Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Battle of Hel Fenn, Part 4

This post is a continuation of the 20,000pt Hel Fenn battle report. You can find the parent page containing links to each turn here.

Stirland MASH: The Halberdiers tend their wounded upon the hill behind the front lines.

Vampire Counts, Turn 4: The Fall of Stirland

Vampire Counts Turn 4
A more detailed map can be found here.

The Vampire Count lines swept ever onward, encroaching on the defensive positions of the enemy and in places threatening to overrun them. Mannfred could smell the fear of the enemy cattle, and knew that panic would soon start to spread. All it would take was a little more pressure in the right places...

On the right flank of the undead lines however, progress had stalled. With typical unthinking tenacity the Dwarfs were refusing to give ground and the general advance of the forces under Adolphus' command was being held up by the close-fought skirmishes in front. The Necromancer has miscalculated, and the elements meant to sweep aside early resistance and make a path for his large regiments were instead keeping his main strength from joining the fray. His frustration was mounting, but if he could salvage the situation soon, Mannfred might yet let him keep his head on his shoulders.

The Zombies hard on the flank continued to press against the large Longbeard unit. The Dwarfs fought well, hacking efficiently through the mass of decaying limbs and batting aside the odd rusty weapon, but they were making little headway due to the sheer number of enemies before them.

The Black Coach rolled around the ongoing struggle between the Hammerers and the moaning Spirit Hosts. The Coach continued to feed off the strong magical tides rolling across the battlefield as Mannfred and his minions sought to control so large an army of the animated dead. Drawing on that power, the Black Coach itself seemed to fade and turn a ghostly pallor like the Wraith driving it and the Spirits nearby. It also gathered speed as it moved, and its wheels no longer touched the ground. Let the Dwarfs try to gun that down the way they had the Black Knights before it!

Whilst the Spirit Hosts clawed ineffectually at the stalwart wall of Hammerers before them, the Slayers and Wraiths nearby were a different story. The Daemon Slayer hacked about him with his axe, its runes glowing a furious red as it sought out and destroyed the restless spirits. 2 Wraiths were cut down by the Slayer hero, even as 5 more of his comrades were scythed down as they tried futilely to protect themselves with swings of their mundane weapons. Behind the Wraiths, hundreds of Skeletons shuffled forward, waiting their opportunity to attack the enemy in accordance with the will of their masters. Likewise the Ghouls milled about impatiently as the Fell Bats in front of them finally tore apart the last Archer defying them.

Nearer the centre of the lines, the Hexwraiths rode through the lines with a ghastly screech, their scythes lashing out at the Slayers and cutting down 2 of them. Their rush ended behind the Dwarfs, looking forward at the Krakenberg Handgunners, Crossbowmen and Spearmen – all of them bearing mundane weapons that could do nothing to them in their ghostly form. They cackled evilly at the helpless expressions on the faces of their enemies.
Mannfred watches his forces take charge in the centre of the battlefield.
Count Martin finds himself the primary target of the remaining Ghouls
With Count Martin at their head, the Knights in the centre continued to struggle against the remnants of the Ghoul unit as a horde of Grave Guard poured into their flank. Seeing their quarry wounded, the Ghouls leapt enthusiastically at Martin, even as his shining Runefang cut 2 of them in half. Heedless of their losses, and even as the other Knights prepared to finish them off, the Ghouls dragged the Elector Count from his saddle and sank needle-sharp talons and teeth into his steed as it fought to protect its master. The Ghouls had no opportunity to feast upon their victims however, as the Knights hacked them down with vengeful fury, moving to protect the body of their lord. Despite the weight of the Grave Guard pressing against their flank, the Knights knew their duty and retrieved Martin's bloodied form, draping it across a saddle. The cry went up, “Count Martin is fallen! For Stirland!” With the Ghouls finally dispatched and the Grave Guard to deal with, the Knights reformed to face the new enemy, the wounded Arch Lector Axelbrand pressing to the fore.
Ghouls caper on the body of the fallen Elector Count and overall commander of the Empire/Dwarf alliance. 
The Ghouls and Count Martin are dead, but the combat goes on. Command goes to Arch Lector Axelbrand, who is mostly dead anyway thanks to the vicious licky tongues of the Dire Wolves the previous turn...
Count Martin had been cut down, his personal banner was also in danger. In their impatience to get into the fighting, the Krakenberg Teutogen Guard found themselves suddenly faced with more than they could handle. A massive horde of Grave Guard with wicked-looking great weapons charged into their front, and even as they braced for this, a rumble of hooves announced the approach of a regiment of Black Knights in their flank. Leading from the fore, Stirland's banner bearer shouted encouragement even as he planted his standard and challenged the Wight King leading the Grave Guard to single combat. The lord of undeath silently accepted the duel and they set about each other with little thought for self-preservation. Great weapons cleaved the air, crunching against armour both shining and ensorcelled, and ancient and rusted. After their first bout, both warriors could barely stand upright. The duel would not last long. Around them the Teutogen Guard fought ferociously, bolstered by the bravery of their leader and the feverish encouragement from their Warrior Priest. 13 of their number fell to the enemy assault, but they gave as good as they got, and held their ground with characteristic stubbornness.

