Friday, 7 September 2012

Balance Sheet: The Enterprise of Campogrotta

Now that the dust has settled on WoofBoot VI, I thought I would reflect on how each of my units (and their commander) performed. If any of my opponents would like to share their insights on what they face, I welcome your thoughts…

The Schiltrons of Tarano

14 x Greatswords

184 points

Battle Honours

Forest Goblin Spider Riders, Orc Big 'Uns, 2 x Skink-Kroxigor units (one solely, one shared), Saurus Cavalry (partially damaged), Thundertusk (partially damaged).

My premier unit, and didn't they just behave like it. With the buffs courtesy of my Warrior Priest, I'd have confidently set this unit against any other in the field.

Their defeat of the Big Uns (and their Black Orc general) was decisive, as was their contribution against the Lizardmen. They did enough damage to make the Ironguts waver, and the Thundertusk takedown was their finest hour.

On the debit side, they failed to do enough damage to break the Skaven horde (but they was my fault for expecting them to), although their Stubborn ability (rarely used, as they usually ploughed through enemies in the first round) and armour save kept them in play until the end.

I would have expected them to do better against the Skeleton regiment, frenzied or not, and the Undead battle was probably the only one where they underperformed. The Warrior Priest, though his battle prayers were invaluable, showed his vulnerability to combat when he ducked the vampire general's challenge.

Their lack of numbers sometimes counted against them - they struggled if they needed to make a second attack against a hard unit (like Ogres) or grind away at a numerous one (Skaven and Undead). But as they were already one-third of my army points, a 15-strong unit was my limit.

They were lucky to break the Orc Big Uns as they did, and luckier still that their Stubbornness did not keep them fighting the Orges (the lone champion fleeing for the table edge saved me the points). Their Lizardmen scalps were fair enough though, and their Thundertusk slaying was surprisingly par, rather than an against-the-odds achievement.

Final Grade

They’re Grrrreat!

In terms of ‘hammer’ units, my Empire army would either need these or knights. I’d still favour these.


Paymaster, Commissar Pendleton

Warrior Priest (also General)

115 points

Battle Honours

Led Greatswords, nothing individual.

With this general, it’s all about the money, money, money. Less effective than the rank-and-file of the Greatsword unit, and unable even to increase their leadership (both on Ld 8), the benefits from this little guy came from his buffs.

Hatred came as default, which gave the Greatswords a chance to eliminate those pesky 1s and 2s. Before going into combat I’d almost always try and cast a couple of battle prayers on the unit, so would get to re-roll to wound and/or gain a 5+ ward save.

Being ‘bound’ and ‘innate’ spells, meant no miscasts (something of a rarity in the magic phase), so I normally got to cast the buffs when I really wanted to. I never got around to the flaming attacks prayer (I think only the Corpse Cart had regeneration, and by the time I could have used the holy fire against the Undead, my troops were already running like holy hell).

It’s possible that I was over-egging the Greatsword unit – with WS4 and S5, they didn’t miss much to begin with. Although having seen the big guys from the Orc, Vampire and Ogre armies whiff their attacks at crucial times, the chance to eliminate a freak batch of 1s can’t be underestimated. At the very least, he kept their scores on average or better.

I would be interested to see what a Warrior Priest could do to a larger unit of poorer troops – like having 30 Spearmen re-roll their attacks and wounds. But he was so good with the Greatswords, I’d be tempted to take a second, rather than swap around.

And finally, in keeping with my usual habit of buying expensive items and forgetting to use them. His White Cloak of Ulric meant that he should have been a little harder to kill in combat. Don’t think it mattered, but it’s a lesson that I should use a bigger font for magic items, or stick post-it notes on things.

Final Grade

Holy Moly

Lots of fun and very effective. Next time, I’d look to see if I had budget for another one.


The Viadaza Toreadors

29 Spearmen

175 points

Battle Honours

Night Goblin Spears, Skavenslave unit, Skink-Kroxigor unit (shared), Black Coach (partially damaged).

A solid performance by this unit, rather than an overwheming one. They beat the units they were expected to (Night Goblins, Skinks, Skavenslaves - the only ones weaker than themselves). And while they were dirt cheap, I doubt if they paid off their own worth in victory points (Black Coach excepted, and that was something of a lucky punch).

That said, their job was not solely an aggressive one. Their sheer size meant they drew a lot of fire and spells that could have been more productively sent against my Greatswords, Crossbows or Pistoliers.

