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THE EMPIRE PESat sb meme eCeagcr Lalor ts OM) a Te Onn eT TR rom the time of Sigmar to the SRO CeCe een oe ue een es safe. Here follows an account of some COU Ce CMe Cn MES history of this great land of men. It was at Black Fire Pass that the Empire was cre ee Om come vampire lord Mannfred von Carstein finally fall and at the gates of Kislev did SVP On OTe can ts a Chaos hordes of Asavar Kul. eC eee een Priam co Cec amet Seen a hee eet reer Seema ccc. Greece) this background book. Guile and peer eee eens Cenc Om Cuca more are discussed. Delve into the tema eee eet ees immersed in the narrative of some of fee eeteaire teri deadliest foes. A BLACK LIBRARY PRODUCT MMIII) UK | || us olraiseelteetse> CAN | (fa Bhe Empire at War Five Battles Five Lessons Five Ways to Prevail in the Art of War By Grandmarshall Blucher von Vincke This book is dedicated to the men who serve in the rank and file: the spearmen, archers, gunners and greatswords. You were the backbone, steel and heart of my campaigns. still hear your marching feet in my dreams. May the grand armies of the Empire fight forever and a day. Printed with che Blessing of the Emperor, Karl Franz Aldor! Press 2523 1C. A Black Library Public A K ee 1 Perry With thanks to: Lindsey Priestley, Christian I ShaisterS ick Sarda, ( revs Alan Merfett and Sabercooth Ga nd and John W TSUN 178 [alesis ISEN TD Dares15a (GW Product Code 604 0281008 eer IL Pobishing, Games Workshop Le, Willow Road, Nort 22s, UR 2006. lights ee rved ered in Ge UX sod eee i: i Blk ib ert cee a Games Wertsp snd ibe wens of Wag rman 70000 (UR), 1 00304 CAME (US), 1'888-OW TROLL (CAN) seskshog com Alsenati th Lege ecb Prine in the EU Valourey -Lourageey Table of Lontents “A vast horde of Chaos threatening all the mortal realms 360 the Empire is plunged into civil war. Ouilis of js rurned back by amalilanee of men and divas led by Talabecland declares herself Empress. The Count of nidary Maguiat ipo. Stirland, another claimant to the title, marches into Talabecland to crush his rival What followed was 2 batele of tactical brinkmanship, be result of which caused bun strife and bloodshed more years of Sls sar unites the disparate tribes of men, calls on bis clvarf allies and marehes to Black Fire Pass ro head off an enormous ore army, Heavily ournumbered, Sigmar’s tactical genius and courage in battle deliver victory for cin’s vicious assault on the his army « Mannifred von C Empire, he is thrown back co Sylvania, A combined e of men and dwarfs, led by the Count of Stirland, unite to defeat him at Hel Fenn. An expedition force hunting ores in the Middle wntains aces a deadly ambush, Expert use of artillery he orcs from their hidden positions, but the « plan of attack is ruined by overzealous cavalry Grandmarshall ron Vine depicted here in fall bale armour. Vo Vincke, a veeran of me battles, ost, eyefighi Doosemen borders of Drakwa Author's Intcobuction © aurunn gale at the Bartle of Taranto Pass? Was i the sound of the arillery batteries pounding the massed ranks of Grey Seer Grabsnitch into pulped-flesh oblivion? Although it is true that these are happy and lasting smemories iti in fact the smells of war, which linger most tenaciously in my mind These smells are sometimes so acute that when I wake I believe myself to be in my battle pavilion, preparing for war. the acidity of gunpowder smoke, che muskiness of destiers eager for the charge, the copper tang of spilling blood and the grease on my well-worn armour which hangs row in my banguet hall. And the most pervasive smell of a? Fear. Fear is the soldier's constant enemy, which ev ddences itself in the reek of sweat and urine. Many colleagues have suggested that I should record my career as a general in a book. They say ic would provide posterity: an invaluable document on the life and times of Grandmarsball. However, I am not a vainglorious maa, and the “idea of inflicting my tales in the field on generations to come is abborrent (28 my ever-tolerant and long-suffering wife, Matildha, will no doubt agree). Instead, I decided to put my experience, hard-earned expertise and interest in the military history of our nob Empire to better use. I set upon writing a book to ins and teach all military students in the art of wat. Using specific battles, some well documented, others so neglected by history, I will demonstrate five aspects of con: flict that should be considered by all generals before they settle on a strategy. ‘The book you now hold in your bands is not an ins ‘on manual on how to win; the nature of conflice is mutable, and methods of war are now advancing at a speed unparal leled. Lessons of war need to be altered and relearned as the tools with which we fight chem become more sophisticated. shat But there are some aspects of conflict that | believe will never change, and no matter how the methodologies and tac ties advance as the decades of strife rol by, of great and tantamount importance. No doubt, other military historians and pgue and cur humbug. But I say to them: go back to your cholars will me for a osty studies! I have stood on the front lines. I have faced many enemies and overcome them all. I was a soldier, and I soldiers. ‘The lessons on these pages were paid for with blood, its words forged in the Tam not a scholar by profession and I ask the reader ~ who is perhaps