Thursday, 9 July 2015

War of the Triple Crown: Chaos Civil War

"Faster, you imbecile! The skulls won't load themselves!" Cogar snarled.

The tiny cabin of the Iron Daemon was cramped, sweaty and dangerous. It wasn't just the heat from the open mouth of the furnace. You had to watch that an adhesive, coal-black tongue wouldn't impatiently lash out and drag you in. Their skullshovels were heavily bladed for good reason. 

Nels, the engineer, snarled back as he flung another bony load into the fire. "I'm going as fast as I can, dunderhead! If you'd build in that automatic loader, we wouldn't be having this problem!"

"If Spinebreaker wanted to have an automatic loader, he'd have told you to build one!"

"Oh, now we're worrying over what Spinebreaker wants, are we?"

"Just shut up and shovel!"

The Iron Daemon was screaming down the tracks that led away from Javaric Spinebreaker's forge fortress, Durumant.

Away, because they were trying to get as far as they could before the Sorceror-Prophet realised his purchase was missing. And screaming because the mad sorceror had bound a daemon into the machine. Cogar couldn't really complain about that part, it was a well-established practice. Not his personal choice, he preferred to be fully in command of a thirty-ton death machine before getting in the driver's seat. He hated it when they started steering back.

But Javaric had decided not to pay for the commissioned war engine, and begun his modifications on it whilst simultaneously dropping Cogar and Nels naked into the slave pens. If his hope had been that the miserable hobgoblins would tear the hapless Dawi Zharr to pieces, he'd been mistaken. Obedience was bred and beaten into the crooked greenskins. It hadn't been straightforward exactly, but they'd organised an effective, if improptu, slavebreak. It had proved to much for Spinebreaker to deal with during the Iron Daemon's binding ritual.

Now they were free. Temporarily, at least. The clanking carriages of the train were heavily loaded with the deadly artillery Cogar and his fellow Daemonsmith had wrought for Spinebreaker. They were also weighed down with more than a hundred hobgoblins. Across the spiked roofs of the train, the greenskins hung like mutant gooseberries. They weren't making good time.

And there were several hundred leagues of scarred badlands ahead that they needed to cross before any safety would be forthcoming. Cogar stared out through the forward porthole, looking at the blackened landscape and the tracks that stretched off into the distance, winding through savage-looking rocky tors. It was going to be touch and go. But he would get there. He would see her again.

Wait, was that...?

"Hashut dammit!" Cogar screamed. 

"What?" Nels screamed back, trying to make himself heard over the warbling howl of the engine. 

"Look!" Cogar bellowed, grabbing Nels by the beard and dragging him to the porthole. 

"By his Black and Braided Beard!" shouted the engineer, horrified. "We're screwed!"

A massive spiked signal house jutted from an outscrop just ahead. As the Iron Daemon clanked round a slow bend towards it, they could clearly see the runed warning symbols sliding up around the rails. 

There was a bridge ahead, crossing a sludge-filled trench. Beyond the warning signs, the bridge was being raised. And a pack of armed dwarven guards were trooping out of a cavern mouth nearby, the reddish badlands light glinting on their fireglaives. 

"I forgot!" Cogar groaned. "I forgot about his border guards!"

"You bloody idiot!" Nels yelled, slapping him with the flat of his skullshovel. "What are we going to do now?"

Drive through the Red Light!
It's All-Skype Fight Night!

Welcome back, WoffFans, the civil wars continue in the War of the Triple Crown.

They do indeed! I, Kraken, am here in italics to command a renegade host of Chaos Dwarves. Against a chaotic host of renegade Dwarves, just so you can tell us apart. 

This is my first fight in the Triple Crown. To the surprise of no-one, I'm taking the Chaos Superlist. The rough plan is to start with all the mighty cannons I can buy and then desperately try and replace all the useless goblins that come with them with decent troops at a later date. 


