Saturday, 30 June 2012

Stemming the Green Tide

I didn't play any games last week as I was too busy watching England being bollocks.  However, the week before I played Tom at WFB.

As part of the club's WFB campaign, 'Maelstrom of DREADDDD', my Bretonnians found their realm rudely invaded for the second turn in succession. Last time it was a screaming mob of unwashed Sigmarites; this time a screaming mob of unwashed Greenskins. SSDD.

The army that rode out to face them was similar to last time, only smaller as Tom doesn't have enough painted to reach 2000 points. Therefore we played the Blood and Glory scenario at 1600 points.  My army was:
  • Level 4 Prophetess (Heavens), BSB, 8 Knights of the Realm, 5 Knights Errant, 30 Men at Arms, 20 Peasant Archers, Grail Reliquae & 19 Battle Pilgrims, 3 Pegasus Knights Field Trebuchet. My army had a healthy fortitude of 8.
Here's Tom's Green Horde, including a mounted Black Orc Warboss, 3 Wizards and a BSB (yes, he was stretching for points), and a fortitude of only 5:

The terrain we generated included a Wyrdling Well, a Wizard's Tower, a Temple of Skulls, a Sinister Statue,  two Mysterious Marshes, a Settlement of Order and lots of fences.  Given the preponderance of obstacles I deployed in the more open ground to my right with only the Pegasus Knights out on the left to swing round a flank. Tom deployed in a compact formation in the centre, trying to get as clear a run as possible to my lines.

I knew Tom would make haste towards my lines and so my plan was to await his arrival and use the Trebuchet, Archers and magic to thin his numbers as they advanced (I figured that the Sinister Statue my help out here too).  The Pegasus Knights would go wizard hunting and march-blocking.  When the main attack arrived, I would present the Men at Arms and the grail Reliquae as tar pits for his big block of Savage Orcs and use my Knights to drive off the rest and then descend on the Orcs' rear.

The game began as expected. The Orcs advanced at a jog and my missiles and magic inflicted limited casualties and barring his Night Goblins failing an animosity test and bickering for a turn, there was nothing I could do to slow him down.  Not only that, a sneaky use of the Hand of Mork had moved the Savage Orcs in a position to turn my flank if I wasn't careful. By the end of his turn 2 he was in position to charge with almost his entire army and rob my Knights of their major strength. 

With the enemy about to pounce, I did what any Bretonnian would do, I sounded the charge. The Knights Errant ploughed into the Squig-Hoppers (although due to magic they would be attacking last); the BSB and Knights of the Realm levelled their lances at the Araknarok; the Pegasus Knights flew into the flank of the bickering Goblins; and the Men at Arms (who'd had the Prayer Icon of Quenelles used on them in turn one) moved to face the Savage Orcs with the Grail Reliquae in support.  My Prophetess buffed and hexed her socks off in the hope of turning the green tide.

The Knights Errant, were savagely chomped before they got to strike and only the champion survived (amazingly he passed his leadership test). Both the Knights of the Realm and the Pegasus Knights won their respective combats and even with their opponents being Steadfast or Stubborn, I was sure one of them would break. I was wrong. Tom passed both tests (Leadership 6!) and I'd shot my bolt.  It felt like I was about to be crushed.

The Savage Orcs crashed into the Men at Arms and began hacking away with a ridiculous number of attacks. However, the Orcs' increased strength on the charge worked against them as it improved the Bretonnians' ward save and allowed them to remain Steadfast as the Orcs were deployed wide; they held.  Meanwhile, in an amazing reversal of fortune, the remaining Knight Errant somehow defeated the unit of Squig Hoppers, put them to flight and ran them down, whilst the Knights of the Realm again defeated the Araknarok, which also broke, ran and was destroyed.  The Pegasus Knights lost their combat (having lost the benefit of charging) but stayed in the fight. From the pits of despair to the heights of possibility, this game was swinging back and forth like an instrument of torture in an Edgar Allen Poe story.

In my turn the Grail Reliquae moved to intercept the Savage Orcs when they inevitably broke the Men at Arms in the subsequent combat and the Knights of the Realm turned to threaten the rear of the Orcs.  The last Knight Errant, his work complete, dismounted and sat on the hill to watch the rest of the battle.  The Prophetess used all of her magic to try to keep the Men at Arms alive, but it wasn't enough, heavy casualties caused the loss of Steadfast and they were run down, the Savage Orcs crashed into the Grail Reliquae which avoided panicking due to the proximity of the BSB. Meanwhile, the Night Goblins finally broke the Pegasus Knights, held back from pursuit and reformed to face the flank of the Knights.  Things suddenly looked ropey again.

