Sunday, 24 April 2016

Chad does Mordheim: Gory days

Perhaps inspired by Bruce Springsteen's song lyrics (who knows?!), Chad talks us through his latest conquests in Mordheim in this post about the ramifications of 3 games for his ratty warband.

No, that’s not a misspelling. The first few missions in any Mordheim gang’s life are going to be hellish and hectic; if a colour scheme had to be chosen for then it would be red and brown in violent, clashing slashes. Your war band is untried, and your equipment is mismatched and sub par. The individual members are at best vaguely competent and on average pretty rubbish. This is only made worse in a world where your opponents have pushed themselves into Strength 4 and you’re stuck on Toughness 3.

Games three through five exemplified this problem, as did my fairly Skaven-ly play style; I often got carried away and over confident after an early success and ended up slinking away. My next games I played Dys and his Blood Dragon pirates, Jonathan and his beleaguered Rieklanders, and JD and his newish Dwarven Treasure Hunters in that order. Each of these war bands present different problems and challenges which I’ll explore in my reports below.

Game 1: Attack of the Bloodbeard
First up was Bloodbeard’s motley crew – and a quite sizeable crew it was too! I’d picked up a Beggar, representing the poor sap who hired my Samurats, but Dys still nearly outnumbered me two to one! This whole ‘one henchman’ thing had massive downsides…especially after we rolled Defend the Find as our scenario! I had to hold a central building against Dys’s marauding undead pirates? And to win all he had to do was get more models within 6” of the house? Bring it on.

I set up my shooty fellows (two dudes with throwing stars, two with slings – true artillerized terror) on the first floor and my remaining dudes, including double-club beggar on the ground floor. My plan was to take people in drips and drabs, knocking them down to slow them even more than being dead already did while my combat dudes did the butcher’s work. I did not want to get out numbered, and I did not want to get surrounded.

Bloodbeard got first turn and his crew lurched forward, except the three not-so-nautical war pigs he’d hired which shot right at me, although one had a difficult crisscross of streets to navigate so didn’t make it into the scoring area. Thinking this feel perfectly into my plan, I issued two charges on each – the Beggar and Assassin on one, my halberd-wielding Black Skaven and the Verminkin on the other. Everyone passed their leadership checks, by some miracle, and we all got in contact. Great news, as it meant that I was likely to be two out of four kills towards forcing rout checks – sure, the vampire had a leadership value of nearly double my average, but it might work out.

In other news, my shooting missed and one of my Gutterrunners removed himself from the game by failing a 4” leap and suffering an S2 hit. So I was half way to rout checks myself. Then neither of the pigs died, so things looked real rosy.

Dyson’s second turn started with the third pig charging my leader and his vampire charging my spear wielding Gutterrunner. My leader had been stunned last turn and so was eliminated while knocked down, but my Gutterrunner must have eaten a whole garlic bulb as the vampire missed his attacks. I killed the other pig, but that was not really much commiseration.

At the beginning of my turn I voluntarily routed. I was close to being outnumbered and butchered, and Dys would probably have outnumbered me in the zone next turn anyway. This way he didn’t get any heroes in the house, so didn’t get any extra wyrd-stone while I scarpered with three! I then rolled well on my exploration and got six more, as well as a favour owed by a sell-sword. This presented a quandary, as I wanted to keep the Seven Samurats to seven, but if I didn’t take advantage of this then I’d be missing out on a massive advantage – which was also free. Eventually I reasoned that the sell-sword was an old friend (rival? Enemy that didn’t immediately need killing?) of one of the Samurats. With that explanation, I chose the Skryre Sniper as it fit thematically to have someone devoted to the art of long ranged death.

My Assassin suffered ‘severe injuries’ and had to miss the next two games, while the Gutterrunner who impersonated Icarus managed to escape harm! Except for the loss of an eye…Some stat ups were gained, most notably my Beggar got Medic and the one-eyed Gutterrunner got an extra attack – so he traded his throwing knives to the Verminkin for an additional sword. My sorcerer also got better at casting Warpflame despite not managing it in the last game.

Game 2: Cross Town Brawl
Next game was against Jonathan’s Rieklanders. His luck had not improved at all since our last game, but he’d only lost Henchman. However having to replace them had kept his gold reserves low (unlike my coffers, which sat at something like 14 wyrd-stone and 120gp despite losing most of my games) and his men weren’t fantastically well equipped and they only numbered eleven. Not being dead they could march but also be stunned, so there were pros and cons over the last game. We rolled Occupy and five target houses, meaning we’d both have to split up to really challenge board control.

We fought on our market square board rather than the ruined mansion where I’d ‘fought’ Bloodbeard, and there were coincidentally four buildings around the square and a well in the middle. Jon took the city side with a little more building cover which left me with the church and windmill side. I deployed using other buildings to block LoS from those scary BS4 longbows and the game was afoot!

