Saturday, 14 June 2014

Stemming the Tide - Part 3

This post is the final part of my report of the Warhammer display game played at Little Wars. If you missed the previous part of the report, you can find it here. The main page for the report is here.

Turn 5
The White Wolves find themselves in a spot of bother.

It was not going well. Archaon's mounting frustration was fast becoming a towering rage, and he decided to vent his feelings upon the nearest outlet – the Knights of the White Wolf. With various confused war cries exalting a random assortment of Chaos Gods, he urged his steed into the flank of the Knights. The Nurgle Chosen continued to follow him around like adoring puppies, slamming into the rear of the enemy. Having finally come to grips with a worthwhile target, neither of the Chaos parties held back. Archaon himself slew 8 of the White Wolves, whilst his steed gored another. The Chosen then struck with a vengeance, killing all of the remaining Knights except the Preceptor, who fought back alongside the Grand Master and Amber Wizard in a futile display. Luthor Huss found himself in yet another challenge, this time with the champion of the Chosen. Once more he dealt with his opponent, however his heroics counted for little and he and his companions fled for their lives, narrowly eluding Archaon. The Chosen ignored orders to hold their ground and chased the survivors as well, however they moved ponderously and only succeeded in exposing their flank to Karl Franz's regiment of yet more Knights.
The centre of the field, with the White Wolf Knights fighting the Nurgle Chosen and Archaon, and the Khorne Ogres against the Stirland Halberdiers.
Another view of the mess in the middle as Archaon winds up...
Archaon's toll is considerable.
Then the Chosen start rolling dice...
...Which adds to the pile of casualties somewhat.
The survivors make their escape. 3 character models, and a unit champion to stop them rallying.
Archaon's pursuit leaves him just short of the Steam Tank
The Chosen shamble forward very slowly, leaving them a little exposed.
The blurry Khornate Ogres about to have their way with the Stirland Halberdiers.
The Stirland Halberdiers soon discovered that even with the weakening effects of Soulblight in their favour, they had picked a fight they could not win against the Khornate Ogres. They fought bravely, but were destroyed with comical ease by the huge brutes.

On the Chaos right flank, the Empire Inner Circle Knights were still not finished with their rampage. Their pursuit of the Tzeentch Knights had carried them into a hapless Chaos Chariot, which they smashed apart with contemptuous ease. However, they saw themselves being encircled by the Chaos forces around them as they pushed forward, and their Grand Master pulled them up short with a command to reform, facing toward the centre of the field.
The Inner Circle Knights continue their rampage, smashing through a Chaos Chariot that got in the way.
The Spearmen and Halberdiers on the Empire right flank find themselves in trouble.
On the Chaos left flank, the carnage continued as the Nurgle Knights charged into the flank of the Halberdiers. Already struggling with the Warriors, this was far more than the Empire soldiers could handle and they broke and ran, only to be cut down where they stood. The Knights wheeled about as they pursued, and swept right past the rear of the Spearmen and into the Arch Lector on his War Altar.
Surrounded...
The Halberdiers are overwhelmed and break (they were maybe 1 model off having Steadfast)
The Arch Lector in harm's way.
The Spearmen were prepared for the charge of the Marauders and braced for impact as the Nurgle worshippers flung themselves into the fray. Their flails reaped a terrible toll on the Empire regiment, as nearly a score of Spearmen fell – far more than the little damage they managed to inflict in return. The survivors turned and fled, and managed to escape as the Marauders ignored them and instead turned to look at the Volley Gun nearby.
The Spearmen flee, and defy the rules by taking their banner with them (oops).
Hahaha, you'll never get our banner, suckers!
Having seen the devastation caused by the Everchosen of Chaos (and watching the shattered remnant of the White Wolf Knights continue to flee for safety as fast as their terrified horses would carry them), the Steam Tank commander decided to take matters into his own hands and rammed his machine straight into Archaon.
Steam up, captain.
Stuff this, we're leaving.
Karl Franz led his entourage toward the flank of the Nurgle Chosen only to see them turn and flee to the safety of the Chaos back lines. The reformed Inner Circle Knights on the Empire left spotted their retreating forms and moved to charge them as well, which sent them fleeing further out of range. The Knights then looked to charge into the flank of the non-Khornate regiment of Chaos Ogres, only for them to also hitch their skirts, turn tail and flee across the field like a bunch of very large, unsightly little girls.
The Chosen elect to run, rather than facing the music.
Realising that the Knights had run out of enemies and were becalmed in their current position, the Griffon behind them took to the skies and descended upon the Khorne Marauders where they had rallied after their previous retreat. The Marauder Chieftain stepped forth to issue a challenge, however his words were cut short as he was impaled in the foot-long talons of the Griffon as it landed upon him. The remaining Marauders began to press around the beast and its Imperial rider, however they held their ground as they sought to protect the flank of their allies.
The Empire second wave before charges (before the Nurgle Chosen nicked off).
On the Empire right, the Demigryphs decided to try to assist the War Altar as the Arch Lector was preparing to try to fend off a score of Nurgle Knights including a pair of Exalted Heroes all by himself. The Demigryphs charged in alongside him, whilst the Hurricanum moved across in front of Karl Franz's regiment as they milled about trying to restore calm after their foiled charge. The fleeing Spearmen rallied at the base of the hill, realising that nobody was interested in chasing them.
Demigryphs to the rescue!
The Hurricanum moves across to bolster the Demigryphs.
Once more the Amethyst Wizard on the Empire left unleashed the power of Soulblight irresistibly, whilst on the other side of the field, the Light Wizard Lord cast Birona's Timewarp. The Empire magical domination of the field (and ability to roll double 6s) was becoming apparent. The Volley Gun on the left fired upon the Nurgle Marauders as they were bearing down upon it, however it was not enough to panic them and the war machine's fate seemed sealed.

