Monday 29 April 2024


The Messenger...

 ”The mud stained and black cloaked messenger knelt before the lord of Nar Zadun’s raised throne, head bowed in deference to the all-powerful ruler of the Dark Elf spired city. He would not speak until requested to. A mere twitch of the watching lord’s fingers would see this foreign messenger’s head swept from his shoulders by the alert guards that flanked the throne’s dias, gleaming halberds held at the ready.  The eyes of the assembled court nobles were upon him, in quiet expectation.
“Speak”, instructed the lord from his raised seat.
“I bring word from mighty Naggathrond, sire. Our exalted majesty instructed me to inform Lord Veyshar of Nar Zadun that his personal emissary will be dispatched here in four day’s time. He wishes me to convey to the Lord that our exalted and immortal King expects the emissary to be met with all honours. He bears great news for the Lord and his city. The Dread King’s emissary must not be impeded in any way, upon pain of death.”
A murmur passed around the assembled nobles and ladies of the court. This was a rare visitation, the Dread King in Naggarond, the High Lord Malekith himself, had taken an interest in their distant city. His favour meant fresh wealth and power, wealth and power all would like their share of. Wealth and power that would flow, in turn, from their own lord, to his most favoured servants. But such honour was a two-edged  blade.
“Then we are honoured” the Lord Veyshar replied. A hint of sarcasm perhaps, or just arrogance. The messenger stayed on one knee, not moving until ordered to do so.
“Then you are dismissed.”
The messenger, eyes down so as not to displease the city’s Lord, that perchance a look might challenge his absolute rule in his own throne room, remained bowed and retreated. Once well back from the throne, well out of range of any sudden leaping assassin’s strike with a concealed dagger, the messenger rose, bowed deeply again, and backed from the courtroom, his simple task complete. He would now return at speed, a fresh swift steed provided from the Lord’s stables, for his ride back to Naggarond. There, he would report in detail on Lord Veyshar’s response and all he had seen of the city, its nobles, its people, its slaves. Their master would want to know all. Despite his largess, the Dread King’s subject’s loyal was always under scrutiny.”


The second game, another small one, but stepping up our familiarity with the rules. The High Elves have responded to the first corsair raids and gathered a small local force under their commander, Lord Elendaer (a noble). Offered battle, the Dark Elves have mustered their raiding forces together and marched to meet the High Elves, now under the command of the force’s 2-i-c, Master Vymen (as Ullas was badly injured by arrows in the border patrol so must miss a battle in the campaign rules), but he has a right-hand man to replace him though. This is an Open Battle at 1000 points, a first small engagement, both sides as yet unaware of the strength of the enemy and not willing to commit their main force. If the Dark Elves’ vanguard can establish a small bridgehead, then their following Black Arc can arrive safely and disgorge its entire army onto Tor Helethion en-masse, unmolested. The High Elves what to keep their forces close to the coast to intercept and oppose any larger landing, as well as destroy these raiders. The victory here will decide if the Dark Elves can land without a serious fight.

Here are the army lists:

Here is the battlefield, randomly generated. I’m not a fan of the new terrain placement rules, so just rolled on a table and placed pieces at random (rolling again), then scattered each 2D6 a random direction. It ended with 6 pieces: a small copse of trees, a large rock Tor (impassable), a small ruin, a deep tarn (impassable), rocky ground and a hill (close to the centre). The High Elves, winning the border patrol, got to chose table edges (so by the Tor) but even with their bonus, lost the roll-off for first turn. After deployment, the Dark Elves would begin. 

High Elves near edge, Dark Elves far... attacking from by the small ruin, over the central hill (barely visible under the cloth).

They would attack, from behind the hill, coming over it with the spearmen and war hydra, whilst the crossbows and bolt thrower supported with fire. The left flank was the scouting dark riders to cover, along with Master Vymen leading them. The right flank was the corsairs, who faced a rush to get to grips with the irksome shadow warriors (again).

The High Elves were on the defensive, deployed in thin lines of archers across the centre with their bolt thrower. On their right were the Ellyrian Reavers, their far left, the Shadow Warriors, backed by the Giant Eagle, safe behind the tor to start with. 

Dark Elf centre, to advance over the hill.
The long, thin Sea Guard line, each 15 long, but they will be able to reform swiftly... maximizing fire power for now.


First turn, the Dark Elves moved up at the march. The dark riders killed 2 reavers with crossbow fire and a couple of sea guard fell to long range repeater crossbow fire. Their only spell failed to cast… with both sides having one level 1 wizard, only 1 spell actually went off all game (note to self, more wizards next time).

