That’s right, this week in our Mighty Empires Campaign it had been decreed by the store owner that everyone who showed up would take part in the Battle Royale Mission as per page 406 of the big red rulebook. I read the rules and knew right away I wasn’t winning. Even with some changes and additions to my army there are a lot better armies in our campaign and I always seem to get ganged up on whenever games like this are played.
When we showed we were divided into two groups, those at the top of the campaign standings and those like me at the bottom. You’d think this would increase my odds, but some new players had joined including an Ogre army that was really nice and really intimidating sitting on the table top. I took a bunch of photos of the armies being unboxed to show the folks in Austin and Ron from From the Warp what painted armies look like. Apparently in places other than Vancouver, people can’t be bothered to paint their armies. In our campaign at the store I go to, if it ain’t painted you can’t use it. Not just primer either, painted, multiple colours and based or you play down points or not at all in the store. I’m sure people field partially painted models now and then, not me of course, and if you look at the armies and the photos from our game, you won’t see much that is undone.
I volunteered to lead our table and keep the five player, unusual mission game, moving. I was better at that than I was at actually played the game. Our game went way smoother than the top players who had tonnes of Level 4 wizards and the more blood thirsty lists. I also think several of them spent gold to go over points in order to try and win. This week there was to be only two winners, though I think some other folks might have got an extra campaign point or two…
We rolled to see who went in the middle after setting up the terrain and objectives. I rolled one, but Ben also rolled one, so we rolled off, and I rolled one again. I deployed first in the centre of the table where everyone could see me and potentially charge me early and often. I set up so I could quickly secure three objectives. This seemed like a sound strategy and in 40K it probably is. But none of my Nurgle Daemons have any shooting attacks so standing around isn’t usually in their best interest, especially when magic spells are getting hurled at you.
Ben should have had to deploy second, but he had the Scouts campaign event which complicated things a bit. The ogres set up next and it turned out my entire army had their backs to the entire ogre army. I knew eventually the Plaguebearers would be charged in the rear, the question was when? Taking a huge unit of ogres up the ass was going to hurt…
Pavol, the Undead player, got to deploy last which has its own disadvantages but he rarely got charged as a result of always going last. The lizardman player wasn’t the best Warhammer Fantasy Battle Player and he was too conservative and indecisive he never wanted to cross the potentially mystical river and that hurt him. He hurled spells and did other annoying stuff but in general most of the game took place on the other flanks and it was the big battle surrounding the Plaguebearers that would determine the winner.
Warhammer Fantasy Battle is funny, I can tell you exactly where the pivotal battle will take place as soon as people start deploying their armies. I’m not even good at the game, so either I have some innate tactical ability or it is fairly obvious that the empty spot between certain units is where they will meet and the game will be decided. In this case it was between the Plaguebearers and the Beastmen. And due to the fact the ogre guy played it very conservative early on, the Plaguebearers and Beastmen beat each other up and the Ogres ran in and just pounded on the Plaguebearers from behind. The ogres would have won the game until the Undead player got involved and even the Lizardmen player started casting minor annoying spells his way.
It wasn’t everyone versus the ogres, it was everyone versus me as I was in the middle. After five turns there was only two combats I didn’t take part in and they were both in the far corner of the table between units that never really did anything in terms of capturing objectives or killing generals, ie what the mission was all about.
I kept the game moving and light hearted. I’m the one that was destined to get the shit kicked out of me and my legendary bad luck reared it’s head but I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t make your general a spell caster, especially if your general is a 300 plus point daemon prince. The one spell you get isn’t worth the potential miscast result. Making your BSB a spell caster is also unwise, but I believe Lizardmen players frequently do both, but they have 40 Saurus bodyguards for their Slann and Slann are not helpless they are tough old buggers.
So yeah I move, take some objectives. Magic and shooting are minor, but the undead player has some spell that does damage to every enemy unit on the board which is bad for us all, and it usually fell to me to stop him from casting it, using my Spellbreaker ability or all my dispel dice. I was a good team player even though people kept attacking me.
I decided to get more aggressive and with the ogres looming marched away from them to fight the Beastmen. I didn’t think I’d dispatch the beastmen, in fact I thought he’d charge me, but he waited to get flank charges, but Slime Trail negates that to some degree. The ogre guy continued to wait until he thought it was prudent to charge. The lizardman player had cast a bunch of spells at Slim. He took Lore of Heavens, which obviously he must like, but looking it over I don’t think it is that great, it does do extra damage against models that can fly though.
