Saturday, November 5, 2011

Warhammer: Ogre Kingdoms vs. Warriors of Chaos

(Not exactly Skaven, but in a sense, a prequel)
As some of you might’ve noticed, my last battle against the Ogre Kingdoms went rather well. While still retaining a humble posture, I do point out the fact that I’m not really surprised by the fact. Not because I’m a brilliant player or tactical genius (in fact I kind of suck at both) but because the ogres somewhat lose certain elements of their new advantages. Against Skavens that is. As I argue in my article; yes, they hit hard, but pretty much everything hitting just moderately hard splatters skavens. They have some new nasty shooting but the Ironblaster is still a cannon and our characters still hide in regiments, while our Aboms regenerate. It’s bad news for the Doom Wheels, though. The Lead Belchers, grape shots and Snipoisoning Man Eaters can be outmaneuvered or bypassed by the Storm Banner.
I disagree with people saying we’re ineffective against the ogres. We’re certainly not in a bad position.
When I heard two friends of mine were going to battle out a clash between Warriors of Chaos (aptly nicknamed ‘Wizards of Chaos'. Most of the times I see more caster-characters than warrior counterparts) and the new Ogre Kingdoms? I was absolutely going to see it happen.  So we gathered at my place and I want to share my experience and opinion of the battle.
I’ll have to admit; I’m annoyed by WoC. Not that I wish to cry out for nerfs (only a little, perhaps) but it’s an insanely good army with very little potential for error.  And for an army that’s supposed to be ‘meleecentric’ it still comes with an awesome, awesome cannon and some pretty spectacular lores of magic. They’re not amazing but boast some really sweet spells. On the top of that you find a few very potent magical items. The ever hated Infernal Puppets comes to mind.
But perhaps I should clarify myself. I don’t loathe the army per se. I loathe how easy it is to achieve victory with, even in the hands of untrained players. Push your frenzied troops towards the enemy line and eventually you will likely smash it. In other words, if you're able to push physical objects, Lord Archaon likely has a job opening for you.
The WoC are supposed to field relatively small armies, compared to other sides. On the other hand, they have some decent core choices with the initial price of a clan rat (they're naturally upgradable, making them a bit more expensive in the end) meaning they’ll often field big chunks of great-weapon marauders. It’s cheap clusters of pain for a manageable price. Clusters that can’t just be ignored. Again, this leads me to the question; is there anything this army is inherently bad at? It has weaknesses, sure. But they’ve always seemed relatively minor to me.
And before you flame me, let me just say that I DO like the WoC army. I even have one myself. But the few times I’ve used it, I’ve always tried to avoid the dual hell cannons, marauder-chosen-war shrine-spam and actually use some of the underdogs. It’s a good army in its own way, mechanics- as well as fluffwise. I’m just annoyed to see so many easy victories from it.
For the same reason, I’ll gladly admit rooting for the ogres.
What I, the WoC- and the OK-player expected
 I had the pleasure of talking to both players before the battle.
“Roque” – Ogre Kingdoms
I suppose I’m basically expecting the usual thing we see in a WoC-army. A Hell Cannon, at least two hordes of marauders wielding great weapons, a regiment of warriors and a wizard on a disc. The rest is, of course, optional, but I suspect a regiment of knights. I’ve brought two Iron Blasters to deal with the worse threats, through grapeshots if necessary. I have a butcher with lore of the great maw and one wielding the lore of Heavens. The Man Eaters are equipped with Scouting and Poison for some early disruption and the remaining points are spent on Iron Guts, Lead Belchers, Mournfangs and ordinary ogres. Some went into protecting my casters, especially from the Infernal Puppet, which I am definitely expecting to see.
I’ve also added a few Gnoblar regiments of trappers. Hopefully their traps will be able to take out some of the charging marauders. I added in two Sabertooths for harassment and road blocking.
“TheHawk” – Warriors of Chaos
I want to try something new this time. I’m actually going in with a Demon Prince and the Troll King. Throgg is one of the best characters you can lay your hands on, if you judge purely from a cost-efficiency perspective. Though I wasn’t able to squeeze in a whole regiment of trolls, I want both of them to roam freely on the battlefield and see how many injuries they’ll inflict.
I also wanted to try something entirely new. I didn’t bring an Infernal Puppet (Maynard - respect!). Besides that I’ve stuck to what works. A Hell Cannon is never a bad idea, two regiments of warriors and two solid blocks of marauders. I also added the upgraded Spawn. I skipped knights this time and decided to leave the Chosen of Chaos as I had trouble fitting in both them and a War Shrine. Hopefully this will do.
I expect to see a lot of shooting from the ogres, so I’ve tried to include some banners for protection along with marks for my units. I think I dread the Iron Blasters the most.
When the unstoppable force hits the immovable ogre 
The battle, although I didn’t bother to record it in detail, was a solemn testament to the old saying; Things went well. Then Chaos got into melee.
The ogres did in fact have a promising start of the game. The terrain didn’t offer anything huge except for a necrotic river and a fungal forest, none of which had any impact on the game. The ogres drew Trollgut, Spinemarrow, Curse of the Midnight Wind, Urannon’s Thunderbolt, Come of Casandora and Iceshard Blizzard. Chaos rolled Flickering Fire for both casters and Call to Glory and Pandaemonium respectively. Chaos went first.

