Total War: Warhammer II – Mortal Empires – Karaz Ankor Reborn – The First Year

The Starting Situation


Thorgrim stared out from the battlements of Karaz-a-Karak, looking east along the Silver Road. In the distance he could make out the effigies of the Orcs and cursed them as he did every time he saw them. The Orcs had taken the Silver Road decades ago and it had been with a heavy heart that Thorgrim had decided to abandon the dwarven positions there; they simply hadn’t been strong enough at the time.

Thorgrim was diverted from his cursing by the arrival of one of his guard, who uncharacteristically looked rather nervous.

Thorgrim rocked back as if struck by a cannon.

THORGRIM: Grombrindal? The ancestor returns…if it is true. Lead me to him at once.

The King and the Ancestor

Thorgrim made his way to the throne room and beckoned to his guards to let the visitor in. What walked through the giant doors was the most remarkable sight Thorgrim had seen in his long reign. The White Dwarf had returned.

GROMBRINDAL: My Lord Thorgrim, I am Grombrindal, known as the White Dwarf and guardian of the Dwarven race. I offer you my service to smite our enemies and rebuild the Karaz Ankor.

THORGRIM: I accept. You have returned to us at a most fortuitous time. We are ready to strike back at our foes and even have the number to do so.

GROMBRINDAL: I know the blessings our gods have given you recently and that your numbers are almost beyond counting. It is no coincidence I have arrived; now is the right time to rebuild the Empire.

Plans for the Future

Thorgrim brought Grombrindal in to his inner circle and the war council he had recently set-up.

THORGRIM: Friends we are almost ready to strike back at our foes and we now have the White Dwarf alongside us to aid our efforts. I name Grombrindal the commander of our expeditionary forces and he will lead our troops on the ground. I will join him in time but there are many more preparations to be done first.

Gasps around the chamber greeted the news, both by the appearance of the White Dwarf and from a number of Lords who were hoping for the honour of commander themselves.

GROMBRINDAL: I am honoured my Lord. I want to strike back at the Grobi as soon as possible.

THORGRIM: I would normally counsel patience but the time is right to reveal at least some of our strength. Grombrindal, I task you with taking back the Silver Road by the end of this year. Take a small force to do and give us our first victories.

The Retaking of the Silver Road

Grombrindal’s gathered his forces quickly and struck like lightning at an the Bloody Spearz Orcs in the east led by the notorious Gnashark. The fight was a one-sided affair and the Orcs retreated as quickly as they could.

Grombrindal continued on to the old dwarven settlement of the Pillars of Grungi where a slightly tougher fight was in the offering. Gnashark’s retreating forces had joined up with the orc ‘garrison’, giving the orcs an advantage in numbers. It mattered little though and Grombrindal’s forces retook the old settlement.

As Grombrindal surveyed the settlement and set his warriors to make camp, a messenger approached and mentioned of a group of warriors who had approached and wished to speak to him. Intrigued, Grombrindal went to meet them.

WARRIOR: So it is true, you have returned. Praise to the Ancestor Gods.

GROMBRINDAL: Aye, it is true. Who are you warrior and what can I do for you?

WARRIOR: I am Drong, leader of the Warriors of Dragonfire Pass and we wish to fight alongside you.

GROMBRINDAL: The more the merrier Drong. There are enough Grobi to go round for everyone.

With reinforcements, Grombrindal advanced on to Mount Squighorn and the end of the Silver Road. Again resistance was minimal and the settlement was taken. It had taken Grombrindal less than three months to reclaim what had been lost for nearly 50 years.


Karaz Ankor had for a long time been merely a myth rather than reality. Dwarven Kings went their own ways and barely paid allegiance to the High King; this was going to change. Thorgrim didn’t want to coerce the holds though, he wanted them to see the might and splendour of Karaz Ankor reborn so that would pledge full allegiance to the empire.

Starting this, across the first year, Thorgrim sent his emissaries out to Barak Varr in the west and Zhufbar in the North. He wanted these two holds in the empire as soon as possible. As successful starts, both holds signed formal alliances with Karaz Ankor before the year was out.

As well as diplomatic rebuilding, actual rebuilding of the old settlements on the Silver Road began apace. Both the Pillars of Grungi and Mount Squighorn were re-populated and rebuilt over the rest of the year to be defensible and useful outposts to Karaz-a-Karak.

A Good Year

Grombrindal was recalled to the capital for the end of the year to begin planning for the next campaign.

THORGRIM: We have barely begun our plans and already we have had an excellent year. The Silver Road is ours again and relationships with our nearby kin are strong. Where do we go from here…


The end of a good year

Total War: Warhammer II – Mortal Empires – Karaz Ankor Reborn – Intro

I’m a little bit in love with Total War: Warhammer 2 and particularly the Mortal Empires DLC. Being able to have almost all of the Warhammer Races together in a campaign has been a hell of a lot of fun; particularly when I’ve had races face off against one another who you wouldn’t normally get to. The best example was a Dwarf vs Dark Elf battle towards an end game of one campaign; suffice to say the Dark Elves were annihilated.

After my failed turn by turn account of a doomed Dark Elf Campaign a while ago, I’ve decided to revisit the idea but with a significant twist. The idea is to tell a campaign via the medium of a story (probably an awfully written one) – this will hopefully be a lot more entertaining than a dry turn-by-turn account.

I’m going to do this with the Dwarfs because they are by far my favourite race and I can probably muster up a lot more enthusiasm for doing it through the. After a lot of thought, I’m going to say that each year equates to 12 turns; this isn’t an exact science but it gives the best approximation for time. For those who are interested, I’m playing vanilla (i.e. no mods) with a starting legendary lord of Grombrindal.

