Saturday, 4 August 2012

Warhammer Campaign - retrospective

Over the last couple of months I've managed to fit a series of games in a light hearted Warhammer campaign.    This series has come to a close, but I'd like to reflect on what I've learnt and what this might mean next for my Warhammer interests.

I've been using (as you may figure from various previous posts on this blog) my Vampire Counts for this campaign and had some fun and mixed success with it.  The rules for the campaign was that we had to take a special characters of approx 500 points, plus 2000 points of regular army.  I toyed between Vlad and Mannfred and in the end went for the spell caster supreme over the melee master - I'll comment on how well this went in each game!  The special character was fixed throughout the series of games, potentially gaining bonuses or penalties depending on how well they performed.  The rest of the army would be changed as you wished from game to game, but if you stuck with a list, you could again potentially gain some bonuses - but also suffer casualties as hang overs from previous fights.

Game 1 vs. Tomb Kings

Ok so it wasn't quite as bad as this picture looks, but it felt like it!  I have to hold my hand up here and say that I've not played with more than 1500 points for a very long time, nor special characters so I was headed into this campaign with no real idea what to expect.  A few weeks prior to this game, I had played Pharoh Rob, resident Tomb Prince at 1500 points and done quite well so I foolishly felt confident and comfortable with what the dry cousins to my army could do.  How wrong was I.?

Turns out very.  Rob elected to take Settra as his general which with some clever positioning meant that all but one of his units was either using the massive WS7 Settra has, or WS5 from the Tomb Princes scattered about.  For a largely WS2 army this was a bit of a problem!  In addition, despite some really favourable charges, Settra and his chariots refused to die (even with multiple killing blows landing) and Mannfred's magic and melee efforts were somewhat lacking.  In the end between Settra and a Sphinx I failed to contain it all looked very grim by the end of the game.

Poor things never stood a chance
What did I learn?  2500 is very different to 1500.  My magic was more opposed/contained than I expected - my low level mages not really getting chance to cast in the face of a level 3 mage on the other side.  Also my many small units approach suffers without the magic tricks I'm used to pulling so I need to think about hordes more.  A reshuffle for match 2 then I think...

Game 2 vs. Bretonnians

Nice axe?

Before this game, I decide to lose some smaller units, make a horde out of my ghouls and skeleton spearmen and give my lesser Vampire a nice choppy axe.  Feeling these minor improvements were enough, onwards.
Another army I've not played in an age is Bretonnians.  Poor Dan suffered a barrage of questions before the game started as to what on earth his various knights did these days and how lance formation worked.  With this roughly worked out in my head I set up with various shenanigans planned for my spirit swarms, bats and so on to mess with the Knights movement.  Dan had 3 large Knight formations, a small questing knight line and King Louen - surely I could contain this!  Alas turn one Mannfred disappeared into a vortex of chaos having cast but a single spell (I can't even remember which).  Punching a huge hole in my plans to bolster my own forces and hinder the foe, I attempted to make the best of things and get ready for the inevitable charges.  Sadly my lesser Vampire failed to take control of my horde and very quickly my force was falling to bits.  My small units evaporated in the blink of an eye (have you ever looked at their leadership?  Its really, really bad) and even the Varghulf wasn't long for the world.  Long and painful combats developed across the board but fairly quickly I was losing far more undead than I could possibly replace with a lowly Vampire and necromancer.  In the end I lost my entire force, to around half the Knights (plus memorably the Hippogriff).  

What did I learn?  Quite honestly I'm not sure I could have done much more with losing my general like that.  Mannfred is key to my army's performance, with the campaign's focus on the special characters and the extra burden a Vampire general must carry so without him from such an early point it was only a matter of time.  Overall I was quite happy with how I did things given what I had, but it was like trying to hold grains of sand.

Game 3 vs. Empire

Feeling luck was against me last game, not my choices I stuck with exactly the same army list and moved on to a new foe.
I'll take em all on
Howard is fairly new to Warhammer and suffering a terrible losing streak at the moment.  With this being my first game against him I wasn't sure whether this meant if I lost I should hang my dice up for good or it was some sort of initiation ceremony.  I've played Empire a LOT over the last, ooo, 14 years but haven't faced the new book before.  Howard had opted largely for a gun line so I new it would be a magic vs shooting game.  Some early over committed cavalry from Howard saw some quick losses for him.  I tempted fate with my dire wolves to see what a hellblaster was like (and if I could fluke a misfire from it).  Turns out hellblasters got good again - I avoided it from then on.  Howard attempted to blast my ghouls from the table with pretty much every gun he could bring to bear and I countered with summoning spells at every turn.  In the end I destroyed his army utterly with only very minor losses (thanks for a blinding game from Mannfred this time).  

What did I learn?  When things go well with magic, my army hits like a landslide.  To be fair there wasn't a lot of elite melee troops in this army, the few knights I faced were hit by the sort of combined charge you only see as an example in a rule to explain how different unit types work...

Game 4 vs. Chaos Daemons

After the success against Empire, I stuck once again to the winning list and marched into a Storm of Chaos battle vs. Will.  My extra 500 points went towards a pair of dragons, a little one and its slightly larger cousin.
Rainbow warriors
So Daemon are, wait for it, an army I haven't faced in an age.  In fact I have never played them as their own army list, only as part of the oh-so-ancient Chaos army (which included beastmen, warriors of chaos and daemons in one huge, all powerful melting pot).  As you might expect, Will was faced with a deluge of questions as to what on earth was on the table, let alone what it did.  On top of this, although I had read the rules this was my first Storm of Magic game so I really didn't know what was going to happen.

Will had a Slannesh/Tzeentch army which with cataclysm spells topped out at 32 different cards - plus the Blue Scribes tricks to boot!  I managed a mere 23 (Mannfred bringing the lion's share) and wondered if we'd ever get our of the magic phase.

As it turned out, my Vampire counts were more than a match for the Daemons in close combat and the multiple monstrous threats I had at my disposal more than outclassed the magic advantage Will hoped to use.  The dragons burned, trampled and ate many a demon.  My ghouls obliterated flamers and horrors.  Even humble skeletons outfought demonettes (with some support from my new favourite thing in the game, Vargheists).  A convincing victory for me, especially once a dragon ate the Blue Scribes and Will couldn't regain a fulcrum or find a way to knock Mannfred or his apprentice necromancer of their own.

What did I learn?  Even in Storm of Magic you can have too many spells.  The monster/pact/magic item bonus points were key for me and next to useless for Will (he took some Vampires and Ghouls) so spending them wisely is important.  The fulcrums are at the end of the game, the only thing that matters, so big undead blocking units are great for this.

In summary.

An epic post there!  I'm learning a lot about Warhammer 8th at the moment, especially at the higher points values.  I'm looking forward to more games, but still a bit stuck as to how to beat the Tomb Kings with my current choices - I may have to look into mixing up my characters and considering the other new book additions.  I am keen to avoid too much power gaming so don't want to build death star units which means clever play and favourable match ups.  I just need to work out what they might be!

My final list was something like:

Mannfred Von Carstein
Vampire Count with Enchanted Shield and Ogre Blade
Necromancer (Level 2) with Master of the Dead

40 Skeletons with spears
20 Skeletons with spears
40 Ghouls
27 Grave Guard
20 Zombies
3 Vargheists
1 Varghulf
5 Dire Wolves
2 Fellbats
1 Spirit Swarm

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