Apparently I am obliged to break up this ocean of armchair development and list building exercises with some actual narrative of games played, failures endured and lessons learned. No big battle report – because a) no pictures were taken and b) I honestly don’t think anyone actually enjoys blow-by-blow reports any more, we’ve all lost the knack for them – but since I’ve actually played a game this week, let’s have a practicehammer post for a change.
After the last game – the one that I… hold on… takes a while to get this out… bear with me… lost – I had the general feeling that it was a lack of aggression what done it, and Shiny counselled wedging my Sorceress into the enemy lines to march-block and fling Dark Magic at things from shorter distances. At the time, I pooh-poohed this suggestion (she’s expensive, too useful to die, and made of squish, you know, and the lads have things like short bows and Ratling Guns that she’s actually a bit scared of…) but I figured what the hell, it was Dave and his Goblins this week, and if I’m being cautious about fighting Goblins I probably need to give my Dark Elves back to the Evildoer Shop.
So, the new plan was for the two Warrior units to take point, with the Witch Elves and Executioners slightly further back in the customary flanking position. The Dark Riders went in front of the Witch Elves, both to screen them a little bit and also so they could rush the Goblin lines and blow out some Fanatics on the first turn. The Shades did something similar on the other flank, although I did have to set them up in the open (which I’m slightly worried about doing, since all it would have taken was the Goblins going first and that’d be the Shades gone, in all likelihood). Finally, the Sorceress went on a flank, positioned well away from the Ring of Hotek and ready to march block half Dave’s army on the second turn (once the Fanatics were safely out and in front of his army).
Dave has evidently also been thinking about his deployment; having finally gotten over his tendency to put Goblin archers on hills, where they may have line of sight and extra ranks to fire with but will never, ever be in range of anything, he’d stuck two long lines of them at the front of his army, with Spearmen, Shamans and Trolls following up behind. Now all I need to do is persuade him that Spider Riders need shortbows and musicians, not spears and standards…
My general approach to this game was “when in doubt, go balls out and get stuck in”, the exact opposite of the jockeying for position I’d pulled in the last game. It (mostly) worked. My Dark Riders and Shades not only blew out Dave’s Fanatics in the first turn, but also managed to wedge themselves deeper into the army and shoot up one of his Shamans and Battle Standard Bearer; the left flank, with the Witch Elves on, saw a unit of Spearmen fluke out and kill Dave’s Giant (thank you Cauldron of Blood and your bucket of extra attacks), rush on into the Great Shaman’s unit and decimate it, and then turn around to eat his token Black Orcs for breakfast.
Let’s stop here for a brief interlude about how awesome Witch Elves are.
Unfortunately, the continued awesomeness of one Khainite unit is counterbalanced by underperformance from the other. My Executioners haven’t been doing too well for themselves lately. This is mostly due to poor positioning and play on my part – the ‘balls to the wall’ thing doesn’t work too well when the balls are a unit of Dark Elf Warriors, the wall is made of Stone Trolls and a Goblin Big Boss, and the ensuing result isn’t even a gooey stain but actually a backwash of goo, blood and scrotal detritus that sprays the bloke standing behind…
That analogy got lost a bit. Anyway, mistakes were made. The Spearmen should have just walked up and stood in front of the Trolls and gone ‘charge us, charge us’ – even if they’d lost and fled, they’d have done so on the Goblin turn, allowing my Executioners to counter-charge, get to strike first, and actually do some damage. What actually happened involved the Spearmen charging, whiffing, fleeing, and the Trolls running into the Executioners, killing six and breaking them too. On my turn, the Executioners rallied, which of course put them in the perfect place to get charged again and wiped out. So yes. That was not the time or place for pure, unrepentant aggression. Lesson duly learned.
Since I’m going to be rejigging the army list for 8th edition anyway, I’m coming to the conclusion that the Executioners need both the charge, which I haven’t been able to achieve as often as I should, and something that swings faster than them in case they don’t get it. In 8th, this might be achievable with a Death Hag packing the Banner of Hag Graef (of course, that’s more character points, more fragile Haggery in the Heroes slot, and robbing the Cauldron of its contribution, which in turn would make me wonder whether the Cauldron was worth taking, just for a blessing every turn), or by sticking the Assassin back in so that something in there can chuck some attacks out and do some damage even if the Executioners are caught on the hop and don’t get to fight.
Of course, they’re far too cool and expensive to simply be delivery systems for the Assassin, so the actual solution is probably ‘replace them with another, non-rubbish unit’, but until I convince someone to re-employ me, I’m going to have to work with what I have. Of course, the second I do have a decent income again, I’ll be kitbashing at least two units of Black Guard… assuming I don’t just decide to play another, slightly tougher army. I keep looking at Beastmen, and there are signs emerging that suggest this to be a good idea: Shiny’s never actually seen them on the board, I’d have a lot of fun scratch-building and converting Chariots and Cygors and things, and there’s some talk about doing an escalation-type regular thing if we all decide to do new armies later in the year.
That sounded a bit like theory. Sorry, Shiny. I don’t think I can get through a post without thinking about the future at least a bit.