Like a storm approaching, you could feel it, couldn't you? In your waters.
You will not be disappointed.
This is where Turn 3 left us:
Movement was exciting. There were charges. There were manoeuvres.
There were casualties.
Fortunately, young Abudabi provided an excellent lesson in centrifugal force to Sklif's Shootas, by crushing the vital organs of five of them. As you may well know, even orcs require their vital organs in order to survive, so this brought their fascinating existence to an abrupt and painful halt.
One of the last things those poor orcs ever saw:
I believe we've reached the end of our tether with regards to the shooting phase. The only reliable war machine, the dwarf cannon, had no targets, so bloodshed was at a minimum.
In the end, the dwarves worked out the tricky thing with the crossbows, leading to the wholesale murder of three goblins. The goblins, not as keen on wholesale murder as one might think, chose life, chose a job, chose a career, chose a family, chose a suitably large television, chose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers.
And promptly fled.
Slapdash was having a good time. Apart from the weather, which wasn't brilliant, it was great to be out with the boys, planning to do someone some harm. He loved the banners and the trumpets and the general sounds of fighting. They brought him an enormous sense of peace.
And so far, things had gone well. There had been a bit of an argument earlier in the day - Krunk and the boys up front had had to beat some goblins to get them into the fight, which was always fun. Slapdash had been too far back to be able to contribute, but just the thought that a goblin or five had copped it had made him smile. They'd marched over the body of one of the goblins, and he'd given it a suitably fun kick. Just to make sure - goblins were downright sneaky sometimes, and they would often play dead to avoid their duties. Disappointingly, that goblin really had been dead.
That didn't matter, though. Krunk had a plan. A message had come through the ranks that the dwarves were close and all they needed to do was move a little to the left. Slapdash wasn't big on formations, but he'd lost a finger breaking formation once, so he and the boys 'kept it tight', as Krunk liked to refer to it.
But then came the sound of shouting. There was always shouting, but this shouting had a distinctly different hue to it. On it rode pain, and triumph. In the end, there were two different types of shouting. The first was pregnant with dismay and shame, the second rich with pride and mockery.
"Wot's goin' on?" he asked aloud, craning his head in the direction of the noise.
The other orcs were also curious, mumbling to each other and looking around. Slapdash heard Krunk shouting something, but that was lost in the noise of the other orcs suddenly all jabbering at once.
"Its Sklif's lot!" someone hissed.
"Wot's Sklif's lot?" hissed another.
"Legging it, dat's wot!"
"Who's legging it?" raised an uncertain voice.
"Sklif's lot, is who. Dey're legging it!" came a clear voice through the tumultuous conversation.
There was a brief lull in the din as the boys blinked at each other, each processing this piece of information at their own pace.
Suddenly: "Where are dey going?"
"Why are dey going?"
"How are dey going?"
"I jus' said, din't I - legging it, is wot I said. Dat's how."
Slapdash and another orc nodded in agreement. That made sense.
"Forget how - question is why - an' how come we're still here? If Sklif's lot are off, must be a good reason, innit?"
"You reckon der fights too hard?"
Wide eyed, the orcs started shifting uncomfortably. Slapdash could still hear Krunk shouting somewhere up front, but now most of the orcs were looking back over their shoulders, past Slapdash and his rank.
"Yer - you know Sklif - 'es a good orc. Don't run fer nothing. Must be a giant or summat up dere."
A giant? That caught Slapdash's attention. "A giant? Where?"
"Dere's no giant anywhere!" Krunk shouted, punching an orc as he waded through to the middle of the mob.
"Was too! I saw it - "
"Dere ain't no giant - " Krunk started, but it was too late.
"Giant?" one orc asked.
"Giant, " another confirmed.
"Giant giant?" a third asked, using his hands to denote the potential size of the giant.
"Really giant giant," a fourth mentioned.
Slapdash's blood ran cold. He liked picking on things as much as the next orc, but a giant was a giant. Giants didn't get picked on, they did most of the picking on themselves. Giants were the pickers, and others were the pickees. Slapdash didn't want to end up a pickee.
