Monday, 20 January 2014

Battle of Finuval Plain: Turn 5 – Don't Fail Your Strength Test...

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 5
High Elves Turn 5. To see a larger version, right-click and select "Open Link in New Tab"
The battle continued to be closely fought, with neither side gaining a clear upper hand. The winds of magic gusted and swirled strongly across the battlefield, and the Mages of the High Elves sensed that the moment for dramatic intervention had now come. Opening themselves to the energy around them and channelling it into them, they prepared to unleash a sorcerous onslaught upon their enemies.
The situation is making Teclis nervous.

On the left flank, Teclis himself was in dire peril. His regiment of Archers had been flanked by enemy Cold One Knights and the unit's champion had already sacrificed himself to buy the Archmage time. It was only a matter of time before the High Elves caved under the assault. They would need help. Teclis sent out a telepathic message indicating his predicament, and all around him units turned to help.

The Spearmen fighting down on the flatlands in front of the hill finally got the measure of the Daemonettes (who had slowed without the influence of their Herald) and cut them down in a flurry of spear jabs. They immediately reformed to face back the way they had come, intent upon aiding Teclis in his apparent distress.

The fleeing Silver Helms toward the centre ceased their flight and regrouped, facing the rear of the Cold One Knights. The Frostheart Phoenix had watched them sweep past after failing to engage them when they were preying upon the Ellyrian Reavers, and also wheeled about to bring their rear into view. Even the Star Dragon that had been in the thick of the enemy lines ignored the tempting target of the Corsairs as they advanced right under its nose, and instead turned and flew at top speed toward its own lines.
The Cold One Knights feel the net closing in.
Even with all this support on its way, Teclis knew that it might arrive too late. More direct action was required. Bracing himself, he held the Moonstaff of Lileath aloft and called forth its power. Dazzling light burst forth from the head of the staff and energy flowed into Teclis, further bolstering the considerable supply already available. Around him, the strongly blowing magical winds were whipped up into a storm that all but a few on the field could not see. All could see his eyes blazing white with power however, and feel the effects as he started to unleash it.

