Prince Kazador stood smoking his gromril pipe, and holding his father Balric's banner amongst the veteran Longbeards of his former hold. He was awaiting his younger brother, Thane Logan, who was scouting out the area ahead with his Rangers in an uncomfortably Elgi-like fashion. He had to admit however, that the sneaking and spying his brother performed (with an unhealthy enthusiasm) had granted the throng great victories against their hated foes recently, and so the behavior was tolerated, though the source of much grumbling.
The Great Grudge of their hold was that it had been destroyed and overrun by the hated Skaven, leaving the members of the hold wandering, and the royal family without true claim to their titles. In fact, it was during the escape that King Balric earned his title of Fireforged, entering the warpfire-blazing hold time and again to rescue ladies and beardlings by carrying them through the fire on his own shield. Because of his loyalty to them, the throng remained loyal to him, following him in exile instead of seeking other holds... until they could all start anew.
Thane Logan, looking far too pleased with how disheveled he looked, marched out of the wood in front of Kazador with his Rangers. He placed the head of his massive rune axe on the ground and leaned his hands on the end of the haft, finding a position of comfort. He was smiling with a twinkle in his eye.
"What did you find, brother?" asked Kazador.
"I found a camp of the foul ratbeasts, Kazador," Logan replied, still grinning.
"What has you grinning? Has your beer gone to your head?" Kazador charged back.
"No, brother, you know my Rangers are no drunkards. We drink for sustenance, and courage, but no more. No, I am grinning, because the vermin are led by none other than Skreek himself," Logan answered with a wink.
"That is good fortune, brother!" Kazador smiled, "Perhaps we can avenge the taking of our hold after all. How were his forces arrayed? How many are they?"
Logan clapped a hand on his brother's shoulder, "They outnumber us two to one... so not nearly enough, but they had several of their warpstone guns, which could pose a problem. Here is what we scouted:
Warlord Skreek: Warlord, War Litter, Shield (magic items unknown)
Warlock Engineer: Level 2 (magic items unknown)
45 Clanrats, Full Command, Spears, Shields, Ratling Gun
40 Slaves, Full Command, Spears, Shields
10 Poison Wind Globadiers
Warp Lightning Cannon."
Kazador mulled for a moment, then replied, "Very well brother, as you have scouted the terrain and forces, you may deploy and direct us in this battle. Including your Rangers, this is what we have:
Thane Logan: Josef Bugman (General)
Prince Kazador: Thane, BSB, Shield, MRoGrungni, RoStrollaz
Arik Flamebreather: Runesmith, Shield, RoStone, RoSpellbreaking, Fiery Ring of Thori
22 Longbeards, Full Command, Shields, RoStoicism
14 Rangers, Full Command, Bugman's Upgrade."
"Very good, brother, we'll meet in battle!" exclaimed Logan, and with a few swift strides of his short legs, he disappeared back into the woods.
Yes, he was far too Elgi-like for Kazador's taste.
Deployment: Kazador, Arik and the Longbeards deployed centrally, to be able to get into the fray quickly. The gyrocopter hid behind a building, which Logan had occupied. The rats spread out with the Warp Lightning Cannon and Jezzails occupying hills on either flank, and the Doomwheel sandwiched between the two infantry blocks. The Engineer deployed in the Globadiers, screening the Cannon. Prince Kazador felt some slight trepidation, given his unit was exposed and alone in front of an entire vermintide, but trusted his brother's plan and marched forward down the enemy's throat, while the gyro flew over the house and hid behind the wood.
