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!

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