Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Battle of Vanhaldenschlosse: Introduction

And now for something a little different.

In honour of the new The Grim & The Grave expansion for Total War: Warhammer, we were invited to organise one of our traditional battle reports based around the characters being added to the game. We will then go back and try to recreate the battle in Total War, and see how that plays out.

Total War: Warhammer. The Grim & The Grave

Deep in Sylvania, in the shadows of the ruined Vanhaldenschlosse, Helman Ghorst was finally ready to begin his ritual. The necromancer had laboured long and hard to ensure that all the pieces were ready. He had also assembled a considerable force to protect him whilst he went about his work. The ritual would take time, and during that time Ghorst would be vulnerable. Foul pacts had been struck and he would have to pay the price in due course. He smirked at the thought. When this spell was complete, the payment would be no problem.

Looking about him to ensure that all was in readiness, the necromancer stepped up to his carefully prepared altar and spread his arms wide. It was time.

Ghorst's concentration was immediately broken by a noise from nearby. He turned and hushed the zombies that had once been his brothers. Tethered to the cart that the necromancer rode everywhere, they were moaning and clawing feebly at the air. They subsided immediately at his command. Ghorst sighed, but then as he turned back to the altar he smiled slightly. They were only trying to show their support.

Raising his arms once more, he closed his eyes and got the first word of the incantation out before he was rudely interrupted once more. In the distance came a chorus of horns, and Ghorst was certain he heard the crack of pistols as well. 

Scowling in irritation, he turned and stepped off the altar. Whoever the intruders were, they would be dealt with. Then he could get on with corrupting the world in peace.


On a hill to the west, a pair of hooded figures stood and surveyed the advance of the intruders. Both stood tall and exuded strength, yet one still clearly deferred to the other.

"You see my lord, it is as I reported. The Empire has invaded in force, with their Grand Theogonist himself at their head." 

The reply came in a voice that was smooth and powerful; accustomed to command. "Indeed, Lucius. It seems Ghorst has attracted undue attention, just as he was warned he would. But how did the cattle get this far into our lands without being challenged?"

"It seems they have a number of powerful magicians in their number, and they have been hastening the advance. The old ward spells protecting this place are not what they once were."

"Clearly they are taking the threat of the necromancer seriously. Well, I was not going to get involved, but now I have no choice."

The first figure seemed uncertain. "But my lord, this will reveal you to the humans. They still believe you dead..."

His companion gave a short laugh. "It is a testament to their hubris that they ever believed it to be so. Or that I would remain that way forever..." he affectionately caressed the ring on his finger as he spoke. "No matter. They have forced our hand. They have had the temerity to invade our home, and this shall not stand. It is time they understood that the one true lord of Sylvania still protects his lands. Come, we must move quickly." He turned to leave, but still his companion hesitated.

"And what of Ghorst?"

"Ghorst failed to heed our warnings and he will pay the price. But for now the enemy of my enemy is a useful pawn to be used and expended. I will deal with that upstart once this is over."

Scenario: Flank March

For this battle I created a simple new scenario, rather than just lining up the 2 armies and charging at each other. Frequently in Total War, you will have 2 separate armies arriving and joining forces. The direction from which the late-arriving force can be seen at the start of the battle, but you don't necessarily know exactly when they will appear. That's the vibe that I'm going for here.

An invading army has attacked the prepared defences of a smaller force, however reinforcements are on their way and the longer those reinforcements delay their arrival, the more favourable will be their position.

The original armies for the battle are:
  • Attackers - The Empire
  • Defenders - Vampire Counts

The Battlefield
The game will be played on a 12'x6' table. No specific scenery is required for the scenario, however care should be taken not to make the advance of the Vampire Counts reinforcements too difficult.

The Attacker and Defender both choose armies of an equal points value.

The Defender must then select roughly one third (33%) of their army to be placed in reserve. This reserve force will not be deployed at the start of the battle.

In our case the armies will be around 18,000 points per side, with each of the 3 players having a designated General. The reserve force will be commanded by one of the 3 Vampire Counts players, and will include that player's General.

The Attacker (Empire army) deploys first.

Note that neither the Attacker nor the Defender may deploy within 12" of the table edge chosen for the reinforcements.

Who Goes First?
The Attacker (Empire army) gets the first turn.

The game goes for 6 turns.

The Defender starts with a reinforcement army in reserve, which is marching to attack the flank of the Attacker. The Defending player(s) may decide when to bring the reinforcements onto the table. If they delay the arrival, they may place the army in a more favourable location. Note that all reinforcements must arrive in the same turn.
  • If the reinforcements arrive in Turn 1, they are deployed along the designated short table edge, on the Defender's side of the table.
  • If the reinforcements wait until Turn 2, they may be deployed anywhere along the designated short table edge - spread across both the Defender's side of the table and the Attacker's side.
Reinforcements arrive in the usual manner, as troops that are returning to the battlefield.

Victory Conditions
Use Victory Points to determine the winner of the battle. Each general is worth 100 bonus VPs, whilst the overall commander on each side is worth 500 bonus VPs.

House Rules
Due to the size of the game, I'm adding a couple of house rules for this battle to help things flow and keep things simple:
  • Magic phases will use 4D6 power dice, with a maximum cap of 24 dice in the power pool. The dispel pool will take the highest 2D6 of the power roll.
  • Horde units with missile weapons may shoot in 3 ranks instead of the usual 2.
  • Empire Archers do not need to skirmish (make things tidier).
  • Hero level characters may not leave their designated units (standard for our big games).
  • In a blatant disregard for the rarity of magic items, and in keeping with the fact that you often find more than one of the same item in Total War, Wight Lords, Vampires and Captains of the Empire are all assumed to have the Talisman of Endurance and the Sword of Might in order to keep things simple and ensure there are enough magical attacks on the Empire side to compensate for Ethereal units.
  • As above, Empire Generals and Vampire Lords are assumed to have the Talisman of Endurance and the Ogre Blade unless stated otherwise.
  • Each player has a General (and may have a BSB). One General from each side is designated as the overall commander and is worth 500 bonus VP instead of the normal 100 VP.
  • If any of the Vampire Count generals die, all troops must take a single crumble test if not within leadership range of one of the remaining generals, after which the remaining wizards take control and the crumbling stops as normal.

Right, that's how the game was played. If you want to read about it, you can find the first part here.

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