Friday, December 3, 2021

The Battle Of Death Keep

Battle Background

For centuries, the lands surrounding the Viper Mountains, known as the spines of Umbraxakar to the locals, was a quiet colony of the Witch King. The dark elf governor and administrative elite grew rich from the labors of their reptilian subjects who toiled in the mines and peat bogs.

Galvorn ore and diamonds were the exports of greatest interest to the greedy elves. They used them liberally in their homes adorning their decorations and silverware. They even fashioned the galvorn metals into their armor. These colonial administrators grew complacent and took their wealth for granted. It was simply a matter of course that these dull reptiles would stay in their station and continue their drudges’ work. This was the natural order of things. Elves were simply better and it was the role of these lesser reptiles to do their bidding. Simple as that. Centuries of this entitled position caused the elves to grow complacent and loosen their evil vigilance.

In their damp caves, out of the earshot of the elves, the lizardfolk talked and croaked in their own fashion.They recounted their old myths and legends. They talked about times before the cruel elves. Ioth Sithis, emerged among these scheming lizards as a central figure that they all looked up to. He was a potent story teller. He used story to teach the possibility of life beyond the elves.

Knowing that the elves couldn’t tell the lizards from the different labor camps apart, Sithis sent messengers between the camps and among the Troglodytes. They spread ideas of rebellion. They opened up the minds of the lizards to the possibility of life beyond the hegemony of the elves. The reptilian folks relished the legend of Umbraxakar, the mountainous serpent. They believed this serpent might liberate them. And, so, the lizardfolk bided their time believing they would be saved rather than rising up on their own.

One day, an old overworked slann harkened to the stories of Ioth Sithis. She heard all of the hope that the lizardfolk put into the return of Umbraxakar but she also saw that they were otherwise idle - ready, but waiting to be set free. In front of the cold blooded crowd she told him “a tadpole cannot walk without legs.” Ioth Sithis knew what he must do.

In the dark of night he stole into the jungle to find a big enough serpent. The legends were vague enough about Umbraxakar’s actual size and appearance so he needn’t be choosey. Having spied a suitable candidate he laid a trail of carrion back to the work camp. Greedily, the beast followed, consuming the meat. At the perimeter Loth Sithis flung the last meat onto the flimsy palisade and the jungle serpent gleefully played along and stampeded through the fence into the encampment. Havoc ensued as the dark elf sentries tried to flee from the monster. Many were gobbled up and others were clubbed and speared by lizardmen.

Throughout the cacophonous chaos Ioth Sithis would shout “Umbraxakar!!” “UUUUmmbraxakaaaaar!” Soon all of the lizards had joined in chant. “Umbraxakar, Umbraxakar, Umbraxakar.” The worn out and tired lizards were besides themselves with joy at the apparent return of their god-serpent. They danced with joy, prostrated themselves, and otherwise celebrated riotously.

Ioth Sithis knew he had to act fast. The elves would not be idle. The troglodytes were aroused from the mud pits by the echoing call of Umbraxakar. They took up arms to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Ioth Sithis’ Lizardmen kin of the Black Bog drove their slaves from their caves and to join the warpath led by the self-proclaimed lizard king, Ioth Sithis. “Wwweee mussst dessstroyy tthhee elvvven tthhreat! Ffffor tttoo many yearsssss ttthhhey haaavve builttt ttttowerssss andddd eaaacchh yeeaaarrrr tttheeiirr tttooowwweeersss drraawww closssser ttttooo ourrr sssswwamp! Itttt isssss ourrr ttiiiime tttoo livvveeee innn ttthhee sssccccattterrrred ssssssun!!” Under the shadow of Umbraxakar the lizards march to the highland forts to confront the dark elf colonial establishment.

Overview Map

Map Key

Loth Sithis’ Rebellion

Ioth Ssissith, level 25 Lizardman on cold one, Axe of Magic Absorption

”Umbraxakar” Level 1 Dragon with Flight

9 Lizardmen w/ spears including banner bearer, musican, Hellfire Banner & Thurgix Sauriv, level 5 Lizardman with double handed weapon

9 Lizardmen with Hand Weapons & Shields including standard bearer and musician & Farang Gix, level 10 Lizardman with double handed weapon

5 Troglodytes w/ double handed weapons, & Pothoc, level 5 Troglodyte w/ bow

5 Troglodyes with Hand Weapons & Shields, & Vargus Yrev, level 15 Lizardman with Flail

10 Slaves, Priestess of Umbraxakar, level 15 wizard & Cold One Warhound

Total Point Value: 2008 points

Helkate’s colonial Garrison

Helkate - Lvl 15 Death Hood

Death Keep Guard - Dark Elf Crossbowmen x 10.

