Sigmar League Round 3: Death vs. Sylvaneth

 Hey y'all! It's that time again! I'm here, fresh out of my Sigmar League Round 3 - and my very favorite Mission: Three Places of Power!

 Three Places of Power, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
 Here's the skinny: three Objectives, one dead-center of the board, with two others at 18" out from the first along the long center line. These Objectives can only be held by Heroes, on a first-come, first-served basis (no contesting), and with each successive turn an Objective is held by the same Hero, it's worth an additional point.

 I love it. Love it, love it - because the Objectives are center-field, no backfield camping to score, they can't be held by Mobs or Tarpits, and require players to commit their fragile Heroes to gain points for victory. It's a scenario that makes for particularly interesting games, and I'm all about it :)
 It's also set up so you earn points during the game, no just at the end, so there's a tallying aspect that makes each turn more tense and more exciting.

 This time, it was the first 1500 pt round, and knowing I was facing Sylvaneth, I wanted to lure them in and load up on my most powerful Spellcasters, and save points for Summoning to put units where I wanted them when I needed them. So here's my list:

 Arkhan the Black (General)
 Count Mannfred (Barbed Nightmare)
 Necromancer (Nightmare, Cursed Book relic)
 Skeleton Warriors (30x, Sword/Shield, Banner, Musician)
 Skeleton Warriors (10x, Sword/Shield, Banner, Musician)
 Skeleton Warriors (10x, Sword/Shield, Banner)

 *480 pts reserved as Reinforcement Points (for Summoning)

 The Skeleton blob bubble-wraps my Heroes at first, preventing Forest-teleporting Treemen from getting at my Heroes first turn (as happened last time I fought Sylvaneth). I have Count Mannfred and Arkhan, allowing me to cast Wind of Death, Arcane Bolt, and Curse of Years in a single turn, which should make short work of any single hard-targets that get too close. And since I'm using Arkhan as my General, "too close" is my casting range of 24"
 The Necromancer is there as a fast, cheap Hero, another source for Summoning, and the Signature Spell that allows my Skeleton units to Pile-in and Attack twice in a Combat phase.

 The Sylvaneth list, I'm still only vaguely aware of them, but I'll do the best I can here:

 Treelord Ancient (General, Oaken Shield relic, stock Command Ability)
 Kurnoth Hunters (3x, Scythes)
 Kurnoth Hunters (3x, Bows)
 Kurnoth Hunters (3x, Bows)
 Dryads (20x)
 Dryads (20x)

 There was also a Warscroll Battalion included, but I'm still unclear on what it was. I do know that somehow, his Casters were able to Cast and Unbind two spells per turn each, he got to roll for a "free" Wildwood at the beginning of each turn, and he was able to cast a spell to add D3 to the Branchwych's next Casting Roll.
 The Treelord Ancient's Command Ability I'm all too familiar with. It allows him and any Sylvaneth Unit within 10" to re-roll saves of 1. The bubble automatically reaches any Kurnoth Hunter unit in his army, and extends to any Sylvaneth unit within 8" of them. Also, his Relic gives him a 2+ base save, and he's re-rolling 1's.
 Grumble grumble...

 Here's how Terrain and Deployment shook out:

 As a Terrain piece, he chose one Wildwood as a piece to place, and slapped it right around the center Objective. Well crap. If anyone (my Wizards included) casts a spell within 6" of a Wildwood, on a 4+ it will "Waken" and deal D3 Mortal Wounds to any non-Sylvaneth unit within... I think 3"?
 I hear I have Webb to thank for that little tactical tidbit. Well played Webb, well played!

 On the plus side, that shrine smack in the middle of my Wizards grants +1 to Cast within 3" of it, and that rock next to my rightmost Skeleton unit gives them Fear, for a -1 Bravery to any unit they end up in Combat with, if they began the turn within 3" of it. Sylvaneth's only real major weakness is their Bravery, with the normal value being around 6, so that's a nice boost. On another bit of luck, the Shrine in the middle of *his* lines is a 5, so if he rolls a 1 on those Dryads, they're sitting on their hands for a turn.

