Late Summer in UK means the Battlemasters tournament run by Sharad Vora. This is a one day, 2,500 point, 4 game tournie in Loughborough. With only 55 minutes each per game, time is always an issue at Battlemasters. I have happy memories of previous events. In 2016, we played with rules straight out of Version 2 with no CoK amendments. I took a Goblin horde with 5 War Trombones, each with 12 attacks. Someone foolishly landed their De 6+ Vampire Lord on Dragon in front of them; we feasted on Dragon kebabs for months. With 2 previous podium places, it was also one of my more successful events.
One of the things that Sharad likes is to include army background fluff with army lits submissions. Here is mine:
XXXXX Fluff XXXXX
Greetings Abyssal-fodder. Xarxes the lower abyssal here.
I’d better start with a bit about myself. I’m a lower abyssal from the first circle of the Abyss, which, to be honest, is not that exciting a place. I mean there’s only so much torturing of humans that you can do before it becomes boring. Anyway, I fell in with a band of environmental activist abyssals who were campaigning for an end to the pestilential toxic miasma we have to breathe. Our activism got a bit out of hand and I was sent as a punishment to the army, ending up as a foot slogger in the 13th Horde.
When I joined up, my old dad gave me 3 pieces of advice:
• Don’t mess with a Hellequin.
• Never volunteer for a posting to a unit of chaff.
• Avoid getting downwind of an Abyssal Despoiler.
Wise words indeed, and advice I hope to stick to in our latest fight. My horde has been slated to join the host contesting for the title of Battle Master. This is a non-hereditary title that is awarded every year, and more than 20 armies converged on the Borough of Lough to contest it this year. In addition to the 13th Horde, the rest of our army includes 2 hordes of Despoilers, 2 Regiments of Tortured Souls, 2 Troops of Gargoyles, Regiment of Hellequins, 3 Harbingers and our glorious leader, Ba’su’su. Personally, I don’t find Ba’su’su inspiring, but apparently, the Gargoyles do.
You may have noticed that this does not reach the 2,500 points strength that could be employed. Well spotted! The remainder of the points were spent on hiring some Goblin allies. The boss had heard that Goblins had some previous success in a previous battle near Leicester and thought it would be useful to harness this experience. He also fancied adding a bit of shooting to the army. And so we duly hired a King on Fleabag, a Regiment of Fleabag Sniffs and a Horde of Chariots. In the 13th Horde, this news was greeted with great cheer – it is not often that an Abyssal army contains a unit graded lower than a lower abyssal. In fact, once the Goblins had set up camp, I wandered over and kicked a Goblin. It felt really good.
After a long journey we arrived at our bivouac site on Friday evening. We were accompanied on the journey by General Andy’s Undead army and we were able to spend the evening preparing for battle and attempting to relax with a few pints of Brew of Strength. I myself have a well-thumbed Barbara Cartland novel to help me unwind from the stresses of torturing other races, and I consulted this oracle before sleeping.
With the sun rising, we struck camp and set off for the field of battle. May the Power of the Abyss sustain us today in our efforts.
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Many of the tournament goers gathered the night before in the Phantom pub and then at the White Hart before heading on to a craft beer pub.
For game 1, I was to face Beastman Rich in a scenario unique to Battlemasters called Battle Plans. The aim is to get plans off the battlefield but there was some confusion about exactly what to do. Rich deployed with several fliers and lots of infantry:
• Horde of Tribal Warriors.
• 2 Regiments of Longhorns.
• Troop of Harpies.
• Horde of Lycans.
• Troop of Beast Pack.
• 2 Chimera with wings.
• Chieftan on Chariot.
• Avatar with wings.
• Flaxhoof’s Chosen.
We have had many games in the past and I have always found his dice to be very much on my side. I anticipated nothing less this time. Bad mistake. Rich had clearly had stern words with his dice and mine had caught the malaise his dice previously suffered. On one occasion, I charged my Despoiler horde into a De 5+ enemy, 18 attacks hitting on 4s, wounding on 2s with vicious, expecting 8 or 9 wounds, I actually made 3.
There was a large piece of terrain on one flank of our table and I split my force to contest all of the counters. I don’t know why I am bothering to tell you my plan. Rich simply ignored my feeble attempts to defend myself, captured all of the plans, dismantled my army and tabled me on turn 6. Not a great start to the day but congratulations to Rich who deserved some dice luck after the poor performance of his dice in our previous games.