better used to the more polished prose of artisans ~ to indulge me in my soldier's rhetoric, Be assured that every word is written by a man who knows war and conflict with the same intimacy and obsession that a man may harbour for an illicit and troublesome lover; what lack in word-smithery, I make up for in real, undilues fougine with es of battle ed experience, But I tell you, when you turn the pages of this book, I want you to feel the tramp of marching feet oa che ground and hear the war chants of the regiments in your ears, 0 smell the smoke and hear the chunder. Bur most tantly, I want you to spare a thought for the me In this world that grows darker and more dangerous with ‘each changing of the sezson, it is by the soldiers’ sirifice on far-flung battlefields that you are kept safe in your beds, by the spilling of their blood does the Empire stay strong. “To the soldiers of an Empire at War, I salure you, each and every one Grandmarshall Blacher von Vincke (retired), Altdorf, 2521 =B Tuile The Battle of the Talabec ‘The rain-swollen river was swift and tried to pull me under and all the time they fired hails of arrows at us. Men died all around me. I looked up and saw a row of spears pointing at me and smoke from battlefield fires drifting in choking clouds. 1 don’t know how we got over the river, but when we did we gave them hell and then some.’ = Piter Reiser, Talabecland Swordsmen IVIL WAR. In 1360 the Empice became mired in a (_ sooty evar which ss for deeds of yer the Empire was still young and immature, and the before necine tribal rivalry that was so prevs 1s day made an unwelcome return cause of unrest was the deste among the counts for ‘cle of Emperor. Pawer and the quest for it corrupts and war often follows. The eleetions had taken place at of the previous year and the Elector Count of 2 powerful man and astute poli ce by a close margin. His nearest sval, Ottis of and ~ an ambitious and fearless woman ~ accused the front of the entire court of using bribery and his » the votive assembly to ensure a favourable resilt. fs admirable impudenee, she declared herself Empress ut ofthe building < was not the only person who suspected that Strland 4 cbrained his position through corruption, and many » Outli’s cause, promising support for the war was becoming increasingly likely. Her most power- was the High Priest of Ulric. The High Priest left acim with his supporters and threw in his lo with n Talabeckand. die was cast. Talabesland and Stirland gathered their ui as their diplomats returned, osted from their s, they knew war was upon them. s hard to describe the feelings a man carries in his en all the devices and wiles of the diplomats have id war impedes with the inevitability of the End hemselves. For myself ~ an unashamed man of war I joined the ranks of the Emperor's army as a lowly © the great General Kilbrecht on his campaigns iis a heady mixture of emotions: excite olluted with fear for my life, and dread at the oidable pain and loss that good men will suffer at the che enemy. But ths is underpinned with an unas- sense of duty and pride in my work, which I believe Twas put on this earth by Sigmar co do. PENING MOVES. As the weeks after Oxtile's became increasingly concerned about her strategic jowerful men had sided with her, s was apparent that Stirland had the best of the support. ‘Orsilia began to shed allies a they lost faith in her cause, and only constant lobbying from the High Priest of Ulric eps s semblance of unity within her cou uch isthe peril of entering into an alliance with power- fal men; they are ever watchful of their own interests and away lke vultures as soon as they lose faith lly, [always maintained rigorous control over my and never once sacrificed overall power. However, Ourlis’s delicate position forbade this sore of dictatorial 1, and she was forced to cooperate with her allies, or support enticely mre was not on Ortilia's side, bur she resisted making the move, Some historians have postulated that this was & + weakness. They argue that she did not want to go sn — had won down in history as being the instigator ofa civil war, bu cis shows their lack of understanding of this resolute and ruth less woman. Ontili’s decision to wait in Talabecland was because she did not have the military strength to go on the offensive. It was a shrewd, yer risky, decision. Onilia gambled by trusting her remaining allies ~ main ly the eastern and southeastern states ~ to stick with her tuntil Stirland made his move. Stirland had been under increasing pressure fcom his alies to crush Outliaas soon 2 possible, ‘After all,’ the Count of Ostland said, ‘she is This quote surely contains the sentiments of countless ‘men who have fallen victim to their own stupidity. I have been married tothe formidable Madam von Vincke for four decades, and I can honestly say that she is the only person in Sigmar’s lands who wields any authority over me; no ‘man, oe, beastman or daemon has instilled che same fear in iy heart as the sight of my wife in one of her rages. Men, say to you this: underestimate the fairer sex at your peril ‘Ar the birth of spring in 1360, the Count led his army from Srrland into Talabecland. Villagers fled before him, despite his assurances that they would come to no harm. The invaders’ speed surprised Ortilia,and when her scouts reported Stiland’s steady progress