Sigmar League Round 2: Skeletons vs. Ghouls

 What's up folks! It's on to ROUND 2! This time, my first Death mirror-match, although going into it, I didn't know exactly what kind of smelly grave-spawn would be facing down my dainty skeleton hordes. In the end, it turns out, it was GHOULS of the terrifying Flesh-Eater Courts.

 First notes: this was Round 2, and since the General's Handbook is setup so nicely with scenarios in approximate order, it was the truly uninspiring Blood and Glory scenario. Four Objectives, one in each corner, most Models within 6" holds it, and whoever holds the most Objectives at the end of Round 5 wins.
 Blah. Booooring.

 However, this match promised not to be boring. Flesh-Eater Courts are the current darling of Undead players, having received the most new rules and Warscroll Battalions, along with a lot of the latest new models, a lot of players gravitate to them for obvious reasons. Personally, I've always found them to be a little bit too gooey - but to each their own, right?

 Hilariously, both of us were really excited to use the Cursed Book Relic, and both had the unhappy discovery that it doesn't work on Death units, and so would be wasted in this game. Same for the Black Amulet, but oh well.

 Anyway, I went with a fairly standard list, a slight variant of my last 1k list:

 Wight King (Skeletal Steed, Ancient Shield) General, Ruler of the Night, Tomb Blade relic
 Count Mannfred (Barbed Nightmare)
 Necromancer (Nightmare)
 Skeleton Warriors (20x, Sword/Shield, Banner, Musician)
 Skeleton Warriors (20x, Sword/Shield, Banner, Musician)
 Skeleton Horse Archers (10x, Banner, Musician)

 I swapped out Kemmler to save some points, and the third unit of Skeletons, because only two Battleline units are required and units of less than 20 aren't very reliable. The Wight King is a new inclusion, I wanted Ruler of the Night, and the Wight King is the most durable of Death's budget heroes. Especially rocking the Wound-stealing Tomb Blade, the Ancient Shield for a base 3+, and the 5+ Deathless Minions from Ruler of the Night, he's a beast. On paper.

 My opponent pulled some fresh ones out of the graveyard:

 Vampire Lord (Nightmare) General, Tomb Blade relic, Vampire Lord stock trait
 Vampire Lord
 Ghoul Courtier
 20x Ghouls
 20x Ghouls
 20x Ghouls

 The Ghouls were also part of a Warscroll Battalion, but I don't remember the name. It allowed them to arrive from any table edge on Turn 1 more than 9" from any enemy models - that counted as their move, but they could still Charge. A 9" Charge isn't impossible, but it's on the long side, so I was hopeful about that. That same Battalion also let his Ghoul units roll their "Return D6 slain models to this unit in the Hero Phase" even if they weren't within range of a Courtier. And, as an extra nasty bonus, the unit that *was* within range of the Courtier could do that twice - returning 2D6 models/turn.
 It's a powerful Battalion for sure, but it also cost him 100 points, and he was 20 under 1000 in the end, so I had an advantage of 20 pts technically, but 120 point lead in models. He rolled on the Triumph table and got an extra Wound for his General.

 The Terrain was uninspiring this game, and here's where I wound up (this is in the middle of his Deployment of his Ghouls for Turn 1).

 We had no Deadly terrain, and only one Mystical (that Realmgate). The Serpent Gate was the Fear-Generating one, and the others had no meaningful impact on the game.
 In Deployment, I wanted to solidly hold one Objective, to spread out a little and limit where his Ghouls could arrive from, but also be close enough for my units to reinforce each other.

 You can see his General up there on the top left, the other Vampire Lord is to the right of him.

 One unit of Ghouls deployed in front of my Archers, while another deployed to the far right of my lines (I took a bunch of pictures here because my army looks pretty good these days, if I do say so myself!)

 Pictured below is a more complete photo of his final deployment. That unit on the right has the Courtier (modeled for this game with a footslogger Wight King). Shortly after I took this picture, he put out his third unit of Ghouls up just under that little flat hill.

 Huff. Ghouls.
 This being my first match, I was concerned that the Ghouls, with their 2-attacks each base (3 in a unit of 20), would be able to overwhelm my slower Skeletons.

 Round 1
 On to Ghouls Turn 1:

 In the Hero Phase, he used the Vampire Lord's trait to give his left Ghoul unit an additional Attack this turn (2 base, +1 for 20x models, +1 for the trait = FOUR each) and then failed to cast Mystic Shield on them (whew!) and failed the charge with both them and the Courtier-escorted unit on my right flank.

 Thank goodness for small favors! My turn :)

 In my Hero Phase, I got magical. Mannfred had a shining golden moment of glory and landed both Wind of Death and Mystic Bolt, doing 3 Mortal Wounds each, dropping the Vampire Lord General to a single Wound, and killing one Ghoul with Wind of Death (handy!)
 My Necromancer tried to cast Varhel's Danse Macabre to allow my far-right unit of Warriors to pile-in and attack twice, but I failed to cast it.

