Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Woffboot IX: The Generals: Kraken

Yes! Actual physical attendance was achieved, after a three-year absence. That is such a result for me that my actual placement in the tournament felt entirely secondary. Which was pretty apt, given that I came second.

As my army returns to its Swedish locker, having survived a two-way battering from Ryanair with only minor fractures, I shall record my post-match analysis and thoughts. No big battle write-ups for two reasons:

  • I didn't take any photos or notes, so it's all a bit blurry
  • I took Archaon, and writing any sort of narrative based on him is just going to be lousy fanfic. There'd be a bit where he makes out with Alarielle, for example, and nobody wants to read my take on that. As I know from countless rejection letters. 


Archaon on Dorghar - All his usual kit and the Lore of Metal
Splodge - BSB Exalted Hero of Nur
gle, Mark of Nurgle, Halberd, Scaly Skin and Hideous Visage
Chaos Chariot - Mark of Khorne
14 Chaos Warriors - Shields, Full Command, Mark of Nurgle
5 Marauder Horsemen - Full Command, Mark of Slaanesh, Shields, Throwing Axes, Spears
5 Chaos Knights - Full Command, The Swords of Chaos, Ensorcelled Weapons

Ar! Ka! On!
We Will Do Our Best!

So, yeah, Archaon. Given that we're just through the whole terminal debacle of the End Times, it felt entirely apt to bring the big Archvillain himself along. It was a toss-up between Death and Metal for his magic, and in the end I felt Metal was less situational and more generally useful, with some solid combat hexes and augments along with decent if unexceptional shooting power.

Once I'd done that, I managed to squeeze a fairly bland BSB in to look after the core troops once their glorious leader rushed off elsewhere, but that was it for characters.

A pack of Nurgle Warriors, a Khorne Chariot, my beloved Slaaneshi Horsemen - I probably should have taken Tzeentch as the Knights' mark for completion. But the Swords of Chaos, giving them Hatred and Immune to Psych, seemed just as good.

Really, they were there as the most expensive ablative armour imaginable, as I could use them to soak any self-inflicted hits Archaon's sword provided. Taking just five is too few to make them a survivable threat otherwise, but they're certainly a fast and powerful unit that worries people in their own right.


1. vs Host of the Eternity King - Chop Off All the Heads and the Body will Die

Alarielle is a pain in the arse, and no mistake! All that regeneration, plus the usual hideousness of trying to pin down fast cav whilst being shot at. The predictions from the sidelines (and indeed my own) were against me.

I knew my only chance was to run in, get Archaon to fight her and hope her Burning Poke of Doom didn't finish the fight early. I was also dreading the fact that Kas, who's an extremely able general, had a grudge against me from three years ago.

I was lucky. Deployment saw my hapless Marauder Horsemen face down the Doomfire Warlocks, killing one with a throwing axe before getting run over by the Black Riders. But on the other side of the field, the Knights plus Archaon charged a hydra, murdered it and overran into Alarielle's unit, where she spent three rounds regenerating all the damage I did to her before succumbing to Archaon's might.

The luck was that during that showdown, Kas's Frostheart Phoenix failed an easy charge into the back of the fight. By the time it arrived, Alarielle was a goner and Archaon chased it off. The elven fast cav spent a lot of time kiting my chariot over cliffs rather than rushing back to help their boss, and I was very glad of it. I never dealt with them, but the points I took were more than enough for a solid win. A Bodyguard boast, to keep Archaon alive, was icing on the cake, and provided an early upset in form to boost my own morale!

Result - 15:5 (1457:669)

2. vs Wood Elves - Treebeard's Revenge

More elves. Bah.

Not my favourite foe, as well as my own grudge against Stylus to settle. So I was delighted when he generously set up directly opposite my speedy cavalry in a nice thin line. I was into combat by turn two, and started out very well as a result.