The Star Dragon returning to its own lines was flagging with numerous wounds inflicted by daemon, spear and crossbow bolt. Those wounds started to heal miraculously as the power of Apotheosis took hold. The Silver Helms reforming to face Teclis suddenly felt themselves dragged toward him with a lurch; the world seeming to blur and warp around them until they found themselves far closer to the Cold One Knights and in a good position to charge. Several Dark Elf Shades died as a Tempest burst forth amongst them and started hurling bodies about like rag dolls. Dispel Magic was cast despite there being no enemy spells in effect.
The Silver Helms are shunted forward by Walk Between the Worlds.
And through it all, the Archers around Teclis felt their spirits lifted as a measure of supernatural protection settled upon them, deflecting the blows of the Cold One Knights and their mounts. Bellowing in frustration, the Master leading the Dark Elves called forth Teclis in a challenge, however the display of power had left Teclis weakened and frail, and in no state to fend off a skilled (and apparently enraged) opponent. He skulked away from the fighting, slipping further back into the robed ranks of the Archers. Encouraged by their new-found magical protection they fought on without his leadership, though it was still not enough for them to force their assailants onto the back foot.
Bogged! The Cold One Knights can't convince the Archers to cough up their sweet, sweet Victory Points, despite Teclis cowering in the back ranks and the BSB heading off who knows where. Sure, the Archers are Steadfast. But they're testing on Leadership 8...
The Chosen cop a combo charge from the Swordmasters and White Lions. Might sting a little...
Eagle conga lines to try to shepherd the Chosen off the table. Really? In a game like this?
OK, so maybe I suggested it first. But it was totally tongue-in-cheek. This is in no way my fault! I am innocent, I tells you!
For all that half the forces on the left flank had responded to Teclis' call for aid, not everyone had paid heed. Having finally freed themselves of opponents when they felled the Keeper of Secrets, the Swordmasters had seen the wall of Chaos Chosen cut down the last brave White Lion, and charged into the enemy with cries of vengeance. They were joined by the regiment of White Lions behind them with the Teclis' battle standard bearer at their fore, and the two units crashed into the Warriors of Chaos in an avalanche of steel and blood. More than two thirds of the enemy were cut down in a vicious assault, and though the remainder hacked apart a dozen High Elves in return, they were overwhelmed. Their line broke and they were overrun and cut down mercilessly by the rampant Elves. Enthusiastic as their pursuit was, it carried the morale-boosting battle standard very, very far from their besieged commander and his retinue who by now were little more than a speck on the hill far behind them...
Oh my, that is a lot of dead Chosen. The rolling did assist the High Elves in this combat, particularly in terms of the relatively light damage they received. The Chosen had +1 Attack from their Eye of the Gods roll at the start of the game.
The High Elves enthusiastically pursue and catch their victims.
In the centre, the Moon Dragon recovered from its mindless rage at the loss of its rider and remembered that it had the ability to incinerate large numbers of Dark Elves with a single breath. It did so, and the Dreadspears finally lost their advantage in numbers and their discipline. They broke and were run down by the jubilant Dragon, which doubtless wondered why it hadn't thought of doing that ages ago.
The Moon Dragon capers in delight at the discovery that it had a breath weapon all along, and had simply forgotten about it.
The Nobles on their Eagles continued their struggle against the Dreadspears, however the Dark Elf numbers were starting to thin here also – they would need support soon or their position would be lost.
The High Elves shore up their line a little.
Tyrion's Silver Helms pick on a Dragon. Bullies.
Having been delayed repeatedly by trifling elements of the enemy force, Tyrion was finally free to lead his Silver Helms into the thick of the fray. Holding Sunfang aloft, he gave a roar of command and the cavalry charged into the flank of the Dreadlord and his Black Dragon as they struggled to break free of the remnant of the Phoenix Guard. The arrival of the Silver Helms signalled the end of that fight, as the Dragon all but fell over from the impact of the charge. Rider and beast were both destroyed, and the High Elves allowed their momentum to carry them toward the flank of the Dreadspears fighting the remaining Phoenix Guard, however it was not quite enough and they fell short. The Dark Elf spearmen had no idea how fortunate they were, as behind the Silver Helms, the Star Dragon rider had also set his sights upon their flank, but he too had failed to gauge the distance correctly and had to abort his charge. With none of their reinforcements actually arriving, the Phoenix Guard were forced to fight on alone.
Tyrion and friends overrun. But not fast enough...
The Black Dragon falls without putting up much resistance.
The first unit of Phoenix Guard is relieved, but the second unit has to fight on alone.
With her champion finally able to take a direct hand in the course of the battle and her line holding firm in spite of the enemy's best efforts, the Everqueen allowed herself time to pause and focus on a bigger problem. Nearby she saw a gore-splattered Noble of Caledor spurring his already-panicked steed like a madman as he burst straight through a regiment of High Elf Spearmen and headed for the relative safety of the back lines. Flowery curses followed him from the infantry as they picked themselves up, but it was doubtful he heard a word of it in his mindless state.

Looking back along his path, Alarielle had no difficulty working out the source of his blind terror. Like a dread shadow looming over the entire battlefield, she could see the Witch King's monstrous Dragon watching the Noble's departure before shifting its baleful, glowing gaze upon her instead. She felt an unnatural chill run down her spine and something seemed to claw at her senses, or perhaps her sanity, as it continued to focus its attention upon her. At that range she shouldn't have been able to see its eyes at all, but they seemed to draw her in and grow to fill her vision.

The assault would have been too much for an unprotected mind to bear, but the Everqueen was herself a magical being of great power, and broke the Dragon's hold over her with a barely suppressed shudder. She did not break the stare, however – she held it and sent her own power questing forth, looking for a solution to the enormous problem before her. Opening her senses, she found she could sense the blackened soul of Sulekh, but not as would normally be expected. It was a small, broken, tormented thing in the presence of something enormous, sinister and obviously daemonic. As evil as Sulekh had become in life, his spirit was now being crushed aside by some monstrous daemon that had come to possess its body, and the Dragon raged impotently against the abuse.

