Sigmar League Round 5: Death vs. Chaos Undivided

 Mmm, taste the Chaos! I was told that my opponent had been told ahead of time he wouldn't need anything super powerful to face me, and should run a fun, balanced list he wanted to try out (thanks for that, Webb!) because I kind of suck as a player, but I'm great to have a fun, less-competitive match with :)
 Same Scenario as my last post:
  Four Objectives - one in each Deployment Zone, two dead center in each 4x4 table half. At the end of each player turn, that player got 2 points for each central Objective they held, 1 for their Home Objective, and 4 for the Enemy one if the held it. I believe the Objective went to whichever player had more models within 6" of it, no Contesting.

 I ran the same list as last post: 50x Skeletons (30/10/10), Arkhan the Black, Vampire Lord on Horse, Count Mannfred on Nightmare, 5x Hexwraiths, 10x Skeleton Horse Archers, 10x Black Knights, and my Wight King General with Tomb Blade Relic and Ruler of the Night trait.

 His list is that cover photo, a beautifully printed and typed list!
 That last Hero - Sayl the Faithless - is a Forgeworld Wizard that he was particularly eager to bust out, because of his signature spell. He can pick a friendly Chaos unit within, I believe, 18", and that unit can then immediately Fly up to 18"
 He just picks up units and chucks 'em around the table. Holy crap.

 Turn 1!
 I had fewer units, so I went ahead and gave him first turn. I didn't want to make it any easier for him to railroad me, so I hung back.

 In hindsight, since he didn't have much shooting, I should still have taken first turn, just to swing in my Black Knights, cast a defensive Spell or two, and reposition to be more aggressively on at least one center Objective.

 Oh boy oh boy oh boy - a Bloodthirster! Personal goal for this game: I'm gonna kill me a Bloodthirster.
 This was a less than random personal mission, I've struggled against Monsters since I first picked up Sigmar, and if there's every a tough sucker to take down, it's ol' tar-face up there.

 Oh, they spew Mortal Wounds like nobody's business? Well, that sounds bad. Oh, only 8" range? That should be no problem!

 ...Oh, they just flew 18"
 Well shit.
 At this moment it became quite clear why that Wizard was so exciting - to be able to move a unit like that quickly across the board is very potent, being a unit that usually struggles badly with mobility. That's one hell of a delivery system!
 Those being his only Ranged unit really, everything else Ran - with varying success. A lotta 1's for running, but they made do :)

 Those Skaven monstrosities being what they are, they shot the bejeezus out of me, but since Chaos is Fickle, they rolled far fewer attacks than they could have. And despite the potency of the attack, my 30-man unit of Skeletons suffered a half a dozen casualties, but were more or less unbroken.
 So the Rat-monsters decided to Charge!

 While the rat-monsters aren't "great" in combat, they do have a ton of Wounds and a not negligible save, so I didn't want to underestimate them. And I needed to get my butt in gear, because in Turn 1, Chaos had managed to get that side Objective with the Blightkings, giving him 3 points of a lead.

 The above is in my turn, showing that nearly all (if not all) of my Skeletons hopped right back up from the ground, as they are wont to do :)

 All too often in my games, I've been hit with a unit like this. Scary, but not overwhelming, so I've split my fire and forces and more or less let them be. Only to find that in turn 3 or 4 one member of the unit is still running around my lines making my life merry hell - so not this time. My Skeletons weighed in in full-force, and Arkhan popped over to tag them with some nasty spells too.

 And voila! That's how you deal with a nasty rat problem! One of my most successful moves in Sigmar, ever. You can see here that my Knights pushed up the side as well, challenging those Putrid Blightkings, and actually killing one on the Charge.

 All in all, this was a good turn for me. Taking out the Skaven monsters was a big deal, and I pulled off three points here in the end. I was still dealing with a tiny portion of his army (and not the scariest stuff) but it was going...  all right so far.

 On to-
 Turn 2!
 Starting off at 3 to 3, with him down a unit and me so far largely undamaged.

 Oh look! Flying Blightkings! Those were *not* supposed to get here that fast...

 That kind of was supposed to get here that fast, doesn't mean I was ready for it!

 Already knocking down walls and junk, what a jerk...
 About here is where he pulled of his Lash attack (that's not the right model, as shown in the Army List) which pulled my Wight King several inches closer, making it an easy Charge:

 Despite my plucky Wight King rocking a 3+ Save and a 5+ Death save, I had no illusions about how this little scrap was going to go. He'd already taken two Wounds from the Lash alone...

 These other Charges, on the other hand, were quite a bit less predictable:

 The Blightkings here really want at Arkhan, but they'll deal with the Skeletons first. Still, Skeletons will surprise a guy ;)

 You can see here my Black Knights doing... All right, despite getting a Lord of Change up the wazoo. The Blightkings had had trouble making headway, their ludicrous volume of attacks coming up a little short against my astounding Death durability - Deathability? Dura-eth? Whatever, moving on!