Jon moved forward with his guys, and I did the same but got further into the board, claiming the church. Turn two saw him secure an inn and the vampire-home, while I occupied the church fully and moved towards the guard house on the bridge. My sniper turned up and knocked a Rieklander off his feet, despite needing a six to hit! Nothing else happened though.

Turn three things started to heat up as Jon moved into the first floor of the vamp-home with his archers and made a dash towards the well with his leader and some captains. He left two crossbowmen in the inn, one of which fired at my Jezzail and missed. In my third turn I got into the bridge guard house with my Verminkin and beggar while I took the ground floor of the vamp-home with everything else – except my sniper, who hid, and my Gutterrunner who still had throwing knives (having picked up Knife-Master) who I forgot about entirely. I threw some Warpflame up the stairs and made the Bowmen duck for cover but didn’t really hurt anyone.

Turn four saw the vamp-home getting trashed again, as per my Skaven war band’s modus operandi. Jon charged a Bowman into my half blind Gutterrunner skulking around the side of the building and a Champion into my Sorcerer – but he was intercepted by my Halberd wielding Black Skaven, who had picked up Lightning Reflexes for just such occasions. The kitchen/dining area was turned over in the struggle (we were a bit boisterous in moving minis) but my Black Skaven got the upper hand and stunned the Champion. My Gutterrunner knocked down his attacker in a flurry of sword blows, and I was looking in a pretty strong position. His crossbowmen had no targets so spent a tense few minutes listening to shouts and hissing and smashing furniture from across the road while his leader and champions bravely took the unoccupied well in the centre of the square.

In my turn my claw-armed Black Skaven got to the second floor of the vamp-home, miraculously without falling off as per his previous attempts, and I got more rats in the ground floor. My shuriken armed Gutterrunner made it to the bridge guardhouse and he, my Beggar and Verminkin (who had both been awarded slings due to lack of space in my treasury) unleashed a hail of shrapnel and dung at Jon’s elite in the well house. The ended up covered in shit and pretty pissed off, but uninjured. My Sorcerer stunned a Bowman up the stairs and the Jezzail missed, but my sword-armed Gutterrunner and halberd wielding Black Skaven finished off their opponents so that was nice.

Jon was looking a little disheartened at the beginning of this turn, which meant that I was caught utterly off guard when he had one Bowman leap out of the window and land perfectly outside the vamp-home while two more rushed down the stairs and surprised my Sorcerer and Black Skaven on the ground floor, while his heroes backed off a little from the well house, also moving back towards the vamp-home. His shooting phase saw the Dark-Knight Bowman wound my Sorcerer but only knock him down while his compatriots sent my Black Skaven squeaking for cover, although left him unharmed – he even tried a cheeky crossbow shot through a window but it didn’t stick. His heroes then returned fire on my dirt slingers and put my Gutterrunner out of action.

With no combat we went right into my turn! My claw armed Black Skaven ran down two flights of stairs to charge a Bowman and my halberd wielding rat charged into the one next to him. The Beggar and Verminkin scuttled out of sight, hiding, while the Sorcerer stood up rather groggily and failed to cast his spell to get vengeance. The Jezzail hid so it was straight on to combat – in which my halberd guy dealt with the bowman in front of him and the claw armed guy didn’t, although didn’t die either so I guess that’s okay.

Jon’s turn saw another impressive hail fired into the vamp-house – windows were smashed, decorations ruined and a little bit of rat blood shed as my sorcerer hit the dirt again. Combat again saw the untrained Bowman flail desperately and my fighting-claw ninja expertly miss his attacks. In my turn my halberd-rat charged out of the house screaming in Bloodfrenzy or panic as he ran into Jon’s three combat equipped heroes, while my Verminkin was sent to challenge ownership of the centre well. My sword-armed Gutterrunner actually made it into the acrobat who had jumped out of the window to ambush my rats too! Shooting saw my Jezzail burn yet another hole in the side of the inn instead of a person and my Sorcerer remove Jon’s leader with a blast of fire, finally on target. Thankfully there was no collateral damage in the form of my halberd-rat, who stunned the Champion he was facing off against.

Jon called it there an voluntarily routed, his taste for the battle gone with his leader. He’d lost most of his Bowman, although all but one recovered, and was two combat fellows down for no loss to the Samurats. I’d been able to control the flow of battle pretty well, fighting in buildings being ideal for my high Initiative, high movement guys where they could choose their fights/bundle individual enemies. I found another six wyrd-stone, putting me on the heady-heights of twenty-one before I sold seven. I bought two sets of bracers and two cold-steel Halberds, giving one to my halberd-rat and the other to my sorcerer along with some bracers each. Both Black Skaven picked up Tail Fighting, my leader finally accrued a exp-up and got Lightning Reflexes and my two gutter runners got a skill and a stat up each – the half-blind guy got a strength and I gave him Tail-Fighting, while the other guy suffered a deep wound (-1 Toughness, putting him on an abysmal T2) but got an additional wound and Trick Shot, so he would now always get to shoot at full accuracy with his shurikens. I banked the remaining 90 or so gold and looked for the next game.

