Orcs in the Land of the Dead

[From Eric Reel]

The First Filth War (see Orcs vs Slime) had not gone well for the orcs. Aided by huge extradimensional monsters, hordes of giant rats, and fly swarms, Filth Army Group Centre had driven the Orcs back in disarray. Down, but not out, the Orcs retreated to the ancient Western Lands in order to regroup and organize a counterstrike. Too bad they forgot that the road to the Western Lands leads through the Land of the Dead...

The Armies:


Unit Type
2 Elite Undead Handweapon Reaper 15mm undead w/polearm
2 Undead Pike Reaper 15mm undead w/polearm
4 Undead Bow Ral Partha 15mm Skeletal Archers
(attached to above units)
4 Undead Heavy cav. Ral Partha 15mm Skeletal Cavalry
2 Undead small monster Grenadier Nightmares 'Death Dogs'
1 Undead general RP 15mm skel cav banner bearer
necromancer, magic-ward, taunt
1 Undead hero GW 'Scarecrow' chaos familiar
1 Undead hero GW 'Skeletal' chaos familiar
1 Undead hero RP 15mm skel cav champion
7 Traps (pieces of paper with the letter T)


Unit Type
2 Small Monster GW Cave Squigs
2 Battlewagon 1 scratch build, 1x Reaper goblin wagon
2 Flying battlewagon scratch builds, look like flying ships
8 Light cavalry Reaper goblin wolf riders
1 Large monster GW 28mm warboar
1 Hero GW snotling w/wrench riding LM
1 General GW snotling
1 Wizard GW snotling

Army Selection Digression:

I figured the orcs would probably take a highly mobile army consisting of lots of light cav, two large monsters, and a couple of flying BWs (hell, it's what I would have taken). I considered fighting fire with fire and taking an army consisting of greater spirits, undead HC, and undead SMs, but I figured the GS would be too fragile and the orcs would still be able to out maneuver the rest of my army. Then I figured, perhaps I could make the orcs' mobility work against them. If I played my cards right, it might even allow me to field infantry units effectively! The plan was as follows: put two magic-warded taunters in the pike units (general in one, two heroes in the other), supported on both sides with the HWs. SM and HC units would shield my flanks from a missile assault by the LC units. Traps would be used to immobilize most of the enemy heavy hitters while taunting one or two per turn into my pike trap. Voodoo Curse would also be very useful against these fast and hard hitting units.

The Battle

The orcs deployed first, placing the battlewagons in the center, the LM and three LC on the left flank, and the general, wizard, and 5 LC units on the right.

The undead battleline deployed center, two HC and the hero w/ x-weapon guarded the left, while the remaining two SM and two HC units guarded the right.

The first 3 turns consisted largely of maneuver and sparring. I kept dragging flying battle wagons and LC units into the pike units, usually to have them disengage or be saved by Fly spells. The right flank stalemated, both sides staying at just over 5". The little bowfire that did occur was largely ineffective. The LM was trapped on the second turn and stayed that way until almost end game. Finally the Orcs were able to charge the left HC units with a battle wagon and small monsters, resulting in both HC units dying and the hero being captured. The orc units had the initiative and were closing in for the kill, only to halt in confusion as they were assailed by the spirits of the dead (i.e. traps). 3 BWs and 2 SMs were trapped, the remaining BW was dragged into the pike trap and destroyed. As luck would have it, two of the BWs and one of the SMs were demoralized due to various skirmishes (some with their own troops courtesy of Voodoo Hex), and undead was able to destroy two with the delightful Apparition spell.

The initiative regained, the undead right flank, which had advanced about 5" ahead and to the right of the main battleline, began moving back towards the center, being careful to stay out of bow range of the orc LC. The orc SMs managed to clear their traps, only to be dragged into combat on their next phase with the pikes. One SM died freeing the captured undead hero, but the other managed to hold its own, suffering only a demoralize. An orc LC unit and the flying battle wagon charged one of the undead HCs, while the other LCs moved into bowshot range on the one of the undead SMs.

