Friday, 9 May 2008

Wednesday 30 April, 2008: Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

After the disastrous battle against the dwarves, a great lord of Brettonia saw that his lands were in peril from the stumpy invaders. He sent word for his knights to gather and soon assembled a mighty army. Seeing this host arrayed against their dwindling force, the dwarves sought desperately for allies. Bordering the land of this noble Brettonian lord was a forest which was home to a small enclave of wood elves. They had lived happily here for centuries but now the greed of humans was becoming apparent as Brettonian peasants had begun cutting into their forest for wood and to create more agricultural land. So it was that when the Thane who led the dwarf army swallowed his pride and approached the elves for assistance they were only too happy to assist.

When lord Currain’s army was assembled, he mounted his hippogriff and took wing to lead his forces to destiny. 2000 points of Brettonians (due to a pretty damn hectic day of gluing) faced off against 1000 points each of dwarves and wood elves. Would lord Currain be able to defend his lands or would the elder races prevail to take new lands to settle?

Dwarves (Olly): Thane with horrifying runic weapon; Dragon Slayer with likewise; 10x thunderers; 1 cannon with master engineer and some runes; 20x miners with command group and blasting charges (oh, god!); 15x warriors with command group; 10x rangers with throwing axes and command group.

Wood Elves (Johnny): level 2 spell singer; some kind of eternal guard hero; 2(12x) glade guard with command groups; 10x eternal guard (I think); 6x way watchers; 6x war dancers; 12x dryads. (apologies if this list isn’t quite right)

Brettonians (Carl): Lord Currain with all kinds of magic trinkets and a hippogriff; paladin with battle standard, barded horse, magic banner of twilight; paladin with great weapon, barded horse, questing vow; level 2 damsel with barded warhorse; 5x questing knights with command group; 4x Pegasus knights with standard bearer; 5x knights of the realm; 6x knights of the realm with command group; 9x knights errant with command group and magic banner of shalloms; 2(16x) peasant bowmen with command groups; 2(15x) men at arms, one with command group and 1 with spears.

I set the terrain up and felt that it was a good compromise on open areas of dwarf slaughter and cover. With such a large army I was forced to spread it a little and so created 3 groups. My right flank was held by an archer unit, all of the close combat peasants and lord Currain himself. My centre group had the Pegasus knights, knights errant and the unit of knights of the realm with the army battle standard bearer whose magic banner would allow them to charge the gun-bristling hill across a difficult terrain grave yard. My left flank was led by the questing knights and their paladin with an archer unit lending support and the other knights of the realm.

On my right flank the archers began a long range shooting match with a unit of glade guard – both sides proving only average shots. Even so, it kept those units still and busy. The peasants marched up behind a nearby hill to protect them from the firepower of their adversaries and were awed to see their lord’s terrifying mount gliding over their heads to land effortlessly on the hill to wait for them. The Pegasus knights were preparing to fly over a wood in front of them when a small band of elite elven archers emerged from the foliage. One man was wounded by an arrow but their armour protected themselves from the worst. Giving praise to the lady that their lances would be bloodied so soon, the unit charged the way watchers and ran them down to a man. In search of more pray, the flying cavalry settled on the roof of a building (looked cool but rather complicated rules issues). Braving the missiles of their enemies (and giving thanks that the thunderers were set up on a hill at the back of their lines) the main cavalry force spurred their mounts to the gallop in preparation for a second turn charge.

Revenge was swift and terrible. Cannon balls ploughed through the knights errant, felling several of their number. Elven arrows landed all around and a couple more brave men fell. Even lord Currain was not spared as 2 arrows pierced the hide of his mount. The stage was set now though for the lord to press his attack.

The peasants trundled happily on – a major feature of their performance this game, but at least they all survived). The right hand archers prepared to fire on their elven adversaries but their shots were not clear as the mighty lord Currain swept down on them. Too close to draw a bow at the terrifying monster, the elves strove to free their hand weapons but they were no match for the skill of Currain and the brute force of his mount. The survivors scattered and ran but were chased down and killed. The Pegasus knights once more took wing and couched their lances for a charge against the eternal guard. They tore through the elite elven troops but their enemies held firm. The elven hero fought back valiantly but the armour of the knights once again stood firm against the majority of their attacks. The paladin charged with bearing the battle standard for lord Currain spurred his horse to the charge, loosing the magic woven into the venerable banner so that the tomb stones would fade before him and the knights of his household. They thundered towards the line of elven archers on their hill-top vantage. Arrows whistled around them but there was no time to mourn the 2 brave souls who fell from their saddles. The rest struck home, sunlight flashing from their lance tips and the steel of the paladin’s sword. The survivors of their surprised enemies scattered before them and were run down in their panic (are you starting to see the pattern here?)

