After all the battles that happened in turn 11 of the Border Princes campaign, it’s something of a surprise to find that I’m only fighting a single battle for turn 12 (though I’m supporting in another elsewhere); a match-up against Justinmatters‘ Orcs & Goblins with a slight points advantage to the greenskins. I tired of the ‘low magic’ builds I’ve been trying lately and returned to my old favourite: the Great Bray Shaman. I missed the sheer power of the Bestigors enough in my previous game that they earned a recall to the army, so in the interests of change I decided to use two Razorgor Chariots. I figured that they should have enough killing power to tip a few combats in my favour, even if I continue to roll single impact hits.
Great Bray Shaman, level 4, Steel Claws, Jagged Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Beasts (GBS)
Wargor, BSB, Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, heavy armour, shield, (BSB)
Bray Shaman, level 2, Chalice of Dark Rain, additional hand weapon, Lore of Shadow (BS1)
Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, additional hand weapon, Lore of Shadow (BS2)
39 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
20 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G2)
30 Ungors, full command (U)
2 x 6 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
2 x 5 Harpies, scouts (H1 and H2)
2 Razorgor Chariots (RC1 and RC2)
23 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
Justinmatters continued with his use of Grimgor Ironhide but decided that, in general, massive blocks of Night Goblins were the way to go this time. Note for clarity: this is the 7th edition army book.
Grimgor Ironhide (GI)
Black Orc Big Boss, BSB, heavy armour (BSB)
Orc Shaman, level 2 (OS)
3 x 48 Night Goblins, spears, nets, full command, 3 Fanatics each (NG1 to NG3 and F1 to F9)
20 Big ‘Uns, additional hand weapons, full command (BU)
19 Orc Boyz, additional hand weapons, full command (B)
24 Black Orcs, full command, Banner of Eternal Flame (BO)
2 Spear Chukkas (SC1 and SC2)
With the assistance of Forkbanger, we roll up the Meeting Engagement with the maximum 10 pieces of scenery. In the far West is a Bane Stone, the centre is a Khemrian Quicksand and otherwise the walls are normal walls and the buildings are normal buildings. All four forests remain mysterious. Perhaps for the first time ever, the Orc Shaman doesn’t get Gaze of Mork and Bash ‘Em Lads, instead taking Gork’s Warpath and Waaagh! The Great Bray selects Wyssan’s Wildform, Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt, Curse of Anraheir and Savage Beast of Horros while the Bray Shaman has Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma and Penumbral Pendulum. The Beastmen win the roll off to set up and go first. One unit of Harpies is delayed along with the Battle Standard Bearer, who was evidently still finishing his last drink when the battle horns were sounded. On the other side of the table one unit of Night Goblins is late after the fungus brew boiled over, and one of the Spear Chukkas proves too heavy for its weedy crew.
The battle starts with the Orcs & Goblins seizing the initiative. The Night Goblins in the West surge forward with ‘Plan’s a Good ‘Un’ firing all their Fanatics straight through the Razorgor Chariot in front of them. All three of the dervishes make contact causing 16 hits between them (and setting the tone for the dice rolling this game) which vapourises the poor contraption before it even gets to move. The Night Goblins themselves then charge the Gors in front of them, which is awkward since it means that the BSB won’t be able to take his accustomed place in their herd. The other mob of Night Goblins move up and send their Fanatics toward the other Razorgor Chariot, but they all fall a little short. Continuing the ‘roll 6s like it’s going out of fashion’ theme, Justinmatters gets 6,6 magic dice to play with but a 6 dice casting of Gork’s Warpath is dispelled. The Bray Shaman uses the Chalice of Dark Rain since he probably won’t get a better chance with so little firepower; the Spear Chukka obligingly misses the Bestigors and the other is still being towed into position in the far West. In the close combat phase the Night Goblins turn out to be ninjas and tear through the Gors, downing 16 of them. The Gors manage to hold (they do kill a few Night Goblins in return, of course) and reform to 6 wide to try and retain steadfast until help arrives. Ouch!
