After my crushing defeat to Justinmatters’ Orcs & Goblins in the Iron Claw Orc camp, I had one last game in turn 14 of the Border Princes campaign to play. This was a rematch of my ill-fated attempt to take the Orc & Goblin home territory and cement the whole of the Eastern Border Princes as the domain of the Beastmen. For the first time in ages I eschewed the Great Bray Shaman and chose to mix things up with a Doombull as my general (actually, I was trying to get both, but I couldn’t quite make things fit nicely). The Minotaurs kept their place despite a fairly pitiful showing against an Arachnarok, and in general I tried to mainly use miniatures I own. This is probably not notable in any other gaming group, but proxying is the norm here and Justinmatters in particular builds his army by printing off sheets of paper with the unit displayed as a bunch of boxes next to each other with (for example) BO written in each for Black Orcs.
Doombull, Axes of Khorgor, Ramhorn Helm, Talisman of Preservation (don’t leave the forest without it), heavy armour (D)
Gorebull, Berserker Sword, Talisman of Endurance, heavy armour (G1)
Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Beast Banner, heavy armour, shield (BSB)
Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, extra hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
37 Gors, extra hand weapon, full command (G2)
40 Ungors, full command (U)
2 x 6 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
5 Harpies, scouts (H)
4 Minotaurs, full command (M)
24 Bestigors, full command, Manbane Standard (B)
Justinmatters returned to his more usual choices after his brief foray into Goblins and spiders, though the Arachnarok clearly impressed him as it another made an appearance here. Still, you can get plenty of artillery with Orcs & Goblins, and no-one likes to take a horde of Savage Orc Big ‘Uns to the face.
Black Orc Warboss, Armour of Destiny, Dawnstone
Orc Great Shaman, level 4 (OS)
Savage Orc Big Boss, BSB, Armour of Silvered Steel (BSB)
Night Goblin Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll (S1)
Night Goblin Shaman, level 2 (S2)
38 Savage Orc Big ‘Uns, full command (SOBU)
2 x 5 Wolf Riders (WR1 and WR2)
20 Arrer Boyz, standard (AB)
10 Savage Orc Boar Boyz, full command, Gleaming Pennant (SOB)
3 x Orc Chariots (OC1 to OC3)
3 x Spear Chukkas (SC1 to SC3)
Rock Lobber (RL)
Arachnarok Spider (A)
It’s a battle for the pass, never a good sign when you’ve got significantly less shooting than your opponent (i.e. almost always if you’re playing Beastmen). Justinmatters then ups the ante by sticking a river right across the middle of the table for me to slowly wade across; there’s certainly no reason for him to come to me. We also get a Wyrding Well, a Magic Circle, a Nehekharan Sphinx (generously provided by Furycat as he didn’t need his Warsphinx) and a Sorcerous Portal but as usual we forget about all of them as soon as we start playing the game. Still, I think that it affects us both equally so it’s all fine. The spells are divided up as Hand of Gork, ‘Ere We Go, Foot of Gork and Gaze of Mork for the Orc Great Shaman, Sneaky Stabbin’ and Gork’ll Fix It for one Night Goblin and Vindictive Glare and Night Shroud for the other. After that lot I feel slightly inadequate as I meekly roll up Savage Beast of Horros and Wyssan’s Wildform for the Bray Shaman. Not surprisingly, deployment sees the Beastmen lined up on the 12” mark and the Orcs mostly
cowering standing proudly behind a fence near the back of their deployment zone. The Beastmen are happy to take first turn…
…And they duly race out of the blocks until most of them are stymied by the fact that they can’t march across rivers. The Harpies flap around to irritate Justinmatters a bit; I’m not really expecting much of them but they have been heroes enough times for me that everyone else in our group hates them with a passion. Now that I only have a single level 2 wizard, of course I roll 6,5 magic dice. Six dice go into Wildform on the Minotaurs to help them survive the inevitable barrage of artillery and to my great surprise it is let through (as it is not irresistable or anything like that). I’m not sure what Justinmatters thought I was going to do with Savage Beast this turn, but anyway his dispel dice are inexplicably wasted.
Animosity strikes the Orcs in the most hilarious way. The Arrer Boyz decide that gun-lines are boring and flip out, making an outrageous charge into the waiting Gor herd who can’t believe their luck (and neither can I). No-one else is in such a hurry, mostly just shuffling around a little. The greenskins get 6,2 magic dice to split among their many magic users. Gork’ll Fix It is cast on the Gors and I let it through. For one, I’m still confident that they can do bad things to the Arrer Boyz, but mainly because I can spring them across the river if enough Arrer Boyz survive to flee. Foot of Gork is dispelled with all my dice on the Bestigors, and Gaze of Mork wounds a Minotaur and kills off a hapless Raider. The Rock Lobber misses the Bestigors but that’s the end of my luck with the shooting phase. The first two Spear Chukkas kill off two Minotaurs and I try to save more of them from the same fate by taking the third on the Doombull. It doesn’t go completely to plan, as he takes one for the team to tune of three wounds. As predicted, even with a hex the Gors are far too much for the Arrer Boyz, mauling them down to a handful for minimal losses and running down the rest as they flee, conveniently crossing the river.
I charge the Harpies into the nearest Orc Chariot, hoping that they might do something with the combat resolution from flank charging. The general and BSB were both too far away to matter so I could potentially panic some stuff. Karma comes back to the Gors as they fail a charge into the nearest of the Night Goblin Shamans. Still, the Minotaurs move up to cover their side so I’m probably better off than I might have been if they’d had to slog it across the river. That’s just what everyone else has to do, though at least thanks to the sterling efforts of the Arrer Boyz I am safe in the knowledge that it’s ‘only’ a River of Blood. The Bray Shaman puts another six dice (of the 5,2 rolled) into Wildform on the Minotaurs again and amazingly it isn’t irresistable or dispelled for the second time in a row. All my hopes for the Harpies are brought back to earth as they fail to do anything to Chariot, are mauled in return and flee off the table. Easy come, easy go.
