Saturday, 26 July 2014

Battle Report: High Elves Vs Vampire Counts 1500pts

It's Battle Report Time!

That's right. So I'm finally making a return to the blog (and to the beloved hobby in general) and doing so by playing Doombringer himself, in this instance WFB where my noble High Elves will be heroically facing off against the devious Vampire Counts. So without further ado, on with the show!

First points of note, the table played on is not quite as wide as a standard table, therefore the action kicks off very quickly, leading to shorter, but still very bloody battles.
Second is that we will both be including personal reflections in the report to show the thought behind the battle. Mine will be in red, and Doombringer's will be in green.

The Battle

Armies: Vampire Counts & High Elves
Army Size: 1500pts
Scenario: Dawn Attack

The Lists

Vampire Counts:
Countess Victoria van Fell - Vampire -- Lv2 Flying Horror, Heavy Armour, Dread Knight
Skistrik Turncloak - Necromancer -- Lv2, Dispel Scroll

20 Skeletons -- Spears, Full Command
20 Skeletons -- Full Command
20 Zombies
10 Ghouls -- Crypt Ghast

3 Spirit Hosts
Corpse Cart
5 Hexwraiths -- Hellwraith
3 Vargheists

Terrorgheist -- Infested, Rancid Maw

The Nighmare Host of the 7th Dynasty

My army lists are rarely written with much tactical though behind them, perhaps owing to my tendency to buy models I like or that fit a theme rather than are useful. Today however I did write the list with a few things in mind; namely to try out several new units that I had never tried before: Ghouls, Varghiests, Hexwraiths and a flying Vampire. The army evolved over a few drafts into a few large blocks of infantry supported by flying and ethereal units which will hopefully help me to outmanoeuvre my opponent. Not sure how good a flying Vampire will be as a general but the Necromancer is a must. 

Whilst my army is larger than my opponent's I am wary of the Swordsmasters and Phoenix Guard who will be difficult to kill and could easily kill more than their points worth of the undead. I made sure at least one of my casters got Raise Dead which will help me flood the board with undead; while the elves may be able to cut through my units with ease they will be unable to do so forever and an inconveniently placed raised unit could redirect or stall his elite whilst I get my monsters and ethereal units into place.

High Elves:
Loremaster -- Book of Hoeth, Armour of Silvered Steel (2+ save)
Noble -- Battle Standard Bearer, Shrieking Blade (Cause fear)
Illinaith (Mage) -- Lvl 2, Dispel Scroll

15 Spearmen -- Full Command
10 Archers
5 Ellyrion Reavers -- Musician, bows (no spears)

15 Phoenix Guard -- Full Command, Gleaming Pennant
10 Sword Masters -- Full Command
5 Shadow Warriors

The Loremaster gets all the BRB signature spells (as ever)
Illinaith rolls Apotheosis and exchanges Walk between Worlds for Soul Quench

For my list, the Loremaster is there because he seemed interesting and I wanted to try him out. The BSB is because you should never leave home without one and the extra mage for a back up just in case. It's a lot of heroes, but hopefully it should pay off. The Loremaster is a very flexible caster and pretty good in a fight with a 2+ save. The Noble's taken the cause fear sword a) to make his unit immune to the Vampire's fear, which is pretty common, and b) to be able to hurt ethereal units. I don't want them getting tarpitted by Spirit Hosts. I should have a solid main block with the Guard and the Spears, with some cheap distraction units to redirect/maybe assassinate any lone characters that look vulnerable. I swapped for Soul Quench because I'm going to need magic missiles to clear out Hosts and Hexwraiths. 


The Vampires win the roll off and choose to deploy first.

Due to the Dawn Attack deployment rules, the Zombies, Ghouls, Vargheists and Spirit Hosts all end up on the Right Flank. Nothing rolls left flank and everything else is deployed in the middle, with the Vampire choosing to be there.

