Tuesday, 23 March 2021

The Cleansing of the Rear Passage (Part 1)

A Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition battle report with Tim Stewart


"My queen, we are still having issues with the Rear Passage."

Queen Bellicosa stomped to a halt in front of the Ironbreaker as he gave his report. She was already clad in her ancestral armour. He favourite axe was slung casually over one shoulder. Behind her marched dozens of her best warriors.

"I know," she said matter-of-factly. "That is why I am here."

From around the far corner, a chorus of hooting and huffing announced the hurried arrival of a band of Slayers. At their head was a particularly muscular individual with a huge green crest of hair and an obvious lack of wits. Seeing the assembled Dwarfs in front of hum, he skidded abruptly to a halt, causing those behind him to collide in an undignified mess. Muffled curses and threats could be heard from the lower levels of the pile of orange hair, muscle and weapons. Their leader seemed not to hear or care.

"You're not going without us are you?" he demanded of the Queen. At least, that was what she thought he said. It was a little hard to understand him, given he had no teeth. Legend had it that he had crushed all the teeth from his head eating rocks on a dare.

Bellicosa simply shook her head. She had little time for Barri Stonechewer and his band of suicidal fools, but they might prove useful if they encountered something nasty during their expedition. The hold could not afford for this mission to go ill. Although the hold of Karak Nong's main gate emerged in the mountain passes high overhead, most traffic heading to the other nearby holds passed underground. 

With the rear passage blocked, life would soon become uncomfortable.

She hefted her axe and turned toward the gate. "The passage must be cleansed. Open the back door."


Right, so it was my first time back at the games club in an entire year, thanks to a combination of COVID19 restrictions and common sense. Tim and I decided to play a game of Warhammer, and then I took enough photos that I figured I might as well turn it into a battle report.

Dork's Uninvited Green Guests (Tim)

  • DW Dork Wildthrasher
    Black Orc Warboss with Battleaxe of the Last Waaagh, Heavy Armour, Shield
    263 points
  • BSB Ruglub the Collector
    Black Orc Big Boss with Battle Standard, Heavy Armour, Dragonhelm, Ironcurse Icon, Talisman of Protection, Shield
    145 points
  • W Wuzzup
    Orc Shaman (Level 2)
    100 points
  • OBU 25 Orc Big'Uns
    Shields, Light Armour, Full Command
    260 points
  • SO1 20 Savage Orcs
    Additional Hand Weapons, Full Command
    215 points
  • SO2 20 Savage Orcs
    Additional Hand Weapons, Full Command
    215 points
  • BO 20 Black Orcs
    Heavy Armour, Lots o Weapons, Full Command
    275 points
  • T 5 Trolls
    175 points
  • SH1 8 Squig Hoppers
    96 points
  • SH2 8 Squig Hoppers
    96 points
  • RT 8 River Trolls
    360 points
  • MT Massive Troll
    200 points
  • Total: 2400 points
Knowing that we were going to be playing in the caves, Tim avoided fielding any artillery, chariots or cavalry. He also ended up not getting any  mangler squigs because he wanted to field lots of trolls. Especially once he saw that I had nearly finished a really big one that he could use as a giant. He also elected to generally avoid goblins, given the Gob-Off is yet to be resolved and that uses enough goblins for everyone...

His list is intentionally not too carefully tuned - we had agreed not to field anything like souped-up unkillable characters. The magic items were an afterthought, which means it's quite impressive that he managed to stuff a 100 point magic weapon on his mostly naked general...

Bellicosa's Dwarf Doormen (Me)

  • QB Queen Bellicosa
    Dwarf Lord with Gromril Armour, 2 Runes of Fortitude, Rune of Stone, Great Weapon
    206 points
  • SS Snuggi Softensson
    Dwarf Thane with Battle Standard, Gromril Armour, 2 Runes of Iron, Rune of Stone, Great Weapon
    146 points
  • BS Barri Stonechewer
    Dragon Slayer
    70 points
  • LB 20 Longbeards
    Heavy Armour, Shields, Great Weapons, Full Command
    330 points
  • Q 16 Quarrellers
    Heavy Armour, Shields, Great Weapons, Dwarf Crossbows, Full Command
    270 points
  • T 16 Thunderers
    Heavy Armour, Shields, Dwarf Handguns, Full Command
    238 points
  • IB 20 Ironbreakers
    Gromril Armour, Shields, Full Command
    310 points
  • ID 16 Irondrakes
    Forge-proven Gromril Armour, Drakguns, Full Command
    270 points
  • S1 10 Slayers
    Array of Axes, 1 Giant Slayer
    132 points
  • S2 10 Slayers
    Array of Axes, 1 Giant Slayer
    132 points
  • M 12 Miners
    Heavy Armour, Great Weapons, Standard, Prospector
    140 points
  • OG Organ Gun
    Rune of Forging, Rune of Burning
    150 points
  • Total: 2394 points
For my part, I had decided to field a lord on foot (which you wouldn't normally do because shieldbreakers are a no-brainer). I went with blocks of 20 warriors and decent-sized units of missile troops, given they can fight in combat too. I did take a single war machine, but didn't make it too fancy with an engineer or anything. Just keeping it simple. I really need to paint up some more miners. I feel like an underground game should really have lots of them. Oh well, job for later.


