Slaughterhouse D6   1 comment

A game of throws.

Before the true activity of Thursday the 28th of December in distant, archaic history-year 2011 (although 2010 is still a future space-year, of course) could begin, I had to go to the shops (remember them? Having to go to the shops, how quaint!) for a quick post-Chrimbletide resupply. I was on a mission and a deadline.

Reason being, a friend – my usual anonymous “a friend”ing will soon become tedious, so let’s call him… Hmm… I know: Dave! – was coming over to visit, and play Warhammer. And after the usual pleasantries, that’s what we did.

I’d not played for ages, so it was nice to be back in a position to send hundreds of little plastic men to their dice-determined deaths. I’d decided the brave boys of the Empire (my original army; I’ve since got a decent Orc horde too) could have a day out, facing off against Dave’s grubby, cowardly, multitudinous, and above all smelly Skaven. The game would be a 2,500 point (a decent size, but not so large as to be unfinishable) straight-up pitched battle.

Roughly as they were deployed, from my left to right, the Empire troops were:
5 knights
A Level 2 Shadow Wizard
20 handgunners with a long-rifle
A war-machine battery clustered in and around a ruined building, with a fence just to their front-left
49 Halberdiers with an Arch Lector (my General) and Battle Standard
50 Spearmen with a Warrior Priest
A Level 4 Life Wizard (who soon joined the Spearmen)
A war-machine battery on top of a hill
and Rupert and Peggy in the gap between the hill and the right-hand edge of the board.

Both war-machine batteries comprised a Great Cannon, a Mortar, a Helstorm Rocket Battery and a Master Engineer to keep his eyes on them and stop them blowing up.
Rupert is an Empire Captain, and Peggy is his faithful pegasus steed. They are (in)famous for dying at every opportunity, no matter how heavily the odds are stacked in their favour.

On the opposite side of the board, again from my left to my right, the pox-encrusted Skaven went something like*:

26 Slaves
26 Clan-rats with a Level 2 magic Warlock rat
A Warp Lightning cannon on a hill
3 Rat Swarms, also on the hill
26 Clan-rats with a Battle Standard
52 Stormvermin with a Warlord (his General) on a Rat Ogre
52 Plague Monks with a Level 2 Plague Priest on a giant rat
About ten Plague Censer Bearers (horrible, evil things) just to the left of a small house
26 Slaves on the other side of the house
About six to eight Gutter Runners, deployed as scouts about a foot in front of Rupert and Peggy.

There was also a fence on the right-hand side of the rats’ deployment, but it took no part in the battle.

As you can see, the brave men of the Empire were heavily outnumbered, and in a fight a Clan-Rat is at least the match for a human warrior. Stormvermin, with heavy armour and halberds, and Plague Monks, being frenzied nutjobs, are even worse. But outnumbered as maybe: the Empire is never outgunned, and on top of the blackpowder we had both an overwhelming magical offence, thanks to our wizards, and defence, thanks to the Lector and Priest (three extra dispel dice per turn is not to be sneezed at; I don’t recall Dave successfully casting a single spell all game).

The forces at hand made our plan obvious. Not exciting, or unexpected, perhaps, but sensible reliability is better than excitement any day. The Empire forces would mostly hold their positions, as their flanks were guarded and their lines of fire were clear, and pummel the advancing reeking rat-men with artillery, gunfire and magic. Hopefully that would mean their numbers were reduced enough that the two main blocks of troops could engage them successfully.

And so it went, and I got the first turn, which was a bonus. The cannons spat their shot at the Warp-Lightning gun on the opposite hill with pinpoint accuracy but hopeless wound rolls, taking four shots (two whole turns!) to kill it. The mortars flung their explosive shells at the large Skaven units, whittling them down. As did the rocket batteries; missing more often than not, but when they did hit a single shot’s cataclysmic blast could cause dozens of rats to fall. Flaming, from the sky. When they were in range the handgunners joined in, managing to scare off the wizard-protecting Clan-Rat unit by felling eight of their number in a single barrage. Their long-rifle toting champion even managed to snipe a wound off the Battle Standard bearer.

