Wednesday 21 August 2013

Battle Report: Standing Firm at Mourning Glory (Turns 4 & 5)

August continues its campaign of sabotage against me, causing many delays in things like selling houses and writing battle reports.

Yes, dear reader, I equate those two things in importance - who am I to delay your reading pleasure just because I must fight daily with the unholy union of Solicitor and Estate Agent? So, whilst there is a brief pause in hostilities, I present turns four and five.

Battle Navigator
Forces Involved
Deployment and Turn 1
Turns 2 & 3
Turns 4 & 5 (you are here)
Turns 6 & 7

Turn 4

Running. There was lots of it in Turn 3. There is less in Turn 4, but its comforting to know that the turn pretty much picks up with the theme of Turn 3: running.

And so with that, we bid farewell to our fleeing stickas, who gracefully reach the table edge and sail past. In so doing, they renounce any claim they had to the battlefield, they do not pass go and they do not collect £200.

In a second surprise result, the trolls passed their stupidity test all by themselves! I was so excited by this incredible good fortune that I forgot that they had failed their charge last turn and were actually unformed. What should have happened is that they spent the turn reforming. What actually happened, in a scene reminiscent of another famous wizard fending off a giant creature on a rickety stone bridge in a huge underground mine in a galaxy far away some time ago or something, was they declared a charge on Dumbel Doore, the lone defender of the village. Perhaps less reminiscent of the other scene, Dumbel Door muttered something along the lines of "bugger that" before lifting his skirt and hightailing it off the bridge at double pace.

I guess the trolls became really unformed then?

Anyway, that completed the running* phase.

The Lead Belcher was now ready to fire, so the excitable crew turned their attention (and the gun) to the village.

Grommbo, pleased with the gun, rumbles back up the hill, keen to get back to the road and a safe route to the village as soon as possible. Grommble, already on the road, staggers behind the trolls, shouting abuse and encouragement in equal measure.

The Gobbos, the nasty little architects of demise of the goblin left flank, considered their work done and elected to reform. They turned 90 degrees and performed two manoeuvres - one to expand ranks to suit their new facing and the second to wheel neatly onto the road. They advanced with what little movement they had left.

The remaining Stickas advance, securing a comfortable position behind the hedgerow looking up at the bridge, just in case the trolls need covering fire. Or something.

Nothing much else happened on the Goblin side. No shooting, no combat. Gobbos advance down the road and the Stickas just relax.

Dull, dull, dull.

But what splendour we suddenly see in the defenders turn! With glorious fanfare, the Silver Helms lead the elven contingent onto the table from the north west. Dismay takes the hearts of the goblins as they realise the right flank will never return, having surely been scattered by their direct interception by the elves...

There are specific rules for advance contingents and rear guards, where units can be deployed onto the table later in the game. I didn't use any of them, choosing just to roll a d100 against a percentage chance.

Hope returns to the Halberdiers as they too make out the glittering banners of the elves. None of the defenders has ever seen an elf, but today, their cup runneth over - hopefully they are here to slay the goblins and not, well, anyone else?

But what's this? Dumbel Doore, cognisant of nothing but three raging trolls, hurtles through the village and the Halberdiers, intent only on a nice warm fire and a gin and tonic in the Village wotsitsname down the road a little way.

Fortunately, despite his panicky mutterings, the brave and proud Victoria Seacrette holds the men firm (in resolve that is - not in any other dealings that might result in the firmness of men - this is a battlefield after all). Thus bolstered, the Halberdiers follow Victoria back through the village gate and onto the bridge.

The Elven column advances onto the table, with the Silver Helms reaching the hedge.

Unfortunately, Dumbel Doore is not able to rally this turn. If there is any set of rules you might want to get familiar with, its the routing rules. Page 66, to be exact. There are many things to consider - more than I'll cover here, but one of the things to note is that you may not rally in the turn you started to rout, so Dumbel Doore keeps on trucking. The village defenders are very lucky, however - being a dwarf, the little feller can't get too far on his stumpy little legs!

*Made up phase - doesn't actually exist

Turn 5

So this is the situation at the beginning of turn 5:

The trolls, being unclear generally on the purpose of hats or tricks, are unable to pass their stupidity a third time in a row. The constant disappointment of chasing people over the bridge gave way to a genuine fascination with the wall of the bridge - such a peculiar collection of rocks!

With the trolls otherwise occupied, no other goblin units find themselves able to charge. The Gobbos, realising that it is they Grommbo must be shouting at, begrudgingly turn to face the new threat.

Grommbo moves down the hill, preparing for a glorious charge onto the road!

Now astute armchair war correspondents such as yourself will have noted in the previous picture a remarkable opportunity for the goblins. For on the south of the field is sitting a primed, multi-barrelled organ gun with not much to do. To the north west, there sits a column of elves, all lined up like skittles in a bowling alley, pretty much asking for it.

