In turn 11 of our Border Princes campaign, Justinmatters‘ Orcs & Goblins have made an aggressive move to attack the home territory of the Beastmen. Unfortunately for them, there are several armies of Beastmen heading to what they previously thought was the main area of fighting, i.e. the Old Silk Road.
Loris, Kin of Beasts – Great Bray Shaman, level 4, Steel Claws, Jagged Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Beasts (GBS)
Mund – Gorebull, BSB, Armour of Fortune, Gnarled Hide (BSB)
Rannin the Wild – Gorebull, heavy armour, shield, Berserker Sword, Talisman of Endurance (G)
Ammunin of the Clouded Moon – Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, additional hand weapon, Lore of Shadow (BS)
30 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
20 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G2)
30 Ungors, full command (U)
2 Tuskgor Chariots (TC1 and TC2)
6 Minotaurs, full command, Ironcurse Icon on the Bloodkine (M)
23 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
Justinmatters busted out this rather hard-core looking mob of brutality backed with artillery.
Grimgor Ironhide (GI)
Black Orc Big Boss, BSB, Martog’s Best Basha (BSB)
Orc Shaman, level 2 (OS)
49 Big ‘Uns, additional hand weapons, full command (BU)
2 units of 23 Black Orcs (BO1 and BO2)
6 Spear Chukkas (SC1 to SC6)
2 Rock Lobbers (RL1 and RL2)
Oh dear… Anyway, the mission we roll up is the Watchtower, and I congratulate myself on my cleverness for bringing a 20-strong core unit to go in it. Justinmatters duly wins the roll off to start as defender (not that it helps since he only has a single core unit, and it has the best part of 50 guys in it), and so the Gors go into ambush. Oh well. In addition to the actual Watchtower, we get a forest, two sets of Khemrian Quicksand and a normal building. It must be a bit deserty this far East in the Border Princes. The Orc Shaman takes Gaze of Mork and Bash ‘Em Lads as usual, the Great Bray Shaman has Wyssan’s Wildform, Curse of Anraheir, Pann’s Pelt and Transformation of Kadon and finally the Bray Shaman has Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma and Enfeebling Foe. Justinmatters’ deployment is super quick since he only has 5 drops so we’re swiftly onto turn one.
The ambushing Gors arrive in the West and move up to threaten the artillery battery over there. Everyone else moves up, with the big Gor unit looking to get into the Watchtower. I’m pretty confident that I can restrain the Minotaurs from being forced to charge frenziedly forward, so I’m looking to dissuade any assaults on the Watchtower by keeping them around to counter charge. In the magic phase we get 5,4 dice, and my first shot is a three dice Irresistable Curse of Anraheir on Grimgor’s Black Orcs. Improbably, the magic feedback is warded by the Great Bray Shaman and fails to wound the Bray Shaman, so I suffer no problems apart from the loss of a few power dice. I was sweating a bit on losing the Great Bray so early on, but I got rather lucky. Miasma on the other Black Orcs is easily dispelled.
Grimgor Ironhide’s Black Orcs fail their animosity and a few of them are beaten senseless by the big guy. Realising that they are the only ones who brought any ranged attacks, the Orcs & Goblins are in no hurry to advance, so there’s not much more than shuffling around in their lines. We roll 4,3 dice for the winds of magic, so the Orc Shaman gets in on the Irresistable Force business with a Gaze of Mork on the Minotaurs (two wounds caused) and gets away with only Frenzy and Stupidity for his troubles. So much for scary miscasts. In the West, the three Spear Chukkas let fly at the Minotaurs, dropping them to just 5 left. Justinmatters was a real gentleman at this point since I forgot about the Ironcurse Icon until we were done rolling; he allowed me to put one of the casualties back (but only 5 were left even including this generosity). One of the Rock Lobbers misfires and won’t fire next turn and the other scatters off the Bestigors onto the Gors, killing a couple. Finally the Spear Chukkas in the East turn four Ungors into kebabs.
I realise that the Minotaurs aren’t going to be in fighting shape for much longer if they take another shooting phase like the last one, so I throw them into Grimgor Ironhide’s unit to try to bring them down to a more manageable size. Over in the West the ambushing Gors begin what is destined to be a long run of spiking warmachines by charging into the first Spear Chukka. Everyone else moves round the Watchtower except for the Gors who move into it and hunker down for what they hope is a long haul. We have 5,4 dice to use in the magic phase. The Bray Shaman starts things off by surviving a calamitous detonation while casting Miasma (-2 to all four stats) on Grimgor’s Black Orcs with Irresistable Force. A casting of Wildform on the Minotaurs is dispelled but Curse of Anraheir is put on their victims. The Gors predictably sweep the Goblin crew from the Spear Chukka and pursue into the next one in line, hardly pausing to trample the little artillerymen’s corpses into the ground. Due to some rules-abuse by me the front line of the Minotaurs, consisting as it does of three unique and individual snow-flakes, takes a few wounds but doesn’t actually lose any models. In return they sweep a host of Black Orcs, and are a single kill away from stopping them being steadfast. Sadly (for me) it is not to be, and the break check is easily passed.
