Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The 'Battle' of Nebelheim

Conrad von Krapp, Master of the Black Arts, Raiser of the Dead, Lord of the Ten Towns, Wielder of the Dark Flame of Canduin, leaned forward and glared at the messenger, his eyes blazing red. "Say what?"

The messenger sighed inwardly. "My Lord, through a series of unlikely events that don't really need to be explored at this juncture, a force of Lizardmen has invaded the hamlet of Nebelheim."

Von Krapp leaned back in his throne and steepled his bony fingers. "The bloody cheek!" He muttered.  "Bloody dinosaurs trampling all over my food sou-- I mean, my noble peasants whom I am sworn to protect!" He glanced around, hoping nobody had caught his little slip. 

The courtiers shifted uncomfortably, trying not to catch his burning eye and pretending not to notice the way the candlelight reflected from his fangs. 

"Right, time to teach those scaly buggers a lesson. Assemble my forces!"


It seems only fair to admit something at this point. Many moons ago I used to work for an Unnamed Games Company for whom I wrote rules, editing other writers rules and creating scenarios. In all my years of playtests - many, many playtests - and in all my years of hobby gaming, I have never won a battle.

Not once.

Not even using rules that I wrote.

So you can imagine that my hopes weren't high as I went in to my first game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle since Skull Pass. I wasn't sure on the new edition rules, I was using someone else's army and my choices were limited by what miniatures they had.

I picked Vampire Counts because... Well, because Undead are cool. Let's not kid ourselves. My general style of play varies depending on the game and army but my basic plan here was to March shambling beasts straight down the throat of the enemy, supported by my Necromancer, while a unit of Hexwraiths* rode backwards and forwards over the rear lines like they'd escaped from Johnny Cash singing Riders In The Sky.

So, I set up the forces like so.

On the other side were... I dunno, some lizards. They had a big looking dinosaur which I figured would cause me some problems and a few Cold One riders**. Oh, and there were some skinks. But come on - they're the Kobolds of Warhammer. How much trouble could they cause me?

So there's the set up. My scaly opponent won the roll to go first, shockingly.

The magic phase arrived and his tiny little skink priest cast a spell which placed a marker on the table. This marker shows where a comet may - or may not - strike at some point in the game depending on a die roll. And, as you can see, he placed it right in front of my main block of troops. Some desultory missile fire which totally missed all of my chaps and that was his turn over.

My turn arrived, and I launched my master plan. The flanking Varghulf - a big monster, quite capable of ripping through a unit of cavalry - was in a position to charge at his Cold One riders.

The huge monster, however, decided that there was a daisy that really needed to be examined somewhere on the floor a few inches in front of it and failed the charge.

My insanely powerful Necromancer then completely failed to cast a spell. I assume he was distracted by a bird, or something. And that was my turn.

So, turn 2. The lizards charge into my main blocks. My plan is working perfectly. The Hexwraiths and Varghulf are still free on the flanks to sweep round the back and take the opposing army roughly from behind. The magic phase arrives and we casually throw a dice for the unlikely event that the comet lands.

It does.

See that green die? That's where it landed. See everything else in the picture? That's in the blast radius. 

Now, I could take you through all the maths on this. And tell you exactly how many hits were smashed into my units and the lizard units that had charged into combat with them.

Instead, I'll just show a picture of all the troops that were killed by the comet cast by the tiny little skink priest standing in front:

For those you keeping count at home, that's over two thirds of all the models on the table - including my general.

Most of the rest of my army promptly crumbled to dust.

Regardless of the outcome, it was a really good game. We spent a lot of time laughing and got a great war story - which is kind of the whole point, isn't it? Had it been a normal game we'd've probably forgot it in a few weeks. As it is, we'll always remember the day a single skink took out an entire undead army.


Ss'lik stared at the massive crater where both armies had been. The gaped at the wisps of smoke that curled up towards the sky that had - just a moment ago - torn open with the fury of the Old Ones but was now blue and calm. He slowly looked down at his finger. 

"Whoah," he said. 

*For those not familiar with the things I'm talking about, Hexwraiths are ethereal cavalry who do damage simply by riding through a unit. Enormous fun - or so it seemed.

**my previous experience of Cold Ones was spending an awful lot of money modelling some really cool looking Dark Elf Cold One Knights who failed their stupidity tests and spent the battle sniffing daisies somewhere on the left flank. In every single battle in which I fielded them. Seriously. Every time.


  1. Got to admit to laughing out loud at seeing the results of that 'devastating' comet :D

    Got to admit (after reading your cv) to feeling slighting worried about you reading my blog game rules ;)

    1. I wouldn't worry; it was a long time ago and there would only have been one you'd have heard of.

      And any game is a good game - I think that battle of WFB proved that!

    2. Totally agree. It's the games where the spectacularly unexpected or near illogical occur that make up most gamers campaign memoirs.

      Two that come immediately to my mind are games of Blood Bowl; a game where I rolled 21 attacker downs (though not in sequence, thankfully) and another where I fielded 15 players by mistake on the board and neither I nor my opponent noticed till somebody else pointed it out come the 2nd half.

    3. And those are the games that I'd most like to read the commentaries on. "Well, Chet, it looks like what we thought was one Orc Blocker is, in fact, three goblins in a trenchcoat..."

  2. This was an absolutely joy to read - go Skinks!

  3. Bloody magic. Wellington never had this problem.