Thing is, hitting a wood elf line is kind of like kicking a dandelion. Yes, you blow it up, but you spray tiny fluffy seeds everywhere, and they can be a real pain. Archaon managed to blow up all his knights with a miscast on the way in, then frenzied right out the other side of the elves. He spent most of the rest of the fight trying to manouver back into the game, and it proved the same for everyone else.

I managed to tempt Durthu into a fight with some poorly placed Chaos Warriors, who stubbornly held him up as he tore their champions to bits. Some heroic redirection from the only Horseman to make it that far saved them from a Wild Rider rescue charge, and then Archaon arrived to deal with the big lug.

Which he did! But he got fairly beaten up in return, so much so that the Wood Elves took his last wound with an Awakening of the Wood (boosted by Throne of Vines). Loss of the boss cost me the game by a good margin, but it was a great match - it went back and forth a lot, with plenty of planes, trains and automobiles  thrills, spills and dimensional cascades to entertain the spectators.

Result - 14:6 (1855:1145)

3. vs Tomb Kings - Run for Mummy

I'd never fought these guys before, so didn't really know what to expect against them. General East was amicably predicting his own defeat, as he doesn't feel it's the most competitive army around. But I didn't fancy seeing what a massive pack of chariots would do to any of my units either, and undead can take a lot of killing before they stop coming back.

But East's prediction was pretty accurate in the end. I lost my Marauders in their hopeless attempt to distract his flank for a turn, and the horrific power of the Casket of Souls took out the chariot in the first turn. But Archaon and his knights dealt with the Warsphinx on the undead's other flank, then looped round into the chariot flank. Of all the generals Archaon duelled with (almost all of them), the nameless Tomb King was the least fair fight, and although I never caught up with or dealt with the rest of the army, with its heart gone I'd taken the win.

Result - 14:6 (986:639)

4. vs Skaven - Rat Fondue 

General Kas had selected this list for Leofa, and it was a splendid example of his facility with power building. I was dreading it, it had been thrashing everyone else quite happily throughout the weekend, and I didn't see it how I could stop it doing the same. From other matches, the Skitterleaping Verminlord was going to be a real threat, although a lot of the points were also stashed safely in the Stormvermin horde. How to deal with both?

Especially when I also needed to win by at least 16:4 to pip Leofa to first place in the tournament! As the last match of the weekend, it was going to have to be decisive.

Instead, it was a horrifically bloody grinder. I got a great first turn, turning a whole rank of Stormvermin into gold with Final Transmutation, and plonked the Horsemen directly in front of Leofa's army, ready to flee after they failed to snipe the ratling gunner with axes.

In the event, though, they didn't flee! Instead, they held and lured the Verminlord and Stormvermin further forward. And died instantly, of course, but their job was done. The rest of my army weathered the magic and shooting phases, then managed to close the gap without getting shot up too much. Although the Lightning Cannon could easily have killed Archaon on top of the half the Warrior unit in its first shot, and I was holding my breath for a while. I managed to frontally engage the Chaos Knights into the Stormvermin, trusting in their armour, whilst Archaon took on the Verminlord.

But the Verminlord was an able opponent. I reckoned I could take it, but I had to stop it skitterleaping away while I did so. This was my focus in the magic phase so much that I let through some kind of Plague Cloud spell that wiped out most of my army instead! But paying that cost did let my whittle, chase off and finally catch and kill the verminous horror.

Elsewhere, I'd cheesily summoned Skull Chariots of Khorne in to provide my own shooting phase. It was lucky I did - the loss of the Knights to the plague cloud meant they'd have swept in to support the Verminlord, and the first cannon had to ram their rear to keep them busy. It popped, but took a lot of the rats with it first, and Archaon managed to provide a second one to finish them and their characters off.

I won, but only just. The meat grinder basically saw everything but Archaon and the Stormfiends (who'd burrowed in behind me and played catch-up throughout, probably much to their own relief) dead.

Result: 11:9 (1669:1424)

Overall Position: Second Place

Locker Room

Relaxing in the post-match bubbles-of-reality bath, I rated my troops.