"I can't do this." he said to no one in particular. "I got kids!"
That was enough for the orcs. Suddenly they all cried out that they had kids, each trying to get behind the other. Soon pushing and shoving led to tripping and scrambling, which in turn gave way to full scale running.
Krunk rubbed his eyes as he watched the rest of his boys run into the distance.
"Sod it, I got kids too. Two of 'em. Put 'em on der slow cooker dis morning. Should be luverly an' tender, now."
He loped off after the boys. As the saying went, a kid in the pot was worth two in the bush. Or something like that.
Let's be honest: you came for the combat phase. Like the citizens of Rome, your bloodthirsty desires bob just below the surface of your supposedly civilised veneer.
Readers! Quench your thirst!
In all, seventeen greenskins were cut down. Hatred had a large part to play in this. Hatred in later editions of the game allowed the hating player to reroll the to-hit dice in the first round of combat. In 3rd edition, it adds +1 to your to-hit roll. Together with charging, and generally being better at fighting, this allowed the Coohrs Light Foote to hit on 2's.
Readers familiar with the little affair over at the Wyemm Seeyay might already know about my dice rolling, so hitting on 2's helped. A lot.
Coohrs Light were able to start a trend in the orc army. By cracking Sklif's Shootas, waves of panic rolled through the orc lines, causing every greenskin to reconsider the value of curry powder.
In almost every case, they found it to be pretty worthless.
Of course, Khan Narbis eventually found his way to Sir Loyne. It would have been nice if Sir Loyne could have found Khan, but he's only a dwarf, and an old one at that. The mountain, it turned out, would have to come to Mohammed after all.
Yasmar Nodrog was with Sir Loyne. He could feel it. Throughout the course of this engagement, Sir Loyne had been mumbling prayers, mainly in the shape of recipes, to his god, calling on divine inspiration to see him through. He had watched the orc leader approaching on his boar. He knew the wild pigs of the forest were exceptionally dangerous, often fighting through ultimately fatal wounds to kill their killers. And, like all dangerous creatures, he knew that the more dangerous it was, the sweeter the eating would be.
He formed a question to his son.
"Here's a quandary," he said. He jabbed his finger at the enemy rider. "How do we get that blasted orc off that boar without hurting it?"
Tendhe Loyne pondered the problem as the orcs marched ever closer. "To be honest, Pop, there's now way you couldn't hurt it unless you politely asked it to get off the boar, I think."
Sir Loyne closed his eyes and rested his palm on his forehead.
"The boar! How do I get the orc off the boar without hurting the boar, you idiot! I have no problem with hurting the orc! In fact, I have every intention of hurting the bloody orc! And don't call me Pop in front of the chaps!"
Tendhe saluted. "Sir, yes sir! Apologies for the confusion! I would imagine that shooting the orc at twenty paces with a pistol should do it nicely, sir!"
His son was right. Sir Loyne closed his eyes, bitter with regret now at leaving his beloved pistol set on the mantelpiece. No point in crying over spilled beer, though - he'd have to do it the hard way. He leaned over and whispered to his son.
"Leave the rider to me. He's mine. Tell the others."
Sir Loyne stepped forward as the orcs slammed into the dwarven line. He had no command of the guttural grunting that appeared to serve the orcs as a language, but by pointing his sword at the orc general and running his finger over his throat, he broadcast a message the orc appeared to understand. Kicking his boar in the ribs, the massive officer careened into Sir Loyne.
Sir Loyne received the boar's tusks directly against his shoulder plate. Hopefully, that was the most pain the creature would suffer before he could get around its flanks and slit its throat. Yasmar Nodrog would be very angry indeed if he did any damage to the muscles.
The impact spun him around, adding to the momentum required to swing his sword. Going full circle, his blade came down hard on the orc's shield. Orc and boar visibly moved under the impact of the blow, but Sir Loyne knew the blow meant nothing.
