Near the end of 2004 the Corruption fragment began to show signs of imminent destruction. A great increase in the number of Shades heralded the rise of a vast horde of undead. It was revealed that a new island ruled by the Lich Queen Ithriana had surfaced from the vast oceans. To explore this new continent, the Winterblades were invited to the Thorne of Oblivion beta. A pact was made at the Throne of Oblivion by the leading guilds of Test to form a test server nation for the upcoming server release. To this end the ChokoMoonBlades were formed and arrived on the newly discovered fragment of Wrath.
The race for the first tree of life (city) was heated, and the Winterblades missed planting the first tree of life by only minutes. As we neared our intended location, bordering on the Elven Kingdoms of Arean Belador and Aerath Highlands we found a new sapling had just been planted by a contingent of seedy individuals known as Crime Syndicate. Not to be thwarted we quickly headed south and planted our precious seed of life across the river Aedroch near the Aedroch Highlands. Unbeknownst to the Winterblades the cities of Crime Central and Wintershield XIII, separated by little more than a river, would soon be locked in a near constant struggle for supremacy of mainland Wrath.
The ChokoMoonBlade nation was short lived, lasting only a few weeks before the Chokobos returned to Test. The rest of the alliance reformed under the wolf banner and leadership of Damebix of the Winterblades. Wrath was the high point for the Winterblades in Shadowbane. We were one of the two major server powers and we enjoyed the support and allegiance of many of our friends and former rivals. On Wrath the Commander’s Reborn, GALG. Deathryders, Silvermoon and elements of old House Daenyr and The Fringe joined us in creating the Winterblades nation.
Against the Winterblades was Crime Syndicate, who moved to solidify their hold on the Ulward region and began settling their sub-guilds in the area. Notable among these sub-guilds were The Wretched lead MyLove. The Wretched were a division of the Temple of the Cleansing Flame and fielded Templars and Confessors almost to the exclusion of all else. The Wretched’s specialized Templar group often appeared for local mine fights and took the short route home. The Wretched field commander, Phylor the Jester, occasionally made such fights interesting and would go on to eventually join the Winterblades/Commanders Reborn. In order to maintain a foothold in the Ulward region Winterblades placed a tree and GALG was settled in the city near the Ashfell Plains and Haldrom’s Gate. GALG’s city was soon thereafter baned by Crime Syndicate and would become the focal point of the war.
The first bane on GALG’s city was a close loss. The Winterblades held on the walls, after the first breach was made, but Crime Syndicate rushed their heavy melee troops to the tree. Sensing opportunity Damebix rallied the remaining defenders on the wall and broke through the remaining attackers at the banestone. Summons were sent and the race between the two siege teams commenced. The tree was only rank three (of seven) and even then Winterblades rallied and almost destroyed the banestone before the tree was captured.
This siege was the only the first in a long conflict. The following week Winterblades recaptured GALGs’ city. Crime Syndicate had not finished the repairs to the walls allowing the Winterblades to take the tree initially and begin dismantling the defenses. The roles from the previous week were reversed as Crime Syndicate now rushed to the banestone in hopes of destroying it and ending the siege before the tree fell. The Winterblades emerged victorious and captured the tree. Following their defeat Crime Syndicate again laid siege to the city.
The siege of GALG’s city in northern Ulward or more correctly the siege of the ruins of GALG’s city became almost a weekly event between the Winterblades and Crime Syndicate. Both sides eventually stopped repairing the walls and the and the sieges became massive open field battles. Skorpion, leader of Crime Syndicate, was a student of Horwathi nomad tactics and favored lighter combat troops with greater ability to do damage. In open field battles Crime Syndicate would present in two ranks, the light troops in the front with priests and holy warriors in the rear. The light troops would cycle forward and then retreat back for heals, forming pseudo-cantabrian circle.
