Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Ravenloft Campaign: Part 3 {a tiny 6mm scale battle report}

 
 ~ A Test of Courage ~
734 {nearly One Year Ago - world time}
 

Princess Ala`ra, youngest daughter of Queen Tavia, sat mounted upon her steed and surveyed the scene before her. A cold trickle of perspiration ran down the small of her back, but she refused to allow the trembling in her voice or the chill fear in her heart dictate the determination of her purpose.

“We will stand and fight… here” She said aloud… almost absent-mindedly, to herself. But the mounted female warriors in the formation behind her who were in ear shot, all cried out: “Aye, Mistress, we will fight and fear no evil.”

Ala`ra turned around in her saddle so that the leather creaked stiffly, and smiled with a sudden fierce pride.

“So young. So very young!” She thought. “Many of these girls may never see their seventeenth year… the bitter death embrace of Arianrhod `The Mother Night` will see to that.” But the Princess knew they had no choice but to stand and fight.

Her mind wandered to a score of summers ago, when she herself was no more than a New Blood Warrior. But those years had taught her to become a worthy Battle Maiden of the Royal line.

But for the first time in her life, she felt alone.

Miles from her tribe… her family; nothing between her enemy and her home – except the small exploratory force she commanded.

Word had been slow to reach the Queen`s ears. A few half whispered rumours of a new evil that had descended from the Ettercaps. But perhaps the reason the actual facts were slow to spread were because anywhere the evil ventured… nothing survived.

Princess Ala`ra and her scouts (sent by the Queen) had been the first to discover the empty villages… but no bodies. Village after village along the Western Fringe… all deserted, as though they had been vacated suddenly and without warning!

Even more disturbing was the lack of positive identity of the enemy. Just shuffled footprints in the sand and the soil. Human, but somehow uncaringly obvious. Ala`ra`s First Captain Vladmilla of the Veteran Guard did not know what kind of an enemy this was. It was something none of them had ever faced before, that much was certain.

But on the Tulamar Plains, west of Krezk and east of The Mists... beneath the high peaks of the Ettercaps, the summer signs were becoming increasingly obvious. No bird choral chime rang clear in the summer breeze: no sounds of nature filled the senses, and the grasslands lay lank and dour as the Wabanaki Amazonian woodland warriors passed by… even the air hung heavy and dead like the lull before a Sow`en storm.

And then they came! Black, cloaked figures, marching along in ordered columns.

Skirmishers shuffling to the front like some `forlorn hope`... the Dead who do not rest. The Undead minions of the Forgotten Legions of Hisimod. A Necromantic army infecting the planes with deathless cruelty and decay; and now... at last, it was come to Barovia too!

Yes, Princess Ala`ra suddenly felt terribly alone. Her training seemed somehow insufficient, and her tender years now counted against her as she contemplated her plight. To turn and run would give this army room to grow, to fester and spread its vile contagion upon other hapless villages and hamlets along its terrible path.

She had no choice but to face this threat… here and now. Before Madam Eva`s terrible prophesies and hopes of a new `devil` to supplant Stradt, even had a candle flicker of hope that they might, by chance, ever came to pass.

Vladmilla`s fiery and warlike demeanour encouraged the Princess. “At least I have someone to second me who is fearless enough to face this dire enemy.” Ala`ra concluded.

With a sudden groan of hopeless anguish, the skeletal hordes of Hisimod moved forward like an unstoppable wave of merciless destruction.

 
Armies:

 
Wabanaki  Female Amazon Braves

Princess Ala`ra (pronounced: ala - Ra)

4 strips of Amazonian Light Cavalry

2 War Mammoths (the only ones I have painted and ready to use so far)

Captain Vladmilla

4 strips of Amazonian Heavy Cavalry

Blucian (Heroine) Pronounced blu-see-en

6 strips of Amazonian Spear Armed Warriors

6 strips of Battle Maiden Archers

 

Undead

4 strips of skeletal cavalry (black cloaks)

4 strips of skeletal cavalry (red cloaks)

6 strips of skeletal foot soldiers (blue cloaks)

6 strips of skeletal foot soldiers (red cloaks)

6 Strips of skeletal irregular/skirmishers.

3 leaders on foot

2 mounted leaders.

 
The Battle Field: this battle takes place over a wide sheep land glade. The tiny 6mm miniatures used are made by Irregular Miniatures, and are painted `old school` style and also in semi gloss. You may or may not like the way they are painted, but I do have a driving passion for my Wargames `toy soldiers` and terrain to have that singularly unique look and feel of yester-year... especially when playing with a smaller scale.

