Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Clash Of Might - A Warhammer Battle

Somewhere in the mists of time a group of gamers convened and conspired to fight a Warhammer battle the like of which has not been seen at their local club in over three years. This is their tale…….

On the side of sugar, spice and all things nice:
Empire - Aidan “Emperor Karl Franz” (6,000pts)
High Elves - Red “Some Pointy-Eared on a dragon“ (3,500pts)

"The Emperor Karl Franz"

"The Git on his dragon"

Completing the alliance currently know as ‘Evil‘:
Goblins - Chris Fry “Grom the Paunch” (2,500)
Chaos - Chris Fazey “Dastardly entity from the warp” (2,500pts)
Undead & Skaven - Rick/Me “Brian Von Carstein“ (5,000pts)

"Brian Von Carstein"

"Grom the Paunch (after his latest diet)"

"An Estate Agent - aka Daemon Horror from the magical realms"

The Rules:
The current set of Warhammer Fantasy rules were used (7th ed.), with just a few clarifications to ensure each side operated as an army rather than several different entities, and these follow; There was one general on each side (the Emperor Karl Franz for the armies of good, and the representative of the Von Carstein family for the forces of evil). Each side generated two dice for castings/dispelling magic.
The result of the battle was decided using the old rules of one victory point per 100pts, or part of 100pts, destroyed (e.g. a Chaos unit worth 455pts was worth 5 VP when destroyed). We began play around 11am, using a time limit of 30 minutes per sides turn (any actions not completed by then were lost or drawn in the case of combats), and had a finishing time of 6pm. The battlefield was 12ft by 6ft in size, with each side allowed to deploy up to 24” on from their side. Finally on the day sheets of polystyrene and cardboard were used to create a ‘fog of war‘ effect so that both sides set up at the same time without know how the other was deploying.

The (Evil) Plan:
Being on the side of Evil I can only comment on the dastardly plans we hatched, maybe the forces of good will even the balance at some point.

The lack of a traditional Goblin horde (all too busy sowing or something similar) brought some of the more stereotypically evil participants to the fore, with my Von Carstein Vampire Count leading a motley crew of Ratmen, Goblins, Chaos warriors and shuffling dead things against their foe (note: the Vampire was the army general only due to the need to keep the undead marching, the Chaos Daemon Prince or Grom the Paunch would probably have been a better choice!).
With the battlefield obscured by a primitive version of the fog of war the decision was made to put the undead infantry alongside the goblins in the centre, with the ratties guarding their flanks on both sides. The extreme left flank was viewed the most open and the swifter units placed there (the undead dragon, Black Coach and fell bats deploying alongside Grom the Paunch’s chariots and his wolf-riders). The right flank was an almost entirely Chaos affair with the disciples of Slaanesh facing the hills and village.

The rough plan was to advance swiftly with the left flank and try to break through whatever faced them before rolling up the enemy left to right using our quick shock troops, while the infantry centre pinned them in their deployment zone so they couldn‘t react. The Chaos forces were to crush the forces facing them in the village and prevent re-enforcements being sent to help anywhere else.

"Freakish roll on the scenery table...."

The Enemy and their deployment:
Our prediction that the Elves would be facing out left flank, and the Empire our right was correct, with the elf cavalry looking to try the same trick as us, and the Empire centre bulging with infantry, heavy cavalry and guns! My initial worries that the battlefield would be too big were banished, it now looked too small with all the models on it! Having managed to win the roll to pick a side, we now won the roll to go first.

"The Foe"

"The whole damn show"

Early Days:
The bloodiest encounter at the start was on our left where the elves cavalry charged straight into the wolf riders and the fell bats, both of which evaporated swiftly! However, a counterattack by Grom and the Black Coach saw them off swiftly. We did run into a problem with the fields of corn, which, following an in-depth read of the rules turned out to be difficult terrain, and would cramp our attempts at breaking through in the early turns.

"Undead and Chaos advance"

"Elven wall of spearmen"

"Initial clashes on the (Evil) left"
On our right the Chaos charged towards the edge of the village, whereupon most of their targets turned tail! Throughout the battle very few troops would run from the board due to the depth of the deployment zones. Most would rally and return - except for our wolf riders who fled on turn one never to be seen again - the gits! The Empire general moved up his steam tank and heavy cavalry ready for the test the numerous Chaos warriors and monstrous creatures would present.

"forces of evil moving up in the centre and right"

In the centre the Goblins and undead advanced, with the compulsory fanatics immediately lured out by pistoliers, although the horsemen regretted their generals decision! Magic was mainly ineffective, and proved so throughout due to the number of dispell dice, the size of the armies, and an abnormal number of miscasts, mostly by the high elves. Some success was had by the Chaos in casting scary spells, but the location of Karl Franz on the Empire left meant that sturdy leadership was had by all and nobody ran.

