Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Battle of Vanhaldenschlosse: Part 4

This is the final part of the Battle of Vanhaldenschlosse report. You can find the previous part here, or go back to the main page here.

Empire Turn 4

Empire Turn 4
The battlefield was littered with corpses and broken bones and everywhere the snow was turning red with the blood of the living. The Empire lines were holding their own, however the right flank was being sorely tested and the Grand Theogonist himself was in grave peril.

The Griffon arrives to disrupt the one-sided party the Wraiths had been hoping for.
On the Empire left flank, the Swordsmen trying to fend off the Wraiths were able to breathe a sigh of relief as they were joined by the rider of a Griffon bearing a magic sword. His cuts struck home where the mundane weapons of the Swordsmen could not, and the punishment quickly took its toll on the Wraiths, who vanished with ghastly howls.
Only the Banshee remains.
Well this is hardly sporting, is it?
The Zombies attacking the Knights nearby quickly gave way as Halberdiers charged in alongside their allies whilst a group of Demigryph Knights arrived in the flank. Together the Empire regiments carved a swathe through the hapless Zombies, with only the Wight King and Wraith at their head causing real trouble in return.
Once we were many...
Oh good, more bats. Well, let's get on with it then.
The Greatswords who had fought their way across the lake once again found their path blocked by Bats, and again they charged without hesitation and cut them down. When it was done they regrouped facing the flank of the Skeletons, who continued to have trouble harming the well-protected Reiksguard. The Knights did not appear to be in serious trouble, but they were certainly trapped and would doubtless appreciate some help.
Help, we're bogged in Skeletons!
Help is on its way.
The Knights Panther are rewarded for their long march with a worthwhile target - the enemy army's most powerful unit, depleted though it now is.
The Knights Panther galloped past as they finally found their path clear and spied the Grave Guard that were eyeing off the flank of the Reiksguard. With lances lowered they crashed home the charge – a clash of the two strongest regiments of the field, albeit both of them already significantly damaged. The threat posed by the weapons of the Grave Guard was very real, however they were no longer magically driven by the Corpse Cart and so their reflexes were no match for the living Knights. The cavalry burst through their line with irresistible force, and though a couple of the Knights were cut down by the Vampire leading the undead regiment, his resistance was soon ended. The momentum of the charge carried the Knights almost to within reach of the Zombies escorting Master Kraven, the Necromancer.

The Grave Guard facing Volkmar were almost spent, but with their final strength they made one last push to kill the Empire general. One blow struck true, but was again, miraculously, turned aside by the Grand Theogonist’s armour. As the Crossbowmen hacked down the last of the Grave Guard, Volkmar had just a moment to utter a prayer of thanks to Sigmar when he heard the Cannons behind him roar once more, and turned to follow their aim. Their target this time was the distant Corpse Cart – the one bearing Helman Ghorst himself. Once again the accuracy of the machines was impressive. The cart was shattered by the impact, and the Necromancer himself disappeared with a howl of anger and frustration.
Volkmar breaks free of the Grave Guard and watches the overrun of the Knights Panther fall just short of the remaining undead regiment in the area.
Ghorst’s power was integral in holding the undead army together, and with his loss the magic began to unravel. Those Necromancers and Vampires who remained picked up the threads as best they could, but still a wave of weakness rippled through the undead lines first, and many of the unnatural creatures facing the Empire army sagged and crumbled to dust.

