Another run-in with the Lizardmen this week, but only at 1000 points; a different opponent, too. It’s still early days in terms of my getting a sense of what the most common armies in my area are, but Skaven and Lizardmen certainly seem to be a regular sight on the local tables.
I rejigged my standard 1K list, partly because I wanted to try out a small unit of Forsaken, and partly because a close re-reading of the rules revealed my general’s magic item selection was a tiny bit illegal. In came the Forsaken and a Nurgle Spawn, out went a unit of Warhounds and a couple of arcane items, and my main Warrior unit got the Mark of Nurgle.
As usual I was left somewhat envious by the sheer amount of toy soldiers virtually every other army seems to get at 1K compared to mine: on this occasion the Lizards turned up with a big block of Saurus Warriors, a small regiment of Temple Guard, five Saurus Cavalry, three Ripperdactyls, and a swarm of Skinks, led by a Skink priest and a Scar-Veteran on a Cold One.
Three Warhound deployments gave me a decent sense of how the Lizardmen would be advancing – Sauri and Cold Ones in the centre, Temple Guard and Ripperdactyls on my right flank, while the Skinks would be lurking in some woods on my left. Bearing this in mind I put the Chaos Warriors down centrally, supported by the Spawn and the Forsaken, while the Chariot and the Marauders went down on the right.
The three spells I had wound up with were Doom and Darkness, Fate of Bjuna, and Purple Sun of Xereus (I’ll come back to the wisdom of this and its impact on the battle later), and my mood was distinctly lifted when, with practically the first dice roll of the game, I fired off Purple Sun and destroyed half of the main Saurus Warrior block, whose very low initiative made them horribly vulnerable to the spell.
Things went on in this vaguely positive vein as the Saurus Cavalry charged the Chaos Warriors, clipping some woods in the process and losing two of their number, allowing the Warriors to deal with them fairly easily. The Temple Guard were lured by Warhounds into a position where they could be frontally charged by the Gorebeast Chariot and the Marauders. The Temple Guard put up stiff opposition, especially when the halberdiers in the back of the Chariot fluffed their dice rolls, but were eventually hacked down (the cold blood rule effectively made the Lizardmen combat troops almost impossible to break).
However, our old friend New Model Syndrome made an unwelcome appearance as the Forsaken first failed the easiest of charges into the Scar-Veteran and then, when they finally got into combat with him, ended up with Strikes Last as their mutation that turn. This allowed the Veteran to hack them all down, not least because the Skink Priest had been casting Wyssan’s Wildform and/or Beast of Horros on him every turn. The following turn he sorted out the Spawn as well, leaving him in a position to take on the Chaos Warriors (who had just wiped out the Ripperdactyls).
At this point a nasty wrinkle in the Chaos Warrior rules became apparent: the requirement to issue a challenge whenever possible. Neither of the characters in the Warrior unit realistically had a chance against the Scar-Veteran, and the small unit lacked the static resolution to make up for the sizeable overkill the Lizardman hero would be scoring every turn. The fact that some poor choices when it came to dispelling the Skink’s magic had left the augmented Saurus with somewhere in the region of seven attacks at strength nine didn’t help much either. The unit champion and then my general were chopped to bits on successive turns and the unit broke (confessions of a dummy gamer: I forgot about the Banner of Discipline, which would have kept them in the fight and given me a chance to beat up the Saurus with the rest of the unit in the following turn).
The Scar-Veteran duly chased down the Warriors , but on a more positive note the Chariot got into the flank of the Saurus Warriors (who hadn’t really been doing much following their first-turn magical mauling) and broke them, cold blood for once proving ineffective. This resulted in one of those uneventful endgames, with the surviving units scattered across the table and no prospect of further combat – the Skinks loosed a few darts at the Chariot, which took a couple of wounds before withdrawing out of range.
So we counted up the scores and it turned out that the final tally was 805 to the Chaos Warriors and 750 to the Lizardmen – a draw, which I suppose was a fair result. My chances of a clean win were scuppered by the reign of terror from the Scar-Veteran – small Chaos Warrior units are quite capable of being monstered by single top-tier combat characters like this one, largely because of the Eye of the Gods rule. Bearing this in mind, the failure of the Forsaken to perform could have made a big difference – on any other result they would have been striking first, potentially delivering 12 attacks with re-rolled hits.
I think my sorcerer underperformed, as well, probably due to my spell selection. The casting of Purple Sun was my only real success all game – okay, a significant success – partly due to bad dice but also because I had three high casting value spells in the first place. In retrospect I should have swapped Doom and Darkness for Spirit Leech – the only viable target for the spell was really the Scar-Veteran, while Spirit Leech could potentially have zapped the Skink Priest from across the table and got rid of those annoying augment spells.
Not sure how useful this is in terms of general strategy, though. This game has left me really wishing I could sneak a proper combat character into the list – wreaking havoc with a Chaos Champion is very appealing, but it would mean going on the defensive magically and I’m not sure of the wisdom of that given how destructive many spells can be. Something to consider in the couple of weeks before my next game.