|Orcs and Naiads fight for loot over a suitably wintery battlefield|
This is the first report that I'll be doing from the Hutt Runefang IX tournament. Sadly this didn't take place in an awesome old church, but I was a fun tournament anyway. As with the WWSS tourney, my goal was to finish mid-table, but ideally to do it in a more convincing fashion instead of relying on a time-out and a bye.
My first game was against Peter Williamson's naiad-heavy Forces of Nature army. I've faced forces of nature before but that was a very different army. I'm not that familiar with naiads (either Ensnarers or Wyrm riders), or Hunters of the Wild, I know that Tree Herders are tough and flying Beasts of Nature are really annoying. Pete is also a good player, so this would be a challenge.
Ax horde 205
- Godspeaker, banechant, heal 100
- Skulks, 75
- Giant 190
Ax horde 205
- Godspeaker, banechant, heal 100
- Skulks, 75
- Wardrum 80
Morax regiment, brew of sharpness 245
- Godspeaker, heal, inspiring talisman 105
Gore Rider regiment, mace of crushing 190
- Flagger, gore mount 65
Gore Rider regiment 185
*Orcling horde 90
*Orcling horde 90
Force of Nature
Naiad Ensnarer horde 230
- Hunters of the Wild Troop 135
- Druid, banechant 80
Naiad Ensnarer horde 230
- Tree Herder 260
Water Elemental horde 220
- Beast of Nature, wings, lightning bolt, vicious 240
Naiad Wyrmrider horde 240
- Winged Unicorn, lightning bolt, Myrddin's Amulet of the Fire-heart 200
Centaur Bray-Strider regiment 155
Terrain and Deployment
The scenario we were going to play was Push, not a bad scenario for orcs who want to be on the opponents side of the board anyway. The map was also favourable for orcs, with a couple of large, open fields to limit the effectiveness of pathfinder and provide me unhindered charges. Pete got to choose sides.
Pete deployed his infantry in the middle of the board, with the fliers behind them (giving them good coverage of the battlefield), and his Wyrmriders, Centaurs, Treeherder and Hunters on my left. He refused the right flank, relying on the building and the fliers to protect it.
Both of his tokens were placed on the Naiad Ensnarers, ensuring that they wouldn't be easy pickings.
My strategy was fairly standard, use the Ax as a meat shield to protect loot-carrying Orclings and Morax, and use the skulks to prevent multi-charges on the hordes.
Given the way that Pete deployed, I placed all of my cavalry on the right in an attempt to rush up around the building and flank his Ensnarers, I also put the Giant with them to add more meat and discourage any big birds landing among the easily startled cavalry.
I thought about placing one of my loot tokens on the Gore Riders (something which my opponent was encouraging me to do as well), but given their tendency to break I decided against it. Placing one of the tokens on the Orclings gave me the option of moving them out to the right, and to shield them with the cavalry and Giant.
Pete also won the roll off for turns and elected to go first (which suited me).
Turn 1 Forces of Nature
|The Forces of Nature advance at full speed|
The Forces of Nature kicked off by advancing everything at full speed toward the orcs. The Hunters and Tree Herder both took cover behind the forest, as the Centaurs and Wyrmriders climbed the hill.
The Naiad advance was slower, with the Winged Unicorn and Beast of Nature both jumping in front of the right horde. Together they lightning bolted the Skulks for 6 points of damage and wavered them.
|The Forces of Nature advance around the forest|
Turn 1 Orcs
|The orc advance is stalled|
The wavered Skulks were a major hindrance to the orcs, preventing most of the infantry from moving up more than a few inches and forcing them to surrender the open ground in the middle.
In response the Giant and one of the units of Gore Riders turned inward, hoping to discourage any further advancement from the Naiads. The Gore Riders turned in such a way to allow them to charge the Beast of Nature if it attacked the Giant.
The Orclings with the token also decided to turn toward the flank and head for the building.
The left hand Ax horde also elected to stay out of the forest and wait for the rest of the orcs to reorganise.
Turn 2 Forces of Nature
|The forces of nature bear down on the orcs|
With the Gore Riders and Giant threatening a flank charge, the Naiads slowed down. The left horde only moved far enough to claim the middle token, and the right one took cover behind the building.
The Tree Herder and Hunters entered the forest, giving them a good charge on the Ax Horde next turn. The Wyrmriders elected to move around the forest, setting up a devastating triple charge, as the Bray Striders moved to support them.