Taking advantage of the distractions caused by the loss of the undead general, one of the Bright Wizards cast Fulminating Flame Cage upon the Ghouls in the centre as the fleeing Handgunners rallied in front of them. A blinding wall of flame erupted around the Ghouls, promising a fiery death if they dared to charge through the flames. 
The Handgunners rally and a wizard casts Flame Cage on the Ghouls. Those Ghouls are on fire. You'll just have to take my word for it.
As impressive as the Cannon shot at Ghorst had been, the volatile war machines were also showing their downside as two Cannons and a Mortar all exploded in a chain of deadly misfires. The Empire artillery was a spent force, however it had done it s work well.
The Halberdiers arrive and make a mess of the Terrorgheist.
The Halberdiers that had bested the Black Knights now wheeled about and charged into the flank of the Terrorgheist, driving into it with such force that it shrieked and collapsed, leaving the lone White Wolf Knight standing before it, seemingly disbelieving that he was still alive. The Halberdiers carried on with their momentum, however they pulled up just short of the Ghouls facing the Greatswords.
The Terrorgheist is gone and the Greatswords fight on. Some assistance was coming to some of these regiments from the Heavens Wizard under Nick's command. I think boosted Harmonic Convergence might have been cast more than once, which helps to explain the impressive backbone displayed by a few units in particular.
For their part, the Greatswords were more than holding their own. The blood-red blade of Count Luthor von Carstein continued to reap a toll upon them, but their heavy plate armour protected them from the worst of the clawing and biting from the Ghouls, and they fought back with discipline and skill. Many of their efforts focused upon the Vampire who was tearing through their number, and to the Count Luthor’s dismay, he found himself being battered by several heavy double-handed hammers. The Ghouls around him were wary of the damage the weapons inflicted, and he found them pulling back away from him when they should have been alongside, offering support. Even as he glanced back wondering what had happened to the legions of followers (who were ever a disappointment), the final blow descended upon his head and he fell.

Count Luthor’s loss was another crippling blow to the magic sustaining the undead army, and it was all Vlad could do to seize control of the entire army and keep most of it upright and fighting. He cursed the feebleness of his so-called allies, even as he beheaded the last of the feisty Flagellants and prepared to resume his march onto the field. In truth, he was beginning to doubt the wisdom of committing too heavily to this battle. It did not appear to be going particularly well. He would have to be cautious.
The Flagellants are gone, but now there are Free Company holding up Lord Altschul.
Even as the Flagellants fell, the Zombie Dragon of Lord Altschul was assaulted in its flank by a regiment of Free Company. They charged the enormous rotting beast with a courage that Altschul would not have thought possible, and he was briefly impressed before dismissing the feeling and setting about killing them all for their temerity. Of course, the Free Company were hopelessly outmatched, but for the moment their numbers and the momentum of the charge kept them in place.

The Steam Tank continued to shake and hiss as the Wraiths tore more vital components apart in their quest to reach the driver. The poor man screamed and cried as one of the Wraiths pushed its ghastly, hissing head through the wall to find him. He could have sworn the apparition was laughing at him.
Pistoliers charge the flank of the Grave Guard and pretend they're making a real difference to the combat.
The Demigryph Knights continued to tear through the Grave Guard in front of them, and this time the Black Knights lacked the advantage of a lance charge to help them penetrate the enemy armour. The Demigryphs shrugged off most of the blows that struck them, but the toll they were taking in return was terrible. Barely more than a dozen Grave Guard remained, and the last few Black Knights crumbled as the magic sustaining them failed under the pressure.

Meanwhile in the Grave Guard regiment nearby, the game of cat-and-mouse being played by the Griffon and the Horror of the High Fells came to an end as the Ghoul King abandoned trying to avoid its opponent and instead leapt at its foe from its hiding place. The Griffon shrieked a warning to its rider, but the cry turned to a gurgle as the Ghoul King lashed out with razor-sharp claws and murderous intent. In a flurry of blows, the chest of the Griffon was torn to shreds and the beast collapsed. With a roar of anguish, the rider leapt from the saddle as his mount died, driving his blade into the chest of the Ghoul King as he fell upon him. Before he could properly stand, the Grave Guard around them had stepped forward, and removed his head from his shoulders with brutal efficiency.
The Griffon is gone and the path of the Grave Guard is clear. Or is it...?

