Thursday, 30 October 2014

Forest of Gloom: Warriors of Chaos vs Wood Elves

Phlothos Orgmeier hacked a violent cough, then leant over the side of his throne to spit the produce out. The wooden frame creaked and groaned as his weight shifted against it. He even heard a soft pop as one of the corpulent bearers exploded wetly underneath. He didn't need to look at what he'd spat out (nobody should have to do that) to know it was mostly lung. 

"I'm dying, Morag," he said. "How much time do I have?"

"More than enough," Morag said reassuringly. 

"Everybody always thinks that," Phlothos said. "And they're always wrong."

"I'm not," Morag said. "You shouldn't lose hope. You'll see your home soon enough."

She'd been an orderly in a madhouse once, before a particularly awful plague ripped through the crowded wards. As their inflamed brains disintegrated into pools of pus, each patient vented incessant howls of pain. A great symphony of misery, it was said. She could still hear it, on the good nights. Phlothos met her as she ran through the woods outside Nuln, singing her own version of it, and seen the mark of Nurgle strong upon her. 

He'd had the right of it, too. Nurgle's favour was very heavy on her. So it was on him as well, so much that his bloated frame was finally starting to succumb to his glorious ailments. Morag now led their warband in all but technicality. 

"Right enough, my lovely nurse," Phlothos said. "Then we hurry. I want to see the walls of home once more before the end. I owe them that much."

"Then we proceed through the forest?"

"Ah yes. The forest it is!"

It lay before them like a thick crust of mold on ancient bread. The Forest of Gloom, a heavy, brooding stew of trees floating on the swampy maze of valleys at the southern end of Blackfire Pass. They'd sneaked their warband past the forts without challenge. Death was heavy on the wind these days, and the watchers on the fort had their eyes anxiously turned inwards, unable to look away from the fires that burned at the heart of their Empire. 

But the burning magical wall that surrounded Sylvania's burning magical wall was far behind them now. Phlothos had other fish to fry.  

"You have smelt out the path, I trust?" 

Morag nodded. Or at least the movement of her cowl suggested a nod. Or at least the frantic ticking motion of what passed for her head these days implied she was attempting to do as much. 

"You see there? Just beyond the end of the bridge?" she said, pointing with a gnarled finger. "The statue. It was once an Elven waystone, a marker for the way through one of their sanctuaries. It still has some power. If I infuse it with the blessing of Nurgle, the infections will follow the old flow of magic through the wood. We will follow behind."

"So we'll reach Karaz-a-Karak when?" 

"Ten days, maybe less. Not long."

Perfect, Phlothos thought, rattling out another chunk of lung tissue. Just enough to see the old place before I die. Repay some old debts. And do the work of my God all at the same time. 

His laughter might have sounded like wretched coughing. But there was joy in it, all the same. 

That's Right!

It's All-Skype Fight Night!

Welcome back, WoffFans! General Stylus and me (Gen. Kraken) are going to have a stab at a proper old-style battle report, as you might have seen in the pages of Original and Best White Dwarf from back in the day. Today, I'm dressed in normal text and font,

And I, General Stylus, shall adopt the guise of gossamer-thin, wispy elven text.

Which means incoming narrative alongside our dice and maps. After plotting out the battlefield, we also decided on blind deployment. So both armies were fully committed to the field before we got to see where the other side was, another Oldhammery method. 

Were the old ways truly the better? Would the addition of some personal objectives up the stakes a little? Or would we find ourselves adrift on a sea of nostalgia, drowning for want of a rules buoy? Read on and find out!


Chaos Warriors for me! 

Determined to better my previous battering by the crafty and nimble archer army, I went with heavy armour across the board. From past experience, spreading my weight over several units just means I get whittled away, leaving me without enough to make a difference in combat. Assuming I ever reach any, at least. 

My Nurgle Palanquin did well last time out, and Nurgle is a great lore to chuck up in the faces of elves. And it's GW flavour of the month, what with the End Times and all, so a little nod to our dark masters in Nottingham there. A big chunk of warriors made a basket to put all my characters in, with a selection of Ld-boosting items. I knew they'd likely all die, smothered under a big blanket of arrows, but what the hell. 

