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Battle of Egredy Inn 1999pts Illustrated Bat Rep [DoW vs Dw]

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Padre:
Lifted from the Ex-Province of Solland thread, part of the ongoing story campaign there.

Prologue - The road to Waldbach, Wissenland, Summer IC2524

In the dying light of evening, at the crossroads just north of Pahl, Thane Forkbeard gathered his veterans and ironbeards around him. Upon the road, his baggage train of mules, wagons and warmachines streamed past while two local dwarfs (who had lived amongst men as long as they could remember - which was a long time) came out to cheer their cousins along.

Famed for his blonde locks and beard, fashioned appropriately to suit his name, Forkbeard had unsheathed his sword and held it aloft to signal silence and that he was about to talk war. The local Solland scout stood by Thane Forkbeard's side, having described what lay ahead in the most detail he could, and now Forkbeard intended to pass that intelligence on to his warriors.

They listened obediently to all that was said of hills and swamp, villages and forest, but then their interest suddenly doubled when they heard Forkbeard announce that the Black Company, the villainous dogs who had butchered their kin in the mountain passes, were ahead and would be their enemy in the morrow. Their faces showed their true feelings, for on each was writ a stern expression revealing a wholehearted and unstoppable intent to exact cruelly appropriate vengeance upon the foe.




The Battle - Egredy Inn      Part One 
Near to Waldbach

Captain Carlos Atobello, paymaster to the Black Company, marched with his bodyguard of halberdiers at the heart of the column. He was clad in his full armour, and so the journey was heavy work, but he chose to march rather than ride so that he could be with these his most loyal men, who had a personal bond with him. While a soldier behind him carried his helmet, which was some relief, he was free to twiddle his large Tilean moustachios as he walked - out of old habit rather than nervousness.

Not everyone, however, was as calm as he. Beside him was a trumpeter, the youngest soldier in the regiment, perhaps the youngest in this whole brigade. Carlos could see the man was trying to hide his fear, and for a moment or two he considered what it was that he  could be afraid of. This brigade was strong enough, surely, to handle anything the Sollanders could muster to send against it? He had two regiments of veteran pikemen, both at full strength, and although not as experienced or battle worthy as the Don’s two favourite regiments (the Resplendente and Instancabile) they were toughened warriors who had fought in several campaigns. He had two companies of heavy cavalry, two regiments of crossbowmen, some duellists and some light horse, and though yet again these were not the Don’s elite units they were certainly a force to be reckoned with. Maybe the young man did not believe that? Or maybe he did not like being under Carlos’ command and would prefer the Don himself were here?

In the end, Carlos decided that the young soldier was probably afraid because they were out ahead of the main force, as far from home (whichever place he thought of as ‘home’) as they had ever been. Carlos chose not to linger upon that thought however, but simply said to himself that someone had to be in the vanguard, and today it was he.

They had marched around Waldbach, having gained intelligence that an enemy force approached the town. Considering that gaining access to the town might take a little time, if only to come to some sort of agreement with the locals, Carlos had decided to postpone that particular business. He did not want to be caught outside Waldbach by the enemy, especially if the town’s militia might well take it as a sign to ally with the Sollanders and sally forth to attack him from behind. So he had abandoned his artillery train to look to themselves for a while and with the rest of his much more mobile troops half-circumnavigated the town. Now he moved along the road to the west of it, directly towards the advancing foe. He was convinced this should be something the enemy could not possibly expect, for they would surely assume he would attempt to take possession of the town? Thus he hoped he might gain the element of surprise.

His light horse came up on the flank and trotted alongside the guard. Their leader jumped down from the saddle to describe the land ahead, between them and the foe. He told of woods to the right, though not at all thick or extensive, more a few scattered copses of trees than a forest; the road being walled for some distance yet; small enclosed fields for the penning of livestock; and an inn of some size, called Egredy - not fortified but a substantial structure surrounding a courtyard.



Good enough, thought Carlos, or at least no worse and no different to much of the terrain they had so far encountered in Wissenland.

