Our second weekend of the Vampire Hunters Empire in Flames campaign was a blast. Our intrepid warbands had to make their first stand in defense of Nachtdorf, which ended very badly, offset by our most successful coffin hunt scenario so far. One of the powerful vampire Strangulf’s five coffins was sanctified with blessed water! Only four resting spots remain! Click through for a full report of the weekend’s carnage.
Our campaign picked up this weekend with the night phase of the fourth campaign turn. Our first weekend of play is described in an earlier report: http://hobbyblog.wargameweaver.com/mordheim/vampire-hunters-campaign-report-one.
We flipped over the event card for night phase of turn four, and beheld the title “Attack, my Children!” The first assault on Nachtdorf by the Vampire Forces was begun. As this was the first Town Attack scenario of the campaign, I will describe it in detail. For future reports, I will probably just summarize scenarios. So, if you wish to see the bloody deeds that took place, read on! Click on any of the pictures to get a full-sized view.
We setup the town on our gaming tables, this time with only two ruined wall sections, one in the south and one in the east, as the gap in the north wall was repaired during earlier campaign turns.
Most of our warriors were executing rest actions for the night. My Sisters of Sigmar were peacefully resting in the Temple of Sigmar in the middle of town, with the NPC Father Jonas awake and tending to the fevered dreams of our two vampire-bitten townies. Michael Stamps’ Dwarf Treasure Hunters were piled into the blacksmith’s hut next to the town pond, chewing garlic sausages and muttering about “Talls”. Michael Kingsbury’s Kislevites were sleeping off an evening of sampling the local ale at the inn, near the north-west corner of town.
But some defenders were alert and stalwart. The NPC Captain Diedrech and his three spear-men patrolled the north and west walls, while our four recently trained town militia members guarded the gap in the south wall under the supervision of militia sergeant Lowenherz and town Burgermeister Kaufmann. My Sisters of Sigmar captain, Mother Madira, patrolled near the gap in the east wall along with one of her hench-sisters.
The next step was to generate the forces assaulting the town. This is done by rolling a pool of d6. For a night attack, four d6 are rolled per player, so that gave us twelve d6. There is a bonus for each Influence Point that Strangulf (the principle vampire) has established in any campaign area. As he had four IPs so far, that gave us sixteen d6 to roll to determine our opponents. Stamper and Kingsbury rolled eight dice each, and managed to roll half fives and sixes. This was very bad for us, as the ones through fours would be treated as random core forces, but the fives and sixes provided a number of options for the undead: a single five or six can be spent to gain two random core forces, field a random command model, or provide two siege points.
In addition, just like Mordheim exploration rolls, multiples of certain numbers in the pool for grant the besieging vampire forces special bonuses. In our case, four fives gave them the “Absolute Command” ability, which allows them to set up anywhere they like along edges instead of a random edges for each unit. Four sixes were also rolled, and this gave them a free six siege points.
I chose to keep six of the 5+ dice for command units, and convert two of them to four extra core units. This gave the vampire forces six command units, twelve core units, and six siege points. Random rolls for the command units went incredibly bad for the players, and they ended up with Strangulf himself (with two free Fell Bat escorts), and all three of his powerful mistresses and their escorts, along with two necromancers for the remaining two commanders. Since Strangulf and his three mistresses each come with two escorts, the six command units turned into a total of fourteen models. Worse, Strangulf and his mistresses are loaded with special abilities and are much stronger than a standard Mordheim vampire.
After rolling up the core units (a mix of zombies, skeletons, dire wolves, and giant spiders), the total undead forces assaulting Nachtdorf numbered forty five! They also had four siege ladders to scale walls. The defenders numbered forty, about three-quarters of which were starting the scenario sleeping, meaning they would miss the first turn entirely and count as knocked down for the second.
I deployed the vampire forces in three groups. One group with the siege ladders would target the intact north wall of the town. This group was divided into two subgroups, one commanded by the imperious senior vampire mistress Carmilla (with two dregs as escorts) in the northwest corner, and one commanded by the beguiling vampire mistress Mircalla (with two wolves as escorts) in the northeast. Carmilla’s group included an extra necromancer commander.