 Those Hunters though are *bad.* With five Wounds each, and a 4+ save re-rolling 1's, they're hard to shift. Those bows have a 30" range, two attacks each, Hit on 4's (3's for the unit leader), Wound on 3's, and do D3 damage at Rend -1. Jesus.
 Even worse, the Scythes have 3 attacks each, Hit on 3's (*2's* for that unit leader), Wound on 3's and do D3 damage at Rend -2. Rend -2 makes my Saves all but worthless, no matter how good of a unit I through at them.
 I'm not fond of that Branchwych either. Sylvaneth has a spell that lets them return D3 Dryads or 1 Kurnoth Hunter to a unit, up to max unit size, and she can Waken the Woods at significant range. Plus, she's a Hero, so a Scoring unit.

 Sylvaneth got first turn, so on to Round 1!
 First things first, this happened:

 Score! Act like real trees for once, you angry sacks of sticks!

 His other Dryads and Scythe Hunters Ran, while his Bowmen took their normal slow move, which was plenty to get 30" range on my Necromancer, but just barely out of range of Arkhan. He rolled three Hits on my Necromancer, but she used her 4+ "Skeleton Save" to pass those hits to Skeletons, and I rolled three 6's for their Death save, so I wound up losing 3 from my unit of 30.

 You'll be back, my pretties! Those bases are WIP, please forgive their rough appearance...

 His other Hunters had easy range on Arkhan, and moved up slowly (cautiously) with his Treelord, and did several Wounds to him. It was quickly apparent that I wouldn't be able to outrun then, and they would *easily* pick off my Heroes from beyond the range where I could effectively respond. I was getting very concerned here.
 He'd kept most of his units out of range, so I had limited options, but I started by Summoning the first of my Reinforcements:

 5x Skeleton Horse Archers, to respond with some arrows of my own, and a Cairn Wraith to fight for that Objective. Unfortunately, because his Dryads were so close to the Objective and I had to summon 9" away from enemy units, my options here were limited. Still, the Cairn Wraith is a real threat to those Dryads, and in range to reach the Objective next turn.

 I also *failed* to summon my Hexwraiths, which I was going to send against his Kurnoth Archers. I was pretty miffed about that, because I was summoning them on a 5+ with my Necromancer, and could have easily gotten them well up-field. But, at the same time, I wasn't too upset, because they would have been engaged with the Archers AND surrounded by 20 Dryads and a Treelord. So I let that slide without much sadness.

 It was here that I realized my first mistake - there is no "Summon Wight King" spell, so I had no option to bring my Wight King into the battle. He was a Hero I'd been counting on having in this fight, and I was not pleased to find out that he would be sitting this one out.
 But I wasn't done with my casting, I also hit the Scythe hunters with Wind of Death and Curse of Years, bringing one of the three down to 1 Wound. I was about to hit them again, then my good sport of an opponent reminded me that, if one died, his Branchwych could bring one back with full Wounds. So I left him at 1 Wound instead, since he had no way of healing.
 I'd hoped to take out at least one, before I'd realized they could reinforce, but had been hoping to do more damage too. They durability is no joke, and having to remove ten Wounds to do any lasting damage to the units is brutal...

 My lines were mostly static here, my 30-man blob and Wizards stayed put, while my left-most 10-man Skeleton unit Ran (a mighty 1") towards the Archers, Cairn Wraith, and Dryads to add a little fodder to that scrum.

 As shown below, my Archers also took two Wounds off of the Branchwych, and Wind of Death was in range to take one Wound off of those Archers as well.
 All in all going in to Turn 2, I had given decidedly more than I'd gotten, but that was more to do with luck and most of his stuff being around of range than anything.

 Even when Sylvaneth got first-turn again, I was cautiously optimistic going in to-

 Round 2!

 He started off the round blasting my Cairn Wraith with Arcane Bolt, who failed both Death saves. Not a great start, but if he dies, I just Summon another one!

 This turn, those other Dryads made their roll, and in his Hero phase he successfully cast that Wildwood, placing it in range for his Dryads to do their weird tree-teleport into my lines. The gimmick here is that the Warscroll Battalion gives him that first shot at a Wildwood (on a 4+, I believe) and then he also has the spell to create a second, and then - still in the Hero phase - can move a Sylvaneth unit from one Wildwood to the other.

