This battle, between the High Elves and Orcs, was a rematch of an earlier battle. The first Battle of Caerfen saw an orc host (of dubious quality) routed by the Elven defenders. This ignominious defeat was a stain upon the orcs reputation as raiders without equal, and so they had hatched a plan for revenge. The ensuing campaign saw numerous orc armies achieving success in a series of battles (The Battle of Holden Pass, Long Ridge and the famous clash at the Watch Towers) and converging upon Caerfen once again, confident of victory. The contest this time was further to the north of Caerfen than the first battle- this was to allow more of Long Ridge (the high ground close to Caerfen) to be included.
The Orc Mob (commanded by my good self):
7 units of orc horde (arranged into 2 units of 6 and 4 single units)
3 units of archers
3 units of orc spears
6 units of mountain orcs
5 units of wolf riders
4 units of chariots
2 units of giants
2 units of orc flyers
5 generals and 1 hero general
Points total 391
Number of stands, including generals, 128.
Break Point 64
The Elven Host (commanded by Mark)
6 units of archers
5 units of spears
3 units of heavy cavalry
4 units of chariots
3 units of dragons
1 unit of giants (represented by a unit of mercenary minotaurs)
1 unit of treemen
2 bolt shooters
4 generals and 1 hero general
Points total 390
Number of stands, including generals, 94
Break Point 47
Soon, if not held with vigour, the town of Caerfen would be despoiled and its wealth used to fill the coffers of orc chieftains. The strident braying and pulsing rhythm of war horn and drum carried this doom to the defenders as they formed up to withstand the impending assault. Elf Deployment
The war lines of the elven host, having arrived before the orcs had fully mustered, were drawn up swiftly. The entire force was arrayed to the north of the marshland lake that dominated the centre left of the eastern edge of the table. Mark’s forces were arranged into three lines; the first of archers, artillery a single unit of chariots and the Treemen, who loomed with violent intent in the centre of the line. The second line had the giants, spearmen and most of the elven cavalry and chariots, ready to move forward in support of the missile troops to the fore. The rear held the remaining cavalry, chariots and all the dragons. Three of the elf generals were placed to command the centre, whilst the flanks each had a single general. Orc Deployment
The orcs assembled between two areas of woodland, their forces stretching across the centre and left flank. The right flank was left unoccupied (I had decided not to press across on the right, due to the lake, marsh and woodland on the elves side of the table potentially disrupting any flanking manoeuvres).
A strong force occupied the lower ground looking towards Caerfen. The serried ranks of the orcs here were to press along the road and occupy the town. They were to use this strong defensive position as a springboard to launch an attack designed to turn the elven flank, and then push up onto the ridge to the north. The orc hero general commanded the force on the ridge itself. Sat astride his fearsome mount, with his personal guard of a unit of giants, he had all the mountain orcs, along with most of the cavalry, ready to drive hard down the length of the ridge.
I placed my archers and spears in combined arms formations in the front line of my force; their task was to keep Mark’s dragons at bay whilst the army advanced. I also chose to place some of my orc horde as single units- I thought to use them as cannon fodder to absorb some of the inevitable (and usually devastating) arrow storm.
The first turn saw the orcs advance en masse, the cavalry holding pace with the infantry. The right flank reached the outskirts of Caerfen, looking towards the elven bolt shooters. The mountain orcs on the left flank slogged through the heavy woodland, fast approaching a narrow defile that cut across the ridge top.
The elves responded by pushing their infantry forward in column, speeding past the treemen and artillery. The cavalry showed restraint, maintaining their support of the general advance. The threat of the orc archers kept the dragons firmly to the rear of the army.
Mark’s response was to establish an unbroken line of archers and chariots along the entire width of the ridge, anchored strongly in a handy woodland. He pushed the bolt shooters forward again to pass the bridge, intent on giving them a wider arc of fire, dragons kept close to cover this advance whilst the orc generals around Caerfen watched with interest.
The orcs next turn opened with Mark feeling happy his missile line was in place. A piercing rain of death awaited any who attacked now, and his next round would see his artillery able to fire; they seemed safe as the only orcs able to reach them would be charging in column and would no doubt be driven back by his cleverly placed covering fire. What could possibly spoil this cunning plan? Well, the orcs for a start!
