Battle of Devil's Cauldron

[From John Hills]

King Thunderbreath III stepped up onto the dais and surveyed the assembled masses before him. He briefly glanced back over his shoulder to where his own army of Hill Dwarves was assembled.

He still did not quite understand how it had come to this, but that was the Egyptians for you. The death of the old Pharaoh had lead to the usual round of assassin attacks, leading to the deaths of all bar one of his sons. That had seemed to settle the matter, until the young heir tripped as he walked up to take his throne. With his arms entangled in his robes, he was unable to break his own fall, hit the marble steps face first and was dead before even the Grand Visier could reach him.

The Kingdom was thrown into chaos, as the Royal Court tried to work out who the new Pharaoh should be. Eventually the shocking announcement came: the new Pharaoh would be the Hill Dwarf King, Thunderbreath.

So here he was, meeting his new army, before moving on to meet his new citizens. The Egyptian Grand Visier coughed gently, stirring him from his reverie.

"Greetings!" he shouted at the top of his voice. "It seems that I am your new ruler, so I had better introduce myself. I am Thunderbreath. You will find me a fair ruler. I won't interfere too much with how you do things here, but I will have to free the slaves."

The gathered throng gave a collective gasp.

"I won't want a pyramid to be buried in either, so you can spend the money from that on something more useful, like education and hospitals."

A confused babbling came from the ranks of the Egyptian army. Thunderbreath was pleased that his new followers were discussing his ideas. He gave them a few minutes to discuss it some more, before calling for silence.

"Finally, as I am at peace with the Lizardmen and Duckmen, this Kingdom is now at peace for the first time in living" -- he glanced at the mob of mummies standing to the left --"and possibly even non-living memory!"

The assembled army erupted into a riot of shouts and oaths. Thunderbreath did not catch much of what was said in the din, but he was sure he heard phrases such as "how will we reach the afterlife" and "damn pinko." It was not looking good. He turned to the Egyptian Visier.

"What did I say?"

"May I address them, Your Eminence?"

"Go ahead."

The Visier raised his staff, and the mob was instantly silent.

"Pray, be silent," he said.

Thunderbreath was amazed. The Visier spoke in a low voice, yet it seemed to travel across the circular valley in an almost magical way. Everyone in the valley could clearly hear each syllable of his speech.

"Our new leader is unfamiliar with our ways, so his ideas will naturally be strange to you. But he is our Pharaoh, so we must obey his laws, regardless of how they may affect our lives and religious beliefs. It is only to be expected that a foreigner will not rule in the same way as an Egyptian, such as myself, would rule. After all, I have been Grand Visier to 15 Pharaohs, who have, as you are all aware, all been wise, strong and ruthless rulers."

A soldier stepped forward from the ranks.

"We cannot live under these new laws! Why cannot YOU be Pharaoh?" he shouted.

The Visier looked shocked.

"Me?"

The army began to chant in unison "Pharaoh, Pharaoh".

The Visier thought for a moment.

"Well, after King Thunderbreath I AM next in line..."

Thunderbreath grabbed the Visier by the shoulder and turned him to face him.

"You want them? You can HAVE THEM! I don't want to rule a bunch of nutters like these!"

He turned, leaped onto the back of his great bear and rode off to join his own army, thinking only of spending some time with his friends, getting away from this hell hole that he had almost been ruler of. It was, however, not going to be that easy. He could hear the Visier 'talking' to his army, saying that anyone who refused the throne of Egypt should be tortured to death in the most horrible way. As his speech reached its climax, his voice became even more forceful.

"So you think you can leave, do you? You and your rag-tag gang will never leave the Devil's Cauldron, WILL THEY SHARAK?"

With that shout, the previously hidden army of Lizardmen moved onto the top of the ridge behind the Hill Dwarf army: the Hill Dwarves were trapped between a rock and a very hard place.

Silence settled over the valley, as the situation sank in.

"Shit," said Thunderbreath.

There was a shout from the far side of the valley, behind the Egyptians.

"Oi, Bad-breath! Mind if I gate-crash this party?"

It was Al Orange and his army of Duckmen! The Egyptians were now also trapped in the same way as the Hill Dwarves!


Order of Battle

All armies were 1000 points by my maths.