The High Elf response was to shoot back. A hail of slender arrows killing 1 dark rider with the reaver’s return fire, 2 wounds plucked from the Hydra (we agreed the low hill obscured the large target Hydra for -1/+1). The shadow warrior’s longbows killed 3 corsairs (this is getting predictable), and the eagle flew wide, lining up the repeater bolt thrower for a charge, if it didn’t shoot it down with AA fire first!

The Dark Elf attack continued, cresting the hill, spear block and hydra together. The dark riders charged, the Reavers fired and fled, but not far enough, and dark riders rode them down… so fire and flee is an invitation to get your unit wiped out… maybe don’t do it verses swiftstriding pursuers… it was a bit unlucky, but still… rubbish light cavalry action, I wanted some to-and-fro!

The corsairs closed in for a charge and murderous vengeance, and the bolt thrower’s AA fire scored only a single wound on the eagle - not enough. It would be coming… sqwauk!

Next, the High Elf archery continued, scoring 2 more wounds on the hydra (1 left)… only thanks to its regenerate, and a few spearmen fell too. Their bolt thrower aimed a single bolt at the hydra for a deathblow shot, and missed! The eagle charged and killed 1 bolt thrower crewman with its sharp beak, 1 with its stomp… bolt thrower lost. The shadow warriors fell back, extended the charge range and loosing again into the corsairs, killed 3 more, whittling them away.

Turn 3, and the big charge phase, as is usual in WH… the hydra roared, 1 wound left, and plunged into the sea guard line, as did the dark riders and their boss. The sea guard couldn’t stand and shoot, but reformed into 2 lines for maximum spear attacks… and passed their Terror check against the mighty hydra – indomitable spirit from the marines. The corsairs also charged, and the stand and shoot cut 3 down, and they failed to make it as the shadow warrior’s fire and flee got them away by 1”. ‘Stand and fight, cowardly white skins!’. Yep, the corsairs (3 left) were doomed.

The first combat, and, well, the hydra rolled badly, but killed 2 elves, the dark riders added just 1 more. The sea guard fought well, spearing a dark rider and thus tying the combat, and had a musician… the Dark Elves were pushed back. The spear line had held.

The High Elves’ turn 3 saw a big swing, Noble Elendaer charged into the hydra’s flank, lance lowered, the eagle plunged down on the crossbows (no stand and shoot, too close again) and the shadow warriors shot down a two more corsairs, leaving the champion, who fled!

The combats saw the the High Elf general impale the hydra, but it survived on its regen… then ate two more High Elves before being speared down. The dark riders having lost again, fell back in good order, sea guard following up.

The giant eagle targeted the sorceress with the crossbows (re-rolling shooting to-hits had been good so far, killing 7-8 sea guard in the missile duel). The sorceress died to the eagle, and eagle died to the crossbowmen’s swords… and the only spell finally got cast, a crystal column blocking the spearmen’s charge for next turn… good defence.

Well, that was about it, the Dark Elf army was a mess, so time to flee the field… following the corsair’s example. We called it there, the High Elves having scored 589 VPs to the Dark Elves 264… solid win to the good guys, and we learnt a lot.

This means there is as yet no secure bridgehead for the Dark Elf landings… their Black Arc won’t be unloading just yet. 

Corsairs vs Shadow Warriors, round 2, same as round 1... shot to pieces.

Dark Riders skirmishers meet open order Reavers, quick few shots and charge!

Eagle Claw (and a bit of eagle's wing as well)... rely on it miss when needed...

Dark Riders pursue and destroy the Reavers... early victory points...

Corsair chase the evasive Shadow Warriors around the tor. Lethal archery...

Angry giant eagle takes out the bolt thrower

The Dark Elves close in on the thin blue line beyond the hill.

The Sea Guard line reforms to 2 deep, and then fight the double charge to a standstill (but, I forgot hatred re-rolls (again) and the Hydra's stomp attacks... newbie mistakes... arghh!).

Crossbows pivot around to face the giant eagle, and score just 1 more wound, even angrier eagle now...

The only spell cast all game, a crystal column blocks the spearmen with impassable ground, a neat defence for the last few sea guard, already having taken heavy losses to long range crossbow shooting.

Eagle pecks the sorceress to death, before be slashed to pieces, at least that's diner sorted then!

So, a lesson learnt and a House Rule to trial. 