My chariots usually seem to survive, though. I reckoned I could at least use them as black boxes, recording the eventual deaths of the rest of the crew. A giant to keep up with them and try for a flank, and off we'd jolly well go!

Morag, Level 4 Sorceror Lord, with Mark and Lore of Nurgle and the Crown of Command - 315
  • Fleshy Abundance
  • Rancid Visitations
  • Plague Wind
  • Curse of the Leper
Phlothos Orgmeier, Exalted Hero, Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin, Shield, Filth Mace, Soul Feeder - 203
Ebony Boler, Exalted Hero BSB, with Standard of Discipline and Scaled Skin - 170

The Lost, a Chaos Chariot - 110
The Damned, a Chaos Chariot - 110 
The Sick and the Bled, 20 Chaos Warriors with Mark of Nurgle and Shields - 340
The Lurgitania, a Warshrine with a totally fluff-breaking Mark of Tzeentch - 135
Big Wurm, a Chaos Giant with Mark of Nurgle - 215

And I, Wood Elves once again

The sensible choice would be to load up on archers and Shadow magic and just whittle away. But I already did that in our last battle and I had a hankering to try out some of the new models. So it was minimum archers, no scouts or waywatchers, and melee choices all the way.

I know. Still proxying Wild Riders. I'm working on it.

Arth Mawr, Glade Lord on Great Stag. Asrai Longbow, Light Armour, Asrai Spear, Shield. Helm of the Hunt. Glittering Scales. Talisman of Preservation. Luckstone. Starfire Shafts.
Bedwyr Stanchion Glade Captain BSB. Asrai Longbow, Light Armour, Great Weapon. Hail of Doom Arrow.
Taliesin Arabesque, Shadowdancer. Lv 1. Two Hand Weapons.
     - Melkoth's Mystifying Miasma
Branwen Urushiol, Spellsinger. Lv 2. Dispel Scroll.
     - Wyssan's Wildform, The Amber Spear
Ash Kindred, 19 x Glade Guard. Asrai Longbow, Musician. Trueflight Arrows.
The Dark Coppice, 10 x Dryads, champion
Sycamore Troupe, 10 x Wardancers. Two Hand Weapons, champion.
Birch Troupe, 5 x Wardancers. Two Hand Weapons, champion.
Hounds of Kurnos, 5 x Wild Riders. Asrai Spear, Light Armour, champion.
Hakawai, 1 x Great Eagle

That's not a unit of proxy Wild Riders. That's a unit of proxy Wild Riders. 

Rather than avoid combat, my plan was to make the Chaos Warriors come and fight on my terms. The unit of Trueflight archers would be the bait, screened by the large unit of Wardancers. The Dryads and smaller Wardancers would be on hand for flank support, while the Eagle and Wild Riders would sally out to redirect and harass the advance.

I wasn't sure what plans I had for the Glade Lord, other than I'd kitted him out for damage and hoped I'd get a chance to hit something hard (aka 'Shiny New Model Syndrome').


The fringes of the Forest of Gloom would be brought to life by my usual selection of swamps and linoleum. But a river across the field, to mix things up, as well as a road skirting the edge of the woods. 

Along that road, which we decided would give +1 M to units starting their movement on it, would be a small cemetary sinking into some swamps and the elven wayshrine that had drawn Phlothos and Morag here. It would combine the rules of Arcane Ruins, Elven Waystone and Ominous Statue, so wizards within 6" could opt to use up to four channelling dice which would then channel on a 5+. 

But tapping ancient elven power would be risky - more than one six would trigger a miscast, and there was always a 4+ chance of the statue unleashing d6 S4 hits on the wizard or their unit.

The Wood Elves chose the southern edge, and put their bonus wood next to the existing one, calling it as Venom Thicket. The other wood and the river were mysterious, although our first turn revealed that they were both totally normal. Which is about as freakish a result as you can get on a Warhammer battlefield.

Wood Elf Deployment

I liked the hidden deployment system - especially useful in a SkypeBoot - but that didn't stop me from making a bit of a pudding.

