Thursday 8 December 2016

A brief observation of casual Sexism and wargaming

I had been planning to write a blog post tonight, just not the one I am actually writing. I got slightly derailed by this.
It's an extract from a new book, "Tabletop Wargames – A Designers’ and Writers’ Handbook" by Rick Priestly and John Lambshead. It came to my attention thanks to the Dice Bag Lady on Twitter ( and Delaney King at It was then followed up by this extract.

Unsurprisingly, there was a certain amount of outrage expressed at the casual transphobia inherent in describing a transition from Male to Female as "enough to unsettle anyone" and the inclusion of "it" as a pronoun in the second section. Delaney King has already written a blog post on the subject here.

I have to admit that my immediate reaction was not as straightforwardly angry. I read both statements as crass attempts at humour rather than deliberately intending to offend. But I'm white and male and don't have to put up with this sort of thing on a daily basis. I'm certainly not going to criticise anyone for being angry about this. But there are a number of problematic statements and attitudes on display here.

Firstly, I want to take issue with the opening statement. Whilst it is true that wargaming is a male dominated hobby, I am not sure what about the use of gender neutral or female pronouns in rules renders that "painfully obvious." Where exactly is the pain here? I can't imagine any male gamer reading a rule book, coming across that the words "she" or "her" and thinking much more than "they're trying a bit hard." I suppose it's possible that someone might read such a book and hurl it across the room in disgust at the mere suggestion that women might invade their sacred space, but I think this probably represents a vanishingly small demographic. So where exactly is the pain? I can't see how any male wargamer could be seriously effected by the use of female pronouns.

This might invite the counter argument that if men can tolerate female pronouns, women can tolerate male pronouns. The problem with this is that it ignores the reality of the wargaming hobby. It is, as a matter of fact, male dominated, any visit to a wargaming show will bear that out, which can already be off putting to women gamers. While the use of exclusively male pronouns reinforces it, the use of at least some female pronouns challenges it. There is no requirement for a rulebook to perfectly echo the wargaming hobby. Why shouldn't it present a more inclusive perspective?

There actually seems to be some acknowledgement of this fact in the second paragraph that advise the writer to use the gender neutral term "the player" wherever possible. But this admitted begrudgingly, given the following statement that anything other than he/him is somehow incongruous. It may be technically correct that 'he' can be used neutrally, but it acknowledges that this isn't true in practice. Plus, it misses that the fact that 'he' was ever the default is itself a product of a male-dominant language

I'll concede the point that the use of "they" could be confusing in the context of a two player game in which you potentially have to distinguish between something both players should do or one player should do. But, I don't understand what is supposed to be so confusing or 'unsettling' about alternating between male and female in each paragraph. It might be odd in the context of an example of game play in which players were listed by name, but when the terms are being used in the abstract, I think most readers will be able to cope. If alternating by paragraph is so difficult, why not by chapter or, radical thought, just use she or her throughout. Or would that be too painful? While the statement that it is unsettling seems to only be there as a lead in to a crass joke.

Overall, the tone of the extract is unthinking male privilege. It acknowledges that rule books should avoid gendered pronouns were possible and then casually undermines it by operating on the basis that being male is simply the default and anything else is unusual. It offers no evidence for the claims that using female pronouns is 'painful' or that alternating is 'confusing' or 'unsettling' and then includes an outdated and crass joke about changing sex that adds nothing of value.

I haven't read any more of the book than this extract, so I don't anything about the quality of the rest of it but, based on this, it seems to be one to avoid.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Further Updates from Beyond the Ghar-ates of Antares

My Beyond the Gates of Antares project continues and I have no finished a squad of Outcasts. These are Ghar who have been thrown out of their battle suits as punishment for failure and are used as cannon fodder by the rest of the Ghar.

I hadn't originally planned to get any of these, wanting to focus on the rather lovely looking battle suits, but they do have their uses. They are very good at using up a few spare points. A basic squad costs only 43 points while a battle suit costs 60 and come in squads of at least three. That makes them a cheap way to give you an extra activation a turn. They also count as a Tactical unit, and as you need a minimum of two of these in even the smallest of armies, a cheap one is very useful.

Although I got them for pragmatic reasons, I have really come to love the models. They are absolutely full of character. Apart from the leader, all the troopers look terrified, clutching their weapons like security blankets or firing blindly in panic. I particularly like the one holding his gun over his head and not even looking where he is shooting. While the one riding on the disruptor cannon, has the smug expression of someone who knows he is slightly above everyone else.

The official outcast models have been painted naked, apart from their pants and a selection of metal extra bits. The metal bolts protruding from their backs were, presumably, to interface with their battle suits, while the wrist and ankle tags may have done the same, or be to keep them under control. They also wear metal collars, unsurprising, but more oddly, metal bands around their shoulders. I decided to treat these as sleeves and paint them wearing skin tight black T-shirts, this allowed me to keep them consistent with the army colour scheme.

