Shroud of The Reaper tournament report

With no tournaments in April, I was really excited to wake up very early on Saturday morning and hit the road. This time I was heading to beautiful Bexley for my first Shroud of the Reaper Tournament. Not only was it great to see some familiar faces, but the event pack included a couple of non-book scenarios which were going to make life interesting.

Having played a range of different lists from the start of the year with varying levels of success I decided to put something together that really played to the rat’s strength. To me that means as much rallying as possible, a handful of chaff, loads of melee 4, Scud and Cryza.

The List – 2345 points

Wretch Horde

Shock Troop Hordes (2) with plague pots, 1 with Brew of Strength, 1 with Blade of Slashing

Tunnel Runner Regiments (2), 1 with Brew Sharpness, 1 with Jesse’s Boots

Vermintide Regiments (3)

Hackpaw Regiment

Mutant Rat Fiend

Brute Enforcers (2), 1 with Inspiring Talisman

Mother Cryza


In addition to the army, there was also a special character which was a large cavalry unit that generated random auras each turn. It was an interesting addition to the force, but I don’t remember it contributing anything overly impactful to any of my games.

Game 1 vs Ratkin Slaves

Scenario – Gold Rush: players place seven loot counters anywhere on the board. For each loot counter gathered players receive 1 VP.

I was facing off against Mark, the TO’s, Ratkin slave army. The army consists of a couple of Impalers, Cryza’s Impaler, Golek, an Overmaster on big flying beastie, the formation (exploding rats), and about 8 other regiments of exploding rat warriors. Having played the army before I knew just how devastating the Impalers can be when acting together, and Golek’s Rally (2) makes them really hard to kill. I wasn’t surprised to see them all bunched together at the centre of his set up, surrounded by regiments of warriors.

After deployment I had Scud and the Hackpaws on the left, facing his big flying beastie and a warrior regiment. My infantry hordes were in the centre, clustered around the Mutant Rat Fiend, with a Tunnel Runner regiment at each end.

I won the first turn and moved forward cautiously with my line. I really needed to find ways of hampering the Impalers, reducing their opportunities to triple charge anything, and hopefully kill them off one by one. On the left flank a good round of shooting, and poor regen, from Scud and Cryza did some damage to the big beastie, and it decided to risk a charge into Scud. I wasn’t particularly worried about it as the creature only has 9 attacks so was unlikely to do that much damage. In return Scud hit back causing a substantial number of wounds before rolling a double 1. It was unhelpful, more unhelpful was that the beastie then wavered Scud. Fortunately, I had been prepared for that possibility and the special character was facing the rear of the beastie, charged in the next turn and took it off the field.

In the centre the massed ranks of infantry closed together and a tit for tat removal of units began. Fortunately, I had enough chaff to slow down the Impalers, at least for a bit. One of the biggest issues with this army is deciding how to approach the removal of exploding warrior units. They can do up to 6 wounds on a unit, weakening it substantially and making it much more vulnerable to future attacks. In one case my Sharpness Tunnel Runners took a regiment off and received 5 wounds. Very unhelpful.

To a certain extent, you just have to suck it up. However, against this type of army the Mutant Rat Fiend really came into its own, munching though regiments and regenerating damage. Despite taking damage pretty much every turn, it never got beyond about 5 wounds.

With the big beastie gone on my left flank Scud turned to grab a token.The Hackpaws exploited a slight positioning error on the Slave Warrior Horde, managing to get a flank and wavering it. The next turn they finished the job and picked up a few wounds for their troubles. As the turns progressed the Slave Warriors were cleared out, but the damage they had left from their explosions meant Golek and Cryza’s Impaler were able to pick my own units off without too much resistance. I had gathered 2 tokens with Scud and a Vermintide regiment, whilst the Slaves held 5. Fortunately, one of the Slave Warrior regiments had 2 tokens and at turn 6 was within charge range of both my remaining Tunnel Runner Regiment and the Mutant Rat Fiend. Unfortunately, the clock was against me. With just a few seconds to go I charged the Tunnel Runners in and wavered the regiment, not thinking I would have time to move the Mutant Rat Fiend and complete the dice rolls for that combat as well. I finished the turn with 22 seconds on the clock. It looked like it would be a Slave victory, then a turn 7 arrived, the clock started again. This time I moved the Mutant Rat Fiend in, as it would roll less dice than the Tunnel Runners and I only really needed to generate a nerve check to have a decent chance of taking them off the table. Could I complete the combat in time?

The hits were rolled. The wounds were rolled. Not worrying too much about totting up the damage I went to roll the first nerve test… the clock beeped… the game went to the Slaves.

Whilst it’s always a shame to potentially lose a game to the clock (there’s always the chance of a double 1) playing to the clock is a skill in itself, and I came up wanting. Undoubtedly there were things I could have done better, Scud being a case in point. I’m sure he could have been put to better use in the centre, but that probably would have led to more thinking time, which would, in turn, lead to even worse use of the time that I had.

Game 2 vs Halflings

Scenario – Kill Zone: this was a slightly awkward scenario that involved securing four areas on the board, each delivering a different number of victory points.

This is my first game against the new halfling list, so it was quite exciting. Going into the game I was conscious of the clock, and the complexity of the scenario. Looking through my opponent’s list I wasn’t overly concerned by any one element of it, but I also wasn’t too sure about how it would work on the table. By the end of the deployment phase I was a little more concerned. On my left flank he had a horde of Braves. In the centre was a block of defence 6 with 2 harvesters, and the Iron Beast, accompanied by 2 hordes of Stalwarts and a host of individuals. To my right was a mass of shooting units, scouts, and Forest Troll Gunners, as well as Aeronauts and Ej Grenadiers.

I decided to try and grab the central scoring zones. On my right flank Scud zapped the Ej Grenadiers off the table in the first turn. Then, with the Hackpaws attempted to push around into the centre. The Hackpaws were lost to a flank charge from Aeronauts, and Scud proceeded to dance around behind the lines trying to avoid shooting whilst also looking for a charge that wouldn’t result in him taking multi charges in the flanks and rear if he failed to one shot whatever he went after. Whilst there weren’t many on offer, he did manage to tie up several units for a handful of turns which meant their focus was well away from the centre.

The centre was a far better affair for the rats. The Stalwarts either ended up hindered or ensnared from pots, allowing my Brew of Strength Shock Troops to work their way through them with the help of the Wretches and a Brute Enforcer. Next to them the Sharpness Tunnel Runners, Cryza and the special character worked through the Harvesters, whilst the Ironbeast stood its ground and ignored whatever I did to try and start chipping wounds away from it.

All in all, the plan was working. Helpfully my opponent held back his horde of Braves on my left flank until the final turns of the game, which took the pressure off my units in the centre but did mean they were able to walk almost unopposed onto one of the objectives, whilst the Forest Trolls took the objective on the other side of the board. That meant coming into turn 6 the Halflings were holding 2 VPs and I had one of the zones that would allow me 2 VPs. As a result, it all came down to the final zone which was worth 3 VPs. The only scoring unit the Halflings had in it was the Iron Beast, however, the centre had become something of a log jam throughout the game and that meant there was only 1 scoring unit I could move in to contest the zone and neutralise the Iron Beast’s unit strength. That made the game a draw, and a win for me could only come about from one shotting the unharmed, defence 6 Iron Beast with the Sharpness Tunnel Runners and Cryza. Alas, it was not to be, and so the game ended in a draw.

