2000 points. Pitched Battle. Hold your breath: tournament prep.
With a week off work and Warhammer: Resurrection on the horizon (still touch and go whether the event can go ahead or not, but we’re assuming yes until we hear no), it was about damn time I took the Deadwood Covenant out for a spin against a real live other person. People’s Prince Ben was available with his usual Elves of a rather loftier persuasion (he also brought Skaven, but under the circumstances we opted for one solid, considered, properly documented game). The venue was a recently re-opened Bristol Independent Gaming, and a pleasure it was to be back there too.
After consultation with the wise sages of the Classichammer forum, I opted for an army that looked a bit like this:
I’d like to apologise for the amount that’s unpainted. I’ve been back at work full time, pulling my first forty hour weeks in about six years. That’s eaten away at my normal couple of hours’ leisurely painting time and, coupled with a bout of depression and the endless march of the Old World Army Challenge, I simply haven’t had the capacity. I’ll get ’em all done by July, yeronner, I swear.
The Druid Level 4 wizard Stone of the Crystal Mere Ranu’s Heartstone Dispel Scroll The Maven Branchwraith Level 1 wizard Annoyance of Netlings Cluster of Radiants Gwydion Noble Battle Standard Light armour Kinbands of the Black Briar 10 Glade Guard 10 Glade Guard 5 Scouts 5 Scouts Cildraeth Celyn 8 Dryads Cildraeth Eiddew 8 Dryads Kinband of High Tiernmas 20 Eternal Guard Champion, musician, standard bearer Brawdolieath Pren Mawr 4 Tree Kin Uchelwydd Treeman
A lot of prancing about and shooting, with the assorted Forest Spirits to go out and mix things up, and two Stubborn roadblocks in the form of the Eternal Guard and Treeman, all capped off with an uncharacteristic Level 4 Wizard. I know, I know, but I needed Dispelling power and I’m highly averse to scroll caddies. I opted to fish on the Lore of Athel Loren and ended up with Tree Singing, The Twilight Host, Ariel’s Blessing and Call of the Hunt on the Druid, and The Hidden Path on the Maven.
Ben brought his Fourth Edition Starter Box Special, although with the usual shuffling around of elite units.
Prince Avouril Pure of Heart, Swordmaster, Armour of Protection Elyon Level 2 Mage: Dispel Scroll, "Spell Familiar" Arlen Level 2 Mage: Seer... and some other gubbins? 20 Spearmen: First Among Equals: Champion, musician, and standard (War Banner) 20 Spearmen: Champion, musician, and standard 10 Archers 10 Archers 5 Reavers: Champion 20 Swordmasters: Champion, musician and standard (Banner of Sorcery) 2 Bolt Throwers
Prince Avouril took command, thanks to a kind Intrigue at Court roll. Arlen had Walk Between Worlds and Fury of Khaine and was deployed with the First Among Equals Spearmen, Elyon had Flames of the Phoenix, Curse of Arrow Attraction and Fortune is Fickle and was deployed with the Swordmasters alongside Avouril.
I had every intention of refusing my right flank, leaving Scouts and Uchelwydd the Treeman to detain and deter the High Elves on that side while focusing the bulk of my efforts on deleting the Swordmasters early on, holding them with the Eternal Guard and then having Forest Spirits swing in to finish them off. You’ll have to squint to spot the Druid: he’s cowering behind that central hill (on which it would be rude not to set up the Glade Guard, really).
Despite my being ahead in terms of droppage, Ben won the roll-off and took the first turn.
High Elves 1
The bulk of the High Elf army made either no advances, or only very cautious ones to correct line of sight issues; only the Reavers made a fast flanking darting type manoeuvre down the side. There followed a dreadful opening magic phase in which Flames of the Phoenix was not successfully cast on the Dryads, Fortune is Fickle was not successfully cast on the Maven, and Curse of Arrow Attraction was not successfully cast on the Dryads either, leaving me with a big heap of Dispel dice to make Walk Between Worlds go away. Ben did manage to kill a couple of the right hand Dryads with massed longbow fire, and three Glade Guard from the right hand unit with his Bolt Throwers, but all Panic tests were passed. A somewhat feeble opener.