I do not like long, thin lines of archers, it makes sense in the rules (which encourage it), so you can actually shoot, but looks terrible, is impractical in most games as it takes up so much width of the table. I have never understood the 'front rank only' rule... so – front two ranks all shoot. Archers can easily stagger their positions slightly to fire through a front rank, or it can kneel... so in future, 2 ranks will all shoot for missile troops. Volley shooting still applies, half the rest of the unit, although I might then limit this to long range only, as it's lob shooting... and helps cuts down the gains from 2 ranks (which does instantly double most unit's missile firepower, but shooting feels pretty weak anyway atm). 

I'll try it next game and see how it plays, and then we won't have missile units deployed 10 or 15 long, 1 deep.


Saturday 27 April 2024


My planned long-term Warhammer narrative campaign can finally begin. The two (three) armies are painted (and fully rebased), final units complete (OK, bits still to do, you never actually seem to finish), but good enough to start. I’m still learning the new rules, so the first game would be small, unambitious, using the old rules for a Border Patrol, basically, a 500 pt game with restrictions on characters and unit sizes. I’ve included the old rules below, and they work just fine with the Old World.

Story-wise… the winters seas calming, the Dark Elves have sent their first scouting forces ahead to the Isle of Tor Helethion, to gather intel on the lay of the land and the High Elf forces hold it. These small patrols land from their swift corsair ships at night and make their way inland. The High Elves, ever watchful for such Dark Elf nuisance raids, discover the location of one such patrol and hunt it down, with their tracking Shadow Warriors and own light cavalry patrols. This game is that clash (and another chance to get the rules straight). A short battle, along a 4 x 3 tabletop.

The Dark Elf patrol, led by their ‘Master of the Dark Riders’ Ullas (a master), commanding these first scout forces. I don’t have any Shades, who are made for this scouting work, so Ullas currently has none at his command yet (if I can find some models I like I’ll be adding a unit).

The High Elf are commanded by Raelyn ‘the Archer’, the captain of the island’s Shadow Warrior garrison. A Noble, he leads here, and may well be a returning character in the campaign (if he survives).

The Dark Elves are intercepted as they investigate an ancient Elven monolith, which are scattered across the island, keeping the chaotic winds of magic in check. No wizards in this game, so no effect from it.  

The tabletop:

4x3, hill with ancient magical monolith on top of it, rocky ground, gorse thicket, rock tor (impassable)
Dark Elves the far end, High Elves near.

The selected forces:

In the battle, the light cavalry immediately clashed on the High Elf left, with the Dark Riders repeater crossbows cutting down Ellyrian Reavers, then firing and fleeing from their charge. On the other flank, the Shadow Warriors, deploying via ‘Scout’ into the rocky ground, launch longbow volleys at the corsairs and the crossbowmen on the hill, inflicting damage. Even-stevens…

Units and their general movement.

On Turn 3, Raelyn arrives from ‘Ambush’, behind the Corsairs and his Reaver Bow cuts down 3 more corsairs, who are having a bad day already. The Dark Riders fight off the Reavers weak charge, win and the last Reaver champion flees, but escapes their pursuit. Repeater crossbow fire cuts down more Reavers in the centre. on the hills slope, leaving just one to charge, alone at the crossbows, who flee… a mistake, as they are caught by his swift-striding elven steed and scattered or cut-down! Things take a turn for the worse for the dark-kindred when Raelyn targets their leader and his reaver bow, and with elvish accuracy, shoots Ullas from his horse. The corsair, what’s left of them, reach the rocky ground, charge through it and bring the dangerous Shadow Warriors to a sword fight, which, the Corsairs then just lose, and fall back in good order into the rocks again. Rock cover be damned, another close range volley from the veteran skirmishers bows, born to this work, destroys the last corsairs, so much for sea-dragon cloaks … and that is it .. the Dark Elves concede, just a 3 crossbowmen and 4 Dark Riders left… they have cut down all the Ellyrian Reavers, but the Shadow Warriors and their sniper-boss rule this field today. High Elf win...

The winner of this short game would gain the advantage in the next battle, of being able to pick the table edge and +1 to their roll to take the first turn. The High Elves have out-scouted their enemies and, when the Dark Elves make a move, they will be ready. That 1,000 point game comes next. 

Shadow Warriors in the rocky ground, cutting down crosbowmen and corsairs at range,
but looking cool!
Dark Riders face off the flank Reavers, and defeat them.

