Second Round, Easterlings vs. Watchers

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Second Round, Easterlings vs. Watchers

Postby BaronDeSade » Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:09 pm

Captain Tai-Shan fell face first into the hard, dry earth. The bronze scales of his armor scraped loudly as he stretched his arms forward. He pressed his forehead against the ground. Tears ran from his eyes.

“I offer no excuse for my failure, *Efendim Nazgul!*” he cried out. “Take my worthless life, if it be your will.”

Khamul the Easterling loomed over the prostrated officer. The desert wind stirred the ragged folds of his black cloak, revealing pieces of ancient bronze armor, green with verdigris. Shadows swirled about his form like an aura of dark flames. With every breath, wisps of inky smoke rose from the utter blackness within his hood.

Khamul’s sword seemed to leap from its scabbard with a scream of rusted iron. The other Easterling warriors, already giving the Ringwraith a wide berth, took an involuntary step back.

He rested the blade on Tai-Shan’s shoulder. His voice was a harsh rasp. “Only a fool breaks his tools before beginning to work. On your feet, Captain, there is much work to do.” He sheathed his sword.

Tai-Shan rose and saluted Khamul. “*Efendim Nazgul,* you are so generous to your unworthy servant. Tell me your will, that I may make it be.”

Khamul turned. He raised his right arm, extending one bronze-armored finger in the direction of the ruined city. Pools of blood and bronze-mailed bodies lay in a direct path to the sagging gates.

Khamul said a single word. “Karna!”


Kushir of Harad knelt in prayer along with the Watchers of Karna. His Haradrim had spilled their blood alongside the Watchers, and it was a sign of their growing respect for him that he had been allowed to attend their service to their dead.

A chill wind blew through the stone chapel, carrying with it the scent of grave earth. Without hesitation, the Watchers rose from their prayers and drew swords or readied bows. They began streaming out of the chapel; Kushir’s Haradrim looked to him for guidance.

Kushir felt an inexplicable dread hang heavy in the air. The Watchers were bound to defend the city of Karna both from bandits without and the unquiet spirits within, yet their behavior now spoke of a dire threat.

“Master Ishmrah!” he called to the High Priest that led the Watchers. “What is happening?”

The priest turned, his eyes narrow and nervous. “Ready your men, Hetman Kushir, for what may be their final battle. One of the Nine approaches Karna.”

Kushir’s swayed where he stood. One of Sauron’s Lieutenants, here? What priceless treasure could Karna hold that Sauron would risk unleashing the undead upon Harad?

He called to his men to follow him. He didn’t want to find out.


The Easterlings advanced in narrow columns. At the front of each was a swordsman, holding his rectangular shield high against the renowned archery of the Watchers. Behind him came an Easterling archer. The Easterling shooters were not so skilled as those of Karna, nor did they use the poison-tipped arrows that were common to Harad, but each wore protective sheathes of bronze scale-mail, and could thus resist more injury than the Watchers could. Behind the archers came the most veteran of the Easterling infantry: the spearmen. Through years of practice and many wars, the Easterling veterans were the most skilled spearmen in all of Middle Earth, and to be among their ranks was a source of great pride. Behind them rode the noble Kataphrakts on their heavily-armored warhorses. Only the richest scions of Rhun could afford the sturdy warhorses and their armor, but again, the armored horses were well protected against Watcher archery. Finally, Captain Tai-Shan rode at the right hand of Khamul. From the rear, they could direct the battle, and when an opening presented itself, charge forward to smash the enemy.

The Watchers of Karna were drawn up in a long battle line with their archers in the rear and center and two long wings of sword-armed Watchers backed up by Haradrim spearmen on either side. As the Easterlings began to approach, the Watchers started firing great volleys of arrows at them.

The arrows fell thickly among the Easterlings, but the majority of them either missed completely or splintered against bronzed shields. Even a minor wound could be fatal, though, and one swordsman cried out and clutched at his foot where an arrow had pierced his boot. Moments later, he slumped over choking from the poison.

The Easterlings slowed as they came within range of their own archers. With great deliberation, they took aim and fired, slaying four Watchers. Their foes fired back, slaying four Easterlings, and the battle became a bloody mess as the Easterlings ground forward, depending on their heavy armor to see them through, while firing back and inflicting whatever casualties they could. Casualties were fairly even on both sides, but the Watchers had many more men than the Easterlings. Even so, the Watchers were tied to the defense of the city gates, and could not fall back any farther than where they already stood.

