lauantai 29. heinäkuuta 2017

Heroes For Beardlings


This third part of the tutorial has been coming for over a month now, but I finally managed it. As opposed to the two previous parts of this series, one of which explained the basics of the game while the other took a closer look at units, this tutorial will not be a blow-by-blow record of every single dice roll in the game. To keep it nice and short, this tutorial will focus on what is says on the title: Heroes and the hero phase. Every army needs a General to lead it, and heroes are excellent candidates for such a grand title as they bring extraordinary skills and tricks onto the battlefield!

In this battle forces led by an aelf Archmage face the warband of a Lord of Chaos, so a brief introduction for these heroes and their warscrolls is in place.

 This is an Archmage, a hero armed with his Seerstaff and not much else. His Saves are low, his Wounds are average and his weapon is pathetic. But he is a wizard, meaning that he can cast powerful spells and attempt to counter enemy spells to affect the flow of battle! Every wizard's Warscroll has a Magic-section that tells you how many spells the model may attempt during his own turn, and how many enemy spells the model may try to unbind in the enemy turn. It also lists all the spells available to the model.

Every wizard in the game knows at least two spells: the Arcane Bolt and the Mystic Shield, profiles of which you can find in the Age of Sigmar core rules. Many wizards also know additional spells that are usually written on their Warscroll for easy reference, such as the Elemental Shield in case of the Archmage.

This sinister character here is a Lord of Chaos. A complete opposite of the wizard, this hero is an absolute beast in combat. His plentiful Wounds and good Save keep him alive on the front lines while he carves a bloody path through the enemy ranks with his Daemon-possessed Reaperblade and Chaos Sword. Once per battle he may also perform a special attack that reduces his Attacks but inflicts tremendous Damage!

As you can see, he also has a special section on his Warscroll called Command Ability. Command Abilities are powerful special rules and effects that the army's General may use in the hero phase, and most heroes have one on their Warscroll. Whoever your General might be and whether they have abilities on their profile or not, the General knows the Inspiring Presence Command Ability in addition to any other ones he might have. As well as the common spells, this ability can be found in the Age of Sigmar core rules.

Now that the heroes have been given a basic introduction, let us personalize them a bit! The General's Handbook lists all kinds of different Command Traits and Artefacts for each of the four Grand Alliances, allowing you to customize your General in terms of magical items and different styles of leadership. You may pick one Trait and one Artefact from your Grand Alliance's lists as you like or to generate them randomly.

The Archmage cannot hold his own in personal combat so it would make sense for him to be a Strategic Genious, leading his forces from the back while being protected by a magical Phoenix Stone to keep him healthy.

In addition he has access to the Order Grand Alliance Battle Trait, which is an additional passive bonus allowing order units within 12" of him to re-roll Battleshock tests.

The Lord of Chaos is nothing short of a maniac butcher, causing fear in any enemies who have to fight within his Terrifying Presence. The chaos gods embrace such emotionless murderers as their greatest champions, bestowing upon them a Favour of the Gods such as a mutation that makes them more durable in battle.

The Chaos Grand Alliance Battle Trait allows a dice to be rolled for each chaos unit within 8" of the hero in the hero phase, conferring a +1 To Hit bonus on a roll of a 6.

That's already a lot of information to absorb, and we're not even in the battle itself yet. Luckily once again we have a narrative to walk us through the battle and make the rest of the trek more enjoyable. Let's get to it!


The first turn of the 1st Battle round goes to the Aelves.
Aydan Windcaller could sense it in the air. Foulness, the source of which could not be mistaken. Followers of the Dark Gods were on the move. He uttered a single word of power, summoning a gust of magical wind to gently sweep him up to the nearby altar to take a look at his retinue. Citizen militia sat cross-legged in small clusters around the site, breaking bread and supping from waterskins. His elite bodyguard, the Swordmasters, had dutifully spread out around the altar and showed no signs of any need for respite.

He had come to this place to meditate, to momentarily become one with the invisible magical torrents that flowed through this place and to find a peace of mind. The torrents weren't invisible to him. He traced one faintly multi-coloured stream above his head, all the way to the distant mountains where it disappeared into the horizon. Every aelf had the innate ability of mage-sight, but as an Archmage his was more honed than most.

"Enemy approaches, Ifulvin. Prepare the levies," Aydan spoke out softly to the leader of the Swordmasters, who thumped his fist to his breast in acknowledgement before walking off to rouse the sitting aelves.
"This will be a bloody day, I'm afraid..." the Archmage muttered to himself as he let his gaze sweep across the landscape, trying to determine the direction from which the foe would come.

