The Battle of Penn Valley

After K’Tesh the Imperials retreated but were hotly pursued by 3 rat infantry columns, to give the shattered Imperial army time to get away a force lead by Marcus the Red made a stand in a small valley called ‘Penn’.


The Valley runs north to south with a small river in the centre and a small settlement on the east bank, small wooded areas dot the valley floor together with some rocky outcrops. A road follows the river in the centre of the valley and crosses it approx. 1/3 of the way up from the south with a small stone bridge. The river is swollen by some heavy rain further north and is only crossable at the bridge or two hidden fords, the locals, now long gone, are the only ones who know the position of the fords others will have to search, one ford is to the north of the bridge the other to the south. To search a unit must remain stationary next to the river, for each unit searching, on the first stationary turn the ford is found on a d6 roll of 1 add one to the die roll each successive turn until the ford is found or the search abandoned.


The Rats win by exiting a unit off the eastern edge of the table the Empire win if they can prevent the Rat win. The level of Rat victory would be determined by how many units exit the table.


Turn’s 1 to 4 saw the 3 rat columns move forward and units move up into position next to the river ready to search for a ford.

The Rat Guard Muskets and Imperial Crossbow on the south of the field traded shots with the Imperials coming of worse!

The Imperial artillery targeted the Ogres on the bridge and routed them; the Rat force in the south discovered a ford and prepared to cross!


Turns 4 to 7 saw the Rat’s discovering  the second ford and partially remove the barricade on the bridge and move a unit over the southern ford covered by the Guard Musketeers!


Turn 9 saw a unit of Men-at-Arms charge and halt the rat musketeers, while the Rat guard on the bridge cleared the last of the barricade but halted in disorder blocking the bridge.


Turns 10-13

Saw fierce hand to hand combat on both flanks with the Imperial Heavy Cav. Forcing the Rat Spear back across the river through the Rat Guard Musketeers disordering them but the cavalry had to withdraw to recover. The rats in the centre remained stalled while the empire forces have temporarily halted the rats in the north at the price of being left exhausted!


Turns 14-20

Although the Empire forces were in poor order and pulling back by turn 16 it was obvious that the Rats were in almost as bad shape and could not win by turn 20 so I declared the Empire the winners gaining desperately needed time for the Emperor to reorganise and re-arm!


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The Battle of K’Tesh

The following battle took place over 4 day’s with two of the day’s having very little game time but as the game position was saved in Skull Cleaver picking the game up each day was very easy.

The narrative is a tidied version of the notes I took as the game was played. A note on reinforcements, rather than leave the program to determine when and where they would arrive I decided that reinforcements would arrive at regular intervals at random points on each side of the field.

The gallery is at the end of the text, so you can skip to the bottom if you would rather just see the pix 😀

Battle starts at 07:00 each bound is 10 minutes game time.

Skamgut approaches from the east with his formation of Rat Spear.

Eric has deployed his guns west of the road behind a ploughed field with the cavalry to each side.


Eric’s cavalry manoeuvre wide to gain position while his guns pound the oncoming  rats.


A formation of Ratguard Musketeers enters the battlefield from the south lead by Skarsnik and the first battalion deploys into line.


A formation of Dwarves enters from the north west and marches down the road.


Eric’s Light Cavalry wheel and move off away from the Rat Muskets.

Eric’s Guns continue to pound the Rat spears


The Rat spear formation continues to advance as does the Rat Muskets.


The Dwarves double-timed it down the road to join Eric’s light cav..

Eric’s guns once again pound the Rat spears.


The Dwarves march off the field, there will be a reckoning!

Also leaving the field is one of the Rat Musket battalions


With the treachery of the Dwarves Eric’s position is not looking good, the Rats are moving forward and there is little he can do to stop them – other than order the guns to fire again, this time at one of the rat musket battalions



One battalion of Rats enters the field from the west almost behind Eric’s gun position.

From the north west The Emperor Xarl IV and a mixed formation including cannon enter the field.


The Rats continue to move forward as the Empire try to form a line of battle.

The a Rat battalion in the centre attempt to charge Eric’s Light cavalry who counter charge.

Eric’s guns once again strike out, this time at the Rat musket battalion forming to their front and inflict 20 losses.


The Imperial High Guard shoot at the rats advancing on the medium cavalry in the centre and inflict 33 losses


The Rat  spear battalion  and Eric’s light cavalry both charge home


The Rat Spear battalion on the extreme left of the rat line deserts!

Xarl receives information that the Elves will not be joining the battle!