The next group was lined up on an edge near the crumbled gap in the east wall of the town. This group was commanded by Bonecaller, Strangulf’s chief necromancer whom we had taken out of action and given a withered hand in the previous campaign session. Strangulf and his two bats would line up to the east as well, but really in the southeast corner and somewhat distant from Bonecaller’s force.
The third group contained mostly spiders and wolves, as they were the most distant from the a wall and would also have to get across the river. This group was placed under command of the winged and vicious vampire mistress Milagra with her two harpy escorts.
The stage was now set for the assault to begin. With each vampire turn, a d6 is rolled and added to prior results. When thirty is reached, dawn approaches, and the vampire forces must retreat at the end of that turn. The player goal is to hold out till this retreat. The vampire goal is simply to rout the allied town forces and run roughshod over the unprotected town for as long as the remaining night allows.
The vampire forces spent the first couple of turns advancing on the town, while the sleepy defenders tried to assemble themselves into some sort of order. With each turn after the first, the vampire forces also get a roll for a single reinforcement group, which may come in at any random location on the board. This only happened once during the battle, but it was on their second turn, and three ghouls raised from the shadows of the roof of the gatehouse in the west wall. Captain Dedrich and a single spear-man were running through the gatehouse below to reach the defense of the north wall, and the ghouls heard these noises and dropped down through a trapdoor onto the poor lads.
With turn three of the vampire forces, the action began in earnest. Two dire wolves charging through the gap in the southern wall were remarkably taken out of action by town militia under the command of Sgt. Lowenherz. Milagra and her two harpies flew over the adjacent wall and landed on the top of a repair scaffolding to observe the struggle of these puny humans briefly before choosing a victim.
In the west gatehouse, the ghouls that had seemed to drop out of nowhere leapt upon Dedrich and his spear-man. The spear-man fell, but Dedrich held on. On the nearby northern wall, the skeletons and zombies had placed their ladders and reached the summit of the wall. A spear-man fell in this struggle, despite the advantageous defensive position.
In the east, Bonecaller’s forces entered through the ruined wall without opposition, but found themselves faced by a group of cranky dwarves interrupted from their sleep, assembling near the blacksmithy and preparing for a counter-charge. During the allied turn three, the dwarves charged into this force, and their engineer Sparks managed to take a dire wolf out of action.
During the fourth vampire forces turn, Milagra and her harpies swooped down on the melee just inside the gap in the south wall. Milagra sunk her claws into a hapless militia member and tore him practically in two, while her harpies screened her rear and flank. To make matters worse, Strangulf and his two bats gained the roof of the tower in the southeast corner, giving Strangulf a commanding view of both the melees at the south and east gaps.
The battle at the east wall gap began to turn grim for the dwarves. A second dire wolf overcame the dwarf hero Popsi, and the brave dwarf hero Spam fell to the bite of a spider. Bonecaller, whom the allies had taken out of action and given a withered hand in a coffin hunt scenario the previous play session, cackled with unsurpassed glee.
With the allied turn four, the battle with Milagra’s forces at the south wall turned in favor of the town. Sisters Nadja and Salyra reached the battle, and Nadja took a harpy out. Father Jonas, the town priest, let loose a SoulFire spell from behind the ranks and wounded one of Strangulf’s bats, blasted a spider into oblivion, and even wounded Milagra herself, who shrieked with rage and marked the priest for future shredding. A brave milita member splatted a spider between its many eyes as well.
At the east end of town, the dwarves counter-charged Bonecaller’s forces. The trollslayer IDieSoon cleaved a wolf’s skull, while fellow trollslayer KillMeNow wounded on of Strangulf’s bats that had swept down on the battle. Unfortunately for the dwarves, the engineer Sparks was taken out of action by a skeleton – the third dwarf hero to fall to Bonecaller’s assault. This would not put them in rout check mode, as the rules for this campaign treat all allied forces as one for purposes of the rout check threshold, but once the threshold is reached each allied group composing the force must roll independently to see if they rout.
In the west gatehouse, Captain Diedrech finally fell to the ghouls. The Kislevites began streaming up interior stairs to help defend the northwest corner of the wall. A necromancer was knocked down from a blast of Anton’s (the Kislevite captain) pistol, and fell from the wall, knocked down at the feet of the liquored-up Kislevites. Look, a present from above!
During the fifth undead turn, the forces led by the slinky Mircalla on the east end of the north wall began to work their way around the interior of the wall to the battle at the east gap. Unfortunately for them, zombies were leading the way. Being stuck behind zombies on a narrow ledge leads to grumpy undead.