Time to introduce the plastic to some lead.

Let us revert back to this picture as a reference for the 'Before' picture:


Again, the rules for organ guns are far too numerous for us to discuss here, but lets take a quick look at cannons in general. There are no silly dice with pictures and arrows on to help us determine what happened to the artillery piece. This is Warhammer For Adults, where we can all read and understand numbers and arithmetic and things. We use adult dice with many sides and we are proud of the fact.

And, in the case of cannons, we, well, don't even need the dice, really. That's more for what happens next. All we need in the first instance, is a tape measure. Cannons fire at full strength for the first 12" form the barrel. Each subsequent 12" stretch the balls travel reduces the gun's strength by 1. Now in this case, the unfortunate elves were within 24" of the gun, so they were hit at S4. Cannon balls will only travel through six ranks of troops (not necessarily in the same unit - in this case, two ranks in the Silver Helms and the remaining four ranks of the Guard unit) before petering out. Normal cannon will cause two hits per rank, whereas an organ gun will only cause one hit per barrel per rank. 

One thing to note is that normal cannons will accumulate heat points, making them more and more dangerous to fire. Organ guns take as many turns to reload as they have barrels. In this case, the Lead Belcher has four barrels, so it will be out of action for four turns. As a result of this reload time, organ guns don't accrue any heat points. 

Cannons can also destroy intervening scenery like hedges or walls. As you can see, there was a hedge in the way, but the organ gun blew a 2" hole straight through it. On level ground, any intervening scenery will count as one of the six ranks mentioned above, but because the gun is on a hill, there are extra rules negating this penalty. All I can suggest is that if you have any cannon in your army - get to know the rules, cos there sure are a lot of 'em!

Four Silver Helms win an entry in next week's obituary column, together with six Guard. Unfortunately, Captain Namerica is also BTSIA (Blown To Smithereens In Action). The Silver Helms and Guard units are required to take panic tests, but both pass.

Gleefully, the goblins rest their case for the turn.

The defenders have no real response in their turn. Dumbel Doore is still close enough to cause concern, but again, due to the comforting presence of Victoria, the Halberdiers do not panic.

Dumbel Doore keeps on running (remember, the rally phase is at the end of the turn now), his movement just not quite enough to get him off the table...

But, despite her best efforts, Victoria can not compel the men to charge the trolls! Even though the trolls appear to be blundering around the bridge with little tactical awareness of the Halberdiers, they collectively apply the selective hearing men are so very famous for, selecting not to hear anything about charging, glory or cowardly-sons-of-bitches. The Halberdiers fail their fear test and remain rooted to the spot.

But a small glimmer of hope remains - Dumbel Doore, remembering he is a brave adventurer respected by the good and noble and feared by the wicked and dastardly, realises that there is now a meatshield unit of brave halberdiers who may need to be saved from the trolls. He couldn't leave them, or that nice lady, Victoria, to that fate, surely? Of course not!

So he rallies.

Battle Navigator
Forces Involved
Deployment and Turn 1
Turns 2 & 3
Turns 4 & 5 (you are here)
Turns 6 & 7

Monday 5 August 2013

Battle Report: Standing Firm at Mourning Glory (Turns 2 & 3)

Sorry for the delay in getting these up. Real Life has taken a particular dislike to me this month (and we're only five days in...) and is making every effort to screw this report up. Rest assured, dear reader, that my stamina and resolve have so far held firm and that I have soldiered through dark, dark valleys in order to relay the next few turns.

Battle Navigator
Forces Involved
Deployment and Turn 1
Turns 2 & 3 (you are here)
Turns 4 & 5
Turns 6 & 7

Turn 2

Except for turn 2, that is. The act of playing with myself was so novel and exciting, that I completely forgot to take pictures of it.

I can, however, sum up events (I still took notes) - you'll have to imagine the photo's. If you're having trouble with imagining, I would suggest you reconsider your interest in fantasy wargaming - it is, after all, an exercise involving imaginary creatures.

The goblins generally do well to keep order, as no units fail animosity and surprisingly, the trolls pass their stupidity test, despite Grommble's sudden focus on his left leg. Thus enabled, all goblin units advance. The sticka's carry on crossing the hedge, the gobbo's advance up the road behind Grommble and Grommbo 'drops off' the Lead Belcher. There are no rules about towing in WFB3 - I just made it up on the spot when deploying (as the GM, I suppose). I reasoned the gun would not be able to fire this turn as the crew work the thing out (one assumes even goblin generals are not in the habit of towing loaded cannons behind them).

In dropping off the gun, Grommbo must unfortunately occupy the space in front of the sticka's on the hill, thus preventing them from firing at the Halberdiers, but Grommbo wasn't too worried about this - they had failed to make a difference earlier and the trolls were advancing nicely anyway.