Anyway, here it goes and to start we have a little bit of a prologue…


Karaz Ankor Rising

High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer had ruled for over 200 years; a time of particular conservatism and stagnation in the Dwarven Empire, the Karaz Ankor…at least to outside eyes. More ancient holds had fallen and the empire was fractured, this much was true, but something remarkable was happening at the same time.

The beginning of Thorgrim’s reign had coincided was a dramatic spike in the birth rate; something unheard of in previous times. Part of this was the increase in the proportion of females being born; dwarven females had only ever made up a small proportion of overall dwarven numbers in previous times. Twins and even triplets were also being born, substantially increasing the population. The result was that Karaz-a-Karak was astonishingly becoming near full to capacity.

This had been kept from outside eyes, a decision Thorgrim had made to lull enemies in to a false sense of security. When the time was right, the dwarfs would burst forth and take back what was theirs. That time was near at hand…

Gaunt’s Ghosts – A Book Guide – Part I

Gaunt’s Ghosts is by far my favourite series from the Black Library.  I enjoy series such as the Horus Heresy and The Beast Arises, but if I want guaranteed enjoyment, then Gaunt’s Ghosts is to where I turn.

I started reading the series pretty much as soon as it came back, all the way back in 1999.  I remember reading the series through secondary school and in to sixth form, before taking a break during uni and then picking it up again in recent years.  It has taken me through some big moments in my life and it has a big place in my heart because of it.

It does help that Dan Abnett is an excellent writer and I can’t really think of a novel of his that I haven’t enjoyed.  His story-telling is brilliant and the characters are probably the best set in any of the Black Library Series.  I often read the books all in a row and can find myself using Feth as a curse word in the real world when I’m in the midst of reading them; no other book/series has ever had such an effect on me!

With the release of the next in the series, The Warmaster, I thought now would be a good time to go through the series book-by-book and give my thoughts on recommendations on each of them.  Part I takes us through the first two story arcs of the Founding and the Saint.


Book 1 – First and Only

I believe the title as a bit of a joke as this was the first Black Library novel…and potentially the First and Only!  They picked a good book and author to have first though and obviously the Black Library has produced a hell of a lot of books now.

The book itself would be an excellent stand-alone Imperial Guard story.  We have elements of trench warfare, a blood feud between commanders, the inquisition and a potentially horrifying secret at the end.

The book doesn’t necessarily make you care about the characters as much as any of the other books, but that is understandable with most of the characters being fairly underdeveloped at the time – that is except for Gaunt.  He is front and centre of the book and his past is delved in to, giving you a real idea of why he is who he is, as well as his motivations.

As an introduction to 40k literature, First and Only is a great starting point.


Book 2 – Ghostmaker

If First and Only could be a standalone book, Ghostmaker can only ever really be part of a series.  The book takes a different approach to the first, with a series of short stories each about a main character.  The device is clever with interspersed between each story a short section following Gaunt as he wanders the trenches, meets each of the characters and then thinks about their past actions.  It gives the needed the depth to get the series going, with characters that you begin to care about in coming books.  The end story is then more traditional with all of the characters involved and a final interesting twist at the end.  Overall it is a must-read book to get in to the series and begin to care about characters you will start to love over the next few books.


Book 3 – Necropolis

Necropolis is one of my personal favourites and I’ve read it numerous times.  The story is essentially a siege, holding out against all hope and numerous tales of heroism.  The story takes place in the city of Vervunhive and is the tale of its war against Zoica, a hive city that is been corrupted by chaos.  The first part of the book doesn’t even feature the ghosts, with the tale being told of the opening shots of the war, with consequences for people throughout the city, from low-born to high-born.  It also looks at the politics of the city and its hidebound approach to tackling problems; this will have consequences later on.  The Ghosts arrive in the next part, with not long after the walls of the city start to be assaulted.  From here on in it is an epic tale of the defenders holding out, whilst Gaunt becomes embroiled in the politics of the city and with his fellow imperial guard commanders.  The final part of the assault on the enemies command centre and the final duels is a fitting finale for the story, with a nice little twist at the end that means the series can continue for a fair while yet.  Overall I love this book and you could legitimately read it as a stand-alone epic siege story, though in the context of the series it is also very important.


Book 4 – Honour Guard

Honour Guard begins the second story arc of Gaunt’s Ghosts – the Saint.  The Ghosts find themselves on the world of Haiga where Saint Sabbat originated from; thus its significance to both Imperials and Chaos is huge.  The world has been taken by Chaos and the Ghosts are part of a liberation force.  All goes well until a disaster, leaving Gaunt in disgrace and one final mission to save face.  Events occur that result in another against-all-odds battle and the chance of salvation at the end.

The book sees the introduction of the new Verghast recruits in to the regiment and they are a welcome dose of extra character and colour in to the series.  It also introduces a new commisar, Viktor Hark, who in later books has become one of my favourite characters.  My highlights for this book are the wounded wagon crew, with Corbec and Bragg really shining through, as well as the epic tank battle in the middle section.


