After arriving late (curse having to work on a gaming evening) and watching the tail end of Aramoro‘s annihilation of Forkbanger‘s High Elves, I managed to get in another game against Furycat‘s flat-pack empire. They are called ‘flat-pack’ because up until now they were entirely composed of cardboard units with little square base sizes marked out on them, so the total storage space taken up is about 100 mm wide by 80 mm long by about 5 mm deep (or however deep half a dozen bits of cereal packet would be). Not that I’m in much of a position to look down on him for that…
Anyway, after our last battle of Warhammer ended in a thoroughly one-sided shoeing for the humans, Furycat was looking to even the odds up. He took this list, which narrowly lost to Forkbanger’s Daemons of Chaos last week in the watchtower scenario (on which note, trying to get 20 Bloodletters with a Herald of Khorne out of the tower looks tricky):
Arch Lector, War Altar, Warrior Bane, Van Horstmann’s Speculum (AL)
Captain of the Empire, BSB, knightly stuff, Sword of Might, Seed of Rebirth, Ironcurse Icon (BSB)
Warrior Priest, knightly stuff, Sword of Battle, Luckstone (WP)
2 units of Swordsmen, full command (S1 and S2) each with detachments of 10 Halberdiers (H1 and H2) and 5 Handgunners (HG1 and HG2)
8 Knightly Orders, full command, great weapons, Steel Standard (K)
2 Mortars (M1 and M2)
Helblaster Volley Gun (HVG)
I decided to try a list with a decent sized unit of Minotaurs in it, so I thought I’d put a Gorebull BSB with them to see how that panned out.
Great Bray Shaman, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Gorebull, BSB, Berserker Sword, Talisman of Endurance (BSB)
17 Bestigors, full command, Standard of Discipline (B)
5 Minotaurs, full command, Ironcurse Icon (M)
20 Gors, full command, shields (G1)
12 Gors, musician, standard bearer, additional hand weapon (G2)
Tuskgor Chariot (TC)
5 Ungor Raiders (UR)
Now that I look back, I’m not sure why I didn’t give the Gorebull any armour, but it didn’t matter in the end. He’s got the Berserker Sword to ensure that he never loses frenzy, and because of the Slaughterer’s Call rule, ensure that his Minotaurs never do either, thereby keeping any Bloodgreed attacks they get to. The champion on Gors 2 had to go to save points.
The Great Bray Shaman took Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe and Pit of Shades for his spells. We rolled up a Pitched Battle, and with Aramoro’s help, we set up the terrain. After deployment, it looked like this (note that Gors 2 were back to their usual ambushing tricks):
The hill in the South West was an Anvil of Vaul, the other one was just normal (but has impassable cliffs on the North and West sides due to the way Justinmatters built it). The tower in the South West was a Chapel, the altar in the centre was a Tower of Blood, the statue in the North was a Sorcerous Portal, and the ruins in the South East were Arcane Ruins. Everything else we had to wait and see (though we were very close to just deciding that the river going to the Tower of Blood would be a River of Blood).
The Empire make the first move, shuffling units forward here and there. Handgunners 2 make sure to stay close to the Sorcerous Portal in case it casts anything nasty on the Helblaster. In the magic phase, they are duly blasted by a fireball, killing 3 of them in one go. First blood to the terrain! The War Alter uses its special power to put Net of Amyntok on the Bestigors, the Arch Lector himself casts Hammer of Sigmar and the Warrior Priest puts Unbending Righteousness on his unit (which I forget to dispel for the entire game; not that it made much difference). I make a mess of dispelling all of them. The main action for the turn comes as the Mortars rain deadly accurate blasts onto the Gors, killing 11 of them already. That’s got to hurt.
Yet again, the ambushing Gors come on exactly where I want them (i.e. right behind those Mortars that have just been sending bits of goat meat across the battle field). Due to the cliffs on the hill, they have to come on at a bit of an inconvenient angle. Everyone else moves up, eager to get into combat where it’s safe(ish) from artillery. In the magic phase, I get the best possible result. A successful Miasma on the Arch Lector, followed by a successful (and non-scattering) Pit of Shades. We spend a while flicking through the rule books to find out how to treat the War Altar in this case, and eventually decide it should take a separate test. It passes, but the Arch Lector fails and is sucked to his doom. Furycat realises that the Arch Lector is the only crew for the War Altar, so he takes it away anyway.
