Ablaze in the Northern skies – Game 1: The Battle for The Skalle Pass


Another year! Another Warhammer Campaign!

Inspired by 2021’s Return to Khardon Island, I thought we would try our luck with another narrative frame for games of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. So what is going on this time? Well kick off your shoes and lean back in your favourite easy char:

Karak Skag-Arak and the lands of the Norscans

Far north of the Empire lies the lands of Norsca. This place is a tattered carpet of various Jarls and kingdoms. It is also the main bulwark against the Chaos Marauder tribes further to the North. Deep in the Mountains north of the Troll Country lies the Dark Throne hidden somewhere. Any chaos worshipper worth his salt knows that he who sits upon the Dark Throne will gain immeasurable power. Hence attempting to invade the outskirts of its location is tremendously popular among Chaos Marauder Warlords

Karak Skag-Arak was the Dwarf hold that sent out expeditions in our earlier campaign and it seems only suitable that we should centre our attention on them once again. The Dwarf hold lies at a strategically important position in that it guards the Skalle Pass and also is very closely positioned to the island of Dur which is an important point to govern the access further inland from the Frozen Sea (which actually isn’t frozen, but merely quite cool).

When our story starts, the perfect storm is brewing: The Norscans are without a clear leader, and petty infight is ripe. The Dwarf-Norscan relations are at an all time low, because the Dwarfs distrust the Norscan jarls and their power struggles. The Troll country (Udgård to the Norse) is stirring too and the trolls and giants want to have their revenge on the normally formidable Norse. To the west the Ogre tribes are battling with the Hobgoblins and their Chaos Dwarf slave masters. But the struggle is pushing the conflict closer and closer. Only the Dwarf defenders stop the vast armies from spilling into Norsca and spreading the conflict. Meanwhile, in the North, the Warlord Kreothul Kragiznut of the Blodshot Eye Tribe has been looking on, smiling at the bedlam south of his lands – now is the perfect time to invade and find the Dark Throne and obtain immense power. The Northern Skies are Ablaze.

Game 1: The Battle for the Skall Pass

It was during the reign of King Belagor’s sonson, Skäggi Sturskäg. The Skalle Pass, just south of Karak Skag-Arak was beset by the foul powers of Chaos. It was during the reign of Dwarf King Skäggi Sturskäg The Second. The Dwarf hold had long since run out of womenfolk and thus the King had failed to produce and heir to the throne, and no younglings were about. Most of the Dwarfs were old by now, battlehardened but old, and also they were the only thing between the lands of warlord Kreothul Kragiznut (He Who Rules With Bloodshot Eyes) and the promised lands further to the South. To Skäggi’s luck a large group of Slayers were currently reciding in the hold, getting ready to travel to the Troll Country to meet their destiny.

Kreothul thought that the Dwarfs were weak and easily overthrown and that the Skalle Pass would be easily taken. Travelling through the mountains he had convinced a cadre of Dragon Ogres and Minotaurs to join his army. What he didn’t know was that the leader of the Dragon Ogres, Shars’lo, was just as interested in raising an army to travel South himself. But Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows. Conflict within, conflict without.

Scenario

The battle was for the Skalle Pass. But since we couldn’t represent this directly, we chose to use the “Take the field” with the “raid” modification. The battlefield was litterally the whole pass, and the Dwarfs were sent to stop the Chaos forces, and would need to cut them down. We used 1500 points armies with the latest (2022) version of the Warhammer Renaissance Rules.

In this scenario the Victory points (=750 points) goes to the Army with the most scoring units outside their own deployment zone. You can “raid” the opponents camp by moving a scoring unit to their baseline. Then your unit is removed, but it still counts as scoring (in effect it is safe).

Deployment

The Dwarfs deployed in a defensive manner, ready to stop the oncoming chaos horde. As the Chaos force was essentially meant to depict to smaller warbands joining up, I kept them in these during deployment. Shars’lo and his Dragon Ogres and Minoatures took one flank, while Warlord Kheothul took the other.