Having my army concentrated largely on the right flank posed a lot of potential problems such as leaving me open to a left flank attack or having half my army too far from the battle to be of any use. My vampire was forced into the middle position from which I could hopefully choose where she could fly to to be of most use.

The Terrorgheist and Hexwraiths are the furthest left, with the Skeletons forming the central base for the deployment. The right flank is stacked up on the deploment line to minimise the time it will take to move centrally, hoever the Ghouls (with the Hosts behind them) are left furthest out to the side. Skisrik is in Skel1 unit, and the Countess is deployed seperately, behind the main skeleton block.

For the High Elf deployment a similar thing occurs in that nothing is deployed on the left flank (suprisingly neither of us rolled 1's. A turnout for the books). The Spears (with BSB) and the Eagle both end up on the right flank but everything else rolled for a central deployment (with the Archers + Illinaith choosing to be there)

The Guard (with Loremaster) are the central unit, with the Archers next to them and the SMs behind. The Bolt Thrower deployed on the hill and the Reavers were out to the left of the main deployment. The Eagle is the furthest out to my right flank and the SWs scouted up the right flank as well.

As it stood then, I was happy with the deployment. A large portion of the Vampire force was stranded on their far flank and I could pretty much ignore them for a large while. If they started advancing quickly I planned to use the Reavers to stall them draw them away. Looking back, the archers should have been next to the bolt thrower, both for better sight-lines and to stop my SMs being stuck at the back. There was little ranged threat coming for me so I no longer needed to protect the SMs as much. Other than that, I was in a good place to focus on the non-ethereal portion of the Vamp force. The absence of those Hosts was really going to help my advance. 

Deployment was not looking good for me, much of my army was on the wrong side of the board! I could move my vampire over to my right flank to allow the distant units to advance but it would leave my central forces facing the formidable elven elite supported by only a lowly necromancer. I rapidly became very unsure as to how best to engage my enemy and I think this led to more than one poor decision...

I roll to choose the first turn and fail. The Vamps choose to go first.

Vampires Turn 1

Start of Turn 1

  • The far right flank (which is out of the general's march range) shuffle forward slowly, the ghouls holding up the hosts
  • The Zombies go straight for the Reavers
  • The Vamp mounts the central terrain piece for a commanding view (I think in part because it looked cool) 
  • The Varghouls fly into the middle, facing off against the Guard
  • The Hexes can't march either, but also advance into the middle of the board
  • Skel2 goes to support the Hexes, Skel 1 backs up the Varghouls
  • The Terrorgheist moves right up into my face
  • A measly 5 power dice are rolled, giving me 3 dispel (4 with a successful channel from Illinaith)
  • Skisrik doesn't hesitate and throws all his dice into a top level Raise Dead and succeeds on a 27. He does however, roll no less than four 6's, and promptly miscasts.
  • The effect is that he raises 10 skeletons (Skel3) slap bang in front of my Guard, but then rolls a Calamitous Detonation, wounding himself and killing 3 (out of 5 impressively) skeletons from his own unit 
  • The Terrorgheist screams horrifically at the Bolt Thrower, causing 5 wounds and killing it outright. Thankfully for me, the Guard pass their panic check
I think I was overly worried about the High Elf shooting phase and didn't want to waste several turns manoeuvring my Terrorgheist so went straight forward. I was already waiting on my right flank to move up and I didn't want my precious Terrorgheist to get shot (thus reducing the effectiveness of it's scream) whilst it spent a turn or two getting into position. I could protect it's flank from the elven elites by summoning a new unit right in front of them but it was left wide open to attack from the left...

