tiistai 25. huhtikuuta 2017

Change Has Come

Greetings!

Change inevitably comes to all things in time, even my beloved dwarven stronghold. While working hard to get some of my Bretonnians fully painted up to show you I found some time to hone my blog's appearance in between my studies and actual work. You may already recognize certain changes even as you're reading this, but let's just compare the current appearance to the old one to highlight the differences.

Here is the previous look of my hobby hideout:


That's from almost a year ago and my blog's been looking like that until very recently. Now with all the fanciness I've added and the "loose parts" I've cut off, this place has a nice and fresh outfit while still maintaining the same overall feel. At least that's what I aimed for.

So what did I actually do?

I edited this site's CSS and HTML quite heavy-handedly to implement stuff that Blogger does not offer by default. Here's a quick list of the changes:

- the top navigation bar got a new custom-skin with jovial buttons!

- the headers of the sidebar widgets were changed to themed icons
- crude battle report and tutorial links were hidden behind a handy drop-down menu
- the spacing of the items in the sidebar was adjusted to make it look more pleasing
- a small dwarf icon now decorates your browser's ExtraBushyBeards-tab
- the widget for following my posts was removed, all you need now is an email notification!

To leave some feedback on the changes I've made you can answer a small poll right at the bottom of the sidebar. Just select the options that reflect your reaction to these renovations and click Vote. The vote is open until the end of the month.

Until next time!



keskiviikko 12. huhtikuuta 2017

Wozoc & Grom

Back again with some Sunsplitterz!

This time around I have the tribe's heroes to introduce to you, a Savage Big Boss and a Wurrgog Prophet!

This dancing voodoo-fellow is Wozoc Squinteye, the Wurrgog Prophet and spiritual leader of the Sunsplitter tribe. It is he from whom the tribe draws its peculiar name, for it is Wozoc's dearest dream to defeat and split the sun that burns him so every day of his brutal life. By destroying the blazing sphere in the sky and absorbing its powers Squinteye believes he will become the living embodiment of Gorkamorka in the Nine Realms, enabling him to hunt gods in the same manner as he now hunts their worshipers.

He has no idea how to bring this great plan about, however, so he merely leads his tribe from region to region and Realm to Realm on a whim. Interestingly (but not surprisingly), his declamatory quest attracts other bonesplitter orruks wherever he travels. Although his tribe is yet a minor one it keeps growing on a daily basis as the grazed and the power-hungry flock to his bony banner in order to witness the destruction of the Aqshy's sun!

Then there is this heap of muscle. Boasting a set of outrageous abs, Big Boss Grom the Punch of the Shifty Mountain is the brawn of the tribe whereas Wozoc is the brains. Originating from a peculiar place called the Shifty Mountain, Grom's life was pretty uneventful before he encountered Wozoc and joined the Sunsplitterz. The great mound of bedrock on the barren slopes of which he lived was a floating thing, dozens of feet above the fiery grounds of the Realm of Fire, constantly sailing the scalding winds from horizon to horizon. With nothing better to do the orruks that crawled out of the fungus-infested caves on the mountain's sides fought among themselves, the biggest and the strongest inhabiting the summit to leave the weak and the dead dwell on the bottom or fall off the floating landmass altogether.

Being the biggest and the strongest of all living things on the Shifty Mountain, Grom and his few chosen burly followers grew bored over the years. There was just no challenge for them in the weedier and weedier orruks that stumbled into the daylight from the mountain's depths. That was before they encountered Wozoc Squinteye.
On a particularly boring and hot dawn Grom was bashing in the heads of half a dozen weaklings when he heard thunderous laughter from below the Shifty Mountain. Straining his head over the edge he caught sight of a Wurrgog Prophet running for his life, chased by a towering Aleguzzler Gargant. Without further thought Grom leaped from the floating landmass to land on the sufficiently tall monster, cleaving off its head in a single blow and landing safely on the soft carcass, earning himself the title "Punch". Because his landing packed a punch.

Impressed by this feat, Prophet Squinteye used the power he absorbed from the slain gargant's bones to bring the Shifty Mountain down from the skies with a mighty ritual of much frantic dancing and yelling. Having thus secured himself a bunch of strong brutes and a famous Big Boss to lead them, Prophet Wozoc Squinteye resumed his quest of splitting the sun.

Here's a group shot of all the Sunsplitterz I have painted thus far:









sunnuntai 9. huhtikuuta 2017

Dawn of the Sunsplitterz

Evening!

After weeks of planning, assembling and painting I have finally finished the first unit of my latest faction: Bonesplitterz Savage Orruks!

Green orruks just seemed too common to me so I went for a more personalized theme. Orange.

These ten Savage Orruks are armed with Weepwood Chompas and Bone Shields, forming the basis for my growing warclan. I have a Savage Big Boss, a Wurrgog Prophet and a unit of Savage Arrowboys still waiting to be painted!

To compliment the warmer choice of colour I went for a deep red on their scaly tunics and such, while keeping the furs and pelts a bit paler. Purple seemed like a nice choice for some variation in the palette, with black and light blue on the weapons to catch the eye as the one cold spot on the model. The rest was just dark wood and dirty bones.

There was plenty of muscle to paint in this merry lot. I started with a basecoat of Bugman's Glow washed over with Reikland Fleshshade, using two thin layers of Jokaero Orange to pick out each muscle cord and hump, leaving only the crevasses darker.

