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Grand Tournament heat one report

James Tait

My first GT took place on a scorching weekend in August, within the super-heated confines of Warhammer World. It was a great event - well organized (in my opinion at least) and lots of fun. My only real issues were the outrageously high temperature in the gaming hall, and the lack of time for each game (two hours is rather tight for 2000 points).

This was my list:
Templar Grand Master: General Albrecht von Plauen 250 Full plate armour, shield, lance, barded warhorse, Sword of Might (20), Laurels of Victory (70)
Captain Ottokar Verborgen 114 Full plate armour (8), shield (2), great weapon (4), Pegasus (50)
Captain Josef Wieland 114 Full plate armour (8), shield (2), great weapon (4), Pegasus (50)
Celestial Wizard: Lady Marlene Philomena 110 Level one, Lore of Heavens, 2 Dispel Scrolls (50)

10 Knights of the Order of the Heldenhammer 300 Inner Circle Knights, full command (40), full plate armour, shield, lance, barded warhorse
6 Knights of the Sullen Crescent 233 Inner Circle Knights of the White Wolf, full command (40), full plate armour, cavalry hammer, barded warhorse, War Banner (25)
5 Knights of the Order of the Heldenhammer 115 Full plate armour, shield, lance, barded warhorse
10 Archers Local Guides 80 Bow, Skirmish

5 Pistoliers Outriders 112 Brace of pistols, light armour, warhorse, Marksman with Repeater Pistol (17)
5 Pistoliers Outriders 95 Brace of pistols, light armour, warhorse
Great Cannon: Volkmar 3 crew 100
Great Cannon: Marius 3 crew 100

Steam Tank: Terminus Est Steam gun turret (25) 275
Total 1998

A hard list certainly, but to make things a little more interesting I didn't use the army at all before the tournament. This could also be considered stupid.

To get a good 'soft score', you also needed a theme. A theme is where you take whatever the hell you like in your army, then write a contrived little story to justify it. Here's mine:

The Averland Siegebreakers

The sky was red and black, the colour of smoke and flames. Albrecht spat to clear the taste of charcoal from his mouth, and then looked up again. Middenheim was burning. As he stared up at that polluted sky, he could see something moving like a great, ugly bird. The thing descended towards him, bat-wings flapping in a slow, beguiling rhythm, and he realised that it was not a bird at all-

"General von Plauen, may I speak to you for a moment?"
Von Plauen came fully awake and aware at once, realising he was still on the narrow road that wove its way through the Drakwald. Captain Wieland had landed his Pegasus, and now the animal trotted along beside von Plauen's less remarkable steed.
"Certainly, Wieland. What is it?"
"General, I've been consulting with the local guides. Apparently, the road becomes somewhat marshy in a few miles time. As far as I can tell, it should pose no difficulty for the greater part of our force, but I fear the Terminus Est and the heavy guns will not be able to pass."
Von Plauen frowned - Wieland had always been against the idea of bringing the artillery and, Sigmar forbid, the Steam Tank, on this mission. The man was a good soldier, but he would make a poor general.
"Wieland, as I have told you many times before, we cannot leave the artillery or the Terminus Est behind. You know well that our mission is to break the siege of Middenheim, though I pray that it has not yet begun, and to succeed will take more than a glorious charge of cavalry. The enemy has many terrible weapons, weapons that we will need the support of the cannon to hope to defeat. Likewise, the Steam Tank is the equal to any company of knights. We will find a way through."
"As you say General. I shall speak to the guides once more."

Von Plauen looked back over the relief force, as it trailed away along the road behind him. The Avermarshall had called for more troops to head north, and so they had - the greatest of the chivalry of the Grand County of Averland. Behind the knights, behind the Sullen Crescents with their fearsome hammers and the lance-wielding masses of his own order, rumbled the Terminus Est. It was a terrible sight to behold, wonderful and disturbing at the same time. The Tank dragged both of the heavy guns behind it, but even so it was able to keep pace with the knights. Recalling his day-dream of a few minutes past, Albrecht smiled grimly. The enemies before him were dreadful indeed, but he bore with him the wrath of the Divine Lord of The Empire. He would succeed in his mission, by strength, skill, and above all by the mighty will of Sigmar himself!

Before the first game, there was a brief multiple choice test on rules and background. As it turned out, I got 18/20.

Game one - Vampire Counts - "you think it's easy, but you're wrong"

Strigoi Lord (regeneration, +1 strength)
2 L2 Necromancers (no book of Arkan!)
30 Skeletons
2 units of 20 Zombies
10 Black Knights
4 Spirit Hosts
3 Fell Bats
8 Ghouls
6 Dire Wolves

I'm always oddly confident when facing the VC, and this game was no different. This list looked pretty strong to me, though a bit light on support units. I did a standard deployment, using my archers and pistoliers to give a false idea of where I was going to place my main strength. As a result of this, and some marchblocking by a pegasus, his knights never made it to combat (receiving a few cannon balls for their trouble). I moved both pegasus to threaten his necromancers (each was in a zombie unit) - he responded by moving them both behind their units, so I put one pegasus in front and one behind to get him either way.

