Ebino – The Assault Begins


Turns 1 – 3

Biagino chanced a better look at the enemy, to ascertain what, if anything, he might have missed before. The wheeled petard was making progress up the road, but at a pace that meant it would be some considerable time before it reached the gate – time he intended to make use of as best he could. His keen eyes could make out that the men pushing it were already tired – even from this distance he could see the throbbing arteries at their throats as their hearts pumped hard and fast to feed their muscles with sanguine sustenance. The thought caused a pang of hunger to suffuse his being – it had been some time since he drank!

Several handgunners escorted the petard and in its rear the large regiment of spearmen had angled their march to bring them onto the road behind. Biagino’s earlier guess was proving more likely to be correct – they obviously intended to swarm the gate once it was broken.

It occurred to him that all the enemy could presently see were stone walls, as if they were attacking an entirely undefended city.

He wondered now whether the sight would encourage or worry them. The living always feared his kind – he remembered feeling that fear himself before receiving the gift of his curse. He laid his hand upon the stone wall, his mighty ally in this fight, and allowed himself a moment to recall his mortal years. What could be learned from his murky memories of that life which might help him here and now? Suddenly, however, his nascent train of thought was lost completely, as pain surged through him, sapping the unholy vigour that sustained his corpse-body in the material world. Clutching tight at the stone to prevent himself falling, he turned to look across the front of the gate at the wall upon the other side.

There was the witch, visibly reeling from a similar shock, and he knew full well what must have happened. Her amateurish bungling of the winds of magic, no doubt intended to supplement the ranks of the osseous warriors below her, had whirled uncontrollably from her grasp and so surged savagely as to sting both her and he!

Hissing in anger, he knew he been weakened by the hurt, before the enemy had so much as fired a shot or loosed a bolt! Why, he asked himself, had he not killed the witch as soon as he found her?

Shaking his head in an effort to clear it, he snuck another peek at the enemy. More time had passed than he had thought – his pain had been quite a distraction – and they were considerably closer than the last time he looked. The colossus strode ahead of all the rest, directly towards the moat. This intrigued Biagino, for he had watched the monstrous artefact move on two previous occasions, and knew its gait was stiff if steady, imbued with a sturdy deliberateness. He would be very surprised if it were able to cross the moat, for such a feat would surely require a nimbleness it did not possess?

Beside the colossus were two of the moat bridges. Perhaps the enemy intended their metal giant to step over one of those? This too seemed an unlikely prospect, for its weight would surely splinter the timbers to send its foot into the water and so topple the whole?

Lurching to one side, still dizzied by the magical harm, Biagino glanced instead at the enemy’s other flank. There the third bridge had made similar progress, pushed by the dismounted noblemen and flanked by more handgunners.

Just then he felt the enemy’s magic – not any harm from it, but merely its use. The etheric winds flowed through the foe, and he realised the fellow he had spied earlier walking behind the colossus, red robed with a white turban, was their strongest wizard. Perhaps it was that man who gave the colossus its purpose, directing its mindless activities? Again, however, he sensed a burning sourness to the etheric flow, just enough to reveal that the enemy had also suffered harm in their attempts at conjuration. At first, he smiled in satisfaction, but that did not last long, for it now occurred to him that something might be tainting the winds of magic, as if to make them noxious, so that his own attempts to cast magic might prove further detrimental to his health.

(Game Note: In turn 1 alone, in the Undead magic phase a miscast roll of 9 had wounded both undead magic users, then in the Living magic phase a similar miscast result wounded Hakim the wizard and all three priests!)

Two loud thuds followed the sound of the enemy’s cannon blasts, announcing the first of their artillery shots, likely intended for the gate but hitting the wall it that bore it. Splinters of stone spattered out to splash in the waters of the moat below. They would have to do much better than that, thought Biagino, then turned to look at the courtyard behind him. There his bambinos, commanded by his thralls, stood waiting, satisfactorily unperturbed by the sound of shooting.

Both Biagino and the witch now thought to cure themselves magically of the injuries they had suffered, but Biagino attempt was quelled by the enemy’s countermagic, while the witch simply fumbled the words of her incantation. No matter, he thought, there is plenty of time yet. At least the winds were becoming more favourable, or at the least, less dangerous to the caster.

Outside the enemy pushed onwards. Unknown to Biagino, Lord Alessio himself commanded his regiment of Sea Wolves, armed with great-swords and clad in plate armour, urging them on as they shoved their burden towards the defences.