The ambushing Ungor Raiders arrive in the West, where they are promptly bludgeoned into pulp by Fanatics, although I suppose that was about all I could expect of them anyway. The Harpies predictably charge the Spear Chukka in the centre and the Razorgor Chariot decides that hanging around next to the Fanatics isn’t going to help anyone, so charges into the Night Goblins in front of it (taking 3 wounds in the process). The Harpies arrive and jump on the fanatics in an act of anti-heroic self-sacrifice, and the Wargor saunters on, finds his drinking buddies embroiled in combat with the hardest Night Goblins ever seen, and duly stays clear. We get 3,1 magic dice to use so the Great Bray Shaman puts Curse of Anraheir on Grimgor Ironhide’s unit. Sadly, he gets Irresistable Force and the calamitous detonation wounds him, kills three Bestigors and sucks away the remaining power dice. The Night Goblins fighting the Gors go berserk again, and this time the surviving Gors turn tail and flee. Needless to say, the Razorgor Chariot rolls only a single impact hit but does kill off a few more Night Goblins. There’s plenty more where they came from though, and they easily hold steadfast in range of both the general and BSB. Finally, the Harpies kill 2 of the Spear Chukka crew, but the last one bravely holds.
The super Night Goblins chase the surviving Gors off the table; at least it gets the little maniacs out of my hair for a turn! The mob that arrived in the West warily eye the advancing small unit of Gors and back up to delay the inevitable combat. The Orc Shaman uses all of the 4,1 magic dice on Gork’s Warpath again, but it is dispelled by the Great Bray. The Harpies finish off the Spear Chukka crew, and the Razorgor Chariot is poked to death by many, many spears.
The Wargor, intent on avenging his fallen herd, makes a mighty one-man charge into the flank of the Night Goblins. Over in the West, the Gors charge into the mob in front of them – apparently they didn’t notice what happened in turn 1 to the big herd. The Bestigors fail a long charge into the Big ‘Uns, while the Raiders move to direct the Black Orcs away from them. With 6,1 magic dice to use, I start by trying to put Curse of Anraheir on the Black Orcs again. Justinmatters hates that spell, so he uses most of his dispel dice to stop it. That leaves the Great Bray Shaman free to put Wildform on his own unit and Savage Beast on the Wargor. The Gors kill a bunch of Night Goblins, but they narrowly hold, and thin out the herd a little for good measure. The pumped-up Wargor chews through a lot of Night Goblins, but they hold steadfast. For some reason, they don’t reform to face him though.
Turn 3 begins with the Big ‘Uns squabbling, stopping them from charging the Bestigors. The Grimgor Ironhide leads his bodyguard into the swamp to take out the pesky Raiders – my main hope here was that a lot of them would fail dangerous terrain checks, but I was disappointed; over the course of the game, the swamp only claimed a single Black Orc. In the magic phase there are 5,1 dice to use, and once again, the Shaman puts them all into Gork’s Warpath. Sadly (for him) he gets Irresistable Force, and even though he kills 5 Ungors, his head explodes, taking 2 Boyz and the Orc magic phase with him. The Wargor continues his magic-fuelled rampage through the Night Goblins, who still hold. The Black Orcs annihilate the Raiders with the exception of the Bray Shaman on one wound. He flees, gets away but then fails his dangerous terrain check and is sucked into the quicksand. Dang (and stupid, since I should have moved him out of the unit last turn anyway). The Black Orcs pursue into the Ungors. Finally, the dwindling Gors lose slightly to the Night Goblins but hold (needing a 4, got a 3). I breathe a sigh of relief.
The Bestigors charge into the squabbling Big ‘Uns, and everyone else continues fighting (except the Harpies, who notice that they’ve run out of squishy targets). With 6,3 magic dice to use, the Great Bray Shaman cracks his knuckles and gets down to business. Savage Beast is put on the Wargor again (6 attacks at strength 8? Yes please!) and Curse of Anraheir is cast on the Big ‘Uns. Justinmatters is wise to the old ‘save Wildform for last’ trick, and dispels it using all his dice; apparently he really hates Bestigors with Wildform… in fact, Bestigors in general. I see why as they carve through the Big ‘Uns like they’re not there, running them down and crashing into the flank of some rather surprised Boyz. As a side note, I considered charging the Harpies into the Boyz so that I could get a second round of combat in case this happened… but I wussed out. The Night Goblins in the West net themselves, fail to kill even a single Gor and find that steadfast on leadership 5 is nothing special. They flee off the table and the Gors reform to face the Spear Chukka. Similarly, the Wargor chops down another bunch of Night Goblins who realise that Grimgor Ironhide and his BSB are no longer in range, break (again, steadfast on leadership 5: not great) and the surviving 35 or so of them are run down by the hero. What a guy. Putting a crimp on my otherwise excellent turn, Grimgor’s mob smash through the Ungors (in retrospect, I forgot about their parry save but they still wouldn’t have lasted long) and run them down.