The Sun Has Got Hashut On

  • Javaric Spinebreaker Sorceror-Prophet (Lvl4 Death – Spirit Leech, Fulcrum, Soulblight, Doom & Darkness, Fate of Bjuna, Purple Sun) - Dragonhelm, Talisman of Endurance on Lammasu (Lvl 2 Shadow – Melkoth, Steed of Shadows, The Withering)
  • Nartag Anklebiter Sorceror-Prophet (Lvl3 Hashut – breath of hatred, fulcrum, Burning Wrath, Dark Subjugation, Ash Storm) - Dispel Scroll, Talisman of Preservation, Ironcurse Icon
  • 29 Infernal Guard - full command w/Razor Standard, Fireglaives
  • 3 Bull Centaurs - musician, std w/Banner of Swiftness, Great weapons, shields
  • K’daai Destroyer

I found it quite difficult to cram get in what I wanted to in to this list and imagine it would be even harder with some guns to choose from.

The thought of having a magic casting mount was too good to miss, and a ld10 death caster with spirit leech sounded good (although less so against my mirror match). With my enjoyment of the magic phase, I could not pass up my opportunity to play a new magic lore, and so a second prohpet was taken for Hashut.

I only had one core choice, and so by the time I had that loaded up, and added the fun-sounding destroyer, I had to balance out min three units with core spend and magic items to fit everything in. The three centaurs were the cheapest unit I could add to bring me to three (that I had available to me).

All Aboard the Dark Train

  • Cogar Wryback, Daemonsmoth Sorceror and General - (Lvl 2 Death - Spirit Leech, Purple Sun of Xereus, Soulblight) - Talisman, Armour of Fortune, Scroll of Shielding, Ensorcelled Hand Weapon
  • Nels Trackscar ,Daemonsmith Sorceror  - Lvl 2 Metal - Searing Doom, Transmutation of Lead, Final Transmutation) - Dispel Scroll, Blackshard Armour, Potion of Speed, Ensorcelled Hand Weapon, Pistol
  • Green Gawdoun, Hobgoblin Khan - Sword of Striking, Giant Wolf, Hand Weapon, Light Armour, Shield, Spear, Throwing Knives
  • Djeymz the Red, Hobgoblin Khan - Relic Sword, Hand Weapon, Light Armour, Shield, Throwing Knives
  • Little Tormass, Hobgoblin Khan - Sword of Might, Hand Weapon, Light Armour, Shield, Throwing Knives
  • 60 Hobgoblin Cutthroats - Full command, additional handweapon, light armour, throwing knives
  • 20 Hobgoblin Cutthroats - Bows, light armour, shields, throwing knives
  • 20 Hobgoblin Cutthroats - Bows, light armour, throwing knives
  • Iron Daemon War Engine - Hellbound, Skullcracker
  • Magma Cannon - Steam Carriage
  • Dreadquake Mortar - Slave Ogre
  • 9 Hobgoblin Wolf Riders - Full Command, Bows, light armour, shields
  • 5 Hobgoblin Wolf Riders - Bows, light armour
Well, you take Chaos Dwarves for the war machines, that's always been what I've heard. Splitting the army book means that all the good infantry is elsewhere. This list is going to have to score some lucky early shots with the nasty array of massive guns its got, then hope that the choo choo train doesn't make an unscheduled stop at Purple Sun junction. 

I have a vague suspicion I may have Leadership issues as well - the Daemonsmiths have contempt for the hobboes, meaning they'll be scuttling about by themselves. Very slowly, they're dwarves. All the same, I have high hopes for a very fun match. 

The sheer amount of cutlery the hobgoblins can put in the air may eventually pay dividends, and it's only going to take one good Mortar shot to make an expensive dent in the Lammasu Rider. Pitted against that, however, is a strong triple threat: 

  1. the K'daai Destroyer, against which everything I have except the Iron Daemon is going to be utter toast 
  2. the terrifying flying general who can tear my infantry to shreds without any effort at all 
  3. The Lore of Hashut, which I reckon is a nasty thing to be on the wrong end of, i.e. where I am


An experimental deployment to represent the anvil and hammer situation Cogar and Nels are in. I'm setting up in the middle of the table, and Kas is going to split his force. At least one unit must be on opposite short table edges, but he's got a free choice apart from that. 

