Here is the second of the five battles in which I’m involved for turn 13 of the Border Princes campaign. This time I’m up against Furycat‘s unstoppable Empire force. After some consideration, I decided that I’d just stick with more or less the same army as my last few games, mainly adding in some Minotaurs that are in my mind because they’re on the painting table just now.
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 (BS)
38 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
20 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G2)
5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
5 Harpies, scouts (H)
4 Minotaurs, standard bearer (M)
2 Razorgors (R)
39 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
Furycat selected a fairly warmachine-light army though he did include a Steam Tank and Arch Lector on War Altar, which I never like to see across the table.
Arch Lector of Sigmar, War Altar, Hammer of Judgement, Dawn Armour (AL)
Wizard Lord, level 4, Lore of Life (WL)
Captain of the Empire, BSB, Armour of Meteoric Iron, Dawnstone (BSB)
Battle Wizard, level 2, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Shadow (BW)
2 x 30 Swordsmen, full command (S1 and S2)
12 Crossbowmen (C)
30 Greatswords, full command (G)
Helstorm Rocket Battery (HRB)
Steam Tank (ST)
In a common event for Furycat, we get Blood and Glory as our mission, with five terrain pieces. In the North is an Anvil of Vaul, the South has a matching Scree Slope and there’s a Nehekharan Sphinx in the West. I win the roll off to select table sides, and choose the one with the Scree Slope – I hate it when I have to charge onto them, and there’s no reason for anything other than a straightforward castle from the Empire. The Great Bray Shaman takes Wyssan’s Wildform, Curse of Anraheir, Amber Spear and Savage Beast of Horros, with the Bray Shaman getting Withering and Melkoth’s Mystifiying Miasma. Over in the Empire camp, the Wizard Lord has Flesh to Stone, Shield of Thorns, Regrowth and the ever popular Dwellers Below with the Battle Wizard taking Miasma and Okkam’s Mindrazor. The deployment is fairly tactical, but basically revolves round me trying to force the Steam Tank somewhere far from either horde, and failing abysmally. I even deployed both of the potential ambushing units, though given the central deployment of the Empire I probably wouldn’t have ambushed anyway. The Empire get first turn and gratefully take it.
The Steam Tank generates four steam points and trundles forward. Otherwise, there’s not much more than shuffling as they await the incoming herd of Beastmen. There are 4,1 magic dice, and the Battle Wizard kicks things off by reducing the Bestigors’ move with Miasma. The Wizard Lord throws all the remaining power dice at the upgraded version of Dwellers Below on the Gor horde, but it fails. The Helstorm continues in a similar vein, misfiring a shot and preventing itself from firing next turn either. The Crossbows take a couple of wounds off a Minotaur.
After some consideration, the Minotaurs charge the Steam Tank. They aren’t a good match up for it (indeed, I expect them to die) but I’ve got to do something to stop it getting in about my lines on its own terms. With 6,3 magic dice the Great Bray tries to cast Amber Spear on the Wizard Lord. He isn’t feeling lucky on his Look Out! Sir roll, and throws enough dice to get Irresistable Force on the dispel. Withering on the Steam Tank is similarly dispelled, but Miasma (-1BS) goes through on the Crossbowmen along with Wildform on the Minotaurs. I’m hoping that the extra toughness will keep them in the game a bit longer. Sadly, they fail to do anything at all to the Steam Tank, though they do become irritated enough to become frenzied.
The Steam Tank plays it safe by generating 4 steam points. The Wizards get 6,2 magic dice with which to justify their existence, but it’s all bad from that angle. A single die casting of Banishment at the Harpies fails, Miasma on the Bestigors is dispelled, Shield of Thorns on the Helstorm fail and Mindrazor on the Western Swordsmen also fails. The Crossbowmen shoot a couple of Gors despite the hex on them. One of the Minotaurs is ground into paste by the Steam Tank, but they do manage to wound it a couple of times.