Skaven Turn 1: The Doomwheel plunged ahead, trying to get out of Kazador's charge arc (but failing), and the Engineer leapt out from the Globadiers, who scurried forth into the wood, with eyes on the Gyrocopter. With the Engineer out of range of any spells, he instead cackled as he decided to blast forth his DOOM ROCKET straight at the Longbeards! Fortunately, after spiraling in the air several times, it landed in the field between the two forces, exploding harmlessly. The Globadiers cast their poison wind at the Gyrocopter, causing a slight mechanical problem and the loss of a wound. The Ratling Gun spun up to shoot at the Longbeards, but the operator turned the crank too quickly and spun out of control, spitting warp bullets off the field behind them. The Jezzails fired their shots at the Longbeards, but they bounced off of the invisible shield wrought by Grungni. The Engineer was incensed at the failure of his various contraptions, and screeched at the Warp Lightning Cannon to fire at Kazador’s Longbeards. Under his direction, the cannon was well calibrated, firing a direct hit at maximum strength, and felling a full rank of the hardy Dwarfs. But the ratmen couldn’t celebrate for long, for the mad driver of the Doomwheel unleashed his warp lightning despite the proximity of his own fellows. Turning the warpstone generator to 11, a mighty spark killed two of the nearby Globadiers before causing the Doomwheel to list dangerously and rotate. By the time the Doomwheel regained balance, it shot forward into the Slaves! Two died, but no one would miss them… the real danger was exposing the Doomwheel’s rear to Kazador’s Longbeards, which would allow him access to the Skaven’s inner lines…
Dwarf Turn 1: The opportunity was not lost on Kazador, who ordered his Dwarfs to charge the Doomwheel, eager to dismantle the contraption in a storm of axes. The Gyrocopter pilot flew over the forest, eager to assist the Longbeards with the main combats, but wanting a chance at the Globadiers in passing. Logan spotted the Warlock Engineer, who seemed not to notice the Rangers in the house, and thought himself safe… how wrong he was. Logan ordered a flight of bolts at the lone Engineer, and while a few were instead diverted into the Slaves, killing two, the Engineer was made a bloody pincushion, and quite dead. The Slaves, seeing no authority figure in discipline range, decided to make a break for it, and escaped off the field. Logan and the Rangers drank a pint to their success, ready for the next target. The Gyrocopter pilot unleashed his steam through the woods at the Globadiers, killing half of their number, and forcing them to flee before the hot steaming death. As Kazador’s Longbeards crashed into the Doomwheel, the whirring wheel injured some of the Dwarfs. However, Kazador and Arik answered back with their axes, and put three mighty blows on the infernal machine. The rest of the Longbeards could only connect one more time, leaving the machine in shambles, but still functional, and the driver wisely chose to flee. While the Dwarfs were unable to match the speed of the Doomwheel, who seemed to retain some mad courage and stay on the field of battle, they did run beyond the sight of Warlord Skreek and his Clanrats, choosing not to face them head on just yet.
Skaven Turn 2: Warlord Skreek didn’t care about the loss of his Slaves, but he did care that his eastern flank was collapsing. Standing tall on the necks of his litter bearers, he squeaked orders at his troops, rallying both the Doomwheel and the Globadiers, and reforming what remained of his battle line at the Longbeards, hoping to have them surrounded. The Doomwheel, with newfound courage, reversed its engines, and crashed back into the Longbeards! [This was an error on our part, as the Doomwheel had just rallied… oops] The Warp Lightning Cannon, seeing an opportunity to down the Gyrocopter, took aim and fired… but without the aid of the now dead Engineer, the shot went wide, and missed the nimble craft. In response, the Jezzails let go another volley of warpstone bullets at the elusive flying Dwarf, but while they managed to sever a few steam lines, and ding some mechanisms… the Gyrocopter remained airborne. The Doomwheel’s impact and sparking warp generator claimed a handful of Longbeards, but Kazador sent a single, contemptuous axe blow into the heart of the machine, and collapsed the dilapidated construct before it could cause any more damage. Having finally dealt with the accursed Doomwheel, Kazador quickly surveyed his area of the battle field, and decided he still didn’t want to take on the horde of Clanrats head on. He instead had his eye on the lone Ratling Gun, as a means of frustrating Skreek’s maneuver commands.
Dwarf Turn 2: Kazador bellowed a charge with the Longbeards again, this time skirting the front of the Clanrats and heading for the Ratling Gun. The gun team saw their doom approaching and cranked their weapon as madly as the machine would allow, scything down the back rank of Dwarfs in a hail of warp bullets, but the charge hit home. The Gyrocopter flew swiftly to aid the Longbeards across the field, and hovered on the opposite corner of the Clanrats, frustrating their movement. The pilot unleashed a second blast of steam into rats, this time cooking a mighty 12 rats to a grisly death. Despite his surprise, Warlord Skreek was able to maintain control of the horde by leading his unit in laughing derisively at the fortunes of their fellows who had perished, and they held on the idea that they must be lucky. Logan spied another opportune target with which he could assist his brother, as the Jezzails on the hill were in a ripe position to fire into the Longbeards once they finished their combat. So, Logan and the Rangers let fly another volley of bolts into the ratmen, slaying enough to cause the cowardly remnants to flee the field. Upon reaching the Ratling Gun, Kazador easily bashed the rats to death with his shield and cleaved the weapon in two with one strike of his axe. He reformed to face the flank of the Clanrats, eager to send another charge home.
