After the battle against the Elves in section 40, the other engagement in turn 9 of the Border Princes campaign is a mighty showdown between those old foes: the Bretonnians and the Beastmen. The previous turn, the same two armies butted heads until a draw was called due to the failing light. In that battle the Beastmen had the larger force, but this time the numerical advantage goes to the Bretonnians, who can call upon the assistance of their allies in the Empire. I decided that the Ghorgon warranted another run out after an admittedly mediocre showing against the High Elves, so that was a good chunk of points done straight away. The characters were mostly the same as their previous run out, although I did shuffle the equipment slightly to try out a couple of new items. Finally, I keep thinking that I should take a 20 strong Gor herd in case we roll up the Watchtower scenario; but we never do, and I always forget to put them in my list anyway. This time, bloated by the extra points afforded me by two supporting banners, I finally scraped together the points for a suitable unit.
Black Angus – Great Bray Shaman, Level 4, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Hagtree Fetish, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Herod of the Short Mile – Wargor, BSB, Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield (BSB)
Mumak the Wanderer – Bray Shaman, Staff of Darkoth, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
30 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
20 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G2)
8 Ungor raiders, musician (UR)
24 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
2 x 5 Harpies, scouts (H1 and H2)
The flower of Bretonnian nobility arrayed itself for battle, assisted by a some scruffy looking Tilean mercenary Crossbowmen from the Empire (under command of Furycat) and some significantly more scruffy looking peasants (some of whom were playing with a Trebuchet though).
Prophetess, Level 4, Warhorse, Silver Mirror, Lore of Heavens (P)
Damsel, Level 2, Prayer Icon of Quenelles, Lore of Beasts (D)
Paladin, BSB, Dragonhelm, Virtue of Empathy (BSB)
Paladin, Virtue of Confidence, Gauntlets of the Duel, Barded Warhorse (Pa)
11 Knights of the Realm, full command (KotR)
34 Men at Arms, full command (MaA)
2 x 16 Peasant Bowmen (PB1 and PB2)
9 Grail Knights, musician, standard bearer (GK)
3 Pegasus Knights (PK)
Field Trebuchet (T)
2 x 10 Crossbowmen (CB1 and CB2)
The scenario was rolled up, and Aramoro rejected the first roll of Dawn Attack since we feel like it comes up more than it should. The re-roll lands us with Watchtower – lucky for me I took those 20 Gors after all. That’s the first bit of terrain on the table, it’s followed by another (normal) building in the South East with a wood to the North and a Temple of Skulls (i.e. a spooky hill) in the far North taking up a wide chunk of table edge. Over in the West of the table we have a normal hill, a mysterious river and finally a Sphinx watching over us all.
The Great Bray Shaman selects Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Withering, Penumbral Pendulum and Okkam’s Mindrazor, while the Bray Shaman, being only level 1 knows for sure that he’s getting Wyssan’s Wildform. Over on the human side of the table, the Prophetess takes Iceshard Blizzard, Harmonic Convergence, Chain Lightning and something else that I seem to have forgotten to write in my notes. The Damsel takes Wyssan’s Wildform (good choice madam) and Amber Spear. I win the roll and put the unit of 20 Gors in the Watchtower. The Bretonnians bend their knee to the Lady (the Imperial Crossbowmen just pick their noses for a bit), so after all the scouting and vanguard moves, the table looks like this and we’re off with a Beastmen turn.
The Harpies make the most of their long movement to try and land in hard-to-reach spots and everyone else just stomps toward the human lines. All except the Gors in the Watchtower, of course, who are
politely making tea doing nasty things to the contents of the building. The Great Bray Shaman decreases the BS of the central Bowmen with Miasma, while the Bray Shaman puts Wildform on the Bestigors (to discourage any silliness from the Knights of the Realm). I use the combination of the Staff of Darkoth and the Hagtree Fetish on the Knights of the Realm since for some reason I was convinced that it ignored armour saves. It doesn’t. Fortunately, Aramoro got me to check it before we rolled any dice; the end result was the loss of a single Knight.
The Knights of the Realm execute a swift reform and move behind the building containing the Crossbowmen (I’m not really sure why though). Otherwise, units with ‘Knight’ in their name move forward, and everyone else sits still and readies the missile weapons they all unfortunately carry. The Prophetess casts Iceshard Blizzard on the Western Harpies, killing one, and the Damsel skewers a couple of Bestigors with an Irresistable Amber Spear (the miscast also kills one of the Men at Arms). A mighty whooshing noise heralds the shooting phase, as the Trebuchet shot scatters behind the Bestigors… dang, I hate that thing. Meanwhile, a whole load of Harpies are shot. The unit in the West has only a single survivor, who doesn’t panic, but the other flock panic at the loss of two of their number. The Crossbowmen in the East shoot another Bestigor for good measure.
The Bestigors declare a charge on the Crossbowmen, lose two to a stand-and-shoot reaction then fail to make contact (needed a 7, only got a 6). The Ghorgon puts on a better show, crashing into the Men at Arms. Finally, the sole surviving Harpy charges the Crossbowmen in the West. The other flock rallies, looking around to see a large number of bows pointed in their direction. Miasma from the Great Bray Shaman reduces the Western Bowmen’s BS by 2, but Wildform on the big Gor unit is Irresistably dispelled , as is a use of the Staff of Darkoth on the Bowmen in the centre. In the combat phase, I start with the Ghorgon, hoping for good things from the big chap. He takes a wound from repeated poking with halberds but does at least squash the Bretonnian BSB, who has deigned to walk with the peasantry for this battle. He gets 4 Thunderstomps, and the dice come up 1,1,1,1. So, the giant killing machine loses combat (and his frenzy, and any chance of racking up Bloodgreed attacks) to a rabble of peasants. At least he doesn’t run away, so I should be glad for something. Over on the other side of the table, the Harpy misses her attacks and is beaten to death by the Crossbowmen.