 Here, I had a choice to make. I wanted to get first-charge so I could kill at least one Ghoul to drop their Attacks from 3 to 2, that was huge. The Ghoul unit on my left was weaker, not having the Courtier, but also backed up by two Vampire Lords, and my Skeleton Warriors were too far away to make that Charge on my turn. So, I opted for the Charge I knew I could make and went right. My Wight King, Necromancer, and center unit of Skeletons ran as far right as they could get (my Warrior unit ran a mighty 2", for 6" total :P)
 My Skeleton Horse Archers, being the most excellent shots they are, scored three Wounds on the General, he failed one, and died Turn 1. Boom! Then, those horsemen, being the total cheating bastards they are, ran away. 16" away no less. Mannfred ran as well, and while not quite as zippy, did make a respectable 14"

 Then came the charges. Being about 6" away, my Skeletons were guaranteed to make the charge because of their Musician. They pulled off an 8" Charge, so I was able to squeeze a few more than just the front row in, and being a unit of 20, they each got two Attacks. At 3+ Hit/4+ Wound, they can do a lot of damage. Or, they can not. This was the devastating alpha strike I needed to do a lot of damage on to gain an early lead. What I did wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. In the end, five Ghouls went down. Enough to drop an Attack, not enough that all the little bastards weren't coming right back on 2D6 in his next turn. Hope for a double turn, right?

 Round 2
 Sadly, I did not get my double turn. Ah well. His Ghoul's return attack was pretty nasty, and at the end of his Turn 2, my 20-man Skeleton unit was looking a little thin. All five Ghouls had come back, and in the combat in his turn, I killed another four.
 His other units tried to catch me, running top speed, but I'd successfully pulled back to where they couldn't reach me. Yet. I still had time to take out this one unit before his other two landed on my head. The only eventful change in his Turn 2 was his Crypt Ghoul Courtier made it into combat and did some atrocious things to my Skeletons.

 In my Turn 2, I failed to do Varhel's Danse (again), and failed to cast Wind of Death AND Arcane Bolt with Mannfred. So much for my epic Wizards!
 I was doing fairly well, but I knew I had to kill the Crypt Ghoul Courtier, and fast. My Wight King completely missed him, rolling four 1's to-hit. My Necromancer likewise missed with her Staff, and he saved the one Wound caused by her Nightmare.
 My Archers also pin-cushioned him, doing the only two Wounds I actually landed on him that round.

 The above is where we were at the end of Round 2. I'd successfully gotten away from one flank, and was preparing to just flatten the other, but it was proving more difficult than I'd expected. My Wight King should have been doing work, but in two rounds of combat hadn't done a damn thing. My Skeletons were doing all right, but attrition wasn't being kind to them. I was putting four or so back a turn (solid) but losing 6-7 each turn, while his unit was almost fully reinforcing every turn. Yikes!

 On to Round 3
 So far, our Initiative rolls had been very consistent, he was getting first turn most of the time, but neither of us was getting the dreaded double-turn.

 He did get that first off, and the reinforcements finally arrived. The grey Ghouls piled in to try to finish off my Wight King in one fell swoop, both them and the Courtier hitting him for all they were worth.
 Here, his rolling was terrible, but I also failed *every single* 3+/5+, dropping my Wight King to a single Wound (uh oh). The picture below though is from the end of my turn, and you'll note that that Crypt Ghoul Courtier is gone. Huzzah! My Archers did their work, with a little help from the Necromancer. Her staff finally hit, and as always, we were both a little shocked at how devastating it was when she actually hit with the darn thing.
 Then again, my oh so might Wight King missed all four of his attacks. Again. So much for regenerating with that Tomb Blade :P his horse did eat two Ghoul's faces from the white unit, just to make the King himself embarrassed.

 His other unit of white Ghouls also was catching up, and I was at the point where I had to figure out if I would keep wailing on the one unit, or split up to try to blunt the pincer that was bearing down on me. In my Hero phase, Mannfred again lashed out with Wind of Death at the surviving Vampire Lord, and again hit him for three Wounds. He saved two, but was still hurting. Mannfred also cast Mystic Shield on the Wight King, hoping a 2+ would mean he could actually make a damn save. The Necromancer also stepped up, at long last landing Varnhel's Danse and letting my remaining 8 Skeletons pile-in and attack twice. The Ghouls were still regenerating D6 per turn, but not 2D6, and they had no Heroes nearby, so they were denied their Deathless Minions save, which was a huge swing in my favor.

 In the end, I opted for a Counter-charge. My full unit of Skeletons did an about-face, and led by Mannfred, charged the full unit of Ghouls. I'd tagged one with spray from Mannfred's Wind of Death, so he already wasn't at full strength, so I opted to hit the rightmost Ghouls with my small unit of skeletons first.
 He swung back with his gray Ghouls first, trying to finish off my Wight King - who again missed all four $%#ing attacks, but did manage to cling to his 1-Wound with the 2+/5+

 The Vampire Lord is coming around the side of the Serpent Gate here, my Archers had dropped him another two Wounds in my turn, so when his turn rolled around his Vampire drank from his Blood Chalice in a moment of panic, going back up to full Wounds.
 When the dust settled, I'd hit back much harder, and was starting to gain a lead. Mannfred, for the first time since I've started playing him, really kicked some butt, landing a devastating number of Wounds on those Ghouls. In return, my larger Skeleton unit took three Casualties, and Mannfred saved/Armor of Templehof'ed to take no damage.