You'll have to forgive the map. I made it using an ancient Java applet that Pete managed to revive for planning cave maps. It does the job, I think... Hey, at least you got a map. You're spoilt, really.

I think it would be safe to say not too much thought went into my deployment. We actually deployed simultaneously, trying to ignore each other. The terrain and our own unit coherency really dictated what was going on anyway. We had made a main open space in front of the Dwarf gate, so obviously I focused my stuff there. We figured Tim's forces were headed this way, even if we hadn't made it a real scenario. 

The main Dwarf line near the gate.
Queen Bellicosa, who doesn't need friends. She can go it alone! Strong, independent, and forgetting she could deploy inside units.
Slayers seemed like a good choice to hold the tunnel on my right flank. In other words, I had no idea what to put in there (if anything).
Again, I wasn't sure what to do on the left flank. Especially because it had 2 tunnels and I really didn't want to place anything on the absolute flank, given how far it would be from anything else in the army. I settled for covering the closer tunnel with the Ironbreakers and a potential throw-away blocker in the Dragon Slayer (sorry Barri).
I did eventually remember that I could put the BSB in a unit. Apparently Bellicosa didn't get the memo.

Tim's deployment was more difficult. He had a combination of several relatively narrow approaches (wide enough for any one unit, but not 2 at a time), and units like Trolls that really needed proximity to the general and BSB. The caves are always a bit difficult to work out when you're setting them up. You want space to fight, but you also want to encourage things to use some separate tunnels. We actually had some thoughts on this during the game... things that might pop up again in future.

On my left, these are the forces Tim allocated for those tunnels guarded by the Ironbreakers. The Trolls are hugging the wall because the general and BSB are on the other side to help keep them in line.
They're in the Black Orcs there, behind the big blob of River Trolls.
Over on the other flank were the units Tim obviously decided were less in need of leadership. Lots of Savage Orcs and a few bonus Squig Hoppers. At least there's no Stupidity there.
Yes, that's a big Troll. Today he was just a Giant. Next time we might make him something a little more... bespoke.

Tim had rolled up Foot of Gork and 'Ere We Go for his spells. That being the case, my characters should really have been inside units. But I feel like Kings of War has affected my mindset, and I almost forgot I could do that. And they would get Look Out Sir! on a 4+ thanks to nearby units. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Upon realising that we needed a Foot of Gork template (and didn't have one), Owen pulled out a pen and made us one on the spot. Apparently it's based on Nick's foot. Well, I assume it's just the sandal that is. Otherwise he has some stuff going on that he might want to see a podiatrist about...

Orc and Goblin Turn 1

The Orcs advance... Mostly.
On the left flank (my left flank, because I like to be consistent and let's face it, everything is all about me...) the discipline was good. The Big'Uns and Trolls advanced at a decent pace, with the Squig Hoppers bouncing along happily in front.
In the centre, things were not so great. The River Trolls got confused by the orders being shouted from behind them, and staggered about trying to see where the voices were coming from. The Giant had no such issues, advancing steadily and blissfully unaware of the fact that its head and back were probably tearing holes in the rock ceiling overhead. Who brings a Giant to a tunnel fight? I mean, really?
Sensing a lack of magical defence in the Dwarf force, Wuzzup summoned forth the power of the Waaagh and invited Gork to stomp the Ironbreakers into splutchy pancakes. Gork presumably decided that the Ironbreakers looked a little uncomfortable to step on, and instead sidled over and stomped on the unfortunate Dragon Slayer instead. Barri Stonechewer could be seen staring up in toothless, gaping wonder at the shadow above him before he was unceremoniously crushed. No Ironbreaker made any move to warn him or if they did, it fell on deaf ears.
In fact, so grim was the fate of Barri that the entire regiment of Ironbreakers panicked and fled back toward the safety of the gate. Leadership 10, eh. Not even a problem.
So much for my force holding the tunnels on the left. Cowards.
On my right, the Squig Hoppers bounded forward enthusiastically. The Savage Orcs dawdled behind, moving up as best they could.

