Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Spring 989 - Elf Risks

There was a man called Ragnar, the son of Ketil, son of Grim, the son of Ragnar, the son of Einar. Ragnar travelled north through the Border Kingdoms, which lay far to the east of Mirholme, in search of the villagers of Alwinton, whom he had sworn to protect. Ragnar was a great warrior ...

"Black Moon Elves," spat Ulf, as he espied an enemy threat approaching. The northern mountains of the former Border Kingdoms were an unpleasant place to be at the best of times but, with the nation overrun by Goblins it had got worse. Outlaws and followers of the Dark Moon were rife everywhere. The ruined farmhouse ahead of them proved this. Its former owners were nowhere to be seen. Only the Elves occupied the area now.
"There are not many of them," announced Ragnar, "Gunnvora, Hildigunn, Redshirt and Drogo, come with me. Let us try these Elves and see if they can face the arrow storm as well as we can. The rest of you stay with the Goblin and make sure he does not escape. We need him as a guide and cannot risk him in this fight."

Ragnar and his band sneaked up to the edge of the farm buildings. Only a single Elf was on guard and he appeared to be unaware of their approach.

After a quick reorganisation, Hildigunn and Grim stepped out from behind the cottage and loosed arrows at the lone Elf sentry. He fell immediately with two arrows through his heart. As they did so, Ragnar burst through the cottage door and came face to face with a big mean Elf. He immediately charged and a desperate fight ensued. The Elf was nearly as good as Ragnar, and Ragnar's followers, though well meaning, kept getting in the way.

All too soon, Gunnvora lay dying on the floor, her body destroyed by the Elf's glaive. Drogo lay near her, wounded but breathing still. Ragnar bellowed his rage and drove the Elf before him, out of the cottage. Now the Elf was on the defensive, bleeding from wounds that would have killed a lesser Elf. Grim and Hildigunn sought to help, but Ragnar told them to search the other cottages instead. He was afraid that they would go the way of Gunnvora.

Soon the Elf was exhausted. Ragnar had driven it back to the stream and its blows were getting weaker. Reversing his axe he pounded the hammer head against the Elf's skull and it collapsed into the water, still breathing. Quickly Ragnar bound it as a should went up from the stable. A wild Elf had been hiding there but Hildigunn and Grim demonstrated their archery skills once more. As the Elf fled they feathered its back with arrows, an ignominious end to a life poorly led.

While the others were spitting the Elf, Ragnar entered a small hovel across the stream, where the sentry had been. Another of the Elven brethren was within. With a roar of rage Ragnar raced to rend the reiver and redden his blade once more. A furious fight ensued that first saw Ragnar driven back and then the Elf. It was close fought as Ragnar was pushed back out of the door and then forced his way back in.

Soon the Elf was tiring though, while Ragnar's steel thews were still strong. He drove the Elf backwards once more into the wall of the hovel. Dust showered from the beams at the force of the impact. Then, stepping back, he raised his axe over his shoulder and drove it down through the Elf's body, cleaving it from shoulder to hip. The Elf lay dead on the floor as Hildigunn and Grim ran to aid Ragnar.

With the Elves dead or captured, the group were able to revive Drogo using the last of Gunnvora's potions of healing. She would not be making any more of those. With the battle won, they searched the hovels and cottages. In the cellar of one cottage a lone youth hid. He told them the tale of this farmstead, a not uncommon tale as it was. The Goblins had fallen on the area and taken all into slavery or eaten them as was their wont. The youth, Guillaume by name, had survived by snaring game and hunting with his sling, but then the Elves came and he had to hide. They had remained there several days and he had hidden all that time, until Ragnar rescued him. In gratitude he swore to join Ragnar's band and aid him in his quest to free the people of Alwinton. Perhaps in doing so he might also find his own family.