The magic phase, however, wasn’t what made the game for the ogres initially. At least not in a direct sense. Besides some casualties to shooting, mostly involving war dogs and some attempts to take down the advancing spawns, the disc-sorceror got off a Flickering Fire on an Irresistible Force, rolling a four on the table. Although he avoided being sucked into chaos, he received a wound and blew up some marauders in the following explosion. Needless to say, the Hell Cannon also misfired and caused a miscast for every wizard. Whereas the ogres got through this with only one wound inflicted on the butcher, the disc-sorceror and general died and the demon prince lost a wound. This could’ve been an important crippling blow, easily able to turn the battle in the ogres’ favor.
The only close combat was the annihilation of some dogs by the Man Eaters, which left the OK with very light casualties.
And did they try their best. Besides from moving up closer for some brilliant shots, the magic phase allowed the butcher to  get off a meteor, neatly placed between the two regiments of marauders and warriors. It was allowed to grow for two turns before striking and taking out several marauders but very few warriors. I would personally have given priority to Trollguts at this time, but that’s just me. The shooting wasn’t entirely bad either, as grape shots from both cannons did their share. Another five hounds were obliterated and the other Iron Blaster managed to inflict two additional wounds on the demon prince. I imagine this was one of the points in the game that could’ve been really crucial. Just one more wound and the prince had been slain, forcing the Troll King almost right behind him into a panic check. Even then, he’d have to move all over the hill before engaging the cannon, leaving more time for shooting. But Fate didn’t intend for it to be so.
During round two, WoC charged the first Iron Blaster with the demon prince. This is one of those moments in which I was lost in my own thoughts, since it might’ve flipped the game around quite a bit. People are still (fiercely) discussing whether Iron Blasters are able to stand and shoot, since they’re practically chariots. In the other (and in my opinion, more reasonable) line of thought one might very well argue that they’re cannons. An FAQ will likely solve this.
Either way, the demon prince charged the cannon, won the combat and ran it over. The Troll king was right in his trails, while the marauders started their first charges against the gnoblars. They certainly took some casualties, but nowhere near enough to justify their presence in the OK-army, in my opinion. The ogres had brought a Hellheart but since the demon prince had nothing to cast the magic phase was quite uneventful.
The Hell Cannon's shot went right into the BSB and general who both failed their LoS. The BSB was spared the brunt of the damage by a lucky ward save whereas the regiment lost four wounds. The Lead Belchers lost combat with the Chaos Spawn but held their line. Same couldn’t be said for the miserable gnoblars who were swiftly overrun by the marauders who were now heading straight for the Ironguts.
It has to be said that the ogres had really bad magic phases, dice-wise, during most of the game, rarely exceeding five dices. On their turn they attempted to bolt the demon prince who faithfully survived and their shooting attempts didn’t work out as planned. Only in the third round, in which the butcher abandoned his regiment of Ironguts, did he manage to blast the head off the prince. The Hellcannon, however, inflicted a panic test on the Man Eaters who turned tail and ran off the board. This was likely the major turn point in the game, since the entire right flank had collapsed for the ogres. On the left, four Mournfangs had charged the Troll King and it was obvious that they needed to deal with him swiftly, before the 15 chaos warriors would bash into their flank.