Armylists

unitcountgeargear costtotal cost
Heroes43%
dwarf lord. 136Master Rune of Gromril 100 pts100
Dragon Crown of Karaz 25 pts25
HELLFIRE SWORD 125 pts125
GROMRIL ARMOUR
shield
136
dwarf hero 82471
GROMRIL ARMOUR
shield
axe of killing
master rune of death60
rune of swiftness10
rune of might15
82167
Regiments60%
ironbreakers20STANDARD OF SHIELDING 50 pts350
GROMRIL ARMOUR
shield
slayers10130
10130
20Rune of Oath-Keeping 30 pts290
Warmachines8%
gyrokopterrune off penetrading123
total1494
*There might be something a bit off wih the Dwarf list as it totals more than 100% 😀

The battle

The game was on! The Dwarfs won the roll off, but chose to give the first turn to the Forces of Chaos. The Chaos general was not hesitant, and immediately put everything forward.

Shars’lo and his retinue

The warhounds went straight for the enemy encampment and raced forward 14″. As did the rest of the army in fact…

Kreothul and his Maruaders

With no magic, the turns were extremely quick. The Dwarfs decided to hold and take the oncoming chaos forces.

The old slayers residing in Karak Skag-Arak

The clock struck Turn 2 and Shars’lo was galloping across the field with his mighty Golden axe leading his Dragon Ogre brethren. 9 slayers were struck down immediately but they cut the head of one of the Dragon Ogres in return. It would be a battle of attrition.

The Dwarf gyrocopter tried to flame the Minotaurs that were en route to the Slayers on the flank, but they all stood still after the attack.

The third turn was up and the Chaos Gods decided that Kreothul was not going to lead this attack on the mortals anymore. Was it a trick of Shars’lo? Surely the Dragon Ogre would be delighted to learn that his rival was out of the way and that he was now in command.

The Minotaurs connected with their target and mauled the Slayers to just 3 Dwarfs standing. The centre of the battlefield was starting to look like a cauldron of blood. The Dwarf Ironbreakers faced a regiment of Warriors and one of Marauders. The chants of war was beckoning and the Ironbreakers chose to speed up their fate by charging into the Warriors

The fearless Dwarf Ironbreakers charge into the centre of the Chaos Army

A vicious fight ensued between man and Dwarf. The Warriors wavered under the impressive fighting shown by the Dwarfs. Eventually the scuttled away like fleas. The Dragon Ogres had killed the remaining Slayers, but could not help out.

The Dwarf pursued only 2 inches though, which did not get them out of the trap that the Marauders and the chariot presented.

The trap was sprung

The Chariot came bursting into the Ironbreakers and caused 8 initial hits. The Ironbreakers were wearing their signature Gromril armour and only took 2 casualties. On the other flank the Marauders took out another 3 Dwarfs. The Dwarfs promptly (we forgot about the Rune of Swiftness, but it didn’t matter) returned the favour and killed 3 maruaders and made 2 wounds on the Chariot. The Dwarfs lost the combat by 2 and rolled 11 on their break test. They ran 5″ but the Maruaders ran 6″ and the Chariot 11″, so the expensive Dwarf regiment was done for and so was the battle.

Kreothul is dead, long live Lord Shars’lo!

Conclusion

I have not played with Chaos for quite some time. My intention was to make a fairly weak army (no magic, knights, and so on) but unexpectedly the Dwarfs had gone for a very close combat oriented army. The Slayers are formidable enemies, but when you manage to charge them with 540 points of Dragon Ogres and really deal them a lot of casualties quickly like this game, they’re outmatched (and should be at 290 points!).

However, hindsight is always 20/20 as they say, and I guess my army is tough to deal with for a Slayer heavy force. I didn’t have any answer for the gyrocopter, but to my luck it hovered close to targets where it didn’t really influence the game. The Maruaders or Warriors would have been toast if it had gotten to them for sure.

The story goes forward

This was the first game of the new campaign. I imagine that more creatures will flock to the hordes of Shars’lo and that the Dragon Ogre will attempt to make his claim for the Dark Throne.

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