Both the Gor horde and the Razorgors declare charges on the Swordsmen in the East. Sadly, I’m an imbecile. I move the Razorgors first, which blocks the Gors from making contact, so they stumble forwards instead. The Harpies charge the crew of the Helstorm, presumably catching them just as they remove the last bit of rocket from the loading mechanism. In the centre, one of the Raider herds moves into blocking position to keep the Greatswords out of the way for a turn while the rest of the army carries on moving forward. We get 5,1 magic dice. Amber Spear on the Battle Wizard is dispelled, as is Curse of Anraheir on the Greatswords, though the Minotaurs do get Wildform again. The Razorgors kill a couple of Swordsmen and improbably hold after losing to the musician, and the Minotaurs once again fail to hurt the Steam Tank. The Harpies are doing their thing at least, wiping out the Helstorm crew before they’d finished reading the firework code.
Generating another 3 steam points, the Steam Tank continues to play it safe, and there’s no other movement to speak of. The winds of magic blow a pitiful 2,1 dice. Flesh to Stone on the Swordsmen in the East is dispelled, but a good roll gets Shield of Thorns on them. Of course, the main point of this was to use the Magical Lore of all living things to heal the inert lump of metal that is busy grinding my giant cow-men into the floor. Having said that, the spell does hit the Razorgors for 11 hits, but incredibly fails to wound them. It doesn’t matter, since the Swordsmen are on fire, killing one of the Razorgor and losing no-one to the other; they reform to face South. The Steam Tank grinds away at the Minotaurs a bit more, leaving a single one alive. Improbably, he holds having needed a four to do so.
The Raiders in the centre charge into the flank of the Swordsmen to open the path for the Bestigors to get stuck into the Greatswords. Sadly, needing only a 5 to get there, I roll a 4. At least the Raiders will be able to support the Gors charging the Swordsmen. In fact, they only need a 3 to make contact but roll double ones, leaving the Raiders wondering if they showed up to the wrong battle. To make matters even worse, they turn out to have strayed into a Wild Wood, though luckily it doesn’t beat them to death for their ineptitude. Still, at least the Razorgor rallied. Meanwhile, the Bray Shaman sends his own Raider escort in the direction of the Steam Tank, neglecting to mention that he wouldn’t be joining them. This turn I have 6,1 magic dice to use. A casting of Amber Spear on the Wizard Lord can’t be dispelled…but I roll a 1 to wound. Withering on the Swordsmen is scrolled and Wildform on the Raiders is dispelled. The astute amongst you will have noted that I forgot to dispel Shield of Thorns on the Swordsmen in the East. Not surprisingly the Swordsmen make short work of the Raider, but in a bit of luck the single survivor doesn’t move flee far enough to get between the Greatswords and the Bestigors. Meanwhile, the plucky Minotaur puts another wound on the Steam Tank.
Once again the Steam Tank generates 3 points, determined not to blow itself up. The Arch Lector moves up into the face of the Gors. Continuing Furycat’s total inability to roll well for the Wind of Magic, we get just 3,1 dice. Flesh to Stone on the Greatswords and Regrowth on the Swordsmen are both dispelled. After some rules discussion we decide that the Steam Tank probably can fire its steam gun at a unit it’s not in combat with, and sprays the Gors with hot water for no effect (all that looking up rulebooks and FAQs and it had no effect anyway…). It does finally squash the Minotaur though.
The Bestigors get their act together and charge the Greatswords (they were still close to messing it up though, needing a 7 and getting a 7), and the Harpies charge the rear of the Crossbowmen, intent on atoning for their previous ineptitude (here and here). Sighing, the Raiders move to start plinking away at the Steam Tank before it goes on another rampage, and, once again, the Razorgor (now singular) charges the Swordsmen. I have 4,2 magic dice, but Curse of Anraheir on the Greatswords and Wildform on the Bestigors are both dispelled. The gods of storyline dictate that this one must be fought without magical advantages… and they clearly favours the Bestigors. The Greatswords are hammered mercilessly but they’re stubborn so they don’t care. Meanwhile, the Razorgor is killed by the Shield of Thorns (we forgot about this in the magic phase, but it doesn’t matter) and the Harpies kill off a few Crossbowmen, who hold but fail to reform to face.