Seeing an opportunity, I launched a strong attack. Raging orcs smashed into Mark’s line across the lower ground in front of Caerfen and extending up onto the ridge, although I did stop short of assaulting the woods behind which the treemen lurked (I was not ready to face them yet).
Mark elected to flee with a unit of chariots on the ridge rather than face the assault of Mountain orcs- the remaining elf archers were not too impressed with this act of self- preservation.
The volley of missiles drove back a unit of mountain orcs on the ridge (causing the loss of a stand and disruption- even with the presence of the orc hero general and his giants just behind them), and a unit of wolf riders recoiled. Instead of trying to protect his artillery, he chose to shoot at both of my flying units- disrupting both. Ouch. All other fire was ineffectual; the aggressive charge obviously catching the elves off both guard and aim.
Mark’s response was to counter attack the orc units that had disrupted his line. He was able to focus his efforts on the two orc units in column adjacent to the bridge, destroying both. The Mountain Orcs that had driven back the archers on the ridge wiped out one of these, driving deeper into the enemy ranks and coming face to face with the elven hero general and his mercenary minotaurs (oh dear).
On the elven right flank, Mark pushed his missile line down the slope of the defile and targeted the orcs on the ridge above. The resulting volley saw units of Mountain orcs taking casualties and three units disrupted. The elves retained a defensive unit in the woods on the ridge, although the Treemen moved up to threaten the orc lines.
The elves braced for impact as the roiling mass swept towards them. Mark once again elected to flee his chariots away from the action, leaving the infantry to take the full weight of the orc attack alone. Bows thrummed, their deadly arrows cutting down and pushing back several units with unerring accuracy (I was particularly miffed when I put two units of orc chariots in to the attack across the defile on Long Ridge, thinking their A2 armour would protect them- Mark however rolled ridiculously well, even without the presence of his chariots, blunting the assault).
With the elves beginning to reel from the continued ferocity of the orc attack, Mark again rallied his forces and pushed them forward, desperate to reform the line and repel the savage greenskins back to the dark lands from whence they came. Elvish troops hurled themselves into the fray, seeking to surround and isolate orc units which had penetrated furthest into their midst. I found myself facing several tricky combats due to Mark committing his reserves into the line- the orc hero general and his unit of giants faced such a situation, along with several other units.
To balance things out however, I felt confident in defeating Mark’s hero general and the mercenary minotaurs with my second unit of giants alongside a unit of wolf riders. Unfortunately, the missile round saw the wolf riders flee disrupted and the combat evened up. Fierce fighting saw a unit of elf spears ridden down at the bridge, but other than this small victory the orcs paid dearly for their earlier success. The orc hero general fell, the Treemen crushed a unit of wolf riders, and orc forces were driven back on their left flank with heavy losses. The jubilant elves surged forward- all thought of forming a cohesive line lost- the orcs seemed to be breaking…
The orc generals ordered all units forward to deliver the hammer blow that would break the elf resistance. Orc cavalry again smashed into the elves near to the defile on the ridge top. In the centre, the Treemen were surrounded, soon to fall, and the orc forces could once again drive onwards, this time with the elves unable to recover.
Now all I had had to do was weather the missile round. The remaining elf archers fired with sickeningly unerring accuracy and manged to render impotent my cavalry attack (Mark’s missile fire all game had been ridiculously good, and there seemed to be no respite for my forces even this late in the battle).
My hopes now lay on the combat phase. I rolled with confidence, but it was sadly misplaced. The Treemen refused to back down and locked my units in melee. My remaining giants were disrupted and forced to flee with only two stands remaining, and I inflicted minimal damage on Mark’s forces. A disastrous round which left my remaining forces badly exposed to counter attack. Far from seizing the centre of the field and the initiative, I had little hope left of victory.
What a great game! Congratulations to Mark for the victory- the prosperous future of Caerfen is at last assured. What went wrong? Mark helpfully pointed out that my abandonment of all subtlety in the attack played into his hands. He was able to focus missile fire by keeping his chariots and dragons out of harms way, and even though I made gains in my attacks, it wasn't consistent along the line, and so he was able to isolate and snuff out threats before I could fully exploit them, I certainly wasted my flyers and never really utilised my own missile troops to try and disrupt his forces. I, of course, have to blame the dice as the only reason for the defeat- it was certainly not due to my dodgy tactics or decision making, perish the thought.