Missions in Mordheim – The Seven Samurats.

My goblins have met an untimely end. Mainly due to my disinterest in the list I was playing, and the options for development as the war band ‘grew’. So they won’t be featuring on this blog any more. In their place have risen warriors of unlikely legend: The Seven Samurats.

They are the spiritual successors to my war band from my previous Mordheim campaign, the Ratmificent Seven; they all wielded pistols except one who was armed with fighting claws and got real close ‘n’ personal with anyone who survived the Warplock pistol volley from Hidden positions. It met with great success until I had to street fight versus six Dwarf crossbowmen. They live on in my memory as one of the most fun yet fluffy lists I’ve written.

After a slightly drunken night playing World of Warships with some other guys in the campaign I put together a Skaven list modelled on the Seven Samurai – lots of swords and some throwing stars, very strictly kept to six heroes and one verminkin (Kikuchiru, or the comic relief/not-a-real-samurai dude). I will recruit no new henchmen, only upgrade my current samurats and replace those who fall.

I picked clan Eshin (for hopefully obvious thematic reasons) and formed my brave band (for the third time in the campaign):

 

Assassin, Weeping Blades, Sling, Light Armour.

Sorcerer, Warplock Pistol Brace, Sword (Spell: Warpfire).

Black Skaven, Halberd, Sling, Light Armour.

Black Skaven, Fighting Claws.

Gutterrunner, Spear, Throwing Stars.

Gutterrunner, Sword, Dagger, Throwing Stars.

Verminkin, Sword, Sling.

 

What a glorious group of heroes! Almost. Not quite. There is another Skaven player, Ric of Clan Moulder, who is running a horde of experimental mutants. He outnumbers me two to one, as do a few human war bands. As with my goblins, I’m sharing a model count with some tough customers – mainly T4 or BS4 or another non-leadership statistic of four. I’m be outmanned, out-muscled or out-classed in nearly every game I play.

Is there a bright side? Of course! Have you seen my equipment? Weeping Blades are hideous! Automatically wounding on 6’s, but still allowed to crit, and they cause a critical hit on a five or a six! Having checked the rules, that means that they always wound on a 5 or 6, so Toughness six beasts are that much easier to bring down! They might be rare in the first place, but these things are going to help make them even rarer!

Halberds are perfect for my Black Skaven – bring them to Strength five while still fighting at Initiative, I should be able to bring down enemies before they get a chance to fight back. Fighting Claws give my other Black Skaven spider-like agility when scaling buildings and getting about the board, as well as being pretty dangerous in a fight. The spear on one Gutterunner is for style more than anything – none of the Seven Samurai used a spear, but it’s cool. And might help my WS2 Gutterrunner not die immediately when charged. I’m trying twin swords on the other one to test the parry ability, as I think that’s going to be a big player in the campaign.

I will admit the sorcerer with Warplock Pistols is somewhat not-samurai-esque. I am putting this down as a Kabuki/Magician character, or is basically the special effects guy for my group. A little bit of ranged firepower is going to be very welcome, and the short range means he’s going to be stuck at the front with the others anyway. His spell also has an 8” range so the pistols will only be fired when I can’t risk collateral damage. Usually that is pretty rare, but when you have seven tooled up furballs it may come into play.

Game 1: Vengeance in Fur Form

My first game was against my roommate who had slaughtered half my original war band. Did I feel any more confident now that I had started again? Not a chance. We rolled Warpstone Hunt, so I wasn’t going to have my rats picked off one by one. Matt’s goat blokes were still fast, but slightly slower than my rats so I hoped to get some positioning advantage. I also hoped that with a take and hold objective he would break his war band up and I could deal with it piecemeal.

Was that malicious? Vengeful? Dare I say petty? Yes. I had played goblins, and was now playing Skaven. If I could nobble the minotaur and make him run bleating I’d be happy. Nothing less.

We set up on opposite board edges, he with a bridge for his billy goats and me with a church and a house built by our vampire player which he’d claimed as his own. There was a distinctly open square in the middle and while tactically it was okay to rush the middle as there was a wyrdstone token in the bell tower there, I lost first turn and didn’t fancy trying to force the goat blokes off it. I contented myself with nabbing the tokens in the church and vampire-home, then settling in for the duration.

Matt grabbed the token under the bridge and the one in the bell tower. He was less content with a draw however, and was very aware of how stabby my list could be given half a chance – he’d been playing World of Warships with me at the time it was designed. So while my pack was split between the two buildings, he ran his whole war band at the vampire-home, leaving my Sorcerer, Claw-wielding Black Skaven and the Spear wielding Gutterrunner two turns away. I sent a hail of slingshots and knives at his dudes and miraculously knocked a bestigor down and my sorcerer managed to take two wounds of the minotaur!

