Mortal Empires, Part VIII - History Repeating

Armed with the foresight of my previous two losses, I resolved to begin Legendary campaign number ten with the mindset of not taking anything for granted.

Karl Franz's starting army. Franz is positioned squarely in the center to give all his troops a Leadership bonus. Spearmen, swordsmen and halberdiers hold the line while handgunners and crossbows support from behind. The Reiksgard cavalry are deployed far to the right to flank the enemy.

We united the Reikland without any issues, fighting each battle manually to make sure of the result. Afterwards we ignored Marienburg and immediately headed north-west to Grung Zint to destroy the Skullsmasherz before they could rise to power. Karl Franz was met by a massive Orcish army, but we fought them nonetheless. I was confident that I could beat them despite the numbers.

As the enemy advances to the Imperial lines the cavalry sweep behind, take out missile troops, then attack the enemy from the flank or rear.

I was wrong. Our army was wiped out in a disastrous defeat.

This single orc stronghold of Grung Zint was a simple annoyance pre-DLC, but post-DLC united with the Skull-Smasherz and the Crooked Moon to wipe me out in the ninth campaign.

If you recall, I was trying to keep Franz's Household guard intact for narrative purposes, because the idea of how these units fared in the overall campaign appealed to me. Well, I need not worry about them anymore. The whole army was wiped out. Franz was wounded, and carried back to Altdorf. While Franz recuperated I hastily raised another army in Eilhart under neophyte General Alberich Hergiger to defend against the Skullsmasherz. They came down like before in numbers, and attacked the Empire's north-west. It looked like a repeat of campaign number nine was on the cards. The crucial difference, however, was that Wissenland was able to destroy the Skull-Takerz in the south-east instead of being overrun by them, and that difference gave me the chance to defeat the Skullsmasherz in the north-west without being double teamed by the Orcish tribes. It's better to be lucky than good sometimes.

Franz had recovered by the time the Skullsmasherz arrived at the gates of Eilhart, and this time around Franz was able to avenge his defeat. Once again, however we could not pursue the orcs and finish the job, because rebels in Altdorf demanded our attention. After the rebellion was put down another orcish army was en route, and Franz was forced to defend at Eilhart once again. If we say one turn in game is equivalent to one week, then this back and forth took a four to six months of fantasy time. The orcs would come down from the mountains, the Empire would defend, but be too weak to pursue. One particularly crushing victory gave the Empire the opportunity it was looking for, however, to pursue the orcs back to Grung Zint. In the second battle of Grung Zint Franz was able to capture the stronghold and end the Skullsmasherz once and for all.

The wars with the Skullsmasherz did serve a greater purpose. They gave Franz enough experience to get to level 15, which is when he unlocks his flying griffon Deathclaw. With Deathclaw in play Karl Franz changes from a somewhat dangerous cavalry commander to a deadly tactical threat able to strike anywhere on the battlefield. Once we defeated the orcs we immediately attacked Marienburg, and this time the siege was much more one sided than in my seventh playthrough, because Franz could literally fly over the walls, attack the enemy artillery, then swoop back and assist the troops scaling the castle walls by directly attacking the defenders on the parapets. Having a lord on a griffon shortens sieges dramatically and removes the need for battering rams and siege towers, which typically need a few turns to construct.

The siege of Marienburg. Free Company militia scale the walls and suffer heavy losses.

The capture of Marienburg finally squares up this playthrough with where I am in the written account. The sequence of events is slightly different. In playthrough number seven the order of events are (1) unite the Reikland; (2) capture Marienburg; and (3) capture Grung Zint. In my current campaign the order goes (1) unite the Reikland; (2) attempt and fail to capture Grung Zint; (3) defend against Grung Zint; (4) capture Grung Zint; and (5) capture Marienburg.

Karl Franz on his griffon Deathclaw attacking the defenders on the parapets while the Reiksgard break through below.

If these were parallel universes then the capture of Grung Zint and Marienburg took place months after the original campaign documented in my earlier posts. Franz is also more battle hardened, having lost his beloved Household guard in the first battle of Grung Zint, and now riding to battle astride his griffon Deathclaw. This version of Karl Franz is grimmer, darker and more ruthless, but perhaps better suited to the coming wars than his more idealistic counterpart in the campaign I abandoned when the Tomb Kings DLC dropped.