 In my turn, you can see everything rotating around the board - my entire right flank and been running towards the left to keep distance from those ravening Chaos Hordes barreling down there, while the bulk of my forces wheeled inward to tackle the Bloodthirster in my face.

 Between spellcasting and my Skeletons doing fairly well (and Kemmler being a baddass), the Blightkings were having a bad day. They'd seriously weakened my Skeleton unit, but they hadn't managed to kill it, and they'd taken a serious beating in return.

 The game was very exciting at this point, so my photography is less than great, I'll try to fill in the gaps and figure out what's happening/when as best as possible. Combat with the Bloodthirster was brutal, but Arkhan's spells made a huge impact, Curse of Years in particular, and the Skeletons did quite a bit of work on their own.

 In the end, I brought it down (Huzzah!) although it cost me the entire Skeletons unit and my Wight King.

 Turn 3+!

 Around this point, turn order gets fuzzy - but the long and the short if it is pretty straightforward. It cost me my Tarpit and some of my most powerful units to bring down the Bloodthirster, and it allowed his other units to catch up, most notably his Khorne Daemon Prince. That KPD isn't as hard to kill as the Bloodthirster by a long shot, but hits almost as hard!

 What's worse, I don't have the numbers to contest my home Objectives, especially since those Daemon units are finally getting into the fight. Up to now, I've been getting 1 pt/turn from my Home Objective, and usually keeping the nearer Center Objective. But that was, at best, keeping the score even, especially since the Daemons started with a 2pt lead by taking "my" Central Objective on Turn 1, and maintained it by (easily) holding the other with their Plaguebearers.

 Here you can see my losing my hold on my Central Objective, and the Daemons easily taking my Home Objective, for an additional 4pts, and denying me 1pt, for a five-pt swing in their favor in a single turn (!)
 At this point, I had a combat advantage. Between Arkhan and my two Vampire Lords being about to dish out serious damage in both the Hero and Combat phases, I wasn't worried about losing my home Combats. But because there's no Contesting Objectives in this scenario, unless I could wipe out the Daemons VERY quickly, I just didn't have the models to get those points back.

 To make some headway, I swung my Skeleton Horse Archers up to replace the Black Knights and engage the units still holding my Central Objective, while I quickly dispatched the Daemon Prince.

 Those Plaguebearers (primed black) proved to be no match at all for Mannfred and a Vampire Lord, I killed them in droves while they were unable to push damage through. But they, and the Bloodletters, still vastly outnumbered my units.

 These little buggers did their job, and did it well. They capped this Objective on Turn 2, and valiantly stood on it :P

 In the final few turns, I mopped up quite a bit, but he held my Home Objective easily for a full two turns, gaining 8 pts and denying me two, for a 10pt swing on that alone. My Archers also very quickly found they were no match for Gutrot Spume and the Lord of Change, and Chaos forces quickly took back that Central Objective as well.
 On the plus side, Arkhan was able to jump over the board and flatten that Wizard, taking the Chaos Home Objective in the final turn, giving me something that looked a *little* bit less like a total shutout ;)

 While the game didn't go at all in my favor, I am rather proud of how much of a brawl it was, and that I still had most of my most valuable models still in play. Plus, I killed a Bloodthirster, AND took the Daemon home Objective!

 I think I (again) didn't learn the same lesson: Be more aggressive. While I probably would have taken a major beating, taking the fight to the Chaos units much, much earlier would have kept the main engagement(s) away from my Home Objective for much longer - and it would have forced him to dedicate more forces to actually defending his Secondary Objective, rather than letting it sit entirely uncontested for so long.
 One critical thing I should have done is have the Black Knights withdraw from combat with those Putrid Blightkings after the first engagement. I could have pulled them off and used their superior speed to bum-rush that lone Wizard, and taken his Home Objective for another turn or two so the Daemons would have had to dedicate some forces to remove them.

 That alone would have been big, but actually engaging on the far-right early on, rather than running, would have helped. A big reason I didn't is because I vastly overestimated Bloodletters and Plaguebearers, and the Bloodthirster. Yes, a Bloodthirster and murder the hell out of a unit - nearly any unit, but only one unit per turn, and can only move so quickly. Spreading out may have cost my chance to take it down, but would have cut down significantly on how much impact it could have had on points, etc.

 All of these are solid tactical options that would have made a major difference in my game, but I probably would still have lost. A big reason I didn't do a lot of these things is because of the relative weakness of many of the units in my army, as well as the mixed nature of being half Skeletons (with a 4" move) and half Cavalry (with 12" move or better). I keep leaning on clustering my army to compensate for the weak individual punch of units, but ultimately that limits their impact of the overall battle, even if it does make them stick and hit way, way harder.

 Still, great game! And I do feel as though I'm improving, even if it highlights just how far I still have to improve :)

 My opponent was a joy to play with too, really great dude running a really great list!