Again, Biagino sensed the workings of the enemy’s magic, and although not all seemed to be successful, he knew that at least one of their spells had come to fruition. If he had been looking over the parapet just then, he would have seen the dismounted knights momentarily move with unnatural swiftness to push their bridge that bit closer to the moat. He did, however, look just in time to see all three moat bridges come crashing down to span the moat. The first had mercenary crossbowmen pushing it …

… the second was moved by the plate armoured footsoldiers …

… and the third was accompanied by the dismounted nobility of Portomaggiore.

The men at the second, led by their general himself, were champing at the bit to get at the walls, and swiftly pulled aside the bridge’s carriage to allow themselves to begin pouring over it immediately.

The enemy’s cannons now shifted their aim and lobbed two iron roundshots at the wall to the east of the gate. Once again, the shots buried themselves into the stone, flaring cracks from their points of impact, but the wall stood.

Now, thought Biagino, was the time to mount the walls. His command was unspoken, and indeed little more than a thought, for his bambinos and thralls were like unto marionettes for him to make dance as he pleased. Up went the Disciplinati di Nagash, but not onto the wall targeted by the enemy artillery, which no doubt the enemy intended to breach rather than assault with ladders. There his horde of zombies stayed put, to face whatever attempted to climb through any breach caused. Now the men at the third bridge could see Ebino was not undefended!

The witch too ordered her city garrison up, so that the enemy commander would be required to do work very hard if he was to take possession of the wall before him.

Embarrassed by her earlier failure, perhaps, the witch now wound together as many magical eddies as she could muster to cast the Invocation of Nehek, if only to restore herself to full strength, and so be best prepared to face the fight ahead. But the curse Biagino had sensed earlier still lingered, so that she lost her hold again on the slippery swirl of arcane energies and they spun instead into an uncontrollable maelstrom which once again knocked the (foetid) wind out of her. So befuddled was she by what had happened, she failed entirely to notice that this time, just like the last, several skeletons had indeed been raised to join the ranks of the regiment now climbing onto the wall.

Biagino felt the blow too, and as the pain of his fresh injuries fuelled the fury of his anger, he staggered on the battlements, struggling merely to stay on his feet. Somewhere in his mind, little more than a flicker within the whirling rage engulfing the rest, real doubt had crept in. Perhaps, said a whispered voice, today is not your time after all?

(Game Note: Biagino down to one wound. The witch was a more complicated matter – which began a debate concerning the rules. See the note below this post, but if you do, brace yourself for a full and frantic foray deep into the 8th ed WFB rules!)

As both the undead commanders reeled, Lord General Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore led his Sea Wolves in a ladder assault of the wall.

Yet this was the only bridge used for an assault. At the first bridge, the crossbowmen lugged the carriage away to allow a company of skirmishing bravi to cross, led by the Reman brigade’s commander Captain Soldatovya, while at the second the dismounted knights simply waited, watching as another roundshot shook the wall to the left of their bridge. Then they shuddered as a second, louder sound rolled over them, after which they turned to see that one of the guns had shivered apart, killing the crew and master gunner serving it.

(Game Note: Each gun had an ‘artillerist’ serving it, being the Tilean list equivalent of an Empire engineer, the second having bought their ‘mercenary skill’ at double the usual cost as per the rules. Both guns could thus re-roll misfires. Apparently, that does not always save a gun. Statistically I supposed it fails to save a gun 1 in 36 times, or fails to save an already misfired gun 1 in 6 times).

On the road the petard was gaining momentum, its pushers thankful that they had a road to traverse and not rough ground.

Behind it, the spearmen came on too, with the famous Reman Morrite priest ‘Fighting’ Father Antonello at their head, along with the Portomaggioran nobleman Marcus Portelli.

Biagino was vaguely aware of the flow of magic channelled by the enemy, but so dazed was he that he only managed to dispel one of their conjurations, and even then, he knew not what he had prevented. One spell that did get through was a Lore of Light blessing which enlivened the climbing Sea Wolves and perhaps was the reason the fully pate armoured Lord Alessio was the first to top the wall, great hammer in one hand, and commence the first close combat of the assault.

Despite all the advantages gained when defending a wall against ladder climbing attackers (Game Note: And there are a lot!) the attackers, filled with hatred for the foe (being divinely inspired by the presence of the Morrite priest, Father Dado Bendali), enspelled to move with unnatural speed and with their leader armed with an enchanted warhammer, rained down blow after blow. The fleshless defenders began tumbling from the wall in droves.

