Wolfgang sat comfortably astride the saddle of Magritta, his grey horse, enjoying the rhythm of the marching column. He checked his pistols and powder again, and then again – his father always used to tell him to make sure it was dry when he needed it, and it looked like that time might be now. The rumour was that the cavalry detachment had been sent out to this far-flung province on the orders of the Emperor himself, and the presence of two of the most famous heroes in the Empire did nothing to gainsay that. Not only them, but members of two Knightly orders were present too. The entire battle group was mounted, sent to move as swiftly as possible to stop the unleashing of terrible forces by the mysterious Elves, or worse if you believed the tales told at campfires. Of course, those tales were told only by the other youths, Pistoliers like himself, acting as scouts and outriders for the heroic knights. Those doughty mustachioed men were above telling tales of ghosts in the darkness, at least where they might be heard by lesser mortals.
They had been joined by a well drilled regiment of state troops from the last town, which slowed their progress greatly. Evidently, wherever they were going could not be far away now. Wolfgang’s mind started to wander… where could they all be going? And why? Then a strident blast on a horn brought him back to reality. That note was made by no man’s breath… that was a challenge… the challenge of a territorial beast. This would be about showing the true courage inside every man; this would be about blood and glory.
So for my first game of the new year I got to face off against my ancient adversary, Furycat. He was in the mood for 40K, and I was in the mood for Warhammer, but since he is such a gentleman, he let me have my way. I decided to use the same herd as my last outing against Forkbanger‘s High Elves. This was partly to avoid a case of ‘tailoring for the enemy’ since I knew that I’d be playing against the Empire by that point, but partly because I sometimes like to have a few runs out with the same list to see how units do.
Great Bray Shaman, Level 4, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Jagged Dagger, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield (BSB)
Bray Shaman, Level 2, Dispel Scroll, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
24 Bestigors, full command, Standard of Discipline (B)
5 Harpies, scouts (H)
25 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G)
30 Ungors, full command (U)
8 Ungor raiders, musician (UR)
2 Tuskgor Chariots (TC1 and TC2)
Furycat is currently reading Sword of Justice, so he decided to try out a Knightly army with only a single unmounted unit.
Kurt Helborg (KH)
Ludwig Schwarzhelm (LS)
Warrior Priest, knightly stuff, Hammer of Judgment, Enchanted Shield (WP)
9 Reiksguard Knights (Inner Circle Knights with lances), full command, Steel Standard (RK)
8 Knights of the White Wolf (Knightly Orders with great weapons), full command, War Banner
2 x 5 Pistoliers (P1 and P2)
25 Swordsmen, full command (S)
The Great Bray Shaman takes his spells as Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe, The Withering and Pit of Shades (again) and the Bray Shaman gets Wyssan’s Wildform and The Savage Beast of Horros. Our scenario for today is Blood and Glory, and we both have a fortitude of 6; the breaking point is 2. The terrain is randomly generated, although due to my uncanny ability this time to roll up either Encampments of Destruction or whatever the goodie-two-shoe equivalent is, we end up re-rolling a few of them so as to actually be able to see the table surface. The statue in the West is a Bane Stone, there is an Idol of Gork surrounded by normal walls in the Encampment of Destruction in the middle, and the thing that looks like a Sphinx in the East actually is a Sphinx. The marsh is a mist-wreathed swamp, so we all want to steer well clear of the well-documented fate of those taken by the Fimir. After deployment, including the scouting Harpies and the vanguard moves from the Pistoliers, the table looked rather like this.
The Beastmen take first turn, despite the Empire deployment finishing comfortably first, so the game begins with the Western Tuskgor Chariot declaring a charge into the Pistoliers. Furycat considers fleeing in order to take advantage of their fast cavalry status but then realises that they are placed in such a way that they’d just flee straight off the table. Instead, they stand and shoot, taking 2 wounds off the chariot (and instantly making them the best shots of an otherwise woeful game for missile fire). Everyone else moves up, with the other chariot moving and angling in such a way as to hopefully prevent the White Wolves just hammering directly into the Gors. The Raiders form up to shoot the unengaged Pistoliers and avoid simply getting thundered over by the Reiksguard. Both Shamans make a total mess of the magic phase, failing to cast either spell they tried (Wildform and Miasma), leaving Furycat grinning like a child and clutching a pile of dispel dice with nothing to throw them at. A stray arrow from the Raiders gets lucky and a single Pistolier falls from his saddle wondering how he came to be so unfortunate as to die by archery when facing Beastmen. Meanwhile, the chariot mows down 3 of the other Pistoliers with impact hits, then cuts down the other 2 for the loss of its third wound; it reforms to face East, and where I expect the White Wolves to be in my next turn.
