It’s the final turn of the Border Princes campaign, and my first game is against Furycat’s Empire. With the advent of the new (i.e. 8th edition) army book for the Empire, I had no idea what to expect, so I just went for a minor variation on my usual army, i.e. lots of bipedal goats of varying sizes.
Great Bray Shaman, level 4, Steel Claws, Jagged Dagger, Talisman of Preservation, Lore of Shadow (GBS)
Wargor, BSB, Gnarled Hide, Beast Banner, heavy armour, shield (BSB)
Bray Shaman, level 2, Dispel Scroll, extra hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
39 Gors, extra hand weapon, full command (G1)
20 Gors, extra hand weapon, full command (G2)
37 Ungors, full command (U1)
2 x 5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
5 Harpies, scouts (H)
23 Bestigors, full command, Standard of Discipline (B1)
24 Bestigors, full command, Manbane Standard (B2)
Furycat purchased the new Empire army book on the day of release and has been vocal about its shortcoming in the time since, but this was his first opportunity to put anything to work on the table [note: in the time it’s taken between us playing this game and me actually writing it up, Furycat has posted some thoughts on the current Empire army book, which I highly recommend reading]. I didn’t actually take a copy of his list, but it was (roughly):
Templar Grand Master, knightly stuff, Runefang (G)
Wizard Lord, level 4, Lore of Shadow (WL)
Luthor Huss (LH)
Captain, BSB, protective stuff (BSB)
Witch Hunter (WH)
60 Spearmen, full command (S)
8 Inner Circle Knights, full command (K)
20 Crossbowmen, standard (C1)
Celestial Hurricanum (CH)
Steam Tank (ST)
As previously mentioned, we’d agreed that we would play Storm of Magic games (the basic scenario) to replace Battle Line if we rolled that. Furycat’s not keen on Storm of Magic as it’s too random for his strategic ‘may the best man win’ tastes, but he accepted that we’d go for it if that came up. And it did. So after agonising over his list for hours, he had to go back and pick another 500 points of monsters or crazy magic items; I got 550 points. Luckily we had Aramoro and Forkbanger respectively on hand for advice since they’ve played quite a few games of Storm of Magic.
So the Beastmen added:
Zoat, level 4, Lore of Life (not that he has any choice) (Z)
4 Royal Unicorns (RU)
The Zoat was selected because it gave me chance to use the Lore of Life for the first time. But that wasn’t the main reason: after all, wouldn’t you choose a Zoat if you could? I guess the Royal Unicorns were told that Ghorros Warhoof’s magic hat was actually the skull of a completely different horned horse-like creature of the forest, and not at all the one formerly belonging to the Prince of Unicorns. Anyway, the Empire were joined by:
Chimera, some upgrades (C2)
Truthsayer, level 3, Lore of Life (T)
Apart from the four Arcane Fulcrums, we had the usual mish-mash of deadly to forget to use. This time there was a mist-wreathed swamp in the East that no-one went in (not that I blame them), a Sinister Statue that never fired at anything and a few forests and assorted obstacles. For simplicity, I’ve used the same tower picture for all four Fulcrums, but in reality we used the excellent models that Forkbanger has painted. Magic got messy. The Wizard Lord had Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe, Withering and Pit of Shades while the Truthsayer took Regrowth, Awakening of the Wood and Dwellers Below. Over on my side of the table, the Great Bray Shaman had Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe, Withering and Okkam’s Mindrazor; the Bray Shaman had Savage Beast of Horros and Wyssan’s Wildform and finally the Zoat has Throne of Vines, Flesh to Stone, Regrowth and Dwellers Below (after all, everyone else seems to think it’s amazing). Finally, the Witch Hunter takes the somewhat redundant step of accusing the Great Bray Shaman of heresy.
The game begins with the Steam Tank generating three steam points and zooming a terrifying 15” into some unfortunate Raiders. The Knights canter up to 13.1“ away from the Gor herd, presumably to reduce the odds of taking a ridiculous long charge, and the rest of the centre moves up to keep pace. The Lore of Beasts is Ascendant but it’s manipulated round to Light (which also does nothing, so no change). The winds of magic give us 13 power dice to 9 dispel dice. I dispel the Hurricanum’s bound spell and Shield of Faith fails to cast. Magical Duel from the Truthsayer is dispelled but Bridge of Shadows is let through, moving the Chimera behind the Gors, facing their rear and Hammer of Sigmar is also let through. Saving dispel dice doesn’t help as Dwellers Below is Irresistibly cast on the Great Bray’s Bestigor herd. Helpfully, he doesn’t jump down a magical hole this time, though 10 Bestigors do. Magical Feedback does nothing, but then it’s on to the event we’ve all been waiting for – the cataclysmic miscast. We are not disappointed, as all the wizards are turned into frogs [note for simplicity: I put a little starburst next to the Wizards for each magic phase in which they’re a frog]. After that, the rest of the turn can’t help but be a bit of a let down, as the Crossbows kill a few Ungors and the Steam Tank runs over the Raiders (though neither herd nearby panics).