His general's skeletons advanced down the middle with the hosts ready to take on my Grandmaster's unit. However, I was fairly sure I could dispose of them very rapidly indeed, so I charged the knights into the hosts and the tank into the skeletons (mostly as a delaying action). At the same time, I sent a pegasus into his necromancer - killing him and then fleeing to safety.

The Grandmaster chopped though the hosts nicely thanks to his magic weapon and the laurels of victory. Only one base was left, but it was now out of contact with the GM… Meanwhile, the tank impacted on the skeletons, crushing many but taking some hits from the vampire. It took until my next turn to kill the last spirit base, and by then the tank was in trouble. On his turn, it finally broke down.

However, my knights were now poised for the charge. His general's skeletons and the remaining necromancer's zombies were forming an L-shape around where the tank had been - this allowed me to charge both units at once with my knights, forcing them to align to me! At the same time, one pegasus hit the rear of the skeletons and the other (recently rallied) charged and killed the ghouls.

This initial charge saw me win combat by nine points; his vampire was unable to reliably break through the knight's armour. The zombies and necromancer vanished at once. On the following magic phase, the vampire miscast and was unable to cast spells for the next turn. It was too late for him - two more rounds of combat saw him vaporised by combat resolution, and the army began to crumble.

That was that. I had won by some sixteen hundred points - a massacre.

Game two - Khorne Demonic Legion - "is it a crisis or a boring change?"

Bloodthirster (!)
2 Heralds, one with battle standard
20 Bloodletters
5 Flesh Hounds
Nasty chariot
3 Bloodcrushers
2 units of 5 Furies

I've only faced the Demon Legion once before at Weymouth, and I was steamrollered. To make matters worse, this army had a Bloodthirster! I was starting to regret doing so well in the first game…

I actually had two hills this time (very rare), both near the corners, so I put a cannon on each. After some initial maneuvering, I had my wizard cast second sign of ammul (not really expecting it to go off). I miscast and rolled a double six (the spell is cast with irresistible force, but the wizard can cast no more spells and generates no dice). Not so bad actually, since it gave me three rerolls and my opponent of course had no magic.

So I sent two cannonballs winging their happy way toward the Bloodthirster. The first shot hit! I made the roll to wound, feeling fairly safe with my rerolls standing by, and wounded. He failed his ward! I rolled five wounds! My opponent took on a sick look as if someone had just run over his puppy. With only two wounds to go, I resolved the second shot. Miss.

The next turn, the Bloodthirster chased my cannon crew off the table. When he returned, I shot again. Miss. Then again - a hit, but a 'one' to wound. I never did kill the wretched thing, but at least I got half points for it.

I decided to go for the Bloodletters, who looked like a nice easy target for the knights - I charged them in the front, ran the tank into the nasty chariot and drew the Bloodcrushers away with, oh, archers or something I think. The chariot survived the hit, and took some points off the tank. The Grandmaster's unit caused a lot of casualties, but those demons weren't going anywhere in a hurry. I had to back the tank up and hit them in the flank before I finally took them out.

I then executed an epic wheel that brought my GM into contact with his lone BSB herald. This should have been and easy win, but it wasn't. The Bloodthirsterr turned up and killed the tank, then flank charged the knights while the chariot hit them in the front. I thought I was doomed, but the GM finally got his act together and killed the herald. In a burst of Laurel-fueled combat resolution I won the round by one, though the Bloodthirster wasn't giving up so easily.

That was it. A minor victory to my opponent, but only by fifty or so points.

Game three - High Elves - "got struck by the first volley…"

Battle Standard
2 L2 Mages
3 units of 5 Silver Helms
5 Dragon Princes
20 Swordmasters (with Lord and BSB)
4 Repeater Bolt Throwers

This was painful. Maybe the temperature was finally getting to me, but I started the game with the World's Worst Deployment. He won the first turn, and shot big holes in my tank. Then he shot big holes in everything else, and my cannon refused to even the score. I lost the tank to a Swordmaster charge, then I lost the knights as well.

Massacre to the pixies.

Cursing myself for my rubbishness, I went for a drink in Bugman's Bar. Then I saw a nice seminar on Ogre Kingdoms and had a passable meal, followed by a few more drinks. At this point, I got psyched up to perform better on the next day. After all, taking an über-army and then failing to qualify would be embarrassing... Nothing less than the honour of the Bristol Big'uns was on the line (sort of)!

Game four - Chaos - "rattled by the rush"

Mounted Lord/Hero (not sure which)
L1 Scroll Caddy
5 Knights with warbanner
5 chosen Knights
2 units of 6 Dogs
2 Chariots
3 Dragon Ogres
4 Screamers
5 Furies
4 Trolls

The next day, and I had slid far down the tables. I was now facing another chaos army, complete with a toy sword (part of the theme)!

Again, I used my light troops to vaguely suggest I might like one side of the table, then put all the hard stuff on the other. This meant that the Dragon Ogres and both chariots got to do nothing besides beat up the unit of five knights, then die to cannon fire. Well, OK, one Dragon Ogre did survive actually.