she knew the tense wait was over. War had come to her land, and she prepared to lead her army out to battle. “As i was, we felt relief to be on the move after such 2 protracted wait. We were outnumbered, our lands invaded and the enemy bearing down fast upon us. Inever saw the Countess more comfortable in her role than at that time of crisis,” wrote Lord Helmut Weisser, Marshall of Ottis’ cavalry. Many historians have argued chat the decision Ortilia rate to leave the safety of Talabheim was misguided, Talabheim is butte within a huge crate, surrounded by natu- ral defenses ‘of cliffs and mountains. There are provisions enough within chose formidable walls to supply the citizens of the city and her army for years. Iv is a perfect fortress and Strland would have been hard pressed to breach it But these historians overlook an important aspect of the (Orsilis’s situation. She had just proclaimed herself Empress ofall the lands of men; how could she hope to prove her worth by hiding in her city? It was imperative for her to prove that she could take on her enemies in open battle. In short, she could not hope to rule the Empire or rely on her wavering allies to stay by her side, if she cemained within ber walls It would be perceived as a sign of weakness and seriously damage her claim to the throne. SES OF STIRLAND. Wei of history are rare, but fo a personal dian Suile The state colours of Talabecland are zed and yellow appears that Outlia was at a grive disadvantage. Bee (OF TALABECLAND. At first glance, it Talabecland and her dwindling allies could field bare ly ten thousand men, eae and they were of a Vetie Somewhat disparate Empire ir nacure: mercenary The iy tre of bands from all over Talon, the south and Border echoes the red Princes, freelancer esto nth legs and the population of trots damn villages who ured up to defend their state. A horde of twine this with flagellancs also flocked to the banner of Talabecland, doubtless moved to believe the Empire was doomed by the internecine confli How Ontilia managed to forge them into a viable and cohesive fighting force is testament to her organisational skills. Greating unity in her ranks was one thing, but finding ‘more men to join them was quite another. After scouring n of a fighting age and digging deep into her coffers to pay for mercenaries, she still had fewer men ye army that march consisted of four thousand spearmen and pike the land for than Stirland from Talabheim of which many were Border Princes cohorts — one thousand five hundred swordsmen, one thousand bowmen and only three thousand horses including freelance knights, nd @ small emplars of che White Wolf, che High bodyguard and templars of Taal. Her trump card was her personal cavalry bodyguard, the Order of the Black Rose. They were only one hundred strong, bur when she led them had done riest of Ulric’s (as. she were unstoppable. Where Stirland’s they ours of green and yellow (with re mental variations), many of Ottilia’s forces had to wear their_own clothes. Ouilia ordered everyone ~ her selfin luded — to wear a red and yellow sib bon on their left arm in a show of identity and unity. This seemingly insignificant detail did much to encourage an esprit-de-cotp in Ontilia’s mongrel army. ‘On the eve of our march to battle, the Countess spoke to the men: ‘Wear your ribbons with pride,’ she cried. ‘In the line of battle, you protect the man on your right with your shield, and in doing so you protect his ribbon, the red and yellow of our fair state that we must defend from he invader. “Such a cheer went up that I swear the Count of Stirland must have heard it where he lurked on the east bank of the +, eighty leagues away,’ wrote Lord Helmut Weisser ae ham pel ‘and skulls cha distinguish devotees of Uli from ‘other Empire press. $a © “Tete the ground quake and oar pikes-clattered toperher 25 the vibrations gor stronger. From-oyer the brow-of the hill came ‘the Order-of the Black Rese, heading straight for onr pike 1. Wescouldnit believe it! Cavatry charging pikes from the: was suieide, bur there they were 2¢ fall ti, with lances ed. have never been so afraid. Ie was lke facing metal- where the Order of the Buck Rose routed 2 pike pha Hx of two thousand men. The: heavy cavzcy bodyguard of Ortilia-of Talabeciand are aly famed throushout te land. Reeruted from the bes war ‘ofthe state, their ranks arc always kept to-one hundred 1 Tei a mark of great hovoar to: be:chosen, and cach man paid and equipped at the state's expense. F Theis armocr is stained biack in reference to their ime, J excepe thers gaunelers which are’ red, signifying the spite blood their sromd a bleeding heart Whar makes the lnighes unique is their horses) semonr. The baring of the nights’ scsds suggests the aliation of che order With the god Morr: skuls, dreaded Morr himself and cher mori ae al prevalne. Such x reminder of 2 man's mortality coupled with the dread sara ofthe imagery upon the baring isa eeryng sight for any enemy. «= Brery night: brings his own fighting expertise and-tvowiedge ‘with him ro teach his compatriots. In this way, che’ fighting ‘rowess-of the men is wel! rounded and unique. Ie is che knight's sworn diy o:say with the Countess an protect her from harm, A knigh = Auuile land, Ove ed in which he penetrated h hardened gi und the column marched an astonishing twenty miles a day (although on my cam