There is such a thing as a dwarf ranger, but they’re viewed with suspicion. In dwarf society, all that sun and fresh air is considered bad for your health. So the idea of taking an army from the cool, comforting holds of the World’s Edge Mountains all the way to the westernmost part of the Mortal Empires map in Total War: Warhammer II is a fool’s errand. Only a wazzock would contemplate such a thing. I’m proud to say I am that wazzock.
First, I need to pick a goal. I choose the Fallen Gate, a savannah settlement on the western fringe of the map with a climate inexplicably suitable for dwarfs. This involves a bit of planning, which feels like cheating, but it’s a necessary concession. In my head, it’s an ancient dwarf myth: a new world suitable for the sons of Grungni, where smooth stone sleeps under jungle fronds. There are other rules to establish. It would be easy enough to amass a huge force led by a powerful character and flatten whatever unsuspecting race we find holed up at our destination. But there’s no way High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer would take this journey; that would be like your racist brother-in-law holidaying further east than Great Yarmouth. Instead, he’ll stay behind and maintain our second objective: ensuring my capital, Karaz-a-Karak, stays out of wretched orc hands.
This is a travel diary, then, but we need to do some housekeeping. I must secure the local area, reclaiming The Pillars of Grunge and Mount Squighorn, then move east to take Mount Silverspear, an abandoned settlement that will serve as my starting point. I hope it isn’t infested with Skaven. I also have to upgrade my holds and amass the resources I need to recruit a competitive force. There’s no point crossing the entire map with an army of capering bearings only to fall short at the final battle.
I investigate Mount Silverspear. It is, of course, infested with Skaven. Flushing away their filth is easy enough, but it does mean I have to declare war on another faction. Not ideal. I recruit a new lord here, in line with rules one and two, but I’m not intending to retain control of this area. The dwarf leading my expedition is Yardi Growlsh. He’s solid, simple, reliable. The Volvo of fantasy figureheads. He sets off from Mount Squighorn, knowing he’ll likely never see his home again (not least because the Skaven will take it back in about three turns). Axe slung over his shoulder, Yadri begins the long journey east, which, if I’m honest, will involve an extended stay at Karaz-a-Karak while I muster his throng. It’s something of a false start, then, but if the Fellowship can spend months at Rivendell, Yadri’s allowed to linger at Everpeak while his army assembles.
HIKE AND SHOT
Like packing to go on an extended city break, I’m being extra cautious. But instead of including spare chinos and wrapping everything in tissue paper, I’ve decided to take two cannons. Nobody of sound mind would drag a cannon across the entire map. So imagine how surprised my enemies will be when I turn up with two. It’s genius. I give them runic dwarven names I probably shouldn’t share because a) it’s against dwarf laws to translate Khazalid and b) I don’t want you to wedgie me, but here goes: Rinn Vengryn (‘Lady Vengeance’) and Dal Gnol (‘Old Reliable’). I built a brewery during my period of consolidation, which lets me recruit Bugman’s Rangers. On the long, parched journey that lies ahead, I like to think these ale-swigging dwarves will offer a taste of home for our intrepid heroes. My army is rounded off by The Growlsh Grumblers – a unit of moaning Longbeards who don’t really want to go on the journey but are dragged along to keep the bearings in check.
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