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Furgil glared through the gloom at the bandit fort ahead. The Skaven had taken it the evening before, and the remnants of their force continued to pillage what remained, rounding up slaves and plunder. For too long, the Thaggoraki had been on the offence in these hills, and it was time to put this to a stop. His cousin had urged the attack as soon as they had arrived, but Furgil was waiting his moment - he wanted to catch the ratmen wizard who had caused them so much trouble over the last months. The horned wizard was now in the open, outside the fort - this was the time. As smoke continued to rise from the fort, the Dawi horns rang out, followed by cries of "Khazuk" - the dwarves advanced, and battle was to be joined.
Since my last report "The Defence of Bracliata" Westy and I had a couple of games, both of which ended in heavy defeats for myself - I didn't get around to writing them up. Thanquol (End Times variant) plus his new Stormfiends had made things very painful for me. This time, there was no "trying out something new" - I wanted a solid army that wouldn't let me down, and would smash the Skaven. We went for a smallish 1800 point match, playing the basic Battleline scenario.
Dwarves (see this thread for the planning of my list)
Thane (general) - Fiery Ring of Thori, 1 x Rune of Might, Rune of Stone, Oath Stone, Shield (158)
Thane - BSB, 2 x Rune of Fire, 1 x Rune of Iron, Rune of Stone, Shield (168)
20 Longbeards - shields, full command (290)
12 Quarrelers - great weapons (168)
20 Ironbreakers - full command (310)
Cannon - Rune of Burning, Rune of Forging (150)
Grudge Thrower - Rune of Accuracy, Rune of Forging, 1 x Rune of Penetrating (170)
10 Irondrakes - full command (180)
Grey Seer (general) - level 4, Spells of Ruin (unknown magic items)
Assassin (unknown equipment)
80 Clanrats - full command, no equipment upgrades
Warpfire Thrower (attached to Clanrats)
20 Stormvermin - standard (Storm Banner), champion
Poisoned Wind Mortar (attached to Stormvermin)
20 Plague Monks - full command
3 Warplock Jezzails - champion
Warp Lightning Cannon
Hell Pit Abomination
The Skaven were 25 points over in their Rare - Westy had OKed this with me first; he wanted to field his two painted units (WLC + Doomwheel) as well as the newly built HPA. Of course, Skaven have all their best units in Rare, so if the Stormfiends and HPA get painted next, I might have to say no...
I knew the HPA would almost certainly be coming, so made sure I had enough flaming attacks across my army to deal with it. I was relieved the Stormfiends weren't being used as I'd struggled with them previously and had no plan for dealing with them. The Grey Seer was a surprise, as I'd thought Westy might go for something different (previously he's always taken the Seer on Screaming Bell or Thanquol). My lack of magical defence was a concern, as was having only two combat blocks to his three.
Both sides had convenient hills in their deployment zones; the Skaven had a watchtower in theirs but the one on my side of the table was outside my zone. We treated the fortress and siege equipment to the left as impassable. In hindsight, with no units deploying on the far side of the river, the battlefield was in effect narrowed considerably to a roughly 4' x 4'.
The maps don't really capture the scenery too well - the river, for example was considerably wider than is shown on the maps.
There were no real surprises with deployment - the Skaven concentrated in the middle, with the Jezzails garrisoned from the start. The Doomwheel took one flank, while the HPA hid from the cannon. I was very pleased with how the armies faced off - while the HPA couldn't be targeted by the cannon, the Irondrakes were there waiting for it. My two combat blocks were facing his two main ones - the Plague Monks were nicely out of the way where they would be a limited threat for the first half of the battle.
The Grey Seer had rolled for spells already, and got Scorch, Death Frenzy, Howling Warpgale and the Dreaded 13th. He forgot to roll for the D3 Warpstone Tokens and we failed to realise this during the game. As is traditional, I failed to get the first turn, so the Skaven started the attack...
The Grey Seer pointed imperiously at the hated Dawi and chittered the advance, the ratmen scampering forwards, although the Doomwheel engineer stalled his machine in his enthusiasm, sputtering forward a mere 4". The winds of magic were exhausted, with the dice being a mere 3 vs 2. Despite this, the Seer managed to cast Scorch on the Ironbreakers, killing four of them - an expensive and painful loss for the Dwarves. The engineer got the Doomwheel under control, earthing its lightning before it zapped any Clanrats, while the Jezzails demonstrated their sharpshooting by picking off three Irondrakes. The Warp Lightning Cannon was keen to get in on the action, but misfired, spinning around out of control and blasting a section of distant heathland way behind the Skaven lines - had some Dwarf Rangers been lurking there?
As the Dwarves prepared to counter, the Stormvermin banner bearer raised the dreaded Storm Banner - the gyros were grounded - again! Furgil nonetheless ordered the advance, with his Ironbreakers and the adjacent Longbeards piling forward through the mud as fast as their little legs could carry them. As hail pounded down from the skies, the Quarrelers moved into the ruined tower, ready to show the Jezzails their shooting prowess - or just desperately sheltering from the massive hailstones. The Irondrakes, seeing the diseased ratmen and horrific monstrosity approaching them, sensibly decided to back away to prolong their chances of shooting them down.
