Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Battle of Hel Fenn, Part 1

A 20,000 point battle report
Setting up took a while
Count Mannfred Von Carstein surveyed his lines as the last of his troops lurched into position. All was in readiness. Turning, he gazed out from the edges of the fenland and across the plain beyond, to the hills on the other side. The remnants of the cold morning mists lingered over the marshland, however he could still make out the shapes of the enemy soldiers as they prepared for battle. His foes also appeared to be ready... Or at least, they thought they were ready.

Mannfred smiled evilly to himself. His enemies thought they had him cornered, at the end of a long and brutal war. For a long time now (years, in fact), he had been making a fighting withdrawal and they thought his strength to be spent. But they had followed him all the way into Sylvania – the seat of the Vampire Counts' strength – and they had no idea what awaited them. The surface of the fens was still, betraying no hint of the restless dead waiting to obey his will. The foolish human cattle thought they had his match today, but he had more than enough forces hidden to change all of that. Once he had dealt with this alliance of Dwarfs and men, there would be little strength to repel him when his legions ventured forth once more. This battle would be the beginning of the end for the vulnerable Empire.


Count Martin von Kristallbach stood behind the lines, conferring with his captains and Kallad Stormwarden, the leader of the Dwarf force that stood side-by-side with his own Empire coalition. Kallad was visibly impatient, constantly tensing his grasp on the haft of the axe at his side. Martin understood his eagerness – finally he had the chance to face the Vampires that had destroyed his kin and hold – Karak Sadra would live on in the Great Book of Grudges and the hearts and minds of the Dwarfs, but its people were all but gone. After years of fleeing, Von Carstein had finally turned to fight – a mistake they did not intend to let him live to regret.

The Empire right flank was still a hive of activity, despite the relative calm across the rest of the line. The cavalry arrayed there were late arrivals – the Grand Theogonist Kurt III himself had arrived in the early hours of the morning at the head of a strong contingent of Knights. He had been pursuing Mannfred since besting him at the siege of Altdorf, and his arrival did much for the Empire cause. With his newly bolstered forces, Martin was confident that he finally had the strength available to put an end to the Vampire menace for good.

The thud of hooves announced the approach of a knight in heavily gilded armour, his visor raised to show a dark and grizzled face. “I am Markus Leichhardt, master of the Order of the Divine Sword,” he introduced himself with a curt bow in the saddle. “Herr Count, I place my men at your disposal. We came as soon as we heard that the abomination Gothard the Undying was in the enemy's midst. We mean to put an end to him for good.”

You and your knights are most welcome, Master Leichhardt,” Martin acknowledged him with a nod. “Reports do indeed put the Wight Lord Gothard at Von Carstein's side.” Beside him, the Dwarf Kallad growled at the mention of the accursed vampire's name. Martin turned to look at him as he continued, “there are many here with a debt to settle with the undead host. I'm sure we'll all get our chance soon enough.”

Even as he spoke, the air over the enemy lines crackled with unnatural lightning, and the deafening peals of thunder that followed all but covered the sound of the undead army as it began its advance. “In fact,” said Martin, “it seems that time is now upon us. Everyone to your posts, and may Sigmar be with us.”