Skorpion’s tactics were always engaging, but not always successful. Winterblade military doctrine relied heavily on hardy well armed and armored shock troops. On some weeks Skorpion would prevail on others, the initial charge of bloodcrazed barbarians and berserking warriors would smash through Crime Syndicate’s front line and not stop until they chased Skorpion and the rest of syndicate back to Crime Central.
Another favored tactic centered around the large devout contingent in the Winterblades, dedicated to the Church of the All-Father. Chief among these holy warriors was CoolWater’s Americans Revenge, a Dwarf Sentinel of great renown across all the fragments of Aerynth. Following the Winterblade heavy combat troop doctrine a mix of Crusaders and Sentinels backed by Prelates and Priests made this group a durable shock force with potential for “stack busting” in the Sentinel’s ability to channel the Dangiriel’s Might into a cataclysmic and often sacrificial explosion of holy fire.
The steady months of GALG city banes were an impromptu and enjoyable arrangement for all except perhaps GALG. Captial sieges on Crime Central and Wintershield XIII were occasionally made, but neither force ever came close to taking their rival’s capital. The expense and effort of these major sieges eventually became viewed as a poor use of resources, especially after Crime Syndicate proclaimed Crime Central as Ulward’s realm capital and Skorpion took on the title of Warlord.
The Winterblade’s were also was striving to make Wintershield XIII a realm capital, but they were not alone in this ambition. House of Errants, lead by Drenath, also had their nation capital in the Aedroch zone and unburdened by a costly war, had ranked their tree of life to seven and captured the realm. Thwarted at home, the Winterblades looked abroad for opportunities to increase their power. In the realm of Belandar, where our subguild Commander’s Reborn had built their city the Fortress of the Commanders, a small ten man guild, LDV, had claimed the realm for their own. Unwilling to let a ten man guild prevent their ambitions, Damebix and Shadey placed a bane the first rank eight realm capital bane on Wrath and prepared to siege LDV. The Winterblades showed up early to the siege and found the city spires had not been turned on. Accepting such an excellent invitation, the Winterblades teleported their summoners inside and proceeded to dig in around the tree. LDV was unlikely to give the Winterblades a good fight due to the disparity in numbers. Winterblades fielded almost six combat teams, over sixty people to LDV’s ten warriors. Lucky for the Winterblades Masquers, lead by Angela lord of the bog island realm of Thollmar, brought his fifty best warriors to the aid of LDV.
The initial attempts by Masquers and LDV to retake the city were handily countered. After purging the field of their enemies, Damebix ordered the Winterblades out of the city through new breach in LDV walls. The LDV bulwarks were still a threat to the banestone, should Masquers and LDV win the field and work began on the bulwarks destruction. Masquers and LDV rallied once more while their bulwarks were being destroyed, but again failed to take the field from the Winterblades. The Damebix again ordered his troops back to the tree where they deranked the tree from rank eight to rank seven, removing LDV’s claim at realm leadership. LDV and Masquers returned again, but this time brought another full group of minotaurs which were unleashed on the banestone. The Winterblades warriors low on stamina from destroying the tree with hand weapons rushed out to meet this latest charge by Masquers and LDV. A prolong fight ensued, with the warriors on both sides dying multiple times thanks to efficient summon teams. In the end Masquers managed to take the field, but Shadey claimed the title Warlord and took the Belandar for the Commanders Reborn.
Despite the desire to capture the Aedroch realm for the Winterblades, the national treasury was drained. The continuing war with Crime Syndicate, the expense of one realm capital bane, and the upkeep on the Belandar realm capital left little extra cash for other expenses. House of Errants however was restive. Drenath had not had an opportunity to use exercise his troops in months and he was itching for a challenge. House of Errants provided the capital banescroll for a siege on their capital. The bane was placed and an epic siege ensued. The five hour siege was a series of amazing fights as HoE sallied from their outer walls in hopes of pushing us off our bulwarks and siege equipment. The Winterblades had over 50 on the field versus House of Errants 30 to 40. The Winterblades held the field throughout the night despite several very close battles that required much of our forces to be summoned back. When the inner walls finally came down we rushed the tree and had just enough time to derank it from rank eight to rank seven before House of Errants rallied. Damebix ordered everyone from the tree to retake the banestone that was now under attack. The Winterblades now had to assault our own siege works and along with the timely presence of a group of ten Crime Syndicate we were repulsed and then routed. Although we lost the siege, our objective was complete. Damebix seized the Aedroch realm making Wintershield XIII its capital and claimed the title of Conqueror.
