Warmaster Wagon Train

Escorting the wagon train is often an interesting change to the standard ‘last man standing’ wargame. This is the scenario from the Warmaster Revolution ruleset so has probably been through some degree of prior testing. Chaos guard the wagons with Empire trying to destroy or capture them. The terrain has been chosen to try and match that suggested in the rules.

The chaos forces deploy first so the Empire can see where they are and optimise the ambush. Chaos puts the best cavalry in front so that even if they fail to receive orders a half move ahead will keep the column moving faster than an infantry half move. Two big infantry blocks cover either flank and marauder cavalry protect the rear.

Chaos: 2000

General 125

2x Hero 160

Sorcerer 90

4x Chaos Warriors 600

4x Chaos Marauders 240

3x Marauder Horsemen 270

Chaos Knights 200

2x Chaos Hounds 60

2x Chaos Chariots 190

Harpies 65

This list builds on that used in the previous battle. The successful marauder and warrior block has been doubled up. The chariots hit hard but are brittle. Swapping both units for another unit of knights might be preferable.

The Empire plan is to use the cannon to disrupt the chaos centre, knights break through from the rear and a halberd block blocks the main road. The 2 shooting blocks are deployed where they can get off good shots and will not be blocked by their own melee units.

Empire: 2000

General 125

Hero + Sword of Fate 85

2x Wizard 90

4x Halberdiers + Skirmishers 280

Handgunners 65

2x Crossbowmen + Skirmishers 160

3x Crossbowmen 165

4x Knights 440

2x Pistoliers 190

2x Helblaster 100

2x Cannon 170

Steam Tank 130

The Empire army is neither fish nor foul. The halberds are very average but there are not enough of them to make a decent tar-pit. The knights are the best units but more are needed for serious hitting.

Both armies field more commanders than they need but this gives them the flexibility to move around separate groups. The chaos front and Empire blocking units are both led by Generals. This is to give a better chance of these groups acting under orders. If a General fails an order then the whole army cannot receive more orders. With a little luck and some daring a General can issue a few orders and then stop before failing any orders. The remaining commanders can then continue to issue orders although the General can issue no more orders that turn. This ensures that a crucial part of the army will move at a possible cost of less important elements being left behind.

Chaos moves forward putting out flyers and wolves to block the Empire’s missile fire. Units of both are driven back and confused. Part of the chaos flank has to make way for the flyer’s retreat but they avoid being confused. The Empire front swings in to try and block the road. The knights set up a line to threaten the chaos rear.

Chaos forces shift forwards but leave a rearguard line to hold off the Empire knights.

Shooting pushes back the chaos flanks. The Empire front closes in on the road

The knights make a mess of the rearguard. Pistol fire pushes back the chaos infantry to the front. There are no losses but in the retreat the elite chaos knights are forced to make way. The chaos knights are confused and will not be able to scythe through the Empire infantry ahead.

Chaos forms a new desperate rear line. The wagons move forward but lack any covering units from the fire of the Empire crossbows on the hill.

The wagons are not quite close enough for the Empire crossbow to charge them on initiative and their hero fails the order roll to shift them. Nevertheless Empire missile fire eliminates 4 wagons. This does not get the Empire any victory points but prevents chaos from gaining points by moving them off table. It would be better to melee the wagons but in Warmaster a unit must shoot at its closest target that it can see. Elsewhere the Empire tightens up the holding line and moves further up on the chaos rear. For the first time in the game the steam tank passes an order to move.

Chaos make a strong effort to push through the Empire centre and possibly break Empire morale. They shatter the majority of the line and move up units to block the crossbow fire on the remaining 2 wagons. Unfortunately the last halberd unit and a rogue skirmisher still block the road and the chaos general fails an order roll to move the wagons off-road.

Empire halberds destroy the remaining wagons. They have the option to capture them but with a strong chance of chaos troops getting them back. The Empire knights continue to slice through the chaos rear.

With turn 6 over the game could continue for 2 more turns but chaos have no wagons to move off and they are 1/2 a unit from breaking morale. The larger Empire force is nowhere near breaking so an Empire victory is declared.

With the terrain all set up and the armies out of their boxes it would be a shame not to swap sides and have another go. Only the highlights are presented below.

The Empire have the problem that their artillery is very slow moving and vulnerable to being taken in the flank or rear by flyers or cheap cavalry. To counter this the Empire artillery is at the rear and sides of the defensive box. Knights are at the front to try and punch through any Chaos blocking units. With the Chaos army being so much smaller than the Empire they are not able to threaten so much of the column. Both sides begin the game by activating their generals to ensure that key units move up. Both blunder after their first activation role so turn 1 is effectively a mutual write off.

As the game progresses the Empire artillery gets shots off on Chaos units before those units are able to move away from the board edge. 2 units are destroyed as they are unable to retreat. Chaos should have hidden the flank threat behind a hill (not failing their activation rolls would also have helped). On the plus side a group of chariots and Chaos knights bursts through Empire pistols holding the other flank. The Chaos knights have a clear pursuit to attack the wagons. They decide not to destroy 2 wagons but hold on as there are more points to be earned for looted than destroyed wagons.

The Empire pile all they can in an initiative charge into the chaos knights. They wrap around the knight’s flank with halberds but those knights are tough. Chaos wins the combat and to rub it in pull back putting their knights further out of the way for the next turn. Empire knights have some success pushing back on of the Chaos blocking units by hitting it in the flank. The 2 rear wagons are stuck on the road as their path had been blocked by the Chaos knights.

The Chaos knights evade right back. This does not pan out well as the Empire crossbow and hellfire gun line moves up on them and eventually drives the unit off table with missile fire. As the chaos knights are no longer in play their wagons count as destroyed not looted. The rest of the Empire army pushes forward covering the remaining wagons while chaos blocks the road. Units of chaos marauders and knights are badly mauled by Empire knight charges.

The chaos line breaks through the few Empire knights on the road and captures more wagons. Chaos has now suffered enough losses to break their army and must withdraw. Chaos has 6 victory points (2 looted wagons and 4 destroyed). Empire has 5 (chaos broken and 1 wagon that will be saved). An army that has broken cannot claim a win so the final result is a draw.

To conclude a worthwhile scenario. Success depends in part on the army list so is best played twice with swapping sides or without forewarning using ‘best effort’ lists. There are interesting puzzles involved in choosing which commands to activate so the units do not get in each other’s way and some progress is made even if the activation dice go against you. The issues is slightly eased with the Warmaster Revolution rules that allow some limited movement if an initial activation is failed but not blundered.