All set?
Deployment for both sides was partly dictated by the scenario, with both sides having been broken into 3 roughly even parts. The Vampire Counts had a fast left flank commanded by Gothard the Undying Knight, including Abraxas Von Carstein, a Vampire Lord on a Zombie Dragon, and Gothard's main regiment of 32 Black Knights, which included Gothard's personal banner bearer.
The Vampire Count left flank
The centre was commanded by Mannfred Von Carstein himself, and focused mainly on infantry, including 2 large units of Grave Guard as well as Ghouls, Skeletons and Zombies. Mannfred's Battle Standard Bearer commanded a regiment of 13 Black Knights.
Mannfred Von Carstein himself. Note that though the guys had numerous actual Mannfred figures, they were all mounted and they were not comfortable making the grand high poobah of their combined force such a relatively vulnerable target. Pete's old Vampire Lord got the gig instead.
The Vampire Count centre, before Vanguards and with a rogue unit of Swordsmen having wandered onto the field.
The Vampire Count right was commanded by Adolphus Krieger, and was again mostly infantry. At the heart of this force was a regiment of 144 Ghouls, led by a Strigoi Ghoul King. The right flank also contained the bulk of the Ethereal units in the army.
The Vampire Count right flank
The Empire army deployed with a fort anchoring the right of the centre, which cramped deployment and resulted in a few units bending the rules and dropping into space on either flank. The right flank was predominantly cavalry, including 40 Knights of the Divine Sword led by their Grand Master and the army Battle Standard, and 40 Knights with great weapons, led by the slightly unhinged Dietrich Jaeger. The right flank was commanded by the Grand Theogonist Kurt III, on a War Altar.
The Empire right flank, loaded with cavalry
Grand Theogonist Kurt III on his War Altar. For our game, Kurt was showing his Ulric-loving side, since nobody has seen fit to paint up a Sigmarite War Altar.
Dietrich Jaeger, the disgraced general whose desire to redeem himself led to his demise and that of many of his knights in the historical battle.
The Empire centre was led by Count Martin himself, leading his personal guard of 40 Knights. These went hard to the left of the centre, seriously considering breaking ranks and heading for the left to intercept the massive regiment of Ghouls, to which the Dwarf army had little answer. The rest of the force was infantry, including 3 units of 60 Halberdiers. Count Martin's eccentric uncle, Gerhardt von Kristallbach, was also present, on his trusty Griffon. 35 Free Company deployed in control of the fort.
Elector Count Martin von Kristallbach of Stirland, overall commander of the Empire and Dwarf alliance
The fort, occupied by the regiment of Free Company
The left flank was held by the Dwarf army led by Kallad Stormwarden. Whilst Kallad led one of 3 units of Hammerers, the main regiments on the flank were 50 Longbeards with great weapons, 50 Warriors, and 2 units of 30 Slayers each led by a Daemon Slayer. 40 Empire Swordsmen also managed to slip onto the left flank as a result of the big squeeze in the middle.
The Dwarf flank
Both sides included a number of units with Vanguard, with Dire Wolves and Pistoliers both advancing onto the field.

Anyway, the maps should give you the full picture. Enough with the details, let's get on with the story...
The deployment of both sides, including Vanguard moves
A more detailed version of the map can be found here.

The Armies
(More detailed army lists, including the character and scenario special rules, can be found here. Note that the lists were tweaked very slightly on the day, so some differences do exist).

Mannfred Von Carstein's Undead Legion

  • Mann Mannfred Von Carstein
  • Goth Gothard the Undying
  • Adlph Adolphus Krieger
  • BSB 1 Mannfred's BSB
  • BSB 22 Gothard's BSB
  • BSB 21 Adolphus' BSB
  • ZDrag Abraxas Von Carstein on Zombie Dragon
  • Var1 Varghulf 1
  • Var2 Varghulf 2
  • Var3 Varghulf 3
  • Var4 Varghulf 4
  • Var5 Varghulf 5
  • Var6 Varghulf 6
  • Wolf1 20 Dire Wolves 1
  • Wolf2 20 Dire Wolves 2
  • Wolf3 12 Dire Wolves 3
  • Wolf4 12 Dire Wolves 4
  • Wolf5 10 Dire Wolves 5
  • BldK1 5 Blood Knights 1
  • BldK2 7 Blood Knights 2
  • BK1 32 Black Knights 1
  • BK2 13 Black Knights 2
  • BK3 10 Black Knights 3
  • Skel1 75 Skeletons 1
  • Skel21 50 Skeletons 2
  • Skel22 45 Skeletons 3
  • G1 144 Ghouls 1
  • G2 80 Ghouls 2
  • G3 60 Ghouls 3
  • G4 26 Ghouls 4
  • G5 20 Ghouls 5
  • Vrgst 4 Vargheists
  • Bat1 10 Fell Bats 1
  • Bat2 10 Fell Bats 2
  • Bat3 6 Fell Bats 3
  • Terr Terrorgheist
  • GG1 60 Grave Guard 1
  • GG2 60 Grave Guard 2
  • GG3 50 Grave Guard 3
  • GG4 40 Grave Guard 4
  • GG5 26 Grave Guard 5
  • Cart1 Corpse Cart 1
  • Cart2 Corpse Cart 2
  • Cart3 Corpse Cart 3
  • Coac1 Black Coach 1
  • Coac2 Black Coach 2
  • Coac3 Black Coach 3
  • Coac4 Black Coach 4
  • Hex 5 Hexwraiths
  • Host 5 Spirit Host
  • Wrth1 10 Wraiths 1
  • Wrth2 6 Wraiths 2
  • Wrth3 8 Wraiths 3
  • Swrm 4 Bat Swarms
  • BK4 10 Black Knights 4
  • Skel4 70 Skeletons 4
  • Zom1 60 Zombies 1
  • Zom2 60 Zombies 2
  • Zom3 40 Zombies 3
  • Zom4 40 Zombies 4
  • Zom5 60 Zombies 5
  • Zom6 75 Zombies 6
  • Zom7 90 Zombies 7
An ocean of Ghouls, led by a Strigoi Ghoul King. Because when your unit costs 1440 points, a regular unit champion just doesn't cut it...
Abraxas Von Carstein, whose dislike of cannonballs is the stuff of legend
The Vampire Count right flank was thick with Ethereals. Hopefully the Dwarfs would have enough runic weapons to offset this
A token unit of Hexwraiths joins the fray
The Terrorgheist was made nervous by the amount of artillery on show
Dave's cool Vargheist conversions
The Vampire Count right flank, as seen from behind
Dire Wolves, Wraiths, Blood Knights and Grave Guard on the Vampire Count left flank
Some Black Knights on the other flank