The centre was fine - Glade Guard at the back (getting to fire in three ranks); Wardancers screening them, all in the double-forest. Flanks held by Dryads and more Wardancers.

The BSB was at the back (ready to help out when the Wardancers needed Stubborn rolls in the forest). The Shadowdancer stayed at the back, since her spell range was greater; and the Beastsinger went forward with the Dryads for his shorter-range stuff - I had a notion of using the Shadow lore attribute to switch them over and launch a surprise attack. Both had their feet in the forest for Blessings of the Ancients +1 casting.

The flanks were  different story: I have no idea why I put my cavalry directly opposite a swamp and buildings, while the flying eagle had basically open ground before it. I think I saw the river as more of an obstacle than it was, and assumed most of the army would be funnelling down the right side of the battlefield - one of the perils of a blind deployment: you start playing the ground, not the player.

I also don't know why I placed the Glade Lord behind the Wild Riders. As Chaos had no missile troops, he would have been in no more danger - and considerably more use - placed on the edge of the deployment zone. I think I was just feeling a bit protective of this lone character, I'm used to nestling them up in units.

Unaware of all this, I formed my own plans.

As usual, I'd be trying to advance to combat range with the warrior bus with the warshrine in support. The chariots would hold my flanks, the giant would both draw missile fire and hope to threaten a flank of its own. 

But I was worried - I suspected there would be some kind of fast cavalry about somewhere, but I couldn't be sure where exactly. If it was a safe bet expecting wood elves in the forest, I could safely plonk the Warriors opposite and head over as quickly as they could. I reckoned the warshrine would be okay straddling the river as needed, but the chariots needed to be strung out a bit to watch my flanks. I ended up in a rather straggly line, with the giant lurking behind the tower. 

The reveal wasn't too much of a heartsink. There were all the elves, there in the wood. And there were some Wild Riders, as feared. But in place of dozens of hardy archers, there was a great big mess of skirmishy melee units! What was going on here? 

Well, I rolled first turn. So I'd soon find out...

See? Just like the map. Only upside down. 

Wood Elves - Turn 0

The plague host was drawing nigh. They were almost upon the waystone. One more bridge to cross and their foul putrescence would defile the very forest itself. Glade Lord Arth Mawr strode forward to face them. On his right, elven cavalry champed restlessly; in the copse to his left, archers and wardancers lay hid.

From his quiver, Arth drew a single bone-white arrow - the Talon of Kurnos. He took aim on the hooded sorcerer in the midst of the armoured warriors and loosed. Even at extreme range, he could see the talon had tasted blood. The chaos witch plucked out the shaft with a curse, and the enemy knew to fear their slender arrows. 

Whooping for excitement, the Wild Riders galloped forward to meet the foe. With a satisfied nod, Arth shouldered his bow and returned to his steed, climbing into the saddle of the great bear and donning the symbolic Helm of the Hunt.

The world may be aflame, but the forest would remain inviolate. These invaders would be turned aside or the Asrai would perish in the attempt.

Warriors of Chaos - Turn 1

Phlothos sneezed a command, and his pack of weary warriors limped forward. They were a quiet legion, their patched armour covering a wealth of sores, scabs and swollen joints black with leprosy or worse. But they would fight with all the fury of those with nothing more to lose.

To either side, the chariots rumbled towards the foe. Far on his right, Phlothos saw the looming form of Big Wurm lurch out from behind a ruined tower. Dawn light glinted as much on the great cracked chunk of warpstone lodged in his shoulder as it did on the inflamed and broken skin that surrounded it. Running hurt the giant, it screamed as it ran.

He could see the flicker of swords in the woods ahead. And where a dismal boneyard slowly slipped into a swamp on his left flank, Phlothos saw movement. Elves on stags, wearing horned helms and bearing elegant, fluted lances.

"There!" he roared, spitting out a clot of something brown. The warrior legion turned as one to face the cavalry, the nearest chariot rattling alongside.

They were nearly on the Waystone already. Morag began siphoning power from it, spinning a haze of pestilent sorcery over the warriors. Flesh browned and cracked, becoming even tougher. When the arrows began to fall, it was doubtful if they'd even be felt.