The pale square in the middle is my deployment area

[Kas's thoughts will appear here in the fullness of time]

Trying to cover both sides would be tough. By keeping a unit covering each corner, I hoped to keep my gunline pounding away for as long as possible. Dreadquake shots could hopefully keep some of the enemy from ever closing, and the magma cannon would hurt at closer ranges.

I took a lucky guess in which direction the Iron Daemon was pointing, knowing that it was my best chance of dealing with the K'Daai Destroyer. The wolf riders would still have to try and redirect it, I suspected, and their Ld would make it a long shot. 

But it just might work...

The Game 

Hashut Turn 1

"Here they come!" yelled Cogar, pointing. 

Sure enough, the ranks of border guards were advancing slowly in tight order. It would take a while before they got in range, but that didn't matter. From behind them swept a trio of Bull Centaurs, hooks and spikes jingling in their heavy harnesses as they trotted towards the packs of goblins. 

"Swing the mortar round! Get the archers into ranks!" Cogar ordered. Hobgoblins sprinted about in all directions, lining up in surprisingly well-trained order. That's the fear of death for you, Cogar thought. Great motivator. 

There was an almighty bellow from behind him, an echoing metallic roar that reverberated down the valley like the eruption of a volcano. 

Cogar span. Emerging from a thicket of dried-up trees was a towering monstrosity, something like a winged ogre. Its teeth were hatchet blades, its skin plated with knives. Burning slag dripped from every crease and crevice of its firey frame, the trees were already starting to blaze as it crunched through them. 

"K'Daai!" Nels was screaming, shoving goblins into a row and thrusting their bows back into their worthless hands. "K'Daai destroyer!"

"Swing the mortar back round!" Cogar screamed. "Get the Iron Daemon off the rails!"

He sensed rather than heard the final threat arrive on the battlefield. 

Spinebreaker crested a final rocky ridge on the writhing wings of his Lammasu, a palpable aura of fear and menace preceeding him like a shadow. The hobgoblin spearmen quailed in fear as darkness and doom oppressed their minds. 

With a gesture, the mad prophet threw up a howling gale of ash and grit, all but blinding the nearest archers. And with a second, his frightful will gripped the mind of the creature bound inside the Iron Daemon. The train screeched and bucked on the rails as the controlling beast shuddered in agony. Rivets popped along the length of the boiler and red mist hissed from the holes. 

Javaric had come in person to reclaim his stolen possessions. His mount touched down lightly behind the Bull Centaurs, tendrils of weird energy swirling round it like a cloak.

"Swing the mortar back round again!" Cogar yelled. 

Train Robbers Turn 1

"Get those wolves out front! Screen the Iron Daemon!" Cogar yelled. 

The wolf riders willingly obeyed, yelling abuse in the direction of the blazing monstrosity. Craven? The hobgoblins hardly seemed it. Knowing their freedom was at stake, they seemed desperately keen to fight. Some were trying to convince the others to run, true. Cogar smiled as their fellows stabbed them into silence. Perhaps they had a chance. 

Howling ash was already covering the rear lines. "You lot, move up! Don't let the archers get overrun!" Cogar shouted, sending the bulk of the hobgoblin warriors scrambling to reform. Their willingness to obey he could understand. He was sending them further away from the K'daai Destroyer. 

"What about the rest of us?" Nels shouted to him, still panicked. 

"Fire!" Cogar shouted back. "Kill anything you can see!"

Nels grimaced, but obeyed. With a gesture, he sent a spray of blazing metal hurtling towards the oncoming Bull Centaurs. None of them fell. And Cogar could already feel the oppressive magical weight of Spinebreaker bearing down on him. A haze of whirling energy surrounded him and his freakish mount - they would be a big problem. 

Grunting with effort, Cogar knocked out the linking pin holding the Magma Cannon carriage to the Iron Daemon. The crew spun the huge spouted gun, directing a gout of smoking hot stone slurry over the Bull Centaurs. Still none fell - the hooved monsters were burned, but managed to jink out of the way of the worst of it. 