Within moments Carlos ordered the trumpeter to blast a call for his officers to attend him and confer, and within minutes they also had their orders: the two pike regiments would form a vanguard to the north of the road, while the Lancers moved along the edge of the wooded area to protect the flank and launch a charge when they could. The light horse would guard the far southern flank (the left), while the only unit on the road (where the enemy might expect them) would be the skirmishing duellists, certainly able to get off the road if it might prove too hazardous. Meanwhile the rest of the force would form a rearguard and move a little more cautiously, ready to advance exactly where they were needed once the enemy's formation was known.



NB: Scenario rules reflected the forming from column of both sides by allowing only half the units (rounded up or down, player’s choice) to deploy. The other half would come on from their own table edge in turn two.

Two things Carlos did not know were firstly that the enemy were not the Sollanders of Uryens de Crux he expected but their dwarfen allies, who had a burning hatred of the Black Company for deeds done as they passed through the mountains; and secondly that the enemy knew full well they were coming. Thane Forkbeard commanded the dwarven force, but as well as dwarves he had a handful of local men, militia and archers, guiding him through the land and acting as incredibly able scouts. They knew the land and its inhabitants well, and thus informed the thane of the Black Company’s approach. He thus ordered his artillery to be placed as best they could beside the road, and arrayed his handgun and crossbow regiments so that they might pour lead and steel-tipped bolts at any who approached.

Apart from his own Ironbreakers, however, he ordered the men and his two other fighting regiments to form a rearguard. If the foe could dance around a town then they might try to dance around him. Only when battle was properly begun and their help was needed would he risk bringing them forward.



Upon Thane Forkbeard’s left his engineer found a good spot to quickly entrench the cannon, using the muscle of the Quarrelers. Once done, they themselves formed up ready right by the hastily made earth and stone work they had fashioned.



While Carlos played safe and took his place in the rearguard, his second in command, one Captain De Bordon, though a Bretonnian outcast of considerable years, trotted on with his mercenary Lancers, quickly finding himself much forwards of the rest of the mercenary vanguard.



Upon the other flank, the Light Horse, more out of curiosity than impetuosity, also moved quickly up, skirting the Inn which blocked their view of the enemy to come galloping around its left towards the centre of the field. There they found themselves facing a bolt thrower and a regiment of handgunners. There was the briefest of moments where a good half of them hesitated, as men (not horses) baulked at the likely outcome of their advance, but then remembering that hesitation could prove a unit’s undoing in battle, they prepared to charge.



They soon learned that their initial doubt was well founded, for a volley of bullets and two bolts were unleashed at them and five were bloodily unhorsed. The remaining three were stunned, but did not flee. Perhaps they thought if they turned they would suffer the same fate before they could get away? Or perhaps they just thought 'To hell with it'? But they decided they would charge anyway.

The dwarfen cannon proved accurate in its first shot and felled one of the Lancers. But nothing else the dwarves unleashed harmed anything. In truth, many dwarves still had nothing to target and were forced to bide their time.

Padre:
Part Two

Now the Black company rearguard entered the field, crossbow, lancers and Carlos with his guard. Every one moved as far as they could, for the sound of gunfire and cannons made them only too aware that the vanguard would need support.



As they did so, the three surviving Light Horse went for the only target they felt they had a chance of defeating and charged at the bolt thrower to the Thunderers’ right. Two spears found their mark, slaying a brace of the crew, then the three riders leapt over the machine to run down the last crewman, and (perhaps more importantly) put themselves were they thought they would be out of harm’s way.



The newly arrived rearguard Lancers rode speedily forwards so that they soon presented a solid front with the advancing pike of the vanguard, and impressive enough sight, were it not that an enclosed field was standing right before them and would surely thus force their formation to have a short life!



None of the Black Company’s crossbow could yet engage the foe, and in truth Carlos now realised that by keeping them close to him he had probably wasted their potential. Still, he thought, if they can’t shoot, then they can come up and fight instead.

