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Brawl Diary 2003

This was the second time Id had the pleasure of attending my local tournament, the Bristol Brawl. The frist time I went, as a very inexperienced player, Id achieved my objective of not coming last by coming second to last. This time, I was out to gain a place and at least manage third to last.

Id redesigned the army that got thrashed last time and taken 1500 point of vampire counts, as follows: 1 Necromancer (general), lvl 2, cloak of mist & shadows (in zombies)
1 Necromancer, lvl 2, dispel scroll, book of Arkhan (alone, usually)
Carstien Thrall, flayed hauberk, wolf form, great weapon (in skeletons)

2x23 skeletons, full command
11 ghouls
12 zombies
6 black knights, full command
3 spirit hosts
5 fell bats

The format of the tournament is 3 games per day over two days. Terrain was placed by taking it in turns and then scattering all the pieces with the scatter die. For tournament points, there were 24 up for grabs in each game. Each margin of 100 VPs difference earned the winner 1 more point and the looser 1 less, starting at about 75 points difference, a change from the previous year which I liked. Did I achieve my objective? More importantly, did I have fun? Read on to find out.

Game 1
Bamber Loizou Orcs & Goblins

12 Boar Boys with a war banner, 12 savage orcs, 2x20 night goblins, 20 black orcs, orc boss, 2 goblin shamans, 2 bolt throwers.

Turn 1-2:
My plan for this game was to split the forces into two flanks where Id be able to crush one quickly and use the extra forces of overwhelm the other. Things went pretty smoothly to start with. On the left flank my bats, the spirit hosts and the black knights went up against the savage orcs and boar boyz, while the infantry faced off on the other flank. I managed to get a charge off against the boar boyz with the knights, and I killed 3 of them, taking no casualties. Sadly, he had the war banner which allowed him to win the combat. The spirit hosts began to whittle down the savage orcs but were still loosing a couple of wounds per turn. In effect, the hosts cancelled the savage orcs for the whole game, and manage to kill enough of them to get me half points. Meanwhile I cracked off a couple of Invocation spells to try and draw out the inevitable fanatics, but they were dispelled. The fanatics duly arrived and did hideous damage to one skeleton unit. The other bunch of fanatics, on 2D6 damage due to a magic item, all managed to fall short by some miracle.

Turn 3-4
The boar boyz eventually managed to destroy the black knights by combat resolution and advanced down the board to where my general was hiding in his zombies, so I moved that whole unit into a wood. The fell bats managed to charge a bolt thrower, run down the crew and run into and destroy the other bolt thrower crew, with the overrun from that taking them squarely behind his three units of infantry. The fanatics stopped anything from charging and rampaged about, dying and inflicting minor casualties on some goblins. One goblin shaman moved out of position to get away from the bats and was promptly charged by my wolf-form vampire: the shaman fled and got away. Next turn, the lone vampire was amazingly steamrollered by a fanatic: no question of just clipping the arrow went straight over the vampires base and it was bye-bye to my only combat character. The fell bats charged a unit if night goblins in the rear and, in an amazing display of dice rolling, managed to break them and run them down! The fact there were still five bats in the unit, thus getting me the +2 rear charge bonus helped an awful lot.

Turn 5-6
The boar boyz came down the table and tried in vain to get into a charge position on the generals unit hiding in the wood. The black orcs smacked into the unit of skeletons weakened by fanatic attacks. The orcs destroyed the skeletons and poised themselves to obliterate the other skeleton unit, now bereft of its vampire guardian. At this point, I also lost my lone necromancer to an ead putt spell. Things were looking pretty bleak for me, but I got the bats into position to charge the black orcs in the flank, buying me another turn to tie up my skeletons. Or so I thought. In another startling display, the bats actually broke and ran down the black orcs, general, shaman and all! Suddenly, everything had changed and I got the skeletons to charge, break and run down the final unit of goblins. Just when I thought Id got a winning draw out of the game, in the final turn the remaining goblin shaman got gorks warpath off on the boar boys, allowing them to charge and destroy my generals unit. The best thing was the despite having to take two crumbling tests on Ld 6, my heric Fell Bats didnt take a single wound!

Bamber won by about 350 points, which is roughly what he got for destroying my generals unit. That was enough to net him 15 tournament points, and nine for me. I was pretty happy with that start. Lessons learned? Well, dont try a refused flank unless youre sure you can crush the units on one side and second, dont leave home without your fell bats!

Game 2
Robert Sedgeman Lizardmen

2 x 10 skinks, 10 chameleon skins, 16 saurus with hand weapon and shield, 20 saurus with spears, 2 x 3 kroxigor, saurus hero, skink shaman, 2 jungle swarms, salamander.

