Thursday, 11 September 2014

Wizards' Cup Semi-Final 1: Kicking Oz

The Wizards' Cup enters the final four, and only two lores will face off in the final.

Before we get into the first semi-final, may I draw your attention to the podcasts of The Dwellers Below, an aptly-named group of Aussie tournament players who get together on a monthly basis to yammer about the 'hammer.

They usually last for 2 hours (it could probably be cut to a lean 45 minutes without the jokes, but why would you want that?) and the ones I've listened to I've found to be both informative and an absolute riot.

Anyway, their latest podcast discusses all of the Battle Magic lores in detail, as they debate which ones are the best. So this is clearly a common train of thought in WFB (makes me wish I'd taken notes before commencing battle here - it might have helped).

But enough of this ... on to glory!

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.
Not pictured: glory.


As before, armies will mirror each other. But now, as we're kicking it up a level, the points value will be doubled to 1,000 and the wizard's promoted to Lv4 Wizard Lord (with 50pt allowance).

Wizard Lord proxies, left to right: Death, Shadow, Light, Beard Beasts

1 x Battle Standard Bearer - Hand Weapon. Full Plate Armour
20 x Spearmen - Spears, Light Armour, Full Command
   5 x Free Company - Two Hand Weapons (detachment)
10 x Crossbowmen - Crossbows
10 x Knights - Lances, Shields, Full Plate Armour. Barded Warhorse. Full Command
5 x Pistoliers - Brace of Pistols, Light Armour. Musician

Semi-Final 1: Death vs Beasts

The actual field

Amethyst Wizard (Kraken): barded steed with Dispel Scroll and Terrifying Mask of Eee!
Spells: Spirit Leech, Caress of Laniph, Fate of Bjuna, Purple Sun of Xereus

Amber Wizard (Stylus): barded steed with Obsidian Lodestone
Spells: Pann's Impenetrable Pelt, Amber Spear, Curse of Anraheir, Savage Beast of Horros

Still the tournament favourites, Kraken went into this with the weight of expectation pressing on him. I just had the pressing fear of getting sniped off the table, and wishing I could take more Obsidian trinkets to protect me.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

Kraken set up with the Amethyst Wizard on his right flank, joined by the Pistoliers (who thereby lost all Fast Cavalry benefits). The Halberdiers and their Free Company detachment went in the centre, with the Knights on the road (which we decided gave +1 movement) and the Crossbows behind the tower.

The Amber Wizard joined the Knights, on the edge of the marshlands. The Crossbows went behind the low wall, Free Company and Halberdiers astride the road, and the Pistoliers on the extreme right (who then went forward with Vanguard).

Turn 1 - Amber

I advance in an oblique formation: the Amber Pistoliers nestle behind the tower (and get so comfortable, they forget to shoot), the Halberdiers race up the road with their detachment jogging along behind. The Crossbows stay put behind the wall and the Knights hold.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

In the magic phase, Pann's Impenetrable Pelt is dispelled, but Amber Spear is successfully cast at the Purple Pistoliers, felling one of them (which may have been wasteful, but crucially it exposed the Death Wizard to missile fire).

Sure enough, the Amber Crossbows shoot away two more Purple Pistoliers, and manage to clip a wound off the Death Wizard. What remains of the unit passes its panic test.

Turn 1 - Amethyst

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

The Purple Knights charge Amber Halberdiers, who flee out of reach back down the road. The Purple Crossbows occupy the tower and everyone else advances.

The Winds of Magic of magic prove a disappointment. Kraken rolls 1,1, which fails to even cast a small Purple Sun.

Turn 2 - Amber

The Amber Knights declare a charge against the Purple  Pistoliers, who flee out of reach. The Amber Halberdiers rally and the Amber Pistoliers duck behind the Purple Knights.

The now-abandoned Amber Free Company angles itself to draw the Purple Knights off at an angle. Then they brace themselves.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

Another crumby Winds of Magic roll (1,2), although I do channel, and attempt to cast a boosted Amber Spear on the Pistoliers (causing D6 wounds, rather than D3). I fail the cast by one (which I now remember, should have added the +1 lore attribute for casting on cavalry. Ah well, it was only a 1 in 3 chance of singling out the Death Wizard).

The Amber Crossbows pick off a couple of Purple Halberdiers and Amber Pistoliers don't even scratch the armour of the Death Knights.

Turn 2 - Amethyst

Predictably, the Purple Knights charge Amber Free Company. The Purple Pistoliers rally (which was fortunate, as they were almost off the field). The Purple Halberdiers and Free Company advance towards the Amber Knights.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

A third successive squib for the Winds of Magic (1,1) which doesn't get any spells through. The Purple Crossbows knock off a few Amber Halberdiers.

Predictably, the Purple Knights utterly squash the Free Company, but fail to overrun into the Amber Crossbows and are left with their flank invitingly open.

Turn 3 - Amber

Everything goes wild this turn. The Amber Knights charge into the Purple Halberdiers (resulting in a supporting charge from the Purple Free Company).

