It is turn 10 of the Border Princes campaign, and the Beastmen are drawn on to the field to fight the first of their 3 battles. On the other side of the table are Furycat‘s Empire army, supported by not one, not two, but three banners of Bretonnian knights. I’ve had pretty good success fighting uphill battles lately, taking on Aramoro‘s Bretonnians down by one banner and Forkbanger‘s High Elves down by two banners, and winning both games. I think that my improbable luck is due to end now, and in any case I’d need a lot of it to stand a chance against an army with nearly a third more strength than my own. I waffled for a while about what to take, but in the end I used a fairly conservative army. Against anyone other than the Empire I probably would have tried out a Cygor to see what they’re like, but since any big guys would be cannoned into fine red mist, there wasn’t much point here.
Kettrin the Frozen – Great Bray Shaman, Level 4, Steel Claws, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Greygave– Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour, Shield (BSB)
Ezekial – Bray Shaman, Chalice of Dark Rain, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
23 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
23 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G2)
23 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
2 x 5 Harpies, scouts (H1 and H2)
2 single Razorgors (R1 and R2)
Furycat took this list, testing out the idea of a hero on a Pegasus as a mobile reserve but otherwise sticking with a rather straightforward mix which has served him well in the past. As usual, he declines the use of wizards, preferring to rely on the Warrior Priests to see him through any magical shenanigans on my part.
General of the Empire, Armour of Meteoric Iron, Dawnstone, Other Trickster’s Shard, Great Weapon (GE)
Captain of the Empire, BSB, Talisman of Preservation, full plate armour (BSB)
Captain of the Empire, Pegasus, lance, full plate armour, shield, Aldred’s Casket of Sorcery (CE)
Warrior Priest, Hammer of Judgement, heavy armour, shield (WP)
30 Halberdiers, full command (H)
31 Swordsmen, full command, Banner of Eternal Flame (S)
2 x 10 Crossbowmen (C1 and C2)
22 Greatswords, full command (G)
Great cannon (GC)
2 Mortars (M1 and M2)
9 Knights of the Realm, full command (KotR)
10 Knights Errant, full command, Errantry Banner (KE)
As usual, we rolled up terrain from the list in the book, getting a scree slope in the South West and a normal hill in the South East, a couple of forests, a couple of mist-wreathed swamps (watch out for Fimir!), some ghost fences in the middle and blessed bulwarks in the North West. The scenario is the Meeting Engagement so we check to see if anyone is delayed. On the Beastmen side, one Razorgor is late as is a unit of Harpies (whatever happened to scouts?). Over on the human side of the table, an impressive display of dice rolling has both units of Knights, the General, the BSB, one unit of Crossbowmen, a mortar and the Halberdiers sleep in too long. The Great Bray Shaman takes my favourite set of spells, Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, The Withering, Enfeebling Foe and Pit of Shades while the Bray Shaman has Wyssan’s Wildform and Amber Spear. The Beastmen set up first and go first.
Predictably, the Beastmen head for the human lines as fast as their hooved legs will carry them. The Harpies hug the board edge to keep out of the charge arc of the Pegasus rider, but there is no subtlety in the rest of the movement – straight forward at top speed. The Gors in the West find that the forest is a venom thicket, but improbably none of them succumb to poison (they must be some kind of woodland creatures). In the magic phase, a cheeky attempt to drop some Greatswords into the Pit of Shades fails when I roll 1,1,1,4. Amber Spear on the Pegasus is easily dispelled.
The human reinforcements come on, with the characters taking their places in the ranks of the Greatswords, and the only other movement is the Pegasus moving to defend the cannon. The winds of magic blow strong (6,4) but with only a single Warrior Priest to use it, most of the dice are wasted. Armour of Contempt is successfully put on the General of the Empire though. A hail of crossbow bolts and artillery fire kills 8 Bestigors and 4 Gors, but no-one panics.
The Harpies charge into the Crossbowmen defending their blessed bulwark forgetting (just like me) what it actually does. This will come back to haunt them soon. The Eastern Gors wheel into the face of the Halberdiers to try and get out of the Knights’ charge arc, but it isn’t far enough. In the West, a couple of Gors die to the poison forest but otherwise they continue their hurried pace toward the Swordsmen. Finally, I remember to bring on the reinforcements. Another attempt at the Amber Spear on the Pegasus is dispelled, but Miasma reduces the Greatswords stats by 3. The Great Bray Shaman also manages to get off Pit of Shades on the Greatswords, but a bit of a scatter followed by some good rolling from Furycat means that only 5 of them die. The Harpies manage to kill none of the Crossbowmen, lose 3 of their own and flee… right into the most annoying position possible, between the Bestigors and the Greatswords. For those keeping count at home, that is Crossbowmen 2, Harpies 0.