Count Martin's Empire and Dwarf Alliance

  • Mrtn Count Martin of Stirland
  • Kalad Kallad Stormwarden
  • WAlt Kurt III on War Altar
  • BSB1 Martin's BSB
  • BSB2 Dwarf BSB
  • BSB3 Kurt's BSB
  • Axel Arch Lector Axelbrand
  • Jager Dietrich Jaeger
  • Grif Gerhardt von Kristallbach on Griffon
  • Long1 50 Longbeards 1
  • Iron 20 Ironbreakers
  • Thun1 10 Thunderers 1
  • Thun2 10 Thunderers 2
  • Ham1 20 Hammerers 1
  • Ham2 20 Hammerers 2
  • Ham3 15 Hammerers 3
  • Quar 12 Quarrellers
  • War 50 Warriors
  • Slay1 30 Slayers 1
  • Slay2 30 Slayers 2
  • Slay3 12 Slayers 3
  • OG1 Organ Gun 1
  • OG2 Organ Gun 2
  • GT1 Grudge Thrower 1
  • GT2 Grudge Thrower 2
  • Flame Flame Cannon
  • Gyro1 Gyrocopter 1
  • Gyro2 Gyrocopter 2
  • KSw 40 Krakenberg Swordsmen
  • Long2 25 Longbeards 2
  • KXBow 18 Krakenberg Crossbowmen
  • KHGun 20 Krakenberg Handgunners
  • KArch 8 Krakenberg Archer Detachment
  • KSpr 40 Krakenberg Spearmen
  • ASpr 24 Averland Spearmen
  • Flag 28 Flagellants
  • SHalb 60 Stirland Halberdiers
  • KHalb 60 Krakenberg Halberdiers
  • AHalb 60 Averland Halberdiers
  • SXBow 16 Stirland Crossbowmen
  • AGrSw 20 Averland Greatswords
  • KGrSw 35 Krakenberg Greatswords
  • Free 35 Kislev Free Company
  • ASw 30 Averland Swordsmen
  • KnPan 6 Knights Panther
  • KnDS 40 Knights of the Divine Sword
  • KnWW 40 Knights of the White Wolf
  • KnMG 40 Knights of Martin's Guard
  • KnBS 10 Knights of the Blazing Sun
  • KnRkG 6 Reiksguard Knights
  • ST1 Steam Tank 1
  • ST21 Steam Tank 2
  • ST22 Steam Tank 3
  • GC1 Great Cannon 1
  • GC2 Great Cannon 2
  • GC3 Great Cannon 3
  • GC4 Great Cannon 4
  • GC5 Great Cannon 5
  • VG1 Volley Gun 1
  • VG2 Volley Gun 2
  • VG3 Volley Gun 3
  • Mort1 Mortar 1
  • Mort2 Mortar 2
  • Demi1 5 Demigryphs (Wolfygryphs) 1
  • Demi2 5 Demigryphs (Wolfygryphs) 2
  • Peg Captain on Pegasus
  • Pist1 5 Pistoliers 1
  • Pist2 5 Pistoliers 2
  • Pist3 5 Pistoliers 3
  • Pist4 5 Pistoliers 4
  • KnFL 6 Freelance Knights
  • AHG1 10 Averland Handgunners 1
  • AHG2 10 Averland Handgunners 2
  • AXBow 10 Averland Crossbowmen
  • Out 5 Outriders
The forces in the centre of the field face off
The Wolfygryphs (Demigryph Knights) in front of the Knights of the Divine Sword
Steam Tanks lead the way

Vampire Counts, Turn 1

Vampire Counts Turn 1
A more detailed version of the map can be found here.

With a maniacal cackle, Mannfred stretched forth his arms and summoned lightning from the clear skies as he urged his minions forward. It was merely showmanship, but it helped remind his enemies of his mastery of dark and necromantic magicks, whilst their ranks contained not even a hedge wizard to oppose him. He could feel some resistance to his power from the right flank, where the Dwarfs were concentrated, but it would surely be insufficient to interfere with his magical dominance of the field.

