Monday, August 15, 2016

Analysis in Defeat

Hi Sigmarites,
Today I'm going to do something a little different. I had my first game with the General's Handbook last weekend, and unfortunately it didn't go so well for the Shadowborn. If we'd played it out, pretty sure it would've seen the entire army wiped out to the last! And you know, after every defeat sometimes you get a bit mopey and negative about it (Sorry Colin!), but then you've got to look at what you did and what you can improve upon next time.

So let's break down where it all went wrong!

Perhaps the first place to start is the place before the battle even begins: List Building. Let's take a quick look at the two lists.
Chaos Lord
Chaos Sorcerer Lord
10 Chaos Warriors with Hand Weapons and Shield
10 Chaos Warriors with 2 Hand Weapons
20 Gors with Hand Weapon and Shield
10 Chaos Chosen
5 Chaos Knights with Chaos Glaives
5 Marauder Horsemen with Javelins
1 Chaos Warshrine
1 Chaos Gargant
2000 Points, 65 models, 144 Wounds, 11 units

Stormcast Eternals
Lord Celestant
Knight Venator
5 Liberators
5 Liberators
5 Liberators
5 Judicators with Crossbows
5 Retributors
5 Protectors
3 Prosecutors
2 Concussors
1960 points, 39 models, 109 wounds, 12 units

So at a glance, looks like the Chaos outnumber the Stormcast but the wound count is in the same ball park. However, if we look at a bit deeper the truth starts to become a bit clearer.

Lets first look at the major threats.
The Stormcast have the Celestant Prime, the Retributors and the Concussors as some units that can deal some pretty hefty damage. The Lord-Celestant also buffs a large portion of the army with his command ability.. On the Shadowborn side, there's Be'Lakor, the Chaos Chosen and the Chaos Gargant. So all in all, it's somewhat equal on the major threats but probably in favour to the Stormcast due to having a useful command ability. If we turn to minor threats, Stormcast have a Knight Venator, Heraldor, Lord-C and 5 Protectors. On the Shadowborn side however, there's only really the Chaos Lord and 5 Chaos Knights. A character without many attacks and Knights that while tanky, don't tend to put out a huge amount of damage especially if not charging. I'd say his minor threats which can deal damage from afar and always rending outweight the Shadowborn's, and hence the Stormcast army has a lot more threats to it.

Next let's take a look at what answers each army might have to the threats.
The Stormcast have beatsticks all around, where there threats are also answers to a lot of things. The Venator can deal wounds from afar. Likewise the Celestant-Prime (once arrived), Heraldor and Concussors can all deal some mortal wounds at a range. However, it becomes very clear on the Shadowborn side that I don't have a lot of answers from afar, as I can only rely on either Be'lakor or the Chaos Sorcerer Lord to cast an Arcane Bolt. It's not ideal to rely on melee as an answer, as unless you can fly you can't easily make it into the backline to deal with key targets. So there's a lot hinging on Be'lakor to go in and deal with things as he can both fly and cast magic.

So from purely the list side of things, the Stormcast seem to have quite the edge. Not only do they have about the same amount of mobility, but they also have shooting to help things out and put pressure on from afar.
All the Shadowborn can do is surge forwards
But hey, list building is one thing, and game play is another. And I made plenty of mistakes I should reflect on in the game. What was a Major Victory for my opponent could've easily been reduced to a Minor Victory if I'd played smarter, perhaps even a Draw. So lets get started.

Unfortunately both my opponent and I have approximately the same number of deployment drops even if I have the numbers advantage. I should've placed by Warriors with shields in the centre rather than the ones with additional hand weapons. It would've made it a lot easier to re-act to where the mortal wounds were. Also, I didn't really think out my game plan too well. Why did I put all my infantry to one side when the Gors were going to go up and tie up one side most the game anyway? I spent like 2 turns redeploying my Warriors and Chosen when my right flank started to crumble.
I think next time I have to get a better game plan in my head, and perhaps the deployment will got a bit more reasonably.

