After last night, however, I get it. I understand the thrill of piling a lance into a stationary target or the sheer exhilaration of thrusting fully armoured knights down the throat of units that lack the strength to hurt them. It's a very different feeling to my previous armies...and I loved it!
I won. You guessed that didn't you?
The game was 1600 points campaign game against Aneurin's exquisite High Elf army (see National Elf Service in the links). The scenario was a meeting engagement and the terrain role had brought up both an Encampment of Destruction and a Settlement of Order so we had the diagonal between the two. I won the roll and elected to set up in the Encampment of Destruction, which had a Tower of Blood (more on that later).
My army was as follows:
Level 4 Prophetess of the Lady (Lore of the Heavens) - General
Mounted Level 1 Damsel of the Lady (Lore of Beasts)
Mounted Paladin - Army Standard Bearer
8 Knights of the Realm - Full Command
30 Men at Arms - Full Command
5 Knights Errant - Full Command
19 Peasant Archers - Standard, Musician and Braziers
3 Pegasus Knights - Musician
Grail Reliquae and 6 Battle Pilgrims
Anuerin fielded a compact force:
Mounted Level 4 Archmage (Lore of Shadow) - General
Mounted Elf Prince - Army Standard Bearer
21 Lothern Sea Guard - Full Command
10 High Elf Archers
12 Swordmasters of Hoeth - Full Command
We both rolled for reserves and I ended up with both the Men at Arms and the Knights of the Realm off the table. Aneurin lost his Lothern Sea Guard and crucially his Army Standard Bearer.
In terms of deployment, I set up in the corner with the Peasant's sharpened stakes extending the barricades surrounding the Encampment and the Knights Errant (packed with characters) covering the flank. The Grail Reliquae was positioned in front of the Knights to stop them from doing anything impetuous. The Pegasus Knights were positioned far on the other flank in an attempt to either flank Aneurin or draw one of his units away from where the main fight was likely to be.
Aneurin deployed quite wide (which is difficult to do with such a small army). His Silver Helms (supported by his Eagle) were staring down the throat of my defensive bunker, intent on bursting it apart. The Archers were in the centre and the Swordmasters were way out on his far flank facing the Pegasus Knights, who moved back towards my main force with their vanguard move, leaving the Swordmaster stuck out on their own.
My army prayed to get their blessing so Aneurin took the first turn. The Silver Helms advanced, keeping the woods between them and my Peasant Bowmen. The Lothern Seaguard arrived and moved to support the Archers in the centre, who failed to hit anthing with their shots. the Swordmasters began to scurry towards where the real action was. The most eventful moment of the turn was the Arch Mage's successful casting of Pit of Shades. The big template came out, hovered over my densely packed forces and then...scattered off the table. Phew!
In my turn I advanced the Grail Reliquae in their now trademarked 'procession' formation towards the Silver Helms to redirect any thunderous charges they had planned. The Knights of the Realm came on behind the lines and the Damsel and BSB moved to join this far more sensible and less hot-headed unit. The Knights Errant, aware that the Silver Helms were perhaps a bit tough for them, galloped off to bully some Archers. The Men at Arms moved into the Encampment, warily conscious that they were being put in the frame for dealing with the Swordmasters as the Pegasus Knight flew past them. The Peasants and the Trebuchet both disgraced themselves by failing to even hit the Silver Helms - and in fact proceeded to miss everything for the entire game (I won't mention my shooting phase again; just assume that they are missing). Again the highlight was the magic phses where Urannon's Thunderbolt from my Prophetess fried three Silver Helms.
This is where things began to go wrong for Aneurin. You may have picked up that I didn't mention his BSB last turn. That's because he forgot to bring it on. You'll also notice that I don't mention it during this turn either and consider what effect this has on events later in the turn.
The Silver Helms charged the Grail Reliquae who held. The Archers and Seaguard failed to shoot the Pegasus Knights and the Swordmasters carried on jogging toward the Encampment. The Archmage failed to cast Occam's Mindrazor on the Silver Helms. This was again quite crucial although it didn't seem it at the time; they were only facing peasants after all. During combat, the Silver Helms learn't all about the Grail Reliquae's special rules as the Blessing of the Lady meant that they only killed three Battle Pilgrims and the fact that it was Stubborn and in range of my BSB meant that the Silver Helms were stuck with Knights in front of them and Pegasus Knight to the side of them...
