Like most Piquet -based games, the actions of the armies are driven by card decks which are created from their army lists. The Middle Kingdom army had 3 Optional cards: Look to the King, Uncontrolled Charge, and an extra Courage! card because they were fighting the fearsome Undead. The Undead had an Uncontrolled Advance, an Ineffective Missilery, and a Brilliant Leader card because Jed rolled up the Necromancer King as a Skilled Commander-in-Chief during army generation.
We created the battlefield terrain and deployed the commands using Piquet's excellent "Theater of War" campaign rules. 1750 points of Middle Kingdom attacking 1600 points of defending Undead.
The Undead are an interesting army since many of their troops cause Fear, they don't take morale checks, don't pursue, and they never rout. We did play that they could be disordered, but they never retreated from melee. We weren't sure if they could be routed from a "double disorder". In retrospect, they probably can't. So the skeletons tend to fight grimly in battle to the last bone, stopping the momentum of their attackers with sheer weight of Undead numbers.
The Middle Kingdoms army was led by King Jean himself, mounted on a pegasus. The King was a very capable warrior, but an average commander (he was also only half-painted). His army consisted of 2 commands: a large left flank command of mounted, heavily armored knights led by a warrior priest and a center infantry command of pike-armed commoners, royal archers, crossbowmen, handgunners, foot knights and a cannon. The infantry was commanded by Johne of Orc. Maybe her enthusiasm could stiffen the resolve of this hodge-podge of social classes.
King Jean led off the battle by challenging the evil Necromancer General to a personal combat between the two front lines. The Undead overlord was smart enough to turn down Jean's chivalrous challenge, even though his refusal boosted the morale of the Kingdom knights as they began to taunt the Undead forces as cowards.
Frustrated that he wasn't able to end the battle with a single swing of his sword, Jean ordered the infantry to capture the village of Grave Crossing in the center of the battlefield while he rode the skeletons down under the thundering hooves of his heavy knights.
The hills were Class II hills. The villages were Class II terrain capable of holding up to 3 units each. Since the Undead were the defenders, they could deploy on the right half of the table. The Kingdom troops deployed on the left table edge (picture below). The strip of table in between was the combat area.
|Western end of the table at game start.|
Undead left flank faces off against the Kingdom's right flank
|Skeleton cavalry and monsters on the Undead left flank.|
|Pike blocks from the common ranks backed up by missile troops,|
guard archers, and dismounted foot knights from the poorer noble families
|Kingdom mounted knights wait for the signal to charge.|
|Undead right flank at game start.|
|The Kingdom pike blocks attempt to close with the Undead.|
|The mounted knights of the Kingdom left flank advance across|
|Close up of the Undead archers waiting for them.|
|Chariots back up the Undead center.|
|Close-up of the Undead center front lines.|
|Skeletal giant smashes into a unit of foot knights.|
|The giant routed the knights next to Grave Crossing, but was|
shot by handgunners and routed during its pursuit,
because it was double disordered. We later determined it
probably shouldn't have pursued. Oh well.
The Undead rolled well for their sub-commanders and had several Undead lords who must have commanded troops in their previous "living" lives. The Undead infantry in the center lurched forward and occupied the village of Grave Crossing in the middle of the combat area. The skeletons would hold this village the entire game, grimly driving off all attackers from its narrow, muddy streets.
|Pike blocks rout away from the Undead lines after receiving|
missile fire and rolling poorly on a few Courage checks.
Those Undead skeletons are scary!
After Johne's unsuccessful efforts to rally the pikemen with her Blessed Banner (she rolled a 1!), the mounted knights finally made contact with the undead on the other side of the battlefield. An Uncontrolled Charge card sent even more impetuous knights charging into combat and two units of foot knights lunged forward to assault the skeletal defenders of Grave Crossing.
|Kingdom mounted knights charge into combat led by their|
King mounted on a pegasus.
|A timely Uncontrolled Charge sends the knights into a headlong|
charge against the skeleton infantry.
The loss of the Necromancer King sent a detectable wave of shock through the animated corpses of the undead army. The army lost 7 morale chips out of its beginning total of 20 and the tide began to turn against the Undead.
|The melees on the north end of the table continue as the|
skeletal chariots attempt to reinforce and turn back the armored
|The chariots ended up on the losing end of this 2 on 1 melee.|
By the end of the battle, the Undead were completely out of morale chips and their right flank was practically gone. While the Undead cavalry was making progress near the village of Grave Crossing, the Kingdom still possessed almost 16 morale chips and their mounted knights were poised to attack down the Undead lines and gather even more.
The Undead started off the battle well and good tactics combined with hot dice did early damage to the Kingdom's army. In the end, the Undead had trouble handling the strong melee power and extra-heavy armor of the mounted knights. The Undead monsters that could have handled them were deployed too far away on the battlefield. The Necromancer King won't make that same mistake again. And it didn't help that he exploded.
We all had a great time. These rules continue to amaze me with how much fun they are to play. Jed had a great time running his Warhammer Undead army during the game and after the battle, we talked for an hour about different ways the Undead could be played and deployed. Great, great fun.