High Elves Turn 1

  • The Elves make a bold opening with the Spears (+BSB) charging the Terrorgheist in the flank
  • The Eagle swoops round the right flank, with the SWs also advancing on the same position
  • Archers swivel slightly to give Ilinaith a better line of sight
  • The Reavers on the far flank retreat a little to prolong the time before they have to engage
  • The Guard and the SMs draw up a (very aesthetically pleasing) battle line in the centre
  • Once more the winds of magic blow meekly and only 4 power dice are generated (3 going into the dispel pool of the Vampires
  • The Loremaster starts slow, easily casting a fireball at the Hexes on a 7, but it is dispelled
  • Following this, the remaining dice are thrown into a Burning Gaze again from the Loremaster to the Hexes. It is cast with 2 dice, and I roll boxcars, casting but incurring a miscast as well.
  • The Burning Gaze hits 4 Hexes, wounding and killing 3. After this has occurred the Loremaster having burnt his eyes out (appropriately due to the Eltharion model I used) loses all his wizard levels and forgets how to cast
  • Sensing an opportunity, both the SWs and the Archers open fire on the Vampire. In total they score 5 hits out of their 14 shots, the Archers wound with one of their arrows and the Countess fails her save leaving her wounded but not dead. (On reflection, not the greatest idea to put her up there exposed regardless of how dramatic it looks)
  • The Reavers, being out of range of the Countess, lease their arrows on the Corpse Cart, with the 1 hit they score failing to even scratch it
  • And so the first combat of the game begins on a poor foot for the High Elves. The Spearmen fail their fear test on a double 6 (of course), reroll because of the BSB and get a 10. This is a failure because despite being in range of the general, a Loremaster is only LD9.
  • The BSB manages to hit the beast twice, but does nothing.
  • The Spearmen however, despite only hitting 5 times, cause 3 wounds of which only 1 is saved
  • The Terrorgheist hits back, killing 3 with its regular attacks and 5 with its stomp
  • Despite losing badly, thanks to the flank charge and BSB combat resolution, the Spears only lose combat by 1 and easily pass the test to remain engaged

End of Turn 1
At the bottom of turn 1 I'm feeling a little worried. The Guard and the SMs are boxed in by that new unit which led to the Spears charging in solo. Thanks to my poor deployment of the SMs, they were unable to engage the new Skel unit, leaving me stuck in my deployment zone. I didn't want to engage with the Loremaster as I needed him to fling some Magic around and deal with the Hexes, which he did at the cost of his own usefulness. I can still fight with him but I'm going to miss that magic badly. Also I badly underestimated the Terrorgheist and I'm writing off the spears at this point. 

I am, however, relieved that the Vampire remained central. I had expected it to fly to the right flank to speed their advance (by allowing them to march), which would have meant they'd be on me quite quickly. As it was, the Vampire right flank is still a write off in my opinion, which is good news.

I still have my best units to commit to the fight, but there's a large body of Vamps waiting and the big gribblies are wearing me down, I've already lost one of my two main centre units, hopefully their sacrifice won't be in vain.

The far flank
I successfully removed the Bolt Thrower before it could do any serious damage and I managed to stall the Swordsmasters and Phoenix Guard with a new unit of skeletons. However, my Terrorgheist was under attack and my right flank was nowhere near close to helping out my centre. Even if The Euphemism is feeling a little worried I know how fragile my units can be and he is yet to commit his best units which will likely make mincemeat out of my troops. I just need my Terrorgheist to hold the left flank and wait for my right flank to catch up so I can engage the elven elite with as many units as possible. I just need more time.