The Aelves begin their turn with the hero phase. The Archmage does not have a unique Command Ability listed on his Warscroll, but he still knows the one that is common to all Generals. He therefore uses his once-per-game Strategic Genious Trait to give both of his units the Inspiring Presence Command Ability until his next hero phase (marked by yellow dice next to the units).
Next the Archmage casts the Elemental Shield spell by rolling two dice and comparing the result to the spell's casting value. The total must equal or exceed the given value (in this case 6), so a roll of 7 indicates the spell was succesful. A blue dice is placed next to the Archmage to remind that the spell is in effect.
The Swordmasters move towards the Chaos Warriors, while the Spireguard hang back to protect the wizard. All Aelf units are still within 18" of the Archmage and can benefit from the protection of the Elemental Shield.
The marauding horde burst forth from the treeline, but the aelves were ready. Having placed his levy militia right next to his elites, Aydan knew the bravery of the soldiers was greatly fortified. They would not run.
"Keep your heads calm and hands steady, this warband may be savage but no match for an Archmage," he reassured his troops who seemed to draw courage from their leader's tranquility.

Mumbling a fluent stream of ancient aelvish, Aydan Windcaller conjured a great shimmering dome of elemental energy to surround himself and his retinue. They were ready to face the foe.

The Spireguard use their bows in the shooting phase to great effect, felling three Marauders.
The Swordmasters charge into the Chaos Warriors, going first in the combat phase as it is their turn. They manage to slay four Warriors (each with 2 Wounds) but take an equal punishment in return, suffering 7 Wounds (one of which was deflected by the Elemental Shield). The Warriors fail their battleshock test and two more run away.
The Spireguard drew their bows and took aim with drilled precision, obeying their watchmaster's barked orders without a second thought. Soon the air was filled with whistling shafts that struck the oncoming Marauders, many of which stopped dead on their tracks with arrows protruding from their bare chests.

The Swordmasters brandished their eloquent greatblades and surged into motion, closing the gap between them and the foe with a couple of nimble leaps. They spun into the fray like dancers, their swords licking out to open throats, impale helmets and sever limbs. Some of the northmen had seen enough and snuk away while their remaining comrades laid about them with weapon in each hand, their berserk fury accounting for many aelf deaths. Scale armours were rent by axes, helmets got caved in by hammers and jagged swords drew aelven blood, yet the Swordmasters' faith in their leader was such that none turned their backs to their duty.

Chaos begins its first turn and hero phase. The Lord of Chaos rolls one dice for each friendly unit within 8" of him, but no 6s are rolled (Chaos Grand Alliance Battle Trait). He then uses his Command Ability Aided by the Gods, allowing himself and friendly units within 10" of him to re-roll failed Save rolls of 1 (marked by the purple dice).
Both the Lord of Chaos and the Marauders move forward, the Chaos Warriors remain in close combat with the Swordmasters.
Titaharr the Executioner lifted a bundle of chain-bound skulls towards the skies, drawing roared cheers from his warband. The warlord leveled his gaze to the Archmage through the eyeslits of his hell-forged mask.
"Your head will be the next to join my collection," he threatened in an echoing voice, which changed into a hideous laughter as he saw the aelven spellcaster swallow nervously.
"Ha, coward! The gods are with us this day, and they need some entertainment! Kill the aelves, kill them all!"

His Marauders sprinted across the grassy plain towards the Spireguard, roaring in excitement. The Warriors were still exchanging blows with the Swordmasters, and even though the outcome of that fight seemed uncertain Titaharr dropped down from the rock and started after his Marauders. Today his  axe would feast on noble flesh...

The Chaos Warriors manage to get the upper hand as the Swordmasters fail to inflict a single wound, and three aelves are killed in return. Even the Elemental Shield didn't give enough protection against the amount of attacks!
The Marauders charge to challenge the Spireguard along with the Lord of Chaos, but of all three combatants only the Chaos hero caused any damage. The Aelves suffered no desertion due to Inspiring Presence.
The boasting of the warlord seemed to have distracted the nearby Swordmasters who got cut down in short order by the armoured northmen, leaving only Blademaster Ifulvin to keep the four towering brutes at bay.

The Marauders crashed into the Spireguard shieldwall head-on, avoiding the thrusting spears but failing to reach their axes and maces past the long shields of the aelven soldiery. Titaharr had no such trouble. He rammed his armoured shoulder into the gap between two shields, taking both of the aelves down on their backs. A wide swing of his axe beheaded the next spearman in line, and before the two aelves on the ground got back up the Executioner visited ruin upon them both with his chained skulls and plated boots.
"Weaklings..." he mused as he stepped over the corpses in search of more carnage.

Aelf turn two. The Archmage casts Arcane Bolt (casting value 5) and inflicts one mortal wound on the Lord of Chaos. He also gives Inspiring Presence to the Spireguard as the numbers of the Swordmasters are too depleted for it to be of any use there.
Aydan watched in horror as the armoured giant of a man jumped down from the rock and struck his militia shieldwall like a comet of doom. As the warlord was dispatching the spearmen one by one, Windcaller tapped into the rapidly flowing energies of this holy site and sent forth a bolt of white flame from his outstretched hand. The magical missile struck the wildly swinging Lord of Chaos to the flank, momentarily staggering the man but doing no apparent damage beside some battered armour.