Trampling the fallen remains of the Vampire banner bearer who had up until recently led them, the 4 remaining Black Knights charged into the Free Company who waited next to the fort. 3 Free Company fell to the assault, but they managed to drag down a Knight in return and neither side could gain the upper hand.

Emerging from the fort itself, the Averland Greatswords found themselves mobbed by a angry swarm of bats. The little villains bit, screeched and darted this way and that. The Greatswords were left stabbing at air with their cumbersome weapons – this was not the type of enemy they were best equipped to fight. Nevertheless the wicked sharpness of their blades took its toll on the bats, and with the full plate armour shrugging off the worst of their bites, they found themselves rapidly becoming the victims.

Beside this struggle, the Knights Panther had been getting the better of the Dire Wolves, but this was about to change. The Blood Knights that had dealt so brutally with the Griffon and Pegasus crashed into their flank with lances lowered and fanged snarls on their faces. A warning shout from the flank did little to prepare the Knights Panther for the savage impact, and they were wiped out to a man by the rampant Blood Knights.
The Blood Knights and Black Knights complete their charges.
On the Vampire Count left flank, things were coming to a head. His path cleared at last, Gothard the Undying led his large regiment of Black Knights head-long into the waiting Wolfygryph Knights. In a clash of steel, bone and fur however, Gothard found the enemy to be a dangerous enemy. Several of his Knights perished to the jaws of the wolves, and he himself was wounded by the unexpected savagery of their counter-attack. The Black Knights did slay one of their enemy, but it was not enough to break their line and the impetus of the charge was lost.
Gothard's Knights fail to break through the Wolfygryphs
The Wraiths nearby launched themselves at the flank of the second Steam Tank, once more ignoring their scythes as they tried to force their reach through the steel hull to the inner workings and the soft flesh of the driver within. He cowered in the back corner of his machine, praying to Sigmar, Ulric, Taal, and any other at least semi-divine power he could think of in gibbering terror.
The Wraiths continue their unstoppable rampage, pimp-handing the Steam Tank for a couple of wounds.
Abraxas Von Carstein summoned forth his dark powers and healed his wounded body as he prepared to fight the masses of Empire Knights once more on his own. The assistance of the Varghulfs had been short-lived. Behind him, the Grave Guard endeavoured to offer support. They charged toward the flank of the Reiksguard Knights, however the craven humans turned and fled through their own lines rather than face the enemy. The Grave Guard altered their path to hit the Knights of the Divine Sword straight on, however they faltered due to distance and their efforts were in vain. Abraxas was indeed alone. He would live and die based on his own fearsome ability with a blade. As it turned out however, this was not as impressive as he thought it was – he cut down a couple of Knights in his flank, however it was not nearly enough to hold the enemy at bay. With a frustrated howl, he was hacked down by the Knights.

On the far left flank, the Zombies continued their futile efforts to claw open the Steam Tank. A group of Fell Bats flew overhead and into combat with the Outriders on the hill. The riders held in the face of the assault and thus began a struggle that would take a while to resolve itself.
Fell Bats assault the Outriders on the Vampire Count left flank.
The Empire centre after the Vampire Counts' turn.
The Vampire Count left flank continues its advance.
Along the table at the end of the Vampire Counts' turn.

