Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Short History of the Dwarven Kingdoms - I

Total Warhammer!

Finally, after what seemed like the whole of my adult life, the computer game adaptation of Fantasy battles 8th ed has arrived. Painting commissions have netted me the High King edition, that comes with a whole bunch of bonus nonsense. So sitting next to my faux pewter Dwarven Tankard and wearing a Grudge Ring on a leather thong round my neck, I immediately got stuck in.

Way of the Beard

By previous arrangement, my first stab at the game will be playing as Dwarves*. There's a choice of five races in-game right now, the others being Greenskins, Vampire Counts, Empire and Chaos. Brettonnia is in the game but they haven't finished the roster yet, leaving them in the same awkwardly incomplete state that they were in 8th ed. Kind of appropriate, really.

The campaign opens with a nice explanatory video, featuring a gyrocopter scout buzzing home through the Underway with news of stirring greenskins. If the whole of the Old World is riddled with tunnels large enough to fly helicopters through, I'd expect more potholes. 

Each race has a choice of two Legendary Lords to lead them in battle, and I'm going with gruff Lancastrian Thorgrim Grudgebearer. My mission is twofold - not only must I reunite the scattered dwarf holds and rebuilt the former glories of the Dawi, I must also settle all the blood debts in the great Dammaz-Kron, the Book of Grudges.

Now that's an Armchair General.

Easy, right?

This isn't a review (I'll get to that later), and I'll assume you know a little of Total War games and their mechanics. But just in case you don't, here's a swift primer. 

The game works on two levels - a grand strategic map of the Old World, on which you move your armies and develop your cities in the way you might in a board game. Turn by turn, you attempt to conquer the regions of the world in the style of Risk, only with city-building a la Civilisations thrown in. 

When your armies clash, you can either click a single button for resolution, or play it out in real time on a zoomed-in battle map. This looks like a high-res, animated game of WFB where the scenery is perfect, the armies are all fully-painted, everything adheres to Lore and the armies can be thousands strong. Fantasy fantasy battle, is what we're saying here.

Dwarven faction traits and overview. Grumpy isolationists in underground fortresses, just as you'd hope!


The game kicks me off with a swift starter battle to teach you the controls. A massive dwarven throng kicks the ass of an even larger greenskin army in short order. No pun intended, but unforgivable all the same.

Park me nearer the fight, lads, I can't reach 'em from up here.

As the last dregs of these savages flee the field, the action zooms out to Karaz-a-Karak, the Everpeak. My campaign starts here, it's the only hold I've got.

High King Grudgebearer loafs outside in his big golden recliner, leading a smallish army containing three units of dwarven warriors, two packs of miners, two of quarrellers and a lone Hammerers unit. Each of them about 75 strong, and thus larger than any tabletop army I've ever seen. A good 3000 points, I'd guess, as it's led by a named character, even if the units are fairly standard and un-buffed.

And in his book, there is currently but a single grudge - wipe out the grobi scum we've just beaten off. Led by an orc warboss called Gnashrak from the Bloody Spears tribes, the survivors have consolidated and are raiding our lands over to the east.

It's just an elaborately carved mountain fortress decked with dwarvish statuary and burning braziers thousands of feet across. Not much, but it's home. 

Our lands aren't much right now. This particular region of the Old World, The Silver Road, is split into three counties - Everpeak itself, along with The Pillars of Grungni and Mount Squighorn. Those other two are both in the clutches of the greenskins right now, and if I want to get the most out of the territory, I'll need all three.

To the north, Zhufbar sends me a gruff acknowledgement when I send messengers. To the West, the Eastern Border Princes, although before that lie the dwarves of Barak Varr. They're much better disposed to me, and quickly agree to a military alliance. Attack one of us, the other will join (unless they chicken out and betray the pact).

To the south, the Badlands, and an endless array of dusty orc tribes.

They can wait. Bloody Spears first, and the unification of The Silver Road. Our first (and currently only) grudge is to defeat the army of Gnashrak, so we begin!

Look for the Silver Mining

Gnashrak is conveniently parked nearby, what with being part of the early game tutorial. The High King's Throng descends belligerently upon him like an az dropped on a naked toe.

There's 571 of us and only 421 of him. I get wrist lock just thinking about painting it. 

It's a simple clash, infantry supported by missiles on both sides. What could possibly go wrong?

Tomorrow - Grudge Settlements!

*I know that they're only Dwarves in Tolkein, really, GW ones are supposed to be Dwarfs. But it just looks wrong to me. 


  1. Alas, my PC did not meet the requirements to play this game.

    Hot tears were shed, and I immediately entered the hard drive into the Book of Grudges.

    1. See, I had the same reaction back when the game was announced two years ago. And that's why I painted 170 space marines to fund the purchase of a new rig!