Skull Island Campaign

Skull Island

Prince Andris Deftblade – Lord of the Alzuri Heights, Keeper of the Sacred Chalice, Protector of the Shrine of Alfeyri Nubaris is bored!  The young Princeling (a mere 250 years old!) has not left the confines of his little part of Ulthuan, a small principality on the borders of Chrace and Cothique, nestled in the foothills of the Annuril mountains, a spur of the more dominating Annuliii for far too long.  His lifelong friend Webril Feylight, a talented Mage and keen collector of Magical artefacts has persuaded Andris (with very little effort!) to mount an expedition to the New world in search of Lustrian treasure.  A recently discovered map charting the location of a mysterious island has come into his possession and he’s eager to start out.  This is their story…….

From the bridge of the Elven Dragonship “Starblade” Prince Andris Deftblade watched the twin prow of the ancient war vessel part the waves like it’s namesake parted the ribs of a wretched Dark Elf.  It was at once graceful as it was deadly, the Dragonbladed starwood cutting the water with ease.  Looking port to starboard the rest of the Elven fleet stirred his young (by elven standards) heart.  Towering Eagle Ships glinted in the bright sun, their proud pennants fluttering in the crisp breeze.  Nimble Hawkships darted ahead of the larger vessels, scouting the ocean for sign of enemy ships.  He felt truly alive!  After weeks of preparation, he had managed to raise a considerable expedition force, Ranks of spearmen and archers had been raised from the local citizenry in response to their lords call, sturdy Seaguard and wild Ellyrian Reavers had flocked to Alzuri, his promises and bribes had seriously depleted his treasury but he hoped it would be refilled tenfold with Lustrian gold!  Gathering his personal bodyguard and saddling his faithful Griffon Razorbeak, Andris set out for Skull Island (as he had dubbed it, looking vaguely like a human skull as it did). Soon he would make landfall and…….

“Ship hoy!” came the call from the viewing platform some 15feet above the tower.

“Three points starboard and closing”

Grabbing a glass from his pouches he trained it in the direction the lookout had indicated.  Immediately the ugly, blocky shapes of an Imperial fleet jumped into view.

“Humans” Andris muttered under his breath.  “How delightfully droll”

Turning to his officers with the inhuman speed of his race he snapped out his orders.
“Signal the fleet, formation “Lightbreaker”, unsheathe the Dragonblades and sing the battle anthems! We sail to war!”

Battle 1 - Background

Having come within sight of Skull Island the Elven fleet spots human ships on the horizon apparently heading for the same point.  Prince Andris not being big on sharing decides to engage the primitive apes at sea before they land on the beaches, driving them away from the treasure and convincing them to go after easier plunder.  If the humans manage to land troops on the beaches he would have a horrendous task to dig them out again.

Battle 1 – Objectives

Both sides are heading for the same point to plunder the lost treasures of Skull Island, the Elves from the west and the Humans from the east.  There is a shore with a natural harbour between the two fleets that provides an easy landing point for the ocean going vessels.  The battle should be fought as a standard engagement using the Man’O War rules.  The rules for setting up terrain should be as usual with the exception that the coastline terrain piece should be placed along the north table edge to indicate the landing point.  Both fleets then set up as normal except that no ship can deploy closer to the northern edge than 24 inches.

The engagement should be fought as normal with the additional rules/objectives below:

Each ship in the fleet receives one extra crew counter to reflect the additional soldiers on board. 

If a fleet manages to land a ship on the northern coastal terrain piece they may choose to transfer troops onto the Island.  This can be done in two ways either by long boats launched from the ship or by running the ship aground and the troops jumping directly into the surf.  Both options have disadvantages and advantages to the other.

1.     Long boats – The ship must stay within 1” of the terrain and will be inactive until the following turn, this means it cannot shoot or initiate combat with another ship in that turn.  During that turn it can choose to land a single crew counter of whatever type it has on that ship (barring Wizard or Admiral counters) on the beach.  Roll a D6, if the result is a 1 the crew counter has been lost in the surf and drowned, on a 2+ the crew counter has beached safely and plays no further role in this game (although it has a big effect on the next one!) The ship can then move away as normal in the following turn or remain and attempt to transfer another counter.  If the ship is boarded in the midst of this process it fights the boarding action as normal but deducts 1 from its crew compliment as they are on the long boats and cannot participate.

2.     Running aground – If the player wishes to run the ship aground it must firstly make a below the waterline save as normal using the rules in the Man’O War book.  During the time it is run aground the owning player can transfer as many crew counters as he wishes (barring the Wizard and Admiral counters) to the terrain piece.  Roll a D6 for each counter transferred on a 1 the counter is lost to the surf and drowned, on a 2+ the counter takes no further part in the battle but adds its value to the following game as shown below.  If the ship has crew counters left on board at the end of the turn it may attempt to move off in the next turn as normal following the run aground rules in the Man’O War rules.

At the end of the game count up the battle honours for each fleet as normal.  The amount of battle honours each player has will represent the amount of points their army can choose in the following battle using the attached chart.  In addition for each crew counter landed on the beaches successfully they can add a further 100 points on troops to that army!

Losing the admiral or wizard counters in the game will affect the amount you can spend on Lords allocation in the army lists.  If the Admiral is killed then deduct 150 points from your army selection.  If your wizard dies deduct a further 150 points from your army selection both point deductions are cumulative.

Battle Honours
Points allowed
01 – 16
17 – 25
26 – 40

Battle 1 – The Fight!

Prince Andris swept the seascape with a critical eye, checking that his formations were tight and according to his orders. The Eagleships “Isha’s Promise” and “Isha’s Dream” were most northerly and tasked with landing his household troops and marines onto the Island to establish a beachhead and prevent the humans from digging in, they were screened by a squadron of Hawkships tasked with disrupting the approach of the blocky Imperial Galleys.  “Isha’s Grace” his remaining Eagleship held the centre with his second Hawkship squadron running interference and providing support to both “Isha’s Grace” and his own ship “Starblade” which anchored the line at the most southerly tip of the formation. 