The centre of this battle field has a pond surrounded by a few willow trees. Apart from impeding (blocking) line of sight for shooting calculations this pond serves no further purpose, except as a supply of drinking water for any roaming sheep and cows.

A hedgerow provides cover from the elements, so the animals have somewhere to go when the weather is bad. Two small woods stand either side of the pond, towards the edge of the board on the Amazons set up area.

 
The rest of the glade is bare of terrain features.

The table top area the game is played on is, amazingly, only18 inches wide and by 12 inches deep. That's the main beauty of 6mm miniatures - space.

The rules used are called `Fire At Will, Men.` They are mine and were written many years ago. They can be found and copied for free at any of the links below:

 
http://freewargamesrules.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Fantasy

 
http://freewargamesrules.wikia.com/wiki/Fire_At_Will,_Men

 
http://freewargamesrules.wikia.com/wiki/File:FireAtWill.pdf

 

The initial set up
 
Princess Ala`ra places herself and her light cavalry over on the far right of the field (as you look at the photo, above) with her 2 available mammoths slightly behind, near the trees.
 

Princess Ala`ra

Princess Ala`ra, light cavalry and mammoths.
 
The Amazonian spears, led by Blucian, take up positions behind the hedge near the pond.
 

Spear armed warriors… led by Amazon heroine Blucian

Some way behind the spears and left a bit Captain Vladmilla and her heavy cavalry take up a double line position, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. They are placed ready to come to the aid of either the spears ahead of them, or the archers situated in the woods to their left.


Captain Vladmilla`s heavy (Cataphract) cavalry
Amazon archers concealed in the woods (rear view, looking towards the enemy).
 
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Instead of spanning out to cover the whole side of their start line, the undead minions (of evil Lord Hisimod) group together on the right hand side of the board, obviously intending to launch their main attack to the left of the pond.
The Skeleton army.
One of the two skeletal cavalry units.
Another view of the initial set up.

 
Pre-turn initiative: The Amazons throw 5 and Undead throw 4. The warrior women get to go first.
 

First casualties (cloaked and hooded skeleton skirmishers) removed from the table.
 
Turn 1: Amazon archers shoot a volley of arrows from the edge of their tree line cover. The shambling skeleton skirmishers, fanned out along their army’s entire front, take 2 palpable hits… two strips of undead get removed from play.
Princess Ala`ra, and her new blood light cavalry, slowly and gracefully advance in a stretched out battle line… wheeling slightly to face the enemy as they glide forward across the open glade. The heavy tread of the mammoths can be felt vibrating like ripples through the ground, and a mighty “Boom, Boom” of hooves can be heard like bass drums in the deep! Trotting to keep pace with the mounted warrior women, the two howdah teams work a series of intricate winches and reins to steer the gigantean animals along beside the advancing cavalry.
The rest of the Amazon army stands fast; and watches, and waits! Vladmilla gives a rousing speech to her warriors - to steady their mounting nerves.
 
Meanwhile, the entire undead army marches forward... now in utter silence.
On the skeleton’s right flank… a lone unit of undead cavalry wheels to face the Princesses` light horse, and advances.
 


Princess Ala`ra`s light horse advances; the undead cavalry wheel to face them.
 
Turn 2: More hits from the Amazon archers reduces the undead by 2 more strips, but the skeleton skirmishers have played their part well, shielding the more valuable units from enemy’s ranged attacks.
Undead skirmishers lose 2 more strips from the Amazon archers in the woods!
 
 
A morale test is taken – and failed: and with an almost dispassionate groan, the remainder of the skirmish line crumbles into a rout…stumbling to the rear in disarray.
Amazon archers (looking at the enemy from their position).
 
Author`s Aside ~ most role playing games and sets of fantasy rules say that undead never have to check their morale during a game. This has become so much a part of the fantasy institution that no one even questions this ruling anymore.
However, in my fantasy world, I work on the following assumption: if a body has been reanimated, or clings to an unnatural un-life by sheer personal willpower or by command, a small part of that individual’s original `soul` or `spirit` must, by definition, still remain. This tiny fraction of  `will` holds the basic survival instincts the individual possessed in life (hence why zombies still feel the urge to eat, and why evil ghosts still retain the desire to inflict harm on the living, etc). Some people say undead are soul-less, but this is a cliché that is not altogether true. Yes, an undead vampire, ghost, zombie, skeleton, etc is pretty bloody mean and nasty, possessing inhuman responses and an uncaring dispassion to the living creatures around it… but the spirit of the undead `thing` actually still retains a thin strand of its former self… enough to give it reanimation at least. This spirit or soul lies between places; neither in the spirit world nor fully in this one, so the link is a tenuous one.
Only the most basic of earthly functions and responses remain. Which is why instincts like survival, hunger... even fear... remain intrinsically woven into the fabric of those who are reanimated or who cheat death.
So, my undead do know fear... as an instinctive response to being in dangerous and un-life threatening situations. Morale tests DO apply to my undead every bit as much as these tests do for the living. It just takes more to put them in a shaken state where they cannot fight effectively any longer.
 