They made a good bodyguard for my Battle Standard, and a solid enough unit to hold the enemy in place (while the Greatswords manoeuvre to hit the flank - as happened on 2 or 3 occasions). But even when I got to roll 18 attack dice, they never really did that much hurt, and for a unit that was nearly the same cost as my Greatswords, I wanted more.

Final Grade

Needs More Of The Pointy End

Not a disappointment, and led by a Warrior Priest, those 18 attacks could be lethal, but I might be tempted to try halberds next time.


Captain Fagilio

Battle Standard Bearer

106 points

Battle Honours

Led Spearmen, nothing individual.

In contrast to the spears he led, I was very pleased with the Battle Standard Bearer. There were some battles (the Orc one springs to mind) where I absolutely relied on that Ld re-roll. His new 'Hold The Line!' ability only came into play once or twice, but BOY did I need it when it happened (getting me that crucial double 1).

Not having any magic weapon (or even a great weapon) did make me feel like I was fielding him under-strength - especially when my opponents wised-up and started targeting him. So perhaps I need something to give him a bit of oomph.

I’m not sure if he would have performed better with the Greatswords, adding his attacks and combat res bonus to their assaults. The Spearmen make a better holding ‘unit’, and they would probably have been a lot worse off without him. Certainly the ‘Hold The Line!’ rules means that skulking around by himself, bestowing re-rolls at a safe distance, is no longer an option.

Final Grade

Stay Sharpe

A Battle Standard is a must-have, but where he is best-placed could do with some thought.


The Tettoverde Greenjackets

10 x Crossbowmen

100 points

Battle Honours

Ogre Ironguts (partially damaged).

Not a lot of finishing blows in this regiment, as you'd expect from a missile unit. However, I didn't feel let down with this lot, except with the way I fielded them sometimes (they were caught of of position against the Skaven, shot one Jezzail crew and spent the rest of the battle on the move, until they foolishly charged in to get wiped out in combat).

When I used this regiment sensibly - concentrating on a single unit, chipping away the wounds - it was enough to weaken them for my combat units to take them on (Saurus Cavalry, Ogre Ironguts). When I tried to manoeuvre them (happy memories of Wood Elves there), they were wasted. Move-or-fire, with 30" range: every turn not spent shooting at the enemy was wasted points.

Final Grade

Within Range

Very useful missile support, especially considering failures elsewhere *coughvolleygun*. Would have to have a good reason not to find the points to include them again.


The Riders of Udolpho

5 x Pistoliers

100 points

Battle Honours

Giant, with damage inflicted on Black Coach and Thundertusk.

Ah, the Pistoliers. One of the few units of Fast Cavalry that I’ve managed to used effectively. They played an effective role in every one of my battles (except against the Lizardmen, where my opponent took them out with his first spell – wisely too, as they’d have butchered those lone skink shamans).

Their list of kills makes it look like I was using them for big-game hunting – and to be fair, their speed, manoeuvrability and high-strength firepower did make them effective against the large, multi-wound targets.

Killing the Giant by themselves was fortunate, but their wounds on the Black Coach and Thundertusk proved vital, as both were subsequently slain in combat.

However, what the battle honours don’t reveal is their other virtue: getting in among the enemy lines and spoiling things. They triggered an early release of fanatics which meant I never had to bother with them. They slowed the Skaven advance to a crawl with a couple feigned-flight/failed charges (it was hardly their fault that I didn’t have a follow-up plan). And they drew about half the total Ogre spells in a vain effort to stop them from harassing the Thundertusk (whether that was because the spelldeck had a good anti-cavalry spell, or whether my opponent had them pegged as a real threat – it kept the rest of my units spell-free and intact).

They also allow a trick that I never learned until the final battle: to skew the deployment phase in your favour. I usually put down my big regiments first, and fast cavalry last – using their vanguard to leap ahead in the first turn. It was until the last battle that I put down the Pistoliers first – on a different flank to the rest of my troops – led the Ogres set up on the opposite site, then vanguarded them back into position. It probably meant a whole extra turn of movement before combat (which meant a whole extra turn of shooting/magic for me).

These gee-gees made the army a lot more fun to play with. With four other units – one static and three footsloggers – I really appreciated the tactical options of having the fast cavalry. Indeed, when they were immediately taken out against the Lizardmen, my army suddenly felt very static.

Final Grade

Giddy Up

If I were building a new army, these would be first on the list.


‘Burnin’ Vernon Aurelius

Battle Wizard, Level 2 (Lore of Fire)

100 points

Battle Honours

Goblin Archers (fled in Panic), Corpse Cart, Ogre Butcher (partially damaged), with damage inflicted on Saurus Cavalry.

