Author Topic: High Elves + Greeks vs Undead: Ticking Clock  (Read 1036 times)

Hannibal

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High Elves + Greeks vs Undead: Ticking Clock
« on: September 02, 2013, 11:09:13 PM »
Last week I brainstormed an idea for how the Merc. Greeks could be used for the High Elves:  skirmishers!  So we randomly chose terrain and maps, ending with Breaking Point with the Familiar Foe special situation (all Command Cards are face up).  Scott chose to play Undead, deviating from the usual Death Knight Express.

Undead:  6 Zombies, 1 Skeleton Trolls, 1 Zombie Trolls, 2 Abomination, 1 Death Knights

High Elves:  2 Battle Squads, 2 Elder Blade Swordsmen, 1 Chariots, 1 Celestial Guard, 2 Bithnyian Peltasts

Merc unit for reference:

Bithnyian Peltasts – Standard - 77 pts
O:(3)5/4  D:1*/0  Rge:5”  Cge: 11  Mv: 5"  3G/1Y/2R
Skirmisher, Javelins, Impulsive.  No Lock Shields box.  D: +2/+0 vs ranged attacks.

A tribe of Thracians that settled in Asia Minor, Bithnyians were brutal and savage even by Thracians standards.

(I have bolded the changes that will be made with the 4th Draft, but I have not made those changes just yet).


Deployment


High Elves (L->R):  Bithnyians, Battle Squad, Bithnyians (in front of Battle Squad, Elder Blade Swordsmen, Elder Blade Swordsmen (in front of Chariots), Celestial Guard.

Undead (L->R):  Death Knights, Abomination & Abomination (backed up by Zombies), Zombie Trolls, Zombies-Zombies-Zombies (backed up by 2 Zombies), Skeleton Trolls (facing the short edge).

I couldn't ask for a better deployment than this!  Scott put everything down, holding the Skeleton Trolls and the Death Knights till last.  He put the Death Knights on the left because he figured I'd go for the hill.  Of course, I never had any intention of doing so.  The entire plan was for the skirmishers to delay anything on the left so that the Battle Squads would get charged one at a time instead of getting Two's Companied.  What would have made it even better is if I had gotten to go first, but sadly that didn't happen.

All the objectives are mine, with the Bithyians being sent up the hill and in front of the Abomination, while the other two objectives belong to the Battle Squads (who were on Hold-Objective).  By contrast, the Undead line was on a standard Close.


Early Advance


Early on, I DC'd the Celestial Guard to move sideways and then sprinted them to get back in the line, once I'd gotten a matchup against the Skeleton Trolls.  Scott countered by move capping the Trolls, threatening to take my Celestial Guard out of the fight if they chased them.

On the left, the Impulsive rule on the Bithyians took an early toll:  being that they started a turn within 7" of an enemy, they lost their objective (becoming a Close).  This would have them advancing towards the Zombie Trolls, which I did not want.  So I had to DC them to get right in the faces of the Abomination.  I was willing to make this trade, because since the Zombie Troll and both Abominations were on a standard Close, all 3 of them would final rush (and mess up Scott's line) unless he spent CAs.

On the hill, the Bithnyians got as close to the Death Knights as their Impulsive feet would take them.


The Plan in Action


This is a few turns later.

On the hill, the Death Knights charged the Bithyians, who fled downhill.  On my turn, the Bithynians would not rally because they were in FR range, so I spent the CA to rally them.  That wasn't a great idea, because it didn't get me anything.  On his turn, Scott final rushed them and they failed their Cge 11 check, blowing up.

On the left (between the medium hill and the 2 small hills), Scott let the two Abominations final rush the Bithnyians, who bounced behind the Battle Squad.  The Zombie Troll got DC'd to go after the other Battle Squad. 

Doing this not only got the Abominations out of formation, it delayed them from charging my Battle Squad for a turn.  What was important about this is that it allowed me time to maneuver to protect my flanks.

Here's where we had an interesting rules interaction:  the Bithynians were on Hold (having bounced through).  However, at the start of the turn, there was an enemy unit within 7", which means that because of Impulsive, they automatically went to Close.  Since I wanted these guys on Close, it was functionally a free CA.  I don't really like that, but I like them as impulsive and am unsure what to do.  More on this later.


On the right, my Elder Blade Swordsmen hit and, seeing the 'delay' gambit Scott set up with the Skeleton Trolls, I sprinted the Celestial Guard into the Zombies.  The the Chariots would simply have to hold out against the Skeleton Trolls.

