lauantai 19. syyskuuta 2015

The Battle of the Hollow Hill

Hi there!

It is time for my first battle report in this blog! It was a small-ish game I played against a friend of mine at our local gaming club. His Orruks&Grotts are the archenemies of my Duardin army, and now these ancient rivals met each other once again upon a field of battle. The last few games between us ended up with his hordes invading a fortified outpost belonging to my army, and so this was a chance to avenge the fate of those Duardin who bravely held the outpost against impossible odds!

In this post I'll try using the new word "Duardin" for my Dwarves as I try to get used to it :) For the greenskins, I'll just keep calling them orcs and goblins for the sake of their Warscroll names... I just don't think "Black Orruks" sounds near as intimidating as "Black Orcs". Not yet, at least. It just sounds silly. 
I'll start using the words Orruk and Grott some day in the future, I just need some time :P Enough with that new-vs-old rumbling for now, our story belongs to the World-That-Was, after all!

Thane Gorek Stonehammer stood upon a field of snow and ice. This tundra was soon to become a site for a battle between two centuries-old enemies. He eyed the horizon suspiciously. 
As soon as his forward scouts had reported a greenskin warband roaming ahead and closing in fast, Gorek had drawn his weary patrol into a loose battleline. His warriors were determined but few in number, and Gorek knew the upcoming fight would be hard and costly.
The task given to him by Ungrim Ironhelm, the leader and founder of the Iron Company, had been simple enough; to patrol the areas around the main army's encampment and ensure that no enemy would take the main army unawares as it made preparations for an attack to reclaim the coastal outpost.
He reached to his belt pouch and took out a spyglass. Gorek scanned the horizon again, hoping to catch any indication of an approaching enemy. All he could see was newly-fallen snow and grey, hard-frozen ground. With a deep sigh he put away the device as a bare-chested Slayer walked up to him.
"We're more than ready. You think they've got trolls?" the warrior asked, nodding towards the enemy's supposed direction while drawing his thick finger along the glinting blade of his battleaxe.
"Might be this group is too small to upkeep any. They eat quite a lot, after all, and there's nothing here to eat," Gorek replied as he pulled on his leather gloves.
"Shame," the Slayer blurted out and turned to walk away. 
As Thane Gorek had been leaving the army camp with his patrol of thirty-odd Duardin warriors about a week ago, a group of Slayers had offered to join in. They claimed to have a bad feeling about this trip, so they wanted to come along. Perhaps they'd finally find the glorious deaths they seek ever so enthusiastically. Gorek had had nothing against the thought that his patrol would be enforced by a number of fearless and savage killers so he had approved.

He let his gaze fly over the ordered ranks of his warriors and a formation of Thunderers on the far end of the battleline. The centre he had given to the Slayers, knowing that they longed to be in the middle of the action once the fighting started. Suddenly there was a shout.
"Thane Stonehammer! Enemy sighted!" Runepriest Largs bellowed, signaling towards the hill in front of them with his runic staff. Largs Brokksson was the Runepriest assigned to join this patrol under Gorek's command, to suppress enemy magic should they ever face such trickery upon their trip.

Out in the distance they could see the hated enemy approaching.
"Ready... Lock shields!" Stonehammer barked an order to his warriors. In a matter of seconds, the Duardin formed a solid shieldwall, ready to receive anything that would be thrown against them. The Slayers were hefting their weapons anxiously, eager to get to grips with the foe, while Thunderers reloaded their weapons with dry gunpowder.
"Not a even single troll!" Gorek heard one of the Slayers complain.
"Good", he thought to himself. He was better off without any regenerating nuisances stomping their way across the battlefield.
Now Gorek could see the enemy warband entirely. A speed-oriented one, it seemed, with so many spider and wolf riding goblins, their negligible courage backed up by a unit of towering Black Orcs. There also seemed to be a Pump Wagon rattling its way across the field with a cackling crew of Snotlings hanging on to the makeshift structure of the machine. A huge Orc Warboss and a Savage Orc Shaman goaded their forces towards the Duardin with threats, curses and some strange shamany gibberish.

