Date: 10th November 2019
Army: Legions of Grief with Penumbral Engine
Opponent: Kyle Duncalf - Draichi Ganeth Daughters of Khaine with Morathi
Game Type: Matched Play 2000pts
Scenario: Starstrike 2019 (rolled at random)
The board yielded a large amount of varied terrain rules, including a Commanding piece that had me salivating. Naturally Kyle took this side, to my dismay. I set up my Gravesites to be spread fairly evenly with Starstrike being relatively unpredictable, with 2 placed in front of my Penumbral Engine (represented by the square of blue dice, mine is still on sprue and i was meant to build it the night previous but ended up babysitting). Kyle easily outdropped me, having 7 to my 13. Having free choice of who starts and losing nothing by going second due to it being Starstrike, Kyle gave me first turn.
Didn't bother with a battle mat as it was a torrential downpour and the nearest one was inside.
Battle Round 1 - The Worst Trade, Maybe Ever
Acutely aware that a double turn would absolutely obliterate me, I was somewhat cautious to do anything too dramatic. I collected my free CP from the Penumbral Engine, spread out my backfield to prevent the two enemy units of Khinerai Heartrenders from having an easy ambush on my vulnerable support heroes, and moved my Grimghast Reaper bomb forward to the Gravesite 8" in front of it so it was tagged by 3 whole Gravesites as well as surrounding a Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed, giving them decent durability. My choices were down to holding back and risk the Daughters of Khaine getting a double-turn and boxing me in my own deployment for the remainder of the game, or move forward and deny this at the risk of facing an even more lethal double turn. I could have placed Gravesites hard behind his army and warped my general to them to bring on flanking units, but I was aware Kyle would simply drop his Heartrenders on the Gravesites and I would lose use of them completely. Apprehensive but confident I had done all I could, I passed to Kyle.
Kyle immediately began the bufforama on all of his threat units, particularly the Witch Aelves adjacent to my Grimghast Reapers. I kept asking him if he planned to cast Mindrazor (an exceptionally powerful spell and arguably the best in their book, it's literal only counter are ethereal models with bravery 10 as it grants improved rend, as well as improved damage if the target's bravery is lower than the attacker) which he politely ignored. Catechism of Murder (6's to hit inflict 2 hits) failed to go off (phew), but they still received received Sacrament of Blood (treat the battle round as one higher for their allegiance ability), the Witchbrew buff (reroll wound rolls + immunity to battleshock, often called Sippy Cup) from the Hag Queen behind the unit. Morathi, the High Oracle of Khaine and First Sorceress of the forgotten Druchii nation attempted to cast a single spell and failed it. The Cauldron of Blood awoke it's Avatar of Khaine and the army advanced forward, everything that could run and charge ran, and the Avatar fired a stream of boiling blood into the Grimghast which splashed off them harmlessly like water on rock. Then the Witch Aelves hit my front rank and swung 20 Aelves worth of attacks at full buff with bonuses on the charge to hit. The result is below.
5 Reapers remained standing. With their effectiveness utterly obliterated and the size of the unit diminished to the point it was only withing range of a single Gravesite before moving, i allowed battleshock to remove the unit rather than waste a point planning to return them to the other end of the table immediately and abandon the left flank to the aelf rampage. I had traded 30 Grimghast Reapers, costing 400+ points, for a single Witch Aelf. If i failed to return the unit, this would lose me the game.
At the end of this round going into the second we rolled for the first objective, which naturally landed center field i middle of some Witch Aelves. I rolled for my Penumbral Engine and it remained on the mode that gives me free CP. Priority roll came about with myself winning ties, sadly I rolled a 2 to Kyle's 4. He opted to take the turn.
Battle Round 2 - The Shadow Queen Emerges
Kyle, unimpressed with Little Morathi's behavior thus far, transformed her into her monstrous Shadow Queen form. The Hag and Slaughter Queens kept their buff train rolling, ensuring that the Witch Aelves were at peak efficiency. The army moved forward again and the Avatar of Khaine managed to laser off a few Chainrasps, which i pulled off the table away from the 6" pile in of the Sisters of Slaughter. Few charges took place, Morathi and the Slaughter Queen moved into the Dreadscythe Harridans on the right flank and promptly were surrounded. The Witch Aelves that had just finished destroying my Grimghast Reapers ran forward and wiped out the Myrmourn Banshee unit on the flank as well as the Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed. The Harridans managed to score the 3 wounds on Morathi she can take each turn, and the Slaughter Queen dodged death against the bone claws of the Harridans. Morathi roared in range and lanced out with Heartrender and her envenomed tail, but many blows fell flat as they simply passed through the ethereal forms of her attackers. While the Shadow Queen is more than capable of taking out whole units at a time, the deadly rend of her weapons had no purchase here and only 7 Dreadscythe Harridans fell. I spent a Command Point to ensure they remained on the table, and Kyle scored for controlling the center of the table.
