Monday 20 May 2024


First Report

The horse was a streak of white across the sprung green turf, the swiftest of gallops, leaping rocks and streams at a single sure bound, urged on by its white cloaked rider. Fleet of foot, the steed knew well its route back home, making at speed for the fortress of Tor Helethion. The rider urged it on with words spoken in the soft elvish tongue. Swiftly climbing the rock strewn slopes of the southern hill, the great gates of the fortress, pillared either side by tall, grey and ageing stone statues of ancient princes, already stood open. The rider reined in his mount in a clatter of hooves upon the forecourt flagstone, and leap from his saddle before his steed had halted. Silver-helmed sentries posted on the high walls and towers looked down inquiringly from above. A urgent rider seldom brought good news. With long strides, the reaver sprang up the steps and into the vaulted hall within.

Within sat the commander of the fortress and warden of this island outpost, Prince Belhallas. The cloaked rider approached at his beckoning.

“Word from Shadow-Captain Raelyn in the north. He reports the first Druchii raiders of the spring season. Riders and corsairs have made land fall. He and his band have tracked a raiding party and ambushed it. It is destroyed, but there are more. Lord Elendaer has mustered the northern tower garrisons and is marching out. When I was dispatched it was the eve of a battle. The curs’d Druchii have come from the sea, and brought a foul war beast up from the depths with them.”

“No more than the nuisance raids of our northern kin. We have seen it often before. I swear they make a sport of it. Captain Raelyn and Lord Elendaer still have all in hand?”

“Yes, my Lord Prince Belhallas, as yet, but the northern garrison is not so strong, should more enemies come. Lord Elendaer requests you dispatch more riders and sea guard to his aid. Black sailed corsairs ships have been sighted by the watchtowers, other raiders to the east and west may already have made landfall.”

“Our garrison will be placed on alert. I’ll send riders north with Mage Eralis, and put ships and eagles out to sea to find these corsair vessel. We can also double the rider patrols to the east and west and scour the land for any raiders. Small parties can’t touch us here, but they might attack and burn our watchtowers. Messengers will be sent to warn them. I have an eagle messenger ready, should we require aid from mainland. All will be taken in hand. For yourself, take a brief rest, then a fresh horse, and ride back to Lord Elendaer and tell him, we are mustering two days behind him. If the enemy grows stronger, he and his forces can fall back along the eastern coastal path and send swift word ahead. We’ll be ready to sally out to reinforce him if needs be. As yet, let’s not be overly alarmed, raiders come to hit and run, not to invade...


The campaign location, a northern isle of Ulthuan, guarding the Blighted Isle.

After the previous 'learning' pitched battle games, time for something different (and more n line with the campaign style of gaming). An amphibious assault game... which is a meeting engagement, with both forces arriving onto the table tabletop throughout the turns, and moving up into the battle. Both sides would have their light screening forces, already in place, mostly skirmishers and scouts, but the main combat units would have to arrive from their table edge (and hence the 6' depth) in column of march. The Dark Elves would be wading ashore from their imagined Black Ark anchored off table. If this isn't enough, then it's asymmetrical too, with 1,500 points of High Elves (all they could have after the previous 2 battles) vs 2,500 points of Dark Elves (they would always have the advantage as it helps the campaign if the enemy can actually get ashore to fight). The High Elves would get a Victory Points modifier of x 1.666 to compensate, when determining the ultimate winner. So, they could do less damage, but still claim a win, even if overwhelmed, because they would have delayed the Dark Elves and done some serious damage in the process. The long terms effects of this on the narrative could be worked out later... 

The forces: 

So forces were selected. The High Elves had an issue with their heroes, as 2 of their currently available 3 were wounded in game 3, so were missing next game (this one). That left them only their level 1 mage... the young apprentice would be leading this blocking force, desperate times!. The Dark Elves had 2 of their available 3 characters, the returning Dark Rider's commander Ullas and the level 3 Sorceress (campaign experience promoted her from level 2 to 3 after the last game). They'd lost their level 1 sorceress permanently, killed last game (melted in the pillar of fire). These two would both be leading the screening force. Behind, the Dread Lord's herald (the Battle Standard Bearer) would lead the arriving troops, it seemed only right that the army banner would come shore first, to be planted as a statement. That Noble (on his Cold One with the Banner of Nagarythe) would arrive with the other wading reinforcements from turn 2 onwards. 