Behind him, Cogar could hear the twang of goblin bows. The Destroyer roared, an agonising sound. Turning, Cogar was amazed to see the creature leaking liquid fire from a damaged plate in its knee. Somehow, one of the murderous little bastards had hurt it! Most of the arrows merely glanced off the blazing statue or shivered to ash on impact, of course. But they were hurting it!

Then the Dreadquake coughed once, a surprisingly quiet sound from such a wide-bored gun. 

It was a perfect shot. Somehow, the arcing shell caught Spinebreaker's mount in midair. The explosion sent trembling pieces of the beast splashing to earth, the trappings and saddle ripped to shreds. 

The triumph on Cogar's face turned sour as he saw Spinebreaker emerge from the mounds of smashed meat, a cold blue fire flickering on an amulet round his neck. 

This was going to get ugly before it finished. 

Hashut Turn 2

The Bull Centaurs lowed as they charged. The ground shook. They slammed into the ash-blind hobgoblin archers like an anvil onto a naked foot. The greenskins that survived sprinted pellmell for their lives, and there weren't many of them. 

The K'Daai ran straight through the wolf riders in front of it, arms outstretched like scythes. The riders died to a hobgoblin, torn apart by the living statue or their own terrified mounts. The other, smaller pack of wolf riders were shot to pieces by the Infernal Guard. 

Cogar stammered over half a dozen potential orders before settling on one that might in some way influence this slaughter. "Swing the mortar..." he began. 

A dire presence settled over him, freezing his limbs and stilling his tongue in his mouth. 

Spinebreaker got his name from a particular incantation he knew. Cogar felt the vertebrae in his neck pop, shredding the nerves as black magic twisted them round in circles. His legs gave out beneath him, he tumbled to the ground helpless. 

Javaric was coming for him. 

Train Robbers Turn 2

Cogar reeled. Everywhere he looked, spirals of purple-black energy coiled over his sight. He could hear the battle, understand it. But his body did nothing despite the strongest exertions of his will. Damn you, Spinebreaker! he screamed, trapped in his own mind, lying paralysed in the centre of the fight.

The smouldering horror of the Destroyer thundered across the front of the battlelines, 

"There! There it is! Fire up the engine! Charge and destroy it!" Cogar raged. The Iron Daemon did nothing, merely shuddered in place. Perhaps Spinebreaker had already quashed the daemon locked inside it, or perhaps it had always served him and this entire escape was merely a cruel game. 

Perhaps the Destroyer wasn't quite standing on the rails. 

Cogar watched, helpless, as Nels fumbled the crucial lines of an incantation. As the Daemonsmith pointed at the Destroyer, molten metal spewed from its armoured hide, great chunks of its chest turning to slag under the effects of the Searing Doom spell. But more of the same metal also poured from Nels' fingertips, running down his arms and legs and igniting his beard. The Daemonsmith ran screaming across the ashy wastes, crumbling slowly to cinders as he ran.

Volley after volley of hobgoblin arrows pattered and burnt on the Destroyer. A fantastical array of shivs clattered against the armour of the Bull Centaurs, flung by the hobgoblin horde. A boiling torrent of lava from the cannon narrowly missed Spinebreaker as he trekked slowly, inevitably, towards the spot where Cogar lay.

Nothing. Not a single fatality. The escaped prisoners were too ill-equipped to deal with their elite guards. Only the continuing thunder of the Doomquake Mortar was a reassurance, hurling the Infernal Guard around like dolls. Could it be enough?

Hashut Turn 3

The K'Daai roared forwards into the prow of the Iron Daemon and swiped at it with one colossal cinderous paw. The engine rang like a bell, dented by the swipe, although the K'Daai fared little better. The impact had shattered part of its fist away, leaving a broken mess of metal that drooled lava. Hobgoblin archers ran hither and yon round the bawling monster, uncertain which direction was best to flee in. 

