Melvin brought a Nuln gunline list which consisted of :
2 Master Engineers
3 units of 20 Handgunners
Helstorm Rocket Battery
Helblaster Volley Gun
All in all, the standard gunline list. We rolled Meeting Engagement for our battle and Melvin chose to deploy first. The scenario aided me as now I only have 12 inches between our two deployment zone which can allow me to reach his lines faster.
The battlefield has 2 3 hills, 2 in the left flank and 1 in the right flank. 2 of the hills were in the non-deployment zone in the corners while the 2nd hill in the left flank bordered the zone. Both our sides have extensive patches of wheatfields which we treated as obstacles/difficult terrain for cavalry while a forest laid right in the non-deployment zone in the right flank.
Melvin deployed in the standard corner deployment, refusing both the left and centre flanks. His cannons, mortars and Helstorm Rocket Battery were deployed in the right flank corner (which has his deepest width) with 2 engineers standing around them to offer rerolls on the misfire. 2 units of Handgunners spread themselves in rows of 10 around with Balthasar standing at one side. The Steam tank was deployed alone in the centre as a rock while the 10 Outriders were in the left flank. The Pistoliers were in the right flank right at the edge of the deployment line as early skirmishers. The last unit of Handgunners and the Helblaster were reserves after failing the rolls of one.
My Sorceress and 1 unit of Dark Riders were also reserved which gave me some interesting deployment problems. I had decided early that with his Steam Tank in the centre, I needed to use a sacrificial unit to try and hold him in place while my Knights charge into his lines. This mission fell to my Spearelves, since they have the numbers (20) and are my cheapest unit on field per model (7). I subsequently deployed with the Spearelves facing the Steam Tank, with my 2 RBTs and the Crossbows to their right so that I have clear shooting LOS. My Chariot and the Executioners were deployed facing the Outriders so that I can charge straight out at them. The Hydra, Black Guards, Cold One Knights and the Dark Riders were deployed on my extreme right so that I could use the forest to give soft cover while I cover the distance to his battleline. The Cauldron of Blood was as always right behind the Knights to give them the reroll on BSB and 5+ ward save.
You can see the way the battlelines are drawn in the 2 pictures below, after I had made my first moves and before Empire's first turn :
I was lucky in seizing the initiative which gave me plenty of options. Straight off, I declared a charge on the Steam Tank with my Spearelves, but failed miserably my charge distance. Needing a 7 to cover the 12 inches, I rolled a 3 and stumbled forward 2 inches. My Chariot and Executioners tried to give chase to his Outriders though they have lower movement. On the right, my Cold One Knights, Hydra, Black Guards and Dark Riders moved straight up with max distance. I will take one round of shooting, but the next turn could see my Knights contacting his lines early as long as I don't fluff my charge rolls again. The 2nd Dark Riders unit came in also on the right and onto the hill, while my Sorceress moved into the centre but was still some distance away from my Crossbows. Shooting saw my RBTs killing 4 Outriders but the rest of my shots plinked harmlessly away at the Steam Tank in a desperate attempt to take some wounds off it.
Melvin reacted by pulling his Steam Tank back to attempt a flanking cannonball shot into my Knights while his reserves entered the battlefield's centre flank. He unloaded all 4 cannons into my Knights but this is where my ward saves played its important role. 2 Knights died after I had already saved 3 ward saves which gives you an idea how important the Cauldron is to me. The Mortars and Helstorm targetted my Spears and Crossbows but scattered off. The Outriders also poured 18 shots into my Spearelves to try and panic them off but even with 7 elves dead, my Spears held.
Turn 2 saw a crucial charge phase. My Chariot, Executioners and Spearelves charged the Outriders while the Knights, Hydra, 1 Dark Riders and the Black Guards charged the Pistoliers. The other Dark Riders moved forward to plink away at the Handgunners behind. As expected, both Fast Cavalry elements melted away and the Knights, Hydra and Dark Riders overran straight into the Handgunners behind.
Seeing contact in his lines, Melvin countercharged another unit of Handgunners into the flanks of my Knights which in hindsight was a mistake. The Steam Tank also charged straight into the flanks of my Knights which was a good move. For the rest of the game, my Knights were grinded into the dust together with my Dreadlord being stuck in place. I had wiped out the Handgunners to my front in the initial phase of combat and with a total of 19 wounds dealt, saw his flanking Handgunners flee. This created a chain of events that was detrimental to Melvin. The fleeing Handgunners contacted the 3rd Handgunner unit, which in turn failed their Leadership test and fled off table. My Hydra and Dark Riders chose to restrain as the next turn was mine.
Melvin's battleline is now actually crumbling, and my Hydra and Dark Riders did not waste time in charging 3 of the war machines behind. This started a chain of charging and overruning that saw the rest of his war machines being taken off the field, though not before he had mortared the rest of my Spearelves and Crossbows to death. With my Sorceress now exposed as a lone figure (who could I join?), Melvin pumped his Helblaster shots into my Sorceress and subsequently rolled 3 10s for the number of shots.
Anyone who saw the chinese movie Hero could see how my Sorceress felt as she shared the same fate as Jet Li in the movie. In return, my RBTs also sniped his Balthasar Gelt who rolled enough ones to fail his ward saves.
As the smoke cleared, only the Steam Tank and the Helblaster remained on the battlefield for Melvin and Dark Elves took victory!