Book 5 – The Guns of Tanith

The Guns of Tanith takes a very different approach to the previous books, with the focus instead being on the Tanith’s excellent scouting abilities, as well as their fairly unorthodox approach to war.  The story takes place on Phantine, a world where all the cities are above cloud level due to the toxic atmosphere.  This means the only way to attack is from the sky, with obvious potential hazards.  The first half focuses on the assault on Cirenholm, with the Ghosts managing to crack the city due to their specialist skills.  The second half sees small teams of Ghosts being sent in to the enemy stronghold of Ouranberg to assassinate the enemy commander.  There is also an excellent sub-plot with Gaunt being accused of favouring the Tanith over the Verghast’s, with a criminal trial proving the point.  The dynamic between Gaunt and Hark in this is particularly excellent.  For the main story, the use of the small teams gives a real focus on particular characters and really fleshes some of them out, particularly Bonin and Mkoll.   The novel also sees the introduction of the Phantine Air Corps, who get their own spin-off novel in Double Eagle.  Overall it is a good story, if not one of the best.  It does keep the series moving though and is probably most crucial for the story of Larkin and Cuu…

Book 6 – Straight Silver

This book has recently become one of my favourites, with its overriding theme of melancholy particularly appealing.  The Ghosts find themsleves on the world of Aexe Cardinal, where a WWI-esque conflict is taking place.  The conflict has been trench warfare for decades with no real hope of a breakthrough.  The Cardinal command hope that the Imperial Guard can make the difference, though they are seen more as new toys than anything else.  Gaunt finds himself frustrated with how he is subservient to local commanders and that his troops are used as front-line grunts.  He eventually gets the Ghosts used to their strengths but only half of them; one half stays on the front-line and the other is sent to scout out an impenetrable forest.  With the front-line there are some interesting tales with the conflict between Dorden and Gaunt particularly well-done.  There is also a better exploration of certain characters, including Daur, Zweil and Criid, though my favourite here is the local liaison Count Golke.  In the forest it is mainly about the ongoing feud between Cuu and Larkin, but each of the characters in this part get a lot of ‘air-time’.  Gutes is my personal favourite with his war-weariness, but Feygor, Muriel and Mkvenner also being very interesting.  There are no glorious battles in this book but it is an excellent story and exploration of characters, as well as moving forward the story-arc around the Saint.

Book 7 – Sabbat Martyr

Sabbat Martyr brings us back around to a last-stand story, similar in a way to Necropolis.  The Ghosts are on Herodor, where Saint Sabbat has supposedly been re-born again.  As such, this makes the world a huge target for the forces of Chaos and has to be reinforced and defended.  Unfortunately for Gaunt, in charge of the world is Lord General Ludo, who tried to have Gaunt disgraced in Honour Guard.  The Saint initially turns out to be false but during a relatively minor assault by the enemy, she does appear and leads them to victory.  Although the initial attack is beaten off, huge enemy reinforcements appear and wipe out the battlefleet cover, before landing on the planet.  As part of the invasion force there are nine specialists sent to kill the Saint, in mimicry of the nine wounds that originally killed her.  Each specialist moves in but our countered at each turn by the Tanith, until the final battle where treachery occurs and almost succeeds.

This book is a very easy read and shows the Tanith at their best; against all odds but also using their specialist skills.  I particularly enjoyed Milo’s confusion and being taken as a sidekick by the saint, as well as Mkoll’s duel with the Dark Eldar and the Blood Pact Sniper that is beaten at his own game by the Tanith Marksman.  I was also particularly pleased to see the return of Kolea; he was too good of a character to write off so soon.  The book very neatly closes of the story arc of the saint and is probably the final book that I would consider a very easy read.  That isn’t to say the next ones aren’t good, it just means they are more mature, and are probably more rewarding for it.

The Death of Malekith

Ok, so not the actual death of Malekith, just killing him from my point of view.  Due to neither the game itself or the blog posts being interesting I’m canning this.  I was trying to do turns 31-40 but frankly I lost the will to live.

I think it might just be that I neither like Dark Elves or enjoy playing as them in TWW2.  I can’t escape the feeling when playing as them that I would be having a lot more fun as one of the other races.  I don’t think I’ll go back to playing them casually either – I’ve found Lizardmen and High Elves significantly more fun.

So that’s the end of that…but I will try something new when Mortal Empires is released.  I’m thinking it might involve short people with beards and maybe an attempt at dramatising it a bit.  That’s the plan anyway…

Total War: Warhammer 2 – Dark Elves Playthrough – Turns 21-30

Last time we were with Malekith, he wasn’t having the best of times.  A rebellion at home, a surprise attack by Chaos Marauders in the West and an enemy that is too strong to defeat quickly in the North-East.  Let’s hope the next 10 turns go better…


Turn 21

Arspeth continues his sea adventure but doesn’t come up with anything this turn.  Crovass begins raiding Ghrond for some much needed extra income.


Malekith advances on Shroktak Mount again and after an easy fight, razes it to the ground.  Next stop is Rackdo Gorge to the West.


Turn 22

In the off-turn, my allies at Hag Grae are attacked by a beastman tribe and I agree to come to their aid.


Malekith advances towards Rackdo gorge.  Arspeth chances upon a skull reef, giving a cool 10000 gold.


In diplomacy news, I manage to negotiate a non-aggression and trade pact with the Scourge of Khaine, the Dark Elf faction currently encroaching on the North of Ulthuan.


With my new found wealth I start building a Harpy Roost at Naggarond, which when built will give me access to Harpy’s; useful but weak flying troops.  I also start upgrading the barracks which will give me access to bolt thrower and black ark corsairs.


Turn 23

In the off-turn, rather surprisingly a beastman herd ask for cash in return for joining our war against the Mung.  As tempted as I am, I refuse.  The Mung then ask for peace.  After a lot of deliberation I decide to accept so I can concentrate on taking out Ghrond and working towards the actual objective – the Vortex!


With peace against the Mung now in force, I begin moving Malekith east towards Ghrond – it will take a few turns to get there though.  There is no change for any of my other forces.


I also start building the Altar of Khaine at Naggarond – this will give me access to Witch Elves in time.  Finally I start building Black Roads at Har Kaldra – this will give a lot of bonuses, including growth, income and better movement range for armies starting in the region.


