Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Short History of the Dwarves - II

Look for the Silver Mining

Part two of a blogged description of my first Total War: Warhammer campaign, playing as the Dwarfs!

The grudge has been called, the grobi scum must die. Fight time!

This is my first actual fight in the campaign. The starter battle was a quick and cinematic show-off, giving me pre-picked and highly experienced troops in a one-sided romp. This time, even if the kid gloves aren't quite off, it's my fight to lose.

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. 

After seeing this preview of what to expect in the coming fight, we cut to the battlefield. The dry soil of the high passes is uneven and spotted with pines, with a pair of deep depressions across the centre of the field.

Deployment - I'm in yellow, the orcs in red. 
Here we are zoomed in to enjoy the action. As pleasant a stretch of sundried highland as I've ever slaughtered an orc on.
In many ways, it's just like the tabletop. I can stick my units anywhere the terrain allows within the deployment zone. My miners have vanguard deployment, however, so they can go pretty much anywhere. And also hide in forests, so I decide to use that. A strong line of dwarven infantry, missiles all down one end, and the miners ready to spring the trap and hit the orcs in the flank once they close.

My plan goes awry straight off the bat - I've underestimated how slow dwarves are. The miners are in a lovely place to spring their ambush, but only if the orcs politely wait just in front of the main force for about ten minutes. Plodding, that's about the best the burly diggers can do.

Luckily, I don't need to worry too much. The greenskins are about fifty-fifty archer and melee troops, led by their warboss. He's a unit to himself, much like Thorgrim and the La-Z-Boy of Power. I outnumber them, and more than half of them are missile troops? We all know how good greenskins are at shooting. Piece of cake. 

Sure enough, the incoming orc warriors take a battering from hurled grudge rocks and quarrels on their way in. Enough that my infantry line give them a good hiding and send them on their way. But I learn several lessons in the course of the fight, enough that I know I'm going to have a tough campaign ahead of me. 

And everybody said "Sit down! Sit down, you're rocking the boat!"

Lesson one is that the High King isn't quite as tough as I thought. That intro battle featured him at maximum experience, full of buffs and tricks. Here, he loses about two thirds of his health to Gnashrak before chasing the orc off. He doesn't even have any magic items yet, although he does earn a Razor Banner from the fight.

Lesson two is that dwarf speed is a problem. Not just from the failed plan, not just from the fact that Gnashrak manages to escape his final justice by legging it, but from the damned greenskin archers. Yes, my crossbows can cut them to pieces, but only by focussing fire. 

There they go - white banners hang over broken units, like shameful laundry.

Which is exactly what the arrer boyz have done to my melee line, and heavily armoured though they are, 150 archers nibble away at your lineup. More than half my casualties are caused by missile fire, and there's precious little I can do about it - chase them, and they run happily away before turning and firing another few volleys. Seeing exhausted dwarf units panting haplessly across the dry valley being peppered with badly-made arrows is a grim sight. 

Lesson three is that the dwarves are just as grim and resolute as I hoped. The orcs manage quite good pack charges, inflicting plenty of damage on impact, but they can't grind us down. The dwarves just stand and take it, then send them packing. Leadership is one troop stat the computer game plays very faithfully to - the orcs keep breaking, reforming and coming back in lesser waves. The Dwarves can take an absolute battering, but they very rarely run from trouble.

So far so good! Grudge settled, which gets me money in the bank. More importantly, it keeps the people of the holds happy. Or whatever the dwarven equivalent of happy is. Quietly stoic. For every turn I leave a grudge un-settled, I get an increasing grumpy population. Too unhappy, and I get rebellions. 

A new grudge is immediately opened, to keep me busy - this time, it's to take back the Pillars of Grungni, the next settlement on the Silver Road. Currently, it's covered in the garbage of a greenskin infestation. 

Luckily, there aren't many of them. A brief and exhilarating scrap in the snow leaves the orcs crushed as they attempt to charge my line. The Pillars are soon cleaned up and back in my rightful hands. 

There's another grudge too, however, which is to find and kill Gnashrak for his earlier crimes (existing with intent, I think). He's alive, but he's buggered off, tunnelling under the mountains to the north and currently out of my reach. 

Not long afterwards, I've wiped out the pitiful garrison at Mount Squighorn and taken it for my burgeoning empire. I also rename it Deephall Clough, because that's a deal more dwarven than anything squiggy.

Here we are - end of turn three, and the Silver Road is Dwarven again!

Owning all three regions in the Silver Road allows me to declare an edict. I tell the dwarves to get busy increasing the population by whatever means necessary, as in order to boost the size of the city (thus getting me better troops and more money), I need a higher population. With dignified nods of accord from their earthy owners, granite prophylactics are discarded all along the valley. 

A few buildings get erected in honour of this moment. Barley fields to brew beer, a gem pit for wealth. Increased town holdings for the two lesser settlements, which brings in more income but alos allows them to grow faster still. If I get a big enough population boost, I can upgrade Karaz-a-Karak to a size where better troops like Longbeards and Grudge Throwers will be recruitable, rather than my starting line-up of core. 

Whaddya mean? We aren't good enough for the whole campaign? Down tools, boys. Also, some beer.

Finally, a quest opens up to the north. Something to do with gyrocopter scouts - a potential trap, apparently, but if I cautiously send Thorgrim to investigate, he could bring home a powerful magical item. He's already picked up a Banner and a copy of Strollaz Rune, which I can grant to whichever units I want in his army before a fight. Armour piercing quarrellers and a unit of Hammerers who can vanguard with the miners, then. Excellent!

And that's the end of my good luck. 

Tomorrow - The Big Names

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed by the graphics on that unit of Miners - they almost look real!