I didn’t like this so Slim and the Beasts charged the closest Lizardmen. One unit fled so both Slim and the Beasts of Nurgle hit into some Skinks. The Skinks stood and shot and managed through poison to kill a Beast of Nurgle they’d already wounded in the previous shooting phase. This only upset me more so Slim cast his one spell on the Cold One Knights with the fancy banner. It wouldn’t even do anything to them really, just weaken them for a turn that they weren’t even in H2H but some how I got it in my head to use my last three power dice having already tried to cast my Tzeentch spells or the Tzeentch spells that were in range. I promptly rolled two sixes.
No big deal I thought. BibbltyBobbltyBoo had already miscast the turn before and I made my ward saves and nothing happened. This time I rolled 3. This meant a Strength 10 hit, Slim is a big boy, he has four wounds, then the next part said I had a 50% chance of just plain disappearing. Oh it wasn’t a Strength 10 hit on all my spell casters. It was a Strength 10 hit on all models under the large template centered on Slim. This killed 5 skinks and wounded the Beast of Nurgle, but Slim was fine.
So I had to make one 4+ or Slim would die, I of course rolled a one.
All was not lost, the Beasts rolled up 14 attacks and crushed the skinks, then they fled into a unit of Sauruses who panicked and I wiped both the units out through the magic of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Both the Ogre and Beast player saw this coming and after losing my Daemon Prince I wasn’t crying any tears for the Lizardman player.
I ended up having to fight another unit of Saurus Warriors this time armed with spears. And if you have spears and someone foolishly charges you, well they get what they deserve. I didn’t foolishly charge, I pursued into them perhaps…
I just realized we might have forgot the new 8th Edition rule where you get +1 Combat Result bonus in the turn you charge. I charged many times and I know I never took that bonus. I gotta write down about a half dozen rules on queue card…
So with Slim dead and the big hoedown underway on the other flank a lot of dice were rolled. Even more dice were rolled when the ogres charged one turn later into the rear of the Plaguebearers.
In the first turn of the hoe down, the Plaguebearers actually won. The Centigures failed their fear test and then their break test and basically ran off the board. The giant jumped up and down on Plaguebearers for three turns killing about a dozen all told. The Beast Lord was always toughness 8 or something despite much talking up of him, the Beastmen lost combat every single round.
The Beastmen, the Giant, the Centigaurs, even the Ogres when they showed up all strike before Plaguebearers. It really is a huge disadvantage being initiative one.
None the less I knew all about it and after losing a bunch I got to return fire. I forgot my poison attacks against the Beastmen, but I remembered it against the Giant and Centigaurs. I won combat and the Centigaurs ran away.
After another turn of magic and shooting, BibbltyBobbltyBoo had to get into H2H too. I charged the Dire Wolves but I didn’t expect the Varghul to be able to run around the end of them and flank charge me. I still don’t have the subtleties of movement down. This was to be the end of my Herald of Tzeentch.
The Plaguebearers had always been dead men walking. The Impact Hits, Thunder Stomps, regular Stomps, and the Tyrant, the Butcher and god knows what else killed about 14 Plaguebearers in one round. Despite that I survived, killed enough Beastmen so they had to take a break test and even with the general and battle standard reroll they ran. The Ogre player tried to claim he routed them as he won combat overall, but he never killed a single beastmen all game.
Anyway turn four or was it five, anyway the third turn of the big fight and the Undead joined in with a flank charge on the Rhinox unit. They didn’t do much but die in droves, but it was enough to hold up the ogres and allow the Undead player to do some other stuff and he ultimately won the game. The Plaguebearers were truly doomed this turn the Giant jumped up and down on them and then Ogres finished them off. The Ogre player challenged Harold and he couldn’t hide. I’d already sacrificed my unit champion fighting the Tyrant the turn before. The Beastmen player tried to kill Harold the turn before but at Toughness 5 he’s harder to kill then the rest of the unit…
He was no match for the Tyrant though. I think I did a wound though, he struck last as the Tyrant had a Great Weapon.
So I was out of the game now with one turn to go. Magic was causing less and less of an impact. The Beastman Bray Shaman had miscast earlier and lost a level and a spell. He also broke and ran for a while. The Undead Player either kept failing to cast stuff or had it dispelled. The Ogre player added and removed wounds and caused a panic test or two, but they weren’t game winners. The Lizardmen guy cast the most spells but all he killed with them were Gnoblars (the red coats) and Dire Wolves in the second half of the game.
I determined it was a tie so in GW style we diced off and the Ogre player lost after the Undead player rolled a five. Darren was willing to have a tie but in the end it was decided Pavol was the big winner and the Ogre player got an extra campaign point too, as Darren felt generous I guess.
