As darkness falls, the citizens of the Empire shutter their doors and windows. An eerie mist begins to roll in from the east. Albrecht Hexenjaeger steps to the top of his War Altar. Chains go taught as zealots, invigorated by their holy fervor, pull the machine past lines of soldiers. The Arch Lector stares out into the gloom where flickering balefires, like rows of candles marching ever closer, begin to appear through the haze. A fluttering, screeching din fills the sky, as clouds of fell creatures descend upon the battlefield...
game was played at my friend Steve Stiefel's house on his beautiful
terrain. You can see more of his finished Empire Army and
works-in-progress over on theWarhammer-Empire.comforum.
With our armies deployed, Steve and I rolled-off for first turn. He won, but elected to let me move first.
I sent my lines of dire wolves forward. They would not be able to charge in the first turn, but they would give the Imperial artillery something to think about.
Turn 1: Vampire Counts
My battle line advanced forward. My General Dimitri Von Koss was positioned to allow the black knights on the right flank their full march move. I then shifted him to the left do allow the center to catch up in the following turn. The wolves and varghulfs were poised to charge in the following turn if they could survive the Empire shooting phase.
Using the Storm of Magic rules, I generated 13 power dice. The black coach had a chance to siphon some of them for its Evocation of Death ability, I rolled all 13 dice, hoping for 6's, and it got exactly zero. Take that, mathematical probability! The magic phase was otherwise uneventful; My only offensive spells were Marduk's Gaze of Nagash, and Dimitri's Curse of Years, both well out of range. With literally all of my skeletons and zombies on the table, I didn't have any spare models to raise, so it was on to Steve's turn.
Turn 1: Empire
I wasn't expecting Steve to move out of his battle line so early, but he surprised me with two charges: The halberdiers and Knights of the White Wolf surged forward to engage my wolves in the center.
In the magic phase, The War Altar used Banishment to obliterate one of my dire wolf units. Hieronymous Bosch augmented the White Wolves using Birona's Time Warp, but rolled double sixes! There was no chance for me to stop the spell, but the resulting miscast resulted in a magical feedback which wounded nearly all of his wizards and warrior priests!
That was a bit of luck for me, but in the shooting phase I could only sit and watch as his artillery line blasted my wolves to bits. His steam tank on my right flank misfired, but the a cannon in the center bounced a cannonball right through Seth and his zombie dragon. They each took two wounds. On the left flank another cannon nearly killed one of my varghulfs.
As expected, Steve's units eliminated both dire wolf units in combat. The Halberdiers held their ground, but the knights overran, right into the flank of my black knights.
Turn 2: Vampire Counts
Those Knights of the White Wolf were right in front of my Red Guard skeleton unit, so they charged into the knights' flank. There was no room for Seth's dragon to fit in the fight, so I shifted him behind a building for some cover. The black knights on my right galloped into the steam tank.
The remaining wolf unit, varghulf and the fell bats engaged some of Steve's missile troops on the left flank. I attempted a charge with the Crimson Reaper skeletons in the center, followed up with a bat swarm, but the skeletons fell short, leaving the bats high and dry.
As the rest of my battle line shambled forward, the wounded varghulf fell back into range of my necromancers. In the magic phase, I was able to heal one of its wounds as well as a few bats and skeletons. The black coach siphoned 4 dice toward it's Evocation. It would now hit a little harder in combat.
In combat, the varghulf slaughtered Steve's cannon crew, and overran into the flank of his swordsman unit. The dire wolves, on the other hand, were unable to break the line of handgunners.
The fell bats were wiped out by the Outriders on the hill, but they managed to take one down with them. The lone bat swarm, on the other hand managed to hang on; no blows were struck by either side, so the halberdiers won on combat resolution alone. That wasn't enough to break the swarm, however.
The main fight was the one between the skeletons and knights. The skeletons were unable to penetrate the White Wolves' armor, but the black knights manages to kill two. The White Wolves brought down two of my knights in return and, despite losing the combat, held fast.
Against the steam tank, my other unit of black knights only inflicted two wounds. The unbreakable tank kept them locked in place. I should have known better than to assume I'd be able to crash right through a steel behemoth with 10 wounds and a 1+ armor save.
Turn 2: Empire
Steve had pretty effectively stalled my advance; both of my large units of knights were locked in combat, and my screen of wolves was all but gone.
He decided to press his advantage by having his Inner Circle knights, The Obsidian Order of Sigmar, charge the black knights in the center. They fell short, which meant the White Wolves would have to fend for themselves against the overwhelming odds. The free company pressed forward into my Hellfire Knights engaged with the steam tank. Their ranks and banner could turn the tide of that fight.