These black "T-shirts" with the metal pieces protruding, they reminded of the black carapace that Warhammer 40K Space Marines use to interface with their power armour. This got me thinking. Hearing stunted creatures who hate everything and ride around in suits immediately made me think Daleks. But there is another comparison you can make.

The Ghar hate their enemies, live only for war and have no tolerance for failure. They are not aliens, but genetically modified humans, the result of experiments carried out by a long dead creator. They were power armoured suits and use weapons that, though effective, are archaic. Also, their main squad types divided into a basic type, and assault type and a heavy weapon type.

Am I the only one thinking that, with the Ghar, Rick Priestly may have been wriffing off one of his former employers most iconic characters?

With 500 points completed, I have, technically, reached my goal. I have enough points to play a basic game. But I have had so much fun with the Ghar that I couldn't resist one further indulgence.

The Ghar Command Crawler is a combination commander and vehicle, not something I have really used in any game before. The model is absolutely superb, as well as being a very well cast largely resin piece, I had enormous fun painting it.

I stuck mostly to the established army colours, but added some purple elements. I have been using purple stripes to identify my battle suit leaders, so it made sense to add the command colour to my Crawler. With him done, I can scrape together 750 points a side, but I don't think I'm going to stop until I hit 1,000.

Monday 24 October 2016

They're Ghar-eat

Not a lot of words in this post. Just a quick update with a few more pictures of my Ghar.

This second squad are standard Ghar Battle suits, equipped with claws and Disruptor cannon. They have quite more range, but are not quite as overwhelming up close.

 Squad leader with his Concord trophies and purple stripe on his gun arm

Ghar puts his claw in something soft and squishy

I got four of them in the Beyond the Gates of Antares starter set and have added one more from an extra box I bought. The two others from this box are being kept back for later use.

 Concord trooper loses his head

Ghar trooper has picked up an irritating parasite

In addition to the battle suits, I have also finished this small squad of Tectorists, unarmed, and slightly crazy, Ghar who act as scouts with their tector rods. When they get close to an enemy unit, they give other Ghar a shooting bonus, compensating somewhat for the fact that Ghar don't have spotter drones like most other armies.

I actually have about 500 points done now, which is enough for a small game, but have a few more bits and bobs I want to paint before actually playing. More new soon.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Ah.. Ghar on

So, I finished my first Ghar Assault squad for Beyond the Gates of Antares.

As with the Concord, I wasn't too keen on the official colour scheme. In the case of the Ghar, it looked good enough but didn't fit my idea of Ghar technology. The Ghar are a highly aggressive race of genetically modified humans, created to fight a war long since over. Compared to the other BTGOA factions, their technology is primitive and dangerous both to the Ghar and the environment. The relatively clean light grey of the official paint jobs didn't look right to me, I wanted something darker and grungier.

Assault Ghar teaches the Concord drones not to get too close

I've seen Ghar painted well in red or in plain metallic colours, but I ended up using the same colour scheme as I used for my Chaos Warriors; the bulk of the armour in black, with exposed metallic areas with ink washes to make it look dirty and corroded. I added some red to give a splash of colour.

The black areas are Vallejo black grey, highlighted with dark grey. The metal areas are Citadel boltgun metal with washes of Nuln oil, Agrax earthshade and Fuegan orange to dirty them up. The red areas are citadel Mechrite red with a bit of Evil Sunz scarlet highlighting and a small patch of Privateer Press Menoth white highlight, to suggest light.

Assault Ghar 2 puts his foot in it

I also wanted my Ghar to fairly dynamic, not just marching forward. So, with that in mind, I grabbed myself another box of plastic Concord troopers to use as modelling fodder. This was another reason to leave the Ghar until I had finished the Concord. I wanted to make sure I had the Concord colour scheme right before painting the ones the Ghar were variously smashing, stomping or eviscerating.

Assault Ghar 3 takes a little off the top

Sometimes I can't get a good picture of a how model will look until its finished, and this was definitely the case here. But I am very pleased with the results and its gotten me excited to finish off the project. I had meant to stop once I hit 500 points a side and could play a small game, but I think I'm going to have to go on and finish the Ghar command crawler.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Progress Report - Beyond the Gates of Antares

Since I finished my Siege Campaign I haven't been entirely idle. I have been working on the models from the Beyond the Gates of Antares starter set that I got back in November of last year. It's been less than a year since I got them which, for me, is a pretty quick turn around.

My plan is to get two 500 point forces done, which is the minimum size for a game, so I can give the rules a decent go. Depending on how well that goes, I may paint some more.