Turn 24

The off-turn brings another cry for help from Hag Graef as they are yet again assaulted by a beastmen herd.  I accept though I’m not sure I’ll actually get around to helping them.


Malekith continues east.  In Kaelra I start upgrading the capital.


For want of anything else to do, I decide to perform the Scarifice to Mathlann – this will give me access to a Black Ark – essentially a floating city. 20171012115551_1


I then go to Naggarond to recruit the Black Ark.  The Ark can provide supporting bombardment from the sea, has its own building chain and can recruit troops.  I plan on sending it to Ulthuan to cause some mischief.


Turn 25

The research of Exploit Feuds completes giving me a +1 public order bonus everywhere.  I then start the Chartered Piracy research that will reduce Corsair upkeep and give a bonus for sacking settlements.


Malekith continues east, the Black Ark leaves port towards Ulthuan and Arspeth finds a Shipwreck, giving 2500 gold and bonus experience.


Rather strangely Ghrond has left their capital without their main force, though I suspect a trap if I lay siege to it.  I decide to send Corvass in between the two Ghrond cities and to continue raiding; if their main army wants to attack me it is welcome to.  If they don’t then when Malekith arrives, they won’t stand a chance.


I finish by upgrading the crafting district which will give me some extra income in a few turns.


Turn 26

The Skaeling offer peace in the off-turn and I gladly accept.


Without realising it, by building the Altar of Khaine I complete a mission, giving 500 gold and 7 scrolls.


Unfortunately, my western province is on the brink of rebellion so I bolster Velicion’s very small army there with a few extra troops.


Malekith enters Ghrond territory and will be able to deal with the capital in the next turn.  Arspeth finds some fell cargo giving a few minor bonuses.  The Black Ark continues east.


Turn 27

My western province erupts in rebellion and I realise Velicion doesn’t have enough manpower to deal with it.  I leave her at the Altar of Darkness with a large garrison and hope that the enemy is stupid enough to attack.


Malekith attacks the Ghrond capital with Corvass’ support and the settlement is easily taken.  This gives 2000 gold and 13 scrolls from a completed mission.  It also means I can soon build a special building (Temple of Hekarti) that will give me 10 scrolls every turn.



Next turn I’m going to move to extermine the Ghrond faction.


Turn 28

I start building the Temple of Hekarti in Ghrond and then send Malekith to encircle Ashrak, the remaining Ghrond settlement – which also has quite a large army backing it up.  Malekith is backed up by Corvass and decides to assault the city.  With two full stacks the battle is over pretty quickly and Ghrond is no more.


With Ghrond gone, my only immediate threats are some rampaging beastmen to the south and the Mung in the North.


Arspeth finds Remnants of a Battle, giving a minor magic item and a nice little boost to growth and income for 6 turns.  The Black Ark also finds Remnants of a Battle, also giving a few little bonuses.


I finally bolster Velicion’s forces, in anticipation of confronting the rebellion.


Turn 29

The turn begins with Velicion at the Altar of Ultimate Darkness under siege by the rebellion.  I hold my nerve and decide not to attack.  I leave Corvass to garrison the new found province of Ghrond and move Malekith south with the intention of taking out the rebellion and then dealing with some marauding beastmen in the south.


I notice on the east of the Dark Lands another norscan tribe, the Aghol.  I decide to send the Black Ark towards them and build up a small army.  I will then start attacking them and taking their settlements…that’s the plan anyway.


Turn 30

In the off-turn, Malekith’s mother (Morathi) offers a defensive alliance which I gladly accept.


Quite possibly the most boring turn so far with nothing happening beyond a few army movements.  Malekith should be able to relieve Velicion in a couple of turns time.



The situation is stabilised and Ghrond was taken out.  Despite the small rebellion in the west, things aren’t too bad.  My next moves are to take out the local norscan tribes.


Next time I’ll do a screenshot of the strategic map at the start to give a good overview of where things stand overall.

Total War: Warhammer 2 – Dark Elves Playthrough – Turns 11-20

Carrying on from last week’s first 10 turns, what will happen to Malekith and his armies of murderous Dark Elves?  With my skills, I’m sure I can conjure up a disaster in the not too distant future.


Turn 11

Things start well with a nice 300 gold bonus for accepting a military access agreement with my neighbours Hag Graef to the South.  My research of Continuous Slave Supply also completes, giving me extra income from ports and more potential captured slaves after battles.  My Plateau of Dark Steeds and the upgrade to the capital of Kaelra are completed.  At least I can now recruit some decent cavalry.

I continue building Corvass’ army and probably for the last time.  Toth carries on exploring without any luck.  Malekith’s siege continues.

The hunting lodge at Kaelra begins upgrading and I start building a Den of Outlaws that will give me access to some Vanguard units when built.

I finish off by starting to research Battle as Business which will give some post battle and raiding income bonuses.


Turn 12

During the off-turn, the Norse tribe of Skaeling’s, far to the east, declare war on me.  I’m not particularly worried about that but I will deal with them later for their insolence.

The crafting district in Hal Kaldra completes, giving me some extra income.

Malekith’s siege continues and now only 4 turns until the Skaven start running out of food.  Toth reaches the far North-East of the map and starts to make his way South.  Corvass makes his way towards the city of Ghrond in the North-East where there is the potential to start producing 10 scrolls a turn.  Unfortunately it is held by a particularly large army of non-too-friendly Dark Elves from the Ghrond faction.  I think I might do some raiding next turn and try to draw them out. 20171006084300_1


Turn 13

In the of-turn, my allies at Har Ganeth in the East ask me to declare war on Ghrond; I happily accept – I was going to do so myself soon anyway.  Clan Septik also offer me gold for peace but that is firmly rejected.