The Swordsmen improbably fail a short charge on the Ungors and stumble forward a couple of inches instead, but the charioteers have no such luck and see a wall of armoured horse-riding maniacs crashing down on them, waving mighty hammers and bearing moustaches a walrus would be proud to own. The surviving Pistoliers move around to keep out of everyone’s charge arcs while still affording themselves nice shots (it doesn’t help; they don’t even manage a single hit on the Besitgors). In the magic phase, the Warrior Priest puts Armour of Contempt on Ludwig Schwarzhelm, but since we both forget about it immediately, I suppose he might as well not have bothered. Finally, the Knights of the White Wolf smash the Chariot into matchwood for the loss of a single wound on the Warrior Priest. Furycat debates over-running to avoid a charge from the Gors and the other Chariot, then decides to take them on by reforming to straighten up (presumably reasoning that since they have great weapons it doesn’t really matter who charges).
It’s pretty much charges all round for the Beastmen. The Harpies fail a long charge into the flank of the Swordsmen but the Ungors make it (and would have had a re-roll from the Idol of Gork if necessary anyway). The Gors and the surviving Chariot get stuck into the White Wolves. The Raiders angle themselves to hopefully redirect the Reiksguard Knights and stop them from charging the Bestigors. The Bray Shaman puts Wildform on the Ungors (who I figure need the help more than the Gors) and it is let through unopposed since Furycat rightly guesses my intentions and saves his dispel dice. Miasma on the Reiksguard Knights is dispelled, and although Pit of Shades does work, it hilariously scatters away from the Knights and over a few of the Harpies. Oh dear. They all pass their initiative checks though so it’s only a wasted opportunity… The Raiders get back into their usual style, pattering a few arrows harmlessly off the armour of the Reiksguard Knights. In the close combat, the Swordsmen take advantage of their initiative 4 to strike before the Ungors, but outrageous rolling has them fail to inflict a single wound. The Ungors, amazed by this display of ineptitude, carve a bloody swathe through them, then break them and catch the survivors, wiping them out to a man. Onto the main combat, Ludwig Schwarzhelm issues a challenge and the Wargor bravely pushes the Foe-Render into his way. It’s a good thing for the BSB too since the hero of the Empire does administer serious beating to the Gor champion. A few of the brave Knights are dragged down and knifed while a bunch of Gors are pulverised by huge hammer swings; when we finally count things up it’s a draw. Both sides settle in for a long slugging match. The Gors have numbers on their side, but Ludwig Schwarzhelm appears to be something of a one-man threshing machine.
Despite my efforts, the Reiksguard Knights do indeed manage to charge the Bestigors. We all spend a while looking at the rulebook (it’s probably not totally clear in the picture since my Battle Chronicler-fu is weak; there wasn’t quite enough room for the Knights to squeeze between the building and the Raiders), but here is the summary: the Knights declare a charge on the Bestigors, but can’t reach them without clipping the Raiders. They automatically declare a multiple charge on the Raiders too. The Raiders then form up around the middle dude. This gives space for the Knights to contact the Bestigors cleanly, so the Raiders just spread out again. Anyway, after that the only unit who can move is the Pistoliers, who circle right back round the swamp to pepper then Raiders with shot. The Warrior Priest toasts a Gor with Soulfire, and the Pistoliers do indeed manage to take a single Raider out with massed gunfire (I think he must have had a heart attack based on the general quality of shooting in this game), then we go to combat. Ludwig Schwarzhelm issues another challenge and this time the Wargor steps up to do what he’s got to do. Sadly, this mainly involves taking a wound and scoring none back, but at least he survives for another round. The rest of the melee keeps swirling, and after all is said and done we have another draw. This time though, the White Wolf musician has been one of the casualties, so the Beastmen win. The Knights bravely hold (admittedly on a re-roll from the BSB who is surely the man of the match so far for the Empire) so they’ll get another go, but the weight of numbers is starting to tell. Over in the other combat, Kurt Helborg issues a challenge. After seeing what a Hero (Ludwig Schwarzhelm) can do, the Great Bray Shaman is not keen to face down a combat specialist Lord so the Gouge Horn accepts and is duly annihilated (+3 overkill too). The Reiksguard Knights weigh in too, skewering another load of Bestigors who somehow fail to inflict a single wound in return, including the Great Bray Shaman who had made way to get in to the fight. Fortunately, the combat was not so disastrous as to remove 2 full ranks, so they are steadfast and hold. The Knights reform to maximise contact (which the Bestigors were also going to do otherwise).