Without losing any more time, Stonehammer ordered his battleline to advance. The Slayers broke into a run, closing the distance to the enemy fast, their stunted feet carrying them towards the inevitable clash. Warriors advanced in a formation with their shields locked together, while Thunderers took careful steps on the icy ground to keep their aim. Runepriest Largs mumbled some ancient words and stomped the ground twice with his runestaff, and suddenly the running Slayers each had a faint circle of shimmering light around them. Gorek unslung his warhammer from his belt and followed his troops across the pure white patches of snow that dotted the scene.

With a blood-chilling roar the orcs ran to meet their hated enemies, waving their heavy weapons in the air as effortlessly as children would wave wooden sticks. Goblin cavalry followed the orcs' brutal example and spurred their mounts to get within bow's range of the Duardin, crying out "Waaagh!" and other similar greenskin warcries at the top of their high-pitched voices.

The wolf riders unleashed a volley of crudely crafted arrows at the running Slayers, toppling a couple even as the shimmering light spheres deflected many of the missiles. This however did nothing to slow down the orange tide, and soon the Slayers crashed into the roaring mass of Black Orcs with teeth-shattering force.
Duardin warriors weathered a volley of arrows from the Spider Riders before sallying out from their shield wall to attack their shooters. Gorek slowed his pace for one more moment to get a good look on the unfolding events before joining the whirling melee. So far the battle was tied and no side held the upper hand. He saw that the Runepriest had joined the Slayers' charge into the orcs, perhaps to get closer to the greenskin Shaman that was hopping from one leg to the other behind the enemy lines while mumbling some diiga-boo-boo.

The fight between the Spider Riders and Duardin warriors turned out to be a bloody one. The warriors had charged in and used their momentum to cut down a few riders and their disgusting mounts, but it was not enough. The spiders piled upon the Duardin, hammering their shields with their multiple legs while the maniacally laughing goblins eagerly stabbed in every possible direction with their crooked spears. The Dwarven line held, but many warriors succumbed to the venom that the spiders managed to slip into their flesh from gaps in their steel armouring.
Slayers took down a good fifth of their opposition in one swift sweep, their axes striking clouds of sparks and blood from the dark armour and flesh of the monstrous orcs. The Black Orcs in turn got many of their mighty blows dodged or parried by the unarmoured and thus more agile Dwarves, although a few Slayers ended up as red ruins on the ground, their hot blood hissing its way through the pure white snow.

The orc Shaman raised its filthy green hands towards the skies and locked its gaze on the Slayers while chanting in a low voice. As the greenskin gestured downward, a large bolt of green energy descended from the clouds, shaped like a giant foot. It struck down in the midst of the fighting between the Slayers and the Black Orcs, instantly turning several orange mohawks into as many piles of black dust. 
Largs the Runepriest gritted his teeth. His efforts of countering the destructive spell had come too late, as he had been too caught up in the fighting to properly direct his powers to deflecting the enemy spell. All lives lost to that greenskin trick were his to bear until the end of his days...

The horror of dying in violent spasms after getting struck by the malevolent spider venom was too much for the youngest of the Duardin warriors, so a group of five turned tail and ran, shaming themselves and their ancestors. The captain of the Thunderers saw this and decided to intervene the flow of the battle. He ordered his unit to take careful aim and bring down a score of the heavily armoured Black Orcs. 
Alas, the fighting proved to be far too fierce, with Slayers and orcs leaping, spinning and wrestling about while hacking at each other with various tools of war. A few daring shots were made, only to bounce off thick hides and armour plates.

