I think it’s fair to say the Ratkin Slave list for Kings of War is not considered the most competitive. In some ways that makes it ideal for me. I’m not the world’s most competitive player (after 1 game in the tournament season starting in 2019 I’m the 123rd player in the UK – even without Covid I wouldn’t have expected that to change much). As a committed Ratkin player the Slave list is a relatively quick way of putting together another army to play, whilst also making me think how easy it would be stretch to a full Abyssal Dwarf army (it’s almost like there might be some sort of marketing strategy going on at Mantic HQ). So now I’ve given my reasons/excuses for using them… here’s the game.
1 & 2 – Slave Warrior regiments with The Last Breath
3 – Slave Warrior regiment with The Crystal Pendent of Retribution
4 – Immortal Guard regiment with Brew of Strength and Throwing Mastiff
5 – Immortal Guard regiment with Throwing Mastiff
6 – Decimator troop
7 – Slave Nightmares horde with Blessing of the Gods
8 – Slave Nightmares horde
9 – Slave Tunnel Runner regiment with Potion of the Caterpillar
10 – Slave Tunnel Runner regiment with Brew of Sharpness
11 – Slavedriver with Diadem of Dragonkind
12 – Iron-Caster
13 – Abyssal Halfbreed Champion with Mournful Blade
14 – Golekh Skinflayer
15 – Allied Hackpaws
1 & 2 – Morax troops
3 & 4 – Longax regiments
5 – Ax horde
6 – Gore Rider regiment with Jesse’s Boots
7 – Gore Rider regiment with Potion of the Caterpillar
8 & 9 – Skulk Outrider troops
10 & 11 – Orcling regiments
12 – War Drum
13 – Giant
14 – Krudger on Winged Slasher with Brew of Haste
15 – Flagger with Lute of Insatiable Darkness
16 – Krusher on Gore
17 – Gakamak
Azzirghar, Iron Caster of the Golden Caste Keep, lazily flicked his hand. A fly that had been busily buzzing near him exploded in a tiny ball of purple flame. The day was warm and unobjectionable, even for Azzirghar, other than the minor matter of a few smelly orcs that needed to be dealt with. He sniffed the air, rummaged around in a pouch and fished out a small golden box. He took a generous pinch of the orange powder inside and snorted it. The powder burnt the inside of his nose, but the respite from the stench of the orcs combined with the far from wholesome reek of rotten rat flesh was worth it.
“Right,” Azzirghar shouted “Let’s get this over with. Kill the scum.”
Inspirational it was not, but sadly representative of Azzirghar’s abilities as a general. Around him whips began to crack and the host moved forward.
On the left flank Golekh urged his chariot forward. The Tunnel Runners moved up whilst the allied Hackpaws scouted ahead of the main line. Golekh didn’t trust the Hackpaws. Rats could be vicious to each other, but he had observed they had a powerful and perverse loyalty to each other. The idea that these scouts had joined the army to support his noble people just didn’t feel right. However, there was no time to dwell on it, there were far bigger things to worry about, like the massive hill that occupied much his deployment area. From the noise and the presence of the towering orc giant it was obvious a substantial part of the enemy was hidden behind it.
Golekh had questioned Azzirghar’s orders to deploy the chariots here, after all chariots did their best work on flat ground, riding against a slow and highly visible enemy. Azzirghar had agreed, in principal, but pointed out that there was undoubtedly little requirement for optimal performance, given the sub optimal nature of the enemy. He was also greatly concerned that he should not have to run the risk of walking up hills in pursuit of victory, regardless of how great the victory was. The conversation moved on, Golekh’s stunned silence taken as awed agreement.
Gakamak smiled a broad toothy grin. He grunted and motioned with his axe. The orc cavalry eased forward knowing they had the advantage of speed on their flank. The Skulks sent a small volley or arrows into one of the Rat Warrior regiments, but their fear of the slavers’ whips was far greater than their fear of a few pointed sticks. The slavering Winged Crusher leapt into the sky with its rider holding tightly to his saddle. It was not a graceful creature, but there was clearly a certain artistry of motion as it lurched awkwardly from left to right until it found an air stream to support it and send it swooping down the rat’s right flank, curious to see what was on the menu.
A gout of green flame shot from the blight cannons of one of the Nightmare hordes into a troop of Skulks, but it did little to dampen the orc’s enthusiasm for the fight. Meanwhile, Azzighar was now aware of the large amount of orc cavalry that had materialised to his right. He calmly issued orders to his slave driver who set about forcing the other Nightmare horde to turn to face the emerging threat. By contrast the Decimators and one of the Immortal Guard regiments moved neatly in response to single word commands to meet the same threat.
In the centre of the field one of the Rat Warrior regiments charged a unit of Orclings waivering it, inadvertently blocking one of the few clear paths for the chariots to the enemy. Golekh cursed as his chariot and Tunnel Runners milled around trying to find the best ways to position themselves around the hill. As accomplished Azzirghar was as a magician Golekh was now convinced beyond any doubt his military skills really were as poor as he had heard.
The Tunnel Runners desperate attempts to organise themselves inevitably opened up gaps which the battle hardened orcs recognised and exploited immediately. The Krusher on the far left of the orc line spurred his mount into action letting out a mighty roar as he smashed into a regiment of Tunnel Runners. The drivers sneered at the stupidity of the orc before realising that the lone rider had co-ordinated his charge with a regiment of Orclings that had snuck around their flank. Suddenly they found themselves bogged down as the Giant lumbered towards them.