After the game I walked to the Five Point, had a beer and something to eat and revised my army list. I had gold to spend so I promptly started spending it. I went a little overboard with Daemonic upgrades for Harold and BibbltyBobbltyBoo. The first thing I bought Harold, even though I was very satisfied with the Banner of Unholy Victory, was an even more expensive magic standard. There is no limit on points for this so I opted for the Banner of Hellfire, reasoning that every game the enemy surround the Plaguebearers and beats them down eventually. They are just CORE troops after all, 12 point models.
I buff them up as best I can with a Herald of Nurgle, but they need to do more damage so the Banner of Hellfire can potentially kill a few models every magic phase. I also learned recently that you can use Breath Weapons in H2H. Previously I thought Stream of Bile was useless for Harold as no one was going to stand still in front of 35 or 40 Plaguebearers. But 2D6 extra hits in one round of H2H that could be a game winner.
Although having something to do in the shooting phase, was a novelty and technically I might have killed 25 points worth of Dire Wolves, there are other options for BibbltyBobbltyBoo’s daemonic reward points. Spellbreaker (dispell scroll) is handy but generally when someone really wants a spell cast they just giver and miscast. So after doing math I opted for no Slime Trail and Master of Sorcery for my Herald of Tzeentch.
Some people are convinced that every Lore in the big red book is better than every other magic spell list currently in print. I’m not so sure of this, but knowing six, neigh seven spells, sounds useful. I actually rolled a six and got the big Tzeentch spell but I don’t own any Horrors let alone have any painted up and with me at the store, so I traded it in for the default. When I got home I looked through all the spells of all the lores, looking for stuff that was easy to cast, as I still only had a Level 2 magic user.
Having spent 405 points on heroes I needed to spend 120 extra points and baring being Fool’s Gold’ed I would have that much or more next time I show up for the campaign having saved 110 gold up already. So Slim could cost up to 405 points too, I considered all his options and gave him Wings (as he has them), Mark of Nurgle (which does nothing) and Trappings of Nurgle which I always wanted so he’d have an armour save, he also now had regeneration which isn’t as good as it used to be.
I then bought the three Beasts of Nurgle, they aren’t great, but they are better than Nurglings and I only had the three painted. If I buy another Nurgle Daemon ever, it’ll be another Beast of Nurgle. I then figured out how many Plaguebearers I could buy and still have full command and the Icon of Eternal Virulence. It turned out to be 37.
When I got home I went through the spell deck. I like hexes as you cast them without line of sight on models in H2H. But mainly I was looking for easy spells to cast so BibbltyBobbltyBoo could get off a couple spells a turn. I had already gone over the evil half of the Lores thoroughly and although I like the Lore of Metal, it was not the winner. Lore of Light was an early favourite as there is a perverseness in taking it. Then I read Lore of Life, more specifically the Thrown of Vines spell. That seems awesome to me, you cast that and then you are safer from miscasts and almost all your spells are better.
Casting Speed of Light on the big unit of Plaguebearers and having them strike at Initiative 10 instead of Initiative 1 would be pretty awesome but when I got to the last set of spells in the deck I remembered Transformation of Kadon. This always seemed pretty cool but at 16+ to cast it wasn’t easy and BibbltyBobbltyBoo would obviously have to risk a miscast to pull it off. However it just so happens I have a fully painted Manticore sitting in my miniature case. The rest of the spells aren’t bad. Nurgle is supposed to be all about toughness so boosting that makes some sense.
The Beastmen player used this Lore and it didn’t accomplish much but he didn’t have ALL the spells. I could just cast “The Flock of Doom” every turn on a 4+ until I was ready to go for broke. BibbltyBobbltyBoo is not a H2H Juggernaut but turn him into a Monstrous Creature complete with Thunder Stomps… I thought the Manticore would have Poisoned Attacks, it doesn’t, but Killing Blow is possibly better.
So yeah next time I play in the campaign I will have 1600+ points on the table and I will be casting from the Lore of Beasts. I also decided that I need to keep my army tightly deployed like a fist. This mission was strange so spreading out to capture multiple objectives made sense, but since every game I’ve ever played with this army, the opposition tries to gang up and multi charge the big unit of Plaguebearers, I’m sticking Slim on one side, the Beasts on the other side, terrain willing of course, and I’ll hide BibbltyBobbltyBoo behind them or in some trees again and just annoy the enemy until I’m ready try to become a Monster. Maybe if this actually works I’ll have to get an even bigger monster to turn into. Or maybe like a lot of my plans, it looks good on paper but I’ll just get stomped.
Once again I’m sweating profusely while typing this up. It is 9pm and the sun has gone down. I haven’t painted a thing all day. With Astronomi-con Vancouver looming I have to finish a model a day for the next five days, despite the heat, and all the other things I need to accomplish.
I wish it wasn’t so hot that is for sure…