The Den of Outlaws is completed and I recruit a couple of Shades for Corvass who has retreated to Naggarond.  There is nothing to report from Toth and Malekith’s siege continues as before.


Turn 14

In the off-turn, my allies at Har Genth are attacked by the Deadwood Sentinels faction and the Mung Noscans and I agree that I will come to their aid due to our defensive alliance.  I’m also offered a defensive alliance by Hag Graef which I accept.  Har Ganeth then offer me a full military alliance which I also accept – my southern and eastern borders are now fully secure.  I also find out that the Shadowgor Warherd have declared war on me – I now have total of 6 factions that I’m at war with!

The hunting lodge at Kaelra is completed, giving me a bit more income.

Malekith’s siege continue but Toth finally finds something!  He finds some sunken booty that includes an Ogre Blade (+8% weapon strength) and some lost cargo (a 6 turn bonus of growth and income).  Crovass enters Ghrond territory and I set him to ambush in case the Ghrond stack comes out for a fight.


Turn 15

The off-turn brings Hag Graef offering a full military alliance which I accept.  The Shadowgor Warherd then offer me peace and would give me 300 gold for the privilege! I happily accept.  The Skaeling then assault Toth on the sea and he doesn’t stand a chance.


Battle as Business research is completed and I start Driven by Vengeance; this will eventually reduce recruitment costs for basic units.  The Naggarond province has grown enough that I can upgrade a capital building and I do this in the capital of Naggarond.

I recruit a new lord to replace Toth – this time it is Arspeth who is a strategist, giving them a +5% campaign movement range.  This also gives me a bonus of +4 scrolls due to completing a small quest.

I set Corvass to raiding in Ghrond, giving some income and extra slaves.  Malekith’s eternal siege carries on.


Turn 16

The turn starts with a Chimera Frenzy, meaning that Kaelra will suffer -4 public order for 3 turns.

Arspeth starts his sea adventures and Corvass continues his raiding.  Malekith waits patiently for the final time…


Turn 17

The off-turn brings Ghrond seeking peace and I don’t oblige.

Due to my woeful management of the Naggarond province, I am told there will be a rebellion next turn if I don’t do something.

First of all Corvass has a level up and I give him the route marcher trait with the campaign movement bonus.  I then move him back to Naggarond to deal with the inevitable rebel army that will appear.

Malekith finally assaults the Altar of Ultime Darkness.


I wouldn’t normally auto-resolve but this is an exception.  The outcome is never in doubt and Clan Septik are finally destroyed.  This gives a bonus of 2000 gold and 10 scrolls for completing a quest.  It also means Malekith gets a level-up and give him the Bladewind spell that will be good against blocks of infantry.  I recruit a few more units for Malekith and prepare to send him east to help deal with the imminent rebellion and then deal with Ghrond.

I finally recruit another Lord who will act as the garrison for the central provinces.  I go for Velicion – a Dreadlord with Sword and Shield, as well as the determined trait that makes them immune to psychology and gives a +3 leadership bonus.


Turn 18

In the off-turn the Deadwood sentinels ask for peace and I reject.  Ghrond also ask for peace and offer a bribe but again I reject.

The rebellion appears and thankfully it is a small one with only 6 units.  I send Corvass to deal with it.


The battle is over quickly but it gives Corvass some needed experience.  He levels up twice and I give him the Sadistic (+12 armour-piercing, +5 charge bonus and +3 melee attack) and the Sea Dragon (+5 armour) skills.

Malekith heads east towards Ghrond and Velicion starts to build a small army.


Turn 19

The Driven by Vengeance research completes and I next opt for Exploit Feuds – this will give a +1 bonus to public order.

The capital of Naggarond completes and I get a bonus of 1000 gold and 6 scrolls for this.  I then start upgrading the harbour and the marble quarry to help with my cashflow.  I also start upgrading the capital of Har Kaldra.

Just to my West I notice a Mung army closing in on the Altar of Ultimate Darkness and send Malekith back to defend the city.  I can’t leave my western flank open any more so I will get Malekith to start exterminating them.  I’d rather deal with Ghrond but there’s no point if I have nothing to defend my main cities with!

I leave Corvass to replenish his troops and Velicion to guard my Kaelra incase the Mung come that way as well.


Turn 20

The off-turn brings Ghrond again asking for peace and me again rejecting it.

The Mung start raiding me so I send Malekith to take them out.  The Mung flee but Malekith hunts them down and battle ensues.  The Mung only have a stack of 12 vs Malekith’s 20 so the fight is short (though incredibly satisfying).


After the battle I level-up Malekith with the Spiteful Conjuration skill that will reduce opponents armour when Malekith is casting.  I then send Malekith on to Shroktak Mount, a Mung settlement.  After auto-resolving it he sacks it, giving a fair amount of gold and slave bonuses – next turn I’ll raze it as the climate isn’t favourable.  Malekith again levels up and this time with the Word of Pain Spell that will significantly debilitate a foe.

Arspeth finds the surfacing of a Leviathan and takes 2500 gold.  Corvass again moves towards Ghrond with the intention of raiding.

Finally the Altar of Ultimate Darkness capital begins upgrading.



It has been an interesting 10 turns!  Although I haven’t achieved what I wanted (to capture Ghrond), I can console myself that I will soon be in a position to exterminate the pesky barbarians of Mung to the North and give myself another safe border.  Economically I’m fine, though I’m losing money each turn, I’m finding enough bonuses to sustain it.

