Khazbar smiled inwardly. As his influence had started to grow again and with it his powerbase, who should come slinking back into the fold but his old rival, Bashor. With his grip over the herds, he could have made an example of the Beastlord but Bashor was powerful and more importantly, he had the measure of the brawler and it would be better to have the devil he knew than some unpredictable upstart potentially challenge his position as the voice of the dark gods.
Greg is one of my DnD group (and also a word press aficionado and his write up of the game can be found here). It had been a while since I’d last played Greg at fantasy and at that point he had been using Dark Elves, so when he proposed a game I jumped at the chance. He’d also been playing 1500 point games recently but I convinced him to bump it to 1800 as that is what tended to be played at Riotville and so any practice at that level is always welcome.
As ever, I gave my opponent the choice of what they wanted to face (a combination of saving me the back and forth decision of what army to choose and it sometimes gives them a chance to face something they hadn’t done before.) In this case Greg had never faced Beastmen, so that’s what I bought.
The list I went with was fairly tried and tested with a Beastlord embedded in the Bestigor to maximise the leadership bubble (and thus the chance of re-rolling failed melee hits with their Primal Fury role). The Battle Standard and Shaman would go in the large block of Gor.
Normally I then would have loaded the list with chaff to block any units I didn’t want to face but with the reduction in points and it being a friendly, I opted instead to bring a unit of Centigor. I’d never gotten around to fielding them before (mainly as they are a prime example of a unit, in the army book, that is over costed for what they bring). Still I was eager to give them a try and worst came to the worst, I could use them and the chariots as sudo chaff.
Greg was still in the process of learning his new army and was trying out a number of faster elements, which he hadn’t used before as after playing Dark Elves, he had struggled in previous games with the shambling undead and their lack of speed.
We made the decision to play closed lists, as in no magic items were revealed until used.
Bashor the Bloody (General) – Beastlord, Steel Claws, Ramhorn Helm, Dawnstone, Gnarled Hide, Uncanny Senses – 251pts
Zurrock the Mighty (BSB) – Wargor, Beast Banner – 191pts
Khazbar the Magnificent – Great Bray Shaman, Level 4 Beasts, Jagger Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Ruby Ring of Ruin – 319pts
39 Gor, FC, AHW – 337pts
Tuskgor Chariot – 80pts
Tuskgor Chariot – 80pts
5 Centigor, Champion, musician, spears, shields – 146pts
29 Bestigor – FC, Standard of Discipline – 393pts
Vampire Lord – level 4 Lore of Vampires, Biting Blade, Nightshroud, Talisman of Preservation – 420
Necromancer – level 2 – 100pts
5 Dire Wolves – 40pts
5 Dire Wolves – 40pts
39 Skeleton Warriors – FC, Standard of Discipline – 240pts
40 Zombies, Musician, Standard – 130pts
6 Crypt Horrors – 228pts
3 Vargheists – 138pts
3 Vargheists – 138pts
5 Hexwraiths – 150pts
1 Vargulf – 175pts
Scenario – To keep things simple we chose to just play Battleline (a straight forward fight).
The Centigors rolled ‘Stubborn’ on their ‘Drunken Bravado’ result, so they would always test any breaks on their unmodified leadership
Khazbar – Wyssans (swopped from flock of doom), Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt, The Amber Spear & Savage Beast of Horros.
Vampire Lord –Invocation, Vanhels, Raise Dead, Curse of Years
Necromancer – Invocation, Gaze of Nagash
As normal we just grabbed some bits from the club boxes and put it down on the table.
With terrain being a big factor in the centre of the table, the Gor had to be placed in the only spot that would allow them to move through it. This pretty much dictated where the Bestigor would go, as they had to go next to them to ensure both units had General and BSB coverage.
Greg chose to set up opposite with his fast elements on each flank.