The weapons also received a pretty simple treatment: Abaddon Black highlighted with Dawnstone, and Ceramite White with a very very thin coat of Lothern Blue to make it pop out.

The header says Sunsplitterz. Who are the Sunsplitterz?

Well, I'm glad you asked. They are an aggressive and relatively young Bonesplitter tribe living in Aqshy, the Realm of Fire, hunting down any monsters they encounter to claim the energy of Gorkamorka they believe resides in the bones of any creature of such ferocity and size. Their skin comes in shades of orange instead of green due to their harsh living environment amidst the blood geysers and volcanoes of the land, but otherwise they do not seem to differ from any other Bonesplitter tribe in the Mortal Realms. It is their Wurrgog Prophet and his ambition that drives the tribe onward and earns them the name Sunsplitterz.
Ever since Prophet Wozoc Squinteye burst into the world from his volcanic mushroom, the big burning sphere in the sky has had his undivided attention. Surely such a powerful creature held untold power within it, how else could it float above the world and deliberately burn everyone in sight? With this in mind Wozoc went about his life's quest, gathering like-minded orruks arond him on his great journey to defeat and split the sun, to absorb its powers and to become the living embodiment of Gorkamorka in the Realms!

Here are some more pics on the first of the models from when I was testing out the scheme:


I hope I didn't traumatize you with these non-green orruks but believe me, the hobby is infinitely better with an open mind.





perjantai 31. maaliskuuta 2017

Ritual in the Damned Forest

Greetings!

Now that the narrative for the war is set with the pair of short stories we can finally air the first battle of this vengeful campaign and enjoy the carnage.

We played the battleplan "The Ritual" with greenskin forces on the defensive against a furious duardin assault. The orruks belong to the great Shaman Trazleh, a powerful spellcaster who has committed his whole tribe to Warboss Urgokh's Waaagh!, for which they are now performing a dangerous ritual that will summon an ancient being to wreak havoc throughout the land.

Even as the majority of the duardin legions are still emerging from the region's realmgate, Slayer King Malakai Smensson leads a contingent of his own forces in a head-on charge to stop the ritual with the support Brewmaster Dorinsson's rangers.

An exciting setting should make up for an enjoyable game, let's get to it!

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Twigs broke and leaves shuffled as stunted warriors waded through the undergrowth, following a high, orange mohawk as their sole point of focus in the dark greenery. The bright defiant crest belonged to Malakai Smensson, the Slayer King, a close friend of Ungrim's and a famous warlord who now irritably pushed aside low-hanging branches with his meaty hands. Whenever a thick root would come across his path there was a swift flash of silver in the darkness, the king's runic axe making short work of any and all obstacles.

"By Grimnir, me forefathers' heirloom weapon used as a mere scythe! 'Twas forged in the heart of a mountain to fell ancestral foes, not timber!" Malakai puffed to himself, trying to keep his eyes on the back of the nimble ranger walking effortlessly some way ahead of him.
"How long a trek can this be? 'Tis about time we got to spill some blood already!" he called out to his guide.
The ranger tried to ignore the angry tone of his superior but succeeded only partly, his voice still denouncing an ounce of tremble.
" 'Tis not too far anymore, m'lord. Got orders to approach in quiet so as to keep the advantage of surprise..."
"Bah! Ye wan't to know what I think of yer caution?" the king spat a fat drop of phlegm on the brown leaves covering the ground.
"That. There ain't glory in sinking yer axe to the foe's back, one must fight face to face and die with honour!"
"With all due respect, m'lord, I have no intentions of joining my ancestors this day," the ranger replied, stepping up the pace to keep a healthy distance to the red-cheeked noble.

"We stick to the plan Ungrim prepared. No death-seeking until the quest is brought to an end," came a gruff voice from behind the Slayer King before he managed to lob a barrage of curses at the guide. It was the champion of the hearthguard, Nadri Steelthumb, marching right behind the king with a score of elite warriors. Malakai rolled his eyes.
It was a gesture of respect and genuine worry that Ungrim had ordered a cohort of his own hearthguard to join Malakai on this attack, but the Slayer King knew they were there to watch for his characteristic hotheadedness as much as to protect him.

A shabby collection of huts and sharpened stakes marked the location of a temporary camp that housed the tribe of Shaman Trazleh. Built amidst the ruins of some ancient civilization, the site's highest hill had become an altar to the green gods Gork and Mork.
Around a moss-covered altar of rough stone stood a totem, covered in swirly glowing runes. Shaman Trazleh himself stood before the structure, dancing frantically from foot to foot and filling the air with all kinds of shamanic gibberish. His underlings all across the site did their best to ignore him, minding their own business by eating, fighting or bullying to pass their time.

Trazleh did not care. They were idiots with no capability of understanding the energies of Gork and Mork, let alone the harnessing of such power to one's own ends. Raising his gnarled hands up towards the sky, the Shaman could feel the energetic burn within his muscled chest. The power of the Waaagh! ran strong here.
Crying out another torrent of unintelligible syllables Trazleh smashed his staff into the side of the totem, causing a gathering of dark clouds above the site. The totem began to glow green and the Shaman could see it absorbing the forest's rampant energies, streams of power flowing into the stone to increase its mesmerizing glow. If the totem could retain the amount of power he needed, this region's civilization would be drowned in blood in a matter of weeks.