Hopefully in the next 10 turns I can get rid of Mung and also begin to invade Ghrond and give me better access to scrolls and ultimately begin working towards one of the rituals.

Total War: Warhammer 2 – Dark Elves playthrough – the first 10 turns

Since its release, I’ve played a lot of Total War: Warhammer II (TWW2 for shortness) and it is one of the best games I’ve ever played.  So far I’ve tried playing as the High Elves and Lizardmen; both of which I’ve just about managed to win the campaign with.  As a test though I thought I’d try a game as one of the races that may not suit my playstyle, the Dark Elves.

The very rough plan I have is to 10 turns blow-by-blow per article.  Be prepared for me to make some awful decisions throughout though!


The Dark Elves

I know a fair bit about the Dark Elves from the lore; essentially that they are very angry Elves that feel slighted by the High Elves due to an age-old enmity.  Their units are a mix of ‘standard’ elf spear and bow (albeit crossbow) units, as well as some more exotic units like the witches and hydras.  The bonuses they have in TWW2 are:

  • Black arks – essentially floating cities that can also support during battles with bombardment
  • Slaves – providing economic bonuses whilst also reducing public order
  • Murderous Prowess – killing enough enemies during a battle will give all units a bonus

Their ultimate goal with regards to the vortex is to capture Scrolls of Kerarti to start the rituals required.


Choosing a Legendary Lord

There are two choices, either the leader of the Dark Elves Malekith, or his mother (I think) Morathi.  Malekith’s main bonuses are around reduced upkeep (50%) for some of the more basic units, whilst Morathi has diplomatic bonuses and spreads a lot of corruption.  I’m going for Malekith, mainly because he likes so incredibly badass!

Upon choosing him you get a little history lesson as to why Malekith is so angry and why the Dark Elves have become the way they are.  It is nice to have a bit of context to it all…and it makes me want to conquer Ulthuan!

(Quick note – I’ve not doing the introductory tutorial with Malekith)


Starting Situation

We start in the cold wastes of Naggaroth in the north-west of the map with just one settlement; the Dark Elf capital of Naggarond.  We already have a barracks and a dock, giving some good income and the ability to train some basic troops.  It also has Marble as a tradable resource;  when I can I’ll build the requisite building for this to start producing some tradable goods.

My one army has:

  • Malekith
  • 1 Black Guard of Naggarond – elite halberd infantry
  • 2 Dreadspears – basic spear infantry
  • 2 Darkshards – crossbows
  • 1 Reaper Bolt Thrower

To my south and north-east I have other Dark Elf Factions, to the immediate east is a ruined city and to the north-west are my immediate concerns, the Skaven of Clan Septik.  As per all legendary lords there is a small army of enemies nearby as well (also from Clan Septik).

My short-term goals are to improve Naggarond, take our Clan Septik and build a strong economic base.  In the long-term I want to conquer Naggaroth and invade Ulthuan.


Turn One

First of all I begin upgrading the capital building of Naggarond to level 2; this will give a much better garrison, more construction slots and some economic bonuses.

Instead of attacking the Skaven I also decide to recruit 3 more units to Malekith’s army, 1 Dreadspear and 2 Darkshards.

I also start researching a technology.  I have 3 options to choose from that will each unlock a small branch of options:

  • Driven by Vengeance – focusing on bonuses for ‘standard’ military units
  • Battle as Business – giving bonuses for more exotic military units
  • Founded on Tyranny – giving bonuses growth, public order and income

As Malekith is already giving some recruitment cost bonuses, I decide to go for Founded on Tyranny to kick-start my economy.

Finally I recruit another Lord, purely for the purposes of travelling the seas and finding lots of treasure.  This is a tip I’ve picked up from my previous playthroughs and it really makes a big difference to your economy and the magic items you find can also help in battle.  I choose a Dreadlord with Sword and Crossbow called Tothauthrak (I think Toth for short); he has a high loyalty level and he has the attribute Victious, giving his +3 in both melee defence and attack.

Finally I end the first turn!


Turn Two

Immediately I notice that the Skaven army that was nearby has either legged it or is lying in ambush.  Not to be deterred I march Malekith towards what I expect to be a Skaven held-town, Har Kaldra.

(Note – in-case you don’t know, Skaven settlements are hidden until you scout/encounter them, meaning you never truly know where they are)

Unsurprisingly the Skaven had retreated to Har Kaldra and Malekith engages in battle with them and the settlement’s garrison.  As you can see, it should be an easy battle that I could auto-resolve, though I’m minded to play as many battles as I can so I’ll take personal control of this one.


The army I’m facing is fairly light, mainly consisting of some clanrats (basic infantry), skavenslaves (even more basic infantry) and some slingers.  I’m mainly concerned about their lord but I’m sure Malekith can take him.

In deployment I array my spears and black guard in-front with the missile units behind, with Malekith in the middle of the front rank.  The skaven are very confident (or stupid) and advance straight towards me, so I decide to stay put and my bolt thrower starts incurring some casualties on them.  The darkshards then start opening fire and it becomes a bit of a massacre.  Their night runners try and outflank me but a diverted unit of darkshards starts cutting them down.  A fair few Skaven do make it to the main battle line but it isn’t really a contest.  With minimal casualties the battle is over pretty quickly.

With Har Kaldra taken, I get a little bonus for completing a quest (1000 gold and 8 scolls) and Malekith has levelled up.  I decide to go for the Route Marcher skill to make him a bit more mobile; something I’ve always found useful in the early game.  Har Kaldra has an Artisan’s House already, giving a bit of an economic boost so I decide to leave it in place.

