Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Summer 990 - Campaign Update

Spring proved a bad time to be a ruler in Talomir. Ekra exists no more. Hykar is much reduced, although the war still goes on. The Rock has fallen under Treyine rule and the Brethren are now little more than puppets of the Treyine empire. Talomir is in upheaval and it seems likely that it can only get worse as Mirholme, The Capalan League and Tereken join the campaign. The viciousness of all this fighting seems to have left everyone a bit stunned and the only war this summer is a reprisal raid by the Hykar on the Mirish aimed at recovering lost territory.

Full army lists may be found on the Campaign Army Lists page. The leaders of each nation are all detailed on the National Leaders page.

Spring 990 - The Plain of Unfounded Hopes

My Dearest Cedders,

It is with heavy heart and heavier belly that I must tell you the tragic news. I shall seek to join you in Treyine as soon as I can, for I have no Queendom at the moment. Do not worry though. Together we shall take back my inheritance and you shall rule at my side in Hykar. It's that Legbiter ratbag's fault, you know. She took half our army off to the south, leaving the Hykari vulnerable. I'll scratch her eyes out for that when I get my hands on her.

The Mirish army turned up in force with heffalumps and ogres and large numbers of heavy cavalry as well as infantry. We were totally outnumbered but we were dashed well going to do what we could to see them off.

As they advanced on us we took off on our ponies to ride rings round them. I sent a bunch of the girls off on to their flank and that caused some confusion while the rest of us set off to do our own bit.

They did not know what to do and were trying to send their foot troops all over the place. It's uncivilised, you know, all this running around on foot. Not for proper people. Their light cavalry was a bit rubbish too. We saw that off quickly enough.

Then came the crunch as my own bodyguard was charged by some cataphracts. We withstood the charge and gave better than we got, but could make them push off before their general joined the fray. My girls came to the rescue but were not up to the task of seeing off these oiks.

So, it was up to me to get rid of the blackguards. I think the sight of my fat ankles put them off and I soon sent them packing. Some of the girls were down but we had done more damage to them than they did to us. It was all looking so hopefully.

At that point it all went wrong. Their general charged into the flank of my bodyguard. I got a cramp in my belly and my pony bolted with the rest of the girls flying behind me. I swear I am going to eat this pony. It keeps bolting in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

That just left some of the girls on the field. I'm told they did what they could.

Jemima Neckslasher joined me after the battle. She was very full of herself. Turns out that she and some of her friends had drawn the enemy general on into their bows and turned his unit into Tropiliam cheese. He was last seen clinging to the saddle of a bolting horse as the rest of his bodyguard were fleeing as fast as they could for Mirish.

It's a shame it was too little too late. Had he fallen sooner I think we could have won, but that Mirish armour is really good stuff. With their arrows exhausted the girls could do no more than head for home, although they had certainly accounted for more of the enemy than we had lost. I am so proud of them.

So, Cedders, I have no home no and that Legbiter witch rules in the remains of Hykar. Had she not led a rebellion against me I feel sure that we would have prevailed in this battle. I hope you will forgive me that I have no more ponies to give you at the moment. Instead I must throw myself upon your mercy and ask you to take me in, a supplicant at your yurt. Please, Cedders, be kind when you see me. I know that I have not lived up to all that I should and have lost too much of Hykar, but I can still be queen again if you will help me.

Ever and always yours,
Barbax Gutripper

Spring 990 - Battle at the Old Swimming Hole

My Dearest Cedders,

I cannot understand why you are still staying in Treyine. My girls tell me that it is quite the worst hotel they have ever seen with bars on the windows and the food ... well, words cannot describe the slop they serve there. The girls tell me that you are happy there though. I don't understand it, but I am happy that you are happy. I shall come to join you as soon as I can. However, first I must deal with the girl that claims to be the true ruler of the Hykari. Pah! Hardecg Legbiter is a jumped-up wannabe. No Legbiter has ever ruled the Hykari and none ever will. Right, must go now. The Legbiter ratbag wants to use the same swimming hole as my girls and that will not do. We're off to tear their hair out.

