It is turn 6 of our Border Princes Campaign and the first battle to be fought is Forkbanger‘s High Elves clash against my Beastmen in the Warrens. There is a special scenario, Rock Labyrinth, for controlling the Warrens which we decided to use. In summary, the board is full of bits of impassable terrain (which are meant to be giant rock spires), two units can choose to skirmish instead of their normal formation, and 1 skirmishing unit can ambush. This is a far better and more useful form of ambush than the usual Beastmen Ambush, so of course I wanted to give that a try. On turn 2 a marker is placed to show where you want the ambushers to be hiding. On turn 3 it scatters, and then the unit must be placed within 4″ of the marker. They can then act as normal, including charging. We made up our lists in secret as usual, but of course we each knew which army we’d be facing so there was an interesting change from the ‘take all comers’ approach we normally go for.
My braying rabble was as follows:
Brannick the Forlorn – Great Bray Shaman, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Jagged Dagger, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Huron – Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield (BSB)
Ankar Hearteater – Bray Shaman, Dispel Scroll, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
24 Bestigors, full command (B)
3 Minotaurs (M)
24 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G)
30 Ungors, full command (U)
8 Ungor raiders, musician (UR)
2 Tuskgor Chariots (TC1 and TC2)
I wanted to give the Minotaurs a go as ambushers since it suits them perfectly. They aren’t getting ranks anyway so it doesn’t matter much if they’re skirmishing, and an ambush lets them get stuck in without getting pincushioned with arrows on the way. Following suggestions from Zebrazach, I stopped messing about with shields on the Gors and went straight for the additional hand weapons. Forkbanger took this elite disciplined army:
Archmage, Level 4, Folariath’s Robe, Silver Wand, Guardian Phoenix, Lore of Beasts (AM)
Noble, Armour of Caledor, Ruby Ring of Ruin, great weapon (N)
2 x 5 Dragon Princes, full command (DP1 and DP2)
10 White Lions of Chrace, full command (WL)
10 Archers, full command (A)
28 Seaguard, full command, shields, Banner of Swiftness (SG)
The terrain was pretty much specified by the scenario, so it was quite nice not to constantly have to worry whether a forest was going to run off on its own or eat half a unit inside it. The Great Bray Shaman took Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe and Okkam’s Mindrazor, while the Bray Shaman swapped his spell for Wyssan’s Wildform. As a side note, are there any better spells than Miasma and Wildform? They have such an effect on the game. The Archmage ended up with Wyssan’s Wildform, Flock of Doom, Curse of Anraheir, Amber Spear andTransformation of Kadon, although since he could take 5 spells it was pretty much guaranteed he could get whatever he liked best. After deployment, this was how the table looked.
The High Elves finished setting up first and duly won the roll off so they set off across the valley first.The Noble fires his Ruby Ring of Ruin, which toasts one Bestigor, while the Archmage’s Amber Spear on them is dispelled. An attempt to put Wildform on a unit of Dragon Princes fails, so the magic phase comes to a premature end. The Archers send a rain of arrows into the Raiders but the range and the penalty for shooting skirmishers means only one of them falls.
With a great deal of whooping and braying, the Beastmen march across the table, eager to get stuck into the squishy Elves. The Gors head toward the East in an attempt to marginalise the SeaGuard, who are stuck way out on their own in the West. The Great Bray Shaman sees Miasma on the White Lions dispelled, and then rolls poorly to cast Enfeebling Foe on them. So between two magic phases so far, we have a total of one dead Bestigor. Finally, the Raiders shoot their short bows at the Archers with no effect at all.
