It’s turn 8 of the Border Princes campaign, and the only battle is an epic clash in the middle of the map. Aramoro lay down the gauntlet for my Beastmen on the Old Silk Road, and I was happy to oblige (after all, there’s not much point playing a Warhammer campaign if we’re going to avoid fighting any battles). Due to other movement, the Bretonnians are supported by one of their own banners and a contingent of Forkbanger‘s High Elves. For my part there are two supporting Beastmen banners and one of Justinmatters‘ Orc & Goblin banners nearby to lend some small green hands, which leaves me with a small advantage in points. Since I’m a bit of a numpty , I thought that my banner in combat was the same one which fought the High Elves in the Warrens, so I selected a very similar force, then bolstered it with a bunch of entertaining stuff like Razorgors. I added the Beast Banner to my BSB after a strong recommendation from Zebrazach; normally I’m wary about using such an expensive magic item in a small game, but this is the most points I’ve played so far.
Black Angus – Great Bray Shaman, Level 4, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Jagged Dagger, Ironcurse Icon, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Herod of the Short Mile – Wargor, BSB, Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield (BSB)
Mumak the Wanderer – Bray Shaman, Level 2, Chalice of Dark Rain, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
32 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G)
30 Ungors, full command (U)
8 Ungor raiders, musician (UR)
2 Tuskgor Chariots (TC1 and TC2)
24 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
2 x 5 Harpies, scouts (H1 and H2)
2 single Razorgors (R1 and R2)
22 Night Goblins, short bows, full command, 3 fanatics (NG and F1 to F3)
Aramoro already had his list ready for the game so he just added a unit of Knights Errant at 160 points or so to make up his total. Forkbanger weighed in with a unit of Archers to pepper my poor Beastmen with even more hurty arrows.
Prophetess, Level 4, Warhorse, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Life (P)
Damsel, Level 2, Warhorse, Power Scroll, Lore of Life (D)
Paladin, BSB, Warhorse (BSB)
Paladin, Virtue of Confidence, Gauntlets of the Duel, Ogre Blade (Pa)
11 Knights of the Realm, full command (KotR1)
10 Knights of the Realm, full command (KotR2)
15 Peasant Bowmen (PB)
7 Knights Errant, full command (KE)
3 Pegasus Knights (PK)
2 x Field Trebuchet (T1 and T2)
12 High Elf Archers, full command (HEA)
We generated the terrain randomly, and Aramoro got to place first, so once again he placed those pesky walls (Blessed Bulwarks this time) out of the way in the South East corner. There is a normal hill in the North West, an Earthblood Mere in the West and in dead centre we have a Bane Stone. As for the rest… we’ll have to wait and see. The scenario is Blood and Glory – which causes an interesting question in this lopsided game; according to the rules we have different breaking points because of the different army sizes. Anyway, this didn’t occur to us until I started writing the report so it didn’t actually affect anything. Still, I’m curious to know what anyone thinks.
The Great Bray Shaman rolls a Yahtzee of 1s so I pick Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, The Withering, Enfeebling Foe and Okkam’s Mindrazor (I’ve never seen the use of Steed of Shadows for my armies yet). The Bray Shaman takes Transformation of Kadon to go with the usual Wyssan’s Wildform. Over on the Bretonnian camp, the Prophetess picks spell first (presumably to guarantee that the Power Scrolling Damsel will get Dwellers Below), taking Throne of Vines, Skin to Stone, Earthblood and Awakening the Wood. The Damsel takes Dwellers Below (of course) and Shield of Thorns.
The Bretonnians finish setting up first by a long chalk, but they pray anyway so the Beastmen gratefully take first turn for the chance to get out from under the falling Trebuchet-launched rocks a little quicker.
The game itself starts with the Night Goblins obligingly rolling ‘Plan’s a Good ‘un!’ on the animosity table and racing toward the Bretonnians like the good little
meatshields allies they are. Pretty much everyone else does the same; the Razorgor in the West angling so that if the Knights Errant kill it on the charge then at least they run the risk of over-running into the swamp. Magic comes up with 1,1 (and to add insult to injury, the Prophetess channels another dispel die), but the Great Bray Shaman nevertheless manages to put Enfeebling Foe on the Prophetess’s Knights. This was partly to make them think twice about charging, and partly to suck up a few power dice next turn dispelling it.
Predictably, the Knights Errant charge the Razorgor; they didn’t even try to restrain themselves. Both of the Knights of the Realm units shuffle back to give a little more time before it is Fanatic o’clock, with the Damsel bailing out of her unit. In the magic phase, Enfeebling Foe is indeed dispelled, then the Prophetess puts Throne of Vines on herself. An attempt at casting Flesh to Stone on her Knight bodyguard is dispelled. The Bray Shaman uses the Chalice of Dark Rain to stymie the Bretonnian shooting phase, but annoyingly both Trebuchets pass their test and squash 11 of the Bestigors between them. Both archer units fire at the Night Goblins, but this time the rain has more of an effect and only 4 of the little guys keel over. The Knight Errant turn the Razorgor into a giant pork kebab before it even has a chance to fight back, and in the rush to season it heavily with garlic they forget to over-run (in fact, they reform to face the flank of the Ungors).
