Monday, September 26, 2011

Ogre Kingdoms vs. Wood Elves.

The other night provided me with a first hand look at the new Ogre Kingdoms army in action. Ever since the new book came out I’d been dying to see how the Ogres perform on the battlefield and so when Nick asked me to bring my “pansy leaf bitches” to the table to give his Ogres their crucible, I readily agreed! When Nick requested that we play at 3000 points, I was jazzed since that meant I’d be taking on a fully kitted out Ogre army.

I’m going to depart from this anecdote briefly to segue into point levels and 8th edition games. Having played a ton of games now in 8th edition, I feel that there is definitely a sweet spot for point levels in this edition. In 7th edition 2250 seemed to be the best mix of points/units but I’ve found that less is not necessarily better in 8th. I tend to prefer playing at 2500 and above for the standard friendly/competitive game. 2500 points is really where you see the balance settle in to the game in 8th edition and you can understand what the developers had in mind. The game play in 8th edition is so streamlined that the larger point level battles really take no longer than some of the smaller point values. When I play a game the difference in time between playing at 2500 points and 3000 is almost negligible.

The newer army books that have come out for 8th edition: Orcs and Goblins, Tomb Kings and now Ogre Kingdoms all seem to function very well and seem very balanced at 2500-3000 points. When you go below that level you can begin to see some glaring issues that make each army not function as intended. I will attempt to take on each of the 8th edition armies at 2500 and at 3000 points in the next few months and provide a battle report with turn by turn accounting.

Getting back on point with the post, I was really excited to play the new Ogres and see how they perform. The army has received several critical upgrades and new units that have really changed how the army works. You still have a bunch of fat guys running around looking for food, but now they have bigger and meaner friends to help. The addition of new monsters and warmachines to the army also has really augmented their effectiveness and provided some much needed versatility. I have to say that I’m fairly impressed that the authors managed to write yet another army book that is decent in every phase of the game.

I’ll provide the list that Nick brought and then make some comments on how the units performed against my Wood Elves. I’ll also give a brief summary of the synergy that we saw during our game(s) and how well the army worked. I don’t remember what magic items each char had with the exception of the magic banners.

The Roaring Maw Clan

General – Level 4 Slaughtermaster - Nick chose to use a Level 4 as his general using the Great Maw as the lore. Granting access to Lore of Beasts, Death and Heavens in addition to the updated and highly effective Lore of the Great Maw is a pretty formidable boost. After our game Nick said he would probably find the points to allow for another caster or two in order to get Wyssan’s Wildform or Miasma into his army. Even without a lot of augments this caster was unbelievably difficult to kill. I believe he had a 4+ ward save and had taken the Gruts Sickle arcane item.

-The Grut’s Sickle item is pretty amazing for what it does. It essentially turns your Wizard into a Level 6 caster due to the +2 to all spell attempts. Now let’s also evaluate one other thing – Lore of the Great Maw. Taking into account the Lore Attribute – Bloodgruel (roll a d6, on a 1 you take a wound, 2-6 you recover a wound and receive +1 to the next casting/dispel attempt) and the boost from the Grut’s Sickle is pretty sick. Having your Slaughtermaster casting spells at +7 when it’s not a Storm of Magic game is kind of … Now I do realize that if your caster rolls double 1’s when he uses Grut’s Sickle he’s killed outright but that’s well worth the risk to get an additional +2 to +3 to your casting attempts.

- Lore of the Great Maw went through some substantial changes that I really have to comment on before going further. In my game with Ogres, two spells seriously defined how bad ass Ogres can be using their main Lore: Trollguts and Toothcracker. Providing all units within 12” +1 to Toughness and 4+ Regeneration with 2 spells is ridiculously powerful. It get’s even more ridiculously powerful when that unit is a Horde… Anyway, the Lore of the Great Maw has been altered and rewritten to be incredibly effective AND fitting for the army. Another big change is that all the Ogre spells are no longer “Stays in Play” but rather Augments. The tactic to let the Ogre caster get his buffs off and then dispel them next turn with little effort is now over. You really need to counter these new spells or suffer the consequences.

