Monday, September 05, 2011

Armies of Arcana Battle Report #4

I'm finding that holiday weekends are an ideal time to get in some miniatures wargaming. With our usual Pendragon game taking a break this week owing to most of the group having other plans, Des and I sat down on Sunday for another match-up between my Undead and her Amazons.

I was particularly looking forward to premiering my new river and road terrain and incorporating my "house rules," which are really just some favorite bits from Fantasy Warriors mostly concerning table set-up and victory conditions. I was also looking forward to exorcising the rather disappointing last outing into AoA land of a couple months ago. Not counting that debacle, my skele-bones were 0-2. Would I finally chalk up my first victory or go down once again to ignominious defeat? Read on... (All pictures clickable, of course.)

The initial setup. Using the FW-inspired scouting rules, my Undead were completely outmaneuvered, allowing Des to choose the terrain and time of day (dawn, naturally). I quite liked the "new" FW-inspired terrain placement rules; after years of playing WWII skirmish games, I have a tendency to overcrowd the board with terrain. These rules created a nice, more open feeling while still creating enough obstacles to have an impact on deployment and maneuvering.

Right before battle is joined. At the last minute, Des ended up shifting her Peltasts (in the nearground) a bit, moving one of the units over to the other flank to guard her avatar of Athena (who was one of my victory objectives, the other being her Centaurs). For my part, I named my War Mammoth as an objective and the ruined temple as the other.

For years I've favored deploying my fast, hard-hitting units on the flanks but this game I took a chance and put my Knights right in the center. So it was that knights clashed with chariots on Turn One, kicking things off in grand style!

The "thousand yard stare" of a seasoned veteran...

The lines draw closer together, as the Amazon skirmish screen moves to contact my two infantry units. Meanwhile, the Centaurs and Peltasts move up towards the ruined temple, which has been occupied by my Troll-riding Necromancer, Germanotta. This marked the first game where I was actually able to get some spells off, finally rolling well against the inevitable Counterspell attempts.

Another view of the early stages of the battle. You can make out the Centaurs between the woods and the marsh...and my catapult drawing a bead on them. Shortly after this picture was snapped, I hit the Centaurs with a truly devastating shot from my catapult that wiped out five of the six horses! That catapult is easily the most effective unit in my army (when it hits, that is).

With one of my victory objectives nearly in the bag, I turned my sights on the other. As Athena was hiding behind a screen of Peltasts and a raging river, it would take some doing to get there. Here we see my War Mammoth about to attempt a river crossing. My Skeleton Pikemen, meanwhile, have made short work of the unit of Axewomen and are gunning for the Amazon Phalangites, whose numbers are being steadily whittled down by my archers. (More thoughtful deployment of my missile unit this battle allowed them an opportunity to play a more effective role, as well. I'm learning!)

Seeing what I was up to, Des sends her Barbarian Queen across the river as well. We had three units in total cross the river this game, and all suffered for it. My river-crossing house rules (developed back in the Fantasy Warriors days) proved their worth. Next game that features a river, I hope to see a bridge or ford if only to see how that affects things.

The situation mid-game. The chariot vs. knight contest turned into a real slugfest as neither side could force a morale check and we were both rolling hot on our armor saves...

In the end, though, the chariot unit broke, proving the old truism that if a chariot doesn't shatter a unit on its first charge it's probably doomed. The ensuing pursuit broke the center wide open and left my knights in an excellent position.

The other big melee in the middle. I'm finding Undead in melee to be an interesting spectacle. Being Fearless, they don't run away, but if they fail morale checks they tend to start disintegrating rapidly. Win or lose, my units are usually pretty depleted after a melee.

River crossings completed. Odds weren't looking good for my poor Mammoth, facing off against a General, a unit of Peltasts, and an Avatar.

After this picture was snapped, I charged the Amazon General with my Mammoth. She had lost 3 of her 6 Wounds crossing the river, but alas I was unable to finish the job. The Peltasts counter-charged and between them and the General my mammoth went down like a Mumakil. You can also see in the picture where I charged the Phalangites with my Pikes. Despite catching the phalanx on the flank, some phenomenally bad dice rolling on my part led to my unit's rapid disintegration. Ah well.

Meanwhile on the left flank, the lone remaining Centaur had charged Germanotta in her temple fastness and been dispatched. One victory condition met by each of us! I then managed to actually cast Raise Dead (a remarkable achievement for this army, trust me) and bring up some fresh skeletons to intercept the Peltasts who were menacing my Necromancer. As their numbers dwindled, Germanotta spurred her Undead Troll forward and joined the fray, cutting down Amazons with bolts of eldritch energy from her impeccably-manicured fingers.

As the melee in the center wrapped up (leaving just my Reaper and a single Skeleton Warrior standing!), my knights became the third and last unit to ford the river. Des had moved her General and Peltasts around to counter this move, and combat was joined.

I lost several knights in the ensuing melee, but the Peltasts could not stand up under the charge and fled, carrying their Queen with them. The loss of a General was good enough to trigger a Command Test (another FW-inspired house rule) and the Amazon army quit the field just as the sun began to set...
So it was a minor, somewhat Pyrrhic victory for me, but a win is a win! Woohoo!

It was quite an epic game: seven turns and about four hours! I was glad for the Command Test rules because without them the game would have probably dragged on for another two or three turns at least and by the end we were both pretty much ready to pack things up. We both had lots of fun, though. Those Amazons are a bunch of badasses, I must say. I'd love to put together another army just to see how they fare against them. May be a project for 2012...
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