The Halberdiers charge the inch or so required to get stuck into the Gors and the Knights of the Realm have no trouble getting a flank charge too. Another high winds of magic roll gives another 6,4 dice for the Warrior Priest to use, putting Unbending Righteousness on the Greatswords. The Razorgor in the woods is killed by a
guided missile cannon shot while another 7 of the Gors in the West are pummeled by mortar and crossbow fire though again they do me proud and don’t panic. The Gors lose to the combination of Halberdiers and Knights, although they make a good show of it and it is rather close… Even with the BSB re-roll they still break and narrowly escape the Halberdiers (except for the Wargor who feels obliged to hurl himself into the fray); the Knights restrain themselves and reform.
The surviving Gors in the West charge into the Swordsmen, who hold, but the Razorgor, despite only needing 7 with swiftstride to get stuck into the Pegasus, manages to fail and plods along a pathetic 4″ toward the hero. The Harpies and Gors both rally, and the Bestigors shake their fists angrily at the Harpies for getting in the way. The Bray Shaman puts Wyssan’s Wildform on the Gors fighting the Swordsmen. The Warrior Priest dispels Miasma on the Greatswords but is unable to stop Pit of Shades. Luckily for him, it gets the maximum possible scatter, clipping the Crossbowmen and sucking one of them to their doom. In the only combat of the turn, the Gors pummel many Swordsmen for no loss, but they hold despite being out of General and BSB range.
The Halberdiers charge the Gors again, the Greatswords charge the Harpies, who flee though the Bestigors. The charge range is sufficient to contact the Bestigors anyway. The Pegasus rider charges the Gors in the rear, barely aware of a giant pig huffing and puffing off in the distance. While he’s there, the Captain steals Amber Spear from the Bray Shaman using Aldred’s Casket of Sorcery. In the magic phase, Soulfire fails to wound any of the Bestigors, and Unbending Righteousness is dispelled on the Greatswords. The Empire artillery finally finds out that ‘misfire’ is printed on the dice, with one mortar exploding and the cannonball sticking in the ground close to the Razorgor. The other mortar kills off one of the Harpies. The Crossbowmen break out their sandwiches since everyone in range is already in combat. The Pegasus rider challenges and is answered by the Foe-render, but only briefly before the Beastman is skewered on his lance. The remaining Gors fail their Primal Fury check, kill a few more Swordsmen for no further loss but they still lose combat and are run down. Similarly in the East the Gors fail their Primal Fury, kill a handful of Halberdiers and are run over from static combat resolution. Finally, in the main combat, the General of the Empire challenges and is answered by the Great Bray Shaman. This clash of mighty lords leaves each with only a single wound. The Bestigors continue the theme of this turn by failing to get Primal Fury and, though they trade hits gamely with the Greatswords, they still lose combat and are run down when they break.
A quick look at the table confirms that, yes, I do only have a Razorgor and six Harpies left, so I offer my surrender. Furycat magnanimously accepts and so the game is over with a massacre to the Empire.
Well, that went pretty much as expected, in that the Beastmen were hammered mercilessly. There were a couple of parts where the dice cost me dearly – notably the Harpies not only failing to hurt the crossbowmen but also fleeing in such a way that they prevented the Bestigors from getting a charge on the Greatswords. Still, I think that I’d probably have lost this one no matter how lucky I was.
There are some very basic lessons I could learn here though.
1. I forgot to use the Chalice of Dark Rain, which might have mitigated some shooting casualties in turn 2.
2. My placement of the Harpies in turn 1, though it did help keep them from being charged by the Pegasus hero, was in fact pretty unhelpful to me – I should have either faced them slightly differently so that they had more charge targets available (as it was they only had the choice of the Pegasus, who was protecting the cannon, and the crossbowmen who saw them off fairly smartly) or just flown them behind the lines again in turn 2 to give me more options and keep Furycat reacting to them.
3. I forgot to bring me reserves on in turn 1, which I blame on playing too much Warhammer 40K (in which reserves can’t arrive until turn 2), but was still silly.
4. As Aramoro pointed out, I could have moved the BSB’s Gors to face the Empire table edge in turn 1 since it was certain that the reinforcements would come on there as there was nowhere else for them to come on. That way I could have charged and at least done some damage to one of the reinforcement units.
Next in the line of fire: Justinmatters‘ Orcs and Goblins.