Vampires Turn 2

  • No charges are declared, perhaps shockingly
  • Skel3 moves even closer to pin the Guard and SMs in place
  • On the right flank the hosts leapfrog over the Ghouls, but otherwise everything just shambles forwards
  • The Vars swoop one the vortex, facing the Reavers. The new unit I raised stalled the elven elite for a turn but also prevented my Vargheists from closing with the enemy. I decided I would risk flying them away from the combat and spending a turn or turn repositioning them. 
  • Skel1 moves closer to the SMs while Skel2 wheels to face the SWs
  • The Vamp dismounts her terrain pieces and moves forward slightly, remaining central to the army
  • The last 2 Hexes run through the spears, hitting twice and killing 1.
Vargheists balanced expertly on the vortex
  • This time, an almighty 2 power dice are summoned (It was a magic-filled game this one), putting 1 in the dispel pool and giving 3 power dice thanks to a successful channel
  • All 3 dice are rolled on a low power Raise dead with Skisrik and is successful on an 11 (it goes undispelled)
  • 11 Zombies are raised right in front of the Archers
  • The Terrorgheist screams at the spears again, killing 1
  • This time round the Spears pass their fear check.
  • The Noble hits with all his attacks and wounding once while the remaining spears manage to cause another wound, leaving it on 2 remaining
  • The Terrorgheist strikes back, killing 2 with its attacks and a third with its stomp.
  • Thanks to the BSB and the unit's banner, the Spears win combat by 2, causing the Terrorgheist to crumble to death! I had hoped for it to survive another turn but now it opened up my left flank and left my vampire exposed.
  • As a last gasp, the Terrorgheist's infested rule causes 8 hits and 4 wounds on the triumphant Spears. After 2 successful saves the BSB is the only survivor.

Desolation surrounds the BSB

High Elves Turn 2

  • Charges galore this turn as the Guard hit Skel3, the SMs hit the newly raised Zombies and (most importantly) the BSB makes a long charge into the wounded Countess
  • The Reavers fail their march check, but move up towards the large Zombie unit, trying to stay out of the Vargheist's charge arch.
  • The Eagle flies straight into the middle of the enemy backfield
  • The Archers shuffle to the side slightly 
  • The SWs back up a little, hoping to lure Skel2 further away from the main fight
  • This time 9 power dice are generated, 6 going in the dispel pool. (Sadly, this is after my most flexible caster is lost to me, so I only have 2 spells to spend them on)
  • I put 4 dice into Soul Quench against the Corpse Cart. Shockingly, no dispel attempt is made, but I cause no wounds. The Corpse Cart had become useless to me now with my Necromancer and Vampire otherwise occupied. It may have been of greater use if it had been deployed differently or if I had added another caster.
  • I discard the remaining 5 dice (my bluff worked, I didn't have anything to cast my other spell on, but leaving dice behind convinced the Vamps that I had something up my sleeve)
  • The SWs kill 1 skeleton from Skel2
  • The Reavers kill one Zombie
  • The Archers cause 1W on the Cart after it saves the other 
  • The SMs pass their fear check and slice apart 7 Zombies. In return, the Zombies drag down 1 SM. The remaining Zombies crumble into dust and the SMs overrun into Skisrik's Skeleton unit
  • The Guard (+ Loremaster) kill 9 of the skeletons in front of them, leaving one behind who fails to do even hit before crumbling into the dirt. The Guard do not overrun into the Vampire (unfortunately)
  • Onto the main event. The BSB (not needing a fear test because of his sword) hits the Countess with 2 of his three attacks. He only needs one wound. Which he gets. The Countess has a 6+ save (her heavy armour is reduced by the BSB's S4)....which she fails on a 3, falling to the victorious Elf BSB! 
  • Skisrik assumes control of the Vampire force to prevent crumbling
End of Turn 2
Things have gone horribly wrong. My right flank is continuing to be useless and my Terrorghiest has fallen. My battle lines have broken leaving me open to attack as and when the elves wish. The risk I took moving my Vargheists has resulted in them being unable to help stave off the Swordsmasters. My general has died and the only thing keeping my army together is a feeble necromancer about to fight the best of Hoeth. The Dawn Attack has evidently dazzled my vampire generals.

The weakened Vampire is charged by the triumphant Noble
This was always going to be a fairly good turn for me as I was committing elite Elves against Zombies and Skeletons and the combats went as well as expected. I'm pleased to have overrun the SMs into the Necromancer however as now his fate is pretty much sealed.