Wood Elves - Turn 1

The defenders of the woods.
The Hounds of Kurnos were already galloping rings around the enemy, outmanoeuvring the clumsy Warriors and lumbering chariot. Behind them, Arth Mawr lumbered forward on the Great Bear, waiting for his moment to charge.

The Sycamore Troupe danced to the very edge of the forest, taunting their foes with graceful steps, while the Great Eagle, Hakawai, flew directly before the diseased giant, flapping its mighty wings to distract the brute.

Calling upon the winds of Ulgu, Taliesin the Shadowdancer cursed the Warriors with a slow-footed Miasma, in mockery of her own fluid movement. However, Branwen the Beastsinger fared worse, and lost control of the mighty Amber Spear even as she attempted to manifest it.

The Trueflights of the Ash Kindred then filled the sky, and rained down upon the Giant. However, his hide proved too tough and only one shaft found its mark. In desperation, Bedwyr loosed the dreaded Hail of Doom arrow, but not one of the ten flights could pierce the monster.

The foul army was composed of a stuff that archery alone could not fell. This contest would be decided with blades.

Warriors of Chaos - Turn 2

It was almost going to be too easy. Big Wurm was studded with flimsy-looking elfshot, but to no apparent detriment. Shaking the arrows off like sleet, he screeched into a full-blown sprint.

The huge eagle ahead twisted in flight, its wings pumping as it tried to distract the giant from the frail elves waiting in the woods ahead. But to no avail - the giant's strides were too long. It snatched the hapless bird out of the air and dashed it against the ground twice, barely breaking its loping tread as it did so.

Shifting shadows and whispering shapes surrounded Phlothos and his warriors. Coughing and shouting to try and restore order, he convinced the unit to keep the elven warstags to their front. They seemed keen to fight - let them come, the diseased champion thought.

Morag channelled more energy from the Waystone, but this time some ancient elven guardian spirit rebelled against such misuse. Thorned briars splintered up through the ground on their right, reaching for the nearest warriors. Nobody fell to the attack, however, it was nothing a swift axe blow couldn't deal with.

Rippling with power, Morag rained curse after curse on the elven steeds. But nothing stuck - there were other magicians nearby, interfering with her incantations. Or that damned elven arrow that struck her minutes before had hurt her more than Phlothos realised.

Wood Elves - Turn 2

The Glade Lord and the Wild Riders had caught the attention of half the Chaos army; they now had to decide what to do with it. Arth Mawr rode past the swamp and faced off both Warriors and Chariot, while the Hounds of Kurnos once again darted out of reach.

The forest eaves shook in anticipation of combat. The Birch Troupe splashed back across the river to take refuge among the trees, while the Sycamore Troupe charged at the chariot with nimble steps. Taken aback by the unexpected aggression, the chariot wheeled around and fled, leaving the Wardancers to make mocking pirouettes among the trees.

The winds of magic blew weak, and the elves could not draw from the power of their own waystone. Taliesin could do no more than curse the Warriors with slowness once again, and hope her general would elude them.

From the vantage of his bear, Arth shot a Starfire arrow at the oncoming chariot. The burning shaft dug into one of the steeds, causing it to scream in pain.

The Ash Kindred turned their bows to the Giant once again, determined that the sacrifice of the Great Eagle should not be in vain. Three more arrows struck home among all that mangled flesh, but the brute was still on his feet. He was now close enough that they could smell the rot.

Warriors of Chaos - Turn 3

Still screaming, the burning chariot trampled forward, throwing a wake of dirt and muck up behind it. If the Elven general wanted to kill it, he'd have to try harder than that. With a surprising turn of speed for something that looked on the verge of collapse, it covered the ground to the elf almost before he could swap his bow for a spear.

The chariot crashed into him, the long spiked axle gouging a bloody streak in his bear's flank. Then the riders of the respective creatures slammed into each other, halberds and spears flashing back and forth. The bear half climbed aboard the chariot, bellowing and slashing with its claws, but the armoured warriors on board held it back with well-aimed slashes at the rider. For a moment, it seemed as though the elf would be forced backwards by the sheer impetus of the charge. It wasn't to be, though, his will to fight was too great.

