Thursday, 16 January 2014

Battle of Finuval Plain: Turn 4 – A Beast Awakened

This is a continuation of the account of the Battle of Finuval Plain. If you missed the previous turn, you can find it here. If you want to go to the Finuval Plain main page, click here.

High Elves Turn 4
High Elves Turn 4. The flash up the top is the second Comet of Cassandora hitting. To see a larger version, right-click and select "Open Link in New Tab"
With dozens of regiments struggling in bitter hand-to-hand combat and the Witch King having finally committed himself to battle, matters were coming to a head. If the High Elves could push through now, perhaps the Witch King's stranglehold over Ulthuan could be broken.

Behind the Dark Elf lines, another Comet of Cassandora crashed to earth with thunderous force, though slightly less devastation than the High Elf Archmage had hoped. Two enemy Bolt Throwers were vaporised, although the crew of a third managed to dive aside and avoid serious injury. The blast was alarming enough to send the small unit of Crossbowmen guarding the machines running from the field, their duties forgotten.

On the left flank, the Chosen continued to hack at the flank of the White Lions, however true to their reputation, they resisted stubbornly and a single survivor stood his ground defiantly. The frustration of the elite Chaos Warriors was evident, but it was they who had failed to break through to fresh opposition.
I'll take you all!! I don't even need a blade on my axe! I'll club you with my stick (not a euphemism)!
Look at all that stuff they could have been doing, if they were not busy fighting 1 White Lion
Teclis dispelled the Keeper of Secrets' Enfeebling of the Swordmaster with a curt gesture before deciding that matters were well in-hand and stepped back from the White Lions and into the Archers he had vacated earlier.
Teclis watches proceedings from the relative safety of his favourite hill, having changed his mind about the White Lion plan.
The glorious birdie's rampage continues. Spearmen, Assassins, Harpies... Why not a Greater Daemon?
Having dealt with the remaining Harpies, the Griffon continued its vengeful rampage and ploughed straight into the flank of the Keeper of Secrets. Unfortunately it found that the Great Daemon was made of sterner stuff than its previous victims, and was almost slain as the villain contemptuous divided its attention between two targets. The Loremaster was cut down where he stood, but the Keeper was also claimed as the Swordmasters capitalised on the distraction the Griffon provided and hacked the daemon down. The now-crippled Griffon struggled on toward the flank of the Daemonettes, however it was slowed by its wounds and fell short of its next target.
Ding dong, the Keeper's dead! Finally...
The Daemonettes had been granted a reprieve, but they remained oblivious as their attention was focused on a regiment of Spearmen that charged into their much-depleted formation. However for all that they lacked numbers, Slaanesh continued to smile upon them and they shrugged off the efforts of the Elves and held their ground.
The Spearmen charge the Daemonettes, but somehow make no headway. Then fail to reform when they clearly needed the extra attacks.
The Cold One Knights used their earlier momentum to crash through the Ellyrian Reavers, who fought bravely and even managed to bring one of the knights down before they perished. The Frostheart Phoenix tried to intervene, but the distance was too great and it was forced to watch helplessly instead.
The Phoenic falls short and fails to help the Reavers. Probably for the best, really. It would just have wound up breaking from combat with the Reavers there for easy kills.
Deeper in the enemy lines, the Star Dragon looked about for a fresh enemy and charged at the fleeing Kharibdyss, but it scrambled away as quickly as it could and the Dragon refused to consider a new target in its place. Eventually it ground to a halt as it realised the fleeing beast was out of its reach.
Out of the way, gutless monster coming through! The Kharibdyss expresses its enthusiasm for a fight with the Star Dragon by running quickly away.
The Swordmasters flank the Shaggoth. Then can't get past his 6+ armour save against them - he saved twice. Good thing the horses were there to save the day, as usual.
The Shaggoth fighting the Silver Helms found itself fighting on two fronts when the Swordmasters wheeled about and charged it in the flank. With blades whirling, the warriors of Hoeth should have made short work of the already-wounded brute, but each telling blow they landed did little more than cut furrows into its iron-hard skin. The Silver Helms were likewise unsuccessful in doing any damage and it seemed both regiments were in peril as a wicked grin appeared on the monstrous Dragon Ogre's ugly face and it raised its enormous axe. Before it could strike however, the steeds of the Silver Helms suddenly surged forward and struck out with ithilmar-shod hooves. Remarkably they succeeded where their masters had failed, and felled their opponent with a pair of well-placed kicks.
The Shaggoth thoroughly engaged
The Swordmasters display their mastery of battle tactics by walking across in front of their lines, tripping on their own skirts.
As inspiring as this display was, the Swordmasters compounded their own failure by ignoring the shouted orders of the Noble leading the Silver Helms and deciding to overrun. Trying to leap the giant corpse of their fallen enemy, some of them snagged their skirts on its spiny hide and tripped to a stop right in front of their mounted allies, with their flank perilously close to the advancing Chaos Knights. The curses of the Silver Helm commander don't bear repeating here, but they would have made a Sea Helm blush.
The Chaos Knights spot something of interest - the generously offered flank of the Swordmasters
The Silver Helms are pinned in place by the Stubborn Black Guard, whilst the Harpies play chicken with 80 White Lions and drag any overrun into the Silver Helms' flank.
Seeing Tyrion's Silver Helms apparently struggling to deal with the Black Guard in their flank, the Prince on his Star Dragon charged into their rear and made short work of them. The Dark Elves fought with a level of resignation; their fate was sealed, but they had performed their allotted task and delayed Prince Tyrion from intervening elsewhere on the field.
Dragon rescue! Excessive force has been authorised...
Their Black Guard problem addressed, the Silver Helms and Dragon look for new challenges
The Lion Chariot and Nobles on their Eagles continued to cut into the Dreadspears they were fighting, however the Dark Elves held their position and kept fighting stoically. The other Dreadspears fared better and managed to spear the Prince from the saddle of his Moon Dragon. Seemingly unmoved by the feebleness of its former master, the Dragon fought on, probably aware that it would not be nearly so easy to kill.

