Chapter Three: ‘….I wanted to be….a lumberjack!’Phil – Dogs of War
For anyone who doesn’t understand the title, you really need to watch this video
So, for the final round of day 1 we were drawn against the Canadians, who were also having their first year at the ETC. I was pitted against the Dogs of War, and when I saw my opponent’s army list I thought I had a very good chance of winning the game.
Mercenary General: cavalry kit, whizzbangs and whotsits
Paymaster: cavalry kit, bowler’s hat
Wizard: level 2, Dispel Scroll, clone machine
Wizard: level 2, Dispel Scroll, a sense of deja vu
9 Duellists: pistols, champion, pistols, codpieces (with stuffing), more pistols
12 Norse Marauders: anger management issues
20 Beorg Bearstruck’ Bearmen (or whatever): bear stuff
6 Mediumish Cavalry: lances, shields, horsies, heavy armour, body odour
3 Maneaters: brace of handguns, predictable theme song
3 Maneaters: brace of handguns, the same theme song, a lack of imagination
Cannon: high ambition, little ability
3 “Small” Rhinox Riders
Dogs of War having a reputation for being a bit naff, but I know from watching friends Loke and M.Biggs that with 2600pts and a 20% loss reduction, they can do some very unpleasant things. Fortunately for me Phil’s list did not include the things that would usually put the fear into me, namely the Dragonlord, Manflayers, loads of Crossbowmen, and orange marmalade. Ugh, orange marmalade - that stuff is my kryptonite. On the other hand, I had very little experience when it came to dealing with Rhinox Riders (big, little or in-between), so in their case I decided to rule on the side of caution and not engage them at all, delaying them if possible and letting them kill what they wanted (hopefully not everything, obviously).
I’ve just had an idea, and don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. The German organisational team behind the ETC in the past two years were generous enough to create maps showing examples of what the terrain on the tables would be like so that players could practice on them. I happen to have these on file. Below is a the showing what the terrain of the battlefield was meant to look like for this game. I won the roll off and chose the south side, mainly because I seem to be one of the few people in the world to understand how to abuse the rules for buildings to their limit. It’s a skill I’m proud of.
And what it actually looked like:
What you see above is the result of my first turn. I knew early on that the Maneaters would be my biggest concern, so they immediately became the prime targets for my shooting. Combined fire saw the leftmost unit reduced to one model, while on the far right the unit in front of the Medium Cav lost a single ogre. The remnants of both units were finished in off in the subsequent turn, for the return fire losses of only a few Archers.
Phil surprised me somewhat by joining his Mercenary General and Paymaster to the Rhinox Riders. The surprise came not from that it was a massive tactical blunder (realistically it made them very difficult for me to get at without risking the dragon) but simply because I didn’t know things could join them! Regardless my plan remained the same, figuring I would concentrate on cleaning up the periphery and dealing with the Rhinox if time and resources allowed for it.
One thing I could get at was the wizards, who had decided that the Norse Marauders were ideal bunker units to hide from the dragon’s terror in. I didn’t bother myself with this, content with flaming them and shooting the poop out of them instead. The smaller Marauder unit was eliminated very quickly, with the second wizard sheltering in the Bearmen. Elsewhere things were going swimmingly – I’d not lost any points yet and had eliminated what I felt were priority targets in Phil’s army. The Medium Cav were threatening my right flank Archers, but were delayed slightly by a timely panic test.
In the centre (or at least, to begin with), my Phoenix Guard (with both Mages, who were back to their trusted Heavens magic) saw the Rhinox deployed opposite and immediately began making a beeline* for my left board corner. No amount of 4+ ward saves, swishy headdresses or furious sign language was going to make that prospect any more favourable!
