The Battle for Guderhaven Homestead - A WHR Battle Report
Updated: Sep 17
At Grimskald we are avid miniature and board gaming fanatics, and for us it started way back when we were teenagers, playing Warhammer Quest, Necromunda and building armies for Fantasy and Scifi battles. We owe our current hobby passion to those early GW games so it seems only right to pay tribute to our beginnings.
We still collect our 'old school' games and have the past couple of years been loving Warhammer Renaissance a community supported amalgamation of the best of old Warhammer Fantasy Battles 4th through to 7th editions. It is kept going by Balder Asmussen and his minions, and we are very thankful for his efforts. You can find all rules and edited armies (made to balance out the old herohammer extremes) on the group!
So we decided to have a battle and document it in the old style of Battle Reports from the 90's White Dwarf era (it also gives me a break from the busy work of designing Torch & Shield). Chris would be my opponent - one of the painters behind some of the Torch and Shield studio minis
There is a little campaign running about a chaos invasion led by a mutant chaos orc called Urgaz Mawgutz. So we thought this was a good opportunity to participate and dust off the old armies - and not so old.
The Battle of Guderhaven represents a situation where an Imperial column en-route to assist Kislev against the invasion camps outside a popular homestead. (Aside from the pre and post game thoughts, the game is written from the Empire player perspective)
Hector Lubenwitz was combing his moustache as dawn started to break. He had woke up early, and could not return to sleep. He had a dream, a nightmare really. In it he moved about a blood soaked field crazed and roaring in agony. His own soldiers fled from him, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not speak their names. When he looked down at his hands he woke up, soaked in sweat. Everything in his being told him that he should leave the camp, turn back to the Empire, find his family, and stay with them... But he could not do it. He was the Grand Master of the Knights Panther, not some lily-livered serf from Bogenhafen. No he would stay and face what ever was coming.
And something was coming - he was sure of it. There was a deep dread rising in his gut that he could not shake. He placed the comb down and looked into the glass. At least if his last days were coming he would die a knight.
Suddenly, sentries sounded the alarm. "Something is moving in the woods..." a man shouted. Hector Lubenwitz strode out of the tent to see soldiers scrambling to arms. It was too dark to see anything in the woods from here but across the way he could see the Battle Wizard Uzial. Their eyes locked for a moment, and Hector could see the same dread he felt on the magisters face...
The Grand Master knew that Chaos had come upon his forces. They were going to try to smash through and create havoc. With Waaagh Mawguts not far behind, the Empire support column needed to hold out here or defending Kislev would fail before it began. Lubenwitz drew his blade and started shouting orders, "To arms men, to arms!"
The scenario is called Encirclement from the older 2021 edition rulebook. Here the flanks of the attacker are advanced and the defender must hold the centre of their deployment zone. Players need regiments of 5 or more models to claim it.
The table was set up with terrain as below:
The Empire forces would hold the camp, while the Chaos forces would emerge from the woods.
Now for the Armies:
I didn't really have a strategy per se, I really just wanted to give my Steam Tank a run as I had never used it before. So I practically built the force around that. My Knights Panther Grand Master took a suitably heroic set of items to assist him in vanquishing Chaos beasties - The Potion of Strength to add 3 to his Strength for one turn, and the Venom Sword to turn each wound into D6 wounds - that would deal with any nasty creatures Chris may have. I also gave him the Charmed Shield to ignore the first hit he took.
The Battle Standard had Drums of Swift Reform, which would allow my cavalry to reform before and after moving - very handy.
I also took a Master Wizard. I knew Chris would be bringing his new Slaanesh Daemon force and I would likely face a nasty magical onslaught, so I gave him two Dispel Scrolls, a Power Scroll and the Seerstone to extend the range of his spells. I decided to let him draw from the Battle Magic cards and got a bad draw. Eventually I chose Fireball, Destruction and Blast - unfortunately, all very similar spells, but at least I could deal out damage.
I also took an Engineer hero with a Hochland Long rifle.
My plan was to hold the centre with the Dwarves, weaken the enemy with shooting and then ride them down with the Emperor's finest knights.
What could go wrong!?
To say I am excited for this game would be an understatement. I've craved to unleash a Slaanesh Daemon force on a hapless foe since I first laid eyes on them in the mid to late nineties. There's something about four attacks and a 24" charge that just speaks to a 15-year-old. My Warhammer tactics have always been "the best defence is a strong offense" so this is pretty much my dream army.