My Swordsmen and Celestial Guard started of with some P!$$ poor turns of combat.  Each Elder Blade Swordsmen rolled 12 dice over two turns, needing 5s and 3s (5 pts of damage).  The left EB Sword did two points and the right one did four points.

Even the Celestial Guard underperformed:  they should have done 6 damage over 2 turns and only did 5.  Worse, the Zombies put a point on the left EB Swordsmen and the Celestial Guard!  The zombies would go on to do 3 pts to the Celestial Guard!  Making me burn a Fumble to negate one of those. 

Un.  Be.  Lievable.


Delaying Gambit


On the left, the Bithnyians slide out to eat a charge from the Death Knights.  Next to them, I DC the Battle Squad to back up to be out of charge range while still protecting the Battle Squad fighting the Zombie Troll.

On the right, the Celestial Guard and right Elder Blade Swordsmen continue to hack away at Zombies, finally able to see daylight.  The left EB Swordsmen continue to stink up the joint: 17 dice at 5s and 3s, with only 4 points to show for it.  Had they done their job, right now there would be no Zombies left in the back row.

On the far right, the Chariot moved up and angled as much as they could so that maybe the Skeleton Trolls wouldn't see anything if they one-shotted the chariot.


Corey's Dice Debacle (pt 1)


And here's where the wheels come off the bus...

First, the Death Knights charge the Bithnyians on the left, and the Bithnyians decide they've had enough.  The Abominations advance, but this is where the Bithnyians pulling them out of position early on matters: the Abomination on the left is at a bad angle and so they won't be able to get a Two's Company on the Battle Squad.  Sure they'll move into back up, but I'm fine with that.  My 187 pts will fight his 300 pts all day.

On the far right, the Skeleton Trolls charge the Chariots.  Here we go:

See that Oathbound there?  Yeah...that was played in the Post-Combat Courage phase, because I'm an idiot.  I meant to play it in the Pre-combat Courage phase, because I was sure my Battle Squad (fighting the Zombie Troll) and my Chariots would be taking rout checks this turn, because I saw he was sitting on a bunch of Strikes, an Accuracy, and the faction-specific cards that have been errata'd to give undead +1 Off Skill.  So I was pretty sure I'd be taking a test.  But I should've remembered to play it during the Pre-Combat Check because, hey!  I had to take a Fear check.

Give you three guesses what happened, and the first two don't count.   ::)

Yep.  Forgot to play it.  Yup, rolled a 15 on the fear check.   >:(

And in the combat?  Sure enough, he forced a Yellow check and I roll a bunch of hits.  Unfortunately, I roll three 3s on the to-wound.  Had I played Oathbound, I would have passed the fearsome check.  Had I passed the Fearsome check, I would have inflicted 5 wounds instead of 2, putting the Skeleton Trolls into the Red.   >:(

Meanwhile, the left Swordsmen and Celestial Guard keep chewing through Zombies.  The left EB Swordsmen?  The guy who's now rolled 22 dice at 5s and 3s?  Yeah, he's done 5 wounds to that zombie.  Meaning that since its my turn next, I won't be getting that pinch on the Zombie Trolls.   >:( >:( >:(


Corey Dice Debacle (pt 2)


The hits just keep on coming...

On the left, I change the order of the Battle Squad to flank charge the Death Knights.  Yes this opens me to a pinch, but its better than letting the Death Knights charge them in the front.  (You know you're fighting for your life when a pinch is the better of the two options!)  Those High Elves are selling their lives dearly. 

They probably wouldn't be so courageous if they saw what miserable failures the rest of their brethren were.  The left EB Swordsmen.   ::)  Too little, too late, but they finally kill that 90 pt unit.  27 dice now, with 6 boxes to show for it.  (I'll save you the math:  almost half what they should have done)

And failure seems to be infectious.  The Celestial Guard need to do 2 pts (5 dice on 6s and 3s) to at least avoid the threat of a pinch.  Nope.  Couldn't do it.  1 pt of damage.

Next to them, the Chariots whiff and take 3 pts in turn.  Courage 13 Red check.  If I fail, the flank of the Celestial Guard is exposed.  To a pinch no less.

I'm not even going to say it.  You know how this ends... 


A Plan Undone


And there is the pinch by the Skeleton Trolls.  Avoiding eternal shame, the Celestial Guard pass their pinch and Yellow check, responding by killin the zombies in front of them.  The right Swordsmen also sweep the zombies from the board.

On the left, the Battle Squad are pinched and put into the Yellow, but they heroically pass both checks.