In spite of everything the Rats continue to advance, The Spears on the Rat right once again attempt charge into Eric’s light cavalry but fail, on the Rat left the empire crossbows have formed a line and are attempting to entrench.

The empire artillery newly arrived are loading, the heavy cavalry are moving to support Eric’s cavalry as is the Imperial Household infantry that are moving down the road.

Eric’s light cavalry fire into the spear phalanx inflicting 13 losses, 11 more are inflicted by the High Guard.

The Medium cavalry fire into a Rat battalion inflicting 3 losses.

Eric’s cannon fire shrapnel into the Rat muskets, inflicting 11 losses.



Rat reinforcements fly in from the south – Vultures

The imperial Crossbow are still preparing their entrenchments

The Rat line attempts to charge Eric’s med cavalry, and fail.

The Rat spear battalion advances across the ploughed field without disorder.

The Rat muskets fire upon the imperial crossbow and inflict 30 casualties.

The another battalion of Rat muskets fire upon Eric’s guns and inflict 2 losses while taking 21 themselves.

The High guard once again target the (red) spear unit inflicting 34 losses on them while the medium cavalry inflict a further 4.

The imperial light cannon target the Rat unit crossing the field inflicting 21 losses.

The magician Zular fires a lightening bolt into the other Rat muskets inflicting 21 losses



The (green) Rat musket unit fall back.

The Rat artillery finally arrive.


The Empire forces hold their positions.

Eric’s guns and the newly arrived rat artillery exchange barrages, with the rats suffering 1 loss.


The rat (blue) muskets and the vultures target the crossbows inflicting 83 losses



The Ogres have arrived, they got so lost they have entered the field form the NE and the Knights of the Court move to intercept them.

The High Guard moved to harry the Rat Artillery while the Vultures moved to intercept the High Guard!


The rat grand battery opened fire on the Imperial light guns destroying 3 of them for the loss  of 1 rat gun.


The Rat muskets (blue) fired on the crossbow inflicting 37 losses.


The Vultures and High Guard Wheel and Turn in the skies above the battlefield only to both disappear into the distance.


Eric’s med cavalry charge the rats who rout and retreat the cavalry follow up only to be met by the shrapnel from the rat grand battery and are completely destroyed.


The rat muskets charge the crossbow who fight them off from behind their entrenchments forcing the rats back in disorder.



Skreechnor has finally arrived as has the empire general Osric the Stout.

The imperial heavy cavalry are hit in the flank by a lightning bolt and suffer 3 losses



The imperial light artillery rout from the field.

The imperial heavy cavalry charge the Ogres who stand their ground.

The Rat Muskets renew their fire fight with the imperial crossbow inflicting 20 losses on the crossbow while taking 26 in return

The Rat artillery switched targets and took out both the empire wizards together with 120 crossbowmen

Eric’s guns fired back taking out another 2 rat guns while the empire heavy cavalry where struck in the flank by a lightning bolt suffering a further 5 losses during their charge.

The Rat muskets (blue) fall back with fatigue to recover while the imperial crossbow fall back exhausted



The empire heavy cavalry are stopped in their tracks, the empire pike formation is hit in the flank by the rat artillery and severely shaken.



Two huge melee’s have developed one in the centre and on the rats left.

The imperial heavy cavalry fall back after taking heavy losses


News that the final group of empire reinforcements will be delayed has reached Xarl.

The imperial pike have finally broken and fled the field leaving Xarl with no option but to order a general retreat covered by Osric’s force and Eric’s remaining light cav.

Leaving the Rats in command of the field and victors after 21 bounds!!

The Pix!:-

K’Tesh – Prelude

Order of Battle

The Rats are split over 7 units to arrive randomly (or as I tweek) they number approx. 8430 rats and 14 guns with a total Skull Cleaver points value of 51575.

The Empire are split over 6 units again to arrive randomly, they number approx. 7900 men with some 16 pieces of artillery and a total Skull Cleaver points value of 56501.

Amazingly the two forces are quite close in terms of numbers and points.  The Rats have fewer artillery pieces but they are formed into a Grand Battery, the Empire have 3 seperate batteries. Each Rat base has between 100 and  200 Rats where the Empire range is 50 to 150, the Empire have a distinct advantage in cavalry as the Rats have none.

Generally the Rats are in better ‘shape’,  where as some of the Empire units have travelled a great distance to reach K’Tesh, also due to political considerations neither the Elf or the Dwarf contingents can be completely trusted nor will they co-operate with each other!!

The Empire have two ‘Elite’ contingents, The Emperor’s and Eric’s.