Barbax, True Queen of the Hykari

Dearest Cedders,

Well, the battle went jolly well, all things considered. We were outnumbered but the area around the Old Swimming Hole is not really cavalry country.

Hardecg was really keen to get to grips with us and her girls all charged whooping and hollering as if they thought that would scare us.

Well, what a shock she had. I led my girls in a charge against her line and pretty soon had her and some of her cronies backed up against a cliff, and me in my state too. It was an education, I tell you, to see her turn white and gallop her pony off out of there followed by her bodyguard and some of her other cronies. Ha! That showed her.

Unfortunately, my girls were not all as stout-hearted as I am, and my left wing collapsed pretty quickly, although not before getting some licks in against the remaining Legbiter supporters. My right wing was a bit windy too. More cumis next time, I think.

After that it was a real whirlwing melee. I went off after the Legbiters that had seen off my right wing while the others turned on the Legbiters in the centre.

I charged some of them into the actual Swimming Hole, you know. Well, if they wanted to swim, I was certainly not going to let them change their minds.

The rest of the Legbiters did rather well in the melee, mainly due to large numbers. Still, my girls held their own and there were only a couple of units of Legbiters left when the last of my girls headed for the pavilion.

I soon sorted them out too. No Legbiter is a match for a Gutripper and I surely showed them that as I was left Queen of the Hill at the end of it all. The Legbiters are all hotfooting it for the south now. Unfortunately I have heard reports of a Mirish invasion here in the north and must try to deal with it next.

I remain yours ever,
Barbax Gutripper

P.S. Not long now. I'll send for you before the happy event.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Meanwhile in Mirholme ...

... the forces of Gunnar Broadaxe and his wicked uncle Olaf Squinteye face off against each other in yet another of their interminable peace talks. It is certain that Olaf will not hold to the terms of the treaty and that Gunnar and he will have peace talks for as long as both can hold an axe.

Mirholme is a tribal society. Each of the provinces is ruled by the most powerful chieftain there (Gunnar and Olaf at the moment) and Mirholme will only ever rise to greatness if a powerful king can unit the nation and lead it to victory.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Spring 990 - The Battle of Crabgrass Meadow

Brother Superior, the Grand-Master of the Brethren, climbed wearily onto the rocky outcrop. The faces of the surviving Brethren looked at him, hope still in many of the weary eyes.

It had been two days since the battle of Crabgrass Meadow. He had chosen their last battlefield well, with a single narrow crossing of River Hogan and set his forces on the high ground of Mount McManus. Sadly he knew his own impetuousness had cost them dearly. Since then they had been retreating further and further.

He took off his helmet and wiped his head with his hand. Then looked into the faces of the men before him.

“Brothers and fellow Brethren, it is with a heavy heart I stand before you. You have all fought hard and well. I have just come from speaking to the Treyine General and have reached an agreement with him. The Rock will now become part of the Treyine Empire.”

He paused while this news sank in. A few murmured disbelief, but most just looked blankly at him. A few even seemed to look relieved, which he could understand.

“The Red Sun still has a purpose for us.” He began again. “ Although we will no longer run the border area, we shall still have a presence. Treyine will allow us to maintain our chapels and preceptories, but in a much reduced state. No chapel may have more than 20 Brother Knights and 100 Brother Sergeants at any one time. We must also pledge our loyalty to King Edward IV.”

Again he paused while the murmuring died down.

“I know this is a bitter pill for many of you to swallow, but we will still be able to do bring the Sun's light to bear and protect this land from the Goblins and Orcs. If any of you cannot do this, you have a choice. The prisons of Treyine or Brother Blitzenhosen is leading a party into Zog-Rot and on to Naz-Goth to set up a new land for the Brethren. I myself have given my word to the Treyine that I shall return to them and act as hostage for remaining Brethrens' behaviour. Thank you for your bravery and loyalty. Continue to do The Sun's work and may It's Light shine on you whichever way you travel.”