So a first turn of Dwarfs fleeing on Ld 10 and Trolls going stupid on Ld 9 with a re-roll. Business as usual...

Dwarf Turn 1

The Dwarfs... don't really advance. But they do stop running away.
This is everything that moved in the Dwarf turn. No, really. I feel like I'm really channeling a proper Dwarf player here.

The Ironbreakers immediately regrouped, clearly embarrassed by their momentary lapse. Of course Barri had been crushed to a pulp by a big green foot. It was to be expected, really. He wouldn't have chosen to go any other way. They spun about and pretended that they had simply been shifting the point where they would defend the tunnels, now that Barri was no longer there to help them.

The Irondrakes swung around to face the (rather slower than expected) approach of the main body of the Orc force. The Organ Gun and Quarrellers opened fire on the Trolls, downing one of their number thanks to the flaming shots of the machine.

The Thunderers fired upon the approaching Savage Orcs, but did negligible damage given the range, poor light, and their inability to aim their weapons at a target.

Orc and Goblin Turn 2

Aha, some actual solid movement along the Orcs lines. Wait, what is happening up there on the left...?
Perhaps resorting to physically shoving the River Trolls forward, Warboss Dork and his entourage were finally able to make a proper move toward the enemy. They still had to slow a little as the Giant shambled in front of them, still oblivious to the shower of rocks coming from above as his head raised the ceiling height wherever he went.
On the right, the Squigs leapt forward impressively, easily making the distance to the Slayers at the end of the tunnel. They set about chewing a hole in their hated opponents, not realising that the suicidal Dwarfs would not go down without a swing...
In their defence, the Squigs did pretty well given only 4 of the mounts could reach. They wiped the whole back rank from the Slayers. But even as they fell, the deathblows of the dying Dwarfs took a terrible toll. The combination of great weapons and Hatred meant the poor Squigs never really had a chance.
The Slayers had done well disposing of the Squig Hoppers, but there was a sterner test on its way down the passage.
On the left, the Squigs were a little less wildly enthusiastic with their bounding. With the Trolls hot on their heels, they advanced sedately up the tunnel toward the waiting Ironbreakers. Of course, they should have had more support behind them, but the Big'Uns had ground to a halt due to a dispute over a tapping noise coming from the tunnel wall beside them...
It's possible that if the River Trolls were a little more intelligent, they might have been concerned by the position they were being hurried into. Maybe. 

Dwarf Turn 2

Things are starting to happen in the middle, and reinforcements have arrived!
So this was a bit of a puzzler. Do you open up on them with the flaming Organ Gun, 16 Quarrellers and 16 Irondrakes? Or do you charge with the Lord in the front and the Irondrakes in the flank?
In the end I opted for the charge. Why? Because even though the shooting would probably do more damage, the Trolls are Immune to Psychology. They couldn't be panicked. Nothing here in the centre could be (actually almost nothing in Tim's army could be). So unless I thought I could wipe them out with shooting (and I didn't), then they'd be free to charge what they liked and free up the Giant to follow suit. That sounded like garbage to me, so I decided controlling the situation with the potential for an easy break test was better. And it meant Bellicosa would get to be involved instead of having to sit and watch...
Dwarfs charge hard in the 8th edition army book. The Irondrakes were on WS5, S5. Bellicosa was WS7, S7. Both had Hatred. Sure, the River Trolls were -1 To Hit and had Regeneration. But this was going to hurt. In the end, 2 Trolls perished. Only a couple of Irondrakes fell in return. It was an excellent outcome, right up to the point where the Trolls rolled a double 1 for their break test. Dang. Now we're stuck...
It turned out the squabbling Big'Uns hadn't imagined things, and the tapping sounds were coming from a regiment of Miners that moments later burst through the wall right next to them!

As always, there are a lot of pictures in this report. I've split it over 2 posts. You can find the second part here.


  1. A proper 8th ed report! Oh, that takes me back. Great stuff!

  2. Super battle report. Want to know how It ended.😊

  3. Ladydwarf general sent for cleansing of the rear passage; coincidence? I don't think so ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    1. Look, these things fall to whoever is willing to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty. Wait, no. Ewww