Surely this creature was protected by great powers, thought Aydan, for resisting the cleansing flames of Asuryan was a clear sign that darker deities had some interest in this butcher.

In the Aelven combat phase the Spireguard were chosen to strike out first, inflicting 2 wounds on the Marauders. Next to swing were the Chaos Warriors, and as they slew the only remaining Swordmaster left (who would have attacked next), the Lord of Chaos was activated right after them. By using his once-per-game Ability Reaperblade the Chaos hero skipped his axe's 3 Attacks to perform only one, which upon hitting and wounding would inflict 2D6 Damage. The Lord of Chaos hit and wounded, the Spireguard failed their Save and a whopping 11 was rolled for Damage, evaporating the Aelven unit immediately!
The Chaos Warriors were activated in combat after the Spireguard but before the Lord of Chaos. They managed to slay the lonely Swordmaster, thus ridding the Aelves of their only other combat activation besides the already activated Spireguard.
The Chaos Warriors surrounded Blademaster Ifulvin and rained down blows from all sides, a downpour of violence that was too much even for such a skilled individual to parry or deflect. A mace to the chest and an axe to the back delivered the brave aelven bodyguard to meet his makers, his battered form falling to the ground to lie among  his fallen brethren.

The Spireguard had reformed their ranks after the impact of the Chaos Lord, their silverwood spears transfixing careless barbarians as they tried to push through the aelven shieldwall. The Executioner was not done yet, however, and as he strode over the carcasses of those he'd already slain he called out to the malevolent entity residing inside the blade of his cursed axe.
"Heed my call, daemon M'enash! Bring forth the destruction of those who oppose me and feast on their pitiful souls!"

The upraised axe begun to resonate and a single menacing eye opened in the fleshy growth on the flat of the blade.
"Yessss..." a faint voice hissed, seemingly coming from nowhere. 
"Yeeeessssss....." the voice grew in power until Titaharr swung his weapon once more, slicing a Spireguard in half. An orange screaming orb shot out from the Executioner's reaperblade and bounced from aelf to aelf, each time sinking into their chests before blasting out of their backs in bright flashes of sparks. In a matter of heartbeats the screaming ceased as the orb returned into the blade of the axe, the entire line of pale-skinned Spireguard tumbling into a lifeless heap at the feet of the northmen almost at the same instant.

Chaos turn 2. With no enemy units on the field except for their General, the Lord of Chaos uses his Aided by the Gods Command Ability again to allow himself and his followers re-roll failed Save rolls of 1. Each unit walks towards the lonely Archmage.
The Lord of Chaos charges the Archmage, and activates first in the combat phase as it is the Chaos turn. He misses all his attacks, however, but so does the Archmage and no damage is caused by either side.
Kicking dead aelves from his path, Titaharr walked to the bottom of the altar's steps. His followers were approaching right on his heels, equally afraid of the Archmage's power and the punishments the Executioner would mete out if someone stole his kill.
"How kind of you to wait so patiently for your turn, your pathetic underlings were overly eager to fall to my blade," Titaharr taunted, swinging his axe casually back and forth across his chest while his eyes followed the thin blood dripping from it.
"Now hand me over that head of your's and we're done here."

"Come and get it," Aydan replied, holding his seerstaff in both hands.
The Lord of Chaos charged up the steps, roaring, his axe missing the mage by mere inches as the aelf sidestepped and brought down his staff on the Executioner's head. There was a dull clang and Titaharr begun to laugh once more.
"Why do you even TRY?!" he bellowed as he lifted his axe up for another strike.

Aelf turn 3. The Archmage casts Arcane Bolt once more, succeeding in casting the spell but only inflicting 1 mortal wound on the Lord of Chaos, who still has 5 Wounds left.
In the combat phase the Archmage misses his single attack, but Lord of Chaos manages to inflict 2 Damage on the wizard.
As Titaharr turned to his adversary, his axe high above his head, another bolt of white flame struck his breastplate. Blinded by the flash of light and feeling his flesh begin to sear beneath the armour, the Chaos Lord took another bash to his head from the defiant mage's staff. He swung his axe downwards, raking the blade across Aydan's left shoulder and almost severing the limb. The cry of pain from the aelf was music to his ears.

Chaos turn 3. The Chaos Warriors and the Marauders charge into combat to surround the dueling heroes.
The Lord of Chaos activates first in the combat phase, delivering 4 unsaved wounds to the Archmage who only had 3 left. The Aelf forces have now all been slain to the last and victory goes to Chaos!
The warband could no longer hold their excitement as they charged to the altar, surrounding it from all sides and looking for a chance to land a blow. Titaharr would have none of that, this kill was his, and his alone.