Kushir was hesitant. He wanted to charge the Easterlings all at once, and to overwhelm them in a single crushing blow. The presence of the Ringwraith unnerved him, though. What havoc could Khamul’s foul magics wreak upon his force? Finally, he ordered his right flank to wheel forward to a right angle to his main line. If the Easterlings continued their grinding advance, they would be hit from both the front and flank.

The Easterlings did not continue their advance, though. Khamul’s piercing cry split the desert air as he made a sweeping charge from the rear of the Easterling formation and smashed into the very tip of the Watchers extended right flank. A Watcher swung his twin scimitars at Khamul, but the Ringwraith’s sword darted between them and pierced the man’s chest. The shadows that surrounded Khamul leaped onto the man like fire to a wick, and the wounded Watcher shrieked in agony. He fell, his skin crumbling away to gray ash, his now-loosened skeleton collapsing within his robes.

“Aiiyaa!” cried Ismrah. “A demon; destroy it, Watchers!”

The Watchers of Karna had been trained to feel no fear of the supernatural horrors within the lost city, and now three of them charged at Khamul with a fierce battle cry. While they were doing this, a valiant Haradrim spearman rushed past them to try and bring down the Kataphrakt behind Khamul, who was carrying Tai-Shan’s war banner. The loss of the banner would be a terrible blow to the morale of the Easterlings, perhaps even to Khamul.

Captain Tai-Shan did not intend to let this happen. “Kataphrakts!” he commanded, then spurred his warhorse forward. The enemy spearman turned away from the banner in a futile attempt to defend himself, but Tai-Shan struck the man’s head from his shoulders with a single strike of his sword. Invigorated with bloodlust, the Kataphrakts continued their charge into the Haradrim, slaying men with thrusting swords and crushing hooves.

The three Watchers attacking Khamul were highly skilled swordsmen, but they could not hope to match the Ringwraith’s millennia of experience. They fell back from the fury of Khamul’s swordsmanship, one of their number groaning as he crumbled into ash.

Now that the melee was joined, most of the Watchers dropped their bows and rushed forward with flashing scimitars. Kushir led them into the middle of the Easterling’s formation, where the Haradrim reaped a bloody toll upon the Men of the East. Out on their right flank, though, Tai-Shan and his Kataphrakts were easily cutting down the unarmored Watchers.

For a moment, it seemed like Kushir’s men would simply overwhelm the Easterlings, but then an icy chill seized the Hetman. He staggered, his muscles dead and his nerves burning from Khamul’s spell. He covered his eyes as darkness overwhelmed them.

The Watchers had seen such sorcerous tricks before, and rushed forward to defend the Hetman. They struck at the Easterlings fiercely, driving them back with terrible casualties.

Khamul pulled his sword from the chest of a disintegrating Haradrim. “Your force is broken, Captain!” he rasped at Tai-Shan. “Pull your men back before they are all lost.”

Tai-Shan glanced bitterly across the battlefield. It was true; most of his army was slain and those that remained would simply be overwhelmed if they continued to fight. “Retreat!” he shouted. “Fall back to the camp!”

Kushir’s vision was returning. He could see the Easterlings retreating. He raised his scimitar with a cry of victory, and was about to order a pursuit when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Ishmrah shook his head, and Kushir understood, with disappointment, that the Watchers would not leave Karna to pursue the Easterlings. He had some spearmen left from his own force, but he didn’t think that they would be enough to defeat Tai-Shan and Khamul both, especially as the fierce desert sun was beginning to set. To fight at night, against a Nazgul, would be inglorious suicide.

“Come,” said Ishmrah. “Our service for the dead is unfinished, and now there are more of our brothers who must be aided on their way out of this life. We must also gather and burn the bones of those who were corrupted.” He gestured at the dusty heaps of robes and bones that were the remnants of Khamul’s sorcerous attacks.

Hetman Kushir made a sign of peace to show he understood. No one could permanently kill one of the Nine, anyhow, and it was his fervent hope that Khamul thought of him as just another enemy commander, and not a personal enemy to be stalked in the dark watches of the night.

