perjantai 31. maaliskuuta 2017

Ritual in the Damned Forest


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!


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.

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:

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.


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!

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