The game was 1600 points and to save time I took the same list that I used against Aneurin's High Elves. Lee fielded two Level 2 Sorcerers (one with the Lore of Fire and one with the Lore of Death), 10 Chaos Knights, 20 Chaos Warriors, 5 Marauder Horsemen, 5 Chosen Warriors, a Warshrine and a Chariot. The scenario was a Meeting Engagement and it wound up that I would be defending a Grail Chapel (which according to our campaign I had built in the territory Lee was attacking). The reserves rule meant that my Knights Errant and Pegasus Knights would be arriving late, whilst Lee would be forced to leave both of his Sorcerers off the table.
I deployed around the Grail Chapel trusting that gaining regeneration and stubborn might keep them in the fight against the iron tide. I also had a cunning plan in mind involving both the reserve units I was going to receive and the ever useful Grail Reliquae (which was deployed a little forwards), along with a shifty manoeuvre that would make use of the Peasant Archers' portable fence. I had to hope that this would be enough.
Taking the opportunity to deploy as close as he could, Lee put his armoured fist of Warriors and Knights (supported, as ever, by the Warshrine) directly opposite my small battle line. The Chariot and Chosen were place to threaten my left and provide a convenient escort to the oncoming Sorcerers. It looked like his plan came from the ubiquitous Chaos tactical doctrine of 'advance and crush them!'
With my forces praying as usual, Lee took the first turn and surprise, surprise, the armoured fist advanced towards me at pace, with the Knights getting to within charge range of the Peasant Archers (that wasn't going to be pretty). The Sorcerers came on to join the Chosen and began to move around my flank. Despite a good roll in the magic phase, coming on from reserve meant that most of Lee's spells were out of range or line of sight and the spell he did cast caused no damage on anybody but his Death Sorcerer because the Fire Sorcerer miscast. In the shooting phase, the Warshrine granted the Chaos Warriors magical resistance. Time to spring my trap.
The Grail Reliquae moved towards the Chaos Warriors, whilst the Knights Errant positioned themselves in their flank, whilst the Pegasus Knights swooped around their rear. I knew that none of these units could hope to beat the Chaos Warriors, and even if they charged together, they'd probably lose, however I was gambling on the idea that Lee would see them as a potential danger and turn the Warriors to protect their flank, thus disrupting his battle line and give me time to gang up on the Chaos Knights.
Meanwhile, I pulled my other stunt. I pulled the Archers back into the Grail Chapel, and thus left their fence between the Chaos Knights and the Men-At-Arms, who gained the Blessing of the Lady from the Prayer Icon of Quenelles. I was under no illusion that the Men-at-Arms would die in droves to the Knights, but again I was gambling on the potential damage from Dangerous Terrain tests would deter Lee from charging.
Finally, in what I like to think was a surprise move, I marched my Knights of the Realm (and their Leadership) away from the Peasants and toward the small unit of Chosen and Sorcerers. Again I was looking to threaten Lee where he was weakest to either make him pull back from supporting the Knights or risk losing his magic defence.
My magic phase saw Wyssan's Wildform cast on the Knights of the Realm, and not a lot else. In the shooting phase however, the Trebuchet found it's mark, splattering two Chaos Knights (including the Champion). The Peasants began what would be a dismal game of shooting for them by killing nothing.
In short, my plans worked. The Warriors turned to face the biggest of the three threats facing them, the Knights Errant, and the Warshrine turned to face the Pegasus Knights to (bonus!). The Chosen and Sorcerers did indeed back off from my Knights. This left the Chaos Knights unsupported, save for a small unit of Marauder Horse (the Chariot was with the Chosen), and the refused the charge across the fence. However, the Marauder Horse were now threatening my Trebuchet.
Again, despite rolling high, Lee's magic phase failed to ignite. This was mainly because by retreating his Sorcerers were now out of range of everything bar the Knights of the Realm and the combination of heavy armour and a ward save boosted by the Damsel in the unit meant that the barrage of spells killed a only single Knight.
With a target in front of them, the Knights Errant couldn't refuse it and impetuously charged headlong into the Chaos Warriors. Needless to say, the Grail Reliquae didn't join them, but maintained position to take their turn in operation 'Die Slowly', and the Pegasus Knight flew behind the Warshrine and Warriors. The Men-At-Arms moved up to the fence to give anybody attacking them a penalty to hit, and with the Chosen now out of range the Knights of the Realm reformed to threaten the Chaos Knights flank.
A magic and shooting barrage was opened up on the Marauder Horse in an attempt to protect the Trebuchet. However, only two were killed and the resulting panic test was passed (bugger!). In the combat phase heavy armour, lances and the Errantry Banner saw the Knights Errant draw with the Chaos Warriors, keeping the armoured block in place for another turn.
