Gazzor posted a brutal-looking Empire list. In my local group, there tends to be a keen desire to crush your enemy, drive them before you, and hear the lamentation of their women. There are a few good all-comers lists that have enjoyed long strings of successes, so I thought I'd give Gazzor's Arch-Lector list a spin and see if I can't knock a few armies off their pedestal.
Last night was FoW campaign night, so most of my usual opponents were fighting through the bocage in Normandy. I did manage to reserve a table, and my friend Dave showed up looking for a game of fantasy, so all was well. Dave brought his Chaos Dwarf list. I'll be reconstructing it from memory: Lord (lvl 4 wizard, lore of Metal); Level 2 wizard, lore of fire; BSB with War Banner, Bull Centaur Hero. He had 2 units of 15 Blunderbusses with full cmd, 2 units of 20 Chaos Dwarf Warriors (hw, shield, gw) with full cmd, a unit of 10 hobgoblin bowmen, 10 hobgoblin wolf riders with full command, 9 Bull Centaurs with full cmd, three hobgoblin spearchukkas, and an Earthshaker cannon. About 2250 points.
I fielded Gazzor's list: http://www.dakkadakka.com/Forums/tabid/56/view/topic/postid/176839/forumid/19/tpage/1/Default.aspx#178997
I took the lore of metal, shadow, and heavens, since those are the mounted wizards I had painted. For the Ring of Volans I got luck and rolled the Comet.
Terrain setup was very conservative, as we each wished to maximize our artillery. I got choice of table sides and picked the one I was on, since the store was very crowded. My side of the table had a hill on the left, in the deployment zone, and a wood on the right, just in front of the DZ. Dave's side had a hill on the right, in the DZ, and a tower on the left, just outside the DZ. As you might guess, the hills were directly across from each other, as were the wood & tower. We deployed, thus:
On my side, from left to right: Steam Tank, shadow mage, 5 knights panther, metal mage (all in one unit), cannon, hill- cannon, cannon-, xbow detachment, xbows, xbow detachment, cannon, War Altar, 5 knights of the blazing sun, celestial mage (all in one unit). Across from me, again from my left to right: 9 Bull Centaurs+Hero, spearchukka, hill- chukka, chukka, Earthshaker-, Blunderbusses, 20 Warriors (General & BSB), hobgoblin archers in a line, behind the hobgoblins the second unit of warriors (lvl 2 wizard), the 2nd blunderbusses as well, and on the far right behind the tower, 10 hobgoblin wolf riders.
Since most of my army is warmachines & all went down at the same time, I finished deploying first, and won the roll for the first turn.
Turn 1: Empire: generate 5 SP, generate 5 SP; no charges. Move STanks forward 9", move cavalry (and attached wizards/War Atlar)forward 7". Magic: most spells do not cast or are dispelled, but two prayers are allowed to go off. Shooting: ST kills one Bull Centaur. 2 cannons misfire, the other two overshoot, as does the other ST. The crossbows do five unsaved wounds to the enemy general's unit.
Chaos Dwarfs: Wolfriders get a 6 for animosity and surge 1" forward. Archers squabble. No charges. The wolf riders run up the flank, but are not able to get entirely behind the wood on my side of the table. The general's unit and the Blunderbusses move up; the other two units are blocked by the squabbling hobgoblins. The Bull centaurs don't move. Magic: the enemy general miscasts and ends the magic phase, taking a S4 hit which wounds him, all spells on the table end, so my prayers go away. Shooting: The Earthshaker drops its shell right on the War Altar, which makes its 4+ ward save. The ES effect gets the War Altar , knights, ST, and a cannon. Other Chaos Dwarf shooting results in a single dead knight panther. (For those of you who have never had the pleasure of facing Chaos Dwarfs: an Earthshaker Cannon fires like a stone thrower- small template, scatter, S8/S4- but after the hit you roll 2d6 to determine the range of the 'earthshaker effect'. All movement within the area is halved, missle troops cannot fire, and war machines can only fire if they can first roll a 4+. Affects both friend & foe).
