The opening Chaos gambit is repulsed by the Dwarfs
Jon and I opened the campaign with a Meeting Engagement between the two forces. I won the "privilege" of deploying first, and the cunning Dwarfs stole the initiative for first turn - this was sure to be a bloody affair. More pictures on Picasa.
Early fire from Dwarf Thunderers, an Organ Gun, and a Grudge Thrower wrought massive casualties on the heart of the Chaos line, and the battle seemed to be a forgone conclusion until the Cenobael the Bloodless, the Chaos Sorcerer Lord, cast a Comet of Cassandora (with Irresistible Force!) into the heart of the Dwarf gun emplacements. The stubborn Dwarfs refused to move (possibly due to the proximity of Bugman's Brewery) as the sky split open. Finally, with a deafening crack, a comet slammed into the battlefield, flinging Dwarfs around like rag dolls while a unit of Chaos Ogres and Chaos Knights swept the Dwarf flank.
But luckily for the forces of Order, it was too little, too late. Elsewhere a regiment of Hammerers cut down the remaining Chaos Warriors as they battled knee-deep in a stagnant creek, routing not only the Warriors but also the Sorcerer Lord and an Exalted Champion of Chaos. Meanwhile the famed hunter Yngir Crowbone (counts as Wulfrik the Wanderer) finally arrived from the rear with his rabble of Marauders, attempting to take the head of the Dwarf general as a trophy, but was soundly repulsed by sturdy Dwarvish steel.
In the end, Jon won by 300 or so victory points. I was pleased that I was able to make a comeback after what appeared to be initially devastating losses. In retrospect, I would have done much better if I had the nerve to charge my knights across the open ground where the comet was set to strike, but I was loathe to risk the expensive unit (as the comet was dealing out strength 10 hits by this point).
Following the game, we rolled for after-battle effects. Jon's victory had not only alerted the Dwarfs to a Chaos presence in the Marshes, but he was able to dispatch a runner to the nearby fortress of Barak Varr for aid. In the next game, the restriction on Special and Elite units will be relaxed dramatically for his army - I'll be certain to face the best that the Dwarfs have to offer. Conversely, the early defeat had sown confusion in the Chaos assault, and my Ogres will suffer from Stupidity for the next battle.
The heroes of the battle did not fare so well, though. Of the 6 characters we brought, only the Dwarf Lord remained standing. Jon's Runesmith and Dragon Slayer both suffered minor injuries that would impact their performance in the next battle. It went worse for the Chaos heroes, two of whom suffered major injuries - although they would fight again, these lasting wounds would stay with them until the end of their days. The Exalted Champion did not sustain any injuries, but in the confusion following the rout of his unit, the Filth Mace slipped from his hands to the bottom of the creek, no doubt poisoning the waters for all time. My army will not be able to take this item for the remainder of the campaign. Harsh indeed!
Emboldened by victory and alert to the fact that their simple mining operation has become a war for survival, the Dwarfs hold counsel and plan their next move...