Of course the major point was the BSB's victory over the Countess! I was in two minds about whether to send him in, or to turn him round to deal with the Hexes with his magic weapon, but in the end the drama decided it for me! It was a lot closer than it looked actually as there was a real chance he wouldn't take that last wound off her, and if that was the case he wasn't going to survive the return strikes. However the good triumph and his heroic charge through the Vampire army continues, leaving me in a position to completely behead the Undead and leave them to crumble.

I should also note that I was surprised that Skel2 chased the SWs (as they weren't doing anything productive), taking a large tarpit out of action. Also that the Vargheists didn't charge, say, the archers as those things can hurt and them not committing just meant that I crushed the centre in one turn. 

Vampires Turn 3

  • The Hosts declare a charge on the Reavers, who flee. The Hosts fail their charge and glide forward 6", whilst the Reavers flee 10" straight through the Vargheists who kill two Elves as they flee past them
  • No other charges are declared and the rest of the Vampires continue their implacable advance forwards
  • The Skel2 unit continues to pursue the SWs while the Hexes and Vargheists reform to face the Elves in the centre of the field
  • An impressive 10 power dice are rolled, putting 6 in the dispel pile.
  • 6 dice go on an 18+ level Invocation, casting on a 21. I fail to dispel it with an 18
  • The result is: Skel2 gains 4 guys, Skel1 gets 5, the Cart is healed full , the Zombies gain 3 and Skisrik recovers his lost wound (because of the Lore attribute)
  • Nothing else is cast
  • The SMs pass their fear test and kill 13 Skeletons. Skisrik and the remaining skels cause no wounds and all crumble into dust.
At the end of this phase the Vampire army is leaderless and begins to crumble. Every unit starts losing guys (or wounds in the case of the Cart) except the Vargheists and the Ghouls (who pass their LD test). The last Hexwraiths crumble to dust, dying completely.

So it begins, the great crumbling of our age.
I knew this was coming as soon as the Countess died and my necromancer was locked in combat with the Swordsmasters. He really stood no chance at all. This is every undead generals worst nightmare and something I never really suffered playing Tomb Kings as Arkhan the Black usually died on the last turn before crumbling could affect the battle. Unfortunately the battle has been decided in the High Elves favour now and there is little I can do about it.

High Elves Turn 3

  • The Reavers rally, and no charges are declared
  • The centre turns to face the remaining Vampires, with Illinaith and Gallion joining the SMs
  • The SWs continue backing off, the Reavers move to flank and the Eagle swoops behind the ghouls

  • 6 power dice are rolled, with 5 going to the dispel pool
  • Soul Quench is cast with 4 dice on the Vargheists (no dispel attempt was made) and it causes 3 wounds, which kills one of them outright
  • Mostly inconsequential, the Archers do 1W to the Cart
There is no combat

End of Turn 3
A pretty important turn, as it marked the start of the crumbling of the Vampires. I wasn't too worried about this as I would be shocked to see the SMs lose that combat. I'm surprised that Skel2 kept chasing the SWs (I think at this point it was more of a vengeance thing than necessity) and it did stop a flank charge that could have spelt the end of the SMs. 80pts well spent on those SWs. Now it's just a job of cleaning up the rest of the dead.

Vampires Turn 4

Crumble: The Cart dies outright. Everything else dwindles with the ghouls doing the best, only losing 1

  • the Vargheists charge the SMs to try and get an important kill from Illinaith or Gallion
  • Everything else just shuffles on
  • Gallion causes 1W, the SMs do 7 which kills all of the Vargheists outright before they can strike
  • The SMs continue their heroic charge through the Vampires with a 9" overrun
A last minute attempt to slay the enemy general or BSB predictably fails. The Vargheists were useless here against such powerful opponents, their lack of any kind of save seeing them cut down before they can strike. In future I will have to use them more carefully. With no chance of even a minor moral victory I choose to concede at the end of Turn 4.