Elsewhere, both warmachines were frustrated as the atrocious weather prevented them from firing - the helmet-less crew were forced to take cover under their machines! The Irondrakes and Gyrobomber both attempted to shoot, but were unable to pick out their targets through the murk.
The Storm Banner remained active, though the Skaven failed to enjoy their first shower in... well, forever, as the stench of wet fur spread over the battlefield. The Clanrats charged the Ironbreakers, the Stormvermin also charging the Longbeards - combat was joined! Off to the flanks, the Doomwheel powered forward towards the Cannon on the hill, while the shambling flesh of the Hell Pit Abomination slammed into the ruined tower, quivering heads seeking out the juicy Quarrelers inside. The Plague Monks unfortunately were particularly dispirited by the downpour, failing their charge against the Irondrakes as they preferred to huddle under their sodden robes to keep the filth in.
The winds of magic picked up a little, with 5 dice vs 3. The Seer cast Death Frenzy on the Clanrats with irresistible force, the resulting miscast pulping four Clanrats and one Ironbreaker - a worthwhile sacrifice. We forgot to do the end of turn casualties for Death Frenzy (and again, when it was cast later).
The Doomwheel again managed to avoid zapping the Clanrats, perhaps having had a stern talking-to from the Seer before the battle - only he was allowed to sacrifice them! With the Storm Banner still up, shooting was limited - the Poisoned Wind Mortar was unable to fire, and the Jezzails missed their targets. The Warp Lightning Cannon were able to get their contraption operational, but misfired yet again, obliterating a dwarf-shaped bush some 500 yards behind the Skaven lines. Their marksmanship was leaving something to be desired.
The Abomination went first in combat, flailing its (far too) many fists at the cowering Quarrelers - but only killing one! Its Thunderstomp failed to squish any, and they struck back with their great axes to deal two wounds against the foul beast (we forgot that they should have had a -1 to hit following the Flailing Fists attack). The Dwarves had held out!
The Stormvermin failed to wound a single Longbeard, and then squirted the musk of fear in terror as the Thane spoke a word of power to his axe before unleashing a great gout of flame through the unit. When the smoke cleared, the fires and axes and hammers of the Dwarves had killed seven Stormvermin. They panicked and ran - the Storm Banner bearer "defending his standard to the last" (though the annals of the Dwarves record that one particularly soggy Stormvermin stabbed him in the back before running). The weather had cleared, and rays of sunshine broke through the clouds - things were looking up! The Longbeards only half-heartedly pursued the Stormvermin, keeping one eye on the bigger combat to their left.
An Assassin appeared from the ranks of the Clanrats, accepting a challenge from Thane Furgil, only to squeak in panic as his blades failed to wound the hardy dwarf. Furgil touched a finger to the ring on his left hand, unleashing another massive fireball into the Assassin. When the cowering Clanrats nearby dared to open their eyes, Furgil had hammered the charred remains of the Assassin into a pulpy, blackened mess. Still frenzied however, the Clanrats struck at the Ironbreakers, dragging down three of them with their rusty blades, for the loss of five of the rats in turn. Despite their losses, the Clanrats held - but the frenzy had seeped from their minds as the reality of their situation sunk in.
Things were starting to look up for the Dawi - but something needed to be done about the Clanrats before they ground their way through the Ironbreakers. The Longbeards promptly charged their flank, hoping to defeat them before the Stormvermin could rally. Elsewhere, both Gyros zipped forward, their pilots making full use of the settled weather. The Cannon started the bombardment, but only managed to inflict a single wound on the closing Doomwheel - things were looking grim for them. The Grudge Thrower missed its target of the Warp Lightning Cannon, the sodden rope of the mechanism surely to blame. The Irondrakes put three wounds on the Hell Pit Abomination, which was beginning to disintegrate, great gouts of swollen rat flesh littered around its too numerous feet. The Gyrocopter managed to scald four of the Plague Monks, the rest screeching in disgust at the decontaminating steam ruining many carefully cultivated diseases.
The Quarrelers in the tower then decided not to snipe the Jezzails, instead thudding several bolts into the Hell Pit Abomination, which gave a final agonised shudder before collapsing in a pool of liquifying flesh. The beast was down!
In the big combat, Furgil issued a challenge, which the Grey Seer swiftly declined, bravely pushing forward several of his most likely Clanrats to take his place. Only a single Ironbreaker was downed by the rats, who lost a highly auspicious thirteen in response - the Horned Rat was watching them, and he was not pleased! Despite this, the Clanrats were Steadfast, holding on in hope of reinforcement.