As my turn began I made an attempt to cast Vanhel's Dance Macabre with the Necromancer, which Morathi denied immediately. The invigorating aura of my Gravesites returned my Dreadscythes almost to full fighting strength, and the Chainrasp Horde units around the middle of the table were fully restored as well. As the movement phase began my Dreadblade Harrow disappeared into thin air... appearing directly within 9" of the Gravesite near Morathi and just out of range of her shooting attack. With a whispered curse and the expenditure of a single CP, 30 Grimghast Reapers materialized within shouting distance of Morathi. My Chainrasp Horde secured the center of the table to protect my nascent advantage on the right flank, and the Harridans shaved off another 3 wounds from Morathi while she failed to kill more than 2.
The Penumbral Engine abandoned me right when i needed it as I rolled for it, switching to a presently useless Mystic Shield provider and stripping me of my valuable CP farm. The remaining objectives fell from the sky... both landing on the far left a whole board away from where my powerbase lay. We hit priority, and Kyle won again, opting to take the turn.
Battle Round 3 - Deadlock
Kyle buffed up, got his army up with all of their special effects and as many prayers as available to make sure his effectiveness was peak. The Slaughter Queen even used her prayer to enhance her weapon, planning to try carve as many Grimghast Reapers down as possible when they charged in on my turn, and as many Dreadscythe Harridans as possible before then. Morathi halted her attack on the ghosts swarming her briefly to attempt to cast Arzunipal's Black Horror, only for a lowly Necromancer to unbind it and end the attempt. The Khainite cultists began consolidating their board state, forced to split away from my onslaught to capture the new objectives. Morathi, angered by her failed casting, directed her poisonous gaze at a Knight of Shrouds who narrowly dodged being destroyed instantly. Morathi attempted to set about with her spear and end the perfidious gheists attacking her, but was instead brought down to a single wound herself. The Slaughter Queen charged into the Dreadscythes and sliced at them with her Deathsword, but failed to fell enough to make a difference.
As my turn begun the Necromancer successfully cast Vanhel's Dance Macabre on the 40 Chainrasps, Morathi failing to deny it. The Chainrasps then moved into position to drag the Cauldron of Blood while surrounding the Sisters of Slaughter holding the objectives on their side of the table. The Dreadblade Harrow disappeared in a wink and appeared in front of the Witch Aelves holding the backfield objective, and with another gesture summoned 24 Myrmourn Banshees to stand between himself and the aelves. The Chainrasps swept in and around doomed Sisters of Slaughter, and tagged the Cauldron of Blood on the back of it's base to prevent it supporting the line-holding attempt against the inbound Grimghast Reapers, who themselves came tearing down on Morathi and the Slaughter Queen as a stepping stone to the middle objective. Confident a crippled Morathi and lone support hero could not diminish 30 Grimghast Reapers, I activated my Chainrasps first and slaughtered the Sisters of Slaughter through sheer weight of attacks. Morathi flailed at the spirits, but to little avail. The Slaughter Queen weathered the scythes of 8 Grimghast Reapers, only to have her soul blasted from her body by the unit's Extoller of Shyish, his Deathknell erasing her permanently.
With the table now significantly leveled out between the two armies, and the tide of board control turned towards myself, priority meant everything. Unfortunately, should Kyle win the toss he would be able to simply move forward into my Grimghast Reapers with his screen unit to prevent me receiving both a move AND a charge with them next turn, and fall back with everything else to secure 2 of the 3 points. However if i won it, i would be able to swamp all three objectives as well as return my 2 units of slain Chainrasps to completely dominate the table and pull ahead by a handful of points by turn 5.
Sadly Kyle won the roll, and we called it. His early game lead had proven too much to overcome with my attrition, late game focus. THis pulled Kyle ahead in our personal standings to a clean 2/1 to him.
What went well
- Bumping up to two units of Dreadscythes after my game against Regan proved to be a wise choice, they once again pulled their weight.
- Dreadblade Harrow lived the whole game while contributing to game state in every turn, improving on my failings in the last game.
- I was able to more effectively screen off attacks against valuable units, and gauged the worth of each fight a lot better this time around.
What went poorly
- The Grimghast Reapers dying immediately because I went too far ahead was preventable, I should have forced the enemy to have to cross the whole table to alpha me if they got a double turn.
- Penumbral Engine is wildly inconsistent, it would be fine if it was free but it cost me 100pts so I'll be saying goodbye to it.
- Two units of Myrmourn is one too many for Legion of Grief, two is more viable in Nighthaunt where you can pop them up near enemy casters turn 1, not in Grief where doing so costs a wasted Gravesite.