Still, Phlothos urged his sluggish warriors through a maze of flickering shadows. The stag riders lurked to the left, but too far off to reach.

On the far flank, the chariot continued its headlong flight from the treeline. Trees and chariots didn't mix well, the driver was clearly having second thoughts about his orders for the battle.

Big Wurm had no such second thought. Possibly not even first ones, beyond an urge to inflict pain. Howling like a demon, the giant leapt the river and scrambled into the trees.

Instantly, a whirling pack of tattooed fighters vaulted out to meet the monster. Nimble swords slit tendons, pinned one of its arms to a rotting tree and picked out its eyes. Big Wurm kept howling until the minute it pitched sideways into the river, taking a mass of vegetation with it as it collapsed. The wardancers tracelessly flitted back into the wood, gone as fast as they'd come.

The floating bulk of the Warshrine had thought to support Big Wurm's charge. But seeing the monster's fate, the Shrinemaster smiled to himself. He'd been wise to let the monster fall alone. Now the elves had revealed their position, and he could decide what to do about them.

Wood Elves - Turn 3

The Glade Lord was in desperate danger and the Wild Riders could no longer evade the enemy. Heedless of their own safety, they rode to the rescue and charged into the rear of the chariot.

Branwen the Beastsinger once again attempted to harness the winds of Ghur into the Amber Spear, and this time succeeded. Hefting the glowing golden javelin, she hurled it directly at the enemy’s longship warshrine. The shaft smashed through the hull, all but destroying the vessel, and yet it continued to limp on.

The arrows of the Ash Kindred were unable to match that feat, and not one of them were able to damage the warshrine further.

In the tangled mess of the chariot combat, Arth Mawr thrust his spear into the final charioteer and the war platform was beaten into matchwood.  Their rescue now unneeded, the Wild Riders urgently wheeled their steeds around, expecting the worst from the chariot’s diseased brethren.

Warriors of Chaos - Turn 4

Phlothos managed the first syllable of the order to charge, but choked on the rest. No matter - boosted by Morag's magic, his warriors were already bulging with restless new tumours and the desire to share them. It took little to urge them into the attack.

Behind them, the warmachines wheeled and spun. The chariot ceased its headlong flight now it was safe behind the tower. And the shrine listed away from the magical assault of the elves, limping back to support the headlong charge of the warriors.

But what a charge. Even as they powered home, light shone from the shrine, limning the three heroes at the front of the unit with unholy light. Thick plates of horn like giant fingernails sprouted out from Morag's robes. Phlothos's gut developed a snapping maw rimmed with savage teeth, and Boler's axe split into two smaller axes even as it fused with his arm.

Then they fell on the riders, hacking and slashing.

Fast as ever, the elves tried their best to slay Morag before she could further defile their waystone. But her armoured body was too tough to die despite the wounds they gave her. Boler roared a challenge, allowing the elf that accepted a moment's chance to spear him, then tearing the elf's face from his skull in seconds.

Phlothos contented himself with wrecking a mere pair of the feral riders with a single sweep of his weeping mace; his men finished the others.

And then they were through, the cavalry trampled and bloody in their wake, and only the injured general in their path.

Wood Elves - Turn 4

The Hounds of Kurnos had been crushed and the Glade Lord now faced the full weight of the Chaos army. The rest of the Wood Elves could do naught but watch from the forest and offer their prayers.

When the winds of magic blew, both spellcasters sent their aid to the combat. Taliesin reduced the fighting effectiveness of the Warriors with a debilitating Miasma; while Branwen used a Wildform to make her lord stronger and hardier than before.

Don't look now, but that proxied Wood Elf Spellsinger... is a Wood Elf Spellsinger!

As an encouragement to the contest, the Ash Kindred sent another volley at the flying warshrine, plucking out the navigator and sending the unholy craft crashing to the ground.

His wounded form rejuvenated by the magics, Arth Mawr faced the chaos warriors. From the centre of the regiment, an obese warrior carried on a palanquin of hideous gribblies oozed forth. Holding up a repulsive mace in a clear challenge, the other Warriors stood aside to allow the contest.