Next to them, the remaining Cold One Knights perished in a hail of shots from the Eagle Claw Bolt Throwers, and Malekith's banner bearer found himself suddenly alone and vulnerable. Fortunately no further shots were forthcoming and the Banner of Naggarythe continued to fly proudly in his hand.

The Everqueen's White Lions again made short work of the Harpies that had dared to land in front of them, however their progress was halted there with the congestion caused by the Black Guard's delay of the Silver Helms. Clearly their sacrifice had not been entirely in vain.

The Phoenix Guard continued to fight bravely against their various opponents, however they were being pressed by the intervention of the Dark Elf Dragon. The last of the Black Guard fell in the fighting, which resulted in the struggle splintering into two separate engagements. In both fights the High Elves were on the back foot, but they continued to resist the Dragon and Dreadspears respectively.

The Frostheart Phoenix had held its ground admirably against the assault of the Witch King and the Hydra attacking alongside, however Malekith had clearly lost patience with Sulekh and leaned down to finish the job himself. With a clean strike of the Destroyer, he hacked into the Phoenix and it gave one last defiant cry before falling limply to the ground in a flurry of ice and snow.
This is really going to hurt...
The Witch King's satisfaction was short-lived, however. The massive regiment of Witch Elves fell under a terrible assault by the Star Dragon Prince, a unit of charging Dragon Princes, and a flanking group of White Lions. Magic was only making their plight worse as an Iceshard Blizzard buffeted their senses and Harmonic Convergence ensured the Dragon Princes would almost inevitably strike true. The Dark Elves were slaughtered, and only half a dozen of them survived to turn and run. In a parting blow one of them managed to drive her poisoned knife deep into the breast of the Star Dragon and it fell with a great bellow of agony. The mighty beast's death throes impeded he pursuit of the High Elves, and ensured that the few surviving Witch Elves managed to escape. So beaten were they however, that they eventually fled the field by the battle's end. Their earlier crazed enthusiasm was well behind them and they no longer wanted any part in the bloodshed. No doubt Khaine was scowling at them with godly disapproval as they departed.
Owwww that really hurt! We're outta here!
Though the Witch Elves got away, the pursuing Dragon Princes did manage to find themselves a new target – the exposed flank of Sulekh and the Witch King himself. There could be no sweeter prize; Caledorians hate all Black Dragons with a passion that flows from their bond with the nobler Dragons that dwell in their lands, and Sulekh was the foulest of their fallen kind. With cries of vengeance upon their lips, they surged into combat once more.
The Dragon Princes pursue into Malekith's flank. Cop that, sinister Witch Thing!
The Witch Elves were not the only Dark Elves fleeing through the forest in the centre of the field. Beside them ran the Assassin and their Dreadspear flunkies. Having seen the carnage the unit had inflicted, the huge regiment of Phoenix Guard and lowered their halberds and charged toward them, silent death in their eyes. Rather than take their chances with such stern opposition, the Dark Elves had turned and fled instead. This had unnerved the nearby Warlocks who turned and bolted for their own lines (one of them failing to remember to steer around a tree in his unseemly haste), but it had left the Phoenix Guard without a target for their anger, and they ground to a halt.
The Assassins choose to make a run for it rather than standing and fighting real opposition. Boo!
The Corsairs had been the other perpetrators of the earlier slaughter, and they found themselves flanked by massed ranks of Sea Guard whilst a team of Shadow Warriors assaulted their rear. The back row of Corsairs turned to fight, but the uncertainty of their situation must have weighed heavily upon them for they were only able to bring down a single Shadow Warrior before they turned and fled. They managed to out-distance all of their pursuers, however the Sea Guard promptly crashed straight into the nearby Cold One Chariot and the Shadow Warriors were left to carry on the chase alone.
The Corsairs cop it from 2 directions at once
Despite a little cowardice that turn, the Dark Elf left is pushing forward.
End of the High Elves' Turn 4
High Elf centre at the end of the turn
The High Elf left flank at the end of the turn
Malekith looks down at the gnats attacking his pet
The Dark Elf Bolt Throwers prepare for their favourite game: Shooting at Dragons
The centre from the Dark Elves' angle.
As much of the table as I could squeeze into a close-ish shot.