Throgg, however, is not just any troll. Besides from his obvious regeneration and powerful stats, his vomit is downright nasty, especially on Mournfangs who’re so sensitive about their armor save. Even though they did inflict some wounds they didn’t get off the charge and the regen-save worked wonders for the troll. In the end they lost the fight and ran off, only to be caught and eaten.
At this point the Lead Belchers were the only thing guarding the right flank and even though the Ironguts annihilated the marauder horde, another small regiment was approaching. Two units of barely touched chaos warriors were getting close as well and when the last Iron Blaster misfired and cracked, they decided to play one more turn, in which the butcher-general was slain.
It can all go down in a hurry 
This game was also a testimony to the fact that everything can go down in such a hurry. A single bad roll at the inappropriate time is very capable of losing the entire game for you, and in this case there were quite a few of them. Even when being off to a great start, losing four equipped Man Eaters worth 50pts each is simply something that shouldn’t happen so easily. But it did.
Losing the flank was one thing, but the poor magic phases didn’t help much either. I was amazed not to see Trollguts go off till the very last round, in which the Butcher targeted himself. Though never entirely certain, I’m pretty sure it could’ve made a difference, at least for the Mournfangs.
Pitting them against the troll king might not have been the best idea. I understand that Roque needed to address him, otherwise he would run rampant through the lines, which could’ve been equally bad. I can’t say I blame him either. Regeneration-precaution is not the first thing I pack when I prepare for WoC.
We could argue that this analysis is somewhat flawed since its foundation consists of a discrepancy between the expectancies from the two players. The OK player had prepared for knights and a more classical setup, but we might again wonder how much a difference it would’ve made. There were simply too many cases of pure bad luck and merciless rolls.
I’ll still argue that the ogres certainly have improved for the better. Of course, some would say it could only go one way, anyway. It was evident from the playstyle of their opponent that he had at least a healthy respect for their firepower, which should by no means be underestimated.
Ogres still suffer, however, from some of the old issues. Some of these are more due to circumstances rather than mechanics. They have a really nasty tendency to run off, and when you’re looking at the sheer amount of points making it over the table edge it's almost absurd. Especially compared to WoC whose units are often able to reroll panic tets. I imagine the incitement for this rule refers to previous statement about the (supposed) small size of said armies, stressing the importance for units to stay on the battlefield. One might consider something along the same lines for ogres, perhaps.
The low to non-existent armor saves is ever so present. I suppose that on paper, you shouldn’t have armor when you have three wounds. WoC is known for its great killing-potential, admitted, but I sure saw some of the ogres fall at a rapid pace.
I imagined they’d suffer a bit to the chaos warriors’ high initiative, before they even had a chance to strike back. It wasn't a big deal in this game, however, since they often clashed with GW-Marauders. The chaos warriors never made it into melee, so it's not a thoroughly conclusive statement.
It was a good game, no doubt. But it went down in a hurry. The original six turns were concluded half into the game and for the same reason it’s really hard to say whether the new ogres stand a much better chance against the WoC. I frankly imagine that they do. But it’s pretty certain that luck is still a factor that should be considered. Perhaps to a bigger degree than what we’re used to.
As for now, I’ve decided to take Hawk up on his next battle and see what harm I could bring to the WoC with the new plague-theme. Stay tuned! : )

No comments:

Post a Comment