Behind the dwarfen guns and machines, their own rearguard marched up. The Empire archers surprised the surviving Black Company Light Horsemen by suddenly appearing before them, ten arrows notched in ten bows and about to be unleashed straight at them. To the archers’ left marched up the Empire Free Company, all local Solland sympathisers, then on the far left came the last two Dwarven fighting regiments, led by the army standard bearer and advancing to support their Thane.


The cannon now brought down another Lancer, while the archers killed two of the Light Horse and scared the last remaining rider away! Both regiments of Thunderers targeted the duellists creeping up the road between them, and when three spun to the ground the rest stumbled backwards, falling away in shock.

The Solland militia, who could see this, began cheering. In truth, they had been unsure about their allies, these mountain dwarfs, but now those uncertainties were washed away by sulphurous smoke and the Black Company's blood. They cheered the dwarfs, most crying ‘Huzzah!’ and ‘For Solland!’, while one gruff voice said “Good shot”. They were beginning to realise that these dwarfs knew what they were doing.



Captain De Bordon wondered whether there was any sensible purpose to being this far forward of the lines, but knowing that now he was there he had to act fast or be cut down by missiles, he ordered his Lancers charged into the Dwarf Quarrelers. One Lancer crashed to the ground when the Dwarfs shot into them, but the Lancers reached the foe to kill the unit champion and another. They soon learned, to their surprise, that the Dwarfs had not come to this field to do anything but fight, and the Quarrelers stood their ground to fight on, which meant that moments later Thane Forkbeard and his Ironbreakers could crash into the Lancers’ flank with a cry of ‘Vengeance’.



The second unit of Lancers were moving up on the other side of the field, unwilling to hold back so as to stay in line with the pikemen, yet also wholly aware that they were facing a potential crossfire from two regiments of Thunderers. If they could time their charge right, however, they might disrupt the enemy lines just in time to allow the massed foot behind them to get in and finish the foe off. Their worst fears then came true and more, however, for when the dwarven handgunners and one of the bolt throwers let loose at them five of their number fell, leaving only one solitary, stunned Lancer.

And this was not the only unit of Lancers to be mauled at that moment, as Thane Forkbeard and his Ironbreakers brought down two of De Bordon’s Company and then the Quarrelers chased the remaining few, including Captain De Bordon himself, right off the field. This left but one lone Lancer as the mounted arm of the Black Company. Carlos Atabello was ignorant to the fate of his horse, however, because the Pike regiment stood in his way so that he could see nothing of the field of battle.

The last Lancer, perhaps simply to avoid a pointless death by bullets, charged into the crew of the Organ gun. He and they would fight on for sometime while the battle continued around them, neither side able to harm the other.



All the five remaining regiments of Black Company foot could do was advance, an unnerving exercise considering that they had to step over the fallen bodies of armoured Lancers and watch as crazed and wounded horses ran past them. The pikemen on the far right could see that they too were heading towards a deadly arc of Dwarfs, with no other Black Company men to support them, apart from the two shuffling Crossbow companies moving up behind them, still uncertain of their role in this battle.



The Dwarven Quarrelers reformed so that both they and the cannon could bring their ranged weapons to bear, and a terrible calm settled on them as they awaited the arrival of the next foe to be blasted. When the cannon did fire, commanded by the engineer, its ball ploughed through five of the pikemen, killing all instantly. More soldiers, Duellists and pikemen, fell to the Thunderers’ volleys elsewhere on the field.

Desperate, the Black Company pikemen moved towards the Thane, hoping that they might draw him on with jeers and shouts to charge their hedge of steel tips. This way they could fight dwarfs that they could reach and not have to face another withering blast from the cannon.



Only one dwarf fell as the Black Company Crossbowmen finally found themselves able to shoot, but his death, and the taunts of the pikemen were not enough to make Thane Forkbeard abandon his calm and calculated approach to dealing with this foe. Why bring cannons and crossbows if not to use them? He stood and watched, coldly determining that he would let these men receive one more bloody volley before he unleashed the sword-dwarves against them.