Skaven Turn 3: With his support units disintegrating all around him, and without any charges possible, Warlord Skreek knew he would be in trouble if he couldn’t regain his position. With the Gyrocopter and Longbeards fencing in his movement, his options were limited, so he moved his Clanrats to allow for the greatest possible field with which to charge… hopefully he would be able to catch some Dwarfs in front of his unit. The few remnants of the Globadiers skulked through the wood, and tried to throw some globes through the windows of the house at Logan’s Rangers, but they missed their mark, and the globes shattered harmlessly on the walls of the building. Skreek shouted a shrill order at the Warp Lightning Cannon to destroy the Gyrocopter, hoping that its absence would allow his unit more freedom of movement, and a reprieve from the steam. The Cannon let loose with lightning, and its aim was true, but the Rune of Grungni grew hot in Kazador’s hand and the great lightning blast was deflected from the Gyrocopter at the last moment. Warlord Skreek was running out of options.
Dwarf Turn 3: Staring down the still sizable rat horde with his badly depleted Longbeards, Prince Kazador decided the time was still not right for him to engage them in a frontal assault. He swiftly marched the remnants of his warriors past the Clanrat’s front to evade any future charge. The Gyrocopter repositioned behind the rat horde, and let loose a third blast of steam, boiling another 10 rats. This time, no amount of Skreek’s calming could pacify the Clanrats, and they fled away from the deadly steam… straight toward Logan’s firing position. Logan, meanwhile, repaid the unsuccessful Globadiers with an accurate volley of crossbow fire, leaving but a single rat, who fled the field.
Skaven Turn 4: Having gained some distance between themselves and the Gyrocopter, Warlord Skreek was able to command his rats into a semblance of order. He decided to face the house, thinking that mere scouts would be unable to keep him out of the best place to hide from the Gyrocopter. In a hurried command, he again ordered the Warp Lightning Cannon to shoot down the Gyrocopter, but as the crew brought their target in sight, a warpstone generator burst, rotating the barrel, and firing harmlessly out of the area.
Dwarf Turn 4: With the main Skaven unit now out of his threat range, Prince Kazador decided to lead his remaining Longbeards against the Warp Lightning Cannon, as it was the last shooting threat on the field. The Gyrocopter pilot zoomed forward, content to continue his harassment of the beleaguered Clanrats. Between his steam cannon blast, and an accurate crossbow volley from Logan, all but six rats and Skreek were killed in the crossfire.
Skaven Turn 5: Seeing little alternative, Warlord Skreek charged his remaining rats at the building… but he was going to discover that Logan’s Rangers were no “mere” scouts. Taking a healthy draught of their stout beer, the Dwarfs felt their already prodigious constitutions toughen as they readied their throwing axes. As the Skaven neared, several of their fellows were cut down with a gromril axe to the chest, leaving a sorry number to reach the building. The Warp Lightning Cannon, in an effort of self-preservation, fired a shot at Kazador’s Longbeards, but the calibration was off, and while the shot was true, it was pitifully weak, and barely singed the beard of the Dwarf it struck. As Warlord Skreek neared the house, he rose up on his war litter, and shrieked a challenge to the Dwarfs within. Thane Logan, thumbing his rune axe, gladly accepted. With his toughness bolstered by his brew, and the promise of settling the grudge of his father, he marched forth to meet the Skaven general. But, the Warlord was quick, and he had one surprise left for his opponent. The rusted, barbed blade he wielded was none other than Dwarfbane, which the Skaven wielded with surprising skill. Despite his exceptional hardiness, Logan received two telling blows, enough to leave him crippled on the ground before he could raise his axe. He tried to stand again, but his fellow Rangers dragged him back inside the house, swearing oaths of vengeance. Then the rest of the combat was joined in full, and while the Clanrats failed to dent the armor of the Dwarfs, the Rangers were true to their oaths and smote every last rat… leaving Skreek alone and exposed outside of the house.