After six months on the server Crime Syndicate announced their intentions to retire from Shadowbane. The rivalry between Wintershield XIII and Crime Central ended on the best of terms. On future servers with the ever shrinking Shadowbane population the remnants of CS and -W- members that had not tired of Shadowbane would play together under various tags. With Crime Syndicate leaving for other games and the general decrease in server population, maintaining a large nation tended to discourage fights. Accordingly, the Winterblades Inner Council made the decision to encourage our larger sub-guilds, specifically Commanders Reborn to desub and become independent.
With the larger mainland nations disbanding the Wrath server entered into period of post-political lawlessness. Bane “crashing,” attending banes with no interest in helping either party, became a standard order of the day. In efforts to gain power guilds such as Holrom’s The Knights of Glory and Beer increased their recruitment activities and dropped what little standards they ever had. Mass recruiting or zerg nations were a favored target of guild like the Winterblades and House of Errants. This led to many banes back and forth but despite their overwhelming numerical superiority KGB rarely made inroads against their aggressors.
This was largely due to their lack of effective leadership and combat tactics. When Holrom, the KGB leader, was not present the KGB masses rarely stirred themselves to take strategic resources or even attend their own banes. Holrom it cannot be denied was a charismatic orator. When he was on the field he was actually able to mobilize the large masses of warriors that nominally wore the KGB colors. Holrom’s favorite and almost exclusive tactic, likewise involved his oratory skills. Holrom’s great roaring voice could easily carry across the battlefield and over the din of battle could be heard Holrom’s battle cry: “STACK UNDER THE TEXT! FOLLOW THE TEXT! GET UNDER THE TEXT”. It was not the most imaginative of tactics, but then quantity can have a quality of its own.
Holrom, finding his ambitions so often thwarted, began to associate his Knights of Glory and Beer with other nations like Blood & Iron and Manshoon’s Zhentil Keep. The alliance of Holrom and Manshoon was a matched fated by the gods. Both relied on their oratory skills in their conquests, Holrom on the battle field and Manshoon in the political sphere (forums). However, Manshoon was not the most adept political actor. Manshoon’s “board warrioring” soon had managed to insult most the nations on Wrath. Combined with his history for aligning with the Asian hordes a temporary agreement was made by Commanders Reborn, Winterblades, Corrupted, The Wretched and Obsidian Overlords for the siege of Zhentil Keep. Holrom’s Knights of Glory and Beer and The Wrath Alliance, which Manshoon was apart of defended Zhentil keep. The defenders were no match for the superior forces arrayed against. For once the mass recruiting nations were not an a severe numerical advantage and the tree fell.
Soon thereafter the Winterblades much like Crime Syndicate grew tired of Shadowbane after almost five years of continuous activity. The Winterblades announced their retirement from Shadowbane. A week after the retirement of the Winterblades Holrom placed a bane on Wintershield XIII. In a gratifying moment the Wrath server expressed its outrage at this opportunism by the Knights of Glory and Beer and many former friends and enemies including, House of Errants, donned the wolf banner of the Winterblades and decimated the Knights of Glory and Beer and their allies before the walls of Wintershield.
Wintershield XIII continued to stand long after the Winterblades stopped actively playing Shadowbane. Almost a year after the Winterblades left, a small contingent returned to Wrath, pleasantly surprised to see that Wintershield XIII was still standing and in fact had remained the capital of Aedroch in the intervening eight months.