Friday, April 22, 2016

Like a Fist to the Throat - Warmaster AAR

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dave was kind enough to put on a demo game of Warmaster. I've been looking around for an alternative to Kings of War, and the Warmaster rules are one set that has been paraded time and time again for their design and overall quality. Kevyn, having arrived at the store to play some KoW, but not having an opponent, was roped into playing as well. 

Dave had brought two armies - Chaos and High Elves - of 1500 points, with relatively simple lists as to not overtax our first games. We used some changes to the rules that Dave's group uses, but I'm not sure which of those I'll want to keep using, or if I want to instead try some errata recommend by the Warmaster Podcast crew.

The table was covered in scattered woods and hills, which constricted the placement of our units - neither one of us wanted to take the command penalty for pushing our troops through the trees.

I took command of the Chaos force, which consisted of:
  • General
  • 2 Heroes
  • 3 Chaos Warriors
  • 2 Chaos Marauders
  • 2 Chaos Knights
  • 1 Marauder Horsemen
  • 2 Chaos Hounds
  • 1 Chaos Chariot
I deployed my troops in four large brigades, with the infantry in the center and the cavalry on the flanks. For purposes of the demo, we rounded down when calculating the army's break point, so my army would break when I lost five units. 

Kevyn's High Elves had quite a few more units than I did:
  • General
  • 2 Heroes
  • 4 Spearmen
  • 5 Archers
  • 2 Silver Helms
  • 1 Reavers
  • 1 Chariot
  • 2 Bolt Throwers
Two large groups of spearmen anchored Kevyn's right, and archers on his left. Inversely, his cavalry deployed opposite my Chaos Warriors. The High Elves had a break point of seven (eight normally, but dropped down by one for the demo's sake). 

Kevyn won the initiative roll, and opted to go second - obviously hoping that my units would come forward into bow range during the first turn. I obliged, with all my units advancing. Kevyn's ranged fired was somewhat desultory, only pushing back the Marauder Horsemen back a half-inch.

I began turn two by charging the Chaos Hounds into the Archers on the right. Unfortunately, a string of bad command rolls left my Marauders far behind the Warriors, and left my Warriors and Knights out in the open for retaliatory strikes from the High Elves. The Hounds killed one of the Archer units, but took heavy wounds in return.

Kevyn then charged his cavalry brigade right into the Warriors, and used his bolt throwers to force a units of Chaos Knights to break off from their brigade and retreat. The elven cavalry, however, broke against the Warriors, losing one stand from the Reavers and Chariots each, while causing no wounds against the heavily armored infantry.

Now, with plenty of my units within initiative distance, I no longer needed to worry about making command rolls to get my units into combat. The Hound and Horsemen units went into the archers again, while the Warriors charged into the remaining elven cavalry units. My hero on the left sent the Knights and Chariots into the Spearmen at the base of the hill, and also brought up the Knight unit that had retreated earlier. The General brought up the Marauders, but failed the second command roll when trying to send them up further.

While the Hounds and Horsemen were rebuffed, the Warriors slammed into the prancing horses, killing off the Chariots and Reavers, and getting rid of one of the Silver Helm stands. The combined cavalry charge on the left reduced the two spearmen units down to a single stand, but the supporting archers managed to keep the Chaos cavalry from winning the combat.

Hoping his Silver Helms could break the Chaos Warriors, Kevyn used their initiative to charge them in. Meanwhile, his second brigade of two spearmen units charged the Chaos cavalry brigade in the flank, along with the last stand of the other spearmen unit. Although the single stand unit was wiped out, the Chaos cavalry lost the combat, a stand each from the Knight and Chariot units, and was forced back. Kevyn decided not to pursue, not favoring his chances of an archer unit against the Knights.

With only a few units away from his break point, I sent my Warriors in again, along with the last stand of Chaos Hounds. The Knight, Horsemen, and Chariots also went in on the flanks. The Horsemen took out another stand of the archer unit, but was pushed back. The game was decided in the center, however, when the two stand unit of Chaos Warriors and the Chaos Hound stand took out the Silver Helm unit. The Warriors then advanced into the Bolt Throwers and tore them apart, ending the game as the High Elves reached their break point.

Kevyn's deployment seriously impacted his ability to bring the High Elves' superior shooting ability to bear. Concentrated fire from the bolt throwers and archers could have possibly done more damage as my units approached. Relatively untouched, my units were able to slam home into the elven lines, especially the Warriors. As I said to Kevyn, the Chaos Warrior brigade hit the elven cavalry "like a fist to the throat." As the two brigades traded blows, and while the High Elves were ground down over time, the Warriors came away with only the loss of a single stand.

I also noticed, after playing, we had also skipped other rules for expediency's sake. For example, infantry can't pursue after cavalry. I've got a copy of the Warmaster rules being printed at Staples, so that'll make for some reading material. 

This game has me invigorated to play more Warmaster, which may become my mass-battle fantasy game of choice. The fact that I can print out counters and have an army for less than $15 is certainly appealing, although it seems as though that the amount of companies producing 10mm fantasy miniatures is increasing.

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