Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tree Hugging in the Land of the Dragon

Armed only with the background knowledge that they like to give beautiful enchantresses to vainglorious vampires whilst having a tendency to jump into any random portals they come across, twinned with the gaming understanding that their lists are almost invariably identical (ok, not strictly true, but truth gets in the way of good (never mind merely passable) narrative, so let’s move on) I decided that Tribute was the time to wander into the dusky forests and see what all the fuss was about with fantasy’s very own hippies.

The incomparable Dave is an army painting machine, and very kindly lent me the army. Which is handy, or not sure this would be a very long post.

Cue a good few days of trying to write a list that was not “the” list, and was instead different and fun enough to be enjoyable.

And then I remembered Waystalkers and decided that I wanted to take 4.

Now, some people out there could list the almost innumerable ways that 360points could be better spent. And they would be right. All of them.

But I think they’re cool. So there.


In the end I went with a ‘bit of everything’ approach, a tasting menu of woody goodness, if you’d like.

The proud Raf Hunt gathers, ready to sweep anything not very good out of its way, and more than prepared to hide like a little elf should anything actually scary be going on.


Spellweaver: (General) Power Scroll; Obsidian Lodestone; Level 4 Wizard; Lore of High Magic
Spellweaver: Dispel Scroll; Moonstone of the Hidden Ways; Level 4 Wizard; Lore of Shadow; Asrai longbow

Glade Captain: Battle Standard Bearer

15 Glade Guard: trueflight arrows; musician; standard bearer
5 Glade Riders: trueflight arrows; standard bearer
5 Glade Riders: trueflight arrows; standard bearer
5 Glade Riders: starfire shafts; standard bearer

5 Wild Riders: shields
5 Wild Riders: shields
5 Wild Riders: shields
5 Deepwood Scouts: trueflight arrows
5 Deepwood Scouts: trueflight arrows

8 Waywatchers

2,400 points

So, 5 deployments, including characters, which *should* help in going first. A big deal from what experience I have, and one of the few things the interwebs agree on.

But before all the gaming nonsense there was the unique experience you could call the Cardiff Meta – also known by some as “Friday Night”. This a terribly tricky meta to tackle correctly, but suffice to say that the infamous Woody is a true legend.

I could tell you all stories about Heelan, but you wouldn’t believe me anyway…


Flashforward to bright an early Saturday morning and a Game 1 vs the lovely Mr Hugh Allen and his Orcs and Goblins beckoned.
 No, that army is not set up for display. It is deployed. And entirely frenzied Orc army castled up in the corner (this is what happens when the general of an army is more level headed and, well, good, than the troops he commands).

Annoyingly, Hugh was worried about encirclement, and pretty much cornered his army, save for a flanking force of a Mangler, a chariot and some Savage Orc Boar Boys.

One thing became apparent to me as I surveyed the battlefield (because I am awesome at this game) – t5 characters are a real pain to snipe.


I am pretty sure there is an Orc and Goblin army around here somewhere…. Dammit! – that’s a long way to walk! The downside of a limited deployment drop list – you opponent gets to choose where the game takes place!

The game was relatively tit-for tat. I was worried about the spider – it’s a real pain to kill from range when you don’t have all that much shooting. Not as worried as I was by the doom divers though – I think Elven armies where most units are only 5 strong do not like them (I mentioned I rock at this game right?). I focused on killing them - the issue was getting in range to do so whilst not losing the stuff trying to do it.
That, and the opportunity cost. Do you shoot a lot of Orcs when you have reduced their toughness, or try to shut down a doom diver when you need 6s to wound? (I struggled with the whole "roll 6s" bit). I think I made a mistake, and should have focused on killing Orcs.
Silly Raf.
This was the first (of many) games where the true annoyance of Frenzy raised its head.


The (at the time apparently critical) moment when the Trolls failed their stupidity test and wandered into the woods, negating their own steadfast. Carpe diem!

Seizing upon a turn when the Troll unit failed its stupidity test in the woods, I launched Wild Riders at it, promptly routing the trundling beasts, before being hacked down by an angry Warboss.


 Diemed that carp.
Alas so Diemed was it that the overruns proceeded to be massive, with the end result that an angry Orc on a squealing pig beat them all to paste. Clearly Carp are very dangerous fish.

Other things of note is my first "on the table" experience of the fun that is Withering + Wild Rider charge. Turns out that's one way to kill massive 8 wound spiders. I'll file that under "Good To Know". The game was not overly eventful in some ways (though fun to play). I focused most of my fire on his largest savage orc unit, eventually removing the last remnants with the help of an errant Foot of Gork.