paign in the B nees my men marched an average o twenty three miles day, and over much harder terrain). By he middle of spring, Stirland was only eighty miles from the city of Talabheim, As Otrilia struggled to gather her army, Stirland set up ‘on the east side of a river and waited. This battle is the Battle of the Talabec, bus in fuer it roo ow tributary the Talastammn, great river. For simplicity’s sake, a shall ree in keeping with th given name of the bartle, I Talabec 16 Many historians have wondered why Stirland chose todo. his, and consider it to be a blunder on his part. Why did ¢ not press on and lay siege to the city? Why stop when He stopped for several good reasons. Firstly, his men were exhausted. He had pushed them hard co penetrate 80 deep into Talabecland and they needed rest. He was also ill quipped to lay siege to Talabheim, which was heavily for- tifled and considered to be virtually impervious to attack. Most importantly, time was on his side, He had plenty of land to forage to feed his men, and he had set up « supply Tine down the route his army had marched. Stirland deduced that Ottilia would have to match out to meet him, for the throne without és allies Stirland of lose the bat ld daw her would lose faith in her, By waitin out of ld of his choice where his supe jor numbers could destroy As for Ottilia, she knew that her allies were wavering and she had to act soon to stand any chance of defeating Stisland, who could rampage across her lands as she hid in Fier city. This, she said, simply would not do. Stirland sent out scouts to discover the lay of the land ind deployed his force ensively. He occupied the wil- od bend in the lage of Zoveihifen, which lay on + pronou However, he was concerned that the enemy might try t0 flank and tap him with his back to the river. Scouts reported a ford across the rive five ath of his position, so to protect his left flank he sent one thousand spears and six hundred archers to hol . Confident in his position and comfortably ensconced in the Ox Bow Lake Inn, Stidland settled down to wait for Ouilia. A sound strategy this; whenever I blleted a a sown or village, L always Sule DIVERSION. ‘We knew we had to even the the Stirlanders outnumbered us and we to cross the river to get to them, Ie was a lerable situation. Then the Cour had a brilliant idea,’ Lord Helmut We Battle would be joined the next d ategy that has gone down in of the most cunning diversions ever at that I copied at the triumphant actor 2515 (see Von Vinke’s V At four in the : alf of her ir eyed Stiland. ‘On hearing the news, he immediately decided tha (Ouiilia was trying af left. If she were ing as many men as it sounded, the tok hhad deployed at the ford would be overrun id of bs rd and hold off Ortilia's attack. bled back. cntize reserve and fully one: As Ontilia’s scouts bore the news of the Stislanders’ movements, she is said to have hugged Lord Weisser and | us skipped around her pavilion in glee. Stirland bad fallen for her ruse and had committed over half his men co a Guile HE FIRST SHOTS, At seven in the morning, Devilia began her attack. She advanced swordsmen towards the river banks in fou blocks, with ¢ She stood on the high alry on the lefe flank an behind, nd and looked down on the vil lage across the water. Although she knew much of Stirland’s army was several miles away on a wild goose chase, she still faced a formidable enemy in a strong posi tion. Iris the moments before the first order is given which are the hardest for a general; for he knows that something terrible is about to begin, and men are going to die at his behest. The Outilia gave the order and her archers fred 3n ing volley over the heads of her advancing infantry. Stiland ordered bis men to stay in cover among the buildings uatil the Ortilia ordered her forces across the warer so' the few cargets. Wich the sun rising, and mindful that Stirlind would soon gee wind of her dive order his men back, she sounded the advance Her men waded into the siver in disciplined ranks. The water was waist high and swift flowing, and the men struggled to keep bot momentum and balance. From tJ 5s of Zn de ed fire hafen the Stirland Through the a nd crossbow bolts did windows, doorways and str archers and crossbowmen op eady rain of whickering an the struggling Talabeclanders endure. The air shook as Stitland’s catapults rocked their cart ng huge chunks of masoary, yielded by some of Zweihifen's build: ings, into the ranks of men on the opposite bank. Screams mingled with dull chuds as missiles slammed into flesh, throwing men backwards. The crossbowmen in The Bloody onflir saw Imperial pitted against Impera as depicted in rendering of the battle ar Zwei the upper storeys of the buildings had a clear line of sigh fon the Ortlia’s men, and they picked off targets wich mur derous accuracy, Crossing the river became even more difficul as bodies floated downstream and wounded men wallowed and struggled. It was a terrible ordeal. As the first Talabeclanders reached the river bank, Stitland ordered his infantry out of cover and into blocks. Talabeclander archers fired volleys into them, hoping to keep them from forming up properly, but Stirland’s mer were trained well, and as the Ortlia's men serambled up the bank they were presented with a solid wall of spears. With a defiant roar, they charged towards them. The Talabheim