Turn 3 Completed. Turns 4-8 to follow!

……………………………………

Appendix to Turns 1 – 3 (for players who like detailed analysis of the rules)

Game Note
The miscasting witch (a level one necromancer) had been on her last wound, but just before I removed the figure as dead, I read the rules. There I was surprised by what I found and did not remove the figure! I began the inevitable debate with the players, which I fully expected as I too had initially believed the witch’s death was surely inevitable, but luckily I had just joined the ‘Eighth Edition For Life’ forum. So, looking for back up from a more knowledgeable and entirely disinterested source, I posted the following in the “Get the Rules Right” section of said forum …

Here is a ruling I have (as GM) just made in the play-by-email game we are running right now.

A Vampire Count’s army level 1 necromancer had only 1 wound left after a previous turn’s miscast had caused a S6 hit on him.

The necromancer now irresistibly casts ‘Invocation of Nehek’. The Lore attribute ‘Curse of Undeath’ says that “When a spell from the Lore of the Vampires is successfully cast, the wizard (or another friendly model with 12 inches) instantly recovers a single wound lost earlier in the battle”. The WFB core rulebook says (p.33) “A spell cast with irresistible force automatically succeeds…” so it is a ‘success’. And (p.34) it says that one should “… first resolve the effects of the spell the wizard was attempting to cast … [&] The casting player can enjoy the effects of his spell before something … bad happens to the wizard …” so the spell’s effects are sorted before rolling on the miscast table.

Thus I ruled that in terms of ‘rules as written’ (RAW), exactly in the order stated in the rules, the necromancer casts the spell successfully, instantly recovers her wound (part of the effects of the spell which the rules say she must ‘enjoy’ first), then when she then rolled 9 on the Miscast table and received another S6 wound, wounding her on a roll of 2, she goes back to 1 wound.

I checked and rechecked, made sure of the actual wording, and this seemed right. The non-vampire player however, disagreed, saying “As it is a lore bonus that happens after the spell” BUT as there is a GM in the game he then graciously wrote “but that is an argument for over a cold beer so happy with [the GM’s] view of the rules”.

I was very glad we could carry on. And [was] reminded how having a GM can really help (although we once lost a player from the campaign over his annoyance at army lists, etc).

I had tried to fully research the decision and felt I had gained a level of clarity that meant I didn’t even think we should ‘roll to decide’. However, I knew that my [own] initial perception before reading all the rules was that he surely must die and so I had dreaded the debate …

Fidelis Von Sigmaringen, self-styled “Attorney-at-RAW”, who has helped me several times on other forums, reassured me by posting the following …

Your judgment was correct. As specified in their respective rules, different Lore Attributes take effect at different times. It can be:

  • when the spell is being cast by the Wizard (e.g. Wildheart, Kindleflame)
  • when the spell has been cast succesfully (e.g. Lifebloom)
  • when the spell is being resolved (e.g. Metalshifting, Exorcism, Roiling Skies)
  • after the spell has been resolved (e.g. Smoke and Mirrors, Life Leeching).

It can even be later in the same Magic phase, when a spell is being cast by another Wizard. Indeed, it can even be in a later Magic phase (Roiling Skies in the case of Casandora’s Comet per FAQ – an error IMHO).

The relevant rules have already been quoted above:

Vampire AB p.60: “When a spell from the Lore of the Vampires is successfully cast, the Wizard (or another friendly model within 12 “) instantly recovers a single Wound lost earlier in the battle.”

BRB p. 34: “When irresistible force occurs, first resolve the effect of the spell that the Wizard was attempting to cast. As the spell has been cast with irresistible force, the casting player can at least enjoy the effect of his spell before something almost indescribably bad happens to the Wizard and everyone nearby. Once the effect of the spell has been resolved, the Wizard now needs to roll 2D6 on the Miscast table to see what happens to him.”

As far as I can tell, the BRB does not specifically state that the Lore Attribute as such is a spell effect, but it is indicated in the description of Roiling skies (BRB p. 497): “When a spell from the Lore of Heavens targets an enemy flying unit or a model with the Fly special rule, the target suffers , D6 Strength 4 hits, in addition to any other effects caused by the spell” (Italics mine).

In any case, the Curse of Undeath Lore Attribute takes instantly effect when the spell has been successfully cast, ergo before the spell resolution, ergo before rolling on the miscast table.

Thank you, BTW, to DamoB for the use of his Empire figures for this game. Huzzah!

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