 Step 1 above, step 2 below. There's some penalty where rolling a 1 means that can't then do any other action, and they can't be within 9" of an enemy unit when they come out of the tree. They can be *in* it though, no problem.

 He also had some Spite Revenants that are allowed to enter from any table edge, again 9" from any enemy units:

 His Branchwych ran away, obviously concerned about my Archers. While no match for Kurnoth Hunters, they're more than capable of killing a weaker Hero.

 Here's where things got bad. He was able to move both Archer units within range of Arkhan, easily. And with those above-mentioned stats on those bows, had no trouble breaking through my respectable 4+ save (a 5+ with that BS Rend) to do this:

 Oh. Shit. Oh shit shit shit.

 Here's my early rant - these things are too good. For a measly 180 points, these things easily annihilate Heroes at well beyond anyone's effective range to respond. Even a big, beefy monster like a Mortarch could have been killed in two turns by these horrors. Their range is too long, their frame too durable, and their damage too high. Even if you get them in combat, they're very hard to kill, and until they're actually dead, getting them in combat does nothing to stop their shooting.
 Plus, even when they're in combat, even the Archer versions get a Stomp or Stump attack, which on a 4+, does a Mortal Wound to an enemy unit in base-to-base with a Hunter model. So a unit of 3 can do 3 Mortal Wounds, for free, at the end of combat. What!

 Add to their wicked damage potential that they also extend the General's Command bubble, can have 5-Wound models brought back with minimal effort, and can Root to make their save full-on re-rollable with negligible penalties. Even at this point in the game, it was painfully obvious that I just had no options to effectively counter these things.

 In the Charge phase, his Dryads both made their Charges, both multi-Assaulting my units.

 The Spite-Reventants, however, did not make their Charge, which was a small favor, but not insignificant.

 These Charges were actually a blessing for me, because while Hunters are quite good and durable in combat, Dryads are not. Skeletons, on the other hand, kind of are. Especially when backed up by Death Heroes. 
 And, if I can manage to get Arkhan into combat, he should be easily able to kill a Dryad to get his two Wounds back, which would be absolutely critical if he was to have any chance of surviving the following turn.
 It's also an opportunity for my Cairn Wraith to actually do some damage, before going up in a puff of sickly green smoke.

 His Charge was fairly uneventful, I rolled smokin' hot on my Saves, and lost only three Skeletons and one Horse Archer, all of whom gleefully came back in my Hero phase.

 Here above you can see where this combat wound up in my Hero phase - he'd done three Wounds to my Archers, but with the Banner one came back at full health anyway.

 At this point, I wasn't at all concerned about either unit of Dryads. I fully expected my units to be easily able to mop them up. What I *was* concerned about was that damn Treelord and his Archers. I had the 24" range I needed to summon my dastardly Hexwraiths and, with a little luck, get those Archers in combat with something actually dangerous.

 But I failed to Summon them.
 On a $#%@ing 4+. DAMMIT Arkhan!
 This time, it was bad. I had every reason to expect Arkhan to die, seriously hampering my Summoning. And since the Dryads were now in my lines, the Archers were more exposed, and I needed to do work on them fast. So, I needed to Summon while I could, but had very limited options. The only unit I could summon this turn was Black Knights, so I did, and rolled an 11.

 Well... Dammit. A 10+ means I could set up a unit of 10 - which is good, because a unit of 5 wouldn't last long. But bad, because it ate up twice as many Reinforcement Points on a lackluster unit, meaning I now *couldn't* summon Hexwraiths because I didn't have 160 Reinforcement Points still kicking around.
 In hindsight, I should have summoned more Archers, but oh well.

 Continuing the bad news, because of where all of his units were, this was the only place I could put those Knights within 24" of Arkhan, and 9" away from any enemies (his Kurnoth Scythes were keeping me from being on the side of the Archers, very bad).

 I used what little casting I had left to hit Arkhan with Mystic Shield and tried to cast the Necromancer's spell on him too, but failed to cast it.