Khan Narbis didn't have any clever names for tactics, or martial arts, or, well, anything, really. he just knew patterns. If you lived long enough, you could recognise patterns and apply the right pattern in the right place. The pattern was simple: the dwarf had a two handed sword and had separated from his mates. What he would do is swing it full circle to get the maximum power against him. The thing to do was, put the shield in the way, and then wallop the little dope right on the top of the head. That's how this pattern went.
And that's exactly what he did.
Sir Loyne realised that he had underestimated the orc commander. Normal orc equipment was badly maintained and his sword would easily have chewed threw the shield. But this - this was the commander. No doubt, his shield had come from some sturdy dwarf warrior, because it didn't split at all.
The next think he knew was that the sky had fallen in. It felt like the entire thing must have collapsed on his head with an impact like a meteor. He fell to his knees under the force of the attack. Panic rose as he realised he couldn't see anything. Suddenly, the din of battle seemed twice as loud. He heard the pounding of feet and the clattering of metal on metal. Painful cries echoed around him, some near, some far.
Suddenly: hot breath! on his right!
He set his feet and swung the sword with all his might. The blade bit deeply into the ground, the wet grass unable to contest the keen edge of the sword.
Then he could see! His eyes came into focus just as his mangled helmet bounced off the ground. The impact of the sword strike had freed the split remains of the helmet from his head, which he now realised was the thing blocking his vision. Thank Yasmar Nodrog! He yanked the sword from the ground and faced the orcs.
But they were gone.
He quickly realised that Murphy and his boys were jeering and whooping, shouting at the fleeing orcs. Some started to give chase, leading to everyone, even Sir Loyne, enthusiastically charging along behind them, jeering and throwing stones.
Sir Loyne scratched his head. He tried to piece the events together in his head. Evidently, he must have head butted the orc, probably on his weapon hand, causing the thing to break its sword, or its arm, or something. The cowardly thing had probably freaked out at that point, realising that the dwarf could kill it just with his head, and had fled, taking his horrible colleagues with him.
He grunted some thanks to Yasmar Nodrog. The boys didn't know it, but they were bloody lucky he'd come along. He'd clearly saved them with nothing other than the simple sacrifice of his helmet. They didn't seem to realise it, seeming to think they'd fought the orcs off by themselves. But he, and no doubt Yasmar Nodrog, knew better.
Jolly lucky, was all he could say. Jolly lucky, they were.
Sir Loyne issued a challenge, bearing the full brunt of the charging boar and orc warlord. Eventually, Khan Narbis proved to be the more able fighter, skilfully beating his way through the brave paladin's defences to place a wound.
I mention this challenge because I thought it would be a good idea to explain a little house rule we have. The thing with characters in Warhammer, and especially in 3rd edition, is that they can become very overpowering very quickly. We decided that a good approach to combating this, whilst still encompassing the heroic aspect of characters, was to say that figures could only kill figures they were in base contact with. Essentially, this means that a character, or a troll, or anything with lots of attacks or is generally very good at fighting, might really, really butcher anything it can touch. It also means, however, that the entire unit won't be annihilated by one good dice roll. This compels powerful creatures and characters to seek each other out (as would be expected in any good fantasy setting), where their attacks and strength would be of more value, instead of wading through rank and file units, whilst their own unit stands back, clapping and cheering. Heroes become heroes, not just a different type of unit.
This explains why Ruger was constantly taking rout tests and losing combat, even though (on paper) he had a stat-line that said he would almost always draw combat. As it was, he very nearly routed this turn!
Unfortunately for Khan, Larlog's Lashers succumbed to panic at the very moment of his triumph, casting his victory into doubt and no doubt saving the life of Sir Loyne.
So, Turn 4 ended with much screaming and running. The only greenskin unit still facing the dwarves was the Man Mangler.
Will Khan Narbis be able to regain control of his army? Will Sir Loyne finally clear the way to his beloved curry powder? Will Abudabi collect a further toll on the orcs & goblins? Find out in Turn 5!