If the weakening effects of Soulblight had any impact upon Archaon's resolve, he gave no indication. He faced the Steam Tank down fearlessly as it crashed into him, wounding him once more but leaving him and his steed still standing. He lashed out in return and carved a gash in the machine's steel hide, holding his ground. For once his treacherous blade made no attempt to betray him, seeming content to focus its rage upon the enemy before it.

Bolstered by Birona's Timewarp and the presence of the Hurricanum and War Altar, the Demigryphs crashed into the Nurgle Knights just as they came to blows with the Arch Lector. Half a dozen Chaos Knights were felled as the two forces collided, however the survivors took a heavy toll upon the Demigryphs in return. The Arch Lector found himself in a challenge with the Nurgle Exalted Hero on his Daemon Steed, however both parties failed to inflict any damage. Though both sides had taken similar casualties, the numbers of the Chaos regiment and the presence of the Chaos battle standard was enough to turn the tide in their favour. The Demigryphs ignored the bellowed orders of the Emperor nearby and fled, although the Arch Lector held firm and fought on alone.
Rescue failed. I think I lost combat by 1 despite everything in favour of the Demigryphs, and then they fled on Ld 9 with a reroll. Such weakness. We shall be having words when we get home.

Turn 6
Archaon howled curses from all four ruinous powers upon his useless minions as they fled all around him. Dire threats and promises of eternal retribution echoed across the field, and this apparently had the desired effect as all of the fleeing Chaos regiments turned and faced the enemy once more. Archaon himself was still occupied, hacking furiously (though largely ineffectually) at the Steam Tank. The driver huddled inside, fingers in his ears as the crashes of steel upon steel and the bellowed threats echoed deafeningly around the cramped confines of the machine.
The cowardly Ogres rally far, far from the action.
Oh bother. It was a nice Volley Gun.
On the Chaos left flank, the Nurgle Marauders charged forward and dismembered the crew of the Volley Gun. The Nurgle Knights met with less success as the regiment was forced to stand around and wait as the Exalted Hero continued his duel with the Arch Lector. Having brandished their weapons at each other ineffectually earlier, this time the Chaos hero moved in for the kill... and instead had his skull caved in by the Mace of Helstrum.
The Arch Lector fights on alone, knocking the head off the first Chaos Hero to call him out.
On the right flank, the Khorne Warriors who had been skulking behind the tower saw that the Inner Circle Knights were facing the other direction, and that their opportunity had come. They charged into the rear of the enemy formation, only to find themselves facing a wall of Empire heroes as the Grand Master and Arch Lector turned and shouldered their way through the ranks to face the threat. Faced with this unexpectedly stern opposition and still affected by the weakening effects of Soulblight, the Chaos Warriors were unable to make much headway in the struggle, and with a shouted command from the Grand Master, the Knights reformed their formation and prepared to dismantle their assailants.
The Inner Circle Knights get read-charged in their bus formation, but the characters all step back and largely negate the danger.
The Griffon fights bravely to buy time for the Inner Circle Knights.
The Empire Griffon fighting the Khorne Marauders found itself flanked by the mostly dead Giant and a Chariot. In the chaos that followed, the Griffon turned and gored the Giant to death, causing him to fall across and damage the Chariot. Distracting as this was, the Chariot crew still managed to hack the Empire rider from his saddle, sending the Griffon into a grief-stricken rage. Its misery was short-lived however, as the Marauders swarmed toward it and forced it away from the corpse of its fallen master, and it tripped and was dragged down as it tried to escape.
The Emperor's bodyguard on Knights finally gets involved.
The battle was going surprisingly well for the Empire defenders, and the Emperor knew that the time had come for decisive action. With a shout of encouragement, he led his entourage of Knights in a glorious charge into Archaon himself. The battle seemed to hold its breath as the army generals met in the centre of the field. Archaon was already badly wounded, and as the Empire Knights drove home their charge, they were bolstered by the power of Birona's Timewarp as the Wizard Lord cast it yet again with irresistible force.
The final showdown - the Emperor Karl Franz faces off against the Everchosen of Chaos, Archaon.
Seeing the arrival of this new threat, the Everchosen of Chaos twisted in his saddle and bellowed a challenge at the puny human Emperor. Karl Franz didn't flinch, and swung Ghal Maraz in a great shining arc toward his hated foe. The blow struck true, and even Archaon's powerful protective enchantments were unable to turn its power aside. He fell from his saddle with a gurgling roar of frustration, disappearing beneath the hooves of the mass of charging cavalry.
As it ended.