With the winds of magic beginning to swirl ominously around her, Alarielle allowed herself a tiny smile. She had found her solution to the problem. With an elaborate chant uttered too quickly to follow, she called forth the power of The Dwellers Below. She felt resistance as Malekith sought to counter her efforts, but his efforts were unsuccessful and the spell was completed. A terrible keening noise started to echo quietly across the battlefield before rapidly rising in power, and ghostly shadows seemed to whip along the ground and through the air, wrapping themselves around warriors before darting on harmlessly. They came from all directions, but all of them travelled toward the same destination – the Witch King and his impossibly evil companion.
Oh, not again Lachie. Learn to roll dispel dice, man! Gentile didn't even roll well to cast Dwellers, but he rolled better than that (just). Also, Malekith could have re-rolled this had he not already bollocksed up a dispel roll earlier in the phase.
The shadows gathering and swirled around Malekith and Sulkeh, before starting to coalesce into numerous distinct shapes – the shapes of Dragons. The keening sound continued to grow louder the whole time, deafening now and rising to the point where warriors stopped fighting in order to clap hands over their ears. Sulekh let forth an enormous roar of defiance, but even this was all but swallowed in the sound of the spell as it took shape.

There was a slight pause as though everything on the field held its breath, and for a moment the shadows still and the keening stopped. Then the sound redoubled as the shadows suddenly leapt at their victim, tearing and grabbing and trying to drag it down. The keening sound started to shift, and one could almost imagine that there were ghostly roars of Dragons amid the din. And so there were, for Alarielle had summoned forth the spirits of the Dragons of Caledor that Sulkeh had destroyed and devoured over the centuries. Even in life Sulekh had been an abomination to right-thinking Dragons, distorted by Dark Magic and twisted into a terrible parody of the noble creature he should have been. Now that the daemon had taken hold, matters were ten times worse. The shadows heaved and tore at their victim, dragging with unimaginable strength as they sought to pull him underground. Malekith himself was being attacked, though not with the same energy or need as that which assailed Sulekh. The Witch King was not their true target. He flailed about with iron fist and magical blade, fighting to keep the shadows from taking a hold upon him.