Starting positions:

Eric’s force is the first to arrive and has deployed on the west side of the battlefield behind a plowed field.

A force of Rats has entered the field from the west lead by Skamgut.

The rest of the armies will enter randomly, th Rats from the Southern half of the Field and the Empire from the North.

Empire Campaign Update

Following his defeat in the east Skreechnor skreechnor led his army back to Narrow Way only to find the force left behind in disarray following the failure to force the pass.

He quickly executed a few generals and sent a force to flank the pass causing the defenders to withdraw.

He set about reorganising his army and formed a new plan, scorched earth, he decided to move into the Empire’s farming heartland of Anolia an lay it waste. The army was split into four and set off along different paths with orders to burn everything and meet at a small settlement called K’tesh.


Meanwhile the Emperor xarl had returned from the Orc wars in the north and gave orders for the Imperial Household troops to march south, he also sent out riders to order all Empire forces to converge on the Imperial standard then he himself set off with the High Guard to rendezvous at a small hamlet called K’tesh.

The stage is set…batrep soon…


Empire Campaign recap and update

Well after the last major battle at crossing the Rats needed to make a decision, push north or head for the east coast port of Abydos.

The decision was to split the army and leave what was in effect the army reserve to hold the north road while Skreechnor headed east with the main army.

The comander of the reservists tried to earn some kudos by moving north to the pass of Narrow Way where they were soundly stopped and repulsed by the small Empire garrison lead by Leon of the Eddas with his 300 sturdy dwarves!

Meanwhile Eric the Chain had set off in pursuit of the Rat army with his cavalry and as much horse artillery as he could muster.

So the table is set for a three army battle with the unsuspecting Rats in between the City defenders and the pursuing Eric!

The table is laid out below:-

The Forest in the forground, across the Causeway lies Longbridge leading to the city walls of Abydos

The Causeway, the city’s best defence for over half a millennium

“For the night was dark and throughout it from the city walls they heard a chittering and a skittering and lo, when the dawn broke they saw over Longbridge the foulness of Rattus Norvegicus” … Bevis the Quite, monk of Abydos

View from Abydos

The City Guard


The scene is set, a couple of tweeks to the Rat list and I’ll start the game about 17:00 local as its 31 degrees in the gamesroom at the moment and climbing 😀

Campaign Update #2

The Campaign for the South update #2


In retreating from crossing some elements of The Imperial Army of the South came into contact with elements of the Rat army and faired poorly  so that the Imperial army was split and had to make it’s way to Lakedemo piecemeal. As a result The Imperial Army of the South has cease to exist as a fighting force. Eric, a few officers and a few hundred men arrived in Lakedemo to find preparations for war well under way under the command of Sebastian, Strategos of the Lakedemo Theme. Eric, surprisingly kept his head and was promised a post in the new force.

The Rat army finally assembled back at Crossing to reorganise and await the return of their general Skreechnor who had been away in the South West gathering allies for the next phase of the campaign.

The Campaign System:-

I have continued to run the campaign on the old map to ‘run out’ this phase of the campaign, the skirmishes mentioned above did take place and were managed entirely by the campaign system, the results left the Rats even more exhausted and the Empire force in tatters!


Acting as GM I decided that now was the point to shift to the ‘other’ map and generate new ‘reorganised’ armies, with both sides set to add allies/more units the next confrontation should be interesting but first, I need to do some painting! 😀


The Campaign for the South – An Update.


Following the Battle of Whooton Pass Eric the Chain made a ‘tactical withdrawal’ back to Crossing to rest and re-supply what was left of his army.

The victorious, but exhausted Rat army moved back to Whooton Mhay to do likewise, before setting off to pursue the Empire army.

Following some skirmishes outside Crossing in which the Empire were victorious the main Rat army stormed the town driving the Empire forces out.

The Rats consolidated their position on the town while Eric and the Empire forces once again started out on a long retreat north.

The Campaign System:-

Once again I’ve found that the scale I’ve used is too small.  Moving  the armies from town to town is taking a bit too long, the campaign sequence is:-

1. Issue New orders (ie Move North) once orders have been issued you can just exit this each turn and go on to Movement.

2. Movement – your orders are carried out. On a long march though the army may get ‘strung out’ and will need to be consolidated before combat

3. Scouting –  each of your commanders will give a report, if you have issued a ‘Scouting’ order in 1 then these reports will give you (some) advanced warning

4 Fight (any) Battles. If contact is made with the enemy then you have the option of exporting the army files to use in the Battle Module (to fight a table top battle) or to have the Campaign System fight the battle and apply the results, this is what I did above.