Turn 2: Empire: generate 5 SP for each tank. Left tank charges Bull Centaurs w/all 5 SP's. Knights Panther charge as well. Centaurs elect to hold, thinking I am out of reach. Movement: the STank hits the Bull Centaurs, but the knights fail their charge by about an inch. The War Altar & knights move forward a bit more. The right-hand stank turns to the right, moves 3" (damn ES effect) and lines up on the wolf riders. Magic: another turn of mostly not rolling high enough, though I got off Unseen Lurker on the Panthers and Dave committed some dispell dice to stop it. This time I remembered that the Golden Griffon lets the Arch-Lector cast a Light Magic spell, but nothing came of it. Since Dave had used all his dispell dice, I popped the Ring of Volans and dropped a comet on his Earthshaker, and he used his first dispell scroll. Shooting: again, two cannon misfires (fortunately still only 5-6), and two well-judged shots that stuck in the ground. The ST shot long, but managed to kill a single wolf rider. Then the engineer popped off with his pistol and killed two more. The hobgoblins promptly panicked off the table, much to my relief. The crossbows failed to repeat their performance; of the pitiful three wounds they caused, all were saved. Close combat: The Steam Tank rolled 6d3 impact hits, generating 11; at S6, the Bull Centaurs got no armor save. Only the hero was left in base contact. He hit automatically at S6, and rolled threes or lower for no wounds... outnumbered by a Terror-causer, he fled.
Chaos Dwarfs: again, the hobgoblin archers squabbled. No charges; the fleeing BC hero rallied. The Blunderbusses & general's unit moved forward some more, while the units stuck behind the hobgoblins impatiently reformed to march around them. Magic: most spells failed their casting value, but I used one of my scrolls to stop Wall of Fire against the Panthers. Shooting: Earthshaker targeted my left-hand Steam Tank and got a direct hit... then rolled a '1' to wound. The ES effect got the tank, the Panthers, and one of his 'chukkas. The other 2 chukkas missed. No close combat.
Turn 3: Empire: generate 5 SP's, 5 SP's, tra la. No charges. ST on left moves up a little, then turns to face chukka flanks. Panthers wheel to the right and move forward as far as possible. ST on right returns to battle line. War Altar & Blazing Suns advance a bit. Magic: It's a tense duel. He stops my Unseen Lurker, thus keeping the Panthers out of the Blunderbuss flanks; but lets several other spells go, and the Blunderbusses & the General's unit take several unsaved hits from various magic missles. Shooting: my leftmost, Earthshaken ST cannot fire, so there are 2 SP's gone to waste... or are they? Only one cannon misfires this time, but it causes a two-turn click. Two cannons tear up the Blunderbusses and the General's unit, and the right-flank ST fires a perfect shot that sticks in the ground. The crossbows add a bit more injury, and finally the foremost Blunderbuss unit is down to only 2 men, but they pass their Ld check handily.
Chaos Dwarfs: the gobbos pass the animosity check, finally. The BC Hero passes his tests and charges the ST; the general's unit aligns on the War Altar and the Blunderbusses try to get beside them. Shooting: the Earthshaker targets the right-hand ST, and does 2 wounds this time. One chukka has a flank shot down my Panthers... all three chukkas hit, and the Panthers die. The two wizards easily pass their Ld checks. Close Combat: The BC Hero does one wound against my left-flank tank. Then I use my 2 leftover steam points and grind him into a gooey paste.
Turn 4: Empire: Generate 5 SP's... whew. Generate 4 SP's... whew. Left hand ST charges a chukka. Right hand ST charges the hobgoblin archers. They flee, and I 'enemy in the way' into the blunderbusses. The wizards on the left flank move towards the center of the table, closer to the action. Magic: Doomfire ring, Distillation of molten silver, and forked lightning all do their part to weaken the Chaos Dwarf General's unit. Shooting: nothing from the tanks, and of my three working cannons, all three overshoot. A warrior here, a fleeing hobgoblin there... hopefully it will add up. The crossbows do their part. Close combat: the chukka turns into splinters and goo. The Blunderbuss unit is destroyed except for its champion, who manges to put another wound on the tank, before running away.