Wood Elves 1
My first discovery: it is surprisingly hard to summarise the way this Wood Elf army moves, as everything shifts and dances around with rather more fluidity than my usual ponderous Undead. Essentially, everything on my left flank piled into the wood, the Eternal Guard moved up to stand off against the Swordmasters, the Scouts advanced to get line of sight on the Reavers and Bolt Throwers, and Uchelwydd the Treeman marched up ready to get into the nearby Spearmens’ grill.
Tree Singing only achieved a 2″ shuffle on the wood, not quite the dramatic impact I’d hoped for, but Call of the Hunt went off with Irresistible Force, shoving Uchelwydd forward 4″ and into Strangleroot range of the Spearmen! He misfired, but he tried, and that’s the main thing. The rest of my shooting killed one Reaver, four Swordmasters, and scratched the paintwork on the Repeater Bolt Thrower on the hill.
High Elves 2
Passing their Terror test and deciding that it was better to do than die, the Spearmen charged Uchwelwydd and prayed for sixes. Flames of the Phoenix got my Dispel Scroll, and I allowed Fortune is Fickle through on the Maven (she wasn’t really planning to cast any time soon anyway) so I could save my dice for Fury of Khaine on the Scouts. Ben’s shooting killed a Scout and a Glade Guard (really not doing too well on that front). Predictably, the High Elf Spearmen were unable to wound the Treeman; Uchelwydd only killed one of them in return, but held thanks to Stubborn and the re-roll from Gwydion.
Wood Elves 2
Everyone in the forest piled out of the forest; the Scouts to shoot up those wayward Reavers before they could get up to mischief, the Tree Kin to face off against the First Among Equals Spearmen, and the Maven and her Dryads to spread out and prepare to Terror bomb Ben’s infantry line with a quick blast of the ol’ Twilight Host. The other Dryads looped around to flank the Less Equal Than Others Spearmen, while the Eternal Guard moved up toward the Swordmasters, trying to keep Gwydion near every combat I was expecting to fight. I also pulled the Druid up onto the hill to try and stay away from those Reavers; this would prove to be Not A Good Enough Idea.
Sadly, Ben dispelled Twilight Host and Scrolled Call of the Hunt. Shooting felled two Reavers, two Swordmasters and absolutely nothing to do with any Bolt Thrower crew; in combat, the Spearmen didn’t scratch Uchelwydd and he flattened three of them in return, losing but holding once again.
High Elves 3
Ben declared three charges. I was fine with two of them. One… less so.
Walk Between Worlds wasn’t going to make any difference, so I let it through. Curse of Arrow Attraction on the Maven’s unit was, so it absolutely got dispelled. There wasn’t a lot else Ben’s Mages could do, since they were both in combat now. All of Ben’s Archers whiffed, but the Bolt Throwers took out all but one of the Dryads threatening to support Uchelwydd and that was deemed Good Enough, Actually.
Then close combat, and gosh it was a debacle. The Tree-Kin utterly whiffed, broke, and fled, narrowly outpacing the First Among Equals Spearmen. I wasn’t sure if the Druid could legitimately issue a challenge and limit the number of attacks that came his way, but it was basically a moot point as he failed his very first Ward save and the Stone of the Crystal Mere promptly stopped working; he broke, ran, and was chased down by the Reavers, who went into the back of the Glade Guard unit. Should have taken Glamourweave. Should have put him in a bloomin’ unit too. Meanwhile, after another round of failing to be hurt, Uchelwydd failed his Break test (not a lot you can do about a ten, then an eleven on the reroll) and was promptly chased down by the Possibly Better Than The First Among Equals After All Spearmen.
At least the Eternal Guard held out, with Gwydion even managing to land a wound on Elyon the Less Ethereal Mage, although the Swordmasters’ Champion was able to cut down his arboreal counterpart with minimal fuss.
Wood Elves 3
Things were starting to look bleak, but I’ve come back from worse. The lone Dryad up top didn’t make her charge on the Bolt Thrower, but the Maven and co managed theirs into the Swordmasters’ flank, and the Tree-Kin rallied. All my available missile units pivoted to focus the First Among Equals Spearmen, and successfully removed eight of them from the battlefield. (Fortune is Fickle, incidentally, was quietly Dispelled in the meantime.)
My engaged Glade Guard took a kicking from the Reavers, but the four who remained passed their Break test.
In the important combat, Prince Avouril issued a challenge which the Maven gleefully accepted; thanks to her Annoyance of Netlings, she took no hits and landed a wound in return. Gwydion chopped Elyon’s other arm off, removing the mage from the equation, and the Wood Elves managed two kills on the Swordmasters for one in return. A win… but not enough, and the Swordmasters held.
