Monday, February 6, 2012

WFB Battle Report(s): Vampire Counts

I was lucky enough this weekend to get two games in on Saturday at the store, and started another at Universal Battle!

Here's a recap of the two "real" games, and my thoughts on how my Vampire army works as a whole and my likely upcoming changes!

Hexwraiths ready for painting!

My first game Saturday was against my good friend Nick (Apothecary Bob as he's known on the forum) and his Tomb Kings. This was my first experience against the new Tomb Kings, and I had no idea what to expect. I was quite daunted when he plopped down a unit of 80 Skeletal Archers and explained to me that the special character in there gave them BS4 and Poison! Yiikes! He had a giant Sphyxian thing (I made up a new word!), a big unit of Tomb Guard (who, I came to find out, have Killing Blow like Grave Guard!), and a small horde (only 30...) of skeletal warriors. To lead this force he had Kallida (sp?), a Level 4 wizard (with the TK lore), and lvl 2 with Death, and a level 2 with Light.

I was using my theory-hammerified (another new word!) Vampires:

Master Necromancer - 295
Black Periapt; Rod of Flaming Death; Level 4
Vampire - 234
Battle Standard Bearer; Heavy Armour; Enchanted Shield; Sword of Might; Book of Arkhan; Red Fury
Vampire - 211
Heavy Armour; Shield; Staff of Damnation; Level 2; Dark Acolyte
Cairn Wraith - 60

5 Dire Wolves - 40
5 Dire Wolves - 40
20 Zombies - 70
20 Zombies - 70
40 Ghouls - 410

30 Grave Guard - 440
Full Command; Great Weapons; Banner of the Barrows
6 Hexwraiths - 180
Corpse Cart -120
Unholy Lodestone
Spirit Host - 45
Spirit Host - 45

Mortis Engine - 240
Blasphemous Tome

Nick had only a handful of deploys, so I got to do pretty much whatever I wanted, since I pack in 11 drops. I thought I'd keep my Grave Guard out of range of that archer nightmare, and tie them up with Hexwraiths, Spirit Host, and/or Zombies. In the pic below you can see that, from my left to right, he's got Warriors, Archers, Sphyxie thing, and Tomb Guard. My left to right went Wolves, Hexies, Zombies, Ghouls, Grave Guard, with Mortis Engine on the end (my model isn't together yet, so I was using just an empty grey base). The last Zombies and Corpse Cart went behind the Ghouls and Grave Guard.

I Vanguard moved my dogs and Hexies forward, and off we went.

Start of the game!
The first few turns were a bit on the dull side. He did minimal movement, preferring to make me come in to range of his skeletal death cannon unit of doom. I focused on dispelling magic attacks on the ethereals, making new zombies and trying to get my units actually in to a fight.

I drove the Hexwraiths in to his big unit on the second turn, did fine on my turn but fluffed the rolls on his turn and they all died to crumble. Boo! However, they did save me a crucial turn of shooting, and allowed me to close the distance with a big unit of zombies with the BSB and a Wraith. I was able to get one Spirit Host in to his big Sphynxie monster...the ideal target, really, as he doesn't have any Static CR, so could tie him up indefinitely! I also pushed the Ghouls up towards his Tomb Guard, with the Mortis Engine going wide for flank attack.

Forward, my Ghostly Minions!

Here Come The Sun, Little Darling!

He got a Purple Sun off finally, sending it right at a Spirit Host, killing it. The Zombies, with BSB and Wraith, and the Corpse Cart hit his giant unit. I'd hoped to be able to resummon zombies fast enough to overcome any damage they dealt in melee while just keeping them from shooting. The one round of shooting they got on the zombies before the charge killed almost 50 zombies. Ouch!

Grave Guard stuck in traffic!