 I enjoyed this game a lot because it was facing an army that I’d never played before. I was really impressed by how the force worked and it will hopefully give me some impetus to get on with my own short soldiers. I know there were a couple of things I could have done better, if only because my Mutant Rat Fiend spent most of the game stood at the back doing nothing because of the log jam in the centre. I think if I’d pushed him forward earlier, he may have been able to get stuck into the Iron Beast and maybe cleared that 3 VP zone out. That being said this was the first time I played this scenario, and it was quite challenging to keep track of where the central scoring zones were. All told there was a lot going on, together with some rule’s questions, which meant I didn’t quite have sufficient clarity of thought to pull off the win. I did manage to play to time though which I was really happy with, which put me into a good frame of mind going into the final game with a loss and a draw under my belt. Could the only way be up?

Game 3 vs Nightstalkers

Scenario – Protect and Raze: similar to Raze, but points can be scored for keeping control of opponent’s objectives not razed.

The Nightstalkers were a really nice balanced army, although there were quite a few butchers! There was a little bit of everything with 2 regiments of Shadow Hounds, a regiment of Phantoms, a Terror, a Scarecrow horde, a Doppleganger regiment, 2 Horrors, a Banshee, troop of Needlefangs and 2 hordes and a regiment of Butchers.

All the Nightstalker’s fast units went on my right flank, with the Horror and Dopplegangers. The Scarecrows went in the centre, and the Butchers and Needlefangs to my left. I set up similarly to the previous game. Wretches and Shock Troops in the centre, Sharpness Tunnel Runners and Cryza on my left flank and Scud, the Hackpaws and the other Tunnel Runners on my right.

My big concern was the Horror. Ensnare is a really useful thing against an army where hardly anything hits on anything better than a 4. I could see a scenario where it could quite easily munch through the centre of my army. On the plus side though with Nightstalkers their lack of inspiring is something I felt a lot more comfortable trying to exploit given the number of high nerve units and pots I have in this list.

An opening blast of lightning bolt took the Needlefangs off the table in my first turn. My right flank moved forward, but I decided to keep my left flank back, choosing to offer a charge to one unit of the Shadow Hounds on my wretches and the Hackpaws to the other. Both of these were hindered, and the hounds took them, failing to route either unit. The result was a counter strike to one unit from some Tunnel Runners, which removed them, and a lack lustre fight back from the Wretches. The downside was that my Tunnel Runners would be taking a charge from the Terror in the next turn.

Having the Terror charge into my Tunnel Runners meant I had a big beastie, that was going to be hard for me to kill, behind my lines. Some tough decisions had to be made. In the centre I decided to throw one of the Shock Troop hordes forward into a Butcher Horde and put the Mutant Rat Fiend into the Scarecrows. The Shock Troops dropped their plague pots, expecting to be in for a bit of a grind as they were making a hindered charge but between a reasonable amount of hits and a high nerve check the Butchers never got to fight back. The Mutant Rat Fiend managed a few wounds, but would take another turn, and another high nerve check, to rout the Scarecrows.

Slowly the Nightstalker centre dissolved, Scud tore through the Phantom Regiment, the Hackpaws stole a flank on the remaining Shadow Hounds, before heading off to grab an objective, and on my left flank Cryza’s battle group dismantled whatever resistance they found. The only real remaining fight was around the Horror, as I threw units into it in a bid keep it penned in.

By turn 6 the rats had secured 4 objectives to the Nightstalker’s 3. It was great way to end the day and meant the rats pulled into 9th place overall.

Final thoughts

What a day! I actually couldn’t be happier with the way it went. This was my best set of results since January. The army could not have been more different than what I took for Staines of Blood (quite aside from the fact there was a points difference between the event). The army I took in January gave me far less confidence as the day went on, this time though I felt with each game I had a much better handle on how it all worked. Yes, there was a bit of a timing issue on the first game, and a lack of familiarity of scenario in the second game, but these are all weirdly enjoyable parts of the game. I’m now looking forward to my next couple of events which will be 2,300 points a piece. It does mean that I will have to drop 45 points, and I have a fair idea as to where that drop should come from.

All praise has to go to the Mutant Rat Fiend, which was undoubtedly the rat of the match. Fiends are a typically Ratkin Unit. In many ways pretty decent, but decidedly squishy for a titan. I’ve long held that Fiends can be one of the best titans in the game if you control the number, and quality, of attacks they have to face in any given round. Today’s games absolutely allowed the Fiend to shine.

And really finally…

A massive thanks to all my opponents for a great series of incredibly close games (the absolutely best type regardless of outcome) and a massive thanks to Mark and Grant for organising the event. I’m now really looking forward to the December instalment of Reaper related joy.

Kings of War Tournament Report: The Bullrun

I think I’m correct in saying that The Bullrun, now on its third event, is Birmingham’s premiere wargaming event. It’s run by the bloody lovely Steve Hildrew and had a massive 32 players in attendance for a one-day event, which is pretty damn good.

Having had a pretty poor run of things with the rats recently I decided the week before the event, a few days before the list deadline, to completely overhaul my list and take something completely different, for me at least. My rat lists are generally built around monsters or titans. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that whilst these are fun, and the models are cool, I don’t seem to put out enough damage to kill things fast enough. This, coupled with my ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with my finely honed scenario self-sabotage skills does not make for a winning combo. Consequently, I decided to go with something of a more traditionally shaped list.

The List

Warrior horde (1) with plague pots

Shock Troop hordes (2) one with Sir Jesse’s boots, both with plague pots

Vermintide regiments (2)

Hackpaw regiment

Tunnel Runner regiment with Brew of Sharpness

Warlocks (2) one with Conjuror’s Staff, one with Banechant

Brute Enforcer with Inspiring Talisman

Mother Cryza


In addition to 1995 points of rats there was also a choice of special characters. Either a Bull that effectively gave one turn’s worth of shooting damage, or a Cock (as in cockerel) that provided healing. I chose the Bull, which I felt would work nicely with the 20 lightning bolts I was bringing to the table.

It’s worth pointing out that this event used two non-book scenarios which really helped to shake things up a bit and made for a very interesting day.

Game 1 vs Kingdoms of Men, Wrack and Ruin

This scenario placed two dominate circles on the board, one at either end of the table, and an objective in the middle. You could win points in turns 3,4 and 5 by owning the dominate circles and then earn a further point by holding the objective at the end of the game.

The Kingdom’s of Men army consisted of regiments and troops of Fanatics and Foot Guard, a pair of Giants and two Generals on Winged Beasts. It was ideally suited to this scenario because of the mass of units and unit strength it brought to the table. Happily, for me, we set up with the bulk of our armies at opposite ends of the table. This meant it was relatively simple for both of us to score the full three points available for owning our respective Dominate circles.

I deployed heavily on the left side of the table but put a fairly decent sized force on the right side, including one of my Shock Troop hordes. This was so that my opponent would either have to take the time to destroy it all, or have it chase them towards the centre, and no-one wants a horde of Shock Troops in the rear. My hope was that it would distract a decent portion of the men for as long as possible, letting my units claim the centre in turn six.

I will admit to my first massive error of judgement of the day. I forgot that the objective in the centre was an objective and not a dominate circle. Consequently, by the end of turn five things were not in the best place. My gamble on the right flank had paid off and a lone Giant made its way towards the centre.

Around the centre something of a stand-off had developed. Lightning bolts had removed the Fanatics and a General leaving only a couple of units of Foot Guard on one side of the objective. If they went for the centre, they would be easily overwhelmed by the Tunnel Runners, Shock Troops and Scud gathered on my side. Fortunately, the men still had a remaining General. The General flew into the centre, a Giant blocked my Shock Troops, and a troop of Foot Guard blocked my Tunnel Runners. I would be reliant on overruns to win.