From the edge of the forest Slayer King Malakai pushed out into the open right behind his guide. As the rest of the army emerged in vague ranks behind their liege they could see the glowing stone on the hill, just across the open plain.
"This is what we've come for! Lay low the beast and brute, cast down their idols and put their huts to the torch! Slaughter them in the name of Ungrim Ironhelm!" the Slayer King bellowed at the top of his voice as the duardin broke into a jog, starting to close the distance to the ritual site.

As the warriors of the mountains advanced in a neat battleline to encircle and engulf the enemy camp, some of the younger duardin lost their calm and surged forth with vigour granted to them by their youth.
"Bugger those beardling wazzocks! I should've known they can't hold the line for one bloody moment!" Malakai cursed as an entire section of the battleline bent forward, running headlong into a group of orruks that had been betting on a wrestling duel between their fellows.

The youthful warriors jumped into the enemy mob, axes and hammers swinging in the air to spill hot blood and bring orruks crashing down on the rapidly staining grass. Retaliatory blows from crude choppas claimed a couple of the overreaching beardlings but the ferocity of their sudden charge tipped the scales in their favor and many orruks turned their backs and ran away from the slaughter.

Their luck wouldn't hold forever, though. Two gigantic Big Stabbas ran into them from behind the ruins, plowing into the beardlings like a farmer's wedge into soft soil. Duardin fell like wheat as the beaten orruks started regaining their senses and cut down the entire cohort of warriors in short order with the aid of the Big Stabbas.

With the first blows of the battle already exchanged, Shaman Trazleh's gaze bounced between the totem and the masses of duardin assaulting his lair. The ritual was not ready yet, he had to buy more time.
"Aaight, gits! Move ya butts t'da stunties an' smash 'em! Gork and Mork's work won't be disteerbd!" he screamed, causing his entire tribe to rush towards the attackers.
Now all he could do was upkeep the ritual and hope his followers proved useful even this once in their pitiful lives.

Arrows arced across the vault of the sky, striking down Slayers on the run while the last of the beardlings got ripped apart in brutal melee. The battle of the Damned Forest had begun.

Nadri Steelthumb gasped at the sight of younglings getting slaughtered. Feeling ancestral wrath boiling up inside him, he lifted his hammer into the air.
"At them lads! Avenge the beardlings and crush their lines!"
The hearthguard ran into the fight, hopping over beardling corpses as they went. They sank into the lines of the orruks heavy hammers spinning, reducing the remaining orruks and both Big Stabbas into a sea of bloody pulp and mangled carcasses, the momentum of their charge carrying them deep into the enemy lines. Behind them a unit of warriors followed up, taking a position left of the hearthguard to protect their flank as they went about their gory work.

On the right flank Malakai Smensson led his warriors forward, with the exception of half his Slayers which got befuddled by the mysterious patch of forest beside them. A gust of wind carried a thick cloud of yellow dust over the half-naked warriors, causing them to stand still with a frozen gaze, totally oblivious to the surrounding events.

More arrows preceded the counter-attack of the greenskins, many Slayers falling pin-cushioned to the ground before the orruks' charge even hit home. Boarboys crashed into the warriors on the left flank, their mounts goring stunties even as many of their own were dragged down and chopped by furious axe-strokes.

A stream of Spider Riders crawled over the hearthguard in the middle, supported by Trazleh's sorceries. Sensing the fighting took place too close to himself for comfort, the Shaman spoke the words of power to release a beam of green energy from his eyes, scorching several of the duardin elites to mere piles of blackened armour. The grots riding the giant arachnids did little with their spears and poor aim but the spiders themselves claimed many a duardin life, stinging their fangs through gaps in plate and mail to saturate patches of flesh with deadly venom that caused warriors to spasm violently on the ground before departing this world. The hearthguard put up a fierce fight even against overwhelming numbers, flattening chitinous bodies and splattering grots with every swing of their gromril hammers. Despite mounting casualties on both sides the fighting drew on as the survivors refused to give ground.

On the right flank a wave of orruks hit the advancing warriors and Slayers, resulting in a whirlwind of blood and body parts. Axes and hammers felled green brutes while cruder weapons stroke out in return, severing arms and cleaving bearded faces. Slayers clambered over slain orruks to seek for more carnage, proceeding to deal out fatal blows even after being mortally wounded themselves. As the number of Slayers achieving their goal of a glorious death began to increase the warriors redoubled their efforts, striking down the enemies that were gladly granting those deaths. By the time a lull in the fighting descended upon the flank there were no Slayers or orruks left standing, only a group of battered warriors quickly scanning the mounds of corpses for friends and kinsmen.

The befuddled Slayers got attacked by a ferocious mob of Savage Morboys who chopped down the frozen duardin with glee, savouring each far too easy kill. Some Slayers woke from their trance at taking fatal blows, managing to lash out with the last of their strength before dropping dead.
Enraged by his subordinates being targets for such unfair violence the Slayer King himself joined the fray, promptly forgetting about stopping the Shaman's ritual at all costs. Malakai buried his axe between the shoulder plates of a screaming orruk, cutting the cry short as he decapitated another with the return swing. The third Morboy managed to notice the vengeful king just before its own demise, receiving a generous cleave from forehead to belly in one mighty chop.

