This week I managed to get my second game from turn 11 of the Border Princes campaign against Furycat (my third of four in total; now I just need to get organised with Justinmatters). Just like our previous battle, I had a 200 point advantage thanks to
cunning fortunate use of the fortification order. Following a comment from reader far2casual, I tried out a list without much magic; a major contrast from my normal style. Since I had so many points to play with (due to not taking a hatful of wizards), it also seemed a great opportunity to go for a Gor-filled list – about 100 of the blighters. Bleat bleat.
Beastlord, Steel Claws, Armour of Destiny, Ironcurse Icon (BL)
Wargor, BSB, Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, heavy armour, shield, (BSB)
Bray Shaman, level 2, Chalice of Dark Rain, Lore of Beasts (BS)
2 x 39 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1 and G2)
20 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G3)
2 Tuskgor Chariots (TC1 and TC2)
2 x 5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
24 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Eternal Flame (B)
2 x 5 Harpies, scouts (H1 and H2)
Furycat decided to go for maximum big templates and maximum impact hits with this well-drilled force.
Arch Lector of Sigmar, War Altar, Sword of Justice, Armour of Meteoric Iron, Dawnstone (AL)
Captain of the Empire, BSB, full plate armour, Talisman of Preservation (BSB)
Captain of the Empire, Pegasus, Aldred’s Casket of Sorcery, Enchanted Shield, lance, full plate armour (P)
30 Flagellants, Prophet of Doom (F)
50 Halberdiers, full command (H)
24 Greatswords, full command (G)
2 Mortars (M1 and M2)
Helstorm Rocket Battery (HRB)
Steam Tank (ST)
That Steam Tank is going to be a problem without magic to see it off. The mission is Blood and Glory; we agree on a Break Point of 2 for clarity. We roll up a lot of terrain, but apart from the hill (scree slope), we forget about almost all of instantly. In our defence, the game was highly absorbing so we had no problem with it once the game ended and we realised our mistake. The Bray Shaman selects Wyssan’s Wildform (don’t leave home without it) and Curse of Anraheir, which is quickly becoming a favourite of mine. Finally, we deploy all our dudes, and even with more units to drop, I still get to go first. As you can see, the Empire army is fortifying themselves in the East and making clever use of the scree slope to make a mess of incoming Harpies.
The game begins with the ambushing herd of Raiders arriving in the West; apparently they were holding the map upside down since the East would have been vastly more useful. The Razorgor moves to try to tempt the Greatsword into doing something silly (i.e. presenting themselves as a juicy target for the Beastlord’s Gors); he can charge and hopefully eat the BSB next turn if they stay still. Otherwise there is little more than jockeying for position, though the Bray Shaman leaves the Raiders once he realises that they’re on ‘bait the Flagellants’ duty. I’m mainly trying to stay out of Steam Tank range for the time being, in the absence of a better plan. The river turns out to be a boiling flood, so the Gors get out of it and onto the ford before we forget about the effects entirely. Magic give me 5,3 dice to play with, but Curse is dispelled on the Greatswords and I fail to cast Wildform on the Razorgor.
The Pegasus Captain (who I had for some reason completely forgotten about) charges the Razorgor, so there goes my hopes for the Greatswords. The Greatswords themselves manage to lose 3 (from 5) of their number leaving the venom thicket, which also pretty much marks the last time we remember about terrain effects other than the hill. The Steam Tank generates 5 steam points safely and chugs 6″ toward my lines. The Flagellants restrain themselves from charging, but rush forward anyway, and the Arch Lector turns his War Altar so that he has a good view of the Harpies. The winds of magic are 3,1 but the dispel dice are irrelevant as the War Altar vapourises one flight of Harpies with an irresistable Banishment. Clogging the air with nasty stuff, the Bray Shaman uses the Chalice of Dark Rain to shut down both Mortars, but a direct hit from the Helstorm on the BSB’s Gors kills 17 of them. The air around the table with ripe with my whining about it, I assure you. The Steam Tank kills a few others, but it’s small fry after that rocket shot. In combat, the Captain skewers the Razorgor on his lance (with a little help from his mount) before it can even fight back. Bye bye little piggy; he over-runs out of the charge arc of the Gors.
The BSB’s much-reduced Gor herd charges the Flagellants, but due to the positioning of the Raiders, they can only get an edge into combat. One of the chariots thunders into them too, on the other side of the Raiders, and the surviving Harpies charge the Mortar. Although I really wanted to kill the Helstorm with them, I didn’t fancy my chances on the scree slope, so it was the Mortar first. Tired of pussy-footing around, the Beastlord urges his Gor herd right into the face of the Greatswords, and the Raiders move away from the Flagellants and try to ‘heroically’ sacrifice themselves to the Steam Tank to keep it off the Bestigors. From the 3,1 magic dice the Bray Shaman manages to put Wildform on the Beastlord’s Gors, despite the Arch Lector commanding more dispel dice that I had power dice. Combat begins with a disappointing display of handbag slapping between the Harpies and the Mortar crew (no wounds on either side; the humans hold). The Flagellants nearly (but not quite) take out the Tuskgor Chariot, lose a bunch of maniacs, and hold anyway since they’re unbreakable and can never lose frenzy. I decide not to make way with the BSB at this point since the combat isn’t going to be decided in this round and so I might as well wait until the flails are done. The Gors reform to 5 wide to get as far as possible from the Steam Tank, but it’s plain that the Arch Lector has them in his sights anyway.