The Empire, now leaderless move into action. The Knights charge the Tuskgor Chariot, which flees, so they successfully redirect into the Minotaurs. The river turns out to be a Raging Torrent, so one of them is swept away to his untimely death. Swordsmen 1 and their Halberdier detachment wheel to face the ambushers in the hopes of dealing with them next turn. No spells are successfully cast, so it’s back to the shooting phase (mmm, my favourite). The Mortars land a couple of shells on the Bestigors, killing 6 of them – where is Slugtongue when you need him? The main action this turn is the combat between the Minotaurs and the Knights. The Minotaurs mainly make a spectacular mess of everything, despite having about a million attacks and hatred from the Tower of Blood. They do manage to pull down the BSB and a couple of Knights, but not the Warrior Priest. In return they take a lot of wounds, lose and break (even with the reroll from their BSB and the general being right next to them). They do get away, but the Gorebull and the normal standard bearer annoyingly hurl themselves under the hooves of the Knights, so I actually lose more wounds worth of Minotaurs from fleeing than I did in the combat.
The surviving Minotaurs do at least pull themselves together and rally, but the Chariot just keeps driving right off the table to the pub. The ambushing Gors predictably charge into the Mortar, and the others make a long charge into the Swordsmen in the East, taking a flank charge from the Halberdier detachment for their trouble. The Bestigors reform to face West, so that they will hopefully be able to get hold of the Knights once they’ve finished chopping the Minotaurs into minced beef. I only roll 1,1 for magic, but improbably Miasma is successfully cast on the Swordsmen fighting the Gors. It doesn’t greatly help them, and they run over by the Swordsmen. The only saving grace is that the river turns out to be a Boiling Flood and cooks a bunch of Halberdiers. The ambushers predictably smash through the puny humans defending their Mortar, and over run into the other one.
The Knights charge the Minotaurs again, Swordsmen 1 charge the flank of the ambushing Gors, Halberdiers 2 charge the flank of the raiders, and Swordsmen 2 charge into the rear of the Bestigors, although they do get the unpleasant surprise of having the Great Bray Shaman Make Way to them. Magic does nothing interesting, and there is no shooting because all the Beastmen are in close combat. The Great Bray Shaman goes all ninja and kills 4 Swordsmen on his own, and the rest of the Bestigors put another few down for not much damage in return. The Swordsmen hold on though; I reform the Bestigors to face them so they can get more supporting attacks next turn. The Halberdiers predictably beat the raiders for no loss; one survivor actually gets away, but he’s not coming back. The ambushing Gors make a total mess of their attacks on the Mortar crew and only kill 2 of them (apparently Mortars work just as well with 1 crew as 3) then lose by a lot to the Swordsmen, flee and are wiped out. Finally, the Knights kill all but one Minotaur, who flees, taking his single remaining wound with him.
Well, my turns are going to be much shorter now, since most of my dudes are either fleeing or dead. The last surviving Minotaur and Ungor both fail to rally, so that’s it for movement. In the magic phase, the Great Bray Shaman puts Miasma on the Swordsmen he’s in combat with (mainly to make it easier to hit them; pesky WS4 humans) and Enfeebling Foe on the Knights in case they feel like joining the party. Not surprisingly, the Bestigors chop the remaining Swordsmen into little bits; they reform back to face the Knights.
The Knights take the sensible route to victory, by legging it away from the Bestigors and letting the artillery do its job. Halberdiers 2 moves to garrison the Tower of Blood (‘Ewww… do we have to?’). Between the Helblaster and the Hnadgunners, the Bestigors are wiped out apart from the champion. Obligingly, the Mortar finishes off what the Gors couldn’t by misfiring to lose the final crewman.
The Ungor manages to drown in the river (it is my lack of skill with Battle Chronicler that makes it look like he has to divert into it) and the Minotaur runs away to join the charioteers in the pub. The Great Bray Shaman and Bestigor charge the Halberdiers in the Tower of Blood, put a few hexes on them and then smite them mightily, occupying the building in the hope that -2 to hit might save their pelts.
In the remaining turns, the Bestigor Champion is riddled with shells from the Helblaster which duly blows up. The Great Bray Shaman tries to do another Miasma and Pit of Shades combination on the Knights. He survives the explosion from the miscast on Miasma, but the loss of power dice makes it too easy to dispel Pit of Shades, so nothing actually happens. In the last turn, 5 Handgunners manage to take all 3 wounds from the Great Bray Shaman (seriously… 6s to hit, 5s to wound and a 4+ ward save, and he took 3 wounds), completing the tabling of the Beastmen. Victory for the Empire!
Wow. Well, the good thing about losing is that it means that you have to think about what went wrong, instead of just patting yourself on the back as you might for winning. To be honest, it was only a bit of luck dropping the Arch Lector into the Pit that stopped this being an even more one-sided thrashing. I think the main problem was with the deployment. I thought that the Minotaurs would be able to stand up to anything, so I had them facing off against the Knights, with the Gors over on the East. I think I would have been better served having them the other way round. That would have allowed the Gors to blunt the Knights by being steadfast for a bit, which might have bought me some time to get the tin-opening Bestigors into them. The Minotaurs might have been more useful in the East so that they could spend their time chewing through State Troops to get a load of Bloodgreed attacks stacked up.