[At this point, my opponent conceded the game]
AFTERMATH: Warlord Skreek turned around on his high vantage just in time to see Prince Kazador and Arik Flamebreather hacking apart his Warp Lightning Cannon. Noting that now was probably the right time to live and fight another day, he abandoned his war litter and scurried away, just as another round of throwing axes cut down his four litter bearers… just what they deserved, he thought. Now there was no one left to report his failure…
As the Dwarfs rejoined at their camp, Prince Kazador and Arik rushed forward to meet the returning Rangers, who were bearing the injured Thane Logan upon his shield. He looked bad, but a few pints of Dwarf ale, and some ministrations from the priestesses of Valaya, and he would be himself again.
“I almost had him, brother, but the abomination was too quick,” choked Logan.
Kazador smiled as he looked down at him, “Pay it no mind, brother. He is sly and cowardly, and difficult to bring to an axeblow. Your plan was brilliant, we slaughtered the lot of his hordes and it will be some time before he can march on us again… Plus, if you and your Rangers can find him before then, we can strike this grudge and avenge our father’s hold. You have earned your pint this day, at the very least!”
At that, beer was distributed around the camp, and Kazador raised his tankard, “For Thane Logan!”
And the warriors all cried back, “FOR THE HOLD!”
I was definitely worried about the Vanguard/Scout concept in such small point games before this battle… now I’m not. I was worried when my Longbeards were essentially standing alone in front of a Skaven battle line that stretched across the board, but the ability to brazenly shove combat units in my opponent’s face gave me the initiative and forced him to react to my moves instead of me reacting to his. This is great, since maneuver Dwarfs don’t “react” very quickly, so keeping the initiative is really important.
I think my opponent made a few mistakes. His deployment was just fine, with the exception of the Doomwheel. I think that putting it in the center was likely his chief mistake of the game, as it dictated so much of his movement after that. Forget that it was zapping his own troops (as Skaven rarely care about that), but the random movement on the first turn meant he was unlikely to hit the Longbeards, which meant it wouldn’t serve to send it straight forward, because I’d just get to counter charge and overrun into the slaves. So, instead, he sent it wide east… which still wasn’t helpful. The resulting chaos just made it easy to capitalize on that. He should have deployed it on a flank, as then he could have advanced his two rat units forward into the Longbeards without the Doomwheel getting in the way. This would have allowed his Warlord a chance to get into combat under favorable terms, plus then, the Doomwheel could have tried to flank the combat, which would have spelt doom for the Longbeards. Without the Longbeards, the Gyrocopter would have no coverage from all the resulting shooting, and the Rangers would have been unable to fight off the rest of the army on their own.
The Bugman’s Rangers did excellently, and considering crossbow fire is the least of their abilities, they certainly made it count. Every volley caused a panic check that resulted in a unit off the board. Killing the Warlock Engineer was important, as it silenced the enemy magic phase, but to have the Slaves run off as well was excellent, as it cleared his eastern flank and left him with only a single combat block, which the Gyrocopter could just run around. Then to shoot and panic both the Jezzails and the Poison Wind Globadiers, they definitely had a huge impact on the game. Even in the last combat with the Clanrats, the increased toughness from the tankard allowed them to laugh off any of the Clanrats’ attacks, and with S4, great weapons, and Hatred, no Skaven stood a chance. Logan (Bugman) also only barely fell to the Warlord, and if he’d had a chance to strike back, I’m pretty confident that the challenge would have gone the other way. That Dwarfbane is a heck of a weapon.
The Gyrocopter was great, too. Constantly harassing the main combat unit, blocking movement and steaming hordes and hordes of rats, bringing them to a manageable size for my combat units. While it never scored any points for me itself, it certainly shaped the battle both by depleting units of their strength, and by attracting all of the enemy shooting (while being tough enough to handle it, to boot).
I feel like the Longbeards got the short end of the stick on this battle, basically being a punching bag for the Skaven as they tried not to get caught in an unfavorable combat. They were certainly tough enough to handle it, though. They did take out the Doomwheel, and the Ratling Gun, even if they paid a high price for it.
If I could take my last two turns, the Longbeards would have charged the Warp Lightning Cannon, which would be more than enough to destroy it, and between S5 throwing axes and the Gyrocopter’s bombs, the Warlord would have been destroyed. Worst case scenario, the Longbeards fail their charge, and the Cannon gets another shot at them… and the Gyrocopter misfires dropping bombs on the Warlord, taking his last wound. Neither would have changed the game much.
1200 to 165, a Massacre to the Dwarfs!
Edited by Balric Fireforged, 23 December 2014 - 11:07 PM.