From his useless vantage point, Cogar could only hear the defiant cries of the hobgoblin Khans as the Bull Centaurs ploughed into the pack of slaves. The Khan called Little Tormass favoured blue woad and a mighty broadsword, he recalled vaguely. He heard the Khan's shout of "Freedarrgh" being cut short, probably along with the rest of the greenskin. The other Khan probably fared no better. 

Yet somehow, the fight continued. Fury against years of confinement and mistreatment kept the Hobgoblins fighting. 

Uselessly, of course. Nothing they did would do more than scratch the brutal Bulls. And step by step, Javaric was getting closer. 

Train Robbers Turn 3

The Destroyer siezed the front of the Iron Daemon in both claws, lifted it bodily off the rails and squeezed. 

The boiler broke, blood-infused water hissing away to steam as the blazing statue tore the engine apart. A notched wheel sprang away through the air, leaving smoke coiling behind it in a long black arc. With a last tortured shriek, the Iron Daemon fell silent. Then the Destroyer gave a final heave and the entire machine toppled sidelong off the rail. Cogar's body bounced gently as the ground shook under the impact. 

Some broken part of the train crashed down into the back of the Magma Cannon. The entire machine immediately exploded. Gobbets of burning stone sprayed heavily out of it, none going very far. The crew, of course, were far too close to escape, and all three of them were smothered by the red hot mix. 

If Cogar could have wept with frustration, he would. 

Hobgoblins ran hither and yon, desperately hoping to avoid the unstoppable onslaught of the K'Daai. Amidst the terror, somehow the hobgoblin horde managed to keep fighting. Their sheer weight of numbers seemed useless against the brutal Bull Centaurs, though. Nothing got through their armour. Knowing they would be slaughtered as an example to others if they were captured, they fought on with manic abandon.

Hashut Turn 4

Cogar was becoming dimly aware of a dull well of pain that contained everything from his neck down. His snapped neck stopped him actually feeling it, but knowing it was there all the same was almost as bad. 

The terrible screams of the hobgoblins as the K'Daai Destroyer rushed them from behind were awful. 

Train Robbers Turn 4


The mortar coughed out another groundbreaking shell, but Cogar couldn't see what they were firing at or even if they hit. All he could see was the rout of the hobgoblins and the burnt mess the Destroyer left in its wake. Even the fleeing archers paused, unable to do anything other than stare at the carnage. 

Spinebreaker was still advancing, slowly coming for him. Cogar knew it wouldn't be long now. 

Hashut Turn 5


There was almost no sound on the battlefield, from Cogar's own troops at least. The Destroyer still screeched and moaned, and the unified tread of the Infernal Guard was now audible as they advanced. 

Closer still.

Train Robbers Turn 5

Still closer - Spinebreaker was nearly there now. 

Cogar heard the shrill crack and whine of fireglaives, heard the terrified shouts of the Doomquake crew as they lashed their ogre slave, heard the panicky shrieks of the hobgoblins as they goaded one another to run faster. 

He didn't care. He just wished he could join them. The Destroyer was coming back, fire and smoke pouring from its cracked skin, the blood of crushed slaves burning off it like paint under a welding torch. Spinebreaker was sending it for him. He'd watch as the monstrosity tore Cogar's useless body apart. And he'd laugh. 

Hashut Turn 6

He was laughing, in fact. A humourless chuckle, little flakes of dry mirth peeling away from his charred mind. 

The crew of the Doomquake stood solidly at the sides of their gun, dropping their tools and preparing to submit to the Sorcerer's judgement. Their targets were all too close to hit, now, there was nothing else for them to do. 

Spinebreaker gave another soulless laugh, then beckoned to the blazing effigy of his Destroyer, commanding it to go and trample Cogar's body. 

It obeyed, turning and beginning that final, relentless approach.

Train Robbers Turn 6

The Destroyer took another earth-shaking step towards Cogar. Another. 

Even the ash burned at its approach, it seemed. Fire rippled up and down the length of the two-storey killing beast. Its very soul was fire, a living and burning torture that it existed purely to share, inflicting its own pain on any who dared to be free around it. 

