The First of Many (WHFB Battle Report)
Well, last Friday night I headed up to one of the FLGS’s in my area with a case full o’ Dwarfs and a pocket full of dreams. Okay, not so much with that second part, but the first part is true. I had arranged a meeting with a buddy of mine, we’ll call him J, to test out those shiny, new 8th Edition Fantasy rules. We didn’t know too much going into it; I had read through most of the book the previous Wednesday, and J had stolen many a glance that same night. The store we went to had a copy, but flipping through a book during a game definitely slows things down (especially when I’m also stopping to take notes for a battle report). We managed to slog through the mud of uncertainty, and came away from a 1,000 point game in roughly an hour. So that’s not too bad. But it’s even better when you consider the frequent stops for rules checks, note taking, movie/tv/online video references and the like. Here’s what our battle looked like (and I ask you to bear with me — I’m an amateur at the program I used, Battle Chronicler, and had to reconstruct J’s list from memory):
The Throng of Zanzuhf Kazad – This is the Dwarf army that I’ve had for over seven years. We were only playing 1,000 points, so I had to scale it back a little.
Dwarf Thane Gotrek Hammerfist — Great Weapon, Shield, Rune of Stone, Master Rune of Spite, Attached to (H)
Master Engineer Ufdi Burntbeard — Rune of Stone, Attached to (ST)
(H) 15 x Hammerers — Standard, Musician, Shields
(I) 15 x Ironbreakers — Standard, Musician
(Q1) 10 x Quarrelers — Musician, Shields
(Q2) 10 x Quarrelers — Musician, Shields
(ST) Stone Thrower — Rune of Accuracy, Rune of Penetrating
J’s Lizards – Yeah. . .I couldn’t think of a better army name. And I apologize if I can’t provide every equipment choice just right, but I was doing this from memory.
Saurus Scar Veteran — Shield, Attached to (SW)
(SW) 14 x Saurus Warriors — Standard, Musician, Spears
(K) 27 x Skink Warriors — Standard, Musician, 3 x Kroxigors
(S1) 3 x Salamanders
In 8th edition, now you roll D6+4 for pieces of terrain, and take turns placing them like before. You can use pieces of terrain from your collection, or make D6+4 rolls on the Random Terrain Generator (we elected to make only two rolls on said table). We rolled Mysterious Wood and Mysterious River, and, to keep things simple, decided to count both woods as mysterious. Then we rolled Dawn Assault for scenario, WHFB’s Dawn of War. Deployment zones are your standard 12″ from the board edge, but you divide your deployment zone into Left/Right Flank and Center. Each flank is 18″ from the short board edge (which we shortened to 12″, since we were playing on a 4′ x 4′ table). When you go to deploy, you roll a die for each unit. On a 1, they deploy on the Left Flank. A 2 means they deploy on the Right Flank. A 3 – 5 is the Center, and a 6 means you can place them wherever you’d like. The big kicker in this scenario is that one player deploys his/her entire army first. I was said lucky player, and after our random rolls, the board looked as it does above. Ordinarily, the player that deploys first gets the first turn, but this scenario has what amounts to Stealing the Initiative — the player that deployed last rolls a die, and on a 6 can choose to go first or second. J rolled a 6.
Top of Turn One — J’s Lizards
J marched his entire army straight at me. I had two missile units and a war machine, all of which have far better (and more reliable) range than his Salamanders, and most of his army was close combat anyway. His Stegadon climbed the hill and took a potshot at my Hammerers, but missed. Once the Salamanders reached the Mysterious Woods (and yes, I always say that with the cheesy, overdone “spooooooooky” voice), J rolled on the chart. He rolled a “1″, which is Normal Wood, so I made him roll again. A 2 — Abyssal Wood. Any unit within an Abyssal Wood causes Fear. Well, Salamanders already cause Fear. Bummer. Anyway, he was done and it was on to my turn!
Bottom of Turn One — Zanzuhf Kazad
Needless to say, my first turn was much more fruitful. I advanced my melee blocks to the water’s edge, but was afraid of getting wet. While rivers are no longer Impassable or Very Difficult (the latter something that has gone the way of the dodo), rivers do have some side effects, which I’ll describe later. My second unit of quarrelers moved forward to garrison the building to their front. The stone thrower took its first shot of 8th edition, right at the massive form of the stegadon, but even with the Rune of Accuracy (re-roll scatter), it couldn’t hit. The first unit of quarrelers, however, managed to cause three unsaved wounds on the Toughness 6 beastie. Go go Gadget Crossbows!
Top of Turn Two — J’s Lizards
Well, now it was charge time. The Skinks and Krox, heedless of any river (those aquatic jerks!), charged right through an into my Ironbreakers. Oh, and what did J roll for the Mysterious River? The scariest result on the chart — 1, normal river. The stegadon also attempted to charge, but ended out of range with a low roll, and trundled forward. The rest of the army again advanced.