High Elf collapse:
The loss of their cavalry turned out to be the beginning of a catastrophe for the elves on turns 2-4. The Vampire on his zombie dragon had flown in to challenge the elf noble on his white dragon, and subsequently killed him. Then, while chasing the dragon down, it also managed to panic large sections of the elf army, with spearmen, archers and swordsmen fleeing, leaving them open to the attacks of Grom, his Goblins, the giant (who recovered from his fear of elf archery just long enough to come out from behind his building and be pin cushioned anyway), and the skaven clanrats. With the elves falling like ninepins the Empire general declared his allies army to be lost, and moved up troops to cover his right flank.

"The elves before it all went wrong"

"The elves afterwards..."
Middle Days:
The initial Chaos attack on the right had been slowed by the firepower of the Empire troops, and now suffered from a number of carefully planned counterattacks using heavy cavalry. The loss of the Daemon Prince leader, and his pet Shaggoth (the latter to a hell blaster), was keenly felt, and the Chaos warrior units were not in a position to avenge them due to the scenery and slow movement conspiring against them.

"Empire troops holding the village"

"The Empire counter attacks being prepared"

In the midst of the disaster which was the elf army a ray of light gleamed on turn 3 as the Vampire Lord on his dragon was ironically killed by a giant stake from a bolt thrower, and the dragon collapsed into dust before the elf archers, defeated by a rank bonus and the enemies numerous nature.

The undead impacted into the Empire centre, and after two turn of bitter fighting had managed to push them back over the central hill and make inroads towards their rear. However on the way through they had lost both their cavalry (destroyed by the White Wolves), and their skaven and goblin flank protectors; the goblins, sensing blood, had gone after the remains of the elves, while the skaven plague monks were tied up trying to deal with the rampaging white wolves.

"Chaos reigns as the Undead reach the Empire lines"

End Days:
At this point, with VP’s and the whole game having been very even so far, it all fell apart for the Evil alliance. The good news in turns 5 and 6 was that the remains of the elves on the left were being gradually ground away towards extinction by the skaven, Grom and the Goblins. The bad news was there was a disaster about to happen in the centre to the undead, and on the right to the Chaos.

The undead wedge that had driven into the centre of the empire lines had been hit in its unprotected flank by empire reserves lead by the (so far mainly anonymous) Emperor Karl Franz on his griffon. Already stuck in combat with the near invincible pikemen, the undead were overcommitted on the ‘needing to raise reserves’ front, and began to swiftly fade away.
To their the right the plague monks had finally managed to drive off the knights of the white wolf, only to discover themselves alone due to a general Chaos withdrawal in the direction of ye olde city of Manchester (the, now banished, Daemon Prince had muttered something about prior commitments in the daemonic haunting department during the build-up, but the rest of the forces of evil had hoped to have moved onto the celebratory squig beer and blood banks before such an eventuality arose).

As the Goblins continued to work their way through the (astonishingly inept) sword masters of hoeth and spearmen on the evil left, the undead finally collapsed (literally) in the centre, with the evil general meeting the Emperor in single combat (“its just you, me, my hammer of sigmar………oh, and my 40 guards!”). The vampire fell to the hammer just before the combat resolution finished him off.

"Brian Von Carstein loses out to the Emperor and his bigger weapon"

The final part was played out by a 475pt Chaos Warrior unit which was been in the Goblin reserve all game, and now charged into the Emperor looking for death and glory. They discovered the Emperor still had many, many friends, and that their own weapons were made of foam just before they got the death part of their wish.

"The last act"

On this suitable note the battle ended on turn 6 just before the time limit of 6pm, with few evil troops (or elves!) left on the battlefield, and Good winning by 58 VP‘s to evils 27.

Up to turn 4 the victory points were tied, and it suddenly went all wrong for the baddies! The elves had collapsed in a truly spectacular way in the first few turns, and only became more resilient once they were reduced to approximately 20 models. The Empire, however, stood its ground and magnificently dealt with everything that came its was, including the 2,500pts of Chaos Warrior army, and the nearly 2,500pts of Undead and skaven that tried to chew its way through the centre.

In hindsight my own problems came when my undead attack became disjoined due to charging the pikemen early with zombies and grave guard, and, more importantly, losing my right-sided skaven and chaos flank support which gave the much-vaunted empire ‘second line’ its opportunity to hit all of my shuffling units in the flank.

In game terms it was an excellent day and it was very enjoyable playing Warhammer on such a large battlefield. The fog of war rules at the start provided some surprises, and shortened the setting up time, while the 30 minutes rule kept the momentum going and we fitted in 6 turns between 11am and 6pm.

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