 But, I kept up the fight. Mannfred went full-tilt towards the Spite Revenants, determined to wipe them out so I didn't have to worry about them any more, and my Skeleton unit there joined him.

 My Cairn Wraith retreated from combat here, Running for the Objective, and netting me a point. You can see him just behind the Realm Gate in the photo above.

 Arkhan also made the Charge, and was able to get within 1" (Huzzah!)

 My Black Knights even made their Charge, although because of where I'd had to place them, they had to charge the Treelord. Which was SO BAD. But I hoped I could maybe hurt him?
 I should have just not Charged. Had I kept them where they were for a turn, they could have looped around and hit the Archers at full strength, or at least lured the Treelord away from the Objective.

 My Skeletons did some work, but Arkhan was the star of the show (for once) not only getting two Wounds back, but doing terrible damage. The Dryads lost around 7 models, and were close to the Fear Skeletons, so lost several more in Battleshock, in addition to the few they'd lost in their turn.

 In return, I lost two Black Knights. Not bad, not great.
 That said, this was their Charge, where their Lances would have done 2 damage each, and where they had +1 to-Wound. But, if the entirety of last League taught me anything, it's that Black Knights actually suck. Even their horses - usually top-performers - didn't score a hit this turn. And to get through a 2+ re-rollable, I needed to do a *lot* of Wounds.

 But Mannfred and the Skeletons wiped out the Spite Revenants before they even had the chance to strike.
 My Archers killed some more Dryads, in both shooting and Combat, and again lost 1 model in return.

 My Cairn Wraith scored me a point, while his Treelord Ancient scored one for him as well. Technically tied up 1 to 1 going in to-

 Round 3!

 Huff. Turn 3. Technically tied on points, but I'd handily won most of my Combats, and not lost completely to the Treelord. But those Scythes were getting close, and Arkhan was still about to face the full brunt of their shooting.

 Breathing room. But don't breath or he's going to die!
 But, in a spectacular turn, the Hunters whiffed their shots. Between cold rolls and hot saves, I had one turn of highly unlikely reprieve, and Arkhan lived to fight another day.

 The Kurnoth Hunters decided to join the fight, in a combat that would tell me just how effective Black Knights would have been against them, even at full strength.

 His other Hunters also decided to finish off my Cairn Wraith, dealing him two Wounds, while he dealt none back in return. The Cairn Wraith is another Hero who is pretty good on paper, but whose 4+/3+ three attacks often miss. Add to that that even these Archers re-roll their saves and, well, bad juju.

 And this combat proved decidedly (and predictably) one-sided, leaving my Black Knights dwindling fast.

 Here, my Cairn Wraith actually survived! Dealing a single Wound, but not dying either. That said, this is Top of turn 3, so he has to survive one more round of Combat in the Bottom of 3 to score me more points.

 Here's the middle of my turn, above. The Branchwych had moved into the Wildwood, granting him another point, plus two for the Treelord. As of now, he's sitting on four points to my 1.
 This was a tough Hero phase, since both of his Wizards are in range to counter my Casters, and Arkhan is hurt enough to have casting penalties. So I believe Arcane Bolt and Wind of Death were dispelled, but Arkhan did manage Curse of Years to kill the Branchwych. Take that, firewood!

 I also managed to re-cast Divine Shield on Arkhan, and get him in to combat. But still, had I gotten all of my spells off, I might even have put a dent in that damn Treelord. As it is now, I've been dealing with other targets and trying to stay alive and haven't had the chance I'd hoped to annihilate it.

 Still. My far Skeleton unit and Horse Archers ran, while Mannfred closed on the Scythe Hunters, while my big Skeleton Blob and Necromancer moved to take the Wildwood Objective.
 My Archers managed to do a single Wound, and killed one of the Scythe Hunters. With some hot rolls, I hoped Mannfred might actually be able to kill another one and give me some breathing room.
 Arkhan moved in to polish off the small unit of Dryads, getting dangerously close to the Treelord, but desperately needing to win some Wounds back.

 In hindsight, my Skeleton Blob should also have charged those Scythe Hunters, but I'd Run with them to screen the Necromancer on the Objective. That wasn't exactly a bad call, but since they were going to be in combat anyway, the Charge might have made a difference.

