The General Archive > The Battleground

Another (illustrated) A3 Campaign Battle


Blame Kriegspiel for saying he wanted to hear more of Rembrandt's adventures ....

Rembrandt's Third Battle

Rembrandt van Haagen had spent an entire week upon his flagship, the Swiftsure, conducting the business of war from his great cabin below the poop deck and steerage. He had received his officers there, both Empire men and mercenaries, and entertained them with fine suppers while they gave their reports and made their suggestions. He spent hours at a time perusing his rutters and charts, as well as the most recent map of Araby he could obtain in Marienburg before he set out upon this venture.

He kept himself busy.

Then at night the terrors came, the sweats and the nightmares. He would wake screaming, or sobbing, from a dream of crawling through the dead and the dying, their weak hands clutching at him for aid, slowing him down, while awful and mighty deamons marched relentlessly on, getting ever closer.

None of the officers talked about his troubles with him – they knew he was young, that he was proud, most importantly that he was their employer and master. It was not for them to question their young commander’s methods. Nor were they particularly keen to share his nightmares with him.

Of course it could not go on indefinitely. He needed to land his men again, or forever lose his nerve. He needed to taste victory in battle, and by leading his soldiers regain their respect and their full obedience. There were rumours that upon many ships the soldiers and seamen alike had taken to gambling, drinking and singing away the days. They practised their postures ever less, and the trim of the ships was left to look after itself. The powder in the budge barrels would separate soon and become useless, and worse, ship’s fever or the scurvy could set in and maim his force. Several soldiers had succumbed to the bloody flux – more would surely follow if they were kept confined to the anchored ships.

And so, reluctantly (but hiding that fact), Rembrandt gave the order to weigh anchors and set sail – they were to attack a place carefully chosen by him, and thought to be in the possession of the Arabyan Reclamation Pact. Bretonnians and arabs would be the foe this time, and not the legion of hell who had chased Rembrandt’s force back to the sea a little over a week ago.

Three days later, Rembrandt marched at the head of his Swordsmen, cheerful enough to even join in their battle songs:

“Men of the Empire, march to war
For great Sigmar and the rule of Law.
Bring shield and sword, bring gun and spear,
Bring stout hearts and let go of fear …”

These last words made Rembrandt think. Here he was, leading his men, but why did he chose this particular regiment? The largest, most experienced, most loyal of his soldiers? Fear was the answer, for with these men he felt safer than he would with any other company. Furthermore, though even he was not conscious of this intent, he would ensure that he and this company stayed out of the fight.

The enemies drums and horns could be heard, though the heat haze concealed them from Rembrandt’s eyes. The field of battle would be beside a small desert village, for it was there that the enemy had arrayed themselves.

Rembrandt’s scouts, the Rangers, moved forward of his force and occupied some ruins to the right. When they fired three muskets as a prearranged signal, Rembrandt knew to array his men ready for battle. He wished Roderick were here to see to this business, but the old officer never made it off the beach a week ago, and so his officers would have to organise themselves according to Rembrandt’s earlier instructions.

The main mass of foot regiments once again took to the centre of the field, though this time spaced a little further apart. The wizard moved with the Blades to protect the right flank, while two detachments of handgunners prepared their pieces for the hot work ahead.

The Marienburger’s artillery set up upon a dune to the far left, with the Sharpshooters by their side and a company of skirmishing bowmen to act as an artillery guard of sorts.

The enemy was a mixed force of Bretonnians and Arabs, with two bodies of knights (one being Questing Knights), two companies of archers (Bretonnian and Arabyan slaves), a regiment of local conscript spears, another of northern men at arms, and a war elephant of mighty proportions.

Rembrandt almost froze in fear when he first glimpsed the giant beast, as in that moment he thought it to be the Lord of Nurgle who had so broken his spirit and sapped his courage a week before. Yet even when he realised this was no unworldly monster he did not feel particularly reassured. He sent a runner immediately to his gunners – they must, and as soon as possible, fell that beast.

Upon the dune behind the enemies massed archers stood a primitive war machine the Bretonnians called a trebuchet, it’s crew having already lugged great pieces of stone from the ruins the previous night to provide ammunition.

Out on the far right of the Bretonnian lines, trying to conceal their bulk between the houses of the little village, were Arabyan camel riders – an enemy none in the Empire ranks had faced before.

The Empire men’s bombardment opened the battle once more and two direct hits upon the elephant felled the beast before it had even taken a step towards them. A great cheer erupted from Rembrandt’s men, as all were relieved that the beast would not act the part of the giant demon the week before. But one man was not cheering – rather he was screaming. The wizard Kerrkegrad had fumbled his first incantation and miscast the mighty spell. His body was wracked with pain as his mind fragmented just enough for him to lose all knowledge of the spell he had just attempted to wield. Now no magical lightning would play upon the foe in this battle.

Unnoticed by most men in the army, another early blow was delivered to the foe, as the four sharpshooters felled the enemy’s army standard bearer, a paladin riding with the Knights of the Realm.

This was a good start to the fight. Yet the enemy still came on, even while the army standard lay in the sand and the war elephant’s crew fled their mount’s bloodied corpse.

The Questing Knights came on obliquely, angling towards the centre of Rembrandt’s lines, while upon the far side of the field a huge piece of masonry crushed one of the cannons, destroying it even while the crew were still celebrating their hit upon the elephant!

The Rangers made a little move forwards in the ruins so that they could better aim at the enemy knights, expertly loading their pieces even as they moved. To their left the blades ran up to bring their pistols to bear upon the same knights, while the wizard hid himself away in the house by the ruins to nurse his wounds.