Repeating Bolt Thrower

Baggage Train

Total Point Value: 521

Kin’Lath’s Relief Column

Kin’Lath’s Slashers - 14 Dark Elf Warriors (with a musician with the hymm of hatred), level 5 champion (with shield and light armor) (and a magic sword with enchanted strike), Lvl10 battle standard (with shield and light armor) (and banner with the talismanic standard ability and ward of the brave), Lvl 20 hero (general) (with galvorn armor, a magic sword with enchanted strike and frenzy, and a ring with the hand of death spell)

Dark Bolters - Dark Elf Crossbowmen x 10.

Scorched Pass Sortie- Helldrakes with Lances x 5

Total Point Value: 1153

Shadow Weaver’s Spectral Guard

Shadow Weaver - lvl 15 Necromancer Allied Contingent Leader (with their mandatory magic weapon with the parrying blade and mighty strike ability. And with a ring with the summon skeletons spell)

Tarath’s Revenge- Skeletons x 11 with shield and light armor and Tarath (a lvl 10 champion with a mandatory magic sword (with enchanted strike)

Total Point Value 496

The Scenario

The scenario starts with Death Keep already beleaguered by Loth Sithis’ rebellion. They are inches away and ready to come to blows with the defenders.

The defenders have lit their signal fire calling for aid. But, will it come in time? Each turn the dark elf player will roll a die each for Kin’Lath’s Relief Column and Shadowweaver’s Spectral guard. On a 6 the respective forces will arrive. Kin’Lath will arrive from the right hand side of the board and Shadowweaver from the passage tomb on the table.

The victory conditions are a do or die situation. The Lizards must seize the fort and drive off any remaining elves. And, the elves in the fort must pray they survive while the relief must punish the rebellious lizards.

Quinton’s Lizardman pre-battle plan:

Kill the Elves! Eat their flesh!!!

In all seriousness, my battle plan is to swarm the tower, and defend it from the dark elves reinforcements.

Byron’s Dark Elf pre battle plan:

Basically, my army has 3 parts: the people in the fort, the dark elf reinforcements, and my undead allies.

The Elves in the Fort

I assume that they were all forfeit. They are terribly outnumbered, and too few in number to defend the various points of entry. Even with the aid of the hedges, the advantage of a defended obstacle would only delay the inevitable. So their role is to delay the inevitable as long as they can. They must pray for reinforcements to come.

The Dark Elf Reinforcements

This contingent was made up of 3 units, warriors with some potent characters, helldrakes, and crossbowmen. In this scenario helldrakes are borderline useless. Their mounts won’t attack lizards! They must be a part of this nefarious rebellion somehow! Perhaps they could dismount and fight on foot to bolster the defenders behind their hedges? We will see.

This second unit of crossbowmen will be fielded as skirmishers. I figure that makes them maneuverable (and I don’t expect them to fight in close combat) and their crossbows are Str 4 which will be useful against these sturdy lizards.

Finally, the regiment of warriors is my ace in the hole. Kin’lath, the general, is equipped with items that give him a vicious synergy. Right off the bat he has high WS so he will be hitting on 3’s or 4’s. His sword grants him frenzy, so he may gain a +1 to hit from frenzy. Additionally, the regiment sings the Hymm of Hate granting everyone a +1 to hit. And finally, if they charge or follow up they gain a further +1 to hit. These net Kin’lath a total +3 to hit, so he will be hitting on everything but a 1! To further increase his viciousness, he has a ring with the Hand of Death Spell enscorcelled into it! This means if he hits he automatically wounds! And, as a final cunning ploy, his sword has enchanted strike which doubles the wounds he causes! (a common magic weapon ability among the vicious elves) In sum, he has 4 attacks that hit on 2+, automatically wound, and cause 2 wounds each. Since lizards and trogs have a base of 2 wounds each, this means he will be cutting through lizards and trogs like butter. The regiment is augmented with a battle standard that stores magic points and grants +1 combat resolution in case they get outnumbered or suffer casualties. Lastly, the regiment has a champion with a magic sword that has the enchanted strike ability.