Chaos Dwarfs: the General's unit charges the War Altar/Blazing Suns. The two remaining Blunderbusses try to go in on the flank, but don't have the reach. The General challenges the Arch-Lector, who accepts. Magic: The general casts Transmutation of Lead on the Blazing Suns with total power. Oh, and the Lvl 2 finally has LoS to something, and casts Wall of Flame on the crossbows, with total power. The other spells don't make, but Dave was pretty happy anyway. My main crossbow unit takes 4 casualties, panics, and stops one inch from my table edge. Shooting: the Earthshaker targets the right-flank tank and does 6 wounds! The chukkas target the left tank and cause two wounds. Close combat: The Chaos Dwarf Wizard General pops his Black Gem of Nar, removing himself & the Arch-Lector from the combat... they don't fight at all, locked in some sort of stasis (I hate it when he does this to Grimgor). Due to the way we lined up, only 3 dwarfs can hit my knights. They elect to use great weapons, but even with the -3 to my save, only one knight dies... then the remaining knights, horses, and the wizard do nothing back. Adding up his standard, battle standard, war banner and wound, against my standard and outnumber, the knights pass their break test. Since they aren't contributing a rank bonus, the dwarfs elect to move the three remaining guys in back up to the front, and that's that.
Turn 5: Empire: Generate 1 SP... damn! No, and the right-flank tank takes another wound. Generate 2 SP's... drat! No, and the left-flank tank takes another wound. No one moves, the crossbows fail to rally and flee off the table. Magic: the general's unit gets hit with Transmutation of Lead, and he dispells it. Then the Lector gets off Dazzling Brightness on the General's unit (Back at ya, Dave!). Doomfire ring, Distillation at the warrior unit with the Lvl 2 in it; a warrior here, a prayer there. Dave lets the prayers go, and now the Blazing Suns are Unbreakable. Shooting: all my cannons are back; all my cannons do squat. The crossbow detachments manage to wound the Lvl 2's unit a bit more. Close combat: The effects of the Black Gem are gone, and the Arch-Lector takes the Chaos Wizard Lord General's remaining wounds almost contemptuously. (No armor or ward save, don'tcha know.) The unbreakable knights kill a couple of dwarfs, and the dwarfs do not wounds in return. They lose the combat, but hold.
Chaos Dwarfs: no charges. The fleeing hobgoblins rally, but who cares. Magic: I easily shut down his level 2, using my last dispell scroll. Shooting: the Earthshaker destroys the right-flank tank, but the chukkas do nothing against the left-flank tank. Close combat: the Chaos Dwarf BSB challenges the Arch-Lector, I don't know why. I accept, and use the speculum; trading striking last in exchange for more attacks. The BSB goes down beneath a flurry of attacks, and the knights and even the wizard butcher the remaining warriors- they break, we pursue, running them down and collecting their standard and battle standard.
At this point we decided to call the game, it was late, and Dave felt that I had it in the bag. Honestly I was not so sure; one tank gone and the other crippled, and his Earthshaker was doing terrible things to my movement. Still, I had three casters (4 if you count the Arch-Lector) to his one, and some good offensive spells. He didn't fancy his chances at destroying the War Altar with his artillery. He had an Earthshaker & two spear chukkas, about 8 hobgoblin archers, and maybe 15 warriors with a Lvl 2 Wizard. I had 3 Lvl 2 wizards, the Arch-Lector and War Altar, 4 Knights of the Blazing Sun, 2 detachments of 5 crossbowmen, 4 intact cannons, and a crippled Steam tank. We didn't add up VP's, but I think it would have been a close game, either a draw in my favor or a marginal victory. Dave had a lot of nasty things to say about the Steam Tank (he was quite irritated that Commandment of Brass didn't affect it), but I think he has come to realize that they aren't unbeatable. We both had more than our share of bad dice; Dave must have rolled a '1' to wound with his artillery almost as many times as I had misfires.
This list of Gazzor's was a nice army to try out, but I don't think it's me. I'll use it a couple more times... there is a 2nd-generation Slann list that makes my fists itch... but I think I'll be making some changes eventually.