Spinebreaker was here now, his black armour still spattered with the lifeblood of his mount. His impassive face, blank with madness, gazed down on Cogar's still body. There was no trace of any recognisable emotion there. Certainly not pity. 

This was the end. 

The Destroyer took another step, then groaned and fell apart. 

Nothing could withstand that fire and hatred. Not even its own frame. Whatever metal and stone skeleton Spinebreaker had forged for it, it hadn't been strong enough. In an ear-shattering cacophony, the monster broke into pieces, the trapped fury and heat escaping from the tortured edifice of its body in a pillar of bright fire. 

Even Spinebreaker seemed taken aback, if only for a brief second. Then he continued his slow advance to where Cogar lay. 

Standing over him, the sorcerer-prophet seemed impossibly tall. He'd woven screaming faces into his beard, faces that looked down on Cogar and mocked his terror. 

The battlefield was silent now, without the terrible screams of the Destroyer echoing across it. The last few hobgoblins had fled, the mortar was finally silent. There was only Cogar, cowering in the useless prison of his body. 

And Spinebreaker, poised to take his final revenge. 

The Results

Hashut win (I forget the points values, sadly! been a while since we played this, and the writeup got delayed for a host of reasons. But it was a pretty convincing win, as I'm sure you can tell)


"Where could you hope to flee?" Spinebreaker asked him. "Did you not know I would cross the world to crush anyone who defied me?"

Cogar tried to answer. Pointless, of course, he was still paralysed.

"I laid these tracks. They are mine. Yet still you thought they would lead you away. Foolish." Spinebreaker squatted on the barren ground by Cogar's head, batting his numb cheek with a bladed staff.

"Yet strange. Weak and incompetent, I judged you. Quite correctly. Your Iron Daemon proved worth the price I chose to pay for it. A toy compared to true sorcery.

"But I did not think you were a fool." Spinebreaker suddenly thrust his spiked stick downwards. Cogar quailed mentally, unable to move out of the way. But the staff merely stuck in the blackened turf, an inch away from his left eye. Spinebreaker slowly lowered his face to stare into Cogar's. His eyes were pink with madness, nearly without pupils and twitching back and forth like a pair of damaged pendulums on some demented clock.

"You will take me there, to wherever it was you thought to run. I will see what it is you thought would protect you from me, and I will make you watch as I burn it to ash. I shall pave the road with the bodies of these wretched greenskins you have thrown your lot in with. My guards will drive them to their deaths like cattle, and you will know each death was caused by your pathetic hope of freedom. And once you have seen all that, only then will I let you die," Spinebreaker said.

Deep down inside himself, Cogar thought of his daughter and screamed. 

Locker Room Chat

[Kasfunatu will rejoin this discussion shortly!]

That was good fun! The army performed well within my expectations of it. Not being tabled was a bonus. 

Hobgoblins are going to be good for redirecting, soaking damage and dying in vast droves. Against less viciously tough enemies, they could even swing a combat or two. Throwing knives are a nice surprise for chargers, for example. 

The war machines are just as juicy as legend reports. The Dreadquake particularly, the slowdown it creates is very nasty. I need to learn how to set up targets for the Iron Daemon, but I can feel its potential. I made a few foolish errors, like throwing flaming attacks at the K'Daai or not charging the Bull Centaurs with the Hobgoblin horde, but nothing game-losing. Except possibly gambling on a good roll for Spirit Leech with my general. I should at least have used his Scroll of Protection first. Ah well!

In terms of my campaign unit muster, I like the units I've already got. So I'm sticking with the Train Robbers list and taking 4 Muster Tokens. 

Lone Daemonsmiths need something to hide in, I feel, so one point is going on Infernal Guard. Tough, slow and shooty, they can form good core blocks that won't be murdered quite as easily as a sea of hobboes. 

For the other three points? Simple. Access to the excellent Lore of Hashut - the Sorcerer Prophet Javaric Spinebreaker will be joining my army! Or, well, technically just an identical looking guy. I'm unlocking the Sorcerer-Prophet option, but he's almost certainly going to stay more or less the same for fluff and giggles. 

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