As far as scale in concerned I’ll re-create the campaign, when you create a campaign there is an option to set the per turn move in terms of day’s I’ll try adjusting that (it can’t be done in a running campaign).

The other thing I’ll do is to reduce the number of commanders, the manual suggests following the format Left Wing, Centre, Right Wing, having any more doesn’t seem to give any advantage and only ‘clutters’ the system with extra work and reports

The other change I’ll make is to the Magic users, when you set them up you get to choose the type and qty of spells they can use, I misunderstood and thought that the qty was the number of ‘casts’ available during the battle – it’s actually each TURN – a wizard with 10 fire balls to shoot each turn is quite formidable! Also each ‘casting’ adds to the cost of the wizard an as I only cast once per turn with the wizards its making them overpriced!

Overall all the above is just gaining experience.  😀


The Battle of Whooton Pass

This is the first battle of the Skull Cleaver campaign ‘The Empire – Campaign for the South’ and as such is more software review than battle report, well here goes.

The Battle:-

Having extracted the army files from the campaign system I then loaded them into the ‘Battle Module’ and set up the non-computer army (empire), oce that was done I set up the Ratmen army as per computer instructions:-

Solo Setup


Deploy The Elite Troops in the Reserve. Centre covered by skirmishers.

 20 % Troops on Left Flank. 30 % Troops in the Centre. 30 % Troops on Right Flank. 20 % Troops in Reserve – Centre Rear.

 OBJECTIVE:- The Defender must Hold the hill pass and keep the Attacker at Bay

              So the Attacker cannot move troops along the road through the pass without coming under fire.

 CONSTRAINTS:- The Defender must achieve this with no more than 40 % losses, by the end of 2 hours of Battlefield time.

Quite clear, the OB for the Armies  is a little different from FB/WM/40k as each unit has a given qty of men/horses/guns etc. an are rated for not only arms and armour but morale, training and fatigue with each stand of infantry containing between 400 and 600 troops and each stand of cavalry 600 and each artillery stand about 4 guns.

So the points value for each army going into the battle were as follows:-

Empire 15607, Ratmen 20308 and the ratmen reserve 4679 (no actual part in the battle)

the Battlefield was laid out according to instructions thus:-

The human player goes first, hey I’d set up in what I considered a strong defensive position, Im not moving, bring it on.

Now at this point I should explain exactly why I set up BEHIND the hills on the flat, well Eric the Chain, in his haste to fight the Ratmen forgot to order the crossbow regements to march out with his army, so the only ranged weaponry I had were the cannon that I set up on a hill with a clear line of site through the pass.

The Ratmen received the following orders from the computer:-

Solo 1

General – The Commander leads his forces forward impetuously!

Mounted advance and initiate charges.

The Close Combat Infantry advance and charge where possible.

All Skirmishers deploy equally across the front.

Magicians to bombard visible enemy troops on the Ridge Line.

Basically – CHARGE!

I’ll not do a blow by blow, the Empire right and center  eventually collapsed through exhaustion, the right fought on till the bitter end, the artillery ‘grand battery’ on the hill was in its turn bombarded by a Rat sorcerer and eventually out-flanked and overrun.

The result:-

The Rats acheived their objective with 10mins of game time to spare (3hrs real time) things might have been a lot different if the crossbows were present, but then again I chose not to deploy the Rat artillery (being fair and balanced).

The Battle Module gives you the option of running an ‘after battle’ process that ‘fixes’ the final casualties, as most units during the battle just ‘disintegrate’, a portion of these troops can be recovered based on a number of factors, winning, in hostile territory and being persued are just some ( I beleive that this process used to be part of the campaign game- because thats what the V5 manual says). Running this process and saving the output army file over the Campaign army file will leave you with a ‘realistic’ list to use in the campaign.

The army points after the process were as follows:-

Empire 11318 (down from 15607)

Rats 16097 (down from 20308)

Most units survived the battle but with fewer men and adjusted moral and experience.

Comment on the game:-

It is so good not having all those dice on the table! Not having to lookup rules (a lot), not having to confir with charts and tables (a lot) and no army books. Having the detailed layer of moral and exhaustion etc. changes the way the armies play on the table – I liked it!

The Software

Skull Cleaver:-

I have version 5 with the version 6 upgrade now, at first the software seems a bit ‘cranky’ but it does basically what it sets out to do. I did have a lot of frustrations in setting up the campaign mainly due to the fact that the version 6 upgrade doesn’t include a version 6 manual! and a lot of my problems were due to trying to do things that no longer worked that way – I do have a copy of Macedon & Rome v6 and that manual was very useful.