The carnage he wrought caught the attention of every bow-armed greenskin on the field and soon a cloud of missiles was arcing towards him. Malakai only noticed the shafts after one embedded itself on his thigh, which caused him to turn around and curse at the deadly downpour.
"Cowards! Shove 'em sticks up yer greenie arses an' fight me like t'brutal warriors ye claim t'be!" the king bellowed as the swung his axe at the arrows on flight, managing to strike a few from their trajectories while the rest bounced off his cloak of dragon scales or missed his short angry form altogether.
"Darken the skies as ye might, it does ye no good! I fight better in t'shade!"

At many places across the corpse-strewn plain fighting seemed to fade away, the initial hatred and energy of both forces starting to burn away as casualty rates climbed high. The last of the hearthguard got overrun by scuttling arachnids, their heavily armoured bodies now growing cold beside those of the beardlings they had charged in to avenge.
Malakai Smensson detached himself from the Morboys cutting down the last of his Slayers, forcing his enraged mind back to the task at hand. The totem on the hill was now glowing brighter than ever, clearly nearing the maximum capacity of retained power. He started running towards the hill, hoping to reach it in time.

Shaman Trazleh let his eyes sweep across the field of death. Except for a few bolts of green doom he had unleashed at the frighteningly deadly hearthguard he had taken little part in the battle, saving his powers for upkeeping the energy flows vital to the ritual. He needed only a few moments more and the summoning could be done, bringing a beast of absolute power into this realm.

Aahoooooooo!
A hunting horn sounded nearby, from behind the ritual hill. Brewmaster Burlok Dorinsson had arrived with his rangers!
"Right, see that maniac jumping atop t'hill? Fill 'im with quarrels, lads!" Dorinsson ordered and took a final sip from his tankard before hanging it from the hook in his belt. His rangers raised their crossbows and obeyed.

As one, the rangers let fly, filling the air with dozens of short bolts that swept up the hill like angry mountain wind. The first four quarrels thudding into his lower back made Trazleh turn to face his assailants, only to receive the rest of the volley to his chest and belly. Staggering from the volume of barbed iron tips in his body the Shaman turned back around to see his beloved totem one last time, falling face-first onto its rough surface. With the last ounces of his willpower Trazleh outstretched his hand towards the glowing swirls, leaving a bloody print of his palm in the middle of it as his strength finally failed and his body sagged against the totem.

Malakai and his largely unscathed duardin warriors swept in from three directions, hacking down Savage Arrowboys and Spider Riders even as the rangers rained bolts into the enemy masses from behind. Soon only a handful of the enemy remained, completely surrounded.

With his rangers taking point-blank shots at the foes on the advance, Brewmaster Dorinsson climbed the hill to reach the glowing totem. He gained the summit just in time t witness Savage Big Boss Bonetoe charging at the Slayer King while bellowing a far too familiar warcry of:
"Waaaaaagh!"

Malakai ran to meet the foe and soon their weapons clashed, both raining down blows upon the adversary with dazzling speed. A low swing from Bonetoe's painted choppa got deflected by Smensson's runic axe, while the return blow from the duardin's weapon was deftly dodged by the brute. An overhead blow from the choppa met mountain-forged gromril in the mid-air, showering sparks and locking the weapons together in a contest of attrition.

The clash of arms between the still standing forces was soon drowned out by a booming pulse from the totem. The bloody hand print of the slain Shaman seemed to soak into the solid face of the stone, feeding the green glow until the totem discharged a shockwave of energy that swept across the field in all directions and vanished into the surrounding woods, leaves sighing loudly in their branches as the wave moved through them. The fighting ceased, followed by a brief silence as friend and foe alike stood amazed, listening. Was that the rumble of an incoming storm in the distance?

The sound grew stronger, more clear and recognizable this time. It was the gigantic roar of an ancient being. The ground shook and trees could be heard falling just behind the edge of the clearing.

Suddenly the treeline burst to splinters as a towering monster stormed into the battlefield, roaring deafeningly at the dark skies above. The embattled forces stood horror-struck, staring at the being as it started towards fresh meat. It came crashing through the greenskin camp, shattering the huts and stakes like they weren't even there.

Big Boss Bonetoe turned away from Malakai who begun issuing orders for his warriors to withdraw. Walking in awe towards the monstrosity, Bonetoe dropped his choppa somewhere along the way. All the could see was the behemoth that casually swoop aside orruk and duardin alike as it rampaged through the field.
"Trazleh? Trazleh! I's happy to see ya again, infuusd wiv da power of da Waaagh!" the Big Boss called out, drawing the attention of the beast and getting pulverized under a horse-sized for his trouble.

"Retreat! Fall back!" Malakai urged the remnants of his army as they stumbled back they way they'd come. As they reached the treeline the Slayer King paused, turning to assure his warriors made it away safely. Many had managed to escape, but not all. The monster could be seen chasing down orruks and duardin indiscriminately as they tried to get away from the primordial beast, crushed under heavy feet or picked up and gulped down into the gaping maw. As the last of his surviving warriors ran past him into the safety of the forest, Malakai could see the monster turning its gaze straight at him. Slowly the being started stomping towards the fleeing duardin.

"Had I not the lives of these dawi upon me shoulders I'd see ye dead meself..." the Slayer King muttered before jogging after his battered army.

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Quite the game! Even though the scenario victory went to the greenskins I managed to slay the shaman and crush their army, so one could say both factions gained something from this confrontation.