On the right the orc cavalry struck. The Gore Riders and the Slasher rushed in against the horde of nightmares that had turned to face them, tearing them limb from limb. Gakamak and the other regiment of Gore Riders struck at the Nightmares, but under the heavy glare of the slave driver they refused to back down, despite taking heavy losses. The troops of Skulks both grasped opportunities, with one troop charging a regiment of warriors in the flank and the other attempting to bring down the lone slave driver in the middle of what was rapidly developing into a desperate melee. However, both charges failed to deliver, with their respective targets managing to survive.
It was now the Skulk’s turn to face their enemies’ blows. The slave driver withdrew from his combat signalling desperately for the Immortal Guard to help him. The stoic gold clad warriors did as they were ordered, and the resulting fight lasted mere moments with the Outriders deciding discretion was the better part of valour, dissolving in the direction of the Orc camp. The other Skulks were flank charged by a regiment of Rat Warriors. With nowhere to run to the troop quickly met a bloody end at the points of the warriors’ spears.
Azzirghar was starting to feel the pressure, he hoped that Volekh was fairing better on the left flank, there was a good chance he would need rescuing. He was now barking confused orders, trying to pull together some semblance of a co-ordinated defence. By luck, more than judgement the Decimators, the Slave Driver, Azzighar and the Immortal Guard regiment not in combat managed to fire at the same time towards the oncoming Gore Riders, waivering them. The Decimators started to reload their weapons, but the Winged Slasher swept in and ate them whilst the Gore Riders engaged with the Nightmares finished them off.
It was at this point that Gakamak got bored. His cavalry was more than a match for the dwarfs, and he saw no reason to compete for scraps with his own warriors when other, more glorious opportunities awaited him on the other side of the field. Manoeuvring around Rat Warrior regiments charging his infantry he rode towards the Tunnel Runners, smashing into their side and battering one of the great metal wheels. Whilst the attack did little physical damage the satisfaction of a new, more challenging opponent filled Gakamak with joy.
The Abyssal Halfbreed Champion watched, shaking his head with great irritation, as the Tunnel Runners counter charged the Orc Krusher whilst the Orclings stabbed their little spears into cogs and gears, slowly pulling the machines apart.
“Filthy useless slaves.” The champion snarled, “You can give ‘em all the weird and wonderful war machines in the world, but they’re still just slaves.” The veteran of many battles could tell the tide was turning very quickly against the rats, as chariots and tunnel runners were charged and bogged down. Even the master charioteer Volekh had been outwitted by a regiment of Longax who had charge down the bloody hill and were now pressing the charioteer for all he was worth. Despairing of the situation he looked around to see the Giant poised to join the combat. Wherever the creature went it would wreak absolute havoc; it had to be stopped. The Halfbreed raised his hammer and charged head long into the creature. There was desperation in the action, but on balance, no more than was proportionate given the situation.
Volekh’s mind and body worked overtime as he tried to find a way out of the battle that was rapidly descending into a wholesale slaughter of Azzighar’s forces. He noticed a small band of rag tag orcs just to the right of the Long Ax he was currently engaged with. If he could break through them he would stand a chance of escaping the battle in one piece, even if his beloved chariot, and pride, was somewhat more dented than it had previously been. With a lot of furious whipping of orcs, as much as the Night Terror pulling his chariot, he extricated himself from the combat and charged at the troop of Morax at the very top of the hill. A combination of the damage to his chariot and the energy he had already expended meant he was tired by the time he reached the Morax. The resulting combat was short and decidedly not in Volekh’s favour.
The remaining Tunnel Runners also succumbed to the orc regiments that now crowded around them with only the Halfbreed holding on as he furiously dodged the heavy blows that rained down from the Giant.
On the right flank, things were only going marginally better for Azzighar. A flurry of disorganised shooting wounded but failed to rout, or waiver, either regiment of Gore Riders. A regiment of Immortal Guard charged the Winged Slasher wounding it only enough to anger it sufficiently that the beast tore into their armoured ranks splitting tall helmets and swallowing so many that no real resistance remained.
It was now more by luck than any of Azzighar’s planning, or tactical genius, that pockets of dwarfs remained fighting. A troop of Morax on the right flank had been badly damaged by the Pendent of Retribution, triggered as the slave warriors that had carried it fled the field. The slave driver targeted them with his Diodem of Dragonkind flaming the last of their number out of existence. The remaining Immortal Guards finally routed one of the Gore Rider regiments, only to see the other race past them charging into Azzighar with the Slasher.
Turn 6 and 7
At this point the Abyssal Dwarfs had been all but wiped out. The Slasher had developed quite a taste for dwarf flesh after finishing of Azzighar and charged the remaining Immortal Guard regiment with Gakamak. The Guards stood to the last, managing to slay Gakamak, but were ultimately overcome as Gore Riders smashed into their flank. And finally the Halfbreed Champion succumbed to a mixture of exhaustion, wounds and repeated battering by the giant’s club. Azzighar had, in some ways been successful in his planning, there had indeed been a great victory and he had not had to walk up any hills for it to be achieved.
The dust settles
This was an undeniable loss and there’s pretty much no getting away from that. My list was not the best, partially due to a limited selection of units, but there were definitely some other issues. Probably the most important issue was the poor set up with the hill preventing the Tunnel Runners playing to their strengths.
Credit where its due
Small shooty units – whilst I didn’t quite pull it off in this game the flexibility and responsiveness Decimator troops and throwing doggos can provide is pretty powerful. When the Gore Riders made their initial approach, after riding down the nightmares, I split my fire between both Gore regiments hoping I could remove both of them. It didn’t work and I paid for it.
The Abysssal Halfbreed Champion – what a tough character this guy is managing to tie up a giant for 3 or 4 turns, enough said.
BTW – everything I write are my own opinions, no matter how misguided or flat out wrong they may be. They definitely don’t reflect the views and opinions of anyone or anything else. Anything meaningful, useful or otherwise worthwhile is purely co-incidental.