I figure that Quinton’s dragon and general will be tough cookies. My main goal will be to crash my general into them and rely on him dishing out the wounds - even if he lost all of his men, just getting him to grips with the beast is my top priority. I think that this one man can single handedly slay all of the lizards - his entourage are simply there to protect him by taking any hits from ranged weapons or otherwise.


My undead contingent was a bit of an afterthought. I brought them along because we agreed to a 2000 point battle and I didn’t have enough elves to meet the brief, except for a handful of undead elves. She has an ineffective magic sword, but importantly a ring that lets her summon skeletons. It was my intention to use this ring to summon undead cavalry to slow the lizards so that my general could crash into them.

Even though I start with a small fort, I fear that my small forces will be destroyed in detail like the Maugthrond Pass scenario. I am hoping Kin’lath and Shadow Weaver show up on time.

Quinton Turn 1:

Loth Sithis gave the order and a generalized advance toward the small keep began. The whole horde of lizardfolk and troglodytes shuffled forward in their gangly manner. Sithis roused his cold one and prepared it to charge the Dark Elves the following turn.

Moving into the magic phase, the priestess casts an aura of protection upon herself, and the shadow lord Umbraxakar uses his breath of Desiccation on the bolt thrower, causing 5 hits against the crewmen and they become dust.

overview of the key action this turn

Dark Elf defenders stare down their attackers

Shambling Trogs sneak into the unguarded stable door.

The crew are all dried to dust by the dragon.

Byron Turn 1:

The advance of the lizardfolk created a harrowing din. Strange croaks, hisses, and reptilian squawks filled the air. The dark elf attendants fled to the blockhouse while the guards stood their ground.

On command the crossbowmen unleashed their deadly bolts. Their bolts found their mark slaying two troglodytes and wounding the Lizard’s wretched leader. A lucky volley, but not enough to slow the cold blooded advance.

Desperately, Helkate casts windblast upon the lizardman general. She hopes that he can be slowed and thereby even the inevitable fight.
The Lizard General suffers a wound from the biting accuracy of dark elf crossbows

The dragon advancing on the tower.

Quinton Turn 2:

Map showing the follow up of the troglodytes

The troglodytes kept their focus on the elves and charge the defenders along with their lord. A whirling and chaotic combat ensues as fighters from both sides of the hedges are blasted by the continuing gale of wind. The troglodytes and crossbowmen flail about in the wind and land no blows. The brutish lizard king slayed two elves thereby claiming the ground and pushing the elves back. “Climb over and Keeelll!” Hissed their lord. The Troglodytes then joined the elves in the corral.

Meanwhile, slippery lizards and troglodytes entered into the stables and faced no opposition.

Umbraxakar decided to land and advance on the fortress on foot. Was this a trivial choice? We shall see….

Overview of the battle as the trogs follow up into the corral.

Close up of the fight for the corral.

Byron Turn 2:

The bitter melee continued. There was a quick reversal in the push and shove in the corral. The quick elves caused four wounds and slew 2 troglodytes while in reply the languid troglodytes only caused 2 wounds. The troglodytes were pushed back over the hedge and the corral was once again in elven hands, if only for a moment.

To aid her toiling brethren, Helkate ceased the wind and summoned an undead champion into the courtyard.

Quinton Turn 3:

Again, the troglodytes were clear-headed and sure of their purpose. They redoubled their attacks against the colonizers. But Ioth Sithis could not rouse his cold one.

The combat at the hedge was a draw with both sides losing a single wound.

Meanwhile the troglodytes and lizardmen in the stable neared the corral and prepared to attack the elves in the rear! And Umbraxakar continued to encircle the tower.

Byron Turn 3:

Suddenly, a great horn blast was heard! Kin’Lath had arrived! There was hope that the beleaguered elves might yet live! Kin’Lath’s forces wasted no time. His cold one riders advanced straight to the corral in hopes that they might dismount and stall the lizards until the infantry proper could arrive.

The 2nd watch crossbowmen took up a position on the hill overlooking the dire fight. The next turn they would be ready to rain down their accurate bolts. And, Kin’lath advanced directly for the dragon! His comrades in arms were ready for vengeance as they sang their hymn of hate!

“Death to the elvesssssss” Hissed Ioth Sithis.In the corral, the elves were again pushed back into the corral and their cold blooded pursuers followed.