Vampire Counts Turn 4

Vampire Counts Turn 4
Vlad leads the charge into a regiment of Spearmen, whilst Lord Altschul keeps working on the Free Company.
With the pesky Flagellants dealt with, Vlad was finally free to lead his troops properly onto the field. His next victims volunteered themselves – a regiment of Spearmen seeking to bar his path. The Ghouls around him followed as he charged the Spearmen, and together they tore apart the front ranks of the regiment. The humans were no match for the speed and power of the unliving, and the savagery of the Ghouls was barely less effective. In a surprising twist however, the shattered Spearmen didn't flee. In an ill-advised display of courage, they held their ground and fought back as best they could. Vlad was impressed. And annoyed. More delays. The Free Company fighting (and dying) against Count Altschul were similarly defiant, drawing unwarranted comfort from their strength in numbers. 
The Spearmen roll double 1s to hold the line unexpectedly. Nick probably declared this to be "tactical brilliance."
“When this is over, your brave corpses will make an excellent addition to my legions of zombies,” Vlad snarled.
Skeletons add their bulk to the Demigryph combat. Because you know, Skeletons carry all those extra pounds.
The Demigryphs were about to get to work on wiping out the last of the Grave Guard when they found more enemies in their flank – this time a vast legion of Skeletons. This may not have been a concern, however when the Vampire leading the Grave Guard unleashed the power of Okkam's Mindrazor, matters became worse. Now each blow of the regiment struck with the force of an avalanche, and the strong armour of the Demigryph Knights offered no protection whatsoever. The struggle became a race for the Empire troops to wipe out the Grave Guard before they could do too much damage striking back.
Note the way Nick reformed the Greatswords at the end of the previous round of combat. He realised the Griffon dying would provide a clear path for the Grave Guard, so the Greatswords "volunteered" selflessly to shield those behind them.
Stepping over the corpses of the Griffon and its rider, the other Grave Guard marched forward and charged into the Greatswords, who had spread their lines wide in an effort to protect their mounted comrades behind them. Stretched as they were, the Greatswords continued to fight with impressive tenacity, holding the enemy at bay and taking a heavy toll for each of their own losses.
The protracted combat is taking its toll on the Greatswords, but look what they've done to the Ghouls! There were 80 of them to begin with!
Toward the centre of the field, the Ghouls ignored the wall of fire around them and threw themselves once more at the Handgunners. Fully half of them died shrieking as the searing flames did their work, but the remainder made it through, blackened and scarred. They tore into the Handgunners, however this time the Empire soldiers were braced for the encounter and fought back bravely. They were still outmatched, but this time they were not outnumbered and they drew confidence from this knowledge, holding their position and fighting on.

Seeing the wounded Grand Theogonist emerge from his earlier struggle with the Grave Guard, a pack of Fell Bats set off to attack him, however an unfavourable wind blew against them and they lacked the strength they had possessed when their master was alive. Their assault was aborted before it had even begun.

The Fell Bats were not the only ones seeking to finish off the Empire commander. Seeing him unengaged and realising the opportunity, the Necromancer Master Kraven urged his Zombies into range before unleashing his powers upon Volkmar. First he invoked the power of Spirit Leech, however when he locked minds with the Sigmarite he found a will as unyielding as iron, and his attack failed feebly in the face of such resistance. Irritated, he reached instead of the Caress of Laniph. In his haste however, he did not take he necessary precautions and he lost control of the spell, unleashing a colossal explosion that vaporised half of his Zombie entourage. The spell itself had been cast however, and it only heightened Kraven's foul disposition when he emerged from the smoking crater he had made of his own regiment only to see that Volkmar had shrugged off the effects of this spell also.
This guy... Seriously, Volkmar had no business being alive. Once he was down to a single wound, he passed 4 6+ armour saves, defeated the Necromancer's Spirit Leech in a roll-off, and then watched as Caress of Laniph rolled a 4 on 2D6 for its damage hits, resulting in no damage. It was outrageous. The Fell Bats also failed 2 efforts to charge him to finish him off. Truly Sigmar smiled upon the head of his order this day.
On the right flank, the last resistance of the undead army faltered and died as the pitiful remainder of the once-great Zombie horde was surrounded by Empire regiments. In a final act of defiance, the Wight King hissed a challenge with his weapon held aloft, and Arch Lector Derych stepped forth to face him, leading from the fore. As courageous as his actions were, given the circumstances the wisdom of facing the Wight King in a duel was questionable. A quick exchange of blows ended when a particularly savage  blow from the undead champion took the Arch Lector’s head from his shoulders. The watching soldiers recoiled in horror, but then turned on the remaining Zombies with renewed fury and the victorious Wight King perished with his minions as the regiment was smashed to pieces. 