The Steam Tank powers up with 5 steam points and easily makes it round the screening Raiders into the edge of the Bestigors. Dang. The Arch Lector predictably spurs his War Altar into the Gors directly in front of him. Meanwhile, the Greatswords decide that the best protection from a massive herd of enraged goat-men is a wall, so they move to join the Halberdiers behind it. After rolling 4,1 magic dice, Pha’s Protection is dispelled on the Arch Lector, but Soulfire does kill a couple more Gors. The Helstorm gets another direct hit, this time on the Beastlord’s Gors but kills ‘only’ 10 of them since they’re toughness 5 thanks to Wildform. The Mortar chips in for another 4. The Harpies remember that they’re supposed to be terrifying harridans of legend, not feeble old ladies and tear the Mortar crew apart. Not liking their chances even in the flank of the Halberdiers, they reform to risk the scree slope as they head for the Helstorm. The Bestigors are ground mercilessly by the Steam Tank, but they hold steadfast, and even manage to wound it in return; they try to reform to 5 wide but fail despite the BSB re-roll. Finally, the Arch Lector kills a load of Gors (though the sheer weight of return attacks does manage to wound the War Altar) but the Flagellants are down to less than half strength. They do finish off the chariot though.
My ambushing Gor herd apparently knew where they were going all along and show up just where I needed them; on the East flank. They eye up the tasty fortitude points sitting in the Greatswords and Halberdiers and decide that there’s nowhere they’d rather be (except the pub, of course). Further West, the Harpies charge into the Helstorm, losing 2 on the way (and justifying my fear of dangerous terrain checks), the remaining chariot charges the flagellants, presumably over the shattered remains of its brother, and the Beastlord leads his Gors on a mighty charge into the Greatswords. The winds of magic give me a mighty 1,1 power dice, but again the Bray Shaman’s +2 casting bonus comes up with the goods to beat the Arch Lector’s bonus dispel dice and put Wildform on the Beastlord’s Gors. The Harpies give up on the ‘terrifying harridans of legend’ malarkey, only dispatching a single Helstorm crewman, who holds, and the Bestigors don’t manage to wound the Steam Tank but do at least reform for maximum depth. The Flagellants are wiped down to just the Prophet of Doom in combat with the Tuskgor Chariot, thereby splitting the combats. Over with the Greatswords, the Beastlord makes way to the Empire BSB, who is able to take advantage of a rare occurrence of us remembering that the wall is a Blessed Bulwark to take his swings first. Sadly for him, the Beastlord is rocking toughness 6, so he shrugs off the petty slaps from the Captain then rips him limb from limb with the Steel Claws. The Gors tear their way through a good number of the elite humans for good measure and are mostly saved from return swings by the toughness boost of Wildform. The Greatswords lose combat by about a hundred after that hammering, but they’re stubborn so don’t care at all.
The Pegasus rear charges the Bestigors to try to extricate the Steam Tank a little sooner, though it looks to me like it’s doing fine on its own for now. The Halberdiers charge into the flank of the Beastlord’s Gor herd. We get a rather average 4,3 magic dice. I can’t dispel Birona’s Timewarp on the Halberdiers, nor Soulfire (though it fails it wound the Gors anyway); Armour of Contempt on the Prophet of Doom fails to cast on a single die. The surviving Mortar misfires, to my great relief; though it can fire next turn. Continuing their underwhelming run, the Harpies kill off another Helstorm crewman but the sole survivor holds. The Bestigors continue to die like flies, but hold steadfast anyway. The Wargor BSB challenges the Arch Lector to a duel and the old man accepts (not that he could have avoided it). My thinking is that I’m not likely to lose the BSB since he’s sitting on toughness 5 and a 2+/6++ save, and it avoids the Arch Lector carving his way through the Gors to their banner. If I get lucky I might do a little damage too. But I don’t, there are no wounds on either side. The Tuskgors finish off the Prophet of Doom and aim for the Halberdiers. The Gors do an amazing job, nearly wiping out the Greatswords and weathering the attacks from the Halberdiers like the bleating heroes they are. After we count it up, the Beastmen actually win the combat, but the Greatswords and Halberdiers (stubborn and steadfast, respectively) so they hold.