Turns 1-2
I hate fighting lizardmen. Every previous game Id played against them Id been cut down by a combination of cold blooded break tests, uncatchable skinks and 2 ranks of spear-armed saurus with 2 attacks. However, after wed placed terrain, this looked like a very interesting battle. The scatter dice had left us with a very large forest, and a very large, long hill side by side in the middle of the table, totally blocking line of sight! We knew that whoever got to the hill first would be the one getting charged, but that they would get +1 CR for being atop a slope. I decided to be the one doing the charging, so I sat back. I did send the bats and spirit hosts up one flank though. Correspondingly, most of the skinks and the salamander and the smaller saurus unit came round the other flank toward my static forces. In the first couple of turns, the ghouls were wiped out by skink shooting and the spirit hosts managed to destroy his jungle swarms. The bats engaged and ran down one unit of skinks that my opponent had left near the rear of the table.

Turns 3-4
This is where things got interesting. The large spear saurus unit crested the hill, along with one unit of kroxigors. Id managed to pin the other kroxis with my spirit hosts. The skinks meanwhile crept round my flank. I charged my black knights into the saurus on the hill, hoping the armour would protect them from the spear attacks and ran my other unit up toward the salamander and skinks, which fled. The black knights simply bounced off the saurus unit: not a single wound caused! They were crushed by the lizardmen who overran 10 inches: just enough to see them crash into the flank of my skeletons. Meanwhile the other skeleton unit was causing complete panic on the other flank. Despite taking some heavy losses from skink firing they managed to cause the chameleon skinks to flee off the table and hit the salamander, which broke from combat and fled. The other saurus unit lined up to try and get a flank charge on the skeletons, but the overrun clipped the unit, so that ended up as a melee.

Turns 5-6
Again, things were looking pretty grim. One unit of skeletons was certain to be destroyed by the saurus, and the other unit had been heavily whittled down by skink missile fire. However, I had caused a few serious losses in return, and managed to restore some troops lost to skinks with invocation spells. The spirit hosts kept threatening to break the kroxigors, so my opponent, deciding the saurus unit inside my lines was able to handle the situation, turned the other kroxigors and flanked the spirit host. The cool spirits had managed to tie up six kroxigors for the whole, game, and took fairly minimal damage! Meanwhile the salamander rallied but was promptly charged and broken off the table by my fell bats, which followed it. The spear saurus unit crushed my skeletons as expected and destroyed a necromancer with them, so I moved my necromancer general out of the zombies and got him out of harms way, as I was concerned hed get charged by the spear saurus rampaging around behind my lines. However, on the other flank, the skeleton unit in combat with the other sauruses had been charged in the rear by the remaining skinks. This proved to be a big mistake: all the skinks missed and the saurus unit took heavy casualties at the hands of my vampire. The skeletons won and fear caused both the sauruses and skinks to flee. I correctly presumed the saurses would flee off the table so I chased and ran down the skinks, leaving me suddely in a position to charge the spear saurus in the rear! Sedgie decided discretion was the better part of valour and retreted the big unit rather than risk gobbling up the zombies for a few VP and risk loosing an awful lot!

Not actually a huge amount of casualties in this battle. Id accounted for all the skinks and a salamander, plus 16 saurus. In return Id lost the black knights, ghouls, one unit of skeletons and one necromancer. Sedgie edged it by about 75 points, which was just enough to lift it out of a draw: 13 points to him, 11 to me. A really enjoyable, tactical battle and the most fun I had all weekend. The close ones are always the best.

Game 3
Chris Legg Vampire Counts

2 x big skeleton units, 20 grave guard, 2 x 9 ghouls, banshee, blood dragon vampire thrall, 2 necromancers, 2 spirit hosts.

Turns 1-2
Chris is a local player at Bristol and Id played his vampire counts once before and got a draw, but we were both using different armies this time. Ill confess I was at something of a loss as to how to handle this army. I knew my knights couldnt break any of his units (obviously) and he had three big infantry blocks and so stood a good chance of flanking me. Amazingly, the answer was staring me in the face and I failed to see it. For spells, hed rolled the same for both is necromancers: invocation and the largely useless hand of dust. Id rolled the same spells for both of mine: invocation and gaze of nagash. All I had to do was sit back and blast his grave guard with magic missiles. But maybe by brain was addled by too much warhammer, maybe Im just too used to advancing, maybe I panicked without a plan, probably Im just an idiot. In any case, I advanced to meet the threat, managing to cause only a tiny amount of damage to the grave guard with magic missiles.