In the meantime Toth finds a skull reef with an old vampire’s hoard nearby giving 10000 gold (!) and the armour of glittering scales (+3 armour, +3 melee defence and a passive ability making nearby enemies have -5 melee attack).  I give the armour to Malekith and Toth continues on his ocean adventure.

I also decide to do a little diplomacy and I find I’m already in a non-aggression and military access pact with the Dark Elf faction Har Ganeth who are in the east.  I decide to enter in to a non-aggression and trade agreement with Hag Graef to my immediate south, hopefully securing my border there.  Beyond that most other factions aren’t too keen on me so I leave it for the time being.


Turn Three

The first order of business is to give Malekith some more troops – this time 2 dreadspears and 1 darkshard.  This should be enough to take on any more Skaven and wipe out Clan Septik.

Toth continues without finding anything but I do recruit another Lord, this time to search our ruins.  I go for Dreadlord Corvass (Sword and Crossbow) who has the strategist trait, giving him a +5% campaign movement range.


Turn Four

The capital building in Naggarond is completed, giving me a 500 gold bonus and some empty building slots.  I first of all start upgrading the barracks to level two and then I also start building a marble quarry and slave pens.  The latter two will give me some economic bonuses and they aren’t wasted slots where the buildings could be built in lesser settlements.

I send Corvass in the direction of the Great Arena abandoned settlement to the east and he should reach it next turn to do some treasure hunting.  Toth again finds nothing.

Malekith marches towards another expected Skaven settlement to the west – Kaelra.  Capturing this will give another trading resource.



Turn 5

The first research completes, giving me +10 growth in all provinces.  I then select Continuous Slave Supply that will take 6 turns and will give some economic bonuses.

Toth continues with luck but Corvass reaches the Great Arena for some treasure hunting.  He finds some trapped people and in true Dark Elf fashion tries to blackmail them for their freedom.  It works pretty well and 1000 gold is added to the treasury, as well as a bonus of 500 gold and 6 scrolls for completing a mission.

Malekith reaches Kaelra and unsurprisingly finds Clan Septik there – battles ensues, although Malekith again has the upper hand in terms of the forces at his disposal.  It is another walkover but on a side note, the battlefields look pretty amazing.  I love the ramshackle Skaven structures on this one.


With Kaelra taken I now control all of Naggarond province, giving me the ability to issue a commandment.  I issue the Demand Highborn Hostages, giving +4 public order as it is quite low at the moment.  I also get a 500 gold reward for taking the province.  I also level up Malekith, upgrading his Chillwind skill.  Finally I tear down the barracks at Kaelra as there is already one at Naggarond capital.


Turn Six

First up I get a 500 gold bonus for issuing a commandment, giving me over 20000 gold in total!

I was going to colonise the Great Arena with Corvass but my allies Har Ganeth have already taken it.  To secure the border I make a trade agreement with them and enter in to a defensive alliance.  I send Corvass back to Naggarond where I will then build up an army around him.  In the meantime Toth continues to explore but still without any luck.

On the building front, the improved barracks and marble quarry are built.  I upgrade the marble quarry, as well as building a hunting camp in Kaelra.  Finally I decide to upgrade the capital of Har Kaldra to open up some more building slots.

Finally I recruit some more troops for Malekith, this time 2 Bleakswords (unsurprisingly they are sword infantry) and another unit of Darkshards.


Turn Seven

Corvas returns to Naggarond and I begin to build a proper second army.  Toth still finds nothing!

All that remains is to march Malekith towards the Altar of Ultimate Darkness, both the final Clan Septik settlement and the potential for building a special landmark when I take it.

During the end turn, I do sign a non-aggression pact with another Dark Elf faction, this time Karond Kar who are quite far away from me.  With any luck I can start confederating with other Dark Elf Factions in the medium-term.


Turn Eight

I continue building up Corvass’ army and Toth continue to be useless.  Kaelra’s capital begins an upgrade.

The most interesting part though is Malekith’s assault on the Altar of Darkness.  The Skaven hoard is numerous so I decide to encircle it, either enticing the Skaven to attack me or I’ll starve them out.


Turn Nine

Corvass’ forces continue to build up and Toth carries on without reward.  Har Kaldra’s capital has been upgraded so I upgrade the Artisan’s House to a crafting district and start building a Plateau of Dark Steeds that will soon give me access to cavalry.  Malekith continues his siege.

In the meantime, beastman have started raiding my territory; hopefully Corvass can deal with them when he has a sufficient force.


Turn Ten

Corvass’s army continues to grow and Toth continues on.  Malekith’s sige continues as well.



A good start with Naggarond taken and Clan Septik on its last legs.  Future steps are to build up a proper second army, build some elite structures for better units and then to start taking our Dark Elf Factions that aren’t too keen on me.  Once Naggaroth is secured, Ulthuan awaits!

Total War Warhammer II – Initial Thoughts

I’m always a little bit sceptical about glowing reviews of a game but for once, I am in total agreement with most people out there about how brilliant TW:W2 is.  I really enjoyment the first installment in the series but this is a big step forward.

There are a few reasons in my opinion as to why it is so good:

  • Uniqueness of each race
  • The campaign map and campaign features
  • The Story


Uniqueness of Each Race

In the first game, each race was unique but they were all on a fairly normal stereotype, e.g. dwarfs are good in defence and orcs are mindless attacking killing machines.  In contrast, in TW:W2, each race is completely different and I don’t think any of them really follow a stereotype.

I’ve spent most of my time playing as the High Elves and the Lizardmen so far.  Despite the quickness of the High Elves, they actually work really well as a defensive army.  This is mainly due to their amazing archers and bolt throwers, all arrayed behind a wall of spears, and then some swift cavalry and flying units to go round the flanks / from above.  If you are a beginner, or even a fan of dwarfs (blasphemy!) then the High Elves are probably the best faction for you to start as.