Empire and Dwarf Alliance, Turn 4

Empire and Dwarf Alliance, Turn 4
A more detailed map can be found here.

Word spread throughout the allied lines about the fall of their commander Count Martin, however it was not panic that followed, but a bitter hardening of resolve. The Vampire filth would be made to pay for the damage they had caused. Cries of “For Stirland!” echoed up and down the line, except in the Dwarf area, where they merely grumbled about human foolishness and got on with the job.

The Longbeards on the left flank had had the better of their struggle with the Zombie tide, however a sudden surge caught them off-guard after the battle standard bearer hacked his way too far forward. Seeing his friend isolated, Kallad Stormwarden himself led his entourage of Hammerers into the fray, intent on trying to push the enemy back. Alas, he was too late and by the time the Dwarfs had hacked their way through to their comrade, he had perished to a hundred scrabbling hands and stabbing, rusty blades. The Quarrellers to the right had also seen the plight of their army standard and had tried to fight their way through to the flank of the Zombies, but the press of units meant they had to abort their charge and were helpless to intervene.

The Thunderers nearby watched the ghostly advance of the now ethereal Black Coach, and realised their weapons would be of little use. Instead they shouldered their guns and charged the thing, looking to break its momentum and buy time for their comrades with their lives. On the way in they grumped that back in the good old days, every one of them would have had a runic weapon and they could have made short work of such insubstantial enemies.
The Thunderers charge the Black Coach to hold it up, despite knowing they can no longer wound it because it's gone Ethereal thanks to sucking up too many power dice. Sprouted wings, too. Unnatural, I tells ya!
The Dwarfs as a whole had had more than enough of ethereal foes, as 2 more Hammerers fell to the ongoing efforts of the Spirit Hosts. The Slayers fared better as the Daemonslayer continued to hack into the foe. The damage was considerable and the Wraiths started to lose their bitter grip on the physical realm, with only the Banshee remaining to fight on.

The Krakenberg Swordsmen charged the Fell Bats before they could move on after finishing the last of the Archers, cutting down all but one of them for the loss of 2 of their own number. The Longbeards moved up in support with the large block of Dwarf Warriors behind them.

The Organ Guns and Volley Gun spoke as one, all targeting the seemingly limitless horde of Ghouls as they got closer and closer. Nearly a score of the fiends fell to the barrage, but still they came on, and still they had numbers to spare. Behind the front lines of missile troops, the fleeing Dwarf Thunderers regained their composure and turned to face the enemy once more, acutely embarrassed by their failure to hold whilst mere humans had fought on. They would not soon forget their shame.
The central unit of Slayers acknowledges the inevitable and charges the Wraiths. The Ethereal units were a bit of a headache, and the Dwarfs (and Steam Tanks) copped the brunt of it.
The Wraiths near the centre of the lines had glided right up in front of the Slayers, and it finally proved too much for the Dwarfs. With a shout they charged the enemy, though most of them could do little to fight. The Daemonslayer wounded a Wraith, but was badly hurt in return. The Dwarfs pushed on and another Wraith faded into nothingness in the face of their stalwart courage and toughness.
The artillery looks on midway through the Empire and Dwarfs' 4th turn.
Shielding Martin's fallen body with a wall of steel, the Knights in the centre turned to fight the Grave Guard. Wounded as he was, Axelbrand challenged the Wight Lord leading them, but both parties failed to land a telling blow. Few warriors on either side fell and the Empire line held firm.
Axelbrand and the Wight King glare at each other but do little else in the challenge. Turns out the Arch Lector has no idea how to use the Mace of Helstrum.
The Teutogen Guard began to tire after their initial fiery display against enemies on two fronts. Though they beat down a handful more Grave Guard, the toll on them was far worse. 12 of their number fell to the wicked blades of the Wights, as did their Warrior Priest. In their challenge the battle standard bearer and Wight King continued to lay into each other with no thought to defence, and both dealt each other fatal blows. The Empire standard fell, however the Teutogen Guard fought on in a last show of defiance as the enemy closed in. Both the Krakenberg Halberdiers and Averland Spearmen had looked to assist them, however the press of battle allowed them no room to manoeuvre and their efforts were stymied.