In impatience, Mircalla scaled down the wall like a spider, and her two wolves sprung down beside her. She was in the north-east end of town, civilians huddled in the darkened buildings, with no one to oppose her. She spied Sigmarite Sister Winifred following her Matriarch down the east stairs to reinforce the dwarves, both oblivious to her presence in the shadows. She used her powerful charm ability to ensnare Sister Winifred’s mind, and directed her at the back of her own Matriarch. Having sown this seed of confusion, Mircalla turned back to the defenseless buildings in front of her.
And the battle for the east end of town needed reinforcing badly. Bonecaller struck down the trollslayer KillMeNow, the fourth dwarf hero to drop, leaving only three dwarves (yes that’s right, there are currently seven – we may not let Stamper hire any more dwarves until he has a female hired sword that wears a frilly dress and goes by initials S.W.). The dwarf henchman Frito (in fact, the only henchman in their warband) refused to say die, and clobbered a skeleton with a tear in his eye for his fallen comrades. Perhaps some of them would prove to be dead, and he may be promoted? One never knows.
In the south, the wounded Milagra picked up a town militiaman that was screening her from Father Jonas, broke him in two, and hurled the pieces aside (yes, this would later prove to be a fatality). Baron Von Strangulf, having observed the effectiveness of the priest’s insulting spell from his perch on the southeast tower, flung a soul from his cloak at the accursed holy man. Father Jonas collapsed, stunned, to the glee of the nearby Milagra.
In the north-west, the fallen Necromancer stood up, and realized that he was in a spot of trouble as the surrounding Kislevites growled. Above, the mistress Carmilla, at the rear of the forces pushing toward the western end of the north wall, brandished her Skull of Terror, a magical device that can force All Alone tests at a -1 leadership using the flame template. The blast of terror sent the blind Augur, who had come to support the battle, scurrying back down the stairs along with a Kislevite henchman. One of Carmilla’s skeletons bashed at the remaining spearman of Diedrich’s, and the poor lad fell wailing from the wall. The ghouls scuttled out of the gatehouse towards the fight on the wall, hungry for more savory human flesh.
During allied turn five, Father Jonas crawled away as Sister Salyra charged a harpy screening Milagra and took it out of action. The Burgermeister finished off the fell bat that Soulfire had wounded earlier, and a remaining militia-man dispatched a spider. Sgt. Lowenherz bravely charged Milagra herself, in an attempt to allow Father Jonas an escape.
In the east, the trollslayer IDieSoon took the other bat out of action. Under the north wall, the Kislevite captain Anton skewered the necromancer that had blundered into their midst, and Gustav along with several Kislevites engaged the ghouls that had emerged from the gatehouse.
Turn six for the Vampire Forces would prove to be the beginning of the end for the allies. It began well. On the north wall, Kislevite warrior Timofey took a zombie out of action and Sister Simone dropped a skeleton. In the north-east corner of town, Mircalla and her wolves entered a building and began to terrorize the civilians inside (this is a scenario mechanic that may cause civilian fatalities that reduce worker points and morale, and also may increase the number of bitten). The charmed Sister Winifred fortunately failed to harm her matriarch, as Mother Madira slapped her to her senses.
In the east, a skeleton charging Sister Superior Hildegarde fell to a whip crack. In the south, Sgt. Lowenherz payed the price for protecting Father Jonas, as Milagra hurled him aside and out of action.
This brought the allies to their combined rout total, and each group would have to begin making rout tests starting with allied turn six.
The Sisters of Sigmar immediately failed their test at the start of allied turn six, leaving the less than half strength dwarves to hold the east entirely on their own, a few NPCs to hold against Milagra in the south, and the Kislevites to deal with Carmilla’s assault in the northwest. And absolutely no one to oppose Mircalla or her forces in the northeast. Things were looking very grim.
Gustav, the NPC scout, charged a ghoul on the northwest tower and took it out. Timofey, however, fell to a ghoul. The allies could definitely not afford to trade out of actions at this point.
The remaining three dwarves at the east wall gap charged bravely into battle, ganging up on Bonecaller and a few of his nearby helpers. Frito slew a zombie, continuing his campaign for promotion should one of the fallen heroes prove to be deceased.