Arth struck first, his quick spear finding gaps in the slime-covered armour again and again. And yet the wounds healed almost as fast as he could inflict them, and only one of his blows stayed true. The Chaos hero fared worse. Dazzled by the Arth’s shining armour and nulled by the magical curses, he could not deliver the final blow. Neither of their steeds were able to add the contest, lacking the skill or the strength of their masters.

Even in the flurry of the contest, the Glade Lord weighed the situation: his task was not to win glory, but to draw the chaos forces away. If he ran, they would pursue him and be drawn away from the forest. With a sudden movement, the Great Bear twisted around and fled across the boneyard, leading the Warriors towards the swamp.

Sure enough, the chaos forces pursued. The chaos hero even fell off his palanquin as it tried to scrabble over the low wall. Arth heard him curse as he remounted the platform, and in the rush of the flight to safety, he heard no more.

Warriors of Chaos - Turn 5

Phlothos swore blindly as he regained the safety of his throne. Most of the wall had given way under the impact of the palanquin, let alone his own bulk, but the sudden arrest in momentum had almost thrown him onto the mortlock of a low-lying tomb just beyond. If it hadn't been for Morag's bountiful gifts, he'd have come a severe cropper.

He tried to goad his men on to catch the cowardly elven general. But the bear was now wading shoulder deep through thick mire. Pushing on to catch him would mean risking their armoured bulk to the unsteady ground, so the warriors were reluctant to close.

Far behind Phlothos, the chariot cowered behind the ruined tower. And try as she might, Morag simply couldn't penetrate the mystic defences the elven wizards were conjuring from the safety of their wood. Nothing she slung at the elven general reached its target.

Elves lay out of reach in all directions. Phlothos raged and retched in equal measures.

Wood Elves - Turn 5

Arth wheeled the Great Bear to a halt. The Warriors were now facing him, but dared not come closer. He raised his spear at them in defiance.

With nothing remaining to shoot, the Ash Kindred loosed a volley at the block of Warriors, but dropped only a few.

Branwen cast forth the Amber Spear once again, but even that mighty lance failed against the unnatural regenerative powers of the ruinous one. It stuck into the flank of a bloated warrior, vibrating slightly as he looked at it, slightly bemused, before dissipating entirely.

Warriors of Chaos - Turn 6

More stultifying sorceries rose around the band of warriors. They were going nowhere fast. Realising the elves were going to remain out of their reach, Phlothos resignedly settled back in his throne and rested his mace across his lap, where it seethed and drooled restlessly.

Morag tried one last time to lay a lasting pox on the Elven general where he squatted in the muck of the swamp, but to no avail.

"We must press on, Morag," Phlothos said. "This way is shut to us. The longer we wait here, the more of our men will perish to the elven bows. And we shall need them if we are to skirt the forest."

"You mean...?" Morag said.

"Yes," Phlothos said. "We must cross orc-infested plains to rejoin the road on the far side. Come, time is short."

Wood Elves - Turn 6

The Great Bear pawed at the swamp, churning the mud. Arth longed to charge into those ranks, and take the scalp of at least one of their champions. But he chose prudence instead, casting aside his spear and drawing his bow.

As if the waystone could sense the ruinous powers were being repulsed, the winds of magic blew stronger than ever. Branwen plucked  out another Amber Spear, but then overreached – the resulting explosion wounding her and killing one of her dryad bodyguard.

But infused with irresistible power, the  Amber Spear tore through the foul regiment, skewering four of the Warriors before finally coming to rest.

With his final shot, Arth’s burning arrow fell short against the Warriors, and the arrows of the Ash Kindred killed but a few. But with the promise of further punishment, the putrescent ones lost heart and turned slowly away from the forest.


12 : 8 - a narrow victory for the Wood Elves!


Arth Mawr looked at the mangled flesh and shattered antlers that had once formed the pride of the Wild Riders. His folly had brought them to this fate. Pride and folly. If he had not so recklessly chased glory, they would not have spent their lives to save his. Their spirits would now be carried back to the Oak of Ages, waiting to be reborn.