Dark Elves Turn 4
Dark Elves Turn 4. Each time you see a big skull, it means one of the 6 generals has died. To see a larger version, right-click and select "Open Link in New Tab"
The High Elves had regathered themselves and were dangerously close to gaining the upper hand in the battle. Malekith himself was being attacked by the largest of the enemy cavalry regiments. Now was the time for him to remind the Asur exactly whom they were fighting, and the futility of their resistance.

On the right flank, the Chosen rather grumpily cut down the last White Lion and looked around for new opportunities. Their failure to kill him earlier might have cost the Dark Elves dearly – their timely intervention could have swung matters dramatically in their favour. The other Chaos elements continued to try unsuccessfully to contribute meaningfully. The Warriors failed yet again to charge the flank of the High Elf Nobles, who still had no idea they were coming (or weren't, as they case may have been). The Knights charged the exposed flank of the foolish Swordmasters, who at least had enough common sense to turn and run. This then exposed the Silver Helms, who also chose to turn and flee rather than face the Chaos Lord and his minions.
Run! Run faster!
What, they ran away? Why doesn't anyone want to play with us?
Travelling without moving: these Chaos Warriors suck something.
Dark Elf bolts rained down on the Star Dragon as it continued to snarl its defiance. The Bolt Thrower shots glanced off its resilient hide, however a couple of shots from the Darkshard crossbowmen on the hill managed to find their mark and were rewarded with roars of pain. It was not enough however, and the Dragon glared down at the Corsairs as they dared advance toward it, perhaps seeking to distract it from more important targets. As tough as the Star Dragon was, the Griffon was less fortunate and a shot from one of the Bolt Throwers struck it in the chest and it keeled over with a dreadful shriek.
The Corsairs walk right up to the Star Dragon, presumably hoping to tempt him into a charge.
Come on, you overgrown lizard! What you got, eh?
Having weathered the initial charge, the Daemonettes attacked the Spearmen in a fury, scything through them like wheat. However, their reckless assault left them vulnerable and the Herald was finally slain, along with a couple of her companions. Despite killing a third of the Daemonettes, the Spearmen were forced onto the back foot by the daemons' onslaught, though they held their ground thanks to their strong discipline and numerical superiority.
The Spearmen actually kill something this turn. But far less than a handful of Daemonettes do in return.
A shadow of a threat is growing in Teclis' flank.
Errr, sir... Someone is coming.
The most significant combat on that flank lay deep in the High Elf lines. Having disposed of the Ellyrian Reavers, the Cold One Knights were free to look for a new target. They found a worthwhile one when they spotted the exposed flank of the Archer unit from which Teclis was directing the warriors on that side of the field. It was an opportunity to significantly affect the outcome of the battle, and their seized it enthusiastically. Spurring their reptilian mounts hard enough to draw hisses and snarls of protest, the knights wheeled in with lances at the ready. Shouts of warning erupted from the High Elves on the end of the unit, and their champion promptly pushed his way to the front, challenging the onrushing Dark Elves. It was a brave display, but he was cut down summarily by the Master bearing the battle standard. Half a dozen other Archers perished in the charge, and the High Elves reeled. Teclis' strong, clear commands and weight of numbers held them in place, but help would not be immediately forthcoming as the Cold One Knights pressed forward out of reach of the nearby Frostheart Phoenix.
The Cold One Knights press their formation forward to avoid the wrath of the Frostheart Phoenix, which would really have cramped their style.
These are magical levitating Cold One Knights. They are certainly not standing on a dice cube.
Toward the centre of the line, the Dreadspears finally succeeded in destroying the Lion Chariot that had been chewing its way through their line. This bought them enough respite to reform in a deeper, more defensive formation against the two remaining Eagle Nobles they were still trying to deal with. The other regiment of Dreadspears fighting the Moon Dragon continued to press it back, using their long reach and sharp reflexes to hold it at bay. The Dragon roared in frustration, but stubbornly refused to give up.

