Battle Report – Free Dwarfs vs Undead – 25/05/2020

I’m back with yet another Kings of War battle report this time against Richard Laking’s Undead. This was my second game in two days using the Free Dwarfs and I was hoping that I’d learnt some lessons from the first game.

The scenario was Push with two tokens each and one in the middle at 2300 points.


The Free Dwarfs

My list was very similar to list I’d used the day before.

With the extra 300 points I bought another regiment of Mastiffs, a third Ranger troop and a troop of Iron Clad with throwing Mastiff.

This added another 16 throwing Mastiffs shots and 10 Ranger crossbows to the army. More importantly I think it created a ‘critical mass’ where the troops could fend for themselves, ganging up on anything that came after them.

This meant that depending on my opponent, I could either deploy interspersed with my main battle group for added combat support. Or deploy all the troops as one group, like I did in this game.


Undead

I like Richard’s list – it has a very solid centre line with the Revenant hordes and the Zombie trolls with a couple of fast hammers to swing around the flanks and Wraith troops for solid chaff/ support charges.


Deployment

Learning from the mistake of last game, I deployed my Brock Riders as close support for my infantry hordes rather than out on their own.

I deployed the Ironclad troop and Mastiffs on the right hand side early on as a bluff that I was going to put a horde down there (who in their right mind deploys a speed 4 troop out on their own?).

I loaded up the right flank with all of the other troops, I was pretty confident that the combination of all the troops and the Berserker Lord could deal with the Werewolves and then turn to shooting at the centre of the board. If his Werewolves charged any of the troops the rest would mob them.

I left the Ironclad horde with the Brew of Strength till the very end, giving me the flexibility to put the unit that I knew would be my token carrier wherever I felt best. I opted for the far left flank and I thought this would be my best bet for guarding my flanks from surge charges.

Richard won the roll for sides and opted to go first.


Top of Turn 1

Richard moved steadily forward across the board (Undead don’t really do anything more animated than ‘steadily’). On the left he brought his Revenant Cav and Vampire on Pegasus up into charge range, and on the right he did the same with the Wraiths and Werewolves.

Both Balefires missed this turn which was a lucky break.


Bottom of Turn 1

On the left I pushed the Mastiffs forward to allow my Ironclad horde with Elite to move forward without risk of being charged. Anything that charged the Mastiffs would be counter attacked by both Ironclad hordes and probably some Brock Riders.

In the centre I held back with the Brocks despite being in charge range. The plan with the Brocks was not to charge anything in the centre until I was with given no other choice or backup arrived from the units of the left – I’m trying to learn not to squander them.

Both Cannons and all the Rangers opened up on the Werewolves doing 7 damage and wavering them. The Beserker Lord charged the Wraith troop and did the all important 1 damage, holding them in place.


Top of Turn 2

The left hand side Wraiths charged the flank of the Mastiffs but only managed to do 7 damage (hitting on 4+ can be fickle!) and wavered them.

Both Balefires shot at the Brocks in the middle of the board, but luckily only did 4 damage. The Werewolves backed up and were healed by the Liche King.

The Wraiths on the right did 5 damage to the Berserker Lord, admittedly more than I had been expecting.

In the middle the wall of Undead continued their slow inevitable advance…


Bottom of Turn 2

The relentless Dwarf gun line continued!

The three Ranger troops did 7 damage to the Werewolves and broke them. I was initially shocked at how much damage they did, but looking back I would actually expect 30 shots on 4s, damaging on 5s to do five damage. Using Nick Williams’ excellent rule of thumb this meant I should expect to do between 3-7 damage with them – so not as over the top as I first thought.

Edit: Nick has since supplied me the maths and told me that I can expect to do 7+ damage 22% of the time – knowledge is power!

Both Cannons hit with one of their shots, putting 6 damage on the Revenant horde in the middle. Got to start somewhere.

Mastiff pack (3) took out the Balefire Catapult with their Throwing Mastiffs.

On the left, the Brocks and the Mastiff charged the Wraiths that had failed to rout the Mastiff pack, killing them (again?… can you kill Undead?). I really liked my reposition here, the Brocks couldn’t be multi-charged and the Ironclad with Elite couldn’t be charge at all. In order to let the Brocks charge the Ironclad horde with the tokens moved forward their full 8″, putting themselves on the half way line.