Amazingly the Shock Troops one shotted the Giant but failed to make it far enough across the table towards the centre. The Tunnel Runners made mincemeat of the Foot Guard, rolled a six for overrun and made it into the centre. It was a win… then the turn seven roll…

Turn seven started with the Giant that had been on the right flank charging my Shock Troops and obliterating them. The General and the final regiment of Foot Guard then charged my Tunnel Runners. A kill or a waiver now could have lost me the game. Fortunately, the Tunnel Runners lived to fight another day and together with a flank on the Guard from Scud the game went to the rats.

Game 2 vs Ogres, Gold Rush

This was the second non book scenario. For this one, players place seven loot counters around the table and then choose sides. The aim is to gather as many counters as possible.

The Ogre force was a perfect balance of all the things I find challenging about Orges! Three regiments of Chariots, two hordes of Siege Breakers, a horde of Shooters, a couple of Warlocks and a couple of Berserker Bullies. I think Shooters are quite underestimated. Having faced them a couple of times I know that what they lose in terms of ranged stat, 5, they make up for with their long range and piercing two.

I placed the majority of my army on the left and in the centre, with the Warlocks and Scud on the far left. Although there was a large chunk of impassable terrain in the middle of my deployment there was a fair amount of other terrain that would slow the ogres down and take the sting out of their shooting. On the far right I placed my Hackpaws and the Brute Enforcer who found themselves opposite a Bully and a mounted Goblin King with a short bow.

I had quite promising start. My lightning bolts wavered a Chariot regiment that blocked up the regiment behind it, slowing the Ogres’ advance. However, in a serious bit of shooting tit for tat the Shooters and Ogre Warlocks had a great round and severely damaged my Warrior horde. This made me nervous about bringing my Tunnel Runners forward and meant the Ogres were able to back off and avoid melee for an extra turn.

Turn two saw the damaged chariots survive a second battery of lightening, whilst my Warriors succumbed to another round of shooting. This time though I pressed forward with my Tunnel Runners and a Shock Troop Horde so there would be no escape for one of the Siege Breaker hordes.

Turn three saw the damaged Chariots hide behind a hill, giving me a brand-new Chariot regiment to take pot shots at. In the centre the Tunnel Runners, Cryza and the Shock Troops charged a horde of Seige Breakers and took them down. In retaliation Chariots ploughed into the Shock Troops, but they survived, taking the Chariots down the next turn with Cryza’s help.

On the right flank there had been a bit of a stand-off between the Hackpaws, the Goblin and the other Bully. This ended when the Hackpaws charged the Goblin, failed to kill it, and then got flank charged by the Bully. The table was becoming one of two distinct halves. On the right the Ogres had cleared it of rats by turn six and picked up three loot counters. On the right a lone horde of Siege Breakers stood with their front to Scud and their rear to a horde of Shock Troops clutching a loot counter.

Cryza sprinted and grabbed a token from a badly damaged Chariot regiment, the Shock Troops charged the Siege Breakers, smashed them to pieces and took their loot. Finally, Scud flew over to claim another counter. Turn six was a draw.

In turn seven the Ogres had one option, to fire everything they had at Cryza and hope they could force her to drop the equalising loot. I breathed a sigh of relief as they managed just one wound, meaning they needed two nines to take her off the board. First roll was a ten. The second… a nine.

Game 3 vs Rift Forged Orcs, Invade

This was a really nice way to end the day playing a straightforward scenario against an army that had beaten the hell out of me two weeks prior! But that had been my old list though, and it had been that encounter that had been the trigger for building today’s list. It would be interesting to see how the new list would measure up.

The orcs brought The Iron Boots Formation (three regiments of Rift Forged Orcs with extra nerve), two Storm Giants, a Fight Wagon Legion, Thonaar, a Stormbringer and a horde of Thunderseers. Rift Forged Orcs are a surprisingly resilient army, despite not having any healing or rallying. This makes their Storm Giants particularly problematic with their Cloak of Death and then there’s Thonaar, who is arguably the most annoying individual in the game.

Once again, I deployed along the left and centre of the table with the bulk of my troops and then placed the Hackpaws and Brute Enforcer on the far right. The Orcs put their heaviest hitters in the centre. The Fight Wagons, the Thunderseers, Thonaar, a Giant and a regiment of Reborn Legionnaires. On My left were two regiments of Riftforged Legionnaires and a Giant.

I started shooting one of the Legionnaire regiments on my left, keen to get as much unit strength as possible off the table, whilst my centre braced for the inevitable crunch that was coming. On my right the Hackpaws and Brute made their way, unimpeded, into the Orc’s half of the table.

In the second turn I split my shooting between the injured infantry and the Fight Wagons. The Fight Wagon Legion is a proper juggernaut. I have nothing that will stand up to a charge from it, and nothing that will reliably kill it quickly, so my plan was to start chipping wounds off it in the hope that it might make my life a bit easier later in the game.

The Orcs continued to press forward, and then happily for me, Thonaar and the Thunderseers peeled off to my right to deal with the Hackpaws, which would take them out of the main fighting for the rest of the game.

In turn three the Orcs started to hit home. The Stormbringer flew into Scud and one of the Giants removed a regiment of Vermintide. This opened up a small number of counter charges that saw both the Giant and the Stormbringer leave the table. In response the Orcs unleashed the Fight Wagons and removed my Warriors, whilst a combat on my left resulted in the Tunnel Runners being destroyed.

The next couple of rounds saw units fall on both sides until by turn five we both had nine unit strength on the table either in our opponents half, or within easy reach of the centre line. At this point my usual disregard for the general point of the scenario kicked in and I charged Cryza into the Reborn Legionnaire regiment she had no chance of killing on my side of the table. The result was fairly predictable… and in the six turn she left the table turning what could have been a draw into a loss!


Despite the overall results I was really happy with the way the day went. Given that I threw the list together a week or so before the event, and it lost its single practice game I was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed. There were three big concerns I wanted to address with the list which were the lack of durability of my previous lists, the lack of damage output of my previous lists and the generally unreliable nature of predominantly melee 4 and 5 armies.

I’m pleased to say that it felt as though all those things were addressed by the army. I was particularly happy with the lightning bolts. Although I didn’t have any major spikes in the shouting the chip damage and occasion waiver certainly impacted all of the games and helped to smooth out the performance of my unpredictable infantry.

My main concern with the army was that having so many units with large footprints moving around would become difficult, however this issue only came up once in the three games. So, I’m happy this is something I’ll be able to navigate better with some more practice.

Overall, I was really happy with how the army played. As per usual I self-sabotaged on the scenarios, but I’m not worried about that for the simple reason that I think I’ve finally found a build for rats that will work for me. Prior to this event I was thinking about retiring the rats again for a little while, but this event has definitely rekindled some hope that I can get the army running well in tournament play. Coming away from the event there are a couple of changes I want to make to this list that will hopefully give me a bit of extra umph, although I’m not sure when my next 1995 event is. I also think this will make a solid base for my next event in May which will be 2345 points. There is a little extra painting required for that however.

Final thoughts

The Bullrun is a hobby tournament, which means that there are points that contribute to the final score that come from painting. Although I didn’t think I was in with the chance of picking up too many points for that it did encourage me to finish off refreshing some of my older units and add some banners to my Shock Troop hordes. All in all, it means that I’ve come away from this event with a much prettier looking army than I had before and a list that feels dependable enough to allow me to start trying to think about not messing up the scenarios.

