I think I’m correct in saying that The Bullrun, now on its third event, is Birmingham’s premiere wargaming event. It’s run by the bloody lovely Steve Hildrew and had a massive 32 players in attendance for a one-day event, which is pretty damn good.
Having had a pretty poor run of things with the rats recently I decided the week before the event, a few days before the list deadline, to completely overhaul my list and take something completely different, for me at least. My rat lists are generally built around monsters or titans. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that whilst these are fun, and the models are cool, I don’t seem to put out enough damage to kill things fast enough. This, coupled with my ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with my finely honed scenario self-sabotage skills does not make for a winning combo. Consequently, I decided to go with something of a more traditionally shaped list.
Warrior horde (1) with plague pots
Shock Troop hordes (2) one with Sir Jesse’s boots, both with plague pots
Vermintide regiments (2)
Tunnel Runner regiment with Brew of Sharpness
Warlocks (2) one with Conjuror’s Staff, one with Banechant
Brute Enforcer with Inspiring Talisman
In addition to 1995 points of rats there was also a choice of special characters. Either a Bull that effectively gave one turn’s worth of shooting damage, or a Cock (as in cockerel) that provided healing. I chose the Bull, which I felt would work nicely with the 20 lightning bolts I was bringing to the table.
It’s worth pointing out that this event used two non-book scenarios which really helped to shake things up a bit and made for a very interesting day.
Game 1 vs Kingdoms of Men, Wrack and Ruin
This scenario placed two dominate circles on the board, one at either end of the table, and an objective in the middle. You could win points in turns 3,4 and 5 by owning the dominate circles and then earn a further point by holding the objective at the end of the game.
The Kingdom’s of Men army consisted of regiments and troops of Fanatics and Foot Guard, a pair of Giants and two Generals on Winged Beasts. It was ideally suited to this scenario because of the mass of units and unit strength it brought to the table. Happily, for me, we set up with the bulk of our armies at opposite ends of the table. This meant it was relatively simple for both of us to score the full three points available for owning our respective Dominate circles.
I deployed heavily on the left side of the table but put a fairly decent sized force on the right side, including one of my Shock Troop hordes. This was so that my opponent would either have to take the time to destroy it all, or have it chase them towards the centre, and no-one wants a horde of Shock Troops in the rear. My hope was that it would distract a decent portion of the men for as long as possible, letting my units claim the centre in turn six.
I will admit to my first massive error of judgement of the day. I forgot that the objective in the centre was an objective and not a dominate circle. Consequently, by the end of turn five things were not in the best place. My gamble on the right flank had paid off and a lone Giant made its way towards the centre.
Around the centre something of a stand-off had developed. Lightning bolts had removed the Fanatics and a General leaving only a couple of units of Foot Guard on one side of the objective. If they went for the centre, they would be easily overwhelmed by the Tunnel Runners, Shock Troops and Scud gathered on my side. Fortunately, the men still had a remaining General. The General flew into the centre, a Giant blocked my Shock Troops, and a troop of Foot Guard blocked my Tunnel Runners. I would be reliant on overruns to win.
Amazingly the Shock Troops one shotted the Giant but failed to make it far enough across the table towards the centre. The Tunnel Runners made mincemeat of the Foot Guard, rolled a six for overrun and made it into the centre. It was a win… then the turn seven roll…
Turn seven started with the Giant that had been on the right flank charging my Shock Troops and obliterating them. The General and the final regiment of Foot Guard then charged my Tunnel Runners. A kill or a waiver now could have lost me the game. Fortunately, the Tunnel Runners lived to fight another day and together with a flank on the Guard from Scud the game went to the rats.
Game 2 vs Ogres, Gold Rush
This was the second non book scenario. For this one, players place seven loot counters around the table and then choose sides. The aim is to gather as many counters as possible.
The Ogre force was a perfect balance of all the things I find challenging about Orges! Three regiments of Chariots, two hordes of Siege Breakers, a horde of Shooters, a couple of Warlocks and a couple of Berserker Bullies. I think Shooters are quite underestimated. Having faced them a couple of times I know that what they lose in terms of ranged stat, 5, they make up for with their long range and piercing two.
I placed the majority of my army on the left and in the centre, with the Warlocks and Scud on the far left. Although there was a large chunk of impassable terrain in the middle of my deployment there was a fair amount of other terrain that would slow the ogres down and take the sting out of their shooting. On the far right I placed my Hackpaws and the Brute Enforcer who found themselves opposite a Bully and a mounted Goblin King with a short bow.
I had quite promising start. My lightning bolts wavered a Chariot regiment that blocked up the regiment behind it, slowing the Ogres’ advance. However, in a serious bit of shooting tit for tat the Shooters and Ogre Warlocks had a great round and severely damaged my Warrior horde. This made me nervous about bringing my Tunnel Runners forward and meant the Ogres were able to back off and avoid melee for an extra turn.
Turn two saw the damaged chariots survive a second battery of lightening, whilst my Warriors succumbed to another round of shooting. This time though I pressed forward with my Tunnel Runners and a Shock Troop Horde so there would be no escape for one of the Siege Breaker hordes.
Turn three saw the damaged Chariots hide behind a hill, giving me a brand-new Chariot regiment to take pot shots at. In the centre the Tunnel Runners, Cryza and the Shock Troops charged a horde of Seige Breakers and took them down. In retaliation Chariots ploughed into the Shock Troops, but they survived, taking the Chariots down the next turn with Cryza’s help.