The ritual was completed and a massive beast was summoned to rampage across the land, meaning that the rearguard of my campaigning duardin legions will get decimated over the weeks following this battle, disrupting my supply lines until such time that the monster is slain. Damn!
On the other hand Malakai and Dorinsson managed to slay the shaman and shatter his tribe, meaning that Trazleh won't be there in the final battle of this campaign. The Waaagh! of Urgokh da Choppa is one tribe poorer, but it's like removing a bucket of water from a lake. We'll see how things go in the next battle of this narrative!

It was bad luck that half my Slayers rolled a 1 next to the Mystical Forest and stood befuddled until they were all dead. My opponent even got a handy double-turn just at that unfortunate moment, meaning that 20 duardin died without much of a fight. Otherwise I'm pretty happy with how my forces performed, especially the premature charge of the beardlings was exciting to watch... They did some serious damage wiping out over a half of the orruk mob but got themselves transfixed upon Big Stabbas for it.
The Spider Riders were nasty as ever, halting the promising advance of my Hammerers as they punched a hole in the enemy lines with their avenging charge. Luckily they got hammered in the process. Heh.

Speaking of Hammerers, I name them my unit of the match. A unit worth 400 points wiped out a grand total of nearly 800 points from the enemy, meaning they gave me a 2-for-1 exchange even though they did get killed to a man duardin in the process.
My opponent appointed his Spider Riders as his unit of the match for, well, stopping the onslaught of my unit of the match. A respectable feat in itself!

We'll see how soon we get the next battle of the campaign in. Luckily I can always paint while waiting!





keskiviikko 29. maaliskuuta 2017

The Iron Grudge

The dusk-bathed plateau was filled with rumble equal to a raging thunderstorm. But the skies were clear. Sun was giving out its last rays while slowly descending behind the horizon. The earth shook to the steady march of countless mail-clad boots and flocks of birds took flight as the constant clatter of heavy armour assaulted their senses. The mountainfolk were on the warpath.

From the unyielding mountains flowed dozens of silver trickles, coalescing into a massive torrent at the foot of the mountain range and flowing out into the plateau. This river was not of molten metal, as this was not the Realm of Chamon, but a duardin throng marching to meet an ancient foe. Thousands of these grim warriors marched in perfect unison, clad in the armour of their ancestors and carrying runic weapons gifted upon them by their forefathers. Among the serried ranks of bearded soldiery the machines of war rumbled on: catapults, cannons, throwers of bolt and flame and even steam-powered juggernauts, all this towered over by gigantic statues roused to life.

Although known for their stubbornness and caution, the duardin race can become an aggressive force when roused to wrath. This is a trait they share with the mountains they dwell in; a mountainside is still and tranquil, quietly weathering the trials of time, but when it comes crashing down in a landslide it is as unstoppable as it is merciless, crushing all that stand between it and its destination with uncaring even-handedness and brutal force.

Woe betide the foe to whom such an army is marching in its full panoply of war!

Above the seething masses of armoured warriors a lonely figure stood atop a cliff, one with the rock he had planted his feet on, as unmoving and just as cold. His gaze swept across the metal river, catching banners and coats of arms to see who had answered his call to arms. From the trickles on the mountains to the torrent on the plateau, his eyes followed the grim column until finally locking to the realmgate right beneath his vantage point.

Surrounded by towering statues of ancestors and decorated with his hold's insignia, the Grudgeforge Realmgate was an imposing sight even to its lord and keeper. A conclave of Runesmiths bustled around the structure, toiling day-and-night to activate it again. Sonorous chanting and deft strikes of hammer on metal rang from the site, nearly drowned by the constantly approaching peal of marching feet. Soon everything was in place.

"Tromm, my liege. A heart-warming sight, isn't it?" came a gruff voice further back from the cliff. Having already recognized the entrant, Lord Commander Ungrim Ironhelm replied without turning his gaze from the gate.
"Aye, a full throng on the march. 'Tis a welcome sight indeed, albeit a sad one. Many will perish, Morgrim. Many won't return to their holds by the end of this. Bloodlines will be extinguished."
"That much is certain, m'lord, but this is the way of the dawi," Lord Morgrim Stoutback assured.
"We exact vengeance upon our enemies and strike out grudges from the Dammaz Kron, no matter the cost in lives. The ones that meet their deaths will be honoured by their clans and will know that their sacrifice did not go in vain. They go to the halls of our ancestors to enjoy a feast unlike any they've ever attended before."

There was a clang of metal and creaks of leather as Morgrim planted his axe on the cliff and leaned on it, his runic helmet held in the crook of his muscled arm. For a moment the two duardin stood in silence, awed by the vista opening before them.

"You're an admirably traditional fellow, Stoutback. I agree on what you said, but that is exactly what saddens me. We dawi face many perils and disasters caused by our own set of mind, many wars and many deaths," Ungrim explained, thoughtfully running his stunted fingers along the golden knotwork along the edges of his shield.
"We are too set in our ways, and that will often be our undoing."
"We could not call ourselves the folk of the mountains if we acted otherwise. I relish the thought of leading my warriors to battle, spilling the foul blood of the greenskins and reclaiming our honour. They'll recite sagas of this campaign, of our achievements and the fall of our ancestral foes," his companion declared zealously, making Ungrim shake his head to himself.