High Elves 4
I don’t have a good movement shot of this turn, so here’s a close-up of the Surprisingly Effective Spearmen instead.
Most of Ben’s army shuffled, unwilling to commit to further atrocities now they’d taken some hits and had Scouts in their awkward angles. Four Dispel dice from me stopped Curse of Arrow Attraction on the Tree-Kin and I had to let Fury of Khaine go but, fortunately, it whiffed. Ben’s shooting eliminated the last rogue Dryad and killed a Scout on the right flank, but otherwise didn’t amount to much.
In combat, the Maven and the Prince continued to defy each other’s best efforts, mutually whiffing. As we cascaded down the Initiative order, three Swordmasters and four Eternal Guard lay dead; I lost by one, but held thanks to the re-roll from Gwydion’s big flag. Meanwhile, the Glade Guard excelled themselves by driving off the Reavers (who fled off the board) and restraining themselves from giving chase. And it was my turn next. Heh, heh, heh…
Wood Elves 4
The Tree-Kin charged the First Among Equals Spearmen, who (in their now dramatically reduced capacity) elected to flee. Everyone else pivoted to face the Not So Equal After All Spearmen, nocked arrows, and prepared to let rip. Seven Spearmen fell, and incidentally, the Maven cast The Hidden Path on the Tree-Kin, successfully rendering them immune to any Bolt Thrower nonsense that happened to point their way.
In combat, the whiff-fest continued between the two duelling characters, and the troops followed their example; the Swordmasters, who’d fanned out to get every surviving model in combat, didn’t kill a damn thing, while the Dryads and Eternal Guard only managed one each. That was enough, though; the Swordmasters had lost and this time, the Dryads outnumbered them. Off they went, with Gwydion and the Eternal Guard managing to chase them down. And end up standing right in front of a High Elf shooting phase.
High Elves 5
The Less Equal Than Others Spearmen failed their charge on the closest Glade Guard unit, and lost a body to the stand-and-shoot reaction into the bargain. Ben’s magic was a non-starter, with nothing relevant to cast, but his shooting was effective enough, killing all the Eternal Guard but for the Standard Bearer, who suddenly found himself holding two flags, standing next to Gwydion’s even bigger flag, and fast running out of hands.
Wood Elves 5
This may look suspiciously similar to the last image, but inspect more closely. You will observe that the Dryads have leapfrogged the Flag Shaggers’ Convention in the middle there (and also received The Hidden Path to protect against any further Bolt Thrower incidents); the Tree Kin have chased off the First Among Equals Spearmen again following a brisk, brutal round of combat; and everyone else has eliminated the Second Among Equals Doesn’t Mean Squat Spearmen with some close-range volley fire.
High Elves 6
There was only one way to clear the fire lanes for every available Bolt Thrower, and Ben took it, piling a unit of Archers into the Maven and her mates. He opened magical hostilities with an Irresistible Fury of Khaine on the Tree-Kin (good start) but called and did a total of two hits, no wounds for his trouble. The subsequent hail of arrows finished off Gwydion and the last Eternal Guard, very unfortunate, while the Maven and co showed that weeds can whack back and disposed of the Archers in short order.
Wood Elves 6
All was over bar the shouting. The Tree-Kin and Dryads both charged the fleeing High Elves right in front of them, removing them from the board and securing/contesting table quarters, while the combined firepower of the surviving Wood Elves finally removed a Bolt Thrower’s crew. Throw enough mud at a wall, and eventually you’ll get a muddy wall.
High Elves: 1228 Victory Points
Wood Elves: 2170 Victory Points
Solid Victory to the Wood Elves!
Not, I should add, that it especially felt like one; there was a point in the middle there, round about the time my
Archmage Spellweaver and Treeman both broke and fled in the same turn, when I honestly thought I was done for. Fortunately, the Forest Spirits didn’t let me down, and Ben’s units had to run the gauntlet of short-ranged Glade Guard shooting if they wanted to close the trap.
There’s quite a lot to think about coming out of this battle, to the point where I want to do a full unit-by-unit teardown in a separate post. I’m broadly happy with the army list, but the design and execution are both not quite there yet. I’ll be writing that post tomorrow, but if you’ve spotted something I really should think about, my comments are always open.