Empire Turn 5

Empire Turn 5
Volkmar had a headache. The foul powers of the Necromancer had nearly been the end of him, but still he was the one who remained standing as his foe crawled from a crater of his own making. Volkmar almost smiled as he saw the Knights Panther lower their lances and charge into the smoking Zombie regiment, piercing and pulverising them and the Necromancer both. He would have smiled, but he was Volkmar the Grim. He did not smile. And curses, but his head hurt. As did the wounds in his side. A lesser man would have sat down to rest. Volkmar remained standing and surveyed the field from the vantage point of his War Altar.
This is the final resting place of the Zombies led by the remaining Necromancer Lord.
The field to his left was all but swept clean of the undead menace. The Skeletons struggling against the Reiksguard were doomed as the Greatswords charged into their flank; that would soon be over. The scorched Ghouls facing those brave Handgunners were likewise doomed, as a fresh regiment of Swordsmen charged into their flank and crushed them utterly. All that remained was a small pack of Fell Bats. What harm could they do?
The Greatswords arrive to rescue the Reiksguard, signalling the end of the combat as a contest.
White Wolves to the rescue! Note that the last member of the damaged White Wolf regiment also charged on the left of the Greatswords. I don't know why...
As under-control as most of the field was, the Empire right flank was very dangerously poised. Regiments of Halberdiers marched into position as the Greatswords and Demigryphs fought on and on. The White Wolf Knights charged in alongside the Greatswords, who had so bravely sought to protect them from the charge of the Grave Guard previously. Franz Stark, the commander of the right flank rode at the head of the Knights, his magic sword leveled at the enemy Grave Guard as the charge struck home. The force of the charge was impressive, crushing many enemies and sending others flying. Heartened by the assistance, the Greatswords redoubled their own efforts and huge swathes of both the Grave Guard and the Ghouls had soon collapsed under the combined assault.
Both Grave Guard and Ghouls are almost gone. Note that the final White Wolf on the left is gone too, however. His face got eaten by a Ghoul. Really shouldn't have been in there...
The Demigryphs continued to hold their ground, however their numbers were dwindling as they tried to fend off the supernaturally strong Grave Guard and the sheer weight of the Skeletons pressing into the flank.

Finally the courage of the Spearmen and Free Company failed. They had been holding Vlad and his allies at bay, but it could not last forever and eventually the toll was too great and both regiments turned and fled. They were not pursued. Vlad von Carstein had other plans.
Free at last! Wait, where is Lord Altschul looking now?

Vampire Counts Turn 5

Vampire Counts Turn 5
The battle was lost. That seemed an inevitable conclusion, though it tasted bitter in Vlad's mouth. The resistance offered by Ghorst and his flunkies had not been sufficient to keep the Empire forces at bay, and there was little his own army could do now to correct the balance. He would have to withdraw. But first he would remind the fools who they were dealing with. Any army that dared set foot inside Sylvania would pay in blood.

The Demigryphs had fought impressively, and even now they were finishing off the last of the Grave Guard, as well as one of Vlad's trusted lieutenants, Lucius. Perhaps he had already fallen; Vlad couldn't see him in the fighting rank. Most likely he had vanished and would reappear later – he was a highly capable practitioner of Shadow magic.
The Demigryphs cop a Varghulf in the front and Wraiths in the flank, Things just got nasty.
As savage as the Demigryphs had been, there were limits to their abilities. The Wraiths had finally reached the cowardly driver of the Steam Tank and put him out of his misery. Now they turned their attention to the flank of the Demigryphs, whilst a Varghulf crashed into their front. The subsequent exchange was bloody and one-sided, and the last of the Empire beasts fell with the final member of the Grave Guard regiment broken in its maw.

