Monday, 6 February 2012

Tales from the Battlefield

After my last game or Warhammer and the resulting collection of school boy errors, stupid tactical moves and sheer crap luck I started thinking back over the years to some of the other things I (and my opponent) have done and I just felt the urge to share them. I will describe them in reverse order of importance/ridiculousness and what if any lessons were learned from them.

Suicide Warlord and The Heart of Woe
40K The Genestealer Marathon
4000 Points on a 4 x 4 table
Cataclysmic Screaming Bell Meltdown
Tyrion's Get Out of Jail Free Card
Verminlord the Happy Woodcutter

Suicide Warlord and the Heart of Woe
I was in Games Workshop Thurrock and the Skaven army list had just come out during Warhammer's Second incarnation Circa 1993. I was using my beloved Skaven and I was playing undead. My thoughts on undead were: kill the general, they all die. This was mostly true, if the general of the army did die then most units crumble to dust. So I devised a fairly cunning plan, get my warlord into combat with his general chop him up, but to be on the safe side give him the heart of woe (basically a suicide bomber) and if the general kills my warlord the resulting explosion will take out the aforementioned Vampire/Liche/Necromancer. My opponent, Lord Farquad (name changed) unfortunately was also aware of this weakness in the undead army and was prepared for it. I Skitterleaped my Warlord general into close combat with Nagash (stupid) and unfortunately back then both sides could cast spells in the same magic phase, equally unfortunately Nagash proceeded to chop my warlord to bits with his big bloody sword killing him with the aid of Vanhel's Dance Macabre! Even more unfortunate was the fact that Nagash made his ward save with the Golden Helm of Atrazar, and half my army legged it with the death of the general. The resulting battle was a terrible massacre where the forces of Undeath laid some serious bitchslap to my furry hordes.
Two lessons were learned there
1) A suicide bomber only works if it is a low value stooge and 2) Against undead skaven need the highest possible leadership!

40K The Genestealer Marathon
Another game from the dawn of time was a game of 40K (Rogue Trader rules) that I played in Games Workshop Maidstone. I was using a Tyranid army against Space Marines (I'm sure this game helped contribute to my eternal hatred of Space Marines). My opponent kept hassling me about what army I was going to use and as the shop had a decent Tyranid force (and I was working there) I decided I'd use them. This unfortunately had a rather spooking effect on General Grevious (name changed) who scuttled off to create an uber anti creepy crawly army list. On the day of the battle General Grevious begged me to play on a 8' x 4' table lengthways (!!!!!). Partly because of my view that a happy customer spends more dosh and of my hugely inflated opinion of my own generalship like a fool I agreed. The resulting turkey shoot was a joy to behold (for him) and a series of unmittigated disasters (for me). Trudging up 6 feet of table with not enough cover and missiles raining down of my brave critters was a humbling experience! One particular moment of ecstasy came when two full tactical squads of Marines threw Haywire grenades in front of them halving charge moves just as I was going to start ripping up the fleshbags! Needless to say this was as one-sided a game as is possible and it was all my own fault! Had we played the proper way I at least would have put up a fight! If Hive Fleet Behemoth had behaved like this then the Tyranid threat would've been over before it could even get started. On a positive note I played a game against Eldar using virtually the same army but the way nature intended and got a resounding win.
Lesson learned: Under NO circumstances will I ever play a game along the length of the table. EVER!

 4000 Points on a 4 x 4 table
Another game of Warhammer, this time it was almost the opposite of the last one. I had a 4000 point game on a 4' by 4' table. This was my valient Skaven against sly, sneaky and altogether tricksy Dwarfs! They don't fight fair at all! The main problem with this battle was the table size (again) but the opposite from the above nightmare, this time the table was too small and my army too big! Back in the old days the Dwarf army had this nasty little thing called the Rune of Being a Sneaky Fecker (or Hiding). This was put on a gyrocopter and in turn 2 it appeared and started parboiling units of Clanrats. With two Runes of Broiling (or something) the strength of the steam cannon was up to 5 so basically every shot defurred 12+ rats causing mucho panic. Plus the fact that Flame cannons started opening up on turn two gleefully barbecuing Plague monks and Stormvermin at will my terribly brave army decided that RUN AWAY! was the order given, so they did in droves. The game was another very one sided battle compounded by the Dwarf player's unwillingness to let me cast unpleasant spells on him. Using my now legendary hindsight the battle was lost as I had big blocks of infantry that simply couldn't help but get in each others way, coupled with loads of template weapons and some pretty accurate Dwarf crossbowing my ranks were well and truly thinned before I could lay some smackdown on his beardthings. 4000 points pretty much meant that my entire deployment zone was full and the only thing to halt the cannonballs, flames, superheated steam and crossbow bolts were my poor little verminous bodies.
Lesson learned: There is a finite limit to the number of figures that can safely huddle in a deployment zone and over 100 points an inch is stupidity!