Turns 3-4
Stupidly, I charged the black knights into a unit of skeletons, hoping to achieve I know not what. His spirit hosts got around my flank and advanced inexorably toward my generals unit. On the other flank my hosts ran down and destroyed one of his ghoul units (worth half the points of the hosts) which took them too far away to be of any use at all. My unit of ghouls, covering the flank of the black knights were charged by his ghouls which, together with a banshee scream, broke my ghouls and ran the down. The black knights caused considerable casualties in the first round but were then destroyed by combat res. One of my skeleton units charged the grave guard (well, I was only going to get charged by them otherwise) and got completely destroyed. My other skeletons, with the vampire, charged his other skeletons and did considerably better. However, at this point they were about to be flank charged by the grave guard. My general was about to be charged by some spirit hosts and most of my other units had been destroyed and Id managed to account for a few ghouls. I surrendered.

24 to Chris, nothing to me obviously. I played like a complete idiot and deservedly lost by the largest margin possible. So, Id got 20 points under my belt today. Id managed a total of 36 the last year. I was left with some work to do if I was surpass my previous result!

Game 4
Colm McQuilkin Empire

3 x 10 handgunners, 3 x 10 archers, 2 cannons, mortar, hellblaster, 2 x 5 knights, 10 free company, 2 x 5 free company detachments, 3 lvl 2 wizards.

Boy did this scare me. The shooting power of that army was awesome and I knew that the wizards were liable to make short work of my spirit host missile screen. My opponent set up all his war machines on one flank then put a unit of knights on each flank. Everything else lined up in the middle a couple of inches in from the edge. Terrain had allowed me to claim the only hill on the table, which was a big help. I knew that if I could reach his line, even with a couple of units, itd go down like a deck of cards. I also knew that without a Ld 8 general, fear was going to be a real ally here. I sent all my fast stuff: the cavalry and bats down the flank toward the war machines. I ranked up everything else in the middle, with one unit of skeletons behind the hosts, and another behind the ghouls. I knew I was still going to take a lot of shooting in the flanks, though.

Turn 1-2
I won the roll to go first and advanced grimly. I couldnt do much else. I managed to get an invocation spell off and raised a new unit about 10 away from the hellblaster: not enough to block its LoS to anything, sadly. The knights on the flank tried to charge my black knights but failed a fear test. Then it was shooting time. The guess for the mortar was wrong but, as luck would have it the scatter die put the template squarely atop a unit of skeletons. Amazingly, out of about 15 hits, only 2 wounded! One cannon fired at the knights, killed a model and taking out a bat from the bat unit behind the cavalry. The other misfired but simply failed to shoot that turn. Then it was hellblaster time. It rolled 18 hits on my black knights, 9 for half range and killed one model. I couldnt believe my luck. The spirit hosts went down a base due to magic and Id used my only dispel scroll. My knights duly charged into his, which failed the fear test and fled off the table, panicking a cannon crew which also fled off the table. The zombies crept up toward the hellblaster, obscuring its LoS. Everything else continued to advance. My leftmost skeleton unit started to take horrific casualties from missile fire but I replaced a few with invocation.

Turn 3-4
Everything fell apart for the Empire. Its hard to believe just how unlucky some of his rolls actually were. The cannon fired twice more, misfiring on the bounce once and misfiring and putting itself out of action just when it had a flank shot on the black knights. The mortar hit the skeletons again, got a partial template on a necromancer out of a unit and failed to hit it. He miscast his spells so badly that my spirit hosts reached his lines without taking a further wound. He failed almost every fear test he had to make. It was just horrible to watch. The bats and knights destroyed every war machine on the flank and the unit of free company. The spirit hosts broke a unit of handgunnners off the table and one of their adjacent units panicked and went the same way. The only luck he had was passing all his panic test for wizards, which kept his magical defence and attack intact.

Turns 5-6
From here on the bats and hosts just strolled up the line, destroying everything in sight. The bats caught and killed two wizards and the third eventually panicked and ran into oblivion. One skeleton unit was still taking missile damage and eventually got caught and destroyed by the other unit of knights. The knights then went on to charge the other unit of skeletons with the thrall in it, which broke them in the last turn, bagging me the points for the knights as well.

Id destroyed almost his entire army, for the cost of one skeleton unit. Critically, my last turn attempts to bagsy some table quarters with Invocation spells failed and when we totted up the points hed got one tournament point. Id got the other 23. Although I think I had a good plan against this army, he was still atrociously unlucky not to do better. I have to say he stayed in good humour despite the dice and didnt complain once.

Game 5
Andy Winton Lizardmen

Some of the people at the tournament had swapped armies with each other. This was in fact the very same army I played in game 2. Andy had never played Lizardmen before today, so was still getting to grips with the army.