The starter set comes with two small forces, the Pan Human Concord and the Ghar Empire. It was the Ghar that drew me to the game. They're weird, little, angry, mutant creatures that go around in big battle suits. In contrast, the Concord are relatively normal humans in sci-fi armour.

Despite that, I started with the Concord, partly because they seemed easier and partly because I was less invested in the outcome.

 Squad 1 running

You actually get 750 points plus of Concord in the starter box, which is really quite silly good value. So I didn't need to paint the lot to get a game worthy force. But it felt dissatisfying to paint 3/4 of the models and so I pushed on and painted all four squads.

 Squad 2 running

You get four identical sprues of Concord troopers, each of which has four troopers, 1 medium-sized drone and two small spotter drones (both of which hover on flying bases). Rather than try to turn each sprue into one squad, I tried mixing and matching the pieces so that the poses came together more naturally. This left me with two squads running, one advancing and one standing and shooting. I also ended up with 1 squad of 3 support drones and one general purpose drone with a Subverter Matrix (a kind of scrambler).

 Squad 3 advancing

I was not a fan of the white and green colour scheme of the official Concord models, and ended up taking inspiration from the rulebook cover art, which makes them look more blue. I gave them all a spray of Army Painter plate mail metal, which I washed with Games Workshop Nuln Oil ink. The blue areas were Vallejo dark Prussian blue and field blue, with Games Workshop Asurmen blue wash and then highlighted in Vallejo Prussian blue and a mix of field blue and sky blue. The black areas were actually Vallejo dark grey with Nuln oil washes. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results.

 Squad 4 stand and fire

Despite me dismissing the Concord earlier as generic humans, their background is a bit more interesting. Concord society is made up of planets covered in a cloud of microscopic nano-machines that interface with the humans. This forms an artificial intelligence network made up of the collective needs and desires of all citizens. But this network also manipulates and controls humans at a subconscious level so they don't truly think for themselves. The result is either a truly democratic or completely tyrannical society, depending on how you look at it.

 Support Drones

In fact, the only element of the society with any kind of free-will is the army, which operates outside of the nano-cloud, forcing its soldiers to think for themselves to a limited extent. Generally when the Concord encounters another society, it spreads its nano-cloud to it and takes over, integrating them into itself. This only fails with life forms that are incompatible with the machines or which actively resist. So my collection really represents the fringe of Concord society, only used when the usual approach has broken down.

General purpose Drone with Subverter Matrix

Overall, the Beyond the Gates of Antares is less overtly dystopian than Warhammer 40,000, as well as being harder sci-fi, but maintains a level of moral ambiguity. The concord reminds me, faintly, of Iain M Banks Culture novels, in that its a huge, semi-utopian society, that conquers mostly through stealth and manipulation, including of its own population, but it is not a straightforward tyrannical empire like the 40K Imperium. I think I'm going to have fun dabbling in this universe.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

If you can't beat them join them?

Things have been a bit quite on the blog since the end of my siege campaign. I have actually been working on another project, but more about that when it's a bit further along. Today, I want to write about this...

The Warhammer: Age of Sigmar General's Handbook.

I've not played any AOS since my try out game some time back. I was naturally inclined to be hostile to it because I liked the old Warhammer rules and the old Warhammer world and didn't like it when Games Workshop threw them both out. AOS is such an overhaul of Warhammer that it is really a new game and I'm not looking to start any new games. On the other hand, my principle complaint about AOS had been the absence of points values which the Compendium addresses and, at only £15, it's pretty cheap for a GW publication.

If previous AOS books had focused on background material and lots of pictures with very little rules content, this is pretty much the exact opposite. It's basically all rules. The book attempts to introduce three different ways to play AOS. What it calls "Open play", "narrative play" and "matched play" and has sections for each.

There's actually surprisingly little of this

"Open play" isn't actually a new style, however. It's just AOS as it has been up to now, no points, scenarios, use what you like. This section of the book instead concentrates on multiplayer games with some new scenarios to suit. As Warhammer never quite ironed this out, it's good to see this. How effective the rules are, I'm not sure.

The narrative play section is focused on campaigns and story driven scenarios. It introduces some new, deliberately asymmetrical scenarios, such as one in which a whole army takes on a single monster or another which is basically a last stand. It also has a section on recreating the great battles of history.

The most interesting part of this section is the rules for campaigns. There are several differnt types described, including map-based, tree-campaigns (in which the outcome of one scenario effects the next played) and matrix (in which both players make decisions that effect the scenario to be played).