The warrior priest with the free company was able to bestow them with a 5+ ward save, but the rest of the magic phase was uneventful. Likely his wizards were still reeling from last turn's disastrous miscast.
In the shooting phase, the Helblaster volley guns and Outriders did a number on my troops. The smaller unit of black knights had their number cut in half! Then steve pulled out his laptop, pressed play, and The Ride of the Valkyries began to fill the air. His Engineer had unleashed a pigeon bomb, dozens of the tiny birds soared through the air toward my battle line. As Steve rolled the artillery dice to determine the airborne attack's result, a "misfire" came up. The birds, likely diverted by the swarms of bats and flies in the sky, arced back on their master and detonated their deadly payload. The Engineer survived, but a few crossbowmen and an artillery crew member were killed.
Cannonballs flew toward my still-wounded varghulf, but missed or bounced harmlessly off his regenerative hide.
In combat, the lone bat swarm finally crumbled, but the White Wolves held fast. With the free company, the warrior priest's blessing didn't prevent him from being cut down by a black knight's killing blow.
Over on the left flank, the vargulf finished off another warrior priest, but the unit of swordsmen held fast, thanks to the resolve of their captain. The handgunners engaged with the dire wolves also held, and reformed to face them.
Turn 3: Vampire Counts
The Crimson Reapers and the corpse cart charged the halberdiers on the hill. I tried to get the bat swarm to their right into the fight as well, but they didn't make it.
On the left flank, however, the charging bat swarm rolled high enough to reach the fire wizard lord Argyle Von Flamme.
My general continued his move to the left, which would allow the infantry to march next turn.
In the magic phase, Marduk the Ghoul King cast Gaze of Nagash on the Outriders, killing six of them! The unit tested for panic, but held fast. Dimitri cast Curse of Years on a unit of handgunners. The spell came off with irresistible force (I would get to use my new counter after all!) but the spell also miscast. I rolled the same result Steve got in the first turn and all of my wizards, save Marduk, were injured by the magical feedback! Unfortunately, this was the final wound for Seth Von Koss, who fell from his mount in a smouldering husk! The dragon stood fast over his fallen master...
The combat phase went a little better for me– The varghulf broke the unit of swordsmen and chased them right off the battlefield. Similarly, the dire wolves broke the unit of handgunners, and persued right into the cannon behind them. As Steve's left flank crumbed, the nearby Outriders panicked and fled.
Overpowered by the bat swarm, and weakened from his feedback injury, Argyle Von Flamme fell. The bats surged past and into the Witch Hunter Joachim Schadel.
The skeletons and corpse cart also broke the halberdiers, pursued and caught them, stopping only inches from Steve's main line.
Turn 3: Empire
Steve's Inner Circle knights were finally able to connect with my black knights. The crazed flagellants also charged the bat swarm. The Cursed handgunner unit were also ordered forward to engage the approaching grave guard horde. Behind them, the broken Outriders fled the field and Steve reformed his main battle line.
The remaining Fire wizard Erlich Karlz cast Cascading Fire-Cloak on the himself and the Greatsword unit he'd joined. This would damage my grave guard unit if I engaged them next turn if I could not dispel it. His Light wizards also shut down my Curse of Years and bolstered the free company with Binona's Time Warp and Speed of Light.
I'd done a number on Steve's gun line, but the remaining volley guns and cannons blew away my corpse cart and killed the wounded varghulf. They also reduced the black knight unit on the left flank to a single wight.
In the combat between the grave guard and the handgunners, wight king Oren Koth, my battle standard bearer, killed the warrior priest, and the rest of the grave guard killed the handgunners to a man.
The witch hunter held the bat swarm at a draw, while the dire wolves killed the cannon crew and overran into the other cannon.
The Obsidian Order of Sigmar was able to finally crush the black knights fighting the White Wolves. They reformed alongside the victorious flagellants. The Knights of the White Wolves, themselves, used a combat reform to face the skeletons they were fighting.
Similarly, the steam tank and free company ground down the last of the Hellfire Knights on the right flank.
At the halfway mark Steve and I were both in high spirits and it could still be anybody's game.
My 40 Hellfire Knights have been reduced to a single man, I have a now-useless zombie dragon standing guard over my dead vampire lord, and the only thing holding up my right flank is a well-invigorated black coach. I've also lost one of my varghulfs, but the other one, along with a few dire wolves, has wreaked havoc on the left flank. The bulk of my infantry has yet to reach the fight, and Steve still has both steam tanks and a couple Helblasters to whittle them down.
The fight in the center could go either way, but I have no idea how I'm going to stop those Inner Circle knights. Maybe the black coach can tie them up for a few turns...
Part three, featuring the exciting conclusion, is up now!