I’ve been thinking about that game and what I did wrong, and although I could grumble about bad dice, the fact is that with 20/20 hindsight I played really badly and forgot some of the basic principles of wargames in general and WFB in particular.
1) I didn’t have a plan.
I knew what I wanted to do with certain units, but not with the army as a whole. This meant that when it came to deployment I was reacting to what Shane was doing. The result of this was that I was deploying piecemeal, too spread out and ended up unable to support different facets of the army.
2) I was too timid.
I should have used the vanguard with my Wild Riders to put pressure on Shane’s line. If he’d have got first turn then his Sphinx would probably have charged them, but the was the unit I wanted to be in combat with anyway (destroying it would have taken two turns less). If’ I’d have had first turn I’d have been able to march into Shane’s backfield and make him react to me. The Wild Riders would also have probably drawn fire away from the Treeman and Dryads.
Similarly, I should have thrown the Treekin forwards earlier and used the eagles to protect them from the Chariots.
3) I wasted the Wardancers.
I was waiting for the Tomb Swarms and Stalkers to pop up, but what happened was the Stalkers trashed the Wardancers anyway and the best defence was to do what I did and turn my archers to obliterate them with arrows. If the Wardancers had gone forwards as well that would have made five extremely dangerous units bearing down on his lines.
4) I didn’t concentrate fire.
This is a basic one and I’m still kicking myself. I didn’t focus on one target with my archers, instead I fired at something different in each turn, didn’t do enough damage and then this was healed. If I’d consistently shot at the Skeletons, for example, I probably would have whittled them down.
5) I didn’t advance my Glade Guard.
The Glade Guard are really strong below half range. I didn’t consider that the Tomb King bows are equally good at any range, whereas mine get much better the closer I get. He was never going to come for me, so I should have gone for him. 30 BS4/S4 shots per turn would have had a significant effect.
6) I used my Spellweaver poorly.
He needed to be closer to units like the Treekin to support them with magic, and I needed to always cast the spells I wanted first rather than play 7th edition magic tactics, trying to draw out dispel dice.
All too often, discussion of tactics and strategy in WFB becomes a list analysis and complaints about relative army power levels. I do think my list could be better (I felt horribly outnumbered), and there’s no doubt that Wood Elves have lost some of their advantages, but in all honesty, I look back on last night and have to admit that even though I might not have won, the reasons it wasn’t closer were that Shane commanded his army well and I didn’t.
I set out to be more aggressive, and the army list was, however my approach was still cautious and reactive. 8th edition seems to be all about seizing the initiative, and that’s something I singularly failed to do.