With the mage still staggered from the grievous wound, the Executioner brought his axe down on the hapless aelf with all his strength behind it. The blade sunk in right beside the neck and carved its path down to the chest, taking Aydan Windcaller to his knees before the towering champion of chaos. Titaharr raised a plated boot and kicked the Archmage down from the platform to free his axe, the aelf falling limply to the grass below.

A voice begun whispering inside the Executioner's head. A voice promising immortality.
"Bring me the spellcaster's head, we have a ritual of our own to perform now, and this is the perfect place to do it," he commanded, his underlings scurrying off to obey his will.

Their master would now ascend to daemonhood.


That was that!

The game itself was very short but it demonstrated the actions and use of heroes on the battlefield. Of course, in a game as small as this the heroes seem invincible, but bear in mind that larger games with larger units reduce the influence a single hero can have on the course of the battle.

Right at the end of the tutorial game the Lord of Chaos slew the enemy General, activating his Glory or Damnation Ability that would have transformed him into a Daemon Prince had the game not ended at the same moment. Thematic abilities like this one make heroes even more attractive and fun than they already are with their enhanced statlines and Command Abilities, giving the game a nice narrative feel that spices up the gameplay.

There's still one final part of this tutorial series planned thus far, Battles For Beardlings, which takes a look at Battleplans, deployment and very basic tactics, as well as draws together everything we've learned in the previous tutorials.

Allegiance, Battle & Command Traits and Artefacts were already discussed to some measure in this tutorial and will be taken to account again in the next one. I might some day continue this four-part series with further additions that delve deeper into that specific subject, or things like Battalions, advanced tactics, faction introductions or even hobby aspects like assembly or speed painting. Anything a complete beginner might need!

But before I get too much ahead of myself I should see that part 4 gets done in time, preferably without over a month's wait like with this one....
Luckily I have many things to show you in the meantime, from new terrain to heaps of painted models.
Until then!

perjantai 14. heinäkuuta 2017

Light in a Box

Amidst all the work I've found no time to plan, set up, play or write the third part of the For Beardlings -tutorial series. Yet.
I'm getting there, but slowly.

In the meanwhile I can only offer you some small things I have actually managed to do, like these pretty pics I took today using a lightbox studio that arrived in the mail. Some of my heroes and units that were easily at hand have now been immortalized in better lighting than ever before!

It is a 9" Foldable Studio from ebay, powered by a power bank I already owned. The studio comes in a nice flat package and may be effortlessly folded open and back again in an eyeblink as it is all handily magnetized! The built-in LEDs are quite powerful and offer a good source of cold light to minimize any shadows in the miniatures. The studio also comes with one white and one black "background sheet", of which I find the black one more appealing as it seems to work better with my phone's camera.

And now some of the ones I took on a white background, although I feel they're a bit too dirty and blurry in some odd way:

It almost feels as if the models drown in all that whiteness and lose some of their contrast. Oh well, I'll just stick with the black one for the most part!

I've also added an Army Showcase tab into the sidebar menu. It lets you view army-specific posts about each of the factions I collect and have recorded here in ExtraBushyBeards. There are already four of my nine(ish) armies recorded, and more will follow.

The tutorial part three is also on its way, worry not. It is currently my top priority.

 Until then!

maanantai 10. heinäkuuta 2017

The Great Book of Grudges

Every duardin Karak needs its own Book of Grudges.

In order to exact harsh vengeance upon those who do wrong against my Duardin I have begun recording every suffered slight into this hefty ledger, from which they will be struck out as wergilds are paid. Each grudge has a short description of the events that created the grudge and a list of characters involved. This post is a permanent addition to the blog and will be constantly updated.

Grudges Settled: 60,0%

Desecration of Wayfarer Hold
A brutal greenskin tribe led by Big Warboss Urgokh da Choppa sailed in from the horizon on ramshackle ferries and rafts, landing on the shores of the Diamond Bay and storming the Wayfarer Hold. The inhabitants were forced to flee and the sizable garrison was obliterated as they faced the foe on the shores to buy civilians more time to escape. Ancestral statues were torn down and the hold itself was blighted with crude monuments to the greenskin gods Gork and Mork.

Stonehammer's Demise
At the Battle of the Hollow Hill a towering orruk Warboss Gorlag Stuntiedoom descended upon an Iron Company patrol with his warband, routing the brave warriors and decapitating Thane Gorek Stonehammer after an uneven duel atop the snow-covered hill. It is said that Stonehammer's head was attached to the orruk's armour as a trophy.
At the pinnacle of the Battle of Bronze Plateau, Commander Ungrim Ironhelm himself smashed the head of Warboss Stuntiedoom in a duel and settled the grudges caused by the infamous brute.