High Elves Turn 4

  • The SMs charge the Zombies, and the Eagle hits the rear of the Ghouls
  • Everything else just shuffles, with the SWs sitting still, comfortable with the size of the Skeleton unit now in front of them
  • The SWs make 2 kills on Skel2
  • The Eagle does nothing to the Ghouls and is wounded in return (with poison). The Eagle still wins by 1 so 1 Ghould crumbles
  • The SMs and Gallion kill a massive 13 Zombies. Illinaith however, misses his 1 attack, leaving 1 Zombie to fight back. The Zombie misses however, crumbles and the SMs overrun another 7"

End of Turn 4
At this point, the Vampires concede as they have very little left to fight the majority of the High Elves

Badass BSB of the Match

My Man of the Match nomination is quite an easy one. Gallion not only provided me the invaluable LD rerolls (even if I don't pass even with that help) but he also cut through the Terrorgheist, Countess Victoria, Skisrik (+unit) and the Zombie unit. Crossing nearly the entire battlefield to do so. BSBs...never leave home without them I say.

Undead Abomination of the Match

Skisrik Turncloak
Whilst much of my army failed to achieve much I felt that it was my lone Necromancer Skisrik Turncloak who did the best; his summoning of new units managed to stall a High Elf advance and give me time to reorganise my army. Whilst I didn't take advantage of this opportunity, ultimately fluffing it with some poor choices that look largely illogical in retrospect, he did provide me with the support I would expect from such a Hero and survived longer than my actual general!


In my view, the outcome was decided at the start of Turn 2 when the Terrorgheist fell. Though it put up more of a fight than I expected (I did not know it's stats when I went in) it became vulnerable the moment it came too close. In my opinion, the Vampires were a little too worried of my shooting phase, which I know by now is unlikely to accomplish much. The Bolt thrower may have put a dent in the Terrorgheist, but hoping for something from my arrows would have been like flinging pebbles at mountain, and during that time the Vampires could have massed their whole force, rather than letting me half of them alone. For me, I shouldn't have been scared of attacking earlier, and allowing myself to be boxed in. I was worried of opening my units up for a flank charge, but retrospectively I could have easily reformed to ignore that. I also should not have put my Reavers on the far flank, they didn't need to harry the zombies and would have been better served assisting the right flank to gain superiority.

As for my list, I can't say about the Loremaster as he lost his 'special-ness' straight away. Most of my units seemed pretty solid, the SWs are a little superfluous but I can't bring myself to leave them behind (they're too cool!). I'm not sure whether I miss having the Spears on the Reavers as well as the bows. Their arrows don't really do anything productive. Maybe I should try just spears and use them to charge small units to clear them, rather than harry with bows. That will likely be my next test.

I don't think I had lost at deployment, rather that poor deployment led to a few bad or risky decisions that ultimately led to my downfall. I was too worried about the Bolt Thrower and really should have used my vampire's flying ability to march my right flank up to the centre where I could have swamped the elven elites with tarpit unit after tarpit unit raising or healing where necessary. 

A winged vampire as my general was ultimately a bad choice as I didn't utilise her extra manoeuvrability due to wanting to keep her near my centre so I could march. A flying vampire is perhaps better suited to being only a Hero level character playing second-fiddle to a powerful caster Lord who acts as Army General. I should have also given her Beguile rather than Dread Knight as it would have probably helped win her the combat against the BSB. For my next list I will try a Beguiling Flying Vampire and have the army general a Master Necromancer or Vampire Lord depending on the points. I would also like to try fielding Spirit Hosts as solo units to act as tarpits against enemies who cannot touch them in combat and lack a high static combat resolution that will cause them to lose wounds from unstable.  I also didn't really get to use my new units this game so they will be appearing in my next list as well.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this report. There are a few more to come out, but potentially after I have returned from my holidays.

Stay tuned.

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