Archaon was by far and away the best thing I had. A swiss knife of a general, he's got great versatility. But it's his horrific durability that makes him so deadly. Everyone else was reduced to either trying to nerf him before sucking him into an instant-kill spell, which is a crapshoot even in a magic-heavy game, or trying to avoid him. By the end of the weekend, spectators were chanting along with "he takes a wound, he's got a three plus ward save, he's okay", and I lost track of how many times I gleefully reminded people of his all-terrain Strider ability.

Combat monster that he is, he can't finish off high-toughness things very quickly, although he can certainly grind them down over time. His only down side is that picking him made me feel rather dirty (especially when taking advantage of demon summoning), and the soap of victory soon rinsed that off.

Final Rating - Cheeos Lord

The Chaos Warriors and BSB were a solid pick as ever, although they were generally too slow to see as much action as I wanted. When they got in, they were their usual relentless delight. Otherwise, they still picked up enough flak to deflect magical and shooting attacks from the rest of the army. That's the nice thing about Chaos, even the small units alarm the foe. They always ended up lower than half points or less, and a larger unit would have been less crumbly, but I couldn't afford it.

Final Rating - Cheshire Cheese

Disappointingly, the Chariot generally did little. Other than crushing the skaven artillery, it never managed to get into combat and got either shot to death or kited harmlessly around the battlefield. For a Khornate beserker, it certainly seemed flappy and ineffectual in most of the games. But I can't really complain about it either, my opponents' lists were much faster and shootier than mine and lacked the nice big infantry cushions a chariot likes to land in.
Final Rating - Kraft Slice

Slaaneshi Marauder Horsemen are my new favourite. Okay, they were never more than a tiny, short-lived irritation to the foe. But ignoring panic tests meant they usually saw a bit of action, and everybody always rose to swat them away, which bought the rest of the army time. Especially against the Skaven, where they died to set up the rat ranks for a counter-charge. Tiny, cheap and surprisingly sharp, I would always consider bringing them to the battlefield for their versatility and annoyance factor.

Final Rating - Mini Babybel

The Chaos Knights. Ah, the Chaos Knights. Well, I took them as ablative armour for Archaon, and they certainly did that. I took a totally irresponsible approach to terrain with them, rubbing them into fences, cliffs and woods with gay abandon. When their leader wasn't smiting them with his sword, the scenery was usually accounting for them, scoring at least 20% of the unit in every fight! They died to a man in all four games, usually to magic or shooting.

But I expected that, really. A five-man pack is much too small, even for heavily armour. And I really should have invested in a Ranger's Banner if I wanted them to romp about in difficult terrain all the time, but I just couldn't afford it. I suppose the did well enough when they saw action, for example beating the Stormvermin horde in a frontal charge despite bringing only 4/5 of their number in, but otherwise they were probably a bit too expensive to use as a shield. Archaon was plenty durable without his rather soft and sloppy minions.

Final Rating - Curds and Whey

Last Thoughts

Overall, the army worked very well, and I'm delighted to have come second against some very tough lists! And the Tomb Kings.

But let's be honest, I could almost have left all of them bar Archaon at home and still got similar results. For matches in our EndBoot, when most of the others had dirty, dirty generals too, it seemed entirely appropriate. But I'd feel like I was reneging on my sworn Fluff Roots taking him along otherwise.

Magically, I shall be very relieved if I never have to play another End Times game for either magic or list selection. Good old 8th ed with a meagre 2d6 for Winds of Magic is by far and away my favourite way to play. At least until 9th ed turns up, anyway! And though I look to that future with a great degree of sceptical eye-rolling, there's no reason to expect it to be any worse, more broken or mismatched than WFB already is. We love it despite its flaws, always have, and the rules nit-picking and revising is half the game.

Roll on next year!


  1. "Kicking a dandelion" - a very good way to describe Warriors of Chaos vs Wood Elves.

    Awesome battle. Only a shame someone had to lose.
    (it would have never happened to Phlothos)

    1. Well, if someone had to lose, I'm glad it was Archaon. Hats off to the only tree to stump him in the whole weekend!