Picking up the Pieces


While the Battle Squad sells itself dearly, the Swordsmen try to take advantage of their much-delayed breakthrough.  The left Swordsmen, showing that they must have been just warming up, flank the Zombie Trolls and put them all the way into the Red.  The left Swordsmen roll out to set up a flank on the Skeleton Trolls.

The Celestial Guard, down to 3 dice because of Yellow and attacking to their flank, do some damage but are put into the Red.  They pass their check to hold out.


Celestial Guard Destroyed


On the High Elves's next turn, the Swordsmen flank the Skeleton Trolls, but the damage is done.  The Skeleton Trolls destroy the Celestial Guard ( a 322 pt unit bagging itself over 750 pts!).

In the center, the EB Swordsmen destroy the Zombie Trolls and flank charge the Zombies, putting them into the red.  The Battle Squad that had been facing the Zombie Trolls withdraw, to avoid the charge of the Death Knights.

On the left, the other Battle Squad is finally destroyed, having held out for an absurdly heroic period of time.


Endgame


On the next turn, the Death Knights come around, looking for a target.  The EB Swordsmen destroy the Zombies (on the left) and the Skeleton Trolls (on the right). 

At this point we start counting up points.  Both of us are 1 unit away from breaking, but neither player has more than 1,000 pts on the board.  Meaning that no matter who breaks, this game is a Draw.  So we call it here.


Post-Game Thoughts:  My mistake was rolling dice.   :-\   Seriously, a few minor things aside, I can't imagine how I could have played this better.  I got his Death Knights (and the whole left of his line) so out of position that the entire 900 pts of that flank took the whole game to kill less than 350 pts.

What doomed me was that it took me 5 turns to chew through zombies when it should have taken 3 turns.  That and I couldn't make a crucial rout check to save my flank.  Even my card draws were poor:  I drew 1 Might the whole game.  Not a single Force, nor a Fortune Favors the Bold, or even a Parry.


Greek City-States Thoughts:

Skirmishers pretty much are the only thing High Elves would add from the Greek Mercs, but they do quite a bit.  It allows a player to set up a short-line gambit and then use the skirmishers to delay the enemy unit on the outer edge of the short line.  Against an infantry unit, this makes it so he can't get a Two's Company on the Battle Squad, which helps ensure they live longer.

My one concern is with how the Impulsive worked out.  I like the idea of Impulsive on these guys, in that it makes it harder for a player to manage these guys, having to spend CAs to get them to go where they should.  However, when they ended up behind the line, the Impulsiveness actually helped because it gave me a free order change.  I'm torn as what to do.  The way I see it, here's my options:

1)  Leave it, because:
--After all, you can get the same thing with other Impulsive units that rout.  After you rally them, the next turn they go to Close automatically. (it's rare though, that Gallic Cavalry or Gallic Warriors survive a rout, though). 
--For a unit who is supposed to delay, having them run to the nearest unit instead of their objective can be a big pain in the butt.  So if they get a small cookie later, so what?

2)  Leave it, but reduce (or eliminate) the discount.  We're talking a 3% discount for Impulsive, so reducing it to 2% or 1% is literally 1 r 2 points.

3)  Give them their own version of Impulsive, one that doesn't have them go to Impulsive if they're behind friendly units.

#3 would solve the problem but I think its bad design to have two very similar but slightly tweaked rule.

What do you guys think?

ElDiablito

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Re: High Elves + Greeks vs Undead: Ticking Clock
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 09:29:07 PM »
This is specifically, the worst I can imagine for adding mercenary units.  The High Elves are an elite, yet small army.  Now add in cheap, merc filler...  Uh oh...  Now add in the fact that this filler can delay a flank...  Oh crud!

I would tend to say that this is a perfect area where a game can become broken.  Good news from this post; it seems that even cheap, skirmishing filler is still not quite good enough to wreck a game system.  I might suggest a similar high elf build against a different army and see what happens.  Better still, hope for better luck and see if the results are still interesting.

Hannibal

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Re: High Elves + Greeks vs Undead: Ticking Clock
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 01:16:16 PM »
Quote
I would tend to say that this is a perfect area where a game can become broken.  Good news from this post; it seems that even cheap, skirmishing filler is still not quite good enough to wreck a game system.  I might suggest a similar high elf build against a different army and see what happens.  Better still, hope for better luck and see if the results are still interesting.

My feeling is that this was pretty much the dream scenario:  he had a 500 pt unit (in terrain no less) that was slowed down by my skirmishers.  I'll run it again at some point to see if we can try it without my dice, but I doubt Scott is going to hand me a victory like on a silver plate again.