Then things got messy. The minotaur couldn’t quite charge into the building due to lines of sight and me being on three different floors, so instead bulled (ha ha) its way in through a window space/wall. The other goats spaced themselves around the outside, ready to jump in. His Shaman, Bad Trip, failed to cast Wings of Darkness so couldn’t catapult himself into my Assassin – a fact I was pretty grateful for!

In my turn I issued four charges against the minotaur, and had my first encounter with my leadership stat: The minotaur caused fear, and we misplayed the rules (I think) so that if I failed my LD check I couldn’t charge. With LD seven (Thanks, ‘great’ leader…) I hit the average and passed two out of four tests – except rather than either my Assassin with Weeping Blades or Black Skaven with Halberd making it in, who could have made short work of a single wound, no save model, my Verminkin and Gutterrunner did. In a panic my Sorcerer threw a ball of Warpfire at the muscle-bound cow and instead of cooking his ass managed to knock over my Gutterrunner in base contact and do the same to my Assassin on the floor above.

Suffice to say, my Verminkin did not kill the cow.

He was only stunned in return but this meant that someone was dying in Matt’s next turn. My leader and Black Skaven got charged on the upper floors while the other goats failed Initiative tests to get into the house, thankfully. The Shaman Dark Wings’d into my Black Skaven, and the stage was set for a three-floor brawl in the vampire-home.

Tables were broken, windows smash and a book-cased violently dismantled over someone’s head. Blod, fur, gristle and spit decorated the interior and the enighbours were kept awake with roars, squeals, braying and bleats. At the end of the combat phase, one goat and the minotaur were down as was my Verminkin – what a fan-fucking-tastic trade that was! Sadly my Skaven bottled it and ran with their two wyrdstone, even if I wanted them to stick it out a bit longer, and Matt took the victory.

We both got two bonus wyrdstone, his minotaur didn’t in fact die – although nor did Kikuchiru, which wasn’t as great a cause of celebration. His shaman lost an eye and my Gutterrunner suffered a deep chest wound and was reduced to Toughness two! I picked up a ton of wyrdstone, maybe six, and also salvaged two pairs of bracers from the black market along with some Heavy Armour for my leader and a lot of light armour for my other chaps. I banked about 40gp and three wyrdstone and looked for my next opponent.

Game 2 – Rumble in the Ruins

Or opponents! Four of us got together for the first multiplayer free for all of the campaign – another wyrdstone hunt, but this time there was a massive eleven wyrdstone on offer! Matt’s Gors were back, bringing a Centigor (presumably the tour bus) with them and their bassist, who had missed the last game. He was on my right after deployment; on my left was Captain Bloodbeard and his undead crew commanded by David Dys, and on the far side of the table Felix’s so-far unlucky Carnival of Chaos lurked. There was one large, central ruin that was about 2’x2’ and a might four flours high (at some sections); most of the wyrdstone ended up here, with one being suspiciously close to each player’s deployment areas. Clearly no one was 100% confident that they could take and hold the ruined mansion.

I split my seven rats into two groups again, this time my Sorcerer and Halberd Skaven on the right near a house with a wyrdstone shard in and everyone else in the centre, facing an apparently sheer wall. I was trusting my high Initiative and movement to get me to the top, and a hopefully commanding position. Turn one everyone shambled, scurried, trotted, lurched or walked towards the centre except the Carnival, who were suffering severe PTSD and hung back in a nearby building, cradling a single wyrdstone shard. David D’s dogs scampered into to grab wyrdstone and Matt’s shaman Dark Wings’d into the manor ruins. Over the next three turns they battled for position until Matt’s minotaur caught a pig and began either trying to kill it or mate with it, we weren’t sure from the combat rolls. In that time the Carnival hadn’t moved except for one enterprising swarm of grubs which managed to sneak in and steal a shard from the manor despite having a movement of three. I failed dismally to pick off a strangler from Matt’s band, threw some rather ineffective gravel at Dys’s Blooddragon Vampire pirate and my claw-armed dude ran up the side of the manor, trying to corner the bray shaman who hadn’t failed to cast his spell once, and was now carting two wyrdstone by himself.

