Battle Report - Chaos vs Undead

This was a 2,000 point game of Warmaster, featuring the forces of Chaos (mortals) and Undead (aka Tomb Kings). I have provided some basic rules commentary for those unfamliar with Warmaster.

A word on the armies: My Chaos mortals are a notoriously hard force. Chaos warriors (mounted or on foot) are the best troops in the game. They hit hard and can soak lotsof damage. Regrettably they are expensive, so most warmaster Chaos forces tend to be on the small side, meaning that they have a low break point (when the opponent wipes out half your units, he wins and the game ends). In this battle I took 2 units of chaos knights (my hammer) 2 units of marauder cavalry (soft and squishy) 2 units of chariots (pack a punch but die rapidly soon after), 3 units of chaos warriors (like knights but on foot) 3 units of Marauders (soft and squishy), 1 unit of harpies (useful but die rapidly). On the character front I took 2 heroes, a wizard mounted on a dragon and a general. Characters can't fight independently but the wizard on dragon adds a big bonus to any unit it joins, the flip side is that if the unit joined dies, so does the character.

With this force I had beaten Roberts Tomb Kings before, but he had returned the favour the week before. I break the army into 5 brigades, harpies by themselves, then two brigades of infantry each backed by a brigade of cavalry. To move troops you group units into brigades of 4 units or less, then each successful order allows the whole brigade to move (20cm infantry & monsters, 30cm cavalry & chariots).

The battlfield was split by a river, featuring a bridge and ford, there were 2 small villages and several forests. My plan was to send my inferior infantry brigade (2 marauders, 1 Chaos warriors) up the left side backed by my hardest cavalry brigade (2 chaos knights, 1 Marauder cavalry) while my other infantry and cavalry bridage raced around the right flank to catch the undead napping (or stand limply awaiting command ). I reasoned that even if my holding force on the left was wiped out, which was highly dubious considering the rep of chaos knights, I would only loose 6 units and still not loose the game (7 units being my break point).
The Undead meanwhile have thousands of cheap infantry units. In fact they outnumbered me almost 2:1 but the consequence was that their troops are awful in combat. Even the Undead cavalry, which in Warmaster tends to punch well above it's weight, had performed laughably in our previous battles. The real dangers in the Undead were the chariots, the towering Sphynx which can soak awesome amount sof damage and the Bone Giant which causes Terror and packs a real punch. The war machines are not too shabby either, with bolt throwers capable of destroying entire infantry units in a single turn and the dreaded Skull Chucker which can render the best units impotent through their terrifying bombardment. In addition Robert had fielded an Undead Dragon and a swathe of characters, all of whom could cast magic. These would be the real problem.
Robert took a similar strategy, only used a different flank He had loaded infantry and cavalry in the centre, and more infantry, cavalry and war machines on the far bank of the river.

The game began with a race for the flanks. The chaos forces managed a good start, moving forward while the residents of the village cower in fear.

The Undead meanwhile, had a shocking first turn, managing to advance down the river bank only slightly, and form their troops in the centre into a line to recieve my flanking brigades, before the magical energy of the tomb king's priests dimmed, and their skeletons slowed.

The Chaos flanking force continue to sweep around the hill, although now I'm realising that there are more than a few successful orders required to ensure I get into his flank. I've set my general to lead them so hope for the best (needs a 9 on 2D6, then -1 for each subsequent order). Meanwhile my other force position themselves between the village and forest, with the infantry challenging the undead to charge them, while the chaos knights wait a short distance behind them, ready to crush any skeleton lucky enough to break through the chaos infantry.
What follows next are 2 shocking turns of failed orders. The Liche King is somehow distracted by some arcane mystery, or possibly an over-eager vulture, fails to issue an order, whilst the Chaos heroes suffer similar problems leaving their lines in dissaray.
Reagathering the momentum, the undead spur forward, sending their cavalry and Bone Giant to destroy the taunting chaos infantry. To make the matter more certain the liche king dispatches a his dragon riding priest to terrify the infantry and force them away. Undead magics fill the battle as the undead priests attempt to terrify the chaos forces, and prevent them from charging in the next turn.