A ragged female cheer goes up from the defenders in the woods.
Suddenly! Vladmilla sounds the charge, and her troop of horse are forced to take a morale test to see whether they can comply with the order. The throw is a 3: -1 for facing undead: +2 for the captains rousing cheer: = 4.
Fortunately, Vladmilla`s sermon to her warriors did the trick, and the whole cavalry formation advances - then charges straight at the enemy cavalry ahead of them.
 
Vladmilla and undead cavalry clash in the middle of the battlefield. I wonder how that poor flock of sheep feels, being so close to the action.
 
 
In the ensuing melee, there is a tit-for-tat exchange, as the Amazons and undead each loose a cavalry strip in the close quarter fighting.
In a heroic combat exchange between Vladmilla and the undead leader (a duel, conducted by flipping a coin - best of three), the Amazon Warrior Captain comes out ahead in the best of three coin flips… 2 out of 3 wins. The undead leader receives a hit a tiny die is placed beside the figure to show he has taken a wound.
Both sides have taken losses, so each must now take a morale test.
Vladmilla`s Amazons pass their test with flying colours – mostly due to the euphoria still ringing in the warriors` ears left over by their Captain’s stirring speech.
The undead, however, roll badly (a `1`); fail their morale test – and are forced to rout.
The Amazonian heavy cavalry come thundering down onto the rear of the routing skeletons, pursuing them mercilessly… hacking bones and rotting flesh in an orgy of retribution. The undead leader and two strips of cavalry fall to the tutored blows of the beautiful but deadly Valkyrie. By the time the rout and the pursuit resolution is over – only one strip of skeleton cavalry remains in play out of the whole skeleton unit.
Vladmilla`s heavy cavalry pursue the routing undead horsemen.
Meanwhile, on the left - the two undead infantry formations continue to advance on the Amazons on the edge of the woods, each expanding their ranks by one strip in preparation for the coming melee. A mere 30 or 40 feet separate the sides.
It is the end of turn two, and all ready two undead units have been broken apart and routed… and with one Amazonian unit in hot pursuit, things are looking decidedly good for the Valkyrie warriors.
But the young bloods over on the left flank will soon be sorely tested, once the advancing undead infantry reach the edge of the forest.
Suddenly, for the first time… Princess Ala`ra has some hope…. they might yet survive this fight, without too many lives lost.
Undead infantry continue their relentless march towards their foe.
End of turn 2.
 
The battle hangs in the balance. On the left it looks like there will soon be much bloodshed and rending of bones. While over on the right, the open ground looks set to witness a mighty cavalry action… and Ala`ra will have her mettle tested to the full.
 
Turn 3:  The routed undead cavalry unit fails its succeeding rally check with a miserable end result of -1. The survivors scatter and rout from the field entirely. This frees the Amazonian heavy horse to reform and continue fighting elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the leader of the undead skirmishers parallel to the routing skeletal cavalry succeeds in halting the remnants of his own fleeing unit, and forms them up facing the now dangerously close Amazon heavy cavalry on their right.
Princess Ala`ra, seeing the battle is going well, decides not to advance with her own cavalry unit, and allows the two mammoths and their crews to trundle forward instead. “Why risk the lives of my young girls, when the mammoths, hopefully, can finish the job for us.” The Princess smiles wisely to herself, and her worried face softens.
Over on the left flank, the Amazon bow armed light warriors realize they cannot stand against two ordered formations of enemy infantry… not if they hope to survive, and the order is given by the junior officer amongst them to retire through the woods in good order. The fight looks like it is going well; it looks as though it is only a matter of time before they are reinforced by other elements of their army. A retreat now seems like a wise move for the lightly armed, semi-cloth clad young girls.
In the centre, Vladmilla like the true veteran she is sees a wonderful opportunity to deal a death blow upon the enemy, and is not slow to exploit it.
Her pursuit of the first enemy cavalry unit has now placed her literally on the flank of the second enemy cavalry formation. Wheeling her girls round in a smart half circle to the right, she pauses momentarily to dress her line - takes a charge declaration morale test – and passes, and then orders a charge right into the rear of the enemy, completely taking them by surprise.
The combined attack of 3 strips of Amazon cavalry, plus Vladmilla… plus a bonus for charging, and another bonus for a rear attack… completely annihilates the enemy skeleton unit. Only the undead leader survives… and routs off the field with a scream of pure rage and frustration.
 