halberd tightly pressed cogethe formation to imbers oft ieland arm Itiohe are ATTLE AT THE FORD. Led by Captain Dieter depicted the Lieber of the Bigenhaen Dogsoldiers, a mounted reg many pole iment of sell-swords, Oxtilia’s cwo-thousand-strong arms used by the armies of the Empire. Of diversionary force reached the ford asthe first shots rang out over Zweihifen. The infantry raced across the ford and closed ‘on Stirland’s spearmen. It is at this point that the weakness of Strland’s strategy becomes apparent. He atthe ford char they should expect reinforcements (who were “IF stil several miles away), or that a sizeable enemy force was heading towards them. So when Ottili’s men emerged from the forest and charged them aerass the river, they were taken eet no sent a scout to inform his men some are pur completely by surprise, They sere not even formed up in line and many time Steland’s archers on the ridges were assembled and ready 10 shoot, the infantry was already engaged so they could not fire without hitting their own men. In a textbook manocuvze, Captain Lieber led his free xs the ford, behind the beleaguered spearmen ir rear and breaking the formation apart. The survivors fled, followed by the archers who were no match for cavalry. With minimal losses, Ortila’s men forded the river and headed north to meet Stirland’s diversionary he soldiers were still breaking their fast. By the lancers a force and keep it occupied for as long as possible ‘The Battle at the Lord 1. Ontilia sends a small force to draw Stirland army away to protect her left flank 2 Stsland sends over half his army to see off che pereived theeat, conumicing his forces ina poinlss skirmish 3. Ouilia attacks deplered Sritlanders across the river, Stirland forces are driven back. Only a decisive cavaley atrack keeps the Otclia back 4, Oueilia’s flanking cavalry falls on Stisland rear. The Stitland army is roured and the Count of Stirland flees. 5, Otelia sends her reserves inwo the Stisland army’s rear and chases them to 4 walle nus of the farm. 2 phalams is 2 special formation used b hafted spears. Ie was First developed and used with spec- results by the savage Jurone tribe, before the time of Soret: fom the nts wor ec late dividualism and personal hovoar. This: rested i avery but did nor led itself to moulding 2 strong, force ‘may be partly due to the land-of the Jutones being one-of open ds open and unbroken ground to work, and the deep forests rsinows areas inhabited by most of the other tribes was not nx is 2 close-order formation, no less than Fonrranks Ie ‘was armed with a spear or pike (up ro ten feet sarge shield and hcimet. The Jones dried hard and prac~ marching inthis Formation une their wariord jaded chem to ara standard to give them a name. This enconraged great pride p each phalarx, and ensored each man knew his comrades and “hard to defend them. jombar, the front-rank (usually the best warriors available) Jock shields and lower theie pikes. The’ ranks behind. would, weapons. Phalames are pariulay effective againt-caaly. ‘The phalanx-proved to:be nearly indestructible, and the Jato defended their lands for many years against all enemies with its However, weaknesses were exposed. The phalams is a front formation, siow moving and not easy to manceurre. Jutones would 4 place units of swordsmen and skirmishers to protecc their flanks bat with limited ssecess. Phalamses are also vulnerable o fastemoring missle troops as the tightly packed ranks make easy targets. ‘As enemies exploited these weaknesses, the: phalanx tse, but it has not: completely died out. Tes legacy in the shield wall and pike square. However, the: aspect of warfare that the Jurone phalanx. demonst deaf cooperative fighting. By effecivly-replaing persona! heroism. on the:bartefeld and-replacing it with mations, where men fought in coninction with Jone weeds showed the e enemy the: phalanx wonld push forward, —_v 0 cross the river, scout approached and reported to Onis “The scour reported that the heavy etins had washed a large portion of the riverbank away about two miles to the north, creating a wide, shallow crossing which cavalry could ford. I hardly needed to recommend 4 course of action in the light of this opportunicy immediately ordered the cavalry, including the Order of the Black Rose, to cross the eiver a cis point,’ wrote Lord Helmut Weiser. Oxtilia did well to take advantage of this seroke of hace Ie is imperative for a general to take advantage of oppor- tunities such as this. As the eminent and worthy historian Wilhelm Bleek said of me in his outstanding work The Genius of General von Vincke ‘a general of worth is con- seanely sighting out for any advantage he can gain over the enemy, and few were better than von Vincke in this respect.’ Bleek’s book is excellent, and goes some way to demonstrate my prowess in the field of Batl Meanvshile, Orclia'sinfanery, with implacable courage under fire, had got to grips with the enemy. Oxia ear rmitted her entire infantry strength to cross the river, She know that brute force was needed to push Stiland’s army back far enough for her men to get a foothold on che east em bank She could not have wished fora more stalwart effort from Ss: ET FIGHTING. As the Talabeclanders struggled fo The Countess her men, They clambered over the bodies oftheir comrades and hurled themselves into the wavering Stirland spe The tightly packed streets were no place for cavalry and the unsupported Stisland infantry were slowly pushed back by | i the numerically superior Talabeclanders furious assault. 