Following the standard Steam Tank abatement plan, the surviving herd of Raiders charge into the side of the metal behemoth, and the Unicorns fabulously charge the suspiciously froggy Truthsayer perched on top of his Fulcrum. Sadly, he does stop being a frog in the magic phase, along with the Zoat. I have 12 power dice to Furycat’s 9 dispel dice, and Metal is the Ascendant Lore. Throne of Vines and Magical Duel are both dispelled, but Regrowth does get me back some of the Bestigors. I try getting in on the six-dice Dwellers action, but it is Irresistibly dispelled. To no-one’s surprise, the Raiders do nothing to the Steam Tank, but the Unicorns have a great run at the Turthsayer. Only one can attack him due to the Fulcrum, but it wounds him twice, he fails both 3+ wards and then fails stubborn 8 leadership and flees for his life. Improbable, but highly satisfying.
Now that the Steam Tank can fight back, it spends three steam points to grind those pesky Raiders into a thin paste. The Chimera and the Knights both charge the Gors, and Furycat is suspiciously careful to line up the Grand Master for a shot on the Wargor. Failing another leadership test, the Truthsayer continues his sprint for the table edge. Both the Beastmen Shamans return to normal form, but the Wizard Lord obligingly stays amphibious. The Lore of Beasts is Ascendant, and there are 13 power dice to 7 dispel dice. I let the Hurricanum through on the Harpies, and it kills 4 of them between the bad weather and the Lore attribute; the last one doesn’t panic. Hammer of Sigmar is dispelled, but I can’t stop Shield of Faith. A couple of shots from the Witch Hunter at the Great Bray Shaman both miss despite his rerolls to hit, and the Crossbowmen shoot a few more Ungors. In the main event, Furycat is delighted as the Grand Master easily kills off the Wargor with his Runefang, and a whole lot of other Gors go with him. They do manage to put a wound on the Chimera and drag three Knights off their horses though. The result is that the Gors lose heavily but are steadfast. Following the Truthsayer’s shining example, they fail their break check anyway and flee, getting run down by the Chimera while the Knights reform. To add insult to injury, the Great Bray Shaman’s Bestigor herd and the Ungor herd panic and also head for the pub. So where there was once a mighty battle line of bleating goat men, there is now nothing but some triumphant Knights and a scattering of fleeing victims. Looking back, I probably had this coming to me after the Truthsayer’s antics.
With nothing much else useful to do, the Harpy charges into the Witch Hunter, the Bestigors who aren’t fleeing like little girls charge the Knights (a match up I’m much happier about, even with that Grand Master in there) and the Gors in the far West try to show that they’re contributing a little and charge the Wizard Lord, who sadly stops being a frog. The fleeing Bestigors pull themselves together, but the Ungors continue running right up to the table edge. Death is Ascendant and I have 17 power dice to 10 dispel dice. This should be good. Furycat sensibly dispels Wildform on the Bestigors, but I follow up with Hunters Moon (sort of like a super version of Wildform that affects your whole army) with Irresistible Force. A Calamitous Detonation does nothing of note, but the cataclysmic miscast is a Power Siphon, allowing the Wizard Lord to put Miasma (-2 WS) on the Bestigors in combat. The Zoat tries again for Dwellers Below, getting Irresistible Force this time and sucking 30 Spearmen (but sadly not the Captain) into a hole in the ground. Not bad. The Magical Feedback wounds the Zoat and then we get ‘Was it just me or did the world move?’ on the cataclysmic miscast table. It’s a slight let down that the only movement is the Bray Shaman swapping to the previously empty Fulcrum as the other two Wizards get teleported to the exact place they started. The Wizard Lord gets to enjoy his reprieve from frogginess as the Foe Render does nothing to him and the Gors bounce back from the Fulcrum; elsewhere the Witch Hunter makes short work of the foolish Harpy. In the main event, the Grand Master does his thing (i.e. kill one Bestigor for each of his attacks) and Luthor Huss turns into the Incredible Hulk and kills some more. In return the Bestigors smite the Knights down to just the champion and hold (they lost anyway despite a good round of combat).
The Spearmen realise that they can just see the corner of the Gors peeking out from the Fulcrum and charge in for a ridiculously minimised combat. The Steam Tank goes for it with 5 steam points and tonks over to the engaged Bestigors. It needs to make 14” on three dice and I breathe a sigh of relief as it makes it 13” across the table. Apparently the Truthsayer left the gas on at home as he fails yet another chance to rally and finally leaves the table. With the Lore of Fire Ascendant we have 9 power dice against 6 dispel dice. I dispel Miasma on the Bestigors in combat, Scroll Withering and dispel Hammer of Faith. With no dispel dice left to stop it, Furycat rolls 1,1 casting Shield of Faith (needing only 3) with Luthor Huss. There’s some sort of pathetic pillow fight between the Spearmen and Gors with only 3 casualties in total but the Gors are scared off by the size of the Captains
moustache flag and run away (they get away thanks to swiftstride granted by Hunters Moon). Meanwhile, the three amigos kill off a few more Bestigors but are all cut down mercilessly in return. With that, Furycat has seen enough. Victory for the Beastmen!
That was a highly entertaining game, with ridiculous leadership checks defining both sides. I admit I was highly surprised that Furycat agreed to play Storm of Magic at all, but it turned out to be abnormally… normal. Still, the odds were in my favour all the way with a points advantage combined with Furycat’s unfamiliarity with his new army book.