Turns 4, 5, & 6: Without a word, maybe at some unearthly spiritual command, the undead infantry advancing on the woods, stop dead in their tracks; by now, realising an advance would be a futile act, and obviously knowing there is no way they can safely escape the battlefield, they take the only real option open to them.
Wheeling one of their formations about to cover the flank of the unit nearest the wood, they slide the last remaining skirmisher unit into place, and wait for the inevitable. They have now formed a strong defensive position for themselves, and wait silently for the Amazons to close in - and finish it!
Surrounded… nowhere to run!

Turn 7: Vladmilla`s cavalry, plus the mammoths charge the enemy in a classic pincer attack. The Mammoths smash into the bone men while heavy cavalry trample them underfoot in a remorseless orgy of death.
One skeleton unit breaks, and is pursued off the board by the victorious elephants and their crew. No doubt, by the time the Amazons are through, not one of the routed skeletons will remain `un-alive on this earth.
Vladmilla`s cavalry dispatch all of the remaining skeleton skirmishers, but in a heroic combat against the skeleton unit`s leader, she comes off second best – and receives a single wound for her troubles! Tut-tut Vladmilla, don`t get too cocky.
 
But it is over for Hisimod`s army!
Suddenly, in a display of colourful pyrotechnics, the remaining skeletons spontaneously burst into colourful flames, and reduce to nothing more than a dust cloud in the air…blowing away like a thick choking ash on the strong summer breeze.
 
Losses:
Undead:
All except both mounted leaders, who fled the field in dismay.
 
Amazons:
1 strip of Vladmilla`s heavy cavalry, and a single wound on Vladmilla herself.
 
Total Amazon victory.

Wow, I half expected the Amazons to claim a victory by the end of the game, but I expected they would pay a high price to achieve it. I never thought they would trounce the undead (seemingly) with so little effort.
Wow, Amazons can win games. I had initially feared (when I recently found out this Irregular Miniatures army set from the attic) that they didn`t have what it takes to stand toe to toe against a real army.
I guess I was totally wrong :)
Just five losses; five elite warriors. The funeral pyres will burn high tonight, and the wailing and lamentation of the battle sisters will be a pitiful and touching dirge: as they perform the touching funeral ritual of their faith. This will be followed by much feasting, drinking, and merriment… as the survivors celebrate the lives of their fallen sisters in the time honoured traditions of their kin.
May Arianrhod accept the fallen into her warm welcoming embrace. 
 
Stephen Gilbert
November 12th 2016.
 
 
 Next (about mid week):
we will be taking a small break from Barovia and the lands of Stradt - and shift attention to the zombie apocalypse, where we will be playing a bit of a  Zombicide homebrew game - with a difference.
 
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Please take time to write your comments to let us know how you enjoyed your visit at The Game Cupboard: it only takes a few moments of your time  to write a comment, and is really appreciated, and helps us to gauge what you like.. so that we can give you more of the same.
 
Thank You
 
Steve :)


 


 

 


 

 

 



 


 
 
 


20 comments:

  1. What a thoroughly enjoyable batrep. As a huge fan of all things Undead, part of me was willing the Undead army to win but the result was so decisive I can take nothing away from the Amazons' victory and so I congratulate them on such a masterful display. There was much to enjoy here, Steve, and for me, nothing to dislike. Oh, and I love how you are adding such variety to your campaign. I never know what to expect next, which is surely a good thing. Bravo!

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  2. THANK you Bryan, what lovey comments from you my friend. I`m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes I think its important to keep `mixing it up a bit` with gothic, or you can end up with everything becoming a dirge if you are not careful. I LOVE gothic... but I love trifle too. But If I ate it every day without any variety, I`d soon go of it I think, haha.

    The Amazon`s victory was thorough wasn't it! My undead took a right thrashing didn't`t they: due (I have to say) to Tarot`s skill at wielding her damn female warriors, she controls them with real graceful precision... curse her.

    You may like to check out the next article Bryan (I`ll probably put it up about mid week - Wednesday most likely), as it will be my attempt at a modern Zombicide scenario. I`ll rope the guys into joining me in playing it out on the table.