By this stage I was starting to feel a bit guilty, as I often do during a one sided game. So, in the name of entertainment and giving my opponent somewhat more of an experience, I committed the dragon into the front of the untouched Bearmen. I knew it wasn’t really the most optimal course of action, especially since it would be denying all my left flank shooting their only target, but it seemed like a laugh. I was unsure whether or not to place the dragon in base contact with Beorg, the weird champion dude (the unit was wide enough that I could avoid him if I wanted). I’d never faced the Regiment of Renown before so wasn’t really sure just how hard they were. I asked my opponent if he thought the dragon would beat Beorg in a challenge. He thought yes, citing only S5 and T5, but unfortunately forgot to mention the five wounds and 4+ ward save! That was a shaky break test for Mr Elf Lord and Fluffy!
Next round I did manage to finish the job on the silly bear creature, and the round after that 15 White Lions piled into the Marauders’ flank and made sure the job was well and truly done.
On the far right the Medium Cavalry had made a sufficient number of armour saves to reach combat with an Archer unit, where they eventually broke and ran down my elves. I probably could have done some shady manoeuvres in order to save the Archers from being charged (again, utilising the building), but Phil seemed like a nice enough guy who was already suffering enough at my hands so I just let it play out.
Oh, and then there was that other thing that happened.
I believe in dice gods. We talk and joke about them like they’re not real, but I know they’re watching. I have a small shrine out in the back garden where I regularly pay homage to them. I don’t imagine them like the new agey religions’ gods: all-powerful, omnipotent and utterly merciless. I like to think of them more along the lines of the old Greek gods, Poseidon and Hades and all the rest, with an air of pettiness and vanity and maybe just a little incest (things were always going to devolve once Daddy Zeus went around disguised as half the animals on board Noah’s Ark and shagging anything that moved). The dice gods are as follows: Ordini, Inuuet, Pakku, Spluzjoni. Together the four of them dictate the lines of fate that us mortals walk (roll) along. They are constantly vying for control, trying to alter reality to suit each of their desires. Ordini is the oldest and strongest, and manages to stave off the others’ attempts to seize power most of the time. He maintains a peaceable balance in the world of six-sided fate cubes and ensures that nothing goes awry. Every once in a while though, one of the others manages to wrest control away from him. Inuuet is a mischievous sprite, she loves to meddle in the affairs of humans and cherishes the moments when we grow through the peril she presents us with. Pakku is similar, though he enjoys watching us scramble for different reasons: if he were a human child he would be the kind to fry ants with his magnifying glass or pull one wing off a fly and watch it buzz around on the floor for a while. He relishes the scent of our panic and our fear as events slip out of our control. Lastly is Spluzjoni, the enigma. His motives cannot be comprehended by our pea-like brains. All we can know is that he revels in chaos. He’s the kind of guy who loves watching things explode, collapse, burn, sink, crumble, electrocute, break, splatter, shrivel, and combust. He also likes Stone Sour
and Salma Hayek
, but that’s neither here nor there. When your wizard lord explodes, your Snotling kills a dragon or your Warp Lightning Cannon accidentally shoots your Grey Seer from 48” away, you can know for certain that Spluzjoni is in control.
By turn 5 Phil’s Rhinox Riders (with general and Paymaster) had dallied around a bit, killed an Eagle and run down a bolt thrower. My remaining bolt thrower, with nothing better to shoot at, figured “what the hell” and fired a single bolt at the Rhinox unit. It hit. It randomised. Onto the Paymaster. It wounded. It multiplied into 2 wounds. And killed him.
Someone else can crunch the numbers on that, but it certainly felt a bit jammy at the time!
The rest was fairly elementary, mopping up the Duellists and Cannon in the last turns while keeping the heck away from the Rhinox. Game over.
Somewhere in the background Spluzjoni was cackling.Result
: 20-0 Win.
The game result was pretty much sewn up in the first couple of turns, but shooting the Paymaster straight out of the unit like that sure felt cheeky and a wee bit rude.
Next up, we have a brief intermission for some Saturday night shenanigans, before I play against Scotland’s Vampire Counts player. The game will feature another docile mistake by me, some cowardly White Lions, some overachieving Black Knights, and a Varghulf who wished he’d brought his raincoat. Oh, and pie. Lots and lots of pie.