Well, it really has taken me ages to get this battle report written up from turn 14 of the Border Princes Campaign; my opponent this time was my arch-nemesis / best friend, Furycat and his mustachioed Empire army. I mostly just stuck with the same army as my previous outing against Justinmatters, the narrowest of wins against Justinmatters‘ Orcs & Goblins. Still, with the reduction back to 2000 points, I ditched the under-performing Lore of Death Bray Shaman and the Razorgors, shuffled a few things around and fit in a Chaos Spawn. I’ve never tried one before and to be honest I’m not really sure what to do with it, but it’s not many points so I figured it was worth a go.
Great Bray Shaman, level 4, Steel Claws, Jagged Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Ironcurse Icon, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Wargor, BSB, Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, heavy armour, shield, (BSB)
Bray Shaman, level 2, Chalice of Dark Rain, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
39 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
20 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G2)
2 x 5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
40 Ungors, full command (UH)
2 x 5 Harpies, scouts (H1 and H2)
Chaos Spawn (CS)
23 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B)
Furycat tried out double Lore of Light wizards, which seems pretty sound on paper. I like the Lore of Light a lot, although I don’t actually play any armies that can take it (unless I go for the Wizarding Hat, which is still a pretty long shot).
Arch Lector of Sigmar, War Altar, Dawn Armour (AL)
Wizard Lord, level 4, Lore of Light(WL)
Captain of the Empire, BSB, Armour of Meteoric Iron, Dawnstone (BSB)
Battle Wizard, level 2, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Light (BW)
30 Flagellants, Prophet of Doom(F)
20 Crossbowmen (C)
48 Halberdiers, full command (H)
10 Outriders (O)
5 Pistoliers (P)
2 Helstorm Rocket Battery (HRB1 and HRB2)
The scenario is the Meeting Engagement. There’s a Sigmarite Shrine in the centre and an Earthblood Mere in the far East; the fence in the North West is just that (i.e. a normal common or garden fence). The rivers and forests lay in wait for us, of course. There’s a ford in the middle of one of them, which is under the Ungors in the first picture. Note that the third river just got place in the corner as we were both pretty tired of laying out river by the time that one came round; funnily enough I made a bit of hash of setting it up in Battle Chronicler too but don’t worry about that as it’ll never be remotely near any units. The Wizard Lord rolls Speed of Light, Light of Battle, Birona’s Timewarp and Pha’s Protection while the Battle Wizard has Net of Amyntok and Banishment. Over on my side of the table, the Great Bray Shaman has Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe, Penumbral Pendulum and Okkam’s Mindrazorand the Bray Shaman has Wyssan’s Wildform and Savage Beast of Horros. A frankly preposterous series of dice rolls sees the Great Bray Shaman, the Wargor and Bestigors late to the battle, while the Crossbowmen, Halberdiers and Captain are similarly detained for an extra round in the pub. The Beastmen set up first and go first. Note the placement of the Harpies to stymie the vanguard move of the Outriders; the small Gor herd and one of Raider herds are ambushing.
The Gors helpfully ambush in the West, setting up to either threaten all the units set up over there or be mangled by Outrider machine gun fire depending on Furycat’s preference. Everyone else moves forward, though the big Gor herd takes a slow approach to give the Wargor a chance to join them. The Harpies move to give themselves options next turn and (more importantly) get out of the way of the Flagellants while the Chaos Spawn tests the river and finds out that it’s full of blood. Cute. We roll 6,4 magic dice, but start off auspiciously with the Bray Shaman getting Irresistable Force putting Wildform on the Ungors. The resulting calamitous detonation does remarkably little damage (improbably, only a single Raider dies).Despite using 3 dice, I fail to cast the upgraded version of Miasma on the Pistoliers. This pretty much sets the tone for my magic in this game.
The Pistoliers feel lucky and try the other river, which helpfully gives them Pha’s Protection as it’s a river of light. There’s minimal other movement (why bother when the Beastmen will come to you?) but the delayed units sheepishly slink onto the table carrying letters from their mums. The winds of magic are pretty wild with 6,6 dice – I prepare for a lot of stinging. I let through the Net of Amyntok on the ambushing Gors as it’s only a 50-50 chance of doing anything useful. The War Altar tries to cast Banishment on the Harpies but fails and then the Wizard Lord casts the bubble version of Speed of Light which I fail to dispel. I do manage to stop Banishment on the Harpies though. The Pistoliers shoot up a Harpy in the East but the Outriders annihilate the other flock in hail of bullets, panicking the first lot off the table (luckily, the Gors hold). The Helstorms remind me why I hate them so much as a single hit takes out 11 Gors from the big herd.
