The Black Host of Lord Zhurduz
For the first time in a hundred years, an independent Chaos Dwarf warband has been sighted making the arduous trek into the Old World. Thus far they have only penetrated the eastern foothills of the World’s Edge Mountains, clashing with their uncorrupted kin in the high passes of that region, but their intent is clear. Storm clouds gather on the eastern horizon and thunder rumbles in the distance. The Empire still reels from the devastation of the Storm of Chaos and the battles for the Nemesis Crown, and now the Father of Darkness has come calling at long last: Hashut bays for blood and fire and it is Lord Zhurduz, his self-appointed prophet, who plans to lead the charge.
In other words…I met an old friend of mine a month or so ago who invited me to play some Warhammer with him and his friends, if I could find an army. I haven’t played WHFB for years, but I still had a bitz box, and that meant that my Chaos Dwarfs could be salvaged and rebuilt. So, a few licks of paint, rather too much superglue and a truly awful debut performance from my bull centaurs and here we are. I like to pretend I’m going to be a writer someday, so you’ll all have to put up with some fluff for these guys too, but feel free to skim through and look at the pictures instead.
A quick preface to the pictures though: these were done pretty quickly (the blunderbusses took me only a matter of hours for instance). I’m a fast painter anyway, but these are strictly table-top standard, so don’t expect any Golden Demon level stuff here. Even the heroes were done for speed rather than looks. Also, my paintjobs are rather like impressionist painting: they look a lot better from a distance. The close-up photography doesn’t do them any favours.
Anyway, enough excuses, on with the show:
He calls himself “The Hammer of Hashut” and “The Stormrider” but, to most Dawi’Zharr, he is know disparagingly as “The Slavelord”. He once served the Sorcerer Lord Ghoroz, who gave his general a large amount of autonomy to scour the Dark Lands for slaves as it increased his wealth, power and influence. However, where Ghoroz finally succumbed to the Sorcerer’s Curse, Zhurduz did not return to Zharr-Nagrund to retake his oaths of fealty to the Sorcerers and transfer his service to a new master. Instead, he remained at large, taking countless slaves and crushing all before him. Now, instead of sending his captives back to the Zharr-Nagrund to labour in the mines and furnaces, he adds them to his military might, amassing a vast horde of slave troops which he ruthlessly expends to defeat still more enemies. Zhurduz, unlike most Chaos Dwarfs, does not believe that slaves are simply a means to an end to ensure the continued survival and wealth of his people, but rather feels a theological and philosophical need to enslave other races: it is his firm belief that it is the destiny of the Dawi’Zharr to make slaves of every other creature in the world. He is waiting for the time when he can take his forces outside the Dark Lands and into the rest of the world to crush all before him and turn the Chaos Dwarfs into the world’s dominant force. His contemporaries consider him dangerously insane, but Zhurduz knows he walks with Hashut and that the Father of Darkness will guide his hand. His weapon glows with terrible power, as it contains the essence of a Storm Daemon he claims to have bound to it through sheer force of will. His mount is Storm, a Great Taurus and he wears armour forged from meteoric iron that is incredibly resistant to heat.
Zhruduz is a Lord on a Great Taurus, and therefore not legal in my current force. But he will be…eventually… He has the Black Hammer of Hashut and wears the Armour of the Furnace. I haven’t yet had a chance to see if this is at all effective, but once my army expands I plan to use him in combination with the bull centaurs to break the enemy with a devastating charge to the flank.
Dharkhaz the Young
Dharkhaz is a young Sorcerer who wields little influence in the Temple of Hashut. He commands only a small household guard and must therefore wait until his power grows before he can have any standing amongst his peers. Dharkhaz is impatient however, and has sought out Lord Zhurduz and joined his army so that he may bring many slaves back to Zharr-Nagrund and, through military success, obtain the power he so desires. With the patronage of a Sorcerer (albeit a fairly weak one), Zhurduz can now bring his fight to the rest of the world. Dharkhaz dislikes Zhurduz - whom he considers to be a dangerous megalomaniac - but both dwarfs need each other at the moment. Their alliance is growing increasingly fragile however…
Dharkhaz is a level 2 Sorcerer with a Talisman of Protection and the Black Gem of Gnar. Thus far, his magic has proved singularly ineffective as the dwarf army I faced dispelled everything he attempted. Next time I’m taking two power stones.
Commander Hzarkh and The Stormbrothers
Commander Hzarkh is the captain of Dharkhaz’s household guard but he has been placed in command of Zhurduz’s main Chaos Dwarf unit, the Stormbrothers, which sits somewhat ill with him. Hzarkh is a very traditional member of Chaos Dwarf society and utterly despises Zhurduz, but can do little to express his feelings while he and his master fight as part of the renegade Lord’s armies.