I chose to use only part of Ragnar's band for this encounter because I do not have enough Dark Elf figures to face the whole band. This proved unfortunate for Gunnvora, the group's healer. The fights were tough, especially against the Big Mean Elf (Rep 6 Big Bad, AC4, H4, CV9). His hardiness meant that he shrugged off most blows, while still being able to kill Gunnvora OD and put Drogo OOF. Rather than kill him though, Ragnar has taken him hostage. I hope to develop this side of things as a later scenario. You can find details of Ragnar's band HERE. In WHAA you can recruit once per month instead of doing an encounter, but we are playing turns of three months (one season) to match the WH campaign. Therefore we allow recruiting once per season. Thus, Ragnar was able to recruit a new band member. I rolled for him on the Border Kingdoms table and assumed that he was the last surviving member of this farmstead.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Spring 989 - The Battle of Hamnorthtoun

After rather too long we finally got around to the next campaign battle. It is Spring 989 and the Mirish army has invaded the Goblin-held territories that were once the Border Kingdom. Near the ruined town of Hamnorthtoun, the two armies meet up. The Goblins have adopted a defensive position on a large hill to the north and the Mirish army must drive them from it. A large but sparse wood occupies the Mirish left flank.

Seeing the enemy ahead of them, and being brave and dashing cavalry types, the Mirish army advanced quickly on its right flank. Meanwhile, on the left flank the skirmishers headed for the cover of the wood.

As the Mirish cavalry approached, the Goblins decided to descend from their hilltop eyrie and try to catch the cavalry on the hop. The Goblin hero in his chariot, with a wolfrider escort seemed to be trying to ride past the Mirish army and caught the eye of a passing elephant or two. Meanwhile the skirmishers danced around each other to no great effect.

With the Goblins in range, the Mirish cataphracts and clibanarii (that's cavalry to you and me) charged and drove off some of the Goblins without even breaking into a sweat. The elephants were now facing the enemy and the great Goblin hero could be heard yelling for ale as he turned his chariot and prepared to deal with the Mirish army. Meanwhile the skirmishers danced around each other to no great effect.

The Mirish cavalry turned around and prepared to charge the Goblin infantry again. Mughrant's wolfrider escort had been driven off by the elephants and he had turned his attention to the Mirish light cavalry. Meanwhile the skirmishers danced around each other to no great effect.

And so the Goblin line disintegrated and was destroyed piecemeal. The Goblin skirmishers finally decided to join the fray in the centre. But it was really too late.

In a last ditch attempt to salvage something from this fracas, the Goblin general girded his loins and prepared to charge. The skirmishers were moving into position to deal with the elephantine nuisance in the centre and Mughrant had seen the writing on the wall. He kept his chariot moving away from the battlefield.

Naturally I got too excited to photograph the final turn. Needless to say, the photograph would only have had a very small number of Goblins on it. The Goblin general charged the Mirish general and drove him back. Following up he attacked again, screaming fearsome cries as he cleaved his way towards the Mirish general. Then fate struck. Whether he tripped over a root, or just stepped in someone, we shall never know now. As he stumbled a Mirish clibanarius drove his spear through the general's body. The Goblin standard fell and soon the whole Goblin army was in rout. For the loss of just a few clibanarii, the Mirish army had utterly routed the Goblin horde. The Border Kingdoms were now back under human control.

This will be one of our last WH battles. We shall be upgrading to Rally Round the King at the end of this campaign year. The battle saw the Goblin army routed and their national morale utterly destroyed. The Goblins have sought peace. As part of that they will now supply a contingent to the Mirish army for the next six years.

Rally Round the King

Rally Round the King has now been released. This is an updated and refined version of the Warrior Heroes rules that we use for our massed battles and very fine it looks too upon a first read through. I must admit to having had some input into this iteration of the rules, so I may well be a little biased, but I am thrilled to see the rules back in print and brought into line with the newer sets from TwoHourWargames.

So, what does this mean for our campaign? Well, there are subtle differences between the two rules sets, and the army lists in the new version have been altered slightly, mostly by the addition of the Undisciplined ability and allowances that need to be made for that. Since we plan to use these rules largely as written, including the new army lists, we shall finish the current campaign year using Warrior Heroes and then transfer over to the new rules in the Winter refit phase. This should ensure a seamless transition between the two, not that there are huge differences really. I am looking forward to playing using the updated rules.