Roger and I came too (miniature) blows again this week for a Fantastic Battles match-up between his spooky pirates and my Ziggurat Dwarves. Even at 1000 points, both of us were fielding quite small armies with breakpoints of 8 for the spooks, and 10 for the dwarves.
During mishaps, both the dwarvern left and the corresponding ghostly right suffered delayed deployment. One phantom whale was over enthusiastic, while only one unit across the table - the single company of dwarvern highlanders - suffered from disease.
Both armies were hoping to play defensively and had far more artillery than is common - four dwarvern ballista batteries vs three ghostly cannon batteries. As the racial trope for the terrors of the deep is 'ephemeral' making them hard to target, and the cannon's ignored the dwarves' beautiful (and supposedly impervious) shieldwalls, I decided to pull out all the stops and quite literally fling the large unit of heavy weapon-wielding Ziggurat Guards forward into the ghostly line. The dwarvern sorcerer ran forward to take up position.
In a single turn, the guardsmen moved forward under orders; the djinn then cast blink, sending the forward again. Now all it needed was for one more initiative token to be drawn to allow my sorcerer to cast haste on the Ziggurat Guards to have them straight into combat.
Sadly the next initiative token went to the sea terrors who summoned a single unit of bilge rats to halt my advance! Of course the rats were easily dispatched in the melee phase, but then my guards were left exposed in point bank range of the ghostly buccaneer shot and the cannons. And surely as night follows day, so the pattern was to continue...
|I know it's a mouse, but it's pretty cute, so just pretend it's a rat...|
The powerful shooting caused havoc on the guardsmen's resolve, drawing Gargamesh himself forward to try to rally them. Sadly, he was then to prove too tempting a target himself and things took a turn for the even worse when a sea giant was summoned close by...
On the dwarvern left, the red shield-bearers and their supporting magic carpets wheeled to face off against the ghostly giant zombie shark and some giant crabs, while on the right the blue shield-bearers tried to pin down the ghostly whales.
Despite one whale trying to be evasive and swim/float past their flanks, the blue shield-bearers made use of their drilled status to change formation and hit the whale in the flank.
The red shieldbearers were also coming to grips with their vicious foes on the left flank...
Gargamesh chose discretion over valour, and flew off to the left flank to recover, while the djinn then dealt with the sea giant by blinking him away from the guardsmen's flank and into the middle of a ballistae maelstrom where he subsequently fell. The blue shield-bearers reformed to take on their whale, while the second managed to make temporary contact with the highlanders (who promptly scattered).
In the centre, the Ziggurat Guards were finally mowed down where they stood, while on the dwarvern right, the whales messed about. One whale disengaged from the Blues to allow ghost-ogre-pirates to charge the bristling shieldwall, while the other whale, having flattened the highlanders, floated on into Gargamesh and his lamassu.
The Reds on the left (coincidence - yes, actually, but still just made me smile...) destroyed the shark, only to come face to face with a new and even more vicious and shiny foe.
In the centre, where the Ziggurat guard stood and fell, the ghost pirates' liche-lord and his sea-hag mate had managed to summon another giant and a whole swarm of bilge rats...
Gargamesh paid the ultimate price for shepherding his people and fell in battle before the phantom whale causing a ripple of resolve loss across the entire dwarvern line. Then the sea giant got in on the flank of the Blues who were otherwise holding the right flank just fine.
On what turned out to be the final round of an epic struggle, the red shield-bearers and their crustacious opponents fought each other to mutual destruction on the left.
On the right, the djinn and the over-confident whale did likewise.
But by that point it was all too late and despite their best efforts, the mounting losses proved too much for the Zuggurati who broke and fled.
This was a super interesting game with all sorts of sneakiness and shenanigans keeping us both on our toes. Although the seeds of the dwarvern defeat were sown when the Ziggurat Guards were flung forward, it needn't have turner out the way it did. Gargamesh would have reigned supreme if it wasn't for those ghostly magic-users and their pesky rats!