Good - everything was in place.  Putting his glass to his eye he studied the ungainly movements of the human vessels as they jockeyed into their own positions.  There were three squadrons of smaller ships, racing under oar and sail like a pack of hounds on the hunt arrayed across from his own glorious craft to the south of the island.  More northerly, holding the centre ground (or waves…) was the blocky shape of a massive Great Ship, a huge floating gun platform filled with bloodthirsty primitives.  Facing off against his graceful Eagles to the very north and poised to block the rocky straits protecting the natural harbour were some very dangerous looking Wolfships, bristling with fore cannons.  It looked to Andris like a bloody battle was about to begin.

With a wave to his signalling officers clustered on the bridge around him he ordered the “Promise” and “Dream to head up to the straits, noting in passing that the Wolfships moved to match.  Across the water War galleys surged forward toward the Elves and Andris made the appropriate adjustments to his battle lines.  Hawkships leapt forward and began the cat and mouse tactical game that they excelled at, loosing the deadly bolts from their twin Eagle Claws before turning tightly about and racing from the enemy.  Nodding at Starblade’s captain, the mighty warship headed out to cut south of a small island chain so as to begin the stalk against the Imperial ships in his quadrant.  The Great ship across the way started out toward the south to try to deal with the elvish threat.

A huge crashing wave of sound erupted from the mannish battle lines as the mass of cannons from the Wolfships spat a volley at the elvish Eagles momentarily obscuring the three masted monstrosities from Andris’s gaze with billowing smoke.  Seconds later came the awful sounds as heavy lead shot tore through starwood hull and masts, tossing Cothiquan Sea Elves aside like rag dolls.  Andris winced as ugly smoke scarred holes were punched through the graceful line of “Isha’s Promise”.  Andris wondered why there was no reply from the elvish gunners manning the huge bolt throwers that were slung along the broadside ports of the “Promise” only to realise that the Imperial cannons had destroyed the ports almost completely.  The captain of the “Promise” disengaged quickly and sprinted off toward the Island determined to disgorge his cargo of precious elvish soldiers.  This effort was sadly hampered by the strong southerly winds that forced him to tack port and starboard in order to make any headway, the natural speed advantage of the elvish ships negated by the steely arms of the apes powering the long oars he could see on either side of the Wolfships.  Andris called to his mages to contact the “Dream” and offer their support to her sister ship.  The mage’s eyes burned with unnatural faerie fire and she began muttering the words to a cantrip, seconds later the “Dream” unleashed an enormous volley of ensorcelled bolts at the lead Imperial vessel, this was followed up by a huge fireball that leapt from the staff of Andris’s lifelong friend Webril Feylight from the deck of “Starblade” and lit up the Wolfship’s forecastle.

Magic flashed back and forth turning the gathering dusk back to day with its intense wytchlight.  Fires started on Imperial ships, Starblade was briefly trapped in a swirling fog until Webril and her peers could chant the appropriate dispel.  Humans gasped out their final breaths as spectral hands choked the life from them.  All in all it looked like the elvish High Magic was easily outmatching it’s more pedestrian human counterpart.  This was being countered however by hard steel from the Imperial cannons cunningly crafted in the forges of the accursed engineering college in Nuln.

In the south, “Starblade” prowled the island chain searching for prey and came across a squadron of war galleys.  With a crunch the twin dragonblades tore through the hulls of the first weak human vessel before embedding deeply into the second ship, instantly stout marines leapt onto the deck of the stricken craft and slaughtered the men that cowered behind the rigging before knocking holes in the bilges and leaping gracefully back to “Starblade”.  Instantly the Imperial ship began to list and slid beneath the waves allowing the “Starblade” to get underway and tear through the last of the mannish boats.

Back at Skull Island, the “Promise” disgorged its marine compliment and some of Andris’s household troops onto the beaches minutes before the lead Wolfship crashed onto the sands and landed its own filthy payload of human soldiers.  One of the wolfship squadron succumbed to elvish sorcery that rotted the timbers from the hull and sank with all hands in the lagoon surrounding the beach.  This was followed by the “Dream” arriving in the bay and transferring her crew via longboat to shore.

Andris paced the deck of his Dragonship, darkness was falling and it was obvious that the fight with the humans was going to be a lot more difficult and intense than he had first imagined.  In the growing gloom he could make out only three of his precious Hawkships were still afloat and there seemed to be significant damage to his Eagles as well as some small damage to the “Starblade” itself.  The humans had lost three of his war galleys and a wolfship.  “Starblade” was too far away to make landfall now and with the apes lurking it would be dangerous to continue pressing on with the unloading under the threat of Imperial cannons.  Turning to his officers he motioned to disengage, noticing that the humans seemed to be doing the same. 

“Sound the withdrawal we will find another way to make landing, I will not be denied my treasure by primitives!”  

Pointing to the mage Webril he continued.

“My dear friend, transport yourself to the troops already landed and make all haste to the alternate muster point”

With a word she disappeared from view, in her place a tiny faerie shot across the bay toward the surf where the Elves were already moving out.

“Well, well my human nemesis, the game is truly afoot and the winner takes all…..”

Battle 1 – conclusion

All right we’ll call it a draw! It was in fact a draw with both sides scoring 10 or less battle honours and both sides landing troops on the beaches.  In the end the scores were.

Humans – 6 Battle honours, 5 crew landed

Next battle the Empire will have 1000 points of troops.

Elves – 10 Battle honours, 3 crew landed

Next battle the High Elves will have 800 points of troops.

We will fight them on the beaches….