The Grail Knights charge mightily into the big Gor herd, but the Pegasus Knights fail a rear charge on the same unit. The wind of magic give the Bretonnians 6,6 dice to play with… this is going to be bad. Iceshard Blizzard is cast on the Gors, and Harmonic Convergence is put on the Grail Knights for good measure. Chain Lightning kills one of the Raiders, but fails to jump. I fail all my attempts to dispel anything too. The shooting phase is just as bad for the Beastmen; the Trebuchet finds its range into the Bestigors, the surviving Harpies are shot down and a lot of other models are removed from the table despite needing 7s, 8s and 9s to hit in many cases due to cover or magical hexes. Luckily, no-one panics. The Grail Knights, loaded up with augmentation spells, annihilate the Gors (who are equally loaded with hex spells) and run down the few survivors. I couldn’t believe the carnage over there. The Raiders panic at the sight of this (not surprisingly) and head for the safety of the table edge taking the Bray Shaman with them. The Ghorgon does finally squash a load of Men at Arms and they flee; the Ghorgon restrains (since he isn’t frenzied any more) to aim at the Knights of the Realm who inexplicably didn’t move this turn.
The Bestigors have another go at charging the Crossbowmen in the building, losing another to stand-and-shoot but making it this time. The Ghorgon charges the Knights of the Realm from a distance of about 1″. The Raiders fail to rally and the Gors in the Watchtower continue to do nothing except pick arrows out of each other from the barrage of last turn. We get another impressive magic roll with 6,5 dice available. The central Bowmen are again hexed with Miasma for -3BS, and I decide to try out Penumbral Pendulum for (I think) the first time ever. It goes off with Irresistable Force, nuking a couple of Bestigors and ending the magic phase after smashing only a single Knight of the Realm. I can’t help but be disappointed. The Ghorgon makes a complete mess of fighting the Paladin, who has made way through his Knights to pick a fight with the monster causing only a single wound and losing combat. We even rolled for Thunderstomp which, now that I think about it, probably shouldn’t even work on cavalry. Anyway, he holds and the Knights combat reform to get more contact. The Bestigors and Great Bray Shaman kill all but one of the Crossbowmen for no loss, but annoyingly he holds thanks to the benefits of defending a building, pushing them back. No wonder they’ve got primal fury.
The Men at Arms rally, and everyone else starts to converge on the Watchtower (after all, there’s not much else on the table to worry about). Iceshard Blizzard is cast on the Ghorgon and Wildform improves the Knights’ chances in combat by fair bit (not that they need it based on his performance so far); the Beastmen fail to dispel either. Shooting is pretty ineffective though (since most units moved) and the Trebuchet obligingly misfires and is destroyed. The Knights of the Realm finally put the Ghorgon out of its misery, which is probably a blessing for me as well as the Bretonnians.
There are only three Beastmen units left on the table now, so it’s short turn 4. The Bestigors charge the sole surviving Crossbowman in the building – it’s not that I thought it was that useful to get in there, but they were so close to the building that it would be quicker to charge, occupy the building and move out next turn rather than reform and move off. The Raiders do manage to rally. The Great Bray Shaman, sensing an assault on the Watchtower soon by Grail Knights, tries to put Mindrazor on the Gors, but the Prophetess whips out her Silver Mirror and the power is gone in a flash. An optimistic attempt to thin out the Grail Knights with the Staff of Darkoth is easily dispelled. To improve my mood a little, the Bestigors do kill off the last Crossbowman in the building and take it for themselves.
It’s looking like a last stand for the Gors in the Watchtower as the Grail Knights charge in for the kill (although the Aramoro’s constant irritation, they do have to check their lances and horses at the door). In the magic phase, Harmonic Convergence on the Grail Knights is dispelled, and then the unthinkable happens… The Prophetess goes to put Iceshard Blizzard on the Gors, and it is Irresistable. The resulting explosion reduces the heroic Knights to just two brave heroes! In the ensuing combat, the (understandably disturbed) Knights fail to even wound a Gor and are both pulled down and knifed through slits in their plate armour. The Prophetess, who declined to fight (I’m not sure if this is allowed or not) is repulsed, probably in both senses of the word. Still, it’s all looking to favour the Bretonnians with the beleaguered Beastmen hemmed into the Watchtower and no likely way off thinning out their assailants.
I am given the ‘privilege’ of rolling to see if the game ends and it comes up a… 6! A very improbable victory for the Beastmen.
Woah. From the campaign perspective, of course it’s good to win, but a win like that feels pretty dirty. Aramoro had me on the ropes for the whole game, then got hit by the double bad luck of the miscast vapourising his Grail Knights and the game ending before he could put it right. To make it even worse, I’d been moaning about my (perceived) poor dice for most of the game up to that point. Aramoro, by contrast, treats those two impostors both the same. He is a true gent of the game, so I’m sad to beat him in such a manner.
I did do quite a few things poorly though, which contributed to my should-have-been defeat. When the Ghorgon beat the Men at Arms, I probably would have been better served trying to run them down since they were still a threat when they rallied. The Bestigors should have been heading for the centre of the Bretonnian lines – killing the Crossbowmen didn’t really gain me anything and took the Great Bray Shaman away from the Watchtower which was the focus of the scenario.
I can’t see the Ghorgon making another appearance in my list too soon after these two outings. It’s so expensive and I haven’t managed to get decent results out of the big dude. 275 points gets me a lot of Gors…