Game 3: Murder in the Streets
For my third and final game of the night I threw down against JD’s newly formed Dwarven Treasure Hunters. He’d had a rough few games before and I think only agreed to the game because I pointed out my Assassin was still kicking back injured and would miss this game. I had got another favour owed to him (the Council only knows how) so I picked up a Skryre Poison Wind Globadier to continue my theme of wacky mercenary members, and kept on the sniper mainly out of cool factor rather than anything to do with his performance in the last game.

We rolled street fight. I had to run down a four-model wide street at a Dwarven war band, with a three man crossbow henchman group that had earned BS4. Flash backs to the Ratmificent Seven getting wiped out flew through my mind, but I shook them off and set up with my fastest guys at the front – after a brief discussion JD revealed his crossbows actually had a 36” range, so I was going to have to throw caution to the wind and my rats at a wall of spikes and steel.

I spent three turns running at him, the Jezzail arriving on the second but missing. In fact, I’ll head this one off; he missed all game. He missed so impressively JD never even considered shooting back at him. My Beggar was considered more of a threat due to his two clubs. My guys got hit by seemed to just be dodging and diving to the floor; every time I was hit JD’s dice turned into D2’s so miraculously no one died.

Turn four finally saw some combat, a bit of magic and the struggle between his crossbow henchman and my Globadier, the latter trying to throw a grenade at the tightly packed dwarf back line and the former turning him into a pincushion to stop him doing so. After my halberd-rat tore through his first opponent he then spent about a million turns tripping up one of JD’s slayers and refusing to hit him while he was on the floor. My sorcerer spent most of the midgame knocked down as JD frantically tried to kill him with his Engineer.
I forget exactly what order things happened in, but I know my fighting-claw armed ‘ninja’ got taken out first. Hammers fell, swords slashed and after four or so rounds of combat we’d both lost two war band members – I was the only one to lose a hero though. My Globadier removed a crossbowman before he was taken out, one of the slayers went down under the desperate scratching of a Gutterrunner, and things were looking pretty equal – despite my halberd-rat being charged by JD’s noble in an attempt to stop the beleaguered slayer from being auto removed after being stunned.

Now, this is where things went wrong. Very, very wrong. My Sorcerer, seeing a chance to remove two fairly scary dwarves for the possible loss of one rat, Warpflamed the dwarven noble. It fizzled, and the backwash lightly tanned the slayer. However, the halberd-rat got roasted; wounded, save failed, straight up removed from play. In JD’s turn my Sorcerer then got picked off by some crossbows and my remaining rodents achieved sod all, having decided that since their swords were barely working they’d better use wet handkerchiefs. I swiftly routed in my next turn.

My half blind Gutterrunner nearly went fully blind, but upon realising this would auto-retire the vicious little sod I used up my Beggar’s Medic ability on the first injury I’d rolled, and after a bit of CPR he survived against the odds, half-sight intact and with a bonus experience point! My knife-rat got a damaged leg, lowering his Movement to 5” which was tolerable and that was about it for injuries – my Skaven Samurai had clearly learnt well from their leader in Playing Dead 101!

My Globadier earned his stripes, getting a new skill (Eagle Eye, later found to be illegal and replaced with Infiltration). My Sorcerer got an improved BS to 4, although had never shot his Warplock pistol, and also Battle Mage so he could wear armour. This was a debateable gain since everyone seemed to be S4 and/or carrying axes, but worth it for the off chance it was relevant. Sword-Runner (now named Gut) got boosted to S4 while his buddy (Run) got no advancement. I tried to find a second Jezzail in an effort to game the rules, and because I’d come away with another 6 wyrd-stone which was immediately sold, but failed miserably. The Samurats returned to camp and let my Assassin know they’d got beat. He sympathetically shouted at them and swore he’d get revenge on the stunties at some point – presumably after he’d upped his own Strength to 5.

So that was game day 2. A good few advances, no actual deaths just yet and plenty of money in the bank (after a couple more purchases I was still on about 117gp and 10ish wyrd-stone). I’ve since found that my Skaven are actually limited to a measly S4, so halberds might become the order of the day, or Strongman and Great Weapons, but time will tell. There’s also Mighty Blow, granting +1S in combat which would make any S4 halberd wielders S6 and unparryable by any S3 enemies. Then I’d only have to manage to roll a 2+ to wound, so failure would become intensely more embarrassing.

I’m still enjoying the rats, thankfully. I’m somewhat underwhelmed by their supposed terrifying abilities to dish out damage but hopefully that’ll change soon. I’m also looking at Marks of Khorne for the Frenzy upgrade, as my attack statistic is one of the few that goes up twice. Doubling somebodies Mighty Blow attacks with a halberd sounds like a great plan! But we’ll have to get there first. Hell, maybe someone will pick up an extra wound, or even T4. That’d be great. Until then I’ll keep skulking in the shadows and bullying the weak.

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