The Phoenix Guard continued to fend off the Dreadlord on his Dragon. They wielded their halberds with consummate skill, driving the Dark Elf back, and the protection of Asuryan was a match for the strongest blows from his Dragon mount. The other regiment were taking their toll on the Dreadspears, who had entered the engagement with weight of numbers in their favour, but those numbers were starting to dwindle rapidly.
The Dreadlord and his Dragon just can't seem to shift those pesky Phoenix Guard.
He might want to hurry up, though. Someone is coming to crash the party...
Really not ideal for him at all.
Inspired by Malekith's presence (and no doubt concerned by the terrible punishments he would inflict upon those who displeased him), the fleeing Assassins, Dreadspears and Dark Riders all regained their composure behind the front lines and reformed their formations. The Witch King's banner bearer decided not to continue standing in the open by himself (as macho as that might have been) and instead moved across and joined the Darkshard crossbowmen advancing nearby.
The BSB finds himself some new friends.
Together, we shall do great things!
The Assassins decide to rally and hope Malekith didn't spot their momentary lapse earlier.
The Dark Riders also rally, as was the fashion of the time.
The Executioners in the forest finally found themselves a victim when the Prince of Caledor stumbled out in the wake of the fleeing Witch Elves after the loss of his Dragon. Grieving over the loss of his mount and friend, he seemed to welcome the onrushing Khainites, and met their deadly assault with one of his own. Fight as he might however, he was outnumbered terribly and it was not long before one of their deadly blades found its way past his defences and he was cut down. The Dark Elves barely even slowed their advance, and charged straight on into the flank of the Dragon Princes as they themselves charged Malekith and his dread mount.
The grief-stricken Prince of Caledor has a sook about his fallen Dragon as 20 or so Executioners come for his head. "If my Dragon was here you wouldn't say that to me!"
The Dragon Princes realise they are not alone... Malekith also cast Shroud of Despair this turn, but given how things were going, I doubt it made any difference.
As one, the Dragon Princes and Executioners crashed home their charges. Two lances managed to penetrate Sulekh's impossibly tough hide, and one of the steeds managed to step on his sore claw. This only seemed to make him angry, and as he whipped about to retaliate, the proud knights of Caledor realised they had made a terrible mistake. His baleful roar caused battle-trained Elven Steeds to rear and shy away. He opened wide his monstrous jaws, and inside his mouth was a pit of infinite blackness that seemed to absorb all light but the unnatural red which shone from his terrifying eyes and reflected off the burnished armour of the Dragon Princes. In his wrath, the mighty Dragon shredded Elves and their mounts like paper. The screams of dying warriors and horses melded together in a mind-numbing cacophony, and even the Executioners struggled to complete their deadly work in the regiment's flank.
Well that went well...
Fully 15 Dragon Princes had lowered their lances and dared to charge into the Witch King; only the Noble leading them managed to emerge with his life. Screaming in mindless terror, he rode for the High Elf lines, never once looking back and barely seeming to notice his allies as he crashed his steed straight through them in his desperation to escape. Behind him echoed a terrible, mocking laughter that seemed to shake the ground beneath his horse's thundering hooves.
At least I still have my dignity... He's not still looking at me, is he? EEEEK!!!
The Manticore arrives to try to rescue the Chariot.
On the Dark Elf left, the Cold One Chariot had been caught off-guard by the rushing Sea Guard as they pursued the fleeing Corsairs. However, the Chariot Crew did not have to wait long for support. The slavering Manticore bellowed and crashed into the High Elves alongside them, the impact sending bodies and severed limbs flying spectacularly. Clearly the beast was warming to its work. The Beastmaster on top appeared to no longer be trying to fight himself – he was holding on with both hands and cackling in a slightly unhinged fashion as his favoured pet bathed them both in the enemy's blood. The Sea Guard still managed to dispose of the Chariot, but against this new arrival they were fighting a losing battle and they knew it. Nevertheless, their discipline held and they shifted into a more defensive formation in the hope of protecting each other and fending the killing machine off. Its terrible roars of enthusiasm suggested it would be a difficult task.
Yes! Yes! Kill them all, my pretty!
The view across the table at the end of Turn 4.
Another view, down low. Should have made them put the trees back in the base. Curses.
Another angle. Still a lot of stuff moving around...
The High Elf right flank trying to shore up its defences.
Some Maiden Guard/Sea Guard. Because, you know... Why not?
Yeah, there is still the odd Dragon kicking about.
Sulekh is left unengaged in front of how many shots? What's that, he doesn't care? That is some good contempt there, Mr Dragon
The Supreme Sorceress from the Dark Elf left flew all the way over to the right flank in order to try to cast Doom and Darkness on Teclis' unit. Because -3 Leadership would have made his steadfast test a little scarier...
The remaining Warlocks rally, far far away from anyone who cares.

End of Turn 4
High Elves: 9451 VPs
Dark Elves: 8719 VPs

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