombies are nothing but cheap fodder. A Plague Cart would’ve been an awful lot more useful to my mainly infantry force than the Skull Chucker but I didn’t have my Plague Cart painted, in fact it’s still not painted. 😉 Another change would be to have three smaller units of Zombies rather than two and use one unit to draw the Fanatics out. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all that!

Another important thing I kept forgetting was exactly what each hero was armed with, I always remembered that they had Degenerative Strike but I forgot about parrying too many times. This was down to me not printing off my army list as clearly as I should’ve done. So, I’m actually toying with making up cards for each hero in the vein of the old Space Marine Special Character cards or possibly printing colour detachment cards like the ones you get in the 1st/2nd edition WHFB campaign packs like Terror of the Lichemaster.

Things to ponder

As we played the game one thing kept cropping up; we needed to think about creating a Warhammer 3.5 ruleset ourselves to keep the many bits we like in 3rd edition but to speed the play up a bit. As entertaining as it is to watch the battlelines push forward and back it takes forever to play with little actual outcome in the game.

The other thing that crossed my mind was how balanced and tactical the game felt. This got me thinking further that my army list didn’t lose me the game. If pushed I could’ve create a really horrible army list using Warhammer Armies and play in an particularly unpleasant manner but at 2k both armies felt quite balanced. In other words, unlike the current version of WHFB my game wasn’t lost because of the build of my army list. Instead it was lost less on my tactics and more through the luck of the dice. Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

The event

Although I own a lot of Foundry models, mainly from their classic Imperial Roman range, I’d never been to their venue before. And what a venue it is! Lots of fantastic gaming tables surrounded by racks and racks of Foundry miniatures and display cabinets full of wonderfully painted models including many iconic models, from Bryan Ansell’s personal collection, that were featured in White Dwarf (IIRC around issues 100-130). Lovely stuff! A special mention should be made that the Foundry staff were always polite, friendly and bend over backwards helpful. They happily let us amble around their venue at our own speed without feeling the need to engage us GW style. I.e. there was none of that GW redshirt hardsell nonsense!

Although I browsed the many blister packs I’d already decided to not buy any more figures at Foundry because my historical armies have been gathering dust for years and I didn’t need to add to those particular piles for the time being. Instead I bought a copy of Kevin Dallimore’s Painting and modelling masterclass. I’ll discuss/review this another time but needless to say it was worth every penny!

Oldhammer 2014

Getting back to the Oldhammer event there will be a second event, held at Foundry, on August 9th/10th. This is a bit of a pain for me because, again, I can only make the Saturday on that weekend but I’ll definitely be there and this time I’ll be bringing my 2nd edition Dark Elves rather than my Undead. I was tempted to bring my 3rd edition Dark Elf edition models, because the range of models is bigger to allow for a very consistent look (something I like), but the Dark Elf list in Warhammer Armies is so limiting at 2k points I can pretty much use all of my 2nd edition models with a bit of 3rd edition mixed in if need be. I’ll be attempting to pull my finger out and blog about this army as I build it!