T1 – Beasts
Khazbar ordered his unit to move forward slowly, the nearby chariot matching it’s pace. The advance may have looked cagey but it allowed him to keep sight of the Hexwraiths. In quick succession he let off a fireball (dispelled) and an Amber Spear at the unit, vaporising one of the ethereals.
He then cast Wyssans on the Bestigor that had marched up in order to set themselves in a prime position between the 2 towers.
The other Chariot and Centigor advance up the right flank to threaten the unit of Direwolves that had vanguarded on that flank.
T1 – VC
The VC responded to counter the movement. The main blocks moved up cautiously, whilst the central Dire wolves moved back a bit. The Hexwraiths, concerned about magic missiles, moved behind the house and close to the necromancer, allowing them to be healed back up to full strength after he cast invocation.
The other unit of Direwolves charged the chariot, which promptly fled but failed to redirect into the Centigor, leaving them in a prime position to be counter charged in the next turn.
The 2 units of Vargheists and Vargulf repositioned with one unit of the flyers sweeping round to threaten the Beasts right flank.
T2 – Beasts
Not wasting anytime, Khazbar ordered the horde of Gor to ‘get in their faces’ and it moved up inviting the charge. (This had absolutely nothing to do with getting him line of sight of the Hexwraiths, to unleash more magic at them, because I was worried about that unit, honest… In any event, both fireball and the Amber Spear were very effectively dispelled by Greg, though it did allow me to cast Savage Beast on the shaman to boost his output in case Greg decided to take the bait).
Bashor and his Bestigor couldn’t resist the easy charge into the wolves and tore them apart, overrunning into the Vargheists behind (I could have chosen to reform to threaten the Crypt Horrors but I was worried about his flyers and their damage potential and wanted to try and tie them down. I’d repositioned the chariot to cover the Bestigor’s rear in case the overrun hadn’t worked.)
The Centigor also performed a carbon copy manoeuvre, decimating the other unit of wolves and overrunning far enough to get out of the charge arc of the flanking vargheists.
These two successes were slightly dampened by the fleeing chariot continuing to run straight off the board!
T2 – VC
Not sure what to make of the threat in front of him, the Vampire ordered the skeleton warriors to fall back, and willed the zombies to block the unit. The Hexwraiths then moved through the horde and the Necromancer cast a gaze of Nagash into the unit, between them felling a few of the beasts. Looking at the Necromancer in scorn, the Vampire raised his hand cursing the unit. As a chunk of the Gor withered and turned to dust, the magical feedback drained his ability to cast anything else.
The Crypt Horrors slammed into the flank of the Bestigor. The Vargulf tore into the front of them, joining the Vargheists. Combat was short and brutal with 10 Bestigor falling to the attacker’s claws but in turn, the Vargheists were cut down. The unit’s musician blew repeatedly on his horn and they could see the magic binding their foe weaken with each peal. (As noted at the end of the report in more detail, the musician won this combat, however, Greg forgot the thunderstomp from the vargulf and the stomps from the Horrors. Between them, it almost certainly would have won the combat as if he rolled well it could have been up to another 9 wounds, though with steadfast on LD10, it was unlikely the Bestigor would have gone anywhere).
The other unit of Vargheists moved over to threaten the rear of the Bestigor.
T3 – Beasts
Unable to get to the enemy general, the Gor charged the only thing available to them, the Zombies. With the worry of the Curse on the unit, Khazbar first removed that threat. With Zombies not causing him any worry, he chose to bolster the Bestigor with a Wyssans (which I then promptly forgot about). The resulting detonation from the miscast took out everything in base contact with him (2 zombies and 3 Gor). The Gor then savaged the newly risen, Khazbar himself slaying a couple and his dagger siphoning their life force. When the dust had settled, 9 of the original 40 were left standing. In return they had slain just 3 Gor.