The most appealing part of this section for me, however, is the "Path to Glory" campaign. This describes a campaign based on choosing a warband lead by a champion and playing scenarios to win "glory points" which can be used to recuits new troops or improve the ones you have. It reads like a simplified version of the old "Realms of Chaos". Usefully, it also specifies that you can randomly generate your warbands or choose from any of the options on the random tables, allowing you to use the campaign either with an existing army or as the basis for building a new one.

 Good, but could we have few more unit options?

It's not all good, however. Not every faction is represented in the tables. I can understand why the newer ones would have been left out, but I'm not sure why there's no tables for the Seraphon. Also, all of the factions from the Death and Chaos compendium books are included, but for some reason Order and Destruction are not. So while I can use my old Undead and Chaos armies to build a warband, I can't do anything with my Dwarfs or Greenskins as only the Fyreslayers and Ironjaws are included. Hopefully, GW will put out some more tables online.

The final section, "Match Play" is the one that most people will be buying the book for. This includes some tournament rules and scenarios as well as a battle report. This is a nice touch and reminds me of the days when GW supplements used to repurpose White Dwarf content. Though, I believe this battle report was written solely for the book.

 So that's what a battle looks like

The tournament rules include some fun random tables of artifacts and traits giving you some ability to customise your characters, which is a nice touch. But the most important bit is the points section. This is a very comprehensive list that includes all the existing war scrolls and even the formations. It also includes all the units from the early compendium PDFs that GW put out, even for models that have been discontinued like the Bretonnians. The only thing missing is Forge World. Hopefully, they will follow suit and put out there own points list.

Finally the book includes the four page basic AOS rules, so you don't have to print them out or buy any other books to play.

The book isn't all good. One of the "historical" scenarios included is a ridculously oversized batttle between the forces of Chaos and Death. All the units in it are way over the top. To give an example, it includes a unit of 24 Varanguard which would cost £480 alone at GW prices. The battle is designed to be multi-player, but would still rely on several players each with large Chaos or Death armies to put together. If you going to include a large multi-player battle, why not one with more mixed factions so there is a chance that someone out there might actually be able to play it?

Can anyone play this?

But that's my one major complaint. Overall this is pretty good stuff, that expands the AOS rules in an interesting way without undermining the simplicity which was the essential selling point. I have a few quibbles, but nothing major. I'm not sure I'm going to be playing a lot of AOS in the future, but this book does make it a lot more likely.

Monday 8 August 2016

Warhammer Siege - Conclusion - The Final Assault - Part 2

Recap. Part one covered the first 3 1/2 turns. The Dwarfs had destroyed the Chaos Siege Tower and Forsaken with Artillery fire. But the Chaos Dwarfs had responded in kind, bringing down the dwarfs gate. The Dwarf Hammerers had seen off the Dragon Ogres, but were struggling against the Chaos Warriors and Chaos Lord Sundar Klash had slain the Dwarf Lord Durak Irongrim.

The walls either side of the gate had been assaulted and while Thane Zoe and her Thunderers were holding out, on the left wall, Runesmith Burgan Stonekin had been killed by a Giant and the Quarrelers were being overwhelmed by Chakram Manflay's Slaanesh-Worshipping Marauders.

Chaos Turn 4
With everyone else engaged, the Chaos Dwarfs moved closer to the wall. The Daemonsmith finally managed to cast a spell and dropped a fire ball on the already wounded Grudge Thrower, reducing it to 1 wound. The Chaos Dwarf artillery finished the job, taking the Grudge Thrower's last wound and destroying the Organ Gun.

On the ramparts, things were going slightly better for the dwarfs. Thane Zoe faced faced Skjalpi Bloodscream and killed him, throwing his body to the ground. The Marauders failed their subsequent break test, but only fled 2" while the dwarfs rained down abuse on them. Meanwhile, having seised the wall the Marauders, amazingly, failed to hit the Quarrellers even once. Even Chakram Manflay was unable to land a blow, while the dwarfs managed to kill 1 Marauder and win the combat, although the Marauders did pass their break test.

At the centre, Sundar Klash challenged the Hammerers Keeper of the Gate and killed him, gaining Iron Skin as his reward. The remaining Hammerers were cut down by the Chaos Warriors.

Dwarf Turn 5
The Longbeards ran as fast as they could towards the gate in a desperate bid to intercept the Chaos Warriors. Thane Zoe left the wall in order to join them, confident that the Thunderers were able to hold their own. They responded by opening fire on the Chaos Dwarfs, killing 3.

On the left wall, Chakram Manflay again failed to kill a single dwarf, having rolled two 1s to wound. With one Dwarf and 1 Marauder killed, the combat ended in a draw.

Chaos Turn 5
Now leaderless, Skjalpi Bloodscream's Marauders continued to flee, drawing nothing but withering contempt from the nearby Chaos Dwarfs, while the Dragon Ogre fled the battlefield. Unaware of this, the Chaos Warriors marched through the gate. The giant marched towards them.