Nothing subtle about the spells I drew for this lore: Burning Heads, Piercing Bolts, Fireballs and plenty of them!

Despite his tendency to explode when I got carried away with the power dice, I liked fielding this wizard. Most of the opposing armies were well-suited for Lore of Fire too: low-leadership in Skaven, Goblin and Ogres made them vulnerable to panic tests, the Regeneration of the Corpse Cart was negated. The takedown of the Ogre Butcher was just about firepower.

It’s a shame I never got that Flaming Sword of Rhiun, especially as he got caught up in combat a few times (once by accident, once intentionally, to hold up a unit of Skavenslaves – not sure if that was clever tactics, or just a gift of 100VPs).  The Flame Cage would have been nice to use – the only battle I rolled it for (Lizardmen) wasn’t that useful.

Having a wizard of any kind is a must – for both magical defence (4 of the 6 armies fielded two spellcasters) and fun play. I would like to look at a different lore, as this one felt reduced to playing him like another artillery piece. Which actually proved useful, considering failures elsewhere *coughvolleygun*.
The one thing I would change is not to field him with a bodyguard unit. He managed fine by himself (and indeed, was more likely to be overlooked), and all he did with the Crossbows was to blow up a few for every Miscast.

Final Grade

Disco Inferno

Definitely take one. And if I could save points by fielding them both as Lv 1, I’d be tempted to try a second wizard from a more subtle lore.


Mitman’s Patent #37 Spitfyre

Helblaster Volley Gun

120 points

Battle Honours

Damage inflicted on Saurus Cavalry and Black Coach.

No question about it: this was a lemon. For the same price as a Great Cannon (and my third most-expensive unit), this couldn’t have inflicted more than a handful of wounds in the whole tournament.

Not entirely its fault: the Skaven army had taken anti-missile and anti-war machine measures, and it’s probably fair to say that I couldn’t have anticipated the 216:1 shot that allowed an Ogre harpoon to destroy it on the first turn.

I also didn’t use it properly. Thinking it was a cannon (probably because some idiot modelled it on a cannon chassis), I used it in the same style: banging away at the high-toughness, high-priority targets. Had I used those multiple shots against medium-to-poor infantry (Orcs, Skeletons, Ghouls, Skinks), I might have seen a better return. The problem was that my army was missing the kind of support a Great Cannon would provide, and I was trying to compensate.

It’s also a lesson in reading the rules properly. Being a war machine, I had always expected it to hit automatically. A potential 30 shots is a lot less scary when half of them are going to miss. An Engineer would improve my changes of hitting, but then I’m spending even more points on an already-expensive unit.

The misfire dice didn’t really upset the volley gun, other than to cause a few halved shots. That was another problem I had: if it can’t be useful, it can at least blow up and be entertaining.

Final Grade

Keep The Receipt

I ought to field it again, just to learn how to use it. But it’s too much of a luxury at 1,000 points.


General Stylus

Commanding Officer

Couple of beers and bag of onion rings

Battle Honours

Crushing Victory (Orcs), Victory (Lizardmen), Draw (Ogres), Defeat (Vampire Counts), Crushing Defeat (Skaven).

Despite having a final tally that is perfectly symmetrical, I think my tournament performance was a little under-par. I was very fortunate to get a crushing victory against the Orcs (an easy charge failed by the Giant, and a whiffed round of combat for the Big Uns), but I think a narrower win would have been a fair result.

I think I kept it solid against the Lizardmen and Ogres, paid the price for not concentrating my fire against the Undead, and just faffed around against the oncoming Skaven horde. So all of the results reflect that pretty well.

In terms of units, I handled the fast cavalry well, the infantry competently, the missile troops under-par and the artillery disastrously.

In terms of strategy, I think I had it right against Orcs and Ogres; just about coped against Lizardmen, got it wrong against Vampire Counts; and against Skaven, was just far too focussed on how to take down the horde, rather than how to win the battle.

I also paid no attention at all to the overall ‘tournament’ strategy. If I had been thinking, I could have played for a draw against armies I had little chance of beating, just to keep me in the running for the top ranks. But even with hindsight, I think I’d rather play each game on its own merits, going for the win, even if it ends in catastrophe.

My favourite battle was the total-annihilation against the Ogres, although stepping off the train and going straight into a Crushing Victory against the Orcs left me feeling pretty good too. The battles I would want most to refight are Vampire Counts or Skaven. And, win or lose, I think I’ll always struggle against Lizardmen.

Final Grade

Go Fourth

Finishing 4 of 6 is about right. I did enjoy playing the ‘average’ Empire troops more than I thought, and would love to field them again.

In short, I had fun.

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