Furycat and I got our slow grow campaign kicked off with the first of the battles at 500 points. We’ve played out most of the match ups at 500 points just to see if the game breaks too badly (it doesn’t, but only because we’re trying hard to stop it) so there were no surprises here. My list is as noted previously, but for convenience, here it is again.
Miss Madras, Firebelly, additional hand weapon (FB)
Heidi’s lasses, 5 Ironguts, musician (IG)
Helga’s lasses, 3 Leadbelchers (LB)
Blackcat Bone, Sabretusk (ST)
Furycat has a list with its own fluff, which I imagine he’ll post eventually. Anyway, this list is:
Warrior Priest, Opal Amulet, Great Weapon, Heavy Armour (WP)
20 Spearmen (S)
2 x 5 Archers (A1 and A2)
17 Halberdiers, full command (H)
5 Pistoliers, musician (P)
I’m not sure if we had agreed not to randomise missions at this escalation, or if we just forgot to do it, but we ended up with Battle Line. We have a similarly half-baked plan to reduce the number and effects of terrain, but still ended up with 5 pieces. A Mist-Wreathed Swamp in the North East and an Idol of Gork in the North West were both placed with the principle of ‘I don’t want that affecting my army!’. More benignly, we had some Ghost Fences in the centre, a forest in the South West and a Temple of Skulls in the South East. As usual, we forgot about them all anyway, so nothing actually affected the game. My Firebelly swapped something useless (I think it was Cascading Fire Cloak) for Fireball. The Empire win first turn and take it, with the Pistoliers Vanguarding into my face.
Basically everyone moves forward behind the screening Archers, with the exception of the Pistoliers who inevitably park themselves safely out of any charge arcs just to the right of my Ironguts. The Warrior Priest mucks about pointlessly with his spells (mainly just to remind me what the spells are, I suppose) and then the ranged units open fire with an embarrassingly ineffective volley at the Ironguts, managing a single wound between the lot of them.
There’s a long charge on from the Sabretusk at the Western Archers, and they have to hold because fleeing through the Spearmen is a big risk with no BSB available; the stand and shoot reaction takes a wound off my cat before it makes contact. The Ironguts move out the way and the Leadbelchers align to get shots on the Pistoliers and screening Archers. We roll 3,1 magic dice (we’re using D3s for the first couple of escalations) and they all go into a mid-sized Fireball which kills four of the unengaged Archers. I was hoping to get them all and start forcing panic checks. The Leadbelchers shoot down two of the Pistoliers but again they pass their panic check, then the Sabretusk and Archers flail hopelessly at each other.
There’s a bit of shuffling at the back, and the Pistoliers move to safety again, but the main move is the surviving Archer getting up to right in front of the Ironguts. There are 3,3 magic dice and both Hammer of Sigmar and Shield of Faith are cast. The Pistoliers wound a Leadbelcher with some more terrible rolling, and the Sabretusk eats an Archer but the others hold.
I consider my options here. The sensible thing to do is ignore the bait Archer (or, even better, shoot him to death) and concentrate on finishing off the Pistoliers so that I can make my advantage in range count. However, I’m already sick of hearing how bent Ogres are with this army book [turn 2 of the first game of the campaign; possibly not a good sign], so I go for the high risk, high amusement option. I declare the charge with the Ironguts at the Archer (knowing that Furycat will have him flee) and hope to be able to redirect into the Spearmen; I need an 8 to pass the leadership check and another 8 to make the charge. Sadly, the Archer only flees a pitiful distance and the window to the Spearmen doesn’t even open up in the first place, a possibility which I admit I hadn’t even considered. So they end up trampling over the poor chap, staring down both combat blocks with easy charges to make. Oh well. I decide just to roll with it and move the Leadbelchers up in support; this means I have to leave the Pistoliers to their own devices for a while which is always a problem. Magic only gives 1,1, power dice so the Firebelly cooks a few Halberdiers with Fireball, and the Leadbelchers follow up with an inspiring round of shooting which leaves the Halberdiers looking a bit more manageable. Sadly, they don’t panic. The Sabretusk finally gets his act together and eats a couple more Archers but the incensed survivors polish him off.
Not surprisingly, the Halberdiers and Spearmen both make their charges into the Ironguts. The other units just move to annoy the Leadbelchers a bit. With 2,1 magic dice, the Warrior Priest puts them all into Hammer of Sigmar which I am not able to stop. The Pistoliers shoot down a Leadbelcher and the unit panics, fleeing through the Spearmen. The Ironguts put up a decent fight against their foes, but end up down a bit on combat resolution and are run down by both units. In retrospect, I knew that I’d probably lose them so I should have focussed attacks on the Warrior Priest in the hope of getting him out of the way rather than killing rank and file to fruitlessly try to bolster my own combat resolution.
Well, I’ve only got one unit left, and it’s fleeing. Luckily, they rally. The magic phase only gives me 1,1 magic dice, so I put them into a small Fireball which kills another Pistolier.
The Spears and Halberdiers turn round to face again, the Halberdiers swift reforming to head back a bit more. The remaining Pistoliers and Archers stay in safe places to take more wounds off my Ogresses. The winds of magic give 3,2 dice; Hammer of Sigmar is cast but I dispel Shield of Faith. Another Leadbelcher is killed (no panic), leaving me with just two models on the table having achieved almost nothing.
The last two Ogresses move forward. Justinmatters (who is watching) wonders why I don’t charge with them, until I show him the flame template. I roll up 3,2 magic dice and put them all into the medium Fireball. It goes off with Irresistable Force; the Calamitous Detonation wounds both of my miniatures and wipes out the Halberdiers except for the Warrior Priest (who wards his hit on the Opal Amulet). He decided to make a tactical retreat. That was satisfying. Then the Firebelly lays down the perfect breath weapon attack on the Spearmen, killing off 10 of them. That was even more satisfying. Unfortunately, they don’t take either of their opportunities to join the Warrior Priest running away.
All the remaining units (except the Priest, who rallies) charge the Ogresses. Remarkably, all three fail their fear checks and I have a glimmer of hope that I might actually pull this out after all. Sadly, an unholy run of 5s and 6s from Furycat puts that notion to rest as the Leadbelcher is killed anyway and the Firebelly (down by a lot on combat resolution) is unable to must Insane Courage and is run down. Victory for the Empire.
That was a good game, and it felt like we both had chances to win it. I could have been comfortable if I’d played the safe option with the Ironguts on turn 2, but I don’t mind taking a few risks if they might end up with entertaining results. I would have liked to start the campaign with a win, but at least Furycat gets to do that instead.