The Chaos Dwarf Daemonsmith's magic proved ineffective, he cast a fireball, but it was dispelled by the Dwarfs natural magic resistance. The Deathshriekers fired on the Thunderers, but one failed to cause any wounds, while the other misfired, leaving unable to fire this turn or the next. The DreadQuake was more effective, killing three, but the survivors passed their panic test.

On the ramparts, the Quarrelers luck finally failed as Chakram Manflay cut them all down in a rage.

Dwarf Turn 6
Things were looking bad for the Dwarfs. Their only chance would be if the Longbeards could successfully charged the Chaos Warriors and the odds were not in their favour. Fortunately, they rolled a 9 and charged the Warriors in the flank. Less fortunately, Thane Zoe, who had not been able to actually join the unit, rolled a 2 and was left behind. On the wall, the Thunderers failed to wound any of the Chaos Dwarfs, but the duelling missile weapons were essentially irrelevant at this stage.

The Longbeard Old Guard accepted the Chaos Lord;s challenge and was killed and Sundar was rewarded with increased toughness. The Longbeards managed to kill two Chaos Warriors and won the combat thanks to their flank charge. The Chaos Warriors barely passed their breaktest, rolling a 6. They had been slowed, but not stopped.

Chaos Turn 6
Skjalpi Bloodscream's Marauders finally rallied, too late now to affect the outcome, while Chakram Manflay's Marauders moved off the walls and into the courtyard.

The Chaos Dwarfs shooting and magic proved ineffective again. But the disaster almost struck when the DreadQuake overshot the walls and landed on the Chaos Warriors killing 3. This could have been a terrible upset, but under the stern gaze of Sundar Klash, they passed their panic test.

With no-one to accept his challenge, Sundar turned his attention to the Longbeards killing 5. The Longbeards broke and fled, but the Chaos Warriors 10" pursuit saw them crash into Thane Zoe.

Dwarf Turn 7
The Dwarfs had effectively no chance of victory now. Even if Thane Zoe were able to hold out against the Chaos Warriors, there was nothing to stop Chakram Manflays Marauders leaving the table. But it would have been the height of anti-climactic not to see how this played out. Zoe struck first, thanks to her Master Rune of Swiftness, but was unable to get through her opponent's armour. She was wounded in turn, but passed her break test.

Chaos Turn 7
With nothing left to stop them, Chakram Manflay lead his Marauders off the table and to victory. The forces of Chaos had won the battle at great cost and with it the campaign. Kazad Kor had fallen.7

When I first sat down to Write this up I thought I was expecting to write that it all turned when the DreadQuake destroyed the gate. But in fact, this wasn't crucial. Although it gave the Hammerers a harder time defending, they and the Longbeards were able to hold up the Chaos Warriors advance enough to keep them from victory. Even if they hadn't pursued the fleeing Longbeards, they wouldn't have had the movement to wheel around and exit the table on their last turn.

Poor Lord Durak, it retrospect it was a mistake for him to accept Sundar Klash's second challenge. Thanks to their special rules, any of the Hammerers could have accepted instead and he had a much better chance of surviving the Chaos Warriors attacks, turning round and doing some damage. But in the end, it didn't much matter.

The actual crucial point was on the left wall, where the Giant and Chakram Manflay's Marauders wiped out the Quarrellers. They only survived as long as they did thanks to extreme good luck when Chakram failed to kill any of them two turns in a row. I badly underestimated the Giant, who might not have been able to bring down the walls, but could pick away at the Defenders with impunity. If I had realised how dangerous he was, I could have hit him with a cannonball. He wasn't any more likely to survive it than the Siege Tower.

Speaking of which, this was a very bad game for models I had just finished painting. The Siege Tower went down as the first act of the game. While the Forsaken were annihilated without reaching the walls. Oh well, this is pretty much the inevitable fate of models you spend a long time painting.

It was probably a mistake to take a Runesmith rather than a second Thane. For some reason, I was terribly keen to use his Armour Penetrating rule to boost the Crossbows, but this proved unnecessary given they were shooting unarmoured opponents. A Thane, on the other hand, might have had a better chance of wounding the Giant and avoided the unpleasant fate of being turned into an improvised missile.

On the other hand, the Artillery on both sides did sterling work, bring down gates, siege towers and enemy units. Though the Grudge Thrower was a complete waste of points, misfiring three turns in a row, before just plain misfiring. On the other hand, the DreadQuake almost undid all its early good work, by killing three Chaos Warriors right at the last moment.