On the right flank there had been a bit of a stand-off between the Hackpaws, the Goblin and the other Bully. This ended when the Hackpaws charged the Goblin, failed to kill it, and then got flank charged by the Bully. The table was becoming one of two distinct halves. On the right the Ogres had cleared it of rats by turn six and picked up three loot counters. On the right a lone horde of Siege Breakers stood with their front to Scud and their rear to a horde of Shock Troops clutching a loot counter.
Cryza sprinted and grabbed a token from a badly damaged Chariot regiment, the Shock Troops charged the Siege Breakers, smashed them to pieces and took their loot. Finally, Scud flew over to claim another counter. Turn six was a draw.
In turn seven the Ogres had one option, to fire everything they had at Cryza and hope they could force her to drop the equalising loot. I breathed a sigh of relief as they managed just one wound, meaning they needed two nines to take her off the board. First roll was a ten. The second… a nine.
Game 3 vs Rift Forged Orcs, Invade
This was a really nice way to end the day playing a straightforward scenario against an army that had beaten the hell out of me two weeks prior! But that had been my old list though, and it had been that encounter that had been the trigger for building today’s list. It would be interesting to see how the new list would measure up.
The orcs brought The Iron Boots Formation (three regiments of Rift Forged Orcs with extra nerve), two Storm Giants, a Fight Wagon Legion, Thonaar, a Stormbringer and a horde of Thunderseers. Rift Forged Orcs are a surprisingly resilient army, despite not having any healing or rallying. This makes their Storm Giants particularly problematic with their Cloak of Death and then there’s Thonaar, who is arguably the most annoying individual in the game.
Once again, I deployed along the left and centre of the table with the bulk of my troops and then placed the Hackpaws and Brute Enforcer on the far right. The Orcs put their heaviest hitters in the centre. The Fight Wagons, the Thunderseers, Thonaar, a Giant and a regiment of Reborn Legionnaires. On My left were two regiments of Riftforged Legionnaires and a Giant.
I started shooting one of the Legionnaire regiments on my left, keen to get as much unit strength as possible off the table, whilst my centre braced for the inevitable crunch that was coming. On my right the Hackpaws and Brute made their way, unimpeded, into the Orc’s half of the table.
In the second turn I split my shooting between the injured infantry and the Fight Wagons. The Fight Wagon Legion is a proper juggernaut. I have nothing that will stand up to a charge from it, and nothing that will reliably kill it quickly, so my plan was to start chipping wounds off it in the hope that it might make my life a bit easier later in the game.
The Orcs continued to press forward, and then happily for me, Thonaar and the Thunderseers peeled off to my right to deal with the Hackpaws, which would take them out of the main fighting for the rest of the game.
In turn three the Orcs started to hit home. The Stormbringer flew into Scud and one of the Giants removed a regiment of Vermintide. This opened up a small number of counter charges that saw both the Giant and the Stormbringer leave the table. In response the Orcs unleashed the Fight Wagons and removed my Warriors, whilst a combat on my left resulted in the Tunnel Runners being destroyed.
The next couple of rounds saw units fall on both sides until by turn five we both had nine unit strength on the table either in our opponents half, or within easy reach of the centre line. At this point my usual disregard for the general point of the scenario kicked in and I charged Cryza into the Reborn Legionnaire regiment she had no chance of killing on my side of the table. The result was fairly predictable… and in the six turn she left the table turning what could have been a draw into a loss!
Despite the overall results I was really happy with the way the day went. Given that I threw the list together a week or so before the event, and it lost its single practice game I was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed. There were three big concerns I wanted to address with the list which were the lack of durability of my previous lists, the lack of damage output of my previous lists and the generally unreliable nature of predominantly melee 4 and 5 armies.
I’m pleased to say that it felt as though all those things were addressed by the army. I was particularly happy with the lightning bolts. Although I didn’t have any major spikes in the shouting the chip damage and occasion waiver certainly impacted all of the games and helped to smooth out the performance of my unpredictable infantry.
My main concern with the army was that having so many units with large footprints moving around would become difficult, however this issue only came up once in the three games. So, I’m happy this is something I’ll be able to navigate better with some more practice.
Overall, I was really happy with how the army played. As per usual I self-sabotaged on the scenarios, but I’m not worried about that for the simple reason that I think I’ve finally found a build for rats that will work for me. Prior to this event I was thinking about retiring the rats again for a little while, but this event has definitely rekindled some hope that I can get the army running well in tournament play. Coming away from the event there are a couple of changes I want to make to this list that will hopefully give me a bit of extra umph, although I’m not sure when my next 1995 event is. I also think this will make a solid base for my next event in May which will be 2345 points. There is a little extra painting required for that however.
The Bullrun is a hobby tournament, which means that there are points that contribute to the final score that come from painting. Although I didn’t think I was in with the chance of picking up too many points for that it did encourage me to finish off refreshing some of my older units and add some banners to my Shock Troop hordes. All in all, it means that I’ve come away from this event with a much prettier looking army than I had before and a list that feels dependable enough to allow me to start trying to think about not messing up the scenarios.
Finally a massive thanks to my opponents, who were all frankly awesome, all three games were so enjoyable, and of course Steve Hildrew for running another fab event.