Lord Morgrim was a renowned general and an excellent tactician, easily among the most trusted of Ironhelm's lieutenants, but his utter devotion to the old ways was something Ungrim often found irritating. As the Lord Commander of the Iron Company and King of the Ironhold he was tasked with the well-being of his people, a position that often required a certain open-mindedness rarely represented in the members of his race.

"What is the state of our preparations? How many battalions have answered the call?" Lord Ironhelm asked to change the subject.
"The devotion of the clans to this war is evident, we have foundry-fresh cannons from the Bronzebeards and they've even managed to repair the Indomitable. Slayer King Malakai also kept his word, just look at those Slayer hordes he's managed to gather under his banner," Morgrim listed as his liege fell silent, seeming to fade into his thoughts once more.
"Dorinsson's rangers emerged from the wilds this morn, dozens of patrols to provide us with information and forage. We currently have no contingents outside the Ironhold region except for a minimal garrison at each of our outposts and holdfasts. Even clans and brotherhoods with severe losses have gathered their last longbeards and hearthguard to be a part of this march, which brings us to the grievances..."

Ungrim pressed his eyes shut.
"Cough it out, wazzock."
"Among the ranks of our warriors there are hundreds of vengeful beardlings, come to avenge their kin. They are brave and eager, but untested in battle as they're barely even one and a half centuries in age. Their beards are not even below their bellies, Ungrim!" Stoutback exclaimed.
"Who are we to deny their grief and the right to avenge their fathers and brothers? I see the flaw in allowing them to join us but I have not the heart to make them stay grief-stricken in their holds. Anger is a sweet thing when it burns away one's miseries, yet it has a tendency to provide new ones. This is a matter the beardlings won't learn any other way. That's how it's been and that's how it'll be tomorrow. You're the ufdi with an obsession to traditions, not me," he said, turning his head to grin at the other duardin.
"Deploy them next to the longbeards in our battleline and they'll do just fine."

Morgrim nodded, grim despite the friendly joke directed at him by his liege.
"There's the other matter, too. Our supply train is almost the size of our throng, the supply lines will be spread long and wide to provide an excellent target to every passing warband and marauder as we wage our war through the Realm."
"There you have the answer to your previous point, my sour companion. Have the majority of beardlings guard the baggage trains along with a few trusty elders, but make sure that the force we leave to guard the realmgate on the other side is made up of hardened veterans. Wouldn't want to return victorious only to realize we're cut-off from hearth and hold!" Ungrim quipped, lifting his runic hammer to rest against his shoulder and pointing down to the toiling Runesmiths.
"Now turn your thoughts to the miracle we're about to witness and give a silent thanks to your ancestors that we have such a device at our disposal."

Down on the plateau Runelord Agrin Fireheart smote his Anvil of Doom with vigour he hadn't known he possessed. The Grudgeforge Realmgate seemed to hum with powers that magnified the magical properties of his runes as the struck them again and again in complicated patterns while reciting words in ancient Khazalid. One miss of swing or an incorrect syllable could ruin the energies he'd coalesced into his anvil over course of several days, yet he did not feel exhaustion or tiredness as he went about his work.

All around him other Runesmiths recited their own words of power, helping Agrin to keep the magical powers bound to his will. They had been changed in rotations, new smiths taking the place of those who stepped back for a night's repose, such was the toll enacted upon them by merely supporting Fireheart's work. His two Anvil Guards had not allowed themselves to be rotated but had instead stood watch ever since the process begun. Now the warrior masses before him rattled and stomped, making a tumult great enough to disturb even his excellent focus. It didn't matter, however, as the work was nearing its completion.

One final ragged cry went up from his dry lips as the slammed his hammer into the middle of his anvil with all his remaining strength.
"...gorl grimaz!"
There was a loud boom and a flash of light as the runes on the anvil sprang to life, glowing blindingly bright and sending out a shockwave that pushed the front ranks of the throng a few steps back. Electricity ran aggressively across the anvil surface before jumping into the carved stone pillars of the realmgate, releasing all the now-unbound power into the structure in one great gush. The enormous runes on the surface of the realmgate begun turning various hues of blue with a hint of a glow.

"Come on, ya ol' bugger... ya'll have t'work!" Runelord Agrin Fireheart muttered to himself as he stepped back from the stones, his barrel chest heaving visibly from extreme exhaustion that now suddenly stole upon him. The anvil kept feeding power into the realmgate and the crackle and hum of lightning intensified, strengthening the glow of the gate's runes.
"Come on... come on..."
Then the electricity from the anvil faded, with only a few stray lightnings crackling around the now-dimming runes on the anvil's sides. Agrin turned his eyes into the pillars of the gate, grinding his teeth.

Then the markings on the stone rapidly spread, revealing strange carvings all across the ancient structure. There was a ripping sound as the power of the realmgate tore a cleft into the face of reality and a transparent surface of blue flames spread across the span of the pillars, like a door being opened for a welcomed quest.

The Grudgeforge Realmgate had been reactivated.

Agrin Fireheart felt his mind swim, the edges of his vision blurring into a black mess. His forgehammer dropped to the dusk-bathed grass from numb fingers as his eyes rolled up and he fell into the sturdy arms of his fellow Runesmiths behind him. A mighty cheer went up from the thousands upon thousands of gathered warriors, an invisible wall of sound that washed over the Lords and Thanes as they beckoned their legions into the flame-swirling embrace of the gate that would take them to their destiny, to war.