Scattered across the field, the Chaos army tried to respond to my manoeuvring. The Chaos Knights turned to face the greater threat of my Knights, risking leaving their rear exposed to the Men-at-Arms, which the Chariot threatened to counter-charge should they take the bait. The Warshrine turned to face the Pegasus Knights again and the Chosen and Sorcerers ran back towards the battle; however more significantly the remaining Marauders charged into the Trebuchet, threatening a disastrous panic test on my lines.
Another volley of spells bounced off the well protected Knights (the Banner of Discipline helped to resist the Fate of Bjuna) and the Knight Errant miraculously held on against the Chaos Warriors for a second round as they miraculously passed their break test. The Marauders predictably slaughtered the Trebuchet crew and pursued the survivor off the board. I prayed to the Lady as I rolled for the Men-at-Arms' panic test (failure would probably mean defeat)...they passed! I breathed again...
...and ordered the CHARGE! The Chaos Knights were caught between the Knights of the Realm and the Men-at-Arms. This would be the combat that decided the battle. The Pegasus Knights again moved to frustrate the Warshrine.
A strong magic phase saw buffs and hexes flying in an attempt to tip the big combat in my favour, however, dice were saved to send a thunderbolt to nuke the Chariot that threatened my flank. In combat, the Chaos Warriors finally broke the brave Knights Errant and pursued them (moving further from the main action). Over by the tower blades and lances were turned aside by armour and blessings as neither side made major inroads into each other. Tactical advantages gave me the win, but the Chaos Knights held. This was going to get messy.
The Chosen and Sorcerers continued to jog towards the Knights, hoping to tip the scales, and the Marauders returned with a similar intent. The Chaos Warriors turned round to see that the battle was being lost in their absence. However, it was clear that the Chaos Knights could still muscle their way to victory now that the Bretonnians lances had been spent. With nobody else to target the Chaos Sorcerers began to bombard the Peasants and Prophetess in the Chapel, killing several archers. The Death Sorcerer repaid the Fire Sorcerer in kind for earlier in battle by miscasting and wounding him.
All eyes were on the Knights. The Chaos Knights cut down gallant Bretonnians and again their foul black armour withstood Bretonnian steel. However, the much needed ranks of the Men-at-Arms were invaluable in beating and breaking the iron-clad horsemen. Both my units pursued and the Chaos Knights were caught and slaughtered.
Despite the defeat of the Chaos Knights, there was still work to do. My Knights and Men-at-Arms reformed to face the Chosen, ignoring the Marauders in their rear. The Pegasus Knights flew over to further threaten the compact Chaos unit. The Grail Reliquae, knowing it's duty moved to obstruct the Chaos Warriors. The Prophetess and Archers saw off the Marauder horse with a volley of magic missiles and arrows.
The Chaos Warriors charged the Reliquae as there was nothing else to do. The Chosen and Sorcerers tried to back off but were still in charge range. Magic dried up for Lee and the Eye was closed on the Warshrine, it seemed as if the gods had deserted their faithful. To cheer themselves up, the Chaos Warriors butchered a few Battle Pilgrims, who stubbornly passed their break test.
Once again horns blared and the Knights, Men-at-Arms and Pegasus Knights charged the Chosen. With no magical defence the Warshrine was hit by a thunderbolt from the Prophetess, however, the gods of Chaos returned to wreak their vengeance as the Prophetess and half the Peasant archers were dragged screaming into the warp. The Chaos Warriors destroyed the rest of the Reliquae but the Sorcerers and Chosen were butchered to a man and the victorious Bretonnians reformed to face what was left of the Chaos raiders.
Lee could do nothing but brace himself for an impact, which duly came, the Knights, Pegasus Knights and Men-at-Arms charged the damaged Warshrine and destroyed it. The battle was won.
Overall, I think I did well in this battle. There's no way that I could have won a head to head clash with Lee's army so by using my reserves to draw off the Warriors for what turned out to be the whole game, I disrupted his attack. This was furthered by forcing the Chosen to back off and using the Peasant's fence to deter the Knights. Despite playing defensively, I managed to seize the initiative and never really surrendered it.
I almost dropped the ball when the Marauders got through my lines to the Trebuchet, it was squeaky bum time with the panic tests, and had I not been able to blast the Chariot off the table, things might have turned out differently with the Knights' combat. I was also silly rolling for unnecessary spells (I didn't have to attack the Warshrine), and that cost me my Prophetess and made the final result much closer than it looked.
Just like Aneurin last week, I don't think Lee will fall for the same tricks again, I'll have to come up with something new when I face him again. I'm also tempted to drop the Crown of Command on the Damsel as I've not made use of it yet and the Knights having Leadership 9 (from the Banner of Discipline) and a re-roll from the BSB should be enough. I think I need a dispel scroll of some form (as the Channelling Staff is rubbish for defence when you need it) and the Silver Mirror would have been ideal for sniping one of the wounded Sorcerers.
All in all things are going well. Although it's probably due to the fact that I'm beginning to get to grips with the army and I'm playing people who've only played a handful of games. So, in order to continue my streak I'm playing Matt next week and he hasn't played any games of 8th edition. He is, however, bringing cannons...