Whilst all this seemingly positive stuff is going on though, doom divers were wrecking my face. Badly. Combine this with the forced overruns leading to needless Wild Rider massacres, and things were looking extremely bleak.
Evil incarnate. Some say that when the devil once more walks up this earth he shall be wearing a pointy hat, goggles and spend his time randomly falling on people. These people are correct.

Add in a stupid risk that probably ended up costing me 160 points where, worried about failing panic checks near the table edge, I chose to stand and shoot at the last 5 (Toughness 1) Savage Orcs. Cue only killing 1. Cue the Big Stabber ruining me. This cost me both my Scout units, and is unforgivable bad play. Naught Raf.

All in all, not well played by yours truly, and a 8-12 loss vs the ever lovely Hugh.

WAYSTALKER WATCH: 1 wound on the BSB, some savage orcs, a Savage Orc Boar Boy and redirecting duties.

Game 2 rolled up and I had the Fist of Fury himself, Mr Cowlin with a Dark Elf list.

This was a bit better. He had (roughly) Dreadlord, lvl4 (life) and Bsb on steeds, two masters on pegs, and a lvl2 on light. Large Dark Rider unit, xbow unit, corsair unit, cold one knight unit, three bolt throwers and big warlock unit.

Ok, maybe not 'better' – this was fast.

I decided the best course of action was to distract him and make him waste time in his corner whilst I shot him as much as elvenly possible. I knew I had to shut down the RBTs as a high priority, they do mean things to elves. With this in mind I decided to suicide some Wild Riders units, pushing up, hampering his vanguards and generally being a nuisance.

Sacrificial Wild Riders off being all sacrificial off in the distance. That unit of 15 Glade Guard puts out a decent amount of firepower, setting up a solid firebase with the capability of handling out crippling blows to any Dark Elf unit.

The rest of my forces were on my right and proceeded to implement Operation “shut down RBTs” (the Wood Elves are not famed for their ingenuity in name-giving). Maybe a better name was called for, as the shooting was really poor, my entire army *just* managing to kill one RBT. Keen to show how it was done, 4 BS10 Waystalkers shot the lvl2 (presumably a scroll caddie) in the face. Bosh. That's how it's done.

The middle game was somewhat cagey whilst Tom dealt with the two wild rider units (one managed to clear up the xbows before a Peg Master came to the rescue). In those middle turns I focused on units – killing off the Dark Riders and then the Warlocks. Unfortunately the Waystalkers were off having some fun celebrating their turn 1 success and failed to kill any squishing steed characters.

And then it happened. My lvl4 Shadow wizard – who I shall from now on name “Pyro” – decided that a 4 dice Withering was all the encouragement she needed to blow herself into oblivion (taking with her 10/15 Glade Guard), and ending the just-cast Withering… Sigh.


I miss those 15 Glade Guard, turns out 5 is not so much of a fire base... Pyro’s death perks the remaining Dark Elves up, and a full on cross table dash is about to begin.

This was effectively a quarter of my shooting gone. Sensing blood, Cowlin pushed forward and implemented Operation Dwellers (given the name, assume it’s another example of Wood Elf naming genius), where he moved forward and SixDiceDwellers for 3 turns. I stopped 2, and managed to avoid the last one with my lvl4. Waystalkers managed to kill off one of the pegs, whilst the other got stuck ineffectively fighting Wild Riders (it is impressive the drop in performance when Masters don’t get rerolls). There was one remaining Glade Guard at this point, and I was not sure about keeping him with my lvl4 (who had some 4 High Magic counters at this point) to better survive shooting, or split to avoid the dwellers threat.  I split them, and the final shots from the Dreadlord’s crossbow impaled the hapless archer.

I believe I FINALLY managed to kill a second bolt thrower, but that was effectively it. When all was said and done – 10-10. Given that I had effectively blown up 550 of my own points, I guess that’s fair enough.

WAYSTALKER WATCH: Lvl2 Light Wizard, Peg Master


Game 3 and it was Watchtower time vs Aaron “Wildman Magnet” and his Cavalry High Elves.

The scenario was capture the tower – person who held it with 5+ models at the end of game got an additional 800 points. The game lasts 6 turns, and goes on for a 7th turn on a roll of a 4+.

As I mentioned, Aaron was running cavalry – and a unit that must hit list a ton of bricks – 9 Dragon Princes (with “the Banner”, obviously), 4 Combat Characters, a Lvl4 on High with “the Book” and a lvl2 on Beasts. Supporting this he had some silver helms, some Reavers, four bolt throwers and two units of archers (for building duties). Aaron “won” the right to be in the building.

And then a classic thing happened. Aaron believed this was an extremely good, open/shut case of good matchup up for him (due to banner protection). I knew that whilst this was technically true, I had some armour ignoring none-magical goodness, an ability to destroy his banner and was far more likely to capture the building. Once again I suicided two Wild Rider units to threaten the Bolt Throwers, forcing him to focus on them rather than shoot my vulnerable archers. The Wild Riders did their job – both (just about) survived the turn of shooting and then proceeded to kill three of the bolt throwers and one of the archer units. Aaron in response shut down my Waywatchers with an epic Soul Quench (20 or so S4 hits will do that to 8 T3 models).