Aolex Crystalgaze flinched as another lead slug from the human’s crude black powder weapons crashed into his shimmering shield.  Another few volleys from the small detachment of Imperial soldiers across the beach and the shield would collapse and the small cluster of elves that were making the landing in the soft surf of Skull Island’s bay would be vulnerable.  The landing had been forced when the Eagleship “Isha’s Promise” had run aground amidst a cloud of cannon fire from the ugly human vessels.  Even as he watched the “Promise” was lifting away from him on the rising tide and pulling away to rejoin the rest of the fleet.  So far there were too few elves and far too many humans here on the beaches for Aolex’s comfort and he was desperate to see reinforcements from the other Eagles and particularly the huge Dragonship “Starblade”.  It was with a certain amount of horror then when he saw the other ships withdrawing under pressure from the Imperials!  Where were they going?  They would never abandon fellow Asuryan to the mercy of the primitives! 

Ordering his bodyguard to return fire, he whirled toward the Reavers that were just now saddling their fine elven steeds. 

“Harbinger, I need a disposition report right away if you please, let us see the strength that this rabble can muster”

Looking around for his second, his eye caught the blue glow of a tiny sprite hurtling toward him.  Ahh he thought and a smile found its way across his thin elven features; thank the Gods - powerful reinforcements were on the way.  In a flash of faerie light the sprite grew, rapidly assuming the form of a very welcome sight indeed.

“Mistress Feylight, your presence is most welcome.  With your permission we will engage the apes with all haste and drive them from the sands”

 Battle 2 – Background

Both elven and human forces have managed to land troops on the beaches of Skull Island.  A small force of elves face a greater number of humans on the edges of the woods bordering the dunes and both sides need to establish a beach head to facilitate future landings. 

Battle 2 – Objectives

The battle will be a standard engagement fought over 5 turns. 

To the south is the surf and counts as an impassable table edge, troops cannot flee via the southern table edge.  To the north is a wood marking the border.  The rest of the terrain can be placed by both players as per the standard rules.  Both players roll off to determine deployment zones etc as normal.

The winner of the battle, determined by battle honours in the usual way has managed to establish a beachhead which will determine who becomes the attacker/defender in the next game.

Aolex Stargaze scanned the path leading up from the beaches nervously; already the humans had dismounted and dragged two enormous cannons from the blocky ship grounded on the sands all under guard from a huge unit of 40 halberdiers and a marginally smaller unit of 20 spears.  The detachment of hand gunners were laying down suppressive fire while the rest of the army jockeyed into a battle formation across from the small elven force.  A massive warhorse covered in heavy armour plate stamped and snorted as a burly primitive with a huge warhammer mounted up and began bellowing orders.  Aolex’s mage sight flickered as a sinister looking human (of course all humans seemed sinister but this one was even more so…) strode over to the spears and joined their ranks.  Shadows pooled around the human and power gathered around his gaunt frame indicating that this one was a human to be wary of, the childlike abilities of the man-wizards were something to keep an eye on, all magic had to be respected even when wielded by inferior practitioners.

Opposing this invasion were the brave Asur that had managed to disembark from the now departed Eagleship “Isha’s Promise”.  A small squad of Ellyrian Reaver knights whispered to their mounts and checked their bowstrings whilst keeping an eye on the unit of human spearmen deploying beachside (south) of the battlefield and the great cannon that they protected.  Mistress Feylight, who had assumed command of the small band, had joined a unit of 20 spearmen to add her considerable magical repertoire to their combat strength; they were deploying opposite the larger human halberdier unit and would need the reinforcement.  Aolex himself had joined the smaller unit of Archers holding the centre ground, to lend his arcane might.  It looked like the humans would outnumber the elves two to one and although individually a human was vastly inferior in everyway the vagaries of war and the number advantage of the primitives hung the outcome of the coming fight in the balance.

Looking south Aolex could see the Reaver knights race away along the beach with the intent of peppering the humans before they fully deployed.  It looked to Aolex that the young horsemen would draw first blood as they drew back their recurves and fired a quick volley at the southerly most cannon emplacement.  However the humans crewing the monstrous weapon ducked behind its sturdy frame and the arrows thudded into the wood.  Not to be outdone Aolex and the young (by elven standard!) archers trotted toward the low stone wall directly in front of them and unleashed an arrow storm of their own at the northerly cannon emplacement with markedly better result turning two of the crew into pin cushions.  A pulling of power on the winds of magic from mistress Feylight saw her gathering amber streams of energy too form a blinding yellow spear.  With amazing accuracy Webril flung the bolt at the oncoming Imperials skewering 4 hapless halberdiers like a grotesque spit roast before erupting in a shower of gore from the rear of the unit.  Roaring with triumph mistress Feylight started to chant the ritual words for the Transformation of Kadon in order to assume her favourite fighting form – the horned Dragon, however the fickle winds dropped and she was unable to gather enough power to fuel it.  Thinking to deny the human wizard Aolex attempted to drain further the winds of magic but the complex protocols were disrupted by gunfire and the cantrip slipped from his grasp.

A shouted order from the big one eyed human leading the enemy spears got them moving toward Bartila’s Dawn Patrol at a fast clip, as Aolex watched the ungainly humans marching toward the Reavers he could see dark streamers of power flowing in and around the enemy wizard, from his vantage point he could tell that the manling was pulling in too much dark magic as it swirled in huge billows around him.  There was no way in the heavens that Aolex or indeed Mistress Feylight could affect a dispel as the amount of power being summoned would cause an enormous backlash of energy that could be disastrous.  Indeed it seemed it would overwhelm the human as he shouted the words to the Doom and Darkness spell in desperation, trying to harness the power before it burned out his primitive monkey brain.  With a very visible struggle the spell was completed and much to Aolex’s surprise and subsequent horror streams of dark death magic pored over the young horsemen, bombarding them with images of their demise and shaking them to the very core.  The expected backlash of magic ended in a large, loud clap of noise and very little else as with a shake of his bearded head the human shrugged it off – astonishing!  The hand gunners raced into the shabby wooden fencing directly opposite and began loading their black powder weapons, ready to begin a hail of withering lead at the elves.  Not to be outdone in the noise department the two cannons added their bangs to the cacophony, the northern gun literally as the newly founded cannon blew apart in a massive explosion killing its crew and scattering itself over a wide area.  The southern cannon buried its shot at the feet of the elven spears in a spray of torn earth. 