It is the maiden outing of my force however so I've not had any experience to work out the nuances of the army, so I'm relying on inevitably getting my charges off and unleashing 16-24 attacks on those puny toughness 3 humans. I don't have any static combat res so pure kills is the name of the game.
I'm bringing everything I have so there's no room for tinkering, it's Stillmania in its simplest form. You can't tailor your army to match your opponent if you only have a finite number of minis.
Tactically I'm aiming to use the Keeper of Secrets to support the daemonettes with the Daemon Prince on war machine duty. I need to remember to fly high though. I've played too much 6ed, so every game I feel frustrated by my flyers limited range forgetting that I can fly high. (Totally expecting to forget again though)
In summary: full attack, bring plenty of dice and let's see if we can't knock this game out before afternoon tea....
I had to deploy my whole army first (ouch) and chose to keep the centre strong, with the great cannon protected. The Engineer would snipe whatever he could. The wizard hid in an archer regiment. I kept the Dwarves near the hill to protect from being flanked.
All of Chris' units were very fast, so I knew I was going to be charged every time.
The first turn was largely uneventful. The Slaanesh Host moved forward into positions where it would be able to charge next turn, but too far away for even my Knights to possibly sneak a lucky charge themselves. The Daemon Prince dropped right in front of the archers on the Empire right flank - if they endured the terror test next turn, they would then need to survive a charge from the evil thing.
Amazingly the archers did not flinch at the sight of one of the exalted of Chaos and held their ground.
The Empire movement phase seemed suicidal, but there were limited options. Rather than get charged in my deployment zone and deal with potential overruns, I sallied out to meet the daemons. I would get charged, but I hoped my characters and armour would keep me in the fight. I used drums of Swift Reform to place my main knight unit in front of the daemons advancing on the left flank, and used the Steam Tank to block any centre approach.
The Great Cannon sighted up the keeper of Secrets and a almighty boom sent a cannon ball flying true straight toward it, but despite hitting the daemon perfectly the Keeper seemed to be unfazed (or perhaps just got aroused!).
The Steam Tank joined in the fusillade, the engineer funnelling a steam into the main cannon . But despite being on target, the ball failed to bounce lodging in the grass in front of the monster. The remaining Empire shooting was equally ineffective, failing to hit the targets, or ricocheting off the daemons mysterious aura.
The magic blew weakly and no spells were successfully cast in the first turn, which the wizard Uzial was grateful for.
A screech went up from the daemon host and they thundered into the Empire troops.
Turn two commenced as expected, with many daemon charges. The Mounted Daemonettes and Fiends on the left took the bait and charged the large Knights Panther unit - hoping for a quick rout. The Keeper of Secrets would try its luck against the Steam Tank, and the other Fiends of Slaanesh charged the Grand Master and his smaller Knights unit.
Lastly, the Daemon Prince charged the archers.
The Daemon slew three archers and they broke. Despite their slow pace the Daemon Prince was too busy defiling their corpses and failed to run them down.
Frantic scenes outside the Buderhaven camp...
On the left flank the Slaanesh forces traded blows with the Knights and the Battle Standard ending in a draw. The Greater Daemon of Slaanesh eagerly tore into the Steam Tank, inflicting two wounds.
On the right, the Knights and the Grandmaster battered the Fiends of Slaanesh, taking no wounds in return. This obviously displeased Slaanesh, as the monsters vanished in a puff of steam.
In the Magic Phase the Keeper of Secrets tried to grant Klaus, the Empire Battle Standard, the privilege of turning into a Chaos Spawn. Luckily, the Wizard Uzial used a Dispel Magic Scroll to thwart the attempt.
The Empire turn two saw the counter charges!
The Steam Tank reversed and ploughed into the Keeper of Secrets again, keen to give it some of its own medicine, and the Gryph Charger cavalry executed their planned flank attack into the Fiends on the left flank.
The Daemonette Cavalry on the left were wiped out but the even with the assistance of the Gryph Chargers the Knights were still just holding on unable to kill off the Fiends.
In the Empire shooting Phase the Daemonette infantry copped a hail of fire, which was then compounded in the magic phase as the Empire Wizard hit them with a Blast Spell - when the dust settled there were only 4 of them left.