Meanwhile, around the ever-so important tower, after two turns the 10 brave elves in the building were dead, and the carnage was about to start. Waystalkers shot out the Prince from the unit as a sign of things to come. I managed to get Arcane Unforging off on “the Banner”, and the unit’s doom as certain. Over two or three turns I managed to wither the Dragon Princes, whilst my Waystalkers, now positioned in the Watchtower with some Scout friends, picked off one character after another. The end was an utter rout, with just one bolt thrower left alive.
Top tip: Sniping characters on a 2+ to hit and a 2+ to wound with nor armour saves is fun.
Take my word on it.

It should be said though, that Aaron’s dice were mad. 3+ armour saves were failed 75% of the time, panic tests were almost ALL failed. There was little he could do in the end. A gent of an opponent.

20-0 win to end the day with is always fun.

WAYSTALKER WATCH: Prince, Archmage, BSB Noble, Noble.

Cue Saturday night and, well, insert anything you can think of happening in Cardiff  on a night out (for those who don’t know – Cardiff is a university city that is utterly full of people having their Stag and Hen nights out) and it probably (definitely) happened to someone.

A painful Sunday morning dawned, though somewhat mollified by one of those epically massive breakfasts that just seem to *make sense* on mornings like that.

What did I have to face now that I finally returned to the “right” side of the room? Steve Smith’s beautiful Ogre army.

SlaughterMaster (Heavens), BSB (Runemaw), Firebelly, Butcher (with HellHeart), Ironguts, Bulls, 2x2 Mournfang, 2 Ironblasters (I remember the good old days when they were comped), 2 sabertusks and a Thundercow rounded out his list.

The mission? Blood and Glory (800 points to the first person who broke their opponent).

I was worried about this game. I suspected (correctly) that the big Irongut unit would have the Runemaw, which makes it an utter pain to try and kill. Shooting T4 stuff is dicy (and sniping T5 characters is just not fun). Factor in the additional 3 inches onto the table they get for the scenario and things could go very wrong. This would have to come down to me breaking him, which would involve killing the Guts and the Bulls. Doable maybe, but time would be short.

Unfortunately for me Steve  won table sides, which made a massive difference – one side had lots of buildings and narrow channels an attacking army would have to go through, the other had gentle rolling hills and some woods. That was a big dice roll to lose.

What we have here is the Lesser Spotted Deployment Mistake. I should have deployed all my scouts on the other side of the table and teleported across with my glade guard, giving the Ogres a literal mile to cover. But I didn’t. I am not sure why. I blame my hangover…

Trying to work out what to do, I loaded up on Wild Riders on my left flank and my archers and characters on my right. In hindsight I could have dummied my deployment far better. My initial plan was to launch three turn 1 charges into the Thundercow and Mournfang units in front of me (they, along with an Ironblaster) made up the units on my left, the rest of his army directly in front of me). There were risks though – either I don’t make it and get counter charged (needed a 9 on the dice), or I make it and fail to roll enough 5+s to wound the Thundercow (more on failure to roll 5+s in a later game). I wimped out – am not sure what the right call was. Instead they veered right to threaten the units barrelling towards my infantry.


I believe the “push it 12” forward” is called “Doing an Ogre”.

What proceeded was a fairly normal Ogre experience of them barreling towards you, avoiding, shooting and, in this case, charging some stuff with Wild Riders. Alas frenzy hurts. When forced into a necessary charge there was nothing to stop some stupendously long overruns and the subsequent loss of the unit.


Damn that Frenzy and the forced overruns/not being able to flee. This time an angry cow takes advantage. The fact it was butchered the following turn does not make me any happier. Damn, using Wood Elves seems to be turning vegetarian.

Still, they killed the Thundercow and forced a Mournfang unit to run away (though annoyingly it rallied on the table edge)

Things were going “OK” – though the Ironblasters were being very very annoying – not only with the shooting of my Wild Riders, but in the simple ability to deny board space. I wiped out the bulls and butcher quickly, and now was in the process of killing Ironguts, when Pyro decided to play. Cue Dimensional Cascade – which she survived! Alas… the explosion robbed her, the general, the bsb and 4 waystalkers of their look out sirs….

Cue cannon ball to her face.

She probably deserved it.

