For various reasons, it’s been a long time since my Beastmen faced off against Aramoro‘s Bretonnians in the Border Princes campaign. A few turns ago, we agreed to briefly call off hostilities so that both of us could refocus on other threats (the Bretonnians against the Empire, and Beastmen fighting Orcs & Goblins) and though we didn’t intend a permanent cease-fire there was never the opportunity to clash again. In the main, this was because Furycat‘s Empire had driven a wedge across the centre of the map by that point. Anyway, it is always a pleasure to test my mettle against the Bretonnians as they play very differently from Beastmen with heavily armoured cavalry compared to unarmoured infantry. I wasn’t feeling adventurous so I just went for a lot of goats on the table.
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 1, Dispel Scroll, additional hand weapon, Lore of Beasts (BS)
39 Gors, additional hand weapons, full command (G1)
2 x 5 Ungor Raiders, musician (UR1 and UR2)
40 Ungors, full command (U)
5 Harpies, scouts (H)
23 Bestigors, full command, Banner of Discipline (B1)
24 Bestigors, full command, Manbane Standard (B2)
Harpies are so universally disliked (by people who aren’t me) that Aramoro actively spent some time putting anti-Harpy measures in the army list. Otherwise, it’s the usual good stuff: double Trebuchets, a huge block of Men at Arms and bunch of I-can’t-believe-they’re-not-Frenchmen wearing metal trousers and riding on horses.
Bretonnian Lord, Charmed Shield, Heartwood Lance, Knight’s Vow, Other Trickster’s Shard, Virtue of Heroism, Warhorse (BL)
Prophetess, level 4, Dispel Scroll, Lore of Life (P)
Damsel, level 2, Potion Sacre, Lore of Life (D)
Paladin, BSB, Dragonhelm, Knight’s Vow, Virtue of Empathy (BSB)
11 Knights of the Realm, full command, Standard of Discipline (KOTR)
40 Men at Arms, full command (MaA)
3 x 10 Peasant Bowmen (PB1 to PB3)
2 x 5 Mounted Yeomen, shields (MY1 and MY2)
9 Questing Knights, full command (QK)
2 Trebuchets (T1 and T2)
We roll up the Meeting Engagement, which on the whole I like as it means that Beastmen can start relatively close and often sweep their foe into a corner. We have some Blazing Barricades across the centre of the board with a Scree Slope in the East and a Temple of Skulls in the West. The bulding is normal, the swamp is a Khemrian Quicksand and in the South East there is a Magic Circle. The Prophetess rolls first and gets Shield of Thorns, Regrowth, Flesh to Stone and Throne of Vines. Naturally, this leaves the sacrificial Damsel to to get Dwellers Below (she also gets Awakening of the Wood). Meanwhile, the Great Bray Shaman takes Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma, Enfeebling Foe, Withering and Okkam’s Mindrazor and the Bray Shaman has Wyssan’s Wildform (of course). I deploy centrally to give me the most options depending where the Bretonnians inevitably castle up; they make their stand around the building. The Harpies, both herds of Raiders, the Paladin BSB and one unit of Mounted Yeomen are out too late the night before and will come on as reserves. The Beastmen get to move first to try and get out from underneath the barrage of rocks.
The Harpies arrive in the far West and look to either get into mischief or at least force the Bretonnians to do something about them. Both herds of Raiders appear in centrefield, nursing hangovers that Ghorros Warhoof would be proud of. Otherwise, the main battle line just rotates West and starts to close the trap on the pesky humans. Although it’s not really useful so early in the game we get 6,4 magic dice. A low-level Miasma is let through on the Peasants in the bulding (-3BS), but Withering on the Men at Arms fails (despite only needing to roll 9 on four dice) and Wildform on the Gors is dispelled. I hoped that the Withering would use up some dice in a later magic phase (or better yet, not be dispelled at all), and the Wildform was just to make the Gors less appealing as a Trebuchet target; it’s tough to miss such a big herd with artillery.
The Mounted Yeomen and one unit of Peasant Archers move to shoot up the Harpies, and the Questing Knights rush forward round the hill until they are stopped in their tracks by the awesome sight of goaty goodness facing them. Otherwise, no-one is in any hurry to close the distance, although the Paladin rushes onto the field to try and join his Men at Arms. We get 4,3 magic dice and start with an Irresistable Dwellers Below on the Gors. I get lucky, and ‘only’ 10 of them are pulled down to their doom; the miscast kills off a few Peasant Archers, but there’s plenty more where they came from. The Harpies are shot by many arrows and eventually the sorry survivor flees the table. Helpfully, one of the Trebuchets misfires (and can’t fire next turn) while the other misses the Gors by a wide margin.