• Spinemarrow – granting units of Monstrous Infantry Stubborn is brilliant, allowing the spell to affect all units within 12”…genius!

• Bullgorger – +1 Strength is never a bad thing, especially when it can affect all units within 12”.

• Toothcracker – as I mentioned before, brilliant spell.

• Braingobbler – make a unit suffer a panic test? Not a bad hex.

• Trollguts – as mentioned earlier, Regeneration is already awesome but every unit within 12” getting it? What….? Ouch.

• The Maw – haha this is a great spell. I had it cast on me twice during our game and both times it was pretty effective. The fact that the template makes you roll an initiative test to take a Str 3 or Str 7 hit is pretty awesome. Even if you pass…you fail! I can see this spell being devastating against low initiative armies – Lizardmen, Beastmen, Undead, etc..

Bruiser – The Bruiser he brought was his Battle Standard Bearer and I don’t remember if he had anything special on him like a Standard or a Ward Save. Obviously it’s a tough Ogre with plenty of attacks.

Hunter – The Hunter he brought was his Warmachine hunter. I remember him using that Harpoon Spear a few times until I got annoyed enough to shoot him up in about Turn 4. I really like this hero choice and if I were running Ogres I would definitely take this option and put him with a few Sabretusks and give him the +1 movement name. He’s pretty durable and can take out any warmachine or serve as a pretty awesome flank charge unit.

Firebelly – Ha ha, man…what a great choice to add to this army. Pacific Islander theme aside, this was a great choice (despite the fact that he was playing Wood Elves that have flammable units). The lore they added behind his hero selection is pretty awesome and having to deal with a Toughness 5 caster that can get up to 4 flaming attacks and has a Breath weapon? He also had an item called the Hellheart which is a one use item that causes all enemy casters to suffer a Miscast within 5d6” inches.

7 Ironguts – The Ironguts were tough and annoying before this new book came out and they still are now! Nick took 7 Ironguts with the Dragonmaw banner. Aside from the Racial Universal rules there were really no changes to the Ironguts in this book other than I believe point costs. Nick used the Dragonmaw banner which allowed his Ironguts to reroll 1’s during the turn they charge and also provided the standard bearer with a Str3 ice breath weapon that gives the enemy unit Always Strikes Last. No…not annoying at all! This unit is where he placed his General and it served as a pretty effective bunker and flank unit with a few of his other selections.

17 Ogres – Yeah…Nick said he wanted to play with the new Horde rules and the cheaper Ogres. I’ve fought this type of unit before a few times in the old book and wasn’t took terribly worried about it. Using this unit with the BSB and with another selection I’ll mention later does cause me to worry and did! 51 Attacks from hungry fat men should make anyone cringe.

6 Leadbelchers – Of all the units in this new army book that were revised, the Leadbelchers I think got the best treatment. They had their canno…gun rules changed to where they no longer blow each other up. They do not suffer penalties for Moving and Shooting or Multiple Shots and have a BS3. They also fire d6 Str4 Armor Piercing shots now rather than artillery die worth. This unit became my primary focus and probably will continue to since these can effectively remove a unit a turn if you roll well.

4 Mourn fang Cavalry – Wow is all I can say. These are truly some vicious heavy cavalry. A unit of 4 is outputting 28 attacks at Str 4 after inflicting d3 impact hits if the charged. Having seen these models in action, my opinion of them is that they need to be a flank unit or have support from the flank when they charge. I was able to wipe them out with my Treekin and Treeman because I was able to charge them and take them out without their friends. The stats on these guys are nuts however, 3+ armor save and a 6+ parry for 65 points? One Ironfisted Mournfang costs the exact same as a single Treekin model in the Wood Elf book. That’s a pretty damn cost effective model for the damage output it can provide. Excellent new unit and I can foresee people using two of these units in groups of 3 in order to get nasty flank charges in.

