Wednesday, 14 May 2014
War in the Underway - battle one
Gruzzkup sniffed the air. Down here in the dark foetid caverns deep beneath the mountains the air was stale and dank. But Gruzzkup could smell something. The sharp, invasive tang of intruders. A mass of them he smelled – greenskins, like his own tribe. Seeking shelter he guessed, fleeing something bigger and more powerful than them, looking for a place to lie low, lick wounds and then return to the fight.
But these caverns were Gruzzkup’s. He’d led da boys here, driven the stunties and the ratmen off, subjugated the pale moon worshiping runts and formed a kingdom of his own. This was his place; no-one just marched in here and claimed it as their own. He hefted his choppa, kicked a few scampering snotlings from around his bed and surveyed the lads all dozing around the cave. His body pulsed with the rhythms of Gork and Mork, da Waaagh was rising and he had heads to crush
After the qualified success of our Sigmar’s Blood campaign recently we were casting around for another hobby gee-gaw to get our creative juices flowing.
I’d heard about the underway, an online campaign available for download from iTunes. Currently it’s only available on the iPad. GW claims this is because it allows certain features to be enabled, but clearly the subtext is that if you don’t have the latest techno wizardry from Apple you’re not a proper hobbyist.
Fortunately my chum is a PROPER HOBBYIST ™ and is in possession of an iPad, so he was able to download the campaign for about a fiver. And what you get is pretty good value for money (if you ignore the entry requirement of a £300 iPad).
A simple campaign structure with some nice little quirks and a clever campaign tracker (which is the bit iPads can do that Androids can’t).
I was determined to use my greenskins as this would provide me with a reason to actually finish off some units and maybe finally get a fully painted and based army. My opponent also selected to be greenskins – partly because he fancied doing the army, but mostly because Orcs v Orcs makes for a funny match-up.
We therefore picked ourselves 1500pts of Orcs and Goblins each. To add a layer of entirely unnecessary complexity we decided the campaign will be an escalation one, with the first two games at 1500 pts., the second two 2K and the last ones 2500 pts. (if we get that far). This will mean the armies evolve a bit and we can add cool stuff as we go along.
After picking your army you each secretly pick a stratagem, and then you compare the two stratagems in order to decide which games you’ll play next. We’d both picked some sort of advance stratagem, which meant our first game would actually be three games. We were required to split our armies into three sub armies, with one twice the size of the others and then pitch them into combat against one another, without knowing which army you’d be be facing. Whoever wins most out of the three games wins the round….
And so to the first game – my small goblin force against a modest (but still scary Orc army). It was time to get the Underway campaign, ahem, under way…
Nubbinz da Gitt clasped tightly onto the horns of his ferocious Giant Squig Muncha and let rip what was either a war-cry or a wail of fear. Some of the spear goblins nearby giggled, and a smattering of sharp stones was flung at their slightly deranged leader. With one bounce, Muncha and rider waded into the mob and a hideous gulping sound soon calmed any signs of insubordination.
“Right den lads, dere’s some uvva greenies after our mushrooms and da boss sez we gotta stop em!” Nubbinz shouted. The hooded heads of the tribe nodded their agreement. Or simply watched Muncha bouncing up and down – it was difficult to tell.
“Youse lot block da way and stick ‘em wiv arrerz, me and Muncha’ll nip round the back and take ‘em by surpriiiiiiiiiise….”
The goblins watched as the angry red blob bounced off into the darkness with Nubbinz clinging on and alternately wailing and soiling himself. However their attention was soon dragged from the amusing spectacle as from behind the column of rock in the centre of the cavern they could just make out the shapes of orcs and warboars bearing down on them. As they marshalled themselves to defend the cavern, the roof issued an ominous cracking sound….
Da fin black line
The Underway campaign has several (well, quite a lot) of random events and distractions that are rolled for at the start of various turns, all of which are designed to give a special underground flavour. The first of these is a cave-in roll that may happen at the start of each player turn. Sure enough the first turn of the campaign saw a cave in occur, and a chunk of the ceiling came crashing down and killed a bunch of my goblins. This is the reason I’ve now fabricated a cave-in marker.
Realizing the cavern side he was bouncing along was empty Nubbinz frantically hauled on the soft fleshy parts of Muncha’s head and forced the rabid creature to turn right and head back toward the fast advancing Orcs. Despite seeing some of their fellows crushed by falling rocks the Night Goblins held firm and Kint Uckee , leader of da Bloo Moonz even managed to pluck a boarboy from his saddle. Wailing frantically Nubbinz and Muncha bounced into the Savage Orcs who promptly thrust their leader forward to fight the slavering beast.
Boing, slavver, boing
One of the other rules for Underway is that there’s 50% chance one of your units will be affected by pit traps and have to take difficult terrain tests. As I’d decided largely to stand still (spears and missile weapons) this wasn’t so bad for me, but had a detrimental effect on the Boarboyz
With a rabid yell, the boarboys spurred their mounts on toward the archers. A swirling goblin mass launched himself from the ranks spinning an enormous metal ball and whirled through the boarboys, who parted and let him through with no consequences! Fortunately Kint Uckee was able to kill one with a well-placed arrow before another lost his footing in the darkness and threw his rider with a sickening thud. The two remaining warriors crashed into the puny archers, but astonishingly they were pulled down and gutted before they could wreak havoc. Kint Uckee raised his bow high and let forth a puny warcry of triumph. Muncha lurched forward and bit a chunk out of the Savage Orc before him, but the vicious Orc raised his stone axe high and hacked back. Gathering all his courage Nubbinz hung on and prepared to fight again. Amongst the archers a vicious argument broke, out, punches were thrown and suddenly they lurched forward and hurled their spitting mass at into the flank of the savage Orcs. Delighted to take a break from watching their leader, the big greenskins hefted their crude weapons and smashed the goblins to the ground. Muncha meanwhile failed to hurt the warboss, who ended his bouncing with a thump of his axe. Nubbinz gathered his soiled robes about himself and fled, as did the remaining Bloo Moonz, but not quickly enough to escape the onrushing Savage Orcs.
Run fer it!
At this point I realised I might actually be winning. And I certainly didn’t fancy my chances with a unit of Night Goblin spears against a virtually untouched mob of Savage Orcs.
Backing away from the carnage Da Stikkas cowered behind the recent rockfall and hoped the rampaging Savage Orcs would just leave them be. Nubbinz meanwhile, paused in headlong flight and gathered his breath and thoughts. Only for a huge ball and chain to crash through his skull and bring his battle to an abrupt end.
And so the battle drew to a close. The savage Orcs didn’t have time to get round to the Night Goblins and I passed the Animosity test that would have forced me to charge them (with fatal consequences).
We totalled up the points, to discover that we’d had a draw.
We then totalled them up again a bit later remembering to add in the captured standard to discover a narrow win for the Orcs.
Then we had another go when I got home, checked my army list and discovered there wasn’t a standard for them to capture.
Finally I remembered that Nubbinz was my general for this game and he was dead, so it was a narrow Orc victory after all.
“’Salright lads, I fink dey’ve gone” Nikka da Stikka whispered to the rest of da Stikkas. “I fink we got away wiv it”. There was a small, feeble cheer.
“Right, let’s get back to Gruzzkup and let him know it was all Nubbinz fault”
You can read an alternate version of events over on Stevos MiniBlog