I had planned to nobble him, swipe the wyrdstone and then hide in a corner/voluntarily rout as soon as possible with my three shards. Matt took offense to my not-so-subtle plan (I’d shot at one dude and used my claw-Skaven’s zone of control to ensure his shaman couldn’t walk out) so pulled his entire band out of the manor ruins and back towards me – fortunately the small door space and woods interrupted this, and only a lone Gor got into combat with my Sorcerer. Oh, and of course the shaman cast his spell to escape not-quite-certain death and charge into my unlucky magician. Combat saw him removed by the Gor, so that was an issue.

In my turn I counter charged, surprising Matt with how far most of my dudes could go, and abandoned any kind of board control – with the shaman in my lines, my prize was easily within reach! And I only had to get my Verminkin sliced up to rout! That plan failed as I took down both the bray shaman and the Gor in combat. Dys brought his angry dead (slowly) around the manor, having been misled about my willingness to fight on two fronts, and caught by surprise at how quickly I could run away (‘redeploy’) and the Carnival unlocked the windows of their hovel, confused why they couldn’t hear the sounds of combat any more.

Matt charged in with everything except a Bestigor and the Minotaur, who had charge lines blocked by the manor wall and doors. In a truly surprising display of skill my entire war band won their fights, stunning or eliminating their opponents – except my leader who, charged by Matt’s chieftain, only managed to knock him down. Matt’s dice had been terrible and I could see him weighing up whether he was going to rout next turn – Dys’s remaining pig and vampire had already reached our brawl (swiftly becoming a tradition for our war bands) and his shambling horde were only a turn away. My verminkin had been destroyed by the vampire, which was a fortunately bad tactical move by Dys as it meant that in my next turn I could voluntarily rout – with a total of five wyrdstone, thanks to Matt’s unfortunate combat rolls!

I rolled first turn next, for the first time all game and really the only time it mattered. I spent a pretty intense seven seconds deciding if I wanted to roll into the vampire with everything, near definitely removing him but opening myself up for a counter charge by less stabby but not that much softer undead. Matt’s minotaur was lurking in the wings as was his last Bestigor, late to the gig for reasons best left unexplored, and they could have made pretty short work of something themselves and I could see him eyeing up the so far undefeated vampire. Glorious victory shined bright in my eyes, the promise of riches and renown filling my mind…

Then I remembered I was a Samurat. I fought not for glory or riches, but mainly to stab people in the back when they weren’t looking and steal things back to the hovel I’d been hired to ‘protect’/enrich. So I put down my dice and declared I was off, taking my five remaining rats and five shiny wyrdstone with me.

Dys finished off Matt’s leader but his Wight couldn’t manage the Bestigor in one round, the Carnival came out of hiding and began to prance about a bit and Matt also routed, with only one shard despite an serious lead in the early game. Dys then made the somewhat suspect decision to rout, on the basis he’d lost two pigs and didn’t want to risk losing something else – this left a very surprised Felix with a wholly unexpected victory, if not much wyrdstone for it.

In the after game my Sorcerer recovered fully (more like had faked it…), Kikuchiru the First died and was instantly replaced, and I rolled another five wyrdstone on my exploration. Pretty ratting good game! So far I’d lost two games and come out with enough surplus wyrdstone to see me through for at least two more! I went shopping again, although since I only sold six shards to avoid a glut I could only afford helmets for every one and the hiring of Kikuchiru the Second, complete with two swords, a helmet and light armour. Spoilt bloody henchman he was too…

I also got some skill ups, far more excitingly! My Sorcerer went up to BS4, making him mildly more useful with his pistol, and some bracers which allowed me to swap out his sword for a halberd. My halberd Skaven got himself Lightning Reflexes and Tail Fighting, giving him and extra sword attack and a parry bonus with his bracers while also ensuring he was going to be striking at Initiative with chargers. Claws only got one advance, which was Tail Fighting avec new sword for the bonus attack. My Toughness two Gutterrunner, now dubbed Heihachi, got Knife Master, allowing him to throw his knives three times a turn, while the other received an additional Attack and Initiative making him a pretty scary prospect one on one. My leader also picked up Lightning Reflexes; my thinking was that, while I could almost guarantee a charge with my high movement and climbing ability, if I could bait people into making mistakes by charging into my Reflexed people then I’d half my work done!

So the Samurats were bloodied and bruised, technically beaten but bouncing back better than before! They were also a lot of fun to play, the options available on each of them and the different equipment I’d dished out making them each a little more characterful. Yes, I could have done this with goblins and if I re-rack again I’ll probably go back to them with a fresh plan that I’ve put together. But first the sun had to set on the legend of the Seven Samurats, and it looks like it’s going to be a long, long day.

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