Finally a massive thanks to my opponents, who were all frankly awesome, all three games were so enjoyable, and of course Steve Hildrew for running another fab event.

The winding road to the Bullrun

This year has been all about the rats so far and it’s been fun. Although the number of games I’ve won seems to have steadily dropped over time. That’s not the worst thing in the world, I play rats because I enjoy the fluff and the aesthetic, not for their hard hitting, punchy and incredibly reliable elite units (wink). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ratkin are a bad army, on the contrary, there are some great players who play very effectively with them, it’s just that I’m not one of them.

It’s fair to say my army has seen better days since I completed it in 2021. So, this year I decided to try and give my vermin a bit of a glow up. This has involved removing models from bases, giving both models and bases some fresh paint and then repopulating the bases. It’s not necessarily a time-consuming process, but it can be a bit fiddly. Because of this the relatively good start I made at the start of the year slowed to a virtual halt, as did a kit bash I had started to replace one of my tunnel runner regiments.

However, with Steve Hildrew’s Bullrun on the horizon I’ve found myself suddenly reaching for the paint brushes again. This is the third Bullrun event Steve’s run and I’m really looking forward to it because it is very different in terms of scoring and scenarios to most events I attend. Importantly it has a hobby component to the overall score, so for this reason I decided that whilst I will be unlikely to make it past the bottom table (and I certainly wouldn’t sniff at coming away with another of Steve’s lovely wooden spoons) I can do something about the general appearance of my army.

As is the way with so many things, I haven’t had the time to do as much as I would like, but I’m really happy that I have had time to sort out three of my core units. My warriors (who will be acting as Shock Troops) and Shock Troops have been given some highlights and a bit more colour. With the Shock Troops I’m really happy that their skull helmets look more noticeably skull like – this is a bit of fluff I really like and I’m quite keen to build another horde of these.

With the warriors I’m excited to have spent some time on their shields. I love the mix of designs and really wanted to bring these out.

The tunnel runners (the new Goblin chariots and mincers) are simply fab, and whilst I don’t mind the Deadzone models, I’ve wanted to do something a bit more interesting with this unit for a while. It’s also got me thinking about how great it would be if Mantic could produce a few more characters/more dynamic individuals for the factions. Don’t get me wrong, the rank and file plastics are great, but it would be nice to have a range of models that could be added to mutli-bases to create some extra energy.

So that’s it for now. Time is not completely up, and I have a couple of little extra things I’m hoping to add before Sunday, but the main elements are done and I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting on the motorway on Sunday.

Tournament Report: Tree Thugging in Bristol

I started running tournaments last year and I’m really enjoying it. One thing I haven’t quite yet decided on yet is whether I prefer sitting on the side lines and totting up the scores or running around manically totting up the scores and playing games.

This time around I hadn’t expected to be playing and had been planning on painting some of my Brothermark. However, due to a very last minute drop out I found myself packing up my rats for a day of gaming.

I’m back to playing Ratkin this year. I find them a massively fun army to play, but with lots of synergies and an abundance of melee 4/5 they are not the most consistent armies to play. My list consisted of:

Horde of Warriors with plague pots

Horde of Shock Troops with Jessie’s Boots and plague pots

Regiment of Scurriers with plague pots

Regiment of Hackpaws

Regiment of Tunnel Runners with Brew of Sharpness

Regiments of Vermintide (2)

Mutant Rat Fiends (2)

Mounted War Chief with Blade of Slashing

Twitch Keenear

Mother Cryza


Game 1 against Forces of the Abyss

Scenario: Loot

The Forces of the Abyss brought a lot of Molochs (three hordes), two chroneas, two succubi regiments, their larvae and a couple of warlocks. The demons represent a pretty terrifying prospect for my rats as most their units are capable of one shotting pretty much everything in my army. It dawned on me though that my army was quite a bit faster. So I decided my best option was to try and get around one of his flanks with Scud and the hackpaws and break up his formidable fighting line.

It started pretty well. Scud, the hackpaws and the war chief made their way down the right flank, distracting one of the chroneas and shutting down one of the warlocks. Soon the flank was starting to fall apart. Things were going well for the rats until a double one materialised. The unfortunate dice role kept a regiment of succubi on the table and allowed a horde of mollochs to get stuck into the units keeping the demons busy on the left flank. Although I was expecting that flank to collapse at some point it was happening too quickly. The demons were quickly able to chew up my centre and escape with two of the tokens leaving my scurriers holding one, meaning the demons took the win.

Game 2 against Nightstalkers

Scenario: Salt the Earth

I was very excited about this match up as the Nightstalkers in question are one of my favourite armies, beautifully painted and amazingly themed. The army was a nice mix of units, a void lurker, a shadow hulk, a couple of planar apparitions, phantoms, butchers, blood worms, scarecrows and Essenyshra.

This time I threw the hackpaws and war chief way out on the left flank with Scud, a fiend and the tunnel runners on the right and everything else in the middle. On the right the hackpaws did their best to avoid lightening bolts and phantoms. The war chief broke away and charged the void lurker, managing to tie it up for about three turns. On the right flank the tables were turned, ratkin lightening bolts removed a phantom troop and Twitch repeatedly hexed one of the planar apparitions. Then the rat war machine swung into action pulling apart reapers, smashing scarecrows and grabbing objectives. Although the nightstalkers managed to take out Scud after a double one kept him in combat with the butchers and allowed the shadow hulk to get flank on the demonspawn.

In the centre the void lurker finished off a fiend but the fight back floundered as a planar apparition and phantoms took far too long to see off the warrior horde.

At the start of turn six rats held three tokens, nightstalkers held two. With few options remaining it looked as though the rats would take the day, but the nightstalkers still had a shenanigan up their sleeves. Essenyshra made her way into the centre of the table and enthralled the tunnel runners, drawing them away from their objective leaving the game a draw.

Game 3 against Nightstalkers

Scenario: Invade

In the first round there had been a nightstalker vs nightstalker game that had ended in a draw. In my previous game I had played one of those armies, now I got to play the second, so I knew this was not going to be an easy ride. Although there were some differences between the lists core elements of planar apparitions, two void lurkers (rather than one and a shadow hulk), phantom troops, scarecrows, blood worms and Esenyshra were all in attendance.

I spread my forces evenly along the left flank and put my hackpaws and the war chief on the far right again. Once again, the riders played a patient game, keeping out of the charge range of phantoms, shadow hounds and a void lurker. A round of shooting from the scurriers took down a phantom troop, but the stand off continued until I made a mistake and gave the void lurker an opportunity to charge my tunnel runners that wouldn’t allow me the opportunity to fight back with anything else. I wasn’t too worried, even when Essenyshra joined in, as the runners were fully rallied to 16/18 and were inspired. Silly me! A high nerve roll wavered the chariots. Fortunately, the war chief was able to get in and stop the creature from flying, although this meant its only option was to finish what it had started with the wheels in the next turn. After that though the mutant rat fiend and war chief extracted their revenge. All this allowed the hackpaws to move around the flank and provide support in removing one of the scarecrow hordes, before moving into the nightstalker’s half to score my only points.

On the left flank things did not go well! I had problems dealing with the second void lurker which cost me Scud, then the blood worm legion (with Brew of Strength) went to town on munching everything that went near it consuming a mutant rat fiend, a horde of shock troop, Mother Cryza and a regiment of vermintide. With the legion and a surviving horde of scarecrows firmly in my half the game was a loss however a near comical showing by my dice in the final turn really didn’t help.

