Tournament Report: Tree Thugging in Bristol

I started running tournaments last year and I’m really enjoying it. One thing I haven’t quite yet decided on yet is whether I prefer sitting on the side lines and totting up the scores or running around manically totting up the scores and playing games.

This time around I hadn’t expected to be playing and had been planning on painting some of my Brothermark. However, due to a very last minute drop out I found myself packing up my rats for a day of gaming.

I’m back to playing Ratkin this year. I find them a massively fun army to play, but with lots of synergies and an abundance of melee 4/5 they are not the most consistent armies to play. My list consisted of:

Horde of Warriors with plague pots

Horde of Shock Troops with Jessie’s Boots and plague pots

Regiment of Scurriers with plague pots

Regiment of Hackpaws

Regiment of Tunnel Runners with Brew of Sharpness

Regiments of Vermintide (2)

Mutant Rat Fiends (2)

Mounted War Chief with Blade of Slashing

Twitch Keenear

Mother Cryza


Game 1 against Forces of the Abyss

Scenario: Loot

The Forces of the Abyss brought a lot of Molochs (three hordes), two chroneas, two succubi regiments, their larvae and a couple of warlocks. The demons represent a pretty terrifying prospect for my rats as most their units are capable of one shotting pretty much everything in my army. It dawned on me though that my army was quite a bit faster. So I decided my best option was to try and get around one of his flanks with Scud and the hackpaws and break up his formidable fighting line.

It started pretty well. Scud, the hackpaws and the war chief made their way down the right flank, distracting one of the chroneas and shutting down one of the warlocks. Soon the flank was starting to fall apart. Things were going well for the rats until a double one materialised. The unfortunate dice role kept a regiment of succubi on the table and allowed a horde of mollochs to get stuck into the units keeping the demons busy on the left flank. Although I was expecting that flank to collapse at some point it was happening too quickly. The demons were quickly able to chew up my centre and escape with two of the tokens leaving my scurriers holding one, meaning the demons took the win.

Game 2 against Nightstalkers

Scenario: Salt the Earth

I was very excited about this match up as the Nightstalkers in question are one of my favourite armies, beautifully painted and amazingly themed. The army was a nice mix of units, a void lurker, a shadow hulk, a couple of planar apparitions, phantoms, butchers, blood worms, scarecrows and Essenyshra.

This time I threw the hackpaws and war chief way out on the left flank with Scud, a fiend and the tunnel runners on the right and everything else in the middle. On the right the hackpaws did their best to avoid lightening bolts and phantoms. The war chief broke away and charged the void lurker, managing to tie it up for about three turns. On the right flank the tables were turned, ratkin lightening bolts removed a phantom troop and Twitch repeatedly hexed one of the planar apparitions. Then the rat war machine swung into action pulling apart reapers, smashing scarecrows and grabbing objectives. Although the nightstalkers managed to take out Scud after a double one kept him in combat with the butchers and allowed the shadow hulk to get flank on the demonspawn.

In the centre the void lurker finished off a fiend but the fight back floundered as a planar apparition and phantoms took far too long to see off the warrior horde.

At the start of turn six rats held three tokens, nightstalkers held two. With few options remaining it looked as though the rats would take the day, but the nightstalkers still had a shenanigan up their sleeves. Essenyshra made her way into the centre of the table and enthralled the tunnel runners, drawing them away from their objective leaving the game a draw.

Game 3 against Nightstalkers

Scenario: Invade

In the first round there had been a nightstalker vs nightstalker game that had ended in a draw. In my previous game I had played one of those armies, now I got to play the second, so I knew this was not going to be an easy ride. Although there were some differences between the lists core elements of planar apparitions, two void lurkers (rather than one and a shadow hulk), phantom troops, scarecrows, blood worms and Esenyshra were all in attendance.

I spread my forces evenly along the left flank and put my hackpaws and the war chief on the far right again. Once again, the riders played a patient game, keeping out of the charge range of phantoms, shadow hounds and a void lurker. A round of shooting from the scurriers took down a phantom troop, but the stand off continued until I made a mistake and gave the void lurker an opportunity to charge my tunnel runners that wouldn’t allow me the opportunity to fight back with anything else. I wasn’t too worried, even when Essenyshra joined in, as the runners were fully rallied to 16/18 and were inspired. Silly me! A high nerve roll wavered the chariots. Fortunately, the war chief was able to get in and stop the creature from flying, although this meant its only option was to finish what it had started with the wheels in the next turn. After that though the mutant rat fiend and war chief extracted their revenge. All this allowed the hackpaws to move around the flank and provide support in removing one of the scarecrow hordes, before moving into the nightstalker’s half to score my only points.

On the left flank things did not go well! I had problems dealing with the second void lurker which cost me Scud, then the blood worm legion (with Brew of Strength) went to town on munching everything that went near it consuming a mutant rat fiend, a horde of shock troop, Mother Cryza and a regiment of vermintide. With the legion and a surviving horde of scarecrows firmly in my half the game was a loss however a near comical showing by my dice in the final turn really didn’t help.

My war chief and scurriers had spent the last three turns of the game trying to kill a troop of shadow hounds, and continued to fail to do so in the final round. The hackpaws needed to roll a 4 for the nerve test to kill Essenyshra, they rolled a 3 and the surviving mutant rat fiend flank charged the last void lurker, pummelled it into oblivion and then… you guessed it… rolled a double one!

Thoughts on my list

The results of my last two events haven’t been great, but the games have been really fun, and most have been close. With both my 1995 and 2300 lists I feel a couple of relatively minor changes will improve how they play.

I thought the hackpaws did a marvellous job on the flanks, and the war chief did a great job of distracting troublesome monsters and characters, just what I had bought him for. These units were definitely my MVPs.

I’ve always seen Twitch and the Tangle as being either/or choices within a list. Originally I favoured Twitch because I like faster armies, which means my experience of the Tangle is that it gets left behind. The more games I’ve played with Twitch the more of a fan I have become, I find that when I take the Tangle now, I regularly find myself disappointed I don’t have Hex and getting frustrated that 2 dice Banechants often become a thing in the closing turns of the game. Hex definitely played a big role in the second game, effectively shutting down one planar apparition, and I can’t help but think it would have also impacted the third game if Twitch hadn’t failed to cast for three turns!

In terms of those tiny changes I was talking about… as much as I love my mutant rats fiends I’m not sure this army is the right build to run two. Fiends are durable, but you have to carefully manage what you allow to charge them due to their defence 4, I don’t think this list has the spare units to do that. The other issue I had was around their speed, I generally found I needed one of them to be faster. Consequently I’m going to swap one out and bring in a death engine impaler, which I’ve had a great experience with in my 1995 list.

And finally

I know I’ve moaned more about dice than I usually would, but there were some comically badly timed results. I don’t want that to distract from the fact that I had three brilliant opponents and three fun and challenging game. I want to give a massive thanks to everyone I played. It was especially great to play Pete and Matt for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed all my games and will hopefully get to play you all in the future. I also wanted to thank everyone who attended, the venue – Bristol Independent Gaming, and Mantic for some fab prize support.

I hope everyone who attended enjoyed their day as much as I did.

Now I need to work out what I’m taking to the Bullrun.

Published by Eddie Bar

Fantasy storyteller, reader and wargamer.

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