Still reeling from the images caused by the Doom and Darkness, the Dawn Patrol reformed and withdrew from the advancing humans.  Webril and the spears advanced to the lee of a large rock formation and dug in.  Drawing on his strength Aolex attempted to direct the winds of magic but the fickle power slipped through even his practiced grasp, looking over to mistress Feylight he could tell that she was experiencing the same difficulty.  In exasperation he commanded the archers to loose a volley at the halberdiers and was gratified to see two of their number stagger and fall into the sands.

The halberdiers raced up the centre ground and with the spear armed humans headed toward Webril and the elvish spears behind the rocks.  Aolex could once again feel the build up of shadow gathering around the human wizard as he drew in more power.  This time the eddying winds were far more manageable and suddenly Aolex felt a draw upon his soul as if it was being pulled from his body, it was only a gentle tug as it looked like the main target was the poor retreating Reavers, however they seemed to shrug off the effects of whatever cantrip the human had directed their way and were unaffected, although the phantasms from the Doom spell still pursued them as they trotted away.  In frustration the wizard glared at the elvish spears and Mistress Webril and once again shouted the words to Doom and Darkness, with horror Aolex watched as the spell engulfed his kin and covered them in inky black spectral fog.  A loud bark from the remaining cannon was the only warning the poor embattled spear unit had before a cannonball ripped across them, slaying two.  Smaller barks directly in front of him reminded Aolex that the hand gunners were still out there but safely behind the stone wall he was protected and the lead slugs ricochet off of the thick stone.

The Dawn Patrol having gained some distance turned and fired at the pursuing mannish spears killing one of the foemen.  Aolex gathered his might and tapped the billowing winds of magic drawing on the wider spectrum of power that fuelled the higher aspects of his sorcery.  Accessing the fiery runes that swirled around his mage-sight he gasped the words for the Flames of the Phoenix pointing his Starwood Staff at the approaching halberdiers he spat the final phrases of the spell.  Power arced from the end of the magical wood and faerie flames bloomed across the humans, slaying 16 of the brutish warriors.  Panting with exhaustion Aolex directed the archers to once again unleash a volley at the panicking Imperials killing a further three.

After such a slaughter the sarjent of the halberdiers could not quickly reform his men and they refused to move forward as he bullied and cajoled them back into ranks.  The detachment of hand gunners moved forward to try and bring their weapons to bear.  On the southern flank the spear armed men crashed into the flanks of the elvish spears, the wizard attached to them bowled along in their wake and could not concentrate enough to gather any of the shadows pooling around their booted feet.  The mannish general bellowed a war cry and left the ranks of the spears to smash into the Reaver knights with all the weight of his barded warhorse, swinging his enormous hammer he pulped one and scattered the poor elvish horsemen to the four winds their morale severely crushed from the magical and physical assault.  Aolex could only watch from the ranks of the archers as the human spearmen thrust with their shabby weapons and pierced many of the Asur, despite the elves killing two of the foemen before the humans even reached them Aolex could see that the darkness gathering around the beleaguered elves sapping their usually stalwart courage causing to first waver and then break.  Phantasms whipped at their legs tripping and slowing the elves allowing the primitives to catch and then slaughter his kin!  Aolex raised a hand and babbled a cantrip, mangling the phrasing in his panic for his mistress as she looked to be overwhelmed, the fickle winds thinned to wisps in his grasp as he failed to master his fear.  Before he could restate the spell, a blue faerie darted from between two huge men and sped off toward the tree line.  Aolex breathed a sigh of relief mingled with the grief for the loss of so many precious brothers; the cost of her escape was a high one.  

Aolex called for a retreat toward the wood before heading off himself, if the elves could reach the tangled cover of the trees it would severely hamper the human with the enormous hammer’s attempts to pulp his kin.  Wesilli the Hawkeye leading the unit signalled that he would cover the retreat and the archers readied their weapons and prepared to fire at the advancing hand gunners.  Seeing their intention he scanned his mind for an appropriate spell and focusing his power he cast Curse of Arrow Attraction on the gunners.  With glee he saw that his previous Flames of the Phoenix spell on the halberdier unit take deeper root and burn a half score of the human scum to cinders causing the remainder to run futilely back toward their lines.  “Probably to jump in the latrines in effort to extinguish the magical conflagration” he snorted.  Inspired by this turn he recast the spell at the approaching hand gunners, the difficult cantrip tripping from his tongue with ease.  Again faerie fire covered human flesh and the smell caused Aolex’s nose to wrinkle in distaste as 5 of the apes were reduced to charred husks, much to his surprise however the remaining men were undaunted at the loss of their colleagues and carried on reloading their black powder weapons.  However this stubbornness was rewarded by a host of arrows from the archers which, thanks to his spell thunked eerily into manling flesh wiping them out completely.
With a guttural cry the mounted human crashed into the ranks of archers, the last volley that had wiped out the hand gunners having delayed them for just a bit too long.  In the distance Aolex could see the human spears clambering over the rocky formation that his kin had so recently occupied and march toward him.  Once again the human wizard drew dark shadows around him from the winds and directed doom and darkness on the beleaguered archers surrounding them with visions of their oncoming death at the hands of the burly warrior amidst their ranks.  Once again Aolex was powerless to stop the power; curiously the human seemed to possess power far beyond what his inferior race should be capable of.  There was something that kept flickering in and out of Aolex’s mage sight, a deeper darkness, a silhouette of a more sinister shape that did not belong to that of the manling.  Was he possessed by a daemon?  Was that the source of his unease?  Aolex filed that away for later contemplation, that was if he could extricate himself and his fellow asur from this fight…  His train of thought was further derailed when a large cannonball buried itself a mere yard from him in a spray of torn earth.