 Here's part-way through those combats, you can see my Black Knights doing very poorly, the Dryads looking real bad, and Mannfred has taken some Wounds from the Hunters, and their #$@%ing re-rollable save keeping even his hot, Rend -1 rolls from doing anything at all. Hogwash.

 Here was another mistake. In my turn, my Cairn Wraith should have Run, retreated around the Archers and held the point, at least for my turn, to give me another two Victory Points, and just one shy of the lead. My thought was, if he died, I could re-summon another Cairn Wraith at full health. While that was true, it was just as true if I'd taken the two Points first. The fact of the matter is, I was underestimating their Stomp attacks, against which he only had a 6+.
 As it was, he did more damage than I'd expected, but in the end fell to the "not great in combat" Kurnoth Hunters.

 This... Was not good. The Armor of Templehof had saved him from dying outright, but he'd done practically no damage in return (which is ridiculous) and their Stomps, with some hot rolling, killed him at last. In one round of combat. Dammit.
 What's particularly tragic is in that combat he did eight Wounds, six of which were Rend -1 and D3 damage, and those stupid logs saved SEVEN of those Wounds. Seven of 8. On mostly 5+. Dude.

 Now that was largely exceptional rolling on his part, but still, that's insane durability on a unit like that, and against possibly the best attack rolls I've ever had from Mannfred.

 In combat vs. the Treelord (etc.) I removed models to remove the Treelord himself from combat, and was whittling down the Kurnoth Hunters. In this combat, without the Treelord, my Black Knights probably would have won in the long haul, especially if their Charge had been on the Archers and not the Treelord, but that was my bad. Still, the Hunters were dealing damage far more reliably that they had any reason too, and making crazy saves (also rooted for the 4+ re-rollable).

 Arkhan, however, was doing all right. He'd lost one Wound in combat, but gained another two, bringing him back above half health, and into safer/more powerful territory.

 I also got another point for my Necromancer, bringing me up to 2, but still well behind with no real hope of catching up. But what the hell, let's see this through. Time to make some more firewood!

 On to Round 4!
 Woo! I got first turn!
 Since most of play was pre-existing combats, whose turn it was in many ways was blurring. But, It was nice to finally get first for once :)

 Ok, so here's where we're at - that Treeman is about to get *three* points. I have two Heroes alive on the table, one of whom (if she lives) is going to net me two from the middle Objective. If I get my Cairn Wraith summoned, I can take the far Objective no problem.
 That nets me three points, in addition to the two I already have, for a total of five. Round 3 left the Trees with four already between the Treeman's two and Branchwych's one, so if I did manage my full five, I would be in the lead.
 If, however, I wasn't able to shift the Treeman, he was going to get another three points by himself.

 So I tagged that Treeman with Arcane Bolt, which he easily dispelled, then I hit him with Curse of Years, rolled an 11 to cast, and had a solid roll, knocking him down to 7 Wounds.
 ...Now what? Seven is a crapton of Wounds on that frame, and I was out of offensive spells, and no way were the Black Knights going to make up that difference (although they had whittled down one of those Archers!) Worse still, I was within 3" of a Wildwood, and it did Waken, doing D3 Mortal Wounds to all of my units within 3"
 My Skeleton Warriors lost one, my Black Knights lost one (two Wounds), and Arkhan fubbed a save, going from seven Wounds to six.

 In further worse news, the Necromancer failed to summon another Cairn Wraith. So already I wasn't going to get the full three.
 Arkhan was sitting on six Wounds, enough for a 10" Move, right through that Wildwood, straight into that Treelord Ancient. I would have to Charge out of/through a Wildwood, roll high on my Charges, and try very hard not to get flattened like a bug on a windshield against that 2+ re-rollable. Even my Rend attacks would only make it a 4+ re-rollable at worst. And that's only with four of my Attacks...
 If I'd had the Casting to hit him with Vanhel's Danse to pile-in and Attack twice, or even Mystic Shield - ideally both - I... Still probably wouldn't have done it. Even juiced up to holy hell, Arkhan is no match in Combat for a Treelord. While he dishes out more and more powerful attacks, he just doesn't have the Rend to push that damage through, or the durability to weather even weaker return attacks.

