IN THE LEAVINGS OF WAR
Author: ? ©
In The Leaving of War
Backup from the website "The Stygian Abyss" http://www.cgo.wave.ca/~sbeldam/
The sun, swollen crimson, crept into radiant being over the rough line of the horizon. Eire Thesrin rubbed his hands together, trying to drive out the chill soaking into his skin from the thin blanket of fog and early morning damp air.
"The scouts report movement to the south," Kephram growled, his voice rough as the battle-scarred armour across his chest. "Elves, bearing the colours of Helios."
"As I foresaw," Eire said, nodding.
"We will stop them?"
"We can´t let them run into the flank of the One King´s army." He nodded towards the ruinous stone walls before them, their ancient surfaces cracked and crawling with greenery. "A village?"
"Perhaps," the Knight said, his voice distant and soft. "Many villages have come and gone, here."
"Ready the warriors. We shall fight them here."
This battle was fought between the forces of House Helios, ably commanded by my friend John, and the armies of the One King, led by my own uncertain hand. I´ve been toying with the idea of building a Firstborn army and decided to fight a few games with them.
By way of preparation, I read Firstborn Canuck´s massive Tactical Manual, read through the rules and troop stats a few times and generally cogitated ferociously. My army choices reflect this preparation. John needed no such research; he knew his army and what he was doing.
We played on my 6x4 table, although we put a castle terrain piece (the big grey blob on the map) to cut the table down to roughly 4.5x4. We played using AKA´s cavalry rules for John´s Dragonsbane and the Sons of Kronos missle weapon restrictions, although we chose to allow individuals with missile weapons to fire not more than twice instead of just once.
The brown square beside the castle is a large wooden box which we added to break up the table a bit (I need more fantasy terrain), upon which was mounted a big bowl filled with BBQ potato chips. (War without snack food? Never.)
Firstborn Picket Force
Chronomancer Eire Thesrin with Time Stop, Second Chance, Accelerate, True Sight, Set Back and Tactical Advantage.
Repulsar Knight Marksman
Black Sisters, 4 plus Leader.
Firstborn Swordsmen, 4 plus Leader, Standard and Greatsword.
Macemen, 4 plus Leader.
Crossbowmen, 4 plus Leader.
House Helios Scouting Force
John fielded the current version of his Helios army, including a number of troops in a mix which has worked for him in the past. I hoped that I would be able to prompt more of a re-thinking of strategy than our last outing managed :-)
Red Lotus Eater with Summon Daughter of the Phoenix, Fireball and Lavapool
Warrior of the Sun Dragonsbane Warkiller
Elven Axemen, 4 plus Leader and Standard
Archers, 6 plus Leader
Keepers of the Flame, 4 plus Leader.
This image shows the deployment of our armies. My Chronomancer successfully cast Tactical Advantage, using it to place the Red Lotus Eater and his Axemen far into the corner. John deployed the rest of his army in two main chunks, his Warrior of the Sun with his Keepers on his right, with his Archers in the center.
Using a bit of forethought, I divided my army into three sections. The first offensive arm was on my left flank, formed of my Black Sisters behind a line of Macemen, designed to protect the vulnerable Sisters until they could get in close. On my left was the Swordsmen with my Repulsar Knight in their midst, with his support combining with their standard to up the standard Swordsman to a CC of 16!
Into my centre, on the raised surface of the Ruined Fort, went my Crossbowmen.
At this point, the map above has been simplified somewhat for clarity. My macemen-Sisters group advanced into the shadow of the ruins; my Marksman advanced into the woods in anticipation of mayhem to come. John successfully summoned a Daughter with his Lotus Eater, following the success up with an advance of his Axemen and Dragonsbane. His archers advanced around the corner of the hills, looking for prey.
Seeing potential in the bottlemeck between the castle and the brown box, my Repulsar/Swords mass advanced towards it.
This was the point at which I made what was, in retrospect, a very bad move. Deciding to advance my crossbowmen, I announced that I would leap them off the edge and drop the two and a half inches to the ground. John pointed out that falling rules were in Sons of Kronos. Looking them up, I noted the need for armour checks. I announced that I would do it anyway, remembering the memorable time that a Fury Elite saved eleven successive saves against heavy machine gun fire.
Two of my crossbowmen failed.
Slamming my head into the table in frustration, hearing John laugh at my stupidity, I could only imagine the Crossbow Leader berating his men. "Oh, come on, you panzies! It´s just broken legs! I´ve had worse! Rise above it, man!"
In his far corner, John began the turn with the successful summon of another Daughter. I wasn´t looking forward to fighting these things.
An ugly little fight was brewing on my right, as John moved his axemen into the bottleneck. The Swords advanced, steeled by the Repulsar Knight.
In the center, John moved his Dragonsbane into view in concert with an advance of his Keepers. My Marksman dropped one of the Keepers in her tracks with a well-aimed arrow. The Black Sisters and Macemen moved into position. I watched the movement of the Keepers, wondering if I could manage to bring the Sisters into the fray to maximum effect before the formidable offensive John was preparing would strip away my macemen.