The Amber Halberdiers charge into the Purple Knights' flank. The Amber Pistoliers move across the field to threaten their opposite numbers.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

We finally get a proper roll on the Winds of Magic. It's enough for the Amber Wizard to cast Savage Beast of Horros, which is stopped with Kraken's Dispel Scroll, and then cast Pann's Impenetrable Pelt on himself.

I don't recall anything important getting shot this turn - all eyes were on the combat.

Knowing the vulnerability of wizards in combat (which I exploited in the quarter-finals), and buoyed-up with his new Impenetrable Pelt, the Amber Wizard declares a challenge, I fully expected the unit champion to step forward, but sadly my tough guy had forgotten that the BSB was in this unit. The Empire Captain accepts the challenge, and things might get a bit hairy.

Sure enough, even at T7, I lose a wound in the challenge and manage none in return. The rest of the Knights do better, and skewer seven Halberdiers, for the loss of one of their own in return,

I win the combat easily, but Kraken does not even need the BSB's re-roll as he scores another double 1 (a welcome one this time) for the break test.

In the other infantry vs cavalry clash, the Amber Halberdiers make the most of their flank charge, felling a couple of Purple Knights and sending the rest packing. They pursue, but are too slow to catch their four-footed quarry,

Turn 3 - Amethyst

The Death Wizard and Purple Pistoliers divide company, with the horsemen angling to shoot the enemy Pistoliers, and the wizard lining up the big combat for some nastiness.

Everything else is either in combat or ensconced in a tower.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

A decent magic phase causes Spirit Leech to be cast (and dispelled), then Caress of Laniph to be cast (and dispelled). I now had no dice remaining, so Kraken was free to cast a boosted Purple Sun of Xereus - which goes off in grand style, ploughing 30" through three units, felling a few of my Knights and Halberdiers of both sides.

What's more, the resulting carnage gave Kraken a couple of extra power dice to case Fate of Bjuna on my wizard. Still at Toughness 7, of course, he laughs at the Fate of Bjuna... so much so that he splits his side and takes a wound.

Turn 4 - Amber

All or nothing time: the Amber Pistoliers declare a charge against the Death Wizard (only needing a 10 on Swiftstride), the Amber Crossbows declare a charge into the flank of the mass-combat (needing a slightly more improbable 10) and the Amber Halberdiers declare a charge against the remaining Purple Knights (also needing a 10).

Naturally, the one charge I really need to happen fails miserably: the Amber Pistoliers trot forward on Snake Eyes (although they would also have had to pass a Terror test, I now realise). Both sets of infantry do far better and stride forward on 10" apiece.

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.

With my toughness spell wearing off, I really need to boost my wizard's stats to survive this combat. I begin by throwing four dice at Pann's Impenetrable Pelt, which is cast irresistibly... and then I roll Dimensional Cascade.

The resulting explosion takes out most of the remaining Halberdiers and a wound off the BSB. The Knights are also wiped out (until I remember the Obsidian Lodestone gives them a ward save and all but one return).

My wizard, however, loses his last wound and fails his Obsidian ward save. He disappears with a bang before he even has a chance to get sucked into the warp.

As a desperate last act to even the scores, the Amber Pistoliers take aim at the Death Wizard (we couldn't find a rule that said troops that fail a charge couldn't shoot). They hit, but only manage to take off one wound.

With the Amber Wizard on her last wound, and only needing to avoid combat on her turn to win, I concede defeat and we leave the remaining combats unfought (mostly likely a win for the Amber Knights, since almost everything they fought was dead, and a stalemate between the Amber Halberdiers and Purple Knights).

Flog That Dead Horse

Whew! That one was a lot of fun, and at least I managed to (almost) go the distance against the Death Mage. I may even have won too, if it hadn't been for that last miscast (why always Dimensional Cascade?)

Tactically, I think I did pretty well here. Had this been a conventional battle, I reckon it would have been mine for the taking: most of Kraken's army was destroyed or badly damaged, and if the combats panned out as expected, I would have been rolling up his unit of Knights and onto the Crossbows with my victorious units.

The only serious blunder was putting my Amber Wizard in harm's way (even in combat, he couldn't escape the death snipes, as I'd hoped). I might have done better just scurrying him into a corner and sending my conventional troops after the Amethyst Wizard - but where's the wizard's duel in that?

One thing I must write on my hand is the lore attribute. Several times in the battle, it would have helped me cast a spell either on myself or the enemy, and I totally forgot about it.

But anyway, the Beast is dead, and Death marches on to the final!

A battle report between two Warhammer Empire armies, led by wizards: Death and Beasts.
Death claims the Beast.
I feel like I should find a Biblical quote for that, but all I can think of is 'stop rolling Irresistible Force, dumbass!'


  1. Man, I read this back and realise how lucky I was. Touch and go after I deployed with the pistols, I realised. A failed panic test in the first turn would have cost me the game.

    Still, worth it. No other wizard in this tourney so far can boast of loosing all their spells in a single magic phase!

    1. Yeah, I think that was my best chance of knocking Amethyst out of the tournament.

      Good game though - quite a lot going on for just 1,000pts.