A roar from the swirling maelstrom of combat nearby dragged him back from staring at the gouged trough caused by the iron ball as the elves sought to penetrate the thick armour surrounding both man and horse.  With the feline grace typical of his kind an archer sprang lightly onto the back of the snorting warhorse and plunged his blade deep into the human’s tasset protecting his left leg causing bright arterial blood to spray over the dazzling armour piece.  However this grievous wound seemed to hardly faze the grizzled warrior as he drove the heavy head of the warhammer through the chest of an elf to his fore.  This remarkable and frankly frightening ferocity combined with the power of the wizards spell caused the archers to waver and then break.  The fleet foot of the elves fast outpacing the encumbered warhorse. 

Aolex, spurred by the sight of the fleeing archers and the sight of the reloading cannon crew, swiftly reached the tree line and mentally scanned his magical repertoire, with quick cutting motions he chopped at the skeins of shadow that assailed the archers, disrupting the doom and darkness spell.  He concentrated harder and tried to drain off the magic to a trickle but the winds gusted strongly and would not be constrained.  His attempts were cut short when the Imperial general turned his blowing horse toward him and attempted to run him down.  However the horse was clearly winded and stopped just short of the woods.  Once more the cannon boomed out but the growing dusk had caused them to misjudge the angle and once again the ball thudded straight into the ground.  With the gloom deepening the archers faded into the woods and disappeared, Aolex realised the dunes had been lost with no chance of recovery.  Of course the large ape descending on his position added a certain urgency to his spell casting as he enacted his own escape cantrip and sped off into the forests.

Battle 2 – Conclusion

Empire - 587 VP                 High Elf - 475VP

Well this one was a victory for Rich’s Imperials, with only my Mage left at the end of turn 5 facing a unit of spearmen, wizard and general!  I just didn’t have the tools for the job in hand.  I had tried to out magic my opponent and surprisingly for High Elves didn’t achieve that, although the Flames of the Phoenix were awesome against the T3 humans.  My support troops kept on getting Doom and Darkness cast on them and could not stand in combat against Rich’s flank attacks.  I was far too static in the game relying on obstacles to slow the advance and break up charges.  This just doesn’t happen in 8th edition which is a lot faster than previous incarnations, something I’m yet to adapt to.  I also didn’t take anything that could deal with heavily armoured heroes.  I was hoping my mage would successfully cast Transformation of Kadon so that I could muller his general with my dragon! This didn’t happen and I paid for it as my power mage ended up killing a mere handful of halberdiers where as my defensive mage massacred two units of troops!  I was at a 200 point disadvantage which certainly didn’t help that would have meant that I could have taken either a unit of swordmasters or maybe some artillery of my own.   

I’m still not sure how I’m gonna use these HE yet but with some little skirmishes and a large 2000 pointer to come I’m sure I’m gonna find out! 

Gunter Puddlestom wiped the sweat from under the rim of his steel pot helm with his free hand, his other clutching the long stock of his musket and trying not to drop it on his foot.  Sarjent Graves was murder on any soldier who didn’t look after his kit and Gunter was already on a charge for allowing a sweat stain to blossom on his tunic.  “As if I’ve got a choice in this blasted heat!” he thought to himself.  His unit had been assigned to this gods awful expedition to this cursed island and he wasn’t enjoying the temperature even in the shade of this wood.  These musings bought him back to his current assignment.  As punishment for fleeing the field in their encounter with the pointy eared bastard elves, the halberdier unit his detachment was part of had been given escort duty for the armies baggage train and now he found himself marching down this trail under the watchful gaze of the Sarge with nothing but the delightful scenery of endless trees of the horse’s ars…

The sharp cry from a seabird cut across the trail and snapped Gunter from his musing.  The gulls mate trilled back in a flurry of notes.  Probably getting grief from his lady friend he snorted, funny though, he thought bit far from the beach for the quarrelling gulls, still there was good eating on those big buggers and he wondered if he could bag one to add to the plain barley they were hauling for the army…

From the tree line almond shaped eyes followed the progress of the humans as they crashed up the trail.  The apes were so noisy it had been simplicity itself for the elves to locate the wagons transporting the precious foodstuffs.  For the past week since the battle of the dunes the elves had scavenged for scraps of food as the noise of the witless manlings had scared off the local wildlife in droves.  They had begun to march to the secondary staging area but were finding it difficult to slip passed the multitudes of Imperial patrols.  With no food and very few arrows for their bows it was imperative that they ambushed the wagon currently transporting supplies between various human camps.  Sea-master Frankiadra of the Cothiquean Seaguard drew back on his bow and sighted down the shaft of the gull fletched arrow at the lead spear armed human, his would be the signal to begin the ambush…

Battle 3 – Background

Following from the battle in the dunes, the defeated troopers have had to withdraw into the surrounding jungles and head toward the secondary landing point.  Due to their hasty forced landing and the subsequent fighting they are in short supply of food and ammunition with no possibility of re-supply until they can link up with the main army.  With the thought of days of depravation over a long trek and the fear of running out of ammunition in the unknown jungles they have decided to raid the baggage trains of the enemy in an effort to gain much needed vitals for the trek.

Battle 3 – Objectives

Faced with starvation and the unknown dangers of the jungles of Skull Island they need to raid the baggage trains of the enemy in order to reach the secondary landing point. 

The battle will be fought as an ambush scenario.  There is no turn limit and the fight is to the last man standing or till the last man of one side has fled the battlefield. 

The defending force consists of baggage guards to the total of 250 points of troops taken from the Core Units section of the relevant army book and must be led by a Core unit champion upgrade, who must remain within 6” of the baggage wagon, the champion will have an additional +1 Ld for the duration of this battle to represent the command burden and his Ld can be used for any test required by his force if they are within 12” of the baggage wagon.  The defenders are well fed and well armed.  Any troopers armed with a ranged weapon will have all the ammunition that they require and will not need to make an ammo test during the game.  The minimum unit size is reduced to 5+ for this game only.