Both sets of Harpies go screeching into their intended victims, a mob of Peasant Archers and the crew of a Trebuchet respectively. Both chariots and the Razorgor fail charges on Knights of the Realm units despite only needing 7s across the board and having swiftstride. It’s not like I thought they’d win, but the could have been luck and held the Knights in place until I could get in about them with other units. Instead, the Night Goblins move up and fire their Fanatics. One bounces through the Prophetess’s Knights of the Realm and the Trebuchet before going off the board, but poor rolls from Justinmatters means that only a single Knight is taken down. The other 2 just park themselves in front of the Knights of the Realm to make charging anyone a slightly less pleasant proposition. Throne of Vines is dispelled in the magic phase, and the upgraded version of Miasma reduces the Pegasus Knights stats by 1 (mainly to make it a bit less appealing for them to go charging around my rear areas next turn). As usual, the shooting phase is wholly ineffective. Combat goes much more to my taste though, with the Harpies in the West killing a few Peasants and running the rest down, finally contacting the flank of the High Elves. Over in the East, the other Harpies comfortably eat the entire Trebuchet crew and over-run into what turns out to be a River of Light. To sour things a little, it kills one of them with Shem’s Burning Gaze.
The Bretonnians decide that it’s time to even up the story a bit. The Prophetess’s Knights charge a chariot, losing 2 to the Fanatic on the way. The other Knights of the Realm charge the Razorgor, which flees and successfully redirect into the Gors. The Pegasus Knights swoop into the Raiders, who also hold (this surprised me a little; I was expecting that they’d go for the flank of the Gors, which probably shows how much I know about Bretonnian tactics). To my great disappointment the Knights Errant restrain themselves from charging the Ungors. The magic phases yields 3,3 dice, and the Damsel sticks all 6 into Power Scroll-ing Dwellers Below into the Bestigors, though a decent bit of rolling means only 3 are dragged to their doom. The miscast does nothing of note, failing to wound the Damsel thanks to her ward save and sucking away the rest of the power dice (of which there none anyway). The Trebuchet crew are too busy looking over their shoulders at the Harpies eyeing them greedily from river to concentrate on what they’re doing. Thanks to the misfire they won’t be able to fire next turn either, although if I have my way that won’t really matter. The Paladin in the Knights of the Realm issues his inescapable challenge, and the Wargor, noting the size of his weapon, hurriedly pushes the Foe-Render into his path. It’s just as well, since he wounds with all 3 attacks, although I guess strength 6 re-rolling hits and wounds will do that for you. The rest of the Knights kill a few Gors in exchange for 3 of them being dragged off their horses and trampled inelegantly. The Gors hold on steadfast and the Knights reform to 5 wide. The High Elves and Harpies trade slaps (draw), but the rest of the combats go much better for the Bretonnians. The Pegasus Knights kill a couple of Raiders for no loss although they can’t catch the fleeing Ungors thanks to a ridiculously low pursuit roll. The other Knights of the Realm blow through the chariot without even slowing down.
The unengaged Harpies flap their way into the terrified (I imagine) Peasants manning the Trebuchet, but thanks to my hopeless positioning of units, I can’t manage to get any charges anywhere else. The Raiders (and more importantly, the Bray Shaman in them) rally but the Razorgor doesn’t, so that’s good night from him. Otherwise, units reform or wheel to try and sort out the mess in midfield, with the exception of the Goblins who are too busy squabbling to do anything useful. The newly rallied Bray Shaman puts an Irresistable Wildform on the Gors in combat (strength 5, toughness 5 Gors? yes please), but the miscast wounds him and toasts another couple of Raiders as well as ending the magic phase. The High Elves and Harpies kill another few of each other, and the Elves reform to face the sole surviving Harpy; numbers are definitely on their side in this fight. The other Harpies easily dispatch the Trebuchet crew but their pursuit isn’t enough to contact the Elves (in retrospect, I probably should have tried to reform them to threaten that dang Damsel). The super-Gors kill a whole lot of Knights (though the Paladin gives me a scare by very nearly killing off the Wargor BSB) and they let them flee into the river, which puts Net of Amyntok on them. The Gors reform to face the main action in the South.
The Pegasus Knights charge those pesky Raiders again, confident of doing a better job wiping them out this time; this wouldn’t be hard since there are only a couple left. Over in the North East the Paladin rallies the fleeing Knights but thanks to Net of Amyntok they are stuck facing away from the action. The Damsel and Knights Errant both take their chances with the other river, which also turns out to be a River of Light. Whatever happened to the Damsel apparently wasn’t interesting enough to make it into my notes, but one of the Knights is killed by Banishment (apparently he wasn’t quite as worthy as the others). The main block of Knights of the Realm apparently forget that they are in a life-or-death battle with evil sub-human monsters and begin a complex dressage routine. Even Forkbanger, who was on the same side, couldn’t quite believe it. A good roll on the winds of magic gives 6,4 dice to play with, and the Damsel chucks another 6 of them at Dwellers Below on the Ungors. They come up 5,5,5,5,5,6; I start to wonder if a Dispel Scroll (or a Feedback Scroll) might have been better buy than the Chalice of Dark Rain. Needless to say my 6 dice attempt at dispelling it don’t give the double 6 I’d realistically need to stop it, and 13 Ungors are stolen away by imps even more horrible than themselves. However, they do me credit by not panicking. The Prophetess, seeing that the Beastmen are out of dispel dice, gets greedy and tries to cast Throne of Vine on 2 dice, but it fails. The Pegasus Knights predictable wipe out the Raiders, and the High Elves finally finish off the last Harpy, and reform the face the other brood flapping toward them.
