Monday, 27 July 2020

Fantastic Battles: Men of the Byzernian Empire vs Halflings of Hearthshire

This week saw two playtests of Fantastic Battles here in Ulster. The first between my Ziggurat Dwarves and JB's Dark Elves, and the second between my Hearthshire Halflings against Jim's Byzernian Humans. 

Rolling for Mishaps, the halfling line (bottom of the photo) was moderately impacted. One unit of treefolk was delayed and deployed to the rear of their designated position, the kitchen militia were too enthusiastic and deployed forward, and both the archers and hearthguard units were suffering from disease - or was it bad salmon mousse served the night before? The Byzernians had invested in a 'quartermaster' who positively modified all their Mishap rolls meaning they only had one enthusiastic unit - skirmishing kern on their right flank (upper left in the photo) - and a late unit of drunken bonnachts. The Byzenians had also purchased the 'ambush'  strategy allowing their rogue to lead a unit of light horse prickers ahead of their line on the left (top right of the photo). 

In the early stages of the battle, the two lines advanced steadily towards each other. The halflings in the centre tried to re-establish a sold line with their enthusiastic kitchen militia who blessedly were happy to sit and wait while their commanders caught up to them. Rosie, the halfling rogue, led the poultry scouts forward to try to hold the Byzernian prickers on the hill, allowing Captain Fishwick to bring up the mounted yeomanry to drive back the assault on the halfling right flank.

Unfortunately for Rosie and the poultry scouts, Fishwick was not fast enough and they had to receive a charge from the prickers unsupported.

On the left of the halfling line, Puck Goodfellow was not taking his time to move his painfully slow treefolk forward. He had a large four-company unit in front supported by some halfling game wardens, and the smaller two-company unit of late-comers bringing up the rear. Before them were the Byzernian kern and two wagon-mounted flame-throwing warmachines. In the background, the drunken bonnachts can be seen lazing around, drinking and taking in the sun on a crisp winter's morning.

The two centres stare at each other across no-man's-land.

On the halfling right, Fishwick's yeoman cavalry were charged by a mass of galloglasses. In a bit of a bind, Fishwick called in the support of the Hearthshire's friendly neighbourhood chicken monster cockatrice. However, without the support of the yeomanry, the poultry scouts, and their bold leader, were quickly overwhelmed by the superior height numbers of the Byzernian cavalry on the hill.

In the centre, the halfling hearthguard engaged in a pike-measuring activity with their Byzernian equals, while the squishy kitchen militia received a charge from both the Byzernian heavy cavalry and an angel. To my great delight they managed to soak up a lot of damage, but not break. In the following Action phase, they passed around some cold chicken drumsticks and a few pickled onions, restoring enough Resolve to keep on fighting.

Unfortunately, following the defeat of the poultry on the hill, the Byzernian light cavaly prickers had free reign over the halfling right and were soon engaged against the kithen militia's flank. Faced by the fierce gallowglasses and seeing their friends break, the halfling yeomany fled, allowing the galloglass unit to reform against the cockatrice.

On the halfling left, the wardens pinned the Byzernian kern in place just long enough to allow them to be caught by the lumbering tree folk. The Byzernians could not stand before the wall of walking wood and fled, their captain dying in the process. In the Byzernian background, the drunken bonnachts finally decided that this battle wasn't for them and wandered off to tour a nearby distillery. The Byzernian right was now leaderless and the flame-wagons defenceless. Tired of being hit by the flame-throwers, the treefolk were on a rampage ...

... it just happened to be a painfully slow rampage. The treefolk were desperately needed in the centre of the battle, but they were far off on the left flank. The kitchen militia eventually reached the point were there was not enough quince jelly in the world to keep them in the fight and they too scattered. The Byzernian angel skipped across to attack the halfling archers (now in column) and the day was looking pretty grim. Faced with Byzernian spearmen to their front, and elite Byzernian heavy cavalry to their flank, the halfling Hearthguard fought their final stand until they could stand no longer.  

Technically speaking, in both the spirit and the letter of the law, that was the end of the battle. Look at the halfling Warlord all alone there ... he knows it. With the Hearthguard broken, the halfling army was reduced to below half strength and should have withdrawn. However, the halfling player - whose name shall not be mentioned else he incriminate himself - may have been overtired and miscounted the number of loses. The battle continued into overtime.

The Byzernian rogue went off to attack the halfing catapults and would have actually been killed by a freak roll of a 6, had the Byzernian prophet not foreseen the event and allowed the dice to be swapped for another he'd prepared earlier.

The halfling archers reformed to face the angel, and were immediately hit in the flank by the Byzernian heavy horse. Miraculously, they drove the angel off, turned to face the heavy horse...

... and then were hit in the flank by the Byzernian spearmen. Those spearmen were, in turn, charged by the halfling truffle-hunters who were empowered by the Magic-user Hamfist and rolled 11 attack dice! Needing 5+ to hit, the wee walking sausages managed to roll 10 hits. Bless 'em!

Still, it was not to be, the spearmen reformed and drove off the truffle-hunters, just as the horsemen finished off the halfling archers.

In the end, only Puck and the treefolk remained on the table. The battle was well and truly over with a well-deserved victory going to the men of Byzernia. 

I'll leave Jim to have the final words:

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