On the whole, the Campaign has been a hugely enjoyable piece of wish fulfilment. Looking back over old blog posts revealed that I played the first game back in October 2015, so I've been at it nearly ten months. But I'd had the rules, castle and siege equipment sitting around for over fifteen years before that and it was great to finally bring it all together. The rules worked remarkably well given they were written for fifth edition Warhammer and show how, below the surface, the game hadn't really changed all that dramatically over time. I doubt the rules could have been used with Age of Sigmar.

One lesson I have learned from all of this is that it pays to tie my painting projects together with my gaming projects. Having to paint specific units ready for the next game really helped to keep me focused. It was also a great opportunity to get out and paint models that had been neglected for too long, particularly the Longbeards who, along with Thane Zoe were the real stars of the campaign.

And speaking of Thane Zoe...


The small form of a crouching dwarf crawled through the darkness. In the distance the sound of celebration could be heard, over more distressing sounds. He crept up the fallen body of a dwarf. She lay face down, bloody and bruised, but perhaps, still alive.

"Thane Zoe," the dwarf whispered as he rolled her over. "Thane Zoe. Princess, please."

"Err.." she groaned. Her eyes flickered open. "Borri. What happened? Where's my father?"

"He fell, defending the gate," Borri said, sadly. "I don't know what became of his body."

Thane Zoe reached for her axe.

"No," Borri said sharply, putting a hand on her arm. "We can't fight them all. Kazad Kor has fallen. There are a small group of us outside the wall. We have to get word to King Ungrim Ironfist. He must know that the underway is compromised."

Thane Zoe's face changed from anger, to sadness and finally grim resolution. She nodded. Vengeance would have to take second place to duty.

"We will go for now," she said. "But I will have vengeance for my father."

Monday 1 August 2016

Warhammer Siege - Conclusion - The Final Assault - Part 1

Lord Durak Irongrim paced the ramparts, below him the Chaos army made its final preparations. Chaos Dwarf engineers prepared the war machines, Chaos Warriors and Marauders banged their shields and a great Siege tower rumbled foward.

Lord Durak turned to his guard.

"This is it," he announced. "Their last chance. Their supplies are low, their resources spent. If we hold them now, we will break them."

He turned to the Engineer Angrid.

"Get our message ready," he said softly.

Chaos Lord Sundar Klash stalked towards the Castle gate, his banner bearer and herald at either side. A few paces short of the walls he raised his helmet and called out in a low, metallic tone.

"Defenders, you have fought well. Surrender your walls and one in ten of your number as sacrifices to the Gods and the rest of you will be allowed to leave freely."

There was silence for a moment, then the sharp twang of a dwarven stone thrower. A collection of objects crashed to the ground at the Chaos Lord's feet.

Sundar Klash bent down and picked up an object. It was the head of a Chaos Warrior, the helmet, crushed on one side from a hammer blow, still attached.

There was a slow rumble that grow slowly louder. Then Sundar Klash raised his head and gave terrible laugh.

"Wonderful", he cried. "A bold response. We shall give you the death you deserve."

He turned to his army.

"Slaughter them all!"

This is it, after months of on and off gaming, it was finally time to settle the outcome of the campaign. The final scenario would be a lot bigger than any of the previous games. There were no absolute limits set under the rules, but Chaos got twice as many points as the Dwarfs. On the other hand, the Dwarfs got a whole castle to even things out. Both sides had access to siege equipment. I decided to play 1500 vs 3000 points.

Thanks to the Chaos victory in Siege turn 3, the Dwarfs had to pay double for any siege equipment. With that in mind, I decided to forgo any of it. No boiling oil or rocks for the defenders, just good dwarven technology, crossbow, handguns and cannons.

To lead my army, I choose Lord Durak Irongrim. Using a Lord level character was probably a bit of an indulgence in a 1500 point army, but I didn't see how a proud Dwarf Lord could shirk from his duty. I gave him 2 Runes of Cleaving and 2 Runes of Iron 2 boost his hitting power. His daughter Thane Zoe had to be included, along with Master Rune of Swiftness that had proved a nasty surprise in the past. Thanks to her past victories, she was now a level 2 Veteran character and could re-roll her hit or wound dice twice during the game. I also include a Runesmith, mostly so he could impart his Armour Piercing rule to a unit he joined.

The rest of the army leaned heavily on ranged troops and artillery, but I also included some solid infantry in the form of the Longbeards and Hammerers. I kept the units small, hoping that dwarven hardiness would compensate. I boosted up the Grudge Thrower with the Rune of Accuracy, allowing it to re-roll misses, and the Organ Gun with 2 Runes of Penetrating, increasing its strengths.