23 What followed was a type of fighting few had exper enced before. As the infantey blocks broke up into the streets and alleys, the fighting spread across the whole vil- lage. Handgunners took up positions in windows and alcoves, crossbowmen fired from high places and men « desperately from house to house, room to room. They scrambled up stairs, fought in kitchens, set fire co roofs, slipped on blood, stabbed, strangled and died Regiments lost cohesion and men fought one on one. There were no shieldwalls to hide behind, no battle formations and no clever manoeuvres, Itwas brutal, primal combat and ic lasted several hours As more rotelland the fields beyond. Srirland looked on in horror ashe saw his sen slowly, aganisingly forced from their positions by the rampant Talabeclanders led by Lord Weisser. However, now the infantry were moving into open ground, Strland could use his cavalry. He naturally assumed Oxtila's ‘mounted compaiies were marooned on the other side of the slver, and be sent hisheavy cavaley charging into the advanc ing Tab wo the regroup his shaken army. Sensing the tide was turning his way, he ordered his men to advance, with cavalry support on the flanks, to push che “Talabeclanders back into the river. It seemed that even at this late stage in the proceedings, Stirland still did not ll. | realise he was facing the entire Talabecland army, and did not think to contact his diversionary force to see what the abeclanders crossed the river, numbers began iland’s men were pushed from the village into Janders The exhausted infantry wer thrown back lage under the onslaught, allowing Stslnd time to fon was. What's more, Ottilia and her knights were closing on his right. Auile 24 Stitland looked agog lehad wander Isaw 1 Stipland island rear he leader sing to would, hey did, or the emendous s they tay ties on my travel, and bad occasion t fight its state army, who were stalwart and proud oftheir home the cy, The naeoral mounesinous walls of fom the ground and over the year, the-cis ovis sieniveserueraes to the topy Overlooking the spreads: Oat from che'cigy are’ with pes road whicr rans the enrige length of the craters Spierrestrasse, Anyone approaching the'ciry can be Js away from these permanently manned fortifications. ‘watch posts, called ashes, are equipped with camons and tel the-only way is up, along 2 looping” road “climbs the: steep walls-of the Taalbaston known as the is Way. The road is wide ro accommodate the vote of traf= ‘A less -conrageous leader would indeed: have stayed safely ensconced within Talabheim's impenetrable walls, But in doing 50, he would have forfeited. ay chance-of gaining ladership-of the Empire. Who would folow a leader who hides as his enemies “rampant over his state, -causng untold woe and famentacion ‘people? Orvia had to-meet Stitand in nt proving tat she ‘could defeat her occ rywhere. No ove a 2 land if they are nor free torroum it at wil IF she had st ‘atabheim, she would have Yost. AS ie was, she-won a fam ‘ory and secured her‘daim ro the throne. srvive co the top of the Wiaard’s Way, they are faced ercalses, dozens of mrder holes and along tunne! ined shooting plarforms and holes inthe ceiling through which ch-can be poured onto-their heads. In the unlikely event ‘on the-road which’ runs down the inside-of the-erater @ thes dip. = oniy is the:cty protected by theserater walls, the-wide and ing river Talabec wind is way around the north Face.of the ral bastion, making i al but impossible co assault from that ion. Ir also means that dering a siege, the-cirycan be supplied a8 long a the defends Keep hold of the decks tothe west. The-impregnabiliyof Talabbcim has caused some scholars to lia left it to-march our on Seiand at the Battle f the reason she’ did this is quite simple: she ad ro in oder vfor the Emperors throne. ONCLUSION AND LEGACY, Tug vicor Bons cna nr recpaerl ages cea ; as a result of the battle she enjoyed support from es quarters. Constant civil strife continued in the tr mal) oMicieo page RE td his period of our history, it was not uncom- armies of men to fight each other. Imagine the aks of spearmen and cantering knights, banners and drums rolling, not facing ores or the dark rom the north, but either fellow men of the unthinkable ‘Tee Basle ofthe Talabec was one of the largest st-tos of war and seta benchmark for future conflicts. Rival factions to. The Emperor's throne ‘took heare from the outcome, and realised that with enough courage and men, anyone could stake their claim. ‘Others would follow where one hero feared not to tread,’ a the great historian Adolpheus Dreter aptly put it atthe time, Seirland’s reign as Emperor after this debacle was short-lived. His allies abandoned him, not wishing to be associated with such a weak military strategist. The throne was as good as vacant, and anyone with a claim wasted no time in staking it. The fields of the Empire soaked up much blood as rivalries festered and armies clashed. The brilliant victory at the Talabee spawned from the guile and oppor tunism of Ottla ushered ina new era of civil war and discontent: a sad legacy for sueh a famous barele. 