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Breaking in a new army

Whilst most of us don’t even know if our campaign armies will work on the tabletop, Maisey has forged ahead and played his first game with the 2,300 points he’s painted. And why isn’t he here to tell you about it himself? Because he and Emma are off to Wales for the next few days. I’m told there will be ponies.

Now then, today’s post is going to talk about how to maximise your tactical learning from the first few games you play with a new army, and also to reveal some fairly awesome plans we’ve got for next week.

This is the first time Maisey's painted a Warhammer Fantasy army to this size, although he's played a few large games of Fantasy before, and has played many smaller games with his Vampires. As he saw it, his biggest challenge came from the following rule:

“Units with the Undead special rule cannot make march moves unless they are within 12" of the army General (or have the Vampiric special rule).” – Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts.

Maisey was categorically not down with bumbling slowly across the tabletop whilst my four artillery pieces hammered him from afar. Controversially, this meant deploying them in what military scientists are now calling the Big Brick of Death.

Maisey: I see your Empire battle line, and I raise you one Big Brick of Death.

Maisey’s deployment kept him moving quickly in the first few turns, but gave him something of a traffic jam when the lines engaged circa turn three or four. Specifically, his Grave Guard simply weren’t relevant until the Undead army had already lost Philippe and his unit of Black Knights to some halberdiers (who only triumphed, it should be added, thanks to the help of Thaddeus’ Light Magic).

In the end, the army’s first big outing met with defeat. This can be very demoralising for a hobbyist; you spend months painting an army, put it out on the table with an expectant grin, and then watch the Ulricsberg Stonewalls* batter their way through it.

See the trees between the big guns? That’s where my mortar used to be.
It blew up in turn one. In fact, three out of four of my artillery pieces blew
themselves up during the course of the game. It was not a battle won
with ballistics.

The best thing you can do after your opponent has just suffered a terrible case of Shiny New Model Syndrome is to immediately sit down and discuss what went wrong, why, and what he can do to fix it next time.

In Maisey’s case, I felt that his deployment was what really hamstrung him, so I had a go at deploying his army to see what I could come up with. The results were very different – much more of a conventional line, but still capable of allowing all the Undead units to march (it was a close-run thing; Etienne - the general - was only in range by about a millimetre of the most distant units on either side).  We debated other things as well, like the importance (or not) of being able to march at the expense of a solid formation, but the important point was this: Maisey left it with things he wanted to try next time, rather than a sense that his army didn’t work. It’s a beautiful, solid army, and like any experienced player, he knows that he’ll only master it with practise, but talking to your opponent after each game is the best way to maximise your strategic learning. Unless, of course, your opponent wouldn’t know a strategy even if it was gently chewing his nose off.

Now, in other news, next week. Next week is news. Why? Because it is Geek Week. What is Geek Week? It is the week where Jeff comes up from the murky recesses of Wales, and Maisey and I are both taking a break from work. We’re going to spend the entire week painting and enjoying humour of such appalling childishness that it would make a toddler tut.

What does this mean for you? Lots of pretty pictures. I’ll be doing something stupidly optimistic with green stuff (because there should be female battle wizards as well as male ones, dammit), Jeff will be farting out Dwarfs at a rate of knots, and Maisey will be leaving the rest of us in the dirt.

It is going to be a seriously concentrated dose of hobby, and I’m practically weeing myself with anticipation.


*Mark pointed out to me that the Stonewalls probably have strong views on gay rights. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Stonewall, and it still seems like an unwelcoming name to give a gay rights movement, but you know what? Pff, whatever, I have strong views on gay rights too. Perhaps my Greatswords have the WFB equivalent of the Blood Angels’ Black Rage, and see homophobia wherever they look.  And then hit the homophobia. Hit it with six foot claymores.


  1. As an undead player from yester year, he might find summoning small units zombies close to shooting unit and artillery units, then making them charge with magic. It's very basic, but it helps undead out alot.

    1. It was a glorious tactic, but nowadays Van Hel's can't be used to charge units; you're looking more at redirections and blocking LOS with raised units, or using them to set up surprise flank/rear charges.

      Van Hel's is still an awesome spell given its other effects, but it's particularly upsetting when you cast the 12+ version, as it affects all units within 12" of the caster, and the entire army lurches towards the enemy at a worrying speed. Maisey's already caught me with my dispel pants down using that one in a smaller game :D

    2. I write this from beside an open fire in the great hall of my castle in the mountains. I've master the horse and will be a full knight of the realm in due time.

      As Dice Jesus points out that raising units to block people and redirect is a good tatic, but in the current rules there is no guarantee that you'll draw that spell. Even with three spell casters I want to keep at least one of them with invocation to keep the line solid. Basically I looking to create an army an a set of tactics that don't rely on the fickle whims of magic. That said, if I do draw the spell I'll certainly be using it.


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