The ambushing Raiders are right on the money, arriving on the Empire table edge just at the right time; any earlier and they’d probably have been panicked off the table again by the Harpies. The ambushing herd of Gors tries to charge the Battle Wizard, who smirks at them from under his funny hat as they fail to shrug off the Net of Amyntok. The Ungors charge into the Halberdiers and are joined by the Chaos Spawn as it ambles slowly over. This time, I only get 3,2 magic dice; Enfeebling Foe on the Halberdiers is dispelled and Wildform on the Ungors is scrolled. They lose slightly to the Halberdiers and remember that steadfast is only useful if you’re more than leadership 6 or near a BSB; heading back for my lines. The Spawn is unbreakable, so it sticks around for more punishment.
There’s not a lot of movement apart from the Flagellants moving backward to keep the Gors on the other side of the river for a bit longer (so much for crazed fanatics!) and the Wizards fleeing from the might of the ambushing Raiders. The Pistoliers cross the river again just to show that they can and are rewarded with Pha’s Protection once more. There are only 6,1 magic dice this time; Net of Amyntok is let through on the small Gor herd again but the War Altar’s casting of the same thing on the Wargor’s herd is dispelled. The Bray Shaman uses the Chalice of Dark Rain but one of the Helstorms still lands a direct hit on the big Gor herd, killing another load of them. In fairness, the rest of the shooting is minimal. Finally, the Halberdiers put the Spawn out of its misery.
This time, the ambushing Gors escape the Net of Amyntok and hit the flank of the Flagellants. There’s never a good time to mix it up with flail-wielding lunatics, but if you have to then it’s best to get in somewhere the flails won’t have too much effect. The Raiders charge the Helstorm, creating my favoured situation for artillery: in combat with something cheap. The Ungors pull themselves together now that they’ve gone back to the Great Bray Shaman. I get 4,3 magic dice to play with and the Bray Shaman gets Irresistable Force again on a 3 dice casting of Wildform on the Ungors. He doesn’t get away so lightly this time, joining the Hierophant from Furycat’s Tomb King army in a hole in reality (side note: after half a dozen games with Tomb Kings, Furycat’s Hierophant has been sucked into the warp more often than not, and has yet to feel the sweet caress of turn 4). Enfeebling Foe on the Flagellants is dispelled. The Gors kill a few of them anyway, but being unbreakable, they don’t care at all and reform to face. Still, even though you can’t beat the frenzy out of them, I’m a lot happier now that they’re too tired to swing their flails. The Raiders kill one of the Helstorm crew but the others hold anyway.
In a move I didn’t see coming, the Outriders charge the flank of the Gors, none of them dying to the fence as they cross it. The Halberdiers charge the Ungors again and the Wizards shuffle about for no obvious reason. It’s another good magic phase for the Empire with 6,4 dice available. I let Speed of Light through on the Halberdiers then the Wizard Lord puts an Irresistable Birona’s Timewarp on the Flagellants. The calamitous detonation wounds both Wizards and gets rid of the last magic dice. The unengaged Helstorm helpfully misfires (and can’t fire next turn either), lighting up the battlefield with pretty fireworks, while the Crossbowmen continue to plink away at the Gors. Once again the Halberdiers narrowly beat the Ungors and once again they bodge their break check (despite the presence of the general this time) and once again they get away. Over on the other side of the table, the Gors lose narrowly to the combined efforts of the Outriders and Flagellants and hold, but it’s a blood bath over there. I didn’t actually write it in my notes but I have a vague memory that Furycat opted not to sacrifice any Flagellants this turn (reasoning that they would be re-rolling to hit anyway from ASF) and then epically failed his wound rolls. Finally, the Ungors finish off the Helstorm crew which improbably panics the Wizard Lord off the board.
The big Gor herd charges the flank of the Flagellants and gets Birona’s Timewarp from the river to match the one on the Flagellents. The triumphant Raiders charge the Battle Wizard, who flees. They fail to redirect and stumble unwisely right in front of the Crossbowmen. The Bestigors charge into the Pistoliers and the Ungors rally yet again. I roll 5,2 magic dice but start off with 1,1 on an unboosted version of Miasma on the Crossbowmen so that’s that. The Bestigors smite the Pistoliers into the ground and over run out of reach of the Halberdiers. Meanwhile, the small Gor herd is wiped out (which inconveniently strands the Outriders out of combat) and the Flagellants take horrendous losses; they reform to face the big herd.
The Arch Lector, tired of just pulling dispel dice out of his cassock (not that he’s needed them), decides to get in on the fighting and spurs his mobile pulpit into the Bestigors. The Halberdiers continue their game of ‘tig’ with the Ungors and the Outriders canter back to the safety of their fence. With another big magic phase (6,5), I use all my dispel dice to stop a 6 dice Speed of Light on the Flagellants from the freshly-rallied Battle Wizard. Net of Amyntok is put on the Gors and the Arch Lector Soulfires a single Bestigor. The Crossbowmen kill three of the Raiders right in front of them, but this doesn’t bother the plucky little buggers. In combat, the Gors finish off the Flagellants and reform to 5 wide. For the third time in a row the Ungors lose a close fight against the Halberdiers and flee, although this time the Halberdiers reform to face the Bestigors instead. The Arch Lector runs over a few Bestigors with his War Altar but otherwise not much happens in their combat.