On the far side of the field, he could see the deep ruts in the ground, scars in the earth where the felled giant had dragged himself away. The Great Eagle was also a loss, but it was hard to mourn eagles. These noble beasts flew down from their mountain eyries to join every battle, but they seldom returned. He had never seen a death wish such as the one that possessed the eagles. It was as if they knew the end was coming.

The Sycamore Kindred were already composing a new dance to celebrate their victory over the behemoth. Several Wardancers were standing on each other's shoulders, mocking the clumsy swaying of the brute as it fell to their blades. In truth, they had been lucky to survive the onslaught. Their losses had been slight, and the enemy had been repulsed. This victory belonged not to Kurnos, but Isha.

Both Branwen and Taliesin were busy at the waystone, re-aligning its power, purging it of the corruption. It would continue to stand on the borders of Tywyll Coedwig and, as long as there were elves to defend it, the Forest of Gloom would not suffer invaders.

Aftermath and notes

Swiftly and with style

Well, things sort-of went to plan, and that resulted in a sort-of victory. When I saw the Chaos list, my plan was the delay the Warrior regiment while I cleaned up everything else. I was prepared to spend my Wild Riders (and even my Lord, provided he could claim a few points doing so) to achieve that aim - so when Kraken started counter-manoeuvring against the Wild Riders, I had exactly what I wanted.

The hitch in the plan (and this is 'Shiny New Model Syndrome' in evidence) was that the Glade Lord wasn't as fast, or expendable, as the Wild Riders. I should have just kept him in the deployment zone, ready to counter-charge, but I wanted to get stuck in. The Wild Riders were doing a fine job of confounding the Chaos Warriors, and only got compromised when they had to rescue him - I just couldn't risk losing all his points against the Chariot.

That said, I still like the idea of a rampaging Great Bear - I think I'll make him a Glade Captain next time, so he gains an extra wound from his mount, and is a little more expendable than a general.

As for everything else: the Glade Guard with Trueflights made a useful fire base, although I needed their volume of fire to get past the high toughness and armour of everything (Kraken's toughness boosts were often redundant here, as I needed 6s to wound regardless).

The Dryads didn't see any action, unless you counted the one who got blown up at the end (I swear - my wizards are in the most danger when I roll a massive amount of power dice in the sixth magic phase). They might have made good flankers, if it ever came to combat - although they were mostly there so I didn't spend more Core points on archers.

In their brief cameo, Wardancers impressed me - they were lucky, I suppose, to get exactly the right amount of wounds needed to kill the Giant before he could strike back, but with their 3+ Wards and Stubborn, I was confident they'd see it through anyway. I'd like to take these out for another spin, to see what else they can do.

The Shadowdancer didn't get to do much, other than convince me that a Lv1 Shadow is a useful little addition, just to bug the enemy with a constant stream of Miasma.

From the perspective of my opponent, the thing that really frightened me in the list was the Nurgle Magic - with so many toughness-related spells in there, it looked like it would really be an elf-killer. Every magic phase I made it through, I breathed a sigh of relief (I was allowing mostly buffs and hexs to get through - anything to avoid Rancid Visitations going off).

Luckily, most of this was directed against my Wild Riders, who I'd decided were expendable. If Kraken had parked his Warrior unit in front of the woods and started bombarding my other units with magic, I might have come unstuck.

But a good game - some unexpected directions and a few nail-biters.

For my part, I came away with a rather guilty and sickened feeling that had nothing to do with the stench of Nurgle.

Firstly, putting Mark of Tzeentch on the Warshrine. It damaged my fluff aura, clearly why it totally failed the first ward save it got. That 4-wound hit from the Amber Spear meant it was almost certainly going to drop to the massed arrow fire, and it didn't disappoint there.

Secondly, hiding my chariot.

I usually go in all guns blazing, and damn it if I lose anyway. By hiding the chariot (and okay, it's perfectly sensible to do so, especially if it's going to have to charge into woods to get any targets), I may have deprived Stylus of a few VPs. But so what? A loss is a loss, and actually I would rather have had a last vainglorious fight than skulk pitifully at the back doing nothing.