Marauder Horsemen chaff
My Marauder Horsemen always seem to run up and die. No different this game. Sometimes they manage to do something, but it's not when I'm using them as a roadblock for my Knights. I think in future if they stay in the list, I need to use them more smartly as I can get cheaper roadblocks for 100 points.
Marauder Horsemen about to be wiped from existence by 2 Concussors
Chosen model removal
My Chosen were obliterated by the Celestant Prime as he struck the field from the celestial realm. He managed to kill 7 of them with his attacks, and the rest ended up running from battleshock (Even worse, we forgot the Celestant Prime reduces their bravery by 2 as well). I removed them in a points protecting way, protect the command near the back to retreat them away for later. However, in hindsight (and knowing they would've been goners anyway), I should've kept the guys closer to the Celestant-Prime to at least attempt to deal some damage to him.
Unsuspecting Chosen about to be obliterating by divine justice
This was probably the turning point in the game, as basically one of my major threats in the game was sent packing to the dead collection without inflicting a single wound. To kick a man while he's down, next turn Be'lakor charged the Prime and reduced to him to a single wound before the Celestant-Prime slew my Chaos Lord.
Chaos double teaming the Celestant-Prime, will he even sweat?
Should I have even charged both the Chaos Lord and Be'Lakor in?
Just now it occurs to me, probably it was a mistake to charge the Chaos Lord in. At the time, I thought it made sense for redundancy, send both my big hitters in to make sure the Celestant-Prime was destroyed. Unfortunately, I had failed to cast Mystic Shield that turn on Be'Lakor so thought it made sense to make sure I finished the job.
Of course, what happened was Be'Lakor didn't quite kill the Celestant-Prime who in turn slaughtered the Chaos Lord with Ghal Maraz. I think the better move was likely to keep the Chaos Lord out OR charge the Warshrine in as well. I think more sensibly it's to have faith in Be'Lakor's save (Which later of course, is shown to be stupid. Chaos and faith don't go together!) but a third unit in combat with the Celestant Prime would've added another layer of redundancy as it's unlikely he slays both of the remaining 2 units after Be'Lakor attacks.

Chaos Gargant did squat
The other problem in the game was the Gargant didn't do anything. This is partly due to not leaving enough room when the Gors went in to get the Gargant in as well, as he essentially had to spend another turn to get around the side (and of course, then fell over on his subsequent charge roll). However, with a melee heavy army I can't have the Gargant do nothing all game. He had 4 wounds taken off as well by the Knight Venator which slowed him down a bit.

Lack of clear game plan
As mentioned earlier, I didn't really have a huge game plan. I wanted to contest both objectives, which split my hitters a bit. I think maybe it would've made more sense to keep my tankier units on my home objective, and try to sweep one side of the board. Hindsight is 20-20, and it was my first game so it's something interesting for next time.

So where does that leave the Shadowborn. The new list I've been toying around with over the past day is as follows:
Chaos Lord
Chaos Sorcerer Lord
10 Chaos Warriors with Hand Weapons and Shield
10 Marauders Hand weapons and Shield
10 Marauders Hand weapons and Shield
5 Chaos Knights
3 Jezzails
3 Jezzails
Chaos Gargant

So some quick reasoning on the changes
-10 Chaos Warriors with Additional Hand Weapons
-20 Gors with Hand Weapons and Shield
+10 Marauders with Hand weapons and Shield
+10 Marauders with Hand weapons and Shield
The Gors were just filler as I don't have any other battle line units available for my list at the moment. The Warriors have just been lacklustre whenever I've used them, and being forced into units of 10 is forcing me to spend quite a few points on battleline units. In the list at the top of the article, I end up spending 520 points on battleline units, while in this list I only spend 300 points. That's an extra 220 points to play around with.

-5 Marauder Horsemen
While I'm not sure if these will make it back into the list or not, they're the first thing I'm cutting as at the moment I haven't felt a need for what they provide. I'm sure to get more games in before I end up at the list above, so these might make some more appearances and change my mind.

-1 Chaos Warshrine
The warshrine is incredibly lacklustre in combat, and the aura of protection I'm not sure I'd notice if it wasn't there. The shrine effect isn't too bad though, as essentially with that and a Chaos Sorcerer Lord, I can get 2 units re-rolling 1's to hit, wound and save. As it is, 200 points is a big investment though and I think it can be invested better elsewhere.

+3 Warplock Jezzails
+3 Warplock Jezzails
These guys I've been thinking about for a while to add some long ranged threat into my army. They fit the theme I have in my head for the army, I've just been holding off as I haven't been able to find models at a good price. Think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and convert them.

This monster adds another threat to the army. It gives a bit of everything, a ranged mortal wound attack, some decent attacks with the various heads, and it flies and is fast to boot. This might alleviate the stress on Be'Lakor to perform, as it's a model that can tag-team with him to put a fast moving flying threat out there. That, and I already own the model.

So that's about it. The new list probably won't take shape until later this year (and who knows, may never eventuate as the hobby mojo has already started to wander onto new armies). But these are the thoughts I've jotted down after my defeat, and hopefully, I'll play a bit better in the next game.

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