The attacking force consists of raiders to the total of 250 points of troops taken from the Core Units section of the relevant army book and must be led by a Core unit champion upgrade, they cannot take either standard bearers or musicians.  All troopers are well motivated if not well equipped and therefore are treated as stubborn for the duration of the battle.  Due to the limited ammunition available to them, all troops armed with a ranged weapon who roll a 1 on the “to hit” roll  will exhaust their ammo supply and will thereafter be unable to fire, change the model to a close combat model if possible or place a marker by it to represent this.  Also the lack of clean water and food will take its toll the longer the fight goes on.  For the first 3 turns there is no effect from the fatigue, however from turn 4 each model from the attacking side must take an Ld test or pass out (treat as a casualty and remove from the game). The minimum unit size is reduced to 5+ for this game only.

The battlefield will be represented by a 4’ x 4’ area and bordered on two sides by woods leaving a strip of open ground 18” wide across representing the pathways leading through the jungle.  The defending player must place the baggage wagon in the middle of the battlefield and all of his troops must be placed within 10” of the wagon.  He must divide his force and place half in front and half behind and is allowed to place the Champion model anywhere within 6” of it.  The attacking player must divide his force and place half on one side of the board and the other half on the other side, his champion may be placed in either half.  All models are treated as skirmishers as per the main rules. 

The winner of this game is the defender in the next scenario

Gunter’s eyes widened at the sight of the fletched shaft buried deep in Harald’s open mouth, he had known the burly spearman for 5 years and had joined up to the Irregulars with him.  Three more soldiers sprouted arrows from their chests and faces and fell to the dusty ground.  To either side of the track elves had appeared as if by magic.  Gaunt and dirty (by elven standards at least) they none the less clutched powerful bows and sharp spears.  Sarjent Graves’ bellow snapped him into action and Gunter along with the other nine gunners in his unit took aim at the small group of five elven archers along the western edge of the trail however in their haste the volley proved to be ineffective.  The halberdiers, 20 strong readied their weapons and faced a large group of spear/bow armed elves on the eastern side and the 16 remaining spearmen did the same. 

Once again the elven archers drew back their bows and released their deadly shafts skewering two more of the spearmen.  A smaller unit of the elven marines emerged from the western tree line and also lined up their bows against the spearmen but due to the obvious lack of ammunition that these bedraggled elves were suffering the expected hail did not occur and none of the soldiers fell.  However this was not the case from the larger marine unit and they slew four of the poor embattled Imperials.  Gunter could see that Section Leader Helmut was struggling to keep order in the ranks as their comrades were falling all around them, he began to cajole them into a shambling run in a desperate attempt to engage the accursed pointy ears.  With a yell they piled forward only for three of them to fall to arrows before they could engage.  With inhuman speed the elves speared two of the men as they closed the gap for the loss of none of the devils, their fish scale armour absorbing the few feeble blows that slipped passed their guard.  Despite this the brave few that remained held firm.  The halberdiers ran forward desperately trying to reach the combat and support their beleaguered comrades.  Gunter tore his gaze from the swirling melee and sighted down the barrel of his firearm, targeting one of the lurking archers in the undergrowth.  Allowing for the smooth bore of his weapon he sighted an elf that had strayed to far into the open and aimed low, calmly he pulled the trigger and was rewarded by the sharp cry of a dying elf.  Blowing the acrid smoke from his eyes he could see that it was only his shot that had counted, the rest of his squad failing to adjust their aim in the heat of battle. 

His triumph turned into terror as, roaring their alien battle cry the small unit of spear armed elves charged toward Gunter’s squad, hurriedly he sank into the reloading rhythm that he had perfected, finding comfort in the routine and allowing him to bring his powerful weapon to bear.  Looking round it seemed that his comrades were struggling to do the same and there would be no volley that would drive the elves away before they could close.  “So be it!” he yelled in defiance and pulled the trigger lifting an elf from his feet in a gout of blood and broken armour.  Around him Lucton, Karl and Fritz were pierced by the long spears of the enemy.  This ferocity convinced the rest of the squad to turn on their heels and flee.  Gunter realising that he would be left alone to fight of the devils reluctantly followed them.  Looking around him Gunter felt despair grip him.  The battle between the elven marines and the Imperial spears was going badly with two more of his fellow humans falling to the ground transfixed by elven weapons, again the blows of the human weapons glancing from elven armour.  However the stubborn humans refused to budge and the combat swirled on.  Sarjent Graves hollered insults and threats to try and encourage his troops, this yelling however caused the elvish archers to target him and a hail of shafts reduced him to a pincushion.  “Enough!!” shouted Gunter and wheeled around grabbing Franz and Hans as he did.  “We stand here” he bellowed and began to frantically load his gun.  Slowly, Franz and Hans and then gradually the rest of the squad also started to reload their weapons.  “Shoulder arms!” he cried in his best parade ground voice. “Fire!” came the last order.  With a thunderous roar the powerful handguns loosed a volley at the archers in the wood.  Once again the concealing undergrowth protected the elves.  With a snarl Gunter ordered the unit to reload.  With a crash the halberdier unit charged into the side of the elves that had put Gunter’s squad to flight, slaughtering two of the faeries. Pieter, a 13 year veteran was spitted by the leader of the elves in return but the weight of the charge carried the combat and the elves looked to flight. The gaunt and clearly undernourished elves though could not summon the strength to escape though and they fell to the triumphant humans.  This feat was sadly replicated by the other marine unit as it tore apart the remaining spearman on the other side of the trail.