Helkate recalled what the dragon had down to the bolt thrower crew up stairs, but knew the dragon must be dealth with. She took a deep breath, went down stairs, peeped just outside to spot the horrid serpent. She cast hand of dust, took another deep breath and waited for it.

Quinton Turn 4:

Once more the limited mental faculties of the troglodytes and cold ones didn’t hinder their righteous rebellion.

The evil elves in the corral were now surrounded by troglodytes as the tall lizards ambled out of the stables in their rear.

Our great lord, Umbraxakar, espied the dark elf knights on their turncoat mounts and once again unleashed his breath of dessication. Every single dark elf rider perished as they were dried into elf jerky.

Byron Turn 4:

The desperate melee in the corral continued. The few elven survivors lashed out at their reptilian foes, landing few blows but causing no wounds. Blows from every side slew three crossbowmen.

Helkate let out a scream as she made for Umbraxakar. “Death!”

Startled by her glowing hand Umbraxakar turned tail and ran! The great leviathan was pursued by the elf. Seeing the dragon flee, the crossbowmen on the hill shoot it in the back to hasten its flight. They cause one wound.

Cunning Kin’lath anticipated that the dragon would not continue to flee and pursued the dragon so that he might slay it, should it rally. No quarter shall be given.

Overview of the corral teeming with trogs

Crossbows on the hill overlooking the corral.
Helkate can be see in the distance chasing after the dragon.

Quinton Turn 5:

To the great astonishment of both elves and lizardfolks, Umbraxakar abandoned his followers in their hour of need. It is at this moment that everything turns against the lizardfolk.

In the corral the troglodytes overcome the remaining sentries and halt their advance as they feast on the baggage train.

Outside the corral the lizardmen pivot to encircle the tower from the outside.

Byron Turn 5:

Kin’Lath surges to meet the vile lizards in the corral and reclaim the defiled fort. He shouts out a daring challenge to the rebel leader! Kin’lath is coming for revenge!

Helkate collects herself and returns to the tower. And the crossbowmen on the hill unleashed their deadly bolts into the corral scoring a whopping 6 wounds and removing the unit. It is presumed this first unit was eaten by their comrades behind them.

Quinton turn 6:

A quick turn as the lizards prepared for the elven attack. They ambled up to the hedge to it as a barrier and their flanking force continues its route around the fort.

Byron Turn 6:

The Dark Elves declared their charge and got stuck in. They stabbed at the troglodytes across the hedge and caused two wounds while the lizards flailed and scored no hits. The lizards are pushed back and the Elves followed up. Kin’lath then remembers to activate his ring granting himself the hand of death spell.

The dark elf crossbowmen shot the flanking force and caused a wound.

Helkate spent the turn ruminating in the fort to regain a magic point.

Quinton Turn 7:

In the corral, Ioth Sithis joins the combat. Again, the troglodytes flail their arms at the elves and score no hits! Kin’lath hacked and slashed at the lizardfolk! His hatred and frenzy allowing him to land many hits. His ensorcelled ring and sword ripping the lizards to pieces. He killed two two troglodytes and Vargus Yrev, the lizardman champion. The elves got in close with their vicious swords and scored 3 wounds leaving only 2 troglodytes left. The troglodytes are pushed back again.

Meanwhile the flanking lizards turned the corner and used their hellfire banner to throw a fireball at the elves. One warrior perished.

Dark elf general attacks, killing the last two troglodytes and the Lizardmen hero.
Dark Elves pour into the corral

Close up of the Lizard General

The lizards on their route around the tower.

Closer up of the lizards.

Byron Turn 7:

The Rebel ringleader and Kin’lath circled each other in a deadly duel. The nimble elf struck first causing 4 wounds! The lizard saved 1 and attacked back. He landed a single hit but caused no wounds.

Meanwhile around them the dark elf champion slew a lizard while his comrades missed their attacks. The lizards retaliated killing a single elf. The lizards are pushed back and the corral is filled with hateful elves.

The marksmen on the hill fired at, and killed two Lizardmen near the tower.

Quinton Turn 8:

The bloody slaughter in the corral continued. Vicious elven daggers slew two lizardmen including their champion. Kin’lath mercilessly finished off Ioth Sithis. The surviving lizards all missed their attacks! Woe to the lizards! The predatory elves spread out and lapped around the lizards to surround them.

The flanking lizards continued their walk around the tower and again unleashed their hellfire banner, but this time it caused no wounds.
a hacking and slashing din fills the corral

Hellfire banner scorches an elf

The bloody melee in the corral continues as the lizards replace the trogs.