I was quietly pleased with how the game was going at this point. My plan with the troops on the right flank had worked (and faster than I had expected) and they were now in a position to start threatening the middle units with the tokens.

However I couldn’t ignore the fact that Richard was baring down on the middle token and I currently had no answer to that.


Top of Turn 3

In the centre the Zombie Trolls moved on the to the central token, picking it up. This was a pretty big issue for me – I’d done well on both flanks and had managed to take out a few key units, but in doing so I’d taken my eye of the scenario. I now had three high defense, high nerve units each holding a token and about to cross into my side of the board.

On the left the Revenant Cavalry and Vampire on Pegasus charged the Ironclad horde, doing 14 damage but failing to break them.

The remaining Balefire hit the Brocks in the trees again, taking them up to 6 damage – I was going to have to make a move with the Brocks soon or risk losing them before they could bring anything to the game.

The Wraiths on the right did another 6 damage to the Brock Lord! But thanks to a lucky low nerve roll he hung around.


Bottom of Turn 3

Pew pew pew!

In an effort to start wearing down the huge blocks of nerve in the centre of the board, I opened up on them with all of my remaining shooting.

The Cannons fired at the Trolls (hitting once each) and the Packmaster and Ironclad horde added a couple of throwing dogs taking them up to 10 damage. The combined firepower of the Rangers and Ironclad troop’s throwing dogs only managed a piddly 4 damage on the Revenants.

Fearing that I would lose the Brocks before they could do anything, I charged them in to the left horde of Revenants. I picked the left horde simply so that I wouldn’t block my shooting on the right. I knew I was unlikely to do much, but better to go down swinging rather than being shot off the board.

The other Brocks on the left hand side flanked and killed the Revenant Cav, turning around to face the centre of the board. The Ironclad horde put a decent chunk of damage on the Vampire on Pegasus but he held.

I was happy that I was making progress on the scenario. One of his token carrying units (the Trolls) was on a decent chunk of damage and I had Brock Riders with the Brew of Sharpness ready to charge a second token carrying unit. I expected to lose the Brocks with Pathfinder next turn, but at least they had died putting a decent amount of damage on an enemy unit.


Top of Turn 4

The damaged Zombie Trolls charged the Mastiff pack in front of them and despite being hindered took them out in one go. However in order to make the charge the Zombie Trolls had to drop their token.

In my opinion dropping a token like this when you don’t have another unit to instantly come pick it up is a mistake. I’m guessing that Richard’s thinking was that the Trolls were already so badly damaged, they were likely to die next turn so might as well get a charge off first. But dice are fickle and you never know when shooting is going to fail completely – keep hold of the token and you have the chance to capitalise on random good luck, drop the tokens and it doesn’t matter how lucky you are you still can’t win.

The Revenant horde and the Goreblight charged the Brocks in the forest but despite doing 14 more damage to them, they rolled a double 1 – meaning that the Revenant horde were going to have to face a flank charge from the Brocks with Brew of Sharpness.

On the left, the Vampire Lord on Pegasus killed the Ironclad horde and turned to face the rear of my Brock Riders. I think I overestimated how long the Ironclad would survive against the Vampire and it may have just cost me the game as the Vampire now had two tokens and a fairly easy route to my half of the board. My only saving grace was that I still had a decent amount of shooting nearby (Diadem of Dragonkind and the Mastiff pack’s Throwing Mastiffs) and the Vampire Lord was already on 8 damage.

On the right hand flank, the Revenant horde charged and killed Ranger troop (1). I wasn’t too worried about this because I’d always ‘planned’ to lose one of the troops and then swarm him with the rest. I had 30 attacks coming from the troops, 20 of which would have CS(1) and TC(1) from charging off the hill.


Bottom of Turn 4

The plan this turn was to do as much damage to as many units as possible (subtle I know!) ready for a Turn 5 & 6 mopping up with my remaining shooting and the flying Berseker Lord.

Going last meant that I could try and grab any tokens that were dropped thanks to shooting – although I wasn’t confident in that because of Dwarf’s little legs! With that in mind I turned the Ironclad horde to be in a position to charge the left Revenants Turn 5 and flanked them with the Brocks, doing a decent amount of damage but not enough to break them. In doing so I exposed the Brock’s rear and the Ironguard’s flank to the Vampire Lord, but in order to take either charge he would have to drop his remaining tokens. I actually really hoped he would take the bait and drop his tokens, leaving my Mastiff packs chance to go pick them up.