Gunter glared across the trail at the archers they had been firing at, willing them to go away.  To his astonishment one of them toppled over without a sound!  Obviously the starving elves could not begin to cope with the rigour of combat; this theory bore out as four more sea-elves dropped soundlessly to the floor.  Clearly the remaining archers were unnerved by the collapse of their brethren and failed to sight their arrows properly, the shafts falling to the ground yards from Gunter’s position.  A yowl from the sea-elves, followed by the crunch of their charge hitting home echoed across the trail as the halberdiers desperately tried to weather the storm of spears.  Three of the humans were pierced by elvish spears and three of the accursed faeries were cleaved by the axe blades of the halberds. Two more of the hulking human soldiers fell, Stev the brawling Osterman buried the blade of his halberd deep into the forehead of an elf but even this act of awesome brutality was not enough to convince the rest of his unit to stay in the fight and they turned and ran only to be caught by the triumphant elves.  Gunter turned from the brutal spectacle in time to see Hans pluck another archer from the woods with a singular shot through it’s eye. 

Scanning the battlefield Gunter was shocked to see so few of the combatants left.  With a sigh another sea-elf dropped to the floor leaving only one of their number left standing as well as a couple of archers.  These sorry remnants charged Gunter and his squad that numbered a paltry five.  Franz picked off one of the archers before the elves drew close and cut him down with a knife thrust.  Withdrawing back ten paces the hand gunners whirled about to face the elves only for the last archer to drop exhausted to his knees.  The remaining sea-elf desperately ran at Gunter, his spear leading.  Gunter side stepped and swung his gun like a club, the heavy stock connecting solidly with the thin skull of his enemy.  Without another sound the elf tumbled lifelessly to the ground in a welter of blood and tissue.  As soon as it had begun the fight was over…..

Battle 3 – Conclusion

Yet another victory for Rich! Damn it I was close but not close enough.  I had singularly bad luck with my LD rolls when determining whether my undernourished elves would pass out but still…  I think I played the tactics right in the end by charging the remaining hand gunners, my troops were dropping like flies because of their exhaustion and I don’t think they could have stood a couple of rounds of shooting it out with the Imperials, plus ASF rule and re-rolling missed to hit rolls come on I should have rolled the poor saps….. Guess it’s back to the drawing board yet again.

Gunter Puddlestom tiredly scanned the battlefield, although that was a grandiose term for the dusty trail where the skirmish had taken place.  Leaning heavily on the barrel of his firearm he took in the many ragged forms that had once been desperate elves.  Starved of food and decidedly lacking in ammunition for the bows they all carried they had attacked the human baggage train and nigh on wiped out his squad and the larger units of halberdiers and spearmen to which he had been assigned.  It had been a close thing though, in the end the obviously malnourished elves had succumbed to fatigue and began to drop down in exhaustion – he certainly knew how that felt!  That factor alone had spared them the worst of the savagery of the elven attack and all that was left was to count the cost.  At some point during the raid the horse pulling the cart had bolted, probably when the sarje had been stuck with so many arrows that he resembled a hedgehog.  “Talking of the sarje” he muttered and walked over to the body of his former officer.  With a practiced speed he patted down the pockets of the sarje’s uniform removing some coins and a gold(ish) ring as well as cunning dagger concealed in his belt buckle, quickly looking in his mouth for any gold teeth he noticed a small pouch lying next to him.  Snatching it up he opened the clasp hoping for some little treasures to make up for all the abuse he had suffered at the hands of the stuffy ol’ bast… “Damn it!” he swore as he pushed aside the rolls of parchment in the bag.  Slowly though he realised that the papers were probably important to someone higher up the food chain than he and that he may even receive some kind of reward for their return.  Another though occurred to him and jumping to his feet he rushed over to the prone figure of the elven leader and riffled through the war gear of the fae-like being.  Jewels encrusted the armour of the elf and Gunter wasted no time in prying them off as quickly as possible however even this rich fare paled to the sight of a small leather satchel draped over one shoulder.  Looking inside Gunter saw several rolls of parchment all covered in a flowing script and several drawings of the island, as he couldn’t even read Imperial Gothic he couldn’t tell whether they were a recipe for the elves ol’ wife’s sloompie stew or the invasion plans for the entire elven nation! But he reckoned more toward the martial than the marital and he also reckoned that the big fish back at base camp would pay more than a few scrapings from this little skirmish to have a peek at them.

Calling out to his surviving squad mates he bellowed, “Alright lads, lets patch those that can be patched and move on back to camp, there’s a war don’t you know!!”

Battle 4 – Background

While rifling through the pouches of the fallen enemy commander, the victors discover a series of maps with the landing deployment and battle formation plans of the opposing army.  Realising the import of such documents they gather their remaining man, patch up those wounded who they can restore to near fighting strength and set off for their own encampment.  They must brave the picket lines and patrols of their foes and make it back to their camp in time for tea and medals all around!!

Battle 4 – Objectives

With the pouch of precious papers the victors must break through the patrols and reach safety. 

The battle is fought as a break through scenario.  There is no turn limit and the game ends when the papers have been safely carried over the northern edge of the table or the defending force are wiped out.

The defending force consists of all the survivors of the Raid scenario. In addition roll a dice for each casualty from Raid including any that fled from the battle, on the roll of a 6 the casualty can be revived or retrieved enough to take part in this battle.  The force will be led by a champion in exactly the same way as the Raid scenario, if the champion survived from Raid or was revived then he will lead the force, if he did not then a new champion will emerge from the survivors and will receive a battlefield promotion!  The experience he has gained from the battle will ensure that his profile will reflect that of a champ!  Just replace the model with a suitable replacement.  They will restock their supplies from the captured wagon so will not need to take any ammo tests and will not be subject to the starvation rule either.  Any leadership bonuses from the last scenario do not carry over to this one.  The pouch must be represented by a counter and will be carried by a trooper, if he is slain then the counter remains on the board and can be picked up by a trooper from the defenders by touching his base to the counter in his movement phase.  Anyone carrying the pouch can move and fight as normal.  No one from the patrolling side can pick up the pouches (they really don’t know what the opposition are up to but will try to kill all of the interlopers).  To further complicate matters and to keep the opposition from targeting one model to the exception of others there should be two further counters given to troopers, all three counters should be distinguishable from each other and only one can be the secret papers, this should be recorded as to which is which before the game starts.