All along the undead lines, his forces advanced rapidly. Skeletons and Grave Guard marched with eerie precision. Zombies shuffled and lurched, reaching for the still-distant living. Ghouls scuttled and leapt forward, smelling tasty man-flesh. On the left, the foolish Empire Pistoliers found that they had advanced rather rashly. A Black Coach crashed into one unit with a ghoulish howl, their pistol shots ricocheting harmlessly from its frame. Men and horses screamed as they were scythed down, and none survived to flee. Nearby, another unit was taken by surprise as a horrifying unit of Vargheists dropped on them from above, tearing them apart in an orgy of blood before they even knew what hit them. The Vargheists continued their sweeping advance, stopping just short of the enemy Demigryphs. A third unit of Pistoliers found itself in the path of a rushing Varghulf, and its terrifying appearance was too much for them. They lost their nerve and fled, straight through their own lines and from the field entirely. Their pathetic shrieks upset men and horses as they went, and the Knights of the Divine Sword momentarily faltered, with the rear ranks wheeling to flee. (At this point I pointed out to Dene that despite his admirable ability to fail a Leadership 9 test with a reroll, the presence of a Grand Master made them Immune to Psychology. At which point the 1500 points that had been about to flee the field turned around and stayed where it was. Sheesh...)
The Vampire Count left flank advances, and the Pistoliers are in the way
The Pistoliers are swept casually aside. Some eager Vargheists and Dire Wolves get up close to the enemy
Abraxas glares at the Steam Tanks and their horrid cannons
The swift elements on the Empire flank had been summarily dealt with, but worse horrors were to come. All across the field, the still surface of the fens started to stir. Then it surged to an unnatural boil as Mannfred's hidden reserves made their presence felt. Clawing, crawling and eventually climbing to stand, legions of Skeletons and Zombies arose right in front of the Empire lines. The slime from the swamps covered them thickly as it became apparent just how long ago Mannfred had laid this trap – his preparation for this confrontation had begun years before. Even as Count Martin called for his men to steady in the face of this sudden turn of events, he felt his own confidence start to slide.
Skeletons emerge from the fens near the Empire centre
Count Martin's Knights find their path blocked as 60 Zombies emerge from the fens
A horde of Zombies also appears on the Empire right
It was then that Mannfred struck. Seeing the Elector Count's uncertainty, he gathered the dark powers around him like a cloak and lashed out at his opponent with Spirit Leech. The attack was Irresistible. Martin screamed as his very soul was assaulted within him, however the protective gem given him by the Grand Theogonist himself, which he wore upon his breast, began to glow with a brilliant blue light as it fought against the damage he was taking. Eventually Martin righted himself in his saddle, his determination set once more, but he was sorely wounded and only the gem had kept him from falling then and there. Mannfred cursed this unexpected interference and had a momentary lapse, losing control of the powers he had drawn to him. As they started to assault him, he desperately dispersed them the only way he could – through the lesser wizards in his own army. Across the field, curses and shrieks could be heard as Necromancers and Vampires were wounded by the magical feedback. Mannfred himself felt something twist inside him, however he was made of sterner stuff and it would take far more than that to lay him low.
End of Vampire Counts Turn 1

Empire and Dwarf Alliance, Turn 1

Empire and Dwarf Turn 1
A more detailed version of the map can be found here.

