Thursday, 15 May 2014

Warriors of Chaos vs Skaven: Ugly Pug

Time to take the training wheels off these Chaos Warriors, I think.

I've been collecting and painting them for a year and a half, and they've never played a single match. This feels frustrating, to say the least.

Thanks to the UK's interminable processing time for any bureaucracy, I wouldn't have been able to get to this year's 'Boot, I was waiting on a new passport. But the original reasons I couldn't make it (money and being in a sitcom) turned out not to be valid come the actual week. I got an unexpectedly large tax return, and the director postponed the filming for three weeks five days before it was due to start.

I'm not a patient man, sadly. I just couldn't wait any longer to unleash a tide of darkness upon the realm of mortals. So I entered into a pact with an entity whose very name is redolant with horror and corruption of the weak, and did something very few reasonable or sane men would contemplate.

I went into the local GW on their late opening night.

General Kraken - The Unbloodied

2000 points of WoC

Chaos Lord - Helm of Discord, additional hand weapon
Sorceror Lord - Lvl 3 Lore of Shadow, barded chaos steed
Sorceror - Lvl 1 Lore of Fire, Scroll of Shielding
15 Chaos Warriors - shields, full command, War Banner
25 Marauders - Mark of Khorne, light armour, flails, full command
25 Marauders - Mark of Tzeentch, light armour, shields, full command
15 Marauders - Mark of Nurgle, light armour, great weapons, full command
1 Chariot
1 Chaos Warshrine

"You can't field that," the store chap says. "It's too many points for the hobby night. Half it, there's a table free soon. These guys are nearly finished."

So before I've even started, I take a truckload of hits with no saves allowed.

General Kraken (revised) - The Unexpectedly Bloodied

1000 points of WoC

Exalted Hero - Additional hand weapon, Helm of Discord
Sorceror - Lvl 1 Lore of Shadow, Barded Chaos Steed
10 Chaos Warriors - shields, full command, Gleaming Pennant
15 Marauders - Mark of Khorne, flails, light armour, full command
15 Marauders - Mark of Tzeentch, shields, full command


General Ratbeard - Ratmass

1000 points of Skaven

Warlord - Warpstone armour, not sure what else
Engineer - Dispel scroll
Engineer - Lvl 2, Condenser
30 Clanrats, banner
30 Clanrats, banner
20 Stormvermin with halberds, full command
Poison Wind Mortar
Warp Lightning Cannon


It's a small table, a mere 4'x4', owing to the fact the store is full. They've got two full size tables, but they've split them both into several smaller fields (there are some very small armies playing here). It's very nicely painted, with hills at either end and a spotty row of various turrets along the middle. I get first pick, but it doesn't really make any odds.

I roll Mindrazor for my spell. Great! Except I'm almost never going to cast it with a lone level 1 wizard, so I swap it for the Mystifying Miasma. Might help bog the nippy skaven down, especially the boosted version. My opponent has twin Warp Lightnings (of course) and a Death Frenzy, which I don't fancy running into.

Without a particularly clear plan other than 'run in and smack things around', I stick with plonking a strong infantry line in the middle with the warshrine at one end within range of my general and the chariot and horseror as flankers on the other.

Ratbeard (not his real name) has his Stormvermin facing the Shrine end of my line with all the artillery on a hill behind it. The two clan rat packs, each containing an engineer, sit opposite my line. Rather oddly, his Warlord is sitting between them by himself, which is suspiciously un-ratlike. I wonder what hideous items might prove to be in his belt?

As if daring me to find out, I get first turn.

WoC Turn 1

This is pretty uneventful, as you might expect. The plan is to try and avoid the Stormvermin long enough to wipe out the clan packs. I don't really have a plan for the artillery other than crossing my mutant fingers - it deployed after my stuff, sensibly away from my fast flank.

Everything marches forward, with the sorceror hiding behind a tower on the left flank. I leave the shrine out in the open, hoping (foolishly) to bait the lightning cannon into chancing my 4+ ward save. If not that, maybe the Stormvermin will come for me and I can run away from them, tying them up a bit.

I get both my spells off, at least (we're playing the official 2d6 Winds of Magic). One pack of rats gets -2 WS, BS, I and M until my next magic phase, and I begin the cycle of upgrades for my general. He gets an extra attack from the Warshrine, which is excellent. Now he has seven.

Skaven Turn 1

This is also fairly uneventful. The two clan packs shuffle vaguely forwards, making sure they won't be chargeable yet. The Stormvermin head for the Shrine, but no so far that they can't change their minds.