 I was both emboldened and bummed here. That my Wight King had survived was great, that Mannfred had hit so hard was also great, and I was doing some work on that first unit of Ghouls that I'd been duking it out with since Turn 1.

 At the same time though, there was an almost unhurt unit of Ghouls, and my Skeletons were hurting bad. One set of bad rolls would set me way back.

 ...And this jackass, who I'd been so proud to field, was the worst fighter I have *ever* seen. A grand total of 12x 3+/3+ attacks and he hadn't landed a single freaking one.

 Ah well. Round 4!
 Down to the wire here. Second to last turn, and we were all mucked up in each other's lines, with very little progress on either side. My excellent turn was a mixed blessing, because it arrested my painfully slow slide and gave me a small advantage, but I still wasn't getting anywhere either.

 The Ghouls went first, with that Vampire Lord finally getting into the fight-

 All of this was state-of-the-game at the start of Turn 4:

 That 6 is to mark that I did, again, get Varnhel's Danse off, but I'd opted for that instead of Mystic Shield, so I was pretty sure my Wight King was going down. Especially since a lot of those grey Ghoul's had come back on his turn:

 The grey unit was up to full-strength, for their full 3-attacks each. In the end, they did get him. After he, again, missed ALL OF HIS ATTACKS. AGAIN.
 DAMMIT Wight King. You are the worst champion/general/worthless sack of bones ever! What the shit!

 I did get another saving grace:

 This one Ghoul hadn't come back, so his big what unit of Ghouls wouldn't be swinging at Mannfred with three attacks each. But, between his Ghouls and Vampire Lord, he was actually able to finish off my second Skeleton's unit (!!) with the massive damage from the Lord. In return, Mannfred annihilated 3/4 of the white Ghoul unit, leaving it in sorry shape.

 You can also see on the right there, my Varnhel's Skeletons had actually killed that first unit of Ghouls down to *one model,* but I just couldn't land that last wound. He rolled a miraculous two 6's to save himself.

 So here we are at last, Round 5-
 And this time, I finally got that double turn! I did terrible damage to those Ghoul's across the board, but *still* couldn't bring them all down. I also completely failed to factor in where we were in the game, and decided not to have my Archers run for the upper-left Objective, because I figured he couldn't get the points either. In hindsight though, that was incredibly stupid.

 You can see in the photo above how he had his Ghouls return to the unit. He pulled a solid 6 back, and added them back to the unit in a daisy-chain towards the lower-right Objective. I hadn't expected that either! And since I'd gone first that turn, I was caught flat-footed when he Ran them, and did this:

 And here's that Run:

 Those two moves got him those two Objectives, barely, and the win. Curses!

 I'd gotten cocky/distracted, and didn't play for the Objectives. I, again, got caught up in the various melee's and somehow thought my opponent wasn't playing for the Objectives either, but in the end he very much was. Well played!

 In hindsight...  I wonder what I would have done differently. This was a game where I failed a *lot* of critical rolls. That Wight King did nothing, where he should have been putting down 5-6 Ghouls per turn by himself. Failing that first Varnhel's Danse also hurt, not giving me that initial crushing Charge on Turn 1.
 I definitely would have Run my Archers for the one Objective, and Retreated with Mannfred to the other, after blasting that white Ghoul unit with both Arcane Bolt and Wind of Death, rather than Mystic Shield on Mannfred. That said though, it's very unlikely I could have had more models on that Objective than he did in the end, since he only needed a measly two to take it from Arkhan. There was no way I could have gotten to the lower-right Objective.

 My options were limited a lot, and very quickly, by his Ghouls deploying in my face, and then the sheer weight of their numbers. Over the course of this game, I killed his army at least twice over, including that second Vampire Lord, but he still outnumbered me badly by the end. Testament to just how potent that Warscroll is, especially in a small game.

 All of this is also why I poo-poo'ed the scenario in the beginning. It's flat Objectives, each one can't be contested by fewer foes, and all that matters is who has more of them. In other words, it's one of those Scenarios that's lacking in subtlety that if you're winning, you're likely to keep winning.
 If I were to re-play this same scenario, I would run all three of my Heroes as Wight Kings, and filled the list with as many small units of Black Knights as I could, then just run around the board and forced the Ghouls to really split up and chase me. Maybe it would work, maybe not. Oh well.

 But! I am particularly excited for the next League Round, because the scenario Three Places of Power is by far my favorite :)

 More on that later - I'll leave you with some pictures of another player's absolutely top-notch Beastclaw Raiders!