With that Brother Superior climbed down, mounted his horse and rode towards the Treyine camp in the distance.

The Battle
The terrain consisted of a large hill on the Treyine left flank that was never a feature of the action. A smaller hill lay in the centre of the Brethren deployment zone. An unfordable river crossed the battlefield. It could only be crossed at the bridge. Other than these features the terrain was largely flat.

The Brethren had chosen to place their infantry on Mount McManus, while the cavalry waited to catch anyone unwary enough to try crossing the bridge. Naturally, the Hykar ponywomen obliged by galloping across the bridge, ribbons streaming in the wind and cavorting lasciviously in front of the Brethren, whose vow of celibacy might have wavered a little that day. Sir Geoffrey Chambers led his own mercenary knights and the Troplian Equites over the bridge somewhat more sedately, but with no less determination.

Battle was joined. The Brother Knights and Sergeants eagerly joined the fray, knowing that they outnumbered the enemy at this time. A small unit of peasant archers also advanced on the Hykari ponygirls, who only noticed them at the last minute.

Sir Geoffrey fought off the Sergeants, who could not withstand the assault of his hardened mercenaries, while simultaneously holding his ground against Brother Superior and the flower of Brethren chivalry. The Tropilian Equites acquitted themselves less nobly and many died trying to cross the river. As this fight was going on Sir Alaric Fitzhugh was following the dashing Sir Geoffrey across the bridge and two units of mercenary handgunners were also manoeuvring to cross the bridge. Meanwhile the arrows of the Hykari slatterns had driven off the peasant archers.

The fighting was hard in front of the bridge. Sir Alaric drove off a unit of Brethren just as the other unit rejoined the fray. Brother Superior's own Brethren Knights charged once more at Sir Geoffrey and crushed his knights, who were now exhausted. They routed and Brother Superior pursued right into the first unit of handgunners who were now on the bridge. Their guns crashed. Knights and horses fell, but it was not enough. The handgunners were ridden down. Flushed with success, Brother Superior lead the charge into the second unit of handgunners, who were also ridden down, but again at the cost of some knights and horses. The charge continued towards a line of stout Treyine yeomanry. The yeoman archers loosed their arrows at the oncoming knights and this final volley was too much for them. Brother Superior's horse spooked and ran from the arrows. His knights followed and the Brother Sergeants joined the rout.

With the Brethren general and knights gone, the Treyine army formed up into column and began to troop across the bridge as the Hykari valkyries raced towards the Brethren infantry on the hill. Screaming and baring their chests they taunted the Brethren. While they did so Sir Alaric was marching his band of stout hearts towards the men on the hill.

Sir Alaric reached the Brethren line in time to realise that a Cleric stood among the ranks of the spearmen. A blast of eldritch sunfire flew from the Cleric towards Sir Alaric but his squire dived between them, taking the full force of the blast. Sir Alaric was enraged and charged the Cleric and his men down. The force of his fury was too great to bear and the Brethren spears fled.

Another unit of Brethren heavy infantry could take no more of the Hykari taunting. The raced down the hill in pursuit of the bare-breasted myrmidons, panting slightly and feeling strange urges in their codpieces. Unfortunately, as they approached the Hykari swiftly rode away from them, drawing them from the cover of the hill. While they did this, Sir Alaric turned to his right and rode down the spearmen that now stood in his way. His wrath was not yet fully assuaged.

The girls danced around the unit that was chasing them, while Treyine longbowmen took up position to bombard the troops on the hill. Sir Alaric took advantage of the distraction caused by the Hykari to charge and rout the spearmen.

With the archers now flooding across the river, it became clear to the remaining Brethren that their position was untenable. They surrendered.

This was our second RRtK game and it went more smoothly than the first.