The Spear Chukka crew squabble, dooming themselves to an inevitable messy fate at the hands of the Gors. The Bestigors do terrible things to the Orc Boyz, who flee. I consider chasing them but instead elect to reform and go for the Night Goblins – they’re worth more points and I don’t have to get too lucky for the surviving Boyz to run off the table. In case you’re interested, the forest turned out to be an Abyssal Wood, so the fleeing Orcs would cause fear if they both rallied and sucked someone into attacking them before they leave.
The Gors charge into the squabbling Spear Chukka crew and the depleted Bestigors head south and pick up the Wargor, who is looking pretty pleased with himself. I get 1,1 power dice in the magic phase, and briefly curse my roll before I remember that the Great Bray Shaman has stored a whole lot of souls with his Jagged Dagger. One dispel dice isn’t going to help the Orcs & Goblins a lot. He puts Wildform on the Bestigors in case the Night Goblins get any clever ideas and Curse of Anraheir on the Black Orcs to make them think twice about moving anywhere. The Gors, not unexpectedly, spike the Spear Chukka with ease.
Grimgor Ironhide curses whoever Anraheir was with all his might, but otherwise stands still and decides not to risk the dangerous terrain checks on his bodyguard. The Night Goblins shuffle around a bit in an attempt to get out of the way of some rather murderous looking Bestigors…
…but it doesn’t help. The Bestigors hit them like a tidal wave, and the Harpies move to re-direct the Black Orcs into the swamp and far away from the Bestigors. For the second turn in a row we get 1,1 magic dice, and again the Jagged Dagger is awesome. I put Wildform on the Bestigors, but an attempt to put Curse of Anraheir on the Black Orcs again fails. Plenty of Night Goblins are hewn limb from limb, but they hold steadfast and reform to 5 wide to keep it that way for longer.
The Black Orcs charge the Harpies, and don’t get to do more than watch as Grimgor cuts them all down himself. More Night Goblins die, but they’re not going anywhere. To my mild irritation, the Boyz manage to rally before they depart the table (and give me their victory points).
It’s the last turn, and I know I need to take out the remaining Night Goblins to have any chance of winning. Improbably, we roll 1,1 for magic dice for the third time, and once again the Jagged Dagger comes into its own. The Great Bray Shaman puts the two dice and all the remaining souls he’s stolen into the upgraded version of Savage Beast… it works, and the two heroes tear apart the remaining handful of Night Goblins before they even get to swing.
It’s close. Very close. In a rare event we have to add up the victory points, and the scores are: Beastmen: 1446; Orcs & Goblins: 1202. Victory for the Beastmen!
Overall, a highly satisfying and close game. I thought I was in a lot of trouble when the Night Goblins took out first my Razorgor Chariot and then the Gor horde, but some stalwart performances pulled me back from the brink. Man of the match is surely the Wargor, taking out 45 Night Goblins on his own. The ambushing Raiders and the delayed Harpies helped out a lot by taking out those pesky Fanatics. And, of course, the Bestigors did what they do best: kill everything they see (though I was careful to keep them clear of Grimgor Ironhide and his mob).
Still, there are always lessons to be learned. I should have detached the Bray Shaman from the Raiders before they moved to intercept the Black Orcs, though since he didn’t cast a single spell all game, perhaps that’s not such a big loss. I also missed an opportunity to use the Harpies to chase off the fleeing Boyz, which could have cost me the game if things had gone a little less well in the final turns.
The game also showed me not to get too reliant on certain combinations; specifically, the Gor horde and Beast Banner BSB, although on another day I still would have expected the Gors to see of the Night Goblins even without help from the Wargor. The Razorgor Chariots singularly failed to impress, but I think it’s worth another go with them since this was not a game where the dice favoured them.