Seeing the desperation of his warriors in the fight against the spiders, Gorek charged in to turn the tide. Swinging his hammer left and right he caved in goblin skulls and cracked open the chitinous carapaces of their mounts. Emboldened by the presence of their commander, the Duardin warriors redoubled their efforts and started to push forward in a shieldwall. Despite their renewed courage and burning hatred for their ancient enemies, the ranks of the warriors got thinner and thinner every passing moment as spiders dragged them down and goblin spears pierced the links of their chainmails.
The Slayers had cut a bloody path through the orcs and were climbing over the mutilated corpses of their much larger enemies to seize their tattered banner when the sky above them darkened. All of a sudden a hail of crooked arrows swept over these orange-haired warriors, turning them into pin-cushions and felling them to the frozen ground to lay dead among friend and foe alike. 

The orc Warboss let out a thundering "WAAAGH!!!" and charged at Gorek Stonehammer like a rolling boulder. Thanks to the forewarning warcry, Gorek heard his rival come and managed to turn around just in time to absorb the first strike of the orc warlord's massive axe into his shield. He then returned the favor by smashing his hammer into the face of the Warboss. Hearing his enemy's ugly green nose break, Gorek smiled and prepared for a duel that would only end when one of them slew the other. Despite already bleeding from several wounds after his involvement in the fight between his Warriors and the Spider Riders, Thane Stonehammer was determined to sell his life as dearly as possible.

In the centre of the field where the Slayers had been granted their glorious deaths, Runepriest Largs Brokksson was facing the remaining two of the towering Black Orcs all alone. With the runes of his weapons glowing brightly, he buried his forgehammer in the middle of a roaring Black Orc's forehead, leaving nothing but a bloody mess where the head had once been. Parrying the swing of the other orc's giant axe with his runestaff, Largs then drove his hammer into his opponent's chest to hear a satisfying sound of breaking ribs. By then the remaining Black Orc had had enough, starting a limping retreat towards the Pump Wagon that was pumping its way up the hill to join the battle.

Once the last warrior in the Duardin shieldwall fell under the onslaught of the eight-legged monstrosities, the Spider Riders rushed in to join the duel between the two generals. Realizing his commander's peril, Largs the Runepriest whispered a prayer to his ancestors and charged in with his glowing weapons.

The second swing from the orc warlord's heavy axe split Gorek's shield in half and bit deep into his left arm even through his gromril bracers. Knowing his time in this world was at an end, Gorek gathered the last ounces of his strength and slammed his hammer spike-first into the orc's shoulder. He could feel the crude orcish armour giving way to Dwarf-forged gromril and left the weapon in place as the giant orc recoiled, dark blood pouring from the wound. Before Gorek could reach for a secondary weapon to keep on fighting, he felt spider fangs drilling on his back and a goblin spear finding a soft spot through the armour in his flank. His fate was sealed. Thane Gorek Stonehammer of Karak Izor was no more.

Largs Brokksson saw that there was nothing he could do and the battle was lost. Lifting his runestaff high up in the air and releasing a bright flash of light to blind any possible pursuers, the Runepriest led the Thunderers off the site of battle, to find the surviving warriors and return to the main army's encampment.

The greenskins, momentarily blinded by both the Runepriest's trick and the amount of loot laid out before them did not give chase, preferring to scavenge the battlefield for Dwarven meat and metal. 
In the desolate frozen tundra a great feast was had, while Thane Stonehammer's severed head found its place upon a spike on Warboss Gorlag Stuntiedoom's trophy rack.

A sound victory for the greenskins this time but I find it suitable to use this old saying: they may have won the battle, but not the war!

I really liked playing with the Slayers, a bit squishy unit but deadly all the same. The Spider Riders are as nasty as ever, I will have to shoot them down the next time I face them on field, that much I've learned by now!

Oh, and Runepriests kick ass. They may only have two "blessings" to choose from but they're easy to cast (roll 2+ on a D6) and quite nice buffs to any unit. In addition to being decent fighters in combat (compared to other factions' casters at least) Runepriests can also unbound enemy spells as if they were wizards!

I hope to be able to fight against this army again next week so we'll see if the story gets yet another sequel.

Until next time!

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