Sunday, 26 July 2020

Fantastic Battles: Ziggurat Dwarves vs Dark Elves

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

As noted elsewhere, all our testing to date has been with 10mm armies based on 40x40mm bases, but the game itself is scale agnostic so long as all companies on the table are based the same way.

Rolling for Mishaps saw one unit of Ziggurati shield-bearers (the red shields) and the flying carpet-riding priests suffering the impact of disease, and the other unit of shield-bearers (the blue shields) arriving late and being forced to deploy behind the ballistae on the hill. The Dark Elves mustered all of their elite elvish units on their right (top left of the photo), and had three large rabble units of expendable thralls (all on stimulants) on their left. One of the units of thralls was wracked with disease - a devastating impact on rabble - while another was overly enthusiastic and deployed far too far forward.

The opening turns saw all four batteries of dwarvern ballistae and the flying carpet-riders opening fire on the only unit within range - the poor but enthusiastic rabble unit of slaves. Only requiring six hits to break the rabble, the dwarvern shooting was remarkably successful and the slaves broke and fled. Meanwhile, the late unit of shield-bearers changed into column formation and started the very slow process of maneuvering back to where they should have been in the first place.

The elves were a bit rattled by the speed with which their advanced unit was destroyed and spent several turns trying to consolidate the rest of their line, the Warlord flying back and forth rallying where necessary.

This delay allowed the dwarves to adjust their own lines, shifting the focus to the dwarvern left to face the elite elves, rather than worry too much about the remaining slave units.

After several turns of maneuvering, the lines started to close. The elven Warlord on his dragon, flying above the slaves soaked up a lot of dwarvern ballista fire, but the Warlord managed to rally most of the Resolve loss away and thereby neutralised the damage that the war machines could have been doing to the rest of the elvish line.

In the end, it took a charge from the cream of the Ziggurati forces, the elite, heavy weapon-wielding, Ziggurat Guard to dispatch the next unit of Dark Elf thralls. As the Ziggurat Guards cleaved their way through the thralls, the final slave unit advanced up the extreme right of the dwarvern line, occupying a hill and receiving ballistae fire and shooting from the flying carpets for their efforts. Both slave units crumbled and scattered. So far, the dwarves had destroyed 10 companies in three big units with next to no casualties themselves. The stunties were on a high, and the pointies were feeling low. Both emotions proved to be short lived.

In Fantastic Battles, armies break when all of their characters are killed, or when more than half of their companies have scattered. However, expendable troops (like all those thralls) are ignored, so thus far in the game, the dwarves had made no headway towards breaking the elven army at all. In the centre of the remaining elven line, a witch with a pet golem and a cauldron full of blood was leading a menacing pack of poisonous and berserking witch-elves and monstrous lizard-riding noblemen. The fight was not over yet by a long way.

The entire unit of Ziggurat Guard were pinned in place by a single company of elven crossbowmen; the red shields were assaulted to the front by the witch elves and the golem. While near-impregnable to the front thanks to their shieldwall and long spears, the shield-bearer units have very soft flanks. The red shields now had exposed flanks and that terrifying unit of lizard-riding elvish nobles loitering nearby charged into their left flank. In the distance, the blue shields were charged in their flank by the elven Warlord on his dragon.

Despite the Ziggurati djinn rushing to their aid and attacking the lizard riders, the red shields couldn't stand before the combined elvish onslaught and broke. The berserking witch elves next charged at the dwarf lord, Gargamesh, on his lamassu who evaded, falling back as the witches surged on towards the ballistae battery. 

The blue shields reformed to present the Dark Elf Warlord with their shieldwall and pointy spears.

Having seen off the djinn to their flank, the lizard-riders were next harried in the rear by a company of plucky dwarvern highlanders. An elf rogue jointed the fight, called out Lakish, the dwarvern captain, and in the ensuing duel, killed him. The highlanders scattered, leaving the lizard-knights free to find a new target.

By this stage, the Ziggurat Guard had defeated both companies of crossbowmen sent to slow them down and were ready to face off against the elves and lizards. The witch elves, furious at the lamassu's evasive manoeuvres, charged into the dwarvern ballistae, and were then attacked from behind by the Warlord and lamassu for their ill manners. 

Both armies were very close to breaking - the elves had fought on ferociously despite having lost all of those thrall units in the opening stages of the game. The flying carpets flew around to pin the elven Warlord and dragon in place for the blue shields to fight. At the same time, in a truly frantic combat, the witch elves managed to destroy the artillery before turning to kill the Ziggurati Warlord just as the reached their own physical limits and broke themselves. 

This brought the Dark Elf army, finally, to its break point and the remaining pointy-folk withdrew from the field of battle. The Ziggurat Dwarves were left victorious, but badly battered. Of the five characters who led the dwarves that morning, only Akkad the Magic-user remained alive when the day was done. 

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