Puffing from his exertions, Martin's eccentric uncle Lord Gerhardt rounded the back corner of the fort and stopped. He leaned back against the cold stone wall and gasped for breath. "Safe at last," he panted. He finally looked up to see dozens of state troopers from Stirland and Averland watching his unseemly display of cowardice. Regathering himself, he stood straight once more, waggled his magical blade in the air, and twirled his moustaches in the most heroic manner he could manage. "Very good, men, Carry on! And a crown to the men who bring me the heads of those villainous Blood Knights that desecrated my favourite Griffon!"

The Black Knights continued to hack at the Free Company, killing a handful of them but making no progress overall. The undead were tireless and their opponents were mere militia, but they needed their luck to hold in the face of such superior numbers. The Bat Swarms continued to mob the Averland Greatswords, however the elite soldiers were taking their toll on their little assailants, and there were far fewer bats than there had been to start with.

Having wiped out the Knights Panther so easily, the Blood Knights wheeled their black, fiery-eyed steeds about, roaring challenges and looking for another target. They were answered by the Helblaster Volley Gun beside the fought, which had a clear line of fire straight into their midst. With a deafening volley the sinister Knights were torn apart, the magic of their banner insufficient to protect them from such firepower.

Not to be defied by the mere mortals before him, Gothard laid about him with the enchanted blade he had stolen from the Knights of the Divine Sword so long before. He personally cut down one Wolfygryph and wounded another, and his Black Knights shook off their previous torpor and hacked into the foe. The Wolfygryph Knights turned to flee, but they received no mercy from their attackers and were ridden down as Gothard led his cavaly onward into the waiting ranks of great weapon-wielding Knights, with Dietrich Jaeger at their head. General Jaeger's eyes lit up at this sudden turn of events. At last! A chance to redeem himself after the shame of the previous battle! With a shout of challenge he raised his weapon, his eye fixed on the approaching form of Gothard at the lines met with a clash of steel.
Gothard's Knights pursue into the waiting Knights of General Dietrich Jaeger.
The Steam Tank nearby continued to be tormented by the Wraiths, the terrible hands reaching inside the machine and tearing apart essential components. The thing was about to fall apart, and the driver could do nothing but huddle and cry in horror. His was not the only one whose courage failed him, however. The Reiksguard Knights, finest warriors in the Empire, decided not to rally after their flight from the charging Grave Guard. Instead they departed the field, muttering something about needing to go and polish their armour. Snorting in disgust, the Knights of the Blazing Sun advanced and took their place at the front of the hill.

With trumpets blaring, the massive regiment of the Knights of the Divine Sword finally found an opportunity to charge the enemy. In their path were the enemy Grave Guard, who stood ready to receive them. The Knights charged down the hill and crashed into the foe like an avalanche of steel, with 25 of the Grave Guard falling to their assault. Their enemies were no defenceless weaklings, however – 10 Knights fell to their blades in return; more than a quarter of the regiment had been cut down. Beside them, the 3 remaining Freelance Knights charged into the mass of Zombies assaulting the Steam Tank, hoping to help its hapless driver. Little did they realise, these were clearly no ordinary Zombies. 2 of the Knights were dragged from their saddles even as they charged. Soon only a single Knight remained, wondering whether this rescue mission was such a good idea after all. The Steam Tank's turret continued to scorch the enemy with searing bouts of steam, the driver heedless of the failed efforts of the Knights beside him.
The Empire centre after Turn 4. Lord Gerhardt strikes a heroic pose immediately behind the stone walls, where he finally feels safe.
The Empire right flank, with Gothard having broken through the Demigryphs, and the somewhat depleted Knights of the Divine Sword fighting on the edge of the hill.

End of Turn 4

Battle Points:
Vampire Counts: 8
Empire/Dwarfs: 6

With the fall of Count Martin and the bonus points he yields, the Vampire Counts have taken the lead!

You can continue by reading Turn 5 the battle report here.
Alternately, you can go to the Battle of Hel Fenn main page.

1 comment:

  1. Well it's the sheer size of some of the units that draws breath. 144 ghouls followed up by a smalll ghoul contingent of 80. At the end of Turn 4 it looks as if the empire might break throught the center with the KnM but what then. It's really nice to se that nothing really stupid has occurred to ruin the game yet and that it looks in the balance at this stage. look forward to the remaing turns. Amazing guys really amazing work, and a great write up Greg.