My war chief and scurriers had spent the last three turns of the game trying to kill a troop of shadow hounds, and continued to fail to do so in the final round. The hackpaws needed to roll a 4 for the nerve test to kill Essenyshra, they rolled a 3 and the surviving mutant rat fiend flank charged the last void lurker, pummelled it into oblivion and then… you guessed it… rolled a double one!

Thoughts on my list

The results of my last two events haven’t been great, but the games have been really fun, and most have been close. With both my 1995 and 2300 lists I feel a couple of relatively minor changes will improve how they play.

I thought the hackpaws did a marvellous job on the flanks, and the war chief did a great job of distracting troublesome monsters and characters, just what I had bought him for. These units were definitely my MVPs.

I’ve always seen Twitch and the Tangle as being either/or choices within a list. Originally I favoured Twitch because I like faster armies, which means my experience of the Tangle is that it gets left behind. The more games I’ve played with Twitch the more of a fan I have become, I find that when I take the Tangle now, I regularly find myself disappointed I don’t have Hex and getting frustrated that 2 dice Banechants often become a thing in the closing turns of the game. Hex definitely played a big role in the second game, effectively shutting down one planar apparition, and I can’t help but think it would have also impacted the third game if Twitch hadn’t failed to cast for three turns!

In terms of those tiny changes I was talking about… as much as I love my mutant rats fiends I’m not sure this army is the right build to run two. Fiends are durable, but you have to carefully manage what you allow to charge them due to their defence 4, I don’t think this list has the spare units to do that. The other issue I had was around their speed, I generally found I needed one of them to be faster. Consequently I’m going to swap one out and bring in a death engine impaler, which I’ve had a great experience with in my 1995 list.

And finally

I know I’ve moaned more about dice than I usually would, but there were some comically badly timed results. I don’t want that to distract from the fact that I had three brilliant opponents and three fun and challenging game. I want to give a massive thanks to everyone I played. It was especially great to play Pete and Matt for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed all my games and will hopefully get to play you all in the future. I also wanted to thank everyone who attended, the venue – Bristol Independent Gaming, and Mantic for some fab prize support.

I hope everyone who attended enjoyed their day as much as I did.

Now I need to work out what I’m taking to the Bullrun.

Weekly Wins – eerm… January? : Tree Thugging, replacement rat chariots and halfling progress

I hate January, so I’m more than happy it’s finally over. Despite a load of colds and general work-related irritations this month’s hobby time has kept me just about the correct side of sane. This year I want to focus a bit more on quality (viewed here as a purely relative term) rather than quantity. As I’ve booked my ticket for Steve Hildrew’s Bull Run event in March I really want to take an army that I feel has a chance of get some soft score love. To that end I’m currently in deliberations as to whether that means Rats or Halflings.

I have goop on all the bases… that’s something!

For some reason I’m feeling quite buoyant about completing the little fellas, although that particular mood tends to change with the wind. It turns out I’m not that far off a 1995 list, minimum model count, so maybe. Being realistic though I think I’m more likely to be taking the Rats. I’m more than happy with that following their admirable showing at Stanes of Blood. So, to that end I’ve been messing around with a few different projects this month.

The first is to finally revisit the Shook Troops I rushed to get done for Clash of Kings back in 2021. This is the first time I’ve ever revisited a unit’s paint job and it’s made a massive difference. One regiment is done… now I just need to get the motivation to do the other one.

One of these things is slightly better than the other.

I’ve also been working on a replacement for one of my Tunnel Runner regiments. I like the Deadzone wheels, but I’ve been really impressed with the new Goblin Chariots and Mincers, so I’ve decided to have a little play. The 3 vehicles are almost done, now they just need some crew.

Working through these models made me revisit my mawbeast paint schemes and now I want to redo all my Hackpaws, so the question is… can I get two regiments done by the end of March?

Finally – excitement is building for Tree Thugging, my third tournament, at the end of the month. I fell into running events by accident but am rapidly growing to really enjoy them, even if I don’t get to play. We’re fully booked with 20 players, there’s a growing reserves list, trophies have arrived and Mantic have very kindly donated some prize support. These are great times.

Happy February everyone.

Kings of War Tournament report: Stanes of Blood

I’m not a big fan of the first couple of weeks of the new year. Stuff always goes wrong (like sickness or unexpected influxes of work) and any resolutions get very rapidly discarded. This year, was of course, no exception. So, I felt quite excited to get to the end of the first fortnight, pack up my rats and head off down the M4 with the Lazy Pirate in tow.

I decided to take my rats again after a good run out before Christmas. I took an evolution of that list. In a weird twist of fate at the previous event there had been a chariot special character. I generally avoid single chariots because their base can be a massive pain, however the character performed so well I decided to give the Ratkin equivalent, the Death Engine Impaler, a try. Controversially I ditched the Tangle in favour of Twitch and the Brew of Sharpness on one of my Shock Troop regiments, some chaff was also ditched to get the Impaler in.

My 1995 list

Warrior horde with Plague Pots

3 Shock Troop regiments with Plague Pots, one with Brew of Sharpness

Hackpaw regiment with Jesse’s Boots

Vermintide regiment

Death Engine Impaler

Mutant Rat Fiend

War Chief with Aura of Vicious and Blade of Slashing

Twitch Keenear

Mother Cryza

Scudku-z’luk, Demonspawn of Diew

I had mixed feelings about this list in a competitive setting. I love everything in it which makes it a great casual list, but at 12 drops it feels a little light and I would love to have an extra Vermintide regiment on board.

 Game 1 – Abyssal Dwarfs, Push

My opponents list consisted of a decent mix of shooting and fast punchy stuff. A couple of mortars, a horde of Decimators with Blessings of the Gods, a Helfane and a couple of regiments Abyssal Halfbreeds were amongst the list. It was a solid list, and I have form for making a complete mess of this scenario, so expectations were not high.

I was worried that the mortar shooting would dominate the game, however, not only were the mortar crew easing into the morning they were also targeting my fiend. The damage was few and far between, and the beast’s regeneration easily dealt with what got through.

The dwarf lines were solid, but a wavered regiment of gargoyles gave me an opportunity to get my fast stuff into his right flank early on, allowing Scud to jump over the lines in turn three to remove the mortars. My central core of shook troops forced their way to the other side of the table, although a double 1 on the decimator horde put my token carrying regiment in danger. Fortunately, the presence of the nearby Fiend kept them on the table.

On my right my chaff performed admirably, holding off the Helfane and some Immortal Guard just long enough for Scud to flank the Helfane, smash it of the table and steal its loot counter in the final turn of the game. This gave the rats their first win and induced a momentary glow of confidence…

Game 2 – Varangur, Salt the Earth

My next game saw me face off against Chris Lynch’s barbarian nastiness. His list brought a couple of Chimera Lords, a Frost Giant, Theign on Frostfang, 2 regiments of Huscarls, Magnilda, 2 regiments of snow foxes and 4 regiments of Draugr. My last couple of games against Chris have seen me get progressively worse results, I’m not going to dwell on this, suffice to say my goal for this game was to make it to round 4 and still have stuff on the table.

I played my usual tactic of castling up in one corner and hoping for the best. As his army had no healing I decided to use my lightening bolt to start chipping away at his titans. His titans and huscarls were serious threats to just about everything in my army so I needed to start wearing them down. The first couple of turns were spent trying to prevent Chimera’s going where they wanted, and I felt this was half achieved, only one manged a flank on a shock troop regiment.