Now the army had closed though the missiles of the elder races were more telling. Arrows and bullets rattled like rain from the armour of the brave knights and it was inevitable that some would fall. Again the cannon fired and cut a bloody swathe through the knights errant. They were also caught by a surprise attack from dwarf rangers who emerged from their hiding place behind a building. Their throwing axes brought down several more horses. The intrepid survivors charged bravely to meet this new threat but were too few. The stragglers broke off and galloped from the field. The advancing Questing knights and their accompanying knights of the realm were ambushed by dryads who charged from the woods which had concealed them. After a fierce fight however the tree-creatures were routed and the knights moved on towards the dwarf firing line.

Seeing the embattled flying cavalry were preoccupied by the elven elites, the nearby dwarf dragon slayer charged into their flank. He surprised the knight charged with guarding that vulnerable position and wounded him. He only received a minor injury however and fought back, slaying his attacker. The remaining knights redoubled their efforts and finally defeated the stubborn elves who, along with their lord, were scattered among a cluster of buildings as they retreated.

Then the tides began to turn. My damsel, who had summoned an irresistible cloud to pour a deluge of rain on the cannon, completely failed to affect its stock of gun powder. The wily dwarf engineers were able to find dry stocks for the rest of the engagement. Seeing that her magic was prevailing, the troops of the elder alliance redoubled their efforts. Drawing on ever-deepening threads of power, the damsel over-exerted herself and was overcome by the warp. As her body was consumed, her horse took fright and bolted. His warp-touched, mutated form was never seen again by mortal men - although tales are told of a dark thing which haunts the countryside. When darkness falls, shutters and doors are barred as the chilling whinny of the Black Horse echoes through the trees.

Despite the apparent rout of the wood elf contingent, the eventual Brettonian victory was not without its price. On the left flank the dwarf Thane led a unit of elf War Dancers in a counter attack. A duel, which would have been sung of in legends if the bard-playing questing knight hadn’t been killed, between the Thane and the questing paladin resulted in the Thane’s demise. With his death, the resistance on that flank broke down. The knights of the realm swept past this combat to slaughter the dwarf thunderers and drive them from the field. On this flank to, the miners became involved in the bitter fighting and they took a horrible toll on both knightly units before they were routed. Much to the despair of his men, lord Currain was also fatally wounded. He had led the charge around the left flank, with the intact body of peasants trudging wearily far behind him. He launched an attack on the central hill from which the cannon continued to blast his men. The fiendish dwarf engineer loaded with grape shot and a particularly hard bit felled his steed. He tumbled from the body of his dead hippogriff as it fell from the sky and was killed by the fall. The last remaining Pegasus knight – personal guards of the lord – saw his master’s demise. He alone vanquished the cannon’s entire crew in close combat.

The game was a Brettonian victory although the celebrations were somber indeed with the lord’s son – having to abandon his quest for the grail and wounded himself in the fighting – now running the estates. Almost all of the peasants survived – only a few archers having died from long range fighting with the wood elves in the early stages of the combat and a close ranged fight with axe-throwing dwarf rangers at the end. The Pegasus knight left the field in a valiant retreat and bore the body of his dead lord with him. After fighting through the centre of the battle, Currain’s standard bearer found himself alone – the knights of his household having been cut down around him. Eventually he to was felled in combat with the deadly dwarf miner unit but his sacrifice bought time for the remains of the army to mount the decisive final attack. There was great rejoicing when the standard bearer returned to Currain’s castle during the funeral of his lord. He still had the tattered standard with him and was recovering from his wounds. His horse was dead. The lord’s standard was laid to rest with him in his tomb and the colours of his son were raised above the castle to shine under the morning sun.

Sorry the story isn’t all that good – it was quite fun to write though. The game was fantastic with some characterful incidents and a final success for all this terrifying cavalry the tactics forums keep going on about. I made a fantastic number of both armour and ward saves (there should never be a time when a Brettonian army doesn’t pray to receive this benefit in a game). The elves were hideously unlucky both in combat dice roles and break tests and as they retreated in short order, causing very few casualties in return, the other half of the alliance army could not contain the Brettonian cavalry. The medieval-themed army has captured my imagination utterly and I look forward to their next outing. This, with hindsight, should be on Wednesday 14 May where we should also see the first outing of Johnny’s new Vampire Counts undead army. We may have also nearly convinced Olly to use a dwarf gyrocopter as well. Check back for that wild ride.

Commander Portman


Tori_z said...

Personally, I thought it was a pretty good story, and very interesting to read. I much prefer reading your accounts of your games than playing the games myself. Not that I don't like the games, but your descriptions make them seem more exciting.

Congrats on the Britonian victory, :)

Miffyslove said...

you forgot the detonating cannon.... but trez bon write up. Hope wales is going well

Tori_z said...

So... How's the gaming going?

Tori_z said...

You're getting really behind on these updates now. :(