Once again, the Steam Tank generates a nice safe 3 steam points and prepares to make some more goat pate. The Arch Lector, bored of hanging around handing out his huge leadership bubble, decides to go and make use of his ward save by running over some Gors. With 5,1 magic dice, the Wizard Lord manages to get Flesh to Stone on the surviving Greatswords (healing the Steam Tank, of course), but Pha’s Protection on them and Miasma on the Bestigors are both dispelled. The Steam Tank squashes the Raiders without incident. Issuing a challenge as he rides his portable pulpit into the Gors, the Arch Lector finds that a surprised-looking Foe Render is pushed under his wheels. The remaining Gors, blinking in shock at the fact that a bald screaming man is apparently trying to beat them to death with a book, hold. The Bestigors can’t quite do the damage to finish off the Greatswords, and the Count’s Champion survives on his own and stubbornly holds up the entire Bestigor herd. Finally, the Harpies chase off the Crossbowmen, who obligingly end up directly between the Bestigors and the Steam Tank. They reform to face the Battle Wizard, who shuffles nervously under their gaze.
The Harpies charge the Battle Wizard, and there’s not much other movement. The small Gor unit and the Swordsmen in the West are apparently quite happy to stare at each other through the forest for the rest of the game. I get 5,3 magic dice and have Savage Beast on the Wargor, Wildform on his Gors and Miasma on the Eastern Swordsmen all dispelled. Those Swordsmen do get Cursed though. The enraged Great Bray Shaman tears apart the awkward Greatsword and his herd reforms to face the Swordsmen in the East. The Harpies pick up the Battle Wizard, and failing to restrain themselves, fly off to the middle of nowhere with his body for company. The Wargor puts a bunch of wounds on the Arch Lector, but a combination of rerolls and ward saves mean that nothing gets through. To add insult, the horses then wound him back despite his toughness 5 and 2+ save.
There are no charges, and not much movement, but the Steam Tank (with 4 Steam Points) moves between the Bestigors and the Swordsmen. The Crossbowmen rally and reform to face the Bestigors. The Wizard Lord summons 2,2 magic dice and throws them all at Dwellers Below on the Bestigors. The Great Bray Shaman can’t dispel it, then compounds his error by selecting ‘die’ when faced with the choice of ‘save or die’. He is duly dragged down to some terrible fate, along with a handful of his drinking partners. The challenge between the Arch Lector and the Wargor continues in a rather dull fashion.
There aren’t many options left to me now. The Bray Shaman charges the Crossbowmen, but they flee to safety. Instead, he uses his 6,3 dice to put Withering and Miasma on the Arch Lector, though the Withering is dispelled. Once again, nothing happens in the combat, and the game ends. Neither army reached its breaking point so we tally up victory points. Victory to the Empire!
It was a very tense, fun game, but I’m irritated by my poor play. There was a golden opportunity for me to massively swing the game in turn 2, when the Gors could have charged the Swordsmen but my decision to move the Razorgors first stopped them getting into contact. I’m confident that the Gors could have done huge damage to the Swordsmen instead of the Razorgors killing a couple here and there. I compounded the error with the Razorgors by throwing the survivor back into the Swordsmen, a combat it couldn’t have won alone, which amounted to just handing over its victory points. I’m very frustrated by my decisions here.
The funny thing is that after the game my annoyance was focussed on the Great Bray Shaman being one-shotted by Dwellers Below. As it happened, the victory points swing for that was almost exactly the margin of Furycat’s victory. Still, that’s one of the reasons I try to write these battle reports in detail: it makes me think about what I did in the game, and hopefully I can learn from my many mistakes. All that being said, Furycat played his game well and beat me deservedly, not to mention at a 200 point disadvantage.
I am not certain how best to deal with the Steam Tank and the War Altar. Both are unbreakable and near-unkillable (barring a few specific spells), and they are tailor-made to interfere with big units. Still, I suppose that this is simply showing me a weakness of my game: relying on hordes. Perhaps I should use smaller units so it matters less if they get gummed up with such a foe.