 Cataclysmic Screaming Bell Meltdown
This episode was, once again featuring my ever present Skaven, and it was against a good friend and long time opponent Matt. He was playing his Empire army (I reckon we must have played 25+ games of Skaven vs Empire) and it was its usual bloody hackfest. we were at the latter stages of the game and my main Clanrat unit with the Screaming Bell was in the centre of the table with a large unit of Skavenslaves and Stormvermin flanking them. There were Matt's prized Knights Panther unit and various smaller units of Empire footsloggers lurking around. I rang the screaming Bell and it exploded causing a ST3 hit with no armour save to everything within 3d6 inches. 73 casulties were caused which decimated the Knights and quite a lot of Skaven too. I can't say this was a particularly bad occurance as to my mind the 8-9 Knights were, in the eyes of Skaven High command, worth the 50ish skaven casualties to get them! The game was still won so alls well that ends well, I suppose.
Lesson learned : Exploding Screaming Bells are fun and in no way should restraint be exercised whilst using them!

 Tyrion's Get Out of Jail Free Card
Another game with Matt, Skaven Vs Empire with some high elf allies, namely Tyrion in a bloody big unit of Dragon Princes. The scene; First turn, I ring the Screaming Bell (this is definately my favourite Skaven toy) and the result was all cavalry models make a panic test, and with Tyrion's Ld of 10 it didn't seem like a big problem. WRONG! Tyrion did me the singular honour of failing his panic test and flee to within 2" of the table edge (woop! woop!)! On to the magic phase and I got the then eqivalent of Irristable Force, Total Power ! The spell Skitterleap was duely cast but in a moment of total brainfart I put a Skaven Assasin in combat with a wizard rather than Tyrion's 800+ point unit and thusly destroying them. The most irksome aspect of this mistake was that Tyrion rallied and helped Matt to get his first ever victory against me and then lose my 14 game winning streak. If I had wiped out the High Elf unit the my victory points would've shat all over Matts.
Lesson learned: Even if you have to write it down to remember, if you can wipe out nearly a grands worth of points for a little spell do it, before you think of a 'better' target!


Verminlord the Happy Woodcutter
This was not so much tactical ineptitude (of which I seem to have plenty) more a serious case of diceclap. This was one of last games of good old 3rd Edition warhammer and once again I was battling with Matt. My Skaven Vs my Wood Elves, I was Skaven and Matt was the opposite of Skaven. The game was going as usual with casualties leaving the table at regular intervals, both sides taking and giving death, it was all going swimmingly. Then we came to a not insignificant close combat between and Verminlord (hard as fupp!) and a Treeman (not so much). Two rounds of combat saw the rather unpleasant demise of the Treeman, and his (or her) collapse. Back then there was an interesting rule that when a Treeman dies in CC then he can topple over and possibly crush anyone dopey enough to not step out of the way and generally much hilarity ensues. Yes, the Treeman dutifully fell in the exact direction that the Verminlord was standing - presumably rubbing his chin thoughtfully selecting his next diabolic plan - so a simple I test will let him nimbly dodge out of the way then cackle maniacally saying something really evil and cool like "Bazinga!". But no, the I test was failed and I had to witness my 600 point deathmachine get flattened by a 280 point tree, he himself chopped down. The icing on this particular cake was after checking the rulebook it turned out the VL was killed, not wounded I might add! The mental image of this scene still makes me (and moreso Matt) chuckle whenever we reminisce about old games. This was the point I should have conceeded the game as the Dice Gods were very obviously mocking me, but I stubbornly played on to earn a closely fought defeat (the width of a Verminlord I think).
Lesson learned: In some games, defeat is inevitable, even with a superior army, tactics and manouvering, the game is lost by those bloody six-sided buggers that I spend so much time rolling, rolling, rolling!

Well there are a few of the incidents that make this hobby so entertaining, frustrating and ROFLing, I hope you found them interesting if not tactically insightful. So here's to my next series of tactical debacles coming to a gaming table soon!

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