Water Elementals turned toward the right flank in response to the flanking Gore Riders.
The fliers opened fire on the Skulks again, finishing off the wavered unit and wavering the other, stalling the orcs for another turn.
Turn 2 Orcs
|The Godspeakers push the cowardly skulks aside|
The wavered Skulks reformed to face the Treeherder and hunters, offering themselves up as juicy bait for the Naiads and also allowing two of the Godspeakers to put four damage on the front Ensnarer horde. (the other healed the Skulks for 2)
One of the Gore Rider units continued to traverse the building, but the other remained where they were to discourage fliers from moving out to the flank. The Orclings also turned slightly to provide further protection against flier shenanigans as the Giant moved into charge range of the Naiads.
|The orc flanking force in action|
Turn 3 Forces of Nature
|The attack begins|
The Beast of Nature began the attack in earnest, flying into the Godspeakers and wavering one of the them. The Naiads followed closely behind, breaking the Skulks and turning to face the Ax horde.
The Naiad Wyrmriders and Treeherder charged the Ax horde, but there wasn't enough space for the Hunters to join as well, meaning that they could only do 6 damage to the well-armoured Ax.
Behind the front lines the Centaurs moved in to cover the centre as the Water Elementals continued shambling over to the flank.
|The Beast of Nature claws at the Godspeakers but can't break them|
Turn 3 Orcs
|Morax love flanks|
The orcs were in a good position to counter-attack. The Ax horde rushed over the wall at the lead Naiads, as the Giant covered their flank. Whilst neither stood much chance of breaking the net-wielding fishmen, this did allow the Godspeakers to scatter to safety.
It also opened up the Beast of Natures' flank to the Morax, which they took with relish. The orcs will be having big bird for dinner.
The other Ax horde were banechanted and elected to charge the Tree Herder doing 7 damage to it. Whilst they stood a better chance of killing the Wyrm Riders, charging the Tree Herder moved them within range of the Wardrum, giving them a slightly better chance to survive the next turn.
On the right one unit of Gore Riders moved in to support the Giant, as the Orclings continued their journey into enemy territory. The other unit of Gore Riders backed out of range of the Water Elementals.
Turn 4 Forces of Nature
|The orcs' left flank begins to crumble|
The death of the Beast of Nature had reduced this to a war of attrition, thankfully the combined strength of the Wyrmriders, Tree Herder and Hunters were able to crack the Ax horde despite the Wardrum.
Less progress was made elsewhere. The Naiads failed to break either the Ax horde or the Giant, and the Winged Unicorn's lightning was insufficient to finish off the wounded Godspeaker.
The Centaurs continued to wander into the middle of the battlefield with a goal of collecting tokens from the beleaguered Naiads.
Turn 4 Orcs
|The waver token was on the other Naiads - oops|
With an emerging war of attrition in the middle, the Morax and Orclings moved to engage on the left. The Orclings added a couple of more points of damage to the Treeherder, stalling it and the Wyrmriders whilst the Morax cut the Hunters to pieces.
The Wardrum charged the Naiad's flank, hoping to put a few extra wounds on and assist the Ax horde. Between them they brought the Naiads up to 11 damage, wavering them.
The Gore Riders joined the Giant and were less successful, piling on 9 points of damage.
|The orcs about to break through|
Turn 5 Forces of Nature
|The centaurs take the loot|
The Naiads in the middle healed down to 6 damage, meaning that they were likely to survive the grind from the Ax horde.
The Naiads on the right were far more successful, healing all but 3 points of damage and smashing the Giant up to 13 points in total, wavering him (not that he minded).
The Naiad Wyrmriders ran down the Orclings, as the Tree Herder hit the Morax for 3, holding them up whilst the Wyrmriders reformed.
The Water Elemental ambled forward, forcing the reluctant Gore Riders to engage them. The centaurs also turned around to face the Wardrum's flank.
The Winged Unicorn finally zzzapped the Godspeaker, denying the orcs some of their magical support.
|Not only are Wyrmriders stronger than Orclings, they also have nicer rocks|
Turn 5 Orcs
|The orcs take the lead, but will it last?|
The orcs continued to counter-charge. The furious Giant and unhindered Gore Riders managing to pile on enough damage to overcome the Naiads' healing abilities and scattering them, claiming the token and pushing it back onto the FoN's side!