The magic phase sees both engineers hurling warp lightning, but unexpectedly at the Tzeentchian Marauders. I don't know why exactly. The smaller, more expensive WoC unit is heading straight for that lone general. Maybe he knows something I don't. I don't like it.

Neither do the Marauders, although in losing two of their number, they only take one more wound than the engineers do. Hurrah for expendable skaven and their crazy contraptions. The shooting phase is similarly self-destructive - the poisoned wind mortar misfires a shot wildly, hitting nothing at all. The cannon also takes aim at the Tzeentchians, so I'm really confused, but their ward saves throw off the damage.

WoC Turn 2

Well, we keep on trucking. The chariot and sorceror are in position for a good flanking charge next turn, and the Tzeentchians ought to be able to fix the front. The Khornates likewise, although it's going to leave their flank open to the Stormvermin. The shrine doubles back to support the general, because there's not a lot else it's going to do well.

I get another attack for the general in the magic phase. It dawns on me just how powerful this thing can be - the spell casts on a 4+, and with three dice to roll you can really cherry pick the good results. I fail to get the Miasma off, though.

Skaven Turn 2

The Stormvermin reform, ready to lance into my flanks. But that's about it, the rest of them scuttle around in place. Except for the engineers, who both leave their units and stay just behind the general instead. I really don't like this.

All the magic and arty fire zeroes in on the WoCs now. Half of them die, fried or jolted or baked in their armour. If that had been the first turn as well, they'd be gone now. What the hell is that Warlord packing? Why didn't I ask to see the army list in full?

At least the level one engineer manages to wipe his own mind clear of wizarding ability in the process. Well, that's something.

WoC Turn 3

Well, we're in position, so there's nothing else for it really. Everything except the Warshrine charges in, and everything gets there. Here we go.

An interesting point in the magic phase - can a mindwiped wizard use a dispel scroll? He can't buy one if he has no wizard levels, but there's not a clear wording we can find to say what happens if he's already got it. Common sense says no (insofar as that's a Warhammer thing), sporting manners says 'let the dice decide'. So my boosted miasma is dispelled. But at least my General gets an extra point of armour save.

I go from right to left for combat resolution.

The Khorne marauders utterly maul their opponents. To be fair, his rolls aren't great, but nothing awful. Mine are good, and with a -9 penalty to Ld, even the ratmens' strength in numbers isn't a lot of help. They outrun me by that one crucial, cowardly inch, but the marauders are safely out of the stormvermin's charge arc.

I should have taken the general-on-general combat first, as if I can kill the Warlord, there's a good chance the rest of the rats will go straight home. What horrors is he packing?

Well, I never get to find out. He fails the Ld test the Helm of Discord forces on him, and sits inactive in the face of my 7 attacks. Five of these kill him, and I gain another attack as a reward. One of the engineers legs it (the functioning one), but that's it. Distinctly anticlimactic.

Amazingly, the clanrats on my left hold steady when the general dies. That's it for them, though, they chip the Tzeentchians a bit before disintegrating. I've won, despite some really lame rolling from the chariot. So far so good, but my flanks are a bit wide open to stormvermin and artillery interference right now, and it's not game over yet.

Skaven Turn 3

And sure enough, they come rolling straight in, hitting the lone standard bearer on the end of the WoC rank. Which is bad, having to take on that many halberd rats by yourself, but we're Chaos. We don't complain. The fleeing skaven all happily make it off the table and home for bed.

No magic, everyone's either fleeing or mentally vacant. The mortar misses, the cannon kills a stray Khorne marauder.

The Stormvermin fail to kill that lone standard bearer. He kills two of them for their troubles, which is hilarious, but I still lose by a way. My general runs, despite having all those extra attacks, and the Stormvermin overrun into the flank of the Tzeentchians.

WoC Turn 4

As my general rallies, the chariot moves to back the Khornates. They reform, gnawing their flails and facing the artillery line. The sorceror charges the remaining engineer, the warshrine attacks the side of the Stormvermin and the magic phase is short and pointless. The mindwiped engineer dies moments later, gifting the sorceror an extra point of toughness as he does. I like these rules.

Impressive though a warshrine might be in a buffing capacity, it's naff all use in a fight. It loses two wounds and deals none. The vermin and marauders scuff each other up a bit, but it's not enough for me - we're all fleeing.

Luckily, the Stormvermin stuff up their pursuit, so they don't crash into my newly reformed general.

Skaven Turn 4

Now, however, they do.

The shooting phase is dramatic. The cannon pulls off a superb shot - it hits three units, two of which deliberately, with a S10 hit. Three Khornate marauders die, the chariot survives with a miraculous single wound and three Stormvermin get exploded from behind. Then another two of them die when I get to reposition the mortar shot. This is good, he's killed more than twice as many as I have.

