This is Simon. Simon is my loyal rules monkey for the Pathfinder RPG, and a competent tactical-combat GM for anything d20 based. He is also one of the nicest blokes I know, and genuinely tolerant of little incidents like booking a game two weeks in advance, then forgetting and turning up with some other fellow and an Empire army.
By the time I’d finished ineffectively mauling Edd’s Imperials, we didn’t have time for anything other than a 1000 pointer, and that was going to be bit tight. Fortunately, I’d already written a 1000 point list, and Simon’s scales down simply by removing his Plague Monks and their associated toxin-belching artillery piece. If we didn’t stop for photos, we might just be able to get away with this…
Mannfred the Acolyte – barded Nightmare
30 Skeletons – sword, board, full command
5 Dire Wolves – claws and paws
5 Dire Wolves – inferiority complex
7 Black Knights – barding, lances, full command, willing to die for Sylvania
5 Cairn Wraiths – creepiness, kookiness, mystery and spookiness
Warlord – Dwarf-Gouger, heavy armour, shield, tail spike, ploughman’s lunch
Warlock Engineer – extra magic level, warp-energy condenser, warplock pistol, some sort of magic sword, death wish
30 Clanrats – spears, shields, full command
30 Clanrats – spears, shields, full command
7 Jezzails – smugness
Doomwheel – spare hamsters
I didn’t need to roll for spells, as Mannfred knows the entire Lore of the Vampires off by heart, having stayed in memorising it while his brothers were playing at Wild Beasts in the castle cellars.
Simon got Crack’s Call (buggerbuggerbuggerbugger) and Warp Lightning (bzaaaat!).
I set up my stuff in a long line, with Mannfred outside the Black Knights (the idea was, they’d ride through the woods, since they ignore them, and then he could join up with them in turn one, without slowing them down on his stupid non-ethereal horse), and the Wraiths behind the Black Knights, because they’re scared of Jezzails.
Simon got to go first. The Dire Wolves Vanguarded forward, one unit in the general direction of his Doomwheel, the other straight for the Jezzails. Wouldn’t be able to charge them straight away, might just be able to hold them back.
Simon advanced both his infantry units, cast Crack’s Call on the Skeletons (I laughed and let him kill the ONE SKELETON the spell reached), and Mannfred said “nope” to any Warp Lightning that happened to be going on. The Doomwheel zapped a lone Dire Wolf (you go, Doomwheel!) and the Jezzails bagged a couple from the middle unit.
After working out exactly where I wanted the Doomwheel to go (not ‘straight into the flank of my Black Knights’ for starters), I moved the rightmost Dire Wolves over to herd it around the wall and wood before it got to do anything – or Simon could take his chances and drive it over terrain. The Skeletons and Knights advanced, Mannfred joined up with them as planned, the Wraiths ran into the woods behind them, and I sent the other Dire Wolves up the Jezzails’ noses. They wouldn’t be shooting anything else next turn, not unless Simon wanted to waste his magic on killing a few zombified puppies. My magic phase was a damp squib – when I told Simon what Wind of Death did (d6 S3 hits per rank in the unit contacted, ignoring armour saves) he threw all his dice at dispelling it, and Mannfred actually failed to cast Invocation, so no extra Wolves for me.
The Skaven advanced cautiously, uncharacteristically cautiously, with the Warlord’s unit taking point and the Warlock’s lagging behind them a bit (I see what you’re up to, Mr. I-can-cast-my-doom-spells-into-combat). Simon decided a living Doomwheel trumped a dead one and drove around the wall, zapping two Dire Wolves along the way. Mannfred couldn’t quite stop Crack’s Call, but since I’m a jammy git, I passed all the Initiative tests for the Dire Wolves, and they avoided falling down a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it crevasse. Warp Lightning hit the Black Knights too, killing one.
Now, if I were a sensible man, I’d have tried to charge my Skeletons into the Warlord’s unit, and sent the Black Knights into the Warlock’s, or possibly reformed the Knights and booted Mannfred out altogether.
I did not do this. Instead I charged the Black Knights into the Warlord’s unit, penned the Skeletons in, and, hoping for a repeat performance, sent the lone Wolf into the Jezzails. Mannfred managed to cast Raise Dead and put some convenient Zombies in front of the Warlock’s unit to deter flank charges, but he was at the wrong end of the Black Knight unit to Invoke more Dire Wolves without needing more dice than I had to cast it, and like a bloody fool I’d lined him up on the flank of Simon’s Clanrats rather than using Make Way to shimmy him up to the other end where a piddly six-to-cast version would do the job.
The Black Knight champion issued a challenge, hoping to keep the Warlord honest, but he couldn’t quite get a Killing Blow or indeed a normal wound on the Skaven, and got smashed into tinfoil for his trouble. Worse, Mannfred only killed one Clanrat with four attacks, and the Knights only managed a couple more. Although only one Knight was pulled down, the combat was overall a draw. Oh, and the lone Wolf didn’t wound anything, but he didn’t take anything either.
Simon’s Warlock and friends obligingly charged the Zombies in front of them, and the Doomwheel continue to roam around the back end of my army, only having range to blast a couple of Skellies. Mannfred’s lacklustre performance continued as he failed to stop Crack’s Call from ripping across my army, pulling down two Zombies and a Wraith. Unsurprisingly, his Warlock followed up by carving through the Zombies on combat resolution alone, but the worst was yet to come…
… in combat, the Skaven Warlord issued a challenge and Mannfred, lacking a rear rank to hide in, had to accept. The Acolyte’s lack of armour, ward saves or indeed any protection beyond “I’m on a horse” came back to bite him as the Warlord scored two wounds at Strength 5 and, well, that was the end of that. (Addendum: years after the fact, I now know that the Acolyte comes with heavy armour as standard, and so actually has a respectable 3+ armour save. Le whoops.) The Knights had to take three Unstable tests – one for losing the combat, one for losing the General, and one for the start of the next turn since there were no other Wizards to take over. They did not like taking three Unstable tests, and decided to go on strike. Everything else had to eat two, and I was left with about fifteen Skeletons and three Wraiths with which to do my worst.
The Wraiths charged the Skaven Warlock and his block (no point in going for the Jezzails, they’d Stand and Shoot and that’d be bye-bye ghostie-men… although now that I think of it, they would have had to pass a Terror test on less-than-brilliant odds before doing so), while the Skeletons went for the Warlord. The Wraiths didn’t embarrass themselves too badly, at least putting a wound on the Warlock and chopping up a rodent or two, but the Skeletons whiffed badly and were battered into their component parts by an angry Warlord.
There was a Turn Four, but since it involved me removing three Wraiths at the end of Simon’s combat phase, it doesn’t really warrant a whole paragraph.
Defeat for the Undead!
Well, that’s taught me a valuable lesson. Namely that it doesn’t matter how small the game is, Undead Generals need a Ward save. To be honest I was sort of expecting it, but I wanted to try out a) this list and b) a Loremaster, just because there were still some new Necromancy spells I hadn’t used. I still think I threw the game away with that charge on the Warlord’s unit – moving Mannfred about and Invoking might have been a damn sight more sensible, but I suppose if he hadn’t gotten Raise Dead off, he’d have been charged and eaten by the Warlock’s unit, and I couldn’t be sure that was going to happen.
I definitely need a new 1000 point list, though. Hmm, how much are those Master Necromancers again?