Combat – Here the new combat rules really showed the changes. The skinks, at the highest Initiative (of three. . .wow), swung first but did no damage. Now the Ironbreakers got to strike before the S6, great weapon-toting, charing Kroxigors (which is an odd change to veteran fantasy players), and managed to kill one before it did anything. The remaining Kroxigors killed one dwarf. I was up in combat resolution by one (one rank, three wounds, banner vs. two ranks, one wound, banner), but as the lizards had more ranks than I did, they were Steadfast, ignored any modifiers, and passed their Break Test.
Bottom of Turn Two — Zanzuhf Kazad
My Hammerers attempted to get into the fight. Getting to pre-measure now, I saw that I was 14″ away from the Stegadon. Not to be dissuaded, I attempted the charge. . .and rolled a total of 13! Nuts. So the Hammerers eeked forward and set themseleves up for a nice charge by the Saurus Warriors. Meanwhile, between the two units of Quarrelers, I managed to bag me a Stegadon (I’m still not sure exactly how that happened). The stone thrower lobbed a shot at the Saurus, but again scattered, clipped one model and failed to wound (stone throwers are all S3 now, and allow armor saves).
Combat – Once again, the skinks had a hard time getting through hard-forged Gromril armor. My dwarfs managed to take down another kroxigor and a skink, and the last krox failed to do anything in return. Once again I was up in combat res, but the lizards were still Steadfast and held.
Top of Turn Three — J’s Lizards
Now things were getting crazy. The Saurus Warriors, as expected, charged into the Hammerers. The Salamanders moved up and fired into the building at my quarrelers. They managed to kill one, but six handlers were eaten as a result of misfires.
Combat – The skinks managed to tackle an ironbreaker to the ground and stick a knife in him, causing their first casualty. Well, my ironbreakers liked that not at all, eliminating the final kroxigor and three skinks for good measure. No longer Steadfast, the skinks fled and hid behind the salamanders. My dwarfs gave chase, but couldn’t keep up with the little lizards. They did, however, manage to smack right into the salamanders.
Across the field, the scar vet and Gotrek Hammerfist squared off in a challenge. Gotrek escaped unharmed, but managed to put a wound on his opponent. Right at this critical moment, J’s dice failed him in the most epic fashion I have yet witnessed. All of his S4 attacks availed him a single unsaved wound. My ten S6 attacks in return killed six saurus. Without enough ranks to count as Steadfast, and down quite a bit in combat resolution, the saurus warriors turned and ran, but were not fast enough to escape their pursuers.
Bottom of Turn Three — Zanzuhf Kazad
At this point, the game was essentially over. But J was a good sport, didn’t curse at his dice (much), and graciously agreed to finish the game so as I could write this here battle report. My Hammerers, now facing off into nowhere, took full advantage of the new musician rules, and passed a Leadership test to full reform and then make a normal move. With little else to shoot at, the stone thrower took a blind shot at the skinks (yes, stone throwers can fire out of LoS now) and killed eight. The quarrelers chipped in to take out six more.
Combat – The Salamanders did not fare much better in combat than the rest of J’s army. They managed to kill an ironbreaker, but the beardies responded by killing a salamander. A stomp attack took out another dwarf. Again down in combat res, the lizards managed to stick around.
Top of Turn Four — J’s Lizards
One of the nice changes about 8th edition is that you can rally, even if below 25% of starting unit strength, by rolling Snake Eyes. Unfortunately, the Skinks failed to do this. But they DID roll snake eyes for their flee distance. This is probably the best example of how J’s dice were treating him all day long. With nothing else to do, we went straight to combat.
Combat – The two remaining salamanders eliminated two more ironbreakers, but the dwarfs managed to kill one of the two big lizards and put a wound on the second. That was, apparently, enough for the salamanders, as they fled. It was not fast enough, though. The ironbreakers managed to run them down, and to settle a grudge from earlier, plowed right into the skinks and eliminated them as well. It was a victory for the Dwarfs!
I would like to attribute the victory to tactical brilliance, or sheer determination. . .but it was all with the dice gods. J’s dice abandoned him right after he rolled a 6 to steal first turn. He couldn’t buy a hit for any money. Tactically it should have been a solid matchup, but it wasn’t in the dice.
Looking back on the game, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The 8th edition rules just seem. . .clean. Since terrain doesn’t slow you down, when you pre-measure your charge range and see that you’re 7 15/16″ away, you know that if you roll a total of 8 or higher, you will reach. If you roll a 7 or lower, it’s a failed charge. Pre-measuring does change the game somewhat drastically, but now you have to win with tactics and strategy, and not movement shenanigans. It also eliminates arguing on whether or not something is in, because you can figure it out before you declare it, and if you’re not in, oh well, shoot at/charge something else. Warmachines are no longer the be all/end all I was expecting them to be. Bolt throwers are exactly the same. And while there are no partials, stone throwers are S3 now and allow armor saves, which makes a huge difference. You’ll score a lot more hits, yes, but against things like Chaos Warriors, those hits will be hard to wound with, and they will make quite a few saves.
At this point, I’m going to (tentatively) say that 8th edition is a major improvement. The rules seem simplified, clear and easier. The game pace just plain moves faster. And since you don’t have to sit there an worry about overly complex rules, you can spend more time focusing on what you should be focusing on — throwing dice and having fun!