(Which may be why I usually get tabled, but stuff it! Death or glory, say I.)

Probably, I'd have done better putting both chariots on my left flank together, where they could have tied up the Wild Riders while the footsloggers trundled towards the puny elves in the forest. Putting all your eggs in one basket makes it very easy to make them extremely missile-resilient, even at the expense of some magical firepower.

Speaking of which, even if I never managed to damage anyone with a Nurgle spell (again!), the magic phases all felt tense. I could almost smell Stylus's sweat over the bandwidth of Skype every time I declared a Rancid Visitations, so kudos for him for stymying my attempts to cast it.



i.e. Game-stuff  I need to remember: the Wardancers could have re-rolled 1s to wound in the forest. Not that it made a difference, but given they only *just* did enough wounds to kill the giant, I need to remember this.

It's *possible* the Wild Riders could have saved the General by using their post-Chariot reform to angle themselves away - so the Chaos Warriors would still have hit them in the front, but overran past the Glade Lord, rather than straight into him. The map suggests I could have done it; what I saw on the Skype screen suggests otherwise, but it's something I should bear in mind (I was vaguely aware of it, because I was babbling "I want to reform ... cleverly" but couldn't articulate any actual instructions on how this should be done).

It occurs to me that the Glade Lord shouldn't have been able to shoot the Starfire Arrow that wounded the chariot, because he'd just marched - my bad (though it didn't make a difference - the chariot wouldn't have survived the Wild Rider onslaught). I'm sure this is the first edition where lone characters 'march' (they used to 'run' or something, which made shooting possible).

Meh. Chaos Chariots are wonderfully resilient, I didn't mind this at all.

However, according to a hastily-checked FAQ, Monstrous Calvary always used the highest Wounds *and* Toughness - so that was a T4 my general was missing out on. That could come in handy.

This was also news to me, and meant Phlothos had twice as many wounds as I thought! No wonder Palanquins are so expensive. In retrospect, this might have made a difference in the recent Dark Elf fight, but probably not enough to count for much.

And kudos to General Kraken on some very sporting behaviour: firstly letting me take a belated Arrow of Kurnos shot when I forgot about it (and it wounded! again!); and secondly offering to re-start the Exalted/Glade Lord combat when we began it completely forgetting both protagonists had been Miasma'd and Wildformed.

Regrettably, I forgot to be as generous when Kraken realised he'd forgotten to add a command group to his Chaos Warriors - I could have suggested something simple and immediate: replacing a couple of Warriors for command (the reason it didn't occur to me was because I'd assumed it was a clever ruse to deny me challenges). Not only did it stop him swift reforming, which made his Chaos Warriors more sluggish than usual, but I now realise it meant his Sorcerer Lord was in the front rank (when it could have been pushed to the back, away from Wild Riders attack). So apologies for that, I owe you a do-over.

Righto, I'll chalk up another draw for the boys then. Actually I'm always quite happy to have characters in the front rank. Having full command plus three characters, one on a whacking great big La-Z-Boy, would have relegated at least the musician to the second rank, and that feels wrong to me. Chaos characters should be proudly in the front rank, mocking your opponent with their massive armour saves and wibbly tentacles.

A good fight, all-in-all! Trying out the VP20 system gave us a result that seemed to fit the match well - victory to the elves, but not an overwhelming one.

Phlothos and his men will return in the future as we narrate his continued march to the Dwarven city of Karaz-a-Karak, with the additional battle feature of secret objectives which we're both keen to try. Stay tuned as he struggles through Savage-Orc-packed badlands!


  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged that giving me 11 power dice in the final magic phase is a sure path to Irresistible Force.

    Other than that, I agree - the magic phases felt more tactical than before (either we learned something from the Wizard's Cup, or I was so terrified of the Nurgle deck it focussed my attention).

    Looking forward to bringing out the Savage Orcs - let's see you try that toughness-spell shenanigans on them!

    1. Okay! d6 S5 hits for a mere ten points to cast seems like a decent magic missile to me, even if it doesn't repeat on them.

      Perhaps we can get some Giant-on-Giant action going too? The internet is dying for more of that. Just don't type it into a search engine.