Horns blared all across the Chaos lines as their leader fell, and even the crazed Khornate Ogres right before the Emperor's armoured bodyguard abruptly halted their advance as some recognition of what had transpired sank through their addled skulls. Their hesitation would not last forever though, and as seemingly endless as the ranks of Chaos Warriors behind them were, the main bulk of the Chaos invasion was still yet to arrive.

The Empire forces had won the respite they looked for, and quickly withdrew in the confusion that followed the Everchosen's fall. They had won a great victory, and bought their comrades the time they needed to escape the devastation that would surely come. It was only unfortunate that there had been no time for Archaon's body to be recovered...

Aftermath
The game went reasonably well, considering the constraints we were working with. We had a limited window and everything was a bit rushed, but we did very well to get through 6 turns. Admittedly we kind of cut the final turn short when Archaon fell, but realistically the remaining combats probably would have seen the Khorne Warriors on the Chaos right broken, and the Arch Lector on the other flank taking yet another stubborn test after failing to hurt the Nurgle BSB in a challenge. It felt like a logical time to stop things and we were out of time anyway.

If we had played things through to the end of turn 8 (as the scenario allows), the Chaos forces might have made slightly more progress. Karl Franz's unit might have been in some danger with large regiments of Warriors and Chosen still kicking about, and if they went there would have been nothing left between the Chaos forces and the central objective. When we stopped the Empire led 4-3 by holding half the table and 2 of the objectives, but that could have changed with a little more time and more Chaos reinforcements.

Army selection for the game was a little bit strange, and (as it turned out) slightly flawed. I had started by working out what significant Chaos units we could put on the table, then working back from there. It wasn't long before I had included all the Empire models I had available, including a swathe of Lords and Heroes in an effort to buy more space for small details like characters in the Chaos army. As it was, I still had to cut some Chaos units in order to fit in a group of Daemon Princes and Heroes, so the Empire ended up far more character-heavy.

I had also failed to consider that all the high-level wizards on the Chaos side were large, single models who were obvious targets for the Empire artillery (and Flagellants, as it turned out). It was too easy to pick them off, and leave the Chaos army decidedly light on for magic. This probably didn't matter as much as it might have given how many double 6s we rolled for the Empire spell-casting, but it was still an advantage for the defenders.

In the end, this battle was never really about trying to make a perfectly balanced game, and it worked well enough as the spectacle it was meant to be.

8 comments:

  1. Excellent write up am looking forward to the next one

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    1. Cheers! Might be a while before I get around to something this large again, though.

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  2. This has kept me nicely entertained and wishing I was there. 6 turns out of 8 in 1 day and 14000? Points aside is brilliant. My group found it hard to play 10000 a side over 1 night and a day. Some great looking units too congratulations.

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    1. I think we had an hour and a half to set up, and then 6 hours to play. It probably wouldn't be possible without some very experienced players who can keep things moving fast. Certainly you need to play at a pretty relentless pace.

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  3. well, those chosen roll well... guess that's what you get for using my figures.

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  4. Fantastic showing! Beautiful armies and some epic fights, thanks very much for this! Warhammer at its finest :-)

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  5. Thanks again for another excellent, massive battle report. I know I am months late in commenting, but it is much appreciated

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    1. No matter, the reports are not meant to be forgotten after just a few days. It's nice to know people are still looking at them! Cheers. :)

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