Magic feels very different and much weaker because of the reduction in range and the changes to the way that it is cast.

Massed missile fire is deadly. The Brethren general basically destroyed three units in one turn but was brought down in the end by the casualties already taken and the power of the Treyine longbows.

Skirmish troops seem more effective now too. They are able to run up to troops, harass them, draw them out of line and then evade more easily than they could previously, or so it appears.

Heroes are massively powerful. One hero can destroy a standard unit of infantry really easily with little fear for his own life. The Blast spell from the Cleric caused the only hit on the hero that any unit took. The main problem is their high armour class. The only way to defeat a hero with AC8 is to mob him with several units, which can prove difficult, especially if the hero dictates the pace of the game. The other option would be to shoot him to bits. Massed missile fire should be able to hurt a hero quite badly if you can bring it to bear.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Capalan League

To call someone Capalan is to call them devious and treacherous. The Capalan League is known for its dirty politics that rely on assassination more than merit as a means of promotion. This then is the nation that will be joining the campaign in Spring 991.

Its army consists of the wealthier and better quality Knights (front left) and the City Knights (second row left), who are not as well-seasoned in battle. Woe betide you if you let them get behind you though. They are more than familiar with using a soft word and a knife in the back to achieve their ends.

The guard unit (front row right) is the best quality infantry they have, but they only get one of those. The bulk of the infantry are city spearmen (second row right), who are supported by city crossbowmen (third row left). The contadini infantry (third row right) and contadini archers (fourth row right) provide additional support, while mercenary arquebusiers (back) are sometimes used for shock value. The infantry are uniformly of poor quality and the army relies on its knights to win battles with shock and awe tactics.

With the demise of both the Border Kingdoms and Ekra I had two armies that were no longer involved in the campaign so I allocated suitable elements of each army to the Capalan League. This expands our campaign again and gives me the opportunity to keep all my figures in play. The front row of knights are some that I painted in a more Italianate style recently. I am quite interested in putting together an army for fifteenth-century Italy but the lack of a full range of suitable 6mm figures has put me off so far.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Spring 990 - R-Ekra-iem for the Masses

Altengard had invaded Ekra and the Ekrans had rallied every last man capable of carrying a weapon or even a large lump of wood. They had gathered near the small village of Clair de la Lune. As usual the knights took the position of honour on the right of the Ekran line while the Altengardian knights clearly had no class because they deployed in the centre of their line, thus giving precedence to the light horse on their right flank. No class, these Altengardians.

Unfortunately, the Ekrans had been caught on the hop and the Altengard light horse was able to rampage around their flank and into their rear with only the Ekran peasants and crossbowmen to hold them up a little. There was only one thing to do: Charge! The Ekran knights charged towards the Altengard handgunners but were repulsed with losses. On the left flank the peasants drove off one of the Altengard light horse and the infantry was able to repulse the Altengard knights and the hero.

Trying to salvage something from the wreckage the flower of Ekran nobility charged again. Their general sought out his opposite number among the enemy and sought to reach him and cut him down in a bid to demoralise the enemy and regain the initiative but it was not to be. His valiant charge was repulsed easily and he was driven back. The enemy general pursued and caught him. In the ensuing rout many Ekran knights were cut down and others fled the field. In the end only one blissfully unaware unit of peasants remained on the field (circled in blue). The battle was over and Ekra was no more. The only slight consolation was that the enemy wizard had given himself a massive migraine the first time that he tried to cast a spell and had to leave the field as a result.

This was our first campaign battle using Rally Round The King. It was good fun and the rules were familiar enough to us from having played Warrior Heroes so much but they also felt different. The rules feel tighter than Warrior Heroes and magic is handled quite differently. Based on our initial experience, you really need more than just one level 1 wizard in your army if you want to cast any spells. This makes magic harder to use and probably much less powerful than in Warrior Heroes. Overall though RRTK clearly gives us what we want in a game. We just need to get our heads round the differences between it and WH.