The Full list
Lord Durak Irongrim - Dwarf Lord
Thane Zoe - Dwarf Thane
Burgun Stonekin - Runesmith
12 Quarrellers
12 Thunderers
12 Longbeards
10 Hammerers
Grudge Thrower
Organ Gun

For Chaos, I didn't have a lot of choices. Thanks to losing the introductory scenario and artillery bombardment, Chaos forces were cut by 100 points to 2900, but with Chaos Hounds, Chariots and Cavalry ruled out as being of no use, I basically had to include everything else to make up the points. All my Champions from previous battles re-appeared, along with the Chaos Lord Sundar Clash. I also had the opportunity to use my fresh painted Siege Tower and a significant number of Chaos Dwarf allies.

Chaos Lord Sundar Clash
Zanbad Curseheart - Chaos Dwarf Daemonsmith
Skjalpi Bloodscream - Exalted Champion
Chakram Manflay - Exalted Champion of Slaanesh
20 Chaos Warriors with a Siege Tower
10 Forsaken with 3 ladders
19 Chaos Marauders with flails and 3 ladders
19 Chaos Marauders with hand weapons and shields and 3 ladders
4 Dragon Ogres with a log ram
20 Chaos Dwarf Infernal Guard with Hailshot Blunderbusses
2 Death Shrieker Rockets
1 Dreadquake Mortar
1 Chaos Giant

The scenario would last for Seven turns, with the Dwarfs, as the besieged, going first. The Chaos objective was to get a unit of at least 5 models off the table from the Dwarfs side. If they did that before the end of their seventh turn they would win. Anything else would be a victory for the dwarfs.

 The Chaos battle line after deployment.
From left to right: Giant, Chakram Manflay and Marauders, Shrieker Rocket, Daemonsmith, DreadQuake Mortar, Sundar Klash Chaos Warriors and Siege Tower, Chaos Dwarf Infernal Guard, Skjalpi Bloodscream and Marauders, Forsaken

Before the battle began, the Dwarfs rolled "Personal Vendetta" which meant Lord Durak hated Sundar Clash. This was the weakest result, but felt appropriate. The Siege Tower was allowed to move 2D6" before the battle and trundled forward 8".

 The Fortress deployment
From the far wall, Runesmith and Quarrellers, Grudge Thrower, Lord Durak and Hammerers, Cannon, Thane Zoe and Thunderers, Organ Gun, Longbeards

Dwarf Turn 1
With nowhere for the defenders to go, this turn was all about shooting. The cannon lined up its shot and opened fire on the Siege Tower, scoring a direct hit with 5 wounds and bringing it down in the first act of the game. Given the amount of time I spent painting it, this was pretty much inevitable. First blow to the Dwarfs, though Sundar Clash and his Chaos Warriors scrambled out of the wreckage unscathed.

After this powerful opening volley, the rest of the Dwarf shooting was somewhat less impressive. The Organ Gun fired 14 shots, but only 3 of them hit and killed any of Skjalpi Bloodscream's Marauders. The Grudge Thrower misfired, leaving it unable to fire until next turn. At long range the Thunderers killed 2 Chaos Warriors, while the Quarrelers killed 3 of Chakram Manflay's Marauders.

Chaos Turn 1

ADVANCE! The entire Chaos Battle line marched forward, with the only exception being the Chaos Dwarf war machines. In the Magic phase, the Daemonsmith Zanbad Curseheart tried to cast a Flamestorm, but it was dispelled by the Runesmith's Rune of Spellbreaking. He tried to follow up with a double strength fireball, but failed the casting roll.

The Chaos Dwarfs answered the Dwarf artillery fire with their own. The Rocket launchers were equipped with Demolition rockets, one of which missed entirely, despite being able to re-roll thanks to the presence of Zanbad Curseheart. The second hit the section of wall that contained the gate, shaking it (+1 to future damage rolls). The Dreadquake Mortar also hit this section, but proved hugely more effective killing 3 Hammerers and destroying the gate itself. That was for the Siege Tower!

Dwarf Turn 2

With the gate destroyed, Lord Durak and the remaining Hammerers moved off the walls to defend the opening.

The Dwarf shooting was mediocre. The Organ Gun fired only 4 shots, killing 2 Chaos Warriors, while the Cannon took out 3 more and the Thunderers another two. Sadly for the Dwarfs, they passed their panic test. The Grudge Thrower misfired for a second turn in a row while the Quarrellers caused 2 wounds on a Dragon Ogre.

Chaos Turn 2

With a comfortably higher movement rate than the Chaos Warriors, the Dragon Ogres became the first Chaos unit to charge and engaged the Hammerers. The Giant also charged the Quarrellers on the wall. The rest of the army moved to follow.

Magic was ineffective, thanks to a very low number of power dice, and artillery fire achieved little this turn. A demolition rocket scattered, hitting the tower that contained the dwarf cannon, but did no damage, while the Dreadquake was on target, but was unable to damage the gate wall.