He had the first turn though, and moved all his knights and the trolls right up to my own knights and tank. I duly charged the chosen with both the tank and the GM's knights, and he fled! It was the right thing to do, since the unit was at the edge of my charge reach; I just don't expect to see chosen knights flee a charge.

My knights were charged by the non-chosen with the general. This began a very long session of attacks bouncing off armour saves. Round after round, we drew.

Meantime, both flyer units charged a pegasus captain and chased him off the table. When they returned, they swarmed around my cannon crew and received a little grapeshot for their trouble. My opponent decided to charge both units into my GM's knights, still locked in combat with the chaos knights. Four furies in the flank, four screamers in the rear. No kills and no bonus to combat resolution. Even worse, the screamers were an amazing target for my GM - three wounds with his magic sword on the no-armour, no-ward demons racked up six points of combat resolution thanks to the mighty laurels. The furies vanished, but still the knights held… that is until my pistoliers hit the remaining screamer in the flank, and I simultaneously killed the last knight. Off ran the general, and I ground him into the dirt!

Things did not go so well for the tank. It charged the rallied chosen, but only killed two (and I forgot to fire the steam gun. Again). That was that for the tank, though it ended the game on one hull point. Just half victory points for that then.

I won't even say what happened to the Knights of the Sullen Crescent, who were forced to charge the trolls. Let's just say it was unpleasant.

End result: minor victory for me.

Game five - Beastmen - "cos that kind of strength I just don't have"

3 units of 5 Khorne Minotaurs
4 units of Dogs - 2 of 6, 2 of 8
5 Furies
2 Giants (!)

Good grief! That's a lot of minotaurs!

He put three units of dogs on one flank - my five knights and a pegasus captain easily dealt with those. He also put one unit of minotaurs there, and I made very sure they never got into combat.

On the other flank came the Doombull's unit with a giant on each side. The other minotaur unit came up a little behind. I opened fire on the giants, and wounded one. Then I had a difficult choice - I wanted to charge the GM's knights into the Doombull's unit, but should the tank assist or should it hit the wounded giant and finish him off? I opted to hit the doombull with both. They went right through the unit with a satisfying crunch, running them down. The Sullen Crescents disapponted me by failing a terror test and runnning from the other giant, but my cannon soon took that monster out.

I now had a problem. My GM's unit had clipped the other minotaurs. Without the full number of attacks I should have had, I managed to lose combat by one. And broke. And was run down. As an encore, he wrecked the tank.

I now started moving everything I could away from his remaining units, whilst he tried to keep the giant out of sight of the cannon. Only one thing remained in danger - the Knights of the Sullen Crescent, newly rallied and facing the minotaurs. Expecting to lose, but with no other choice, I charged them in. To my amazement, they defeated and ran down their enemy!

The end result was a draw, though two hundred points in my favour.

Game six - Clan Eshin Skaven - "because there's 40 different shades of black"

Master Assassin - fellblade, talisman of protection
Assassin - warpstone stars
L2 Sorcerer - Brass Orb
L2 Sorcerer - 2 Dispel Scrolls
3 units of 10 Night Runners
2 units of 14 Gutter Runners with poison
5 Rat Swarms
2 units of 7 Jezzails

An all-skirmishing night fight list. Not a good match-up for my brave knights.

I was at a bit of a loss as to how to play this, so advanced up the field toward the jezzails. I put the unit of five knights bang up in front of the GM's unit, both to screen it and to ward off skitterleaping assassins. Then he started to jump models around - first a sorcerer showed up by the tank and lobbed a Brass Orb into it - nine hull points lost. For his next trick, he jumped the Fellblade-wielding master assassin up and chopped the tank into very small pieces indeed. Not nice.

I killed his rat swarms and one unit of jezzails. He killed a pegasus captain and had the other jezzails run and hide. Warpstone Stars and jezzail fire slaughtered the Sullen Crescents. Now though, I had a chance to kill the master assassin, already wounded twice by his own Fellblade. I charged him from close range with a pegasus captain, and that was the end of that. Sadly, the captain died next turn as he was mobbed by gutter runners.

In the last turn, I charged a unit of pistoliers into an already-wounded sorcerer. Yes, I failed to kill him with six attacks. Game over.

End result - minor victory for the Skaven by about 40 points! If I had been able to kill that sorcerer (as I should), or even worse, if I had actually remembered to contest the last table quarter, it would have been a draw.

It was all over, and I retired to Bugman's to moan about my failure to qualify - after all, 57 gaming points out of a possible 120 couldn't possibly be good enough. I was resigned to my uselessness at warhammer, and remained in good spirits during the awards presentation. Then the results were handed out. I found my name. Number 50! I had (just) made it into the top third, and had qualified for the final! It seems that my weak gaming score was buoyed up by my quiz result and, surprisingly, a high sportsmanship score!

Naturally I was rather pleased, and am now looking forward to the final. Since it's in February, I'm not expecting another sauna-style gaming hall… it will probably be more like a freezer.