The decision had been made, the call to arms sounded and the throng gathered. That day they marched for war, for vengeance and for glory. They were the dawi, dwellers of the mountains and one with the bedrock upon which the entirety of the world was resting. There was no stopping them now, not until they had reached their goal: the utter destruction of the greenskins of Waaagh! Urgokh.




sunnuntai 19. maaliskuuta 2017

Invasion of Fellhorn Steppes

Greetings!

It's been a while since I last continued the narratives of my many armies. I've been mostly painting in the last few weeks, but now I finally managed to schedule and play a game that will become my 18th Narrative Battle Report.

This game was rather exceptional in two ways: I got to play against a faction I've never faced before on the battlefield, The Legion of Azgorh, and I tested the Disciples of Tzeentch Battletome with my Slaves to Darkness for the first time!

The battleplan we played was Banquet of Magic from the Disciples of Tzeentch Battletome in which the servants of Tzeentch must unbind Protective Wards set up by the opposing force. There are 6 Protective Wards on the battlefield which the Disciples of Tzeentch can unbind by having at least one friendly unit and no enemy units within 3". The battle lasts for five battlerounds with the following victory conditions:

1-3 Wards unbound: Legion of Azgorh victory
4 Wards unbound: draw
5-6 Wards unbound: Disciples of Tzeentch victory

As the Protective Wards are unbound the Tzeentchian army receives cumulative bonuses ranging from +1 to casting rolls to re-rolling 1's when hitting.

Simple. Let us begin...

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Daemonsmith Carazad the Dreaded carved the last few lines of the dark rune into the stone column with his pyrestaff, leaving a complex mark on the rough surface that begun to glow bright red. All around him similar runes carved into six different statues and pillars begun to glow brightly, filling the air with energies that sent a tingly sensation wash over his skin.

His warriors around him shifted uncomfortably, sensing the magical energies rampaging across the landscape but having no proper means to understand what was going on. Carazad preferred it that way. He had marched into this desolate steppe to erect powerful wards of protective magic in order to halt the advance of some barbaric followers of the Dark Gods that were seeking to reach the hidden ziggurat he hailed from. None could be allowed to reach that location lest the dark works of his Daemonsmith coven be discovered.

"The wards are in place, our work here is done..." the Daemonsmith barked, turning to leave the site. Before taking more than a few steps, however, Carazad the Dreaded came to a sudden halt. He closed his eyes for a moment, seeking for the breeze of magical disturbance that now assaulted his sorcerer senses.
"A daemon..." he whispered to himself before turning back to face his warriors.
"I sense the presence of a daemon, there are foes nearby. Prepare the artillery! Infernal Guard, form a line! And you... go and see if you can already spot the enemy."

A trio of Bull Centaurs to whom the last order was directed started towards the outer wards. Carazad cursed silently into his black curly beard even as his underlings took their positions with drilled efficiency. The wards were still too fresh to deny passage of a powerful daemon. The magics he had employed here required some time to build momentum and protect this passage to the ziggurat from trespassers. There was no other choice but to stand and fight, to preserve the wards until they reached the full extent of their power and scorched the invaders from this world.

Just as the Bull Centaurs reached the outer wards, an army of howling barbarians appeared as if from nowhere and a unit of Chaos Knights thundered into the trio of creatures. Having now dropped the spell of illusion, Daemon Prince Aphophas Silvertongue chuckled as he strode towards the closest obsidian statue and the red runes engraved upon its surface.

"Interesting..." he muttered thoughtfully, extending his clawed hand but retracting immediately as the closest rune emitted a pulse of searing energy.
"I have to say I'm surprised they sensed us coming despite the powerful illusion, there must be a rather skilled sorcerer amidst their ranks... Tear down these wards before they deny us passage! I want the soul of that poor mortal who seeks to keep me from my destiny!"

With the angered roars of their daemon overlord ringing in their ears, the Marauder Horsemen galloped to the statue and started striking viciously at the glowing runes with their axes. On the right flank the Chaos Warriors set about the same task, their maces and hammers striking dark carvings from the nearby column.

The Knights crashed into the Bull Centaurs like an avalanche of metal, cutting down and trampling the creatures while only taking glancing hits in return. Behind them Magister Azurass was reciting incantations of power, gathering the rampant magical energies for his spells.

Seeing the enemy suddenly so close and the forward elements of his force already embattled, Carazad gazed murderously at the Dreadquake Mortar crew who were slowly goading their slave ogor in pumping steam for the weapon's first shot. Angered by their incompetence, the Daemonsmith unslung a whip from the hook on his belt and slashed it across the ogor's scarred back to hurry the process. 

The enslaved creature roared in pain and punched its mighty fists into the warmachine, denting the barrel and dismantling a wheel. Carazad rolled his eyes in despair.
"Hashut's horns, this'll be a long day..."

With the Bull Centaur swept aside as bleeding carcasses, the Chaos warband surged forth. Three of the wards were unbound as keen axes and heavy mauls erased runic carvings, releasing the violent energies held inside in crimson explosions that toppled half the obsidian statues.

Trotting behind the barbarian hordes came Prince Aphophas and Magister Azurass, weaving protective enchantments upon their followers to keep them useful a while longer. The Marauder Horsemen on the left flank galloped as far as the small patch of forest ahead of the enemy lines and lobbed a volley of javelins into the Infernal Guard, piercing one unfortunate Azgorhian's armour to sink into the dark flesh beneath.