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  3. Never underestimate an Amazon warrior *winks*

    Really nice batrep Stevie: you wrote it and made it sound just how it felt on the table top. It was good to relive it again in written form. In truth, I think you got distracted taking all those photos hehe. You could (maybe should) have won, but you let me dictate the pace of the game, where as those heavy armoured skellies SHOULD have controlled the field from the start. As it was, I just pulled you in.. and took you apart from the sides, piecemeal: a unit at a time.

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  4. I`m in, I want to join that Zombicide game most definitely. Will it be here or at the club?

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    1. got you booked in... looks like it will be you and Tar` versus me and Dave ^^

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  5. Intense and bloody report, a beautiful victory! Love Princess Ala`ra's army...

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    1. Hi Phil, and welcome to The Game Cupboard. Don`t forget to back up to see older posts: hopefully you`ll spot plenty there to suit your interests (there`s literally tons of back posts/older posts... just click the bottom of the page to take you there).

      Thanks for the comments Phil, and I`m so glad you enjoyed the latest article... lots more to come (next one - mid week).

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    2. WELCOME Phil, its so lovely to see you here. Please don't be a stranger and come back often (there`s always new material here every week).

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    3. Hi Phil hun, wonderful to see you. Welcome to the mad house. Your own site is marvellous (I took a first peep earlier). May we put a link up to your place, here at `the cupboard?`

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    4. Thanks eveyone for your most welcome, hope I'll have enough time to visit this wonderful blog often!

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    5. awww thanks Phil.... likewise, we will be frequent visitors at your blog too I am sure.

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  6. A great post and what looks like it was a fun game. 6mm makes my eyes water. I don't know how anyone paints it at all, mine would literally be a grey blob!

    Just goes to show that no matter what the army composition - tactics and dice rolls can make a bad army good and a good army bad. Well done Tarot on your victory.

    I like how your game is developing from small player encounters, to "small" armies clashing.

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  7. Thanks Andy, hehe.. agreed. tactics and don`t forget to blow on the dice and - did I mention tactics: >>> and a really good simple set of rules helps.

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    1. I keep forgetting to blow on the dice, I know Damon does it to his.....

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  8. Hiya Andy mate, I`m just on my way over to your blog actually to see if you`ve posted the results of your Bushido tournament yet. Glad you liked the batrep... yeah why stick to role playing Ravenloft/Historical when you can pay it as a wargame as well (for that truly complete campaign experience). I love playing table top battles in multiple scales, as it gives you a totally different `feel` from scale to scale. 6mm is a bit of a pain to paint, though there are some modellers out there make them soooo detailed it defies the imagination and makes the mind boggle... but on a happy note, even an average job on the mini chaps makes everything look dead cool. Glad you enjoyed it mate.

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  9. Guys, you should take a look at this blog, its marvellous. While my hobby collection(s) are complete *coughs with embarrassment* I do still hold out some hope for Warlord Games La Haye Sainte (Christmas is not far away *cough cough* though Easter works fine for me too *hint hint.... looks at Hils*) Phil`s site is very beautifully laid out, it really is, and just makes me want the La Haye Sainte box set even more. He has so much eye candy displayed hehe.

    For those with no French: just Click the translate button to change it all to English.

    http://riflemens.blogspot.ie/

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  10. I kept meaning to comment on this post, but ever time I sat down to write it, something got in the way. Anyway, an entertaining batrep in teeny-tiny scale - I think I'd have an issue trying to paint something that small.
    However...scantily-clad amazons? war-mammoths? In Ravenloft? I thought we were doing Gothic Colonial Fantasy and it's all gone a bit swords 'n' sandals.
    "So I'd accepted a drink from that Oriental fella' as recompense for his employees attempts to bilk me at the gaming tables...next thing I know I'm stumbling about Rotherhithe docks in the all-together, mumbling about elephants. Dashed queer tasting brandy, too..."
    Do not meddle in the affairs of wily Orientals, as they will slip Opium into your coffee just before you start gaming. You have been warned.

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  11. HAHHAHAahahahahaaaaaa!!! love it.

    The clue to the Amazons is in the word Wabanaki my friend. The Mists of Barovia are dense and go on for a... . hundred yards, a mile, ten miles? Check out the Stephen King short story (and very cool film) "The Mist" *winks*

    Oh the joys of floatable sandboxes which you can anchor here, anchor there... those damn elusive planes ooops I mean places. “Is he in heaven, or is he in hell, that damned elusive Pimpernel.” Course, its fixed to Faerûn too: “Princes of the Apocalypse” “Lost Mine of Phandelver” “Out of the Abyss” etc etc. The beauty of dedicated rpg is in the adaptation of theme *grins*

    *Hands him a china cup* “more tea, dear chap?”

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