The chariot charges the flank of the Halberdiers and the ambushing Gors run into the flank of the handful of surviving Greatswords. I roll another 1,1 magic phase, and this time fail to cast what could be a critical Wildform on the Beastlord’s herd. The Harpies top their pathetic performance in this game by losing to the single surviving crewman of the Helstorm and fleeing for their lives. It’s not a great start to the combat phase, but the it improves as the Bestigors still hold on despite their dwindling numbers and the BSB wounds the War Altar twice for no loss. The best is saved for last, as the Greatswords are wiped out to a man and the Beastlord is able to reform his unit to face the Halberdiers, who have been somewhat reduced in number thanks to the chariot’s sterling efforts. The ambushers even over-run far enough to guarantee a flank charge on the Halberdiers next turn. So I suppose that Wildform wasn’t needed after all.
An interesting situation came up here which I am singularly unable to capture in Battle Chronicler. Despite several attempts I can’t manage to replicate the game precisely enough in the program to show it, so a thousand words will have to suffice. Anyway, the Chariot flank charged the Halberdiers but could only contact the (dwindling) back rank due to the presence of another unit; i.e. it was only in contact with a single model. As the attacks came in, the back rank was eventually wiped out, so we ruled that it had isolated itself from combat, allowing it a free reform but not keeping it in the fight for the next turn. If anyone can understand that, and can answer whether we did it right, please let me know. So, not withstanding that the picture is obviously a little wrong, here is the map for Beastmen turn 4.
Everyone who can move is already in combat, so we move straight to the magic phase, in which we have 2,2 dice available. Net of Amyntok is dispelled on the ambushing herd, but Soulfire does manage to kill another Gor. To make up for their earlier pinpoint accuracy, the Mortar scatters a shell into the middle of nowhere and the Helstorm crewman celebrates his survival with a nice firework display, the rocket detonating high in the sky. The Steam Tank finishes crushing the Bestigors into paste, and the Arch Lector / BSB challenge continues fruitlessly while the paltry number of Gors from the unit dance around them like ninjas in a Bruce Lee film instead of doing something useful like toppling the Golden Griffon off that accursed War Altar. The Halberdiers lose another staggering number to the Beastlord and his herd, but they’re still (just) steadfast and hold.
The Tuskgor Chariot and ambushers hit the Halberdiers in the rear and flank respectively, and the ambushing Raiders complete their lengthy trek across the table and charge the Helstorm hoping for more success than the Harpies (who, incidentally, fail to rally). With 3,2 magic dice I put Wildform on the ambushing Gors (there are more of them by some margin than the Beastlord’s much-reduced herd) using 3 dice and a 2 dice Curse on the Halberdiers; the Arch Lector fails to dispel either using the same number of dice. Furycat and I know that it all comes down to this combat between with the Halberdiers. If I can wipe them out or make them flee, the Empire reach their breaking point and it is all over. The Halberdiers are duly thrashed from all sides, and it all comes down to a single roll. If the Halberdiers can muster the 1,1 they need to pass their break test on insane courage, the Empire will probably win since the Steam Tank can get stuck in and start grinding more of my units down. In the other 35/36 cases, the game ends with a Beastmen win. The dice are rolled… and the Halberdiers flee, leaving their standard (and fortitude point) behind. Victory for the Beastmen!
That was a fabulous game. It was close all the way through, with twists and turns constantly. Right up to the final dice roll, either side could have won it. I believe that it was only my 200 point army advantage that let me take the game here.
Still, there is a lot to learn. I had thought to use the Raiders to get in the way of the Flagellants, but they actually stymied me by preventing full contact from the Gors. Looking back, the lesson here should just be to stick to the plan – if I’d just decided to attack the Flagellants head on in the first place I wouldn’t have had that problem, and the Gors should have been able to do a lot of damage. Strangely, we couldn’t find anything in the rules that allow you to reform to maximise contact in later turns – can anyone shed any light on this? Theoretically we could have ended up playing the entire game while those units poked each other across a tiny point of contact.
I’m not sure what to do about the Steam Tank. It apparently has a 15″ 360° charge radius, so short of going back to plan A (take magic and hope to get Pit of Shades or Purple Sun of Xereus), it’s just going to squash its way through anything I have.
That brings me back to the ‘point’ of this list, which was to try out an army with very little magic. Since two of my magic phases only had 1,1 dice, far2casual’s point was amply demonstrated. I didn’t feel too much the loss of spells since I had a huge(ly entertaining) tide of Gors to throw forward. Still, ultimately I do like using magic in this game, so generally I err on the side of having some. On the other hand, another game with a hundred Gors is surely in my future.
Finally, my main learning point should be to whine less. I’ve found myself bitching about dice too much lately, and it’s not a gentlemanly way to play the game. The same goes for other armies units – the bad parts are, for the most part, in the eye of the beholder. A classic example was in this game. Turns 1 to 3 featured a lot of me saying ‘dang artillery!’ and Furycat patiently reminding me that artillery is one of the main things about the Empire. Turns 3 to 5 had a lot of Furycat say ‘dang Primal Fury!’, to pretty much the same response. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.