Topic: Bernhard becomes the hero of his first battle

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  • #13715

    Bernhard had been a beer-swilling bar-room brawler, and was reputed to have high max fatigue, high bravery and high melee skill. As with so many other prize-fighters these days, it turned out that his max fatigue was a mediocre 105, his resolve a mediocre 42, and his melee skill a barely-better-than-average 50. All his other qualities were thoroughly average, as well. No wonder his wife was unimpressed. Still, I had a decent excess of loot, and I armed him with a shield, some padded leather and a thick helm, and gave him a lovely flail to play with. But then his max fatigue was barely above 70, and I was worried that he would be left without enough energy to lash out at his opponents.

    We quickly secured a contract to drive off some bandits – a fine opportunity to finally get another perk for my veteran with over 60 melee and ranged skill but only 67 max fatigue and only two bag slots.

    Most of the enemy were seasoned raiders wearing heavy mail, and their numbers equaled ours. One of them bore a giant axe that could smash a shield in one strike, and two of them were ominously armed with billhooks. There was a bit of high ground within two turns’ reach behind me, and most of my company had pathfinding skills and some sort of ranged weapon, and so I withdrew my men strategically towards the higher ground, and the bandits (as I had hoped) followed after us.

    Another of my veterans, also with over 60 melee and ranged skill, was ready-armed with a crossbow, and so I had let him wait turn before retreating. Fortuitously, a bandit in super-heavy mail with no shield or helm had stupidly surged forth with his morning star into my veteran’s direct line of fire from only two or three paces. So I let forth a bolt before withdrawing three paces, and it hit home but did disappointingly little damage.

    On the next turn, most of my men with missiles/crossbows made it onto the pockets of high ground, and most of the melee men made it onto a tile directly in front. As usual, however, the practicalities of moving around trees/shrubs and through comrades meant that not everyone could be perfectly positioned. Also, the bandits had advanced to our left, not to our right as I had anticipated, and my new crossbowman (accurate but poorly protected and without compensatory perks) was positioned on the left-most pocket of high ground with no one to protect his flank.

    I had expected that the enemy would be at the mercy of my bows and javelins from the high ground on the next turn, but the heavily mailed axe- and billhook-bearers were obscured by shrubbery or accomplices so that the hit chances were well below 50%. Annoyingly, it was only the bandits’ few thuggish hangers-on who were within direct range, and I didn’t want to waste ammunition on them, when a simple spear-thrust would suffice.

    Ominously, one of the enemy billhook-bearers was within three tiles of my poorly protected new crossbowman, and with a free tile ahead of him to his right. I had waited turn with one of my men – Bernhard – and could move him into that spot, but this would mean breaking my ideal formation. Worse, it would mean that he would be faced, not only by the heavily-mailed billhook-bearer, but also (from high ground) by the man with the spiked mace and super-heavy mail, and also by
    the giant axe murderer.

    But I hadn’t recruited Bernhard to hang back from battle. I had recruited him to get into the thick of it and accumulate experience points (and to lower the risk of my veterans being cut down in their prime). And his skills had been disappointingly average and could do with a quick upgrade. Thus did it come to pass that, on this day, Bernhard would become either a human sacrifice or the hero of the battle …

    He made a good start. I moved him forth into the position of peril, and decided to strike at the giant axeman to his left, since the axeman was in melee with a multi-skilled messenger with low hit points and just one precious shield. Despite the 40% odds, it was a good strike and the axeman took damage to his mail and his flesh, but not nearly enough to threaten his life or morale. On the next turn, my multi-skilled messenger did further damage that dropped the axeman’s morale to wavering.

    The rest of the next turn or two was a near-disaster. Bernhard formed a shieldwall and missed with another strike at the axeman. Then the axeman shattered Bernhard’s shield, and the billhook-bearer used the rotation skill with a thug to move out of Bernhard’s reach while remaining within reach of Bernhard with his horrific weapon. It seems that bandits are able to use the rotation skill without having to acquire tier I defensive perks first? Also, the other enemy billhook-bearer had hidden in bushes behind a tree and suddenly showed up within two tiles of my multi-skilled messenger, and a thug from that side found a path through to my poorly protected crossbowman.

    Without a shield, Bernhard was at the mercy of the spiked mace coming from the high ground, and he was stunned. Then he was struck by the bastard billhook-bearer and was left with no armour and only 5 hit points.

    The plus side of the billhook-bearer’s rotation was that he was now in the direct line of fire of my multi-skilled veterans from the high ground. The first bolt didn’t do much damage to morale or hit points, but the second did, and a javelin struck home as well and the billhook-bearer was breaking and missed Bernhard on his next turn. By some miracle, the man with the spiked mace missed Bernhard as well, twice, from the high ground, and Bernhard recovered from his stupor and slew the axeman (already further wounded by the messenger) and then (scorning the low odds) struck the maceman’s scantily scarfed head to leave him low on hit points and at breaking morale. The bastard billhook-bearer was soon caught and killed by one of my veterans.

    My poorly protected and imperiled new crossbowman did have a shield in reserve, and he took it out and knocked back the bandit thug. The thug was unable to advance back into melee with my bowman, since he had been locked in melee by Ivar, who had moved around from the opposite flank. Ivar, my miner with over 100 hit points, was clad in heavy mail from head to toe and had very low max fatigue but still quite high initiative. So I had advanced him through the defence tree, not the utility tree like most of my men, and had given him Dodge, as well as Colossus and Battle Forged, and had levelled up his initiative, hit points and resolve.

    The enemy nearly regained the momentum. My multi-skilled messenger had moved into melee with the spiked maceman, but he was suddenly slain by a single strike from the other billhook-bearer. Bernhard had barely enough energy for a single strike on his next turn, and the spiked maceman’s turn was immediately after his, but Bernhard again hit home and the maceman tried to flee but was slaughtered in an instant. The remaining enemy to our right were then being rounded up and slaughtered by my veterans.

    To our left, the thug had been killed by Ivar, and the crossbowman had injured the other billhook-bearer, who had then been locked in melee by Ivar. Amazingly, another single strike of the billhook destroyed over half of Ivar’s armour and took over a third of his hit points, but he retained his composure and finished off the foe with a simple stab of his spear on the next turn.

    So, well done to Ivar and the crossbowman, and even weller done to Bernhard, the hero of his first battle.

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