About turn three the chip damage started to kick in, a combination lightening bolt and Cryza’s cloak of death saw the Hackpaws waver the Frost Giant and Cryza waver one of the Chimeras. Helpfully the sharpness Shock Troops managed to remove Magnilda. I’m not going to say the tide turned at this point, but there was a sufficient let up for my battered troops to stage something approaching a fight back.

Chris’s Draugr had managed to claim a couple of objectives early in the game whilst his hammers had “distracted” me, however the chip damage, combined with the annoying resilience of Cryza meant I managed to take a number of his hammers off the table. No turn 7 and a very poor roll by his Giant for random attacks meant Scud managed to hold an objective as well as a regiment of shock troops. It was a loss for the rats but a far better performance against Chris than my Basileans have ever put in.

Game 3 – Abyssal Dwarfs, Control

More angry dwarfs! I really liked this list as well. A couple of hordes of Golems were supported by a Decimator horde with Blessing of the Gods, Black Soul regiments, Berserker troops, an Abyssal Halfbreed Regiment, a Wingy Kingy and some Gargoyles.

Against this list I really wanted to avoid the golems for as long as possible, kill off the squishier dwarfs and hopefully get Scud into their flanks later in the game. One of the biggest challenges with rats is choosing the correct moment to deploy plague pots. Early on I moved up one of my shock troop regiments and forgot to drop my pots to give them stealthy. This would have likely stopped them getting shot off the table by a combination of the Decimators and the Golems (both hordes had the shooting upgrade).

I admonished myself and refocused. By turn 4, pot problem aside, my plan looked like it was working. To my right warriors, vermintide and shock troops were holding up the Golems and Halfbreeds. On my left Scud, the Impaler and Cryza had removed the smaller units and cleared a path to the Decimator horde. They charged, knocking hell out of it, and needed to roll a single 5 to remove it, before turning their attentions to the rest of the battlefield. They rolled a 4. In turn 5 Scud turned about to finish of the Wingy Kingy that was gnawing at his ankles then reformed to face into the centre of the field putting his flank to the Decimator horde. Cryza withdrew from the fray to zap at some Gargolyes and secure a table section. The Impaler went into the Decimators again only to double one them!

Although the Decimators were devasted they had a flank charge on Scud, which they took, and managed to waver him effectively taking him out of the game for the entirety of the second half. Fortunately, the Impaler did manage to finish them off in the final turn. All this meant the plan fell flat on its face. Fortunately, I managed to secure 2 of the table sections to my opponents 4, and to kill more of his army than he did of mine. Despite the frustration caused by the Decimators it was a very enjoyable game.

Thoughts on the list

Having had some time to reflect I couldn’t be happier with the list and its performance, 16th out of 24 works for me. I have had to get into the headspace that everything, including Shock Troops are chaff, but getting there makes the list kind of make sense. Scud is undoubtedly the engine that makes the list work with his rallying and lightening bolt being as important as his combat presence. The Impaler massively impressed, and its long threat range meant it worked well with Scud and the hackpaws.

Cryza is an absolute menace because of her Cloak of Death and I still can’t quite get over how durable the Shock Troop regiments actually are. Although there isn’t loads of rallying, I think the amount of inspiring helps to keep units on the table, even if they’re wavered, which doesn’t seem to be a sufficiently big enough deal for me to miss the Tangle.

All that being said there are a couple of thoughts I’ve had which I want to play around with before the next time I take them out, which will be for the Birmingham Bullrun in March.

And finally

As always, a massive thanks to the organisers for putting on a great event and my opponents who were all fab. It was a great way to start the year and I’m looking forward to the next event.

Bye bye 22… hello 23

2022 was a very busy year. A book got written (and published), tournaments were played and run, Basileans were painted, Halflings were continuously pushed to the back of the painting table, and the rats finally managed an outing in the final days of the year.

I have to admit, it not only felt busy, but when I start looking back it becomes abundantly clear it was busy. Settling down with a bottle of whiskey and a tray of mince pies at the end of December was certainly deserved. I think one of the best things about last year was starting to get some perspective on what I want to do with the time I have for whatever this sort of stuff is.

It’s fair to say that the last few years have been far from pedestrian, and certainly not predictable. Somehow, I’ve got to the end of it all doing far more than I really have the time for, but I’ve massively enjoyed it all. So, my thoughts for the last week, or so, have mainly been about what I think I’m going to be able to achieve in 2023 and they go something like this:


In my excitement to get something out into the world I decided to write The Rose of Amzharr as the first part of a series. The plus side to that was that I didn’t have to write a couple of hundred thousand words in one go, allowing myself to ease into the world of writing. Of course, a story consists of a beginning, middle, and end, so I am far from done with it all and the next seventy thousand words are slowly being pieced together. I’ve had a bit of hiatus over Christmas, but I’ll be back on it in the coming days with the plan being to have the next instalment ready for the end of 2023.

Short stories

I’m quite excited about having my very own fantasy world to nurture and explore. I’m finding short stories are a great way of dipping in to it whilst the next instalment of The Rose of Amzharr grows. The best thing is that it allows me to explore a different aspect of Amzharr. Whereas the books are an adventure series the short stories let me play with mythology and folklore. It’s the best fun in the world for a fantasy author being able to endlessly ask why something happens, before inventing the most ludicrous explanation by way of response. I’ve made the short stories I’ve written so far available free through the blog. When I get around to it, I’ll give them their own dedicated page on I’m hoping to release at least one a quarter throughout 2023 and if they are well received I’ll consider popping them into an ebook, maybe even with some bonus material. They’re free and they’re here…

Ripples across Amzharr: the origin of demons

The Winter King: a short story


Running Kings of War tournaments this year has been a real eye opener. I have to admit to more than the slightest sense of satisfaction at manging to serve up two events in 2022. It’s also given me a fresh interest in how others run their events. I’ve certainly changed my view on a few things over the past few months (like soft scores). What I haven’t changed my view on is just how great the tournament scene is in the UK. So many lovely people contributing in so many ways to making events fun and friendly. In 2023 I’m determined to take my rats out a lot more and put a little more effort into the hobby side of things.

With regard to Bristol tournaments (the ones I run) there is so much I want to try, but am not comfortable I have the time to give over to it. Consequently, my aim this year is to put on three events to ensure we continue to have things going on and establish a bit of a foundation for the following years. Bristol has some great players and painters so I feel strongly that there should be something around here. The first of the events will be Tree Thugging in February, in July we’ll have the Southwest Clash, and towards the end of the year The Mean Squeeks of Bristol will return. Watch this space for details.


I have a suspicion that this will be the area of my life that will be hit with the biggest cut in hours, but in many ways that’s fine. I know this is a rarely heard thing, but I actually think I have all the armies I want for Kings of War, and some great models painted up for skirmish games. Consequently, I’m going to continue in my quest to reduce my backlog and revisit some of those models I gave a rough paint job to on the basis that I would one day revisit them. It looks like that day has arrived.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll wish you all a very happy New Year and leave you with a bunch of my favourite pictures from last year’s hobby doings.

The Winter King: a short story

When the multi coloured curtains fall on Autumn’s final act the Winter King takes the stage, so say the short-lived peoples, the youngest races that inhabit the world of Amzharr. Thick carpets of diamond encrusted snow cover the world, intricate freeze forged artifacts are to be found where water once flowed, and a silent stillness fills the skies under which he is said to rule.

The Winter King has always been seen by the younger races of Amzharr as a cruel and uncaring creature, happy to see the world stop turning and life destroyed. Winter is a time of sombre sorrowing. Great grey clouds hang menacingly over the fields and forests. Stacked high, their fluffed faces leer earthwards threatening to send sleet and snow to bury the slightest hint of a green shoot, or blossoming bud, that might dare to deliver even the slightest hope that spring may find its way back into the world.