So began two bizzare battles. In the center, the undead pike unit + general + hero w/X-weapon was locked in combat with the Orc SM. The undead SM was within charge range, but since the Orc SM would have to turn to face (higher unmodifed CF), it was actually disadvantageous to bring the undead SM into the combat (the pike unit had a +8 CF modifier). Instead, the undead SM moved directly behind and .25" away from the Orc SM. This would maximize the Undead CF for the fight and ensure that the Orc SM would die on a Double Demoralize, which is exactly what happened.

On the right, the second undead SM died from concentrated bowfire, while Voodoo Hex was used to 'friendlify' the flying battlewagon in the orc phase, reducing the battle to a one one one between the Orc LC and the undead HC. The orcs failed a fear test, but won the combat, inflicting a demoralize that was autorallied in the next phase. Subsequent attempts to Voodoo Hex the battlewagon in the undead phase failed, but the undead were able to summon an undead bow unit to attack the rear of the Orc LC. After turning to face it was Bow vs LC, HC vs Battlewagon. The orc LC was DD (and thus destroyed), while the Orc BW easily crushed the undead HC unit.

While this second battle had been going on, the undead battline began shuffling itself around to face the Orc Battlewagon, with all undead characters jumping into the same pike unit. By the time the next orc phase came around and the battlewagon was free to move, the move was half complete and the orc BW was subsequently taunted into the heavily reinforced pike unit, failing it's fear test and loosing the combat with a demoralize. Not wanting the flying BW to escape, the pikes followed up. At the same time, the orc LC units rushed in, surrounding and destroying the summoned bow unit and engaging the undead HC. The large monster, free of traps for the last turn and running towards the undead lines, was hit by an Apparation spell, preventing a charge.

In the last phase of the game, the rest of the undead line moved up to support the reinforced pike unit, while the undead SM moved to engage one of the orc LC. In the end of the phase, the battle wagon and one LC were dead, and one more LC was demoralized. Orc Morale clock dropped to zero--Victory Undead!

Game Analysis:

Definitely one of the more interesting games we've played. The maneuver and sniping in the early phases also made this one of the longest in duration (about 3.5 hours). Although the JuJitsu or Venus Flytrap strategy used by the Undead was successful, it was really the heavy use of traps (and a little luck with demoralization spells) that made this strategy work. Necromantic magic proved to be very effective, particuarly Voodoo Curse, Apparation, and Summon (bow) unit when used to create a rear attacker (I summoned bows because a) I didn't have any undead irregular figures and b) at least a bow unit is good for something after the combat is over).

I still think infantry are at a severe disadvantage to other units in FR, but this game did show that they can be used successfully.

Regarding the orcs, I have to say that this was one tough army. Lots of fast, hard hitters (too many to trap all of them) coupled with gobs of LC units for flank rear bonuses and harassing bowfire. Talking about it after the game, Mike pointed out that he probably should have stuck the characters in the BWs instead of the LC units since this would have greatly boosted their resistance to traps/taunt/spells. The orc attack on the left flank was very successful and I tend to think that if the Orc BW's had concentrated on the right, they might have been in a better position for the final battle. On the other hand, with traps, voodoo hexes, and taunts firing off all over the place, coordinated movement was difficult at best for the orcs.

Throughout the course of the game, we found ourselves negotiating the limitations of the Taunt abilty several times (Can it be used to Taunt a unit out of combat? Can it be used to Taunt a demoralized unit? Can a LC unit break off after it's engaged an infantry unit due to Taunt? If it can and the target causes fear, does it have to take a fear test first? Does taunt require LOS? If there's an intervening enemy unit, does the taunted unit attempt to move around it or does it charge the enemy in the way?) We were pretty satisfied with the rules we came up with for it, but I would guess other players would play it differently.

Copyright © 1999 by Samuel Reynolds. All rights reserved. Last modified 1998/08/14.
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