Turns 1-2
Curiously, the terrain dice managed to generate a not dissimilar situation to the last time I played this army. There was a hedge right in the middle of the board, with a forest one side of it and some rough ground to the other. All the main combat units crept up toward the hedge to play dare over who would try and charge first. I moved up my spirit hosts and ghouls, knowing they could charge through the hedge, to try and get a front-and-rear charge on the smaller saurus unit. The black knights were out on one flank, pinned in place by the chameleon skins. I raised some zombies to try and take care of the skinks but they proved too mobile and got around behind my generals unit, pinning it close to the edge of the board and stopping my general from allowing the other units to march. On the other flank the fell bats charge some skinks, broke them and pursued them off the board. Back at the flank with the knights, they were charged by some kroxigors who managed to kill only a single model! The black knights did three wounds, breaking and overrunning the kroxigors but finding themselves stuck in a wood.

Turns 3-4
The general and his zombies managed to get vanhels off on themselves, charging the chameleon skinks which failed the fear test and fled off the board. The bats came back on and were promptly charged by the salamander, which killed one. However, the collateral damage the bats did to the skink handlers proved too much: the salamander broke and the bats overran, catching the salamander but hitting the back of the second kroxigor unit which were lining up to charge my black knights as they emerged from the wood. Meanwhile the ghouls and hosts charged into the saurus unit but Id got my angles wrong and they both hit it in the front. It tied that unit up for the rest of the game, but the ghouls broke and failed to rally, and the spirit hosts were eventually destroyed by the combat res. The big spear unit moved through the hedge. Its flank was protected from one unit of skeletons by the forest, and Andy figured he could take the others on, vampire and all, since he had spears.

Turns 5-6
Andy was right. My skeletons piled in but were decimated by the spear-wielding saurses. The other skeleton unit moved up to get a flank charge, but couldnt quite make it due to the fact Id stupidly put a necromancer in the way! My vampire challenged his saurus hero but was cut down after failing both armour saves from two wounding hits. At this point, I figured I probably had another 15-9 draw on my hands, in Andys favour. In the last turn, my black knights charged the kroxigors (who had finished off the bats with ease) and I tried to get vanhels off on the skeleton unit, to catch the spear sauruses in the flank. It went off, but the general (who had cast the spell) was a long way away from the unit in question. Was it in range? Just! Andy tried to dispel but he knew I still had the book of Arkhan to use and so had to save a dice. He muffed the roll. In the skeletons went. They broke and ran down the sauruses and the general, bagging me about 500 points in all. The black knights and kroxigors failed to do much damage to each other.

15-9 win to me. Getting that last spell off made a big difference in the result. One lvl 2 shaman isnt quite enough magic defence against a vampire army, as it turned out. I was dead chuffed at this point as Id surpassed my total from last year and was lying fith in the days rankings, with a shot at taking a small prize (at the brawl, smaller prizes are handed out for each day as well as the big overall prizes)!

Game 6
John Harrison Skaven

This was another borrowed army. 4 units of clanrats, 3 ratling guns, 1 warpfire thrower, 8 (yes, 8) jezzails, 2 warlock engineers, chieftan, 3 rat swarms, and a few gutter runners and globadiers.

Turns 1-2
I didnt have much choice but to advance on this lot. My plan was to hit him with gaze of nagash (Id rolled it twice) and try and force panic checks to get his units off the table. The first was dispelled but I managed to hit the jezzails with an IF cast: it was out of range .. just! The next turn I managed to get one off to wipe out all the jezzails before they could cause any serious damage. He managed to catch my black knights with his swarms, preventing them from doing any real damage. I rolled absymal dispel dice in this game and the warp lightning spells really took their toll. The first one destroyed 10 of the 11 ghouls (from 10 hits!) the other one remaining unable to rally. The other took out a bunch of skeletons. One ratling gun was in range of my spirit hosts. It misfired but the scatter die shot it in exactly the direction of the hosts in any case, and it blasted them all to bits. All my cover was gone.

Turns 3-4
Further gaze of nagash spells forced one unit of clanrats to panic, but they didnt run off the table and rallied the next turn. The nerarby weapons teams all passed panic checks and proceeded to lay down a withering fire in concert with more 2D6 warp lightning spells, completely obliterating one skeleton unit and reducing the other to about 4 models. They were then charged by the clanrats and crumbled, allowing them to overrun into my generals unit. I conceded at this point.

The skaven walked away with all the points, but I almost managed to claim a single one for the combined total of the swarms, jezzails and half a clanrat unit. Not enough though. Id had my share of luck during the weekend and it was about time I had a bad run of the dice: I failed all my dispel rolls and my opponent kept getting his 9+ casting rolls and not misfiring with his weapons teams. Theres not much you can do against a shooty skaven army with rolls like that. Pride comes before a fall as they say, so I deserved the loss for gloating about managing 5th place after two battles. In retrospect I probably shouldve stayed back and used the superior range of gaze of nagash to take out his weapons teams. It wouldnt have stopped the warp lightnings though!

All in all Id had 4 really good battles out of 6, improved on my showing from the previous year, and had 6 polite, considerate and entertaining opponents. Who could ask for more? Roll on 2004!

View the overall results.