The Raiders try again to catch the Battle Wizard, but he flees again. The Gors attempt to charge the Crossbowmen but fail to escape the Net (note: it looks from Battle Chronicler that they’re miles away, but they were in credible charging range). The winds of magic only give me 3,1 dice; I put them all into Mindrazor on the Bestigors but it’s dispelled. The Bestigors all bounce off the War Altar’s ward save, so everyone stays right where they are.
The Halberdiers charge into the back of the Bestigors – this is going to get ugly (if you’re a Beastman). The Battle Wizard fails to rally and keeps on running, and everyone else is toting move-or-fire weapons so they’re going nowhere. There are only 2,1 magic dice; the Arch Lector puts them all into Birona’s Timewarp on the Halberdiers but it gets dispelled. The Outriders and Crossbowmen reduce the Gors to just the Foe Render and the Wargor (though they do hold) and the Helstorm fires a wild shot in the vague direction of the Ungors. The Bestigors fare surprisingly well against the Halberdiers (they still can’t get through the ward save on the War Altar though) but they still lose and flee. Then it got complicated…
So, the losers flee from the biggest unit – clearly the Halberdiers in this case. For some reason, I’d always thought that the fleeing unit got away clean if it rolled higher on distance than all pursuers, but that doesn’t seem to be explicit in the rules. The upshot of this is that the Arch Lector is almost certain to catch them as he effectively has a 100 mm head start on them (evidently the War Altar can be rotated much more easily than it looks). So the first question is: is this correct? To complicate things even further, the fleeing Bestigors ended up in a River of Light so we agreed to see what spell was cast on them. Of course, it was Light of Battle, meaning that they rallied immediately. We played it that they got this and then the Arch Lector charged them again, as if he’d pursued into a fresh unit. Second question: is this correct?
Determined to go out in a blaze of glory, the Foe Render and the Wargor (or Butch and Sundance) charge into the Crossbowmen… they needed an 8 to make it… they didn’t. The Gor was pincushioned for his troubles too. The Raiders charge into the surviving Helstorm, more to stop it shooting than anything else, and the others charge at the Battle Wizard who very narrowly manages to stay on the table after he flees. I get 4,4 magic dice and start off by reducing the Outriders’ BS by 3 with Miasma (let through). Enfeebling Foe is dispelled but I get Mindrazor on the Bestigors. It doesn’t help, as I still can’t put a single wound through the ward save on the War Altar; according to my notes I’d managed more than 15 by this point). The Raiders do manage to kill one of the Helstorm crew, but the other two hold.
The Halberdiers fail a fourth charge on the Ungors, and the Battle Wizard rallies now that the Arch Lector is back in inspiring presence range. There are only 3,1 magic dice; Pha’s Protection and Healing Hand on the Arch Lector are both dispelled and Armour of Contempt fails (not that he’s likely to need it). The BSB is shot down by the Outriders despite needing 8s to hit, 5s to wound and rocking a 2+ save (admittedly, down to 4+ from black powder weapons). I finally kill off the War Altar but the Arch Lector holds firm, and the game ends. We go to our calculators and the results are Empire: 1250, Beastmen 732. Victory for the Empire!
Another tight game against my most challenging foe. Furycat played well and took some bad luck in his stride (notably, the Wizard Lord panicking off the table), still coming out on top. There are a few lessons here for me though.
The biggest one is surely familiar to all Beastmen players. Scroll back up and check the map for my turn 1 (don’t worry, I’ll wait for you). That is a prime example of how not to play Beastmen. My herds are spread out right across the table; you could drive a bus between most of them. Beastmen benefit hugely from keeping packed close to get the BSB and general’s leadership bonuses. Almost as bad, it also meant that I was coming piecemeal across the table, allowing my units to be dealt with one at a time.
Otherwise, I made quite a mistake right at the end by playing aggressively with the Wargor and Foe Render. There was no good reason to give the Crossbowmen an extra round of shooting by going for an optimistic charge; instead I should have run as far away as possible from the shooting. Even though there were only 2 in the unit at the end, they were worth 643 points (including the bonus points for the BSB); more than the difference between victory and at least a draw. The even more annoying thing is that I even considered these factors in the same turn when I moved the Ungors back to keep them away from the Halberdiers. Still, I suppose it was more Beastmen-y to charge headlong into the teeth of the