This week’s Fantastic Battles pairing saw Andrew’s ratkin of the Vermintide deploy opposite my Ziggurat Dwarves. The Mishaps roll following deployment was surprisingly inobtrusive as you can see in the photo. Only the two-company unit of ratkin assassins on the extreme right of the ratkin line (top left of photo) were delayed and forced to deploy further back. In the dwarvern ranks, all appeared equally calm – at least on the surface. The large battery of ballistae on the crest of the hill were badly hit by disease, and dissent in the ranks caused an entire company of the redshield shieldwall on the dwarvern right to desert the night before the battle.
The opening phases of the battle saw plentiful artillery fire – there were two companies of ratkin jezails and four batteries of dwarvern ballistae so missiles were firing thick and fast. The jezails concentrated their fire on an isolated ballistae battery on the right of the dwarvern line, while the ballistae spread their shots between one of the heavingly large four-company units of ratkin rabble in the centre and the avatar of the great horned rat-god who let the army.
The ratkin Verminguard and a unit of assassins pushed forward on the ratkin left flank leaving the great rat wheel and the horned rat in reserve. To a large extent, the damage caused by the dwarvern ballistae fire was mitigated by inspired rallying attempts from the ratkin leadership.
The dwarvern line was much shorter (no pun intended, but happily acknowledged) than their foes, so the dwarf warlord tried to reserve the right flank, threaten with the left flank, and lose all restraint with an all-out charge in the centre, send forward the elite axe-wielding Ziggurat Guard.
On the left, the dwarvern blueshields found themselves in the worst possible situation – trudging slowly through a ploughed field facing a smaller unit of skirmishers. The ratkin gas globardiers opposite them proved incapable of causing any damage, but the very expensive and highly trained dwarves were badly mired. What the globadiers were able to do was scatter the unit of dwarvern flying carpet-riders, eliminating the only supports available to the blueshields. In the centre, while the ratkin rabble stood idle, the ratkin flame-belchers turned to pour rather devastating flame into the flanks of the Ziggurat Guard. It was about this time that the jezails managed to break the ballistae battery they’d been concentrating on and started to pepper away at other targets.
On the far side of the Ziggurat Guard, the ratkin wheel made moves to threaten the unit’s other flank and the Verminguard and assassins continued to advance towards the reserved units on the dwarvern right. In a stroke of madness, the captain leading the assassins decided to abandon his post and ran to take a ride in/on the great wheel. This left the assassins on the ratkin left flank out of command and was to prove rather disastrous.
First impact occurred in the centre of the line where the wheel (with captain attached) crunched into the flank of the Ziggurat Guard axemen before they could make contact with the rabble. The wheel was, in turn, charged in the flank by the dwarvern warlord on his Lamassu. At the same time, the Verminguard charged the (very lonely) djinn.
Over on the left, the dwarvern blueshields – still struggling with the difficult terrain – made expedient use of a haste spell to change formation and charge straight into the flanks of the unwary ratkin assassins who had been steadily advancing past them up the flank.
Back in the centre, the rat-god charged into the flank of the dwarvern Lamassu, only to be blinked right back out of combat again by the djinn. One unit of ratkin rabble then charged forward, hoping to further pin the Ziggurat Guard.
On the dwarvern left, the blueshields reformed to bring their full weight to bear on the ratkin assassins, while just on the right of the photo the dwarvern redshields finally made their move. The ratkin assassins who had been threatening the extreme end of that flank rolled poorly on their impetuous action chart (the danger of leaving them out of command) and started to fall back. This gave the redshields the breathing space they needed to muck in against the flanks of the Verminguard.
By this stage, the dwarvern axemen of the Ziggurat Guard had managed to scatter both the ratkin rabble to their front (causing a pretty devastating ripple of Resolve loss through the nearby rat units) and the big wheel. They were badly bloodied themselves, but they are a super hard nut to crack and still had a lot of fight left.
On the dwarvern left, the blueshields scattered the assassins and were feeling pretty good – except that they were now on the far end of the line, still in rough terrain, facing the wrong direction, and many (so many!) turns of movement away from another potential combat.
Back in the centre, the second large unit of ratkin rabble now hurled themselves down the hill to attack the weakened Ziggurat Guard. The rat-god also sprung into action, battering into the exposed right flank of the unit while the ratkin magic-user riding the Bell of Vermintide crashed into the left flank.
The dwarvern warlord on his Lamassu had already ridden to the assistance of the djinn and the dwarves holding up the Verminguard elites. Thankfully, the ratkin assassins on this flank were still struggling with command issues. While they were no longer running away from the table, neither were they in a position to attack the rear of the redshields.
The battle was teetering on the edge as the elite dwarves of the Zigguratguard finally succumbed to their enemies. As they fell, the rabble ratkin facing them also broke and scattered. The dwarves were three companies away from their breakpoint, and the ratkin were only one company away from their own. The dwarves had several units with low resolve which the rat-god sought to capitalise on by charging into the rear of the dwarvern Lamassu. If he could kill the dwarvern warlord it might spread enough panic to break the Zigurrat formations.
The remaining dwarvern ballisatae fired into and destroyed the ratkin flame-belchers meaning the rats would break at the end of the turn regardless. Everything came down to the final combat around the beleaguered Verminguard to see whether the ratkin would pull a draw/mutual destruction from the jaws of defeat. But it was not to be. The dice gods were angry and the melee results were mediocre at best. Despite the best effforts of both the rot-god and the rogue leading the Verminguard, the dwarvern warlord remained alive and the Vermintide hordes melted away to the gathering darkness.