The somewhat depleted Gors reform to 6 wide (that is also useful to tighten up my battle line as we’re nearly playing lengthwise by this point) and everyone continues to hoof it toward the waiting Bretonnians. The Raider herds take note of the incoming cavalry and move to make themselves unattractive targets; the Bray Shaman joins one to give himself a chance to avoid being hit by a rock or nasty magic. With 4,4 magic dice the Great Bray Shaman puts Miasma on the Northern Peasant Bowmen (-2BS; let through), but the Bray Shaman fails to cast Wildform on the Gors. The Prophetess fails to dispel Enfeebling Foe (-3S) on the Knights of the Realm.
Slightly to my disappointment, the Questing Knights don’t charge the Bestigors, instead moving past to threaten my rear areas. The Paladin joins his Men at Arms, but his outrageous accent is too overpowering for the Prophetess, who leaves the unit and heads behind the building. Magic comes up with a mighty 6,5 dice, but the Bray Shaman uses his Dispel Scroll on a six-dice Dwellers Below, Throne of Vines is dispelled and Awakening of the Wood fails to cast. Not bad at all for such a big phase. In the shooting phase, the Trebuchet lands a direct hit on the Bestigors but amazingly only kills 3 of them.
The Great Bray Shaman urges his herd to charge the building, which they do with gusto. Everyone else just moves up to threaten charges next turn, except the Raiders who do their best to not be charged next turn. The Beastmen Shamans have 5,1 magic dice to use, but Withering on the Men at Arms is dispelled with a Scroll and Miasma fails to cast (though there were plenty of dice to dispel it anyway, so it didn’t matter much). The Great Bray Shaman and his Bestigors wipe out the Peasant Bowmen but fail to even wound the Damsel despite putting five primal fury great weapon attacks into her. This will become a theme. Naturally, she holds and the herd of mighty Beastmen are repelled from the building by a lone woman with an inappropriate dress and a faint smell of garlic.
This time there’s some actual forward movement from the Bretonnians as the Knights of the Realm crash into the waiting Bestigors. The Men at Arms move forward too, presumably to stop the Gors from flanking the Knights of the Realm if they don’t break the Bestigors this turn. Laughing, the Damsel leaves the building by a back door, leaving the Great Bray Shaman, the Bestigors and me cursing her. The Winds of Magic give us 3,2 dice to use. Throne of Vines is let through, but crucially I fail to dispel Flesh to Stone on the Knights of the Realm. Toughness 7 Knights are going to take a bit of cracking, even for Bestigors who usually love to see Knights. After a shooting phase which sees a few more Raiders shot and few more Gors hit by falling rocks, we move the critical combat. The Bestigors put up a decent showing, but Toughness 7 is too much for them and they flee. Luckily, the stone Knights of the Realm are inexplicably slow and fail to catch them.
After roundly cursing the Damsel for a while, I realise that the Great Bray Shaman can actually charge out of his unit at her; she even holds to my surprise. The Gors get stuck into the Men at Arms, and the Ungors eschew the Peasant Bowmen and race past them to spike the Trebuchet (note: it’s only my lack of skill with Battle Chronicler that makes it look like the gap between the Peasant Bowmen and the building is too narrow for the Ungors). After three turns of trying hard not to be charged, one herd of Raiders moves to make it hard not to charge them as they block the Questing Knights (and, conveniently, some Mounted Yeomen) from getting a clear shot at the rear of the Gors. The fleeing Bestigors rally and turn to face their assailants, and the other herd reform to five wide and turn to face the action. It’s another big magic phase with 5,5 power dice. Enfeebling Foe is let through on the Men at Arms (-1S) and then the Withering is cast at them with Irresistable Force (-3T). Both the Great Bray and the Damsel ward the Calamitous Detonation. Finally, Miasma is dispelled. The Ungors easily take out the Trebuchet and reform to face the other one, but the Great Bray Shaman can only manage a single wound on the Damsel. Not surprisingly, the Gors rip the Paladin to bits and shred a good portion of his unit; they hold anyway though.