The Goblins charged the Knights, the Savage Orcs set about hacking up the Battle Pilgrims and the Warboss rode around to threaten a charge on the Prophetess and Archers. However, the Goblins had no answer to Bretonnian plate armour and the presence of the BSB saw them lose the combat; whilst the Battle Pilgrims, although battered, stubbornly refused to give ground to the barbaric Orcs.

Another turn rolled around, and the Archers reformed to present ranks to the advancing Warboss. The Prophetess wisely abandoned the unit to hide behind it and began buffing and hexing again to keep the Grail Reliquae in play. I was sure that the Archers could hold the Warboss on his own, but if the Savage Orcs waded in, they game could be lost.  In combat, more Pilgrims died and only the Reliquae itself survived (but it was enough), and the Knights broke the Goblins. With a BSB and a Standard in the unit, I decided to pursue rather than threaten the Orcs. The peasants would have to look after themselves.

With a single turn remaining, everything was still to play for. Tom had only three points of fortitude remaining, the loss of either his Savage Orcs (unlikely) or his Warboss (possible if he charged the archers alone) would hand me the game.  Meanwhile, I was a little more secure. I had a fortitude of six and Tom would have to destroy the Reliquae and the Peasants and hope that my Prophetess panicked off the table.

To his credit, Tom tried to play for the win and charged his Warboss into the Peasants. Impact hits and a big choppa did enough to force a test, but the Peasants held thanks to the presence of their General.  The Savage Orcs dispensed with the Reliquae but they were unable to contribute anything else.

In my turn, the Peasants (supported by magic) fought back against the Warboss and beat him in combat due to their ranks. He stood firm.  Surveying the field from the back of his boar he reailised his warband had been reduced to a dozen Orcs and realised he would need to mass his forces again if he was to destroy the humans.

Victory points surprisingly revealed a sizeable victory to me. I hadn't noticed during the game, but Tom had actually destroyed very little, despite inflicting lots of casualties, and could only claim points for the Men at Arms and the Reliquae (the Pegasus Knights had rallied just in time). On the other hand, I had destroyed the Araknarok, the Night Goblins (including two characters and a captured BSB) and the Squig Hoppers, and one of the Savage Orc Shamans had kindly killed himself. As it was the score flattered me, it was a close game and I'm well aware that had the Squig Hoppers not fluffed their attacks against the Knight Errant Champion, Tom would not only have gained the points for the Knights, but would also have had a unit free to gobble up the Trebuchet and the Archers. Narrow margins indeed.

In retrospect, I think I did the right things, although I'd probably have the Grail Reliquae on the flank rather than the Men at Arms as they really need the presence of a BSB and General to hold an attack.  Luck was dealt out in equal measure but I think that appropriate use of the Lore of Heavens allowed me to mitigate bad dice at key moments. Tom wasn't really able to get his magic going which helped, indeed the two times he did get important spells cast (the Hand of Mork to flank me and whatever it was that shafted the Knights Errant) almost turned the game. Having a Level four pitched against Level twos really held him in check.
Overall this was a great game and the campaign is going well for me. However, I am fully aware that both opponents have suited my counter-attacking style and I suspect that a game against a less direct opponent may cause me greater problems.


  1. Your peasants seem to do you proud each game. I think the key thing to beating you is kill the damsel so no buffs and no inspiring presence!

  2. To be fair, her inspiring presence isn't that inspiring (Ld 8). I would agree that she's effective, and particularly the Knights really benefit from re-rolling ones. However the biggest impact she has is in using the Prayer Icon of Quenelles on the Men at Arms (a Ward Save makes them a touch more survivable) and dispelling everything.

    My major fear is panic taking all my peasants off at once. I'd like to keep the BSB closer to them, but I'm lacking in other heroes at the moment and the Knights need some help hurting stuff.

  3. Great work seeing off the Elves. I wonder what DREADful thing you will find on the Dragon Isles? Hopefully once Matt and I play next week we can start month 3 quickly...