Meanwhile the Liche King himself, and his personal bodyguard advance over the bridge to complete their flanking manouver. Things look grim for the chaos forces.
The fighting beside the village is fierce and despite their terrifying mosters the undead only drive the chaos infantry back slowly, then remarkably, the undead attack falters and the infantry hold. Fighting continues for phase after pahse until one side is victorious or there is a draw. Typically one side destroys an opposing unit entirely then either charges another (and fights immediately) or withdraws 3D6cm. The undead fall back in dissarray whilst the chaos infantry tramp over their fallen, back to the chaos knights, and ready themselves for the next attack.
The chaos try to sieze the initiative sending the Chaos Knights forward, but are unable to gain enough clear instruction from the commander of the Jugger to pull off a charge on the cavalry and Bone Giant.
A Liche Priest then urges the cavalry to crush the dimished infantry, but unbelievably, the undead refuse and rush back toward their lines, pursued by their irrate commander. Unable to believe their luck the marauders cheer and jeer the skeletal cavalry as they flee. Rolling double 6's on an order roll results in a blunder, which is rolled on a seprate table, like a WFB miscast.
The mirth is short lived as the Liche King himself spurs forward, and sends his bodygaurd, including the mighty Sphynx, into the flank of the immobile Chaos Knights. The Undead Dragon Rider joins the fray to support the Tomb King and guarantee the victory.
As if this were not enough the Liche King raises skeletons into the flanks of the Chaos Knights, and his priests cow the knights to prevent them from charging should they, by some miracle, fight off the attack. Then the bolt throwers, and skull chucker which have now moved to the outskirts of the village, open fire on the other unit of Chaos Knights and send them reeling back in confusion.
Again the Undead combat proves dismal. They kill several knights, before being fought to a standstill through the heroic efforts of the chaos hero on Jugger. Dismayed, the Liche King orders a retreat to regroup his forces and summon yet more undead minions.
Although they now have the opportunity to strike the decisive blow, the forces of chaos descend into bickering and ritual combat, ignoring the regrouping skeltons, they fail to move on either flank, handing the advantage to the Undead.
Angered beyond reason, the Chaos General dispacthes his dragon rider to dissuade the undead from crushing the chaos knights, then begins to sort out his sub-commanders with a large axe.
The undead, realsing their advantage, press the attack. Dark magics fly as the raised skeletons who charge the marauder cavalry, are joined by 2 more units of skeletal warriors fresh from the earth. These prove more than enough for the marauders, and the relentless undead press their attack into the harpies and tear thm apart.
Meanwhile the Liche King leads the attack on a unit of marauders, which had bravely tried to screen the valuable chaos knights from the withering fire of the skeleton artilley. The artillery then blasts the chaos knights, driving them back and the Liche King, dragon and bodyguard, run down the marauders, and destroy a nearby unit of chaos warriors.
Finally, on the last turn, the chaos force on the undead flank surges forward. their numbers are dimished by dark magic which has cowed a unit of chariots, but with the general and his axe behind them, the chaos forces are determined to make up for their squabbling and grab some bone totems.
Despite a peppering of bowfire the chaos forces sweep through the undead lines, felling 2 units of chariots and dragging down the mighty bone giant and hacking it into fragments. Beyonfd them are pathetic undead infantry, who would fall easily if the battle had one more turn remaining, but alas it does not. The chaos squabbling (failed orders) cost them the chance to drive home the damage.
Meanwhile Robert has realised he must destroy all the remaining chaos forces on the river flank if he's to win before the game ends. That means taking the fight to the dimished, but dangerous Chaos Knights. Accordingly he commits his forces, and throws in every character imaginable, including the tomb king himself. My only hope is that by some miracle the knights are able to win the day and press the attack on the Liche King (which would have given me victory, despite having lost more units). Regrettably the many units of summoned skeletons are sufficient to claw the Chaos Knights from their saddles and tear them into pieces. The Undead win the day.
This was an enjoyable game. There was a lot more manouver then usual, and ultimately my decision to go 'the long way around' led to my impact on the Undead lines too late. The role of summoned skeletons was decisive, and allowed Robert to roll into my Harpies and thus get the 7 units he needed to break my army. Undead magic is rotten, but their troops really can't fight too well, it was only by pouring massive numbers of characters into the fight that the Undead were able to prevail (despite their numerical superiority and frequent flank charges).