On the other flank, the Centigor charged into the Vargulf to assist the beleaguered elite beastmen. Bashor turned and swiftly gutted one Crypt Horror and fatally wounded another. The monstrous horrors only managed to slay 2 of their foes before another of their number was bought low by the great axes. The Vargulf also struggled, only killing one of the centaurs. Having taken a beating, another of the Horros crumbled, as did the Vargulf, allowing the Bestigor to reform to bring their full might against the remaining 3.
T3 – VC
With things looking grim, the VC looked to turn the battle back in their favour. The Vargheists charged into the remaining Centigor and continuing the trend on that flank, whiffed their attacks, killing all but one of the beastmen cavalry. The champion of course passed his break test ensuring the frenzied mutated vampires remaining locked in combat (stubborn isn’t the best of the abilities they can roll but it worked in my favour here!).
Bashor slew another of the Horrors before they could attack, mitigating the return damage. The rest of his unit, soon put the remaining horror out of his misery, its dying throes taking out just one of the noble beasts. This left the Bestigor in a prime position to charge the Vampires bunker.
The Hexwraiths, rear charged the last chariot. This was too much for the crew who fled. The wraiths swiftly ran it down but in doing so hit the back of the Gor unit. The Vampire, sensing his chance, cast an invocation, looking to replenish the Zombies. However the weak winds and the dogged determination of Khazbar blocked his attempt (a pitiful 3 vs 3 dice were available).
The Gor made short work of the remaining Zombies, wiping the unit. The Hexwraights were caught in the aftermath and faded back to the nether. Khazbar was also able to further siphon the zombies life force, his magical power growing with each death.
This destruction of the Zombies left the Vampire in an exceedingly precarious position.
T4 – Beasts
Both of the remaining units crashed into the skeleton warriors. Khazbar boosted the Gor with a Wssans and although the vampire dispelled the bubbled Pann’s pelt, he drew from the stored power gained from killing the zombies to cast a bubbled Savage Beast, giving all the characters +3 attacks and strength. This allowed the combined might of the heroes and units to decimate the Skeletons and the Vampire’s face bore a look of horror as he dissipated into dust.
As a final consolation, the Vargheists killed the remaining centigor.
Major victory for the Beastmen
Beastmen – 1662 (kills) + 100 (general) + 50 (2 standards) = 1812 points
VC = 306 points (kills)
Post match thoughts
The result showed an overwhelming victory for the Beastmen but it wasn’t as one sided as it might have appeared. When we chatted about the game the next day, there were a number of factors that could have made a significant difference.
Fear/Terror checks. I didn’t take one all game. Now granted that for most of it, my units were within the LD10 bubble but that isn’t always a guarantee of passing it and there were times when I had units outside of it, especially in early turns with the Centigor. (Terror didn’t come into play, during the game, as the Bestigor were already in combat when the Vargulf charged them). Fear isn’t what it was in previous editions and most of my units were getting rerolls to their hits from the primal fury but if any of my units had failed and had their WS reduced to 1, it would have impacted the ability to hit.
Probably the most crucial thing that was missed, was the Vargulf’s thunderstomp and the Crypt Horror and Vargheist’s stomp attacks. If they had been remembered, then the initial combat would have gone Greg’s way (3 Str 4 stomps and D6 Str5 thunderstomps, automatically hitting almost guaranteed it). Even in the second round of combat it would have, if not made the VC win that combat, at least reduced the crumble, which could have meant the Vargulf living, which would have held up that combat for another turn (preventing the Bestigor reforming to face the Crypt Horrors). The other unit of Vargheists then would have likely have charged the rear of the Bestigor unit and that would have been rather unpleasant!
It’s worth noting that the Centigor count as cavalry so these additional stomp attacks wouldn’t work against them.
Probably the turning point of the game was the Vampire T3 magic phase. Greg needed a strong phase as he HAD to resurrect both the Crypt Horrors and especially the Zombies. With just 3 dice each and with me able to dispel his single spell, it put paid to that plan and really his chance of winning. It makes me think that with VC being so reliant on the magic phase, it becomes crucial to take things that help to boost/support it. I can really see the benefit of things like a power stone (add 2 free dice to one cast). Though one use only, it’s cheap at 20pts.