Hill Dwarves

Qty
Unit Type
Description
1 General
1 Level 1 Earth Shaman
1 Hero
1 Boar Rider Fanatics
1 Foot Fanatics
3 Handweapons
2 Heavy Crossbows
1 Spears
1 Heavy Artillery
2 Light Cavalry
2 Heavy Cavalry
1 Flying Heavy Cavalry
1 Flying Battlewagon
1 Lesser Spirit
1 Contraption
1 Trap

Ducks

Qty
Unit Type
Description
1 General
1 Bard
1 Hero With Exceptional Weapon
7 Beastmen
4 Beastmen With slings (shoot as Bows)
2 Large Monsters Hedgehogs
2 Small Monsters Unicorns

Lizardmen

Qty
Unit Type
Description
1 General
1 Level 1 Mage
1 Hero
2 Battlewagons - Giant Turtles
4 Spears
2 Heavy Cavalry
3 Flying Light Cavalry
3 Small Monsters
1 Trap

Egyptians

Qty
Unit Type
Description
1 General
1 Level 1 Cleric
1 Hero With Exceptional Weapon
2 Elite Light Chariots (as LC)
2 Light Chariots (as LC)
6 Spears
6 Bows
1 Elite Undead Handweapons
1 Handweapons
3 Flying Handweapons
1 Major Spirit
1 Trap


The Battle

King Thunderbreath quickly made his brave and ambitious plan. He would hold off the advance of the Egyptians with his infantry while smashing a hole in the Lizardman army with his Battlewagon, cavalry, and spirits.

The flying battlewagon began the attack by smashing straight into the Lizard general's turtle, which held firm, giving other lizard units the chance to surround and destroy the dwarf machine even before its fanatic marines had been able to disembark. This was a shattering blow to the dwarf plan, and the lizardmen pushed their advantage to full, surging forward to destroy dwarven cavalry and artillery in an orgy of death and destruction, which was not helped by the dwarf general and his bodyguard spending most of the game trying to escape the sticky tongue of a chamelion (trap).

Things seemed to be going better for the infantry, however. A charge by the Egyptian chariots, flying swordsmen and Bast initially resulted in the destruction of 3 of 4 chariots, but the ends of the line soon began to crumble under the pressure of the spirit and fliers. The last gallant dwarves here perished standing back to back fighting to the last.

This loss was too much for the few remaining dwarves -- Thunderbreath, the Shaman and the Hero joined the flying HC and headed for home.

The battle was not over yet, though. The Ducks had launched a swift attack on the rear of the Egyptian army, first overrunning a line of brave but doomed archers (with no space to avoid contact they were little more than speed-bumps in ponsey head-dresses), then crashing into the Egyptian spear line. At this point, Al Orange decided that it was time to go and see his mistress. The battle was, obviously, over and he was eager to spread the news of his victory. (i.e., John had promised to be home at 10 o'clock). At this point in the battle the Ducks had lost no troops and their morale clock was still on 9!

The battle against the Egyptian spears was short and deadly - the Ducks lost their first unit, but massacred many of the spearmen with the result that the remaining Egyptians fled the field.

This now left the still nearly unscathed Ducks facing the rather battered Lizardmen, whose Morale Clock was now at 3. It was now time for the final showdown.

The final battle began with a clash between the Ducks' Unicorns and some large lizards. Things went well at first and Lizardman Morale dropped even lower, but then they seemed to get a second wind, and the Unicorns were first driven back and eventually destroyed. Meanwhile, the Hedgehogs had been charged by the Turtle battlewagons.. This fight was on a knife edge for several turns, both sides losing a unit, while at the other end of the line the lizards were causing havoc among the duckmen. Duck morale was dropping quickly and it seemed that the lizardmen might pull off a great victory.

But it was not to be. The eventual loss of a turtle battlewagon and losses to the duck slingers forced the Lizardman Morale clock to zero, and the battle was over. It was incredibly close, though - the Duck morale clock was down to 2 at this point!


So what happened to the throne of Egypt? It was decided that the surviving Hedgehog would be crowned Pharoah. His first act was to summon all wheelwrights in the kingdom and have them crushed to death. This greatly pleased the people, as they were now happy that this was a ruler who would ensure them a place in the afterlife.


Comments

This was a low magic game. There were very few successfully cast spells. The big exception to this was that after a couple of turns the Egyptian player realised that if the Lizardmen drained the Dwarf army's mana, he could get in a Curse or two unopposed, which was very nasty when used against DDed Dwarf units....


Copyright © 1999 by Samuel Reynolds. All rights reserved. Last modified 1998/09/30.
Built with Frontier on Macintosh OS 9.0.4 on 2001/04/04.