It is a time of great sadness and desperation across the world. The masses huddle around log fires and eat sparce meals, conserving their energy until the world returns to life. Throughout those dark days they tell stories, often of the Winter King and the evil deeds attributed him, little knowing that the Winter King of whom they speak is nothing but a myth. Their Winter King is a King of Winter, his court constructed from the lifeless lustre of frost bound fields and snow suffocated saplings. Their King of Winter is an aspect of nature, far greater than any angel or demon. It is the futile endeavour of a mortal mind to explain an element of existence beyond their comprehension.

That is not to say there is no Winter King, there is, but his story has been lost to the years. He is a lonely creature found at the heart of the fiercest snowstorms flailing around in a maddened dance. Those few lost souls who have seen him, and survived the storm, all too often mistake his capering and wind stolen cries as an attempt to command the weather, ordering it to do his bidding and lay waste to the world. Maybe it is because in the heart of the storm the flurries of snowflakes make it hard to see, or because the wind is so fierce it rips his words from his lips before they can be heard, but almost always those who happen up the frantic creature fail to realise that the Winter King is no ruler.

In reality the Winter King is a mocking name, given to him by the immortals who knew him long before the mortal races found their way into the world. However, he did not know then, just as he does not know now of his name. For the Winter King has an obsession which has driven him from the moment the Creators breathed life into him.

When the world was young the Winter King took his first steps. He raised his eyes to the sky and instantly became fixated by the great golden sun. So in awe was he of the flaming star that he began to follow it as it made its way around the world. Day after day he walked the round of the world, his existence becoming an aubade to the auric entity.

One day, whilst he wandered, his eyes to the sky, he tripped over a rock and landed on the ground with a heavy thud. He felt a surge of pain in his foot. He glared angrily around from his awkward seat ready to admonish whatever it was that had interrupted his infatuation. To his surprise the rock responsible for his downfall gleamed just like the sunlight. He was immediately entranced by its warm yellow colour. He forgot the pain in his foot and reached for it. It was heavy, yet smooth to his touch. In that moment he stopped lusting after the sun, and a new obsession was born, one made all the more compelling because he could reach for it, touch it and own it.

He cast a licentious look about the ground and his search began. It was not long before he had gathered a small collection of the yellow rocks. He started to fill a small sack which he would throw over his shoulder as he searched for more. Such was his obsession he did not rest enough to allow his foot to heal, and happily carried the sack over his shoulder as it grew heavier and heavier. If he noticed the pain of his injury, compounded by his increasing burden, he did not let it show.

When the bag became too heavy to lift any more, he emptied the gold onto the ground and covered it with rocks and soil before returning to his search. Time and time again he filled his sack and brought his finds back to the where he had hidden the first bagful. With each bagful the pile grew, and the little creature would pack more soil around it, and over it, to hide it.

Over the next ten years the creature travelled Amzharr in search of gold until he had found it all. He brought the last bag back to his hiding place, which had now become a great range of mountains reaching far into the sky, peaks lost in the clouds. Once the bag had been emptied, and its contents hidden, he set out into the world again.

Desperation gripped him as it became apparent there was no more gold to be found. Then, one day as he frantically grubbed around, he happened upon a diamond, and then an emerald. A new obsession was born with the sparkling gemstones that seemed to capture his first love, the sun, when it shone on them.

Once more he began to fill his bag and hide the precious stones away under piles of soil and rock. It was not long before another mountain range rose from the world.

Another decade passed and all the world’s gemstones were hidden. The Winter King’s bag was empty once more and his searches bore no fruit. He scoured the world once, twice, three times more, but there was nothing to be found.

One day, as the days shortened, and the sun’s warmth began to be whisked away by giddy young winds returning to the world after their summer sojourn, the creature fell to his knees and let out a cry of anguish. He sobbed loudly and looked around him, desperate to find something, anything that would make him feel fulfilled once more. Then, out of the corner of his eye he saw a hint of that warm, precious, yellow he had lusted after since he had buried the last golden nugget.

He stood and walked over to where it hung in plain sight from a tree. It was different from what he had found on the ground. Not a rock, but a leaf. He breathed a long sigh of relief and smiled as a new sense of purpose flooded through his veins, bringing with it a renewed vigour. He began to dance and caper around the trees, filling his sack. Around the world he danced again, stuffing leaf after leaf into the bag not once having to stop to empty it, so small and light were the precious leaves. Once all the trees had been stripped bare, he looked excitedly into his bag, and found to his horror that there was no gold, only tiny brown flakes, and spider web skeletons. In his frustration he tipped the crinkly fragments out and let the wind take them before collapsing into a sullen heap.

The days were shorter now, the giddy winds had become howling gales and rain had turned to snow. The creature watched as the tiny crystals fell from the sky. He reached out a cold hand and let a few settle. He saw the delicate structure Nature had gifted them. He looked around and for the first time saw the frozen beauty of winter. Though his beloved sun left him for far more hours each day, when it rose its light seemed softer, its rays refracted through icicles creating little rainbows, and for the few hours it stayed the world seemed to glow. Despite the biting chill the creature ran and danced and capered around in the snow. He became fascinated by the tiny ice crystals that turn spider’s webs into delicate strings of diamonds and marvelled at the shiny sheets of ice that encased the rivers and lakes. The creature was happier than he had ever been.

When the time came for winter to move on, and the snows started to melt, the creature surveyed the dark mud and grey brooding clouds the season left behind it. Rather than stay he decided he would chase after winter. He ran as quickly as he could until he caught up with the snowstorms and freezing winds. Once again in their midst he danced and capered, grasping at the tiny diamonds that fell from the sky, laughing at the crystal flakes as they were caught by the wind and whisked up around him. And there he has stayed to this day, oblivious to the world around him, save for the snow and the ice. Oblivious to the immortals who mocked him for bringing the dawn, mocked him as he made the mountains and continue to mock him to this day with the epithet the Winter King.

The End

Want to read more?

Try another short story Ripples across Amzharr: the origin of demons

And of course the obligatory plug…

Weekly Wins 23 and 24: Proxy hackpaws, actual hackpaws, angry dwarfs and happy holidays

The days seem to be flying by and the end of the year is looming. As you would expect at this time of year a whole range of things that aren’t about 30mm high are jostling for my attention, so hobby output has slowed quite considerably. Instead of painting I’m spending the odd moments between various deadlines thinking about potential hobby goals for the new year.

This had led to me being temporarily diverted from the halflings (a change is a good as rest and all that) to return to my wargaming spirit faction – the ratkin. Over the last year, I’ve been messing around with hackpaw heavy lists – will they be very competitive? Don’t care – hackpaws are awesome. The only downside is that I need about five or six regiments of the verminous beast riders. Rather excitingly, at the back of the cupboard I found some Oathmark goblin wolf riders. I really like Oathmark plastics because they are very simple to put together and the wolves in the kit can be quickly painted. This has resulted in is a couple of proxy units I can put towards the army, which I can always replaced in the future if I really enjoy playing it.

I’ve also done a little bit of rebasing of what I already have, and the units are starting to come together, although I still have at least three models to complete before I’m ready to put them on the table. The reduced amount of time has focused my mind a bit on what other quick jobs I can get done. One of those jobs has been to finally get some decimators rebased to make a full regiment.

It’s one thing painting a regiment, it’s another finding the time to base it.

I have to admit I love my Abyssal Dwarfs, but for some reason always find myself shying away from them for games. Maybe there’s a new year’s resolution in there somewhere? Who knows.