Even master of the black arts (ability to reroll one of the winds of magic dice each turn) appears tempting, though at 75 points it’s probably too over costed for the use you’ll get on average and as you can only take this on a Vampire lord, you are also detracting from his killing power. Again the black periapt (can carry over 2 unused power/dispel dice to the next magic phase) is tempting but at 55pts, it’s also quite pricey and I think it might suffer from a similar issue as the Master of the Black Arts, in so far as in some games it will be fantastic but others it’s not needed. Its advantage is you can put it on a necromancer (though it comes from the arcane slot so vies with the ever popular dispel scroll).
In some respects, Beastmen are similar, as they also rely on magic and you have 2 ways of boosting their phases. Either the route I took with the jagged dagger (which allows my shaman to store power dice for each combat kill he makes) or using the ever popular herdstone, which automatically grants one power/dispel dice each phase, for each shaman within 6” (or combining both to give a fearsome magic phase).
It’s also worth noting that although I didn’t bring any chaff, the rest of my list was fairly optimised (in so far as it had the Beastlord in Bestigor and Gor with Beastbanner combo) and I am very familiar with how to use it, whereas Greg is still learning his army and was using elements for the first time (not to mention it was the first time he’s faced Beastmen so was unaware of their strengths). This fed into several less optimal decisions (in my eyes). An example is his use of zombies to chaff up my Gor. He didn’t really have much choice in the matter but I think the weight of attacks took him by surprise.
Chasing down the chariot with the Hexwraiths, may have been a mistake. Yes it killed the chariot (which likely would have rallied the following turn due to the general’s leadership) but the overrun put them in the rear of the Gor unit where they crumbled in short order. They are a cool unit but one that I’ve found are quite hit or miss and quite matchup dependant.
I also think Greg should have dispelled Wyssan’s more (he pretty much let it go through each turn as I think he was worried about the magic missiles in earlier turns with the systematic targeting of the Hexwraiths with those). That spell massively helps boost my troops (defence and attack) and would probably be my priority to stop if facing Beasts, followed closely by Savage Beast (that boosts the characters or Curse of Anraheir – if I’d rolled that). Again this is easy to say as I know the army but Greg hadn’t faced them before.
I was also very lucky with my dice rolls, only failing one primal fury roll (with the centigor when they charged the dogs – though the list was built to maximise the chance of passing it). Conversely, Greg’s rolling was terrible all game. I’m not sure he passed a single regen with the Crypt Horrors! In the same vein, the Vargheists should have wiped the centigors in one turn. His ability to hit and wound with his combat units was appalling! There were just so many whiffed attacks!
In terms of my list. The units did what they were meant to and weren’t too different to normal.
I was very happy with the Beastlord loadout, recommended by the Triple Crown guys. Again, it wasn’t much different from previous builds I’d taken but I’d never used the steel claws. It helped that again I rolled really well for his extra attacks, in the main getting the maximum +3 from the claws. This allowed him to tear through his foes, generating quite a bit of bonus combat res (so important vs VC).
His speed also really synergises well with the Bestigor (who, due to the great weapons, always strike last). This meant I was able to remove whole Crypt Horrors, before they could strike back.
Not having a load of chaff, didn’t make too much difference in this game as the main elements I would have wanted to block were either ethereal or could fly and so would have bypassed any attempt to block them anyway!
I enjoyed fielding the Centigor as something different. They didn’t do a huge amount but didn’t have an opportunity to either. Although they are WS, Str and Toughness 4, with 2 attacks each, they do have a terrible initiative and with just a 4+ save, just 1 wound and at 25pts each, they aren’t difficult to kill, so I can see why they are not an optimal choice!
All in all, a fun game and I’m looking forward to bringing something else against Greg and seeing him find the VC build that works for him.