The unengaged Black Orcs jump into the flank of the Minotaurs, and over on the far side of the scrum in the centre, the Big ‘Uns fail a fairly optimistic charge into the Ungors. The magic phase sees the Shaman put Bash ‘Em Lads on his unit with Irresistable Force; the miscast has no effect (it was a handful of hits on the caster that were easily shrugged off). The artillery fire kills a couple of Ungors and Gors, but nothing of any significance. The combat goes very much the way of the Black Orcs, especially with Bash ‘Em Lads in effect. The Minotaurs kill a few of their foes but they are killed down to the Bloodkine, BSB and standard bearer. They fail to roll the insane courage they would have needed to stick around, so the Bloodkine flees all on his own (the BSB and standard bearer hurl themselves suicidally into the fray, apparently for no effect) and fails a dangerous terrain check going through the Big ‘Uns which cost him his last wound. Well, so much for the Minotaurs. The Gors, meanwhile, crash through the second Spear Chukka and straight into the third.
Well, now it’s time to try to keep the Orcs away from the Watchtower. The Ungors and the chariots move around to try to redirect the Orc blocks, while the Bestigors hope for a good opportunity to flank the Big ‘Uns once they’ve finished smiting the Ungors. The 6,4 magic dice allows the Great Bray Shaman to put the Curse on the Shaman’s Black Orcs (since they’re surely going for the Watchtower next turn), but Wildform on the Gors is dispelled. The Bray Shaman puts Enfeebling Foe on the Big ‘Uns, mainly in the hope the Justinmatters would either not have enough dice to dispel it next turn, or simply forget to do so. Finally, the Gors spike the last Spear Chukka from the Western side of the field.
The Big ‘Uns kick the turn off by usefully getting ‘Plan’s a Good ‘Un’ which allows them to shuffle in such a way that they’ll clip both the Bestigors and the chariot if (when) they run down the Ungors; who they charge into immediately. The Shaman’s Black Orcs charge the Watchtower, but Justinmatters plans fall slightly when he remembers that Grimgor Ironhide isn’t allowed to leave his bodyguard of Immortulz. He originally had the cunning plan of getting his general into the other (larger) unit of Black Orcs and smashing my tower defenders with him. Instead, Grimgor’s unit reforms to face the chariot. Enfeebling Foe is dispelled by the Orc Shaman who then Irresistably casts Bash ‘Em Lads on his own unit (again). The miscast finally catches up with him, and his head disintegrates, so that’s all for Orc magic for this game. In true Orc style, Justinmatters forgets about shooting for this turn, but he is too much of a gentleman to go back to it after the event, so I get away with a round of not having my guys squashed with rocks or impaled on huge spears. Predictably the Ungors don’t last long against a horde of enraged Big ‘Uns, and the Orcs’ pursuit does indeed contact both the Bestigors and the chariot. Dang. Over at the Watchtower, the Bash ‘Em Lads-fuelled Black Orcs kill a good number of Gors, but the Gors do me proud by getting both frenzy and hatred on their primal fury and fell a lot of Black Orcs in return. The Gors still lose, but they pass their break check and repulse the assault.
The ambushing Gors charge into the Rock Lobber, losing a couple of their number to what turns out to be a venom thicket, and the chariot in the West moves to direct Grimgor’s unit further away from the main action. I roll 6,1 dice for magic, and although Enfeebling Foe on the Big ‘Uns is dispelled, both Wildform (on the Gors) and the Curse (on the Big ‘Uns) do work now that I have magical supremacy. The Big ‘Uns make an unbelievable mess of their attacks (literally doing only a single wound to the chariot, nothing on the Bestigors) and are scythed down in droves in return. They can’t muster the 1,1 they would need to hold and are duly mown down by the triumphant Tuskgor Chariot. The Gors kill off their fourth warmachine and reform to face the centre of the board.
Grimgor Ironhide and his depleted followers charge into the chariot sitting in their face; the other Black Orcs charge the Watchtower. The Spear Chukkas combine to smash the chariot and another scattered shot from the Rock Lobber kills a couple of Bestigors. Grimgor Ironhide chops the other chariot into matchwood before anyone else even realises they’re in combat and overruns close to the ambushing Gors. In the main event, the Black Orcs kill plenty more of the Gors but they are losing their own at an awkward rate too. The Gors again pass their leadership test to remain in the Watchtower.
The Beastmen turn 5 is the quickest on record. I move the Gors out of the Watchtower and replace them with the Bestigors. Justinmatters realises that his depleted Black Orcs aren’t going to have what it takes to dislodge them from the Watchtower and offers to concede the game. I agree (after all, I’ve worked to set things up that way) and I’m happy to accept, especially since it is way past my bed-time by this point. Victory for the Beastmen!
The main lesson from the Beastmen perspective is that even 800 or so points or so of Minotaurs aren’t a match for more than 1300 points of Black Orcs and characters. When I selected the list I had good plans for them running over a couple of support units to rack up their bloodgreed attacks, but circumstances quickly put a stop to that. Firstly, there weren’t any support units anyway. Secondly, after the initial round of shooting left them down close to half strength I didn’t fancy keeping them out in the open to get skewered by another round of bolt throwers. Finally, the Watchtower mission is all about the objective – there’s no point trying to conserve units, provided that you have the strength to get a unit in there to win the game.
Minotaurs aside, I was happy with the way the game went. I was able to keep the big hitters away from the Watchtower for long enough to allow me to get some good defence into position. In fairness to Justinmatters, the Big ‘Uns deserted him in his hour of need (though in my opinion the Bestigors would have had them anyway considering the hexes they were suffering from) and he was playing down by 200 points right from the start.