Battle report: Witch Hunters vs. Necromancers

The story so far…

After the last kick starter arrived it was only a matter of days before dates were in diaries for a game of Witch Hunters vs Necromancers. With another friend keen to get their lockdown project on the table, a wild beasts clan, we decided to run a little campaign and test out the new factions.

It’s fair to say that after two games the Witch Hunters haven’t been doing well. The first game against a necromancer warband was a bit of a slaughter, which resulted in the team heading into their next game a man down. The next game, against the wild beast clan didn’t go particularly well either. So whilst I have a full compliment of troops returning to the table they weren’t able to feed themselves so are all starting one wound down.

Undead rules

What’s definitely added some extra interest into the campaign is that the rules for the undead have been iterating as the campaign has progressed. My opponent has played three games with his undead, each with a different rule set. That means both of us have been adapting as we progress.

Because of that I thought it would be helpful to pull out a couple of the more important undead rules for this report:

Necromancy now works on Fortitude, it previously worked on Presence, this is a bit of nerf for my opponent because his warband was set up for Presence based casting. That means he shouldn’t be able to summon as many mist ghasts (absolutely no one should feel sorry about this).

Stable ghasts operate basically as normal beasts, but they have now become fearsome. That means one of my opponents stable ghasts gets a buff (the other is a wild cat so is already fearsome).

Mist ghasts get summoned by the necromancer. When I played them last time they were very tough to take out, they could attack and you could also have up to ten on the table in addition to all your warband members. If you chose a bit of a gamey necromancer (which my opponent did) summoning was pretty easy and you quickly found yourself having to deal with lots of multiple combats. Not masses of fun. Mist ghasts have now had a few changes, the biggest being they no longer make attacks, but any of my models in base to base contact with them at the end of a turn will lose a wound for each ghast they are in contact with. Additionally they still contribute to multiple combats. This is a little unhelpful given that my warband was unable to feed itself after the last game and starts with each member already down a wound! However, they are a much easier prospect to deal with.

The scenario  – Witchhunt

Additional rules:

5 turn limit – having had some experience of necromancers we decided to limit the game to 5 turns. This gave me a target number of turns to survive, helpful because the additional models the warband can create means lots of multiple combats. In the past these have meant that the turn the route test is called most of my beasts are out of action which then impacts the campaign rolls as there is no one to do any wandering or labouring!

Random movement for the witch – we decided to randomise the witch’s movement rather than have her move directly towards which ever side controlled her and wanted to kill her.

Random events – this campaign we have been going out of our way to introduce as many new rules from the journals as possible, these look fun.

Mercenaries – as my warband is starting the game hungry I decided a mercenary was necessary, using the rules in the Warren Percy Affair. I decided to go for the big guns and called up Necalli, the armadillo, given I was expecting a lot of multiple combats his melee master and tough 4 was expected to come in handy.

Warbands

Lists only include things in addition to base stats and skills.

The Witch Hunters

Secondary objective – Secure

First – Otter with hand weapon, light armour, light shield, Maleus Malificiarum, burst of speed

Second – Fox with double handed weapon, slippery, fearsome, killing blow, holy zeal

Weasel with double handed weapon

Mouse with spear, healing hands, blessing

Attack grubs (3)

Necalli, the Nine-Banded Armadillo (See The Warren Percy Affair for details)

The Necromancer

Secondary objective – Loot

Necromancer – Toad with gifted, weak, delicate, invocation, hand weapon

Apprentice – Rat with tough, weak, delicate, mage focus, magic staff, doom bolt

Thrall – Shrew with one handed weapon, light shield, weapon skill

Thrall – Shrew with one handed weapon, light shield

Stable Ghast – Wild Cat with double handed weapon

Stable Ghast – Otter with one handed weapon and light shield

Rat with master smithed sword, crossbow, light armour, tough

Captain Dies (pronounced Dees) and his band of the faithful had tracked the witch to the abandoned village. The attack grubs had been hot on the evil beast’s scent, and now they had her cornered somewhere in what looked like an old mining village. The witch hunters spread out to search the buildings and soon they had spotted their quarry. As they closed in a dark bolt of magic flew through the air, striking Necalli. Knowing the magic could not have come from the witch Captain Dies looked up to see a recognisable rat in the distance with a smirk and a ridiculously oversized hat. Clearly the necromantic warband Dies had been chasing for some months were also interested in getting to the witch. The race was on…

Turn 1

Random event: Drifting Fog

The mist hung low in the village as the warbands moved forward searching for the witch. Conscious of the enemy, most clung to the side of buildings with the exception of the mercenary who spied the witch cowering behind the central building and made for her. As he advanced the apprentice necromancer unleashed a dark bolt of energy at him, hitting him squarely on the chest, fortunately his toughness saved him from serious injury.

The necromancer used the calm before the battle to summon 2 medium mist ghasts in front of him. Unnerved by the approaching armadillo the witch made a break for it, running for the edge of the broken-down village. Through a gap in the buildings, she spied a shrew warrior and cast a fireball at him, injuring him but not taking him out of action.

End of turn 1

Turn 2

Random event: Nothing

The fog cleared and the shrew who had been hit by the witch retaliated, charging into her wounding her, but failing to kill her. Seeing the witch and the shrew fighting Necalli decided to take advantage of the situation and steamed into the combat which he won, decisively, killing the witch and giving the scenario win to the witch hunters.