My general casually slaughters four stormvermin, his minions another. The rats reply with a good clean single kill, but with their ranks and charge, it's a draw. This could easily go south any moment, the Stormvermin are a nasty and tenacious unit. Disgustingly OP as my WoCs are, there aren't enough to hold off a unit that size forever.

WoC Turn 5

Khorne's marauders charge the cannon, the chariot goes for the mortar. The sorceror wheels, hurling a boosted Miasma into the Stormvermin for a -2 penalty to everything. The Tzeentchians don't rally, the shrine does.

Endgame time.

Literally, in fact, as the store staff call time and chuck everyone out. Huh.

My opponent graciously concedes - probably a fair call, but you never know for sure.

Late Results

Well, I've won! And I've gotten out and about with The Hobby for the first time in Sweden, something I've dithered over for a long time. The language barrier, the not knowing anyone - it's quite offputting. I was very nervous heading out.

In some ways, I shouldn't have been. 'Ward Save', for example, is 'Ward Save'. They learn and play the games from the English. I proudly stick to mangled Swedish all evening, and his very good English bridges any gaps. It was a good game, I've finally fielded the WoCs and they performed very effectively.

But here's the thing.

I'm the oldest person in the store by a good ten years, I reckon. Ratbeard (not even his real alias, or reflective of his polite and cheerful countenance in the face of his second loss this evening, he tells me) does have more facial hair than me, but he's probably not much over twenty.

That first half hour of standing around waiting for a table? Longest and most embarrassing I've had in a long time.

Somebody's dad came to pick them up and gave me an extremely suspicious look. Burning with inward horror, I asked the store bloke if any players my own age were likely to be in. Not likely, was the gist of what he told me. Possible, but not likely. The moment of pride I have on unleashing the Warshrine (everyone in the store rushes over to look at it) is undermined by what they're all asking. "What is that thing meant to be?" they ask. "Are you playing Bretonnians?" they add. "Are you actually a pervert?" is what that parent is thinking.

Sometimes you can only see the size of the rock you live under when you crawl out of it to take the air.

Feeling very much like a elderly nerd, I couldn't really claim to take much pride in my victory. A PUG, in computer game parlance, is a Pick Up Group. It's what the random match-ups the internet generally deals you are called, in games where you can opt for such things. They're riddled with one-sided battles (l33ts v noobs), massive rages and generally unsatisfactory experiences. I'm fairly used to them, as so few of my friends play computer games regularly it's what I'm reduced to if I fancy a match of an evening. This was much more genial, but even so - it's a hollow experience, and the VPs gained are more than outweighed by the LPs.

But there must be Olderhammerers around here somewhere, I can smell them.

Dismayed but not daunted, I take the store's offer of some leaflets for other gaming clubs locally. First blood, but definitely not the last.


  1. Battle report and a narrative - double treat. Nice that the Unbloodied finally got bloodied, bittersweet though it may have been, and getting chucked out before close of play is just wrong. Some questions about the game:
    1)Your chariot seemed to be speeding about - is there a rule that lets Chaos chariots march, or is the diagram just misleading about how far it went?
    2) Was there a reason why your general couldn't 'make way!' and replace the flanked standard bearer?
    3) So the GW staff didn't kick you out for fielding unofficial models?

  2. 1. Chariots can't march? Oops. I guess it should have been flanking the clanrats from the front, then. Given that it did nothing in the fight, this wouldn't have made a great deal of difference; the sorceror would still have contributed the extra point for a flank charge.
    2. Yes. I forgot he could do that.
    3. No! Nor did they comment on them at all, in fact, which might have been a discreet silence. A ten-year-old said they looked really good, though, so that was nice.

    1. If they'd questioned your models, you could have always played the seniority card: "Oh, these are from the '80s, you may not know them..."

      Good luck in your quest for Oldhammer opponents. And if you're ever up for a SkypeBoot, I'm game to try.

    2. It struck me, using Battle Chronicler to do the report last night, that it might make for a reasonable tool to have a Play By Email match. You could send the save game back and forth, rolling by some mutually agreed method. Slow but effective?

    3. I had a similar thought when I first used Battle Chronicler, but it's difficult to place units accurately enough to play a proper game - I use it for quick 'this is what it roughly looked like' diagrams. God forbid anyone should use it for charge arcs.

      Regardless of method, you'd also need a live channel for rules checks ("can chariots march?") and those all-important rules disputes ("those chariots CANNOT march!").

    4. Very true. Well, I'm definitely up for a match, so we should try and figure out the specifics!