So that’s it from me for the year on the hobby front, although I’m hoping to publish a new short story on The Wizard’s Bookshelf in the coming days.

So, with that I’ll wish you a merry Christmas, happy holidays and all the best.  

Tournament report (and a bit of reflection on army changes): Slay Bells in Poole

It’s been a whilst since I’ve written one of these. Loads of reasons why not, so I’m not going to dwell, but I really wanted to put pen to paper for this event because it’s the first event this year that I took my beloved rats too, and I had an absolute ball of a time.

Going to tournaments this year has been, as aways, a great experience. I want to give a massive thanks to everyone who’s run an event I’ve attended. Having started running tournaments I now know the work that goes into it. The odd thing about this year though is that it’s the first year I haven’t played Ratkin (at an event).

The reason has something to do with the army changes that were made in 3rd, but definitely not the ones you might be thinking if you’re familiar with the changes. I think it’s important to say this because this is not a moan about losing Blight or Slave regiments. Truth be told I really like the new (well not so much anymore) ratkin list. It’s made them super interesting to play, and whilst I haven’t brought them to tournaments this year, I’ve played a casual game with them every month or so to see if I could find a list I’d enjoy taking to a tournament.

To be clear, I’m not a top player. I lack the cold consideration and in game cool to be one of those. Units tend to make it into my army because I like the look of them, or their fluff, or they don’t require much painting. Never because of how efficient they are, or even because I have a particular role in mind for them outside of taking up points. That being said, I do want to try and hold my own at tournaments and a little progression is not unwelcome. It’s for this reason I stopped playing rats at events at the end of 2021, because I didn’t feel I understood the army well enough to build a list I could enjoy playing and make progress with.

Whilst I wasn’t feeling so good about rats, the verminous villains were doing brilliantly in the hands of others. What was awesome to see was the range of different winning lists that were out there, shooting ones, MSU ones and horde ones; this made me realise it was me… not the rats. So, after a lot of faffing around I settled on a list I was excited about, and just about made it through a couple of test games.

The event

Slay Bells was at the impressive Poole hobby store Entoyment. We played 1995 points and there was a choice of chariot special characters. I went for a killy one that had Clock of Death amongst its abilities. My list was:


Mother Cryza

The Tangle

Warchief with Vicious Aura and Axe of the Giant Slayer

3 regiments of Shock Troops with Plague Pots

Horde of Warriors with Plague Pot

Regiment of Hackpaws with J Boots

Troop of Hackpaws

2 regiments of Vermintide

Mutant Rat Fiend

The games

Game 1 vs Northern Alliance

Scenario – Push

The Northern Alliance army was a bit of a two of everything affair. Two regiments of huscarls, two hordes of ice elementals, two regiments of ice gladestalkers, two troops of tundra wolves and two lords on frostfangs. The Northern Alliance spread out in a solid line with the Frost Fang Lords together on my left opposite my fast-moving units.

I won the first turn and moved everything forward as fast as I could. Although there was a reasonable amount of shooting, the strategic use of a hill and a plague pot meant it was fairly limited and my army made contact fully intact. Scud and the hackpaws shut down the left flank temporarily whilst my infantry made short work of the right flank. The shock troop regiments really came into their own here setting up multi charges to smash a whole in the line, which then allowed them to steal flanks.

By turn 5 I had all the tokens. Two were on a shock troop regiment in my opponent’s half and three were on a shock troop regiment in my half. Unfortunately, a troop of tundra wolves had snuck to the back of my half and the regiment carry three tokens found itself between the wolves and a frostfang lord. The wolves had three wounds on them, and the Tangle was nearby. The shock troops turned to face the lord and dropped their plague pot. The Tangle took aim at the wolves and completely missed with eleven fireballs. Even with the shock troops ready to take a double charge I still wasn’t worried because the three tokens in my half were only worth three points… way to completely miss read the scenario! Naturally enough the shock troops disappeared, and the lord took the tokens – now worth six points because he was in his opponent’s half!

Despite my stupidity I was really happy with this game because I really did throw it away. There were a number of things I could have done from turn 4 to protect my token carriers and simply failed to do. It was a weirdly promising start to the day.

Game 2 vs Orcs

Scenario – Invade

I was a little unsettled going into this game because Orcs are a faction I find a bit of a challenge to play against because there always seems to be so many of them. This list had Gak, my least favourite hero, a horde of great ax and a legion of ax amongst it’s ranks and I was worried it would turn into a very one sided grind. Fortunately, the dice were with me. My lightning bolts managed to waver Gak in the first turn which helped my fast units get a good position. Scud managed to one shot the two regiments of gore riders, both with front charges, one after the other. The hackpaw regiment got an early flank on a troll horde and took them out, whilst the shock troops managed their usual shenanigans with a bloody flank and front charge on the great ax horde. Finally, the rats mobbed the legion leaving a godspeaker feeling quite alone.

The dice were very much with me this game gifting the rats a win.

Game 3 vs Ogres

Scenario – Control

I found myself facing a shooty MSU ogre list, which is a great army for this scenario. The list featured some allied ice gladestalkers and a theign on frostfang, alongside Nom, two warlocks, three ogre regiments, two shooter sergeants, a shooter horde and two shield breaker hordes.

I really didn’t know what to do against this army and I fluffed my deployment, putting Scud behind a regiment of shock troops because I ran out of space. I did manage to win first turn and pushed everything forward as far as I could. The ogres shot pretty much everything at the mutant rat fiend which managed to survive, however my deployment error with Scud quickly became apparent. He was meant to be chasing down the ice gladestalkers. When the gladestalkers wound something, they reduce its speed by one. Because of this and because Scud had started a bit back from the front of the deployment zone he didn’t get into the archers until turn 3, slowing down his potential for carnage.

The ogres pretty much dominated the table with steady shooting and a load of units I found it hard to put damage on, and slowly my rats dissolved.

I think its fair to say this game was always going to be challenging, but my error with Scud, combined with an early double one (of three in this game) which meant an ogre regiment with 17 damage on it didn’t leave the table, really didn’t help my cause. Despite getting tabled I really enjoyed the game and took some valuable learnings from it about shooting.

I take no small amount of cheer from the fact that the Northern Alliance army went on to win the event, whilst the Ogres came in second!

All in all, it was a really fun day, very well run, in a great location, made all the better for taking the rats.

Thoughts on the list

I’m genuinely happy with how my list performed. Although it’s taken a while, and a lot of experimentation, to find an army that I find enjoyable and feels like a good foundation to build on for next year. The shock troop regiments are the real engine of the army, they are surprisingly resilient, seem to easily pick up flanks, and work really well with the Mutant Rat Fiend. Cryza is an absolute legend and Scud is just Scud.

One of the questions I did want to answer was how hackpaws would work without the Caterpillar Potion as we head into next year. I think I’ll be using them primarily to support Scud on multi-charges with the newly polished J boots.

The really interesting one for me was the Warchief with the fury aura. Having the aura and inspiring in one package is really useful. I had envisaged using him to ground flyers, hence the slayer axe, but not a single flyer was fought against. More than that I think his primary role commits him to hanging around the infantry rather than chasing angry flapping beasties around the table. Consequently, the one change I’m going to make is to use the fifteen points for his axe on a plague pot for the hackpaw regiment. With so much shooting around pots are now even more useful than ever, and if the regiment is going to be hanging around with Scud their nerve will generally be 14/16 which will make them a lot more survivable – that’s the theory leastways! It won’t be long until I find out with Staines of Blood just around the corner in January.