Most annoying about the software – there is no ‘back or cancel’ button at critical points and the display can be confusing at times ie some messages seem to have a time-lag that causes them to be displayed after the ‘next message’.

Printing can be a problem – if you forget to connect the printer and just cancel the dialog – the program crashes but stays resident in memory (bit of task management required to get rid of it) and possibly corrupts the army database (!)

I’ve had two db that wouldn’t print or list to the screen but otherwise seemed fine – had to re-create them in the end, both were being edited during a crash – I now have a backup script.

The conclusion:-

Yeah the program is ‘cranky’ and has a few short commings, yeah it looks and feels ‘dated’ (compared to this years latest RTS games),  but the core of the system, the Battle Module worked well once I got used to the fact that each ‘bound’ was simultaneous and then the computer gives you the results, well, you have to run a report to get all the results.

What I’m saying is that once you get used to it all it is quite usable and quick, running the above battle in Warmaster would have taken twice as long and not given nearly as much ‘feel’ as SC.

What did I learn from the battle?

That the composition of the Rat army outclasses the Empire at the moment, I beleive that’s because the Empire list is a Warmaster list and things like Heavy Cavalry in WM are pretty good – have them wizzing all over the place charging anyone in sight. In SC they are pretty good as well for about 2 charges after that they are just as likly to disintegrate through exhaustion. So need to bring more infantry in.

Will I continue to use SC?

Yes, I hope that most of my problems are V6 with V5 manual and ‘hitting return too often’ – It is SO easy to completely miss the firing phase, and NO going back.

I’ll keep running the campaign module and keep you updated on the Rat invasion, currently the main rat army and their re-inforcement column have moved back to Wooton Mhey to regroup while Eric the Chain and the Empire army are making for Crossing and the hope of re-inforecments.


New Rules and a Campaign

Back in the day, when Sue and I were planning our move to Crete I forsaw a need for a gaming opponent, so I started looking for a computer based one (not that a mere computer could in any way replace Rob or James) anyway, I found a company called Computer Strategies and I got a couple of their rulesets. The one that I’ll be using first is Scull Cleaver the fantasy set, you get a very good overview from the above web site.

I had first planned to run a series of battles using the system but, as I re-read the manual I decided to turn it into a full blown campaign.

So this is the Southern part of ‘The Empire’

The process is to creat (or get) a map (I did this one in paint) import it into Skull Cleaver and then designate all of the terrain types using a square grid (you choose the size) add depots, usually towns or cities, declare the number of sides and armies, position the armies (these must have already been created in Scull Cleaver) and go!

So the details of the campaign:-

Key:- Grey = mountains, Blue = seas, lakes & rivers, Yellow = Hills, Light Blue = Swamp, Green = Forrest (no effect in the game), Purple = Cities and Major Towns (Depots), Red Lines = Major roads.

The major rivers are navigable by large (Medium Sized seagoing) craft from Empirios (the capital) to the large central lake and from Alexandros to Ruad all other rivers are navigable only by smaller (specialist) river craft.

This campaign tracks the progress of the Rat Hoard invasion of the Empire from the south, the starting forces are the main Rat army occupying Whooton Mhey being followed by a column of reinforcements. The Empire has five major field armies located about the Empire but only one in striking distance of the Rat Hoard.

The Campaign system will track Weather, Supply, Fatigue, Morale, Scouting and is capable of resolving battles if required although for major encounters the armies will be exported and then imported into the ‘Solo’ battle module to fight a table top battle, once done the results are re-imported into the Campaign system and final adjustments made to the Army rosters – more on all of this as the Campaign progresses.

The Campaign starts with the Empire ‘Army of the South’ marching south towards Whooton Mhey to engage the Rat Hoard.

The Rat Hoard after scouting to the north moves out of Whooton Mhey and makes contact with the Empire, the Rat support column moves off the Great Road north east towards Whooton Mhey – and this is where the system threw its first curve when it decided that the support column had also made contact with the Empire!

So three army list were exported and the Empire looks like making a fighting withdrawal as the first Campaign battle

I’ll publish all the lists as part of the Battle report.

The system seems flexible enough although a lot of thought needs to be put into it, as the Campaign progresses you are able to add more armies and modify the existing ones I hope to introduce a navel element (need to build the ships first though) .

Well that’s about it for now if all’s well I’ll fight the battle this Sunday/Monday and hope to have a battle report/campaign update mid next week.

A.  😉