Big hats! The unit is 14-strong, and Hzarkh is a Hero with the Armour of Gazrakh and a Biting Blade (and, more to the point, a bloodbowl model I got cheap from ebay). He’s specifically designed to fight challenges against enemy characters - the hope is that they can hit as hard as they want, and I will laugh off their blows thanks to his magic armour. This unit is the first example of how I’ve done my banners - the idea was that I have little or no modelling skill, so I really didn’t feel like converting a standard bearer from an existing model and, upon realising that it doesn’t really matter who has the thing (rather, it’s just an addition to the unit in general), I modelled a banner that sits in the unit separately. It’s just a kebab skewer stuck on a cardboard base the size of four bases ranked up with a big banner stuck on it. It sits between the first and second rank and, if they ever lose the standard, I can just take it out and hand it to my opponent, who can feel free to actually put it in his unit properly.
Unlike The Stormbrothers, these blunderbuss-wielding troops are not drawn from the warrior caste of Zharr-Nagrund, but are instead citizen militia. They are noticeably smaller than their brethren and lack the exotically curled beards and tall hats, but are nonetheless fierce fighters who happily make use of their devastating weaponry.
Uh…yeah… blunderbusses are a bitch to get hold of, so I decided to bite the bullet (or should that be ‘bite the shrapnel and debris’?) and just make some out of thunderers. The blunderbusses are just bucklers stuck on the end of the guns which looked pretty decent to me. A fittingly evil paintjob covers up a multitude of sins and I think they look just fine - but they are much, much smaller than the old plastic Chaos Dwarfs, hence the ‘citizen militia’ excuse.
Some slaves. Zhurduz cares not for their story.
Ten hobgoblins with bows and another one of my custom banners (the arrows are supposed to look crudely daubed…). Four models in the back rank are actually old plastic gobbos (the single-pose ones that came in a box with five spear-wielding goblins) because I only had six real hobgoblins. That’s what I get for picking such a silly army.
Lord Zhurduz usually prefers to put his trust in strength of arms and numbers, but even he has to admit that artillery is very handy against the heavily armed and armoured soldiers he expects to fight in the Old World. The Death Rocket’s crew are a little inexperienced, and are still working out the kinks in their machine so they can estimate ranges a little better.
It’s not a Chaos Dwarf army without big guns, even if I can’t hit the side of a barn door with this thing. The one accurate range guess in my opening game ended up with the rocket veering off harmlessly in the wrong direction afterwards. Ho hum.
Grimskull’s warband were encountered when the Black Host first made its way into the passes over the World’s Edge Mountains. Given the unfavourable circumstances and the size of the so-called “Skullz”, Zhurduz decided it would be wiser to offer the black orcs employment rather than attempt to enslave them. The investment has proved fairly wise so far, even if Zhurduz doesn’t like to think about how much he’s contradicting his supposedly-holy mission by not bringing the Skullz to heel immediately.
Some pleasingly old black orcs and a 40K ork nob to lead them. These are probably my best example of speed painting - the skin is just done in a mix of snot green and chaos black, then given a really extreme highlight by mixing in a lot of skull white before being covered in a chaos black wash. The armour is base coated in brown foundation paint (I forget the exact colour) then painted over in boltgun metal before that gets a black wash too. They look surprisingly good as long as you don’t get too close…
The Bull Centaurs follow Dharkhaz and echo the feelings of Commander Hzarkh towards Zhurduz. They have changed their livery to match the rest of the army, but their captain has resisted and still sports his own heraldry. The Thunderspawn are notoriously superstitious and feel like their general is going against the will of Hashut - in the Black Host’s first engagement they were extremely reluctant to join the battle and left well before the end of the fighting, earning the ire of the rest of the army.
Or, as I put it when I sadly removed them from the table after they fled off it in the first turn, "Another good purchase from ebay…"
Yes, my centaurs have not acquitted themselves well in battle so far. They took two casualties (oh how I miss that extra wound from fifth edition) and promptly ran away. My entire battle plan hinged on them engaging the dwarf gunline as soon as possible, but after they disappeared I had no choice but to trudge slowly into the teeth of the guns with the rest of my slow-moving force and get my ass handed to me.
So there you have it. As you can probably pick up from the narrative, their first showing wasn’t exactly successful. The group I was playing with proved to be stricter with their interpretation of the rules than I was expecting so my then-1,000 point army had to be 50% proxied from their model collection. This was no problem, except that I was facing a dwarf army that had invested heavily in anti-magic and war machines and whose turn consisted entirely of shooting phase. With no fast moving units (save ten wolf riders that I had bizarrely neglected to give bows) I didn’t have much choice but to try and get into combat as fast as possible - which is not easy when you’re a dwarf. Six turns later and there wasn’t much left of the Black Host, even if they did look considerably nicer than my opponent’s mostly-proxied and unpainted force.
I have a hellcannon on the way (to count as an earthshaker) and I plan to increase the army to 2,000 points with another blunderbuss unit and some wolf riders. Hopefully then I should have enough fast stuff to silence those pesky dwarf cannons.