As supernatural as the strength of the shadows was, it seemed the Sulekh was mighty enough to withstand their efforts. He bellowed and struggled, fighting to beat his great wings and shift his stance, biting and clawing at the shadows as they became substantial. Warriors on both sides staggered away from the spectacle, trying to avoid being trampled in the struggle.
The Power Stance comes out to play as Lachie tries to prove he can keep Sulekh alive by rolling anything but a 6. Are you a man, Lachie?
It was not going to work. Sulekh was too strong and even the enraged spirits of countless Dragons given form was not going to bring him down. Alarielle saw all of this, and felt the powers she had gathered on the brink of unravelling. And then, just as Sulekh sensed his victory and devoted his energy to freeing himself, she struck again. This time her target was not the daemon possessing Sulekh's form, but rather the imprisoned spirit of the Dragon itself. It was not much – just a small ray of healing and light, but it scrorched its way through the daemon-wrought prison and it was all that was needed. Sulekh screeched in a strange, ululating way as the spirits possessing its body suddenly went to war upon one another. He flailed and fell, alternating between struggling to rise and tearing at his own scaled breast as the two spirits fought for control.
And with this sudden diversion, Sulekh's resistance against the power of The Dwellers Below was shattered beyond hope of recall. The shadows keened and roared triumphantly, latching onto their prey and dragging it down, into the very earth itself. It was slow at first, but the struggle was already won and the thrashing Dragon was dragged down faster and faster, and it was all Malekith could to do leap free as the ground approached him, rolling to his feet and whirling to ensure that no further shadows were coming for the Witch King himself. He cursed vilely as Sulekh's final outstretched claw was pulled beneath the ground, and then the earth seemed to solidify once more, and the cacophony of his dread mount's demise finally eased away to nothing.
Malekith ends up on foot. Man, that was not in the script! And yes, his armour should be black. But it's all covered in gore from Sulekh's earlier efforts. Honest.
With the Dragon's bellows and the keening of the spell gone, a deathly silence settled across the battlefield. Then reality seemed to reassert itself, and the sounds of battle gradually resumed as warriors recovered their wits and launched themselves at each other once more. For Malekith however, the ordeal was not over. Even as he regained his composure and looked to the units around him, a surge of power rose from somewhere on the flank, and the smell of ozone filled the air. He instinctively raised his magical shield overhead as a series of savage lightning bolts crashed down upon him as one of the High Elf Archmages cast Uranon's Thunderbolt in an attempt to capitalise on the Witch King's sudden exposure. Agony wracked his body and the smell of burning meat filled the air, conjuring unwelcome memories of his unimaginable suffering in the Flames of Asuryan all those centuries ago. His screams filled the air and he dropped to one knee, however somehow he endured and when the blinding flashes of the assault ended, he staggered back to his feet, smoke rising from his ravaged form.
Don't look at Malekith like that... He's the blurry one down front.
From their vantage point upon the hill at the back of the High Elf lines, the lone figure of the Witch King seemed an insignificant target to the crew of the Eagle Claw Bolt Throwers. He might almost have escaped notice, were he not lit up in a dazzling display by the magical lightning strikes. As it was, when he emerged from the onslaught it became apparent to the High Elves that it was indeed Malekith himself striding toward them, and they reacted in a manner befitting the long history of grief and death he had inflicted upon his former kin. Every Bolt Thrower in the battery turned toward him, and the air was filled with whistling bolts as they sought to bring him down for good. He saw them coming, but could do little to avoid them as they screamed in and began to ricochet off his black armour. Ensorcelled as it was, it held against the first few impacts, but Malekith knew that his luck would not hold. He snarled in frustration and suddenly vanished as he hurled himself into the perils of the Realm of Chaos rather than face certain destruction in such an ignominious fashion. His great army would have to fend for itself; his part in the battle was over.
Nooooo! Malekith is dead! Errr, I mean he escaped into the Warp. Totally. You can't prove anything!
There were no cheers at the Witch King's sudden departure – most of the High Elves had other things to worry about, and scaring him off was no great victory when they had been so close to destroying him forever. The White Lions nearby charged into the Executioners who were still shaking bits of Dragon Prince from their blades. Half a dozen Elves fell on either side as great axes and swords flashed as one, but neither side gave any ground.
White Lions and Executioners duke it out.
On the right flank, the Manticore continued its bloody work at the expense of the Sea Guard. A Noble stepped forward in an attempt to kill the beast before it could devour all his warriors single-handed, but he was torn to pieces and the rampage continued. The Flamespyre Phoenix flew past nearby and landed immediately in front of Hellebron's Cauldron of Blood and its entourage of Witch Elves. It gave a defiant cry as it blocked the their advance, though the move seemed almost certain to be suicidal.
Check out our pimptastic diverter. Eagles are so 2000 points. We use Phoenixes here...
Except that he's not really diverting. Just kind of sitting there and hoping their overrun roll is terrible, I guess.
Get out of our way, silly birdie!
The Manticore continues to revel in its work, eating everything in sight.
The Archmage on his Star Dragon swayed slightly in his saddle as he flew into a position beside the Corsairs. The effort of blasting Malekith so powerfully with lightning had cost him, and his head spun slightly as a result. The Dragon landed next to the Dark Elves and breathed forth a stream of fire, incinerating numerous members of the regiment despite the protection of their sea dragon cloaks.
Across the table after High Elf Turn 5.
The right flank.
The whole table at the end of High Elf Turn 5.

Dark Elves Turn 5
Dark Elves Turn 5. To see a larger version, right-click and select "Open Link in New Tab"
The Witch King had abandoned them, but the Dark Elves were not about to miss an opportunity to slaughter their hated kin, and they fought on with renewed bitterness.