The Legion of Azgorh was not so easily outdone, however. Rank upon rank of Infernal Guard lowered their deadly fireglaives and took aim before unleashing a storm of hell-forged ammunition at the foe in a cacophony of magically enhanced pyre-lock weaponry. The Tzeentchian cavalry took the brunt of this fusillade as Knights and Marauder Horsemen fell to the frozen ground in a mangle of armour and limbs, the hungry pyre-spirits bound within the infernal enemy ammunition eating away at their still-warm flesh.

The Dreadquake Mortar was finally ready for its first shot which soon arced through the vault of the sky to land amidst the Chaos Warriors for morbid effect. More than half the hardened veteran warriors disappeared in a gory mist as the shell exploded, raining shrapnel, smoke and body parts in all directions. Even the Marauders did not escape the attentions of Azgorhian artillery as the Magma Cannon spewed molten metal and other unhealthy substances into the mass of bare-chested bodies, reducing a handful of tribesmen into bubbling puddles of blackened remains.

Watching his followers die in droves, Prince Aphophas decided it was time to intervene. Having torn down half the foe's wards he could feel the magical energies flowing stronger once again. Stretching out his muscled arms, the Daemon Prince uttered a mighty incantation that made the very air around him ripple like a water surface. Tongues of multicoloured flame begun dancing around his wrist as he pointed it towards the lines of the Infernal Guard, unleashing a blazing maelstrom of iridescent fire at the plate-clad legionnaires.

The high-quality blackshard armour of the Azgorhians did little to protect them from the raging inferno and more than third of their number baked inside their fine suits of plate and mail. Beards burned to crisp, skin blackened and burst, eyes melted and evaporated.

While the ranks of their enemies were still in total confusion the barbarian hordes charged into them like a tidal wave. On the left flank the Marauder Horsemen ran down those who survived the cataclysmic spell while on the right Knights and Marauders engaged the remaining Infernal Guard.

Right behind the enemy lines the last three wards shone and pulsed, all the while gathering power to complete Carazad the Daemonsmith's spell to fend away the invaders. Could the spell be completed in time?

As the last Infernal Guard on the flank fell in defence of the Dreadquake Mortar, the warmachine's crew fired once more. This time the shell arced only slightly, hitting Prince Aphophas almost point-blank and ripping apart one of his wings while raining shrapnel across his side. Bellowing out in pain, Aphophas begun limping away from the thickest fighting to preserve his material form.

Meanwhile the last cohort of Infernal Guard put up a stiff resistance. Using their bladed fireglaives like halberds, the legionnaires cut and thrust their way through the barbarian masses felling Knights and Marauders despite their comrades getting slaughtered around them in return. Even the Magma Cannon fired into the whirling melee without any concern for the safety of their brothers-in-arms and turned yet more barbarians into melting heaps upon the snowy ground.

Carazad the Dreaded hefted his pyrestaff and charged into the Marauders, flinging a vial of the Blood of Hashut at an oncoming tribesman on the go. The vicious substance liquefied the man's face as the Daemonsmith kicked him aside before smashing his smoldering staff into the chest of another to send the brute sprawling on the ground.

 The ranks of the Azgorhians were in disorder, making it easy for the Tzeentchian cavalry to push through and into the wards beyond. The bitter fighting between Marauders, Chaos Warriors and the remaining legionnaires was swiftly turning against Carazad's force as Infernal Guards fell under the pressure of axe and mace.

The Daemonsmith himself was surrounded by bare-chested tribesmen who battered him fervently from all sides, finally drawing him down to the ground and beating his wicked life out of him. Carazad the Dreaded of the Fellhorn Ziggurat had fallen.

Darksteel swords and barbarian axes raked across the obsidian surface of the statues, disturbing the dark runes and causing crimson explosions of baleful energy that toppled the last wards. Prince Aphophas could sense the enemy spell dissolving in the brisk steppe wind, opening way to the hidden location these foolish, twisted duardin were trying to keep away from his grasp. His destiny was not to be denied.

As the remnants of the Azgorhians retreated from the battlefield with his barbarian followers hot on their heels, the Daemon Prince turned his thoughts towards the next step in his malevolent scheme.

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What a game! I have to say the battleplan was absolutely delightful, it was something different than most with the defenders holding all the cards (and most of the battlefield) while the attackers only arrive on their first movement phase, losing the hero phase altogether, to try and wrestle the objectives to themselves for some bonuses to carry them through the battle.

The game ended on the fourth battleround with the Disciples of Tzeentch having unbound 5 out of 6 of the Protective Wards, resulting in a major victory.

The Legion of Azgorh is a very peculiar faction to play against. Their Daemonsmith did little in this particular battle but seems to be a passable wizard, while the Bull Centaurs got pretty much trampled by my Knights. What surprised me was the power of the Infernal Guard, the faction's battleline unit, who have a pretty basic 16"/4+/4+/-1/1 profile but shoot twice against monsters when over 10 models strong and inflict double damage on 6's when wounding. For a missile unit they're pretty durable too, sporting a 4+ Save with rerolling 1's against enemy shooting. Their artillery has some great potential but as they're also quite unreliable I'd say they're pretty even with the artillery of Ironweld Arsenal and Dispossessed Duardin.

All in all a wonderful game against a merry opponent, looking forward to facing these twisted stunties again in the future!