The Empire centre prepares to respond
The Vampire had seized the initiative, but it was time for the Empire to strike back (oh yeah, I went there). With a chorus of horns and the beating of drums, the allied forces pounced upon the undead elements that had dared approach too near. The Ironbreakers on the left flank lunged at the Terrorgheist, hacking at it as it fought back rather feebly for an abomination of its size. The armour of the Ironbreakers held true, and though two of their number fell, the Terrorgheist was cut down on the spot. The Dwarfs' celebrations were muted, merely muttering that dead things had been tougher back in the day.
The Ironbreakers made a 12" charge to trap the Terrorgheist in combat...
But the trap was short-lived, as the beast simply toppled over!
Along the Dwarf lines, blackpowder weapons crackled and roared. Organ Guns belched fire and smoke, and the area became as thick with smoke as it was with the departing mists. Both Dire Wolf units were left with a single survivor, whilst the Black Knights who were threatening a charge on the victorious Ironbreakers lost 3 of their number, but appeared unconcerned.
The Zombies appear to block the enemy lines
Martin's Knights and the Slayers oblige the Zombies by engaging them immediately
With a shambling mass of Zombies right in front of his cavalry, Martin could do little but lead the charge into their midst. With cries of “For Stirland!” and “For Count Martin!” the Knights crashed into the staggering dead, whilst the Slayers nearby rushed to hit the animated corpses in the flank, not the least deterred by their unnatural state and foul stench. The Zombies could do little more than paw at their skilled opponents, with the armour of the Knights and the resilience of the Dwarfs making any resistance futile. Nevertheless, the undead were many and progress was slow. Though close to 50 Zombies fell to axe, lance and the ravages of the assault, about a dozen remained to hold the allied forces in place.
The Zombies did their job and held up the Empire lines
Stupid Zombies!
The Skeletons are charged by the Stirland Halberdiers, Martin's eccentric uncle on his Griffon and a unit of Pistoliers
Pretty sure Skeletons are not meant to be outnumbered in combat...
A regiment of Skeletons had emerged from the fens nearest the fort, and they found themselves assailed by the regiment of Stirland Halberdiers, with Lord Gerhardt on his Griffon flailing his sword about madly as he joined in the charge. The remaining Pistoliers also charged into the flank of the Skeletons, keen to take part in what promised to be a massacre. Seeing their plight and somehow realising they were in serious trouble, the Skeletons bunkered down behind their shields and put up remarkable resistance. Though fully a dozen of them were saved by the ruined armour and parries, still the weight of the assault was too much and they were destroyed utterly, crumbling back into the swamps from which they had emerged. The Empire forces gave a great cheer and reformed to face the advancing enemy, with Lord Gerhardt behind the Halberdiers, shouting encouragement and making grand boasts of what his glorious birdie would do to the foul abominations, given half a chance and the promise of a cracker. (Pete passed 12 out of 25 saves on 6s with parries. If not for the Griffon's Thunderstomp, he might have held on).
The Skeletons start to fall...
... and soon there are none left, leaving the Empire forces to reform.
Victory! (As the guy on the left falls flat on his face)
Behind them, the wailing mass of Flagellants milled forward whilst the Averland Halberdiers advanced in support. The Empire Cannons spoke with a roar, but limited success. An approaching Varghulf shrugged off 2 direct hits, its unnatural regenerative powers healing the damage done and leaving it none the worse for wear. It then vanished in a cloud of smoke, lead and sod as a Volley Gun opened up with a deafening noise. When the smoke cleared, the beast was somehow still standing, albeit barely. Even its hideous powers could only protect it so much. Just right of centre, a Black Coach vanished in an explosion of bone and kindling – proof that not all the undead were impervious to the Empire cannonade.
The Averland Halberdiers advance without opposition
The Dire Wolves on the Empire right are engaged by several units at once
On the Empire right, a huge pack of Dire Wolves had rushed toward the enemy lines. They were met by a Captain of the Empire upon his Pegasus, leading the charge of the small unit of Knights Panther and a Steam Tank. The snarls and howls of the foul Wolves were short-lived, and they were crushed to a paste beneath the hooves of the cavalry and the wheels of the Steam Tank.
The Dire Wolves find that playing bait is not fun.
The other Steam Tanks wheeled forward, with the one on the far right hissing steam as the driver fought for control. He still managed to line up his cannon and fire it at the approaching Zombie Dragon, however some unnatural forces protected the beast and it emerged unscathed (it rolled a 1 to wound the Dragon and the rider passed his ward save).

Nearby, the Wolfygryphs leapt into combat with the waiting Vargheists, keen to avenge the savage butchery of the Pistoliers shortly before. The Wolfygryph Knights were made of far sterner stuff, with their greater skill, fine armour and powerful mounts ensuring the Vargheists were badly overmatched. The fight was short and the defeat of the undead fiends comprehensive, but the Knights reformed to find themselves in the path of the far greater horrors to come...
The Wolfygryphs pounce on the Vargheists
The Vargheists are not long for this world.
The Gyrocopters are assigned the unenviable task of delaying the enemy on the Empire left flank
The Knights of the Divine Sword are forced to sit and watch as the elements immediately in front of them get tangled up by the enemy.
The Empire lines after combat is over.
Forming up to meet the approaching enemy.
The field at the end of Turn 1.

End of Turn 1 

Battle Points:
Vampire Counts: 0 
Empire/Dwarfs: 1

You can continue by reading Turn 2 the battle report here.
Alternately, you can go to the Battle of Hel Fenn main page.


  1. Great stuff, what an ambitious report! Well done to all involved.

  2. Fantastic - great to see these massive numbers in action. And for such a huge battle, you've done really well to make it clear what's going on. Can't wait for the next instalment.