The battle began with few turns of skirmishing, archers taking long range shots and minor losses on both sides. Neither was bold enough to send their light cavalry out to get shot at… so the Dark Elves moved up their lead troops off the beach, corsairs in the centre, witch elves on the right, hydra on their left, and rolled for the arrival of reinforcements, with the spearmen units being next to wade ashore. The Dark Elf sorceress unleashed her fireball and fried a few shadow warriors taking cover in the ruins… which are no protection against magic. That spell would eventually wipe them out…

The High Elves had 2 sea guard units arrive on turn 2 and march in.

By turn 3 things were hotting up, with more missile fire and the lines were starting to be drawn. The corsairs dash off the beach had now been reformed in a big block in the centre, advancing on the sea guard under their archery, with a few losses, but nothing to make the bloodthirsty corsairs care. The witch elves marched up on the shadow warriors covering the beach, leaving a few dead pierced by white-shafted arrows, bodies floating on the tide, and the shadow warriors, menaced by spearmen as well, had to flee away at top speed, enemy in pursuit. The Ellyrian reavers in the centre finally rode forward and loosed their first volleys (emboldened by being unbreakable due to the mage’s spell), and shot down a few more corsairs. The other Ellyrian reavers waited at the back, that hydra was coming, but a good volley of repeater crossbow bolts would make short work of the light cavalry, so the plan was to hide and wait for a charge on the hydra.

More troops arrived for the Dark Elves, the cold one knights and crossbows arriving in turns 3 and 4 and joining the rush inland, cold ones slowed by an outbreak of stupidity… their battle standard bearer was behind them and also slowed by the same outbreak… he wouldn’t ever catch up and played no real part in the battle, except looking good with his big flag.

Meanwhile, the high elf lines had formed, sea guard now in lines on the left, right and in the centre, giant eagles last to arrive, flying in behind. One headed left, to try to aid against the hydra’s attack, which seemed unstoppable as it couldn’t fail a regeneration save, pesky elf arrows were no bother! The other eagle waited behind the sea guard, eagle-eyes on the lone sorceress, for long charge to assassinate her and end her constant fireball throwing (she had, by unlucky dice, failed a cast a few times). She how she liked being pecked to death.

The battle was now on, the build-up and harrying complete. The corsairs led the charge, slamming into the sea guard through their arrow storm and into a fierce melee, which after all was done (aided by hatred), they won by just 1. The sea guard rolled their break test, got an 11 and ran… 2”. So, the corsairs pursued them, cutting them down and, of course, overran on into the eagle… butchering it next (no sorceress for diner then). The High Elf centre had been destroyed.

On the High Elf left the sea guard and reavers and giant eagle didn’t wait for the coming charge, but rushed forwards, spears lowered, to meet the dark riders (easily see them off) and the hydra, which they still failed to wound at all. The hydra got busy eating elves when the sea guard’s pursuit of the dark riders carried them into melee with it. It would win, seeing the eagle, last few reavers and the sea guard all run. It’s many-headed pursuit of the sea guard destroyed them, and the eagle flew off, was then charged by the corsairs and fled again, off the table - wise bird!

The last of the melees was on the right, the cold one knights, unable to catch the skirmishing reavers which had pulled back at top speed, swung round to charge the last sea guard line, but lost 4 of their 7 to archery as they closed in. The following melee was a narrow sea guard win (thanks to ranks, banner, close order, etc.) but the last 3  knights held the line and fought on. That would be grind… their 2+ armour save meaning the sea guard had a difficult job to kill them, but they weren’t going to break (now being unbreakable due to the mage’s aid). Stalemate.

After 7 turns we called it. Time to add up VPs, with the High Elves getting a x1.666 bonus because of the points difference. In the end, the Dark Elves had 860 VPs in total, the High Elves 679, so a narrow Dark Elf win (despite doing most of the damage). They are ashore and can start to bring in more forces and their heavier equipment, chariots and bolt throwers, etc. The High Elves northern garrison have failed to stop them (which is good for the campaign, the Dark Elves are here in force now). The High Elves need aid… and will get it in the next few games.