Despite the fight that had erupted in the town centre the witch hunters continued their search of the town cautiously, avoiding immediate confrontation. The mouse, however, seeing the mercenary had left himself exposed called on the old gods to bless him and the mercenary would be granted a +3 to his next roll off. Seeing the mouse in prayer and concerned where it might lead the rat with the crossbow took the opportunity to fire at him, hitting and wounding him. The toad summoned another small ghast. Finally, the wild cat ghast charged the armadillo swinging his double handed weapon at him. The armadillo took a hit, but fortunately the blessing from the mouse staved off the worst of it.

End of turn 2

Turn 3

Random event: Nothing 

The undead took the initiative and the stable ghast wild cat took another hack at the armadillo using up a few fate points and getting a critical hit for its troubles. The creature’s axe made quite a mess of the poor beast, well and truly taking him out of action.

With the mercenary out of the picture so soon Captain Dies could no longer hold himself back from his trademark act of stupidity and used his burst of speed to reach the necromancer. The tough old toad took some damage, but unlike so many wizards before him failed to back down and returned an attack once a mist ghast and the crossbow rat had been charged in for support. Between the three dastardly beasts the noble, yet foolhardy captain was left badly injured.

In the ruins with the shrine another melee erupted as an attack grub charged the stable ghast otter, followed up by the weasel. The stable ghast survived the onslaught and fought back against the weasel, dropping it with a single blow. Finally, the fox moved in against the nearby shrew. Wounds were traded, but no decisive blows landed.

In a final act of aggression the necromancer’s apprentice shot a doom bolt at the mouse who took damage, before muttering a prayer that saw much of the damage undone.

End of turn 3

Turn 4

Random event: Old Tunnels

As the beasts exchanged blows they could not help but notice the village had undoubtedly seen better days. Badly injured Captain Dees made a heroic sacrifice in an attempt to rid Northymbria of the old toad. Unfortunately it did not go quite to plan and the toad survived as the otter went out of action. As the necromancer knelt down to pick over the body of the unconscious captain the crossbow rat charged towards the melee in the ruins, keen to lend a hand. As he ran the ground suddenly opened up. He fell, and with no way out took to nosing around to see if there was any hidden treasure to be found.

Cracks were now opening up across the village and whilst the mist ghasts were oblivious to the dangers their altogether more corporeal cousins, the stable ghasts, found themselves disappearing next. Reinvigorated by the sudden disappearances the witch hunters redoubled their efforts attacking whatever was left.

The mouse, uncertain what the best direction was to move in decided to support his brothers and charged the shrew, jabbing at her with his spear.

End of turn 4

Turn 5

Random event: Collapsing Terrain

With the ground opening up around them it wasn’t long before the buildings started to shake. With the witch dead, the original reason for coming to the town, both warbands decided discretion was the better part of valour and started to run from the crumbling village. As masonry thudded into the streets the attack grubs’ training took over. One attacked the mist ghast closest to the building they had to secure whilst the other bolted for the door completing the witch hunter’s secondary objective.

In one last act of zealotry the fox saw the necromancer stuff Dies’ belongings into his pouch. The heretic would die. He ran, dodging falling rubble, raised his mighty flail and brought the weapon down on the toad. The evil beast crumpled as the village finally collapsed and the warbands retreated.

The aftermarth

Over the course of this campaign we’ve used as many of the new rules as possible in a bid to stop the games becoming melee traps around the objective, as well as using lots of scenery. This was a really fun, and inadvertently narrative driven game, thanks to the random events. The collapsing village really impacted decision making and outcomes, admittedly more for the necromancer. Its something I really love in campaign games because it elevates the overall fun level. From my point of view it also meant I had a much higher survival rate than usual and the scenario win means the warband gets to eat. Obviously, I’m not going to get too smug about this as next time I might be the one who has half my warband disappear, random is as random does!

Getting an early blow in against the necromancer really helped stem the flow of mist ghasts and their impact on this game was pretty minimal. I did, however, completely forget that my fox had killing blow, which was a shame but given the sink holes wasn’t really an issue.

Necalli definitely helped no end in this game. I think getting someone in to deliver the decisive blow to the witch without the extra body would have really caused my warband problems. Of course, the downside was that my lack of funds meant I had to pay with fate points and choosing such a powerful character meant my warband rating rose well over the necromancer’s rating. This meant I had a grand total of 5 fate points whilst the necromancer had 13, and they played a part in quite a few combats.

What’s next

The story will continue… Captain Dies made a full recovery whilst the weasel lost a dice level of speed. The little wandering I managed resulted in some fairly unimpressive knowledge being attained about future scenarios, whilst the necromancer warband managed to get a cheap shrew knight on a stag beetle to enlist in one of the shrews’ home towns and found a magical bow in one of the old tunnels!

There are plenty of experience advancements to be had though, and I’m planning an extension to the town house which should help sort out the finance issue. Excitingly, the next game is already planned. The necromancer has been making a lot of enemies and there are rumours abroad that the witch hunters are already in discussions with a local wild beast clan about where, and how best to visit a painful vengeance on the evil wizard.

If you want to find out more about Witch Hunters read my first impressions here.

Published by Eddie B

A blog about fantasy wargaming and literature.

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