It so transpired that the dwarven swords would not be necessary, for when six more pikemen fell screaming to another cannon ball and several quarrels, the entire regiment broke and fled, scrabbling over the hedge by their side to run pell mell through the little field in panic.



As they ran, three pikemen from the other regiment were felled by bullets, the last of the Duellists were shot and five of Carlos’ Bodyguard also tumbled to the ground. The paymaster was now definitely unnerved: Were all his horse lost? Were those pike tips he could see over the hedge, running in the wrong direction? Was there any way to turn this battle or had he already been defeated before he had personally even seen the foe?

It was to prove so - he never did see the enemy. When the pikemen ahead of him desperately charged the Dwarfen Thunderers they were met with a potent countershot which so panicked them that their charge was not driven home. They turned to join the other fleeing pikemen frantically dashing away from the enemy, and when they thus crashed into the Paymaster and his Bodyguard behind, that regiment also broke and ran. A panic fear had overwhelmed the Black Company, and all but the Crossbowmen could think of nothing else but to run, run, run.



At the head of his army (where every leader should be?) ran Carlos. Breathless and bewildered, he was already he was thinking how he would explain his defeat to the Don: not how many men he could save; not whether he could rally enough to take the town and thus fortify themselves; but how he would stand before Don Matthias to describe his failure. Maybe if he could get to the artillery and at least escort that back to the main force, then his master might be more forgiving. That was the best he could think to do and, still running faster than all those around him, he decided it was indeed what he would do.



Thane Forkbeard stood as if in a daze. This foe were meant to be the men who had butchered Dwarfs in the pass, yet here they ran like cowards and levies in the face of a little gunpowder. Hardly a dwarf had fallen, while the Black Company’s dead and dying littered the field before him. Perhaps they were the archetypal bullies, cruel and threatening in the face of weakness, but when up against a ready and willing foe, they became fearful wretches?



He waved his sword and shouted his command: “On to Waldbach.”

And that is what the Dwarfs did.

Padre:
Game notes:

A short battle. Against a player who's more used to Dark Elves of all things, though has commanded DoW in campaigns on several occasions. Maybe the shortness was because we had no magic?

I thought it would be unfair (if fluffy) that the Black Company would have no artillery, being a quick moving column, against such a strongly missile army - which is why I made the terrain so cluttered and gave them three units of horse and one of skirmishers. So terrain and mobility favoured them, guns favoured the dwarfs. Not only was such terrain appropriate for the area, but would give the vastly quicker Black Company troops plenty of cover if they were clever enough to use it.

They weren't!

Admittedly they avoided the organ gun (no mean feat, even though I couldn't find a good place to put it). But once again this player divided his strength and arrived before the bullets, balls and bolts in little packets to be butchered in turn. The three Horse units could have come hurtling around the left side of the inn and out-flanked the dwarf line, forcing the rearguard to deploy there and thus blocking the missile troops' line of fire. On the other flank they could have deployed a long screen of crossbowmen (they had 28 all told) and thus kept the dwarfen missile troops busy. Meanwhile the massed foot could have come down the centre hopefully to take on the dwarfs just as the horse were weakening. Well, that's what I would have done.

At the start I thought the Black Co were odds on, and was itching to command them, but I wanted the other player to command troops he was used to, rather than dwarves who he has bever commanded.

It was a neat little game, kind of 'believable'. We didn't tot up VP as there was no need. It was obviously a massacre - 4 units wiped out (including 2elite Horse and a captain), 3 fleeing (including another captain) and only 2 still operating, against the loss of one Bolt Thrower at a measly 45 pnts and I believe only 4 other dwarfs!

Inarticulate:
A black day for the Black Company. I'm definitely demoting that General to garrison duty!

Uryens de Crux:
Finally, a proper result against them

Shows that happens when a proper army has a crack, not one diluted with poxy ogres.

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