I am playing a narrative campaign with a few Dwarf players (friends) and so far we have had six battles. This is a brief description of the seventh battle. The campaign is described here (always available from the top menu too): Khardon Island
This Sunday we were finally back to the Khardon Island campaign. This time I was playing Mark and his Dwarfs. The other player, Jonas, and me were playing Warhammer the whole of last weekend, but the games were not related to the campaign. I guess, as the campaign log is in real time, the explanation must be that Jonas’ Dwarfs of King Gorrin are somewhat perplexed about what to do next and making a big think on it. Meanwhile Mark’s Dwarfs of King Belagor have been wandering around in the underground caverns that they entered on April 10th.
So here we are – King Belagor sent an expedition into the caverns beneath after defeating Bhürzüm at the temple in game 5. The Undead were keen on stopping the Dwarfs from entering the caverns, but failed to do so. The Dwarfs, although they are expert explorers underground, were fooled by the evil magics of this vast caverns system. An evil force was clearly at work. Everywhere they turned in the caverns death was lurking and it didn’t take long before they started encountering the SPIDERS!
Soon the hunters turned into the hunted and the Dwarfs had to try and fight their way out. The caverns were literally crawling with myriads of spiders in all sizes. While normal spiders are perfectly alright, these ones seemed to be fuelled by an evil sense of purpose. The Dwarf generals could see that they were being goaded towards a point in the cavern system. They were too clever to be fooled like that, and started making their way opposite were the creatures were trying to get them.
Eventually the Dwarf army found a way out of the caverns… only problem was the host of the evil undead Dark Elf sorcerer Malalial and his giant spiders guarding the exit. The Dwarfs did not have any optinos left. In a huge underground cave they fought the host of Malalial for their freedom.
This game was less about the scenario and more about the background. The idea of fighting in some caverns appealed to us, and adding spiders in the mix was a given. The undead were allowed to field as many giant spiders as they wanted, and in addition they were allowed to use the gargantuan spider from the Orcs & Goblins list.
Scenario wise, we decided to play “Take the field” straight from the rulebook. It is almost just a pitched battle, but in this case this really seemed like the best choice – the Dwarfs had to smash the Undead army to get out. I did consider if there should be some “cave” rules, but opted not to, as I thought the setting and the atmosphere was already there.
In take the field the army with the most units of 5 or more, outside of its own deployment zone, takes the objective after 5 (6 on 4+) turns of the game. The objective is 1000 VP. In addition to this the VP of each army is counted for kills (100% of the value for destroyed units, 50% for units reduced to 1/4, and nothing for units above a quarter of their starting strength in absolute numbers).
The Dwarfs go the first turn and moved everything forward. The scenario almost dictated this so it was quite understandable. I then proceeded to lay down a screen of “skeletones” – the annoying thin line of skeletons that an undead priest calls forth to chant and dance just in front of the enemy to rile them up.
Other than this I also moved my whole army forward. I had the ambition to charge the gargantuan spider in to the hardest Dwarfs and make them cower in fear. Also, I had made myself a SUPER-MUMMY-HERO. So he has a potion of strenght, a flail of skulls, and armour of protection (whoops – I seem to have given him 3 items… in my defence I never used his armour, as the Dwarfs failed to wound him all but one time, where I failed to save). The idea was to kill the Dwarf commander with it.
I had of course deployed my critters on the flank to exploit their awesome move 7″. However I think I got a little carried away, and was a little overeager… does that sound like me? Naaaah… oh well! So even though my idea was to have the giant spiders sit in wait behind some terrain and then jump forward in FLANKING attacks, supporting my other units… I just charged them forward first chance I got, without any concern about the plan. Alas!
The Dwarfs had made a devillishly clever plan and divided their slayers across the board. These guys always cause me a headache. In fact the Dwarfs had gone a lot stronger on the side my horsemen were, than I had anticipated.
The poor horsemen would be facing both hammerers, slayers, and a gyrocopter! Obviously I had to put more effort on that flank and I diverged a set of spiders to that direction. In hindsight that was probably still a feeble effort.
After the first turn we both had a feeling that we didn’t stand a chance. I count that as a sign that the game was fairly balanced.
My favourite moment was when the Gargantuan Spider managed to connect with the Hammerers. The monstrous beast lumbered towards the small humanoid meat bags and released it’s full 8 attacks!!! The thrashing sounds and the roaring mega mouth surely would be enough to rattle the Dwarfs. As both players held their breath I rolled the 8 attacks dice – 3 hits! A bit below par. But THEN I rolled to wound: 0 wounds on the Dwarfs! What a total disaster. Not at all the cinematic climax I was looking for. Hmpf! The Dwarfs managed to do one wound on the spider in return.