Sadly things didn't go quite as planned. The Tomb Guard killed the Dark Acolyte Vampire (this is where I learned they have Killing Blow!), and the Death Wizard got off a Caress on the Necro, killing him 3 times over. Not to be deterred, crumble didn't go horrible, so the ghouls and Mortis Engine ate the Tomb Guard, including the Prince and BSB over a few combat rounds. My BSB, Wraith, and Corpse Cart continued to win combats against the Skeletal Archers, even killing off his Hierophant in the process, and almost Kalida, too! My second Zombie unit went in to his Death Wizard, killing him with static CR and overrunning in to the warrior unit, and did a bit of damage, but couldn't really dish out enough damage to win the fight decisively.

The Mortis Engine overruns in to the big giant meanie, while the BSB and Cairn Wraith kill everything!

After killing the Tomb Guard on the charge, the Mortis Engine unwisely overran in to his big monster, which was very pleased to have a target it could kill, but in the two combat turns we had the mortis engine refused to die.

The game ended after 6, with me winning something like 1097 to 977. An extremely close and fun game, I really enjoyed it...except the stupid Death Spell. I'd completely forgotten in my return to 8th that there are spells that so easily pick models out of a unit...I'll have to rethink the equipment on the Necro!

I was very happy with how the list performed...the Ghouls were able to eat the "elite infantry" that went in to them; the Zombies were able to tarpit as much as needed, even enduring the 60 or so shots they had to take before getting there. The Vampire BSB with SOM and Red Fury was a nightmare, killing handfuls of Skellies each turn. The Staff of Damnation and Book of Arkhan were both very useful, as was the Black Periapt (though as an aside, I keep finding myself letting spells through I could probably stop trying to save 2 dice for my Casting it worth the trade off?).

I think I moved very poorly, with the Grave Guard having nothing to fight the whole game. Similarly, while it's charge was able to kill off the Tomb Prince, the Mortis Engine was left way out of range to provide help to my casters (or mess with his miscasts...speaking of which, somewhere in there his Hierophant did miscast, and was reduced to lvl 2), then I foolishly overran in to a big monster that's custom made to beat up big things like the mortis engine.

My points came from killing his BSB and Prince and the Tomb Guard, the Hierophant, and the second wizard. He was able to kill off lots of chaff, some characters (including the General), a zombie unit, and my poor Hexwraiths. If I'd had some way to keep the General alive, I'd had felt much better, but that's a huge liability that I'm going to have to work a fix in for!

The second game was a dice-off...there were three of us there wanting to play...Nick and I got there first so started our game, but Tim was there painting and waiting to play one of us. We tried to do rock-paper-scissors to see who would play, but we were apparently too nerdy to pull it off, so a dice-off was suggested. I was awarded a +1 to the roll for winning the first game by a Flames of War observer, but won the roll off without it and got to get my second game in...against my Nemesis, the Ogres of Tim!

I'll post more tomorrow about this game, for now a teaser of pics that are too pretty to not share. Check back soon for a complete Battle Report!

Ok, sorry about the split post...I actually had to do real work...what a bother!

Tim's army included a level 4 Slaughtermaster, a level 2 Firebelly, a BSB. I'm sorry, but I didn't note the equipment he used, although I know the hellheart was in there! Maybe Tim will post here and let us know! He had a large unit of Bulls, a large unit of Ironguts, and a large unit of Maneaters (Swiftstried, Poison, Swiftness Banner, and xtra hand weapons on the front 3). He had an Ironblaster, a unit of Leadbelchers, and 3 Sabretusks. And meanest of all, 4 Mournfang with the Dragonhide banner!

I love the basing he did for this guy...can't wait to see him complete!

Slaughtermaster with surgically-added "Fencer's Blades"
We both had a lot of 'chaff' deploys, and our deployment was really a fun battle in itself. I ended up having a bit of an edge, and was able to get the Hexwraiths opposite the Ironblaster and Leadblechers. Everything else kind of squared off over the middle of the table, with him piling up the sabretusks on the extreme left opposite a puny little unit of direwolves.