With the disastrous start, I was scheduled on Game 2 to face Jacob on the bottom table. Time for some submarine action. The scenario was Take the High Ground which was essentially pillage with 6 tokens, those in your opponent’s table half worth double points.
Jacob was running Order of the Brotherhood with:
• 2 regiments of Brotherhood on foot.
• 2 spearmen hordes.
• 2 regiments of Order of the Brotherhood knights.
• 2 flying hordes of Order of the Forsaken.
• 2 Forsaken Beasts.
• 2 Devoted, 2 Adjutants and one Hunter.
The battlefield was split with a large piece of blocking terrain just right of centre. Jacob placed the 3 tokens in my table half on the left side of the board while I distributed the 3 in his half more evenly. Jacob placed the bulk of his army on my left and headed towards the tokens in my half.
My plan was to hold there while using my fast units to head round the blocking terrain, seize the tokens on the right side of the board and outflank his army. This almost failed as it took some time to get round the blocking terrain while Jacob was shredding my defending units. Thankfully, I got there in the end and managed to claim the victory, but only just. Jacob is new to the game and played really well with a notoriously difficult army.
Over lunch we were invited to view the other armies and vote on our favourite. Some terrific armies on display.
For Game 3, I was to face Jan. This worried me for 2 reasons: (1) Jan had won her first battle with a large margin and had ended up on the top table for Game 2. (2) Jan had abandoned her usual Herd and was playing Ogres. I had seen her fantastically well-painted Ogre army and was shocked at how many units she had fitted into 2,500 points. I discovered when we got to the table that the army on display contained both Jan and Bob’s armies. Phew.
Jan’s army contained:
• Horde of Warriors.
• Horde of Braves.
• Horde of Siege Breakers.
• 3 Hordes of Boomers.
• Boomer Sergeant.
• Mounted Biggit with Pendant of Retribution.
The scenario was straight out of the book, Scavenge. The table featured yet another piece of large blocking terrain, this time towards the right side of my table half. We generally deployed to the left of this but I took the opportunity to drop Ba’su’su in this area for some outflanking action. Jan deployed with her fighty hordes forward with Boomers and characters behind with the Biggit out on a flank. I put most of my Goblin shooting on the flank facing the Biggit and tattooed on my hand ‘Remember the Crystal Pendant’ (something I always seem to forget).
Everything that went wrong for me in Game 1, went well for me in this one. I shot the Biggit off on turn 2 and, with my faster moving units and some out of the box dice rolls, I was able to alfa strike the big hordes. With the big hordes dead it became a mopping up operation and I pulled off a second win. Hard luck to Jan who was using this army for the first time and had some really bad dice rolls.
For the final game of the day I was to face Kieran in a Kill the General scenario, this was Invade with 3 extra tournament points for killing the enemy general. Kieran was running Dwarfs with Ogre allies.
• Horde and Regiment of Bulwarkers.
• 2 Regiments of Ironclad.
• Troop of Sharpshooters.
• Regiment of Brocks.
• 2 Organ Guns.
• 2 Standard Bearers.
• Flying King.
• Steel Behemoth.
• 2 Hordes of Ogre Chariots.
• Ogre Standard Nearer in Chariot.
More terrain issues with effectively 3 approaches. On my left, I faced the Ogre allies, Regiment of Ironcald and flying Dwarf King with my Goblin Chariots and King as well as the Hellequins, some Gargoyles and Tortured Souls. On my right, my Goblin Fleabag Sniffs, Troop of Gargoyles and Ba’su’su faced the Brocks. The main action was in the centre where the remainder of Kieran’s army pushed forward towards my Despoilers and Lower Abyssals.
Kieran won the roll for first game and Kieran opted to go first – probably a sensible decision for a Dwarf in an Invade scenario.
It seemed like a bloody game but the constraints of the terrain meant that it was difficult to outflank and there was a lot of grinding going on over several turns. As we approached the end of the game, honours were pretty even and we were down to 2 minutes each for our last turns. I benefitted from knowing that I had the last turn and was able to disengage with my fats units and sprint into the enemy half for the win. When we added up the casualties we had both killed 1,320 points of the enemy. Well done to Kieran who deployed very well and kept me hemmed in for much of the game – if I had not had the last turn it could have gone very differently.
With 3 wins, I finished 7th. Moonraker Andy finished in 6th place, having won one, drawn 2 and lost one. I should have said earlier that the tournament scoring system favoured heavily kill points and my army, normally very killy, underperformed a bit this time.
Yet another great tournament. Thanks to Sharad for organising the event and to all of my opponents.