The Ax horde and Wardrum again failed to break the other Naiad horde, barely damaging them. However, the Ax horde did pick up the token dropped by the Morax, hopefully securing it until the end of the game.
On the left the Morax counter-charged the Tree Herder. However the Godspeakers foolishly elected to heal the three points of damage on them rather than banechanting, meaning that the tree survived, and the Moraxes' flank was exposed (oops!)
With no other options the Gore Riders charged into the Water Elementals, but couldn't break them. The Orclings moved up to support them if needed.
Turn 6 Forces of Nature
|The exhausted orcs begin to fall|
Whilst the orcs were now in the lead, they had a large number of weakened and exposed units for the Forces of Nature to take out. The Giant finally fell as the Winged Unicorn charged him in the flank, and the Morax were shredded by the Wyrmriders and Treeman.
The Centaurs finally engaged the Wardrum's flank, massacring the deranged orc drummers.
The Naiads also pushed forward, doing 7 points of damage courtesy of a banechant from the Druid.
The Water Elementals showed why the Gore Riders were right to have avoided them, running the orcs from the field in a single charge. However they were left unable to charge the orclings next turn.
|The Morax die and the Ax horde take a pounding|
Turn 6 Orcs
|Things are looking a bit grim for the Ax-horde|
Whilst their numbers were rapidly declining the orcs were still in the lead, and would win if the game ended this turn. However if there was a turn 7 the badly damaged Ax horde would be charged by the Ensnarers, Unicorn, Centaurs and potentially one of the flanking units. Having already taken 8 points of damage they were unlikely to survive this.
This left them with a difficult decision. They could drop the token and then shuffle sideways on top of it which would prevent the Forces of Nature from taking it, guaranteeing at least a draw, and giving a win if the horde survived. However this would mean that the orcs threw away a win if there wasn't a turn 7.
As it was the orcs elected to play it safe and dropped the token, The Godspeakers also moved to block the Wyrmriders and possibly take out the badly damaged Tree Herder (they could only waver it however).
The Orclings shuffled around to ensure that the Elementals couldn't charge them, as the Gore Riders rounded the house to take a chance of breaking the elementals on turn 7 (I think I forgot about the token and moved them too far).
I rolled the die for turn 7... and it was a 1 resulting in a draw.
Well that was fun, and a fair result. As it was Peter had just killed enough to get a +2 modifier, giving him 10 points to my 6 (shame that I didn't take out that Tree Herder). Thanks to Pete for an enjoyable and challenging game to wake both of us up for the tournament, and to Neil for painting the great-looking Naiads for this army.
As for my play, overall I'm happy with how the army is running and how I played it. I did mess up one or two things, I shouldn't have exposed the Godspeakers, even though that ended in my favour.
I really should have bane-chanted the Morax when they charged the Tree Herder that was a really stupid decision that my opponent noted almost immediately. I'd got over-confident thinking that 5+ would be enough. But never mind.
I got very lucky breaking that Naiad horde, but to my mind that balanced out the pretty good regen rolls they were getting, still that was a big blow for Pete.
One thing that I couldn't have done anything about was the Skulks wavering. This was a pain as it stalled my advance in the first two turns, knowing me though it probably also prevented me from exposing a flank to the Wyrmriders so it might have worked out well.
This leaves the final decision to drop the token (which I moronically called a prisoners' dilemma, someone slap me for being an idiot). One of the other players commented that this showed mild risk-adverse behaviour and he's right.
If I had held onto the token I would have had a slightly better than 50% chance of winning the game - 50/50 with turn 7 + approximately 1/18 for the Ax horde surviving. The Naiads would have dealt an average of 6 wounds if bane chanted, with 3 more from the hindered Bray-striders and 2 - 3 from the Unicorn. This would have put them at 19 or 20 wounds, meaning a 2 or 3 twice would break them, not great odds. Given that I thought I was behind on kill points, I preferred the safe 5 - 6 tournament points rather than risking 1 - 2 with a chance of getting 10.
I'd like to know what other people would have done in that situation though, particularly if you think my calculations were wrong :)
The draw meant that I would either play Carson's large-infantry Forces of Nature army, or Pete's Ratkin. I got Carson, so more pathfinders and Wyrmriders next time.
Also thank you Tom Annis for telling me about Dan King's youtube report, there's only one, but it's good to see how top players use orcs.
As always thanks for reading, I'll get the next game up as soon as possible.