Byron Turn 8:

Fearing that the flanking lizards might stab her comrades in the back, Helkate once again leapt into action. “Death!” She flung herself at the lizard with the accursed banner with her hand of dust out stretched. She slew the banner bearer, crumpling him to dust in her grip.

Fearing the worst fate for the dashing sorceress, the crossbowmen fire into the combat between Helkate and the lizards! Their bolts flew into the melee indiscriminately. One lizardman is killed, suffering two wounds. But, a bolt struck Helkate! She lost a wound, and her hand of dust magic aura! Now she is in dire straits indeed!

Back in the corral, Kin’lath continued his murderous rampage and killed a lizardman. His teaming comrades killed another lizardman. The poor lizards bungled their attacks and missed all of their attacks yet again.

Murderous elves surround the lizards in the corral

Crossbowmen espy the lizards coming around the corner.

DEATH! Helkate strangles the standard bearer (removed as a casualty)
and he turns to dust in her hands.

Quinton Turn 9:

The bloody mess in the courtyard continued. The elves continue their messy work. The hapless lizards fail all of their attacks. Kinlath killed two lizards himself, the warriors killed another, and finally the champion caused two wounds killing the final lizardman. The corral was suddenly silent.

Outside the tower, the lizards struck at Helkate but, regretfully, caused no wounds! How fortunate! That smaller skirmish was drawn again.
The lizards in the corral are heaped in a pile of death.

Byron turn 9:

Helkate found herself outnumbered by lizardmen with only a single wound remaining. She had to do something to change the odds. She expended the remainder of her magic points to re-cast the hand of dust. She hoped this might turn those lizards to dust. In the combat she grabbed another lizard and turned him to dust her in hands. Crossbow bolts zipped into the combat around her leaving only 3 lizards standing. The lizards broke and fled and were pursued by Helkate. The slaves, behind, decided to make a well advized retreat from the battle.

The battle concluded with the garrison dead, but the attendants alive and the fort reclaimed by the avenging Dark Elves.
Helkate fights on although she is outnumbered.

Helkate routes the lizards with her deathly sorcery and daring.

Post Battle Reflections


In retrospect there were many play mistakes on my part throughout the game-

Likely due to the intake of beer and herb I forgot some key abilities such as the stench of the troglodytes and the fear that they cause. Even with my preparations I likely had been toking as I noticed I had taken the improper magic weapon for my general. You saw above he was equipped with an axe of magic absorption, which I believed to absorb one stat point away upon each wound and allocate it to the bearer.

That magic item would have been an axe of steal, instead the item I had taken should have been able to absorb a spell cast on the bearer, and cast it at a later date. That would have come in handy in the windblast turns. Oh well, no worries though because I forgot to absorb the stats anyways. XD

The only other thing I should reflect on is Umbraxakar’s fleeing.

Terrible mistake-

Although I do believe he did what he should have, as I see him as a more treacherous god that would allow his servants to fight for him while he lives on.

In the future I have plans to make remembering my units rules as I go, because I will definitely be stoned again. Byron was an exceptional host and from there on to be a great friend, I look forward to the next battle with our armies from the upcoming OWAC.


There are a few things to comment on.

First, Quinton got very unlucky. As noted in the battle report there were numerous rounds where he rolled dice to hit and scored zero hits. Generalship can only get you so far if the dice just aren’t cooperating.

It was a tactical error for Umbraxakar to flee, but I was exceedingly fortunate that he continued to route rather than rallying. Had the dragon rallied he might have posed a threat and might have swung the battle the other way.

Next, was that everything else seemed to go as planned. Kin’lath’s gear had a strong synergy that played out as expected. He hit frequently, auto wounded, and caused double wounds and the lizards had very limited armor to stop him.

Hand of dust was a very effective spell. Windblast did an okay job of mitigating harm.

The crossbows were effective. They hit consistently and routinely wounded. 

The repeating bolt thrower was not good. I wouldn’t get it again for a 3rd ed game. I didn't know they only did Str 3 attacks. Hard pass. 

Troglodytes are like fimir. They have 2 attacks and wide bases. I’d like to fight them again and figure out how to make them shine. Also I just love the Tom Meier Trogs.

Quinton was good company, his girlfriend was an excellent scribe, and I look forward to our next evening gaming together.