The patrolling army must choose core units up to 250 points and be led by a unit champion precisely as detailed in the Raid scenario.  There is no ammo restriction though or any other special rules other than all units on both sides can be treated as skirmishers.  To win the game they must kill all of the opposing side and prevent the escape of the courier.  Stop that pigeon!!

The battle will be played on the standard battlefield 6’ x 4’ but should be played along the long edge instead of the more traditional short edge.  The patrols may be placed anywhere but must be at least 24” from the table edge that pigeons enter from and must all be deployed first.  The pigeons must be placed on the table edge and move onto the board from one of the short edges in turn one and move first.  They must exit the board from the opposite short edge with the courier to win.

The winner of this game may deploy all of his troops after his opponent has fully deployed his and add +1 to the initiative roll for first turn.

Raising his head slowly over the shrubs that he currently crouched behind Gunter Puddlestom quickly scanned the meadow, ahead was an old abandoned watchtower and scattered trees and hedgerows.  Sweat trickled down his face, apprehension more likely the cause than the heat.  So far he and his group of survivors from the failed raid by the desperate elvish warband had dodged the enemy’s patrols in an effort to take the valuable papers to the Lord General and get to safety.  It had been a painstakingly long time to get to this point though and he feared he may have gotten turned around a few times as the patrols were getting more numerous not less.  Glancing around at his too few men scattered in the various cover populating this area he began to get the sinking feeling that the papers were going to fall into Faerie hands.  Quickly he made a decision and called Fredrick, one of the other hand-gunners over. “Freddie my lad, pass over Mr Bobbins for me” indicating the gunner’s pet monkey and unit mascot.  Draping the pouch over Mr Bobbins shoulder he patted his shoulder and the monkey scampered up to find a safe perch on Gunter’s broad neck.  “Right then, right then let’s go lads”……

As soon as the Imperials broke cover Gunther realised his mistake, he had thought that the nearest patrol was slightly east and behind them but ahead stood a reinforced band of at least 20 of the elves.  Long spears with razor sharp points and glittering armour flashed in the midday sun.  How had he missed them?  Then they moved forward, silently with a feline like grace that no human could possibly match and he realised then that he had been herded.  The elves had known they were there and had deliberately crashed and blundered their way through the undergrowth to drive them into the arms of the comrades.  Looking left he saw half a score of burly halberdiers, to his right the same carrying deadly spears and he with his remaining four gunners held the centre, all of them veterans of the previous clashes with these pointy eared pansies.  “Right” he snarled “let’s sort these bastards out, and then it’ll be back in time for tea!”

The hiss of arrows in flight was the only sound the elves made as they let fly a volley at the men, Frederick was the first to be transfixed by the beautifully crafted shafts as they slammed into his chest.  Cries from the right signalled two of the spearmen had also fallen to the barrage.  There was not much more to do but press on, Gunther didn’t stop to try and engage the elves in a firefight, not with the hunters closing in from behind.  All three groups of men ran on toward the distant tree line.  Once again the elven bows drew back and let fly a deadly swarm of shafts,   Gunther followed the flight of the arrows in morbid fascination as they cut down the Balti brothers, the jovial halberdiers who had joked and fought together for the last five years in the Irregulars, no more would they bring cheer to long marches and lonely camp fires. 

“Halberds and Spears, form up – combat order” he managed to bellow as the hand to hand units bore down on the elven position, “Halbs to protect gunner flanks, Spears to present front and centre, move!!”  On his commands the halberdiers marched into a fighting formation, tight and strong tempting the elves to cease firing and engage them.  The spearmen moved forward to fight the elven commander and his bodyguard.  Gunther ran on trying to close the distance between him and the safety of the dense woods.  The elves unable to ignore the halberdiers charged from the scrub they were firing behind and crashed into the humans skewering one before they could even brace for contact.  A wild swing from Franz caught an elf in the ribs and damn near sliced him in half.  Both sides swayed but held fast and the combat whirled on.  The spearmen seeing the fight ahead pressed on a bit too far in their efforts to reach the commander and presented an unguarded flank to a group of elves lurking further down the battle line.  With an inhuman war cry they pounced and tore apart the hapless spears, the elvish bodyguard crashed into their front line a split second after and between the two units they slaughtered the Imperials.  Further forward he could see a small squad of archers in skirmish formation scamper over trying to close with Gunther and his mates.  With this threat looming he put his head down and carried on running, the sound of the booted feet of his brothers in arms clattering around him, a few derisory arrows landed short of them, fired hastily by the skirmishing elves. However a second volley fell among his unit, the deadly shafts piercing his fellow gunners until only he was left standing.  Transfixed by this slaughter he could only stand and watch the final few moments of the deadly encounter. 

The raging battle between the halberdiers and sea elf marines seesawed as first a man fell heart split in two by a shining spear and then an elf was struck down.  Another of the hulking halberdiers was spit by white ash, followed by a flurry of axe heads and two more elves fell leaving a single survivor who promptly turned tail and fled with that lightning fluidic speed easily outpacing the puffing humans.  The pursuit of the elf left them dangerously exposed though and the faerie captain and his bodyguard piled into their flank and although no blows proved fatal the surprise charge was enough to put the halberdiers to flight.  The swift footed elves easily caught them and butchered the last of them - Prittchard right in front of Gunther, within the blink of an eye the points of 4 spears gently rested in the hollow of his throat.  The elvish commander took off his tall burnished helm and shook out a mane of hair.  Raising his hands sheepishly in the air, Gunther turned to fully look into almond shaped eyes.  “Foolish manling” pointing at Mr Bobbins on Gunther’s shoulder the faerie taunted “you and your ancestors cannot escape the Asur”.
Battle 4 – Conclusion

Finally a convincing win for the elves!  Of course the scenario needed some serious tweaking or Rich would have been facing 20 Sea Guard with 4 hand gunners a spearman and a halberdier……  It was always going to be a tough one for Rich but he gritted his teeth and went for it anyway!!

Time for a big game…..