On the Dark Elf right flank, the Cold One Knights continued their efforts to break through the Archers to get to Teclis as he struggled to stay on his feet after his earlier exertions. A Supreme Sorceress flew her Dark Pegasus across the field in order to aid their efforts, however Teclis was still alert enough to counter her attempt to cast Doom and Darkness upon his bodyguard. Once more he ignored the mocking challenge of the Dark Elf Master and tried not to focus on his battered pride. The Archers fought on without his leadership; their courage far outstripped their ability to defeat their assailants.
Last chance to break Teclis before his mates arrive. Alas, he is too cool to fail Leadership 8 tests. Lucky...
Seeking to draw attention away from the now stranded Cold One Knights, the two remaining Shades charged headlong into the rear of the High Elf Spearmen who were moving to relieve Teclis' regiment. The Shades leapt in with enthusiasm, but were unable to make great break the solid formation of their opponents and turned to flee. Their efforts did not go completely unrewarded however, as the Spearmen turned and chased them down as they ran. Sure, they died. But they had successfully distracted the High Elves they were attacking. And the Chaos Knights used the gap they had created to head at best speed toward the Cold One Knights, intent on either offering them assistance or picking up the pieces once they were gone.
Our work here is finished!
Having watched the destruction of the Chaos Chosen, the Corsairs found themselves with an opportunity as the pursuing White Lions presented them with an unprotected flank. They needed no further encouragement and charged in, however only a handful of the High Elves fell to their attack, and their stubborn discipline ensured they held their position. It was only then that the Corsairs noticed the Spearmen running toward their own flank, after the Shades deliberately drew them in that direction. It was all a little convenient. Dark Elf politics in action, perhaps.
Damn, they didn't break.
Uh-oh, are they looking at us?
Die, Ameaglos! We have finally arrived!
The Chaos Warriors finally got their act together and successfully charged the flank of the Eagle-riding Nobles, however their arrival didn't really have the desired impact. Despite their numbers, they barely swung the struggle in favour of the besieged Dreadspears as the High Elves and their glorified pigeons fought on bravely.
The Ameaglos hold, mainly thanks to some fortuitous rolling. Those guys should have been dead long ago, I'm sure. Nice of the Chaos Warriors to join the party in turn 624 though. Fashionably late, guys.
In the centre, there was a High Elf Dragon running unopposed through the Dark Elf back lines, but the situation was addressed as one of the Cold One Chariots charged straight into it. Unfortunately it saw the charge coming, and lifted itself from the ground to avoid the scythed wheels as they slashed past. It also swiped at the Dark Elves in return and managed to damage the wheel with a trailing claw. The Chariot's momentum was lost and the two parties turned more slowly to face each other on another pass.
Having heard great tales of the Dragon-slaying exploits of the other Chariots, this one figures it will have a go. Well, it was worth a shot.
The Everqueen's actions had drawn the attention of the Dark Elf Sorceresses, and the rider of the Dragon in the centre decided to retaliate in kind. Deliberately drawing in more power than was safe, she unleashed an unstoppable Final Transmutation upon Alarielle's huge White Lion regiment. No less than twenty-five High Elves were turned to dapper-looking golden statues, however the Everqueen herself and her battle standard bearer both avoided any lasting harm. The Sorceress' careless over-use of magic resulted in a Dimensional Cascade erupting around her, but the swift movement of her Dragon and a little luck saw her elude any serious consequences. She even found time to cast a Plague of Rust upon Tyrion's Silver Helm unit, rapidly corroding the silvered metal of their armour and barding.
The Crossbowmen eye off the flank of Tyrion's unit. How hard can they be, right?
Tyrion's entourage were in fact the focus of the action in the centre of the field, as the Dark Elves looked to recover from the disaster of their leader's defeat. Having joined up with a regiment of Darkshard crossbowmen, the battle standard bearer managed to lead them in a glorious charge into the flank of the Silver Helms. The effort might have been little more than a futile gesture, had they not been joined in the charge by the recently rallied Dreadspears with several Assassins at their head.
Prepare for Total Assassination, baby!
All you have to do is hold and the help will arrive, Tyrion. It'll be fine...
It is a good day to die, right?
Warnings erupted from the High Elf cavalry as they saw the headlong charge of the enemy infantry regiments, but there was little time to react. The Assassins leapt in amongst the Silver Helms, spinning and slashing with gleeful abandon. Horses and Elves screamed alike, and more than half the High Elves were slain within moments. Tyrion himself had not even managed to make it to the fighting line when his followers were already breaking. His rallying cries fell on deaf ears and he was soon swallowed by the whirlwind of fleeing Asur and pursuing Druchii. In the confusion he was pulled from his saddle and lost, as his unit was destroyed by the savagely jubilant Dark Elves. In their enthusiasm, the Darkshards swept on into the flank of the unengaged Phoenix Guard, whilst the Dreadspears were caught behind them.
Tyrion leads the retreat. I don't think he even manned up and used the Make Way rule to try to lead the fight. If not, he got what he deserved. Coward.
Run! He's got a swoooord!
The Darkshards pursue into the flank of the Phoenix Guard
Help is on its way, Phoenix Guard!
The other Phoenix Guard are in a spot of bother.
The resistance of the other Phoenix Guard finally ended when they found themselves flanked by a regiment of Corsairs and a Beastmaster (who was fighting on foot after the earlier destruction of his Manticore). The assault was too much for the High Elves, however they did manage to elude their pursuers in the chaos following the destruction of the Silver Helms, and fled past the Everqueen's own unit before eventually rallying.
Running away seemed the best option. Silently, of course. Got to do these things in a dignified manner.
The White Lions and Executioners fight on in blurry, unfocused style.
Meanwhile a Hydra had been running by, but decided to watch the slaughter.