The Reavers charge, but narrowly lose the fight to the Dark Riders.

The Harbinger flees and outpaces his pursuit.

Raelyn the Archer arrived behind the corsairs on the High Elf right, and takes aim, to do his thing.  

Then he takes aim at Ullas on the distant hill, and excellent shooting strike the enemy from his saddle, a turning point in this ambush.

The last Reaver charges... a forlorn hope, hoping to die gloriously, but no, he scatters the crossbowmen, a hero!

Just 3 Corsairs finally charge the Shadow Warriors, and lose the fight (I forgot they have hatred and could re-roll their attacks - doh!, learning the game error!.

Having fallen back from the fight, the rocks won't save them either, mercilessly shot down.

The old Border Patrol rules... which we used here (except we allowed characters to spend a bit more, 135 pts actually). 

Wednesday 10 April 2024

The Old World - Dark Elves

Hot on the heels of the High Elves, their black-hearted kin... and the second army for my planned TOW narrative campaign. The army was bought as two job lots off Ebay, and so it was more you 'get what you get' situation, vis units and the actual models. I have since added a few units that were missing, like the Cold One Knights, the Lord on his Black Dragon (wyvern, winged fell beast, whatever you want to call it - a design I much prefer to the old black dragon, and cooly, in flight) and the massive Hydra...

Painting work began on this army in 2020 as a pandemic project, as something to fight my high elves, but stalled out and all my painting time was given over entirely to Napoleonics. It was waited in the box for a few years, some units done, some mostly done, some still in bits or sprayed black, until the release of the Old World. This inspired me to dig them out and see what work still needed completing to get them into fighting shape, not too much it turned out. That's been the last six week's project ... finishing units and re-basing everything. It still isn't done. I have two more Sorceress' on order, one to mount a dark steed, and a Beastlord on Manticore being 3D printed (very very slowly). I also need some Shades... this army seriously lacks scouts and skirmishers... I'll get to them eventually, for now they are on the wish-list, and models is an issue.What to use?

The Army of Zar Nadun is about ready for some first engagements though. The 'Invasion of Tor Helethion' campaign is almost ready to begin... the mighty Black Arc has set sail for Ulthuan's shore... corsair vessels are about to unload their bloodthirsty crews onto the island's shores. First games will be a test/learn the rules deal... so we'll keep it small, maybe a border patrol clash at 500 pts, with scouts, fast cavalry, light infantry only... the first recce troops meeting before the main combat forces arrive and escalate the Dark Elf attacks...we'll see... one army left to complete, the daemonic allies.

Dreadlord on his, erm... 'black dragon'... he'll be the overall commander of the invasion force.

Other heroes, Sorceress, BSB, Noble (or alternative Dreadlord) and assassin.
More wizards required, and on the way...

An old model, but still good... the Throne of Blood and Hag Queen.
Mine will have to be immobile on the battlefield as a house rule.

Core units. 20 Spearmen. 

20 more Spears, might use them as one big block of 40....

12 Crossbows

10 Crossbows

10 more Crossbows... again, actual usage/deployment flexible.

6 Dark Riders, currently the army's only scouts... busy guys...

24 Witch Elves, banner is the mutilated corpse of a High Elf...

28 Corsairs, as light infantry, these will have to be in the vanguard of this invasion,
maybe in smaller units for harassing missions.

The heavy hitters, 9 Cold One Knights, full command.
One model (helmetless one) can be another Noble if required.

The support, first Cold One chariot.

Second Cold One chariot.

Hydra... got to have one, perhaps two...

Not technically in the army list, but who cares, I have one (and no rider for it), so
it'll be another war beast... Manticore and beastmaster... fits fine to me...
don't know why it ain't an obvious option.

Repeater bolt thrower battery.

Taken as Allies, 9 chaos warhounds, and two beastmasters to drive them on.
Expendable...very expendable... Back in the day, Dark Elves could take warhounds as part
of their menagerie. That menagerie of beast seems a bit limited these days...
more gribbly monsters!! Taking a Beastlord should unlock all manner of foul things from the deep places of the world...

A note on painting scheme here: These were done to be the opposite of my high elves. So where they are in clean sea colours of white, aqua blues, light blues and silver, these are: black, dark purples, dark blues, metallic black and metallic blue. I also like my dark elves' skin blue, just because its different to other elves... and all hair is white (unless you're a witch elf with snakes/tendrils for hair, which are green). Ruthless, cold-hearted evilness bleaches your hair...