Loss of Brokksson Heirlooms
Runepriest Largs Brokksson, the hero who led the survivors of the Hollow Hill back to the nearby Splitstone Mine, was ambushed along with the mine's garrison and slain in the ensuing battle. His heirloom runestaff and forgehammer were claimed by the mastermind of the ambush: Wolfboss Azgar Swiftgit.
During the Battle of Bronze Plateau Wolfboss Azgar was crushed to death under a grudge-rock bearing his hated name. The Brokksson heirlooms were reclaimed only days after the ambush by Thane Brom Alaricsson and his convoy.

Gadrinsnev's Lost Inventions
Engineer Borek Gadrinsnev was stationed at the Splitstone Mines when the aforementioned attack by Azgar Swiftgit took place. He has been reported missing along with his reservoir of recent ingenious inventions, including the Rocket-Blunderbuss.
Azgar Swiftgit was slain at the Battle of Bronze Plateau and the wergild for this shameful event has been paid, but Borek Garinsnev and his inventions still remain lost.

Roreksson's Ruined Caravan 
Thane Snaddri Roreksson was leading an Iron Company supply caravan to the army's main encampment when he walked into a trap prepared by grot warchief Urzy da Sneaky 'Un. The attack was eventually fended off and the assailants were slain, except for the warchief himself. The caravan suffered badly in the ambush, with many duardin slain and most of the supplies lost.
Urzy da Sneaky 'Un was brought low by a lucky handgun-volley during the Iron Grudge campaign as Runelord Ranuld Silvethumb and Runesmith Durin Chiselmane stormed his hidden encampment at Sneakpass and shattered his elusive grot tribe. The tribe's remaining four Bloody Moon Shaman were also all slain in the raid.

Bereaved Retribution
During the counter-attack of the Iron Company to reclaim their lost territory, Thane Thorlek Durragsson led a vanguard of brave warriors and rangers to secure a safe passage across the Serpent River. Such a place was found at Grot's Crossing, defended by a band of Moonclan grots and the notorious Gorlag Stuntiedoom. Thane Durragsson brought the enemy to battle over the bridge spanning across the river, seeking to slay the orruk Warboss and settle the grudges laid against the brute. Alas, during the duel of between Thorlek and Stuntiedoom a grot warmachine put a spear-sized bolt through the Thane, bereaving the duardin of their vengeance and forcing the battered vanguard to retreat.
At the pinnacle of the Battle of Bronze PlateauCommander Ungrim Ironhelm himself smashed the head of Warboss Stuntiedoom in a duel and settled the grudges caused by the infamous brute.

Disaster of Diamond Bay
At Diamond Bay Captain Garin Baragorsson's flotilla ambushed an enemy supply vessel on its way to the greenskin camp near the lost Wayfarer Hold, aiming to hinder their war efforts. The duardin were defeated after a close battle and their flotilla was captured by the enemy. Captain Baragorsson was slain by Kaptin Croll Rustaxe during the brutal boarding. Kaptin Croll was also the only one to survive the clash.

Burning of Bochenfels
A contingent of duardin warriors led by Thane Morek Furrowbrow aided the human inhabitants of Bochenfels to defend their city against the massive Waaagh! of Urgokh da Choppa that was assaulting the city. Despite the combined efforts of the two races, the greenskin invaders breached the walls and burned the city after a brief but arduous siege. Thane Furrowbrow led the retreat and the city's inhabitants were saved, but Morek's close human friend Governor Warwick Lemming was slain during the fighting and his eldest son Richard went missing in the aftermath. Thane Morek Furrowbrow has vowed dire vengeance.

Fate of the Beardling Legions
During the Iron Grudge campaign, a massive invasion into the greenskin territories, Slayer King Malakai Smensson commenced a pre-emptive strike in order to stop a foul ritual by orruk Shaman Trazleh. Protected by his tribe of zealous followers, Trazleh managed to complete the ritual and summon a mighty Chaos beast into the realm. The monster went on a rampage and followed the retreating duardin, decimating the rearguard legions and disrupting supply lines of the marching army. The decimated legions mostly consisted of young beardlings who had been kept away from the thickest fighting, and so the mourning was great.
Shaman Trazleh was slain by Brewmaster Burlok Dorinsson's rangers at the very moment the ritual was completed. The shaman's tribe was defeated during the battle but the damage to the duardin campaign had already been done.

The Defiling of the Bargonne Boneyard
The brave and noble duardin souls put to rest at the boneyard of Bargonne Forest in the Western Reaches of the kingdom of Kazad-Zul had their eternal sleep disturbed in the most horrible way by blood-crazed followers of the Chaos god Khorne. Galathor Skullcleave and his Gore Pilgrims attacked the cemetery to draw in Slayer Lord Farim Tattermane of Drakeflight Hold and his loyal warriors, tasked with defending the region while the main armies were campaigning. Lord Farim was slain in the battle alongside his clan's warriors, and only Runelord Nithrik and the Bargonne Rangers returned alive to deliver these grim tidings back to the now-leaderless hold. Although Galathor himself died fighting Murin the Shattered, his second-in-commands Ragrax Brassfist and Ghirkar Redwrath have taken over the Gore Pilgrims and continue to harass the region.

tiistai 4. heinäkuuta 2017

Scrimmage at Sneakpass

Greetings everyone!

