For starters, although we’ve both played the game (James has played it a lot more than me), neither of us had ever played a multiplayer battle before. It was cool to see all the options, including being able to have up to 4 forces a side with either PC or human controllers. We decided to make use of this, as we realized that the battle we had fought was loaded with plenty of Lord choices, but you can only have one per army in TW. We also figured that it would be helpful to have PC allies controlling some of the forces to take the load off us a bit. We then set about roughly recreating the forces. The balance is a bit whacky given that unit sizes can vary wildly on the tabletop, but are set in TW. We went with what we felt best represented a TW version of the armies, which basically meant filling up all 80 available slots on either side.
We chose the Castle Drakenhof map as it seemed a reasonable fit. We had no control over late-arriving flanking forces, which was slightly disappointing given that it’s something that happens regularly when you’re in the campaign. So we were not able to recreate the flanking element of the tabletop battle. Oh well, we figured we would just line things up and see what happened.
|The loading screen. I was using Volkmar. James' lord was actually Vlad, so I assume he must have set a PC player as the no 1 player on his side for Ghorst to show up here. Or the game just moves in mysterious ways.|
And then we launched the battle and my PC wept bitter tears of overloadedness.
It turns out 160 elements on the field all at once was a bit of a burden on my PC (I assume the load was on me, as I was the host). It meant the battle probably played out at about half speed, with each second taking 2 seconds in real life. But it worked, and it was funny to watch. I took some snapshots and thought I would talk through things a bit.
|Just a few banners. That is my stuff, nearest the camera.|
|Vlad wandering about with his shiny sword.|
|A Strigoi Ghoul King on Terrorgheist, in honour of the Horror of the High Fells who so capably caught cannonballs on the tabletop.|
|Helman Ghorst, lurking behind the Undead lines.|
|Volkmar the Grim, flanked by Flagellants and the Knights of the Blazing Sun.|
As the battle started out, the first thing my nearest PC ally did was abandon me. All his forces did a sharp left turn and marched away from where our forces were overlapping.
|Sneaky Dire Wolves hiding in the forest. James initially thought they might have been the reason my allies ran away from me, but after watching it again, I'm pretty sure it was incidental. They were clearly abandoning me. :(|
|That shiny blob on the left? That's all the guys that were previous deployed with my missile troops here.|
|It's nice to know that even when the PC is controlling stuff, things can look like a shambles. Behold the clear and ordered lines in the Empire centre. Totally under control. What on earth is going on?|
|And then James and I got into a tangle. A nasty one. Things piled in on both sides, and Volkmar decided to unleash every trick at his disposal. Soulfire is bombarding the lines here. Hopefully it only hurts the Undead stuff, right...?|
|Having abandoned me, my allies decided it would be entertaining to rain a continual bombardment down upon the combat containing most of my stuff. What could go wrong?|
|Vlad forced his way through the mess and started attacking Volkmar in a sneaky fashion. To be honest, I completely lost track of him during the battle. He disappeared in a sea of banners and Varghulfs. Man those things are huge.|
|In a true show of disdain, Vlad then wandered off and ignored Volkmar, attacking other things that were more worthy of his time. You know my general is still alive and fighting your stuff, right? Don't care? Fair enough...|
|Maybe Vlad was right to ignore me. Shortly thereafter you can see that Volkmar no longer stands on the War Altar. He has gone off to be grim somewhere else, probably. He certainly wouldn't be dead. Inconceivable.|
|The scrum in the centre looks pretty dire. A lot more black banners than Empire ones.|
|Good luck making sense of that. For some reason Ghorst drove right into the middle of it. He was actually mostly dead by the time he emerged, having been dive-bombed by a couple of Griffons. Or the same Griffon, more than once. Who can tell?|
|My flank looking rather poorly, as panic sets in and nearly everyone who is still alive runs away.|
|But wait, I am not done yet! I still have a Steam Tank up on the hill. James realises this and sends a couple of Terrorgheists to "handle" the problem.|
|One of the Griffons dies as the last Empire resistance in the centre crumbles. It's just one of those things. Look at the amount of damage some of those Undead units have taken, but they're still standing.|
|Brave brave Sir Robin, he boldly ran away...|
The free-flowing nature of a Total War battle is very different from what you get in Warhammer on the tabletop. I am more used to regiments with clearly defined positions, and limits to what can reach what at any given point in time. I'm also used to having a clearer view of how well a unit is positioned in terms of whether it is going to win or lose a fight. I don't have that in TW, and I don't know if that is just a lack of experience, or whether it's just part of the game that you get used to.
We may well have another go at this battle, with greatly reduced forces in order to help things flow and maybe improve the balance. Clearly I could use the practice.