The fighting between the White Lions and Executioners had begun evenly, but now the Dark Elves set themselves and began laying about them in ruthless fashion. Every one of the White Lions was cut down, and the Noble who had been leading them suddenly found himself standing alone. This was clearly too demoralising for him, and he turned to run before being hacked down from behind as the Executioners strode forward. 
No more White Lions. The Hydra almost looks disappointed. Note that he regained 2 wounds too. Hydra regeneration actually almost works!
You shall not pass!
The defiance of the Flamespyre Phoenix was short-lived as Hellebron led her Witch Elves on the attack. The Hag Queen herself hacked the Phoenix down on the charge before carrying on through into the Phoenix Guard waiting behind it. Events took a twist however, as the fallen bird's body burst into flames and was consumed. The glowing ashes had only just settled when they erupted from the ground again, swirling in a fiery display before coalescing into a living Phoenix once more, looking angrily at the rear of the Dark Elves as they sauntered past.
The sacrifice of the Phoenix was in vain - they made it anyway.
But wait, there's more! The Phoenix fails to notice that it died, and gets up behind its killers.
The Manticore's blood-lust had not nearly been sated yet, as it continued to tear the poor Sea Guard to shreds. It was all the Beastmaster could do to stop the beast rollling joyously in the gore, knowing he would be crushed by such a grisly celebration. Almost a dozen more of them fell before its rampage, but somehow their training held them in place when their desire to fight had long since departed.
Bits of High Elf are flying everywhere. The Manticore is having the time of its life.
The Corsairs had recovered from their earlier flight and now charged the Shadow Warriors, looking to vent their frustration upon a vulnerable target. However, the embittered warriors of Naggarythe gave as good as they got, and the combat was a stalemate.
The Corsairs charge the Shadow Warriors, but find they are equally bitter and grumpy.
The mess of units in the centre at the end of the turn.
End of Turn 5
High Elves: 13177 VPs
Dark Elves: 10099 VPs


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this battle with the world. The write-up is really great - much appreciated. It's a real piece of inspiration for us other gamers out there to organise great big games like this one (though I fear that the big game our club has planned for February will look pretty puny in comparison). Many thanks again, and I cannot wait for part 6.

  2. I should have mentioned the general disgust at the manner of Sulekh's demise. Even our scribe was unable to hide his feelings in the bullet point notes: Dwellers on Malekith (they are weak, spineless dogs with no honor). Kills Sulekh, Malekith lives. So lame. >:(

    1. Yes, I agree, it isn't a fitting way for a huge dragon to go. I think it's always a hard call what to do in huge games like this - OK, you're playing more narratively, but you still want to win...

      I guess it's the curse of 'anything but a 6/1' - I'm sure generals fail look out sir checks much more than 1/6 of the time!

      Still, I think you wrote it up in a really epic fashion, so even though it may have just been a case of 'roll a 6, kill the dragon', it read as a really epic magical battle, so as far as I'm concerned, you did the scene the justice it deserved.

      What do you think about allowing fate points in huge games like this? Giving each army 3 re-rolls or whatever? It might avert that sort of thing, anyway.