The wizards did their thing too. No single spell was particularly terrible (although when the Level 4 wizard rolled irresistable force to resurrect 7 of his unit’s spearmen, before rolling a 1 on his get-out-of-miscast-free die, re-killing six of them in the resultant magical explosion, it was particularly amusing), but the combined castings of Dwellers Below and Pit of Shades made a nasty dent in the rodent lines. Most notably (and happily) to the Censer Bearers, killing over half of them just before they got to our lines; they’re particularly nasty in a fight, and are hard to kill with guns as they skirmish, so magic’s a good way to deal with them.

It wasn’t all sensible and pragmatic spells and shooting, though! Rupert and Peggy waded right in to the Gutter-Runners in a turn 1 charge, breaking them easily and running them down, before flying behind enemy lines (and, importantly, the house so as to avoid Censer Bearers) in an attempt to disrupt marches.
On the opposite flank, the brave Knights charged straight at the leftmost unit of Slaves, and against all odds broke them and ran them down (this was the only rule I know we forgot all game: Steadfast. But even then, the slaves would’ve needed 5 on 2D6 – not much better than 2 – and it could have wound up worse for Dave (and, admittedly, the knights) had they passed), before being forgotten at the back of the board for a turn, eventually being charged by the rat swarms, which kept the knights busy for a couple of turns; long enough to mean they could go for a bath before the rush.

Eventually, the remains of the rats – the Plague Priest had suffered death by cannonball, a fate only narrowly avoided by the warlord thanks to a ward save, and both large units and the rightmost slaves were well below half-strength – reached the Empire lines. The Stormvermin charged the Halberdiers, and my general issued a challenge, hoping to use Van Horstmann’s Speculum to swap statistics with the much more capable Warlord; alas, the champion accepted instead, and was extinguished with a brief squeak for his troubles. The Plague Monks engaged the Spearmen. Both were bloody battles, although not so bloody as they would have been without the intervention of Empire black-powder. Both were Empire victories, and both Skaven units broke and were run down. It was the beginning of the end for the rats.

On the left the remaining Clan-Rat unit charged my Level 2 wizard, who’d migrated just behind the fence. He held, bravely (foolishly) but didn’t live to tell the tale. The rats’ inertia carried them into the left-hand mortar. War machines don’t fare much better than wizards in combat, but it survived long enough to let the handgunners reform and charge the Clan-Rats’ flank, in turn holding until the Halberdiers could come around to charge them in the rear. After that, the survivors – the wounded Battle Standard Bearer and the Clan-Rat Champion – soon fled.

And on the right the Plague Censers managed to destroy a cannon before charging its guardian Engineer, but salvation was at hand! Rupert and Peggy flew in, attacking the Censer Bearers from behind, driving them off and saving the Engineer. They suffered injuries, but both lived to fight another day. Hurrah!
The last ten slaves charged a cannon, which held them up just long enough for the Spearmen to hit them in the flank and wipe them off the face of the Earth.

Of the hundreds at the start of the battle, few rats remained alive. Of those still breathing, not a single one had any hope of returning to the fray. Empire casualties were relatively light: the Level 2 Wizard, three war machines, one or two knights, and roughly ten men each from the Halberdiers, Spearmen and Handgunners. It was a glorious Empire victory indeed!

Our game of toy soldiers complete, my sister came around with her dog, and we all (except the dog) got a curry from the Indian across the road, crowding around the desk in my bedroom to eat it. Very tasty it was, too! But one day I’ll need a proper table, I suppose.

* “Squeak squeak chitter”.


Posted 4 January 2012 by Colthor in Diary, Toy Soldiers

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One response to “Slaughterhouse D6

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  1. Pingback: Read snow, play snow, get snow. « Talking to yourself

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