I needn’t have worried about that though – the Mastiffs and the Diadem put a few more points of damage on the Vampire and after two hot nerve rolls killed him! Both Cannons hit (again! – they had been on fire this game reliably getting at least one hit between them every turn) and look out the damaged Zombie Trolls.

The quadruple charge of the 3 troops and the Berseker Lord proved to be a bit of a let down, managing just 6 damage between them all (I’d been expecting more like 10-12). The Mastiff pack had moved up to threaten the flank charge next turn so I was still hopeful of picking up that unit on Turn 5 or 6.

Going in to the top of Turn 5, it was 4-0 to Richard. I was going to have to really focus on grabbing whatever tokens I could in my last few turns.


Top of Turn 5

With the majority of his army engaged, Richard had few tactical options left this turn other than kill and survive!

The Revenant horde on the left killed the Brocks who were on double 1’s and turned to face the second Brock regiment. Between Lifeleech and Heals they had managed to claw back 6 damage. The Goreblight charged the flank of the Ironclad doing decent amount of damage to them, but they held.

In hindsight I think this may have been a mistake on Richard’s part. The Goreblight was very unlikely to kill the Ironclad – instead I would have suggested grabbing the token with the Goreblight and bagging a pretty much uncontested two points in turn 6.

On the right the Revenant horde killed one of the Ranger troops on the counter charge before backing up D3″ and preparing to face another charge.


Top of Turn 5

The Mastiff Pack moved on to the two loose tokens on the left. They were within 12″ of the Balefire so I knew they were now safe points.

In the middle the Brocks and Ironclad horde manage to put enough damage on the Revenant horde to break them, passing their tokens over to the Brocks. On the right the troop mob finally did good and broke the Revenants claiming their tokens.

Just to add insult to what had already been a withering game of cannon fire, I hit with 2/4 shots on 6’s at the Liche King, turning him into a cloud of red mist (or dust, do Liche Kings have blood?).


With the loss of all of his scoring units but one, Richard decided to call the game there. That had been quite the reversal, going from 4-0 to Richard in Turn 4 to 6-0 to me by the end of Turn 5.


So What Went Well?

In my last game I shared my thoughts about where I thought it’d all gone wrong, so I thought this time I’d go through what went better and see if I can learn anything from the two games.

Fire!
In my mind the theory for this list has always been to use the fairly substantial investment in shooting to whittle down a few of my opponent’s key units before combat breaks out, helping to even up the fact that Dwarf units are pretty much outmatched across the board.

In my last game this didn’t pan out, but here it did. My shooting and the cannons in particular helped kill a horde of Werewolves and a horde of Zombie Trolls.

The cannons rolled hot all game managing a total of 9/20 (45%) hits. This certainly didn’t win the game by itself but definitely helped to even the odds where I needed it.

Troop Swarm
The idea of having a ‘swarm’ of troops worked well, even if their attacks ended being a bit lack luster in combat.

Dwarfs lack flexibility and board control so having the flexibility to deploy a full flank of troops or intermingle them in my army really appeals to me. The ability to scout the Rangers forward early on creates a zone of control that your opponent can’t easily enter without taking damage.

Hide the Badger
I realised in the last game that I needed to start thinking of the Brock Riders as combat support, rather than units that can hold flanks on their own. They’re actually softer than standard cavalry regiments these days and I need to adjust my playstyle with them to match this.

So I was happier with how I played them this game. Having them in and amongst the Ironclad hordes and other chaff meant that I could protect them when needed and have them join in with key combats.


I feel that I’m getting to a point where I’ve found a Free Dwarf army that I enjoy playing with, even if its not the most competitive.

But I’m going to be taking a break from the Free Dwarfs for a few games – I’ve signed up for the Kings of Herts UB tournament and will be playing Twilight Kin. Look out for those battle reports in the coming weeks.


Want to hear me talk more about Dwarf Ranger troops and why you should be using them?
In Episode 1 of The Council of War, the Northern Kings discuss units that we feel are underrated by the community.


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