I’m not a big fan of the first couple of weeks of the new year. Stuff always goes wrong (like sickness or unexpected influxes of work) and any resolutions get very rapidly discarded. This year, was of course, no exception. So, I felt quite excited to get to the end of the first fortnight, pack up my rats and head off down the M4 with the Lazy Pirate in tow.
I decided to take my rats again after a good run out before Christmas. I took an evolution of that list. In a weird twist of fate at the previous event there had been a chariot special character. I generally avoid single chariots because their base can be a massive pain, however the character performed so well I decided to give the Ratkin equivalent, the Death Engine Impaler, a try. Controversially I ditched the Tangle in favour of Twitch and the Brew of Sharpness on one of my Shock Troop regiments, some chaff was also ditched to get the Impaler in.
My 1995 list
Warrior horde with Plague Pots
3 Shock Troop regiments with Plague Pots, one with Brew of Sharpness
Hackpaw regiment with Jesse’s Boots
Death Engine Impaler
Mutant Rat Fiend
War Chief with Aura of Vicious and Blade of Slashing
Scudku-z’luk, Demonspawn of Diew
I had mixed feelings about this list in a competitive setting. I love everything in it which makes it a great casual list, but at 12 drops it feels a little light and I would love to have an extra Vermintide regiment on board.
Game 1 – Abyssal Dwarfs, Push
My opponents list consisted of a decent mix of shooting and fast punchy stuff. A couple of mortars, a horde of Decimators with Blessings of the Gods, a Helfane and a couple of regiments Abyssal Halfbreeds were amongst the list. It was a solid list, and I have form for making a complete mess of this scenario, so expectations were not high.
I was worried that the mortar shooting would dominate the game, however, not only were the mortar crew easing into the morning they were also targeting my fiend. The damage was few and far between, and the beast’s regeneration easily dealt with what got through.
The dwarf lines were solid, but a wavered regiment of gargoyles gave me an opportunity to get my fast stuff into his right flank early on, allowing Scud to jump over the lines in turn three to remove the mortars. My central core of shook troops forced their way to the other side of the table, although a double 1 on the decimator horde put my token carrying regiment in danger. Fortunately, the presence of the nearby Fiend kept them on the table.
On my right my chaff performed admirably, holding off the Helfane and some Immortal Guard just long enough for Scud to flank the Helfane, smash it of the table and steal its loot counter in the final turn of the game. This gave the rats their first win and induced a momentary glow of confidence…
Game 2 – Varangur, Salt the Earth
My next game saw me face off against Chris Lynch’s barbarian nastiness. His list brought a couple of Chimera Lords, a Frost Giant, Theign on Frostfang, 2 regiments of Huscarls, Magnilda, 2 regiments of snow foxes and 4 regiments of Draugr. My last couple of games against Chris have seen me get progressively worse results, I’m not going to dwell on this, suffice to say my goal for this game was to make it to round 4 and still have stuff on the table.
I played my usual tactic of castling up in one corner and hoping for the best. As his army had no healing I decided to use my lightening bolt to start chipping away at his titans. His titans and huscarls were serious threats to just about everything in my army so I needed to start wearing them down. The first couple of turns were spent trying to prevent Chimera’s going where they wanted, and I felt this was half achieved, only one manged a flank on a shock troop regiment.
About turn three the chip damage started to kick in, a combination lightening bolt and Cryza’s cloak of death saw the Hackpaws waver the Frost Giant and Cryza waver one of the Chimeras. Helpfully the sharpness Shock Troops managed to remove Magnilda. I’m not going to say the tide turned at this point, but there was a sufficient let up for my battered troops to stage something approaching a fight back.
Chris’s Draugr had managed to claim a couple of objectives early in the game whilst his hammers had “distracted” me, however the chip damage, combined with the annoying resilience of Cryza meant I managed to take a number of his hammers off the table. No turn 7 and a very poor roll by his Giant for random attacks meant Scud managed to hold an objective as well as a regiment of shock troops. It was a loss for the rats but a far better performance against Chris than my Basileans have ever put in.
Game 3 – Abyssal Dwarfs, Control
More angry dwarfs! I really liked this list as well. A couple of hordes of Golems were supported by a Decimator horde with Blessing of the Gods, Black Soul regiments, Berserker troops, an Abyssal Halfbreed Regiment, a Wingy Kingy and some Gargoyles.
Against this list I really wanted to avoid the golems for as long as possible, kill off the squishier dwarfs and hopefully get Scud into their flanks later in the game. One of the biggest challenges with rats is choosing the correct moment to deploy plague pots. Early on I moved up one of my shock troop regiments and forgot to drop my pots to give them stealthy. This would have likely stopped them getting shot off the table by a combination of the Decimators and the Golems (both hordes had the shooting upgrade).
I admonished myself and refocused. By turn 4, pot problem aside, my plan looked like it was working. To my right warriors, vermintide and shock troops were holding up the Golems and Halfbreeds. On my left Scud, the Impaler and Cryza had removed the smaller units and cleared a path to the Decimator horde. They charged, knocking hell out of it, and needed to roll a single 5 to remove it, before turning their attentions to the rest of the battlefield. They rolled a 4. In turn 5 Scud turned about to finish of the Wingy Kingy that was gnawing at his ankles then reformed to face into the centre of the field putting his flank to the Decimator horde. Cryza withdrew from the fray to zap at some Gargolyes and secure a table section. The Impaler went into the Decimators again only to double one them!
Although the Decimators were devasted they had a flank charge on Scud, which they took, and managed to waver him effectively taking him out of the game for the entirety of the second half. Fortunately, the Impaler did manage to finish them off in the final turn. All this meant the plan fell flat on its face. Fortunately, I managed to secure 2 of the table sections to my opponents 4, and to kill more of his army than he did of mine. Despite the frustration caused by the Decimators it was a very enjoyable game.
Thoughts on the list
Having had some time to reflect I couldn’t be happier with the list and its performance, 16th out of 24 works for me. I have had to get into the headspace that everything, including Shock Troops are chaff, but getting there makes the list kind of make sense. Scud is undoubtedly the engine that makes the list work with his rallying and lightening bolt being as important as his combat presence. The Impaler massively impressed, and its long threat range meant it worked well with Scud and the hackpaws.
Cryza is an absolute menace because of her Cloak of Death and I still can’t quite get over how durable the Shock Troop regiments actually are. Although there isn’t loads of rallying, I think the amount of inspiring helps to keep units on the table, even if they’re wavered, which doesn’t seem to be a sufficiently big enough deal for me to miss the Tangle.
All that being said there are a couple of thoughts I’ve had which I want to play around with before the next time I take them out, which will be for the Birmingham Bullrun in March.
As always, a massive thanks to the organisers for putting on a great event and my opponents who were all fab. It was a great way to start the year and I’m looking forward to the next event.