Battle Report – High Elves vs Empire

Even though I’ve been playing WHFB for over 10yrs now, I can’t remember a game I’ve played at 2500pts. So when English Andrew and I got together to play a good serious battle of 8th ed., I didn’t quite know what to expect, or field. Here’s what transpired:

Andrew’s 2500pt Evil Empire List
Arch Lector -Armour of Met. Iron, Shroud of Magnus
Captain – BSB, Shrieking Blade, Dragonhelm, Dawnstone
Warrior Priest – Warhorse, Biting Blade
Wizard Lord – Rod of Power, Holy Relic, Lore of Life (Earth Blood, Flesh to Stone, Throne of Vines)
Master Engineer – Pigeon bombs
Knights – x5, x5, x14
Spearmen – x29 – x5 detached crossbowmen
Halberdiers – x38 – x15 detached swordsmen
Great Cannons – x2
Mortars – x2
Helstorm Rocket

My 2500pt High Elf list was much more civilized:
Prince – Dragon armour, Charmed Shield, Vambraces of Defence, Ironcurse Icon
Noble – BSB, (Std. of Balance), Steed
Archmage (lvl 3) – Sigil of Asuryan, Guardian Phoenix, Lore of Shadow (Miasma, Pendulum, Pit of Shades)
Mage (lvl 2) – Dispel scroll, Lore of Death (Spirit Leech, Soulblight)
Archers – x10
Spearmen – x30
Spearmen – x30
DragonPrinces – x10
White Lions – x12
Shadow Warriors – x6
Repeater Bolt Throwers – x2
Eagles – x2

We rolled up “Meeting Engagement”, and Andrew deploys first. Two big units are in reserve – his Knights x15, and his Halberdiers x38, which means their detachment of Swordsmen is also kept off. Andrew seems to think this is a bad thing, but some units in reserve in this kind of battle is actually good!

I, on the other hand have to keep my Archmage, Dragon Princes, Archers and one unit of spearmen in reserve. Yikes! This is not how I wanted to play the game. This game I was experimenting with taking my fight to the enemy as quickly as possible, as I now believe that High Elves are much more dangerous actually punching heads than shooting at them; and with Andrew’s massive formations revealed, I’m glad I’ve gone this route.

Below is a summary of what transpired:

Above – All of Andrew’s warmachines are deployed in the far corner, and protected by the small units of knights. Because there are no serious HE threats anywhere near, everyone who can, slowly advances.

Above – High Elf deployment and almost the bottom of turn 1. I have yet to bring on my DP, archers, Spearmen and Archmage. All will be too far out of range to be in any way effective this turn.

Above – Top of turn 1 for Andrew’s Empire.

Above – Bottom of turn 2 – HE right flank.

Above – Bottom of turn 2 – HE left flank. One bolt thrower is already gone, and the other has taken 2 wounds. 1 DP is gone ( a loss of some significance, as you’ll see) and my right most spears are taking losses.

Above – Bottom of turn 3. I shift my Shadow Warriors to the left in the hopes of clogging up the massive Empire advance, and forcing some bad angles. This will happen. I’m buoyed by the fact that both these Empire units can’t take on my Dragon Princes, and that there’ll be a fairly even battle soon, with horde formations of Empire and HE converging on one another.

Above – A close-up shot of the centre of the battlefield, bottom of turn 3. A good looking table eh?

Above – Top of turn 4. Andrew’s Knights hit the Shadow Warriors who aren’t destroyed, but flee, unable to rally. As predicted the Knights are at a bad angle to my DP. Now I’m hoping to hit them in the flank, scatter them, and advance beyond the halberdiers with the attached Warrior Priest. Nice Knight unit eh?

Above – Bottom of turn 4 (almost). Perfect! Slam into the knights as planned. But even with all my attacks, and so few back, I can’t kill more than 2, so Andrew’s 2nd rank has 5 models and he remains steadfast! What a rookie – I don’t have enough models to disrupt his ranks! One more kill on his unit, or another rank on mine is all I needed! But no. This pic shows my expanded frontage after the victorious reform – now the two knight units will just girl fight S:3 attacks against 2+ or 1+ armour saves. The writing is on the wall for the High Elves.

Above – Bottom of turn 5. Artillery has much depleted my right Spearmen unit. When Andrew’s Spearmen hit them, I’m in dire straights, so I committed my BSB and Prince to the cause. The BSB is killed, and I lose the combat. My Prince (in the foreground), takes off – the beginning of the end. If the writing was on the wall last turn, it was written in Elvish this turn, with a large cock and balls diagram next to it.

Above – Bottom of turn 5. The DP are taking a beating, and are barely holding on – I roll a 4 for leadership! The left Spearmen unit (on the right side of the photo), are down to 10 men – from 30(!) due to pretty accurate mortar fire. The Archers and Bolter crew have begun discussing what PoW food they’re likely to get tonight.

Above – Bottom of turn 6. DP are done for, and get caught in the ensuing pursuit. Everywhere else, the High Elves are routed or dead. The game ends as a massive Empire victory.

Above – Bottom of turn 6. Unit of the match – Andrew’s artillery horde! Ya he rolled an average amount of misfires, but not one of them expired a unit. Unfortunately for me, he rolled an above average number of HITS on the artillery die, and my High Elves died in droves.

What was Learned
I learned alot from this battle, the most obvious of which is that Empire is an 8th edition powerhouse vs HE. Versus High Elves, Empire has it all – horde infantry, cheap boostable anti-magic, and artillery that shreds T:3 troops. I kept my 2×30 man blocks in horde formation because I thought it would lower the number of template casualties I was going to inevitably take. And it did! But I was still losing 6-8 elves per mortar/rocket shot, and there was nothing I could do about it with the army I had selected. You can’t sneak up hiding behind trees anymore, and 3 of those units fire indirectly anyway.

If I’m going to take massive casualties like that again, I’m going to have to go with the Lore of Life and toughen my troops. Unfortunately I don’t think the High Elf Lore cuts it anymore. It’s a 7th ed. lore, and its range is severely limited, with no options to boost distance or power levels. Heavens magic might have been a better choice, in hindsight, so I can take the Comet, and pound stationary artilllery pieces from anywhere on the table. As it was, I wanted to single out characters and defy Warrior Priest hatred with the magic selections I chose.

It was bad luck though, with almost 1/2 my army arriving late to the field. But I still don’t know what I could have done about that artillery – more than 1/2 of my poor High Elves disappeared in a red mist before making it into combat. Very frustrating game. But fun overall – Andrew as always, was a gracious opponent despite my dice pitching. Next post I’ll discuss the why of my army list and analyze it.