The Chronicle of Rakarth Iceheart begins...
On a chilly autumn morning, a young peasant boy caught the terrifying sight of dozens of black sails off the coast of his home in Lyonesse. Alarmed, he turned and began to run back towards home to warn his village of the oncoming menace. The boy ran so hard that he could feel his heartbeat throbbing in his skull. Just then he felt as if a horse had kicked him in the chest and he was thrown on his back, all the air had been knocked out of his lungs. He was dizzy and confused when it seemed like the world around him began growing dark. He looked down at his chest and was horrified to discover three black crossbow bolts embedded in his torso. He tried to scream but he could not find the breath. The world went black.
Rhervehk, a brutal Dark Elf chieftan
Rhervekh strode out into the tall grass to examine the body of the peasant boy. His scouts made short work of the human child and ensured his master would make landfall undisturbed by the savage humans inhabiting this land. Rhervekh had made landfall on the shores of Brettonnia weeks ago with his advance party conducting reconnaissance and preparing for the arrival of Rakarth Iceheart and his host from the faraway land of Naggaroth. Rhervekh grinned as he imagined the horrors they would unleash upon the Old World. The Dark Elves had arrived....
Rakarth Iceheart leads his cohort of Helldrakes
Some of you may have followed my progress building my Dark Elf army over at The Old World Army Challenge last year. It was great project and got me excited for 3rd edition WHFB all over again. Almost a year ago I posted my first completed unit, Rhervek's Reavers, who would form the nucleus of a Dark Elf advance party landing in the Old World. I imagine that they arrived in the Old World in Brettonnia at a time when Orcs were rampaging across the realm. The turmoil spreading across the dukedoms would make it ripe for plunder and the taking of slaves. Enter Rakarth Iceheart.
The Army arrayed in all its glory
Rakarth Iceheart is a typical Dark Elf noble: cruel, sadistic, and hungry for power. No sooner did the last of his troops disembark from his ships did he begin raiding and pillaging the villages along the coast of Lyonesse. It was here that he would first spill blood in The Old World...
The early morning mist began to rise above the small Brettonnian trading village of Little Falls. Rakarth's spies had reported seeing merchants coming in to town for days, carrying wagons full of their wares. News of marauding Orc warbands had forced most of the unwary merchants to remain in the town and wait until the Orc menace had moved on. The trading posts were now full of plunder and the inns full of good slave stock. Rakarth has assembled his host and marched them into town with the dawn. As the morning mist rose Rakarth caught the unmistakable smell of greenskins... it appeared that he was not the only one who had been watching the town.
The Battle of Little Falls was fought at an Oldhammer In The New World event in Little Falls, NJ. The Orc menace was commanded by none other than the inimitable Anthony B. We decided beforehand that we would play 5 turns using victory points to determine the winner. Whoever killed the most would win - the only proper way to win!
Knowing that I would be well outnumbered, I decided my best bet was to take advantage of the geography and set up my forces to try and channel Anthony's hordes of Orcs and Gobbos into confined spaces where he would not be able to bring his superior numbers to bear. I set up my repeater bolt throwers on either of my flanks and my crossbows in the center backed up by a Hydra, a unit of warriors and a unit of Witch Elves. The plan was to bait the orcs in with my missile troops and the counter charge them with my infantry and cavalry. On the left flank, I set up a rock solid unit of Helldrakes commanded by Rakarth himself!
Turn one showing the initial deployment
The battle proceeded according to plan. The Hydra and warriors moved forward, using a building as cover while the missile troops rained arrows down on the Orc horde, causing some minor casualties. The Orcs moved forward towards the source of the annoyance.
Orc and Gobbo cavalry charge towards Dark Elf lines
Soon we would see the Hydra employ its nasty breath weapon. I had rolled up the Hydra profile before the game began and got Hydra 3 with Dessication breath, which caused an automatic 2D6 S3 hits with no saving throw allowed. NASTY! The goblin wolf riders on the right flank took the worst of the Hyrda's breath weapon when they got too close to it in a bid to attack the crossbow regiment. On the left flank the Orc general crossed the stream and positioned himself for a charge against the 2 bolt throwers on the far bank. The goblin wolf riders on the left charged at the Dark Elf scouts, which caused the skirmishers to run away.
The Orcs move forward under a withering barrage of Dark Elf missile fire
The Orc general makes quick work of the bolt throwers battery
After sustaining debilitating casualties from the combined fury of the Hyrdra the crossbows and the repeater bolt throwers, the goblin wolf riders rolled out of the way of Ruglud's Armored Orcs who would then charge the Hydra. The ensuing rounds of combat saw the Orcs drive the Hydra back, their halbreds proved invaluable in combat against the hydra's high toughness. Just as the Orcs looked like they would prevail against the hydra, the Dark Elf warriors joined the fray.
The Orc warriors charge the fearsome Hydra
On the left flank, the Orc General made quick work of the bolt thrower crews, but was then countercharged by Rakarth and his unit of Helldrakes. Rakarth and the Orc general fought a dramatic challenge, but Rakarth prevailed in the end. The Helldrakes won their first round of combat and the Orcs were forced to flee off the table! The fear-causing cold ones had triggered and automatic rout. With the Dark Elf warriors joining the combat between the Hydra and Orcs, things turned in the Dark Elves favor and the Orcs were forced to rout.
Rakarth and the Orc general clash!
The Dark Elves have all but swept the Orcs off the field
By turn five the Orc boar riders on the right flank had broken through and had been charged by the regiment of Witch Elves, but it was too late in the game to save the Orc army. The Helldrakes had all but cleared up the left flank, and the Hydra and Warriors had driven the Orc infantry off the table. Given one more turn, the Orc boar riders would have made quick work of the Witch Elves and crossbows, but the battle was all but over.
Overall it was a great game! My strategy to lure the orcs in with annoying missile fire and then counter charging paid off in the end. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't get the Witch Elves to frenzy. I've played about a dozen games with the Witch Elves and have yet to get them to frenzy successfully. One day I will get it to work. Having to contend with the higher Orc toughness was a bit of a challenge, so having the Hydra was a life saver. Having two units that cause fear also proved invaluable against a numerically superior force as it allowed my Helldrakes to drive a rock solid unit of Orc Gruntas off the table which freed them unit to collapse the Orc flank. On a final note this game really helped stoke my enthusiasm for 3rd edition. I believe future games will become more fluid as I become more and more familiar with the rules.
Stay tuned for more fantasy gaming as the Chronicle of Rakarth Iceheart continues to unfold on the table top!