The Lizardmen are something completely different.  I found myself using them more like an over-powered orc army, supported by some competent skirmishers…and massive dinosaurs!  It doesn’t really suit my style of play but I really enjoyed attacking hordes of skaven with my saurus warriors and a pretty furious stegadon.  For pure enjoyment levels, the Lizardmen are a good choice.

I played a little bit as the skaven and where they really shine is their crazy war machines and ranged units.  They are quite annoying to fight against as they just keep coming back again and again…and again.  As for the Dark Elves, I’ve only really fought against them but I think they are probably the army to choose for more advanced players.  They seem to have a lot of non-traditional hybrid units, that make for a flexible army but probably quite difficult to balance correctly.


The Campaign Map

The map is brilliant, spanning four continents and a huge ocean.  It feels bigger than the Old World but I think in part, that is because each faction is using it more fully.  In comparison, the Old World had most of the south-west of it controlled by non-player factions that had no unique units.

My favourite game so far has been as the Lizardmen faction – the Last Defenders.  They start on the east side of the Southlands continent and already have fought skaven, orcs and the undead, whilst encountering/allying with high elves, wood elves, dwarfs and humans.

I’ve also enjoyed the rogue armies popping up – playing as Teclis for the High Elves, a human army of pirates came out of nowhere and almost took me out as I was recovering from a huge battle against some Lizardmen.  Although quite frustrating at the time, the battle was really enjoyable and the randomness of the event kept me on my toes in-case it happened again.

A small feature, but one greatly appreciated, is the shipwrecks throughout the sea areas.  There is a lot of sea to travel across and having these small little shipwreck events really break it up nicely.  I was lucky enough at one point to get a 5000 gold bonus from one of them that allowed me to quickly recruit some units to fight off an enemy incursion.


The Story

The final element that makes this such a good game is the story.  Having it as less of a sandbox and with an end game has given a real focus to this game.  The stress of defending your cities whilst performing a rite is worth it for the epic battles that often occur because of it.  Now I haven’t completed the game as any of the factions yet, but the end goal makes me actually want to finish the game; not something I would often do in the first game.



The game is epic and worth every penny.  I look forward to the Mortal Empires DLC to have the old sandbox experience, but I think I will still come back to this story-driven campaign even after that is released.  I hope the developers continue with the excellence that they have produced here, both for future DLC and for Total War: Warhammer 3.

Brewerism Review

My Dad and Brother had their birthday’s very recently and as their present, I took them both on a beer tour of Cheltenham through Brewerism (  We are all pretty big fans of beer, particularly craft ale, so I thought this would be a pretty interesting day out – we were not disappointed.

The Tour began at the excellent Brewhouse and Kitchen in Cheltenham’s Old Brewery Quarter.  It has a small micro-brewery within it that you can see working from within the bar area – they also brew some of their own beers from this that you can only get within their bars.

We met Shandin (our guide) and the rest of the tour group (a not too raucous stag party) and had a little intoduction to the day before the beers started to flow.  We were then introduce to three of the beers brewed on site:

  • The Crystal Rock Bitter – I’m not usually a fan of a Bitter but this was excellent and was one of my favourite beers of the days
  • Montgomery American-style pale ale – bursting with flavour and very pleasant
  • Colonel Jack IPA – a fairly standard english-style pale ale

Whilst still trying the beers we went over to the micro-brewery and Shandin gave us an excellent introduction to the brewing process.

Next stop on the tour was Wild Beer at Jessop House; for any previous readers of the blog, you might know that Wild Beer are one of my favourite breweries.   Here we were given a beer and food matching tasting session, but with very different beers to anything most of us had ever tried.  We had:

  • Wild Goose Chase farmhouse ale with gooseberries – a pleasant and easy drink, more akin to a cider than an ale.
  • Sourdough barrel-fermented berliner weiss fermented with sourdough yeast – an acquired taste! It is worth a try but don’t expect to be coming back to it regularly.
  • Millionaire milk stout with Cornish sea salt, caramel and cocoa nibs – I’ve reviewed this one before and was pretty glowing about it – it was as good as ever this time around

I’ll definitely be going back to Jessop House for a pint and some food.  To my shame I can’t remember the canapes we had alongside the beer, but in fairness I’d had a few drinks by that point!

Finally on the Tour we went to the best beer shop I have ever been to – Favourite Beers.  We were treated to the Pershore Pale Ale which was very nice, and then one of the on-top beers each.  The three of us chilled out in the seating area for quite a while and bought a couple more beers to drink-in.  We all bought a few to take home as well, with an incredible selection to choose from.  If you live in or anywhere near Cheltenham and like beer, this is a shop you have to go to.

Overall the Brewerism Tour was brilliant and just the kind of thing that the three of us enjoy.  I would recommend this for small groups but don’t go expecting a pub crawl – this is a much more refined and civilized experience, and all the better for it.

Quinta De Azevedo Review

Last weekend we tried a Portuguese Vinho Verde for the first time.  We got ours from Majestic and it was the 2016 Quinta de Azevedo coming in at 11.5%.


The label is quite traditional and the aromas we got were citrus and an almost indefinable strawiness, a bit like a chardonnay.  Trying it on its own, it had hints of sharp pineapple and other tropical fruit; it wasn’t bad but not great either.  We then had it alongside a curry and the flavour was improved, with the wine cutting through the spiciness quite well.


Overall the wine was fine but not great.  I wouldn’t buy again but this is more due to better alternatives being available than anything else.