Here I am!
First things first, those curtains simply have to go. Sadly, despite being a badass fighter with a +2 ring of swordsmanship, Balthus can't lead his armies in person because he is killed by sunlight. This is merely the first stitch in the emerging pattern of flawed, doomed generals I have at my disposal.
Thanks to his acute photodermatitis, Balthus is stuck at home for the entirety of the Trolltooth Wars (not unlike his opposite number, the weedy Zharradan Marr, who hides in a mirror then hides the mirror). This means I will be relying on my Hill Goblin general, Foulblade. Oh fudge. According to the background material both armies feature broadly similar troop types and will have available, even if only in limited numbers, anything the opposition has. This doesn't mean the armies are without flavour though, quite the opposite in fact.
Grrrr! Hill Goblins are actually a little better than downtrodden, Warhammer Gobbos, thankfully.
So, in a nutshell, the best bits to game will be the raids and battles. Possibly there could be some worth in playing out Chadda Darkmane's story too.Here then are the basic scenarios as I see them.
1) The ambush on the cunnelwort caravan, followed by the Night Shadow attack on the returning Hill Goblins.
Fortunately the book is fairly clear on force strengths throughout. There are 38 human warriors protecting Marr's cunnelwort caravan, they are mistaken for Strongarm mercenaries but in fact some of them are Legionaries. One of them is a mounted Strongarm Captain and the entire force is led by Donnag Kannu, another human. Kannu is driving a wagon with the cunnelwort on so he is probably extra to the 38 warriors, as would be several other caravan drivers and handlers.
Foulblade leads the ambush personally and is accompanied by his number two, Orcleaver. Foulblade has enough Hill Goblins to easily destroy the caravan and it's defenders.
The destruction of the caravan and it's guards should be assured (otherwise the war would likely never start) but Foulblade must not allow a single enemy to escape in order to win. If someone escapes Marr is warned and the war begins, while Foulblade later pays for this mistake with his life. If no-one escapes we will suppose an intervention by a meddling Zagor who informs Marr of Dire's involvement but Foulblade lives to fight another day.
On the way home, Foulblade's camp comes under attack by a Night Shadow. If this creature manages to get close to one of the Hill Goblin characters it will have severe consequences later on.
2) Thugruff's revenge raid on a Hill Goblin village in the Craggen Heights.
Thugruff has his two lieutenants, Krravaak the Rhino-man and Tankasun the one-armed Gorian, with him on this raid. They lead four Craggerack scouts, 80 'Soulless Ones' (particularly nasty Zombies) and some 'Mutes' (mutants) led by four horsemen. The Soulless Ones are on foot and the rest may be mounted.
Thugruff's column attacks a Hill Goblin village and razes it to the ground. At some point Dire's general (either Foulblade if he's still alive or the newly promoted Orcleaver if not) takes part in the battle, though he cannot save the village. We can presume he is in the area with reinforcements and investigates plumes of smoke which will make for an interesting sub-plot.
The village defenders would number around 30 or so, this being a reversal of the force ratio of the previous scenario, with the possibility of reinforcements late on.
Any characters on either side that get killed would be lost for future games and any Hill Goblins that survive may be added to Dire's army in the final battle.
While this is going on some of Marr's ghost-like Droomies infiltrate Craggen Rock and tempt away Dire's Ganjee allies. There doesn't appear to be any element of risk to this strategy in the novel and I can't think of any benefit to gaming this aspect of the story.
3) The raid on Coven by Dire's forces.
Another one-sided slaughter! The chance to gear-up to the final battle and collect the forces piecemeal is the main benefit of doing things this way, though I think it's fun to game the raids personally.
This time Dire's forces start to get wacky. The Spider-monsters and giant flies, the two-headed sycthe-wielding warriors and the hell-hounds, there is even a hell-demon in the picture! Orcs are present this time, as well as Dire's go-to guys the Hill Goblins.
The Marr player should have a reasonable number of Coven folk available and an escape route into Knotoak Forest. Any survivors can form a new regiment (of Landesturm if using WFB3) for Marr while dead Chaotics are not available later on.
Half the artwork depicting the Coven raid, a Russ Nicholson classic.
4) The blockade of Craggen Rock by Marr's legionaries, culminating in the devastating clash between the Sorq and the Ganjee.
Technically, none of this needs to be gamed. The novel describes the actions of both the Sorq and the Ganjee in absolute terms. As they are extremely powerful spirit creatures, what they attempt they achieve. When they meet they cancel each other out and get sucked back to their own dimension. The real joy of gaming the blockade would probably come from just re-enacting the small clashes and skirmishes between Dire's Hill Goblin patrols and guarded caravans against the aggression of Marr's legionaries and Undead.
Any victory conditions would revolve around Dire's supply situation. If he wins this phase of the war he will have more and better armed troops for the final battle, if he loses he will suffer a penalty!
5) The Battle of Trolltooth Pass.
Dire can muster 37 tribes of Hill Goblins, an unruly mass of Orcs, his Chaotics, some irregular 'Drone' units (made up of a mixture of Black Elves, Hill Barbarians, Calacorms and assorted other Chaos-worshipers), Eyeless Archers, Hell-hounds, giant insects and the Chaotics from the Coven raid. The Army is led by, well, whoever's left frankly. In the novel Foulblade is dead and Orcleaver is possessed by the Night Shadow. When Orcleaver loses consciousness at a key moment in the battle his number two, Blackscar, takes over. If gaming has gone very badly for Balthus' boys in preceding sessions there are two named and 34 unnamed Hill Goblin Chiefs to fall back on!
Marr has his Rhinoman phalanx, his disciplined legionaries, the Soulless ones, Daramouss' monsters and the formidable 'Galleykeep' guarded by fearsome Tooki. The army is led by Thuggruff and his cronies while Vallaska Roue is present on the Galleykeep, which is armed with cannon and potash bombs. The Galleykeep is largely untouchable so Darkmane will be Dire's best friend in this scenario!
The action mostly takes place in the bottom right quarter of the map.
Easily three or more gaming sessions there, more if you indulge the blockade's potential and add in Darkmane's story arc. This idea has been bubbling away in Thantsants mind for years now so I want to give it a fair crack of the whip. Except for a few giant insects/arachnids I have all the minis I need if I just paint up stuff I have lying around, which is tempting, but I want to go for a certain look obviously. What minis do you guys suggest? What ratio of actual forces to miniatures should we go for? What rules and stats would be best to represet hings like Rhinomen and two-headed scythe dudes?
Don't be shy, this project will need to be the fruit of many minds if it's to succeed properly.
*UPDATE* Thread on BLOOD forum now started, HERE! *UPDATE*
Thanks for stopping by!