There are no charges this turn since everyone is either in combat already or has no-one in their charge arc. The Ungors and Harpies reform to face some potential victims and the Raiders jink out of the Pistoliers’ charge arc. In the magic phase, I realise it is time for some serious buffing and hexing to save the Bestigors’ bacon. Wildform on the Bestigors is dispelled (Furycat is all too aware of how good that spell is), but there aren’t enough dice to stop the Enfeebling Foe (-3 strength) going on the Reiksguard Knights. With only single die remaining (and none at all for the Empire) the Great Bray Shaman goes for a cheeky single die casting of the lower version of Miasma on the Reiksguard Knights, getting -3 weapon skill. Even with all those hexes on him, Ludwig Schwarzhelm still manages to put 2 wounds on the Great Bray Shaman in a challenge thanks to that magic sword of his, and it’s only the Talisman of Preservation that keeps the Shaman in the fight at all; he does manage a wound back though which is a good start. Needing 5s to hit and 6s to wound the rest of the Reiksguard Knights don’t manage a single wound on the Bestigors which is certainly a turn around from the previous combat phase. A whole lot of great weapon-related chopping goes on and the few surviving Knights flee and are caught by angry Beastmen. Strictly speaking the game ends there (the Empire are down to their breaking point of 2), but we forgot about that and ran the other combat anyway. It could also be noted here that Furycat forgot about both the Laurels of Victory carried by Kurt Helborg (meaning the wounds he caused count double for combat resolution) and that he is stubborn when joined to a unit of Reiksguard Knights. Our impartial witness, Justinmatters, said that his recollection of the dice etc was that the Knights lost and fled anyway so it possibly didn’t make any difference. Anyway, the lesson here is to try and remember all your special rules, otherwise you’re just handicapping yourself. Over with Ludwig Schwarzhelm and his dwindling band of drinking buddies, the man himself finally cuts down the Wargor, but when he looks around he finds that he is alone on that side of the field. Indeed, all that is left of the mighty Empire army is Ludwig Schwarzhelm and a handful of Pistoliers. Victory for the Beastmen!
As usual, a very fun game with Furycat. He took a very different army than usual, and I thought he played it rather well for a first outing. Those two Empire named characters are raging murder-beasts, I’m certainly glad I don’t see them across the table from me each time we play. For the Beastmen, the two stars of the show were steadfast (allowing the Bestigors to soak up the almighty lance-charge of the Reiksguard Knights) and magic (buffing the Ungors so they were able to decimate the Swordsmen and hexing the Reiksguard Knights at the end). I didn’t make any real use of the Harpies, so they were a bit a waste this time – if the game had continued I might have been able to throw them into those pesky Pistoliers though. One possible error was in spell selection: I got a double allowing me to pick Pit of Shades, but I think I’ve possibly just become too keen on that spell after it was the only good thing to happen to me in a previous game against the Empire (dropping an Arch-Lector in one go). After watching the Gors struggle to get through all that armour on the Knights I wonder if I might have been better off going for Okkam’s Mindrazor instead. Live and learn…
Wolfgang urged Margitta to greater urgency. He was covered in sweat and blood, but only the sweat was his own. This morning, he could never have believed that he would share a horse with a man as valiant as Kurt Helborg. This morning, he could never have believed that Kurt Helborg could bleed or fall like other men. But now, this evening, Wolfgang carried the mortally injured hero to somewhere, anywhere safe. Somewhere out of the woods and away from that accursed braying…