All of a sudden, quite a bit happened.
In the bottleneck, John´s axemen avanced into my Swords. In the to-and-fro, my Greatsword and a Swordsmen fell, along with an Axeman, leaving the Axeman Leader holding the gap. Next turn, I thought, the Repulsar will be going in, and then the blood would run freely.
In the center, my Marksman took down two of John´s archers. Shrugging away his losses, he Hail of Arrowed my macemen as they rounded the corner. Amazingly enough, all of the sisters caught under the template passed their saves, but one Maceman did not do so well.
Seeing a melee approaching, John moved his Dragonsbane into position, running it past my Crossbowmen, who had advanced into the woods. Their peppering fire inflicted one wound on the beast.
Having run the Crossbow gauntlet, the Dragonsbane hit the Archer-savaged Macemen and managed to kill one on his charge move.
The Keepers of the Flame advanced into more unlucky Macemen, killing more. The shattered survivors passed their panic test and stood firm, watching the Warrior of the Sun move into position.
Which is when things got interesting.
The Black Sisters, their Macemen shield having performed admirably, demonstrated why they are worth the 107 point protection. Charging forward, the Sisters ripped through the Keepers like a hot knife through butter, each Sister using her three actions to maximum effect. Keeper after keeper fell to singing Firstborn steel; others went after the Dragonsbane, and after the wounds suffered at the hands of the crossbows, the beast perished. The Warrior of the Sun found himself suddenly, horribly, alone and surrounded.
In the bottleneck, John´s axemen paid the price for his error. In the narrow confines, no more than one axeman could fight at a time; odds that my Repulsar Knight took advantage of to slay the entire squad, man by man. The last axeman survivor was the standard bearer, ignoring to the end the Repulsar Knight´s fearful nature.
In the center, my missile troops exchanged fire with John´s. With their greater damage and the shelter provided by the woods, my troops felled two of John´s exposed archers to no loss of their own.
John used the terrific mobility of the Daughters to move them suddenly towards the center of the table. Seeing their approach, I knew that I had to get rid of John´s Warrior of the Sun, and quickly, while numbers were in my favour.
This was not made any easier by the Warrior´s use of his Flame Strike. Fearing for my lightly armoured Sisters, I reached for my dice . . . and passed all their saves, though one Maceman died. General amazement all around. The Warrior used his last action to kill another Sister. Once activated, the Sisters proceeded to carve up the Warrior, his armour offering little resistance to their massive double-handed swords backed up by three actions apiece and multiple combatant bonuses.
In the center, John maneuvered his archers to fire into my troops. Seizing advantage of this situation, I sent in my Chronomancer (who had, up to this point, played a fairly minor supporting role). Time Stop gave him six actions free of enemy interference which he used to inflict massive casualties on the squad. The remainder failed their panic test.
On my right, my suddenly available Repulsar Knight and Swords moved towards the only remaining fighting, in my centre-left, where the Sisters successfully slew one Daughter. The other was peppered by missile weapon fire but only took one wound. Things were falling apart at the seams; John´s only option was to try to inflict as many casuatlies as possible in the time left.
With John´s Daughter badly positioned and wounded, the Sisters quickly went to work. The Archers continued to flee for their lives. The center was secure, leaving John with nothing more than one remaining Daughter and a Lotus Eater bereft of summoning spells and unequipped to deal with the plethora of forces before him. The battle was over, the Firstborn had triumphed. If only, I thought, more of my squads weren´t broken . . .
- Lotus Eater
94 points remaining, 806 points lost, 681 VPs
- Repulsar Knight (1 wound remaining)
- Repulsar Knight Marksman
- Black Sisters (broken, 2 survivors)
- Macemen (broken, 1 survivor)
- Swordsmen (3 Knights plus Leader and Standard)
- Crossbowmen (broken, 2 survivors)
513 points remaining, 487 points lost, 1,319 VPs
Result: Firstborn victory, 638 point VP margin
I think I like the Firstborn. A Firstborn army looms in my future, but there ain´t no way I´m painting checks all over them. The Sisters/Maceman combo worked better than I had hoped, and the Repulsar Knight and Swordsmen demonstrated why they are the backbone of the One King´s army. The crossbows didn´t do as well as I had hoped; I think I´ll drop them in favour of Longbows, since I would just end up using them as dedicated MW troops anyway and there is little point to paying for close combat skill I´ll never use.
I´m also planning on dropping the Marksman, who did little, for a Judge. That leaves a fifty point gap in my army, not enough to buy a Nightwalker, but I can fill it with a Black Sister bought as an Individual.
I think John´s biggest error was in sending his axemen into the bottleneck, where I could send in a Repulsar Knight; John couldn´t get more than one model into CC against him at a time. In the center, John fell for the oldest trick in FC´s book, but I think next time I won´t get away with the Maceman Shield technique quite so easily.
A fun game, as always.
First version from 24.03.2008. Last Version from 24.03.2008.