25 ——-. noelopment The Battle of Yel Fenn ‘Our skirmishers fell back before the undead assault, casting aside their weapons and shrieking in P fear. Mannfred von Carstein’s skeletal horrors followed relent- lessly, bony fingers clicked as they gripped tightly their spears. On they marched towards us, the Forlorn Hope, skulls grin- ning in the twilight. But the Count of Stirland was cunning, and the jaws of his trap were about to spring.” — Kurt Vanhlem, Stirland crossbowman Envelopment le of Hel Fenn was a f M ZT AMPIRE HUN Mannfred von Cars he Empire and saw the end error. Yet nkable could well he tactical brilliance of ened if not f cof Stirland and the stout hearts of his soldiers fannfred von Carstein, che last in that cursed line of had shown himself co be a formidable foe in th War of 2132, when he cur a swathe across th. Empire and attacked Aledorf and Marienburg in turn, He was driven back to Sylvania only by a combined force of men and dwarfs, As is was, the tactical and strategic brilliance of Count Martin of Stirland won the day at Hel Fenn, in 2145, and provided scholars of war with the perfect ex2m, ° cnvelopment manoeuvre to study. Thi s taughe in all military schools, and it is every worthy general's dream tobe carry ou i battlefield tactic with the ware, cour skill that Stiland did on that After Mannfred's devastating attack on the Empire had been turned back, first at Altdorf, where the Grand ‘Theogonist himself recited the great Rite of Unbinding, threatening to banish Mannfred’s army wholesale, then at burg, there then began a game of cat and mouse in whieh the vampire was ad all the [campaigned there on se = conjured by romancers. It is not a place I to got again. The idea that the men we buried could be raised again to fight their pitable and desolate land of jagged mountains, bleak plains and rotten soil covered in dense pine forests. Dark things ive there, and the dead str. Stirland was in overall command of the joine armies bur he was 2 diplomat, and sought the council of che other Elector Counts and dwarfs on all important matters knew that his biggest strength was unity of forces (se — Battle of Black Fire Pass) and he made sure he maintained believed that Mannfred could muster much resist ance aft his defeat hat he be dit was imperative the allies could end his threat, once and for numerous battles, in which it see side 4 the upper hand in the br riven back into the Sylvanian forests. T long and laborious process of scouring the woods sd Alter ever ‘context of the war, Manfred was began vampire and his foul army ofthe res! of fruitles weeks arching, Manafred was finally brow battle at Hel Fenn, As he emerged from the trees, Scirland saw an open plain sloping up to a ridge st. They rode up the ri the count described what be sav: We rode inta the apen plain at Hel Fi were drawn across che plain. Fog drifted through the twist ed trees before us, moving sluggishly on the hs came from the stinking swamp. The sun was low and the light fading so at first we thought our eyes were playing das ifthe trees w “But it was aprthe trees that moved. From out of the dead. My horse shied and a thrill of I caught the stench of rotting flesh. More the forest, endless columns of pera ig wolves and the sky a flock of fell bars converged in swirling clouds. And th est marched the san up my spi me black as asta distant smear in the dusk’s light, bur his Mannfred von Carstein. He fembled and ed around him, We looked aghast 2t the size of his outline was unmistakable: hrew his arms into the air and lightning fl “Send word to our al ” | said. “We need their assis tance with all the haste they can muster. The vampire has found new strength and has been waiting ieetare which the bal of Hel Fenn teas fought Envelopment The they exact a fear-grip on men’s hearts in a no other enemy can. Men are more prone to fear when ing a hose of the walking dead, and fear is enemy. Happily for Stiland, his army had been fighting Mannired’s host for over a year du Empire and were steeled Mannfred’s host had been soundly b: in his retreat from the Empire, and he bi dos ampire allies. However, he had creat skeletons, ghouls, zombies, wights and peasants s Approximations of the sizeof his army range ty thousand to three hundred thousand. The rei probably between those figures. Mann ied by two of his most trusted lieutenants, weeromancer Adolphus Krieger and the wight lord, Gothard, known as the Undying Knight. depicted here in What we can be sure of is that Stirland’s hardy army was harp decided by whether his allies could reach fi Fae oe, as more and more of Mannfed’s watriors shuld glide 1p into regiments in complete smpet bayed. impression, a shouted, n never Fear isa weapon that should Manfred as having wor Bur undead hosts do not ki mind as he watched Mannfred’ EWhen ove thinks of armies commanded by the foul vampite counts in ESyivania, what springs immediately to mind are shufling zombies, Slavering ghouls and mindiess skeletons. However, there is another po creatures that invariably folows in the wake of heir vam: master, one tat defies the logic. of good Sigmar-fearing men: ving ‘What man would willingly march to-war under the bamers-of the iuadead? And why do the counts tolerate these warm-bioaded folk and induct them inco chit otherwise roriag and shies ranks? Ir is hard to understand citer ofthese questions. and I will never be abie to fully come to terms