Ironblaster – Yet another new addition that doesn’t suck! The fact that it is a chariot with Str 10 grapeshot is … interesting….yes we’ll say interesting. This unit’s ability to move and shoot is pretty damn frustrating; I had to ensure I was far enough each turn to avoid getting Grapeshot by the damn thing. I can foresee this unit being heavily utilized against high armor opponents – Warriors of Chaos come to mind. I was able to kill it with a well rolled volley of arrows but not after it had decimated most of my Dryads.

Stone horn – This is a pretty good monster to use in the Ogre army. I was not overly impressed by this beast in our game however. I was able to butcher it with my Eternal Guard and Eagles with relative ease. I was fortunate in that I was able to charge it before it could charge me, the 3d3 impact hits that it can cause probably would have done more damage than I care to think about. I’m almost tempted to say that I’d put a Hunter on this bad boy and let those two go hunting together. That would be an annoying and hard to kill combo since you’d need to deal with 10 attacks at Str 5/6 and 10 wounds to kill them both.

Thundertusk – Yeah… I hate this model! How do you make the playing field level against Ogres? Put a friggin monster with a 6” Always Strike Last bubble in range! This model should be an automatic choice in any Ogre army. You can move around and fire shots with your misfire free Stone thrower and provide support to any unit that you are close to who is in combat. Nick used his Thundertusk with his Horde’o’Ogres and his Mournfangs…. No…that wasn’t SUPER ANNOYING AT ALL for a high initiative army like Wood Elves…. This model became my priority after slaughtering his annoying Leadbelchers. This single monster can turn the tide for an Ogre army that is facing an army that normally could remove enough models in the Ogre’s unit to take the bite out of whatever charge the Ogres had gotten off.

Example: You charge a unit of 20 Warriors of Chaos (5x4 formation) with 6 Ogres. The Ogres manage to kill 1 on the charge with Impact hits and then the Warriors of Chaos swing at Initiative 5 and hit on 3’s and wound on 4’s. The Ogres lose a model and suddenly lose 3 attacks and their rank bonus. Hopefully the Ogres swing well but probably not and they’ll lose combat based on static res. You now change the situation where the Ogres get all their attacks first, suddenly the Warriors of Chaos don’t have as many attacks or ranks.

The Thundertusk is an amazing addition to the Ogre army and quite frankly it should strike fear into the hearts of any high initiative army out there.

That was Nick’s list he brought at 3000 points. His strategy was to rely on his Thundertusk, Stone horn, Mournfangs and Ogre horde to dominate one side of the board while his Ironguts, Ironblaster and Leadbelchers forced his opponent (me) to direct fire and resources into removing them before they could seriously hurt me. It was a damn good strategy because I had to do exactly that.

I’m going to briefly summarize the two games we played. Two games? Hehe, yes two games.

Game 1 – Blood and Glory.

Wood Elves – First Turn:

Wood Elves focus fire all their shots into the Leadbelchers. Wood Elves kill all 6 Leadbelchers and the Firebelly with an excellent round of shooting! The destruction of the Leadbelchers cause a panic test on the Ogre Horde with the BSB. Two rolls of 10 cause the Ogre Horde to pivot and run through the Ironguts, Mournfang Cavalry and the Stonetusk. Ogre Horde due to footprint runs off table, Ironguts fail Leadership test and also run off table. Wood Elves win. …

We reset.

Game 2 – Battle Line!

After our brief battle, we moved a few pieces of terrain and went at it again. This game was substantially different and really showed the devastating power of the Ogre Kingdoms.

The Wood Elves set up near the center of their deployment zone and I had my fast moving units and fliers set up on the right. I had my Eternal Guard and Treekin side by side with the Treeman slightly behind and to the right of the Treekin and the Dryads off to the left of the Eternal Guard. I had both units of archers up on a hill and far enough apart so that when I moved them forward they would not block each other. The Wild Riders, Waywatchers, and Eagles were all on the right side of the board. Nick set up his army really heavy on his left side keeping his Ogre Horde, Mournfangs and Thundertusk in the center. I think he had planned on moving forward with his big units and wiping me out on my flank with his shooting/artillery. I know he wanted to take advantage of this Always Strikes Last bubble and he was able to capitalize on it for a little bit before I removed said annoyance from play.

