Battle Report - Empire vs High Elves

I've been slowly getting my Empire army painted, and tonight, at last, I had enough to have a credible 2k army - so to celebrate I thought I'd take it out for a spin against my regular opponent, who obliged by fielding his redoubtable High Elves. So first, the field of battle; clearly the elves have transgressed onto some verdant part of the empire populated by several small villages:

The force of the high elves was somewhat limited to the troops my opponent had available, which may have an uncanny resemblance to the army he has thrashed my Chaos forces with previously:

Basically, 4 units of spearmen, 2 units of archers, 2 units of repeater bolt throwers, 2 units of Reaver knights, 2 units of Silver Helms, 2 units of Chariots, 1 unit of Great Eagles, 1 Dragon Rider, 2 Mages, 1 Hero and a General, along with an Orb of Majesty, the two magic swords (one in each reaver unit) and a dispel scroll.
My Empire army was similarly constrained to the troops I had painted - I had little idea of what would make a good empire force, but after playing Chaos so long, was excited at the thought of shooting stuff:

So, 4 units of Halberdiers, 4 units of Crossbowmen, 2 units of Handgunners, 2 units of Cannons, 1 Hellblaster, 2 units of Flagellants, 2 units of Pistoliers, 4 units of Knights, 2 Wizards, 1 Hero on Griffon, 1 General, along with an Orb of Majesty, Dispel Scroll, Ring of Magic, and Sword of Might (with the Hero): So, to begin with I brigaded my Empire into infantry brigades, each with a war machine unit, missiles, and halberdiers for some level of protection.
I made an offensive infantry brigade with the flagellants and a unit of Halberdiers, and split my cavalry into 2 brigades each with 2 units of knights and 1 unit of pistoliers. My basic plan was to try and get my infantry into cover, send up the infantry to draw his charge, then hammer him with my cavalry on the counter-charge. I tasked one infantry brigade, backed by cavalry with the river side of the table, and had the rest, more or less, facing the open ground beside the larger village:

The elves, with a smaller force, deployed tightly, having the infantry in front and cavalry behind:
So the game kicked off, with the empire taking the first turn. I was pleasently surprised by both my hero and General managing to issue orders (with only 2 characters with decent leadership I had been worried I would have some trouble). The whole empire army shuffled forward, with infantry ducking into the protection of the woods where possible:

The Elves has some early order issues, and did not advance much. The empire then dutifully shuffled forward once more. Things were going so well I was tempted to try and get a second order off to enable the flagellants to charge the elf infantry brigade that had moved to block them (I didn't like the idea of those repeater bolt throwers cutting loose), but I restrained myself and tried to keep my units closely aligned for supporting charges.I did however have a dirty trick to play.
In my magic phase I teleported my wizard beside his tightly grouped infantry brigade, and used my Ring of Magic to unleash a Ball of Flame. The surprised elves (masters of magic after all) lost a bolt thrower, stand of archers, and the entire brigade was confused!Infuriated, the elves dispatched their Silver Helms to crush the insolent humans. 2 units of Silver Helms and the Dragon Rider and Great Eagles crashed into my frothing Flagellants:

Predictably the flagellants were destroyed. The knights and dragon then withdrew, but the eagles, hungry for more empire blood, took the fight to the Halberdiers who had been tasked with 'guiding' the flagellants into battle:

Unfortunately for the eagles, the humans were able to drive them off with some well placed halberd strokes, then promptly followed up and diced the great birds the next turn.A rumble from the empire lines signalled the first cavalry brigade were ready to engage, ready to avenge the flagellants. As they spurred their mounts forward, the cannons opened up and sent one of the Silver Helm units reeling, leaving one unit of Silver Helms and the Dragon to face the steel fist of the knights. As the knights crashed forward the pistoliers accompaning them peeled away, to shout insults and prance about in the relative safety of the empire lines. The Hero on Griffon swooped in to join the fray senseing a chance to extignuish the main offense of the elf army:

The fight was a bloody one, but the knights had no intention of quitting, and so they finally cut down both the silver helms and the Dragon, but the toll was high. Fully half the knights died beneath the fierce elf attacks, and the survivors had no choice but to reform and face the next wave of elf wrath.
They did not have to wait long. The elf chariots spurred forward and crashed into the now stationary knights. The remaining unit of Silver helms followed them into the fray determined to seek their revenge.

As the knights were cut down, 2 units of Reavers shook off the weird enchantment cast by the other Empire Wizard, and smashed into the cavorting unit of pistoliers.
The pistoliers did not last long, and the reavers boldly pressed their advantage, charging on into the main empire lines. Surprisingly a brave unit of crossbowmen, using their crossbows as clubs and clearly incensed by the fate of the pistoliers, taught the reavers a lesson in fighting and killed many of the young elves, drving them off. Regrettably the brave crossbowmen were effectively destroyed in the fighting.

The elf army was now reeling. Almost every unit had suffered casualties and the Empire general now sensed victory was at hand. He signalled the second cavalry brigade forward to press the advantage.

The kngihts spurred forward, one unit smashed into the reavers, while the other galloped on to trample an intact unit of elf spearmen. They were joined by the only remaining unit pistoliers who were determined to demonstrate their bravery:

The empire general had been forced to expend his Orb of Majesty to order the cavalry to attack, and was clearly distracted, and so accidentally sent the same order for an all-out charge to the infantry brigade, consisting of handgunners and the hellblaster. Perplexed, but unwilling to disobey their commander the handgunners hefted their guns as clubs and rushed forward, followed by a the cursing crew of the hellblaster!

If this were not bad enough the empire cavalry were less than decisive in their task. The knights failed to destroy the reaver knights, and were sent reeling back having taken heavy casualties. The other knights and pistoliers crushed the infantry unit, and continued the charge into elf bowmen and a repeater bolt thrower, tearing the shocked elves to pieces, before regrouping back near the empire line.
Now the elves counter-attacked. Casting the Light of Battle, the remaining chariots and silver helms charged into the empire knights, and slew them to a man, whilst the reaver knights with the help of an elf hero did the same to the other unit of knights. More elf infantry rushed forward, but were unable to join the fray.

Things were looking grim. All the empire cavalry had been destroyed, both wizards and the hero had been slain, and the army was now only a unit from breaking, and fleeing from the field. The elf army had suffered hideous casualties, but still had some Silver Helms and chariots, and were two units from being forced to withdraw.
The Empire general marshalled his troops into a battle line, and a barrage of cannon and shot raked the elf lines. Unfortunately only a single elf unit was slain, leaving both armies just one unit from victory or defeat. As the initiative was now with the elves, the hero, general and wizards led the chariots and handful of silver helms into a final charge - straight down the empire guns. As the elves charged their wizards unleashed terrible magics, an assault of stone pounded every empire unit on the line, while the light of battle filled the elf heroes with supernatural power.
The cannons unleashed grapeshot, and the hellblaster filled the air with hot lead, but it was not enough. The elves cut down the cannon crew and the empire line folded, the elves had won, but only by the slightest margin.