with the answers, but there are reasons wivy these people fight for their undead masters. Ie is impor: Stant co remember that Syivania is wake ary-of the other staes.of the Empire, and so are the peopie who live there Se Syivania isa landed by the dead. For she tvng unfortunate enough Eto cxiseiere, they lve ever ithe thea of the vampire everiords who Beck thcm-of the wil to fight wich fer and high taxes. The-men-of flan ih for vce ruc! mascers because they fear them. They have eaten down by years of drudgery and poverty. and the ever-pres theea-of death an rebirch as 2 Mlesh-ctavig zombie or skeleton, Rearcan drive a man to'do mary things, and few entities arc as elec as casing fear than the vampire cous of Syvania ‘The peasan levies raised to fight with the undead armizs are not (Profesional fighters and are‘rarciy armed and trained well. They ate Hor expected to pur up much ofa fight: but they may slow down an “attack jong enoush for more effective forees to: be brought to bear. ‘The: peasare levies are sometimes-provided with equipment by theie masters, but will more usualy arm themscives and then add to HE UNDEAD HOST nies of the unde are unlike others. I have faced them many times and ing his invasion of che debilicating effects elie: ed was accompa: d, and he knew that his fare would be used by every general: if fone enemy formation routs, others ae likely to follow sui ww fear, and they never flee a | is wx battle. This fact would have been foremost in Stirland’s rl al That revolting aberration Mannfred w al hg Spon at aya host forward and using his devious bies and skeletons animation, He was th oly host together. | prayed to found to be armed with spears, staves, pikes, 2xes, hammers, sethes, reapers and eecasionaly hunting bows and crossbows ‘Theis everyday lfe.of privation and fear gives Syivanian peasant an unhealthy pallor, pale and wan. In fact, many have suggested that where their-comrades are undead, the peasants arc the half-dead thee lives glimmering dimly ia 2 black Sea-of misery, waiting with petrified patience forthe inevitable end when they wil tray. become the slaves of ehe vampires. Howevet, they are not co be underestimated in bate. Theit fear of their masters ensares they fighe with fervency and desperation, vowing that any failore.on their part wil result in chem or dhe family being horeibiy punished ‘The vampire counts use the peasant levies in their armies because thy are numerous, 2S easy coneeoliable as thetr zombies and skele= tons yet capable-of independent thought which may give them an cdg in-batte. They car-be used ro soak up missile fie and gener- ally boister the ranks ~ and ofcourse when they die, rheycan always bbe re-animared Tis hard for us mortals to-comprchend why these people-fse up to fight on behalf of the undead. But co them, the’ vampire counts ars thei legitimate lords and masters who must be obeyed. They are infected with a twisted sense of loyalty and a misplaced desires protect their homeland from ary invader. : T make no excuses for their conduct, and I have no-compunetion to show them mercy in battle. However, it is important to under stand why they act like they do,” and piey them for their desperate Jor in life. Bringing death to-them in baie is doubtless acreleas: from 2 mich worse fae iS ett) a : . Gee C fs es Cae aS Envelopment front, His right flank was walled farm superior number and it was imperative it lee wonder these warios have foughe incouness ans For mary dlferene electors. ‘Gear rgimee i satire in the cy of Woes. irs-of promise from other, less prestigious ‘cegiments are ito the ranks.of the Black Guard parcy on the basis of candidate must have proved himself to be nt ony 2 grcat also to-be a man with 2 stalware sou! and an imperi- in she heat of battle. Only then is he judged worthy forward fer consideration is 4 matter of honoar co join their ranks; bur high social se ‘Powerful friends wil in no way grease a man’s paSage into. Black Guard. Ic is for this reason that they remain such Roig pe: cy i or cae hs ics wih and proven deeds of conrage. ye =e Mie bye hard of heart and fighters to the: bone. ing noticed,-recommended by an-offcer and inducted into the: 4 ony che Fist step.on the fong-road to: becoming 2 Black rd. The training regime is punishing, and only three men in ten the distance to become a ranket. Most are sent back to their eFregiments, chastened and more in awe-of the Black Guard ver before. For those chat prove themselves worthy, they are xed to-be part-of one of Ostland’s most famous regiments i a hes = weapons. but they ticimatey eam -how to. wi ‘weapon to master of them all: the greatswérd. The greatsword, {igo known 2s the 2wei-hander, is 2 two-handed weapon roughly the eight of a man. Its extremely diffe to use and ir takes farge- smeasares-of sil, strength and discipline to do so effectively. Although the blades are made bythe finest weapon-smith in the “state co ensare that they are as supple, strong and light as they ean be, they aresheaty weapons and i is perlousy easy for 2 lose-controt, especial after a hefty swing at a nimble enemy! ‘Every state in che Empire has its greatswords, those elite war -riors at the: right-hand of an eleccor count, second only 10’ his ‘knights. Their finely wrought biades are trly things of beauty, @e~ pap ortrees Srcepn ie oe af sega “Bilabicim’a gotée lion, the Hachiand