 What I did instead was run, and run a mighty 6", for a 16" total move. A solid run, but where? Towards to far Objective for the final turn, away from the Treeman (for whatever reason), but still in range of both units of those damn Archers. I was sitting on six Wounds, but one or two failed Saves with hot rolls...
 Maybe he would have been safer against the Treeman? Who knows.

 Arkhan was in range to Charge, but needed 10", and just didn't make it. The Skeletons did, rolling the 10 he'd needed. My far unit of Skeletons also charged the other unit of Archers, because why not?

 I didn't have much hope that they would accomplish anything, but you never know! And they weren't doing anything else, so it made sense to charge rather than be charged.


 These Skeletons were doing some work, pumping 24 Attacks per round at 3+/4+, I freaking should be! That stupid thing was taking one-Wound per round of combat, if that, and was doing the same to my Necromancer, who was heroically throwing Skeletons in the path of the Scythe to save Wounds.

 This was a mistake, at one point I'd put a single Wound on my Bannerman in the Black Knight unit. It was a long game at that point, I wasn't thinking. Being already Wounded, I had to give him further Wounds before anyone else, meaning no more D3 models coming back per turn - oh no!

 Long story short, I scored my two points with my Necromancer, he scored three with his Treelord, giving him a more than commanding lead. I was pretty much hosed, but, we played it out. On to-

 Round 5!

 Sylvaneth went first again,

 Still got Skeletons!

 ...But no more Arkhan! Shit! I took something like 8 damage worth of Wounds, between failing 5+'s and high D3 rolls for Damage. Brutal. Granted, it was a straight-up miracle that he'd lasted this long, but still. It was tough losing him whenever it happened.

 Yeah, you better just...  Stand there looking menacing, you magnificent model, you!
 But seriously, I'd been so effective against those Dryad blobs, wiping all fourty of them in two Rounds, and then been kicking these things in the shins for the entire rest of the game while they calmly, casually murdered all of my important stuff :P

 In my turn, I Charged with my Archers, and finally summoned that Cairn Wraith. But, again having to be 9" away from enemy units, he's way off in the woods and not much help.

 And this bugger finally killed off my Necromancer with a lucky Stomp, still standing with no less than three Wounds remaining. Huff.

 But hey, I still got Skeletons!

 Welp, that was brutal. Still my favorite scenario! And nowhere near as crushing as my last game against Sylvaneth, yikes. I actually killed all the Dryads this time.

 My plans always seemed to be too little, too late. While my Summoning was fun, and I got *most* of the units I was hoping for, the fact that I couldn't Summon a Wight King was real bad planning on my part. Failing completely to cast my Hexwraiths (twice), and that final Cairn Wraith one turn too many. The real kicker was accidentally Summoning ten Black Knights, sealing my Hexwraith-free army for the rest of the game.
 During the game as well, I made several small mistakes - not Retreating/Running with that first Cairn Wraith. Not Charging the Scythe-Hunters one turn earlier. Not Running the Black Knights around the Treelord to engage the Archers on their first Charge. And probably even not Charging the Treeman in the end. these were snap decisions I could have done to make the game slightly more favorable. But, it's hard to think of anything major I did in-game that I could have done significantly better...
 But also, I was out-played. The murder-Trees spread out, used the Terrain, denying me the best Summon spaces, keeping me from Summoning directly onto Objectives. That was great playing a number of times. I can talk all I want about how those damn Archers are broken, and how you shouldn't have a re-rollable 2+ save in a dice game (ever), but he did play brilliantly with what he had.

 Seriously though, what the shit. That was a *lot* of dirt-cheap, re-rollable saves. And a re-rollable 2+? I can get a 2+/5+, but that's on a Hero, with a Spell, and a Relic all in one. Not just a 2+/2+ with a Hero and a Relic. That's crazy.

 In any case, it was a really great game! It was yet another reminder that I need harder-hitting units in my collection, and that's becoming a priority more and more each time I get murdered :P