With my Beardling-tutorials halfway done and published by now, I decided to advance the Iron Grudge narrative campaign me and my greenskin opponent begun some time ago. In the last battle of this storyline Slayer King Malakai Smensson and Brewmaster Dorinsson led a joined assault to halt the foul ritual Shaman Trazleh was conjuring in the deep forests.

They succeeded only partially, managing to slay the enemy wizard but not before his magics summoned a terrible chaos monster into the realm. The beast followed the retreating duardin and decimated the rearguard regiments of my campaigning duardin legions, disrupting supply lines and slowing their advance before wandering off into the wilds.

Now that the vengeful duardin have finally resumed their march, a new obstacle presents itself: several rangers bring back reports of a hidden enemy encampment which could be the hideout of the infamous grot chief Urzy da Sneaky 'Un, a long-time ally and pawn of Urgokh. An opportunity has presented itself to strike swiftly and catch the elusive grot, ridding the greenskins of yet another of their brightest leaders, and the warriors of Ironhold are up for the task!

We played a 1300p game using the Battleplan: War of Storms from the Quest for Ghal Maraz campaign book, an army of grots and troggoths pitted against duardin steel. The "stormfront" begun the game on the middle of the board, both sides aiming to push it over to the opponent's table edge.

We placed a corrupted Realmgate on the table for the first time to see what kind of things it was capable of. The ability to teleport troops (although hazardously) seemed to provide a wide array of alternative approaches to a seemingly simple clash of battlelines.

Without further ado, here's the narrative!


"Wut iz it?"
The sudden demand startled all four of the gathered shaman, making them cower behind their magic sticks. None dared to speak.
"If ya don' answer me roight now I swear I's gonna feed ya to da squigs meself!" Warchief Urzy demanded once again, hoping the threat would force some action into these idiots. It worked.

"Da 'shroom stash's been filled, oh sneaky o' da sneakiest! Three mobs o' runts got dere eyez melted by da ouch-shrooms, but it ain't no concern..." confessed the first of the shaman.
"Rebellin' Dungfoots clan got munched by dem bigga squigs dat got freed... by accident. Theyz no trouble anymore," reported the second, winking with one of his yellow eyes all too obviously.
"Da snotlings 'ave been gathered an' dere arms cut off, yer sneakiness. All done," declared the third.
"I's been talkin' to da 'umie prisoners. Many o' dem sayz interesting fings when tortured..." mused the last of the shaman, catching the attention of all the rest.

"An' wut did ya find out? Wut did da 'umies tell ya?" Urzy pressed, notably irritated by the shaman's apparent self-satisfaction.
"I don'ts know. I speaks no 'umie tongue," the shaman shrugged.
Da Sneaky 'Un rolled his eyes. Useless dimwits. Were these four shaman not the source of his power and influence he would flay them alive himself. Nevertheless, most of his orders had been carried out and the plan was in progress.

Runelord Ranuld Silverthumb watched his warriors march forward with admirable determination. They were to act as the vanguard that would sweep away this greenskin hideout so the advance of the legions some miles behind them could go on undisturbed. With all the reports trickling in from various scouts reporting a large concentration of enemy wizards ahead, Commander Ungrim Ironhelm had seen it best to send Runelord Ranuld and Runesmith Durin to lead the vanguard. Their runic powers would protect the warriors from enemy tricks and turn back any destructive spells sent against them. Ranuld had even been given an Anvil of Doom to use on this attack, multiplying the power of his runes tenfold.

Exchanging gazes with his colleague, the Runelord nodded and raised his hammer to the skies.
"Onward! Push back the tide o' darkness and sweep the foe from the field, lads!"
A roar of approval rose from the ranks of the mail-clad duardin, carrying over the grassfields to cause mayhem in the enemy camp.

Urzy was not completely sure whether the chaos erupting all around him was caused by excitement or fear. Possibly both. Grots ran amok, trying to find their sharpened sticks and spears to join the mob that was pouring out of the encampment to meet the foe on the field while three Troggoths stood by the wall of sharpened stakes, picking their noses and staring at the diminutive creatures running past them.

Urzy climbed on to the ramshackle watchtower along with the crew of the Spear Chukka positioned there, trying to get a good view of the field. There was a corrupted realmgate right beside the camp, providing a fast but extremely dangerous way back to the safety of Urgokh's Waaagh!... or the enemy flank.

Da Sneaky 'Un waved his sword in the air, gesturing at one of his shaman below.
"Oi, Wobbles! Get 'em arrer runts an' flank dem stunties!"
The shaman waved back in response before using his magic stick to push the first of the nearby grot archers towards the flaming doorway.
"In ya go! We's in a hurry, gits, move up!"