We rolled for any campaign experience gained for the surviving units and characters. Both Ullas and the bothersome Sorceress gained new bonuses (he is now Stubborn, she has Magic Resistance 1)… and both their spearmen regiments gained some too. One are now Veterans. The other’s Hatred has been upgraded to Eternal Hatred (they real dislike these Asur). They now both become ‘Regiments of Renown’ and need names, so, the ‘Jade Serpent’ regiments and ‘Black Heart’ regiment. The only High Elves to gain campaign experience was the surviving Ellyrian reavers. They gained +1BS (handy) and are now ‘Doldir’s Shore Riders’.

The campaign narrative can move on. The Dark Elf Dread Lord has chosen to reinforce his beachhead and launch a raiding force to attack one of the High Elf watchtowers along the coast. The last of the northern garrison will defend it, and at least they’ll have all 3 of their characters back for that fight, which will be game 5. I’ve also ordered a 3-D printed elven tower for the terrain. When it arrives and is painted up, we can play. 

 Shots of the action...

The beachhead battlefield... Dark Elves from the right, up the beach, High Elves from the left. Rocks, ruins of long-lost elven halls, rocky ground and two briar thickets. Sea counts as difficult terrain (its not deep enough to drown in this close to the beach).

Rock tors and mighty boulders block the shore, leaving 4 routes up off the beach.

Part of the High Elf screen, Ellyrian Reavers (and magic carpet riding level 1 Mage - its not a actually a carpet, it's a little cloud he rides) in the centre.

Shadow Warriors deploy as scouts and cover the end of the beach.  First few turns would be skirmishing and shooting, as the combat troops arrived.  They drop a few witch elves into the sea.

The Dark Elf right, first wave, corsair column and hydra.

The centre, leading the assault, witch elves... handy suicide troops... note all start in column of march, for speed. Move off that beach! Go, go!

First High Elf reinforcements, sea guard, to guard the sea...

The cold one knights splash ashore behind the witch elves.

Corsair column gets off the beach, ahead of them crossbows and dark riders screen the landings and exchange ineffective long range fire.

Witch elves threaten the shadow warriors, but can't charge. Spearmen arrive too. The shadow warriors have no choice but to run away.

'Onward, my stupid knights!', the cold ones wander up...

Last High Elf reinforcements, the two eagles...

The shadow warriors loose and run, as the spearmen column takes the lead.

Corsairs reform for the fight, facing up sea guard in the centre. They advance to get to the hated Asur.

The sea guard column march on in the centre. Form line, and prepare to meet the corsairs.

Meanwhile, Elysian reavers harry the corsairs with arrows...

But, the cold ones knights are coming, time to run off...

Spears move up, but still can't charge... but shadow warriors archery is rubbish... no wounds for 2 turns!! Not a single 4+ To-wound... good grief!

Unable to catch the reavers, the knights swing for the sea guard as they form line.

The High Elf left flank, the enemy is coming, dark riders and hydra (unwounded after passing 7 straight regen rolls!, it won't die!), ready to charge, but the High Elves took it to them first... giant eagle goes for the hydra... then runs away from it!

The centres about to meet, corsairs charge through the elf arrows and win a narrow fight by just 1.  Remembered hatred for once...
The corsairs win the combat vs the sea guard, who break (rolling 11) and run (rolling 2) to be pursued and destroyed... the overrun then carries them into the eagle behind, which they then dice... messy! Terrible dice... tssk!

The sea guard see off the dark riders, who ran, but pursue and can't stop the hydra, as it eats them up, they all break, run and the sea guard are destroyed... disaster!

Cold Knights are not so lucky, through a hail of arrows, only 3 make it to contact, but can't overcome the sea guards ranks and standard, etc. No line-hammer here, the sea guard form in depth win... but the elite knights fight on.

Fleeing the hydra, the eagle is chased from the tabletop by the victorious corsairs...




1 comment:

  1. Excellent and inspiring post.

    I really really like your High Elves vs Dark Elves posts.