In the south, the situation continued to worsen as the last remaining militiaman fell to a spider, leaving only Father Jonas and the Burgermeister to hold the wall.
During the vampire seventh turn, Mircalla and her wolves continued to wreak havoc inside town buildings in the northeast that would be assessed at the end of the scenario. At the east gap, the dwarves resisted counter-charges well, with Big Boss and IDieSoon dropping zombies, and Frito cementing his campaign for promotion by bouncing a beer mug off of BoneCaller’s head and dropping him for the third time in the campaign. Garrrrrr!!!! There’s only three of us left, but we will cut you all off at the knees!!!
At the south gap. Milagra charged the Burgermeister and slashed the stalwart leader of the town across the ribs with one blow, and pummeled him into unconsciousness with another, taking him out of action. Finally! Father Jonas who had dared to wound her was mere feet from her with no more flunkies to get in her way!
With allied turn seven, the raging dwarves finally routed. All three of the little tikes. Hard to do, as their leadership is very high, but they certainly put up a good fight and took their blows well. This left only the Kislevites to hold the entire town, as most of the NPCs were also down. Since the two remaining NPCs were important for the campaign, after some discussion we decided to have the Kislevites voluntarily route rather than try to hold out the two or three more turns that would probably be required before we hit the total of thirty on the scenario counter. This would be punishing in terms of morale for the town and the bitten track, as their is a penalty of three morale for a town defense scenario rout, and the bitten dice bonus for the night is doubled. But, we avoided the risk of our very important priest or scout NPCs being lost.
So, on to injury rolls. Amazingly, despite the high number of allies taken out (around twelve to fourteen), there were only three fatalities: all three town militiamen that had fallen defending the south wall. Probably most of them were torn to pieces by Milagra, the most feral of the vampire mistresses.
Concluding the campaign turn, our Morale fell to about the halfway point, and the number of bitten townies jumped up to seven. Morale at this point is the danger as far as losing the campaign goes.
For campaign turn five, we all agreed to spend the day phase recovering rather than push out on another coffin hunt. For one thing, all of our rest actions the previous night were interrupted, so going out in the day would fatigue those warriors. We decided to plot most of our heroes on the Train Militia action, to replace the three brave warrior citizens that had fallen the previous evening.
A boost to player moral occurred at the top of the night phase for turn five, as Sister Isolde returned in the wagon with armor, weapons, and even a Warrior Priest of Sigmar all acquired on her shopping trip. We dug in for the night, hoping not to get hit a second time in a row. The vampire night event card proved to be “Dark Studies”, which granted Strangulf three cards from the Necromantic Spells deck. This deck contains campaign effects for him, such as altering the weather on a turn. Probably trouble down the road for us, but not an attack on the town again or additional Influence Points for him in any of the game areas, so a sigh of relief from us at this draw.
For day six, we primarily allocated our player warriors to a Coffin Hunt at the “Bachmeir Baurenhoff” game area. This location is dominated by a fortified farmstead, occupied by orc bandits, and has a historical problem with banshees from the Eerie downs and even a famous local banshee known as “Cold Margaret”.
I’ll just summarize this scenario ;-). Several of our models were taken out of action, but no fatalities, and it proved to be our most successful Coffin Hunt to date. We divided into three groups, and each group was able to search several of the twelve coffins scattered throughout the board. We staked our first minor vampire, which raised town moral for us by one point, and located and ruined one of Strangulf’s five coffins containing his native soil. This is crucial, as to ultimately eliminate or drive off Strangulf to win the campaign, we have to be able to corner him.
The most dangerous opponent in this scenario was Cold Margaret herself, who blasted a Sister of Sigmar henchsister clean off a bridge and into the river. The banshee wail power we are playing with is taken straight from warhammer, designed to inflict enough wounds to damage units, so directed at a single model it is entirely capable of eliminating a multi-wound hero in a single shot. I’m considering weakening this power a bit for Mordheim / Empire in Flames, but for the moment we will keep it as is. It certainly makes a banshee a model that alters your entire strategy for a scenario.
Below are the pics from the campaign, including KillMeNow the trollslayer’s despearate attempt to get stuck into the barricaded orcs before the scenario expired.
Rules posted hopefully within days, and another campaign report after our next play session (about a month, most likely).
Thanks for reading!