It’s charge of the Knights as the Questing Knights (and Mounted Yeomen) contact the poor Raiders and the Knights of the Realm have another go at the Bestigors. The Prophetess moves into the building now that the Bestigors have helpfully turned away from it. To make up for the big magic phases so far, we get 1,1 this turn. The Prophetess rolls terribly on Flesh to stone and it is dispelled; note that this also dooms the Men at Arms to remain S1 and T1 as the hexes on them cannot be dispelled. Bowfire also does nothing, but a good hit from the Trebuchet kills seven of the Bestigors next to the building; they hold. My plucky Raiders manage to kill a Questing Knight before being butchered; both cavalry units reform to face the Gors and Bestigors. The Knights of the Realm turn the Bestigors into kebabs and run a few survivors down. To no-one’s surprise, the Men at Arms are hammered and flee with the Gors reforming to face the Questing Knights. Finally, the Damsel manages to ward all four of the wounds she took this turn to survive (and prevent me taking a shot at the Prophetess to boot).
The Ungors charge the remaining Trebuchet, which holds. That’s the last time I’ll write that for this turn. The Bestigors charge the Men at Arms (who must flee) causing them to go through the Peasant Bowmen (who panic and also flee). Then the Gors charge the Questing Knights (who flee) and redirect in the Mounted Yeomen (who also flee). We get 5,2 magic dice, and I put Withering (-1T) on the Damsel. It’s mainly frustration at her ward saves, and Aramoro knows it so lets it though. Wildform is dispelled on the Gors. The Great Bray Shaman finally kills off the Damsel, and the Ungors easily take out the Trebuchet.
Sadly, everyone rallies, including the Men at Arms who manage the 1,1 they need. Everyone else moves up to threaten the Gors. Another pitiful magic phase (2,1) has Regrowth on the Knights of the Realm dispelled, and archery is similarly ineffective.
The Great Bray Shaman charges at the Men at Arms, who flee again, and (again) panic the Peasant Bowmen; this time they go off the board. Otherwise, there’s not much going on as I can’t get any victory points easily anywhere. There’s another 1,1 magic phase, which puts the upgraded Miasma (-1) on the Knights of the Realm just to try and make them roll a little higher to get into the Gors.
After some urging on from Furycat, Aramoro declares that all four cavalry units will charge the Gors. They feel rather surrounded, but at least the Men at Arms flee off the board to give me their juicy victory points. There are 5,2 magic dice but somehow both Shield of Thorns and Flesh to Stone on the Knights of the Realm are dispelled. The Bretonnian Lord skewers the Wargor on impact, but the Gors are not so easily cowed (that would be Minotaurs, of course). There is a lot of death all round but not enough to take out any full Bretonnian units and the Gors end up needing a 6 to hold… which they do. The game ends and we go to add up the scores; Bretonnians: 787, Beastmen: 872. So after all that, it’s a draw. But a great one.
That was a close game, and a lot of fun. The silly thing is that, in terms of the campaign, we’re fighting over the territory of our mutual ally, the High Elves. So whichever army won, there wouldn’t be any advantage to be had. Putting my GM hat on, I guess I’ll rule that both armies stay locked in for another round; however since this is the last campaign turn it doesn’t actually matter in the least. Overall, it’s fitting to be a draw considering all that!
There were a couple of bits of luck that really affected the game. Firstly, that pesky Damsel shrugging off a stupendous number of attacks over four combat rounds stymied me in the critical turns when I could have been setting up to vapourise most of the Bretonnian army. On the flip side, I needed to roll a straight six or less to hold the Gors in combat at the end and avoid giving up a few hundred points (and the game, of course). All credit to Aramoro for throwing the kitchen sink at the Gors to try and pick up the win in the last turn.
Still, I think that this was a really good game to show what I enjoy about playing Beastmen. The first couple of turns were just an unstoppable wall of goat braying their way across the table, and the Bretonnians were forced to break them up and take units on piecemeal. In particular, note Aramoro’s clever use of the building to keep the Prophetess out of trouble; moving in and out as required to stay out of charge arcs. The Western herd of Bestigors were a little disappointing when they faced up against the Knights of the Realm, but getting Flesh to Stone makes a bit difference. Interestingly, I’ve taken the Manbane banner in a few games on a second herd of Bestigors and I don’t think I’ve ever used it at all. Points well spent there…