Chaaaaaarrrrggggggeeee!!! The Knights of the Realm smashed into the corner of the Silver Helms and the Pegasus Knights smacked into their flank. The Men at Arms shuffled about and the Knights Errant continued to gallop towards the Archers. The magic phase saw Iceshard Blizzard cast on the Silver Helms reducing their chances of hitting. In combat, the lance formation allowed my BSB and three knights to fight, even though they were stuck on the corner, and they killed two Silver Helms. The Pegasus Knights also killed another. The Elves managed to clobber another three Battle Pilgrims but the combat resolution (BSB, charging, ranks, flank) was massively in my favour. Had Occam's Mindrazor been cast, things might have been different. Had the BSB been around with his +D6 to combat resolution banner things almost certainly been different. However, as it was, the Sliver Helms broke and were run down by the Pegasus Knights, who to add injury to insult, crashed into the Eagle.
Things were looking bleak for the High Elves. Their main combat unit was gone, their only spellcaster was gone and the Knights Errant were about to reach their lines. However, all was not lost! The Knights Errant were in the open facing 30 bows, the Swordmasters were in the Encampment and an Elf with a flag finally decided to show his face. A bit confused about where his unit was, the Prince trotted up behind the Seaguard and watch them and the Archers fail to wound a single Knight Errant (there was a pinging noise).
Tally ho! The Knights Errant charged the Archers, who fled (they proceeded to fail all their rally tests over subsequent turns and fled off the board), so the Knights redirected into the Seaguard. This time their arrows brought down a young Knight. The rest of my army made it's way around the wood on the left and the Peasant Bowmen did the unthinkable and left their defensive stakes behind. In the magic phase the Knights were aided by Harmonic Convergence cast on them and Iceshard Blizzard cast on the Seaguard. This combination of factors (along with lots of armour) meant that the Lothern Seaguard were unable to kill any Knights, whilst the Knights (and more specifically their horses) did kill a few Elves. Two more failed Leadership tests later and the Lothern Seaguard were run down by the Knights Errant.
For Aneurin, things had gone from bad, skipped worse, and straight to blood awful. He was now in that 'sod it' phase we're all familiar with and his BSB charged the flank of the Knights Errant, and broke them! The Swordmasters finally moved into a positon where they would get to charge the Men at Arms next turn.
My main forces continued their slog around the wood (which seemed to be bigger than earlier) to get themselves in a position the threaten the High Elf Prince. The Men at Arms turned to face the Swordmasters and the Prophetess helped matters by casting Harmonic Convergence and Iceshard Blizzard. Urannon's Thunderbolt also reduced the once proud (if somewhat tardy) High Elf Prince to something resembling a baked potato.
With nothing else left, the Swordmasters charged the Men at Arms, slicing and dicing eight of them - it would have been more were it not for them having been granted the Blessing by the Prayer icon of Quenelles earlier in the game. However, Harmonic Convergence and hatred from the Tower of Blood gave the Men at Arms the oomph they needed to kill six Swordmasters in return and so the combat ended as a draw.
In my turn, my entire army moved up to squash the Swrodmasters should they break through the Men at Arms, and once again the Prophetess hexed and buffed to her heart's content. Again the Swordmasters chopped up Men at Arms with ease, but the peasants' halberds took down five of the remaining six. He broke and ran, and the game was over.
All in all it's difficult to draw conclusions from this game as Aneurin's luck was out. When he had a wizard, the power in his magi phase was low and his didn't pass a single leadership roll all game. He didn't help himself by forgetting his BSB (which would have made a different with the Silver Helms) and I also think that he spread himself to thinly and so I was able to deal with his units one at a time.
However, I have worked out the following:
1) The Lore of Heavens is great! Powerful magic missiles combined with useful augments and hexes makes this lore good no matter what's happening. It's particularly good for levelling the field between enemy elites and my frankly average troops.
2) The Grail Reliquae is a fantastic anvil. Admittedly, Aneurin won't fall for that particular trap again, but with the additional Battle Pilgrims I'm painting this month, this is great unit for holding an enemy in place for my Knights to charge.
3) Knights have a lot of armour. I shouldn't be afraid for them, they aren't Wild Riders and can shrug off most light shooting. I guess that this won't be true against a certain Dwarf gunline that's being constructed, but we'll worry about that when it happens. However, I'm already thinking of using the remaining Knights I've got to add to the Errant unit rather than create another small unit of Questing Knights.
4) Charging is fun. I realised that I'd not redirected a charge in 8th edition until yesterday (probably because nobody's scared of Wood Elves) and it felt like I was finally using the army the way that it's meant to be used. I need to learn the ways to ensure that I get the charge.
An enjoyable game, with good looking armies on nice terrain. Yes, I benefited from Aneurin's bad luck but everyone deserves a game like that now and again. I'll be back to being slaughtered soon enough; Captain Chaos is angling for a game.