The Night Goblins again surge forward with ‘Plan’s a good ‘un!’, and I briefly toy with the idea of having them charge the Knights of the Realm. Fortunately, Justinmatters points out what a stupid idea this is (and besides, they are his unit to control), so they just move to fire arrows at them instead. The Bestigors and chariot declare charges on the Pegasus Knights but they flee, so both units just lurch forward a little. The Harpies do indeed charge the High Elves, and are fortunately well inside stand-and-shoot range. The Great Bray Shaman puts Enfeebling Foe on the Knights Errant (again, mainly to either suck up some power dice next turn), but Withering on the Knights of the Realm draws out the Prophetess’s Dispel Scroll. Over in the North, the High Elves easily wipe out the Harpies before they even get to start fighting. A pox upon that Always Strike First plus re-rolls malarkey.
A hilarious sequence of failed swift reform checks leaves the Knights Errant and Knights of the Realm immobilised down in the South. The Pegasus Knights rally and make use of the fast cavalry rules to fly over out of the firing line of the Beastmen blocks. The Damsel tries her luck with the river again and this time gets the Net of Amyntok for her troubles. It doesn’t stop her from throwing yet another 6 power dice at Dwellers Below, and yet again I can’t manage to dispel it so another handful of Bestigors are dragged away from the battle. With the remaining dice, Enfeebling Foe is dispelled.
It’s getting very late, so we agree that turn 5 will be the last turn. The Ungors bravely / suicidally charge the Knights Errant, but the Bestigors fail to contact the Knights of the Realm despite again only needing a 7. The Night Goblins squabble, missing their final chance to have their arrows bounce off 2+/6++ armour. For those keeping count, there has been only a single turn when they acted under Justinmatters’ full control. The Great Bray Shaman does all he can to aid the Ungors, and Enfeebling Foe (among my favourite spells, if you couldn’t guess) goes on the Knights Errant. It proves to be enough, the Ungors forcing the Knights Errant to flee, then running them down and contacting the flank of the Knights of the Realm. This rather spoils Aramoro’s plans, which surely involved Bestigor kebabs next turn. The only downside is that the river decides to cast Banishment on the Ungors as they wheel through it, sending 5 of them to their unholy graves. Once again, the little guys do me proud and don’t panic.
The Paladin and his two Knights of the Realm charge the Night Goblins in the North; their counterparts in the South sigh and think of what might have been. Another 6 dice are used to put Dwellers Below on the Bestigors, and I can’t dispel this one either. Between that and the High Elf Archers (who finally find their range), only the Gouge Horn and the Great Bray Shaman are left, holding onto their huge number of points. The Paladin vapourises the Night Goblin champion in a challenge; and the rest of the Night Goblins flee, but in yet another failure of swiftstriding pursuit, they get away from the Knights. In the South, the Ungors manage to tie combat with the Knights of the Realm… and with that, the game ends. No-one had reached their breaking point (in fact, we’d collected remarkably few banners considering that was the objective), so we tallied up victory points. The final scores were 564 to the Bretonnians, 487 to the Beastmen. So after all that, we have a draw (in terms of the campaign, both banners must retreat, but the territory remains Bretonnian).
That was a very entertaining and fun game, but I probably played the worst I have in a long while. So many mistakes… where to start? The list was wrong to start with. I had too many small distraction units (two chariots and two Razorgors) and not enough big units to actually take a charge. This allowed the Prophetess’s Knights of the Realm to punch through my line instead of (as I had hoped) getting stuck on a big steadfast block.
My deployment was hopeless. I got lucky in that the Night Goblins didn’t squabble on turn 1 which would have stymied the Bestigors. My thinking was to send in the Night Goblins (or more precisely the Fanatics) first and then get stuck in with the Bestigors. I think I probably would have been better off just putting the Bestigors in harm’s way and letting them take the charge. They’ve got enough hitting power to really mess up Knights so they’d have a good chance of holding. As it was, they didn’t get into combat at all and did nothing but take arrows, rocks and Dwellers Below all game.
I’m still using the Razorgors wrong, but in particular I wasted the one on the West flank. I would have been better to make its first move back in to the main body of my force; as it was its death served nothing. I guess if I’d been lucky and it had drawn the Knights Errant into the swamp I would have been celebrating my tactical genius, so maybe it’s just a risk/reward thing.