I tried something a bit different than I'd done before, and put one of the Zombie units up "on the line". I had been putting both Zombie units "behind" the big line, so they'd be easier in range for earlier Invocations, but this often left me struggling to get a Zombie unit up where it could do it's tar-pitting job.

Deployment after Vanguard moves.

Lots of custom sculpting on the Maneaters!
Tim went first, and moved up cagily to keep me from charging anything with Spirit Hosts. His cannon took a shot at the Mortis Engine, which failed it's Regen and took 3 wounds. The Leadbelchers shot up the doggies on my right, leaving only a couple alive. He shot magic at the Spirit Hosts, taking one stand down to 1 wound left. His Cats on the left charged in to my other wolf unit, killing it and overruning off the table.

On my first turn I shuffled the infantry line forward, with the Spirit Hosts going ahead to absorb charges and set up a nice counter-charge. Tim had moved his Bulls so that if the Hex Wraiths charged the Ironblaster they'd take a charge from the Bulls in their flank...this I didn't want, so decided to go in to the Leadbelchers...I figured if nothing else I'd not lose combat (he had no ranks or command) and be safe from the bulls on turn 2, maybe take a charge from them on turn 3, and they'd be out of the fight until turn 6...if my 180 (actually 150...I have 6 in my list, but only had 5 models on Saturday) could tie up 400 points of his army, I'm happy!

Instead the Belchers chose to flee, had a weak flee roll (I think a 5?), and were caught and killed by the Hexwraiths. Yeah!

On his second turn things got really interesting. The Mournfang charged the Ghouls with BSB. The Irongut Deathstar charged one Spirit Host, while the Maneaters charged the other. The Ironblaster tried to charge the last Wolves to clear a path for the Bulls to charge the Hexwraiths, but failed it's roll (it needed a high number, I think) and the bulls got stuck. Magic was not terrible effective as I recall, and there was no shooting.

The ghosts are engaged!
 The BSB got to go first, and with her high Strength and Red Fury she did 4 wounds to the Mounrfang before they got to fight! The rest of the ghouls pulled off one more, but with impact hits and all their high Str attacks, I lost combat and had to lose several ghouls...but overall a win for me, as the unit took the charge and was not too badly mauled! The Spirit Hosts all popped and the Ogres reformed to get ready for the undead onslaught!

Mournfang Charge!
On my turn I sent the Grave Guard in to the Ironguts Deathstar, and the Zombies went in to the Maneaters. The Cairn Wraith went solo in to the Mournfang flank. He used the Hellheart, which caused a small blast S10 on the Vampire with the Graveguard, killing A LOT. I'd moved the Mortis Engine and Corpse Cart up to ensure buffs for the fighting units as well. The Hexwraiths danced around the flank of the Bulls chasing them, staying out of charge angle. My magic phase was very limited, I believe all I got was one Invocation and the Staff of Damnation off, but this was enough for ASF on the Ghouls, Graveguard, and Zombies from the Corpse Cart. The Grave Guard did good work, really mauling the Ironguts, I believe there were only 2 left alive, plus characters. I took some losses but won combat by a bit, he needed a 4 to hold...and made it. Boo! The Ghouls and BSB fighting the Mournfang did only a handful of wounds, and lost combat again, losing a few more Ghouls. The Zombies did a wound but of course lost many...but did their job and held up the elite Maneaters for a turn!

Graveguard Attack!

The Hexwraiths juke about, keeping the Bulls occupied!

On his turn the Kittycats charged flank and rear of the Ghouls fighting the Mournfang. He had a solid magic phase, getting off +1 Toughness and Regen...ouch! This was the deathknell for me, sadly. The Ghouls went crazy, killed off both the Sabres in the rear, and put a wound on the one in the flank. The Wraith and BSB did a few wounds to Mournfang. The Mournfang lost combat, failed their Break, and were caught and killed. Yeah!

