Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Skaven at the NZ Masters - Part One

Yep, so last weekend was the NZ Masters and thanks to some locals offering to umpire the event, I was able to play.

I used the Skaven Screaming Bell list I had been using most of the year. However I included the Storm Banner and the Power scroll, at the expense of the Earthing Rod and some chaff units. These changes were a success as my Seer only miscast once over the weekend – I was more conservative in my casting dice due to the Power Scroll – the banner blunted incoming warmachine attacks and reducing my drops meant I was generally at +1 to go first.

Looking at the lists lined up against me, I was pretty confident I would do well. I’ve been playing the Skaven for three plus years and know their strengths and weaknesses very well. My list- based around the Screaming Bell list that came out of last year’s ETC – was honed to reflect my playstyle.

The danger with Skaven is generally the vagaries of the dice but you take the bad with the good. Target priority becomes critical to ensure the enemy is neutralised as quickly as possible.

Game 1 – Sam Whitt (Orcs & Goblins) – Dawn Attack

I liked Sam’s list a lot. He had largely removed Animosity from the calculations which is always a potential spanner in the works. His list had two Manglers, two Doom Divers and a Rock Lobber and three single Wolf Chariots.

Dawn Attack was a two edged sword for me. I was hoping his Trolls would be isolated from his Warboss but I was mindful that his warmachines could be split up meaning it would be harder to get them all quickly. I knew that in normal scenarios they would be grouped - which is generally better for my Gutter Runners.

The Message Was Simple, But Effective

Sam got first turn and managed four Foot of Gork stomps on my Stormvermin eventually doing enough damage that when they fled they couldn’t rally. I picked up a lot of his chaff early and concentrated my magic/shooting on reducing his Boyz block (including a Skitterleaped Doomrocket down his lines). However I lost the WLC to a misfire and then the Doomwheel to a Doom Diver. Eventually my Gutter Runners came on (T3 and T4), the earlier one picking up the last Doom Diver. The Mangler went through my HPA killing it but it got up with 5 wounds, though it did nothing from then apart from kill a chariot.

Going into the last turn I was just over 150 points down. However I used my Power Scroll and 13th ‘d off his Boyz plus BSB and two Shamans. There were nine with my four dice I rolled 1,1, 2 and 5. This was a swing of 880 points my way for a moderate win.

Obviously the late swing was fortunate but with Skaven, as I said, you take what you can get.

Win 14-6 (1627 VPs earned)

Game 2 – Joel van de Ven –Long (Empire) – Blood & Glory

Joel’s army was the match-up I most wanted to avoid as I felt he had the cannons and the Light magic to cause me real problems. I needed to ensure that his Pegasus Captain didn’t get into my warmachines but felt he would have problems dealing with my Plague magic.

The game started well for me and I committed his three blocks to fighting Slaves so that I could whittle them down with magic and shooting. The only mishap was my Ratapult blowing up Turn 2. His Captain joined Demigryphs fighting Slaves and he lost first one cannon and had the other reduced to one wound (Defening Peals and Gutter Runners). It was looking like I was going to grind out a 14-15 point win.

Then it all went wrong. Not your annoying wrong but full scale disaster wrong!

The Cannon shot the Bell and the Seer failed his ward (Turn 3). My magic defense was now very shaky. It also cost me 600 VPs for the scenario as my Fortitude was reduced to 3.

While the HPA was killing the Captain, my Slaves were continuing to hold up the Knight bus and the other Demigryphs. The Demigryphs fighting with the Captain threw Insane Courage, stopping the HPA from turning into the flank of the knights. The next turn I threw the full Stormvermin into the two remaining birds and between them and the HPA they reduced the unit to 1 wound. Testing again on “Double Ones” Joel again rolled Insane Courage and held up the two units.


And that effectively was the game. The Knights and Demigryphs finished off the Slaves, reformed allowing them to charge into the flank of the HPA and overrun into the Stormvermin. The Bell charged and picked up the remnants of a Knight unit but Joel was able to pick up a unit of Gutter Runners for a major win.

Loss 4-16 (813 VPs earned)

Edit: Here is Joel's recollection of our battle:

Game 2 was also vs Skaven-though this time it was vs the rat master himself, Pete D. Now for all the crap he gives Dwarf players, I want to document on the internetz his deployment (please note this was blood and glory-hence the 9 inch gap to table edge)

Skaven's Highly Sophisticated Deployment Plan

Yes, you are correct, that is the very definition of castling in the corner-the Dwarf tactic of choice. And as soon as he could, the bell moved into the corner. This game was going to be a big challenge for me, however I had the Demigryph combat chomp, and a few lucky storm banner rolls. My first target was the doomwheel (Dead turn 1), then the HPA with wizards, while I worked my way through the rats. Turn 3 I managed to kill the Seer giving me a huge advantage (+ a couple of insane courage break tests...) allowed me to clean up what I could for a 16-4 win to me, and in the NZ world, an achievement unlocked.

So sitting on 18 points out of 40 was really where I wanted to be after two rounds – especially as Rory (36 points), Joel (31 points) and Tim (31 points) had a break on the field.

More to follow.

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