Between them, Lord Durak and the Hammerers caused 5 wounds on the Dragon Ogres, killing 1, but they passed their break test. Meanwhile, the Giant swung his club across the ramparts killing four wounds, suffering only one wound in return. As they were defending the wall, the Quarrelers could make a break test on their unmodified leadership and passed comfortably.

Dwarf Turn 3

With only the Hammerers guarding the gate, the Dwarfs badly needed to send reinforcements, but this meant abandoning a wall, which was impossible as long as they were all threatened. There were three Chaos units with ladders, at least one had to go. With that in mind, the Organ Gun targeted the Forsaken and rolled 20 shots at point blank range. The unit was completely annihilated. Again, not surprising given the amount of time I spent painting it.

The rest of the dwarf shooting compensated by being terrible. Both the cannon and the Grudge Thrower misfired, the latter for the third turn in a row.

Lord Durak killed another Dragon Ogre, while the Hammerers killed a third, suffering only one casualty in return. The nerve of the last Dragon Ogre failed him and he fled. The Hammerers should have stayed put to guard the gate, but fury overcame them (they failed their leadership test to restrain) and they pursued out of the gate, leaving them dangerously exposed.

On the left hand wall, the Giant reached out to grab Runesmith Burgin Stonekin. The Runesmith struck at him with his hammer, but was unable to dent the Giant's tough skin. The Giant was angered enough, however, to hurl the Runesmith at the nearby tower, killing him and the damaging the Grudge Thrower. Despite the horrific attack, and their inability to wound him in return, the Quarrellers held their nerve.

Chaos Turn 3

The Assault truly began as Sundar Klash's Chaos Warriors charged the Hammerers and both units of Marauders launched themselves at the walls. Though the Sole remaining Dragon Ogre continued its rout.

Once again, the Daemonsmith's magic had no effect as he was unable to cast a double strength fireball. With the walls no under attack, the Chaos Dwarfs turned their attention to the Dwarf's artillery. The Infernal Guard blunderbusses were now in range, but they were unable to damage the cannon. The Dreadquake, however, scored a direct hit, destroying it. Both rocket launchers targeted the Organ Gun, but both scattered, one killing two thunderers in the process.

Skjalpi Bloodscream issued a challenge which was accepted by Thane Zoe, who hit and wounded him three times, though his armour saved him. The Champion was so surprised that he missed with all his attacks, though he needed 6s to hit on the ramparts. The Thunderers killed 1 Marauder, suffering no losses in return, but they passed their break test.

Lord Durak accepted a challenge from Sundar Klash, which was risky but might have been worth it if he could withstand the Chaos Lord's assault. It was a close thing, Klash caused 3 wounds, which would have killed Lord Durak if not for the Rune of Iron giving him 4 wounds. Durak was only able to cause 1 wound in response. The Chaos Warriors killed 1 Hammerer, but suffered no casualties of their own. Thanks to their stubbornness, the Hammerers passed their break test.

The left hand wall was now under attack by both the Giant and Chakram Manflays flail armed Marauders. Manflay challenged the Dwarf Veteran, but neither was able to wound the other. Neither the Quarrelers nor the Marauders did any damage either. However, the Giant picked up three dwarfs in a row, stuffing two into his bag before getting bored and squashing the third. Despite their losses, the dwarfs passed their break test.

Dwarf Turn 4

With their wall no longer under threat, the Longbeards left the far right wall and moved into the courtyard. Their aim was to get to the Hammerers as quickly as possible, which, unfortunately, was not very fast.

The Organ Gun failed to match its previous performance only killing two Chaos Dwarfs. The Grudge Thrower finally managed to get off a shot at the Dread Quake, only for it to scatter right off the table, even after the re-roll from the Rune of Accuracy.

The battle one the right wall remained inconclusive. Skjalpi Bloodscream and Thane Zoe fought another round of combat without wounding one another, while 2 Marauders were killed in return for no dwarfs. Once again the Marauders stood their ground.

In the Centre, Sundar Klash challenged Lord Durak and managed to take his final wound. In retrospect this was a mistake, one of the Hammerers should have taken the challenge, something they are allowed to do if accompanied by the General. It just didn't occur to me that Lord Durak didn't have to fight. Klash was rewarded with +1 Ballistic Skill, about the most useless reward a Chaos Lord can get. 1 other Hammerer was also killed, but they passed their break test holding up the Chaos Warriors for now.

On the left wall, Chakram Manflay killed the Dwarf Veteran and was rewarded with +1 attack. Other than that, the only casualty was a single dwarf who was picked up by the Giant. But now the Marauders outnumbered the Dwarfs and could seize the ramparts, moving as many of the unit onto the walls as could fit in a single rank.

To be continued...