The Savage Orc Big ‘Uns and one of the Wolf Rider mobs both suffer animosity, but while the Warboss is able to beat sense into his charges, the Wolf Riders obligingly charge into the Doombull and his drinking buddies. Further East, the Gors are brought back to reality by a combined charge from the Arachnarok and an Orc Chariot. The rest of the army jostles for good positions and the Orc Great Shaman leaves the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns, presumably sensing that it’s going to get personal with the Minotaurs shortly. We roll 5,1 magic dice and a Night Goblin Shaman makes a poor start, failing to cast Vindictive Gaze at the Raiders. Gork’ll Fix It on the Gors is scrolled as having to re-roll 6s will stop them having even a slight chance against the mighty spider. Foot of Gork stomps on a few Bestigors as the Bray Shaman fails to dispel it with dice. The Spear Chukkas make up for their stellar performance last turn by missing every shot; the Rock Lobber goes one better by misfiring, though it’ll be fine again next turn. It’s a bad turn to be a Gor as the Orc Chariot and Arachnarok kill them in droves. Still, they do a good job in return, taking down the chariot and putting a couple of wounds on the spider, then holding steadfast. The Wolf Riders have just enough time to realise their mistake before the Doombull swats them all single-handedly.
With only 8.5” separating themselves from the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns, the Minotaurs roll up the only possible result (1,1) that fails their charge; a single manly tear rolls down my cheek. The Raiders decided that they’ve had enough of babysitting the Bray Shaman and head off to tackle the Night Goblin Shamans who are sitting out in the open. Everyone else finally gets out of the river and the air is replete with the unholy aroma of wet goat. The Bray Shaman puts all the 4,1 power dice into the boosted version of Savage Beast in anticipation of action next turn, but it fails to cast so once again Justinmatters is left sitting with a load of unused dispel dice. Finally, the Arachnarok scythes through a load more Gors but it’s running out of wounds faster than I’m running out of Gors; they hold steadfast again.
This turn it’s proper fighting time as the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns charge the Minotaurs in the front and an Orc Chariot comes into the flank. The Orc Great Shaman moves to get the maximum benefit for ‘Ere We Go, and with all of the 2,1 power dice, it goes off; I fail to dispel it. The Spear Chukkas, denied their shots on the Minotaurs, get a fantastic three hits (of three) on the Bestigors though they do hold after the massive casualties. I’m expecting terrible things to happen from the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns, but although the Bloodkine is pulled down, I roll armour and ward saves like a champion and actually win combat. Good work Minotaurs! I’m a bit happier about next turn as the craziness is beaten out of the Savage Orcs and their choppa bonus is gone. Almost as good, the Gors pull the last legs off the Arachnarok with the Wargor saving a venom surge. They reform to face flank of the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns at 5 wide as they’re down to less than half strength; horde formation isn’t much use if you can only go two deep anyway.
This is one of the most satisfying parts of playing Beastmen as I declare charges with almost my whole army. The Bestigors go into the flank of the Orc Chariot that’s stuck on the Doombull and the Gors flank the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns. The Ungors catch the Wolf Riders and the Raiders get stuck into the closer of the Night Goblin Shamans; in both cases if they fled they’d have gone off the table. All I need now is a good magic phase to seal the deal so I promptly roll up 2,1 magic dice. They all go into Wildform on the Minotaurs but the Night Goblin sensibly scrolls it. Still, I always feel like I’ve got a puncher’s chance once I make it into combat with a good portion of my army, dependant on match-ups of course. The Raiders shank the pesky Shaman and grin maliciously as they turn to face the other one. Over in the West, the Wolf Riders put up a good show against the Ungors, but they’re outnumbered heavily and are chased off the table. Finally, in the big scrum in the centre, it’s like a pillow fight as everyone ineffectively pokes at each other. Still, the Bestigors smash the Orc Chariot into matchwood and when all is said and done the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns lose by seven. After recent experience (here and here) I’m expecting the Crown of Command on the BSB (even after putting some attacks into him and finding him armoured up to the nines) so when Justinmatters announces he needs snake eyes I’m pretty surprised. Even with a re-roll, he can’t make it and the remnants of the Savage Orc Big ‘Uns flee. Justinmatters has seen enough and offers his hand in surrender, which I gladly take. Victory for the Beastmen!
It was a game with wild swings of luck, but in the end the terrible dice thrown in the main fight in the centre came down a little in my favour. I wasn’t feeling too optimistic in the first couple of turns, but it seems that games with Beastmen are often that way. You take a lot of licks at the start and it feels like you’re just removing handfuls of goats without doing anything in return. But from turn 3 (or 2 if you’re doing well) you can get a lot of combat going on, and a Gor in combat is a happy Gor.
Incidentally, compare the movement of this game against my recent loss to Furycat’s Empire. Here I was largely able to keep my battle line tight together and make use of the general and BSB effects for large portions of my army; even when I took a flank charge (the Orc Chariot into the Minotaurs) I had a counter flank charge with the Bestigors on straight away. In the game against the Empire I had my line strung out across a huge distance and no-one was able to support anyone else. Beastmen benefit greatly from leadership effects thanks to primal fury so the more herds that can get re-rolls or the general’s leadership the better.
As for the Doombull, he is a wrecking ball, that’s for sure. Still, as effective as he may be (and he would have been up to 10 attacks on his own if we’d continued), I am not sure that he’s more fun than the Great Bray Shaman. That’s purely because I find the magic phase entertaining to play with and I find that having only 2 spells, as in this case, means that you have very few options.