In the Magic Phase the Keeper of Secrets tried to turn Uzial into a Chaos Spawn, but the Wizard used his last Dispel Scroll to prevent it...
On turn three things started to get unpredictable.
With few other choices and hemmed in by Empire Knights and Dwarfs, the daemonettes charged the stunties in front of them. To lend support and head off the oncoming knights, the Daemon Prince flew over beside the combat.
These Dwarves are from our upcoming Torch & Shield range repurposed for fantasy battles.
Despite a disgusting about of attacks and hits, only a single Dwarf fell to the assault. In response the Dwarf Champion slayed a single Daemonette. Despite the thrashing in combat resolution the Dwarfs gave them, the Daemons decided to remain in the mortal realms for a while longer.
The Fiends on the left flank and the Knights continued to batter each other, but neither side would yield.
The Keeper of Secrets tried to wreck the Steam Tank again, but failed to harm it.
When the Magic Phase arrived the Keeper pulled all of the winds of Chaos to aid it, and with Total Power, the Wizard Uzial was unable to resist the forces directed at him! He became a muttering Chaos Spawn much to the horror of the Archers he was standing among!
In the Empire turn, the Cannon opened fire on the Chaos Spawn that was Uzial, but only managed to explode an Archer... oops.
Bertrand the Engineer shot another Daemonette with his Hochland Long Rifle, reducing the unit to two models but that was all that could be managed. Bertrand feared there were still too many for him and the cannon crew to kill.
In the Combat Phase, the Gryph Charger Knights and the Battle Standard finally destroyed the Fiends on the left flank. The citizens within the homestead cheered - surely victory was close.
The Steam Tank drove into the Keeper of Secrets and crushed it beneath its wheels finally.
The beast disappeared into pink vapour only to reappear on the right flank on one wound (with a lucky winds of magic Escape card) right behind the Grand Master and his Knights Panther.
The mounted Demonettes fighting the Dwarfs cut down a rank worth, but the Dwarfs remained resolute and refused to run, killing one of their foes in response.
The two daemon lords charged into the Knights and the Grand Master with a crash of steel. Only the Grand Master and his standard bearer remained after the attack, but Lord Lubenwitz swallowed his Potion of Strength and unsheathed his Venom Sword, he would take the Daemon Prince's head!
Unfortunately for Hector, he only hit once, and when he rolled his D6 wounds, scored only one.
Subsequently, he and his remaining banner bearer fled sixteen inches away from the daemonic duo, outrunning them both. Never let it be said that Hector Lubenwitz could not ride like the wind!
The Dwarfs and mounted Daemonettes continued to beat each other, but it looked as though the daemons would run out of bodies before the Dwarfs would.
The Chaos Spawn Uzial ate an Archer but they held their nerve despite being horrified.
In the Empire turn the Steam Tank used as much steam as it could muster to turn upon the pursuing Greater Daemon and finish it off. Unfortunately, it was an inch short of its target! Curses, that was bad news.
The Battle Standard rode over to lend support although it was difficult to see how he could help.
The Great Cannon overshot the Keeper of Secrets and though Bertrand hit the beast with his Long Rifle, the shot could not penetrate its hide.
In the Combat Phase, the Chaos Spawn ate several more Archers and they decided to flee the battlefield. In better fortunes, the Dwarfs cut down the last of the mounted Daemonettes.
The Magic Phase started to feel like the Chaos Spawn phase as now the Grand Master Hector himself was transformed into a gibbering beast of chaos!
To make matters worse, Slicing Shards of Slaanesh tore two cannon crew apart and the Steam Tank was fixed in place with a Bondage of Slaanesh!!
Things started to look dicey for the Empire.
The Empire was on the ropes, but victory could still be achieved. The Greater Daemon looked to finish off the Immobilised Steam Tank and charged it. The Keeper must have been angry as it inflicted 3 wounds on the ironclad machine, wrecking it for the glory of chaos.
The Daemon Prince killed the last knight with the Chaos Spawn hector.
The Daemonettes on foot finally managed to charge the Cannon Crew and Bertrand. The Engineers concerns were realised as the two daemon creatures chopped him and his cannon crew member apart.
The Chaos Spawn that ate the Archers, turned its attention toward the Gryph Charger Cavalry but was beaten back.