As far as the brave village defenders go, nothing much happens. Dumbel Doore rests on the bridge, safe in the knowledge that the Halberdiers and Victoria are between him and the trolls. If a wizard does nothing in his turn (no movement, shooting, no spells - nothing!), then he is considered to be resting and can gain a magic point. This is important for low level wizards who can quickly become spent in three turns of casting - or dwarf wizards, who have half the magic points of other wizards of the same level!

Turn 3

Fortunately, I got pictures of all the rest of the turns. From here on out, all the exciting stuff happens anyway.

Given that there had now been two turns of animosity free movement, Miss Fortune shushed Lady Luck out of the room and caused chaos. Animosity is a complex rule that can't really be summed up here, but essentially, there are a series of conditions that add or subtract modifiers from the animosity roll. In the end, if you get 7+ on the roll and the unit can charge, well - it will. If you have animosity suffering troops in your army, read up on it - it takes some wrapping your head around.

You may remember this picture from Turn 1:

See the Gobbo's perfectly lined up to slam into the rear of the Stickas? You'll never guess who failed their animosity test.

So I'll just have to tell you: The Gobbo's.

Yeah. They rolled 7.

Now, when a unit is charged and they are crossing an obstacle (you know, like the Stickas), they must take a panic test. 

A key difference between this edition and later editions of warhammer is that the only test that can be taken with the generals leadership score if he is within 12" of the testing unit is a rout test. Not panic tests. Not stupidity tests. Not driving tests. Only rout tests - that is, when a unit has lost combat and must test to rout. So, even if these chaps had been in range of Grommbo, they would have had to use their own Cl to test against. Goblins have a Cl of 5, so it should be no surprise that they panicked and routed.

Now, let's clear up something I said above: A rout test takes place when a unit loses combat. A panic test occurs for a wide variety of reasons, but if it is failed, the result is a rout - i.e. the same behaviour as if a unit failed a rout test - so if you're trying to find rules about running away from things, remember - you're looking for routing. I hope I wrote that clearly enough. 

Fortunately, no other units (that is, the one remaining unit of stickas) failed their animosity. More surprisingly, the Trolls passed their stupidity test all by themselves! Grommbo was too consumed with pain and rage to really enjoy this proud moment of lucidity and focus as he watched from a distance.

And given their continuing clarity and grumbling bellies, the trolls declared a charge on the halberdiers.

Now the Halberdiers of Count Tuten are renowned for many things (mainly gambling and whoring), but battling trolls is not one of them. Even Victoria's spirited cries of encouragement were not enough to bolster the courage of the men in the face of three raging 9' tall trolls. They fled, dragging poor Victoria with them.

Trolls cause fear. In 3rd edition, if you are charged by something that causes fear and fail your fear test (test on Cl), you flee (rout - see convoluted description above...). Even with Victoria's leadership bonus, the boys were not up to the task and fled away from the trolls as fast as they could go:

Now as best as I could make out, Dumbel Doore was not required to make a panic test for having the Halberdiers flee through him - this phase. In the beginning of his movement phase (remember, the Halberdiers are fleeing as a result of a move in the Goblin movement phase), he will be required to take a panic test for being within 4" of a fleeing unit. Seeing as we're here now, I'll just tell you: he passed.

Units which fail to connect in a charge become unformed. This is really important to remember, because its an extra incentive to make sure you really think you're going to connect. An unformed unit must spend its next movement phase reforming, so if you do happen to miss a charge you might find yourself reforming in front of other enemy units who can charge you. An unformed unit which is charged, beaten and pushed back in combat is automatically routed, so be careful with your charges. Astute tacticians take note - fleeing is a real tactical option in WFB3. 

The trolls have become unformed as a result of the failed charge.

The rest of the movement phase is uneventful. The Stickas move off the hill in order to give Grommbo a means of returning over the hill to the road in future turns. I know he's facing the hedge, but I didn't think he could cross the hedge with the chariot, so I planned his return to the road in about three turns time.

The view down the road:

In the movement phase of the defenders, the halberdiers continued fleeing (a big change between WFB3 and later editions is that the rally phase is the last phase of the turn, not the first or second. This means that fleeing units get the maximum opportunity to screw up your lines and cause havoc!) 

So, they move a further rout move (in their movement phase) before getting the opportunity at the end of the turn to rally. As mentioned earlier, Dumbel Doore would have needed to take a panic test (which he passed) at the start of the movement phase.

The dwarf wizard, faced with the thought of dealing with the trolls by himself (hardly a growth opportunity) elects to cast Rally on the Halberdiers, causing them to automatically rally in their rally phase (just after the magic phase):

Unfortunately, they're now on the wrong side of the village...

Battle Navigator
Forces Involved
Deployment and Turn 1
Turns 2 & 3 (you are here)
Turns 4 & 5
Turns 6 & 7