Thursday, July 5, 2007

Storming the beaches of Norse-mandy - The Battle

They hit the surf running. The longships beached just long enough to disgorge the army and then oarsmen pulled them back into the ocean. The terrain got progressively thick as they pushed in from the shore: 1st the open beach, then a bunch of undergrowth, then light jungle & finally dense, thick jungle. Luckily, it was pretty much like the forests of Norsca, so the army would have no problem maneuvering through it. But, unlike the forests of Norsca, the heat & humidity was so oppressive, it felt like they had to swim through the air (Excessive Humidity: -1" to Bestigors). OTOH, the surprise landings seemed to have worked since he could see vague human shapes still trying to form ranks (Monkey Run: Norse got +1 to die for determining who goes 1st).

Stonecleaver had positioned himself in the center, leading the unit of Valkyrie (Bestigors) that had the gods had blessed them with. To the right was one of the large Hirds, followed by a small Hird, the Norse Dwarf Mountain Goat cavalry who were drunk once again (Centigors), & finally a small unit of wolves (chaos hounds). To the left were Musta Krakish, the Werewolf Lord, & his giant werekin (minotaurs), the other large Hird, & the other unit of Dwarf cavalry.

Stonecleaver prayed to the gods that the solitary longship that left the fleet would have successfully landed the small ambush force further up the beach. He was worried though. Even if the ambushing force showed up, the army's orders were to penetrate as far into the jungle as possible. So once behind the enemy, the ambushers might feel it better to hang back in the dense jungle & not actually come out to help the rest of the army.

Even though he still couldn't completely make out the enemies, he could see they had finally formed up and were in 4 blocks, pretty much equally aligned on his center.

The army surged forward with the surf, eager to meet whatever the vile jungle spat out at them. The werekin got tangled up in the undergrowth & ended up being out of position for most of the battle (I misread the rules & initially thought you could march move through difficult terrain). But, 3 of the 4 ambush troops, 1 small Hird & both units of wolves, successfully navigated the dense jungle & came on behind the enemy. The 4th can wandering up behind the Norscans' own line.

As the 2 armies approached each other, Stonecleaver finally realized what they were fighting: skeletons. 4 HUGE blocks of skeletons, most of them twice the size of his largest Hirds. & some of the skeletons look to have been Norscans from Skeggi at one point, based on the tatters of clothes hanging from their bleached bones.

The idea of being denied a place Valhalla, & instead being forced to fight this cursed jungle for all eternity froze Valgard & his army in their tracks. The outer flanking forces were able to continue to maneuver forward, but the Valkyries & both large Hirds stopped dead.

Valgard tried to get his warriors to charge, but they stayed put & were surprised by a sudden uncharacteristic burst of speed from the skeletons (Maks thought the skeletons' charge move was only 4" until someone wandered by & told him it was 8". He then promptly charged me when I thought I'd have another turn to try to charge.). 2 of the skeleton blocks crunched into the Hirds & a 3rd contacted the Dwarves on the right flank. All were sent running. Fortunately the skeletons lining up against Stonecleaver & the Valkyries didn't quite make it, so they had a reprieve for the moment. & even more fortunately, the Valkyries & the giant werewolves were able to hold their line while everyone around them fled. But, the Dwarves took a unit of wolves with them.

Stonecleaver knew this was a crucial moment, so he had the Valkyries call out to the fleeing warriors, reminding them of the prize of Valhalla, & all the fleeing units rallied, except the wolves who fled out off into the jungle (not any magic ability, just narrative of almost all the units rallying).

Seeing the danger of being caught standing, Valgard led the Valkyries into the skeletons in front of them. & the Godi finally found his land-legs & stepped up to help out. Suddenly a flock of Crows appeared from his fingers pecked any remaining juicy morsels off the skeletons (I had completely forgotten about the shaman & hadn't even rolled his spell, but got 9 deaths out of 2d6 possible for 1st shot, later got 8 deaths).

Unfortunately, the giant werewolves were still fumbling through the undergrowth, & the ambushing wolves were unable to overcome their fear to charge the skeletons in the rear, so the Valkyries went in unsupported. Valgard valiantly held his own, accepting single combat against the whirling blades of the Blood Dragon hero, & the Valkyries actually did more casualties than the skeletons, but as to be expected, the weight of the huge block of skeletons overwhelmed them & they fled. They received a temporary reprieve since skeletons were unmoved by their victory. But then skeletons had another burst of speed (charge), contacted the fleeing Valkyries & destroyed them before they had a chance to rally, cutting Stonecleaver down too. He realized that it was the skeletons in the dark jungle that were "much hidden" in the Godi's readings, & they definitely were now revealed. As the life left Valgard's eyes, he sent one final prayer to the gods, pleading not to be reanimated & denied Valhalla.

Another block of skeletons caught the Godi out in the open & he went down too. A shudder when through the now leaderless Norscan army. Sent into a fury, it charged almost as a whole. The Dwarf cavalry on the left flank charged a block of skeletons & almost completely wiped out their 1st 2 ranks. Stunned by this sudden turn of events, the Blood Dragon hero did little in return & the Dwarves actually won their battle. Another round of combat saw similar results, & finally, with the giant werewolves charging their flank, the skeletons fell to pieces & the army General, who was attached, fled & was run down.

While the battle was not fully complete, a strange call floated over the jungle (game store was closing), so the skeletons melted back into the jungle and the shaken Norscans claimed it a victory.

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