Though I had been hoping to cast MINDRAZOR :(

The classic way of ruining Ironblasters (a flank charge) failed when the beaten Ogre held a Glade Rider charge. As the last turns wound down it all came to a few dice rolls. The remaining Wild Rider unit (somehow still at full strength) failed a 5 inch charge onto Mournfang, and survived the counter charge! The now free Ironblaster had a tough choice – charge the remaining waywatchers/characters for a chance of wiping them all out, but if fail the charge do nothing, or take a nice easy shot across 4 unprotected characters. Steve went for the shot… MISFIRE. Sometimes I love dice. On the other side of the table the Glade Guard FINALLY killed the Gut unit, breaking Steve. His characters, miffed by this, brutalised the poor hippy archers in record time.

Ended up a 16-4 after the points for breaking, 10-10 on the table. 

WAYSTALKER WATCH: 1 wound on a Mournfang


On to the final game of the weekend, a good ol battle line vs Northern Ireland’s very own Barry, who had been rescued from the local Chinese place the night before.

His list was a stupendous filth fest.
Lvl2 Death on Daemonic Mount (general) with extra spell, lv4 Tzeentch Disc Wizard, Unkillable BSB, Tzeentch warriors, big troll unit, two chariots, two Hellcannon.

The threat of a turn one panic bomb off the table was a very real one. Barry telling me "it never happens" did not help. 
Barry put a Hellcannon on either flank, the trolls in a massive long line with the intent of sweeping me into one corner. Chariots in the centre. Sensible stuff.

My turn one I yet again zerged the Wild Riders - this tme so that they were right next to the Hellcannons, the plan being to shut them down for a turn or two if possible.


The quiet before the storm – though not sure how ‘quiet’ a long line of marching Trolls would really be.

Barry, being the true gent he is, helped out by misfiring both cannons turn one, and losing all crew both times (annoyingly passed both monster reaction leadership tests – I liked the idea of them just buggering off, but seems quite a lot to ask for).

This was perfect. I could now bring the Wild Riders to threaten the ground element Chaos elements – two or three units could wreck a lot of havoc whilst the odds were good the Hellcannons would spend most of the game running around madly.

That was the plan.

In fact what actually happened was two failed restrain tests in a row.
Cue throwing Wild Riders away into Hellcannons for the sake of it.

Later in the game the third unit liked the look of all these uncontrolled charges and charged into the Trolls, just to be promptly destroyed.


After killing the chariots I was not confident in my ability to get all that much else – other than that pesky Wizard. After 7/8 Way Watchers were pulverised by Gateway the Way Stalkers took some vengeance, hunting down the disc wizard ruthlessly (got to pick on those T4 characters when you have a chance!), eventually getting him as the game wound down.

Meanwhile in Hellcannon world – my Withering attempt was dispelled. Trying to make up for this, the charging Wild Riders promptly hit 15/15 times. And as promptly failed to role a single 5+ to wound. Sigh.

On the other flank things went much better, over a few turns the Wild Riders left it on one wound – it was then shot off by some ambushing Glade Riders.

Good ol’ Wild Riders. The central unit (see last picture) decided that they too should join the frenzy charge game, ploughing into the Trolls (just as my flaming arrows finally arrive on the table), promptly get massacred and allow the Trolls a massively ground-gaining reform. Good times. Yay.

As the game ground down he was finally reached me, and I cold have been in real trouble. Thankfully my characters just about managed to reach a wood and teleport away to safety, and some scouts threw themselves away on chaffing duties.

In the end I had killed a Hellcannon, two chariots and the lvl4. It felt like a lot more work than that sounds!

With a panicking Waystalker failing to rally, Barry had scored just enough points for a 10-10. A fair result, but given my turn 1 luck it should have been far better than that…

Still great game against Barry.


End result, 15th out of 64ish, and Best Wood Elf.

Which is fine – could have played better and there were some luck swings involved.

Importantly, for the second Tribute in a row I had a fantastic time. Of note elsewhere at the event – Russ absolutely smashing face and scoring 92/100 battle points with his Warriors and Adam’s failure to be a competent human stopped him coming 2nd overall (his late was late and in the wrong format).

Great as ever to catch up with people, and the nice laid back, fun atmosphere that is Cardiff does make it THE destination of WFB tournaments in the UK.

Thoughts on the Wood Elves?

Fun actually. Rather matchup dependent, but with a different list I think you could have good, effective fun. Obviously drop the waystalkers (and maybe a lvl4 as well) you get a decent amount of stuff. Wild Riders need to be in slightly bigger units – I think 7s could work. Would be nice to get some Warhawk Riders in there as well (like the idea of 3 units), to project more forward nonsense to annoy the opposition.

I would do them full time – but they are elves. And I am still hoping that rumours of a Bretonnian book comes out soon otherwise may have to do something drastic for next year…



Anyway. Thanks to all my opponents, the people I hung out with, the venue and the organisers, and Dave for the loan of the beautiful army.
A fantastic time was had!

Until next time


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