Then suddenly the energies of the realmgate flickered and exploded outwards in a burst of searing flame, catching three of the nearest grots and turning them to piles of ash in front of their horrified fellows.
"Errr... Dat happens sumtimes, iz totally normal. Now get in dere!" the shaman continued bellowing in his high-pitched voice.

The clouds above the battlefield rang with thunder as green energies of Waaagh! magic contested with the runic powers of the duardin, swirls of green and white clouds enveloping each other in the heights even as the mortal armies advanced below. The greenskins poured forth from the camp, taking to the field in hopes of overwhelming the enemy with sheer numbers. The Spear Chukka loosed long bolts from the top of the watchtower, piercing the ranks of the marching duardin and leaving many skewered dead on the field.

The warriors of Ironhold met the challenge head-on. Both Ranuld and Durin chanted in ancient khazalid, invoking the runes forged on the weapons and armour of each clansman to make their metal stronger and bullets glow white-hot. A fusillade of handgun shots struck the approaching Troggoths hard, one going down stone-dead and another running away in terror, leaving only one dumb brute shuffling onward.

Having regained their senses after the destructive energies of the realmgate, the grots tried to enter it again. This time a cloud of purple stardust appeared from the depths of the archway, raining over the grots and causing them to fall into a drooling trance, unable to lift a finger.

The duardin took full advantage of this, their cannon taking aim at the watchtower in the distance. A single explosive shell arced across the fields, striking the tower and blowing it to splinters along with the greenskin warmachine and its unfortunate crew.

The Thunderers saw their chance as Urzy walked up behind the mob of grots, kicking them into the fray. Going for the kill, the duardin gunners loosed a volley at the warchief, hoping to end this battle before it could escalate further. Alas, they found their aim wanting as the magics of Da Sneaky 'Uns robe blended him into the shadows, blurring their target and making many shots hit nothing but air. A single lucky bullet still punched into the warchief, rewarding the grinning duardin shooter with a puff of blood and a painful scream.
"I think I found him again, lads!" the Thunderer bragged to his mates.

The lonely Troggoth charged into the duardin lines only to be cut to size by vicious axe-strokes from Ludsen's Lumberjacks. The first close-up blows of the battle had been exchanged.

The duardin lines charged into the enemy, their weapons and armour enhanced by the efforts of Runepriests. Durin Chiselmane saw the battle was taking a turn for the better and led the Ironbreakers into the fray from the back lines, hoping to speed the breakthrough.

The grots had some tricks up their black sleeves, however. Small gaps opened in their mob, revealing Fanatics spinning ball-and-chains to decimate any warrior unfortunate enough to get too close. Having dealt with similar threats before, the Thunderers quickly put them down with point-blank shots and rifle-butts.

Duardin warriors waded into the midst of their ancestral foes, laying about them with axe and mattock to crack skulls and sever limbs. Even the pack of ferocious squigs goaded at them by grot herders got broken in short order, the hatred and skill of the stunties seeming to stop at nothing to ensure victory.

When shaman Wobbles finally got his mob on the move again back at the camp, they entered the realmgate as an unordered stream of black robes. Even with the shaman stabilizing the rampant energies and directing the journey of the mob towards the enemy flank, some of the grots got lost or eaten by daemons on the way.

Materializing back to this plane of existence, the archer grots realized they had been delivered to the enemy rear. From their ranks two more Fanatics spinned forth, even as the archers themselves loosed a volley of shabby arrows at the enemy Runelord. The Fanatics crashed into the rear of the Ironbreakers, breaking mail and necks as they hurdled through the duardin elite. The Ironbreakers quickly spun around and dispatched the attackers, but the damage had been already done.

Most of the grot missiles pattered harmlessly against the metal of the Anvil but one shaft embedded itself in Ranuld's thigh, making the old Runelord add khazalid curses to his frantic chanting.

The stromfronts above the field seemed to hang in the balance, neither side managing to get a decisive advantage over the other even though the scales constantly tipped back and forth.

More arrows rained upon the Anvil of Doom, wounding the Runelord more severely. Despite the many shafts protruding from his body, Ranuld kept chanting and hammering the runes to upkeep the protections of the warriors that were fighting overwhelming numbers further down the field.

Both grots and duardin fell in great numbers as the fighting drew on. Ludsen's Lumberjacks held the spearmob in place long enough for the rest of the warriors to clear the right flank, and Thunderers kept popping shots at Urzy until the little warchief hid behind a ruined wall that the bullets could not penetrate.

One of the Bloody Moon shaman was also hiding in the same ruins, and as soon as Urzy kicked the spellcaster out into the open to make room for himself, the poor shaman got blasted into a gory mess by the next volley from the Thunderers.