Just when things seemingly could get worse for the Empire, the Keeper of Secrets chose the Battle Standard Klaus to turn into a Chaos Spawn - with no magical defences to speak of Klaus burst into a mass of mutated flesh!
In the Empire turn there was only one glimmer of hope left - take the objective! The Dwarfs and Archers moved toward the centre area as fast as they could, knowing the Daemonettes were less than 5 models and unable to challenge them.
The Gryph Charger cavalry killed the Chaos Spawn Uzial, finally giving the Wizard peace.
We rolled to see if another turn would be played, and the fates decided that we would play six.
It seemed very likely the Empire would be able to get into the zone and snatch the objective with one of three units, but Chris had a few tricks left up his sleeve!
First the Daemon Prince charged and routed the Gryph Charger cavalry, running them down with ease and doing some unspeakable things to them...
Then the magic phase came and the Winds of Magic Blew strong. The keeper of Secrets used a Bondage of Slaanesh to immobilise the Dwarfs. Next the creature used a Beam of Slaanesh to halve the characteristics of the Archers and make them Stupid!
It was over, there was no way to get into the objective zone, even though it was only 3 inches away! The Guderhaven homestead was doomed!
Lubenwitz screamed, but no scream came from his many mouths - only a gurgling hiss. His hundred eyes could see so much, all around him, and more colours than he dreamed had existed. It would have been beautiful if it were not for the intense agony. His bones seemed to split and divide every few seconds, and his skin peeled and flapped in the wind, though the day was still. He searched for his warriors, someone that could end this suffering. Hector crashed into the homestead, smashing his way through the entrance into a room full of screaming travellers. Hector willed his body to cry out but it responded in another way. The spawn Lubenwitz leapt forward and tore the screaming people apart.
Sometimes you win by superior tactics, sometimes you win by superior army composition and sometimes, just sometimes.....you win because Slaanesh forgets he's not Tzeentch and on a winds of magic turn where you get 3 cards, you draw Total Power AND the Escape card, and turn a sure loss into an epic.
I'll be telling my grandkids about this game! The first half was just me whinging about that bloody toughness 10 steam tank and lamenting that I couldn't get my Keeper of Secrets and his "no armour saves" claws into combat with the 10000 knights Dan brought to the battle as they ground my mounted Daemonettes and Fiends into the dirt. Turns out all the s4 attacks in the world count for nought when your opponent has a 1+ armour save. Enormously frustrating.
Then it all turned. Clearly my decades of Tzeentch worship were not forgotten by the changer of ways. Turning the Empire Wizard into a Spawn gave me magic superiority and be damned if the Keeper wasn't infinitely more dangerous on one wound than he was on 8 wounds in combat with that damned tank.
Proceeding to turn every character in sight into a Spawn afterwards seemed the logical progression of events (laughs maniacally). Finally seeing the Steam tank off in one final combat was enormously satisfying given I spent turns regretting entering combat with it in the first place, just to do the SAME THING mere turns later.
To get 4 power cards in the final turn to power my two anti movement spells to prevent Dan taking the objective on the final turn seemed like vindication.
I had no business winning, but by that point not winning seemed more egregious.
A true Epic, that highlights why we play with dice and random cards. On maths alone I was getting slaughtered. But even the dice and cards couldn't resist the allure of Slaanesh....prepare your puny bodies, Slaanesh is ready to pleasure your mortal bodies with crab claws....CRAB CLAWS!!!!!!
Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory!
It was a great game overall. The Empire was in control until the Wizard was turned into a Chaos Spawn and then things became progressively harder.
Magic can be fickle in Warhammer Renaissance, but when it works it will cause your opponent pain.
I did not expect three out of four of my characters to be turned into Chaos Spans though...
My shooting was very disappointing. Causing just a couple of wounds throughout the game, but I put that down to bad luck.
I played by far the most of my Warhammer Fantasy in 6th Edition where magic was beaten down hard. Playing Warhammer Renaissance allows you to do some amazing things with magic, and made for a particularly stunning end to the game.
Playing different games is useful for a game designer as it keeps the wheels turning in your head about how and why things are a certain way during the game. Warhammer was made for dramatic moments, and though this lessened in later editions, Warhammer Renaissance has kept it in focus.
Well that's all from me, back to working on Torch & Shield!
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Post edit - we forgot a change to the rules in that in Warhammer Renaissance, the Escape card only works in the magic phase. Never mind, it certainly made the game more cinematic!