But...the Graveguard did not have such a good time. They struggled to get throught he higher T and Regen of the Ironguts, and lost combat by a lot, leaving only about ten alive. The Zombies similarly were crushed by the Maneaters.

Now I did silly stuff...we were running out of time, and I wanted to see how things would go, so I charged the Corpse Cart and the Mortis Engine in to the Maneaters. The Ghouls and Wraith got together in one unit and moved to hit the remnants of the Ironguts Deathstar in the flank in a hypothetical next turn. I had good winds roll, and I needed it too! But Tim let all my buffs pass...Staff of Damnation, rerolls to hit on the Grave Guard; Hellish Vigor on everything in 12" from Necro (so the Cart, Engine, and Grave Guard). Now here I got even sillier, I resolved the Maneater combat first. I did only a couple wounds with all their attacks (S3 to T5 with Regen...not much potential there), the Mortis Engine was crushed, and blew up. The Corpse Cart was lost to crumble. I rolled really moderately for the damage on every unit...except the Grave Guard, where I rolled a box-cars for the number of hits, and left the unit with just the Champ and Banner! If I'd done the Graveguard first, things might have been different, but as it was I only had a handful of attacks, which did manage to finish off the Ironguts unit, but I couldn't scratch the characters. The Hexwraiths also charged at the rear of the Ironblaster, which fled and failed to rally.

All the Grave Guard dead and buried!

We had to stop the game here and add up points. It came out to be a really solid win for the Ogres...I think he had about 1400, and I had about 900. I think a smarter thing to do on that last turn...instead of charging the Maneaters, I could move the Mortis Engine or Corpse Cart to take the charge, and leave him with no overrun options and keep them off me for another turn. If the Mortis Engine hadn't blown up the Grave Guard, they MIGHT have had a chance to kill one of the characters (I'd probably had hit the Firebelly, as I think he's the easiest of the lot to bring down) and I'd had a chance for that unit to survive.

If we'd gone on to the full game length, I don't think I had much to stop the Maneaters with. If I got super lucky magic, I might have been able to summon a zombie unit to speedbump with, but that'd take a lot of luck. More realistically I would have first fed it the Corpse Cart, then the last Zombie unit, while saving the Mortis Engine and Necro. The Ghouls and Wraith would have had opportunity to hit the 'character unit', and had a decent chance to finish off one or two of those big guys...though that Slaughtermaster is near impossible to kill!

So I've relearned lessons I've learned several times now...Mortis Engine shouldn't charge ridiculous things, that's not it's forte! The Hexwraiths did exactly what I wanted, chasing off the shooty things and keeping a chunk of his army tied up chasing them. The Grave Guard are really really solid. If not for the Mortis Engine fail, self-induced as it was, they stood a decent chance at survival and killing off a lot of points.

After two games like this, and considering the vulnerability to Sniper fire and Spells...not to mention the occasional need to leave a unit...I think I'm going to consider dropping the Rod of Flaming Death off the Necro and scrape up 5 points to get him a 4+ Ward. The round of Crumble isn't horrible, but losing the magic ability is debilitating.

I'm also on the fence about the Periapt. There's good things about it...sometimes the enemy just doesn't have any spells to cast that I care about...particularly early in the I can let shit go and save dice. Sometimes they miscast and don't get to use all their dice, so I and save dice. Sometimes they don't have any wizards at all...Dwarfs! When I get those 2 extra dice, it sure is nice!

On the other hand, I often don't get to save two dice. There are some enemy magic phases where I have to use all my dispel dice to stop their spells. If I don't get to use it, it's wasted points. I have a hard time including something in the army that won't be 100% effective every game.

So, I'm considering dropping it too. If I do, I can move the Staff to the Necro, and pimp out the second vampire for fighting and more survivability. Hell, maybe even a Dispel Scroll!

I'm going to keep using it for now, but I'm definitely eyeing dropping it.

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