The game proceeded with the Wood Elves pulling their normal nonsense of sweeping forward and moving the entire army forward and to the left which flanked his entire army. The Ogres attempted to counter-maneuver by doing a few reforms and realigning their big blocks of troops to accept the frontal charges. The major engagements lasted a few rounds and resulted in many Ogres and Wood elves being placed in the dead piles. The Ogres almost had an unstoppable assault when they failed 2 charges against my Treekin with his Stone horn and Ironguts. That allowed the Treekin to move and charge his Ogre bulls instead because had he gotten that charge off and beaten the unbuffed Treekin, he would have been able to slam into my Glade Guard and Waywatchers which would have been very bad. Nick did manage to wipe out most of my archery in one round by getting what was left of his Leadbelchers and Ironblaster into position and shredding 2 units of Glade Guard. The later turns were primarily me buffing and resurrecting models while he furiously attempted to kill my Toughness 7 spellweaver. Nick was not amused when Dwellers Below began to whittle his army down turn by turn but he did get payback when he dropped 2 Maw spells on me later on.

The final turn resulted in a few charges to wipe out fleeing or almost dead units and the desperate attempts by the Ogres to get one charge off that would have probably resulted in an Ogre victory – and that was his 2 Ironguts who had rallied on double 1’s charging my Treekin who had 1 wound left in the unit.

Three major events provided me victory at the end of the game:

1. My opponent did not dispel the stays in play Throne of Vines which provided me with several serious boosts to my spells. Especially Flesh to Stone and Regrowth! The ability to add +4 toughness to a unit saved my bacon more times than I care to admit in this game. Toughness 7 Eternal Guard and Toughness 9 Treekin are nigh unstoppable! Also, the Hellheart magic item that his Firebelly had was used and my Spellweaver was in range. Fortunately I rolled a 3 and negated his Miscast. Nick was annoyed =) It was also insanely helpful when he cast the Great Maw on my Eternal Guard twice and I suffered little due to my high toughness.

2. I was able to determine charges this game. Nick was smart this game and hid his Leadbelchers behind his Ironguts and kept them out of my kill zone for a few turns. I was however able to use my Treekin and Eternal Guard as a fairly effective wall to allow the rest of my army to maneuver where I could get my charges off.

3. I was able to kill the Thundertusk quickly and break his Horde with the BSB in it by multicharging with my Treeman, Treekin, Eternal Guard and 2 Eagles. My Wild Riders and Dryads proved to be invaluable by flank/front charging his Thundertusk and wiping it out before the block of 18 Ogres could blender my units.

I would have preferred to do a Battle Chronicler battle report for this game because it was really fantastic. In the Podcast for the Deployment Zone: Episode 0, I’ve remarked about this game and how well it went. Next game I play will be this Wednesday and I should be able to provide a BC battle report for that.

This battle went all six rounds and the deciding factor was that my Wild Rider champion killed his Slaughtermaster in a challenge and gave me those extra points which granted me a victory with a different of 115 VPs!

When the game was over, we both had less than a dozen models combined left on the table. I’m finding that more and more 8th edition games that go the full six turns and end up being really enjoyable result in both sides being almost fully decimated.

Reflections about the battle:

Ogre Kingdoms have serious synergy now in their army. The Lore of the Great Maw and the caster options allow for serious magical dominance. The option to take a Level 2 and cast as a Level 5 is also a very attractive option which will allow people options for their Lord/Hero options. The army is now rather flexible and able to reasonably handle just about any army with the same amount of difficulty. I am impressed with the new book and it makes me really, really want to start an Ogre army but that will have to wait till after I collect/paint the Bretonnians.

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is going to play or play against the new Ogre Kingdoms army!