The Grey Seer bruxed his teeth in frustration - things were turning against him. All that plunder and slaves would be lost if he couldn't drive the interfering Dwarves off. What was the point of his supreme intellect devising grand schemes for the advancement of Skavendom, if his minions weren't capable of carrying them out? He chittered with delight as the Stormvermin rallied - of course, pointing his staff in their direction might have had something to do with it. He screeched at the Doomwheel to charge the Ironbreakers - but the idiot driver ignored him and piled into the Cannon! This would not do - and the Seer pushed more Clanrats in front of him, his mind working overtime to work out an escape route.
Out of sight, the Plague Monks again failed their charge against the Irondrakes, and two were incinerated by the flames of their drakeguns. It wasn't a good day to be a bacteria!
The distracted Seer again failed to harness the winds of magic, with a dismal 4 dice vs 2. He cast Death Frenzy again on the Clanrats, miscasting yet again and losing three wizard levels in the process - only Howling Warpgale was left. Again, we forgot the end of turn casualties from Death Frenzy - but the Grey Seer's growing headache was enough of a pain.
The Jezzails and Warp Lightning Cannon (whose crew must have got tired of chewing up the scenery) ganged up on the Gyrocopter, blasting it to oblivion, to the relief of the near-sterile Plague Monks. The Mortar managed to take out two of the Quarrelers in the building. On the left, the Doomwheel attempted to zzzzzap the Cannon for no reason other than the sheer joy of it, but misfired - overheating the warpstone and invigorating the treadmill rats to zip around even faster - from now on the Doomwheel would move 4D6! The whole endeavour was rendered moot as the Doomwheel promptly ran over the unfortunate Cannon crew, bloody gobbets of dwarf flesh pinned to its spikes.
It was the final throw of the dice (sorry) for the Skaven, with the Doomwheel ploughing into the back of the Ironbreakers, while the Stormvermin flanked the Longbeards. The Plague Monks finally got to grips with the Irondrakes - albeit at the loss of another of their brethren.
Magic was an abysmal 2 dice vs 1, but the Grey Seer managed to cast the one spell he could still remember, Howling Warpgale, to ground the remaining gyro. Unfortunately, this impacted the Jezzails' shooting, and they missed the Gyrobomber entirely, while the Doomwheel could only manage a puny S2 zzzaap, which failed to wound the hardy Ironbreakers.
In combat, the Plague Monks found their efforts hindered by the heavy winds - were they being blow-dried now? They killed two of the hated Irondrakes, but lost two in return - the Dwarves held on.
In the massive five-way combat in the middle, the Doomwheel only scored two Impact Hits, killing just one Ironbreaker. Between the rest of the Skaven attacks, three more Ironbreakers and two Longbeards were killed. This wasn't looking like it was enough....
Furgil struck back, revealing his hitherto unrevealed Rune of Might to smash two wounds from the Doomwheel, enraged by the loss of his artillery crew, bits of whom were still stuck to the wheel. Eight more Clanrats and a Stormvermin were killed - the Skaven had lost the combat, but held on, though no longer Steadfast. It's worth noting we forgot to take a Fear test for the Ironbreakers, though LD10 re-rollable should have seen them through.
Victory was at hand for the Dwarves, and they took full advantage. The Grudge Thrower took out another Jezzail from the tower, although the grounded Gyrobomber's shooting was less accurate, missing the Warpfire Thrower. Thankfully, the Quarrelers were on hand to pincushion it with bolts.
The Plague Monks killed another Irondrake to leave just four left - but lost a monk to reduce them to ten; the Dwarves had lost the combat but were not going anywhere - they would fight to the last!
In the deciding combat, the Skaven only managed to kill a paltry single Ironbreaker and Longbeard in total, Furgil smashing the Doomwheel to kindling in return, and nine further rats hewn to pieces. A crushing defeat, the game was finally up for the Grey Seer, who hightailed it out of there, followed by the few remaining Clanrats and Stormvermin. The Skaven had conceded the battle, and victory was to the Dawi!
I obviously really enjoyed this game - I felt things went to plan for once, and my army selection and deployment worked out well. Having said that, Westy did get very unlucky with his magic rolls - but that's the risk you take when you rely on magic. Similarly, his WLC had a couple of misfires, but then it's around half the cost of equivalent Dwarf warmachines so you can't expect the same reliability. He might look to invest in another WLC - I think they work better in batteries.
I think the breath weapons were fun gimmicks, and a useful backup if either Thane had been in combat with the HPA, but probably aren't worth taking regularly. The Grudge Thrower failed to deliver as I'd hoped, but then my artillery usually struggles with the Storm Banner. I'm still hoping that one day the Gyrobomber and Grudge Thrower will get a solid hit that wipes out most of an infantry block - that's really what they're there for.
Furgil picked listlessly through the remains of the battlefield - the Seer had escaped again, and many Dawi had died. But perhaps this time it had been worth it - the crushing victory should keep the Skaven down for the coming months, long enough to persuade the king to mount an expedition against their warrens, to rid the Appucini Mountains of the Thaggoraki, once and for all. For too long had the Dwarves cowered in their holds - now was the time for a reckoning.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below letting us know your thoughts on the battle!