Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year's Tabletop

Just after the coming of the new year, the entire family decided that it would be a good time to play a Warmaster game. Our family gift was a copy of Settlers of Catan, but as much fun as that game is, there isn't the visual appeal that a tabletop game has. So out came our Warmaster armies. Katie and Rob fielded their High Elf and Dwarf armies respectively. Beth ran her Kislevites and I opted for something different. I'd been working on a project of building armies using a Warmaster varient I found on-line, using the rules to run English Civil War or Thirty-Year's War games. So I decided to field a historical Swedish TYW army. I would take no magic but would take a bishop/clergyman as a magic dispeller rather than a spell caster. The infantry were all pike-and-shot regiments with battalion gun attached to three units. (With the pikes present, the units counts as "protected" as they would if they were behind a wall, but not in a  fortification. Their opponent loses one die per stand when attacking.) There were also two Scots warbands of Highlanders. (Maybe not historical, but cool.) The cavalry were divided into two styles - Cuirassiers and 'Gallopers'. The Cuirassiers were heavy with armour but got no charge bonus, the Gallopers were more lightly armoured but received a double bonus (like chariots in Warmaster) since they gallop into melee. Both could shoot their pistols all around - 360 degrees. The cannon were smaller than the Empire cannon and the battalion guns were smaller yet. The only troops missing were the lightly armoured gallopers from Finland called Hakkipelli, who would be easily shot up but REALLY nasty in melee.
I wasn't sure how a "historical" army would do in the game, so this seemed a good time to find out.

The kids set up the game in the living room. The "Stonehenge" piece was a territorial
objective as a source of power or something like that.

The Kislevite Tsarina in her bear chariot. The game allows her to ride a sled or a horse,
but after seeing the Chronicles of Narnia a while back, we decided to do up this model.

Kislevite bears... nothin' special; just battle bears.

One of Rob's two Dwarven gun batteries.

One of Katie's two batteries of Elven multiple bolt throwers.

An Elven Dragon Rider and a Dwarven Gyrocoptor. I found the dragon model at a
bring-and-buy/flea market at a convention years ago and it works great. I have no idea
 of the manufacturer. Most of the figures are Games Workshop, Old Glory 10mm, or Pendrakon.

A Swedish Pike-and-shot regiment supporting two regiments of Scots Highlanders.
Two units of Silver Helm Elvish knights lead the attack. Behind them, Elven spears
cross the ford and Dwarven Troll Slayers prepare to sacrifice themselves for any
reason at all. If they are wiped out, the Dwarf player gets the victory points.

Elven Rever knights (horse archers) lead two units of Dwarf Warriors over the second ford.
On the other side of the stream, Elven archers, Dwarf Rangers, and the deadly and always
entertainly-erratic Flame Cannon. ("Will it toast my troops? Will it explode?")

Beth's Kislev knights/winged lancers charge the Silver Helms. Pendrakon's Polish
horse archers (in blue) and the Brown bear unit are in evidence.

The Elf-Dwarf Alliance's army advances over the stream.

Looks like the Kislevites have the Stonehenge! I faked it up using Crayola's white
modeling compound, Model Magic, letting it dry, painting it and setting it up on a base.
I'm rather pleased with it.
On my side of the battle field, Elven spears backed by Dwarf warriors cross the huge bridge.

Beth's Winged lancers and unwinged lancers (Pancerni, since you asked) charge
Dwarf axemen.

Katie's general on his pet dragon. That's iced tea in the background by the way.

"The spell's range is THIS much." Katie measuring the effect of her elven magic.
Her eagle unit is also to be seen flanking my Cuirassiers.

Swedish Galloper cavalry charge two units of Dwarves.
The small stand in the foreground is a battalion gun attached to the pike-and-shot
unit just off-camera.

Okay, it's entirely self-serving to make the photo of my Scots Brigade a large photo, but they look cool.
Scots charge with a +2 per stand rather than a +1 like regular folks, but they have no armour and they die like flies.
Dwarven Gyrocoptor  - Rob started the game with two and ended with none!

Katie's eagles flank my unit of Gallopers but are hit in turn by the remnants of
the Cuirassiers. The attack was a draw and the survivors on both sides retreated.

What was left of the Scots after being flanked by Elven archers and Dwarven rangers is
supported by the Yellow Regiment of Infantry. The Scots melted away before the Dwarves in
front of them and to their left. The Yellow Regiment was cut up too.

Kislevite axemen hold their ground.

Katie moves her troops "just there."
It took us three days to finish this battle. We started New Year's Eve, but Katie had to go to the Emergency Room at the local hospital because of a very painful abscessed tooth which needed really STRONG pain-killers. So we delayed the game. Then Rob came down with the 24-hour flu which left him utterly dragged out. We finally finished a day or two later. The Humans lost less than the Elf-Dwarf alliance and we held the Stonehenge, so we'll call it a human victory... no matter what the kids say. ("Would you like some cheese with that whine?")

I was pleased with the performance of the Swedes. The infantry had a slight advantage because of being counted as "protected" in melee. I felt this was a elegant solution, showing the shot sheltering behind the pikes. The Battalion guns were helpful but not too powerful. The big artillery were placed too far back to be of much use. The cavalry - Cuirassiers and Gallopers - proved their worth. The Gallopers are lighter but hit harder than the Cuirassiers. There's a third type - Trotters - that are armoured the same as Gallopers, but don't hit as hard, but are cheaper. The lightest horse - Hakkapelli, Croat Hussars, and true Cossacks - would have the least saving throw but would be fast and nasty. The Scots? Well, the Scots were expected to die in this game, but I had to see how they worked! The variant rules allow them to shoot once in a game, and then with one single die for the entire unit. Apparently  firearms were at a premium in the Highlands. I think this exercise proves that with a little finagling, a variant historical army could meet these fantasy armies on a field. The historical troops lack magic, monsters, and terrifying units, but they carry a lot of guns and the pike rule allows a mixed unit of pike and musket to stand toe-to-toe with Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, and what-ever other nightmares are out there.

In my opinion, Warmaster is the best game GW  produced. The fact that they no longer support it except for selling figures has saved it from the company's constant tinkering with the rules to better the game (or to make more money.) I don't think I'll start ancients armies but I now have a reason to paint up the scads of 10mm TYW/ECW troops I have in cold storage. They can fight each other AND stomp on Orcs!


  1. Darn you John,
    Now you make me want to take out my Warmaster Ancients figs and give them a go.

  2. Thanks for this excellent battle report! I've really enjoyed reading it.

    What figures have you used for the pike&shot and for the highlanders? Pendraken? They are brilliant!

    1. Good eye! Exactly right!
      Thanks for your feedback!