Once again, it's Dwarves vs. Orcs, this time with our tweaked 1,250 point armies. After my ignominous defeat the last time out, I decided my greenskins needed some moral support in the form of standards and leaders. The upgrade made for a much more satisfying, albeit bloody, game.
We used the "official" scouting rules and, as Des opted not to scout, terrain layout was entirely up to me.
(Incidentally, from here on out we'll be using a house rule for scouting that's much more satisfying and less convoluted.)
I set up a veritable wilderness on the Dwarf side, with a marsh on one side and rocky, broken ground on the other, with a fair-sized wood in the middle. I decided that this was a surprise river crossing by the Orcs, my very own "crossing of the Delaware", and set up the "big river/shoreline" tiles on my side.
Desiree deployed her troops in the center, with three layers of defense consisting of crossbows, then a unit of axes and her human knight allies, then the other axe unit and her spearmen (speardwarfs?).
I went with my standard "double envelopment" setup, which might have been ill-suited to the rough terrain of the board in retrospect. Wolves and trolls on the flanks as fast movers, rabble archers out in front to act as a skirmish screen, and a strong center of sword- and spear-armed orcs.
My left flank, with the trolls ready to mess things up.
One of the swank new units, sporting their new standard, musician, leader and champion, complete with atmospheric back-lighting. ;)
My wolves started on Hold thanks to their scouting (this is something we're doing away with with the new house rules--why would the scouting unit start off immobile and away from the action?), but that was quickly solved with an Eldritch Command from my wizard/warchief OTP. The rest of my army moved out as the Dwarf crossbows (aka the Murder Machines) opened up.
In the picture above you'll notice my trolls moving through the woods. That's as far as they'd get, as they were cut down in most cowardly fashion by volley after volley of crossbow bolts. Actually, if the trolls act as crossbow magnets, that's OK--less death for my other units! (Kinda like how tanks work in WWII games, or the Volley Gun in my old Warhammer army.)
Meanwhile, my wolfriders launced an attack on the Dwarven flank, cutting down a unit of crossbows as my spears and one unit of my swords moved up into the center. Meanwhile, the other unit of swords moved around the flank, stepping over the troll corpses...
After mowing down the crossbows, the wolves charged on, catching the Human battle leader as she was making her way back to her troops after picking up new orders from the warchief.
Desiree threw a unit of axes into the battle to bolster her battle leader. The first bloody melee of the game ended with my wolfriders getting wiped out and the Dwarf axes (and Human battle leader) routing off the board.
On the next turn, the Human knights quit the field. The right flank of the field had completely disintegrated! Sensing an opportunity, I moved my wizard up. Chanting and waving his arms, he opened a portal to another dimesion, summoning forth a demonic abomination...
...who promptly ate the wizard and disappeared to his home dimension.
The fight was shaping up in the center. Both sides had expended their missile units and the infantry was moving in. This was turning into our own version of the Battle of the Wilderness. (Incidentally, this battle featured the premiere of my latest attempt at finding a compromise between woods that look good on the table and still let you play. Using pieces of felt to represent the boundaries of the woods, the trees are secured to the board with pins, making them removable if a unit goes through the woods. Since one of the pivotal battles took place in the middle of one of the woods this was the perfect opportunity to test out the system and it worked really well.)
The two sides clashed just as the sun began to rise. I realized I should've started the battle just before sundown--Bad Light doesn't effect maneuvering of units, but it DOES effect combat! On my left flank, Desiree desperately threw her crossbow units against my flanking unit. My Orcs cut through them, but were hung up for a couple turns.
The battle in the center was bloody indeed. My spears hung on nearly to the last Orc (those standards really make a difference--although I was also rolling well). Meanwhile, my swords, fueled by Bloodlust, fought in the woods to the last Orc, barely defeating the Dwarf axes (in the end I had to throw in my battle leader to provide the final "push").
As the Orc spears routed off the field, the Dwarf spears turned to face my flanking foce, which had finally cut down the last Dwarven crossbows.
The exhausted speardwarves didn't last long, and I soon stood in triumph--but at what cost? I had precisely eight miniatures on the table in the end. A Pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless.
1) Orcs really benefit from standards and leaders.
2) Getting my boys into Bloodlust is most desirable. It happened "by accident" this time (once from a casualty test after taking missile fire, another time when the Dwarves counter-threatened one of my threatening units), but in the future I'll make use of magic and influence to try and whip my boys into a frenzy if the opposition doesn't do it for me.
I'm looking forward to our next battle, since I'm anxious to see if this victory was just a fluke. Plus the house rules I've assembled promise to add some extra levels of sophistication to the game. Until next time!