Eager to get the charge, a unit of Dragon Princes crash into the Chariot which is exposed, and others in the East move to set up combats for later. The Noble’s Ruby Ring of Ruin fails to cast Fireball on the Bestigors, but the Archmage remembers that he is a High Elf, and therefore a master of magic. Curse of Anraheir and Amber Spear both go into the Bestigors, the latter skewering a couple of them. An optimistic one-die casting of Flock of Doom fails to work. The Archers and Seaguard kill another 4 Raiders with their longbows, but these Ungors are evidently made of stern stuff and refuse to panic. With their lances lowered, the Dragon Princes put a couple of wounds on the Chariot, and it flees. The block of Ungors panics (even with the general and BSB in range), turns tail and heads for the safety of the board edge. The Dragon Princes’ pursuit would be stymied by terrain, so they reform to accept the inevitable charge from the Gors in the front rather than the flank.
And, inevitably, the Gors do indeed charge the Dragon Princes (I much prefer to charge units with lances, I’ve had entirely too many experiences being hammered by them on the charge). The Bestigors throw themselves into the White Lions who had so handily stood in range, presumably to set up a flanking counter charge by Dragon Princes in the next turn. The Chariot rallies, but the Ungors decide to get an early bath and keep running with their tails between their legs. The surviving Raiders move back to try to stay out of short range of the Seaguard longbows (although it also puts them out of range for their short bows). A mooing sound is heard in the middle of the battlefield as the Minotaur ambush point is decided. We finally get a high roll for the winds of magic, so the Great Bray Shaman puts Miasma on the White Lions, which handily lowers their initiative to the point where they no longer get re-rolls from Always Strike First. The Bray Shaman casts Wildform on the Gors with Irresistible Force, and the resulting Miscast causes him to lose his only spell. Still, I suppose it’s better than blowing up. An optimistic casting of Mindrazor on the Gors fails, but it was better than just leaving the remaining power dice. Even without Mindrazor, the Gors kill 3 of the Dragon Princes, who flee through the Bestigors (except the standard bearer, who throws himself into the Gors for no good reason). This leaves the surviving Dragon Prince inconveniently blocking the charge of the other Dragon Princes into the Bestigors. In the White Lion versus Bestigor fight, the High Elves say ‘What is all this ‘Always Strike Last with great weapons’ nonsense?’ and chop down a couple of Beastmen. In return the Bestigors chew through almost the entire unit, capturing (and Despoiling) their banner and sending the Noble and White Lion champion homeward to think again. The Great Bray Shaman captures the soul of one of them with the Jagged Dagger for good measure. The Bestigors reform to face East, openly laughing at the cruel fate that one fleeing Dragon Prince is stopping the other unit from charging them.
In a move I certainly did not see coming, the Archmage charges the Bestigors. The intact Dragon Princes shuffle uncomfortably, and the fleeing units keep fleeing (they would need 1,1 to get back in the fight now). Forkbanger reveals his cunning plan as the Archmage tries to turn into a big monster with Transformation of Kadon. Sadly (for him) it doesn’t work as he rolls too low, although since the Bray Shaman is carrying a Dispel Scroll it would have to have been Irresistible Force to be any use. Another hail of arrows kills all but one of the Raiders, who has finally had enough and so both he and the accompanying Bray Shaman turn tail and head for the pub. In the combat phase, the Archmage sits dejected but expecting to be kept safe by his Ethereal status. His day is spoiled when the Great Bray Shaman flexes his Steel Claws and tears the poor Elf limb from limb (and steals his soul with the Jagged Dagger for good measure).
A herd of mooing enraged Minotaurs pop out of ambush and crash straight into the flank of the Seaguard (ambushing without getting shot to bits first? I like it already) and the Bestigors and a Tuskgor Chariot charge the Dragon Princes. With the Archmage dead, the Great Bray Shaman looks forward to enjoying magical supremacy, but his very first spell (Miasma on the Dragon Princes) is Irresistibly dispelled. Perhaps the High Elves are masters of magic after all. Enfeebling Foe does lower their strength though, so it’s not all going the High Elves’ way. After surviving a handful of spear pokes from the Seaguard the Minotaurs eat a couple of them, but the Elves are Steadfast so they don’t care, although they fail their leadership test to reform to face their assailants. The Chariot manages to run over all 5 Dragon Princes with impact hits alone, so the crew, the Bestigors and the Great Bray Shaman are forced to just stand around looking at each other for the rest of the phase. This did raise an interesting question about whether the Bestigors could Despoil the banner, since they didn’t really affect the combat at all. Does anyone have any thoughts? We just diced for it and they got to keep the banner (by this point the movement tray was getting crowded with stolen souls and despoiled standards).