Which, I don't know if him doing so constitutes as broken:  I set a trap and blithely walked right into it.  I don't know if I'd say that situation is broken.  My feeling is that in that case, I should win.


Another thought is to look at what I could have taken instead of the skirmishers.  Here's what I had in the army: 

Game build:  2 Battle Squads, 2 Elder Blade Swordsmen, 1 Chariot, 1 Celestial Guard, (164 pts to spare).

Now, if I didn't have the skirmishers to play the delay game on that flank, I probably would have taken another Battle Squad.  To make those points, I could drop the Celestial Guard down to Elder Blade Swordsmen:

Option 1:  3 Battle Squads, 3 Elder Blade Swordsmen, 1 Knights, (5 pts to spare).

This almost exactly the build I took, but I was afraid that I wouldn't have any answer if he took Death Knights.  If I wanted to keep the Celestial Guard, I could go this rout:

Option 2:  4 Battle Squads, 1 Elder Blade Swordsmen, 1 Celestial Guard, 1 Knights (16 pts to spare).


So I guess the answer becomes:  which would have been better?  The game build, Option 1, or Option 2?  Given that Option 1 had a large flaw in it, int hat it couldn't answer Death Knights (because I couldn't chew through all the fearless zombies in time to gang-tackle the Death Knights), I'm saying that one would have been undeniable the worse build.

Leaving us with Option 2 or the game build.  Both have their advantages.  The game build has fewer points sunk into delaying the enemy.  And it can do so without easting up CAs with maneuvering.  Finally, it has a bit of a meta example of surprise (your opponent doesn't expect skrimishers in a HE army any more than he'd expect Healer Mages).  But Option 2 has the advantage of being able to use faction specific cards (oh, how I wanted to play Oathbound on those skirmishers!).  And since Option 2 would use a Battle Squad to delay the Death Knights, they have one advantage the skirmishers don't:  if the Death Knights ignored them, the Battle Squad could charge the flank/rear of the Death Knights and tie them down for far longer than skirmishers would.

I'm going to go on record and say that neither of these builds is better.  I think they're both good, but neither one is head-and-shoulders above the other.

RushAss

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Re: High Elves + Greeks vs Undead: Ticking Clock
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2013, 11:23:07 AM »
In theory, including Skirmishers in a High Elven build it seems to be a super powerful thing, but this game showed that it was merely an annoyance.  Now I know it's only 1 game, but that's what I got out of it.  And correct me if I'm wrong, but can't you use Skirmishers with High Elves under the optional mercenary rules anyways?  If it seems to be unbalancing you can simply house rule it at tournaments or what not.

I still think it's kind of freaky that there could be such a thing as an Impulsive Skirmisher.  It doesn't break anything at all, it just feels... weird. 
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Hannibal

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Re: High Elves + Greeks vs Undead: Ticking Clock
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2013, 01:49:20 PM »
Quote
In theory, including Skirmishers in a High Elven build it seems to be a super powerful thing, but this game showed that it was merely an annoyance.  Now I know it's only 1 game, but that's what I got out of it.

I don't know if delaying 500 pts of Death Knights could be called only a minor annoyance, but the question that keeps rattling around in my brain was:  could I have done the same thing with a Battle Squad way out on the left?  I mean, I would've had to downgrade one of my EB Swordsmen to an EB Battle Squad, but at that point I'd be able to even put a Chariot unit way out on the left (i.e. a unit with enough punch that the Death Knights couldn't ignore them).

On the one hand, the skirmisher build lets me focus on having 3 beatstick units (2 EB Swords and a Celestial Guard) instead of just 2, so there's advantage there.  The disadvantage is that on the left flank, I was all about the delay.  Whereas, if I had a Chariot unit over there, I would have a fairly legitimate threat.

I lean towards the fact that its up for debate says that its okay.


Quote
And correct me if I'm wrong, but can't you use Skirmishers with High Elves under the optional mercenary rules anyways?

I mean, yes and no.  I've always interpreted it as Monsters & Mercs being used as mercenaries was legal unless stated otherwise.  My opinion is that if somebody showed up with Healer Mages, he doesn't have to ask consent.  But if he shows up with Carthage Elephants, he does.  Maybe that should be cleared up in the rulebook...



Quote
I still think it's kind of freaky that there could be such a thing as an Impulsive Skirmisher.  It doesn't break anything at all, it just feels... weird. 

Yeah, I hear ya.  We had some more weirdness this last week.  I think I want to keep it though.  Weirdness is okay to me, as long as its balanced.  But I'll likely reduce the price down.