The bowmen killed two camel riders, while the Sharpshooters blew a Knight of the Realm off his mount. But other than that, there was little effect upon the enemy – even the Rangers failed to harm the Questing Knights. The pikemen moved a little forwards to prepare for the fight, while Rembrandt shifted his own regiment a little to one side (to give them something to do, perhaps).

When the next withering volley of gunfire and arrows assailed the camel riders it was too much for them and they panicked and fled back towards the safety of the buildings.

Finally, in the centre of the field, the knights reached the Empire lines, charging into the Free Company (with its Merchant Marine captain urging his men to stand) and the Marine Blades (who bravely counter-fired to kill one of the knights as they neared).

Only the Bretonnian Lord, a sun-addled Baron who loathed this open oven of a realm, the Paladin and two of the Questing knights remained to deliver their charge. The Blades, not realising just how adept at combat these seasoned warriors would prove, nor how tough their armour made them, were at first keen to enter the melee. This enthusiasm mean that even though five of them died almost immediately, including the First Blade, they fought on.

In the other knightly combat, seven sailors of the free Company would fall, nearly half trampled underfoot by the Bretonnian destriers. This was too much to bear and they broke and ran right off the field of battle, the knights racing them off the field. The pikes used the opportunity to advance, hoping to charge the Questing knights without revealing their own flank to the enemy foot soldiers, while the swordsmen turned to ready themselves for the certain return of the knights.

Upon the dune to the left the last of the two cannons exploded as the gunners made some fatal error in loading her. This almost put the archers off their aim, but they still managed to kill two more of the now rallied camel riders. The desert riders were beginning to wonder if they would ever reach the foe. But now it was the Bretonnian Lord’s turn to succeed as he and his last remaining pair of companions slew enough of the Blades to send them flying away. Crucially, and very dangerously for the pikemen, the old Baron ordered his little body to stand and not to pursue – they would instead ready to hurl themselves into the flank of the huge body of pike advancing to their right.

This was what Ricco, who commanded the pike even though he was still showing visible signs of the wounds he received the previous week, was trying to avoid. He had presumed that Questing knights would pursue a defeated foe, and thus put themselves where they could not harm his men. This was to prove a costly mistake indeed. His soldiers could not possibly reform in time to bring their deadly forest of steel tipped pikes to bear. As his position became clear to him, Ricco cursed audibly,

“Must this happen to us time and time again. Curse these sands, curse these hellish lands.” Then, in earnest, he whispered, “Myrmidia, grant me victory.”

When the charge came, the polearm armed peasants nearby, though close enough to join their masters in charging the pikemen, held back. They knew that should they hit the pikes then the combat might indeed be lost, for the pike would be able to bring more of their weapons to bear. Wisely, they chose to stand and watch the bloody fight as the noble knights thrust their lances deep into the ranks and files of the Tilean mercenaries, breaking their formation utterly and routing them immediately. The peasants cheered to see the pikemen scattered and ridden down. They didn't know it, but they had just witnessed the very end of the world famous Ricco’s regiment.

Far to the right of the Bretonnian Lord the last of the Camel Riders halted in the village once more – having run there merely to keep the standard safe and not to let the enemy have the satisfaction of killing every last one of his band!

Then came a strange coincidence. The Arabyan Mystic stumbled over the words of a powerful spell and unleashed its full fury upon himself instead of the enemy. Magically sapped of all strength, he collapsed lifeless onto the sand. Moments later the Bretonnian peasant bowmen saw the Empire wizard fleeing from the house he had been hiding in, having  been panicked by the flight of the Blades from the Baron and his Paladin. Grinning, the peasants unleashed a rain of arrows and skewered him from head to toe, killing him even more quickly than the miscast spell had killed their own allied wizard.

The Bretonnian Lord and his two companions now found themselves in front of sixteen Handgunners in two detatchments, with the Sharpshooters and Rangers moving just enough to target them two. The torrent of missile tore the last remaining Questing Knight out of his saddle, but the Lord and Paladin’s blessing, gifted by their goddess, protected the others. Not that they appreciated it, for fear now momentarily gripped them and they turned to run – at least far enough (they thought) to save themselves from another such attack.

In doing so, however, the Lady’s Blessing turned sour. She loathes the timorous and cowardly, and loves only those who are steadfast in their proud bravery. The two Bretonnians rallied and turned to face the foe once more, only to find that they were still in range of nearly all the missile troops who had enjoyed the first shot upon them. This time both would receive a wound, as their magical shield had been taken from them, and they would end this battle nursing grievous wounds but still in their saddles.

As the Knights of the Realm wasted their time chasing the Sharpshooters from the field on the far up and over the dune where the cannons had once stood, the two foot regiments of the ARP centre finally launched their charge. Maimed first by the counterfire of the handgunners, they then discovered the true mettle of their foe, as both small detachments stood their ground and held them back.

As the battle drew to a stalemated close, the harsh desert light fading fast, Rembrandt looked on from behind the handgunners, still surrounded by his guard of swordsmen. He hadn’t drawn his sword, nor fired his pistol, but he cared not. He hadn’t even won the battle, but he was not downhearted. After the terrors of his previous encounter, and the disappointment of his second detached landing party’s efforts, it felt good simply not to lose.

The tide was turning. Manaan be praised. Rembrandt was ready now to embrace this war and lead his men to victory.

Result: Draw (231 to the Bretonnians in a 2000 point game).

Von Kurst:
Some day an elephant will make it into combat!

Great report Padre, aka van Haagen!  I love to see all the minis you have available to you and your scenery collection as well.

js :::cheers:::


Another great report there Padre - action and incident packed - and this one even had a song !!

Looking forward to seeing if Rembrandt gets his nerve back .

Karl Voss of Averland:
You and your toys....

Well done as usual!



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