The fleeing White Lions and Dragon Prince finally make it off the table this turn, and that’s it for High Elf movement. There’s no magic either since the Noble with his magic ring has fled the field and bits of the Archmage are adorning the Great Bray Shaman’s fur. The Archers manage to shoot a few Gors, and then it is onto the combat phase, where I’m expecting good things of frenzied Minotaurs in the flank of the Seaguard. I am tragically disappointed, as the Seaguard put a couple of wounds on a Minotaur, the Minotaurs make a total mess of their attacks and lose combat on a musician tiebreaker. They duly fail their break check, flee and are caught by the Seaguard. Curses!
The wounded Chariot charges the flank of the Seaguard, mainly to keep them pinned in place while the Gors and Bestigors get manoeuvered into position (and to hopefully kill a few of them, of course). The winds of magic are pitiful (1,1), so the Great Shaman uses one of the Jagged Dagger power dice to put Miasma on the Seaguard. I was mainly hoping that their initiative would be lowered enough to stop those annoying re-rolls from Always Strikes First plus high initiative, but it didn’t do enough. They trade a few hits, and the Seaguard reform to face the Chariot.
High Elf turn 5 is a fairly dull turn, so there is probably no need for a picture of this one. The Archers shoot another couple of Gors, and the Seaguard turn the Charioteers into swiss cheese, and then reform to face the Gor charge they know is coming. In Beastmen turn 5, the Gors do indeed charge the Seaguard, and are narrowly inside 5″ to avoid getting a face full of stand-and-shoot arrow fire. Both Miasma and Enfeebling Foe are cast on the Seaguard, lowering their weapon skill, initiative and strength by 3 (and movement and bow skill too, but they didn’t matter). Not surprisingly, the Gors rip the Seaguard apart, and catch the survivors when they turn to flee.
Again, the High Elf turn isn’t really worthy of a diagram. The Archers shoot the Bestigors, but don’t kill enough to force a panic check. In the Beastmen turn, the Bestigors charge the Archers and lose another couple of their number to a stand-and shoot reaction. I was too chicken to cast any spells in the magic phase, because it would be just too annoying to miscast and lose a load of my little guys at this stage. Also, I’m fairly confident that the Great Bray Shaman plus a bunch of Bestigors would comfortably outclass some archers in combat. Of course, that is indeed what happens, and the Archers are all hacked down by giant axe wielding maniacs.
Overall, a very good game. Forkbanger was plagued with his dice rolls, fluctuating between rolling all 6s and all 1s instead of a nice mix that might have given him a better chance. He took a big gamble with the Archmage which didn’t pay off (as mentioned, I had a Dispel Scroll so it wasn’t going to work anyway unless he got Irresistible Force) and by that time I had the White Lions and Dragon Princes on the ropes so I felt comfortable. The Seaguard proved a much harder force than I’d expected, taking out first the Minotaurs and then a Tuskgor Chariot in short order, but the Gors proved more than they could handle. The additional hand weapons make a surprising difference, especially when your target has been hexed to oblivion. As for the Minotaurs, I must admit I was expecting a better showing than killing a handful of Seaguard though in their defence I forgot about impact hits and stomp, which might have have improved their effectiveness. They’ll be back though; I like the models too much. The Ungors will also get another run out, though they didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory this time. On the other hand, it’s not like I needed them as it turned out. It seems that, just like in films and books, the baddies are cowards who run away at the drop of a hat.
So the Warrens are firmly in the hands of the Beastmen, and the High Elf banner is scattered and will reform in their HQ at the start of next turn. The two games between Furycat and Justinmatters can be found here and here, so that is it for turn 6.