Vlad's own regiment of Ghouls set off to engage another regiment of Spearmen, however as brave as the first group had been, this group was cowardly and they refused even to receive the charge. They turned and fled around the nearby melees, leaving Vlad to wonder at the fickle courage of men.
Varghulf in the flank, Zombie Dragon in the rear, and I think the Terrorgheist just sang them the song of its people and killed 4 or 5 of them. Things have taken a turn for the White Wolf rescue mission.
The truly pivotal struggle on the flank was that revolving around the Greatswords, who had fought so bravely for so long. Pressing forward alongside the White Wolf Knights, their worries must finally have seemed to be over, but if they believed this they were sadly mistaking. With bestial roars, a Varghulf crashed into the flank of the White Wolves whilst the Zombie Dragon of Lord Altschul careened into their rear. In the blink of an eye, the complexion of the fight changed completely. Men and horses screamed as beasts the size of buildings waded in amongst them, thrashing with unfettered fury. Fully two thirds of the White Wolf Knights were torn to pieces in the charge – ten brave Knights obliterated in the blink of an eye. The carnage was unimaginable for those who somehow survived, and they fled without even really knowing what they were doing. This was too much for the Greatswords as well. They had not blinked through countless dangers, but seeing their rescuers dismembered in such a manner was more than they could take. Their nerve finally failed and they fled alongside the Knights. Fortunately they would not have to live with the shame; none of the fleeing Greatswords or Knights escaped their pursuers. 
Flee for your lives! Not that they got very far.
Having edged closer, the Fell Bats in the centre of the field made one last attempt to claim the life of the Grand Theogonist, however destiny seemed set against them and they failed once more to pick up the speed they needed to cover the distance.
At the end of turn 5.
Watching the slaughter of the bravest soldiers on the Empire right flank and the demise of its general, Vlad decided that he had done enough. What little was left within reach was already running with its tail between its legs. He could achieve nothing more here without engaging the whole of the Empire army, and now was not the time for that. He had made his point. With one last glare at the distant War Altar, he turned and stalked into the forest. 
How it ended.

Empire Victory Points: 11913
Vampire Counts Victory Points: 6637

Result: Empire victory


As the remaining undead forces withdrew from the battlefield, Volkmar at last allowed his knees to weaken and he collapsed in a pool of his own blood on the War Altar. It hurt him to show this weakness in front of his men, but he knew he had done enough. His legend would only grow after this day. His army had achieved the impossible, pressing far into Sylvania to crush a threat that had been even more serious than reports had led them to believe. Helman Ghorst had been dealt with, and his forces destroyed. 

Now the Grand Theogonist had a new mission. He needed to return to Altdorf as quickly as possible to deliver his report to the Emperor. Vlad von Carstein had returned, and the Empire would surely suffer as a result.

The End

We called it after 5 turns because it was apparent that another turn would not be enough for Vlad to turn it around - his army could only contest a third of the field. In the end I don't think the undead decision to stack the flank where their reinforcements were coming really worked for them. They had no hope up the other end as a result, and then some heroics on the part of the Nick's forces (in particular the Greatswords, Demigryphs and a Cannon) saw him hold his own against enemies that probably totalled twice his strength. The combination of Tim's decision to send the Knights Panther into the middle, bogus rolling from Volkmar and Pete failing a couple of easy charges ensured I came out on top in the centre. Luck was with the Empire just enough for them to carry the day.

Thanks for reading!

You can go back to the report's main page here.


  1. Brilliant report! Inspiring as always, I need to get a snowy battlefield myself now ;)

    1. Cheers. We've had a lot of this winter terrain for years, since I happened to find the trees at a Christmas clearance sale in a department store. Thought it might make a nice change of scene for the report.

  2. Another awesome giant battle. Hats off to you and all involved in bringing this to the table.

  3. Picture captions are the real heroes of this battle report. Well done!

    1. The captions kind of tell a different story. :P

  4. This was great to read as a long time total war player that really is starting to like total war!

    As for the tw version of this battle. If you are a beginner i really recommend playing with smaller funds to keep a clear head in the battles, as it takes time to learn the fast clicking required in the bigger battles.
    Another option would be to play in slow motion :)

    I was a bit dissapointed to see the battle in total war didnt enjoy the participation of 4 other humans but ai instead. Team battles can be alot of joy especially with voice chat!


    1. A team battle would have been fun to try, but in this case it wasn't possible. On the bright side, my experience this time around was enough to convince me that it would be fun to try again in the future, so it could yet happen down the track.

      In the meantime I will obviously have to practice...

    2. The first most importand thing is know your basic information because with just digging around your growth will be limited, just like in table top. I recommend finding a youtuber who is good at the game and following a few videos of him, it will really lay down a base and make learning the game alot more accesible and enjoyable! Cheers!

  5. Fantastic report, thanks for the effort! Seemed like an exciting battle and hats off to the sterling Greatsword regiments :)

  6. Fantastic report, thanks for the effort! Seemed like an exciting battle and hats off to the sterling Greatsword regiments :)

    1. Yeah you're not wrong, those Greatswords really did perform well.

  7. Great work! Thanks for writing this up. It really sets the standard for battle reports- enjoyable to read and easy to follow with lots of pictures!