Last week we got out the Warhammer rulebook again. Back in January Nick and I had played our first game of Warhammer 7th edition for a few years. It had been so long that we were both rusty and made mistakes, me more than Nick of course. But the game was great fun and we agreed to play again soon to help us get back on top of the subtleties. Covid 19 put the refight back several months but we finally got together for a socially distanced game last Wednesday.
We kept the same races and 2500 point armies, but agreed we could tweak the lists in the light of the first game. Nick dispensed with his giant, added some boarboys and reduced the size of his night goblin horde while I swapped out an engineer for a warrior priest and created more detachments for my spearmen. I brought Luther Huss to lead my army while Nick’s general was a Warboss on foot. As before, the Empire was heavily outnumbered, having sunk points into two great cannon and a steam tank. Nick also invested in a doom diver, partly for the fun of the model.
There were some lovely old metal models on the table, including Ricco’s republican Guard, my favourite regiment of renown, though counting this time as spearmen (their ‘pikes’ really aren’t worthy of the name anyway). The metal steam tank weighs a ton.
I set up on a central hill with a unit of ten knights on each flank, plus some pistoliers on the left and the steam tank on the right. Nick put all his night goblins on his right, his orc boys in the centre and his boar boys and wolf riders on his left.
What just happened?
First, the good news for Empire fans. I wasn’t steamrollered. But I still lost. We both had rather more success on our right flank in the opening moves. My right flank knights chased the wolf riders off the table and the steam tank beat the boar boys, although they rallied later in the game. The steam tank turned in behind the Orc centre, which looked a very promising move. Over on Nick’s right, however, his two night goblin fanatics sent my pistoliers packing, one of whom had an even bigger part to play later on. Meanwhile his centre advanced on mine. Of course, one of my cannon misfired and lost two turns of firing, during which its crew would be flattened by squig hoppers. My firearms and the other cannon did kill orcs but never enough to trouble an Orc unit.
As the centres prepared to collide, my left flank, Inner Circle knights led by Luther Huss himself, were stalled immediately in front of one of Nick’s fanatics. I had made a silly decision placing my army commander on the far left as he was out of touch with the centre just as the crunch approached. I reckoned that if I waited for the fanatic to spin himself out of the way it’d be too late, so trusting to luck, I declared a charge on a goblin regiment and moved my knights right through him. And he rolled 5 hits. And he killed 4 knights. And the knights panicked, running off the table with Luther Huss in tow. Which pretty much wrapped up the day for the Empire.
In truth the Empire did have some further successes before the end. The most heartening was the defeat and elimination of 20 Black orcs by ‘Ricco’s’ spearmen, led by Warren the warrior priest. Warren’s hate attribute helped the spears to weather the fury of the first assault, while their halberdier detachment stripped the black orcs of their rank bonus. This fight showed what can be achieved when Empire soldiers and their detachments are used properly.
Elsewhere my centre mostly came off worse. I still had high hopes for the terror-causing steam tank behind the Orc left centre, but Nick assaulted it with a Squig herd that inflicted 5 wounds in a round. In my next turn, needing enough steam points to grind or boil the pesky squigs, I rolled too high and spent the turn doing nothing. From unstoppable monster to busted tractor in two turns. Them’s the breaks.
At game’s end, our lines had rotated around our right wings, with the armies now facing each other perpendicular to the original line. But while I retained a line in being, it was distinctly ropey and Nick’s orcs were still present in dangerous numbers. Having lost general, battle standard and several regiments, I admitted defeat. But I like to think that Warren the warrior priest was able to march off the field, leading Ricco’s and his lads to safety.
We both enjoyed the game enormously and agreed we should play again soon. We both played better than last time and our guessing skills for artillery fire are nearly back to scratch. For our next bash, I may take only one cannon, since while effective against giants, the great cannon really isn’t so deadly against a horde of orcs. I also want to work on the Empire detachments as we did see how effective they can be if used properly. And I may, alas, drop one or both units of knights, since the points they take up don’t justify the chasing off of a gang of wolf riders. That, or I deploy them smack bang in the Empire centre next time and let them loose.
Having twice won as an Orc, Nick is angling to play the Empire to test some theories about how to neutralise greenskins. So next game, we may change sides. However, having improved on my performance between games one and two, I am sorely tempted to have one more go. After all, as they say, the third time is the charm.