Next I sprung my secret weapon: A trapdoor spider! This counted as a giant spider with the ability to deploy anywhere in a turn later than 2. I placed it behind the Long Beards on the flank with my horsemen. However , it could not charge the turn it arrived, so it was probably already too late to the party. The Dwarf Gyrocopter had reduced the horsemen to 2 by now, and the slayers were going to charge them.
The Tomb King list has Scorpion Swarms but in Warhammer Renaissacne there isn’t really any difference between spiders and scorpions, other than the models. So I had opted for Spider Swarms instead. My idea was to using them as a small screen for my Skeleton Ogres and my Skeleton Warriors. This way they would march block and make the Slayers stand around ready for a charge by my Warriors.
I had managed to play the The Curse of Years on the big 20-Dwarf strong Slayer regiment using Total Power. This spell is simply mindnumblingly good. I have yet to meet an opponent who does not feel like quitting the game after a few rounds of failing to remove it. Mark was not very lucky with the dispels so the Curse actually managed to remove all but 2 slayers, including the Slayer hero. But before this happened, the Slayers managed to mow through the spider swarms and overrun into the main regiment.
The main Dwarf regiment had taken my bait and charged into the summoned Skeletones. But due to the placement, the charging Dwarfs could not align, so my skeletons had to align instead, which pulled the plan apart a bit. To my luck, the Dwarfs smashed all the skeletons and chose to overrun. The last bit was a big gift and allowed me to charge with my second warrior regiment in my next turn.
Now came the moment I had been waiting for. The Mummy Hero was stood in front of the Dwarf General and it called out a foul challenge of the blades with it parchment thin rasping voice of death. But of course the Mummy Hero was not going to play a fair game. Straight after he’d finished challenging, he popped a potion of strenght, to clear his throat and help with that rasping. He then struck the Dwarf, rolling 2 hits, both causing a wound with strenght 8. The Flail of Skulls he was also wielding would surely see to it that the Dwarf was ended now. But alas! The Dwarf was wearing the Armour of Skaldour! He managed to save 1 wound and only suffered 2. On the return the Dwarf used his HYDRASWORD (I hate it I hate it!) to roll seven attacks and cause 0 wounds (the Dwarf’s strength 4 was no match for the toughness 6 of the mummy).
The game was quickly closing now. My sorcerer was still using his magic powers to summon skeletons left and right. I managed to summon a unit in the flank of the Thunderers, but the goddamn Gyrocopter flew right over it and dropped a bomb on it, taking out 9 with a fell swoop. (this was actually the first time in my more than 10 recent games against Dwarfs that anyone has thrown a bomb). I suppose that if you want the Gyro to move you might as well throw a bomb. Definitely better than moving, and doing nothing.
Well, shortly after this the Mummy got his revenge and flailed the head of the Dwarf into the body of the Dwarf. At this point the Dwarfs were ready to concede, but I urged Mark to carry on, as I could see that he had a lot better chance of getting the objective than I did. We were in my turn 4. And true to form, turn 5 was not really important – I did manage to take out a slayer regiment with my bowmen in close combet (haha!), and Mark failed to reduce my warriors to 4 even though his Miners had made a very efficient flank attack.
At the end of turn 5 I had 3 scoring units to Mark’s 4, so the game boiled down to whether there would be a turn 6 or not – if there was a sixth turn I would be able to charge and probably break the thunderers, and maybe I could reinforce the skeletons fighting the Miners. But we rolled the die and it came up a 3. The game was over and the Dwarfs won the objective. Ouch!
Dwarf 1993 – Undead 1247
So the Dwarfs narrowly made their escape from the Lair of the Spider King. Hmpf. It was a minor Dwarf victory though. I don’t think things were too much in favour of one or the other. Obviously I really missed having the Vanhel’s Dance Macabre spell. And also Gaze of Nagash would have come in handy. But there’s no reason to lament. The most important stuff was the Raise the Dead which I managed to cast time and time again. In a way the scenario could have been easily won if I just used my raise spells to summon small units of Skeletons around the board. However, I opted not to pursue this strategy as it felt wrong and too “gamey”. I don’t mean to say that I would have “auto won” if I had done this. The skeletons I did summon did all go to battle and were important, so maybe I would have lost some of my other units instead if I had just littered the board with bones.
When Boris The Blade entered the caves with his army, he felt something was wrong. But he had no other idea than to push forward. I didn’t take long before the Dwarfs stood in a big underground cave, filled with the armies of the undead “Forward!!!” Boris yelled out, not knowing that this would be his last battle.
After the fierce battle the Dwarfs looked to their new leader in the amidst the still burning carcasses of the spiders. They could smell the fresh air and see the first rays of daylight… The entrance to the cave was close.
Once they were out of the cave the dwarfs tried to get their bearing… But where was this?
The sun was rising opposite the sea. They realized they’d gone across the whole island.
“Now what do we do?”, said a young Dwarf.
“Nothing changes. We find the book still,” said Alestrum The Magnificent the new leader of the army.