-End-

Tactical Notes: This was a major victory for the Haradrim, as my force was reduced below 25% before theirs was broken. Overall, I played much better than my last game, and my cavalry charge on the Haradrim right flank, led by Tai-Shan and Khamul, was devastating. Sadly, the rest of my army did not fare so well, and my infantry were simply drowned in a mass of two-attack-and-fight-4-having fanatics. My archery was initially successful, but my luck ran completely dry after the first two rounds of shooting. Even so, my casualties to the massed, accurate poisoned shooting of the Watchers were relatively light. I was especially pleased with my success using Khamul as I have had difficulty making much of this character before. At the end of the battle of fourteen turns, he had only used up four points of Will, the rest having been recovered by leeching the Haradrim.

I have been thinking a bit of how to make a more intelligent approach to this Haradrim army, and I would like to try again when it I can.

Avante!

Baron deSade
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Postby BrentS » Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:14 pm

Sheesh, you guys are bringing battle reports to a new meaning. I loved reading it.

Again, I'll ask, what was the scenario? Meeting engagement again or was it Clash of Piquets. I don't have LOME handy so I can't remember the victory conditions of those two scenarios.
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Postby BaronDeSade » Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:33 pm

Thank you. I wanted to do meeting engagement again, and the goal is to reduce the opponent's army to 25% while maintaining your own unbroken.

Cheers,

BdS
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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:52 pm

I stole one of Gary's Wood Elf strategies and did the old sit back and pepper the opponent and force them to come to me. While it had mixed results the fact that my line extended almost three feet across in double ranks makes it hard to out flank unless I want it to be. I made an error that allowed Tai-Shan's cavalry force to get around my flank with a Heroic Combat, but I had reserves in my center to help contain and ultimately stop that attack.

Had Tai-Shan's archers brought something other than target blunts I'd have had more casaulties earlier in the game. His archery rolling was truly horrendous. It does mean I need to be more careful about exposing my lines to enemy archery.

EDIT: One of the advantages of having names for your heroes is it becomes easier to write in a narrative style. It also makes reading battle reports more entertaining.
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Postby Gartl » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:23 pm

If you are lucky, Steve will never come to the realization that he should sit back and make you come to him. With his heavier armor he can win an archery duel.
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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:30 pm

No kidding. ;)
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Postby BaronDeSade » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:20 pm

Funny, from where I was, it looked to me like Tim's archers were doing better than mine, and that I would have lost a battle of attrition.

BdS
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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:24 pm

BaronDeSade wrote:Funny, from where I was, it looked to me like Tim's archers were doing better than mine, and that I would have lost a battle of attrition.

BdS
Perception is half the battle. Of course you were taking the worst of it that battle, but I've already made my suggestions for future engagements. I'm really going to hate giving advice if you beat me in a GT though. ;)
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Postby Drunken Mick » Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:24 am

You keep saying you hate giving advice but every time you turn around... welll... you give advice. It's your nature. You've at least gotten to be the bride on occasion, so you've got that going for you; well and all of our immense respect. You're almost like the Tim Conway of the board. Fookin hillarious but it's just not your show to run. We don't really have a Carol so to speak but you keep all of us Harvey Korman's in the spotlight and progressing our "careers".
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Postby Gartl » Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:06 am

Funny, from where I was, it looked to me like Tim's archers were doing better than mine, and that I would have lost a battle of attrition.


You didn't begin the battle with the intention of sitting back as you began moving towards his line immediately. So what if dice went bad for a few turns, they would eventually go the other way. You should have sat back with shieldmen in from of the archers, hidden your cav from danger and focused on eliminating his archers and nothing else. Eventually he would have had to come to you and you could have worked his numbers down. You only have two advantages, armor and cav. You are using your cav well, but now use your armor to your advantage. By advancing you are playing to his strength, hth combat.
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Postby Gartl » Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:07 am

When it comes to LOTR Tim has a hard time keeping quiet :roll:
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Postby BaronDeSade » Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:18 am

Tim, it's just in your nature to give advice, and if someday that results in Kushir's stretched face being used as a skin for my Mordor Troll's war drum, then it's just destiny. :P

Gartl, I already know how to play attrition warfare, and you note that I haven't optimized my army for attrition warfare. Instead, I have been working on maneuver warfare. I'll let you know when that yields some results. :wink:

Cheers,

BdS
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Postby Gartl » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:29 pm

I'll let you know when that yields some results


It has been yielding results, your getting crushed over and over.
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Postby Gartl » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:29 pm

Or maybe you were hoping for different results? :wink:
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Postby BaronDeSade » Tue Jul 15, 2008 4:32 pm

No wonder you are bored with playing battles: you've mastered attrition warfare and no one has challenged you with anything better. Well, I have been thinking hard about manuever warfare, but, never mind...

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