The stormfronts were still roughly equal in power, neither able to overthrown the other in the magical contest of powers that went on in the skies. On the bloodied battlefield only two separated isles of grots remained, surrounded by their foes. All hung in the balance: could the grots hold out long enough to gain the upper hand and wear down the invaders or were they doomed to fall to their axes?

The duardin surrounded their foes, cutting into them with practiced swings and pressing the enemy together tighter and tighter with their wall of shields, stepping over mounds of corpses as they advanced. Slaughter seemed inevitable.

The outflanking grot archers received a mercifully short treatment as both elite Ironbreakers and young beardlings ran into them, swiftly cutting down the first rows to send the rest screaming in terror into the endless woodlands.

Suddenly the trapped spearmob gained a spike of energy and confidence from the roiling green clouds that hung directly above. The fight was taking place under the greenish half of the stormfront, lending strength and vigour to the surrounded greenskins. They lashed out with their crooked spears, catching over-reaching enemy warriors by surprise. Thus creating gaps in the enemy shieldwall, the grots rushed outward into the gaps and commenced slaughter.

Many warriors fell to this sudden turn of events and the deathtrap unraveled, bearded corpses joining the cold company of those they'd cut down only moments before. By the help of the runes glowing in their wargear, Ludsen's Lumberjacks held their ground and kept the enemy mob in place, not allowing them to harass the Thunderers who were preparing for another volley.

The rumble of blackpowder weapons echoed across the field as the volley was fired. Bullets chipped at the ruined building to send up puffs of stone and dust before some of them hit their intended target: Da Sneaky 'Un. Two splashes of blood from the shadows indicated succesful hits, and soon the cloaking magics wore off to reveal the grot warchief on his knees in the grass.

"I's... I's only needed a lil' more time... a lil'... da plan..." Urzy wheezed in between painful breaths. Lifting his eyes towards the sky where the white clouds of runic power finally gained the upper hand and drove back the green, Da Sneaky 'Un uttered his last words.
"... idiots..." 
The frail form fell to the ground, never to rise again.

Across the field a similar fate greeted shaman Wobbles as a group of beardlings surrounded him and pounded to the ground with heavy blows that crushed bones with every swing.

With their leaders slain and tribe slaughtered, the remaining grots dropped their weapons and fled. The Thunderers fired some shots after them to hurry the process while Ludsen's survivors started searching for kinsmen from among the dead.

Ranuld Silverthumb pulled the arrows from his body and threw them away with muttered curses. The sky was brightening up now that the duel of magical forces was over and the route ahead was clear for Ironhelm's legions. The battle here had been hard-won, with far too many lives lost to call it a clear victory. The objective had been achieved but the price was too high for comfort.

As he stepped down from the anvil's pedestal the Runelord could see Durin entering the grot encampment with the Thunderers, no doubt to put the hateful place to the torch.

Runesmith Durin Chiselmane walked past the smoking remains of the ramshackle watchtower and took in the sight. Clusters of dirty hovels, piles of bones, broken equipment and carved totems to the twin gods of the greenskins.
"Burn it," he boomed, and the Thunderers obeyed immediately.
Then he saw something glinting at the edge of his vision. Durin walked past the nearest hovel and saw the last two Bloody Moon shaman sneaking away with pockets full of glittering trinkets and valuable mushrooms. Both grots froze as they spotted the runesmith.

One of them dropped a tooth-filled basket and lifted its staff, starting to mutter a spell. Durin reached out with his hand, spoke a single word in khazalid and pulled back his arm as if ripping something from the air. A bright flash of light emanated from the casting shaman's forehead, and as the grot fell screaming to the ground with hands over its eyes a golden rune could be seen branded on its charred forehead.

The other shaman reacted more swiftly and sent a blast of green energy at the runesmith. A swirly rune on Chiselmane's staff flashed in white before fading away, causing the shaman's bolt to wither away mid-flight. The horrified shaman could do nothing but watch as the duardin raised his staff to the skies to catch a lightning that shot down from the clouds. With a sharp gesture Durin pointed the his runestaff at the horror-struck shaman, directing the lightning bolt into the grot with devastating effect.

Runesmith Chiselmane walked past the blackened remains of the unfortunate creature to stand beside the one he smote first. The grot was writhing on the ground, screaming it couldn't remember the words for the spell it had tried to cast.
"Ye won't be needin' any o' that anymore," Durin pointed out before bringing his forgehammer down on the shaman's branded forehead.


A victory for the Duardin!

With the first game of the campaign having gone to the greenskins, both factions now stand at a roughly equal footing. The campaign of vengeance into the lands under Warboss Urgokh's cruel rule will continue without further hindrance for now, but we shall see what the next battles have to offer!

I'll be continuing with the third part of my tutorial series next, hoping to publish it as soon as possible. In the meanwhile I might post some models I've managed to paint for my various armies or some of the new terrain I've acquired.

Until next time!